Showing posts from 2022

10 for 2022: How Did I Do?

All right, we've reached the end of another trip around the sun so naturally, I have to scroll back through my posts to the beginning of the year to see what my goals were when this year started and now it's time to go back through and see how I did. So, let's find out: just how did I do? 1. End the year under 200 lbs Bahahahahahahahahahahahaha... nope. On the plus side, I didn't head in the wrong direction (at least not too much. But, expect to see some variation of this for 2023. 2. Get another tattoo. Nope. I have a design picked out and ready to go, I just have to go and do it! 3. Complete a 200-day Duolingo streak Success! Not only did I get a 200-day streak, but I hit a 365-day streak and haven't looked back! 4. Goodreads Goal for 2022: 25 books!   Success! Going to increase my total to 35 for 2023 and see how I do. 5. Get back to Intermittent Fasting and do it consistently and correctly for the year! Yeah... nope. Working on some other weight loss options now

Squawk Box: Andor/Borgen: Power and Glory

I'm just going to come right out and say it: Andor is the best Star Wars show to date. Hands down. It should also serve as a challenge to anyone playing around in that universe to up their game because this is a show that demonstrates the full potential of what Star Wars could actually be if the powers that be wanted it. (And if they don't, one hopes they're looking at this show and re-evaluating a lot of their thinking about the franchise.) Andor tells the story of Cassian Andor, which is a character we met first in Rogue One. In Rogue One, he's a spy for the Rebel Alliance and deeply committed to the cause, but the show starts five years before, where we meet a very different Cassian. This Cassian, (still played by Diego Luna, reprising his role from the movie) is a bit of a ne'er do well, cynical and searching for his sister. We find out that he and his sister were separated when their planet Kenari was destroyed in a botched imperial mining project. While se

My City Council Application

You miss 100% of the shots you don't take. --Wayne Gretzky I rolled into Iowa City along with my parents on a blisteringly hot day in August of 1987. They unloaded some stuff from the moving truck into our then-house on Glendale Court and then we went out to eat at Mazzio's Pizza now long since departed from its location at the corner of First Avenue and Lower Muscatine Road. With a brief three-year absence for a sojourn to graduate school up in Minnesota, I've lived here more or less my entire life. I got a job here. I purchased a house here. I have a family that's growing up here and going to school here. I am deeply embedded in this community.  I graduated from Iowa City High School in 2001. I graduated from the University of Iowa with a B.A. in Political Science in 2006, following it up with an MA in Political Science from Minnesota State University-Mankato. As a state-certified 911 Dispatcher, I have a unique, bird's eye view of the challenges facing the unhous

Bookshot #160: Return Of A King

William Dalrymple is fast becoming one of my favorite historians- not just of South Asia, but full stop. His writing is immersive, his research impeccable and his books always have connective tissue with some aspect of present-day politics. If you want to look at the original progenitors of untrammeled corporate power, read The Anarchy , his history of the rise of the East India Company. If you want a deep dive into Britain's first round of misadventures in Afghanistan, there's no better book to turn to than Return Of A King. Culturally, the British disaster in Afghanistan- driven largely by the 19th Century preoccupation with Russian shenanigans that we now know as The Great Game, emanates more than people think it does. Dr. Watson of Sherlock Holmes fame served in Afghanistan (both in the original and in a case of 'history not repeating itself, but very often rhyming' in the excellent Benedict Cumberbatch/Martin Freeman updates as well- though granted, it was a diffe

Breaking Down The Red Derecho

If you want to look for it, there's discourse aplenty online either mourning Iowa's election results or trying to figure out where it all went quite so wrong. I have no knowledge of the inner workings of the State Democratic Party. They could be doing quite a few of these things already-- and if they are, great. But while I'm technically registered as a Democrat, I am not. I hate the two party system and while we still don't have final results on who's controlling what quite yet, I am more convinced than ever than political parties are stupid. So: Iowa's results are entirely the fault of the State Democratic Party. Trendlines have been creeping against them for a few cycles now. The Caucus Clusterfuck didn't help matters. You get the sense that candidate recruitment  has been lackluster and the State Party just isn't willing to spend the resources where it should be to claw anything back. They don't have solid social media messaging either.  National

