Open Thread: Pocket Monsters

“At least they’re outside in the fresh air, getting some exercise.” How long before Pokemon GO is proposed as an Olympic sport? From the Washington Post:

People are really getting into Pokemon Go, a new mobile take on the classic franchise. In fact, they’re maybe getting a little too into it.

The game, made by Niantic and the Pokemon Company, was released late on July 6, and allows players to capture Pokemon in real-world locations. The app makes the little monsters appear on your smartphone screen, through the camera, as you walk through your neighborhood — making it seem as if they are right in front of you. The game quickly shot to the top of the charts for Apple’s free apps and has gathered at least 100,000 downloads on Google’s Play store. It also quickly led to an unexpected side effect: a number of reported Pokemon-related injuries…

The Pokemon Go app itself includes a warning in the loading screen asking players to pay attention to their surroundings, but it’s clear that some people are getting so excited that they forget to heed it. Niantic, which partnered with the Pokemon franchise to create the game, has some rules of the road for it’s other major title, “Ingress,” that may prove useful.

“Pay attention to your surroundings; you never know what beautiful or interesting things you’ll see while playing the game,” the company cautions in its advice to players…

Buzzfeed, which aims for the kewl-kidz (as opposed to the WaPo get-off-my-lawn-you-kidz) crowd, helpfully posted “13 Pokémon Go Hacks To Help You Be The Very Best“. Some odd phrasings for those of us who didn’t grow up on the anime…

1. You can spin your Poké Ball for a nice curve…

3. To catch Pokémon properly without wasting Poké Balls, make sure you tap and hold…

6. If you have some time to play, use an incense to get a bunch of Pokémon to come to you…

7. If you’re out of incense and don’t want to spend money, try heading to a well-populated Pokéstop…

Which, I assume, is the real easter egg: The game is free, but if you choose to spend your money, they have a store where real cash can be converted into virtual “accessories”.

Not that I can be sniffish — if I had a smart phone, I could no more resist a game like this than a cat can resist a laser pointer.



The Politicization of Policy

Earlier today the Supreme Court, in a 4-4 deadlocked ruling pertaining to President Obama’s Executive Order pertaining to the status of the parents of American citizens or legal residents who are in the country illegally, issued the following ruling: “The judgement is affirmed by an equally divided Court.” In the short term this means that the original District Court ruling, affirmed by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, stands. It is unclear whether this means that the President will seek to enforce his executive order to not deport the parents of American citizens or legal residents outside of the 5th Circuit or not. The ruling is partially the result of Texas and 25 other states shopping for a sympathetic District Court Judge, which is why they filed it in Brownsville, not Austin the state capitol. It demonstrates both the challenges of a divided Supreme Court and the politicization of policy.

While Speaker Ryan has issued a statement lauding the decision and claiming it as a victory for the Constitution and Congress, specifically under Article 1, this is simply part of the politicization of this particular policy. And that comes at a price. Both in lives affected and in dollars spent. The reality that no one wants to mention when discussing the President’s DAPA and expanded DACA order to defer deportations for specific, low risk classes of undocumented people in the US, and which demonstrates why Speaker Ryan’s claiming victory for Article 1 and the Congress’s power to write the Law, not the Executive Branch, misses the point is that Congress did write the Law. Congress made it a misdemeanor to improperly enter the US; specifically entering in an undocumented capacity without papers while avoiding immigration control. Unlawful presence, overstaying one’s visa or not leaving the US and returning to one’s home country when one is supposed to is not actually a crime at all. The Executive Branch, however, has to administer (execute) this law. But here’s where the rubber of making Law hits the road of enforcing it: Congress also has to provide the ways and means.

Currently Congress only appropriates enough money for the Department of Homeland Security to deport approximately 450,000 undocumented immigrants that have illegally entered or overstayed their visas. This is not something new. Congress never appropriates enough money to deport everyone who has entered illegally or overstayed their visas. The cost for trying to identify, round up, and deport all of the estimated 11 million undocumented people – both improper entry and unlawful presence – in the US right now is estimated at no less than a $100 billion and up to $600 billion. As a result every Presidential Administration has had to prioritize who to focus on. The focus is always on those who have been arrested and/or previously convicted of engaging in violent crimes or who are tied to human or drug trafficking or terrorist/extremist organizations. And this makes sense from a domestic, public policy standpoint: focus on those who present the greatest potential threat to the US, American citizens, legal residents, and those visiting the US. What Speaker Ryan, Governor Abbot of Texas and his 25 colleagues from when he was the Texas Attorney General, Federal District Court Judge Hanen, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, and the four Supreme Court Justices that voted to uphold the lower court rulings against the Administration’s Executive Orders have chosen to ignore is that tomorrow the Obama Administration still only has enough Congressionally appropriated funding to deport 450,000 people in the US illegally. And tomorrow the Department of Homeland Security is still going to have to prioritize who they focus on – the parents of an American citizen who other than the Federal misdemeanor of improper entry or the not an actual crime at all of unlawful presence are otherwise law abiding or the guy trafficking women for the sex trade.

