Letters to Holly

Thursday, March 2

Lent and "Lost" (no spoilers)

Your Sister stuck to her Lent guns and hit the gym again. She wears mighty cute workout clothes. Mighty cute. I did not go to the gym yet as I promised myself I wouldn’t until I finish the pile of paperwork she needs help with. School stuff, you know. The day I begin my non-PS2 Lent is the day I hear about this fantastic new game released on Tuesday. Grr.

“Lost” was new last night, and it was solid from start to finish. You have to catch up so we can yap about it. But if you start watching new episodes without seeing the rest of the first season, I think you’re brain would pop. The progress made in two years is both completely out of left field and strangely underwhelming. I mean, if you watch that spectacular first episode and then watch something from the last two months, you may as well be watching two different shows. I can’t tell if I’m happy with the direction they’ve gone, and I admit that’s perhaps because of a full year of online speculation. I’ve seen so many theories – and presented and amended my own – that I’m saturated by the myriad potential directions. It’s still a great show to watch, very well done on all levels. The best I can say about it is that the writers seem to know where they want to go and what the answers will be. If we get a satisfying conclusion when the series winds down, it may become the best, most accessible sci-fi show TV has produced since “Twilight Zone.” What’s that, you say? “Star Trek?” Nah, Fan fiction and nostalgia made that show last. The subsequent series all surpass what the original show presented, although the original “Next Generation” seasons are painfully dated. It took a few years before it became really good.

The Picture of the Day
I waited a few days to post this pending some proof that it’s fake. But apparently, it’s real. Let’s say it is. As much as I support wide-open debate, this smells instead like desperate spin.

In the news
A newly released administration video conference call tape shows the president and former FEMA chief Mike Brown were warned that the levees could be “topped” during Hurricane Katrina. Some are saying this counters the president’s subsequent comments that no one could predict the levees would break. I don’t think this is proof of an abject lie. It does however suggest that higher-ups failed to toke seriously the potential damage warnings. The end result is the same: FEMA dropped the ball, and while Bush can’t be held directly responsible for that, it does leave another bruise on his tenure. The continuing mismanagement of resources isn’t helping.

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Bush convinced India to join a nuclear treaty that would allow inspectors to check some of that country’s reactors. We’ll give them equipment and material even though they have yet to sign the proliferation treaty, just like Iran. Granted, India is a lot more friendly to us than Iran. A suicide bombing before Bush’s visit killed a U.S. diplomat in Pakistan.

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The cardinal of Los Angeles is leading the effort within the Catholic Church to ignore the Immigration Reform Act calling for churches to validate immigration status before offering services. The cardinal and a group of church officers say they won’t obey the act if it becomes a law, even if it means jailtime. I have to say I agree with them. The church has historically been a locus of sanctuary; it’s almost a cliché in storytelling. You can’t expect priests to turn in illegals or turn the needy away without paperwork. They can’t ask for a green card while delivering the wafers. If the government wants to grab these people that badly, they need to beef up border security, not rely on the clergy to turn them in.

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The NFL is nearing a fiasco as talks break down between labor and management. The argument is, of course, over money. The players want a bigger percentage of the collective bargaining agreement; this provides for all teams to share an equal percentage of a profit pool and limits teams to a salary cap. They can only spend so much on payroll. The talks break down just a free agency begins, and the question looms: If there is no new deal on the CBA, will the 2007 season have any salary caps? Will owners have any limits on what they can offer players around the league in order to build a Super Bowl-ready team? If you’re a lowly perennial cellar-dweller team, would you spend everything to make a team that can instantly contend? The absolute worst outcome would be another player lockout, like the one that lead to the scab-player season. That would be worse than no season at all, as with pro hockey last year. I think this will get worked out; the NFL is the nation’s biggest sport culturally and too many would lose too much by its stumbling.

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