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“Dragnet” is so meta

2015-08-30T23:41:39+00:00

The definition of “meta” with respect to art, is something that is self-referential.

I spent the weekend driving around Los Angeles listening to old radio episodes of “Dragnet,” which is a police procedural series that was set in and broadcast from Los Angeles from 1949 to 1957. (The radio show was successful enough to create a television series of the same name, starring some of the same people, from 1951 to 1959.) It was interesting to listen to radio history, bridging decades of time to today, in the same locale where the show was set. And it certainly made the time spent slogging through the thick LA traffic of today much more bearable.

I love the old radio ads for Fatima and Chesterfield cigarettes. Especially how the Chesterfield ads proclaimed that a two-year medical study had shown that Chesterfield smokers suffered no ill effects from smoking. Fatima was discontinued by 1980, but Chesterfields are still sold today, especially in Europe (no doubt a holdover from the World War II popularity of the brand).

JackWebbFatima

“Bunco” means “confidence swindle.”

I had nothing to do with it

2015-08-30T23:28:07+00:00

I went to Big Bear Lake today. It’s a “resort” area around a largish lake at about 2,000 meters in the San Bernardino National Forest. I say “resort” because it’s small compared to some of the large ones in Colorado. But it’s pretty anyway. It’s certainly the nicest mountain resort area that I’ve seen near Los Angeles. Which means it’s the only mountain resort area that I’ve seen near Los Angeles

About an hour after I left, a brush fire was discovered on California 18, the road I was on. I saw the fire on the news when I got back to my hotel.

Just to be clear, I had nothing to do with it. But I’m very glad I left before it was discovered, or I would have had a difficult time getting home.

Adam Ant and Gary Numan talk about marketing themselves

2015-08-29T11:55:17+00:00

Fascinating. A mini-documentary with Adam Ant and Gary Numan talking about how they marketed themselves and how they handled their stardom. And how their stardom hurt them.

Friday night drive-through traffic jams

2015-08-29T00:49:35+00:00

It is a full moon on a Friday night in Los Angeles. Although some scientists decry claims that crime and other deviant behaviors spike during a full moon, ask any emergency room technician, and they will tell you that full-moon nights are a zoo. Friday night full-moons doubly so.

The laundromat was quiet, though. I’m not a fan of laundromats, but if the hotel has no laundry facilities, there’s really no choice. And the fact is that I would rather spend an hour or two in a laundromat than in a bar or a restaurant. It’s relatively quiet, no one expects you to talk, and you can read. Or you can watch Spanish-language soccer on television.

I read some of Robert Conquest’s excellent history of Stalinist horror, “The Great Terror.” I may read it as a bedtime story to some young children I know. They’re so young, it wouldn’t matter what the subject was. It’s all in the tone of voice that you use, just like with animals. You can describe the show trials and executions of Soviet citizens in calm, soothing tones, and it will put the children right to sleep. And perhaps some of the lessons will stick with them, so they will remember not to vote Democrat when they grow up. Because the descendants of those Stalin-era Communists are today’s Democrats, and we don’t want The Great Terror to be repeated. Though it probably will anyway.

On the way home from the laundromat, I stopped at an In-N-Out, which is a local fast food hamburger chain. Their food is very good, but their service is typically very slow, because it’s always crowded. I don’t know what I expected on a Friday night, but the drive-through line snaked around the building into the street, and a crowd of teenagers milled around in front.

After five minutes of not moving, I cut out of the drive-through line and into the Wendy’s across the street. Where that drive-through line was just as long, and was also not moving.

After another five minutes of not moving, I decided I didn’t need to eat, and I went back to the hotel.

Presumably both those lines of cars are still sitting there. It will be a long night for them.

Random news

2015-08-28T09:08:19+00:00

So nearly 70 percent of the findings published in psychology experiments cannot be replicated. I think that’s funny.

I’m not one to suggest that the United States should emulate Canada in anything, but I think the Canadian penchant for insisting that companies prove that a Canadian worker is not available, before they can hire a foreign worker to fill a job, is a good idea. Because the H1-B visa program is clearly being abused by US corporations (such as Disney, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and others) to hire foreign workers to replace US workers. I think the H1-B program should be ended completely. Or, charge the companies a stiff fee for every H1-B visa they apply for, and if the visa is denied or unfilled, they lose the application fee. That would help reduce abuses of the system. But I think it might be best to follow Canada’s onerous bureaucracy, in this one instance. Make the company prove that there are no domestic workers who can do the job that the foreign worker can. In Canada, for some specialties, it’s not that hard to do. ;-) In the US, I think it would be.

Thank goodness at least one federal judge had the courage to block the EPA’s latest power grab, the 2015 reinterpretation of the 40-year-old “Clean Water Act,” which would give the federal government more power to regulate “small waterways” like a stream or pond in your yard. Big government is a major problem, and the EPA is a significant part of that problem. It needs to be reined in, not given free rein to impose its bureaucratic whims.

TNT should renew “Proof”

2015-08-28T08:52:44+00:00

One of the only television shows I watched regularly this past season was TNT’s “Proof,” starring Jennifer Beals, about a surgeon who is hired by a dying billionaire to investigate life after death. It’s one of the best dramas out there, in my opinion. They gave a fairly good representation of the research that’s been done, and of the experiences typical people have when they die. It’s a well-written show; not religious, not preachy, not overly skeptical. It’s about a scientist trying to investigate the unknown and the unknowable objectively, even as her own experiences with death make it very difficult to be objective.

Jennifer Beals is a strong actress, capable of a wide range of emotional expression. She tends to play “bossy” women, but she’s good at it, as she is in this series. The rest of the cast is also strong. The only weak character is Beals’ TV husband, played by David Sutcliffe. Sutcliffe is an experienced actor who’s worked steadily for 20 years, with several long-term series under his belt, so I attribute his character’s two-note performance(devotion to his wife versus contempt for her investigation into death) to weak writing, not poor acting.

It’s nice to see Callum Blue from “Dead Like Me,” and Annie Thurman gives a nuanced, sensitive portrayal of a teenager, which is a nice change from the broadly-played teenage characters on other shows.

TNT should renew “Proof.” Will they?

The cult of climate change

2015-08-27T10:39:36+00:00

I thought this essay made some very good points about climate change activists behaving as a religious cult, although I think the author misunderstands Archimedes’ principle.

I just think it’s a good thing that the climate change activists weren’t around 12,000 years ago, when the land bridge between Siberia and Alaska became submerged. They would have complained endlessly about the impending apocalypse, and would have demanded government funding to build dikes to hold back the water, build a bridge over the water, or operate a ferry across the new Bering Strait. How lucky are we to live in modern times, when activists merely demand that everyone stop burning fossil fuels so that the evil carbon dioxide doesn’t melt the ice and make the sea levels rise. As if causality has been even remotely established (it has not).

I think climate change activists should take a more proactive step toward combating evil carbon dioxide, and simply avoid exhaling. That would also mean they would stop whining. Everyone wins.

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