Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Random Thoughts: State TV Network

Random Thoughts from December, 2018:
  • Dec 1 2018: Headline: "President Trump is floating the idea of a state TV network for the US that would compete with CNN."
    We already have a state TV network. It's called Fox News.
  • Dec 1 2018: The National Flood Insurance Program, which provides subsidized coverage for homes in flood-prone areas, is scheduled to expire December 8. I'm for flood insurance but premiums ought to be priced to risk. If risk is too expensive, so be it.
  • Dec 2 2018: For some reason today, I'm thinking of the 1980s AIDS epidemic, Willie Horton race-tinged campaign ads, and pardons for Iran-Contra administration figures. Amazing how Trump's swamp can make one forget the bad from the past.
  • Dec 3 2018: The NC election fraud is *not* in-person voter impersonation, which is what Abbott and the GOP is passing all the laws to restrict (which just also suppresses legal voting by the poor, minorities, etc.)

After the jump, more random thoughts.

  • Dec 4 2018: I just received a telephone recorded message from a Washington, DC, number...in Chinese. That was a surprise. Coming from Washington, I expected it to be in Russian.
  • Dec 4 2018: The Favourite (2018): Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz vie for favor of Queen Anne in era when ambitious women had to be tougher than men. Here, cruder, too. Acting by all is tightly balanced between villain and victim. Too serious for farce. Too over-the-top for straight drama. B-
  • Dec 4 2018: The movie "The Favourite" could be used to make a strong case for abolishing the monarchy. OTOH, Brexit makes a strong case for abolishing elected government. So there's that.
  • Dec 4 2018: "If there is anything I lament, it is the humorlessness that sends people into contrived outrage at the slightest provocation." -- Mark Davis, apparently said without recognizing the irony.
  • Dec 4 2018: One can absorb so much more information faster by reading than by listening. I suppose if you're driving Central Expressway to downtown Dallas every day for work, podcasts have a place, but d*mn folks, take DART instead and read, read, read.
  • Dec 4 2018: "Bush has indelible stains on his record. He also has points of light. At times he failed the responsibilities of leadership. At times he did right by them. He showed folly and he showed wisdom, cowardice and courage, aloofness and kindness." -- Frank Bruni.
  • Dec 4 2018: "This year will be the second-biggest on record for mothballing of U.S. coal plants. Market forces are frustrating President Donald Trump's plan to bring back coal jobs."
    Market forces? I thought Hillary Clinton's deep hatred of WV miners was responsible and Trump would fix it.
  • Dec 4 2018: Embarrassing confession: I have probably already lost #whamageddon without even knowing, as I really have no idea who (or what) WHAM is or what "Last Christmas" sounds like.
  • Dec 5 2018: I hope the world is watching what is happening in Wisconsin. The GOP is demonstrating that it hates Democrats more than it loves democracy. This is how democracies die.
  • Dec 5 2018: On December 4, 2018, the S&P stock index dropped 3.24%.
    On December 5, 2018, the stock market closed for a day of mourning.
    Coincidence? I think not.
  • Dec 5 2018: "We’re going to win so much, you’re going to be so sick and tired of winning." -- Donald J. Trump
    2018 worst year in financial market since Richard Nixon's presidency: bloomberg.com
  • Dec 6 2018: The Kominsky Method (TV 2018): Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin in a buddy comedy about aging. Think "Grace and Frankie" but with prostate jokes. Later episodes get better as they deal with grief. Really not as grim as that sounds. I'd watch a season 2. B-
  • Dec 6 2018: "The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary." — Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
    P.S. Make that four. The addiction most harmful by far is fossil fuels.
  • Dec 6 2018: Dallas Morning News headlines article about what happened in Wisconsin "Legislative Roadblock." More like "Legislative Coup d'etat" by GOP, who hate Democrats more than they love democracy.
  • Dec 6 2018: Democratic infighting...or Why we can't have good things.
    "I’m not willing to give up one of our most important tools to a group of people who have never even worked on a campaign before." politi.co
  • Dec 6 2018: RT @CBCPolitics: "The new U.S. ambassador to Canada says when it comes to climate change she believes in "both sides of the science.""
    Schrödinger's Climate.
  • Dec 6 2018: RT @GregAbbott_TX: "Local officials are against my plan to cap your property taxes. They want to tax you more. I want to tax you less. It’s time for Texas to side with taxpayers NOT big government."
    Chutzpah. The governor hopes you forget that there's no bigger government in Texas than the Governor.
  • Dec 7 2018: Headline: "Rebel license plate rejected. Confederate group’s plan too much like existing design, state says."
  • That and the fact that the Confederacy was TREASONOUS and RACIST.
