Valar Morghulis

Rich kicked off a discussion of Games of Thrones when last year’s season ended. Given the huge ratings, I suspect we have even more people watching it now. This season wrapped up last night with an absolute barn-burner of an episode for a barn-burner of a season.

[Spoilers ahead]

I must say this was my favorite season so far and not just because it was the first I was keeping up with in real time. We are finally seeing the pieces of GRRM’s chess game moving into position, with plot threads being resolved or dramatically changed. We saw the erasure of not one but two Lannisters, a possible resolution of the Wildlings plot and some real movement on Bran’s plot thread. Moreover, I think things are set up for some huge plot developments in the future. I don’t know where we are headed, but it should be a fun ride in seasons 5 and 6.

Some scattered thoughts:

  • One of themes emerging from the series, referenced explicitly in episode three, is what it takes to be a king. It’s not enough to be a good and honorable man, as we saw with the Starks. There is a certain ruthlessness and pragmatism that comes with it. Tyrion showed this in his tenure as Hand. Daenarys is learning this now, after her disastrous start in Season One.
  • Another theme is that there is no black and white in Game of Thrones, only shades of gray. Characters are complex and can do good things one day and bad things the next. Jaime has become the embodiment of this. A lot of people were disappointed with the rape scene, thinking it undid all his character development. But Jaime has always been a mix. He’s both the man who saved King’s Landing and the man who shoved a small boy out of a tower window for discovering he was screwing his sister. Jaime’s character is often highly dependent on who he’s with. Tyrion and Brienne bring out the best in him. Cersei brings out the worst.
  • I think we can inscribe Peter Dinklage’s name on every acting award this year. He had numerous scenes this year that just took my breath away — the trial, the conversation with Oberyn, his final scene with Tywin. Dinklage has taken what I understand to be one of the favorite characters of the books and made him even better.
  • Speaking of Oberyn. I really liked him and Pedro Pascal’s performance was great. Episode eight was like a punch in the gut. But … he accomplished two out of his three objectives. In Game of Thrones, that’s not bad.
  • Now that Cersei is effectively ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, I expect things to go downhill very fast.
  • I hope Jorah finds a way to work himself back into Daenarys’ good graces.
  • Fans of the books who are upset that their favorite scenes weren’t in or things have been changed need to get a grip. GRRM is heavily involved in the series and has no doubt played a role in the changes. Reading interviews, I think one of the reason the books are taking so long is that he wrote himself into a corner (the “Meereenese knot”). Tolkien did this too but Tolkien had the luxury of going back and revising the earlier books before they were published to avoid the corners. I think some of the plot changes to the TV series are designed to avoid the mistakes he made in the earlier books and accelerate the story. We may therefore get an ending in 7 or 8 seasons instead of 14.
  • Anyway, post your thoughts.


    Know What You’re Doing, Or Take The Bus

    A reoccurring theme in many of my posts, a personal pet peeve (but you guys already knew that) is bad driving. Being proficient in the operation of the automobile is lost art. Any bozo can turn on the ignition, operate the gas peddle and brake, and steer, but for the true professional, mastering the intricacies of the perfect balance (performance and safety) it’s not just getting from point to A to B, the style in which the journey is taken speaks to the man himself.

    A few years back when I taught my son to drive (calculating stopping distances at different speeds, visual horizon, space cushion, real wheel cheat, front end swing, afterwards he commented that he could now drive the space shuttle) a selling point for his pursuit of excellence in this area was that any girl with him could see the mastery at which he handled his wheels and would naturally assume that the same care and technique would be delivered between the sheets.

    Many factors have gone into the diminution of driving ability over the years, but mostly folks never really learned how to drive in the first place. And now with the advent of cell phones, it is worse than ever. When ever I see a boneheaded move on the highway, the majority of the time the driver has a cell phone in his hand, giving that total attention to the detriment of his driving. I know it’s against the law, where are the cops when you need them?

    Clever PSA’s can be used to address the problem, here is one that just ran out of Hong Kong;

    Car companies (all of them) should spring for regular PSA’s, it’s just good business and will minimize liability claims when accidents do occur.

    The gold standard for clever PSA’s was this one that ran a few years ago;

    Anybody that does not wear his seat-belt is dumber than dirt, and beyond selfish if he has a family. This one was out of the UK, maybe because they drive on the wrong side of the road (wankers) they have more than their fair share of accidents so safety is big. Here is another one out of the UK;

    Ugh, drunk drivers, don’t get me started.

    Google is testing a car that drives itself, for many this is just what they need. For my oneself, I will be one of the last hold outs, refusing to relinquish an appreciation for the handling of a fine tuned automobile.

    Broken system acting broken? No way!

    Who would have thunk it? Demanding that the laws of economics & reality bend to the will of unicorn fart smellers and their do-good ideas has not worked as intended!

    It wasn’t supposed to work this way, but since the Affordable Care Act took effect in January, Norton Hospital has seen its packed emergency room become even more crowded, with about 100 more patients a month.

    That 12 percent spike in the number of patients — many of whom aren’t actually facing true emergencies — is spurring the hospital to convert a waiting room into more exam rooms.

    “We’re seeing patients who probably should be seen at our (immediate-care centers),” said Lewis Perkins, the hospital’s vice president of patient care and chief nursing officer. “And we’re seeing this across the system.”

    That’s just the opposite of what many people expected under Obamacare, particularly because one of the goals of health reform was to reduce pressure on emergency rooms by expanding Medicaid and giving poor people better access to primary care.

    Instead, many hospitals in Kentucky and across the nation are seeing a surge of those newly insured Medicaid patients walking into emergency rooms.

    Nationally, nearly half of ER doctors responding to a recent poll by the American College of Emergency Physicians said they’ve seen more visits since Jan. 1, and nearly nine in 10 expect those visits to rise in the next three years. Mike Rust, president of the Kentucky Hospital Association, said members statewide describe the same trend.

    Experts cite many reasons: A longstanding shortage of primary-care doctors leaves too few to handle all the newly insured patients. Some doctors won’t accept Medicaid. And poor people often can’t take time from work when most primary care offices are open, while ERs operate round-the-clock and by law must at least stabilize patients.

    Yeah, I am sure many these people are “forced” to attend the ER instead of doing otherwise, because of doctor shortages and the decline in Medicaid accepting doctors, but the real fact IMO is that these people can’t be bothered. We can pretend it is because they can’t go to a doctor during regular hours, but I am willing to bet they are hitting the emergency rooms during those regular hours. I doubt most of these newcomers are employed to begin with. When you get shit you feel is free you aren’t inclined to worry much about how much it costs the people paying for it or how badly it is inconveniencing a system you now feel owes you shit.

    Setting up a primary physician, making an appointment, then keeping said appointment is likely way too much work for people that feel all that crap is just an obstacle to their whims. These “I want free healthcare” types just want a system where they show up and are taken care of. Like they want government to pay for everything and anything, no questions asked, because they were born.

    Seriously, this was not the way to get healthcare out to the masses. For people that love to tell us how to do things, the leftists sure dropped the ball on this issue. Then again, regulating ER access would not serve their plan to overload the system and bring it crashing down. After all, the end goal remains that single payer system they want.

    Fort Hood Again

    Another shooting at Fort Hood. Early reports are at least two dead with many more injured. This does not appear, again based on early reports, to be an act of terror, but a dispute between soldiers. I’ll post more details as events warrant.