Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The wisdom of Abraham Lincoln (part 9)


“When you have got an elephant by the hind leg,
            and he is trying to get away, it's best to let him run."

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
16th President of the United States

This sounds like the flip side of the "elephant in the room" warning.
I think it works pretty well for "800-lb gorillas" too….
Good old Abe.
Did he know EVERYTHING?

Now, on the other hand, sometimes you want to hang on….









Sunday, October 27, 2013

A kinder, gentler "Being There"…..


Here's a short remembrance, written by a Cherokee woman with a Cherokee heart:

"Down in the edge of the woods a grapevine swings back and forth in the dappled sunlight. Two squirrels, young ones, spend time swinging on the vine, chasing each other up and down and crossing from tree to tree. Their obvious joy in simply being alive is good to watch. We seldom do anything with great joy."

It reminded me of Robert Frost. Mr. Frost didn't mention squirrels in "Birches," but he might have….

Here's an excerpt of what he did say, you'll recognize it:

I'd like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth's the right place for love:


I don't know where it's likely to go better.
I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.








Saturday, October 26, 2013

The wisdom of Sam Levenson (part 2)


“It's simple to be wise.
     Just think of something stupid to say and say the opposite.” 

American humorist, writer, teacher, TV celeb and journalist  


OK, this approach might not be foolproof, but it gets you started on the right track.

Nobody ever INTENDS to say something stupid, right?











OK, so that's not true….







Friday, October 25, 2013

P. G. Wodehouse – we miss you!


I happened on this 1982 review of a biography of P. G. Wodehouse, and I can't resist believing the reviewer is a hatefully well-bred person.






Prof. Samuel Hynes very incautiously permits himself to label old P. G. as " . . . the greatest trivial novelist in literary history . . ."

Egad.










Is he talking about Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse (1881-1975), the remarkably gabby genius who created Bertie Wooster and Jeeves?

Is he talking about the guy who makes us love the incurably erratic Wooster?  who makes us worshipfully respect the very properly domineering Jeeves who can't hurt a fly, knows nearly everything and saves Bertie's bacon every time? who makes us stiffen, suppressing cries of delight, as we absorb the adjectival artistry of the whole bloody Wooster/Jeeves madhouse?


Hynes goes so far as to declare that Wodehouse "created a world without real problems and without human depths." If you've read any of Wodehouse's work, you know that ain't true. There's a bit of Bertie's passion and despair in all of us, and Jeeves divinely makes it possible for everyone around him to be human.


There's just one word too many in Hynes' summary of Sir P. G. Wodehouse: "the greatest trivial novelist."

Now you know which one it is.
     
Read Hynes' comments about Frances Donaldson's 1982 biography, P. G. Wodehouse.





Thursday, October 24, 2013

The wisdom of Frederick Collin


“There are two types of people -- 
     those who come into a room and say, 'Well, here I am!'
                   and those who come in and say, 'Ah, there you are.'"



Frederick Collin (1850-1939)
New York judge and politician

Guess which of those types is interested in hearing your story.

Look in the mirror and admit which type you are.









Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A little fooling around, and then….uh oh


Honestly, I don't go looking for this kind of thing.

I was on HuffingtonPost.com, so, really, I didn't think I was going to have to turn away from an item on erotic large reptile literature….


No kidding, I never heard of "dinosaur erotica" before, never came up in conversation or anything like that….

And hey, I'm a book lover, but, I mean, there are limits….

Still, I'm really very much a "live and let love" kind of guy, I say po-tay-toe, you say pa-tah-toe, you know, consenting adults, their own bedroom, as long as nobody gets hurt, yadda yadda….

So if reading a book about a horny T-Rex and an eager lady does it for you, then, y'know, go for it, please don't be too noisy, make sure the kids'll never find it on the top shelf and so on….

Still…."dinosaur erotica"....

Something about this whole thing is not quite right.

I had to say that.








Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Gov. Christie gets interestinger….


New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, an unabashed opponent of gay marriage, has decided to stop fighting any of the folks who are in love and want to get married.

Christie stepped right up to the microphone the other day to say he will not challenge a New Jersey Supreme Court ruling that says same-sex marriage is constitutional in the Garden State.

New Jersey is the 14th state to legalize gay marriage. It had recognized only "civil unions"—which Christie endorsed—since 2007.

