Wednesday, June 27, 2012


By now, you may have heard about the new show on HBO called "Newsroom". In case you missed it, you can watch the premiere episode for free here. The show stars Jeff Daniels as the anchor of an hourlong news show for a fictional news network. He is described as being the "Jay Leno" of news anchors, because he has developed a reputation for never offending anyone.

That reputation, however, takes a hit when, as part of a panel discussion at a university (later revealed to be Northwestern), he loses all patience and launches into a rant about how America is no longer the greatest country in the world, and then lists the reasons why. Watch that clip here.


Naturally, in today's media saturated market, the clip gets widespread distribution, and Daniels' character, Will McAvoy, is forced by his network to accept a new Executive Producer (MacKenzie McHale, played by Emily Mortimer), who challenges him to re-create the format of his show to be more about "real" news, instead of entertaining people and not offending anyone.

There have been very few shows on TV that have grabbed me with both hand from the very first episode and never let go. "The West Wing" was one. "Scrubs" was another. And now we have "The Newsroom".

An aside: The character played by Daniels seems to be a somewhat toned down version of the Howard Beale character played by Peter Finch in the movie Network. Another excellent movie, by the way. Hopefully Daniels character won't eventually meet the same fate as Finch's

The show was created by Aaron Sorkin, who also created the aforementioned "West Wing", along with "Sports Night" (a show that, sadly, was never fully appreciated for how good it was), as well as several excellent movies (A Few Good Men, The Social Network, The American President). Sorkin is a rarity in Hollyweird these days: A man who believes that people will be entertained by good, intelligent writing that can provoke lively conversation and examination of the issues.

Fans of "The West Wing" - myself included -  have been waiting for years now for something else that we could sink our teeth into. In this world of idiotic reality television shows *cough* Jersey Shore *cough* and live talentless talent shows, it is nice to know that there is still some good TV to look forward to. As I've mentioned before, I do not have cable (yes, I'm the one), so I won't be able to watch the rest of the episodes  until they become available on DVD or Netflix. But it gives me something to look forward to. And a good feeling that there is still some hope for Hollywood.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Prime Example of Stupidity

This is my latest shoe purchase from Costco.

It's a pretty simple walking/running shoe. They run about $15 at Costco. They're pretty cheaply made, but they are comfortable and ususally fit pretty well. They usually last about a year before something causes a seam to pop somewhere, and a hole develops. At that point, I get a new pair. The old pair becomes my "grass-mowing shoes". I wear them while...mowing grass, naturally.

But that's not really my point. My point is this:

See that "Made in" label?

More than 60 years ago, President Kennedy signed a trade embargo against Cuba--an island 90 miles off the coast of Florida--because it had become a Communist dictatorship. A few years later, America engaged in a bloody and prolonged war with another Communist dictatorship halfway around the world: The People's Republic of North Vietnam. It was a war that we eventually lost. Vietnam was completely taken over by Communists. It remains so to this day, more or less.

Vietnam is halfway around the world. Although some democratic reforms have happened, it is an inescapable fact that it is a single-party Socialist state, not unlike Cuba.

And yet today, Vietnam is a valued trading partner of the U.S. (see above picture if you have any doubts). It is a popular tourist destination. Direct flights from the U.S. are available. Veterans of the war travel there to visit places where they fought. Some of them even crawl through tunnels where their enemies hid. I would remind you again that Vietnam is on the opposite side of the world.

Meanwhile, Cuba still suffers under the U.S. trade embargo. No direct flights are available.

The reason is simple. The Cuban-American community in Florida excercises an enormous amount of political clout, mostly because they have a lot of money. And every time someone even dares to suggest weakening the embargo, a tremendous outcry arises from that community. An outcry heard--and obeyed--by Florida's representatives. And most of the rest of the political community. Particularly the Republicans

You have to realize that this country has a long history of forming powerful trade alliances with its former enemies. England, Canada, Japan, Spain, Germany, and Mexico, among others, are all countries that we have fought wars with, sometimes more than once. Today, many of them are some of our strongest allies. We somehow learned that it's more profitable to be friends with them than enemies.

