Friday, February 17, 2017

Warriors To Watch On All-Star Weekend

And there you have it, the NBA will showcase four All-Stars from the Bay Area's Golden State Warriors. Unfortunately, we won't see the Warriors fifth potential all-star because of a shoulder injury that's still not fully healed. 

Zaza Pachulia, aka "The Zaz" will not be participating in this weekend's All-Star activities. There's something about Zaza that brings out the commoner in all of us. It would've been nice to see five Warriors players with their coach Steve Kerr holding court for the Western All-Stars, but that old 80's "greed is good" motto went bye-bye with the wall street scandals that rocked the era.

Remember wall street stock broker Ivan Boesky before serving time for illegal insider trading?:

"I think greed is healthy. You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself."

Well, we Warriors fans feel good and can live with four of our guys deservedly representing the West. As for Zaza, I hear that Las Vegas has laid odds on the Georgian favorite son perhaps appearing in a beer commercial.

It could happen!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Books Not Bombs

"Trump is the perfect modern American. He's a human consumption machine with no attention span, no self-control, no beliefs and no hobbies outside of sex, spending, eating and talking about himself." 

Above is an excerpt from author/journalist Matt Taibbi's RollingStone article discussing his new book "Insane Clown President." The criticizing excerpt says as much about the new American president as it does about American behavior in general. Perhaps our current political situation is simply a lesson in 'be careful what you wish for' wisdom. 

This is not a title on my book wish list, nor would I think to insult the reputation of clowns who are still struggling from blights to their image from the recent clown attack hysteria.

What this book cover and it's subject matter should do is make Americans pause and take a good long look at themselves in the mirror.  We can't always control the ugly politics of our country, but we can pause long enough to put our own ugliness in check.

It's a shame that the famed Ringling Bros. Circus is closing down after over 100 years in operation. Let us pray that it won't be replaced by this insane high-wire balancing act that's generating daily dispatches from Washington D.C.

Books Not Bombs Campaign - Support Syrian Students

Monday, February 06, 2017

Call It The "Super Stowl"

How else to explain the unprecedented Super Bowl comeback victory by the most cheating franchise in the NFL. America awoke this morning as if they'd re-lived the 2016 Presidential Election all over again.

Polls Don't Lie, Do They?

The Atlanta Falcons, led by NFL MVP Matt Ryan, dominated the first half of Super Bowl LI by outscoring the opponent 21-3. They scored by running, passing and a defensive pick six that up to that point was the highlight of the game. The Falcons looked the part of an NFL team that's hungry, balanced and confident in their game plan. 

By the time the Lady Gaga halftime show began, football fans worldwide were laughing and lolling around as if they'd seen the best of Super Bowl LI, with the better team doing what it was supposed to do.  

Then came the second half where unlike most teams playing against the cheater prone opponent, the Atlanta Falcons continued their dominance. They had an 8 play, 85 yard, 4:14 touchdown drive that put them up 28-3. Then it seemed like the offense and defense could join in with the rest of the football world to enjoy a laugher game.  

Only problem was that they forgot just who their opponent was; the cheating-est NFL team in the modern era of professional football. To the surprise of the fans, media and the coaches and players on both sides, the Atlanta Falcons did not score another point as that unethical organization people love to hate made the world go "Gaga." 

Someday an investigative committee reviewing this game might reveal how the habitually prone cheaters Stowl this Bowl. 

  1. no longer in possession of all one's mental faculties, especially on account of old age.

    "I want to write my memoirs before I go too gaga"
    • very enthusiastic and excited about someone or something.

      "moviegoers went gaga over Harry Potter"

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Relax America, Putin is Gonna Make Everything Okay!

I haven't had a Saturday Night Live skit bring me to tears with laughter and horror since Tina Fey's rendition of Sarah you know who.  But that was before Alec Baldwin and company began showcasing their skills with mimicking Trump and Putin.  Theirs is what comedy skit acting is supposed to be; comic with a truthfulness that makes it better to laugh along with than to cry from the pain of it's reality.

Great job SNL. It's only been a few days since the Presidential inauguration and already you're breaking internet and cable viewer records with your political satire.  Or did the network give "alternative facts" about it's Nielsen ratings?

I suppose SNL will have enough White House material available to them in the coming 4 years to keep the show's viewer ratings skyrocketing long after this Presidential Apprentice has served his allotted time or is "Fired."

Sunday, January 22, 2017

It's Brady & Belichik One More Time

Yep, with Patriots QB Tom Brady just completing a touchdown pass with 1:35 left in the 3rd quarter to make the score 33-9, the fate of the Super Bowl is sealed.  It will be the Atlanta Falcons vs the New England Patriots in this year's Big Show.

