Thursday, May 30, 2013

Loss of rights

The IRS scandal has a number of disturbing features. Basic, however, is that approximately half the country, the conservative half, now knows that if they raise their hand or raise an opinion, the IRS will take a shot at them.

One of the articles of impeachment for Nixon was that he asked officials to target people, the now famous "Look into this guy". Now, no one has told or ordered the IRS, it is an organizational culture. In the last election, the union that represents IRS employees donated 95% of its funds to Democrats. There were higher-ups, middle managers and a lot of employees who decided to target people of the "opposing" political party.

Romney said 47% of people wouldn't vote for him. The Obama administration has taken action against the other 50% or so.

This is troublesome and dangerous when nearly half the population knows it has lost its political rights.

The IRS does not fear any retribution, apparently, as they lie to Congress. The head of the tax-exempt area, Lois Lerner, managed to lie even as she acknowledged impropriety.

This doesn't resonate with the elite. It is only targeting those "little people" who are in the fly-over zone in the middle of the country. No reason for liberal California or the New York/Washington press to fret over it. They are fretting a bit about the fact that Attorney General Holder says he doesn't know anything about shadowing the press. Seems that no one knows anything.

Remember, if you are conservative, it is admission to the liberal elite (top executives of ABC, CBS and CNN are related to or married to people who work for Obama in high positions) that you are mentally inadequate. They are the ones with the answers.

How could this happen? After all, we are the country that invented the Sham Wow!!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Speech to text

I have recently discovered simply speaking into my phone, a Samsung S2, to create text messages. You can do other stuff.

It does have its perils--I wanted to say to Linda that I was, "Going to wash a few things," and it said, "Going to wash a few thongs." That can leave an indelible impression.

Old People and Capitalism

Now that title mentions a couple of unrelated topics, and they are going to remain so in this blog.


My 50th high school reunion was held last weekend, and about half my 17-member class attended. The whole deal was full of old people.

One of the topics of conversation was the senior prank that Ray Pilakowski and I pulled off which I had forgotten. One night we removed all the books from the lockers and stacked them in the girls' bathroom. Nothing was harmed, but lots of people were annoyed. A lot of folks were pretty ok with it, though, as they got the day off from school because nobody had books. No one knew until a long time later, either.

My oldest daughter, Amy, and her daughter, Anna, went with me, mostly to see the farm and such. Not sure I know what to think about my granddaughter hearing that story about Grandpa.

Back home now, tired and not sure what to make of it, but will probably talk some more later.


Now, the capitalism angle. Yahoo! bought Tumblr for $1.1 billion. In cash. Do you know what Tumblr's revenue amounted to last year? Don't confuse profits with total revenue as there were no profits. In the article I read, the advice when estimating revenue was, "Go lower." Yep, total annual revenue of $14 million, or about the same as a modest retail store in a strip center.

The point of the author was that the free market, capitalism, makes all kinds of mistakes all the time. I sort of had high hope for the new celebrity CEO of Yahoo!, Marissa Mayer, who the author called the Danica Patrick of tech. But this isn't just ludicrous, it is insane.

At the end of the article there is another astute observation--the Republicans would benefit from admitting that the free market, capitalism makes mistakes rather than defending the stupid stuff.

Unstated is that capitalism, despite its faults is so much superior to any other system.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Our lawn

My neighbors have nicely tended lawns and landscaping. Our house was neglected for over 4 years by renters, and it looks like the landscaping equivalent of a comb-over.

Maybe next year.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

May 12

You gather important dates all your life. Starts with your birthday. Everybody has one. Ends with the date of your death, inevitably; but that one won’t be stored as a memory like the others.

November 22, 1963. That is one I remember, but I don’t remember many other dates when people died. There are other dates that become important during your life, and they accumulate.

Birthdays of your kids, the day you got married. The day you had heart surgery. Things stick with you, and then there is the human custom of anniversaries, when you reaffirm that important date every year. Pretty soon you have as many holidays as a South American country.

May 12, 2013 is Mother’s Day. On May 12, 1934, my parents were married. A few years ago, I received a clipping in the mail from a woman I had known slightly when we were children that memorialized the event—right there in the paper! The Columbus Telegram, no less! It didn’t mention some of the really significant things, like that it was over 100 degrees that day, or that it would stay hot and the corn would burn up before it reached knee height. It didn’t mention that it was the worst of the Great Depression. Or that the date was chosen because of the cycle of farming, of corn. You planted corn by the 10th of May. That was the rule.

My mother, a high school graduate, was a teacher in the one-room country school like I went to for nine years. School was out, complete, the final picnic done before the corn planting date. It was a rule.

So the date for the wedding had a lot to do with the cycle of the seasons, the cycle of farming, the basic cycle of life. As it turns out, I owe my very existence (and so do you) to those cycles.

The clipping from the paper had the fact that there were flowers, the cousin who was a preacher that performed the ceremony and the list of witnesses, and the clipping came from the daughter of the young woman who was my mother’s maid of honor. From the description and what I have heard, the cost of the wedding was minimal, not like the cost of weddings that try to live up to what the brides see on the reality shows today. According to Cost of, the average cost for Americans is now $25,656—not including the honeymoon. My parents went to Onawa, Iowa overnight. But the marriage lasted for over 55 years, “until death do us part.”

