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Of Politics, Sports and Sex

OK, so there won't be a LOT on here about sex, but tell the truth, that's most of the reason you entered this site, right? So, I'll slip some things in from time to time just to keep you coming...back.

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Friday, December 19, 2014

Now, some would say, all I need to do is take my own damn advice!

I had intended to make this a far longer post, but in retrospect, even though it meant a lot to me at the time, and seemed like it would take a lot to explain, in retrospect, it was not very earth-shattering and will probably be fairly simple to summarize.

A month or so ago, with prodding from my friend Mike Rellahan, I requested a meeting with Republican Congressman-elect, Ryan Costello. And somewhat to my surprise, within a few days, I received a response from his aide, accepting my request and suggesting a time and date to meet.

So a few weeks ago, after a great deal of thought, and not a little angst, I went to his office in downtown West Chester and met. I can't say I was entirely surprised, but I was certainly encouraged, that I not only liked him but more importantly, liked his approach, and there were very few things on which we disagreed. On the other hand, I made a point of keeping my 3 topics, the 3rd of which we agreed to keep off-the-record, which I understand means that I can eventually include it when I write my book, but not before, fairly non-partisan.

My first issue was to ask for his support in taking up one of Jim Gerlach's top issues, which is to make the Conservation Easement enhanced tax incentive permanent. (Scares me to think that might make me a lobbyist!). Gerlach is the person he is replacing in Congress and from what I understand, he holds him in high regard. Costello seemed very open to listening and understanding the issue and seemed to say that he was generally in favor of it.

My second issue was to give him some advice. When I told him I had some for advice him I immediately started off apologetic for thinking he would be interested in what I had to say but he quickly made it clear he wanted to hear whatever I had to say. And my advice was this: Give the other side some credit once in while and it will only make people want to listen to his arguments more clearly. Sadly, I can't think of a single politician who does this.

More specifically, I suggested a way that he could make his own point of view seem stronger without the standard vitriolic lambasting of his opponent. If, say, he was speaking about Universal Healthcare, he might say: "I know this is an issue that is very important to President Obama. And we both have the same goal to improve on an already great healthcare system, maybe the best in the world. He has his approach to it, and it has some merit, but I have some other ideas that I think can even improve on his approach." And then, hard as it might be, find a few things Obama has supported in his proposal that he agrees with, surely there is something, and then say, but to make the overall bill really strong, here's what I think should be a component or should be replaced: _________.

Maybe I'm naïve, but I think way more people will listen to his plan after he starts that way than if he starts out by saying that Obama just wants to socialize healthcare and impose his Kenyan Marxist racist hate on this great country and do all he can to tear it down. Sadly, I'm sure that even though I'm exaggerating the point, one doesn't have to look hard to see how many people think that is exactly what Obama wants to do, which of course only proves what a terrible President he is, because all he keeps doing is rescuing this country from the disaster he inherited from the previous administration, instead of destroying it, which is his only clear goal.

As I say, Costello was very open to my thoughts and as far as I could tell, already felt the same way, wanting to use that very approach when possible. He even pulled out a copy of an article he had recently cut out from the Wall Street Journal, titled: Persuasion as the Cure for Incivility.

My favorite excerpt: "Civility is sometimes derided in the modern world, where bluntness and even coarseness have somehow come to be celebrated in many quarters. But civility is not a minor virtue. It is not an attempt to impose someone's notion of courtesy, and it is certainly not an attempt to suppress speech. Civility is what allows speech to be heard. It is an appeal to citizens never to express or incite hatred, which is more dangerous to the country than any external enemy."

As I say, the third issue was confidential, but had to do with some very local politics. And he was somewhat helpful and open-minded with that as well.

So, thanks, Congressman-elect. I'll take it easy on you as long as I can.

Presidential Prognosticatin'

This week's McLatchy-Marist poll has Romney and Bush leading a Republican field of 15 potential candidates when GOP voters were asked who they would support:
Mitt Romney: 19%
Jeb Bush: 14%
Chris Christie: 9%
Mike Huckabee: 9%
Ben Carson: 8%
Rand Paul: 5%
Ted Cruz: 4%
Rick Perry: 4%
Paul Ryan: 3%
Rick Santorum: 3%
Marco Rubio: 3%
Scott Walker: 3%
John Kasich: 2%
Bobby Jindal: 1%
Carly Fiorina: 1%
Unless Rs vote in Iowa the way the Iowan Ds did in 2004, choosing Kerry based on his electability, over Howard Dean, who I'm sure they liked more, I don't see the Rs nominating any of the top candidates above.

I think there are only a handful of serious possibilities of getting nominated above, but foremost is Paul Ryan. I see him as the favorite and I also think he can beat Hilary.

Other serious possible R nominees:

Romney - maybe, but not exciting enough as a candidate, not to mention as a person
Bush and Christie - their unfavorables are too high among R voters
Rand Paul - maybe, but too far outside the mainstream with some of his comments. And unless he can skirt Kentucky law that doesn't allow anyone to run for President and Senate at the same time, I don't even think he'll run for 4 more years.

And the dark horse of those not even listed here: Mike Pence from Indiana. Also, a good VP candidate.

My biggest concern is Hilary's health over the next 23 months. If she has an episode of any sort, I don't see a single D who would come within 15 points of the R nominee unless Elizabeth Warren changes her mind.

Just a tweet, tweet post

I can't resist posting these tweets:

"Of course Republicans respect Putin. He tanked an economy, started an illegal war, and hates gays."

