Friday, May 21, 2010

Arrest Ronald McDonald and send him to Texas for re-training.

It looks like another loop-job is running for office. Rand Paul is a Republican from Kentucky, and while I normally don't care what happens in Kentucky, in this case I'll make an exception. Here's what he had to say about President Obama on "Good Morning, America."
"What I don't like from the president's administration is this sort of, 'I'll put my boot heel on the throat of BP,'" Paul said. "I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business. I've heard nothing from BP about not paying for the spill. And I think it's part of this sort of blame-game society in the sense that it's always got to be someone's fault instead of the fact that sometimes accidents happen."
Un-American? Hey Rand, what does the big "B" in BP stand for? British. You're right that accidents sometimes happen. Sometimes nitwits are elected to office. Let's hope the gang in Kentucky can figure you out before November. Somebody should check to see if BP has contributed to his campaign.
Meanwhile, in Texas they're revising history:

AUSTIN, Texas – The Texas State Board of Education (not an oxymoron) adopted a social studies and history curriculum Friday that amends or waters down the teaching of the civil rights movement, slavery, America's relationship with the U.N. and hundreds of other items. The ideological debate over the guidelines, which drew intense scrutiny beyond Texas, will be used to teach some 4.8 million Texas students for the next 10 years.

Oy. At least they rejected changing B.C. and A.D. to B.C.E. and C.E. Don't ask me what they mean. I really don't want to know.

It's called the United States, but that's a physical designation only. There is nothing united about what goes on in this country, and if you find yourself in the unfortunate circumstance of being in Texas, Alabama or even parts of Indiana or Arizona where they don't observe daylight savings time, you're in for a rude awakening. Now, you have to keep your kids out of school because you have no control over what they're being taught. And as we see, parents have lost some (or all) control over what goes on with their children. To wit:

CHICAGO - Retire Ronald McDonald? No way. That's the message McDonald's Corp.'s CEO Jim Skinner gave Thursday to the red-haired clown's critics who say the cartoon promotes unhealthy eating and should go the way of the Marlboro Man and Joe Camel. "The answer is no," Skinner told a room full of shareholders who gathered for a meeting at the company's headquarters in the Chicago suburb of Oak Brook, Illinois.

A group who calls themselves Corporate Accountability International wants McDonald's to retire the colorful clown because they say he promotes childhood obesity by encouraging kids to eat at McDonald's. I say, where are the parents? Do the kids drive themselves to McDonald's and indulge in fatty fries and Big Mac's? No. The parents are the ones who should be retired for encouraging their kids to eat crap. It's part of a bigger problem: Not taking responsibility for your own actions. They claim Ronald is "dangerous," and "sends insidious messages to young people." I'm surprised that they know what insidious means.
Corporate images and advertising are said to be detrimental to behavior, but if we are that gullible, the problem isn't advertising, it's our own behavior. Blaming corporations for our problems is shifting the blame to someone who is not responsible for what we do. Teach your kids to eat good food and stop blaming somebody else because your ten-year old weighs 200 pounds.
It isn't my problem.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

New York, New York. The city so nice, they named it twice.

"If Johnny jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you jump off too?" Hell no, it's too far to the water. That's the view from the Yankee Clipper, a ferry that shuttles baseball fans from north Jersey to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, making a hundred stops in between. However, with a bar on board, the 90-minute trip seems to flash by!
Part of the seminar I attended in Newark on Monday included a trip to Yankee Stadium to see the Yanks/Red Sox. Unexpectedly, the walkway from the ferry stop to the ballpark included the rubble of old Yankee Stadium, and fearing that I'd lose contact with my group I neglected to take a photo. Nevertheless, the memory is etched in my brain and even though I'm not a Yankee fan, I do appreciate the history and it saddens me to realize that an historical landmark is now a pile of concrete next to the new palace.

It's unofficially "baseball week" around here. Monday's Yankee game was soon followed by the Tuesday night Phillies/Pirates affair that featured a bobblehead doll of Phillies ace Roy Halladay. Sadly, there was a 25-mph wind blowing in and the temperature was more suitable for storing wine than playing baseball, so I beat a hasty retreat after a couple of innings.

Thursday I'll be at the ballpark for what they call a "Businessperson's Special," which is probably more like an "Unemployed Special" or a "Slacker Game" featuring warmer temperatures and a different team. I'll probably stick around for that one.

Saturday I'll be in Wilmington watching the minor league Blue Rocks, but you don't really care about that.

