Friday, March 23, 2018

My Left Knee

I think my left knee is eating my pants.
No, really, the last several pairs of jeans I've had have all worn out over my left knee before the more obvious places of, say, like, my right pocket where my keys stay. That used to always be where my jeans would wear out first. But, now, it's the left knee.

Why would it be the left knee? Is my left knee sharper than my right knee? It doesn't look like it is. Does the cat have something to do with all of this?
It wouldn't surprise me.
Maybe he's mad because I didn't take him to the opera, and he's taking it out on my pants?

Whatever it is, it's a mystery to me.
All I know is that it's time for a new pair of pants.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

This Land Is Their Land (a book review post)

I'm going to say right up front: This is probably not a book you should read.
Wait, let me revise that: This is not a book you should read if you haven't read any other books by Barbara Ehrenreich.
Also: This is not a "book." It's a collection of essays.
Funny story: I didn't know that when I started reading it. Having read many other Ehrenreich books, I was more than a little thrown by how disjointed this seemed... until I realized that it was a collection of essays, then it made sense.

The other drawback is that the book is 10 years old, and there are moments when that is readily apparent. Beyond the fact that she's talking about the Bush presidency, that is. There are some things that have dropped out of the national consciousness since the book was published, which can leave you wondering why that was even something being talked about at the time. Like the attack on Cabbage Patch dolls back in the 80s by Right-wing nutjobs. Not that that is in the book, but it's one of those things that, when you look back at it, it leaves you scratching your head "why?!?!"

That said, this book still has a point to make, and it's a point that needs to be made again and again until people realize they need to do something about it rather than wait for someone else to fix it for them. Especially since the someone they are hoping will fix the problem are the very ones who are the problem: the 1%.

Unfortunately, the book will also highlight for you many of the ways we are regressing back to all of the places we were 10 years ago. Like, say, health care. Which got better for a brief period with Obamacare but, which, now, is being killed slowly by Trump (#fakepresident) and his goons. Or, say, banks...

Look, "we" put Dodd-Frank in place to prevent banks from doing things like they did that caused the economic collapse a decade ago. You do remember that, right? It was so bad that people were just walking away from their homes. You haven't forgotten, have you? The answer, or part of it, was Dodd-Frank. Of course, the 1% want to be able to bleed everyone else for as much as they can get, and they don't much like regulations which protect the consumer so, again, Trump (#fakepresident) and his Republican death machine have undone much of what was put in place to protect everyone else.

Actually, when you look at what happened there with the banks, it's like they were merely put in a time out. They had a club they were beating on people with and had it taken away from them and told to go sit in the corner. All the Republicans went to go play in the corner with the banks until they could maneuver the club around to someone who would give it back to the banks. It's all really rather sickening and the sheep who make up the people who vote for Republicans and who can't see beyond the dog-whistle words of "abortion" and "guns" will contentedly continue to gnaw off their own legs rather then open their eyes and look at what's being done to them by people like Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnel, and the ever-blazing Trumpster fire who thinks he's a president.

Yeah, okay, none of that last paragraph was in the book, because it was written more than a decade ago, but there are sections of the book that really resonate with what's happening right now, especially since Dodd-Frank is being dismantled right now, so you can see the return to the things she's talking about in the book.

Anyway... If you've read other Ehrenreich books and enjoyed them, you'll probably find this a good read. Besides, it's quick, especially if you read it as bites of essays here and there. If you haven't read Ehrenreich, go get a copy of Nickel and Dimed or Bright-sided and start with that.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Rebels: "Shroud of Darkness" (Ep. 2.18)

-- "Don't worry; I wouldn't do anything you would do."

A note before I start watching this episode:
I always pull the image for whatever episode I'm about to watch before I watch the episode. It's a bit of a teaser for the episode in question, but, usually, the images are fairly innocuous. You know, Ezra or Kanan standing with a lightsaber or something. Oh, but not this episode! This episode gave me the above image, which is hella cool! AND this episode has Vader and Ahsoka! So, yeah, I'm stoked for this one, so I'm going to go watch it now.
And, no, I don't know who those guys are in the image above, but I certainly want to find out!

After watching:
The guys in the picture? Jedi Temple Guards. So cool...
Evidently, the Grand Inquisitor was a fallen Jedi. And, possibly, a Temple Guard. That's probably a bit of a spoiler but not so much of one that I feel bad about saying it.

