Abstract 122




It looks like a riot of colors, and much of this got away from me before I could bring it under control. Then I let the thing go and it got even crazier before I had to run away.













Reductress




Reductress is an amazing site.

It's so great, I can't even find the courage to say something funny. This is extremely good satire done very, very well.

Johnny Depp




Today's the day you finally had a better day than poor Johnny Depp.

Good Lord, the world has come crashing down upon him. Godspeed, man.

Hillary Wins Washington State Primary




I don't have much to add here, other than noting that defenders of Bernie Sanders were quick to point out that his caucus win in Washington State meant that he got 610,000 "votes" because of that win. Through the magic of questionable math, they asserted that, because he received the support of about 170,000 caucus goers, it meant his vote total would have been much higher.

Well, bullshit. Hillary won the Washington State primary.

That sound you here is the disappearance of any sort of reason why people should think that Sanders can win this or claim he's been robbed. Clearly, the people who support him have a loud voice but do not have the numbers to back it up.












Math With Bernie Bots




You may see this kind of nonsense cropping up in your day to day activities:

Hillary does NOT have three million more votes than Bernie. Her count does not give ANY credit of votes to those 10 states Bernie won by caucus. Take, for example, Washington, with an active voter registration of 3,973,623. 56% voted Democratic in the last election. That's 2,225,229 Democrats. Assuming what would have been a 38% turnout for the primary, that's 845,587 voters. Sanders won 72,2% in Washington, giving an equivalent vote count of 610,514 votes for Bernie and 235,073 for Clinton. Counting all the caucus wins for Bernie that gives him a vote count equal to or greater than Clinton's.

This is demonstrably false when you look at what actually happened:

"Despite predictions that the caucus turnout would rival that of the record-breaking 2008 election, Washington's numbers were exactly what people were expecting. Officials were expecting over 200,000 votes, and Washington Democrats communications director Jamal Raad tells Bustle that he estimates more than 230,000 Democrats turned out to caucus, "nearly matching the record of 246,000 set in 2008."

So, here you have a Sanders supporter correctly pointing out that Sanders won in Washington State. Hooray for him. But notice how they shift the methodology to make up for the three million votes cast in Hillary's favor over Bernie. They take population, then they take ALL Democrats registered, and choose a number--in this case, 38%. That means, in Bernie Bot Math, 230,000 Democrats showed up to caucus, about 70% expressed a preference for Bernie, and that means he got 610,000 "votes."

In other words, the roughly 170,000 people who showed up or "voted" for Sanders in the context of the caucus equals a "vote" total of 610,000. By this methodology, every single registered Democrat in every single state can be apportioned thusly for each of the candidates. I'm not even going to bother pointing out that if we used this methodology in New York State, Hillary would have tens of millions of more votes than Bernie.

I mean, how do you even argue with these people anymore?












Abstract 121




Abstract 121 is the start of a new series of abstract paintings for the month of May, 2016.












Bill O'Reilly is Destroying His Literary Brand




Noted historical author Bill O'Reilly--easily the most important historian in American history and far, far better than you could ever be*--has decided to air his dirty laundry in public and chase after money that his ex-wife probably doesn't have:

Bill O’Reilly’s legal battle against his ex-wife Maureen McPhilmy appeared to be over earlier this year when a panel of three appellate justices unanimously granted McPhilmy residential custody of the ex-couple’s two children. According to court documents filed last last month, however, O’Reilly intends to sue McPhilmy for $10 million on charges of misleading him about the terms of their separation agreement. In the same papers, the Fox News host accuses McPhilmy of using the proceeds of their separation to underwrite an affair with another man. And he wants the entire lawsuit to proceed in secret.

O’Reilly has built a formidable media empire around his unique brand of moral authoritarianism, with which he has indulged his audience’s obsession with the moral failings of black families. When it comes to the perceived sins of his own family, O’Reilly is only slightly more circumspect. The Fox host’s lawyers have filed a series of documents alleging that McPhilmy “knowingly made false misrepresentations and material omissions of existing fact to [O’Reilly] ... for the sole purpose of inducing [him] to agree to a consensual divorce and to obtain money and real property to finance an existing extra-marital relationship.”

Can you feel the rage behind this? Can you imagine what it was like for the ambulance chasing lawyer who took this lawsuit? He or she probably had O'Reilly breathing down their neck for months. I wonder if they advised him not to sue. This would make the whole thing go away and it wouldn't give his entire family a chance to reveal massive amounts of evidence that would prove that Bill O'Reilly is a huge Fighting Irish leprechaun come to life with actual fists and ill-fitting pants.

