Monday, July 31, 2017

Colorado landlord has sex in tenants' bed

I'm pretty particular about some things. I know that we all have immune systems for a reason, as I once explained to an even more germophobic relative, but all the same I'd rather not test my immune system needlessly. Unless we're intimate you can keep your germs and bacteria to yourself, thank you very much!! I don't need them. I don't want them. I can't use them. I can't win with them. If a grocery clerk coughs or sneezes while they are ringing up my order I may at least give some thought to getting another item which doesn't have any bonus phlegm on it. I'm much better than I used to be about this sort of thing, believe me. Life is short. Nobody gets out clean.That said though there is a difference between relaxing standards which are too high and letting go of standards all together and permitting someone else to deliberately befoul your environment. The first may be a choice but the second is surrender. I heard about this story on the morning commute and could not believe it.
A Colorado landlord who was caught on home surveillance cameras having sex in his tenants' bed pleaded guilty to trespassing last week. Carlos Quijada-Lara was filmed breaking in to the $1,100-a-month apartment of married couple Logan Pierce and Mikaela DiGiulio in Colorado Springs last November to have sex on their bed with another man. He was unaware that the couple had installed a surveillance camera in their bedroom which recorded the romp. 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Trump, Priebus and Scaramucci

Donald Trump, despite his immense wealth, success and power is a profoundly insecure man. Perhaps this goes back to bad experiences during his toilet training phase. Maybe he knows that he's not really a self-made man in the true sense of the word. Maybe he struggles to comprehend how being President can be so tough if the black guy did it. I don't know. I do know that he's a bully who has so far not shown any ability either to run the executive branch effectively or failing that, empower people who really do know how to administer executive branch. Maybe this will change. But really how many people change in their seventies? You pretty much are who you are at that point. Trump mistakes conflict and brashness for strength. This "state of nature" approach trickles down to everyone who works for Trump. We saw this this week where Trump's new White House Communications Director and would be mini-me Anthony Scaramucci, gave a rather odd interview in which he profanely boasted of being willing to fire everyone, accused White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus of leaking information, and charged White House Advisor Steve Bannon of being so enamored of himself that he tried to commit oral sex upon himself.
Scaramucci also told me that, unlike other senior officials, he had no interest in media attention. “I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own ****,” he said, speaking of Trump’s chief strategist. “I’m not trying to build my own brand off the f****** strength of the President. I’m here to serve the country.” (Bannon declined to comment.) He reiterated that Priebus would resign soon, and he noted that he told Trump that he expected Priebus to launch a campaign against him.
Now politics is a contact sport. But even by those standards going on the record with such filth was pretty low indeed. But Scaramucci did not apologize in any meaningful way. And apparently Trump wasn't bothered as much by Scaramucci's language and public criticism of other Administration members as he was by Priebus' lack of public response. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Movie Reviews: John Wick Chapter 2

John Wick Chapter 2
directed by Chad Stahelski

Rinse, Wash, Repeat. 

There is a line in Tolkien's Silmarillion in which Feanor, among the greatest and most tragic of the elven heroes, insults Melkor, the Big Bad (Satan analogue) of Tolkien's Universe. Then hate overcame Feanor's fear, and he cursed Melkor and bade him be gone, saying "Get thee gone from my gate, thou jail-crow of Mandos!" And he shut the doors of his house in the face of the mightiest of all the dwellers in Arda. Insulting the Devil to his face isn't really a wise thing to do. Feanor finds this out the hard way though since he is a total jerk it's unclear as to whether he really learned anything even when he died. The point is that when you insult or attack people whose capacities and capabilities you do not know, you might discover there are some people you really should have left the f*** alone. That truism made the first John Wick movie an entertaining spectacle. The title character, an extremely skilled and feared retired assassin, was processing his wife's death when an idiot made the mistake of stealing his car and killing his dog.

