Making Sense of It All

From the Double-Wide:

Dear Your Czarness:

With the “Guns of August” booming, your humble minion has done me some pondering. Not to brag, but I do believe I may have just come up with a “unified theory” for understanding the world around us. From my vantage point here at the Trailer-Park-at-the-Edge-of-Town, I submit for your noble consideration:

Exhibit A:

There have been over 1,900 Ukrainian civilians killed in the “recent unpleasantness” in eastern Ukraine. The pro-Russian rebels have shot down a commercial airliner, publicly paraded captured Ukrainian soldiers, and committed all manner of other abuses. Russia says that, yes, there are Russian citizens in eastern Ukraine, maybe even some off-duty soldiers, but hey, they’re on vacation. Those columns of tanks? Well, that’s sorta like when Bill Murray and Harold Ramis commandeered that pimped-out RV in Stripes, to take the gals on a trip to Bavaria, right? The Russian government thinks we should all chill and let the hilarity ensue.

Reaction from world media, important-European-capitals-we-like-to-visit, Barack Obama: collective yawn/ chirping crickets

Exhibit B:

Last Friday Hamas summarily and publicly executed around 18 of their fellow Palestinians. Hooded, and with hands tied, some were dragged to a park and shot, while others were displayed and shot outside a mosque. Gazans who witnessed these executions took lots of photos and video.

Reaction from world media, important-European-capitals-we-like-to-visit, Barack Obama: collective yawn/ chirping crickets

Exhibit C:

Israeli rockets kill some Palestinian civilians while retaliating against rockets fired from Gaza, a very densely populated city.

Reaction from world media, important-European-capitals-we-like-to-visit, Barack Obama: anti-Israeli demonstrations and graffiti [think: Juden Rauch] in important-European-capitals-we-like-to-visit, wrenching coverage of the civilian dead, denunciations, boycotts organized, calls for Israel to exercise restraint

Exhibit D:

In the aftermath of the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, much criticism has been aimed at the pale skin color of the mayor, police chief, most of the police force and 5/6 of the city council, unlike the town itself, which is +/-60% black. The assumption seems to be that African-Americans would never, ever vote for a white person. Therefore a white person in a position of power in a majority-black area must be simply illegitimate. So had the cop been black, would this never have made the news outside St. Louis?

Reaction from world media, important-European-capitals-we-like-to-visit, Barack Obama: denunciations from important-European-capitals-we-like-to-visit, wrenching coverage of the dead man’s family, calls for the police force to be demilitarized, Attorney General dispatched

My “unified theory” for understanding the world around us is, drum-roll, please: as long as anybody does bad/distasteful/unpleasant things to people like them, it’s all good; however, if bad/distasteful/unpleasant things are done to people unlike them, well now, let me be clear, that will not be tolerated.

Try this thought exercise: Russia can invade/occupy/mistreat fellow pale Slavic-speakers, but imagine if they invaded/occupied….oh, say, South Africa? Can we say poor optics?

Or imagine Israel conducting public executions of hooded Palestinians in Jerusalem. The world, rightly, would be outraged. But Hamas is not held to any such standard?

Well, Your Czarness, what say you?

Yours from the Doublewide,
JAB

Well, your theory is consistent with those facts. But allow us to offer a counter theory.

Russia invades Ukraine. That’s a hard problem because it would be real work—including the deaths of Western Europeans—to solve it. Best leave it alone and see if those stupid Slavs can sort it out themselves.

Hamas and Israel? Well, that’s also a tough one to solve. If only we could make Israel go away, that part of the world will probably sort itself out and stop killing everyone.

Ferguson? Now, here we go! Baby Boomers understand how to deal with out-of-control cops in Selma Birmingham Ferguson! What this calls for is a community organizer! Now you can see Obama in action! Chills! Spills!

Basically, Obama is following the lead of the rest of the world: we’re too stupid and inept to do much about these bad guys, so leave them be. But anything that smacks of ’60s and ’70s radicalism, and they’re all over it.

Or more fundamentally, liberalism is incredibly lazy and unwilling to tackle anything that requires real brains.

Fatal Errors

Anytime a news-worthy shooting event occurs, the anti-gun crowd is positively orgasmic over the chance to have yet another national conversation nobody wants to have with them. Tragically, as you have heard by now, a 9-year-old girl in Arizona shot and killed a shooting instructor when she lost control over an automatic weapon.

The anti-gun extreme minority was quick to leap on this story, claiming that children should not be allowed to have any access to firearms under any circumstances. This knee-jerk reflex reaction has nothing knee-jerk about it: gun control whackjobs have always kept that claim at the top of their strategic angles because keeping kids away from guns is one of the best forms of gun control overall: if kids have no experience with firearms, they have no interest in shooting as adults. Keep the kids away, and you make it much easier to outlaw guns in a couple of decades.

Fortunately, this isn’t working for them. Membership in shooting sports is up across the board, and the demographic group showing the greatest enthusiasm in taking up shooting are women. Allegedly, the number of women involved in recreational shooting—based on hunting licenses, gun purchases, memberships at ranges, registrations in skeet, trap, or other events—is up anywhere from 25% to 33%. And among women, the age group showing the fastest increase are women over 40.

