Attn: EUReKA; God is not in the details

I posted a positive review of this program a while back, but I feel I need to revise my opinion somewhat.

The show progressed well through the end of the first season, but the finale left a few ends untied; ends that have gotten more and more unraveled as the second season progressed. There were some good episodes as well as bad (as in any series) the science was much flimsier in this season than in last, but they added insult to injury when they wrote and filmed the episode God is in the Details.

Where was this church and it’s religion in the first season and a half? Why do, suddenly, half the people in Eureka find the need for religion, including main characters that have never voiced any belief previously?

Seriously, can we stop catering to the ignorant amongst us, please? Not everyone needs religion.

Scientists do not run to the comfort of religion when presented with the inexplicable. That is antithetical to their nature. The entire episode was so weak on a workable plot that I wondered why they even bothered to film it; I really wish they hadn’t.

That episode combined with the weakening of the character of Allison Blake made the final half of the second season virtually unwatchable. Here’s to hoping the writers come back with some better material next season.

Bread and Circuses

… Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions – everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses

(Juvenal, Satire 10.77-81)

Early this week came the news that the NFL network and Time Warner (alternate story) couldn’t come to an agreement concerning the airing of football games on Time Warner cable. This lead to several long discussions of bread and circuses; the NFL being the modern day equivalent of Roman gladiator games when it comes to distracting the masses. Politicians at the state house are assuring the voters that they will get their football, even if it takes legislation to achieve this goal.

Strange, but the government was no where in sight when Paramount yanked my (at the time) favorite entertainment off of the syndication market and insisted that a local affiliate for their national network had to step forward in order for Austin to be able to see the next season of Voyager.

Obviously, one man’s entertainment is another man’s waste of time.

On Friday, as I’m listening to the same talk program, the subject seems to revolve around the latest farm bill, the billions wasted on farm subsidies so far, and the billions more that our beneficent DC politicians are willing flush down the toilet next year.

[Ostensibly to aid in ethanol production. An ill founded idea, to say the least. There isn’t enough arable land in the US to grow sufficient corn to meet the requirements for a real ethanol fuel economy]

As I’m listening to self-proclaimed farmers stand and deliver on why their handouts are better than those demanded by everybody else, the phrase bread and circuses floats through my mind, once again. This is their bread, they’ve sold their votes, their very existence, to the government in exchange for a few measly handouts from the government.

But, more than that, the whole basis of cheap, plentiful food and cheap mindless entertainment (bread and circuses) revolves around government subsidies to agriculture and government interference in the media.

No one believes that we will starve to death if agriculture subsidies were ended; just as the availability of the NFL network on Time Warner cable by itself does not affect the quality of life of the average citizen. But the lack of cheap food and entertainment will eventually lead people to question what it is we need all this government for; and that is a question that those in power would rather we didn’t ponder.

Rest assured, the Bread and Circuses will continue for as long as Caesar has the means to fund them.

Connect America = Control of the Internet

It’s not making much news, but Hillary Clinton has a proposal that should have all of us running away from her in abject terror.

No, it’s not the completely predictable proposal to force us all to pay for health insurance (that’s a yawner, from where I’m sitting) it’s the story being reported in this AP news story:

Presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday called for a national broadband Internet system and permanent research tax credits…
“The nation that invented the Internet is now ranked about 25th in access to it,” Clinton said in her latest speech directed at the middle class appeals.
Called “Connect America,” Clinton’s broadband network would give businesses incentives to go into underserved areas, support state- and local-based initiatives and change the Federal Communication Commission rules to more accurately measure Internet access.

Can we say FCC as a national internet service provider (ISP)? If a federal agency is given authority over the internet, can there be any doubt that they will become the ultimate ISP, and govern the internet as they govern television and radio broadcast. Even beyond that, rules changes allowing FCC regulation of the internet will give the FCC regulation of cable television as well.

Let’s imagine, shall we, that the self same government agency that has so famously declared certain words as unspeakable over the airwaves, and certain body parts as unviewable on television, can now determine what will or will not be acceptable on the internet.

