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Posted by on Oct 8, 2020 in Blog, Essays | 1 comment

Trump, the Welfare Queen

 

 

TRUMP — THE WELFARE QUEEN

— lives in government housing
— no apparent skills or knowledge
— doesn’t pay taxes
— six bankruptcies
— sponges free healthcare
— no creditworthiness (a deadbeat)
— five kids from three different wives *
— drives a Cadillac

 

* current one can’t speak English

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Posted by on Oct 7, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 0 comments

The Last Helicopter Off the Roof (A Final Plea to My Trump-Supporting Friends)

 

 

A desperate plea to the last of the die-hard Trump supporters — this is your final chance to get aboard.

 

I know a little something about helicopters and the final moments of dictators.

In 1989, I was 800 feet away from the helicopter that swooped Nicolae Ceausescu off the roof in Bucharest, while thousands broke down the doors and swarmed over and ransacked the Romanian Communist Party Central Committee Building.

Years before that, I sat next to a former Marine in a political science class and was fortunate to talk with him.  His stories from Vietnam were mesmerizing.  He’d once been assigned to one of the final helicopters to depart from the American Embassy which was evacuating everyone who could fit onto the aircraft.

Who else remembers watching those grainy newsreels from Saigon, and who can ever forget those still-haunting images of that one last helicopter departing from the rooftop, leaving hundreds and perhaps thousands of desperate and screaming Vietnamese people behind?

Now, in 202o America, we have reached our own helicopter moment.

Right now, this moment in time is the last Huey lifting off as a lifeline.  Soon, this final opportunity will rise slowly from the roof, then gradually become a fading speck in the sky, and finally, it shall be gone — forever.  It shall disappear.  There is no going back.  There are no more flights after this.  There will be no — more — helicopters.

This is your final chance.

—– We don’t care that you supported him in the past.

—– We don’t care that you still agree with many of his policies.

—– We don’t care that you’ve said and written things that made your allegiance to your party and devotion to conservative principles seem unwavering.

None of that matters now.

This is not a time nor a place for finger-pointing, nor accusation.

Rather, this is the time to recognize a dire situation for what it is and climb onto the helicopter.  We are extending our arms and hands and reaching towards you.  We welcome the opportunity to embrace you, even after the fights and the pain.  We want you with us.  We are pleading with you one last time — save yourself.  Please.

If my voice doesn’t persuade you, perhaps General Hayden’s will.  Please take just two minutes to watch this important video:

 

Get on board.

If you do not — I can only speak for myself, here — but you will have diminished yourself, perhaps beyond repair.  It’s your reputation and character and future credibility which are at stake in your decision.  Given the overwhelming amount of damning evidence which, perhaps secretly, you know to be true, should you still chose to ignore it all and cling to your selfish pride, well then that is something we shall not forget.  That is something most of us cannot forgive.

Mark my words — — days, weeks, months, and even years from now — we will remember who was there when it counted and who made the wise choice and who made the wrong choice.  And if you make the wrong choice, it means you are no better than him.  It means — YOU ARE HIM.

 

Now, today, at this minute, all that matters is you get onboard with sanity and leave the madness behind.  The engine is running.  The blades are spinning.  Lift-off is now.

There are no more chances.  The decision is yours.

 

 

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Posted by on Oct 5, 2020 in Blog, Essays | 0 comments

The Debate On Wishing for Death

 

 

Today, I’m posing a moral and philosophical question. Hopefully, the ensuing discussion will be both interesting and informative.*

When is it okay to wish for the death of someone?

Most readers understand the timely relevance of this topic. It’s been a dominant theme on social media for several days. I need not explain why.

Allow me to frame the discussion and debate in the broadest possible terms.

I.

First, “wishing for death” is not a crime. Thoughts break no laws. Our private thoughts are not objectionable actions. One might even say all thoughts are involuntary. We can’t control them.

Second, expressing our thoughts honestly to others, including “wishing for death,” is also not a crime. Such thoughts break no laws. These thoughts might be considered crude or offensive to some people, but if being crude and offensive was a crime on social media, then most of us would be in prison (probably, for life!).

As a practical application, there are significant differences between the following identical thoughts based on actions and supplementals:

A. (private thought only — kept to oneself) “I hope he dies.”
B. (posted on social media) “I hope he dies.”
C. (posted on social media) “I hope he dies — let’s try to kill him.”

For most, “A “is totally benign. “B” is debatable. “C” is perhaps a violation, and could be criminal. Or, is it? Let’s dig deeper.

II.

What about “wishing for death” as it applies to specific situations, namely conflicts?

