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Thursday, June 30, 2016

12 Monkeys 2.11: Teleportation

Another blockbuster episode - 2.11 - of 12 Monkeys this week, which featured yet another time-travel gambit:  use of the time-travel device not to travel to another place, but another time, instantly.  In other words, teleportation.

There have always been two kinds of time travel in both literature and movies.   In one, you travel in time, to the past or the future, and arrive in the same place or location.  This is the kind I used in The Plot to Save Socrates, Loose Ends, and Ian's Ions and Eons series.   In the other, you can not only travel through time but through space, and therefore end up not only in a different time but a different place from where you started.   Quantum Leap excelled in this approach on television.

12 Monkeys has always used that approach as well.  But, if you think about it, you can also use it not to travel through time at all - or maybe just a split second into the past or future - and to a completely different location.   In that case, the time machine becomes a teleportation device, which is a nice touch in a time travel story.

In the end, our heroes don't use the time travel device for that at all, but we still get a fine story leading up to it - a story about Jennifer.  As I've said before, Jennifer is in many ways the most important and memorable character in the series, and any story about her is compelling.  But in 2.11, we get a story of her death, and her rebirth - via time travel - and you can't get much more compelling than that.

12 Monkeys in its second season has become a veritable compendium of time-travel gambits and their possibilities, and you can't get much better that that, either.

See also 12 Monkeys 2.1: Whatever Will Be, Will Be ... 12 Monkeys 2.2: The Serum ... 12 Monkeys 2.3: Primaries and Paradoxes ... 12 Monkeys 2.4: Saving Time ... 12 Monkeys 2.5: Jennifer's Story ... 12 Monkeys 2.6: "'Tis Death Is Dead" ... 12 Monkeys 2.7: Ultimate Universes ... 12 Monkeys 2.8: Time Itself Wants Time Travel ... 12 Monkeys 2.9: Hands On ... 12 Monkeys 2.10: The Drugging

And see also this Italian review, w/reference to Hawking and my story, "The Chronology Protection Case"

And see also 12 Monkeys series on SyFy: Paradox Prominent and Excellent ...12 Monkeys 1.2: Your Future, His Past ... 12 Monkeys 1.3:  Paradoxes, Lies, and Near Intersections ... 12 Monkeys 1.4: "Uneasy Math" ... 12 Monkeys 1.5: The Heart of the Matter ... 12 Monkeys 1.6: Can I Get a Witness? ... 12 Monkeys 1.7: Snowden, the Virus, and the Irresistible ... 12 Monkeys 1.8: Intelligent Vaccine vs. Time Travel ... 12 Monkeys 1.9: Shelley, Keats, and Time Travel ... 12 Monkey 1.10: The Last Jump ... 12 Monkeys 1.11: What-Ifs ... 12 Monkeys 1.2: The Plunge ... 12 Monkeys Season 1 Finale: "Time Travel to Create Time Travel"


podcast review of Predestination and 12 Monkeys


Monday, June 27, 2016

Ray Donovan 4.1: Good to Be Back

Good to see Ray Donovan in its and his season 4 debut last night.   It had all the elements we've come to enjoy in this quirky sometimes brutal sometimes tender show.

Ray is back from the brink where we left him last season.  And he winds up having to fix things up for the very guy who helped him back from the edge.  Not only that, but this happens just at the time that Bridget has accepted Ray's heartfelt invitation to have dinner with the family.  Classic Ray!

The only thing that didn't happen according to what we've come to expect is that Bridget is not angry at Ray for coming late, and neither is Abby.  Each has good reason:  Bridget is thrilled with the girl with guitar painting she thinks Ray bought for her (the title of this episode) and Abby is understandably concerned about her Stage 0 breast cancer (Stage O is the best a diagnosis for cancer can be, but it's still cancer and incredibly upsetting).

As for the painting, we know of course that Ray did not buy it - it was sent by the woman who wants a piece of Ray, and here we can see the beginning of big trouble brewing for him this season.

