Sat, Apr

The Stupor Bowl


GELFAND’S WORLD--I seem to be among the few who found the Super Bowl at least mildly entertaining.

Unlike the scribe from CNN who described it as "the worst Super Bowl ever" or my colleague who described it as "the most boring football game of all time," I saw the low scoring first half as a return to a forgotten era where each team put its eleven best athletes on defense. It might as well have been Minnesota playing Michigan State in the year 1947. Think back on that old phrase "three yards and a cloud of dust." It's hard to kick up dust on artificial turf, but you get the idea. 

Admittedly, this was not a game for the general public (at least the general public of Brazil or Wales) but it was nice to see the Patriot's offense get snuffed for three quarters. 

There was, however, one chronic irritation, namely the announcers. The higher pitched fellow kept explaining such deep truths as the fact that the team that ran up a big lead early would have an advantage. It's a wonder that audience members who managed to pass 8th grade math weren't hurling shoes at tv screens all over the country. 


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The Definition of Illiterate Ignorance 

The fact that it sometimes gets cold in the winter is not a disproof of global warming. In the case of the polar vortex cold snap we just saw over the midwest, it's likely to be quite the opposite. At least some scientists are speculating that it was warmer temperatures in the arctic that broke down the confined structure that usually keeps the polar vortex in its northern bounds. 

So, our president jumped on the old stupidity train by making a joke about wanting global warming back. This is the very definition of ignorance, illiteracy, and illogicality. 

We should be answering back to such witticisms -- and we should be doing so by repeating endlessly the fact that anybody who makes that joke is an ignoramus who is engaging in global warming denial. 

As one radio commenter pointed out, the global temperature average is actually up, in spite of our northern hemisphere calamity. 

It's also time to start pointing out to the credulous people in the red states that their leaders have been lying to them for the past 25 years. Talk radio hosts have been scrounging in the muck of illogic for the entire time, basing their argument on an extreme case of wishful thinking (all that carbon dioxide won't do anything?) which has not turned out to be true.


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Taking Neighborhood Councils to the Next Level 

Long ago (around 2002), it was assumed that the city's neighborhood councils would gather once or twice a year to have a real congress. By this term, we meant a discussion leading to a vote on a matter of substance. The collective view of the neighborhood councils in their totality would be heard and recorded. 

It's taken these past 17 years to work up to this plan, but we may be on the brink of doing so this coming September. 

The neighborhood council congress organizing group -- in conjunction with the Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Coalition (Lancc) -- has been discussing the idea of having such an event as part of its annual meeting. 

As many of you know, the annual meeting takes place at the L.A. City Hall on a Saturday in September. This year, there will be 30 breakout sessions, ranging from how to run a meeting to emergency preparedness. The Lancc is proposing that we finally hold a real congress during part of the day. The proposed ground rules include each neighborhood council having one vote. The organizers don't care how you decide on that vote -- you could, for example, hold a caucus of every member of your council who is present -- but ultimately there are 99 potential votes on each agenda item. We have had limited attempts at doing something like this over the years, but never in a properly organized fashion. 

Here is a possible example of a resolution that could be presented: Real estate developers are prohibited from making campaign fund donations to City Council candidates and elected members of the City Council. There are lots of other possible resolutions. Cut City Council salaries by half. Abolish toll lanes on the city's freeways. 

You get the drift.


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The president has been sharing his abundant fantasy life regarding border crossings. As numerous sources (Rachel Maddow, DailyKos) have pointed out, Trump's revelations about women being gagged with duct tape don't really have a strong basis in reality. Rather, they seem to come from a movie which showed -- in fiction -- these sorts of things happening. 

There is a serious historical parallel here. When Ronald Reagan was still president but was already going through the beginning stages of Alzheimer's disease, he spoke of events from movies as if they were real. It is easy to joke that Reagan was always confused about fantasy and reality, but in his later presidential years, the breakdown was real. 

Are we seeing the same phenomenon with respect to Donald Trump? It's a scary thought, but there is a lot of evidence. Trump's chronic lying -- but often in a speaking voice that suggests he believes what he is saying -- could be the words of the aging con man that he is but could also signify his accumulating mental confusion. 

If and when Trump starts babbling in a public setting, this might (finally) be the excuse for Republicans to pull the plug on his presidency. A 25th Amendment approach would be a little less emotionally violent than an impeachment trial.


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Remember channel 28 (KCET)? They used to be the PBS station until they ran out of money. I checked in on them the other night and saw an interesting documentary about Mario Lanza. It turns out he was a guy from south Philadelphia who had an unbelievable voice. He crossed back and forth between Hollywood movies, concert tours, and operatic recordings. Sadly, he died relatively young. 

So, KCET is still in existence and putting on some interesting material. Unfortunately, the Mario Lanza documentary, for all its wonders, was repeatedly interrupted by fund raising appeals.


(Bob Gelfand writes on science, culture, and politics for CityWatch. He can be reached at [email protected])


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