Who Am I?

My photo
A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

28 April 2012

Finding The Funny

I don't want to turn into a humorless curmudgeon - one of those old guys who's always yelling at kids to keep off his lawn.  I am not a naturally funny guy, but I do like to laugh.  I appreciate humor and try to see the lighter side of things whenever possible.  Maybe I get it from my dad.  He wasn't a big jokester, but he had a keen and unappreciated sense of humor that I think he was reluctant to let out for some reason.

I’ve mentioned before that I believe it is of critical importance to laugh every day…to find the funny in life. And find it, I do. 

In fact I was in the shower just this morning when I thought of something that caused me to literally laugh out loud. (It was one of those times when I was glad that I live alone.) This probably won't seem as funny to you as it did to me, but I will share it anyway.

It was from a recent episode of TV’s “Modern Family,” which is a consistently hilarious show. Mitchell was throwing a surprise birthday party for his partner, Cameron. The theme of the party was “The Wizard of Oz.” As Mitchell was frantically trying to get things together, the doorbell rang. He opened it and there stood two guys in flying-monkey suits. “Hey,” Mitchell said. “Hey,” one of the guys said back, “we’re the monkeys.” 

A brief, throwaway exchange, hardly noticeable amidst everything else going on in that fast-paced episode. Except…except if you’re a confirmed TV nut as I am. The “bit” was funny (to me). Here’s why: The timing of the exchange was exquisite.  And it was an audio gag, not a visual one as you would expect from a TV show. And an obscure audio gag at that! If you weren’t looking at the screen, what you heard was:
(Doorbell rings)
“Hey, we’re the monkeys.”

Hey, hey, we’re The Monkees!

I pointed it out to my friend, Matt, who is much too young to have ever heard about The Monkees, much less seen their TV show, or heard the theme song, or known of their importance in music and TV history, or have picked up on the (as I said, obscure) reference.  So he didn't catch it.  But I did, as did probably a whole bunch of others from my generation. At least, I hope so.

And when I thought about it this morning, I laughed again. It’s silly, yes, but it’s why I love “Modern Family.” Why they would include a little joke like that…a joke that many in the audience would not even get...I have no idea.

But nevermind that.  I say to you, find something funny to laugh about every day – every morning, preferably so you start the day off on a good note. Find the funny. Even if it's something trivial and silly.  It’ll make your life better, I guarantee it!

26 April 2012

Airport Security Theatre

As if we needed even more proof of the insanity that has become airport security, we get another news report of the TSA roughing up…get ready…a four year-old girl suspected terrorist. Here’s the story:


Basically, what happened was that a young girl who had already gone through the security gauntlet at the airport in Wichita, Kansas ran back to her mother who was being sent through the security scanner twice. The TSA couldn’t have that, oh no! Hilarity ensued as you can imagine. For their part, the TSA maintains that it acted appropriately.  Suuuuuuuuuure they did. 

I don’t subscribe to Vanity Fair Magazine although I probably should. They often have interesting, in-depth articles on a variety of subjects. I guess it’s the title that puts me off. Anyway, VF recently published an article on my favorite “hot-button” issue: Airport security and the TSA. I beg you to read it, as I’m sure you’ll find it as enlightening as I did.


The article, by one Charles C. Mann is fascinating…to me…because he points out that what the TSA is doing is mostly useless. That’s right, useless. In fact, Mann coined a term for it: Security Theatre – activities designed to make the traveling public think that the government was on the job and looking out for our collective safety! Yeah.

In his article Mann describes how he went to Reagan National Airport in Washington D.C. to interview a fellow critic of the TSA, an author named Bruce Schneier. Mann was able to get through security by producing a forged boarding pass that he made up on his computer, and he was able to meet up with Schneier as he got off the plane at the gate. …And you thought that you couldn’t get through security to see your family off. Hah! It’s so easy a child could do it.

It’s all a big waste of money…a waste of OUR money, because we Americans fund the TSA with our tax dollars. We’re spending billions and billions to stop something that’s never going to happen again. The terrorists know that airline passengers will never again be cowed into submission while their aircraft is directed into something like the World Trade Center. Pilots are never again going to open the cockpit door, period. As the kids say: Not. Gonna. Happen.

