Tuesday, March 31, 2009
I've been debating with myself regarding the purchase of an eBook reader and I think I just lost. Or won. Either way, I'm not buying one in the foreseeable future. Until I can freely give my eBook away to a friend, just as I would the printed version, there doesn't seem to be much value to an eBook. I'm not against rewarding authors for their talents, I just want the eBook I buy to behave like a real book. What's wrong with that?
Sony comes close with their version of a reader as they allow you to register 5 names for you to freely distribute copies to. And what do you do if you have 6 friends? I suppose you could create a book circle that would solve that problem.
And then I did a quick search of the EBook dot com website and found that buying eBooks is a lot more complicated than going to the library. And expensive. Here's the specifications for a featured book (A book I checked out at the library last year) and they want $8 for it.
This is an especially good column, written about the character of Reagan that I frequently forget in my blanket disapproval of the man. I should try more often to remember that he said these words ...
And I am going to confront some of my conservative friends with these words and ask them who said them. Should be fun!
Monday, March 30, 2009
I would bet that Fox News has a locker room full of wacko's like this that they can trot out any time they feel their ratings slipping.
Why would you watch this instead of news, real news?
Sign me; Baffled
"President Barack Obama said Monday his administration won't let the struggling U.S. auto industry 'simply vanish'"
I'm sorry, but that's really easy to say. It's a 'duh' moment. The All American automobile industry vanished years ago; the industry we have now is multi-national and will certainly remain here as a multi-national company, only the players names will change. GM, the name, will be owned by someone else. Chrysler is already far removed from the Walter P. Chrysler family and can be sold again..for the 4th or 5th time; I'm not keeping count.
Think about it...why would they close the factories? America buys cars. Lots of them!
Let's see, two trillion x 2,000 pounds (a ton) equals...hold on, I'm doing the math, 2 trillion x 2,000, carry a whole bunch of zeroes. I came up with 4 gazillion. How about you?
In my wanderings on the 'internets' I found a blogger named "Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!)". He has at least 4 blogs and all are worth reading. For the thoughts expressed and not the language he uses to express those thoughts.
What's with those obviously bright people who think they have to mutter an obscenity with every other sentence? It's not the obscenity itself; gee, I'm almost 69 years old and I've heard just about every one of them. They don't shock me at all. In fact, I doubt that they shock anyone; so why use them? They are simply juvenile and using them is a bad habit. Like smoking or spitting.
I'm going to continue reading his stuff anyway because he writes about some things of interest to me. And because I found this quote on one of his blogs… The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it. -- G.B. Shaw
I gotta love a fellow cynic!
A link to one of his blogs… you can find the rest from there.
These two bloggers, Diane and Ruth, spend a lot of time doing research for their postings. A lot more than I'm willing or able to do. And their work is always good; and relevant. This post from Sunday is a great example...
I've been reading the book, The Gospel According to Jesus Christ by José Saramago. The style he uses takes a while to get used to, but now I find it quite compelling. So this morning I decided to look on-line for some more information about the author, other than the blurbs on the book jacket. I was surprised to find that he had won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998. I must have been asleep in 1998. And I found this…
Saramago has been a member of the Portuguese Communist Party since 1969, as well as an atheist and self-described pessimist. The first two don't bother me, but his being a pessimist can create some tension for me. I'm a cynic and that's often mistaken for being a pessimist, which I'm not. So perhaps he really is a cynic after all. I would like to think that he is.
And some more reading revealed that Catholics and Jews are given official sanction to hate this author. In fact, he had to leave his native Portugal because the Catholic government of Portugal became quite oppressive concerning his books and he now lives on the Canary Islands, a part of Spain.
I'm a christian and I have always found it strange that Official Christian denominations find it necessary to defend and protect God. Am I missing something here? My God both created and stands outside the universe. That's big! He, or She, is all knowing and all loving. Why would He or She need to be protected? Or…is it that 'thinking' needs to be curtailed as it might somehow affect the Official Church? Believers only! No thinking allowed!
Life goes on. And I'm awake and vertical once more. That's always good. And the national news is pretty good as well, with President Obama being very firm with the companies that we now own, GM and Chrysler. I can only hope that he takes the same approach with the failed banks that we own. It's time to clean house. Does that sound like socialism? I hope so.
Yesterday I found these two disparate quotations and just have to share them here.
The denunciation of the young is a necessary part of the hygiene of older people, and greatly assists in the circulation of their blood.
- Logan Pearsall Smith
I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.
- Thomas Jefferson
The last one is the more relevant while the first is simply fun. And the two together gave me a chance to use the Recycled Word of the Day, Disparate. A great word and it can replace all sorts of modern words.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
"Fresno, which the Brookings Institution ranked in 2005 as the American city with the greatest concentration of poverty, is far from the only place where people are resorting to life in makeshift abodes."
Interesting article for me as I remember a time when Fresno was the wealthiest city in the state...more wealth was concentrated in Fresno than in Beverly Hills. Why? The answer was agriculture. No, it wasn't the workers with all of that wealth, it was the farmers and ranchers. I don't doubt that it's still the same... Agriculture grows poverty.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
(Free registration required) "To speak of “Christians of color” is to buy into that discourse, because it assumes that we will know that this is a reference to people who are not white. But white is a color, it is not the measure of normalcy, and others are not to be judged in relation to that “whiteness.”
So well said!
Isn't this the same guy that was so irritated about a "Holocaust denier' just a few weeks ago?
The power of Facebook!
Browsing Time Goes By this morning and I found a link to a Life Expectancy exam and I took it, of course. The good news is that I can reasonably expect to live until the age of 82. The bad news is that's only 14 years from now. So let's go back to the 'good news'; I think I have my mother's genes and that side tends towards longevity, with my grandmother living till she was 93 and my mother, with her terrible health habits, living to the age of 87. The exam doesn't take genetics into account when calculating so I'm adding 6 years to that number. That makes it an even 20 years from now and I like even numbers, even though I am somewhat odd.
