Friday, March 24, 2017

Renegade: "Final Judgement"

We know we're getting a good episode when they use the vernacular spelling of judgment in a show about a Judge. Judge Lisa Stone (played by Sheree J. Wilson, veteran of such other TV schlock as Dallas and Walker: Texas Ranger) is a sexy, confident Judge who is being hunted by a dude named Otto (played by Brian Thompson, best known as Cronus in Charmed). Otto was cell mates with Hog, the slovenly biker dude who tried to kill Reno but put his lady love in a coma instead despite being close enough to spit on Reno.

The summary of the episode is fairly easy: Reno wants to interrogate Otto, Otto wants to kill the Judge, Reno saves the Judge's life, the Judge finds Reno working on his bike the next day and invites him to lunch, which is apparently a picnic. I stop to make note that Reno was working without his shirt, which was unnecessary until you remember Lorenzo Lamas had some really great abs. The episode was directed by our friend Ralph Hemecker, who was in charge of the pilot. This may explain why we get a lot of archival footage, ahem, memories from episode 1, even though we're only in episode 3. It just reinforces that all we really know about Reno's fiance is she had big tits and didn't mind making out in ocean water. I like breasts as much as the next heterosexual man, but it doesn't really help the backstory. Maybe she was a poet or volunteered at an animal shelter. Give her some personality. If she's just a walking pair of boobs, Reno can move on.

Which, jumping ahead, I note that Reno did make out with the Judge after saving her life a second time, but only after being arrested by the local police and being rescued by Bobby Sixkiller and his step-sister, Cheyenne. The plan is pretty ingenious, which simply involves driving a car into the jail cell Reno is being held in. Otto avoids the chance to escape so he can be brought in front of Judge Stone for arraignment, which is odd because she is a witness/victim to his attempted murder.

Otto kidnaps the Judge after murdering one of the sheriff's officers, but, as noted, Reno stops him in what is actually a pretty great action sequence with many punches, kicks, and grunts. Reno ultimately stops Otto with a bullet to the...somewhere. It's hard to tell, because people get shot all of the time in this show, but no one ever shows blood from bullet wounds. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Three episodes in, the thought of making my way through all 22 episodes of season 1 appears daunting, let alone trying to do all 110 of the entire series. However, with the promise of Reno taking his shirt off at least once per episode, I may be able to persevere.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Renegade: "Hunting Accident"

For some reason, Reno Raines ends up in a backwater town in Tennessee where the law consists of one, senior citizen sheriff. Naturally, the town is terrorized by a former high school jock who essentially gives people wedgies and takes their lunch money (or in some cases, VCRs and other trinkets). Reno befriends the Sheriff's daughter, some hillbilly sweetheart who sees the true warmth lying inside Reno's heart. Either that, or she just sees him shirtless all the time.

OK, that's not really fair. Reno wears a leather vest, so he's not topless per se.

The jock is Boone Avery, played by Peter Koch, a bit actor who basically has one guest appearance per season, which is a great way to dabble in Hollywood, so long as you have another job. Boone's reign of terror of noogies and "indian burns" (sorry, Bobby Sixkiller) is stopped by Reno's relentless kicks, making Jean-Claude Van Damme seem like, well, me. Boone retaliates by going to another law officer in another town and alerting him that Reno Raines is wanted...for murder.

Boone also says Reno is a "fairy" because he dances around and kicks a lot. I don't go in for homophobia or heterosexism or anything of that nature, but why gloss over that Reno is bare chested in a leather vest with long, flowing hair? It's the fact he kicked you in the chest that makes him gay? Sure thing, dude.

The hillbilly sweetheart from earlier is able to contact Bobby, who tricks some poor schmuck working a roadside fruit stand to give him his fingerprints. Cheyenne (Bobby's sister) then puts on a thick southern accent and calls the sheriff's office to say to disregard the other fingerprints and use these instead. OK, sure. It works, Reno is let go, and Boone kidnaps hillbilly sweetheart.

We're two episodes in and already we have two women kidnapped. Damsels in distress: not just for 1950s Disney.

Reno allows himself to get beaten up in order to find the missing girl, a plan which fails. However, thanks to a polaroid which he saw for 2 seconds but memorized every detail of, he was able to track down the location; it turns out the poor lass was stuck in a well tied to a rope. When she was pulled up by said rope, I was kind of hoping the rope was around her neck so Reno would have hanged her while trying to save her. Alas, that would have been too dark. I suppose.

