Friday, September 27, 2019

Will Trump Be Impeached?

I certainly hope that Trump will be impeached. Impeachment doesn't necessarily mean removal from office as former President Bill Clinton would be the first to tell you.

But both substantively and politically I think it would be a good thing for the Democrats to impeach Trump. 

It is outrageously unethical and likely illegal for a sitting President to attempt to coerce a foreign head of state to start an investigation into the family of an American political rival. That's just wrong. I am not interested in hearing about what everyone else may have done any more than the cop who stops you for doing 89 MPH in a 60 MPH zone is interested in hearing your defense that you were just keeping up with traffic. 

It's wrong. You did it. Face the consequences.

Most of the people warning the Democrats about the horrible dangers of proceeding down the impeachment road do not exactly have the best interests of Democrats, liberals, or anyone other than Donald Trump on their mind. When a bully tells his victim that if the victim fights back the bully will just beat him up worse, the bully is just trying to ensure that the victim remains in a submissive defensive crouch. 

Bullies HATE the idea of victims fighting back. Similarly Republicans have gotten used to telling Democrats all of the horrible things that will happen if Democrats actually start fighting back against Republicans. Well yes, some horrible things might happen. Democrats do have some loony ideas that are not as popular as some people on twitter think.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Book Reviews: Seduction of the Innocent

Seduction of the Innocent
by Max Allan Collins
There is always tension among those who want unfettered free speech, those who would urge us to use free speech "responsibly", and those who dismiss the very idea of free speech as a cis-gendered, sexist, heteronormative. capitalist, bourgeois, patriarchal, white supremacist con and imposition on the true expressions of people's feelings and thoughts. 

I tend towards allowing more free speech than less. However, I would agree that there are some themes, thoughts, and pictures that probably aren't suitable for children. That's how I was raised.

Though it appears rather silly from a 2019 POV where a few keystrokes on your internet linked computer can retrieve any sort of filth, at one point in American history we had Senate hearings on the dangers of comic books and horror magazines. 

Some people thought that these publications were contributing to juvenile delinquency. Because of the Senate hearings some publications began having problems with distributors and/or went out of business. Those that remained agreed to enforce self-regulation (censorship). This code included but was not limited to:
  • Crimes shall never be presented in such a way as to create sympathy for the criminal, to promote distrust of the forces of law and justice, or to inspire others with a desire to imitate criminals.
  • If crime is depicted it shall be as a sordid and unpleasant activity.
  • Policemen, judges, government officials, and respected institutions shall never be presented in such a way as to create disrespect for established authority.
  • Criminals shall not be presented so as to be rendered glamorous or to occupy a position which creates a desire for emulation.
  • In every instance good shall triumph over evil and the criminal punished for his misdeeds.
  • Scenes of excessive violence shall be prohibited. Scenes of brutal torture, excessive and unnecessary knife and gunplay, physical agony, the gory and gruesome crime shall be eliminated. No comic magazine shall use the words "horror" or "terror" in its title.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Bill de Blasio Drops Out; Why Was He Even Running?

The real mystery about de Blasio's campaign, is not that he dropped out but rather,what made him waste his time running in the first place? I would say the same of non-entities such as Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand, among others. 

If you don't have a chance of winning, have nothing interesting to say, no ability to push an issue to the forefront, and aren't even someone other candidates might consider for a cabinet spot, then why did you waste time and money running for the Presidency?

It all comes down to ego. And apparently de Blasio has an outsized one. Most politicians do. But you also need to know how to count. And I hear he has plenty of issues in NYC to fix. He will have time to do that now.
Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York City who entered the Democratic presidential race on the premise that his brand of urban progressive leadership could appeal on a national scale, said on Friday that he was ending his candidacy.

Mr. de Blasio’s announcement came as it became clear he was unlikely to qualify for the fourth Democratic debate next month, cementing the notion that he lacked the support and funds to sustain his bid.

Three Masked Teens Shot Dead in Home Invasion

Call the coroner!
There's gonna be a lot of slow singing and flower bringing
If my burglar alarm starts ringing
What ya think all the guns is for?
All-purpose war, got the Rottweilers by the door
And I feed 'em gunpowder, so they can devour
The criminals trying to drop my decimals

Biggie Smalls "Warning"

I don't think it's a good thing to be happy when people die, generally speaking. But my eyes are dry when someone who was trying to rob or shoot someone else ends up dead themselves. If the below story is true, if three masked and armed teens really shot at people and tried to invade someone else's home, then I shed no tears for their demise. 

