Sunday, February 28, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
There are laws against this practice of insider trading and for good reason since it gives those in control an unfair advantage over the rest of us schnooks.
This law is good and should continue.
Don't worry, it is not up for consideration but knowing how good it is isn't it time to extend the spirit of that law to other practices?
One case in point is about to rear its incredibly ugly pustule filled face on the public. And nearly every man woman and child will be affected or infected.
I am speaking of credit cards.
Today a new supposed so-called consumer protection type law goes into effect aimed at reigning in unfair and fraudulent practices by the credit card industry.
BUT our government, who really doesn't want to hurt any of the geese who lay golden eggs in their nests decided to lay out the particulars of the law MONTHS AGO!
The credit card companies, AKA banks had so much time to find the loopholes in the new law that many of them were ready to send out printed forms to their customers before New Years Eve.
And to make matters worse many of these same 'bailed out with our money' entities raised the rates and performed other forms of unfair practice during the many months in between passage and enactment of the law.
We can debate the issues all day long but there is one way to tell if all the measures being put in place are good for Americans or not. Check out the stock prices of the companies being legislated against.
Just like the health care industry whose stocks are hitting new highs every day so too are the credit card companies moving on up.
I don't mean to say that every issue is a "we vs. they" one but many appear to be. And to let one side know before hand what the new rules are going to be seems to be a bit like insider trading.
2 - Politicians continue to (seemingly) debate the issue.
3 - Health Insurance companies continue to make record profits while raising rates and dropping people from their roles.
4 - President Obama said repairing the health care problem was one of his main goals.
5 - Millions of Americans have no coverage nor the money or wherewithal to get it.
6 - Nearly 50,000 Americans die each year due to lack of health coverage.
7 - While everyone tries to put their fingers on the problem Insurers are flippantly flipping their fingers in a different way!
8 - Democrats were resoundingly elected to cure the country of the Republican-corporate mentality of screwing the middle class and lowering upper class taxes.
9 - While tremendous numbers of Americans are turning blue waiting health care reform Blue Dog Dems are looking more like DINOs ala Lieberman.
10 - Polls be damned there will be nothing done to repair the broken system simply because the 'powers that be' control the system as well as the law makers who are supposed to be in control!
Conclusion - Until and unless the politicians in DC stop collecting the bribes and reading from their tired script we the people will continue to lose. We can elect but can never select a politician who is not in the pocket of a lobby or two.
The entire above scenario is enough to make you sick. But try not to let it because, trust me you're not covered.
By the way - the answer to the poll in item 1 - DUH!
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Two communities in the Bronx,
The areas are cooperatives where the homes are owned by the individuals but the land upon which they stand is owned collectively. As in all coops this means that in order for someone to buy a home there they must first be approved by members of the current community.
The cooperative set up a rule stating that the necessary approval must be obtained in writing from at least three residents prior to buying a home.
The communities have been around for over 20 years and it appears that there has never been an African American family living there. This could merely be a coincidence but it deserved further investigation according to the advocacy group known as the Fair Housing Justice Center.
The group filed lawsuits after a couple was turned away. The couple was actually a ‘tester’ pair sent to check up on the practice by the FHJC.
You may read the entire article and follow the issue if you like but I had to post the story because of the following line used in defense of the community.
According to the New York Times a retired construction worker and resident of
The prosecution rests.
When you think of it everyone on Earth has a secret or twelve. Most of them are ridiculously unimportant such as I stayed in bed an hour longer than usual today or I forgot to buy milk on my last trip to the grocery store.
What's that you say these aren't secrets? But you didn't know either fact, right? So you'd be wrong!
However you’d also be right.
At what point does that which we do stop being an ordinary mundane moment of life and start being considered important enough to broadcast?
Some would say that the threshold between private information and public knowledge is crossed when that personal act has consequences for the lives of others.
But even this is not a sufficient explanation.
For example my omission of a gallon of milk from the shopping cart means a smaller profit for the grocer. It could even lead to further complications for him and his family and therefore it must be made public.
