Wednesday, March 15, 2017

BeneGram's 2017 Final Fourcasts

WOMEN: Connecticut, Baylor, Stanford, South Carolina. Connecticut over Stanford in the final.
MEN: Kansas, Villanova, Gonzaga, Butler. Gonzaga over Kansas in the final.

Let's get started!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Eight Years Ago Today, "Thank You" to GWB Published in WASHINGTON TIMES

Today is the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States, Donald J. Trump. Most of us didn't see this coming even two years ago, let alone four or eight. As I mentioned a couple of months ago, I didn't vote for him or for any of the other people on the ballot for president, and instead wrote in the name of someone who had dropped out almost a year ago.

Not everyone is happy during an inauguration, no matter who wins. We usually don't see the level of violent opposition that we're seeing today, which reflects more poorly on the violent protestors than it does on the people they're protesting against, but there will always be people on the other side.

I was on the other side eight years ago, as I was displeased at how so many of the nation's ills were wrongly being blamed on President George W. Bush. I was fortunate enough to have this piece published in the Washington Times. It happened to run on the day that President Barack Obama was inaugurated, but the vast majority of what I wrote was a salute to Bush more than criticism of Obama.

Perhaps some of the people protesting today can put down their smoke bombs long enough to read it.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Nat Hentoff

We lost jazz critic and free-speech activist Nat Hentoff this month. He remains one of my stalwart heroes -- a true individual: liberal on many issues, but not afraid to shake up left-wing orthodoxy when he deemed it appropriate. For instance, this pivotal story from 1992 demonstrates that attacks on free speech often come from the left and not the right. In fact, while this story is coming up on a quarter-century old, and yet it foreshadowed what has become all too common on our university campuses (and, we'll probably see, presidential inaugurations), where conservative speakers are regularly shouted down and their would-be audience members physically restrained from entering the venue, all because they hold different opinions.

Hentoff was credited with the phrase, "Free speech for me -- but not for thee," to criticize those who enrobe themselves in the First Amendment while simultaneously attempting to deny that same right for their opponents. Twenty-five years later, the situation's only gotten worse.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Of Lives and Mattering

I've been looking at this post of mine for several months now, resolving to finish it and post it, just waiting for the appropriate time. The obnoxious, fairly maligned MTV video chiding white males (addressed here last week) makes this seem as good a time as any. It's not going to get any better -- my post, I mean.

The phrase "Black Lives Matter" caused a firestorm, and it begat "All Lives Matter," which was met with equal scorn. After police officers in Dallas were gunned down, many "BLM" advocates clarified  that "BLM" in no way implies "ONLY BLM." Seth Meyers, who a while back decided to abandon all pretense of evenhandedness and go the Full Olbermann, made this point while attacking Rudy Giuliani after Dallas.

I do understand that most who say "black lives matter" do believe that other lives matter, as well, but they also believe that African-Americans are being disproportionately targeted by police. One may agree with that assertion. One may disagree. But at least the conversation can begin from there.

But if "BLM" deserves the benefit of the doubt, then the same is true for "ALM." If people should not mentally add "only" to someone else's "Black Lives Matter," then others should not mentally add "Except Black Lives" to someone else's "All Lives Matter."

Then there are the shoddy Internet comparisons. One argues that saying "all lives matter" is like a fire department hosing down all the houses on the street, not just the one burning, because "all houses matter." Or a surgeon operating on every bone in your body, not just the one that is broken, because "all bones matter." But I look at the lives being lost on the news. Folks, it's not just one house on fire. I see many broken bones, and they're not all one color.

The difference between "BLM" and "ALM" is one of emphasis. Never have so many people who seem to be in agreement argued with each other with such ferocity.


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Speaking on Behalf of One White Guy...

Okay...

Usually, I try not to pile on when there's already a frenzy going on, but in the case of the now-infamous, albeit short-lived, racist and misandrist MTV public-service announcement about "white guys." It was gone almost as quickly as it appeared -- so strong was the antipathy towards it -- but there's so much here to address, even if others have done it.

First off, MTV muffins, people make New Year resolutions on their own. If you try to make a resolution for someone else -- or an entire group of people -- you're doing it wrong.

Now on to a few of the gems these precious puppies found it appropriate to say to us:

"Hey, fellow white guys..." [said by one token]

Don't compare yourself to me at all.

"Here's a few things we think you could do a little bit better in 2017." [different guy]

Wow. Thanks.

"America was never 'great' for anyone who wasn't a white guy."

That's going to come as a great surprise to many people who aren't white guys who've done rather okay.

"Can we all just agree that 'Black Lives Matter' isn't the opposite of 'All Lives Matter"? Black lives just matter; there's no need to overcomplicate it."

Couldn't agree more. I'll be addressing this topic at long last in a later post. There's not much need to become agitated at any way of saying it. Of course, saying "all lives matter" sort of makes it as uncomplicated as can be.

"'Blue lives matter'...isn't a thing...cops weren't born with blue skin! Right? I mean..."

That's cute. You're pretending to think "blue lives matter" is about blue skin. You're pretending not to get it! Right? I mean..."

"Stop bragging about being 'woke.'"

If I ever even CLAIM to be "woke," please drive me to a hospital. "Woke" is a past-tense verb, not an adjective.

"Learn what mansplaining is...and then stop doing it."

"Mansplaining" isn't a word, actually. Sometimes people need to explain things to other people. If they explain when they don't need to explain, then -- guess what -- women do this, too. The "man______ing" phenomenon is the fantasy that only men do things that both men and women do. You (the self-satisfied woman saying this) need to start womanunderstanding.

"If you're a judge, don't prioritize the well-being of an athlete over the woman he assaulted."

Sure, such as in the Stanford case. In other cases, we need to know that an assault actually happened.

"You can be racist with black friends!"

Yes, you're demonstrating that amply right now.

The encouraging thing is how resoundingly this crap taco was trashed from pillar to post immediately after it aired.




Sunday, December 25, 2016

An Ad to Turn Everyone into a Luddite

You may remember this ad from 2013. In it, a teenage boy appears to be futzing with his phone in the days leading up to Christmas, missing all the wonderful moments with the extended family. As the family is gathered in the living room, he interrupts the festivities to play a video on the big TV. His family members look fed up and about to growl at him, when the video begins, and they see that what he's really been doing is creating a montage of the family moments, with music, to create a touching, high-tech greeting card.

While many people loved the spot, others -- in spite of the kid's good intentions -- hated the imposition of technology, and the defense of the modern phenomenon of the incapability of people (not just teenagers) to experience life without looking at a screen. While I'm usually the first one to make that argument, I feel like that criticism is misplaced. The kid done good. Leave this ad alone.

THIS ad from this year, however, deserves every bit of scorn that was wrongly given to the 2013 ad. Grandparents look up their grandkids' tweets (somehow they lack modern technology but they can still read tweets), and see that their houses are considered hell on earth for nothing other than the fact that they lack Wi-Fi or On-Demand or Netflix or something else my grandparents' house didn't have or need when we visited for Christmas twenty-five years ago.

The grandparents decide that they need to upgrade their houses for the holidays, which just causes the kids' eyes to light up upon entering the house. "Home," by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros," a wonderful but horribly misused song, is heard, as we see technology-laden fun, concluding with the granddaughter giving their house her personal seal of approval. You may know that the chorus features the line, "Home is wherever I'm with you." Notice there's nothing there about being able to watch a movie just by voicing a famous line at the screen. The grandparents should have unplugged whatever appliances they did have and announced to the little snot that they're all going to take turns reading Dickens aloud. Some people wish they still had grandparents (or parents) to visit during Christmas or Hanukkah or Thanksgiving or whatnot, and wouldn't care if they could live-stream their kitchen dances.

I notice that the comments for the ad from this year have been disabled. Wonder why.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Time for Celebrities to Exit, Stage Left

...I voted for neither of them. I actually wrote in the name of someone who had been running earlier in the year, but now was back to his U.S. Senate race. (That should be a rather large clue.) I feared the prospect of Sec. Hillary Clinton (D.) and what she might do with the U.S. Supreme Court, and was entertaining the outside prospect of using my vote more directly to prevent that...but, no...I chose idealism over pragmatism, and then promised myself I'd leap off a mountain if my actions caused her to win my state by exactly one vote...

...so none of the rest of what I'm about to write is really about President-Elect Trump (my congratulations, even though he wasn't even in my top fifteen choices...another hint...).

