Random Thoughts 2006
NOTE: The following discussions contain some strong opinions. If you don't want to read controversial, personal opinions, please do not read on. I do not like "knee-jerk" liberal or conservative philosophies. I try to be open-minded, but certainly have my own biases. I hate "political correctness" and tend to overreact against those who practice it. - Bill McArthur
"Peace on Earth, Good Will to Man." Leaders of the nations of the world, take note: stop the killing, stop the xenophobia.
The White House has decided not to talk about "staying the course" in Iraq as it looks like they are going to "cut and run." No wonder most of the world hates America. I wonder what we could have done with all of the money and lives squandered on Bush's war?
The outcry over Congressman Foley, a public pedophile, is partly politically motivated, but there are some genuine issues here:
Accordingly, I find President Bush at fault for his rush to encourage toleration of Speaker Hastert, who should at least soon be ex-Speaker and maybe should soon be ex-Congressman. Why do people in leadership positions think that they can get away with cover-ups? My advice for voters this November: vote the scoundrels out! Send a message to wannabe Dictator Bush that we're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore.
I saw "Clerks II" today in a theater lightly filled with Kevin Smith junkies. While waiting for the show to begin, I could hear the dopers and other slackers, mostly much younger than I, chattering about the other classics ("Clerks", "Mallrats", "Chasing Amy", "Dogma", "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back"). I think that I could hold my own with most of them with knowledge of the films and number of times that I've viewed each. The new entry fits nicely in with the rest of the works. I have only praise for the effort. Each of the returning characters acted consistently with past appearances and the new characters fit in very well. It was great to see Ben Affleck and Jason Lee in cameos. I hope that the DVD comes out soon and look forward to many more viewings of this great work of art. The most amazing part of the whole experience was that my wife Cathy enjoyed the film also; this was most unexpected. So guys, get out to see it, and think about bringing your wives or girlfriends (or both) with you.
I continue to be amazed and dismayed at the situation in the Middle East. The U.S. has had a heavy hand in all of the pain and misery in that region, but has seemingly gained nothing in return. I think that we should bring all of the Israelis to Florida, give Israel back to the Palestinians, and then do our best to bring each remaining country up to the living standards that they can afford. In return, we will earn our oil. Our current policy is the worst imaginable.
Wow! I'm 66 today. What an old fart!
I went to see The Da Vinci Code yesterday during a nor'easter. The worst thing that happened was when my wife Cathy shook me awake as I napped about 10 minutes into the movie; I should have slept through. It's funny how one associates things. I thought about Bonfire of the Vanities, another great book rendered into a lousy movie. Both books were page-turners that kept me awake later than I would have liked as I read them in bed. Both movies starred Tom Hanks, who just couldn't produce the gravitas required for the Da Vinci role. Sean Connery, Peter O'Toole, or Russell Crowe would have been better choices. Also, instead of taking the female lead from the list that includes the Olsens (which twin has the pukes?) and Tom Cruise's couch-jumper cutie, the casting people should have looked at Charlise Theron or Uma Thurman. The French cop made me think of Casablanca and Les Miserables. To play an Opus Dei fanatic, a much more sinister character actor, such as Alan Rickman, should have been used. For the part of the evil bishop, they should have cast one of the hundreds of defrocked, child-abusing priests who are looking for work. To sum up my criticism, they should have made Name of the Rose II instead of Bonfire of the Vanities II. Ron Howard was wonderful as Opie and he's made some good movies, but he wasn't up to this task. Too bad we'll never see a proper version of this movie.
On this devilish day, I'm thinking about George Bush's push for a ban on same-sex marriages. Let's think about the supposed sanctity of different-sex marriage. For example, how sacred are the unions of Jolie-Pitt, Holmes-Cruise, Latest-Trump? Without judging these folks in any way, these folks approach marriage in the same way as the dolphins that cavort in front of our house. I'm not sure that we can do anything to weaken this "frivolous" end of the marriage spectrum. On the other end, we and several of our friends are blessed with unions of over 30 years. There is plenty of room in this continuum for other variations of the theme. In my neighborhood, many of the cohabitating couples (different sex) aren't married, by choice. With all of the evil that is taking place throughout the world, much of it caused by our country, why do we want to prevent good people from choosing to form legal unions? I think the answer lies in the evil that can come from organized religion. The devil has to love this situation.
I read a column in the Philadelphia Inquirer today by a member of Opus Dei. The radical ideas expressed bothered me as much as the rantings of Osama Bin Laden; both are religious fanatics, and as such are dangerous men. It's too bad that these radicals are so vocal. How nice it would be to hear from a Universal Unitarian, for example.
Things seem to be heading for an unstoppable civil war in Iraq. The "insurgents" know how to get a very volatile populace stirred up and chaos is their goal. Time to leave?
