THE STAR TREK CALENDAR PICTURE OF THE MONTH IS...
...Mr. Scott and Dr. McCoy!
I just barely managed to squeeze it in, but I really wanted to get this one posted because it's a great shot, what with the Jefferies tube and all. Anyway, expect another STCPOTM, for December, soon.
Monday, November 30, 2009
THE STAR TREK CALENDAR PICTURE OF THE MONTH IS...
Posted by Ron at 10:31 PM
FROM THE REAL ART SPORTS DESK
Jasper forces OT for LSU; Arkansas misses tying field goal
From the AP via ESPN:
Les Miles trotted to the edge of the boisterous student section at Tiger Stadium, pumping his fist in triumph.
LSU's embattled coach was one week removed and a world away from the Tigers' late-game debacle at Mississippi.
The Tigers calmly drove 41 yards in 1:08 to set up Josh Jasper's game-tying 41-yard field goal with 4 seconds left in regulation, then the kicker made a 36-yarder in overtime to lift LSU (No. 15 BCS, No. 17 AP) to a 33-30 victory over Arkansas on Saturday night.
LSU stormed the field after Tejada's field goal sailed wide, celebrating their victory in the battle for "The Golden Boot" with Miles, who'd been under fire from fans since the Tigers' loss at Ole Miss the previous weekend.
LSU botched the end of that game with poor clock management and play-calling. Against Arkansas, Jefferson and the Tigers looked like old pros in the 2-minute drill.
Okay, it's been disappointing this season, to say the least. Losses to both Alabama and Florida have meant that LSU will not be playing for a national championship this year, which is okay, I guess, because you just can't win it all every year. But it's been doubly frustrating to know that the Tigers have an extraordinarily talented roster, which, excluding the Gator's wunderkind Tim Tebow, is probably as good as 'Bama's or Florida's.
It is not unreasonable to ask what the fuck is up with LSU. And after last week's humiliating upset at Ole Miss, it is not unreasonable to demand to know what the fuck is up with LSU.
I've defended Les Miles here on numerous occasions while local sports radio guys lambasted him, not for losing, but for not winning in the way they thought the Tigers should. I mean, c'mon, he won a fucking national championship, for chrissakes! But Miles has been sloppy these last two seasons. Weird off-the-field dramas distracting the team on Saturday. Bizarre play calls. Uninspired performance in big games. Chronic inconsistency. Maybe he's been sloppy the whole time, and I just haven't noticed it. It's like Miles has done some bizarre shit, which succeeds against all odds, and the sports writers dub him "The Mad Hatter," and everything's A-okay. Maybe he's just mad. Or just a hatter. After losing to the Rebels last week, I started to think that maybe Les Miles has just been lucky.
So okay, we beat the Razorbacks, which is good because they're a good team. And Miles was really careful this week to avoid the bullshit that made him lose last week. That's good, too. But I can't keep from wondering whether he's a great coach, or simply a good coach with enough flaws to keep his talented players from playing as well as they ought to.
Yeah, the SEC is the toughest conference in the nation and all, but is Les Miles up to the task, good enough to beat Nick Saban or Urban Meyer or Bob Stoops or Pete Carroll or Mack Brown? As usual, I guess we'll have to wait until next year to know for sure.
LSU running back Trindon Holliday, right, returns a punt around Arkansas
linebacker Jerry Franklin (34) for a 87-yard touchdown in the first half of an
NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Nov. 28, 2009.
(AP Photo/Bill Haber)
Posted by Ron at 2:21 AM
Sunday, November 29, 2009
FROM THE REAL ART SPORTS DESK
McCoy, Longhorns get best of Johnson, Aggies in Texas shootout
From the AP via ESPN:
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Colt McCoy and Jerrod Johnson embraced at midfield after their Texas shootout Thursday night.
McCoy still has his eyes on a national title and the Heisman Trophy. And if Johnson's dazzling display was any sign of things to come, the Texas A&M quarterback could be a leading contender next year for college football's most prestigious award.
McCoy threw four touchdown passes and dashed 65 yards for another score, and No. 3 Texas overcame a huge game by Johnson to wrap up an undefeated regular season with a wild 49-39 win over the Aggies.
"What a treat to watch two quarterbacks like that," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "Fans around the country on Thanksgiving got a treat to see two quarterbacks play that well, two offenses play that well."
