Showing posts from 2023

10 for 2023: How Did I Do?

Given the times we live in, the idea of New Year's Resolutions seems idiotic, but I'm doing it anyway because lists are easy to make and strangely satisfying to cross things off of. But before I launch on yet another exercise in mild futility (I do usually get some of these things accomplished), it's time to look back on 2023 and see how I did:  1. Big Writing Goal for the Year: Get Book 4 into the draft format by the end of the year. I'm currently working my way through Chapter 5 and I'm sitting at 25,744 words. It's been challenging so far: I'm sticking to a single POV for the first time in a book, I'm writing well outside my usual genre preferences so far, and writing consistently and well is hard, y'all. But enough is enough-- time to light this candle and git 'er done. Okay, here's the story with Book 4. I was plowing through, heading into Chapter 8, the wind was in my sails and then I got a note. A note so damn good, so brilliant that

Squawk Box: Sex Education Season 4/Jack Ryan Season 4

I know there's this trend in Hollywood of bringing things back or announcing reboots or revivals, but occasionally, I think it would be great for people to remember that it's all right for things to just end, you know. And Sex Education is one of those shows. The final season was just about everything you could possibly ask for in a final season and where everyone ends up is so unbelievably satisfying. Season Four opens with Otis (Asa Butterfield) and Maeve (Emma Mackey) trying to make a long distance relationship work. She is still in America, studying at a creative writing program. Otis is still... awkward and when she sends him a nude photo on his first day at a new college, Cavendish-- which ticks all the boxes for being friendly, inclusive, environmentally aware and, of course, progressive, the usual shenanigans ensue. Eric (Ncuti Gatwa) finds community with the most popular students known as 'The Coven.' Isaac (George Robinson) enrolls at Cavendish with an eye to

What Should We Do About TikTok?

I am aware that there's more than a little hypocrisy lurking behind this post. I'm on TikTok. I use it. I send TikToks to the Missus and she sends Instagram reels to me. We're the perfect portrait of a married couple with four kids in 21st-century America that way. I also am a proponent of Free Speech. I don't have the legal knowledge to say with any certainty what the Constitutional issues might be. Montana's statewide ban was knocked down on the grounds of prior restraint and a few other things I hadn't considered. A ban would probably amount to the government picking and choosing platforms which probably runs afoul of the 1st Amendment in some way. A Federal Ban might be different-- as national security concerns would come into play and I would imagine, you'd have to balance those out in a way that might not preclude a ban.  But who knows? There are, after all, other platforms available to folks (Instagram Reels are pretty close to the same thing, imo) an

Bookshot #172: The Hollow Crown

This book was one of my UK haul and I almost put it back and picked up a 'biography of Parliament' which seemed a lot more interesting and more in my political science wheelhouse. However, I'm glad I didn't. History books are kind of interesting for me to grapple with- especially when it comes to reviewing them. On the one hand, my poli-sci brain kicks to life and I want to look at things from a more academic perspective. On the other hand, as a reader, I want to be informed and not bored to death. Happily, Dan Joes managed to satisfy both 'hands' with his excellent history of the Wars of the Roses. I will be honest: the biggest takeaway from this book was learning that there was so much before Richard III- and yes, my knowledge of the Wars of the Roses stems mainly from Shakespeare. Richard III, the Princes in the Tower, him being all twisty and scoliosis'd up and wandering around Bosworth Field, demanding a horse. (Al Pacino did a really great- I don'

Netflix & Chill #105: Barbie

I did it. I watched the Barbie movie... I still need to dig up Oppenheimer to complete the Barbenheimer Experience, but half of the deed is done. The current cultural discourse meant that immediately, people would hate and despise this movie because... reasons, but having watched it with (what I hope is) a fairly open mind, I don't really see why. (And I can't find anything to really back up the 'gurrrrrrrr, man-hating woke woke woke' that was floating around about it. Both Critic and Audience scores on Rotten Tomatoes are in the mid-80s, so people really seemed to genuinely like it. ) Barbie opens in Barbieland, where Stereotypical Barbie (Margot Robbie) is going about her perfect day with her fellow Barbies. Every night is girl's night in Barbieland. Barbies hold all the prestigious jobs, such as President Barbie (Issa Rae), Doctor Barbie (Hari Nef), Lawyer Barbie (Sharon Rooney), Writer Barbie (Alexandra Shipp), Journalist Barbie (Ritu Arya), and Diplomat Barbie