I've been doing the Facebook thing and the Twitter thing and when combined - as they can be; your tweets end up on your Profile page, which is a pretty good medium for the message and might have been approved by Marshall McLuhan himself if he were still above ground level. Of course Mr. McLuhan should now be seen as a validated prophet and a darn good one at that. Did you know he's the 'Patron Saint' of Wired magazine?
But - I'm dithering, so back to Facebook; I still think that it's an untapped source of great benefit for just about any group you can think of. Or that I can think of. I've searched some of the groups and the early adopters are already out there. Just throw some obscure word/subject into the Facebook search engine and you will probably find a group that has an interest in the subject of your search; usually small groups. So maybe we're all waiting for that perfect communication device; the one we can carry easily and one that never runs out of power and/or signal strength. And maybe we're all waiting for the many social networking groups to come up a common platform so that the whole
world can communicate, seamlessly. That's what I want to see!
Almost all members of our family are on Facebook and we could easily form a 'family only' group if we wanted, but with filters, etc, we already have a family group of sorts that also includes common friends. Some of us communicate with Facebook via Twitter from anywhere and others via cell phone and direct to Facebook. I use the old fashioned desktop computer, but only because I can't go anywhere anyway. If I were mobile again, I would probably like to use a netbook. Or something like an iPhone, if they made one for larger fingers and failing eyesight.
Last, I do volunteer work with an elder group and I'm frustrated by the fact that none, that's zero, are interested in this technology. And I know that it has the power to reduce loneliness for those that are stuck in their homes for reasons of physical decline. With Facebook used in the elder community, they could share so much! Just imagine the groups that they could form and join! And wouldn't that help to fight off depression that is so common in the aging population? It's just a thought…perhaps I'm simply dithering? Again.
Friday, March 27, 2009
It's OK, you can say 'Global Warming'. In fact, we should all get used to saying it. Your Republican friends and neighbors won't be caught saying it, but you're smart...go ahead and say it.
Something to remember...prison systems everywhere are ultimately the responsibility of the legislature. Prisons don't operate in a vacuum. Yet legislators always act as if the prisons were being run by someone they don't know and don't want to know. Someone they can blame easily...but, it's themselves!
(Legislators avoid mirrors as much as vampires do...Hmm? Do you think?)
"...foxes understand that if you want to know what's going to happen in the future, you should pay attention to what's happened before."
Ah! I think that means pay attention to history. Now go read the history on foreign occupations of Afghanistan.
Some interesting thoughts here regarding those all so important charitable contributions for tax purposes. The logic is good but I'm afraid of what would happen to many of the small and poorly funded charities. Good charities. Sure, the big names, like the Salvation Army, would probably do just as well, but how about the food bank in Anytown, USA? What I would rather see would be a revocation of tax immunity for churches and others. This would increase the tax revenues at the local levels; that's where we all live and not at the Federal level, where it can easily go astray. I'm a member of a church and I believe that we have an obligation to the community to pay our fair share. My opinion is a lonely one.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
In an addendum to the health care post below, I should mention my own experience. Our family medical group was selected because they promoted the fact that they had entered the new century and all files were electronic. When I see my doctor, I sit in the normal exam room and wait, that hasn't changed, but there is a Dell computer built into the cabinet next to the chair where I sit. And when the doctor arrives, he keys in his password and pulls up my file. Everything is in there; the latest lab reports and all of the usual doctors notes. And when he writes a prescription, he does it on the computer and I pick it up from the front desk as I leave. The prescription is legible. Did I want a copy of my lab results? Sure. He prints it for me. The only complaint I have is the fact that I want my health records so that I can post them on Google Health and I'm still waiting for my promised CD. (I need to call them again) Why Google Health? From that secure site, I can share them with any other doctor that I have to visit. I can even put them on my own jump drive and carry them with me. That's how it should be.
I found this article to be a real eye opener. Why in the world is our health care system still in the twentieth century? Millions of tons of paper being shuffled every day...and lost. Imagine all of the profit being made and your doctor still whips out his pen to write a prescription. In the twenty first century; that's now...we should be carrying our health records with us on a jump drive that is attached to our car key chain.
Another one from this website. I had one from here yesterday as well. I have this site on my RSS feeds now because there is something interesting to see everyday.
And can you imagine a skyline filled with buildings like this? Each one different. Sinuous. They could be buildings that delight the senses as they change throughout the day and from where you saw them. They wouldn't be static cubes...
I'm into my first cup of coffee, ½ caffeine coffee as that was all I could find at a reasonable price. So it's the same as tea for caffeine content and I will have to wait to become caffeine free. That will happen when I can find a cheap and tasty caffeine free coffee. Until then, it's back and forth between this and tea. And with just a little bit of caffeine in me, my brain is primed and ready.
Now all I have to do is browse the internet for awhile and see what catches my imagination and makes me think. Yesterday I said that Petulant was going to be the Recycled Word For the Day and I can say that it applies to me this morning. I am mildly petulant and after I read the news I will be very petulant. So far, every other headline has the words 'kill' or 'killed' in them. That doesn't bode well for the day. Hmmm? Should 'bode' be another recycled word? Or should I use 'portend' instead? I believe so.
And my first bit of browsing brought me to an older Economist story about the English language and how it is growing and the fact that it will have one million words in it on or before April 29th of this year. That's just a little more than a month away, so I have to get busy on this recycled word thing or I'll never be able to stem the tide.
