The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Up, Up, and Away

Those of you who have put up with me for some time know I like wordplay, especially taking a little word and showing how it is important. So read UP and enjoy...

This two-letter word in English has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that word is 'UP.' It is listed in the dictionary as an [adv], [prep], [adj], [n] or [v].

It's easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP?

At a meeting, why does a topic come UP? Why do we speak UP, and why are the officers UP for election (if there is a tie, it is a toss UP) and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report? We call UP our friends, brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver, warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and fix UP the old car.

At other times, this little word has real special meaning. People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses.

To be dressed is one thing but to be dressed UP is special.

And this UP is confusing: A drain must be opened UP because it is blocked UP.

We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night. We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP!

To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look UP the word UP in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4 of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions.

If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don't give UP, you may wind UP with (UP to) a hundred or more.

When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP. When the sun comes out, we say it is clearing UP. When it rains, it soaks UP the earth. When it does not rain for awhile, things dry UP. One could go on and on, but I'll wrap it UP, for now . . . my time is UP!

Oh . . . one more thing: What is the first thing you do in the morning and the last thing you do at night?



Did that one crack you UP?

Don't screw UP.. Send this on to everyone you look UP in your address book . . . or not . . . it's UP to you.

Now I'll shut UP   

Thursday, November 29, 2012

For those of us with Microsoft based PCs, it is time to think about the next generation of Windows. 

I have been using Microsoft operating systems since they began. Before that, I used CP/M and also dabbled in Unix. I dabbled in Unix because I worked for AT&T and they invented it and, therefore, I had access to computers which ran on it. But these computers were specialized machines, not something we could actually play with.

I had been sent off to weeks upon weeks of schools in 1977 to learn how to troubleshoot and repair a new digital long distance switching system. Amazingly (to me at least), I understood what they were trying to teach us. I got intrigued by computers and I started considering buying a personal computer. I had friends who had bought Radio Shack computers and the first commercial Apples.

I had no idea what to do with one. It's a bit like wanting to date a pretty girl. You aren't sure if she'll be worth the expense and you wonder if you can handle her but lust overcomes all logic and common sense.

I made the plunge in 1981. I bought an Osborne1. It was not cheap. I had no real uses for it but I wanted it. I went through CP/M and then bought an IBM clone,  jumped on MS-DOS 3.1 followed by 5.0. I avoided Windows until Windows95 when it seemed impossible to ignore any longer.

Now comes Windows 8. And it looks like it wasn't designed for this PC on my desk. It looks like a tablet interface.

I have no idea if I will follow along with the crowd on this one...

Sometimes I think they create new operating systems simply because they can.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Is that your natural color?

As you can see by my picture, I have an almost white beard. What you cannot see is that my hair is still dark brown (though the gray is gaining ground). I still have a fairly full head of hair... mostly. The brow is growing each day it seems. But it is the color of which I write today.

My beard began showing gray in my 30's. Just the occasional one at first and then more and more settled in so that it was "salt and pepper" in my late forties. At about this time, I began hearing the question, "Do you dye your hair?", because my hair was a rich, dark, brown with no stray gray anywhere.

It's a silly question. Logic dictates that, if I did, I would not allow the beard to give it away.

I found these...



And they brought a chuckle to my mind.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I love the little buggies

My "germ theory" is simple. We are their world, their universe, their ecosystem. They are almost completely dependent upon us and we are almost completely dependent on them They have evolved to live their parasitic little lives inside (and on) our bodies. They exist throughout our bodies; some doing good, some doing harm.

We could call the "good" bacteria symbiotic. After all, they help us digest food, clean up what we cannot absorb (mostly), and make us a bit more comfortable. They may even aid us in our battles against the "bad" bacteria.

Scientific American (sounds like an oxymoron, doesn't it?) puts it this way: [The human body] is more like a complex ecosystem—a social network—containing trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms that inhabit our skin, genital areas, mouth and especially intestines. [Link]

I am not a scientist, I don't have the education or the skills, much less the discipline, to be one. If they have come to agree with me then I feel vindicated. I came up with this theory many years ago but scientists don't do that. They have to create a hypothesis, determine a way to test it, and then base a theory on the data they uncover in their testing. I applaud them for doing so. 

Oh, and check out this link.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A click of a button and... Nothing?