Bookshot #159: A Wizard of Earthsea

It took me way too long to get around to reading one Ursula K. Le Guin book and I didn't want it to be that long before I tackled another. I had heard a lot about Earthsea, but I had never actually read any of the books- which given the fascination of my youth with all things fantasy-related (Lord of the Rings, The Belgariad, Shannara, etc.) Earthsea was a surprising omission. So, I grabbed the first book on Audible and gave it a listen. Shout out to Rob Inglis who does a fantastic job with the narration for Audible. A little digging around on the interwebs reveals that this is definitely not his first rodeo with voiceover narration and, in fact, until Andy Serkis did it in 2020, his reading of The Hobbit was the only unabridged edition of the book ever made. He did one-man stage productions of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings back in the 70s and 80s which must have been amazing to see. In short, Mr. Inglis is, as the kids these days like to say: thoroughly legit. His voice I

Squawk Box: All Or Nothing Arsenal/She-Hulk Attorney At Law

I tried to get into All or Nothing before, but I just... couldn't, for whatever reason. I wasn't about to watch the Tottenham season and the Manchester City season I tried for a few episodes was just... anti-climactic, I want to say would be the right word? (There's not a lot of drama in watching a Death Star Premier League Team do what it usually does, which is destroy most opposition.) But then they finally did a season on Arsenal, so, naturally, I had to give it a go. As a sports documentary, the production value is top notch. It looks beautiful- they talk to fans, bring in the community of North London and do their best to communicate a sense of place to the viewer and they do so really well. I also loved seeing how it all works behind the scenes-- the training sessions and the player performance reviews/one on one coaching sessions that they go throughout the season.  I also liked getting to know the individual players a bit-- between Bukayo Saka meeting up with a kid

The Weirdness of the Ukraine Discourse

I've been trying to formulate this post for a while now, so I'm not sure if I'm going to quite stick the landing on this one, but bear with me. There's a weirdness in the Ukraine discourse that we need to talk about-- and it might only be weird from my personal point of view-- it might actually be totally normal and illustrative of the online hive mind in general and I might not see it or not care enough about it to see it, but it's something that I want to put into words. In general: the DC Foreign Policy Blob (cross-partisan, Establishment, deep state types, mainstream media types, etc.) has been in lockstep about supporting Ukraine as they struggle to deal with Russia's invasion of their country now heading into the seventh or eighth month. Their position goes like this: "We love Ukraine, Putin bad, here's another aid package worth billions of dollars." Against the DC Foreign Policy Blob, we find discourse like this: Don't worry. A nuclear

Sportsball and The Crippling Weight of Expectations

Sometimes I wonder what it's like to be an Alabama fan. I mean, you'd have all these expectations every single year. Winning your division? Oh hell yes. SEC Title Game? You better believe it! Making the playoff with a shot at a national title? Absolutely! There are 131 teams in FBS football and I would be willing to be that at least 125 of them would be willing to trade places with Alabama in a heartbeat. (Hell, the number might be higher than that, to be quite honest about it.) But alas, through accidents of geographic relocation, parental employment* and just the wheel of life itself, I am not an Alabama fan. I grew up in Iowa City, I graduated from the University of Iowa and somehow ended up right back here working for the University of Iowa in a job that revolves around athletic events of some flavor or another for about six months out of the year. So, like it or not, Iowa Football is all up in my shit on multiple levels pretty much all the damn time. Which raises the quest

Bookshot #158: Securing Democracy

I snagged this one on Audible, mainly because I was vaguely aware of a lot of the events described in this book and wanted to be more informed about just what all had gone down in Brazil over the course of the past few years and Greenwald- love him or hate him- was at the center of the journalistic firestorm around a lot of it. The structure of the book is well laid out-- before you dig into the reporting and the controversy Greenwald found himself in, he 'sets the scene' in a structured and informative way. While I knew the basics of Brazil's history, Greenwald filled in a lot of details I didn't know. Namely the depth of American involvement in bringing the military dictatorship to power- the depth of their repression and how it impacted society, but more importantly, how much of Bolsonaro's support came from people and companies that found their greatest success during the Dictatorship. Greenwald then touches on his personal history in the country, how he came t

