Showing posts from 2021

Serial Saturday #2.3: The Apartment

Sarah adjusted her lemba as she walked back down the avenue toward her apartment. It had been a perfect night. A hiragasy troupe from Terra had been touring all the cities of the diaspora on Venus, and New Toliara had been their final stop. The merchants had stayed open late. Someone- she suspected Andry- had shipped in kegs of Three Horses Beer. Everyone had come to the zocalo. Moments like this were rare in the diaspora, but when they happened, you learned to savor little slices of home. The women in their brightly colored lembas , matched by the men in their vivid suits. The brassy horns and drums of the hiragasy dancing. People laughing, talking, children running everywhere. Sarah stopped and sat on a bench under her favorite baobab tree. She slipped off her shoes- new ones that had given her a nice set of blisters. The street cleaners would have already been through, so on an impulse, she decided to go barefoot the rest of the way. She liked the feel of the vibrations of the c

The Future of Writing

If we combine enough publishers we get publishing Voltron. That’s just science. — Michael Mammay (@MichaelMammay) March 30, 2021 On the face of it, who the hell am I, right? I'm just some random dude with a blog. There are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of random dudes with blogs out there. It's not like I know much of anything at all. I'm just a random dude with a blog who likes to grapple with big, deep ideas sometimes. Sometimes that's not always pretty, but sometimes it's fun and you know what? After participating in a fascinating discussion about this very issue in one of My Friendly Neighborhood Discord Servers, I figured it might be fun to break out some ideas and look at... The Future of Writing! [Impressive Fanfare, Theme Music, etc] Initially, when considering this question, my brain went immediately to two points. First, the internet- if it hasn't already (see: music, movies, television, etc) will disrupt a lot of the standard creative art

Boozehound Unfiltered: Glenmorangie Nectar d'Or

It's been a while since I've dipped into the Glenmorangie range. I know I've had the Quinta Ruban but I cannot for the life of me recall whether I've ever tasted the sweet goodness of the Nectar d'Or.  A quick check of the archives of this iteration of my blog reveals that I have not reviewed it since at least 2016. A quick check of my former (now retired) blog reveals that I have reviewed the Glenmorangie La Santa before. So this is shiny, it's new and man, it's delicious. In the world of single malts- I really do like Glenmorangie. Glenfiddich is widely available locally as well. I'll admit this: it's been a while, thanks to COVID since I've had the pleasure of hanging out with fans of single malt. But my experience is that a lot of them tend to love Islays. I love an Islay now and again- and while the beer metaphor may be inaccurate when it comes to the world of single malt- but if you don't want to sip on the whiskey equivalent of a high

Serial Saturday #2.2: The Power Converter

"How can you have the job you have and be afraid of heights?" "Shut up, Andry. What are you even doing here, anyway?" "This power converter feeds two of my largest berths and I want to see which cheap ass corporation made it so I can never do business with them ever again." The elevator rattled to a halt and Sarah clutched at the side to steady herself. "Why the hell do they put these things down here?" "That's easy," Andry said. "If we have to do major work, we can get maintenance rigs down here and if there's a fire, it's easier to contain." He extended a hand to her. "Come on." Sarah took a deep breath. He guided her out of the elevator to the railing of the gantry. They both reached down and clipped the carabiners attached to their safety harnesses onto the railing.  It had been a week since the walkway collapse and the power converter underneath Maromokotro was still causing problems. The anti-gravit

Bookshot #141: Extreme Ownership

You listen to enough podcasts these days and sooner or later you'll hear an interview with Jocko Willink on one of them. And if you hear an interview with the guy, you'll soon hear about how he gets up every day at 4 am to work out- and probably, you'll hear about his books, Extreme Ownership and The Dichotomy of Leadership and finally, I figured I'd heard enough about them that it was time to actually read at least one of them, so I snagged the audio version and gave it a whirl. Interspersed with accounts of both Willink and his co-author Leif Babin's time in Iraq serving with the Navy Seals, Extreme Ownership methodically breaks down the leadership lessons that both men developed through Seal Training and their time in Iraq. I don't have a lot of experience in the whole genre of 'self-improvement' books but this one stands out right away. First, there's a lot of real world experience- and I suppose since we're dealing with Navy Seals, we sho