There has always been a “right-ness” about that date for me, now in the distant past, nearly 80 years ago. Birthdays are random, but that date was like my parents; not whimsical, completely practical, closely associated with the land and the seasons. Right and proper.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Clever stuff

I have long lamented the fact, and hoped it would somehow be miraculously solved, that I can't write the clever stuff.

Again, it is pretty old news, but here is an example:

Comment on a story titled, "Jets fans react to drafting Geno Smith."

"I heard Sanchez got so mad he threw his remote at the tv, missed it by seven yards and his neighbor intercepted it."

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Drop in gun violence

The following is from MSNBC:

Gun violence in America has fallen dramatically over the past two decades, and the number of murders committed with a firearm is down too, though guns are still by far the leading type of crime weapon, according to a new report from the Justice Department.

As for where crime guns came from, the study notes that less than two percent of convicted inmates reported buying their weapons at gun shows or flea markets. The highest number, 40 percent, said the guns came from a family member or a friend. About 37 percent said the weapons were stolen or obtained from an illegal source. The rest say the guns were bought at a retail store or pawn shop.

Murders committed with a gun dropped 39 percent to 11,101 in 2011, from a high of 18,253 in 1993, according to the report.

Other crimes committed with guns were down even more sharply — from 1.53 million in 1993 to 467,300 in 2011, a drop of 70 percent, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Around 70 percent of murders were committed with a firearm, and of those, the vast majority involved a handgun -- fluctuating between 70-80 percent.

My comments and questions:

Let it be known, this is not new. This is a trend that has gained momentum, and I believe I have written about it, although maybe not on this blog.

Why the hysteria about guns, particularly "assault weapons" in light of this information? Why is the drop in crime, the drop in gun crime in particular, not the subject of some political congratulating? Well, for one thing, it seems that the political stuff hasn't had much effect.

Note that nearly 80% of the guns used were stolen, illegally gotten or came from family/friends. None of the new laws proposed even begin to address those sources. The excitement has been on how many cartridges can go in a magazine (or, as the anti-gun folks say, bullets and clips). This is particularly ridiculous, the "appearance" of a gun.

The appearance of a gun makes no difference--it can look either cute, mean or cool, but if it can fire a round, it is dangerous. The "assault weapon" thing reveals a fundamental lack of understanding about the way weapons work--adjust the sear on any semi-automatic weapon and you make it fully automatic.

One of the first things I learned in gun safety when I was about 12 years old was that every gun is dangerous. Another phrase: the most dangerous gun is the "unloaded" gun. The first thing any of us in our family do when we handle a gun is to open the action, check to see that it is not loaded. Even if someone else just did it. Then never point at anything we don't intend to kill.

I will repeat myself. I have told this story many times. A guy notices a person, obviously drunk, on his hands and knees under a street light appearing to be looking for something. "Can I help?" "Sure," slurred the drunk, "I lost my contact lens." "About where did it drop?" "Over there," the drunk waves off in the distance. "Well, why are you looking here?" "Cause the light's better."

How often we all look where the light is better. We need to encourage real researchers doing real science to keep trying to figure out the causes and prevention of "random mass shootings," the only category of violent crime that has increased. Why? What can be done.

Why don't our politicians and the Hollywood types concern themselves with facts? Just publicity, group think and hysteria? Why do they only look where the light is better? Probably because the real issues are too difficult. Don't wave a fact or real issue in front of Diane Feinstein. The amount of time, effort and money spent on anti-gun campaigns is the real crime.

Again today, 90 million legal gun owners didn't kill anyone. Maybe legal gun ownership isn't the problem. By the way, did this story make it to the papers and "news" sources that put a lot of ink out on anti-gun stuff?

Saturday, May 4, 2013


Spoiler alert--these are answers to the previous post.

Re: the connection between the 60's word, "relevant" and the $64,000 Question show: the sponsor in question was Revlon. REV elant (the way it is usually mis-pronounced) and REV lon.

The spelling word: antidisestablishmentarianism. Not difficult at all, just long. Spelled like it sounds.

Sorry, this wasn't the best quiz. No dollars, either $64 or $64,000!!!

The Sixty-Four Dollar Question

I remember hearing the phrase, "Well, that's the Sixty-four dollar question" in my youth, and then it was surpassed in the mid-1950's by "the Sixty-four thousand dollar question."

Apparently, the $64 variety came from a radio game show in the 1940's, and caught on in popular (in my Nebraska???) vernacular. It was the top prize, and it was easily generated--two to the sixth power.

I remember my mother using the phrase, and then sort of dissing her because to me, $64,000 was more relevant. Oops, used a 60's word--do you remember the sponsor of the $64,000 question game show? It is connected to the 60's word I just used. Reveal later.

This was the show that was at the heart of the payola scandal along with one that was named ??21??.

Do you remember the word that was given to the young black lady who won the big spelling prize? It isn't that difficult, just long, but I sure as hell hadn't heard the word at the time. Reveal, later.

Now, that's the $64 question.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

May 2

Important date for me. The day after Osama was killed, the docs in St. Louis gave me a wonderful gift when they carved a piece of extra tissue out of my heart.

Can't believe it was two years ago.

This blog reaches people who are important to me. I want all of you to know how thankful I am to have you and to have my remodelled heart.