Archive of November, 2006
November 13, 2006:
· The episode of Galactica that aired Friday put the lie to part of my hypothesis, so it's been updated. Nothing major, and they kinda-sorta explained how it can affect cylons. As an aside, you can tell Ronald Moore didn't like writing the technobabble on Star Trek: The Next Generation: One instance of (minor) technobabble was quite literally hand-waved away :)
· Again, on Friday's ep, there was a scene in which Helo went against orders. As he puts his plan into action he removes his dog-tags. Symbolic, I think: He's acting outside his role as the ship's XO. Nah, he just needed a screwdriver. They have ships that can travel in intersteller space and shrug off a nuke, yet nobody carries a leatherman?
· I forgot that Saturday was a federal holiday (Veteran's Day) so I didn't get my canceled check. Hopefully it'll come in the mail tonight.
November 09, 2006:
Not much was on the agenda in Virginia Tuesday; state elections happen one year after the presidential elections. But there were a few things of importance on the ballot, so here's what the voting machine (allegedly) recorded from my time there:
George "Macaca" Allen (R) vs. Jim "Lieberman Democrat" Webb (D)
My vote: Webb
This was a continuation of the "throw the bums out" voting program I started in 2004. The Democrats may not be any better, but we'd just be throwing good money/resources/people after bad by keeping the Republicans in power. As it stands, the senate is 50-49 in favor of the Dems; they need Webb to win to gain a majority since if they tie 50-50 Cheney would make it 51-50 on a tiebreaker.
Edit, 4:44 PM: Apparently the news organizations are calling it for Webb, and Allen is "disinclined" to request a recount. Even though I want him to lose I don't see why he wouldn't want a recount; the determining factor was something like a third of a percent of the votes cast. Forget about conspiracies, you can swing the vote that much with a good, clean, honest foul-up.
Virginia District 11
Thom Davis (R) vs. Andrew "Who?" Hurst
My vote: Hurst
I didn't really have a strong opinion about this race until not too long before the election, and it had nothing to do with policy. Apparently Davis opposed a housing development in/near Vienna because too many "urban types" ("brown people"?) might move in and vote Democrat. That earned him a nice big "fuck you" at the booth. Didn't really expect Hurst to win, though.
State Issue 1: Gay-Marriage Constitutional Ban
My vote: No
The result has no effect on me, but I can't honestly believe that this is one of the most important issues facing the state. Does two gay people getting married actually hurt anybody, or was this just a bunch of Baptists and rednecks voting that being gay is "icky"?
State Issue 2: Remove Prohibition on Church Incorporation from Constitution
My vote: Yes
The state constitution contains (contained) a passage preventing churches from incorporating. This was rules unconstitutional so the passage couldn't be enforced anyway. No harm in removing it, so why not tidy up the books a bit?
State Issue 3: More Local Property Tax Break Powers
My vote: Yes
Currently local governments have the ability to provide partial exemptions on property tax on old properties that have undergone substantial improvement. The amendment allows them to do the same for new construction (which I would consider an improvement). Maybe we can even bring some more "urban types" into the area...
Local Issue 1: Bonds for Emergency Services
My vote: Yes
This was to use the county's AAA bond rating (the best possible, with the lowest interest rates) to raise money to improve emergency services to cope with the increasing poulation. Sounded like a good idea to me. I have no idea if it passed though, since the Fairfax County web site routes me to the main Virginia elections page... which for local issues sends me right back to fairfaxcounty.gov. Oops?
Edit, 4:44 PM: Found it. The results are in the PDF labeled "Countywide Turnout Report". Yeah, that makes sense.
Local Issue 2: Bonds for Parks
My vote: Abstained
Similar to the previous issue, this was to raise money for park improvements and (if I remember right) land purchases. I don't really use the parks, but I didn't want to vote against it either.
And that's it. Not much to vote on this time around, and a little disappointment that my state of residence lived up to the stereotype of the intolerant southerner.
November 07, 2006:
Just in case you managed to miss it, it's election day today. Each congresscritter is up for election, and the odds are 2-to-1 that one of your state's senators is also up, in addition to state/local offices and propositions. So go vote. An'at.
Verizon Retardation Update: My March/April '05 bank statement came in the mail Saturday, an eight-day turnaround time from the day I mailed the check. I called in to request the actual check
(and mailed a check to cover the duplication cost) faxed in a request with my signature on it yesterday, so on Tuesday the 14th Saturday the 11th I should come home to find the check and be able to fax it to Verizon the next day. A mere 50 47 days after the letter denying me credit was mailed.
Edit, 9:17 AM: Since I write these before they post (this was written Saturdy night) I had to guess at what was going to happen. Then when things turned out differently yesterday I forgot to update things. They wanted a fax (now that I have the account number they can't do this over the phone, apparently) and it seems they were nice enough to waive the fee, since when I called in the lady said the check had already been ordered. So that should cut out the travel time from my outgoing check and get my proof of Verizon's idiocy to me quicker.
