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Archive for August, 2015

Still Sad

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Well good. The Hugo Awards have been handed out, and the Sad/Rabid Puppies won none of them. Zip, nada, nein.

In case you haven’t been paying attention, the assorted Puppies were a group of disenchanted Angry White Guys who write manly science fiction and who were chagrined that all the Hugo noms seemed to be given out to writers they disparagingly refer to as Social Justice Warriors, which, translated into actual-speak, means women and people of color. So this year the Puppies rigged the ballot. But apparently they crowed a little too loud about doing so, and got their asses handed to them at the awards ceremony. (If you want to know more, google” Sad Puppies,” or “Hugo awards,” or read all about it on George R. R. Martin’s blog).

The Puppies believe that great science fiction should be politically and socially neutral. Moreover, they claim that the work of the “great” writers who founded the genre (Asimov, Heinlein) is free of political agendas. Funny thing, though, they don’t seem willing to grant the same to Ursula LeGuin or Octavia Butler or Sam Delany, and they certainly don’t admire these writers quite the same fervor that they feel for Heinlein and Asimov.

Insert brief lecture about the blindness accorded to privilege here.

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To get to the other side–yeah, yeah, I know. The old question needs a bit of refinement, though:  why do entire families of quail wait to cross the road until a car has nearly pulled abreast of them?

I live in the boonies, and during spring and summer morning hours, our roads are alive with birds, including buzzards and road runners. Roadrunners are, of course, very fast, and buzzards are smart enough to make a ponderous liftoff when a car approaches. They have, however, mastered the art of the dirty look: “hey, here I am just trying to finish my breakfast and you’re driving right through the restaurant!”

But quail are something else. Their families can include as many as nine or ten chicks, and while the adult pair are ordinarily wise enough to let cars pass before they cross, the chicks seem to like, well, playing chicken. When I see a quail family feeding alongside the road, I slow down in case one of the chicks decides to make a break for it. Good thing, because they usually give no warning–they just bolt. One of the bitty creatures decides to run across the road, all the rest follow, and I end up standing on the brakes.

Good thing my neighbors are also attuned to this avian habit, so we don’t have a rash of rear-end collisions throughout our neighborhood.

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Can This Woman Get A Break?

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Early this morning I tuned into Morning Joe. I should have known better. I kept tuning in and out (my other choices were the weather channel and a preseason game I’d already seen) because the entire show was apparently devoted to Hilary-bashing. The assembled pundits spoke as though Hilary’s State Department e-mails contain some magnificent irregularity that will show her up as a traitor, or, failing that, some kind of scumbag. Never mind that no one yet knows what is in those e-mails outside of their sender/receivers and the State Department.

So, in the absence of facts, the pundits speculate. They showed a tape of Hilary answering reporter’s questions–at length. There were no questions about her policies. Rather, the reporters kept repeating the same questions about her e-mails over and over, perhaps hoping that different wording would trick her into admitting that she is a spy for an international cartel organized by Putin and devoted to the downfall of the entire West. She tolerated the disrespect shown her a lot longer than I would have. And when she finally did call a halt, the cretins assembled at Joe‘s table said she left “abruptly.”

Some dip from Politico tried to make the point that “it isn’t only the press” that are noticing the flap over the e-mails.  To illustrate, he cited a newspaper in Las Vegas! I guess press outside the beltway are not really press.

This crap gets old really fast. Especially for those of us who lived through Whitewater, Vincent Foster, et. al. I realize that to some extent this sort of thing is dished out to any Democratic candidate (Barack Obama anyone?) and that it is generated by Rethugs who are really really pissed that they can’t prove any actual wrongdoing at Benghazi, even though they’ve spent hundreds of thousands of our tax dollars trying to do so.

Sorry for the bile. Sometimes a person just has to vent.

UPDATE:  MSNBC hauled James Carville out of wherever he’s hibernating to put this lie down.  The best part of the video is watching Luke Russert become hysterical that anyone would dare to deny MSM dogma:  http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/08/19/on-msnbc-james-carville-calls-out-media-foolish/205029

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Fear Ameer STILL

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Ameer Abdullah jukes and sprints and runs just as fast in the pros as he did at Nebraska.  On his first outing with the Detroit Lions, he racked up 67 yards–45 of them on a single run down the middle.  What fun to watch!

Oh yeah–apologies to Mr. Desert, against whose team Abdullah racked up those yards.

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Too Bad How Sad

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Yesterday President Obama gave a barnburner of a speech about the Iran deal. He carefully laid out its terms and reviewed all the arguments in its favor. He concluded by pointing out that the folks who reject the deal are the same people who took us into Iraq back in 2003:

“For the last couple of weeks, I have repeatedly challenged anyone opposed to this deal to put forward a better, plausible alternative. I have yet to hear one. What I’ve heard instead are the same types of arguments that we heard in the run up to the Iraq war. “Iran cannot be dealt with diplomatically.” “We can take military strikes without significant consequences.” “We shouldn’t worry about what the rest of the world thinks, because once we act, everyone will fall in line.” “Tougher talk, more military threats will force Iran into submission.” “We can get a better deal.”