Here's a view of Yankee Stadium from behind home plate.

On a more mundane topic, octogenarian Senator Arlen Spector lost a primary to "young enough to be my grandson" Joe Sestack. I'd say, it's about time. I think 30 years in any job is enough, and it's time to either get promoted or retire. Since Spector was never a candidate for President, I'd say it's time to retire. He'd tell you that "there's more work to be done," but that will always be the case. Government is an endless fountain of work to be done, and it will still be there long after Specter is gone, just as it was before he showed up. It's short-sighted and egotistical to think that he's the only person capable of doing it. But then, politicians are inherently egotistical.

Otherwise, why would somebody spend millions of dollars for a job that pays $174,000 a year? I suppose that makes me a supporter of term limits, but it isn't a Kingdom, it's a Republic. Sentimentality has no place in politics. Meanwhile ...

WASHINGTON – Senate Republicans on Wednesday delayed final action on a sweeping financial regulation bill, raising a last-minute obstacle to the legislation as it approached the home stretch

Democrats appeared within reach of the 60-vote threshold needed to move the bill toward passage, however, and Senate Majority leader Harry Reid said he would seek a new vote Thursday.

The legislation, which seeks an overhaul of financial regulations unseen since the 1930s, would set up a mechanism to watch out for risks in the financial system, make it easier to liquidate large failing firms and write new rules for complex securities blamed for helping precipitate the 2008 economic crisis. It also would create a new consumer protection agency, a key point for President Barack Obama.

A new Consumer Protection Agency? Really? Is that what we need, more government? I thought we already had a consumer protection agency. If that one worked, why would we need a new one? More patronage jobs, government contracts and retirement benefits to pay. That's almost a good idea.

Without going into details about a complicated bill, maybe Congress could do something to help us, like ending the so-called "float" that banks enable to make your money unavailable to you. Why is it that I can deposit cash into my checking account in the afternoon and come home to log-into my account and see that it has already been credited - yet, if I want to transfer money from one bank to another, or (God forbid) pay a bill, it takes two days to a week for the funds to appear. There's something a lot less complicated that our government can do to help us - a facility that seems to be in short supply these days.

But then, I live in a dream world.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Night falls in Newark.

This is the beauty of Newark, NJ as seen from my hotel window, with the lovely view of the roof and air conditioner vent. I'm in the garden spot of the Garden State attending a conference. Fortunately, I have Internet access courtesy of my company at the bargain rate of $9.99 per day. So, I'm under a little pressure to make the content worth the price. Fat chance.
The first thing I saw when I flipped on the TV was the Miss USA pageant, proudly proclaimed as being broadcast "LIVE" from Las Vegas, Nevada - seemingly the last place where a beauty pageant could be tolerated. I really thought we had progressed as a society beyond such mundane rituals, but sadly, we have not. Donald Trump is the sponsor, which should tell you everything you need to know about the content. However, it was made to look like a MENSA convention by contrast when I changed channels and saw "Survivor" contestants stacking dishes on a stick. What has happened to TV?
I had it on long enough to see the 51 contestants strut out to a Ke$ha song and hear the voice-over proclaim, "And now, here are your hosts, the lovely Natalie Morales and Curtis Stone." I guess Curtis doesn't get an adjective, since we routinely refer to women as "lovely" but hardly ever call men "handsome." You'd think that, in a beauty pageant setting the ritual conventions of society would be disregarded. And where's the Mr. USA pageant? Nowhere.
While I was in the
hotel restaurant, the local news was on. In the midst of police being killed in the line of duty (it is New York, after all) was a story about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. It's making the Exxon-Valdez look like a Bounty commercial.
Last week,
I wrote a blurb saying that "every summer there's a story about some 90-year old graduating college." Well, I was almost right. Today, Yahoo featured a story about 94-year-old Hazel Soares, who graduated from Mills College in California. Her degree is in Art History. Big deal. She's old enough to have gone to high school with most of the people she studied. "We are really amazed and very proud of my mom," said Regina Hungerford, Soares' youngest child. "The biggest thing that we can all learn is that we're never too old." Well, yeah - maybe you are.
The miraculous part of the story is that she claims that she does not take any prescription medication. To me, that's a bigger feat than graduating college. Good for you Hazel. Stay off the pills.
I'm not sure this was worth $9.99. Lucky for me, I'm not paying for it. So, in order to try to pad-out the fee, here's a ten dollar haiku:
A screaming siren
and the smell of fresh urine.
Night falls in Newark.