Monthly Archives: December 2013

2014 Dead Pool

Link to 2013 Dead Pool

Link to 2012 Dead Pool

Link to 2011 Dead Pool

There are two "dead pool" lists.  One is just a random list of people who I think will pass in the upcoming year. The other is a competitive list where you pick ten (and only ten) people-to-die, and you score your points by subtracting their age-at-death from 100.  For example, Amy Winehouse was in my 2011 Dead Pool list, and she indeed did die that year.  Since she was 27, I received 73 points (100 minus 27).

So, let's see how I did with my 2013 Dead Pool(s).

First, the generic list of people I thought might die:

  • Zsa-Zsa Gabor – still alive
  • Olivia de Havilland - still alive
  • Billy Graham – still alive
  • Eli Wallach – still alive
  • Stan Musial – died 1/19/2013
  • Norman Lear – still alive
  • Jean Stapleton – died 5/31/2013
  • Yogi Berra - still alive
  • Lauren Becall - still alive
  • Mickey Rooney - still alive
  • Fidel Castro - still alive
  • Pete Seeger - still alive
  • Nanette Fabray - still alive
  • Sid Caesar - still alive
  • Rose Marie - still alive

Not very impressive.  And even worse for my 2013 Competitive Dead Pool list:

  1. Eli Wallach (born 12/07/1915)
  2. Zsa Zsa Gabor (born 2/06/1917)
  3. Billy Graham (born 11/7/1918)
  4. George Bush (born 6/12/1924)
  5. Margaret Thatcher (born 10/13/1925)
  6. Fidel Castro (born 8/13/1926)
  7. John McLaughlin (born 3/29/1927)
  8. James Garner (born 4/7/1928)
  9. Dick Cheney (born 1/30/1941)
  10. Stephen Hawking (born 1/8/1942)

The only one on that list who actually died was Margaret Thatcher.  She died on 4/08/2013, maker her 87.  Which means this year I scored a total of 13 points.  That's terrible.

2012 points:  38
2011 points:  113

Let's see if I can do better.  For my 2014 general list, I'm just going to keep what I had, minus a couple of names:

  • Zsa-Zsa Gabor
  • Olivia de Havilland
  • Billy Graham
  • Eli Wallach
  • Norman Lear
  • Yogi Berra
  • Lauren Becall
  • Mickey Rooney
  • Fidel Castro
  • Pete Seeger
  • Nanette Fabray
  • Sid Caesar
  • Rose Marie
  • Don Pardo
  • June Lockhart

And as for my competitive list, I'm not going to tweak it much, and not going to go too young:

  1. Eli Wallach (born 12/07/1915)
  2. Zsa Zsa Gabor (born 2/06/1917)
  3. Billy Graham (born 11/7/1918)
  4. Abe Vigoda (born 2/24/1921)
  5. Bob Barker (born 12/12/1923)
  6. George Bush (born 6/12/1924)
  7. Fidel Castro (born 8/13/1926)
  8. John McLaughlin (born 3/29/1927)
  9. James Garner (born 4/7/1928)
  10. Valerie Harper (born 8/22/1940)

Megyn vs. Jon: What Color Is Santa?

Santa Claus is not real, so he can be any color anybody wants him to be.

But this didn't sit well with Fox News Megyn Kelly:



After the controversy came to a boil, Kelly tried to dismiss her attitude in the segment:

"In kicking off the light-hearted segment, I offered a tongue-in-cheek message for any kids watching, saying that Santa — who I joked was a real person whose race was identifiable — is white," Kelly said. "Humor is a part of what we try to bring to this show, but sometimes, that is lost on the humorless." She then lambasted her critics for failing to get the joke.

No, you weren't.  You were totally serious, Kelly.

When a child says terrible racist things, and then says "I was only kidding", it's reprehensible.  But coming from someone who claims to be a "news journalist"?

There are no words.

Homeland Season 3 Finale Review

Well, it took a few episodes, but Season Three finally came together.  As I had written before, Season One, which got rave reviews, was exciting and unpredictable because of Brody, played by Damien Lewis.  You never knew whose side he was on; the conflict between him and his family and his loyalties drove every episode.

The problem, of course, was once you realized that Brody was a bad guy (even if he was brainwashed by his captors, even if Carrie did love him), it was hard to root for him.  No, he was not the Langley bomber, but he did try to assassinate the Vice President.  You just can't let him live for that.

Season Three (eventually) became about Brody's redemption, as he worked with Carrie and Saul to change the course of history.  How by removing a militant leader in Iran, so that another Iranian leader (one that the CIA had co-opted) could become the most powerful man in Iran.  It was Saul's idea, and in the end, it worked.

The problem, of course, was Brody.  He had attempted to assassinate the Vice President of the United States, he successfully assassinated the seond most powerful Iranian politician, and he was thought (incorrectly) to have been the CIA bomber, killing 136 people.  Where does a man like that go, not only in the series' storyline, but also for the writers?

It was only fit, therefore, that Brody be hung out to dry, literally.  The president and the new CIA director (played by the great writer Tracy Letts ["Bug", "August:Osage County"]) both agreed that Iran must be allowed to execute the captured Brody, and, in an excruciating scene, he was unceremoniously hung from a crane in a Tehran street, as Carrie watched from the crwod.

A sad ending for Brody fans, but GREAT for the show.  We can now finally leave the Brody plotline (which really needed to happen in Season Two), and Season 4 will open with a world of possibilities.  Will Carrie, who we last see as eight months pregnant, really give her baby to her sister and head up the Turkey CIA office?  Is Saul really retired?  What about Quinn?

The charactors remain interesting.  And now, with Brody (and that silly love subplot) out of the way, the show can really return to its routes — intrigue and political thriller.

