My Thoughts on Victims and Survivors Suing Mandalay Bay:
This lawsuit is absurd. It has no merit whatsoever. Hopefully, the legal case never reaches trial. Hopefully, MGM and Live Nation refuse to settle out of court. They did nothing wrong, and finding them guilty of any negligence sends the wrong message. It also makes everyone’s lives more difficult and more expensive because, in the end, it’s we who end up paying the price. We suffer the fallout.
It seems that everyone in America can sue anyone for any reason for any amount, no matter how frivolous the claim.
Gamblers should be absolutely elated with this NFL season.
Defenses appear to have improved. Offenses are struggling. Scoring is down. Multiple star quarterbacks have been injured. Plenty of ugly games are played every week. There’s been lots of so-called “bad” football.
Does sin have an expiration date? Should the statute of limitations apply differently to sexual misconduct versus crimes against humanity? Does justice hold a ticking stopwatch?
A candidate for the United States Senate is alleged to have committed multiple offenses of sexual assault nearly four decades ago. Should his misdeeds from many years earlier be relevant today?
A middle-aged man committed a brutal murder 25 years ago. He was convicted and served a long prison sentence. He’s now free and hopes to rejoin society as a productive citizen. Should we continue to hold his criminal record against him?
A 92-year-old senior citizen now living in Chile is identified as a notorious former Nazi, who actively participated in what’s known as The Final Solution. Should the elderly man be arrested and tried for his participation in crimes against humanity?
From these real-life quandaries, we recognize that morality isn’t so much a line, but a matrix.
The common defense for Roy Moore, the current frontrunner in the U.S. Senate race in Alabama is that all five of his alleged incidents of sexual and personal misconduct (two against minors) happened so long ago that they’re no longer relevant. Moore is 70 now and married. When he was in his mid-30s and single, Moore liked the company of young girls, make that — very young girls. However, there’s no record — at least not yet — of any recent transgressions. Whether deserved or not, if we give Moore the benefit of the doubt that he’s led a scandal-free life since the early 1980s, should his clean record later override suspected crimes as a much younger man?
The floodgates have now opened up on a cultural epidemic of sexual misconduct in America. Many men in positions of power — from movie stars to business executives to politicians — are now shuddering in the shadows at the prospect of things they did and said to subordinates, years ago. The sexual misconduct dragnet has even dredged up tawdry accusations against Tom Hanks and George H.W. Bush, two public figures most of us agree would seem to be the least likely of sexual conquistadors.
It’s pretty clear Harvey Weinstein, Anthony Wiener, Bill O’Reilly, and others exposed as sexual predators weren’t just scumbags before who eventually grew out of a sick phase. They’re scumbags now. Their misdeeds happened recently and thus reflect poorly on the quality of their character today. Perhaps these powerful men are morally redeemable and can make proper amends someday. That remains to be seen. However, our judgment must apply to what we know now, not what’s presumed might happen in the future.
Consider the case of Kevin Spacey. He might have posed an excruciating predicament had his scandalous behavior been confined to a single drunken incident three decades earlier. Some might have forgiven or at least been willing to forget one misdeed (Spacey allegedly hit on an underage boy in 1986). Our mass indignation became far easier once we learned that Spacey has committed similar acts over the course of a lifetime.
While Spacey and others present no moral ambiguity, Hollywood has a disturbingly short memory when it comes to rectitude. It holds grudges for less a time than most people elsewhere. If anyone other than a supremely-talented film director had raped a 13-year-old girl, he would have been an eternal outcast. But not Roman Polanski, who fled the United States, dodged justice, and continues to live unpunished as a fugitive. Years after the statutory rape occurred, Polanski continues making movies to this day. He was even awarded an Oscar in 2002. Apparently, in Hollywood, the statute of limitations may as well be a parking meter.
Central to the question of forgiveness is accepting responsibility for one’s actions. Several abusers who were called out by their victims have publicly apologized. Whether sincere or merely the clever crafting of public relations spin (call me cynical — most of these apologies are nothing but the contrivances of sycophantic handlers working for powerful people who were caught), those who admit their wrongdoing are taking the right first step. Time will probably heal most wounds. Roman Polanski clearly shows, they will work again eventually.
I’ve had some interesting discussions with Facebook friends about crime and punishment. At least one of these friends is a convicted felon (his identity won’t be revealed here). He committed a serious crime when he was 20, and later served ten years in a state penitentiary. Today, he’s a free man. He’s working in an honest job and has even started a family. But he continues to be stigmatized by his actions from many years ago. To what extent should he be judged, if at all?
I think most of us will agree that a felon who has paid for his crime and has demonstrated genuine repentance for the suffering he caused deserves another chance. In fact, someone who successfully overcomes a bad childhood, addiction, and a criminal past is even more worthy of our admiration for having conquered their personal demons. Most of us were born lucky, with good parents and enjoyed a proper upbringing. Those who change from bad people into good people merit an extra level of commendation.
But what about the most terrible crimes in history, most of which have gone unpunished? Only a small fraction of those who carried out of the most brutal barbarism of the Third Reich have been tried and convicted. Most escaped justice. Many fled to safe havens, like counties in South America where their criminal pasts were either ignored or forgotten.
Only a small number of Nazi war criminals are still living, most aged in their 90s. Is there really any point to hunting them down, rounding them up, and shaming old men hobbling on canes or puttied to wheelchairs? What end is served?
This one is easy. Criminals who escape justice must be pursued until the end of their miserable lives, and even beyond (dig up the bodies and remove them from privileged resting places, if necessary). They should never be comfortable enough to feel they’ve gotten away with villainy. Not only do the ghosts of their victims absolutely demand this. Modern would-be despots must be dissuaded from carrying out similar misdeeds. One of the most effective deterrents to another holocaust is the grisly image of the guilty hanging from a rope.
Justice must never be subject to any stopwatch. There is no statute of limitations when it comes to sinners and sin. However, we must also accept that those who genuinely seek redemption must be entitled to change into better people. In fact, they must be encouraged to do so. This decree has no religious overtone. Justice and the opportunity for redemption, when deserved, are the fundamental covenants of humanism.