Elsewhere, Jon Voight puts in another customarily inspired performance as Ray's father Mickey, replete with some musical scenes with singing by the love of Mickey's life, which captured something of the singing we've seen over the years in David Lynch movies like Blue Velvet and its imitations.   But it worked well in Ray Donovan last night.

This series has a unique mix of all kinds of offbeat, colorful threads, as I indicated at the beginning, and I'm looking very much forward to seeing what it comes up with this season.

See also Ray Donovan 3.1: New, Cloudy Ray ... Ray Donovan 3.2: Beat-downs ... Ray Donovan 3.7: Excommunication!

And see also Ray Donovan 2.1: Back in Business ... Ray Donovan 2.4: The Bad Guy ... Ray Donovan 2.5: Wool Over Eyes ... Ray Donovan 2.7: The Party from Hell ... Ray Donovan 2.10: Scorching ... Ray Donovan 2.11: Out of Control ... Ray Donovan Season 2 Finale: Most Happy Ending

And see also Ray Donovan Debuts with Originality and Flair ... Ray Donovan 1.2: His Assistants and his Family ... Ray Donovan 1.3: Mickey ... Ray Donovan 1.7 and Whitey Bulger ... Ray Donovan 1.8: Poetry and Death ... Ray Donovan Season 1 Finale: The Beginning of Redemption

  different kinds of crimes and fixes


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Game of Thrones Season 6 Finale: That Library

A fabulous finale to a fabulous sixth season of Game of Thrones, which is now my favorite season of the series, even more so than the first, which was excellent indeed.

My favorite sleeper scene - sleeper because it was brief and didn't have much to do with the action tonight - would be Samwell walking into that magnificent library. It reminded me of two other libraries very fond in my recollection - the Library of Trantor that Ebling Mis finally entered in Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy, and the old Duane Library (no longer a library) at Fordham University where I currently teach.  Check it out.

As to the action in tonight's episode - it was popping out all over in searingly memorable scenes, including -
  • the application that deadly green fire (based on Byzantine "Greek" fire in our own history), culminating in Cersei as the Queen with ultimate power in the realm (and let me say I was nothing but happy to see Tomlin go - he was not only an ineffective young King but a really boring character)
  • the birth of Jon Snow, witnessed by Bran - really touching (and important for the future story)
  • Arya coming totally into her own, killing that old bastard whatever-his-name (ok, Blackfish)(note that she might have also tried to kill Jaime, had he hung around, which he very well might have done if he hadn't been called back to his sister)
  • the nobles of the North pledging allegiance to Jon Snow, after being embarrassed and egged on by that superb girl Lyanna Mormont, who has emerged as one of the best characters in the series
  • and of course that last scene with thew mighty fleet and the dragons setting sail for Cersei and eventually the north, with Daenerys and her newly minted "hand," Tyrion, at her side
There was at least one dumb move in the plot, though thoroughly understandable:  Jon knows he'll need all the help he can get to fight the deathly white hordes now no longer just beyond the wall, so sending Melisandra away seems not a good idea.   Further, whomever she winds up trying to help - whether Daenerys or Cersei - won't be kindly disposed to the Starks and the new North, and Jon will likely regret sending her away, even though he had more than ample reason (presumably Melisandra's terrible sacrifice of the young girl was what Jon's able second-in-command wanted him to know last week).

But yeah, this was a great end to a season, with the ships and the dragons already underway, and here's looking forward to the opening episode next year.