Governor Corzine has finally done something about the state's geographical divisions. I have believed for many years that "South Jersey" is the conjunction of Cape May County, Absecon Island, and Brigantine. All else is "North Jersey", except for the Philly suburbs near Cherry Hill, the stinking Meadowlands where I was born, and the remote mountains of the northwest. To make things simple, I am willing to group 3 of the areas into "North Jersey". I was on a bike ride into Cape May recently and found the new north/south border on the top of the West Cape May Bridge. I think that the governor's idea is a bit too radical, but it is certainly better than referring to Trenton as being in "South Jersey".
March Madness is down to its final weekend. My team, Villanova, self-destructed, so my enthusiasm slipped a notch below that of Dick Vitale, but I'm still interested. Here are my picks for the weekend:
Wow! I almost missed a month in my posting. It's hard to generate an excuse, since I don't work and there's plenty happening in the world worthy of comment; so I won't bother. As I write, the hot topic is "illegal immigrants", or "undocumented workers", depending on one's philosophy on the issue. I'll refer to them as "migrant workers" to try to discuss the matter objectively. Our son Bill thinks that an economic analysis should show that the migrant workers are a positive influence on the U.S. economy. However, there are many reports that local communities are finding the costs outweighing the benefits. It's hard to argue with those that want to enforce border security, but we should all be working to alleviate the pressure on our border with Mexico. Something is terribly wrong when people on one side are proposing a wall of separation, and people on the other are literally dying to cross over. There are lots of lawful immigrants in the long process of naturalization; we have to be careful to be fair to them. There are lots of lawful taxpayers; we have to be careful to be fair to them. There are lots of racists; the hell with them. Some version of the proposed "guest worker" program is probably the best solution for the estimated 11 million migrant workers in the U.S. We need to eliminate the underground economy somehow, but it will need to be phased in so as not to shock the above ground economy. My main point is that we need to eliminate the emotional part of the discussion, so that the best program can be designed. One thing for sure, we all should learn to speak Spanish.
We enjoyed watching the Turin Winter Olympics on NBC. I can't stand to watch commercials on T. V., so I have eschewed watching network T. V. shows for many years. For example, I never watched a single episode of "Seinfeld", even though I'm sure that I would have enjoyed its content. Back in the '60s, my father, an electrical engineer from Penn State, installed a switch on the table between his and my mother's Lazy-Boys to kill the sound whenever a commercial appeared on the T. V. set. Back then commercial interruptions were infrequent and not so time-consuming as they are now. There is no reason for you to believe this, but about 20 years ago I dreamed of a TiVo-like design using several magnetic tape machines and some serious computer power. I knew then that there could be a way to watch commercial-free T. V. I paid $100 for a T. V. package to view the Summer Olympics of 1992. I got 3 simultaneous channels of coverage, each offering 12 hours live from Barcelona, and 12 hours repeat coverage. I remember working on my computers all day with T. V. monitors spread around with constant commercial-free coverage of most events. It was an awesome experience, but a financial disaster for NBC and Cablevision. So how did I survive these Olympics? A dual-tuner DVR from Comcast allowed me to record each night's high definition show starting at 8:00 PM. Meanwhile, we could go out for dinner or watch a movie on DVD or watch some other show on the other T. V. tuner. About 9:30 PM, I would start to watch the ongoing recording at its beginning. With my 30 second hyper-jump commercial zapper, I was able to quickly skip over all commercials and just watch the content of the coverage. I discovered something very interesting: there was an equal amount of time spent on commercials as on coverage! So, I was able to finish my viewing at just about the same time as the show was over in real time.
I have developed a skill almost as useful as my being able to shave with my eyes closed. With my dual-tuner DVR I can watch a couple of morning hours on NBC and CNN in parallel without watching any commercials. The trick is to use the "pause", "tuner swap", and "commercial zap" functions. The downside is that I have to keep one hand free for the remote, but it's a fun way to watch T. V.
South Dakota stepped up be the state that I described in my post of 01/23/06, but they changed 'slight' to 'extensive'. I imagine that their legislative halls look and sound like the streets of the HBO show, "Deadwood". Now they'll be known as the state of both Custer's and Roe v. Wade's last stands.
How about that Olympic loser Bode Miller? He used our tax dollars to party himself out of shape and has no remorse. Cut him off from the tax dole, I say, and let him party on his own funds.
A couple of thoughts on the shooting accident Saturday, where VP Cheney shot a fellow hunter: will Cheney be subject to torture? Was he shooting at Scooter Libby?
There's a big uproar in the muslim world about about some cartoons that have appeared in European newspapers. I would think that these people have better things to worry about, such as how to pay tuition for college for their women. Here is a comprehensive website on the issue.
It's been quite a while since I've posted anything, but I've been thinking about a number of issues: