Monday, July 6, 2020
Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Saturday, June 27, 2020
Tuesday, June 23, 2020
Friday, June 19, 2020
President John F. Kennedy decided to travel to Texas in late 1963 for three reasons: One, to launch his reelection campaign for November 1964. Two, to raise funds for Democratic party campaigns. Three, to help mend political fences with leading Texas Democratic party members and Texas governor John Connally.
The White House publicly announced the trip in September of 1963.
Abraham was born on May 15th, 1905, in Kovel, then in the Russian Empire, now in Ukraine. In 1909, his father, Israel, left for America. In 1918, Abraham and his family traveled to Warsaw. During that journey, Abraham's brother was pulled off a train and murdered by Polish guards. In 1920, Abraham and the remaining members of his family emigrated to the United States and reunited with Israel in Brooklyn.
The plan was for President Kennedy to take a short flight from Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth to Dallas Love Field, then the city's main airport. He was to ride in a motorcade through Dallas in a route specifically designed to give him maximum exposure to local crowds. The planned route ended at the Dallas Trade Mart, where the President's staff had scheduled lunch with civic and business leaders.
Abraham found work as a clothing pattern maker in Manhattan's garment district, and studied English at night. In 1933, he married Lillian Sapovnic, with whom he had two children.
The flight from Fort Worth landed at Love Field at 11:25 am on November 22nd, 1963. At 11:40, President Kennedy's motorcade left Love Field for the trip through Dallas, taking a meandering route amid enthusiastic crowds, estimated at 200,000 people. Kennedy directed two unscheduled stops, during which he mingled with the masses.
In 1941, Abraham was offered a job by sportswear company Nardis of Dallas. He moved his family there and, eight years later, co-founded his own company, Jennifer Juniors, Inc. His company rented office space on the fourth floor of the Dal-Tex building, located in Dealey Plaza, across the street from the Texas Book Depository.
President Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline were riding in the back seat of an open-top 1961 Lincoln Continental four-door convertible limousine. Governor Connally and his wife, Nellie, were in the front seat. As the Lincoln entered Dealey Plaza at 12:30 pm, Nellie Connally turned to Kennedy, who was sitting behind her, and said, "Mr. President, you can't say Dallas doesn't love you."
Kennedy replied, "No, you certainly can't."
Those were John F. Kennedy's last words.
The limousine made the planned left turn onto Elm Street, and passed in front of the Texas Book Depository.
Abraham considered himself a Democrat and admired President Kennedy. He owned a top-of-the-line 8mm Bell & Howell Zoomatic Series Model 414 PD film camera and planned to film the motorcade when it passed near his office. But it was raining on the morning of the 22nd, so he left the camera at home. When Abraham arrived at work without the camera, though, his assistant, Marilyn Sitzman, insisted that he go home and retrieve it since the weather had cleared.
Abraham had planned to film the motorcade from his office window, but decided, at the last minute, to position himself on the top of a 4-foot concrete abutment on the grassy knoll north of Elm Street. Abraham suffered from vertigo and was afraid of standing alone on the abutment, so Sitzman stood behind him and held his coat to steady him as he began filming the presidential motorcade.
The limousine made the planned left turn onto Elm Street, and passed in front of the Texas Book Depository.
Abraham's Zoomatic captured this:
It's difficult to think of two people whose paths seemed unlikelier to cross than John F. Kennedy and Abraham Zapruder. Yet, the 26.6 seconds of haunting horror that became known as the "Zapruder film" permanently linked the two men.
Speaking of links:
Jack Ruby died of a pulmonary embolism on January 3rd, 1967, at Parkland Memorial Hospital.
On August 30th, 1970, Abraham Zapruder died of stomach cancer.
At Parkland Memorial Hospital.
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
Well, you know, I'm broke. I'll go down there and do that a couple of years, and then I'll come back and raise Herefords.
That was my plan.
