Saturday, December 10, 2022

Let's Make a Deal - An international diplomacy critique

This is a political post

There is a lot to unpack with the trade to get WNBA star Brittney Griner out of a Russian gulag.

I mean, it is truly amazing how I'm just finding out so many regular folks do a lil' international diplomacy on the side. And how they all suddenly appeared on social media swearing this was a bad deal. Well, in MY side capacity as an quasi semi kinda pretend international diplomat, astronaut, chef and chicken plucker I disagree. So let me tell you why.

First, this was the only deal on the table. This wasn't a maybe I can talk them into more, this was Griner or nothing situation. And like a coach trying to figure out do you take the field goal or go for the touchdown or fourth down, you take the points. Sure the ones we talk about go for it all, but the guys who win consistently year after year send out the kicker. Here, the points were getting at least one someone home. I've seen the article which indicated that at one point it maybe was one or the other - at which point I'm almost certain the ask was for both. Because a two-for-one is a good trade. Theoretically. But even if it was that fabled either or situation, why would you take the trained "soldier" and leave the citizen. I mean, that's just bad business.    

Then, the other half of this, claiming Viktor Bout is the "Most Dangerous Man in the World." Yes, and Micheal Jordan is the "Greatest Basketball Player in the World." And while it arguably was true when he was in his prime, in real terms it's been a long time since Viktor was in the gym shooting free throws. Bout was taken into custody in 2008, so it's been almost 15 years since he was truly connected. I'm only a geopolitical expert on the odd Tuesdays but I'm pretty sure whatever channels or networks Bout had in place have long since evaporated. Guys like him got their power from knowing who to call or where to go to get what was needed. And all of that, all of it, has changed since he was last in the game. Yeah, I'm certain he's still knows a guy or two who is doing something, but most of his resources are gone if not completely usurped, the circles he operated in have collapsed, transformed or shifted, and a lot of new players would happily knock him off for s-and-g on three ruble bet. He's still dangerous, but I doubt he'll be able to return to his previous level of infamy simply because getting back in just ain't easy.

(Note: Bout's main hook was that he used to sell surplus Russian gear. Well, unless he's going to Ukraine to pick it up where the deserters dropped it, he's got a minor inventory issue I don't see him fixing.)   

And finally, if this "trade" upsets you, congratulations, you've just been played. Because if you think for one minute that the Russians didn't calculate the outrage over a "black gay athlete" going home while a "former Marine" was "left behind" when setting this up then this is your first day. Framing is important here. I keep seeing it as a portrayed even in US media as the government freed a druggie black lesbian athlete over a proud US marine captured behind enemy lines. Why not say that a Two-time American Olympian freed from a hellish gulag? She hates America conservative pundits scream, because she knelt for the national anthem. But this is America, and believe it or not hating America is allowed because we have that thing called freedom. Remember that? Also, why no mention of why that proud US Marine is even in custody, er I mean former Marine. I mean aside from Whelan having been dishonorably discharged for stealing, lied about being a police officer, was arrested on espionage charges, had four passports, well, obviously the situation is exactly the same as some empty cartridges that once held some weed? Why have we taken to referring to him only as "former Marine"? While technically true, it seems like some people in the conservative media are trying to push folks buttons instead of inform them and let them make up their own minds. You know, like the slogan says.

In any case, Brittney needs to get her a big pizza, roll up one and relax. And I for one ain't mad.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Gotta get your mind right...

Ramblings Post #408
I dunno even know anymore. The days all seem to mush together. The weather is all wonky. When I laid out my complete and total plan for how my life was supposed to go when I was in the fifth grade, sitting at home playing video games wasn't on my list. Mostly because at that age, the only video game was like PONG or something, but totally not the point. There were supposed to be yachts, penthouses and jets, and I supposed to be up for my fourteenth Oscar or something. Okay, I had a good imagination as a kid. Dream big.

Next year I'm stepping outside of my comfort zone. It's pretty comfortable in here, but you can't grow in your comfort zone. And I need to grow. I mean, at this point I need to do something, I've gotten pretty damned lax. So we're gonna get up off our ass and do...something. 

I want to wake up in a villa by the beach and drink coffee as the tide rolls in.

I want to eat foods I've never even heard of while sitting in a country I hadn't been to, with the people who made it.

I want vistas and sunsets. I want guitar solos and singing at the top of my lungs the words to song I don't even know.

I want to dance. 

I want to see the places I told myself I would go when I wrote my bucket list some 30 plus years ago. 

And as much as I wanted someone to share the adventure with, I see now I may have to go it alone. 


And I can't do that from the comfort of my couch.

Oh, and I'm gonna get a new couch!

Barkeep. I'm gonna need a flask. Full of whiskey.


Friday, October 28, 2022

I need a break...

Ramblings Post #407
Where will you be when you get where you're going? This was a question asked by an old country comedian Jerry Clower. It's one of those things what with his accent just sounded funny, but is more a question that makes you question yourself. We wake, wash, work and waste away in this funny little thing called life. Do we know where we're going? Will we even know when we get there? And how much to get in? 

So yesterday I took a sleep.

I had my usual day. I'm ranching from the house, so I logged in early and got started. My breakfast was a pair of sausage biscuits. Not the big ones like fast food places make, but this little one I found that you can microwave. Now I take them out of the package and quick fry them and put them back in the bun because I'm extra. And with the right seasoning and a bacon press they taste like the sausage biscuits from this little spot in my home town. But I digress. And lunch was a salad, my now usual at least four times a week. Ruff-agê!

After work I was a little tired. Okay, a lot tired, I started nodding off in front of the computer while I was playing games instead of actually working on something towards self improvement or something that might make me some money. It's been that kinda season. Ugh. But I was down bad. I'd grabbed a small bowl of Crunchy Cheez Doodles to tide me over until dinner, which was supposed to be chicken curry, but I wasn't going to make it. So I figured, a quick thirty minute nap. I put the iPad on some light jazz, crawled on the couch and pulled up the throw. It was about a quarter after Seven.

So at when I awoke at One AM I was a wee bit confused.

Okay, no, I haven't been getting a solid eight hours lately. One rabbit hole after another on the internet, dumb games, etc., AND no I hadn't been eating right lately, you leave the house to run an errand and the burgers start calling my name. So too much red meat, not enough fish and chicken, and too much sugar because red velvet cupcakes are from hell. I've been pushing it lately not achieving. So maybe I just needed it.

