Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

November 30, 2009

See The Bad Lieutenant–Even If…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 10:03 am

…it doesn’t equal the sordid extremity of the original film by that title, the one starring Harvey Keitel in an amazing portrait of dissolution and directed by Abel Ferarra. I have to admit, I loved that film for all the wrong reasons. It made any of my own indiscretions seem mild by comparison. Even though it has one of the most uncompromising downer scripts in history, I saw it as a kind of feel-good movie. I don’t want to mislead anybody. It’s not a date night movie. It’s an “I’ll never sink >thatlow movie, which to my mind is an upbeat message.

It’s not clear if the new movie directed by Werner Herzog and starring Nic Cage (subtitled “Port of Call New Orleans”) is meant to be a remake, a sequel, an homage or what. But in some ways despite its cult director, it’s far more conventional than the Keitel movie. Still it’s far more unconventional than almost anything else made by mainstream movie makers and it’s immensely entertaining. And it preserves something of the guilty pleasure or pleasurable guilt to be found in the message of the first: we may or not be the captains of our fate but we’re all Bad Lieutenants of our souls.

I’d still like to see a re make of the original. Starring Christopher Walken.

November 29, 2009

Is Starbucks Instant Really Bad or Is It Just My Eternal Irritation With Starbucks?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 6:30 pm

I’d like to get some feedback on this because I can’t make up my mind whether I’m poisoning myself. I never thought I’d drink instant. Reminded me of mom’s acrid Nescafe. But it was the end point of a tortured evolutionary process. First I’d by fresh ground pounds of coffee and make it at home, drink three cups at a time. Several times a day Bad for nervous system.

Then I found that the bagged coffee often tasted stale, and I wrote a couple of columns in The New York Observer about my fights with S’bucks managers (used to be prissy martinets, better now) over the issue of returning stale beans. Anyway I feel I can claim credit for them starting to put sell-by dates on their coffee after my hostile columns pointed out the problem, but I still would get whole pounds that were not fresh tasting.

So then big switch (I know you’re finding every detail fascinating, but you know, it’s blogging and I want to hear your stories in just as much detail). I decided that to cut down on coffee drinking I’d only drink cofeee AT the S’bucks across the street where the fresh brewed stuff was almost always, well, fresh. I’d order the drink they called a “misto”–regular coffee with some hot steamed milk. Three bucks with tip. . Expensive but good and it cut down on coffee drinking.

Then a twist in my sobriety. My girlfriend started me on lattes. I’d get a triple grande no-foam whole milk latte. Five bucks with tip! It was good, it got me racing back to work where after 15 minutes of energetic keyboarding I’d want to take a nap. (the hotmilk vanquishes the expresso) Expensive in more ways than one. You start drinking whole milk lattes you put on whole pounds of weight.

So this fall they introduce “Via” their instant. I was dubious. I still am conflicted. If you drink it right after you pour in the boiling water (and only drink the dark roast version) when it’s piping hot it actually has a clarity and sharpness that remind you of a good donut shop coffee. But just for that one instant. Maybe that’s why they call it instant. But then by the time you’re half way through it begins to taste like micronized cardboard. Sludgy and awful. I’m not sure how or why, but it makes you hate yourself for drinking it. True, it allows you to stay home at the computer rather than break up the rhythm of work with a trip across the street and the reading of many periodicals instead of working.

Now I don’t know what to do. That one instant of clarity, of taste, of caffeinated uplift versus the self-loathing by the time you finish the cup thinking: why can’t I have a better life? There’s probably a lesson here.

Efficiency expediency, frugality (seventy five cents a cup) versus caffeinated depression, up and down at the same time. Anyone else have this experience? Any advice?

November 28, 2009

The Disgusting Use of "Denialist" by Warming Advocates Trivializes the Holocaust

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 9:02 am

Nothing in the climate debate which I’ve been paying sporadic attention to is more repulsive than the global warming advocates’ attempt to smear skeptics of their theories and models and predictions as “denialists.” As if they were some analog of holocaust deniers.

Not all those concerned about climate change use the term. (Some stick to a sneering use of “skeptics” as a stigmatizing word, as if science itself wasn’t an ongoing process of skepticism about received wisdom. Copernicus was a skeptic about the idea the sun revolved around the earth. He wasn’t a “solar denialist.”)

But nothing causes me more revulsion — and skepticism — than the warming advocates’ (I think the CRU scandal — and the shameful reaction to it — has revealed many of the most celebrated of them to be more p.r. advocates than scrupulous scientists) application of the opprobrious term “denialist” to anyone who questions the work they have so assiduously screened from scrutiny.

When I started paying attention again to the controversy after the release of the pathetic CRU e-mails, I noticed the most desperate of the last ditch defenders of the CRU charlatans — and indeed the CRU charlatans themselves — would resort to calling any of those who disagreed “denialists.” That the use of “denialist” had grown as the failure of their predictions (the discredited “hockey stick” chart) increased.

To me that shameful, trivializing word use alone is more exposure than any e-mail could be of their lack of critical intelligence of the sort that makes them unfit to call themselves scientists, or, in the case of many of their “green journalist” sycophants, ignorant of how actual science works.

