Monday, July 1, 2013

Prayers for Rain

By Donny Brooks

Around Facebook is in the last several hours I have seen several supplications for remembering the 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots firefighting team who all tragically lost their lives fighting the wildfire outside Yarnell, AZ. I have also seen supplications to pray for them and their families, pray for rain and relief from the heat. 
While I have no quibble with the sentiment, I cannot decouple in my mind these thoughts and prayers with the reality that it is our own human activity polluting this planet that has caused the climate to change in dangerous ways. This is the equivalent of praying to be saved from the rampaging murderer, but not recognizing that we were the ones who knowingly let him out of prison.

Every coal plant still operating, every gas guzzling car on the road, every oil and gas well is partly to blame for this tragedy. Yes, let's pray. But let's also DO SOMETHING about the problems to prevent future tragedies like this from occurring. Because this is just the beginning. And we are all of us most certainly to blame.



Not sure we're to blame? Let's talk some facts about Arizona:

Enough energy hits the Arizona desert every few hours to power the entire country. So why aren't we doing anything about it?


TPA News Roundup for July 1st


The Texas Progressive Alliance stands with Wendy as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff points to two recent polls about abortion to note that the people really aren't asking for more restrictions on reproductive choice.

Horwitz of Texpatriate asks the question on everyone's minds: will the Senate Democrats stay or go in the Second Special Session?

Rick Perry thought he learned more from the life of Wendy Davis than she did, so he mansplained it to an anti-choice organization last week. And even Joe Straus was appalled. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs observed that this mansplaining business is a much more common form of testosterone poisoning than anyone previously knew.

WCNews at Eye on Williamson says it was a bad week for voting rights, A sad day in the United States.

At TexasKaos, Libby Shaw tells us about http://www.texaskaos.net/diary/7362/the-night-texas-turned-blue">The Night Texas Turned Blue. Wendy Davis made us all proud.

This week at McBlogger, Cap'n Kroc has a message of welcome for the people newly energized by the Filicluster.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme hails the Supreme Court ruling on DOMA, but check out what the DOMA ruling means in a state like Texas.


=======================

And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Jim Rigby pens an open letter to the women of Texas.

Iain Simpson contemplates the connection between whistleblowing and civil disobedience.

BOR explains what the SCOTUS decision on UT's admissions policy means.

State Rep. Mark Strama announced his plans for the future.

Nonsequiteuse places the blame for Tuesday's debacle in the Senate where it belongs, and reminds us that the fight is far from over.

Lone Star Ma stands with Wendy.

Mark Bennett gives the ten commandments of courtroom humor.

Andrea Grimes explains to people outside Texas why they should never write us off.

Texagain and Rachel Farris document their experiences in the Senate chamber during the Davis filibuster.

Concerned Citizens thinks Sen. Davis should run for Lt. Governor, not Governor.

Harold Cook updates us on the latest Republican minority outreach program.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

IN MEMORIAM: Jim Kelly

By Citizen-Bot

Originally appeared at BigShinyRobot

A scion of both ’70′s martial arts and blaxploitation movies, Jim Kelly, passed away Saturday, June 29. He was 67.

Kelly’s most iconic role was opposite Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon. He followed this up with a string of martial arts themed blaxploitation films, including Black Belt Jones.

While Kelly’s film repetoire is relatively small, his cultural influence has been huge. You need only look at current, modern projects like Afro Samurai, The Boondocks (and their many kung fu-themed episodes), and (one of my favorite guilty pleasure films) Undercover Brother, wherein Eddie Griffin actually shadowboxes a Kelly on tv.

Kelly’s iconic afro, athleticism, and martial arts mastery have been often imitated but never duplicated. And any of you fools who haven’t seen Black Dynamite or been watching it on [adult swim] have missing out. 

Simply put, without Kelly, none of this would have happened.  Well, ok, the scene with Bruce Lee fighting Kareem Abdul Jabbar in Game of Death would’ve happened. But I’m not sure about any of the rest.

Kelly also appeared in this recent Nike ad with Lebron James:



In later years, Kelly went on to play semi-professional tennis and continued to occasionally appear in films, usually in reference to his kung fu blaxploitation past.

Thanks for making everything a bit more awesome and a bit more funky for all of us, Jim.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Wendy Davis, "Democracy," the rule of law, and civil disobedience

From the Ghost of Sam Houston

June 26, 2013 -- updated July 1

Just what in tarnation are you people thinking?

And by "you people," I mean those who inhabit the governing bodies that I helped create: Governor Rick Perry, Lt. Gov David Dewhurst, and you Senators and Representatives who tried to make a mockery of our government through your conniving, scheming ways.

I don't mean to be partisan. I just want to be against the stupid, the bullies, and the overreachers. It's not my fault they all have decided to be in the Republican Party in Texas right now.

Over the last several days, and especially the last 18 hours, I have seen the best and worst that our representative democracy has to offer. On the side of the best, I have Senator Davis, standing for her convictions. Literally standing for her convictions. And then the hundreds of people who stood with her literally, and the tens of thousands who stood with her virtually.

I saw Senator Kirk Watson give his own mini-filibuster, reminding me of this great Venn Diagram I once saw:


And I saw Senator Leticia Van de Putte, in my opinion as much of a star of this filibuster as Senator Davis. First of all, I saw here there-- pulled from the funeral of her father. No one should have to sacrifice what she did. But she did. There is a special punishment in hell reserved for Senator Duncan, Lt. Gov Dewhurst, and the rest for the dismissive and nearly abusive way they treated a woman who by all rights shouldn't have needed to be there today. But she was. And while the gallery and rotunda echoed with chants of "Wen-dy! Wen-dy!" if only "Leticia" or "Van de Putte" were a little more bisyllabic (and therefore suitable for cheering), I daresay she would've gotten those cheers from the assembled crowd as well. And she was the one who inspired the Citizen Filibuster with her pointed jab after being denied a lawful recognition for her motion because Sen Duncan claims he didn't hear her:




Can you hear her now? Can you hear all Texas women now?

