The ramblings of an Eternal Student of Life     
. . . still studying and learning how to live
Saturday, November 26, 2016
Art & Entertainment ... Politics ...

Way back in 2004, I posted a somewhat tongue-in-cheek blog note about my infatuation with PBS newscaster Gwen Ifill. My note was a bit silly, but I really did admire Ms. Ifill and her highly-professional journalistic work, after watching her many times on PBS. She later showed up as a moderator at some of the big political debates, including the 2008 vice-presidential debate (Joe Biden versus Sarah Palin) and one of the 2016 Democratic candidate debates (Hillary Clinton versus Bernie Sanders . . . ah, that was only a few months ago, but now it seems worlds away). And she seemed just fine this past summer covering the Democratic and GOP conventions, being fair and yet insightful as usual. So I was quite saddened to hear that Ms. Ifill passed away earlier this month (Nov. 14) after battling cancer since late 2015.

To be honest, I have not watched the PBS Newshour for several years years now, nor did I stay up with Ms. Ifill’s other show, “Washington Week”. But I did hear or see occasional references to her via radio or web-based news sources (my primary sources of news these days; I don’t look at print newspapers nor watch much TV anymore). And I did see her on PBS during the convention — same Gwen Ifill that I had so admired in the past. I now read that Ms. Ifill stayed “in the drivers seat” on these shows up thru the last full month of her life (October), despite going through chemotherapy and losing her strength. Looks like she was still Tweeting away thru October 28.

Gwen Ifill was one of the few that was given a chance at the big time in media, and she responded by putting her whole life into what she did. The quality of what Ms. Ifill gave to the public through her career was entirely apparent. Of course, David Brooks beat me to that idea  »  continue reading …

◊   posted by Jim G @ 11:13 pm       Read Comment (1) / Leave a Comment
Saturday, November 19, 2016
Art & Entertainment ... Religion ...

I haven’t been posting much lately because of some personal stuff, including various on-going discussions with several thoughtful people regarding the surprise election victory earlier this month of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States. I’ll no doubt have a lot to say about that before long, but for now, I’m going to avoid the amateur punditry and leave it to the professionals. Albeit, I think that every concerned American citizen ultimately has to become their own pundit and take a position on the major issues of the day.

But right now, I’m going to ponder a new rock song that I’ve been hearing lately on the local hard rock radio station (WDHA-FM). It’s called “Prayers for the Damned” by Sixx AM, from their recently released album “Prayers for the Damned”. Sixx AM did a bit of a double-play with regard to naming there, although not quite a triple play like Bad Company’s Bad Company, from the album Bad Company. Political footnote — “Prayers for the Damned” might not be a bad theme right now for those who dread the idea of a Trump Presidency!

Nonetheless, for those of you who still follow hard rock, Sixx AM is a side-project band formed in 2007 by Nikki Sixx, the former base guitarist and songwriter for Motley Crue. Ah yes, “the Crue”. Now there was a rough-edged band, all about all the excesses and depravity of the rock-n-roll scene back when rock was still the king of the music scene. They were kind-of a Neanderthal version of Kiss. Sixx provided or contributed to some of the Crue’s more memorable tunes, including “Girls Girls Girls”,”Doctor Feelgood”, “Wild Side”, and “Slice of Your Pie”.

Like a fair number of rock stars, Nikki Sixx got hooked on heroin but somehow kept going via raw ego, youthful energy, and luck. But now Motley Crue is gone and Sixx is 58 years old, and rock life from the “big-hair” 1980’s just doesn’t work anymore. A lot of old rockers clean up, slow down, fade away from the public eye, do some occasional music projects mostly for fun, maybe write a book or buy a winery, and make an occasional appearance before a small audience of aging people who remember a band from its glory years. Well, give Sixx credit — his current work is still  »  continue reading …

◊   posted by Jim G @ 11:26 pm       Read Comment (1) / Leave a Comment
Tuesday, November 8, 2016
Art & Entertainment ... Economics/Business ... Society ...