The running joke throughout the film was that everyone was incredulous that anyone would willingly get on John Wick's bad side. As one criminal said we aren't scared of him because he's the Boogeyman. We're scared of him because that's who we send to kill the Boogeyman! We saw in great detail why upsetting John Wick was a very bad idea. Reeves is to say the least, a minimalist actor, so the role of a quiet man struggling with grief and anger in equal measure was almost tailor made for him. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Ypsilanti Turkey Memorial

There was a local wild turkey that became a bit of a celebrity. This turkey, for reasons that shall forever be unknown, decided to hang around a busy intersection and hassle drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. This went on for quite some time. Animal control personnel attempted to remove the turkey but failed. Perhaps they didn't try hard enough. The turkey got so comfortable with people and cars that it actually started walking in traffic, causing slowdowns and delays. Lots of people thought this was cute. They uploaded videos, started Facebook groups, and twitter accounts. Well the reason that we attempt to keep animals and children away from traffic is that they are often too stupid to recognize the danger that massive swiftly moving hunks of metal pose to living creatures. The turkey was no different. It was recently hit by a car and later euthanized.

People had a memorial ceremony for the turkey.

Jimmy Fallon and Celine Dion Do Musical Impressions

I don't watch a lot of television. And I'm not really a Fallon or Dion fan. So even though this was an old bit it was new to me when I ran across it on Facebook a few weeks back. I thought it was funny enough. It's amusing to see how professional singers interpret other professionals' signature cadences and moves. I don't follow Cher or Rihanna but it seems to me that Dion did a passable imitation of them both.

Justine Damond Shooting

One of the most predictable occurrences in life is that many people simply do not understand or empathize with certain situations until it happens to them. People who privately sneer at "checkerboard" babies may change their tune when their child marries someone of a different race and they receive mixed grandchildren. People who make gay jokes often stop when their brother or sister comes out to them over Thanksgiving dinner. And people who support lifetime limits on insurance or medical settlements start singing a different tune when a drunk driver leaves them either paralyzed or in unending pain for the rest of their life, but the insurance company only provides a piddling payout that will be spent in less than a year. When people who look a certain way have problems with heroin or prescription pill addiction the media depicts them as sympathetic fellow citizens who need help and understanding. They certainly aren't subhuman inner city junkies who need to be locked up en masse. This is unfortunately the way that some people are built. Many of us can't empathize with those in pain unless those people look like us or are us. The latest example of this is taking place in the media reactions to the Justine Damond shooting. Justine Damond was a Caucasian Australian woman who called the Minneapolis Police Department to report what she thought was a possible sexual assault in the area.

As Damond was either talking to or approaching the police, possibly leaning through the driver's window or close to the driver's window, the passenger in the police car, Officer Mohammad Noor, a Somali-American, shot her through the driver's door, killing her. Supposedly both police officers had their body cameras off, which was against policy. More information is coming out on Noor and some previous complaints about him or issues that he has.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Republicans Fail to Repeal or Replace ObamaCare

The Republicans control the House, the Senate and the Presidency. Democrats can use procedural tricks,Senate tradition and appeals to the judiciary branch to slow down portions of the Republican agenda, but by and large Democrats can't stop anything that Republicans are bound and determined to get. The PPACA was passed without any Republican votes. Republicans swore that once they had the power to repeal it the PPACA or ObamaCare was dead meat. During the Obama Administration, the Republicans voted time and time and time again to kill ObamaCare. Some said they would replace it with something better but just about all of them agreed that ObamaCare had to go. Like yesterday if not before. But a funny thing happened over the years that ObamaCare was the law. A noticeable portion of the Republican constituency found that even as they hated ObamaCare and of course Obama, they loved the PPACA. Many of these people were so stupid that they didn't realize that the PPACA and ObamaCare were the same thing. 

