It Is the End…


I started this blog back in 2008, during the Presidential primaries. Since then I’ve blogged at least a little on almost every subject you can think of, and had a generally good time doing it.

Originally I did daily blogging, but beginning last year, I faltered, and started to miss days here and there. Then finally came the time where I missed articles on a regular basis. This is only the third article for the entire month of December, for example; a month that ends shortly.

And so…I am done. The blog is finished. I might still publish the occasional special article here and there (live-blogging the SOTU, for example, or the debates and election results), but I’m done blogging regularly, and I suspect months will now go by without anything new. Consider this, I suppose, less of an Andrew Sullivan move, and more like the plans Roger Ebert had just before his death. “A leave of presence” he called it.

I’m also largely done writing articles and reviews for various websites. I’ve enjoyed doing it over the years, but the time has come for that to end. It’s become way more like work and a lot less like fun.

But fear not; I will still be around in some form. For example, I’m starting a blog to review Big Finish titles. I have no idea how often it’ll be updated, but take it from me: writing a review a week is way easier than writing an article a day, and I’m pretty sure it won’t devolve to me just posting up random videos.

So there you have it. Sic transit Blogging with Badger. Thank you everyone for reading over the years! Your comments and feedback were always welcome and wonderful, and I’ll miss those way more than just about anything else.

Stay badgery!

Some Thoughts on The Force Awakens


I said the basic thrust of this on Facebook, but I’m going to go into more spoilery depth here. This picture, though, generally sums up my opinion.

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SPOILERS from here on out.

So the first time I watched it, on release day, I came in expecting to be wowed. I wanted to be blown away, and to be so very impressed. I expected I wasn’t going to be, but I wanted to be.

I wasn’t.

The first screening, I give a B-. It was a good movie, but not a great movie. Decent, not bad, but merely ok. Neither The Phantom Menace nor Empire Stikes Back, but rather some very basic place right in the middle.

Upon the second viewing, I dropped the film down to a C. Frankly, I was bored. Repeat viewings did not do this movie any favors, though to be fair, even the first viewing felt like a repeat, since it was basically a warmed-over version of A New Hope.

There were plenty of things that I liked. I liked Rey quite a bit, and I was very pleased that the two main characters were played by a black man and a woman. I also liked BB-8 quite a bit more than I expected to, and the idea of the new Big Bad being a whiny emo brat worked far better than I had expected, too.

But really, that’s about it. The story is so much like the first movie that it isn’t even funny, and I’m confused about some of the choices they made with it. Ok, give Rey a little quest and stuff, but why did she have to be on yet another desert planet? And why not, if you’re already going to do that, just make that planet Tatooine? That would have made basically zero sense, but doing it this way in the first place makes so little sense that it wouldn’t have hurt the credibility any.

I was also very disappointed in the ultimate fate of one of the characters who, yes, died for all the right reasons, but had clearly never seen a movie or a TV show, or read a book, since that death was so telegraphed, it might as well have been delivered by Western Union.

I was further disappointed in the fact that the movie went an extra several minutes past where it should have ended. There was a very clear end point to the movie (it was staged exactly like the final scenes in all the other films), and yet they decided to continue past that point to something that should have been a post-credits sequence. Yes, this series has never done that before, but I would have accepted it here.

JJ Abrams is, at his most basic, a decent director. Nothing he’s ever made has been truly amazing, though little of it has been bad (Star Trek Into Darkness being a notable exception). I’m frankly not sure why he doesn’t get more flack from movie fans, because he’s really not all that great, and he showed that here. He remade the first Star Wars movie, made it a bit “eh”, showed us nothing that was really new or amazing, and really wasted an opportunity to make a game-changer of a film. You know, like what George Lucas did in 1977.

This isn’t a bad movie at all, but it wasn’t great. I don’t regret seeing it, and I’m looking forward to the next one, but…I really wanted more and I just didn’t get it.

Yes, Trump is a Facist


One popular fad these days is to compare Donald Trump to Hitler/other Nazis. One of my friends made a smirking comment to me about how they preferred Trump’s speeches, “in the original German”. Ho, ho. As if that hasn’t been said about basically every politician since 1946.

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fig 1. Not Hitler

Trump is not a Nazi. He’s also not a Communist. He’s a Republican, but only by virtue of how much support he’s getting from people who call themselves such.

No, what Trump is is something very different, and something we’ve not seen in American politics at this level, or at least haven’t seen in quite some time.

Trump is, simply, a fascist. This is not a term I use lightly. He’s a fascist by any reasonable definition of the term, and is pushing a fascist agenda.

