Friday, March 20, 2009

(Quote to be inserted later.)

Help! I can't pick the appropriate "Real Genius" quote to use as a title for this post on this laser story.

"Ok… they’re not actually phasers, but we are going to be seeing some seriously big honking lasers. Northrop Grumman has apparently broken one of the technological barriers to development and built a laser with more than 100 kW output which should pretty much fry anything in its sights."

Here are the contenders...

A) "It's a chemical laser but in solid, not gaseous, form. Put simply, in deference to you, Kent, it's like lasing a stick of dynamite."

B) "Let's just take a step back. No, I was wrong, I'm sorry, take a step forward. Now, take a step back. Step forward. Back. And then we're cha-cha-ing!"

C) "Sir, let me take this moment to compliment you on your fashion sense, particularly your slippers."

D) "You, huh? Well you won't get away with this. Doctor Hathaway's gonna hear all about this. You'll rue the day!"

E) "OK, if you think that by threatening me, you can get me to be your slave, well... that's where you're right, but - and I'm only saying this because I care - there are a lot of decaffeinated brands on the market today that are just as tasty as the real thing."

I know most of those have nothing to do with the story, I just like the quotes. Vote early and vote often!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

There's another old saying, Senator: Don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining.

While bitching about AIG this week I was accused of being a "populist." Obviously "populist" along with "teleprompter," "post facto" and "Dodd" are the words of the week for the kiddies over at "Wingnut Street." (The most dysfunctional children's show ever conceived.)

I've argued politics on the internet since Al Gore invented the damned thing, so when I tell you that there's little that can jar me anymore you'll know where I'm coming from. This "populist" as an insult thing left me at a loss for words.

In the first place "populism" is not on it's face a dirty word. Popular anger at the elites in our society is as American as apple pie or making fun of Brittany Spears. It's certainly more a part of the American tradition than mounting some pathetic those same elites.

There's something deeply troubling about some middle class schmo grovelling in defense of people who would not toss him a rope if he was drowning. Can "Renfield" be used as an adjective?

(Peter Lorre voice) "The Master has a contract to suck her blood. Stopping the Master from feeding is unconstitutional." (/Peter Lorre voice)

So I was very happy to see E.J. Dionne's defense of populism in today's Washington Post. Dionne gets it--

"We are at the beginning of a great popular rebellion against those who showed no self-restraint when it came to lining their own pockets. Their entitlement mentality arose from an inflated sense of their own value and of how much smarter they were than everyone else.

The sound you are hearing in response to the AIG payoffs -- excuse me, bonuses -- is the rancorous noise of their arrogance crashing to earth.

Yet there is much hand-wringing that this populist fury is terribly perilous, that the highfliers who could not control their avaricious urges have skills essential to repairing the damage they caused in the first place."

I believe it was Jesse Jackson who said "it's not 'trickle down' economics, it's 'trickle on' economics with poor and the middle class on the receiving end."

Couple that idea with the John Vernon quote at the top of this post. "Don't piss on our backs and tell us it's raining." We know better than that, we're not that stupid. It's your folks that are catching and eating flies.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

We are not the members of a democracy, Father. We are the members of an order.

I've mentioned many times that I don't like pope Ratzinger.

As a fallen catholic I've sort of decided that in most cases it doesn't matter what the catholic church does as long as they stay out of the rest of the world's business. Live and let live.

But condoms and AIDS prevention in Africa are very much the world's business. The pope is once again asserting a morally indefensible position and shaming the entire catholic church in the process.

I know individual catholics have nothing to do with that man assuming the throne of St. Peter. There are many, many catholics who disagree with the pope who've decided to keep their heads down and focus instead on making their communities better. I admire those people.

Nevertheless; I will not set foot in a catholic church until there's a different, less morally compromised man leading the church.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Rabbit or hare? You're looking at Brian of Knocknasheega, king of all the Leprechauns!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I'm a bit concerned because I'm peeing green but I haven't had any green beer yet.

I'll raise a pint to you anyway with my favorite Irish toast:

May you die in bed at 95, shot by a jealous spouse.



Monday, March 16, 2009

If we were YOUR kids, we'd punish ourselves.

I can't believe some some progressive blogs are getting caught up in the AIG/ Employment law question where AIG is arguing that failing to honor contracts with regards to bonuses could put them in violation of the law.

It's all such bullshit. Some executive at AIG decided he wanted his bonus but realized that in this climate with millions of Americans feeling the short end of their terrible corporate decisions and taxpayers on the hook for 150 million bucks that there would be a shitstorm if the bonuses were awarded.

So he ordered someone in legal to come up with an excuse as to why they HAD to award the bonuses because their hands were tied.

Stop over thinking this people.

God has a plan, Gaius. He has a plan for everything, and everyone.


This last Friday I had the pleasure of drinking a pitcher of India Pale Ale while enjoying the next to last episode of Battlestar Galactica with 1000 other fans of the show and actress Katee Sakhoff who plays Starbuck.

I'm obviously a fan of the new Battlestar Galactica. It hasn't always fired on all cylinders but it has consistently been one of the best shows on television, better than 99% of the other tripe broadcast IMHO.

As a boy in the 70s I loved the original Battlestar Galactica. I loved the idea of an aircraft carrier in space. I thought Dirk Benedict as the original cigar smoking Starbuck was cooler than shit. I pined over the beautiful Jane Seymour in her short stint in the show. I loved the vipers and the Cylon raiders building models of both. Hell- I even loved Boxey and his robot Daggit.

But not every fan of the original has come along for Ron Moore's darker reimagining of the original series. Many fans of the original have turned a thumb's down to the new Battlestar. They don't like it's politics, including it's seeming turn towards a "24" pro-torture sentiment a couple of seasons ago. They think Ron Moore doesn't like the original show. Both of these criticisms leave me scratching my head.

If you look at the political sentiment expressed in the original Battlestar Galactica the prevailing theme seems much more reprehensible to me. Essentially the original Battlestar was arguing for that the best form of government was a benign military dictatorship. Again and again the democratically elected political leadership made decisions that threatened the future of humanity until a military leader - Commander Adama - had to step in and save their bacon.

The new BSG has always been a sort of counterpoint to post-9/11 America. The writers have tackled issues that were ignored by the mainstream media in asking questions about the dangers of paranoia, or the danger of allowing the military to control our society.

When it comes to torture they've done ticking time bomb torture scenes, but they've also aired Abu Ghraib scenes that show the cost of torture. In short- they've accomplished what the best science fiction is able to do - they make you THINK about issues in ways that are often uncomfortable.

But perhaps the strangest idea I'm confronted with by fans of the old show is that Ron Moore doesn't respect the original series. One of the many reasons I like this new show so much is that it regularly nods to the original series in big ways and small. From the genius move of casting Richard Hatch as a former terrorist to the sheer number of episodes built off of original episodes, of the series it's clear to me that Moore has a love of the original. The first part of the finale aired Friday began with that same shot of the nebula from the original BSG show. That scene wasn't put in there for fans of reimagined BSG.

As the new BSG rides off into the sunset this next Friday I'm looking at the loss of this series with genuine sadness (the Sci-Fi network will now be completely unwatchable.) Simple scenes like Doctor Cottell volunteering for the last one-way mission or Adama helping his frail love president Roslin cross the line still choke me up. Make no mistake about it- BSG is a jewel in a sea of American Idol on television. It's passing won't be a good thing.