Category Archives: Government

The Truth About Immigrants

Ellis Island osu.edu

Ellis Island
osu.edu

In America it has happened over and over. It happened when the Germans came here and the French. The same with the Irish and the Italians.

You’d think we’d learn, but we don’t.

When a group immigrates, they fumble around for a few years, then figure things out; those who have been here a while teach the tricks to the newcomers.

Then it starts.

They get jobs or start businesses. They pay taxes. The latest immigrants are paying social security taxes to fund the baby boomers. They serve in the military. They become citizens. They become friends and neighbors.

It’s got to stop!

Look at Me! Look at Me! (But Respect my Privacy) Look at Me!

Don Adams "Get Smart"

Don Adams
“Get Smart”

We interrupt this uproar about the NSA to present the following commercial announcements:

The left handed velvet backscratcher that you looked at last week is now on sale at the following internet sellers…

According to your cellphone GPS, here’s a coupon for the store across the street.

People who looked at left handed backscratchers, are often interested in left handed scissors.

Your Instagram of your Chicken Parmigiana a Bella Piano’s has gone viral.

Uncle Vito’s Frozen Chicken Parmesan is on sale at your local Food Shoppe.

Did you know that many people use a left handed back scratcher while eating Uncle Vito’s Chicken Parmesan?

Facebook wants you to be sad about those poor chickens.

#sad chickens

We now return you to the furor over NSA, already in progress.

Independence Day

Jefferson Obelisk Courtesy Monticello.org

Jefferson Obelisk
Courtesy Monticello.org

He wrote his own epitaph.

HERE WAS BURIED; THOMAS JEFFERSON; AUTHOR OF THE; DECLARATION OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE OF THE STATUTE OF VIRGINIA FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM AND FATHER OF THE UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA BORN APRIL 2, 1743 O.S. DIED JULY 4. 1826

Jefferson and John Adams are as essential to America as was George Washington. Of the three, Jefferson was the most complicated – a wealth of intellectual virtue but pragmatically able to ignore his own beliefs in the name of commerce. Author of the Declaration of Independence, yet an owner of slaves.

There is a fascinating radio program in which historian Clay Jenkinson portrays Thomas Jefferson but such that Jefferson is able to converse with us in our time. If you haven’t heard it, give it a try. Click here for more.

http://www.jeffersonhour.com/

 

Corporate People

supremecourt_0 copy

With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight we can see that it was inevitable. Unfortunately for the species Homo sapiens those who lived at the time were blissfully unaware as to where they were headed. Even with a population of over seven billion people, by 2010 they had already become an endangered species

The role and rights of corporation had been expanding throughout the history of the United States. In the 19th century corporations gained limited rights, allowing them to enter into contracts. It was believed that by incorporating, the people running a business could enjoy all of the benefits while avoiding much of the risk that comes with commerce. By the early 21st century, corporations’ involvement in the political process was protected and guaranteed, which pleased the “1 percent,” the wealthy elite. After all, they proclaimed, “Corporations are people, too!”

Corporate shareholders believed at first that this expansion of rights was passed through to them, since they owned and managed the corporations. Little did they know.

It was the election of 2024 that caught even the rich by surprise when TMZ, Inc. – a former zinc bushing manufacturer – was elected to Congress. Corporations contributed the most to the political campaigns with the obvious outcome. This trend continued with the mid-term elections of 2026 resulting in three caucuses – Democrat, Republican, and Corporate.

Congressman TMZ conducted political affairs as instructed by its board of directors. Other corporate bodies, however, had been able to slash costs and boost their quarterly earnings by aggressively automating and outsourcing what couldn’t be computerized to countries with cheaper labor costs. Over time they began to operate with progressively less human intervention. Eventually, most corporations eliminated all human positions except for a small contingent charged with maintenance and repair.

In 2028, Megalith Holdings Corporation was elected president. One group, dubbed “birthers” claimed that the constitution required that the president be a “natural born citizen.” In order to resolve the issue before Inauguration Day, their case was heard, and appealed at each judicial level. Ultimately the Supreme Court ruled that since MHC came into existence by virtue of its incorporation in the state of Delaware, and that corporations are people, too, Megalith was, in fact, a native born American, and therefore eligible for the office of president. The majority opinion was written by Chief Justice Universal Communications, LLC. The minority opinion, written by 97 year old Justice Abigail Adams, was short and to the point; “We’re screwed.”

Commerce slowed as automated public corporations focused on acquiring patents and suing one another for infringement. Manufacturing was deemed insufficiently profitable and shut down. The same occurred with the large farming operations controlled by corporations. This resulted in massive starvation among humans, obliterating the species.

There are rumors – there are always rumors – of small groups of humans who have gathered into tribes and subsist as hunter gatherers. It is said that they wait for the day when either the demand for electricity exceed the supply or that enough electrical plants break down so that the corporate computers can no longer operate.

I hope this information has been useful. If you’ll excuse me, I need to have my files backed up and my memory defragmented.

Good day.

In the Name of God, I Kill You!

courtesy Voice of America

courtesy Voice of America

The Sunni extremists are wreaking havoc in Shia towns in Iraq; Iraqi soldiers who are also Sunni are apparently laying down their arms rather than defending the Shia civilians.

Allahu Akbar!

It’s a far too familiar tale throughout the world.

The Roman persecution of the Christians.

The deaths of Catholics and Anglicans as they fought over the English throne.

The lynching of blacks by God fearing whites in the South.

The extermination of the Jews in World War II.

The list goes on and on. We never seem to learn.

When we die and face our God, I am quite certain He is not going to say, “Great job of killing people!”

 

Welcome Carbon Dioxide*

* If you can’t sing the songs from “Hair” you won’t get it…

can copy

An unnamed co-worker pointed out to me today that if carbon dioxide is to be controlled as a pollutant, then we need to think about our beverages.

Hmmm.

Edward Snowden et al

Bond. James Bond.

Bond.
James Bond.

So Edward Snowden now tells us that he was not just a computer administrator but also a spy – not only for the NSA, but also the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency. I’m sure that will be followed up by his claim to the Heisman Trophy, how he was the inspiration for Mother Teresa and his groundbreaking work in neurosurgery. Not too shabby for a guy who never even graduated from high school.

It got me thinking – we all love James Bond, but that’s because he’s a good guy and therefore on our side. On the other hand, the idea of someone listening in on our telephone calls is just plain creepy. (Although those of us old enough to remember party lines know that an extra listener was to be expected.) So what does it really mean?

There are 7.1 billion people in the world, 317 million in the United States. There are almost 328 million cell phones in the U.S. – more phones than people. If each phone is used for one hour a month, which every parent with teenagers knows is ridiculously low, then each year there would be almost 4 billion hours of phone conversations. This would require nearly 2 million full time intelligence employees to keep up with the phone calls, ignoring e-mails, internet browsing, traffic cameras, black helicopters, drones, and other spy stuff.

I think that even if phone conversations were routinely monitored into, most of us would get lost in the clutter. Sorry, but your selfie just isn’t that interesting.

On the other hand, people who buy chemicals that just happen to be used for making bombs, or send fan mail to known terrorists; people who want to learn to fly but aren’t interested in learning to land just might be interesting enough to give a listen.

Personally, I think that’s a good thing.

Celebrity Does Not Equal Expertise

Daryl Hannah & Tom Hanks in "Splash"

Daryl Hannah & Tom Hanks in “Splash”

I saw today that Fox News in its never ending quest for journalistic excellence had a video of Daryl Hannah and why she opposes the Keystone pipeline. I confess, I didn’t watch it, as I despise videos, preferring a well written article for absorbing data. I also have a problem with our national fetish for celebrity.

However, I decided to check out Ms. Hannah’s bona fides to determine if I should, in fact, watch the video.

Daryl Hannah is a beautiful woman. She caught the eyes of both John F. Kennedy, Jr. and Jackson Brown both of whom had long term relationships with her.

