Sunday, January 31, 2016

Thanks KAX.....

I just got back from KAX 3.0,  a conference where nobody talked about politics, religion nor the economy.  The gathering did not divide along lines of Democrat, Republican nor Reactionary, nor was there a distinction between Catholic, Jew or Buddhist. The only lines of definition were, Magician, Ventriloquist, Clown, Puppeteer and Balloon Artist, and even those labels were fuzzy.  Some in the group could claim membership in each category.  The concerns at this gathering were: how to become more creative and how to find more ways to express that creativity.

KAX is a place where imagination and artistry is discussed and deconstructed as much as one can quantify such abstracts.  The attendees have a wonderful respect for the masters of these variety arts and honor the elders who have gone before. The attendees are there to learn from performers who have "been there and done that". 
In the three days I did not turn on the hotel television once, and totally missed the Republican Debate. There was really no time to dissect social media, I was too busy talking to people who hear the same drum beat as me.  I quickly learned that this political firestorm which seems to be consuming the nation is really nothing more than a very bad television reality show.  The disgust that has been burning me up for the last few weeks is not internal combustion.  I have just been standing too close to a manufactured, man made (and televised) fire.  

Recently I have taken a few hits to my blog editorials as being too political and me personally for hating Republicans.  I realize now how easy it is to become trapped in the whirlpool of a 24/7 political news and think there is nothing else going on.  
After spending some time with "my tribe" at KAX, I realize that I have recently devoted too many blog posts to politics. My blog is called "The World is a Stage" and for awhile I was lulled into a stupor that this national Political Farce was the only production currently running on the world stage.  It is not, and with a little perspective I can see the tempest in a teapot is a ratings driven provocation - not a mature reflection of its importance.  
However, to the person who accused me of hating Republicans, that statement is not accurate. I don't hate Republicans, I hate hypocrisy, liars and those who try to gain power by fear and panic.   Those are not the exclusive qualities of any political party nor religious sect. I will disagree with principles of exclusion and hate no matter what label they are given, be it a religion or political party. Unfortunately in a desperate attempt to retake the Executive Branch it is the Republican Party that has decided to use division, hatred and fear as avenues to that power.  To paraphrase Shakespeare "a hater by any other name would still stink".  
And one other statement in regard to that accusation; to disagree is not the same as to hate, and to compromise is not the same as defeat.  Statesmanship used to be a process of working closely with those you disagreed with to find a common ground on which to stand. The politics of both parties has forgotten that this is the job of an elected official. They should attempt to represent America and all Americans, not just their party and their favorite lobbyist.  
So thank you Mark Daniel and Steve Axtell for inviting me to KAX 3.0. My prayer is that this idea of artists coming together for the common good will continue to grow in attendance and importance. For me it was the perfect antidote to the poisoned rhetoric of our national conversation right now.  Perhaps if the haters of the world would make the effort learn a couple of balloon ties, they would have less time to hate. Perhaps we need more "Poly Tricks" and less politics. 
As for me... I'm working on a balloon poodle right now. 
As you were,
Jay


