Archive for January, 2011


They lost control of the discussion again…

January 19, 2011

Political Theater at its best

Well, Republicans, y’all missed the point again…

For the past couple of weeks the news cycles and talk shows have been obsessed with two things: the Tucson shooting, and this whole issue of mean-spirited speech. It’s actually broader than that, but my point isn’t to clarify anything about those subjects. The Tucson sheriff is apparently politically motivated and he got his 15 minutes of fame. He chose to use it poorly. The liberals pulled out their “control of speech” playbook and found ways to shoehorn it into this situation. Despite what Rahm Emmanuel says, the liberals weren’t about to let this crisis, manufactured as it was, go to waste.

My point has to do with what should have been going on instead. The Republicans in Congress just lost control of the discussion again. They should have expressed their condolences and their hopes for a swift conclusion to this whole affair with justice being served. Then they should have gone back to the people’s business and moved on.

Instead, we have this “religious event”/pep rally last Wednesday night, which sounded like an embarrassment all around – I didn’t watch it. Even if Obama did speak eloquently, it has absolutely nothing to do with his job or the nation. What about one of those multiple-car pileups on the expressway, when as many people can be killed or injured as in this situation? Would Obama be able to make some sense about how that should impact the entire country? Of course not.

“But it’s a Congresswoman, so it matters!” All attacks matter. All murders matter. Every innocent kid who is gunned down in gang crossfire in Chicago matters. But Obama doesn’t come home and eulogize them. This was a political event staged for national political purposes. It had nothing to do with helping the victims’ families through their grief, seeking justice or even the greater moral issue of identifying and treating the mentally ill.

I don’t want to sound hard-hearted and say that congressmen don’t matter. But they don’t matter more than others, dear friends, despite what the chattering classes tell you. I am saddened by all the deaths and injuries that resulted from this madman’s rampage, but even though he focused his rage on a Congresswoman doesn’t mean the judge who died protecting another person doesn’t matter as much, or the nine-year-old girl. If anything, the young girl should elicit more grief from us – she had the most life before her to life, and was a completely innocent bystander.

But as Rush Limbaugh would tell you, thinking is more important in running the country than feeling. The Democrats would lead you to think that you should feel a tremendous outpouring of grief for these people. Then, when you realize you don’t, because the 24-hour news cycle of such things bombarding you daily has burned it out of you, you will feel guilty about it – and wonder to yourself, “Does that mean I’m one of those people they are saying are so bad? The ones who don’t care, like those Republicans in Congress, or Rush, or Hannity, or Mark Levin?”

Nope, you are just a human being. It’s pretty difficult to expand our relationships past that of our family, or our tribe. People die all the time for one reason or another that seem senseless. (That’s a question for another day.) It’s really impossible for us to feel deeply about all of them any more…in fact, I’m afraid it makes it more difficult for us to feel as deeply about those close to us, unless we focus on that sometimes. (Again, another topic for another time.)

But in this case the Congressional Democrats were using this in a cold and calculating way to divert attention from the actions and momentum of the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives. They are far better at this than Republicans ever have been, and to a degree that’s good – we should be taking the “high road.” But we can’t let them take over the national agenda time and time again, with manufactured items they tell us to pay attention to. Nothing about this was something Congress needs to pay attention to right now. Not this “new tone” business, or “spirit of compromise,” or whatever the Democrats call “we’re no longer in power but you’re still going to let us have our way.”

At least they got the Obamacare repeal through the House today. It won’t pass the Senate, probably, and if it does, Obama will veto it. Mark Levin says if that happens, send it again. And then send it again. And again, until the American people are up in arms about it enough to pressure him or it’s 2012 and he’s fired.

Speaking of which, I heard Donald Trump was looking at a 2012 Presidential bid. At first I thought it was silly. My son said, “Didn’t he declare bankruptcy once?” I think it may have been more than once. Still, how does that make him worse than your average Congresscritter? Look at the deficits they are running up! At least Trump knows how to run a business!

And it would be worth it just to hear him say to Obama, “You’re fired!”



WordPress iPad App Update

January 11, 2011

I have to mention that the new version of the WordPress iPad app, which I just downloaded today, seems to work much better than the last. Embedding images is easier, but resizing them gives unpredictable results at best. Italics and bold are still not supported and I don’t know how to embed a link, but the rest is at least improved a little.

I’m using the on-screen keyboard tonight as well. I tend to hit the wrong keys occasionally because of the lack of tactile feedback, but on the other hand the autocorrection function is a useful tool, most of the time!

Update January 29, 2011:

I tried to do the Chris Christie post (above) with the iPad and when trying to type the last paragraph, the app repeatedly crashed. I don’t know if there is a word limit (if so, why?) but it’s really frustrating. It’s still not ready for prime time, folks. Sorry. I love WordPress otherwise, but I would really like an app that made it easier to work with on the iPad. The iPhone, not so much…too small. WordPress guys, please? I’d pay for it! It doesn’t have to be free!


This is what I want for my birfday…

January 11, 2011

It doesn’t look easy to park. Changing lanes might even be difficult. On the other hand, maybe others might stay out of the way because it’s so intimidating.

Probably doesn’t get very good mileage, either. I still think it’s pretty sweet.

What do you mean, the rocket engines don’t really work?



Why should I leave Earth forever for Mars?

