Cheeseburger Gothic

Tradies and deadlines

Posted January 22 by John Birmingham

I've written before about the inevitability of losing fitness when on deadline. It seems unavoidable. Extra hours at the desk. Fewer hours at gym. More snack food.

I'm on a self imposed deadline at the moment. One I'll miss, for sure. I set myself the goal of finishing a first draft of the sequel to The Cruel Stars by next Monday, because on Monday night Jane and I catch a flight to Rome.

I'm okay with missing it. I gave myself a ridiculous deadline to make sure I didn't come home in three weeks to an even more ridiculous deadline. I'll be about 75-80% done with THE SHATTERED SKIES when I down tools on Monday and will polish it off in about a fortnight when I get back.

I'm been smashing out four thousand and five thousand word days the past couple of weeks (the benefits of a tightly plotted narrative outline) but hit a wall today.

Why? There was a tradie in the house. Usually it's electricians or plumbers. They can sniff a deadline a mile away. Today's was a glazier to fix a broken window. He was good guy. Punctual. Efficient. Did the job well. But there is something about having a worker in the house that does my head in. I just can't concentrate.

It was exacerbated by having to deal with some malware that'd snuck onto Thomas's new MacBook Air. A factory reset seemed the easiest way to nuke that gremlin, since the Air is only a couple of weeks old.

Between them they pulled me back from 4-5K all the way down 1800 words.

About to try grind out another thousand before I crash.

6 Responses to ‘Tradies and deadlines’

she_jedi has opinions thus...

Posted January 23
Is it the presence of another person in the house that throws out your routine, rather than a tradie or a stranger specifically? If the kids or Jane are on holidays and mooching around the house does this mess up your deadlines as well, or are you used to them and filter them out?


The killer for me on deadlines (which are all uni assignments at the moment), are my Feline Overlords detecting that a) I appear to be busy and b) appear to be busy doing things that do not involve giving them food or cuddles, and this must be STOPPED so that c) food and cuddles can be distributed accordingly.

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jason mutters...

Posted January 23
The real question here is how did you get an actual Tradie to your house. I thought these were myths. If you say they were on time and reasonably priced i will call you out as a bald faced liar.

insomniac reckons...

Posted January 23
No doubt there's a lot of "Don't you know who I am" going on, and perhaps "If you don't do as I say, I'm going to kill you...(whispers) in my next book".

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Barnesm mutters...

Posted January 24
I admit I am distracted by wanting to watch them work if it's okay with them. Watching someone who is competent and experienced at a task is very satisfying to my mood.

Dave W reckons...

Posted January 24
And even more satisfying is the beer you get to have for a job vicariously well done.

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Rob asserts...

Posted January 27
Malware on an Apple product? my oh my , how the world has changed....

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Jason Lambright's 1917 review

Posted January 20 into Movies by John Birmingham

I won't get to see this one big screen because of my deadline, but I had been looking forward to Jason's take. His review, like the film, does not disappoint.

Right up front I’d like to say that I’m not a big war movie guy. But if I do go to one, it needs to be historically and physically accurate. Historical accuracy is obvious- uniforms, gear, and scenery needs to be right. But what do I mean by physical accuracy? Allow me to explain. I don’t want to see people acting like clowns when they are supposed to be shot. By the same token, I do not want to see them take round after round and keep functioning.

It doesn’t work that way.

You can read the whole piece at his blog.

11 Responses to ‘Jason Lambright's 1917 review’

she_jedi reckons...

Posted January 20
That was a top notch review Mr Lambright, you've persuaded me to go see this!

jl is gonna tell you...

Posted January 20
No spoilers, but when you do go see it, look at the barbed wire obstacles. Then imagine attacking, rifle in hand, as bullets and shrapnel snap, flutter and whistle by. It is very easy to imagine how an entire generation was lost in those horrid muddy pits.

she_jedi mumbles...

Posted January 21
I will, thanks Jason!

she_jedi puts forth...

Posted February 3
I finally saw 1917 yesterday; an incredible movie. I was quietly horrified by the barbed wire obstacles, I was watching for them like you advised. When the credits rolled the movie buddy I was with just sat quietly and absorbed everything we'd seen, and we agreed on a quiet 'wow'. Afterwards we went to dinner and raved about it, but it was a truly stunning piece of film, from two people who are not usually big fans of war movies. What I found ironic in hindsight was that navigating the barbed wire was the least eventful part of the movie, but completely chilling to watch.