Obviously not. As Governor Rick Perry went on to mainsplain later in the week,"Even the woman who filibustered the Senate the other day was born into difficult circumstances. She was the daughter of a single woman, she was a teenage mother herself. She managed to eventually graduate from Harvard Law School and serve in the Texas senate. It is just unfortunate that she hasn’t learned from her own example that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential and that every life matters."
Between that and comments by House sponsor of SB5 Jody Laubenburg mistaking rape kits for having the ability to prevent pregnancy, you have to wonder about just how dumb these people are. I don't think they're bad people. I just don't think they understand at all how embarassingly stupid, how patronizing, how sexist these comments are. In 2013. 
Look, believe me. I come from a different time with different ideas about men and women and roles and so on. But even back in the 1840s I knew one thing: don't f@#$ with Texas women. 
But eventually, all of this has to come down to process. What a silly form of government we have. Think about it. We have elected 150 people in the House and 31 Senators to make laws for 26 million people. Each house has weird rules and norms. Each of these rules exist because we agree that we must have rules to govern how laws are made. If this were a sports match, we would not tolerate it if suddenly, in the middle of a game, the winning team decided to change the rules to suit its advantage. And yet we saw this attempt over and over again by the majority. And when they tried to pretend a vote after midnight counted, it was simply an excuse for a team that came up short again and again, flummoxed by the simple ability at the heart of our system: to slow things down. 

Our system was built to not pass laws. Our institutions of government are designed in many ways to not be democratic, but to allow for an under-seige minority to stand up and stop overreach from occurring. I have no evidence one way or another that Texans truly support the far-reaching restrictions on abortions that have been proposed here. For every poll showing one way I have a contradictory one. But then in the absence of a true democratic fiat, why pass the most restrictive ban on womens' reproductive health choice in the country?
Because they are tyrants. At each and every step, they have shown it. I don't care where you come down on the abortion debate, this is unacceptable.

Rick Perry -- The Governor most likely to date rape you
Rick Perry and his ilk have shown that this isn't at all about abortion and entirely about the relationship between The State and The People. In Perry and Dewhurst's world, the people are plebians -- an annoyance to be dealt with but not truly listened to. The State knows best what a woman should do if she is considering an abortion-- not that woman, not her doctor, not her family, not her confidantes or clergy. The State knows best. And The People be damned. If we want their opinion, then we will give it to them.
And so the only rational response to this sort of tyranny is, simply, engaging in the peaceful protest and even slight civil disobedience in order to prevent more tyranny. That is the Texas way. It is the way of Martin Luther King Jr. It is the way of Henry David Thoreau. It is the way of Gandhi.

It is your duty as a Texan to peacefully resist. That includes marching, that includes shouting, that includes citizen filibusters. And it especially means breaking the decorum of any Legislative body so corrupt that they would try to pretend a vote taken at 12:03 is the same as one take at 11:58. Any body that does that has already thrown out the rulebook. So why abide by their rules if they themselves refuse to?

Good luck to all of those who will  be gathering in the Capitol throughout July. You're going to need it.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

TPA News Roundup: May 28 edition

The Texas Progressive Alliance hopes their legislators get to go home soon as we bring you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff doesn't profess to know whether Rick Perry will run for Governor again or not, but he does know that Greg Abbott would not be any improvement over him in the Governor's mansion.

Williamson County does it again! WCNews at Eye on Williamson posts on the latest outrage from the GOP in Williamson County, Religious test for constable applicants in Williamson County .

A Dick decided to run for mayor of Houston. Like THAT's newsworthy. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs decided to blog about it anyway.

Darth Politico is back with some Memorial Day musings about how we treat our veterans and that not all those who die because of war are killed in combat.

DosCentavos celebrates the death (for now) of the latest Republican attack on the poor-- drug testing for TANF beneficiaries. He does support some sort of test for Lege members.


====================

And here are some more posts of interest from Texas blogs.

Hair Balls listens to Steve Hotze's anti-Obamacare song so you don't have to.

Brewed And Never Battered thanks everyone who helped pass the craft beer bills this session.

Open The Taps explains what all that craft beer legislation will do for you.

Juanita already has a reason to look forward to 2016.

Sara Inés Calderón offers her perspective on Battleground Texas.

Austin Contrarian reassures his neighbors that Austin isn't as big as the Census may have you believe.

Jason Stanford explains how the Legislature screwed you this time around.

Better Texas Blog laments that the Lege still doesn't account for growth in its budget.

BOR updates us on the redistricting effort in the city of Austin.

Texpatriate applauds the Lilly Ledbetter equal pay bill.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Respawn!

It appears my time travel experiment has succeeded, and we have arrived in 2013. We'll be taking the next week or two to readjust to our chronometers but expect our regular bloggings to begin again starting June 1. Before then, the Ghost of Sam Houston has some choice words for Rick Perry and the 83rd Texas Legislature. And Citizen-Bot and the folks over at Big Shiny Robot! will have some stories about Superman and how the summer blockbusters relate to politics.

We may even take some time to port over the stories he's done at BSR! in the meantime if we can either find a good utility to do it or depending on how much time we want to spend on it.

Good to be back.

Monday, January 23, 2012

TPA News Roundup for January 23, 2012

The Texas Progressive Alliance thanks the state of South Carolina for all the laughs as it brings you this week's blog roundup.

The big story last week was the SCOTUS ruling on interim redistricting maps. Off the Kuff has an initial look.

It turns out that PDiddie and Paula Deen have more in common than just their initials; there's also a morality tale involved. Read "Paula Deen, diabetes, and Novo Nordisk" at Brains and Eggs.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is tired of the media ignoring grossly untrue, inflammatory, and just plain disgusting things Republicans like Rick Perry make.

Perry's run for the Presidency is over! WCNews at Eye On Williamson posts on it here, Good riddance, for now, Perry drops out.

This was a big week of action culminating in the defeat (for now) of SOPA, including Wednesday when many of our sites went dark. Darth Politico refused to go dark, and instead went dork-- with a snark/irony blog supporting SOPA (or "Why Death Stars are a good thing").

At
TexasKaos, Libby Shaw mourns for Texas in "Poor Texas Forrest Homer Simpson is Coming Back". An eloquent requiem for a candidate who brought untold levels of derision to our state when he revealed how truly shallow and narcissistic he is. Give it a read!

Neil at Texas Liberal wrote this week abour how Houston School Board Member Manuel Rodriguez got away with using anti-gay campaign materials in his recent reelection victory. Everyday citizens, Civil rights groups and the Houston GLBT Political Caucus all gave Mr. Rodriguez a free pass despite his hateful words.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

SOPA is dead... for now

Originally appearing at Big Shiny Robot!