— hoping the soldier of an opposing army dies [for those engaged in warfare, the objective is to kill as many people on the other side as possible, even though many of those opposing soldiers are undoubtedly good people]….i.e., “we should kill all the enemy soldiers.”

— hoping a civilian in an opposing nation at war with our own dies [if you work in an armaments factory, you’re hoping for the deaths of innocents — that when bombs are dropped, they will detonate and do their intended destruction]….i.e., “we should drop bombs on the enemy and wipe them off the map.”

— hoping a convicted murderer is put to death [there is a gut satisfaction within most of us when we learn a terrible criminal has been executed]…..i.e. “he was a serial killer, so he deserves to die.”

Let’s agree that each of these examples (above) are clear cases where the overwhelming majority of any population would likely “wish for death.” In the case of the third example, many respondents would also add they want the serial killer to suffer, which is an interesting take on morality.

III.

What about the targets of our ire? This should also be fascinating. With apologies to Goodwin, let’s use some real examples which will be commonly understood by readers:

Your task is to draw the line on this “death chart.” That means, wherever you draw your line, everyone beneath it would die. For the sake of argument, we are pretending they are all alive and actively engaged in despicable acts. Who do you hope dies?

JEFFREY EPSTEIN (sexual predator, but didn’t kill anyone)

CHARLES MANSON (orchestrated murder, but didn’t kill anyone)

JEFFREY DAHMER (murdered 17 people)

MAO, STALIN, POL POT, HITLER (responsible for millions of deaths)

Many readers may draw the line above EPSTEIN. So, is it okay to wish for their deaths?

IV.

Finally, what about the orchestrators and architects of evil acts? Ah, yes. You knew this was coming.

Is it okay to wish for the death of the KKK? What about the head of the NRA? What about the false prophets of deranged religious cults? What about the CEOs of tobacco companies? What about those who are responsible for destroying the environment, covering it up, and lying about it?

Now, where do we draw lines?

CLICK HERE TO JOIN THE DISCUSSION

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Posted by on Oct 4, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Music and Concert Reviews | 0 comments

Does Today’s Music Suck? [Video]

 

 

Matt Lessinger and I just released another edition of AN INTELLIGENT CONVERSATION.  It’s our new podcast.

I ask — does modern music suck?

This is one of the very few occasions in recent memory I can remember where my opinion changed on two topics. Matt’s arguments were so informed and convincing that I came away with a different viewpoint after 90 minutes of conversation. If you’re into music, see if you agree.

I was also fascinated with Matt’s tutorial on the history of rap and hip hop music. That’s probably not a topic that would normally interest many of my readers, but Matt’s subject knowledge and passion made this a terrific exchange.

I hope some readers and listeners are enjoying this series as much as Matt and I look forward to doing AN INTELLIGENT CONVERSATION, which is an unscripted hour-and-a-half on a variety of subjects. We’ll be releasing a new segment every week.

At the very least, some listeners might enjoy a deviation away from the draining hostility of current events.

0:02 – Intro

8:08 – The #1 song in the United States is WHAT??

16:48 – People are incredibly passionate about their music.

20:47 – Good, original music is harder and harder to make as time goes on.

22:44 – Most people think the music from their era was the best.

25:13 – A brief discussion of rap.

35:12 – Where do we go from here? (EDM!)

40:50 – Our pull-the-car-over moments in music.

51:07 – What will the early 90s be remembered for?

1:00:45 – EDM and instrument-based music aren’t entirely mutually exclusive.

1:07:20 – Music brings us together, even in an era of isolation.

1:10:06 – Are musicians past their prime at 30?

1:21:23 – Giving props to longevity and boos to plagiarism.

1:26:50 – Final thoughts and Matt’s best song of the past decade.

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Posted by on Oct 3, 2020 in Blog, Essays | 1 comment

2020 NFL: Week #4 Picks

 

 

Here’s this week’s video discussion of my analysis and picks:

 

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2020 NFL WAGERING RECORD

Wins — Losses — Pushes          17 — 20 — 1

Starting Bankroll:   10,000

Current Bankroll:   9,065.

Best Bets:  2 — 1 — 0 (+$200)

Last Week’s Results:          – $705.

*************************************************

 

The major takeaway from last week’s games is that this season will be a very different style of play than we’re used to watching.  Edge to offenses.  Weaker defenses.  Higher scores.  That means more OVERs.

A whopping 12/16 games sailed OVER the total in Week #3.  That’s now reflected in oddsmaker adjustments of the game totals for Week #4.