"Hey! Lawyer person! Shut up. Listen to me. Hey! I'm suing my ex-wife and we're going to court now! Is it written up yet? What's wrong with suing her for all the money I had to give her to get away from me? Let's get cracking on this!" And then Bill screams and throws a lamp at the wall and bellows like he just got stabbed with one of those Game of Thrones swords. Only an Irishman knows what I'm talking about.

You can well imagine the scene of old Bill, screaming and pounding things and throwing salt shakers and coffee mugs at scurrying law clerks as the details of the suit were being decided. The guy must be a peach to work for. If this delays the release of his next book, "Killing James Garfield the President Not the Cat You Shithead," it will cause tremors in the celebrity book business.

I think O'Reilly needs a lawyer with guts. I think he needs a friend who maybe served as a merchant marine or a pile driver machine operator who can wrap a big, meaty hand around his neck and explain to him how things work.

O’Reilly continued to meddle with McPhilmy and her new family as their divorce made its way through the court system. A court-appointed therapist testified last year that, when O’Reilly was alone with his and McPhilmy’s teenage daughter, O’Reilly would call his ex-wife an “adulterer,” said his daughter’s step-father was “not a good person,” and claimed that spending any time with McPhilmy and her new husband would “ruin her life.” The same therapist told the justice overseeing the ex-couple’s custody battle that O’Reilly and McPhilmy’s daughter witnessed her father drag her mother down a staircase by the neck.

See, the only thing O'Reilly understands is when someone's getting their neck worked on in a fit of rage. An inescapable truth has evaded this poor man, genius that he is. When your wife is done with you, she's done with you. Suing her for finding happiness with someone else is, well, a huge dick move. No amount of throwing a tantrum in public can change the fact that everyone in his life seems happier and more well-adjusted when they hide behind the furniture and turn off the lights when he shows up for visitation. Family values in action, hellz to the yeah.

The damage being done to O'Reilly's literary ambitions is staggering, though. Once people figure out that he's a perpetual rage machine, he may well end up being merely the Norman Mailer of his generation. That's a tough break for a guy who, for all intents and purposes, is probably the most bestest and greatest of all writers forever and ever, Amen.

*Good God, satire is dead, isn't it? If I had access to an audio track that would play as people read this, it would be a recording of a shot glass full of cheap whiskey being thrown through a plate-glass window, over and over again.

Todd Starnes is a Lying Turd




I mean, not that you didn't already know it, but Todd Starnes lies like a rug:

Jerry Boykin is the kind of man you’d want teaching your sons – a good and decent man, an honorable man – a Christian man.

For the past nine years the retired lieutenant general has taught leadership and ethics at Hampden-Sydney College, a highly regarded, all-male school based in Virginia. By many accounts – he is beloved and deeply respected by students.

But Gen. Boykin will not be returning to the classroom this fall. That’s because he tells me he's been fired.

The man who was one of the original members of Delta Force and once commanded all of the U.S. Army’s Green Berets – the man who served his nation with honor and distinction for more than 36 years – was ousted because of political correctness.

Nope. Not even close:

In 2003, President Bush publicly distanced himself from Boykin when it was revealed that he had made anti-Islamic statements and cast the “War on Terror” as a religious conflict while giving speeches at churches in full dress uniform, a violation of regulations. Since his retirement from the military in 2007, Boykin has involved himself fully as a Christian far-right activist and anti-Muslim propagandist. He is currently executive vice president of the Family Research Council, which is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

And, just so you know where he stands on the issues:

“One of the most disgusting things I hear is for people to call Hitler the extreme right. The absolute opposite was true. It was the National Socialist Party. He was an extraordinarily off the scale leftist. But many Jews in America, for example, can’t identify with the Republican Party because they’re called the party of the right, and they equate that to Hitler when in fact nothing could be further from the truth.”
–April 2011 video for Rick Joyner’s Oak Initiative

“The continent of Europe is dark, it is hopelessly lost and it’s going to get worse. Every expert will tell you that by the middle of this century the continent of Europe will be an Islamic continent, and they can’t reverse it, they can’t stop it. It is because they took Jesus out of their societies and it’s been replaced by darkness.”
–Address to Family Research Council’s Watchmen on the Wall conference, May 2012

