Friday, February 02, 2007
Thursday, February 01, 2007
Mexico City (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched through Mexico's capital on Wednesday night to protest a surge in tortilla prices that has put President Felipe Calderon under intense pressure.
Soaring U.S. demand for ethanol has sent corn prices to their highest level in a decade, pulling up prices of Mexico's national food staple.
Protesters held up ears of corn and complained that Calderon, a conservative accused by leftists of stealing the July 2006 presidential election, was failing to protect them against foreign market forces.
Wait a minute...FOREIGN MARKET FORCES?
FOREIGN MARKET FORCES?
See Ladies & Gentlemen, no matter what you do, and how much you give, what you put up with, and what your intentions are...SOMEBODY'S got a problem with it...
Somebody important said that there's actually a "clean" black guy running for President.
The media has freaked out, along with
Dammit, People get over this Political Correctness Shit.
Slap me if I'm wrong...and I'll shut up...
I don't know what to say right now, because nothing much interesting is going on in my life and watching the news makes my head hurt.
Let's see what develops here as I write, but I'm not making you any promises on quality...
Those that know me or which stop by here regularly to read my rantings and ravings know that I read and watch a LOT of news on TV and on the Internet.
The only thing I've seen so far this morning that struck my mind as being worth mentioning and which I could write something glib or funny or even infuriating about was this story about US Representative Loretta Sanchez quitting something called "The Congressional Hispanic Caucus" over supposedly being called a "Whore" by the group's leader.
Rep. Loretta Sanchez has quit the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, accusing the chairman, Rep. Joe Baca, of telling people she's a "whore."
Baca denied the charge.
In an interview with The Politico Wednesday, Sanchez, a California Democrat as is Baca, also cited concerns about whether Baca was properly elected Hispanic Caucus chairman in November and about his general attitude toward female lawmakers. The caucus represents 21 Hispanic Democrats in Congress.
"I'm not going to be a part of the CHC as long as Mr. Baca illegally holds the chair … I told them no. There's a big rift here," Sanchez said. "You treat the women like shit. I have no use for him."
My kneejerk reaction, after thinking "dammmmmmmmmmmnnnnnn", was to ask why we even need groups like "The Congressional Hispanic Caucus"?
After all, aren't we supposed to be "equal" here in our new colorblind world?
Then I remembered that there was another recent story (I'm too lazy to do a Google search) and some commentary about "The congressional Black Caucus" and the idea of eliminating it on the basis of political correctness terms.
I say not.
I say everyone should enjoy the right to free association and to form groups among like-mined and ethnic individuals. (Let's at the same time leave Augusta National Golf club alone this spring instead of seeing it assaulted by a bunch of slogan chanting harry legged lesbians before their annual Masters' Golf Tournament.)
Then, just to be fair, and as an example for
If I were in Congress, I'd be the leader of the "Redneck Rocket Scientist Caucus."
If Cynthia McKinney were to ever get re-elected, she could lead the "Stupid Loud-Mouthed- Moonbat-Police-Punching-Black-Bitch Caucus."
How about the "I Can't Make A Real Living So I Ran For Public Office Because My Last Name Is Kennedy Caucus"?
And finally, there could be the "My Husband Was A Worthless Womanizer So I Moved To New York And Ran For The Senate Caucus.?
Sometimes I crack my own self up...
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Have I mentioned that I can fix almost anything, IF you give me a manual and the proper tools?
Fix almost anything, that is.
The only problem is that if I anticipate only having to do a given procedure once in a lifetime, I realize that it would sometimes be wise to hire a professional to handle the task and bloody their knuckles and curse their way through the process.
Disk Brake pads?
Drum brake pads?
I’ll think about it.
Radiators and water pumps and power steering pumps are another matter, however, although I have successfully done a complete engine and a couple of transmission/clutch jobs in my younger years.
I can replace an alternator in the parking lot outside the auto parts store in about fifteen minutes.
Want to bet me?
That said, right now I have a couple of things that are in need of a good fixing on my old 1995 Chevrolet Suburban that are not included on my list of specialties, and dang it if the local Dealer (I won’t name names here because they haven’t actually caused me harm or otherwise done anything wrong and don‘t have the opportunity to rebut what I‘m writing about them) hasn’t reignited the fire in my soul against auto dealers and, more specifically, Auto Dealer MECHANICS
Then there is also the unique species of subhuman called SERVICE WRITERS, that many times work in concert with the Mechanics (I'm not talking about everyone in the business, just many or most…so don’t start e-mailing me and bitching and complaining because your father or brother-in-law is a mechanic or service writer.)
It’s just that, in my experience, almost anyone with the label of “Service Writer” on them is immediately suspect to living right down there under a rock with the snails and slugs and people like bookies and loan sharks that take advantage of people and generally stink up the environment.
Where do they go to learn to be so crooked?
I almost committed mass murder and burned a Pontiac Dealership down back in the 1980’s over a new car that they sold me and couldn’t ever manage to fix, no matter how much money I paid them.
I swear that I couldn't drive to my mailbox at the end of my driveway without it breaking down.
This all happened back before Georgia passed their Auto "Lemon Laws", and the “Service Writer” actually looked at his watch one morning and told me that they didn’t open for business for another fifteen minutes, and then while smirking at me he added “If it weren’t for cars like YOURS, I wouldn’t have a job.”
My response was “ if it weren’t for fists like mine, his mouth would have a few more teeth.”
The so-called “Service Manager” handled our account from that point to the day we sold the vehicle. I ended up hating virtually everyone that worked at that dealership...but...
Yesterday I received TWO QUOTES to do some work on my aforementioned vehicle, and the one from the local Chevy Dealer was more than double the independent mechanic’s price and further, the guy would not guarantee that the number couldn’t or wouldn’t escalate once they had the bowels of my beloved truck spilled out on their dirty concrete shop floor.
I’ve got a third quote coming today, then I hope to make a decision and spend a few days being a one car family while I get my beloved Suburban back into cross country interstate shape.
After all, it only has about 183,000 miles on it…I see another ten years of gas guzzling fun on the horizon with a little investment of time and money.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Way back in early 1995 I was running a fairly successful Engineering company and had what I considered to be a pretty decent cash flow, and as a result I eventually felt like going out and splurging some of my hard earned cash on a "Home Entertainment System."
I ended up with a Bose surround sound speaker system, attached to a 100 disk CD changer and a Panasonic 110 Watt amp. I also had a (woo hoo) 32" flat screen Sony Television that had to weigh at least 150 pounds, and once I got the miles of giant "Monster" cables installed and connected to the components, I was in Heaven.
My stereo/Video system ROCKED...until my house burned down and cooked it (the stereo) into ashes.
In fact, the Sheriff's office and the insurance company inspectors agreed that it was probably my stereo that caused the fire--AFTER they got through with the arson investigation.
Don't even get me started talking about what it feels like to be accused of buring your own house down after your house burns down.
I've almost gotten over that experience, but not quite.
Just now FOX News was reporting on a story with a prediction that 2.5 Million people are going to run out and buy large format flat screen TV's this week, just to watch the Super Bowl.
I hope they have the same realization now that I had that year when I bought my TV...
"Pre-Super Bowl Return and Exchange Limits"
Wait a minute here, everybody.
When I go to the store, I generally know the shape and size of what I'm looking for, and most of the time I already know exactly the brand and model which I'm going to buy when I get there. Further, in the past ten years I've also had cash money (read that US currency) in my pocket to pay for it most of the time.
Then when I get to the TV department or the cash register, I find that I have to put up with some
It was a surprise to me at first, but I learned that for years now people have attempted to not buy but "borrow" large screen TV's simply to watch for one evening...
Super Bowl Evening.
So what's up wit' that?
Is it just me or what?
I'm thinking that I might be confused or something, because...
When and IF I get through with dealing with driving through traffic, enduring the sales pitch of some pimple faced teen nerd, and dragging home a giant cardboard box full of styrofoam and plastic, I AIN'T TAKING ANYTHING BACK.
If it breaks, and if it weighs over 25 pounds, and if it is under warranty, then YOU ARE COMING TO PICK IT UP AND BRING ME A NEW ONE.
AT YOUR EXPENSE.
Regardless of the day of the week or the time of the year, make me happy else I'm coming to visit you with my little friend, Mr. Smith & Wesson.
OK, not really.
I guess I'll just stay home this week so I don't have to stomp any sports fans to death with my only good foot.
Monday, January 29, 2007
Here's what I had to say back in October 2004 (slightly modified):
Just in case you haven't noticed, I’ve had a love hate relationship with formal education—both the mandatory 12 years of primary/secondary school and my dual experiences as an undergraduate Mechanical Engineering student.
You see, I consider myself to be smart, and I was a good student in school, and maybe I'm just biased as a result.
I just disliked many of my (government) school teachers and many of my (government) school teachers barely tolerated me.
I say many because there were actually a few instructors that liked my work and I liked them, but these were the exceptions rather than the rule. I had a problem with the educational process in that I found it to be tedious and overly bureaucratic.
I guess that my mind didn’t fit the model of the student that they were trained to teach.
My primary failure seemed to be my belief that I was actually there to learn something and that there was too much crap and politics that had to be dealt with in order to get your daily dose of readin’, writin’, and ‘rithmatic.
In post World War II America, the government has bought (or possibly sold ) the general public’s simplistic belief that a high school diploma automatically guarantees quality employment and economic success.
To this end, the public (government) school system has made every effort to hand a high school diploma to every person (read that so-called student) that can show up in a classroom for some minimum number of days over a twelve year period.
Rather (but not Dan Rather) than supporting and maintaining the quality while increasing access to a primary and secondary education, the end result has been the degradation of standards and the output of basically the same number of qualified graduates as were produced before government intervention.
The key word is qualified.
You heard me right, everyone is required to go, but the number of successful high school students is quantitatively the same.
It’s a matter of supply and demand.
In spite of this increased availability of educational programs here in Georgia, today over 40% of high school students drop out before graduation.
Do you get this?
They are virtually giving away high school diplomas based on attendance and still nearly half of the students don’t have enough sense and discipline to hang around long enough to get one.
And the sad reality is that the diploma has no real market value in its current form.
I say that that's because a diploma has become basically a certificate of (non)attendance.
You see, the Imperial Federal Government of the By God United Damn States of America made their first foray into higher education with the passage of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (all 499 pages in PDF format if you want to read it,) and back then the next target of the Federal Government’s newly formed Department of Education was a college diploma.
Since the high school diplomas weren’t getting enough people a country club membership and a new Caddy Seville every three years, the belief was that adding four more years of education with the obligatory government meddling would certainly do the trick.
Of course the Ivy League schools like Harvard and Yale wouldn’t in theory have to participate, but the state colleges and Universities were in for an onslaught of ill prepared “High School” graduates with government backing.
Lewis Grizzard, one of my personal idols and a famous southern humorist, newspaper columnist, and staunch University of Georgia alumni was once quoted as saying (paraphrasing): “they say if you drive through the UGA campus, they will throw a diploma through your open car window…taint true…you got to stop your car.”
How true that has become, Lewis.
The State of Georgia went as far as to use education as a basis for implementing a state lottery, the result being the HOPE Scholarship program and state funded pre-K and Kindergarten programs that were heralded as the end-all save-all solution for Georgia students.
The jury is still officially out, but after ten years the initial results are that the HOPE program has done very little to improve education in Georgia. The few good high school teachers that were out there have suffered under pressure to inflate grades to make students have the necessary “B” average to qualify for a Hope scholarship.