The Pittsburgh Steelers lost their starting running back Le'veon Bell early to a groin injury, but it was their zone defense that Tom Brady just picked apart like a medical cadaver. Patriots WR Chris Hogan has 180 receiving yards in three quarters. Even without the Gronk, the Patriots at home in the playoffs are still one tough nut to crack.

At least the Falcons won't have to factor in location of the big game; the Super Bowl is in Houston, Texas. But they should be mindful of past Patriots "Alternative Facts"(lies) testimony, explaining their methods of studying film footage of opponents prior to big games.

Falcons Await AFC Champ

The Green Bay Packers never seemed to have a chance. With a 24-0 halftime score, it began to feel like Atlanta QB Matt Ryan and the Falcons were scrimmaging for a league championship. And to think that without Packers QB Aaron Rodger's heroics last week, the Falcons could've been on the road facing the Dallas Cowboys who had the best record in the league. And that's why they play the games.

The Atlanta Falcons are heading to the Super Bowl.

If you can remember RB Jamal Anderson and the 1998 "Dirty Birds," then you'll appreciate the Falcons return to the Big Show. I know the city of Atlanta is glowing bright as a Georgia Peach with their NFL team putting them back into the national spotlight.

Good job ATL, good job!

3:00 left in 4th QTR 
Packers 21
Falcons 44

Birth of a Nation

It's never too late to educate one's self on history. I watched the movie "Birth of a Nation" the other night and the seeds of it's terror and violence stayed with me longer than most movies depicting violence.

As a man who loves learning about historical times, I've seen and heard much of it all before. But this movie, which I can't say had the best writing or acting of movies like it, got it's message across expertly. Here's my Amazon review for "Birth of a Nation" and why I think it important for today's movie audiences from all nations to watch.

Not Just Another Slavery Movie

Some might say, "here we go again, another slavery movie." After watching "Birth of a Nation" they might reclassify slavery movies as "another American terrorism movie."  The movie is as much about the antebellum south's many ways of terrorizing slaves as it is about slaves rebelling against such tyranny. It's made clear in the movie that instilling slaves with the terror of white violence toward them is the means by which the plantation owners chose to maintain control and elicit the most profit and pleasure out of their slaves' labors. Not to mention also as a way to bolster and justify white supremacist ideology.

The methods of terror inflicted on slaves in this movie are not new.  We've seen whippings, rapes, intimidated children and such in other movies. What's new here is the making of a rebel against the system of slavery at the hands of the oppressor. This story of Nat Turner gives a sad twist that many might not have heard of before. The fact that Nat's gift of preaching from the good book is used to not so much ease the slave's physical pain and bring peace to one's weary soul, but is used instead to reinforce the terror and fear of the slave master's vengeance should one displease him, is the crime that comes home to roost in this story. It's a scary parable that we see repeated today in the terror headlining the middle east. Whether it be cotton or oil, there's a price to pay for choosing prejudice and profit over humanity.

For those of us who continue to recognize the seeds of terror by the fruits they produce, this movie adds to one's understanding of where the roots of evil lie.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Toyota Prius Braking System Still Failing

A Consumer Reports:

As driver of a 2010 Toyota Prius I find it my duty as a concerned consumer to report a dangerous feature. Applying the brakes while the vehicle is traveling over a pothole, bump or bumpy and slippery road can cause an accelerating sensation and temporary loss of control of the vehicle. I say "accelerating sensation" because that's what it feels like, when in actuality the brakes are failing.

When I first reported this to the Toyota dealership they had me ride with one of their mechanics to demonstrate/duplicate the problem. The mechanic driving was unable and/or unwilling to verify the problem. Granted, we both had a hard time duplicating the braking issue since the roads near the dealership were newly blacktopped and in mint condition.  

With me driving we drove to an older blacktopped area and while braking on a hill I noticed the accelerating sensation, not as abrupt as usual, before the brakes kicked in. I immediately informed the mechanic and he said he didn't notice a thing. My girlfriend has also experienced the acceleration sensation when driving over bumps, but never has a passenger noticed it.

The mechanic did explain about a Toyota recall where the brakes were releasing over bumps and causing the sensation of acceleration, but he said the recall didn't apply to my vehicle because it already had the software upgrade. It was the first time I'd heard of this Toyota problem and the first time anyone at Toyota mentioned a brake recall and/or software upgrade for braking.

When the mechanic and I got back to the dealership I asked the service advisor about the recall and he confirmed there'd been a brake recall, but repeated the mechanic's words verbatim that the recall didn't apply to my vehicle because it already had a software upgrade. 

