The Sarcastic Cynic™

Sarcastic and cynical view of the world.

Cartoon by Brainhall’19 — December 28, 2019
Tampa Bay Times e-newspaper Article — December 10, 2019

Tampa Bay Times e-newspaper Article

You watch TV and your TV watches back

Washington Post

Wrapped in a Snuggie, I like to binge on reruns of The Golden Girls all by myself. Except I’m not really alone.

Once every few minutes, my television beams out a report about what’s on my screen to Samsung, the company that made it. Chances are, your TV is watching you, too, through a few nosy pixels on the screen.

Ever wondered why TV sets are getting so cheap? Manufacturing efficiency plays a role. But to paraphrase James Carville, it’s the data, stupid. TVs have joined the ranks of websites, apps and credit cards in the lucrative business of harvesting and sharing your information. Americans spend an average of 3 ½ hours in front of a TV each day, according to eMarketer. Your TV records may not contain sensitive search queries or financial data, but that history is a window to your interests, personality, joys and embarrassments.

They’re grabbing it because, legally speaking, tens of millions of us gave our permission.

Article from: South Pinellas Edition – October 13, 2019

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Bill Cosby loses appeal of sexual assault conviction —

Bill Cosby loses appeal of sexual assault conviction

Don't know if you care about this man anymore, but here's an update.

Cosby, 82, can now ask the state Supreme Court to consider his appeal.


In this Sept. 24, 2018 file photo Bill Cosby arrives for his sentencing hearing at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa. A Pennsylvania appeals court has rejected Cosby’s bid to overturn his sexual assault conviction. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File) [MATT SLOCUM | AP]Bill Cosby lost his bid to overturn his sexual assault conviction Tuesday, as an appeals court upheld the verdict in the first celebrity trial of the #MeToo era.

In its ruling, the Superior Court upheld the right of prosecutors to call other accusers to bolster their case — the same issue that was fought over in pretrial hearings before movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault trial.

“This decision is a reminder that no one is above the law,” Andrea Constand, the victim in Cosby’s case, told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Cosby’s lawyers in his appeal said the suburban Philadelphia judge had improperly allowed the five women to testify at last year’s retrial although he’d let just one woman testify at the first trial in 2017.

But the Superior Court said Pennsylvania law allows the testimony if it shows Cosby had a “signature” pattern of drugging and molesting women.

“Here, the (prior bad act) evidence established appellant’s unique sexual assault playbook,” the court said, noting that “no two events will ever be identical.”

The court went on to say that the similarities were no accident.

“Not only did the (prior bad act) evidence tend to establish a predictable pattern of criminal sexual behavior unique to appellant, it simultaneously tended to undermine any claim that appellant was unaware of or mistaken about victim’s failure to consent to the sexual contact that formed the basis of the aggravated indecent assault charges,” the panel said in its ruling.

Lawyers for Cosby had argued eight issues on appeal, including the judge’s decision to let prosecutors use portions of a deposition he gave in the accuser’s related civil suit. His lawyers also argued that he had a binding promise from a former prosecutor that he would never be charged in the case and could testify freely at a deposition in accuser Andrea Constand’s related lawsuit.

The appeals court rejected those arguments and upheld the judge’s classification of Cosby as a sexually violent predator.

Cosby, 82, can now ask the state Supreme Court to consider his appeal.

The long-married Cosby, once beloved as “America’s Dad” for his TV role as Dr. Cliff Huxtable on the hugely popular sitcom “The Cosby Show,” has acknowledged having sexual contact with a string of younger women, many of whom came to him for career advice and took alcohol or pills he offered them.

After the ruling, Cosby’s spokesman accused the appeals court of failing to properly review the case and repeated longstanding attacks made by Cosby’s wife and others on the court system.

“We’re not shocked because it shows the world that this isn’t about justice, but this is a political scheme to destroy America’s Dad, however they will not stop us and we will prevail in the State Supreme Court,” spokesman Andrew Wyatt said in a statement. “Mr. Cosby remains hopeful and he stands behind his innocence.”

Cosby has been serving a three- to 10-year prison term for the 2004 encounter at his suburban Philadelphia home, which he deemed consensual.

He was arrested a decade later, after a federal judge unsealed portions of the deposition at the request of The Associated Press and new prosecutors reopened the criminal case.

The Superior Court panel, in arguments in Harrisburg in August, asked why Cosby’s lawyers didn’t get a written immunity agreement and have it approved by a judge, instead of relying on an oral promise.

“This is not a low-budget operation we were operating here. They had an unlimited budget,” said Superior Court Judge John T. Bender, who questioned whether any court would have approved the deal.

Judge Steven O’Neill’s decision to let the other accusers testify came after more than 60 women accused Cosby of sexual misconduct. Prosecutors asked to call 19 of them. Superior Court Judge John Bender appeared to agree with O’Neill’s logic in letting some take the stand.

“The reality of it is, he gives them drugs and then he sexually assaults them. And in four out of the five, those were in mentor situations,” Bender said.

Kristen L. Weisenberger, representing Cosby, said one of the women wasn’t even sure she was sexually assaulted. However, prosecutors said, that’s how Cosby planned it.

O’Neill had allowed just one other accuser at Cosby’s first trial in 2017, when the jury deadlocked. Cosby’s lawyers called his later decision to let more women testify arbitrary and prejudicial.

He and his lawyers and agents have suggested that many of the accusers were gold diggers seeking money or fame. He told a news outlet in November that he expects to serve the maximum 10-year sentence if he loses the appeal, because he would never express remorse to the parole board.