However the plans for the invasion of
So every action we take or fail to take has an affect on others, and if extrapolated, on the World. This is known as the ‘Butterfly Effect.’
And secrets only trouble us in the second person, as in her secret or their secret. We never mind having our own secrets.
So who among us feel that our entire lives should be laid open to public scrutiny? What good would it do for my neighbors to know how often I visit the restroom or take a drink of water? So we push that threshold farther away from our daily routine in an effort to unclutter our already complicated lives.
And this brings me to the wonderful and wacky world of politics in
Secrets are generally fodder for the opposition party. Muckrakers are employed to seek them out much like the sleazy paparazzi who hide in the shadows looking for any tabloid-like tidbit. And when spun properly these non-issues can be made into earth shattering events worthy of impeachment.
It was reported in the NY Times this Saturday that several beautiful sections of western
Normal people might like the idea of having parts of their state listed as special. The areas might become a
But before current Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar could get his ideas down on paper or even discuss his plans further the Republicans jumped into the game. An outcry started at the ‘secret’ land grab scheme of the Eastern politicians of the Democratic Party!
The specter of Governmental control of our very lives has reared its ugly head once again. Raise the colors on the Homeland Security chart! First Obama is coming for your land and next your guns! Lock up your women and children!!!
Naturally the next line in this theater of the absurd is, “Only we can protect you. Send money and vote for us!”
In the 50s and 60s there was a game show called, “I’ve Got a Secret.” It was an early version of reality TV without prizes. A celebrity panel tried to guess a guests secret. No one was harmed and when the game was over we moved on.
Unfortunately our current version of this game is very harmful. It serves as a roadblock to progress. And the atmosphere in DC consists of lunge and parry politics with stalemate the goal.
Well I’ve got a secret for you. The loyal opposition is not interested in us. Neither are they interested in protecting that land, only their own turf. This is merely the issue du jour. That is the dirty little secret about secrets.
And believe it or not, it’s no secret to the politicians.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
We can all find periods of time in our lives that lend themselves to the 'era' designation. Perhaps it was the time we had teenagers living with us. This era is commonly known as "AAHHHHHH."
An era can signal the beginning of life, or to use the above analogy, the time when your children move out.
But this piece is not about children or Camelot for that matter. This is about a car and what it signified in my life.
I graduated college a couple of eras ago and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.
Through a few weird turns of fate I ended up in the Textile business selling schmatta (rags) or as we in the fashion business called it, Schma-tay!
Everyone of a certain age or those with a knowledge of the past will remember "8th Avenue and 34th Street" in Manhattan as the bustling bee-hive bastion of the "Garment District."
The lower Manhattan area was vibrant and alive with segmented businesses squeezed together in an almost ghetto-like way. One needed only a day to access all each business had to offer because they were all there.
Just below the Garment District was and is the Flower district.
Off to the East, on Fifth Avenue is the Toy District.
And sort of just on the outskirts of both was the Home Fashion area of the textile industry. These days you will have to travel a bit farther East to find our textile production, about 7,000 miles farther.
But I digress.
On and off for 40 years I worked in that area. And for the most part I actually worked in the same building on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 29th street. In fact when I left one position to go work with another company that company was either in the building or moved into it shortly thereafter.
For the last decade and a half of my textile life I worked for one company. Surprisingly it was the same place that I started at 40 years ago.
The main difference between my two stints with them was my age; level of pay; and the owner who was the son of the original boss.
As part of my deal I had a car for which they assisted me with the payments. But when the economy turned sour in 2008 my car and I were included on the casualty list.
Whether or not they were right in letting me go after such long loyal service is subjective (not really - they were downright wrong and quite stupid as well.)
But that's only part of the story. Unlike them I had an obligation to pay for the car on my own and without an income.
So was my career in textiles an era, an error, or a combination of both?
At this point who cares? (Certainly not the old boss and his cronies.)
I have survived and although it was a tremendous and uncalled for fight to get a little help from the old place on the auto payments I was able to hold onto the car until the end of the lease.
But the end did come this month and the car has been returned to the dealer. My hybrid is history. A new car sits in my garage awaiting adventure.
