Friday, October 06, 2017

My Attic

Strangest place on Earth: my attic. I should be able to see where raccoon came in, but don’t, so I won’t go up here just yet.

Make Arrogant Bastards Naked and Vulnerable Again

Someone perusing my blog noted I have a pretty good picture of that Las Vegas music venue, with Mandalay Bay, the Luxor, and those fuel tanks all visible (photo taking off from McCarran Airport on Feb. 14, 2017).

I spent a lot of time at Mandalay Bay and vicinity, back in the day (2001 - 2009). Strangely, I’m not as affected by this shooting as others around me are, even though I’m familiar with the turf. Just another Sunday night in Vegas.

In its own way, Vegas is a heartless, brutal place. All cities have hearts, sometimes big, expansive hearts, but Vegas' heart always seemed to be a shrunken, smoldering lump of charcoal in the endless desert. It's the truest expression of the American spirit.

Paddock carefully planned this, and I’m curious about his motives and actions. He was looking for a target crowd, but cared not at all what their interests were. Country music; hip hop, alternative music, it was all the same to Paddock. That’s strange to me, but indicates his mindset. Music = emotions. Music Festivals caught his attention only because they are often larger than sporting matches or other sorts of events.

My suspicion is Stephen Paddock carried out this massacre as a challenge to himself, in order to defeat emotionality - to not let emotions deter him from experiencing the thrill of executing a master crime.

I’m intrigued by the lack of a political angle to Paddock. Mesquite, NV, is a hotbed of political intrigue, with Cliven Bundy and his crowd, and stranded between Mormon ways and Sin City, but Paddock apparently didn’t care. That hell was for others.

Paddock had spent his entire life trying to corral emotions; to master them. Paddock became a pilot, and that kind of training forces you to sublimate emotions. Successful gamblers too have to be dark, discriminating, dispassionate people, and Paddock certainly tried to be, but that road is hard. Gambling tricks you at every opportunity, with emotions hiding everywhere. Gambling makes you dishonest and sneaky. As Fyodor Dostoevsky noted in "The Gambler," if you could successfully purge emotions from gambling, you could win as much money as you please. That never happens, though.

We've seen this battle before in American culture. "Breaking Bad," for example, is a story about a rational man losing his bearings, and ends with use of an automatic machine gun.

Gambling became tedious to Paddock after a while. A master crime would suffice, though. He had to work alone because other conspirators are unreliable. His getaway planned failed only because he got caught up in the thrill.

Like Dostoevsky wrote: “No, it was not the money that I valued—what I wanted was to make all this mob of Heintzes, hotel proprietors, and fine ladies of Baden talk about me, recount my story, wonder at me, extol my doings, and worship my winnings.” Same with Paddock.

And now it's left to those other dark, dispassionate people, the politicos, to parry the damage. The GOP effort on bump stocks isn’t serious. Bump stocks are relatively easy to make. Outlawing bump stocks would be like outlawing sandals. If they were serious they’d outlaw the guns.

We have to go after the guns. Purge the emotions and go right after the guns. That's the only approach that people like Paddock will ever understand and will ever work. Experience the thrill of making arrogant bastards naked and vulnerable again.

More on Paddock.

"Imagine Dragons" Evolve Tour - Golden One Arena - October 4, 2017: Part 5 - The Venue, Golden One Arena

I've been in Golden One Arena several times since it opened a year ago, but I haven't looked around much. I'm intrigued by the place. These luxury suites. The fancy features. (Don't get me wrong, it was a mistake to build it when ARCO Arena had so much life left in it.)

"Imagine Dragons" Evolve Tour - Golden One Arena - October 4, 2017: Part 4 - The Teen Girls

I couldn't help but notice the teen girls. They came late, missing K. Flay, and had the seats right in front of me. Nevertheless, instead of sitting, they stood and danced the entire time. I had to move to empty seats nearby to see the show, but it was all copacetic up there in the nosebleed section - there were other empty seats. I was amused the girls knew a lot of Grouplove's songs, and sang the lyrics of "Tongue-tied" from memory - a song I had barely heard of before.

"Imagine Dragons" Evolve Tour - Golden One Arena - October 4, 2017: Part 3 - Imagine Dragons

Imagine Dragons - Real crowd pleasers!

The lead singer opened with an impassioned plea that the violence in Las Vegas must not stop music gatherings like this one from occurring. The band is from Las Vegas. The shootings really hurt.

I liked their subtle emphasis on science.

I was surprised the band had an 'unplugged' segment, featuring string instruments. I've never seen this before, in any rock concert. Imagine Dragons stopped playing midway in the concert and strolled to a smaller stage located on the floor opposite the main stage. Among several songs, they sang a tribute to the recently-deceased singer, Tom Petty, with his song "Won't Back Down" - the theme of the entire evening, actually.

I was here to see Tom Petty in this very Arena on September 1st - scarcely a month ago. You just never know....

When they finished, the band strolled back to the main stage to finish the evening.

Here's a video from the cheap seats at the October 4th concert at Sacramento's Golden One Arena. Imagine Dragons sing "It's Time". What a great anthem!

"Imagine Dragons" Evolve Tour - Golden One Arena - October 4, 2017: Part 2 - Grouplove

I got a good impression of Grouplove. Good band.

"Imagine Dragons" Evolve Tour - Golden One Arena - October 4, 2017: Part 1 - K. Flay

I've been a K. Flay fan for less than two months. I've never met anyone who is a K. Flay fan. Should I get a ticket for the concert featuring K. Flay opening for Grouplove and Imagine Dragons, when I don't know much about those two other groups? Do I like their music even? Especially when K. Flay won't get her share of attention?


I decided to go to the concert at the last conceivable instant - about an hour before the show. I knew I could get free parking where I used to work, but it meant a mile walk to get to Golden One Arena, and a mile walk to get back to my car. The cheapest seat in the Arena. Right up at the tippity top, on the side of the stage, where the stairs are so steep you may as well be a songbird on Everest.

K. Flay!

Does anyone here even know who she is? I got a T-Shirt. Spread the word.

Nothing gets me more excited than an excellent music video combined with Streamline Moderne and the American Southwest. Where was this filmed? I haven't been as excited by a pop song in a long time!

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Started Season 4 of "The Wire"

Murky Baltimore streets.

RIP, Tom Petty

He was here just a month ago.


Trouble in the Old Las Vegas Stomping Ground

I love that area. The venue was right in-between the Mandalay Bay and the Desert Rose Resort - places I've stayed - and right across the street from the Luxor. But not a happy night. Not at all.

Pilots usually have the most-even tempers. Something does not compute. I'm intrigued to hear of recent, heavy, gambling-related expenses on Stephen Paddock's part. It wouldn't surprise me if it all boils down to a serious losing streak.

The scale of the American gun problem is metastasizing, as clearly evident here. Slaughters are ramping up in scale.

A little glimmer of sense is beginning to penetrate.

Caleb Keeter gets it. Do you?

Ripping Some Bandaids Off

Andrew Mayzak:

Ripping some bandaids off:

1. “Fully automatic weapons are illegal - more laws wouldn’t have prevented this.”

Except that under federal and Nevada state law, it is legal to buy, sell, and possess a fully automatic weapon (aka machine gun) manufactured prior to May 19, 1986 when the ban went into effect. Oh, and it’s not hard to convert a semi-automatic rifle into a fully automatic rifle; there are step by step tutorials online.

2. “If only there were good people with guns...”

To do what? Turn around drunk at a concert and pick off a guy on the 32nd floor of the hotel across the street with a 9mm pistol? Right. Ask yourself if a shootout-prone “Wild West” society is where you’d really like to live.

3. “People will find ways to kill one another if you ban guns.”

Yes, because “58 people die in mass stabbing” read no headline ever.

No one is saying we shouldn’t focus on preventing extremism; just that we should cut back on the availability of firearms. The United States has more guns per capita than any other country and more gun deaths per capita than any other developed country. That’s not a coincidence.

