Patterns

“I would have to be crazy not to see the pattern here.” Egyptian official greatly annoyed by the fact that no evidence backs up his assertion that Flight 804 was brought down by a terrorist attack.

Let’s see: a cow started giving sour milk.  A man had strange dreams that caused disturbing night-time emissions.  The moon looked funny.   A baby died.  I would have to be crazy not to see the pattern here: witchcraft!

A man starts shooting people in Munich.  Another terror attack by a jihadist infiltrating the waves of immigrants from the Middle East!  Keep them out!   Except that it appears to be just another disturbed man with a gun.

Every year, many police are killed in the line of duty.  But in the past month, the news treats every shooting as if it is retaliation for all the black people that have died at the hands of the police in the last few years.

 

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Ortiz’s Fantastical Year

It’s a shame, but I just don’t believe in David Ortiz’s 2016 stats.

He has 24 home runs, batting .326, with a .665 slugging percentage, half-way through the season.   He is 40 years old, 6′ 3″, 230 pounds.

Do you really think it’s possible?  Here:

Williams had one of the best final seasons in MLB history. He hit .316 with a .451 on-base percentage and .645 slugging percentage, with 72 RBIs to go along with those 29 home runs.

What magical thing is he doing that nobody in the history of baseball, or athletics,– except Barry Bonds, who cheated, of course– has ever done? Have a near career-best year at the age of 40, when almost everyone declines steadily from 28 on? The real shame of it is that if he really is as amazing as his numbers appear to be, people like me will never have the opportunity to really appreciate it. It would be awesome to behold, if we could really believe in it.

It’s the same with the Olympics: in those really, really annoying CBC radio ads, the announcer goes crazy– “a new!! world!!!  record!!! in the 200 meters!!!” Who cares? We know exactly why there have been so many new world records in the last few decades.  Why are you all excited?  Are you stupid or what?

Ortiz’s defensiveness in full flower.

It is striking to me how often, in his statements on the issue, he angrily insists not that he would never cheat, but that he has never been caught. They test me all the time and I have never been caught. Why would you think I cheat when I have never been caught? Surely you don’t think I could get away with it nowadays? And that one time I was caught, it was an accident.

There is not a trace of sadness, which I would expect, from an honest athlete who realizes that he can never entirely escape suspicion about his greatest accomplishments because other players have been caught– indisputably– cheating.  This is the paradox of modern sports.  Have a mediocre performance and you’re mediocre.  Have an extraordinary performance and you must have cheated.  Give a really, really amazing performance, and obviously, you cheated.

He also takes on those who accuse him of showboating and egotism– which is, essentially, what people mean by the criticism of batters who admire their home runs–  by arguing that he’s having fun, he used to be poor, now he’s rich, so what’s wrong with having fun– which has nothing to do with the issue.  I don’t care how many people do it– even if they are on my home team– I find it repellent when players admire their own home runs.  It’s like laughing at your own joke, or watching yourself in the mirror at a party to see how good you look, or arranging for yourself to receive honors and tributes as a politician, or making your predecessor a saint.  You’re not that great.  Really, you’re not.  It’s unfortunate that we live in a culture that can’t help but wet themselves over every little athletic achievement, but that doesn’t change the fact that, really, you’re not all that great.

There are handful of players who are great and have great performances.  Their achievements are diminished when assholes like you start strutting around the base paths as if you are godlike.

Ortiz’s stats for his 40th year are really, really amazing.  And they are unbelievable.   And I am the saddest about the fact that if they were real, I have missed out on the pleasure of watching a truly extraordinary performance.

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President Trump

There will not be a President Trump.

An over-all majority of Republican primary voters have nominated a buffoon.  That doesn’t mean a majority of all American voting-age citizens would vote for one, even if the competition is an unappealing dishonest failed former Secretary of State.

