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True Blue Door

Profile Information

Name: Brian
Gender: Male
Hometown: Southern California
Member since: Mon Oct 28, 2013, 05:48 PM
Number of posts: 2,969

About Me

Primary issue interests: Science, technology, history, infrastructure, restoring the public sector, and promoting a fair, honorable, optimistic, and inquisitive society. Personal interests: Science fiction (mainly literature, but also films and TV), pop culture, and humor.

Journal Archives

Famous Movies as Described by Republicans

1. The Hobbit

Socialist midgets steal the property of a Job Creator dragon.

2. Scrooge

A principled conservative businessman is terrorized by supernatural left-wing thugs into giving away his hard-earned money to welfare leeches.

3. Animal House

The tragic story of an idealistic young patriot, Douglas Niedermyer, tormented by lazy anarchists.

4. A Few Good Men

Sissy lawyers tear down a courageous Marine colonel for enforcing discipline among his troops.

5. The Shining

A strong father figure is forced to take drastic measures to control his whiny, ungrateful wife and disobedient son.

6. Roots

A poor African villager is adopted by a generous American family and taught the value of hard work.

7. Dr. Strangelove

Terrifying portrait of how America's military was hamstrung by peacenik civilians during the Cold War.

8. Se7en

The inspiring story of a devoutly religious man persecuted by police for attempting to live by Biblical principles.

9. All the President's Men

A disturbing look into the liberal media's conspiracy to bring down one of America's greatest Presidents.

10. Mississippi Burning

Heartwarming look at a Southern community's heroic stand against federal bullying.
Posted by True Blue Door | Fri Dec 27, 2013, 12:34 AM (2 replies)

My Nature Photos #1 (San Gabriel Mountains)

I haven't been out into the mountains lately due to mechanical issues with the car, but I have a huge backlog of photos from previous drives and hikes that I'd love to share here. Here are a few of the best, and I may share in subsequent editions if these are appreciated. Oh, and I don't do any Photoshop chicanery with my photos, so what you see is what I saw when I was there:

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710964376/][img][/img][/url]
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710964376/]P1011920[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/106981058@N06/]brianswiderski[/url], on Flickr

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710869245/][img][/img][/url]
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710869245/]P1011927[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/106981058@N06/]brianswiderski[/url], on Flickr

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710945304/][img][/img][/url]
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710945304/]P1011931[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/106981058@N06/]brianswiderski[/url], on Flickr

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710959806/][img][/img][/url]
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710959806/]P1011933 - Copy[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/106981058@N06/]brianswiderski[/url], on Flickr

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710941674/][img][/img][/url]
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710941674/]P1011940 - Copy[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/106981058@N06/]brianswiderski[/url], on Flickr

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10711136503/][img][/img][/url]
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10711136503/]P1011941[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/106981058@N06/]brianswiderski[/url], on Flickr

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710862675/][img][/img][/url]
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710862675/]P1011942[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/106981058@N06/]brianswiderski[/url], on Flickr

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710938744/][img][/img][/url]
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710938744/]P1011952 - Copy[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/106981058@N06/]brianswiderski[/url], on Flickr

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710937514/][img][/img][/url]
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710937514/]P1011963 - Copy[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/106981058@N06/]brianswiderski[/url], on Flickr

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710936164/][img][/img][/url]
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710936164/]P1011965 - Copy[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/106981058@N06/]brianswiderski[/url], on Flickr

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710935264/][img][/img][/url]
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710935264/]P1011966[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/106981058@N06/]brianswiderski[/url], on Flickr

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710934144/][img][/img][/url]
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710934144/]P1011974[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/106981058@N06/]brianswiderski[/url], on Flickr

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710857115/][img][/img][/url]
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710857115/]P1011976[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/106981058@N06/]brianswiderski[/url], on Flickr

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710949826/][img][/img][/url]
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710949826/]P1011985[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/106981058@N06/]brianswiderski[/url], on Flickr

I love going out into the mountains to get these photos. I just love it. My time waiting around my while car gets fixed has been purgatory. A rental just can't handle it.
Posted by True Blue Door | Wed Nov 6, 2013, 01:25 PM (2 replies)

Hopes and Worries for the new Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio

Every time an apparent liberal heavyweight shows up on the horizon, heading into a big-time office with grand ambitions and lofty rhetoric, the light and shadow of politics deepens. Bill de Blasio is one such person, who has (rather radically) reintroduced wealth inequality and class disparity into the public debate in a way that it has not been present in a very long time despite the issue being the elephant in the room for decades (and I do mean elephant - smirking, flag-lapel-pin-wearing, teabagging elephant).

