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Honored to be here, and legalization of pot progress-hurdles

Briefly, I am thrilled to be permitted the "diary" honor, and hope to prove that to be a good decision.

To dive right in to a topic, I'd like to share my current thinking and perspective on medical marijuana laws being either a stepping stone towards full legalization, likely taxed and regulated.  Although I'm a sensitive guy, I welcome feedback, including feedback on any ignorant or improper use of the diary.  Type and learn.

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Mr. President, the answer is 'No.'

Mr. President, there has been a whole lot of strange and wacky stuff going on. Heck, it looks like your attempt to imitate "W" Bush in foreign policy, except you added steroids. That's only one part of it. Now, one question: Have you lost your mind?

More below the fold.

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"The Town"-Not What it's Cracked Up to Be:

Ben Affleck's 3 year old movie, "The Town", starring Ben Affleck himself as the lead character, as well as the director, Jeremy Renner, Owen Burke and "Slaine" i. e. George Carroll, is not all that it's cracked up to be.  Imho, The Town is more like a feature-length, made-for-TV soap opera than a regular movie. The Town had the potential for being a very good, or perhaps even a great movie.  Unfortunately, however, it fell woefully short of that potential.  Here's why:

For starters,  The Town didn't have a particularly good, or believable caste.  That's especially true of the leading female star, Rebecca Hall, who played the role of the angelic-looking, coy and weepy  princess/queen of a bank manager whose bank was robbed at gunpoint by Doug MacRay and his posse of masked bandits, her assistant manager brutally beaten within an inch of his life, and she ended up being blindfolded, abducted and taken as a hostage by the four thieves/thugs, since she was irresponsible enough to set off the bank alarm, when she shouldn't have.  

The beginning of "The Town", with the aerial/on the ground shots of Charlestown and Boston, generally, as well as the opening bank heist, when Claire is forced to open the safe at gunpoint by Doug and his men, who are wearing skull masks and nun outfits, is interesting, but, as a film overall, it began to go downhill in a matter of minutes, at least for me.

 Had a somewhat different-looking woman played Claire Keesey the bank manager with a bit more of an "edge", her character, especially when she and Doug MacRay got involved wholesale in a romance, might've been a bit more believable, but that didn't happen.

Not withstanding the fact that Ben Affleck was a little too pretty-boy and too unauthentic-looking to be really believable as a thieving, thuggish Charlestown Townie, there were many Grade B actors/actresses who were either inexperienced, or were thrown in at sort of the last minute, for extras.  

I also might add that The Town was not a particularly accurate portrayal of Charlestown.  It made Charlestown, and Boston, generally, too pretty and bucolic-looking, considering that the story takes place in a rough and run-down urban area.  The Doug-Claire romance (which, imho, took away from The Town considerably), not only lacked real chemistry (The chemistry between Doug & Claire was quite paltry at best, and underdeveloped.  They were like two young teens who were starting out on their first romance and were out on their first date.), but it was unbelievable and unrealistic in that, historically, the Town-Gown tensions here in Boston have always been (and still are) too acute for a romance between a Charlestown Townie and a yuppie bank manager realistically possible, especially a Townie who has an extensive criminal record of violent crimes, such as armed bank/armored truck robbery, assault, and, ultimately the committing of murder(s) on top of it all, like his friends/accomplices in crime.  

Krista, the slatternly, drug-addicted, drunken sister of "Jem" Coughlin (Doug MacRay's best friend and housemate) who was a drug mule for "Fergie" the Florist who employed Doug MacRay and his men, and slept around town with too many men to make the father of her infant daughter, Shyne, clear, was played by Blake Lively, who, although having a small part in this film, might've been more believable as the messed-up Krista if she'd been more developed in this film, but who knows.  

Owen Burke, the guy who played Desmond (Dez) Elden, was pretty much irrelevant through this film.  He was a college-educated guy with a decent job and a decent salary, but he was stupid enough to pretty much go for the ride, except for being a little bit of a technical guy whenever Doug and his other men needed him.  A case of exploitation, imho.

Jeremy Renner, who played the psychotic "Jem"  was a little bit more believable than the rest of them, but he, too, was not a bargain.  

I have to admit that I found myself liking and sympathizing with FBI Special Agent Adam Frawley (played by Mad Men's John Hamm), as well as SWAT and the rest of the law enforcement people who were out to bring Doug MacRay and his men down, stop their careers once and for all, and to have them tried for, hopefully charged with their crimes (i. e. armed bank/armored car robberies, assault, murder), and hopefully forced to serve long, hard terms in a Federal penitentiary.  

The fact that Doug MacRay followed Claire around, knowing that Jem would probably really go off his rocker and do more harm than good, and then met Claire Keesey "by chance" at a Charlestown laundromat, where, stressed out by the robbery, bursts into tears and joshed by Doug, who tells her some dumb, unfunny jokes, is rather suspicious.  This part of the film provides the message that it's okay to stalk somebody like a predator before moving in to really exploit them for their own selfish motives, which is what Doug MacRay did when he sort of secretly tailed Claire and then met her "by chance" in the laundromat, joshed with her to make her laugh, and then asks her out on a date.  

