Essential Doctor Who

A couple years ago, some of my friends were loving the new Doctor Who series, and curious about the classic series. I loved the idea of having an excuse to watch it again, but when they found out just how much of it there is, they were more than a little daunted. Plus, honestly, a lot of the stories just don’t stand up to a modern audience. So, I put together this guide for them, highlighting what I ¬†feel are the best and most-essential stories from the original 26-year run.

In order to keep it down to a manageable list, a lot of very good stories were left off the list–if you look around at reviews, you’ll find a lot of good, even great, stories that aren’t on this list. I was also trying to cover as much as I could of the mythology and universe of Doctor Who in as few stories as possible, and with as little duplication as possible. So in a few cases, a really great story was left out only because all of the territory it covered was already covered in some other story or combination of stories. So, for example, there are some other good cybermen stories–but they don’t really add anything to the overall canon of the series.
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Obama Fudd

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, double shame on you. Fool me three times—ok, you got me that time, but that’s the last time. Fool me four times—wow, i really thought you meant it this time. Fool my five times—ok, now I’m starting to think you’re doing it on purpose. Fool me six times…

In principle, I’m all for taking the high road, and trying to inculcate a better environment in politics. But at some point, when the folks you’re trying to work with continually fail to come through with their half, you’ve just got to recognize that compromise isn’t possible. What particularly baffles me about Obama’s behavior is that the Republicans aren’t even trying to fool him, as near as I can tell. It’s not like they’re doing a Bugs Bunny routine, and are so clever and quick-tongued that they’re tricking Obama with subtle stances or bait-n-switch positions. They’re more like the Tasmanian Devil, with all the subtlety and fury (and careful consideration) of a tornado, bent on destroying every piece of government that they can, and making no secret of it.

Obama’s no dummy, so is he just too much of an idealist? Does he think that he’s currying favor with the electorate by failing to get things done? Doesn’t he realize that passing half-assed bills in an effort to appease the GOP risks creating legislation that is destined to fail, and taints the actual idea at its core, when going all-out might have resulted in something that actually made a huge difference? He ends up pleasing no one, which is worse than pleasing half the people.

The noises I hear coming from the right are a lot less like “we’re interested in working with you, if you’ll meet us halfway” and a lot more like “our way or the highway”. When his political opponents repeatedly and consistently say “sure, let’s compromise: we’ll do it our way”, what makes Obama think there’s room for compromise? And when they repeatedly and consistently make it clear that they’d rather nothing got done than something that they don’t like got done, why even try to work with them? For that matter, we’re talking about a political party that would rather prevent even a policy they originally proposed from being enacted, if they think their opponents might somehow benefit from the enacting.

To quote Free To Be…You and Me: Some kind of help is the kind of help we all can do without. It may be too late now, with a divided Congress, but I don’t understand why, after a couple months of disruption, Obama and the Democrats didn’t just say, “Fine, you’re not interested in helping us, we’ll just do our own thing,” have the courage of their convictions, and pass the bills they wanted.

Compromise in a Two-Party System, or, How to Lose Elections

What’s the Matter with Kansas?, by Thomas Frank, is a book that I’ve known the gist of probably since it came out: more and more people in this country have been voting into power politicians with a track record of policies against these voters’ own interests; why is this? And, as I understood from the interviews, etc., at the time of the book’s release, the author’s assertion is that, sometime in the 80s, a large faction of social conservatives started voting based on social, rather than economic, issues. OK, that makes sense, as far as it goes. But, leading up to the 2010 election, I decided I should read the book for myself, so I could understand and judge the arguments myself. So far—i’m 2/3rds done—I’m impressed with the research in the book. And he makes a very detailed examination of the people voting along social-values lines, how they do and don’t fit with traditional conservative voters, and how not-particularly-socially-conservative politicians have co-opted these voters. This last part is something I hadn’t really been aware of, prior to reading this book: he gives numerous examples of politicians not merely failing to pass their constituents’ social “reforms” into law, but not even trying.
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You don’t need censorship to moderate speech

Not even a week, and already the opportunity for discussion is devolving into talking past one another. Some people—mostly lefties—suggest that (1) speech—inflammatory or not—has, or at least should have, consequences, and the speaker should be held accountable for their part in those consequences; and (2) therefore, it would be a good idea if certain people—mostly conservatives—moderate their speech, maybe rely less on violent metaphors.

Nobody [that I have seen] is advocating censorship. Nobody is advocating legal or government enforcement of this[1]. Nobody is advocating a central authority that gets to decide what is allowed and what is verboten.
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