Good news everyone!
SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - The Texas Congressman whose proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) prompted dozens of websites to go dark or run protest messages this week said Friday he is pulling the measure from consideration "until there is wider agreement on a solution."
"I have heard from the critics and I take seriously their concerns regarding proposed legislation to address the problem of online piracy," U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, a Republican from Texas and the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, told Reuters in a telephone interview.

"It is clear that we need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem of foreign thieves that steal and sell American inventions and products," Smith said.
***

But I've said this before and I'll say it again- SOPA and its Senate version PIPA will not be truly dead until there is metaphorical political blood drawn over it.  Guys like Lamar Smith need to be thrown out of office for even proposing to do things like this. People in Congress need to be scared of regulating the internet in any form for fear they will get tossed on their kiesters in the next election.

So remember who the punks were who were pushing these bills, and support their opponents with your time and cash in the coming 9 months.  And maybe we should send people to Congress who actually understand technology instead of letting a group of sept-and-octogenarians write our internet laws. For example, one of PIPA's sponsors was Utah
douchebag
I mean Republican Orrin Hatch, and he is being challenged by Pete Ashdown, an internet entrepreneur who runs Utah ISP Xmission. Maybe HE would be a better representative for Utah instead of sending the guy back to Washington who has literally been the Senator from Utah all of Swankmotron's life.

Send the douches home who would support ending internet freedom-- that's the solution.

Or else SOPA, or something like it, will be back.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Darth Politico is not going dark! We LOVE SOPA! (or why Death Stars are GOOD Things)


Editorial by Darth Pundit

You may have noticed the Internet is different today. Big sites like Wikipedia, Reddit, and others are engaging in a foolish display of rebellion in an attempt to stop the eventual control of free expression by faceless, multinational, profit-driven corporations (the best kind). Our friends over at BigShinyRobot have even joined this "rebel alliance" in an attempt to flex the internet community's collective muscle and imagine a world where any site can be shut down and blocked without due process.

I say who needs them? What internet content isn't available that an entertainment corporation hasn't prepackaged into a format that maximizes their profit and limits your ability to share with your friends? You can still watch all of those clips of The Simpsons on hulu, but none on youtube, because that would be piracy.

And we hate pirates. You know who was a pirate? Han Solo. What a douche. Trying to escape paying import tarrifs or running illegal spice to lowlifes like the Hutts. 

That's why we need SOPA-- a bill with the ability to simply target a website, then crush it with one swift stroke.



See? Like that. Fear-- fear will keep the local systems in line, without the need for bureaucracy and due process. The last remnants of our old republic will be swept away.

Word has it that SOPA's sponsor, Lamar Smith (R/Imperial - TX) has put the brakes on the Death Star DNS blocking portion of SOPA, but let's be honest here: why would you set up a bill to set up a galactic empire and NOT keep the death star plans in there? We all know the fine folks at Clearchannel and Comcast and Viacom are going to get what they want-- they're going to keep pushing for the bill with its Death Star provisions. And putting it on hold to "Study" it are Washinton-speak for "let's just wait until we think people aren't watching and we'll slip it  back in."

Indeed, I have high hopes for SOPA and its Death Star, and the only way you'll ever stop it is either to sever the ties between Big Money and our politics (and good luck on coming up with a plan for that) or to metaphorically crucify and then kick out of office every single politician who would dare to make the Internet a less free place. Again, like that's gonna happen,

So, just go about your business. Nothing to see here. Certainly no protest to join, no cause to rally to. I mean, really-- what the F#@# are going to do against a Death Star? (which is totally necessary, by the way!)

Oh, my staff have a counterpoint posted here. Off to force-choke the hell out of some unruly copywriters!

A Response to Darth Pundit





By Donny Brooks, Citizen-Bot, The Ghost of Sam Houston, and Ben Yorick

Never before has our editor been so full of crap and so wrong on so many things.

Darth Pundit, you ignorant slut- you DO realize the irony that it is specifically a site like ours who could be so easily targeted by SOPA? That the entire basis for our site is based on fair use and parody of intellectual properties owned by Lucasfiilm and the publishers of Politco, right?

And even though the things we write here are our original work, that we could be easily shut down based on a complaint from pretty much anyone and appealable by no one on our staff. The site would simply be gone. Boom.

As though thousands of snarky comments screamed out in terror and were suddenly silenced.

However, he is right on one thing- the only way to defeat SOPA is to disconnect money from politics and toss those politicians out on their collective asses who would dare to regulate our freedom of expression. A line must be drawn in the sand, man. This aggression will not stand, man!

This Death Star's small thermal exhaust port right below it's man port is to blast our Congresscritters with phone calls today about SOPA.. Head to Wikipedia for simple instructions.

And just for fun, call Lamar Smith (the main guy behind SOPA) and tell him he's a douche.



Thursday, January 5, 2012

Corporations ruining the things we love: Star Wars, Marvels Comics edition-- and Mark Ruffalo saves the day!










By Donny Brooks and CitizenBot

With Star Wars returning to theaters, we can only brace ourselves against the impending deluge of merchandising, the flood of product tie-ins, and today we've seen the tip of the iceberg. We also get news of the further deification of Tim Tebow, (ugh-- spoiler alert-- if you're a Tebow fan, don't read this part. It'll make you mad) this time by Marvel Comics. Amidst all this corporate assault on the things we geeks love (Star Wars and Marvel Comics being our personal top 2) and just as I'm about to sink into despair, our man crush Mark Ruffalo comes along to brighten my day.

First, the bad news.

Star Wars basically invented modern product merchandising and tie-ins. So we shouldn't be surprised when we see them start to show up. But the first ones to come out are. . . a bit of a doozy. The first is for Lipton's Brisk "Tea" soft drink. And yes, "tea" is in quotation marks since all of these drinks contain more high fructose corn syrup than they do actual tea-- oh and they don't contain actual tea, they contain "instant tea."




I love Darth Maul, and I love Yoda, but this is. . . lame.

So is this: a fruit ninja-esque game for your phone where you use a lightsaber to cut through things associated with the prequels.





And if those weren't bad enough, did you know you can get a Vader burger? Well, if you hop a flight to Belgium, you can at your local Quick.

Darth Vader and Jedi burgers

I know what you're saying-- it's what Zombietron said when I showed him this earlier today-- a black bun? GROSS. Now, now- anyone who has enjoyed a hearty pumpernickel or spent significant time in Eastern Europe/Russia knows that black bread can be hearty and delicious. But I'm guessing, if Belgian fast food is as bad as American, it's probably not good bread.