Once Trump won the White House and had Republican majorities in the House and Senate ObamaCare should have been easy to repeal. But we saw this week that when it really came down to it Republicans, at least in the Senate, were people who, as James Brown might have said, just liked talking loud while saying nothing.  At this time the Senate could not bring itself to modify the PPACA or to remove it.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Movie Reviews: Austin Found, Incarnate

Austin Found
directed by Will Raee
This movie is being marketed as a comedy. Well it has comedic elements but it's really not slapstick or anything that would make you constantly laugh out loud. It's more of a satire/slice of life story. It's uneven to say the least but the ending which I obviously won't discuss made the film worthwhile as far as I was concerned. At just over an hour and a half this film doesn't overstay its welcome. This movie works the same side of the street as such films as Fargo, To Die For, Little Miss Sunshine, and Living Dolls. We all have an internal self-image. 
Whether we want to or not we often measure that internal portrait against the reality of who we are and where we are in life. I'm not just talking about money or material success although that is the most obvious metric which comes first to most people's minds. Health, fame, power, status, intimate and familial relationships, and many other things are also important to most people.

Austin, Texas hair stylist Leanne (Linda Cardellini) is a woman who doesn't like where she is in life. Leanne is a former high school cheerleader and beauty queen/prom queen who's now in her late thirties. Leanne often dresses as if she is much younger and still single. She married for money but her decent computer sales husband Don (Jon Daly) won't inherit what Leanne thought he was going to inherit. In fact because of career downturns Don isn't earning the big bucks that he used to bring home. At all. Money is tight. Bank accounts are low. Credit cards are maxed out. Frustrated by this reality Leanne is channeling all of her ambition into her and Don's eleven-year old daughter Patty (Ursula Parker) by forcing  Patty's participation in various talent shows and beauty contests as well as the required or suggested prep classes for those activities. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Book Reviews: Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor-a visual history commemorating the date that will live in infamy
by Randy Roberts and David Welky
On December 7th, 1941, Japan attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor. Japan destroyed the best part of the US fleet, the battleships and killed over 2000 US military personnel. It was an almost perfectly executed surprise attack. The Japanese military then went on a rampaging offensive against US and European colonial territories throughout the Pacific, curbstomping Dutch, Brits, Americans, and anyone else who got in its way. The Japanese military simultaneously put an end to the idea of Caucasian military invincibility while creating its own shameful reputation for brutality, criminality and rape. The Allies were reeling from the Japanese blows. The strains faced by the Allies in the Pacific theater would hasten post-war decolonization. It was difficult to talk of European superiority when an Asian power long thought to be second rate had so thoroughly demolished European armies and navies. 

That said, though in attacking the US, Japan showed that it had literally gotten too big for its britches. There's a saying that "You [mess] with the bull, you get the horns". There was tremendous anger in the US establishment and populace about the sneak attack. Ultimately Japan had to learn the hard way that it was no match for the US when it came to a fight. The late comedian Richard Pryor had a bit where he opined that that the Japanese elite were only familiar with Americans from laid back California, snooty Harvard or officious Washington D.C. Pryor said that if the Japanese only knew people like that then yes maybe it made sense that the Japanese would think they could beat them. Pryor said that the Japanese hadn't been to places like Texas, Alabama or Mississippi where there were white folks so dangerous that people had to keep them on leashes. Once those folks got into the game it was lights out for the Japanese. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Donald Trump Jr. and Fredo Corleone

You may have heard that Donald Trump's oldest son, Donald Jr. has changed his story multiple times about meeting with a Kremlin linked Russian lawyer to discuss damaging negative information on Hillary Clinton and how best the Trump Campaign could use it. This contradicts both President Trump's statements about possible collusion between his campaign and Russians as well as other definitive statements made by various Trump surrogates. As previously stated though, it is up to the Republican House and Senate whether to impeach and convict President Trump. To say the least that seems extremely unlikely. Even so, it's probably a pretty fair bet that other powerful people within the Trump Administration/Organization aren't too happy with Donald Jr. right about now. With apologies to Francis Ford Coppola perhaps the discussion among the Trump siblings went a little something like this.

Donald Jr. : “I didn’t know the media and DOJ would use this info about my Russia meeting to hurt Dad. I swear to God I didn’t know. Believe me.”

Ivanka: “Just tell us what happened, Donnie.”

Donald Jr. : “I ran into Natalia on a hunting trip in South Africa. She said that Dad was having some trouble with Hillary, that Hillary was being really tough, that Dad might need some help in the general election. She said I could help out Dad and that there might be something in it for me. On my own. And it would be good for the entire family.”