Random Song: Fancy

I don't know how to say this, so I'm just going to say it: 'Fancy' is the nicest song about turning your daughter into a prostitute that you're ever going to listen to. That's a strange sentence, I know- but even if you go back and listen to the original version of the song by Bobbie Gentry , there's a contradiction that runs through both that version and Reba McEntire's version that's hard to get away from. On the one hand, the lyrics and the story are fucking dark. I mean, a desperate mother saves up all her money to buy her eldest daughter a nice red dancing dress? Mom dies, Baby gets taken by the welfare people and Fancy learns what her Mama was talking about when she said "just be nice to the gentlemen, Fancy, they'll be nice to you." This shit is dark , y'all. And yet... There's a note of undeniable empowerment that runs throughout the song as well- and Bobbie Gentry was pretty blunt about it being a feminist statement:

Squawk Box: Ms. Marvel/The Bear

I remain convinced that both Marvel and Star Wars are going to start to reach something of a saturation point in content in the next few years-- there's so much stuff in each universe now that it's almost becoming a chore to keep up with it all and while Star Wars has a slightly different twist on that problem than Marvel does, it was with deep trepidation that I sat down to dig into Ms. Marvel. Moon Knight was just okay. The second Dr. Strange was decent. Wandavision and Loki were kind of interesting, so I didn't know what to expect with Ms. Marvel and happily, I was pleasantly surprised. The old magic isn't completely faded out and Ms. Marvel seemed like a welcome return to form for the quality and general entertainment factor I've come to expect from Marvel shows. (Slight Tangent Here: the character has had four incarnations in the comics and Kamala Khan is the fourth to take the name, Ms. Marvel- in the comics anyway. Of the previous incarnations, Carol Danv

40 Before 40: Year 9

Well, it's here. I begin my 39th trip around the sun and I wish I could say that I've made decent progress on my list here, but honestly I haven't. Here's where I'm at: #2: I can do it at any time. Just need to make an appointment. #4: Need to train and get my ass in shape, but also possible. #8: Life and work have been busy, but I'm working on Book 4 as fast as I can. Chipping away at that goal. #6: I could do it, but I choose not to . #10: Technically, I'm knocking that off the list this weekend with a nice solo birthday/anniversary trip to Colorado with the Missus. #11: I'll give this until December, but I think we're pretty much there.  #13: Can do this anytime as well...   #16: Jenkins' biography of Churchill is the only one left on this list. In short, I feel somewhat confident that I can get half of this list accomplished in the next year or so. Then I'll have to sit down and think about the next list. 50 Before 50! ~~~ 1. Publish my

Bookshot #157: Rendezvous With Rama

My parents had a couple of the Rama novels floating around when I was a kid and I think I ended up reading one of the subsequent volumes (I want to say The Garden of Rama or Rama Revealed) I don't recall reading any of the other books, however, so when I saw that Denis Villeneuve was planning on following up his excellent adaptation of Dune with an adaptation of Rendezvous With Rama , I figured there was no better time to snag the first novel off Kindle and give it a read. When Earth is struck by an asteroid in 2077 (landing in northeast Italy), the government of Earth sets up the Spaceguard system to make sure humanity has a reliable way to detect potential threats coming from deep space. Fifty-four years later, in the year 2131, Spaceguard picks up an unusual asteroid still outside the orbit of Jupiter and humanity quickly realizes that this one is unusual. For a start, its trajectory clearly indicates it's an interstellar object. But astronomers quickly realize that it is

Everyone's Got Problems (And Why The Forward Party Isn't One Of Them)

Republicans haven't won the popular vote since 1988. GOP one party rule states HOLD on to their majorities thru gerrymandering and voter suppression. Don't pretend that a direct election is a result of "bad numbers" It's not. This is NOT a problem with Democrats numbers! — Nick Capet | Keep Calling Out Corruption (@justpersnickety) July 29, 2022 Look, everyone's got problems and I sat on this response to a Quote Tweet I sent for a couple of days because I wanted to unpack it a bit and see if my assumptions were wrong. I think checking one's assumptions is always good a thing to do from time to time, because, well, I could be wrong. But here's the thing: I don't think I am in this case.  There's a lot of online discourse on Politics Twitter (PolTwitter, whatever you want to call it) that bemoans the state of the United States Senate. It sucks. It's unfair. It's (insert platitude) here. But here's the thing: with every complaint, the