Striking Terror In The Remaining Republicans

Meghan McCain1

Meghan McCain really is scaring some conservatives at The New York Post. The article concludes, “Meghan, they’re using you to make the GOP look broken and stupid; and I can only imagine you’re using them for fame.” Sure, she is using them and her last name for fame which she otherwise would never have  achieved. Others in the GOP have already done enough to make the party not only look but be broken and stupid.

Obama Promoting Health Care Reform

Barack Obama has been promoting health care reform this week in both his weekly address (video above) and in an op-ed in The New York Times.  Here’s a portion of his weekly address, with full transcript here:

But now’s the hard part. Because the history is clear – every time we come close to passing health insurance reform, the special interests with a stake in the status quo use their influence and political allies to scare and mislead the American people.

As an example, let’s look at one of the scarier-sounding and more ridiculous rumors out there – that so-called “death panels” would decide whether senior citizens get to live or die. That rumor began with the distortion of one idea in a Congressional bill that would allow Medicare to cover voluntary visits with your doctor to discuss your end-of-life care – if and only if you decide to have those visits. It had nothing to do with putting government in control of your decisions; in fact, it would give you all the information you need – if you want it – to put you in control of your decisions. When a conservative Republican Senator who has long-fought for even more far-reaching proposals found out how folks were twisting the idea, he called their misrepresentation, and I quote, “nuts.”

So when folks with a stake in the status quo keep inventing these boogeymen in an effort to scare people, it’s disappointing, but it’s not surprising. We’ve seen it before. When President Roosevelt was working to create Social Security, opponents warned it would open the door to “federal snooping” and force Americans to wear dog tags. When President Kennedy and President Johnson were working to create Medicare, opponents warned of “socialized medicine.” Sound familiar? Not only were those fears never realized, but more importantly, those programs have saved the lives of tens of millions of seniors, the disabled, and the disadvantaged.

Those who would stand in the way of reform will say almost anything to scare you about the cost of action. But they won’t say much about the cost of inaction. If you’re worried about rationed care, higher costs, denied coverage, or bureaucrats getting between you and your doctor, then you should know that’s what’s happening right now. In the past three years, over 12 million Americans were discriminated against by insurance companies due to a preexisting condition, or saw their coverage denied or dropped just when they got sick and needed it most. Americans whose jobs and health care are secure today just don’t know if they’ll be next to join the 14,000 who lose their health insurance every single day. And if we don’t act, average family premiums will keep rising to more than $22,000 within a decade.

On the other hand, here’s what reform will mean for you.

First, no matter what you’ve heard, if you like your doctor or health care plan, you can keep it. If you don’t have insurance, you’ll finally be able to afford insurance. And everyone will have the security and stability that’s missing today.

Insurance companies will be prohibited from denying you coverage because of your medical history, dropping your coverage if you get sick, or watering down your coverage when it counts – because there’s no point in having health insurance if it’s not there when you need it.

Insurance companies will no longer be able to place some arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year or lifetime, and we will place a limit on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses – because no one in America should go broke just because they get sick.

Finally, we’ll require insurance companies to cover routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms and colonoscopies – because there’s no reason we shouldn’t be saving lives and dollars by catching diseases like breast cancer and prostate cancer on the front end.

That’s what reform means. For all the chatter and the noise out there, what every American needs to know is this: If you don’t have health insurance, you will finally have quality, affordable options once we pass reform. If you do have health insurance, we will make sure that no insurance company or government bureaucrat gets between you and the care that you need. And we will deliver this in a fiscally responsible way.

SciFi Weekend: Enterprise; The Plan; Landing in LA; Hugo Awards; Rory Gilmore All Grown Up (with Matt Saracen); and Racy Pics of Doctor Who Companions reports on a panel held by Manny Coto and Brannon Braga at the annual Star Trek Las Vegas Convention. While I think there were far more problems with Enterprise to worry about than this, some fans were upset with the way the show ended. The final episode was intended as an homage to the previous shows involving the Enterprise and ended with Will Ryker and Deanna Troi looking back at the events of  Archer’s Enterprise on the holodeck. Braga took the blame for this:

I will take full blame for that episode, for those that didn’t like it. In retrospect, it was a very cool idea, that in the end was a mistake. The concept was was to have Manny do a final two-part finale, but then have a final final episode send a valentine to all of Star Trek over the last eighteen years. We just thought it would be a cool concept to show the Next Generation’s crew looking back, though the holodeck, at Archer’s crew. It is a high concept, but I am not sure it came together.

