April 3, 2015

Going to the Gates of Hell and back

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:28 pm

crop of gates phot

Traveling to the Gates of Hell (a work by Rodin, which is on display in the sculpture garden at the Stanford University campus), taking a selfie, and then returning to Berkeley only to find that a homeless protest will have to be covered for use in the Easter 2015 weekend round-up, which, in conjunction with a missed installment of our weekly writing chore, caused us to do some reevaluations of the weekly effort to grind out a column. Once a columnist has traveled to the Gates of Hell, what can he possibly do next week as an encore?

A video of a homeless person being beat-up was going viral last week and caused some local TV stations to send a news crews to Berkeley to investigate and report. The video caused the local homeless citizens to protest and respond: “There you go again!”

Mike Zint, the political activist has made the assertion that the use of Downtown Ambassadors to do clean up and perform some aspects of crowd control is actually a preliminary move in an attempt to privatize police work. A great deal of fact checking could produce a piece that alerts the public to a complicated topic and an alarming possibility regarding the “privatize it” trend.

The Republicans are loudly pro police and adamantly anti- union; so how do they stand on the question of police unions? Would they surreptitiously support an attempt to slowly start to replace union member police officers with lesser paid non-union workers?

Is that what’s happening now in Berkeley?

If the poor will still be a vexation to society long after this columnist goes to the great newsroom in the sky, why bother to write yet one more column on the eternal problem?

After building up a small core audience of regular readers, the best that the World’s Laziest Journalist can hope to do with these columns is to have certain items come to the attention of a mainstream media editor or freelance journalist who can bring greater awareness of the problem to his audience and then hope the topic “goes viral.” Why bother at all? Isn’t that question a fabulous chance to quote what the scorpion said to the frog: “It’s in my nature.”?

To hold on to a loyal core audience, a writer has to try to develop a unique voice which asks some obvious questions that have never before been asked. Such as? If a vampire’s image does not appear in a mirror and does not register on film, does that mean that vampires are immune and exempt from the selfie fad? Are their images absent when they take a selfie?

Some time ago, we learned in a course at Santa Monica College, that it takes about a month of work to produce a well written magazine article. That, as they say, is above the World’s Laziest Journalist’s pay grade. We knock out a three dot journalism style column each week and if our words inspire someone else to take up one of the items and do a great deal of extra work to turn it into a magazine article, we wish them God’s speed.

The military situation for the United States forces in the Middle East has become so convoluted and weird that it defies rational and perceptive analysis, so we are gradually abandoning that topic.

The Election desk at the World’s Laziest Journalist News Organization has projected a winner (JEB Bush) in the 2016 Presidential Election, and so any subsequent analysis of the event is irrelevant.

Speaking of speed, we have not had any feedback on our attempt to solicit help from a wealthy car owner to do a column describing what makes driving a Ferrari a much better experience than tooling around Santa Monica in a 1968 Chevy van.

Did you know that the Rent a Wreck firm was spawned by Bundy Rent a Wreck in the Santa Monica/West L. A. area? Rumor was (as reported in People magazine) that folks like Paul Newman would drive in one of their “beater” vehicles as a way to avoid being recognized as a world famous movie star.

Recently the World’s Laziest Journalist spent some (futile) time fact checking the existence of some super low cost airfares from Oakland to Europe. If we encounter some other travel bargain, a week without a column may mean that we are busy crossing a trip to New Zealand off the bucket list and not an indication that we pleased our harshest critics and croaked.

Maybe we will get the chance to write a column with a hed that reads: “From the Gates of Hell to Christ’s Church” or “From Fremantle to Freemont.”

If some young, energetic, and enthusiastic freelancer want to write about the assertion that “they” are trying to privatize police work, you can go to the “First they came for the homeless” page on Facebook to track down the aforementioned Mike Zint to get some good quotes and thus get the project started.