Of course, back in 1999  to promote The Phantom Menace in its original release we saw the unholy alliance of three of America's fast food spokespersons: the Taco Bell chihuahua, Colonel Sanders, and the Pizza Hut Delivery Girl, so we can barely expect restraint or good taste.




Next up in our gallery of crap we have Tim Tebow, the Denver Broncos quarterback who delusionally thinks that the God of this universe cares about who wins football games. (If He did, wouldn't BYU win a national championship every year? Right? Sorry- probably ging to get some hate-mail over that one.)

Regardless, because Tebow is a media darling among braindead sports fans across the country and especially in "Real" America across the Bible, Corn, Rust, and Obesity-load-bearing Belts, Marvel Comics has created special comic book sketches of Tebow, saying:
“Like the Marvel heroes who pull off last minute victories, Tim Tebow has fans around the world on the edge of their seats and believing that — in our own lives — when time is running out and all looks lost, we can dig deep inside and use our various strengths to triumph over insurmountable odds,” says Bill Rosemann of Marvel Custom Solutions.
Ugh. These graphics were used during a slobberfest over Tebow on corporate sister ESPN.

 Tim Tebow is a douche even in comic book form
I've previously praised the House of Ideas for doing corporate synergy the right way-- for example the Castle graphic novel penned by Marvel superscribe Brian Michael Bendis. But this is just so craven (nee Kraven) and ridiculous bandwagonism. I know why ESPN has to rave about Tebow. But et tu, Marvel? Do you also have to toe the line? I wouldn't mind as much if it were part of a long-standing series of NFL players: say, drawings of the redemption (a common theme in comics) of Michael Vick, or  Aaron Rodgers and his amazing work, or Drew Brees. . . or whoever.  But not Tim Tebow.

And for the record, I don't dislike Tim Tebow because he believes in God. In fact, I actually don't dislike Tim Tebow personally that much-- I dislike the PEOPLE who think he is helped in his football "Angels in the Outfield" style and then use it to further their own agendas: I'm looking at you, Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann! And I'm also looking at you, ESPN, who will cash in on this delusion and whip it up into even more hype in a quest for more money (just like Jesus would've wanted). And my intent is not to make light of religion or Christianity. I happen to also be a pretty faithful person, but I think that is a private manner. That being said, if a player wants to drop to one knee after catching a touchdown in a show of humility, fine- that's also a personal decision.

But I think it's dumb to think that a Supreme Being who commands us to be mindful of the poor and downtrodden, or to avoid false idols cares about a sport that takes place on the one day of the week He supposedly commands Christians to not spend our time on worldly matters.   War, disease, famine, human trafficking, dogs and cats living together, and Rick Santorum-- all on the Big Man's radar, I'm sure. What the Broncos are doing? Nope.

Marvel's explanation about how Tebow is a hero because he shows us "we can dig deep inside and use our various strengths to triumph over insurmountable odds"? Yeah, I'd rather watch Peter Parker do that, thank you-- not some religious crusader who thinks his mission in life is to throw an oval-shaped pigskin. And if I'm thinking about someone who keeps fighting despite insurmountable odds, the young quarterback who comes to my mind is not Tim Tebow, it's Colt McCoy.

Speaking of real heroes: Mark Ruffalo. In my opinion, Ruffalo is possibly the best actor of his generation. He has not given a bad performance in a movie, ever, imo, and has given some amazing ones-- You Can Count On Me, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Kids Aren't Alright. And he's got a social conscience. For the past several years, Ruffalo has been involved in the fight to prevent environmental damage caused by hydraulic fracturing-- a drilling process to extract oil and gas that has been linked to cancer, smog, flammable water, and earthquakes.

He's also taken up with a lot of the Occupy folks in New York, fighting the good fight not only against fracking but also the boondoggle Keystone XL pipeline project. In of all places The Wall St Journal, Ruffalo dishes on what he's been up to.
Mark Ruffalo says the coming film, “The Avengers,” is an allegory for Americans.

“You have all these disparate egos, superheroes in this and that, and they refuse to give up some of their positions in order to make a more perfect union and to join the team,” Ruffalo says.

“That’s really what the whole movie is about: subjugating your own best interest momentarily to further that of the whole,” he says.

As Ruffalo sees it, the film’s message speaks to the times. “I didn’t know it a year ago that it was going to speak to so many of the issues we’re having here in the United States and throughout the world, the same kind of theme,” he says.

“These movies reach a lot of people, they’re our modern mythology,” Ruffalo says. He followed comic book superheroes as a kid. “I think a lot of the beliefs I have and cherish were fostered by the decency of our superheroes, and what they were about and what they were fighting for.”
Pretty eloquent for a guy playing a character whose catchphrases are largely monosyllabic, eg "Hulk SMASH puny human!!"

Ruffalo is right. And if he can get egos the size of Asgard and Stark Industries and SHIELD to work together, not only are we in for an awesome movie with this summer's The Avengers, but maybe we'll learn something about our own humanity.

So, let's get ready to Occupy Avengers. And let's, in the meantime, try to forego the ridiculousness of the Vader Burger, the Brisk "Tea", and Tim Tebow comics. I think that way we can maybe find some peace in this ridiculous upside-down world we live in.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Top 30 / Bottom 10 of 2011

Ah yes, that time of year when we look back and catalogue what has happened. I don't really see a big difference in creating three seperate lists of the best of movies, tv, music, etc, so instead I just have the Bottom 10 of everything and the Top 25 of everything.

Please to enjoy, and let the arguments begin.

The Bottom 10 - aka The Suck List

Most of the other Best/Worst lists of 2011 - Seriously, I don't get music critics. Or most movie or tv critics. There are some exceptions but I did not see a single mention of the Foo Fighters in ANY top 100 list of 2011. Really? No one? Oh, but we all love Adele and Lady GaGa. . . .pbbbblt.

Steve Jobs death - Yes, it was sad to lose someone like Steve Jobs. But even more than that, it was ridiculous the lengths people went to in lionizing the man. He was the CEO of a computer company, not Jesus.

Glee - Glee has gone on a bigger downward plunge than Heroes, and that's saying something. This season just started getting ridiculous, even more so than last season. And cut it out with the "very special episodes" and the intentionally salacious storylines seemed designed to be entertaining or provocative but only to massively piss off the Parents TV Council or whomever. . . . bleh. What happened to the subversion of season 1? I miss that. But not enough to keep coming back to this crapfest any more.