No kidding: at the Czar’s local gun range—to pull an anecdote from only one location—there are definitely more women there. In fact, there appears to be at least one or two women every time the Czar has gone. The store even has women (plural!) employed there to meet demand. The Czar has heard identical anecdotes from acquaintances, and doubtless our readers will write in with similar observations.

Unlike most of the media types reporting on this story, the Czar has two aspects that make him far more qualified to comment on what happened: he has taught kids younger than the now traumatized girl to shoot responsibly, and he has fired automatic weapons of various kinds.

The youngest person the Czar has taught to fire a weapon was his then-6-year-old Царевич, who has since fired a variety of different things. The Czar has also introduced countless other youngsters well into their teens to careful, sensible safe shooting.

A lot of people have. And they have generally criticized the video of the shooting for what, ultimately, was poor safety. The criticisms—and the Czar’s thoughts—run along these lines:

  • “He should not have been standing next to her, but behind her.”—Agreed. When the Czar introduces youngsters to that first trigger pull, he stands behind the kid and holds and steadies the arms to ensure they are pointing safely and can control the recoil. He was standing much like he would behind an adult. This was error number one.
  • “He shouldn’t have given her an Uzi.”—Hmm. Not sure about that: the Uzi can be an easy weapon to fire for most people. The Czar agrees that you never start a brand-new shooter off with an Uzi, but we don’t know from the video whether this girls has had a lot of shooting experience. From some of his reminders to her, though, the Czar suspects she didn’t have a lot of experience with different weapons; if so, the Uzi was a bad choice.
  • “She shouldn’t have been firing fully automatic.”—Maybe not. There is no technical reason a 9-year-old couldn’t fire an automatic weapon, but the Czar will assure you that automatic weapons require very good understanding of how to grip, hold, and tuck into the weapon to steady it as it fires. It’s pretty clear—whether she has a lot of experience or not with guns—that firing fully automatic was new to her. And test firing one round first, as he did with her, does not equate to sufficient fundamental training. This is error number two in our book.
  • “Kids that young shouldn’t be given firearms.”—Children have their constitutional rights. And she wasn’t given an Uzi: she was issued one by a qualified instructor.
  • “These types of tourist ranges do not stress adequate safety.”—The Czar is not at all familiar with the location in question, but too often this claim is seen elsewhere. The tourist range is designed to give ordinary folks—those without ready access to legal firearms, perhaps—the chance to shoot automatic weapons. As a result, these highly profitable ranges see waves of tourists in from all over the world, including Americans who just want to shoot a lot of bullets really fast. Even Piers Morgan has done it. And yes, sometimes, these ranges are more interested in getting you up, shooting your ammunition empty, and then out the door. Again, we have no idea what sort of range this is: perhaps they are extremely strict on safety. But

So what we see is a sweet New Jersey girl, on vacation, who will probably never go near a firearm again. Whether the victim—Mr. Vacca—was a brilliant instructor is beside the point: his role was to bring a youngster into the world of safe, responsible shooting, and he failed to do that. That’s as much as the Czar will blame the victim.

The Czar points out the instructor’s fatal errors herein.

Like all horrifying tragedies, a lot more than one thing went wrong here. It took a sequence of mistakes to result in the tragedy. And look at what the picture shows, a split-second before the gun fires:

  1. A right-handed shooter firing a top-heavy automatic weapon will usually experience the gun climbing up and to the left. Look where he put his head. As stated above, he should be behind her.
  2. His left hand is on her right forearm, and his right hand is on her back. He’s basically pulling her upper body toward himself. Again, he should be behind her, with one hand on her left shoulder and a right hand on her right elbow. This way he can steer her back on target.
  3. Her stance is fine for a rifle: left foot forward, weight slightly back, and butt stock into the right shoulder. But this is an automatic weapon: although usage varies, there are two common approaches for firing a short-barreled weapon on full auto: right foot forward and tilting the right shoulder into the stock to push the weapon forward as it shoots. This compensates for the stuttering shock of the weapon and keeps it pointing downrange. The second approach is to tilt the upper body forward (not backward as shown) to balance the recoil. What you see here is basically a baseball batting stance. And which way would a batter swing the bat?

These are the errors that added together to create the tragedy. Now what would the Czar have done?

  1. Demonstrate by doing: you take a full magazine, load it in, and fire the whole thing off while she watches. Let her see how much smoke and noise comes out of it, and how fast it chews through ammunition.
  2. Position her correctly for the recoil. When pulling the trigger, the weapon is going to shake violently. Get her ready for that.
  3. Simulate what she’s going to experience on an empty weapon. Have her grip the weapon as if shooting it, and then shake the weapon realistically to reveal how much recoil she can expect. It ain’t like the movies. And if there are weaknesses in her stance, she’ll move her foot to reveal what they are. Any weaknesses in her grip will appear when she fumbles the weapon, and so on. It might not be as adrenaline-inducing fun, but it’ll inform her as to what to expect.
  4. Put three rounds in the magazine. Those three bullets will leave the barrel before her upper body even feels the recoil. If she’s going to swing the weapon your way, it will be empty when it happens.
  5. Stay behind her, and stay in control of her elbows and shoulders. Giver her a full magazine. If she starts to go off axis, you can twist her back on line. Obviously, Mr. Vacca intended to that from where he was standing, but even he evidently was not prepared for how fast an Uzi shoots.