Reno goes back to the bar where he kicked Boone's ass last time and proceeded to kick his ass again. Boone is then arrested by the sheriff. While in cuffs, the Sheriff's son, who may be mentally delayed or may just be a geek/nerd (it's not clear), shoots Boone while in cuffs. In a heroic gesture, Reno takes the gun, wipes the prints clean, and puts his own prints on it, saying, "they already got me for murder, they can't get me again," which ignores many aspects of the law, the least of which is that he was framed for the initial murder and could, theoretically, be found not guilty.

The sheriff is having none of this, and tells Reno he can't let him do that. Ah, a man of the law, a man of honor, a man...oh, no, the sheriff instead concocts a story and tells everyone in the town (all 17 of them, who are hanging around in the parking lot) that Boone went hunting in the woods (with a handgun, mind you) and accidentally shot himself. Open and shut case! Handshakes all around.

The episode was directed by BJ Davis, who people might know from various background roles on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and for Medal of Honor: History of Heroes, which he directed, wrote, co-starred in, baked cookies for, etc.

IMDB lists Stephen Cannell's character (who briefly appears in this episode) as Lt. Donald "Dutch" Dickerson, even though he's called Dixon in both episodes I've watched. I promise to get to the bottom of this mystery, unless I forget or lose interest.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Renegade: "Renegade" (Pilot)

He was a cop, and good at his job. But he committed the ultimate sin and testified against other cops gone bad. Cops that tried to kill him, but got the woman he loved instead. Framed for murder, now he prowls the badlands...an outlaw hunting outlaws...a bounty hunter...a RENEGADE.

Cue a contender for the most amazing and obnoxious TV show ear worm, which follows something like 37 minutes of Reno Raines (played by Lorenzo Lamas) and his fiance frolicking on a beach. In the cold opening, Raines also goes into a police department to share his undercover investigation into a crooked cop. The head detective is Dutch Dixon, played by show creator Stephen J. Cannell, perhaps the greatest TV show mind of all time (if for no other reason than giving us the A-Team). Dixon and Lamas have an oddly hostile and nonsensical interaction, which is only partly explained by the fact that Dixon is also crooked. He arranges for Reno to be killed. We then cut to the aforementioned credits, which gives away the fact that Reno survives but loses the woman he loves. It cuts the drama a bit, although we do get to see a slovenly biker gang member miss shooting Reno from 5 feet away, despite the fact each Lamas pectoral muscle is like a beautiful target to aim at.

Dixon frames Reno and then goes to Bobby Sixkiller (Branscombe Richmond) and his sister Cheyenne (Kathleen Kinmont), the best bounty hunter in California or whatever. For whatever reason, law enforcement is unable to track people across state lines (this is pre-9/11, so back then all you had to do was travel to the next state and you would never be apprehended). Dixon is also strangely hostile towards Bobby, which leads Bobby into this great quote:

Only in America, Lieutenant, where every day could be the Wheel of Fortune. George Foreman, a black man raised in the ghetto, eats hamburgers and wins millions. Donald Trump, a white man, raised in a mansion, eats caviar, and loses millions. Ah, what a great country we live in, Lieutenant, where everybody gets a spin at that wheel.

Haha, Donald Trump, what a fuckin' loser. Whatever happened to that bozo?

Bobby and Cheyenne travel around in their high tech Winnebago tracking Raines. Reno goes after the biker prisoner dude who killed his fiance, but captures him only long enough to be captured by Bobby. "Sad!" - Donnie T

While Reno is in custody, Bobby tries to head off racist jokes by telling a lot of weird Native American jokes, even though no one was intending to crackwise about injuns. It's fine, though, because Bobby has a beautiful mullet and a million dollar smile and the best earrings I've seen outside of QVC, so we can do whatever he wants. I'll skip past some of the plot points to just say there is a fight scene with a biker gang, Cheyenne gets kidnapped, and blah blah blah Reno saves the day and he and Bobby become best friends.

