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Showing posts from 2019

2020 Presidential Bracketology updated

Previously, had this bracket and just recently, there was the debate field of 20.

Thursday, June 27, 2019:
Marianne Williamson,
John Hickenlooper
Andrew Yang
Pete Buttigieg
Joe Biden
Bernie Sanders
Kamala Harris
Kirsten Gillibrand
Michael Bennet
Eric Swalwell

Wednesday, June 26, 2019:
Bill de Blasio
Tim Ryan
Julián Castro
Cory Booker
Elizabeth Warren
Beto O’Rourke
Amy Klobuchar
Tulsi Gabbard
Jay Inslee
John Delaney

Thus, the updated brackets:

Left regional

Warren SandersBookerGillibrandRyande Blasio I think Warren has gained some ground while Sanders is re-running the 2016 campaign. Admittedly, Sanders is better at it than in 2016 but the field is more crowded. The rest of this regional is lagging behind and the rankings are essentially interchangeable. 
Governance centrist regional BidenKlobucharHickenlooperInsleeDelaneyBennet Within the regional itself, I don't think much has changed as Biden has a huge advantage as the former VP. However, his standing relative to the other candid…

Star Trek Discovery Season Two Episodes 13 and 14 - Season Finale Two-parter

"Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow"
From Romeo and Juliet
By William Shakespeare

***
Beware

Spoilers

Ahead
***

And so the Disco Season Two two parter was named, "Such Sweet Sorrow" as there were many partings in the season finale.

The Disco crew records emotional farewell messages to their loved ones as they prepare to take their ship to the future.

Fans say good-bye to Pike, Spock, Number One, and NCC-1701.

Burnham is separated from Spock, Amanda, Sarek, and Tyler, perhaps forever.

Additionally, Cornwell sacrifices herself to save the Enterprise. And as the show takes a new direction, Chancellor La'Rell will no longer be bringing her unique flair to the proceedings.

As I've been saying all along, the acting and character development has been solid as has the production design. In this two-parter, we get all the character moments of the rah-rah variety as well as the tear-jerker ones in good measure.

Some observations and complaints in no…

Liverpool 4 Barcelona 3 (agg)

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Screen grab from the Liverpool Echo.


Messi's magic gave Barcelona the 3-0 lead in the semi-finals.

But the atmosphere of Anfield brought what could be considered one of the biggest comebacks in European football history!

It was truly a team effort by LFC.

Two goals by Origi who started in place of Firmino who was injured.

Two goals by Wijnaldum the sub who came in at half-time for the injured Robertson.

Two assists by the youngster Alexander-Arnold.

One assist by Shaqiri who started in place of the injured Salah.

Mane didn't get on the score sheet but was a threat.

Becker got some big saves in goal to preserve the clean sheet.

Henderson and Milner, the quiet midfielders were where they needed to be on offense and defense.

Center backs Matip and van Dijk and D-mid Fabinho patrolled the field - you can't stop Barcelona from getting their chances but you can attempt to limit them so they don't completely over-run your club and these guys made Suarez and Messi earn their c…

Star Trek Discovery Episode 2.12

The second season is over with the two-part finale but I’m still playing catch up having seen episode 12 the set-up for the finale .....

*** Beware ***

*** Spoilers ***

*** Ahead ***

Two arcs in latest episode and as always the acting and production values are superb but story line a bit muddled. In arc A, we follow Pike’s visit to Klingon monastic planet Boreth and Anson Mount knocks it out of the park. He chooses his fate willingly consistent with his character. But the premise of a sealed fate for him is opposite of “open destiny” that was the emotional finish to episode 11. Also whole time crystals idea seems haphazard to me and allows for “deus ex machina” options for the writer’s room.

Meanwhile in arc B, Spock and Michael face Control that looks a lot like the Star Gate SG-1 adversary The Replicators! We all could guess it was a trap and was just waiting for how it would be sprung. As for the story line, what is Control’s obsession with Michael? Does Control have time travel kn…

2020 Presidential candidate bracketology?

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With March Madness just concluded, it is time to attempt 2020 Presidential Candidate bracketology!

I think there are four broad category of candidates:

Governance centrists regional - Joe Biden would be a prime example of someone who has been in the system a long time. As a seasoned senator and vice-president, he has immediate name recognition and a measure of credibility as having "been there and done that." It is hard to say who else is running to fit that role. However, I'm listing the governors (Hickenlooper and Inslee) in this regional. Governors almost always have to be more moderate and make deals to get things done. Senator Klobuchar is the most "moderate" of the Democratic senators. If you look at her rating at 538, she has voted with the Trump position 30% of the time. That number is high compared to other senators running for President. She has pitched herself as from the Mid-West and more moderate compared to the coastal Senators also running. Dela…

Star Trek Discovery Episode 2.11

I’m still catching up so don’t tell me about 2.12 yet and I’ve only just digested 2.11!