The response to Occupy Wall St - it's just hilarious how quickly people change their tunes when it no longer fits their own political ideology. Supporters of Tea Party rallies and protests suddenly now had a problem with people gathering together in protest. Pepper spray was not only a reasonable response to college students who refuse to bathe and are mad at banks, but it was also "basically a vegetable." The response of suddenly having the spotlight on them didn't help the movement, either-- who didn't seem to be able to communicate a clear, concise message. By saying everything, they ended up saying nothing. "What do we want?" "Here's a detailed list of our 28 demands!" "When do we want it?" "At different times depending on the demand!" Oh, and depending on the day, Mitt Romney was either expressing empathy for the protesters or telling them "Corporations are people, my friend."


The New 52 - A big comic "event" that they promise will change everything in the universe and make their weird-ass continuity "work"-- just like Crisis on Infinite Earths, or Infinite Crisis, or Final Crisis, or... I don't read DC for the continuity, I read it for their characters. And why did they all need to get rebooted again? And who let Jim Lee have authority to start redesigning characters? A blatant marketing attempt to sell more comics to inane collectors who will want to own a "Superman #1"?  Yup.  And it worked.  Sigh.


Japanese Earthquake/Tsunami and meltdown at Fukushima - This had huge effects on almost everything else that happened this year. And while it's generally inconsequential to talk about the fact that the iphone was delayed by a month because of disruptions, it was true. The death and destruction created by this was huge. . .and was I the only person who kept waiting for Godzilla to show up?


Rebecca Black - Why? Why did this happen? And can we make it stop? I hate to be mean to a 13 year old, but this was barely her fault. I think our culture's obsession with irony finally came to a head with this. Please, let's stop.


Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 1 - the funniest movie I saw all year. Even my wife, a devoted Twilight fan, was forced to admit that this movie was not good and we would not be owning it on DVD. Ummmm. . . .yeah. What was it that made it so terrible? The "talking" werewolves? The sex scene? The violent rapey subtext? The immediate pregnancy with the psychic vampire baby? The birth of the baby via vampire c-section-- with the vampire biting her chest and uterus open, meanwhile we get to see it from the fetus's point of view, who is inexplicably making "nom-nom-nom" noises?


Transformers 3 - There was 15 minutes of this movie that was pretty fun near the end where it was just giant robots fighting each other. But between the ridiculous "plot", the misuse/underuse (again) of great acting talent like John Turturro and Alan Tudyk (who stole the entire movie), the bordering on misogynistic casting of the somehow necessary girlfriend who isn't any longer Megan Fox but displays all the acting talent of Megan Fox, this was just beyond bad. And then it got worse. When Leonard Nimoy said "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few," I literally booed. I have not booed at the screen in a movie in. . . forever. I'm not one to say that this thing or that thing "raped my childhood," but this was just about the last straw.


Atlas Shrugged - of all the turds of this year, this was by FAR the biggest. As I said in my review at the time, "For those of you who are fans of Ayn Rand’s ode to capitalism and brilliance and objectivism, I’m very sorry. For many reasons, but especially tonight because of what has happened to this film. If I didn’t know better, I’d call it a liberal conspiracy to discredit everything Rand stood for by making her ideas even more boorish, heavy-handed, and unpleasant than they already were in written format."


So, that was the worst-- on to the best!!  But first, let me tell you a bunch of things I just never got around to seeing or doing this year but probably deserve to be on here. So, if I left it out and it was your favorite, I just didn't get to see it.  Sorry.  Ahhem:


(American Horror Story)
(Skyrim)
(Game of Thrones)
(Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)
(The Ides of March)
(Drive)
(The Artist)
(Homeland)
(The Muppets) -- I know! I know!! I'm working on it!


Now for my Top 30 of 2011:


Foster the People - These guys ROCKED Austin City Limits this year. Beyond that, their mix of pop hooks and indie surrealist sounds was just what I needed. Also, somehow, my kids love it.  My three your old knows all the words to "Pumped Up Kicks" which is both cool and disturbing at the same time.


Kindle / Nook - Will e-readers revitalize print? I can only hope so. Not only are these cool readers, but the Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet are honest to god just fun gadgets.


Sons of Perdition  - This is one of the best documentaries I saw this year, and its release coincided with the trial of that bastard Warren Jeffs, may he rot in jail and then in hell for what he put these people through. This is the story of the young men who are exiled from Jeff's polygamist communities and their problems with lack of education, getting into drugs, and so on. Just tragic, and an amazing look into what these people face.

The New 52 - Yes, it's on both my top and bottom list. Why? Because some of this was really good. I'm liking the Animal Man reboot, and people can't shut up about Catwoman. And when it comes right down to it, DC needed a really hard reboot. Let's just hope this one sticks.


Fear Itself - Better among the comics events of this year was Marvel's event. What makes even Odin and the Gods of Asgard afraid? We find out. Some nice twists and turns. My only complaint? It wasn't as good as past events-- Seige, Secret Invasion, Civil War, etc.


Teen Wolf - There was not a tv show I was more skeptical about than this. An MTV reboot that has pretty much nothing to do with the Michael J Fox/Jason Bateman movies from my childhood. . .and that ends up being a really good thing. In a year when vampires and werewolves were everywhere, this was my favorite.


Netflix/Hulu/Roku box - I shut off my cable this year after realizing we watched more stuff on Netflix than on cable. Netflix brought the goods this year, despite some of their idiocy with Quickster, etc. I have now watched every single Star Trek episode of every franchise ever, and I thank Netflix. Plus this will always be the year when my kids and I discovered the wonder that is Phineas and Ferb. Hulu filled in the rest of the tv gaps, bringing me my Daily Show and Colbert and most other shows. On the same theme, none of that would have been possible without my awesome Roku Box. My only complaint? Not everyone is on the Roku bandwagon yet. I'm looking at you, Current TV.  Why no streaming Keith Olbermann channel? Eh? Glenn Beck has his own channel. Get on that. Also, a super-easy way to stream Amazon movies has made Redbox and other video rentals far less important. A great device.

Bridesmaids - This was the year of the r-rated comedy, again. And this one just knocked it out of the park. Jon Hamm cast against type, Melissa McCarthy almost stealing the movie (it made me miss The Gilmore Girls but did not make me want to watch Mike and Molly, ironically), and a cameo by Tim Heidecker of Tim and Eric made this just too much fun. Plus, Kristen Wiig was great. And it even made me enjoy Wilson Phillips.


