Thursday, January 28, 2010

Fond farewells

And now for a masterful take on this week's top news... but what to pick on?

Well, Monday I read a story with the headline, "Investors encouraged by November rise in house prices."
Then on Tuesday came the headline, "Markets uneasy on December drop in house sales."
Certainly I'm not the last remaining human who sees a corelation between these two statistics?

...Naw, I'm not gonna write about that.

President made some sort of speech last evening, or so I hear. Me, I was upstairs watching "My Son John" a delightful obscurity from the Cold War. Not that I'm apathetic about the President, but you don't get to watch "My Son John" every day! I'll admit; compared to "Manchurian Candidate" little MSJ doesn't shine much, but I like it. Family drama, where John's true blue American parents face growing awareness their son is a Soviet spy.

The suspense in "My Son John" is SUPPOSED to be, will the FBI agent catch John? Will John repent his Commie ways before it's too late? I've never been able to get interested in that part though. I quickly get spellbound by this instead: How many euphemisms for "menopause" DID they have back in the 1950's???

You think I exaggerate for comedic effect, but NO WAY JOSE! No kidding, very first part of the film, local Doctor shows up at John's parents' house, totally unbidden, to give Mrs. Jefferson a HUGE bottle of pills! He says the pills are good for women "her age" going through "all these things." Doc even cautions her he's got two patients "in her circumstances" in a sanitarium right now.

Menopause is in fact a plot vehicle in MSJ. At one point, Mom has hot flash, opens kitchen window, accidentally hears something. Near the end of the film, Mom is threatening John, she'll inform if he doesn't turn himself in. Confident evil John assures Mom nobody will believe her, not "in her state" and counter-threatens to put her in a sanitarium. Just think of that? At one time in this great land there must've been vast warehouses chock full of menopausal women!

Oh heck, wait a minute! I'm 'sposed to be writing about current events, and MSJ was made in the early 1950's. Dang it, my bad!

All right then, Pernell Roberts passed away this week. First, I'll say far as I know, he's only human being ever named "Pernell." He was on a very interesting TV show back in the 1960's called "Bonanza." It was the rousing saga of three 40yo men living with their 50yo "Pa." One thing about that show is any woman who fell in love with a Cartwright, she was dead before the last round of Chevy commercials. No kidding, there must've been girl graves scattered all over the Ponderosa. Pernell eventually left the show, presumably in search of babes who the Grim Reaper DIDN'T have on speed dial.

He came back around with another hit show in the 1980's. It was "Trapper John, MD" where he went around dispensing narcotics to menopausal women... Oh, cut it out Dave!

So Pernell passed away this week. While he's being laid to rest, I hope we can dispense with a few drastically over-used words/terms...

"Game changer." Everything in Washington DC is a game changer now. Special election in MA was a "game changer." Presidential aids hope State of Union speech will be a "game changer." And if it (whatever "it" is)turns out not to be a "game changer" then it's quickly thrown "under the bus."

Yes, "Under the Bus." There's never anything or anybody thrown "off the ship" or "over the wall" or "from the bridge." Nope, it's just Under the bus Under the bus Under the bus! Apparently there are diesel fueled mass transit vehicles somewhere with an insatiable desire to crush darn near anything beneath their merciless wheels.

I assume Pernell Roberts was a nice guy, but since he's being laid to rest anyways, perhaps we could shuffle some trite cliches into an adjacent plot?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Avenging Elephants

I don't blame people for not following the news from India. After all, the place is like a thousand miles away or something. And the only time we ever talk to India is when we've a question about our bank statements, or can't get the printer to work right.

So here's the story, and I'm playing it straight down the middle.

Summer of 2008 a Hindu leader was murdered in the rural province of Orissa. Local Maoist guerillas claimed credit. For some reason, that caused anti-Christian violence. Missionaries, nuns, native converts were the targets. Rapes, people burned to death, converts run out, their homes taken.

