Some Housekeeping Items

In no particular order:

1) Nick Smith sent me a note claiming he was a 17-year-old kid and would I please stop picking on him. I suspect he’s not a real guy – a prank engineered by someone who fully realized how stupid he looked. Alas, my attempt to replace Languatron as my online arch-enemy was not to be.

2) As at least two commenters have noticed, the Shatner’s Toupee blog is gone. Simply gone. It had been essentially inactive since the summer, but it came back on New Year’s Day with a message that it was about to rise from the ashes. And then it was yanked off the web entirely. I have no idea why. It is not, however, lost forever, as the Internet never forgets. I have no idea who was writing it, although I did send them a message and offer my services to keep the chronicle going in their absence, but I never heard back. My Esteemed Colleague suspects Shatner’s people objected and it was yanked. I’m not willing to go that far in my own theories, but it’s a mystery why he or she would feel it necessary to remove a tremendous amount of well-written content, rather than just continuing to leave the place untended.

In any case, I have wept for the lost Shatner’s Toupee all this while, yea, and I shall weep a while longer.

3) Languatron has completely isolated himself from all human contact, so there’s little point in my carrying on our feud, which began well over a decade ago. That said, he continues to rage against the massive anti-Galactica conspiracy at his own blog, wherein he made an admission that’s worth noting here.

Languatron, AKA Andrew Fullen, has written a number of self-published vanity “books” lamenting the vast anti-Galactica conspiracy, and many of us have taken to reviewing them on Amazon.com. In every case, however, each negative review has been matched, word for word, with a positive one from people who sound strangely like Languatron himself. This is quite a feat, because to be able to review a book multiple times, you have to have bought something from the account used for the review, making it hard for people to dress up in sock puppets and give themselves five stars. That means Languatron was willing to buy a bunch of crap under fake names just to bump up his ratings. Those names included:

Joshua Remington Vegas, Danny Flapjacks, Debbie Miranda McAllister, Roll Fizzle-Beef, Ronald D. Lunkhead, TwoBrainedCylon – a name he stole from one of his critics, RGrant Losing bets extraordinaire, Bold Bigflank, Alberta Larsononi Von Eick, Gripe Bransford Singher-Moore, Butch Crackheap, Ronald Remington Meyer, Blasphemous Butt-Hockey, Black Tower Fuzzy Slippers, bookreader, Dash Canyon, Tad Udowitz, Jameson Claymore, Ron Meyer CEO of the Universal Corporation, Russell Udowitz Sanders, Walter S. Langley, Dank Thistlenads, J.T. Charmichael, RGrant nickname Slab Bulkhead, and, of course, Stallion_Cornell Moist Box, as well as Stallion_Cornell My Moist Box is your Moist Box.

Phew.

Well, Amazon.com finally figured out what was going on and deleted all of them.

Languatron, therefore, has put them all back online at his “Fortress of Doom.” He claims that “Universal Studios and Amazon.com didn’t like all of the favorable and legitimate reviews the books criticizing Universal Studios were getting on Amazon.com.” He goes further, claiming that Universal studios “posts fake, negative book reviews,” including mine, with the following explanation:

“The negative, fake, and stealth marketed written reviews of the books remaining on Amazon.com have an air of desperation about them, don’t they? (1) They don’t sound like real, legitimate reviews (2) the reviews sound like they are all serving a singular agenda (keep the books from getting read at all costs)…(3) And that the personal lives of everyone who wrote those negative reviews would be seriously modified not to their liking if the books were read.”

In the interests of countering Universal Studios’ monopolistic control of the web, I offer you Lang’s “legitimate” reviews for your perusal.

4) My columns at the Deseret News continue to be printed. Please read them.

I actually had something to say here, but my housekeeping has taken up 680 words. So I’ll post it tomorrow. Until then, this is Bold Bigflan Thistlenads, signing off.

An Important Nick Smith Update

You haven’t forgotten our pal Nick Smith, have you? He’s the hater who emailed me out of the blue to inform me how dippy Mormons are, something he knows personally because Mormon women are dumb enough to have sex with him. I would think he’d recognize how badly that reflects on him, not me, but what do I know? I’m the stupid one, remember?