Clinton may not warm the hearts of American voters but she will strike most reasonable people as reasonably competent, and a lot of ill-informed or foolish voters will lick their fingers and figure out which direction the wind is blowing and vote for the least scary candidate.  When you add those numbers to the minorities who will vote for Clinton in very high numbers– they actually like her!– the idea of Trump assembling a coalition that can win states with a majority of electoral votes is almost impossible to imagine.  Sure, Trump will win Texas and Missouri and Tennessee and Kentucky and South Carolina and probably Indiana, and bunch of other solidly red states.   But Clinton will win California and New York and Illinois and Iowa and other solidly blue states.  And of the states in between, Trump will have to win a huge majority of them to take the electoral college, while Clinton only has to win a few.

President Clinton.  It’s really not that scary a prospect.  The goal of both Clintons has always been power itself– not money or personal advantage or ethnic dominance or fear.  Just power.  And not power in the raw sense, of power for powers’ sake: I think they probably really do like governing and enacting policies and having some success with them and dodging accountability for the failures.  Why not?  It’s fun and gratifying.  But, sure, they love power.

The advantage of this is that they will do what it takes to stay in power even if that involves occasionally making good choices, like raising the minimum wage and reducing college tuition for needy students, or bad choices like “ending welfare as we know it” or invading Iraq.

I refuse to believe that most American voters, watching the buffoon debate the competent but ethically challenged Clinton, will choose a man who doesn’t even understand how treaties work, and only barely understands the difference between policy and legislation, or the judiciary and Congress.

As several commentators have already pointed out, Obama is going to look like your ex when you begin to realize the mistake you made in splitting up.

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Free Enterprise for You Losers

Congress has introduced a bill which will remove certain provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act from application to minor league ball players.  Are you kidding me?

You might ask yourself, if you are a patriotic, law-abiding, constitution-loving American citizen, why is the government rigging the system in favor of the owners of baseball teams?

If you haven’t stopped laughing yet, let’s put the words out there: because they asked them to.  And it has nothing whatsoever to do with donations or lobbyists or anything of the sort.  No, the “Save America’s Pastimes Act”– I am not making this up! — is all about preserving part of our national character, and providing fun for the whole family.

Of course it’s a sop to owners!  Of course the purpose is to increase profits for owners and reduce earnings for players!  Of course it’s an expansion of the rights and privileges of the ownership class at the expense of labour.

And why shouldn’t the government step in to ensure that gullible young men who honestly believe they will win the lottery some day and play in the major leagues (90 % of them won’t) can be exploited by billionaire team owners who already get taxpayer subsidized stadiums from equally gullible tax-payers?  Why shouldn’t they have a hand in the exploitation of young athletes who would do anything for a chance at a professional career?

The moral objection to taking taxpayers money for personal gain only applies to poor people mainly because they lack the vocabulary.  Instead of saying, I need some money to feed my kids and pay my rent because I’m broke and I don’t have a job, you must learn to say, “I wish to invest in the future of our nation and lay the groundwork for a thriving culture of aspiration so that our young people can fulfill their dreams.”

And here is $10,000 for your re-election campaign.  And we’ll call it the “Save America’s Pastimes Act”.

If one of your representatives supported this bill, I hope you vote against him in the next election, if only for this reason: the astounding cynicism of the title of the bill.

 

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And Stared Intensely into her Eyes

This is the content of a real case of “sexual harassment” at an American University.  The “victim” of this egregious behavior is waiting for the professor, Wentworth, to be punished.  Here it is:

Hemenway tried to minimize contact with Wentworth after a meeting on 17 February 2015 that she said was particularly upsetting. According to the complaint, the professor repeatedly called her “honey” and “honey bear” and put his hands on hers while complimenting her and staring intensely into her eyes.  [The Guardian 2016-05-27]

The professor also told her that he would never start a relationship with her because she was a student of his.   Young girls, you know, are too…. what?  I don’t know.  Too something to be allowed to choose to have a relationship with an older male.

