Wednesday, April 23, 2014

This is NOT a "feel good" post




I just read in the news that Canada now has a more affluent middle class than the United States.  So do several other countries.

On the ever-popular topic of health care, the United States ranked 40th in the world on accessibility of quality health care, behind #1 France, as well as Singapore, Portugal, and Chile, among others.

We've been reading for years about the sad state of our educational system here in the US.  Finland ranks first in the world followed by others like South Korea, Hong Kong, Latvia, and Slovenia.

Our economy statistically is bouncing back from recession at a world-leading pace, but those jobs are by-and-large not the high paying jobs we need.

Now many are questioning the wisdom of borrowing heavily for a college education.  They say the debt students are straddled with when they graduate is way out of line with the modest-paying jobs they're likely to get.  They'll be in debt forever.

Many of our cities are decaying, our roads and bridges are in sad shape, and we're afraid to smile at anyone for fear we'll be called in for "sensitivity training."  Political correctness rules.  

When something goes wrong, it's always that elusive "someone else's" fault, never our own.  Lie, cheat or steal if you have to,  just "show me the money".

We universally think we're the best at everything, when we are increasingly just average at everything....nothing more. 

This is not meant to be a "beat up on the US" post.  Quite the opposite; this is meant to be a "WAKE UP AMERICA" post. 

IMO, and I think my position is probably now a majority opinion, our system is simply broken.  Class warfare is raging.  "I've got mine.  You go get your own".  Tea Party members don't play well with others, nor do their extreme liberal counterparts.  We are our own worst enemies.

We MUST break this.  Our political system is a joke.  The wrong people / special interests get breaks at the expense of the rest of us, which ultimately weakens us all. 

Yet we still strut around yelling "WE'RE NUMBER 1".  We're talking the talk, but we're sure not walking the walk.  How long do you have to be in denial before you hit bottom?

There's nothing we can't do, but a lot of us are going to have to change the way we think before that will happen.

Does anyone give a shit anymore?

Happy hump day.  :)

S




Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Dear gawd....say it ain't so!



Now this is just disgusting.  If I was an orange or a cherry I'd be insulted.  I'm totally grossed out.  


I mean, carrots are horse food.  


Tomatoes go on hamburgers.  And pizza.  Neither belong in ice cream.  Ewwwwww!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So how are we supposed to start a revolution if they have all the bullets?

That's what all the conspiracy theorists were asking when they found out the Department of Homeland Security had bought 1.6 BILLION rounds of ammunition.  They claim that it's the gubments way of controlling guns since they can't do it via congressional action....they're just buying up all the ammo.

And now this:  The Postal Service, the Social Security Administration, the Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are buying up large amounts of ammunition, too.

All four have their own police force, and their own SWAT teams!  (I have visions of Police Academy.)

OK, I can see the postal inspectors needing all that.  There are all manner of vicious criminals sending illegal junk mail who need to be whacked.  I get it.

The Agriculture Department?   I'll buy that, too.  Someone needs to slap down those evil vegetable growers, and those Haagan Dasz people in Japan should they decide to bring that veggie ice cream crap to 'Merica.


But the Social Security folks?  Do they get in shoot-outs and high speed chases on gubment Segways with the gray hairs on their walkers?  Really?

And NOAA....the folks who Give Us This Day Our Daily Forecast?  So they're no longer satisfied with just telling us about the summer heat?  Now they want to pack it, too?

Who'd a thunk it?  ;)

S


Monday, April 21, 2014

"Make hay while the sun shines"

Have you ever heard that saying?  I'm guessing it goes back to our rural roots, meaning work, work, work while it's still daylight.  In the northern hemisphere at least, summer is the main growing season, and summer has the most hours of daylight.  It isn't a season to be enjoyed....it's a season to work.

I don't mind working, don't get me wrong.  No work, no eat.  But Jeez....I look out my window at  6:30 in the morning and it's already light outside.  I walk the dog at 8:30 at night and it's still light outside.  I feel guilty for NOT working "while the sun shines".

I'm probably one of the few people who enjoys the night time.  Specifically I like the evening hours.  I think of it as MY time.  The work day is over....it's time to wind down....but it isn't time to sleep either.  

