Friday, May 31, 2013

Which way did he go?

The headline read....


Family Concerned After John McCain Wanders Into Syria

Washington--Members of Sen. John McCain's family expressed deep concern Tuesday after receiving word that the aging legislator had wandered into Syria.  

Ha!  Poor old John can't buy a break.  That was reported, of course, in The Onion, a parody newspaper.  Unfortunately I'm afraid there might be more than a little truth to this one.  There are a lot of those guys in Washington (or Warshington if you're from Boston), of both parties, who are doing things I just find bizarre.  

Still, he's lived an amazing life and I sincerely wish him well.

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I was watching Good Morning America earlier and noticed Robin Roberts interviewing Will Smith.  When she's on camera she normally speaks "unaccented TV" for lack of a better term.  But when she was interviewing Will she started speaking "inner-city street".  Then some rapper was on, and listening to him (I tried unsuccessfully to tune him out) I assumed he was black.  Then I saw him...some white guy named Pit Bull.  (Really?  Who names their kid "Pit"?)  I guess you just never know these days.

K said she lapses into and out of other dialects, too.  She's a corporate recruiter and daily talks to people from all over the country.  She said she subconsciously slips into Cajun when she's talking to people from Louisiana, deep south drawl when appropriate, etc.

I find myself doing the same.  When speaking with a sophisticated potential client my speech is The King's English, but when talking to one of my blue-collar subs it's "Hey, how y'all doin'?  Sup?"

Do you do that, too?  Is it intentional or subconscious?

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My trusty (until now) chariot is in the shop getting its air conditioner fixed.  I know.....a car in Texas without working air conditioning is just scrap metal.  We're down to just one car, and I'm having to take K to work and pick her up and plan my day around my chauffeur duties.  

At one time a while back K and I discussed me retiring for real (not semi retiring) and just having one car.  Now I truly like living lean, but after experiencing a one car household, even for just a day, I'm afraid that might be just a bit too lean.

Speaking of cars, tomorrow is Cars and Coffee, weather permitting.  We need the rain, but please God, let it come after noon, OK?  :)

Have a great weekend everyone.

S


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Why doesn't Blogger have a font like this?


I was walking the pooch the other day and noticed this truck parked across the street.  I had to do a double...triple...then quadruple check before I could read what it said.  Can you read it?

At first I thought it said "Live Frat" and I thought it was some kind of promotion for college fraternities.   Well, that's just dumb.

Then I thought it said "Live Fart", which was even dumber.  Why would you want to advertise farting unless you were George Carlin trying to sell CD's?

I finally figured out it said "Live Fast".  But here's the problem:  If this guy is driving down the highway at 70+ mph and he wants people to see his logo and call him, they have to be able to read it in 2 seconds, max.  I'm guessing the "Live Fast" phone won't be ringing off the wall.  Maybe the Live Fart phone, but not the Live Fast phone.


I wonder if the Live Fart....er....Fast.... guy started out his sign painting career as a graffiti artist?  Am I the only one who can't read most graffiti?  Does this ^ say anything?  Is it some sort of protest sign?  If so, what are they protesting?  Or are they selling something?  I have no idea.  

K always accuses me of being a stuffed shirt.  Actually what she says is I have a stick up my a__.  If I have something to say, or sell, I write it plainly and keep the message simple.  If you can't read it in a couple of seconds it loses it's impact.  It's worthless. Old fashioned maybe, but it works.

Trust me.  I know all about signs.



S




Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Another day, another dollar


This is a home we built last year for a prominent local attorney and his family.  He's called us back to build a 2500-3000 square foot addition....the final plans are at the architect's now.  Looks like I'll be doing the structural parts soon, then turning it over to bro for the pretty parts.  While I am "retired", the extra coins are appreciated.   Still going in late and leaving early, though.

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

The storms we had around here last week have really stirred up the pollen....I spent the holiday sneezing. I mean hundreds of times, one right after another.  And when I sneeze, I rattle windows.  There's nothing discreet about my sneezes.  How do people make those little tiny "ah choo's"?  

I think my poor dog is shell shocked.  He'd get nice and comfy on my ottoman right next to me, then I'd get hit by a dozen or so sneezes, and he'd jump straight up and run under the coffee table.  I imagine this is how school kids looked back in the '50's and '60's during those atomic bomb drills when we ducked under our desks.  All better today, though.

