Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What's a million bucks?

by Dick Mac

Say what you will about Bill Maher: he has the courage of his convictions.

When it comes to the real issues facing the world, most of us are just blow-hards with lots of opinions and very little intention of doing anything. Even when we intend to do something, we usually can't be bothered when it's time to take action.

Maher has never been afraid to express his opinion, and he has lost jobs because of it. I haven't seem him do much about things, though. I don't recall if he participated in the Occupy events, I know he has said he has given money to causes and candidates. I've always believed he is sincere, there is no point lying about that stuff.

Recently, though, he did something that blew my mind: at the end of an appearance, he announced to the audience that he is donating one million dollars to a PAC that supports President Obama.

A million dollars is a lot of money, and he has subsequently said that relative to his wealth, it's a whole lot of money.

Comedian Bill Maher donates $1 million to Obama super PAC

He also pointed out recently that people on the "left" with a lot more money than him have done nothing.

Have you spent any of your money helping a candidate get elected?

Have you volunteered your time?

Are you engaged in the political process?

Are you a participant in society?

Bill Maher's donation shines a light on the rest of us.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Monmouth Town Kingfishers

by Dick Mac

"New car, caviar, four star daydream, I think I'll buy me a football team." Those of us listening to rock radio in the mid-1970s heard Pink Floyd sing that line in their lamenting ode to wealth: "Money" from the Dark Side Of The Moon album.

It was never clear to me as a teenager why anyone would want to buy an NFL team. As a sports fan in the United States, my relationship to the team I root for is detached from the actual club itself. It was a lyric that rhymed well, but didn't mean as much to me as the buying a new car or caviar (items that more effectively reflected wealth, in my young mind).

It was more than twenty-five years before I learned that David Gilmour was singing about a soccer team, not a football team; and that in England, people were passionately related and connected to their team. Some fan clubs have a seat at the board meetings, regular guys like you and me own shares of the club, and people take the management of their team very personally.

I can't imagine any team in the United States ever allowing their fans to be involved with the running of the team, the decision-making process, or the strategic planning. Our leagues are franchise-based. They are guaranteed a share of the league's overall profits, even if they stink. And if a team finishes last, year after year after year, there is no penalty. The team just limps along with the owners reaping millions in income and the fans becoming long-suffering consumers of a product with no quality control. (Remember the Montreal Expos?)

It's a different story in the rest of the world.

Soccer clubs are valuable possessions. English clubs are so valuable, and in such high demand, that American businessmen are now controlling- or partial-owners of three of the top clubs in the English Premier League, and Arabian businessmen and sheikhs own some others.

We can all purchase shares of a club on the open market. If I remember correctly, the last time a move was made for a controlling interest in North London's Arsenal Football Club, shares were selling for $35,000. For one share.

The top clubs in Europe are pretty valuable:

$1,864,000,000 Manchester United
$1,451,000,000 Real Madrid
$1,192,000,000 Arsenal
$1,048,000,000 Bayern Munich
$  975,000,000 Barcelona

Although I have learned about the stock market and learned how to trade, it never entered my mind to consider shares of a sports team.

Then a friend told me about the Five Pound Football Club (FPFC), an international collection of sports fans that each send five quid to the club and the FPFC would invest in a team willing to give us a seat at the table.

The founders of the FPFC believed that the collective wisdom, knowledge and enthusiasm of a group of fans could help a team in the lower leagues.

So, for eight bucks ($7.93, to be precise), I hooked my boat to a dream, and became an owner of Monmouth Town Football Club:
Our Five Pound Football Club community is a passionate group of football fans from around the globe that believe their pooled resources, knowledge and enthusiasm can help to develop a successful, sustainable club.

See, Online Five Pound Football Club community to invest in Monmouth Town
My team is doing very well this year and will likely be promoted to the next higher league next season. I will not take time to explain the nuances of promotion and relegation in international team sports, but in a nutshell: if you are really good, you get moved up to the next higher league and make more money. If you are really bad, you are bumped down to the next lower league and make less money. There is a real incentive to not stink.

The other owners of the club have embraced our ownership and this Saturday is Five Pound Football day at the team's match against Newport.

Since I will not be in Wales this weekend, I can't attend. But, if you are in the area, perhaps you'd like to check out my team and let me know what you think. If you can make it, here's some handy directions:

The postcode is NP25 3. Exit the A40 at the tunnels and follow the B4293 (Cinderhill Street) towards the town centre. Turn right to the bridge over the River Monnow, continuing on the B4293, and take the second exit onto Blestium Street. Monmouth Sports Ground will be immediately on your right, opposite Waitrose.

Let them know Dick Mac sent you!

Go you Kingfishers!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Obama Mix Tape

President Barack Obama's handlers released a playlist for his re-election campaign.

I didn't know candidates did such a thing. But, now that I know they do, I'd like to see the playlist from Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, et al.

Romney's will likely be most interesting, because it would be like a Top 40 radio station: the list would change regularly depending on the mood of the consumers.

Here is Obama's list:
  1. Different People – No Doubt
  2. Got to Get You in My Life – Earth, Wind & Fire
  3. Green Onions- Booker T & The MG’s
  4. I Got You – Wilco
  5. Keep on Pushing – The Impressions
  6. Keep Reachin’ Up – Nicole Willis & the Soul Investigators
  7. Love You I Do – Jennifer Hudson
  8. No Nostalgia – AgesAndAges
  9. Raise Up – Ledisi
  10. Stand Up – Sugarland
  11. This – Darius Rucker
  12. We Used To Wait – Arcade Fire
  13. You’ve Got the Love – Florence and the Machine
  14. Your Smiling Face – James Taylor
  15. Roll with the Changes – REO Speedwagon
  16. Everyday America – Sugarland
  17. Learn to Live – Darius Rucker
  18. Let’s Stay Together – Al Green
  19. Mr. Blue Sky – Electric Light Orchestra
  20. My Town – Montgomery Gentry
  21. The best thing about me is you – Ricky Martin ft. Joss Stone
  22. You are the Best Thing – Ray Lamontagne
  23. Keep Marchin’ – Raphael Saadiq
  24. Tonight’s The Kind of Night – Noah and the Whale
  25. We Take Care of our Own – Bruce Springsteen
  26. Keep Me In Mind – Zac Brown Band
  27. The Weight – Aretha Franklin
  28. Even Better Than The Real Thing – U2
  29. Home – Dierks Bentley

The absence of Jay-Z is glaring. I thought Obama was a big fan.