I have a mouse problem. No, not real live mice. Those are under control; Mickey and Minnie and Morty and Ferdie are a fine family, happily living in my garage feasting on whatever it is they feast on and cavorting, no doubt , with the Dust Bunny family. No, the mouse problem I have is with the ones associated with computers. Specifically, it's a button problem. The left button, to be exact. I break them.

After 10 months of use, the left button gets a bit wacky. Pressing it may get any of three results: no response, a momentary response, or a phantom double-click.  Every mouse I have had in the last 10 years has done this. Wired or wireless, cheap or expensive... it doesn't matter. About the same time after initial installation, the left button gets... undependable.

I tried taking one or two apart and cleaning the switch but it didn't have any effect. It's the electronics, I think. And I suspect the button switch is made by some Chinese kid toiling away in a factory in WaeFahOut, China for a dollar a day. And he makes all of the button switches for all of the computer mice regardless of brand name. Bought in bulk, they cost mouse makers about .001 cents per button and, in my hands, disable any mouse costing from $5 to $39 bucks within a year.

In the old days when mice did not have lasers and our eyes were not at risk, you had to clean the little mouse's ball from time to time. The instructions were readily available and the mouse usually performed quite well once this was done. This was never a big problem for me. But that button thing? Oh yeah... big issue. I have swapped buttons (via software) now and then to extend the life of a mouse but it was a pain because I could not easily retrain my fingers to conform.

So I now tend to buy the cheap as possible mice and initially in pairs so I have a backup.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Notice and duly posted

There's not much interest in politics now. Except for the more rabid aficionados, of course. I am not one of those, I think... I hope.

Anyway, I am going to stop regular posts on Saturday. I might post something on the random Saturday but nothing scheduled.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Who shrunk my pants?

I have been thinking about stupidity. Stupidity strikes us all at various points in our lives. We are faced with problems and decisions and we choose the wrong options. We like to believe we only make a mistake once but I suspect that isn't true. I know it isn't true for me. I have made the same mistake more than once, often more than twice.

For instance, I have made choices in my life that have had adverse consequences that continue to affect me to this day. My only excuse is that I did not realize those consequences would occur and linger and that the circumstances (and my mindset) at the time strongly influenced me. Isn't that always the case? "It seemed like a good idea at the time" was my usual response to my parents' question of "Why?" when they would pick me up at the police station at 1 or 2 in the morning.

These stupidities are an inherent part of human nature, I suppose. And that remains my rationalization.

Like yesterday... I am sure I ate too much.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Being Bugged

I have been thinking about germs. I have written about them before [A Most Personal Invasion] but not so much about my theory on them.

The theory is simple: we exist so that they can exist. We are their world, their universe. Our behavior is, in a way I think, designed to assist their existence and growth. It seems a contradiction, then, that we devote so much time and effort to eradicating them. Well, it's a battle we must engage in so that we can live and, therefore, they can also survive.

"That's just crazy talk", I can hear you muttering while vowing to no longer read this crazy man's blog. And I can understand that. I often think I shouldn't read this blog either. But crazy talk? No, I don't think so. And I may expound on this theory in more depth in some future post. But not today...

Why am I talking about germs? Because I just saw an interview with a doctor who warned about the proliferation of bacteria and viruses on commercial planes. Think about it... People, some sick, climb into a big metal tube with a bunch of other people and share the restrooms, magazines, and use the tray tables; they breathe the same air for hours at a time. The plane lands, spews these folks out and after a very brief and perfunctory clean-up, load a bunch more people before taking off to some other destination.

People sneeze and cough into their hands. They do this to be polite, to avoid spreading germs. But then what do they do with those hands? Do they immediately wash them after each sneeze or cough? Of course not. Do they wipe them down with a hand sanitizer? I suppose some do but the vast majority do not. But they pull down that tray table, read those magazines, handle doors to the restrooms, and touch a lot of other surfaces... surfaces that you, Mr./Ms/Mrs. Traveler, will also be handling.

Yet another reason I drive my car on trips rather than take public transportation of any type.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

And here I thought college students were a waste of oxygen

I saw something the other day about some college (mostly grad) students inventing an after-market hybrid rig for cars.

I went looking for it and found it in two places:

I also found a link to a story in a UK Telegraph blog about a add-on Hybrid kit unveiled in China. But that link just took me to a blank page and I gave up on it.