And all of that makes me think of our insistence that everyone speak English in this country. Which is insane. And which English should all speak, the first half million words or the last? Is there an acceptable level of English speaking? Maybe it's just 175,00 words; a number that can be easily memorized. Me, I like a polylingual nation. I enjoy hearing the various languages; they are music to my ears. See, there's another one…'polylingual'. It deserves to be recycled.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
"by inventing oppression where there is none and remaking woman in man’s image, as the sexual and feminist revolutions have done, we’ve confused everyone."
My, what convoluted logic. I'm dizzy from trying to follow it!
"The governor took a controversial stand when he refused to accept $98 million in federal stimulus money to expand unemployment benefits in Louisiana, because he said it would force an unfair tax on businesses when the funding ran out.
Democrats and other critics blasted Jindal's decision, saying he was influenced by presidential ambitions. But many conservatives saw his decision as a principled stand."
It’s always a conservative 'principle' to be against the working person and for business. No surprise there!
"...every business needs revenues—and advertising, it transpires, is not going to provide enough."
This article, along with the news of even more newspapers shutting down, has me thinking... would I pay for the news? Would I pay for Facebook? Would I even need to? I agree that the news services need to be supported in some way and I might even be persuaded to subscribe to a 'good' on-line news service. But there is the rub... trying to be 'good' for everyone is an impossible task and will only cause a race to the bottom as news services compete for my dollar.
"It took us a couple of days because I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak." - PRESIDENT OBAMA, defending his decision to wait a few days before expressing anger over bonuses paid to executives of the insurance giant A.I.G.
As opposed to the last guy…
It's becoming a 'Green World' and recycling is a big part of that. Almost everything can be reused and should be if we want to conserve on energy. Even the English language. Yes, as our language ages, we should recycle it! It won't save a lot of energy, but it will be fun. And educational. Just take a look at any dictionary and you will see that the possibilities are endless.
Let it start here. Irascible; it's the 'Green' word for the day. And it's a great one! Truth be told, it's a whole lifestyle and it's one that I think I'm going to indulge myself in…not because I'm 'Green' but because I'm 68 years old and I can if I want to. Some might say that I've been irascible for years, but that was just training for the real thing. And now that I have the word out here, typed, black on white…I think it would look good as part of the title for a blog. "Irasc-Ability'? Maybe in the name of a garage band? 'Johnny and the Irascibles'?
And If you want a head start, tomorrows word is Petulant. Hmm? I think I'm on to something here…
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
"the government has an alphabet soup of agencies dedicated to protecting the rights of American workers. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, OSHA and the Family and Medical Leave Act make the need for unions far less acute."
Does the American worker feel protected? We can see how well that has worked...
It's time for unions, once again, to protect the worker, as it's proven, once again, that government cannot or will not do it.
Monday, March 23, 2009
How about this...drug tests for politicians? They're taking public money...and they certainly act like they're on drugs! Very suspicious!
One of my favorite rants...parents claim that they want to protect their children at all times, yet they allow schools to have an open campus. Hello? Why are they leaving the school in the middle of the day?
And on the same subject; privatization of Social Security, or it's abolishment. I'm sort of glad that I won't be around to see what will happen to my grandchildren when they become elders. Too sad. And what's next? Denying the vote to women? That sounds like another right wing plan!
Life goes on. And I miscalculated. It was such a nice day yesterday, though a bit windy, that I neglected to build the fire in the woodstove that I promised to do. Now it's down to 65 in the house and I need to take the chill off. This will require the services of Pacific Gas and Electric…and not for free!
I do believe that this last gasp of winter is just that; the last. The forecast is calling for sunny skies and much warmer temps for the next week. It's garden time!
And as is my habit, I read Time Goes By this morning… and I was shocked! Ronni Bennett has a post on Social Security and the war against it. I was amazed at the number of people who are quite willing to throw it away…for what? Are they convinced that all will be well when they reach retirement age? Why would they believe that? The debacle of the past year should have shown them the folly of privatization. And those leading the fight against Social Security are those who will never need it. I know the right wingnuts are trying desperately to demonize the word 'entitlement' these days and Social Security is an entitlement. You and I are 'entitled' to those benefits because we pay for them. To take them away is theft…pure and simple.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
It's 4 AM and I have made my first cup of tea and it's halfway gone. I'm also wondering whether or not I should light a fire in the wood stove. A fire for the day, or should I wait till a little bit later? I have the very last of our wood in the garage and I want to burn it before the end of this wintry period. I could start the fire about noon and that small supply might last till the next morning. OK, that's the plan.
I just heard the scratching at the window here in the study; it had to be Boo the Cat and so I went down the hall to the kitchen to let her in. She came racing in and immediately went to the small rug in front of the wood stove, where she flopped down onto her side so that I could pet her and rub her belly. A very needy cat and she won't let me go till her ears and chin have been stroked sufficiently. Now I have my second cup of tea and Boo the Cat is now pondering the important things of life, such as; where should she sleep this morning? For the next 8 hours. The couch or the chair? My guess? The couch, where we have some blankets for her. Gad! What am I saying? When did I become a slave to my cat?
It's time for that third cup of tea. I think it's a good thing that I have given up coffee. I am sure that with all of the other medications I'm taking these days, the caffeine could be a problem.
Now, from the on-line charts…coffee used to give me somewhere in the range of 115-175 mgs of caffeine per cup while imported tea is only 60 mgs. American tea is 40 mgs? OK, now I'm curious; I thought American tea companies used imported tea leaves. Are there any tea plantations in America? Picking tea leaves has to be the most labor intensive occupations around and I can't think of a suitable place on the North American continent to grow tea trees. I could be wrong.