The Longhorns (12-0, 8-0 Big 12) have only next week's conference championship game against Nebraska standing between them and the BCS title game.
For a while, it seemed as though Johnson just might rally the Aggies (6-6, 3-5) to a gigantic upset, opening the door for TCU and Cincinnati to vault into the national championship picture.
If I'd had no personal stake in the game, I would have loved it. Instead, as always when the Longhorns are in danger of losing, it was a major nail-biter. And the prospect of losing to the Aggies...awful, just awful. Of course, we won, and it's always great to beat Texas A&M. But who knew that they would open up the great Longhorn defense like a can of cat food? I mean really, the Aggies put up some five hundred and thirty yards of offense on the Texas d. I've been saying for weeks now that Texas can beat either Alabama or Florida, but now I'm not so sure. If the militaristic right-wing rednecks of College Station can run the ball up and down the field, what's Tebow going to do?
On the other hand, as the sports analysts like to say, you can just throw out the stat books for such a rivalry game, and this one was played at Kyle field, where the 12th Man really does exist. Maybe this was the test the 'Horns failed last year in Lubbock. Maybe we've got nothing to worry about.
We'll see how they bounce back against Nebraska.
Colt McCoy was a threat running
and throwing the ball Thursday.
(Thomas Campbell/US Presswire)
I'll get to the LSU game tomorrow.
Posted by Ron at 1:56 AM
Friday, November 27, 2009
FRIDAY CAT BLOGGING
Introducing Becky's third cat...
I reminded Becky that once you pass the two cats per one human ratio, that the cats take over, but she really, really, really wanted little Roi to join her pride. But now I ask who owns whom?
Be sure to check out Modulator's Friday Ark for more cat blogging pics!
Posted by Ron at 5:04 PM
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Atlantis crew surprised by Thanksgiving feast
From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Space shuttle Atlantis' astronauts thought they were going to give thanks with pantry leftovers Thursday as their mission drew to a close, but found turkey dinners awaiting them.
The meal switch was revealed Thursday morning when a TV interviewer brought up the absence of turkey dinners aboard Atlantis. “That's not going to be on your menu today, is it?” the interviewer asked.
“Shockingly, yes, I think it will be,” commander Charles Hobaugh said as some of his crew members grabbed the still unopened pouches of turkey and trimmings, and let them float around.
Hobaugh, a no-nonsense Marine, had made it clear before the 11-day flight that he did not care what he ate on the holiday, be it beef brisket or tofu. He made no special meal requests.
But somehow turkey ended up on Atlantis — smoked and irradiated — along with pouches of candied yams and freeze-dried cornbread stuffing and green beans — just add water and bon appetit.
Commenting on yesterday's Star Trek episode post, which took the Enterprise back to 1969 to interact with the USAF and NASA at the height of American space exploration, my old pal Shane wrote:
Made back when America was madly in love with the space program.Indeed. There was once a time when a story like this would have been on the front page, and would have led off the evening news. When I was a very little kid, the powdered drink Tang's main advertising campaign was that astronauts drank the stuff while in orbit. Seriously, people went nuts for all this shit. Space food was a minor topic in national discussion for a while there back in the day.
Today, space food is just a sidebar blurb, which is a drag because such minor news status is yet another disappointing reminder that the final frontier is more Hollywood than national dream made reality. Longtime Real Art readers are probably aware of what a space geek I am: I'd really, really, really love another space race of some sort; I'd really love this country to get serious again about NASA.
But I have no idea what it would take. I mean, the first space race, back in the 60s, took place in front of a Cold War backdrop, tapping into anti-communist and patriotic cultural strains, which made supporting NASA as American as apple pie. Somehow, it seems unlikely that space travel can be tied to fighting rag-tag fundamentalist terrorists with turbans, beards, and low tech improvised bombs. Just not the same thing as the mighty Soviet Union.
Maybe the shitloads of water they've found in lunar soil, which makes Moon Base Alpha a distinct possibility in the near future, could do the trick. I guess we'll see about that.
Anyway, happy Thanksgiving!
Posted by Ron at 4:40 PM
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
TOMORROW IS YESTERDAY
"Tomorrow Is Yesterday" is a first-season episode of Star Trek: The Original Series. It is episode #19, production #21, first broadcast on January 26, 1967, repeated July 13, 1967, and was remastered in 2006 for syndication broadcast on May 5, 2007. The screenplay was written by D.C. Fontana and directed by Michael O'Herlihy.
