Bourdain Chooses the Right Side of History

July 24, 2014

By Karen

Here I go again with a Bourdain post, but he just gave a great interview to Blogs of War and I have to say it: If there’s one thing about Anthony Bourdain I admire, it’s his willingness to stick his neck out for the underdog.

It’s never PC to even hint that anything Israel says or does is ever wrong, but Bourdain continues to make a strong case for changing the tragic reality of everyday Palestinians trapped in Gaza and the West Bank.

As I write this, Israel continues its bombing of Palestinian civilians in their homes, with virtually no hope of escape. Israel’s rationale is that every Palestinian boy playing on the beach, every patient lying helpless on a hospital operating table or in the ICU, could be a Hamas enabler and is, therefore, fair game.

Meanwhile, the world stands by, impotent in the face of such crazed blood-thirst.

By yesterday’s numbers, 695 Palestianians are dead (166 of them children, and probably more than 70% of them civilians, according to the UN).

Israel has 32 casualties. Of those, 3 were civilians, and 3 of the 29 soldiers killed were by friendly fire.

Sorry, Israel, but by NO definition on earth does such wholesale, one-sided slaughter qualify as self-defense.

We get it. Both sides’ leaders would love to wipe out each other’s people. Hamas can clearly never achieve it. But, Israel is proving that it can — and it will if someone doesn’t make it stop.

More of us need to follow Bourdain’s lead and speak up for the Palestinians who are allowed no voice. They’re dying for no good reason.

Israel, enough is enough.


Bourdain and ZPZ Finally Get Some Glory

July 15, 2014

By Karen

I seldom post about Anthony Bourdain anymore, but I’m still a fan. The man keeps his fingers in so many pies, it’s hard to keep up. I said a while ago that he’d hit critical mass and his success keeps snowballing, and there seems to be no stopping him now. We hardcore Cats Working Bourdainiacs can simply sigh and say, “We knew him when life was simple.”

Just off the top of my head, he’s got all this going in, in addition to Parts Unknown.

  • The Taste has been picked up by ABC for a third season and it’s casting now.
  • Mind of a Chef, which Tony writes for and narrates, starts its third season on PBS in September.
  • Parts Unknown has been renewed by CNN for THREE more seasons.
  • Bourdain’s planning to open a massive international street food emporium in NYC.
  • His Ecco imprint is publishing an eclectic variety of books.
  • Get Jiro! the graphic novel is getting a prequel (I’m waiting for that crime novel he’s been working on for years.)
  • Zero Point Zero is producing a new for John Walsh so he can continue to catch bad guys.
  • Tony has taken up MMA and trains at Ottavia’s studio.
  • Daughter Ariane turned 7 in April (seems like only yesterday he posed for a calendar holding her in one hand like a football).

Variety reported in May that Parts Unknown Season 3 initial ratings were down, but that didn’t prevent the recognitions from rolling in.

In May alone, Tony won a Voices of Courage and Conscience in media award by the Muslim Public Affairs Council for Parts Unknown Palestine. Here’s his acceptance speech.

Then Parts Unknown won a Peabody Award. Here’s a video of Tony talking about success.

This month, Tony and his ZPZ team got SEVEN Emmy nominations. Here are the categories and who he’s up against, in order by which I’m most eager to see him win…

Outstanding Writing for Nonfiction Programming

  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
  • COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey
  • JFK (American Experience)
  • The World Wars
  • Years of Living Dangerously

Outstanding Informational Series or Special

  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
  • Inside the Actors Studio
  • The Writers’ Room
  • Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman
  • Vice

OK, this next one has me scratching my head, but Tony’s long overdue for personal Emmy recognition, so I hope he gets it…

Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program

  • Anthony Bourdain, Host, The Taste
  • Betty White, Host, Off Their Rockers
  • Tom Bergeron, Host, Dancing With The Stars
  • Jane Lynch, Host, Hollywood Game Night
  • Heidi Klum & Tim Gunn, Co-Hosts, Project Runway
  • Cat Deeley, Host, So You Think You Can Dance

