Vicious Circles

For me, the tv show “The Newsroom” was a bit of a mess, but it had its moments. Perhaps the one most shared around the internets was the speech Jeff Daniels give at the beginning of the first episode. It’s a great monologue, but one line jumped to the fore for me. “Because we were informed.” We seem to be a little more than content for political memes to be our policy statements whether they are accurate or not. The events in Paris have demonstrated that. Everybody is posting from the gut, regardless if the gut has shit for brains.

The hysteria gripping most folks facebook news feeds is borderline overwhelming. Everybody is in either “share if you agree” mode or trying to get folks to research a little more before bloviating. I came across some good words to bear in mind:

“I think it really comes down to terminology. Refugees we see fleeing Syria and standing against chain link fences on European borders are NOT automatically eligible for refugee status as defined by American immigration standards. They are refugees in the broadest global sense. That is not all that is required to receive refugee status for entrance to the United States.

Out of the 700,000+ refugees given that status and taken in to the US since 9/11, not one single refugee has been arrested because of or linked to domestic terrorism. Some would say the Boston bombers were refugees because they left their war-torn country to come here. They were asked why they were visiting our country and stated “tourism”. They came here on tourist visas and did not get anywhere near the vetting process that people claiming refugee status get. It was only after those visas expired that they applied for asylum (an even less involved process than refugee status).

The 10,000 (not 100,000) Syrian refugees will be investigated by their port country before being investigated thoroughly by Interpol, DHS, the FBI, and 4 other govt agencies and cross checked with multiple international terrorist databases. The process is the most lengthy, involved, and secure way to get into the US legally and puts applicants under more scrutiny than any other group of foreigners coming to our shores. They will be more thoroughly investigated than any other prospective citizen.

There is a budget for refugees and there always has been. This is not an instance where we just decided to incur extra expenses. No food is being taken out of your mouths. No veteran is being denied shelter because of these refugees. It’s not an either/or scenario. We CAN and SHOULD help both our veterans AND other members of the human race that want the American Dream. Especially the ones fleeing a country which is currently being bombed by three different nation’s air forces, terrorized by Islamic extremists, AND is suffering one of the most brutal civil wars in this century while being ruled by a sadistic dictator.

Stop allowing fear to permeate every aspect of what it means to be a citizen of the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

This was posted by a good dude name Josh Fielder and it does the neat trick of making sense, eloquently shutting down the refugees not vets posters.

If all the governors who are attempting to shut down their borders would stop and realize that they are not the governors of the people who agree with them. With attention spans at what seems like an all time low, fear mongering seems to be all the rage these days with righteous indignation not too far behind. The GOP Presidential campaigns are spouting all things worthy of school yard fights with the President and how certain religions aren’t welcome in the land of the free since “He will close down” mosques, which is wrong on any number of levels including constitution-wise. I mean if we are a christian nation and “give us your tired, your poor, yearning to breathe free” actually means something, we should walk the walk.

I’m all for civil discourse and opposing points of view because done right, that’s how you learn things and maybe become better informed with a greater grasp of what is truly unfolding, while the bad guys get bombed and not in a fun way.

I’m not sure when exactly we got so scared over what we don’t know. 9/11 isn’t the answer because refugee issues going back to World War II weren’t popular notions, despite all the US pomp and circumstance. I guess everybody is entitled to opinions to be sure, but for all those who worried about people getting their information from Jon Stewart’s Daily Show, more folks than ever are picking up their data from memes.


Even when there are some truth to them.


It’s a complex issue and I’m just thinking outloud, but it goes beyond a “share if you agree.” Congress just passed a more stringent code for screening, which if nothing is remarkable in that they actually did sometime, so that should be “celebrated.”

In the meantime, things remain vicious and a circle.



The Things We Choose to Care about

Wow, the world would be better if, if we weren’t so full of crap.