See also Game of Thrones 6.1: Where Are the Dragons ... Game of Thrones 6.2: The Waking ... Game of Thrones 6.5: Origin of a Name ... Game of Thrones 6.6: The Exhortation ... Game of Thrones 6.7: Giveth and Taketh ... Game of Thrones 6.8: Strategic Advantage ... Game of Thrones 6.9: A Night for the Light

And see also Game of Thrones 5.1: Unsetting the Table ... Game of Thrones 5.8: The Power of Frigid Death ... Game of Thrones 5.9: Dragon in Action; Sickening Scene with Stannis ... Game of Thrones Season 5 Finale: Punishment

And see also Games of Thrones Season 4 Premiere: Salient Points ... Game of Thrones 4.2: Whodunnit? ... Game of Thrones 4.3: Who Will Save Tyrion ...Game of Thrones 4.4: Glimpse of the Ultimate Battle ... Game of Thrones 4.6: Tyrion on Trial ... Game of Thrones 4.8: Beetles and Battle ...Game of Thrones 4.9: The Fight for Castle Black ... Games of Thrones Season 4 Finale: Woven Threads

And see also Game of Thrones Back in Play for Season 2 ... Game of Thrones 2.2: Cersei vs. Tyrion

And see also A Game of Thrones: My 1996 Review of the First Novel ... Game of Thrones Begins Greatly on HBO ... Game of Thrones 1.2: Prince, Wolf, Bastard, Dwarf ... Games of Thrones 1.3: Genuine Demons ... Game of Thrones 1.4: Broken Things  ... Game of Thrones 1.5: Ned Under Seige ... Game of Thrones 1.6: Molten Ever After ... Games of Thrones 1.7: Swiveling Pieces ... Game of Thrones 1.8: Star Wars of the Realms ... Game of Thrones 1.9: Is Ned Really Dead? ... Game of Thrones 1.10 Meets True Blood

And here's a Spanish article in Semana, the leading news magazine in Colombia, in which I'm quoted about explicit sex on television, including on Game of Thrones.

And see "'Game of Thrones': Why the Buzz is So Big" article in The Christian Science Monitor, 8 April 2014, with my quotes.

Also: CNN article, "How 'Game of Thrones' Is Like America," with quote from me

"I was here, in Carthage, three months from now." 


Hell on Wheels 5.10: Nitroglycerin and Love

Well, I have to hand it to Hell on Wheels in 5.10 last night, delivering one of the best loving-making scenes ever, on television or the movies, as Bohannon and Fong make love with bottles of explosive nitroglycerin teetering on the counter.   They do it passionately but with just the requisite amount of quiet and stillness, and the scene will go down as one for the ages.

The rest of the night showed the awesome explosive power of nitro, in terms of moving the railroad construction along and killing workers if they even breathe too hard in the wrong direction. Bohannon had another good night, with no one that he cared a lot about - including, especially Fong - getting hurt.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the rail, the one approaching from the East under Durant's leadership, we also get some good amorous scenes.  Durant is not my favorite character, but it's good to see him getting a little, and seeing the humanizing effects it's having on him.

Also on AMC, in the hour after and before Hell on Wheels, depending on when you watch, we're being treated to a pretty good docu-drama in The American West.  At this point, Jesse James and his train robberies is one of the main stories - along with Custer, Crazy Horse, and the Indian Wars - and it was fun seeing this paralleled in Hell on Wheels.  Durant kidnapped, and even being brave about it, was good to see.

Of course, Durant is much further west than where Jesse James attacked trains, and it will be interesting to see who this train robber is and how Durant gets out of this.   He obviously no longer has Bohannon to save him, but you never know ...

See also Hell on Wheels 5.1: Rails and Truckee ... Hell on Wheels 5.2: Mei and Cullen ... Hell on Wheels 5.3: Prejudice ... Hell on Wheels 5.8: Letting Him Live? ... Hell on Wheels 5.9: A Good Night for Bohannon

And see also Hell on Wheels 4.1-2: Rolling Again ... Hell on Wheels 4.5: New Blood ... Hell on Wheels 4.6: Bear and Sanity ... Hell on Wheels 4.7: Why? ... Hell on Wheels 4.8: Aftermath and Rebound ... Hell on Wheels 4.9: High Noon ... Hell on Wheels 4.10: A Tale of Two Sicko Killers ... Hell on Wheels 4.11: The Redemption of Ruth ... Hell on Wheels 4.12: Infuriating and Worthwhile ... Hell on Wheels Season 4 Finale: The Buffalo

