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Showing posts from April, 2016

A Dream Within a Dream

Science is an interesting topic, but you have to wonder what National Geographic hopes to accomplish by presenting doomsday scenarios, with authoritative voices like Hakeem Oluseyi to tell how we might be able to survive a neutron star or some other cosmic collision.  However, the episode that caught my eye the other night was a scenario in which an ice meteor strikes the earth and causes the sea water to rise at such an alarming rate it would take a 10,000 foot sea wall to stave off total destruction.   I was hoping to find the video but no such luck.

It's bad enough we are destroying our planet due to our own devices, causing the global temperature and sea level to rise, but here is Dr. Hakeem telling us of situations we have absolutely no control over and would require massive efforts well beyond our collective will to combat or escape our dear planet, as the case may be.  It seems nothing we are doing can prepare ourselves for these cataclysmic events, which would lead one to…

California here we come

Just when everyone thought we had heard the last of Carly, Ted decides to cast her as his running mate.  I suppose after his failed attempt to ally with Kasich to thwart Trump in Tuesday's primaries, this was as good as any attempt to deflect attention away from his abysmal showing.  I'm not sure what good it does picking a VP at this stage of the game, when he has no mathematical chance of winning the nomination on the first ballot, even if he were to score big in California, which seems to be his motivating reason for picking Carly to run with him.

As you might recall, Carly is a California native who unsuccessfully ran against Barbara Boxer for the US Senate seat in 2010.  She was also the former CEO of Hewlett Packard, who was fired in 2005 after running the company into the ground.  Nevertheless, she seemed to tickle conservatives' fancy in the early going of this election cycle, much the way Michelle Bachman did in 2012.

Her social and political views aren't qu…

The night they drove the Grand Old Party down

Seems like the new "presidential" Donald Trump lasted all of five minutes.  When news got out that Cruz and Kasich would tag team on him, he launched into Lyin' Ted and "One for 41" Kasich, bemoaning how a man who has won only one primary could still be in the hunt.  He compared Kasich to a mama's boy, feeling he was entitled to the Presidency.  He also attacked Kasich's eating habits.

Trump is favored to win big in today's round of primaries that focus mostly on the Northeast, essentially his backyard.  It really is hard to fathom why Republican voters continue to gravitate toward the Donald in the wake of his outlandish attacks against his opponents. They have to know he stands little chance in November.

However. the base of the GOP doesn't seem to care, as it has put its faith in this dubious developer who has left nothing but a trail of empty promises behind him.  This is a guy who was going to save Atlantic City, as you might remember.  Y…

Pistol-packin' Mama

Harriet Tubman hasn't generated this much attention since the antebellum days, when she successfully ran an "underground railroad" with such a fierce resolve that it led to a $40,000 bounty being placed on her head.

Putting her face on the $20 bill has everyone commenting pro and con with some offering alternative denominations.  It's not like Andrew Jackson is being removed.  He will still be on the reverse side of the bill, so it is really much ado about nothing, as you can always stack your bills Jackson side up if Tubman is too much for you to take.

Andrew Jackson has not always been on the bill.  It used to be Grover Cleveland before the Treasury Dept. decided to change faces in 1928 for no disclosed reason.  Some surmised it was the centennial of his first presidential inauguration.  There had been renewed interest in Jackson, a fiery Democrat who promoted state rights and pushed to have the national bank closed in favor of state banks.  There were those who t…

So long, Prince

Prince never quit turning out the albums.  He released the two-phase Hit n Run last year on Tidal.  It may have seemed like a vanity project, as he re-explored his 80s music that had made him so immensely popular, but then so  many recording artists return again and again to the same themes, finding new ways to interpret their music.

His prodigious outpouring over the last three-and-a-half decades will leave a legacy like few other recording artists.  One can imagine there is much more stashed away in the vaults of Paisley Park where he was found dead yesterday.

Prince was truly an original.  He not only had a distinctive sound but a presence that belied his gentle nature.  Many persons are recounting the the ways he touched their lives, as he rarely called attention to it himself.  Like his attempt in the 90s to shed his name, Prince seemed to want to be anonymous.

Reclusion didn't really suit him, however, and he could be found teaming up with an astonishing variety of music…

The Hangover, Part V

or whose inaugural party will we be seeing?

It's understandable that New Yorkers had no time for Cruz or even Kasich, but I would have thought they would have greeted Bernie more warmly.  Even in his boyhood home of Brooklyn he was soundly rejected.  Of course, Bernie supporters are questioning the 125,000 voters who were purged from the rolls, as the number exceeded Hillary's margin of victory in the New York borough.

