Episode 134 : The Siri Test

We’ve got sci-fi, politics, and the Producer, all in abundance! So revel in the feeling, people! So many spaceships, so many political parties. So much killing! And sound effects. A lot of sound effects. Enjoy!


Have you ever considered creating alternate language versions of the podcast? E.g. El Sombrero Magico Hablar? — Mark McKibben

Dear Tony and William, Does the US political system come across as stupid to American’s as it does to me as an outsider (sent at the start of the October government shutdown)? — Craig


This is a real thing!

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26 Responses to Episode 134 : The Siri Test

  1. jas says:

    The current gridlock mess is primarily the result of two things*: gerrymandering of districts in the House and the way the filibuster is being used in the Senate. Gerrymandering especially has created some districts which can be won only by expressing extremely conservative views and so you have representatives who are immune to general public opinion–unfortunately just the opposite of the way the House is supposed to work The only hope for change there is change at the state level.

    To be even more specific–the current government shutdown would end if John Boehner wasn’t afraid of losing his position as Speaker of the House. If Boehner brought a bill to the floor for a vote without an attachment about the Affordable Care Act it would pass. He won’t present a bill for a vote because if he does, a majority within his party won’t support him for Speaker anymore.

    The issues of universal health care and gun rights–I think I understand some of the complexities of US culture that Will might be referring to. There is, though, one simple cause that has a huge impact on both of those debates–money. The fact that a single payer system of health care never had a chance here was because of the influence of the insurance companies. And the opposition to an assault weapons ban is being driven by the firearms industry. Their sales were slumping with the drop of interest in hunting in this country and what saved them was the growth in assault weapons sales–beginning in about 2005-2006. Think about the number of mass shootings using assault weapons since then.

    Effects of the shutdown–one that’s been getting a lot of press lately has been closing down clinical trials at NIH which is really having a horrible effect on people who were hoping to begin taking a drug which might be their last hope. I was hearing some of those yesterday and wishing that it could be handled at a local or state level. I think I understand why that’s a federal institution. If a particular state had less money for research, people in that state wouldn’t be able to afford experimental treatments? But I wonder how it could be shifted at least temporarily?

    *Just speaking about causes in the system, not the media or business interests or anything else.

  2. William says:

    You make some very good points, Jas.

  3. Bloodsparrow says:

    I always miss you, because you’re very far away and the stuff I’m throwing is kinda heavy…

    • Bloodsparrow says:

      re: Briar Rose character development. I wrestling with how to put into words what I’m thinking William. I’m not ignoring you.

    • Bloodsparrow says:


    • Bloodsparrow says:

      My Week – I changed the break pads and a rotor on my car myself (with the guidance of a friend who has done it before). Also, I’ve started taking boxing classes.


    • Bloodsparrow says:

      There were several water parks in the general vicinity of where I grew up in So Cal. But I’ve never been to one. I grew up a mile from the beach and we had a pool, I didn’t get it when I was a kit.

      When I was an adult, I was disinclined to go to one because people can get kinda grumpy at amusement parks as it is. (People tend to be tired, dehydrated, and sunburned.) Adding Chlorine and bathing suits to the mix seems like it would make things exponentially worse.

      I don’t want to get into it, but my theory was proven when some friends went to Wild Rivers for a birthday celebration a few years ago that I did not attend.

      Now that I live near’ish a water park called “Schlitterbahn”, I feel like it is my duty to go there someday and buy as many items as possible with the name of the place on it.

    • Bloodsparrow says:

      Nice haircut!

    • Bloodsparrow says:

      “The women in this story [Oblivion] are so insignificant, they don’t even take the time to treat them in a shitty way.”


    • Bloodsparrow says:

      We could hear her fine.

    • Bloodsparrow says:

      William –

      Yes, he was great in that.

    • Bloodsparrow says:

      And by “Our language”, Tony means “Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra”.

    • Bloodsparrow says:

      I don’t think I’m going to comment on the whole political system thing…

      : /

      • Bloodsparrow says:

        Okay, I’m going to go out on a limb.

        You MIGHT be able to argue that we’re technically working under a 3 party system or a 2.5 party system currently. Because, as some people would argue, the current issue is a result (in whole or in part) of the Speaker being afraid of pissing off the super rabid “Tea Party” contingent.

        PS – I believe the House of Lords was disbanded in recent history… Am I right UK peoples?

        PPS – Yes, it has happened before in recent times (twice I think?) But I have friends, family, and co-workers who have Federal, or Federal-dependent, jobs.

        • Bloodsparrow says:

          I HATE people who smell like milk.

          • Bloodsparrow says:

            Just think you guys. If it weren’t for the fact that we HAVEN’T had universal healthcare we NEVER would have gotten Breaking Bad.

            IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT? Do you want to live in a world where there was no Breaking Bad???

            Why do you hate Bryan Cranston you guys?

    • Bloodsparrow says:

      You don’t have to worry about the NSA what with the shutdown and all.

  4. SirGuido says:

    2 party system = asinine. Thats as political as I’ll get in this post.

  5. Mark says:

    Given that only just now getting caught up on listening; it does not in fact, feel like it’s been a week since I last listened.

    Which gaming con?

    Belated congratulations on your sister having the gumption to survive yet another year.

