Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Did these guys ever read a history book?




It's amazing to me how ignorant our "leaders" are.  Both parties need to require their elected lap-dogs to attend a class and educate them on the realities of the Mid-East.

President Brick O'bama has okay-ed the use of US surveillance drones to keep an eye on ISIS forces (the ultra-radical Islamic terrorist group) operating in Syria and Iraq.  What he hasn't authorized is the use of force against ISIS fighters across that line in the sand marking the border between Iraq and Syria....we don't want to violate Syrian airspace.

Here's the problem with that thinking: SYRIA AND IRAQ AREN'T REAL COUNTRIES!  Neither are Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, or Saudi Arabia.   They aren't now and never have been.  

They are "nations" with borders arbitrarily set up by the victors (Britain and France) after World War I.  During that Great War the two decided quietly to divvy up the Mid-East after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire (Turkey), who was fighting along side eventual losers Germany and Austro-Hungary.  

According to the Sykes-Picot Agreement France would exercise their sphere of influence over the northern part of said territory (the current areas known as Syria and Lebanon), while Britain would oversee their sphere of influence over the southern part (now known as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, and Israel).

But "national identity" was a foreign concept to the Arabs.  Their society was (and still is) organized around "families", which are part of "clans", which are part of "tribes".  They routinely band together to form temporary alliances when their short-term interests merge.  But when their interests change those alliances break up and new alliances with former enemy tribes take their place.  Regional politics are always fluid, therefore national boundaries are meaningless to them.

They don't give a rats ass about "borders".  Kurds don't see themselves as Turkish Kurds or Syrian Kurds or Iraqi Kurds.  They have no allegiance to any nation-state.  To say that we shouldn't violate "Syrian" airspace is a farce, as there is no Syria, and therefore no Syrian airspace to violate.  There are only various families and clans and tribes which congeal now and then into interest groups.

I'm not saying we should or shouldn't go after ISIS forces across that mythical line on a map that defines Syria, but just that that shouldn't enter into our decision.  And above all, we should give up on trying to introduce "democracy" to the people of the region.  They will never swear allegiance to any "country".  Why should we waste American lives and national treasure trying to set them up?

Screw 'em!

S


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Who knew?



I just heard on da news that the cost to raise a child today from birth to age 18, not including college, is now up to $245,000.

Your first hint it's gonna be a long slog?  When the pediatricians first words to you are, "Don't worry.  Dumber people than you have done this."

Then some day, if you're lucky, you get to be a grandparent and all is well again.


Well, sort of.  :)

S


Monday, August 18, 2014

Another milestone

I can remember back when I turned 50 I received an application in the mail to join AARP.  I thought, "Hey, let's not rush this!"

Then when I turned 60 I began receiving literature from companies wanting to sell me handicap mobility scooters.  I thought, "Hold on there Kemo Sabe!  I can walk just fine."

I'll soon be turning 64 and a few days ago I received a catalog from the Duluth Trading Co.  I've received them before, but as they say their stuff is for loggers, carpenters, plumbers etc, I never paid them much attention.  

They're mainly work clothes....you know, the kind of pants that have reinforced knees and carpenter's pants with cargo pockets on cargo pockets.  I do my best to avoid activities that require me to need reinforced knees and pants with pockets to hide tools in.

But yesterday just by chance I actually looked at the Duluth catalog and discovered to my dismay that I'm solidly in their target demographic:



They have shirts that can cure my Dunlaps Disease.




And if I should ever fall down while holding a pipe wrench I won't feel any unwanted drafts, which is a huge relief!  (Oh, is that what those reinforced knees are for?  Hmm....clever.)




I don't think their "Ballroom Jeans" have anything to do with elegant, formal soirees, but they will enable me to "crouch without the ouch", something I constantly worry about.


Thank you crouch gusset!  They claim if I wear them I won't sing soprano.  'Course, those who have heard me sing say they don't want me singing baritone or bass, either.



Is this a common cause of death for....umm....mature men....being attacked by a moose?  Is this how it will end?  Well, not for this guy!  Not if I get me a Free Swingin' Flannel shirt.  Now I'll be able to pull out its tongue and "whack & hack like a limberjack".  And apparently chop firewood like a lumberjack too.  Sweet!  (There must already be a lot of Free Swingin' Flannel kinda guys around here, which is why there are no moose left in Frisco, TX.)