January 11, 2011

Mark Whittington put together an article about how 400 people have already volunteered to make the one-way trip to Mars as proposed in in an article in the Journal of Cosmology. Sure, it would be exciting, you would be a pioneer, all of that stuff, but that’s not why I would go.

It’s because it’s probably the only way to avoid the Zombie Apocalypse.



It’s A Trap!

January 11, 2011

Yeah, they really were outmanned and outgunned…and trust a smuggler like Han Solo?

I don’t think so.

And a darkness fell over the Galaxy…


Blogging from the iPad

January 9, 2011

Grrr...just use Pages and punt!

The short of it: you can’t really do it. The WordPress app won’t let you do links or any rich text functions without writing HTML. In that case, just write the frackin’ HTML in a text editor! I tried something called BlogPress that looked promising and was getting pretty good reviews. Maybe it’s OK for short posts. I got about 500 words into the “V” post below and it crashed. It did so repeatedly, every time I opened it. I tried using the WordPress web page from iPad Safari, and from Mercury, Atomic Web, and something just called “Browser.” None will let you embed links, and the copy/paste function Apple implements on the iPad is sort of OK, but frustrating unless you expand the page.

Finally I punted. I wrote the post in Pages, determined to blog on the iPad, dammit. Then I got LogMeIn Ignition, and logged onto my Mac. It costs $ 30, but it’s worth it for any time you need access to your machine from someplace else. It was very easy to set up and it was reasonably fast. I need the mouse icon to be a bit bigger to insert, cut and paste properly, because most of the time I was moving the screen around by accident. (I had expanded it because the iPad screen is smaller.) I got a link inserted and an image, but it took about twice as long as normal. I’m sure my speed will improve with time. I just wish WordPress would fix their app. Put some programmers on it and charge some money; it’s OK. I’d rather have a $ 5 – 10 app that works than a free one that’s worthless! Duh!


The continuing story of “V”

January 8, 2011

And who might this be? Hmmm?

Apparently the second-season premiere of “V” didn’t catch on with viewers, no matter how much advertising the ABC network put into it ahead of time.

I watched it last night. I have to tell you, there is some interesting stuff now on the show, but not enough. I think I know what would help, too:

Get some writers who know science fiction!

I mean, really – everybody thinks they know enough about aliens, and that aliens can be and do just about anything. No knowledge  of physics is required, no chemistry or biology either.

Every science fiction TV show, story, or novel requires some suspension of disbelief. Most kinds of fiction require it in some way. Do you really believe that all those crazy kinds of murders go on in Las Vegas, one a week?  Who would go there on vacation? Or that the CSIs in Miami have computer technology 20 years ahead of what we have in the real world?

Those writers know just how to walk the fine line so viewers stay interested but don’t sit back and say, “That’s just too freakin’ outrageous! I can’t watch this any more!” (Well, all of them but the writers on “CSI: Miami,” in my opinion. They’re waaaay over the top now, and I can’t watch it.)

Incidentally, I think there are two reasons why the original CSI has been better for the last two years: Lawrence Fishburne joined the cast, and they hired David Weddle and Bradley Thompson to exec produce. They were Ron Moore’s secret weapons running the writers’ room on the recent reimagined version of “Battlestar Galactica.” (Even though they made their writing chops on “Deep Space Nine.” But then, Moore came from “Star Trek: Next Generation” himself. Both of those shows, of course, made most aliens humans with latex heads.)

But back to my point. Most TV writers see aliens as either humans, usually with British accents and latex heads (see above), with usual human motivations and emotions, or as sort of the ultimate deus ex machina – they can do anything, be anything, and their motivations need no consistency. (See the film “Star Trek V” for one of the worst abuses of this idea.)

Our societies and cultures ares dictated by our environment, sure, but first and foremost by our biology. The built-in dual-sex mammalian  makeup of humanity imposes certain restrictions on our behaviors and motivations, whether we be tenth-century Mongols or present-day Americans. Human behavior for the last three or four thousand years has been more similar than different, when viewed from outside of humanity by aliens.

The V aliens ares supposed to be lizard-like, but we see them covered with a blanket of something similar to human flesh. Even the humans who know what the aliens really are tend to look at them as humans because the speak our language and look like us. (And they have one working with them…and he’s too “human” to be believable to me.)

Hopefully the writers will use this to their advantage this year. The idea that we are completely suckered by the aliens is an old one, but can be useful to this show if they can then show the incredible alienness of their real selves. In the old series there was some business about them needing water, then really wanting us as food; neither made any sense. (For water, go get a comet; it’s closer than going to another solar system. And why would we be food compatible with their biology, anyway?)

So what do these “pseudo-lizards” want? We don’t know yet. They’ve had advance teams here for quite a while – generations, perhaps. This merging of human and lizard doesn’t make any biological sense unless there is something else that went on in the past of which we are not aware. And the little bit of terraforming the red rain is supposed to be doing may be making the Earth more congenial for them, but do they need us for something? If not, why not just kill us all off and be done with it? Why the infiltration and deception? Slavery?
They can’t be “lizards” because they didn’t evolve on Earth. We have less in common with them than we do with bacteria.

So the job for the writers is to give the aliens motivations that ring true with the audience while not being human motivations. They have to do this while making the humans people we care about. So far I think they’ve had trouble with both of these. They need to make the aliens alien enough and give the humans a bit more humanity.