From the article: “You spend billions of dollars on the airports and force the terrorists to spend an extra $30 on gas to drive to a hotel or casino and attack it,” Schneier says. “Congratulations!”

One other thing I got from the article was a new word I’d never heard before: Panopticon, which is defined as, “A circular prison with cells arranged around a central well, from which prisoners could at all times be observed.” It pays to keep reading, eh? Great article. I hope you enjoy it.

Me? I will continue my little one-man boycott of airline travel for as long as the TSA is in existence.

20 April 2012

The Dying Furor Over George Zimmerman

I admit it, I was wrong when I surmised that Florida Special Prosecutor Angela Corey would not charge George Zimmerman with the shooting of Trayvon Martin. Obviously her mandate (either real or self-imposed) was to get charges filed against the guy. And what terrible race riots we would have seen had she not! Since those charges, and Zimmerman’s subsequent arrest, the hoo-hah…what I’ve termed “Z Furor” over this shooting has all but disappeared. Al Sharpton has gone home. The media has turned to other stories that they can exaggerate and misreport. Like ohhhh…maybe an Australian airline pilot who had to make a go-around because he was distracted by an incoming text message on his cell phone TWO YEARS AGO.

But will we see a return of Z Furor? Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder. Any charge of murder includes the concept of malice aforethought. The court will have to prove that Zimmerman intended to kill Martin prior to the shooting. Zimmerman will counter that he only shot the guy when he felt his life was in danger. He will invoke Florida’s so-called “stand your ground” law which permits just that. Whether the court will say the law is applicable in this case remains to be seen.

But hang on a sec. Second-degree murder? Can the state really prove that?

If I were Z, here’s how I’d tell the story: 

Hey, Your Honor, I was just doing my job...making my rounds for the Neighborhood Watch, as I always do. There’ve been some thefts and break-ins in the subdivision, and I saw a guy in a hoodie walking around and acting suspiciously. I called 911 and requested that a police car come. The Dispatcher said he didn’t need me to follow the guy, but I didn’t want to lose him before the cops got there. And hey, all I wanted to do was ask him some questions! I got out of my car, and the guy turned around to confront me. Before I could ask him anything he got all up in my face. Then he started fighting with me. I’m, like, “Whoa, whoa! Settle down, Beavis!” But he knocked me to the ground and started punching me and beating my head against the pavement. At that point I felt like my life was in danger, so I pulled my gun and fired a shot. Honestly, Your Honor, I never intended to kill the guy prior to him trying to beat me to death.”

The defense will introduce witnesses who will corroborate the part about Zimmerman being on the bottom as the two were fighting on the ground. And they’ll also introduce photographs showing the wounds on the back of Zimmerman’s head (as all of us have probably already seen on the internet).

Anyone who knows me or has read even one of these blogposts knows that I can be a pretty cynical and skeptical guy.  And so I wonder now if Ms. Corey didn’t go for second-degree murder knowing that they’d never get a conviction. Three things will happen: 1) The judge will agree that “stand your ground” applies and throw the case out; 2) The judge will rule that Zimmerman is innocent of second-degree murder; 3) The judge convicts him. Skeptical me, I’m not at all sure that number three is a possibility, as much as some people would like it to be.

Methinks Ms. Corey pulled a little fast one here. If she had just gone for a lesser charge she would have appeared weak, and it would have outraged the black community. “Self-defense manslaughter, are you kidding me, Ms. Bee-atch? That was MURDER dammit!” Going for second-degree murder makes her look like a tough prosecutor to most of us (which also happens to make her look like the “good guy” to the black community). But she knows…or at least she must have a pretty good idea…that a judge is going to have a hard time convicting Zimmerman of second-degree murder.

What Angela Corey has done is skillfully and cleverly avoided responsibility for the race riots that are sure to come if (maybe when?) Zimmerman is acquitted. If so I say, “Well played, Ms. Corey!” You think I’m crazy? Look, O.J. got off, didn’t he? And what about that other, more recent Public Enemy #1: Casey Anthony? Acquitted! All it takes is a good lawyer and weak evidence against you.