So please take note dear Mother-In-Law:  Please don't give me any more of those skinny, tapered button-popping Polo shirts for Christmas.  I no longer fit in skinny, tapered button-popping Polo clothes.  My new haberdasher is the Duluth Trading Co.  (I could use an axe, though.)

S


Thursday, August 14, 2014

"Starving to death in the Land of Plenty"



Have you heard that saying before?  It means while some are holding on for dear life, others are doing very well.  And it's a topic that polarizes like no other.

It's more commonly known as "income inequality".  The "have's" say they deserve their privileged position as they went to school, studied hard, and have diligently worked their way up "the ladder".  But over the past 20 or so years the "have not's" haven't seen a pay raise after factoring in inflation, and they are the ones that make up the consumer base that drives 2/3 of our economy.

Here's the problem:  This situation can't go on forever.  Eventually the system will implode, just like it did back in 1929 leading us into the Great Depression.  When we kill the goose that laid the golden egg, we're screwed.

They say we have a HUGE public deficit that requires us to cut spending, and at the same time the well off want their taxes cut, which would leave the deficit essentially unchanged.  The wealthy justify their requested tax cut by saying this tax saving would enable them to create more jobs.

That argument makes sense on paper, but in the real world it just isn't so.  Case in point:  Today I read a piece originally published in INC magazine that states large corporations can't find enough good projects to invest their $1.64 TRILLION cash cushion in that they're currently sitting on.  Even more money in a "job creation" fund won't create any more jobs.  More demand for goods and services will create more jobs, but until consumers have more money, they aren't in any position to buy.  It's a giant Catch 22.

If we're ever going to make a meaningful dent in our massive accumulated debt we're going to have to raise taxes on the wealthy because they are the only ones with any excess money.  Note I'm not saying it's "fair", or "right", just "necessary".  These are just pragmatic facts.  And "raising taxes" doesn't necessarily mean raising the tax rate.  It can also mean eliminating special tax treatment, and that just might be politically possible.

Wonder what the Vegas odds would be on that?

S


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Betcha didn't know this about Robin Williams....




Just when I was about to give up entirely on "celebrities" as just a bunch of narcissistic a-holes I hear stories like this:

On our local news (WFAA) I just heard a story about the late Robin Williams.  A couple now living in Dallas told of how in 2004 (?) they were living in North Carolina with their young daughter who was dying of some sort of inoperable brain tumor.  The Make-A-Wish Foundation contacted them and asked if there was anything their terminally ill daughter might want.

The dad told them that her all-time favorite movie was Mrs. Doubtfire, and she would love to meet "her".  By the time the Make-A-Wish folks set the meeting up the little girl was too ill to travel to California.  Without hesitation Robin Williams (the actor who played Mrs. Doubtfire, in case you've been comatose until recently) chartered a private jet at his own expense and flew to North Carolina to spend some time with his adoring fan.

Wow!

He visited with her, played her favorite card game with her, and posed for personal photos, all without any publicity or ulterior motive.  Just a few weeks later she passed away.  She no doubt died with a smile on her face, all thanks to Robin Williams.

That is the way I hope Robin Williams will be remembered....as a wonderful human being.  Not just a great actor, or even a supremely funny comedian....truthfully there are lots of those types in the entertainment biz, although I doubt many are as complete a package as Robin Williams was. 

A "good person".  Isn't that the ultimate legacy?

S

Good bye Robin, and more things I don't understand

"What's the difference between a tornado and divorce?  Nothing.  Either way, someone's losing a trailer." Robin Williams

The world has lost a very, very funny man.  By all accounts Robin Williams was a good man who truly seemed to care about others.  He was also a man who they say was suffering from depression, and had issues with addiction to drugs and alcohol in his past, too.

I don't mean to sound uncompassionate, but I don't understand depression or addiction.  I don't have an "addictive personality" myself and I'm not close to anyone who does.  Not my wife, or my kids, or any of my friends or family.  I understand they are legitimate diseases, but I suppose I just live in a small, probably naive world with other like-minded naive people.  I've never been exposed to those dark things.