Exactly a year later the elephants showed up, and they're still there. These elephants, two herds totaling about 25, they go "stompy stompy" a lot. They behave at times irrationally, and at other times like a platoon of soldiers on a mission. Everyone is agreed their new neighbors came from 200 miles away, yet nobody recalls seeing them en route, nor can explain why they chose Orissa.

Well I got that part wrong. LOTS of people are explaining why the elephants chose Orissa. Many Indian Christians see it as the vengeance of God visited on those who hurt His/Its followers.

I take no position on that really. God can do anything He/It wants to, except break His/Its promises. But I ain't missing a chance to put polytheism under the microscope!

Easy for monotheists to see polytheism wrongly. Look? All that Zeus stuff looks pretty silly to me too, but it's flawed to think ancient Greeks went around saying, "Yeah, it's a load of crap, but whaddya gonna do?" No, ancient polytheists were devout, and so are the modern ones in India. I know that for sure, as I was recently chatting with a nice Indian woman on the phone and we got on that topic while she was renewing my library card.

This elephant invasion has some people in Orissa really spooked. That because elephant is incarnation of Ganesha, a primary deity. And the elephants are going "stompy stompy" in what feels like sentient behavior to the folk in Orissa. They've killed dozens, destroyed homes and crops in ways that don't match with usual elephant stuff. The elephants seem angry.

Me, I can say that a stressed population of higher mammals will act out in agression. But I'm not a polytheist. The elephants showed up right around the annual festival honoring Ganesha. And Hindus believe in reincarnation, so killers in Orissa are perhaps wondering if spirits of victims have come back to exact revenge.

Now I'm pretty sure God never sent elephants to visit Nero over the martyrdom of early Christians. Had that happened, it'd probably be in some book or something. But I don't place limits on the Creator's perogative to talk turkey to different people in different ways. I take no position on avenging elephants.

Can't help but observe though? There are some Hindus in Orissa right now, fairly shook up. Perhaps they'll be a bit more tolerant towards Christians in the future.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Wacky news roundup

Say what you like, but golf would be a more respected sport if one's opponents were allowed to be loud, distractive and otherwise rude during the swing.

Hmmm, so what's in the news?

French junkies are dropping like flies due to a big batch of anthrax tainted heroin going around. Sounds like our Afghan allies need to review their Quality Control procedures.

Sarah Palin is yet to feel full force over the Nashville deal. Looks like Haiti is overshadowing that story so far, but I think it'll bubble up at some point. At times you ignore appearance and do the right thing. Like cruise ships docking in Haiti, providing at least a couple dozen steady paychecks and giving some workers a semblance of continuity amid the ruins. Other times, appearance means everything. Like, I'm just saying, hypothetically? IF there was some movement afoot celebrating the wisdom of common Americans? Getting roped into some phony baloney "convention" that charges $350 per ticket is bad enough. Asking for $100K speaking fee in order to tell people it's about time we "common" Americans asserted ourselves more in the governmental process... probably not a good idea there Ms. Palin.

And in New Zealand they are busy filing the serial numbers off rifle scopes. Yeah, I thought the same thing. For what the heck does New Zealand need sniper rifles? But, this is where it gets weird. The scope is very futuristic tech, internally lit in some freaky deaky way with radioactive hydrogen isotope that will eventually end up in Lake Michigan, betcha. So the US manufacturer of uber scope did a thing with the serial numbers. Ends with like JN8:12 stuff. IF one looks that scripture verse up, it's about Christ saying He's the light of the world. So it's a flippant, disrespectful comparison between the words of Jesus & a radioactive rifle scope.

So they're filing it off in New Zealand. And I'm sure lots of furor will continue to percolate here in US among people with LOTS of free time. But what I think is funny is there are people on this planet who believe soldiers come back to base, after a hard day at WW4 and look for encoded Kaballic type messages in rifle serial numbers. According to these folks, might the soldiers be playing Yoko Ono records backwards further seeking hidden messages? I wouldn't blame the kids a bit. Yoko Ono might sound better backwards.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Horror writing and righting horrors

How about that? First time in sixty years, midnight b'day visitor to Poe's grave didn't show up. Wonder why? Oh, here it is! Fox News analyst Karl Rove says the no-show was a referendum on the Obama admin.