    Assassin’s Creed: I think that series has sounded interesting, but I’ve not got around to it and the last big sale on Steam didn’t bring the price down enough to make me want to pick it up. I might give it a whirl one of these days, but it won’t be anytime soon. I’m going to be playing SW:TOR for the foreseeable future, after that I’ll probably go back to playing Fallout: New Vegas which I’d started but not yet finished. Then I might go back to Bioshock (original not infinite) or play a little more Torchlight II or even start the original Mass Effect. Or as I listen to Tony’s comments about Assassin’s Creed; I doubt I’m going to ever play Assassin’s Creed at this point.

    October: The Witching Door?

    Oblivion: Really? That’s the kindest review of this movie I’ve yet heard. Though if you want to talk about a well-designed, fantasy movie that wasn’t particularly good; I’d say another good example of that was Immortals. It’s a dreadful movie and excessively violent, but it was beautifully shot and really it comes across as something made by a visual person rather than an actual storyteller.

    Water park: Sounds amazing. I’ve never been to one either, though like Tony I’ve been to pools with fancy slides and amusement parks with water rides.

    Producer’s new haircut: Wow, that’s amazing.

    Producer’s view of Oblivion: Wow that’s just… wow. Now I’m kind of interested in seeing this movie; just to see how bad this is.

    Yes, I heard the Producer talking about building stadiums and it was interesting.

    Stupid commercials: I wish I lived in a universe where I could believe that these don’t exist.

    Google Translate: Nailed it in one.

    Alternate Languages: You could do it; just badly. You’d need to record the original, “English” version. Transcribe it. Feed the transcription into Google Translate and read the results.

    Snotty Cats: Speaking as the caretaker of a cat who sneezes frequently; you do NOT want a cat to blow their nose. As the only way they can do that is to sneeze it out all over the place.

    APS: Yes, yes it does.

    Anarchist: Really, William? I didn’t realize you self-identified that way.

    Cookie Clicker: Damn addictive cookies and their clicking….

    Humble Bundle is something that sounds much more awesome than it usually turns out to be (don’t usually find it interesting enough to buy). Also interested to have found out about Bundle of Holding recently.

  6. Craig says:

    So the thing that really prompted my question was the way in which the Republicans appear to be holding the US to ransom simply because they didn’t get their way at a point when they were in minority in both Houses (I believe that was the case when the Affordable Care Act was made law). Plus the fact that as Jas said it’s not even the entire Republican party that seem to be in favour of this action but only a small portion of it who are enough to manipulate the position of the speaker. Then again in general I think politicians don’t understand the meaning of the word negotiate, too many people with alpha personality types.

    I also don’t understand the whole fillibuster system in the US. They’re possible here in the UK but are rare, in the US it seems like they’re far too common, one person shouldn’t be allowed to derail everything like that. Plus am I correct in thinking that in the US it only requires them to talk, they don’t actually have to actually stay on topic?

    Regards the British system yes we have the monarchy and the House of Lords. At this point though the monarchy is really a figure head and has virtually no political power. I believe the Queen could technically in certain matters if she wished but if she did I suspect she’d quickly lose the option to do so. As for the monarchy being stupid yeah it is, though it does serve an important role. I suspect when the Queen dies a lot more people are going to start pushing for change. The House of Lords is an odd one, it’s meant to serve as oversight to parliment and generally doesn’t introduce laws, just proposes amendments then sends them back to the Government. It’s been reformed a lot in the last 20 years but not enough in my opinion, for example we still have hereditary Lords as well as Spiritual Lords from the Church (but only the Church of England). I don’t agree with either of those though I don’t know the best way to reform the Lords that wouldn’t make it more politically biased than it already is.

    Finally the perception of US politics from outside: One of the most important things to note is that the Democrats are more right wing than mainstream conservative politics here in Europe. The Republicans were therefore already considered to be almost ‘far right’ before the emergence of the Tea Party. It doesn’t help that often when we hear about their (Republican / Tea Party) actions it’s because they’ve said something horribly offensive, horribly inaccurate or have essentially said they’re unwilling to compromise at all, as if the opinion of everybody else doesn’t matter.

    • William says:

      You’re correct. The person who is invoking the filibuster may talk about whatever she or he likes. Well, at least, there’s no rule saying they must talk about any specific topic. The rule is simply that they may talk as long as they like until the filibuster is properly broken. Or, at least that’s my understanding.

      • Bloodsparrow says:

        Since I live in the place of another reasonably famous fillibuster (Wendy Davis here in the Texas State Legislature).

        For her case, they changed the rules that she HAD to stay on topic, she COULD NOT take bathroom breaks or relinquish the floor in any way, and he HAD to stand the whole time (she couldn’t even lean on the podium). Part of the reason Twitter exploded with #IStandWithWendy is because those tweets were submissions for more on-topic content if she needed it. (Or so I was given to understand.)

    • William says:

      As for the reason the Republicans are doing this…

      There is a constituency in the US that strongly opposes “Obamacare” and perceives that it was strong-armed though congress by the President, against the wishes of the majority of the American people. On top of that, they accept the claim of some that Obamacare will be incredibly expensive, and is, therefore, fiscally irresponsible.

      I’m not arguing for or against these positions. I’m just pointing out that what the Republicans are doing isn’t merely about them being petty.

      Although there may be a bit of that going on as well. 😉

      • William says:

        Oh, and I might as well point out, Craig…

        You are also correct in observing that there are many Republicans, both politicians and constituents, who think the present Obamacare defunding strategy is stupid. 🙂

        In fact I’m quite certain that a significant majority of Americans at the moment put all of the blame on the GOP for the government shutdown.

    • William says:

      Oh! And for a fun take on the US filibuster, watch the outstanding film, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington!


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