Sunday, March 29, 2009

Why E.R.?

I have taken so much crapolo from Vigilante over the years about watching E.R.

What doesn't he get?

So, I am inserting the money parts of television critic Mary Mcnamara's Haunting First Season Show Leaves A Lasting Impact. As McNamara writes,
One gut-wrenching episode from 1995 still packs a powerful punch, and a fragility-of-life lesson too.
I recall that episode.

Apologizing for ellipses:

I remember the moment when I realized film could make horror beautiful and thus even more horrifying . . . But not like I remember the moment I understood how powerful and long-lasting an hour of television could be.

The 20th episode of the first season of "ER" is titled "Love's Labor Lost," but if you meet a woman over 30, or any OB-GYN, all you have to do is put your hands on your lower belly and say "that 'ER,' " and they will smile grimly and nod. . . .

As with any episode of "ER," there was a tangle of story lines, but the only one that mattered begins when a couple, .... Dr. Mark Greene ( Anthony Edwards) tells her it's probably just a bladder infection and sends her on her way. Other stuff happens -- Dr. Benton's mother had a broken hip, which causes him much concern -- and the pregnant woman has a seizure in the parking lot. Nothing seems terribly dire even then -- she stabilizes and after speaking with her OB-GYN, Greene decides to induce.

As the episode unfurls, one thing goes wrong and then another -- the baby's shoulder gets stuck, the mother's blood pressure drops -- until a panicked Greene performs a brutal emergency C-section ... Although the baby is saved, the woman dies, her body transformed from living person into scooped-out husk in a matter of moments.

When I saw that episode, pregnancy could not have been further from my mind. But I felt like the federal government should have issued a warning to all women of child-bearing years, preferably from loudspeakers on every street corner. I remember creeping to my phone and calling all my female friends until I found someone who had seen it so we could talk each other down. I remember it taking a very long time.

It wasn't the gore or even the reminder of how tenuous pregnancy can still be in this modern age. It was how writer Lance Gentile and director Mimi Leder had collaborated to cause the whole terrifying, mind-blowing thing to creep up on me. To remind me that tragedy is not necessarily accompanied by a spray of bullet-shattered glass or a solemn diagnosis. Tragedy lurks in the corner of every decision, every bit of hurried advice; tragedy doesn't always occur, sometimes it just accumulates -- until it fills the room and then empties it.

I turned on the TV to watch that season's sexy new medical drama, and there I was, shaking and dry-mouthed and my life would never be the same.

Now I have had a lifelong issue with personal hyperbole, but that last bit turned out to be true. Over the years, I have thought about "Love's Labor Lost" a lot, and not just during my three pregnancies. I think about it when my children get sick or when I'm driving on the freeway. I think about it when I'm feeling sorry for myself after a disappointing day and when things are going so great it seems wise to worry.

I think about that woman and how it started with an ache and the need to pee and ended in evisceration. I think about how frail the human body is and how we all carry within us our own personalized episode of "Love's Labor Lost."

Inevitably, through a series of events that will probably start with something unremarkable -- a headache, a weird cough, the decision to change lanes -- it will be me in that final shot. With any luck, I'll be very old and not quite so hacked up, but who knows? So it's important to pay attention to what is happening right now, to participate in my life as it is right now.

Not only to ensure that something serious doesn't go wrong when I'm not looking -- there's no ensuring that -- but to know that I got the most out of my days when it finally does.

Not too bad for a 14-year-old single episode of network television.

E.R. 4-Ever!
  • I'm going to miss my weekly Thursday-at-Ten "date", that I have so enjoyed (in spite of the teasing I've taken from you).

  • For me, it was a treat that I anticipated each week and savored for that hour of television. Getting to "sit down", and peek into the "lives" these all too human characters "led", was a bit like reading an absorbing novel that has completely captured your interest and affection, but can only be read in weekly installments.

  • I thank the writers of ER for their creation of such moving and memorable story lines and characters, and I thank the actors and actresses for birthing those characters into such believable and engaging "people".

  • "Good on Ya", to everyone connected with the gift that is ER's fifteen seasons on NBC.
That's all I got to say!

Omid-Reza Mirsayafi, R. I. P.

The Los Angeles Times recently reported an announcement by Iran’s official news agency announced that the Islamic Republic had crushed a network of allegedly anti-religious websites. The LAT also noted, in passing, that on the same day, Omid-Reza Mirsayafi, had expired in an Iranian jail. Mirsayafi was a young blogger serving time for having "insulted authorities" on his website.