*** Beware ***

*** Spoilers ***

*** Below ***

Hmmmm…… am not sure I’m okay with where the writer’s room is going …..

Leland has been taken over by the Control AI and it sure looks Borg-ish! Don’t think they really need to go there. Maybe they will pull back from it but the visual style sure looks Borg-ey!

Techno-boo-boo alert: In the previous episode, Leland had to LEAVE the bridge to over-ride the computer so they can get more power to close the wormhole???

That would be very poor starship design. Have never seen any other crew member leave the bridge to over-ride the computer! Of course, the scriptwriters had to get him off the bridge so the Control AI could poke him in the eye!

Dr. Burnham (Sonja Son) was well acted. Her half-defeated, half-defiant demeanor would make a lot of sense for someone who has been time traveling to fix the impending disaster only to find whatever she does actually doesn…

Star Trek Discovery Ep 2.10

Star Trek Discovery Ep 2.10 - the Red Angel

With the season coming toward a close, the scriptwriters are going to try to write themselves out of the corner they painted themselves into.

*** Spoilers ahead ***

The opening was the farewell to Airiam who was lost at the end of the last episode. The cast and crew shared their feelings in their remembrances of her. Nicely done.

The story then took the first twist when Tilly barged into a meeting with the information she found about Project Daedalus and the identity of the Red Angel …… Michael Burnham. Dr. Culber than reports the bio-neural signature was a 100% match. Of course, all of this sets the audience up for the second twist at the end when the Disco team spring their mousetrap for the Red Angel and Burnham shouts in recognition, “Mom?”

Argh.

Would Burnham’s “bio-neural” signature be a 100% match to her mom’s?

Children have 50% of their DNA from each parent, so would that apply to their “bio-neural” signature? Somewhat dishonest b…

Latest political news .......

The news of the Mueller report's AG summary seemed expected. Of course, it sounds like a scrubbed version of the full report will be released to Congress and the public at some point in the near future.

In following the story, it seemed to me that many experts thought the Trump campaign was so disorganized that they could not pull off such a conspiracy. Some have thought the run for the presidency was the ultimate Trump PR game and the campaign was just as shocked as anyone that they actually won.

Unless something else comes up fairly soon, I would think level headed Democrats will shelf any impeachment talk. The Constitutional method to remove a President is defeating the President in the next election. If the Democrats run anyone even sort of near competent and close to the center they should win a landslide and they will LOVE the electoral college once again! On the other hand, if they run a far-left candidate, they could snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

The Mueller team…

Star Trek Discovery 2.8

Hats off to the script writers for how they integrated the oldest part of Star Trek with this current flavor of the show.

What I wonder about is how well do ST fans who do NOT know the story of The Cage (first pilot) and TOS The Menagerie (2-parter that recycled The Cage) feel about the latest episode? Was the “previously” enough to get them up to speed along with some of the exposition within the episode?

Anyway, some quick observations about the latest story. The “canon police” will note that the shuttle craft computer (voiced by Julianne Grossman) provided more information about Talos IV than you would think for a forbidden world. Perhaps, the writers felt that factoid would help those not familiar with Talos IV. On the issue of nitpicks, Starbase 11 is said to be 2 light years from Talos IV? Is there anyone in the writer’s room that knows even a little about astronomical distances?

The black hole visualization seemed to be a visual homage to the film Interstellar. On the planet,…

Star Trek Discovery 2.9

At a micro or personal level, I thought this episode was top notch. At a macro or conceptual level, I have some lingering concerns.

*** Spoilers ***

*** Below ***



Will start with the micro/personal level and give a huge hat tip to Hannah Cheesman (Airiam), scriptwriter (Michelle Paradise), and director (Jonathan Frakes). One story motif in Star Trek history is the death of anonymous Red Shirt personnel. Disco turned that one upside down with a nearly anonymous Blue Shirt crashing into an asteroid in the season two opener. In this episode, we get a moving backstory that setup the poignant demise of one of the bridge crew members. The performance by the entire cast highlighted the sadness of Lt. Cmdr. Airiam’s death as we got to know more about her in this episode only to see her killed in the climatic act of this episode where her passage was in the tradition of Star Trek’s high ideals. The end credits rolled with the sound of ocean waves made me think of how 24 would honor the loss o…

Star Trek Discovery 2.7

It was a transitional and expositional episode. The scriptwriters had to advance the story line about the Red Bursts and the Red Angel on one hand. And on the other hand, they had to finally get Spock onto the screen. Both were accomplished but as a result the episode as a stand-alone entity didn’t feel like much happened. It serves as a bridge to the latter half of season 2 but that was about it.