The episode was directed by Ralph Hemecker, who helmed a number of Cannell series episodes before reducing output for about a decade until coming back strong with shows such as Numb3rs, Once Upon a Time, the Flash and Blue Bloods. Truly, he would not be where he is today without honing his skills on Lorenzo Lamas' lush, flowing hair and rock hard abs.

Lamas and Kinmont were married in real life, until they weren't. Kinmont was on the show for 4 seasons until the relationship ended, and we got a new woman for season 5. However, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Doofus Doofbourne

Mr. Brexit, what went on in your head?
Oh, Mr. Brexit, do you think you're brain dead?
Your oration to me lacks all logic
With the derp of it all
You tirades are full demagogic
Yeah, you're gonna lose hard this fall

Friday, August 5, 2016

Pokermans


So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,---
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

That is the closing paragraph of a poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1860, describing the famous events of April 18, 1775, when Paul Revere (and William Dawes) road out to warn the colonial army that British troops had landed and were about to march into Massachusetts. Many children know the folklore, with Revere riding through the streets shouting "The British are coming, the British are coming," although certainly events have been embellished over the years.

Most people are unaware of Jonas Cattell. In October 1777, Cattell was arrested for violating curfew in Haddonfield, NJ, and spent a night in jail. The British occupied the town, along with many Hessians, German soldiers employed by the British army. While incarcerated, Jonas overheard Hessian and British soldiers discussing a surprise, early morning attack on Fort Mercer, which sat on the banks of the Delaware River across from Philadelphia, PA. Cattell knew the area well, so upon his release, he ran ten miles along backroads and trails from Haddonfield to Fort Mercer to warn military leaders of the impending attack. He arrived much earlier than the Hessian forces, and due to the advanced warning, the Americans were able to defend the fort despite being outnumber three to one.

Fort Mercer was situated in what is now known as National Park, NJ. The Red Bank Battlefield Park is not a national park, despite the name of the town, but one open for public use and recognized for its historical significance. For those reasons, there are many memorials and landmarks throughout the park, which act as Pokémon GO gyms and PokéStops. Pokémon GO, as you must be aware, is a mobile game which allows players to try and find Pokémon characters in real locations, using GPS in the game. Players can train their Pokémon and battle in gyms, and they can visit PokéStops to get free items. People can also choose to turn PokéStops into lures, which draws out Pokémon to the area, thus making them attractive and popular to individuals playing the game. In other words, it draws a crowd.

There are so many Pokémon GO relevant areas that the park is filled with hundreds of people every weekend. People from all walks of life are outdoors, enjoying nature and interacting with people they may not otherwise and being a part of a semi-organic, unscheduled community event. As with anything popular, there is a backlash against the game, with many people bemoaning people playing the game, as if it is some sort of personal affront. The game doesn't hurt people to play, and it doesn't actually affect you whether people play, so if you feel like typing up some rant, maybe do yourself a favor and step outside and get a breath of fresh air like all the Pokémon GO players who rankle you so. Who knows, you might even be standing next to a Bulbasaur.

  art by dandr0id

Saturday, March 5, 2016

It's a Kind of Magic

Last night I dreamed about my cat, who passed away in September of last year. In the dream, he was as I remembered him, but smaller and in better health, without his asthma. I was overjoyed that he was back, and times were good.

But dreams are fleeting; they cannot last. The world was as it was. It would be nice to believe it was a message from beyond, a love note to let me know he is doing well and would see me again. That would require belief in things not explainable by science, unproven by the facts, and supported only loosely on spiritual ideas that are at best from the realm of philosophers and at worst the notions of madmen and con artists.

I would like to believe in magic, but it's hard not to think about the sleight of hand.

As America approaches electing a vain, short-tempered, delusional reality show star with a tenuous grasp on reality to be in control of the military (and the nuclear launch codes), maybe I'll find out soon enough what's on the other side. Before I do, I would be hesitant not to acknowledge that Highlander, the cult 80s classic about immortals who fight each other with swords trying to decapitate each other and be the last one to survive, turns 30 years old on Monday, the 7th of March. It has its flaws for sure, but it's a really fun movie with the right state of mind, as explained here (although I am aflutter with Lambert's performance, which made me believe he was a good actor for years longer than I should have). Considering I have evolved over the years into ostentatious film snob, it might seem odd that I love this low budget science fiction fantasy adventure (and the 80s had a lot of them), but we all have that soft spot for that one movie that hits all the right notes for you.