And see also Hell on Wheels 3.1-2: Bohannan in Command ... Hell on Wheels 3.3: Talking and Walking ... Hell on Wheels 3.4: Extreme Lacrosse ... Hell on Wheels 3.5: The Glove ... Hell on Wheels 3.6: The Man in Charge ...Hell on Wheels 3.7: Water, Water ... Hell on Wheels 3.8: Canterbury Tales ...Hell on Wheels 3.9: Shoot-Out and Truths ... Hell on Wheels Season 3 finale: Train Calling in the Distance

And see also  Hell on Wheels: Blood, Sweat, and Tears on the Track, and the Telegraph ... Hell on Wheels 1.6: Horse vs. Rail ... Hell on Wheels 1.8: Multiple Tracks ... Hell on Wheels 1.9: Historical Inevitable and Unknown ... Hell on Wheels Season One Finale: Greek Tragedy, Western Style

deeper history


Outlander 2.12: Stubborn Fate and Scotland On and Off Screen

I've been especially a fan of Scotland this week - see here - so it was especially good to see Outlander 2.12 last night.  The plot was pretty good, too.

In terms of the larger history which Claire's time travel is trying to change, the Jacobites move to the edge of the Battle of Culloden, which will be their final defeat, despite Jamie's best efforts to change that.   The surprise attack the night before was a fine idea, as was attacking with the split, pincer-delivering force, but the Prince and his dull commander getting lost in the dark was inevitable, as was Jamie's co-commander correctly insisting that attacking the English with just half their force, even by surprise, would be suicide.   So the Battle of Culloden, with the disastrous result as we know from our history, will now presumably happen. (My wife and I visited the Culloden battlefield on our honeymoon in 1976, so I have to admit to being glad that at least my own personal history was not undone.  What would I do if that happened? :)

But this raises the question again of what Outlander is ultimately about. Based on last night and most of this and last season, it is about how the cleverest plans, based on Claire's knowledge of the future, cannot change recalcitrant history.   But the temptation to see it changed continues to loom ...

Meanwhile, we finally get some resolution of the knotty time-travel problem of how Frank, a decent man in the 1940s, can be a direct descendant of his look-alike Black Jack, as ugly in the soul as it gets, some two-hundred years earlier.   Black Jack marrying his brother's lover, who carries his brother's child, was good way of wrapping this up, and it was well played.

Also well played was the final scene between Dougal and his brother Collum, who was one of the most colorful characters in this vividly portrayed story, and I'll miss.  Made me think I wish there was more of the clan this year.   But the season finale beckons in two weeks, and I'll be back with a review after then.

See also 
Outlander 2.1: Split Hour ... Outlander 2.2: The King and the Forest ... Outlander 2.3: Mother and Dr. Dog ... Outlander 2.5: The Unappreciated Paradox ... Outlander 2.6: The Duel and the Offspring ...Outlander 2.7: Further into the Future ... Outlander 2.8: The Conversation ... Outlander 2.9: Flashbacks of the Future ... Outlander 2.10: One True Prediction and Counting ... Outlander 2.11: London Not Falling

And see also Outlander 1.1-3: The Hope of Time Travel ... Outlander 1.6:  Outstanding ... Outlander 1.7: Tender Intertemporal Polygamy ...Outlander 1.8: The Other Side ... Outlander 1.9: Spanking Good ... Outlander 1.10: A Glimmer of Paradox ... Outlander 1.11: Vaccination and Time Travel ... Outlander 1.12: Black Jack's Progeny ...Outlander 1.13: Mother's Day ... Outlander 1.14: All That Jazz ... Outlander Season 1 Finale: Let's Change History

Sierra Waters series, #1, time travel


Friday, June 24, 2016

Why Brexit Victory Does Not Necessarily Foreshadow Trump Success in US

There's been a lot of concern expressed today about why the victory of the Leave the EU voters in the UK may signal the upcoming success of Donald Trump in the US Presidential election later this year.