This is a great idea. I already have a car I like very much and cannot see spending money on a new hybrid. I wouldn't ever recoup my money for one. But I sure wouldn't mind getting better than 14 MPG in town. Yeah, that's all I get around town. After all, I only drive to golf courses (all within 5 miles or so) and the occasional (weekly) restaurant (less than 10 miles). The car doesn't even get warmed up properly. I could easily switch to an all electric car but I cannot see paying what they cost. And they would be less comfortable to ride in and not even as much fun to drive.

I'd get a motorcycle which would be cheap on gas and fun to drive but it's hard to carry a set of golf clubs on one... though I have done it.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I wasn't born lazy, I just ended up that way

Did you get an allowance when you were a child? I didn't. I heard about such things in stories and on TV but I didn't get one. I felt deprived. I wasn't... but I felt like it. In truth, I got fed, I got clothed, I got a roof over my head, and I had no chores for many of my early years. Looking back, I had a pretty good life. Sure, money was not something we had much of. We ate a lot of spaghetti. Mom bought the cheapest foods she could find. In those days, bologna was cheap, ground beef was cheap, tuna was cheap and these became my staples.

I didn't really need an allowance. Mom would give me a quarter now and then, as would my grandfather, and I was pretty frugal with these. Things were cheaper then and it was easy not to spend any cash I had. I don't recall even having a piggy bank, saving wasn't something I learned to do.

My father believed in working for whatever you got. I first learned this at age 5 when I had to sand my first bike so he could paint it. It was an old bike, just a frame, actually. I wasn't old enough to put the bike together, my father did that after it was painted. I did mention my father owned a bike shop, didn't I? Later, I would learn how to fix bikes, put one together from parts, and even tune spokes.

Later, after we moved to Florida, my father decided my brother and I could have allowances... there was a catch, however. We had to pull weeds from the flower beds and the lawn and also mow the lawn. I think the allowance was all of a $1 a week. Neither my brother nor I thought the pay was worth the work and we soon gave up the idea of having an allowance. We didn't need one since Mom would give us money just for asking. And I still didn't need a lot of money and wouldn't for some time... until I got old enough to drive.

I paid for gas by hustling pool, stealing soda bottles to redeem, and charging kids for rides home from school. Gas was cheap then, less than 25 cents a gallon most of the time; $4 would have given me a full tank of gas but I don't think I ever put more than a dollar's worth at any time in my first car. Dates were not expensive, movies only cost a dollar per person and drive-ins were even cheaper.

Eventually, though, I had to get a job. And it's been downhill ever since.

Monday, November 19, 2012

I set myself up for disappointment, I suppose

I finally got a chance to watch "John Carter". As a fan of Burroughs' Barsoom series, I looked forward to it with some trepidation. After all, the director's and screen writer's interpretation might not match my own. They often don't.

Studios often produce movies from books that only vaguely resemble the original stories. It's sad. But, in some cases, quite understandable. The movie technology of the time may simply be unable to reproduce the scenes in the books. There might be time constraints, there might be budget constraints. These are acceptable reasons for deviating. Sometimes, however, someone decides the story is not good enough in its original form so they "spruce it up" a bit. That is not an acceptable reason.

It appears that this happened with "John Carter". It's not like the original story but an attempt to pull in the events and characters of most of the series that Burroughs wrote.

It failed to do a good job.  What a pity. They could have created a starter for a great series of films.

You might want to go to the Project Gutenberg Website
where you can download and read these books on a number of eReaders or at the site with your computer. I obviously highly recommend them.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Since the election is over and Obama won re-election, I am going to refrain from talking about politics and campaigns. Instead, I am going to make a few predictions:

1. Unemployment will exceed 8% within 6 months.
2. The price of gasoline will rise to $5 or more by the end of 2013.
3. Half of the country will still believe it is all Bush's fault.

Let's add a bit of cheerful news, shall we?

Hostess Calls it Quits

"The Irving, Texas, company said a nationwide strike crippled its ability to make and deliver its products, which also include Ding Dongs, Ho Ho's and Home Pride bread. Hostess suspended bakery operations at all its factories and said its stores will remain open for several days to sell already-baked products."

Friday, November 16, 2012

For want of a nail, a kingdom was lost

I think about a little phenomena called "unintended consequences" from time to time. This is where unforeseen (and, often, undesirable) events occur because of some action taken.

For instance, you help a neighbor plant a tree in his yard. The tree takes root and grows quite large providing shade to your house and blocking the afternoon sun from your living room... until a storm rolls through one night and the tree is knocked down and into your living room. The result of the action taken (helping the neighbor plant the tree) resulted in two unintended consequences; shade for your house and a danger to your house.