Overview: The crew of the Enterprise travels back to 1969 Earth and must correct damage they caused to the timeline.
This one blew me away when I was four years old. I mean, it has Kirk and crew visiting twentieth century Earth, interacting with the US Air Force, like only three years before I first saw the episode! I still have the image, burned forever in my brain, of the Enterprise flying through the blue sky, on the television set my family owned back in 1972. Definitely a keynote memory for me.
But my love for "Tomorrow Is Yesterday" goes beyond simple nostalgia. I mean okay, it's cool to see Star Trek placed in what is more or less our era, but this is a good time travel story, exploring the potential paradoxes and harms which could stem from knowledge of the future contaminating the past--indeed, much of the story is about keeping the Air Force from learning anything about their future visitors at all. And there are some great characters. USAF Captain Christopher is, in his own way, every bit as cool as Captain Kirk. The Air Force security guards are a lot of fun, too. Not the greatest episode of the series, but definitely good.
Alas, CBS appears to have disabled the embedding function for this one, so you've got to go there to see it. But that's okay. Here you go. Really, this is a good one.
Lieutenant Colonel Fellini: I am going to lock you up for 200 years.
Capt. Kirk: That ought to be just about right.
Posted by Ron at 10:28 PM
Jimmy Carter says 'You lie' outburst was based on racism
From the AP via the New Orleans Times-Picayune back in September:
Former President Jimmy Carter said Tuesday that U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson's outburst to President Barack Obama during a speech to Congress last week was an act "based on racism" and rooted in fears of a black president.
"I think it's based on racism," Carter said in response to an audience question at a town hall held at his presidential center in Atlanta. "There is an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president."
The Georgia Democrat said the outburst was a part of a disturbing trend directed at the president that has included demonstrators equating Obama to Nazi leaders.
"Those kind of things are not just casual outcomes of a sincere debate on whether we should have a national program on health care," he said. "It's deeper than that."
"Well yeah," I thought when I first heard this, "obviously." Liberal friends all agreed. Definitely racism. "But impossible to prove," I thought almost as quickly.
I mean, as ludicrous as some of the radical right's views on health care reform are, it doesn't make conservatives racist to simply disagree with a black President. And yeah, some of these right-wing nuts are toting around guns at tea-bagger parties and town hall forums and whatnot, but we saw the same thing, more or less, back in the 1990s with President Clinton, who is white. How can you convincingly argue, in a public forum, that opposition to health care reform is "based on racism" when health care reform as an idea is racially neutral, and when a white Democratic President was treated approximately the same way by conservatives a decade ago?
I mean, I wouldn't personally go as far as Carter did, asserting that racism plays a central role in motivating Obama's critics, but race is almost certainly a major factor here. At this point in history, the Republican "Southern Strategy" is well understood: the South didn't go red by accident; for decades Republicans have been rhetorically exploiting the irrational racist fears of Southern whites in order to get them to vote for the GOP against their own interests. Code words like "crime" (black men will slit your throats) and "states' rights" (principally, the right to discriminate against lazy, criminal, and drug-addicted black people) and "welfare queen" (who is always a big fat black woman driving a Cadillac to pick up her welfare check) are now deeply embedded in Republican mythology. It's pretty tough to be a Republican these days, especially in the South, without buying, at least, some of the racist bullshit.
So it's out there. Racism is necessarily a part of modern conservatism in the United States. I mean, clearly, most Republicans don't think of themselves as racist, but they're very quick to tell you that most crimes are committed by blacks, or that they hate welfare, or that they want to get the federal government off "the people's" backs: I'd bet my copy of The Autobiography of Malcolm X that many, if not most, of these Republicans see black faces in their minds when they're talking about these issues.
But how can you expose the content of people's souls during an argument? How can you prove that when Republicans talk about "states' rights" that they're actually talking about turning back the clock on civil rights, especially when they won't even admit it to themselves?
President Obama was wise to steer clear of this one. It's an argument liberals can't win. At least, not today. I mean, liberals and conservatives don't even understand the term "racism" in the same way: to conservatives it's about how individuals treat each other; to liberals it's about individuals, groups, and institutions of power. When the left and right discuss racism, it's a fucked up conversation. They're not talking about the same thing.