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Vovchara mutters...

Posted January 23
Mr. Lambright, you are talking my language. Ok, grammatically improved version :)
As I get older, I get increasingly more irritated with Hollywood, where "Rule of Cool" rules supreme, completely overlooking the fact, that Realism is a lot cooler.
Although to be absolutely honest, I would prefer a movie about WW 1.1 or WW 2.1, with a realistic extrapolation of alternate history.

she_jedi swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 23
Gee if only we had a thoroughly plotted and complete source material to draw upon for a project of this nature....

jason would have you know...

Posted January 23
Mr Lambright might just have what you are looking for in terms oF WW1.1

she_jedi mumbles...

Posted January 23
Oh yes, I beta read that one, so good!

Vovchara is gonna tell you...

Posted January 23
Now you are just being mean. Where is it?

she_jedi mumbles...

Posted January 24
I think it's still a work in progress, Mr Lambright hasn't mentioned a release date yet :(

jl swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 24
You are right, she_jedi.

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I’m suing Samsung

Posted January 20 into Science and Tech by John Birmingham

I totally invented their projected keyboard on a cafe table in Weapons of Choice.

The New York Post reporters:

In the realm of traditional technology, CES 2020 continues to deliver gadgets both revolutionary and bizarre.

Samsung unveiled a new, experimental smartphone feature that can create an AI-powered “invisible keyboard” on the surface of any desk or tabletop.

The South Korean tech giant’s “SelfieType” keyboard app uses a phone’s front-facing selfie camera to track the movements of a user’s fingers as they tap out words and sentences on any flat surface. An artificial-intelligence engine analyzes the movements and converts them into text on a smartphone, tablet or laptop.

How much do you think I can get?

7 Responses to ‘I’m suing Samsung’

jason mumbles...

Posted January 20
The real money will be when someone invents a working time machine and you can claim royalties on that, once you fight of the Estate of H.G. Wells of course.

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon ducks in to say...

Posted January 20
I reckon a reconditioned S5 with a side helping of 10 year old viruses . . . : )

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insomniac ducks in to say...

Posted January 20
I wonder if it would be enough to fuck their patent application. It is possible to submit prior art to the patent office as a third party. It would be interesting, especially as Samsung would have to address it and that response would be published.

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Barnesm asserts...

Posted January 20
Good luck, I'm unfamiliar with the ins and outs of commercial law, is it still settled in a trial by combat?

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Matthew F. reckons...

Posted January 20
Weren't ThinkGeek selling those in, like, the 90s?

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jl puts forth...

Posted January 20
This is super cool.

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Rob has opinions thus...

Posted January 27
hrmmm can't copyright an idea, you can patent an idea/invention , but its got to be working to get approved.

But hey, Disney made Mickey Mouse exist as property forever, so lets ask Scotty from Marketing about it and get things changed for you.

Its only fair.



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A land, once mighty, now in thrall to pissants and cowards

Posted January 15 by John Birmingham

Not that I want to change the Burger into the Climate Change Blog, but I do have this piece running at The New Daily which compares the strange disconnect between the Right's rhetoric on military preparedness, with the same people's rhetoric on a more immediate existential threat.

Modern Australian pointlessness is much less benign. Currently it is most often and most destructively used in arguments that, because we’re so small and so far away and because our greenhouse gas emissions are such a tiny fraction of the global total, it would be futile, damaging and even dangerous for us to contemplate unilateral carbon disarmament. Our carbon emissions keep us strong. We cannot afford to give them up before anybody else.

It’s a rubbish argument.

Oddly enough the same coal-fired demagogues are never backward in coming forward when the chance arises for Australia to make a contribution to some military adventure in which our token company of special forces or nominal contribution of an AWACs aircraft is framed as a vital commitment to burden sharing, or alliance management, or saving the world from whatever sub-Bond villains are currently choosing to menace it with forty-year-old Kalashnikovs from the dusty backstreets of far away Absurdistan.

You can read it here.

25 Responses to ‘A land, once mighty, now in thrall to pissants and cowards’

jason mumbles...