He won the mayoralty of America's flagship city by speaking to what the sclerotic political institutions had long deemed a third rail in American politics - the glaring fact that a very few among us are increasingly reaping all the benefits and luxuries of society while the rest are left to foot the bill as workers and taxpayers. Nowhere is this fact more painfully in evidence than in New York City, where one part is a 21st century Versailles of soft living, infinite options, glittering (and heavily guarded) skyscrapers, Michelin restaurants, and grownup playgrounds where anyone who appears "not to belong" could be followed and whisked away by police at a moment's notice; and the other New York where things keep getting harder, landlords rule with an iron fist, and if you're a minority, the police behave like predators to your entire family day and night.

But only time will tell if Blasio is equal to the challenge he sees and dares to invoke, because (not to sound like a Matrix character) but knowing the path and walking the path are not the same thing, and convincing the people of New York to give him the authority to try is not the same thing as convincing the myriad interest groups, political blocs, and semi-gangster parasites who make up the New York political machine to go along with his plans. Furthermore, only time will tell if he can withstand the onslaughts of the VAST assortment of powers and resources that will be arrayed to sabotage him and ensure he goes no farther than city politics.

We can already surmise the shape of some of these traps in the very nature of the government he inherits. Bloomberg has created one of the "safest" times in New York history in terms of crime, but he did so by cheating - he turned the city into a police state where minorities have no civil rights and police are not bound by the 4th Amendment at all. Obviously crime is going to go down when the police have unchecked power, but that's not a bargain a free society is willing to make, because it just substitutes crime by criminals for crime by authorities. If/when Blasio intends to cut the Gordian Knot of Bloomberg's NYPD policies, he is going to walk a tightrope that on one side are skyrocketing crime statistics as the relationship between police and citizens returns to "balance," and on the other side are merely cosmetic changes that preserve an indefensible circumstance making life oppressive and frightening for the city's minorities.

That's just one of the many Roadrunner booby traps Bloomberg has left in his wake, that Bill de Blasio will have to either defuse, avoid, or spring with such alacrity that they can't do the intended harm. And even then, it remains to be seen how he intends to force a thoroughly corrupt, 1%-puppeteered city government into addressing the aforementioned elephant in the room, and how he intends to cultivate relationships with a state and federal government that are no less under the control of their own cadres of rich sociopaths. Either he will learn multi-dimensional politics very quickly and play a municipal version of Ender's Game on the streets of Gotham, or he will - sadly, as most do - flounder in the face of traps and sabotage from all sides, then quietly disappear into the background, another failed hope.
Posted by True Blue Door | Wed Nov 6, 2013, 12:57 PM (4 replies)

Five directors who "Get it."

What is "it," you ask? Well, the thing they have and others don't.

1. Martin Scorsese

I would watch grass grow if it was filmed by Martin Scorsese, and it would of course have a killer soundtrack. Thanks to my parents unwisely having allowed me to see Goodfellas on HBO at age 13, I spent the next two years neglecting my education in favor of petty crime. And I don't regret a moment of it, because it was the most fun I had until college. The cautionary parts of the movie had gone right over my head, but the part where Henry Hill did whatever he wanted and collected money as if it were laundry lint made perfect sense to me. And somehow it worked and I got away with it for two years. Basically, Scorsese is the devil - but the devil you love. He breathes driving, pulsating life into everything, including more benign subject matter like "Kundun" and "Hugo." A true avatar of the Italian-American spirit, no matter what subject he's addressing.

2. Stanley Kubrick

As visceral as Scorsese is, Kubrick was ethereal, and yet equally powerful. His cold eye was piercing with the light of a thousand suns, razor-sharp, and yet the environments he created were woven with impenetrable intricacy and immersive experience. Every moment is fraught with pagan intensity, glaring eyes laden with meaning, words packing a weighty wallop, and visuals from heaven's own vault. Reportedly a tyrant to work with, his actors' sacrifices on set were always worth it. Unfortunately, he's dead, so there will never be another entry from the Director of Directors.