I think about that phenomena because they are the pitfalls of life. You try to do what's right and it ends up biting you in the butt. Another way to look at is in the saying, "no good deed goes unpunished." Maybe we could call it Karmic Irony.

Here's another example:

In 1896, the American business Titans saw the mood of the country going against them (according to the History Channel's take on things of that era). A movement against monopolies was gaining strength, chiefly through the efforts of William Jennings Bryan who was making a name for himself as a populist and staunch anti-monopolist. They decided to back his opponent, William McKinley, who was more friendly to their way of thinking. He wins against Bryan twice, gaining re-election in the 1900 vote. His vice-president in the first term, however, dies in office in 1899. He is replaced for the re-election bid by Theodore Roosevelt. Now the tycoons saw that as a good thing because, as we know, vice-presidents don't often have much influence over policy or the presidents they serve under.

But then, in September of 1901, McKinley is shot by a would-be anarchist named Leon Czolgosz and elevating Teddy Roosevelt to the presidency.

But why do I think about this now? I have been wondering about the consequences resulting from the death of Osama bin Laden.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Randomly pondered thoughts

I was 19 once and forever. That is, the year I turned 19 was so important to me that I have not moved beyond it. I think we all have that seminal age at which, deep within our psyches, we remain throughout most of our lives. There are possibly several of these ages that we revert to psychologically depending upon circumstances.

There is nothing quite like the first time. It doesn't matter what it is you are doing, the first time you do it right remains a focal point in your life.  The more "first times" you experience, though, the more likely you are likely to sort them into order of importance.

The power of home is so strong that we might return there even if it is the wrong place to go. I met people in the Navy who came from ghettos and barrios that were poverty stricken and hopeless, not to mention dangerous, yet many of these people were eager to return to them as soon as they got out of the service.

I watched a mini-series about the monopolists of the late 1800's on the History Channel. It was a  delicate balance between reviling these men and praising them. Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, and Cornelius Vanderbilt. Fascinating stories, all of them. One wonders if these men had not existed would others have taken their place? Or were these men completely unique?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Snippet of Life: A Big Bang

It was a beautiful sunny day, the water was calm, and there was very little breeze. The beach about a mile away was a gorgeous and empty white strip between the blue water and the green jungle. It would have been quiet and peaceful had not the forward gun mount been firing a few shots every 10 minutes. There was a war going on, after all, and there were Marines and soldiers somewhere deep in that jungle who needed some help.

The forward gun mount consisted of two 5" .38 caliber guns who could toss high explosive projectiles weighing 55 lbs up to 9 miles away. The "friendlies" in the jungle wanted them to land in the areas where people were shooting at them and we were complying.

I was standing on the starboard wing of the bridge as a lookout. My job was to spot any small, fast boats or planes heading for us with hostile intent. Actually, I wasn't to be concerned with hostile intent... I was just there to spot anything moving toward us. The water and sky were empty of anything. Not even clouds, as I recall.

The captain and the executive officer had come out and stood to my left. I do not know why. There was nothing they could do better out here than they could have done inside the bridge. Yet they were right there next to me. We were all wearing flak jackets and helmets. I had a pair of binoculars also.

Each time one of the two guns of the forward mount fired, there would be a ring of smoke and fire produced. And a big boom. You never saw the projectile, never even heard when it exploded 7 or 8 miles away over the hills above the beach.

Except once. The time it didn't explode 7 or 8 miles away. The time it exploded about 50 yards away. It's called a "preemie" by crew members. A premature detonation. A dangerous event , to be sure. The captain and the exec dropped to the deck and I merely glanced at them but did not follow them down.

The captain popped back upright and immediately walked back onto/into the bridge. The exec also got to his feet but lingered a few moments to chew me out about not taking cover when the projectile exploded. I listened passively and said nothing.

My reasoning was simple. There was no time to react. Any shrapnel would have already hit us before we could drop below the wall; a wall, though steel, that would not have stopped much anyway. In other words, we'd have already been hit. If I heard it explode and wasn't bleeding or dead, I was alright. Plus, the projectile and its shrapnel would move forward in the direction the gun was aimed as fast, or nearly as fast, as the projectile had been going when it exploded. Simple physics.

I think the captain knew this and was a bit embarrassed by his diving to the deck. I also think the exec was also embarrassed but chose to cover it with harsh words to me.