Thinking about watching Highlander 30 years after it hit theaters has raised my spirits. No matter how much we've lost and how much we will lose, the best advice is still - don't lose your head.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Link Dump 2015: Grab Your Helmet

As someone who uses his cell phone nearly every hour of every day, my mobile browser sometimes gets bloated with open tabs from things I've read. So, in an effort to cull those tabs, I am dumping some of my favorite recent reads for you to enjoy.

Alcohol

Craft beer is exploding in the U.S., and here's a story about one of its largest microbreweries:

"There's this big blob of young people now turning legal drinking age over the past four or five years and I don't think any of them even grew up thinking about tasting a Budweiser," he says. "It's just like all these 15-year-olds who have never not had a smartphone. These things are becoming native now to the next generation, and that's something for the big brewers to be afraid of."

Across the pond, we learn about a French style beer:

Medical journals of the period also suggested that visitors to the Strasbourg area seek out Bière de Mars (as well as still-familiar names like 'bock-bier' and 'Lambick'), for both health and leisure purposes, while many travel guides also supported this notion. Biere de Mars even developed its own lore, garnering an association with Napoleon that seems to have come about via a bit of (fancy) folk etymology—classically-educated British visitors asserted, often in jest, that 'mars' referred to the god of war and that the beer fueled the army before battles, while the direct (and less romantic) French-to-English translation of 'March' was overlooked.

If you can ignore the throwback web design, there's a nice (and short) little history lesson tucked in here about American beer production:

Lagers produced by these breweries, were not the weak and mild lagers now associated with modern American mega-breweries. These "pilseners" were a significantly stronger beer, both in flavor and alcohol, designed to meet the appetites of the various central European immigrants working the coal mines.

Art

Pop Music is commercial, should we be surprised?:

Millions of Swifties and KatyCats—as well as Beliebers, Barbz, and Selenators, and the Rihanna Navy—would be stunned by the revelation that a handful of people, a crazily high percentage of them middle-aged Scandinavian men, write most of America’s pop hits. It is an open yet closely guarded secret, protected jealously by the labels and the performers themselves, whose identities are as carefully constructed as their songs and dances. The illusion of creative control is maintained by the fig leaf of a songwriting credit. The performer’s name will often appear in the list of songwriters, even if his or her contribution is negligible. (There’s a saying for this in the music industry: “Change a word, get a third.”) But almost no pop celebrities write their own hits. Too much is on the line for that, and being a global celebrity is a full-time job. It would be like Will Smith writing the next Independence Day.

Just a good bit of fun:

It’s pretty much a very short parody of Watchmen with news paper comic characters instead of superheroes. Somewhat inspired by Bartkira, I made this sampling of pages both as a joke and to see what it would look like if newspaper characters got the same dark treatment superheroes did in the 80s. There was no copy/pasting in any of these pages, I redrew them by looking intimately at my copy of Watchmen and pictures of each character I was using.

The Soviet Union did not allow western consumer products behind the iron curtain, but that doesn't mean they couldn't indulge in their own versions:

Well, to put it simply: it means no Pac-Man. It means no fantasies. It means presenting work as physical labor, promoting Communist patriotism, and glorifying habits of mind that were appropriate to Marxist thinking. Fantasy and role-playing games featuring treasure-hunting, princesses, and invented creatures had no home in the USSR.

A famous New York City restaurant which was adorned with drawings by many famous artists is no more, and the artwork has been painted over:

Artists hand-sketched the cartoons in exchange for meals throughout the years. Many worked at nearby King Features Syndicate, a comic company. The famed walls were restored in 1995. Today, Palm restaurants worldwide are run by direct descendants of the founding owners. It was impossible, they said in a statement, to take the original artwork with them. Environment

If we can't even tackle the pollution that causes climate upheaval, how are we ever going to address light pollution? Let's pretend:

In polluted cities around the world, it’s a struggle to see the stars in our night skies. And it’s that struggle that The World at Night’s 6th International Earth and Sky Photo Contest tries to highlight, showing us images of how the world would look if we controlled light pollution.

Corporations have a vested interest in profiting from pollution:

Despite its efforts for nearly two decades to raise doubts about the science of climate change, newly discovered company documents show that as early as 1977, Exxon research scientists warned company executives that carbon dioxide was increasing in the atmosphere and that the burning of fossil fuels was to blame.