This isn’t new. The military has been showing people how to fire weapons, and they’re often nowhere as smart as this 9-year-old New Jersey girl. And one thing the military usually does in its weapons instruction that’s very different than a commercial range? They don’t get casual about safety. Alas, Mr. Vacca got a little casual based on what’s evident in these pictures. And while you can usually tolerate one slip here and there about safety, tolerating three or four slips like this proved instantly fatal.

The National Conversation On Race No One Wants To Have (Except ‘Puter)

In contemplating the Ferguson disaster over the past two weeks, ‘Puter’s wondered if anything good will come from it. Pundits predictably called for yet another national conversation on race before Michael Brown’s body assumed room temperature. Media kept up its steady drumbeat even as store owners swept up the shattered glass looters left behind.

Each time there’s a tragedy in which a white person kills a black person, America is treated to our media betters wailing and gnashing their teeth, insisting on a national conversation on race. “If only we had had a national conversation on race! [INSERT NAME OF TRAGEDY HERE] never would have happened!”

But by “national conversation on race,” media doesn’t really mean we should have a respectful conversation about a difficult topic. Media means “forcing America to adopt liberal solutions that have consistently failed to resolve racial strife for more than 50 years.” ‘Puter’s seen this movie before, and it never ends well. Liberals and conservatives, blacks and whites, we each talk past the other, never really getting closer to solutions.

So, ‘Puter’s devised a new, improved method of discussing America’s current racial problems. It’s a two-parter, and divided according to race.*

Topic 1 (for whites): Criminal Justice and the Black Community

Assume the following to be true:

Blacks in America have undeniably been subject to decades if not centuries of oppression and discrimination at the hands of whites. As part of this systemic discrimination, white police forces and vigilantes were used to maintain and reinforce this system. Blacks have internalized this historic discrimination, and view the world as more hostile to them than to whites.

Today, blacks are incarcerated at a rate significantly higher than whites. Blacks’ sentences are disproportionate compared to whites’ sentences. Blacks are more likely to have a public defender. Blacks are stopped for the crime of “driving while black.” Blacks are generally viewed with greater suspicion by police and society at large. Blacks have internalized this treatment, and view the justice system as unfairly rigged against them.

Questions:

  • Are current policing policies exacerbating blacks’ beliefs about police and the criminal justice system? If so, how can American reform its policing to better accommodate these concerns without sacrificing community and officer safety?
  • If there are disparities between sentencing guidelines for similar crimes (e.g., possession of crack cocaine versus possession of powdered cocaine), is it reasonable and feasible to reform the guidelines so as to eliminate these disparities?

Topic 2 (for blacks): Black America’s Toxic Culture

Assume the following to be true:

Since the end of legal discrimination in America, coinciding with the rise of LBJ’s Great Society and our current welfare states, blacks in America have suffered greatly. Children are born into single parent homes at dangerous rates. Blacks are disproportionately on welfare. Blacks are disproportionately committers of crimes, and disproportionately victims of crimes.

Black culture disrespects women as “bitches” and “hos.” Black culture teaches men to behave as thugs. Black culture glorifies violence. Black culture embraces promiscuity, absentee fathers. Black culture vilifies education as “white.” Black culture accepts government dependence. Black culture punishes cooperation with police.

Questions:

  • Is a culture that treats police as the enemy setting up unnecessary confrontations that could otherwise be avoided, or at least minimized?
  • Is a culture that shuns education going to better itself, or will it result in generation after generation of failed men and women?
  • Has glorification and acceptance of violence made the black community better than it was?
  • Is depending on government’s meager handouts the best way to teach children to be self-sufficient?

These are only starter questions, for both blacks and whites. In order for race relations to get better in American, both whites and blacks must confront difficult truths, acknowledge each other’s good faith and work together to build trust. Hopefully, acknowledging our flaws and discussing them honestly and openly with others from a different race will enable America to break this never-ending cycle of tragedy.

Plus, if we succeed, we get rid of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, which benefits all humanity.

* Yeah, ‘Puter’s racist. Shut up already, media. Any conversation on race is necessarily going to involve discussion of a race’s differing view of the same set of facts, and it’s likely to get testy and uncomfortable. You’re the ones who asked for the conversation, not ‘Puter.

Infographic – Pennywise, Demographic Foolish

Gentle Readers,

Before one of you gets all #waronwimmen on Dr. J. let him state, for the sake of full disclosure that his great-grandmother and grandmother died of breast cancer. His aunt ultimately died of complications from treatment for breast cancer (which was ‘cured’ for the record), and his mother was diagnosed with lobular carcinoma in situ which is essentially pre-breast cancer when he was a 3rd grader, and is alive to this very day.

That being said, Dr. J. tends to spend more time working with hearts and blood vessels than with tumors, so he finds delicious irony in this infographic.

Donating.vs.Death-Graph.0

Simply stated, some diseases have better marketing than others. To this day, more women believe that breast cancer is the #1 killer of women (hint, it isn’t), lack of access to reproductive justice™ is.

Just kidding, heart disease is.