I still have some friends from the old industry and I still occasionally hear from them but less and less as time goes by.
The old company still owes me money, as per their own words but it's been well over a year so I guess that ship has sailed.
And the last tie I had to my 40 year run in the textile industry was that car. And now both car and career are histroy.
Time to move on to a different life, a new normal.
It is the end of an era.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
I started a little early this year with a complete overhaul of my basement and some of the items I found would be worthy of a Mary Leakey expedition.
But little by little the basement, which is fully one-third of the square footage of my house is starting to take shape much like a woman changing from a moo-moo to a form fitting evening dress.
I also use this time of year to sort through my previous years worth of bills and records in order to get ready for April 15th. We all know that day as the deadline for funding the phony do nothings in the black hole known as Washington DC. And of course THE IRS or what they think your money is - THEIRS.
But this year I noticed a few things that most likely affect us all, corporate gouging of America. And this brings me to the point of this post.
Caveat Emptor! Latin for "Buyer Beware!"
I will not attempt to list every company or industry that is systematically trying to do to you what most young sexually active humans enjoy doing to each other. That would be a post too far. But I would like to pick out a few and starting alphabetically:
AT&T (being used as a generic for all phone companies.) My most recent wireless phone bill just arrived via paperless billing. The paperless way allows the company to save money that they do not pass along to you. They do however get you to agree to use this method of billing by using guilt about the environment. (They really don't give a rat's ass about the environment outside of that one in their penthouses.)
I currently pay for 5 cell phones, (don't ask) but 4 of them were added using the inexpensive sounding '$9.99 add a phone' promotion.
Without getting into too much detail I added up the exact charges I pay monthly and found that over 12.5% is added for governmental taxes etc. and is listed separately by AT&T. But they do not list an additional 6.8% over the base bill in charges I call the BWCs (Because We Can.)
That means my phone bill is inflated by just under 20% over advertised rates!
Check yours and you will find that you are being raped by similar amounts.
Insurance is in the public eye as much these days as are our Congressmen in the pockets of the Insurance lobby.
I will not even talk about health insurance here except to remind everyone that last quarter that industry reported a TWELVE POINT TWO BILLION DOLLAR PROFIT! Obviously no reform is needed there!
I recently switched three of my other insurance policies after shopping around and all I can say is once again, Caveat Emptor!
Everyone is different and each case will be treated differently but I can safely say that if you do not shop you are missing out!
I switched Home-owners from Traveler's (originally Geico) to Merrimack and saved $2,000 per year! TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS!
I took my two million dollar umbrella policy away from Geico and added it to the Merrimack plan and saved 50% or another $400.
Finally I left the gecko and his unbelievably stupid ad campaign (after 40 years!) and switched my three car auto policy to Liberty Mutual. I was and am still paying monthly but at a rate of $102 less per!
All told my insurance savings amounts to $3,600 per year for the same or extremely close coverage in every way. My savings is just under 48% per year.
I'll bet even a caveman could see why I switched!
Some things you cannot change and must rely on the crooks in DC.
But if it is within your power to save and you do not then you only have yourselves to blame!
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
In other words if something or someone is worthy of praise then as they say, we should give praise where it's due.
This idea is at the heart of the writings of Eric Hoffer who was born in 1902 and died in 1983. He was a longshoreman who became a writer and philosopher, writing newspaper articles and books on our social condition.
He won the Presidential Medal of Freedom way back when that meant something (before being handed out by the Bush administration to honor failure.)
His first book was and is considered a classic - "True Believer" and you may find out far more about this man on the web. The Eric Hoffer Resource is probably a good place to start.
I would like to reprint one of Mr. Hoffer's quotes here and let you go further if you so desire. This was written in 1968 and appeared in the L A Times on May 26th!
Oh, and by the way, Eric Hoffer was not Jewish.
The Jews are a peculiar people: things permitted to other nations are forbidden to the Jews. Other nations drive out thousands, even millions of people and there is no refugee problem. Russia did it, Poland and Czechoslovakia did it. Turkey threw out a million Greeks, and Algeria a million Frenchman. Indonesia threw out heaven knows how many Chinese and no one says a word about refugees.
