Welcome to Buster's Blog

Irregular commentary on whatever's on my mind -- politics, sports, current events, and life in general. After twenty years of writing business and community newsletters, fifteen years of fantasy baseball newsletters, and two years of email "columns", this is, I suppose, the inevitable result: the awful conceit that someone might actually care to read what I have to say. Posts may be added often, rarely, or never again. As always, my mood and motivation are unpredictable.

Buster Gammons

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Certifiably Insane

Gun-nut vigilante George Zimmerman was just pulled over by a patrol officer for speeding . . . in northern Texas.  The officer asked him where he was going, and Zimmerman said, "Oh, nowhere in particular."  The officer noticed that Zimmerman had a gun on the vehicle's seat, and asked him to kindly place the gun in the glovebox.  (Apparently, this satisfies the law in Texas.)  Zimmerman complied and with that, the officer told him to slow down and let him off with a warning.

Let's recap:  The infamous killer of an unarmed teenager is driving too fast, four states away from his home, going nowhere in particular, with a lethal weapon openly displayed in his truck, and this is all somehow just fine and dandy?  No problemo?

It's nuts!  The gun laws in our country are certifiably insane!  The NRA and other gun-nut lobbies are certifiably insane!  The fact that we can't pass a decent background-check law is certifiably insane!  This is not about freedom or constitutionality, it's about the ability to know fuckin' crazy when you see it, and then do something about it.

What the hell's wrong with us?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Now You Too Can Have Your Very Own Sexting Pseudonym

Everybody -- and I do mean everybody -- knows that NYC mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner sent out dick pix under the email alias "Carlos Danger".  Now you can have your very own silly sexting pseudonym with the new Carlos Danger Name Generator.  It's hours of fun for the whole family!

Click the link and scroll down, enter your real name, then click "get my name".  Mine is Osvaldo Hazard.  See what yours is.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Weiner: "I Apologize For What I Did, And I'm Gonna Keep On Doing It"

Two years ago, Anthony Weiner tweeted his junk shot to the world, and was compelled to resign his seat in the U.S. Congress.  After wearing all the hair shirts and making all the acts of contrition, after persuading his long-suffering wife to stick with his sorry ass, Weiner declared himself rehabilitated and also a candidate for mayor of New York City.

He looked like he had a decent shot, but then  . . . "Oops, I did it again!" 

No shot.

I Am Dissed By An Old Hero

Donald Fagen, 1972
Donald Fagen, along with Walter Becker, founded one my favorite bands of all-time, Steely Dan. Beginning in 1972, The Dan reeled off a series of stellar, signature albums:  Can't Buy A Thrill, Countdown To Ecstasy, Pretzel Logic, Katy Lied, The Royal Scam, Aja, and Gaucho.  Progressively funkier and jazzier, each one is a gem and I have them all.  Part of my personal soundtrack.

Fagen, now 65, recently had this to say about baby-boomer fans like me:  "People my age aren't that interested in music, period.  They're much more interested in sports or the fact that their knee hurts.  That's perfectly valid.  I'm very interested in the fact that my knee hurts.  Hell, we're playing county fairs now.  It's hard to tell these geriatric people from the farm animals sometimes."

Fagen, 2013

Oh, Donald!  I still love ya and I love your music, and all I can really say is, "Moo!"

"Jahar's World"

That's the title of the cover article by Janet Reitman in the latest issue of Rolling Stone, an in-depth look at the life of Dzhokar "Jahar" Tsarnaev, one of the Boston Marathon bombers.  It's an example of the long-form journalism that today's Rolling Stone does so well.  (It ain't all record reviews anymore.)

Sadly, all that most people know is the misguided stink that arose from the cover photo.  Some people were "offended" and, as a result, some retail outlets decided to pull the issue.  Never mind that it's an excellent article that everyone should read.  Some people just couldn't cope with the photo itself.  Never mind that it's the same photo that's already been widely circulated throughout the media.  Never mind that Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo, Stalin, Charles Manson, Timothy McVeigh, Sadam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, and countless other bad guys have appeared on plenty of magazine covers.

"Jahar's World" is the story of a young immigrant, full of promise, but ultimately twisted and corrupted by family problems and by religious zealotry and extremism.  The link to the full story appears below.  A couple excerpts:

Peter Payak awoke around 4 a.m. on April 19th, 2013, and saw on his TV the grainy surveillance photo of the kid -- "Suspect #2" in the Boston bombing -- walking out of the minimart.  The boy looked familiar, thought Payak, wrestling coach at Cambridge Rindge & Latin High School.  Later that morning, he received a call from his son.  The kid in the photo?  "Dad, that's Jahar."

"I knew this kid, and he was a good kid," Payak says, sadly.  "And, apparently, he's also a monster."

