I eat while driving — many times with a knife and fork (fortunately, the car has good alignment so I don’t need to have my hands on the wheel).
I used to shave while driving — that was before I quit shaving.
As for drinking while driving, let’s just not go there. Don’t ask, don’t tell.
But one thing I most certainly will not never do again is eat a bowl of hot chili while driving.
En route from Las Vegas to Lake Tahoe a few days ago, I stopped off in Bishop, CA There was no way in hell I was going to waste 20 minutes sitting in the restaurant eating, when the more practical thing was to get the food “to go.” I call this multi-tasking.
Well, you can see what happened from the photo above. I won’t even show you what my shirt looked like, which now pretty much looks like an infant’s bib. I dribbled chili all over myself like a two-year-old. Fortunately, the chili wasn’t steaming hot or it might have burned the family jewels.
Which leads me to wonder — if I scorched my crotch eating hot chili, could I sue the restaurant for a million dollars like the bat-shit crazy hot coffee lady?
Everyone seems to have an opinion as to why President Obama won a second term. Similarly, those same opinions also apply to why Mitt Romney lost.
Here are my thoughts as to why the election turned out as it did:
1. Obama’s superior political organization — Even those who are opposed to Obama will concede his extraordinary talents as a campaigner. Just as important was his well-oiled political organization which micro-managed another victory. Obama may very well have run the two most effective campaigns in American history — (If there’s still any doubt, think of the odds going into 2008 that a Black man with the name “Barack Hussein Obama” would be elected on a national level). Obama won states and regions he needed to win to get re-elected, which is a testament to a phenomenal strategy and organization.
2. Romney’s “47 percent” comment — All elections have key moments that become tipping points. Not only the revelation but the actual existence of a video showing Romney speaking candidly to wealthy donors and dismissing nearly half the U.S. population was an albatross that proved to be impossible to shake.
3. Romney’s perceived opposition to women’s equality — Look at the numbers. They don’t lie. President Obama won over women by nearly ten points over Romney — a staggering statistic. Sure, Romney carried male voters — but by a much smaller margin.. No doubt, Romney’s waffling on the “equal pay for equal work” cost him some votes, combined with some very conservative ideas on women’s issues that undoubtedly turned off many (mostly) younger women.
You have been entrusted with the greatest privilege any American can be given. That is the honor of leading our nation.
Over the next four years, you will face many tough decisions. If there are doubts about which direction to go, I have a few words of advice: Remember the message that got you elected. Remember the things you stood for that won you 60 million votes, not just once — but twice. Remember the causes you championed out on the campaign trail that brought cheers from the crowds. Those were not conservative ideas. They were not even moderate ideas. For the most part, they were liberal ideas. That’s what got you elected, Mr. President — a second time.
Here’s a two-minute video clip of the final hand of the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event Championship.
While ESPN does a remarkable job in its coverage, this video shows what it’s like to sit in the audience and watch poker history unfold.
The film quality is average, but viewers get a pretty good glimpse into the excitement of the room that night, and how the crowd reacted at the Penn and Teller Theatre at the Rio Las Vegas. This was shot at about 4:45 am on Oct. 31, 2012.
When I shot this video, I was positioned directly behind second-place finisher Jesse Sylvia’s supporters, who predictably had a much more subdued reaction to the final hand. The bulk of Merson’s supporters are in the foreground and swarm the stage at the moment of victory.
Right-wing wackos love to call President Obama a “socialist” — as though that’s a bad thing.
Frightened flag-waving bigots tend to use interchangeable buzz words — socialist, communist, marxist — without having the slightest understanding of what these terms really mean.
So, let’s take a closer look, shall we? Let’s examine state of modern socialism in the world, circa 2012.
Where to begin?
Too bad there aren’t nations we could look to as prime examples. Too bad there aren’t nations with the kinds of policies we American progressives are fighting for — like universal health coverage, higher taxes on the wealthy and big corporations, increased spending on infrastructure including mass transit, deeper cuts in military and defense, increased government regulation of businesses, and protection for the environment. It sure would be nice to see where nations that have those kinds of policies rank in all kinds of different categories.
There are nations like that in the world?
So, where do these socialist-leaning nations rank? More important, where do we rank?
For those of you who didn’t vote early — Tuesday, November 6th becomes your last chance to vote in this year’s election.
I live and vote in Nevada, which is considered a “swing state.” This year Nevada residents have the added motivation of casting ballots that could actually make a difference in the presidential election. But even those who reside in less-competitive states should vote, as the ballots cast in other races (especially House and Senate races) will go a long way towards determining the direction of our country.