It was tough enough for me just not to laugh.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Actually this is just a place for my stuff, ya know? That's all, a little place for my stuff. That's all I want, that's all you need in life, is a little place for your stuff, ya know? I can see it on your table, everybody's got a little place for their stuff. This is my stuff, that's your stuff, that'll be his stuff over there. That's all you need in life, a little place for your stuff. That's all your house is: a place to keep your stuff. If you didn't have so much stuff, you wouldn't need a house. You could just walk around all the time.

A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it. You can see that when you're taking off in an airplane. You look down, you see everybody's got a little pile of stuff. All the little piles of stuff. And when you leave your house, you gotta lock it up. Wouldn't want somebody to come by and take some of your stuff. They always take the good stuff. They never bother with that crap you're saving. All they want is the shiny stuff. That's what your house is, a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get...more stuff!

That's George Carlin. In fact, only a part of his riff on "stuff."  If you want to hear it, all of it, it's down at the bottom of this post.

We are a nation of people who like stuff, lots of stuff. We measure success by how much stuff someone owns. We are envious of people who have more stuff. We resent people who, we think, have too much stuff. And yet, we want more stuff.

And most of us don't have any place to put it all!

My mother, for example, filled a spare bedroom with stuff and had no idea what she had. She also rented a storage room and filled that up with stuff that she didn't use, didn't need, and probably really didn't want. My father filled the other spare bedroom with his stuff. My mother collected anything she thought was a collectible or an antique. My father collected tools. And paper. And he had all his cancelled checks for the 5 years previous.

I'm no better, I went out to my garage the other day to find a set of allen wrenches to use to fix my Delta faucet which had a persistent drip (in The Navy, that usually entailed getting a shot or two). Never found them. My tool bench overflows with stuff. I have shelves and drawers and toolboxes out there full of stuff. I no longer know why I have it and what it is.

Anyway, here's George:

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Day to Remember

I had a different post in mind for today but, yesterday, I remembered what today is. You would think I would have known without thinking, wouldn't you? After all, I am a veteran. I served... in that war few
, if any, talk about in any positive way: the Vietnam conflict. It was never an official war, though it killed or maimed hundreds of thousands of Marines, soldiers, sailors, and airmen. Those who served got little positive recognition for that service. If your understanding of that conflict was drawn from movies, TV shows, and rumors, you might think all it accomplished was the debasing of America's reputation and producing boatloads of psychopaths with PTSD.

But I hadn't thought about my service in terms of being in a war. Few who served in those years actually saw combat. About 37% of all who served during the Vietnam era actually spent any time in an official combat zone according to this site and many of those who did never fired a shot or saw action up close. I was part of that 37%. I have had friends in both that 37% and the 63% who never got near combat.

I never fired a shot in combat because that wasn't my job. I was a crew member of a Navy destroyer and my primary duty was to hunt for submarines. I never found any. I strongly suspect the Viet Cong and the NVA (North Vietnam Army) never had any. I did spend part of my time as a "deck ape" (the affectionate term for a member of the non-rated seamen who made up what is called the "deck force") and stood watches in the forward gun mount but never a shot was fired during those watches.

The biggest danger I faced was from mishaps. When one of the big guns had a "hangfire" or a "preemie" and I happened to be nearby are examples. I should tell those stories, I suppose., but not today.

Today, I want to thank those who served in combat; those who faced the enemy on the ground, in the air, and on the water. I want to thank those who faced hostile fire, those who got wounded or killed and those who didn't... these are the ones who may, or may not, have gone there voluntarily but who faced real real danger from combat.

And I also want to thank the others; the ones who provided support to those in combat, who did all the jobs that need to be done to make sure equipment and material needed is there and in good condition, who transport the food and weapons and ammunition and all the supplies fighting forces need in order to do their jobs. The ones who stay stateside and process the requests; who load ships and planes with food, ammo, and parts for equipment.

When I was young, this wasn't called Veteran's Day. It was still called "Armistice Day." It wasn't until I was almost 8 years old that the name got changed. Armistice Day referred to the day the Armistice was signed by all the combatants of World War I took effect. On "the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour" in 1918. I don't believe there is anyone alive today who served in that war. And few that remember its end are alive.

If you see a sailor, a Marine, a soldier, or an airman... thank him or her.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Perhaps a look back would be prudent

There has been much analysis of how Romney lost the election. Of course, it isn't presented that way, it's presented as "What the Republicans did wrong." I thought I might join in.