Eric: “And you believed that?”

Monday, July 10, 2017

Black Woman Tourist Thrown Down Steps in Amsterdam

People place different values on time and its importance. One person may get very upset if a friend or family member who promised to pick them up from the airport is ten minutes late. Another person may not understand why their boss is seething when they consistently arrive to work two hours after what the manager considers to be an acceptable starting time. Sometimes these differences may be culturally or environmentally based, but even among people who share the exact same cultural and familial background there may be very disparate attitudes towards time. Of course time is money. 

Many people who evince cavalier attitudes towards other people's expectations of punctuality will often take a different viewpoint if their employer or customer decides to pay them late or less than what was agreed. So it goes. Ideally expectations about time and money should be worked out before you enter into a formal contract with someone. Because when there is a disagreement or misunderstanding about time and money more serious unpleasantness can arise. All sorts of prejudices and hatreds can come to the forefront. This shocking footage shows the moment a tourist was brutally pushed down a flight of stairs by an AirBnB landlord who could be facing charges of attempted murder. The push was the culmination of an argument that took place on Saturday afternoon in the Dutch capital of Amsterdam between four tourists who had rented the flat and the landlord.

According to local media, the tourists should have left the house at 11am but at 1pm, they were still not ready to leave. The impatient landlord then became angry at the group and decided to take matters into his own hands. The footage shows the man shouting 'out, out' as he chucks the clothes and suitcases of the women out of the flat and down the stairs. One women is heard saying 'don't be emotional' as she complains about the landlord chucking her stuff out the flat unceremoniously.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Fox News and Sexual Harassment: Charles Payne Suspended

Sexual harassment is wrong. Adultery is also wrong. But in the Hughes-Payne affair we only know for sure that one of those things took place. This incident shows why it's usually a good idea to keep your work life and your sex life separate. Because if things go sideways there are any number of ways that a scorned lover can make your life miserable, mess with your money and perhaps even derail your career. Of course sex is one of the strongest urges known to men and women so it's not surprising that people constantly ignore common sense for a little slice of heaven. Sin in haste. Repent at leisure. It's just part of human nature. The analyst whose accusations of sexual harassment have led to Fox Business Network's Charles Payne being suspended has been identified as Scottie Nell Hughes. It emerged Thursday that Payne, who hosts Making Money, had been accused of having a three-year affair with a married political analyst who had worked for CNN. 

That woman was Hughes and their relationship was well-known within Fox News circles, ten sources told the Huffington Post. Hughes is best known for her pro-Trump appearances on CNN during last year, when she made a string of gaffes, including referring to Molotov cocktails as 'Mazel Tov cocktails'. But she also worked as an unpaid guest commentator on Fox from 2013-2016 - during which time she struck up an affair with the married father, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Movie Reviews: Life, The Belko Experiment

directed by Daniel Espinosa
Good B-movie that doesn't quite live up to its cast
This film is not in the same league as Alien or The Thing but that doesn't mean it's not a worthwhile Saturday afternoon B-movie which draws from the same Lovecraftian inspirations as the aforementioned movies. It also shows its debt to 40s noir and 50s monster films. If you go into this movie nitpicking every little thing then you're missing the point. Yes, there are a few pointy headed scientists who lack common sense. Yes, sometimes the movie's physics are dead on accurate; other times they are completely made up. And supposedly trained scientists and engineers at the top of their professions make horrible mistakes when faced with a crisis. But that last is human nature. Unless you train continually, chances are good that when faced with an emergency you may make sub-optimal decisions. Playing a video driving simulation is different from racing the Daytona 500. 

No plan survives contact with the enemy. And the arrogant scientist who is convinced that he alone has the ability to bridge the gap between humanity and a possibly hostile life form is a pretty old trope. So basically movies like this aren't meant for deep analysis. They are effectively haunted house movies without the supernatural elements. You're supposed to enjoy the thrills and imagine what you would do in that situation.