Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloweenie


Everybody loves to say they have a claim to fame or at least a rubbing of elbows with those in the spotlight. This being the Halos of eve and all such was not the case but I did have the momentary run in or should I say more like a passing of ships when they made this horror flick. Have to remove some cobwebs from the gray matter to recall the details. I was working on assignment in San Bernardino, Cal while the cast and crew were staying at the same motel. I saw very little of the cast as they were shooting a dracula shift (sundown to sun up) but on my days off they would gather up their cameras and crew out front around 4 in the afternoon to head to location. I never did see Linda Blair but was later told she was surrounded at the pool by adoring fans and looky lous. But I'm sure she'd love to erase this flick from her list of credits as her reward was a Razzie.

What ever happened to Halloween? Used to be a kids delight to turn an orange squash into a scary jack-o-lantern, get dressed up as a monster or pirate and try and scare the bejeesus out of younger siblings. The smell of burn pumpkin and a pillow case full of treats were a kids' valhalla. I think I've only seen one or two trick or treaters in the past ten years or so. Who got the most chocolate bars was always the contest. Some cheap skate would give away three pennys tied in a napkin. And watch out for old man Barnes as he was trying to give away some stale easter candy he got from the grandkids.

It was a dark and stormy day soon to be followed by a dark and stormy night. Better head to the store just in case. I'm always a a sucker for chocolate so all won't be a total loss.

And now for that scare that was promised in an earlier post which goes something like this:

"Ladies and gentlemen it gives us great pleasure to announce the 45th president of the United States...


Mitt Romney!"

Okay you can all wake up now it was only a republican wet dream. See I knew I could scare you.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Thurston Howell is alive and well

Banking is an odd creature when you think about it. Anyone with a vague knowledge of bookkeeping should know that. You debit your credits and credit your debits and somehow everything balances out in the end. For the consumer it's a different story. We borrow money from a bank that never existed and hope that we'll make enough to pay it back before the end of the loan. Banks on the other hand think in reverse terms. They see debt as an asset. They'd be delighted if the loan continued forever as long as the payments were made and the interest rates remain high. They win no matter what. If the loan defaults they get to write it off and then up the fees and interest rates on the next sucker. And unlike us deposits are viewed as a bad thing. They want the capital as low as possible and the leverage rate sky high. It's how they make their money. And they can't really lose because the spread between borrowed money and investments is always enough to cover the CEOs golden parachute should all go wrong. So who picks up the tab when all goes south? We have insurance called FDIC that covers the assets (that would be us the taxpayers) while we are also on the hook for the debt. And again it's all done with imaginary money that never existed. It's called the fractional reserve if you must know. And don't be fooled by the term Federal Reserve. It's no more part of the federal government than K-mart. It's only a body of rich guys creating money out of thin air.

But what sparked this little lesson on how our monetary system works? It was the announcement that USB the Swiss bank is about to lay off 10,000 workers mostly in the U.S and London. To most of us working stiffs that would sound like a very bad thing. Who'd want to hear of a factory laying off that many people here? But somebody always wins in these types of ventures and that would be the investors, the golden parachute boys, and the next crop of CEOs to grace the board room. They nearly always win no matter what happens.

So what's going on in Switzerland? It seems the value of their debt is not so valuable anymore or in this case they got piggish. Remember debt to them is an asset.

"Banks can post gains if the value of their debt falls, because it would theoretically become cheaper for the bank to repurchase that debt. But the rule also says that when a bank's debt increases, it must take a write-down because it would theoretically have to pay more to buy back its own debt on the open market."
A little too much leveraging here Mr. Banker? But shed no tear for Herr Gotrocks he gets a tidy sum for cleaning out his desk along with the prospect of starting his own investment scheme and life in the good old boys club goes on. For the rest of us we're too principled to play their little Ponzi scheme and we couldn't because they make the rules and we aren't included in their game. Nothing like being the low man on the totem pole when the budget axe is sharpened. Don't be too sympathetic for the 10.000 though. I hear they make a couple of hundred thousand a year on average. So in this case it's the wealthy eating the lesser wealthy.   

Monday, October 29, 2012

Weather you like it or not

As the lude and lascivious  Sandy grinds her way up the coast never were conditions more ripe for death and destruction. But being the sick puppies we are, everybody loves a good disaster, all eyes focus on the National Weather service. After all they have the best of the best super duper computers and numbers crunching nerds. Nothing throws people into a tizzy better than some catastrophic event be it fire or flood. Oh but the anticipation is finer than the best table dancer about to perform. And a fine day too for all the news crews scurrying about scraping for all the minute scraps of info to be had. But let us not forget the expert among experts rousted out of their ivy covered halls to give their take on things. Only they can't really give much better predictions than a delivery man or a dog catcher. It's all guesswork by anyone's stretch. You'd have better luck predicting the pattern of a balloon filled with paint spattered on a wall.

But this is the perfect of perfect of storms. And a few factors can be considered like the fact that today we have a full moon which means the tides are at their highest for the month. There's the fact that the leaves on the trees haven't completely fallen which make for dandy sails. There is the cold front coming down from Canada which gets to play havoc and intensify the situation. It's the end of the month about the time many are low on funds as in (What do you mean I have to evacuate? Where am I going to get the money to do that? ) And what disaster would be complete without the customary footage of the hardware store runs for plywood generators and flashlight batteries. And funny how the shelves always seem to be empty. Then of course there's the usual of usuals the news guy/gal who drew the short straw and has to stand out near the beach and endure gal force winds and rain while the home audience can't hear a word they're saying and gapes in awe as the gas station overhang gets ripped to shreds and blown down the street. Maybe they could just start using stock footage because they all start looking the same after a while. Good for the bottom line and who'd know the difference. Just make sure to cover up the dated hair styles with a rain hat.

Like waiting for a newborn this baby will come and the stories they'll tell of how they made it through the big one back in October of '12' always trying to one up the last one because you know how stories like that go.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Music


And who could forget those days of yesteryear when sex was dirty and so was the air? A couple of bucks for allowance and a trip to the platter store. Flipping through the stacks hoping to find something in the top ten at a bargain. Could always send away for a K-tel sound alike. An imitation band at a rock bottom price, must have been made up with the producers sons. Just enough changes to avoid the copyright laws. And who wasn't fooled at least once by the imitators. The cover looked so genuine to a prepubescent youth on limited funds. 


The Beetle Beat
Some would have you believe this was some type of tribute band but by the deceiving cover a less knowledgeable consumer could be easily fooled. After all there was no way to fact check until after being stung. Like today you broke the plastic you owned it.

But then there was the sell out of sell outs when "Light my fire"  a gutsy Doors ditty that suddenly became part of a car ad complete with a Kostelanetz  type accompaniment. Oh go gag me with a spoon I think I'm going to barf. Who after all doesn't have etched in their gray matter those melodic sounds between floors in the elevator? Exactly how that avoidance of copyright infringement happened is still a puzzle. I can only guess that it was one of the requirements for paying off the damage to the hotel room. Just how the Lincoln Continental made it into the swimming pool on the second floor will always remain one of lifes' mysteries. Funny to think that Andre actually made a "Greatest hits of the 60s" album that's probably now collecting mold in somebody's basement. As it should be.