This Is How A Super League Happens

Author's Note: These were going up over on Minds, but after two days of fighting with their stupid Captcha verification to get this to go up, I'm done. So, I'm moving them back to the regular blog. I think they're probably going to be an 'every other week' thing and I'll try and move topics around a bit so I'm not all in politics or one particular topic so people don't click away. Hopefully, you get some enjoyment out of reading these... Out there in the world of college football's commentariat, there are prophets of doom that say a Super League is coming. Television executives will dismember the traditional conferences still further and break away with the top thirty 'brands' and make them into their own league, leaving the rest of college football adrift in the wilderness, bereft of the ludicrous paydays and lucrative money that a Super League would presumably bring. I have been skeptical of the concept. I've never been able to see

Knowledge Boost #5: The Coming of the Third Reich

This book had been sitting on my shelf for years now (I think The Quiet Man might have gifted it to me, but I'm not 100% sure on that, which is how I know it's been sitting there for years) and honestly, this area of history just isn't my bag, baby. World War II doesn't trip my trigger the way it does for some people and I went into this book thinking it was going to be rehashing events that I had a basic outline/knowledge about in the first place and I didn't know what I was going to get out of it.  I couldn't have been more wrong. Every time travel movie ever made inevitable poses the question of: "Could we travel back in time and kill Hitler?" Most people, being decent enough people, would say 'sure' to that notion- hell, Doctor Who even has an episode called "Let's Kill Hitler" but I hate to rain on the science fiction wishes and dreams of many people: killing Hitler wouldn't have helped. Things had been cooking for a whi

Bookshot #171: The Glorious Revolution

I had this impression of The Glorious Revolution that was apparently all wrong. Before I read this book, I had this story in my head that Parliament, faced with James II's Catholicism and authoritarian tendencies had looked around and found an acceptable replacement in the form of William and Mary and invited them to invade the country and take the throne to replace him-- ensuring a Protestant monarchy and that the Monarchy was tied to the authority of Parliament.  Having read Edward Vallance's excellent and highly readable book, I am forced to revise that conclusion somewhat. Books about history can be hit or miss, I've found. You can either can academic ones that veer way too far into Academia and lose the reader or, alternatively, are the size of large doorstops or you can go to the other end of the spectrum and you can get a flimsy, not very informative, but highly readable version of events. Vallance manages to thread the needle between these two possibilities quite ni

The Local Endorsements 2023

It should go without saying that I think you should vote in every election you can. The old saw about 'if you don't vote, then you don't get to complain' very much applies here, but doubly so in off-year elections. Some people online saw it as a harbinger of some kind of doom but the Louisiana Governor's race went down last week and you know what the turnout was? 35.8% That means their shiny new governor was elected with 18% of the vote . EIGHTEEN PERCENT OF THE VOTE. I will be the first to tell y'all that I hate these parties with the heat of a thousand fiery suns. But if I must be stuck with them, I expect them to do useful things that benefit me and more importantly, I have a baseline expectation of competence for both of them, regardless of my personal leanings. A moribund and useless minority party does nothing for me. A feisty, pain-in-the-ass minority party that challenges the majority party and calls out their bullshit at every turn? Yes, please. That

Squawk Box: Wheel of Time, Season 2

If you're a fan of The Wheel of Time series and haven't been living under a rock for the past few years and are unaware that it's been made into a television show, welcome. It's a television show. The first season, if you've been connected to the internet in any way, was moderately well-received in some quarters and downright vilified in other quarters. It was... controversial, to say the least, and has riven the online fandom of the series in two.  Personally, I didn't get quite that upset by the first season. There were parts of the first season I liked quite a lot. There were parts of the first season that made me go "eh" and there were parts of the first season that made me go "nope, nopity nope nope nope" but on balance, by the end of it, my general feeling was: "All right, I'd watch another season of this, just to see what they do to it." They had, in my opinion, done enough to get me back for another season. I think part

In Favor Of Disrupting The Development Model

About a month ago, someone over on the Iowa City subreddit posed an interesting question: Why wasn't Iowa City able to develop the east and south sides of town in the 90s and the 00s in the same way as Coralville and North Liberty ? You can click the link to all the answers, but this was my answer: The Coral Ridge Mall opened up and shifted the center of gravity for commercial activity out towards 80/380. Iowa City took about a decade to come up with something resembling an answer to that and arguably still hasn't, even as Coralville continues to run rings around Iowa City by developing areas like IRL, and North Liberty is getting in on that as well. Honestly, the SSMD the South District just launched and the work they're doing with the Diversity Marketplace and that whole area is the smartest thing that Iowa City has done in years and it was a ground-up idea, not one the City really got behind because the powers that be didn't want too. The commercial activity supercha