But in the case of Israel, the displaced Arabs have become
eternal refugees. Everyone insists that Israel must take back every single one.
greater than any committed by the Nazis.
terms. But when Israel is victorious, it must sue for peace.
should Israel be defeated it would be destroyed.
Israel off the map, and no one would have lifted a finger to
save the Jews. No commitment to the Jews by any government, including our own, is worth the paper it is written on.
with America because of what we did in Vietnam, did not let out a peep when Hitler was slaughtering Jews. They sent Hitler choice iron ore, and ball bearings, and serviced his troops in Norway.
And one has only to imagine what would have happened last
summer  had the Arabs and their Russian backers won the
war, to realize how vital the survival of Israel is to America and
the West in general.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Barack Obama: "Bury me in my beloved homeland of Kenya. (Just kidding - you morons!) My tombstone should read, "Can I change this?"
Sunday, February 14, 2010
A trio of news items caught my eye today:
1. In California the agency that oversees the Golden Gate Bridge has voted unanimously to approve a study on environmental impact that enables them to move a step closer to thinking about maybe providing the bridge with a 25 foot netting that stretches the length of the structure on both sides that will possibly catch and save the lives of people who consider jumping off the bridge in an attempt to commit suicide.
The bridge has approximately 25 suicides by this method per year.
First of all anyone interested in knowing why our governments have trouble staying within any realistic budget need go no further than that first paragraph.
But it gets better because as with anything political these days there must be - MUST BE - an opposition group hell bent on stopping any progress while getting their names in the news.
The 15 minutes of fame group this time is claiming that the money for the life-saving netting would be better spent on mental health services.
Just how they are going to cull out the 25 or more possible suicides per year from among the millions and millions of people who visit the bridge in order to stop the tragic event is beyond any sane rational individual.
But since when has sanity stopped publicity hungry morons from stating their position? Perhaps they should seek help themselves and leave the governance to the grown-ups.
2. Wyoming has decided to start us on the road to taxing the very air we breath and everything Mother Nature has to offer.
In order to help us get out from under the thumbs of the oil rich sleaze of the world many projects have been started to provide clean renewable energy across America.
So the Governor of Wyoming sees this as an opportunity to get in on the ground floor as he sets sail to tax the wind!
I suggest that Governor Freudenthal (What were those first 5 letters of his name?) call his proposed windfall 'The Mariah Tax.'
But he and his friends in government better watch out because if we start taxing wind politicians themselves may go broke!
3. And finally a story that for lack of any other title can only be considered out of this world. There is a tiny problem on the Space Station.
Earlier this week astronauts added a huge room onto the orbiting space habitat. The new room, called Tranquility cost nearly $400 million dollars. (I believe a low level official may be on his way up to re-assess the space station and check its C of O.)
The new room boasts a 360º picture window from which residents may have a breathtaking view of the Earth and the Cosmos.
Breathtaking may actually be prophetic because they hit a glitch when they tried to seal the deal by connecting the final wall from the station to Tranquility.
You see the wall cover leaves a tiny gap and does not actually reach all the way to the end. Perhaps the Italian team in charge of manufacturing the addition used the metric system instead of the US System of measurement but no fingers are being pointed as yet.
Now on Earth this might mean a drafty entrance and a slight loss of heat in the winter or cool air in the summer. Unfortunately in Outer Space it might mean a slight, as in total loss of life.
Undaunted by the slight glitch astronauts have continued loading Tranquility with all the trappings of life in space with the possible exception of air.
In conclusion one can only say that we Humans are nothing if not inventive in both the ways we can solve problems and the ways we can create more of them afterward.
We may not be as fast as the cheetah, nor as huge as the whale.
We may not have the keen eye of the eagle nor the staying power of the lowly cockroach.
Our life span is slightly less than that of the Galapagos tortoise but no other species on Earth can screw up the entire world like us!
We are the champions my friend...