PJ20 - Wow. Remember when Cameron Crowe knew how to direct a movie? A great documentary about a band who I still love a ton. And the accompanying album was also great, giving us gems like Eddie Vedder singing old Mother Love Bone songs. My only complaint? For a "warts and all" documentary, there were some big warts left out. Like, say, Crowe and Vedder's fued that led to the writing of Corduroy, one of PJ's best songs, and helped inspire parts of Almost Famous, one of Crowe's best movies. Seems like something big to gloss over.


Castle - It's Murder She Wrote, but starring Nathan Fillion. But somehow it's a step above every other police procedural out there and just a rollicking good time.


Tucker and Dale vs. Evil - The very first article I wrote for BigShinyRobot was a writeup of SXSW 2010, where I named this movie the best of the festival. Unfortunately, it took it until 2011 to get released widely in theaters. Still one of the best of the year. Haven't seen it yet? What is wrong with you?


Attack the Block - another SXSW movie, but this time from 2011, this was an amazingly fun film I'm glad found a broader audience. Scary aliens attacking British street thugs? Awesome. Turning their leader into a reluctant anti-hero? Even better. Let's hope if they remake it they don't ruin it.


Beavis and Butthead - Did this show get far more mature in the intervening dozen or so years they've been off the air? It almost seems like it. While they still laugh at words like "long" and "tool," Beavis and Butthead seemed to have developed a sixth sense for irony as they make fun of Jersey Shore, MGMT videos, and The Human Centipede meets Sex and the City.


New Girl - the best new show of 2011, hands down. Zooey Deschanel is impossibly cute in this show and made me wish Jess were a real person so I could hang out with her.


Community - speaking of comedy, this is the funniest show on network tv, and NBC is ridiculously stupid to ever think about canceling it.  Six Seasons and a Movie, baby! Bringing in John Goodman as the mysterious head of a secret society of air conditioning repairmen only ups the ante, even as we have left unexplored what happens in those other 6 universes we created and are titillated as Allison Brie asks us how to understand Christmas in the most provocative holiday dance since Mean Girls. Also, their continued mocking of Glee is appreciated, as are their epic paintball episodes.


Nintendo 3DS - This isn't just a GameBoy anymore. The 3DS might be the best gaming platform out there today. Not that the graphics and screen aren't better on an XBox or PS3 or even a Wii, and even in spite of the gimmicky 3D that is more an annoyance, but because of the fun factor built into every system. Not only can you game on it, but it's a social networking tool, you can stream Netflix on it, oh, and most of those neat features somehow tie back into actual games you can play. Mario Kart 7 may be the best MarioKart ever. Mario 3D land is impossibly fun and far more engaging than Super Mario Galaxy. The Ocarina of Time re-boot is also spectacular.


Parks and Recreation - Just because Community is the funniest sitcom on network tv doesn't make it the best. That goes to Parks and Recreation, which this year saw the evolution of Ben and Leslie's relationship, the death of Lil' Sebastian- who we found out in song was "5,000 candles in the wind." We also had the rise and fall of Entertainment 720, Ben buying a Batman suit (Treat yo'self!), and more Ron Swanson wisdom than you could shake a perfectly whittled stick at. And somehow there's still more, with Rob Lowe as literally the best side character in any sitcom today as well as the impossible couple of Andy and April. This show has more heart than anything else out there today. Just amazing.


Geek Show Podcast/The Big Movie Mouth Off - The BEST collection of geeks collected every week to discuss various topics. These guys keep me sane and laughing, reminding me weekly to "eat more ham." The best nerd podcast out there from people I just love. Thanks guys. And then Jeff and Jimmy have now started their "Big Movie Mouth Off"with both reviews and a pretty-much-weekly podcast, often guest starring Geek Show Camerman/Big Movie Mouth Off producer Bryan Young and sometimes Shannon from Geek Show, their podcast is the chaser to Geek Show's cocktail.


Lost at the Con - in the same vein as Geek Show/BMMO, I have to give props to one of my favorites from this year: a novel about a drunken political reporter attending a sci-fi convention full of sex, drugs, and a robotic Abraham Lincoln? Sometimes described as "Fear and Loathing. . . .at Dragon*Con" I just had a great time with this talke of debauchery and eventual redemption.

Republic, Lost - Yes, it's another book. Yes, it's about an issue some might think is dry-- campaign finance-- but the way Lawrence Lessig tells it we see it for what it is: a system of legalized bribery masquerading as "free speech." This book not only details what is wrong with the system, how, and why, and also details how both liberal and conservatives ideals for government are symied by the money chase, but he also gives us a smart solution. In a list full of a lot of stuff that is relatively inconsequential, this actually is incredibly important.

And now, the TOP 10:


[adult swim] live action shows: Eagleheart and Childrens' Hospital - Who would've thunk that the best thing on Cartoon Network's evening programming block would be their live action shows? Eagleheart gave me two of my biggest laugh out loud moments all year long with both a game of leapfrog that ends in disaster and a public service announcement about cougar attacks/gay hookup sex in the mountains. Oh, and my neverending crush on star Maria Thayer. . . whose in person beauty stunned me so much at Comic-Con that I got really tongue tied.  No problem interviewing Chris Elliot, but her. . . .speaking of awesome Comic-Con interviews, the time I spent with the cast of Childrens' Hospital was also amazing. Childrens' Hospital took some risks this year, straying from their basic formula quite a bit with insane theme episodes that included Our Town, disco/the 70's, and an "after dark" episode featuring porn stars. . . but no one is more beautiful than the girls on this cast themselves. Except maybe Maria Thayer. . . .


Harry Potter - A really fun movie to cap off the series that I was initially quite skeptical of. This was a lot of fun, and there's a reason it made like eleventy billion dollars.


Super 8 - I think everyone should get Super 8 and Attack the Block and watch them back to back in a double feature of alien invasion movies. This, aside from being huge on the nostalgia factor of the simpler-by-comparison 1980's, was just a great movie about kids finding an alien in their small town. The other thing I loved about this movie? In an era where spoilers are posted all over the internet months before a movie hits theaters, everyone kept the secret on this.


Foo Fighters Back and Forth - Hands down, my favorite movie and experience of SXSW 2011. And compared to the other major rock doc from this year, PJ20, this was far better storytelling, far more insightful, and was far more warts on the warts and all storytelling. Grohl is honest about his mad scientist side and how it almost broke up the band several times. They're honest about Cobain, his legacy, and drummer Taylor Hawkins' overdose. And we get an amazing, behind the scenes view of Wasting Light, in my opinion, the best album of the year (more on that in a second). We get to see Dave Grohl the superstar who rocks Wembley Stadium, and the dad who promises to go swimming with his daughter. I don't know if this had enough of a wide release to qualify for a Best Documentary Oscar, but it deserves it.