Is the decor of your $5 coffee cup really a problem and not for nothing, who is telling you you can’t say Merry Christmas? “Happy Holidays” isn’t anything new and I think most folks say it because there is more than one holiday going on and perhaps there isn’t a need to spend foreever checking off a never ending list of platitudes when your biggest goal is to escape the conversation. It seems to me that we are for freedom of religion until somebody actually exercises that. War on Christmas – an invented sentiment by those who aren’t paying attention to the problem of the real casualty – Thanksgiving. Donald Trump says that if he gets elected we can say Merry Christmas once more. I am sort of at a loss as to what might prevent me from saying it now…..oh, right, nothing.

I wonder at what point retailers will realize that they aren’t making any more money, it’s just coming in at different times, that midnight madness allure of shopping on Thanksgiving isn’t doing much for bottom lines and that folks see that the deals aren’t the greatest.

The things we choose to care about….


With events unfolding in Paris, the world turns into the “forums” of every news paper page. U2 had a concert set for Saturday night to be broadcast on HBO. This was understandably cancelled as security personnel have more pressing concerns, but that didn’t stop people from posting on Facebook and Twitter griping about Bono should go on and not “ask us to give while he sits on billions.” I can understand Bono rubbing you the wrong way and all, but that is complaining for the sake of complaining. Whether you like the band or not, they are prominent enough that their picture will get taken when they lay flowers at one of the memorials, but I suppose if they hadn’t gone to do that, that would inspire digital grousing as well.


The other thing I saw was a number of folks appointing themselves to be “social media” coaches, telling scrollers that they aren’t achieving anything by changing their profile picture with the french colors. I disagree. There is a bit of “everybody’s doing it” that goes into movements like that and I don’t believe that is necessarily a bad thing. If nothing else, it does get folks more involved. Perhaps it is in a purely passive way, but that is something. And anything that gets folks to lift a finger to being more informed even by a little is a good thing.

Anybody notice Beirut was attacked too?


Nope, we were too concerned that Friday, the President said ISIS is contained and by Saturday morning, that wasn’t the case. Okay, he missed that putt, but what does it matter? The sound bite or lack of wouldn’t change a thing, just like nothing the candidates had to say since would raised the level of debate.

The digital age has presented us with many tools. We just shouldn’t be among them







Golden Slumbers

It is thrilling that Western New York has been racking up major event level concerts at an increasing rate in recent months. I don’t know if it is the stability of the ownership at our major arena, but it is a good thing, as you can never have too much music. Paul McCartney and his great band are coming to Buffalo for the first time and I believe those who are going are in for a thrill.

I mean, pick your metaphor, Shakespeare the way the author intended, etc. When musical history walks among you or at least drives itself nearby, it would behoove you to do what you can to see the show. I took that in 2010 the last time Sir Paul was near this parts and it was worth the effort of schlepping up to Toronto to see him, at the surprisingly reasonably priced Air Canada Center, excuse me, Centre.

When some body of work has been part of your personal soundtrack for so long, and the guy who created it still has the goods to deliver, it is a pretty amazing experience, enough so that “Let ’em In” was a thrill to hear, and I didn’t think that was possible. He has a great band working with him, so I’m sure attendees are in for a treat as he has made music with this group longer than any other, including those chaps in the 60s.


You are going to get that picture, proof you were there, something to remember by, something to brag from. I get it and obviously, I am guilty of that too, but stow the phone and savor the moment. The Eagles took some flack for on their recent tour having a no-phone policy, to the point of Glenn Frey even teasing a song introduction with “there is a story about this song, and I’ll tell it as soon as this guy down front finishing texting.” While jerky, he did have a point. It was a good reminder to savor the moment. The memory of hearing songs you’ve heard all your life come to life by the guy who created them will be more long lasting than any crappy video you want to share on youtube.  The above is the one picture worth taking from McCartney’s first night in Toronto in August 2010.

The band was in fine form and for a gentleman with some miles on him, Sir Paul was in fine voice. There were Beatles numbers, Wings tunes, and various McCartney solo hits that gave the audience a nice cross section from an impressive career, something even non-fans have to admit.