Nevertheless, take a gander at this infographic from Vox.com. The folks that Dr. J. feels worst for are the COPD’ers. Christmas Seals aren’t what they used to be. Maybe they need to get Sarah McLachlan and a few abandoned puppies onto their advertisements…

 

 

The Islamic State Is Evil. Now Even Our Media Gets It.

The media are shocked that a group that shoots people along roadside ditches may not be friendly to their interests. And here liberals thought only the US military did stuff like this.

The utterly stupid and horrifying execution of journalist James Foley is, with due respect for his family and friends, only another example of how terrible the Islamic State is. But the Czar noticed that every news agency was talking about it this morning, often at great length.

The Islamic State is an evil beyond description. Frankly, our world has not seen anything like this in a while. Most of us will be forgiven for thinking of the Nazis, or Pol Pot, or other widespread organizers of terror and executions. But this sort of evil hasn’t been seen since the Dark Ages, when monstrous men with evil ideals roamed through entire lands, slaughtering, beheading, and terrorizing entire communities: men, women, and children all indiscriminately butchered out of a group psychosis. Nazis and communists—evil to an extreme—killed people amid an Us Versus Them mentality. You were either wearing our uniform, or you were shot and killed.

But the Islamic State isn’t even this mentally organized. They see everyone as vermin to be exterminated: they take joy in crucifying or beheading or raping other people—even those ostensibly on their side. The Islamic State, let us not forget, is happily destroying Muslims as well as non-Muslims. Not because the Muslims might oppose the Islamic State’s goals for a world caliphate, but because they are merely in the way.

The Islamic State’s obscene ability to ignore the fundamental humanity around them has been recognized by millions around the globe. Just not our news media, who have spent the last few months discussing Ferguson, Israel, Russia, and anything but.

Theories may abound as to why, and most of them have some degree of merit. The President campaigned heavily—and it seems successfully to some degree—on his ability to have destroyed al-Qāʿidah in contrast to George W. Bush’s apparent inability to find one man living in a suburban hideaway. President Obama compared the Islamic State to junior varsity team, and he and others echoed the notion—although history has never backed up such a claim—that merely discussing them elevates them in undeserved prestige. In other words, if you ignore them, they go away.

The Czar has often compared the news media to a 14-year-old narcissist. Ultimately, everything must be about them, or it ceases to exist. When a celebrity dies, the eulogies become anecdotes by the talking head of having met the celebrity and being inspired. When a tragedy happens, the focus becomes its affects on those in journalism. When a news channel talks for too long about a missing airliner, the story eventually becomes about how that news channel has been talking too long about a missing airliner.

Unfortunately and sadly, now the media has been affected by the Islamic State. One of their own was brutally killed on video in a terrible and humilating way. Not because he was mistaken to be an enemy. Not because he uncovered something that would prove disastrous to their cause. Not even because he resisted or tried to escape. They killed him not because of who James Foley was: they killed James Foley because this is what they do.

Up until now, the Islamic State was just something happening “over there,” and perhaps 30 seconds a night could be a mention of some group you never heard of that’s stuck on some mountain somewhere thanks to these guys. And the President has finally authorized some bombing runs.

Now, the media is angry and hurt and astonished. All it took was making it about them.

So screw you, media. You should have been paying attention. Now you will: already the media has done a head count and discovered there are more journalists in their capture who are slated to be gruesomely slaughtered on video.

Of course, this means the President is going to feel this one even worse. The media will begin, if they have not already begun, asking why the President is focused on such a minor-scale skirmish like Ferguson, Missouri, when this terrible humanitarian nightmare is going on with the Islamic State. Watch and see.

Alas, for a President already besieged by the reality of, well, reality, he will be forced to take on two responsibilities at once. He hates that. Once again, he will have to choose between the fight he wanted—Ferguson, with all its community organizing claptrap—and the fight the media want him to address.

If you are still following historical precedent, you already know the President has a disastrous track record in these situations.

Ferguson: Proof of America’s Rapidly Hardening Political Divide

‘Puter’s waited until now to weigh in on the mess in Ferguson, Missouri. ‘Puter had hoped that a bit of distance between a white police officer’s shooting of an unarmed young black man would enable cooler heads to prevail. However, America’s polarized politics and being what they are, no such luck.

Here’s ‘Puter’s take on the asshattery that is Ferguson, which overlaps a bit with Czar’s thoughts below.