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

I heard on the news the Commie Chinese have gotten into the computers at our major defense contractors and stolen all the good stuff....plans of our newest defense hardware.  Grrr!  

I wanna know why we haven't gotten into THEIR computer systems and just scrambled the hell out of 'em?  Or how about leaving them with nothing besides Windows?  They'll spend all their time rebooting and calling the Geek Squad.  Haha!

Hope you had a nice holiday, or if you're outside the US, a nice weekend.  :)

S



Monday, May 27, 2013

"Trust" is our mantra


First things first:  Let me thank all those who have served in our country's military over the years, allowing us to enjoy freedom like few in the world can even fathom.  And may we always remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defending us against all who wish us harm.


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

My lovely and talented (and US Navy veteran) wife K is currently a week into her semi-annual health kick. It all started when she did some fairly simple physical task last week and decided she wasn't in shape.  This always gets her fired up to become some sort of physically fit poster child for 40+ aged women.

Because this isn't her first rodeo, she already has on hand a fairly complete video library of workout programs.  She decided this time to go with The Big Gun, PX90.  This is the one where you go 100 mph until you puke or die, whichever comes first.  So far she hasn't puked, but I think I did see a guy in a black cloak standing back in the corner watching her intently.

She gets up at 4 am five days a week in order to get her hour-long workout in.  My only request of her is to keep her panting and groaning to a minimum as I still have two more hours to sleep.  Today I walked into the den as she was putting away her paraphernalia and fixing her after-workout protein drink.  This is supposed to help her muscles recover from the torture she just inflicted on them.


She popped the top on one of these little cans of dynamite and slugged it down, then announced, "YUCK!!  This tastes like crap.  You wanna try one?"

Hellooooooo!  I didn't make it this long in life by doing stupid things.  (Well, maybe a few, but that was back in my young/stupid life-phase.)  You've already told me it tasted like crap.  I'm not into re-inventing the wheel.  I trust you, dear.  And our relationship is all about trust, right?  Isn't that what we always say?

Now, if you still have the strength, come pull my finger.  ;)

S


Sunday, May 26, 2013

"Eccentric" is the code word for "weird", right?

OK then, I must be one eccentric dude.  I've become greatly enamored with a sport whose championship game doesn't even get a mention in the NYT.



Yesterday morning Texas time my adopted team, the Northampton Saints played the Leicester Tigers for the English Premiership Championship.  (I found it on an obscure cable channel that I have now dubbed The Eccentric Channel.)  We lost, and I was heartbroken.  But what a game!  Their captain was knocked out of the game after 2 vicious tackles, and our captain got himself ejected from the game for swearing.  Oh yeah....at the referee.  I guess their officials aren't as thick-skinned as American football referees.  Hah!

There was lots of chatter on the official Northampton website afterwards, and I left a comment too, introducing myself as a Yank newcomer to the sport and a fan of their team and congratulated them for a great season.  My little blurb got 27 "likes" and 4 nice "comments", way more than any of the other 100 commenters.  What a hospitable bunch they are!

I checked the paper this morning and found....nothing.  I mean, baseball, basketball, hockey, football news....sure, I understand those getting top billing.  But then I checked "global sports" and found European tennis results, soccer scores from Germany, track training news from Kenya, even info about some stupid bicycle race in Italy, but no CHAMPIONSHIP RUGBY GAME mention.  We ranked below some guys in leotards with skinny bike seats shoved up their ass!  Really?  *Oh, the humiliation*


I guess I'll just wear the moniker "eccentric" with pride.  Hmmm....now that I think about it, when mom called me "special", was that a code word too?  ;)

S

Friday, May 24, 2013

Back In The Saddle Again




I never knew Gene Autry was talking about bankers when he recorded this song.

Short recap:  The banking industry persuaded (bribed) lawmakers into relaxing rules and regulations that had kept them honest for the previous 50 years, allowing them to originate all kinds of highly profitable but also highly risky investments.  After massive profits were skimmed off the top the scheme collapsed, and taxpayers had to step in and take on massive debt to bail them out.

Lawmakers said "never again!" and drafted new rules that put curbs on big banks.  Of course the bankers fought back, wanting to keep their mega-profit machine up and running.  They won.  This was in the news this morning:

WASHINGTON-- Bank lobbyists are not leaving it to lawmakers to draft legislation that softens financial regulations.  Instead, the lobbyists are helping to write it themselves.