My son has a respect for a lot of old school British rock and it meant the world for me to bring him to his first major rock show and have it be a Beatle, I mean, a friggen Beatle. It’s pretty hard to top that. But here’s probably the best souvenir I will ever take away from a show and I’ve been to a bunch.


He’s a lot taller and I’m a little grayer, but he still talks of the experience and unlike a lot of shows, I still remember it like it happened yesterday. I don’t have any other images, no bootlegs or crappy video. I got a pin and my boy got his first concert shirt. Part of that was the event, part of that was the idea of the event. Much was made when the show was announced for here how fast the tickets disappeared. Concert tickets for as long as I can remember have had a tough battle finding their way to fans. The screams for legislation on ticket distribution were pretty laughable to me. When you got that body of work and amazingly have never been here, there will be some demand.

I watched as a woman nearby stopped to film a few precious moments of the Eagles recent stop in her phone, complete with flash on fullbore. Why risk getting tossed out when the moment is there to enjoy.

McCartney’s appearance at the First Niagara Center is indeed a once-in-a-lifetime appearance.

Enjoy the show. Be in that moment.



Rolling on the river


There are power boats.


And power boats…


And boats for the powerful. “Yes, we can go rapidly, but we are against it, something might spill, thank you.”

Summer is beating a hasty retreat, but a last walk of summer canalside is still a treat.











Got to get outside, soup weather is coming, but in the meantime, got to make a friend with a boat owner.

Biker Gang


“Sometimes it is good to a part of something bigger than you, it’s good for the soul.” That popped into my brain as i dove into the growing Slow Roll movement for a cruise through Buffalo‘s Elmwood Village and West Side. The Slow Roll has been a weekly growing event all summer long, but it was my first chance to partake. When you just like a nice cruise, but lycra purchases are bad notions this is ideal.


This proved to be the biggest turn out for the slow roll yet, with nearly 1400 riders wheeling through the streets.


If you are a serious rider, you should probably stay home. I think the top speed according to my map my ride app was about 8 miles per hour. You are getting some exercise, but the Tour De France doesn’t need to hold a space. It is an awesome spirit jaunt. You connect with some folks whose sole agenda is to take a good night for ride and go for one. It’s a trip to see the amount of people on steps and porches watching the spectacle (and it is that) go rolling past.

imageI’m not going to lie. I enjoyed having a police escort. Between the generosity of the Buffalo Police and the thorough organizing done by the Slow Roll volunteers (the “Squad”), it’s tough not to ride with increasingly silly grin as you wind through the streets and the only real thing to watch out is other riders. Everybody does a good job of giving each other space to minimalize chances of spills. A few have happened, but the general cluster of folks I was a part of did a good job of looking out for one another and unlike so many other public forums these days, realized that there were other folks in those spaces.

imageSo, it was all good for me. In the intervening couple of days, there was the seemingly inevitable bitching on facebook about the size of the group versus some smaller streets. One writer mused “I couldn’t get out of my street if I needed to.” It read to me like she was panicking over a problem that didn’t exist. There was an urgency earlier in the ride and Slow Roll Organizers moved swiftly to accomodate whatever the issue that might have been. I was a little further in the back so I didn’t see the details.


I will be off to the next run on Monday evening. I think this time, I’ll drive to the take off spot and get the bike out of the car. As the trouble with biking to a biking event, you still have to ride home.image

Schlockin’ the Vote

My dad has been the perpetuator of a number of great cons. I’ve tried to imitate a few in my own parenting career. One of the old man’s best schemes was the library trick. My folks correctly put a premium on reading and a weekend trip to the town library was a regular feature of my grade school life. Occasionally, we’d make a trip to the main library downtown. Saps that we were, my siblings and I ate it up. The result being that we grew up informed.

This came to mind watching the coverage of the stupidly early Presidential election. It is that right of passage where many things get said, but nothing gets talked about that has any ramifications for that often mentioned entity “the American people.”