The Republicans went wrong maybe 50 years ago. They began allowing themselves to be pictured as mean, heartless, uncaring, hate-filled, and opposed to equality. I don't think there was much they could do about it. I have known Republicans (as well as Democrats) all my life and there are no more of these types in that party as in the Democratic Party.

When I was a young man and had just moved to south Florida, there was still segregation in law and society in the south. There was segregation in the north, too, but it wasn't by law, just by custom. The south was quite different to what I had been used to. It was blatant inequality. In the north, it was subtle. The southern states were solidly controlled by Democrats.

In 1954, things began to change in the south. It was in that year that Brown v. The Board of Education was decided by the US Supreme Court. 

As a boy growing up on Long Island, I knew nothing about segregation. All of my neighbors were white, my school was predominately white (I only saw one black child in kindergarten and never saw her again), my town was white. Blacks lived somewhere else, another town nearby, I suppose. It wasn't because of laws, it was because of social custom.

All of a sudden, I found myself in a place where this wasn't subtle; again my school was white, my neighbors were white, and Blacks lived elsewhere. But where they lived wasn't hidden from me, it was right there in front of me. I would pass by a black neighborhood each day as I walked to school. Black kids would be waiting for a bus to take them to a school maybe 7-10 miles away while my school was 7 or 8 blocks from where I lived.

As time went on, as I grew older, I began to notice something of politics. The southern states had mostly Democratic governors. The few that had Republican governors started to change, or tried to... the strong Democratic legislators fought the governors. Republicans were the "progressives" and the Democrats were the "conservatives."  The opposite of the political images of today.

Things began to change in the south after Brown v. Board of Education. The Civil Rights movement began gaining strength in the south. The inequality could no longer be ignored. The media stepped in to expose it, college students (and many others) came to the south to push for change, and there were many confrontations. The old bigotry was firmly in place, though, and it was a tough and bloody fight.

In the mid-sixties, the concepts of "segregation de jure" (by law) and "segregation de facto" (by custom and practice) became well known. I realized that the latter was what prevailed in the north and, certainly, what I saw in my own hometown in my younger years.

In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law. This was allegedly made possible only by the support of the Republican Party; Democrats, especially southern Democrats, showed strong opposition. The northern factions of both parties were really the defining forces.

In the years following, many southern Democrats switched political allegiance to become Republicans. I believe this is the period where the image of Republicans went from a party favoring business to a party opposing equality.  An image created not by fact but by campaign strategies.

We can look back and say the Republicans should have rejected the former Democrats but that just wasn't done at the time (and is not done today). There are no restrictions on party affiliations in this country. Anyone can join any political party. And much is made of politicians switching sides.

Personally, I see politicians as amoral. Few have such strong core values that they would not throw them out the window to gain office. And, today, it is all about image and not about substance. 

And, all too often, that image is created by political opponents.

Friday, November 9, 2012

I am not so sure I am a `chip off the old block'

Well, who are you?
I really wanna know  
(Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)  
Come on tell me, who are you? 
(Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)  
'Cause I really wanna know  
(Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)

["Who are you?" by The Who]

Who are we? I mean, individually, not all of us... not the American people or any other nationality.

I think each of us is a mixture of genetic heritage and familial environment. Sometimes, we follow along. Most people, for example, follow the same religious beliefs as their parents or vote the way their parents did, or see the world as their parents did (or do). Sure, any number will rebel and go another way but, for the most part, individuals are just like their parents in many ways.

Look at families and you will see traditional professions and career choices. The police are often fond of saying they come from a long line of people who worked in law enforcement. Politicians seem to beget politicians, athletes tend to beget athletes, criminals tend to beget criminals, and so on. As the adage goes, "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree."

At the same time, we celebrate those who rebel and are successful. The boy or girl, born and raised in poverty, who broke out and became someone rich and important, for example. We recognize, I think, the extreme difficulty and perseverance necessary to break out of the mold.

Or we used to. Maybe things are changing again.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A little diversion

I need some humor:

It didn't help. Your mileage may vary. There was a bright spot yesterday. I went out to get the mail and my mailbox was no longer sagging under the weight of campaign mailers. It seemed happy. Just in time for the Christmas catalogs.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Not blank but it may as well be

I didn't not write a post because I am depressed. I didn't not write a post because Obama won re-election and I didn't want that. I didn't write a post because I just never got around to it. 

