Showing posts from January, 2020

Five Days Out: Some Caucus Thoughts

Look, if you've been following me on social media in any way, shape or form, it shouldn't come as a galloping shock to you that I'm planning on caucusing for Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar. I know she's the right choice for country and she'd make an excellent President. I'm not immune to the arguments about needing structural/radical change in this country, but I'm also tired of gridlock, I'm tired of Presidential candidates who promise the moon and can't deliver and I don't want four years of a Democratic President who governs with the pen, pisses everyone off and has it all undone in ten minutes or so as soon as the next Republican President is sworn in. I want an effective legislator. Someone who is going pass laws and if they can't accomplish the big things, at least they can move the ball down the field instead of going three and out by standing up and pontificating about 'principles' or 'ideology.' Most importan

Netflix & Chill #72: The Two Popes

Watched On: Netflix Released: 2019 Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Jonathan Pryce Directed By: Fernando Meirelles Rotten Tomatoes: Tomatometer 89%, Audience 89% Pick: Mine You don't really think about it, but technically we do have Two Popes at the moment. Granted, Benedict is officially a 'Pope Emeritus' but he's still alive and kicking-- so it's a historical moment that we haven't seen in centuries, back when there were Papal States and the whole papacy had a lot more political authority than it does now. But nevertheless: we've got two popes kicking around out there, and this movie serves as an interesting reminder of the weirdness of it all. It opens in 2005 when Cardinal Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce) is called to the Vatican to elect a new Pope following the death of Pope John Paul II. He receives the second highest vote count behind Cardinal Ratzinger (Anthony Hopkins) who is elected to the Papacy and becomes Pope Benedict. Bergoglio resign

This Week In Vexillology #300: A Cedar Rapids Flag Tease

Public voting doesn't start until April, but the Gazette yesterday gave everyone a little tease of some designs that had been submitted . I gotta say, the process seems a little convuluted: 218 design submissions so far (and why the Gazette didn't post all of them, I don't know- but they really should at some point!) and a group of professional graphic designers with a few members of the North American Vexillological Association are going to pull out common themes from their 218 designs for common themes and some how boil it all down to four final options for public voting. Obviously, until we see the Final Four options, you can't really pass judgement-- but there are some interesting designs in this tease that are worth looking at I think. Here's what stood out for me. This one: The 'graph that describes this one reads thusly: "Midnight navy combines with a vibrant deep sky blue to depict the contunal motion of the Cedar River, a pivotal landmark

Free Write Friday #16: Clarity/Survival

So, I'm really loving the whole Theme Thursday thing on r/writingprompts, so I figured, why not post my take on last week's theme and this week's theme for Free Write Friday. Hope you enjoy... Clarity Penny gripped the steering wheel in front of her and stared at the green and white sign of the grocery store. She had been here so many times over the years that she could find theplace by memory, driving on automatic with a sense of distractedness that would be alarming to her if she cared. This was their grocery store. It was closest to the house, an easy five minute drive, if that. The chaos of their life, raising the kids and running them around to all their activities meant that whether she meant to or not, this was where she would shop. She would run and get sushi or a whole grain artisanal pizza crust for a quick and easy dinner. When Rachel decided to be vegan for three painfully inconvenient months her sophomore year, this was the place with the food she would d

All These Caucus Takes Are All (At Least Partially) Wrong

Every four years at a certain point in the cycle, the inevitable chorus of media hot takes begins. Iowa, it's too white. Iowa, it's not diverse enough. Iowa, it's a caucus state. This year has proven to be no exception- though the takes on Twitter have reached a critical enough mass that I feel like a response is worth typing out because I'm here to tell you: Your caucus takes? They're all at least partially wrong. Here's a shocking confession from a resident of Iowa. We don't have to go first. We are, in fact, pretty white. But, take one step back and look at the first four contests: put Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina together and not only do you have a fairly decent geographical spread of the country, but you have a pretty decent amount of diversity thrown in as well. Do these four contests together paint a fairly representative picture of the whole country? I haven't the faintest idea- but together, they're far less white tha

Eating Shit On Ice, Or What I Learned From Walking To Work Yesterday

So, our saga began on Tuesday afternoon. Our white ol'reliable Subaru Outback began flashing check engine lights and doing strange things as the Missus was coming back from lunch with a friend. She gave the local mechanic we use a call and managed to get the Outback over there with no problem, but then, a few hours later, we got the call with the big ugly news. (I should note here: we both freely admit we're terrible car owners. This experience has made us both vow to be better car owners going forward, as our tendency of 'drive the car until lights began to come on and weird, fucked up shit starts to happen' has bitten us in the ass before. We also think we can learn to be car people- and that's not really going all that well, as the sad, blue shell of our Mini Cooper can attest too.) Upshot of the big ugly news: no car until Friday and a monetary amount that made us both grimace in pain, but was thankfully workable and should secure a major repair to keep th

Netflix & Chill #71: Frozen 2

Watched On: The Big Screen! Released: 2019 Starring: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff, Sterling K. Brown, Evan Rachel Wood, Alfred Molina, Martha Plimpton, Jason Ritter, Rachel Matthews, Jeremy Sisto, Ciaran Hinds, Aurora Directed By: Jennifer Lee, Chris Buck Rotten Tomatoes: 77% Tomatometer/92% Audience Score Pick: Family Choice! The sequel was so inevitable they weren't just going to 'let it go'. (No, I won't apologize for the prior sentence. I know y'all groaned. Hashtag Dad Joke. Hashtag No Apologies.) But unlike prior Disney sequels as the always memorable, Return of Jafar and The Little Mermaid: Return To The Sea and Pocahantas: Death by Smallpox* , Frozen II is actually an excellent continuation of the story and a welcome return to Arandelle and all these characters. We return to Arandelle with King Agnarr telling a story to a young Elsa and Anna about their grandfather, King Runeard, who established a treaty with the Northu