While we were on our Gates of Hell excursion, we chatted with people who were attending a symposium at Stanford on the subject of Artificial Intelligence. We learned that a person who pretends to be much wiser and more leaned than they actually are (moi, pseudo-intellectual?) are not examples of Artificial Intelligence, but are actually classified as examples of synthetic intelligence. (“I didn’t know that!”)

Are all the police shootings of blacks just a long series of coincidences or is the first American President of African American heritage, participating in a nationally coordinated program? Again, providing perceptive and insightful comments on either scenario is above the World’s Laziest Journalist’s pay grade.

Berkeley CA is in a congressional district that may well be classified as America’s most Liberal Congressional District. Why, then, are the homeless in Berkeley consistently complaining of mistreatment and why is the city trending towards claiming the title of having the most anti-homeless laws of any city in the state (or country?)?

The topics of war and poverty will be the subject of analysis and commentary for many years to come and so to provide an assortment of topics in our weekly effort to inform, amuse, and delight (?) our faithful readers, we may, given the proper circumstances, impulsively take a week or two hiatus to avail our self of a travel bargain as a means of doing some fact checking for non-political punditry columns. (Where did we put our copy of “Europe on $5 a Day”?)

Over the course of recent years, we have failed to get any publicity for our efforts from any nationally known fellow travelers, but the advantage of that situation is that we have carved a niche that permits us to develop a unique style that permits us to range from “verboten” topics, such as predicting that a Conservative Republican majority United States Supreme Court will certainly declare “an abomination against nature” to be unconstitutional to other esoteric and arcane bits of information such as “you can’t manufacture mayonnaise during a thunder storm,” with an air of impunity that is not available to wage slaves in the mainstream media.

Is the uproar over the new Indiana law actually a stealth way to measure the vitriol level potential if Gay Marriage is determined to be unconstitutional? Do the people who believe that peyote is a sacrament get any legal acknowledgement of their religious rights and beliefs?

Speaking of the movie “Double Indemnity,” did any of your usual sources address the topic of increased liability if an airplane crash is a suicide with numerous counts of murder attached rather than just an accident? Don’t cha just love a news source that proclaims: “Lies, exaggeration, or propaganda? We deliver and then let you sort it all out.”?

Again, we wish to thank our regular readers for their continued support and hits.

Maintaining an image of uncontrollable columnist errant is one thing, but the reality is that isn’t how it is. Our closing quote for this week is a Dirty Harry (Clint Eastwood) line: “A man’s got to know his limitations.”

Now the disk jockey will play Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” Lenny Bruce’s “song” “Non Skeddo Flies Again” (It’s on youtube.) and the Rolling Stones song “Flight 505.” We have to go find the gin-mill that epitomizes the expression “old school bar.” Have a “don’t even think of watering the lawn” type week.

tight crop gates plaque


November 29, 2011

Did Philip K Dick use a time travel machine to do ghost writing for Shakespeare?

Note: Parts of this column may have been fabricated . . . or fictionalized . . . or not. Otherwise you will have to believe that the Government and America’s Free Press collaborate together to keep you from learning the truth.

As December begins and the film reviewers cope with an onslaught of films about murder, incest, alcoholism, adultery, drug addiction, incurable diseases, and crippling sports injuries, folks skimming through the various Life and Arts sections in American newspapers looking for some holiday entertainment, have a subtle clue for the fact that awards season has begun.

Competition and news coverage will be extensive for the scramble for the various awards given to movie makers, but there are other less newsworthy awards that the media will ignore. Lost in the madding crowd of eager award committees will be an obscure band of specialists trying to select this year’s best new conspiracy theories.

Fans of the veteran stalwart conspiracy theories, such as Building 7, the magic bullet, and any advanced intelligence about the attack on Pearl Harbor, will have to wait until the Conspiracy Theory Hall of Fame holds it’s annual Induction Awards dinner (you have heard about that, haven’t you?) before they can start reviving their darling candidate.

To be eligible for the right to be awarded the 2011 Conspiracy Theory of the Year trophy, a theory must have been hatched during that particular year.