“So we love the Muslim people but we have to be very careful to understand that Islam — in a pure sense and an authoritative sense — Islam is evil. Islam is an evil concept because it does call for innocent blood. It calls for the subjugation of women, it calls for brutality that is alien to us as Christians. So we do love the Muslim people, but the Bible also speaks of a time when men will call good evil and evil good, and we have to be sure that we are in fact calling Islam what it is, and in reality, it’s evil.”
–Speaking with Rick Joyner and self-proclaimed ex-terrorist Kamal Saleem, Feb. 27, 2012

“We are at war. And I think that until Americans are willing to find out what Islam is and to find out the truth about what the Muslim Brotherhood is doing in our country, we’re going to continue to live in darkness.”
– 2011, speaking to James Dobson on his radio program

“There is a cabal, a group of very nefarious people, who very much want to create a global government. In order to create a global government, you essentially have to make everybody the same, so there’s not a superpower. Inside America, the foundations of that are the billions of dollars of a guy named George Soros, who has been, really for the last four or five decades, working very hard to bring us to a point where he can make us — lead us into a Marxist government. But there is an entity within the Council of Foreign Relations that is very much focused on global governments — one world government.”
—Answering questions at the Oak Initiative Summit, 2011

“[Islam] should not be protected under the First Amendment, particularly given that those following the dictates of the Quran are under an obligation to destroy our Constitution and replace it with sharia law.”
—Video for Rick Joyner’s Oak Initiative, 2010

Sweet guy. The very idea that he's being denied something because of political correctness is a false narrative. The guy is being kicked to the curb because he is an unrepentant bigot.

UPDATE: Despite years and years of making bigoted statements in public, Boykin has been rehired.








Comedians Have to Apologize For Everything Now




Maria Bamford's new show Lady Dynamite is getting a lot of write-ups on the websites that contain information that I sometimes use while blogging:

Conventional wisdom would have it that crippling mental illness isn't a good subject for a sitcom. But there's nothing conventional about Maria Bamford's brand of comedy. Fans of her stand-up and such through-the-rabbit hole projects like 2012's Maria Bamford: The Special Special Special—  in which the 45-year-old comedian performs a taped set for just her parents in their living room — know that she isn't afraid to tap into very dark, very personal places in her work. So when Bamford announced she was developing a sitcom for Netflix that would touch on her career struggles in Hollywood and stints in psychiatric hospitals to treat a bipolar disorder, you expected something different. And Lady Dynamite, which toggles between our heroine trying to land acting gigs in Hollywood and her time in a mental hospital in her real-life hometown of Duluth, Minnesota (and premieres in full tomorrow night on the streaming service), could not be a better introduction to her ability to slide between sunny absurdity and depressive reality in a blink.

It sounds like a great show in the making, and I'll definitely watch it. But I hate Rolling Stone and I am sorry I linked to them. At the end of the article, poor Maria has to get her apologies in early:

"I had wanted to go very dark for the dark moments. Just, you know, minutes of silence passing. That's how it truly is — these unbearable moments. But who knows if that makes for good television," she says with a laugh. "I mean, people die from illnesses like these. I was a little worried about that, so I hope it turned out to be respectful as well [as funny]. And if it isn't, I apologize, I apologize, I apologize. I apologize right up front for everything I've done and will do."

The truly daunting thing that comedians do nowadays is tell jokes and try to get shows on the air. No one has a sense of humor about anything anymore. The Internet amplifies the voices of people who are outraged. I'm fine with all of that--I run my own website so I can't ban myself and I can't stop showing up for work, so there's that. The real problem is when someone organizes a boycott of everything you say or do--that's not fun. It's almost better to be ignored and have no one read what you're writing, but I have no opinions about that.












The Machine Stops




As a relatively young man in 1909, E. M. Forster imagined pretty much how humans would live in the 21st Century.

The futuristic world portrayed in The Machine Stops is an eerily familiar one - people mostly communicate with each other via screens, the rarity of face-to-face interaction has rendered it awkward, and knowledge and ideas are only shared by a system that links every home.

Yet that world was imagined not by a contemporary writer but by the Edwardian author Edward Morgan Forster.

Best known for his novels about class and hypocrisy - Howards End, A Room With A View and A Passage To India - The Machine Stops was Forster's only foray into science fiction.

Published in 1909, it tells the story of a mother and son - Vashti and Kuno - who live in a post-apocalyptic world where people live individually in underground pods, described as being "like the cell of a bee", and have their needs provided for by the all-encompassing Machine.

It is a world where travel is rare, inhabitants communicate via video screens, and people have become so reliant on the Machine that they have begun to worship it as a living entity.

