Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Two kinds of people

There are two kinds of people in this world, those who think that there are two kinds of people in this world and those who don't. Ironically, there are two kinds of people among those who do not think that there are two kinds of people in this world. Those who think that there is only one kind of person in the world, and those who think that there are three, or more, kinds of people in this world.But getting back to the first statement I made, the fact that some people believe that there are two kinds of people and some people do not believe this, only proves the point that there are two kinds of people in this world. My father was right when he said this so many times in my youth (although he always used the colloquialism"this old world"). For brevity's sake, I have dropped the "old".

My father recognized that as to just about every interest of humans, there were two views, two stories.That did not mean that both were right, the two kinds of people in this world could divide into people who were right and people who were wrong. Democrats and Republicans, Catholics and Protestants, Texans and Yankees were clear division points of my childhood. The most important divisions were children and adults, teachers and students , police and bad guys , and old lady Powers and everyone else. As I got older, the divisions became fuzzier. I learned that most people, far from being left or right, tended to shade toward one side from some point near the middle. In our elections, an enormous landslide is 60%-40%. There have only been about three Presidential elections ever decided by a margain like that.. Think about it, if you are in a group of ten people, six who feel one way, and four who feel another, you have to persuade only one person to get the group to split evenly. And yet, those are our biggest electoral margains. Most races are decided by convincing less than half a person in ten to change sides, and that's still considered a big margain !

I heard today about a 64 oz. cup of soda that may be purchased in a convenience store (I think for 99 cents, but it may have been only 69). This reminded me of the standard way I have divided up the world since I reached adult hood, between beverage people and non-beverage people. Now don't get me wrong, people drank liquids when I was young. They had to to live. Some people (not my family) would keep a six pack of cokes around the house in the traditional 8 oz. bottle. I envied those people. If the kids that lived in the house were very good, they might be allowed to drink a coke sometime during the day.It never crossed the mind of any living human being in those days that you should go to the store and buy yourself a six pack of cokes and then get two more for good measure and sit around and drink the damn things all at once. I once saw a man at James Coney Island buy two 8 oz cokes with his hot dogs and thought that that was the height of decadance. 16 oz of Coke ! How in the world did humans evolve to have the capacity to drink 64 oz of sugary liquid (or even hold a cup that big in their hand) ?

On my shelf at home is a beautiful volume of Darwin's "Origin of Species". It is beautiful because it has never been read. But I am lead to believe by those who know, that Darwin believed in the evolution of species. Those who evolved in a beneficial way, survived. Is this really the course of evolution among human beings, to equip ourselves to be able to drink more and more soda, and therefore, presumably, never dehydrate and thus survive global warming (at least those who don't die of diabetes) ?Perhaps this is what has caused the beverage explosion in my lifetime. Our species, intuitively sensing global warming, before science discovered it. If we continue on our present path, beverage people in 50 years will be drinking 512 fluid oz of soda a day, or 64 of the old 8 oz. bottles. Will there be enough Coke to slake the thirsts of the coming world ? It is highly debateable, in fact, there are two kinds of people with opinions on that subject.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Murder in the Cathedral

I recall reading the United States Supreme court opinion in U.S v. Standard Oil when I was in law school. This was termed by my contract prof. as "a fair fight". Perhaps an even fairer fight is about to take place in the next few days. God v. Sony.

It seems that Sony has a new game out which features the usual killings of as many people as you can shoot at (just like all their games). This game , however, takes place, not in some abandoned warehouse,but in Manchester Cathedral. The Cathedral clergy are quite upset about an animated gun battle taking place in their sanctuary and the Anglican church is making threatening noises at Sony. Calling the game "sick and sacreligious" (nothing new there) the Dean of the Cathedral has given Sony just a few more days to get in touch with them in order to make amends (or do penance, I guess).

This is one of those fights that just should not have happened. Did it never cross the mind of anyone at Sony that the people of Manchester and Anglicans in general, might be miffed at this latest gun battle venue ? Manchester, which has been suffering for about 35 years anyway, is said to have a terrible gun problem. Now we have to place this in the proper scale. I'm sure that more people get shot in Texas in a week than get shot in Manchester in a year, still I sympathize.What's to stop Sony, in version II of the game, from sticking the Arch Bishop of Canterbury in the game as one of the "targets"? Maybe have him fend off shots with his crooked staff. There could be a bonus point for shooting him. Why not have the next gun battle take place in an actual church service ? During communion, or maybe a baptism ? That would be exciting.

If Sony had any sense of history, they could have set the game in Canterbury Cathedral and made it an army of knights come to slaughter Thomas a'Beckett. At least that would be historical, and we already know what Beckett looked like (Richard Burton). I'm sure that they could make it every bit as gruesome as the shootings are in the Manchester game.

