Thursday Odds & Ends

I shouldn’t say odds & ends.  It sounds too final.  What I should say is odds, ends, & re-beginnings.  Is re-beginnings a word?  Sure, why the hell not?

In Wyoming, during 8th and 9th grade, I had a best buddy.  I moved to California but we kept in touch, and when I graduated from high school my folks bought me a Greyhound ticket to go visit him — Jerry and I had some interesting adventures in the summer of 1964, we did — but we lost track of each other after that.  I looked for him over the years, most recently with Google name searches, but no luck … then, two days ago, he found me through Facebook.

He’s had an interesting and good life, but what’s best is he’s still the Jerry I knew.  We were a couple of smart kids (at least we thought so) and now that we’re getting reacquainted I’m delighted to discover he’s lost none of his smarts.  We’ve all had the experience of meeting childhood friends decades later, only to find that at some point in the intervening years they’d turned off the brain switch and become dullards, living only for the next football game or episode of American Idol, nary a book in the house, barely recognizable as the bright kids we remembered.  Pod people.

I probably sound like I have a man-crush.  Okay, I guess I do.  I’m just so happy we’re friends again.  Life is good.

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Life has been less good for the guy who criticized Dick Cheney to his face and was arrested for doing so.  At least that’s how the story was presented on some political blogs I read (click here for one example).  In their version, this guy encountered Dick Cheney in a public place, walked up to him and told him he thought our invasion of Iraq was “disgusting,” and was promptly arrested.  This happened during the Bush/Cheney administration; the reason the guy’s in the news is that he sued and his case is now before the Supreme Court.

Wow, how un-American is that?  We can’t criticize elected officials?  That’s fucking outrageous!

Or so I was meant to think.  A day later, I heard a fuller version of the story from a somewhat more honest source, NPR:

Most of what happened that day in 2006 is no longer in dispute. Steven Howards had just dropped off his eight-year-old son at a piano lesson in Beaver Creek, Colo., when he saw Vice President Cheney standing in the open shopping area near the ski lift, shaking hands and talking to people.

“I walked up to him and told him that I thought his policies in Iraq were disgusting, and I walked away, and then I left and picked up my child at piano camp,” says Howards.

About ten minutes later, Howards was back in the area, but had become separated from his son. The agents, who didn’t know Howards had lost track of his son, said they saw him looking anxious.

Agent Reichle of the Denver office went over to Howards and asked if he would answer a few questions about his conversation with Cheney. Howards said no and told Reichle that if he didn’t want people accosting Cheney, he should “keep Cheney out of public places.”

“The Secret Service agent got furious,” Howards says, adding that he quickly found himself handcuffed “with my hands behind my back and I was being charged with felony assault of the vice president.”

Howard’s statement in that last paragraph is, well, a wee bit self-serving.  He skipped an important detail.  NPR goes on:

Though Howards initially told Reichle he had not touched the vice president, after reflecting on the encounter, he later conceded that he was wrong. He says he patted the vice president on the shoulder, meaning no harm. The Secret Service has since variously described Howards as having patted Cheney with an open palm, or hit him on the shoulder with an open palm.

Jesus Christ, what an asshole!  He’s lucky to have survived his encounter with the Secret Service.

I guess my point … once again … is that you can’t believe anything you read in print or on the net.  From any source, right or left.  Well, especially from the right (I’m talking to you, Fox “News”) … but as we can see in this case, the left as well.

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I’m tempted to take in a matinee tomorrow.  Yes, I’m talking about The Hunger Games.  I read the three-book series last year and thought it started to drag toward the end, but I said at the time it would make a hell of a movie.  The reviews I’ve seen to date are mixed, but I rather think Roger Ebert liked it, and that’s good enough for me.

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We’ve all been following the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.  The police say they can’t arrest the self-appointed vigilante who shot him because of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” gun law, which allows armed citizens to shoot first and claim self-defense later.  Authorities, and an alarmed public, are calling for the repeal of that law, or at least for substantial changes to be made to it, and I agree …  but if there’s a bucket of cold water to be thrown on hopes of reform, it is this:  the NRA loves that law, and no politician is going to stand up to the NRA.  Not only that, the law was written by NRA and corporate lobbyists working for the American Legislative Exchange Council, and it’s not just Florida … other states have adopted or introduced similar laws.

Welcome to Tombstone, pardners.  Hope you’ve been working on your quick-draw technique!

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To end on an up note, here’s a photo I took from our front yard two days ago, after the last storm of the winter:

Snow on the Santa Catalinas, March 20, 2012 (photo: Paul Woodford)

© 2012, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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