@SkepticPugilist

So, this whole 'lame duck' thing is really slowing Obama down eh ?
@amyewalter

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Do you see what I see?


One of my favorite riddles, if it even is one, is: Can you see farther in the daytime or the night time?
 
Spoiler alert, or, what we used to call the answer to the question, is that even though the obvious answer is daytime, you know it can’t be daytime or the question wouldn’t be worth asking. But then the quandary becomes Why or How can it be nighttime, when it’s dark out and we obviously can’t see as far? And so the riddle is best answered with a question: Can you see stars in the daytime? J
Sitting in (Quaker) Meeting this past Sunday, I decided to do something that I rarely ever do in Meeting, which is to close my eyes. (The reason is because I am almost certain to do what a certain someone had done right next to me this past First Day – fall asleep!)
And when I did close them, I decided to just watch the inside of my eyelids. Well, actually I don’t know if that’s what I really see when I shut my eyes. What I do see seems to fall into at least two categories.
The first, if I concentrate hard enough, is completely unpredictable –a living, swirling, motion-filled abstract painting.  I see all kinds of amazing shapes and colors. Dazzling, really! Yet, subtle too. Coming and going, shifting, sliding, hanging, staying still. Sparkles, jagged lines, swirls. And layers – lots of layers of colors and shades, though mostly just shades of dark and light. And so much depth. Squeezing my eyes together creates more variety, and rolling my eyes around brings even more dynamic changes.
And if I so choose, I can also see specific things! On Sunday, I chose to look at the Mojave Desert in Southeastern California and the drifting sand dunes I once bicycled over and around, blowing across the road. I could see them so clearly!
 
(Here's a shot from afar - not quite how I pictured it from my bike view, but the best I could muster online):
 
 

Then I thought of other things to see – my brother, Gary. My mom and dad and my close friend, Dennis, all of whom were probably looking back at me, maybe even through that same eyelid subsurface. (I think I feel a Stephen King novel coming on…though it seems almost more Edgar Allen Poe-ish.)

And soon, I was seeing all kinds of things that were, at least as we understand time and space, not otherwise visible to me. Which led me to wonder:

Can we see farther with our eyes open...or closed?

 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Hopefully I write one of these in less time than it takes me to write some of the blog posts i've been wanted to post


When I grow up…ok…retire…there are three books I want to write:

1 – On Fame

·        I want to interview famous people to ask them what it means to be famous

o   Is it what they always wanted?

o   Was it worth it?

o   What do they wish they had done differently?

o   What advice would they give to someone they see whose fame is continuing to grow, maybe too fast?

o   Do they miss anonymity?

o   Does the idea of their fame decreasing scare them?

o   How has it impacted the people they knew before they got famous?

·        And I want to interview:

o   the uber-famous, from ex-Presidents to Taylor Swift (!) to Michael Jordan

o   the medium famous – the D-listers

o   the once famous who are no more

o   the 15 minutes of famesters,

…for all of whom there’d be different kinds of questions.

2 – Aphorisms/Truisms

·        What are the basic things we should all know – from:

o    the best known – the key to real estate is locationlocationlocation to

o   that calculation on how to invest as you age – the % in stocks vs bonds vs cash based on your age to

o   cooking basics to

o   sports (oddly, I can’t think of any right now!) to

o   gardening (the corn should be high as an elephants eye by sometimeorother)

·        The simpler the better

·        I think I’d call it How to think like a Middle Aged Man at any age…or…What ya wanna do is!

3 – Your kid knows more than you ever will: What kids know and are trying to tell us when we don’t want to listen

·        I was talking after a memorial service this past weekend with a married couple I have known and been close to for nearly 20 years about a message in the service about that “thin line” between the physical world and the spiritual one and we got around to talking about the gifts children seem to have crossing back and forth over that line, which more likely isn't even a line at all. They told me a very personal story about something their son said to them when he was just 2 or 3 years old. The boy’s mom described how many years ago, she had suffered a miscarriage at a very, very early point in her pregnancy and although there was absolutely no way their young son could have known about it, in a car ride a day or two later, their son started talking matter-of-factly about his sister who had just died.

·        Similarly, how Trev named Emma the day Cheryl found out she was pregnant by pointing at Cheryl’s belly and saying Emma in there!

·        And there are so many similar stories I’ve heard that indicate that our children are trying to tell us about things they see and know that we cannot fathom how they see or know them.

·      And in Meeting yesterday, someone else stood and gave another example of all this…without his knowing what I had been thinking about

Of course, I see these as books, but by the time I seriously consider actually writing/researching them, books may have been completely replaced by websites collecting this info, if in fact they either haven’t already been written or the websites already created.

And the bigger challenge might be that Cheryl’s dream is to travel cross country sampling all kinds of local foods at various little restaurants and writing about them. Hopefully she wants me to come along...if only to eat the foods she has no interest in eating, the sweeter and greasier the better!

And then there’s the whole procrastination thing…

 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Letter II



...and as promised, here is the letter that was in the Daily Local on 12/9/14:
http://www.dailylocal.com/opinion/20141209/obamas-economy-strategy-remains-healthy-and-stable

It is such a reflection of the conservative-leaning mainstream media that so few of these facts are ever publicized. There was a conference of conservatives in Washington DC many years ago where a Frank Luntz-type announced a new strategy to the eager participants - that heretofore, they should never refer to the media without emphasizing that it was a left-wing mainstream media or a liberal press - yeegods! It's been a remarkably effective campaign, even though there is easily shown evidence that if anything, it is the exact opposite.
And the letters and calls published in the Local are so incredibly one-sided, I really want to try to at least present some facts to the readers who so easily gloss over the almost daily drumbeat of positive news buried in the business section, adding in what is virtually never reported, particularly in terms of the corporate profits in comparison to how little they actually pay - a fraction of the tax rate they are "supposed" to pay.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

DLN Letter of 11/20/14

I had a letter to the Daily Local published yesterday, but before I post a link to that one here, I should go back a few weeks to the one that was published around 11/20/14 that the Daily Local never posted to their website. People who don't get the Local have asked me to let them know when they get in so they can read them, and so here it is:


Along with the appointed experts on the election last week, I thought I might add my non-expert observations of last week’s elections. It seems that except in the case of our wonderful new Governor, voters rejected the Democratic party almost across the board. That is, we rejected the party responsible for 65 straight months of economic growth, a record 56 months of consecutive private sector job growth, unemployment falling from 10.1% to 5.8%, (after losing nearly 800,000 jobs a month when Bush left office, the country is now adding a minimum of 200,000 jobs per month) the budget deficit reduced by two-thirds, and almost daily records in the stock market. Corporate profits are at record highs and the U.S. gross national product growth is now among the best in the world.

The dollar is at its strongest levels in years, gasoline prices are falling, there’s no inflation, interest rates are the lowest in 30 years, U.S. oil imports are declining, U.S. oil production is rapidly increasing, and the wealthy, as opposed to most of the rest of us, are still making astonishing amounts of money.

So, in summary, Americans voted for the party that got us into the mess that Obama just dug us out of. And we, the people, rewarded the party who, last time they held the White House, gave us an almost total world economic collapse, the worst terrorist attack in history, the two longest wars in US history, the worst record of job creation since Herbert Hoover, a complete collapse of the stock market and a budget SURPLUS that they turned into a trillion dollar annual deficit.  

And in the absence of any actual reasons that republicans have to explain these incredible accomplishments by President Obama, the best they can do is hope that it is a bubble, so somehow, someway, their economic theories of trickle-down economics that have thus far only had disastrous results, will finally prove to help us. I also hear some people think Ryan Howard is going to turn it around next year. Well actually, their economic theories do benefit one group - the upper 1% who bankroll their favorite republican politicians through dark money, to the surprise of no one, as the Daily Local exposed last week.

And if we had any doubt as to the continuing lurch to the extreme right, it was confirmed by the ouster of a “moderate” (by republican standards anyway) Dom Pileggi from his Senate leadership. Elections have consequences, indeed. I was encouraged at least to see in Michael Rellahan’s excellent interview with Ryan Costello this past week that he pledges to be non-partisan and listen carefully to his constituents to hear all our concerns regardless of party affiliation. I hope this is a promise he can keep despite the pressures he will be under from his far-right party leaders these next two years.

I wake up every morning grateful that Barack Obama is in the White House so that the extreme right doesn’t continue to try to eviscerate our environment, ruin our economy and get us back into multiple wars. And I am also grateful that so many thousands of moderate Chester County voters have switched to the Democratic Party and gave a majority of their votes to Tom Wolf, whom Corbett has left with a $2 billion deficit and our ability to borrow completely maxed out. This after Corbett, according to the state 2011 fiscal year financial statement, entered office with a $1 billion surplus, There is still a long way to go to get more competitive balance in the more local elections, but at a state level, we are clearly headed in the right direction with Tom Wolf, and for that, I am most thankful of all.

Jamie McVickar
West Vincent Township

Friday, December 5, 2014

Troll self-revealed! And his query answered.

Following up on my post below about the RW troll, that also referred to my having been impressed by Mr. Oleck's lack of hesitation in identifying himself in previous posts, as it turns out, they are one and the same. Thank you, sir, and I understand your confusion over how to avoid the anonymous tag. Blogger.com makes it harder than necessary to avoid that.

So, to reply to your question regarding the President's impact on the price of oil, I am at a disadvantage for a few reasons. I do very little online between 5pm Friday and Monday morning, and further, since the Local is so bad at posting letters to the editor, or, thankfully, Sound-Off, for that matter, I don't remember what I wrote exactly, but that said, here is my reply regarding your questions.

From this link, you can see an excellent summary of Obama's involvement, but highlighting here:

Here are some of the other measures recently taken by the administration to boost domestic oil production:

* An increase in the sales of leases for oil and gas drilling on federal lands.  In 2013, the Bureau of Land Management held 30 such sales -- the most in a decade -- offering 5.7 million acres for lease by industry.

* An increase in the speed with which permits are being issued for actual drilling on federal lands.  What’s called “processing time” has, the White House boasts, been cut from 228 days in 2012 to 194 days in 2013.

* The opening up of an additional 59 million acres for oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, the site of a disastrous BP oil spill in April 2010.

In other words, global warming be damned!

Now, as to your other claims, you are putting words in my mouth. I did not denigrate the voters. Rather, I merely gave all the evidence voters used to make the decision to vote so heavily for republicans. If you infer from that that voters are stupid, that is your choice. I did not call them that.

Furthermore, it is lost on no one that I made a substantial list of Obama's incredible accomplishments and you have so little you can pick out of that to find fault or disagreement with, falling only on the hope that quantitative easing (which was slowed considerably and has now ended) will bring on a Bush-like economic collapse.