What it will all come down to, as far as the law is concerned, is whether Sony needed permission from the "owners" of the Manchester Cathedral in order to put the likeness of the Cathedral in their game. I would think that the blueprint of the Cathedral must be in the public domain by now, but I know nothing of English Copyrite law.If litigation is not available, I imagine that the church could call for a boycot of the game by all Anglicans in England. That would short Sony on their sale of games by a few dozen I guess. No, what the Church needs to do is pull out the big guns, play the God card. The big "E". It needs to threaten to excommumicate and send to eternal damnation every Sony employee and family member, and every kid who buys and plays the game.Let the Japanese chew on that for awhile. How much are they going to enjoy their game royalties while they are chained for all eternity to a lake of everlasting fire ?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Truth or Consequences

Bob Barker has left the building. They made a big to do over his retirement from the Price is Right, somewhat exceeding the value the show has brought to American culture. The greatest comment on the Price is Right was from the movie, "The In-Laws". A CIA man whose chracter was not in the country very often, is talking to a diner cashier and the Price is Right is on the television in the background. The CIA man, played by Peter Falk, watches the show for a few minutes and turns to the cashier to ask, "What's the point here, are they trying to guess the price of all that crap ?" The cashier replies in the affirmative and then Falk asks, "How long has this been on ?" to which the cashier replies "about 100 years.." Actually, it was not that long, but I'm sure that it seemed like it to anyone who stayed home in the day time and saw the show droning on for all the years that it did run.

When I was a kid, Barker was the host of a pretty good show (good if you were 10 years old, or had an I.Q. at about that level) called "Truth or Consequences". The idea of the show (which is actually the unspoken premise of most quiz shows) was to find an aduience member who did not mind making an ass of himself, and then proceed to help him do just that. A similair prime time show was running at the time hosted by Art Linkletter called "People are Funny".An aside here, People Are Funny's theme song had the dumbest lyrics of any show that has ever been on television. I set them out verbatim here: "People are funny do do do do doo do, do do do do doo do, do, do do; doo do do do do, doo do, do do do doo, , people are funny !" The show ran for six successful seasons despite the overbearinbg arrognace of Art Linkletter who is still alive and giving interviews to Larry King.

Back to the premise. Barker's show would feature audience members from the Los Angeles area. Consequently, growing up, I knew more about Pasadena, Anaheim, Tarzana and the various L.A. suburbs than I did any of the areas around my home in Houston. Barker would bring these chucleheads out and ask them an impossible to answer question, which had to be answered before a buzzer went off, about half a second after the question was asked. Barker would then announce that they had not "told the truth" so they would have to pay the "consequences". He would then assign them some humiliating task that often took several hours, or even a week to perform, and if they did O.K. on the task, they might be given a case of Rice Aroni or some matching luggage, never anything too big. Of course the prize was not important,you can't put a price tag on memories like that.Barker did that show for 18 years before moving on to the Price is Right, which was actually the "New Price is Right", a less colorful version of it having been hosted by Bill Cullen some years before. Towards the middle of the run of the show, Barker started hiring women who looked like Hollywood hookers or porn stars as his "Barker's Beauties". As was inevitable, Barker was sued for sexual harrasment by one or more of the "Beauties". He defended himself on national television, I think Sixty Minutes, by saying that he was guilty of nothing more than "a little old fashioned hanky-panky." O.K. At any rate, he survived the law suits and never looked back.

But my memories of Barker will always be from "Truth or Consequences". It came on at 3:30 Texas time, after the Match Game with Gene Rayburn (my introduction to apparent homosexuality). It was so damn hot in Houston at 3:30 in July and August that if you were not down at the pool(where you had been from 10:00 to 12:00) you would be watching the show.Think about those days. It seems amazing that you had three months of vacation every year ,to do what you wanted. It is sad that what you wanted to do was watch Truth or Consequences, but it was a simpler time. I sometimes get nostalgic when I think of Barker and Linkletter and Rayburn and how totally relaxed and carefree my life was. It turned out, of course, that there were "consequences", you had to grow up, nothing perfect lasts forever. So long Bob, I'll look you up the next time I'm in Tarzana.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Fred, Fred the Pig is Dead

A couple of days ago, a picture began appearing on the internet of an 11 year old boy holding a rifle and leaning on top of what appeared to be a rhino. In actuality, the story was that this was a huge feral hog, over nine feet long and weighing over a thousand pounds. It had been brought down by young Jamison Stone after a stalking of more than an hour and God knows how many shots to knock them damn thing down. It was quite a trophy, and made for some pretty big pork chops.