Jahar's father Anzor moved back to Russia in 2011.  His mother Zubeidat was arrested for shoplifting later that same year .  She skipped bail and also returned to Russia.  Jahar's two sisters were estranged and living in New Jersey.  The youngest of four, Jahar was just 17 and suddenly in the care of his older brother Tamerlan, the increasingly angry Islamic fundamentalist.

His friends would later tell the FBI that Jahar once mentioned he knew how to build bombs.  But no one seemed to take it seriously.

"People come into your life to help you, hurt you, love you and leave you, and that shapes your character and the person you were meant to be," Jahar tweeted on March 18th, 2013.

Two days later:  "Evil triumphs when good men do nothing."

April 7th:  "If you have the knowledge and the inspiration, all that's left is to take action."

April 11th:  "Most of you are conditioned by the media."

The bombs went off four days later.

Full article link:


Life's A Beach

The Annual Beach Recap, featuring a Surprisingly Low-Key Particular Individual, Buster's Beach Wildlife Adventure, the Latest Trend in Ink, the Worst in Swimwear, The Locals View of Tourists, and Thoughts on Pelicans.

We returned three days ago from another trip to Surfside Beach.  This year marked our 20th in a row, which is hard to believe and possibly even a little silly.  But still fun.

New buddy Don (a.k.a. Horry County Sherriff McAlister Brown) had a flight snafu in Pa. and couldn't make it, and our Ohio contingent is dwindling.  This year it was just us and Jim & Tish (and they could stay just a few days).  Even so, we polished off a box of oysters, a gin bucket, some boiled peanuts, and other regional delights.

But mostly it was just us and our old South Carolina friends, including the Particular Individual who, in the past few years, has treated us to anti-government rants, global warming denials, and called us communists. This year the P.I. was generally well-behaved.  Considering us a lost cause, he unloaded his "knowledge" on unsuspecting "Chris", a relative newbie in the S.C. gang.  (He just married into it.)  I studiously avoided the P.I.'s endless soap-boxing, but did overhear him telling a cornered Chris that "Israel is the new Satan."  Oh, I see.   Last year, P.I. said that Muslims were Satan.  Is there a different Satan annually?  Jeez!

The Particular Individual is like the Henny Youngman of right-tard quackery -- he's got a million of 'em!  And if you give him ten seconds, he'll take two hours.  Poor Chris admitted to us privately that he finds P.I.'s monologues tedious, but he doesn't quite know how to extract himself gracefully, so he just sits and listens politely.  Fuck that, bro!  Around P.I., ya gotta stay agile and mobile.  A moving target is hard to hit.

But ol' P.I. was fairly low key, which was good for everyone.  Although after I told my falling-squirrel-hit-me-in-the-head story, he did find a way to segue into his own story of a high-powered rifle which will blow a ground hog into smithereens.  And this relates how?  Rodents, I guess.

Speaking of animals, I had an interesting wildlife encounter on the beach.  Afternoon of the second Saturday, our attention was drawn by the sound of a bird squawking horribly.  It was a sea gull with a broken wing, thrashing around on the sand, terrified.  Apparently, a thoughtless boy threw a rock at a group of gulls and by dumb luck actually hit this poor bird.  It was a bad compound fracture -- the wing was twisted 180 degrees, bleeding, and appeared to be in danger of literally falling off.

Not  the actual sea gull.  Ours was in much worse shape.
Nature being cruel, this hapless creature was being set upon by other birds.  Starlings, crows and other gulls swooped and circled.  ("A minute ago, you were my brother.  Now you're just lunch.")  A small crowd of people gathered to shoo away the other birds.  Children stared in morbid fascination.  Free advice began to flow, ranging from "Just twist its neck"  to "You can set that wing with popsicle sticks and duct tape".  Naturally, no one stepped forward to do the neck-twisting or duct-taping, but something had to be done.  I told the group I'd walk down the beach and ask Vlad the lifeguard to radio the beach service to at least remove the poor thing from the beach.

Vlad walked up with me to see for himself.  He radioed the beach service.  A beach service guy on a 4-wheeler soon pulled up and said there was nothing he could do, but he'd radio the police and get their take on it.  The cops called him back and said the local Animal Welfare Rescue Clinic was closed on weekends and there was nothing they could do.  The beach service guy drove away and Vlad returned to his chair, and we were back to square one.

I said we should throw a blanket over the gull (it was pecking frantically at everything, its beak was big and sharp, and I'd seen The Birds) and move it off the beach.  A guy from our condo complex agreed to help me. But just then a pair of women beat us to it, covering the bird with their beach blanket.  I helped them off-load the critter in the relative safety of tall sea grass in the dunes, but we all knew that our terribly wounded birdie had no chance and would very soon be a goner.