Posted January 15
Two responses.

When people talk about the fact that our emissions are pretty small I counter with this argument: If everyone else in your street beats their partners daily and you only beat your's on Saturday it doesn't mean your doing the right thing or that you cant help. It's up to you to stand up and set an example and show people a better way.

We are missing out on an awesome opportunity to steal a march on the whole world follow this link to see why https://insidestory.org.au/here-comes-the-sun/

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insomniac has opinions thus...

Posted January 15
The argument that countries 5 to 30 in the emissions levels banding together to make something significant happen is a powerful one.
There's another country even closer to the arse end of the world that intends to do its bit even if it is a small one, which is why I will never not be a New Zealander.

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Barnesm mumbles...

Posted January 15
Clear salient points, I struggle with how I respond after pointing out this disconnect in the persons thinking and they still don't seem to even reconsider their point of view. How to we progress when as fundamental aspect of the discussion as logic/reason isn't persuasive.

andrew is gonna tell you...

Posted January 15
Tragically, in a world of bullshit, where truth and falsity are irrelevant, opinions are formed tribally, entirely on the basis of the feels.

IMO the best chance of a good outcome is to appeal to these folks' profit motive, and keep pointing out how much money is to be made exporting clean energy and the products of free energy.

Perhaps I'm wrong, but reason and facts aren't working.

jl asserts...

Posted January 15
Good piece. Appeals to the wallet are usually the most effective. And BTW forty year old Kalashnikovs are pretty new. I've got a picture of one made in 1948, perfectly good working order.

she_jedi puts forth...

Posted January 15
I think a lot of the denialism is driven by fear. They really just don't want to believe the science, because they don't want it to be true. If it's true then they have to change the way they live and work, and people as a collective are resistant to change. And I think our messaging has been a bit arse about over the last decade too. Instead of pointing out the Mad Max style apocalypse we can all look forward (and as of this summer in Australia, experience), we really should have been pushing the mega dollars and technological transformation we could wring out of a zero carbon economy, and tout the new industrial revolution we could kick off if we only had the courage to grasp the nettle. That bullshit line the Coalition ran on Labor coming for your utes and your weekend was a classic example of how we should have been pointing out the amazing shit we could do with electric vehicles 2 elections ago, instead of reacting to a line of total bullshit by a party of deniers.

jl puts forth...

Posted January 15
You're onto something, Jedi of the She. Look at the sweet electric vehicles Musk and co. are producing, and how the US Big Three are climbing aboard. They can see the writing on the wall, and they want to keep making money. Ref: Wall Street Journal articles this past month. LOL moment? GM plans on re-introducing the Hummer line under its GMC brand, only this time it will be electric instead of an insanely inefficient 10mpg lump of steel.

she_jedi reckons...

Posted January 15
I'm not going to lie, Elon Musk's CyberTruck was batshit insane looking, but I fucking loved it. I'm confident that I'm on my last ICE car, a much adored Mazda CX-3, and when it's time to replace it I'll be looking at whatever the electric equivalent is Mazda produces. They already have a prototype out that looks pretty schmick (not CyberTruck levels of bold, but you can't have everything): https://www.mazda.com.au/cars/mazda-ev/

Matthew F. ducks in to say...

Posted January 15
I'm with you SJ, we're buying another car this year and the plan is for a full electric - we like the Hyundai Ioniq so far but who knows what the market will look like by the time we have our bucks together?

Have you seen this firm in QLD who do electric conversions, and even sell kits so you can switch your burner to an electric yourself?

https://www.ozdiyelectricvehicles.com/

They make the point that the best cars for conversion are the smaller, older cars you can get for almost nothing nowadays, and that you can recoup a lot of what you spend on one by selling the engine you won't be using any more. I've caught myself once or twice trying to run the numbers on whether one could run a business buying up those older cars, electrifying them and selling them on again. (I'm nowhere near handy enough to get under the bonnet myself but I could be the silent partner/front office guy.)

she_jedi asserts...

Posted January 15
I did not know about electric conversion kits! That's so cool! That's also a neat idea for a business too, because surely a market would open up for cheaper converted junkers for those who can only dream of a brand new car, and would contribute to the removal of ICE cars from our roads (and provide a transition path for low income car owners when petrol stops being a thing). I too am completely non-handy mechanically, but if you could partner with a good mechanic your idea would definitely have legs (and a front office/sales guy would be essential) :)

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Naut mumbles...

