Happy Birthday, Pete and Lu

Today is my brother’s birthday. It is also my wife’s mother’s birthday.

They’re not with us anymore, but when they were, they would always note that it was the other’s birthday, he in New York and she in Kentucky. So, here’s a second birthday song to remember them by:

And just to round it out, yesterday was Yoko Ono‘s birthday. Believe it or not, Mrs. John Lennon is 80 years old!


Taking aim at the wrong problem

This is really annoying.

I can go on for hours on the irrationality of gun policy in America. If you’ve been reading this blog, you see I’ve gone on for hours on the irrationality of gun policy in America.

But even I can’t abide by this ridiculous piece of political correctness (from the Washington Post):

An 8-year-old boy in Prince William County (Virginia) pointed his finger like a gun in a school hallway after a friend pretended to shoot him with a bow and arrow. The class had been studying Native American culture and had just learned a deer-hunting song. …

The imaginary crossfire on Feb. 8 produced real-life fallout two months after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The boy was suspended for “threatening to harm self or others,” a misdeed on par with bringing an actual weapon to school. He served an in-school suspension Wednesday.

What?! Is this school district out of its mind?

Apparently not, because it’s happening across the country:

In January, a 5-year-old girl was suspended from Mount Carmel Area Elementary School in central Pennsylvania for allegedly speaking about shooting herself and another girl.

It turned out she was talking about her bright pink “Hello Kitty” gun, which shoots bubbles.

Her mother said the girl and two friends had been “pretending to be kitty cats” and talking about butterflies and ladybugs when the bubbles and the bubble gun came up.

The 5-year-old was questioned by three staff members and written up for making a “terroristic threat,” said Kelly Guarna, the girl’s mother. …

Five weeks after the incident, the child still has stomach aches and night terrors, her mother said. Last weekend, the girl stopped her mother from singing about shooting stars. All she heard was “shoot.” “Mom, you can’t say that,” the girl said.

It gets worse:

A widely reported Alexandria case followed in early February, when a 10-year-old was taken into police custody at Douglas MacArthur Elementary School for allegedly showing others on his bus a toy gun with an orange tip.

The boy was charged with brandishing a weapon. He was fingerprinted, his mother said, and now has a juvenile record and a probation officer.

Time to state the obvious: Look, school people, if a kid points his finger and says “pow” and if a little girl talks about her “Hello Kitty” bubble gun, that is not terrorism. Not in this life. Not in any past lives. That is called P-L-A-Y-I-N-G!!!!

If a 10-year-old shows his friends a toy gun, that is not a reason to call the cops (WHO HAVE REAL GUNS) to have them read him his Miranda Rights.

Toys and fingers do not spew out pieces of hot lead that travel through a human body at hundreds of miles an hour and rip organs to shreds. Are you all missing something?

Kids playing make-believe with guns is as American as … kids playing make-believe with guns. Everybody in the world knows that.

When my family lived in Europe, I took my young son and his friends and relatives to Eurodisney outside of Paris. You want to know what Europeans want to see when they’re at Eurodisney?

Because it’s cowboys and Indians and they have guns! And they sell cowboy hats and toy guns at the concession stands. (Am I the only one who hates the smell of caps fired in a toy gun?) That’s the world’s image of America. Everywhere we turned at Eurodisney, European kids had toy guns, because that’s what being in America is all about.

And you’re going to tell us that bubbles and fingers are terrorism?

Here’s an idea.

If you’re a teacher and you see kids pretending to shoot each other with pretend guns, turn it into an educational experience. Have the class write an essay on why guns are used.

If your pupil writes: “Guns are part of American history, but they can also be used to hurt people. We have a lot of guns in the United States, and we are trying to figure out how to make sure people keep their rights but at the same time make sure people are safe.”

Give the kid an A.

If the kid writes: “I like guns because I like to make things bleed and watch the light go out of their eyes when they die.”

Call the police and get that kid out of the building as fast as possible.

Time machine: ‘Alice in Wonderland’ (1903)

The first film version of “Alice in Wonderland” was done in Britain in 1903. Originally 12 minutes long, only one damaged print was recovered, and only eight minutes, restored by the BFI National Archive, have survived.

One quibble. Isn’t Alice supposed to be like 8 years old? That’s what bothered me about Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” a few years ago. That Alice was 21 and a babe.