It is not the law in most jurisdictions.  The law thinks young women can be trusted to exercise their own responsible judgement in these matters.  These young feminist activists do not trust these women.

Anyway, he said, once she graduated, he might be interested in seeing her.  He told her she was attractive.  He complained that some other students had accused him of harassment. Yes, there are other complaints against this professor.  One wonders if they are of a similar nature.  He said I was pretty.  He said he liked me.  He said I was attractive.

Hemenway has succeeded in rousing an outcry: he must be punished.

Here’s an outcry:  is it hard to say, “you’re behaviour is inappropriate and I don’t like it”.  And if he continues: “if you don’t stop I will file a complaint with the University Administration”.  I gather from the gist of the reporting on this issue that Ms. Hemenway felt that she should not have to say anything.  She reports no instances of her telling the professor to bug off.  Would old-school feminists like to admit that she was too weak and helpless and unable to actually rouse a personality in that situation?

Professor Wentworth, apparently, should have known that she felt weak and helpless and utterly incapable of functioning as a student when confronted with such terrifying behaviour. I would be curious to hear Ms. Hemenway’s answer to the question: if women are the equal of men, why are you so weak when confronted with such ridiculously inept and tediously inappropriate behaviors?  You really can’t stand up to it?  You really don’t have enough courage or intelligence to put a stop to it?  Your emotional being is so limp and incapable that you can’t find the words?  How on earth will you ever get along in the world?  How will you ever make tough decisions in the future?

If you are working for some business and negotiating a contract with someone and the person you are negotiating with changes the terms while you are not looking, will you just sign it?  If you are organizing a sporting event and a disqualified runner insists you let him race, will you say nothing and register him and then complain bitterly that he oppressed you?  If you were clerking in an apparel outlet and someone took two outfits into a change room and came out with one, would you say nothing?

Do you see yourself as having potential?  Do you feel that you would be a good employee for a successful company and able to make consequential decisions that affect people’s lives?  Would you ever be able to stand up for someone else, let along yourself, in a similar situation?  Can you envision a future in which you get your way not by being a victim and demanding that other people step in your behalf  and destroy someone’s career because you were horrified by the idea that he liked you, but by standing up for yourself?

Did you pose for that picture in the Guardian, with that expression that appears to be intended to evoke pity?  Do you really want to be pitied?  Do you want to be known for elaborating on just how weak and vulnerable and helpless you are?

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The Feminist Crucible

In this review, J. Kelly Nestruck in the Globe and Mail argues that Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” is outdated and irrelevant.  It is a bad play now that the communist “witch hunts” of the 1950′s are stale memories.

Tennessee Williams is all right.  He is relevant and vital because he cares more about gay characters:

But while Williams’s focus on gay and female characters had become increasingly valued, Miller had begun to feel like a dated moralist, stuck in a postwar sensibility, focusing on white, heteronormative nuclear families and obsessive about the paterfamilias.

This, the compliment to Williams, about a dramatist most famous for a play about a pathetic young woman who invests everything– all of her emotions, her hopes, her dreams– into an inept courtship of an ineligible young man, and is shattered when he doesn’t deliver and make her life meaningful.   That is more modern?  That is more “valued”?

Well, she doesn’t say who now values Tennessee Williams more than Arthur Miller.  For good reason, I think.  Most people today would find Williams a crashing bore, while Miller retains a good deal of vitality.

It gets worse.  You see “The Crucible”, according to Nestruck,  made it seem as if the young girls who accused various citizens of Salem, Massachusetts of being witches were wrong in some way.  It made it appear as though they coordinated their stories.  It made it appear as if they were not actually suffering physical symptoms from the witchcraft they alleged– they were hysterical.  It made it appears that they might be lying, beginning with Abigail Williams, who had an affair with Proctor and bitterly resented being expelled from the household by Elizabeth Proctor.

So, given a more modern sensibility, we need to admit that the girls were actually telling the truth.