Posted initially in an article at MadJackSports.com, I explained how teasing one NFL team with a large portion of the remaining board could result in a profitable and action-packed day. For football gamblers who are adverse to risk and want action on multiple games, the teaser wheel is an ideal betting strategy. Most bettors could certainly do a lot worse on their own randomly picking against the spread, or could even be assured of losing money if following the landmark of losers who sign up annually for the Westgate Superbook Contest, a group which collectively can’t even overcome the vig and have produced some weeks as low as 34 percent winners (all picks/all contest entrants).
The teaser wheel requires that we pick one NFL team and make that team the “hub.” The “spokes” on the wheel are most of the remaining teams. We will often have wagers on every NFL game. Sometimes, we will bet both sides of a game, which gives us a 12-point middle. When the final score lands in the middle, we win both sides. This is the sweet spot of the teaser wheel.
I have refined the system over the years. I tend to avoid teams where the line crosses the ZERO. That’s because the added 6 points isn’t nearly as valuable (2/6 points are essentially worthless). Since ties are quite rare in the NFL. So, a game teased 6 points isn’t nearly as beneficial when the line moves from -3 to +3. This is especially true since a line push (the final score lands right on 3) means “no action.”
Another problem with teaser wheels that didn’t used to be a problem is the higher vig. Teasers used to be priced at -110. Now, they are -120 at most places. I have seen some sites with a -110 vig price, but ties lose. This makes them good targets for situations where the game line is a half-point (since there can be no ties). Honestly, betting the teaser wheel indiscriminately across the board and laying -120 is a losing proposition, even if we have confidence in our “hub” team.
Still, teaser wheels can still be profitable. But we must apply them more sporadically, and be careful with the hub team.
A good example of a teaser disaster happened last week with Seattle’s disgraceful performance at home versus Washington. A significant portion of the Redskins starters were on IR. That didn’t matter. The Seahwaks field goal kicker missed three very makeable kicks in the first half. The running game took the afternoon off. And the Seahawks vaulted defense decided that a football game is only 58 minutes long. Seattle, teased from -7 to -1, lost 17-14.
What should have been a solid winning day at 3-1, instead turned into a loser at 2-2 and a net loss of -$270. Still, my record shows 60 percent winners at the midway point of the season and 16.4 percent profit to the good.
The “bet all the winless teams” angle continues to slide towards losing money. System is now 5-7 for the season after San Francisco shit the bed last week. Onlty two teams this still applies are San Francisco +2.5 and Cleveland +11. I’m stepping off the train and jumping on a plane, instead.
There’s not as much handicapping with the teaser wheel, which will be my primary strategy this week. The key game I’ve identified as the “make it or break it” situation is New England -7.5 playing at Denver. The Patriots will be the hub team for the teaser wheel.
New England at Denver
I normally shy away from road favorites, especially of this size (NWE -7.5). However, this is more of an against DEN play than a confidence wager in NWE. I’ll explain why. DEN may not have cratered yet. The team is looking worse each week. Expectations that DEN would somehow find other ways to win — improve the running game, defense step up, etc. — have faded as Broncos are currently on a 4-game losing streak during which a span they’ve been outscored by an average of 19 points per game. DEN made the switch to Osweiler at QB hoping to desperately shake things up. But that’s hasn’t stopped the hemorrhaging. What’s really remarkable is how DEN defense continues to regress, surrendering an average of 25 PPG. DEN looks like a team that’s given up on the season. Meanwhile, NWE looks to have addressed most of their defensive issues from early in the season. NWE playing much better now, winners of four straight games while allowing average of just 13 PPG in those contests. Add NWE coming off the bye week and rested here, which gives coach Belichick extra prep time. Belichick teams are 12-5 after a bye. NWE swamped DEN in Denver last season by a final score of 16-3, and that was against a much better DEN team that was playing with confidence. Now, DEN coming off a humiliation where they gave up 51 points to Philadelphia last week, and now must face Tom Brady and Co. NWE is on a run of 11 straight road wins. They are 8-2 the last ten contests when a road favorite. This would typically be a good spot to play NWE anyway and lay the big number. But the safer play here appears to be asking the hotter, far superior, better-coached team with a Hall of Fame quarterback against a throwaway bench rider to simply win the game by at least 2 points. I’m picking NWE as the teaser wheel team, and using the Wong logic to pick up all the key numbers in lower scoring games — 7, 6, 4, and 3. NWE is the hub of my first teaser wheel of the season.
[Note that I will grade all plays at -110, but ties lose.]
THIS WEEK’S PLAYS: 15 wagers
Teaser: New England -1.5 / Washington +7.5 (Risking $220 to win $200)
WAS put up a surprisingly tough fight last week despite injuries….MIN will not be teased across the 0. Looking for WAS to keep it close.
Teaser: New England -1.5 / Green Bay +11.5 (Risking $220 to win $200)
GB is woeful on offense, but no way CHI should be laying double digits with that rookie QB. CHI will try and run the hell out of the ball and rely on defense, so taking the generous points seems wise.
Teaser: New England -1.5 / Pittsburgh -4 (Risking $220 to win $200)
Teaser: New England -1.5 / Indianapolis +16 (Risking $220 to win $200)
Some concern number could land on a tie on both of these sides, but I’ll target a Steelers win by -5 to -15 for the money on both teams teased.
Teaser: New England -1.5 / San Diego +11.5 (Risking $220 to win $200)
JAX favored by -5.5. Solid defense for sure. But SDI has enough talent to keep this within single digits.
Teaser: New England -1.5 / Tampa Bay +8.5 (Risking $220 to win $200)
NYJ in the rare role of road favorite. TB has looked awful but I’ll take them at home to put up enough fight versus NYJ offense that remains inconsistent. We also get more than a TD with Bucs.
Teaser: New England -1.5 / Buffalo +9 (Risking $220 to win $200)
Looks like the best play of the day for an upset. NOR doesn’t play as well on road and BUF undefeated at home this season. Refuse to tease NOR across the 0, but BUF teased to +9 is a gift.