There is a cash register sitting on the table in the family room and it's my task to program the darn thing. I was the purchasing agent on this for the our local thrift store; run for the support of the Glenn County Seniors. But…I haven't used a cash register since I was 18 and working as a clerk in a liquor store. And that machine was imposing! It was at least 2'+ high (I couldn't see over the top of it) and had 3 or 4 drawers plus an amazing array of keys to push. Pushing the keys would cause black on white numbers to pop up in a window that spanned the top of the register; displaying the cost of the booze I was selling. This register I'm contemplating now, made by Sharp, is quite small and makes very little noise. And it can be programmed by linking it to my computer with a USB cable, It also has a space for an SD flash memory card which can be used to transfer the data to QuickBooks accounting software. Some other good news is the fact that Sharp has all of the instruction manuals on-line and I just downloaded the correct manual in pdf format. I won't have to struggle to read the tiny print in the actual manual that came in the box.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
I was reading the last chapter of Thomas Friedman's book, Hot, Flat and Crowded and noted two different but shocking facts; one, a solar panel manufacturer in Europe is going to be doing all of the engineering and development in Europe and is outsourcing the assembly work to America because of the lower pay. An engineer said, "You are the new 'India'". Two, the energy sector in America, that's the power companies…spend less than 1% of revenue for research and development. All other industries spend between 8% and 10%.
And last, despite what Democrats and Republicans tell us, Clean Coal is a myth. Coal use will kill us. And there is no technology available that will change that fact. Clean Coal is a slogan only and means nothing in the real world. And that is why it's a crime that power companies refuse to spend money on research and development. The money they save goes to pay larger dividends to stock holders
My tendency to omit small words while typing is happening more often and is becoming a real pain. I have to read and re-read everything to make certain that I have all of the 'I's and 'the's that I had planned on. Or needed. I 'speak' all of these words in my mind. I hear them all quite clearly in my brain, but somewhere between my brain and the typing fingers, they disappear. Where do they go?
Life goes on. And did I mention that the Gaudi DVD I watched the night before was one of two? I watched the second one last night and it contains half a dozen assorted short films featuring his work. The best, so far, is a BBC special from a few years back and the colors and editing are magnificent. Plus it fills the screen from side to side.
And I learned more about Gaudi and his epic work, the Cathedral of La Familia Sagrada. Gaudi died in 1926, run over by a tram as he was heading to work that day. The work continued for just a little while but money soon ran out and the workmen departed. Then war came to Spain and later, to the whole world. His models and plans were destroyed. Now, work has resumed, but apparently it's sporadic. I imagine money and the lack of it is the cause for the delays. And there is some thought of not completing it at all, but turning it to other uses. One design, and the one I liked, was to turn the structure into a railroad station. Trains and passengers would occupy the open space between the imposing spires. The trains would enter and exit through the magnificent entries that Gaudi designed for the faithful to use. Someone noted that railroad stations were the 'Cathedrals' of the Twentieth Century…so why not?
Friday, March 20, 2009
"...the Social Security Trust Funds are projected to be solvent (and can therefore pay 100% of benefits) through the year 2041."
And that's without correcting the imbalances that exist in it today. Don't believe the lies!
Chairs. Doesn't everyone love chairs? I know my eldest is fascinated by them. She collects them and would want them all. And I believe my youngest would love the 'Farting Chair'. And my middle child? Truth be told, I think she would want the 'Farting Chair' as well... Me? I'm taking the 'Tilting Chair'.
I bought a DVD a few weeks ago, a DVD showing the works of Antonio Gaudi. And last night I sat down to watch it on the big screen; I had previewed it on the small monitor.
It was simply amazing to see the great body of work that this architect/artist had completed. The DVD had no narration and soft music accompanied you as the camera pulled you along and through the many building that he had designed. Maybe design is not the right word as that implies that he made some drawings and then the buildings were built. I can't imagine him leaving the workplace until the last stone was set in place, His presence is seen in the smallest of details and I can imagine him leaning over a workman's shoulder and pointing out where he wanted a curve or a certain color.
The details; yes, they are everywhere and I know I could spend hours, even days, looking at them if I were ever lucky enough to be in Barcelona. And they are the kind of details and shapes that make you want to reach out and touch them. Great painting will cause you to stand in awe of their beauty, but Gaudi's work invites you to touch it, and by touching, you hope that you will absorb some of the spirit that drove him to create it. I know if I were ever in Barcelona, my hands would be raw from embracing his work.
And the craftsmen; what genius! Each worker was in an orchestra directed by Gaudi and playing masterworks! Where are craftsmen like this today?
And of course my practical side, with my construction background, was whispering, how did they do that? What kind of scaffolds did they use? Was there a schedule? And who paid for these extravaganzas? But, how do you put a price on what he did?
I can't imagine any architect coming close to the stature of Gaudi. Frank Gehry would be a runner up, maybe. And Gaudi's work isn't even complete yet; his monumental La Sagrada Familia is still under construction!
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Some good news from our northern neighbor… "A crowd of shoe-throwing demonstrators gathered outside a conference centre in Canada, as Mr Bush spoke to 1,500 businessmen in his first speech since stepping down as president."
Ya know… this could catch on!
“Have the recipients of these checks no shame at all?”
All of the sound and fury coming from the House signifies...that Congress has found a cause that will get them on TV and some votes next election. Where were they when deregulation came about? And why should we believe that any of this hasty law making will produce results that can pass a constitutionality test? It smells like publicity seeking to me and I wouldn't be surprised if it was all overturned and forgotten after the TV lights are turned off.
Sure, I'm just as outraged as the next person about the AIG bonuses…but I do get a moment of chuckles when I read about the 'outrage' of our legislators. They are so happy to be out of the spotlight for being idiots, that they fall all over themselves as they search for a television camera to be 'outraged' in front of.
