Saturday, November 8, 2014

The World of Nancy Sinatra - Part 1


I've only known Nancy Sinatra from her hit song "These Boots are Made for Walking" and her duet with her father Frank, "Something Stupid". She always seemed to me to be a one-(or two)-hit wonder.

Thanks to internet radio like Pandora and others, I've found that Sinatra has a far wider recording repertoire. She collaborated with Lee Hazlewood (another discovery for me) on several albums that have a quite impressive and unexpected quality.

So, it's an oldie, but new to me!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Votes for Sale

What a boon!

Checks for $350.00 sent to middle class taxpayers in New York State, budgeted for last year, according to the checks themselves, have started to appear across the state. What a great thing in these cash strapped times.

But, what about the social safety net? Good full time jobs with benefits are still hard to come by. Welfare and Medicaid have been cut again and again. Wouldn't that have been a better use of $350 million burning a hole in Albany's pants?

Wait a minute. This is an election year! Could that have anything to do with the timing of this largesse? Of course it does.

Come November, six short weeks away, it would behoove the middle class voters of New York State to remember who's their daddy. $350.00 = 1 or 2 votes.

Thanks Andy C.! You are miles ahead but you've sealed the deal now. After you win the New York State Governor election, on your way to national office, try to remember that winning elections does not equal winning leadership. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Secession Obsession

The latest fashion trend in geopolitics is secession. It's all the rage, all over the world. Sometimes it's peaceable, other times it's violent, but it's the latest and greatest trend facing governments the world over.

Scotland is on the cusp of conducting a vote that would separate them from the rest of the less than United Kingdom. If they are successful in this pursuit, it could very well embolden areas of Spain, Canada, or the remaining elements of Great Britain. No one really knows what to expect if these secessions were actually to happen, but the uncertainty is not blunting the growing enthusiasm for self rule by small groups governed by larger entities.

Ukraine is experiencing the spasms of violent secessionary efforts, and it's nothing new in the Middle East, where tribes have fought against the lingering effects of colonial rule established decades ago. The disintegration of the Soviet Union over twenty years ago looks like it was a precursor to secessionary efforts now underway in even democratic countries.

No one saw that coming, but Quebec might certainly disagree with that.

In the last election cycle in the United States, there were some idiotic comments from some radical conservatives that Texas ought to consider seceding from the USA. Maybe it wasn't merely racist tripe, but just another manifestation of an embittered minority looking to breathe free and control it's own destiny on the world stage.

Well, no, that's not likely. Rick Perry of Texas and the clown car of Republican pretenders were just using the racist code words that played to their confused and racist base. But, leaving all that aside for a moment, what would it mean if the red states were to secede from the union? Unhappy and unwilling to live in a country that would elect a black president, or consider common sense gun restrictions, or provide health care to millions more than ever had access to it before, maybe the blue states should look a bit closer at the prospects of secession.

Without the red states, the blue states balance of payments would be much more in line. The poor red states, always giving lip service to self reliance and "freedom" from government intervention, are net takers when it comes to government support. The education systems of these red states are encumbered with factions of creationists and anti-science lunatics, and are unable to adequately educate their charges with knowledge to survive and thrive in the twenty-first century.

The economy of the blue states would improve without the drag of supporting the backward red states. Social programs would be easier to enact, women's rights would have no opponents of any consequence, and the freedom of safety from the threat of uncontrolled gun ownership would make day to day life more safe and fair.

The polarization of America is growing worse and worse. The Red/Blue divide is not just rhetoric, but a true schism in values, beliefs, and traditions that make the governing of this country a near impossibility.

Maybe the 600,000 deaths from the Civil War will ultimately prove to have been not the exercise in honor that so many look back at that horror and believe. Maybe it will prove to have been all in vain. When Abraham Lincoln sacrificed everything for the Union to persevere, it may be that those that have benefited from it will walk away from it less than two centuries later.

Sometimes trends are hard to spot until it engulfs you. Will the secession trend head our way, and if so, will the decision we make be based on how things are, or how we wish they were? 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Earworm Theater- The Quickening


Rescued a few years ago by The Big Lebowski, this nugget is notable for lyrics that one may have never heard before, or since. Yet, it sounds like it's sensible. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

And As For Fortune, And As For Fame

The New York Times article fairly well says it all. Mark Sanford, he of the "Hiking the Appalachian Trail" debacle of several years ago has split with his "soul mate" Argentinian mistress and ramblingly announced it to the world on his Facebook page.

In spite of his return to Congress, Sanford was and is a disgraceful hypocrite. A Republican "values" fraud fallen from grace, he's now seeking to legally gag his ex-wife from speaking ill of him.

Is it any wonder that this country is in the political paralysis it finds itself in, when skidmarks like Sanford can be elected and run unopposed for Congress.

We surely have the government we deserve.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

You Don't Know What You've Got 'Till It's Gone

As Derek Jeter's farewell season inexorably winds down it may be instructive to stop for a moment and examine the sporting world's landscape.