The fact that Claire so readily accepted a date with a guy that she'd never even set eyes on, and, unbeknownst to her, had been sort of stalking her, and ends up in a fullscale romance with him, especially since he turned out to be the de-facto leader of the guys who's robbed her bank at gunpoint, abducted her and seriously injured her colleague just days before is rather suspicious, imho.  

The car chase/car crash scenes, especially in Boston's North End and Fenway Park, as well as the shoot-outs, imho, were toally unrealistic, as was the setting the vans on fire.  How could anybody have really survived those car chase/crashes and shoot-out scenes, not to mention the fire-settings?  They couldn't really.  There would've been dead, broken bodies all over the place, and there's no way that car-chase scenes/shoot-outs in the North End could've taken place without endangering nearby residents and businesses in the area.  Sure, The Town's fiction, but it has to be somewhat believable, which it wasn't really.  

What's also hard to believe is how the Boston Cops/FBI and SWAT could get by without making a total bust and having Doug MacRay and his men not only arrested but brought to trial, charged with, and forced to serve prison time.  

Yet, it's also true that, while the identities of Doug MacRay and his posse of men were known, no evidence or proof could be obtained, partly due to Charlestown's existing Code of Silence, and partly because Doug and his men had a way of bleaching up the crime scenes to destroy all clothing fibers/DNA so that a match couldn't be obtained, and/or by setting fire to the getaway   vans and the switch vans, all in order to destroy any evidence and to (hopefully) throw the FBI and other law enforcement people off their trail.


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How I Came to Love West Side Story:

After writing a whole diary about how I came to love West Side Story and just about finishing it, only to have it disappear on me just out of the blue (yes, this has happened on occasion while writing on a blog!), I have resolved to try again, and not give up until it sticks, if one gets the drift.  Here goes:

West Side Story is a beautiful film which carries a very strong message, which is sort of a two-edged sword;  the destructive consequences of racial/ethnic hatred and hostility and the often-ensuing violence, as well as the senseless of gang violence, arrogance and hubris.  Yet it also carries a message that reconciliation between people, as difficult as it often is, is still possible.  

As a devout fan of the film West Side Story who's also seen several stage productions of this great musical, including the newer, more up-to-date Broadway stage revival (which, although I enjoyed, viewed with a harder, more critical eye.), this is a hard film for me to resist.  I go to see screenings of West Side Story, whenever I have a chance (the one exception being in mid-March of 2001, when a Sunday afternoon screening of WSS conflicted directly with my late dad's memorial, so I didn't go that day!)  

West Side Story is my all time favorite movie, hands down, and I've never really been able to put a finger on why that is so.  A friend of mine asked me the other night if I'd ever analyzed why I liked this particular movie so much.  I told her that I couldn't really put a finger on it...that I just wanted to sit back and enjoy it.  My friend told me about why she liked the movie "Arthur" so much;  she identified with being frustrated about how romances had gone terribly wrong, but when a romance did come, with the right person, it was beautiful!   I had never heard of the movie Arthur until my friend told me about it, but, in all honestly, from the way she described  this movie, it sounded kind of slow for my tastes.  I actually tend to like movies with more action to them, and that have a somewhat faster pace to them, but that's just me.

Not only do I go and see the film West Side Story every time it comes to one of the two independent, non-profit movie theatres in our area, as well as other places, but, believe it or not, I've even made special road trips to the opposite end of the state in which I reside, as well as to neighboring states, to see a screening of West Side Story.  Why does a 50 some odd year old movie like WSS have so much appeal for me?  Again, I can't really put a finger on it, and have never been able to.  Hey..I think I'll just continue to sit back and enjoy it!

Sometimes I've had friends and family members come with me, while other times, I've gone by myself to see West Side Story.  Although West Side Story definitely has its detractors, imho, it definitely earned every one of the ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture of the Year when it was released in late October of 1961.

Although I've found West Side  Story to be enjoyable on TV, nothing beats seeing West Side Story on a great big, wide screen, in a real movie theatre, with the lights down low.  In fact, this great, golden oldie but keeper of a classic absolutely cries out for a great big wide movie theatre screen, for that's how it's really and truly meant to be viewed!  

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Why I'm Against the Death Penalty:

The Death Penalty has always been a controversial topic, but it's become even more controversial nowadays, during the post-9/11 era that we're now going through.  There are people on the Left as well as the Right who believe that the death penalty should be used in certain cases, such as a first-degree murderer, a terrorist, or even a real deviant such as Winston Moseley, the serial killer who was tried, convicted and imprisoned for the horrific murder/rape of Kitty Genovese back in March 1964, as she was returning home from her job as a bar-girl in Kew Gardens (Queens), NY, at around three o'clock in the morning.  