November 06, 2006:
I was talking to Evan a few days ago about my thoughts on where Battlestar Galactica is heading, with both Cylons and Colonials trying to find Earth. With the tack the episode "Torn" took Friday night I figured I'd better get everything out here now, just in case I turn out to be right :)
The premise of the show is that, after the destruction of their civilization by the Cylons, the Colonials go off in search of a new home. According to their scriptures, which tell the tale of their exodus from their homeworld of Kobol about 2,000 years ago, the first colony to leave wasn't one of their twelve, but a thirteenth colony that found a planet called Earth.
In the original series there was a heavy dose of Egyptian influence, including the pharoh-like helmets the human fighter pilots wore. In the new series the influences are much more Greek and Roman. This works better for viewers because Western European civilization ultimately derives from Greco-Roman underpinnings -- the show becomes slightly more accessible to viewers that way.
But it also opens up a possibility, and one I hope the writers created on purpose.
The twelve colonies left Kobol 2,000 of their years ago. But before they left they set up the "map" that Galactica's crew found at the beginning of season two. That means the "thirteenth" colony (really the first) left Kobol before the others, and had time to send back their message detailing that from Earth's sky they could see the flags of the other twelve colonies in the stars -- the constellations we now call the zodiac.
Skipping up to Friday's episode, they also had time to head back out and leave markers for any future travelers. (Or maybe they left the beacons on their way, but I prefer the first option for a reason I'll get to.) That means that they were on Earth for a while before the mass (and near-apocalyptic, to see the effect it had on Colonial civilization) exodus from Kobol.
Accounting for the fact that their years might be longer (the twelve colonies were twelve planets, all co-orbiting the same star -- they'd have to orbit a larger star farther out to avoid screwing up each other's tides, thus having longer years) puts the initial landing on Earth at well over 2,000 years ago; about the time that Greek politics, science and technology started to come into its own. The Greek Solon, teacher of Plato, was born in 638 BCE -- 2,644 years ago. And Solon was born in Athens, Athena in Greek, the city named for the same goddess whose tomb the Colonials found the map in last season.
Granted, this is all reading (far too much) into a television show that we have fewer than 40 hours of footage of, but it sounds like a good case for who the thirteenth colony is and their impact on Earth. It would also explain how Earth could be the thirteenth colony even though we now know that (our form of) human life evolved here. A small group of Colonials, on a (self-imposed?) exile from Kobol, found our world and opted to settle it together.
They would have to have known that they were practically assured to not be genetically compatible with the humans they found here -- they may not have the same number of chromosomes as us, maybe not even the same DNA components -- so in order to propogate their colony they would have stuck together. Maybe they chose the Greek city-states for some reason, maybe they landed the first place they could. Maybe they built the Greek city-states. But a sudden influx of new ideas and technologies could explain how the Greeks managed to get a leg up on the civilizations they were competing with.
Which leaves the Colonial beacon that I said I'd get back to. It seems to me that after finding Earth, some of them went back to Kobol to tell their tale and maybe bring back some things. (We haven't seen evidence that I can remember to tell us Colonials have faster-than-light communication, so messages would have to be delivered by ship.) That could explain dogs... I can suspend disbelief that one species of theirs looks like ours (people) but the more there are the more of a stretch it is. Maybe they brought them back because they make good pets. Have we seen any other forms of life on the show? Which means they may have dropped the beacon on the way back to Kobol, after they knew they'd found a place to live. A probe that, after exposure to our atmosphere, was covered in Earth pathogens. Bacteria and viruses that had 2,500 or so years to be bombarded by interstellar radiation, waiting to be warmed back up. And the Cylons found the beacon and brought it into their ship. And the nasties, that probably are no more severe than a common cold or the bacteria that live in our guts, that had been dosed with millennia of radiation were fruitful and multiplied. And started killing off the Cylons. If they were colonial germs the Cylons would have figured it out and possibly saved themselves. But they didn't know what it was. They'd never seen it before. Because it came from Earth.
So that's how I think the first colony comes into play later on, and who they are and who we are. Whether a small cadre of Colonials still exists in the hills of Greece, hiding their spacecraft from view, and whether BSG happens in our past, present or future, is one I'll graciously leave to the writers ;)
Edit, 11/12/06 8:45 PM: Well, the writers shot down part of my theory handily: The bug on the probe was an old Colonial disease that the colonies had developed an immunity to. There was also an electro-something-or-other property to the virus, which explains how it affected the cylons at all. Helo's Sharon was immune due to mumble-mumble antibodies mumble-mumble baby mumble-mumble. So anyway, she won't die. Now, the last major outbreak of that particular disease (carried by rats) was 3,000 years ago, so the beacon was still left either by the first colony or by someone on Kobol who wanted to make a billboard for future travelers.