Sunday, March 30, 2014

Flying Fantasies

Flying is like signing away your rights as a human being. Not only is your life put on hold, but you never know which side of providence your fate will fall.

On my most recent flight to Holland, I thought lady luck had smiled on me and my fellow passengers, but after we were all seated in the full, upright and locked position, our carry-ons stowed away, we were told that there was a slight problem with one of the landing lights, which would only take 20 minutes to fix. I could see lady luck start packing her bags and by the time we were told that unfortunately they needed to wait for a replacement part to be flown in, which would take at least 3 hours, she had stepped out of the plane altogether.

We were 'deplaned' and asked to wait at the gate, where we were offered complimentary refreshments, a euphemism for the familiar constipation causing mini pretzels and soft drinks. What would that incoming plane do without the part we would be stealing from it, I wondered? Probably wait for another plane to come in, have those passengers wait 3 hours, and so on, ad infinitum. Read more...

Does Culture Breed Poverty?

Republicans and Conservatives are of course wrong on just about every issue, including abortion, equality, sex, public health care, homosexuality, guns, race, the environment, crime, foreign policy and everything else. But the Number One reason why I loathe them is that they want to grab all the money. The desire to be rich at the expense of others is the defining characteristic of the capitalist, it is at the core of the political Right.

Congressman Paul Ryan recently said that “we have this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working and learning the value and the culture of work, and so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.”

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Race and Incarceration in America

In November 2012, the 47-year old Michael Dunn murdered 17-year old Jordan Davis in Jacksonville, Florida. Dunn is white, Davis was black. Dunn killed Davis because of loud music. His defense claimed that he believed Davis to be armed. On February 15, 2014, there was a verdict: A mistrial on the murder charge (hung jury) and a guilty verdict for attempted murder. This is clearly another Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman type case. It is about the explosive mix of crime and race.

Once again many people are calling for “a discussion of race.” Of course. MSNBC and other progressives are in the forefront of this. And of course they are right. There is no way that this country is “post-racial” yet, even after electing a multi-racial president. The only problem I have is that there is a little bit of a cacophony on the Left. Let me give two examples of this:

#1. On Feb. 10, MSNBC complained that when Jordan Davis’ parents appeared in court during Dunn’s trial, they had to show that they had been good parents, which is shameful, considering that THEY are the victims.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Disneyland and Osama Bin Laden

Folks: Here is the reason why you haven’t gotten any of my  funny/irritating/boring/whatever  posts for some time:
I am sick. It’s a nasty thing called brachial plexus neuritis. It’s painful, debilitating and can last a long time. I am seeing a million doctors and undergoing a million tests.  With Neurontin and other means, I am trying to gradually function as normally as possible. But for a while, I couldn’t do anything. So here I am, trying to come back with a witty short story:

This year, we celebrated New Years’ Eve in Disneyland. That’s also where we were exactly 32 months earlier, the day Osama Bin Laden was killed. We flew to Disneyland to celebrate New Years Eve with my family - my wife and I, our daughters, our grandchildren, our son-in-law. Plus five million other people.

The attractions are varied: there is the old Disneyland park, the new part called “California Adventure,” “Downtown Disney,” which is a whole bunch of restaurants and shops, and more. You can buy single tickets, or get package deals, or the “one-day hopper,” or the “two or three-day hopper,” etc. So a ticket to the rides can cost anywhere from about one hundred dollars to $400, $500 or more. I asked whether they had discounts for senior left-handed citizens born in Hungary (me), but they didn’t. Read more...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Animals Like Us

Like most of us, I have an instinctive sense of ‘morality’. I know when something is clearly good and when something is really bad. I cannot explain it to you in one or two clear sentences, because my sense of morality is so much part of who I am. I wouldn’t be ‘me’ without it. I am not trying to sound saintly or anything, that’s just part of the human condition and it probably counts for most of us.

The fact that my sense of right and wrong is so deeply ingrained in me, is what makes it so difficult to put into practice. The devil is in the details, as they say. How do I decide how ‘bad’ it is to steal a five-dollar eyebrow pencil from the drug store? There is no chart posted at the entrance of CVS that gives the stealing of eyebrow pencils a ‘goodness/badness’ rating. It would be impractical because CVS would have to compare it to everything else that I potentially could do that qualifies as bad. And that is an infinite amount of things. In other words, if we gave every action a goodness/badness rating, morality would become so unmanageable that we would drown in a morass of dos and don’ts and we would soon throw the moral baby out with the bath water. Read more...