Incredibly, 8 games are totaled at 50 points or higher.  I’ve never seen totals like this in the NFL.  As a bettor who wants to reduce volatility, this is bad for football bettors.  Higher scoring games mean less predictability.

Higher scores can mean many other things for bettors, also.  It means adjusting all of the normal betting factors.  For instance, it means the value of taking points (playing underdogs) is reduced significantly since higher-scoring games tend to devalue the differentials in points.  For instance, a +3 dog is normally a very attractive side bet in a totaled game at 38.  But if that game total is 54, the extra 3 points don’t mean nearly as much relative to the scoring (and increased volatility in scoring).

This also hurts our teasers, since +6 on sides is marginalized with decreased value and less relevance of key numbers (in the final score margins).

All of this will factor heavily into my analysis.  One must make adjustments as the game changes and new information becomes obvious.  I’m trying my best to keep up and make the correct adjustments.

Here we go.

 

THOUGHTS ON ALL GAMES:

 

Indianapolis at Chicago
IND -2.5
Total — 43

Comments:  Strange to see the 2-1 road team favoured versus the undefeated 3-0 home team, but more bettors are impressed with the Colts, despite a cupcake schedule (Jags, Jets, Vikings — who are a combined 1-9).  Bears have won all three games in less than confident fashion unless overcoming two-touchdown deficits can be looked upon as a positive.  But let’s remember CHI was down 23-6 to Detroit and 26-10 to Atlanta last week, which is a sign something’s amiss in preparation.  How many times can CHI do this?  So, one can look at this as a “glass half full” or “glass half empty” situation.  I’m skipping the side play and instead focusing on the total, which looks low given the scoring this season.  Two veteran starting QBs should help produce points.  We’ve also seen both of these defences give up points.  MY PICK:  OVER 43 

 

New Orleans at Detroit
NOR -3
Total — 54

Comments:  NOR can’t be trusted to lay points on the road, despite being a very solid road bet in recent years.  NOR hasn’t put a complete game together yet, and DET on the road might not be the best spot for things to come together.  DET should be 2-1 were it not for a blown big lead in Week #1.  The upset win at ARZ last week showed what this team’s potential and they certainly will be up for the Saints.  I think the play here is taking DET +3 for the game, figuring NOR still isn’t in synch and DET will come in with some extra confidence off that ARZ win.  NOR better fix their defensive problems quick or they’re going to be in for a disappointing season.  MY PICK:  DET +3 

 

Arizona at Carolina
ARZ -3
Total — 51.5

Comments:  Perfect zig-zag situation of a good team (ARZ) coming off sub-par effort (loss to DET) versus a bad team (CAR) that overachieved last week (beating LAC), which likely sets up a return to the mean.  ARZ has far too many weapons on offense to not handle CAR, especially given the Panthers’ defensive injuries.  I look for a much better game here from the Cardinals while CAR should revert to a team that’s simply outmatched.  Laying a FG with the better team, which should be a little extra motivated will get my money with a wager.  MY PICK:  ARZ -3 

 

Jacksonville at Cincinnati
CIN -2.5
Total — 49

Comments:  Sometimes young teams with little or nothing to lose air it out and produce lots of points (recall Thurs night game between DEN and NYJ) and this matchup fits a similar script. Two weak defenses should also help the scoring.  Add another play — I like the dog teased up over a touchdown.  JAX is certainly capable of an outright win here against 0-2-1 CIN, so really like the teaser across the key numbers.  Ten days rest after a very poor performance against MIA on Thurs. night should also motivate the dog Jaguars to be ready here.  I’ll take JAX teased, plus the OVER.  MY PICKS:  Tease JAX +8.5 and OVER 49.  

 

Cleveland at Dallas
DAL -4
Total — 56

Comments:  DAL has yet to put together a solid game.  Cowboys should be 0-3 right now.  Oddly enough, DAL ranks tops in the NFL in offense but has been dismal defensively.  They’ve also committed lots of turnovers.  A few weeks ago, this line would have been projected to be DAL -6 or perhaps -7.  Now, it’s down to -4 and even dipped to -3.5 in some places.  That leads me to believe DAL may have some value, as the market might have overreacted.  However, CLE has won two straight and might be at the right confidence level to get a road win here.  On Friday, I found CLE +3 for the first-half, which I really think has value (especially since the game line has dropped).  DAL has trailed at the half in all three games this season, and the Browns have enough weapons to stay with the Cowboys, especially given how badly the defense has played.  So, my play is CLE +3 in the first half.  MY PICK:  First Half — CLE +3

 