*** spoilers ahead ***

Okay, so we have had hints the Red Angel might be a time-traveler and this episode seems to go headlong in that direction when Tyler and Pike take the shuttle into the spatial-temporal anomaly. The igniting of the plasma on the shuttle was an easter egg for TOS fans who remember that same move in “The Galileo Seven.”

We shall see how the writers room works out the Red Angel story. It is still not clear whether the actions of the Red Angel are good or bad for Disco and the inhabitants of their timeline. The whole idea of altering the past to change the future is well …

Star Trek Discovery Tangent - Philosophy of Mind and Dr. Culber's Return

I wonder what philosophy of mind people make of Culber’s return?

How long does someone have to be brain dead for the physicalist to say the mind is dead? 
Is the restoration of Culber’s body being inexact from his prior state the cause for his mind to feel not fully himself?

At the moment, the physicalist model could fit the story.

However, I suppose a dualist would say the fact that he feels in his mind something has changed is a reflection of the persistence of his mind from his previous body?

For an academic discussion of the entire Star Trek canon in light of the "Mind-Body" problem in philosophy, check out this item published in the Science Fiction Research Association.


Star Trek Discovery Episode 2.6 - good moments but muddleheaded on some plot points

Am finally all caught up.

Episode 2.6 was a frantic story with some good moments (Doug Jones and company are fantastic actors) but overall it left me feeling unsatisfied due to some of the plot points.

As I have mentioned on many previous occasions that I accept that “suspension of disbelief” is a part of story telling and in particular science fiction story telling. On this occasion, I believe the scriptwriters tried to stuff too many things into this story and though individual moments work the whole thing falls down.

*** Spoilers ahead ***

Once again the red bursts and the red angel lead the Disco team on another errand of mercy. However, on this occasion, it is less clear that a positive outcome was assured. To recap, the first time they went to a signal, they found a crashed Star Fleet ship and rescued that crew before the asteroid crushed it. In the second signal, they went to a planet that was going to get wiped out by radioactive rocks dislodged from its ring system. In both c…

Star Trek 2.4-2.5 "Things are not always what they seem"

I think you could call the various story lines in episodes 4 and 5 as variations on the theme: “things are not always what they seem.”

*** Beware spoilers ahead ***

In these two episodes there are various situations where it appears one way at first and as the story unfolds, it turns out to be something else: the giant alien globe that snags the Discovery out of warp, Saru entering into the phase of death when Kelpiens either get culled by the aliens that dominate his home world or go mad, “May the ghost” that only Tilly can see, and the species May belongs to are fighting “a monster” that is wrecking the portion of the mycelial network they inhabit.

I think this message of “things are not always what they seem” is a good message as a life lesson. As for how well they work in the respective story threads that is more of a mixed bag. Certainly, the actors play it out extremely well and so as aways I’m a fan of how well they work things out even if sometimes the material they get to wor…

Wide World of Soccer February 2019 - the six teams I follow

Time for the expectations round up!

QPR and Liverpool are now in the second half of their seasons.

QPR is constrained by the FFP sanctions so I had forecasted: "At the low end for QPR is the practical goal of AVOIDING relegation [.....] There are 24 teams in the Championship so the bottom half is 13-24 and the upper half of that is 13-18. If they get to 18, they should throw a parade around Loftus Road!"

QPR stands at 18th but have been on a losing streak of late. They are 10 points clear of the relegation zone but the Championship season is 46 matches. Come on you R's, you gotta stay in the Championship!

As for Liverpool FC, my forecast: "a lively race for the title (win or lose) would be wonderful for the long disappointed Liverpool fans. Winning a title of any kind would be nice as well (League Cup, FA Cup, Champions League, or Premier League)."

They are in a close contest with Man City and Tottenham. They crashed out of FA and League Cup. Tonight, they play…

Star Trek Discovery 2.3 - a mom's life & a pro-life message?

Good Disco.

Bad Disco.

Good ST-Discovery is the characters and the actors bringing them to life.

Bad ST-Discovery is the multiple story arcs on the assumption more is better.

Story line 1 - the red bursts/red angel
Story line 2 - the complicated lives of Sarek/Amanda/Michael/Spock (he is some how connected to the red burst/red angel)
Story line 3 - Tilly and the alien entity
Story line 4 - Klingon royal palace intrigue
Story line 5 - Michelle Yeoh's character is now part of Section 31

I would hope the writer's room will not be giving equal weight to all five balls they have juggled into the air! Will they all get mashed together into a mass of confusion and dis-satisfaction?

In this episode, in brief, the complex lives and hard times of being a mom in the far away future yet having age old challenges.

Amanda, Spock's mother and wife of Sarek, hasn't had much to do in previous flavors of Star Trek and so it is great to see her life get filled in a bit. Everyone can rela…

Star Trek Discovery 2.2 - science and religious faith in this episode

I think Star Trek is at its best when they lean into the “explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations.” This happens on the “away missions” and especially on ones when the question of whether the “prime directive” applies. Thus, the episode “New Eden” had both elements going for it and I enjoyed it very much.