I left the dealership feeling like Toyota was covering up for a brake defect in my vehicle. I couldn't fully blame the mechanic for not noticing the mild acceleration I noticed while driving with him in the passenger seat. I did find it very odd that both Toyota employees knew about the brake recall and the software upgrade to address it, yet neither mentioned it to me until after we'd test driven the vehicle. When I voiced my concern of their reluctance to divulge such critical performance information about Toyota's brake recall the service advisor apologized, then gave his reason as not wanting to mislead or misinform customers prior to testing the vehicle. 

Forward 2-3 years as I bring my same Toyota Prius in to the same Toyota dealership location for a scheduled performance service. I bring up my concerns about the continued braking issue and fill in the service advisor about the prior visit where the Toyota mechanic's test drive result was inconclusive. The service advisor agreed to have the mechanic take a look at the braking system.

After servicing the vehicle the mechanic and service advisor met with me and explained the brakes were fine. I told him how I understood it wasn't the vehicle accelerating but the brakes releasing when I apply the brake peddle while going over a bump(s). The mechanic stated that's exactly how the brakes are designed to perform. He said that anti-lock brakes, such as the ones installed in my Toyota Prius, are designed to temporarily release when the vehicle goes over bumps. 

When I told them of the danger and helplessness a driver experiences during that "temporary" loss of vehicle stoppage the mechanic said I shouldn't drive so close to other vehicles and began admonishing all drivers who tailgate. I turned to the service advisor with a look of "is he serious?" on my face. The advisor was as still, pale and silent as a porcelain statue. I turned back to the mechanic saying adamantly that I do not tailgate and that safety while driving is part of my job training and responsibility. 

Then I asked him point blank if I could get him in front of a judge, any judge, to say exactly what he'd just so boldly stated. You could hear a pin drop. Finally, I could do nothing but laugh and pat the mechanic on the back. This poor heavily accented guy was obviously foreign born and was just doing his job and probably towing the company line. The slick service advisor, with the touch of a used car salesman, eased the conversation toward other service checklist completions made by the mechanic and nothing more was mentioned about Toyota's braking system. 

Since that last, most recent Toyota maintenance service experience I've found alarming online information about the Toyota Braking Issue on my 2010 Prius models. Wouldn't hurt for consumers to get an understanding about Toyota's regenerative braking systems as well.

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So my advice to Toyota customers is do not depend on Toyota to educate or inform you about the safety, or lack thereof, of your vehicle. Get outside advice about Toyota recalls and if need be get a good Lawyer. And remember, tailgating is a driving safety hazard. 

Once I got home and completely looked over the Toyota customer service receipt showing all the maintenance performed during the visit, I noticed a page describing the replacement of Curtain Shield Airbag Brackets. Under the heading for CAUSE, was the description: Open Safety Recall.

I called back the service advisor and after what felt like pulling teeth, with him dodging and dancing around the reason for bracket replacement, he admitted that replacing the brackets were due to a recall. I figure maybe he's a summertime auto salesman coming in from the cold of winter to work the service desk. Why else would a Toyota service advisor not advise a customer about product safety recall maintenance just performed on his/her vehicle? 

And if all that wasn't interesting enough, what triggered taking my 2010 Prius in for servicing in the first place was finding the oil dipstick almost completely dry. The Toyota mechanic confirmed finding no oil on the dipstick. The mechanic advised keeping an eye on the oil level moving forward for the next few months, nothing more. After the service visit I went online and found a class action lawsuit against Toyota for guess what? an excessive oil consumption defect!  Don't believe me, check this lawsuit verbiage:

This action arises from Defendants’ failure, despite their longstanding knowledge of a material design defect, to disclose to Plaintiffs and other consumers that the Class Vehicles are predisposed to an excessively high rate of engine oil consumption (the “Oil Consumption Defect”). This defect – which typically manifests itself during and shortly after the limited warranty period has expired will inevitably cause the Class Vehicles to prematurely burn off and/or consume abnormal and excessive amounts of engine oil.

The existence of the Oil Consumption Defect poses a safety risk to the operator and passengers of the vehicle because it prevents the engine from maintaining the proper level of engine oil, and causes an excessive amount of engine oil consumption that can neither be reasonably anticipated nor predicted. Further, the Oil Consumption Defect can cause engine failure while the Class Vehicles are in operation at any time and under any driving condition or speed. This exposes the driver and occupants of the Class Vehicles, as well as others who share the road with them, to an increased risk of accident, injury, or death. As discussed further herein, numerous owners and lessees of the Class Vehicles have experienced engine damage and catastrophic failure while operating the Class Vehicle, thus placing themselves and those around them in immediate danger.

As alleged, Toyota has long been aware of the Oil Consumption Defect yet has routinely refused to repair the Class Vehicles without charge when the defect manifests.


Toyota Recalls Prius models to update software

Toyota Engine Excessive Oil Consumption 

OIL CONSUMPTION DEFECT  - Class Action Lawsuit Against Toyota 

Excessive Oil Consumption Customer Complaints