Obviously there will be no more porn (and no more porn channels on pay-per-view, either) but that’s just the start. How about access to information on sex education? How about medical journals? And why stop there? How about an internet ‘fairness doctrine’. Political forums would be subject to requirements concerning equal times on the forum for dissenting views, or be faced with closure.

But that’s also only the surface. This is where the real money is. Access to all materials that have ‘cloudy’ licensing issues will be blocked. Peer to peer will be history. Torrents a thing of the past. If you want music or movies, software or whatever, you will have to go to the license holders and pay whatever price they ask. No more testing on the QT to make sure the product will work for you, not unless you can find someone with a duplicatible hard copy. No more catching that missed episode of you favorite TV show by accessing a torrent file.

“Follow the money” the saying goes, and I think I can spot where the money is coming from, and where it will be going, if Hillary gets her wish on this issue. Forget socialized medicine; we’re talking basic information access here.

But that’s also just the tip of the iceberg. Putting the gov’t in charge of internet access puts us in the same category as China; where anything the gov’t doesn’t approve of will be blocked. It opens up the door to a 1984 type scenario where information and history are completely malleable, where truth is whatever those in charge deem it to be at any given moment (we have always been at war with Eastasia…) because they can simply dictate that the records be changed, and there won’t even be the gaping holes in the photographs next to Stalin to point out that something is missing.

Is anyone still so naive as to think that once the camel’s nose is under the tent that the whole camel won’t shortly follow? That giving the gov’t the ability to provide access to the internet won’t eventually lead to active control of content? It’s happening now everywhere the gov’t is involved; the internet will be no different, and is already no different in places where internet access is provided at gov’t expense; the attempts to control content in libraries are a shining example of this.

We should run screaming from suggestions such as the one floated by Ms. Clinton. Better yet, we should vow never to listen to (much less elect) someone with such a shaky notion of what real freedom is.


I left that screaming tirade just the way I wrote it. Get a load of that guy, would you? What I find amusing is the fact that no one coined the term Hillary Derangement Syndrome in her entire time in politics, but they sure are quick to jump to the defense of demonstrably insane conservatives by calling their opponents insane.

Mea culpa review 2018. I have eaten a Big Bowl of Crow since publishing this and other thoughts on many subjects. Here is the text of the AP article I was whingeing on about. I can’t find it anywhere on the internet, but I just happened to have saved a copy,

The Associated Press Go to Google News
Clinton: Internet Access Key to Economy
By PHILIP ELLIOTT – Oct 10, 2007


MERRIMACK, N.H. (AP) — Presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday called for a national broadband Internet system and permanent research tax credits, while also quoting comedian Stephen Colbert for the second time in a week in a swipe at the Bush administration.

The Democratic front-runner and New York senator said that if elected she would invest in high-tech fields in order to sustain the high-tech jobs that are critical to economic prosperity and strengthening the middle class.

“The nation that invented the Internet is now ranked about 25th in access to it,” Clinton said in her latest speech directed at the middle class appeals.

Called “Connect America,” Clinton’s broadband network would give businesses incentives to go into underserved areas, support state- and local-based initiatives and change the Federal Communication Commission rules to more accurately measure Internet access.

“I see this problem in New York. A lot of the utilities don’t want to connect up our isolated, rural areas. And they also don’t want particularly to go into our underserved, poor, urban areas because there’s so much money that can be made in Manhattan and our suburban areas,” Clinton said. “It was like when we had to electrify the country in the 1930s. Utilities didn’t electrify places because it wasn’t cost effective for them to do so. Well, we’ve got to play catch-up.”

Clinton said the Internet is the new necessity for economic development.

“In the 19th century, we invested in railroads. In the 20th century, we built the interstate highway system. In the 21st century information economy we need to invest in our information infrastructure.”

Clinton also advocated making permanent the research and experimentation tax credits, which more than 15,000 companies have used since they began 1981.