In the story, the scriptwriters advance the “Red Burst” signal story line some more and raise questions about the role of faith in society.

First, a quick science inquiry about the “Red Burst” signals: are these light based phenomena?

Certainly, it seems so from the way they are described. Science nerds will know that light travels fast. Science nerds will also know that in the scale of the galaxy and interstellar space the distances are vast even at light speed! Thus, if the latest “Red Burst” signal was determined to be ~ 50,000 light years away in the Beta Quadrant, and the Burst is a light based phenomena (like observing a supernova - an exploding s…

LA Galaxy - hmmmm ....

Polenta and Antuna officially announced.

Still no word on how they are going to get down from 4 DPs to 3.

Latest rumor is a restructured contract for Giovani dos Santos that extends him but at a level below DP.

That was also rumored as a way to keep Romain Alessandrini with LA but not as a DP.

Will LA add someone on the defense before the start of the season?

The roster lists seven defenders but don't see Arellano and Hilliard-Arce getting many minutes except as emergency defenders due to injury of someone from the top five.

Also, really don't know how you can have Zlatan, Ola, JDS, GDS, Alessandrini on the field at the same time. Where do you park each guy?

Am anticipating Lletget and Antuna to also get minutes, how do they fit in with the top five offense-minded players already mentioned.

How about this for position assignments with primary option before the slash and the secondary after the slash (prime/secondary):

2: Zlatan/Jamison, Ola/Boateng
4: Lletget/Antuna, GDS/Lletg…

Star Trek Discovery Season 2 Episode 1

Star Trek Discovery Season 2 Episode 1

Stylistically similar to season 1 in that the frantic pace and high production values is kept up in the season opener. But more importantly and positively, is the feeling of visiting old friends felt in season 1 continues in season 2. Saru, Tilly, Stamets, and Burnham are well played by their respective actors.

Will be interesting to see where the "red bursts" story line is going. Will be interesting to see where they are going with Spock/Burnham/Amanda/Sarek story line.

Huge hats off to Jeff Russo and the soundtrack he writes for the show. Check out the short behind the scenes videos. There are a couple focusing on the music of ST-Discovery.

Anson Mount as Captain Pike is a plus and an opportunity to explore a character we don't know much about from the Original Series (Menagerie/Cage) and two small parts in the Kelvin-verse films (Star Trek-2009, Into Darkness).

On Trek trivia, am curious to see if the "red shirt" motif …

LA Galaxy - starting 11 and depth chart for 2019?

There are a few rumors going around so will make the following assumptions:
GDS will be bought out
Antuna will arrive on loan
Polenta will be signed

How about a conventional 4-4-2?

Forward = Ibrahimovic, Kamara
3. Pontius
4. BJIV

Offensive MF = Alessandrini, Antuna
3. Boateng
4. Pontius
5. Lletget

Defensive MF = JDS, Lletget
3. Kitchen
4. Juninho
5. Carrasco

Defense = Romney, Polenta, Steres, Feltscher
5. Skjelvik
6. Need to recruit a solid back-up
7. Need to recruit a solid back-up
8. Hilliard-Arce

GK = Bigham
2. Lampson
3. Vom Steeg

How about a 4-2-3-1 formation?
Forward = Ibrahimovic
2. Kamara
3. Pontius
4. BJIV

Offensive MF = Kamara, JDS, Alessandrini
4. Antuna
5. Boateng
6. Pontius
7. Lletget

Defensive MF = Lletget, Kitchen
3. JDS
4. Juninho
5. Carrasco

Defense = Romney, Polenta, Steres, Feltscher
5. Skjelvik
6. Need to recruit a solid back-up
7. Need to recruit a solid back-up
8. Hilliard-Arce

GK = Bigham
2. Lampson
3. Vom Steeg

Will see if the front office can land an extra def…

Star Trek Discovery Season Two - We shall see what the scriptwriters have up their sleeves!

My feelings about the first season: good performances by the cast and high production values; on the downside a few times where the plot got very confusing or inconsistent.

As for season two, we shall see!

The episode will be released tonight and so perhaps some of the mysteries will be revealed.

One thing that strikes me as a bit odd was assigning Captain Pike to take over the Discovery.

In the Star Trek "world," the Enterprise was a Constitution class starship that was top-of-the-line for a long time in Star Fleet. So why are the powers that be transferring Pike to what was a one-of-a-kind experimental-research ship in the Discovery?

From the trailers the mystery is the Red Bursts and the Red Angel. How many ships will the Federation dedicate to solving the mystery?

You would think you want to keep the Enterprise crew together with its Captain as part of that mission?

However, it appears that Spock has taken leave of the Enterprise to deal with how the message from the phe…