Friday, July 31, 2020

America's COVID-19 Response Under Trump

It helps to get peer feedback on your actions. Other people can let you know if your actions and decisions actually make sense to them. 

If these people are doing worse than you are, you might not care about their thoughts. But if they are doing at least as well or better than you, then you should listen to some things that they have to say. It has become painfully apparent that the US response to COVID-19 has been pathetic. Over 150,000 Americans have died. 

President Donald Trump has at various times claimed that he takes no responsibility, inquired about injecting or ingesting cleaning materials, called the virus a hoax, continued to emphasize the pandemic's Chinese origin, boasted that by this date the virus would have disappeared, dismissed medical experts, refused to wear masks or endorse the wearing of masks, blamed the spread on Black and Brown people, and said that too much testing is a bad idea. Trump takes all bad news on COVID-19 as a personal attack. Since Trump lacks the maturity to deal with bad news, he must pretend it doesn't exist.

All of this has been echoed and amplified by Trump's mini-mes in the Republican Party at the state and local levels. It might be useful to hear what some foreigners think of all of this.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Movie Reviews: Lights Out

Lights Out
directed by David F. Sandberg
This 2016 movie is one that showed that horror films can be simultaneously inventive and traditional. It was the director's debut. Lights Out shares its title with the famous old time radio show. 

Although it doesn't appear to take inspiration from the H.P. Lovecraft story, "The Haunter of The Dark" it still reminds me of the monster of that story, something that only appears when it's dark.

Lights Out lacks excessive blood and gore, gratuitous toplessness, or characters who do incredibly stupid things (well with a few exceptions) to serve the story. Lights Out goes back to the basics. There are many jump scares and what was that bump in the night shivers, but these are successful in this movie. Sometimes keeping stuff simple really does work best.

The film has a few information dumps but fortunately I didn't think those ruined the story. Unsurprisingly darkness plays a significant role in the movie. You could make the case that this film's title refers to darkness which is the absence of light and the metaphorical darkness which is what we experience with familial or romantic loss and depression. Here one darkness leads to the other. And both seem to be where evil thrives.

The movie's intro was like the intro to a lot of older Supernatural episodes in which the monster of the week kills someone or takes over their body. The Winchester brothers then have to figure out what happened and how to beat the bad guy. Well this movie doesn't have the Winchester brothers. 

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Responds to Ted Yoho's Insult

Bullies usually prefer to pick on people they think won't fight back. As a male bully, if you get too far out of pocket with another man, there is always the possibility that the man will take things to a different level. And that might not end the way you were expecting things to end. So it's better to pick on people that you think can't fight back, you know like employees or women. Sometimes even that backfires. Even though the target of your ire might not be able to rearrange your face and "learn you" some respect she can still make it clear to all who are interested what a piece of s*** you are.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) recently pulled the sheets off of Representative Ted Yoho (R-FL) for profanely insulting her.

Run with the Buffalo!!!

Bison and buffalo are actually different animals. I suppose if you are a zoology expert and got very close to a male bison in say Yellowstone National Park you could probably point out all the minor and major differences between the two species to a novice such as myself. 

All the same you should probably remember a few things. First, bison, particularly male ones, are rather protective of their herd, their land, their young, and their personal space. Second, if a bison should happen to become dangerously aggressive against any humans it thinks are violating its boundaries, I don't need to outrun the bison. I just need to outrun you.

A recent visit to Yellowstone National Park nearly turned into a catastrophic experience for two friends when they had to run for their lives when a bison charged at them. Video of the frightening encounter shows the moment when the bull starts chasing after the two women, who haven’t been identified, while terrified bystanders look on. 

Movie Reviews: Each Dawn I Die

Each Dawn I Die
directed by William Keighley
This was a 1939 crime movie that shades over into film noir territory. It featured superstars James Cagney and George Raft. 

Raft was the boyhood friend of notorious mob boss and hitman Bugsy Siegel. Raft had not only grown up around gangsters but also allegedly had spent some time on the mob fringes before finding success as a dancer and actor. Even during his successful reign in Hollywood, Raft maintained some friendships (and business relationships?) with mobsters such as Siegel, Lepke Buchalter (head of Murder Inc), and Mickey Cohen, among others. So Raft's work here as an imprisoned mobster certainly seemed to have the whiff of realism. Raft is cool, debonair and charismatic. 

There weren't many actors who could hold their own onscreen with the lightning in a bottle force that was Cagney but Raft was certainly such a man. And he did it seemingly without effort. Where Cagney is boom-zip-bam all over the place at 150 mph, Raft is laconic, behind the beat and as mentioned cool....