The Persian news agency described the government's successful crushing of a network of websites which had been,
... insulting religious sanctities and desecrating religious beliefs, insulting the Holy Koran and the innocent imams, promoting very deep ethical deviations in individuals and family members, advertising prostitution of Iranian girls, breaking the privacy of individuals, preparing hidden films and encouraging Iranian users to produce obscene and anti-religious contents.
The Times appropriately took this occasion of Mirsayafi's death from torture to remind it's readers that Reporters Without Borders had included the so-called Islamic Republic in a list of the 12 most egregious Enemies of the Internet:
- Burma, China, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam - have all transformed their Internet into an Intranet in order to prevent their population from accessing ‘undesirable’ online information. . . . All these countries distinguish themselves not only by their ability to censor online news and information but also by their virtually systematic persecution of troublesome Internet users. . . .
The careful reader might have noticed I did not provide a link to support my assertion that Mirsayafi had been tortured to death.

That is because I am applying Vigilante's Presumption of Official Guilt (VPOG). It is applicable wherever there is governmental censure and suppression of the Internet, media and press. Whenever and wherever access is denied and journalists are intimidated and persecuted, assume the worst imaginable is true. Torture is sanctioned.

Ask only of governments if they have nothing to hide, why do they hide everything?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Gridiron Memories Revived & Medieval Impulses Re-Ignited

… and Trophy Wife goes diagnostic on me!

A close (brother-close) high school chum visited me from Colorado this week. I haven't seen Jon for maybe two decades. We spent not-enough time in the 50 hours we had together, passing back and forth stories of characters we have known and who are now long since gone, dead and buried - if not forgotten. One in particular is neither forgotten nor forgiven.

It's more accurate to say, I have never forgiven myself for a particular incident. Jon didn't remember because he didn't play football. But Tony C. should.

I remember it as clearly as yesterday. On a biting cold Colorado afternoon, my high school team was in Denver, on the losing side of a football game in the 3rd quarter. I was playing left line-backer, which perfectly fit my personality, then as well as now.

On this particular play, everything went to the right side. I immediately set off on a diagonal to intercept the action short of the end-zone. As it turned out, Denver's fleet half-back was eluding all tacklers and breaking loose. I was going to be the one to stop him in his tracks. Charging to cut him off on the sidelines, I had him in my cross hairs. In a nano-split second, I recalled that the cinder track encircling the football field was narrowly bordered by a concrete curb rising about eight inches above the field's surface.

In a nano-split second it went through my mind, that if I hit the Denver halfback where it was my calling to hit him, he was going to land on that curb. Taking mercy on him, I elected to hit him high with my hands and arms and just push him out of bounds.

Bam! I was struck fully in the face with the last straight arm I ever recall getting and it was I who fell, ignominiously onto the turf while the unscathed half-back in the end zone received the cheers of the home town crowd.

I couldn't forget that face and that smirk. A year later I recognized the halfback among new guys enrolling in my school. Tony C became a great addition to our team and I never told him about that incident on that cold day in hell (Denver) until a school re-union decades later. In his eyes there was no sign he remembered it at all. Of course not: it was not about my missed tackle; it was about his touchdown.

But I told Jon at the table last night to tell Tony C. that if I ever catch him in the Hereafter, running with the pigskin and wearing a uniform different than mine, I'm going to hit him with everything I got, equidistant between the knees and the shoulder pads.

Damn hell and high curbs.

Upon listening to this tale of an event from a half century ago, Trophy Wife leaned forward and said, "That explains everything!" And the when the laughter subsided, my co-resident clinical psychologist added, "Very diagnostic."

It was, of course, diagnostic. As I said above, I have totally forgiven Tony C. But I'll never forgive myself.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Man for One Season

That's me.

One of my favorite expressions is that seasons are over-rated.

It's not that I don't like variation, especially within a 24-hour cycle. I rather liked summers on the Eastern slope of Colorado where I grew up. You could have warm, blue-sky mornings with a breeze building from the direction of Gulf of Mexico, noontimes brooding with thunderheads over the mountains to the west, afternoon deliverance of a brief and warm and heavy downpours and then clearings to star-lit skies in the evening. Those days were perfect. Find me a location where I can enjoy Colorado summers for 365 days a year. That's the year-round season I'll condo-buy into. At least, that's the way I remember it.

Only problem - one of the problems - with Colorado was that the summers were always too short, crowded out by those less ideal, below average, sub-par other seasons.

Even now, that I live in Sozadee, I'm still somewhat afflicted by changing seasons. Of course, they're much more tolerable than the bad ol' days were back in the land of ice and snow. But there is room for improvement.

I actually think seasons should be delineated on the calendar differently. I'm not sure my more conservative, tradition-bound readers will follow this, but I'll try.

