Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Nine Year-Old Girl "Learning" to Shoot an Uzi Accidentally Kills Instructor--Are You Kidding?

Arizona "accidentally" has lost its collective mind as shown in this
horrific story. The parents of a NINE YEAR OLD took her to
a shooting range where an instructor attempted to teach her
how to discharge an Uzi into a target, whereupon the weapon's
powerful recoil turned the gun on the "teacher". Was this
mortal lesson even necessary to anyone still in command of
their mental faculties (AKA good old-fashioned horse sense)?

Herewith  find the blameworthy, negligent and ignorant players:

(1) Her parents--why would they allow this slight young child
to even touch such a powerful weapon? I hark back to the day
when dads gave their 12 year-old sons a .22 and took them
out to the woods for some target practice. Are these parents
paranoid, heavily arming all in their household?

(2) The practice range--why would THEY allow this at all?
Were all at the range so woefully ignorant of physics that
they thought such a small child could physically and correctly
aim an UZI?

(3)  The instructor, who presumably handled many different
weapons during his career, should have refused to "teach"
this girl to use such an inappropriate instrument of death.
Sadly, he was the one who learned a lesson, losing his
own life in the process.

                       ARE YOU KIDDING?

OK, USA, get a grip. Your paranoid fears, fueled by
the news media and the entertainment industry, have
gotten the better of your good sense. Now that Conceal
and Carry is legal in all 50 states, we're seeing that too
many Americans have no idea about what they are
doing with these lethal playthings. How our enemies
must be howling in delighted laughter--we're doing
ourselves in, bit by bit, with this irresponsible return
to the Wild West, with ever more deadly firepower.

Keep those under 18 away from guns. The lives you
save may be yours, your young, anyone.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Jackie Robinson West T-Shirt Beats Anything Tommy Hilfiger Ever Made

$20 each is a bargain price for something so upbeat and winning,
those beautiful bright golden yellow Ts  emblazoned with the
squad's school name, Jackie Robinson West.  The 2014
United States Little League Champions (and second in the
world!) comported themselves with sportsmanship, grace
and dignity everywhere they traveled; no ugly spectacle
from any of THEM. These talented young people are
goodwill ambassadors from/for Chicago who can be
welcomed anywhere, based on their manners alone. 

Then there's Tommy Hilfiger, who charges beaucoup
bucks for his "designer" sports gear, worn by many
minority youths and adults, even though he once infamously
declared, with turned up nose, "I don't design my creations
for inner city youth". I saw and heard this interview,
televised in the late '90s. (Forget the urban legend which
casts Oprah Winfrey as the interviewer, Hilfiger as
spouting openly racist epithets...it never happened.
His "inner city youth" remark is bad enough!)

If I were to buy an important T-shirt, it would have to
be one with the JRW team name...

Whose T-shirt would you rather buy?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Chicago Power Politics Ruin Any Excellence at the CTA

Ever since "the Old Man" (the first Daley Chicago
Mayor) exerted his powerful political will and almost
single-handedly created the RTA in 1973, mass transit
in the Chicagoland area has been beset with many trials,
fueled in part by the 47 board members at all four transit
agencies, CTA, Metra, Pace, RTA. The RTA itself 
is a toothless tiger, exhibiting almost zero oversight;
the too-large number of  board members spread out
between the agencies spells doom for any cogent,
practical policy formation OR accountability.

Scandals and tragedies (Pagano's suicide after his
theft of  unearned vacation monies became  public
knowledge) abound; entrenched Democratic
and Republican hacks make self-serving, stupid or
delayed decisions affecting millions in Northern
Illinois. The latest pricey poaching from the public
kitty involves transit pension fund "conferences" held
around the U.S. at expensive locations, like 
Las Vegas and Honolulu, neither known as a
location for modestly-priced ANYTHING.

No one books a conference in Honolulu OR
Vegas to save money (-!). The "rigorous"
meetings of CTA pension officials across the
country cost taxpayers and the cash-strapped
agency a cool $60,000 beginning in 2010, not
revealed until the BGA sued for the spent
amounts and venues. (See Chicago Sun-Times,
August 24, 2014)

Hold your conferences in CHICAGO, CTA,
locus of all CTA policies, programs, etc. Find
a reasonably-priced place there, and BOOK it.
You will also have at your convenient disposal
The University of Chicago, Northwestern University,
et al., repositories of much-required information for
proper policy formation.