All of which reminded me of the story I read regarding the 'official stance' on immigration reform. Which is to put the illegal immigrant at the back of the line and fine them heavily. Oh, yes...they have to learn English; why, I have no idea. And it's the heavy fine that bothers me the most. Would that be the same heavy fine that they apply to the businesses that attract and hire the illegals? Must not be, because that never happens.
I was reading the story about AIG and the possible return of 1/2 of the money given in bonuses. Do we need to haggle here? How about 5/8's of the money? No? Then perhaps we could look at 7/16's? Let's get right to the bottom line instead. It's not negotiable! Return it all, you crooks!
"'I know Washington's all in a tizzy, and everybody's pointing fingers at each other and saying, 'It's their fault, the Democrats' fault, the Republicans' fault.' Listen, I'll take responsibility. I'm the president.'"
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
I was a union member for many years. I have a union pension. A pension that wasn't stolen or negotiated away. I have a house and a car and that is because I was a union member. Tell me anything negative you have heard about unions and I can prove you wrong. Unions create wealth for the middle class and that's you and me. That's where wealth should be and where it used to be. Until Reagan and his 'Voodoo Economics' came along. From the middle class, wealth 'trickles' both up and down. And that's sound economy.
I've tried. But there is no way that I can even begin to understand how anyone, living or dead, could ever believe that 'signing statements' were legal. It's so elementary; veto the bill or sign it. I don't care if you are the President, you can't interpret it for your own satisfaction. They need to be abolished so that no president is ever tempted again.
Life goes on. And this morning I'm behind in my reading and writing because Boo the Cat decided that my lap was the place she wanted to be. With her on my lap I'm restricted to mouse use only as using the keyboard would disturb her. Must not disturb the kitty! Yes, she has taken over the house. But she does help out around here, it's not all about her. She catches mice and she's my blood pressure control and pain relief. OK, I didn't have high blood pressure to begin with, but if I had…it would be lower. I can see why every elder that can should have a pet; even a goldfish. They make you smile.
OK, I've put Boo the Cat away, placed her on her other bed and now I can type. What's new? Today is the last day of publication for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Seattle becomes a one newspaper city. That's a bad thing. And our friends, he's a columnist for the PI, face an uncertain future. Who knew that newspapers would be failing in this century? As much as I dislike the way newspapers are brought to me; late, wet or never, I have always liked the feel of a newspaper in my hands. Whenever I go to Chico and have spare time for a cup of tea at Cal Java, I buy a copy of the Sacramento Bee or the New York Times. I must say that the Bee is worrying me, as the paper is quite narrow now and filled with full page ads for chiropractors; a definite sign of economic troubles. If only the newspapers had spent their energy embracing digital news instead of fighting it…
Another stray thought; the company I used to work for acquired a specialty contracting company (Masthead Int'l Inc.) during the last few years that I was there. Their specialty was installing printing presses for newspapers. They worked all over the world and were known for the fact that they could remove the old presses and install new presses without interrupting the flow of newsprint to the public. I wonder how that division of my old company is doing these days? The press removal side of the business is probably booming.
I just looked at the Masthead website and they have diversified. Smart move!
Monday, March 16, 2009
On a lighter note; I found this quote, The 'Net is a waste of time, and that's exactly what's right about it.- William Gibson
And that reminded me of where I used to work, the last place I worked before retirement enticed me away. We had a lot of branch offices and not all branch managers felt the same way, but the company policy allowed for unlimited usage of the internet while at work. It was determined that it was a benefit to the company for employees to browse and find out 'stuff'. If net use was abused, the employee was reminded of his/her responsibilities. End of story. No one was fired. But then again, it was an odd company, an enlightened company. One the largest construction companies in the US, always in the Top Ten. Yet it was 100% employee owned and all-union. (Union bashers should note that fact) We had a 'no sick days' policy; if you were sick, you stayed home and got better. The pay didn't stop and no days were deducted from some account. If, after a few weeks, abuse was suspected, the branch manager would visit, not telephone, and he would remind the employee that abuse of the system would hurt us all. But, if the employee was in fact, still quite ill, the manager would recommend that the employee get further treatment, maybe hospitalization. Enlightened again. Ah, the good old days!
When I become enraged I become inarticulate. I sputter and fume. Words escape me. Not so Ms Bennett, she becomes the exact opposite, she is articulate and able to describe her rage and the object of it quite well!
Life goes on. It's too dark to see if the rain has arrived. Hopefully, all of this wind and dark clouds will bring us some moisture. Those April showers that bring May flowers are just that, a shower, a spit of moisture. We really need March to deliver the goods, the heavy rain that will fill some reservoirs. Once, long ago, (1991) we had what weathermen called the March Miracle and over 7 inches of rain fell in that month. We could use another miracle.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
I saw these photos a few years ago and was amazed by them. Check them out...
(I got here by way of the Daily Dish)
"'I was clearly not happy that we, in effect, left Scooter sort of hanging in the wind,'"
No, Dick, 'Scooter' was not left hanging in the wind. 'Scooter' was guilty. As you are. (Do they actually call him Scooter in prison? Or is it "Hey, you!')
Short but revealing...
"Cheney weighed in on Rush Limbaugh’s challenge to debate President Obama.
“Hell, I’d pay to see that,” Cheney said. “I think Rush is a good man.”
You know, if I ever got any support from Dick Chen I would have to take a long hot shower. Just thinking about it gives me the creeps!
“We cannot attract and retain the best and the brightest talent to lead and staff the A.I.G. businesses — which are now being operated principally on behalf of American taxpayers — if employees believe their compensation is subject to continued and arbitrary adjustment by the U.S. Treasury,” he wrote Mr. Geithner on Saturday."
OK, everyone has read this story and commented on it and so there's no reason why I can't, after all, I'm one of the owners now.
I say, let them sue us for the money! As I remember bonuses, they were always arbitrary and you rarely got what you expected or hoped for. And you were grateful for what you got...
