Friday, April 29, 2005


[via August J. Pollak.]

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

If you don't know much about the Mirror Universe and would like to know, one place to start is Star Trek dot com, which is the Paramount page for the shows. It isn't the best site in the world, but it does provide a bit of info.

For example, the second (perhaps third) adventure in the Mirror Universe (the first being in the original show's Mirrror Mirror) is DS9's Through the Looking Glass.

Read about it, and the various follow ups. Don't watch it. It is stupid. (there is one cool bit where the realworld Sisko makes his own technology available [they should, of course, have it already] and they build a Defiant. It kicks everyone's ass)

And for those about to comment to the effect that I am a nerd: (I quote August J Pollak) Fuck the fuck off.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

I know it is oldish news, but the article Becoming Jeff Gannon is well written and the story is more than a bit fascinating.

Carlton recently mentioned that the television program Enterprise "sucks". I have seen fewer than half of the episodes, but I have read recaps via Television Without Pity for all those I missed and can't agree. I think a case can be made that it sucks relative to what it might have been, but we must watch the Trek we have, and not the Trek we might wish to have.

Devoted Trek fans (also known as weirdos, Trekkies, Trekkers, losers, nerds, scientists, and Greg) have, over the years, made Star Trek better by making their desires clear to the writers (and becoming the writers). They have identified themselves and their desires and have shown themselves ready to buy shit. They have been rewarded, I reckon, by a production/writing stable more attuned to the existing fan base than any other francise (that person fucking you, Star Wars fans? His name is George Lucas, and he'll not be giving you a reacharound).

This, as a rule, has been to THE GOOD.

I have to part ways with the average fan, however, on one big point. This is a thing that first appeared back in the 1960s and, because of the fans, has become a thread running through Trek. (A word of warning: What I am about to type is the sort of thing that could get me kicked out of a Magik card circle, if I were in one.)


I hated it in the original series.
I don't recall seeing it The Next Generation (further proof, perhaps, that this was the best of all the shows).
I hated it in Deep Space Nine.
I have only seen a handful of Voyager episodes, so can't speak to its presence there.
I refuse to watch it in Enterprise.

I am, quite frankly, pissed off that Enterprise would waste not one but two of its remaining handful of episodes on this bullshit.

(Yes, the Evil Goatee. Otherwise, suck.)
(The Mirror Universe sucks in oh so many ways: the good guys are bad [mirrored, ok], but the bad guys aren't good! Why don't cats chase dogs? Why doesn't hot snow fall up? Why don't the transporters always work perfectly?)

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Timothy Garton-Ash has written two very nice books and tons of moderately good to great articles over the years (he may have done more than that, but I only mention what I know). I guess it is safe to say that I am generally pro-TGA. His latest offering, for example, begins with

"Atheists should welcome the election of Pope Benedict XVI. For this aged, scholarly, conservative, uncharismatic Bavarian theologian will surely hasten precisely the de-Christianisation of Europe that he aims to reverse."

Quite right. The mood on the German street (which is smooth and clean and has well-marked lanes and generous crossing options for pedestrians) is decidedly anti Bennie the Rat. Even Birgit's mother, easily the most devout Catholic I know (and pretty conservative) doesn't like him. So, hats off to TGA for not only noticing this nail, but also hitting it slap on the head.

What makes my love for TGA less than pure, however, is his occaisional Thomas-Friedman-like lapse into bullshit. For example:

"This [the rise of secularism] used to be less true in eastern Europe, where the pressure of communism helped to keep the churches strong."

Tim? TGA is an historian of sorts, and Mitteleuropa is his beat, so he knows good and well that this is a misleading thing to say. The churches in a couple of E.Eur countries were indeed strongISH during the Cold War (the Evangelisch in E. Germany, for example, and the Catholic Church in Poland) but this was only relative to other communist countries like the Soviet Union. If by "strong" he means "having much impact on the daily lives of most folks, or even a large minority" then he is wrong and knows it. What is true--and he knows it--is that the states used the churches to help blunt anger at the regime. They were allowed to exist, given a little bit of wiggle room, and were observed for signs of counter-revolutionary activity. This broke down in Poland in the early 80s and churches in E. Germany played host to protest meetings in the mid to late 80s, but that's about the size of it.