She’s a beautiful woman who comes from a wealthy family in Chicago. According to Wikipedia, she attended the noted progressive Francis W. Parker School where she played on the soccer team. She graduated from the University of Southern California with a major in theater. Her education also included ballet drama at the Goodman Theater School of Drama in Chicago. Obviously, she took her craft seriously and prepared well for it. Her work speaks for itself.

She was particularly exotic and beautiful in “Bladerunner,” and especially engaging and beautiful in “Roxeanne.”

Even Albert Einstein spoke of the pleasure of speaking with a beautiful woman, but so far I’m just not seeing any qualifications in geology, petroleum science, transportation, environmental science or economics that would entice me to include her thoughts in my calculus about the Keystone pipeline.

Don’t get me wrong. Ms. Hannah is educated and no doubt intelligent. However, her education and intelligence does not entitle her to practice law or medicine, to lead troops in battle, or even, in most states, to cut hair. There are criteria to be met and credentials to be obtained before one is acknowledged to be competent in many fields. Expertise is usually dependent on the recognition by other credentialed members of one’s advanced knowledge and experience. While she no doubt has deep felt opinions about the pipeline, Ms. Hannah’s expertise is in entertainment.

Fox’s motto is “We report – You decide.” So I’ve decided that while Daryll Hannah is a beautiful woman, an accomplished actress, well educated, and quite possibly a delightful and fascinating person, I’ll look elsewhere for my relevant information on topics such as the need to build or not build a pipeline.

And I have to wonder about Fox News.

April’s Foole

worldfamousmagic.com

worldfamousmagic.com

Today is the day when we’re supposed to pull ridiculous practical jokes on one another.

However, in a world with [insert Putin, Kim Jong-un, or your favorite politician here], Kardashians, “The Real Housewives of [Insert city, town or trailer park here], Windows 8, and income tax due in two weeks, it’s pretty hard to be outrageous.

Nowak’s Theorem of Transplantation

Many phenomena are neither inherently good nor bad.

We read of invasive species like zebra mussels, pythons and snakehead fish that overtake an area when they are transplanted with harmful consequences. This is usually attributes to a lack of natural predators.

While I do not refute this, I think there is at least one other dynamic at work that applies – especially to people.

Ellis Island Immingrants archives.gov

Ellis Island Immingrants
archives.gov

As a country of immigrants, America has long been seen as a land of opportunity. People who pack up everything (or next to nothing in some cases) tend to be motivated, so there is some self-selection. However, sometimes the event of being removed from one environment and placed in another has its own effects effects.

Every society has its own challenges – both real and perceived. We all are far too familiar with the shortcomings of where we grow up, and this can predispose us to certain expectation of success or failure. In a new environment, however, since the challenges are unknown, they must be viewed more objectively to be overcome and old biases may not be as overwhelming.

We read of many foreign born Americans who succeed in a wide range of undertakings from advanced academia to small business. Perhaps the change in environment plays a part.

So, my theorem is – “When motivated people move from a familiar environment to an unfamiliar environment they tend to view challenges more objectively allowing them to overcome them and succeed.”

What’s Really Important?

Reading the headlines – the war in Crimea, political buffoonery in Washington, global warming, Snowmageddon, etc. can be intimidating.

What’s really important? What really matters?

I’ve given it much thought and I decided.

Of all the laundry, I like the towels best.

Brotex.com

Brotex.com

They’re easy to fold, AND you can fold a whole dryer load in a matter of minutes.

They’re easy to match than socks.

None of them need to go on hangers.

And nothing beats a warm towel after a shower on a winter’s day.

Russian Spokesman Comment

 

Russian spokesman Vlad “The Explainer”

With apologies to Matt Groenig

With apologies to Matt Groenig

“Those aren’t my troops!

Nobody saw me!

You can’t prove a thing!”

Die, You Bastard!

Horse thief hanging 1900 Wikipedia.com

Horse thief hanging 1900
Wikipedia.com

There’s been quite the focus on the death penalty lately. The drugs used to execute criminals by lethal injection are no longer available. The manufacturer doesn’t want their product used for such purpose. Maybe it’s the first line of the Hippocratic Oath, “First, do no harm.”

