Monthly Archives: January 2014

People Mostly Hate Obama Because He’s Obama

There are plenty of reasons to be unhappy with the tenure of President Obama.  The most vocal people tend not to bring up any of those valid reasons.  What do they do instead?  They make crap up.  It doesn’t matter how stupid the stuff they make up is.  It doesn’t matter how easily disprovable the stuff they make up is.  All that matters is that the sizable portion that dislikes Obama will believe it.

Take Tuesday’s State of the Union address.  President Obama claimed that he will use a series of Executive Orders to get things accomplished in areas where Congress wasn’t moving fast enough and he was legally able to use Executive Orders.  This is unprecedented!  Obama is a dictator!  Obama is killing democracy!  Tyranny!  Didn’t Hitler also issue Executive Orders?!

Here’s the thing.  Executive Orders are public knowledge.  There are places that keep track of these things.  Guess what it shows.   Go on, guess!  Yep, Obama has issued fewer Executive Orders per year than any other President since records have been kept (back to Herbert Hoover).  The general trend is that the number of Executive Orders per President has been going down quite fast.  In fact, the lowest number of Executive Orders per year have been ordered by the last five Presidents.

So yes, Obama is well outside the norm when it comes to amount of Executive Orders issued by a President.  But he is well below average, not above.  And what should be a story about how much restraint the Obama Administration has shown when it comes to Executive Orders is twisted into a story about how, once again, Obama is un-American and destroying our country.  But don’t worry, race has nothing to do with this.

Book Review: The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie

Jean-Paul’s Rating: 3/5 stars

This book gets Jean-Paul’s Gold Star Seal of Approval for Having a Strong Female Lead™.  It’s totally a thing.

This is my first foray into Agatha Christie books.  I was both pleased and a bit disappointed with the book.  This is the second book written by Christie and introduces us to characters that she will use again in future novels.  Tommy Beresford and Prudence “Tuppence” Cowley are lifelong friends who are looking to make some money.  They overhear a conversation at a restaurant that leads them into a fairly immoral blackmail plot.  The blackmail plot leads them into a world of international intrigue putting them in the position to foil an attempt by the mysterious Mr. Brown to throw England into chaos.

The plot is kind of convoluted.  Tommy and Tuppence are looking for a girl and a document that she may be in possession of.  The document is of utmost importance because if it gets out, it could lead to another war.  It is never quite clear how or why this would happen, which I guess is not exactly necessary, but it is a hole that bothered my brain while I was reading.

The Tommy and Tuppence characters are absolutely delightful.  Tuppence is smart, strong-willed and reactionary while Tommy is more of a wait and think kind of person.  I found myself wishing that the whole world would talk like those two talk to each other.  They are playful and witty and exchange mocking barbs with each other.  The times they are together make for wonderful reading.  But then Agatha Christie makes the mistake of separating them for a good portion of the middle of the book.  And apart, the story drifts into a bunch of larger than life characters that are only somewhat interesting.  Each kind of flits from scene to scene but the magic of their interactions are gone.  This is more noticeable with Tommy than it is with Tuppence, but it applies to both.

“The Secret Adversary” is a decent book with some things going for it.  It was only Agatha Christie’s second novel so she may still be finding her voice.  I am sold on the Tommy and Tuppence combination, though, so I will definitely be reading more of them.


My cat, Lindy, is a massive ball of fur.  She’s long-haired and multi-colored.  She is also shedding like you cannot believe.  You ever see the aftermath of a cat fight where there are tufts of fur everywhere?  That’s what my house looks like.  There are cat hair tumbleweeds rolling across my living room.  The air is so saturated with cat fur that I am waken up multiple times a night by cat hair landing on my face.  No amount of brushing is able to stem the fusilade of fur.  I have never seen so much fur come off of an animal before.  And I used to own a Siberian husky.

I Want To Dive Into A Pool Of Body Lotion

It has been lip splittingly dry at work this week. Between that and the bitter, cold temperatures,  my skin is a flaky wrinkly mess.  This is the only thing I hate about winter.  I don’t know if age makes it worse or if I have just become more aware of it as I age, but it certainly seems to happen more often now than it used to.  Why hasn’t anyone invented a body suit that is coated in skin moistener?  Between that and the lack of a cure for cancer, I am beginning to lose faith in scientists.

Marriage Equality Is Pretty Much A Done Deal

In state after state, the barriers against same-sex marriage are falling.  Even in uber-religious bastions like Utah, equality is coming into fashion.  Gandhi was right.  First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

There is still a lot of noise coming from religious circles, but their fight is all but over and as the count goes from 17 to 18 to 19 states they will more and more marginalize themselves as the bigots that they are.  But let’s be honest here, this religious fight has nothing to do with the sanctity of marriage as they loudly claim.  If it were about marriage, there would be just as much outrage over the state of heterosexual marriage in the U.S.  But, no, sanctimonious religious people loves them some divorces.

No, if we are honest with each other, this fight is about one thing and one thing only: sex.  Good, old-fashioned butt-sex.  It is, after all, an abomination unto God according to their holiest of holy books.  That and shellfish.  God hates nothing more than butt-sex and shellfish.  And woe unto those who dare combine the two!  I’m looking at you, Japan!  Without marriage, they can tune out the whole idea that gay sex is happening all around them.  At this very moment.  Just on the other side of that wall right there.  With legal same-sex marriage, though, it becomes very hard to ignore.  Marriage, in their minds, legitimizes gay sex.