  • No one except the cop and the deceased knows with any certainty what occurred in the fateful minutes before and during the shooting. Anyone claiming otherwise is a moron.
  • Brown’s alleged robbery of a liquor store minutes before his death may not be legally relevant, but it is certainly relevant to the narrative. Specifically, media had begun to fashion a narrative that Brown was a “gentle giant” and college student who wouldn’t harm a fly. The videotape showed media for the biased hacks they are.
  • Similarly, the disclosure that Brown, whose loot from the alleged liquor store robbery included a box of blunts, had marijuana in his system is relevant. It’s relevant to disprove the preferred narrative media had been carefully shaping. It’s irrelevant as to whether or not Brown’s shooting is justified. Simply because someone may or may not have been stoned at the time of one’s shooting doesn’t make the shooting more or less justified.
  • Concerns about overly militarized police forces are legitimate, particularly in small to middling towns. MRAPs may be necessary in New York and Los Angeles, but ‘Puter’s fairly certain Ferguson doesn’t need them. If Ferguson needs MRAPs, nearby St. Louis can oblige, or even the national guard.
  • Americans are no longer able to exercise skepticism and rationality, as proven by the immediate retreat to their favored narratives. On the Left, we immediately heard “Racism!” On the right, “Criminals get shot!” Not all people reacted in this manner, but far too many did.
  • Social media has affected traditional media’s ability to control a narrative, which is a good thing. In this case, however, social media got facts wrong (repeatedly), continues to repeat discredited “facts,” and allows anonymous inflammatory comments. Like most technology, social media is a blessing and a curse, and which of these it is depends on the user wielding it.
  • Brown’s shooting death and the subsequent riots are two separate issues. That is, whether or not the shooting was justified does has no bearing on the legitimacy of the riots and looting. If Brown’s shooting was not justified, the cop should spend his life in prison. If the Brown shooting was justified, the cop should go free with apologies from all who have leaped to conclusions. In either case, riots are not acceptable responses.
  • It is one of government’s first jobs to maintain and enforce rule of law. Riots are a direct threat to that rule of law, and undermine the foundation of our society. As such, rioters should be dealt with as what they are: enemies of the state. Rioters who refuse orders to disperse immediately should be shot on sight.
  • Rioters are morons in that they destroy valuable goods and services in their own community, making such goods and services either unavailable or higher priced in order to account for the increased risk of providing goods and services to a riot prone community.
  • The Ferguson rioters are Exhibit A for the Second Amendment’s continuing necessity. Cops are unable to be everywhere at once, and even when present in Ferguson, cops refused to stop the looting. In times of strife such as those in Ferguson, it is essential that Americans be able to defend themselves and their families with deadly force.
  • America’s professional race-baiting hucksters (e.g., Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson) barged into a volatile situation and made it worse than it had to be, all for the sake of personal enrichment. For that alone, may they rot in Hell.
  • Ferguson has shown Obama’s Administration to be what it is, a paper tiger feared by no one, dedicated to prolonging America’s racial divisions by inserting itself unnecessarily into a controversy that is Missouri’s sole responsibility. If you don’t believe ‘Puter, note that Missouri governor Jay Nixon (a Democrat) didn’t even feel the need to tell President Obama (another Democrat) that he was deploying the national guard in Ferguson. That’s a display of contempt by Nixon for Obama, a weak leader.

So, where do ‘Puter’s thoughts leave us?

‘Puter finds himself in just about the same place as he started. ‘Puter doesn’t yet have sufficient information to determine whether or not the cop’s shooting of Michael Brown was justified. ‘Puter’s going to continue to wait for the facts to come in, and then he’ll make an informed decision.

 

Sci Fi Interoffice Memo

GorT received the following interoffice memo from Dr. J regarding the Science Fiction TV show countdown:


GorT,
I’ve enjoyed your commentary on the top 50 Sci-Fi shows as ranked by people other than us.I’d like to share a few of my own musings.

49. Land of the Lost – When Enik discovered that this was his future, not his past…mind blown. Dr. J.’s first celeb crush was Holly. She looked like Karen, the girl next door. Dr. J. was 3 at the time.

45. Knight Rider – The show got off to a good start. But it got repetitive quickly (i.e. after one season) as there are only so many small towns like the one in Roadhouse, where Michael and KITT need to topple ‘Big Daddy’ from his perch. Also, for an indestructible car, KITT had a track record like an ’87 Jaguar.

43. Space: Above and Beyond – This was actually a really good show that lasted one season, that didn’t get the credit it deserved, largely due to a crappy time slot.

41. Battle of the Planets – This was destination television for Dr. J. While it was sanitized for American consumption, Dr. J. always suspected there was something up with Zoltar. Turns out he was a hermaprodite shape shifter (he kept shifting between a man and a woman), and 7-Zark-7 narrating out some of the more PG elements. Nevertheless, Dr. J. loved it. He’s probably going to purchase the DVDs of Gatchaman when he clears out his Apple TV cue.

37. Twin Peaks – Great first season, not so great second season, truly disturbing series finale.

36. Buck Rogers: Campy fun. Dr. J. agrees with GorT that the first season was better than the second. The second season wasn’t as bad as folks say. It wasn’t Galactica 1980 or the Gary Coleman episodes from the first season, sheesh! Dr. J. sent Gil Girard a fan letter as a third grade assignment (write a fan mail letter in ‘business letter format’) and he (his publicists) sent back an autographed picture and letter. So, Dr. J.’s got a soft spot for Gil.

33. Alien Nation – Dr. J.’d tune in as a kid on Saturday’s at 3PM, killing time before the 5PM mass.

32. Star Trek: Voyager – Worst Star Trek Ever – Dr. J. didn’t last through season 3.

31. Lost in Space – Dr. J. enjoyed it. Angela Cartright (Penny) was his second celebrity crush. He always found the Dr. Smith, Will Robinson relationship a little creepy.

30. Battlestar Galactica (1978) – Dr. J. loved this show. Yes it’s light, but what do you expect from Glen A. Larson? Again, he was a wee tot when he was tuning in. While the production value and drama of its successor were better. This show is still watchable (except for the one or two western themed episodes). Dr. J.’s favorite episodes were the War of the Gods two parter with Patrick Macnee chewing up the scenery as Mephistopheles. Battlestar Galactica 1980 was utter garbage, except for the Return of Starbuck episode.

