A few questionse

This list includes a very diverse group of countries. For example, the populations are immensely different. China has 1.3 billion people, Russia has 144 million, Greece has 10 million.

But it’s a telling graphic.

We hear a lot of talking points from people in denial about what causes our school shooting problem.

That the breakdown of the family has led to this problem. If you think that, here are a few questions for you: Which of those countries has a lower divorce rate than the United States? Which of them allows gay marriage? Which of them allows abortion?

That it’s about our violent culture? Again, a few questions: Can you buy “Grand Theft Auto” videogames in any of those countries? Can you see a movie like “The Equalizer” or “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” in those countries?

That it’s about mental health issues? Do those countries do not have people with similar mental health issues? Do those people have easier access to mental health support, and if so, are you pushing for reforms here?

That it’s about bullying or boys who are rejected by girls. These rancid trains of thought are gathering steam. A few final questions. Does bullying not happen in those other countries? When did it become an idea that young boys – or men – have a right to another person’s body? Do other countries not allow women to deny the advances of a man?

Maybe it’s something else that has led to these mass shootings. Maybe we should look at how accessible guns are in these countries and what someone needs to be able to do to own one.

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A few questionse

The music these kids listen to

I did something I never thought about having to do as a dad. I downloaded music solely because my kids like it.

My musical tastes a varied, and often terrible. If I could only listen to Stevie Wonder, Scott Joplin, Billy Joel and U2 for he rest of my life, I’d be happy. I’d also probably not complain if I could only listen to movie scores and musical soundtracks. But you won’t find me change the channel if “Break my Stride” or a modern pop song comes on.

I doubt I’ll ever be the dad who complains about what my kid listens to because I figure I’ve forced them to listen to far too much Sly and the Family Stone, Foreigner, and Bernstein. My poor kids know the soundtrack to “Man of La Mancha” and the entire “Innocent Man” album by heart by now. But I also remember rolling my eyes so hard when one of my siblings espoused a fondness for Justin Bieber’s music that I pulled two muscles.

But Michael is really into “Thunder” by Imagine Dragons. So I bought it on iTunes. Then Minnie asked for Taylor Swift. I suggested “Shake It Off,” but she went for “Bad.”

The musical selection in the house is no longer under my control.

That’s probably a good thing.

The music these kids listen to

Real life Lois Lanes

Margot Kidder died Monday. She was most famous for her raspy voiced, tough, yet effervescent portrayal of Lois Lane in the 1980s “Superman” movies.

I entered the newspaper business as the Comic Book Movie genre exploded. It was easy to point out that Peter Parker and Clark Kent spent their days in newspaper offices. I often grimaced watching movies and TV shows that featured journalists trying to give the character gravitas by saying they were a “Pulitzer Prize-winner.” It was often clear that the writers didn’t even know what earns someone a Pulitzer and that there are hundreds of other impressive awards out there. This most bothered me with portrayals of Lois Lane. She’s often a solid portrayal of what a newspaper writer is like: dogged, confident, thorough, etc.

Lane’s character has transformed over the years. From a two-dimensional plot device as a damsel in distress and love interest, she became a fully fleshed out character.

One of the best parts of my journalism career was working among dozens of excellent journalists who were dedicated to their craft and community. They were real life Lois Lanes.

Some, like Joan, Amy and Buffy were my bosses. They taught me valuable lessons I use not only journalism but in day-to-day life. I worked with photographers like Emily, Kate and Chris, who brought wisdom, whit and tenacity to any story you worked on them with, alongside great photographs. Reporters like Sarah, Ashley, Charlotte, Patrice, Angie, Caitlin, Courtney and Emily could find the best and most fascinating stories, filled with accurate facts and compelling narratives. And there were editors like Sarah, who knew every grammar rule, Wanda, who made sure your stories were thorough, and Leo, who Bethany, provided guidance. Coworkers like Stacia, Teresa, Laura and Cristy and Patti who made you think more deeply about your job and enjoy coming to work.

If more readers knew how fantastic these women were, they’d realize how lucked they are to be reading the work those women produce.

Real life Lois Lanes

Going to summer school

Michael skipped up the street as I trudged along behind him. I couldn’t believe it. Isn’t there a constitutional amendment that bans skipping on Mondays? Just a few minutes earlier he had groaned when he asked “Is it a school day” and I told him it was. He moped toward the door, slinging his backpack over his shoulder. “OK,” he said, dragging out the “Oh” for several sad beats. As we walked out onto the porch, I realized Mary’s carriage was in Molly’s trunk. She was probably halfway to Scranton by then. This left me with an unexpected choice. Did I want to drive the boy to school or walk? If we walked, I’d have to carry Mary the six blocks. I weighed that with the idea that we’d be wasting gas and I needed the exercise and picked walking. But I was tired, it was Monday, and I figured Michael would inevitably whine the whole trek. I pushed that aside, plopped Mary onto my shoulders and began the walk, up hill, toward Michael’s school. About halfway up the hill, Michael started skipping.

Continue reading “Going to summer school”

Going to summer school

A dour founder

Check out this cynical take on American democracy.