When people start quoting the stupider parts of the bible, it’s hard to refute them.  Obviously, telling them their book is dumb and full of contradictions and has just as much to say about morality as “A Prayer for Owen Meany” does isn’t going to work.  The truth is you’re not going to win this argument.  There is really only one option.  Walk away.  But not before a witty rejoinder.  So before walking away, look deep into their eyes and say as loudly as you feel comfortable with, “Oh yeah?  Well if God hates butt-sex so much, why did he give men prostates?”  Be sure to pause for a few seconds to bask in their discomfort.  Drop your microphone if you happen to be holding one.  Walk away.  Peace!

Soylent Isn’t People!

Talk about dark, dystopian futures!  Entrepreneur Rob Rhinehart wants to change the way everyone eats.  That mostly entails eating, or rather, drinking his new product he cleverly called Soylent.  It’s a combination of powdered chemicals and nutrients meant to satisfy every need the human body requires nutrition-wise.  His goal is not to replace eating real food but to drastically reduce it.  Eat Soylent on the weekdays and have some nice meals on the weekends.

Things are off to a good start for Rob too.  He’s already passed the $2M mark in sales.  I think it was $65 gets you a week’s worth of Soylent mixture.  Not a bad price.  I, for one, can’t imagine a world without the every day variety of foods I now enjoy, but I’m an upper middle class first worlder.  I’d assume the poor or the third world would welcome something like this if the price could come down with the success of the product.

I think Soylent’s main problem with mass acceptability will likely be its taste.  The best review of the taste I’ve seen or heard was that you get used to it after a while.  “Soylent, you’ll get used to it!” doesn’t exactly have much commercial potential.  So far, it seems more marketed to those people who don’t have time to eat or simply don’t like to eat.  The former seems a limited market and the latter is just unfathomable to me.  There’s likely to be quite the upward battle in spreading from those two niches.

There is also the problem of Rob Rhinehart’s perceived future need for Soylent.  He claims that the world can’t possibly feed 10 billion people on normal foods.  That may be true given today’s food paradigm, but remove meat from it and we’re looking at a whole new ballgame.  I like his ambition, though.  He sees Soylent as eventually being provided as just another utility like water.

Pyroclastic Whoah!

You know how Pompeii was destroyed in an instant from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius?  What did all of the damage and the amazing preservation is what’s called a pyroclastic flow.  It’s a very fast-moving conglomeration of ash and gasses and lava that has immense destructive powers.  It’s one of those things that happens so quickly, you don’t have much time to document it.  Luckily, scientists are getting a lot better at predicting volcanic explosion so there’s usually a camera or ten around to capture the awesomeness.  Here is an example of said awesomeness:


Batter Up!

So, yeah, more weird dreams.  This time, I was a pitcher in Major League Baseball.  I’m not sure what team I was on.  Oh, and the rules for pitching were slightly different from your normal MLB game.  I was required to pitch from the top of a flight of stairs.  Also, I’m not sure if it was required, but I was pitching underhand.  The batter stood at the landing on the flight of stairs and the catcher was down the next flight of stairs at a 90 degree angle from myself and the batter.  The object was to pitch the ball into the strike zone but also somehow make it turn that 90 degrees and reach the catcher.  I was not bothered by this impossibility at all.  What got me frustrated was that I kept bouncing the ball off the stairs well in front of the batter.  This went on for some indeterminate amount of time before I woke up.

Movie Review: Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit

Jean-Paul’s Rating: 3/5 Stars

Bottom Line: A bit of a convoluted plot.  Some good action.  All in all, mindless fun.

This is not your daddy’s Jack Ryan.  Gone is the Cold War intrigue between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. of the Tom Clancy novels.  Here is the new economy intrigue between the U.S. and the C.I.S. as Jack Ryan gets rebooted for the next generation.  Also gone, unfortunately, is the cerebralness of many of the prior Clancy movies as the reboot decides to go the pure action route.

Every reboot needs an origin story and this one has it.  Economics PhD student Jack Ryan drops out of the London School of Economics when 9/11 happens.  He joins the Marines and is sent to Afghanistan.  He ends up getting shot down in a helicopter and severely injuring his back.  While in rehab, he meets his love interest and is recruited into the CIA as an undercover analyst.

Analysts are boring, though.  So after an assassination attempt, Jack quickly goes from analyst to operative.  There is a large suspension of disbelief required for this moment.  I won’t go into more detail than that, but the whole thing about Jack becoming an operative is kind of eye-rolling.  It doesn’t detract from the movie at all, but it would have been nice if they weren’t so sloppy.

The movie has all of your necessary spy thriller scenes.  There’s the breaking into a super secure building to steal information.  There’s the distracting the bad guy so the break-in can occur.  There’s the kidnapping of the love interest.  There’s the car chase to rescue the love interest.  There’s the montage of unlikely jumping to conclusions where they figure the whole plot out.  There’s a bomb.  There’s a motorcycle chase scene.  There’s Jack saving the day.

Yes, it’s all pretty formulaic, but it works.   I would like a Jack Ryan movie with a bit more depth than this had, but I also wouldn’t mind seeing another one of this quality.