The (Surprisingly Complicated) Question of D.C. Statehood

Look, to me, it's pretty simple: Taxation without representation was a founding Revolutionary principle of this country. So if the people of D.C. want to petition Congress for Statehood I don't see how you can possibly say no to it.  But as simple as that was for me to type, doing some basic digging on the interwebs reveals a fascinating mess of a problem that, if our discourse was not so shitty, any halfway decent country would have sat down and solved years ago. The crux of it all comes from the District Clause of the Constitution: The Congress shall have the Power to exercise executive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by the cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress become the seat of the government of the United States. The mess of it all begins here because it essentially gives control of D.C. to Congress- and sure enough, the District of Columbia Organic Act of 1801 did just that, and almo

Squawk Box: Borgen/Queen's Gambit

I actually own a Season of Borgen that I've kind of watched, but never actually finished- because who watches DVDs these days when you can stream anything and everything? But when I heard the news (via a Marginal Revolution link) that Netflix was joining forces to bring the 4th Season to life and they had acquired the three-season run of the show, I immediately plunged into the show once more and this time, I watched it all the way through. The series opens on the eve of an election in Denmark and Birgitte Nyborg (Sidse Babett Knudsen), the head of the Moderate Party is expecting to just do all right- but an unexpectedly strong performance in the Final Debate, where her unapologetic idealism catches fire with the voters, combined with a late-breaking scandal that the main opposition leader, Michael Laugesen (Peter Mygind) tries to pin on the Prime Minister Lars Hessleboe (Soren Spanning) pushes her Moderate Party into an unexpectedly strong position of being able to actually form

Serial Saturday #2.1: The Walkway

Sarah Hoavy had the best job in the solar system. Oh sure, there were some people- the trillionaires back on Terra or some panjandrums of Luna Corporations that might think they were better off than she was, but nothing could beat being the Assistant Director of the Malagasy Venusian Authority. Her apartment had a sonic shower! And a verandah that overlooked the main avenue! Her commute was even better: a ten-minute walk to Antananarivo Tower, which served as a combination of control tower and administration building for the bustling city of New Toliara. Baobab trees lined the avenue, their smooth-looking wide trunks towering above the city like massive organic pillars. In the strangest of environments, they were a comforting reminder of home and had adapted well. Sarah stopped for a moment to take a sip of her coffee and a quick bite of her mofo gasy as she looked up at their branches almost touching the dome of the city far overhead. The colonization of Venus had seemed like a fool&#

Sci-Fridays #2

WandaVision: What an incredible way to kick off Phase 4 for Marvel. The show takes the viewer through multiple decades of sitcom history as Wanda and Vision (now apparently back from the dead) seem to have taken up residence in the idyllic town of Westview. The deeper the show gets into its run- with Quicksilver seemingly back from the dead and Wanda having babies that age well beyond normal parameters and Vision realizing that something's up-the more the show slowly unveils what's going on. Eventually, of course, we learn what's up: Wanda finds out where Vision's body is and, in a fit of grief, takes it from the government agency (S.W.O.R.D) who is dismembering him to reconstruct him as a weapon. She finds out he brought them a plot of land in Westview where they could maybe live together and Wanda lashes out with her powers and sort of creates the life that Vision had in mind.  People notice, of course- Jimmy Woo of the FBI (Randall Park), Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Par

Stop Rushing To Defend The Monarchy, Damn It

Goddamn it. The Heritage Foundation is hosting a 3/25 event titled "The Crown Under Fire: Why the Left's Campaign to Cancel the Monarchy and Undermine a Cornerstone of Western Democracy Will Fail" Because undermining the monarchy has never been a part of American democracy, apparently. — Aaron Mehta (@AaronMehta) March 19, 2021 And then, of course, there's this: The royal family is not simply an important part of British culture. It represents a valuable political inheritance, one to which Americans owe a great deal | Opinion by Joseph Loconte — National Review (@NRO) March 18, 2021 I suppose it was inevitable. At a certain point with the internet and social media being the festering trash fire that it is, eventually, someone in the United States of America would end up launching a completely unnecessary and frankly bizarre defense of the British monarchy. Let's unpack this: 1. No one is trying to cancel the Monarchy. I promise you tha


Technically it's not the anniversary- that was a couple of weeks ago. But we are approaching the end of March, we are approaching the one-year mark of COVID-19, if not world-wide then certainly in our little corner of the world here in Iowa.  One year later and...  I don't really want to say "normality is coming." The past year makes predictions seem like a foolish business- at least from where I'm sitting. I'm not a virologist. I'm not a public health expert. I just blog a lot. But... vaccines are here. The kids are back in school. Hospitalizations are dropping and seem to be staying low. (Emphasis on the words, "seem to be.") Let us, therefore, stipulate that "normality seems conceivable." I try to think back to December and January of last year when it was starting to kick-off but had yet to really hit America and I think that however much I might have hoped that it wouldn't get here, some part of me probably knew that was a del