We’ve reached this moment of policy and juridicial stupidity because both the President and those opposing his policy of prioritization politicized the issue. The President publicly announced the policy of placing the parents of US citizens and legal residents on the low priority list for deportation, which provided them with an effective exemption. President Obama did this as part of a strategic communication strategy to signal to an important constituency that he, and the Democratic Party, were not going to forget them even if Congress was unable or unwilling to act. The House GOP majority, as well as twenty-six Republican controlled states, responded by also strategically communicating to their constituencies that they would sue the President to overturn his Executive Order to ensure that the Law was administered and that only Congress, as Article 1 states, can write Law. The issue, which was already politicized, was dialed up to 11.

There is no way of knowing if, had the President not publicly announced what he was doing, the GOP House Majority or one or more of these 26 Republican governed states would have still objected as vehemently or opposed the President’s actions through a lawsuit. Moreover, there isn’t equal guilt for politicization on both sides. Until or unless Congress appropriates more funds for deportations, which they do not seem to be inclined to do, the Obama Administration, and any subsequent administrations, will only have the funding – the means – to identify, arrest, detain, and deport 450,000 undocumented people per year. No matter what Judge Hanen, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, or the Supreme Court rules, tomorrow the Department of Homeland Security, part of the Obama Administration’s Executive Branch, will still have to prioritize who to deport. I fully expect that they will continue to prioritize their efforts on those accused of and/or convicted of violent crimes, as well as those suspected to be trafficking drugs and people or of being affiliated with extremist or terrorist organizations. Focusing on less dangerous cohorts among the undocumented would create an actual threat to the safety and security of the US, its citizenry, its legal residents, and those visiting for work, school, or enjoyment.



Late-Night Celebrity Political News Open Thread

Yeah, well, readership capture. From the Politico article:

Democratic operatives planning next month’s national convention in Philadelphia have reached out to Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Tony Award-winning writer and star of the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton,” about performing at the Wells Fargo Center, sources told POLITICO.

It’s part of an ambitious plan to generate excitement and boost television viewership for the party convention after what Democrats expect to be a four-day reality show at the Republican convention in Cleveland…

His father, Luis Miranda Jr., a major player in New York Democratic politics, said, “There is no truth to these rumors” about his son’s potential star turn at the convention. A spokesman for the Clinton campaign and a spokesman for the DNC declined to comment.

But the push for Miranda, as well as other A-listers with a point of view, is a sign that Clinton operatives are seeking to engage core Democratic groups like young voters, African-Americans and Latinos, with headliners other than the expected roster of gray-haired politicians.

“The nights are three-hour prime-time TV shows,” said PR executive Ken Sunshine, a Clinton fundraiser with deep ties to the entertainment world. “Entertainment and adding excitement become a key part of it, as opposed to hard-core politics. The one that understands that is Trump, except that’s all he seems to understand.”…

The ultimate goal of the convention, according to operatives involved in the planning, is to produce a “coming together” moment that unites the party against Trump.

But second to party unity is the goal of producing some memorable, watchable moments that will encourage core Democratic demos to tune in to the live cable coverage of the four-day convention — and share it broadly across social media…

“Good entertainment doesn’t have to appeal to the lowest level of expression,” said Sunshine. “Great art and humor can be inspirational, uplifting, can celebrate our diversity instead of cheap laughs at the expense of other Americans.”…



Open Thread: Sweet Childhood Memories Profaned!!!

I never got around to seeing the original Ghostbusters, so it’s hard for me to understand why keeping it a precious, stand-alone trophy is so very important to certain critics. (I mean, I was just as outraged by the indecencies Disney committed against one of my iconic creators with the first Jungle Book, but I was still in middle school then.) This is pretty funny, though: In McSweeneys, Samuel Priest explains “No, I Don’t Dislike the New Ghostbusters Movie Because I Hate Women — It’s Because I Strongly Believe In Hollywood Finance Reform”

Of course we’re ready for a comedy-action movie with female leads. And of course, we’re overdue… but I think we need to wait for the RIGHT new Ghostbusters movie, not just ANY Ghostbusters movie. The women in the new Ghostbusters movie have a lot of good comedy experience, yes, of course. But over the last 20 years, I can find a few examples of them not being funny, especially when you take those moments out of context.

Now, if Elizabeth Warren and Jill Stein and Michelle Obama make a new Ghostbusters in a hypothetical four or eight years from now, I could get behind that idea. That vague notion that wouldn’t hold up under any scrutiny for a variety of reasons is CLEARLY a better option than this new Ghostbusters movie made by competent people that’s seemingly ready to be shown any minute now.