One bill that sailed through the House Financial Services Committee this month--over the objections of the Treasury Department--was essentially Citigroup's, according to e-mails reviewed by The New York Times.  The bill would exempt broad swaths of trades from new regulation.

In a sign of Wall Street's resurgent influence in Washington, Citigroup's recommendations were reflected in more than 70 lines of the House committee's 85-line bill.  Two crucial paragraphs, prepared by Citigroup in conjunction with other Wall Street banks, were copied nearly word for word.  (Lawmakers changed two words to make them plural.)

Remember last November when candidates told us if we would just vote for them, they'd get the government out of our lives?  They double-crossed us.  What they really meant was, "Vote for me and I'll give the bankers whatever they want."  And we bought it.  Sure, they'll let us fight over the social issues of the day, but if there's money involved, the bankers call the shots. 

I think George Carlin was right:


Face it....the bankers own us, lock, stock, and barrel.  We're trapped.

S

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Here's what I don't get

The "religion of peace" has struck again, this time by knife-wielding zealots in London.  I know, I know....you can't condemn an entire religion because of the actions of a few malcontents.*  Very true.  All religions have their nut cases.  Christians have theirs, too....just look at the Westboro Baptist Church.  

They're the homophobes who somehow tie every evil / tragic thing that happens back to homosexuality.  Flood hits NYC, tornadoes hit OK, earthquake hits the west coast....it's God's way of getting back at us.


But when the Westboro Baptist Church announces they are going to protest the funeral of a soldier, for example, thousands of people (Christians?) turn out to protest the WBC protesters.  We denounce people of our own faith (?) who preach hate and violence.  We don't celebrate them.


Here Texas A&M students form a shoulder-to-shoulder human shield to keep Westboro Baptist Church protesters from disrupting the funeral of a soldier KIA.

But when Islamic extremists commit a heinous attack such as the one yesterday in London when several Muslims hacked to death a British soldier outside his barracks, I don't see rank-and-file Muslims lining up to disavow the actions of their fellow Muslims.  Why is that?

"Gaza Arabs celebrate Boston Marathon attack with dance, candies"

You'll see a few individuals holding up little hand-lettered signs that say, "This isn't Islam", but they are totally overshadowed by the throngs jumping up and down in jubilation.  The majority just sit on their hands.

Why don't they cleanse their ranks of those who scheme and plot to do harm to innocents?  Instead, they seem to applaud them.  If you knew someone was building a bomb or building a war arsenal, for example, wouldn't you call the police?  Why do they allow their places of faith to be polluted by haters?  Why don't they police themselves?  Is this just a matter of the press reporting one side but not the other?

Yet after every atrocity committed by Muslim extremists in the name of Allah, the rest of us are cautioned (rightly) to not rush to judgement and take out revenge against all Muslims.  We preach peace and fairness....we "talk the talk" and we "walk the walk".

Mainstream Muslims say they ARE a religion of peace.  OK, fine.  Then I'd like to see them do a little walking, too.

(Move over Salman Rushdie.  I'm probably now on someone's hit list.)

S

*And please don't start your comment with, "Yeah, well, back in the dark ages Christians....".  I'm interested in the here and now.



Decaf?

All I said was, "I can't remember a time when you weren't talking."


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

I'm hoping today will be a "slow news day"


How sucky was yesterday?  First thing I heard was that a Dallas fireman was killed while fighting a 6-alarm condo fire.  DFD rescued 5 people from those burning units.  I don't throw around the term "hero" as freely as most do these days, but I think that deceased firefighter deserves that title.

Then there was the absolute disaster in Oklahoma.  OMG!  From what I saw on TV this one was in a class by itself.  I remember driving through Moore, OK about a month after their killer tornado in 1999 and seeing all the devastation yet to be cleaned up.  It was soul crushing.  Now this.  

I woke up in the middle of the night, my mind mentally designing a retrofittable (did I just invent a new word?) steel shelter that could be bolted to a concrete foundation.  I mean with J-bolts that would absolutely NOT pull out, and with steel walls that could withstand the flying projectiles that are the real killers of a tornado, and of course the debris that would come down on top of it.

Surely someone has already thought of this.  My alma mater (Texas Tech) is the world leader in tornado research;  I think I need to check out their website and see what they've come up with.  If such a thing is possible and affordable (most of what's available now are expensive and difficult to install), it should IMO be mandated in tornado zones.  

If my idea is better than whatever is out there now, I'll patent it (I actually know a patent attorney) and make the plans available free to the public.  Honestly though, there are bound to be smarter people than me working in this same direction.