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

State of the Union

Based upon those who have decided to run for his job, it will be a long time before we have another President who is as smart and articulate as Barrack Obama. Of course there are those readers who will disagree with me immediately.
In a country of such extreme polarization, I would expect that. There will be no compromise legacy for President Obama, there will always be those who dislike him. The burden of proof that the haters are not "racially" bias is up to them.
That is not to say I believe he has been the most effective President we have ever had. When one has to fight a congress of the less intelligent and totally inarticulate how much can a President accomplish? The country will never know what he could have done if congress had worked with him instead of against everything he did.  
One of the things I have grown to literally hate in nationally televised political broadcasts is the "instant poll".  That graph they run at the bottom of the page giving the instant reaction of selected party Representatives is ridiculous.  To watch the "red line" go down and the "blue line" go up in absolute partisan predictability is not informative nor helpful.  Can't we hold our opinions and our dislike until we have heard the entire speech? You don't judge a book but the cover nor do you decide if it is a best seller after the third sentence.  What is very telling about the graph is although the up and down of all the colored lines were instantaneous, the lines neither crossed nor touched at any time during the speech. What that means is: at no time did the "parties" agree on anything the President said, NOT ONCE, and not for even seconds. The parties did not agree on any part of a speech that at times became a Valentine to America. The "Parties" did not agree even in principle when the President reminded us that America is a country of a diverse immigrant people.  
Once again Supreme Court judges Scalia, Thomas, and Alito decided to show their contempt for the office of the President by refusing to attend.  The idea that the "independent judicial branch" of government would so obviously show their partisanship is appalling.  How can we have any faith in their ability to make fair, non-partisan legal decisions when they flaunt their political leanings so obviously? 
But to make up for the absence of the Supreme Court Stooges a Republican congressman from Ohio invited Kim Davis.  Yes, Kim Davis the Kentucky County Clerk who went to jail briefly for refusing to issue marriage licenses.  She was very much out of place sitting in the back of the gallery looking more and more like Dick Cheney in a long wig. In some strange way I felt sorry for her. It is obvious she is being used by the Right as some sort of statement, but is too naive or stupid to understand what is happening.   
A person no one missed at the State of the Union Address was Sen. Ted Cruz. Ted Cruz remains the most hated man in congress by congress. In a telling statement Mitch McConnell said the Senate would not make any statement about the Cruz birther controversy nor his legal right to become President.  When the question of John McCain's citizenship was challenged (John was born in Panama) the senate passed a motion that said, "John McCain is qualified to be president because he was born on an American Military Base."  
The Cruz supporters responded with a statement that he is running for President and could not attend the congressional speech.  Bernie Sanders was there; he is campaigning.  Marco Rubio is also running and is of the same Party as Cruz  but Rubio was in attendance.  I am not a fan of Rubio, but the fact that he and Sanders were both there shows they have some respect for the office they wish to hold,  is a plus in my thinking.  I have yet to understand anything Ted Cruz respects.     
Your turn. That's all I got.
As you were,
Jay








Monday, January 11, 2016

Making a Murderer: not a review...an indictment

Instead of bingeing on Football this weekend I binged on the Netflick series/documentary "Making a Murderer."  I didn't intend to spend the weekend with such a tunnel vision of entertainment options, but found I couldn't stop gawking at this story.
No spoiler alerts here. Since I binged alone with my iPad and earphones, I can't even talk about it here at the house till others catch up. The rest of the family is a little more temperate about how much television they watch at a time.  This doc has to be seen because it is a complicated story with so many twists, lies and deceptions that in the retelling some mind blowing details might be missed.  Simply stated, it is the story of small town justice so perverted it willingly and purposefully destroys  those who threaten the institutional power.  
I am a story teller. I know the power of film and the subliminal ability to shape any visual to the editorial philosophy you desire.  Good guys can be made to look better, Bad guys worse and facts distorted to be almost unrecognizable. I do not believe that "Making of a Murderer" is an unvarnished look at sterile facts.  We come away with the emotional tug that the director and film maker want us to feel. This is not life, this is art imitating life imitating a court room drama.  But even sifting through the filters placed on the editorial, there is enough to be very disturbing to me. 
I grew up in a small town, smaller than the one in this documentary. Watching it I immediately gave me a stomach ache at the memory of how small towns work or don't.  Small towns: where everyone knows everyone else, how they are interconnected and how "town opinion" can literally send you to jail for the rest of your life.  
The extensive coverage of several trials in this documentary also made my skin crawl. Unfortunately judicial misconduct and incompetence are not solely the dominion of small towns.  I have actually witnessed the same tactics first hand in a Van Nuys courtroom. Police, detectives, investigators and district attorneys  are not in the business of finding justice or discovering the truth. It is all about winning.  Getting a confession is the goal not discovering the truth.  They will lie, cheat, intimidate and coerce their way into getting the verdict they want.  It is easy to judge a place, "Based on this documentary, I am never going to Wisconsin ever again," when the stench you are smelling is coming from you own local courtroom. What happens to Steven Avery happens to poor people daily and country wide, there just are not film makers documenting those struggles. 
There are so many courtroom dramas on television and in the movies we think we know how the system operates, but what you see on film about courts is no more real than the space ships of Star Wars.  We all know that once a verdict is handed down, the lawyers have the right to APPEAL.  This is supposed to be the check and balance on a system run by imperfect humans who unknowingly and often times knowingly do not play by the rules. We think an appeal is a chance to have a third party look, objectively at a trial. In reality the appeal can be heard by the same Judge that handled  the original conviction.  Very few judges will admit there was something wrong at the trials they conducted and will not let the appeal move forward. That was the experience I had in watching my friend appeal a conviction in Van Nuys.  In the original trial which ended in a hung jury, and in the subsequent trial the judge had ruled so much in favor of the DA and crippled the defense with his rulings he just continued his hostile actions toward them in the appeal. 
I have never wanted to serve on a jury. So far I have come close but have never been seated.  Like dogs I believe lawyers instinctively know when there is someone unfriendly toward them in the area.  They will thank and dismiss me fairly quickly after we begin the interview.  That has always been just fine with me until "Making of a Murderer".  I realize now that I quickly get cut from juries because they know I see through their bull shit.  By not wanting to serve on a jury I am dancing to the very tune that these soulless bastards are playing. How can I call Bull Shit foul if I am not in the game? 
In a day when there is no confidence in congress, when there are Bozos running for President, and cops are shooting first and asking questions later, one would hope that our system of justice would function well enough to balance it all out.  Occasionally it does. But to really have some sort of influence on this Country, it has to do a much better job.  Maybe it starts with guys like me who should be serving on juries but don't.  
As you were,
Jay