  • Dec 7 2018: RT @RichardHaass: "In an instant Europe has gone from being the most stable region in the world to anything but. Paris is burning, the Merkel era is ending, Italy is playing a dangerous game of chicken with the EU, Russia is carving up Ukraine, and the UK is consumed by Brexit. History is resuming."
    "History is resuming."
  • Dec 8 2018: Burying the lede: headline in papers all over the country today is some variation of "Trump" or "President" implicated in felony. But The Dallas Morning News ignores "Individual 1" and goes with "Cohen met with Russian." SMH.
  • Dec 9 2018: Marco Rubio on Saudi murder of Khashoggi: "We cannot be a nation that says when our allies do something horrifying we’re going to look away."
    And if there's anyone who knows something about looking away, it's Marco Rubio.
  • Dec 10 2018: bleth·er: "Talk in a long-winded way without making very much sense."
    BBC used this word today in a description of how French President Emmanuel Macron did *not* sound in today's speech. US news media should learn this word. It *does* apply in the US.
  • Dec 11 2018: Winter is Coming: "North Texas home sales fell 8 percent in November — the biggest year-over-year sales decline in more than seven years." -- DMN
  • Dec 11 2018: "If there is no agreement by the end of next week, funding will run out for...agencies including the Justice Department."
    Will Justice then have to lay off Robert Mueller? No government, no impeachment. That's some n-dimensional chess Trump is playing.
  • Dec 11 2018: RT @TexasTribune: "An early estimate shows @GovAbbott's proposal for a school finance fix would provide three times more dollars for property tax relief as it would additional money for school districts in 2020."
    @GovAbbott's proposal is not a school finance fix at all. It's just another tax cut, leaving school finance ever worse off.
  • Dec 11 2018: Repeat after me:
    Voter fraud is not the same thing as election fraud.
    In the former, the voter is the lawbreaker. In the latter, the voter is the victim.
    The former is vanishingly rare. The latter just happened in North Carolina.
  • Dec 12 2018: Received a mailer from the Texas Association of Realtors saying "Stop the Hidden Property Tax." Not a word about school funding, most of which comes from property taxes. Realtors are no friend of public education in this fight.
  • Dec 12 2018: Mowgli (2018): Live/CGI adaptation of "The Jungle Book." Darker and more violent than Disney; no cute animals, no songs. Beautiful imagery. 1st half is predictable boy-raised-by-wolves story. 2nd half is a serious coming-of-age story. Adults, don't be ashamed to watch alone. C+
  • Dec 12 2018: It's good Jacob Anderson is out at UT-D, but tell me why someone "charged with four counts of sexual assault" and facing "up to 20 years in prison for each" was allowed a plea deal "that allows him to receive three years of deferred-adjudication probation." WTF, DA and judge?
  • Dec 12 2018: Why we can't have good things.
    "Joe Manchin, the pro-coal senator who once shot a bullet through a cap-and-trade bill, will be the Top Democrat on the Energy Committee."
  • Dec 12 2018: "If Schumer was playing three-dimensional chess, the game was won as he slowly contemplated his first move while [Trump] stuffed his pieces into his own mouth and choked to death." -- Jonathan Chait
  • Dec 12 2018: A question for you linguists out there. Have we ever decided whether the glass is half full or half empty?
  • Dec 13 2018: The case for Obama's 2012 re-election: "Osama Bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive."
    The case against Trump's 2020 re-election: "The Mueller case is getting built, and Trump's wall isn't."
  • Dec 13 2018: Minnesota Democrat on why he voted to prolong Yemen War: "I Don’t Know a Damn Thing About It."
    Reminds me of Jim Collins, longtime Republican Congressman from north Texas who ran a campaign ad in 1978 featuring a man on the street saying, "Where the heck is Nicaragua anyway?"
  • Dec 13 2018: RT @jaketapper: "Gun deaths in US reach highest level in nearly 40 years, CDC data reveals."
    The solution must involve fewer guns.
  • Dec 14 2018: Dumplin' (2018): Plus-sized daughter tries to please former beauty queen mom. Plays out pretty much as expected but, spoiler, I was surprised that a small Texas town could have five drag queen Dolly Partons. Cardboard characters, script, acting, but some great new Dolly songs. C+
  • Dec 14 2018: Headline: "House Republicans move to gut resolution on war in Yemen."
    One of Pete Sessions last actions in Congress is to continue American support for Saudi Arabia's War in Yemen. The new Congress can't come soon enough.
  • Dec 17 2018: Given all the corruption stories coming out about Trump's businesses and campaign, that 2016 story about Hillary running a child sex ring out of a pizza parlor finally makes sense. The Trump camp felt they had to go big to drown out their own news if it broke before the election.