Are they really so stupid they can’t see the difference? Let me try to explain it in simple terms for them: The holocaust happened. Already. It’s history. Up to six million were exterminated. They’re gone and their families still mourn. Climate scientists show us graphs and charts and predictions of terrible things that will happen (but have not or may not) because of human perpetrators. Unfortunately, many of their predictions have not come true. Others are based on (we now know) flawed or terminally tweaked models and dishonestly skewed data sets. There is doubt, there is room for skepticism. There may be warming, but it may not be caused or curable by man. So you see, denying every tenet of anthropogenic global warming is not the same as denying the Holocaust. Get it?

November 27, 2009

Obama: Give Back Your Nobel Until the Iranians Give Back Shirin Ebadi's

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 4:53 am

Maybe I’m taking this too personally, but that’s what blogs are for, right?  But the revolting action by the fascist Iranian thugocracy in breaking into Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi’s safe deposit box in Tehran and stealing her Nobel prize symbolizes all that is petty, ugly, sinister and repulsive about the Iranian dictatorship. It’s not just a violation of her person; it’s a violation of all who believe in human rights.

Shirin Ebadi, one of the bravest women in the world, won the Nobel in 2003 for her work as a human rights lawyer defending victims of Iranian regime. When I say I take this theft personally, it’s because two years later I was honored to be in a room with Shirin Ebadi — and it just happened to be the same night and in the same room in which I met the love of my life. It was at a gathering my book editor gave to celebrate the American publication of Shirin Ebadi’s memoir.

I think it was the only time I’d been in the same room as a Nobel Prize winner, and I was awed by proximity to someone of such courage, by the quiet dignity and strength of her words.

And now the cowardly woman-hating, freedom-crushing creeps and bullies who pass for a regime in Iran (may the nuclear laboratories they lie about blow up in their faces) have stolen the symbol of something they could never hope to aspire to — indeed, even understand — in their evil ignorant fanaticism. They’re nothing more than scummy crooks degrading religious piety everywhere with their travesty of it.

November 22, 2009

JFK Theories; Oswald and Hasan

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 8:35 am

Any new theories? Where do you stand on the old theories? Is the Warren Report conclusion (for all the flaws in its investigation) beginning to worm its way into your heart?

Did the assassination change your life? Did it (and successive assassinations) change your vision of America? Your vision of the world? Or is it irrelevant that there’s still doubt warranted (pun intended). Irrelevant in toto? (the Latin word, not Dorothy’s dog).

I’ve been thinking about Oswald. I think he fired shots that day. I can’t be sure he was alone, although I haven’t been convinced by any of the conspiracy theories. More importantly I can’t be sure why he did it. He was somewhere on the spectrum between nutcase and ideologue, maybe a combination of both.

Like a certain other shooter of recent vintage. It’s a dangerous combination.

Anyway, I’m interested in what people think about or if they do. It is November 22nd, you know.

November 17, 2009

Modest Proposal: An International Women's Brigade For Afghanistan

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 8:57 am

Okay I’m not the right guy to do this. Make this suggestion. First of all I’m a guy and what I’m suggesting probably should be proposed by a woman.

Second, I believe that the Afghanistan situation is probably hopeless as it is. What I’m suggesting is not likely to be a “solution,” but I can’t see any other paths to a “solution.” If we stay in, tens of thousands will die for people who don’t seem to want to fight the Taliban.

In some ways I’m glad Obama’s “dithering”: there’s a wall in D.C. with the names of 60,000 people, many of whose children and families probably wished LBJ had dithered a lot more before committing us to a hopeless mission and death for those on that wall. I agree that “dithering” is not good for the troops there, but maybe he’ll dither his way to a better decision than LBJ, and many more current and future troops will be grateful.

I think Obama’s looking for a fast way out because he knows there’s no way to win. He was trapped into mouthing John Kerry’s disingenuous campaign ploy: Iraq, Bush’s war, was the wrong war; Afghanistan was always the right one.

And then there was the growing group of Afghan war enablers, the best and brightest bloggers on the liberal left who were entranced by “the cult of counterinsurgency.” Even though almost all predicted the surge in Iraq wouldn’t work they seem to have been so stunned by its “success” and became cheerleaders for sophisticated counterinsurgency (or COIN) tactics when General Petraeus seemed to use them to turn things around in Iraq. (Even though, as we now now, bribes and targeted assassinations played an equal or greater role than the brilliant COIN tactics and the “success” itself is looking more fragile).

But a kind of Boys Club of cheerleaders for COIN grew up around its evangelists and became enablers for the original McChrystal March master plan, now with its 40K troop addon, which Obama initially bought into and is now apparently trying to extricate himself from. With good reason.

But while I see nothing but tragedy and rising body counts in Afghanistan (as I’ve blogged here before), I still find the plight, and the pleas of the Afghan women, compelling. The girls’ schools being blown up by the Taliban out of their insane fear and hatred of women. Killing, stoning, and driving women back to the stone age of sharia law. It’s horrible.

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