Has some kind of diabolical, coordinated effort kept you blissfully unaware of any new conspiracy theories?

Top contender for this year’s title, according to an unimpeachable source in the R&D Department on the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory campus (located at an encampment in the Desolation Wilderness, perhaps?), is the wild speculation that the Occupy Movement may be a “false flag” operation funded by a wealthy pair of Conservative billionaires known only as “the Bobbsy Twins.”

According to the unsubstantiated hypothesis, the Occupy Movement was fiendishly engineered by a well known Republican dirty tricks specialist (code named “the Architect”?) so that it would initially resemble the Tea Bag movement, but would ultimately fail and bring dishonor and humiliation to the Liberal cause. Under the “one for all – all for one” banner, the tricksters would inundate the General Assembly meetings with the street people, who would have been institutionalized in a country with a more Liberal agenda for the needy, and thereby cause the attempts to determine the general consensus on policy questions to seize up like a car engine running without oil.

If the problem of wealth disparity calls for innovations from a bold thinking charismatic leader, then it stands to reason that injecting the movement with a considerable number of stoners would stymie the movement from the git-go. When slackers camp-out are they called “tent potatoes”?

Remember that the Tea Bag movement was composed of well dressed retirees who were provided with bus transportation to and from the events. They were not given free tents.

On Thanksgiving, Occupy Oakland sustained an incident that produced a video (that immediately “went viral” on the Internets) that was instigated by denying the public the use of port-a-potties in the Frank Ogawa Plaza area. Free meals had been provided on late Thanksgiving morning, so by limiting afternoon access to restroom facilities, a spontaneous incident was virtually assured. Could Heinrich Himmler have devised a cleverer ploy? Isn’t using a free Thanksgiving meal to precipitate a need for restroom facilities that subsequently can’t be used a fine example of using the compassionate Conservative Christian philosophy to gain political points?

Is that the only fresh conspiracy theory for 2011?

Could all the Republican debates be a fiendish plot to flood the airwaves with Republican talking points while all the time the eventual Republican pick sat out the process on the sideline, thus being provided with immunity from gaffs and embarrassing quotes? If such a “hypothetical” candidate from the Republican bullpen wins his party’s nomination then (in retrospect) this could be a conspiracy theory eligible for the 2011 award, but since nobody is expressing the idea it can’t possibly win this year’s award.

Can the early prototype version of a conspiracy theory win the annual award? If so, here’s a sneak peek at one in the “mockup” stage at the Amalgamated Factory: Could the Occupy Movement be a covert effort to provide easy maintenance inmates for the privatized prison industry?

Here’s how the conspiracy theory lunatics would see it: the folks who get arrested for “trespassing” can be charged with either simple trespass (which is a misdemeanor and usual ends with a fine or forfeiture of bail) or it could be criminal trespass which can mean getting a lawyer, having a trial, and getting a prison sentence. If you were running a privatized prison which would you prefer to use to stock up your facility: either hardened criminals or inept protesters who advocate non-violence?

Be careful analyzing this concept because if you don’t “get your mind right, Luke;” you run the risk of becoming a newly baptized lunatic conspiracy theorist and thereby insure that all the other regular listeners to Uncle Rushbo will laugh at you.

It’s not just fans of the old Jim Healy sports news program who are asking: “Is it true . . . ?” Some of the grizzly old journalists on the conspiracy theory beat are begging their best sources for more information on the rumor that the boys at Amalgamated are pitching a “Conspiracy Theory Lunatic’s History of the United States” project to some publishers in New York City. It could also carry the title “The Encyclopedia of Conspiracy Theories.”

