Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Beat Goes On

Time for another therapeutic rant...it's cold outside and I'm hot inside. Here are a couple of things I need to get off my chest:

They released a list of all fifty states showing each state's debt per capita...not the personal debts of the state's people but the amount of state debt owed per resident. Free-spending Connecticut was highest at $4900 per capita while thrifty North Dakota came in at an astounding $15 per capita. Now you can argue that there's not much to spend money on in North Dakota, but that's only part of the equation. States like Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts and New York have simply lost track of the value of money and where it comes from. They whine about budget cuts forgetting that so much of their current bloated budgets are loaded with unjustifiable giveaway programs that have proliferated unchallenged for years. Maybe we should bring in the politicians from North Dakota and give them a crack at running these fiscally irresponsible Northeast state governments. I think the fat would fly.

There was an item in today's news about a Valley Stream man named Martin Heidgen, 29, who was the first drunken driver ever convicted of murder in Nassau County. His lawyer argued his client should have been charged with manslaughter, not murder, in the deaths of 7-year-old Katie Flynn and limo driver Stanley Rabinowitz after colliding with their limo. The basis for the appeal: his client was too drunk to commit murder and should be charged with the lesser crime of manslaughter. It could take the court months to come to a decision on the appeal. Heidgen is serving a sentence of 18 years to life in prison. Maybe they should release him early from jail just to give family members of the victims whose lives he took a chance to run him over.

Meanwhile, back in the courtroom, a foul-mouthed Brooklyn defendant, after being found guilty of murder during a botched robbery, promptly shot himself in the foot during his sentencing hearing. Zaire Page, 24, was hit with 107 years to life for killing Lethania Garcia and wounding four others in a brazen October 2008 Fort Greene shootout. Before getting the maximum possible sentence, Paige tried to get one last dig in at the judge, Vincent Del Giudice, telling him, "With all due respect and from the bottom of my heart, suck my d---." There's a sensible young man. I'll bet his appeal hearing will go well.

This one makes my blood run cold. Shannon Johnson, age 34, of Fort Lupton, Colorado was arraigned January 14 for her son’s death on September 20. He drowned in the tub while she was playing Cafe World on Facebook. She’s being held on a $100,000 bail for a felony charge of child abuse and knowingly or recklessly causing death. Unfortunately, it's not the first time we’ve seen a violent death related to Facebook addicts. One of the most trafficked posts of all time on Facebook: Alexandra V. Tobias, a 22-year-old from Jacksonville, Florida killed her baby for crying during a Farmville Game. I feel for these lost children, and even for their mothers when it dawns on them what they have done. People’s addiction to Facebook can have some very disturbing consequences.

Not a day goes by that a story like the ones above pops up in my morning newspaper and gets my pulse racing. I know there will always be evil, brutality, ignorance and incompetence in the world, I just wish there was less of it.


LOOKING FOR A WORTHY CHARITY? TRY THESE FOLKS: Children's Craniofacial Association

Monday, January 17, 2011

Man Up America

There's a creature called Jabba the Hut in George Lucas' Star Wars trilogy. Jabba ia essentially a huge blob who sits around his palace waiting for his minions to bring him food, entertainment and whatever else blobs need to get by. Sometimes I think modern man is on the road to Jabba-hood. If you look around, it's no secret that as a people we are definitely tubbier than our forefathers. We eat too much, exercise too little, and generally live life vicariously in front of our 54-inch plasma TVs. Our sense of adventure has been dulled by too much technology and convenience. We're spoiled to the point where we rely on government instead of ourselves. Contrast this vision of a fat, complacent America with the remarkable lives of those who preceded us in the greatest country in the world.

It started with the American Revolution against a monarchy that abused its colonies and bled them dry. Had George Washington not achieved the impossible by beating the world-class British army with a ragtag but passionate band of patriots, we'd all be having afternoon tea about now. If those brave colonials had the attitude that prevails in the average American today, many of them would have called in sick on the day George was planning to cross the Delaware. The common man in the 1700's was pretty uncommon.

The same holds true for the 1800's. Throughout the Civil war War both sides exhibited extraordinary courage . If there were bookies around back then, any bettor foolish enough to back the South would have received pretty thin odds. But those Southern aristocrats and farm boys alike, led by Generals like Lee, Jackson, Longstreet and Jeb Stuart came within a hair of winning it all. It wasn't just toughness that set them apart but their intellect. If you saw Ken Burns' PBS series on the Civil war some years ago, and heard the letters written home by 'common' soldiers with less than a grade school education, their eloquence was astonishing. By way of comparison, ever eavesdrop on a conversation when a local high school is letting out? I rest my case.

What about standing up to Germany in World Wars I and II the way Americans of their day did? Men lied about their age or disabilities so they could get into the fight before it was over. The women left behind pitched in by holding down critical defense manufacturing jobs while holding the family together, waiting (and praying) for Daddy to come home. Nobody firebombed their draftboard or hopped the first plane to Canada, they did what their country asked of them. This in no way diminishes the brave men and women who answer their country's call today; my beef is with those who enjoy the liberties this country offers, hard won on battlefields around the world, but who are content to let others do the fighting.

Would the West ever have been won by modern-day Americans. Doubt it. America's western border would probably be Pennsylvania if it was up to us. We whine when the heated seats in our SUvs take too long to warm up. We winge about having to wait in line at airport security, but call for the heads of whoever was in charge when some terrorist lunatic breaches the defenses. When we screw something up there's a rush to find somebody else to blame it on. MAN UP AMERICA and try to be worthy successors to those who paid the ultimate price so we could sit in Starbucks and sip out Mocca Lattes in peace.


LOOKING FOR A WORTHY CHARITY? TRY THESE FOLKS: Children's Craniofacial Association

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

MENSA Meeting Cancelled

My daughter recently gave me a book with clippings from her local Portland, CT paper, along with her funny comments on each story. We share an appreciation for the ridiculous things people do in life, proving once and for all that one commodity that we will always have in abundance is stupidity. I wonder what goes through people's heads just before they throw their hats into the ring for the annual Darwin Awards. Is there a thought process that can actually lead them to conclude that what they are about to do is a good idea? Do they lack that second sense that alerts most of us to the fact that skating past that "Thin Ice" sign is a poor decision? Here are a few of my favorites.

A 19-year old music student borrowed the cello of another student and then lost it. There are several actions the young man could have taken at this point to resolve the problem, but the one he chose was to stab the other student to death! Excuse me, did I miss connecting a dot somewhere. How in the wide world of sports do you go from losing someone's musical instrument to killing her? Fortunately the killing never took place. The the would-be killer fled the victim's home and deliberately tried to crash his car and kill himself. The local East Hampton Police Chief, clearly a master of understatement said: "This appears to be a unique situation." Well just in case it isn't Chief, maybe you should assign a crime code number to describe it. "Dispatch to car 54: we have a 219 in progress on Main Street (citizen threatened at knife point over missing cello). Please respond."

How about the guy who broke into a local home and was in the middle of looting it when the home owner walked in. Most of us, if placed in the situation this burglar found himself in, would mutter something like "Oh s**t, and run past the homeowner to our waiting car. This Einstein calmly walks out of the house carrying some stolen coins and continues strolling along on Middle Haddam Road until police arrive and pick him up. The burglar explained that he thought he was in a friend's house (that sounds plausible). So if I understand this, it's your friend you meant to burglarize! Police explained that there had been a string of burglaries in the area lately, and it was just the heroin addicts. Phew, I was worried there for a minute.

The Connecticut Lyme Riders, Inc. decided to host an 80-mile motorcycle ride through southeastern Connecticut as a way to raise funds for Lyme disease. Each participant and passenger was charged a fee to participate. So far, so good. Problem is the route of the ride included rest stops at The Pour House, The Lyme Tavern, Family Corner Restaurant and Ernie's place, all bars. Somehow I can't imagine a gang of bikers and their bitches sidling up to Ernie's Bar and saying: "Just club soda for us Ernie, we got a charity ride to finish." I love that these rugged souls took the time to schedule an event to raise money for a good cause. Just a suggestion here: maybe next year they should make Mothers Against Drunk Drivers the beneficiary of their efforts.

It's hard to find any definitive research on American IQ trends over the past 100 years. One study I saw on average IQ ranked the United States at number 19 in the world, behind such countries as China, Japan, South Korea, and most industrialized European countries. Just from what I see around me, I'll go out on a limb and say we're getting dumber as a country. My totally non-scientific research consists of reading stories in newspapers about the incredibly stupid things people do. I'm not talking about book learning here; our clueless educators have a solution to that problem...they just keep lowering the standards and patting themselves on the back. I'm talking about our population becoming so stupid that iron manufacturers have to put warning labels on their product cautioning users against ironing clothes while they are wearing them!


LOOKING FOR A WORTHY CHARITY? TRY THESE FOLKS: Children's Craniofacial Association