Minnesota at Houston
HOU -4
Total — 53.5

Comments:  Two winless teams coming off crushing defeats last week spells a complete crapshoot.  I’m not concerned with motivational factors, trends, or player matchups.  I’m simply counting on the points being a factor in what seems like a coin flip game.  Vikings are getting +3 in the first half.  I think that number has slightly more value than MIN +4 for the game.  So, that’s my bet.  MY PICK:  First Half — MIN +3 

 

Seattle at Miami
SEA -6
Total — 54

Comments:  I lean to MIA here plus the points.  Listen to the video for analysis and reasons I passed on the game.  NO PLAY

 

L.A. Chargers at Tampa Bay
TB -7
Total — 42.5

Comments:

Low total for today’s NFL.  No real reasoning here for a wager other than the trend of games going OVER and this is a low total.  Certainly, any Brady-QBed team is capable of reaching that number on their own.  I’m also expecting a better effort this week from the LAC who really looked lost in last week’s loss.  MY PICK:  OVER 42.5

 

267 Pittsburgh
268 Tennessee

POSTPONED

 

Baltimore at Washington
BAL -14
Total:  45.5

Comments:  Line opened at -12 and now it’s -14, moving to -14.5 in some places.  I’d typically fade that and take the generous number of points, especially since BAL could be in a hangover situation coming off a short week and a really disappointing performance against KC.  BAL could take it out here on WAS (that’s what bettors are thinking), or they could carry over here with a lackluster effort versus opponent that could be underestimated.  It’s either WAS plus the points or nothing, so I’m opting to skip in the side.  Instead, I’ll play OVER the number based on reasons already stated for these games totaled in the 40s.  MY PICK:  OVER 45.5 

 

N.Y. Giants at L.A. Rams
LAR -13
Total — 48

Comments:  I’m skipping this OVER because I don’t trust the NYG offense to produce many points.  But I can’t bet the UNDER either, given the state of defenses and the possibilities the LAR rout their overmatched opponent.  Listen to the video for analysis and reasons I passed on the game.  NO PLAY

 

New England at Kansas City
KC -7
Total — 53

POSTPONED

 

Buffalo at Las Vegas
BUF -3
Total — 52.5

Comments:  I did a double-take when I saw this line.  BUF laying a FG and -3.5 in some places?  Sure, Bills are an impressive 3-0.  But LVR have played well, are 2-1, and return home for their second game ever in Las Vegas.  BUF has played two close games in a row (vs. MIA and LAR) so I don’t know why they’re laying this number.  Oh yes, of course — injuries.  LVR are missing four offensive starters, but two are rookies, and I don’t think the drop off is that severe.  LVR are a scrappy team that sometimes puts together pieces that work and I think they have enough here to keep this close.  So, I’m taking the home dog, also expecting BUF to finally play a flat game after a fast start.  MY PICK:  LVR +3

 

Philadelphia at San Francisco
SFO -7
Total — 45

Comments:  I lean to PHI here plus the points.  Listen to the video for analysis and reasons I passed on the game.  I did wager on the OVER, for no other reason than the reasons already mentioned for these lower-totaled games.  MY PICK:  OVER 45     

 

Atlanta at Green Bay
GB -7
Total — 57

Comments:  Packers have been an offensive powerhouse, rolling up the NFL’s highest team point total through three weeks.  Now, they face one of the league’s worst defenses.  That makes GB the obvious play.  However, ATL has played very well for three quarters in their last two games, and blown 2-TD leads.  Who knows what mental shape the Falcons will be in, but the offense can score and MNF could bring out another strong effort from ATL on the offensive side of the ball.  I can’t lay -7 with the Packers, but I also don’t see them losing a home game (albeit without much fan support) against such a bad defense that has to be stung after what’s happened the last two games.  I expect many cappers will tease this game, taking the Packers.  MY PICK:  Tease GB -1

 

THIS WEEK’S WAGERS (11 bets):

IND / CHI OVER 42.5 — Risking $330 to win $300

DET +3 vs. NOR — Risking $330 to win $300

ARZ -3 vs. CAR — Risking $550 to win $500 [BEST BET]

JAX / CIN OVER 49.5 — Risking $330 to win $300

LAC / TB OVER 42.5 — Risking $330 to win $300

FIRST HALF: MIN +3 vs. HOU — Risking $220 to win $200

FIRST HALF: CLE +3 vs. DAL — Risking $220 to win 200

BAL / WAS OVER 45.5 — Risking $330 to win $300

LVR +3 vs. BUF — Risking $220 to win $200

PHI / SFO OVER 45 — Risking $330 to win $300

TEASER:  JAX +8.5 / GB -1 — Risking $480 to win $400

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