As usual, political pundits are calling the nomination over, claiming there is "no clear path" left for the other candidates to upstage "King Kong" Trump and "Hurricane" Hillary, but there are still 15 primaries left on the slate, and I doubt Cruz or Kasich or Sanders will drop out.  Trump and Hillary had this state in the bag, yet with so much of our news media centered in New York it was natural they would make a big deal out of these victories. The only question was whether Cruz or Kasich could dent Donald, and take away a few d…

Of Clouds and Men

Lately, I've found myself in a Vonnegut frame of mind.  Maybe it is all these X-Files episodes I've been watching with my daughter, but mostly it is the desire to read something that spurs the imagination.  I've been feeling a bit uninspired as of recent.

The Brothers Vonnegut looks interesting.  Not exactly The Brothers Karamazov, but then there were only two of them and patricide wasn't the issue here as it was the ethical ramifications of cloud-seeding around 1947 when Kurt and his brother Bernard worked for GE.  Kurt's brother was a scientist engaged in a government-funded Project Cirrus, later dubbed Project Stormfury, in which the military hoped to redirect weather.  This was the same year, an alien ship supposedly crash-landed at Roswell.   So, one can definitely see Chris Carter trying to draw a parallel.

Ginger Strand takes a more conventional approach.  Kurt had been hired as a PR man to help promote GE projects, getting their products in major papers lik…

Bernie's Hail Mary

It has been difficult to discern what Bernie Sanders gains from his impromptu visit with the Pope, but apparently his campaign consultant, Jeffrey Sachs, thought it might give him some heft on the foreign policy front.  Sachs was the one who arranged Sanders' appearance at a conference staged by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.  Sachs was also speaking at the conference.  All this was arranged through the Pope's "right hand man," Bishop Marcel Sanchez Sorondo, the chancellor of PASS.  
According to the NYTimes, it was at dinner the night before that someone whispered into Sorondo's ear that the Pope would give Bernie an audience if he was in the lobby of the Casa Santa Maria at 6 am before he flew out to Greece.  That was all the time Bernie needed to make this trip worth the effort.  After all, what's a trip to the Vatican without an audience with the Pope, be it ever so brief.
What Bernie gains from it remains to be seen, as the two days probably…

Kobe's last game

or 25 million reasons LA sucks

If you haven't been following basketball this year you might be forgiven for not knowing all the records that were set because of the media attention given Kobe Bryant.  You might call Kobe the Donald Trump of basketball, denying other players and teams their due despite their spectacular performances this season.

Steph Curry hit a staggering 400 three-pointers in leading Golden State to a record 73 wins against only 9 losses.  He also set the record for consecutive games in scoring three-pointers - 128, which he will be able to add to next year.  Russell Westbrook set the record for triple-doubles, the last against the Lakers three days ago, which Kobe even had to acknowledge.  There were many other records broken as well in what has been one of the best years in the NBA in a long long time.

Kobe could have retired last year, except that he had to sit most of it out due to a torn right rotator.  He also missed much of the previous year because of i…

Meet the Trumps

CNN felt we should get up close and personal with the Trumps, staging a town hall with the family last night that was met with mixed reviews.  The Donald seems to be feeling pretty good about himself after his sabbatical of several days, preparing for a final week of stump speeches before the New York primary, where he is seen as the overwhelming favorite to sweep all the districts in the state and claim its 95 delegates.

With a big victory on the horizon, he extended an olive branch by stating that he would consider Kasich, Rubio and Walker as running mates.  This was news to these three men, who categorically rejected serving as his vice-president.  I suppose this is his way of saying he is willing to work out a deal with the Republican National Committee if it drops its campaign against him, otherwise he might push for Ben Carson, Chris Christie or god forbid Sarah Palin on the ticket.

He also has his henchmen making the rounds, telling everyone how Ted Cruz uses "gestapo t…

Ted the Toilet Plunger

Trevor Noah has come up with the perfect analogy for Ted Cruz's role in the #dumptrump campaign -- a toilet plunger.  This was in response to Ted claiming to be the "uniter" after his big Wisconsin primary win.  It is doubtful Ted will be very effective in New York, where he currently lags in third place.  His comments regarding "New York values" have come back to bite him in the ass.  But, there are 15 states left on the campaign trail after New York next week, so you figure Ted can fulfill his role of clearing the toilet of Donald Trump before the convention.