Now, obviously there may be things that have not come to light yet. The prosecution may have plenty of evidence suggesting that Zimmerman’s shooting of Martin was in fact premeditated. They may have witnesses who’ll testify that Zimmerman is an extreme, white-sheet-wearing, KKK-club card-carrying racist who hates blacks and was just itchin’ to shoot one that night. Who knows what they’ve got? (We all will, during the "discovery" phase of the trial.)  Many people have leapt to the conclusion that this is an open-and-shut case of aggravated white-on-black murder. But like all things in life, it might not be that clear when it comes to trial – we’ve seen that before.

George Zimmerman may very well have targeted Trayvon Martin for death that night. Even so, he might not be found guilty of it. I’m guessing…okay, betting…that he’ll be acquitted *if* it even goes to trial. Let’s just hope that happens in the cold of winter and not the heat of summer. Because Z Furor will return!

18 April 2012

The Trayvon Martin Case, Part III

People are funny, especially those on the internet, especially nitwit helicopter pilots in south Louisiana with internet access: That's always a dangerous thing.

My latest post on the Trayvon Martin shooting elicted two comments, ostensibly from two different anonymous responders, but really from just one. Look, if you don't have the balls to leave your name when you make comments, that's fine. Be ball-less, I don't care.

This particular ball-less commentator took me to task for my last post (the one about that USA TODAY reporter), incorrectly assuming that I've taken sides in the Trayvon Martin shooting.

"Anonymous Nitwit #2" wrote:
A black reporter tries to slant an article in favor of black guy. A white guy comes down on the side side of the guy who killed him. What a f****** surprise!

Okay, you anonymous nitwit, I haven’t come down on either side in this case. I just think that “the media”…ALL of the media aren't being objective, not just one USA TODAY reporter. Oh, and she didn't "try" to slant the story, she DID. Even though the correct information is out, Whatserface Alcindor *still* misrepresents certain things to make Zimmerman look bad and Martin look completely innocent. I find this aggravating and insulting.

"Anonymous Nitwit #1" says, “A guy was shot and killed. Has it occured to you that maybe we should try and figure out what the hell happened?”

“We?” What, you got a mouse in your pocket? WE should try to find out what happened? How the hell would *I* know what happened, much less *you*? Maybe "we" should rely on the media for our “facts?” Well they have so far not proven themselves to be reliable in that regard.

Stuff just doesn't add up. It seems to me that the story that Martin had just nipped out to the corner store for a box of Skittles and a bottle of ice tea is weak. There are no neighborhood stores nearby. So that does matter. What *was* he doing out at that hour?

Witnesses reported that during the altercation, it was Zimmerman who was on the ground underneath Martin as they fought. Zimmerman had injuries consistent with being in a fight. Martin had no such injuries (save for a bullet hole). I know one thing: Nobody...NOBODY is going to get into a fistfight with a guy holding a gun. I don't think that even Trayvon Martin was that stupid. This means that Zimmerman pulled his gun after he and Martin went to the ground.

And remember, Zimmerman was just doing his job as Neighborhood Watch guy. He was legally authorized to carry his gun, and he might well have been within the bounds of his job in stopping Martin and asking what he was up to. But we don’t know that, do we? Everyone just assumes that Zimmerman was some racist gun-nut out to kill a black guy that night.

People die…get killed…every day in this country. But the media has focused on this Trayvon Martin case like a laser. Yet the story has not been reported accurately; they’ve gotten a lot of it wrong. They’ve jumped to conclusions that aren’t necessarily logical, reporting things as "facts" that may or may not be. Why, just the other day I even heard a reporter on NPR state, “…and the police told Zimmerman to stop following Martin.” That has been repeated so often now that people just assume it is true. And it reinforces in people's minds that Zimmerman was on the hunt!

Personally, I don’t know whether Zimmerman is guilty or not…or even what he might be guilty of. We are all, in theory, innocent until PROVEN guilty. I honestly have not made up my mind. But I do know that he’s not getting a fair deal here. What's troubling is that so few people seem to care

15 April 2012

More Commercial Fun

Let's have some fun.