Here are my endorsements:
U.S. PRESIDENT: BARACK OBAMA / U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: JOSEPH BIDEN
During his first term, President Obama governed from the political center — much to the chagrin of (we) progressives who hoped for a transformational leader. At key moments — particularly when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress during his first two years — the President pretty much abandoned the fight for real change — including pushing for nationalized health care, disengagement from foreign conflicts, increased federal oversight of Wall Street, expanding environmental protections, and a determination to champion causes that require a political street fight. To his credit, the stimulous stopped the bleeding and turned what might have been a catastrophie around after years of gross negligence on virtually every federal matter, reversing the steps which led to the economic meltdown of 2008 (though he still hasn’t gone nearly far enough). But frankly, I still don’t trust the Obama Administration to advance the liberal agenda. He’s clearly enjoying he perks of the office and governs as a moderate — and anyone who thinks otherwise is simply a fool who has not looked at the record. But the alternative to a second Obama term is far worse than the current gridlock.
Conversely, a possible Romney Administration would likely be a replay of the period of decline during the later Bush years, when government totally abandoned its responsibilities and let major corporations and financial institutions trample roughshod over the working class, generating a false bubble boom, thus revealing the utter failure of “trickle-down economics.” There’s nothing to indicate a President Romney would “create jobs” as he so claims, unless he’s talking about continuing to incentivize outsourcing to other nations, while our nation’s middle and lower classes struggle. Romney’s positions on foreign policy are not only grossly naive, but utterly frightening — as was revealed in his meandering deer-in-the-headlights flop during the third presidential debate. Then, there’s his 1950-era social policies and the prospects of a Romney Administration picking perhaps two Supreme Court justices, which would be heavily influenced by the far-right, led by the neanderthal types like Focus on the Family. Romney is not necessarily an evil man, but those who would lead his Administration are very much bad people — from the neo-conservative chicken-hawk war-mongers who bang the drums of conflict abroad so their buddies in the killing business can get wealthy, to the super-rich on Wall Street who want to self-regulate and let “market forces police themselves.” Romney’s vision of America is terrifying prospect, unless you happen to be a well-connected White male making in excess of $250,000-a-year with no conscious.
All things considered, President Obama gets my mixed endorsement and vote.
NEVADA — U.S. SENATE: NO ENDORSEMENT
The race between incumbent Sen. Dean Heller (R) and Rep. Shelley Berkley (D) poses a tough dilemma. On one hand as a proud liberal — purely by the issues — I prefer that the U.S. Senate remain in Democratic control. Trouble is, Democrat leadership in the Senate has been ATROCIOUS. From the downright awful Harry Reid to Barbara Boxer to Diane Feinstein to the multitude of milquetoast phony liberals who hold leadership positions in the Senate, they are all an embarrassment to real progressive politics. These Democrats are little more than “Republican Lite” when it comes to economic and foreign policy. I would prefer to see 100 Bernie Sanders (I-VT) occupy the U.S. Senate, but that’s not going to happen. There’s nothing compelling about Rep. Berkley that would indicate she’d be any different than any of those horrible legislators who desperately need to be replaced in the U.S. Senate. Then, there are Rep. Berkley’s ethics violations currently being investigated which are a concern (question — did she really take a trip to Italy on the taxpayer dime and charge $55,000 to the treasury?). It also troubles me that Rep. Berkley has been making a lot money these past few years buying up foreclosed homes in Nevada. There’s nothing wrong with making money for good old-fashioned hard work, but it strikes me as bad form to be profiting from the misery of a lot of her fellow Nevadans. As for a few litmus-test issues — to her credit, she’s been a staunch proponent of legalizing online gambling and poker. But then, so has her opponent in this race — Sen. Dean Heller. One litmus tipping point that keeps me off the “Berkley for Senate” bandwagon is her rabidly one-sided views in the Middle East, for which she’s been given a 100 score by AIPAC. There’s no way I can support such a candidate. I prefer to see a more open dialogue with all parties (the Senate has a powerful role in foreign policy) and the prospect of a Sen. Berkley sitting on the Foreign Relations Committee is troublesome. Even thought I’ve met him and very much like him personally, I can’t pull the lever for Sen. Heller for obvious reasons. So, with some regret — I hereby withhold my endorsement of either major candidate in this race.