That damn John Procter: he blamed the victims.

I don’t casually use the word “chilling” to describe commentary on social issues, but this one deserves it.   Nestruck clearly implies that the girls in “The Crucible” should have been believed.  Because girls never lie?  She makes reference to Jian Ghomeshi and Bill Cosby, as if Ghomeshi’s trial had not revealed that, yes, after all, women do sometimes lie.  They lied to the police and they lied to the Crown Attorney and they lied in court to the judge.   Did none of this matter to Newstruck?  Does she believe that facts and proof must give way to emotional belief?  Was it all, perhaps, witchcraft?  In the context of “The Crucible”, she suggests that the core of the accusations of witchcraft might have been true.  That is insane.  It is contrary to everything rational we know about the world, to science, and reason, and principles of justice.

The most remarkable thing about “The Crucible” is what Nestruck hates the most about it: it reveals precisely the narcissistic root of the kind of lies the girls tell, the embrace of victimization because of the sudden power it gives you over individuals who would never otherwise defer to your status, and the insanity of blindly believing “victims” because to question or challenge them is “re-victimization”, one of the most pernicious ideas I have ever heard because it insists that everything an accuser says is automatically to be believed.  It is exactly like “The Crucible” in that anyone who dares to raise suspicions about the honesty or truthfulness of the accusers is then suspected and accused of the same evil.

It is absolutely “guilty unless proven innocent”.

Nestruck suggests that “The Crucible” is less relevant today because, after all, it was really about the McCarthy Communist witch hunt, not about Salem.  But that is exactly wrong: “The Crucible” is powerful precisely because it is not just about McCarthy or Salem; it is about fear and hysteria and delusion, and the consequences to society when it buys in to the delusion.  It is just as relevant today as it was in the 1950′s, if not more so, and it was powerfully relevant in the 1980′s with the Satanic Ritual Abuse hysteria where, once again, the system was asked to look the other way when accusations made no sense, contradicted themselves, or spread like a virus among impressionable children.

And now, a woman on the CBC declares that we must find a new way to try men who abuse women because Ghomeshi was obviously guilty.

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Good Riddance

When Heidi Cruz is first lady, he pledged, “French fries are coming back to the cafeteria.”   NY Times, 2016-05-04

So said Ted Cruz before the love died and he was cast out of the 2016 Republican Presidential Nomination.

This is kind of a mind-blowing thing for a responsible, serious, Christian, politician to say: elect me and I will let your kids eat as much junk food as they want.  It’s one thing to say, “elect me, and I will ensure that parents have the final word on what their children eat at school”, or “elect me and we’ll leave nutrition up to corporate food vendors instead of the government” (which is, more or less, what he said), but to openly trumpet the fact that he doesn’t give a damn about what our children eat at school is truly mind-blowing.

Trump is a buffoon, of course, but I preferred him over Cruz– or even Paul Ryan– right from the start.  Trump would probably say, why should I care what your children eat at school– it’s up to them.  But Cruz would force them to eat their french fries just to spite those liberal intellectuals who you just know think they are smarter than him.  And he would ban healthy foods in order to free our children from the oppression of nutrition experts, pediatricians, and scientists, who are all obviously out there to promote their gay agenda.

The gayest looking candidate of all can’t have that.

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The Over-Rated George Martin

I’ve always been puzzled by the legend of George Martin’s contribution to the Beatles’ success.

I had never doubted it….  until he produced the soundtrack for “Sgt Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band”, the movie.  The soundtrack was not merely awful.  It was pure and unadulterated dreck.  It was so bad that I could not help but begin to wonder if his contribution to the Beatles had been exaggerated in some way.  It is very, very hard to imagine that the same mind that produced the segments with Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees and Aerosmith on the soundtrack also helped shape “Eleanor Rigby” or “Girl” or “Penny Lane”.

Was it all a misunderstanding?  Maybe people underestimated Lennon and McCartney’s shares of the credit.