Now, aside from the fact that we haven't had an apocalypse and that we don't live in underground pods, Forster got a lot of things right. We are replacing our various Gods on a regular basis. We are emerging from centuries of class warfare and strife. And we are talking to one another through screens instead of face to face. Sounds pretty accurate to me.












Kevin Smith Might Reboot Buckaroo Banzai




Oh, my:

The cinema of the 1980s produced a lot of ambitiously strange genre fiction, but only one movie of that era (or any era) starred a particle physicist who's also a race car driver, rock star, and neurosurgeon: W.D. Richter's 1984 B-movie masterwork The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. It's a beloved-but-obscure cult hit, but it might be getting a high-profile reboot if Kevin Smith has his way. The writer, director, and podcaster told listeners of his Hollywood Babble-On podcast that he and MGM are developing a TV version of the story.

It apparently stemmed from Smith's recent turn directing an episode of the CW's The Flash. "Doin' that has opened up weird doors," Smith said in the podcast. "MGM said, 'Hey, we hear that you like Buckaroo Banzai.' ... So they called my agent and they were like, 'We think we'd like to talk to him about — y'know, we did — with Fargo, we took Fargo and turned it into a TV show and it's won awards and shit.' They were like, 'We have another property that we wanna do that with, and we were wondering if he's interested and has ever heard of Buckaroo Banzai.'"

He said he was interested, it having been a childhood favorite of his, and now he and MGM are apparently about to "take it out and try to find a home for it." Smith wants it to include the original cast — which featured Peter Weller, John Lithgow, Christopher Lloyd, and a young Jeff Goldblum — as villains, and wants the first season to reinterpret the plot of the movie before a second season that would go in a new direction. For those who disdain the idea of Smith helming this project, just remember the words of Buckaroo: "Don't be mean. We don't have to be mean. 'Cause remember: No matter where you go, there you are."

There's only one way to go with this--no self-referential bullshit. This is material that cannot be aware of itself. It has to be done straight and it has to take itself way too seriously. Anything else--anything coy, sly, satirical or winking at the audience through a busted-down fourth wall--and you've ruined it.












MTV Never Had a Clue About Anything Important




The idea that MTV had an understanding of American musical culture or the arts in general is laughable. You only had to live through the 1980s to know this:

With the benefit of hindsight, 1991 was a watershed year for rock music. That was the year of Pearl Jam’s Ten and Nirvana’s Nevermind. A documentary released in 1992 even referred to it as The Year Punk Broke. The alternative revolution was just entering its golden age, as evidenced by the popularity of the inaugural Lollapalooza. But MTV’s Kurt Loder and Tabitha Soren did not have the benefit of hindsight when they made a recap special called The Year In Rock: 1991, a long-forgotten program that has resurfaced, thanks to Reddit. What did Loder and Soren see when they looked back over the previous 12 months? “A pretty bad year” of slumping album sales and half-empty concert tours. Pearl Jam is not mentioned in the special, and Nirvana is relegated to a spotlight on new artists, alongside Color Me Badd and Marky Mark. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is briefly used to accompany a segment about the Persian Gulf War.

Because MTV was situated in the Northeast of the United States, everything that it did was based on pressure from record companies. American music has always had a regional flavor, and that was ignored by the cultural elites based in New York City. If a certain label wanted an artist to break, they would put heavy pressure on MTV to play their video and on New York based publications to provide positive coverage. This could also mean gaining favorable coverage through what was loosely termed "MTV News" by making the artist available for exclusive material. If you deliver content, you can demand that it gets airtime. And if you were in the business of keeping these people happy, why wouldn't you look up the sales information and run with that? There was no alternative back then--you took what the labels handed you and you dealt with it. Now, you can tell them to fuck off. 

Remember when Pidlar made a video with Nick Offerman? That's a video you would never have seen on MTV in the 1990s. Good God, they were so prudish it was a wonder anything made it onto the air.

I am so glad I ignored MTV for all of those years. It's always a shock for me to go and find the "official" video for songs from the 1980s and 1990s that I liked; I never had a chance to see any of that stuff because I couldn't be bothered to engage "music television" at all. And, yes, MTV's 120 Minutes was a joke then and it's a joke now.












Run It By Patti Davis First




Here's a little something else about that movie about Ronald Reagan that is not going to get made:

 McKay found himself in the middle of a truly bizarre nontroversy recently when the Gary Sanchez-produced Reagan, a film project rumored to star Will Ferrell as the late Republican commander-in-chief as he struggles with the effects of Alzheimer’s during his second term, came under heavy fire from conservatives—including members of Reagan’s own family—for allegedly mocking the oft-heralded politician. 

