Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Celebrity Death Means More


This is going to sound mean, but the death of a celebrity puts more points in the win column than your own. The latest celebration of tragedy concerns Carrie Fisher but the personality doesn’t matter.  Celebrity is the point and you’re invited to unburden yourself of emotions normally reserved for friends and immediate members of one’s own family.  I’m sounding the alarm bells now – it may be that, when you die, there’s not enough emotion left to invite even one tear to flow at your terminal service in this world.

I appreciate people of talent, whether it be Carrie Fisher or George Michael, but I’m finding these excesses a bit hysterical.  You turn on your TV and hear of these celebrity deaths and some talking head or other tries to coax from you some little memory that you can piously share on social media. 

It would be understandable when the celebrity in question is really a giant – say an Ernest Hemingway or a Muhammad Ali – but most of these teary drip-fests are for people of average talent who are hoisted into the celebrity success category by virtue of celebrity parents. This seems to be the case with Carrie Fisher, daughter of film star Debbie Reynolds and handsome Eddie Fisher. How hard can it be to achieve success when celebrity parents have already paved the way and no one dares to question the level of talent?

Part of this sententious kabuki theatre concerns the non-stop dramatization of the deceased celebrity’s struggle with a) drugs b)alcoholism c) mental health issues d) dysfunctional parents e) and most nauseatingly, with celebrity itself.

It’s okay for a news organization to report the death of a Carrie Fisher, a Prince, a George Michael or anyone it wants to.  But there are tabloid newspapers whose function it is to satisfy the consumer need for morbid pathos.  And they do a better job of it than CNN which spends precious hours sharing tired and clich├ęd eulogies of the ‘personality.’ 

I’m sure that the producers of these shows have the obituaries and eulogies already handy, and just pull them out of a drawer (a computer drawer) and use them up as if they are sheets of toilet paper.  You can’t know what’s going on in the world because the internet, too, gets clogged with wet tissue. 

All these eulogies are alike unless the deceased celebrity is a real larger-than-life figure – Malcom X and Martin Luther King come to mind – and at least these giants didn’t die by their own hand.  Some of the most touted celebrities on TV are people you don’t want your kid to emulate so what are they doing?  Haven’t they heard that excessive drinking, risky sex, and drugs aren’t good for them?

Stop please, we’ve had enough!  Our own close friends and family are dying too. So are our soldiers, our cops, our children of the streets.  That their eulogies will be quiet, largely unknown affairs doesn’t make them less important than the death-of-the-month celebrity.  I’m finding this death-of-a-celebrity business very twisted and nearly always these days carried to extremes. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Gun Control New York Style (HS agent Leaves MP4 on Backseat


What happened in upstate New York would qualify for comedy if the MP4 stolen from Homeland Security agent Leroy Doctor didn’t end up in the hands of gangsters.  An MP4, if you don’t know, is a fully automatic version of the sporter rifle AR-15 (single-fire).  It’s just the thing a police officer with a family (or anyone else) would not want to go up against.

I don’t know if the thugs who trafficked the weapon will abide by Andrew Cuomo’s ten round limit. Probably  the two 30 round clips also stolen from the rear seat of the Homeland Security agent’s will be too tempting to dispose of.  Maybe the bulletproof tactical vest will also come in handy for some gangbanger.

This stuff can only happen when bureaucrats are running the show.  It boggles the mind how a federal security official would leave a machine gun in the back seat of a vehicle in his driveway or on a public street.  And no word on terminating the agent – or at least transferring him to washing cars in the motor pool where he can’t do any harm.

The agent’s excuse, according to the ATF affidavit, was that he locked the front doors but forgot to lock the back doors.  That’s the story we’re asked to believe.  Do people really think the public is that stupid? The excuse must be some kind of joke unless the HS agent was driving something like a 53 Ford. 

In any case, a heroin addicted thief stole the automatic rifle from the agent’s car and sold it, along with the two thirty-round clips and the bulletproof vest, to another player.  None of this has been recovered, and it looks like the agent still has his job, perhaps rescued by an uncle among the higher-ups.  Nothing of politics in New York will surprise anyone – we are beyond being shocked.