However, even in cases like that, applying the death penalty to deviant criminals like the ones mentioned in the above paragraph, creates a loophole, which would eventually open up the opportunity to apply the death penalty to many more crimes, even ones that don't involve murdering a person.  Hey...I know that terrorists won't hesitate to go out and kill people to promote their cause(s), and a first-degree murderer shouldn't be out walking the street, but a life-time term, without parole,  in a State or Federal penitentiary would be a far better way to go about serving justice in such cases, if one gets the drift.

Now for the crux of the matter:

The death penalty is not a solution for the following reasons:

A)  A society that wishes to become civilized does not solve the problem by putting the perpetrators of heinous crimes to death.

B)  The death penalty creates a whole new set of victims.  Even the perpetrators of the crime(s) for which they've been executed have loved ones and friends who grieve for them when they're gone.

C)  All too often, mistakes are made.  People are often killed who turn out to be innocent of the crime for which they've been executed, the person who actually committed the crime is later found, and often ends up getting off scott-free.

D)  The death penalty is all too often used as a discriminatory tool.  Very poor people, particularly non-whites, are much more likely to end up on Death Row, and to be executed for their crimes.

E)  The death penalty is no more a deterrent to murder than life imprisonment.  The chances are better than not, imo, that if a criminal is that hardened, s/he will not stop to weigh the consequences of his or action(s).  

F)   Many prison inmates, especially those who've had to dig the grave(s) of executed inmates and help with their burials, have reverted back to much worse behavior and more aggression after being traumatized by witnessing such a horrible event.

G)  Many ministers and priests who've presided over the funerals/memorials of executed inmates have become so profoundly depressed afterwards that they've felt compelled to quit the religious life altogether.

H)  No matter how heinous a crime a person has committed, there's always a (remote) possibility for rehabilitation.  Once a life has been taken, however, it cannot be given back.

I)  How can it be said that it's against the law to go out and kill somebody when the state does precisely that?  It's hypocritical and horrifically ironic, to boot.

J)  In societies where the death penalty is used, the overall quality of life is coarsened and cheapened, the crime rates go way up, as opposed to going down,  war is rampant, family break-ups are much more common, and the overall morale of a society is sapped.

K)  When the death penalty is implemented and applied, it puts a society down to the same level of brutality as the criminal who committed the crime for which they've been executed.  

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A short primer on buying and selling guns - part I

The discussion on this site (and others) has been suffering from a lack of accurate information on how people buy and sell guns and the laws and regulations that govern them when they do.  

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Some notes on Health Care reform.

First, it works. The benefits outweigh any amount of problems. The deal is simple. Pass something, then go back and modify it. In reality, the Republicans in congress have no willingness as a party to do anything except try to kill it.

I'm benefiting from this law, so my view is biased.

More below the flip

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How did we get here? Part one of an examination

Foreword: This diary is the first in a series examining, inter alia, the political economy of the United States. Much of what you read here will be historical, and general in application.  The drive behind these diaries remains an examination of the current political-economic structure and function, and my conclusions about the 2012 elections. Although this article doesn't mention anything about 2012, please feel free to begin to draw conclusions, make note of any areas you dispute, offer critiques, comparisons, contrasts, and above all, references for future inquiry.

I think that we need to know where we have been in order to know where we are. Thus, I am attempting to write a series of diaries that chronicle, to me at least, some of the major events and major people/entities which contributed to the direction, the trajectory of the US, socially, politically, and economically, since we can't separate one trajectory from the other.

We in the USA face a crossroads with the coming election. The polarization of both sides (which I think of as the Right and the Middle, the Left being irrelevant at this time) may be leading to tumultuous times. I think it best to discuss the phenomenon.  As I am not a lawyer, please post legal cases that may pertain, along with links, if they are available.  I welcome comments and criticism.  

I think an examination of Japan will help us (or me at least), examine what happens in the US at present, so this diary concentrates on the Japanese business model, with many simplifications.

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Time for analysis, with your help, please

I'm in-between some major treatments, but I woke up today with a clear mind and some energy. I'd like to start adding some analysis from the margins (I remain marginalized, not simply by choice, but by circumstance) concerning the candidates.

Like me or not, I'm an excellent analyst. You may not agree with my conclusions, but my research methods remain professional. Yes, my diaries will reflect my ideas... but here's a chance to get involved with examining some issues and areas we generally express concern, or lack of concern, about.

More on the flop

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The Banks Are Made of Marble

And banks want one thing: profits. It is easier to get a loan at a community bank or a credit union, but either wants their vig.

you tube

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Strikes in Chile for Social Justice. In the US?

More than 250 protesters were arrested within the past 24 hours as Chilean students, now with support of some unions, continue their protests of government education policies. See representative news biteshere.  More on the flip

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Some weeks I ought to stay in bed...

Two weeks of fun and excitement. Or maybe not. Two weeks of fighting the system, and, while not having success, at least not completely failing. At least Auburn University's 2-0...so maybe there is karmic justice somewhere. More on the flop.

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