What I Watched Last Summer

I didn’t spend the summer traveling around the world.  I neither toured the Grand Canyon, getting lost while chasing an Indian kid, nor did I go to Hawaii and find an old Tiki idol and get cursed.

But I did watch television.

Back in, what is euphemistically called,” the day,” there was one television season.  It started in the fall, and ended in the spring.  And as a kid, you were expected to go play outside all summer because what else were you going to do, watch reruns?  But now, the new shows never end.  There are at least three TV watching seasons now, the traditional fall season, the mid season replacement, beginning in January through February, and of course summer.  With cable, there is never a time when there isn’t a run of new shows.  So this summer, I gave two summer shows a try.


Although this show has been described as a mocumentary; that’s not really accurate.  It would be fairer to say that this is a faux reality show that gradually turns into something like a thriller, and it could probably be said to go in other directions. The design, music, first person filming, and graphics are all that of a typical reality show.  Sitting down watching the first episode, if no one told you that this was anything other than the normal, run of the mill reality show, you would have no reason to think otherwise.

That fades quickly as the series move on.  From a survival contest in the Siberian wilderness, the show gradually comes more urgent as odd things happen and the contestants aren’t sure if they are being messed with by the producers or if there is something else going on.  Eventually the show’s production camp is discovered abandoned with all the signs of an attack.  The “button” that lets you quit the show and call for transportation out of the area?  Not only does it not work, it was never hooked up in the first place.

Curiouser and curiouser as they say.

It would be giving away to much to say much more, other than the show looks like it could go in several directions, a thriller, a science fiction tale, or something of the supernatural, however don’t expect all, or even most of the questions to be answered by the season one finale.  So whether this show is worth jumping on depends on whether the show is renewed.  Right now, that doesn’t look likely.  But stay tuned.  If the show does get renewed, it’s worth giving a look.

Under The Dome

I’ve not read Stephen King in ages, so I have not read the book this show was based on.  That was probably for the best given previous attempts to translate King’s works to both the big and small screen. Still this show was mildly entertaining, although too kid-heavy, as King’s works tend to be.  I doubt kids are drawn to shows that have kids in them unless the show is about kids, like the shows on the Nickelodeon or Disney.

The show has all the familiar King tropes; only the kids know what’s really going on, crooked ministers and a total misunderstanding of  actual human behavior. In one episode, the evil town councilman “Big” Jim Rennie (Dean Norris) manages to talk virtually the entire town to turn in their guns.  During a time when food, water, and medicine are in short supply, and the police are seriously undermanned, the last thing people would be willing to do is line up and meekly turn in their guns so the town councilman can store them at his house.  Not even people in Maine would do that.

The town councilman character is supposed to be based on Dick Cheney, but knowing that from the beginning of the show, I didn’t see any comparisons between Dick Cheney and Rennie.  I don’t know what they are supposed to be other than Rennie is evil, and I’m sure per King’s thinking Cheney is evil… a thin reed to base a character on.  Frankly, if I was in a town trapped under a Dome, I wouldn’t mind a Dick Cheney there.  At least he wouldn’t try to take my guns.

King’s total ignorance and/or hatred of religion continues in this series in the same vein has many of his other works.  The minister is not only crazy, but he’s involved in some crazy drug manufacturing scheme with the town councilman.  Unlike Breaking Bad, which shows step by step how a good man can go bad, the minister starts off as both crazy and bad, and therefore just doesn’t seem realistic. As was pointed out on the Lion of the Blogosphere blog, the lack of religion on the show seems quite a contrast to an actual small town in the United States. A dome descends on a typical small town USA, and no one thinks there are any religious implications to that, nor do they even think about going to church or seeking some sort of spiritual guidance.  It takes almost the entire first season before that occurs to the townspeople. There may be an atheistic small town or two somewhere in America, but I doubt there common enough for the town’s strange behavior to seem normal to a regular viewing audience.