Saturday, February 13, 2010
According to the news services on Friday February 12th 49 out of the 50 States that comprise the United States of America were joined together by one common link. Only Hawaii was too proud to join in in the celebration.
On that day there was at least some snow covering the ground in each of those 49 States!
You know it's okay to call yourself Paradise but every once in a while wouldn't it be nice to be a part of the bigger picture?
So on a day when the rest of us were shoveling snow, Hawaii was just shoveling!
Well I hope you're happy Hawaii.
You ruined it for the rest of us!
Friday, February 12, 2010
You know, when everyone was gay and carefree?
Well who can blame you if you don't because those good old days were the nineties - The 1890's!
The decade directly preceding the twentieth century was given the nickname the "Gay Nineties." Of course many nicknamed the decade directly preceding this century as the Gay Nineties again but for a completely different reason.
So how did the word become so misused and misunderstood? How did we all miss the point?
I think it points to a 'dumbing up' of America.
Many intelligent people have tried to explain our fear of the unknown. But if we are in fact most afraid of the unknown then wouldn't it stand to reason that education could eradicate that fear?
Learn all you can about that which frightens you. Then use your new found brain power and God-given logical skills to erase your fear!
We all have preconceived notions of others and nearly innate prejudices that cannot and do not stand the light of day.
For example, and since I mean no disrespect here I will leave the second part of every line blank for you to fill in with your own slur. Trust me you will not be alone in your thinking.
Asians are -
Blacks are -
Jews are -
Gays are -
Italians are -
The Poles (Different word usually used) are -
You get the picture.
Will Rogers never met a man he did not like. What he meant was once he met someone, really met them and knew them he liked them for who or what they were, But conversely he may not have liked them prior to meeting them.
They say that fear breeds contempt. But contempt can also fester and grow as a cancer on society. And that cancer is not one-sided. Those we fear and irrationally hate eventually return the favor! Wars have started for similar reasons.
A recent poll in America shows our misunderstanding in a rather disturbing yet amusing way.
Asked "Do you favor or oppose homosexuals in the military" we receive the expected biased number. But change the operative word to 'Gay Men & Lesbians' and the change in response is dramatic. A 60 - 40 percentage in favor of 'Homosexuals' increases to a 70 - 30 favorable result for gays and lesbians!
The entire article is worthwhile reading for those of you interested in bettering yourselves.
Words do matter!
And how we use them matter even more!
The late great actor John Barrymore was said to have an amazing profile.
A bestselling book about our late President John F Kennedy was entitled 'Profiles in Courage.'
So profiles are good. Even the start of the word is "Pro" - which means, 'In favor of!"
But profiling is bad!
Years ago being called a Twit was bad - Now the entire world is a Twit, or at least they tweet.
In our current sound-bite era of information overload the truth is being obscured by the noise.
We use words that can save us time more these days than ever before. And we use them to signify entire paragraphs in order to set off desired emotions and reactions in our listeners or readers.
This is why now more than ever it is imperative that we really listen and understand what we hear! Most polls are meant to generalize and their results may give wrong impressions as in the above one.
How many of you would like your taxes cut?
How many of you want your neighbors' taxes cut?
How about if your neighbors' taxes were cut but not yours?
And by the way, remember that first Gay Nineties?
There was no Income Tax back then - (It didn't start for another ten or fifteen years.)
Yup - We were all gay and carefree!
The Good Old Days!
Monday, February 8, 2010
But while most people love to eat one group makes a religion of it. And by that I mean every holiday or Holy Day is punctuated by food. (All except one and that one is surrounded by binge eating but more on that later.)
For the Jews in America the joke is, "They tried to kill us, let's eat!" Or, "They sent us out of Egypt, Let's eat!" You get the picture.
So naturally when it comes to eating and innovation you can rest assured that a new way to get your food faster and easier will be invented by Jews.
Around 5 years ago a team of young entrepreneurs from Israel formed a company called Conceptic. They are marketing a new way to order food from restaurants. They came up with the idea a few years back and it finally making its move into the world of mainstream restaurants.
It does not bode well for waiters and waitresses per se but since when does technology care about getting groups of people fired or laid off?
