Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Old Man.

Kitty is sick. It's hard to tell with cats. One minute he seems OK, and the next he seems like he needs a wheelchair. I think I've said it here before, but I wish they had a 10-word vocabulary so they could communicate with us. Pain, yes, no, happy, sad -- stuff like that. It would make the chore of pet ownership a bit more tolerable.
I stress because I care, and I know he can't help himself.
I remember a similar situation when I was married. The cat was sitting in the same spot when I came home for work as he was when I left, and his food bowl was untouched. Not quite the same as now, but eerily similar. I start to worry when he doesn't eat.
The ex figured we should just let him deal with it. My reply to that sentiment was, "He can't drive himself to the doctor, so it's up to us to make that decision for him." Sometimes she was too cold-hearted for her (or my or the cat's) own good. Needless to say, I drove him to the vet.
He's losing weight which, when he was 12 pounds wasn't an issue. Now that he's more like 8 it's kind of a big deal. Of course, his not eating much contributes to his weight loss. The photo is about 5 years old. He's a skinny 18 year-old man now, and his energy waxes and wanes to the point that it's worrisome.
He has an appointment for 1:00pm on Sunday, which conflicts with the Eagles game. There are a lot of games, but only one cat. Something tells me he'd do the same for me, so we'll see what the vet says. I have to drive him there, because he can't drive himself.
Besides, I'll be home in plenty of time to catch the second half. I'm hoping that Kitty and I can sit on the sofa and watch together.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I was born during the day, but not yesterday.

After Sears posted a surprise quarterly loss, a Barron's report on August 24 stated the stock could fall another 50%. Sears Holding Corp. CEO Lampert shot back with a letter claiming the article was "inaccurate" and "biased."
Jeff Matthews of hedge fund RAM Partners says facts are facts: Shopping at Sears remains a lackluster experience, five years after Lampert bought the company and merged it with Kmart. "They've totally lost touch with the American consumer," says Matthews, who has no position in Sears stock.
Ooops. Among others who might be surprised at the downfall of Sears/K-Mart is TV loudmouth Jim Cramer, who told his viewers that Sears Holdings would be the "next Berkshire-Hathaway" and advised them (us) to invest in the stock about a year ago. Fortunately for me, I have neither the money nor the respect for Cramer to listen to his screaming.
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner, host to an ever-changing coterie of scantily-clad young women at the Playboy Mansion, has filed for divorce from the estranged wife who many people forgot he had ever married.
Hefner, 83, filed court documents last week seeking to end his marriage to former Playmate Kimberley Conrad, 47, citing irreconcilable differences.
Sure, like the difference that you might be her grandfather. Seriously. Could we think (if we thought) that a woman almost 40 years younger than a guy would marry him for anything other than his vast fortune? If that were the case, I'd be looking for 20-year old's. Shame for them I don't have fifty cents to rub together.
Though President Obama has formally accepted the apology of Joe "You lie!" Wilson, the fallout from the emotional outburst continues to ripple across the nation, even raising doubts about the Republican congressman's political future.
Ninety minutes after Obama finished his address, the South Carolina representative - who yelled out "You lie!" after the president said he had never proposed providing coverage to illegal immigrants - issued a statement explaining he "let my emotions get the best of me." According to the congressman's office, Wilson also made a personal phone call to the White House in hopes of apologizing to Obama himself, but instead had to express his apologies to gatekeeper Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.
Just like the lawyer in a jury trial that makes some strange accusation and allows the judge to "strike that from the record," this nitwit decided to scream out in public and apologize.
Give me a break.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The music racket.

