Saddest Fact in New York and Then Some Happier Links

This has been reported all over the place, but homicides are down so much in New York that right now more people kill themselves here than are murdered. About 475 people kill themselves every year and as of Friday homicides are only up to 414. I spent some time researching suicide a long time ago, (thinking I might write about it, but didn’t). The best article I read on the subject was and still is: How Not to Commit Suicide by Art Kleiner.

On a much happier note, this roundup of 2012 from Google made me tear up.

More happiness: Nasa Johnson Style, a parody of Gangnam Style. Actual astronauts and astrophysicists are dancing and singing in this video! Just try to not fall in love with all of them. It can’t be done.

And still more happiness from a great Brooklyn animator named Alisa Stern. I have to point out, Alisa made this before this years Christmas Doctor Who aired! (This will mean something to people who watch the show.)

[Video removed because the link no longer works.]

Finally, a happy New Years Eve outfit. It’s not for me, but I love it anyway. And except for the fact that it’s probably leather, that bag in the lower left. I love the color.

To the Future: I’m Sorry

I watched this TEDx Talk about climate change and for the love of God. Our lack of response to this issue is insane. Honestly, it’s criminal and unforgivable.

Why this has to be a left/right, democrat/republican issue is even more inexcusable than the way things have evolved with gun control, where at least I can see the cultural divide.

I don’t understand how people with families can sit by and do nothing. Your grandchildren are going to suffer. It’s like we don’t care about the end of the human race. I know some politicians must know this, they must be at least somewhat aware that even the few remaining scientists with more conservative positions about climate change are one-by-one accepting how bad it is, and yet they stick to their party’s platform in order to stay in office, perhaps saying to themselves, “It won’t be quite as bad as they say, and in any case we’ll rally and do something about it later.” But watch this video. The speaker addresses that line of thinking.

Good cat sign: Sometimes Finney wants to be on my lap and Bleecker is already there. Instead of going away he tries to see if he can fit somehow, without touching Bleecker. He can’t. On this occasion I picked him up so he could curl up with me without technically laying next to Bleecker. I tried to get a picture using the computer’s camera. I call this: Two Tiers of Cats.

Look at those faces. In that moment my cats were the cutest cats in the world. Every moment there’s a contest, and in that moment my cats won. Congratulations boys!

Points I’ve Been Meaning to Make

Author Dennis Lehane’s dog recently went missing and he’s been doing everything he can to find her, like posting on Facebook and offering a role in his new book to the person who locates her. Someone posted the following comment on NPR in response to the story:

“There are currently over 2600 missing children in the US, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Perhaps this author could use his clout to help search for one of them rather than his dog, notwithstanding how beloved it may be.”

First, we don’t know all the things Dennis Lehane has done in his life to help others, but that isn’t the point. There is always something more important we could be doing with our time and money, and its just so unfair and unkind to guilt someone addressing a personal crisis like this, famous or otherwise (because it’s not just the famous who are subject to comments of this sort).

People who are doing something for animals are subject to this kind of judgment most often. For instance, you never hear anyone saying to someone going on a vacation, perhaps an expensive vacation, “Well, instead of going on vacation you could have contributed that money to …” Or, “Instead of buying that tv, or stereo,” or anything at all practically, “you could have given that money to …” No one ever says that. But if I spend money for a medical procedure for my cat there are people who tell me I could be giving that money to save the lives of children, to cancer research, etc. If I contribute to any kind of animal welfare organization, (and I do contribute to other charities) it’s like I’ve allowed someone to die.

Again, no one will argue that there is always something better you can be doing for the world with your money, time, or fame if you have it. But unless you are going to apply this logic to everyone and to yourself, shut up. There are all sorts of ways to make a better world, and making this kind of judgement isn’t one of them.

Also, watch this video and tell me that animals are not worth a portion of our time and money.

I walked by this shoot in Washington Square Park. It looked like some low budget (perhaps student?) reality tv show.

Homeland Season 2 Finale Critique

I just watched the Homeland season finale, read a bunch of reviews, and here’s what I think.