There are only five songs that I would bother with, and perhaps three or four more that I wouldn't turn off.

Still, it's an impressive list for a Commander-in-Chief.

Perhaps our country can be brought (kicking & screaming) into the 21st Century.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Nina Simone - Ain't Got No/I Got Life - Music Video

by Dick Mac

The 79th anniversary of Nina Simone's birth was this past Tuesday, February 21st. I had the good fortune of seeing Simone perform at Symphony Hall, in Boston, in the mid-1980s. It was a remarkable show.

Then, in 2002, I was taken by surprise when she appeared on the Rainforest Benefit line-up at Carnegie Hall. That night I cried. Yup! There I was in the front row of the Dress Circle, in my tuxedo, watching and listening to an elderly, almost frail, Nina Simone sing George Harrison's "Here Comes The Sun"!

I couldn't stop the tears. She was so powerful and her rendition of the song so moving that I couldn't control myself.

She died almost exactly one year later, on April 21, 2003. She was 70.

She recorded and performed a number of George Harrison songs throughout her career.

The medley "Ain't Got No/I Got Life" is from the musical "Hair." It appeared on Simone's album "'Nuff Said" in 1968.

A belated happy birthday, Nina Simone.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Happy Birthday Presents

by Dick Mac

Although I still look amazingly young, I do age.

I live the delusion that I am older than you think.

I have a birthday this weekend, and I have a birthday wish.

I'm getting an early start so you can get the gifts rolling-in before they become belated.

Belated gifts are happily accepted.

To help my wish come true, you don't even have to leave the house.

Just get your credit card, sit right there, click this link, and follow the instructions: Dick Mac's Birthday Wish.

Thank you for your consideration and your generosity.

And you can buy my book, too:

Dead Enz
Kyle G. Brixton
Limited Availability at

Dead Enz
Kyle G. Brixton
from the publisher

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Canadian Halloween

by Dick Mac

Yesterday, I was searching for a picture of a Ku Klux Klansman waving an American flag. I wanted to make a point about the kind of people who wave the American flag when they are upset about something and want to make a point.

I found this picture:

For a Halloween party at a Royal Canadian Legion post a couple years ago, two members dressed in rather controversial, but award-winning costumes: One in KKK robe and hood, the other with black face and a noose around his neck.

I had to follow the link and then do a little searching to find the news article.

You know you're in for a real treat when an article includes this line:

"My dad's not racist, his best friend is black," the son said.

Campbellford Legion closes over KKK Halloween costume furor

Terry Nunn and his friend Blair Crowley won the "most original costume" prize.

Mr. Crowley thinks the incident was blown out of proportion, because it was "just a joke." The article goes on:
Mr. Crowley "randomly decided to roll up a piece of bristol board and throw on a sheet" a half-hour before the party, his son recalled.

"Maybe he should have just gone to the Legion as Raggedy Ann and Andy with my mom, like he was supposed to."

Hmmmm . . . maybe he should have.

You just can't make-up this stuff!

Thanks to Sabina Becker, at the "News of the Restless" blog for the heads-up with this article published in 2010.

More reading:

Ku Klux Klan costume won't result in criminal charges

KKK costume shocks Ont. town

Campbellford reels after Halloween costume furor

Letter to the Editor, Racism is no joke

Campbellford Legion reopens, internal investigation continues

And the Google search offers more.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


by Dick Mac

As my friend Henry has taken to saying: "I hear Whitney Houston died."

There was a funeral Saturday, and her family avoided a spectacle.

Houston's death was not a surprise to most. She had led a drug-addled life in a tumultuous relationship with singer Bobby Brown. Word is that she often tried to clean-up, and that she died while using prescription drugs, not illicit drugs; that her body just gave-up.

The toxicology report will tell more details.

In America, there is a particularly odd fetish with flags, their meaning, and their importance. The flag is revered as a symbol of our greatness and most Americans get more upset by desecration of a flag than by the gutting of the U.S. Constitution. They wave it around in heated pitches about Jesus Christ and the other founding fathers. (Oh, wait, you mean Jesus wasn't a founding father?)

These faux-patriots swinging flagpoles around often appear to consider themselves "conservative" and "old-fashioned" and "concerned about family values."

They (and I generalize) often wave the flag around while working to deny citizens their civil rights, or condemning the lifestyles of people with whom they are uncomfortable, or just to scream and cry in the face of progress and human development.

Others (and I generalize) burn the flag in protest of government policy, most often war. Maybe it is always over the issue of war.

Perhaps the most moving use of a flag is the draping of a coffin. When the remains of fallen soldiers are brought back to the United States, the coffins are always shrouded in the American flag. One is a powerful image; but sometimes there are multiple coffins and I find it even more disturbing and saddening.

No matter the reason people use to honor or desecrate a flag, it is a powerful symbol for us as Americans. People get very emotional about the status of the flag and its role in our nation.

The flag is used and abused in many ways. I recall a western movie I saw in the 1960s. Some bad guys had taken control of an outpost on the road West. The next morning, the captive proprietor explained to the bad guys that the military patrol would expect to see his flag flying at dawn, and if he didn't raise it they would certainly come and investigate. The sly old fox then hung the flag upside-down, which signaled the patrol and they came to his rescue.

