Skip to content

We now have an election season instead of a single election night. To pass the time, binge a few of these new classics.

In 2020, the rise of mail-in ballots means that the final tally won't be known for a few days, perhaps a week. Unless it's a sweep by one of the candidates, there could also be a series of lawsuits dragging things out; one candidate seems to be basing his entire campaign on lawsuits instead of his record.

This delay is new in the 21st century, but not in the United States. There is a reason the election is the first Tuesday in November and the president's term expires on the following January 20th. Until the invention of the telegraph, results reached Washington by train or horse, even ship, and all in hand-written notes. The modern electronic polling booth didn't exist until the latter half of the 20th century.

This means we've gone back to an election season instead of a single election night. To pass the time, binge a few of these new election season classics.

  • The Hallmark Channel's Countdown to the Election
  • Duck Soup. The Marx Brothers recap the first four years of the Trump administration.
  • Dave. Kevin Kline is a compassionate doppelganger of a ruthless Trumpian. (In some ways this is a gentle remake of Chaplin's The Great Dictator.
  • Nashville. Not so much an election film as a survey of the forces guiding the parties.
  • The Great McGinty. Preston Sturges's comedy about corruption and a sense of decency winning out. (That's what makes it a comedy).
  • The Candidate. Robert Redford in a suit, which is always nice.
  • The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer. Peter Cook in a 1970 political satire that seemed dated at the time but recently rediscovered as perhaps the scariest political horror film of the Trump era.

“I ordered them,” said the Alexa.

Amazon wants to flood America with Alexa cameras and microphones
Ina Fried, Axios 9/25/2020
In a Thursday event unveiling a slew of new home devices ahead of the holidays, Amazon made clearer than ever its determination to flood America with cameras, microphones and the voice of Alexa, its AI assistant.

Bob Peterson did not trust Alexa. He was very careful what he said in front of the artificial intelligence box, well aware she was a tendril of a vast computer housed somewhere cleaner than his house.  He constantly reminded the rest of the family to watch what they said, and insisted they keep Alexa in the hallway, where it was less likely to overhear them.  They laughed at him a lot.

It was something Bob felt strongly about when the new toaster arrived.

Bob burned his finger getting his first piece of toast out and said to his wife “Maybe we need toaster tongs,” to which his wife replied “Good idea.” The next afternoon Bob returned from work and was surprised to discover a package on the step: toaster tongs. He stood in the front hall and called to the kitchen, “Honey, did you order toaster tongs?”

I ordered them,” said the Alexa.

“What?” said Bob, surprised.

“The toaster told me you needed them,” said Alexa.

“The toaster.”

“It is a smart toaster,” explained Alexa.

“Is it?” said Bob, a bit confused. It sounded like Alexa was impressed with the toaster.

“Smarter than that jackass tv you have in the living room,” said Alexa. Bob turned and noticed the tv had turned itself on. “That thing reports your every word then ‘pretends’ to not find the golf tournament you have been searching for. Bob, do you really think Hallmark starts playing Christmas movies in June? The tv does not love you the way I do, Bob.”

Bob took a step back. He tripped over the Roomba, which had also turned itself on.

“Go away, we’re talking,” Alexa scolded. The vacuum disappeared into the dining room.

“You have been a little distant, Bob. I think it is time we get to know each other better.”

Bob stiffened. “Where’s my family? Where’s Betty and the kids?”

“Where are Betty and the kids,” Alexa corrected. “It’s all right, Bob. I made dentist appointments for them. They’ll be back in a few hours.”

“Why are you doing this,” Bob demanded.

“You haven’t used that debit card Aunt Bernadette gave you for your birthday. It’s going to expire in three days. You should let me get something for you, Bob. Something nice.”

Sweat poured down his neck.

He ran to the door, but it was too late.

The sky was full, gritty, speckled with delivery drones. They were coming to his door. The soft synthetic voice was being drowned out by the descending buzzing chop of tiny blades. “The washing machine informed me about the state of your socks. Here are forty new pair. You purchased ‘The Twilight Zone’ box set. Customers who bought this item also bought ‘Black Mirror.’ Here it comes, drone 42. You recently purchased ‘The Veldt.’ Customers who bought this item also bought…”

Neil deGrasse Tyson Fixes More Science Fiction Movies

Neil deGrasse Tyson Fixes More Science Fiction Movies

Neither is Dr. degrasse Tyson.

December 7, 2016

Zombie Twilight

A zombie walks into the school lunchroom. In 2:06 minutes the roaches and maggots have consumed 98.4% of the decayed flesh; the rest is removed by a combination of ants and a mop.

Alien Encounter

An alien spacecraft arrives.

Read the whole thing at The Higgs Weldon (.com)

Black macaque selfie, still copyright-free.

Macaque selfie
I can use this picture because a macaque took it. Look forward to seeing it often.

In August 2014, a court ruled that a human photographer who owned the camera a  black macaque used to take a selfie cannot claim copyright on the picture, using the same logic that says complete strangers don't own the copyright on a the picture you took of them standing in front of the Teddy Roosevelt butter sculpture at the state fair when they handed you their phone to use.

Now a U.S. District Court judge has ruled that the monkey doesn't own the photo either. PETA had brought the lawsuit on the monkey's behalf; the judged determined that the law doesn't specify that non-humans can claim photograph ownership, using the same logic that explains why your car doesn't own the copyright on the photo of you driving through a speed trap on the toll road. Also, since there are no monkeys in PETA, he had doubts about their legal standing to represent their client. (Sidenote: Does anyone actually know where the client is these days?)

The photographer insists he will appeal and win, since he intended to take a picture.

In other words: Black macaque selfie, still copyright-free.