3. Roman Polanski

Geniuses tend to be crazy or immoral in some way: Scorsese created one of the most beautiful films of all time (if not THE greatest) based on the life of a useless junkie hoodlum and made it seem like the most epic thing ever; Kubrick was a sadistic tyrant who emotionally and sometimes physically tortured his cast to get the desired performances out of them; and Roman Polanski...well...you know. But Polanski's movies tend to be seamless Gothic masterpieces, as if immaculately conceived from wafting smoke in the midst of a symphony orchestra. If there is an "it," he most definitely has it.

His Holocaust film "The Pianist" is probably the best movie ever made on the subject, reducing colossal horrors and wrenching chaos to the human-scale struggles of one man's survival. No self-important melodrama or sweeping, operatic depictions of larger events - just desperation, fear, and determination amid events not under the main character's control. Polanski's contributions to the horror (Rosemary's Baby) and noir (Chinatown) genres are no less amazing, and I happen to also be a fan of his more deprecated smirky horror movie "The Ninth Gate," which I recommend to anyone who hasn't seen it.

4. Paul Thomas Anderson

Paul Thomas Anderson is basically all of the writing talent of David Mamet with the addition of good camera instincts, music, and an extended attention span. While it's often difficult to enjoy his movies as entertainment because they're so kaleidoscopic, and also hard to remember details about them for the same reason, there are so many powerful scenes with inescapably weighty performances, perfect soundtrack accompaniment, and unexpected dialog that you almost have to grudgingly admit that Anderson gets it. Probably the most iconic example would be Mark Wahlberg's character Dirk Diggler hitting rock bottom in a crack house in Boogie Nights just as his friend goes berserk and tries to rob armed drug dealers.

You can see it in his face as he's internally collapsing, all while chipper Rick Springfield music plays in the background and a sleazy crackhead/dealer played by Alfred Molina dances around manically in his underwear. It's the most ludicrous, pathetic thing ever, and the two main characters (including John C. Reilly's character) know it and try to bail, setting in motion a piss-pantsingly realistic shootout. If you were ever in a situation where you were around two really dangerous people who got into a fight, you can sympathize with the main characters as they ran like rabbits from the scene.

5. Coen Brothers

Technically these are two directors, but since they always work together, I'll include them as one. They not only "get it," but they get it in a way that no one else does - their films all have a certain grounded, solemn moral sensibility, even when the material is purely comedic. Even in a movie as deliciously silly as The Big Lebowski, the characters are profoundly solid, and rooted in human truth. And in their remake of True Grit, an Oscar-nominated action-Western, there's a pervasive air of tragedy and horror every time someone gets shot - no one is a disposable redshirt, even if they have barely any screen time. Even though the main character is an old-hand gunslinger with a long line of bodies behind him, you see his face darken and collapse when he's forced to shoot someone. The Coens are by far some of the most humanistic filmmakers, and yet their morals are never preached - simply embodied in living motion.
Posted by True Blue Door | Tue Nov 5, 2013, 09:17 AM (8 replies)

Would this be a good place to continue some of my science series?

I had run a popular science blog elsewhere called "Getting to Know Your Solar System," structured like a guided tour of the regions and major bodies of the solar system, with lots of beautiful probe images and my own explanatory narrations and diagrams. What remains of them is only partly salvageable, but it was my proudest work, and I'm hoping to eventually resurrect the series here. Basically its' like this:

Each entry shows lots of beautiful images of a celestial object in the solar system, while also describing the science behind it, its environments, its orbit and other behavior, how humans discovered it, and what we might some day do with respect to it.

It can get quite involved, and some of the entries have run many pages long. When they get too long, I've had to break it up into multiple entries. For instance, I broke up my discussion of Earth into six different postings to at least superficially cover the vast amount of knowledge we have about it.

What do you say, folks? Some of you might have seen my Getting to Know Your Solar System series in its original home, so now that it can't continue there anymore, would you like to see it resurrected and brought to completion? And is this the right folder for that? Let me just whet your appetite:

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10634450526/][img][/img][/url]
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10634450526/]Saturn Clouds 3[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/106981058@N06/]brianswiderski[/url], on Flickr

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10634428915/][img][/img][/url]
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10634428915/]rainbow[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/106981058@N06/]brianswiderski[/url], on Flickr


Posted by True Blue Door | Sat Nov 2, 2013, 06:53 PM (17 replies)

You might be a geek if....

You tried to buy a hooker with Bitcoins.

You know the Three Laws of Robotics more intimately than the Bill of Rights.

You thought Paradise Lost was a ripoff of The Silmarillion.

Someone calling on the phone rather than texting is invading your space.

You tried to use a Jedi mind-trick on a mugger, with painful result
Posted by True Blue Door | Fri Nov 1, 2013, 09:22 PM (0 replies)

5 Republican jokes.

1. Why do Republicans hate wine?

In vino veritas.

2. What do you call a Republican in poverty?

Justice.

3. What do you call a Republican science teacher?

A failure.
Posted by True Blue Door | Thu Oct 31, 2013, 10:09 PM (3 replies)

I like Downton Abbey as entertainment, but it's a whitewash as history (a few spoilers).

The compassionate, fair-minded, mutually respectful relationship between the noble Crawley family of Downton Abbey and their house servants is pure fiction, and a retconning of modern values to a time when they hadn't really penetrated the British aristocracy (assuming they ever have). The job of house servants in a lordly estate was to be invisible, and the more high-falutin' the estate, the more stick-up-the-butt prim and obsequious the servants had to be to get and keep their jobs.

In the show, butlers and maids are free to act like human beings while doing their jobs - to look directly at the Lords and Ladies while taking instructions or inquiring about something, and to stand comfortably while acting as waiters. That's not how it was. They had to basically be human statues while waiting on the Lords and Ladies, eyes unfocused and still, standing and walking and serving with utmost military precision, no movement wasted and all superfluous sounds avoided. Their job was to be the human equivalent of robots, and to the maximum extent possible avoid making anyone aware of their existence. And they were treated accordingly if they ever broke form - not as people doing a job, but as machines that were no longer useful. They would be cast aside without a second thought, and be unable to get a job anywhere else as servants to the aristocracy.

The rage that fueled British class warfare was real and 100% justified. Aristocrats were beyond-the-pale arrogant and callous toward their servants, in ways that make the most psychotic Wall St. corporate executive seem like a hippie. People sought jobs as house servants because it afforded them food, shelter, and some above-average spending money - and because it was cleaner and safer than working in a factory. But there was no kindly Lord inquiring about your health and family life - just some entitled jackass glaring in fury because his butler with a broken arm hadn't buttered his toast properly.

The social wall between the aristocrats and the servants of an estate was absolute, and fraternization of any kind apart from maybe Christmas was considered an outrageous breach of decorum and natural order. A "good" employer was one who paid slightly better and didn't fire people at the drop of a hat, but characters like Lord Crawley simply did not exist, and a Lady of the estate marrying her Irish chaffeur? Please. The Lord wouldn't just fire him - he would have him arrested on a fake charge and shipped off to some labor camp.

Communism didn't arise out of a bunch of intellectual theorists musing about economics - it came about because the aristocracies were straight-up evil and brutal, even in the relatively fair-minded culture of Britain.
Posted by True Blue Door | Thu Oct 31, 2013, 09:20 PM (15 replies)

Should the ceremonial duties of the Presidency be a separate, non-governing office?

This doesn't sound like a very compelling issue at first glance, but look deeper. A lot of a President's time is taken up doing things that have absolutely nothing to do with Executive governance: You'd be shocked and appalled by how much time Presidents have to spend in state dinners and receptions, not to mention en route to or from such functions, and actual "Presidenting" normally has to work around these things. They might be canceled in an emergency, but otherwise it's a big hassle requiring a delicate ballet. And I have to wonder if it's at all necessary.

Part of the advantage held by constitutional monarchies is that they have a ceremonial leader who handles all the pageantry and foofaraw without exercising any real authority, and then an elected leader who manages the executive and governs along with the legislature. For instance, the Prime Minister of Great Britain has more time to personally spend on policy, working with their appointees, and working with legislators than a President of the United States does.