People like me are called cynics. It's from the latin, cynicus: One who believes that human conduct is motivated wholly by self-interest. That's about right. The latest example comes from the money grabbers who produce music CDs. In this case, it's Apple Corps, Ltd.
There is yet another re-packaging of some 40 year-old music in the form of a 13-CD boxed set of re-mastered (and re-priced) Beatles albums. Didn't we go through this once or twice already with The Beatles catalog?
And it's only $180. In their day, the entire set of 13 vinyl LPs would have cost you around $60. I know, inflation and all, plus look how tiny the CDs are. It takes a lot of technology to put stuff in that small a package. You need a magnifying glass to find all the people on the Sgt. Pepper's cover.
Whatever happened to album art?
I'm a dinosaur who is old enough to have been through several incarnations of music formats: vinyl, 2 different kinds of tapes, CDs and mp3's. Every time a new format comes along, it's better and more sophisticated than the old one, or so they tell us ... sell us. The trouble is, I can't trade-in my old format for the new one, so I'm stuck with the old junk.
Meanwhile, these are songs that were recorded using equipment from the 1960s, on tape with hiss and noise and lots of old technology. Supposedly, they've filtered-out all of that junk to produce something that didn't exist when the original recording was made. It reminds me of those kids who drive along the road with giant sub-woofers in their cars producing sounds that aren't present on the CD. It's a speaker making its own sound. Now, we have CDs that are filtered versions of the original that sound nothing like the original.
Maybe the reason I resent the re-packaging is that it's sort of like saying, "What you had is garbage. This is better. Buy this." I'm insulted to think that what I liked sounded like crap. That's what they said about Dolby tapes and all the stereo equipment they tried to sell us 30 years ago. I can only imagine what they're going to try to sell us in another 20 years:
"Music so crisp that it actually hurts your ears! It's like a razor blade with rhythm. Buy it so you'll know what a dope you were to pay for the other 5 re-mixes."
And as long as there are new generations of music buyers who don't know any better, they'll keep digging into our pockets for fresh new money to pay for tired old music.

The halls of justice.

WASHINGTON – Americans would be fined up to $3,800 for failing to buy health insurance under a plan that circulated in Congress on Tuesday as divisions among Democrats undercut President Barack Obama's effort to regain traction on his health care overhaul.
As Obama talked strategy with Democratic leaders at the White House, the one idea that most appeals to his party's liberal base lost ground in Congress. Prospects for a government-run plan to compete with private insurers sank as a leading moderate Democrat said he could no longer support the idea.
Just so we agree, let's assume that people without health care are (a) unemployed (b) poor or (c) people with shit jobs who can't afford or aren't offered heath insurance. Agreed? Good.
So now, our government says, "Let's fine people for being poor or out of work." Nice. Sometimes I'd like to tell people I'm from Europe.
Earlier, a judge in Delaware sided with big-time sports in an effort to block gambling:
The U.S. Court of Appeals decision on sports betting will limit Delaware sports betting to a three-game bet on National Football League games. That was in keeping with a previous effort by the state to offer sports lottery games, according to a decision released by the Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.Delaware sought to widen betting to all sports and allow one-game bets in an effort to become "Las Vegas East.." The court decision was based on a federal law that limited sports betting to areas where it had previously existed, essentially giving Nevada a monopoly on such bets.
Let's get this straight, so we'll all know. The court is saying that it's OK to bet on three games but not OK to bet on one. That makes good nonsense. My guess is that it's because you have a better chance of winning one game than three. Good - now let's move on.
EUGENE, Ore. - Oregon suspended running back LeGarrette Blount on Friday for the remainder of season for punching Boise State defensive end Byron Hout.
As Boise State began celebrating on their famous blue turf, Hout yelled in Blount's face and tapped him on the shoulder pad. Before Broncos head coach Chris Petersen could pull Hout away, Blount landed a right to Hout's jaw, knocking him to his knees.
Fair enough, right? Maybe ...
Hout will not be suspended for taunting Blount. Boise State spokesman Max Corbet told The Associated Press in an e-mail that Petersen planned to spend time with Hout this week to help him learn from what happened.
The guy who threw the punch gets suspended for the season, but the guy who provoked it walks away clean. Meanwhile, Blount is suspended but ... gets to practice with the team. He can't play the games but he gets to practice. Donte Stallworth ran over a guy while drunk and was suspended by the NFL for an entire season. Michael Vick was convicted for killing dogs as part of a dog fighting operation that he funded and was suspended for 2 games.
I'm tired now.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Life goes on.

President Obama addressed the kids at school today and no schools blew up, no kids were sent home sick (at least not over the speech) and they're all at home now playing Wii or watching Entertainment Tonight while their homework sits and the plaintive cries of their teachers go virtually unheeded.
We make a big deal about such events - or at least some people do - and the ones who make a big deal out of it draw attention to something that probably would have gone unnoticed had it not been for the furor created. In other words, it was a news event because it was made into one.
Otherwise, it was another speech by the president. This time, instead of it being addressed to adults who pay taxes, it was addressed to kids who are going to be a part of the country when the rest of us are in nursing homes wiping drool off our chins.
Mostly, adults are afraid of what other adults tell their kids, and the higher up the social totem pole they are and the further from their family, the more they're afraid of it. In other words, the less influence the adult has on the kid, the more the parent is frightened of them. That's an odd behavior for people who profess to care so much about their kids - sorry - children.
They're the same people who call athletes role models and worry because some musician abuses drugs, all the while going to their games or buying their CDs because the kid likes them. I suppose, from a parent's viewpoint they don't want someone they don't know having undue influence over what their child thinks or how they behave.
Unless they're in the same political party or happen to agree with the parents' opinions. If you disagree, you're a bad influence, even though the parent might have their own self-destructive behaviors, like smoking, drinking or texting while driving. Then, the mantra becomes, "do as I say, not as I do" and the kid (sorry, child) is supposed to realize that mom and dad are kind of dopey and they shouldn't grow up to be like them.
So, the president gave a speech today and told some kids to work hard and take their education seriously. Maybe the reason he did it is because he felt that the kids weren't getting that message from their parents?