Anyhoo, as I described in my last post on the subject, I emailed him back and heard nothing. Nothing! Up late one night, I sent him one final message…

From: Stallion Cornell <stallion@stallioncornell.com>
To: Nick Smith <nicksmith382@yahoo.com>
Sent: Saturday, January 12, 2013 2:15 AM
Subject: Re:
So are we done, then? I found a very stupid Jehovah’s Witness you might be interested in.

 

And tonight, almost two weeks later, I got a response! Here it is…

On Jan 22, 2013, at 8:53 PM, Nick Smith <nicksmith382@yahoo.com> wrote:
Why is this weirdo still talking to me? You’re a clown

 

Naturally, I decided to still talk to him.

Nick! Buddy! I thought you were too busy diddling pious imbeciles to finish up our little chat! How’s tricks? (I mean that literally.)

Hugs and kisses,

Mormon Bozo (Mozo for short.)

As soon as I hear word, I shall inflict it upon my loyal readership post haste.

UPDATE: His latest missive arrived at 5:21 AM on the morning of January 23, 2013:

I think you’ve just confirmed how ridiculous you people truly are. Good grief

A Charlie Brown fan! Naturally, I fired off another round…

You and I have very different ideas about what constitutes the ridiculous. In my mind, “ridiculous” usually involves a public lack of pants. “Ridiculous” is Bob Dylan’s Christmas album. But most of all, “ridiculous” is contacting a total stranger and making witless, vitriolic generalizations about 14,000,000 people and labeling them all clods because you think they find you hot.

Well, no matter how hunky you may be to the brain-dead community, I, for one, am NOT willing to have sex with you! I mean, sweet fancy Moses, you’ve never even bought me dinner.

Awaiting another scintillating reply…

Inaugural Fear

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAYou don’t really want to read my depressing thoughts about Barack Obama’s second inauguration, do you?

If it makes you feel better, I had no such thoughts when he was sworn in four years ago. At least, that’s what I thought until I searched my blog and saw what I wrote on that occasion.

We have a new president. I don’t have a lot to say about it. His speech was workmanlike; the poem was strange and unnecessary; the closing prayer was racially divisive tripe. “When the Red Man can get ahead, man?” What the hell is that?

As I write this, a television is following Barack’s slow drive through DC after the inaugural. I cannot remember anything in either Bush term approaching this level of excitement. Obama is going to be a disappointment to just about everyone, only because God Himself couldn’t live up to this kind of hype.

So, it turns out I was somewhat depressed four years ago. But I can’t imagine I felt as bleak as I do today.

Obama didn’t live up to the hype.

The man who called George W. Bush unpatriotic for racking up $4 trillion in debt in eight years piled up $5 trillion in four. As we stand by helplessly as entitlement programs metastasize and consume the entire federal budget, he pushes through a new entitlement that is already estimated to cost trillions more than originally projected. The so-called “Affordable Care Act” has accelerated the already unsustainable growth of health care costs by double digits, and it has raised average insurance rates by about $2,000 per family. (Heaven help us if health care gets any more “affordable.”) In the meantime, the economy continues to suck out loud, as unacceptably high unemployment lingers longer than it has in living memory. Yes, we got Bin Laden, but, as we received word this past week, Algeria just got us, executing a number of American hostages with impunity only months after a resurgent al Qaeda murdered an American diplomat in our own embassy as the administration blamed YouTube.

Demonstrably and objectively, this president is a failure. And we just signed him up for another four-year hitch.

I’d like to say we know he is a failure, but the people who voted for him don’t seem to realize it. A friend of mine on Facebook posted the following self-congratulatory bile he encountered on another website:

Today is about Americans’ rejection of fear.
The fear of embracing “the other” as Barack Hussein Obama’s opponents tried to paint him.
The fear of “socialism,” as his opponents have falsely tried to paint his policies.
The fear of racial and ethnic minorities and our country’s changing demographics.
The fear of people of other faiths.
The fear of gays, lesbians and the transgendered.
The fear of the poor.
The fear of health care reform.
The fear of change.
Our fear of each other.

Congratulations, America, and thank you, for again rejecting the unreasoning, unjustified terror that our president’s opponents tried so hard to spread.