Phineas and Ferb Across the 2nd Dimension - speaking of Oscars, if this had played in theaters it would be my choice for Best Animated Feature of the year. For the uninitiated, Phineas and Ferb are two brothers who try to make the most out of every day of summer, usually by building huge contraptions or robots, and then their older sister Candace tries to "bust" them for their age-inappropriate activities. Oh, and they have a pet platypus who is also a secret agent, who fights the evil Dr. Doofenschmirtz, preventing him from taking over the tri-state area. There are moments in movies that bring me  pure joy: when the X-wings lock their s-foils into attack position in Star Wars, when Darth Maul lights up the second blade on his lightsaber in Episode I, when Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli jump off the boat in Return of the King. . . .and now, when Phineas and Ferb discover all of the awesome inventions they've ever built in the tv show, and then use them to fight off a huge robot army. This movie also has a huge heart- it's essentially a story about two boys and their pet. But it also involves travel across dimensions, and an alternate dimension (one of my favorite sci-fi concepts of all times), and a soundtrack that features Slash. But when the boys discover their pet has been lying to them all these years about his double life, they're incredibly hurt. By the end of the movie, the boys have forgiven him, making the incredibly mature decision that sometimes lying to them, as children, is ok in order to shield them from the much scarier world out there. Interesting moral. Oh, and did I mention the voice of Perry (well, the one sound he makes) is none other than Dee Bradley Baker? Yeah, awesome sauce.


Star Wars: The Old Republic/The Clone Wars series - 2011 has been the best year for Star Wars since we had both prequels in theaters and Bioware's Knights of the Old Republic on our computers. This year's episodes of the Clone Wars were epic, and yet also able to scale down to the very personal and fun. The perfect mix of action and fun. And then we have The Old Republic, which I have been raving about since I played it at Comic-Con. How fun is it? Just getting small tastes of it earlier this year, I cancelled my World of Warcraft subscription. It was kind of a "one you've seen the bright lights of the city you can never go back to the farm" situation. As Star Wars fans, we've been blessed this year.


The Descendants - this is the best film of 2011. Hands down. CinemaBlend also gave it the #1 line of dialogue of the year, with which I HEARTILY agree. Everything about this movie is pitch perfect and spot on. This should win all the Oscars. No need to say any more than that.


Foo Fighters - Wasting Light - The documentary was amazing, but the album is epic. It has not left my car's cd player since I bought it in April. I gave this album 6 stars in my review, and it deserves it. And why the hell isn't this on ANYBODY'S top lists for 2011?  Oh, right-- I hate music critics.


The Walking Dead - This series had big shoes to fill in terms of expectations-- namely of its last season. And fans and critics were concerned that the loss of Frank Darabont would cripple the series creatively. Well, we still miss Frank, but I think I heard more discussion of the final episode this year of any other show or movie except maybe American Horror Story. If you would have told me 3 years ago that the Walking Dead would be a major cultural phenomenon, I would have laughed at you. And here we are.  Bravo.  Oh, and everyone who just got a nook for holidays, all of the comics are available to download as apps.  Fun times.

And the #1 of 2011 is. . . . 


Marvel movies - Captain America, X-men: First Class, and Thor. Every time I watch these movies I like them more and more. Marvel Studios, as an entity, continues to impress the hell out of me.  And given the HUGE amount of skepticism I came into the film regarding Fox's handling of X-men as a franchise, I was beyond pleasantly surprised. Michael Fassbender may be a better Magneto than Ian McKellen? Preposterous!! But. . . maybe? Thor was incredibly fun, and Cap was maybe the best of the three. . . but it's almost like picking among favorites of my children. Certain parts of each was my favorite of each. Just a ton of fun, and makes me want to see Joss Whedon's The Avengers all the more.

And that is why it is my #1 most anticipated thing of 2012.

Have a happy new year everyone!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Marvel Comics embraces SOPA, Merry Marvel Marching Society breaks out Pitchforks and Torches

Originally posted at BigShinyRobot.com

If you haven't heard of the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, you might not spend enough time online. But recent exposure of Marvel's support for the bill has outraged fans across the internet on major comics news sites, blogs and forums and Twitter, calling for retaliation against The House of Ideas.

I understand why Marvel would support the bill. First, and most importantly, being an owned subsidiary of The House of Mouse (Disney/ABC/ESPN, etc) they now have to toe the corporate line. Second, comics are incredibly pirated products. Just doing a search on major bit torrent sites and you can. . . .well, pretty much download most every major Marvel comic from the last 70 years and fit it on a large external hard drive. That's pretty terrible if you think about it. And, let's be fair- DC is pro-SOPA as well, at least inasmuch as they are a part of the larger Time Warner family of corporations.

Let me state again, for the record, that we at BSR (and Darth Politico) are ANTI-piracy. We are pro-comics, and piracy is a major problem with the industry today, just as with all entertainment media. We respect the rights of creators who put their genius into delivering greatness into our hands every week, every month, and respect their rights to get paid. We even point you to some of our favorites in the realm of digital comics-- one of which, I would like to point out, is about Marvel digital comics on sale. We love comics, we are anti-piracy and pro-digital distribution. Absolutely.

But, just as categorically I can state that SOPA will not help one bit. The bill will allow any person to make a claim against a website (say BigShinyRobot. . . or Google. . . or YouTube. . .or Flikr) that it is hosting copyrighted materials, and without an investigation, without a warrant, without any probable cause-- just a complaint-- the host ISP has to shut the ENTIRE SITE down. Take, for example, the image I've used to in this post. This is one of my favorite comic book covers from books I collected when I was younger. I've added the "This is what Wolverine does to Pirates" which makes my use of this image fall under "fair use."  But if someone were to complain, they could-- and shut down the entire site without any adjudication by any legal authority. Not only does SOPA violate basic principles of due process, it uses a nuclear bomb to strike at a gnat.

The real target, proponents say, is the plethora of sites that host torrents which contain copyrighted material. Unfortunately, a lot of these are offshore and not subject to US law, SOPA or otherwise. The bill tries to target them but in reality will do nothing to stop overseas hosting of copyrighted material, much less the ability of people to use peer-to-peer sharing to move these files.