Teaser: New England -1.5 / Detroit -5 (Risking $220 to win $200)
Teaser: New England -1.5 / Cleveland +17 (Risking $220 to win $200)
This is a “hold your nose” special. CLE off the bye. Let’s hope they show up for a change and keep this around a 10-point loss.
Teaser: New England -1.5 / Houston +17.5 (Risking $220 to win $200)
Teaser: New England -1.5 / LA Rams -5.5 (Risking $220 to win $200)
Rams laying reasonable number teased down to -5.5. Taking HOU with Savage at QB is like lighting a match to money, but I’m counting on Texans to have enough fight to keep it reasonably close. C’mon middle.
Teaser: New England -1.5 / Dallas +9.5 (Risking $220 to win $200)
I hate teasing games with high totals played in domes. Way too volatile. However, DAL is probably the better team with ATL still having major question marks with its inconsistent offensive unit (Falcons not the same with Shannahan’s departure). Even the DAL RB suspension makes me like the Cowboys, since they can plug in another starter and probably get decent yardage on the ground.
Teaser: New England -1.5 / San Francisco +9.5 (Risking $220 to win $200)
My upset special. SFO should get first win here. NYG have won one game this season. Hard to see how they blow out anyone with all the injuries and lack of team chemistry. Give me the extra points with a home team that should be charged up with a new starting QB. Give me the dog with a team coached by someone with job security, versus a coach likely to be fired soon.
Teaser: New England -1.5 / Carolina -3 (Risking $220 to win $200)
Teaser: New England -1.5 / Miami +15 (Risking $220 to win $200)
Don’t like these numbers since one of the teasers lands on 3 (remember — ties lose). MIA also got throttled 40-0 last time they played a night game, so even getting +15 isn’t much comfort. Risky play here, except both that defenses show occasional flashes, so hoping this is an ugly 6-7 point win by the home favorite Panthers.
Note: I purposely skipped the CIN-TEN game. I can’t tease TEN across the ZERO. And CIN is absolute shit, even at +10. They can’t get enough points to make me put my money in them. Total pass on this game.
Good luck to all.
NOTE: Check back for updates and possible added plays.
Now, four months into Nevada’s bold experiment with recreational marijuana use, all evidence indicates that critics of legalization were dead wrong about the presumed dangers they insisted would occur.
This isn’t the view of a biased, half-stoned, pot smoker. It’s my sober opinion based on countless encounters with pot users who I’ve seen light up in public places, mostly using vaporizers. “Vaping,” I believe it’s called. Forgive me if I get some of the lingo wrong. I’m not familiar with the mechanics of marijuana smoking nor do I know how to use one of those devices which resembles an electronic metal tube. In fact, I’ve never smoked marijuana (or cannabis) in my life and have no plans to do so in the future.
I don’t like drugs. But I don’t begrudge those who chose to imbibe in the milder stuff, provided they act responsibly. Despite having no desire to partake, I strongly favor the legalization of recreational marijuana (and most other drugs, too). Nonetheless, earlier this year when the law changed, no one knew what to expect once using marijuana became as convenient as buying a six-pack. Frankly, given Las Vegas’ pervasive culture of quick and easy access to all forms of vice, things could have gone either way.
Critics warned that incidents of public disorder would worsen. They claimed crime would increase. They insisted recreational marijuana use would lead to a significant rise in the use of harder drugs, thus filling up emergency rooms and adding to the burdens of law enforcement.
Turns out, legalizing marijuana hasn’t made any of these problems worse. In fact, pot may have actually helped to reduce some these problems. In recent months, for instance, I’ve encountered fewer traffic accidents. Data will ultimately determine if the rate of auto accidents has declined in Nevada since legalizing marijuana. But based on personal experience, I’m willing to stand by the supposition that things are better now.
Why is this so? My theory is as follows: Since more people are now smoking marijuana than before, they’re also consuming less alcohol. This shift in behavior would likely reduce the number of impaired drivers on the road. Fewer impaired drivers means fewer accidents.
But doesn’t smoking pot impair driving? I don’t think so. Interestingly, I see drivers smoking pot all the time. At stoplights, drivers frequently roll down their windows and release huge plumes of white smoke. You can’t drive anywhere in the city and not witness this phenomenon. When my windows are down and I’m sitting next to another vehicle with a driver who’s vaping, the odor is unmistakable. It’s pot. Yet, I’ve not seen any incidents where any pot-smoking driver appears to be driving unsafely. Sure, it might happen occasionally. I just haven’t seen it.
I don’t want to be accused of overstating things, but marijuana use appears to be happening almost everywhere around Las Vegas. I’m astounded at how public this activity is and how few people (non-users) seem to care. Pulling into some parking garages is like getting invited to a pot party. Small groups of people are frequently seen standing around their cars, at all hours of the day and night, sometimes just sitting in their cars quietly as though huddled around a campfire, as clouds of smoke rise into the air. It’s pervasive.
I’ve walked past these dens of pot smokers more times than I can count, frequently late at night after a long poker session. I’ve never encountered a problem or felt unsafe. Not once.
Downtown Las Vegas has become a melting pot of bikers, women with too many tattoos, budget-seeking tourists from the Midwest, and at least on weekends — about half the population of San Bernadino County. It’s also become the city’s epicenter for marijuana use. Locals and tourists alike carry vaping devices openly on city streets and inside many casinos, toking away. Many different odors have come to be associated with marijuana products now, given there are so many different varieties. I don’t know enough about it to describe the sensation, but the smell is distinctive and unmistakable.
Despite all the pot smoking within relatively confined spaces, I’ve seen no incidents of violence or disorder associated with its use. To the contrary. Smoking pot appears to make most users more mellow. They don’t want to fight. They want to chill, and maybe later — eat. Moreover, smoking pot usually means there’s less drinking. So, just like with driving, that would account for less public intoxication and violence.
Again, it may be too early to tell just yet, but crime has not increased in Las Vegas (obviously, the mass shooting isn’t taken into account here, but that had nothing to do with drug use). Desperate dope addicts aren’t robbing and stealing in order to feed their addictions. That appears to be yet another myth associated with legalizing marijuana — now disproven. I expect we’ll eventually see better research on this which will settle the matter once and for all.