Where are my tastes in music at the moment? Kind of hard to say. Much of the techno beats of today I equate to a wash cycle of the old Kenmore with a sneaker in the dryer for good measure. May have a good beat but you can't dance to it. Must be the lack of ravey type drugs required to fully appreciate the experience that I'm missing something there. On the other end of the spectrum is the torturous (add your own prefix descriptive adjective here) metal. I'm no musicologist by any stretch but I'd bet a five spot it can't be transcribed to sheet music. I'm fully aware that things tend to progress to their natural ends but it makes one wonder what the limits are. Even a kitchen blender or the garbage disposal hits a few harmonic notes every now and then.

There is some rather interesting stuff coming out of the middle east these days but with the current hostile climate it may be some time before it makes mainstream which anymore is Youtube.  But it seems we can never reach that balance between sequin sweet and ear splitting total destruction. No fears though eventually everybody loses the lust for an adrenaline rush along with better part of their hearing.       

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Welcome to the depression good or bad...mostly bad


U.S. economic growth up sharply.

Poor U.S. earnings shake confidence.

These were two actual headlines seen on Google News last night. Excuse me but last report I saw was that company earnings were up 70%. Who's screwing with the facts?

The GDP grew by 2% for the third quarter which would make for an annual rate of 8%. On average and in good years we grow by 6% . So somebody's fudging the numbers here.

On one page of the BBC business news we had the following list of stories:

So on a global scale things aren't looking too hot right now. With Greece in the pits, riots in Spain and the former Italian PM busted for tax evasion is there any cause for celebration? Nobody's said a word about the austerity measures put in place for the UK, Ireland or Portugal.

Forget Frankenstorm the world is headed for a meltdown only nobody will acknowledge it. I think I've said it a thousand time on this blog. You can't cut things to the bone and expect an economy to grow. Workers have had salaries and benefits cut all while local taxes and fees have gone up. Companies keep asking for more in the way of prices but it's not going to the workers.

Spain is a good example. Their unemployment rate just hit 25%. For workers 16 to 24 it's 52%. That by definition is a depression and Greece is in the same sinking boat at the moment.

What is selling to make for this economic growth. Airplanes are being sold to several countries that have ordered them and even if they cancel Boeing makes money. Cars seem to be selling well on the world market which is keeping Detroit and Ohio going. And I'm sure the arms dealers are making a killing at the moment (pun intended).

So at the moment all I can do is sit back and listen to the arteries harden, watch the rain wash out the embankment out front and wonder when I can afford to replace my tattered and worn out clothing. Everything is slowly falling apart and all that can be done is sit and watch a slow moving train wreck. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday pussy zombie

With that bewitching of bewitching day fast approaching what better way to get in the mood for a Friday than a zombie cat. But there are those far recesses of the back roads of the internet where sensitive eyes should rarely go if at all. Exactly what posses twisted minds to conger such perversions is anyone's guess. We all have our likes and dislikes and some go to the extremes of obsessions. But nothing could be more macabre than This, viewer discretion advised. Don't say I didn't warn you. And no this isn't about undecided voters either.

In hitting the store the other day I came upon or should I say was instructed to go to one of those self check outs. I detest such animals because 9 times out of 10 they never work for me. All seemed to be going well until I slipped the 20 into the money grabbing slot where upon the receipt spit out as normal but no change for a $6 purchase. It was then I informed the clerk who retrieved my correct change from another till. I informed her that she had a Romney machine that wants all my money. She laughed. I then told her to "get rid of the damn machines and hire more people".

But this is the pre Halloweenie scare you till you pee your pants post so I'll continue on to the next fright night adventure.
Hanford (you remember that place where all the radioactive material was created for our A tom bombs for WWII) is busy "cleaning up" a bunch of contaminated stuff left over from that era.

The Tri-City Herald reports more than 200 gloveboxes are being dismantled and buried as the Plutonium Finishing Plant is demolished.
These aren't the type you'll find in you fathers' old Oldsmobile, they were meant to protect workers as they processed plutonium. Should be an interesting process as this section of building weighted 10 tons. And how do you think they'll "clean up" this material? Out of sight out of mind they'll bury it in the ground. And as the years pass and they forget where they bury it (people are like that you know) I envision giant glowing worms and 50 ft. ants roaming the deserts of central Washington State in our future. (Insert the sci fi moog music here)

I'll save the chain saws and hockey mask stories for a later date. It is still early in the bewitching season and so much more can happen between now and then. I smell a three act play churning around in the gray matter which might make it to the second act should possession or creativity strike. In the mean time keep your stick on the ice.

Bank fails later.  
UPDATE: One bank fail this week in Pa.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

May peace be with you always السلام لك دائما

Screams were heard as the sounds of constant incoming mortar and automatic weapon fire continued its' constant litany. On a grainy cell phone image the dust and rubble could be viewed and something resembling bodies lay in the street. Little of this is making the foreign national news but it has continued relentlessly for days, weeks and months and now for nearly two years. On average over 100 people are killed this way each day and yesterday was no different:

At least 145 people were killed by Assad’s forces today, including 18 women and 13 children. There was yet another massacre in Douma where dozens more bodies were found slaughtered, while the whole Eastern side of Damascus is under heavy shelling. In the North, the city of Ma’aret an-Nu’man and the surrounding areas continue to be obliterated by Assad’s air force. The battles of attrition continue in the devastated cities of Aleppo, Homs and Deir Ezzor. Meanwhile, we are still waiting to see if the Assad regime will confirm it’s intention to ceasefire during Eid. The FSA has expressed support provided the regime also stops firing while Jubhat al-Nusra issue a statement rejecting any ceasefire or any negotiation with the regime. If there is a ceasefire, UNHCR says it will deliver aid to 10,000 families (there are estimated 1.5 million displaced people), working with the Syria Trust for Development in Damascus and Aleppo (which is an NGO set up by…. Asmaa al-Assad).