After the Sgt. Peppers’ debacle, he also produced Neil Sedaka, Cheap Trick, Little River Band, and even Celine Dion, all with notably unremarkable results.  If George Martin was the musical genius everyone says he is, surely he would have had some great results with some other bands.  He really did not.

So tell me again, who was responsible for the Beatles’ success?  How about the Beatles.

And was it because they practiced for 10,000 hours, as Malcolm Gladwell would have it?  No, it was because they were talented.  And they practiced.

 

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Terror Terror Terror!

The CBC loves the word “terror”.  If a squirrel gets run over by a car, the CBC correctly points out that it was not a terror attack.  However, the police are still investigating.  The squirrel may have been wearing a turban.

Today, a man– who appears, at first glance, to be mentally disturbed– attacked some soldiers at a recruiting center.  Almost all of the media outlets incorporate the word “terror” into their news coverage even though there is no evidence, as of yet, of any links to any terrorist organizations.

A man attacks military personnel with a knife and is arrested and no one dies.  Such a Canadian crime story.  In my opinion, the attempts to link or unlink the incident to “terrorism”– a word the all of the media loves– is confusing to me.  What is the point?  Is it less awful if it’s not “terror-related”?  Is it more awful because he is Islamic?  Do the people who feel the urge to label it as terrorism feel that other people don’t understand how awful the attack was if they don’t?  Is it all just politics?  How many similar incidents involving people being attacked and harmed by someone disturbed or not receive similar coverage?

Well, we know why.  If you are scanning radio stations looking for something to listen to you don’t stop at the thoughtful explanation of how the financial crisis unfolded and why millions of people lost their retirement savings.  No, you stop at the word “terror”.

Even if the CBC and CTV correctly report that the man has no links to any terrorist organizations, the trumpeting of the word itself serves to inflame and provoke, to keep the public mindful of this terrible threat roaming our world just waiting to strike out us!

Yes, let the government into my iPhone!

No– that’s not what those people want.  They want the government to be let into YOUR iPhone.

You’re welcome.

 

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CBC Wants us all to Grow Up

And stop appreciating real talent.

Here’s the argument: Beyonce can sing really, really good.  So when she performs at Obama’s second inauguration, she decides to not take a chance on not sounding good and goes with the lip-synched version of the national anthem.

Wow, she thinks.  I nailed it.  Woohoo, look at me!  Look at the lavish praise pour in for my inspirational performance!

Here’s the key part, the crux of the matter: she didn’t tell you that she was not really singing.  She didn’t keep her mouth closed.  She didn’t hold up a little sign saying “I’m actually just moving my lips to a recording”.  No, she put all of her energy into this monumental effort to give all of her “authentic”, fantastic self into this performance of a digital recording.

And you are an immature little wuss if you don’t like it.  Do you hear me?  Stop not liking it.  Stop thinking there is something phony about it because… well, not because it’s not phony, because it incontestably is phony, but because we are all grown-ups now and don’t care if it was fake or not because, after all, Beyonce can really sing, so you can just think about that as you are stirred, nay, inspired, nay revolted by this bullshit.

So if Dave Shumka, the writer of the CBC post, wants to go out and hear some “live” music and doesn’t mind if it’s pre-recorded, bully for him.  Go to it!  Pay your $150 and sit down and watch the stage and enjoy get your thrill from watching some super-model stand there and move her lips in synchronization to a recorded performance.

Just don’t post some bullshit sign at the venue advertising live music: it is not.   Post a very large, clear sign saying “Lip-syncing Tonight” and watch the audiences role in.  If you are worried that not very many people will show up to watch fake live music, then you are the one who should grow up, suck it up, and stop lying to people.

Incidentally, I can’t think of a single song by Beyonce I care about anyway: she’s just another diva, like Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, and a host of others who sing, pretty well, songs that have no significance whatsoever.  The songs are all merely carriers for the noise of her voice.

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