New York’s strict gun control laws provide nothing more than a platform for its politicians to preen over. It was just two years ago that Governor Andrew Cuomo, in a dead of night maneuver that trampled on democratic process, passed his 7 round magazine limitation order (later expanded to ten rounds).

The wishful thinking and infatuated views of Democrats and homogenized Republicans of this state is intended to make people believe they are doing something about crime. The fact of the matter is that the more gun control measures,  the more homicide.This applies to big cities like Chicago as well as small cities like Syracuse, New York which experienced its 27th homicide.  This surpasses all previous records.

While the tendency is to beat their breasts piously and blame neighboring states for the problem, the reality of Cuomo’s edict is far different. The only people impacted by the New York gun restrictions are people who rarely, if ever, break the law.

On the other hand, the social engineers of this wealthy state seem to have done nothing but aid the criminals. Aid them, that is, when they are not arming them. 

Go here if you want to read the full story. http://on.rocne.ws/2fSFr4P




Friday, December 23, 2016

Anis Amri: Couldn't Make a Life So He Made a Death



He was shot to death about 3:30 in the a.m. by Italian police.  Anis Amri was armed with a .22 caliber handgun , which he pulled from his backpack, managing to shoot one of the police officers in the shoulder.  Both cops fired back, hitting Amri twice.  One of the cops’ bullets went where it was supposed to go – center mass – the thorax.  You don’t recover from that.  The officer who was shot is thankfully doing well and recovering, according to Italian officials, but Amri was likely dead before his body hit the ground.

I  understand the reasoning of people who say it would have been better if Anis Amri had been captured alive. Then law enforcement could perhaps find out more about his contacts and support system.  That presupposes that he would give up information under interrogation. Argue that all you want, but include me out.  Amri’s victims got justice at least, and justice is coming for the others who aided him.   

 But really, it is doubtful that the Berlin mass casualty killer would provide information to police when there is no death penalty in Germany . Anis Amri would have his rights, including the right to keep silent, the right to television, the right to get media interviews, maybe a book contract. Maybe even conjugal visits.  The authorities couldn’t offer any more than a long life sentence so he would probably adapt to the institutional life and perhaps proselytize to other inmates.

What’s coming next (and has already begun) is the imbecilic question of whether Anis Amri was a ‘lone wolf’ or whether he was ‘self-radicalized.” Such questions do not apply to the world we live in. With the internet, we have become factional or even tribal. It’s easy to see how many little divisions and subdivisions there are in our society, all linked together in ‘groups” with ‘followers” and particular rules of engagement.  This bifurcation exists in all aspects of our society, even in music where a person’s choices are broken down into various classes (check Spotify, Amazon Music, I-Tunes, I-Heart Radio, and a whole bunch more)  Within the context of international terror, all you have to do to join ISIS or AQ is to have a smart phone and you’ll get hooked up. You’ve already acquired enough hate and resentment to become the slave of any master who relieves you of the burden of freedom by telling you whom to hate and what to do about it.

There are easily a thousand slave-mastering militant Islamist groups promulgating the notion that Muslims are victims of the ‘infidel.’ The ‘infidel’ can be anyone not Muslim, or better yet, not adhering to the basest interpretations of the political system sometimes described as a religion. 

By definition, Islam needs enemies. If every single person in the world were Muslim, and the Shiite Muslims converted to Sunni, then the remaining Muslims would invent an enemy.  Because to do otherwise would require rabid Islam (and I don’t mean secular Islam or the kind and tolerant Muslim lady who works in the local supermarket) to examine itself and pull back from its death dream of world political conquest.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Rape Kit Redux



It’s unfortunate that everyone seems to care about justice while few can agree even on what justice is. But some things are obvious – like the 12,000 untested rape kits held in Memphis Tennessee in 2013. 