Wow. “Unreasoning, unjustified terror.”

What would that look like, exactly?

Terror that your opponent might confiscate your uterus? Personally fire you from your job? Give you cancer? It’s amazing that Obama could even have gotten a single vote, given the repeated assurances that Republicans were actively working to prevent minorities from voting. The Vice President of the United States told a group of African-Americans that Romney and the GOP were going to bring back slavery. Where was “hope and change” in 2012? It took a back seat to the hundreds of millions of dollars spent to tell you that Mitt Romney was a genocidal monster. Barack Obama ran the smallest, meanest, most vitriolic reelection campaign in living memory.

Mitt Romney was “weird.” (Fear of the “other…”)

Mitt was a “vulture capitalist.” (As opponents have falsely tried to paint his policies…)

Mitt, with voter ID laws bringing back Jim Crow, was supposedly working to “put y’all back in chains.” (The fear of racial and ethnic minorities and our country’s changing demographics…)

Scads of commentators and Obama’s most prominent SuperPAC donor went out of their way to deride Mitt Romney’s religion in scathing terms. (The fear of people of other faiths…)

Romney was accused of trying to prevent homosexuals from visiting each other in hospitals and take away their children. (The fear of gays, lesbians and the transgendered…)

Mitt Romney volunteered countless hours to help the poor and the needy as an unpaid minister and was still derided as someone who hated poor people. (The fear of the poor…)

Romney created sweeping health care reform in Massachusetts which was alternately and opportunistically praised and ridiculed, depending on whims of the audience. (The fear of health care reform…)

Romney proposed modifications to entitlement programs to make them sustainable in the long term, whereas now, unchanged, they’re on track to double our debt in less than two decades and make our nation insolvent. (The fear of change…)

Mitt Romney is a robot. He isn’t human. He has no idea what real people are like. (Our fear of each other…)

You want to know what I fear? I fear that Obama did everything he now retroactively accuses Romney and the Republicans of having done – and it worked. The way to the White House is fear, hatred, division – and, if you’re a Democrat, all of that is forgotten once you win, and people can speak of your inauguration in glowing terms while, at the same time, backhandedly slandering Republicans as being guilty of the tactics they themselves perfected.

Four more years of this.

And then, due to shifting demographics, government dependency, and unsustainable benefits that no one will risk reforming, we’ll get more of the same for decades to come – until the nation either comes to its senses or finally buckles under the strain.

Hail to the Chief.

Is Dixie University a Good Idea?

In the heart of Utah County, which is in the heart of Mormondom, you will find Springville High School and their football team, the Springville Red Devils.

The reason for the mascot is simple enough. The school was constructed by the Red Devil Cement Company, so the mascot was named in their honor. Every few years, this upsets groups who consider a Red Devil to be an inappropriately satanic icon associated with impressionable teenagers, who will no doubt start conjuring demons and praying to Beelzebub upon exposure to such. Rhetorical pitchforks fly, and much sound and fury is expended on an issue that matters, really, not at all. Occult activity in ultra-Mormon Springville doesn’t seem to be on the uptick.

On occasion, a similar debate has taken place at the University of Utah, where some question whether or not it’s disrespectful to Native Americans to refer to to U of U sports teams as “The Runnin’ Utes.” This microcosm of the long-running “Washington Redskins” controversy wastes a lot of passion and ends up going nowhere.

While there are strong opinions on both sides, it has not seemed necessary to me to take a side on these issues either way.  Locals with a stake in the heated debate seem to have been able to work these things out on their own, or less. Really, who cares?

Which brings us to Dixie College.

As the Southern Utah school prepares for its new university status, many have suggested that a name change is in order, as the title “Dixie” conjures up a relationship with the Confederacy and the ugliest chapter in American history.

Yet the word has its own unique place in the story of Utah.

When Brigham Young sent the first Mormon settlers down to the south end of the Utah territory, he did so with the hope that they would be able to grow and farm cotton in the warm climate. Those efforts resulted in the area being labeled “Utah’s Dixie,” despite the absence of slavery and Utah’s allegiance to the North during the Civil War. The name is in broad use throughout the area even today, with a large “D” for Dixie emblazoned in a lighted letter carved into a prominent hill in St. George. That hill has also been unforgivably marred to make way for some ugly condos, which almost persuade me to be an environmentalist.

dixieSee how hideous that is? But I digress.

Should the school choose to expunge the name from the fledgling university, it is not likely they will succeed in eliminating the Dixie label from the region in which it finds itself. Personally, I’ve got no real problem with Dixie. Perhaps a greater cause for concern is the mascot of Dixie College – the “Dixie Rebels.”

Rebels? Really? How about the “Dixie Confederates?” The “Dixie Secessionists?” The “Dixie Wish-We-Could-Be-Slaveowners?”

I mean, come on.

It’s no use to pretend this is an innocent, unintentional linkage. Utah’s Dixie has no history of rebellion, but America’s Dixie does. Using this mascot deliberately creates the unfortunate association that troubles critics of the Dixie name, and, to put it gently, it might be time to reconsider that mascot in order to avoid confusion.

That said, I don’t care much. I don’t watch football. I graduated from a university whose mascot shares its name with a condom brand. I’ve got no dog in this fight, except to say that St. George isn’t as nice in the winter as people think it is.

So there you go.

UPDATE: A St. George friend has pointed out that, a few years ago, Dixie College changed its mascot from the “Rebels” to “the Red Storm.” Some may think this means I’m slow on the uptake. I prefer to think this blog gets retroactive results!

10th Grade Stallion

If I had to pinpoint the time in my life where I learned how to write well, or at least where I learned to enjoy writing, it would have to be my 10th grade Calabasas High School English class under the tutelage of Mrs. Darby. (I have no idea what her first name is/was, but I’m pretty sure she bears no relation to the folks from Pride and Prejudice.)

Part of the reason was that she assigned all of us to keep a journal – not necessarily a chronicle of our life’s events, but rather a repository where we could write stories, philosophical musings, or whatever it was that popped into our heads of the time. As I recall, she asked us to write in it at least once a week. I wrote in it at least once a day. Remember, back then, if someone mentioned the Internet, they were probably talking about that mesh thingee that boys have in their swimsuits to hold themselves in place. This journal essentially ended up being an analog blog. I couldn’t get enough of it.

It just so happens that while digging through the detritus in my attic, I uncovered the two spiral notebooks in which I, Languatron–like, blogged for an audience of one. The pages are frayed and yellowed, and the handwriting is barely legible, but it’s a joy to read. (At least for me, anyway. No idea how this nonsense will play with a wider audience.)

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I was a much sharper writer than I remember, and my style and my point of view really haven’t changed as much as I thought they had. That’s both encouraging and discouraging; it means I was quite talented once, but in the intervening three decades, I haven’t made as much progress as one might expect.

Alas.

All this is preface, of course, to my plan to inflict some of these ancient gems upon the modern digital world. Instead of toiling in literary obscurity, Young Stallion will finally get the dozens of readers he deserves. It also means I can occasionally produce content for this blog without having to actually write anything. This scenario appeals to my two greatest passions: nostalgia and laziness.

It doesn’t get any better than that.

So, without further ado, I provide you a transcription of Journal Entry #4: A Letter to Euripides.

———–

Dear Euripides,

It is I, Enola Farmface, your great and lovely daughter, and mother of Grendel Farmface, who is lying in a bloody heap at my feet. While I know he will never bite the cat anymore, it is my duty as his lovely and gorgeous mother to beat the $&@% out of the @&$# who kicked the *€£#@ out of my @$@<#! son.

But that would not be subtle, or even intelligent.

No, we will worry him to death. We will aggravate and harass him until he goes prematurely bald. Being ridiculed and shamed, old Wulfy will never be taken seriously again, and kill himself in disgrace. Or maybe we put cyanide in his mead.

I can see it now. As Beowulf discreetly walks to the little boys’ room at Herot, he keels over in a catatonic stupor and lies in an alcoholic coma on the floor of the mead hall.

After the Tylenol has been checked, they will come to the conclusion that I, Enola Farmface, was the perpetrator of this insidious crime and I, Grendel’s mother, have avenged my son’s death. Or maybe I’ll just put out a contract on them and bump them off.