I do believe that the teens could have been cogs in a larger social disaster of de-industrialization, self-hate (ironically something that may have led to the demise of the quoted rapper at the top of this post), fatherless homes, media glorification of criminals and on and on. I do believe that society has to continue to work to make positive changes in young people's lives so that they don't see criminal behavior as worthy. But when someone is pointing a gun at you and trying to rape you, rob you or kill you, the time for empathy and understanding is past. It's time to put them in the ground ASAP.

A Georgia homeowner gunned down three masked teens, at least one of whom was armed, on Monday during a failed robbery that could be an incident of "stand your ground" defense, authorities said. The three boys, one 15 and the other two 16, were fatally shot at 4 a.m. outside a home on White Oak Court in Conyers, Georgia, about 30 miles east of Atlanta, according to Rockdale County Sheriff's deputies.

Michigan vs. Wisconsin Football

On Saturday, September 21, at noon EST, in Madison, Wisconsin, the Michigan Wolverines will play the Wisconsin Badgers in a college football match. At the time of this writing, Michigan, my alma mater, is a 3.5 point underdog. Michigan has lost the last four games it played in Madison. Although the Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has restored the program to respectability and brought in more money, he hasn't really had many signature wins, especially on the road. Michigan hasn't looked very good this year with some mistakes against Middle Tennessee and an overtime dogfight against Army. 

That's not why Harbaugh was hired. He was hired to smash Michigan State into irrelevance, beat Ohio State, win the Big Ten Championship, and compete for National Championships. Harbaugh hasn't done those things yet, although he's paid as if he has. Harbaugh's teams at Michigan have done well but they have lapses in intensity and concentration at precisely the wrong times. Occasionally they can be left in the dust by speedier teams or punched in the mouth by stronger teams.

Unfortunately, Wisconsin may be one of those stronger teams. No one has scored on Wisconsin yet this year. Of course beating the snot out of South Florida and Central Michigan doesn't exactly make Wisconsin a champion contender but it IS what a strong program is supposed to do to a weaker program, which is more than I can say for Michigan at this point. I hope that Michigan was just playing down to their opponents as they are sometimes prone to do. Because I really don't care to hear from Wisconsin fans for another year or realize that yet again a Big 10 championship is out of Michigan's reach.

Book Reviews: Golden Prey

Golden Prey
by John Sandford
This is an installment in a series. If I had known that before I made the decision to purchase it, I may not have bought the book. I usually like to start at the beginning. However, in this case, having read the book I'm glad I did purchase it. Ironically, after getting a strong sense of deja vu while reading the book, I later discovered that I have a few other books in this series. Go figure.

This book was just under 400 pages in hardcover but these days that's short for a novel. I didn't think the story dragged at any point though there were certainly some characters I enjoyed reading about more than others. This book is not lightweight in any pejorative sense of the word. But it is good reading if you are stuck somewhere without anything intellectually stimulating. So if you must spend a few hours in an airport, an auto dealership, a hospital lounge or somewhere similar you could do worse than to have this book by your side. 

One of my cousins got me started watching some of the true crime shows on the cable network Investigation Discovery. This book was like one of those shows put in print. And I very much mean that as a compliment. Lucas Davenport is a former Minnesota cop who saved the life and political career of some national bigshots, including a former first lady who is running for President. He's also wealthy. Cashing in some chips, and still protected and watched over by aforementioned political big shots, Lucas has transferred from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Investigation to the US Marshals service. 

Unusually, in deference to his good deeds and his intelligence, Lucas has been granted the authority to choose his own cases. He also doesn't really have to report to the local US Marshal chief.

Woman Bites Other Woman's Face and Ear in Sexual Assault

No means no, right? That is a ubiquitous and correct message that everyone should hear and understand today. You can ask whoever for whatever but if he or she declines your generous offer then that's it. Move on to someone else. Unfortunately one Allison Weaver, a South East Michigan woman, appears not to have taken that common cultural message to heart. It is important to understand that no means no. It is also important to remember that contrary to some other ubiquitous messaging, not all of the violent sex criminals out there are men.

The Oakland County Sheriff was called to the Lake Village Apartments on Norfolk in Rochester Hills around 1:30 Tuesday morning. A neighbor on the first floor reported hearing someone moaning and calling for help. When deputies arrived, they also heard someone calling for help and entered the upstairs apartment. That's where they said they found two partially naked women in a bedroom, covered in blood.

Deputies say one of the woman had numerous bite marks on her face and other facial injuries, and that part of her left ear was bitten off. The other woman, now identified as Weaver, was hovering over the victim and that they were lying on the floor, deputies said. The victim, a 48-year-old woman of Rochester Hills, was taken to the hospital for treatment.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Birds are Disappearing

At first I thought the numbers in the below article were off. But apparently the numbers are accurate.  What if modern life as we experience it in the so-called First World is actually not good for humans and other living beings?