The chants of "Allah Akbar" always heard in all actions. One must ask if God is so great then why has he forsaken these people? This is no war it is a slaughter. There are no rules of engagement here. It's kill or be killed. And for the least among them, the unarmed women and children, it is no match for mortars and RPGs. It all makes no sense. What could be gained by wiping out a population and destroying entire towns? Is this some nationalized illness that happens every twenty years or so? How quickly we forget the Bosnias and the Congo massacres and the killing fields of Cambodia and yet history repeats itself. You'd think by now we'd have learned a thing or two about getting along but perhaps it's something ingrained in human nature. A need for destruction much like hunger or thirst or something akin to an illness like a virus on a ten to twenty year cycle? Or is this just plain greed run rampant to an illogical end? You be the judge.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The future is mine. We'll sell you some for $9.99 plus shipping and handling

Looking to the future we could all easily be replaced with machines. Such is the case with the development of 3D printers. Still in it's infancy yet taking strides forward they can be viewed much like personal computers were twenty five years ago. At present they can't do much more than produce plastic toys and nick nacks on a consumer level but companies like Boeing and GE do make parts with more sophisticated units. That may soon change with a few enterprising folks. Just like computers of old that once took up an entire room and had to be run by people with higher technical skills (Cobal and Fortran was not something everyone could easily learn), the newer 3D printers are as simple as learning a design program and a few mouse clicks. And the prices have come way down as well. What was once relegated to architectural and higher end manufacturers at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars can now be purchased in the two to three thousand dollar range, not much more than the desk top computers of the 1990s. The model airplane pictured was produced using a 3D printer by a mechanical engineering undergraduate student. It is fully functional and was test flown reaching speeds of 45 mph. All the components including the turbo fan motor was made with the printer. At present most of these printers use plastic resins but the more advanced models can use metal dusts and glues to produce metallic parts. There is one drawback at the moment which is the cost of the resins. A liter of resin can cost $149. Rather expensive if you're planning on making a few simple toys and no match costwise for mass produced products. But the possibilities do have promise when you consider making unique items that would be home made. And as the costs continue to drop we might just see these machines making their way for home use although more likely showing up in a garage rather than the living room.

But in looking at the way we've shifted from the likes of mass production to a self centered technology model there is a great battle going on at present. We've moved from an agrarian society through the industrial revolution and now to the information and high tech age of modern times. It was after all just a little over 30 years ago that cars had no computer modules. The gray haired executives still think in terms of massive projects and the fact that they'll be long gone when the oil runs out. What do they care if they leave behind a legacy of pollution, illness and destruction. Their heirs will be well taken care of from the profits. All the while the younger generation seeks a self centered unique experience and neither our educational system nor our business models are equipped to handle this shift. The days of preparing a student for the factory or farm are just about over. Younger people today seek praise for their own accomplishments rather the an award to a department or the company's quarterly sales figures. And we always though we had cornered the market on the the term "me generation". All this comes with a price. Call it a lack of empathy or downright rudeness, we see it from school yards to the halls of congress. There is a disconnect. We've gone from a wave while walking to a flash your headlights and on to a hastily scrolled twitter comment in our interactions. And with each step up in the technology march we've become more isolated.

So keep your doors locked and get off my lawn! I'm busy building my next drone. Now where'd I leave that resin?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Captain! Afghan war ships approaching!

And now let's analyze the analysis of the breakdown of the analysis after the recap of the analysis.

Libya oh Libya sweet Libya. Unlike Mr. "We'll shoot first and ask questions later" the current admin. handled the initial situation with far greater expertise and execution. And surely a different outcome would have taken place had not the opposition party ruled against providing additional protection funds to the budget. After all can't have people protected unless it's one of their favorite sons on Wall Street. Forget the whales "save the derivatives"! And don't call me Shirley!

Initial reports.
Initial reports are on average 99% inaccurate in any given situation. And how dare Mr. Obama give the raw truth about the reports from the intelligence community. Doesn't he know what spin doctors are for? That's what happens Jimmy Olsen got to the scene ahead of everyone else. But lest we forget few today can handle walking and texting (used to be chewing gum in my day). Logic would dictate that the row was caused by the release of a certain offensive video and like all conclusion jumpers jumped both the shark and the gun. Like the town gossip and Chicken Little combined Mr. Raw Money just had to try and make hay where there was none. Never once was he sympathetic to the victims or the families when he rushed to try and score political points. But that's how "Princes" get to be princes Voltaire. Only the Bain of business was left with egg on his face even to the palmface amongst his own party when he thought he had a game changing zinger.

So at this point it looks like he tried to hold on by remaining in the clinches like a worn out fighter. Sorry Mitt you're no Rocky and if you recall he lost in the end anyway. Never before have we witnessed so many gaffes by one contender. He's starting to make Sarah Palin look good. And he's starting to look like a fighter who's taken one blow too many. He's forgotten that fixed bayonets are no match for IEDs and all the war ships in the world are no help in the desert. But such is the case when you're behind and looking for any edge in this match.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Ryanopia and the little people

(Watch out senator you might trip over the little people)

Ryanopia - The convenient showing of objections to policies you've already support. In other words doing one thing and saying the exact opposite.
Example: Ryan said he supports womens' rights while he voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Act which gave women the right to sue their employers when they found out they were doing the same job and being paid less than men. Also saying he feels that women have rights to certain medical care while supporting the Blount Amendment which would basically make abortion and some types of birth control illegal. And who could forget his railing against bailouts to states for green jobs while he wrote three letters to the energy department requesting funds because "it would create jobs". But the myopic senator is more focused on pleasing his wealthy friends and donors than the welfare of the country.

A few more item of note to consider. Seventeen states have ballot issues dealing with marijuana and gay marriage not to mention yet more tax benefits for the wealthy. That is an attempt to get out the low information voters, that is if they have enough time off work to even vote. Who after all reads all the propositions in those voter pamphlets? The best city attorney would have a difficult time understanding that legalize.

There may be a cure for Romnesia and Ryanopia but the procedure is a bit drastic. It would involve both candidates the forgetful Romney and the myopic Ryan to leave their home states and head for Texas. Upon their arrival governor Rick Perry would then succeed from the union and they could set up the republic of Texas. Something akin to Somalia where it's the survival of the fittest. Women would be treated like the Stepford Wives and all work would be preformed by an undereducated class that think people rode dinosaurs and the earth isn't heating up. How'd those prayers to end the drought work for you Ricky? No worries they'll just have to figure out how to turn oil into wine and learn to eat armadillos.  Road kill stew makes for good eats or so I'm told.

But there is one poll that's being overlooked in all this Galloping and Pewing and that would be what the electoral college is doing. At the moment it looks like the odds are in Obama's favor as they have since this circus began. After 13 months of watching Romney spin his head around faster than Linda Blair in the Exorcist should it be any wonder that this guy isn't perceived as a leader but a puppet on a string? Hopefully the electoral college will remember their mistakes from the Bush years and make amends. We can only hope.

Later I'll have a quick overview of what happened in Libya before Spin Romney gets his hands on the matter. (Spoiler alert!) If you were paying attention the the VP debate then you know the answers.

Correction - Oops the Blount amendment gives employers the right to prevent women from getting insurance coverage for contraceptives on "moral grounds". None the less we know where he stands on womens' health issues

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Romneasia and Mitts' vision for America

Romneasia - The forgetting of years of facts and political positions for an attempt at political gain.