Perhaps the most common use of the flag to communicate a particular message, is the flying of a flag at half-staff (I have also heard it called half-mast, but that might be just in a nautical description).

I found this explanation:
In the United States, the President can issue an executive order for the flag of the United States to be flown at half-staff upon the death of principal figures of the United States government, and others, as a mark of respect to their memory.

See, Half-staff at

My understanding is that a governor can also order the flag to half-staff.

During the public outcry of sadness and support for Whitney Houston's family, friends and fans, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie ordered that the flags be flown at half-staff. A touching gesture for a very famous New Jersey native.

Of course, somebody was offended.

John Burri, of Michigan, believes it was offensive. Beyond his obvious hegemony and xenophobia, there seems little to support his argument that it was offensive. Like many "hawks" and "conservatives," he has a very narrow and incorrect interpretation of American law and legal tradition. The flag isn't being used the way he thinks it should be used, so he will burn it.

Burri believes that because his son died a hero soldier, in 2005, that flying the flag at half-staff for a state's native cultural giant is wrong -- well, THIS cultural giant, at least.
"They're watering down the term of what a true hero is these days," John Burri told ABC News. "I thought it was offensive to every family's fallen solider out there, and it cheapens the meaning of lowering the flag."

John Burri, Father of Fallen Soldier, Burns NJ Flag to Protest Whitney Houston Tribute

I know: huge disconnect. How he gets from the honor and glory of his son's untimely death to the gesture of a governor honoring a cultural icon a thousand miles away is beyond me.

Something tells me he'd have no problem with it if John Wayne or Charlton Heston or Ted Nugent died.

That's just how faux-patriots behave: they have no knowledge of facts, laws, rights, or Constitution legacy. They have feelings (and when it comes to people different from them, they have strong feelings) and they wave the flag around to make a point, as if they even know what the flag and the Constitution represent.

I thought it odd that the flags were lowered to half-mast; but I do not see any problem with it. The governor can make certain gestures and this is what he chose. Good for him!

I will light a candle at church for Mr. Burri's son. And I will pray that Mr. Burri finds some peace and acceptance in his troubled life.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Whitney Houston Must Have Missed This Video

by Dick Mac

The passing of Whitney Houston is sad in many ways. Addiction, mental illness, and the travels of lost souls are always fodder for tragedy and tragic story-telling.

In the 1980s, I tried to listen to Whitney Houston songs. She had an amazing voice. She was beautiful. She had a presence that commanded attention. She had all of it.

Yet, I only ever purchased one record: an imported Japanese CD of "How Will I Know" remixes. It was pretty fabulous. I wish I still had it, actually. Perhaps I'll check the MP3 stores.

The reason I didn't purchase her music was that she chose painfully dull songs. Painfully dull. Her material was just so boring that (for me) her magnificent talent was wasted. Her voice was the best voice of her generation and perhaps one of the best ever.

Houston was from a clan and an inner circle of talented singers that amazed the world before her: Cissy Houston, Aretha Franklin, and Dionne Warwick. Contrary to popular notion, she was not related to Thelma Houston (nee Jackson), who was from Georgia, not New Jersey.

When I look at Houston's catalog, it reminds me of songs sung by Dionne Warwick. Nice songs. Clever songs. Hit songs. But *yawn* please: a little bit goes a long way. Warwick was a singer of brilliant and lovely songs from Hal David & Burt Bacharach; Houston did not have such a team behind her. While Warwick managed hits year after year after year, Houston's discography is rather limited.

If Houston had taken a different path in career development, she may have had more and bigger hits. I suspect that she never saw this footage of Ike & Tina Turner and the Ikettes on Playboy After Dark (or else she would have had a tad more soul and a tad less saccharine-sweetness):

That said, my words will never take away her legacy. Her huge hits, her cross-over success, and her rendition of the National Anthem at the 1991 Super Bowl are all part of cultural history.

I wish she had sung like Tina Turner, and her untimely death before a comeback leaves a gap in the music industry and music history.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Roland Martin and Raynard Jackson

Warning: the 'n' word is used in this article.

by Dick Mac

No! It's not OK to be a homophobe, even if you're black. This notion that black men somehow get a pass on homophobia is not acceptable.

Making jokes about effeminate men, or bisexual men, or homosexual men, or celibate men -- making fag jokes -- is no more acceptable than making nigger jokes. Sure, some people might laugh - some out of nervousness, some out of true hatred -- but we all know it's wrong.

CNN suspended Roland Martin, one of its commentators, last month after he tweeted a homophobic remark about David Beckham's underwear. Any man who was interested in seeing the Super Bowl ad for Beckham's underwear, according to Martin, needs to be beaten. He wrote:
Ain't no real bruhs going to H&M to buy some damn David Beckham underwear! ..If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham's H&M underwear ad, smack the sh@t out of him!

Why is Mr. Martin talking about some half-naked guy's underwear? Another quote comes to mind:
The lady protests too much, methinks.

I mean, look at his picture, he even looks like a closeted fag. Can't you see it?

Oh, I'm just kidding. Really! It's just a joke. Know what I mean?

Imagine if Dan Patrick or Boomer Esiason ever tweeted during the Super Bowl:
If a black dude @ yr Super Bowl party thinks yr daughters attractive, u better lynch him.
We would all be shocked. They would be fired (not suspended) and they may actually be arrested or sued.

Then comes forward "black conservative" (tee-hee - I know, poor thing), Raynard Jackson, to turn this into a racial issue and explain that gay people want special status. You see, since Martin is black, then Jackson is shocked that he has been "tarred and feathered" (his words) by the homosexuals.

The public dialog in defense of Martin has also included that old homophobic stand-by that being homosexual is not the same thing as being black. Duh-huh, no shit Holmes! Unless, of course, the homosexual is black, then it is exactly the same.