And that 'best and brightest' comment...I can't even begin to tell you what I think of that!
Saturday, March 14, 2009
"We have lent a huge amount of money (One Trillion Dollars) to the U.S. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried." PRIME MINISTER WEN JIABAO, of China.
China owns us. A trillion dollars is a lot of money.
“the prose is overly florid, and I regret that.”
I'm sorry David, but I can't support you either. Backing away from your well written prose because a failed Senator didn't like it doesn't show much courage. You should have stood by those words - they were right on!
Friday, March 13, 2009
Short and to the point. Well said!
Along Ms. Dickerson, I too believe that government is 'us' and not 'them'. We created it to serve us. To do that it takes money. Taxes, fair and equitable are the source for that money. And as she points out, this is 2009 and not 1809. We are a far different people than those that signed the Declaration of Independence and we live in a more complex and challenging world. So get over it...we need a bigger government.
"the total harm caused to teenagers by alcohol and tobacco is much greater than the total harm caused by harder drugs."
Education. Education. Education. Not Prison. Why is that so hard to understand?
From the book, Hot, Flat and Crowded…
Chevron's CEO, David O'Reilly sees the scope and scale of our clean energy challenge.
"There is a problem with energy literacy" O'Reilly argues. If you look at energy consumption in the world each day and convert it all into oil equivalent, we are consuming ten million barrels an hour – that is 420 million gallons per hour Think about that"
I was just reading about the New American Tea Party and although it sounds good on the surface…it's just more uninformed ranting. If we're going to protest to our government, we can't use slogans, or tea bags, we need facts. Fact; earmarks are not created equal. Some are necessary, but Republicans would have you believe that they are all evil. Fact; not all who lost their homes by default were greedy. Some were victims of high pressure sales tactics from the real greedy people, the mortgage brokers. Some lost their homes because they joined the huge crowd of unemployed. It's true, not all are as bright as you are and sometimes people can be conned, with disastrous results. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Does mortgage default make them bad people? Or victims? Fact; we are not the highest taxed nation. Not even close. And yes, we do need to pay higher taxes if we want the things we apparently love. But, we are also a nation where more than 70% of the corporations pay NO taxes at all. What if someone did something about that? The company I retired from did some perfectly legal shuffling and became a different type of corporation (sub-chapter S…?) and avoided paying $6 million dollars a year. Now who do you think ended up paying for that $6 million shortfall? Was it another corporation where they weren't quite as smart? Or was it you? I think it was you. And me.
But…I can see the handwriting on the wall. The slogans and ranting will win the day and intelligent discourse will fail, again.
At the same time I am reading Physics for Future Presidents. Another good book and recommended reading if you want to know the science behind some of the things that scare us…like 'dirty' bombs and radiation. You can even lose your fears!
Now I'm from the generation that grew up with 'the Bomb' and I have a well defined fear of it. You would too if you had spent a portion of your childhood crouched under your desk in school, studying the dust bunnies and dirt while awaiting the bright flash that would signify that your world was going to end. Even today, I can remember my 7th grade classroom and the south wall of that room was all glass; glass that I knew was going to shatter and come flying across the room, cutting and killing us. In my mind I can see Mrs. Burt, my teacher, silhouetted against that south wall with a light brighter than the sun behind her.
Life goes on. And I'm still reading Hot, Flat and Crowded by Thomas Friedman. I'm trying to think of why I need to buy this book; I really want to. Or should I just keep checking it out of the library every chance I get? But, no…that still wouldn't allow me to mark the book up with underlining and flags on every other page. It's one of those books that invites marking as it's filled with great amounts of important data. Stuff you didn't know before. In fact, one of the previous readers has marked up the copy I'm reading, putting small check marks next to significant passages (in pencil). It seems they became tired of all that marking as the check marks disappear after the 22nd page.
Here is a quote I found in the book, one that I really enjoyed. The author is unknown…
"If all you ever do is all you've ever done, then all you'll ever get is all you ever got."
This was in reference to how we treat our environment and how we need to come up with a 'real' plan to modify what we are doing to that environment.
Mr. Friedman points out what should be obvious; the power brokers of the world have politicized all attempts to protect our environment. It has become a case of politics versus science and politics seems to be winning. Which means that we, the people, are losing. You need to read the book.
Here's an excerpt; not the best but it was the only one I could find.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
When the layoffs come, that would be the time for the rest of the teachers to walk out in sympathy and solidarity. Empty the schools and then ask the legislature to substitute.
From the Daily Mirror...
Should I be upset? I watched last week as a sign company replaced the old Bank of America signage on our local bank, replacing it with a new and improved Bank of America sign. Why? I didn't use to feel this way. I didn't care at all about the Bank of America, I'm a US Bank customer, but now I feel a sense of 'ownership' in this particular bank and I don't think we need new signs! (Please don't tell me they changed their stationery…)
Yes, this is how nurses looked not too long ago. When I was a Navy Hospital Corpsman, this was pretty much the Uniform of the Day for a nurse. And you used to be able to tell what nursing school they had graduated from by the stripe on the hat they wore. Now they wear pajamas...boring.
(I know...they have no stripes on their hats. Perhaps they haven't graduated?)
I had one of those random memories yesterday. The name Alcide 'Slow Drag' Pavageau came floating by and I grabbed it. Then the rest of the memories fell into place. Alcide was a sideman with George Lewis in the Bunk Johnson Jazz band and his good friend. In the 50's the band became George Lewis's when Bunk retired and I have a George Lewis album from that time.