Still. Damn. Hell of a nap.

Barkeep. Tall glass of ice water. I got gaming to catch up on! Okay fine, some work. Ugh. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Under the sea. They're there too.

Ramblings Post #406
Long is the night, the sounds of traffic and the city outside my window, the last of the summer air hanging about my house. Quiet reigns, and in the stillness the weight of years presses down upon the soul and mind drifts back along the halls of memory, looking for something. It finds words. It's always the words there, waiting to dance, scurrying about, waiting to sing, waiting for me.   

There is so much to unpack here.

Just as my feed became dotted with collages of images of young black girls - and some older black girls - excited to the point of tears of seeing The Little Mermaid's Ariel as portrayed by Halle Bailey, as if on cue, triggered by the idea of some iota, some of a sliver of joy for someone other than themselves - those people arrived. You know who I'm talking about. And in my feed I found where someone had pointed out this comment. And honestly, it begs the question.  

Why would changing this character "fix" the whole movie?

I once theorized in long ago entry that one day something like this would come pass for the film industry. Where the tech would be so good you wouldn't really need actors, just the specs of the people you wanted in the film, and we'd be able to create films whole cloth for a few thousand dollars that looked like they cost a many millions to make. Of course that cheap price tag would be bootleg, as famous actors (or just beautiful people) would definitely charge big bucks to license their images just like now. And I imagined studios remaking films from the libraries with actors who previously could never have worked together, like a prime Marlon Brando co-starring with a young Humphrey Bogart and Brad Pitt in something together. I follow a guy on Instagram who makes posters and everything. It's pretty cool.

But in my naivete, I missed this concept as a possibility.

In retrospect I should have been able to put to the pieces together. There are already a few firms that specialize in sanitizing films for religious audiences, Ala edited for TV only in those cases edited for sin. And the ongoing shenanigans over the very existence of non-white folks in fantasy settings, where people are okay with dragons, magic that works and demons but draw the line at black people. I mean, that's just too unrealistic. And I know that new generation deep fakes which are going to be a real headache for politics in the future. So the idea that somewhere a guy wouldn't work overtime to remove what he might see as "undesirable elements" from his favorite piece of cinema shouldn't have been a stretch at all.   

Why would changing this character "fix" the whole movie?

It's the use of the word "fix" that gets me. As though the idea of a non-white version of an entirely fictional character being the center of the story somehow breaks that story. (Point of order - Disney's live action remakes of cartoon classics have been of dubious quality of late, so I hope they realize they're on thin ice here and take extra care.) It is a STORY, purely fiction and as such it can always be revised. The previous Disney version isn't even the original story. Let's be honest, when studios want to they don't even care if it was a true story,  they switch facts all the time to fit the tale that sells, I mean, that they want to tell. So why the outrage? 

These are the stars of 2016's Gods Of Egypt. They gonna "fix" this too? 

Well, the other word he used, the term "woke." It's become the new slur that fills in for the N-word to certain crowd, much like "Brandon" fills in for another not polite term they can use in public. That's the tell here. And the quick realization of what they'd done, that they were no longer just talking to friends but possibly to the whole world - they offered up some sort of half-assed attempt an apology. I mean, not even the courage of conviction at the end. And I say the end because Twitter swiftly suspended this account not long after it hit critical exposure. Yes, the use of the word woke tells me why he was mad.

And I for one hope he stays mad.

Barkeep, let me get some whiskey and Sprite. Two cubes of ice. Long day.  

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Long live the Queen....

To be honest, the phrase "The King of England" sounds like something that should only exist in movies or video games. It's been so long now that the very sounds feel strange in the mouth. But now, in 2022.... here we are. She lived a good life.

As much as I can understand a lot of the feelings, less than grief..being offered today by individuals who had...issues... with even the idea of a real life monarchy still existing in the twenty first century, I'm not one to pick apart the life of someone who has passed on. At the very minimum, they no longer have a chance to atone for those misdeeds in this life, and that alone is very sad. Now is not the time for a rehashing of a long life which by definition is polarizing, she wasn't a starlet or some singer but the head of a nation and empire, so let history be the long judge that determines her place. When you get down to it, she was still a mother, a grandmother and great grandmother. And so a family grieves as an era ends within themselves.  

She served. Queen Elizabeth II. 1926 - 2023

Saturday, September 3, 2022

She did the damn thing

Ramblings Post #405
We idolize whom we idolize. It's personal most of the time. Most people like to think of Michael Jordan as the greatest basketball player of all time (so far). In my opinion it's a toss up between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Some others might say Bill Russell, or maybe Bron Bron. The metric we use in our head for really constitutes greatness varies. It's part of what makes sport a thing, facilitates argument and discussion, and in some cases causes men to do the only real research they'll ever do after they've gotten their diploma. 

By artist Yung Yemi

Well, to say she had a good an understatement. Of Biblical proportion.

Unlike the arguments for greatest football team, best golfer, best home run hitter, there is no question who the greatest women's tennis player in the world was. Serena.

I hope her future is as bright as past. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

I look up at night...

Ramblings Post #404
They were right. We don't really know what we've got until it's gone. It's hard to miss something still there, or in some cases even understand it at that moment, but once something is no longer within our boundaries - something as simple as spot to look up at night and be awed - the loss becomes evident in ways we can hardly imagine. 

As a kid I spent time on grandparents farm, a place down three different bumpy dirt roads beautifully decorated by nature with a canopies of trees that made the trip feel magical to me. It was a quiet place, where they'd lived for fifty years, pumped water from a well and one of the barns was where my father was born. At night there was one light pole that was perpetually dim, I don't know why.

There the night sky was a tapestry. It was magical. Thousands upon thousands of stars.

At my parents house in a small southern town, with light poles here and there by request, looking up at the night sky I could see at best two or three stars.

I now live in the city. 

I want to see the sky of my childhood again.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

There is always time for Art...

Ramblings Post #403
Art is subjective. Those things that bring light to my soul, that sets off the seismic tremors in my brain and spark the avalanche of ideas for me, might just be blah to you. And vice versa. I think we all need to learn to appreciate that difference and what it means. Because to me it means that I grow and my tastes change, I won't have to wait for the world to catch up to provide inspiration. It might already exist, it's just that last time I saw it my mind wasn't ready. But then again to you...