Sunday, June 14, 2020
- The Academy was forced to revoke the film's nomination for Best Original Dramatic Score when they learned that the composer used some of his score from an earlier movie.
- Pacino had more screen time in the film than Brando, yet Brando was nominated for Best Actor and Pacino was nominated for Best Supporting Actor. This didn't sit well with Pacino, who boycotted the awards ceremony in protest.
- Brando, citing his objections to the depiction of American Indians in film and television, not only boycotted the ceremony but indicated he would refuse the Oscar if it were awarded to him. Fittingly, when he was declared the winner at the ceremony, this happened:
Tuesday, June 9, 2020
TL;DR version: Owens is a shameless tool of the pro-Trump far-right. Her video consists of specious arguments specifically designed to make white people feel comfortable with the horrible status quo.
Now, the more comprehensive version.
Let's first allow Owens to provide some context for her video. Here are some of her post-2017 quotes, all gathered from her Wikipedia page. (I say "post-2017" because she identified as "liberal" in 2015, but then somehow transformed into an ultra-conservative Trump shill in 2017):
In May of 2018, she suggested that "something bio-chemically happens" to women who do not marry or have children.
She has called abortion a tool for the "extermination of black babies."
She described the #MeToo movement as "stupid" and said that she "hated" it.
She has said that the NRA was founded as a civil rights organization that trained African Americans to arm themselves, which is false. The NRA was founded by Union Civil War veterans to improve soldiers' marksmanship.
In October 2018, during the mail bombing attempts targeting prominent Democrats, Owens promoted the conspiracy theory that leftists sent the bomb mailings. After authorities on October 26th arrested a 56-year-old suspect who was a registered Republican and Trump supporter for the crimes, Owens deleted her comments on Twitter without explanation.
I will now summarize the points she makes in her video, and provide my response below each of them.
Owens: I do not support George Floyd and the media depiction of him as a martyr for Black America. Floyd was a career criminal, and should not be held up as an upstanding citizen, much less a hero. Black culture is unique in that it caters to the bottom denominator of our society. Not all black Americans are criminals. We [blacks] are the only ones that demand support and justice for the people in our community that are up to no good, as opposed to other groups such as Jews and Latins. We are turning criminals into heroes, and I'm not going to buy into that. [Owens goes on to detail Floyd's criminal record, which includes various convictions on drug charges and one sentence for being part of a group that staged a home invasion robbery. She mentions, but dismisses as not significant, that, at the time of his murder, Floyd had not been in trouble with the law for over five years].
No one is holding George Floyd up as a hero, or even an upstanding citizen. No one should be saying he was a martyr, either, since he was not killed for his beliefs.
Floyd did, however, become a symbol. His background, criminal or otherwise, is irrelevant to what happened to him on May 25th. Maybe he'd been putting his life back together during the last five years, or maybe not; that doesn't matter. No one is celebrating George Floyd's life. We are holding up his death as an example of racially motivated police brutality.
Owens: When arrested, Floyd was high out of his mind on Fentanyl and methamphetamines, and when he was put against a wall, a baggie with white powder [Owens presumes drugs] dropped to the floor.
Owens: Upstanding black people are dying during the riots [here she gives an example of a man shot protecting a store from looters]. Why should we upstanding black citizens suffer because of this incident that rarely happens?
Owens: Racially motivated police brutality is a myth. [Here Owens spews a series of statistics without providing their sources: Violent white criminals are 25% more likely to be killed by police than violent black criminals. A police officer is 18.5 times more likely to be killed by a black man than the other way around. Etc.]
The narrative is nothing more than election fodder.
Owens: Doctors accidentally kill 250 thousand people every year. Do we protest?
Owens: Black on black crime is never mentioned. We take no responsibility for our behavior, but prefer to blame whites. We hold up criminals. Those [blacks] who become successful are called "coons" and "Uncle Toms." Black conservatives get ahead because they don't subscribe to this narrative.