Considering movies were in their infancy 110 years ago, it’s impressive to see how film makers managed special effects. It’s an inventive use of the medium, manipulating a fantasy using real characters and objects. Today, it’s all CGI. That’s not a criticism. People want to be taken to another place when they go to the movies. An audience in 1903 probably thought this was the greatest thing they’d ever seen in their lives. An audience today expects something much grander. And 100 years from now, Blu-ray, 3-D and IMAX technology will be seen as a primitive form of entertainment.

That marks a passage of time. And that’s why movies are the closest we’re ever going to get to a time machine.


The sky is falling!

Well, that was a confusing space odyssey Friday.

Everyone was told days ago that an asteroid was headed toward the Earth, but (Not to worry!) it was going to miss us by thousands of miles and wouldn’t even show up on the radar. For some reason, I woke up about 3 or 4 a.m. Friday morning and looked at my iPad, and there was a news alert that said a meteor had hit Russia and hurt hundreds of people. And soon afterward, every news site in the world was showing things like this:

So the asteroid DID hit us, right?


This was a meteor. The asteroid is still out there. Still not a danger. In fact, by Friday afternoon, it had passed by unnoticed and was on its merry way. This was something else, and we didn’t know it was coming.

Gee, that’s reassuring, because I’m thinking of the movie “Armageddon” and how Paris didn’t see the closing credits:

So the meteor was a sliver of the asteroid that broke off, right?

No. The Washington Post says:

It was a day when the Earth was caught in a cosmic crossfire. The big rock came from the south, the smaller one from the east. They were unrelated objects, with different orbits, one the size of an apartment building, the other slimmer but with better aim.

The larger asteroid missed by 17,000 miles, as expected, but the Russian meteor stole the show Friday, fireballing across the Ural Mountains in spectacular fashion and exploding into fragments, creating a powerful shock wave that blew out windows, collapsed roofs and injured 1,200 people, mostly from broken glass.

Here’s an illustration of how the meteor came down when it hit Russia.


It was traveling at 40,000 miles an hour. It was about 50 feet wide and weighed about 7,700 tons. It exploded high in the atmosphere with the force of 20 to 30 Hiroshima-size atomic bombs.

Gee, that’s reassuring.

Do you remember the 1950s science-fiction “Uh oh! Here comes the killer asteroid” movies, where a group of scientists have built ONE SPACESHIP to take a couple of hundred people to another planet — that just happens to support human life — so the species will survive.

Thing is, unless we’ve missed the announcement, there’s nowhere to go. If there was a planet in range that would assure our survival, we’d be sending probes there already.

NASA launched the two Voyager spacecraft more than 35 years ago. They are literally at the edge of the solar system. Other satellites have examined the giant planets past Mars. We’ve got robots on Mars for now going on 10 years looking for minuscule signs of life.

What they’ve found so far? Maybe there’s water on a moon of Saturn.

And even with that, we’ve never met anyone with one of those Willie Wonka golden tickets that are good for one seat of the survival rockets. Which don’t exist, unless there’s some top secret project in China like there was in the movie “2012.”

Then you’ve got to think if something really big is falling out of the sky, one of those “planet killers,” why tell us anything? We can’t go anywhere. If it’s big enough, we’re going to see it days before it hits. And unless there’s a global “shoot the rock out of the sky with nukes” game plan, there isn’t much to look forward to. Maybe this:

Or this:

Given the choice, I’d prefer to listen to Pink Floyd over Richard Wagner. (In case you’re looking for the MP3, the Wagner is the Prelude from “Tristan und Isolde.” The Pink Floyd is “The Great Gig in the Sky” from “Dark Side of the Moon.”)

Tea baggers love bestiality

There’s not much more to say once you see the top of this Mother Jones article:

An internal investigation of FreedomWorks—the prominent conservative advocacy group and super-PAC—has focused on president Matt Kibbe’s management of the organization, his use of its resources, and a controversial book deal he signed, according to former FreedomWorks officials who have met with the private lawyers conducting the probe. One potential topic for the inquiry is a promotional video produced last year under the supervision of Adam Brandon, executive vice president of the group and a Kibbe loyalist. The video included a scene in which a female intern wearing a panda suit simulates performing oral sex on Hillary Clinton. [Author’s note: The previous sentence contains no typos.]

First: How do you even think up something as nuts as this?

Second: Why would you film it?

Third: Did the intern really want to do this? I don’t think it was in the job description.