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Showing posts from April, 2018

This Week In Vexillology #258

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I dug deep in the old flag reference guide this week, but I thought outside the box and I came up with a gem of a flag, so this week in vexillology, we're heading over to the Netherlands to take a look at the flag of Flevoland:
On the face of it, it doesn't seem like that big of a deal, right? It's a pretty basic flag. Three colors, green, blue and a nice little squiggle of yellow in the middle and a lily in the upper canton. But what makes the flag of Flevoland cool isn't the flag, it's the place itself.  The 12th and last province of the Netherlands it was incorporated in 1986, but what's crazy about it is that the land that makes up the province was only reclaimed in the 50s and 60s from where the Zuiderzee was.

Think about that for a second: a century ago, Flevoland didn't exist.

After decades of work, we ended up with this:
The current province of Flevoland has a population of just over 400,000. It's capital is Lelystad and it's largest city is…

Kidlit: Let's Talk About George's Marvelous Medicine

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The Elder Spawn and I are continuing to make our way through the collected works of Roald Dahl. We've gone through both Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and Charlie and The Great Glass Elevator. We've hit up some works of his that I wasn't as familiar with: The Giraffe, The Pelly and Me and Esio Trot (which the Beeb did a film adaptation of with some serious star power- Dustin Hoffman and Judi Dench- which kind of shocked me, because it's a short short book, but they managed it.)

Then we got to George's Marvelous Medicine.

Y'all. We should probably talk about this book a little bit. In a world where even Peter Rabbit can cause people to lose their damn minds, I will be shocked indeed if we ever seen so much as a television adaptation of George's Marvelous Medicine. It is, in the parlance of our contemporary vocabulary, somewhat problematic.

The kicker is, if you check out the wikipage for the book, it wasn't intended as such. Instead, it was a tribute…

Some Sprinklings of Good Ideas

There was a Vox article that was making the rounds on the Conservative blogosphere the other day that was getting the usual amounts of derision for being hysterical about President Trump, so I got curious and went to the source. And while the derision was somewhat well deserved, because yes, there is the usual sackcloth and ashes routine evident in the early 'graphs, but by the middle of the article, things start to get interesting.

I don't really accept the initial premise of the article, namely that President Trump is the chief symptom of a system that's badly broken. The system has been broken long before that and the rot keeps spreading because no one really wants to have a national conversation and sit down and talk about it. The ideas that made me sit up and pay attention:

1. Eliminate midterm elections by having the House, Senate and president serve concurrent four year terms. Meh. I love the idea of extending the House term to four years though... I feel like two is…

Albums2010 Musings: On Pulitzers

So. Kendrick Lamar's album DAMN. won the Pulitzer Prize last week and there was the predictable out pouring of the usual mixture of 'yassssss' and 'why?' I was surprised because well, I didn't know there was a Pulitzer Prize for Music and because honestly, I hadn't realized that it had taken this long for a hip-hop album to win it.
Looking back at the Albums2010 archives, I was kind of surprised to see some hip-hop pop up here and there. In general, it's not really a genre I connect with, but in many ways, I treat it the same way as I do country. When I hear something I like, I like it. That's lead me to discover groups like Atmosphere, Eyedea, Talib Kweli and Hieroglyphics along the way, but I still wouldn't consider myself an expert enough to talk about hip-hop in any sensible way. I had looked at DAMN. before, toying with the idea of reviewing it, but it's an important album and I'm a white dude who's not that good at writing abou…

Netflix & Chill #42: Thor Ragnarok

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Watched On: DVD
Released: 2017
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Hopkins
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Pick: Mine

Thor: Ragnarok opens roughly two years after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron with Thor still searching for the Infinity Stones and trying to figure out what, if anything, is coming- because he's still convinced that something is. Haunted by visions of the climactic final battle of Ragnarok destroying Asgard, he is imprisoned by the fire demon Surtur in Muspelheim. Surtur reveals that Odin is no longer on Asgard and that Ragnarok is coming once Surtur unites his crown with the Eternal Flame that burns in the vault of Asgard. Thor, for his part, defeats Surtur and takes his crown, believing that he has prevented Ragnarok.

Thor returns to Asgard to find his brother Loki posing as Odin. Thor quickly unmasks Loki and forces him to help find Odin, whom Loki left on Earth. Returning …

This Week In Vexillology #257

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You know what I'm starting to realize? Canada has some really good flags. No, seriously. British Columbia is somewhere in my personal top ten list of all time favorite flags and a couple of provinces over, the more I look at the flag of Saskatchewan, the more I like it. Check this sucker out:
Adopted on September 22nd, 1969 after a province wide competition that brought in over four thousand entries, Mr. Anthony Drake of Hodgeville, Saskatchewan created the winning design. And to be honest, there's a lot to like about it. There's a minimal amount of colors (I know professional vexillologists out there get all up in arms about 'too many colors! there's too many colors!' but it doesn't necessarily bother me all that much.) and the design is minimal as well. A horizontal bicolor with two symbols on it makes this flag look pretty sharp.
Let's break it down.  The coat of arms was granted first as just a shield by King Edward VII in 1906, the rest was request…