That Edgar Allan Poe though, quite an enduring figure. Yeah, there's something romantic about artists who die in the gutter, but there's more to it. Invented the detective story. About the first horror writer too. "Raven" is a great poem; the cadence of it is hypnotic. As if that wasn't enough, think about this? If Edgar Allan Poe had never written anything, what the heck would Vincent Price have been doing in the 1960s' anyhow? Maytag repair man commercials maybe?

Poe just understood, folks enjoy reading fiction about horrible things. Doubly odd that, considering there's plenty of horror available without resorting to fiction.

Now that guy who died in the English channel (I bet the French don't call it that) this week? It's sad but it's not horror. He was going to fly his micro-light around the world, but made it less than 100 miles. Well, he made his call. Our species needs a certain percentage of very daring people like that. He was a smart guy; must've known there's some reason micro-lights come with a complementary toe tag.

Haiti now, that's a horror. It was fairly horrible before the earthquake. Hmmm, what'd the US casualty ratio be? About 3M deaths. Haiti just had equivalent of a thousand 9/11's.

So I'm thoroughly bemused by objections in the US for Royal Caribbean docking in Haiti. Yeah yeah yeah, it "looks insensitive." Therefore the couple dozen Haitians who have full time employment because of cruise ship traffic, they can't have jobs anymore? If anything, more cruise ships should be stopping. After all, it's not disaster tourism. Those who bought cruise tickets didn't cause the earthquake. Ship anchors just off isolated cove, go ashore have the beach BBQ and tip heavily.

Sometimes a thing can look insensitive, but it's the right thing to do.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Dragon footprints

In my new role as news analyst, I'm struck by how much discipline will be needed, not to talk about people talking. Never realized before what a big part of the news cycle that's become. Mr. X says something, write a story about it. Go ask Mr. Y for reaction to the comments, write a story about it.

I'm gonna resist that as much as possible. But when a family pet poops in the floor, some comment is appropriate.

Now Mr. Limbaugh, I respect his achievements. Almost single handedly invented talk radio, at a time when AM bandwith was mostly local "swap & shop" programming. Quite an accomplishment really. His much reported remarks on Haiti this week? Calculated. His ratings will go up.

Danny Glover's remarks that Haiti earthquake has something to do with no binding agreement at Copenhagen global warming summit? Well, Mr. Glover is an idiot. Not meant as personal criticism. Most actors and rock stars are idiots. They're very gifted people, and use of that gift is brutally time consuming. Like George Clooney for example? Great actor, and probably has a higher IQ than me. I read about a book per week. You really think George has time to read a book every week?

Having dispensed with that odious business, guess I'll talk some real news. Harry Houdini is of course, one of my personal heroes and spirit guides. When watching a performance, keep an eye out for things that seem slightly out of place. Could be lots of information available.

Many Americans don't know that Nigeria is right now crawling with Russian petrochemical brainiacs. Now why would that be? Doesn't Russia have plenty of its own oil? Yep, they do. Is a long term strategy at work that even Danny Glover could sort out? I'll be sure to ask him, and then write an article about it.

So, why is there a Chinese search & rescue team in Haiti right now? It's for both foreign and domestic consumption. I might as well point out, no politician on the planet ever does anything without first calculating political effect. In Haiti, the Chinese are showing the world, and its own citizens, China is emerging as a world power, moving towards the dominant world power. Hey, that foreign minister lady, Jiang Yu, she's kind of cute!

China isn't a communist country. It's fascist really. Looks more like Franco's Spain than Mao's vision. But they're coming on, in ways that'll at times confuse western perceptions. Like President Obama at Copenhagen, showing up for a meeting, and there's no chair for him. Think that was an accident? Pish! Chinese imperial court was playing head games like that on visiting ambassadors before Columbus was born.

As the dragon emerges on the world stage, at times they'll follow US model. There's much they admire about us. They also think we're spoiled, lazy and a blip in human history. Absolutely nothing can be done to stop China from becoming the dominant world power in the next fifty years. What America needs to do is break the co-dependent relationship, where debt buys goods that finance debt.