Netflix & Chill #94: Raya and The Last Dragon

Raya and the Last Dragon tells the story of the land of Kumandra, which is ravaged by the Drunn, evil spirits that petrify people and multiply after they absorb someone's life force. In a desperate last stand, the dragons of Kumandra combined their remaining magic to ward off the Drunn and revive all the humans, but in the process, they turn to stone themselves. Naturally, the orb survives- so the once united nation of Kumandra splits into competing tribes, based on their placement around the great river that resembles a dragon: Fang, Heart, Spine, Talon, and Tail. Five hundred years later and the Heart tribe are the guardians of the orb and Chief Benja (Daniel Dae Kim) is training his daughter Raya (Kelly Marie Tran) to guard the orb while at the same time summoning the other tribes in an attempt to bring the nation of Kumandra together once more. It's a little tense at first, but Raya breaks the tension by befriending Namaari (Gemma Chan), the daughter of Chief Virana (Sand

Meaningful Glances and Tortured Detectives: Musings on 'Hinterland'

Right now, the Missus and I are working our way through Hinterland on Netflix and we're just heading into the third and final season and some things have stood out (some from both of us, some for just me and my nerdy-ass brain) that I think are worth talking about. For those that don't know, Hinterland debuted on S4C, the Welsh language channel back in 2013 before moving to the BBC in 2014. It was the first BBC television drama with dialogue in both English and Welsh.  How you might ask, did they manage that? Well, this is the crazy thing- each scene was apparently filmed twice- once in English, then in Welsh-- and there are a few scenes (but none so far in the Netflix version) where Welsh with subtitles is used. This begs the next obvious question: what the hell does Welsh actually sound like- behold: Having watched two seasons and getting into the third the language aspect of this is crazy to me. I don't know why Netflix didn't give you the option to watch it in Wel

The Real Winner of The 2020 Election

Y'all, I'm shook.  Shook. When it comes to politics in this country I am deeply, deeply cynical. It's my default state when approaching politics. Looking at state legislators around the country and unfortunately, the Majority Leader who apparently read Green Eggs and Ham to make some kind of point- one hopes about food safety and not about cancel culture- it's enough to make one become positively Libertarian . Some of these people shouldn't be allowed out in public places, never mind voted into elected office. Looking at our landscape of clinical insane right-wingers and champagne socialists, the wisdom of P.J. O'Rourke (" Don't Vote, It Just Encourages the Bastards ") seems particularly appropriate. And then... they finally passed the COVID Stimulus Bill. I'll be honest. I didn't much care. I know a lot of Twitter was all butthurt that Senator Ron Johnson from Wisconsin did some procedural shenanigans to make the Senate actually read the

Netflix & Chill #93: I Care A Lot

Hey, remember that Bond movie, Die Another Day ? Rosamund Pike was the best thing about that movie and although I'll admit to not seeing her in a lot of movies since (she stars as Marie Curie in Curie , floating around on Amazon Prime and I'm beyond excited to see her as Moiraine Damodred in the upcoming Wheel of Time show- also on Amazon) hot damn, does she deliver an absolutely searing performance in I Care A Lot . Pike stars as Marla Grayson who is amoral, cynical, greedy, unapologetic, and a con woman who makes her living- with a company and everything and actual employees- by persuading a judge to appoint her as court-ordered guardian over elders living on their own, under the guise that they cannot take care of themselves. She puts them in assisted living facilities, cuts off all contact to the outside world, and sells their homes and assets for her own profit. In short, she's quite literally the worst human being you could possibly think of, and when a local Doctor

Serial Saturday: Some Thoughts "On Murder In Kinmen"

So, here's the full story on Murder In Kinmen : It started life as a Theme Thursday response- the theme was Vulnerability and when I started kicking around ideas about how I wanted to approach that, for some reason the idea of geography lodged in my brain. The Cold War is over, so you can't use places like West Berlin or anything like that, but surely, there must be someplace where the residents have to live with or at least be comfortable living with vulnerability. For some reason, I remembered learning about one of the innumerable crises in the Taiwan Straits and especially the standoff of Quemoy and Matsu. I assumed that they were under Chinese control for some reason, but I checked a map and to my astonishment, they remain under Taiwanese sovereignty even today. So imagine then, living in a place like Kinmen- which isn't a way out to sea and just close to China, like Mainland China is right there.  Check out this map: Can you imagine that? Being that close to a rising s