“We cannot rebuild a strong and prosperous middle class if we don’t have a new source of new jobs,” Clinton said. “Our country is a country of innovators. We’re not acting like it right now, but we have all the potential to get into gear quickly.”

Clinton also repeated a pledge made last week in a speech to the Carnegie Institution for Science to give researchers increased freedom and to end the politicization on science. She cited Colbert, the Comedy Central news anchor with a pseudo-conservative personality.

“To paraphrase Stephen Colbert, that great philosopher, this administration doesn’t make decisions based on facts, it makes facts based on decisions,” Clinton said to laughter. “By ignoring or manipulating science the Bush administration is letting our economic competitors get an edge in the global economy.”

Later Wednesday, Clinton lashed out at Republican activists for questioning the financial need of a 12-year-old who spoke up on behalf of Democrats who sought an extension of the State Child Health Insurance Program. Bush vetoed the bill that would have done so.

Some conservative bloggers suggested the family of Graeme Frost had granite counters in its Baltimore home and could afford health insurance. The family said its counters are made of concrete.

“I don’t mind them picking on me; they’ve done it for years,” Clinton said to laughter from the audience at Symphony Hall in Boston. “You know, I think I’ve proven I can take care of myself against all of them.

“But President Bush and the Republicans should lay off Graeme Frost and all the other children who are getting health care because we have decided to do the right thing in America,” Clinton said.

Associated Press writer Glen Johnson in Boston contributed to this report.

Hosted by Google
Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Reading back through that press release, I can’t tell the difference between what I think the internet should be now, and what she was talking about then. Since the Orange Hate-Monkey has nixed the net neutrality rules that we fought so hard to see put in place, we are now dominated by corporate information providers who can shut any or all of us off for whatever reason they like even though the internet is the only way to get some forms of business transacted these days. If the FCC ran it, and that isn’t even what she was talking about but let’s go worst case, at least they would be required to provide me with internet access. Corporations do not have to suffer the indignities of serving the poor and undeserving, even when denying service is the same thing as signing a death warrant. 

So, what are the best Stargate episodes?

I have a confession to make. I generically despise television series that pimp themselves out to movie fans; production studios that try to milk a few more dollars out of a franchise (I even hate the word franchise when applied to entertainment properties) as if a cherished memory is nothing more than their cash cow to be milked at whim.

It definitely explains Nemesis and Enterprise. But I digress.

I liked M*A*S*H, watched it every time it came on for the entire length of it’s run. I didn’t know until later that it had been a film first (no theater in the home town) and after watching the film, it did make me think “Oh, that’s what they were trying for”. But I think it was the dismal failure of the Planet of the Apes television series that informed my decision to stay away from any series that attempted to copy a hit film.

When Stargate SG-1 was rolled out, I took one look at the ungainly plastic snake-heads that the antagonists wore, and just gave up on the whole series (not to mention that it was on a subscriber channel on cable TV. I don’t have money for pan-and-scan versions of feature films, either. Yes, I’m a film snob) and I would never have looked back.

Except…

Last year, a friend of mine was turning off her cable access so that she could save some money, and she asked me to dub the Stargate SG-1 episodes for the last half of season 10 so she could see them. She had been watching the show since it first aired on Showtime, and she was damned if she was going to miss the last few episodes. Having a lot of free time on my hands these days, I readily agreed to take an extra hour out of my day on SciFi Friday to dub the new episodes as they aired.

The first episode to air was going to be the second half of a two-parter, and SciFi ran a marathon before it that included the first half. So I set the DVR to record SG1 all day, and wandered in at some point to make sure that the recording was going off as planned…

…and I didn’t leave. I watched the entire marathon, and the new episodes. Even stayed to watch Stargate Atlantis afterwards. I kept wondering, how did the show get here, and how did it get to be so good…? So I started watching the earlier episodes as they aired at other times on Sciffy; but they don’t air them in any logical sequence, and I still couldn’t figure out the progression. When did the show get good?