This Week In Vexillology #299

Y'all.  We're almost done with The Lost Archives...  I've got one more entry planned after this and then we will officially be moving into unknown territory and then we'll have to start getting really creative with this stuff.  So, what's on deck for today? A couple of state flags from down in Brazi- Santa Catarina and Rio De Janeiro. First up, Santa Catarina : Located in southern Brazil, the state of Santa Catarina is almost the southernmost state in the country and to be honest, if you were trying to pick a state in Brazil to move to, Santa Catarina would probably be somewhere in your top ten or so. It's got the highest life expectancy, lowest infant mortality, lowest economic inequality and illiteracy in the whole country. It's one of the oldest states in Brazil as well and was separated from Sao Paulo all the way back in 1738. It's capital is the lovely sounding city of Florianopolis. What about their flag? It was adopted officially in 1953,

Free Write Friday #15: Resolve

#FWF is back for 2020 and I'm going to try something a little different now and again. After a co-worker told me about Theme Thursdays on r/WritingPrompts, I decided to give one a shot. (They're 500 word shots, centered around a theme, which I think is a good exercise in how to write something with a limited word count.) So, I'll probably be trying my hands at these now and again and if I find an actual Writing Prompt I like, I'll throw one of those up as well. In the meantime, here's my first attempt at a Theme Thursday: Resolve His head was pounding. Nausea filled him. His gorge was rising and he was doing his best to resist the urge to vomit. He knew he should probably drink some water. he knew he should have a shower. He knew he should do many things, but instead, he was alone at the kitchen table, staring at the bottle. It was a green bottle, about half-full of a 16 year old single malt from the Western Isles of scotland that tasted of peat and smoke. Appro

Squawk Box: The Witcher

The end of Game of Thrones naturally kicked off a scramble amongst various streaming platforms to figure out what, if anything was going to be the next great fantasy television series. Netflix had Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance drop last year. Amazon has The Wheel of Time and Lord of The Rings: The Second Age coming son and there's a Willow television series in the works. If you like fantasy and are excited to finally see some of your favorite books come to the small screen or your favorite streaming platform, there's really no better to time to be alive.  Kicking it all off- (yes, technically there was a Chronicles of Shannara series which was on MTV for some reason and kind of bummed me out after a few episodes and so, I didn't really bother with it because, well, it wasnt' that good) is Netflix's adaptation of The Witcher . I suppose I should note going into this: I've never read the books, I've never played the video games and I didn'

What's Hopefully A Fairly Lukewarm, Not-Crazy Take On The Whole Iran Thing

Okay, so we've all had a weekend to take in the drone strike that killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani and we're all nice, calm and rational. Things are good now, right? Right? I mean, as I'm typing this, World War Three has not broken out, the draft hasn't be reinstated and we're not invading or bombing Iran. *checks Twitter just to be sure* Yeah, no. We're all good. (At least for now.) The question now we must confront is how exactly to unpack this mess in a sensible way. After thinking, reading and stumbling across some interesting and not at all reported takes leaking through on Twitter over the weekend, I'm going to go with the following: First, I don't want to go to war with Iran. Iran is not Iraq. I would have no idea what the point of a war with Iran would be- I don't think airstrikes alone would lead to regime change and a land invasion would be a massive undertaking which, given the fact that we're still fighting in Afghanistan

Bookshot #126: Quicksilver

I can't tell you how long the parentals have had all three volumes of Neal Stephenson's The Baroque Cycle on their bookshelves. It's been years since I picked up Quicksilver and took a crack at actually finishing it- but post their move to the new house, I snagged all three volumes from them and sat down and took a swing at Quicksilver again and this time, I hit it right out of the park. I was going to try and summarize it all but I was about a third of the way into it when a realization struck me: this is really kind of three books in one so it's...  hard to really summarize it in an effective way without getting way too verbose- but I'm going to give it a shot. Book One, features Enoch Root coming to Massachusetts to get Daniel Waterhouse to importune him to come back to London to resolve a feud between Newton and Liebniz. The book then flashes back to the 1670s and recounts how Daniel met Newton, went to college together, were separated by plague and how Da

The Tiresome Business of New Year's Resolutions

1. I'm so, so tired of the now expected and never fulfilled 'lose weight, be healthier' resolution-- it really falls well within the internet mockery of people who post 'new year, new me' memes. but this year- (shakes fist at sky) it's going to be different ! (Narrator: It probably wouldn't be, but his heart was in the right place.) 2. To make a list of New Year's Resolutions (yes, this is a control resolution to ensure that if my ambitions wilt into their usual shape by March, by the time I get to December, at least I'll have done one thing on this list.) 3.  I feel like my historical/political science reading is somewhat lacking: I've got DeToqueville kicking around here somewhere so I' d like to read that. And Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee is also floating around here as well. (Federalist Papers, The Wealth of Nations, Das Kapital, The Road To Serfdom and Capital are also sort of on my mind.) 4. Be a better friend to people. I don&#