But nobody is saying that being gay is like being black!

Hating homosexuals is the same thing as hating blacks, however. It's hate.

And advocating violence against homosexuals is the same thing as advocating violence against blacks. It's illegal.

And sharing bigoted feelings about homosexuals is the same thing as sharing bigoted feelings about blacks. It's immoral.

Roland Martin and Raynard Jackson are sick men, they have hearts filled with hate. They do not need to be suspended from their jobs, they need deep psychological counseling.

I know, I know, Martin was only joking. You know, joking like this:
Look at his big eyes and his watermelon smile, he's a jungle-bunny, a little black Sambo, he's baggy-lipped and his big thighs make it hard for him to swim. You know, he's probably syphilitic! I mean, I'm not a racist, but he is a nigger, really, and he doesn't deserve any special treatment. But, you know, I'm really only joking. Know what I mean? It's all just a couple of guys shooting the breeze. No harm intended. Right?
None of that is acceptable. I should not even have written it. I want to highlight that we all know it's wrong to spew forth racist garbage like that; but somehow a huge part of our society thinks it's OK to spew forth that kind of garbage about homosexuals.

Using the notion that Martin was only kidding means that anyone who wants to spew forth the words I wrote above are allowed to do so because, well, you know . . . it's just a joke.

Ha - ha - ha.

Roland Martin, CNN, GLAAD and the silence of black leaders

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Must Be Nice to Have a Comeback.

by Dick Mac

Robyn Rihanna Fenty, a/k/a Rihanna, was seriously beaten-up by her then-boyfriend, Chris Brown, in 2009.

I thought the story and Chris Brown were long over with.

Oddly, Chris Brown appeared on this year's Grammy Awards. TWICE!

Lest we forget, during this orgy of Chris Brown Comeback Glory, I offer you the text of the police report from the incident:
"Brown was driving a vehicle with Robyn F. as the front passenger on an unknown street in Los Angeles. Robyn F. picked up Brown's cellular phone and observed a three-page text message from a woman who Brown had a previous sexual relationship with.

"A verbal argument ensued and Brown pulled the vehicle over on an unknown street, reached over Robyn F. with his right hand, opened the car door and attempted to force her out. Brown was unable to force Robyn F. out of the vehicle because she was wearing a seat belt. When he could not force her to exit, he took his right hand and shoved her head against he passenger window of the vehicle, causing an approximate one-inch raised circular contusion.

"Robyn F. turned to face Brown and he punched her in the left eye with his right hand. He then drove away in the vehicle and continued to punch her in the face with his right hand while steering the vehicle with his left hand. The assault caused Robyn F.'s mouth to fill with blood and blood to splatter all over her clothing and the interior of the vehicle.

"Brown looked at Robyn F. and stated, 'I'm going to beat the sh-- out of you when we get home! You wait and see!' "

The detective said "Robyn F." then used her cell phone to call her personal assistant Jennifer Rosales, who did not answer.

"Robyn F. pretended to talk to her and stated, 'I'm on my way home. Make sure the police are there when I get there.'

"After Robyn F. faked the call, Brown looked at her and stated, 'You just did the stupidest thing ever! Now I'm really going to kill you!'

"Brown resumed punching Robyn F. and she interlocked her fingers behind her head and brought her elbows forward to protect her face. She then bent over at the waist, placing her elbows and face near her lap in [an] attempt to protect her face and head from the barrage of punches being levied upon her by Brown.

"Brown continued to punch Robyn F. on her left arm and hand, causing her to suffer a contusion on her left triceps (sic) that was approximately two inches in diameter and numerous contusions on her left hand.

"Robyn F. then attempted to send a text message to her other personal assistant, Melissa Ford. Brown snatched the cellular telephone out of her hand and threw it out of the window onto an unknown street.

"Brown continued driving and Robyn F. observed his cellular telephone sitting in his lap. She picked up the cellular telephone with her left hand and before she could make a call he placed her in a head lock with his right hand and continued to drive the vehicle with his left hand.

"Brown pulled Robyn F. close to him and bit her on her left ear. She was able to feel the vehicle swerving from right to left as Brown sped away. He stopped the vehicle in front of 333 North June Street and Robyn F. turned off the car, removed the key from the ignition and sat on it.

"Brown did not know what she did with the key and began punching her in the face and arms. He then placed her in a head lock positioning the front of her throat between his bicep and forearm. Brown began applying pressure to Robyn F.'s left and right carotid arteries, causing her to be unable to breathe and she began to lose consciousness.

"She reached up with her left hand and began attempting to gouge his eyes in an attempt to free herself. Brown bit her left ring and middle fingers and then released her. While Brown continued to punch her, she turned around and placed her back against the passenger door. She brought her knees to her chest, placed her feet against Brown's body and began pushing him away. Brown continued to punch her on the legs and feet, causing several contusions.

"Robyn F. began screaming for help and Brown exited the vehicle and walked away. A resident in the neighborhood heard Robyn F.'s plea for help and called 911, causing a police response. An investigation was conducted and Robyn F. was issued a Domestic Violence Emergency Protective Order."

See, search warrant
So! This is the guy we should applaud during the Grammys?

You know, I believe in a second-chance, but it is generally preceded by an enormous amount of contrition.

I haven't seen contrition sufficient to merit a second chance.

A lot has been written about this. See, this Google search.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Limited Unlimited? Unlimited Limits?

by Dick Mac

I am often surprised at how misinformed I am.

I was under the mistaken impression that "unlimited" meant without limits.

Irrespective of the actual definition of "unlimited" it even sounds like it means without limits. I was surfing around the web trying to confirm my suspicion that unlimited does, indeed, mean without limits. I found these tidbits:
un·lim·it·ed \-ˈli-mə-təd\ adj
1: lacking any controls : unrestricted
2: boundless, infinite
3: not bounded by exceptions : undefined

See, Merriam-Webster.
And this:
un·lim·it·ed (n-lm-td) adj.
1. Having no restrictions or controls: an unlimited travel ticket.
2. Having or seeming to have no boundaries; infinite: an unlimited horizon.
3. Without qualification or exception; absolute: unlimited self-confidence.