And the rest are for the ZPZ team…

Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming

  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown Punjab
  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown Tokyo
  • COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey
  • The Square
  • Vice

Outstanding Picture Editing for Nonfiction Programming

  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown Tokyo
  • American Masters
  • COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey
  • The Sixties: The Assassination of President Kennedy
  • The Square

Outstanding Sound Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single Camera)

  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown Punjab
  • COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey
  • The Amazing Race
  • The World Wars
  • Vice

Outstanding Sound Mixing for Nonfiction Programming

  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown Tokyo
  • American Masters
  • COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey
  • Deadliest Catch
  • The Amazing Race

BONUS: Here’s an interesting interview Tony did with Smithsonian Magazine in June (and you know I don’t say that unless it covers some new ground).

Cats Working gives Tony three tails up and has all paws crossed for an Emmy sweep this year. There are two ceremonies, August 16 for Creative Arts, and August 25 for Primetime, and I’m not sure which will be his (maybe both).

Good luck, Bourdain. You’ve earned it!


Let Hobby Lobby Hypocrisy Spell Bankruptcy

July 3, 2014

By Karen

The Supreme Court’s reliable misogynists stomped way over the line this time by giving national crafts chain Hobby Lobby the OK to impose its religious beliefs on its employees. No wait, not ALL its employees. Just the ones who don’t want to be pregnant every time they have sex.

It seems Hobby Lobby’s owners are good Christians and don’t believe in certain forms of contraception (morning-after pills and IUDs). However, they DO believe in profiting from these products by investing their employees’ retirement funds in the Big Pharma companies that make them.

Personally, I don’t think the Supreme Court went far enough. Once the 4 dissenting justices (Sotomayor, Kagan, Ginsberg, and Breyer) saw they couldn’t preserve women’s reproductive insurance coverage at Hobby Lobby, they should have argued for a fair ruling that extends to reproductive options for Hobby Lobby’s males — no more Viagra, Cialis, or vasectomy coverage.

The Supreme Court seems to take the founding principle that “all men are created equal” literally and not apply it to women. If we could somehow make that statement gender-neutral and these men knew their own rights would vanish every time they disenfranchised women, I bet men would suddenly have a lot fewer “deeply held religious beliefs.”

Companies are NOT churches, and when they’re allowed to act on Christian beliefs — or Jewish, Muslim, or other faiths — everybody but the males at the top ends up being inferior and undeserving of equal rights.

And that’s exactly the slippery slope the Supreme Court has left us on.

Hobby Lobby thinks it won this battle. But Cats Working stands squarely with actor George Takei and many others in calling for a boycott. Hobby Lobby must lose its war on women as a warning to corporate America, and our best ammunition is Chapter 7 bankruptcy.


Why We Can’t Fix Iraq

June 25, 2014

By Cole

ISIS is having a blast rampaging through Iraq, seizing buildings and oil fields, and showing everybody what badass al-Qaeda rejects they are.

But what will they do with Iraq once they’ve got it? When they realize how tedious running a country is, will they decide to stick with their strength and go off to conquer the next weakest link?

The Iraqi government would love for the U.S. to swoop in and kick ISIS’ butt so Iraq’s so-called leaders can keep their own skirts clean and their money in the bank. And why not? We’ve been willing before to pour limitless blood and money down that rat hole.

But this is the same government that wanted us completely OUT in 2011 and forced Bush to agree, leaving that clean-up job for Obama so Dick Cheney can now blame Obama for doing it.

Sadly, it’s the innocent Iraqi people who pay for our stupidity. Saddam Hussein understood Iraq better than that useless turd we left in the punchbowl, Nouri al-Maliki. We have only ourselves to blame for giving ISIS a reason to exist.

We abhor Koran-misquoting nuts who grasp at any flimsy reason to start “holy” wars, yet we tolerate our own Bible-misquoting nuts who can walk down almost any American street armed to the teeth, blow away innocent people on deluded pretenses, and then walk free to do it again.