Michigan Beekeeper Explains His Work

It is strange how so much of what we consider clean or unclean is based on often arbitrary cultural standards. I don't eat honey as often as I used to do. But that has nothing to do with its origin as nectar which is stored by bees, partially digested, regurgitated, and altered until it becomes the substance we know as honey.

That doesn't bother me at all. But if you told me that tonight's dinner would be some lettuce that a cow had chewed on for a week or some crickets that you had gathered from the backyard last night, I would be disgusted. Cultural taboos are something else.

Anyway, a Southeast Michigan man explains below how his hobby/business of beekeeping works. He's working with bees that are somewhat docile, though not so docile that he doesn't wear a protective suit. It's good to know where your food comes from so that you understand how the natural world works.

Michigan Woman Sets SUV On Fire

Apparently some women have been watching Waiting to Exhale too many times without understanding that (a) setting someone's vehicle or other possessions on fire to express your disappointment with them is illegal and immoral and (b) gasoline vapors are just as flammable and as dangerous as liquid gasoline. 

I'm sure the next time one Ms. Sydney Parham decides to set an "acquaintance's" vehicle on fire she will consider using a fuse and/or ensuring there are no witnesses or surveillance cameras around. 

You learn all about such things when you go to prison, which is hopefully exactly where this nitwit is headed.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Movie Reviews: The Loft

The Loft
directed by Eric Van Looy
"If you don't like my loving woman, you sure don't have to stall/Cause I can get more pretty women than a passenger train can haul!"
This older film is an English language remake of the Belgian film of the same name helmed by the same director. It shares some DNA with similar late 80s and early 90s erotic thriller films starring such women as Shannon Tweed, Shannon Whirry, and Tanya Roberts among others. 

It tries to be a little smarter than such films but only briefly succeeds. The film can't rise above what I thought was a silly premise and a few wooden acting performances. It was a little fun until the melodrama became terminal, resulting in an ending that saw all involved competing to chew up the scenery.

As recent revelations about certain couples' private lives have shown, you never know what's going on behind closed doors. Certain people aren't meant for monogamy though they may otherwise be great spouses.
Some people would say that it's by definition impossible to be a good spouse, let alone a great one, if you can't devote yourself to one person, forsaking all others. It's in the freaking wedding vows, for goodness sakes. Some think that providing a stable lifestyle for the children and the spouse is all that anyone can expect, especially once the initial infatuation has disappeared. Some would forgive their spouse his or her (non-public) trespasses. Others wouldn't forgive a single doggone thing. 

Aurora Colorado Police Kill Elijah McClain And Make Jokes

So many Black men and boys are accosted, harassed, assaulted, and murdered by their local police departments that it's difficult to keep up with the numbers and stories. Somehow Black men and boys lack any patriarchal privilege to protect them. More on that later.

One August night in Aurora, Colorado in 2019, an anemic massage therapist and violinist named Elijah McClain was walking home from the convenience store, having just purchased an iced tea for his brother. Unfortunately Mr. McClain was Black. McClain was wearing some sort of face covering to protect himself against the cool night air. That was enough for some other citizen to call the police to report McClain as suspicious. Aurora's finest rushed to the scene and immediately choked out McClain as he begged for his life.  

The police called paramedics, who injected McClain with the sedative ketamine. McClain had a heart attack and died three days later. McClain was unarmed and as far as I know had no criminal record. Unsurprisingly the coroner claimed that the cause of death was undetermined, while the district attorney promptly declined to charge any of the police or paramedics involved. 

Move along folks, nothing to see here. We didn't kill him. All we did was cut off his airflow and overload him with sedatives. Him dying is between him and God. Apparently irritated by any grief over McClain's demise, some other police officers thought it would be hilarious to take pictures of themselves mocking McClain's death near a memorial set up to honor McClain.

Three Aurora, Colo., police officers have been fired over photos that show two of them grinning and mocking the death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old massage therapist who was arrested and placed in a chokehold last August. Mr. McClain died several days later.

Detroit Starter's Bar and Grill: Wear a mask!!

How often do you go out to eat? I used to do so at least once every two weeks or so. But with the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting quarantine orders I stopped doing that. Living is more important than that perfect Caprese salad.

Even with the slight relaxation of the governor's orders regarding COVID-19 I haven't gone out to eat. And I don't think I have any intention of doing that any time soon. The juice isn't worth the squeeze in my opinion. There have been a number of situations across the country where people have entered establishments without masks and confronted or been confronted by employees or other customers who are wearing masks. Some of these encounters have turned violent. Well in Detroit we do things differently. 

Instead of a scofflaw entering an establishment without a mask and demanding service, a woman wearing a mask entered a restaurant/bar and asked an employee not wearing a mask to start wearing one. This apparently aggrieved the bar employee so much that she started making threats of imminent body harm to the customer. Fortunately this time, it didn't come to that.

DETROIT (FOX 2) - As people get used to the mask mandate there has been no shortage of tension over who is or is not wearing one. The latest confrontation went down at Detroit's Starter's Bar and Grill bar when a bartender refused to wear a face covering. It appears to have been an isolated incident but Starter's is not taking it lightly. The employee in question has been suspended.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Donald Trump and Chuck Woolery are Evil Stupid People!

/sarcasm on
I don’t know about everyone else but whenever I encounter a strange new easily transmitted deadly virus for which there is no cure or vaccine I ALWAYS check with game show hosts, not doctors or scientists, to find out the real deal.

It gives me a warm happy feeling that our President is spending time retweeting game show host and certified nutjob Chuck Woolery instead of telling people what they could do to stay safe, asking scientists what they need to speed up vaccine availability, or reviewing some best practices from nations who have slowed transmission.
/sarcasm off

Donald Trump defended his retweet this week of Chuck Woolery’s claim that Centers for Disease Control officials and others are “lying” about the coronavirus. CBS News Catherine Herridge asked Trump, “You reposted a tweet yesterday saying that CDC and health officials are lying. You understand this is confusing for the public. So who do they believe? You, or the medical professionals like Dr. Fauci?”

“I didn’t make a comment,” Trump told Herridge. “I did. I reposted a tweet that a lot of people feel. But all I am doing is making a comment. I’m just putting somebody’s voice out there. There are many voices. There are many people that think we shouldn’t do this kind of testing, because all we do, it’s a trap.”

In a tweet on Sunday, Woolery wrote, “The most outrageous lies are the ones about Covid 19. Everyone is lying. The CDC, Media, Democrats, our Doctors, not all but most, that we are told to trust. I think it’s all about the election and keeping the economy from coming back, which is about the election. I’m sick of it.”

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Movie Reviews: A Good Woman Is Hard To Find

A Good Woman Is Hard To Find
directed by Abner Pastoll
This is yet another entry in the "slight woman is underestimated by everyone and takes bloody revenge" genre so if that theme leaves you cold then you know what to do. 

It is a little bit different than many other similar films in that the violence, even when deserved is NOT played for laughs or shown as explicitly being some sort of political statement. 

This movie does make a link between committing violence and being willing to stand up for yourself in some very dodgy situations but in some ways that's true in real life isn't it. Although we all hope not to, sometimes we run across people who mean us harm and simply won't be deterred by kind words or appeals to morality. 

There's only one language that they understand. Also the film spends a lot of time showing the basic challenges a young widow with two small children might face, whether it be dealing with her bossy judgmental mother or needing batteries in a hurry.

This movie is set in the UK. I think it's supposed to be in Northern Ireland somewhere but I am not familiar enough with the various accents to state for sure exactly where the events are taking place. That's not really that important. What is important is that Sarah Bolger (Sarah Collins) is an impoverished widow who lives on an estate (public housing). She has two small children, a boy and girl. The boy saw his father Stephen, Sarah's husband, murdered, and hasn't spoken since then. 

My Name Is Phuc Bui!

If you encounter a name that is difficult for you to pronounce the polite thing to do is to ask the person for the correct pronunciation and use it going forward. 

It is disrespectful to continually mispronounce someone's name after you've been told the correct pronunciation more than a few times. 

It's similar to being frequently mistaken for the only other Black man in your department when you differ greatly in age, height and looks, but I digress. 

Not every name in America will be of European origin. If Americans can pronounce Polish, Hungarian, or Russian names that are seemingly stuffed to excess with z's, y's, s's, and c's, if Americans know that Spanish generally lacks what we would consider a "j' sound and that Jose is pronounced "Ho-zay" and not "Joe-sie" then Americans can correctly pronounce names of non-European provenance.

Sometimes life imitates art. In the review of the film The Gentlemen I mentioned that there were jokes that were ethnically/racially based. The Gentlemen film used the exact example of what recently occurred to a young college student of Vietnamese origin, who like a film character, happened to have the name of Phuc.

A community college professor in Oakland, Calif., is on administrative leave after asking a Vietnamese-American student to “Anglicize” her name because he felt it sounded “offensive” in English. In a Wednesday night email exchange that was quickly shared to tens of thousands on social media, Matthew Hubbard, a professor in the Laney College mathematics department, repeatedly asked the student, Phuc Bui Diem Nguyen, to “Anglicize” her name because it “sounds like an insult in English.”

In response, Ms. Nguyen told the professor that his request “feels discriminatory” and that she would file a complaint with the school’s Title IX office if he could not call her by her given name.