I openly mocked the debate a few weeks ago and a friend pointed out that the show was “better than the state of the union the past six years.” He was probably right as those speeches don’t add up to anything typically no matter who was delivering the addresses.

And the same is holding true for now. The coverage shows that many of the republicans are upset with Hillary Clinton and the current president (who they are not running against). I think folks are gravitating toward Bernie Sanders as he is actually talking about the, get this, things he would do if he got the job of President. I like that. That’s a healthy trend, hopefully it spawns an imitator. It is something to respect the candidacy of Mr. Trump. While I don’t agree with what he stands for, he picked out some opinions and is hanging on them.  If I wanted to stand out as a candidate on the overcrowded republican side, perhaps that would be a good thing do, say why votes should come to my campaign. I mean when seven guys get relegated to debate happy hour, perhaps you should say something other than “I want to make America great again.”

I mean, what does that even mean?

It’s a great rant, and we could stand to know more. We could stand to know that the President shouldn’t get the blame for high gas prices or the credit for low ones, that it is more complicated that. We should know that Benghazi wasn’t the first time an embassy was a battle site. Every adminstration has had people who shouldn’t be in it.

Another favorite program of mine pointed out that “people get stupid during election seasons.” Another character correctly pointed out that wasn’t the case that “people get talked to like they are stupid.”

We shouldn’t be stupid. It’s a complex world and shouldn’t be boiled down to intolerant facebook status updates.

When it comes time to actually vote, which a long time away still, please do

Still six months till primaries start.

Windshields are HD

So, I’m driving on Buffalo’s Highway 198 (the Scajacquada) at the new mandated 30 mph the other day and was passed by somebody who couldn’t contain his exasperation over the decreased speed and how crazy it was that I wasn’t moving faster. This, despite all the signs, and lights, bells and whistles about going 30. A few days later, coming up Ashland Ave, I spy a guy trying to parallel park a Honda in a cavernous space. Despite all the breathing room, he has a tough go as he chose only to look in his drivers side rear view mirror (no woman driver jokes are permitted to come from that dude). This, after I stupidly thought I had space making the previous turn only to pull out in front of a car that I didn’t see. No harm, just earned that motorist’s ire, deservedly

It’s a wind shield, not a tv.

That popped into my mind as the coverage over the terrible accident between a car that went off the highway and into Delaware Park, striking a family, killing one, as I write this. In watching the news coverage and watching the posts click onto facebook about changed that are perceived to be made, it does make you wonder. While barricades and lowered speed limits and well, taking steps are all good things, we haven’t cured anything truthfully.

We don’t look out for each other on the roadways. I mean, in simple ways, we overlook the little things that might make life easier. I live on a busy intersection, where there are numerous accidents each year. One last summer was caused by a driver who was going to fast and..wait for it, looked at her phone.

While the roads in the Delaware Park accident is deeply flawed, the calls for “returning it to parkway concept” ring a little hollow to me as a car careening at 40 miles per hour isn’t much safer, not that I’m clearer on what a parkway concept is anyway. Politicizing the death of a child in a horrible accident is already underway and unfortunate. The speed limit could have been 30 that day and not much would have been changed. The barricades are great, but we are missing the point in that you can’t legislate dumb.

Things do need to be safer, but we need to do better at looking out for one another. I’m as guilty as the next person to a little obliviousness and cacooned while in my car. I look at the way we all make left turns now and had I done that while taking driver’s ed in high school, I would have become very familiar with the sensation of my own cheek hitting the windshield as the driving instructor would have no problem slamming on her brakes.

Think about how we all treat somebody who attempting to parallel park. You are supposed to chill and wait, but pretty much everybody goes around….sometime into oncoming traffic as we are all in that imagined, yet false rush. I was riding in a car today and you could see folks in the left turn lane (provided they took the trouble to get their cars entirely into the left lane) and the bulk of those good folks are looking down, checking phones.

I was in taxi a few years ago and the driver was running a little amuck, traveling rapidly, too rapidly, at a brace for impact sort of speed up the FDR highway in Manhattan. Jerry Seinfeld once said of such rides, “It’s like it is happening on television, but you can’t change the channel.”

