Monday, October 29, 2007

"Timely" Declassification of PA Electoral Infrastructure

A follow up to our inaugural post. Looks like the good governor has rescinded the state's policy of keeping a lid on its polling locations.

So, while the state of PA no longer looks like Chicken Little on the homeland security front, the measure comes a bit too late for the activists organizations who had hoped to use this data to coordinate their efforts leading into next week's election.

(Thanks to Midnight Armadillo over at Democratic Underground's discussion boards. Look Coddy, someone's read us!)

Re: Coddy's Stage Fright

The last thing the blog needs is a nervous fish.

The philosophy profs of yore would say "this is meaningless madness." And you'd would say, "Madness? This! Is! SPARTA!!!" and then you'd rick roll them.

I'm floundering

Damn you CtI, for this whole blog idea. Here I am trying to come up with some sort of first 'real' post, and I am in the grip of stagefright. I've never suffered from real stage fright, having started performing on stage at age 9 playing trumpet in the school band, but now I've got the blogging equivalent. I can't help but shake the feeling that one of our philosophy profs from our undergrad days is going to grade the post and scrawl red ink all over it.

Maybe it would help if we had any idea what we were going to do with Bostodelphia...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Guns guns everywhere

Two recent stories on guns everywhere have got me thinking about CCW (concealed carry weapons). One is the Oregon teacher who wants to pack heat at school, and the other is the group of OSU students wearing empty holsters protesting the lack of concealed guns on campus.

Everybody wants one, it's like they're entrenched in our culture.

So on one hand you have the anti-CCW crowd, who are convinced that someone who's licensed with a fairly rigorous list of requirements might snap and go on a shooting spree, and the CCW, who are convinced that illegal gun carriers will do the same.

Considering that the odds of being shot in a random mass murder are about 20 bazillion to 1, I say the worse of these two groups are those who advocate carrying guns everywhere.  Yes,  pro-CCW crowd, I'm looking at you.  Y'all seem to think that deadly violence is a reasonable expectation in every waking moment justifying the need for a suitable ability to respond, with a pretty dismal opinion of fellow humans.  You reap what you sow - you expect violence and armed conflict around every corner, you are more likely to find it.  The anti-CCW crowd merely expects random violence from a small minority of their fellow humans, the licensed carriers of concealed weapons, placing them marginally ahead in the moral accounting.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Saturday Morning Fanboy: Young Bill Adama Mano a Vintage Toaster

Wow, that was cool. I’ll admit that after the first two BSG Razor flashbacks webisodes I thought we were in for a talkie, like the Resistance webisodes before season 3. Nothing wrong with that, I thought Resistance was a pioneering effort in supplementary web content, an effort acknowledging what I assumed were limitations of “really small screen” video, and capitalizing on them with a gritty low tech, limited perspective. My only misgiving re: webeps 1+2 of the Razor flashbacks was that the nature of the talkiness suggested the story was going for some sort of “Young Bill Adama in Love” type arc, cribbing notes from the romance subplots of Starship Troopers. Yes, we all know Admiral Adama’s a love machine, and was probably one back in the day too, at least I’m sure there are several volumes of text out there in fanfic land riffing off “Unfinished Business,” “A Day in the Life,” and every single look he’s shared with Rosalyn; but from what I hear there’s enough buzz around romance and sexual tension in Razor already.

Needless to say, webep 3 showed me they were going for something a bit more ambitious this time around: a whole battle set piece with not only the vintage Vipers BSG fans are used to, but vintage vipers facing off against vintage Cylon Raiders and Basestars. Frak yeah! I even dug the music during the battle sequence, which I think in some parts might have been riffing off the 70s score.

I’m sure at some point the continuity wonks will be trying to figure out what led the Cylons to switch from the “blue pulses of light” munitions used in the ep (and the 70s show) to the more conventional projectile weapons seen in the SciFi Channel show; and I think there was a slight flub on the sound design accompanying the destruction of the Battlestar Columbia (I think they were going for something like the radio traffic heard from that doomed B-17 that got cut in half in Memphis Bell amped up a 1000, but the performance struck me more like outtakes from crowd noise to Lionel Richie’s Dancing on the Ceiling video). That said, it still was a kick-ass sequence, even if we’ve seen the decapitated Viper plummeting cliffhanger before (besides, I like the idea that Adama’s been through everything Starbuck’s been through, without pouting).

Now yeah, given the nature and velocity of the collision that put them in freefall, Adama and his Cylon adversary trading shots as they plummet, then literally coming to grips with each other before Adama pulls his ripcord is ridiculously implausible. Still, it did give some legs to the “legend” of Adama as larger than life warrior. Plus you can in this sequence a rebooting of the whole over the top skydiving combat trope that’s gone stale since somewhere between the opening of Moonraker (where it was probably best done) and the finale to Half Past Dead (please). Young Bill Adama’s calling out Bond and Bourne here, maybe Indy Jr. too if Shia wants to get out from behind all those transforming robots protecting him.

I’ll be standing in line Nov. 12 hoping to see how these clips lead in to the full on Razor. If I can’t get in, anyone out there with cable mind a greasy sandwich stopping by a couple of weeks later to hang out and completely ignore you while I stare at your tv?

Friday, October 26, 2007

PA election infrastructure now a "state secret"

So here we have various PA agencies colluding to not publicize a statewide list of polling locations, an action explained with a vague gesture to "security reasons." This whole thing just smells off. For one thing, the powers that be in PA homeland security cite the threat of terrorism, particularly the terror bombings in Madrid right before Spain's '04 elections as motivation. Someone in the "keep the people afraid dept." at PA homeland security should get re-examined on his or her knowledge of recent historic events. The Madrid bombings may well have affected Spain's election outcome, but they targeted a larger part of the county and city's infrastructure, its train and transit system. So I guess, by that logic my twice weekly commute out of Philly is going to have to be subjected to randomized time tables and a massive dog and pony show of PA paramilitary might come election day.

Huh, I'm not going to see that? Democracy will be defended simply by keeping "classified" a comprehensive accounting of the very places in PA where democracy is itself actually held up for account? In the minds of the homeland security "professionals", this may well be about security, but all this really accomplishes is the frustration of resource-strapped get out the vote campagins and other organizations invested in political participation, particularly those serving candidates outside of the political status quo. That real effect begs citizens to ponder more cynical calculations at play. The best way to ensure democracy is to make sure only the systemically entrenched can work the system.

This is homeland security alarmism via red herring threats to our civil fabric.