Thursday, January 22, 2015

State of the Football Union

Even if you don’t care about football, the newest scandal matters. The England Patriots stand accused of deflating their footballs in last week’s playoff game. It made their footballs easier to pass and catch than the ones they supplied to the Baltimore Ravens. It’s cheating. When Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was asked about it, he giggled. Which is worse than cheating. Brady’s giggle is bad for America.

Football is a game and a game is nothing but a set of rules. You have four tries to move a ball 10 yards. Move it one hundred yards and you get six points. The team with the most points wins. Rules. There is simply no game without them. That the rules are minor or frivolous or technical doesn’t matter. They are the structure. The purpose is not to get around the rules. The praise, if any is to be deserved, is from achieving despite the rules.

The National Football League doesn’t share this believe. The fine for tampering with game balls is $25 grand, which is like asking me for $3. To gain a little advantage in a playoff game I would’ve paid $6 up front. Maybe even $9.

The NFL is also dumb and short-sighted. Poor referees, criminals on the field, a disregard for the very make-up of the game – football is number one in America right now, but each degradation threatens that perch. If you don’t believe go ask someone at the boxing commission.

All of which is bad for America. Because a nation is nothing but a set of rules, too. You’ve got to respect the little rules if you don’t want a culture that ignores the big ones.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

To those who will kill cartoonists

Attacking cartoonists with guns? Really? I didn’t want to write about this, but it keeps reentering my brain space. It’s too stupid. I’m glad others have called the slaughter of staff at Charlie Hebdo heinous and barbaric. It is those things. It’s also dumb and counterproductive and I wish I could explain that to extremists before they’re gunned down.

I understand the Quran says those who insult Islam shall be seized and slain without mercy. (33:61) Aside from the fact that it was 1,000 years ago and the world was different –  and skipping over the fact that these morons forgot to seize before the slaying – you’ve still got to define the insult. That is neither easy, nor full proof. Satire is both irreverent AND elevating. Any celebrity will tell you, you know you’ve made when you’re being made fun of.

What did the extremists accomplish? Killing, in the end, leaves you not with new converts, but new enemies. So it’s not a good growth strategy. As far as image goes, gunning down unarmed jokesters makes you look pathetic. “We have avenged the Prophet,” they shouted. What arrogance. To think Muhammad ever needed the help of these cowards.

They made hate out of people who made jokes.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Give it away, give it away, give it away now

The Interview probably doesn’t need to be discussed anymore. The movie-houses that caved are foolish and shortsighted. Sony is even worse. They suck at manipulating public opinion. And really, what else do you want from major motion pictures than to be manipulated? Frightened, moved, made to laugh – if their mission was to sour the public on themselves, nicely done. If Sony wanted to stay in business, well, maybe you should start a support group with the people at MGM.

Shelving a movie the government of North Korea doesn’t want anyone to see is not just stupid and cowardly – it’s a lost opportunity. If you want to lose $40 million, do it with style. Give The Interview away. Post it. Let everyone in the world see if for free, without any hard targets at your local Omniplex.

To quote the Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Give it away, give it away, give it away now.” Because, like David Bowie, “We can be heroes.”

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A decent review

Finally, after eight months, an economist reviews The Milkman. And whew. It's a good one.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

More Women Cops, Please

Troubles in Ferguson, Missouri, and Staten Island, New York have left two young African American men dead at the hands of white police officers. The incidents feed racial fires and raise calls for more police of color, but that is only part of the problem. The violence isn’t just white on black  - it’s men on men.  We are taught to be competitive from an early age, it is reinforced throughout our lives by the majority of popular entertainment and it may very well go even deeper than culture.

Men and women are equal. Done. Glad I got that out of the way. They are not, however, the same. Multiple studies have shown that female brains have more interconnections and that leads to more holistic, big-picture thinking, better communication and a more complete understanding of social contexts. Sounds like a great skill set for a cop – if the cop’s purpose is to keep the peace.

Men tend – tend, mind you, as opposed to ‘exclusively’ or ‘universally’ – to be better at single-tasking and staying on focus. Wonderful skills for hunting, as in tracking down and capturing criminals. Combined with more profound upper body strength and an urge to compete, men are designed for conflict. Women, for dealing with it.

Which makes me wish that more than 14 percent of our nation’s police forces were women. The simple fact is they get into fewer pissing matches. Not none. God knows. Fewer.  They are less likely to compete for the sake of competing. There are not a huge number of studies to support this, but only because there have not been a huge number of studies on the subject at all. Those that have peered at the topic agree that women make excellent law enforcement officers.

Back in 1981 The Police Foundation followed 86 male and 86 female rookies for a year and found that the women were just as effective as the men when if came to police work. But, they were less likely to engage in “unbecoming behavior” and “more effective at defusing potentially dangerous situations.”

There’s a chance a female officer would have made no difference in the sadly short lives of Michael Brown or Eric Garner. It’s not a good chance, though. If the officers involved had stepped back, taken in the whole of the situations, de-escalated the conflicts, maybe heard “I can’t breathe” – things might have turned out different. I don’t know. Not everything’s black and white.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Book Giveaway


Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Milkman by Michael J. Martineck

The Milkman

by Michael J. Martineck

Giveaway ends November 30, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A little scribing bubble

There is no point to tile showers other than boosting the immune system. You can’t get them completely clean. Ever. It’s maddening. It’s all the trenches and pock marks. There is no easy way to address them on a macro level. I want to mix equal parts ammonia, chlorine and gasoline together, toss it in my stall and light it up.

A brush gets into the crannies. It is tedious. You scrub one place, it looks clean, so you move on to another. You scrub that until it looks clean and now that last spot isn’t as nice as you thought. You go back and around, scrubbing and scrubbing and best you can hope for is a loved one eventually pulls your fume-filled body out by your ankles.

And that is what it is like writing a novel. In case you were wondering. Except, on occasion, someone says they liked the book. No one has ever complemented me on my shower.