Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Monday, December 27, 2010
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
If your God had wished us to observe his son's birthday, wouldn't we know exactly when it was? December 25 is an arbitrary date and none of you know why. Jesus was born about 6 weeks after Passover, nearer to September than now. Those "Let's Keep Christ in Christmas" people are severely misguided, since Christ has nothing to do with Christmas. They should be dancing around their Pagan tree with their other Christian friends and praying to Santa Claus.
Monday, December 20, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
Sunday, December 5, 2010
When Forbes magazine first began [sic] compiling its lists of the 400 richest Americans back in 1982, just 13 of those people were billionaires. In 2010, every person on the list was worth at least a billion dollars, and the highest-ranked person, Bill Gates, was worth $54 billion. Forbes' 2010 list of the world's billionaires includes a whopping 1,011 entries. Of those, 75 people are tied for last place with a net worth of $1 billion.
First of all, the original article contained the phrase "first began," hence the sic ("Intentionally so written") which is not only redundant but inexcusable from someone who calls himself a professional writer. But I digress.
The point of putting that blurb at the top was to point out how quickly a million dollars has been devalued. It ain't what it used to be, which I can say because I'm not a professional writer.
Up until a short time ago, having saved a million dollars was not only something of an accomplishment, but a measure of your ability to survive without a job after you're 60 years old. After all, we're living longer than our parents, so you'd have to figure on at least 25 years of no income and rely on savings or some pension you may have stumbled into. By the way, mathematically speaking, a million dollars over 25 years is a measly $40,000 per year. Try factoring in inflation and see what $40,000 is going to be worth in 2035. The accounting term for it is: Ain't Much.
What the article did not mention was that in 1982 there were 32.4 million Americans living below the poverty level. In 2010 there were 43.6 million officially poor people in America. The old expression "the rich get richer" is indeed true. More of them and more of us. The gap widens. Combine that with almost 10% unemployment rate and the numbers are staggering.
I'm sure that if the billionaire list has increased, then the millionaire one must have as well. Sure, a million dollars isn't what it was, but there are still more millionaires, and obviously, the bottom end of the scale hasn't kept up with the top end. Otherwise, there would be fewer poor people too. I think the list of improved income stops at around $30,000. People in that income range suffer the most because their salaries don't increase as much as top management's.
There have always been growing numbers of poor people, and I wonder what happens when the gap widens between the poor and middle class to the point that those two groups don't have the same things to gripe about? Just as people earning $30,000 don't understand the struggles of millionaires, people making poverty-level wages will be separated from their slightly more successful friends. We're creating a stratification of people rather than bringing them together. I suppose some people would call me a Socialist for promoting such a radical idea, so go ahead.
It creates problems because people at the lower level want to live like the people in the level above them. It's natural. It's why we have such rampant debt. We all want iPhone's, a Lexus and a bigger house than we can afford. We get them by borrowing or purchasing them on credit, and we get deeper into the hole we'll never dig ourselves out of.
Where it really starts to manifest itself are issues like health care and retirement. Although, I suppose the two may work in concert sometimes. If you have no health care you won't live long enough to have to worry about retirement. But a sick citizenry is not a happy or productive one, either. One presumes that the worse our health care problems are, the more people that will be on some form of government-subsidized compensation program, and that puts an additional strain on the tax system.
And when jobless poor people reach retirement age, the pittance they have managed to stash away in Social Security will be their only sustenance, and it won't be nearly enough, since people who had a million dollars saved are already living on $40,000 a year - remember?
So, the more poor people we have, the worse off they'll be when they reach retirement age. They weren't able to find work when they were 40, so how will they find something when they're 65? They'll be living on $1,900 a month Social Security payments, and that won't go far in the future world of 2035. It isn't a pretty picture, if you sit and think about it - which I have.
I guess we're not supposed to think about it, because a depressed citizenry is bad too. We're supposed to live for now. Throw our trash all over the place, spend like we're going to the electric chair and eat, eat, eat. It's all stuff that I've heard called Bread and Circuses, which kind of means that if you entertain people enough, they'll forget how dire their circumstances are. That's why they put a string quartet on the deck of the Titanic.
So, don't think about it.
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Mostly, it's a list of junk, bad television and crap celebrities. The public's fascination with that sort of stuff hasn't changed in 100 years and isn't likely to change in the next hundred. The thing is, we're supposed to be smarter and more cultured than our parents and their parents before them, but we aren't. We walk around like we have some kind of grip on things, but we're just as stupid (if not more so) than the people we replaced. We have a lot of sophisticated junk, cable TV and fancy telephones, but we're still the same dopey schmucks our horse-riding, rotary-dial ancestors were.