Thursday, January 07, 2016

The EYES of Texas

As of the first of this year Texas became the biggest state in the union to allow, open carry.  
"Open Carry?" 
It sounds like some law that allows you to walk out of a bar into the street with a drink in your hand.  But don't try that, unless you're in New Orleans. If you walk out of a bar in Texas with a drink you could be arrested.   You can't be walking around the streets with an alcoholic drink it's just not safe.


Of course we know that the Texas "open carry" law applies to firearms.  On the surface it wouldn't seem that things have changed much in the Lone Star State. Texans have had the right to carry a concealed weapon for sometime now.  You need to get a permit. You do this by proving to law enforcement you need to carry a weapon because of your line of work or where you live.  Given the political temperature of Texas the mere fact that one lives in Texas could give you reason enough to carry a gun. Permits are no problem unless you are a friendless felon. But then again that permit is not like a drivers license.  There is a chance you will be stopped by a cop if you are driving an automobile.  He will ask you for your license. If you don't have one, you could be in trouble.  The gun permit is only important after that weapon has been used in some crime.  It is less of a risk to carry an un-permitted gun in public than it is to drive a car in public without a license, registration and proof of insurance.  
So, in Texas since last Friday you can carry any gun, (rifle, hand gun, semi-automatic) out in the open anywhere in public.  You don't have to hide it so people won't feel so threatened, you can just walk around Texas with a weapon like a soldier on patrol.  An AK47 is just a fashionable accessory when you're walking into KFC for a $20 Family Fillup Bucket. If you are holding a cigarette in that same KFC I can ask you to put it out or leave the area, it's a matter of my health vs your smoking rights.  But if you are holding a gun I can't ask you to unload it, put it down or leave the area. There is a constitutional loophole for the gun. But I see that gun as a threat to my health vs your gun rights as just the same as a cigarette. Eventually we will have some statistics to see if Live, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness increases under this new Texas law.  However, there has already been an ironic turn to the new law.  A Texan openly carrying his new pistol was showing it to a friend at a restaurant. He was robbed of the new gun at the restaurant in public, by another person with a gun.  Seems to me the snake is eating its own tail.  
If the NRA wants us to go back to the day of the old West when we all carried guns and settled our disputes outside in the street then things have to change.  Most importantly we have to know who is a bad guy with a gun and who is a good guy with a gun. In a moment of conflict and I am the one with the gun, who do I shoot? (You understand that I have cast myself as the good guy with a gun in this hypothetical. I suspect everyone does the same)  Carrying this gun in public means that I am comfortable being some one's  judge, jury and executioner in any surprise situation. And since sometimes the judge, jury and executioner get it wrong after a complete and complicated analysis of the situation called a trial, I really need to know who the bad guy is in a split second decision.  There needs to be a way that I can immediately determine the intent of a person with a gun.
If we are going to revert back to the old West to an open carry society, then movie Western rules have to apply. That's right a Cowboy hat has to be worn by anyone carrying a gun.  Even if it is a concealed weapon, a Cowboy hat will be issued with your permit and it must be worn at all times if you are in public carrying a gun.  In time of crisis those without Cowboy hats will rally behind those with the Cowboy hat. But here is the real game changer... The good guys carrying a gun will be issued a white hat and the bad guys who want a gun will be issued a black hat. 