There's no doubt that Leave the EU (Brexit) was fueled by anti-immigration sentiment in the UK, and that the Brexit victory was carried by white labor voters in the UK.  Further, Trump has indeed built his campaign on the same kind of anti-immigration views, and white Americans, especially men, are among his biggest demographics.

But there's a crucial difference between the demographics of the UK and the US.   In the UK, the white vote comprises about 85% of the voting population;  in the US, the white vote is closer to 70%. Further, the non-white vote in the US - in particular, African-American and Latino - are strongly anti-Trump.

That minority has already served Hillary Clinton very well, bringing her landslide victories in the US South, and an impressive victory in California. There is no reason to think that even a sliver of that vote will go to Trump in the Fall.

In addition, Hillary does far better with white women in the US than Brexit did with white women in the UK.

We still have a very long way to go until our election in November, and the forces of progress need every vote we can get.   But there's every reason to think that Trump and his pandering xenophobia will not have the same result his spiritual brethren got with it in the Brexit victory last night.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Why Due Process is a Red Herring When It Comes to No Fly/No Buy Gun Control

Republicans have been expressing concern that extending the terrorist no-fly list to purchase of guns - the eminently logical idea that no one deemed too dangerous to board a plane should be able to buy a gun - will deprive law-abiding citizens of "due process" if they're placed on the no-fly list and then not allowed to purchase a gun, in violation of their Second Amendment rights.   This is not surprising about the Republicans.

What is surprising is that usually sensible commentators such as Chris Hayes on MSNBC also have expressed such concern, as has the ACLU.   Let's, therefore, unpack this issue.

Placement on the no-fly list indeed happens with no due process.  Anyone placed on this list can of course protest the placement, and be removed from the list, but this could certainly result in months or longer of the inconvenience of not being able to fly.   So why do we do this?   Because we think the danger of a someone flying a plane into the equivalent of the World Trade Center is so grievous that it merits this placement on a no-fly list without a trial or hearing.   And, again, such placement is not permanent, because it can be removed.   John Lewis, who led the brave sit-in the House of Representatives last night has himself been mistakenly put on the list and been removed, as has Yusef Islam aka Cat Stevens (who recorded "Peace Train").

As we've seen most recently in Orlando but tragically in too many other places in the past few years, an assault weapon may not be able to do as much damage as a plane flying into a building, but it can kill dozens of people in almost the blink of an eye.   Surely the keeping of such weapons out of the hands of terrorists and other suspected potential killers is a worthy and reasonable goal, which is what the suggestion of preventing people on the terrorist no-fly list from buying guns is all about.

If denial of due process is the concern, than the terrorist no-fly list itself can be examined, with an eye to how and why people are placed upon it, and what they can do get their names removed.  Certainly making that process much efficient and accurate is a goal that everyone should support.

But tying gun control into it makes no sense and is a red herring.   A no fly/no buy list may indeed be a case of shooting first and asking questions later - metaphorically.  But it's the least we can do to put a dent in terrorists and other maniacs horrendously actually shooting first and authorities asking questions later, which seems to be happening almost every day now.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Periscope Sticks It to House GOP on Gun-Control Sit-In

A great example of the power of social media has been going on all day today:  House of Representative Democrats have been staging a sit-in to get the NRA-whipped Republicans off the dime in enacting new gun control legislation.   The Republicans control the House, and with it the ability of CSPAN to carry House events live to the nation and world.  Unsurprisingly, the cowardly Republican leaders of the House refused to let CSPAN do its job, and cut off its cameras.

But the United States and the world have been seeing what's going on just fine, thanks to CSPAN picking up feeds on Periscope.

This is a big victory for democracy, as well as what social media can do on behalf of freedom. Unregulated by any authority other than the conscience of people who point their smartphones in the right direction with an app like Periscope, social media can bring people the truth when political authorities think it would be better to suppress it.

This is exactly what I've been saying for years, especially in New New Media.   Ultimately, the people are more important than their elected representatives in a democracy, and when the elected representatives do the wrong thing, social media allow the people to correct that.