I became interested in Lewis because of my friendship with a fellow student, Mike Buffett. We were still in high school but had plans to work our way to New Orleans where Mike could perfect his own clarinet skills and I would do whatever…I think art of some kind was somewhere in my muddled plans. And the two of us had become fascinated by New Orleans because Mike's older brother, Richard, had spent a year there, painting jazz musicians…but wait…
Yes, I'm a fan. Have been for years. Used Google back when no one had heard of them and introduced them to our IT department. But now I am in a quandary. I am also a Skype fan. Same story; introduced it to my fellow instructors many years ago. But I can't get my immediate or extended family to use it...perhaps Google can make it 'mainstream' and they will adopt it.
I would love to see AT&T join the Dodo bird in extinction!
Browsing the blogs this morning as usual and saw another good post from Cab Drollery, all about the actions of the Orange County Board of Supervisors. I was drawn to the post because we once lived in Orange County; a brief time, maybe 3 years? Anyway, I was apolitical at the time and didn't have the time or inclination to notice the Supervisors. Yes, I did know that Orange County was home to a lot of right wingnuts/conservatives but I assumed that they would disappear when the region filled with more educated citizens. I was wrong. Instead, the region filled with gated communities and we soon recognized that gate as a symbol of all that was wrong with Orange County. Conservatives don't like people. Other people. Different people. And I am so glad we left!
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
I'm miffed. I like that. It sounds…so, so right! So much so that I'm creating The Society to Return Miffed to its Proper Place in the English Language. Or the TSTRMTIPPITEL. That's because I'm really Miffed whenever I hear people use PO'd or pissed when they really mean Miffed. Those others are such inelegant and plebian words. Not worthy of us at all… so join me in being Miffed. It's a movement!
"'This country we love was born out of civil disobedience,'"
Get used to it... as the depression deepens, we will see the police being used (illegally) to halt public discourse more and more often. Shame on them!
The more time I spend dealing with the health care system the more perplexed I become. Yet I'm dealing with it from a position of relative safety; we have Medicare plus our supplemental insurance and so far all is well. Bills are paid and co-pays are manageable. So, if 'economy of scale' has any bearing on the cost of health care, and it should, extending Medicare to ALL of the citizens would result in lower health care costs for all. Yikes! But that would be socialized medicine! And what's wrong with that? We already have socialized fire protection and police protection. We have socialized schools…so why not socialized medicine?
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
After thinking about it for at least a minute, I have decided that all my writing is therapeutic. Including my blogs. None should be taken too seriously; it's just a scribbling, a recap of how I was feeling at a point in time. It's good for me and it clears my head and that's all it has to do. I think most bloggers feel this way…those that don't are tedious.
I have been adding to my 'Blogs I Read' list once again. I now have 56 listed over there on the right hand side. I wonder how far it will go? And when will the list become so large that I won't be able to read all of them. Right now I am finding it difficult to get to all of them. So many blogs and so little time!
What's going on? The early morning quiet has been disturbed twice now by the sound of an airplane, low and loud. Although the local airport, Haig Field, is only a mile away, we rarely hear any planes. Besides, the field probably doesn't get more than half a dozen flights a day and we're talking about single engine private aircraft. And…it's dark outside and it sounds like a plane making an approach to land. (I guess you know you live in a small town when you can waste 74 words on the airplane you just heard. But…what is he doing?)
Monday, March 9, 2009
I suppose 'half a loaf is better than...'. NO, it's still plain wrong!
Signing statements are illegal, illegal and illegal and I'm not going to be happy till they are gone. For someone to opine that they are legal is to believe that a 'King's X' is legal as well. Do we have to have a mirror in place at signing ceremonies so that we can see if the president has his fingers crossed?
Life goes on. And it's chilly out there this morning; with a wind speed of 19 mph, the temp is right around 31degrees. So I'm putting another log on the fire. And speaking of logs; I think I have enough wood left for another 3 days of heating and then it's all over till next season.
It has become much more difficult to post anything coherent regarding the news these days, as the news has become a progression of one gloomy story after another. At least that's the way it feels at this early hour. I think I need to regroup and rethink. Back to the drawing board!
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Plain talk from the President… "Look, I wish I had the luxury of just dealing with a modest recession or just dealing with health care or just dealing with energy or just dealing with Iraq or just dealing with Afghanistan. I don't have that luxury, and I don't think the American people do either."
He forgot to mention having to deal with reluctant Republicans. How about recalcitrant Republicans? Yeah, recalcitrant is a better word for them…
Life goes on. It's the first day of the Daylight Savings Season and so the first thing I have to do this morning is change all of the clocks. These are the same clocks we reset last week when the power failed for a minute. Maybe I should just leave them alone this year? They will be correct again in the fall and I can do the math in my head. The clock says 2 – it's really 3. No big deal. Or, maybe we have too many clocks? We could throw them all away, or sell them and just use the one on the computer; the one clock that knows what time it really is, 24/7.
The second thing I have to do is to let Boo the Cat in and throw another log on the fire. Grab the second cup of tea while I'm at it. And I should take a moment to appreciate the bright moonlight that is illuminating our corner of the world. I remember there being some talk about creating a huge artificial moon that would hang high above us in geosynchronous orbit, illuminating a single continent every night; ours. I like that idea! Just think of all the new songs that would have to be written, because we couldn't call it the 'moon', we would have to come up with a name for it. Something that didn't rhyme with June or Spoon.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Interesting...I was wandering around this morning when this ad caught my eye. I don't even remember where I was at the time, which is pretty much normal for me. Anyway, I kept thinking about that little 'Certified Christian' stamp. It reminded me of a USDA stamp for some reason. Do they have Certified Buddhists stamps? Muslim? And of course, where does the stamp go?
Friday, March 6, 2009
Good story... I wasn't there for last one, but I was there for some of the first ones, starting in 1956. This was back in the day when amateurs ruled the sport and it didn't take a suitcase full of money to compete. You could tweak your car a little and go out on Saturday morning to race; and race all day!