SOPA's roots are also questionable. The titular sponsor and proponent of the bill is Texas Congressman Lamar Smith, but the bill was, in fact, written behind closed doors by a lobbyist for the media industry. Surprise, surprise, his single biggest campaign contributor is ClearChannel, and the biggest industry to give to him is media (so much for Hollywood being run by liberals, right?) giving Smith a nice $1.3 million in his campaign warchest. . . despite as of yet having any challengers in the 2012 elections.  (As a matter of full disclosure, I REALLY hate Lamar Smith. He is behind Texas's current gerrymandering efforts which were ruled to violate the Civil Rights Act and disenfranchise minority voters in Texas, and I am literally a hair's breadth away from being his constituent-- if I lived just a half mile west of where I do I might be in his district.)

As if this bill weren't as dumb as it already is, we're also ceding the next generation of internet sites, a sector America currently dominates, to developers in other countries. Youtube has stated that if SOPA were the law of the land 10 years ago, it never would have survived to become what it is today.  Imagine hosting the next generation video, social networking, or media sharing site and then have it shut down before it even has the chance to fully take off because someone uploads copywrited material to the site. This is what we are facing. No wonder huge media conglomerates like Time Warner, Comcast, and Clear Channel are for it-- they can stamp out the competition by crying wolf.

So, SOPA is a terrible idea. What do we do instead? Well, as much as I dislike Lamar Smith, I also really dislike Darryl Issa of California and Jason Chaffetz of my old hometown of Provo, UT. But, they have an alternative bill, the OPEN Act, which citizens can see and make suggestions about online at http://www.keepthewebopen.com/ . It's much better, and AOL, eBay, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Mozilla, Twitter, Yahoo, and Zynga agree: "This approach targets foreign rogue sites without inflicting collateral damage on legitimate, law-abiding U.S. Internet companies by bringing well-established international trade remedies to bear on this problem."

As much as changing the law to target overseas rogue sites, the key to defeating piracy is simply to change the business model. Let's talk about Napster and the RIAA. Napster was eventually shut down and changed their business model, but in the meantime people started using BearShare, Limewire, KaZaA, etc, etc, and the RIAA went about suing individual users. . . .until along came iTunes. It gave people what they wanted (mp3s) in the way they wanted to buy it (purchase a single track or an entire album). Music piracy has not stopped, but far more people use iTunes than download music illegally these days.

The same is true for pirating movies and tv shows online. Netflix, Hulu, Crackle, Amazon, iTunes-- all of them are far preferable to torrenting a movie or show. And people use them. And while film piracy has not gone away, it's hard to say that it is cutting into Hollywood profits that extensively. As we reported a few days ago about the most downloaded movies of 2011, most of them were #1 at the box office for at least some point, and most of them made over $100 million dollars.

Marvel, we get it. We understand why you have to do this. But don't expect us to take it lying down.

As I previously recounted, I got a Nook Tablet this Christmas-- largely because of their deal with Marvel Comics.  Well, with the new software update taking away my ability to root the device, and my ability taken away to load the Marvel and Comixology apps. . . .well. . . . I'm not so happy. My workaround has been to read Marvel Digital Comics online through their site, which is a little clumsy, but I'm willing to do until Marvel and B&N actually get an app ready for us.

But this is the last straw. I will GLADLY pay the subscription fee to Marvel's all-you-can-eat digital comics releases, and I will pay for individual issues as they come out if I like them enough. But not if this is how you treat your loyal customers.

As of the end of my next billing cycle, I will no longer subscribe to Marvel Digital. I'm not saying whether or not I'm going to start pirating comics, but you can bet I'm going to go to my local public library and check them out instead.

Let me also leave you with these bits of wisdom, first from, of all places, Star Wars: "The more you tighten your grip, the more star systems will slip through your fingers."

The recent success of Louis CK's comedy special and Radiohead's In Rainbows album, both of which allowed a download from their website on an honor system/pay what you want, show that fans will reward creators of content-- But when given freely first, and the small minority of pirates be damned.

And lastly, "With great power comes great responsibility." Marvel, you are powerful. Your fans care about you, and you have a brand loyalty that even Apple would kill for. Rescind your support for SOPA, support the OPEN alternative.

And for the rest of you loyal robots-- call your Congressman and Senator and tell them NO on SOPA. (But don't call until next Tuesday because Dec 30th and Jan 2nd are federal holidays) Believe me, I work in politics and advocacy professionally: your calls REALLY DO matter. And 2012 is an election year. With Congressional approval ratings at 9%. . . your Representative and Senator better damn well listen to you, or maybe start looking for another job is 2013.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Google to launch Majel, voice of the Enterprise computer, to combat Apple's Siri

SILICON VALLEY - Apple's Siri is a fun add-on to your iPhone, no doubt about it.  A little creepy, yes, but nonetheless cool.

Not to be outdone, Google has announced it will launch a similar service in January or February of 2012. The kicker? Google's app will be named after Star Trek legend Majel Barrett, who provided the voice of the ship's computer in most of the Star Trek franchises. including 2009's JJ Abrams reboot, which was released shortly after Barrett's death at the age of 76.

Scotty tries to talk to a computer in the 1980s,
from Star Trek IV
Barrett also played "Number One", the second in command of the Enterprise in the original Star Trek pilot, Nurse Chapel through many episodes of the original series, and the irrepressible Lwaxanna Troi, daughter of the Fifth House of Betazed, the Holder of the Sacred Chalice of Rixx, and Heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed (and don't you forget it!) in Star Trek: the Next Generation and Deep Space Nine.

In real life, Majel was also a homewrecker I mean, married to Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and father of Eugene "Rod" Roddenberry.

Regardless, this is an insanely cool development and makes me incredibly happy I bought an Android phone. I had a little bit of Siri-envy, I'll admit it, but the fact that this will be a Google product (and therefore probably tied into Google Maps, Youtube, and other members of the vast Google data empire) makes me even happier. The icing on the cake is the Star Trek tie-in.

This has been a long time coming, since Google CEO Eric Schmidt earlier indicated that services like Siri would create a problem for Google's business model (ie, without a visual interface there's no place to put ads), so this should hopefully keep the house of BigData sated for a while.

And give the rest of us a Star Trek fix in the meantime.

What about the rest of you androids and robots? Is anyone getting a Droid or iPhone for Christmas/Robannukkah and does this sway your purchasing decision in any way?

Citizen-Bot appears courtesy of BigShinyRobot! where this story originally appeared here.