Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Great Debate

Posted By on Thu, Aug 27, 2009 at 9:14 PM

Just finished watching the first Memphis mayoral debate on WMC. I still don't know whether to laugh or cry. The panelists and moderators did a great job, considering the mess o' candidates they had to deal with.

These are my personal opinions. Take them for what you will.

Lowlights: The utterly embarrassing performance of Sharon Webb, who appeared to be on heavy tranquilizers and unfit for any office; Prince Mongo's proposals to give every citizen an UZI, put comic books in the library, and "flush the political turds down the toilet"; Jerry Lawler's continuing insistance that he isn't a politician; Kenneth Whalum's weird suit, winks, refusal to speak of the incident at his church, and his comment that he "hates religion." Just weird.

Sharon Webb
  • Sharon Webb

Quick impressions:
Halbert appeared stiff, answers canned. Not at ease.
Chumney seemed flinty and tough, but not so likeable. Very blinky.
Carpenter: smart, well-spoken, but probably a non-entity in final shakeout.
Lowery: Seems a little prissy, but gave the most substantive answers IMO.
Wharton: better than "tapioca," did nothing to hurt himself as front-runner

If I were producing this reality show, Mongo and Webb would be kicked off the island before the next debate.

For some of the funniest comments you'll ever read, check out the Twitter debate thread.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Obama's Here! Grab Yer Guns, Boys!!!

Posted By on Tue, Aug 18, 2009 at 1:12 PM

From the Phoenix Business Journal:
There were men carrying guns outside the Phoenix Convention Center Monday morning during President Barack Obama’s visit, but no arrests were made, according to Phoenix Police.

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The Phoenix Police originally said three persons were spotted with guns in downtown Phoenix near Obama's appearance and later upped that count to 12. Police officials, who were expecting some armed demonstrators, said one man was carrying an assault rifle.

It is not illegal to carry guns openly in Arizona, but police kept close tabs on the men, said spokesman Andy Hill.

Where did these guys think there were? In a Tennessee bar? That's a joke, folks. But seriously, WTF would anyone think it appropriate or necessary to carry a gun while standing outside a venue where the president was speaking? I would truly welcome an explanation from someone who knows the answer.

I have a theory, but it's just conjecture: Gun permit-carriers are visibly carrying in hopes that someone in authority will try to disarm them. That way, they can promulgate the fantasy that "Obama is going to take our guns away." Just a guess. Either that, or it's meant as a statement of bad-assedness, as in, "I am so tough, I ain't skeered to carry a gun anywhere, even to a presidential appearance."

I dunno. I actually can't conceive of any real reason to pack heat near a presidential appearance. During Bush presidential appearances, some protesters were hustled off for wearing "offensive" T-shirts. Or they were herded into "protest zones", usually some distance from where the president actually spoke. In Memphis, for instance, demonstrators were even kept off the streets the presidential limousine used and forced to "demonstrate" several blocks away from the route. Ah, the heady days of "freedom" we enjoyed under the open and sensitive Bushies. Now Obama's peeps are letting armed — and no doubt antagonistic — protesters hang out without apparent weapons restrictions. Either Obama's braver than Bush, or he's being very foolhardy. Or both. How did we get to a place where people feel the need to bring an assault rifle into a crowd, any crowd? How sick are we that we even allow it to happen — anywhere? Don't tell me it's for "protection." A rifle? In a crowd? For protection? Give me a break. I fear for this country. I truly do. The nuts are in charge of the asylum.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Herenton in a, er, Nutshell?

Posted By on Sat, Aug 15, 2009 at 7:07 PM

A reader sent me the following definition. I leave it to you folks to decide if it's relevant. — BV

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Narcissistic personality disorder symptoms may include:

Believing that you're better than others
Fantasizing about power, success and attractiveness
Exaggerating your achievements or talents
Expecting constant praise and admiration
Believing that you're special
Failing to recognize other people's emotions and feelings
Expecting others to go along with your ideas and plans
Taking advantage of others
Expressing disdain for those you feel are inferior
Being jealous of others
Believing that others are jealous of you
Trouble keeping healthy relationships
Setting unrealistic goals
Being easily hurt and rejected
Having a fragile self-esteem
Appearing as tough-minded or unemotional

Although some features of narcissistic personality disorder may seem like having confidence or strong self-esteem, it's not the same. Narcissistic personality disorder crosses the border of healthy confidence and self-esteem into thinking so highly of yourself that you put yourself on a pedestal. In contrast, people who have healthy confidence and self-esteem don't value themselves more than they value others.
When you have narcissistic personality disorder, you may come across as conceited, boastful or pretentious. You often monopolize conversations. You may belittle or look down on people you perceive as inferior. You may have a sense of entitlement. And when you don't receive the special treatment to which you feel entitled, you may become very impatient or angry.

But underneath all this grandiosity often lies a very fragile self-esteem. You have trouble handling anything that may be perceived as criticism. You may have a sense of secret shame and humiliation. And in order to make yourself feel better, you may react with rage or contempt and efforts to belittle the other person to make yourself appear better.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Herenton: Just Another Wannabe Now

Posted By on Thu, Aug 13, 2009 at 3:26 PM

By picking up a petition to run for mayor in the October special mayoral election today, former Mayor Willie Herenton maintained his reputation among most sentient Memphians as an unpredictable loon. He further solidified that reputation by issuing a megalomaniacal statement that denounced Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery and announced that Herenton was preparing a referendum that would "allow the citizens of Memphis to rescind the current charter amendment that elevated Myron Lowery to the office of Mayor Pro Tem. This resolution would prescribe limitations on the powers of a non-elected mayor."