Sportsyball: Wenger Finally Out

I woke up about two hours ago, sat up, rode that feeling of gathering consciousness as the blood in your body starts to rush downward with the forces of gravity, like a rain stick. Fighting through clouds of sleep, I grabbed the stack of clothes I had set aside the night before and staggered into the bathroom to take a shower. As is my usual, lamentable, habit, I glanced through Twitter quickly to make sure World War 3 hadn't started overnight while I slept. (You laugh, but when the Japanese Earthquake/Tsunami hit, I was asleep. That was a bit of jarring and sobering thing to wake up too.) But there it was: #MerciArsene, trending everywhere on the soccer Twitter.

The rumors that had been flying for weeks were apparently true. Arsene Wenger, who had been manager at Arsenal for 22 years, was retiring at the end of the season.

It's been two hours and I'm still honestly not sure how I feel about all of this. The narrative in the Arsenal commentariat seems to have shifted from,…

The Most Chaotic Timeline

I had a terrifying thought the other day. What if everyone's a little bit right?

No, seriously, think about it. We are, if the media is to be believed, in 'the end stages of the Trump Presidency' (also media: no, we're not.) The right wing internet has been waiting patiently with baited breath for the Inspector General's report on what exactly went down with the FBI, DOJ and the 2016 election. Each side is convinced that there's 'something' there, where ever 'there' is, but what if both sides find what they're looking for?

Seriously: what if everyone's a little bit right?

I'm no longer buying the Trump/Russia thing. It's entirely possible that I'm wrong about this, but I feel like unless Mueller is playing three dimensional space checkers, that ship has kind of sailed. While the administration does inexplicable things like stepping back from fresh sanctions, it's also been risking World War 3 with Russia by pitching missi…

Albums2010: The Archives

This project began eight long years and two blogs ago with this post. I'm going to finish it out next month on May 19th, exactly eight years to the day after it began with the very last album on my list. Some were lost to the Unfortunate Wordpress Experiment (that I really shouldn't have done to begin with and should have worked harder to archive all the stuff I wrote that year) but all in all, it's been one hell of a journey, I think.

Looking back at my blogging history, I've begun feature after feature and just sort of forgotten about it after awhile- this has been one of the few that have stood the test of time and gone the distance with me. There were many times when it's felt like a chore- there were many times when I've wondered why I'm even bothering to do this at all, since music just isn't my thing and I can't really get beyond, 'this album is good/great/excellent or bad/meh/terrible' when I review them. But, I persevered... so with…

This Week In Vexillology #256

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I really wanted to find the clip from that episode of The West Wing where White House Counsel Oliver Babish reveals he was planning on taking a vacation to Sarawak and the President promptly responds, 'Asia's best kept secret.' (It's Season 2, Episode 19 'Bad Moon Rising' if you want to watch it for yourselves. Just sort of imagine it instead of this paragraph, okay.)

So, as you might have guessed that This Week in Vexillology, I went back to the source of my flag obsession for inspiration and we're going to take a look at the flag of the Malaysian State of Sarawak. Before we get to the flag, we should probably ask the obvious question: where the heck is it?


Sarawak is situated on the northern chunk of the Island of Borneo- it's the red part. That little grey divot in it right at the top next to the white chunk of land is Brunei. The white chunk of land at the top of Borneo is the Malaysian state of Sabah. It's got an interesting history. From 1841 …

I'm Not A Zoo Exhibit, I'm A Dad

"Americans Love Seeing Swedish Dads Out With Their Kids."
I suppose my first mistake was clicking on the article to begin with, but props to Slate for actually acknowledging that it's something of a problem. What, oh what, is the genesis of this article? Well, apparently when Americans go to Sweden they see Fathers out and about with strollers, watching their kids on the playground and just automatically assume that all those men must by nannies of some kind.
There's so much garbage being written out there about the state of masculinity today on both ends of the political spectrum that it's hard to find anything useful buried under the mountains of shit, so I suppose I should open with the obvious one. I'm not a Nanny. I'm not a baby-sitter. Those are, in fact, my children and yes, I am their father. I'm not some kind of exotic zoo exhibit you can gawk and reading this article honestly made my jaw drop. Do people really think this when they see Dads o…

Embracing The Flaws

There's really nothing more gratifying than reading something you've written and realizing to yourself, 'hey, this isn't half bad.' I'm currently in the long, gentle process of giving my first two books a polish and it's strange how at peace I am with them all. Normally, I tend to be my own worst critic. I think a lot of people work that way- and not just people who write, but of late, I think I've kind of been giving myself a little bit of a break with these first two books.