Posted January 15
I liked it

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Moko ducks in to say...

Posted January 15
I'm not really convinced it's an immediate existential threat everyone seems to think it is, but I haven't looked into it either. I drive a 2 ltr turbo. I don't burn shit in the back yard. Happy to consider renewable energies. I sue those fucken green bags from woolies and forget to take one so Ive got like 74 of them ... Yadda yadda. Got other shit keeping me awake at night, and honestly, a comet (metaphorical or meterorical (coining that one for future use) landing on the species would do the planet the world of good (accidental pun fun).

Moko mumbles...

Posted January 15
*use those...

jason mumbles...

Posted January 16
Lets make a deal. You buy Green Power for your house and that's all you need to do. Then you can rest easy knowing you did your part. Better yet, invest in solar. Saves you money in the long run and you have done your part.

Mark Duffett asserts...

Posted January 16
Sorry, but I don't think that is all one needs to do, remembering that only a third of Australian electricity is used in households. You might not be using the other two thirds directly in your house, but you're likely as dependent on the industrial edifice that does as anybody. All the energy embodied in absolutely everything in your home, all the electricity being used in the businesses you patronise, the hospitals, the food refrigeration and on it goes, all comes from that other two thirds and it's got to come from somewhere. And that somewhere has to be paid for...by all of us.

jason ducks in to say...

Posted January 17
Agree, but as far as personal action goes, if you aren't prepared to storm the barricades then this simple action will cover you.

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Chrisg is gonna tell you...

Posted January 15
Fantastic article, I have shared it with many Hoping it hits home

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Dirk is gonna tell you...

Posted January 16
Unless the house of one of the politicians in power burns down, or worse, probably nothing is gonna happen. Which is a shame.

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Mark Duffett ducks in to say...

Posted January 16
Funnily enough a kind of mirror image piece appeared in Quillette a couple of weeks ago, pointing out the strange disconnect between the apocalyptic rhetoric of many on the Left and the same people's fussiness about the modest half-baked climate solutions they're prepared to countenance.

https://quillette.com/2020/01/02/false-humility-will-not-save-the-planet/

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Matthew F. mumbles...

Posted January 17
Maybe this is just my own confirmation bias but I'm noticing a growing trend in among the "how do we make these people get their shit together" and "how do we turf these people out and put in people who have their shit together" of "fuck it, we go around them".

What workable ways are there to go around them?

We've done enough sitting around being angry for one another. We've done more than enough pounding on the door demanding action from people who just laugh at us. What are some things we could do from the ground up that will have a purple-faced spluttering Scummo on the phone in a year or two screaming "what do you fucking mean 'they went and did it themselves'?"

Dave W reckons...

Posted January 17
I'd expect Scummo to be claiming credit for it- as in "the Australian people are very happy that the Government has created the conditions for meaningful action by the private sector...".

But I do worry that the ground-up stuff is well understood, and has been done to a large extent. I'd love to know how the bypass option can be of a magnitude to be meaningful but doable by private citizens.

she_jedi puts forth...

Posted January 17
The only way to go around the feds is to get the states to just get on with it themselves. Which to be fair they're starting to do. We need to be applying pressure on our state governments to act. Prior to the carbon price NSW was developing its own carbon pricing scheme, then abandoned that when Gillard introduced the federal one... and we all know how that ended.

The Guardian is already calling for Smoko to be circumvented in order to save the planet: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jan/17/if-the-bushfires-wont-force-climate-policy-change-we-need-to-circumvent-scott-morrison

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Halwes ducks in to say...