You know how much I love a good TV commercial - it's an art form I really appreciate. I am even more greatly impressed when good/clever commercials are combined with really good music. Sometimes though, the producers get a little too clever for their own good: The music dominates and I don't even remember what the commercial was about. Like that Saab commercial from some years ago that used Donovan's "Catch The Wind."

Such is the case with our first example, a commercial for a company called Trex that apparently makes outdoor decking - although it's a little hard to tell.

Wait...what was this for? The first time I saw this awesome commercial I was literally gobsmacked (a phrase my friend Hal Johnson dislikes). But I was. The music and images are so cool- I stared at the screen transfixed. I completely missed the "Trex" logos, which only show twice (and only briefly). The song is timeless. Is it new? It took a bit of internet searching before I found that it's a Mel Torme song from 1962...Mel friggin' Torme! Are you kidding me? Nice going, Trex! It works. (Oh and by the way, I'm pleased that Trex did not take the obvious route and go with a song from the '70s band, T Rex. That would have been too easy. And wrong.)

Then there is Chevy's commercial for their Sonic model. This spot first appeared during the 2011 Super Bowl. The commercial has the Sonic doing some...odd...things for a car: Skydiving; bungee jumping; and doing a "kickflip" (which where a skateboarder jumps up with his board and flips it underneath him). What's hilarious about this commercial is that the captions note things like "Sonic's first skydive," etc. Umm, first skydive?? First kickflip?? As if they anticipate some else skydiving their Sonic? (Oh, and I love the Chevy emblem on the bottom of the car which is visible only when the Sonic is upside down.)

The song used as a soundtrack in the Sonic commercial is called "We Are Young" by he band Fun. At the time of the Super Bowl, the song was just a cut on an album of an unknown band. It is just now, three months later in heavy rotation on Alternative Music radio stations.

But the absolute best commercial I've seen recently is for the new Ford Mustang. The premise of the spot is that we all have parts of ourselves that the Mustang would bring out: Your "inner Mustang" according to Ford. It's a really clever commercial. The car prowls around town interacting with certain people who view it and then transforming itself. Watch!

There are so many things I love about this spot. First and foremost is the Mustang itself! I haven't really been fond of the "re-imagined" musclecars that have come out lately (e.g. Chevy Camaro and Dodge Challenger), but the Mustang (which never left) kicks ass! What a good-looking car! The commercial shows it from its best angles. And in that commercial I especially like how the sequential turn signals are timed to the beat of the music - you barely notice unless you're looking for it. And that music! The song is called "How It Starts" from an album released last year by a band called The Features. And it fits the spot perfectly. (Watch at the end for the reflection of the little girl in the pink ballerina outfit in the Mustang's windows. I love it!)

Hands down, the commercial for the 2013 Mustang may be the best commercial of the year. But I'll tell ya, that Chevy Sonic commercial and the one for Trex decking are right up there. If only ALL television commercials were as good as these three.

14 April 2012

More On Trayvon Martin Reporting

You would think that by now the media would at least have their story straight on the Trayvon Martin shooting. Nope! An April 14th article in USA TODAY shows that the media have their own narrative about what happened that night and by God they’re sticking to it!

Here’s what USA Today’s Yamiche Alcindor wrote in today's

Trayvon, 17, was shot and killed on Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla., as he was returning to a gated community after buying candy at a nearby store. The gunman, George Zimmerman, whose father is white and mother is Hispanic, now faces a charge of second-degree murder.

I have already shown using Google Maps and Bing that there are no convenience stores “nearby”…none within two miles of where Trayvon was shot. It was raining that night. Are we to assume that Trayvon walked a total of four miles in the rain just to buy a box of Skittles? Come on.

Secondly, what the hell does the ethnicity of Zimmerman's parents have to do with anything??