P.S. to CTA retirement plan and healthcare trust
pension officials: Find funding for your vacations
elsewhere! Taxpayers have better things to finance
besides YOUR good times.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Ferguson, Missouri: Following President Teddy Roosevelt

...Would be the best idea. He said that we must
"enter the arena" to improve our lives and our
nation. Without informed, effortful and active
citizenry, any community declines; we are seeing
such a phenomenon right now, with the racial
disparity on Ferguson's town council and its
local police force. 

An action-taking, involved, voting populace in
Ferguson might have prevented the wrong authority
cohort there, going back years, according to an
experienced friend of mine familiar with its history.
Researching the candidates, putting up a slate
reflecting awareness of and commitment to that
suburb's reality, needs, problems and goals might
have gotten more African Americans elected to that
council and hired on the police force.  Blacks staying
home, sitting on their hands has resulted in an almost
all White council and police department in a tiny town
(pop. ~21,000) which is 67% African American.

Like Diogenes, I've taken my figurative lamp
looking for light and truth far and wide.  One
striking realization is inescapable: success in human
or civil rights stuggles are never a permanent fait
accompli. Just laws, policies and practices must be
maintained, campaigned again for, at times, or they
will not remain. Granted, this is also an "inconvenient
truth"; we'd like to forever fix all the injustices and get
on with enjoying our lives under a more peaceful and
equitable regime...but it "takes a village", every day,
everywhere.

"Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty", an early 19th
century watchword employed by Frederick Douglass
and several U.S. presidents, was taken from John Philpot
Curran's speech in Dublin around 1790. (Jefferson did
not originate the expression, although he held similar
sentiments.) When we let vigilance slide, presuming
progress is permanent, we get ugly policies like Citizens
United, reinstituting unconstitutional barriers to voting
rights, and chipping away at reproductive rights.

Teddy would not be pleased.

    

Friday, August 15, 2014

Great News From Maliki and Missouri: Friday, August 15th, the Best News Day This Week

After some 90-odd municipalities across the U.S.
protested about the killing of Michael Brown and
the heavy-handed attempts at crowd control in
Ferguson, MO, calm was achieved there Thursday
overnight. --Good news, as authorities dialed
back their ugly spectacle of  tanks with military
weapons drawn, choosing instead to walk with
the protesters, wearing regular uniforms without
guns displayed. --Oh, and a promise to release the
name of the officer who shot young Mr. Brown,
18.  One only prays this technique becomes a
nation-wide precedent, looking like the "serve
and protect" mission motto affixed to police cars.

Overseas, Iraqi President Maliki, FINALLY
bowing to his people's will after great bloodshed,
has resigned. --Fantastic! Now if they themselves
can conceive of consensus building, bringing Shiites
and Sunnis closer together via deeds, demonstrations
of  respect, they will actually form their own nation,
never truly having been one before. (-Like several
other Middle Eastern "states", Iraq's map was crafted
by outsiders, Western imperialists, not by its people
inside.)

Also FINALLY: Help from elsewhere enters the
Kurds' potential genocide, stemming the situation in
Northern Iraq. --Great! But this should have been
accomplished by Bush I in 1988-1991, when we
were over there anyway, saving Yemen. In 1988,
Saddam Husein was killing Kurds (children included)
with chemical weapons...so where were we? Back home,
preening about how we won a limited, ~90 day war, etc.
Shock and awe indeed. Or was it firecrackers and flares?

And if Putin can be believed, that white truck convoy
heading west into the Ukraine MAY really contain food
and other relief aid, rather than being a Trojan Horse
maneuver to bring weapons to Russian separatists.
We'll see...if the contents are arms, how stupid can
the Russians BE, irrespective of  any reaction to
such silly propaganda? We will know, so--credibility,
anyone? It matters a great deal, tangibly and otherwise.

Today the Sun is shining in Chicagoland, the air is warm
yet not stifling, and some of the news has truly been good.
Let's have more of that!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Privacy Practices, Issues and Robin William's Death

Mark Zuckerberg was almost right when he loftily
proclaimed "Privacy is dead" from the heights of his
early success, which continues. I excoriated him for
stating such a blanket, blatant "truth" (-obvious only
to him). I have locks on my door, metal blinds on
my huge windows, and only physically admit anyone
already known to me...therefore, anyone with such
practices actually HAS some privacy. In public, there
is NO legal, logical, moral or practical expectation
of privacy, despite many individual, impassioned and
irrational claims,  whines and overt outrages to the
contrary. "In public"  includes the web, sites, visits,
even, apparently, emails, etc.

But the helicopters over Robin Williams'  home in
Tiburon, CA, courtesy of ABC TV, added to all the
other intrusions into his family's sorrowful space
is, frankly, beyond the pale. These sorts of insensitive,
uncivilized behaviors verge on voyeurism, which unwitting
Americans too often aid and abet, funding/viewing violent
videos showing way too much sex (--what's wrong, can't
"get enough", so watching it "works"?--Ugh).

Why do we need to know anything more than
"Mr. Williams committed suicide." ?  Why does
the public need to see sad pictures, hear toxicology
reports, etc., in exactly the same ugly media circus
we were treated to when Pop artist Michael
Jackson died? I have a disquieting, disgusting
answer:

In addition to being like ants in actions of mass
formation violence or sport (--see Dr. E.O. Wilson,
Harvard entomologist), we also resemble German
Shepherds, admirable, intelligent mammals except
when it comes to being entirely too ''nosy". -Have
any of you dear readers ever been on a sidewalk
when sniffed between your legs by a Shepherd?
That IS an invasion of privacy, an exception even
though it occurs in public. Similarly, the hunger to
know intimate and/or unfortunate details of others'
lives is emblematic of our more primitive, darker
sides, aspects of the human personality better
left unstimulated unnaturally, artificially.

But, to paraphrase Tina Turner yet again, what's
dignity got to do with it? So, stimulate the area
of the human mind, the paleomammalian area,
primitive structures indeed, responsible for
repetitious wars and overpopulation. Behaviors
encompassing empathy, civility, according
dignity and respectful privacy to others do
NOT emanate from this area. (-!)

Desires for fame, wealth and attendant ambitions
propel such ungracious, ever-accelerating media
methods and its large gaping, contemptible, chattering
audience. All this is an unholy catch 22, causing needless
suffering, unsupportable to the finer minds among us.

--HEAR ME-- leave Mr. Williams and his family
ALONE. He helped many, delighted millions,
deserves dignity in death. Individual lives and pain
still matter, some still feel; I am one of them.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Israel's Face-To-Face Military Technique in Gaza...

Is only employed when it suits them.  Cowardly and bullying in
quashing the Gazans (-Stop saying it's merely about Hamas, the
world rejects this claim of yours right now).  I pointed this out
in my last post, BEFORE the news reports that an Israeli soldier
purportedly had been taken by Hamas. And how did Israel
manage this thorny problem militarily? By boots on the ground
in Gaza, cordoning off  fairly sizable areas, then going house to
house (i.e., face-to-face) in search of their comrade.

Indeed, Israel might have devised a similar strategy which
COULD have been used to determine exactly where Gaza's
rockets were stored, saving civilians, especially children.
But nooo (John Belushi famously said) let's just bomb 'em,
they aren't worth such effort, they are less than ourselves,
etc. Bebe can mouth calm "verities" all around the media, but
actions are anybody's yardstick proof of truth.

Memo to Israel: is this really what you want? --To emulate
a Nazi-like superiority, bullying, genocidal game? It sure
as Hell looks like it. Yes, Arab extremists of many stripes
have committed more than a few atrocities of their own,
just as extremists everywhere have done...so you're
joining this infamously long list of shame?

Apparently some nations are getting wise to your
own, obvious horrors; the U.K. is reportedly
stopping military aid to you, Mr. Netanyahu--
yahoo! [A triple meaning here: (1) your name,
(2) a shouted hurrah, (3) a man without a clue, you.]

Hey now: what a wish, quite making my year, if the
U.S. joins the U.K., stops sending weapons to Israel--
and everywhere else. We often guess wrong, showing
our lack of sophistication in matters outside the U.S.
(-inside too, come to think of it.)

"Face-to-face" would show some grace in such
a place, winding down a war with fewer children
killed, a better write up in histories to come...
come on, no thought to your legacy? There is
more to survival than military techniques.