How did my writing process for these books work? I'm not entirely sure I could tell. It just sort came out of me in a rush and when it was done I realized several things. First was, 'holy shit, I've got a lot of words on my hands' and second was, 'there's got to be a book under here somewhere.' Turns out there was- it just wasn't the book I expected to write, because much in the same way that Star Wars worked, for some reason the best part of the mou…

In Defense of The EPB

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You ever see those random articles on MSN and click on them? They're usually inoffensive, charming things like, 'BEST BURGER IN EVERY STATE' or 'The Best State Fairs According To The People That Go To Them.' If you're bored, you click on them, work your way through- or, if you're like me, check Iowa and then Minnesota and not much else- and then move on with your day. But one of these random MSN articles ticked me off a little bit ('The ugliest building in every US state, according to people who live there'), because not only did it label the English-Philosophy Building as an ugly building- but it labelled it 'The Ugliest Building In the State of Iowa.'
Whoa there, MSN. Them's fighting words, because I'm here to tell you: the EPB isn't even the ugliest building on the University of Iowa Campus, never mind in the whole damn state.
Before we get to why MSN is wrong and should just sit there in it's wrongness, we should also pr…

Netflix & Chill #41: Coco

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Watched On: DVD
Released: 2017
Starring: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Renee Victor, Ana Ofelia Murguia, Edward James Olmos
Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Pick: Mine

The Elder Spawn had been requesting to see this for awhile and to be honest, both the Missus and I were game for seeing it as well. We were talking about possibly going to see it in the theaters last fall, but we never managed to get that set up, so when I discovered that the Grandparents had it on blu-ray in their extensive collection downstairs, I snagged it and we gave it a watch. Spoiler Alert: it's a Pixar movie, so as per usual, they don't miss a beat.

In the town of Santa Cecilia, Mexico, Imelda Rivera was a wife of a musician who left her and their 3 year old daughter Coco to pursue his dream of fame in the world of music. He never returned, abandoning the family, so Imelda banished all music from her life and opened a shoe-making business instead.

Nearly a century later, her great-…

This Week In Vexillology #255

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Inspiration is sort of at a low ebb this week, so we're dipping back into the Lost Archives of the Unfortunate Wordpress Experiment and heading back over to Africa to take a look at the flag of Niger:
Before we start unpacking this flag, I suppose we should start with the obvious question: what's the deal with Niger? I mean, apart from a tangential involvement in some shady yellow cake deals over uranium that Bush The Younger's administration trumpeted as proof positive we needed to invade Iraq, it's not a country that's in the news a lot. (Granted, we live in America and you could probably say that about most countries in Africa. When you're busy turning local news into a right-wing propaganda outfit or just being terrible at your jobs, the media doesn't have a lot of room left over for solid international coverage of places like Africa.)

So, let's start with the basics. Where the heck is it?

Well, find Nigeria on your globe/Google Maps/Mapquest/atlas,…

Squawk Box: The Flash/Supergirl/Legends of Tomorrow

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It took me awhile to catch-up on the trio of CW superhero shows that I actually enjoy. (I tried Arrow, but I just... I can't get into it for some reason, so I settled on this trio.) The Flash remains a delight albeit a frustrating one after it's third season. I love the way that Grant Gustin portrays The Flash- he imbues the role with a sense of wonder and delight at what he can do that makes this show- when it's at it's best, a lot of fun to watch.

However, the third season...  oh boy. Despite being told by literally everyone in his life that it was a really, really bad idea to mess with time, what does Barry do to start the season? He goes back in time and saves his Mom, setting up the events of Flashpoint, which dominate the entire season and consist of Barry apologizing a lot for doing the boneheaded thing that everyone told him not to do. There's a big bad speedster in town (Savitar) and Cisco figures out that he's going to kill Iris, so most of the back …

The 100 Day Project

It's been a long, hard slog of a winter and I'm just tired of late. February always brings back memories. March was especially unkind this year, as we went from two dogs to zero dogs and then spent the last two weeks of the month suffering from some kind of seasonal plague that we're all only know starting to get over. I feel like this year needs a month or two to pry it up out of the mud and slap it back on the rails to get it going again, because man, do we need it.

So, when I saw the article for the 100 Day Project go by on Lifehacker, I was intrigued. "What," I thought to myself, "is this?" Turns out it's mainly an Instagram thing, where you can #100DayProject for any and all of your creative projects that you do. I don't know if I'll get to all one hundred days, but I feel like it's a good challenge to get my creativity flowing again as we move into the next season of the year.

I need this. I need something, I think. Between the win…

Bookshot #107: The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu

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The world today is grappling with the threat of terrorism on a global scale while never before, and while the human cost is horrifying enough, the damage to world history and culture can be almost as hard to watch. From the Buddhas of Bamiyan to the ruins of Palmyra the damage to the cultural heritage of the world incurred by terrorism has been high- so it's nice to read a book about ordinary people finding away to preserve and protect their cultural heritage from those that were seeking to destroy it.

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu tells that story. It begins in the 1980s, when a young man by the name of Abdel Kader Haidara began an effort to collect ancient manuscripts in and around Timbuktu (and really, all over Mali) to help preserve them in a government library. Many of these manuscripts had been passed down from generation to generation and were kept in trunks locked away in houses, basements and other dwellings. Timbuktu had been a center for learning, culture and especi…