The only negative I’ve experienced with marijuana used so openly is a mildly annoying odor, at times. If confined within a small space, the smell of smoke vapors can be pretty intense to a non-user. But I’ve yet to encounter any of the discomforts associated with second-hand smoke — such as coughing and burning eyes. Given the option of having a cigarette smoker VERSUS a pot smoker (vaping) right next to me, and I’ll gladly take the pot smoker. In a heartbeat. No discussion necessary. Not even close. Besides, the pot smoker probably won’t be much of a bother.
I can’t speak with any depth as to the economics of legalizing marijuana. However, the state’s revenue from taxation will be huge. Based on reports, including the conservative-leaning Las Vegas Review-Journal, local and state officials appear to be doing a remarkable job in policing the new industry, which remains scandal-free. Even more compelling is the fact that hundreds (perhaps thousands) of new jobs have been created, many at legal dispensaries located all over town. So, economically speaking, legalizing marijuana has been a good thing. Just how good still remains to be seen.
Okay, so virtually all the short-term impacts of legalizing marijuana appear to be positive. But what about the long-term? Surely, we will pay a heavy price down the road, right?
We’ll eventually see. If the critics are right (they’ve been wrong on every point, thus far); if marijuana proves to be a so-called “gateway drug” to harder stuff in the future, then Las Vegas will have some mighty big problems. However, there’s no evidence yet that harder drug use has worsened in jurisdictions where pot has been legal for some time. Other states (and countries) which liberalized their drug laws aren’t seeing any epidemics when it comes to overdosing and addiction. In the end, legalization probably ends up saving more lives since those who do abuse drugs won’t be dissuaded against getting treatment because of fears of being charged with a crime.
Alas, the most serious drug epidemic in this country right now has nothing whatsoever to do with marijuana. It has everything to do with a corrupt corporate capitalistic culture pushing the hell out of opioids in order to swell profits and make shareholders happy. Las Vegas certainly has its share of victims who have become slaves to this opioid crisis. Still, none of this has anything to do with marijuana. America’s opioid addiction crisis has killed thousands. But no one dies from smoking marijuana. Let’s face it. It’s big pharma’s bonus-driven corporate whores and overzealous marketing departments who are the most dangerous and destructive drug cartel in America. Not pot people.
By and large, Las Vegas’ initial four months as a test case in the ongoing marijuana debate has produced a convincing case that this should be our national drug policy: Total decriminalization of all marijuana-related products, sale, and use — in every state in America. Imagine how that might free up our overburdened law enforcement and court system to tackle real crime instead of wasting precious resources busting pot smokers.
It’s clear. Critics of drug legalization here in Las Vegas have been proven wrong. Advocates were right. So, let’s now listen to the people who got it right and start ignoring the people who always seem to get things wrong. Let’s get wise and expand this smart and more economical approach towards marijuana to other places.
Here’s the final conclusion of someone who has no interest in smoking marijuana: Legalizing recreational marijuana in Nevada was the right thing to do.
I went to a movie last night. During the previews, the trailer for “All the Money in the World” came on. To be released soon, the Ridley Scott-directed film tells the true story of the kidnapping of John Paul Getty’s grandson by terrorists during the 1970s. At the time, John Paul Getty was the world’s richest man. Still, he stubbornly refused to pay a ransom.
Sounds intriguing, no?
There’s just one problem.
John Paul Getty is played by Kevin Spacey.
The recent allegations against Spacey of multiple sexual and perhaps criminal misdeeds are shocking. One of Hollywood’s most respected actors, he’s become the latest miscreant in what appears to be a mass epidemic of abuse — of sex and power. Spacey, his reputation in shreds, is toxic — at least for the time being. He joins the moral septic tank which includes Roman Polanski, Mel Gibson, Harvey Weinstein, and other movie moguls tainted by scandal.
Just as the movie trailer concluded, I leaned over and whispered to my wife, “Well Spacey killed that movie’s chances of success.”
Think about it. What an awkward situation for multi-million dollar film production. Writers, producers, investors, executives, film crews, advertising departments, other movie actors — hundreds and perhaps thousands of people worked hard on that film. They’re likely to suffer because now many people won’t go and see a Kevin Spacey film.
To be clear, Spacey was cast and the film wrapped-up production way before any of the terrible allegations came out. Had there been prior knowledge beyond just the rumors and whispers, probably someone else would have been cast as John Paul Getty. But hey, what’s done is done.
[NOTE: READ UPDATE BELOW]
I wonder to what extent we should hold celebrities accountable for their misconduct. When we make a decision to boycott someone’s film, are we really punishing them? Or, is the collateral damage to innocents far worse? Is boycotting a movie based solely on a performer in it really fair?
For decades, many Americans boycotted Jane Fonda’s movies because she was among the most outspoken voices of the Vietnam anti-war movement. For millions of good people who loved movies (and probably adored her father — actor Henry Fonda), Jane crossed a serious line when she visited North Vietnam and appeared to delight in mocking the shooting down of American aircraft.
The anti-Jane Fonda boycott didn’t hurt her career. She went on to create a stellar body of film work, including several Oscar-caliber performances. While she later apologized for her actions in 1972, specifically to the veterans she outraged, Fonda remains stigmatized by her actions, some deemed as treasonous. Perhaps rightly so.
I’m pretty dogmatic about standing up for my views. But I also have trouble boycotting movies based on politics. Before he became the frontman for the National Rifle Association, Charlton Heston was a proud liberal. He marched in civil rights parades during the early 1960s when it wasn’t a cool thing to do. Later on, Heston became an arch-conservative.
None of Heston’s political views bothered me when I watch (and inevitably re-watch) him playing Moses in “The Ten Commandments” or the slave in “Ben Hur,” or the astronaut in “Planet of the Apes.” I don’t see a conservative or a liberal. Instead, I see a master performer who was perfectly cast in many film roles who left us with an astounding catalog of entertainment.
To be clear, there are many performers I have absolutely no interest in seeing in any movie (Adam Sandler, Jennifer Lopez, Casey Affleck — all make my short list). But it’s not because I oppose their politics or think they’ve done bad things in their lives. I just think they suck.
