Hey! Randy

Archive for March, 2009

Two Dozen is too Much

Posted by heyrandy on March 17, 2009

I do not watch a lot of television.  I find most of the programming to be wretched, except for the news.  I find it vacuous.  The only television I enjoy is the Red Green Show.  It is now off the air in my area.  It was a comedy (some say documentary) about the stupid thing middle aged men do.  Being a middle aged man who works with a lot of middle aged men in a shop well equipped with industrial grade power tools, I think the show could be rightly classified as a training film.  The show is Canadian, produced in Hamilton, Ontario.  This makes it not just weird but Canadian weird.  You know, like their football.

I also watch Doctor Who.  This is a British produced show.  It is about a man who, with his comely female sidekick, travels in an old police call box through time and space.  The show takes place all over the universe, but it is mostly about saving the cities of London and New York from destruction by characters in bad costumes.  The show’s usual tag line is the title character introducing himself as “the Doctor.”  The standard response is “Who?”  Recently, the mold was broken when the reply was “What?”  If I am ever introduced to the guy, I will answer with “Why?”.

A friend of ours is a fan of the show 24, so my wife, daughter, and I watched two episodes.  The show is about a FBI agent who saves America from miscreants.  The show is full of shootings, car crashes, and daring do on the part of the Jack Bauer (spelling?), the lead character.  The two episodes I sort of watched (I had my back to the television. I was playing a computer game and only listening.  I only turned around to catch some of the exciting action.) had the White House invaded and seized by what appeared to be Congolese commandos.  They entered the building though a secret tunnel that was not there.  This explains why the Secret Service was caught off guard. (1) (One of the commandos was a geeky guy with a laptop computer he used to hack into the White House’s security system.  The guy reminded me of Harold on Red Green.  Bauer reminds me why I don’t watch television.)

After lots of antiseptic killings, the hero rescues the President and shoots the lead bad guy.  Bauer, however, is in deep trouble:  he violated department rules (not filing the paperwork for the previous episodes?) and is now on his way to the lockup.  But he talks his way to release.  This is good because there are more bad guys  as well as a Quisling government employee to shoot.  (How do you think the commandos found the non-existent tunnel?  I think it is because they could not find work on another show.)  What the show lacks in reality it makes up for in ammunition use.

The show is in serial form.  The last episode ended with the FBI looking for Bauer (His release was canceled. Not filing paperwork is a serious offense.  It could lead to an ammunition budget short fall.) and Bauer looking for the rest of the bad actors.  Bauer uses his cell phone to call those looking for him and tells them that there are others about who need shooting.  Even super heroes can not do it all themselves.  Stay tuned!

The advent of the cell phone has caused a real problem in the super hero business: the disappearance of phone booths.  This lack of phone booths explains why Bauer never donned his costume, mask, and cape.  The writers of the show really need to address this matter after they delete the trite, silly, and stupid.  Until they do I will keep reading comic books–but not too much.

(1) Hey Randy! has learned from confidential uninformed sources close to retirement that the Secret Service, embarrassed by their failure to find the non-existent tunnel and enraged that the FBI is getting all the television exposure, has requested  187.35 million dollars to be added to the fiscal year 2010-2011 budget to install a new sump pump in the White house basement.  “This will greatly enhance security on Air Force One,” said a spokesman for the Service.  Other security measures being considered are painting the Rose Garden mauve.


I watched a third episode of 24.  This one had hero Jack using a front end loader to overturn a modular building.  The bad guy inside the overturned building had to climb out of the window to have the fight with Jack.  Just before he died, the killer, who had murdered both a key government witness and a Senator and set up Jack to take the blame, reveals that the weapons of mass bemusement the FBI has been searching for are all ready in the country. This was all made possible by Jack’s wacky female confident and soon to be not former FBI agent in her illegal transfer of FBI data to Jack via an unbreakable, hyper-encrypted, unintelligible, scrambled, encoded, stirred-but-not-shaken cipher utilizing as yet undeveloped, philosophically impossible quadstate logic over the zero point energy channel.  Fortunately, a visitor to FBI headquarters, the wacky female confident’s husband,  was able to break through the protective safety seal and unbake the cake.  It took only a little less time than it would to chew a bug.  It cannot get much better, but there is next week.

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Well, It Could Be

Posted by heyrandy on March 6, 2009

Family of Secrets, Russ Baker, Bloomsbury Press, New York, 2009.  494pp.

It seems that the family of our 41st and 43rd presidents has been quietly busy for a long time.  Well at least for three generations.  This book is the convoluted, tangled, and byzantine story of the Bush family machinations and intrigues.  The tale begins with Prescott Bush, continues through George H.W. (Poppy) Bush and ends with George W. (W.) Bush.  Along the tortuous path odd alibis,  business deals involving assorted miscreants, international intrigues, and hints of what happens to presidents  and newsmen who resist the powers that be.

Baker reveals the oddities of the three generation of Bushes that have had such influence in American and world politics.  Baker shows that the Bushes are really different from the rest of us.  They are elites who have little in common with the hoi polloi. All three men were Yale graduates and members of its elite and secret Skull and Bones Society.  All had high government positions.  All were members of that nebulous group politically connected elites.

This is all well known.  Here the book just restates the obvious.  Yes, Yale, Skull and Bones, snobby preparatory schools and a long history of political connections. So?  The real story, which Baker does tell is the one that cannot be confirmed.  It is the tale of the connections, the deal, the plot.  This fills the book.  It is also all based on rumor and incomplete evidence.

If we remove from the book the gossip and the already known , what do we have?  Only the it could be, but we are not sure if it is.  This is not much.

The famous Air National Guard letters disparaging W’s service are an example.  Baker implies that the letters were a deliberate trap set by Bush family operatives to exact revenge on Dan Rather and to deflect criticism of W’s suspect Guard service.  Bakers adverts to the fact that the woman who delivered the copies of the letters to a known Bush hater was later found by Baker to be living in a new house in a new subdivision and to have a new car in the drive way.  The woman would not talk to Baker.  This is curious, but it is evidence of nothing.

Baker also points to the speed with which internet bloggers attacked the letters, pointing to the obvious flaws.  This is interesting but not convincing.  CBS was certainly stupid, but there is little in all this to link any Bush or one of their operatives to this.  It is more likely a case of rushing to air the story.  CBS had learned that a major newspaper also had copies of the letters and was planning to soon publish.  Not wanting to be scooped, CBS ignored the pleas of producer Mary Mapes for more time to evaluate the letters and aired the story.

The book is full of such theories about business deals, political ploys, other nefarious doings.  It is to be expected.  Politics is well known for its intrigues.  At least Baker hits both sides of the aisle: Lyndon Johnson does not come out too well.  No one comes out too well, especially the media.  Baker repeatedly points out missed opportunities by reporters to follow leads, to ask serious questions, and to go beyond the press release.   Baker acknowledges the risks in such writing.  If they took down CBS News and Dan Rather, what would they do to him?

This fear is much like Baker’s speculation that John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King could not have been killed by a “lone nut’ because that theory is too neat.  Great reading, but where is the proof?  So far, Baker is alive, well, and ignored.  This is as it should be.

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