Unfortunately there are a lot of Cowboy hats out there in all different colors. It would be too easy for a bad guy to get a white hat from say gang members selling them on the black market.  If you make it harder to get hats then only the bad guys will have white hats.  What if you just banned hats? You can't do that because we Americans have a right to wear any hat we want to. You can't just take away a Constitutional right because people are being killed by people in white Cowboy hats. Cowboy hats don't kill people.... Guns do. 
And now we are back to square one.  If there is a glut of heroin on the market we'll see an increase in heroin addicts. You can pass all the laws you want making it illegal to possess, sell or consume heroin but if there's a lot of it out there it is impossible to stop.  We have a glut of guns on the market. As long as there is a glut of availability then there will be an increase in gun violence.  There are no laws that can stem the tide of availability. 
When I was living in Texas I used to sing, "The eyes of Texas are upon you... All the live long day." Well, with your new social experiment with guns the eyes of everyone are now upon you Texas.  I will be interested to see who all lives from this long day.  
As you were,
Jay

Monday, January 04, 2016

Something on Line...

I found this on line.  I never knew it existed. Now I know why I was dismissed but had no idea an evaluation letter was sent to my insurance company.  I noticed that the date is before President Obama took office. 
As you were,
Jay

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Looking back on 2016


Welcome to 2016. While everyone is reviewing what happened in 2015 I thought I would take the time to talk about what has happened in this current year.  

New Year's Eve in New York's Times Square came off without a glitch. By that I mean any sort of terrorist threat was prevented.  The only disaster they could not avert was the broadcast appearances of Jenny McCarthy and Ryan Seacrest on ABC. These two people are so unpleasant to spend time with they call the special "Dick Clark's Rockin' New Years Eve."  The implication in the title tells you that a dead man would be a better host than these two.
The alternative was to watch Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper on CNN. Not much difference except I like Anderson Cooper.  However, not when he is with Kathy Griffin.  I am not a Kathy Griffin fan. Mainly because I have a well defined line between what I think is funny and what is annoying.  Ms Griffin falls on the annoying side of the line for me, causing Anderson Cooper to become a giggling chorus boy. But..neither Seacrest, McCarthy or Griffin would be technically labeled a terrorist attack. So way to go Homeland Security.
On the first day of 2016 the Rose Bowl Parade came off without a hitch here in So Cal. Locally Stephanie Edwards and Bob Eubanks have been hosting the parade for 40 years and they announced this was their last one.  Since I arrived in LA, Stephanie and Bob have been the only ones to "call the parade" on my various televisions through the years.  I have to admit, next year there will be something amiss when I turn on the parade, their voices are the Rose Bowl for me.  All of us local fans were all hoping that the "unspecified threats" to the parade this year would not detract from their swan song exit.  Fortunately it did not.  There were no social disruptions nor terrorists operations of the festivities.  Although I have a theory about that. 
Although I can't prove it, I believe there has only been one actual Rose Bowl parade this millennium, they just keep replaying it year after year.  Think about it. They look exactly the same each year. Stephanie and Bob are always saying the same things. Who won the Governors Trophy last year? What was the theme last year?  What was the theme this year? The only thing Pasadena has to do is get some good insert footage of the college bands representing the Schools playing in the Bowl later and they are set. These two marching bands are the only thing that might identify one year to the next. 
So, although Homeland Security will take credit for another victory over terrorism at the Rose Bowl... We are not sure it even took place this year.  
That brings us up to date for this year and what a great year it has been.  Unfortunately I have broken all but one of my New Years resolutions already.  Oh well.  
All the best,
Jay

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Hey, Siri? Ya listenin'?