See, The Free Dictionary
Unlimited may refer to:
An unlimited or infinite quantity
See, wikipedia
And this:
un·lim·it·ed   [uhn-lim-i-tid] adjective
1. not limited; unrestricted; unconfined: unlimited trade.
2. boundless; infinite; vast: the unlimited skies.
3. without any qualification or exception; unconditional.


So, unlimited means without limits.

An unlimited salad bar means I can graze at that crap salad bar in the middle of the restaurant until I am bloated so much that I can't eat another bite.

Unlimited coffee, usually referred to as a bottomless cup of coffee, means my mug will be re-filled with coffee, either automatically or on demand, until I pay my bill.

An unlimited data plan means that I can use the data portion of my telephone service as much as I like through every billing cycle.

An unlimited supply means that there is an inexhaustible amount of whatever we are discussing.

Except when it doesn't mean that.

That is, your unlimited plan actually does have a limit (even though you signed-up and are paying for a plan with no limits).

AT&T has started cutting the data speeds of the top 5% of their data users. They insist it is part of an attempt to manage data usage on its network. You pay for unlimited service, but AT&T has put a limit on your service.

Once you pass an arbitrary amount of usage (seemingly around 2.5 GB per month), AT&T cuts your speed by 99%. NINETY-NINE PERCENT. They all but shut you down, even though you have, in good faith, paid them for unlimited service. Even if you are only half-way into the billing cycle!

Unfair is a word that comes to mind. Immoral is another word for AT&T's action. Certainly it is a breach of contract, unless the Unlimited contract actually states that is limited, then it's fraud.

Hey! I have an idea: let's deregulate the telecommunications industry. Prices will go down, competition will increase, all while employees and shareholders will all earn more money. It's simple.

AT&T customers surprised by 'unlimited data' limit

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sad, But Not Unexpected Or Surprising

by Dick Mac

Through the years I have known quite a few drug addicts and alcoholics.


It seems that I gravitate towards people who like to drink and party. Far more than half of my friends throughout the years have been junkies or drunks or coke fiends (as I once heard them referred to in a movie). They are my favorite kind of people.

I've watched people recover from years of alcohol and drug abuse and go on to lead relatively healthy, normal lives.

I have seen people get sick, go crazy, lose everything, and become unemployable from years of drug and alcohol abuse.

I have seen people go to prison because of drug and alcohol abuse.

I have seen people die, die young, from diseases related to drug and alcohol abuse (AIDS, cirrhosis, renal failure, etc.); or the crimes and violence related to drug and alcohol abuse (drunk driving, shootings, robberies, etc.).

I was a volunteer in the Massachusetts Department of Corrections for five years in the mid-1990s. I had regular contact with inmates in many different prisons. Although I never kept count, nor did I meet every prisoner in the system, I would say that more than 75% of the men and women I met were imprisoned for a crime they committed directly related to their consumption or, or relationship to, drugs and alcohol.

As I've aged (and probably because I've become more cynical), it appears to me that most shootings that take place follow a pattern: 'I got drunk, had an argument with my husband and shot him' or 'I got drunk and when I came home my girlfriend was in bed with her ex, so I shot her' or 'I needed money to cop, so I robbed a convenience store and shot the clerk,' etc.

Are these representative of all the shootings in America? No, of course not. But I believe they are representative of a huge percentage of shootings in America and the story almost always includes some relationship to alcohol or drugs.

I am no prohibitionist. I do not think drugs and alcohol are inherently bad. I do not believe they should be outlawed. In fact, I believe that the decriminalization of all recreational drugs would greatly reduce the number of crimes committed by drug users, and would not increase the number of automobile fatalities or family shootings we currently witness.

The older (and more cynical) I get, the more I believe drugs are illegal to help prop-up the prison population. Incarceration is, after all, a growth industry in the United States. It may be the only growth industry in the United States! But, a discussion of privately-owned prisons for profit is a different discussion.

This is actually a discussion about Whitney Houston.

Watching her travel life's road from massive success and perhaps the greatest voice of her generation to an incoherent and decrepit drug addict has been sad. Nobody actually knows what leads one person to addiction and not another person from the same station in life, but theories prevail. And these theories, as fascinating as they may be, are not excuses for the excesses and destructive behavior of a drunk or junkie.

I wasn't a bug fan of her music. I believe she wasted that amazing voice singing saccharine-sweet pablum, instead of good, hard rock and soul. She was more like Dionne Warwick than Tina Turner. I always hoped that Houston would release an album of covers from Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, and other hard-rocking singers; but it never happened.

Her rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner at the Super Bowl in 1991 was so amazing that it was released as a single. It reached the Top 20 on the Billboard charts. The only other recording of the song to break into the Hot 100 was Jose Feliciano's, which reached #50.

I understand that more details of her death will be released later today, but they are just details. Did she die of an overdoes, or did she take an overdose and drown? Did she have an accidental overdose, or was it suicide? Did her body just finally give out after years of hard living and massive drug use? Those are just details, like the color of the bathroom tiles and whether or not she was found dead in the nude. Irrelevant.

The story is the death of a woman at the relatively young age of 48. It is a sad story. And, sadly, a story we hear far too often.

Now THAT'S how to sing the National Anthem.

There will probably never be another voice that will sing that song so amazingly.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Jocko Homo, Devo - 1977

by Dick Mac

Devolution, de-evolution, or backward evolution is the notion that a species can change into a more "primitive" form. See, Devolution (biology).

