Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Weathermen (Not the Radical Group)

Weathermen are becoming like superheroes. Ever since Katrina devastated New Orleans and Sandy left a path of destruction on the East Coast, people have become more and more attached to both their local weather anchors and to The Weather Channel. Global warming and the melting of the polar ice caps is certainly playing a major role in the increased frequency of climate and environmentally related disasters and  a little bit of the Stockholm Syndrome where the victim becomes attached to his persecutor may be playing a role in increasing the importance of the weathermen in our lives. It used to be that weathermen were the low men on the television totem pole, but now they have become larger than life personalities. Al Roker, the weather reporter on the Today show has become a major personality, who has increasingly begun to take on the aura of one of the five star generals, like Patton, MacArthur and Eisenhower, who led the allies to victory in World War II and the local CBS station in New York has created a cult figure in the debonair Lonnie Quinn, a handsome blond who looks like he could have been one of the Beach Boys and who is a source of solace to many of those fearful of the effects of hurricanes building force in the Bahamas or low pressure fronts building over the Great Lakes and threatening the East Coast with Winter Storm Warnings as the cold season begins. Dylan famously sang, “You don’t need a weatherman/ To know which way the wind blows.” But to quote another Dylan line, “times they are a changin’”and now with El Nino and other threats you do need a weatherman, and not the radical kind, to figure out where the next gust will be coming from.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Is Violance Against Women As American As Cherry Pie?

What's disconcerting is that anyone finds that the accusations against HarveyWeinstein constitute anomalous behavior. What's worse are the cries of self-righteous and self-congratulatory anger from those who might have exhibited some degree of suffering for a fellow sufferer. Can the pot call the kettle black and why was one of the most notorious predators who occupied high position, JFK, given the free pass to “Go” and rewards that far exceeded $200? Naturally all the women standing up in both the Weinstein and Cosby cases are gutsy and should be applauded, but couldn’t the book to be written about the whole sordid affair(s) be titled Fifty Shades of Black. In Heart of Darkness, Mr. Kurtz famously says “The horror! The horror!” but the horror is plainly that of the dark unconscious secrets of lust and murder that lie at the heart of the human spirit—along with other things like empathy and altruism that mitigate selfish drives. Is it necessary for there to be a great hue and outcry against the abuse of power? Obviously. At the same time it might be tempered by the knowledge that it exists in many forms, some of which are neatly camouflaged. H. Rap Brown once said “violence...is as American as cherry pie” and Henry Kissinger famously commented, “power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.” It wouldn’t be surprising to find that some of those who are carrying the banner for the cause might also have done things in or out of bed that they weren’t always proud of. Every time one of the these scandals come to light, the reaction is a little like Lord of the Flies. The trouble with Harvey Weinstein is that he looks a little like your imagination of a grownup Piggy.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Final Solution: Is the Earth Beginning to Wobble?

photo of Earth: NASA/Apollo 17 crew
It’s probably occurring to some people that mankind is headed into the equivalent of another ice age. Supposedly the ice age that abolished many forms of life including dinosaurs was the result of a meteor hitting earth. Now we have torrential hurricanes aided and abetted by warming waters, earthquakes and finally devastating fires destroying communities in Northern California. It’s hard to figure out the chain of causality, but if global warming is causing these environmental disasters then in a domino effect the disasters themselves, like the ones in California that wipe out forests, only further the insult to nature. How much can the earth withstand? Drought itself like the ones stoking the recent fires can actually affect the axis on which the planet turns."Scientists Just Figured Out What's Causing the Earth to Wobble," CNBC, 4/9/16) Trump has indicated he's increasing the inventory of lethal nuclear weapons as if the 4000 or so the US presently has weren’t enough and he’s also threatening to deal with North Korea by eradicating the country. "Trump Wanted Ten Fold Increase in Nuclear Arsenal Surprising Military," ran an NBC story that created it’s own waves, “Trump Threatens NBC Over Nuclear Weapons Report,NYT, 10/11/17). It’s Greek chorus time since in a kind of antiphonal effect the cosmos seems to be responding. You don’t have to believe in anything to see that at the very least the system is becoming like an electrical circuit that’s heating up and heading for a short. The earth has never seemed more fragile than in our current meteorological crises and at what point will the troop and FEMA deployments simply not be adequate to handle all of the  meltdowns, not to mention the prospect of limited or even all out war arising in the European, Middle Eastern and Asian theaters? 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

In the Aftermath of the Chicago Tylenol Murders

Ever since the Chicago Tylenol murders of 1982, you need a safe- cracker to open up most packaging. Whether it’s a bottle of Acetaminophen or a package of cheese you’re challenged when you wish to get the actual thing you  have purchased. It’s actually a literal demonstration of the Kantian Ding an sich to the extent that the reality or essence that you’ve purchased always seems to elude you. Sargento’s cheese is one of the biggest offenders. Just try to peel open one of their tamper proof closeable packages. You have train with weights on your fingers to pry the plastic apart. Listerine and Coppertone Sunscreen Spray both have safety tops which have ended up being both adult as well as child proof. The best solution for Listerine users who are running out of time and patience is not to gargle. One of the biggest offenders are the innocuous looking liquid soap dispensers. You think that a piece of cellophane over the push down top would be enough, but these household appurtenances are treated with the gravity of the little black box that allows the president to annihilate the world. You don’t simply push down and expect soap to come out. You need the equivalent of Dr. Strangelove to make the spigots of many bottles of liquid soap operant. Of all the plagues that God has foisted on mankind, however, none are worse than what the makers of Charmin have wrought. Here it’s not the packaging that’s impermeable, it’s the product itself. Try lifting a slice from a new roll in the middle of the night when bleary-eyed you attempt to wipe away some of the itinerant urine spray dripping down the side of your leg.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Curb Whose Enthusiasm?

A new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm has just begun on HBO. And when you think about it, next to The Honeymooners, the show possesses one of the most philosophically meaningful titles in the history of television. Ralph and Jane were hardly on a honeymoon, fighting in their cramped tenement apartment and that was the point. But Curb Your Enthusiasm goes much further. It’s a sophisticated indictment of starry-eyed optimists, ambition, success and the whole notion that there's something better to strive towards at the end of the rainbow. The genius of the show resides in the persona created by Larry David who conveys his message in such an understated way. He’s the classic anti-hero whose provenance obviously derives from Seinfeld, Woody Allen and ultimately Charlie Chaplin. The mantra of the show could well be Yeats’ too often quoted lines from “The Second Coming,” “The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity.” But though the lines would seem to pull the carpet out from under the evangelical impulse, they themselves partake of a certain sententiousness and melodrama. The art of Curb Your Enthusiasm is to produce a similar emotion in the everyday language of a hapless schmuck. In one recent episode Larry, who’s producing a musical entitled Fatwa actually becomes the object of one. Talk about blacklisting, the results are hilarious, but when you stop laughing, equally frightening.