21. Dr. J.’s never seen the series finale, and wishes he did. Other than that it was fantastic stuff, especially the Leap Home episode.

20. Star Blazers – Dr. J’s talked about this before (http://www.gormogons.com/index.php/2012/04/in-which-dr-j-considers-learning/). During his youth, when it was on in the summer (2:30) all the boys in the neighborhood would go inside, watch the show at their respective homes and come back outside, talk about the show for an additional 30 minutes and then resume whatever we were doing (usually baseball) until dinner. Iscandar and Gamilon binary planets? Wow. This was probably some of the best Sci-Fi Dr.J. enjoyed during his childhood. Dr. J.’s since watched the movie remake, which was spectacular, except that the Gamilas and Iscandarians were non-corporeal entities, which was a little odd to him, but he suspects that otherwise it would have been a budget buster. Nevertheless, the film was faithful to the original in spirit, when not in fact. It is definitely worth watching if you get a chance. Be warned, the characters do not have their ‘Star Blazer names.’ So do a little google research to get the names straight.

19. Babylon 5 – Like Star Blazers, should be much higher on the list. The show is vastly underrated, probably because the first season is a bit slow, and because the show spent its first 4 seasons in syndication, so it had neither street-cred, nor as large an audience as it deserved. What was great about this show is that it had a beginning, middle and end. The 4th and 5th seasons were crammed into the fourth season because of impending cancellation. TNT rescued it, resulting in a 5th season that was more of a denouement and platform for the future than anything else. The sequel series didn’t have the mojo, largely due to Turner Network interference with J. Michael Strazinsky (JMS)’s vision. Dr. J. recently rewatched seasons 1-4 and they still hold up as some of the best television writing. JMS even left several trap doors for characters to be written out if need be. It looks like a movie is in pre-production as well. We shall see how that pans out.

16. Star Trek: Deep Space 9: This was actually Dr. J.’s favorite modern trek. Probably because it shows the dirty underbelly of the Starfleet/United Federation of Planets Utopia. Dr. J. has long been fascinated with the utopian/dystopian science fiction, and DS9, again, showed that Utopian societies are tragically flawed, especially as they cannot own up to price for their utopianism. When Starfleet and the whole Alpha Quadrant was threatened by a Gamma Quadrant empire who they bumped up against due to a stable wormhole near DS9, it showed how dirty and corrupt Starfleet was willing to be keep the peace. Section 31 was introduced during this era, and it showed Roddenberry’s vision to be idealistic prattling. While it should also be higher on the list, it wasn’t as good as B5.

Dr. J. looks forward to the top 15, and assumes that while it hasn’t been listed yet, The Powers of Matthew Star isn’t in the top 15, but rather hasn’t made the cut.

14. Stargate SG-1 – Meh

13. V. – The mini-series was appointment television for Dr. J. , the Jane Badler’s Diana spooked the crap out of a young Dr. J., as did the partial lizard faces underneath ripped off latex. Indeed, even V, The Final Battle was pretty bad ass until the end (Pretaynama much?). Dr. J. never got into the television series, despite Lane Smith’s outstanding work.

11. Firefly – Dr. J. loves him some Joss Whedon and was quite the Buffy/Angel devotee. He never got into Firefly, however. This is probably because he never thought much of characters played by Nathan Fillion, probably given that he was lousy in the last season of Buffy.

10. The Outer Limits – Dr. J. spent many nights (either due to insomnia, or night feedings of the Lil Resident and Lil Medstudent) watching the fin de siecle update in reruns. Not quite the Twilight Zone, but still good stuff.

6. Star Trek TOS – Dr. J.’s earliest memories are watching this with Papa J. His favorite episode from childhood is ‘Let That Be Your Last Battlefield.’ That was the one with Frank Gorshin who is half black, half white (like a NY Deli cookie) and he’s pursuing a criminal that’s half white, half black. A little over the top in re-viewing, but still good stuff.

5. – The Twilight Zone – Always good for a pitstop during a Sci-Fi channel marathon. Dr. J. loves finding celebs ‘before they were famous’ on this show.

4. Battlestar Galactica – The Galactic jumping into a free-fall in the atmosphere above New Caprica…probably the ballsiest move on any show on this list. So say we all, mother-f’ers!

3. Star Trek TNG – Dr. J. doesn’t think it deserves number 3 (above TOS and DS9) it was still a great show. Dr. J. took greater pleasure enjoying watching the hypocrisy and dirty underbelly needed to maintain the Progressive Utopia than Utopia itself. The Enterprise-D is the progressive elite at their finest. Pure projection of how the left sees itself.

2. The X-Files – Dr. J. liked it early on, and eventually it lost its footing. “Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space.’” which was a satire of the the show, was probably its most brilliant episode. Charles Nelson Reilly, Jesse Ventura and Alex Trebek were brilliant.

1. Doctor Who – Probably Dr. J.’s favorite Sci-Fi show on TV, even when it’s lousy. He does not disagree with this assessment.

Temper Tantrums

The untold story of the Ferguson tragedy is that it makes libertarians look not crazy.