The Republicans are wrong not only in trying to shut off coverage of the House sit-in, but in saying no to sensible gun reform, which is the reason that House Democrats are sitting in.  The Republicans have a big majority in the House of Representatives, and would no doubt be able to easily defeat any Democratic proposal for gun control.  So why won't they even allow a gun control bill to come to a vote? The answer: the Republicans don't want to be on record as opposing such life-saving legislation. That's why having a video record of what the Democrats want to do - have a vote on a gun control bill - is so important.

We all should vote this Fall for people who want to safeguard our lives as well as our freedoms.

12 Monkeys 2.10: The Drugging

A strong 12 Monkeys 2.10 last night, in which the larger story was about the Nazi origin of the villains who are trying to destroy time and the world in the future, but the micro-story was the fissioning of the relationship between Cole, Cassie, and Ramse.

This has been building up for a while.   But the straw that breaks our lead time-traveler's back is his drugging by Cassie and Ramse, after the doc technician in 2044 goes against Jones' order and sends the team back to the early 1960s not the late 1950s.

I don't blame Cole for being furious.  Actually drugging him to get their plan in action is a new low blow, whatever their conviction that their plan is the only way to go.  What this tells Cole is that he can no longer trust either his best friend or the woman he loves.

Worse, he had been indicating to Cassie that he loves her in the past few episodes.  We're supposed to think that Cassie on some level loves Cole, too, but her head being inhabited by the arch-villain has permanently messed up her soul to the point where she can't reciprocate.  Too bad, I like Cole and Cassie together.

Jennifer was completely out of this episode, and she and Jones are the only allies Cole has left.  I can't say reliable, because fortunately nothing is reliable in this set-up, but I certainly prefer Jennifer and her innate insanity to Cassie's, imposed and a consequence of her mind being inhabited.

Meanwhile, the two most important lasting consequences of the episode loom large in future.  Agent Gale will be missed - he was an excellent temporal character, in both times - though, come to think of it, he did tell Cole he's seen a lot of him, much to Cole's surprise, who recalls seeing him just once in the 1940s, and you know what that means in a time-travel tale: we may well see Gale again, and that's good (though will Cole warn Gale of his death in Germany? - tough call).  And the second is the piece torn off the wall map or whatever it was with the information about Titan.  Ramse has this. He's now under lock and key in the future.  But he won't be there for long ...

See also 12 Monkeys 2.1: Whatever Will Be, Will Be ... 12 Monkeys 2.2: The Serum ... 12 Monkeys 2.3: Primaries and Paradoxes ... 12 Monkeys 2.4: Saving Time ... 12 Monkeys 2.5: Jennifer's Story ... 12 Monkeys 2.6: "'Tis Death Is Dead" ... 12 Monkeys 2.7: Ultimate Universes ... 12 Monkeys 2.8: Time Itself Wants Time Travel ... 12 Monkeys 2.9: Hands On

And see also this Italian review, w/reference to Hawking and my story, "The Chronology Protection Case"

And see also 12 Monkeys series on SyFy: Paradox Prominent and Excellent ...12 Monkeys 1.2: Your Future, His Past ... 12 Monkeys 1.3:  Paradoxes, Lies, and Near Intersections ... 12 Monkeys 1.4: "Uneasy Math" ... 12 Monkeys 1.5: The Heart of the Matter ... 12 Monkeys 1.6: Can I Get a Witness? ... 12 Monkeys 1.7: Snowden, the Virus, and the Irresistible ... 12 Monkeys 1.8: Intelligent Vaccine vs. Time Travel ... 12 Monkeys 1.9: Shelley, Keats, and Time Travel ... 12 Monkey 1.10: The Last Jump ... 12 Monkeys 1.11: What-Ifs ... 12 Monkeys 1.2: The Plunge ... 12 Monkeys Season 1 Finale: "Time Travel to Create Time Travel"


podcast review of Predestination and 12 Monkeys