But will you say our elections are so pure? Be it so; upon the whole. Do you recollect in history, a more Corrupt Election than that of Aaron Burr to be president, or that of DeWitt Clinton last year. By corruption, here I mean a sacrifice of every national Interest and honor, to private and Party Objects.

I see the same Spirit in Virginia, that you and I see in Rhode Island and the rest of New England. in New York, it is a struggle of Family Feuds. a Fewdal Aristocracy. Pennsylvania is a contest between German, Irish and Old English Families. when Germans ad Irish Unitr, they give 30,000 majorities. there is virtually a White Rose and a Red Rose a Caesar and a Pompey in every State in this Union and Contedtd and dissections will be as lasting.

Ooof.

That hefty dose of optimism came from His Rotundity himself, John Adams, in an 1813 letter to Thomas Jefferson.

I’m looking forward to reading Jon Meacham’s new book, “The Soul of America.” It is a reaction to our current national disasters and how we have overcome similar issues in the past.

I’m betting this Adams’ quote won’t make the cut. But the election of 1800 will no doubt be mentioned.

A dour founder

Marvel Cinematic Universe movies ranked

18. The Incredible Hulk It’s better than the Eric Bana version, even if it doesn’t have Jennifer Connelly. It’s jarring that Edward Norton was replaced by Mark Ruffalo.

17. Thor: The Dark World A convoluted plot dragged down interesting characters.

16. Iron Man 2 The introduction of several interesting characters, namely Black Widow, makes it worth watching.

14. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 While it’s not nearly as good as the first, especially because of the predictability of Kirk Russell’s character, it has several important elements moving forward.

14. Avengers: Age of Ultron If you’ve rewatched “Game of Thrones” or “Breaking Bad” this is like one of those episodes that you don’t remember so fondly, but it has incredibly important stuff in it and is more enjoyable than you remember.

13. Thor A very good, well-paced origin story with a Shakespearean bent.

12. Captain America: The First Avenger In many ways, it doesn’t fit in, thematically and visually, with the other movies. The filmmakers were wise to do that and keep Captain America as a man out of time.

11. Doctor Strange This one is a darker character study about abilities/powers and responsibilities that pairs up well with Iron Man 3 and Ant-Man.

10. Marvel’s The Avengers The first team-up movie was a raging success and is still a wild, fun ride.

9. Ant-Man This one is a fun, smart and snappy ride that is very well told. One of the universe’s biggest problems though, shines through here: Cory Stoll is great as the villain, and they off him too quickly.

8. Thor: Ragnarok The title character finally gets a fantastic movie.

7. Iron Man The one that started it all is always worth a rewatch.

6.,Guardians of the Galaxy Blockbusters this grandiose often fail, but it has the fun and awe of a Star Wars movie. The title sequence is one of the best scenes in the entire universe.

5.,Iron Man 3 We know that Iron Man can save the day, but can Tony Stark be a hero without his suit.

4. Spider-Man Homecoming: The best Spider-Man performance in the best Spider-Man film

3. Captain America: Civil War It’s amazing they crammed this many heroes into one film and pulled off a coherent plot.

2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier The MCU shines when it turns a comic book movie on its head by fusing it with a different genre (See the heist movie that is Ant-Man). Taking Cap and making him disillusioned by putting him through a noirish 1970s spycaper was fantastic. This is the McU’s “Empire.”

1. Black Panther Star Wars likely never tops Empire. Marvel topped its Empire with a movie that was somehow drenched in timely and timeless social commentary. The story is fresh and fantastic.

Marvel Cinematic Universe movies ranked

You could see this coming from a mile away

This was the moment Rand Paul’s fans were waiting for. Sadly, they got the Rand Paul everyone but his fans see.

See, Paul (R-Griftopia) never misses an opportunity to not stand by his professed principles when it matters.

Rand is the best of the Paul clan, which is like being the best looking Umpa Loompa. The family has long been running an ideological grift on well meaning conservatives who don’t give the Paul’s actual policy record a second glance. He’s somehow for criminal justice reform despite having misplacing his spine whenever he’s had an opportunity to stand tall. He’s pro-pot, except he isn’t for actually legalizing it.

Maybe he’s anti-interventionalist when it comes to war. It’s possible. But his votes against the use of force have basically always come when the outcome was already decided. What he did today, though, probably proves what you’d get if his vote actually mattered.

President Trump’s pick for Secretary of State – Mike Pompeo – has a track record that should make Paul cringe as much as he would at Nancy Pelosi. Pompeo, a shameless Benghazi conspiracy hawk, has major interventionist leanings. He also supports programs that infringe on people’s privacy. Paul voted against Pompeo in Committee when the nominee was set to lead the CIA. But there was no chance Paul’s vote would halt Pompeo’s nomination.

Now he had a legitimate chance at stopping the senate committee from recommending Pompeo for State.

This was it. Paul was going to stand up to Pompeo, and Trump’s autocratic leanings.

Well, folks, Paul didn’t miss this opportunity to not stand up for his publicly processed principles.

Instead, as usual, his private principles are what matter. Look for Paul’s next book to be a best seller among the libertarian set. In it, he’ll claim to not just be your average Republican, but the only congressman who stands by the Constitution.

You could see this coming from a mile away