Obviously we don't want a monarchy, but maybe it would be useful to at least separate the ceremonial functions currently handled by Presidents into a separate, non-governing office. After all, none of those things has anything to do with the Constitutional duties of the Presidency, so it wouldn't even require a Constitutional amendment. In fact, a President could make it happen arbitrarily with an Executive Order establishing a ceremonial office.

It's true that to a minor extent the Secretary of State can do some of this stuff, but not really - that office doesn't really hold any ceremonial gravitas, and the American people don't invest it with any particular significance. And also it's a real Cabinet position with important political and diplomatic responsibilities, so it too would be compromised having to spend too much time on ceremony. So think about this: How about a Master of Ceremonies of the United States of America (M.C. USA)? In fact, since it holds no legal authority, you could maybe have it be elected in some kind of American Idol-style informal election - perhaps with some high majority threshold so that they really do represent our national spirit and are a unifying presence.

Their job would basically be Entertainer in Chief: A showpiece figurehead representing our culture (such as we have one), who flies around the world getting their picture taken and announcing good news about totally uncontroversial things while the President focuses on actually accomplishing things. Since the sort of people who would be elected MC USA would probably already be filthy rich pop stars, we probably wouldn't even have to pay them that much out of taxpayer money. And the fact that they might embarrass us by doing the sort of things celebrities do would just add to the fun.

Some ridiculous celebrity in a silly outfit would represent us to the monarchs and other figureheads of the world, superficially confirming every stereotype about childish Americans...and yet in reality our government might actually be a little more effective because the President could focus on real things. I think it would be brilliant, and a lot of fun at minimal cost. And, of course, there's no reason that an MC USA might not actually be a smart, charming person who would positively contribute to our image. For every laughable, drugged-out celebutard who ends up in the office, there could be another who is an artistic genius who everybody adores.

We're already represented to the world by our pop culture to a major extent, so why not just make it official? Also, it doesn't have to be someone from music. Movie and TV stars might also be game, as well as comedians, athletes, and other people with a high cultural profile. I'm totally serious - this could work, and would get politically apathetic people involved to some shallow extent in a quasi-government function. Maybe it could be a "gateway drug" for some of them to get involved in real politics.

The 50 states could also do their own version of it: Have an MC California, MC New York, MC Vermont, etc. Like a poet laureate, but elected and actually relevant. The whole thing would be like a trivial, highly entertaining, completely republican (small 'r') version of figurehead monarchy, with all sorts of pageantry, costumes, and other nonsense specific to the given office. And while the dumb people are distracted, some actual governing could occur in the Constitutional offices.

What do you think? And if we did have such an office, who would you nominate for MC USA? I, being a Geekimus Maximus, would nominate Joss Whedon.

Just a fun little thought. But I do think it could work.
Posted by True Blue Door | Thu Oct 31, 2013, 06:50 PM (31 replies)

A Republican was trying to change a lightbulb...

...but accidentally broke it. So he got out another lightbulb and tried to install it, with the same results. He tried again, and again, and again, but every time the bulb broke in the process.

At first he thought it must have been an Obama conspiracy, but he had deliberately chosen the most inefficient lightbulbs he could find so that that Commie, Mother Nature, couldn't leech off of him.

Then he thought maybe there was a manufacturing defect, but that couldn't be the case: These were Free Market lightbulbs made by a Job Creator corporation located in the Cayman Islands for tax purposes, not some Socialist lightbulb factory laden down with regulations. So the bulbs were clearly perfect.

But why did they keep breaking when he tried to install them?

He asked his peers at the country club, and none of their ideas worked out either. Was there a lightbulb tax that was causing them to break? No, apparently not. Were they made by lazy union workers? Nope - underage foreign slave labor: The best kind. His fellow club members were at a loss to explain it.

So then he went to his pastor and asked if maybe the devil had put a curse on the lightbulbs. But after a blessing, exorcism, and big donation to the church, the lightbulbs still kept breaking.

Finally he did the unthinkable and allowed one of his blue-collar employees into his presence, and asked the man if he had any idea why the bulbs kept breaking. "Yeah, I think I do," said the man, in a bitter tone. "Lightbulbs are not like employees. You're supposed to screw them in, not over."



Posted by True Blue Door | Wed Oct 30, 2013, 12:21 AM (2 replies)
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