For now, it would be better for liberals to keep pounding away at the limited right-wing definition of the word "racism," opening conservative eyes to the racial injustices they refuse to see. Because playing the race card in the way that Carter did simply makes them feel persecuted and self-righteous.
Posted by Ron at 1:26 AM
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
FORT HOOD SHOOTINGS: TERRORISM/NOT TERRORISM
From MSNBC's Rachel Maddow show a couple of weeks back, right after running a montage of FOX News personalities insisting that the shooter, US Army Major Nidal Hasan, is a terrorist:
TURLEY: Well, first of all, I think that the Army is going about this in the right way. In fact, they‘re taking a very measured and unprejudiced view. They‘re actually investigating a crime.
Criminal investigators and lawyers and judges don‘t have the luxury that some people have on television to just simply say this must be terrorism. Why? Because we want it to be terrorism. Words have meaning in the criminal code. And that‘s what brings the integrity to the code. It brings this legitimacy.
And you can‘t just simply say that because somebody kills a large number of people, that it‘s terrorism. There are plenty of people that act out of rage.
If you take away a few of the aspects of this case, you would have a typical disgruntled worker shooting. We have these shootings all over the country where people are disturbed and disgruntled and isolated, and they come in and they shoot people in their workplace. Now, some of them are perfectly unhinged and they will latch on to religious views or political views. But what they‘re really acting out of is mental illness.
And so, when you really want to do justice, then you first have to start by defining what the crime is. And I think that these investigators have done a good job. They don‘t see evidence thus far that he‘s an actual terrorist.
Full transcript here.
Oh, I see. The liberal position is that Hasan is not a terrorist.
Apparently, according to Maddow, the reason conservatives are so dead set on labeling the Fort Hood shootings as terrorism is so they can lambaste President Obama for being a shitty national security guy. Okay, that makes sense, and it's probably even true--after all, the whole "terrorists are gonna get you" line has been pretty much the only idea that's gotten any traction for Republicans with the US electorate over the last decade or so; of course, they're going to go as far as they can with this.
But political motivations don't always make an argument wrong.
That is, sure, Hasan is an American. Sure, he's a disgruntled worker. Sure, he's probably deeply disturbed, psychologically speaking. But he's also, clearly, a radicalized Muslim, with intense anger toward the US government. So angry, in fact, that he attacked and killed over a dozen US soldiers. Personally, the only difference I see between Hasan and the 9/11 hijackers, between Hasan and desperate Palestinians who strap bombs to their chests and blow themselves up within dense crowds of Israeli citizens, between Hasan and the men who attacked the US Cole in motorboats loaded with C-4, is that Hasan is an American and the others are not. All these terrorists were also disgruntled. All these terrorists were psychologically disturbed enough to see suicide/homicide as a damned fine idea. Why is it that they're terrorists, but Hasan is not?
This is a stupid position for the left to take. Hasan is a terrorist. I mean, okay, the left has an argument, sure, but it's all legalese, all about protecting our darling "liberal" President, all quibbling over definitions, all rhetoric and very little substance. And it's doubly damning because it plays into the establishment narrative about combating terrorism, you know, the storyline that says we can win "the war on terrorism" by using force.
The point is that the awful act of violence at Fort Hood fully illustrates that radical Islamic terrorism, as a global movement, cannot be countered with more violence. When one of our own, an American citizen, joins the terrorists, it proves beyond a doubt that what we're really wrangling with is an idea, one that has some truth to it: American foreign policy pisses off hundreds of millions of people, some so thoroughly that they're willing to kill themselves while killing many others in order to extract what they believe to be crude justice. Pissing off millions more by waging war on them and others they consider to be brothers only creates more terrorists.
We cannot win a "war on terrorism." Indeed, such a notion is utterly counterproductive. Until we stop supporting the corrupt governments of the Muslim world, which oppress their own people, while giving us oil and strategic position in exchange for the billions we hand over to Muslim elites, radical Islamic terrorism will only continue to grow worse.
Pretending for partisan reasons that terrorists aren't really terrorists is tantamount to Nero fiddling while Rome burned. Expect more Majar Hasans in the future.
Posted by Ron at 12:27 AM
Monday, November 23, 2009
WELL, ACTUALLY, IT WAS INDOCTRINATION...
From the New York Times back in September:
Some Parents Oppose Obama School Speech
President Obama’s plan to deliver a speech to public school students on Tuesday has set off a revolt among conservative parents, who have accused the president of trying to indoctrinate their children with socialist ideas and are asking school officials to excuse the children from listening.