In North America, the first English settlement was founded in 1607, on the banks of the James River, in what is now Virginia. Twelve years later, in 1619, slavery began in America, when a Dutch ship brought 20 African slaves to the Jamestown settlement. Slavery didn’t end in the U.S. until 1863 when President Lincoln officially issued the Emancipation Proclamation. So, for 244 years, innocent people were captured in Africa and brought to North America as property. As chattel. For 244 years. After Lincoln abolished slavery, these innocent people went from being slaves to being officially considered second class citizens and, unofficially, subject to horrible abuse. From emancipation until the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the U.S. government legally sanctioned discrimination against these innocent people. For a century.
Thursday, June 4, 2020
It is as necessary for me to be as vigorous in condemning the conditions which cause persons to feel that they must engage in riotous activities as it is for me to condemn riots. I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met.
Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands. But we have to stay vigilant, because it’s always still in the air.
This shouldn't be "normal" in 2020 America. It can't be "normal." If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must be better.It will fall mainly on the officials of Minnesota to ensure that the circumstances surrounding George Floyd's death are investigated thoroughly and that justice is ultimately done. But it falls on all of us, regardless of our race or station — including the majority of men and women in law enforcement who take pride in doing their tough job the right way, every day — to work together to create a "new normal" in which the legacy of bigotry and unequal treatment no longer infects our institutions or our hearts.
George Floyd's murder may just be the inflection point that brings about true change. Not only was the event captured in high definition and instantly distributed globally, but also, it was completely unambiguous. There were no gray areas. African American parents try to teach their children the things they need to do to stay safe when confronted by law enforcement. Things like "don't talk back," "don't run away," "don't do anything that can be misunderstood as threatening," "don't have anything in your pockets that can seem like a weapon." In other cases where black Americans have been victimized by policemen, parents could find comfort believing that if it had been their son, maybe he would have survived by not talking back, or not running, or not looking like he had a gun in his pocket. That comfort vanishes in the case of George Floyd. Millions of people all over the world plainly saw that there was nothing Floyd could have done differently that would have avoided or stopped Chauvin's public lynching. Maybe this is where white people realize that things are much worse than they thought. Maybe this is where we can come together and take action.
To me, "white privilege" was what Donald Trump had – a wealthy father and a silver spoon in his mouth. It wasn’t what I grew up with. So, I rejected it because I didn’t understand what white privilege meant. But I think I do now. I think I at least understand some of it and here’s what I think it is. People who are white, we don’t have to deal with negative assumptions being made about us based on the color of our skin. It rarely happens. If ever. Whereas black people experience that every day. Every day.
I read something last night that I think makes a lot of sense. It’s this: "White privilege doesn’t mean your life hasn’t been hard. It just means the color of your skin isn’t one of the things that makes it harder." Wherever you stand, I don’t see how you can argue with that.
Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership.
Social causation is difficult to demonstrate, particularly between one person’s words and other persons’ deeds. However: The person voters hired in 2016 to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed” stood on July 28, 2017, in front of uniformed police and urged them “please don’t be too nice” when handling suspected offenders. His hope was fulfilled for 8 minutes and 46 seconds on Minneapolis pavement.
Saturday, May 30, 2020
America. Held hostage.
If Frankenstein decided to make a monster assembled entirely from human flaws – he would make a Trump.
Thursday, May 14, 2020
Monday, May 4, 2020
James was born in 1940 in New York's East Harlem. His parents divorced when he was two years old. His father moved to California, so James was brought up by his mother and grandmother in the Bronx. James began smoking and drinking at age nine and began using marijuana at 13. His two closest friends died of drug abuse. As a teenager, he dropped out of school and left home. To make ends meet, he worked as a messenger, busboy, janitor, and postal clerk. During his teens and early 20s, he was often homeless and slept in friends' houses or on the street.