However, Ted may still have a chance to pick up some delegates in New York, as Amy Davidson explains the arcane process.  This is why Ted was spending time in the Bronx, trying to round up support anyway he could get it.  Ted has proven to be a very effective man on the ground, which is bedeviling the Trump campaign that doesn't even know how to properly fill out ballots.  Trump also lost delegates …

The Green Jacket

You might wonder if Augusta National Golf Course had been a Civil War battlefield given all the hushed tones, even when the players aren't preparing to strike the ball.  It has become the mecca of golfing fans, and is one of the hardest places to get a tee time in the world.  It's also very difficult to get a ticket to watch the Masters Tournament, for which the golf course has become so famous.  This is the price you pay to play on a course designed by the immortal Bobby Jones.

The Green Jacket has become the most revered symbol in golf, but if you ask Lee Trevino it is no big deal.  In fact, he turned down playing at Augusta three times in his professional career because of the differences he had with co-founder Clifford Roberts, who insisted on banning blacks from the club, and that included professional players.  Roberts finally relented in 1975 when he allowed Lee Elder to play the golf course.  The color barrier was reinforced even further with Roberts' insistence o…

Only notable persons need apply

I was a bit surprised that one had to pass a set of "notability guidelines" to be posted on Wikipedia.  I was thinking of writing a biography of my father, who had been a mining engineer and exploration geologist for the better part of 40 years in the Caribbean and Africa.  Given the lack of references to his experiences available over the Internet, it would be difficult to have the biography stay up for any length of time, as editors, or wikipedians as they are called, would have the power to remove it.   I suppose I could approach the biography backward by creating Internet records based on the written records I do have of his experiences, but that would be a tedious effort, and I assume the notes would be examined as well.

This led me to ask what makes a person "notable?"  Obviously, notability in one field doesn't necessarily carry the same weight in another field.  Then there are the strange cases where one is notable for being a well-documented murder v…
As P.T. Barnum said, there is a sucker born every minute.  L. Ron Hubbard was determined to find them in Hollywood.   In the documentary, Going Clear, Scientology aimed big, looking to turn on famous Hollywood figures to its form of self-help therapy pioneered by Hubbard in the 1950s.  He used e-meters to gauge your emotional state and help you bring your anxieties under control.

Notoriously insecure actors are the perfect target, and Scientology nabbed some big names early on, including Gloria Swanson and Rock Hudson.  You would be surprised by some of the others that flirted with or are currently members of Scientology.  Basically it was a form of therapy, but with a large supporting group that gave persons a sense of belonging, which you wouldn't find in private sessions.

In the documentary, and the book it was based on, LRH comes across as a charlatan.  A man who used religion solely to make money.  According to Alex Gibney (director) and Lawrence Wright (author), Hubbard ha…

Talk to the hand

We haven't heard much from Big Bill on the campaign trail, but he ran into a little war of words with Black Lives Matter in Philly last night.  The guy is sadly a shadow of his former self, no longer able to make the stirring pitches that were his hallmark on the campaign trail in '92 and '96.  The guy could promise you the moon and make you believe it.  Now, he is just a hoarse cheerleader for his wife.

Surprisingly, there hasn't been much talk of Bill as "First Lady."  You figure he will have an influential role in the White House if Hillary is elected, something that eluded him 8 years ago.  The two have had plenty of time to go over what their roles would be if they got the keys to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. again.  Would Hillary give him a cabinet position or make him Secretary to the United Nations, as Frank did Claire in House of Cards?  We can only speculate.

Bill seems to have had a change of heart on many issues, but not his signature crime bill.  This…

The Home Stretch

While the media focuses on Trump, Bernie Sanders has not-so-silently crept up on Hillary turning New York into a must win for her if she plans to seal the nomination before the July convention.  She continues to hold a comfortable lead in the polls, but Bernie has seized the momentum, winning six of the last seven states, and showing that his support extends well beyond affluent young whites.

Mockingly, many persons of color have adopted #berniemademewhite after he won caucuses in Washington, Alaska and Hawaii, which have substantial minority populations.  Bernie's message has been resonating throughout the Democratic electorate, especially in the wake of the Panama Papers that reinforced the image of a kleptocracy funneling money out of America into offshore accounts, when many Americans struggle to get by on menial salaries.

While it would take a Herculean effort on the part of Sanders to overcome Hillary's huge superdelegate advantage, he can shake up the convention if he…