Really, one of the structural problems with the tragedy is that two worlds of fanatical leftism have collided, and neither side is right because both sides started out wrong.

Daddy says go to your room or he’ll use his Armalite on you.

First, you have the liberal police state taking root in even a hometown community like Ferguson, Missouri. Remember, the Czar likes cops. They’re almost invariably really good guys, and the percentage of “bad cops” versus the good ones is a shade smaller than the percentage of bad people versus good people. You can check into it.

But the Czar is not a fan of paramilitary law enforcement. It’s bad enough the DEA is so well armed, but so is the IRS, the Social Securityy Administration, and dare we add the Department of Education.* It should be no surprise to us, then, that Main Street, Ferguson, sees snipers, body armor, and MRAPs.

Liberals like the government armed, and as government gets bigger, we can expect to see more of it armed. Indeed, there will always be accidental shootings: a lone cop, a gloomy night, a flash of light in a kid’s hand—and a nervous police officer draws and fires. Truth be told, there will always be negligent discharges: a cop drawing a weapon at the range shot herself in the leg because her finger slipped inside the trigger guard as she was drawing a pistol from the holster.

But the biggest, most offensive tragedies seem to happen when cops are not doing their job but doing someone else’s job: the SWAT team that shoots the dog in front of the kids, the pedestrian shot by an undercover officer in part of a neighborhood-wide sting operation, the multigun shootout after a car chase. It isn’t that we don’t need SWAT teams, undercover operations, or vehicular pursuit—we too often do. It’s just that the worst events seem to happen when large group of cops are acting as a militarized platoon. And let’s face it—cops are not soldiers. They aren’t trained the same way, they don’t operate the same way, and if we are being honest, there’s a ton of anecdotal evidence that people with lots of active military experience make for bad cops. The two worlds are not the same, and just as we see soldiers making poor cops, so too do we see cops making really lousy soldiers.

But let’s look at Ferguson. The Czar will not comment on whether the officer in question was justified in his shooting—basically, we have no reliable evidence either way. And we are not claiming that Michael Brown was shot as a result of some undercover operation. But the community became upset, and the immediate response was to send in paramilitary units. Little Ferguson, Missouri, suddenly found itself looking too much like Sarajevo, 1993, for the Czar’s taste.

The leftist reflex for control almost always results in guns, and lots of them, pointed at the wrong people.

But stop—this is where things get weird.

Because the flip side of this is the leftist entitlement mentality. A community is shocked that a teenager is shot and killed by the police—and there are copious stories of the black community feeling themselves unfairly targeted by local police. There is a demand for justice, as would reasonably be expected, and a police chief admits there needs to be some serious, careful investigation to determine what really happened.

Baby wants his 40 ouncers because baby wants what baby wants! Now gimme gimme gimme!

And the leftist entitlement mentality’s immediate response is to start smashing windows, torching stores, and looting belongings. Natural disaster? Response to a totalitarian regime? Civil war? None of these things—in fact, the odds are high that most of the most violent looting was committed by people who neither knew victim Michael Brown nor even cared that he was shot. This was an opportunity to steal shit and get away with it.

Social justice, they will tell themselves—a racist dog whistle if there ever was one for “getting other people’s stuff for nothing.” No, you know what? We owe it to ourselves to steal and loot and rob.

And burn down some businesses. If history is any guide, the businesses torched first were not symbolic of racial oppression or intended to Hurt the Man. They were the ones owned by Asians. Or they were not doing so well financially and were heavily insured. Funny that.

Why not? The Left mentality has always been about Mommy and Daddy. Don’t get your way? Throw a temper tantrum! Stomp your feet, scream and scream! Post angry Facebook rants! Burn down some stores! Steal a flat panel display!

And Mommy and Daddy overreact. Ground them! Smack them! Send them to their room for the next fifty years without supper! How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat? Send in the MRAPs and black knights in armor with .50 caliber Barretts! Flood the streets with troops! Is this parental overreaction not a temper tantrum of its own?

You know who gets really aroused by all this? The hippies. Desperate to relive every day of the 1960s and 1970s, they are seeing this as the King riots, 1968 Democratic convention, and Kent State overreaction all over again. They even have the soundtrack queued up. Moonbeam, honey, go down to the storage shed and get the clothes out of mothballs. We’re painting signs and going down to march on Ferguson.

What’s curious about that is really, the Left’s contradictory demand for total control and the Left reflex for rioting—both sides are no different, really, than Europe of the 1920s and 1930s—seems to defy co-existence. You can’t have both, can you? Well, you can in the nostalgia of the Boomer.

But like most Leftists, the Boomer seeks to recreate his fight against the Man, not realizing that when you parse out the players, they’re all the same person.

*Also note the National Weather Service needs .40 S&W JHP rounds. Yes, they need hollow points.

Science Fiction TV – Top 5

So, I’ve received some feedback from other Castle dwellers as well as some operatives and minions.  Always great to hear the opinions.  I’ll present the top 5 here and let folks digest.  Over the next few days, I’ll post up some of the opinions, once I sort and bucket* them appropriately.

Number 5: Twilight Zone

 The-Twilight-Zone-Intro-wide-560x282A classic.  Needs to be in the top 5.  It wasn’t super heavy on what most consider Science Fiction and leaned towards more thriller/chiller kind of story lines but I think in a broad sense of “science fiction” it more than meets the mark.  The lasting impression this show has made on pop culture and TV will be endless.