The problem? Nobody really knew if the film was going to mock Reagan for his illness. Outlets simply saw Ferrell as a rumored candidate for the role and their imaginations ran amok. 

“I’ve never been that close to a story like that where so little information became such a tidal wave. It was really crazy to behold,” says McKay. “People hadn’t even read the script, it was just three words: ‘Reagan, Ferrell, Alzheimer’s,’ and it became this huge thing. Finally, The Hollywood Reporter wrote a piece where they actually read the script and thought it was a really thoughtful script and tender towards Reagan, but yeah, it’s this culture we live in. It’s all about clicks, clicks, clicks, and hits, hits, hits.” 

“I kept saying when that story snowballed, ‘Is there anyone who really thinks Will Ferrell would make a comedy about a horrible disease like Alzheimer’s?’ In a million years no one would do that!” he continues. “You’d have people on the left and right coming after you. I think it’s more about the deification of Ronald Reagan, where you can’t go near the subject of Ronald Reagan. Remember all the brouhaha over that Reagan miniseries? That miniseries was so soft, but nobody wants to hear anything near the reality of Reagan’s eight years as president.” 

Now, no one should try to advise Adam McKay or Will Ferrell about which movies they should make when, clearly, this should have been a Russell Brand and Sacha Baron Cohen buddy flick all along. Whoever owns the rights to this story  should have submitted the idea and the script to Patti Davis first. That way, she could have taken some points on the back end and given you the green light. 

Patti Davis made a very astute and public relations-savvy condemnation appear to be wholly sympathetic when she denounced the project, which, as others have pointed out, is sympathetic and sensitive to the topic of Alzheimer's while telling a very compelling story. The fact that it involved Reagan and a period of time when he was carrying a gun around in a briefcase and had access to the nation's nuclear codes is something no one polite should ever bring up, okay?

From now on, anyone who references the fact that Reagan spent several years as president while suffering from Alzheimer's needs to go see Patti beforehand. Historians, you have been warned.








Wal-Mart Needs to Pay




This is the kind of reporting that gets to the heart of what it costs a community to support the Wal-Mart chain:

Law enforcement logged nearly 16,800 calls in one year to Walmarts in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties, according to a Tampa Bay Timesanalysis. That’s two calls an hour, every hour, every day.

Local Walmarts, on average, generated four times as many calls as nearby Targets, the Times found. Many individual supercenters attracted more calls than the much larger WestShore Plaza mall.

When it comes to calling the cops, Walmart is such an outlier compared with its competitors that experts criticized the corporate giant for shifting too much of its security burden onto taxpayers. Several local law enforcement officers also emphasized that all the hours spent at Walmart cut into how often they can patrol other neighborhoods and prevent other crimes.

“They’re a huge problem in terms of the amount of time that’s spent there,” said Tampa police Officer James Smith, who specializes in retail crime. “We are, as a department, at the mercy of what they want to do.”

The Times reviewed thousands of records and interviewed dozens of officers and experts to provide an unprecedented look at the impact 53 Walmarts had on local policing.

Among the findings:



Sheriff’s deputies in Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties were called to individual Walmart stores more than to any other location — by far. The same went for police in Largo, Pinellas Park, Tarpon Springs, Dade City, Plant City, Brooksville and Port Richey. For authorities in Pinellas and St. Petersburg, Walmarts were the second busiest locations.

Officers logged fewer than 500 calls for violence, drugs or weapons. They took roughly another 7,000 calls for potential thefts. An even bigger category was general disorder, everything from suspected trespassing to parking violations, lost property and people sleeping outside stores. Those roughly 9,000 calls consumed hundreds of hours of officers’ time, but resulted in just a few hundred arrests.

Many businesses paid a lot more in property taxes than the local Walmart but were much less of a burden on police. The Tyrone Square Mall in St. Petersburg, for instance, paid nearly four times as much in taxes as three nearby supercenters combined. Still, the mall attracted fewer police calls.

Officers know Walmart is such a regular trouble spot that they routinely show up without being called.They simply hover around stores and parking lots to avert further issues, providing even more taxpayer-funded crime prevention. The Times found 6,200 of these unsolicited visits on top of the 16,800 other calls.