A humorous piece about Britain's business-first mentality at the expense of our environment:

Bearing this in mind, I finally find myself reluctantly agreeing with the business community. There is no time for delay. Let’s build the runway. Let’s choke the Earth. Let’s get this damn thing over with, for what can be avoided, whose end is purposed by the mighty gods of business? Hasten our demise, let our children be the last of their sorry line, and spare their unborn descendants any further suffering. We will not save the rhino. We will not even save the hedgehog. How can we save the world?

This is ancient news in terms of the Internet, but still a good read about how damaging K-Cups are to our world:

But critics warn that the packaging needed for these systems comes with environmental and health-related costs. By making each pod so individualized, and so easy to dispose of, you must also exponentially increase the packaging—packaging that ultimately ends up in landfills. (And that's to say nothing of the plastic and metal brewing systems, which if broken, aren't that easy to recycle either.)

The Times had an article last year about water rights, especially relevant this year as things have only gotten worse (the Colorado River has been at risk for decades now, glad we still haven't addressed it yet):

Residents of the arid West have always scrapped over water. But years of persistent drought are now intensifying those struggles, and the explosive growth — and thirst — of Western cities and suburbs is raising their stakes to an entirely new level.

The destruction of our planet is a bummer, to say the least; good thing I don't have any kids to leave behind to inherit this mess:

"It's just too late for it," he says. "Perhaps if we'd gone along routes like that in 1967, it might have helped. But we don't have time. All these standard green things, like sustainable development, I think these are just words that mean nothing. I get an awful lot of people coming to me saying you can't say that, because it gives us nothing to do. I say on the contrary, it gives us an immense amount to do. Just not the kinds of things you want to do."

Miscellaneous

Reappropriation of America's fastest passenger ship:

In its heyday, the SS United States was renowned for its luxury as well as its functionality. It is the largest non-military ship ever built in the United States and could travel at speeds of about 40 knots, nearly twice as fast as cruise ships today. On its first trip across the Atlantic, it traveled so fast some of its paint was blown off.

Pho is bloody delicious:

Pho refers to the noodles -- flat, long rice noodles -- not the soup itself, although it is commonly associated with the dish as a unit. The two main types of soup are pho bo, which is made with beef broth, and pho ga, made with chicken broth. If you ask for just pho in Vietnam, it'll commonly be understood as Pho Bo. A hearty dish, pho is often eaten for breakfast, usually outside of the house at market stands or stalls.

To quote the great George Michael, sex is natural, sex is fun:

In a bad mood? You need to get laid. Have a terrible headache? An orgasm would solve that. Feeling bad about yourself? You need someone to f*ck you.

A fellow who used to work as a tour guide at a Southern Plantation explains just how ignorant some of his guests were regarding slavery:

For most guests, this is the most emotionally meaningful moment of the tour. I showed the young mother some of the slaves' names and pointed out which people were related to each other. The mom stiffened up, raised her chin, and asked pinchedly, "Did the slaves here appreciate the care they got from their mistress?"

White collar crime is treated as a joke, but I'm tired of being the punchline:

The primary difference between the deaths that occur in the “workworld” vs. the “underworld” is simply the perspective our society – which is tilted towards the worldview of the rich – gives them. A poor mugger killing you after a fight over your wallet is considered a grave crime, whereas a worker being killed because their employer didn't spend the money necessary to give them proper safety is considered routine.

I remember a TV news magazine episode about Indian call centers, and a woman who worked there was demonstrating how she mastered many American accents, including Brooklyn and Southern. Every accent she did was heavily twinged with her native accent. It was a mess:

Every month, thousands of Indians leave their Himalayan tribes and coastal fishing towns to seek work in business process outsourcing, which includes customer service, sales, and anything else foreign corporations hire Indians to do. The competition is fierce. No one keeps a reliable count, but each year there are possibly millions of applicants vying for BPO positions. A good many of them are bright recent college grads, but their knowledge of econometrics and Soviet history won't help them in interviews. Instead, they pore over flashcards and accent tapes, intoning the shibboleths of English pronunciation—"wherever" and "pleasure" and "socialization"—that recruiters use to distinguish the employable candidates from those still suffering from MTI, or "mother tongue influence."