Oddly, after making our dead-duck "deposit", on-lookers gave us a round of applause.  (We did not take a bow.)  A few minutes later, the beach cop on duty finally pulled up on his 4-wheeler and asked, smiling, if the sea gull had "flown away".  Ha-ha.  I told him where we stashed the bird, and he said that it was all we could do and was for the best, especially since Animal Welfare was closed until Monday and he himself couldn't really help.

Nature may be cruel, but it can also be merciful and quick.  The next morning, Sunday, I checked the spot in the grass where we placed the gull, and there was nothing to be found.  Gone, just like that.  Circle of life.

About midday, there was a sudden commotion near the waterline.  It was the same damn sea gull!  Unbelievable!  Not dead, not gone, still flopping around and trying to fly on one wing, its other wing a grisly piece of meat dragging in the sand.  It's the Jesus Gull!  The Die-Hard Gull!  The Chuck Norris of sea gulls!  Stephen Sea Gull!  Definitely one tough old bird.

This time, another guy and I waved our T-shirts and chased our bird back up the beach and into the dunes.  We covered it with a shirt and the exhausted bird just sat there.  Again came the same broad spectrum of suggestions about what to do.  ("Are you a veterinarian?  An expert in avian physiology?"  "No, but I stayed in a Holiday Inn Express last night.")

I noticed a beach cop -- a different one -- patrolling on his 4-wheeler, approached him and told him my strange story of the unbreakable sea gull with a broken wing, and asked if anything could be done.  Well, hell yes, he replied.  He explained that the entire area is a designated sanctuary for all shore birds, and as such, authorities can't just mercy-kill an injured bird, even a gull.  He said they were required to take them to the Animal Welfare Rescue Clinic.  But isn't that closed on Sunday?  Yes, he said, but there's a holding facility next door that will house the bird until Monday morning.

He rode his vehicle to where the bird sat, and called in to a fellow officer on the street who showed up at our condo with a pickup truck, gloves, blankets, and a big cardboard box.  The two officers pushed and prodded the gull into the box, I slapped on the lid, the boxed bird went into the truck, and away to much better odds of survival.  There was another smattering of applause from the other beach-goers.  Thank you.  Thank you very much.

Saturday's cop was completely unaware of the protocol, or maybe just lazy.  Either way, the moral of the story is:  If you're a sea gull and you insist on being injured at Surfside Beach on the weekend, Sunday's your best bet.

You always see plenty of tattoos at the beach and most of them are, of course, hideous.  The latest craze, which I noticed on several young men, seems to be having a tattoo of your last name emblazoned across your shoulders.  It's kinda like an eternal football jersey, or a convention name tag -- "Hi! My name is . . . "  If you feel you must indulge in this trendy ink, you better hope the tattoo artist can spell.  You wouldn't want to end up with "SMTH" across your back.

Any beach is a great place to check out the latest in swim wear.  Our beach is, unfortunately, still a place to a place where one can occasionally observe one of the all-time worst choices in swim wear, the Rebel Flag swim suit.  I saw a few and I'm sorry, but it's just offensive.  Which is, I suppose, the point.  "Yee-ha!  Bite me, ya damn Yankees!"

A related observation as to how we are viewed by the locals:  As vacationing tourists, we become economically significant but existentially loathsome.

Consider the pelican.  Imagine, if you can, swallowing your dinner whole and alive and having it squirm and wriggle as it slowly descends into your stomach.  Joey Chestnut got nuthin' on that!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Hey, New York Business! Rick Perry Wants You!


Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been trying to lure New York businesses to relocate to Texas.  The hilarious and marvelously profane Lewis Black doesn't care for this:

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Bud Selig's Fuzzy Baseball History

Every year at the All Star break, long-time MLB Commissioner Bud Selig is compelled to show his face and comment on the state of the game.  This week, the soon-to-retire Selig opined that the game of baseball "has never been cleaner."  By that he means relatively free of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs.

Ol' Bud apparently wishes to ignore the period from 1869 to, say, 1985, during which no one had ever heard of a PED because they didn't exist.  They had coffee and greenies (caffeine pills), but no steroids, no human growth hormone, no BALCO, no BioGenesis.

Surely Selig remembers Babe Ruth, whose performance was enhanced only by beer, hot dogs, and prostitutes.

Another Question

The question is not whether, in 2013, an all-white jury in Florida can give a dead black boy a fair shake.  (Puh-leeze!  We should know better than to even ask.)  And the question is not whether George Zimmerman is a racist.  (He is, but like most racists, he can't see it, and neither could the jury.)  And the question is not about his intentions.  He clearly had some malicious intent, but again the jury missed it.  (The now-talking juror B37 said she believed, rather incredibly, that Zimmerman had "good intentions in his heart."  Yes, and a goddam gun in his pocket.)  And the question is not whether Trayvon Martin "threatened" Zimmerman.  (How exactly did the Skittles threaten the 9 mm?)