What makes us think we're so smart and why are we fascinated by this crap?
Friday, December 3, 2010
I think sometimes people have low standards. This is a stairway up to a tattoo parlor. I know that because they wisely placed the words "TATTOOS" and "PIERCING" (meaning multiple tattoos but only one piercing?) on the stairway to let people know that it is a stairway to a tattoo parlor and not the stairway to a haunted house or a boarding house.
It's funny how particular we are with using hand sanitizers and issuing warnings about washing our hands every fifteen minutes, yet we will go to a place like this to allow a stranger to pierce our skin with a needle filled with ink. We're a strange bunch.
Serendipity is a great tool in photography. This is a mistake, since I inadvertently moved the camera before the exposure was complete. I could have told you I did it on purpose, but I'm an honest guy.
This is the outside of the Seton Hall School of Law, or some such thing, near the hotel I stayed in. Interesting how creeps like lawyers come out of such a nice building.
I was fascinated by this railroad bridge that runs into the Newark Penn Station. Once again, serendipity produced this sepia tone, so I didn't have to do anything except crop it a little and post it. Too honest? Maybe.
I had never been to an opera before. Luckily for me, the Lincoln Center seats have translation screens, so we can read the English version of Italian operas. Cosi fan Tutti is called a comic opera, and it's almost 4 hours long. I don't think Mozart understood one of the principal aspects of comedy - keep it short. After a huge meal at Cafe Fiorello, a 4-hour opera went down like a musical sleeping pill. To the extent that a guy in our row was heard to snore at least 4 times during the first act and 7 times during the second act. If you're that tired, just go home.
And for the record (if there is one) Guglielmo and Ferrando should have dumped those two crazy bitches and fought over Despina.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Monday, November 29, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Saturday, November 27, 2010
HARPER WOODS, Mich. – Police say two men have been critically injured in shootings inside a suburban Detroit shopping mall. The mall has been closed as police search for whoever fired the shots. Harper Woods deputy police chief Jim Burke tells The Associated Press the shootings happened around 6 p.m. when a group of teenagers fired on a rival group at Eastland Mall east of Detroit.
Burke says the men were taken to St. John's Hospital in Detroit, and both were expected to survive. He says an 18-year-old was shot in the chest, and an employee at a clothing store was shot in leg. He says there had apparently been a long-running dispute between the two rival groups.
I don't have a detailed list, but I can tell you that there have been a lot of shootings at shopping malls over the years. There was the the Tacoma Mall and Hudson Valley Mall shootings in 2005, the Oak View Mall shooting in 2006, the Westroads Mall murder/suicide and the Trolley Square Mall shootings in 2007, the Lane Bryant shooting in 2008 and the Sello Mall shooting in 2009 to name seven.
The point is that there have been at least eight shootings at shopping malls in the past 5 years, and I have yet to see the same sort of security in place that we have had in airports and some schools since 2001.
We are nutty about airports because of what happened on September 11, 2001; but some of it was inherited from prior days. I suppose the reason we scrutinize more heavily at airports is because we're 50,000 feet above the ground. It's hard to run away from something that happens in a moving aircraft. I was on an Amtrak train lately, and before I boarded I had emptied my pockets and readied myself for the full-body search or at least an X-Ray device. Nothing. Just get on a train full of people with a huge suitcase.
Even though there are probably 50 times more people in a typical busy shopping mall than an airplane, we like the odds of being one in a big crowd, so we just let anybody in. And, what's the worst a train bomb could do? Two or three cars de-railed and some injuries. That's not worth inconveniencing the public.
How long will it be before we have to pass through Mall Security to get to our favorite clothing store? I wonder why we have yet to be asked to do that. Perhaps it's because we value the shopping experience more than the traveling experience? Maybe retailers fear that shoppers will not visit their stores if they have to go through a security device?
I guess we'd rather die than be inconvenienced.
Friday, November 26, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
The store has hardwood floors (which translate to "natural, good for you foods") and friendly, well-informed staff people who are happy to indulge our "can I try that" shopping with actually giving us something to try. Smart retailers know that giving consumers a taste of something for free is a great way to entice us to buy it. Dumb consumers buy stuff.
- If it is called a Pillow Pak, should the admonishment also include "Please do not use as a bed pillow" or "Do Not Sleep On?"
- If the contents are "harmless," why does it say "Do not eat?" If the contents are indeed harmless, then I should be able to eat them. What else does harmless mean?