And then there is this gem:

"In Berlin, for example, Muslims are already the second-largest active denomination, after Protestants but before Catholics."

That's a ridiculous thing to say. It would be just as accurate to say that in Berlin there are more Punks than Catholics, or more Skinheads, or more panhandlers, or more Kebab shops. There may even be more Jews in Berlin than Catholics. See, Berlin is in what folks used to call Prussia, and Prussia was one of the first kingdoms to go Protestant way back in the 16th century. It has been a long time since Berlin could claim to be a Catholic town.

Why did he say that? Because people have heard of Berlin. He knows better.


But here's what troubles me about Bennie the Rat, on a personal level:

Before Bennie the Rat, the Papal Name Rankings had John in the lead with 23, Gregory in second place holding at 16, and Benedict at 15. Now? I'm tied with Benedict. I hope the next Pope is more thoughtful when he picks his name.

And by the way: if any one among you doesn't read Carlton's blog, I would like to urge you to do so. He's been writing quite a lot lately, and much of it is well worth reading (unlike me, with my infrequent and not-as-readable waste of electrons).

And here's where I remind you that I know the score: there aren't many people reading this, and most or all of them read Carlton anyway. I'm just saying.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Obvious et rectum, there is a new Pope on the beat. His name is NOT Gregory the Sumpthinth, as I had hoped. He is, instead, Bennie 16.

And he is German.

The Germans are, of course, all thrilled about this. Birgit, for example, said "Ach, du Scheisse!" before turning back to the papers she is grading. What she means is that this is a great day for Germany. One reason is that the economy is going to get a big push from all the Papal pork that is on its way. Another reason is that priests throughout the country can now expect that, on this coming Sunday, they may have as many as 1/4 to 1/3 capacity in their churches.

Yep, I'll have the streets to myself this Sunday, relatively speaking. Just me, Birgit, and the 80 million or so other residents of Germany who don't go to church. Everyone else will be having a pope-dango.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

The world has changed. (whisper whisper whisper) I feel it in my fingers. I feel it in my toes. (whisper whisper whisper) Much that once was, is no more. Much that once was not, is now. (whisper whisper whisper)

Terri Schiavo -- dead
The Pope -- dead
Prince of Grace -- dead
Prince of Grace's son-in-law -- nearer to death than me
Boone from Lost -- dead
Neil Young -- very nearly Helpless
Greg -- working for money (like, hard and stuff)
Franklin's Findings -- on hiatus
Air America's Unfiltered -- terminally filtered
Charles and Dimilla -- who fucking cares?

One is at a loss in such situations. What does one say? One might search for a larger meaning -- something to help one tie the various threads together -- or one might not.

Another piece of news is that Jane Fonda has apologized for firing surface to air missles at John McCain's flying machine. Fuck that. I want an apology for Jazzersize. To paraphrase Sir Mix-a-Lot: Fonda still ain't got a motor in the back of her Honda. Also, I want an apology for Ted Turner. And Barbarella. And Klute.

Well, Klute was pretty cool.

But here's what I really wanted to say. Last weekend Birigit and I attended a birthday party at a place called Haus Stapel (or Schloss Stapel), an 18th century baronial palace. Thing is, the baron needed money back in the 70s, it seems, and rented the joint out to hippies and dropouts. They live there still. And we were there for a party. And it was cool. You can see a picture of it HERE. Scroll down.

Actually, I also wanted to say that you need to go watch the video attached to the song America We Stand As One. It is the funniest thing ever. The whole site is pretty funny in fact.

[I found my new favorite song via a link on Bob Harris's website.]

Saturday, April 02, 2005

OK. I have now seen the latest Lost once. Lots to digest, as always.

If you are the sort of person who enjoys thinking about this television show, I would like to point out that some weeks ago Scott started a Wiki (don't ask if you don't know) about Lost. He and I have turned it into a sort of Fortress of Nerditude since then. In other words: we used the living room furniture and a series of blankets, clothes pins, and heavy objects to build a place where we can read comic books without being bothered by our little brothers. Or we locked ourselves in our rooms and pulled our tubes to pictures of Cheryl Tiegs.

OK. The metaphors are starting to get out of hand. How about I just cut to the chase and echo Scott's announcement: He has opened the box! DUDE!