“I know it’s easy to play in people’s fears, to magnify threats, to compare any attempt at diplomacy to Munich, but none of these arguments hold up. They didn’t back in 2002, in 2003, they shouldn’t now.”  (http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2015/08/05/text-obama-gives-a-speech-about-the-iran-nuclear-deal/).  (You can get behind the Post‘s pay wall by sneaking in from some other news site that references it.)

This morning I tuned into Morning Joe, briefly, as it turned out. The assembled all-male all-Rethug group was bemoaning the fact that Obama had hurt their fee-fees by calling them warmongers. They assured themselves that his tough words would only harden opinions among those who oppose this deal. As if those who oppose the deal didn’t decide to do so even before they knew what was in it. As if the same nice people who sent a letter to the Iranian mullahs telling them that Obama couldn’t be trusted would ever back any deal brokered by his administration.

The display of bad faith was disgusting. It was the sort of thing I heard back in the day in bars, where men gathered during happy hour to cry into their beers and tell anyone who would listen all about how cruelly the world treated them. Yech.

The Rethugs have never liked having a black president. Now that Obama is nearing the end of his term he has begun to tell the truth more assertively and to exercise his executive power more obviously than ever before. They like that even less. I expect the word “uppity” occasionally crosses their minds.

It is no accident that Obama gave this speech at American university. President John F. Kennedy gave a speech there in 1963 wherein he argued that the presence of nuclear weapons in the world had in fact made war obsolete.  He then called for a nuclear test ban (http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/jfkamericanuniversityaddress.html). This speech is now called “the peace speech,” and some conspiracy theorists (ie Jim Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable) think the views expressed therein, along with the fact that JFK had apparently decided to get us out of Vietnam, got him assassinated.

No, I am not implying that a similar fate awaits Obama. The comparison I want to draw is surely the same one Obama had in mind when he chose to give this speech at American University:  those who killed Kennedy wanted eternal war, just as today’s neo-cons do. Men of this persuasion haven’t learned a damned thing during the last fifty years, and if they have their way, they will bring the world to an end long before climate change can finish us off.

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homesman

I’ve been a Tommy Lee Jones fan forever. I first saw him onscreen in “Black Moon Rising” (1986), where he was cast opposite Sarah Connor (er, Linda Hamilton). I was mesmerized by his acting ability early on, although the fact that he was something of a hunk in those days probably counted as well:

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During the ‘seventies and early ‘eighties Jones seemed condemned to appear in potboilers like “The Betsy” (1978) and “Back Roads” (1981) or swashbucklers like “Nate and Hayes” (1983). Then he won an Emmy for his role as Gary Gilmore in “The Executioner’s Song” (1982), and was nominated for what is probably his best-remembered performance, as Captain Woodrow Call in the TV adaptation of Larry McMurtry’s “Lonesome Dove” (1989). In 1993 he won an Oscar for his role as Lt. Gerard in “The Fugitive,” and from then on he was able to pick meatier scripts.

And now Jones is directing. “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada” (2005) won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, and his performance therein was also nominated. Last year he directed and starred in “The Homesman” along with Hilary Swank and Meryl Streep–Oscar winners all–in what has been billed as a feminist film, of all things. What’s not to like?

Which brings me to the point of this post.  (Wow! an exordial digressio!)

Lately I’ve been trying to wean myself away from hard media storage. I bought a Firestick from Amazon (which I highly recommend to anyone who has a Prime account with them, because the stick itself is cheap and there’s a lot of good stuff to be had for free). As DVD copies of better but smaller films (such as “The Executioner’s Song”) have finally emerged, I’ve been able to rid my hall closet of most of the VHS tapes I used to lug around. However, I still have a huge collection of DVDs. It’s too large to convert to digital in my lifetime, so whoever inherits it will have a good time at Bookmans’.

Because I own all these DVDs I resisted buying a blu-ray player. When these first appeared I was also pretty sure blu-ray was a scam to get all us moviefreaks to spend more money. You may remember that the first such players would not accept DVD formats, and blu-ray hard copies are more expensive as well. Yesterday, however, as I visited the local goodies store I discovered that “The Homesman” was not available in any other format. Well, I should have seen that coming, I guess. So I talked to a nice salesperson, who assured me that blu-ray machines now happily accept DVDs. Also, they’re cheap. Like 65 bucks cheap, and blu-ray discs are now cheaper too.

Well that was a little bit too much for me to pass up, so I bought one of the little critters and set it up. I’m here to say I was wrong–blu-ray images ARE much sharper. And DVDs, even old ones, upgrade nicely as well. Plus, most blu-ray discs now come with free digital copies so that the tech-savvy among us can store their contents digitally and take the discs to Bookmans’ our own selves!

So I’d write more but I’m anxious to watch “The Homesman.”  And if that doesn’t wring me out too bad, I’ll watch Russell Crowe’s new film, “The Water Diviner.”

Alas, so much filmic goodness, so little time.

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