Monday, May 22, 2017

How The World Works

      The world is made up of two different kinds of countries, countries that are Great Powers and countries that are so-so powers. 
      If you live in a country that's a Great Power, you get up in the morning, shower, shave, get dressed, have breakfast, go to work, come home, read the paper, eat supper, put on your pajamas and maybe watch a little television.
      Sometimes, right in the middle of your favorite show, you might get a call from the  President telling you that a guy on the next block started a business in a foreign country somewhere, that somebody is trying to take it away from him, and that you have to go get it back for him. He explains about how Great Powers have 'interests'  and now you finally understand what 'having interests' really means.
       So you get dressed, get your gun from the closet, drive to the airport, fly to the country where the guy has his business, shoot whoever took if from him and, if you didn't also get shot, drive back to the airport, fly home, maybe catch the end of your favorite show, and, go to sleep.
      If you live in a country that's a so-so power, everything is pretty much the same, except that you get to watch all your favorite shows and you hardly ever have to shoot anybody unless they try to shoot you first.
      And that's how the world works.  Now you know too.                                                         
                                                                 THE END  

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Hooray for Hollywood?

        Since 1996, film production days in Los Angeles are down by 50% and what's worse is that nobody in the whole state is blaming global warming,
        Anyway, the problem seems to be that states from Texas to New York are offering tax credits to the movie industry that are way more generous than those offered by the state of California and now the folks in the industry can't get to those states fast enough. And they're taking the work with them.
        But, wait a minute. Aren't these the same  warm, fuzzy wuzzy, 'socially conscious' A-listers, who are always going on about how unfair the tax system is and here they are, zipping all over the country as fast as their stretch Priuses will carry them, trying to save on their...taxes?
        How many kids could be put into decent schools and how many new hospitals and clinics could be built if they would just...stay put and pay up? 
                                                                     ***
        "Yea, hooray, yea." (clap, clap, clap) "That guy's heart sure is in the right place, isn't it?"
        "Sure is. Too bad his wallet is somewhere else."

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Deniers

      
       "Orville, Wilbur, what am I holding in my hand?"
       "A butter knife, Ma."
       "Right. Now, watch what happens when I drop it....Clang!...Did you see what happened when I dropped the butter knife, the heavier-than-air butter knife?
       Did it fly? Did it go flying around the room singing, 'Fly Me To The Moon?'
       No! It didn't fly because it's heavier than air. And if something is heavier than air it can't fly. Everybody knows that, everybody except you two. Couple of damn...deniers!"
                                                 ***
        And, before the Wright brothers, there was the 'denier' Copernicus who knew that it was the Earth that revolved around the sun.
        And Lister showed that the almost 50% surgical mortality of the day was due to preventable infections while the surgeons kept sharpening their scalpels on their boots because they weren't going to listen to that upstart 'denier,' Lister.
        And schizophrenia is caused by 'poor parenting.' (It isn't.)
        And stomach ulcers are caused by 'stress.' (Uh-uh, a bacteria, H. Pylori.)
        And, until 1973, homosexuality was a 'mental illness' caused by a domineering mother,
        "Oh, doctor, my poor little Ru Paul. And it's all my fault."
        "Yes it is, Mrs. Cohen. But cheer up. At least you'll have someone to give your old clothes to. You know what your husband's things look like by the time he's ready to get rid of them. Men!"
        And now it's climate change...or is that global warming or global cooling or global drying or global wetting? Whatever...It's bad and it's our fault. All the experts agree. So don't be a damn...'denier.' Please, just shut up!!!
        Well, science doesn't advance by getting the 'deniers' to 'just shut up'.  
Science advances by asking questions. Questions, questions, and more questions. And it's the 'deniers' who  are the ones asking the questions....and making the butter knives fly.

        "The case is never closed." - Albert Einstein

The Rich Won't Make You Poor...Really

       Why all the fuss about 'income inequality?' Is that really the 'biggest problem we're facing today?' Is it, in fact, really a 'problem' at all?
        Microsoft, Google, Facebook, speaking of 'income inequality,' suppose they had never come along and created all their stuff, would one poor person be the slightest bit more prosperous and happy?
        Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, the Wright brothers....same thing. Would the 'poor'  have been better off without electric lights and cars and railroads and steel and airplanes? Pre-industrial America was rough. 
        You can't raise the floor by lowering the ceiling. It's an illusion. The only thing you get that way is a country full of people who've forgotten how to stand up straight.

Friday, May 19, 2017

What Did He Say?!

"I have a dream that someday all men can live as brothers."
        "Yeah! G-d bless you, Dr. King."
        "Martin's the man!"
"And be judged by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin."
         "Yes, Reverend King. Say it like it is."
         "Beautiful! 'Content of their character.' Right on, brother!"
"And that someday all people can live together like neighbors, white and black, black and white. Right next door to each other."
        "Yeah, G-d bles...Huh? What did he say?"
        "I think he said we should all live together."
"I have a dream that someday little black boys and girls will sit in the same classrooms as little white boys and girls."
        "Wait a minute! How's that going to work out? My kid starts Poly in the fall. Isn't
        yours going to St. Ann's?"
        "Damn right she is."
"And that someday white folks will give up promotions on their jobs so that black folks can get those promotions to make up for past wrongs."
          "What? Did you hear that? This guy's nothing but a damn...Commie!"
          "Damn!"
"But, in the meantime, I have a dream that it's okay if white folk just wear Trayvon Martin souvenir tee shirts and hoodies and go to Central Park to do the wave and sing about social injustice and watch MSNBC."
           "Whew! That's more like it. Making me a little nervous there for a minute."
           "Yeah, me too." 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

If A Philosopher Falls In The Forest...

       The humanities division at Harvard University is attracting fewer undergraduate students these days. The kids, it seems, have finally figured out that it's tough to get a job after graduation if pretty much all you've been preparing for is listening for the sound of a tree falling in the forest. That's okay if you've got a family business to go into but, if you don't...
       The University, for its part, has responded by preparing a report suggesting the humanities division aggressively market itself to freshmen and sophomores, convince them of how useful spending four years studying history and gender studies and philosophy can be ["Harriet, the toilet is overflowing. Quick, call an existentialist!"]
         In other words, they're trying to snooker your kids! Is it any wonder that the late William F. Buckley once said that he would rather be governed by the first 300 names in the Boston phone directory than by the faculty of Harvard University?

The Golden Years

     Getting old is rough. Or, rather, being old is rough. Getting old is easy. All you have to do to get old is be born and then stand in one spot for 75 years and you'll get old. Couldn't be easier. BEING old though, that's another story.
      Being old means you become invisible. People look right thru you, like a potted plant. Nobody notices you anymore. You just stand there waiting to be...watered. 
      Could anything be worse? Well, being old and needing long term care could be worse. Sneeze in front of the kids some time and it's,
       "You think he needs a nursing home?"
       "I don't know. He doesn't sound so good."
       And then it's off to the lawyer you go. That's right, the lawyer. There's a special branch of the law that handles the problem that you didn't know you had. It's called, Get-pop-on-Medicaid-before-he-has-to-go-to-a-nursing-home-and-pisses-away-our-whole-inheritance Law or simply, Elder Law. 
                                                             *** 
        Long term care is way too expensive. It eventually bankrupts most of the people who need it. Then they go on Medicaid which is bankrupting most of the states and the federal governmen. There's a better way,
        'He who forgets the repast...', Everyone in a facility should be assured nourishing meals, clean sheets, and the right to be treated with dignity and respect. That's it. Forget measuring the height of the soap dispensers, the size of the the sinks and the endless paperwork and 'staff training' that costs a fortune and accomplishes...nothing..
       And then provide a voucher for basic care to anyone who asks, regardless of ability to pay. Keep it simple and it'll cost less than the system we have now that costs millions to make sure that no one, anywhere, gets a free hamburger when they can really afford to pay for one.
       Want a more luxurious old age? Combine the voucher with personal savings. If you've lived an industrious and frugal life, you get to live a little better in your potted plant years, or maybe leave a few bucks to the kids.

       And, best of all, you'll never need a lawyer, even if you sneeze..