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Two from Earth-2 - Macgyver and Lethal Weapon

There are two reboots this season. I like to think of reboots as the "Earth-2" version. (If you don't know, in the DC universe, there are multiple earths with slightly or significant differences of the heroes we know - and if you don't know, I'm curious why you find my stuff interesting.) Both of these shows have some of the same touchstones - but only one really gets the feel.

First, the good - Lethal Weapon. No, this show is not high thoughtful drama, but neither were the movies. They've created a new arc for the characters, but the same interplay, the same chemistry - and the same tendency for things to go horribly wrong resulting in car crashes, windows blown out, and usually an explosion. It's just for popcorn munching - FUN popcorn munching.

Then the bad - Macgyver. I really want to like this, and I haven't completely given up on it. The guy playing Macgyver, he's got the patter right, he shows the confidence when pulling off a Macgyver trick. But... Mistake #1 - he's got a team as opposed to Mac going into a situation alone. Mistake #2 - Mac hates guns, won't use them. In one episode of the old series, he got a gun and disassembled it to use the parts. Earth-2's Mac doesn't like guns either - but that's OK, one of his teammates is a young Jack Dalton who always carries multiple guns and uses them with abandon.

But biggest mistake - in the pilot his girlfriend is on the team, but things go wrong and she's shot - except whoops, she wasn't really, she was in on the plot and so Mac's got a tragic backstory and is looking to track her down. Wrong. Mac has a settled mind, usually, so sees the solutions no one else does, how to put things together no one else can. He's got some history that on rare ocassions arises - but it's the exception as opposed to the norm. The real Mac is a happy geek making things happen.

And yet... there are bits where they get it just right. When recruiting a hacker from jail, he describes his role as "That stuff you do with computers? I do it with everything else." So I'm still watching it. But the towel waiting to be thrown in.

Posted on October 15, 2016, 2:39 pm

Donald Brown
@GadgetDon

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Just WTF does Trump think the Generals have been doing

OK, I have HAD it with Trump's stupidity.

"I'll ask the generals to give me a plan within 30 days to destroy ISIS." IDIOT! You think until the Great Snakeoil Salesman gives they order they haven't worked on plans to destroy ISIS????

Here's my guess what they'll say:

Sir, we do not need 30 days, we do not need 30 minutes, here are the plans that represent our best thinking.

Plan 1 - Invasion. Massive numbers of boots on the ground. We take all of the ISIS controlled territories. Casualties will be significant. One issue will be separating out the ISIS members, can't even say it's a combatants vs. non-combatants because there's also a civil war going on. We almost certainly will wind up in a fight with the Syrian forces, Assad would not stand for another army in his country. There will almost certainly be massive civilian casualties which will radicalize the survivors creating the next terrorist threat.

Plan 2 - Massive bombing runs. Flatten all ISIS controlled territories. The ordinance required will probably require manned bomber runs and so will have some casualties, though less than Plan 1. Massive civilian deaths, survivors and relatives radicalized and quite ready to inflict what damage they can do to us - and to be honest, if someone did that to our country trying to take out some group, I'd feel the same.

Plan 3 - What we're doing now. Targetted drone attacks on leaders, provide support for armies in the area, and work to negotiate a resolution for the revolution in Syria. It's not fast, but it's working, ISIS has been forced out of most of the territory they had held. Minimizes civilian deaths, because the armed forces are neighbors may be viewed less as an invasion force and any desires for revenge will focus on the countries supplying troups.

Posted on September 8, 2016, 1:40 am

Donald Brown
@GadgetDon

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On the nature of dictators

Was having a discussion with someone on Twitter about whether dictatorships were left or right and things got past the 140 character limit. So I'll put my arguments together here.

Dictatorships can be recognized by an assumption of absolute power. No opposition is allowed. The population only has what rights the ruling person/party allows (and usually can withdraw those "rights" as desired). But there are several paths to dictatorship in our modern world, and no, they aren't all leftist. (I'm leaving out more historical methods like conquering territory or hereditary kingships/emperors)

Communist Dictators

These gain power with a message that the common man gets a raw deal because the rich have all the money and own all the businesses and treat everyone else as serfs to be abused. Lenin and Mao are the best examples. Once given power, they have the ability to seize anything and parcel it out "for the common good" that tends to be for the rulers' good. No opposition is allowed because the Party is the worker's party so any other party would be against the workers. (Yeah right). These dictatorships are strong left wing. Under them, while the common man's condition may improve from prior conditions (if you were poor and don't offend The Party), only members of The Party will thrive. Absolute top-down economic plans just don't work.