“Gun rights” is our euphemism for terrorism in the U.S., and it’s legal. We’ll even defend people’s right to commit it on a mass scale. So what right have we to claim moral superiority over ISIS or any other terrorists?

Hell, we give national face time to blood-thirsty lunatics like Cheney, who scream the loudest for war every time people in the Middle East start killing each other over silly stuff, just like we do here, as if THEY’RE the only ones with a problem.

So, as a token, 300 of our soldiers are being sent back into harm’s way to play Dear Abby in combat boots, dispensing priceless “advice” to the American-trained Iraqi army, like…

“Keep your clothes on. No war was ever won by soldiers running away in their skivvies.”

“When ISIS attacks, instead of giving them your gun, aim it at them and pull the trigger.”

I say, Iran is much better situated and equipped to sort out the Iraq mess. We should leave it alone. America needs to gets its own house in order before it can preach peace to the Middle East. Our hypocrisy just makes things worse.


Cantor’s Pride Leads to His Fall

June 11, 2014

By Karen

It’s a joyous day in Virginia. After 14 years in office, our 7th District Republican congressman and House majority leader Eric Cantor LOST the primary to a tea party elected-office newbie named David Brat — by 11 points.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch headline screamed: CANTOR OUT.

In my county, Cantor lost by about 22 points (5,924 to 7,226). My vote was one of them.

OK, I confess. I pulled a cross-over. Yesterday I boldly walked through the valley of the gun-loving bigots (who were all jovial and friendly, I might add) to vote for Brat in the hope our Democratic contender could easily defeat him.

In Virginia you don’t have to claim a party affiliation. Democrats have no primary this year because our candidate was sort of drafted because nobody wanted to run against Cantor, so why not mess with the Republicans?

Contrary to the simplistic rationales TV talking heads are spouting for this “shocking” and “historic” upset, there were probably 3 main factors in play…

1. Cantor’s constituents shared his conceit that he was invincible, and didn’t bother to vote.

2. Democrats like me got strategic and voted for a Republican we may beat.

3. The 7th District just made a sharp right turn toward BatShitCrazyville.

Cantor has only himself to blame for his downfall. For years he’s presided over a sprawling, spotty district with an almost hand-picked conservative majority. He’s played gerrymandering to the hilt.

But this made Cantor cocky. Too cocky.

Leading up to the primary, Cantor refused to lower himself to debate Brat. His campaign spent a bundle on TV and print to spew the lie that Brat’s a liberal.

It became an unseemly display of a lavishly-funded Washington fat-cat squashing the underdog like a bug, with utter disregard for the truth. Possibly, it disgusted even diehard Cantor supporters. That, coupled with Cantor’s inability to do anything in DC except waste taxpayer dollars on umpteen futile votes to repeal Obamacare and find creative ways to feather his own nest and nurture his political ambitions, spelled defeat.

Cantor himself was so blinded by hubris, I don’t think he saw it coming until the numbers rolled in last night.

Brat will run against Jack Trammell. They’re both new to elected office, both professors at Randolph-Macon College, Brat in economics, Trammell in sociology.

Brat’s running on an anti-immigration reform and anti-Obamacare platform. Bottom line: he staunchly stands on the wrong side of history, which plays well in BatShitCrazyville.

But I think Trammell has a fair shot at winning and joining Virginia’s two Democratic senators in DC.

So, Virginia is losing a high-profile position in Congress, but Eric Cantor was a disgrace in it and it’s good riddance. We’re better off starting over.


Is Bergdahl Worth It?

June 5, 2014

By Cole

Most people love movies where the hero looks doomed until the U.S. cavalry charges over the hill and saves him. Such relief was the first reaction to hearing Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was being rescued from 5 years as a Taliban POW in Afghanistan…

…Until we learned we were swapping 5 terrorists at Guantánamo for him and Congress wasn’t told. Of course, we all know how that would have played out. Congress would rather let a million Bergdahls rot in Afghanistan than cooperate with Obama.

But then circumstances of Bergdahl’s capture began trickling out from soldiers who were there, like former Army captain Nathan Bethea, who believes Bergdahl deserted, and claims the rest of the troops were ordered not to talk about it.