Mel Gibson probably committed the gravest sin in Hollywood, which is to be anti-Semitic. Gibson’s repeated drunken outbursts during which he defamed Jews pretty much destroyed his bankability as a beloved movie star. Or……….perhaps not. His controversial 2004 film, “Passion of the Christ,” released well after allegations against Gibson began to surface, has earned $430 million (most of the profits going directly to Gibson since he was the primary investor). It remains one of the best-selling DVD releases more than a decade after coming out. Apparently, Christian audiences were perfectly willing to forgive an overt anti-Semite.
No doubt, Harvey Weinstein was (and is) a pig. He’s a disgraceful man who badly abused his power and probably deserves to be behind bars eating pork and beans the rest of his life. Weinstein should never again be in a position of power over anyone in the movie business. That’s putting it mildly.
That said, Weinstein (and specifically his former production company — Miramax) has consistently released the most critically-acclaimed movies over the past 15 years. Many Miramax films have been quite progressive in pushing the boundaries of conventional taste. When it was still considered risky to make movies about the Black experience in America or delve into uncomfortable (for many) topics like homosexuality, Miramax hasn’t just been an opportunistic conglomerate intent to exploit these outlier subjects. It’s been a cultural beacon.
Sadly, Weinstein’s fall from Hollywood grace now brings the viability of making smarter and riskier movies into a perilous future. It’s far less risky for studios to redux cartoon characters for the umpteenth time or make movies about spaceships rather than to greenlight a World War II movie about a British codebreaker who happened to be gay. In the end, Weinstein’s victims won’t just be all the women he molested. It will be the rest of us for missing out on what could have been.
I do find it odd that we allow certain celebrity sub-cultures to get away with gross offenses which would otherwise destroy the careers of people in other fields. Rock stars (rappers, etc.) are almost expected to engage in scandalous behavior. Groupies. Destroying hotel rooms. Drugs. Drunkenness. But when’s the last time a musician was charged with having sex with a minor? Are we to conclude that pop musicians are better behaved than actors?
Even non-celebrity cases of sexual misconduct are often fraught with outlandish hypocrisy. Teachers abusing students is a crime and should be. When an older male teacher sexually assaults a younger female student, he’s considered a pervert. When an older (usually good-looking) female teacher sexually assaults a younger male student, we make jokes that the kid’s lucky.
Morality isn’t so much a line, but a matrix.
UPDATE: All of Kevin Spacey’s scenes will be re-shot. The movie release of “All the Money in the World” was pushed back to a December 22nd release date. READ MORE HERE
The tragic killings in Central Texas this past weekend have sparked yet another round of tireless debates about gun laws and mental health issues.
While these are debates worth having, they don’t fully address a national epidemic worsened by the distorted scales of criminal justice in America when it comes to animal cruelty. Turns out, abusing animals (often family pets) is among the most troubling indications of serious trouble to come later in life. And — we don’t take this issue nearly as seriously as we should.
The deranged Texas gunman wasn’t just a military reject, a mental patient, and wife beater. He was also a viciously cruel man who was charged with animal abuse. In 2014, the mass murderer was cited for animal cruelty after neighbors told police he viciously punched his dog outside his trailer home in El Paso. Court records show the case was dismissed after he paid a small fine.
A small fine.
So punching a defenseless animal in the face so brutally that witnesses living in a trailer park felt compelled to call the local police gets taken about as seriously as a parking citation.
Most animal abusers aren’t caught. Most aren’t charged with criminal offenses. The vast majority of animal abuse goes unreported. And most people who abuse animals don’t do it just one time. They are habitual offenders, mindlessly cruel sadists who do awful things to animals for some sick perverted satisfaction, even joy.
There’s a terribly disturbing pattern linking animal abuse in childhood (and sometimes later on, even as adults) to the monstrous acts they commit which brings them into the public consciousness. Consider the most high-profile killers in history, most of whom have tortured animals, and then gone on to commit viciously wicked crimes:
Albert DeSalvo, a.k.a. “The Boston Stranger” murdered 13 women. As a child, he trapped dogs and cats in boxes and would then shoot arrows at them.
David Berkowitz, a.k.a. “Son of Sam” murdered at least six people. Before he began his mass killing spree, he shot his neighbor’s dog.
Brenda Spencer shot a gun into a crowd of children. Eleven were hit by bullets and two died. During her childhood, Spencer liked to light the tails of stray cats and dogs on fire. Not as many women commit these horrendous acts. Most childhood animal abusers tend to be men.
Jeffrey Dahmer was a sexual sadist who murdered 17 young men. As a kid, his hobby was to kill neighbor’s pets. He even impaled a dog’s head on a stick, which he proudly displayed.
Ted Bundy killed 40 people. He learned cruelty early in life, often watching as his father tortured small animals. As a teenager, Bundy later did the same acts to animals, and eventually people as an adult.
Edmund Emil Kemper murdered eight women (including his mother) during the 1970s. As a child, he found cats around the neighborhood, killed them, and then displayed their heads on poles. He even killed his own cat and sliced it into pieces.
Andrew Cunanan murdered five people, including fashion icon Gianni Versace. As a kid, he often went to beaches and tortured crabs by gouging out their eyes.
Lee Boyd Malvo was the impressionable teenager in a duo of snipers who terrorized the Washington, DC area during the early 2000s. As a child, he used to torture small animals.
Dennis Rader, who would become the infamous “BTK Killer,” discovered a grotesque thrill as a kid when started binding, torturing, and killing animals. He cruelly experimented on several types of animals, even going so far as to prolong their lives during torture sessions so they would experience more pain.
Now, add the name Devin Kelly to this list, who murdered 26 people on Sunday.
It’s excruciating for me to point out this short list is by no means complete, nor is it comprehensive. Indeed, there are innumerable cases — thousands, hundreds of thousands — of kids who torture animals who later go on to commit even worse crimes as adults when empowered with greater means and opportunity to inflict more pain and destruction upon innocents.
So, what is to be done? And, how do we stop this?