Side note: not all leftists are working towards communism or a dictatorship. No, socialism is not a synonym for communism.

Strong Man Dictatorships

In these cases, the general populace feels put upon but rather than a primary economics argument, the dictator promises to protect the people. They'll bring "Law and Order". They'll make the country great again. Often, they'll also talk about rebuilding the military and make the country strong. There will often be a scapegoat to blame for the country's problems (Jews, Communists, whatever) and they promise to crack down on that group. Opposition parties are "discouraged" and eventually banned because Our Fearless Leader is the one who knows where our country must go so anyone challenging him wants to take the country in the wrong direction.

Once in power, these dictators often don't fiddle much with economics and those with property can keep it (unless you're a member of the scapegoated groups). Businesses may thrive under the new regime, so they support it's continued existence. And even the general populace may prosper (again, the general populace not in the scapegoated groups) and the dictator may be popular for quite a while. But eventually the despotic nature asserts itself, Lord Acton is proven right again, and they're set for revolution.

Under the normal classification of political philosophies, these dictators are right because they aren't trying to run the economy and support capitalism (within limits). Examples of strong man dictators include Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, and Pinochet. (And yes, Hitler was a classic right-wing strong man dictator. The fact that he called his movement National Socialism has as much meaning as The Democratic Republic of Vietnam which was neither Democratic nor a Republic.

Religious Dictatorships

Or for a shorter word, theocracy. We must live under the rules of God as the ruling party believes them to be. No opposition is allowed because they want to take the country away from God. The economical system is dependent upon the religious belief system, though usually restricted capitalism will take place.

In modern times, these dictatorships are almost completely Muslim. But there have been Christian dictatorships (and there are those who speak as if they want to institute it here.

Is Israel a religious dictatorship? I don't believe so, because while it does identify as a Jewish State and many laws clearly favor jews (particularly orthodox jews), one can be a citizen in good standing and yet be in a member of another religion.

In theory, theocracies are neither inherently left or right. They are almost always the more conservative wing of the religion, but that's not the same as economic conservatism.

After the revolution

Once a dictatorship is in firm control, they do start to resemble each other. Whatever the initial justification for seizing power, holding onto that power becomes the top priority. Informers, harsh punishment for those who threaten the state, etc. The early ideals (if they were ideals as opposed to just political points) become less important than staying in power. As Lord Acton said, "Power tends to corrupt and abbsolute power corrupts absolutely."

 

 

Posted on August 4, 2016, 2:17 am

Donald Brown
@GadgetDon

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Three Good Trailers from SDCC

As the three regular readers of my blog know, I was at San Diego Comic Con last year. Probably won't go back, I knew going in that I dislike crowds and long lines and learned I really hate crowds and long lines. But it does have some of the geekiest stuff released there. A bunch of trailers came out this weekend:

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

This is my "Must See" movie of the year. It's in the Harry Potter Universe, but placed several years ahead of the stories in the books and has a plotline completely separate from the books. First, I'm a big Harry Potter fan, love the world she created. Love the books but thought the films suffered a bit, because they just couldn't put all that stuff in the movies. J.K. Rowling wrote this screenplay, so it's designed for the screen. It's part one of a trilogy and looks like a lot of fun.

Justice League

I've been REALLY skeptical of this movie. I hated Man of Steel and didn't like Batman v. Superman much more. So the news of building into a Justice League movie sounded bad. But... this trailer gives me hope. It's not nearly as dark as the first two, either in the color scheme or in tone. And yet they're clearly preparing for an epic fight. And yes, Aquaman is a badass as the King of the 7 Seas should be. It's just a trailer so plenty of time to mess it up, but there's some hope.

Wonder Woman

Similarly, as part of the fruit of the poisoned tree of Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman, I've been skeptical but the buzz has said that this would set its own tone. This trailer sets that. I'm loving that the Amazons are WARRIORS. Yes, they go into war in completely inappropriate garb, but it's a comic book. As for Wonder Woman herself, I like the way the costume works in action. And the shield standing up to the rifle shots, great. (Probably made of vibranium) I hope the glow on the magic lasso gets toned down a bit as they finish production, but other than that, look and feel is spot on.

And it also does have it's lighter side. Etta Candy was always good for a laugh and it's now a laugh with some snap. Steve Trevor is properly confused and off his game dealing with the Amazon Princess.

