You can probably skip this post if you haven’t seen or read The Expanse and have no interest in doing so. And if you have any interest in doing so, my advice is to watch it and/or read it, whatever is your pleasure. Then you can come back, though this isn’t a deep post or anything.
I needed something to watch recently, and The Expanse was recommended to me. I really enjoyed it and recommend it to space ship sci fi people. Which I am not even, really. My main frustration is that it butted right up against some ideas that I had (Earth vs Mars with Ceres as a very important place).
I enjoyed it so much that afterwards I immediately went to the novels, which so far I like even more. The show is pretty faithful to the novels, with some rather big exceptions:
- The James Holden character is actually a leader in the books. On the TV show, he is basically the leader because he’s the protagonist and the protagonist needed to be a leader. In the books, he’s a leader and he’s the protagonist because he’s the leader. It seems like a subtle difference, maybe, but it’s abundantly clear how he became the second in command of the Canterbury.
- The Amos character is way better on the TV show. He may be the only character that is. On the TV show he’s just a mechanically skilled oaf, for the most part. On the show he has this weird intensity.
- The Holden/Naomi affair is so much better in the book. The pro forma feel of the TV show is kind of annoying. He’s the leader, she’s the #2, so of course they have to get it on. In the book it’s much more organic and I find myself actually caring about them.
- I get a kick out of the fact that Martians have a Texas drawl, even when they’re of South Asian descent. I don’t know why, but it’s cool. It was kind of nondescript on the show.
- There is a gaping hole in the first book where I kept expecting Chrisjen Avasarala to be. She was our window into what Earth was doing and why. Without that, their actions were just as mysterious as Mars. I’m on the second book now and am glad she is making an appearance.
- I really liked the mole character from the TV show and was disappointed that he didn’t appear in the book. Without Chrisjen he had no place in the book, but maybe now with Chrisjen there will be an equivalent character.
- I found it interesting that Mormons were pretty much the only remaining religion. Though the book makes a reference to Buddha, I guess.
- It’s really interesting the characters that were recast as white in the TV show. Interesting in part because was not an especially white cast on the whole. I guess they felt like for commercial reason there had to be limits.
- In both: The ability of the writers to make the Belters objectively sympathetic but kind of obnoxious is cool. There must have been a temptation to give them all hearts of gold or whatever. But there’s a “they are what they are, and they deserve rights like anyone else” that really works.
Anyway, that’s all I have. Maybe I’ll add more later. I’m looking forward to getting to know Mars more, which I expect will come. And seeing what happens on Venus (Earth and Mars vs Venus, maybe?). Looking forward to trucking through the books. Unless it gets too stupid.
Voltron was one of my favorite cartoons as a kid. I remember that we used to play it on the playground. We were all boys, so we did this thing where we pretended that the original blue lion was actually a guy. At least, I thought we were making that up so that we could get someone to be the blue lion, but it actually appears to be true. Another thing I remember from back in the day was that I thought they switched from Lion Voltron to Car Voltron so that they could sell new toys (and not because, it turns out, they were using existing footage). In both of these cases I was in elementary school and had cynical ideas way ahead of my time. I didn’t have any taste, though, because it turns out that the show is just really bad.
The Netflix one is actually good! It is, in fact, as good a version of Voltron as I can possibly imagine existing.
And yet… I have no interest in watching anymore. It was gorgeous. They made the mythology make as much sense as possible. They gave the characters life. They did everything I could ask of them. Yet, instead of making the story more compelling, the relative realism elsewhere just drew attention to the fact that it’s the story of five robotic lions creating a giant mecha warrior. There’s just no getting around that.
I am not sure why it is that I can accept superheroes but have a problem with this. It’s not conditioning because I was exposed to Voltron as early as I was exposed to anything. It could be a technical plausibility thing. Superheroes are inherently mythical. Robots are machines are real, even if they are sentient like the lions. Not I find myself wishing that, instead of a story about robotic lions, all of that imagination had been dedicated to something else.
Of course, if it had, I probably wouldn’t have watched it.
I wore my sunglasses last night
Because I'm really not very bright
I got in a plane and flew very far
And left my regular glasses in my car.
— Will Truman (@trumwill) February 1, 2018
So last week we went to Disney World. And, as indicated in the above tweet, I did not bring any glasses. This was doubly frustrating because the possibility of leaving the sunglasses in my car is something I’d thought about. And it wouldn’t have been difficult to throw a spare pair of glasses into the suitcase just in case. But I didn’t. And when I got past security I realized that my transition lenses hadn’t transitioned. Because they weren’t transition lenses.
Fate did throw me a bone, however, because I had some contacts in my toiletry bag. The only problem is that I didn’t have any sunglasses. My eyes are sensitive enough that if I have to choose between wearing sunglasses indoors or contacts with no eye protection outdoors, I’ll take the former. I should have just purchased some sunglasses at Disney World, but I was irrationally thrifty.
The end result is that on the big first day, I was wearing sunglasses. When I say “the big first day” it was the day that we went in the morning and Lain and I didn’t leave until dark (or, in my case, really really really dark). Also, because of the way things shook out, I missed a couple of dimly lit indoor rides where I could barely see what was going on.
Despite being out of practice, the contacts went into my eyes seemlessly and I wore them the rest of the trip (with sunglasses).
Now I’m back and I know once I switch back to glasses, I’m probably not going to use these contacts again.
It’s a weirdly different experience wearing contacts after all this time. I haven’t worn any in at least two years. Once I got prescription sunglasses, I rarely felt the need. I see better with glasses. Except I can’t entirely. The world looks wonderful through my contacts. No fingerprint smudges. No dust. But I can barely read. Because of my astigmatism, I lose some of the detail front and center.
It reminds me of a Batman Animated Series episode where Bruce Wayne is stuck in a dream. Everything is vivid and life-like, but because it’s a dream he can’t read anything. (Which I think is a myth, actually, but I’ll roll with it.Photo by n4i.es
New York is looking at forcing Tide (and other such companies) to stop making their product look like candy:
Teenagers and some young adults have started an Internet trend called the “Tide Pod challenge,” in which they post videos online of themselves with Tide Pods in their mouth. Although the source of the problem is clearly the fact that reckless stupidity can get you internet fame, New York State Sen. Brad Hoylman and Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas — both New York City Democrats — believe that the problem is that people somehow do not understand the danger associated with swallowing commercial cleaning products, or perhaps that Tide Pods actually look appetizing to some people because of their colorful design.
According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, there have been over 80 cases of intentional misuse of Tide Pods reported so far in 2018, up from only 53 cases in all of 2017.
I thought the consumer rights people were exaggerating, but then I saw one and was gobsmacked. Yes, they really do look like candy. On the other hand, they don’t feel like candy once you pick them up. Tide has apparently made some movement towards fixing this by changing the colors up. I saw some the other day and instead of a white base they were green. Except for sour apple, there isn’t a whole lot of green candy out there. It did not look appetizing. So it seems like the problem self-corrected. For what really isn’t a huge problem, given the lack of actual incidents.
That said, I am not especially bothered by this government interference. The laundry pods we were using – which were not Tide – were black. So I know it’s possible, and it’s a pretty small revision for them to make.
I should note that the vaping community was on to this scourge well before the media. Back when there was concern about kids drinking ejuice, a lot of vaping advocates looked up the CDC statistics and found everyday things that were proving to be more of a problem. And so laundry pods would get mentioned:
Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, a nonprofit group dedicated to education about e-cigarettes and vapor products, said the concern about e-cigarettes is overblown.
The child who died, he said, consumed a homemade nicotine liquid concoction that’s much stronger than retail versions that are easily available in the United States. And, he added, laundry detergent pods and prescription medications are bigger poisoning risks to kids.
Which is my main concern about cracking down on laundry pod manufacturers: The fact that we regulate them will be later used to justify regulating other things where (unlike here) the proposed regulation is a burden. The regulation for ejuice packaging turned out okay, for whatever that’s worth. Basically, suppliers sidestepped them by shipping them in the child-proof containers but including an alternative top you could replace it with. And I suppose if they did start actually putting ejuice out in attractive colors I would be a little concerned.
When it comes to politics, few things are as instructive of partisan behavior as watching sports. The two may not be the same, but boy howdy do they rhyme.
This applies also when talking about politics and the media.
Anyway, Southern Tech recently made a controversial hire for its football program. He wasn’t controversial because he’s a bad coach, but because of some stuff that went on off the field that he probably knew about.
The Colosse Herald ran an opinion piece critical of the hire, and a news piece that spent 70% of the article talking about The Scandal. That seems a bit excessive to me, but only somewhat. The Scandal is half the story, in my view, maybe a little less. Other aspects of the story, such as the fact that he is a Packer alum and that he and his wife met at Southern Tech as well as his coaching career itself were all worthy of more note than they got. But though my judgment may differ, reasonable minds can differ on whether we’re talking about 40% of the story or 70% and at some point I have to admit I am a bit of a partisan here.
Anyway, I was on the forums and not surprisingly most people there took a different view. They were talking about canceling subscriptions and how the Herald owes it to the community to support the team. Some pointed out that’s not how journalism works.
Others pointed out that maybe the article wouldn’t have been so critical if Sotech hadn’t become so unfriendly to the media lately. This was used by sub-partisans against the athletics director who has taken a more restrictive attitudes towards the press. Others pointed out, retaliation is not how journalism works.
For the most part, though, there was the expectation that the media should be able to rise above shabby treatment by the Southern Tech athletics department, but also that it should understand the local market and cater to it by being supportive of the team.
Anyhow, this reminded me somewhat of criticisms of various attempts on the left to boycott the New York Times. A lot of the arguments come down to view that conservatives are never going to buy the paper so they should cater to the preferences of those that do (or they should pay a price). This is conducive to journalism when they are objecting to hiring a conservative columnist, for example, but it’s highly questionable when it comes to what political things they choose to cover and how they choose to cover them.
This is not inconsistent insofar as if you are a liberal and believe that reality has a liberal bias, then anything but what might be perceived by everybody who isn’t liberal as bias is in fact bias in the other direction. One of the nice things about the sports politics discussion is that fewer people are under time impression that such higher truths are in play. More people actually know they’re partisans.
Of course, on some level they are absolutely right about what the news outlets should be doing. It probably is in the best interest of the New York Times to cater to their audience and the audience with greater potential. They sometimes miss some of the nuances (ie just because Krugman gets forwarded more often than Stevens that doesn’t mean they’re financially better off getting more Krugmans and fewer Stevenses). As conservative viewers are siphoned off by expressly conservative outlets, the center of the media commons moves to the center left. And as such, the center-left becomes the audience they need to appeal to.
As the outlets get squeezed, they may need to work harder on the audience they have. The implications of that – especially to the extent that this has already happens – are a double-edged sword.
Warner Bros owns both Looney Tunes and Hanna Barbara. These are pretty compatible properties, in the overall. Both have a lot of cartoons with shorter segments aimed at younger audience. They could even do things like put them in the same “universe” for their next project like Tiny Toons, in effect making Huckleberry Hound a Looney Tunes character. Why not?
The problem is that the most popular Hanna Barbara property (except, perhaps, Scooby Doo) already has a Looney Tunes counterpart: Tom & Jerry. Does a universe with Sylvester and Tweety really need a Tom & Jerry? Huckleberry Hound meets Foghorn J Leghorn has some appeal, Tom meeting Sylvester would just be weird.
On the other hand, Disney doesn’t really have as good a counterpart for this. So, in the same way that Verizon had to shed itself of some of the Alltel markets when they bought Allel, maybe Warner Bros should have had to shop Tom & Jerry (or Sylvester and Tweety) over to Disney.
I had a dream about a girl. It wasn’t that kind of a dream. It was about a reasonably well-known woman befriending me and talking me up to other people as a guy worth knowing.
The next morning when I woke up, I instinctively figured it was a dream. I looked it up and much to my surprise, it turned out that it wasn’t a dream. She mentioned me positively on her website.
Then I woke up again and it turned out that the previous wake-up was itself part of the dream. I didn’t bother going on the web to confirm.
Populist beer commercials are nothing new. When they’re not presenting scantily clad women, they’re trying to bump up their everyman cred. It’s interesting to see one go so hard over craft beer, though. Is craft beer the new latte?
This next one isn’t even a beer commercial, but plays on a similar thing.
Regarding the Sling ad, I swear it sounds like he’s saying “piggy” rather than “picky” and it confuses me every time.
There have been some moves recently to fiddle with the special election and perhaps even cancel it.
The narrative from the left has shifted from the Republicans can’t or won’t do anything about Roy Moore to being aghast that they might have found a way to prevent him without actually losing the seat. Someone cynical might even say that the opposition to Moore had less to do with him being particular bad and more to do with him being a Republican, and maybe a belief on their part that Moore might actually be useful as an anchor around the party. if one were cynical. It has a fair amount of explanatory power, at any rate.
Actually, I believe 100% that is the case with some. With others, I am relatively certain it isn’t. But we’re all blinkered by our political and partisan desires to some degree or another. I would suggest that at least some of the outrage at the possibility that the election might be canceled (it won’t) is a hair-trigger for revulsion at anything the GOP does to its own advantage.
In 2002, New Jersey had a senator named Bob Torricelli. He was corrupt. Democrats were perfectly okay with that corruption – never putting up as much resistance to him as the GOP put up to Moore, for example – right up until it appeared that he was going to lose. Then they got him out of the race. The problem is that the deadline for changing the ballots had passed. So they went to court and demanded that the ballots be changed. Preventing a Democrat from appearing on the ballot was against democracy and by trying to prevent a new Democrat from being on the ballot – you know, enforcing the law – Republicans were actively trying to prevent democracy. The bastards! (Remember what I said about hair-triggers?). Democrats took it to court and won. Oddly enough, a few years later, Democrats actively sought to prevent Republicans from pulling the same trick in Texas, and succeeded.
Meanwhile, in Massachusetts Democrats changed the procedure for replacing senators twice in order to prevent Mitt Romney from nominating a successor to John Kerry in 2004 (if he’d won) and enable Deval Patrick to do so for Kennedy later that decade.