The president's dog ate my homework.

"I'm an American. I don't have to see something to know it's stupid."
- Tom Smothers
President Barack Obama is going to address public school children today in a televised address that some are opposing ... before they heard it, which I suppose is one of our inalienable rights as um ... Americans. The White House released the text of the speech on Monday, but for the two weeks or so prior, that didn't stop right-thinking Americans (emphasis on the right) from speaking out in opposition to something they have only heard about.
"As far as I am concerned, this is not civics education - it gives the appearance of creating a cult of personality," said Oklahoma Republican state Sen. Steve Russell. "This is something you'd expect to see in North Korea or in Saddam Hussein's Iraq."
Some conservatives, driven by radio pundits and bloggers, are urging schools and parents to boycott the address. They say Obama is using the opportunity to promote a political agenda and is overstepping the boundaries of federal involvement in schools.
Districts in states including Texas, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Virginia and Wisconsin have decided not to show the speech to students. Others are still thinking it over or are letting parents have their kids opt out.
Florida GOP chairman Jim Greer said in a statement he was "absolutely appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama's socialist ideology." Despite his rhetoric, two of the larger Florida districts, Miami-Dade and Hillsborough, plan to have classes watch the speech. Students whose parents object will not have to watch.
The full text of the speech can be found here, and these are some selected passages that the kids will hear if their parents will allow it:
At the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.
And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself.
Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.
And no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.
We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.
I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work -- that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things.
But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.
No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work.
Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.
What horrible things to tell children. Work hard, dedicate yourself and make the best of your education. God forbid they work at something. I suppose it would be acceptable to tell kids they can win the lottery, a big lawsuit or succeed at something because they have it fall in their laps. I can see why some Americans would oppose the president's speech to children.
It might make them realize what lazy shiftless people their parents are, and we need to keep children in the dark about that; or that they actually have to do something in school besides send text messages, go to social events or spend their parents' money on the prom.
Tonight's Pick-6 is worth $47 million, American Idol auditions are opening soon and if you get sick from smoking cigarettes you can sue the people who sold them to you.
God Bless America.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

You might be reading this at work.

Monday is Labor Day, the most ironic holiday of them all. Since I am fortunate enough not to work in the service or retail industries, I have the day off. It's not a National holiday, since we don't have National holidays (not even Independence Day) it is a legal holiday. Legal holidays give employers the option to give employees the day off, or keep the business open. I think there are way too many businesses open on legal holidays in this country.
Generally, the holiday is an excuse for a [Name the holiday] Sale, with incredible bargains that can only be had on the other 15 holidays and selected weekends that the store is open. God forbid, we can't get 15% off the price of a pair of shoes unless we shop on Labor Day. The irony lies in the fact that generally, labor doesn't have Labor Day off. As usual, the crap gets thrown to the workers at the lower end of the wage scale, while the rest get the juice.
On Monday, my local bank will be open, as well as the local convenience stores, restaurants, bars, supermarket and the Kohl's, Home Depot and the local shopping mall. All the people making minimum wage will be working today.
I know it would be impossible to shut down the country entirely for every holiday, but it seems as though there are way too many people working on holidays, and they aren't necessarily vital businesses. I think the country would survive a day without Kohl's. Would it throw consumers into a panic if they couldn't shop for 12 hours? In "this economy" the popular phrase we're supposed to encourage spending at whatever cost, so mandatory closing of stores on holidays would fly in the face of everything the government tells us is good for the country.
Here's an idea: A national moratorium on doing business on Labor Day. If a cash register rings, the business is fined an amount equal to the sale. Give people a day off. Maybe then, we can work our way down to the other holidays - but, one at a time for now.
One thing about Labor Day is that it doesn't have a face. There is no endearing image that captivates us like there is for Independence Day or Easter.
Just this one: