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Quick Media Reviews October 3, 2022

Posted by geoff in News.

Watched some stuff. Here are brief impressions:

The Terminal List. This is the Amazon mini-series that critics panned but fans loved. Rotten Tomatoes has it at something like a 35% rating among critics and 95% among the hoi polloi. Amazon has it at 4.5 stars, but almost everything at Amazon is 4.5 stars. They’ve got box office failures from the 80s and 90s at 4.5 stars. Anyway, back to the show.

I binged it in one sitting. Entertaining, but all the non-linearity in the story-telling couldn’t make up for a very linear, pretty predictable, plot. I’d say 3.75 stars.

Everything Everywhere All at Once. I love Michelle Yeoh, but this movie is a pointless, puerile mess. The theme seems to be: “If only you older people were more woke and wimpy, everything would be nice.” Fight scenes were meh. Two stars.

Uncharted. Dan Brown meets Spiderboy. Silly plot contrivances, but pretty imaginative action scenes. Didn’t ever feel the chemistry between Wahlberg and Spiderkid. 3.25 stars.

Jungle Cruise. I like the actors individually, but they never gelled as an ensemble. Flat dialogue. 2.5 stars.

The Greatest Chord in the History of the World? October 2, 2022

Posted by geoff in News.
1 comment so far

Back in 1972, Grammy Award-winning composer and conductor Claus Ogerman wrote a score for a ballet called Some Times. In 1977 he expanded the score into a jazz-classical album called Gate of Dreams. One of my favorite albums of all time, featuring George Benson, Michael Brecker, and David Sanborn.

The shortest piece on the album runs about two and a half minutes, and just past halfway in (1:19) it delivers my favorite chord on the planet.

You’re free to disagree and consign yourself to wallowing in wrongitude forevermore, but you’ve got to submit your own favorite chord in penance.

Got the Monkey Off Our Back October 1, 2022

Posted by geoff in News.

Monkeypox looked like it was going to be our next big health crisis, until this happened:

Chart Screencapped From the CDC

How did it get turned around?

Well, seems like everyone in charge finally got their heads out of their hineys and decided to acknowledge that this was really a problem of, by, and for, the gay community:

You don’t get that kind of disease split among genders if heterosexual transmission is a real player. And you don’t see it concentrated in the ages between 20 and 45 if it’s an airborne virus.

So, a survey by the CDC in the first half of August found that half of gay men had throttled back on their promiscuity, and ouila! Disease starts fading away.

What didn’t happen is the stigmatizing and consequent increase in violence toward, and harassment of, gay men. That’s supposedly the big fear that the health administration had, which prevented them from being frank from the outset.

How much suffering of the gay community could have been avoided had they been open and honest from the beginning?

Tonight, Let it be Lowbrow September 29, 2022

Posted by skinbad in Personal Experiences, Stupid shit.

OK, slight interruption in the programming of intelligent, thoughtfully-parsed posts. Yesterday, I was walking with a colleague past a shelf displaying this book:

He stopped and said, “Hey, look at that author’s name. It’s ‘asking’.” I thought about it for a second and started laughing like Beavis because I thought he said “ass king.” He gave me a strange look and said, “Like, ‘asking’ a question?”

*Slight pause as my broken brain recalculated*

I said, “Of course; I get it.”

Accepting Your Recession With Gratitude September 28, 2022

Posted by geoff in News.

There should be a special name for the sort of articles that try to find the silver lining in economic disasters under Democrat administrations. “Staycations” was one of the infamous ones. More recently we got to hear about how rampant inflation was actually a good thing.

And now we have the WaPo weighing in:

7 ways a recession could be good for you financially

I’m sure it will come as no surprise that the author’s reasons range from the ridiculous to the economically illiterate. But check them out for yourself:

  1. Housing prices may finally come down to reasonable levels.
  2. Savings rates are up.
  3. I bonds inflation rate might go even higher.
  4. The dollar is king.
  5. Unemployment is still relatively low.
  6. Your used car is worth more.
  7. Student loan forgiveness is coming.

Let’s take these one by one, shall we?

  1. Housing prices: This is known as a housing market crash, and is generally considered to be a bad thing. A very bad thing. It means hundreds of billions of dollars in lost equity for homeowners, people who are underwater on their mortgages, and increased loan defaults and bankruptcy declarations. Anybody remember how bad it got during the last recession? The WaPo apparently doesn’t.
  2. Savings Rates: She notes that interest rates on savings accounts are starting to go up. Nothing to do with a recession, and the interest rates are trailing inflation by 5 percentage points, but hey! Look at these rates! Of course, in a recession nobody has money to put away in savings, so, well, uh, let’s just move on.
  3. I Bonds Rates: What matters is not the rate, but the rate relative to inflation. People holding older I Bonds are not too happy at the moment, I’d imagine. But again, nothing to do with the recession, except to make this point moot because nobody in the middle or lower class is increasing their investments during hard times.
  4. Dollar as King: This counts on the recession in the US being less severe than the rest of the world. Maybe that will hold up – the author doesn’t give us any reason to believe that it will or won’t.
  5. Low Unemployment: One of the hallmarks of a recession is that at some point employers start shedding employees due to slow economic conditions. The author does note that unemployment may be on the rise, but assures us, “…if you’re worried about your job security or a recession, just cancel your vacation plans for 2023.” Easy peasy.
  6. Used Cars: This is probably the stupidest point, because right in the article they say, “Used car and truck prices jumped 7.8 percent, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unfortunately, new car prices were up 10 percent from a year ago.”
  7. Student Loans: Nothing to do with a recession, and it’s only beneficial for a limited group.

The woman who wrote this article doesn’t seem to understand what a recession is, nor does she have the logical faculties to distinguish between a recession and our current economic circumstances.

And on top of it all, she doubled down on the “Staycation.”

Sad Decline in Elementary Students’ Test Scores September 25, 2022

Posted by geoff in News.
1 comment so far

If you were wondering how the pandemic and the recent emphasis on critical race theory/non-binary genders is affecting core academic performance of elementary school students, wonder no further. Chalkbeat has a chart for you:

This data was for 9 year-olds (4th Grade). The assessments are on a scale of 0-500, by the way, indicating that we’re nowhere near peak academic performance.

Personally I haven’t seen the rise in math proficiency that they claim here – kids today seem feeble compared to kids in my youth. But presuming that the improvements are real, it’s sad to see them leveling off in 2008 and then declining from 2012 onward. The latter is presumably due to the pandemic (thanks, Fauci!), but the former is, I suspect, due to the lack of time and energy available for core subjects.

Who Did It Better? September 21, 2022

Posted by geoff in News.

747 people trying to break the world record for number of people doing Portuguese folk dancing:


1069 Chinese robots trying to break the dance record in the robot dance category (2017):

We previously compared the robots to a massive assemblage of Shaolin kung fu practioners, and gave the nod to the humans. But in this case, I say robots in a walkaway.

Exoplanet Dad Joke September 19, 2022

Posted by geoff in News.

Was amused by this tweet from @latestinspace:

NEWS: NASA has discovered a nearby Earth-like exoplanet using the James Webb Telescope, but it rains lava at night

Many commenters jumped to point out that planets that rain lava don’t fit the lay person’s perception of “Earth-like,” but I was wondering why a nearby exoplanet was using our telescope when it didn’t help pay for it.

Baby’s Second Meme September 4, 2022

Posted by geoff in Memes, News.

Thought I’d try my hand at another meme, this one completely original:

Social Contraction August 30, 2022

Posted by geoff in News.

Was wondering when people would start complaining about how the Social Contract has been broken by mayors and DAs around the country. The Social Contract, you may recall, answers the question: “Why do free people agree to be governed and taxed?”

As Hobbes and Locke pointed out in the 1600s, they agree to give up some of their freedom and money in exchange for features such as security and infrastructure.

But when governments violate their side of the contract, it’s inevitable that people will start asking if the price they paid is worth the benefits they receive. Enter the businessmen of San Francisco:

Businesses in one of the trendiest sections of San Francisco are threatening to withhold tax payments unless the city takes action in removing homeless people from the area, claiming that their presence has hurt their bottom line.

Yes, when you fail to protect the people who serve as the foundation of the system, the people who play by the rules and fund the system, you can expect that prioritizing the welfare of criminals and problem citizens is not going to be popular. And when it reaches a breaking point, you can expect that those people will stop supporting the governing body and its authority, and will start fending for themselves.

That way lies vigilantism, gang violence, and anarchy.

Who Will Forgive the Forgivers? August 24, 2022

Posted by geoff in News.

Seething over the college loan forgiveness nonsense.

When my kids were nearing college age, I told them, “Here’s how much I will give you for college. Now you figure out what you want to do.” My son joined the Navy to pay for college and save me the money (snif – what a guy), so I split the money with him. My daughter graduated in 3 years to avoid paying a 4th year of tuition.

They both made the tough decisions and endured significant hardship to make college affordable for themselves.

Now, in a time of record deficits and debt, we all get to pay for those who weren’t as disciplined as my kids.*

You know, IF I was going to be convinced to forgive any portion of student loans, it would be only for STEM graduates, where social sciences would not be considered eligible. It’s galling enough to have to pay off somebody else’s poor decision making, but even worse when you’re funding some weak sauce major at a party school.

*Full Disclosure: My daughter will, in fact, benefit somewhat from the loan forgiveness, because she hasn’t quite paid off her loans yet. She was paying them off faster than required, and was making payments even during the pandemic, when she didn’t have to. Now she looks like a chump for doing the right thing.

Wondering if the FBI Handled Those Mar-a-Lago Documents Properly August 23, 2022

Posted by geoff in News.

Was pondering the Mar-a-Lago raid and was struck by a thought.

If some of the material was actually marked “TS/SCI,” as claimed in the press, that would mean that the FBI agents handling the material would have to have an appropriate clearance. The “TS” part isn’t a problem, but the “SCI” part stands for “Special Compartmentalized Information.” SCI info can only be handled by people who have been read into the specific program that has been classified.

For example, back in the day (more than 35 years ago) there was an SCI program called “Have Fury” (named after my Plymouth Fury II). I had a TS/SBI clearance (Top Secret/Special Background Investigation), so I was eligible to be read into the Have Fury program. But they didn’t read me into it, so I didn’t have access to that information. I couldn’t handle it unless it was double-wrapped in plain brown paper, with the inner wrapping sealed, signed, and marked with the appropriate classification.

The FBI agents shouldn’t have known a priori which SCI programs were included among the Mar-a-Lago documents. So it’s extremely likely that they didn’t have the required clearance to handle those documents.

I’d also like to know about the custody of the boxes, i.e., whether the FBI added appropriate markings before transporting them, how they were sealed and transported, and whether custody was maintained until they were presumably secured in safes in DC. When we transported documents, we had to have a master list to make sure that none of them went missing. Haven’t heard that such a list existed when they left Mar-a-Lago.

If the FBI violated security protocols, they may end up hoping that Trump declassified those documents after all.