I don’t have all the answers, but this is a question we should be asking. While gun debates and how we administer mental health treatment is a vital issue right now, so to must be animal rights and mindless cruelty.
A good start might be each of us taking an interest in what we observe. Neighborhood kids throwing rocks at ducks might not seem like such a big deal. Chasing defenseless animals seems innocent enough. Shooting a pellet gun at birds isn’t illegal. But engaging in these inexplicable childish acts not only exhibits a complete lack of empathy for other creatures. These common acts of adolescent violence often become an early foundation for horrors to come later. They are an affirmation that is okay to amuse oneself at the expense of animals. It’s fucking sick.
We need more teaching. We need more respect for animals and the environment. We need to instill goodness in the hearts and minds of children. We need more counseling. We need greater access to mental health professionals. We need more severe punishment for those who harm animals.
Not small fines.
It’s time to take animal cruelty much more seriously. Too often, it’s the secret and silent beast within which incubates for years and later mutates into mass murder.
I read recently the Pontiac Silverdome soon will be demolished. The Silverdome was the old home of the Detroit Lions. Not many fans will lose sleep over this. The Silverdome wasn’t among the shrines to NFL greatness.
[Here are some interesting images of what the crumbling Pontiac Silverdome looks like today]
This news got me to thinking about the old NFL stadiums I’ve visited. So, I compiled a list, noting football stadiums that made the greatest impression on me. For purposes of discussion, I’ll apply this list to NFL stadiums only.
A drum roll please……the most impressive now-bygone stadiums were…..
(1) Tulane Stadium (New Orleans) — Home of the Saints from 1967-1974. Check out the photo above, which shows old Tulane Stadium in New Orleans. I visited and paid my respects to it just before they tore it down sometime in the early 1980s. The coolest thing about Tulane Stadium was that it was very much PART OF THE CITY. Now, many stadiums are buried somewhere in suburbia and surrounded by parking lots and malls. But Tulane Stadium was tucked into an urban neighborhood and was right on campus. Of course, this created a traffic nightmare on game day. But few stadiums could match the energy of the old Tulane Stadium crowds which are part of New Orleans folklore. In the photo, notice how close the houses are to the stadium. Also, no corporate skyboxes for the fraud fans. No stadium would ever be built like this today. This was a real old-style football stadium for real fans.
(2) Orange Bowl (Miami) — Home of the Dolphins from 1968 to early 2000’s. About ten years ago, just before it was demolished, I visited Miami. Yeah, I did the beaches and touristy stuff, and all that. But for me, the place where I had the most memories of Miami was watching games on TV for 30 years from — the Orange Bowl. Remember those swaying palm trees in the end zone? Unfortunately, the former shrine to football history was crumbling badly by the time I saw her in her final days. I snuck inside and sat on the 50-yard-line gazing into an empty stadium. It was like peering into the Grand Canyon. Almost spiritual. All the memories of those great games came back to me. Like Tulane Stadium, the Orange Bowl was once wedged into an old neighborhood. Parking was non-existent. This didn’t dampen attendance or the crowds who always turned out for Dolphins’ games. After leaving the Orange Bowl, Miami hasn’t been a great team since — pro or college.
(3) Yankee Stadium (New York) — Home of NY Giants for many decades. I’ve never liked the Yankees or New York sports teams, but still one had to respect the tradition of this great ballpark. I attended a baseball game there once around 2005. The experience was a surprise. I was astounded at how bad the sight lines were to the field (I sat 20 rows up behind first base — great seats…..they were terrible!). I walked all over the stadium (I had no interest in the ballgame, I just wanted to see the stadium) and couldn’t believe how bad the seating was for spectators. The upper deck was so steep I’m shocked dozens of fans didn’t stumble on the steps and tumbled over the rail to their deaths. Seriously, Yankee Stadium was a hellhole. Great history (NY Giants played there through 1972). But a bad place to watch a game, especially a football game. Yeah, the backdrop looks majestic on TV, but you can’t see anything across the field. One plus was riding the subway to the game. Personal bias: I like stadiums connected easily by mass transit. Makes the list solely because of great tradition.
(4) RFK Stadium (Washington) — Home of Washington Redskins 1961-1996). I saw many games at old DC Stadium (later renamed RFK) when I lived there, which is now falling apart and an embarrassment. It probably won’t be around much longer given there’s no future. Former Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke’s body should be dug up and burned for the gargantuan mistake he made 25 years ago — building that shithole stadium out in the middle of suburban Maryland where there’s nothing around except one of the busiest interstates in the country. RFK should have been renovated and expanded because it’s perfectly positioned in the nation’s capital. Look straight ahead from the ariel view and you see the US Capitol, the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial connected to RFK Stadium. It’s like the forefathers knew how beloved the Redskins would be to this city and so it was given a perfect location. Great place to watch a game, incredible energy. Redskins haven’t been the same since leaving the District and RFK. Burn Jack Kent Cooke’sbody again, over and over. Make him suffer.
(5) Three Rivers Stadium (Pittsburgh) — Home of Pittsburgh Steelers 1971-2001. One of the real highlights of my life as a sports fan was walking across the field once of the old home of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I stop and worshipped the part of the field where Franco Harris caught was was probably an illegal pass in the most incredible ending to any football game ever, which I watched on TV back in 1972. Very intimidating arena, where everything around the field seems swallowed up inside a bowl when you’re down on the field. Not the largest stadium ever built (it only held 50,000), but great home-field advantage and a great football city. Yes, the new stadium is just as good, perhaps even more so. Smart Steelers ownership knocked down the old stadium, expanded it by 25,000 seats, and ripped out the shit fake turf in favor to real natural grass. Smart. Anyway, Three Rivers Stadium was something special.
Also worth mentioning…..
Shea Stadium (New York) — NY Jets and NY Giants for one season. Redux on the New York sports teams thing, but hey The Beatles played two concerts here, the first-ever mass stadium rock shows. Shea was the home of the Jets for many years was visually spectacular. It looked like a tidal wave with those giant decks around the baselines and yet the outfield was completely open looking out onto….not the NYC skyline which might have been astounding….but nothing. I walked across the field at Shea Stadium and admit I had chills. And it wasn’t because of the wind. Visually spectacular. Seems like every Jets game there was played in swirling dust, which only added to the mystic.