Sidewalk at the Entrance of the North Hollywood
Police station...
I got a new iPad pro for Christmas. One of the new features on the current IOS is instant contact with Siri. After setting up a couple of voice pattern tests I "enabled" this function.  This morning I was able to simple say out loud in the direction of the iPad. "Hey Siri what time is it."  With no further need for my assistance like punching a button or booting the iPad up Siri said, "The time is 7:06 am, Jay." Now I admit, as amazing as that is, I could have gotten the same information easier by just looking at one of the three clocks I can see from my bed. However, since Siri is connected to the WWW I could just as easily have gotten the answers to much more complicated questions.  I found out that this hands free function is also available on my iPhone although I have never set it up and turned it on.  Supposedly, this function only works when the iPhone or iPad is connected to a charger, but the whole thing makes me wonder if George Orwells' 1984 has arrived and I should be addressing "Big Brother" not Siri. 
I am not a scientist but logically if Siri can respond to my voice any time it is plugged in and charging, that must mean it is always "listening" to the sounds around it in some capacity.  How else would it know to respond to my voice without any other prompt? Logically then, with the right wifi address or even serial number of my device anyone also connected to the World Wide Web could "listen in" just like Siri.  Theoretically my new iPad and my iPhone are the worlds most sophisticated bugging devices and I rarely leave my house without one or both of them.  Should I be worried that potentially I am allowing ease dropping of my own conversations on and off the phone? Heck no, this is America. It is illegal to do that without enough probable cause to get a Judge to issue a warrant.  Or not...

Over the Holiday's we watched the documentary "Citizenfour". It is a scary movie about Edward Snowden's whistle blowing leak and outing the NSA spying program.  Although I certainly remember the stir he caused, I never really understood what he was trying to expose until now.
This idea of "Metadata"- collecting every phone record, email, text, cell tower proximity, Google searches, sight visits and GPS coordinates of every American as well as perceived threats online is a complete invasion of my privacy. But to do that "Big Brother" would have to have to tag me with an electronic device that had the capacity gather all this Metadata and send it to Big Brother. What would some bug like that cost and how could a government get everyone in the United States to carry one. Well,  It is called a smart phone. Oh and by the way.... I paid for this bugging device myself and carry it with me voluntarily. 
We will never be conquered by a squad of jack boot brown shirts who march into our community and take away our rights.  We will gladly give up our rights to those we think are less evil than the people THEY claim are out to suppress us. We will become so scared of "the greater threat" that we will invite Satan himself into our homes if we think he can protect us. We are being ruled by the fear of "what if".  Remember this path of logical fear... What if Iraq gives their weapons of mass destruction to terrorists? We were afraid of that "what if" so much that we invaded a Iraq without provocation.  Oh and by the way... the weapons of mass destruction we were so afraid of... didn't exist.  Now we are being told to be afraid of the people who took over Iraq after we destroyed their government. When we get a handle on them we will find another "what if" to fear.  Maybe we should be more concerned about being spied on by the very people we thought were protecting us from that possibility.  
If you think smashing your cell phone, burying your iPad and dropping off the grid will keep you from being spied on, don't do it.  It's too late. Even if you don't have a smart phone on your person, the guy or gal next to you does and their GPS is on.  Oh,  and the security camera on that retail store you just passed, got a great shot of you.  
"Hey Siri...who is there with you listening to me ?"  I didn't get an answer because the iPad is not plugged in....RIGHT.   
As you were,
Jay