Sansata
Nobody likes a hypocrite and nothing could be more hypocritical than what Romney said at the last debate about sending jobs overseas. Call it outsourcing. Call it off-shoring. Call it anything you like, the result is the same. We lose a lot of our jobs and a few "harvest" all the profits. It happened as Romney was telling the American public that he knew nothing about tax breaks for sending jobs over seas. All the while Sansata, an auto parts manufacturing company that was doing quite well (thanks to an Obama bail out) was busy training replacement workers for the plant in Illinois, Chinese workers.  The company which had made record profits the past two years was being closed and shipped to China. To add insult to injury the workers were made to train their replacements. I can only hope for two things in this matter. One that they didn't do a good job of training and two that nobody here buys their parts from now on, but I have little hope for either.

If we don't reevaluate our economic position in the world we won't have to fight a war, the Chinese will have won without having fired one shot. Regrettably I believe that the Chinese have taken our worldly economic strategy and used it to their advantage. All of this has happened over a period of less than 40 years when somebody got the idea that they could make a ton of money by selling products to the Chinese. Ping pong diplomacy I believe it was called but our opponents were far better at learning the game. With cheap labor and an undervalued currency they set about to conquer the world and it looks like they'll win. But then you have the folks like Romney who wanted a taste of the action. What better way than to back a business partner who's only goal was the bottom line and how much money they could line their pockets with. And there's no way to stop it at least until the customers make so little that they can't afford the product. Even Henry Ford realized that.

Be weary of the person who's only goal is to make himself and his close friends wealthier at the detriment of all others. The workers at that plant were making $17 an hour on average when it changed hands. Not exactly a set for life position but a half way decent living. They had benefits and retirement when they worked there but not now. They were replaced by chinese workers making 99 cents an hour. And who will pay the price when our American workers can't afford to see a doctor or even be able to retire now? It won't be the Romneys' of the world. That bill will be sent to the rest of us.

Mitts' vision for America will be akin to Somalia only it won't be guns and bullets it'll be pens and contracts that will force the populace into dire straits. But fear not folks every dog has his day as the expression goes. At some point I see the man and his web of deceits coming back to haunt himself. At some point Karma will catch up to him and he'll land up shooting himself in the foot with his business dealings.

For another posting coming to a blog near you we'll discuss a malady defined by Princeton professor Michael Eric Dyson know as "Ryanopia".

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pussy cat Friday and Syria


A city of nearly one million people sits almost empty. Except for sporadic gunfire the occasional barking dog and crying baby an eerie silence hugs the city. Dust and rubble blanket the streets as young men cling to doorways for protection tightly holding their automatic weapons. The silence is broken by the sound of incoming mortar fire. We've heard it so many times in the movies but this is real. We can't see the shells but from our rooftop camera we can see only the thick black clouds ascending over the skyline and know that another building has been hit. Hour after hour the shelling goes on, no time outs here.

Eighteen months the war has gone on with a body count now at 33,000. The men women and children who once peacefully frequented the shops have either fled or were killed. This is the slow suicide of a nation. Assad is slowly killing not only the people but himself in the process. A country is not made up of just one group or another it's a mix of races and cultures. And you can analyze all the politics and religious alliances until the cows come home but this is a matter of greed corruption and power. There is a tipping point with any group or population when enough is enough. It began with a simple street vendor setting himself on fire in an act of desperation and has spread to the entire region. But such is the case when there is an imbalance in the system. When there is too much or too little be it power or money or what have you, the system will always seek a balance. It's only sad to note the devastation this will leave when it all ends.


Bank fails later
UPDATE: Three more banks failed in MO and 2 in FL.
I gave up on the parking lot index as there's a lot of empty places here right now.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Greed, for lack of a better term, is not good


Couldn't help myself after witnessing the debate the other night. In the first 20 minutes I lost count after 9 lies from Mitt Romney. Sorry guy you can't say one thing one day and say just the opposite the next and have people believe you. Maybe we could use the logician trick on him. There's an island of liars and truth tellers and you can't tell which is which. You can only ask one question to determine the road to the village and get a truthful answer. But with Romney you'll note how he tapped danced around the question of equal pay for women and went into the long thing about women and binders. We know his stand on abortion and birth control. He stated that he doesn't want government making those decisions yet it's been his own party that's passed absurd restrictions in those areas. A total ban is in their party platform and he has stated that he would overturn Roe v Wade on more than one occasion. So I guess he collected those binders much like Hugh Hefner collected centerfolds only this isn't the 1950s.

 Scanning the live casts for the latest real news we have Greece. While main stream media pays little more than lip service to the issues they face, the new media, livestreaming, gives the details down and dirty. It's still amazing that even with conditions as harsh as they are a few bold and hardy souls can still manage to distribute the news over there. And like our cat from a previous post the news is bad.

Where to begin? In Greece the unemployment rate now stands at 24.4%. The government has taken upon itself to slash wages and pensions while it raised taxed by 29%. If that weren't bad enough they also haven't paid doctors and nurses for over six months now. Here's something to think about as well. Athens a city of 150,000 now has only one working ambulance. At that rate you could only hope that a friend or neighbor could drive you to a hospital in an emergency. Calling for help from the authorities would be a waste of time. But this situation as we know is not confined to Greece. Spain, Italy, Ireland and Portugal are facing the exact same austerity measures. Ireland set about their cuts several months ago. Italy used part of their "bail out" to reinvest in infrastructure. Spain has seen street rioting for several weeks while Portugal has been quiet for the moment. Only a matter of time before this slow moving tsunami moves to the rest of the economies. We face our own problems if something isn't done by the end of the year with our budget. Fun times indeed. Greed isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wed. Funnies

Things are so depressing thought I'd lighten it up a bit with a few signs from around the planet.
Mmm Pup foo young



Did they bring back "the Golden Girls"?


And my personal favorite

Better keep your hands off their balls.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Slow news day


News drought.

You know things are slow when the top stories involve this actress or that and most of the time you've never heard of them anyway.

In other non- news the newest slimming craze is... wait for it... corsets? Jeez have we become that fat and victorian that the next big career field will be chamber maid? Got to have somebody to yank on those strings to make the thing work. Hum? Yeah babe we'll pull some strings and see if we can get you in.

Digging farther we find that no good deed goes unpunished. In an attempt to supply the Free Syrian Army with heavier arms to fight Assads' forces we find that most of the weapons are making it into the hands of hard-line jihadists. This was at the request of the Saudis and Qatar to supply rebel groups. Something to keep an eye on as their influence in the Middle East increases. Egypt has their Muslin Brotherhood now as part of their government after all.

It's getting harder and harder to catch live feeds from so many parts of the world now. So many have been cut off in just the last few weeks. Need to redouble efforts to dig for the facts. It was a great experience though to witness history first hand on so many occasions.

Still waiting for the other shoe to drop. As much as everybody touts that things are getting better and they are for many for the most part, nothing has been done to prevent another dip in the economy. There are no new programs about to be passed in congress who, by they way, won't be back in session until after the elections. There are no major construction projects starting at least not here and I'm seeing no rush for seasonal employment either.