No.  The not-guilty verdict means that in Florida and other dumbass "stand-your-ground" states, you can profile "threatening, suspicious-looking" people (based on race or clothing or whatever -- it's up to you), stalk them, and kill them with impunity.

And that being the case, the question is:  if you are the parent of a "suspicious" teenager or young adult, do you arm your young son with his very own firearm?  You know, just to make the situation more fair and balanced.  Your kid's gun matches the vigilante's gun.  More self-protection, more self-defense.

Would that make things better?  Or worse?


Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Answer Is No

The question asked by Buster in a 7/4/13 post (and by countless others in more polite terms) was, "Will there be justice in Crackerville?"  And the discouraging answer is "No".

Shame on the state of Florida, shame on the jury and, especially, shame on George Zimmerman.  The bloated bastard got away with manslaughter, if not murder.

Zimmerman's next gig is probably with Fox News.


Friday, July 12, 2013

News Of The Southland

(After a week down here below the Mason-Dixon, this is my favorite news item so far.  It appeared today in the Myrtle Beach Sun News.)

MYRTLE BEACH -- Dogs tossed in fight between 2 women.

Two women were arrested in North Myrtle Beach around 3:45 a.m. after a fight in which one of the women threw small dogs at the other, according to authorities.  Police said that, based on the injuries to both parties as well as the physical evidence of a smashed birdcage and a pair of traumatized dogs, they concluded the two women were "involved in mutual combat."  Both women were arrested, and both declined to press charges against the other.

"Don't make me throw a dog at yo' skanky ass!"

No Science, No Worries!

Chuck Watson is a long-time environmental/natural disaster impact analyst from Florida.  He recently participated in hazard-response planning meeting sponsored by FEMA and the Miami-Dade County Commissioners.

Watson says that when he mentioned sea-level rise, he was treated to a 15-minute dissertation on the Book of Genesis by one of the commissioners.  "God destroyed the world with water the first time," said the commissioner, "and he promised he wouldn't do it again.  So all of you who are pushing fears about sea-level rise, go back and read the Bible."

I, for one, am thoroughly reassured.

Charles Koch Defines Wealth

Charles Koch, one of the infamous Koch Brothers, is an oil and gas tycoon, a multi-billionaire, and one the richest people on the face of the earth.  Naturally, he feels qualified to define what real "wealth" is and to lecture the rest of us on the necessity of "economic freedom."

According to the Charles Koch Foundation, a think tank for robber barons, an annual income of only $34,000 places you in the top 1% of all wage earners world-wide.  Wow!  This means virtually everyone in America is doing quite well -- we're all cream-of-the-crop One Percenters, just like old Charley.  So we have no right to bitch about low pay or income inequality.

According to old Charley's foundation, we'll all do better still if we can attain true "economic freedom", which means no income tax, no minimum wage, no social services.  Such harmful things create a "culture of dependency" and hold us (i.e., him) back from even greater income achievements.

Old Charley lives in a rich asshole's dream world.  

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Social Media Question . . .

Just curious . . . Is the past tense of "Tweet" twat?

Justice In Crackerville?

Young Trayvon Martin was walking back to his father's condo.  He was doing nothing wrong.  He was "where he was supposed to be".

George Zimmerman was a neighborhood watch volunteer for the condo association.  As such, he was a puffed-up, self-appointed vigilante who claimed much more authority for himself than he was actually entitled to.

George Zimmerman decided to pursue Trayvon Martin, not the other way around.

George Zimmerman caught up with Trayvon Martin and provoked an altercation, not vice versa.

Maybe Trayvon spoke to George in a sassy, disrespectful way, but this is not a capital offense.  Trayvon's rather understandable attitude seems to have been, "Who the hell are you, why are you following me, and where do you get off ordering me around?"

Things escalated.  The teenager had a cell phone and Skittles.  The adult had a gun, and he used it.

Were it not for George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin would be alive today.  Were it not for Zimmerman's decisions to follow and confront a young man minding his own business, and to use a lethal weapon to impose his will, Trayvon Martin would be alive today.  If Zimmerman wasn't "patrolling" his neighborhood with a fucking gun, Trayvon Martin would be alive today.

Soon we'll see if there will be any real justice from a Cracker jury in Crackerville, Florida.  Will they buy Zimmerman's flimsy "self-defense" excuse?  Will they say that Florida's awful "stand your ground" law allows it?

George Zimmerman used a gun when he really didn't need to, and he killed someone that surely didn't need to be killed.  If there's any justice, George Zimmerman will do time.