The few good college professors are now pressured to hand out A’s and B’s in order to allow students to maintain HOPE Scholarship eligibility. And the reality is that a large percentage of the students entering college with Hope Scholarships are not really qualified and as a result, many have to take remedial classes in English (their native language) and math before they can even enter the normal curriculum.
As is usual with found money, the state government has had a spending spree of using HOPE funds to pay for non-scholarship expenses like computer technology that no one on the educational staff can fathom and for building new facilities all over the state that either aren't needed or are under-utilized.
In the ensuing financial crunch caused by low qualification standards, the state legislature has had to wrestle every year with potential changes to program requirements. The problems are not unique to HOPE, they are just amplified by the availability of public money.
Racial leaders and activists claim that “rich people’s” kids get a disproportionate share of HOPE money—they want income limits on recipients. Inner city school proponents refuse to acknowledge the academic deficiencies of the current standards and oppose the use of SAT scores as part of the qualification process.
As a result, the college remedial programs continue to bulge at seams.
Again, at the heart of the issue is the concept of supply and demand.
Here is my simple (but accurate) Redneck analysis for your enjoyment (and liberal disdain.)
Suppose that by some miracle we actually managed to make the following changes in our society:
1. Every child was a willing and able student.
2. Every household provided a nourishing academic environment.
3. Every school has qualified teachers, useable facilities, and adequate funding.
Given these improvements and assuming that the academic standards were ethically maintained, I guarantee you that the socialists and utopians would still be unhappy.
Because there would still be students with B, C, and even failing grade averages.
All students are not in fact created equal.
Everyone can't be Valedictorian.
Further, even if you could get every high school student up to a B performance level and handed them a HOPE scholarship, there are not enough seats in college classrooms to park their butts in every day for two to four years.
If you were to somehow carry this concept through to the college level and actually get every student a college sheepskin, then you will find that there are not enough jobs that require a college degree (even a degree in "Underwater Basket Weaving" or god forbid—"Education") to use all of the applicants which they receive.
Only the top students would get the best jobs and attain the highest levels of success in the workplace.
As I like to say, “everyone can’t be a rocket scientist.”
Well, actually, you can be a “rocket scientist,” but you might be an unemployed rocket scientist unless you want to start your own company and work for yourself. (Kudos to Dick Rutan.)
So back to my original point...
“No Child left Behind?”
Baah, Humbug...I say kick them (and their parents) in their behinds until the child has no behind left if they aren't interested in getting a REAL education.
Sunday, January 28, 2007
Well, the bad news is that apparently winter has officially arrived here in the Golden Isles.
The good news is that it took until late January to do so. As Exhibit A I offer a couple of photos of what we faced yesterday morning...I actually had to put on a shirt and wear a jacket when I went outside.
Yes, that is FROST on the roof of our Condo building, and a nice heavy coat of bumpy ice on Pat's Mustang which I absentmindedly left outside instead of using the carport with full knowledge our bout with this blast of winter was coming.
I probably missed some "cool" (please excuse the intended pun) photo opportunities somewhere out there on the marsh, but I was too lazy to get up and out before 8 AM and actually scrape ice off the windshield in order to go see what I could find.
So any way, once we managed to get out of bed, get dressed, and make our monthly run over to Walmart and the computer store to buy printer ink, on a whim we also stopped by Tuesday Morning where I found this (the big thing...not the little thing)...
The little thing is a standard corkscrew I put in the photo for the purpose of giving you some scale and perspective of what I'm up to.
The large thing is a "spike" designed to place in the ground in your yard to chain your dog to...that's right, it's a '"dog spike"...but I have another idea for its use.
Remember my giant clay olive sculpture that I did recently?
Well, I'm going to do a little modification and convert it (my "dog spike," not the olive) into a giant Corkscrew, and then I'm going to make myself a giant wine bottle cork out of some clay to go with it.
I figure that the cork will end up being about the size of a 2 liter soda bottle.
The Olive has been a great success with the employees and patrons over at our local wine shop, so I think that I will continue along on my journey turning the store into my own private art gallery.
It's really tough being me...