Friday, September 25, 2015

Not a Movie Review -- Everest

Everest the motion picture is being released today. I was going to launch into my previously vented rant about the idiots who climb the WORLD'S HIGHEST PEAK!!!

You know the thought process that goes: these are rich, stupid people who spend tens of thousands of dollars to go up a mountain into what they call "The Dead Zone" and in the process walk, stumble and crawl past the bodies of previous climbers. Previous dead climbers.

I was going to express those thoughts again, until I found a few reviews. Check out these snippets.

This brusquely visualized, choppily played epic serves as the latest cinematic opportunity for Mother Nature to flaunt her utter indifference to human survival. 
Justin Chang· Variety
The best argument in favor of what otherwise would be a pointlessly cruel loss of human life are the sweeping, heart-stoppingly beautiful mountain vistas.
Katie Rife - A.V. Club
Still, there's only one star in this movie: Everest.
Peter Travers· Rolling Stone

Friday, September 18, 2015

Pondering On The Road

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Second stop on my Fall '15 road trip. Feeling less than evenly distributed, but this is the life I have chosen. Sometimes I look in the mirror and wonder why I gave that guy so much say in how I lead my life and where I spend my time.

Spending time -- Now there's a concept.

Hey buddy, can you lend me a fortnight?

Friday, September 11, 2015

Kurt Vonnegut on Writing

 “I try to keep deep love out of my stories because, once that particular subject comes up, it is almost impossible to talk about anything else. Readers don’t want to hear about anything else. They go gaga about love. If a lover in a story wins his true love, that’s the end of the tale, even if World War III is about to begin, and the sky is black with flying saucers.”    To the Paris Review, 1977.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Electoral Numbers

As we stumble and mumble towards a presidential selection still 14 months off. I wonder, what does it mean to win an election?

Generally speaking, the winner gets more votes than his or her opponent. The American Presidential election system does create the possibility that someone with fewer votes could be elected. In fact, it happened in 2000; when George W. Bush defeated Al Gore. But this post is not about the number of votes, but rather about the number of voters.

In the 2014 mid-term elections the republican party got 52% of the vote. But since only 35% of the voters turned out to cast their ballots, in fact, the winning party got 17% of the voters to show up on elections day to support them.

Yes, you can make the argument that "those who show up make the decisions." And there's always the old, tired saying about "those who don't vote got no right to complain." Blah, blah, bullshit!

My position is that a huge segment of the population are so sick of the gridlock in Washington. So tired of being so baldly lied to by politicians and their minions, they've stopped participating. Who can blame citizens for believing their votes mean nothing. Or worse, they are offered alternatives that are so gut-wrenchingly weak, they would rather stay home than support either of the two major parties.

So, long-time readers, expecting a third party pitch here? Nope, not yet, too early.

But I would like to offer some perspective from 31 years ago. The last time we had an actual landslide in a presidential election was 1984. Ronald Reagan the great and powerful  savior of the conservative right won a stunning victory over Walter Mondale.

Let me ask you four questions about that election:

1) How many of the 50 states + the District of Columbia did Reagan win?

2) What percent of the vote did Reagan receive?

3) What percent of eligible citizens were registered to vote?

4) What percent of citizens cast their ballot for Ronald Reagan in this landslide election?

Got your answers? You know there's a trick in there somewhere right?

1) How many of the 50 states + the District of Columbia did Reagan win?

Walter Mondale won this home state of Minnesota and the District of Columbia. Reagan won the other 49 states and Puerto Rico. Now that's a landslide, right?

2) What percent of the vote did Reagan receive?

58.8% for Ronnie. Mondale barely eked out 40%.

3) What percent of eligible citizens were registered to vote?

In 1980, over 124 million voters were registered, which represents 71% of those eligible to vote.

4) What percent of citizens eligible to vote, cast their ballot for Ronald Reagan in this landslide election?

Of all those 18 years of age or older and not restricted by felonies or a few other legal barriers to voting, only 53% cast ballots in the 1980 Presidential election. Since Reagan won my a landslide margin of 58.8%, that means of those who could vote to elect the President of the United States, just of 31% of them elected Ronald Reagan in a "landslide."

Would you feel like you had a mandate to rule the country if you got 31% of the people behind you?

p.s. Donald Trump the current darling of American politics is hovering around 25% of potential republican primary voters, if you believe some questionable math. First, the polls do not discriminate between registered voters and just someone who picked up the phone and answered a few questions. What if a democrat gets the call? Why not say you're a republican and support Trump. Polls take the opinion of the voice at the end of the call, without any verification. Taking all the pseudo-math into account, somewhere round 9% of possible, perhaps, maybe voters are supporting Trump on a phone call. Frontrunner?