Cotton Bowl (Dallas) — Dallas Cowboys and Kansas City Chiefs former home. I’m biased, of course, but far too many great memories of Fair Park in East Dallas and those blue and white seats where I witnessed so many great football games — from the bowl games, to SMU home games, to the Texans (way before my time), to the Cowboys, to some great rock concerts. The Cowboys played at the Cotton Bowl in the 1960’s and it’s where I attended my first pro football game ever, the 1970 playoff game won by Dallas over Detroit by the most unusual football score — 5-0.
Wrigley Field (Chicago) — Chicago Bears home field for many years. I only walked around Wrigley Field once from the outside, but this place was truly amazing. It’s tiny. Takes up just one city block. Impossible to imagine the Bears played here for several seasons. Magical.
Memorial Stadium (Baltimore) — Baltimore Colts home stadium 1950’s-1985. Saw one Orioles game here way back in 1986, was amazed how great the seats were and how close one felt to the action. Very intimate setting on an old North Baltimore neighborhood.
San Diego Chargers Jack Murphy Stadium (San Diego) — Chargers’ home stadium from mid-1960’s through last season. Gorgeous location. Drove by many times, but never saw an actual game there.
Other (former) NFL stadiums I’ve visited that were (mostly) disappointing…..
Texas Stadium (Dallas) — Awful location, stupid design, way too corporate, hot as hell in the summer and freezing in the winter. Surrounded by highways.
Astrodome (Houston) — Domes are shit. Ahead of its time, but ushered in a terrible trend…fake grass and games played indoors. Football heresy.
Kingdome (Seattle) –– See above. Only saw it from the outside.
Anaheim Stadium (Los Angeles Rams) — Playing football inside a baseball stadium in suburbia…..everything that’s wrong with a stadium fits here. Drove by a few times while Angels were playing. Not impressed at all.
Candlestick Park (San Francisco) — Fascinating in a graveyard sense. I was awed by the location next to the bay, but once inside was shocked how bad this place appeared to be to watch a football game. Visited once during offseason when I snuck in, sometime around 1998. Stadium deserved to be renovated, not torn down. New 49ers stadium is horrific. Bring Candlestick back.
Veterans Stadium (Philadelphia) — Cookie cutter hellhole in a warehouse district. Horrible stadium and even worse fans. Besides, everybody in South Philly looks like Burt Young.
Giants Stadium (New Jersey) — Appalling location, no connection to the city, lack of mass transit, no hotels within walking distance, void of anything else that makes New York so interesting. Hideous sports arena that should never have been constructed on this location. Dumbest fake home field switch in history, changing the banners from Giants to Jets and back and forth, yet it was always called GIANTS Stadium. Attended on game here about 15 years ago, good tailgating though.
On to this week’s games: Now at the midway point of the regular season, I’m currently at 28 wins and 18 losses, which is about 61 percent winners. Read my comments about all of this week’s games below.
My betting angle crashed and burned last week, with two shitty losers. For those still following the “bet on all winless teams after Week #5” angle (produced 60 percent winners over the past 30 years), this season the trend is now at 5 wins and 6 losses for a net loss of 1.6 units (with vig). It’s very tough to bet on either of the two winless garbage teams right now. Fortunately, only one of them plays this week (San Francisco) which really puts faith to the test. Cleveland has an undeserved bye.
I’m departing from my usual habits this week, instead of betting dogs, I’m taking a number of popular public favorites. This is highly unusual as I generally prefer to fade public opinion and popular trends. However, there are some very attractive bargain numbers available, and I am taking advantage, hoping and expecting a return-to-the-mean correction of favorites doing better in several mismatches.
Here are my thoughts and wagers on all the games this week. So, far, I’ve made 4 plays. I also have some strong leans in the later games:
Indianapolis at Houston
Lots of trends point to an OVER here, but nearly all are connected to these two teams when they had much better quarterbacking. This game features IND without QB Luck (out for the season) and HOU now having to dust off the dreadful QB Tom Savage, who was so bad in his season opener debut they yanked him at halftime. Now, Savage (who constantly disappointed at Pitt) gets called in off the bench again. His confidence must be in shreds. No way HOU puts the game in his hands. So, watch HOU run the ball 40-45 times in this game and chew up lots of clock. Prior to injury, HOU had become an OVER team with new star Deshaun Watson and I wouldn’t have bucked that trend if he was healthy and starting. But Savage taking snaps for HOU combined with IND scoring only about 20 PPG (despite playing some horrific defenses), tells me this game should fall under the posted total of 46.5. Note that total opened at 48. I caught a 47.5 and bet it right then. However, the late line is now 46.5 and could fall as low as 45.5 by game time. Reason number is high is the misleading trend, combined with a correct assessment of IND defense as perhaps the NFL’s worst unit. HOU defense also not the same with All-Pro Watt out for year. But still no way either team explodes for points in this game. So, let’s look for a sloppy 23-17 kind of game and get the money with a play on the UNDER.
Denver at Philadelphia
As a contrarian, I would normally be looking at DEN getting the points (+7 to+7.5 depending on where you shop). Trouble is, DEN seems like they should be getting closer to +9 here. DEN offense has completely collapsed the last five weeks, producing awful numbers. Lost at both QB and RB, DEN has now lost three straight games by double digits. Now, DEN goes on road for a second straight week to East Coast for an early start off a shortened week. DEN is not the type team that flips a switch and suddenly gets good. The head coach might not be up to caliber, the offensive coordinator is having issues, QB is about to be benched, and all the WR talent is being wasted. Meanwhile, PHI arguably the best team in the NFL right now. I might be wary of the home team letdown, but if that was going to occur it would have happened last week I think, versus soft SFO team off the short week. PHI at home three straight weeks, offense into perfect rhythm, defense improving, confidence at high. Hard to see how DEN comes into PHI with all their problems and upsets a team which looks to be getting better with each game. DEN winless on the road this season at 0-3 — losers by 10, 10, and 21. Now, they’re play AT NFL’s top team? I’m not laying more than a TD (just my rule). But I will gladly tease this down across the Wong numbers and lay the more than reasonable -1 (would also lay the -1.5). PHI should continue to roll here against an offense that can’t move the ball and could be on the verge of a major overhaul. Playing PHI as the hub on two TEASERS. LATE UPDATE: Brock Osweiler starting at QB for DEN, making his first start since last season when he stank things up in HOU. I see no reason to back off the wager based on this news.