While the show had many faults, it was finally staring to show some promise in its fourth season when Coto took over as show runner. The show was at its best when it had episodes foreshadowing events of the earlier Star Trek series (which took place after the events of this prequel series).  There was talk of what was planned if the series had survived for a fifth season:

  • Coto wanted to revisit the Mirror Universe on a regular basis with four or five episodes spread through the season as a “mini-series within a series.” Mike Sussman and Coto had discussed places to go with it and it was “big regret” not getting chance
  • The two main things they wanted to do with S5 was the “origins of the Federation” and the “begin whispers of the Romulan War”, and tying those two together
  • No other major villains were planned to be introduced, the Romulans were going to be the big villain, but would have new ones within new ‘mini-arcs’
  • Rick and Brannon thought Future Guy was “probably going to be a Romulan” and would tie into the Romulan War with a future Romulan trying to “instigate” things
  • They wanted to make Shran a regular character

I think spending so much time in the Mirror Universe would have been a mistake unless they had some really fantastic stories for this, but I do like the idea of tying the show into the Romulan war which has often been mentioned as past history in other Star Trek series.  It would have been best to stay away from the temporal cold war, but a brief arc tying it into the Romulan war would have at least provided some rational for that aspect of the series. Of course we’ve now seen another major Star Trek story involving a Romulan changing history in the latest Star Trek movie.

I always hate it when a few days following a major television event a DVD is released with an expanded version. It’s not that I mind paying for the DVD but that after watching a show once there is far too much to do for me to be likely to watch an expanded version of the same show soon afterward. They are doing it the right way with Battlestar Galactica: The Plan. The episode will premier on DVD and Blu Ray on October 27, 2009 including “some great footage that we are not able to show on TV.” The pilot for Caprica has been released on DVD with scenes which definitely cannot be shown on TV. I’m sure hoping that the scenes from The Plan which cannot be shown on television involve Six (Tricia Helfer). An added plus is that, as I do not receive the SyFy Channel in high definition, I’ll be able to watch the show in Blu Ray without waiting until after it is aired for an HD version.

There has been considerable speculation that the bomb which was detonated in the season finale of Lost did work, changing the timeline. In theory if the bomb did work Oceanic 815 would not have crashed and the flight would have landed in Los Angeles. TV Guide reports that Greg Grunberg (of Heroes), who pilot Seth Norris of Oceanic flight 815 in the first episode, has been asked to return to the show. Grunberg’s character did not survive, but would still be around if the plane did not crash. Grunberg says he was given no information as to what they are planning for his character.

There are also unconfirmed rumors that the title of the two hour season premier is LA X. This presumably refers to landing in Los Angeles, but there also might be significance to placing the space between LA and X.

The 2009 Hugo Award winners have been announced:

  • Best Novel: The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins; Bloomsbury UK)
  • Best Novella: “The Erdmann Nexus”, Nancy Kress (Asimov’s Oct/Nov 2008)
  • Best Novelette: “Shoggoths in Bloom”, Elizabeth Bear (Asimov’s Mar 2008)
  • Best Short Story: “Exhalation”, Ted Chiang (Eclipse Two)
  • Best Related Book: Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008, John Scalzi (Subterranean Press)
  • Best Graphic Story: Girl Genius, Volume 8: Agatha Heterodyne and the Chapel of Bones, Written by Kaja & Phil Foglio, art by Phil Foglio, colors by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: WALL-E Andrew Stanton & Pete Docter, story; Andrew Stanton & Jim Reardon, screenplay; Andrew Stanton, director (Pixar/Walt Disney)
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Joss Whedon, & Zack Whedon, & Jed Whedon, & Maurissa Tancharoen, writers; Joss Whedon, director (Mutant Enemy)
  • Best Editor Short Form: Ellen Datlow
  • Best Editor Long Form: David G. Hartwell
  • Best Professional Artist: Donato Giancola
  • Best Semiprozine: Weird Tales, edited by Ann VanderMeer & Stephen H. Segal
  • Best Fan Writer: Cheryl Morgan
  • Best Fanzine: Electric Velocipede edited by John Klima
  • Best Fan Artist: Frank Wu

The above trailer is out for Post Grad, which is most notable for combining Alexis Bledel (Gilmore Girls and Sin City) with Zach Gilford (Matt Saracen of Friday Night Lights–what would Julie say?) Rory Gilmore has sure grown up. Besides appearing as a doctor in the series finale of ER, she is on the cover of WWD:

Old posts about Gilmore Girls continue to receive attention, with many wondering what Amy Sherman-Palladino had planned for her final four words to the series if she had not left for the final season.  Here’s one report as to the final four words: “Rory, you were adopted.”