This is the part where I type something shocking and controversial. China as a very strong world power will support world stability, but only if the United States is also a strong world power. Underwear bombers aren't the greatest threat to national security. It's debt owed to China.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Talking Dirty

There must be 18 million people right now, blogging about "Pat said Haiti is cursed" or "Senator Reid called Obama a light skinned negro."

So why would I want to make it 18 million and one?

I'll just say...
Rev. Robertson, if you feel right now like pins are sticking in you? You started it dude.
Senator Reid, I'm with you on this one. Mr. Obama is a light skinned negro.

I'd rather type about more interesting stupid things in the news. Like super dirt for example.

Chopping at the Amazon rain forest, that's bad. But the deforestation revealed large tracts of black, amazingly fertile top soil, and that's good. Science couldn't explain what in the world it was doing there; that's bad. But they've figured out what super dirt does, and that's real good.

Its main indgredients are burnt wood particles, broken pottery bits, and human excrement. It attracts all manner of beneficial fungi and micro-organisms. Super dirt traps the nutrients produced by these tiny critters. This process breaks down the super dirt particles into even smaller bits, providing more surface area for more micro-organisms to cling to... so super dirt gets stronger with age, just like whiskey.

Oh, I forgot! That "thump thump" noise you hear? It's Meso-American archaeology texts being thrown into the garbage. Experts have long believed the Amazon basin couldn't have supported settlement like Inca or Mayan cultures. Super dirt says otherwise. Population was once around 100,000 probably. It's quite likely there are ruins of temples, palaces and tombs beneath the jungle canopy somewhere. And they did it all with super dirt.

That's real good, I mean real real good. Modern use of super dirt would not only bring back exhausted soils in the hungriest parts of earth. It'd also reduce dependance on nitrogen based fertilizer in developed countries. So that's good.

Only problem is we moderns can't figure out how to make super dirt, and that's bad.
But some smart folks are working on it, and that's good.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

DIY Scandalous

More than a million "How To" books are being recalled. Turns out if some of the directions and diagrams were followed explicitly, could lead to "serious bodily injury and even electrical fires." Well I want to know how they finally caught the mistakes. True, usually a comprehensive product review happens AFTER serious liability exposure, but we don't know.

I'd prefer to imagine this: An electrical contractor standing in a long line at Lowe's. He picks up some DIY home wiring book, idly turns pages. Something catches him, he looks closer. Turns the pages more quickly now. Eyes bulge out, face turns red, and POOF! He turns into Jackie Gleason, right in the checkout line and it's "HAMANA HAMANA HAMANA!"

Pity all those books have to be destroyed though. Maybe they could just slap a new cover on them? Re-title as "How to fool Arson investigators" and sell them on Craigslist maybe.

Woman named Casey Johnson died last week. I'd never heard of her before. She was daughter of NY Jets owner, she had $20 mil to her name, and she was only thirty years old. Reason the story struck me, is I felt bad for not knowing who she was. Apparently she wanted to be famous in the worst way. And I mean that literally. Turns out she was on a quest for noteriety for some reason. For one thing, she was quite public lesbian lover to somebody named Tila Tequila. Now Ms. Tequila appears to be an MTV "reality" star. I don't watch MTV but if they've got any programming even approaching reality, then "Girls gone wild" is a BBC documentary series.
Casey & Tila even announced their "engagement" recently. They told the world on Youtube, while both were clad in only undies. So Casey was a woman who wanted to be a nationwide scandal, but I don't think she ever hit the big time, not really.
It's a pity too, when scandalizing folks is so easy, IF you go about it in the right way. She should've said something about Jesus on TV.

Cause also last week, a reporter on Fox News said Tiger Woods should convert to Christianity if he wants to get his life butter side up. And WOW! Judging from the reaction, you'd have thought he was wearing a bra & panties, telling folks to hook the red and black wires together! The reporter's name is Brit Hume. I've seen him on TV for years, seems like an all right guy. I'd presume his comments weren't scripted; just talking off the top of his head about repentance & forgiveness.