What if that modern life, which is being eagerly sought after by billions of people in China, Africa, India and other so-called Third World regions or countries is incompatible with continued human existence? If one-third of wild birds have vanished then what replaces their previous role in the world's life cycle? And what impact will that replacement have on us all?

Nearly one-third of the wild birds in the United States and Canada have vanished since 1970, a staggering loss that suggests the very fabric of North America’s ecosystem is unraveling.

The disappearance of 2.9 billion birds over the past nearly 50 years was reported today in the journal Science, a result of a comprehensive study by a team of scientists from seven research institutions in the United States and Canada. 
As ornithologists and the directors of two major research institutes that directed this study, even we were shocked by the results. We knew of well-documented losses among shorebirds and songbirds. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Antibiotics are losing their effectiveness

The problem with getting better at overcoming a problem is that often times the problem evolves and adapts. This has been the case with antibiotic usage. 

Although antibiotics are literally lifesavers, assisting our immune systems  to defeat some very nasty infections, many infections (fungi and bacteria) have evolved to resist and become immune to the antibiotics and antifungals. They've done this very quickly as humans count time but perhaps not as bacteria and fungi count time. 

One reason for this problem is that people across the world (this problem is evidently most acute in South Asia) have overused antibiotics and antifungals in a wide variety of circumstances. So we're seeing more of these organisms shrug off our best attempts at killing them. It's as if prisoners started developing immunity to small arms fire. Such a thing would be an unwelcome surprise to prison guards tasked to stop breakouts.

Check out the fascinating nine minute video below which explains the dire situation we're in and how worse may be yet to come. As pointed out in the video some other reasons that this situation exists include the requirements of globalized capital and an unnatural food supply chain. There is nothing supernatural here but this is nonetheless a very real horror show.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Michigan Prosecutor Sleeps with Rape Victim

You would imagine that most prosecutors of sex crimes would be focused on making sure that justice was done and that the perpetrator of the crime was justly punished. 

You would imagine that a prosecutor would not have to be told that his or her job is to put away the bad guys (gals) and not, repeat not, to get nookie from the victim of the crime. You would imagine that. But for at least one prosecutor in Michigan you would be wrong. 

LANSING — Michigan State Police have launched a criminal investigation into an assistant attorney general who has been accused of having an inappropriate, intimate relationship with the victim in a rape case he was prosecuting. Brian Kolodziej, who was hired in September 2018 under former Attorney General Bill Schuette, was put on administrative leave and subsequently resigned last week after the relationship came to light, said Attorney General Dana Nessel.

“To say I’m horrified and disgusted is really an understatement,” she said. “In over 25 years of practice, I have never before even heard of a situation like this.” Nessel wouldn’t provide details of the situation because it’s still under investigation, but noted that she learned of it after a complaint was filed with State Police. All of the cases handled by Kolodziej will be reviewed by the Attorney General’s Office to make sure defendants received due process.

Representative Rashida Tlaib, Netanyahu and Trump

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at the alleged behest of President Donald Trump, recently barred US Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from visiting Israel and the Palestinian occupied territories. Tlaib and Omar are decidedly pro-Palestinian and pro-justice. 

The Representatives do not agree that Jewish people in Israel should have more rights than the Palestinians. It is possible that Netanyahu was going to ban them anyway and Trump just gave him political cover to do so. 

After the uproar Israel cynically agreed to allow Rep. Tlaib to visit her grandmother in the West Bank but only if she agreed in writing to not say or do anything critical of Israel during her time there. Desperate to see her grandmother, Tlaib briefly acceded to this humiliating condition, but faced with outrage by some relatives, constituents and supporters on this issue, Tlaib  stood strong and refused to adhere to Israeli speech restrictions.

"In my attempt to visit Palestine, I’ve experienced the same racist treatment that many Palestinian-Americans endure when encountering the Israeli government. In preparation for my visit, my grandmother was deciding which fig tree we would pick from together, while Palestinians and Israelis who are against the illegal military occupation were looking forward to Members of Congress finally listening to and seeing them for the first time.

Movie Reviews: It Chapter Two

It Chapter Two
directed by Andy Muschietti
This is the sequel to the previous It movie, reviewed here. Both films are based on Stephen's King's 1986 novel. This movie is set in the current day, about twenty seven years after the supernatural events in the first movie.

 The children are all grown up with relationships, careers and families of their own, Some are are doing well, others less so. Most of them have generally forgotten what happened in Derry, Maine or have hazy memories at best. I had read Stephen King's book decades ago.