The notion of canceling elections in Alabama has one major advantage over all of these things: It’s actually in accordance with existing law. Existing law gives the governor the ability to call elections or not. The ability to let the appointee serve out the balance of the term is legally at her discretion. They wouldn’t have to go to court. Others might go to court to overturn the law, but not to create new law as was the case in New Jersey (and was attempted in Texas). It is actually reminiscent of parliamentary systems, where elections are frequently called to the advantage of the incumbent party. They’re not explicitly canceled, but you hold an election now precisely so that you don’t have to hold it at a later date.
For what it’s worth, I am conflicted on the idea and actually lean against. I don’t like changing the rules in the middle of the game and Moore is awful but one senator in 100 doesn’t really justify it. I’m also not sure it’s worth the backlash in this case. If they do it, I won’t really raise a stink. I’ll just be glad that Moore isn’t in the senate.
I am relatively sure a lot of Democrats are approaching this from a standpoint of saving/losing a seat and all that. Indeed, ironies of ironies, they’re prepared to go to court to prevent a ballot change because changing a candidate after the filing deadline would be cheating! Huh. But anyway, this isn’t a matter of the election being canceled or the Democrat winning. It’s as likely as not a case of Senator Moore vs Senator Bogstandardrepublican. Even with all that’s going on, Roy Moore is hanging roughly even with Democrat Doug Jones. As the heat dissipates, it seems more likely than not Moore will recover. Democrats themselves were telling me this not a couple of days ago.
So if opposition to Moore is opposition to Moore, one would think that they might actually give the idea some consideration. If opposition to Moore is opposition to the GOP, it makes sense to reflexively cry bloody murder here and do everything you can do keep Moore on the ballot.
As for the Republicans… we’ll see. They have actually done more here than I expected them to do. After watching the Access Hollywood Carousel last year, I have taken all wiggle room to be deliberate and immediately pounced on the “if” of their statements (if he did it). But right now they’re doing everything I would expect of a party that is actually repulsed. Governor Ivey has declared that she won’t call a new election. Moore isn’t going to step aside. They’re either going to help Moore and more-or-less secure their senate majority in 2018, or they’re not and they’re going to imperil it. I suspect I know which path they’re going to take, though I’m open to being pleasantly surprised.
Ben Joravsky at the Chicago Reader (a weekly “alternative” newspaper in Chicago) has written an article purporting to show how Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is trying to cripple the Democratic Party. The gist of Joravsky’s argument is this. Rauner is using his pro-choice policies to gain neutralize opposition from liberals and gain support from those Illinois Republicans who lean pro-choice. At the same time, however, he has done a lot of work to destroy public employee unions in Illinois. Exhibit A for that is his role in initiating the pending US Supreme Court case, Janus v. AFSCME, which could (and probably will) end compulsory fair share dues for public sector employee unions.
In sum, Joravsky is saying Rauner is using abortion to distract people from union policy. here’s the clincher:
As for Rauner’s friends at Planned Parenthood—well, with a drop in membership, unions will be less able to help elect Democrats. So really the assault on unions is an attempt to cripple the Democratic Party. You don’t think the Koch brothers actually give a hoot about workers like Mark Janus, do you?
If Democrats can’t beat Republicans, they can’t enact liberal-minded measures, like—oh, just to pick one—reproductive rights.
Think about this, Planned Parenthood. Your good friend, Bruce, is throwing you under the bus once again. Only this time he’s got a more roundabout way of doing it.
There’s an irony here that Joravsky doesn’t acknowledge. He seems to play right into the notion that unions are adjuncts to the Democratic Party. That notion is grist for the plaintiff in Janus v. AFSCME. Janus, in Joravsky’s own words,
is a state employee who argues that his First Amendment rights are being violated because state law requires him to contribute a “fair share” portion of his paycheck to the union that represents him—in this case, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. In particular, he doesn’t think he should have to donate money to a union with which he disagrees politically.
Supporters of compulsory fair share for public-sector unions often say, quite correctly, that unions are forbidden to use compelled dues for political campaigning and that compelled dues are to be used only for implementing and negotiating union contracts. Opponents of fair share claim that the process of negotiating contracts is inherently political when the employer is the state.
But Joravsky has just reaffirmed another reason to view unions as political. Joravsky bases his argument about Rauner “crippling” the Democrats on premises that lend support for Janus’s views. According to Joravsky, unions prefer and advocate for a political party with which many union members do not affiliate, and they do so in the service to a political position with which many union members might disagree.
 Ben Joravsky. “How Bruce Rauner is trying to cripple the Democratic Party.” Chicago Reader. October 17, 2017. <https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/how-bruce-rauner-is-trying-to-cripple-the-democratic-party/Content?oid=32566550>. Accessed October 20, 2017.
Please ignore anything below this, there is experimentation in progress