Josep Tapiró i Baró was a Spanish painter; best known for his Orientalist watercolor portraits of the peoples of Morocco done in the late 1800's. I find his work fascinating in that his talent for capturing the essence of a subject practically leaps out of the image. And second, that a number of his subjects have to same skin tone as I. And I think his art is important, for it comes from a time when generally only rich European aristocrats were the subject of such works (or at least what has survived). 

His grasp of detail is fantastic. Some of his work looks like photographs, or something that might have been photo-shopped last week. After the death of close friend in 1874, Baró moved to Tangiers, at the time bustling city of people from around the Mediterranean. There he set up a studio and painted images of the people he saw, capturing a different kind of person than the normal portrait artist of the time.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Florida man upset when Irony serves warrant

This is a political post. 

I will admit that I, like pretty much everyone else, did not see that coming. And while I've tried to defend Merrick Garland over the past year, to be honest the man hasn't given me much to work with. And then suddenly he feints and lands a solid haymaker, and the crowd goes silent for a second. Whoa.

Republicans want to scream about the weaponization of the Department of Justice, as though six months ago when they were sure they'd win back the Senate they weren't making sly remarks about using the tools of government in going after their own enemies along with those who'd betrayed Cheato. And they've completely forgotten or just pretended not to know about how the previous administration weaponized the IRS for those exact same purposes. Oh the irony of this situation, compounded by the fact that in 2018 the administration changed the penalty for unauthorized removal of classified documents from one to five years and turned it into a felony. (Public Law 115-118, Jan 19, 2018, Title II, Sec. 292)

And as much as Fox news and the Conservatives want the White House to own up to being behind this, the reality is Cheato has a copy of the warrant, even though he was in New York when it was executed. And that copy explains exactly what they were looking for, what statutes that the court thinks were violated, and what judge came to the conclusion that there was preponderance of evidence to proceed. And instead of releasing for the clarity that his supporters believe is being hidden, he has not.

Because, if you've been paying attention for the past few years the party that used to be the loyal opposition has transformed into something else much more dangerous. More cult than political party at this point, what an outsider can see as part con and part grift are blithely ignored by conservatives, who are probably more than a little scared that the world around them is changing at nearly every level and who are desperate to return to the "good ol' days," which weren't so good for any of the rest of us. And because the Democrats apparently weren't paying attention (or miscalculated) we came very close to end of our democracy just last year. Now caught out, the what used to be the party is grasping for whatever it can to stay afloat.

The real issue here is that half the country has been tricked into believing that "criminal" isn't a person who breaks the law, but a class of people. It's the good versus evil paradigm. The idea is a that a "good person" can do no wrong, even if what they did clear. The mass shooters weren't criminals, they have mental issues, they're good kids. The conservatives have associated good with a group (mostly themselves), not a set of actions, and the law is supposed to protect good people. It's why they felt they could attempt to overthrow the government and if they failed just could go home and nothing would happen to them. It's the fantasy where the hero breaks the law, but it's okay, because they had a good reason.

Merrick, my bad. You got a little something something. But you're not done, not quite yet.

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Five minutes watching....The Bob's Burgers Movie. No, Really.

I don't watch a lot of movies because, well, at this point I just don't. I don't watch a lot of TV either. As I've said before, a lot of movies and television as of late have become much more niche oriented. And I ain't in their niche. Plus I'm STILL trying to be productive. And do some writing. Well, a little bit, I need to get back to it. And there is the business I'm supposed to be trying to get going. Well, I need to get back to that. I also still have a ton of video games I bought on sale I still want to play. Wait, I don't watch TV, play games, hustle or write...what am I doing?  

In an attempt to cleanse my mental palate, considering the absolute mess we currently find ourselves in as a country, I decided to sit down and watch the Bob's Burgers movie. Note that I'm not really a fan of the show.

Honestly, Bob's Burgers is one of those shows where I'm always surprised to find out that their still making new episodes. To me, it's a low stakes, low-action family dramedy cartoon, for which the sole benefit of using animation is that the age of the actors becomes irrelevant. From the viewer's standpoint the idea of this being their ninth Christmas when they're nine gets a little screwy, but then I'd have to complain about the Simpsons. I don't watch the Simpsons either. Also, and maybe it's because as I've gotten older, the wise-ass little kid character has become more irritating and this show is rife with them. Or maybe it's because I don't relate to the characters, because infinite struggle is great for drama, it's exhausting to watch. So while I understand that it's fans love it, for me it's cartoon I occasionally ended up watching because the remote was way over there and didn't feel like getting up at the moment because my food was still hot.

But I digress. The movie. Well, it was a movie. I suppose.

Forgive my lack of enthusiasm, but it just felt like an episode of the show, but longer, and with slightly better animation. The family is on the brink of disaster (again) and the plan they have to, fix is the wrong word, to um,...kick the can down the road a bit, yeah, that plan is foiled because it really didn't make any sense (It was a burger. They were going to offer a really great burger.) And so they're in trouble again. Again. Only this time a sinkhole opens up in front of the restaurant and they can't do any business. Oh, and each of the kids has a personal thing they're trying to get past. Yeah, that is really, it's not really, because they really only focus on Louise's issue, because apparently she's the star of the show.

Again, I don't really watch that much, but a lot of the stories I've seen seem to center on her.

So then shenanigans ensue. There is a murder. Or at least a body. There is also singing, although not much, and not really that inspired kind of musical you'd get from some other animated shows, but it's okay. Then the usual running around to solve the murder because the police won't do it trope. And an um....well, okay I don't remember much past that part because it was boring. It was really like three episodes of the show pasted together with a few semi-subtle hints at the solution. None of the characters you know died, or really changed in a significant way. I would have thought it would be a perfect time to kill off the Jimmy Pesto character due to his voice actor no longer being with the show. I would have thought they could have introduced Jimmy's widow at the time (or maybe she's already dead, I don't know) who Bob would think would be easier to deal with but really wouldn't be. At least then the movie would have changed...something.

As it is, I understand the film was a dud, although it reviewed well. Maybe the critics were fans. I dunno, but then I don't think it was for me. Which is fine, because not all media needs to cater to me, so there is that. So, in my useless opinion, if you need some good background noise...  

Thursday, June 30, 2022

A Quick Restaurant Review - Snooze: An A.M. Eatery

Snooze was a nice little surprise.

