Greed, thy name is NFL

The news that the NFL was thinking of charging its Super Bowl halftime performers a fee for the right to their 12 minutes of glory before the stupendously large TV audience that is couch-bound on Super Bowl Sunday seems obnoxious enough to me. But it’s even worse than I thought. It’s asking the performers to “contribute a portion of their post-Super Bowl tour income” to the NFL, or to “make some other type of financial contribution.”

There’s a slight smell of extortion here. The implication is “For the privilege of being on our stage for less than fifteen minutes we want a cut of your next tour’s income.”

This is nothing but greed. Performers have apparently been performing for free for quite a while, taking the exposure to that TV audience as payment in kind. But now the NFL, not wealthy enough with its $9 billion in annual revenues (as of 2013), wants to have the artists pay it for the privilege. And how big a percentage of that “post-Super Bowl tour income” will the league demand, and for how long?

I hope no artist takes them up on this.

Take a hike!

Way back in 1970 or 1971 I went to the Grand Canyon from Tucson with two fraternity brothers, Jack Thompson of Mt. Kisco, New York and Drew Harvey of Tupelo, Mississippi. It was spring break and we were intrepid. We had driven the 535 miles in Jack’s Renault R-10, and we wanted to stretch out (also, Jack was majoring in mining engineering, and he was interested in the geology). We planned to hike the South Kaibab Trail to the bottom of the Canyon, camp overnight, and then walk the river trail to the Bright Angel Trail and hike back up, stopping at Indian Garden where we were met by two more fraternity brothers carrying a six-pack of beer. Then we hiked the rest of the way up the Bright Angel (the longer of the two, but the one that tops out at the visitor center).

I still can’t believe I took no pictures or had no camera, but there’s no evidence that I ever did this. Honest, all three of us did. Here’s what it looks like in a 14-minute video:

Here it is in a zillion still photographs.

Ferguson anything but calm

I was under the impression that when Missouri Governor Nixon named Captain Ron Johnson of the Highway Patrol to be in charge of the scene in Ferguson, he’d be in charge. On the night he was named (Thursday) the town appeared to be pretty peaceful and all the military hardware and heavy weaponry was out of sight. But each night since then the cops in riot gear appear to be back in charge. I’m wondering if Capt. Johnson is being used as the token Black guy and set up for a fall here.

Sunday night into Monday morning the cops began firing tear gas canisters at protesters, this time three hours before a midnight curfew was to begin. That was apparently in response to a gang fight which had nothing to do with the protest.

As police began gathering tactical equipment, a crowd of about 300 protesters began a planned march down West Florissant Ave. toward the staging area police have set up in a shopping center about a half-mile south. As the crowd approached, police in three armored vehicles sped toward them, stopping about 10 feet away.

“Disperse immediately,” an officer in the lead vehicle announced.

When none in the crowd did, police launched about a dozen tear gas canisters, sending the bulk of the protesters back down Florissant Ave. or ducking into nearby neighborhoods. Several stragglers were arrested at the scene.

And then the cops started driving up and down the streets in armored vehicles, wearing gas masks and protective clothing.

This police department is completely out of control.

Hawai’i Dems have candidate

1,769. That’s the number of votes which separated incumbent Senator Brian Schatz from his challenger in the delayed finish of last Saturday’s primary election. There were two precincts in the Puna district of the Big Island which remained unopen last weekend due to Hurricane/Tropical Storm Iselle’s impact on the region.

Senator Schatz prevailed over US Representative Colleen Hanabusa, who fought to delay the makeup primary session for those precincts, saying their residents were still too busy digging out from the storm to come out and vote. I have some sympathy for that point of view, but Circuit Court Judge Greg Nakamura ruled

the court is not supposed to interfere with an ongoing election process, even if it is unconstitutional.” Nakamura said he’s “constrained not to grant injunctive relief.”

It may not be quite over yet, as state law says a candidate,

a political party, or at least 30 voters from any election district can contest the primary before the state Supreme Court within six days. A complaint must show evidence that defects in the election process or voting problems changed the outcome.

It might be difficult to show that the problems changed the outcome, since Schatz was leading by roughly 1,600 votes before Friday’s special session and his lead increased by a couple of hundred votes at the end of the day.

Schatz has to be considered the prohibitive favorite against Republican Cam Cavasso in November, but he didn’t get the mandate he hoped for. This election is for the remaining two years of now-deceased Senator Dan Inouye’s term, so Schatz will have to run again in 2016. Cavasso has to be credited with the most asinine remark of the week, politically:

“If Hanabusa loses, I believe there’s a good chance those will come over to us,” he said, adding, “I believe that I am the person best qualified to take on the mantle of Daniel Inouye in Hawaii.”

No, Cam. They’re Democrats. They might not be as liberal as Brian Schatz, but they’re not so conservative that they’ll swing to your party. Not in a million years.

When Earthlings strike comets!

That’s Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. It’s the one that scientists hope to put a lander on in November (three months away!). To their surprise, though, it’s kicking out dust while still very distant from the sun, much more distant than anticipated. The expectation was that as it got closer to the sun the radiation pressure would cause gas, ice and dust to stream off the comet in ever greater quantities. But it’s already doing so (in minute amounts, to be sure).

What else are we going to learn from this experiment?

I’ve seen this before

I remember those summers of 1966, 1967 and 1968. They weren’t joyful. They were dark and dismaying. And now, 47 years later, it appears they’re repeating themselves in one black suburb of St. Louis. The town is 67% black, while of the police department’s 53 personnel, all but three are white. The local police department has called in the St. Louis County PD for help, and they’ve obliged with cops in riot gear, armored vehicles, and dogs.

Do you remember Bull Connor and his thugs using dogs in Birmingham, AL in 1963?

Police use dogs to quell civil unrest in Birmingham, Ala., in May 1963. Photo Credit: Associated Press

Police use dogs to quell civil unrest in Birmingham, Ala., in May 1963.
Photo Credit: Associated Press

Well, look at today:
Police confront protesters, Ferguson, MO, August 2014 Photo credit: David Carson/MCT/ZUMA

Police confront protesters, Ferguson, MO, August 2014
Photo credit: David Carson/MCT/ZUMA

Robin Williams? Dead at 63?

Williams died today at his home in Marin County, Ca. The police suspect suicide of asphyxiation.

I really hope that’s not true. I realize it’s ridiculous to prefer one reason for a 63-year-old man to die over another, but suicide is so cruel to those who remain behind. He had two ex-wives and three children from those relationships, and he had married once again in 2011. Some of those people will undoubtedly be asking themselves what they could have done to prevent this.

This is awful.

Now for the un-prepping

I have jugs and jugs of water I need to pour out. I’m very glad I didn’t need them, though. The canned tuna and Spam and corned beef hash will come in handy in the future, and anyway, hurricane season lasts through November.

Two close calls were a-plenty, though. No más, storms, no más!

Away with you, Julio!

Stay north, stay north!

Stay north, stay north!

We may have dodged this one.

Meanwhile, our Governor may have been swamped by a different kind of hurricane. After the first of four printouts, the one with all the absentee ballots and many of the early walk-in ballots, he trails his opponent by 30,000 votes in a Democratic primary election. State Senator David Ige has 57,523 votes, or 65.7 percent of the first votes counted, compared to 27,180 votes for Governor Abercrombie.