I'm no fan of Gov. Christie, and I have absolutely no opinion right now about his prospects for being the Republican nominee for president in 2016.

I do think he seems to be getting smarter.








Monday, October 21, 2013

"Money can't buy me love!"





"Can't Buy Me Love" was one of the Beatles' very first hits in 1964. I remember when it was a new release. Cool.

Now, for the Beatles, I'm not too sure that there was anything they couldn't buy, as it turned out….

But here's a Fractured Fact: most Americans couldn't buy too much love or anything else if only cash is accepted:



A recent survey you never heard of says that half of Americans have less than $78 in cash in their wallets or at home.

Maybe they're not counting the coin jar in the bedroom.










Sunday, October 20, 2013

Who's going to jail?


Rumor is that JPMorgan Chase is going to pay a $13 billion fine to settle mortgage-fraud charges, a record penalty!

But it's really the same old story.

Not one of those rascally banker criminals—the ones who caused the 2008 financial meltdown—is going to jail.

JPMorgan is going to pay up because its employees, and employees of some companies JPM acquired, cheated investors a few years back. You know that story: the bankers lied about bad loans included in the mortgage-backed securities they were peddling.

But why aren't the bad guys going to jail?

I'm talking about the highly paid top execs and directors of JPMorgan, who collectively hold less than 1 per cent of JPM stock, so this penalty isn't going to hurt THEM much.

Sure, $13 billion is a lot of money to fork over, right?

Well, last year JPMorgan's profit—that's profit, not revenue—was $94 billion.

JPM's operating profit margin was 38.4%.

That's a really nice profit margin.

Just for reference, your typical funeral home has an operating margin of 9.8%....

Your typical food store has a margin of about 2.3%....

Folks like the ones in top spots at JPMorgan are eating our lunch….metaphorically, they're killing us….and they're making a pile of cash doing it.







Saturday, October 19, 2013

We're cooking the planet (part 11)


Global climate change and global warming are monstrously frightening. It sickens me and saddens me that our grandchildren are going to live through it….

A few days ago the Los Angeles Times decided to take it to a higher level: LAT editors decided they will no longer publish letters or comments from those who "deny" man's dangerous impact on climate change. Editor Paul Thornton wrote:

"…when deciding which letters should run among hundreds on such weighty matters as climate change, I must rely on the experts -- in other words, those scientists with advanced degrees who undertake tedious research and rigorous peer review . . . The debate right now isn't whether this evidence exists (clearly, it does) but what this evidence means for us . . . Saying 'there's no sign humans have caused climate change' is not stating an opinion, it's asserting a factual inaccuracy."

Of course there's still much more to learn about global climate change, we're far from knowing enough about the details and understanding the impacts—and certainly reasonable people can and must debate about what we should do to improve the future for our grandchildren. And of course it's going to be frighteningly expensive.

Let's get on with doing something about it.













Thursday, October 17, 2013

Here's what the budget deal cost you….


About $3,000.

So, Congress finally passed a bipartisan budget/debt limit deal.

What a relief! What a horror!

No time now to curse the hateful inability of Congress to do The People's work.

Let's get back to work.

But here's the deal: the Reid/McConnell deal cost you a lot, not only in terms of anxiety.

The New York Times very roughly estimates that the two-week government shutdown, and the self-serving waffling about honoring America's debts in the world  market, and the failure of Congress to pursue sensible economic policies in recent years, has cost you plenty.

You're paying more for credit card interest, loans and mortgages because financial markets have been roughed up by Congressional stupidity.

Roughly a million more people would be working now if Congress had been doing ITS job.

Roughly $400 billion was lost in national economic growth—if you think of it as every household flushing $3,000 down the toilet, you're on the right track….

Why do we keep re-electing the people who won't do The People's business?







Wednesday, October 16, 2013

To All Bibliophiles: Iceland Or Bust!


"Jolabokaflod!"

Suddenly, I want to live in Iceland. At least for a year or so, long enough to join the crowd and publish my book.

Turns out that 1 of every 10 Icelanders has published a book, it's like the national hobby or something, the BBC says you shouldn't be surprised if your tax driver starts quoting his own poetry while he's driving you to your hotel….

In Iceland, your grocery store bagger may be mystery writer.

Many folks in Iceland publish their latest tomes at Christmastime, in some families they take turns, Mom publishes this year, Dad's up next year, the kids are next....