...the demonstrations taking place in major cities and on college campuses right now are what make me fear the future much more so than the election of anyone for president. The behavior of people uploading their own tearful, profanity-drenched, screaming tirades...or burning the American flag...or vandalizing public property...or assaulting someone they BELIEVE may have voted for Trump...or openly campaigning for assassination...makes me wonder if these violent agitators -- I won't insult infants -- have ever had anything go against them in their lives. I'm old enough to recall several Election Nights on which I went to bed, greatly disappointed at the outcome. I was sad when I woke up the next day, and often for several days afterward. But I somehow refrained from starting a dumpster fire. I have a temper tantrum every so often when I can't find the remote, or when I'm stuck in traffic, but usually I hope no one is watching. I certainly wouldn't hit "record" first, and then put it on YouTube.

Donald Trump, even after all the things he's said, isn't Hitler. Barack Obama isn't Hitler. George W. Bush isn't Hitler. Hitler is Hitler, and we diminish what he was about when we compare American politicians to him.

Now for you famous people who kindly took it upon yourselves to tell us how to vote, and threatened, yet again, that you were leaving the country if the Republican wins the election.

Yes, make no mistake. We go through this every four years. It may be more pronounced this year, because of Trump, but it's here, to some degree, every time. Barbra Streisand said in 1992 that she was moving to London if George H.W. Bush were re-elected. This time, I'm not sure if she said he's going to the U.K., but she did say she's leaving. That's fine. Time to go, Babs.

...'cuz if you don't leave, then we can only assume that your promise to do so was some strange kind of "threat." That's right. You folks actually believe that someone goes into a voting booth, prepares to hit the button for the Republican candidate, and then says, "Oh, wait. I can't do this! Miley Cyrus said she'll leave if the Republican wins! WHAT WAS I THINKING? I can't take that chance!"

Or, "I had my reasons for voting G.O.P. this time around, but Jon Stewart said he'd get in a rocket ship and take off for another planet! That sure was a close call!"

Or, "I honestly don't know what I would have done if I got up one day and CHER had loaded up her suitcases and left! Hillary it is!"

Or, "No....! Not you, TOO, George Lopez! How would I ever go on?!"

Or Amber Rose (whoever the damn hell that is) or Neve Campbell (she's still alive?) or any of these other self-important twits.

Your threat to leave, in all likelihood, didn't keep any Americans from voting for Trump. In fact, if anything, it may have caused people voting third party to go Full Donald on Tuesday, just for the perk of getting you the hell out of here.

So it's time for you to go. For some of you, I've been waiting for this moment for many years now. For others, well, I may not even have heard of you, but, hey, bon voyage. If you tried to hold us hostage by threatening us with your absence, then enjoy seeing the world. I'M not kicking you out; this country is yours just as much as it is mine...you chose to kick YOURSELVES out.

Seriously, go. If I could afford to park my car in your neighborhoods, I'd help you pack.

I just feel bad that Canada will have to put up with Lena Dunham from now on. But it's a large country, so that should dilute her ability to be a nuisance.

If not, there's always Russia.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

I Voted Today

...right after I showed my photo ID.

Mind you: I wasn't asked, but I've made it my practice to hold my driver's license before signing in.

I think everyone should (have to) do the same. It's just too important.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Milo and the Snowflakes

The first time I remember reading anything by Milo Yiannopoulos, I disagreed with his premise.

Yiannopoulos wrote about female athletes during last year's Women's World Cup, claiming that "football" (soccer in the States) is boring enough without having to watch women play it. As he is gay, he said he doesn't have to "pretend" to like watch women's sports in order to get a "shag." Well, I'm not gay, but I'm also not looking for a "shag," and I disagreed with his picking on women's athletics.

I'm sure there are other things Yiannopoulos says and does that I disagree with, even as I agree with him on a host of other things. He is right to point out gender double standards, and how the left went lulu in response to his unimpressed review of the Ghostbusters remake (in which Yiannopoulos points out its bitter misandry).

The main point, though: when I disagree, I leave a few words in the comments section. I don't petition to have vehicles for his thoughts shut down.

This is what now passes for freedom on college campuses. When Yiannopoulos...or Christina Hoff Sommers...or Ben Shapiro...or just about any other conservative-leaning author with a following appears in public, the response from "progressive" students (and faculty) is often to tear down flyers, to throw objects, to scream or chant or clap over the guest speaker, or even to take the stage. On YouTube, you can check out the behavior of the self-described "tolerant people" as they do everything they can to shout down anyone with a view other than their own. I've been to discussion groups that I thought were biased and one-sided and not at all representative of my own position; somehow I refrained from acting like this.

This nonsense will continue so long as universities permit it to continue. More likely, the situation will get worse. When students refuse to go to class because they saw "Trump 2016" scrawled on a sidewalk, what will happen next?