Thursday, December 04, 2008

Change is the essential process of all existence.

I've mentioned many times on this blog that I'm a Trekkie - a fan of the original Star Trek television show. I've loved Trek since I was a kid, but really didn't grow to appreciate it until I got older. At some point I realized that my politics and the liberal, Kennedyesque politics of the show segued.

I've often wondered if that television show, along with my progressive Catholic upbringing, actually shaped the basis of the political beliefs I've taken into adulthood. If not then they at least had some influence.

To me Star Trek doesn't just represent sci-fi action, technobabble and the occasional bad acting. There's an optimism that runs through Trek, at least the Trek inspired directly by Gene Roddenberry if not the later television series(*), that presents us a picture of the future in which the superficial is immaterial.

I've been thinking about this as the reverberations of Proposition 8 continue to move through our political landscape. One doesn't need to believe that man will be able to dematerialize one place and appear somewhere else or fly through space in giant ships named after famous nautical vessels to believe that progress is inevitable. The future will be better for all of us regardless of race, religious belief, gender, sexual orientation or whatever else separates us.

Just to highlight my point I'd like to share a few quotes highlighting the "vision" of Star Trek. Here's an old interview with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry given shortly before he died--

"As you know, one of the joys of Star Trek, for me, has been the variety of our fans. When I go to conventions and I see people of all sizes and shapes and abilities, and when I see people with nerve disorders that can’t really sit properly and so on, I still know what’s in their mind. They are saying, “In a better world, I can do anything. I’ll be there in a better world. In a better world, they will not laugh at me or look down their nose at me.”

I used to speak at colleges a lot because it was what kept me alive and paid the mortgage in the days when Star Trek was considered a gigantic failure. I have met some of these people. I remember one night someone called me over and said, “Can you possibly talk to this man?” And here was a fellow with some kind of nerve disorder who had an electronic box, he couldn’t speak, and by hitting the box, he could make halfway intelligible sounds. He could only make grunting-like noises. And finally I began to understand what he was saying and he was asking me why I did a certain thing in a certain show, and why I had invented somebody who had something of his disorder. I said to him, “Someday when we become wise, we won’t look at those things. We will look at communication and knowledge, etc.” And I saw his hand rise up with great determination and he said loudly and clearly, “Yes!!” Those are the high moments in my life."

Here's a bit of a speech Gene's son Rod Roddenberry gave this week--

“The idea of tolerance of something I’ve heard about for a long time,” Roddenberry said. “I’ve always had a problem with that word.

“Star Trek was so far beyond tolerance. I feel like I’m talking to the choir. It goes to acceptance. Enjoying the fact that there are different ideas.

“The different ideas that we all have are what makes life interesting. ...Don’t be afraid of different beliefs. Go up to that person and have an intelligent conversation with them. That’s how we’ll evolve into the Star Trek future.”

Finally here's bit of wonderful speech actor Wil Wheaton gave a couple of years ago as Gene Roddenberry was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in Seattle--

"Like all great science fiction, it held up a mirror and showed us our failings and triumphs – not by beating us over the head with a message, but by making that message easy enough to discover for those who cared to see it. Star Trek dared to do this during an incredibly turbulent time, when it was risky to even acknowledge that the mirror existed, much less hold it up on network television.

It has been more than forty years since Kirk and Spock first boldly went where no man has gone before, and twenty years since Picard and some kid boldly went where no one has gone before.

Today, many of us still dream of living in the Utopian world Gene envisioned, where we play in holodecks, beam ourselves to work, and embrace the crazy notion that race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation are differences to be celebrated and learned from, not feared and destroyed."

Roddenberry wasn't blind. He knew the world was an ugly place. In the interview linked above he was asked if he had any heroes. Here's part of his response--

But I have less of that collection of heroes than an overwhelming affection for humanity. I think the human race is just a fascinating creature. I think we are so wonderful they should build statues to us. (Laughter) The things we are able to do are just marvelous. I know that humans, even today, capture and torture people and commit war and all of that. But that’s because they are still children and children are violent. But I refuse to think any other way about the human race but that they are beautiful children. They will, in the end, persevere.

Isn't that a wonderful way to think of humanity?

(* including some of the movies. Some of my friends are worried about the new film because of the young actors, JJ Abrams, etc. Is long as it has Roddenberry's sense of optimism I'm in.)

We're not goofing off. We're creating musical fusion.

So much right about this video but the cameo by one famous actor as Jesus and the Doogie Howser bit had me. I give you "Prop 8 - The Musical."

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

The embed doesn't seem to be working here from home. Here's a direct link to the video at Funny or Die. If it's not working from my work PC I'll change up this post to reflect.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I'll be your huckleberry.

Randal a étiqueté moi mais je ne peux pas parler français.

Thank goodness there's a Babel Fish translator.