I haven't been out much lately, that virus thing and all, but my cousin wanted to do brunch. And while I'm not up for anything much, I figured since I hadn't seen her in months and it would be relatively low key, I would go out and enjoy myself. A bit. (That and in looking back to check the format I just realized it's been FIVE YEARS since I did one of these. WOW.)

So she picked this new spot, well new to me, called Snooze. It's a little diner-ish kinda spot over in the super fast growth area of Atlanta called Westside. Not to be confused with the actual west side of the city where I live (as I've pointed out before), this is a super trendy little area that used to be half abandoned buildings. Now it's trendy boutiques, swank apartments and hot restaurants. And yes, I wish I lived there but no, I also don't even want to fork out the loot for the rents. Whooosah. The spot seemed like a winner to me, because again I've been in the house for a  long minute so we agreed to sit eat and talk.

I apparently haven't been over that way in a while, and it's maybe ten minutes away from the house. Working from home as really spoiled me. I think I put gas in my car six or seven times all of last year. But apparently everyone else has been working throwing up brick and mortar, and not just in my neighborhood. It took me a moment to remember that the last time I'd been at that corner - 10th and Howell Mill - that I used to pass nearly everyday on the way to work. The spot where Snooze was located just two years ago an industrial art installation, and I know I'd parked on the street right by there a time or two to walk to a club in that area. Now it's a whole apartment building. Whoa.

Snooze is itself is like any other brunch spot on a Sunday - BUSY. Just like in the way back, they had a group of folks milling about on the curb, but my cousin had gotten a reservation, so I steered clear until time. Well, maybe it was kinda busy. Maybe it's still the pandemic, but the waiting group seemed smaller the usual. I remember once arriving at West Egg Cafe right up the street for brunch with Spanky, putting  our name on the list, going over to Atlantic Station and getting a new phone and coming back just as they said our table was ready. This seemed to be a relatively quick five or ten minutes for walk-ups. But it wasn't stroll in and seat yourself, let me put it that way.

The inside is bright and airy, with early green and brown walls, gold light fixtures, tall dividers and higher than diner ceilings. There is even a bar in the back left corner. The staff is friendly, everything is digital and they do this thing where they seat you even if your whole party hasn't arrived. Which was cool because my cousin was running late. Oh, one other thing...everyone that works there was black. The host and hostess, the waiter, the bus...guy, everyone. Which is and isn't odd. It's Atlanta, an all black establishment isn't unusual. But it's the Westside where you can get three kinds of artisanal water in some places, so it didn't really seem like "we" would be over there considering what I know they must be charging for per square foot for the lease. Maybe it was just the staffing that day, but it didn't matter, I liked it.

Now when I say everything digital, I mean, everything digital. You pulled up the menu on your phone using a QR code on the table. Which meant my usual phone etiquette rules when I'm out with someone have to be partially suspended. The menu looks properly brunch diverse, but I still went with my old standard for new places - Scrambled eggs, hash-browns or the grits, bacon. I mean, if you can't get that basic staple right, the idea that I would trust you with Eggs Benedict topped with a Habanero Pork Belly or a French Toast is out of the question. Well, I did get a pancake instead of the toast, but hey, I hadn't been out in a minute. My cousin went simpler, with hash-browns (get them flattened and they're just like Waffle House) and a flight of bacon. Yes, like a flight of wine, it's a flight of bacon. Pure Genius.

My cousin and I chatted about careers, she's a lawyer too, and about life and Atlanta and getting older and things we should have done instead of things we did. Sometimes you just need a friendly face, a quiet body to bounce some things off. I think that the pandemic has us all re-evaluating our priorities, and I have two or three things that I need to go ahead and kickoff and stop standing around dreaming about. ONE of which is the writing. Which I will definitely be re-engaging shortly. Finishing the second draft. So yeah, working from home all this time has been great, except when you need a voice to remind you that time is actually moving. I may have gotten too comfortable with all that silence.

The food was good, although the pancake was a little "bready" for me. I like mine a touch thinner, but this was still good though. They could blot the bacon a bit, but it was still tasty, and a generous portion so I can't complain. I will note that the idea of free refills hadn't caught up with them yet, so get a water to start and save that juice for when the food arrives. By the way, you pay digitally as well, through your phone. What are old cash guys like me supposed to do?

All in all, good experience. Not just the getting out of the house, but the food and atmosphere as well. It's a good spot. I'll have to go again.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

There is apparently nothing that will change their minds...

This is a political post. 

Angeli Rose Gomez is a mom in Uvalde, TX. During the shooting she drove to the school to get her kids. And the cops put her in handcuffs. So, she then got out of the handcuffs, jumped the fence and went into the school and got her kids. While the city police stood outside waiting for backup for nearly an hour.

The same city police who bragged on social media about how every officer had Level 4 body armor. The same city police who in a town of 16,000 maintained it's own SWAT team. The same city police whose budget ate up over 40% of the jurisdiction's budget.  The same police who, after couple of officers were grazed after being fired upon, stood outside an active shooter situation at a still occupied public school for more than FORTY MINUTES. I'm going to be honest, the response of Uvalde police department is beyond the pale. The law enforcement who did finally enter were Federal Agents whom the police onsite actually instructed to wait because... well, something.

Ironically, the state's commission on law enforcement's 2020 training manual states clearly "a first responder unwilling to place the lives of the innocent above their own safety should consider another career field."

The fact that we're still having to discuss mass shootings is horrifying. The fact that we haven't had the time and are still processing the previous week when someone walked into a public space and opened fire is even more horrifying. And now we're hearing the kids 911 calls and finding out that some of the children may have "bled out" from their wounds and  could have been saved had there been earlier intervention. We should all be outraged by children now relating stories of covering themselves with blood as camouflage and crawling out of windows to escape while law enforcement stood by. Hell, the Canadians are so outraged by what happened to US that they're changing their gun laws. But we aren't.

Or we should. Because the NRA convention (which by the way was a gun free event due to safety concerns) was held down the road not five days later. And the same folks who swore this was a terrible tragedy spoke at the event about the importance of being able to own a gun. Because the only thing that beats a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. This is the part where you should be really upset. Because the argument that a "good guy" with a gun could have stopped this tragedy is upended by the reality that at least 19 "good guys" stood idly by trying to formulate an attack plan/waiting for backup while children died. Some argue that if the teacher had been armed maybe it wouldn't have been so bad. I guess in a way, making clear that teachers are much braver than police officers.    