Doesn’t a dynamic new generation of Conservative thinkers deserve the opportunity to scoff and express righteous indignation over the absurd questions raised in the past about:
The mysterious death of Ronald Reagan’s chimpanzee co-star from “Bedtime for Bonzo”
The mysterious death of George Reeves
The possibility that an ancient Amrbose Bierce ghosted columns in San Francisco under the Freddy Francisco byline?
Was Earle Flynn a Nazi Spy?
Building 7 (Is there an Occupy Building 7 encampment?)
Was the death of Che Guevara faked? Was he really offered a chance for a new identity under the witness protection program? Did he (in his fake identity life) become a member of the City Council in a small California University city and fight endless battles with that school’s liberal students?
Did some guy named Felix Rodriguez really toss a very top secret report on the faking of Hitler’s Death and his subsequent life (in the witness protection program) as the mayor of an Ohio city, on his boss’ desk and say: “We could do the same thing with Che!”?
How could Geronimo’s skull possibly wind up in a mansion in Kennebunkport?
Last and certainly not least, why hasn’t Oakland mayor Jean Quan been featured on one of the Sunday morning TV shows featuring newsmakers?

Isn’t it curious that the time and location for the unveiling of the official selection of the award winning Best New Conspiracy Theory of 2011 is not being provided to the various important assignment editors? The results will be e-mailed to newsrooms after the Awards ceremony has been conducted. What up wid dat? Why the secrecy?

In the past, we have encountered a story about the Rich’s conception of being poor: When a wealthy dame was told that the poor are always complaining about hunger, her response was to ask “Why don’t they ring the bell?” and thereby signal the servants that food was needed stat. Any attempt to explain how that wouldn’t solve the problem for the poor would only have taxed (no taxing for the rich!) her intelligence beyond it’s capacity to function.

Unfortunately our attempts to do some online fact checking to learn the source of that anecdote have been unsuccessful. Why can’t his columnist find the source for that anecdote online?

Now the disk jockey will play Chuck Berry’s “My ding-a-ling,” “The Bells are ringing,” and “Bell of the Ball.” We have to go back in the ring for round 7. Have a “where did it go?” type week.

August 12, 2011

“Corporations Are People” Gaffe Dooms Romney’s Presidential Bid

These days, Mitt Romney has the haunted look of a mountain climber who just heard half the strands of his lifeline snap while hanging only a few yards from the peak of Mt. Everest. He can’t turn back from his life-long quest to reach the peak, yet he knows there’s a good possibility the rope will break before he reaches his goal and he’ll go plummeting down the side. Along with the overstuffed carload of gobsmacking flip-flops on everything from women’s rights to income taxes to health care that Mitt carries with him like a mummy’s curse, his sure-thing Golden-Haired Boy 2012 GOP presidential nomination is now showing its dark roots, and it’s all the fault of Romney himself.

At the Iowa State Fair the other day, Romney attempted another of those tedious ‘Ask Mitt’ torture sessions where he is forced to extemporize to answer questions from the overly-corndogged locals. This is a dangerous zone for the Mittster, who has a hard enough time getting through his soporific stump speeches without sweating through his magic underwear. Romney no doubt figured he was on safe ground — it’s Iowa and Republican runs here like boiling grease through a deep fryer. But the rubes were having none of it — missiles of verbal pyrotechnics, along with derisive laughter, always deadly for a serious candidate, pierced the hot air as oldsters in the crowd fusilladed Romney about Social Security, Medicare, and raising taxes on corporations and his own top one-percent tax bracket to help pay for them. After taking the standard Norquist stupidity pledge never to raise taxes, which is akin to vowing never to move out of your house, even if it’s burning down around you, Mitt then exhibited the complacently haughty behavior that has appealed to his party’s Christopublican-Teabagger base by serenely patronizing his irate interrogators with “Corporations are people, my friend,” a phrase that will follow Romney like a dead skunk chained to his leg for the rest of his doomed quest for the Republican presidential nomination.

Consider that prior to this gaffe, Romney’s thin hold on the nomination was threefold: First, Wall Street reptiles with ice in their aortas and gin-embalmed country club Republicans embraced Mitt as a fellow-traveler — a man willing to make the hard decisions before lunch of how many American jobs to cut or send to foreign shores and live without guilt on the proceeds. Secondly, others in the party elite thought Romney was an agreeably vacillating vessel who could easily be packaged as a caring ‘moderate conservative’ with a chance of beating Obama in 2012. Third, he has a pile of his own money to sink in his campaign, always a relief and comfort to the political investment class.