Devo is an American band formed in 1973 consisting of members from Kent and Akron, Ohio. See, Devo

Jocko Homo: a straight jock who is so straight and so jock-like that he's obviously a neandertal and/or gay. Almost always from the suburbs. See, jocko homo

Excerpt of lyrics
Jocko Homo, by Devo:
They tell us that
We lost our tails
Evolving up
From little snails
I say it's all
Just wind in sails
Are we not men?
We are Devo!
Are we not men?

God made man
But he used the monkey to do it
Apes in the plan
We're all here to prove it
I can walk like an ape
Talk like an ape
Do what a monkey can do
God made man
But a monkey supplied the glue

Are we not men?
We are Devo!

Thursday, February 09, 2012

How Can You Believe Such A Thing?

by Dick Mac

I am a Catholic, which means I am a Christian, which means I find the teachings of Christ to be worthy of a role in determining my morals, values, etc.

As a Catholic, I believe that Christ loved all people, condemned nobody, comforted the poor, the sick, and the troubled, fed the hungry, and clothed the naked. I do not believe he had any desire to change the laws of the land, or invent a hierarchy in which some men could tell other men how to live their lives.

I believe that being a Christian isn't so much about obeying commandments, as it is about being Christlike: being charitable, loving, helpful, caring, graceful, sober and moderate, generous, humble, and hard-working. I am expected to embrace life, live it to its fullest, and use my resources to make the world a better place for everyone.

I am certain that Christ would have me treat the mentally-ill with dignity and respect, and to help them adjust to life in a complicated world.

I am certain that Christ would frown on my choosing to spend my days and nights loaded on dope; but he would not condemn me for it.

I am certain that Christ would expect me to comfort those troubled by life's decisions and the difficulty of making some choices that hurt our hearts so very much.

I am certain Christ would not want me to carry a gun, just because I have the right to carry a gun.

I know that when I am boastful, I am not Christ-like.

I believe that Christ would expect me to embrace modernization, technology, and change; and I believe he would, too.

I know that Christ would consider a decision to change my appearance with elective plastic surgery to be a poor choice.

I know that when angry, I need to temper my tongue and act like a man of dignity, as Christ might.

I know that while Christ would be very happy for my financial success, he would frown on the notion that I would simply hoard my wealth and use it to isolate myself from the world.

I know that when my stomach aches from over-eating I am not eating in a sane, sober, moderate and graceful manner -- the manner in which Christ would eat and drink.

I know that when I am jealous of my neighbors' possessions or station in life, instead of being happy for him or her, I am being selfish and not Christlike.

I know that when I use my free time to lay around the house, I am not doing the work of Christ.

None of this means that I do not do some of those things, and I think when I do these things it is a sign of my humanity, my human-ness, not inherent evilness. And I believe that Jesus would not recommend we be punished, but that we take these experiences, learn from them, and rise to the challenge that is being a better person.

I believe that Christ was politically active in his community and that I must be politically active, too.

I believe Jesus Christ was open-minded and forward-thinking, not conservative and reactionary.

I believe Christ's public displays of defiance were revolutionary and make him worthy of my admiration.

I believe Christ would not make public displays of condemning individuals for their life decisions, and would never suggest the passage of laws that isolated one group of people.

I believe Christ knew homosexuals and foreigners and prostitutes and drunkards and tax collectors, and that they were part of his social circle, that they were his friends, that he loved them and treated them with dignity and respect.

I think Christ knew people who had children and that he loved them as much as the people who had no children.

I believe Christ wept when his friends were in pain, when he could not relieve their personal burden, or their emotional strife, and I believe he cried with them and comforted them.

I believe that Christ would never presume to dictate who his friends and neighbors could love.

I believe Christ would never make a public display of preventing someone in need from getting the help they needed.

I believe Christ respected all life, including the surrounding plants, water, and animals.

I believe that Christ would comfort, not condemn, a woman who lost a child in pregnancy, whether through biology, sickness, or choice.

I believe that Christ would be very disappointed in the society in which I live.

I believe Christ would be distressed to see his image associated with people or organizations that promote carrying guns.

I believe Christ would be disappointed not in the decision of a woman to have an abortion, but that we were a society that places so little value on child-rearing and health care, that the choice to terminate a pregnancy is more sensible than embarking on the journey of parenting.

I believe Christ would support the marriage of any two people in a loving relationship, and encourage them to build a family - no matter their race, creed, sex, financial station, or religious beliefs.

I believe Christ would expect a wealthy society to use its resources to eradicate hunger, homelessness, and all forms of poverty. I do not believe Christ would blame those in need for their needs.

I believe that Christ would make a public display of his opposition to war.

I believe Christ would consider any cognizant, breathing human being to be a person.

I believe that Christ would never entertain a discussion about whether or not an egg or a sperm was a person. He might even laugh at me for suggesting such a thing.

I believe that Christ would respect the personal freedom of all people.

I believe Christ would be pro-choice, anti-war, and oppose the death penalty.

I believe Christ would be a liberal in today's America, and I believe he would be dismayed to see his image associated with the hate, fear-mongering, and unbridled avarice of American "conservatives."

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Risky Or Sauced?

by Dick Mac

In the cocaine-addled days of the early-1980s, I knew a person whose car license plates read "RISKY". I thought it was amusing. It was intended, in some way, I assume, to be ironic.

After I knew the person for a while, I realized that he was pulled-over by police in traffic more than anyone else I knew. It was 1981, in Boston, and he was a white guy driving a nice car. Generally, at that time, in that place, men who fit that description did not get randomly pulled over by traffic cops.

I concluded that the license plates attracted the attention of the police and although it was sort of funny, and ironic, and cute, it was a bad idea.

I hadn't thought about that license plate for thirty-ish years, until this morning. On the news page of one of the internet sites, there was a story about a professional football player pulled-over for speeding.