I liked Atlantis, so I picked up a copy of season 1 on DVD; just 3 seasons, that’s easy enough to catch up on (and I pretty much have) but how did we get from plastic snake heads to exploring another galaxy? So I picked up some of the early seasons of SG-1, and continued to watch the hodge-podge of episodes that Sciffy chooses to air.

It was when I was explaining to my friend, as we were sitting in front of one of the re-runs, about how I had seen the episodes that started this particular story arc, and I had seen how it ended, but I had never seen the middle before; it was then that I realized that I was hooked on the show. Damn it all. From the quiet reserve of Teal’c, to the wisecracks of Jack O’Neill (two L’s) and his Atlantis doppleganger John Shepard, the chapa’ai has captured my attention.


“Then, it’s a teenage thing; pimples, rebellion, life-sucking.” -John Shepard

So, I’m watching yet another marathon, another one touted as being “The Best of” Stargate, and I can’t find it on Sciffy’s site, even though they’ve been advertising it all week.

These were the episodes (the numbers are from the Wiki entry):

If you look at the numbers, you can get a sense of what viewing order I’ve seen all 10 seasons in. All of them are very good, but I don’t know if I’d call them the Best. Window of Opportunity reminds me of Trouble with Tribbles, in that Tribbles is hands down the funniest (on purpose) of the classic Star Trek episodes, and it was voted the best as well. But I don’t agree that Tribbles is the best Star Trek episode. I don’t know if I’m even that interested in singling out one episode that would be my hands down favorite, of any series that I’ve ever watched.

As an example, of the episodes aired the two part Lost City would be my favorite; but even those two episodes don’t stand alone as well as they do book-ended with the episodes that precede them in the story arc, and the episodes that follow them in the next season. Window of Opportunity is funny precisely because we already know the characters involved well enough to appreciate the quandary they are in. Without the context of several seasons of familiarity, a good portion of the humor is lost.

Star Trek isn’t complete without Spock’s Brain as well as Trouble with Tribbles. The same is true of Stargate, apparently. At least classic Trek is easier to collect.



Another post with a mysterious amount of traffic; 6589 at this count. Has to be a webcrawler program setting it off, although it has scrolled off the most viewed list lately.  This one at least makes sense, it is a post about a popular subject. Or was a popular subject not so long ago.  You couldn’t get me to watch a show on syfy these days.  When they canceled Stargate Universe (Season 1 & 2 links) while keeping wrestling in the lineup, I swore off ever watching that channel again.

PBS airs A Brief History of Disbelief

I’d like to extend a thank you to my local PBS station for airing A Brief History of Disbelief. I generally feel that I am drowning in religious programs, even on cable channels that should not have a religious view. This program was like a breath of fresh air. I look forward to seeing the next two episodes.


I managed to capture and watch all three episodes with the DVR. Very enlightening. I understand that there are 6 additional hours of programming. I would be interested in seeing these as well some time in the future.


h/t to the WaybackMachine

Starting with the teachings of Democritus, Epicurus and Lucretius, and traveling forward in time through the first appearance of truly atheist works in the writings of Baron d’Holbach, and the founding of the United States on Deist thought; to the spreading of disbelief (whether you call it atheism or not) in modern times, it is definitely a ‘rough’ history, but a thought provoking one. I recommend it to anyone who might be curious about the subject.

Lapsed Trekkie Still Angry About B5 Laserdiscs

I’m currently a lapsed Trekkie, I guess. I don’t have copies of any of the Episodes of any Star Trek Series, in any format, other than the mpg’s that I’m pulling off the air on both The CW Austin and TV Land.

We sold our laserdisk copies of episodes at the Las Vegas convention The Wife went to. I think she got 25 bucks for the first season of Star Trek and all of the Babylon 5 disks that were made. Compare that to the much larger amount that we spent obtaining those disks, and you begin to understand the disgust I feel right now. C’est la vie.

I’m waiting for everyone to sell off their old copies of the Star Trek DVD’s so that I can get a copy of my own on the cheap.