Every table will be have an LCD screen where there may have once been 'Juke Box' terminals. The screens display the restaurant's menu complete with photos and prices. All you need do is point; click; sit back and eat; and of course pay.
There is naturally one problem that most of us will not be happy about. That is who to blame when what is served is not what we thought we ordered. We'll no longer be able to blame the server! (Unless of course the program gets a virus!)
So for all holidays, except Yom Kippur, our highest Holy Day; a day of atonement and fasting get your fingers ready to do the walking through the menu of your choice.
Let's eat - הלאט\ אוכל
Bon Apetite! Or make that - בתאבון
Sunday, February 7, 2010
There are over six billion humans beings on this planet and an equal number of opinions on what should be done about, well just about anything!
In simple terms this is the reason we have horse races!
But when you have a horse race there are typically between 8 and 12 animals upon whom you may place your bet. There are two or three horses considered to be favorites and an equal number of lesser but 'close possibles' in every race. And there is always a long shot!
To keep the analogy going a long shot remains that way unless enough people place their bets upon that horse. At that point the parimutuel odds system moves it out of the 'longshot' slot and into the 'close' group.
This is what is happening in the world of the TEA Party as it inexplicably continues it's march out of the long shot realm and into the mainstream (or mane-stream) field.
The original acronym is supposed to stand for Taxed Enough Already but it is misguided as the group is affiliated with, and even being run out of the offices of the Republican Party. The same party that has typically taxed the poor and middle class at much higher rates than the elite rich! (But who could blame the "Party of No" when so much graft is the reward?)
So the purse is great and the track is fast.
On the surface the movement is disorganized. It boasts rallies on selected turfs across the country with various speakers riling up anger in order to gain backers and funding for themselves. These groups hope to point out problems with the other side, whichever side that may be and promote themselves as the answer.
But what is the answer?
Some call it common sense or Horse Sense! But whichever you choose the one true answer is EDUCATION! (You Betcha!)
Listening to the Tea Party messages over the past year (and believe me it has been hard to do so) I understand the anger and frustration among the citizens of America. There are more of us out of work than in recent memory. And while Wall Street is doing well there appears to be no rainbow let alone a pot of gold on the horizon for the rest of us.
And yet crowds of people turn up at various Tea Party events to listen to the "Haves" explain to the "Have Nots" why they should vote for the speaker.
But do the speakers have the answers?
Do they even care to find them?
Or are they merely inciting to an almost riot level using half truths or out and out lies to get ahead?
When a lead speaker at a Tea Party rally says he is still not certain that the President is a citizen call him out! Tell him you know he is full of horse manure! Tell him to stop pandering to the uneducated bigot. That is unless he is one himself!!! In that case shake your head sadly and trot on away from him. (Another good acronym could be Tancredo Equals A-hole.)
This race should be an easy one to handicap. No the Tea Party is no longer a long shot but it is still a hag. It is a conglomerate of phony activists out to make more money by stopping any real progress or reform in the country.
The message is basically "Throw the bums out" and elect us to rule.
"We will stop the 'Death Panels' that want to 'Kill Grandma.' (This one being perpetrated by, among others Congresswoman Bachmann or as I like to acronym-ize her - Terribly Empty Airhead!)
"Obama is a (insert your slur based on the speaker or the audience) Socialist - Hitler - African Chief - Medicine Man - Illegal Alien.
One could easily blurt out Joe Wilson's infamous two-word brain fart at each and every one of the above labels and this time be correct.
Political movements are a part of this country and over the years have proven themselves to be productive. If they are good and deserving ones they continue but if not they die away. Many times some of their views are incorporated into the mainstream. This is how a nation moves forward.
If we were stuck in the past then women and African Americans would still not be allowed to vote!
Change can be good but one thing that must not change is our desire to learn.
Education is the key to this country's success and it must remain so. Learn the issues and read all the sides. Get to know the values of each and every horse in the race before choosing the one upon which to place your money.
And if in the end you choose the long shot then make sure you make your point with passion and intelligence and keep an open ear for hoof steps behind.
Try Education Already.