Posted on July 23, 2016, 4:40 pm
Last updated on August 2, 2016, 2:23 pm

Donald Brown
@GadgetDon


Gun Control - taking shit seriously

OK, it's time for some serious gun control. Here's my plan. No, the NRA won't like it. This is a feature, not a bug.

Definitions

For the purpose of this act, a gun is defined as any weapon that fires projectiles at high speed with the potential to kill. This includes handguns, rifles, semi-automatics, etc.

Regulation of sales

#1 Anyone who sells more than one gun in a year (other than to a registered and licensed gun seller) must be registered and licensed as a gun seller. An unlicensed seller can only sell a gun owned for over a year. Licensed gun sellers must be licensed by the federal government and the state government. ANY infraction of laws concerning gun sales will result in a permanent loss of the license to sell guns. As part of the licensing, a gun seller must post a bond which will be forfeit if the license is revoked for cause.

#1a A gun sold by a non-registered gun seller must have been owned for one year. The seller is responsible for ensurring that the new owner register the gun to avoid the implications of Section 5.

#2 A registered and licensed gun seller must submit a potential buyer to a full and complete investigation. This will explore (a) criminal convictions, (b) mental health issues, (c) restraining orders, (d) recent passage of gun safety program, (e) inclusion in the terrorist watch list, (f) whether a gun has been purchased in the past 60 days. This investigation may take up to two months.

#3 Any individual can only purchase one guy every 60 days. Exceptions will be made for registered gun clubs, security companies, or other organizations as set forth by Congress.

#4 Anyone purchasing a gun or getting a carry license must have taken an approved gun safety course. This course will include graphic depictions of the victims of gun violence, safety issues, the law, and passing a “shoot/don’t shoot” simulation (the simulation can be done on a computer). A 51% score will be considered passing to purchase a gun, a 95% score will be considered passing to get a carry license.

#4a Every gun will be sold with a locked case. The code for the case will be sent to the owner 12 hours after the purchase, by SMS message, email, or paper mail.

Responsibility of gun ownership

#5 If a gun owned by a person is used to kill or seriously wound someone else in any situation other than self-defense, the gun owner is subject to negligent homicide charges. This includes the gun being stolen, a child finding the gun and accidentally killing someone, suicide by other than the owner, other accidental shots, etc. If the owner is a corporation, the president of the company will be subject to those charges. Exceptions can be made for on-site use at gun clubs or training organizations provided the person shot had signed a waiver.

#5a All guns must be registered with the weapon type, serial number, picture, owner name, address, social security number.

Carry restrictions

#6 Within the boundaries of a city with a population over (size to be determined), all guns taken out of the owner’s property must be carried within a locked gun safe. Anyone caught with an unlocked gun will have that gun seized and be arrested for 30 days. Individuals can apply for a license to carry up to two handguns. Applications must include reason for carrying the gun, passage of a gun safety course with a 95% score within the past six months. Any carry license shall be suspended while under a restraining order, and for one year after hospitalization for mental issues. States and/or cities can add additional requirements for receiving the license. In 2020, these carried guns must be equipped with smart technology ensuring that only the owner can operate the gun.

#6a Members of security organizations can issue more powerful weapons to members on duty. These guns must be collected from security officers at the end of shift. The responsibilities and penalties of Section 5 still apply.

#7 Outside of the the cities listed in #6 - Any state, county, municipality, or property owner can demand that the same limitations on carrying be upheld. Clear signs must be posted telling gun owners of this fact, unclear signage can be used as a defense. Additionally, property owners can ban the carrying of guns even with license. Again, clear signage is required.

#8 No limitation is placed on guns kept on the owner’s property. Those who feel the need to build a large collection of weapons for hunting or protection or other reasons may do so, albeit very slowly. However, the penalties of Section 5 would apply even on the gun owner's private property.

Implementation

#9 In the first six months of this act, gun owners may turn in their guns for a tax deduction equal to the market value of the gun prior to the passing of this act. These guns must be turned into a recognized law enforcement agency that must ensure the destruction of the weapons. Any guns turned in that were not destroyed and used under circumstances listed in #5 will subject the leader of the law enforcement agency to the penalties listed therein. Guns not turned in or sold to a licensed gun seller must either be registered within these six months or be made permanently inoperative.

#10 In the first twelve months of this act, the license requirement is waived under Section 6 (though restriction on weapon types still applies).

Posted on June 17, 2016, 5:11 am
Last updated on July 22, 2016, 5:26 pm

Donald Brown
@GadgetDon


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