Isn't it weird how the story officials are telling us keeps changing? And how if this were someone explaining to the officials, like maybe the police, that they'd immediately get suspicious in regards to what actually happened. But we're not.  

Even as I write this the fallout gets worse and worse. The day after the Governor sat on a stage and lauded the heroism of the brave police officers. Various officials couldn't sing their praises loud enough. But social media is the devil, and video from the scene and those 911 calls rose from the ether and made them out to be fools. Now they're all backtracking, pointing fingers and whatnot. Abbott has revised his story to the ol' tried and true 'say it was a mental health issue', conveniently forgetting HE just cut the state's mental health budget. Officials in that Uvalde city police department are now ducking calls from the state.Because whatever caused this, easy access to guns and ammo did NOT add to the problem. Or so they say.
Seriously, WTF?
This is the America we live in. The conservatives want to Make America Great Again. Like in the 50's. And considering this rampant gun culture and the Supreme Courts latest rulings, I guess they meant the 1850s. 

Thursday, May 5, 2022

I Woke up to a Nightmare

This is a political post.  

"Men and women of good conscience can disagree, and we suppose some always shall disagree, about the profound moral and spiritual implications of terminating a pregnancy, even in its earliest stage. Some of us as individuals find abortion offensive to our most basic principles of morality, but that cannot control our decision. Our obligation is to define the liberty of all, not to mandate our own moral code."

GOP appointees Anthony Kennedy, Sandra Day O'Connor and David Souter, joint opinion.
Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, 1992

One of the fundamental issues with a number of our current Democratic leaders is that they still believe that these types of Republicans are in control of that party to some degree. Today, I think we have enough evidence that we can firmly say that they are not. And thus, the republic begins to teeter.

I was quite frankly stunned when I saw the article about the leak from Supreme Court. Roe v. Wade has long been held to be the third rail of American politics. An issue so hot, so divisive, that it was better to just let it lie where it was and yell back and forth over it, a lesson I thought was well entrenched in the political mind. I'll admit I was one of those who thought that even the now firmly conservative court would use the death by a thousand cuts approach since all they had was time. But impatience makes for odd decisions, so now somebody has pulled out an axe. And so it's about to get messy. 

All these justices sat there as nominees during their hearings and said the "right" things. Alito called Roe an important precedent. Kavanaugh said that Roe had been affirmed many times. Goursh said that Roe was the law of the land and he accepted it. And Barrett swore that a judge just can't impose their will on the American people. And it appears that none of them were telling the whole truth. Or really any parts of it, as all have booked seats on this train and are standing at the station eager to leave. My law school professor used to call the Supreme Court America's council of wise men (and women). And they were supposed to be above it all, unshackled from politics. But here we are. And the republic begins the sway.

I read about half of Alito's draft and the arguments I see are weak, if not in areas absolutely cartoonish. It's obvious he has it in for Roe. His argument hangs heavily on the idea that constitutional protection only applies to "deeply rooted traditions," which he seems to think have to have started prior to the 20th century to have any validity. In that vein, he goes on to cite "quickening" laws from the 1860's as the precedent for how abortion should be considered in the eyes of current law. You know tradition and all. Further, he seems confused and insulted as to why the 1973 Roe court would have consulted the American Medical Association instead of case law from Andrew Johnson's administration. I dunno, perhaps for medical facts? He then takes every measure of fetus growth listed in the plaintiff's argument as gospel (although it's been frequently noted by medical professionals as questionable if not just plain incorrect), gives no weight to the past almost 50 years of Roe's legal application or to the vast and tectonic shift in social mores and public viewpoints since, um, the Beatles ruled the music charts, all while working hard trying to awkwardly give deference to a viewpoint determined when a contemporary hot topic was whether or not Freedmen (former slaves) should be allowed to vote. It would considered be a work of insanely convoluted legal comic art if wasn't the project of a sitting Supreme Court Justice.

The misinformation and fakery is so obvious. I mean, the Conservatives say that this will to give the right back to the people so they can decide. But instead of the states putting it on the ballot and actually asking what the citizens really want, a lot of the conservative loaded legislatures are teeing up draconian regulations in wet eyed anticipation of the ruling. Which should be a telling sign of bad faith. I'm guessing someone (The Grand High Conservative Poobah?) did the math in their head and figured that with the gerrymandering they've already done, getting it banned outright in the majority of states wouldn't be an issue. And I heard that the real plan is try for a national ban after they win the midterms. If they win the midterms? It just sounds crazy right now that they still might win. Right now we're all hoping that long feared political backlash actually and that blue wave finally washes in. We hope.

By the way, has anyone considered the possibility that one of the Justices leaked the draft. I mean, as we've made it clear, there would be no consequences in that case, right?

And for the uninformed, please stop screaming at the Democrats to do something. They're not lazy or playing a game, they just don't have enough firepower to combat this. They control the Senate by a tie-breaker and two Senator are DINOs. Most of our leaders, with odd exception Hillary Clinton, didn't see the long game and have gotten caught unawares. They, like Biden, see the guys they've known for years and still think they're dealing with reasonable people. They're not.  No, here, it's not the Democratic will to do something here, it's the ability. They've tried, they just haven't been able to pull it off.

So the answer is to vote, to agitate, to get out there and move some furniture. Give the people who want to give you universal healthcare and an end to corporate welfare some more ammo. There is no magic bullet, we won't get this done in a single march or one term of the Presidency. We need it all to put this living, breathing and evolving Republic back on firm foundation. Because I think a long fight has just begun.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Five Minutes watching....Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty

I don't watch a lot of movies because, well, at this point I just don't. I don't watch a lot of TV either. As I've said before, a lot of movies and television as of late have become much more niche oriented. And I ain't in their niche. Plus I'm STILL trying to be productive. And do some writing. Well, a little bit, I need to get back to it. I also still have a ton of video games I bought on sale I still want to play. Wait, I don't watch TV, play games or write...what am I doing?  

Winning Time surprised me by being a pretty good show.

But, Winning Time on NOT the true story of the behind the scenes of the creation of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball dynasty, which also just coincidentally is the beginning of the rise of the modern NBA. It's just not. It says so in the bumper of every episode. It states clearly it's all be dramatized. It is Historical Fiction, right up there with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Each week there is a podcast and about twenty Youtube shows picking through the script looking for where they stretched if not outright lied about what happened. This is very clear.