Cuba, however, gets the short end of the stick. We have never fought a war with Cuba. American troops actually liberated Cuba from Spanish rule during the Spanish-American war. However, thanks to the whims of a few embittered expatriates who have never learned how to let go of a grudge, the embargo remains.
With any luck, within a few years what remains of the Cuban-American old guard will no longer be in control of policies towards Cuba. But it is shameful that such a small minority has had so much power for so long. Stupidity personified.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Yet Again

A couple of years ago, just before Christmas, I broke my right big toe when I stubbed it on a chair leg in the dark.

A broken toe is a medical problem that really can't be solved. The bones involved are so small that, once broke, they can't be reset. All you can do is wait for them to heal (out of alignment) and then deal with the chronic problems that tend to ensue.

So last Saturday, I stubbed another one. My left little one this time. I don't know if I broke bone or not, but even if I didn't, it still hurts like all hell.

There are simply some injuries that modern medicine cannot alleviate, despite all the advances that have happened.

Someone really needs to look into this.

Because sometimes the little stuff like this really fucking hurts.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

It's Pointless

I've lost count of the number of times I've tried to convince my co-workers of the absurdity of the current Repuglican position.

The 'pubs', to a (wo)man, led by their Presidential nominee Willard Romney, are convinced that the surest way to economic recovery is increased tax cuts for the wealthy, less government regulation, and reduction of public worker payrolls to next to nothing. The very same policies that led to the Great Recession.

Meanwhile, almost every co-worker of mine is convinced that all Repuglicans pee lemonade. And that they could piss that lemonade all over their heads, tell them it's rain, and they would believe it completely. And they would willingly open their mouths and drink that piss until it killed them.

(What? You think that's too vulgar?! How long have you been reading this blog?!)

Romney, if he is elected President, will destroy this country. That. Is. A. Fact.

But my co-workers cannot be convinced of this.

They have been convinced by the right-wing media that Obama is a Socialist Foreigner who is working to destroy this country. Never mind that he has been working tirelessly from day one to undo the damage done by 8 years of a George W. Bush Presidency. This is not an easy task under the best of circumstances, but the President has been fighting a Repuglican Congress that has had no other stated goal for the last 3 years than ensuring that Barack Obama serves only one term as President.

Try as I might, I have been unable to convince my co-workers about this.

My reason for this is simple. They. Are. Idiots.

And I've decided arguing with them is pointless. Arguing with an idiot is like wrestling with a pig. You both get dirty, and the pig enjoys it. Then he drags you down to his level and beats you with experience. And from the outside, no one knows the difference.

This country will not survive being controlled by another Republican administration. Not as the current Republican party stands. The sooner people realize this, the sooner we'll begin fixing the world they broke.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

The Last Nail in the Coffin

I have, on this blog and elsewhere, repeatedly expressed my reasons why I can never even consider becoming Catholic. This story, which I just learned about today, was the last and final reason why.

For those of you who are too lazy to follow the link, let me give you the Cliff Notes version:

A 9-year-old girl in Brazil, who had been raped by her stepfather and impregnated with twins, underwent an emergency abortion. This operation saved her life, and probably her ability to have children in the future,

Brazil is a strongly Catholic country, although that faith has been tested over the years.

The Catholic church, however, excommunicated both the mother of the girl and the doctors who performed this lifesaving procedure. Apparently, the unborn fetuses that this severely underage girl was carrying were more important to them than the life and future health of the girl in question.

I'm more than willing to acknowledge that the young girl in question may have been older than 9 years. After all, it's an accepted fact that most human females don't hit puberty until age 10 or later. That is NOT an excuse for the Church's behavior. A female child--and there's no doubt that's what she was--is not biologically able to carry a baby to term, much less deliver one (or two, in this case).

But that's not the worst part. No, the worst part is that the man who raped and impregnated this child is still a member of the church.

If you can explain the logic of that, please tell me how.

The Catholic church, in the midst of growing increasingly irrelevant, continues to march steadily backwards.