Also not lost on me is that you have nothing positive to say about the Republican agenda, to the extent you can identify one, or any refutation for Bush's disaster of a Presidency. Instead your constant fascination is to attack Democrats and this President instead of trying to find something/anything nice to say about anything the republicans have done...may I add...with easily understood reasons.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Gotta problem with me?! Let's have coffee and we'll tawk.


Unfortunate that I even need to write this, but there is an anonymous right wing troll on my site who posts occasionally literate comments, so I feel a need to state that my policy, heretofore not posted, is that unless I know the commenter personally, as I usually do, or unless the person identifies themself instead of hiding behind a cowardly nickname, I won’t reply to their comments.

And I want this site vitriol-free, so if your post is respectful, I will generally enjoy engaging in any discussion you’d like to have. And that includes you, Mr. Oleck, whom I have complimented in the past for your courage in identifying yourself without hesitation.

But I don’t want to get into a lot of back and forth because I’ve found that there is rarely any point in trying to convince each other of something that we are so strongly in opposition to.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

I don't even know why they make any other kind of cookies besides chocolate chip cookies.

If you want to know what I think of Oatmeal Raisin cookies, and I'm sure you woke up this morning wondering exactly that, watch this video, and substitute the words "eating oatmeal raisin cookies" for the words "drinking merlot" and you'll get the drift.

As someone wiser and funnier than me once said: "Oatmeal raisin cookies that look like chocolate chip cookies are the main reason I have trust issues."

OK, I'll just cut and paste it here, but the video link at the top is funnier:

Jack: If they want to drink Merlot, we're drinking Merlot.
Miles Raymond: No, if anyone orders Merlot, I'm leaving. I am NOT drinking any fu**ing Merlot!

And now I feel a need to apologize to merlot, which is one of the few wines I actually occasionally like.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Does this make me anti-biotic? Or anti-antibiotic? And would that cancel itself out, or make me Pro-biotic?

I think I know why Cheryl doesn't seem to be getting better from her daily Lyme Disease IVs. Her doctor has her on both antibiotics and probiotics at the same time and they're apparently cancelling each other out.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Or maybe I'm just among the maddening whored


I’m a little uncomfortable with all the facebook posts opposing stores being open on Thanksgiving.   Each time I see one of the posts, I reflexively think “Yeah, absolutely!” But the more I think about it, the more I realize it’s not as simple as that.  I think those sentiments may have more behind them than we realize...and worse, I wonder if some of us aren’t being just a wee bit hypocritical.

I totally support the idea that Thanksgiving is for families. It’s my favorite holiday of the year. And ideally, all places of business would accommodate people who want the day off to be with their family as well as the employees who would like to work if it means they’ll get time-and-a-half or double-time.

I wonder if most of the reason we support department stores being closed on that day is it is more about seeing the crushing, madding (and maddening) hordes rampaging through various department stores at 5am to get the big bargains. I think it gives most of us the creeps and reminds us of all the things we hate most about the holidays – the materialism, the stress, the gimme gimme gimme culture.

But here are all the other thoughts that maybe people aren’t taking into account:

-         Many (most?) of the people I see on the news who make up that crushing horde are people getting seriously discounted deals on really nice gifts for their kids, that I sense would have no other way to afford such nice gifts – computers, video games, electronics of all sorts. No, none of them are crucial for day to day life (though arguably, it’s harder to be a functioning, participating member of society without a computer that works). But if there is only one way to afford the one big gift that my kid or loved one wants, I feel like I’m judging anyone who takes the one opportunity they get to buy that gift.

-         Are we wondering at some deep level if we’re missing out on some great deals?

-         I don’t know this for a fact, but I’ll bet there are some employees who don’t mind working 4 hours Thanksgiving morning and getting paid time-and-a-half or double-time and then get home by noon or early afternoon to enjoy the family meal. When I worked at a paper mill in college and then at a Wawa as my first job out of college, we all fought over who got to work on holidays so we could make extra money.

-         Maybe the most important thing to consider – if we travel that day and are running out of gas, will we stop at a gas station without guilt? If we suddenly realize we forgot the cream for our dessert coffee, will we go without rather than run to the Wawa, 7-11, or Acme?

But, arguing both sides here, when I hear about issues that affect the lowest paid and most taken advantage of employees, the conservative inside me thinks that there is also something to be said for reinforcing the idea that their job stinks and they should do something to improve their life. How many of those employees are actively looking for a better job? How many are taking night classes, or pursuing online degrees instead of watching The Voice or catching up on the latest exploits of the Reality Distraction Squirrel of the day?

On the other hand, would it really hurt those department stores to wait one more freakin’ day to open at 5am?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Love/Hate relationships


My Republican Christian homophobic friends defend their hate by arguing that they have nothing against “those people”, and in fact, they love them. Their favorite phrase is “I love the sinner, but I hate the sin.”

It suddenly struck me today that I feel the same way about my Republican friends. I love them, but hate their policies that, in my mind are responsible for virtually every ill facing this country right now.

That said, given human nature, for all the frustrations inherent with a two-party system and the fights over filibusters and holds and cloture and bills that only pass the House but not the Senate and vetoes of bills that have passed both, I still think we have a great system of government, if only because of the human nature that results in overreach and corruption that comes with absolute power, both of which inevitably occur anytime and every time one party has a huge advantage in government at any level.

So I guess when it comes to our government, I also love the sinners but hate their sins.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Turning a negative comment about a negative comment into a positive.