I'll sometimes talk on the phone with one or another of my daughters around 8pm....they all have small children.... and you can hear the relief in their voices.  Their outside work is done, their chirren have all been fed and watered, bathed, and are off to bed.  Now it's their time to relax.



Maybe it's my low thyroid talking, but sometimes I enjoy just vegetating.  I enjoy sitting on my balcony watching the sunset.  Maybe enjoying an adult beverage, or maybe checking in on my long distance social media friends.

I guess I'm all contemplative this morning because I had things to do today, things that required that I get up and get out into traffic and the rat race early.

I'm sure when I was a kid I asked "Are we there yet?" like all kids are wont to do.

Now that I'm an adult all I want to know is, "Is it evening yet?"

S

Friday, April 18, 2014

The plot thickens... *cue the scary music*



I read a news story online this morning that began with the headline, "Treatment Cost Could Influence Doctors Advice To Patients".  It seems that "influential medical groups....are recommending that doctors weigh the costs, not just the effectiveness of treatments, as they make decisions about patient care."  

It's a slippery slope, to say the least.

This is the ammunition the "single payer" medical care advocates have been waiting for.  They have been pointing out with limited success that the best medical care is reserved for the wealthy, or at least the more well-to-do, while the rest of us have to make-do with something less.

It's a practice that has apparently been quietly acknowledged within the medical community for some time, but it hasn't become well known to the general population....yet.  I think it just stepped into the spotlight.

"Single payer" health care is a system in which the government, rather than private insurers, pay for all health care costs.  It's what they have in the UK, Canada, Australia, and many other, mainly European countries with a hefty "social safety net", supported by high taxes.

Proponents say it is the fairest way to see to it that everyone, regardless of their economic status, can get good quality health care.  Health care is a "right" we should all have equal access to, they say.  Detractors call it "socialized medicine", the key word being "socialized"....think "socialist".  *circle the wagons!*

On the one hand, the thought of our government administering anything sends cold shivers up my spine.  I can't imagine a more worthless work force than that mob of "civil servants" in Washington today pulling in bloated government paychecks. 

But on the other hand, I have friends in the UK and Canada and Australia and elsewhere who report that, all-in-all, the single payer model works well.  Wait times for elective procedures are often very long, but when they finally happen they won't send the patient straight to bankruptcy.

Not surprisingly my doctor, with whom I've had long talks with about this, and I would imagine my SIL "Doc" Chris, the insurers, etc. are scared to death of it.  But to an economically stagnant middle class it probably looks pretty good.

I think in the future, probably sooner rather than later, this will become a top burner political issue.  And it's gonna be a nasty one.

S

Thursday, April 17, 2014

"Simple" is a relative term.

Recently my everyday watch broke.  More specifically the band broke, which in my mind justified buying a new watch.  Honestly, it was a "want" more than a "need".  So I went online and found good reviews and a good price on a Casio G Shock.  


I ordered one that was inexpensive, simple, analog, without an altimeter, barometer, heart rate/cholesterol/bone density monitor, and without the ever-popular transmission diagnostic repair capability.  Simple.  Like me.

What got rave reviews was the fact that it was solar powered....no more battery replacement....and "atomic accurate" (?).  It seems there's some facility in Colorado that regularly broadcasts the exact time to the nanosecond, and this watch can pick up that signal and correct itself as needed.  

It will automatically adjust for Daylight Savings Time, short months, etc.  All I have to do is strap it on and wear it till I die.  No maintenance, ever!  Yep, that's the watch for me.

Not so fast, Goober.  First you have to choose the time zone you're in.  "Push button A, little window B will blink, then you scroll through until you find your zone.  Push C, and you're set."

Umm....little problem.  Another tiny window shows the digital time (hour, minute, day, date) for my selected zone, BUT THE HANDS SHOW THE TIME FOR A ZONE FARTHER EAST.  Lemme check that book again:

  
DOH!

The instruction "manual" is about the size of a book of stamps, but 200 pages thick.  (OK, 100 of them are in Spanish.)  And the print requires one of those little magnifiers jewelers strap to their glasses so they can see the tiny little letters.

