Antideutschen Rassismus und Sie!


First, check this ad. Or, if you’re in Bavaria, Czech this ad.

So…how is this not racist in nature? I mean, I don’t wanna be one of those white guys who thinks everyone is secretly racist against whites, but, seriously. If this were an ad for Chinese food that featured someone with a Fu-Manchu mustache and wearing a conical hat talking about how this is, “Vely, vely good Chinese food! Number one best for you!” wouldn’t that be racist? That of course would, and wouldn’t be ok, but is it ok in this case?

I’m actually going to say no. The little blond kid the lederhosen doesn’t need to be there. I’m sure there’s a way Pillsbury could express the vaguely German nature of their food without him.

On the Eve of a Vote


Well, by this time tomorrow, give or take, we will hopefully know what the future of a nation will be, and if the Kingdom will remain United.

Yes, tomorrow the Scots get together and vote on whether or not Scotland should pull out of the United Kingdom and go their own way as an independent nation for the first time since 1707. The queen would apparently remain the Queen of Scotland as well. Well, unless the Jacobites resurface (and then they can pick from two choices!)

For the record, I expect that the vote will fail by about three or four percentage points, and to that I say good. I think Scotland’s future is best if it remains a part of the United Kingdom, and that’s not even going into all the logistical paperwork they’d face otherwise, with things like the UN, the EU, NATO and the like.

But if the vote goes for independence, well, the fallout will be interesting to see. I’m sure the transition would be peaceful and relatively easy, with hurt feelings on both sides that would subside after a couple of generations. But the larger question is what would happen elsewhere in Europe.

The Catalans have already made plans to have a referendum voting on independence for their part of Spain; an idea which the Spanish government is rejecting as unofficial and not going to happen. But an independent Scotland would put Catalonia in a stronger position. The same holds true for the Basques of the region who wand their Basque country. It could also lead to further agitation in places like South Ossetia and Ukraine.

Further, if the transition for Scotland is indeed peaceful and quiet, then it could serve as a model for countries like Belgium, which constantly seems on the verge of breaking apart.

I do hope the vote fails, but time will tell, and regardless, I’m sure it’ll all be ok in the end.

Marching as to War


Tonight, President Obama will be doing a televised address to the country wherein it sounds like he’ll be sending us off to war in Iraq. Again. Yes, twice wasn’t enough; apparently third try’s the charm or something.

I’m really not happy about this. Yes, it’s going to be targeted airstrikes in Iraq and, apparently, Syria, and that’s better than actually invading again. But…well, it’s still us getting involved in a situation that is perhaps best left for those actually affected by it (Iraq, Turkey, Syria, the Kurds), to deal with; something which, you will notice, they aren’t generally concerned enough to do. Instead, we’re just going to muscle in and bomb shit.

And why? Because two Americans were killed.

Let me emphasize this: we’re about to begin airstrikes that will likely kill thousands, if not tens of thousands, of people, some of them civilians, because two Americans were killed.

ISIS/ISIL does not currently pose a threat to us. They may at some point in the future, but the same can be said for various religious terrorist groups around the world, from places like Sri Lanka to Ireland.

By attacking ISIS/ISIL, all we’re doing is playing into their hands. All we’re doing is being everything they accuse us of being. We might well wipe them out, it is true, though we haven’t managed that with Al Qaeda after thirteen years of effort, but if we do wipe them out, what do you think will happen? A new terrorist group will spring up in their place. Well, I say “a” up there. More likely it’ll be a few dozen, and it will be made up of young Syrians and Iraqis who will say, “Those Americans killed my mother when they bombed us! They will pay!”

We’re also sending a message to the world about how easy it is to make us dance to their tune, and about how we’re willing to act based on emotion, especially fear, rather than what’s logical and best. This is not something that I had expected from our President, and I’m quite disappointed in him right now.

I also really hope Congress continues to step up in this case and demand that the President come to them for approval on this plan. I’d frankly like to see severe restrictions on the President’s ability to send our military around the world and engage in combat. The Constitution says only Congress can declare war. Happy day, that means we haven’t been at war since 1945.

This whole thing strikes me as a bad, stupid idea that will do nothing but backfire spectacularly. I hope I’m wrong, but I think I’m not.

Book Review – Doctor Who: Engines of War by George Mann


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Ever since the War Doctor (or the Other Doctor, or the Predator, or the Renegade, or whatever we want to call him), was introduced last year, fans have been wondering just who he is. What was this man like, who seemed so similar to the Doctor we know and love, yet apparently was very, very different? Now we get a glimpse at what this man was all about.

Doctor Who: Engines of War starts off on a distant planet, where a young woman, nicknamed Cinder, is fighting back against the Daleks. The rebellion isn’t going well, and she’s about to be killed by one of the Daleks, when the Doctor’s TARDIS crash-lands and saves her. From that point, Cinder and the Doctor travel together, trying to unearth the secrets of a new Dalek weapon and save…well, therein lies the conflict. For the Doctor can save the Time Lords, but in doing so would be allowing them to commit a great crime. His moral dilemma forms the crux of the story.

I very much enjoyed this tale. It helps that I’m very fond of the old series, so I recognized many of the references (“The Five Doctors” in particular is heavily referenced), but I suspect even new series fans who have never seen an episode of the old series will be able to keep up just fine. I also appreciated the connections between the new series and old. Having an appearance by a certain Lord President of dubious character was quite fun, especially as he’s still wearing a glove I like to refer to as “The Hand of Omega”, but probably isn’t.