No, don’t freak out. Amy Sherman-Palladino was just joking about this possibility.

Besides the sort of couple of Rory Gilmore and Matt Saracen, there is another couple of interest on television tonight. It took a while to recognize her, but Jemma, Ray’s love interest on Hung, is played by Natalie Zea. She recently played Karen Darling on Dirty Sexy Money. I guess things didn’t work out with Nick (Peter Krause).

Besides Hung, there are two even more significant shows on television tonight. True Blood has been fantastic all season creating a tough choice between this show and Alan Ball’s previous series, Six Feet Under (with cast including Peter Krause) for best show ever on television. The really big even of the night is the start of the third season of Mad Men.

Looking back on the shows mentioned shows how things have changed for broadcast television. It is common for shows on HBO and Showtime to surpass network shows in quality and any list of the best shows in recent years would be dominated by pay cable. Even basic cable is often beating out network television in quality with recent shows including  Mad Men, Battlestar Galactica, the various Star Trek series, and Gilmore Girls. Even Friday Night Lights, often considered the best written network series couple seasons, has had to work out a deal with a satelite network to survive.

Since I posted pictures of Karen Gillan, the next companion on Doctor Who, in a bikini last week more scantily clad pictures of Gillan have surfaced on the internet, such as the almost topless one above. Finding on line pictures of The Doctor’s companions is a way in which following the show has changed from the early days of the show when there was no internet. I guess it is only appropriate that this has become commonplace with Steven Moffat taking over as show runner. Steven Taylor, Moffat’s alter ego on Coupling, has noted how the internet was formed to become the world’s largest repository for porn. If someone had a real Tardis the could really create excitement by posting some of the pictures of Billie Piper (Rose Tylor) in her role as Hannah/Belle on Secret Diary of a Call Girl after she left Doctor Who (especially if going beyond the very tame ones in the examples below).

Is Ariel Vacationing in Israel?


There have been claims of mermaid sightings in a small town in Israel with hopes of spurring tourism. ABC News reports:

Dozens of excited visitors gather every evening on the seashore near the Israeli town of Kiryat Yam, near Haifa.

They are all desperate to catch a glimpse of the area’s latest star attraction, a mermaid.

According to numerous eyewitnesses, the mythical sea creature looks like a cross between a little girl and a dolphin, and only comes out at sunset. “People are telling us they are sure they have seen the mermaid and they are all independent of each other,” said Natti Zilberman, a local council spokesman.

The creature, according to the fast-growing local legend, performs a series of acrobatic tricks before disappearing beneath the Mediterranean waves.

Whatever the truth of the tale, it has done wonders for the tourist economy.

Local officials are now offering a cash prize of $1 million for the first tourist to take a photograph of the mermaid.

“I believe if there really is a mermaid,” Zilberman said, “then so many people will come to Kiryat Yam, a lot more money will be made than $1 million.”

Facebook Might Be Taking Over Your Entire On Line Life

Social media sites seem to come and go in popularity but Facebook is trying to position itself to not only survive but to be the site which aggregates everything you do on line. The Washington Post sees their acquisition of FriendFeed as an important step in this direction. Here is what the author envisions:

The goal is to make automatic that which is all too annoying to do manually. If I like an article enough to Digg it, why should I then have to tell all my friends via Facebook or Twitter, as well? The social-media landscape has become disparate enough — so many start-ups controlling so many different pieces of our lives — that we need a central place that will organize all of our actions for us. That place is FriendFeed.

Facebook has recently shown that it, too, wants to be that place. For all of its genius in harnessing the collective procrastination of an entire planet, Facebook has usually asked you to come to it. For example, want to post photos on Flickr but not Facebook? Good luck telling your Facebook friends about it. In the past, while Facebook was building an audience, this walled garden helped it build its audience. If all your friends were on Facebook, then why not post your pictures there? After all, the point of digital photography in 2009 is to relive memories with the very group of people that lived through them in the first place. That group is most likely found on Facebook.

As with many computer and on line tools, success will be largely based upon how well they implement this. It has to be simple enough that people will quickly adopt it, but complex enough to allow for individualized restrictions. Some people would love the idea of their entire on-line life being easily shared, while others do prefer some degree of compartmentalization.