Days of Change

Labor Days are Not the Same

September 7, 2014
1 Comment

Last Sunday was the second year of the new, smaller and completely pre-recorded MDA “telethon” which is not necessarily a telethon anymore. Looking at the show in the years since Jerry Lewis was retired, the MDA has tried to make the show shorter, more modern and with bigger celebrities. It’s the Barack Obama of telethons and it is about as effective.

Donations have been on a downward trend, even after corporate donations were added to the total (kind of like the way part-time jobs are now considered employment by the administration). The acts on the program are more current, but they are also people seen every week on many other television stations. The MDA attempted a modern telethon, kind of like the way Obama tried to be hip with a Blackberry.

Telethons are hokey throwbacks to an earlier time. You either have to embrace them or give them up. It’s not impressive to get a big name musician when they can record their performance months in advance anywhere in the country. The acts I liked were those little-seen musical casts and magicians who don’t usually get on TV. If you want modern, the YouTube-based Ice Bucket Challenge made more for ALS research than the MDA telethon did in the last year for all muscular diseases.

The Telethon has ended and everyone lost.


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Pretty Low Key for Two Months

September 6, 2014
1 Comment

I think the GOP got what it wanted in a weakened Tea Party organization. They and certain allies used money and influence to keep the “wrong” candidates out of general elections in November. They also managed to help Democrats who had already taken the money out of Tea Party groups through the IRS, which apparently doesn’t use e-mail.

At least from what I see on MSNBC, Democrats are at least somewhat worried about a Republican majority in the Senate. Legally, a 51-49 Senate wouldn’t change much, but it would give Republicans a moral authority to block legislation in both houses. They would then only have to bear the onslaught of Obama’s public opinion machine, which they are generally bad at resisting.

Prognosticators like Nate Silver learned that the assortment of poorly polled races in off-year elections are notoriously hard to predict. In 2010, there was an overall mood that revealed that Democrats were going to have a bad year. Obama is having the bad year now and that may help to feed an incumbent slump. That may be all we’ve got, because there’s very little excitement on either side.


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The Joan Rivers Post

September 5, 2014
3 Comments

The death of Joan Rivers yesterday brought out a number of tributes to her long and varied career in show business. At the risk of pulling an Obama, I’m going to write about my perception of her.

Joan became a household name due to The Tonight Show and Johnny Carson almost 50 years ago. She was a frequent guest and eventually became the permanent guest host for the show when Carson dropped to 4, then 3 days a week on air. As someone who wasn’t part of that generation, I only knew Joan Rivers after Carson.

I was a David Letterman fan in the 80’s, before he became a liberal tool. I watched and read “The Late Shift” which was the abridged story of the late night wars in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Joan set off the sequence of events to some extent by leaving her guest host gig to host a talk show on Fox. This was pre-Simpsons, which is a long time ago. This departure gave Jay Leno an opening to become the heir apparent to Carson over Letterman. Carson never forgave Leno or Rivers because they did not tell him he was competing against him before it got to the press.

Even after her failure at Fox, Joan got her own Emmy winning talk show and then moved into her own claim to fame, red carpet shows. If awards show are the Superbowl for women, she became the sport’s John Madden. This led to post-show fashion reviews and shows like Fashion Police. She teamed up with her daughter Melissa for many of these occasions. Joan was top banana now, not just the fill-in host.

I think younger people saw Joan Rivers as ubiquitous over the last 25 years. She was out there, doing any number of television shows and appearances. There are so many people who have no idea who Johnny Carson is anymore, but Joan Rivers did a lot to keep herself in the limelight. Everyone’s time on the stage ends at some point, but I think Joan’s post-Tonight Show career introduced everyone to Joan Rivers without the filters.


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The Winner Won’t Be the Guy Behind the Counter

September 4, 2014
1 Comment

Unions had a role in moving factory work to the non-Union South, Mexico and China. They ended the original Hostess company when each group of executives who took over could not make it profitable with union rules and wages. Manufacturing is a shadow of what it once was and the government had to give billions in tax breaks and loans to automakers to keep them operational. The strongest unions now exist in the government sector that is not coincidentally the least financially solvent.

Today we saw yet another ineffective attempt at unionizing fast food workers by promising impossible wages. The SEIU has made efforts to unionize the people who cannot be outsourced. The Service Employee International Union seeks to collectively bargain for everyone who has direct interaction with customers. The problem with that idea is that the service industry is frequently low-skilled with high turnaround and low pay. Who wants to make $9 an hour and then give up a chunk of that in union dues? The SEIU has taken a different approach.

Instead of arguing for unionization, they are whipping up a frenzy over the idea that fast food workers deserve $15 an hour. In terms of wages, this would put what is essentially unskilled labor on par with a first-year teacher in some places. If that fast food wage existed, those teenagers would be replaced by skilled workers looking for a better wage. More likely, the jobs would be replaced by machines and salaried jobs would open up with 60-70 hour workloads.

Not only is this figure ridiculous, it is intentionally so. Unions have already learned that large gains made early on lead to smaller gains later and eventually the kind of union “give backs” that are common among workers who don’t want to lose their jobs entirely. If fast food did unionize, the SEIU could hold $15/hr over the heads of their members for another decade. By that time, the executives of the company can retire on their massive union salaries. The rest of us will be ordering a $10 Big Mac from a robotic clown head.


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All My Hate in One Place

September 3, 2014
5 Comments

I just read that Nicolle Wallace and Rosie Perez have joined ABC’s The View after the mass firings weeks ago. I don’t watch the view, but I hate these people so much I might need to block ABC and blow up my television just in case.


