Boomer noodling

When the Justice Department asks Google for information like, “How often do people search for ‘noodling,’ anyway?” Google refuses to comply, saying it would be an immense drain on their resources, and an invasion of privacy, and a totally uncool trip, and all that. But apparently, I can ask for the same data without a subpoena, and get it in seconds, for free.

Enter any topic into Google Trends — or up to five topics at once — and you’ll get a graph of how often that topic has been searched over the past few years, and how often it has appeared in news articles, and which cities around the world generated the most hits for that Jasminlive topic.

There is no way to search Google Trends by city. To find out which words are looked up by Oklahoma City Google users more than by residents of any other city on earth, I had to guess a bunch of words, and see if OKC topped the list of cities for those words. I found a few. Most of them were unsurprising (like “Istook“), but a couple were a bit unexpected.

Did you know that Oklahoma Citians search on Google for the word “softball” more than folks anywhere else do? Why would that be? I don’t know.

Oklahoma City tops searches for the acronym “DHS” too. (I hope it was nothing I did.)

The Michael Bay maneuver

Remember Armageddon? Terrible movie. Came out about seven years ago. Bruce Willis starred as an oil driller who became an astronaut for some reason.

There’s a famous scene at the end of that movie where crowds all around the world are shown cheering at sunset. New York, London, Moscow, Bombay, Tokyo — everywhere cheering crowds, everywhere that magic hour of sunset where the light comes pouring down like warm butterscotch and everything looks like a million bucks.

Except, of course, it’s never sunset everywhere on Earth at the same time.

That particular blunder, of getting your time zones totally screwed up, has come to be known as the “Michael Bay maneuver,” after the accursed soul who directed that awful, awful film.

I just finished watching a new free sex chat show on TV.” At the climax, the newly installed President, who assumed the office upon the death of her predecessor, is addressing a joint session of Congress in prime time. Meanwhile, Marines are raiding a prison in Nigeria to rescue a woman sentenced to death for adultery. The speech, of course, takes place at night, framed by beautiful helicopter shots of Washington, D.C., after dark. The raid takes place during the magic hour of sunset.

Except when it’s nine o’clock in the District, it’s one in the morning in Lagos.

Come on, guys. Shooting day-for-night and then throwing on a grainy night-vision effect in post would not have cost that much.

The other thing about this show struck me as being kinda neat, actually, in an ironic sort of way. The show makes a huge deal about a certain character, played by Geena Davis who contrary to rumor is still an actress, becoming the first female President of the United States. All the muss-and-fuss about it struck me as being shockingly out of place until I realized why: Mary McDonnell has been playing the president on a different and far superior television show for going on three years now, and the issue of her gender has never once come up.

Amazingly, a television show about the first female President is already embarrassingly anachronistic. It’d be like a TV show about the scandal of a mixed-race marriage, or the fashion dos-and-don’ts of polyester leisure suits.

Mostly, though … I just miss “The West Wing.”

Boston Globe likes Battlestar

The Boston Globe has, for some reason, compiled a list of what the paper’s entertainment staff has deemed the best 50 science-fiction television shows of all time.

I know. What a bizarre thing to make a list about. Have there even been 50 science-fiction television shows? I can think of, like, four. (The Globe cheats by including shows like “The X-Files” which had nothing to do with science at all and “Mystery Science Theater 3000” which merely had “science” in its name. Plus a whole bunch of shows nobody has ever heard of. What the hell is “Lost?”)

Anyway, yeah. “Battlestar Galactica,” the best live show on — Emmy voters are clearly out of their minds, and everybody knows it — occupies the No. 2 spot on the list behind perennial favorite “Star Trek.”

Comparing “Battlestar Galactica” to “Star Trek” is like comparing Pablo Picasso to Pieter Brueghel. Sure, “Star Trek” was noteworthy because it excelled by the standards of the day. The stories were relatively sophisticated, tackling such ambiguous topics as racism and counterculture. But come on. The lead characters were two-dimensional cut-outs, the supporting roles were mere spear-carriers, the plots were simplistic at best and often downright absurd. “Spock’s Brain,” anyone?

But okay, if you want to factor in things like influence and inspiration, “Star Trek” deserves recognition. Certainly no genre television show in the past fifty years has been as influential … with the possible exception of “Gunsmoke.” But “Star Trek” was permanently mired in genre, a quagmire from which its thematic successor “Star Trek: The Next Generation” only occasionally managed to escape. “Battlestar Galactica” is a success specifically because it transcends genre — hi, I’m a pretentious critic — and tells a genre story as if it were high drama. Which, paradoxically, transforms it into high drama.

The Globe agrees. “The new ‘Battlestar Galactica’ just barely missed the number 1 spot due to its newbie status in the sci-fi genre,” they write. “However, this is easily on track to becoming Number 1 due to its great writing and a wonderful vision by executive producer Ronald D. Moore.”