Posted January 17
Australia's major greenhouse emissions come from exported coal. I think that the government needs to be honest and say that, as our second largest export earner, if we stop exporting coal then the living standards in this country will plummet for a while until we can think up something else to export like hydrogen etc. If Australians, even feel a blimp in their living standards they will cry like babies and wont back any sort of greenhouse gas reduction in my opinion. Also, unless you are charging those new electric vehicles with renewables then you are not going to reduce greenhouse emissions one iota. This especially with the huge greenhouse gas load of producing the things in the first place ie mining, manufacturing and disposing of batteries etc. Probably less greenhouse gas in keeping your old cars at least until they are no longer serviceable. I am always willing to be corrected with facts though.

she_jedi swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 17
I'm curious, mainly because I don't know, how much of our coal exports actually contribute to the standard of living of the average Aussie. Coal is our second biggest export after iron ore, so contributes enormously to the country's bottom line, but we're also subsiding that industry to the tune of $12 billion a year. While shutting down the coal industry would have an impact on the standard of living of coal workers and the towns they live in, would it really impact the standard of living of the rest of the country? And wouldn't this be where a just transition come into play, to help transfer those workers to other industries and careers, so that their standard of living doesn't collapse. Something like, I dunno, a renewable energy industry?

I read an opinion somewhere that we could shut down the coal industry completely, give all the people working in coal at the moment (all 37,800 of them) $100k a year for the rest of their working lives, and the budget would still be better off because that $12 billion subsidy would no longer be required (eg, we'd have change left over after paying the former coal workers. It's not like any coal mining companies are actually paying tax in this country). I'm not an economist so I can't comment on the figures, and it was an opinion, not verifiable fact. But when we talk about going 100% renewable in our energy production, there's nothing stopping us from going 150%, 200% or 300% renewable, and exporting the excess energy to Asia. Which Twiggy Forrest and Mike Cannon-Brookes are already looking at doing with a solar farm in the NT. How can we get the average Australian to vote for that sort of economic transformation instead?

Halwes ducks in to say...

Posted January 18
Very interesting thanks. I didn't know much of what you've stated at all. I'd really be interested to know what the impact of a cessation in coal mining would actually be. The trouble is that the 37,800 people spend their money in towns that support coal mining operations. The figure is much higher when the service industry populations of these towns is factored in. Labor and the Greens were very stupid when they suggested shutting down the coal industry with out transitioning their economies to other industries first. The people there were faced with intergenerational unemployment and massive devaluations of their houses. It's not hard to guess who they would have voted for. I think that renewably generated hydrogen is part of the answer and that solar panel renewables are also a bit of a false economy / carbon saving. The greenhouse gasses that are generated in the manufacture of panels are fairly high. Also there are starting to be large piles of used panels, usually lower price and inferior components, that need recycling. The average Australian that you refer to is as dumb as crap in my opinion and will always vote according to whatever their hip pocket nerve feels like so the transformation will need to be cheap and to not affect their lifestyles. Too many people make too much money from fossil fuels. It's raining now and the climate change deniers will be out in force until the next drought. Hopefully we can elevate the discussion and really start levelling with each other. I can't take too much more of the political double talk. Australians are incredibly polarised politically and this issue will not be discussed intelligently until a bi partisan approach is taken.

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Yes, pretty cool, kid

Posted January 14 by John Birmingham

I dunno that it's the best short video, but it's pretty good. If only because of all the triggered ashflakes it leaves in its wake.

3 Responses to ‘Yes, pretty cool, kid’

Barnesm mumbles...

Posted January 15
That seems fairly straight forward anyone know when we are going to start?

Dave W ducks in to say...

Posted January 15
Oooohhhh, sorry- we spent so long saying that we didn't believe that there was anything wrong in the first place, that it's now too do anything and we're officially going to the "adapt to the new reality" stage.

And, by the way, totally not sorry.

/satire

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Rob has opinions thus...

Posted January 27
I feel a bit sorry for Greta. I admire her commitment and ability to create action over something that it is super important. But what happens when she wants to do something else.

I remember being a very 15 year old, very committed, anti vivisectionist, anti nuclear, pacifist anarchist.

Zines, protests, petitions. Groovy hair.

But then I stopped. And did something else. and changed my hair style and stopped being so protesty.

and then as I got older I saw the older commies and anarchists shamelessly use younger people as their foot soldiers, to be arrested and beaten by police, and do stupid shit like commit arson on animal labs, all the while the organisers got themselves cushy jobs in the trade unions and government.

So I hope Greta is Ok, and I also hope if she wants to dye her hair black and follow bands around Europe and have a good time going to metal festivals she can do that too. and that older people don't use her up for their own purposes and she doesn't end up feeling used.