But with his ad-lib proclamation on the personhood of corporations, which comes as close as Romney gets to a core principle, he tossed it all away. Mitt might as well have announced he’s a Communist who worships Joe Stalin. To most Americans, unschooled in the prevailing hallucinations of five members of the U.S. Supreme Court, the ruminants of global high finance, the silly supply-side economists of which there seems to be an endless supply, and the curdled cognoscenti of the Federalist Society, corporations are clearly nothing like flesh-and-blood human beings and should not enjoy the same rights. Aside from the obvious that corporations cannot vote, or be hauled into court, or put in jail, and can only be fined for their wrongdoing. (They could also be put out of business, but in corporate-beguiled Washington that happens about as often as Sarah Palin submitting to an interview outside of Fox News.) Unlike Shakespeare’s Shylock, the modern corporation never suffers from cold nor heat nor injury from wounds physical or emotional and represents a unique eternal legal construct — the front-office executives may change from death and retirement, but the corporation can go on forever. Ambrose Bierce aptly defined this swindle a century ago in “The Devil’s Dictionary”: “Corporation, n. An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.” Adding to the legalized larceny, the multi-national corporations take advantage of tax loopholes that are not available to the average American citizen, nor even small businesses, which gives these artificial abstractions unequal and superior rights to real people.

Most Americans are only vaguely aware of any of this, but they do have the fed-up feeling, rightfully, that those at the top of the corporate pie are making out like bandits, and forcing them to work longer hours at less pay to keep their jobs, and they don’t appreciate that ugly pie smashed into their faces by a spoiled multi-millionaire who thinks he should be president. Uttering “Corporations are people” with the passive-aggressive condescension of “my friend” appended removed any chance of Romney reaching the summit as he publicly tried to flim-flam the Iowans into believing that having a mountain of reeking manure in your backyard is the same as owning a prize racehorse.

In another era, a bland and malleable aspirant such as Tim Pawlenty would have taken the top spot after Romney implodes, but this is not that era in GOP politics as the pathetic two-percenter Pawlenty bends over so far backwards trying to appeal to the Teabaggers he appears to be engaged in a bizarre perpetual circus trick and the Republican base rates his conservative sincerity barely above that of Mitt’s.

Meanwhile, Sarah Palin’s presidential ambitions will be confined to wistful private moments inside her ridiculous tour bus; Ron Paul will, as usual, fade as quasi-libertarianism and oligarchic corporatism actually don’t mix well; and Gingrich, Cain, Santorum, Huntsman and the other GOP stragglers will depart with vanity-wall photos of their brief moment on the national stage.

Predictions at this early stage are foolish, but here’s one anyway: I don’t think Romney will last beyond the South Carolina primary, if that far. If Obama was counting on running against Mr. Corporate Personhood, he might want to recalculate — the vacuous but wingnut-popular Rick Perry is about to announce, and the Ed Rollins version of Michele Bachmann is taking it seriously now, and both are ready to genuflect to the Republican party establishment to get a crack at the White House.

Any progressive or liberal Democrat who takes either the Texas Governor or the Minnesota Congresswoman lightly does so at their peril. Remember the lesson of the 1970s when Ronald Reagan was dismissed as a buffoon too far right to be electable — we are still paying for that mistake.

Copyright 2011 RS Janes.

January 27, 2011

1816 Flashback?

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:43 pm

A volcanic eruption of Biblical proportions is often cited as the cause of the unusual weather experienced around the northern hemisphere in 1816, which is often called “the year there was no summer.” If, as some of the cutting edge conspiracy theory advocates are alleging, the summer of 2011 does a repeat of its 1816’ disappearing act, because of the Gulf oil spill, pundits will eventually get around to haggling over the topic: “Did global warming start with the volcanic eruption in 1815?” This columnist would like to ask that question now, and move on (dot org?) to something else for this summer.