I’ve received two negative comments about my negative comments on the post from yesterday…and with good reason. So I deleted the negative tag at the end cuz I’m a sensitive guy…and also because, as I say, their criticism observation was entirely justified. I remember when my dad would make some self-deprecating remark as was his wont (what’s YOUR wont?!)  and it always upset me because I never thought his comment was justified. Ever. OK, usually. Maybe because I so admired him…adored him.

In this case, it goes back to the issue of what is blog-worthy. And of course, the answer is, WGAF – Who gives a…fart.  It’s like emails that you don’t need to get, or junk mail. If we don’t want it, we can use the trusty delete button. I won’t trash myself again. Thanks for the good feedback on my bad post, everyone.

Though Cheryl said that post was her favorite that she’d seen in a long time because it was so positive…except for the last part. So I’ll take that as a good thing! Thanks, Darlin’!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Kill me now or kill me later


When I was a teenager, the biggest focus in the USA’s foreign policy arena was the Cold War, and trying to reach “détente” with the Soviet Union, to reduce the numbers of ICBMs (which, as a 13-ish year old made me laugh every time I heard some adult very seriously use the expression…kind of along the lines of when someone says Uranus. And thank goodness I have a 14-year old son (for many reasons) so I can still laugh whenever someone refers to Uranus, so it isn’t weird that a 57 year old does. But I digress.) Now where was I…let’s see…your anus…I see BMs…oh, right, nuclear annihilation.  And around the same time, there were talks of secret meetings between Henry Kissinger and the Vietnamese to end the Vietnam War.
Today there was a news bulletin from the NY Times:
 

China and the United States made common cause on Wednesday against the threat of climate change, staking out an ambitious joint plan to curb carbon emissions as a way to spur nations around the world to make their own cuts in greenhouse gases.
The landmark agreement, jointly announced in Beijing by President Obama and President Xi Jinping, includes new targets for carbon emissions reductions by the United States and a first-ever commitment by China to stop its emissions from growing by 2030.
Administration officials said the agreement, which was worked out secretly between the United States and China over nine months and included a letter from Mr. Obama to Mr. Xi proposing a joint approach, could galvanize efforts to negotiate a new global climate agreement by 2015.

Interesting how the focus of these top-level secret negotiations have changed and yet, remain the same, addressing threats that can end the world as we know it, whether by nuclear bombs or melting ice caps. Is it progress that one way we can kill off all of humanity in a matter of minutes and one will take decades? Maybe, but one can also be cured in a matter of months and one will take decades to turn-around.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Which might also explain why kids have such a tasteless sense of humor


We’ve all noticed how much children dislike foods with strong flavors and generally gravitate to more bland foods like hot dogs, American cheese, white bread and chicken tenders, but as time goes by they are more tolerant of foods with a stronger flavor.
But I’ve also noticed that they seem oblivious to the incredible colors of the leaves during the changing seasons that I am all the more overwhelmed by and am frequently pointing out to our kids.
And I wonder if, as our sense of taste diminishes as we grow older, our sense of appreciation for color and shadow and beauty increases as we get even older, which would also explain why people so often seem to have an enhanced creative streak once they’ve retired.
 

Monday, November 10, 2014

I belong to a private political page on Facebook that consists mostly of liberals, and one of them asked for our opinions of the 3 cable political channels: MSNBC, CNN and FoxNews, and this was my reply:

We watch Morning Joe every morning and usually enjoy it, until recently when they became obsessed with ebola and ISIS/L coverage, but thankfully they're off them now. The rest of their lineup is pretty dreary and repetitive. The panel shows with Chris Hayes and Steve Kornacki are pretty unwatchable - clearly designed by and for MENSA-types, god bless em, but which clearly excludes me. FauxNews is more cartoonish in its presentation, laughable if you don't take it too seriously, which sadly, millions of people do, but for all their warts, they are the only network that understands how to entertain viewers, from their lighting, to their sets, to the appearance of their talent.

The sexy (?) blondes, the morning camera pointing at the same level and directly in front of the woman's short miniskirt in hopes she'll uncross them for a milli-second (cheap thrills being better than none at all), the uber-bright lights, the glossy/shiny lipstick, the clean lines of the sets. I think it's all more of a key to their success than their (lack of) content. MSNBC can't duplicate it now, but if they had pioneered all that, and Fox had MSNBC's "look" I honestly believe the ratings would be much closer in comparison.

But all that said, what is most important is that Fox gives its viewers the same thing that Rush figured out years ago. People want easy, simplistic answers. Black and white stuff. There's disease in Africa, keep them all there and don't let em in here. Next Issue! (with apologies to James McLaughlin...and Phil Hartmann.

https://screen.yahoo.com/phi.../sinatra-group-000000236.html

For better or worse, I've decided I need to get more active on this blog, and for my "subscribed" readers, that's going to be somewhat tiresome since most of the posts will also have appeared on my facebook page, but, since my page has some RW trolls, I fear they are missing some actual balance in their readings, so will put them here too. But I promise not to make these the only entries here. In fact, I have a couple coming up that have to do with sex, so don't totally unsubscribe yet! :-)

Here's the first (repetitive) one:

When Bill Clinton moved to the right after the 1994 midterms that swept Rs into Congressional power, Republicans howled in outrage because he was taking away all their talking points. I never understood that. The article below tries to show, in some cases successfully, that the Rs have finally started to move to the center, at least in word, though not yet in deed.