I am, after all, lazy.

Who won? Who lost?

As I write this on Monday morning, I have no idea which candidates won what offices... except for the "sure thing" races. There always seems to be a number of those. Mostly, I think, the result of the power of incumbency. You surely acknowledge that we, as a whole, have a tendency to retain incumbents, don't you? Have you ever asked yourself "Why is that?"

Do we really like the incumbent or do we mostly re-elect him/her because of name recognition? Name recognition is important, so is the practice of putting an incumbent's name first on a list of candidates... something that used to be a constant and no longer is in many places.

I think that when we haven't thought things out deeply we tend to go with the familiar. The old phrase, "better the devil you know than the one you don't" comes to mind. We are, after all, generally risk averse.

I mused about this because of the comments for an article in the Washington Post I read today.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

This is it... your last chance

Have you voted yet?

What are you waiting for?

What else have you got to do that is more important?

No matter what it is, this is more important. We have the worst voting participation in the world, it seems. I don't know how true that really is but it amazes me that some people in other countries will travel on foot, sometimes for days, to exercise their right to vote but our citizens seem to think it is too much trouble to stand in line for an hour to do the same thing.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Disasters beget misery and debt

I came across this article on the CNNMoney website yesterday morning while sipping coffee and contemplating turning the clocks back. Turning the clocks back means I have to get the little step ladder from the garage, climb up a couple of steps, reset the time, and then spend 5 or more minutes trying to fit the clock back on the nail in the wall... the nail that will become flush with the wall at the slightest touch...

Why can't these wall clocks I pay all of $7-$12 for automatically adjust for seasonal time changes? I often contemplate ignoring them and just let them be wrong for 6 months each year.

Where was I? I am sure I had some other complaint or rant in mind when I started... Oh yeah, the article on the CNNMoney website...

The title is quite accurate: Sandy's small business victims: We don't want loans!

A small business is often, if not always, a "dance with the devil" in terms of cash flow. You borrow money to establish and equip it and then use your proceeds to pay on the loan(s), pay your employees, and operating expenses with whatever is left over for yourself. Sometimes there is nothing left over.

The past 4 years has been tough and small businesses have been struggling to stay afloat, often taking on more debt just to keep going. Yet more loans won't help, they just mean more debt. As bad as the pictures of the devastation have been, we are just beginning to see the long term impact of this storm. 

I don't have answers to the problems, just questions and a little trepidation about the next couple of years.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Stranger in a Strange Land

I wondered into a strange and inexplicable land the other day. I followed a link to an article on the Mother Jones online site.

I was a "Stranger in a Strange Land."

And then I made another mistake... I left a few comments. I couldn't resist. I suppose that's due to the "troll" in me. These people are so far out, so delusional, that there really isn't a chance that logic or reason will make any impact. Still, I left a few comments.

And, of course, I was attacked unmercifully. The article is totally one-sided. It wasn't full of lies, just some distortions. But it lacked balance. And, because it did, it made me a little angry. I know, I shouldn't expect balance on a site like Mother Jones. And I usually simply avoid the site because there is no point. I do not need to aggravate my acid reflux problem.

But I try to read opposing viewpoints. I try to understand the "other side", politically speaking. Only at Mother Jones, it was as if I was beamed back through time and space to southern Los Angeles or northern California circa 1968-1969.


Friday, November 2, 2012

It ain't easy being green sometimes

Having lived on Long Island, and still having relatives in that area, my heart goes out to all affected by Hurricane Sandy. But it brings to mind the weaknesses of being dependent on electricity and mass transit.

None of my relatives lived in the areas most impacted. Those living along the Jersey shore and on barrier islands are the rich, the well off, for the most part and no one in my family is rich or even close to it. It must hurt some who hate the rich to be sympathetic about their losses. I feel sorry for anyone impacted and I wonder about the people who make a living working for the well to do in these places. They will have more work as a result of the storm damage (who do you think will do the clean up?) so it will eventually work out for them but they will have it especially tough for awhile.

Meanwhile, there is gas in many gas station tanks but no way to pump it without electricity (Florida, I believe, passed regulations for new stations to have back up generators after the storms of a few years ago). Subways are mostly still shut down due to flooding, buses are limited and traffic is a mess. How do we re-charge our Leaf or Volt without any electricity at our houses?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

And now... for the other side of the story

You know that video/campaign ad where Lena Dunham talks about "Your first time"?

Here's one response: