The Captain Kirk Problem: How Doctor Who Betrayed Matt Smith

Lots of good pulls in this Atlantic article, but some highlights:
The entirety of Season Six is when Moffat’s fascination for plot twists and open-ended mysteries (in our house, we describe this unfortunate tendency as “plotty-wotty”) took over the show, and the whole product suffered.

...

As Moffat checked off the boxes, ... all I could think of was The Eight Deadly Words that doom all forms of storytelling: I don’t care what happens to these people.

...

If only the problems with this show had anything to do with the cast.

I've said it so much on Twitter it should be embarrassing, but Moffat has to go. Who do I write at the BBC? Someone has to be keeping tabs on this kind of criticism, yes?

The struggle of an indexed life

I live online. That's a statement means different things to different people.

To people before my generation, that may mean I've made a choice disconnect from "real life" and spend it staring at a series of LCD screens.

To those within my generation (or neighboring it), it may mean that I've adopted the position that my job and life nearly require me to be tethered to a mobile device (phone, laptop, tablet) for pretty much every waking hour--standard exceptions for family events, medical moments, and Federally-imposed dead zones (airplanes). Sleep is not an excuse.

But, increasingly, being "online" is a default. A recent survey from the Institute for the Future asked participants "How many hours per week do you spend online?" Increasingly, the response to that question is: I don't understand the question. We are moving more to a culture where everything you do is online. The default is no longer "I choose to be online," it's "I live in this always-connected world."

The struggle for many people in my position (generational identification aside) is that, by living by default online, we still report to, are hired by, and deal with people who do not share or potentially understand that mindset. We still see stories in mainstream media outlets about "teens" (for large values of "teens") who post every intimate detail of their lives to social media. To these people, posting this information is not seen as a negative or a positive; it is a default. It just is.

I always fear that what I say hear (or on Twitter or Google+) will flow back to a person in my professional life who does not understand that those things, while me, are not how I am at all times. Having my entire life indexed is a challenge, despite Mark Zuckerberg's opinions to the contrary. (Sidenote: I avoid Facebook due to family.)

Someday this will change. In 10 years, hiding who you are to any degree online isn't likely to be as big an issue as it is now. I think it will bring other challenges, but the societal norms will change enough that damage to a professional career won't be so looming. At least I hope so since Google doesn't forget.

Why I Quit Watching The Walking Dead

I was a big fan until this season. And then, after the second episode, I just gave up. I think the inherit conflict in the show's structure finally got to me. It's not that the show doesn't give fans what they want; everyone wants something different that can't be met.

But what is central to the show are two things that I think are in direct conflict with maintaining long-term engagement:

  • The show is, at it's heart, largely about character development and interpersonal relationships. The characters have more or less found ways to survive (although more on that later). What they haven't figured out, and what the show constantly explores, is how or if you rebuild society in the face of certain doom.

  • The show is also brutal about the realities of life after the apocalypse. Hope is a dangerous thing, often repaid in crushing disappointment or death. In fact it relishes the moments when destruction visits the group, spending considerable time on the setup and execution of graphic deaths, repelling of the zombie hordes, and the general acceptance of killing walkers as a matter-of-fact part of life.


These two things set up a conflict the show can't resolve, however. When you have a show driven by the characters within it's universe, viewers have to connect. It's the only way you can put yourself in the world and feel threatened or satisfied. The drama of the show hinges on viewers being able to feel the heavy, ever-present threat walkers embody.

Except you can't anymore. Allowing yourself to identify with anyone other than Rick opens the real possibility that your avatar in the world gets killed or removed somehow. Rick is the sole exception as he's not in any real risk. The economics of the television show effectively dictate that Rick must survive. He's the cover art for the show.

Anyway, all of this has led to the show becoming very boring once you remove yourself from becoming attached to a character or engaging in the deeper explorations. All of the questions the show raises are embodied in characters; altruism, bravery, morality all found voices in people. To grep the arguments of the show, you have to viscerally understand the character making the statement. The reward for doing so is no longer worth the investment for me.

I'll probably binge watch this season on Netflix at some point, but I no longer make time to watch it when it airs. All the people I talked with about the previous-night's show have all independently stopped watching. The overwhelming comment is that the show is "boring".

I don't think that bodes well for what, until now, has been must-watch television.

Windows 8 Sound Randomly Drops Out (Solution)

You, like me, have a Windows 8 machine which has the sounds randomly drop out. Your drivers look fine, everything is up to date, but this annoying thing keeps happening. Fear not, there is a solution, courtesy of Tech Support Forum. For Windows 8, search for and open Sound, click the Communications tab, select "Do nothing", and click Apply.