1. Five names you go by: Dad, Lurch, Johnny Apache (My stripper name from college), Vernon (Wormer) and Sergio Marinara.
2. Three things you are wearing right now: A smile (gag), mesh underwear (I rarely wear underwear but when I do it's usually of the mesh variety) and a cheap tie.
3. Two things you want very badly at the moment: Go home and get some more sleep and Bo Derek.
4. Three people who will probably fill this out: Our gorilla overlord, our blogger chaplin and our comic book expert.
5. Two things you did last night: Drove my oldest daughter to firefighter school and made delicious club sandwiches for the family.
6. Two things you ate today: One piece of dry wheat toast and another piece of dry wheat toast.
7. Two people you last talked to on the phone: Mrs. Wormer who heard there was an accident on the freeway involving a fistfight and was worried it was me and one of my staff who just called in sick after being on vacation for the last two weeks. One more pay raise and I'm switching to the Republican party.
8. Two things you are going to do tomorrow: Look for a new employee and get in a fistfight with somebody on the way to work.
9. Two longest car rides: When I was 12 and my parents decided to drive to Disneyland from Portland. They kept stopping to look at redwood trees and stuff. The other was Thanksgiving when we drove to visit my Mother in Law. Dead man walking.
10. Two of your favorite beverages: French roast coffee, homemade blackberry wine, scotch, blended margarita, coke, banana milkshakes... I can't limit it to just two.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Well, I'm certainly proud of you... you blockheads!

Sigh. Back to the real world. It's a wacky place.


Sarah Palin proves to be that rash that no cream can cure as she campaigned for Saxby Chambliss in the Senate runoff in Georgia.

"We are rebuilding our party. . . . And it's starting right here in Georgia by sending Saxby back to work in the United States Senate," she said.

Put aside for a moment the fact that Palin is more interested in rebuilding her own image by jumping on the Chambliss sure thing, which she will no doubt claim credit for despite all evidence to the contrary.

To the extent Chambliss' re-election will say anything about the mood of the country towards the Republican brand it would simply be Americans sending the message that when the bus carrying the Republican party runs through the guardrail on the bridge and plunges hundreds of feet to a fiery explosion that voters hope the passengers have mercifully passed out before the bus smashes into the ground, rather than screaming in terror as doom rushes towards them.


It's nice that the media is focusing on pardons. Unfortunately, it's a pardon from 8 years ago.

WASHINGTON — In the much praised career of Eric H. Holder Jr., President-elect Barack Obama’s choice to be attorney general, there is one notable blemish: Mr. Holder’s complicated role in the 2001 pardon of Marc Rich, a billionaire financier who had fled the country rather than face federal tax evasion charges.

Rich's pardon was political cronyism at it's worse, but it paled by comparison to the pardons issued by the first President Bush of "true patriot" Casper Weinberger, Elliot Abrams and the rest of the Iran-Contra traitors. There are pardon's looming over war crimes from the current President Bush that will make tax evasion look like penny ante stuff. No doubt the media will cover those just as intensely.


Jeb Bush's idea that the GOP form a is obviously self-serving. I'm certain Bush would want to be the shadow president of this shadow government.

"In Washington we need to show humility and be the loyal opposition. I actually think we need to organize ourselves in the form of a shadow government and make it based on policy and not on partisanship," he said. "People are sick and tired of the partisanship, just for partisan sake, but they aren't sick and tired of a loftier debate about policy."

Policy instead of partisanship? That doesn't describe the Republican party we've grown to love. They have no policy and they represent no ideas. The only reason they exist is partisanship.

Besides that point we've seen how the GOP governs. Their method of governance has left the economy in shambles and millions of people dead. The adults are about to take over again to try and fix the giant hash they've made of things. A Republican shadow government would have the same feeling as when they're actually in charge; the Lost Boys playing at being grown-ups.

Actually, as long as they don't have any actual power this might be a good idea. They can do less damage that way.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Oh, that's a wonderful place to start! Once you meet someone, you never really forget them.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving besides the fact we spent it with my Mother In Law.

The real fun was Saturday when we had don snabulus, Ladybug, Overdroid, Swinebread and Swinebreadina and Swinebread Jr. out to Faber University for a second Thanksgiving. Swinebread Jr. is just about the happiest baby I think I've ever ever met. This leads to all sorts of embarrassing mugging by the adults trying to get him to laugh some more.

Overdroid ran a round of old school Call of Cthulhu which was pretty fun. It's odd getting old enough to have our kids play with us. We stopped the Deep Ones from destroying Los Angeles with a tidal wave. Not that it would've been much of a loss to the world had we failed...

Besides getting our geek on we also spent a lot of time checking the score of the civil war as my Ducks destroyed the cocky OSU Beavers. Even though the Ducks have been spotty this year I had a feeling it would go this way despite home field advantage for the Beavers. This was the biggest game of the year for the Quack Attack and the Beavers would have a tough time not looking past their in state rivals.

Overdroid's girlfriend wisely decided that playing role playing games might not be the best use of her time while she was visiting so she headed downtown to the Portland Art Museum. Even though we're no Seattle, we have a pretty nice art museum which left her impressed.

Lest I forget: happy birthday to #1Animefan who turned 14 yesterday. You're my little sunshine, hon. Here's a Hayao Miyasaki video for you--