The White House has said the speech will emphasize the importance of education and hard work in school, both to the individual and to the nation. The message is not partisan, nor compulsory, officials said.
“This isn’t a policy speech,” said Sandra Abrevaya, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education. “It’s designed to encourage kids to stay in school. The choice on whether to show the speech to students is entirely in the hands of each school. This is absolutely voluntary.”
Of course, this controversy was bullshit from the get-go. Obama's bland "stay in school" and "get good grades" address was the same sort of pablum every student gets every day, all day long, year after year, in various ways, in various forums. Only the paranoid, psychotic, and marginalized far right wing can "see" communist indoctrination embedded in such traditional go-school rhetoric. I mean, the conservatives never even had an argument, just a bunch loony raving.
I've filed this one away with black helicopters, New World Order fear mongers, "Birthers," and gun-toting Tea Baggers. You should, too. Like I said, it was total bullshit.
On the other hand, in one of the great ironies of this era that virtually no one caught, Obama's speech, while not socialist or communist in nature, was definitely indoctrinational. Long time Real Art readers may remember my countless assertions that, very contrary to conventional wisdom, American schools serve primarily to indoctrinate children into the culture of obedience and authority. Indeed, when the US public school system was just starting to get its shit together in the nineteenth century, famous education "reformers," such as Horace Mann, pitched the heavily militarized Prussian school system to the new super rich class of industrialists as the ideal way to create a docile work force for factories. The rest is history.
Today, you can get a high school diploma and be stupider than shit, but you fully understand, down to your bones, that there are rewards for obedience, and punishments for disobedience. Really, the entire debate about whether we have good schools or not misses the point: we have great schools, all of them, as long as it's understood that their function is to teach obedience, which they do extraordinarily well.
Part of the game, however, is that we all have to believe that what the schools are really trying to do is facilitate learning, which, of course, they do pretty badly for the most part--I mean, this doesn't really matter in a lot of ways because actual learning is only a secondary or tertiary goal for the schools; as long as teachers crack the whip, they're doing great. But because we're freedom-loving Americans, we just can't admit that one of our most invasive government institutions, education, runs utterly counter to our most cherished principles. We Americans, especially liberals, tend to glorify educators, mythologizing them in movies, television shows, books, and casual conversation. It's pretty sick, actually.
Anyway, it is in this context, the glorification of public education in order to divert attention from the schools' actual function, that the President made his speech. Really, one can interpret Obama's address as a plea to students to obey because obedience is the only way to "succeed" in school. That is, the speech was straight-up indoctrinational propaganda, totally sinister, just not in the way that the right-wing freaks understood it.
It's like I keep telling conservative friends: you have nothing to fear from Obama; he's here to save the establishment, not destroy it. I mean, c'mon. Right wingers ought to like all this Nazi obedience shit. It's totally up their alley. But why should I be surprised that large groups of Americans are stupid fucktards? They're just a product of their schooling.
Posted by Ron at 1:38 AM
Monday, November 16, 2009
HIATUS UPDATE TWO
Okay, I give up. My computer wins. This round.
No need to go into excruciating detail, but when my computer crashed, oh, two and a half months ago, I saw it as an opportunity to do some much needed tuning up, clearing up my partitioned hard drive, reinstalling my operating system, yadda yadda. Suffice it to say, the partition has to stay for now, which means I'm only going to be using half of my hard drive's actual space.
Whatever. I'm starting to get sick of this blogging vacation. Look for me to be back online next week. I'll have a lot to say--I mean, you know, a lot's happened these past ten weeks or so, from the Obama school speech to the Longhorn's drive to the BCS championship, to this awful massacre at Fort Hood.
Yep. I'm gonna run my mouth with a vengeance.
Meanwhile, if you're in the NOLA area this week, I'm doing another gig this Wednesday night, the eighteenth of November. Same place as last time, the Neutral Ground coffee house, Uptown, off St. Charles, at 5110 Danneel St., from ten to eleven p.m. The last show was a smashing success, lots of friends showed up to give me their rowdy support. I don't know that this time will be as wild as last time, but I'm proud of my show, and, at the very least, it appears to get people to think about issues. So come check it out if you're inclined.
And prepare yourselves for the return of Real Art!
Posted by Ron at 2:02 AM