The fact that I don’t own a copy of Star Trek in any format can be blamed directly on my experiences with attempting to collect a more recent series, Babylon 5. I had a few choice words for Warner Brothers over that debacle.

To Whom it May Concern:

I noticed that the B5 episodes are coming out on DVD. I’d like to state, for the record: I love B5, it is one of the best SF shows ever to see broadcast. I would also like to state, for the record: I will not be buying the DVD’s until season 3 is available due to previous experiences with Warner Bros. and video releases of B5.

We were told, when the laserdisk format episodes were released, that all the episodes would be available in that format, that there wasn’t going to be a release on DVD (I believe they said ‘ever’), and that the widescreen formats DID NOT EXIST (even though we had been assured by those who worked on the production that the shooting was done that way). This was all told to us by representatives of WB.

My wife and I foolishly, in hindsight, bought LD’s as they came out, instead of waiting for them all to be available. WB only released seasons 1 & 5, half of 2, and half of 4. None of 3 ever saw LD format. If you add it up, 40 bucks a disk, 12-14 disks a season, that comes to about $1700 that was wasted on those disks, which are worthless now; worthless, not because the format is dead (I generally watch a laserdisk at least two times a week) but because the series is incomplete, and is missing THE BEST EPISODES.

Time pases, SciFi shows the episodes, and low and behold, the widescreen versions do indeed exist. Now they are releasing the ‘entire series’ again, this time on DVD’s, one season at a time.

As the saying goes “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” I’ll wait for the episodes I need to make a complete set. I’ll be glad to make a even trade with WB, episode for episode, for all of the B5 that I already own on LD format. From where I’m sitting, ya’ll would be getting quite a bargain…

Sincerely,
-R.Anthony Steele

“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


I own the Babylon 5 DVD’s, because they were all released in that format. The funds wasted on the Laserdisks have left a sour taste in my mouth when it comes to attempting to collect other television programs in any format.

Just when I was ready to spring for Star Trek DVD’s, the remastered versions show up, as well as the newly conceived format of HD-DVD. And I get that feeling that I’ve wasted money…

One…

More…

Time…

So, once again, I’m not buying anything else media related until I know what the eventual result of the format wars will be. When ya’ll (the bigwhigs in the media conglomerations) figure out which end is up, let the rest of us know, will you? Until then, I’m duping on-air copies of programs and burning them to disk myself.

Of course, they could offer to upgrade previously purchased media to the new format (as I suggested they do with the B5 Laserdisks) but I’m sure they don’t see any reason to cut into their profits and offer to make good on their take on intellectual property rights (as in I don’t have the right to duplicate my purchased copies of their intellectual property for my own use)
and guarantee that the average user (me) doesn’t need to duplicate their copy protected material in order to keep using our purchased copies.

Consequently, I don’t see any need to run out and line their pockets with money that I can ill afford to spend right now, purchasing copies of media that will be defunct and in need of replacement a few years down the road.

The cost of digital cable and blank DVD media is a bargain in comparison.

Nathon Fillion on Lost

Nathon Fillion (Mal on Firefly) will appear in the November 8th Episode of Lost, if rumors are to be believed.

I have to say that this season (third season) of Lost has definately got me more on edge early on than last season did. I’m wondering if they can keep up the tension. The only way I’ll find out is if I keep watching, I guess.

The Roasting Of Bill Shatner

While the trivia on the Comedy Central site was fun…

When it comes to the roast itself, I have to say, I think I’ve been out of circulation too long. I remember roasts back when they were on ‘regular’ television. I don’t remember the raunch level being that high. Actually, it couldn’t have been. The censors would never have let it on the air. Why they bothered to bleep out the little they did is a wonder to me.

Editing for content is generally a mystery to me anyway. If I tune in to watch The Terminator, I’m expecting to watch The Terminator, not some whitewashed film in which the killing machine doesn’t unload a full clip into his victims just to make sure they are dead. A film in which the (low) classic line “Fuck you, Asshole!” gets bleeped or changed. What’s the point in watching a film that has been modified like that? If you’re a bible thumper who gets upset at that kind of language and graphic violence, I daresay that a nicer version of the killing machine is not going to win you over. Why would they even tune in at all, other than to make sure the rest of us aren’t watching the filth that they object to?