Yours truly,

Enola

————-

That was written circa 1982/83: long ago, yes, but still centuries after the long form English poem upon which it is based. I think you’ll agree that Beowulf-based gallows humor never goes out of style. Or at least that I was, and remain, a geek.

UPDATE: Over on Facebook, my sister pointed out that the Pride and Prejudice hero is Mr. Darcy, not Mr. Darby. So there’s that.

UPDATE II: The actual journal entry, which takes up a full handwritten page, is only 200 words. 200 words?! They seemed so long at the time. This monstrosity is over 700 words. So while I haven’t made great strides in the quality of my writing, the quantity has metastasized.

How to Measure a Religion’s Stupidity

My newest friend Nick Smith has responded to me once again! He ignored my “can’t we all get along” message and fired back with the following:

On Jan 10, 2013, at 8:39 PM, Nick Smith <nicksmith382@yahoo.com> wrote:
I knew you’d be dumb enough to respond. I once tricked a Mormon girl into having sex with me inside a Mormon church where her father worked, so I guess I’m not that surprised at your stupidity.

 

confused_MAN_swf

Is he really saying what I think he’s saying?

“Those Mormons! They’re so stupid! How stupid, you ask? Why, they’ll even have sex with ME!”

Such low-hanging fruit! So do I continue the snark, or do I try to actually live my religion and be nice to the guy? This time, I choose the latter.

My response to his response:

From: Stallion Cornell <XXX@XXXXXXXX.com>
To: Nick Smith <nicksmithXXX@yahoo.com>
Sent: Thursday, January 10, 2013 11:22 PM Subject: Re:

That’s nothing. I once tricked a Mormon girl into marrying me. So I win. But thanks.

Which produced this reply:

From: Nick Smith <nicksmithXXX@yahoo.com>
To: Stallion Cornell <XXX@XXXXXXXXX.com>
Sent: Thursday, January 10, 2013 10:04 PM
Subject: Re:

Killing with kindness? Yeah, that oughta work. Coming from a guy who’s cult leader was tarred and feathered like a maniac, I guess one must show courage

Okay, gloves are off now.

From: Stallion Cornell <XXX@XXXXXXXXX.com>
To: Nick Smith <nicksmithXXX@yahoo.com>
Sent: Thursday, January 10, 2013 10:17 PM
Subject: Re:

Indeed! Surely kindness is the appropriate response to someone who correlates a religion’s stupidity with its adherents’ willingness to have sex with him. (I, for one, am unwilling to have sex with you.)

XXOO,

Stallion

And then, thinking about it some more, I wrote this…

From: Stallion Cornell <XXX@XXXXXXXXX.com>
To: Nick Smith <nicksmithXXX@yahoo.com>
Sent: Thursday, January 10, 2013 10:26 PM
Subject: Re:

Thinking about it a little more, I recommend that you look into Catholicism. Unlike the Mormon girl you defiled, I’m sure no Catholic would be stupid enough to have sex with you.

Cheers!

Stallion

No response as of yet. I’ll keep you posted.

Cult Mormon Thoughts

My column on values in the media that appears regularly in the Deseret News includes online links both to this blog and to my personal email account. Up until recently, all of the emails I had received as a result of my column have been pleasant and respectful, even if the person writing them disagrees with me. One guy, for instance, took the time to drop me a note to let me know that I was mistaken in claiming that Christopher Walken’s portrayal of mad industrialist Zorin from the movie A View to a Kill was the worst Bond villain of all time. Okay, fair enough. Generally, I dig Christopher Walken. He’s got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell.

Last night, I received the following missive from one Nick Smith, who was at least courageous enough to attach his own name to his staggering rudeness.

Here it is.

“You disgusting cult Mormon. I’m glad the media makes fun of you idiots. And stop commenting on the arts; your cult is too stupid to know anything about the arts.”

Merciful Tehlu, how does one respond to such a thing?

The mature, grown-up reaction would be to ignore it, which, of course, is what I did not do. Instead, I fired back with a clever little bit of snark about hoping to someday be as enlightened as Nick Smith is, employing a tenet from the intellectual tradition of “I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I.”

A very silly thing to do, especially since I was flattered, not offended, by Mr. Smith’s attentions. After all, I made him mad enough to send him to his keyboard to unleash his virtual fury. That’s not nothing. It’s very close to nothing, mind you, but it’s a step up from indifference.