I did not read the book again before watching the film. Much like the characters in the film I didn't have an exact memory of every last plot detail so unlike with some other book to film adaptations I wasn't sitting there in the film thinking that this was wrong, that wasn't in the book, that person didn't look, act or sound as I expected them to look, act or sound. I lacked demanding expectations. So on the one hand that made the movie more enjoyable.

On the other hand the film was just under three hours long. I didn't think all that was necessary. Most of the actors get a chance to shine at something but I thought the film could have cut down some fluff from its runtime. Compared to the first film I thought that the sequel wasn't quite as emotionally engaging. It did rely tremendously on its special effects and made overt homages to a few classic sci-fi/horror films, most notably The Thing.

Michigan Apples

One good thing about living in Michigan is that you get first dibs on a pretty amazing variety of apples every fall. Now it won't officially be fall for another ten days or so but football has started, leaves have begun to turn color, and apple orchards are starting to toot their horns about what they have to offer. Probably in a few weeks when the temperature has fallen to what I consider real fall weather and more of the harvest has become available I will go to an apple orchard near me. I am sure the ones listed in this story are nice.

But in Michigan it's hard to drive twenty minutes without running into an apple orchard somewhere. Maybe next year I will try some a bit farther afield. Of course apple orchards offer more than apples. They have cakes, pies, candy, syrup, donuts, fritters, and all sorts of other goodies that are derived in part or in whole from apples.

Area orchards and cider mills have opened for the season, offering treats such as apple cider, donuts, pies and fresh apples.
The Michigan Apple harvest 2019 crop estimate is 25.25 million bushels (1.06 billion pounds), according to the USApple Outlook meeting held recently in Chicago.
This year's crop estimate is in line with the average harvest, which is about 25.2 million bushels per year.

Detroit Public School Chess Prodigy Charisse Woods

I have always enjoyed playing chess. I wish I were better at it. One person who is better at it than I and likely to improve more in the future is  Charisse Woods, a ninth grader at Detroit's Cass Technical High School. 

Woods is leaving for Mumbai, India to compete in the World Youth Chess Championship. In other words..she's a really good chess player. She will be the only chess player from Michigan representing Team USA.

Charisse Woods is getting ready to head to Mumbai, India to compete in the World Youth Chess Championship. The ninth-grader at Cass Technical High School first learned to play chess when she was just 7 years old. She says she loves how the game keeps you thinking.

"There's like trillions of different positions," Woods said. "The game is so dynamic. It changes so often. I love the challenge, getting to travel and meeting new people."

Des Moines Iowa Lawyer Works as Prostitute; Urges Decriminalization

The obvious joke is that lawyers screw you over one way or another. At least with this attorney you'll hopefully leave the experience with a smile on your face.

A Des Moines attorney is unveiling her life as a part-time prostitute.The mom, wife, attorney and prostitute, Katherine Sears, hopes that by shining a light on her lifestyle, she can help decriminalize prostitution. “I like sex,” Sears said. “Sex is fun and I can get paid for it.”

She began working as a prostitute three years ago, at the age of 27. Sears travels to Nevada, where prostitution is legal, and works in a brothel.

“You can make a job out of this? That’s fantastic,” Sears said. “Why would I not do this?” By speaking about her experience, Sears hopes to educate people on a taboo topic.

“I think a lot of people are upset about prostitution without understanding what it is they are being upset about,” she said. “Which is really frustrating because it’s hard to talk somebody out of something when they are just entrenched in, ‘No, this is what’s right.’”

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Movie Reviews: Ma

directed by Tate Taylor
This is a horror film. But maybe that description might give you the wrong idea. It's as much a thriller film as horror. There are relatively few jump cuts used. Those that do show up are few in number until the film's final third in which there is some reversion to the mean in well known and overused effects. There is nothing supernatural, no magic box that appears in the mail, no one that looks exactly like a family ancestor who's been deceased for two centuries, no inheritance of a heretofore unknown family mansion, no seductive slender woman (or man) who only is seen at night. None of that is to be found in this movie.

This movie was in part created because the primary female lead, Oscar winning actress Octavia Spencer, wanted to do something outside of the typical maid or mammy asexual roles which she normally plays. This film was definitely different from her normal roles, I'll say that for it. How successful it was? Well I though it could have been better, especially in the way the ending was built.

This film asks us if people are born monsters and if the scars of past harms ever truly heal. Some people hold grudges longer than others. That's just human nature. Nothing will change that. Some religious traditions call upon us to forgive those who trespass against us. Others reject forgiveness and seek retribution. A lot of pop culture and pop spirituality states that seeking revenge, holding grudges and refusing to forgive all harm the holder of the grudges far more than the original aggressor.