Politics

A state politician is apparently unstable, tweeting some bizarre, macho threats:

"Not smart to come up and harass somebody in a parking lot who's caryring a handgun. Better be glad you decided to walk away. #armed&ready"

Kim Davis dominated the news like no one else (except Donald Trump) by refusing to do the job she was elected to do because she feels that homosexuality is not only a sin, but a sin she has to be proactive in fighting against:

This is a tough position and her only real choice in line with her religious beliefs is to resign her position so as not to violate those beliefs - even though it was a good paying job she inherited from her mother and plans to pass on to her son. But Davis doesn't want to give her job! Who does? She wants a job enforcing the public laws. But there's a public law she doesn't want to enforce, which means she really can't do the job without violating her religious beliefs. But she doesn't have the courage of her convictions that would allow her to quit her job. It's a classic case of wanting to have your cake and eat it too. So she wants to be able to keep her job but just not do part of it, sacrifice for her religious beliefs but also hold on to the job. This is never what religious liberty has meant in any context ever.

President Obama has been on a roll during his "lame duck" term, and the Iran Deal is quite the accomplishment:

As the Senate came back into session, but before the C-SPAN microphones were on, Reid approached Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on the Senate floor and told him Democrats had the votes to block the disapproval resolution. When aides asked Reid later if that was really the case, the Nevadan just shrugged.

Regarding the internal collapse of the Republican Party, sanity was the first victim:

One need look no further than the Republican presidential race to understand Boehner’s lack of appeal to extreme conservatives. In the latest GOP polls, Donald Trump and Ben Carson stand in first and second place, respectively. Trump and Carson are exactly the kind of leaders that Tea Party conservatives love: they lack government experience, they have a poor grasp of the issues, they take absurdly extreme policy positions and they make crudely offensive and deeply divisive statements on a routine basis. In the age of Trump and Carson, Boehner’s days were numbered.

A mayor of a city in Texas is obsessed with Sharia Law:

Van Duyne first made headlines for challenging Islam in February, when she wrote a Facebook post vowing to look into a "Shariah law court" that was said to have been set up by an Irving mosque. "While I am working to better understand how this 'court' will function and whom will be subject to its decisions, please know that if it is determined that there are violations of basic rights occurring, I will not stand idle and will fight with every fiber of my being against this action," she wrote.

But the "Shariah law court" wasn't actually headquartered in Irving, which abuts Dallas, nor did it have anything to do with the Islamic Center of Irving. A note on the homepage of Dallas' Islamic Tribunal, which settle civil disputes between Muslims for a fee, aimed to disambiguate the two.

Unrestrained capitalism lets us bleed:

In America we have this myth that if you deserve it, you will have it. We’re afraid to look at our downtrodden because it undercuts that myth. There is a fear of the poor that is uniquely American. It’s especially hard to look at someone who could be one of their kids – someone like me who’s white and intelligent – and see them as poor. When the crash happened, there was a panic among the rich because suddenly wealth wasn’t only to do with how hard you’d worked. It could be taken away! They got really fearful. So much of Americans’ self-image is based on what we own and how we present ourselves.

Unrestrained capitalism lets us bleed, redux:

Today’s low-wage workers are also more educated, with 41 percent having at least some college, up from 29 percent in 2000. “Minimum-wage and low-wage workers are older and more educated than 10 or 20 years ago, yet they’re making wages below where they were 10 or 20 years ago after inflation,” said Mr. Schmitt, senior economist at the research center. “If you look back several decades, workers near the minimum wage were more likely to be teenagers — that’s the stereotype people had. It’s definitely not accurate anymore.”

The gun culture is so entrenched in this country, and the gun lobby so powerful, that any meaningful legislation is but a dream at this point; however, this is not only a feasible idea, but workable:

Gun insurance would work very much like car insurance. You would need it to buy a gun, and the policy would have to include liability coverage in case that gun injures someone. If a gun owner has no accidents, his premiums go down. Someone who wants to "open carry" his weapon would pay more than someone who keeps it locked at home. Assault weapons would be more expensive to insure than hunting rifles because they they have a greater capacity to do harm. But it wouldn't be government making these decisions, which would be unconstitutional - it would be insurance companies, competing with one another to keep premiums reasonable.