While doing some fact checking about the wagering on various candidates who might be the successful candidate for the Presidency of the USA in 2012, we came across the curious bit of information that one of the overseas bookies is giving a thousand to one odds for bets that Laura Bush will be the winner.

Is it true that only the best journalistic hot dogs cover the Frankfurt Book Faire?

Has any columnist laid claim to the boast “the pundit other pundits read first”? Did Freddie Francisco use that line? If so, would he be gracious enough to let us “borrow” it in the Internets era? Didn’t Ambrose Bierce write a San Francisco based column before he went AWOL? Isn’t there a conspiracy theory that suggests that Bierce sneaked quietly back into “Baghdad by the Bay,” and did ghost writing using Freddie Francisco as his nom de plume?

One of the items included in the wrangling over the city budget in Berkeley CA is some quibbling about the use of medical coverage for city employees who want sex change operations. Maybe if Rush Limbaugh mentions that in a future broadcast, he’ll attribute the tip to Freddie Francisco?

Will the efforts to orchestrate a boycott of Rush’s sponsors work or will it come off looking like a Chinese fire drill? Wasn’t the very first boycott over an Irish matter?

Speaking of Oprah, we wonder: Will Qantas now move on our suggestion that they use bargain fares to lure Netroots Nation into holding one of their conventions in Sydney? Heck, bloggers could go to Sydney in January of 2013 and then come back and hold a second one somewhere in the USA in July and, then it would be the year with two summers, for those who attended both events.

We’ve lost our copy of “Naked is the best disguise,” by Samuel Rosenberg. As soon as we find a replacement copy (there are beau coup good used book stores in Berkeley) we will start to write a column on his conspiracy theory that philosopher Fred C. Nietzsche was the real life identity of Sherlock Holmes’ nemesis Professor Moriarty.

Why do polar bears (Ursus Maritimus) get all the publicity? If global warming is more than a figment of the collective mind of the scientific community, then why don’t penguins get some attention? If the ice cap in the northern hemisphere is in danger of melting away, then won’t the other one melt too and leave the penguins (Aptenodytes patagonica) homeless too? If the Southern ice cap isn’t going to melt, why not just send the polar bears down there?
Do the luxury hotels in Antarctica tout surfing on their fine beaches or do they stress the skiing experiences available nearby?

Speaking of San Francisco, that’s where the True Oldies Channel (TOC) has their home office. One of the top features of the TOC is their daily selection of a sentimental song as the cheesy listening song of the day. You want schmaltz? You wanna do a Boener blubber scene because of a song on the radio? We urge our faithful readers (all dozen of you) to e-mail in this suggestion: Elvis’ “Old Shep.” Tell Scott Shannon (the TOC’s answer to Emperor Norton?) that you got the idea from Freddie Francisco.

Did you know that San Francisco has two official songs and that (the last time we checked with the city clerk) Berkeley doesn’t have even one? We’ll have to see what the official city song is in Concordia Kansas. Do they have two like Frisco? Or have they been as lax in that department as has Berkeley?

Did you just ask for some political punditry before we fade to commercial? Our latest bit of fact checking indicates that the current odds regarding JEB as the winner of the 2012 Presidential Elections are forty to one.

In “Don’t Call It ‘Frisco” (Double Day & Co 1953 hardback page 195), Herb Caen wrote: “Books that are banned in Boston are best sellers in San Francisco, and their merits are argued hotley in the finest salons.” Did he really mean to use just one “o”?

Now the disk jockey will play Fred Astair’s “Mr. Top Hat” album, Paul Evans song “Seven Little Girls (Sitting in the back seat with Fred),” and Freddie and the Dreamers album “Fun Lovin’ Freddie.” Now, we gotta go get tickets for the Porchlight showing of the film “Brushes with Fame.” Have the kind of week that only Munro Leaf could chronicle.

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