What I liked: when Quinn refused to kill Brody and made sure no one else did, and all of his reasons for doing so. Such compassion and integrity. (Oh God, do I now have a crush on a trained assassin?) What I didn’t like: when all is said and done, I don’t like Brody and I’m with Saul, Carrie is the smartest and dumbest person ever. While I agree with Quinn, who hasn’t made a bad romantic choice, this is rather extreme.

That said, one of the more interesting things about Homeland is how Brody was portrayed. As many others have already pointed it, Brody is a bad guy but it isn’t all black and white. I personally think he’s definitely more bad guy (killing one of his military buddies, and then killing the Vice President with such intimate passion) but the point is the show didn’t make him a cartoon terrorist. For me the finale is a success because it sets us up to go deeply into the gray areas they have already established with this character.

If Brody really didn’t participate in that bombing, through the process of Carrie clearing his name, the show must now fully explore all those gray areas of his character and our war on terrorism. First, she must show how he became what he became. Yes, he was weakened by years of captivity and manipulated, and he’s shown weakness of character that must have been there all along, but how did we help make him the man he became? Then they must answer the question: is there any chance for redemption for Brody, beyond killing his character, which is the customary end for characters who have done something usually considered irredeemable, but are shown to be not all bad or truly remorseful. And since it would also be about redemption for us too really, the answer to that question is even more difficult and complicated.

The problem is, either Carrie is going to tell Saul what she did or he will figure it out and now Carrie is an enemy of the state, and I don’t see how that complication is going to add anything. It would be SO interesting to watch how anyone who doesn’t see the world in black and white is as demonized as the cartoon bad guys (if that is, in fact, what’s going to happen next season). To see her struggle to make a culture that is dead set against seeing the gray areas to see those gray areas would be so exciting! But if the CIA believes they have a reason for demonizing her—she aided a terrorist—it becomes a less subtle, less interesting battle for her and for me as a viewer. It would be much more compelling to watch them demonize her for being smart and having vision and then have her turn that around (hopefully), rather than for making such spectacularly bad choices in the name of love that they view her as a terrorist/accomplice. For that reason, I wish they had let Brody get away in some other way. I wish they had Carrie believe him and not kill him and just let him run out on his own.

Now she has to also prove her innocence. Maybe Quinn will be the first to come to believe her. But in the beginning, he’s going to feel responsible for all those deaths, which is going to be awful. After seeing him be so heroic, I don’t want to see him suffer! For that reason, maybe he will come after her harder than anyone else at first.

Also, Carrie doesn’t know Brody killed his friend, or killed the Vice President with such apparent conviction that this was okay. Maybe Brody had to convince himself that the Vice President was that evil it was in order to do it, (and he was no prize) but Brody is still more bad guy than good guy, which Carrie must eventually see. What then? Oh wow, I meant this to be a lot shorter review and I have to go now! I will probably have to edit this later.

Later: I wanted to add that I agree with people who say Brody is not in love with Carrie. His expressions of love are never convincing. And what was that about looking sad when she said she chose him? The writers specifically wrote in the mixed signals so it has to mean something.

My brother put Christmas lights on one of the trees uprooted by Hurricane Sandy. I wish my night shot had come out better but it didn’t.

Finney and Bleeck Update

It looks like Bleeck is not going to back-jump Finney into a drooling, shivering blob in the corner, with his paw up asking, “Have you considered meds?” Bleeck still does it (jumps on Finney’s back, wraps all his legs around Finney’s belly, clomps onto his neck and then will not let go) but he’s learning no and he’s doing it less. He’s doing everything Finney hates less, and Finney is finally getting that I understand that the kitten is insane and I’m on it, but the truth is, Finney is just mad that Bleeck is out-eviling him. The stories I could tell you about Finney (I no longer own any glassware.)

They don’t curl up together, but Bleeck wants to be wherever Finney is and Finney is tolerating it as long as Bleeck doesn’t try to curl up. Except Finney definitely has a “I’m just biding my time” expression here. “Soon this place will be back to mine, mine, all mine.”

Here, Bleeck got the lap space this time, but I’m pretty sure Finney pushed him out of it seconds after this picture was taken. Don’t feel bad for Bleeck, he gets plenty of lap time.