NEVADA — 4TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: JOHN OCEGUERA (DEMOCRAT)
This is a new congressional seat. But the same area of representation has been filled with incompetent leadership for years, in large part because neither party seems to be able to hold it from one election to the next, thus stripping away any possibility of accumulating much-needed seniority when it comes to gaining powerful committee assignments. Jon Porter (R) was an horrific congressman (he was violently anti-online poker and gambling, until the casino industry kicked him in the ass and he did an about-face). Next, the utterly repulsive do-nothing Democrat Dina Titus, a Georgia transplant, essentially stunk up the office for two years before she was booted out in the predictable electoral backlash of 2010, when Republicans enjoyed a landslide victory in many House races. Now, Rep. Joe Heck seems to enjoy the advantage of being a relatively popular incumbent, especially for what’s considered as a swing district. I’ve seen much worse within the Republican Party than Heck, so I’m not strongly opposed to his candidacy. However, John Oceguera is the Speaker of the Nevada Assembly and certainly has the pedigree to be an effective leader in Congress. He appears to be one of the more progressive candidates running anywhere in Nevada (which despite its reputation is actually a pretty conservative, libertarian-leaning state), which is perhaps one reason he’s down in the polls by ten points. I admire candidates who stick to their principles and don’t head for the political center during the election cycle, and this display of courage wins Oceaguera my endorsement in this election. He’s unlikely to win anything other than a respectable finish, which might lead to a repeat run in the future.
OTHER RACES: NO ENDORSEMENTS
There are dozens of other races listed on the ballot — for state assembly, state senate, the courts, and other races. I tend to pass on these races because I do not know the candidates (or in many cases) the specific issues relevant to the race. I’m appalled that many of these races are partisan contests (where officials must designate themselves as Republicans or Democrats, even though the position has little to do with partisanship), and many voters simply vote a “straight-party” ticket. That strikes me as a lazy, almost criminal abdication of civic responsibility. Just as I encourage citizens who do not follow politics to STAY HOME and DO NOT VOTE — by the same measure of consistency, I apply those same standards to my own voting. If I know nothing about a race, I will not pull a lever for any of the candidates. I encourage you to do the same and pass on these elections, which are too often decided by partisanship or the ethnicity of last names. [SEE FOOTNOTE BELOW]
November 5, 2012
FOOTNOTE: In past elections, I have voted for many third-party candidates purely as a protest to the two-party system. I have done so in races when I knew little about the candidates or the race. As a matter of principle, voting “third party” does serve a noble purpose, which is to erode the lock of corruption that the two major parties have on the political process Hence, I encourage third-party voting if you have that opportunity and agree that more voices and points of view need to be represented in positions of leadership.
I’ve written extensively about my struggle to stay in shape. Well — this past week was a very bad week.
Do you know how difficult it is to work out every single day of the week? Can you picture the drudgery of hoofing five fucking miles — no matter how hot it is outside or how few hours you slept last night? Well, I did it. 60 straight days last summer working the World Series of Poker from noon until 3 am every day — and I was up at 10 am every single morning to run in the 108-degree heat. The sweat was like a baptism.
My diet plan worked. In fact, it didn’t just work. It kicked fucking ass.
Ten months ago, I started out as a 262-pound blob of laziness and worked it off one grueling step at a time. Make no mistake. I don’t like to run. The pain was often intense. I had plenty of excuses to skip days, but never did. I had good reasons to cut my workout, but never took a shortcut. I was determined to stick to the plan. My idea — and it worked like magic – was to eat and drink myself silly, but then to work off every pound by pummeling the pavement five miles per day, seven days a week. I’m not religious. But if I have a belief, it is in the power of human willpower. If I can do it, anyone can.
It’s no mistake that the very first blog post I wrote some four months ago was about running. For me, it was a mental and physcial challenge to do someting I had never done and then stuck to it. It was — a life transformation.
And so, I proudly reported that nine months after my workout ritual began — I managed to drop from 262 all the way down to 215. That’s an astonishing 47 pounds, or about 17 percent of my total body mass. Incredibly, I never missed a meal. I never missed a drink. I ate WHATEVER I WANTED. I drank two cocktails and a bottle of wine a day — more when someone else was buying. Warren Lush comes to mind. I ran those meals and manhattans off and fucking loved living life.
Well, all journeys worth taking have bumpy roads and detours. I’ve just taken one. And now, I need to get back onto the highway.