Cosby agreed to pay Constand, a former Temple University women’s basketball team manager, about $3.4 million to settle her lawsuit. His insurance company, following his conviction, settled at least nine other defamation lawsuits filed by accusers for undisclosed sums.

Constand, who first went to police about Cosby in 2005, thanked Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele for fighting “tirelessly throughout two trials and the appeals process” for her.

A former professional basketball player turned massage therapist, she is launching a foundation in her native Ontario to help other sexual assault victims with their healing. She is also starting to work with law enforcement groups to help them understand the process that victims go through.

She described herself as “pleased and relieved” the verdict was upheld.

The AP does not typically identify sexual assault victims without their permission, which Constand has granted. Times Critics’ Top Books of 2019 — December 9, 2019 Times Critics’ Top Books of 2019

From The New York Times:

Times Critics’ Top Books of 2019

The Times’s staff critics give their choices of the best fiction and nonfiction works of the year.

By Dwight Garner, Parul Sehgal and Jennifer Szalai

Dec. 5, 2019

In the literary world, it has been a year of big, bold ambition. Novelists have stretched their canvases — writing a sentence that runs for a thousand pages; charting the fate of three families in Africa across four generations. Nonfiction writers have made riveting narrative from sprawling, difficult material: The Irish Troubles, the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, the history of the Lakota tribe. And memoirists have confronted harrowing and profound subjects: Life in New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina; decades spent in solitary confinement; psychological abuse in intimate relationships. Below, The New York Times’s three daily book critics — Dwight Garner, Parul Sehgal and Jennifer Szalai — share their thoughts about their favorites among the books they reviewed this year, each list alphabetical by author.
An annual note on methodology: The critics limit themselves in making these lists, each selecting only from those books they reviewed for The Times. Continue reading

Do cheaters always win? How to enforce fair play in MLB? — November 29, 2019

Do cheaters always win? How to enforce fair play in MLB?

Sports Illustrated December 2, 2019 Volume 130 No. 34 SI.COM @SINOW


Allegations against the ASTROS may taint their title and have heightened fears about technology by TOM VERDUCCI

First the answer to the question.  NO!  Cheaters sometimes lose.  How do you enforce fair play?  You can not really enforce fair play.  Every stadium has different dimensions, wind currents, orientations, turfs, soil, fences, foul areas, and the home team normally has the advantage because of the fans and the fact that they play and practice more at their home field.

My solution is to raise the pitcher’s mounds to 1960-70 standards.  Allow batters to interfere when running down the base paths.  Create parallel basepaths between home and first and home and third base.  The batter should have the advantage if he made contact with the ball or if the pitcher threw wildly or if the catcher didn’t catch it.

Let the runner change from inner to outer base path but not outside the base path.  If runner steps out of his path because of interference from an opponent he is then considered out if he does so to avoid a tag.

Pitchers should have a repertoire that can change for each batter.  Only two pitches may be the same, but the pitcher must throw a sequence that includes at least a fastball, a slider, a curve ball, a screw ball, a knuckleball, an offspeed, a sidearm and whatever else the pitcher can throw.

So a sequence could be slider, curve, fast, fast.  If the batter was not struck out or if he’s still alive,  the pitcher must throw still the slider, curve,and fastball but this time the pitcher can change the repeated pitch.  So the next four pitches could be curve, curve, fast, slider.  How the catcher and pitcher communicate what is being thrown, is left to them to figure out.

Memory, signs, electronic signal, noise, sun position, moon phase, name of batter, etc.  The only constant is the three pitches the batter has to figure out every fifth pitch thrown.  Simple? NO, but don’t let them officiate this game out of existence.

There’s nothing so boring as NFL referees throwing five consecutive flags against the Jets v. Cowboys game, or the slowdown that takes place in every NBA games in the fourth quarter, or the flopping that World Cup players from Argentina, Brazil, England, France, Colombia, Senagal, etc do at every match.

So I recommend you read this intriguing article by Tom Verducci in Sports Ilustrated.0921031147





Tom Lehrer – Wernher Von Braun Lyrics | MetroLyrics — November 15, 2019

Tom Lehrer – Wernher Von Braun Lyrics | MetroLyrics

I just happen to be reading acclaimed historian Douglas Brinkley’s fresh look at the American Space program.





So why are the lyrics of Wernher Von Braun by Tom Lehrer below?

Tom Lehrer – Wernher Von Braun Lyrics

Tom Lehrer

(Introduction, spoken:)
And what is it that put America in the forefront of
the nuclear nations? And what is it that will make it
possible to spend twenty billion dollars of your money
to put some clown on the moon? Well, it was good old
American know how, that’s what, as provided by good
old Americans like Dr. Wernher von Braun!

Gather ’round while I sing you of Wernher von Braun
A man whose allegiance
Is ruled by expedience
Call him a Nazi, he won’t even frown
“Ha, Nazi, Schmazi” says Wernher von Braun

Don’t say that he’s hypocritical
Say rather that he’s apolitical
“Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down?
That’s not my department” say Wernher von Braun

Some have harsh words for this man of renown
But some think our attitude
Should be one of gratitude
Like the widows and cripples in old London town
Who owe their large pension to Wernher von Braun

You too may be a big hero
Once you’ve learned to count backwards to zero
“In German, oder Englisch, I know how to count down
Und I’m learning Chinese!” says Wernher von Braun

Interestingly disgusting but good after a two hour bike ride. — October 11, 2019
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