I also know a couple women who would agree with me on the things I’m saying, so again, I think that proves I’m not sexist or misogynist. This new Ghostbusters movie just isn’t for me and I think everything should be for me. Will this movie just existing inspire young women to get involved with making their own Ghostbusters movies at state and local theater levels? I don’t know, is representation in media and government even important?…

And you can tell it’s unbiased and nonpartisan, because it was written by a man.



Open Thread: For the Hamilmaniacs

… Most of whom have no doubt been sharing the news in previous threads, but now the rest of us can enjoy the novelty of going Open-Thread-Off-Topic in “their” post. From the USAToday article:

The Tony winner confirmed his departure date to reporters at a breakfast event Thursday at Coogan’s in New York’s Washington Heights. Javier Muñoz, Manuel’s alternate who already regularly plays the part one day a week, will take over starting July 11. (He’s used to following Miranda — he also replaced him when he left In the Heights.)

Muñoz, who underwent cancer treatment during the show’s first year (during which Miranda was his understudy) says he finished his medical regimen in January and says he’s “fit and ready” to do seven shows per week.

But don’t fret — Miranda will be back. “I think this is a role I’m going to be going back to again and again. I plan to revisit this role a lot,” he said. (In other words, keep entering the lottery!)…

As for himself, Miranda is “working on his accent” for Mary Poppins Returns, due Christmas 2018, in which he’ll star opposite Emily Blunt. He’s also putting the finishing touches on the music for Disney’s animated film Moana, which arrives in theaters Nov. 23. And he’s got a revelation for you: “Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson can sing! He was really incredible.”

But before he packs up his Hamilton dressing room, the production will film two performances with the current cast this month before they start exiting, as well as shooting offstage cameos…

Any ideas how the final film will be released? Pay-per-view? I think it would be an excellent candidate for the movie-house “event cinema,” with the one-off showings of opera, ballet, and MMA bouts…
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Apart from entertainment, what’s on the agenda for the evening?



Tony Awards Open Thread

TonyAwards.com livestream here.

As a backup, looks like EW is doing a livestream, too.

The Guardian‘s live blog is here.

Per Variety:

This year’s Tony Awards is expected to be dominated by Broadway phenom “Hamilton” and its record-breaking 16 nominations, including best musical and lead actor in a musical for creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Barbra Streisand is also expected to make her first Tony appearance in 46 years.



Guest Post: lamh36’s Final Reflections on Roots 2016

Balloon Juice commenter lamh36 posted her final thoughts on the recently aired remake of Roots as a comment last night. I asked her if we could put it up as a guest post because I think it deserves to be seen by more than those who happened to be commenting on one particular post on Friday night. She graciously said yes and sent me the link to where she’d posted it on her own blog. She also has a very interesting post about the Roots remake that she posted before it had aired, so make sure to click through and check that one out too. Lamh36’s post viewing remarks on Roots are below.

So, yesterday I watched the finale of the Roots tv reboot.

Here are my final final reflections.

So, you may already know, I wasn’t gonna watch…then thanks to blogger Awesomely Luvvie ( On ROOTS Reimagined and Retelling This Classic Story) and other folk I respect I decided to give it a chance. I never saw the original. Usually, I shy away from this type of drama because unless you are a heartless bastard it sticks with you and unless you are a ditzy absentminded sort of person it lingers in your mind even after watching…but I disregarded my usual aversion and I watched episode one.

So first of all, History channel did a GREAT job of filling in some of the holes in the story, that folks expressed about Haley’s original book with facts, figures and real life events of the time. In fact, even though it was based on Haley’s book and ancestors, they stuck to the story Haley told, but interspersed the personal family story, with a History channel style reenactments of real life events and happenings of the time in which the story was set (if you followed them on twitter, they also sent out factoids about the time and the people during the commercial breaks, and also with blurbs at the end of scenes with significant historical impact).

Another thing I applauded, was that unlike with the orignal mini-series, they didn’t go for ANY stunt casting (no white sitcom stars or black pro-athletes in this one). Instead, other than for a couple of the iconic roles (i.e. Fiddler, Kizzy, Tom Lea…) the cast was made up of new, and hopefully, up and coming young actresses and actors of color, including some  for whom the show was their very first real acting job (US or otherwise).  The standouts including Malachi Kirby as Kunta Kinte, Regé-Jean Page as Chicken George, Erica Tazel as Matilda, and a number of other younger actresses and actors.  The casting for the series was really good.

As I expected, each and every scene lingered. but as I watched the first ep and the second ep…I began to see this NOT as a story of victim hood, or airing grievances against white people (though to be fair from this family’s saga standpoint and millions of others who were slaves…the grievances against white folks were valid and should NOT be forgotten or erased from conversation). Anyway, I began to see it as the story of SURVIVORS! From Africa to the Americas…these people SURVIVED all this brutality and came out of it on the other side yes bloodied but ALIVE and in many cases unbowed. So even with the painful acts and lingering anger at the entire institution of slavery in America, I feel blessed to know that I come from generations of these Survivors and I’d like to hope that their stories are told and heard by as many folks as can see or hear them, Black or white.