5150 Shorties Way

Let’s clean up some tabs here…. It’s supposed to be cold in Vegas tonight. First person to say that disproves global warning gets smacked upside the head.

It’s called “math”:  Someone notices that rent can be more than a mortgage these days. Funny thing, your landlord is entitled to a profit over paying his own mortgage!

Go ahead, opt out. They dare you: The TSA. And be sure you have an ID with your age on it if you look young.

Drink Up: Red wine seemingly increases testosterone, and reduces the amount peed away.

Musique Concrete: How Dr. Who changed music.

That leaves 1-3 hours for eating, pooping, demanding attention, and running around like a fuzzy maniac: Cats spend the rest of the time sleeping and grooming.

Defused: The latest school shooting rampage was not stopped by “a good guy with a gun.” It was stopped by a teacher talking him into laying down the weapon. Hmm.

Free Gift!: You can now play CDs you bought from Amazon from the cloud in many cases. Even if you bought them 15 years ago. Surprise!

Dave Johnson: He tends to be a bit long winded, but he’s correct.

Too Big To Fail must be Too Big To Exist: Robert Reich.

Didn’t anybody else think the headline didn’t make sense?: It turns out there was a lot more to the story of the woman fired for being too attractive.

And now back to their usual silliness: The American Academy of Pediatrics thinks it would be wonderful to have a doctor in every school. Well sure it would, particularly since I’m sure they would want that doctor to be one of their members! I’m not sure where they think these doctors are going to come from, since there is a shortage which will only get worse as Baby Boomers retire. And I’m certainly not sure where they think school districts will come up with the money. After all, average (median?) pay for a pediatrician is $156,000, and that’s one of the low salary specialties. That kind of money could pay for at least 3 teachers. Which do you think will give the district the most bang for the buck in this age of budget cuts?

Last but not least: The best time to buy almost anything.

Is that a Biblical name?

Here’s a story that made me happy and sad all at once: this week 285 girls in India were granted new names, replacing names that mean “unwanted.”  Now, I can’t imagine naming my child something like that, and I can’t even imagine allowing my relatives to name a child that. But apparently it’s common enough in India that a big ceremony was put together for these 285 girls to legally change their names. And I am glad they have that opportunity.

Unfortunately, there is precedent in the Bible. You know those kids were well adjusted too….

In Closing: many parents go online before calling a doctor; we got a really big shoe for you tonight (kinda cool, if you have room); too big to fail?; a whole bunch of stuff about OWS; “The flat tax is a fraud“; why does anybody let Santorum have a microphone?; trade-in; privatized regulation is a joke; “In other words, the growth in the amount that individuals are consuming is lower, but individuals are paying more for what they are consuming” (most of us would call that “inflation”); and a Viking boat burial.

Be aware that I’ve had a huge spam problem lately. If the spam hose continues, I will have no choice but to close to comments in a matter of days.

America Needs Jimmy Stewart

Yesterday, the Christian Science Monitor asked “If we can require driver’s ed for teens, then why not voter’s ed?” It’s a good question, but it unravels when you start to ask what would be taught in that class. If you try to educate would-be voters on any of the actual issues involved in the current polls, you’ll be accused instantly of having an agenda: talk about the truth on Social Security and you’ll be called a liberal, if not an outright socialist, for example.

This Christmas, we decided to go ahead and watch the classic movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. You probably know the story: George Bailey runs a small bank in a small town in an honest and community-responsible way, and continually butts heads with the owner of the big, regional bank. Mr. Potter — unlike modern bankers — never actually does anything illegal, but he sure does some things that aren’t entirely *ahem* Christian. Thanks to the help of a friendly Angel, George gets to see what a mess the world would be without him.

At some point it occurred to me that It’s a Wonderful Life probably ought to be required viewing for Americans. Now, granted some people in the FBI thought it was communist propaganda. They thought everything was communist propaganda. But who can watch Bedford Falls transform into Pottersville and think that they are totally alone in the world? Who can watch the mess that unregulated monopolies [accidentally] create without thinking there is some necessary reigning in of big business? Who can really say it’s a bad thing for people to look out for one another in times of need?

Then I thought a little deeper, and realized that to balance out this movie’s religious overtones you really need more Jimmy Stewart. First, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, another Frank Capra directed film, featuring a naive new Senator coming up against The Way Washington Works. Not only does this demonstrate unfortunate truths about politics, it shows a genuine filibuster, and the power of pressure from voters.

Finish out the film festival with a much later Jimmy Stewart film, Strategic Air Command — and I don’t just say that because I have a soft spot for Carswell AFB in Fort Worth. It’s another great movie with strong themes of service to country and family, showing us what our Armed Forces are supposed to be about (hint: it’s not about blowing up brown people on the other side of the globe).

There you have it: 6 hours of classic movie viewing that every American should see on an annual basis.

In Closing: the Cult of Rand; the Germans think we’re insane; scientists disagree, so let’s throw them out of the discussion; everything’s illegal; reconsidering triclosan; look what the TARP covered up (interesting picture, and interesting banner in the background); economics of contempt; on personal responsibility; on job creation and the economy (I hope this is right); great patent; come on, the guy’s got a Nobel Prize; and a laugh.

On Being a Responsible Consumer

I grew up in a household that values the power of the consumer. I have never crossed a picket line. My father refused to so much as ride in a Mercedes because of what the company did in World War 2, before he was born. I’m not sure, but I think when Mercedes bought Chrysler, he sold his 10 year old New Yorker in favor of a Ford. He had purchased it used. I have at least forgiven VW for things done over 60 years ago.