But life goes on. Just watch out for this sour puss. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

What do you mean we don't need regulations?

I'd like to say this surprises me but that would be a lie. I've watched as this has become the new business paradigm. All a quite simple somewhat unethical model for raising profits to new heights. That is if you don't get caught in the consequences. It all started out easy enough. Some time back in the 1930s a whole bunch of people were sickened by tainted foods. Our government thought it prudent to establish some oversight into the process. It was a start but as years passed it never kept up with an expanding population or the shift to factory farming we now have today. Even back then there was no abundance of inspectors and the methods used back then and even today were and are little more than visual inspections followed by that blue stamp of approval. Unless the FDA was planning on developing inspectors with microscopic vision then little has changed.

Somewhere along the line things did change but not for the better. Producers gained more and more power in congress and prevented the natural progression of tighter rules and more inspections. And today we have the end results of almost no standards and little oversight. The producers to their discredit started using third party inspectors who are accountable to no one other than their paying clients. Of course they'll give you the results you want when you're the boss. We have seen the latest results of this system by the many recalls of late. But that's just the tip of the iceberg in this story. It doesn't expose some other not too settling facts lurking in the background like the fact that much of our produce now comes from foreign countries who's sanitary standards are less than ours. And in some countries no inspections are required at all.

Here's the rest of the story

But there's a touch of irony in reading this story. You will note that it was written by a writer from or for Bloomberg News. That would be the same Bloomberg running NYC who only likes government interference when it comes to deciding how much soda you can drink at one time. Can't think of a good analogy for this but "being hoisted by ones own petard" comes to mind. But we have seen this MO in so many industries of late. Shuffling off responsibilities to a third party then claiming deniability when things go wrong does not solve the problem. Here's a few interesting facts you may or may not have known. The airlines send their aircraft to south america for inspections and major repairs. Even the baggage handlers were outsourced in America to a British company that hires minimum wage workers. Truckers that move loads from our docks barley make enough to maintain their rigs. Again outsourcing to east African immigrants kept the companies costs low but at a cost of safety to the public. In the case of the meat processing plants it's a matter of lax and inconsistent regulations coupled with an uneducated and overworked labor force. The inspection process itself is understaffed and underfunded. And you can figure out who is responsible for that. It's happening in every industry from food to health care. Profits come before all else. For the latest meat contamination problem in Canada it was caused by slow reporting spotty testing and a work force made up of Somali immigrants working at an insane pace to keep up with demand. The plant processed some 4000 head of cattle per day.

What's needed is balanced regulations, more inspectors and a trained workforce not afraid to correct mistakes and safety issues. What management fails to realize is that it's cheaper in the long run to work in a safe manner both for the workers and the public. What good are profits when the public loses faith in your product?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Spin cycle

Now that the republican party is staggering to it's feet after getting decked by a Biden roundhouse right, they're trying their best at damage control. Truth has a way of doing that when the white lies flew. Their latest hook to try and hang their hats on is that somehow the White house is responsible for the attacks in Libya. Pretty lame when it was their own party that cut the budget for security to the embassies at a time when dangers in the middle east were on the rise. This even after there was a request for increased funding by those they're blaming. And of course you could imagine their response had such funding actually made it through the legislature. Wasteful spending indeed. Security is like a fire extinguisher. You hope you'll never have to use it but you're glad it's there when you do.
With all the gyrations of positions coming from the right of late it's a wonder anyone can make sense of their party. Pick any issue and they stand with all sides which neither makes for good policy or leadership. You can no more drive a car by first slamming into drive then hastily crank it into reverse. Not only is that not good for the transmission observers would think you were nuts. But maybe they are somehow trying to emulate what those Nobel prize winners did by proving a particle could be in two places at once. That may be true in the nano world of quantum physics but not in our marco world of real life.
The psychosis runs rampant. First Romney was for pro choice then he was anti abortion then he was for limited abortions until he wasn't or so his campaign staff said. Trying to be all over the map is not going to get you elected and it makes you look like a fool. You can't call 47% of the population moochers then say you're for the 100%. You're not. We know who you and Ryan are for and it isn't us. You wouldn't have bragged how you liked to fire people then tell us how you'll create millions of jobs. It just can't work that way. You can sell your snake oil to your 1% friends but we aren't buying it.

But the spin cycle continues turning good new into bad and bad news into good. Biden grows a backbone and suddenly he's a mean old man. No this is what happens when you've spend four years belittling every idea that's come down the pike even though most of the ideas were yours. You can't use the "N" word on the president so you've called him every name short of that. Sorry lady a communist is not someone who'd lower taxes 18 times in a 4 year period. A socialist is not someone who'd prop up a private company so that it can continue to make profits. But I forget these are the low information voters who rail against any government medical programs while demanding that Medicare not be ended. Be careful lady you might just end up drinking the wash water if you continue to listen to them.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Friday pussy and the liar

Okay I know it's disrespectful to the feline set to lump them in with politicians. Cats are about as straightforward as about any creatures on this earth but this is post debate season at least for the VP nominees. The incumbent came out scratching and clawing while his opponent had that look of a deer in the head lights. And on the debate stage  Biden had the demeanor of a tiger not letting Ryan get away from his distortions. Ryan looked like an amateur to the season veteran. Some memorable moments were when Joe pointed out that Ryan wasn't at meetings with Netanyahu or had even set foot in Afghanistan. On the budget Ryan was like Romney devoid of specifics. And as anyone could see you can't lower taxes on everybody, raise military spending and have no way to pay for it other than gutting all the deductions for the middle class and eliminating nearly all the safety nets. To lower taxes by 20% amounts to 5 trillion dollars anyway you slice it and there aren't enough deductions to cover that. Just the mortgage interest deductions alone wouldn't cover but a tiny fraction of that bill.
 • The 2011 tax expenditure estimate for the MID is $78 billion (Source: JCT) 
MID = mortgage interest deduction
So what would that leave to cut? There's the medical costs deductions, charitable contributions, earned income credit and lastly the child care credit. (Note Romney won't touch the expenses for investments thereby protecting himself and his wealthy friends) But even if you added all that up it wouldn't come close to a balance. It would leave a debt and to add to that debt he wants to build some outlandish military hardware to the tune of nearly $2 trillion that even the military says it doesn't want. Just so you know our military budget on average runs at $500 billion (several hundred billion larger now due to the wars) and we have a military that's larger than all the worlds' combined minus China and Russia.

Lastly there's the issue of abortion and birth control. Ryan stated that he would leave that up to government. In other words should legislature fall into the hands of republicans then a woman's right to dictate about her own body would be done by the government. Ryan by the way still stands by an idea that there are different types of rape. Even though he stated that there should be exceptions for rape or risk to life, the republican platform states otherwise. It does indeed have a personhood provision and would therefore make all abortions and some forms of birth control illegal. So it would be back to back alley abortions and internet birth control for those that could afford it.

But in all these debates nobody's talked about or even said a one word about the liars who tanked the economy in the first place. The bankers who made liar loans profited from the process and then got bailed out giving themselves yet another bonus.
                                                  
Bank fails and parking lot index later.
UPDATE: No banks have failed this week but in the last two years 135 banks have failed. Need to update the parking lot index formula as so many have left the area in the past two weeks.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fakes, phonies, scammers, and prostitutes

Digging through the want ads specifically the job postings I find a ton of non jobs that somehow turn into scams on further examination. I kid you not a job for laborer read: Wanted individual with truck tools and work boots with the following experience:

  • Have Tools
  • Drywall
  • Framing
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical
  • Painting
  • Tile
  • Floors
  • Carpet
  • Driver's License
  • Concrete
  • Carpentry
  • Etc.
Microsoft Outlook (Email/Calendar) Intuit Quickbooks
In addition said "employee" must schedule the work, take a down payment and send an invoice. All for $17 an hour with no benefits. So when you calculate that out you'd be making far less than minimum wage with all the headaches of running a business.

Then there's the work at home scams which work something like this: Make gazillions mailing letters from your home. How? By sending out letters like this telling people they can make gazillions at home by mailing out letters. But to receive our secret formula for doing that you'll need to send in $9.99 (no CODs) to our post office box in Detroit, MI.

Other scams - FREE SHIPPING BOXES!!! mouse print - when you sign up for our storage rental agreement.
Certified Nursing Assistant position - = training through our state certified course. What they don't tell you is that the training isn't paid and in some cases you pay to go there, so they land up with free labor as they run hundreds of folks through the program. I think we've all learned by now that free is never free unless it's some white elephant give away. Unless you can train it and dump it on somebody else you're stuck with it.

Additionally - We have women selling themselves via the pages of backpage.com and craigslist although the latter has pulled much of their ads for that sort of thing. But the ads that are out there are far from discrete complete with "sexy" photos that is if you can stand the sight of a tad overweight middle aged females who didn't quite make it to the glass ceiling much less break through. No trophy wives in this lot. At $100+ per "date" I'm sure they're close to making the rent. After all so many have doubled and tripled up now to cut expenses.
And what are the post college age crowd doing to get by? Aside from emailing out enough resume's to stop a server dead in it's tracks they pass the hours tweeting, skyping, and in chatrooms trying to amuse themselves. Then of course there's the drugs and alcohol because after all what better way to forget your troubles.

It somewhat surprises me that I haven't seen more cons going on these days. The door to door type selling magazines that you never get or the phony building inspector. I guess with the web it's easier to hide and you can reach far more people with your Nigerian scam  than with phone or door to door. Although to their credit there are the robo calls from the Ukraine, I believe trying to get me to lower my credit card rates. And that makes me wonder exactly how my email address made it to their clutches. I never signed up for a weight loss program or an ED treatment in my life.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

We've become too efficient for our own good

This problem goes back to the beginning of the industrial revolution. Back then it took two guys a whole day to cut down a tree. There was more work than people to do it. Horse and buggy was the order of the day. That was great for the horse breeders, carriage makers and buggy whip producers. It also provided jobs for poop scoopers and dead horse removers. Not so any more. What used to take three dozen guys a 10 hour shift 6 days a week to do can now be done in less than a day with a machine. Not saying that progress is a bad thing necessarily but it sure is putting stress on the population. Watching over the last few decades as the need for workers shrinks and with each new and more efficient method the need grows less. Steel mills that once employed thousands are now reduced to a skeleton crew all automated with one operator, a small clean up crew and a repair man or two. At one time entire floors of office buildings were filled with secretaries and typists who kept the lines of corporate communication open. Replaced with a cheap desktop and word processing app. Regular mail is dying and even the competition is feeling the pinch.

What's left when there's no need for the hoards of workers who built this country? A few glimmers of hope but manufacturing is just about gone. Service jobs are done mostly by immigrants legal or otherwise. No, it seems somebody's pulled the ladder to success up through the ceiling and onto the roof and they don't want any company up there. Really what's left? The medical field would seem to be a logical choice with an aging population but even there efficiencies have thinned the prospects. What used to take several hours to produce an xray now takes minutes and you don't need that much training with the new computer systems. There's computers. But that would take years of training and constant updating just to keep up with the changes. It's also being outsourced to far off lands at a lower cost. Even in the automotive field what used to take a high school diploma now requires ongoing high tech training. There was a time not long ago when you could do a tune up for $25 and it would take you an hour or less. Not so with today's cars. They have more computers than a NASSA rocket and good luck if your keyless entry system fails.

No we've gotten so efficient that there isn't a need for the scores of workers necessary to keep things going but there in lies the problem. No work equals no demand to produce more products which equals no work. A vicious downward cycle. But what this is doing at the moment is creating desperation and desperate people. Never before have I witnessed more scams, embezzlements, and cons. Our infrastructure is falling apart. It's time to get working before those with the knowledge die off or get too old to care.  

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

We don't need terrorists we have republicans

Think about it for just a sec.

Had a budget surplus until they got in.

We were safe until they got in. - 911 and anthrax attacks.

Weren't at war until they got in.

Never fought a pre-emptive war until they got in.

We had good jobs until they got in.

Had almost enough to retire until they got in.

Women had the right to determine what they could do with their own bodies until they got in.

People had homes until they got in.

People had hope until they got in.

Fewer people were living on the streets until they got in.

More soldiers were alive until they got in.

One hundred thousand Iraqis were still alive until they got in.

The budget was balanced and the debt was being paid down until they got in.

People didn't have to worry if they could vote or not until they got in.

Could almost afford college until they got in.

Gas prices were low until they got in.

Banks were solvent until they got in.

Feel free to add your own "until they got in". A terrorist might leave you off your game and in fear but never for so long. Like a rattle snake eventually they go away but with republicans they hang around for life terms making all but their pals miserable.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Blogger strikes again

Once again blogger isn't satisfied with leaving well enough alone. It decided that I must keep giving it my password even though I'm always signed in. Then it wants my phone number. Hey you're not a hot blonde so you're not getting it. What's next a stool sample and a rectal exam just to get to my blog? Forget it! And their latest little torture was they turned on spam control without my permission. Wouldn't that be like coming over to your house and rearranging the furniture without your permission? Kindly keep you mitts off my stuff thank you very much. I've gotten maybe 3 or 4 spam messages over a 6 year period. I'm not to lazy to hit the delete key when they show up either. Now where the hell was I when so rudely interrupted with google nonsense.

I see in the news Syria is once again using Turkey as target practice. That was right after they promised never to do it again. What do you say? Third times a charm and then all hell will break loose. And I see Gaza got the same treatment although I didn't read the full story. But...

Remember when the right wingers were whining about bringing terrorists to our land? Can't have that. They might escape and run around and rape our babies if they set foot on 'Merican soil. Well it appears that we have 5 of them in NY city awaiting arraignment set for Oct. 9. Well run for your lives. Hide under the bed because they might escape, shave their beards and take our jobs at the 7 -11s. Oh that's right they already did. Never mind. And of course there's the mentality that we must fight them over there. So much easier to blow them up with drones from a remote location in a Nevada office building rather than face to face. And I'm sure they don't mind if we blow up their neighbors and kids in the process. Collateral damage sounds so much neater than describing juvenile body parts on the eleven o'clock news. Imagine if such tactics were used in this country to go after criminals. The house at 123 Main street was leveled when suspected drug dealers at the home were wiped from the face of the earth. Two families next door on both sides of the home were also killed in the operation. Oh well just collateral damage.

O well I guess it's back to listening to the arteries harden and watching the bank account evaporate. Don't tell me I've nothing to do Capt. Kangaroo.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

News you can't use and some you can

This started out as the usual post about random things unrelated to each other but somewhat interesting as can be expected. Then snaking through the interwebs one stumbles on the connections. Seems everything is connected in it's own unusual way. It's just that like the perspective of an ant, we just can't view it far enough away to see it. The brainiacs of brainiacs have cobbled together a unique program for predicting the future via the traffic on the web. They have some how managed to make sense of all the world's chatter in an effort to make predictive forecasts. Much like gleaning the data from weather stations throughout the world to predict the weather. But their finding may surprise you. It turns out that events occur not by external catastrophe but by a perception of a jolt to the status quo. This is quite true when you think about it. We all have our comfort zones to protect and woe to him who tries to mess with it. At any rate, I find this a fascinating concept seeing as how we have for the most part a heard mentality. I leave you to make your own judgments about Recorded Future. As for me I have no crystal ball or soothsayer powers but logic is still logic.

Funny how in looking at the news today I find more reruns than usual. Has the chatter stopped? Did the writers have writers' block? Did the pundits wrap their illogical narratives so tight that they've slipped through the worm hole into the realm of logical? Look that one up in your Funk and Wagnels Mr. Spock. Oops it's the google now, forgot. Me thinks there's a pattern here and it's akin to brain washing. The zombie sheeple will after all believe the unbelievable if it's repeated often enough.


 But repeat any word over and over and soon it becomes meaningless. And that's their evil plan whether they know it or not. Give all your alms to the ruling elite because they deserve it. They're the "job creators" so bow down to the boys in the corporate boardroom. But the only job they created was their own. If you hated government so much then why on earth would you want to work for it? Inquiring minds want to know. Wouldn't that make you part of the problem then? Oh I forget it's only the little people who don't count. Well let's see you get by without the garbagemen and the cleaners and the pickers. And when they complain about not making enough to survive you'll give them something to placate their needs like a job title. After all who wouldn't want to be called a sanitary engineer or an environmental specialist rather than a trash collector or toilet swabber?

It looks like a lull in the news but don't be fooled. Those that make their living off this will soon wake up from their drug and alcohol induced nap for another round of banter to keep the masses mesmerized. After all what better things do we have to do? Got to keep up on things. It's a moral imperative. And praise to him who can dig out the nuggets of gold that no one else can find. "He who gets the scoop gets the bonus", Perry White. Good news is bad and bad news is good but I thought we got past 1984. This is the twenty first century which is slowly looking like the nineteenth.

So where do we go from here (he said looking into his crystal ball)? Barraged with yet more and more political ads touting how the opponent kicks puppies and will kill your grandmother should he/she get elected. And faster and faster with more and more until you'll delight in seeing even the dumbest of commercials for a feminine hygiene product as but a momentary break from the mud splattered airwaves. The new fall season starts but with the interruptions who needs it? And who are they trying to convince anyway? This election stuff has gone on so long only a hermit would not have made up his mind. No need to do the train whistle stop tours through the Appalachians because even they have internet now even if it's spotty at times.

Turn off tune out but pass a good word to a fellow traveler. We're all just monkeys on this rock.

  



Friday, October 5, 2012

Friday pussy and other insane news


Guess the beavers have high tailed it up to their dams in the deep woods. Far safer with all the fires going on right now.
Don't forget the "head and shoulders".
And our first entrée to our news d' jour today must be personhood for dandruff. Huh? Scientists in Japan have managed to coax stem cells into mice eggs from skin cells. Gee what will the think of next? To their credit medical science has managed to cure just about every ailment a mouse could ever have. Now if they could just get the human treatments right we might have something. I'd bet our pussy in the photo is just overjoyed on this news. More mice, yummy.

More extremist on the loose.
And just when we thought it was safe to get the hell out of Dodge er Afghanistan a little under reported news states that:
The revolutions that swept the Middle East and North Africa also emptied prisons of militants, a problem now emerging as a potential new terrorist threat.
Fighters linked to one freed militant, Muhammad Jamal Abu Ahmad, took part in the Sept. 11 attack on U.S. diplomatic outposts in Libya that killed four Americans, U.S. officials believe based on initial reports. Intelligence reports suggest that some of the attackers trained at camps he established in the Libyan Desert, a former U.S. official said.
Ex- Philippine president arrested for plunder. 

Philippine police have descended on a Manila hospital, and placed former president Gloria Arroyo under arrest for plunder.
The onetime Philippine leader is already on trial for fraud and corruption.
Gee maybe we could get her a job on Wall Street. The boys up there could teach her how not to get caught.

Romney tries to walk back the 47% comment.
Sorry Mittens there isn't enough knobs on your etch - a -sketch to handle that one. You said it we heard it. No mulligans now.

So speaking of failures I'll get to the bank fails and parking lot index later.

Update: No bank fails this week. The parking lot index needs a correction. One neighbor died. One had a stroke and can't work and two others moved out. Looking very quiet around here.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Mitt Romney is a liar

Telling us a story about a hard off woman on the campaign trail is just a load of bull. It was just two weeks ago he was calling such people leaches. So sorry pal I'm not buying your BS. As to your economic plan a fifth grader could figure that out as well. You've touted over and over again how you'd lower taxes by 20%. Well that works out to $5 trillion dollars and there isn't enough deductions in the world that would cover that even if you did eliminate all deductions on everybody. It's called simple arithmetic. But we know by Mitt's past dealings with Bain how that worked out in his favor. I've seen used car salesmen with more scruples. It's trickle down economics or Bush on steroids and we saw where that got us.
We have watched as the republican party since you beloved king Ronnie start dismantling the safety nets of this country. Those at the top never took a pay cut but the rest of us sure did. So now it's privatize everything even though that would cost us all more in taxes and costs. Your premise that private enterprise can do the job more efficiently is just not true. Why? Because they're in it for a profit and not to do it for cost.

So let's do a run down how you'd finish off the country.

ECONOMY - More tax cuts for people who don't need it thereby leaving the burden of the debt to the rest of us.

HEALTH CARE - Vouchers $5000 that wouldn't cover the cost thereby leaving the balance to the rest of us.

EDUCATION - Again Vouchers $1000 to pay for private schools. The problem. Schools haven't been that cheap since the 1930s and we already pay for schools through our property taxes.

And just why do you hate big bird? What did he ever do to you? I hope little Billy catches up to you on the campaign trail and kicks you right in the shin.


Facts may not matter to you but they very much matter to us. We are the 47% you call losers. Well I have a few words for you. You're nothing but a crook and a liar. You didn't create job one in this country and neither did your crony pals at Bain. You were a lousy governor leaving that state in bad shape when you left. Sorry Mr. etch - a sketch you didn't fool me. The radicals on the right will lead you around be the nose just like they've done all along. And I'll have no part of it. I just hope Obama will call you out on your lies the next debate.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Safety nets

Nobody really thinks about safety nets until it's them who needs one. Boot straps are all well and good until somebody makes off with your boots. It's easy to criticize the other guy when you're pulling down a six figure income. But for many it's "you can't have your cake and eat it too".  And what is meant by that you ask? So many have worked all their lives but not quite made it to the finish line. They worked and saved but not quite enough to retire. They're stuck with a house that's worth far less so they can't sell it if they could. A quick look at housing shows that there is a bundle of homes in the one half to one million dollar range foreclosed on sitting empty. A body might have done all the right things all his/her life and still landed up with little other than a bunch of declining assets. But this is about safety nets.

For the most part I like safety measures. It's probably what's kept me alive for these many years. There is a point where there's too much gear to dawn and at a certain point one safety requirement gets in the way of another. The relatively simple act of cleaning the inside of a 10,000 gallon holding tank can become quite a production when all of the safety gear is in place. Steel toed rubber boots - check, poly overalls with jacket and hood - check, hard hat - check, ear plugs - check, chemical resistant gloves - check, safety harness with steel cable retrieval system - check, full face respirator with 50 ft. air line - check, emergency escape air bottle - check, walkie talkie - check, fire extinguisher - check, GFCIs - check, confined space entry permit - check, confined space rescue plan - check, work safety plan - check, notification of two government agencies - check, notification of the local fire department - check. The add to this 50 ft. of pressure hose and a 3 inch vacuum hose and things can get quite cramped in a confined space with all that gear. It's wet. It's dark. It's hot and it's dangerous but without the assistance of a supervisor and outside guys the job could not get done. They are the safety nets. If the air system fails or the worker inside gets into trouble they are there as a backup.

So here we are in our current situation, a bad economy, the worst since the 1930s. I've seen enough of those who thought that they were somehow above it all only to be let go after working 20 and even 30 years who are now humbled by the experience. They thought there were secure that it wouldn't happen to them, but it did. On the other end of the spectrum are the folks who might have worked for a time but due to one misfortune or another must now rely on the generosity of others. And few of them if any would like nothing better to have a job and be out of that system. Imagine for a second what it would be like if all the safety nets were removed. No welfare, no food stamps, no medicaid. Then take it one step farther with no Social Security or Medicare. All of these programs were put in place because people were dying. You can sneer if you will as if somehow your wallet is being robbed and the money being given to undeserving people but consider that it could be you on the receiving end some day.  

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Food safety recalls and government undersight


"It is the government's cuts and policies of self-regulation that have failed," Allen said. "In this case, XL failed to protect food safety. By the time the CFIA inspectors got involved, the contamination had spun out of control."
This could be anywhere in the U.S. just insert FDA inspectors and Brown for Allen. The major budget cuts for that agency came under ( of course) George W. because after all who needs safe food to eat?
Can't remember the exact figure but Bush cut the agency funding even after it requested a funding increase in 2008. So now we head closer to the perfect storm in food production. Cattle ranchers already hit with a draught the past two years have had to thin their herds causing prices to jump. Good luck finding a pound of ground meat for under $5 a lb. any time in the near future. And I'd bet anything that the current Canadian situation will affect our beef prices here in the U.S. Much of our beef comes from Canada especially ground beef a primary source of the contamination. We however assume our meat is contaminated and cook it accordingly. Legislation just a few years ago prevents the use of "downer" cows. After all what rancher wants a bad reputation in this difficult market?
There's another factor to consider here which is that the number of workers in these factories was cut and production was increased. In this case XL Foods was processing 4000 head of cattle per day. The problem was first discovered in the trimmings used for ground beef but with cross contamination it's hard to say exactly how much beef was affected.
Here's a current list of stores in the U.S. affected:
http://www.fsis.usda.gov/PDF/PHA092012_Retail_List.pdf

(Sorry blogger for some reason won't let me post links)
You will note that they contain most of the major retail food chains in our area. The one exception is Winco Foods which gets its' meats from United Foods from the midwest. But they too have not been without problems in the past.
In other recall news Sunland Inc has recalled 101 of it's products mainly peanut butter due to salmonella contamination. To date 18 states have been effected and 30 people have been sickened. And this comes on the heels of a listeria outbreak from imported Ricotta cheese. If that wasn't bad enough there was yet another salmonella outbreak from smoked salmon. To add insult to injury a kettle corn recall from Dale and Thomas of Englewood N.J. was issued today, the product contaminated with listeria. 
Good grief is anything safe to eat anymore? Get me a reservation for Ray's in Cleveland it might be safer.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Don't look in there. It was banned in Boston


(this could be titled "making something out of nothing")

 I understand this is "banned book week". When you think about that for a nanosecond it's a silly concept. Someone sits down to write their thoughts on paper, well anymore in cyberspace, and some church lady doesn't like it. A row ensues and the next thing you know something that might have been neatly tucked away in some back bin collecting dust now becomes front page news. Like it or not we are a sick lot in the grand scheme of things. I tend to see things by what is called the moral aesthetic. That being, the true the good and the beautiful. Don't confuse that with the good the bad and the ugly if you would. Simply stated it's an analysis of an artistic work, writing composition in this case, that portrays truth goodness and beauty. But don't be fooled. Truth is not always good or beautiful. And it can't be dismissed just because it rubs someone the wrong way.

There have been so many attempts to erase the writings from many authors or at least hide it from the eyes of our high school set but what good has that done? The world has flown past the "local standards" set down by uptight religious and civic leaders. There is no "local" anymore with the internet. And just where do they get their "standards" anyway? By the rationale by which these books were banned their guideline, the bible, could easily make the list of verboten reading. Incest, inhumane punishments, and ethnic cleansing are readily found in the old testament, but that somehow seems okay by the book burning set.

But the real issue here is that once you tell someone not to look at something that's the first thing they want to do as in "don't look at that bad accident". And I'm sure there's a list of videos far more vulgar than any published words being circulated among the teen set. It's what they do when they get bored. So it's now the hope of every parent, or should be, that young Billy or Susie isn't in one of those videos. But kids tend to set their own standards. True they'll push the limits at times but that's only because they're trying to learn and move forward. They'll have their own definition for obscene or "gross". It's just a part of the process. And let's hope they make it through the process to adulthood without too many scares.