Thursday, November 20, 2008

Epic fail

I'm a devoted fan of fiction author Ken Follett. Something that's distinctive about Follett's writing is that his villains are very well drawn, their perspective is clearly outlined, and Follett does a good job of establishing what motivates them. So after setting up the villain as a terrible person over a period of years in the story, this perspective often helps to create a moment of great enjoyment at the end of the book, when the villain receives exactly the punishment that he fears the most, and sees all of his plans fail in the most catastrophic way possible.

I was reminded of the "epic failure" moment for a Ken Follett villain as I watched this video.

As I see it, the character of "George W. Bush" is driven by a desire to be respected and feared. We in the reality-based community have been dismissed for years as irrelevant, because while we pay attention to things like "facts," team Bush has believed themselves to be above such mundanities. They believed that the actions they took would fundamentally change the way the world works. They ridiculed the idea that we should care how the rest of the world perceives us, because they will be judged in the light of history as having made brilliant steps towards saving mankind.

The conga line of humiliation shown in the video, I think, is a neat summary of where this has gotten us. The other leaders aren't acting angry, or scared of George Bush. They're just... not interested in him. He's a lame duck in every sense of the word. They're waiting to deal with Barack Obama, to see if he's capable of dragging America out of the mess that he got us into.

Yeah, history will judge us all right... let the first few paragraphs be written now.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Song of Ice and Fire TV series proceeding

w00t! w00t! w00t!!

Excellent book series is about to become an excellent TV miniseries. This one has been in the works for a long time, of course, but this is the first confirmation that they're actually filming it now.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

RIP Michael Crichton

Best-selling author Michael Crichton dies

U.S. best-selling author Michael Crichton, who wrote such novels as "The Andromeda Strain" and "Jurassic Park," and created the popular TV drama "ER," has died at 66, his family said Wednesday.

Crichton, a medical doctor turned novelist whose books have sold more than 150 million copies worldwide, died "unexpectedly" Tuesday in Los Angeles after a private battle with cancer, his family said.

I was saddened by what I saw as a slow descent into hackdom in later years, but I went through a pretty substantial Crichton phase and enjoyed the hell out of many of his books. Here are the ones I've read, with the ones I really liked marked with a star:

  • A Case of Need (*)
  • The Terminal Man
  • Jurassic Park (*)
  • Rising Sun (*)
  • Disclosure (*)
  • The Lost World
  • Airframe
  • Timeline (*)
  • Prey (have to admit that I was put off by the awkward shift from a promising sci-fi theme to a straight-up zombie story)
  • State of Fear (first CD of an audio set, which I stopped listening to out of boredom, long before I noticed the political message)

A successful career and a sad loss. As in the case of Orson Scott Card, I wouldn't let some weird political beliefs overshadow the many excellent works he has done.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I take full credit

Last night at 8:46, a good friend instant messaged me, saying simply, "This is almost better than sex."

Yesterday morning I spent a couple of hours logging into and making about 50 phone banked calls from home to undecided voters in Florida and Minnesota. (I've encountered another brief patch of unemployment, but I'm interviewing like crazy so don't worry too much.) Obama won big in Florida and Minnesota. You're welcome. I also persuaded a friend to do the same for New Hampshire. Obama won big in New Hampshire. You're welcome again.

I am still suffering from severe cognitive dissonance at this point... I'm simply not used to presidential election nights being FUN. Right now I should be sweating, recovering from a near all-nighter, and obsessively clicking for more news about Ohio or Florida. Reaching further back in memory, even in the Clinton elections, my enjoyment was a bit marred by being surrounded by a bunch of complaining Republicans in my college residences. Last night, instead, I was hanging out with my sister and a good friend, gleefully running back and forth between the Daily Show / Colbert electionstravaganza, and my upstairs computer (my laptop chose last night to stop responding to wireless, although it's better now) to check on messages, emails, and live updating interactive maps. Getting or making calls several times an hour.

Just a few tiny clouds in the midst of all this silver lining: Republicans still hold enough seats in Congress to effectively filibuster legislation, and you bet they will. Al Franken, who was running the most important Senate race for me personally, is a bit behind at this time, and I have no faith in recounts delivering good news. And my friends in California are mourning the passing of gay marriage. For this year, anyway.

But even in the midst of all this... what a night! What a classy concession speech! What a killer acceptance speech! God Bless Jon and Stephen, every one!

It's too bad I don't smoke.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


I already reposted something long about voting on the Atheist Experience blog, so I'll keep this one to the point.

Have you voted yet?