This morning, after enjoying quite a few chuckles from my Facebook friends at Nick Smith’s expense, I took a different approach. Here’s my latest response to him:

“For curiosity’s sake, I wonder if you could tell me what you hoped to accomplish with your message. Did you think, upon receipt of your vehement demands, that I would, in fact, stop writing? Or that I would abandon my faith? Have you ever gotten positive results through opprobrium and name calling?

I’m genuinely interested to know the answers to these questions.”

As of this writing, he has not replied. Anyone care to wager as to when I should expect his reply? I’d only take that bet if “doomsday” were an option.

I think those are good questions, though. At every level of our society, ad hominem attacks seem to be at the core of almost all public disagreements. Barack Obama is a narcissist; John Boehner is a troll; and Harry Reid is a disgusting cult Mormon. (Wait, scratch that. Nobody calls attention to Harry Reid’s heretical faith, even as they mock Mormons collectively and not individually.) To summarize, my side is virtuous; your side is stupid, evil, and unhygienic.

How’s that working out for everybody?

Unfortunately, it worked all too well during campaign season. Romney had “Romnesia” and made his millions by throwing half of America out onto the street and giving the other half cancer. It was the pettiest campaign in our collective memory, and yet it succeeded. So now, here we are.

Anyone besides me wish we were someplace else?

Reviews

I’ve been asked to review a bunch of different things, but I don’t have a whole lot to say about any one of them. So, instead, I’m going to give you a few paragraphs on each and hope that’s enough Stallion to help you get by.

THE HOBBIT

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I saw this the day before it came out in a special screening. No 48 frames per second, no 3-D, just the movie itself.

I loved it. Loved it, loved it, loved it.

I don’t have a lot more to say on the subject because most of it’s already been said. Yes, the movie feels padded. There’s just not enough source material to sustain three films of this length. Thus there is a 90-minute masterpiece embedded in this above-average three-hour movie.

Still, there’s plenty of stuff in the extra 90 minutes that’s actually kind of fun, particularly the rise of the Necromancer and the introduction of Radegast the Brown. I probably could’ve done with a little less time spent in Bilbo’s hobbit hole, and there are moments where it feels like their journey is taking place in real time.

But it’s Middle Earth! Why begrudge any extra time spent in this marvelous world?

Some of the scenes work as well or better than anything in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, particularly Bilbo’s exchange with Gollum in the “Riddles in the Dark” sequence. Andy Serkis is in fine form, and his ring–enslaved creation has never been creepier. It’s sad to know that that’s all the Gollum we get, although it leads me to believe that Benedick Cumberbatch’s Smaug is going to be a wicked delight.

My fear going into this was that the movie would be something fundamentally different from Tolkien’s lighthearted story. I’m pleased to report that that’s not the case. All of the original story is intact, and the additions are consistent in tone and theme with Tolkien’s tale. I can’t imagine that anyone familiar with either the original books or Peter Jackson’s LOTR trilogy will be disappointed with the respect and skill with which Jackson approaches this first installment. I eagerly await the next.

BLOOD AND CHROME

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For this one, no more installments are necessary.

I do feel a responsibility as a completist to review this latest addition to Ronald D Moore’s Galactica-In-Name-Only milieu, which serves as a prequel to the reimagined series sequel to a previously failed prequel, Caprica. That makes it the middle child, and it deserves to be neglected.

Visually, it has more whizbang that either of those two series, but there are no ideas behind it. The characters are wafer thin, and the warped philosophical musings at the center of Moore’s first attempt to adapt this material have all been discarded. Given that I despised Moore’s take on the Galactica premise, the fresh start could’ve been a good thing had there been some other intellectually hefty morsels introduced as replacements for the dreck we were fed the last go round. Nope. It’s all empty calories this time out.

The one exception was in a scene where a human–Cylon hybrid, voiced by GINO series regular Tricia Helfer, addresses a Cylon sympathizer and asks, “Just because you agree with us, did that make you think we would hate you any less?” For a moment, it gave the Cylons a chilling sense of menace that they woefully lacked throughout the Galactica remake. But the moment passed quickly, and there’s little reason to suspect many more like them if this generic space cowboy shoot-em-up goes to series.