This thing is written in a language only a super-geek could think up.  I was hopelessly lost right after it said, "Thank you for buying a Casio G Shock".  I solicited K, my in-house techie, to try and make some sense of it.  Nope....in about 2 minutes she was cursing like the sailor she once was.

Time to turn to the World Wide Web.  All I got was an explanation by the same guy (I think) that wrote the #$^& manual to begin with.  "SUP, dude?"

I set the hands to show Dallas time.  Screw it!  I'm just gonna have to accept the discrepancy between what the hands say and what the digital thingy says.  

But if you ever see me walking around the streets of Halifax, Nova Scotia and want to know what time it is, I have this little window on my watch that can tell you within a nanosecond.  Just ask.  :)

S


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Kinda puts my "Most Wonderful Person That Ever Lived" title to shame

I love those little internet news fluff pieces they post that tell us of the "10 most..." this-or-that things we should (or shouldn't) be doing.  A recent favorite was "Four places you should NEVER use your ATM card".

Their advice:  Don't use your ATM card to make any online purchases, to do any retail shopping, at gas stations, or at restaurants.  


Umm....so what does that leave?  Are ATM cards only safe for use as door lock picks in case you lose your keys?

It sort of reminds me of some of those fractured Chinese instruction translations.  One of my favorites was on the box of Christmas lights that said, "WARNING!  Use only indoors or outdoors".  I would have bought a couple of boxes, but all I had on me was my ATM card, so....

Speaking of the Chinese....this guy must have the most audacious Public Relations guy EVER!....


Ha!  Top THAT Dos Equis guy!

(And all this time I thought Al Gore was the "Foremost Environmental Preservation Demolition Expert".  I stand corrected.)

Happy Hump Day  :)

S


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Me and Big Al....I didn't see THAT coming!

I've never been a big Al Franken fan.  I love Saturday Night Live, but I never much enjoyed the skits he was in when he was a SNL regular/writer.  

Then he went on to become part of the ill-fated Air America liberal radio network, which cemented him in my mind as a far-out left winger.  And anyone who knows me knows I don't like far-out ANY wingers.




Since 2009 he's been SENATOR Al Franken of Minnesnowta.

Imagine my shock when I learned that he and I agree on something.  On the Senate Judiciary Committee he's become their main anti-trust advocate.  Right now he's all hot and bothered by the proposed $45B buyout of Time Warner Cable by Comcast.  Sic 'em Big Al!

The business interests in our country have for years been obsessed with mergers.  Through their eyes it's a way to eliminate competition, become more efficient (fewer marketing departments, fewer accounting departments, etc), and MAKE MORE MONEY.  Never mind those who will lose their jobs, or the consumers who will have less choices and have to pay more.

Combined, the new Comcast would be a cable TV and internet access behemoth.  (They already own NBC and all their subsidiaries, and Universal Studios.)  For consumers in many areas a merger would leave them no choice but to sign up with Comcast.

See where this is going?  Look at the banks:  Today just six mega-banks control the majority of the US banking industry.  Outraged by all their fees, all the ways they get into your pocket, all while producing those cute little "We're looking out for you" commercials?  *gag!*

And look at the airline industry:  Delta and Northwest are now one, United and Continental are now one, Southwest and Air Tran are now one, America West and US Air are now one, and now they've merged with American to become the biggest airline in the world.  Fees for bags?  Pay extra for a Coke?  Are in-flight pay toilets next?  Good for their bottom line for sure, but not for yours!

How come when the conservatives are making a push for de-regulation (which I more often than not agree with) they tout the increased competition it will bring to the marketplace (yea!), but when their corporate campaign contributor masters want to eliminate competition via mergers, they just obediently fall into line and vote "AYE"?   

And we just let it happen, time after time.  Do we consumers get some perverse satisfaction in getting screwed?

I believe the people should control industry.  We should dictate what products and services we want, and industry should compete to give it to us.  But these days more and more industries are dictating to us what we can have, and our job is to just stand there and open our wallets.

It seems we've long forgotten the legacy of "The Great Trust Buster", Teddy Roosevelt. *sigh*

S