4. “My 2nd amendment rights!”

The 2nd Amendment was never intended to allow civilian individuals to own military-grade weaponry. Only in 2008, when Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the ruling in District of Columbia v Heller, was the phrase “well-regulated militia” interpreted to mean a sacred individual right to bear arms like an AR-15.

5. “If the government ever needs to be overthrown...”

Not one of you has taken up arms against the tyrant in the White House who was aided by a foreign power during the election, lost the popular vote by 3 million, coddles white supremacists, and literally went golfing while Americans died in Puerto Rico. Which tells me you either support him or, behind that gun, you’re too much of a coward to exercise your “right” to keep our government in check.

6. “We don’t know the shooter’s motives...”

Sure we do: he’s a white American male just like 90% of all mass shooters who kill strangers in a rampage. His motives are the perceived erosion of tacit white supremacy in America and the ensuing insecurity caused by social change.

7. “Stop politicizing this tragedy.”

Grow up. Everything is political, especially when human beings die because the laws governing society fail to protect them.

8. “We should pray.”

By all means, if an irrational self-hypnotic conversation with a Bronze Age superstition helps you cope, don’t let me stop you. But we’ve been praying since Columbine and guess what? In 20 years, no deity has fixed our problem. That means god either wants us to solve it on our own, isn’t listening, or doesn’t exist. Your choice.

9. “If you ban guns, they’ll just end up on the black market.”

Yes, they will. Which will deter at least some people who don’t feel safe buying a firearm from a gangster in a dark alley. If sales go down even 10% as a result, it’s a win.

10. “But whattabout...”

No one with a brain is interested in your false equivalences, red herrings, and twisted rationalizations for why our current gun culture is acceptable. You’re either a truly sick gun advocate or a contrarian tool who ignores statistics because you’re afraid of being wrong.

Donald Trump, Monster

Evil on the hoof.

Fake Trade School

Is education really that much of a bonanza? Maybe I should create a fake trade school:
Federal prosecutors have charged a City University of New York college professor with creating a fake trade school on the campus of his employer by teaching unauthorized courses and issuing phony certificates.

Investigators say that biology instructor Mamdouh Abdel-Sayed has led courses for years on subjects such as CPR and drawing blood on the weekends and in the evenings on weekdays.

Roof Damage

Started cleaning gutters; discovered unexpected roof damage. Glad rainy season is still at least a month off. I patched the damage, but there's a lot more on the other side.

On the other side of the house, I discovered one, possibly two places where a raccoon broke into the attic. Lots of ripped up roof shingles and possibly a hole to the sky. It's a good thing it's not raining now - otherwise, I'd be totally sunk. I need to get a better look.

I won't do anything about it until Tuesday, though. It's risky up there, and the last weekend of "Jekyll and Hyde" needed me in good health with working legs.

RIP, Hugh Hefner


First World problem. Discovered my latest fave singer, K. Flay, will be at Golden One Arena next Wednesday, but attached to Imagine Dragons and Grouplove. What to do?

DMTC's "Jekyll and Hyde" Ends

What an excellent cast! A strange show. Not sure I even like it. But first-rate cast!

Time To Take A Knee

There's an obvious problem here:
For over a year I’ve watched lots of white Americans lose their minds in response to Colin Kaepernick and other NFL player’s peaceful National Anthem protests. I’ve seen them question these young men’s patriotism, malign their motives, attack their methods, and treat them with the kind of open contempt usually reserved for serial killers and child molesters.

...Maybe we should all be kneeling right now.

White friends, if your immediate response to the shooting of a man or woman of color is to try and justify why he or she is dead instead of asking why they were shot, you may be the problem here.

If you’re more comfortable calling out kneeling football players than marching nazis with torches, you may want to ask why that is.

If you’re more incensed by a black reporter’s assertion that the President is a supremacist, than the fact that he is endorsed by supremacists, I’d look at that very carefully.