Dumbest Comparison Ever

On Mandela:

“He was fighting against some great injustice, and I would make the argument that we have a great injustice going on right now in this country with an ever-increasing size of government that is taking over and controlling people’s lives — and Obamacare is front and center in that."

Folks, if you try to compare affordable health care to apartheid, you've already lost

RIP Nelson Mandela

This is one of those passings when all the superlatives coming out of the radios and TV and on the Intertubes are fitting.  Not only did Nelson Mandela live an incredible life (although 27 years of it were in prison), but he touched literally billions.  I was one of them.  In my college years, there were two political issues which rocked the campuses — in the early 1980's, it was nuclear proliferation.  In the mid-1980's, it was Mandela's cause: apartheid.

As leader of the African National Congress, Mandela himself had been languishing away in prison since 1964.  His cause was taken to the United States in the ealry 1970s.  Few paid attention.  Then, slowly, some did.  In the late 70's and early 80's, certain municipalities in California made sure they none of their pension plan money was invested in businesses that did business in South Africa.  The idea took on.  In San Francisco, dock workers — most of whom most assuredly had no relatives or connection to South Africa — refused to unload cargo from ships that came from South Africa.

By the mid-1980s, andti-apartheid was everywhere.  Campuses erupted in protest — not like you saw in the 1960s, but protest nonetheless, as students urged (successfully) that their schools divest in South African businesses.  Musicians vowed not to play Sun City.


The idea was to let the white power minority in South Africa know that they would suffer as a result of their official policy of apartheid.

Reagan and the conservatives were, as usual, on the wrong side of history.  While giving lip service to evils of apartheid, Reagan steadfastly refused to impose sanctions against South Africa.  Mandela was a terrorist, Reagan would say (which was true, Mandela was on the terrorist list and the African National Congress was deemed a terrorist group).  But of course, Reagan's policies had a lot to do with who was on that list.

When Congress voted for sanctions against South Africa, Reagan vetoed the bill.  Then, for the first and only time in the 20th century, Congress overrode a veto on a matter relating to foreign policy, and sanctions were imposed.  South Africa's power brokers began to see the end.

Mandela wasn't released from prison until 1991, and became President of South Africa in 1994.  He will long be remembered for what he did as President — rather than seeking punishment or (some would say) justice against his former oppressors, including those who committed human rights violations against him, Mandela adopted a policy of forgiveness.  Anyone who confessed to their crimes given amnesty.  This helped heal South Africa after the end of apartheid.

Many in the media are comparing Mandela to Martin Luther King, Jr.  Inapt, I say.  Apartheid was segregation on steroids.  It is one thing to oppress a minoirty, as in segregation.  It is quite another for whites to suppress blacks when blacks outnumber whites 7-to-1.  That was apartheid.

Mandela served only one term as president.  After that, approaching his 80's, he was still active in fighting poverty and AIDS, and an advocate for children's education.

He died yesterday at the age of 95.  I think he was the last great leader for many centuries to come.  Presidents and other world leaders come and go, but I don't think any come close to the worldwide impact of Mandela.  He was Washington.  He was Chruchill.

Note: Lot of hypocrites out there right now eulogizing Mandela.  Let's not forget that the warbloggers and Tea Partiers (and their followers in the UK) were vilifying him when he criticized US policy under George W. Bush or said something on Palestine that deviated from the standard US-media line.

Our Gun Culture

What would you do if a confused man rang your doorbell and jiggled your front door handle at 4 AM? Would you conclude that, like Avon ladies, ruthless home invaders always warn potential victims by ringing the doorbell?

If you’re Joe Hendrix of Chickamauga, Georgia, you’d go outside to confront the menace and plug the old codger in the chest with your Glock:

He was 72. Alzheimer’s had erased much of his talent for music and flying airplanes.

No one is sure how, in the frigid hours before dawn last Wednesday in this small north Georgia community near the Tennessee border, Mr. Westbrook ended up nearly three miles from home with a handful of other people’s mail, jiggling Joe Hendrix’s doorknob.

Mr. Hendrix, 34, stepped onto his porch with a Glock pistol in his hand and his fiancée inside on the phone with a 911 dispatcher. He fired four shots. One hit Mr. Westbrook in the chest.

Second Amendment remedy! The cops aren’t sure whether Hendrix will be charged or not. That decision rests on how “reasonable” Hendrix’s actions are determined to be — whether or not he can legitimately claim he was in fear for his safety. Since he killed the only other participant in the encounter, Hendrix is now free to construct the narrative.

The sheriff, who knew the victim, did express regret that the shooter didn’t simply wait for the cops to get there. Deanne Westbrook said this of the man who killed her husband of more than 50 years:

“I understand the man who shot him is real upset, and I think he should be. He shot an innocent man. He should have stayed in the house like a normal person would.”

Well, that's kind of the point of having a gun.  It takes one out of the realm of being a reasonable normal person, and imbibes the gun holder with what he believes to be special powers and rights.  Look at George Zimmerman.

And people get killed.

Racism Ended With Rosa Parks Incident, Says GOP

This is nice …

Today we remember Rosa Parks’ bold stand and her role in ending racism.
— RNC (@GOP) December 1, 2013

Think Progress points out that the celebration of the end of racism may be a tad premature:

Some research contends that “racism cost the president more than five million votes in 2008 and 2012″ and a 2012 survey from the Associated Press found that “51 percent of Americans explicitly express anti-black prejudice, up from 48 percent in 2008.” The survey concluded that 79 percent of Republicans are likely to express outright racial prejudice, compared to 32 percent of Democrats.


Previous tweet should have read "Today we remember Rosa Parks' bold stand and her role in fighting to end racism."

— RNC (@GOP) December 1, 2013