Here's an idea....why not dispense with foreign aid (to countries that hate us anyway) and spend the equivalent on American aid?  Like storm shelters?

S

Monday, May 20, 2013

Rough week ahead


I am NOT looking forward to this week.  Bro has to go to a wedding (in-law side of his family) in Michigan and is driving there with two other couples.  I've been recycled as CEO / head flunkie again, this time for 6 days.  Ugh!

I can feel summer a-knocking.  For several days our temps have topped out in the nineties.....probably the first of about 150 this year.  It's 7am as I write this and I can already hear the lawn guys out mowing.  It's times like this I remember why I'm a happy renter.  Also, K found a leak under our kitchen sink.  I fixed it.  Didn't even break a sweat.  (I fired off an email to maintenance :)



Building Crane....the official bird of Dallas

Two more of these things have gone up near where I live.  This one is about 1/2 mile SW.  I'm told it's to be an 8 story office building, all pre-leased to an insurance company.  The other is about a mile S.  Plus the news reported local pre-owned house prices are up over 10% from last year.  Listen....can you hear it?  *inflation*

More drivel later.  Gotta go.  Have a good day everyone.

S


Sunday, May 19, 2013

This is really startin' to chap my hide


My newest technology issue (actually this is a techie issue, not with the technology itself):  I have for years bought Car magazine at the news stand.  This is an expensive magazine ($10.99) published monthly in the UK.  I used Barnes and Noble discount coupons to bring the price down considerably, but they no longer allow coupon discounts on magazines.  Bye-bye B&N.

I went online and bought a DIGITAL subscription to Car for my tablet at less than 1/2 the retail price.  This required that I "create an account" for my new DIGITAL subscription.  Name, email address, password....no problem.  But then they asked for my "customer number".  It says, "The customer number will appear on your PRINTED magazine address label."

Once again, I bought a DIGITAL subscription.  I don't have a PRINTED magazine with an address label to reference.  Without a customer number, no account can be created.  No account, no sign-in, no DIGITAL subscription to read.  *beating head against wall*

I fired off an email to Car magazine customer service. "Oh, we're so sorry for the inconvenience.  This was purchased through iTunes, so go to your settings, then 'iTunes & App Stores', then 'manage subscriptions'.  Enjoy!"

Nope, nothing.  They still require you to create an account in order to read a DIGITAL subscription, and this requires a "customer number", no exceptions.  Another email sent, which they promise will be answered within 3 business days.

All I want is my customer number.  Does this require a meeting of the publisher's Board of Directors?  Am I the first person to ever buy a DIGITAL subscription to Car magazine?  Nobody's ever said anything before now?

This confirms what I've said for a long time:  Nerds can do amazing things with bits and bites, but they don't have the sense to pour pee out of a boot with the instructions on the heel.

This is so ridiculous it's comical.  :)

S


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Today's rant....


My nemesis, passwords, have reared their ugly head again.  This morning my inbox was loaded with receipts, "notes about my new service", etc, from Verizon.  (This week we moved some service K had with AT&T and bundled it with my Verizon service.)

"Go to 'My Verizon' to see this valuable information."  OK....click...."enter your phone number and password".

Issue #1:  They don't want my "phone number" phone number.  No, they want the phone number for my tablet WHICH IS NOT A PHONE!  Why does a device that isn't a phone have a phone number?  That's how my account is listed in their system, they say.  Well, it's YOUR system, YOU figure out my tablet's phone number.  I have no idea.  I don't ever call it BECAUSE IT ISN'T A PHONE.

Issue #2:  Security experts universally say to NOT use the same password over and over.  I can understand that.  But I have accounts for multiple bank accounts, multiple utility accounts, newspapers, magazines, on and on.  How am I supposed to keep up with which account has which password?  Write 'em on a piece pf paper and keep it in my wallet?  Doesn't that defeat the purpose of security passwords?

You get one try at entering your password.  Botch it and your account is "locked down".  Now you have to call their 800 number and press 1 for this and 2 for that before they'll send you a new temporary password that you must change within 24 hours.

Hey assholes, YOU emailed ME.  I'm not phishing in your system looking for customer account info.  You have something to say to me, JUST SAY IT!  

Sheesh!

S


Friday, May 17, 2013

Land of the Brave, Home of the Fee



I just read that last year the airlines raked in $6B in baggage, reservation change, and other assorted fees.  And just coincidentally, last year the airlines made a profit of $6B. 