Tampa Bay at New Orleans
Another play which is public in nature and anti-contrarian. NOR at home second straight week, which bodes well for preparedness. TB are losers of four straight, and playing a horrible string of games as this is the Bucs’ third road game in 4 weeks, (and they’re about to play 3 more road games out of 4 after this game). TB defense gave up lots of yards and points last few weeks, and a trip to New Orleans isn’t usually the spot for defensive improvements. They also lost their best corner to injury for this game. I really like NOR here since they played a subpar game last week at home (and know it). Big step down now facing TB soft defense. Teasing from -7 down to -1 with the hometown favorites seems the way to go.
Washington at Seattle
SEA is quietly coming together at just the right time, winning four straight after a sluggish start. A perfect 3-0 home mark this season, and now playing a second straight in SEA bodes well for team that gets to face a WASH team which is struggling badly. Biggest reason to bet against WASH this week is their injury situation, which is a disaster. WASH could be missing three offensive line starters. Also, playing a second straight road game in a very difficult place to win for opposing team mandates a play on the favorites getting teased from -7 down to -1. SEA offense looking better each week, while WASH defense looks to be getting worse — surrendering 29, 24, 34, and 33 points it’s last four games. I think I read Steve Fezzik say he predicts a SEA-NWE Super Bowl based on great organizations and their ability to overcome challenges. This got me to thinking how SEA is now under the radar while other teams are getting more love. Rare opportunity to get nice value with SEA at home. Combined with PHI, this looks to be the best teaser of the season.
Cincinnati at Jacksonville
Total at 38.5 seems low. Down from opener at 39.5. I realize JAX defense is showing vast improvement (4 opponents held to single digits this season). But this is a game where CIN may have to do something drastic to try and salvage the season. Practically a must win for them, so I look for the added aggressiveness to lead to points in a game with one of the lowest totals of the week.
THIS WEEK’S PLAYS:
Cincinnati / Jacksonville OVER 38.5 (Risking $220 to win $200)
Indianapolis /Houston UNDER 46.5 (Risking $220 to win $200)
Teaser: Philadelphia -1 / Seattle -1 (Risking $550 to win $500)
Teaser: Philadelphia -1 / New Orleans -1 (Risking $330 to win $300)
THOUGHTS ON OTHER GAMES:
LAR playing at NYG and line has moved from road team favored by -3.5 to -4.5. This would normally cause me to play the home dog. However, NYG might not be able to stop the LAR here, which struggle versus stronger teams but roll against overmatched opponents (coming off a 33-0 win two weeks ago — last week was a bye). Probably LAR were the play at -3.5. But I won’t lay that and certainly won’t face a one point line move across a key number (4).
CIN at JAX has me looking Bengals plus the points. Line all the way to up +6. JAX inconsistent, but plays as well as any team in the NFL when they are having an “on” week. This could be such a week so I will pass. I did bet the game over based on fading a small total move across a key number — 38.
ATL plays at CAR. Panthers just too darn hard to figure out to place a wager. ATL may be coming together….real test coming when they play games vs. NOR. But ATL offense still wobbly. These teams are both playoff contenders but are also loaded with problems. Line at ATL -2 gives us slight value to the home dog. But not enough for me to make a play. It’s CAR plus the points, or tease CAR here, or nothing. I’ll pass on this one.
I’ve made a vow to boycott betting on BALT games and I see no reason to break it this week where they are getting a FG at TENN. I might consider the Titans since line dropped dropped two points, but why roll dice on these two teams when there are better plays on the board? No action.
ARZ which is awful is playing SFO this week, which might be worse. I would continue with the BET THE WINLESS TEAMS ANGLE in this spot, but I didn’t like the QB trade (betting wise) as it disrupts the 49ers’ offense and make this impossible to predict. Probably SFO is the play if you have to wager, especially getting points at home versus a team that stinks. But way too many intangibles here to predict what will happen. Especially difficult to say how SFO offense will fare knowing that recent QB acquisition (Garoppolo) will NOT play this week, leaving the lame duck -non-confidence starter in the game to suck it up. The UNDER would be tempting, but total lined at just the wrong side of 40 (now 39) makes me pass. I love trash games, so I may actually watch this.
KC plays at DAL which looks to be the best game of the week for fans. For bettors, I don’t see much that compels me. Both teams coming off very strong performances. Wish I could get KC plus a FG, but lined at +2 to +2.5, that is not enough to pull the trigger. Total looks a bit high at 53, so UNDER could be worth a look.
OAK is likely the play at MIA but now line is up to a FG for the road faves. Not sure OAK deserves this kind of respect with the season they are having. Plus, MIA defense has played stellar aside from the Thurs blowout at BAL. Otherwise, MIA defense merits some respect. Cutler at QB again this week for MIA is a gift for the opponent. Could be a tempting UNDER at 45. Will make a gametime decision, but a pass for now.
DET at GB….what an interesting matchup, especially since DET is in the rare spot of being favored on the road in a place they have played poorly for decades. GB is beyond a mess at the moment. Not just the QB position, the Packers defense has gone on hiatus. DET would be the obvious play here, but they struggled so badly in the red zone last week at home (five trips inside the 10-yard line and NO TDs!) this causes me to lay off the game. Also, I just don’t like laying points on the road in divisional matchups — often a losing proposition. Another UNDER worth considering, given how solid DET pass defense is playing right now combined with GB’s total inability to produce points with the inexperience garbage starter. Another game-time decision, and a sure bet if this total moved from 43.5 to 44 (already moved a half point).
Good luck to all.
NOTE: Check back for updates and possible added plays.