I blog from the public library, where a female patron in dark glasses just accused me of possessing a "scrambler" and trying to hack into a her nonexistent computer. "I'm leaving," she announced. "Don't think you're going to get out of the library alive." Not satisfied with her dramatic departure, she returned to call me a "f---ot" and again make a threat against my life. As a precaution against these and other encounters with human beings, I make a point of working from the quietest corner of the library--the genealogy section--and do so with headphones on to block out the din of other patrons. My defenses proved no match for someone so committed to unpleasant confrontations. I think what exacerbated the situation was the juxtaposition of the aural pleasantness of "Pet Sounds" coming through my headphones with the disturbing words that interrupted that sonic perfection. I remain innocent of a large portion of her diatribe, thankfully, because of Brian Wilson. And isn't that vibe of innocence in a fallen world the primary reason for the greatness of "Pet Sounds"? Despite past writings that wondered if libraries were the new asylums, the situation jarred me. I normally loathe getting the authorities involved, and since illness of mind rather than soul motivated the poor woman, I hesitated but ultimately reported the malefactor to the librarian. Children play two floors below, and the dangerous mix of lunacy and little ones seemed worth pointing out to the librarians. "Pet Sounds" has come to a close. And so, hopefully, do my interactions with homo sapiens. I return to "indexing my book"--code for invading the computers of other patrons with my "scrambler"--until the next close encounter of the crazy kind.
I want my MTV! I keep getting Snooki's. The initialism that once stood for Music Television announced that it will revert to playing videos for twelve hours on the Fourth of July. The strange announcement comes on the heels of VJ: The Unplugged Adventures of MTV's First Wave, a memoir by the four surviving original video jockeys. Read my review @ the American Spectator of tales of cocaine, big hair, small salaries, and hooking up with MTV contest winners.
I hate to beat a frozen dead horse, but it's late spring and 48 degrees. That's a rare combination. The daily cigar smoke required a return indoors for a sweatshirt yesterday. My sense is that when spring yields to summer next week the passing season will rank as one of the coldest on record in New England. What's the cause? Global warming, say proponents of--you don't say!--global warming. That's what this National Geographic article contends. It's always nice to be able to hedge your bet: heads I win, tails you lose. The National Geographic writer concedes of warming causing cooling, "It's a tough thing to understand."
For the first time in U.S. history, the number of white deaths eclipsed the number of white births during the last year. At some point this year, whites will comprise a minority for the part of the population five years of age or younger. That's the future. By 2043--thirty years from now--the US Census Bureau predicts, the white majority will be the white minority in America.
I'm obsessed with Lana Del Rey's song "Ride." I just listened to it five times in a row. I can't remember ever being so musically gluttonous. I checked her album "Born to Die" out of the library last year. It was okay. When I recently stumbled upon "Ride," it shocked me that it hadn't grabbed me upon my earlier listen. Then I discovered that it's not on "Born to Die" but on the "Paradise" EP released late last year. Del Rey is a polarizing figure--my "okay" aside--with some proclaiming her the greatest thing sliced oranges and others decrying her as a hype creation. She's easy to look at, which may be why so many find it hard to admit her talent (Don't hate me because I'm beautiful!). I think rather than just good looking you could say she's very interesting looking. She doesn't really smile much. She fascinates. I don't know if she's from the past or the future. She's not from the present. This song, which came out last year, is so arresting--and sonically different from anything on the radio in 2013--that it demands a listen. If you really, really like it, then listen to--or should I say watch--the unabridged 10-minute version of "Ride," which features numerous iconic symbols of freedom and opens with a lengthy, bizarre monologue. An interesting postscript follows the song ("I believe in the country America used to be.... I believe in the freedom of the open road.... I am f---ing crazy. But I am free.).
The New York Times concedes a "warming plateau" in an opinion piece dropped in a news section. Surely this is a response to my June Is the New March post from a few days back. The most hilarious part of the piece is when the author notes that the recent cooling--he uses the word "plateau"--represents a blip in meteorological history, so it's statistically dishonest to make a point about the larger weather trend by taking these outlier years out of the broader context. Isn't that exactly the point that skeptics have been making about alarmists? "The slowdown is a bit of a mystery to climate scientists," the piece notes. "True, the basic theory that predicts a warming of the planet in response to human emissions does not suggest that warming should be smooth and continuous. To the contrary, in a climate system still dominated by natural variability, there is every reason to think the warming will proceed in fits and starts." Translation? Even when the weather report proves especially bad for the man-made global warming hypothesis, the idea's proponents will spin it as proof of global warming.
National Security Administration whistleblower Edward Snowden is the one-man rebuttal to outraged Obama administration officials who want the high school dropout prosecuted. Slate's Farhad Majoo sums up "If the NSA trusted Edward Snowden with Our Data, Why Should We Trust the NSA?" Snowden didn't invade the privacy of Americans. He exposed the secrecy of the government that invades the privacy of Americans.