Today is the big day for American politics, the Presidential Election. There will be thousands if not millions of articles written over the next 48 hours about it. I will probably chip in my 2 cents at some point. But for now, in the early afternoon calm before the evening storm when the results start coming in, I’m going to zoom back a week or two and think about the World Series.

As you probably know, the 2016 World Series was quite dramatic, pitting two Cinderella teams that haven’t won a World Series for a long time; since 1948 for the American League Cleveland Indians, and since 1908 for the National League Chicago Cubs. Cleveland jumped off to a 3 win / 1 loss start, and it looked like the Series could finish up in game 5, surely by game 6. But no, the Cubs clawed their way back to an exciting extra-inning win in game 7.

After the fourth game, my friend Mary wrote to me with her theory that the Cubs would come back and the Series would go thru to a game 7. This no doubt reflected her faith in the Cubs, given that Mary is a life-long Chicago-lander. But Mary also thought that the financial powers behind Big Baseball would encourage teams to play as many World Series games as possible, to avoid 4 or 5 game routs so as to maximize the profits from tickets, media revenues, and memorabilia sales. Well, obviously her forecast that the Cubs would force a 7th game was on the money. But what about the overall theory that the World Series games are rigged  »  continue reading …

◊   posted by Jim G @ 12:28 pm       Read Comment (1) / Leave a Comment
Thursday, November 3, 2016
Politics ... Society ...

Being a nobody political junkie, I’ve been following the presidential polls and campaigns, and as we get down to the last few days I’ve been totally devoting my attention to this. After the Oct 8 release by the Washington Post of the Access Hollywood Trump conversation with Billy Bush regarding Trump’s ongoing sexual exploitation of women, Ms. Clinton’s lead in the polls rapidly climbed, reaching a peak of 7 points over Trump on Oct. 19 according to Real Clear Politics. The equally prestigious FiveThirtyEight web site poll averages gave Clinton a 6.6% advantage on October 20. After that, however, the race started to tighten (even before the infamous October 29 letter to Congress from FBI Director James Comey about continuing investigations of e-mails related to Ms. Clinton’s use of a personal server for all of her State Department business while Secretary of State). This tightening trend indicates that support levels for Ms. Clinton have leveled off, while Trump has picked up uncommitted and third-party voters to increase his voting base (as support for the most significant 3rd party candidate, Gary Johnson of the Liberation Party, slips away). As of tonight, Clinton still maintains a 2.0% lead at Real Clear Politics, and a 2.9% advantage on Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight site. (The Huffington Post poll analysis blithely reports a 5.5% lead for Clinton, although that’s down a bit from 7.5% on October 9 . . . talk about seeing what you want to see!).

[SIDENOTE: I find it a bit ironic that Clinton thought that her attacking a man for his sexual crudities could end his Presidential prospects . . . I mean, her husband Bill lowered the bar with his shenanigans before and while President, and Ms Clinton then helped to defend him and keep him from being disqualified from national leadership. And now Ms. Clinton has to live the consequences.]

Unfortunately, some of the recent polls from Ms. Clinton’s Electoral College “firewall” states have also shown movement towards Trump also, especially in Ohio, Florida, Iowa and Nevada. The latest polls in the critical states of North Carolina and Colorado seem all over the place, but two recent polls from New Hampshire are a bit disheartening for Clinton supporters, showing Trump with a small lead (up to this point, New Hampshire seemed fairly secure for Clinton). Michigan and Wisconsin polls still mostly favor Clinton, but some Trump outliers are now being seen. And the early voting reports hinting that African American turnout may significantly decline from 2008 and 2012 levels weaken Clinton’s prospects in those two states, especially Michigan. Just two weeks ago, the betting odds and the odds shown on the FiveThirtyEight site gave Clinton an 80+ percent chance of winning. As of tonight, that’s back to about 66%. Not too much better than 50-50. Is this Trump’s last hurrah, or are a lot of angry or otherwise unsatisfied American voters really going to pull the lever or push the button for Trump?

I’ve always had faith in the American electorate. It seemed to me that the great majority of people who take the time and trouble to vote do it very responsibly. They diligently think through the choice and  »  continue reading …

◊   posted by Jim G @ 9:35 pm       No Comments Yet / Leave a Comment
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