Wouldn't it have been cheaper to just board with NO bags, buy new clothes when you get there, then give 'em to Goodwill when you leave, flying back empty handed?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

"WE JUST CAN'T HAVE NICE THANGS"

The BBC reports that more than $1M worth of Chopard jewels to be worn by celebrities at the Cannes Film Festival was stolen from a hotel room there.

"Earl....I told you puttin' my diamond stuff under the mattress was dumb.  That's the first place them crooks look!"

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

SMART MR. MAYOR.  REAL SMART.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings is proposing the city build an $80M maritime museum on the banks of the Trinity river. 

No joke....this is it!

Has he ever seen the Trinity river?  Most days you can wade across it.  He wants to make the soon-to-be-decommissioned nuclear submarine USS Dallas the centerpiece. *good luck getting it there*

Riiiight....Dallas has such a strong maritime tradition.  I think a bigger money-maker would be to charge a few bucks a head for people to see where the knucklehead that proposed an $80M maritime museum in Dallas lives. 

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


And finally, I read that Speaker of the House John Boner is incensed that the IRS singled out conservative groups for harassment.  I don't blame him.  But he says just apologizing and firing a few IRS officials isn't enough.  He wants to know "Who's going to jail?"

Ummm....John....where was your outrage when all your banker buddies / campaign contributors defrauded investors and taxpayers back in '08 and nearly crashed the world?  I'm still waiting to see who's going to jail for that. 

*Still waiting*



Thursday, May 16, 2013

Careful what I wish for


I love "weather".  I mean the kind that goes FLASH and BOOM!  I love it when you can see it coming from miles away, and then you can smell it, and then finally you hunker down back inside and watch it blow over.  And afterwards, the air smells so clean, and hopefully has been scrubbed clean of all that nasty pollen that gives me such fits.

I vividly remember one spring back in about 1970 when I was a student at Harvard On The Plains (Texas Tech to you).  Every evening for about two weeks we had what they passed off as "dinner" in our dorm cafeteria, then went back to our west-facing rooms and watched the storms build to the west.  



They grew bigger and taller until finally winds at altitude began shearing off the tops, giving them that distinctive "anvil" head.  It sucked together whatever moisture it could find in the dry West Texas sky, and finally dumped it on top of us, complete with an accompanying light show.  Awesome!

One night it lasted for 6+ hours.  There was a flash / boom every 3 or 4 seconds, all night long.  The next day everyone you met around town was bleary-eyed from lack of sleep.  It was the talk of the town for sure.

Sometimes there were tornadoes involved, too.  In the springtime in West Texas they're common.  In fact, we made a game out of chasing them.  Today "storm chasers" have mobile 4G computer access to satellites and know where the tornadoes are likely to spawn.  It's become a fine art.

We weren't that sophisticated.  We were just a bunch of guys with a car, a full tank of gas, and nothing better to do. Well, except for studying.  Knowing that tornadoes generally travel SW to NE, we'd just maneuver ourselves SW of one and follow it.  

Most were harmless.  In the vast expanse of the South Plains of Texas there isn't much to hit.  Sadly, a few found their way to town, as in June, 1971 when one hit Lubbock and killed 26 people.  The apartment I had left the day before to go home for the summer was one of the casualties.



This is what the sky looked like yesterday evening around Cleburne, TX, just south of Dallas/Foat Wuth.  That dastardly funnel in the center of the picture was one of 10 (?) that plowed across North Texas last night.  Six people didn't survive, and property damage was extensive.  (My area was well north and experienced no damage at all.)

I still love weather, but now I'm wise enough to take it more seriously.  It can bite hard.

Prayers to those affected last night.

S

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

"Got Milk?" Yeah, and it gave me PTSD


It was 1967, and my dad had just bought one of these, a new Oldsmobile Delta 88 Sport.  No, dad was not a pimp.  This was considered super-cool back in '67, and I thought I had pulled off quite a coup getting him to buy it.  Back in my 17th year, most kids in my social circle didn't have their own cars.  (My first car was still a year away.) 

Back then we were dependent upon "the folks" to share their wheels, therefore the more hip the car we could get them to buy, the better we looked cruising around on evenings and weekends.  Since by then I had a drivers license, I was the designated family gofer, which I didn't mind as it meant I could get a few more minutes/hours behind the wheel.  (A five minute errand soon became a half an hour trip, allowing for all the detours.)