So there is much to critique on this show, but when it comes back next summer, I’ll probably watch it.

Hey, I want to see who made the dome!

Dental Hygienists: It’s Not Just Woman’s Work

I have a regular Dentist, and a Periodontist.  So twice a year I go for a cleaning at my regular dentist, and twice a year I go for a cleaning at my Periodontist’s office.  The difference is that at the Periodontist’s, it’s not called a cleaning, it’s called periodontal maintenance, which for me means I get my dental insurance to pay for 4 cleanings a year instead of 2.  So when it comes to regular dental hygiene, I’m a frequent flyer.

But I’m still capable of being shocked, as I was today while sitting in the waiting room waiting for my periodontal maintenance, I was called into the treatment room…

…by a man.

Yes, my dental hygienist was a dude.  I don’t, in all my years, ever recall seeing a male dental hygienist.  There is obviously no practical reason why there shouldn’t be male hygienists and in fact they apparently have been out there for a while. According to the New York Times, 90% of dental hygienists are women so while women are the overwhelming majority; men are making an impact in the field.

You go guys, keep breaking that glass ceiling.

Now, my hygienist, or maybe I should say, mangienist, was a total professional and as far as I could tell from a patient perspective, did a great job.  However I admit being uncomfortable with the fact that he was a guy, and I say that with the total awareness that any uncomfortable feelings are totally irrational.  It shouldn’t matter if my dental hygienist is male or female; I should just be interested in a quality cleaning by a well training professional who makes me comfortable with the process.

But I wasn’t comfortable.

I’m not the only one.  A recent survey of dentists showed that 30% would not hire a male dental hygienist, even if he was the most qualified.  That does sound unfair but they’re probably worried about patients being uncomfortable with one.  I’m used to my dental hygienist being a female so I fall in that category.

Interestingly, the fact that a woman is a dental hygienist seems to make her hotter than what her normal sexual market value would be.  It’s an occupation that’s worth at least a 1 to 1.5 bump on the standard 10 point hotness scale. I’m guessing because the actual practice of teeth cleaning seems intimate. She’s in your mouth; she’s leaning over you and invading your personal space in a major way.  Your hand, innocently holding onto the arm of the chair, brushes against her as she moves around.  You didn’t move; she did.  Did she brush against you on purpose?

Often after a dental cleaning you’re ready for a cigarette.

With a guy hygienist, that entire experience is thrown off, and reduced to merely a transactional dental service, like buying toothpaste only more time consuming and inconvenient.  Actually it’s worse, because your entire typical expectations of having your teeth cleaned by a woman are inverted.  Suddenly intimacy becomes intrusion. And where do I put my hands?  Not on the arms of the patient’s chair.  In fact, I was originally going to name this post, “Help!  There’s a Man in my Mouth!”  However thinking about the possible Google searches that would be misdirected towards me, I decided against it.

Now I know this is ridiculous. My dentists and dental specialists for the last 20 years or so have all been men, and I’ve never felt any awkwardness or discomfort based on that.  So there is no logical reason I shouldn’t be able to adapt to a simple cleaning being done by a man.  But it is an end of an era; an era in which I could be titillated by regular oral maintenance.

And yes, I flossed.

UN Ambassador Puts ‘The Onion’ Out of Business

Every time I think I’m done talking about Syria, the Obama administration pulls me back in.  But this time I’m pulled in not to discuss policy, but to just throw up my hands and give out a hearty “Oh Good Grief,” Charlie Brown style.

I’ve previously wrote here and here about the absolutely amateurish way the Obama administration is handling their self made Syria “crisis.”  But it seems the amateurishness and naivety runs all the way through this administration.