And we heard that Bergdahl first shipped his personal belongings home, then wrote a note before he disappeared stating he was off “to start a new life” and left behind all his Army-issued protective gear. And he wasn’t lost on a night patrol, but deliberately left the base and made himself easy pickings for the Taliban.

And it’s possible that a bunch of soldiers doing their jobs were killed directly or indirectly as a result of Bergdahl’s actions and the subsequent search, but that’s yet to be confirmed.

And, bizarrely, Bergdahl got promoted to sergeant while he was missing, even though his superiors knew the fishiness of his disappearance. That was government bureaucracy at its finest.

On one paw, I’m proud of our commitment to bring home all American troops, even the crazies and the cowards. If they were bad soldiers, we can take comfort in the fact that the VA will treat them like dirt for the rest of their lives, or even let them die for want of medical care. What goes around…

On the other paw, I fear Bergdahl will become Obama’s good deed that doesn’t go unpunished when the freed terrorists shortly resume their quest to wipe out Americans — now with a REAL axe to grind against us.

Bergdahl remains in Germany being treated like a delicate flower, too physically and emotionally fragile to answer any questions about how or why the hell he got himself captured. It’s the American way to give him plenty of time to concoct a great story for the talk show rounds — you know they’re coming.

The cynical part of me wonders about the White House’s timing. Was Bergdahl meant to “Wag the Dog” and deflect attention from the VA mess?

Or was Obama’s intent to create another “We Got bin Laden!” moment by rescuing a hero? But like most everything Obama touches these days, it backfired because his minions didn’t do their homework and left Obama wiping egg off his face — yet again.

And this cat questions the wisdom of humans who, in the face of someone’s feckless disregard for their own safety — be it a troop or a tourist — decide to unmake the bed these fools have chosen to lie in and go to extraordinary means and expense to rescue them.

Is it worth it? I have no answer.


Progressive Insurance Responds on Snapshot

June 2, 2014

By Karen

In March, I told you about driving around with Progressive Insurance’s Snapshot® device in my car, being monitored for 30 days, only to qualify for no discount on car insurance.

I snail-mailed the link to that post to Progressive’s president and CEO, Glenn Renwick. As you might expect, my letter was kicked to the bottom of the org chart to a “consumer relations specialist” I’ll call Susan.

Susan filled a page with boilerplate babble that didn’t address my concerns, which were:

1. Why does Progressive collect information they claim not to need?

2. What does it take to qualify for a discount if driving only about 50 non-rush-hour daylight miles total, a few days a week, doesn’t?

Susan opened with…

I’m writing on behalf of Glenn Renwick… Thank you for your letter and for taking the time to share your concerns.

Off to a great start, addressing my “concerns” with the usual empty corporate yada yada yada.

She went on to non-explain…

When you sign up to test drive our Snapshot® program, we display rapid acceleration in the overview of your driving habits, but it isn’t used in the calculation of your discount. We also don’t factor turns into our calculation.

She utterly failed to address WHY Progressive collects information it doesn’t need.

Finally, she got personal…

Snapshot® considers overall driving habits including miles driven, time of day, and the overall number of hard braking events. We define a hard brake as a decrease in speed of 7 mph/second. You had 25 hard breaking events within the 215 miles you drove during your 30 day trial. Your results didn’t yield a discount in our Snapshot® program. While we encourage our customers and potential customers to try the Snapshot® program, we don’t guarantee a discount.

She failed to acknowledge how seldom and little I drove, and that my braking behavior resulted in my not hitting anything. With Progressive, stopping for ANY reason must constitute bad driving.

She closed with…

I’m sorry for any frustration you’ve experienced… and gave her phone number in case I “have questions.”

“ANY frustration?” Didn’t my letter to the CEO give them a HINT?

This pathetic non-response didn’t resolve anything, and I stand by my belief that Progressive’s discount program is a sham, and anyone would do well to avoid it, if only to dodge the incessant online advertising it generates.


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