He was driving 70 MPH in a construction zone that limited speed to 45 MPH. There were some details that might have led to his encounter with police: He is young. He is black. He was driving a Bentley. Oh, yeah, and his license plate read "SAUCED"!


Irrespective of the color of his skin, his age, or the quality of his vehicle, his license place implies that he is drunk. Unless in Denver, Colorado, sauced means something besides intoxication (and I don't think it does), this guys is advertising that he is driving drunk!

Not surprisingly, after being pulled-over for speeding, a sobriety test was administered. Not surprisingly, the breath meter read "sauced"!

His employer, the NFL team Denver Broncos, released a statement that reads:
We take the incident involving Knowshon Moreno very seriously and are thoroughly reviewing this matter. Our organization will continue to gather information and closely monitor this issue while the legal process runs its course.

See, Denver Bronco's Knowshon Moreno hit with DUI charge, at The Daily Caller site.

Nick Spano at the Flopping Out blog put it simplest and best: "You honestly couldn't be that stupid if you tried."

Knowshon Moreno charged with DUI; has a license plate that reads SAUCED

Denver Broncos' Knowshon Moreno hit with DUI charge - The Denver Post

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

OMG! A Powerful Man Had An Extramarital Affair! Heaven Forfend!

by Dick Mac

During the Reagan Administration, as the country moved into a bizarre cultural arena of puritanism, false piety, and unbridled avarice, I found the anti-sex, pro-hysteria campaigns of the religious right to be frightening.

It had all started a few years earlier with Anita Bryant's campaign against homosexuals. In the South and Florida, I saw cars with bumper stickers proclaiming: "Kill A Queer For Christ"! Suddenly, as if it was 1952 again, people were being persecuted because of their sexual orientation and sexual activity.

It was as if the 1960s had never happened, and Saint Ronald Reagan folded this un-American movement into his campaign and brought a fake morality to the table. It actually became a cornerstone of his Presidency.

Reagan's participation in this anti-sex, anti-homosexuality, anti-woman cultural movement blinded him. He was so blinded by his hatred for all things sexual that when AIDS struck the Western Hemisphere, the United States in particular, he was mute. As western civilization was confronted with its first plague in decades, St. Reagan and his cabal were unable to see that the long term impact of AIDS might mean more than the elimination of homosexuals. Elimination of homosexuals (his own son included, I assume) was A-OK with St. Reagan. After all, it's in the Bible.

St. Reagan was hardly the most vociferous "conservative" in the anti-sex, anti-homosexuality movement; but we was certainly the most powerful. And he used his power imprudently.

During the reign of St. Reagan, conservatives managed to convince Americans to ignore economic policy changes that would change their lives forever, and to focus on the sex lives of those they do not like.

St. Reagan did such an amazing job disguising the true conservative agenda of economic ruin with irrational fear of sex, that both are now part of the American reality. There is no economy left, and what is left is not trickling down; and there is an amazingly successful conservative infrastructure working to deny people their rights (civil and human) based solely on their participation in sexual activity, their selection of partners, and their personal preferences.

So insane is our country, that we actually treat these people as if they have a valid point to make about human sexuality. In reality, the premise of their arguments is rooted in five-thousand-year-old writings of some lunatics in the desert.

Then Bill Clinton was elected president.

He was a young, virile, handsome, brilliant, charismatic man. He is still those things but with the word "young" removed from the description. The comparisons to John F. Kennedy flew through our lives and most of the comparisons were accurate.

Then his policy on monogamy was publicized and we learned he was more like JFK than we'd thought. JFK was suspected of marital infidelity in a different time. The 1960s was a time when sex was considered a positive thing, "cheating" was the burden of an otherwise good man, and what other people did behind closed doors was nobody's business but their own. So, when JFK's dalliances came to light, nobody cared.

Today, however, the media are more obsessed with JFK's sex life than ever before.

Mimi Alford was a 19-year-old intern at the White House when she began an affair with President Kennedy. She has kept her story private for decades. Now, at 68, she tells her story.

Read the shocking tale:

Once Upon a Secret
Mimi Alford

Monday, February 06, 2012

When A Liar Lies About A Lie, Is It The Truth? No!

by Dick Mac

The charity known as the Susan G Komen For The Cure foundation is a political organization. Many charities are political organizations. The Ku Klux Klan was founded as a charitable organization.

The woman who runs Komen and most benefits from its success is Nancy G. Brinker, a Republican large donor and heavy-hitter.

Last December, Komen and Brinker made a calculated political move, and joined with other conservative (right-wing) organizations in a concerted effort to defund and destroy Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood is a family-planning organization that provides everything from health education, sex education and birth control assistance to breast cancer screening and abortions. Planned Parenthood was founded in Brooklyn, NY, in 1916 by a small group of women, led by Margaret Sanger. It is a reputable, well-respected, important federation of clinics that is supported by the majority of Americans.

Planned Parenthood is the focus of a campaign by the right-wing who want its doors shuttered and will stop at nothing to destroy the organization. This group is very small, and they raise money from few but wealthy supporters.

Komen raises their millions with charitable events and sales of pink items. Buy Pink is one of their slogans, and millions of women from every walk of life don their sneakers and trainers and walk millions of miles to collect money you and I pledge to them.

Komen then distributes that money among other charitable organizations (clinics, hosptials, researchers, etc.) working to prevent and find a cure for breast cancer.

Komen provided Planned Parenthood with just over half-a-million dollars a year to fund breast cancer screening (mammograms) to women who could not afford the test. This donation perfectly illustrated the charity's published mission statement to help prevent and find a cure for breast cancer.

Last December, Komen joined the list of right-wing organizations working in concert to prevent women from having access to reproductive health care services (including breast cancer and abortion), and quietly severed their relationship with Planned Parenthood. They adopted a new rule that no funds would be provided to any organization under investigation.