Walmart stores, with heavy foot traffic and cavernous layouts, are natural targets for shoplifters, panhandlers and other opportunists. Many are located in disadvantaged areas prone to more trouble. The retailer knows all of that, experts said, but doesn’t do enough to address the problems, despite ample resources. Walmart, they said, lays out its stores in a way that invites trouble and often doesn’t have enough uniformed employees to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Wal-Mart has a business model that expects the government to subsidize their part-time employees for health care costs and for basic needs. They do this by paying people low wages (food stamps, welfare benefits) and by denying them health care benefits. And now we know that store security, which should be paid for by the company itself, is completely outsourced to local law enforcement.

Private security guards could pick up the slack and give cops a break. Think they'll agree to do that? Well, unless there's some sort of legislation, or unless there's a per-visit charge from the police after a certain threshold is reached, I highly doubt it.








Minnie Driver and Basic Problem Solving

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="670.0"] 2.465 million gets you a three bedroom rancher next to a crazy dude in the Hollywood Hills... 2.465 million gets you a three bedroom rancher next to a crazy dude in the Hollywood Hills... [/caption]


Does any of this sound like rational behavior?

Actress Minnie Driver is not happy with her neighbor's construction and she's trying to stop it from happening with an arsenal of baby food jars filled with black paint.

A new lawsuit obtained by TMZ claims that Driver, 46, is throwing the paint-filled jars at her neighbor Daniel Perelmutter's walls.






Perelmutter — who recently had a heart transplant — is asking the court to remove an electronic gate the two share as Driver has cut off his access.

He also states in the suit that the "Good Will Hunting" actress will block construction workers for up to 8 hours at a time.

This isn't the first time the two have sparred in the Hollywood Hills.

Just last week, Driver and Perelmutter, 74, were screaming so loudly at each other that cops had to intervene.

In 2015, the English-born actress claimed that her neighbor told her to "f--k off and die" on several occasions in her driveway. She even got a restraining order against Perelmutter at the time.

However, Perelmutter claimed that Driver was trying to run him down with her car as the two have been involved in an ongoing land dispute.

Anybody can snap and anybody can get involved in a desperately destructive confrontation with their neighbor. What I don't understand is, how can something like this get so far out of control without involving mediation or negotiations of some kind? Construction projects in a residential area are two things--inconvenient at times but temporary if handled properly. Do you know what you can do to solve this problem? Develop the ability to visualize your property when it looks normal again and ignore what's happening. That's basic problem solving 101. And if you can't do that, lose your mind, I guess.

Ever lived in a house where vinyl siding is being installed in the dead of winter? Check. Ever lived in a house while a brand new home is being built next door and it takes nine months instead of three? Yep. And have you ever lived in a place where the little neighbor kids don't speak any English but decide to throw rocks at your house because you're an American? We have a winner. I've been through all three in the last five years and, yeah, I wanted to snap and start throwing baby jars full of black paint. That was my go-to option right from the start. But, somehow, I got through it. And by that I mean, I resorted to whipping hot pennies and spraying bleach out of a power washer.

I don't know what Miss Driver is going through, but it sounds cray-cray and she should have temporary high fences or golf course safety screens installed until her neighbor is done screwing everything up.








Hello, World!

Fort McMurray

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="940.0"]   Scott Olson/Getty Images   Scott Olson/Getty Images [/caption]


If this is any indication of how devastating it is going to be for people in Fort McMurray, Alberta to return to their homes, I can only imagine how hard life is going to be in the months ahead. 

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley warns "dramatic images" emerging from Fort McMurray, Alta., may upset evacuees as she and Wood Buffalo Mayor Melissa Blake get their first look at wildfire damage during their tour today.

Fire Chief Darby Allen, as well as a limited number of media personnel, will accompany Notley and Blake on the tour.

The group will be escorted by RCMP and emergency vehicles. A news conference at the regional operations centre will come afterwards.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley became emotional Sunday when talking about the two young people who were killed in a vehicle crash while trying to leave Fort McMurray. (CBC )

Notley warned the stories that result from that tour could upset some evacuees.

"There will be some dramatic images coming from media over the next couple of days," Notley said at a news conference Sunday. "I want to reiterate mental health supports are available for anyone who needs help."

Trigger warnng!

The offer of providing mental health professionals sounds uniquely Canadian to me, and makes total sense. Here in America, we give you a blanket, a cup of water, maybe a trailer, and we move on. How many people were offered mental health counseling after Hurricane Sandy or whichever disaster? I don't remember reading about that, but here is an academic paper about the aftermath:

OBJECTIVE:

To evaluate mental health outcomes among New Jersey shore residents with health impairments and disabilities after Hurricane Sandy.

DESIGN AND SETTING:

Six months following Hurricane Sandy, a cross-sectional survey of 200 adults residing in beach communities directly exposed to the storm located in Monmouth County, NJ, was conducted.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, mental health service use, and medication use.