It's more logical and symmetrical to consider December 21st, Solstice, as the dead of winter. It's the shortest day. So, assuming we're doomed to divide the year up into four seasons, I think it's logical to set the onset of Winter 45 days before December 21st, or November 5th.
That means 45 days after the Solstice, on February 4th, winter breaks up into spring. And, 90 days later, on the Cinco de Mayo (to fudge a little), spring turns into summer. That makes the longest day of the year, June 21st, occur where it should, in the sweet-spot center of summer. Autumn falls 45 days later on August 6th, whence it runs until it trips and stumbles into a winter face-plant on November 4th.

I could budge and fudge a couple of days back or forward, but this seems to make more sense than what we have now. Now, we have winter start with the most odious, ugliest, shortest, and coldest day of the year. That day should be jammed into the heart of the heartless season, it seems to me, into the middle of fucking winter.

Where does this put us? Here in Sozadee, on the 24th of March, we are in the middle of a glorious spring. Cat Ballou (A.K.A., Blue & Balloustic Missile) is up to her teats in the tall grass where her pursuing German Shepherds and Pit Bulls dare not venture.

She doesn't know it, yet, but with the advent of daylight savings time, her Frisbee training is about to begin. Following that, perhaps even before the advent of summer on Cinco de Mayo (remember?), her swimming and body-surfing lessons will begin on Saturdays. By the end of this summer (her second with me) and the beginning of autumn (August!), she will be counted on to beat all lurking Labradors to her floating tennis balls. Next summer I'll be able to risk Frisbees in the surf.

So that's the way it is, here in Sozadee: where all of the dogs - Dobies anyways - are above average and seasons are neither observed nor respected.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Please Mr. President! Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way!

Water boarding = Torture = Illegal

Mr. President, Dick Cheney is more than the crazy uncle at the wedding. He is trying to eat your lunch. He's not worthy of conducting a conversation (by proxy) with the President of the United States. This guy Cheney is not just the ex-vice president of the United States. He is an un-indicted, yet to be indicted, war criminal. He is a known felon and should be arrested.

Mr. President, if you're not going to ask your Attorney General to indict this scumbag, at least get out of the way and name an Independent Prosecutor to conduct an investigation into Cheney's actions. As Jonathan Turley says, it will be the shortest investigation of war crimes in history because the inconvertible evidence is already on the table:

Saturday, March 21, 2009

An Anniversary Approaches . . .

Oscar Wilde said,
Most modern calendars mar the sweet simplicity of our lives by reminding us that each day that passes is the anniversary of some perfectly uninteresting event.
All Americans should find the event we commemorate on Saturday to be of the greatest possible interest and of the utmost critical importance to the future of our country.

Because it is.

(Click to enlarge.)
This is a national demonstration coming to our own communities, to which you are invited to bring your old shoes for decorating packaging and mailing.

In Sozadee:
In Tokyo:In St. Paul

Friday, March 20, 2009

Gary Hart

On the eve of the 6th Anniversary of this Day which will live in Infamy, it's instructive to remember that there was a grip of Blue-Dog Democrats who voted to support Bush's unprovoked invasion and occupation of Iraq. These may have been the same who were caught on the short end of history on the Gulf War Resolution of the previous decade. Whatever the case, they surrendered their judgment to the injudicious George W. Bush.

One of those courageous Democrats who kept his mind when many around him were losing theirs was Senator Gary Hart.He was not alone. A majority of congressional Democrats opposed the invasion.

Concealed Carry Takes a Hit!

Yes! Yes! A little sanity!

Court decision blocks concealed guns in national parks!

Even if it couldn't come from the Obama administration, I'll take it as a decision from the Federal Court Bench.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly halts a change in regulations issued in the waning days of the Bush administration and orders further review. She set an April 20 deadline for the Interior Department to review the rule and indicate its course of action in response to the injunction.

Bush's rule, issued in December and teking effect on Jan. 11, allowed visitors to carry a loaded gun into a park or wildlife refuge as long as the person had a permit for a concealed weapon and the state where the park or refuge was located allowed concealed firearms. Previously, guns in parks had been severely restricted by the Reagan administration in the early 1980s.

Bush's rule would have allowed concealed weapons even in parks located in states that prohibit the carrying of guns in state parks. Some states allow concealed weapons but also ban guns from parks.

The Obama administration was clueless in this situation saying it was reviewing the Bush rule and, in the meantime, had defended it in court. A spokeswoman for Interior Secretary Ken Salazar declined to comment Thursday, citing the ongoing court case.

Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, one of two groups that sued to block the rule, called the judge's ruling a victory for the people.
We're happy that this headlong rush to push more guns into more places has been slowed.
Bryan Faehner, associate director of the National Parks Conservation Association, which also brought suit, said he was extremely pleased.
We're especially glad to hear that the court is agreeing with the park rangers and the public who are concerned that there will be negative impacts from the (now-overturned) regulation and increased likelihood for opportunistic poaching of wildlife and increased risk of violence to the public.
A group representing park rangers, retirees and conservation organizations protested the Bush rule change, complaining that it could lead to confusion and increased danger for visitors, rangers and other law enforcement agencies.

The NRA opposed the suit.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Joe Cassano

Vigilante Justice

It's time to take names and numbers.

Let me make myself perfectly clear. What I don't want is
'is 'ead on a stick
. In the stockades will do. To history, this scum is worth millions alive. Don't no one take a shot at them. No martyrs, please.

If I strike readers as over the top this morning, it's not that I jumped.

It's that I've been pushed.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Ides of March - Quiet Time

Putting away that bottle of hyperbolic acid this evening and picking up a little Botti. . . .
Botti, that's Chris Botti, 000000007
It's 0300 hrs Sozadee Time. The moon is reflecting off the breeze of the Channel into the ceiling of my study. Many who know me consider it insane to get up out of a warm bunk to change the course of my Wyliecat-30 at the Eastern Pacific buoy at LAT-LONG 112'30 W & 45-00 S.

176,000 maniacs behind me in the Volvo Ocean Racing Game (VORG). 28,000 are at their keyboards at this moment. There is good company among the VORG lunatics.

Before I know it, I have bungled my rounding through micro-managing my helm. Hundreds of places have been lost in these three early morning hours. Like all other losses before them, I have to put them behind me. Scoldings from Trophy Wife for my sacrifice of sleep and risk of health are ahead of me.

Through it all - loss and gain - Botti's Emanuel will sustain me.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Cramer -vs- Stewart

My comments can be found on Mad Mike's presentation.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Domestic Terrorism - A Recurrent Theme

In Mumbai, Baghdad and Kabul they call it terrorism. In our U.S.A. they call it a shooting spree.

That's what happened in Alabama today: nine innocents killed, plus one suicider shooter.

This is all part and parcel of the NRA's promotion of conceal carry: permitting the carrying of concealed hand guns under the cloak of law. The NRA says that if you prevent people from carrying side arms, only outlaws would have guns.

How about considering: if laws prohibited the carrying of loaded guns outside your home or your business, then if you caught a gun being carried in the streets, you would have caught one outlaw. Perhaps you could then bag him before he began behaving outlawish - by actually killing people. But the NRA has had its way: by legalizing the concealed carrying of side arms, police can't tell the difference between the good guys and the bad guys until the shooting starts.

In Missouri, in fact, the law is so open that pretty much any resident over 21 with a clean criminal record can legally carry a loaded gun concealed in a car, even without getting the permit.

I never was persuaded on the appeal of conealed carry. It seems to me:
  • By the time you realize that deadly force is appropriate, the bad guy very likely has an advantage over you. Remember that virtually every police officer slain on the job was armed and trained in self defense.
  • The more you handle your gun, the more likely a child will get hold of it.
  • Misuse of a gun, accidentally or deliberately, might cost you your liberty, your home and your bank account.
  • Carrying a gun may make you cocky enough to fight when you ought to run.
No matter.

Let's continue with the comparison with domestic and international terrorism:

In the Middle East they have suicide vests; in our own Mid-West, we have the NRA Concealed Carry Vest.

Description: We’ve sold thousands of these vests to NRA Members who are quickly making it one of our most popular items of all time. Perfect for concealed carry, competitive shooting, off duty law enforcement, outdoor photography or just traveling around town. Made of 100% cotton double wall canvas with a full-zip and snap front closure. Features two interior pockets with an internal velcro panel that accepts any velcro-backed holster or accessory, such as the 5.11 Tactical pouches (not included). These pouches allow you to conveniently carry a concealed firearm, extra magazines and a flashlight or mace. Sixteen well-designed specialized pockets for cell phone, water bottle, writing instruments, etc. Available with or without NRA logo. Vented in the back for cool everyday wear. Price: $69.95-$74.95

That's what I learned today. Continuing education teaches me the older I become, the less I understand.

Paws de Deux

I've found another blog site where I can post occasionally, when I am of mind to. It's hosted by an old friend who's agreed to take me on.

Lil' Bill is not the sort of blog-meister who will edit my contributions out of all recognition (FUBAR) or just plain delete them when she disagrees with them. That's fine with me (as well as good for a change).