It all started out five weeks ago when I worked two weeks at Bossier City, Louisiana. A grueling schedule caused me to shorten my run route down to just two miles per day. Then, it was off to France for ten more days and nights. I drank and ate even more than normal in Cannes — while averaging just three miles per day, instead of five. Next, my journey took me to Hammond-Gary, Indiana where the nauseating oil refineries and an exhausting schedule caused me to totally abandon my workout program for ten straight days.
So, according to my estimate — I have departed my ritual for 35 days. I have run an estimated 100 less miles than would have been normal.
What do you think happened to my weight during this time?
As I stated previously, my low number was 215 pounts, which I proudly carried in early September. Life was so good, I was eating quarts of Baskin-Robbins and washing it all down with Malbec. Goddamn, what a statement of pride — 215 pounds, down from 262.
Upon my return from five weeks spent on the road, I stepped on the scale. I feared the worst. Like some kind of ashamed addict that had relapsed, I looked down over a jello-like gut. The number was a kick in the groin.
I gained 13 pounds in just over a month.
I have written about this before. I could not give one flying assfuck about the number. I have no numeric goal. For me, the diet and the commitment to health is a statement. It’s a demonstration of mind over matter. It’s a personal conquest over the forces from within. It’s showing everyone that might be watching that one need not sacrifice nor be denied of life’s greatest pleasures. The answer is simply to work it all off with a dedicated ritual of running and exercise.
I had lost it all, or should I say, gained in all in one utterly detestable period of dishonor.
Fortunately, I’m now back to my ritual of running five miles — up the hills and through the searing heat. Once again, I flip off the jackasses that drive in the right-hand lane oblivious to my struggle on the sidewalks, sreaming profanity at the lazy-ass motherfuckers in their speeding Benzes and BMWs who come within inches of ending my life with the indifferent arrogance. My ankles are sore. I have cramps in my thighs. I was desperately out of breath. But my will stays strong. There’s nothing I look forward to more than the next trek around The Lakes, the next five mile circle.
I am back. With a vengeance. I am going to get rid of these 13 pounds.. And then more.
And after that, I’m eating a 16-ounce rib-eye and loaded backed potato. Don’t bring me margarine. I demand real butter.
I’m in the zone, and when I’m in the zone — it’s always happy hour.
43 WINS – 38 LOSSES – 2 PUSHES —– (+ 7.55 units / 1 unit = $100)
STARTING BANKROLL: $10,000.
CURRENT BANKROLL: $10,755.
BEST BETS OF THE WEEK: 5-3-0
Coming off my worst week of the season, going 3 wins and 6 losses for a net loss of -8.2 units. My overall record remains in the black in all categories, but need to improve. Looking to turn things around in Week 9 in what looks to be the best lineup of games I have seen all season. Great slate full of live home dogs.
Making 16 bets (season high) and wagering $8,000 (season high).
Note: All wagers are for amusement-purposes only. I bear no responsibility for those who may decide to follow my plays.
Imagine real-life hero pilot “Sulley” Sullenberger with a severe drug and alcohol problem and doing a few lines prior to taking controls in the cockpit, yet still managing to land his packed airplane with absolute precision on the Hudson River. Would he still be a hero? That’s the dilemma of the new film, “Flight,” which just hit theaters this week.
This is a difficult movie to sit through. Yet it’s tough to decide which is more gut-wrenching — watching a doomed airliner packed full of passengers buckled down in a nosedive headed for near-certain death, or the central character played by Denzel Washington, whose personal life is just as out of control.
While Washington’s character nicknamed “Whip” manages to miraculously maneuver the aircraft towards a crash landing that undoubtedly saves lives, the captain comes under increasing scrutiny once the post-crash investigation begins. Conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the investigation begins to reveal some troubling revelations about Whip and his conduct. Every second of the pilot and crew’s lives are scrutinized, which uncovers some ugly secrets about how Whip spends most of his free time. His best friends are bottles with names like Jim Beam and Jack Daniels, with a few lines of cocaine to add a little spice.
The hero-addict dichotomy is a marvelous dramatic device which helps to sustain a longer-than-average 2.5 hour movie. The audience faces a real conflict here. We don’t know whether to cheer for Whip to beat the rap and move on with his life (after all, he heroically saved lives), or be exposed as the fraud he is so the healing and recovery process can begin.
Note: Melissa Hayden took this outstanding photograph of the late Sailor Roberts just before he passed away in 1995. It is believed to be the last photo of the 1975 world poker champion. Thanks to Melissa for providing this photo.
What follows are my remarks given at Sailor Roberts’ official induction ceremony, which took place on Ocober 30, 2012 at the Rio Las Vegas.