Number 4: Battlestar Galatica (2004-09)

 bsg1Also known as “BSG”.  GorT was addicted to this show.  DVR’ed it, streamed it, etc. just to keep up and roll through the episodes.  We held a viewing party at work over lunch to watch the latest episode at the time.  The attention to detail that largely goes unnoticed is a huge factor.  Details of how grimy, dirty and makeshift the Galactica becomes over time being removed from supply depots and their home planet.  It generated (or rebooted) language quirks that had viewers quoting it left and right.  One could probably argue that the finale was Lost-esque and a let-down, but after such a powerful set of seasons, it would be hard to wrap it up in any fashion.  Clearly a top 5.

Number 3: Star Trek: The Next Generation

 tng_castBah.  Here is my biggest objection on the list.  There is no way, even with how bad season 3 of the original series was, that this spin off should be better.  Aside from the silly jumpsuit uniforms the show, I thought, took a while to find its legs and then had plenty of bad episodes as well.  “Try and dislike [it]” – not hard.  Ok, dislike might be too strong.  GorT watched it fairly regularly.  But Majel Barrett as Lwaxana Troi – meh.  Jonathan Frakes’ Riker was played so stiffly that jokes abound.  The show was so overly politically correct and pitched the utopian society so hard that even when things had to happen to save it, they were minimal or minimized.  Blech.  Plus it set up the whole Rick Berman trashing of the Star Trek series.  It took a reboot movie by J.J. Abrams to really kick it up again.

Number 2: The X-Files

 scully_mulder_topYep – a classic.  GorT was a infrequent watcher of the show, largely due to other activities in his life at the time.  It didn’t rise to must-watch TV for him.  But plenty of others had it set as such.  It spawned two spin-offs and a movie – none of which rose to the level of the series, but they do lend credence to the ranking of this show.  One could argue that it also inspired others like Fringe and maybe were inspired by series like “Friday the 13th“.

Number 1: Doctor Who

 Versions_of_the_DoctorThe series spans 5 decades and continues to generate new fans each year.  It is unique in that the series incorporates a rebirth/relaunch/reboot into the storyline itself as the Doctor is renewed/regenerated in various likenesses.  The series is on its 12th Doctor and many debates rage within the Doctor Who fan base over who their favorite Doctor (and Companion) are.  With such a broad and loyal following and a heavy dose of science fiction, it’s hard to argue that this series deserves anything but the top ranking.

* Yes, GorT is a computer science nerd so I sort and bucket things…sometimes using MergeSort, QuickSort, ShellSort and my favorite, the RadixSort.

Science Fiction TV Numbers 10 – 6

Getting closer…I appreciate the mail and will be posting feedback and mail after the full list is up.

Number 10: The Outer Limits

 people_headI never really went back and watched The Outer Limits or its inspiration, The Twilight Zone, save for a few, classic episodes of each.  As Popular Mechanics’ list points out, this series was more edgy and in-your-face with the science fiction and shock factor.  I didn’t realize but am not surprised that the Harlan Ellison written episode of The Outer Limits is pretty close to the storyline of The Terminator to the point that Ellison sued John Cameron over it (and won an out of court settlement and a credit in the film).

Number 9: Fringe

 fringe-tv1Mr. and Mrs. GorT watched Fringe pretty regularly – we came late to the first season but then watched it progress.  We were a bit worried that it meandered from its initial, odd occurrence investigations into the alternate reality stuff, but it held together pretty well.  Some great intertwining plot lines, interesting characters and a dose of believable and stretch science fiction.  And I liked the whole “Massive Dynamic” corporation element.

Number 8: Neon Genesis Evangelion

 Neon004GorT has never heard of this one and as the article states, the US adoption of it has been small.  After what appears to be a catastrophic meteor event, half the world’s population is killed and the Earth tilts on its axis, leading to massive tsunamis and general mayhem. The series follows a young man who is recruited to fight the alien “Angels” monsters using giant robots/mechas named Evagelions.

Number 7: The Prisoner

 Prisoner_smSCORE!  GorT is a huge fan of The Prisoner. Patrick McGoohan stars as a secret agent who gets fed up with MI-6 (essentially) and decides to retire.  But he knows too much and is kidnapped and sent to “The Village” where everyone is known by a number.  He is number 6.  Those who run the Village employ various psychological tools and tricks to try to assess whether he is a risk and to keep him contained within the Village with, presumably, other spies and officials who know too much.  Huge weather balloons (rovers) chase down and return escapees with a 1960s creepy sound effect.  I am not a number.  I am a free man!

Number 6: Star Trek (the Original Series)

 star_trek_original_series_showPop Mech rates it at number 6 only because some of the episodes in season three are pretty weak.  It was a pioneering show in so many ways with its sense of optimism, future technology inspirations (cellphones, etc.) and the much touted first interracial kiss on TV.  It has spawned Star Trek TNG, Star Trek: DS9, Star Trek: Voyager, Enterprise, an animated Star Trek series (also one of GorT’s favorites as a child), many films in the series and inspired many others.  So many pop culture references have been made from it to the point that people use the term “warp speed” naturally.