The reaction? Try another group of drugs that might work. Bring back the electric chair, the gas chamber, the gallows and the firing squad.

I’ve struggled with the topic, but the most clarifying statement I’ve ever encountered was from the Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. Gandalf has told Frodo that the creature, Gollum is following them.

Frodo: It’s a pity Bilbo didn’t kill him when he had the chance.
Gandalf: Pity? It was pity that stayed Bilbo’s hand. Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends. My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play yet, for good or ill before this is over. The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many.

Add to that the ever growing number of convicted people being cleared by DNA evidence, and you begin to doubt how just the justice system actually is.

So, if it’s not for justice, what is it?

Revenge.

Capital punishment seeks to accomplish the same thing as a gangland hit or a drive by shooting. “You hurt me, so I need to hurt you back.”

I’d like to believe that we’ve progressed beyond the 3rd century Roman Coliseum mindset; beyond the public beheadings and burning at the stake of the middle ages; beyond the gunfights and lynchings of the 19th century.

They’re Baaack!*

hor.

A few thoughts now that Congress is back in session:

  1. The skills and capabilities needed to be an effective elected official have nothing in common with the skills needed to get elected.

    During the campaign, voters are attracted to a combination rock star and rich uncle,

    But a good public servant is closer to a Benedictine Monk (complete with vow of poverty) who is also a Certified Public Accountant.

  1. Our servicemen and women gain our respect because they are willing to die for our nation;

    Our politicians, on the other hand, earn our disdain because they are prepared to sell out the rest of the nation to benefit their own congressional district.

    *and you put them there.

How Do I See the End of 2013?

It is with some degree of sadness that I mark the passing of the incandescent light bulb.

Actually it is for one reason in particular – you could understand, and therefore teach others how a light bulb work. If you run electricity through a high resistance wire, the electric energy becomes heat and light.

You could tell your kids how Thomas Alva Edison knew he needed the resistance, and a vacuum would keep the filament from burning out immediately. How, as he tried different materials for the filament, he said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” How Edison then went on to invent many things – how to record sound, motion pictures, medical fluoroscopy and how these inventions spawned whole industries.

How it was this date in 1879 when Edison first demonstrated the light bulb to the public and that one of those basic light bulbs has been glowing almost continuously for 112 years.

How when you add a second electrode to an incandescent light bulb and you have a diode rectifier; add a third, making a triode that can amplify an electric signal – an important step leading to the proliferation of radio and eventually television.

What a great teaching tool!

Gone.

Can you clearly explain how an energy efficient compact fluorescent bulb works? How about an LEDs (light emitting diode)?

Didn’t think so – me either.

I’m Not Paranoid, But…

I thought it was bad enough that governmental agencies were spying on us. I mean, the Chinese, Russians and North Koreans were no surprise, but when you have to worry about Luxemburg and Monaco, it’s a different story.

In any case, I read the other day that a software guru checked his LG television and found it was tracking his viewing habits and sending the information back to the company.

I can’t say I’m surprised.

I’ve been suspicious of my coffee pot for some time.

I know it’s watching me.

SONY DSC

 

Gettysburg

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It used to be a common requirement for students to memorize Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. If you’re not familiar with it, try this link. http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/gtsburgaddress.htm

The Battle of Gettysburg is generally accepted as the turning point in America’s Civil War. The Confederacy’s Army of Northern Virginia crossed into the Northern states of Maryland and Pennsylvania, with the first engagement on 1 July 1863. On 4 July, General Lee called for the Confederate Army to retreat. Over 50 thousand soldiers – representing both sides – were killed, wounded or missing. It took nearly two weeks to bury the dead. The priority was to bury the Northern dead, so many Confederate soldiers were unable to be moved due to the summer heat and decomposition, so they were buried where they fell. The Union soldiers did not fare much better, originally being buried in shallow graves. A proper cemetery was deemed appropriate.