Editing for content pretty much sums up why I don’t watch films on ‘regular’ television in the first place. Time was, I could watch movies and shows on cable channels and see them unedited; well, at least unedited except for the asinine pan and scan process, that is. But at least the content wasn’t modified to suit the squeamish. Highlander chops off heads, Terminator uses full clips, the horror films are in full gore mode, and people talk like average people rather than the cardboard cutouts in Mayberry. Apparently, this is no longer the case.

So I’m sitting there last night, watching without a doubt the raunchiest roast I’ve ever seen, and they’re bleeping the fucks and shits and whatever. Betty White can tell a joke about a cock ring (Not her best bit. When I watched the show through a second time I would have sworn that she was consciously imitating Don Rickles and Phyllis Diller, or Perhaps Ruth Buzzi, at different points in her routine, as sort of a salute to the old Dean Martin Roasts. Pretty funny) but she can’t say the word ‘cock’, you have to bleep it? On Comedy Central, a cable channel I have to pay for, part of a service I requested? After midnight, no less? I don’t get it.

I hate to break it to you people, I’m a pretty good lip reader these days. Partial deafness forces that on you (a condition Bill and I share) I saw her say the word. If I wanted to get offended, the joke itself would have been offensive, hearing the word would have made no difference. As it is, the fact that the content was edited at all is offensive to me.

Here’s the point I’m getting at. If something offends me, I don’t turn it on. I generally don’t watch Comedy Central because the raunch level is too high. Nothing at all to do with the amount of ‘cursing’ that goes on, and everything to do with the continuous blatant sexual references. I have a pre-teen in the house, he doesn’t need that kind of exposure, so I don’t watch it (the daughter stumbled in on The Succubus episode of South Park when she was about the son’s age now. She had nightmares about it afterwards. I’ve just steered clear of the channel since) I also don’t watch many of my favorite films with the kids in the room, and for much the same reason.

[The children generally don’t want to watch what I watch anyway (Discovery Channels, mostly) They want to watch Cartoon Network, which I have to turn off after Adult Swim starts. Something else I don’t get. A network that caters to children, that has pretty graphic adult content after 10 pm. Futurama is great. Family Guy, I just don’t get. It just gets lamer from that point on, until you hit the Anime at two in the morning. What’s with that? Why all on the same channel?]

I tuned in to Comedy Central after putting the kids to bed, because I suspected what I was going to be watching would be off the charts on the raunch scale. It was. I don’t even know if the wife will be able to sit through it. I don’t know why I bothered. The lame-ass ‘bleeping’ every few minutes in the middle of jokes that wouldn’t make the uncensored list in the first place just ruins the whole effect. What a waste.

Periodically, when watching network television, I catch the occasional promo for “the Network Premiere of (insert sex and gore fest film name here)” and I turn to the wife and say, “How are they going to make that film conform to network censor standards?” I never find out, because I either have the film on disk, or I can rent it. When it comes to Comedy Central’s offerings, I’ll probably never see the uncensored versions. I paid for it once already, and they shafted me on content. Why would I bother to pay for it again?

LOST Map?

Another screen cap worth sharing. This one is not too clear, though. No matter how many times I tried to get a clear image, I just couldn’t pull it off. ( I need a better capture card, obviously) Never fear, there are others out there with access to better equipment (or they just took pictures of the actual props, who knows) Anyway, if you click on over to “The Tail Section” they have a diagram and an enhanced image that get into most of the details of the map. There are also a lot of places on the site that deal with spoilers and potential spoilers. This constitutes fair warning, once again.

I remember the promo for this episode, “Lockdown” saying 5 things would be revealed. I only counted 3. Obviously what is being revealed isn’t of clear importance… yet.

One of the best episodes so far this season.