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So now Herenton wants ANOTHER election? To rescind a charter amendment??? When is THIS supposed to happen? You need signatures, lots of them, to get a referendum on the ballot. Then the Election Commission has to certify the signatures and, if there are enough valid ones, schedule a referendum election. Lowery has only another three months in office as Pro Tem mayor. Preparing a referendum to take his power away makes no fucking sense. Excuse my French.

But then again, nothing Herenton has done in the past few weeks has made any fucking sense. He's been caroming and bouncing like a pinball, making outrageous statements ("Steve Cohen is an asshole"), announcing one thing, then doing just the opposite. Resigning, not resigning, etc. etc. etc. He's floundering, lost, blustering and staggering like, well, a punch-drunk fighter that's taken one too many blows to his noggin.

Call me a crazy optimist, but I think Herenton may have finally stepped off the curb this time. I don't think he can win back the mayor's office. He doesn't look like a tough man of the streets anymore. He looks like an unstable nut, an ego-tripping old man with delusions of glory. He's the mayoral equivalent of George Foreman. He can jump back into the ring, but nobody's scared any more. Many of his former business allies have gone to County Mayor AC Wharton, never to return. And Wharton appears more and more to be the safe and stable candidate, one that middle-class and upscale whites and blacks will feel most comfortable with, and the kind of candidate people will look to to end the "drama." In fact, I ran into a couple of Wharton advisers at lunch the other day. When I asked them how things were looking, they both smiled big Cheshire grins and said, "The polling is very, VERY positive." Which is the political equivalent of saying "Our man's got this in the bag."

That was pre-Willie's reentry, of course, and you have to discount for some spin from Wharton advisers, but I don't think Herenton's voter base overlaps much with Wharton's. Sure, Willie will keep most of his core supporters (though I think Kenneth Whalum and Jerry Lawler will pick off some), but that core won't be enough to win. Carol Chumney and Lowery, in my mind anyway, are just fooling themselves. They pull from the same pool as Wharton and can only advance if Wharton does something scandalous or stupid. If anything, Herenton's reentry solidifies Wharton's chances. Herenton doesn't realize just how many "haters" he has, people who will do anything -- or vote for anybody -- to keep him out of City Hall. In the last mayoral election, the electorate was triangulated, with people literally waiting for the final polling before making a decision, trying to decide which candidate, Chumney or Herman Morris, had the best chance to unseat Herenton. There are too many variables, too many candidates, this time around. And Herenton's burned a lot more bridges.

I believe AC's sidemen: He's got it in the bag.

That's my armchair take, at any rate. For more professional and informed opinion, read Jackson Baker.

Can You Tell Me How to Get to ... Google Street?

Posted By on Thu, Aug 13, 2009 at 10:19 AM

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I love Google Street View, but I never really figured out how they did it — how you turn your cursor in any direction, even overhead, and still get a picture. Now I know: That nine-camera pod pictured here.

Today, I discovered a great website, where an artist named John Rafman has compiled Google Street images from around the globe. It's a fascinating collection, as much a social commentary as it is global voyeurism. Check it out here.

And to whet your interest, here are a few samples:

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Beach Politics

Posted By on Mon, Aug 10, 2009 at 2:02 PM

So I spent last week with my wife and 12-year-old stepson, Roman, vacationing in Grayton Beach, Florida. Rented a little house, three bikes, and a kayak, and turned off the outside world for seven days. Sort of.

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On the beach, as in many other places, people are creatures of habit. You find a spot on the first day — in our case, near the state park boundary — and you return to the same place each morning. So it was that I started noticing a cast of regulars. There was puka-boy and his girlfriend, a pair of leather-tanned teens who ambled past every morning, holding hands. The girl's parents occupied the umbrella settlement a few yards to the west of ours. Then there was pink-bikini-smoking-lady, who went through a pack of Marlboro Lights each day while tanning the the 97 percent of her flesh left exposed by her tiny, bright fuscia swimsuit. And there was the couple from Atlanta — let's call them Bill and Ginny. We even got semi-social with them, since they plopped down near us each day.

I met Bill when he asked about my fishing luck when I returned to the beach in the kayak one morning. "A few skipjack," I said. "No big ones." We chatted amiably. Yes, I'm from Memphis, I said. He said they were from Atlanta, etc. etc. The smallest of small-talk. Later, Bill came back after chatting with Roman in the surf. "I'm really impressed with Roman," he said. "What a bright kid." Thanks, we said. What a nice guy, we thought. We didn't have long conversations, but we shared pleasantries with Bill and Ginny off and on throughout the day.

On the third day, Bill and Ginny were joined by another couple from Atlanta. After saying hello and being introduced, my wife and I turned back to our novels. Then we listened, amazed, as our lovely beach-pals and their friends proceeded to turn into monsters. Well, not monsters, really, but right-wing whackjobs, at least. They discussed how Obama was born in Kenya and how the new healthcare plan will kill grandma and make them pay for healthcare for people who were too lazy to get a job. They enjoyed Sarah Palin's wit (seriously!) and thought Glen Beck was "telling it like it is." I should mention they were sitting to our right, but a lot farther in that direction than we thought, apparently.

But hey, we were on vacation. We stayed friendly with Bill and Ginny for the rest of the week, and had several more nice, chatty exchanges, and thankfully, politics never came up. I'm sure they would have been as shocked to learn our views as we were to learn theirs. But we didn't go there. Like I said, we were on vacation.

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