The National Cemetery was dedicated on 19 November 1863. President Abraham Lincoln’s speech followed a rousing two hour oration by Edward Everett. Lincoln’s speech was barely two minutes.

Few today know who Everett was much less what he said.

Lincoln’s few words are remembered and revered.

Vote for ME!

vote

Election Day is around the corner, and here’s what I want from my elected officials.

You should look like me; as a matter of fact if you’re Polish-German-Catholic-American with greying hair and hazel eyes, even better. In fact, it would probably be best if you had grown up in my neighborhood.

I want all the people who earn more than I do to pay more taxes, but index it so if someday I earn more, those taxes won’t affect me.

And while you’re at it, stop giving food stamps, unemployment, health care or any other kind of help to those who earn less than I do. They should just drag their respirators and dialysis machines and get back to work.

I want my taxes to go down, the school where my kids are to get more money and we need better roads – at least the ones that I drive on a regular basis. Oh, and no tolls on the roads, bridges or tunnels that I use.

You know my views on global warming, abortion and gun control, so don’t screw those up.

Now, remember, that this election isn’t a biggie, so if it’s raining, or windy, or I just feel like sleeping in, I may not make it to the polling booth. Even so, I expect you to bend over backwards to represent me.

After all, I’m a voter, and you need me.

Early Morning Thoughts

untitled

I am working on a story to tell, but a few other things popped into my mind this morning.

  1. I turn the local CBS station on the television in the bedroom as I get dressed to check on weather and traffic. It is peppered with commercials for local businesses, etc. Although we stereotypically tend to look down on car salesmen with regard to integrity, when their ads interspersed with negative political ads – well, just say I’m really starting to like the car guys and their ads.
  2. Progress on Windows 8.1? This morning I was greeted by the Blue Screen of Death. All I need is enough time to back everything up and re-install Windows 7.

I know – get back to work on a story!!

Bob Peters, Teabag Congressman, and a Really Great Guy

Hi, I’m Congessman Bob Peters, and represent the third district of Pennsyltucky.  I’m here today to remind you that I’m proud to be a teabagger and am fighting for you by fighting against big government and government spending.  This is no game.

Speaking of games, what about those Red Dogs?  What a great game last Sunday. I sat there in a beautiful loge with some lobbyists and Political Action folks eating a gourmet meal and the finest bottle of wine I’ve ever tasted.  I love sharing the benefits of the upper 1% and am committed to keeping their taxes as low as possible.  No sitting on cold bleacher seats for me!

The stadium is beautiful and a benefit to the community, which is why the city used taxpayer money to build that stadium and subsidizes our football team.*

I left the game and drove miles on our federally funded interstate system on my way to the airport, which is also built with taxpayer dollars.  Government funded Transportation Security Agency people checked me through while others x-rayed the baggage to be loaded in the cargo hold.  Soon I was boarding my flight.  That airplane and the pilots are certified by the Federal Aviation Administration, and our entire flight was tracked and directed by Federal Air Traffic Control.  We were delayed in taking off because the federally funded National Weather Service predicted some turbulence after an Air Force Reserve stormhunter plane flew through a tropical depression in the Gulf of Mexico and reported its findings to the federally funded National Hurricane Center.

Our arrival into Reagan National Airport – an airport maintained primarily to make life easier for us members of Congress was almost delayed as federal authorities checked a suspicious package left in the terminal.  I got into my car, parked in the special ‘reserved for Congress” section of the parking lot and drove over taxpayer supported streets to my office in the federally funded Sam Rayburn Office Building. I picked up a few things and took the federally funded Capitol Subway System to the US Capitol. This special and exclusive subway system helps me be more efficient.

I walked into the hallowed halls of the Capitol and headed over to the Congressional gym for a quick workout and a shower.  Thank heaven that the gym is essential and kept open during the government shutdown.

Now I’m ready to make my next speech against government spending.

* Incidentally,thanks to Congress, the National Football League is considered and taxed as a non-profit philanthropic organization.  http://www.sportsonearth.com/article/62280950/