I would be thrilled if they actually changed their votes to finally pay attention to people at the bottom of the wage scale as we Ds have for decades. For me, it's not about Ds winning, it's about getting the focus of the country on the right kinds of things and if Rs want to join us in that fight, I say, Giddyup!

http://www.businessinsider.com/the-us-is-moving-left-despite-republican-gains-2014-11

Friday, November 7, 2014

"On the other hand, maybe I need more things to carry through a buffet line, not fewer." - Jamie McVickar on annoying stuff in relaton to the size of his belly


Two totally different things annoy me for the exact same reason:

-         In a list of newsworthy quotes, they first give the quote and then the name of the person who said it and the context. Apparently I’m first to read the quote and then guess the person and their reason for saying it? I need that first, not after reading the quote.

-         Utensils at the beginning of a buffet line. I don’t them at the beginning, they just make it harder to fill up my plate, though for any of you who have seen my belly size the past 20+ years, I can’t make a really great argument for this one personally.

“So Annoyed! I want something done, and I want it done now!”

-         Jamie McVickar, on quote attributions and silverware in buffet lines

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Because poor people LOVE being poor


I wish I had been writing down all my thoughts about the disastrous election this week, but one thing that came to me was this:

Middle Class Americans seem to be more upset with people who make less money than they do than they are with people who make more money than they do.

And I’ll bet you can define whether a person is more likely to have voted R or D this week based on their answer to that very question.

Inconceivable when one considers the level of income inequality in this country...and only getting worse.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Strangers in the night...and the people we met in Providence, too - PART Three of Three


My third of 3 stories about the people Cheryl and I met in our last 24 hours in Providence is maybe the least interesting to me, at least in the long-term, though he was certainly the most entertaining. If I were to write a transcript of the entire conversation I had with this very Italian-American gentleman, you probably would think I was either making it up or was furthering stereotypes that have been promoted through the years regarding people of his heritage.

I met him our last morning, as we waited in line, again, this time for about 45 minutes for an amazing breakfast in a restaurant that was about half the size of the room you’re sitting in right now. (Yeah, that’s right – I can see you from where I sit…and you look good!). It only had 4 tables, 2 of which sat two people, the other two sat no more than 4.

As we waited outside the building (semi-needless to say, but I will anyway, there was no room to wait inside), I saw a few chairs sitting out front of the real estate office next to our restaurant. After about 5 minutes of my sitting there, the owner of the real estate company came out to sit with me. Over the next half hour, I again pretty much got his whole life story, how he was the youngest of eight kids and had spent the last 34 years in business with his father. “I must be doin’ something right, right?! I’m the chosen one!”

(And I should pause here to make sure you understand that as you read each of his quotes, to use your mind’s thickest New York City Italian accent. Let’s limber up a little. Say “Fuhgetaboutit!” Nah, you gotta hit it heavier, really let the accent drip “FUHgetABOUTIT!” Or maybe that should be “fuhGETaboutit!” OK, I think you’re there. And make sure to bob your head and swirl your hands, touching the person next to you on the arm constantly as you talk. Right – I can see there is no one sitting next to you, so just pretend. Now go back and read that last quote again. Go ahead, I’ll wait.                                     Good – you got it now.)

So anyway, he and his dad had started in the car business together. I apologize for admitting that when I heard that, I envisioned chop shops and car insurance scams. Now they are apparently fairly successful real estaters, though as he pointed at each of the properties in sight that they had bought, I wondered how long they would have to wait for the neighborhood to come back for them to make any kind of profit unless they’d acquired the land for free.

So here are my three favorite things he told me during his rambling verbal autobiography:

1 – “When we got started in this business, (are your hands moving? Is your accent a-drip?), I had what ya call a confidence problem, can ya imagine? So I asked this buddy of mine, OK, he was my therapist, if I could take the class he was teaching - a psychology class, and he said “David – what you wanna take that for? But he let me, so it was the last day of the class and when I walked in, he picked me out of everyone and said ‘David – your assignment for today is to spend class writing whatever you’re thinking about right now.’ So I says, OK, but I got one request – can I step outside for a minute, and he said ‘Sure” so I walked back out the door, went all the way down the steps to the street and walked back up and when I walked in, he said ‘Yo, David, what was that about?!’ and I says ‘I had to go out and count the steps I had to take to walk from the street up to this classroom – it was 122 steps and they were the most important 122 steps I ever took in my life!’ And I been fine ever since.”

2 – “I got two daughters just got engaged this summer. I know, everyone says the same thing: ‘Is that ever gonna be expensive!’ but that’s not how I’m lookin’ at it. I figure it’s great that I can help ‘em. And they’re marrying two great guys, two bulls! And by that I mean, big guys, big Italian fellas. Now I know – we’re all one, but I been tellin’ ‘em since they were little, and (interrupting himself) they’d always say, ‘Dad – why don’t you just come out and say it – you want us to marry Italian boys!’ and I’d say ‘Yeah, I guess that’s true’. But the way I figure it, I know we’re all one and everything, but I figure it’s all about the food and the heritage and the…well, actually it’s just all about the food! (and he wasn’t laughing – he was totally serious.)

3 – Believe it or not, my favorite thing he said, apropos of nothing – totally, at least through my waspy filter, unrelated to whatever stage he happened to be on in his life story, in the middle of his story he threw in a…wait for it…:
Fuhgetaboutit!

But I can’t, and hope I never will.

 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Strangers in the night...and the people we met in Providence, too - PART TWO


If you are reading this post without having first read the one underneath it, Cheryl and I spent most of a week in Providence, Rhode Island recently, for my annual work conference and this is the second of three parts, about a few of the characters we met there.
After settling in on our restaurant choice that last night, the 3rd of the recommendations our legally/morally/karmically-challenged friend had made, we were sitting at the bar, killing time until our table would be ready in 25…no 40…how about close to 90 minutes. Cheryl was responding on her phone to an Etsy order while I was content to watch the people around the bar and small restaurant, making up stories in my mind about each one as to the relationships of the couples or intentions of the others. Seemed like quite a few middle-aged women hoping to be noticed or remarked on by someone, anyone, if only by the girlfriend they were sharing their drinks or meal with.

One woman, I noticed, was sitting by herself at the bar, immediately to Cheryl’s left, but at an angle, where the bar turned back toward the kitchen.  She was, again, in our general age range, and was attractive and had an air both of unhidden confidence as well as unease, as would I, were I sitting alone at a bar, or a restaurant, or hell, just about anywhere in public.
As the bar waitress brought her her dinner, the waitress introduced herself, apologizing for having forgotten the woman’s name, obviously wanting to keep her happy as a semi-regular patron.

When Cheryl finished her business, she casually yet with unfeigned importance, asked the woman what she had ordered because it looked so darn good!  As with our troubled friend who had steered us here, over the next 20-30 minutes we had a conversation of great focus and conclusion with this woman, again, never catching her name, though as Marion Paroo might say, I don’t believe she ever dropped it.
Over the course of the conversation, we learned that she owned a business that she had built from scratch and was now earning (presumably grossing) millions of dollars a year, though she seemed apologetic that they hadn’t hit ten million yet, but seemed equally energized about getting there. And incredibly to me, she only has 5 employees…not including the factory in Vietnam where the private label clothes she markets are made.

As we talked about her business, interrupted, as I recall, only by her interest in knowing more about Quakers, we discussed the qualities most important to her success, and I referred back to a conversation I had had hours earlier with the Chair of our Board in discussing the quality he feels we should look for above all others in the search for a successor to the current, soon to retire, President of our company. And that is the ability, as I came to phrase it, to just be really good at being a Human Being.
When I told her of that conversation and that conclusion, she paused, looked away for a moment, considered it, looked back at me and said with an air of revelation and finality, “Yeah, that’s exactly it. To grow our business, we all have to be really good at being…Human Beings.”

And soon our table was ready, we thanked each other for a nice conversation, wished each other well and went on with our lives…endeavoring to be Really Good Human Beings.
(And in retrospect, in Jamie world, Providence Friend A will run into Providence Friend B and solve all each others’ unapparent issues of loneliness and purpose. )

 

 

 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Strangers in the night...and the people we met in Providence, too - PART ONE


Cheryl and I spent most of the week before last in Providence, Rhode Island, for my annual work conference, which is alternately boring, informative and loads of fun. Yes, and occasionally even easy to dance to.

Cheryl has been coming the last two years – New Orleans last year – and we have such a great time. This year, it seemed like we were making friends whenever/wherever we went out. This is the first of three stories about people we met.

The last night we were there, as we were walking to the Federal Hill district, which is full of great restaurants, we stopped at an intersection for a red light as an especially loud motorcycle whizzed by.
The next 10 minutes were like a scene from a movie, with a particularly intriguing character inserting himself momentarily into our lives and then disappearing into the night for good but not yet from my psyche, days later.

I’d love to write it like a novel, but don’t really have time or talent to do it justice. He was 50-something, he gave us his age, actually, but I forget. He was quite overweight, but seemed in fairly good health otherwise. Kind of like me, come to think of it. He seemed to just appear out of the dark and started talking to us by complaining about the noise of the motorcycles that keep him up on the weekends from his apartment in The Regency, he told us, pointing back over his shoulder.

We sympathized and from there, within a matter of a few minutes, we found out more about his life to date than I dare say we know about some of our close friends. He hates living in Providence but accepts it because he totally ruined his very successful life in Manhattan and now has no reason to live and nothing to look forward to, except getting totally blacked-out drunk every night. And this was the reason he entered into our life by chance – he was on his way out this night, to find his hard liquor of choice for the evening to help him forget where he was and more importantly, why.

He was a very well-spoken, funny, insightful person. I was half-tempted to ask him to join us for dinner...and I half-expected him to ask. Instead, he gave us the run down on each of the many restaurants on the street: “That one looks really great from the outside, but they have really crappy food.” “If you like Italian, try either Andino’s or Castelletos…but definitely don’t go to that place (pointing across the street).”

As we approached the liquor store, he slowed down and told us to have a nice evening. We told him to do the same and he said “Oh, that’s impossible. I’m really no good to anyone.” To which I told him, “Well, you have been to us, so that’s a start!”

I’m not sure he heard me, or even wanted to. So we walked on to find the first of his recommendations, each of them coming up within the next 2-3 blocks, and suddenly he was back by our side, inexplicably no longer interested in the store he’d just walked into. This pattern repeated itself a number of times, his saying goodbye, wishing us luck, disappearing into a bar/restaurant/pizzeria, and then suddenly reappearing alongside us, continuing his story, telling us how he’d gone to Tulane, sold time-shares there to make hundreds of dollars a week while a student, and how to know when he was going to find a sucker, based primarily on how they were dressed, one time tripping his best friend while they were in a dead sprint to be the first one to get to a couple of rubes from Alabama dressed in leisure jogging suits, which was a sure sign of success from his standpoint.

But through it all, there was an active lack of self-worth. He embraced it, accepted it, and would not consider any alternative. His life was permanently ruined and there was no chance of life parole. And somewhere among the restaurant reviews and the references to his huge financial successes in NYC, and colorful tales of his past exploits, he lowered his voice slightly and said, almost as if he were saying it to himself, to remind himself yet one more time of the reason for the hard path his life had taken, “I guess the lesson is that your lies catch up with you.”

He shook his head a few times as if it were a combination of trying to shake the memory or pain out of his head while also still in disbelief that he had been on top of the world not too long previous and now only had a bottle to look forward to each night.

Finally, he found the place he really wanted or at least thought he did, and he was off to complete his life and we were off to ours.

 




 

 


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Oh, the pain! (Or...An Ode to Pain)


Another thought on my hurried post of 8/22/14 below about Validation and the need not just to control our destinies but the importance of overcoming adversity.

My point, or more directly, my emphasis there is not meant to ignore adversity completely. In fact, I think it’s crucial that we embrace Pain. Honor it. Work through it. Wrestle with it. Wring its neck, but not until you’ve squeezed every drop of agony and emotion and, well, pain, that you can before saying OK, done – get outta here. I am not going to let you or the event that caused me this pain, define me. I am better than you and I am stronger than you. I am going to honor what I’ve lost by making myself a better, stronger person because of you’ve put my through.

Hmmm…I didn’t really intend this to be a personal letter to Pain, and I hope it doesn’t mind me taking our personal correspondence public.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Even less time tonight than yesterday, so I real quickie here. It se...

I actually started this post almost 8 months ago, and it turns out I wasn't kidding. I didn't even have time to get through the 2nd sentence!

But incredibly, I still remember what I was going to say.

It se...ems to me that ever since he took the job, where we progressives have been wanting Obama to move Fast-Forward, and conservatives have been wanting him to move in Reverse, his approach from day one has been to simply move at the speed of Play.


And in the end, or at least 5+ years into his 8 year Presidency, the economy has continued to improve from where we had been losing nearly 800,000 jobs a month and are now disappointed, like this morning, when we gain less than 200,000/month; we have national health care; gays have the right to marry in a growing number of states (and, I predict by the end of his second term, the Supreme Court will be forced against their preference to admit that discriminating against gays is in fact illegal and will give them equal marriage rights); and marijuana is becoming more and more legalized, for better or worse.

I can get used to Play...and I sure hope he doesn't Stop.

He's obviously aware that City Hall usually has pee on the outside and is full of BS on the inside


A beautiful new park was dedicated at City Hall in Philly yesterday:

http://www.inquirer.com/local/20140905_Dilworth_Park_officially_opens.html

and according to the story, "hundreds of Philadelphians endured more than an hour of speeches under a blazing sun and still wanted to stay".

My guess is that none of the speeches included what one person was quoted in the story as saying that was probably truer than any words spoken by any of the politicians:

"It is really nice. It brings out City Hall. It brightens it up," James said. "Now we just have to make sure nobody messes it up, you know, with urine."

I love that town.
 

Probably no brains involved in saying it in any case


I know it's a tough job to speak live on television without time to think about what you're saying, so I have a feeling the person who said this on Morning Joe this morning would probably have liked to have this observation edited out:

"After seeing those beheadings by ISIS, it's no-brainer that we have to take them seriously." Ouch.

That said, there probably weren't two other people who heard the double meaning there the way I did.

Friday, August 22, 2014

'Sall about Valiconnectolutions, man!


Cheryl and I saw the movie Boyhood a few weeks back.  A really great movie.  Made me change my whole philosophy of life.  


Hmmm…I just went back to my past 2 or so years’ worth of posts and it turns out I may have never posted my original Philosophy of Life (POL).
OK, maybe not my original original POL, which was probably more centered on the need for a bottle and my dipe to be changed…

OK (3rd digression)…it can be argued that I still have a need for the occasional bottle, though the contents have presumably changed.
But back to the first digression and my most recent POL which is…was…that life is all about Validation. We all need it…we all crave it. We never seem to get enough of it and similarly, and maybe more importantly, we never give enough of it.

(My sister Judy believes that it’s all about Evolution, which I don’t entirely disagree with either, if one thinks it through.)
But after watching Boyhood, which may have simply struck me at just the right time, I will add to Validation, that it’s also all about Connections. We all need to connect with people more often that we do…or at least more often than I do, no matter how much we all piss each other off from time to time. We are always better, we always grow, the more often we connect with each other, both in terms of new connections and reconnecting with or just strengthening old connections.

(I have to admit this doesn't seem as life-changing an observation as it did when I first made it, which may have had something to do with the 2 cosmopolitans I'd sucked down across the street from the theatre before going in.)

The other impact the movie had on me is the re-affirmation of my belief that we are in charge of, and arguably in control of, our own densities…excuse me, destinies. And no matter how lousy our life has been, no matter how terrible our boss is (mine is definitely not) or our parents are or were (mine definitely were not) or what life’s circumstances have thrown our way, we can and absolutely have to overcome it. (Excuse me if I start sounding like a Republican here).
That doesn’t mean it’s easy. It not true of every human. 3-months old can’t. People in drought-stricken, war-savaged, oppressed countries have limited opportunities to improve their lives, at least not in the same way those of us lucky enough to have been born into a first world country can, but they can still focus on the important things…altogether now…validating each other and making and strengthening more connections.