Although the Confederate flag issue has fizzled out and no longer makes the headlines, we still had some great comments about society and race:

“And we struggle with it. We try to ignore it. We pretend, with the election of Barack Obama, that we’re in some post-racial society,” he continued. “And what we have seen is a kind of reaction to this. The birther movement, of which Donald Trump is one of the authors of, is another politer way of saying the N word. It’s just more sophisticated and a little bit more clever. He’s ‘other,’ he’s different.”

If a black person tried to open carry, he would be shot (a few African Americans have been shot by police over carrying a TOY gun):

Kylie Morris of Channel 4 in Britain visited Ferguson on Tuesday and tried to explain to the British people why white “Oath Keepers” were allowed to openly carry firearms on the street while peaceful black protesters were arrested.

Yeah, I'm partisan:

There are other bits of crankery here and there that are driven by base politics, but in the end, the versions of conservative crankery that really matter nearly always come down to pandering to the rich at all costs—or, at the very least, doing nothing to offend them. Whatever else you can say about the Republican Party, it knows who's in charge and it always has. This is starting to create some seismic faults that are likely to cause them a lot of angst in the near future, but for now, it's the wealthy uber alles.

As a reminder, Dick Cheney is a subhuman:

These guys wreck the economy, and then complain that Obama hasn't fixed it fast enough. They blow a hole in the deficit, and then complain that Obama hasn't quite filled it yet. They pursue a disastrous war in Iraq, and then complain that Obama ruined it all by not leaving a few more brigades behind. They twiddle their thumbs over Iran, and then complain that Obama's nuclear deal isn't quite to their liking.

Money in politics is an absolute joke, where even millionaires are brushed aside so candidates can pander to billionaires:

The most interesting question amid the wreckage of Walker's campaign may now be this: Where will his wealthy backers go with their money? In July, the super-PAC supporting Walker, Unintimidated PAC, reported having locked up more than $20 million, placing him in the top echelon of GOP candidates in terms of financial backing. The bulk of the money, $13.4 million, came from just four people, including Wisconsin-based roofing supply magnate Diane Hendricks, a longtime supporter who gave $5 million.

Yes, I read Talking Points Memo quite a bit:

Latimer continued to work for the company after its 1892 merger into General Electric, and all told spent nearly half of his 80 years working as part of Edison’s laboratories and corporation—and more than half a century helping pioneer some of our most significant national technologies. Yet it is Bell whom we remember for the telephone and Edison for the electric light bulb—and while those men certainly deserve a place in our collective narratives of those technologies and of American invention more generally, those narratives are quite simply incomplete without a far more prominent place for the contributions of [African American] Lewis Latimer (among many others) as well.

Republicans can spew whatever crazy shit they want and then say, "We're not racist, we have a black guy and a few Hispanics running for president, it's fine":

That the party responsible for the Southern strategy, the racist populism of the Reagan era, and the current age of voter suppression can count a black neurosurgeon among its most popular Presidential candidate is in itself a form of vaccination against charges of racism. It means one thing when a white billionaire taps into whites’ anxieties about cultural and economic displacement, and something else entirely when a black man from Detroit validates their conspiratorial fears about the Affordable Care Act. Or when, in an oblivious echo of the Dred Scott decision, an African-American states that entire segments of the population are irreconcilable with the Constitution.

Technology

Making money on the web seems to be an endless challenge for businesses born in the analog age, but even the digital born are finding it difficult as technology evolves:

In recent years, banner ads have been usurped by the “native ad,” sometimes called sponsored content. These often look like regular articles but are paid for by companies. Sometimes the sponsor’s logo is the only sign of their investment. Other times the entire post hints at the sponsor’s product—like this quiz about bathroom graffiti by Scrubbing Bubbles. These ads attract more attention than banners, so advertisers pay more for them. BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s research service, suggests that spending on native ads will reach $7.9 billion this year, up from $4.7 billion in 2013.

Social media, while fun to engage in, really puts our private lives in the hands of corporations to pour over and profit from:

But with as few as four publicly available geo-tagged data points, scientists can accurately connect 90 percent of people to their credit card transactions, according to research published in the journal Science on Friday. That data is supposed to be anonymous, but it’s not really, and women and high-income people have less anonymity than others.