Blacks have already made up their mind about this case. They're making a big deal of the fact that Zimmerman is "white" and Martin is black. Well, from the tone of this USA TODAY article, can we assume (would it be racist of me?) that Yamiche Alcindor is black…and therefore prejudiced against Zimmerman? Some objective reporter! Nah, that would be unfair of me!

More from the article:

Trayvon was "profiled" by Zimmerman, who "falsely assumed (Trayvon) was going to commit a crime" as the teen was trying to get back to the home of his father's girlfriend, according to public filings by Florida special prosecutor Angela Corey. The documents portray Zimmerman as the aggressor throughout the incident, remarking to police at one point that people like Trayvon were "punks" causing trouble in his neighborhood.

Alcindor does not make it clear that the statements are from the special prosecutor’s charges and are not yet established as fact. (Trying the case in the media, Ms. Corey?) We do not know that Zimmerman “falsely assumed” that Trayvon was going to commit a crime. Perhaps Martin was going to commit a crime. We have no idea what Martin was doing out at that hour. Zimmerman may have assumed that Martin was going to commit a crime, but we don't know that it was a false assumption.

Alcindor goes on:

After spotting Trayvon, Zimmerman called 911, got out of his vehicle, and followed the teen. Zimmerman then "disregarded the police dispatcher" and chased Trayvon as he was trying to return home, the records say.

Oh dear Lord, here we go again. First of all, if you listen to the 911 call Zimmerman made to the police, at no time does it appear that he was chasing Martin down. Following him, yes. But then Zimmerman comments that Martin is coming toward him. Also, as I've previously pointed out, the police dispatcher did *not* tell Zimmerman to stop following Martin. All the dispatcher said was, “Okay, we don’t need you to do that.” Zimmerman was not working for the Sanford P.D. and therefore would not have had to comply with any instructions. A dispatcher saying, “We don’t need you to do that” to a neighborhood watch guy is NOT the same as ordering him to stand down.

We should be able to trust the media. We want to be able to trust the media. But in the Trayvon Martin case “the media” has shown us just how biased and untrustworthy they are. Everyone assumes that they “know” what went down that night. And in reality none of us do. You can make up your own mind. Me, I’m going to wait for the trial.

Oh, and just so you know? In the interest of full disclosure, I found a picture of ace reporter Yamiche Alcindor! Here ya go!

What a fucking surprise.

03 April 2012

The Trayvon Martin Shooting Circus

Heh. So the news media are falling all over themselves so badly to get any angle on the shooting of Trayvon Martin that they are making fools of themselves.

First, NBC edited George Zimmerman’s 911 call to the police to make Zimmerman appear more racist. When called on it, NBC News went, "Oopsie!" and is now doing an “internal investigation” to see…oh dear!...how on earth that could have happened.

Yeah. Right.

Then ABC News originally aired some video showing Zimmerman being brought to the police station in Sanford, Florida. From that raw video, ABC News concluded…concluded! that Zimmerman was uninjured and that his story must therefore be bogus. Solved that case!

But then…

Someone at ABC must’ve thought better of it. Someone must’ve said, “Hey, you pinheads, surveillance camera video isn’t all that good. And aren’t we supposed to report the news…ohhhhh, what’s the word…ACCURATELY???” Whoever it was had the News Division see if they could clarify that video. Which they did. And guess what? Now ABC News is saying that, well…ahem…err, yes it does appear that Zimmerman has injuries to the back of his head consistent with his statement to the police.

What?! Why I oughtta…

Which leads me to ask: Why didn’t ABC News have the video enhanced BEFORE airing it? Or why didn't they simply wait until the police made public the results of Zimmerman’s medical examination after they got him to the station? Oh, right, ABC News was conducting ITS OWN “investigation.” Such bullshit.

Of course, no apology for their previous reporting was issued. Haven’t heard a peep from NBC either, the miserable bastards.

You know, I go on and on about Fox News and how horrible it is. But I am equally aware that the mainstream media also sucks. It’s appalling. The coverage of this shooting has been horrible. It’s a damn circus, is what it is. And it shows just how dangerous the “free press” has become: You cannot trust it. George Zimmerman doesn’t need a fair trial; he’s already had his trial in the media!