Anyway, the Globe has this list. They’re presenting it in highly annoying one-entry-per-page-with-a-shitload-of-ads format. But fear not, Internet. I’ve done the clicking so you don’t have to. Here’s the list in numerical order:

“Star Trek” (Original)

“Battlestar Galactica” (New)

“Star Trek: The Next Generation”

“The X-Files”

“ lon 5”

“Stargate SG-1”

“The Twilight Zone”

“Dr. Who”

“Mystery Science Theater 3000”



“Xena: Warrior Princess”

“The Outer Limits”

“Star Trek Voyager”

“Logan’s Run”

“Flash Gordon”



“Dark Angel”

“The Hitchhiker”

“Quantum Leap”


“Tales from the Crypt”

“Wonder Woman”

“The Jetsons”

“Stargate Atlantis”

“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”

“Adventures of Superman”

“The Six Million Dollar Man”

“Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea”

“Alien Nation”

“My Favorite Martian”

“Lost in Space”

“The Avengers”

“Battlestar Galactica” (Original)

“The Bionic Woman”

“Space 1999”


“The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”

“The Thunderbirds”


“Science Fiction Theater”

“Nowhere Man”

“Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman”

“The Greatest American Hero”

“That Was Then”

“Buck Rogers in the 25th Century”

“3rd Rock From The Sun”

“The Wild Wild West”

“Earth: Final Conflict”

The annoyance of just generally being an arrogant

Richard Dawkins can lick my balls. Nominally an ethologist — a person who studies human behavior — Dawkins in recent years has turned himself into a sort of full-time, professional asshole. Back in the 70s and 80s, he wrote at length about some ideas that make decent metaphors but come nowhere close to being actual, literal truth; see his The Selfish Gene. Lately, he has somehow found a way to make a decent living by telling everybody how much smarter than us he is. For reasons passing my understanding, there are people out there who are still listening to him.

His most recent excretory function can be found in next month’s issue of Prospect magazine, a disgusting and intellectually dishonest article called “Opiate of the Masses.” I quote from the first paragraph:

Gerin oil (or Geriniol to give it its scientific name) is a powerful drug which acts directly on the central nervous system to produce a range of characteristic symptoms, often of an antisocial or self- damaging nature. If administered chronically in hood, Gerin oil can permanently modify the brain to produce adult disorders, including dangerous delusions which have proved very hard to treat. The four doomed flights of 11th September were, in a very real sense, Gerin oil trips: all 19 of the hijackers were high on the drug at the time. Historically, Geriniol intoxication was responsible for atrocities such as the Salem witch hunts and the massacres of native South Americans by conquistadores. Gerin oil fuelled most of the wars of the European middle ages and, in more recent times, the carnage that attended the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent and, on a smaller scale, Ireland.

The joke becomes clear if you observe that “geriniol” is an anagram for “religion.” Dawkins’ column is nothing more than a snide, sarcastic, overbearingly superior thousand-word screed about the evils of religion in all its forms.

Not only is Dawkins’ article insulting in the extreme to people of faith, it’s insulting in its sheer laziness to people of mind as well. Dawkins refuses to draw distinctions between modern religions and medieval ones. To him, all religions are precisely equivalent. There is no difference between the Christianity of the 11th century, the fundamentalist Islam of today, and the Unitarians down the block who throw those nice pot-lucks every other Sunday night. They’re all just psychopaths, you see; they’re all murderers-in-waiting. To Dawkins, “Love thy neighbor as thyself” isn’t a commandment. It’s an infection.

One has to wonder, though, if Dawkins was even aware of the irony of his argument. By ascribing the evils of the murderers to religion, he’s implicitly excusing them. They’re not evil men, you see; they were just infected by a harmful idea. They would have been fine if not for evil, horrible religion. By attributing the evil in the world to an external force rather than holding people responsible for their actions, Dawkins is expressing a downright religious point of view. Instead of blaming Satan — “The devil made me do it!” — he’s blaming religion. Same bullshit, different angle.

Memento mori

I was straightening my workspace yesterday. Being just a corner of my bedroom, it doesn’t qualify as a full-fledged office, but it’s where my desk and chair are, so it’s my workspace. And it’s a total mess, because I’m a little bit of a slob with a lot of time. It takes me a while to mess a place up, but given the time, I do a damn fine job of it.

Anyway, I was policing my workspace yesterday when I found a rawhide bone sitting under my footstool. Actually it was just half of a rawhide bone; the other half was long gone, having been chewed away by my best friend last winter. I held it in my hand until it grew warm and the tears stopped coming.

My dad’s watch sits on my desk. It’s a gold watch, though not a particularly nice one. It’s a thirty-year-old Pulsar. My father wore it every day, up to and including the day he died. When my brothers and I were sorting through his things, I quietly pocketed his watch for myself. Not to wear — it’s too big for my wrist — but just to have it. To keep it, to remember. It sits on my desk.

Now Nelson’s last toy sits there too, next to my father’s watch.