All of a sudden though, newspaper writers are demanding he apologize, ACLU is totally upset, and the Dalai Lama said something about "settling this outside in the alley." OK, I was kidding about the ACLU part.

And this just demonstrates why you have to stay up with changing times. When Casey was a little girl, being the lesbian lover of an MTV cartoon character was a shortcut to Tabloid stardom. 2010 though, not so much.
When Brit was a boy, expressions of faith were common in the media. After all, Linus was reading Bible verse on "Charlie Brown Christmas." But now it's 2010. Faith is supposed to be a private matter. Lesbians in underwear, that's on Youtube.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Year of the Crank

Well that's interesting! Mr. Obama made a bold speech, indirectly stemming from the whole underwear bomber embarrassment. Not as JFK as his Nobel speech, but still pretty good...

"Make no mistake, the buck stops with me. I mean, provided China will loan me the buck of course."

Hmmm, what was I gonna write about? Oh yeah, I got it now!

My blog, my little soapbox, but a new year, so what to do?

I could write inspiring essays that affirm the human spirit and encourage all to soldier on against adversity. Yeah, guess I could do that. Doesn't sound much like me though.

I could write insightfully and powerfully on the challenges our nation faces, point to common ground and seek to unite our divided people... ha ha ha, I kill me! Why exactly would I want to do that?

Naw, suppose I'll just keep making fun of stuff. But there's this thing? Why should I bust my brain cells (not to brag here, but I've dozens of brain cells. Yeah, literally) inventing stupid when all around me, a teeming mass of humanity is furiously engaged in DOING stupid?

Therefore in 2010 I will kick back and wakeboard behind sleek, agile craft speeding across the Oceans of stupid.

To wit: It's cold in Memphis this week. I mean really really cold. No kidding, on my morning run today, saw a terrorist lighting his underwear just for the warmth. In response, Memphis has set up a warming tent for homeless. Sounds common sense to me, but much of the reaction has been vitriolic. By this I mean quite angry, and not some kind of antique record player.

Most of the angry say these homeless are insane drunken junkies, and they may have a pint there. Oh sorry, my typo! It's the homeless who have a pint. The anti-warming tent crowd, they may have a point. Hey, I'm not going to get all "The Saviour said" here, but I question the logic of anyone who'd deny a fellow human a warming tent when it's 18 degrees. Do they for some cause relish the thought of Memphis sanitation workers driving around scraping junkiecicles off the sidewalks? Do they wish to see karmic justice not intervered with? Is that it? Must be nice; I sure wouldn't want MY karma account audited. Very same people who object to warming tent for insane drunken junkies would be near rioting if they heard local animal shelter wasn't heated. It's hilarious really.

Because we all know "The world is a comedy to those that think, and a tragedy to those that feel." Ben Cartwright said that. Ha ha ha! Just kidding. Was really Floyd the barber.

In other comedy, a man in England this week got his penis stuck in a length of metal pipe. Had to go to ER, and they didn't know what to do about it either. For some odd reason, that malady is little addressed in most medical schools. Local rescue squad was summoned, skillful use of a metal grinder solved the problem. I readed the story four times before I could stop laughing, but this is a serious issue! There's a deplorable lack of journalism afoot in the english speaking world these days. Questions not answered in the story?
1. How long was the pipe, and how did the chap get to the ER? A guy walking down sidewalk with a four foot length of pipe extending from his trousers would be a head turner. Did he ride one of those double decker buses to the hospital? Did the driver make him sit up top?
2. They have universal health care in England. Is penis/pipe procedure covered? If not, will he be billed separately? Who figures out what that costs? If you charge him what it's worth, going to be a hefty bill.
3. Has anybody cautioned the patient to stay away from keyholes? Cause that'd be very bad. You can't even get on a double decker bus with a door; bus opening is too small. Walking down sidewalk with a door attached to you, zero forward visibility. Somebody could get hurt like that.