In fact, so many Icelandic authors put their latest oeuvres on the shelves at Christmastime, there's a word for it in that book-loving little country:   

jolabokaflod

"Christmas book flood."

I love it.









Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"But don't close the national parks in my state"….


Some states that eat in the federal trough, like Wyoming and Arizona, are having a tough time in this hateful government shutdown that has closed national parks.

National parks are operated with federal dollars, but they generate tourist revenue that largely goes into state coffers.

Now, a piece on DailyKos.com underlined the obvious: Wyoming and Arizona are "red states"…their voters went for Romney in the 2012 elections that gave a re-election mandate to President Obama.

And both Wyoming and Arizona are among the 32 states that receive more federal benefits per capita than they pay in federal taxes and fees.

Now, some states are using their own money to re-open national parks until Congress gets its act together.

But—Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead groused about the park shutdown in his state, but his spokesman said: “Wyoming cannot bail out the federal government and we cannot use state money to do the work of the federal government.” Apparently Mead is OK with the federal government (that is, you and me and all of us) bailing out the good folks in Arizona every day, every week, year after year….


Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer wants to restore her state's tourist revenues from the Grand Canyon, but she refused to pony up the $112,000 A DAY that the federal government spends to keep Grand Canyon National Park open. She authorized a partial re-opening, using $93,000 Arizona dollars daily, and her spokesman explained, “The daily cost difference is enormous, especially without assurances that Arizona will be reimbursed."

Would YOU like a little reimbursement for the piece of YOUR federal income tax that helps keep the Grand Canyon open to the public?

I want Gov. Brewer to step up to the mike and announce that she's going to send some of that Grand Canyon tourist revenue to Washington to help pay for water supply management in Arizona, or something like that….







Monday, October 14, 2013

The wisdom of Sam Levenson


"The simplest toy,
      one which even the youngest child can operate,
           is called a grandparent."
American humorist, writer, teacher, TV celeb and journalist  


The Three Laws of Grandparentotics:

1. A grandparent must do what the child wants.

2. A grandparent must play until the child wants to go to sleep.

3. A grandparent may not take the biggest cookie.








Sunday, October 13, 2013

Zoos and politics shouldn't mix….


This kid wants to see the animals. That's why he got all dressed up.

Keeping zoos open isn't the highest and noblest function of our government….

But this is the hateful, stupid, annoying, unbelievable, dispiriting kind of fallout we get when our representatives in Washington play dangerous political games, and leave the rest of us twisting slowly in the wind.

Why do we keep re-electing these people who won't do The People's business?







Saturday, October 12, 2013

It ain't heavy, it's my money….



In case you were wondering, you CAN get away with it if you grab the bank bag with the million bucks in it that falls out of the back of the armored truck right in front of you.

Well, I mean you can actually run away with it….eluding the authorities is your problem….

See, here's a Fun Fact:

A million simoleons in cold cash—$100 bills, mind you—only weighs about 25 pounds, your average fifth grader could easily grab it and run.

In fact, make it easy on yourself, I recommend you keep a trustworthy fifth grader handy if you walk behind armored trucks a lot, you never know….








Friday, October 11, 2013

Advice to little girls, courtesy of Mark Twain


"Good little girls always show marked deference for the aged.
   You ought never to 'sass' old people unless they 'sass' you first."

Mark Twain (1835-1910)


Sometimes it takes old people a long time to grow up. Those among us who are prone to "sassing" little girls should also take heed of Mr. Twain's very considerate guidance.



On the other hand, if you do it in a really nice way, maybe….

And if the sassing is a prelude to ice cream, or pursuant to a pony ride, then OK.







Mark Twain also said:
"Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself."

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The "I's" have it.



Our gerrymandered, corrupted primary election system allows a minority of partisan ideologues to "pack" the House of Representatives with elected reps who are beholden to them.

In this clearly written analysis, George Friedman of Stratfor.com argues that "safely" elected congresspersons are the fundamental cause of the hateful congressional gridlock and doctrinaire obstructionism which has led to the current shutdown of American government.

Take a few minutes to read it through. You won't be glad you did, but you'll be a bit better informed….

Why do we keep re-electing the people who won't do The People's business?


"The Roots of the Government Shutdown" is republished with permission of STRATFOR.