Sunday, April 6, 2014

John Pinette, 1964 - 2014

I'm devastated by this news. One of my favorite comedians, and, according to those who met him, a very nice, genuinely decent human being. First Mitch Hedberg, now John Pinette. I need to stop liking people.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Bloggers Distort James Taranto's Column

This week, James Taranto took a look at consent laws:

Here's a key excerpt:

As the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education notes, at some campuses the accuser's having had one drink is sufficient to establish the defendant's guilt:

Stanford's definition of consent to sex imposes a concept that is foreign to most people's idea of adult consent and inconsistent with California state law. Stanford policy states that sexual assault occurs "when a person is incapable of giving consent. A person is legally incapable of giving consent . . . if intoxicated by drugs and/or alcohol." In other words, any sexual activity while intoxicated to any degree constitutes sexual assault. This is true even if the activity was explicitly agreed to by a person capable of making rational, reasoned decisions, and even if the partners are in an ongoing relationship or marriage.

In theory that means, as FIRE notes, that "if both parties are intoxicated during sex, they are both technically guilty of sexually assaulting each other." In practice it means that women, but not men, are absolved of responsibility by virtue of having consumed alcohol.

This has, unfortunately, led to a chorus of Internet critics, perhaps half of them lacking in comprehension skills and the other half simply intellectually dishonest, referring to Taranto as a "rape apologist" or similar slur to that.

I'm amazed that so many people can read Mr. Taranto's column and completely misconstrue (or willfully distort) what he is saying.

Mr. Taranto is NOT talking about a drunk man forcing himself onto a drunk woman who's either saying no or is passed out (which would be rape, whether it's a man doing it to a woman or a woman doing it to a man).

He IS talking about two drunk people consenting to sex -- and then later someone decides that a woman cannot consent to sex when she's drunk -- except that HE is drunk too and that technically HE cannot consent to sex, either. So, technically, they have committed rape or sexual assault against each other. That was obvious to me the first time I read it. How could so many others not get it?

Monday, February 10, 2014

...And, Other Times, Guns Can Bring an Early Gun to Crimes

Letter I had published in The Philadelphia Inquirer on February 9. Below the link is my original draft.

Enough of the exploitation of tragedy to malign the NRA (Wilkinson, Jan. 28). I'm neither an NRA member nor a gun owner, but I am certain that those who do belong in those categories are just as horrified by the deaths of innocent people as anyone else.

The Columbia Mall in Maryland, like so many sites of similar tragedies, was an official "gun-free zone." This did not deter a disturbed person from arming himself and committing murder. In fact, a similar situation in the Clackamas Mall (Portland, Ore., December 2012) came to a premature end when the gunman was confronted by a law-abiding citizen who happened to be armed (including a concealed carry permit).

This doesn't suggest that arming everyone is the answer, any more than stricter gun-control measures are. There are no easy answers, as much as we wish there to be.

Monday, March 25, 2013

BeneGram's 2013 Final Fourcasts

"Four" what it's worth, anyway...

WOMEN: Stanford, Connecticut, Baylor, Texas A&M. Baylor over UConn in the final.
MEN: Louisville, Georgetown, Indiana, Gonzaga. Indiana over Louisville in the final.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Biden Still...Still...STILL Not Telling the Whole Story on Domestic Abuse

I have again written to the Office of the Vice President of the United States to ask Vice President Biden to begin acknowledging facts on the issue of domestic abuse, and to stop pretending that this is solely a problem of men abusing women.

Indeed, more than 250 studies, reviews, and analyses indicate that women initiate (i.e. not acting in self-defense) domestic violence against men approximately as often as the reverse occurs: Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control issued a study in 2007 and found that, within heterosexual relationships in which there was non-reciprocal violence (i.e. only one partner was becoming violent), the woman was the violent party in slightly more than 70% of the cases:

The misinformation on domestic violence needs be cease, so that we can begin to help ALL victims of domestic abuse, big and small, male or female.