I really hope it doesn’t fly, because I’ll feel obligated to watch it and write more snarky reviews. Although writing snarky reviews is always kinda fun in its own right.

THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN: SEASON 2
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Yes, this is what you’ve all been waiting for – a review of a 40-year-old TV show that I already reviewed once before. But I’m having a lot of fun with this one. I’m using it as my standard viewing material on my phone during my elliptical and treadmill time at 24 Hour Fitness, and it’s perfect for that purpose. It requires no intelligence; it’s nice and nostalgic, and there’s so much filler in each episode that I never have to worry about missing anything.

All the plot twists are obvious from miles away, and you wonder how people tolerated such pedantic writing in episodic television for so long. Something this poorly paced would be laughed off the screen in the 21st Century.

Although there are some really astonishing time capsules in this series. For instance, in one of the episodes, Steve Austin is assigned to be the bodyguard for a foreign female prime minister, and he tells her, sounding quite reasonable, that a lady could never be a leader here in the US, that a woman’s place is in the home, and, no way, he couldn’t imagine ever having a female boss. So there!

To hear a sympathetic hero spout something so troglodytic and politically incorrect seems ridiculous – yet, paradoxically, it’s also a breath of fresh air. No one is allowed to be macho on TV anymore, unless they’re supposed to be jerks. Steve is very much a product of his time, and while I don’t agree with his point of view, there’s something charming about seeing that viewpoint represented without critical judgment. Good guys are no longer allowed to believe things that are out of step with enlightened opinion.

It just goes to show that television has pushed the envelope in many ways, but it’s also become more sterile at the same time. Plus there aren’t as many bionic people.

So, to sum up, Hobbit good, Blood and Chrome bad, Six Million Dollar Man bad but good, and macho besides.

Have a nice day.

Tea Party Tax Hikers

Pacifism is objectively pro-fascist. This is elementary common sense. If you hamper the war effort of one side, you automatically help out that of the other.

– George Orwell

 

All of Utah’s congressmen and one of my senators voted to raise my taxes by somewhere around $2,000.

That’s not how they think of it, of course. But that’s what they did. Utah Senator Mike Lee was one of only eight senators to oppose the fiscal cliff deal that would prevent a massive tax increase on the vast majority of Americans. My representative, Jason Chaffetz, announced that he “can’t vote for a bill such as what is being proposed” because it doesn’t include everything he wants. And both Rob Bishop, a Republican, and Jim Matheson, a Democrat, voted against it, too.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

The framers of the Constitution feared concentrations of power and therefore created a system where it is next to impossible for any one faction to achieve all of its goals unfettered. Thus the American government is messy and inefficient by design. It doesn’t just tolerate compromise; it demands it. Legislators that refuse to engage in any such compromises effectively abdicate the responsibility they have to represent the interests of their constituents. They often give fiery speeches that arouse the party faithful, but they end up leaving all of the heavy lifting of producing workable legislation to those lawmakers who favor obligation over oratory.

I say this in full recognition of the flaws of the deal that just passed. The absence of substantial spending cuts is troubling, and the unwillingness of either party to address the structural problems of unsustainable entitlement spending puts the long-term solvency of our nation at risk. This current bill is woefully inadequate in addressing the scope of our current fiscal quagmire. It is, however, a substantially better alternative to doing nothing. While it would be helpful if Utah’s elected officials were good faith participants in the negotiating process, their rigidity essentially isolates them and forces their colleagues to work around them instead of with them.

Utah’s congressional delegation would probably be replaced en masse if they lined up in full support of the colossal tax increases awaiting us at the bottom of the fiscal cliff. Yet despite that outcome being made more likely by their intransigence, their supporters will undoubtedly cheer these so-called “principled” stands, ignoring the fact that, in practical terms, these representatives are voting to increase the nation’s tax burden just as surely as if they had campaigned to do so. While they hope to be rewarded for their fealty to the far right, the actual results of their vote would create a policy that would undermine the very principles to which they have pledged their rhetorical allegiance.

They should not be judged by what they say, but what they do – or, in this case, what they refuse to do.