Why this is not the default setting is beyond me.

A Breakdown of Guns and Ammo's Response to a Reasonable Editorial

Recently, a [former] editor at Guns and Ammo published what most rational citizens would consider a measured and logical approach to gun control. For that, he was fired, disowned, and earned an official response from the remaining editorial staff. Below is that response, editorialized by me, a current non-crazy gun person (which apparently is now something we have to designate ourselves as). Since Guns and Ammo is such a Constitutionally-minded organization, they clearly understand my First Amendment rights (one better than Second!) in editorializing  their rebuttal.




From Jim Bequette, editor, “Guns & Ammo” Magazine:

As editor of “Guns & Ammo,” I owe each and every reader a personal apology.
If it's for the following message, yes. Yes you do.

No excuses, no backtracking.
What follows is a metric shit-ton of everything elses. Mostly ignoring the original editorial and begging for you to return to your previous mental patterns.

Dick Metcalf’s “Backstop” column in the December issue has aroused unprecedented controversy.
Mostly in the cognitive dissonance he created in our readers' minds. Sorry for the overload required to process his pretty basic gun regulation discussion.

Readers are hopping mad about it, and some are questioning “Guns & Ammo”’s commitment to the Second Amendment. I understand why.
Actually, he doesn't. And, like him, no one emailing Jim has anything remotely resembling a passing knowledge of current Second Amendment Law.

Let me be clear: Our commitment to the Second Amendment is unwavering. It has been so since the beginning.
We think Fred Bear is a documentary. Also, we may not understand what documentaries are.

Historically, our tradition in supporting the Second Amendment has been unflinching. No strings attached.
You should totally be able to own a fully automatic, tripod-mounted, .50 caliber machine gun to compensate for... whatever. Commies! Terrorists! 'Murica!

It is no accident that when others in the gun culture counseled compromise in the past, hard-core thinkers such as Harlon Carter, Don Kates and Neal Knox found a place and a voice in these pages.
We support the craziest, batshit-insane arguments for the most completely unregulated gun laws you could imagine. Seriously, Google these guys.

When large firearms advocacy groups were going soft in the 1970s, they were prodded in the right direction, away from the pages of “Guns & Ammo.”
I ran out of scare quotes. Please insert as necessary so you take my euphemisms for fact.

In publishing Metcalf’s column, I was untrue to that tradition, and for that I apologize. His views do not represent mine — nor, most important, “Guns & Ammo”’s. It is very clear to me that they don’t reflect the views of our readership either.
Guns and Ammo is a bastion of out-dated and fringe viewpoints, based in a world that hasn't existed in 20 years, if ever. We promise to not make you think about any stupid-ass position you have internalized. Please continue ignoring all the kids dying in this country and believing that more guns somehow counters the excessive amount of guns already in circulation.

Dick Metcalf has had a long and distinguished career as a gunwriter, but his association with “Guns & Ammo” has officially ended.
The world, embodied in Dick Metcalf, has moved on but we resolutely refuse to acknowledge that so we fire anyone who represents a viewpoint that doesn't conform to our narrow viewpoint.

I once again offer my personal apology. I understand what our valued readers want.
Armed revolt against a boogieman.

I understand what you believe in when it comes to gun rights, and I believe the same thing.
I don't actually. We think it's unfettered access to military-grade weapons, but so few of you can parse scientific studies that say you're wrong, we default to marketing weapons from the manufactures in the most political way we can. Mostly due to your subscription dollars.

I made a mistake by publishing the column.
This statement was mostly based on your removal of subscription dollars.

I thought it would generate a healthy exchange of ideas on gun rights.
Or pageviews. Either way.

I miscalculated, pure and simple. I was wrong, and I ask your forgiveness.
I really thought we could bring you Neanderthals along into a discussion most of the country finished in the 20th century (for those of you keeping time, that was almost 15 years past). I was wrong and you threatened my livelihood and, let's be frank, I need this job way more than my integrity or honor.

Plans were already in place for a new editor to take the reins of “Guns & Ammo” on January 1.
No they weren't.

However, these recent events have convinced me that I should advance that schedule immediately.
Please stop cancelling your subscriptions.

Your new “Guns & Ammo” editor will be Eric R. Poole, who has so effectively been running our special interest publications, such as “Book of the AR-15” and “TRIGGER.” You will be hearing much more about this talented editor soon.
We promise to continue feeding your conspiracy-minded worldview. Please buy the stupid shit we referenced above as we've already arranged to get a cut of those sales.