One evening while talking on the phone to one or another girlfriend, mom interrupted asking me to go up to the corner convenience store and get a couple of gallons of milk, so off I went.  (Thinking back on it now....damn....we drank a lot of milk!)

I should say right here that this childhood memory was prompted by Cranky Old Man's post from yesterday. Check out his milk story here.


Back in those dark and ancient days, this ^ is how a gallon of milk was packaged, in a returnable glass bottle with a heavy wire handle.  After buying the two gallons of milk, I got back in the car and put both milk bottles on the floorboard, holding both wire handles in my left hand between my legs while I drove with my right hand.  This worked well until I was almost back home.

Just as I made the hard right turn into our driveway (which had a pronounced hump to it as the ramp jumped the curb) the glass bottles bounced a little, then gently "kissed" each other.  Not very hard, but apparently hard enough.  One of the jugs shattered, and I had a gallon of Vitamin D milk sloshing around my feet.

I ran inside and grabbed a bunch of towels and tried to sop it up, but it was like putting out a forest fire with a garden hose.  I did the best I could but by then the damage was done.  The milk had penetrated the carpet.  Dad was not happy.

The next morning as we got in the car to go to school the stench of soured milk overwhelmed us.  Dad was really not happy then.  Long story longer, dad tried every carpet cleaning product made, even renting a carpet cleaning machine, but it was too unweildy to use inside a car.  He finally had to take his brand new car back to the dealer to have all the carpet replaced.  And that new-car smell was gone forever.

I really haven't cared too much for milk ever since.

S




Tuesday, May 14, 2013

"Fight Organized Crime....Abolish The IRS"

That bumper sticker always made me chuckle.

Now they say the IRS has targeted Tea Party groups trying to set up as non-profit organizations, technically  known as 501(c)3 organizations after the IRS chapter/verse that defines them.  They want to get the IRS out of politics.

I say fair enough.  Why don't we take it a step farther and get politics out of 501(c)3's?  Did you know there are one million non-profit organizations on file with the gubment?  And that doesn't count the other half million with revenues of $25,000 or less that aren't required to jump through all the hoops.  And none, of course, pay taxes.

This all sounds like one giant tax dodge to me.  Sure, I can see the Cancer Society, Heart Association, food banks, etc. as legitimate non-profit organizations doing work for the public good.  But the Tea Party?  Or MoveOn.org?  If some rich guy wants to contribute to a political group, fine with me, but don't ask me to subsidize his bribe generosity.  This is essentially what's happening when a group gets 501(c)3 status.  

I say we need to severely tighten up the IRS definition of "non-profit".  In too many cases it's little more than a legal tax avoidance scam.  I could live like "The Donald" if I had just a fraction of what the IRS leaves on the table.


Put me in charge for a few months and I promise our tax coffers will soon be overflowing.  (Well....less low.)  And there will be a lot of formerly highly paid non-profit CEO's crying in their domestic beers.

S


Monday, May 13, 2013

I don't like where this is going


Ahh Oh.  This isn't good.  I just heard on the news that the birth rate among women in the US has dropped below the level needed to sustain a growing population.  In other words, more people are dying than being born.  The break-even number is 2.1 births per woman, and now we've dropped to 1.9 births.

I don't think this is due to a lack of "lust".  The main excuse given for not having as many children is they are unaffordable.  Not too many decades ago one income in the household was usually enough to support a family.  Today it more often than not takes two incomes.  Apparently we're now on the cusp of two incomes not even being enough.

We've known that middle class incomes have been flat for the past 30 or so years while the most wealthy have seen their rate of income growth skyrocket.  This isn't politics, just fact.  It looks like we're approaching the breaking point.

This really has far reaching consequences.  With new technology and increases in productivity, it takes fewer workers to make the same amount of stuff it did just a few years ago.  Today it takes more of us buying even more stuff to keep employment up.  Fewer of us consumers can only exacerbate unemployment.  (This makes the slogan "Buy American" even more urgent.)

Higher unemployment = more misery.  And less tax revenue, which = higher deficits and/or less services.  We say we want to cut spending, but when we try (think the recent budget sequester and cuts in air traffic controllers and airport TSA agents) we scream bloody murder.  It's time to "pay up or shut up".  We simply can't have it both ways.

To a point I can see us slipping towards what Europe is experiencing right now.  For years they have been experiencing negative growth.  This is what we have to look forward to.

S