Israel was born in 1901 in Budzanow, a town in what was then Poland but is now Ukraine, the youngest of four children. His father emigrated to New York's Lower East Side, leaving his wife and sons in Budzanow with an uncle. By 1909, Israel's father had saved enough money to bring Israel and the rest of the family over. In 1918, Israel's older brother (and best friend), Zalmon, died in the influenza pandemic. The event was so traumatic to young Israel that despite being a straight-A student, he dropped out of school.
Let's put James and Israel aside for a bit, and watch this fantastic four-minute scene from The Godfather Part II, with Al Pacino as Michael Corleone and Lee Strasberg as Hyman Roth:
I find that scene unusually compelling. There's some excellent acting going on, but I think there's something more.
Pacino can convey volumes with even the most subtle facial expressions. Here, though, he is deliberately deadpan. During Strasberg's monologue there are plenty of opportunities for him to emote, yet he restrains himself.
Pacino's remarkable ability to express what's in his character's mind using only delicate facial expressions is evident in this 50-second clip from The Godfather:
Yet, in the scene with Strasberg, nothing. No eye movement, no mouth tightening, no subtle gestures. Nothing. I've come up with two theories to explain Pacino's conspicuously impassive performance in that scene.
But first, back to James and Israel.
After dropping out of school, "James" (Alfredo James "Al" Pacino), pursued an acting career. A few years after being rejected as a teenager, he was able to gain admittance to New York's prestigious Actors Studio. There, he studied method acting under the Studio's founding artistic director (and fellow high-school dropout) "Israel" (Israel Lee Strasberg).
I'll let Pacino himself describe the influence Strasberg had on his life and acting career:
The Actors Studio meant so much to me in my life. Lee Strasberg hasn't been given the credit he deserves. [Actors Studio] sort of launched me. It really did. That was a remarkable turning point my life. It was directly responsible for getting me to quit all those jobs and just stay acting. It was exciting to work for him [Lee Strasberg] because he was so interesting when he talked about a scene or talked about people. One would just want to hear him talk, because things he would say, you'd never heard before ... He had such a great understanding. He loved actors so much.Pacino shared the stage with Strasberg for the first time in The Godfather Part II. My two theories regarding Pacino's lack of expression during the "I didn't ask who gave the order" scene:
Theory #1: Pacino determined that Michael Corleone would have been expressionless in that situation and played it that way. Nothing more than method acting at its best.
Theory #2: In a loving act of deference and generosity to his teacher and mentor, Pacino intentionally subdued his performance to draw no attention away from Strasberg's monologue.Theory #1 is, by far, the likeliest.
Thursday, April 30, 2020
The presenter continued with his demo, seemingly oblivious of his precarious situation, almost daring the device to fail.
The most critical aspect of their preparation was the Golden Path.
As an Apple-focused IT consultant at the time, I journeyed to San Francisco every year to attend Macworld Expo. And, every year, I lined up at the Moscone Center door all night to be among those precious few conference attendees allowed into the auditorium to watch the Steve Jobs keynote presentation that launched the Expo in person. Every Steve Jobs presentation I had the privilege of attending holds a special place in my heart. But January 9th, 2007, was the day that changed everything.
That day, Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone.
Jobs clearly understood the momentousness of the occasion, and instinctively imbued it with the proper solemnity and gravitas. Everyone in the room was transfixed. To say the presentation was magnificent would be a gross understatement.
As mere attendees (neither credentialed press nor Apple VIPs), my fellow consultant nerds and I were way in the back of the auditorium, nowhere near Grignon's group in the fifth row, so we didn't see them taking their celebratory shots. We also had no idea how genuinely fraught Jobs' demo was. Knowing what I know now, Jobs' cool, at times even playful, demeanor as he demonstrated* the iPhone seems nothing short of superhuman. He acted as if he somehow knew nothing would go wrong.
*Supplementary material: Here's Steve Jobs' iPhone introduction (approx. 51 minutes):
Attribution note: Background material for this essay was gathered from this New York Times Magazine article and this Internet History Podcast transcript.