The folks wanting a slower road have a very valid point. It is a tall order to correct something that has generations of traffic going and there is much that can be done, but it wasn’t the culprit.

But we all need to be less buffoon like behind the wheel and at the handlebars. The truth is out there and so are other people.

Let’s be careful out there


As a long suffering fan of the Buffalo Bills, I watched the hoopla surrounding the New England Patriots unfold. I don’t have much in terms of special feelings toward the Patriots or Tom Brady, just a worldweariness of watching Brady beat the Bills at the time. It’s a sort of oh, geez feeling when you get to that part of the schedule. Folks looking for edges is nothing knew in sports. Hell, Gaylord Perry kept the Cleveland Indians interesting with his twisting of the rules in the 60s and 70s (and that wasn’t that easy).

How many defensive backs coated themselves in stick’em to annoy receivers before that was outlawed.

I think the thing that gets most of us isn’t that Tom Brady and the Patriots cheated. They did. They didn’t need to, as they are pretty good, but they dieI think the aloof, above the law arrogance and noncooperation is getting the rise out of people.

Brady and the Patriots basically kicked the Indianapolis Colts all over the playground during the AFC Championship game and they would have been them without any help, but….

It’s a game and ultimately isn’t going to matter one iota want anybody thinks. All the commentators in the word can vilify Brady, Belicheck and company and it won’t matter as they have drown out everybody by putting their superpower rings in their ears.

I’m enjoying reading all the give and take. There was cheating going, but I’m sure the Patriots aren’t the only ones looking for edges, they were just dumb enough to get caught.

But we’ll let Brady have the last word.



I think we can venture out once more without the snow brushes in close reach. Without having to brace oneself over the throwback winter, it is easy to for a walk outside.You can again pay too much for a hot dog without climbing over snow piles.


The Ice Boom is gone and so is the ice.image

imagewhich means the Hatch might be ready for business (okay, it’s open, but parts of the New York State Thruway were rebuilt in less time.




I have never been a fan of the Transformers but this condo tower in the picture above looks like it is where they should park.




The final image is my vantage point for two meetings I had late last week. Better than any conference room, and no air conditioner needed. I definitely had the better for both meetings.

Who’s up for ice cream

Indecision 2016

I’m already sick of the 2016 Presidential Election.

If there was a way to make it all go away until 2016, I’d be fine with that.

There was a line in one of the episodes of the West Wing that was something along the lines of voters get stupid during election years. And the president’s aide replied that “No, people get treated like they are stupid in election years.” I’m not sure who is right except a staggering amount of money will be spent as if both things are true.

I don’t know who I like yet, but I want to vote for them for what they will do in office, not because they aren’t somebody else. Hillary’s listening, Christie wants to gamble but not smoke, Rubio and Cruz are well against Hillary, Huckabee is in a favor of microphones, pointed at him, Rand Paul doesn’t want to answer questions on the Today Show and Jeb Bush is testing waters with press conferences. None of it will make any difference at all to folks voting. You can’t read a facebook feed without somebody posting “Benghazi” with a tourette’s like fervor like that should trigger something (for me, it’s where were all you self righteous knuckleheads during the embassy attacks or did ya notice security budgets were cut bipartisan like.).

There’s enough good and bad for everybody on all sides. Don’t trust, candidate X? Good, you shouldn’t.

My main point isn’t your candidate is bad or mine is good (especially since I ain’t got one). It’s that we should be picking them for them. Living in New York State, we are almost a moot point as far as the presidential election is concerned. It was fascinating to walk a few blocks to work in Wisconsin in 2008 as the real thing was being fought out there. We were into the general campaign at that point, but actual positions were being discussed in Milwaukee.

Voters were selecting who they wanted to win, which strikes me as the whole point of the process.

The parties need each other, desperately. In the meantime, anybody who is running = tell me this, why should I vote for you.

I’d like that answer, but not until 2016.

The Mets are on.