NRCC takes on Maffei, a top Nerd of Congress

By Kevin Rogers

Rep. Dan Maffei, of New York’s 24th congressional district, is hosting a “Galactic Trivia Battle” for a fundraiser later this month. Individuals can pay $100 or teams can pay $1,000 for tickets to play.

Maffei is a self-proclaimed nerd, a lover of Star Trek and a fan of Dungeons and Dragons. I made repeated attempts to contact his congressional office for an interview to little avail.

Evidently, I need to take part in this round of Jeopardy with astronomical costs to get his attention.

Therefore, with righteous glee, I’d like to post the National Republican Campaign Committee’s presentation on what Star Wars characters think of Maffei. Here’s my favorite.


Read the rest here. Enjoy a good chuckle.


Fed zombie campaigns: Publicity stunts or preparing for the apocalypse?

Citizens expect the federal government to be prepared to respond to a myriad of threats including terrorism, natural disasters and epidemics. Taxpayers look to the Homeland Security Department, The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to help us handle the worst the world has to offer.

Not surprisingly, these agencies are prepared for the absolute worst-case scenario: an outbreak of a virus that would turn the masses into brain-munching, undead zombies.

Photo: Kevin Cooley

Photo: Kevin Cooley

Well, not really. As part of a program to promote readiness for real disasters, these agencies prepared emergency preparedness campaigns featuring a zombie apocalypse.

Either they were trying to capitalize off the popularity of zombie media like The Walking Dead or Zombieland, or they’re trying to warn us about an impending zombie apocalypse. Regardless of the ultimate motive, the federal government has put out some interesting materials about a zombie outbreak.

CDC: Be prepared any disaster, even zombies

The CDC launched a fairly extensive zombie-preparedness campaign in 2011. The stunt included posters and a graphic novel. It’s not quite at the quality of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead comics, but it’s a valiant effort.


The most interesting bit of the CDC’s program is its zombie preparation tips. Like other disaster preparation kits, the CDC and FEMA recommended citizens muster ample food and water supplies, medicine, tools and first aid kits. While any logical citizen would want these provisions on hand for a zombie emergency, the CDC omits a few essentials.

For one, there’s no provision for the weaponry needed to do battle with the zombie hordes. Citizens should be ready with tools suitable for destroying the zombie’s brain. In The Walking Dead, the protagonists muster a solid fuselage of military and police weaponry. The CDC looks to the series for “teachable moments,” but skimps out on the need for zombie-wrecking tools.

But if you don’t have a cache of police-grade firearms, baseball bats, garden tools and other sharp and pointy things can do the job nicely. The National Post has a nice graphic demonstrating this.

The CDC doesn’t seem sold on the idea that defensive mechanisms play a role in a zombie apocalypse. That’s what the Homeland Security Department is for.

The Homeland Security zombie simulation

In October 2012, the Homeland Security Department funded a trip to a five-day security conference that included a massive zombie response simulation. The department authorized as much as $1,000 per employee for the San Diego event.

Halo Corp., a security firm organized the event which featured more than 1,000 law enforcement and military personnel. In addition to Homeland Security Agents, the event drew Marines, Navy special ops and former CIA Director Michael Hayden.

Halo Corp. chose zombies for the simulation as a way to keep participants focused on the unexpected of law enforcement and military service. President Brad Barker told The Associated Press that a zombie might behave in the same way as a criminal on psychotic drugs.

Our friend Sen. Tom Coburn signaled out the department’s spending on the conference in his 2012 WasteBook. But this might be part of a wider preparation for a real life zombie outbreak. Last summer, there were several instances of cannibalism, so perhaps America is witnessing the early stages of a zombie epidemic.

Keep in mind that the Homeland Security Department has been purchasing millions of rounds of ammunition. I’d like to think they won’t be used on Americans.

Is this the government’s first step to prepare for the worst? It might be.

Or, I might just be watching a bit too much Walking Dead.



The simple joy of soundtracks scores


Nothing’s much worse for me than waking up and trudging to research methods on a Monday at 8:30.

Today was a bit different.


George Lucas: From testimony to the Dark Side

By Kevin Rogers

Few men have earned such fierce respect and revulsion from the nerd community as George Lucas, the creator of the Star Wars universe. The respect stems from his revolutionary film series. The revulsion stems from his non-stop alterations to his original trilogy and a flawed prequel series.


The George Lucas Troll
CC–boobulon, deviantART

Critics argue that Lucas himself made the best argument against his form of post-production meddling in front of Congress in 1988. In those days, he was pushing to protect American art from alteration by the copyright holder.

As Obi-Wan Kenobi told a lava-singed Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith: “You were supposed to destroy the Sith, not join them!” Likewise, Lucas fell from grace.

Given the 25th anniversary of this historic testimony, The Nerds of Congress now presents the once-idealistic crusader’s descent to the Dark Side.


Pentagon rejects unrealistic Avengers, backs giant alien robots instead

By Kevin Rogers

If you want to make a film to thrill throngs of nerds, dazzling them with epic battles of good versus evil, you’ll need a lot of firepower. For some directors, this involves access to military hardware, extras and consultation.

Some directors of battle-heavy science fiction blockbusters have successfully solicited some form of aid from the Defense Department to bring the director’s vision the big screen.

The Pentagon CC--David B. Gleason

The Pentagon
CC–David B. Gleason

The Pentagon’s Film Liaison Office is the body that passes out the big guns directors so desperately crave. The body has a simple rule; the military needs to look good. And even if a film has some (or mostly) fantastical elements, the Pentagon can give it the go-ahead.

But what causes the Pentagon to back the Transformers series and reject The Avengers?


Smaug, richest fictional being, launches super PAC

Smaug the Golden, chief antagonist in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, was named Forbes’ top fictitious billionaire in 2012.The dragon hopes to retain that title in the magazine’s next ranking, but he has a new project to occupy his vast wealth.

Smaug the GoldenCC-- Marc Roca

Smaug the Golden
CC– Marc Roca

The dragon, worth $62 billion, has filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to create “Dragons for a Golden Tomorrow,” a super PAC to help pro-dragon candidates win federal office in 2014.

Smaug says he’s readyto spend billions in gold, diamonds and mithril to highlight the issues facing his species.

“I appreciate the Obama administration’s efforts to regulate coal pollution, but it presents a slippery slope for dragons,” Smaug snarled. “It looks good on paper, but what’s to stop the EPA from coming to regulate dragon fire?”


IRS Theater Presents: Star Trek

There’s a new reason to hate the Internal Revenue Service. With your tax dollars, the agency took a foray into the Star Trek fan film industry.

There are dozens of Star Trek fan films online, lovingly crafted by nerds with cameras, video editing software and whatever funds they can muster.

The IRS took the same approach, but instead of scrimping and saving, the production funds came out of the nation’s wallet. The agency showed the short film before a 2010 training conference. Coupled with a Gilligan’s Island training video, the agency spent about $60,000 total.