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Network Analysis

George Bushâ??s Neighbors

George Bush views life through a Christian lens. He seems so focused on religious rules and arbitrary tests. Of course, all the laws and prophets depend on the two great commandments of his religion -- you know, the ones about loving God and loving your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40).

We have plenty of neighbors all around the world. I visit one of our close neighbors, Canada, occasionally. I usually just zip through the tunnel or less frequently use the Ambassador Bridge from Detroit to Windsor or cross at the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron. Friendly people come to mind as I remember vacationing in Toronto over the New Year holiday.

So, reading Haroon Siddiquiâ??s column in todayâ??s Toronto Star about how â??It's not easy being America's friendâ? didnâ??t feel very good.

It didnâ??t feel good to read: â??An American embrace can be a kiss of death these days.â?

And: â??Not only does George W. Bush lack friends, he has a special knack of making life difficult for the few he has.â?

If Mr. Bush indeed strives to love his neighbor as he loves himself, well, maybe his view of the neighborhood is a bit myopic.

Keeping America Safe From British Novelists

There's a perfectly good explanation for why US Customs refused Ian MacEwan entry to the country. It wasn't because he was dangerous; nor was it because he was deemed to pose some kind of terror threat. Nor was it because someone thought he might be a journalist instead of a tourist. It apparently wasn't even because he disagrees with US climate policy and doesn't mind saying so in public.

It was because he was going to make too much money. It seems the honoraria for his series of Seattle-area speaking ingagements totaled a wee bit too much. So he needed to have a work visa, not a tourist visa.

So they stamped his passport "Refused Entry." "Once that stamp gets in a passport, it's difficult to get it out," said Britain's Consul General for Vancouver, James Rawlinson. "The process of reversing that is not merely a matter of crossing that out. Reversing that requires referrals to Washington, D.C., and the headquarters of the State Department and Homeland Security. It gets rather heavy."

Oh, well -- at least when you're a well-known novelist like Ian McEwan, people [who matter] might miss you.

[via Bruce Sterling's Viridian Note 00440]

We Are All Nought But The Fantasies Of Tommy Westphall

According to Keith Gow (and, apparently, prolific producer Tom Fontana), the lion's share of American television since 1951 were imagined by St. Elsewhere character Tommy Westphall.
"Here's the thing," Fontana has remarked:

[...] "It's my personal plot that all of television exists in the mind of Tommy Westphall, to this day. So 'Homicide' is still the musings; it's just that instead of looking at a hospital snow globe," as he did in the "St. Elsewhere" finale, "now he's looking at the police headquarters building snow globe.

"And because," Fontana adds, "we did the 'Cheers' crossover" â?? a few "St. Elsewhere" characters visited the Boston bar â?? "it would make all of 'Cheers,' which would then make all of 'Frasier,' also in the mind of Tommy Westphall. It only gets bigger and bigger and bigger."

Another conspiracy Fontana supports, with Richard Belzer, is placing Belzer's character of Munch on as many shows as possible. So far, the wry "Homicide" detective has appeared on "The Beat," "Law & Order," "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," "The X-Files" and, in cartoon form, "The Simpsons."

Keith Gow and compatriots at places like Crossovers and Spin Off Master List [CSOML] have taken the ramifications of St. Elsewhere [imdb] and Homicide: Life On The Street [imdb] crossovers out to many layers of hierarchy, extending as far back as 1951 [xls] (I Love Lucy), and including (so far) 164 television shows.

The St. Elsewhere/Homicide crossover universe are at the core of "Group 2" in the taxonomy of "shared realities" at the CSOML, and some of the ramifications can get mind-bending. For example, St. Elsewhere crosses over with the original Bob Newhart Show; since Newhart's 'Bob Hartley' actually dreamed an entire series, that made the entire run of Newhart a dream within a dream.

Somehow, I find the idea that we're all the imaginings of a fictional autistic child strangely comforting. It's so much more accessible and sensible than the notion that we're all the creation of an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and yet somehow interested deity... Contra Descartes, the universe suddenly seems to me to make more sense if I assume that God is a deceiver. Or a playful child.

[original link courtesy MeFi]

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