This is a big episode. Ahsoka, Vader, Yoda (yes, Yoda!), and, even, Anakin. Yes, Anakin is Vader so, of course, Anakin, but it also has Anakin before he was Vader. Let me explain:
Ezra walks in on Ahsoka watching old training holograms that Anakin had made. We find out that Ezra uses them for his training, and Ahsoka tells Ezra about Anakin as she knew him, not as the most fierce warrior of the Clone Wars. It's a very touching moment.

I really loved this episode.


I am reminded again how different this series is from Clone Wars. The very best episodes or story arcs in Clone Wars were the ones that dealt with questions, usually moral questions, but Rebels really doesn't have that. There is little to no moral ambiguity in this series. It's all about putting together a resistance movement against the Empire. It's, generally speaking, an action/adventure show. Also, there are no story arcs. Each episode is self contained. And, while I am enjoying Rebels, I miss the deeper questions that Clone Wars asked and seldom answered. The only real question we have in Rebels is whether Ezra will turn to the Dark Side or not, a question, actually, that this episode touches on.

Anyway, it leaves me feeling like my reviews for this series are nothing more than plot synopses, and I hate doing plot synopses. Anyone can do a plot synopsis.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Rebels: "The Honorable Ones" (Ep. 2.17)

-- "Keep it running in case things..."
"In case things go as they usually do?"

We return to Geonosis... to find it... dead. Lifeless. No bugs. No nothing.

Unfortunately, we don't get to find out why in this episode, but my guess is that Palpatine had them wiped out so that the information about the Death Star wouldn't leak out. They did design the thing, after all.

This episode is more of an Enemy Mine kind of thing with Zeb and Agent Kallus, Zeb's nemesis. Yeah, so what if I haven't been mentioning Kallus; you should be watching, then you'd know who he is. It's also not on me if you haven't seen Enemy Mine or know the reference. Where have you been?


Zeb and Kallus get stranded together on one of Genosis' moons and have to depend on each other if either of them are going to survive. Now, you know the reference. It's a good episode. They have to fight ice chickens. Maybe the two even learn some things about each other.

Mostly, though, I'm just hoping that this serves as the introduction to an arc where we get to find out what happened to the Genosians.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Rebels: "Homecoming" (Ep. 2.16)

-- They're always on schedule.

Ah, we get some background on Hera, finally!
And some action to go along with it.

Evidently, Hera's father was a famous general on Ryloth during the Clone Wars. Actually, having seen the episodes he was in in The Clone Wars, I'm familiar with him as a character. And he went to be a famous general. Kanan is kind of in awe.

To make things interesting, Hera and her father don't get along. He's not for the Rebellion, only Ryloth, which puts them in conflict when Hera comes for help for a Rebel cause. Hera wants to steal an Imperial ship; Cham wants to blow it up. A symbolic gesture.

All that and we get to see Ezra do his first Jedi Mind Trick.

"Hang on!"
"I hate it when she says that."

Friday, March 16, 2018

Ultra-Violet (pictures I like)

Actually, I don't know if these are violets. I should take pictures of labels when things have them, and I kind of think that things in nature should all be labeled.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Rebels: "The Call" (Ep. 2.15)

-- "It's not the strangest thing we've ever done."
"Yeah, that doesn't make me feel better."

So now we know that Jedi can survive and operate in the vacuum of space... unless Kanan and Ezra wear special "pressure clothes" just in case they need to space walk, but I'm going to go with the being functional in a vacuum. We kind of already knew that from an episode of Clone Wars, but, Plo Koon (at least, I think it was him, and I'm not looking back to verify) seemed to imply that was a very limited ability. All of that, or there was some kind of atmosphere around the asteroid they were on providing enough pressure to allow them to function without a suit? But not breathe. The breathing was definitely an issue.

Anyway... Space whales! This isn't the first time we've encountered giant creatures living out in the vacuum of space in Star Wars. Or even the second. The first, of course, being in The Empire Strikes Back and the giant space slug that wanted to eat the Falcon. Not to mention the mynocks.

This episode, the Ghost runs out of fuel. I have to wonder if this is where idiot Rian Johnson got the idea for an entire fleet of ships to all run out of fuel at the same time. Probably not. Anyway, as I said before, I don't have a problem with the fuel idea; it's that ALL OF THE SHIPS ran out of gas AT THE SAME TIME! This was much better. Just one ship running on fumes, not the whole fleet.

And what do rebels do when they're running low on fuel? Steal it from the Empire, of course.

"Sounds like a dangerous plan."
"Don't worry, buddy, you're staying here."
"Sounds like a good plan."

"There's no explosion. Why's there no explosion?"

"Next time we just plan on the plan changing."