  • Dec 18 2018: Roma (2018): Mexico in 1970s. Society is coming apart as are the lives of an affluent family and their live-in nanny/maid. An art film: black&white, subtitles, slice-of-life feel, lush panoramic images that linger, mesmerizing ambient sounds. A slow build to a powerful whole. B+
  • Dec 18 2018: Is there any invention simultaneously more genius and more frustrating than zippers?
  • Dec 18 2018: Pete Sessions "used the clout as one of the most powerful members of Congress to serve as a vessel for big businesses. He spent thousands wining and dining corporate donors at exclusive golf clubs and ski resorts." We're better without him.
  • Dec 19 2018: The Mule (2018): Old man in need of money decides to run drugs for the cartel. Only suspense is who will ultimately get him: the cartel, the DEA, or his ex-wife. Narrative arc flat-lines, but interest builds towards movie's climax. Hey, watch anyway. It's Clint Eastwood. B-
  • Dec 19 2018: RT @realDonaldTrump: "We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency."
    I see President Trump is following Sen. George Aiken's advice on Vietnam: "declare victory and get out."
  • Dec 20 2018: No @PeteSessions, it wasn't dogfighting or some decade-ago vote on cancer drugs that made me vote against you. It was all your votes to take health care away from thousands, remove protection for pre-existing conditions, etc.
  • Dec 20 2018: My post-election assessment, that Beto losing to Cruz makes it hard to imagine him winning 2020 nomination, isn't aging well. I can now definitely imagine it. Not predicting it, just imagining it. Easily.
  • Dec 20 2018: RT @SykesCharlie: "Trump’s week so far: caved on Wall, Foundation shut down, Flynn conspiracy collapses; Moscow Project letter surfaces, stock mkt drops, NK says no Nuke deal, Stone indictment looms ... and to change narrative he bugs out of Syria, betrays Kurds, hands huge win to Russia and Iran."
    I'm tired of all the winning.
  • Dec 20 2018: "Guns Cause Over 15 Percent of Childhood Deaths in America." -- New England Journal of Medicine.
    "Guns don't kill people." -- Mabel Simpson, City of Richardson City Council.
  • Dec 20 2018: Dredged from Twitter archives. Relevant again.
    "Marwencol (2010): Assault victim builds miniature WWII town and loses himself in it. Therapeutic? Sad? Creepy? Artistic? Yes. C+"
  • Dec 21 2018: The Luminaries: Victorian novel for the 21st century. New Zealand gold rush, con men, whores, fortune tellers, all mixed up in a mystery of stolen gold and dead men. Ambitious and massive, but impossible to sort out. C+
  • Dec 21 2018: December 11: Donald Trump: "I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck ... I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I'm not going to blame you for it."
    December 21: Donald Trump: "The Democrats now own the shutdown!"
  • Dec 21 2018: "It’s (nearly) official: 2018 was the 4th warmest year in recorded history."
    Expect Ted Cruz to resume his argument that global warming must be a hoax because the temperature isn't rising in a straight line.
  • Dec 22 2018: "Trump Vents Anger Over Cohen Prosecution at Acting Attorney General Whitaker."
    I'm old enough to remember when Trump and GOP went ape-shit over former President Clinton talking to AG Loretta Lynch on a runway in Phoenix.
  • Dec 23 2018: Paddington 2 (2018): Kids' movie with a rich enough plot to interest adults. Great family fare. 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Seamless blend of live action and CGI. Look for Sally Hawkins's scene that channels "Shape of Water." B-
  • Dec 28 2018: The Romanoffs (TV 2018): Uneven anthology about various descendants of Russian czars. The best episode, about a movie about Nicholas and his family, is like a Black Mirror episode. The worse, Matt Weiner's response to the #MeToo movement, is creepy. Original throughout. B-
  • Dec 28 2018: The key to understanding 2020 politics: "The primary struggle in American politics as [Bernie Sanders's supporters] see it is not between liberalism and conservatism, but between socialism and capitalism." — Jonathan Chait.
  • Dec 28 2018: RT @LindaKoopHD102: "Start the New Year out right...support your community @BontonFarms !!"
    She's running...for something.
  • Dec 30 2018: Bandersnatch (2018): Interactive movie about a game designer going mad with belief his decisions are controlled by unseen forces (they are: by us). Clever gimmick but watching feels like following a flow chart for a script idea that needs a director to make choices. C-
  • Dec 31 2018: A Very English Scandal (TV 2018): BBC historical drama. Part farce, part biopic. Jeremy Thorpe, rakish Liberal Party leader, is brought down by homosexual affair. He's a cad but impossible to dislike. His accuser is a campy loser and equally likable. Very English, indeed. B+

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