And yet people are upset that the show is not a documentary. Go figure.

The show is an ensemble piece, following the story of hedonistic wheeler-dealer owner Dr. Jerry Buss taking a big gamble on basketball, the slow growth of Pat Riley from junior announcer to legendary coach, and the maturation of Magic Johnson from college star to NBA superstardom. Along the way you learn about some the machinations Dr. Buss had to pull off to make it all work, a fresh look at a long forgotten coaching drama and see an idea of the shift from the young wet behind the ears rookie Ervin learning the ropes to Magic, the leader of a championship team. And while it's a great story, it's there is a lot of bullshit. A lot. 

It's, gumbo if you will, of fact and fiction for dramatic purposes. Norm Nixon, the point guard of the Lakers when Magic was drafted has explained that no, he did not play Magic one on one while wearing a white fur coat at a party the summer before the rookie's first year. But it's a hell of scene. Jerry West is portrayed as angrily obsessed with winning. But a lot of this version of him are as I understand it, is taken from his own stories about his life, in that he broke a lot of golf clubs and could not watch the teams he assembled actually play the games. Pat Riley had left the announcing booth long before signing on as Westhead's assistant, but the idea of him sending down notes to the sidelines during games shows a hunger. Dr. Jerry Buss comes across as a guy with everything to lose but who refuses to back away from the table. Well, I understand his daughter is very involved in the show, so maybe that part is true. The starting coach that season, the man who actually designed the foundation for the Lakers fabled Showtime offense was only in a coma for three days, not weeks and the fight with Westhead didn't happen. And yes, even the games are out of order, but they way they were arranged builds drama, which is why we watch. I mean, we know the's in the title of the show, so filling out this space in the middle has to be good television. And it is.  

Good television? You find yourself rooting for characters you didn't even like or notice. Or realizing there is more to a portrayal than there first seemed. Or recognizing a character arc halfway through without the changes being spoon fed to you. Or appreciating the characterization of even the supporting roles. Now, it's not the Wire or Breaking Bad, but it is good writing and very good acting. The editing feels a bit frantic at first, and they do show some portions of games but not much the real drama isn't in the seconds left on the clock but the tension between the front office, coaches and what goes on between dribbles.   

Half the fun of watching are the these characters meet other actors playing other famous people. It is LA after all. From early court-side Jack to Richard Pryor, Iman and Milton Berle, as well as other legendary NBA notables throughout the season, including more than a few unexpected drop-ins and quite a few actual history lessons. .

More, one of the cool aspects of the show is that those actors for the most part fit. And while John C. Reilly and Sean Patrick Small give what are apparently inspired impression of Dr. Buss and Larry Bird, I'm not sure where they even found Quincy Isiah. There are times he appears to become a young Magic Johnson. I don't know if it's the way he holds his face, the angle, the lighting or even a little CGI trickery, but it's there. The actor portraying Kareem I think gives the elder statesman of the game the proper gravitas considering where he was in life. The show takes the time to cover a portion of his personal growth, as well as explain a number of things about a number of other players. Plus, the ball players are all actually tall, it's not camera tricks.

It really is worth a watch. If only to see just what Jerry West is ready to sue everybody involved for.  

Barkeep. One for the Lakers. On Dr. Buss' tab.

Note - Yes, Magic did actually pass on signing with Nike, which at the time made sense. But oh what could have been.

Monday, March 28, 2022

One way to get your ratings up

Ramblings Post #402
Love makes you do many things. Strange things. Dumb things. I my case, not even for actual love, but in an effort to get someone to love me (this is before I came the realization it does not work that way). But I hope that love never makes me go up on stage during a national television broadcast and slap another man because my wife gave me a look. Really.

Well, that was stupid.

It was a throwaway line, a joke at the end of four or five other jokes that would have faded into nothing. It was a lame joke about a film most people don't remember. But no one would have remembered it a week from now. Then this shit happened.

I don't watch the Oscars broadcast, but someone posted a clip on Reddit that caught my eye. I thought it was a skit, a funny little thing that they'd done to liven up the show in some way. The Sporty texted me and asked me did I see it, and how Will was big mad. Now, the first clip I'd seen was short, Will walking on stage, slapping Rock and stalking off. The clip Sporty linked was longer, included the joke about Jada - which as I've said was kinda lame - and the slap, then it went quiet although the video kept running. And you'd didn't have to be from the hood to be able read Will's lips. He was for real big mad. Then I found the uncensored Japanese clip where you can hear Will cursing on live television and I realized that this wasn't at all staged in any way shape or form.

By the way, I must applaud Chris Rock's professionalism. As a long time standup comic he's probably faced down plenty of hecklers and can feel when it's best to not press an issue due to outsized anger. As such, he did what a pro would do and tried to make light of it and keep the show moving. And after the show he indicated he would not press charges, most likely at the suggestion of the Academy. He is being the bigger man here. Because truth be told if it had been me, I'm not so sure I wouldn't have embarrassed myself, my momma and the entirety of Black America.

Then after Will was dragged from the auditorium by secur....what? He wasn't? He sat back down, and a half-hour later won the Oscar for his leading man role in King Richard, got a standing ovation, and went to the Vanity Fair after-party like ain't shit happened?  Really? Wow. I guess liberal Hollywood is behind the idea of "standing up for the wifey." Because that's how Smith's defenders, including a number of those in the black community, are framing it. A number of women seem to think a lame joke was a good enough reason to slap someone on national TV if its in the defense of the wife. But it's not like Jada isn't in the game, she got her own talk show and her own roles. If she wasn't in the industry, maybe, possibly, there could have been some umbrage - but an actor in the front row of an awards show is fair game for roasting. And she is an actor, isn't she? Another argument seems to be she has a medical condition called alopecia, and medical conditions shouldn't be joked about. But um, alopecia is a medical term for hair loss, not cancer. It's not as far as I know terminal. We joke about bald dudes all the time, but they too are suffering form a form of aloepica. So, what about that? And there are plenty of beautiful women who've cut their hair short or near bald by choice. What about them?

No, this whole episode was a massive overreaction to a nothing. Which as a number of folks have pointed out gives rise to the idea that things aren't as happy at the Smith household as one might think, given their reconciliation after Jada's entanglement situation last year. What Tupac would have done jokes aside, one theory is that Jada's sour reaction combined with their rocky history prompted Will into action to openly demonstrate his love and support of her at all costs. Which is also problematic in and of itself. But that's another whole post.

So, what should Will have done? He could have done the cursing from seat thing by itself. That alone would have been enough of a shock to accomplish his point. Or, at the Vanity Fair after party when he ran into Rock he could have just said "Hey man, that joke about Jada wasn't cool." And then explained the aloepica. And let Rock say my bad and apologize to Jada. And then kept it moving. But would it have been cool? YES, way better than this.

It was a throwaway line, a joke at the end of four or five other jokes that would have faded into nothing by the time the award Rock was presenting three minutes later. It was a lame joke about a film most people don't remember and as it turns out, in poor taste to boot. No one would have remembered it by the end of the show. But now that joke and Will's reaction to it will be the subject of a thousand think pieces and evaluations. The incident is going to be object of ridicule of every late night talk show host worth his salt, SNL is going to have a field day, overshadows his own triumph and will be brought up on every other award show this season. This image has already shot up 50,000% to the very top of the meme market, is going to be a trivia question someday and will also most certainly be in the trailer of his biography film years from now.

Yeah, that was stupid.

Barkeep. The good whiskey and just a dash of apple juice. Boy, I just don't know.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

The NFL Offseason Should Be a Show

Ramblings Post #401
The NFL off-season this year has been wild. The AFC West has turned into a arms race, Green Bay gave Aaron Rodgers the keys to the franchise, and I'm veering between trusting the Jones boys in Dallas to put talent on the field and screaming "What are they doing!" over and over again to anyone who'll listen. And no, I'm probably not going to watch the USFL. Are we sure that wasn't an elaborate hoax anyway? 

It is said that because of how a grand jury works, that a semi-decent prosecutor can get a conviction against a ham sandwich if they really wanted to. So, last week when the people in a Grand Jury decided not to bring charges against Texan's QB Deshaun Watson, please know that I raised an eyebrow in disbelief. It may have hit my slightly receding hairline. Allegedly receding.

For those who don't know, last season the NFL avoided addressing the issue at all when the Texans decided to not even suit up Watson to play. By the way, as long as Watson showed up to the facility, did his workouts and stayed ready, he still got paid like he was playing. A whole bunch of money. Only without the physical stress of actually playing. In the interim the Texans found new ways to embarrass themselves, aside from letting all the talent walk out the door. I mean, at one point the Texans found themselves torn between hiring as their next head coach a ...long time coaching veteran who been part of a Superbowl coaching staff and who'd just won two of the last three seasons as head coach with his previous team who happened to black and...checks notes... a former player and part time assistant high school coach who happened to be white. So, obviously it was a toss up. But that aside, they had at least been smart enough not to play Watson.

I had a discussion about it right after it happened, I figured that a media savvy league would make it clear that even if there were to be no charges, that a serious suspension would still be assessed upon Watson's return to the field. I mean, they'd just suspended a player for the whole season for a single bet using the LEAGUE sponsored app. (Okay, there is a sign in the locker room specifically prohibiting betting, so there is a difference. Although I wouldn't think you'd need a sign to say don't assault women, would you?"). Would teams try for him? Sure, but this was a player who hadn't suited up in a year, and football comes at you fast. No, others said, it would be a free for all. The game is all about money now and they would not care. I argued that even from just a PR viewpoint, the league would not let that happen.  

And I was completely and unequivocally wrong.

The new NFL is QB driven. There was a time about twenty years ago where Trent Dilfer won a Superbowl. Who? He was the backup who took over halfway through the season and rode the defense of the Ravens to the NFL's promised land. And although he's an excellent analyst, he was also so mediocre he's the first starting and winning QB in history to not be resigned by his team for the next season. That's not possible with the way the game is now called and schemed. And everyone knows it. Hell, the Cowboys found it out after Dak went down and suddenly it seemed like the secrets of the completed forward pass were lost. And as it turns out Watson is a QB. And was a fairly good one. And as it turns out winning, or even the promise of winning, trumps everything.

I heard analysts decry that half the league need to take a look at Watson. The Saints were talked about, Atlanta was in the mix, the Colts and Chicago discussed. And what other QB might go where depending on what could be worked out with Deshaun. You would have thought Watson was the second coming of Micheal, the pun actually intended,... only with a less offensive charge. Yes, apparently to the NFL Animal Cruelty is worse than Sexual Assault, go figure. So after listening to Shannon Sharpe and Skip Bayless rag about how the Cleveland Browns had blown up their own dicey QB situation to even talk to Watson and how they'd been unceremoniously spurned I was shocked to see this....

The Brown fans online that I've seen are not especially happy at this turn of events. People in desperate need of a stable football situation, considering all the drama that happened with team during the season, weren't happy. You know, and they know, just because the state decided not to bring charges doesn't mean you're innocent. And did everyone in the league's media gang FORGET the twenty two civil suits still in the mix? This is one of those situations involving millions of dollars that makes you wonder just how smart some rich people really are. Did the Browns forget that quite a few of their fans are women? Did they forget that their fan base just in general might have a basic sense of decency? I mean, damn. It is very possible the Browns play a few home games this season to an empty stadium, and it won't be because of Covid.

What's really weird is that the league is handing out top-tier QB money to a player who hasn't touched turf in a season. No, I kid, that's not weird, that's the NFL. What's weird is that Watson wasn't banished from the league for at least a season. Not sat out of his own free will, but formally banished with no pay for at least a season. And between you and me, people don't offer someone a quarter of a billion dollars, a large portion guaranteed, unless you're pretty damn sure that player is gonna suit up. Which means unless the league blindsides because of backlash, it's already a done thing. One of my old running partners stopped watching football altogether because he was mad Rothlesberger never got any punishment for his...indiscretions. I guess my boy is gonna be an Atlanta United fan from here on out.   

The NFL is something, ain't it. 

Monday, February 28, 2022

I need Shooters, not an Uber...

 This is a political post.

At this point I check everyday for the news that I'm certain no one wants to hear: that a Russian team has tracked down Zelensky. This comedian turned actor turned politician turned honest to god hero is defying the odds with both his bravery and his charm. "I need ammo, not a ride" he responded when the US offered to airlift him out. He's doing what all of us hope we have the ability to do when we're attacked - Stand your ground and fight. And it looks like he's pulling off this long-shot play for the most part. I hope he does, for Ukraine's sake. The problem for Putin now is if he kills him, it will only make things tougher. Because you can stop a man, but a legend is a hard thing to put into a cell. And a Zelensky who goes down swinging defending his country is the kind of guy whose name you scream before you go over the top.

Which means Putin has no out.

Because the longer it takes, the more likely that the Ukrainians finally drive them out. After taking much ground the first few days, the grand Russian might has been unable to hold onto much. And as it turns out their soldiers don't really have the stomach for what they're being asked to do, as errant men show up at farms asking for gas for their useless tanks, surrendering en masse and others using dating apps to find more amenable company. And with each passing day, the furor and outside support in form of weapons and money pours in. The longer this takes, the worse the eventual failure to a grass roots guerilla army would look for a modern "world power."

 But to get victory in this invasion the Russians may have to destroy the country. Only the idea was never to take a shell, or just the territory, but a functioning country. Yes, they needed Sevastopol, but Putin claimed he wanted to reunite the former USSR. And yet despite bold claims that sanctions would only strengthen his position, being kicked out of SWIFT, the bank run, the collapse of the ruble to loss of outside investment in general, the motherland doesn't have the resources to rebuild their new holding if it comes to that. Russia's economy is basically the size of the state of California's. Or rather it was. And that won't change anytime soon as long as Putin remains in power. The term Pyrrhic victory might be changed to a Ukrainian victory if he keeps this up, with the whole of Russia collapsing under the weight of one man's ego.

Which leaves capitulation and retreat. Which would leave this world leader looking weak, which might just be the ultimate insult in Putin's mind. One believes that the self imposed isolation caused by Covid, along with an apparatus designed to keep bad news at bay would mean that when the real news that he can't win finally, inevitably shows up, it's not gonna be pretty. As it stands, he'll have to back down on his nuclear deterrent threat and in the near future will see that that thing he feared most of all - a united Europe and NATO that includes Ukraine, Finland and Sweden, placing all access to the Atlantic via a NATO window - actually coming to fruition. And although it's really a old geopolitical situation that may or may not be still as relevant in this age of non-state actors, it was the thing he was working most diligently on, with international election interference and a world wide disinformation campaign to avoid. 

I'm not sure who told him this invasion this was a good idea, but I can say this with certainty: They were wrong. 

Yeah, the real problem now is that Putin has no out that he's willing to accept. 

I'm not going to get into all the other sundry items - the detainment of Africans trying to escape the conflict by some Ukrainians, why this time the world seems to have stood up and taken notice, etc and so forth. Or the buffoonery that is Cheato's response. No, I say let's just get through this and get to the other thing - back to virus that's still could kill us all if we're not careful.

Uncle Joe, call your boy Barry.

If you want we take this outside, ain't nobody gots' to know...

Monday, January 17, 2022

MLK - some thoughts.

 He walked so you could run.

Or rather he marched. Which if you've ever done it for political reasons really is walking, along with thousands of others, to show your support for a particular cause or ideal. Which I have done on occasion. It's a interesting sensation, realizing that that idea that you hold in your head is shared by so many others. It's validating. Empowering. Inspiring.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., boy genius who went to college at fifteen, who won the Nobel Peace Prize before he was forty, whose oration still rings in the ears of anyone who has ever heard it - live or on tape. In an age before the internet, his name was known far and wide. Not for music or film, but for a drive for justice for those people oppressed by a system for which they had been forced to build the foundation. For organizing and guiding marches, sit-ins and protests. And that oration. He was a remarkable person in age where remarkable people were in short supply.

In his last speech, the iconic "I've Been to the Mountaintop," he compared himself to Moses, in that he would look upon the promised land, but would not live to get there. He had hoped to live a long life, but he wasn't worried about that, he had a people to save. The very next day he was killed.

And still, all these years later, we have not reached the promised land.

He walked so you could run.

He walked so you could run. For Congress. For Senate. For School Board. Own a business. Purchase a home fairly. For President. To be able to have a fair shot at building something for a legacy, for your children, for the future. So put your sneakers on. And run until your legs give out. The promised land awaits.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

What I learned ...Last Year (Part 2)

What did I learn last year? Nothing. I learned absolutely nothing.

I want to say that during this time of enforced precaution, where we all needed a bit more vigilant to the world around us that I looked inward and explored who I was, what I wanted and what I hoped to achieve in life. I want to say that I spent mornings meditating, found my soul in a pot of greens and learned to speak to my inner child like a zen grandparent. That built a paradigm that helped me shore up my weaknesses, bolster my strengths and plot a course into the living possibility of the future.

I did none of that.

I watched a bunch of old movies, home renovations shows (Love it or List it is fantastic) and weird Netflix cartoons. I played video games (Okay, I played the Sims 4 which is terrible but addicting). I half kinda wrote some stuff.

I officially meandered through this portion of life.

I did lose some weight, as I'm eating a lot more veggies and a lot less starch now.  I do have a little home gym setup now, and as of yet it does NOT have any dirty clothing hanging from it. I discovered sheets made out of this jersey material that are fantastic. I'm gonna have to get a new couch soon.  

I don't want to talk about what happened last year outside my house. At least not right now. Working from home the days begin to blur after a while. Weekends no longer beckon, they practically sneak up on you. The news becomes a window into the world, but if you've ever stepped outside and realized you really do need a jacket you know that the world can still sneak up on you, even when you're paying attention. Just like last year it still feels like we've packed ten years worth of living into twelve months. It maybe that more isn't happening, we just have better access but sometimes that just isn't the sense you get. But that's for another time.

Working from home made me realize that I need people. I need the concrete interaction, not just the tweets and the IMs,texts, and emails, but the voices, the stories, the energy. That I need the smiling faces, the frowns, the joy and the anger. I need the person part of the person. But in my need for conversation that I've hung on to contacts for too long in some areas common sense would have made me abandon ages ago. Every conversation isn't a good conversation. And that I've been nervous about starting it in others because I'm always concerned with wasting other's people's time. But I know these things about me and my personality. I tend to care to much, in general. Ah, life would be so much easier if I was an asshole.   

So what have I learned? Nothing that I didn't already know but I stubbornly find myself reluctant to change. But you can't grow in your comfort zone. And life was gonna change anyway, so you may was pick the changes you want before some others are forced upon you.

So. Some bourbon. Some ice. A promise to myself. And let us begin.