Benito_Mussolini_Duce

fig 2. Not Trump, but disturbingly close

It can be quite tough finding a definition for fascism, but it’s kind of like porn; hard to define, but you know it when you see it. I think we can agree that, historically, fascism  has included much of the following:

  1. Creating a sense of threat against the nation.
  2. Ignoring facts in favor of rhetoric, and accusing people of lying when they tell bring up the facts.
  3. Blaming certain minority groups for the nation’s troubles.
  4. Singling out those minority groups for special sanction.
  5. Talking about restoring your nation to a glorious past, when all was right and perfect.
  6. Endorsing violence against those who disagree with you.
  7. Favoring a strong, active, and expansive, military that you will use at every given opportunity.
  8. Subordinating individual freedom to the state and making capitalism serve it as well.

Trump certainl hits 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7. He flirts with 6, in that he doesn’t disavow violence and doesn’t seem to mind when his supporters mete it out. He doesn’t support 8.

Still, six-and-a-half out of eight isn’t great. While I doubt that Trump will ever go the full eight, the mere fact that a major American political figure hits this many marks on the fascist scale is troubling, and says nothing good at all about the modern Republican party.

I continue to believe that Trump will never get the Republican nomination (he continues to poll extremely  high, but the number of people who don’t support him far outweighs those who do), yet it does disturb me that someone like this, who has no political experience, and whose only real talent is making a lot of money (which isn’t that impressive), is doing as well in the polls as he is. Yes, the first elections are still a month or so away, but it still bothers me. We’re a better nation than this. Hopefully the GOP is a better party than this.

A Pavlova for You


My signature dessert at parties has, of late, become the pavlova. It’s a wonderful dessert with origins in New Zealand. I’ve often had people ask me how to make one. So check this video, which is where I learned how, and enjoy! Happy Thanksgiving!

 

And one word of advice: in the pavlova base, don’t use powdered sugar. It just…doesn’t work.

This Is Worth Seeing


Continuing my new goal of largely posting positive things,  here’s this.

How Not to Respond to Terrorism


The French are attacking ISIS, as we all expected them to. Well, at last those of us who know history, and know that the French military has always been a force to reckon with. Anyhow, they’re bombing the shit out of the targets in Syria, and will no doubt kill a large number of ISIS personnel.

129 people were killed, so far, in the attacks in Paris, which is terrible. But how many more innocent people are dying as a result of the response? I’m willing to bet the number ends up being a lot more than 129, but, hey, it’s their fault for living in Syria and not trying to get out, right?

Attacking someone violently who has hurt you feels good. It makes you feel powerful and superior. It’s also a terrible idea in general, and a really terrible idea in cases like this. I mean, what, you surely don’t think that ISIS launched these attacks saying, “No, the French won’t attack us. No one will.”

No, they launched the attacks hoping to get exactly the kind of response that they’re getting. They want the violence. They want the death, and giving your enemy what they want is generally a bad move. The French attacks on them are a great publicity coup, and will help mightily in recruitment. You doubt me? Put yourself in the shoes of a 20 year old Syrian man whose mother was killed by a French bomb and tell me you wouldn’t want revenge. Hell, you’re probably just some American sitting at your desk reading this, and you already want revenge against ISIS. Now make it even more personal.

Violence begats violence, because of course it does. We have to stop lashing out militarily when bad shit like this goes down. It never works, it kills a lot more innocent people (100,000 plus in Iraq as a direct result of our invasion and the fallout from it), and it’s a waste of time and money.

You know what would be far better? Leading by example. Showing the world that we’re the better man by not using our military and simply showing how terrified we are, and what a bully we are. No, preach peace, preach justice, keep the military away from it all, and treat it like the crime that it is. Arrest those responsible, when you can, try them, and imprison them.

I’ll admit, that’s difficult in a situation like this, where ISIS was inspiring/directing from a distance, but even with this kind of situation, the best should do is support local opposition to ISIS. Even then we have to be careful. Historically it’s rather embarrassing, after all, when the dictator we prop up fights back against people wanting democracy and uses weapons we gave him to do so. So to when someone sees their village flattened by weapons that are stamped with, “MADE IN THE USA”.

But we can fight ISIS and the like in other ways, such as various economic means, plus isolating them as much as possible from the rest of the world. We can also continue to be vigilant and do our best to stop any terrorism here by Americans or from people overseas.

I know this is lots less sexy, and slower, and far more uncertain, than invading countries, bombing cities, and otherwise bullying our way around the world. But I’m willing to take that over the certainty of more violence, where the only “certain” things are more death, and more terrorists.

A Funny Conversation


In the interest of people being cheered-up, I thought I’d share the content of a conversation I had with a co-worker recently.

ME: 3 and 5 aren’t prime numbers.

HIM: What? Yes, they are.

ME: No, they aren’t. Because you can add 3 and 5 together to get 35.

HIM: What?

ME: Yeah. Any two numbers that you can add together aren’t prime.

HIM: But that’s all numbers.

ME: Right, that’s why we have imaginary numbers. Those are the only ones that are prime.

HIM: …

ME: Look, it’s not my fault if you don’t understand how math works.

HIM: …I hate you so much.

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