“Guns & Ammo” will never fail to vigorously lead the struggle for our Second Amendment rights, and with vigorous young editorial leadership such as Eric’s, it will be done even better in the future.
Seriously, your ridiculous worldview will be completely justified in these pages. We'll also promote the various weapons and ammo you can use to threaten the strawmen we set up in our editorial pages.

Respectfully,
Please don't shoot me

Jim Bequette
Coward

Nevermind, we'll stay here

Moving the blog to Blogger was breaking too much, especially photos and other media. So, for now, the blog will stay here.

Disabling a Stubborn Field Test Mode

Some time ago, I turned on Field Test Mode on my iPhone 4. I then dutifully backed up that phone for ages, restoring that backup to my new iPhone 5 when I got it last year.

Then I tried turning off Field Test Mode, which came over in the backup. And it wouldn't stay turned off.

After much searching I found a solution that, for now, appears to have solved the issue: enter the number into Notes and then paste the number into dialer, instead of typing in the number (from this helpful Apple support thread).

Breaking Bad

Perfect.

So much digital ink will be spilled on Monday about this show, I'll hold my insufficient words. But I think one thing felt so right about the show, and it only works in the context of that Universe.

Walt. Wins.

And that's the only way the show could have ended.

Breaking Bad, for all the nit-picky things people will detail over the next few days, is a perfect show. Long, in-depth character studies. Creative uses of long-cliched tropes. A story that works for one-time viewers and obsessives alike. But the tone, the humanity of the show; it's an amazing combination of writing, acting, music, and self-awareness.

It was a fantastic run, a memorable experience, and--what other word is there--perfect ending. I suspect, someday, a show will be better than Breaking Bad. I can't imaging how that will be and I hope I live to watch it, but for now Breaking Bad is, without a doubt, the best television in a generation.

Site moving, new URL

After years of neglect, this site and blog will be moving to Blogger. The youknowwhatpart.com URL will expire or be sold and all posts have been migrated to http://youknowwhatpart.blogspot.com/. Please update your bookmarks, RSS feeds, carrier pigeons and indentured servants^H^H^H unpaid interns.

 

Update: Nevermind

The Storm - Part 2

So, it's still cancer. It's also very, very advanced. An ultrasound and additional X-rays show an advanced lesion on the liver, several lesions on the spleen, and aggressive metastasis in the lungs. Effectively, any treatment at this point is palliative; there's no cure beyond miraculous responses to off-label drugs. The oncologist couched Froggie's remaining time as a month.

So, we'll lose him before my birthday in late August. He'll get to stay in his house until the end and not have to deal with selling this house and moving. But he's 8 and his passing is way, way too soon. Here's The Dude through the years:
A photo from the foster parents, a few months before we adopted him

 A couple weeks after we adopted him, camping in St. Ignace, MI

Home, watching someone go upstairs (he learned to climb soon after)

A recent photo after a haircut

The Storm

So, it's cancer.

In typically-clinical language, the radiologist's report stated "CONCLUSIONS: severe generalized reticulo-nodular miliary lung pattern is concerning for diffuse pulmonary metastatic disease from unknown primary tumor."

Basically, cancer has spread to the entirety of both lungs from an unknown source. There's a mass in one lung that may be the source, but is likely a confluence of smaller masses into one larger mass. Strangely, his blood work is, medically, unremarkable. In the absence of imaging, he's healthy. He's not particularly struggling either, but he's 'off', as they say.

So, now, we're going to MSU's Veterinary Oncology Center for a consultation. If they can find the original mass, that may provide some options for treatment. But, I think at this point, we're really looking at pain management, barring an extremely fortuitous diagnosis.

Sidenote: based on imaging, there's an extremely small chance this is a really bad fungal infection. It's rare in dogs, but consistant with the evidence so far. I'm not a betting man and certainly not religious, but I'm superstitious enough to cross my fingers a few times for that option.

He's a trooper, a soldier, and isn't showing much concern for his condition. He hates the vet, but marches through appointments because we ask him too. For now, we have some time with him and he with us and we plan to make the most of it.

Me and Froggie, 2 July 2013. He hates the camera.


The Best Photo I Ever Took (Biased Edition)

Froggie as a pup on the beach in St Ignace

The Calm Before the Storm

About four feet behind me, a dog named Froggie lies in his crate, door ajar, struggling to breathe. He's on a hundred milligrams of one drug and more of another. The X-ray of his rib cage looked like, quoting our veterinarian here, "popcorn". Basically, it's cancer. Tomorrow we'll get a call from her, while she's travelling, to either confirm that diagnosis or not.