Richard Ramirez worshipped Satan. Might a closer view force him to reaccess his spiritual pursuits in the temporal sphere? He was to AC/DC what Charles Manson was to The Beatles, and expropriated the "Night Stalker" label from Kolchak, but those weren't his chief sins. The Southern California serial killer murdered at least thirteen people before a mob in East LA beat the bag out of him in 1985. So when he peacefully died this week at age 53, I started thinking about the death penalty. I hate the state more than even the inhabitants of death row, so entrusting the government with life and death freaks me out the way that entrusting bureaucrats with my financial information, cell phone records, and internet searches does. Richard Ramirez is creepy. So is the government. The government asks that you to take an oath on the Bible, but almost everything it does in the courtroom is a lie. This is particularly true with regard to sentencing. Five years never means five years, life never means life, and death seldom means death. One of the most startling items in Richard Ramirez's obit didn't involve his gory spree. It centered on the facts that in California, since the reinstatement of capital punishment in 1976, 59 death-row denizens died awaiting execution, 22 perished, like their victims, from their own hands, and just 13 died from state-administered gas and injections. That's right. Death row inmates killed themselves at a higher clip than the state did. Richard Ramirez spent the majority of his adult life awaiting execution but instead passed via natural causes. He killed thirteen people. But he never realistically needed to fear the state killing him. Capital punishment makes me queasy. So does the habit of issuing orders without any intention of seeing them through.
I wore a sweater yesterday. It's June. What's going on? In times of meteorological doubt, I consult the wisest, most logical man who ever existed: Leonard Nimoy. That's right. When it's June and in the '40s, I look to the '70s for answers. I'm not embarrassed to admit that I watched In Search Of when I was a kid (I would be embarrassed if I watched any such show as an adult). The episode on The Coming Ice Age (I dare you to watch with a straight face) comes to mind in temperatures like these. Scientists, with earnest certainty, predicted American cities covered in feet of ice year round. One of the "scientists" in the global cooling documentary now prominently preaches global warming. Whatever pays your mortgage, I guess.
TV Guide and the Writers Guild of America released its "101 Best Written TV Series of All Time" earlier this week. Duck Dynasty, Amish Mafia, and Teen Mom 2 failed to make the list. It's strange that a list honoring writers comes at a time when television so dishonors them. Reality and talent shows are TV's way of outsourcing the jobs of writer and actor to cheaper workers. Read my article @ the American Spectator on the writers this list compiled by writers unjustly edited out of the final draft.
The most prophetic song of the late MTV age turns out not to be "Video Killed the Radio Star" but Rockwell's "Somebody's Watching Me." Obama's National Security Administration has been collecting the cell phone data for all of Verizon's customers since at least April. What is the probable cause for indiscriminately snooping on Americans? It's not like Verizon's customers work for Fox News or attempted to start a Tea Party group. Don't fret, the heavy breathing you hear isn't Dick Cheney's but Barack Obama's. Just as Democrat bombs are nicer, more humane, Democrat phone taps are less intrusive. If you don't believe me, ask a Democrat, a party that inevitably learned to love in the Obama administration what they despised in the Bush administration. When Richard Nixon sics the IRS on enemies, it's an impeachable offense. When Barack Obama does it, it's the fault of his enemies (and the imperfect tax code). People who don't care about the First, Second, or Tenth Amendment generally aren't going to care about the Fourth, either. When did NSA become KGB?
Phil Plantier's batting crouch really fascinated me back in the '90s when I worked at Fenway Park. He appeared as a compressed spring ready to unleash all that pent up energy on the baseball, which he often did his rookie season--making fellow prospect Mo Vaughn appear less promising. Plantier's career proved more pedestrian than his batting stance. And until now, I hadn't seen another player with a weirder stance. Check out Alex Buccilli bizarre batter's box pose. He may still play in college. But that's a major-league-weird stance.
Boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. reportedly wagered $5.9 million on the Miami Heat last night. The Heat won. More importantly for Mr. Mayweather, the Heat covered. Mayweather apparently used nine different sports books to place the total bet. During the last few years, the undefeated pugilist has tweeted out dozens of stubs for winning bets totaling more than $3 million. He hasn't tweeted out a single loser. That's the glamour of evil, I guess. Mayweather has earned hundreds of millions of dollars over the course of his illustrious boxing career. I can't predict that he'll ever lose in the ring. I can predict, based on his idiotic gambling compulsion, that he'll soon be a loser outside of the ring. The house can endure a bad-luck streak. Even Floyd Mayweather doesn't possess the fund to cover one. And bad luck in the sports book may compel him to fight too long and become another punch drunk sad case inside the ring. Gambling, as Chrissy Hynde reminds, is about the losing.
A handful of congressmen have demanded that the Washington Redskins change their name. I agree. Prefixing such a unique moniker with a geographic designation suggestive of corruption and parasitism surely sullies the team's good name. Now that they play in Landover, Maryland, and several prominent DC politicians have attacked their nickname, the Redskins should ditch the Washington prefix as they had earlier ditched the city as a stadium host. Read my article @ the American Spectator that stipulates that if New Yorkers don't mind being called "Yankees," and Vancouverites tolerate, nay, celebrate the name "Canucks," then we shouldn't be surprised to find Native Americans who embrace "Redskins."
The shopper in front of me in the supermarket line the other night paid with two peculiar checks with the letters "WIC" prominently inscribed on them. The acronym, which denotes a welfare food-assistance program, stands for "Women, Infants, and Children." He was none of the above. Read my article in the American Spectator on America's fastest growing demographic: the Welfarians.