RESULTS:

The average age of residents surveyed was 59 years (SD = 13.7) and 52.5 percent (95% CI = 45.5-59.4) reported recent hospitalizations, physical limitations, fair to poor health status, multiple chronic health conditions, or physical disabilities. A total of 14.5 percent (95% CI = 10.2-20.1) of residents screened positive for PTSD and 6.0 percent (95% CI = 3.1-10.2) met criteria for depression 6 months after Sandy. In addition, 20.5 percent (95% CI = 15.4-26.7) sought some type of professional counseling after Sandy and 30.5 percent (95% CI = 24.5-37.3) experienced PTSD symptoms, depression, sought professional mental health support, or used psychotropic medications. In multivariate analyses, the best predictors of mental health and service use were having sleep problems, suicidal thoughts, moderate or severe pain, and having high exposure hurricane-related events. Analyses also suggested that noncollege graduates were more likely to receive mental health services (OR = 3.10, p = 0.009), while women were less likely to have depression (OR = 0.12, p = 0.038).

CONCLUSION:

Having physical impairments and health conditions were not directly related to adverse mental health outcomes following Sandy, but having sleep problems, pain, or suicidal thoughts were. Further research is needed to assess the health status of community residents with serious health impairments over time following disasters.

It should be more prominently featured in the coverage of these disasters that receiving mental health assistance is normal and natural. Not everyone has to project the face of resiliency and act all stoic. Many people need help and there's no shame in asking.








There is No Political Message in the New Captain American Movie




I have seen the new Captain American movie (this is the one about the Civil War) and it was a fun movie. I have no idea what this guy is talking about:

Convinced that the American superpower has reaped more bad than good, and thus must be checked by both the government and the U.N., Iron Man—no matter his love of weaponized suits of armor—comes to embody the more self-critical, dove-ish, nanny state-advocating Left. Meanwhile, Cap’s opposition to imperious federal oversight, and his belief that he knows best and should be allowed to act accordingly in whatever international jurisdiction he sees fit, marks him as a figure of the Right—replete with a sidekick, Falcon (Anthony Mackie), who performs both surveillance and tactical strikes with his own personal aerial drone.

The fact that these characters once held opposite positions—Iron Man the armament-loving bad boy free agent (decked out in Republican red), Captain America the dutiful by-the-books soldier (outfitted in Democratic blue)—lends the film some dark irony about the way global conflicts warp deep-rooted convictions. But make no mistake about it: Civil War is the moment at which the Marvel Cinematic Universe most clearly embraces its conservative ethos.

While Iron Man’s attitude seems practical, it’s also ultimately demarcated as wrong. The outside-the-law Captain America is this film’s unqualified hero from the start, when he’s presented as the righteous alternative to Iron Man’s collaborative cowardice. And it’s solidified by its conclusion, when his conspiracy theory hunches are proven correct—thereby proving he’s more trustworthy than Iron Man, Thunderbolt Ross, the U.N., or any other administrative body. Furthermore, Bucky, the friend he’s driven to protect, is a case study in what happens to superbeings when they’re controlled by governments: they’re transformed into murderous, amoral assassin-slaves.

Hey, that's great, but it's a comic book movie. It's not a political movie at all and I can say that because it didn't have Thor in it and he didn't call for parliamentary elections. Nothing about this article even resembles the film, as far as I'm concerned. In fact, there's an actual scarlet witch in the film and she's not really a witch and she does not do any damage whatsoever to witches throughout the world. I thought Elizabeth Olsen was the best thing in this movie, and I think the new Spiderman and Black Panther movies are going to be amazing.

Where I believe the idea of this being a political film goes off the rails is when it fails to take into consideration that we're looking at an alternate reality. None of the situations in our political reality match what's real in this film. For example, in our world, none of these characters, none of the things they have done, and none of the things that have happened exist in our world. Why you would then try to compare the two and say because Bucky so and so says this to that guy it means he has no respect for the new Speaker of the House is just way, way off, man. 

In the analysis above, you could flip Iron Man and Captain America. In point of fact, Iron Man is telling everyone they have to "register" with the government and accept supervision. That's a liberal idea--you have to register yourself as a weapon, meaning your guns, you have to submit to the authority of the government, and you have to accept greater regulation of your activities. The conservative idea would be to resist government supervision, regulation and the invasion of privacy. The conservative would try to come down  on the side of being independent and able to determine what you do and, while that skews libertarian in some ways, it does speak to the emergence of a political divide on many, many issues. So, yeah. The whole article is just way, way off and it just doesn't make any sense.