That’s a number reported on CBS evening news this week.  And it’s not justice. When the red flag was raised on the staggering number, the county attorney general Amy Weyrich kicked up processing.  About 7,000 of the 12,000 were sent away for processing, returning about 3700 with DNA which could potentially be matched. 

The 3700 plus rape kits gave rise to only ten convictions, prompting  CBS reporter Jerika Duncan to comment: “That’s not a high number.” 

No, and it’s probably not any easier for the district attorneys in four cities with a backlog of nearly 29,000 untested rape kits.  That’s a whole lot of potential rapes in four cities (Houston, Memphis, Detroit, and Cleveland) even with a population as large as ours.  But when thousands of untested rape kits were processed, the number of convictions was remarkably low, around 1% . 

The one city where progress was made was Cleveland, where the state paid for the testing, allowing the prosecutor’s offices to hire 25 investigators and 6 more prosecutors. That resulted in 5000 kits tested with 239 convictions.

There are several reasons which justice will be avoided in thousands of rape cases, but an important one is that sexual assault cases have statutes of limitations. The rape kits are untested. Time flies. The states have limitation statutes ranging from 3 to 15 years.

It’s mostly a lack of money that allows rapists to go free. Lab fees for rape kit processing are in the range of $1,000 to $1500, according to endthebacklog.org.  Labs are overwhelmed with all kinds of cases requiring attention. Prosecutions are costly, too, and, in doing battle with defense lawyers, there are no guarantees of victory.  Moneyed defendants can often outwait and delay budget-strapped district attorney’s offices.

But there is another huge reason why the number of reported rapes, and rape kits is high while the number of convictions is low. Unless DNA is matched to a person already in a police database , processing of a rape kit only reveals the DNA of an unknown person. 




Saturday, December 17, 2016

Out with the Ethanol – In with Scott Pruitt at the EPA







Earth people to Other-worldly Bureaucratic Elites – we have an announcement.  Donald Trump’s nominee for EPA head, Scott Pruitt, should be approved immediately. The sooner the better.  The EPAs Other-Worldly contingent, with its absolutely nuts RFS (Renewable Fuel Standards) is crushing us little people.  Mr. Pruitt has a history of opposing the RFS – for a variety of valid reasons. 

But let’s look at it on the human level. I had two chain saws destroyed by Ethanol before figuring out that it was ethanol that was throttling the engines, making them virtually unrepairable. Okay, I'm a nobody. I don't matter in the scheme of things. Who gives a damn about my little plebeian problems? 
  Then I found out there was a nation wide conspiracy against all of us who worked with our hands. The objective was to destroy our lawnmowers, chainsaws, tillers, and other small equipment so that we felt no longer competent to till the soil, mow the lawn, cut down a dead tree or any of the other myriad jobs we try to do ourselves because, unlike the EPA Green-elites, we don’t live in D.C. condos or tony Washington suburbs and can’t afford to hire people to do all these things for us.

Agricultural welfare may help politicians on both sides of the aisle stay in office, but it’s hypocritical to complain of one type of welfare while doling out another.  The ethanol in gas pumps is currently limited to 10 percent, but the current EPA wants to pump it up until gasoline powered cars choke out completely and we are forced to buy electric cars from Elon Musk.  Unfortunately, few people will be able to afford electric cars from Elon Musk and, even if he could, we would like to travel more than 100 miles. 

Of course, you could buy one of those Elon Musk designed Tesla Model S with their base starting price of $75,000.  That one supposedly has a range of 270 miles.  I saw one parked outside the Apple Corporate headquarters in Cupertino, California once – what a beauty!  Chump change for some people, I know.  Wouldn’t you rather own a house than a rapidly depreciating pile of status-y metal, glass, plastic, and rubber? If ethanol was such a good thing, maybe Tesla could produce hundreds of thousands of affordable cars running on 100 percent ethanol. Then everyone would be happy.