"Paradoxically, the more outrageous the claim, the more apt we are to assume there must be some truth to it. Just as some banks and insurance companies are apparently 'too big to fail,' some claims from those with political power seem to strike us as 'too big to disbelieve.' 'That seems so outrageous it must be right,' we tell ourselves. 'The important people keep saying it -- they must know something I don't know.'"
Cynicism is power. Use it!
What I found interesting here were the constant references to the ratings. So, if I understand it correctly, the ratings and not the story are really what matter? Amazing! Really; I'm just amazed that people will listen to entertainers with no credentials and think that they are somehow wise because they have a camera focused on them. Don't the viewers and listeners have any sense of self worth? Aren't they willing to do their own research? Sad.
Life goes on. I'm up a little bit later and I suppose that is a good thing. And it's colder outside; that might have made for better sleeping. The house is warm enough, 66 here in the study while it's 71 in the hallway; outside it's 34 and falling. The stove heats the family room best and that's where Boo the Cat has decided to make her headquarters this morning. I will have to run the fan for just a little while to distribute the heat to the rest of the house.
It appears that Facebook is evolving once again. There were some previews available yesterday and I like the look of them. The social networking phenomena is fascinating and I enjoy seeing how the users of it force the evolution. When it's complete, if it is ever is, I'm sure it will be a far different product than was envisioned by its creators.
I particularly like the global reach of social networks and hope that a portal between competing networks can be part of the mix. I really wouldn't want to see one network dominate; that would stifle the growth. But I do think it's necessary for the networks to be able to communicate, one with the other.
If true, these people should lose their jobs. Privacy is under assault every day and when it happens illegally, it needs to be punished. And at the time it happened, Joe was simply a private citizen. ('private citizen' - is that an oxymoron?) I do believe that if he had been a celebrity at the time, his rights to privacy would have been surrendered by his own desire for fame...but that's another argument.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
"...blame a still-entrenched prejudice that psychological problems are a sign of weakness."
This is everywhere and not just in the military. "Psychological problems don't exist. Except in your head!" is the mantra and it will take a major cultural shift before humans will accept the fact that mental health is deserving of the same attention that so called physical health gets. They are actually one and the same!
OK, then let's not give them any more money. That sounds like the wise thing to do...
Straight talk and sensible... but I think, as a nation, we're addicted to the Drug Wars themselves. How else do you explain the popularity of the"Cops" TV show? Throwing those evil addicts into the slammer is such a studly thing to do! Don't even think about education as a possible way of slowing drug use; we've never tried it and we never will! Besides, we have a fortune tied up in new cop toys that are fun to use.
Thomas Friedman's current book…
"The other disturbing trend…is a "dumb as I want to be" mood that has overtaken our political elite, a mood that says we can indulge in petty red state - blue state cat fights for as long as want and can postpone shoring up our health care system and our crumbling infrastructure, postpone addressing immigration reform, postpone fixing Social Security and Medicare, and dealing comprehensively with our energy excesses and insecurity – indefinitely. The prevailing attitude on so many key issues in Washington today is "We'll get to it when we feel like getting to it and it will never catch up to us because we're America."
I think he has captured the mood quite well.
"Another party wise man, Fred Malek, told POLITICO the party now sits at its “nadir” - though he, like others, said its best hope is to wait for the economy to tarnish Obama."
Doesn't that tell you everything you need to know about party politics? Mr. Malek thinks it is best to do nothing and hope that the resulting failed economy will be blamed on Obama. I may be wrong, but I was hoping that ALL members of Congress and the Senate were working for us; the people. Apparently some are not.
"'We have a long list of people waiting to enroll in our classes and we see a great interest in learning the history, culture and language of this country, because they know that's the key to their success,' Rodríguez said."
That doesn't fit the stereotype so it must be wrong!
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
"“Americans are just genetically opposed to socialism,” said Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, a conservative advocacy group headed by Dick Armey, the former House Republican leader."
Let me see now... I'm an American and I am a socialist, so I guess I'm not opposed to it. Bad genes? And no, I'm not a upper case S kind of socialist. I don't belong to the Socialist Party, I don't care for most parties, fraternities or clubs; they're all pretty much the same, filled with people congratulating themselves on how smart they are to have joined such a group. But I do care for my fellow Americans and so I like to support things like fire departments (Socialism!) and I think that the Medicare and Social Security that I paid for should be used for those who need it. (Socialism!) And then there are public schools, including universities...I like them and I help to pay for them. (Socialist!) Did I mention the library? How about unemployment insurance? Yes, all socialism I'm afraid. Oops! Almost forgot the Army, Navy and Air Force. Yeah, they are too.
But let me tell you what I am opposed to... to those who can't think for themselves and end up repeating mindless slogans, like Mr. Kibbe.
"A 2003 study found that the median wait time for elective surgeries in Canada was a little more than four weeks, while diagnostic tests took about three (with no wait times to speak of for emergency surgeries). By contrast, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development data from 2001 found that 32 percent of American patients waited more than a month for elective surgery, and 5 percent waited more than four months."
Me? I'm currently waiting 6 weeks before I can see a surgeon and ask for a second opinion. The first opinion? Also 6 weeks. In fact, 6 weeks seems to be the standard waiting time for any of the appointments I've made during the past year; except for the family physician, who doesn't treat me but refers me to the 6 weeker's instead.
And I can't count the number of times that misinformed folks have told me ( in all sincerity) how glad they were that we didn't have the medical care problems that the Canadians and Brits have...
"...redirecting scarce resources toward genuine public safety measures such as investigating unsolved homicides, community policing, modernizing crime labs, expanding mental health services and other more effective crime prevention programs."
Moral reasons should prevail, but I'll take financial ones if it will end the practice.