Daniel Bruhl, who was probably the second best thing in the whole movie, presents a villain who is going to blow your mind at the end of the film. What motivates him runs to the heart of the movie--what do you do when your actions have consequences for people you don't even know?

And if you haven't seen ALL of the Marvel movies up till now, you should not expect to get all of the things going on in this film. If you haven't seen Ant Man, don't see this film until you do. I had no idea what was going on and I felt like a dumbass.








Hello, World!

I Cannot Win Friends or Influence People

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="417.0"]  They seem like such nice chaps and I'm interested in America so what could possibly go wrong?  They seem like such nice chaps and I'm interested in America so what could possibly go wrong? [/caption]


You would think a happy fellow like me could just wander onto some website and start making friends. You would be wrong:

The state of our union can be summed up pretty easily: Democratic policy ideas don’t work, and the Republican Party is melting down. From New York state, where Democratic power brokers are beginning to be herded into prison, where so many of them belong, to Chicago, where a civil war between Democrat-run public unions and the Democratic mayor rages even as the city’s finances fall apart, to the collapsing cities of Detroit and Flint, and on out to the high-speed rail boondoggle in California, the country is covered in the ruins of decades of “progressive” governance. Take Obamacare itself, a “reform” that is already making health care more bureaucratic and less affordable. Even as premiums and deductibles rise and the provider networks shrink, special interests like labor unions, insurance companies and hospital chains seek to rewrite its rules and regulations to achieve windfalls for themselves at the public expense. They will almost certainly succeed, and over time, Obamacare like other programs will become increasingly encrusted by sweetheart deals, carve-outs and other provisions that reduce its positive qualities while making it ever more expensive and bureaucratic.

Inadvertently, I wandered onto a site that would make the John Birch society look like a meeting of the San Francisco Committee on Handing Out Things to the Homeless. Damn, son--why do I keep trying?

"Up until now, at every similar crisis in American history, a wave of religious revival like the colonial-era Great Awakening, the Kentucky Revivals of the early Republic, and a series of successor movements has renewed and refreshed this source of national coherence and strength. Without something like this today, it’s not clear that American culture will continue to support the kind of republic that we’ve come to think of as eternal and unchanging."

So, I said:

This would be the same religious fervor that allowed us to destroy the South and free millions from slavery, right?

Seriously, though--religion is going to cure us of what ails us? Please. What will cure us are more jobs, reducing the deficit, and keeping us out of foreign wars of choice. In other words, another eight years of President Obama. Fools.

And I know I'm not helpful, but you seem like such nice chaps.

All I have to do is shut up and keep moving. And yet, I can't help myself.

MSNBC Sinks to a New Low




MSNBC is no friend to liberals, the liberal agenda, or the American viewing public:

Alex Wagner, the charismatic host of the canceled NOW with Alex Wagner and formerly one of MSNBC’s rising stars, has finally said adieu to the network. It was announced on Tuesday that she had taken a position with The Atlantic. She will now serve as the magazine’s senior editor and will be heavily involved in the company’s video and live events. This will include moderating a panel on Saturday mornings.

This company is actively jettisoning people of color and everyone is mostly okay with that? If ratings counted for anything, Joe Scarborough wouldn't even be on television. Instead, he's the mouthpiece of an organization that might as well continue to have nobody watching. That's a helluva business model. Screw over your employees, screw over the people watching, eliminate diversity, and then wonder where all the money went.








Captain America: Back For More Cash




Can someone explain to me why people who don't live in America got to see Captain America before Americans did? Is that jingoistic bullshit?

The superhero tentpole — embraced by critics — is likewise expected to pull in massive numbers when opening in the U.S. on May 6, the start of the summer box office.

Doing Avengers-like business, Disney and Marvel Studios' Captain America: Civil War opened to a massive $200.2 million at the foreign box office, one of the biggest starts of all time and nearly matching the launch of last year's Avengers: Age of Ultron.

In some individual markets, Civil War came in ahead of Ultron, as it scored the biggest debut of all time for any film in Mexico ($20.6 million), Brazil ($12.3 million) and the Philippines ($7.5 million). All told, Civil War rolled out in about 63 percent of the foreign marketplace this weekend.

This is the third Captain America movie, but it's really the third Avengers movie. Or is this a prequel for the third and fourth Avengers movies? I can't even tell anymore.

Why they didn't make all of these movies about Loki is beyond my limited grasp.