Stop Abuse for EVERYONE (

The Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women (

Monday, July 23, 2012

No Easy Answers to Prevent Future (Aurora) Tragedies

I'm not a member of the NRA, but I'm fairly certain none of its members were unmoved by the Aurora tragedy. The position in defense of the Second Amendment is not one of valuing some abstract Constitutional right over the lives and safety of innocent people, but rather recognizing that the only people affected by gun legislation are law-abiding citizens.

Norway has a much more stringent gun policy than the United States. That policy didn't avert the tragic mass shooting perpetrated at the camp on the island of Ut√łya, last year. That gunman was already planning on breaking the law against murder, and thus had no qualms about breaking a law against gun possession. Then we can look at the school shooting in Pearl, MS, in 1997, when Assistant Principal Joel Myrick went to his truck to retrieve a gun, which he used to subdue the assailant without even firing a shot. Lives were saved by the use of a legally owned gun.

That doesn't mean that arming every citizen is the answer, any more than stricter gun-control measures are. There are no easy answers, no matter how much we wish it were the case.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

BeneGram's 2012 Final Forecasts

Will I have my third perfect Women's Final Four (2005, 2009)? We'll see.

WOMEN: Maryland, LSU, Baylor, Stanford. Baylor over LSU in the final, 57-53.
MEN: North Carolina, Ohio State, Michigan State, Baylor. Baylor over Ohio State in the final, 76-73.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Andrew Breitbart: Fearless

I almost always take pause when someone famous passes away. My mind whirs while I begin thinking of everything (s)he did or said. It's true about people I know, too.

But this came as a shock, plain and simple. Rarely has someone this relevant, this current, gone so suddenly.

AB crammed about 120 years of guts and work and lack of fear of confrontation into 43 too-short years. Honor to him. Condolences to his family and friends.

And everyone else is going to have to step it up a notch from now on.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Little-Known Fact About Leap Year

The adjustment known as leap year goes even further than some people know. To be even more precise and keep the earth from gaining or losing too much time, every year that is a multiple of 100 but not a multiple of 400 will not be a leap year. For example, 2100, 2200, and 2300 will not have 366 days, but 2400 will.

Hope everybody made the most of today.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Two Writing Titans

Just about everyone who has a blog has Andrew A. Rooney to thank.

Yes, that Andrew A. Rooney. The one who was often caricatured as a cranky old man who griped about absolutely nothing at the end of 60 Minutes. A small fraction of those dismissing Rooney knew that he was a writer long before becoming, reluctantly, a television personality. Of his days as a war correspondent for The Stars and Stripes or his years as a newspaper columnist.

Whereas many of my fellow Gen-Xers were watching MTV and reading Mad Magazine, I was reading Andy Rooney's collections of old columns, and would occasionally envision myself commenting equally breezily on life's big questions as on life's more mundane things, bringing observations to light, and causing millions of people to think, "Yeah! I thought I was the only one to notice that..."

I would often nod my head in agreement with things Andrew A. Rooney (as he preferred to be known) wrote or said, and would shake my head when I would disagree, but such is the case for every pundit, columnist, or blogger. I imagine that many of those who would ridicule Rooney for his weekly segments on things such as cereal boxes would rush to Twitter or Facebook or [ahem] Blogspot to tell the world the great new cheese they sampled the other day at WholeFoods.

I was less familiar with the writings of Christopher Hitchens, but whatever I did happen to read of his wowed me with his command of the English language and what to do with it. Yes, one could agree or disagree with his ideas, but no one could seriously attack him for his prose. In a semi-conscious state from a hospital bed, Hitch was able to come up with far deeper thoughts than most people could on their best days.

Andrew A. Rooney was far older than Christopher Hitchens, but Rooney, like Hitchens, "retired" only out of necessity, not for a want to stop writing. With both, we get the feeling that a great practicer of a faded art was taken from us far too soon.