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Steven Sotloff

September 2, 2014
1 Comment

Muslim terrorists have (possibly, but there’s little room for doubt) killed journalist Steven Sotloff. They also killed journalist James Foley after months of torture. Calling the perpetrators ISIS or ISIL or IS or AL-Qaeda or anything else is only an issue of branding. There is not a majority Muslim country on this planet that has declared war on Islamic terror, only the terror groups that are politically inconvenient for them.

Much of the world is in a state of what we in the engineering world call “analysis paralysis.” This administration is in the same place. Without a clear and easy answer with no casualties, we are doing nothing by default. Introducing less action reduces entropy. The problem is that it also makes the forces of evil more efficient, being able to spread their influence without resistance. Look at Putin.

A writer for the Christian Science Monitor ( I was forced to subscribe to this in college by a Democrat professor. It’s a pretty lousy publication) named Dan Murphy has written about how the United States shouldn’t be roused to action by the Sotloff killing. Although he has some anecdotes to argue the point, opinions are like assholes. Murphy’s does not smell any better than anyone else’s.

When he tweeted a more offensive abbreviation of his title on twitter, he predictably became offended by the people who pegged him as an asshole. He defended himself by talking about all the places he went. I have seen a lot of this lately. Writers and bloggers try to prove their bona fides in terms of geographical diversity, much like the Barack Obama story. I’m going to refer to these people as journalistic tourists, people who get their vacations expensed and return with 1500 words they could have written from the coffee shop. They are in no danger of being taken by Muslim terrorists.


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iPocalypse

September 1, 2014
1 Comment

This weekend has seen the release of hundreds of private and not safe for work photos of various female celebrities on a number of websites. The best guess for the source is a hacker of some kind who got access to photos stored on Apple’s iCloud. While their service is secure and encrypted, an e-mail account and some password cracking is all that’s needed to access photos in high-demand to man’s more prurient interests.

I’ll forego my tirade about Apple’s ubiquity being the reason for this. I’ll point out that smartphones are about the least secure thing in the world and even “temporary” storage is not safe. My point tonight is that those people who wanted to dredge up the life of Sarah Palin accepted the same methods from another “hacker” who now flexes his digits in prison. He used the password reset function of Sarah Palin’s Yahoo account to read her e-mails which were by and large uneventful. These photos were not.


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Is Romney Running for the Nomination Again?

August 31, 2014
2 Comments

What I took away from 2012 is that I am more or less correct that Mitt Romney is not the kind of Republican that disgruntled voters picked in 2010. I also learned that I can put aside that reservation and support him as the Republican nominee. This is important. Liberals who supported Nader in 2000 may have tipped the balance toward Bush, especially after the suspicious voting, media manipulation and October surprise of a drunk driving ticket. I won’t eat everything the GOP puts on my plate, but I’ll pick a garden salad over lukewarm potato salad.

My objections to Romney are rooted firmly in his inability to win. My analysis is that his personal advisers along with the moronic jackals who’ve run most Republicans since the late 70’s are going to keep him on a message that is guaranteed to dishearten his base. Republicans can win with fired up Republicans and an increasing number of Independents. Trying to win Democrats is high risk for little benefit.

Now that Breitbart.com has been writing about Romney sounding tough on things again, I am concerned that advisers are again telling him to say things the right-wing nuts in flyover country will like to secure the nomination. This strategy was not that effective in 2012. Most of his support came from the lack of any other long-term front-runner. It got worse in the fall when he ran away from conservative principles and alienated possible voters.

I would support Mitt Romney in just about any cabinet position, even as Vice President. Let’s not kid ourselves, however. Romney is no Ronald Reagan. The third time won’t be the charm.


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The Technological Leap

August 30, 2014
1 Comment

I just read another post where someone complained about their Smart /i Phone not relaying their intended text. There are websites devoted to the phenomenon of a phone’s interpretation of what you type. While the Supreme Court has ruled that a phone is a computer, it’s still not there for everyone.

The “kids” today have been exposed to phones and tablets much earlier and use them for the apps and mobile friendly content available. They don’t do the same things on them. I’ve only been using a laptop for the last few years and it sits on my desk with 7 cables coming out of it. If I were really an integrated laptop user, it would be more like 2.

Microsoft offers a Surface tablet with a USB port and a Display Port connector. You could use it as a tablet with or without a keyboard. You could also set it on your desk, plug power and a monitor into it and use a USB hub for a mouse and keyboard. You’ve basically re-created a computer. It’s what I do with my laptop at home and my Windows tablet at work. I haven’t made the transition.

I do have an idea of what a “computer” may be like in the future. Homes will have a box where data will come in and be stored. It will be accessed by something between a big phone and a small tablet, kind of like the pads from the 1990’s versions of Star Trek. Typing may be replaced by voice.

Whatever happens, older people will create it and younger people will access its potential. I’m comfortable using my smart phone as a smart toy because I know my limits.


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Always Assume Petty Motives

August 29, 2014
1 Comment

My current guess as to why Obama and his minions call ISIS “ISIL” is because it complicates sound bites. The administration is forced to answer questions about ISIS, but by calling it ISIL the media has to put in the obligatory sentences about how ISIL is ISIS and the translation has to do with different Middle East territories and the average Obama voter’s eyes have glazed over and they forgot what they were reading.

In other words, Obama is doing it because he’s a dick.


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