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Showing posts from August, 2020

Conventions Are Dumb

I've never understood the point of political conventions. I mean, I know if you go back a few decades, things of actual import happened there- but since I've been alive, they've essentially been three or four days of what's essentially an infomercial followed by an acceptance speech and a balloon drop. (Occasionally, there's a surprisingly dumb story about the party platforms- which I think exists to give delegates at these conventions something to do. During Democratic Conventions, expect to see right-wing media lose it's mind over eliminating the word 'God' from something, during a Republican convention, expect to see the left-wing media lose its mind over something about abortion, gay marriage, etc. Does it mean anything in the end? Not usually. Just something for the media the yell about.)In general, I watch the acceptance speeches and that's about it.  I sort of halfway pay attention to the rest and that's about it- and if there was a year …

Netflix & Chill #84: The Old Guard

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Watched On: NetflixReleased: 2020 Directed By: Gina Prince-Bythewood Starring: Charlize Theron, Kiki Layne, Marwan Kenzari, Luca Marinelli, Harry Melling, Veronica Ngo, Matthias Schoenaerts, Chiwetel Ejiofor Rotten Tomatoes: 81% Tomatometer, 71% Audience Score Pick: Mine 
The Old Guard opens with Andromache of Scythia (Charlize Theron) or Andy as she goes by in these modern times, meeting back up with her friends, Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts), Joe (Marwan Kenzari) and Nicky (Luca Marinelli) for a job. A former CIA operative named Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) has hired them to go rescue a group of kidnapped children in South Sudan. Andy initially is resistant to the proposal, but agrees to the job and the team heads to South Sudan. Once inside the bunker, they don't find children- but they do find a team of highly trained mercenaries who ambush them and riddle them with bullets, seemingly killing all over them.
Surprisingly, they recover from their wounds and realize that Copley has set th…

10 Ideas For New Star Trek Movies

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Apparently, the new President of Paramount is trying to figure out what to do with the Star Trek movie franchise. There's more Trek on TV than ever before- (Lower Decks has a lot of promise, I think- I genuinely enjoyed the first episode!) so that naturally means that they want to take advantage of that somehow and get the movie side of things going again. I'm sure every Trekker out there probably has a laundry list of suggestions a mile and a half long, but as a longtime fan of the franchise, here are my 10 Ideas for New Star Trek Movies.1. Let Noah Hawley and Quinten Tarantino make their movies. I can understand some trepidation about the latter, but it'd be kind of interesting to let different directors explore the franchise and see what their takes on it are.2. For the love of Spock, NO MORE REBOOTS. Star Trek '09 was excellent. Breathed new life into the franchise. Made a bold decision to free itself of the constraints of canon. The scale was epic. It looked cool …

One Hell Of A Week

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All things considered, I think we got pretty lucky.I saw first indications of something heading our way about mid-morning last Monday, the weather service deemed it as a line of severe thunderstorms, so I didn't think about it much and just made a mental note to keep an eye on the weather and see what happens. I was planning to load the kiddos up and head over to the school to grab some lunches for them around noon- but the sound of tornado sirens going off quickly put paid to that idea, so I had to do what every good parent does when confronted with an unexpected change of menu item: I made macaroni and cheese.By the time the mac and cheese had been made, I could see the clouds starting to move in, so once the kids had been dished up their lunch, I scraped the rest into a bowl and stepped outside to watch the storm come in.At this point, I still didn't know what exactly we were dealing with-- it was, as far as I knew, a Severe Thunderstorm Warning- and as a longtime resident …

Knowledge Boost #1: The End of Policing

Editor's Note: At the beginning of this year, I set myself a goal to do some reading to make sure that the polisci side of my brain doesn't completely atrophy and fall to pieces, as I've been 'out of the game' as it were for a while now. I was thinking things like The Federalist Papers or Democracy In America (which I've started to pick my way through) but given the events of June all across the country, I thought it was important to actually engage with some of the thinking and arguments out there to try and understand where people are coming from- not just on the issue of police reform (as this entry tackles) but on a deeper range of issues.
So, these posts are going to be a departure from the usual Bookshots that I do for regular book reviews. I'm going to go all over the place, ideologically speaking to try and read on some issues as widely and as extensively as I can. All in the name of at minimum, engaging with these arguments and criticisms in a genui…

In Other News, Water Is Wet

So the good ol'Iowa City subreddit threw up some links to some sweet Twitter tea that got spilled yesterday in a (presumably ongoing) thread about the shitty places downtown to work for and the equally shitty people that run them. In general, my reaction was one of cynical amusement: my sister's high school job was in McDonald's and the stories she brought back convinced that I didn't want to go anywhere near the food service industry for a job, so I stuck with my prototypical white middle class kid high school job and worked at Hy-Vee. But the amount of people who were surprised by any of this was kind of astonishing. The food service industry can be incredibly shitty and exploitative and in a town where there's a ready supply of cheap labor, you can always be replaced and there's not a great deal of motivation to treat your workers well. Why give the college barista a raise when you can fire them and replace them with another barista? Is it shitty? It sure is…

The Drug That Won't Go Away

So, here's the frustrating thing about hydroxychloroquine: it might work. It might not. Thanks to the media, however, it's been politicized to hell and back and we won't actually get to find out. 
Why am I still poking this thing? I mean, there's a large scooping of Trumpian Snake Oil bullshit attached to this stuff now-- but there's also data out there which contradicts that. Like, take Trump out of the equation and it gets interesting: the Lancet study which said, "hey this doesn't help."-- they've published a retraction. The Henry Ford Health System in SE Michigan did a study with over 2k patients and got good results. An epidemiologist from Yale has come out in favor of the stuff-- (and he seems not to believe in things like demon sperm and alien DNA- at least so far.)
I'm not a medical professional. I just read a lot. But I would like some more science done on this without the media being so goddamn dismissive about it. Every time there see…

Bookshot #133: The Confusion

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I don't know if the same rules apply to books as they do to movies, but I feel like there's got to be a fairly similar crossover when it comes to sequels. Ones that improve on their predecessors are rare indeed- and happily for Neal Stephenson, book two of his Baroque Cycle, The Confusion is an incredible improvement on it's predecessor Quicksilver.

First, there's the structure of it: The Confusion actually is very well organized- its actually two novels Bonanza and The Juncto that are intertwined with one another and while you think that might be confusing, the two stories actually dance around each other and come closer and closer until by the end of the book, they tie together in a perfect knot.

Bonanza tels the story of what happened to Jack Shaftoe. In Quicksilver, we leave him tied to an oar, a galley slave, sinking deeper into is syphilis. Three years later, he manages to catch a fever strong enough to sweat the disease out of him and restore him to his sanity. …