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A thing I like to watch

Posted January 13 into Telly by John Birmingham

Bosch. I like to watch Bosch on Amazon. There, I said it. It feels a bit like a confession because I’m not a fan of police procedurals. There’ve been a few cop shows over the years that have pulled me in, but usually because they were as much about cultural investigation, as they were about crime. The Wire, of course. And Homicide (Life on the Streets).

But Amazon’s adaptation of Michael Connelly’s best selling cop novels, while deepening the colours of its narrative palate with some consideration of LA’s racial politics, remains at heart a procedural.

Titus Welliver’s Harry Bosch is the sort of detective for whom the word ‘dogged’ seems inadequate.

“Cops, they grind, that’s what they do,” says one villain, a Spec Ops captain gone bad. “It’s kind of admirable in a way.”

“Get off your ass and knock on doors,” says the handwritten note on Harry’s cubicle in the Hollywood Homicide bull pen where he works.

The bullpen, like a lot of cop shows, is where the detectives let their human sides show. We do visit with them in their private lives, especially Bosch whose wife, a disgraced FBI agent turned professional gambler, turned FBI informant, thickens up some of the earlier season plots as well as powering the emotional engine that drive’s Harry personal choices. But the B-Story cops also get their characters built out in subplots and exchanges that rise well above table stakes for this the golden era of premium TV.

Welliver was a surprise to me as Bosch. I’d always imagined Connelly’s detective would be played by a younger Clint Eastwood, perhaps because his name is Harry (as in Callaghan).

But Welliver really owns this role. His performance is what you come back for week after week, or ep after ep, since the whole season drops at once.

I just finished the fifth season and I’m thinking of going back to S1 while I wait for the next one.

Like a chump.

12 Responses to ‘A thing I like to watch’

Murphy_of_Missouri puts forth...

Posted January 13
That actor is good in everything he does.

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insomniac reckons...

Posted January 13
We've just started watching so having binged S1 we now have four more fresh seasons to watch.
TW is good but there really is some bad acting going on, eg Irvin Irving. Thankfully the series is good enough to be able to gloss over shit like that.

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she_jedi ducks in to say...

Posted January 13
Ooh I'll have to check this out. I'm currently powering through season 4 of the Expanse, and then I have to finish The Man in the High Castle, because its final season dropped just before Christmas. Have you seen that one JB? It's AMAZING. And it has real Nazis in it!

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted January 13
It's another Thing I Like To Watch, although I'm still only in the first season. Damn this golden age of television.

she_jedi would have you know...

Posted January 14
The current Golden Age of Television is a curse and a joy all at once. The first season was incredible, and somehow the subsequent seasons have managed to be even better each time. I'd love a post sharing your thoughts on it when you're done with all four seasons :)

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Barnesm swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 14
Its not like whenever I fire up Amazon Prime I'm not greeted by my ever-expanding to_watch list that you have to add to it. Even just on Amazon there are dozens - along with Man in the High Castle, The Expanse (obviously), The Tick two seasons, The Boys... Too Many Shows.

she_jedi puts forth...

Posted January 14
The Boys was fantastic!

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insomniac has opinions thus...

Posted January 14
Have peeps been watching Goliath with Billy Bob? S1 was great, S2 was ok, and stick with S3 as it gets a little weird but everything gets tied up by the end.

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted January 14
Nope. Saw it flash past and missed it.

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tqft mutters...

Posted January 14
Warning the following list is extensive, all basically new stuff too
I managed to watch Spyfall 1 & 2 on the weekend, but am way behind on The Expanse
This list is overwhelming (and just 2020 new stuff)
https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2020/01/io9s-essential-guide-to-2020s-sci-fi-fantasy-and-superhero-tv/

Note: ST:Picard Jan 24 Amazon Australia

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon would have you know...

Posted January 20
Gah, i hate these threads. It's always about the tv streaming service i don't have at the time. I need to enact my strategy of two paid services for a year then swap. But that then means i can't talk about it with anyone else because i'm either ahead or behind. I also run the risk of the service i just left picking up the show i want to watch on the new one and missing it altogether.

I was glad i caught Ash vs Evil Dead at the time.

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Bangar reckons...

Posted February 6
Thanks for the recommend, maybe lead with Jeri Ryan S2 for the complete sell. I'll suggest Backstrom though it's a Fox show one season only

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