Froggie after his most recent haircut, June 2013
Last night as we were cleaning up after painting our dining and living room (we know how to take vacations), he coughed up a Cup of phlegm-mixed-with-blood. It was shocking to say the least. He seemed off most of the day, but he spent it outside away from paint and fumes. We took him to the ER; he had some inflammation, but ate alright and seemed ok. We took home benadryl so he could sleep figuring he'd eaten a wasp or bee (he loves to snap at them).

About six weeks ago, he'd gone to the ER vet after becoming lethargic and simply not moving on his own. We were on a three-day trip to see my family cross-state and J--'s parents were both kind enough to take him for us and caring enough that the vet still remembers them. He got some minor drugs and sent home, chalked up to dehydration (it was very hot), maybe eating a toad (not out of the realm of possibility). He got many hugs and treats when we returned, but otherwise bounced back in a couple days.

This morning, he coughed up more. We called and made an appointment for today, our vet was still in the office thankfully.

He's coughing up stuff regularly now, although the volume has gone down, hopefully due to the drugs. But when he gets excited, he struggles to breathe, like a cat constantly trying to hork up a hairball. He gets excited pretty easily.

Froggie is 8, hardly old for a hound/terrier mix. We always joke that he's a little man in a dog suit; his eyes are piercing and his mind is sharp, sometimes a bit too much so. He fears the big cat, adores the little one, and tries to hide both facts from J-- and me.

He's a total ham.

What's a curtain?
He's also, at his core, a loyal and faithful dog. It is truly difficult to describe the fierce and total loyalty a dog dedicates to an owner. Yes, he's a huge responsibility, but he's also a member of the house and he takes his job (and it is a job to him) with a seriousness not seen outside canines.

Tomorrow, we likely find out if a member of our family will leave us sooner than we'd imagined. Having a pet always comes with the promise of having to lose them, no matter how long we live. What's hard is when a wonderful creature, full of life and eager to take that next walk, unable to comprehend the reasons behind his own suffering or mortality, looks to you with confusion in his eyes and the only potentially-real option is to stop his suffering before it starts.

My selfishness will not make him linger or suffer, but my sorrow at having to make such a decision stabs in my throat and makes me weep. I fear more tears are coming. For now, it is hard to proof words on the screen through misting eyes.

He's finally asleep, his breathing has stopped being staccato rattles. I hope he dreams of finally catching that squirrel. I hope he dreams and smiles.

In Memoriam: Marlene Vis

Marlene Vis, my aunt, passed away this past Saturday, aged 63, loosing a prolonged battle with cancer. I know it's trite to say that cancer patients "fight" their disease, but if anyone had, she did. Sent to hospice twice, she beat the odds to live more than a year longer than the most optimistic projections. She was--is--one of the strongest people I've ever met.

Marlene is survived by her mother, her husband, her two children, four grandchildren, and hard-to-count numbers of nieces, nephews, great-level relations, and friends. To say she had a wide-reaching impact on the community would be an understatement; I think a large swath of Byron Center shut down for her funeral.

Of my relations, Marlene was special. She was friends with my mother for more than five decades. My cousins were near the age of me and my brother and more than friends for years. In the small area in which we grew up, they were secondary family in significant ways.

My fondest memory of her is a Tiger's baseball game in the post-'84 seasons. The extended family (dozens of us) would venture all the way across the state to DEEtroit to see a Tigers game. It was an event of epic proportions for us in the late 80's. Marlene and I sat next to each other (I was the Cute Nephew), but had Obstructed Seating. In Tiger's Stadium, that meant we had a big-ass kind-of-painted-blue steal beam blocking out a majority of the field.

But not the pitcher's mound. Oh no, that we could see just fine. And so we shouted at every pitch, howled at every K, and taunted every Ball. And, god help him, when Willie Hernandez (aka Whiplash Willie) strode to the mound, he must have heard every invective hurled at him from our two seats.

That memory is nearly 30 years old today. It's my most precious memory of her and one I choose to hold onto. I know that people change and that the aunt I lost this week is not the same person who shouted at a relief pitcher at Trumbell and Michigan.  But that's the person I miss most; the infectious laugh, the force of nature who dared you to enjoy yourself.

I hope you've found peace and freedom from your pain, Aunt Marlene. Few have earned it more than you. We already miss you.

Twitter has pushed me too far

Inspired by Matt Haughey's stand against Twitter , I re-logged into Mastodon on all my devices and shelved my Twitter access. I haven&#...