In spite of near universal admiration and outpourings of love, good will and sentiment, there are always a few amongst the crowd that claim that the "Goodbye Tour" is way out of proportion, has taken focus off the team, and may have hurt the playoff prospects of the Yankees, who are increasingly unlikely to qualify for the playoffs this year.

These murmurs of discontent, typically espoused by the most dyed-in-the-wool Yankee haters, has never been able to get much traction. Regardless of arcane statistics, what a baseball fan sees with their own eyes reveals the truth of the greatness of Derek Jeter and his accomplishments. As the curtain comes down on his triumphant career, let's take a brief peek at what we have to look forward to after this baseball season ends.

In the NBA, the Donald Sterling debacle turned out to be only the first of a series of odious adventures of sports team owners. Now, the owner of the Atlanta Hawks, Bruce Levenson, has come forward with his own take on racism, and is now exploring selling his team a la Sterling. He'll likely make a tidy profit, as Sterling did, but his worth as a human being has been decimated, as has Sterling.

The NFL is mired in another in a long line of player controversies. Ray Rice, now suspended indefinitely for domestic abuse, is just the latest example of NFL players misbehaving. From drug use, gun charges, and bullying, the NFL should more likely partner with various rehabs and law enforcement groups rather than Nike or John Deere.

Let's not forget those fun loving NFL owners either. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has entered into his very own sex scandal. Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder continues to defend the racist name of the team with Newspeak that George Orwell would be proud of. Jim Irsay, Indianapolis Colts owner has his own drug scandal to attend to. Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti "apologizes" for defending Ray Rice for knocking out his fiance.

None of these stories can in any way whatsoever be classified as "feel good". Why do we watch sports anyway, but to escape the sludge that is the daily grind? Nowadays, that escape is less and less available.

As for the Yankees, next year will begin the post-Jeter era. It will also mark the return of Alex Rodriguez from his year long PED suspension. With a player as divisive and controversial as A-Rod, next year promises to be grim as the press and many fans will be poised to pounce on Rodriguez for anything that goes wrong, even as the team continues to try to rebuild. It won't be pretty.

So don't mind me as I savor the last games of Derek Jeter, and be patient as I try to take it all in for the last time. There won't be many more feel good stories around these parts for a long while.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Coming to Their Senses

This past Sunday, the New York Times' Arts and Leisure Section, published it's Broadway Fall Preview. It was chockablock with full page and mult-page ads for several shows slated to arrive this fall.

It's always nice to see these splashy ads placed by hopeful and confident producers anxious to promote their latest offerings. What's even nicer this time around, is that most (but not all) of the big ads actually display the theater that each show will be presented in.

At first glance, this might be considered no big deal. It seems like simple common sense to put the location of the show you are spending thousands of dollars to promote. Strangely enough, this hasn't been the case lately.

Most recently, these newspaper ads, television and radio ads, and even billboard ads for shows have conspicuously omitted this information. The game being played was to steer ticket buyers to internet and phone sales that would have added commissions and fees to the purchase price of tickets for these shows. These added fees are not charged on purchases made at the box office.

I wonder why this trend seems to have stopped, at least for the ads I saw last Sunday, but it is unmistakably a consumer friendly development and hopefully it will continue. It isn't often that Broadway ticket buyers get a bone thrown their way, so it should be enjoyed, nay, savored, by those that prefer to buy tickets in person.  

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Mirage of Chris Christie

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie would like to be the next President of the United States. He's gone from being a Republican Conservative darling to defending the indefensible. But in the wild and wooly world of Republican Party politics, the clown car of potential Republican candidates shows that you can't really count Christie out, in spite of his record of failure and malfeasance.

He is still in a battle for his political life over the scandalous political dirty tricks regarding the closing of the George Washington Bridge.

He has been, and continues to be, a self righteous and bellicose twerp with anyone that challenges him or questions his motives or actions, particularly with his own constituents, but also with the press.

He has apparently diverted needed Superstorm Sandy recovery resources away from the towns and locales of his political opponents. He also used some of these funds to create an infamous collection of TV commercials touting Sandy recovery that, coincidentally, featured him prominently in these ads.

Now, he is presiding over the slow motion collapse of the gaming industry in Atlantic City. To be sure, the problems of Atlantic City predate Christie, but they were hardly a secret, and now in his second term, there will be four less casinos than at the start of his administration, and thousands of jobs will have evaporated.

At best, Christie is and has been an incompetent and ineffective governor, and at worst, he is and has been a malevolent, destructive and corrupt "me firster", that had no business being governor, and has no business being considered for President.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Mathematician Posits Magic Formula for Broadway Hits | Variety

Mathematician Posits Magic Formula for Broadway Hits | Variety

The magic algorithm is curiously missing from this article, but there is one thing that is unquestionably true.

If you are back testing any formula, you will definitely come to the conclusion you are looking for if you carefully omit any data that contradicts your thesis.

Stock market touts have been doing this for years, along with horse racing "handicappers'.

Hopefully, the author of this study gets the grade he's hoping for. And hopefully, no one will believe that there is any sort of "magic formula" for predicting Broadway hits or length of runs.

It doesn't exist.