Now you must understand that a lot of people are hating on the ‘Big Oil Companies’ and unwilling to look beneath the hood.  But the fuel standards favor ‘BIG OIL’ because the large oil companies are the only ones with enough infrastructure to process the corn into ethanol (while depriving the starving people of the world). 
If the idea is to counter monopoly oil, the fuel standards are doing just the opposite. The smaller oil refineries cannot afford the expensive equipment needed to process and dilute petrol into the necessary solution capable of poisoning your lawnmower, and eventually your hoopty (jalopy to those of us of previous generations).

Now’s our chance to be rid of the EPA Renewable Fuel Standards fantasy. This is for the good of all political parties, Jill Stein’s included.  The standards have had no impact on environmental quality and cannot, because of the process of producing and delivering it.
Whether one likes Trump or hates him (and there is no room on the planet for haters), his pick for EPA top exec is a good one and should be supported.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Manchester By the Sea – The film “Manchester by  the Sea” has got five Golden Globe Awards, in 3rd place behind “La-la Land” and “Moonlight.” Released in November, let’s point out it’s not a Christmas Story.
Manchester By the Sea
Review and recap Manchester By the Sea
Now, so that we can go on and talk about other things, let’s just stipulate that the acting, script, and direction of the Kenneth Lonergan film ‘Manchester-by-the-Sea are worthy of film award nominations.  Major characters, minor characters, all fit seamlessly in the picture creating a realistic orbit of characters around the story line. With the exception of Samuel L. Jackson, whose criticism of it was largely incomprehensible, most everyone seems to praise the film, myself included. 
The background for this film is Massachusetts, in a fictional Manchester by the Sea. The people of this film have a backdrop behind them and inside them. Their personal histories are close and intertwined, and not all of it is pretty.

To continue reading my review, go here.



Friday, December 2, 2016

How Broadway Can Mess Up a Good Film (A Bronx Tale)





Aren’t you holding your breath until Broadway makes a musical from Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather chronicles?  Can’t wait to see some faux Marlon Brando dancing across the stage as Don Corleone? Then you might like what the easy money hucksters on the Great White Way are doing to ‘A Bronx Tale.”

You’ve heard of it? A while back there was this little movie called “A Bronx Tale” made by Robert De Niro and Chazz Palmentiri about a bus driver trying to raise a family in a Bronx neighborhood run by the mob.  The mobster is the local big shot, revered and/or feared by the locals.  A slick guy with a smooth line and plenty of cash. Great movie.

Anyway, the bus driver has a young boy who is fascinated by “Sonny’s (the mob boss) activities.  He’s a cute kid, Colagero is, and Sonny adopts him first as a kind of mascot and then as a runner and soon the kid is making a little bit of money at the periphery of this larger criminal enterprise.  Meanwhile, Colagero’s dad, a straight up hardworking type wants his son to grow up with traditional values – hard work, honesty, the straight and narrow.

The Italian neighborhood factored heavily in the film but it could have been any neighborhood group. In neighborhoods where African-Americans are heavily concentrated, adolescents and even young kids emulate former drug dealers covered with bling most of whom do not quit the game to become rappers.  Or maybe it could be some young, adolescent admirers of Irish gangs like the Westies? 

Anyway, the phenomenon is universal, but is this the stuff of musical?  The obvious argument for making it so is West Side Story, but in spite of the plagiarized or parallel universe of the 1950’s drama modeled loosely on the Puerto Rican ‘Capeman’ murders, this idea just does not work.  

I didn’t see it. I’m not going to. Not unless they resurrect Joey Ramone and put it to a soundtrack of his.  Can’t you hear it:  Twenty, twenty, twenty four hours to go, I wanna’ be a bus driver. . .

The public  is tired of remakes and sequels whose only purpose is to have a guaranteed audience without risk to the bottom line. Why not create something new and original, something that might replenish the artistic soul of the country?

I’m sure there are a lot of unknown talented people who have written smart musicals and plays who need the money and attention more than Robert De Niro.  But even as I write, I have heard a rumor that Broadway investment bankers are working on a rock opera about the Neopolitan Camorrah.
There is a brilliant Italian TV series they can rip off for that one. It's called "Gomorrah" -- don't you love the poetry?