This grossly vague criterion was used to sever Komen's relationship with Planned Parenthood; but no other grant recipient was affected. That is: Komen didn't even bother to find out if any other beneficiary of its largess might be under investigation.

Komen passed this rule to hurt Planned Parenthood, and when the relationship was severed, they moved on with their real work: selling little pink t-shirts at thirty-five dollars a pop.

The removal of this funding perfectly illustrates Komen's unwritten political mission to wipe-out middle-class, working class, and impoverished-class access to birth control, abortion, and other reproductive health care services.

Just as Saint Ronald Reagan made the destruction of reproductive health care services part of his life's mission, all right-wingers have embraced this goal. Komen, however, unlike most right-wingers, was in a position to actually effect change.

When their decision to sever their relationship with Planned Parenthood became public, Komen was blind-sided by the public backlash. Americans from every economic group were flabbergasted by the blatant political move by such a lovely little pink-colored charity. Even conservative women I know were shocked by it.

You see, many conservatives object to abortion, so they would never have one; but conservatives do not universally embrace the outlawing of, and the restriction of, the medical procedure that offends so many.

In fact, actual conservatives generally see abortion as an issue of personal choice and would never use the government to limit a woman's access to the services provided by Planned Parenthood. Even if they would personally never use those services themselves.

Fake conservatives, the Reaganholics and libertarians, see the emotionalism of abortion as a tool for whipping-up support for their actual mission: stop the flow of money down to those who work for a living (the poor) and push the money to people at the top (the rich). Those people aren't really conservatives.

When Komen's actions became public and the defecation hit the ventilation, Brinker and the other leaders held their ground. They repackaged their lies in a video message to supporters on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, as well as interviews with broadcast outlets.

The failure of this spin cycle is remarkable.

Not only did Komen president Nancy Brinker come off as an insincere, lying, stepford version of Michelle Bachmann (is that redundant?), even more Americans turned away from the foundation.

In the three days after news of the politically-motivated decision hit the airwaves, supporters of Planned Parenthood donated over three million dollars to re-fund the half-million dollars Komen was taking away. Politicians across the land (and even in Washington) decried the move as wrong. Some employees of Komen resigned in protest, and staff of regional Komen offices refused to go-along with Brinker's politically-motivated decision, promising to continue funding mamograms at local Planned Parenthood clinics.

Women across the social, political, and economic spectra voiced shock and resolved to stop buying pink and raising money to support Komen.

In an attempt to stop the bleeding and recover from such a public relations disaster, Brinker and the remaining leadership of Komen regrouped, announced they would reverse their decision, and issued a press release excusing themselves:
DALLAS - February 3, 2012 - We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives. The events of this week have been deeply unsettling for our supporters, partners and friends and all of us at Susan G. Komen. We have been distressed at the presumption that the changes made to our funding criteria were done for political reasons or to specifically penalize Planned Parenthood. They were not. . . .

I don't think many people believe this.

I think it's pretty clear to most Americans (including conservatives who might agree with Brinker) that this was a politically-motivated, tactical decision that failed.

There are other charitable organizations working to prevent, cure, and eliminate breast cancer. These other organizations might be as conservative and right-wing as Komen and Brinker; but they have not been caught using their endowment to further a political agenda.

I urge all people to cease all support for Komen, and find another breast cancer awareness organization to support. Perhaps you might consider donating to the oldest, most prestigious organization addressing women's health care issues: Donate to Planned Parenthood

Friday, February 03, 2012

I'm Sorry, Lady, You are Totally Unbelievable

by Dick Mac

Perhaps I shouldn't use the word "liar"; but the announcement yesterday by Nancy Brinker, founder and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, about her reasons for eliminating mammogram funding at Planned Parenthood were totally unbelievable.

Brinker brokered a new resolution at the Komen foundation that stipulates no money can be given to any organization under Congressional investigation.

Planned Parenthood is the subject of a bogus investigation by Congressmen Cliff Stearns (R-FL), who has made the harassment of Planned Parenthood his life's mission.

As soon as Komen implemented this new rule, all funding to Planned Parenthood ceased. Oddly, no research was done to determine if any of the other thousands of organizations receiving money from the foundation are under investigation.

They passed the new rule, used it to de-fund mammogram testing at an organization they don't like politically, and then moved on as if this would go un-noticed.

It appears that a lot of people who have donated to Komen are not anti-Planned Parenthood, and there has been an amazing public outcry against Komen's decision to pull the mammogram funding. Most are concerned because Planned Parenthood provides free mammograms for impoverished women in need.

I have spoken out against the Komen foundation since 2004, when they hosted a party at Bergdorf Goodman for officials and delegates at the GOP convention in New York City. When I later learned, in 2009, that Hadassah Lieberman was on their payroll as a "global ambassador" I was convinced that this organization is just a money-laundering front to collect money from the poor and distribute it to the wealthy.

Haddassah Lieberman, wife of Senator Joe Lieberman (R-ISR), is not a friend of those concerned about women's health, or the state of health care in America. She vocally opposes health care reform, and is a menace to American's who live outside the top 1% income bracket.

Many, many people "walk for the cure" and "shop pink" to raise money for the Komen foundation. The foundation will do everything in its power to deflect the criticism of their latest political maneuver. It is up to all of us who care about women's and reproductive health care to STOP giving money to the Komen foundation.

Never wear pink to support breast cancer research, wear any other color and get a button that states "I support breast cancer research"! Do not shop at the Komen website, do not sponsor your neighbor's walk for the cure. Do not attend a marathon for the cure or an art show for the cure.

Here is the announcement:

If you could stomach that clip, you will notice she doesn't discuss the new guidelines or their immediate impact, or the selective enforcement of the new rule.

OK! Maybe I will use the word "liar"!

Further reading: Top Susan G. Komen Official Resigned Over Planned Parenthood Cave-In

Take Action: I Stand With Planned Parenthood