Alright then. Just about the time that Wal-Mart (mostly) rehabilitated it’s corporate image, Target got itself in hot water with the liberal/progressive communities with ill-considered campaign donations, and stayed there after some Halloween ads that were considered in poor taste by Parent-Americans. Ok, fine, looks like Wal-Mart has moved to be the lesser of two evils, at least until the other day when they “teamed up” with the Department of Homeland Security to “catch terrorists” (remember, terrorists do “suspicious” things). Clearly, no officials from the DHS have ever actually been inside a Wal-Mart.

So where am I supposed to shop? Albertsons apparently wants to get rid of unions; is it alright to shop at Smith’s or Von’s? Will it be acceptable next week? Even if I could afford to shop at Whole Foods, there’s still the scandal surrounding their purchase of Wild Oats. I could go down to the farmer’s market, but unlike those amazing markets in cities like San Francisco, there’s just not a whole lot available. This of course assumes that the vendors at my local farmer’s market aren’t practicing the exact same contemptible business practices of the worst factory farms. “Hey Mr. Farmer! You don’t mind if I drive on out to your farm and see if your workers are legal before I spend $3 on onions, do you??”

And now I’m supposed to get rid of my Amazon.com account because they decided that the rest of their clients were more important than one controversial one? Screw that!

Since I am clearly not allowed to shop anyplace convenient or close, that means I’ll be using a bunch more gas: do I buy it from the guys who polluted Alaska, the guys who poisoned the Gulf of Mexico, one of many that is stirring up Middle East unrest, or the Venezuelan “dictator”? How do I reconcile my bigger “carbon footprint” with avoiding businesses whose practices I don’t like? Do I buy the electric car from Japan, or the American one that unlocks all my doors and puts my life in danger every time I put it in park?

Things get even worse if you want to boycott products by a certain company. Let’s say for the sake of argument that Proctor and Gamble has done something you disapprove of: here’s everything you must avoid if you want to vote with your wallet! You’ll have an easier time getting by without Colgate-Palmolive’s products. If you decide you won’t give money to P&G, Colgate, or Unilever, give up any hope of cleanliness. Ever. We’ll just call you Pig-Pen. Unless you prefer “Dirty Hippie.”

And let’s not get started on banks! Even if you are willing to endure the hassle of changing banks, the only way to be sure your new bank won’t be taken over by one of the big players is to give up and bank with a “too big to fail” institution and just live with the BAMTOR Principle. It’s worse with mortgages: you can’t control who buys the note, you can’t control who your servicer is, and you may not be able to stop them from claiming you owe money even if you don’t.

So how exactly am I supposed to “vote with my wallet”?

I’m deadly serious about this. It has literally gotten to the point where I cannot avoid doing business with companies I don’t like. How can I possibly stick it to the Oligarchy when I can’t go a day and a half without giving them my money or using their products and services?

When Ted Kaczynsky starts to look sane, the nation has gone crazy.

Bed, Bath, and Way Beyond This Nonsense

Yesterday, we decided it was high time to purchase a particular item for our kitchen. And not particularly wanting to pay Williams and Sonoma prices, we headed to Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Let me begin by saying that this is not a particularly strange item. 20 years ago, any quality cook’s supply would have had probably two different models and a few accessories for it too. I’ve seen it used in both Top Chef and Hell’s Kitchen multiple times. In short, I expected this to be a quick dash in, head to the section, get one off the shelf, and be paying in a matter of moments.


The first thing we had to do was park at the sprawling complex of large specialty retailers while avoiding idiots in other vehicles.

Once in the store itself, we had to figure out where this item would be. After wandering around for a little while, we found one that would hook on to my stand mixer. Now, I like my mixer well enough, but why should I power it up when all I need is a gadget, patience, and a little elbow grease? Surely the non electric powered one was around here somewhere?

We wandered around. We found electric juicers and electric rotisserie machines that take up loads of countertop space, we found mini-keg coolers and poorly made toaster ovens, we saw silicone cake pans and handheld battery powered milk frothers. There were probably a dozen ways to make coffee. I can live without all this junk, and I bet you can too. Heck, I haven’t even had the food processor on the countertop in over 3 years. Who is buying this stuff?

However, no sign of the one thing we had come in to get. So my husband did what seemed like the only sensible thing to do: he pulled out his smart phone, went to Amazon.com, and ordered the darn thing, while we were standing in Bed Bath and Beyond. It will arrive later this week.

Maybe BB&B is the place if you need overpriced kitchen and bath crap or Need New Sheets Right Now, but for the rest of us, there is a better way to get exactly what we want for our homes. That’s why Linens and Things and The Great Indoors both failed: wrong merchandise, wrong price, and too hard to shop there.

In Closing: it turns out that grouping kids by ability levels (“tracking“) helps them learn (duh); a little song about CPR from MC Lars; obligatory health insurance reform items; big banking already had it’s shot at ruining our society, get ready for Monsanto to finish the job; contrariness is not a good foreign policy; “If you let gays marry then we’ll stop doing that serving the poor thing that Jesus told us to do!”; watch less TV and you’ll do things that burn more calories, duh; “Maybe we could fix the economy by all taking starvation wage jobs. Well not me, of course.”; banking behemoth; and dumbest business moments of 2009.