As for drawbacks, well, there really weren’t any, aside from the fact that I was left wanting more. This story is clearly supposed to be the War Doctor’s last adventure before the events we saw in “The Day of the Doctor”, and so I do hope someone at some point goes back and fills in more blanks. It would be lovely if Big Finish were able to do so, but failing that, more novels would be great.

A good story all around and one that I highly recommend.

TV Review – Doctor Who – “Robots of Sherwood”


So the Doctor and Clara go back to the year 1190 (give or take), and run into Robin Hood, the Sheriff of Notingham, and various robots. And…that’s about what you need to know for the plot summary. Oh, there’s some strangeness involving an alien spaceship, and thus the robots, and the Sheriff’s mad plan to rule the world!, but all you really need to know is the Doctor, Clara, and Robin Hood.

By rights a story that lame-sounding, and from a writer like Mark Gatiss, whose TV Who episodes have been very hit-or-miss, should fail on every level. That it is more of a success than a fail is a great, but very welcome, surprise.

First, kudos to Gatiss for incorporating a great deal of the Robin Hood mythos. We have the Sheriff, of course, and mention of King John (as well as mention of King Richard, whom the Doctor once met). There’s also lots of stuff about Maid Marion, and even the archery contest; something that was suspiciously absent from a very popular Robin Hood adaptation, though to be fair, that one did at least find a way to shoehorn in a character played by Morgan Freeman, so there’s that. Also, really, the sword-vs-spoon duel was quite great, even if it doesn’t fit into the mythos.

Second, it was nice to see Clara given something to do. She’s really just sort of been “there” as a companion for me, and nothing terribly great. Watching her actually get the chance to try and do something was nice.

And lastly, the casting really makes this story. Tom Riley makes for an excellent Robin, and a great foil for the Doctor (vice versa, of course), and Ben Miller obviously had a great time hamming it up as the evil Sheriff, and really, what actor wouldn’t? It’s a pretty great role.

Now I will say that the story sort of falls apart in the last ten minutes or so, and the revelation about the true nature of Robin Hood was a bit eye-rolling. But still, it was a good episode all around, and that wasn’t something I had expected from an admittedly odd premise.

So, What Are Your Thursday Lunch Plans?


Whatever they may be, please make sure they don’t include fast food. You see, fast food workers across the country are engaging in a one-day walkout in protest of low wages. Good for them! They’ve done this before, but this time there are also plans for civil disobedience.

Workers speaking to msnbc the week before Thursday’s strike were not able to confirm whether any acts of civil disobedience would take place. However, they referenced their willingness to do “whatever it takes” on several occasions.

“I don’t even know if that’s in the strategy,” said Darrell Roper, a New York-based Burger King employee, regarding the possibility of illegal activity. “All I can say is that we all came together and we all decided we’ll do whatever it takes to get $15.”

I say “Good”, or rather, “Good depending on how far it goes.” See, civil disobedience in the non-violent fashion (ie: refusing to leave an area or whatever), is a fine and acceptable practice. As long as there isn’t any “direct action” (ie: let’s blow shit up), then I have no problem with it, and I think it could indeed do a great job of getting attention where it needs to be.

So good luck to my brethren out there in the labor movement. I’ll be pulling for you guys, and I won’t be setting foot near any fast food places tomorrow!

TV Review – Doctor Who – “Into the Dalek”


Back in the day, Doctor Who could be a fairly trippy little show. There was a Second Doctor story where he and his companions journeyed to the Land of Fiction, where they met Gulliver, and where Jamie temporarily “regenerated” because the Doctor couldn’t remember his face accurately. There was a Fourth Doctor story where the Doctor and Leela were cloned and shrunk down to microscopic size so the Doctor could traipse about inside his own brain. And then there’s today’s episode, which owes a bit to that story, “The Invisible Enemy” and to a First Doctor story, “Planet of Giants” (a story which, ironically, was supposed to be the second in the series before being replaced by “The Daleks).

This episode has the Doctor, by himself, arriving at a spaceship full of soldiers who also have an injured Dalek; a Dalek who believes all Daleks are evil and that their constant war of destruction is pointless, because life will, as was once observed, find a way. The Doctor goes back to Earth and snags Clara, bringing her to the ship so that the two can be shrunk down, along with a few redshirts, and go inside the Dalek to find out what’s making it “good”. Along the way the Doctor is forced to confront his own prejudices and we get to see an army of Daleks doing what Daleks do, instead of screwing around cloning pigs and serving tea to WWII British soldiers.

There was a great deal that I liked about this story. In fact, I liked basically everything about it. It really “felt” quite a lot like an old series episode, and that’s to its credit. There were some amazingly trippy scenes and bizarre camera work that reminded me quite a bit of the stuff that was done back in the day. Further, Capaldi really shines here, showing exactly why he was chosen to be the Doctor, and proving that he very much belongs in the role. The story itself was gripping and intelligent, and is easily the best Dalek story since the Ninth Doctor first met them. In fact I’d go so far as to say it is one of the best new Who episodes to date, and that’s saying something. Oh, and as a special bonus, this is two for two for series eight episodes that aren’t set on contemporary Earth. Next week will bring us up to three for three. I like that trend.

This story also had some great pacing, and did a wonderful job of introducing a new character in the form of Danny Pink. I’m quite keen to see what happens with his character, and if current fan theories about his identity prove to be true.

All in all, as I write this, I realize that I have zero complaints about this story, and that’s saying something. It really was really good, and I hope it bodes well for the rest of the series.

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