Since everyone and his brother are weighing-in on this, here’s my guess as to what will happen from here: Zimmerman was legally able to carry his gun that night. His description of the altercation with Trayvon Martin will be allowed to stand since the boy cannot testify in his own behalf. Injuries to Zimmerman’s head will back up his story, as will witness statements. Zimmerman will probably not be charged. A Grand Jury will conclude that there’s probably not enough evidence to convict him in a trial. This will lead to more furor and spluttering outrage from the black community. Hey, who was it that sang, “You can’t always get what you want.” Well keep singing it, baby!

Oh yeah, and did you hear that the New Black Panthers have put a $10,000 “bounty” on Zimmerman’s head? Oh yes! Read about it
HERE. Of course, they only mean a $10,000 reward for Zimmerman’s (cough-cough) “capture” – as if he were fleeing from the law. Which he isn't. But we all know what would happen if a group of angry black men came face to face with George Zimmerman, don’t we?

Race relations in the U.S. have been set back twenty-five…maybe fifty years. There may yet be more blood in the streets.

What a country!

UPDATE! April 3, 2012: Today, NBC News apologized for their "error" in editing of the tape. Read the report HERE.

01 April 2012

The Neighborhood Watch Guy

Call me crazy, but I thought that in this country you were presumed innocent until proven guilty? Apparently that is not the case with this George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch guy who shot Trayvon Martin, President Obama’s-son-if-Obama-had-a-son. The reporting of and reaction to this event is literally insane.

No matter who you talk to, no matter which newspaper you read or news report you hear/see, Zimmerman is presumed to be guilty of cold-blooded murder. The narrative is that Zimmerman hunted down Martin and killed him for wearing a hoodie while the boy was innocently walking home from a convenience store armed with a bottle of ice tea and a box of Skittles.

Me, I’ve got questions and plenty of them. Me, I’d like to hear the whole story before we string Zimmerman up. But here’s the deal: Only two people know exactly what went down that night and one of them is dead. So that’s a problem.

First of all, plug these coordinates into your favorite online map program: 28.792165, -81.331422. They will bring you to the Retreat View subdivision in Sanford, Florida. If you zoom in and look around, you’ll see car dealers, a school and a bank, but no convenience stores anywhere. So where was Martin coming from?

I’ve heard it reported that Zimmerman was “ordered” by the police to not follow Martin during Zimmerman’s call to 911 (which you can listen to HERE). Really? Not quite. The 911 Dispatcher asked Zimmerman if he was following the guy. When the reply was yes, the dispatcher in fact said, “Okay, we don’t need you to be doing that.”

So now my questions are: 1) Is the 911 Dispatcher a cop with authority to tell someone what or what not to do? 2) And what does the phrase, “We don’t need you to be doing that,” mean? Semantics, yes, but in my mind (and evidently in Zimmerman’s), the message is not so clear. To me it sounds more like advice, not an order. And let’s remember, it was Zimmerman who called 911 requesting police to respond in the first place.

People jump to some funny conclusions. It is generally assumed that Martin was hunted and gunned down by a lunatic, racist neighborhood watch guy. But one report I read said that the fatal gunshot wound was administered at extremely close range. Add to that the witness statements that both of them were on the ground with Zimmerman on the bottom. I am left wondering just what exactly was going on there? Zimmerman may well have been the aggressor, but what was Martin’s reaction? Perhaps Zimmerman really did fear for his life.

Which is probably why the police, who were on the scene fairly quickly did not immediately arrest Zimmerman, which ignited the public outcry and subsequent national furor. And now, more than a month after the event, even with all the protests and inquiries into the case by everyone up to and including President Obama and (of course!) Geraldo Rivera, Zimmerman still has not been arrested and charged. Oh, but he will be! Ironically, I think it will be nearly impossible for him to get a fair trial, if and when it comes to that.

And we do want Zimmerman to get a fair trial, don’t we? Well don’t we? The problem is, many people apparently don’t. It strikes me as doubly-ironic that guys like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are leading the lynch mob out to get Zimmerman. And you know what? That is a sad commentary on 2012 America.