Lil'Bill just turned 85 or 86, but I've learned not to cut her any slack because of it. She still can kick yo' ass, no matter how big it is. Visitors to Paws de Deux should mind what they say.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

I'm Down With Mo and Michelle O.



I'm With Maureen Dowd when she's protecting Michelle Obama's back arms.

In her NYT column, Should Michelle Cover Up? Ms Dowd writes that she was recently sharing a cab ride with David Brooks who presumed to comment on the First Lady's arms. To be sure, Mo set the Prince of Snark up by asking Brooks what he thought of Mrs. Obama's arms. Brooks took the bait. He said,
She’s made her point. Now she should put away Thunder and Lightning . . . Washington is sensually avoidant. The wonks here like brains. She should not be known for her physical presence, for one body part. . . .Sometimes I think half the reason Obama ran for president is so Michelle would have a platform to show off her biceps.
Brooks added that the policy crowd in D.C. would consider the dress ostentatious and made her daunting.

Like Sandra McElwaine who wrote in the Daily Beast that,
. . . . you can’t escape the subject—Michelle Obama’s unrelenting sleeveless look, and namely, her gorgeous, toned arms. In the midst of a conversation about the thorny issues of the day someone will mention those limbs.

. . . . Michelle has simply turned toned arms into a bold, new fashion statement. Anatomical discussions around the proverbial watercooler used to revolve around legs or boobs or butts or toes, or even a serious wardrobe malfunction à la Janet Jackson. Not anymore. Not since the high-gloss first lady started flaunting those glistening ab-fab Obama-arms, the body part du jour . . . .the firmest triceps, biceps, and deltoids in town . . . . she feels compelled to don a sleeveless frock and flash those lanky, flab-free arms.

. . . . what has captured public attention and caused all the brouhaha is not just Michelle’s choice to bare arms, but her obvious devotion to physical fitness . . . . Michelle pumps iron and works out with a personal trainer for 90 minutes, three times a week, sometimes as early as 5:30 am—with her husband.

. . . . In all seriousness, and with all due respect to her, someone should tell Michelle to mix up her wardrobe and cover up from time to time. I’m beginning to think she has an Arnold Schwarzenegger complex.
Ms. Dowd disagrees, saying that Michelle
... ignored that talk, thank heavens.

Let’s face it: The only bracing symbol of American strength right now is the image of Michelle Obama’s sculpted biceps. Her husband urges bold action, but it is Michelle who looks as though she could easily wind up and punch out Rush Limbaugh, Bernie Madoff and all the corporate creeps who ripped off America.

I love the designer-to-J. Crew glamour. Combined with her workaday visits to soup kitchens, inner-city schools and meetings with military families, Michelle’s flare is our depression’s answer to Ginger Rogers gliding around in feathers and lamé.

Her arms, and her complete confidence in her skin, are a reminder that Americans can do anything if they put their minds to it. Unlike Hillary, who chafed at the loathed job of first lady, and Laura, who for long stretches disappeared into the helpmeet role, Michelle has soared every day, expanding the job to show us what can be accomplished by a generous spirit, a confident nature and a well-disciplined body.
I'm with Mo. She brings on her own Thunder and Lightning.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Baseball Returns to Los Angeles!

Manny Ramirez will see to that.

Manny Ramirez will play for the Dodgers for one or two more years at $25 billion a pop. Not surprising. In 16 MLB seasons, Manny has earned $162,149,269.

On July 31, 2008, Manny was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a three-way deal in unusual circumstances: his salary was to be paid by the hapless Boston Red Sox. The Dodgers had him for free for the remainder of the season.

The numbers Ramirez put up for the Dodgers in those two months, when projected over a full season, would have amounted to a .396 batting average, 51 home runs, 159 runs batted in. No player has been able to put up those kind of numbers in a full season, in major league history.

Ramirez is a great hitter in a clutch. He explains his immunity to pressure in his hitting this way:
We've got nothing to lose. Just play the game. Why panic? If we don't do it, we'll come back next year ...... There's always next year. Who cares? It's not like the end of the world.
His presence in the batting order at positions three or fourth transforms the line-up from an average offense to a contending threat. We’re looking at this group of probable starters: Russell Martin, Casey Blake, Blake DeWitt, Rafael Furcal, Orlando Hudson, James Loney, Andre Ethier, and Matt Kemp. All of these guys have pop and there's not an easy out among them. With Ramirez batting in front of- or behind- them, these guys will produce plenty of runs.

Of course, the season will hang as it always does, on the lack of injuries.

And the pitching. Manny doesn't pitch (baseballs).