Tuesday, November 18, 2014

An Uber-Threat to journalists

An Uber executive threatened to sic opposition researchers on journalists during a recent "off the record" conversation. He proposed spending $1 million to hire four "top flight" researchers who would dig up dirt and feed it to "journalists" also in Uber's employ.  Reminds me of GM sending private investigators after Ralph Nader when he exposed the dangers of the Corvair.

Here's a link to the article.

Once he was exposed, Emil Michael insisted it was all a misunderstanding and he didn't really mean it. Mmmm.

What also jumped out at me was Uber's "promise" not to snoop on journalists who use its service. It never occurred to me, but if I use Uber and Lyft, they have electronic records of everywhere I go and when. Creepy. The opportunities for abuse are endless.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

I'll Be Back


Watched one of my all time favorite so-bad-it's-good movies the other day, "Raw Deal" with Arnold Schwarzenegger. It's Arnold at its bad-acting, greasy mid-1980s best. I originally saw it in Japan where for some reason they changed the name to "Gorilla" without realizing that implied our favorite Austrian bodybuilder-turned-actor was a violent simian. Mmmm.

Some choice lines:

"Let's go Deputy Dog." Cop to man caught impersonating cop

"You should not drink and bake." Arnold to his long- suffering, soused wife after she throws a cake at him.

"I want you to get inside Petrovito's organization and tear it up." Darrin McGavin, Arnold's old FBI boss, on his mission.

"I take care of things. All kinds of things." Arnold to the mob boss during his first job interview.

"Smart I like. Smart ass I don't." Mob boss to Arnold on his follow up interview (He gets the job after just two interviews. Boy the 80s were great).

"if it doesn't work out we'll use him for something dirty and throw him in the river" Mob boss after hiring Arnold.

"The only way you'll ever be lying next to me is if we both get run down by the same car." The mob moll to Arnold's nemisis and fellow mob enforcer.

"Cops versus cops. You leave me with no one to rout for." Arnold's mob nemesis after a dirty cop tells him Arnold is not who he says he is. He's flying back to Miami for a cop charity softball event.

"Somebody got really pissed off." Detective viewing the carnage inside the illegal casino where Arnold somehow manages to kill about a two dozen guys and walk away with nothing but a cut on his arm.

And then there is the shoot out in the gravel pit. Arnold blasts out the window of his car (a Chrysler product like all the vehicles in the movie), pops in a cassette (remember those?) of "Jump'n Jack Flash" and drives around the gravel pit shooting people. Hilarious.

Picture of the Day

My Japanese Maple:

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Moutain Laurel Blooms

Our Mountain Laurel (the state flower) is finally blooming. It's about 10 days to two weeks late thanks to the cold spring.

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Rand Paul Boom

The national political press constantly pumps up scenarios that have no chance of ever coming to fruition. I don't know if they are clueless, cynical or carried away by events. A little of all three I suspect.

The latest example of this phenomenon is the Rand Paul boom, as illustrated by today's New York Times story on the senator squiring Rupert Murdoch around the Kentucky Derby.  Paul, we are told, is the sort-of GOP frontrunner for 2016. His biggest drawback, the political press says, is his less-than-hawkish foreign policy views.

Poppycock. Rand Paul will never be president, and it's not because he questions the Bush-Cheney foreign policy. The oval office is out of reach because he does not believe in the section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that bans discrimination in public accommodations. That means, if I run a business, I cannot refuse to service people based on their race, creed, national original, etc.

Paul's argument is that it was correct to ban discrimination by governments, but individuals should have the right to discriminate.  But for that right to be fully excercised, the state would have to intervene on the side of the discriminator. Specifically, police would have to arrest or threaten to arrest the person denied service if they refused to leave the business. So in the end, you would have state-sanctioned discrimination.

The moment Paul becomes a serious candidate, this video of his interview on this subject with Rachel Maddow will surface and it will all be over. In the meantime, tens, perhaps 100s of millions of dollars will be spent, and countless words will be written, all for nothing.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

NFL Blues

I just read "Slow to Get Up," a memoir by former NFL tight end Nate Jackson. It's a great book, a revealing look inside pro football from a player, per the book's subtitle, at "the bottom of the pile."

Jackson played six seasons on the Broncos, mostly on special teams and as a backup. His account of the constant pain and suffering endured by the typical NFL player is harrowing. Even as  a non-starter, the list of his injuries and ailments is cringe-worthy. But you can understand the high. Even marginal players like him partake of American's adulation of men who pound each other to jelly for our entertainment. The perks are sweet: VIP treatment at Las Vegas clubs, golf with Playboy bunnies, first class hotel rooms, cash to burn.

I was struck by the odd sense of isolation Jackson experiences in the most team-orientated of games. He's just an interchangeable part, a gypsy ready to move anywhere at a moment's notice. The friends he makes get traded and he never sees them again. He lives alone in a gigantic house. He writes of the affinity between strippers and football players because both live outside of normal society and are subject to impenetrable stereotypes.

The world he presents is in contrast to Vince Lombardi-Green-Bay-Packers ideal of my youth. Books about those teams emphasize the intense bonds formed between players and their coach. Today, it's all business.

The best thing I've read on pro football since North Dallas Forty.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Boomerang Man

 The world boomerang championships? Who knew?

Here's my story about a Wethersfield man who will take part in the boomerang world cup later this month in Perth, Australia.