I don't understand how the brain works.  I've never taken a formal course in psychology.  Why would someone so talented, someone able to light up a room when he walked into it, someone who could travel where he wanted, do whatever he wanted, probably meet whoever he wanted, have to resort to drugs or alcohol, and eventually suicide?  I just don't get it.

In my little pea brain I can't see what he had to be depressed about.  When people have an empty pantry, hungry kids, and no money, I can see them being desperate and depressed. When people (who want friends) have no friends, I can see them being depressed.  When people are cold and homeless and don't even know if they'll survive the night, I can see them being depressed.  Thankfully most of us reading this right now don't (I'm guessing) have those problems. 

And drugs and alcohol....again, I don 't get it.  If I'm healthy and fed and clothed and housed, why would I want to screw it up by abusing myself?  If you have enough money to afford booze or drugs in mass quantity, I'm guessing you should be smart enough to find something a lot more fun to spend it on than booze or drugs.

It's one of my great shortcomings....I just don't understand the abstract.  Last night when we heard the news that he was dead K said incredulously, "But Robin Williams should still be alive."  Then she asked,  "How do we know that's true?  How do we know this wasn't meant to be?"  

All I could do was sit there, my mouth open, and say, "wha...what?" Great, deep philosophical questions go straight over my head.  I see the here and now, the rocks and trees, not the what might have beens or the philosophical dilemmas of life.

If any of you are hurting or addicted or in mental pain, I wish I could help you, but I wouldn't know where to start.  Thank God there are people out there who can.

I'll never know what was going through Robin Williams mind at the end.  I'll never understand his addictions.  I do understand that a funny, caring man is gone.  Pity.

S

Monday, August 11, 2014

Talk about a polluted gene pool!

It's been a quiet week, with nothing much going on that rankled me enough to post about.  

The big news recently has been the Israeli/Palestinian crisis, but I didn't write about that because it seems most people, and of course the news media, are rooting for the Gazans.  I think they're dumber than dirt....make that "sand".  I mean, you'd think someone in Gaza would make the connection between "we shoot missiles at them, they drop bombs on us".  But no.  DUH!

Sure, the Palestinians deserve their own homeland, but with that privilege comes responsibility, and they've shown none of the latter.  Grow up, kids!

Now we're launching air strikes on ISIS forces (Sunni Islamic extremists) running around "the place that isn't even a legitimate country", aka Iraq.  But we say we're not doing it to support the "government" of Iraq, but to protect our embassies and consulates there.  They say the US largest embassy anywhere in the entire world is in Baghdad, Iraq.  

Why?  Why do we have more than a guy, an expendable mercenary at that, sitting behind a desk with a phone in Baghdad?  Do we just have so many gubment bureaucrats we can't fit them all into Washington, DC, so we dump the overflow into Iraq?  What the hell is there in Iraq that is vital to our national interests, anyway?  Oil?  Do we even import Iraqi oil?  Can't we get it from elsewhere, like Texas or North Dakota?



Dude, just a suggestion....steal a BELT, and maybe a proper holster.

OK, here's a story that baffles me:  In a suburb of St. Louis police recently shot and killed an unarmed black teenager. The police say he was fighting for the officer's gun, others say that is totally untrue.  I have no idea who's right or wrong.  But what I do know is that, as is often the case, "the community's frustration spilled over into the streets".  Translation:  rioting and looting.  

Somebody please 'splain to me what looting the grocery store and the shoe store have to do with a police shooting?  "Yeah, I'll just steal these here AirJordan's and maybe some Slim Jim's....that'll show 'em how pissed I am!"  Huh?

Justice needs to be served, whatever the truth might be, but how does rioting and looting bring about justice?

Burning down the police station I might could understand.  Still wrong, but at least there's a correlation.  But instead their priorities seem to be, 1..."tear up/burn down my own neighborhood to show how much I miss ____", then, 2 ..."blow off my own pecker with this gun I have shoved down in the front of my pants" (see photo above). 

There are some really, REALLY stupid people in this world, you know?  With over six BILLION people alive today you'd think these idiots (world wide) could find someone to procreate with besides their own first cousins.  Are we witnessing evolution in reverse?

That's my two bits.  :)

S