Well it turns out that the pig had only been "in the wild" (actually on a fenced in farm where animals are hunted) for four days. Indeed, the pig had been a Christmas present, when it was a piglet, in December of 2004 to one Rhonda Blissett from her husband Phil. She had named it Fred and they had kept it on their farm, along with some other pigs until about four days before Fred's untimely demise. At that time, they had given it to one Eddy Borden who had apparently immediatly consigned it to the killing fields of his "Lost Creek Plantation" in the wilds of Fruithurst, Alabama. Eddy has not been returning calls on the matter. He is possibly out gathering up the cats and dogs that Lost Creek is passing off as big game to the other "Great White Hunters" of Alabama.

None of this takes anything away from the marksmanship of young Jamison Stone. I'm sure that he faced his moment of truth when he took aim at a nine foot long, thousand pound pig who, only three Christmases ago was being bottle fed by Rhonda.In fact, now that he knows the pig's name, he can have the name "Fred" placed on the mounting when he sticks the pig head up in the family trophy room among all of the other Alabama wild game, the parakeet, the gold fish and the vicious box turtle.

I actually don't see any difference in the shooting of Fred and the way most people in my home state of Texas hunt deer. While we don't exactly bottle feed them here, we do fence them in so that they can't escape the Texas sharpshooters who engage in the state sanctioned slaughter every November. This allows for better selective breeding so that the ranchers (actaully, former ranchers, now "game managers") can guarantee the big racks so prized by those who stalk the dangerous white tail.

I have nothing against hunting, real hunting, at all. I object to these lodges who take $30,000 from you and guarantee that you are going to slaughter some exotic or another. I think it is unsporting the way we trap deer so that they can't get out and have a fair chance of avoiding becoming venison sausage. There is a huge difference in my mind between the sport of hunting and the hobby of shooting trapped, and/or tamed animals and birds. When I was growing up we disdained "catching fish in a barrell" because it was not true sport. I bet old Curt Gowdy on "The American Sportsman"never killed his game that way. When he and Bing Crosby and Phil Harris went bird hunting together, it was the real deal. Man (and a huge rifle and the ABC film crew) against nature.Not man against a family pet, fenced in on a hunting lodge. In death, Fred will be missed. In life, only a blind hunter could have ever missed. That's the real tragedy.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Live Free and/or die

The state of New Hampshire once again refused to sucumb to "Federal Government bribes" yesterday when its Senate again voted down a bill which would have required adults in New Hampshire to wear seat belts. By a vote of 16-8 the state Senate spit in the face of the Department of Transportation's $3.7 million dollars in highway funds it would have been awarded if it had sold out the state heritage of independence. The Democrats in the Senate, on a 14-10 vote, did manage to force through a commission to study the issue. This is a typical Democratic move, turn down money from the Feds and vote to spend more money of your own on a commission which will show, gasp,that seat belts save lives. That's money well spent.

I enjoy New Hampshire. I like their license plate "Live Free or Die". when I drove into New Hampshire last summer, I unbuckled, in tribute to that hearty population which has made the name, "New Hampshire" synonomous, the world over, with the rights of man. As I grow older, my libratarianism, long dormant, begins to come out more and more. One of my partners received a ticket this week for not wearing a seat belt. To add insult to injury, the cop issuing the ticket also demanded to know his social security number. What for ? Was this ticket going to impinge on his ability to collect social security when he retires ? Are the Austin Police now performing Border Patrol duties and trying to catch illegals. The cop had no more need for my partner's social security number than a New Hampshire Ford purchaser has for seat belts. What kind of a nation have we become where every Tom, dick and Harry law Enforcement agent gets to know your Social Security number ? I'll tell you what kind. The kind (in 49 states ) that charges you $147.00 when they catch you not wearing a seat belt.

As if on command, Dr Jack Kevorkian, the greatest libratarian of them all is being released from jail today.Here's a guy who had the temerity to assist a man, who was suffering and dying from Lou Gehrig's disease, to off himself. If I'd been Dr Kavorkian, I would not have sent a tape of the death to ABC News, but let us judge not....This fellow, the so called "Dr Death", has spent eight years in prison because the state can not only make you wear seat belts, it can prevent you from ending your own life in the most dignified and least painful and traumatic way you can imagine.It can make you and your family suffer (and spend) as long as medical science can keep your heart beating.Well if I was Dr Kavorkian, I'd head right to New Hampshire after I got sprung and set up shop again.Suicide may be illegal there also, but I bet that is a law that goes unenforced.The citizens of the greatest state in the Union have more important things to do with their time than to tell you that you have to live when you don't want to.Well I say "hale to thee Dr. Kavorkian, and hale to thee, the Senate of New Hampshire. The government can withold our highway funds,demand our social security numbers, or put us in jail, but they can not break the spirit of those who want to live free and/or die.