Last Friday UN ambassador Samantha Power spoke to the Center for American Progress, a left wing advocacy organization, on Syria, in an effort to shore up support among President Obama’s normally reliable allies; some of whom are feeling a bit queasy in supporting missile strikes against Syria. I don’t know successful she was in convincing a group of people who are normally anti-war no matter what that this was a good old fashioned humanitarian war, but she did reveal an astonishing lack of realism regarding Russia and Iran as she related in her speech:

“We worked with the U.N. to create a group of inspectors and then worked for more than six months to get them access to the country on the logic that perhaps the presence of an investigative team in the country might deter future attacks or, if not, at a minimum, we thought perhaps a shared evidentiary base could convince Russia or Iran — itself a victim of Saddam Hussein’s monstrous chemical weapons attacks in 1987-1988 — to cast loose a regime that was gassing its people. We expanded and accelerated our assistance to the Syrian opposition. We supported the U.N. Commission of Inquiry. “

So… our UN ambassador, who is part of the team that is crafting US foreign policy, thought that by showing proof that Syria was actually using chemical weapons; Iran and Russia, on some sort of vague humanitarian grounds, would drop their support of the Syrian government.  I can only conclude that we have high school model UN’s that are more serious than this administration’s UN ambassador.

There doesn’t seem to be much to add to that.  I can’t imagine that the governing class of either Russia or Iran cares about videos of gassed children.  These are amoral and deadly serious regimes that are playing the long game. The fact that the Obama administration thought that would make a difference in Russian or Iranian calculations is ridiculous.  Did they really think that those governments were just sitting around blindly supporting the Syrian government and would be shocked, shocked (once again, with apologies to Captain Renault!) that Syrians are using gas on the battlefield?

I think this puts the administration beyond parody.  I mean, how do you top that? That’s why I think the Obama administration has finally broken the back of The Onion.  There is no way The Onion will be able craft a more ludicrous story than this real one.

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Syria Backtrack

I was as shocked as anyone that President Obama did an about face on firing his phallic symbol-like missiles in Assad’s general direction.  Although I had previously called the administration amateurish, they managed to redefine the word amateur down.

First we’re going to attack, then we’re going to get Congressional approval, but don’t worry, that doesn’t matter, since Obama states he still has the authority to attack anyway, and will, regardless of the vote.


Although there are conspiracy theories that the rebels, not the Assad government, actually used chemical weapons as a false flag to trick the US into intervening, I prefer to consider such theories ridiculous until proven otherwise.   As far as figuring out a position on what to do in Syria, I’m just taking the administration’s word that the intelligence is good, and that Assad is the culprit.

However that doesn’t give guidance on how the US should react.

I would really like to support the President in this.  Politics stops at the water’s edge and all that’ however Obama has managed to make it as difficult as possible to support a policy in which the publically stated goals are to accomplish nothing.  They’re not to destroy Assad’s chemical weapons, cripple the regime, or do anything of any military significance. It’s a military mission with no military objectives, and frankly, not even political ones.

Syria isn’t a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention, so in a technical sense, they didn’t actually violate “International law.”  The administration is well aware of that since they use terminology “International Norms,” which means things that the international community, such as it is, doesn’t like.  Although no one in the international community feels their norms were violated enough to actually do something about it.

Obama should have just fired his missiles last week without all of the foreplay and advanced warning.  We would have already been on to another issue by now with the feeling that we had sort of accomplished something.  Instead, there was the desperate pleading for international support, an embarrassing House of Commons vote, and now an upcoming Congressional vote that’s likely to be even more embarrassing.

And how will Congress vote?  Very unconventionally apparently.  Noted warmonger Rep. Nancy Pelosi, after wresting with the issue with her 5 year old grandson, is on board to attack Syria. And John McCain, between Smartphone games of poker, is always up for another bombing.  How will the rest of the Congress vote?  It’s not as easy to predict.  Although I can guess how a certain young Illinois lawmaker would have voted:

Official photographic portrait of US President...

Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama (born 4 August 1961; assumed office 20 January 2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now let me be clear–I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied U.N. resolutions, thwarted U.N. inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity.

He’s a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.

But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.

But the 2002 edition of Barrack Obama was quite a bit different from the current model.

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