Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Darker Side of the Story

If a towering giant cares so much about humanity in general, why get hung up on his carelessness with humans in particular?
~ Mark Steyn, on Ted Kennedy

After all the pomp, hyperbole and hoopla of the interminable farewell to Sen. Ted Kennedy, Mark Steyn's acerbic, blunt reminder of the events at Chappaquiddick is a welcome dose of reality. As Steyn states, she has been "airbrushed" out of the chronicle of Kennedy's history, although her death altered the course of his life.

Even though now that Kennedy is gone we can never know what actually happened, perhaps Mary Jo Kopechne can finally rest in peace.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Worth Reading

If you haven't visited Victor Davis Hanson's website in a while, it's time you did. The man is a national treasure of reason and wisdom.

His educational articles, posted throughout the past two weeks, are all worthy of time and attention from a thoughtful reader.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Intelligence Myth

"I've now been in 57 states -- I think one left to go."
- Barack Obama, May 9, 2008, campaigning in Oregon

It is undeniable that President Obama is a charismatic individual with an incomparable gift for speechmaking--provided he is working from a prepared text, via his cherished teleprompter.

What he has not been proven to be is the sharpest knife in the drawer, at least to my satisfaction. This almost heretical opinion flies in the face of all the politically correct swooning over how "smart," "brilliant," and "intelligent" the man is. Personally, I've seen little proof of that. Most people are aghast when I counter their ravings about his "intelligence" with skepticism.

Seriously, take some of the gaffes the president has uttered off the cuff (or more to the point, off the teleprompter). A generous collection of them are linked here. Now, put any one of them into former President George W. Bush's mouth. Be honest. What would the media reaction be to Bush referring to a non-existent language, miscalculating the number of states, being flippant about the Special Olympics, complaining about too many questions, or remarking that he saw many of our fallen heroes sitting in a Memorial Day event?

Bush would have been skewered for days, if not weeks, over each and every error, vilified as a subhuman moron. Yet, Obama slides by with a full media pass and moves along to his next ridiculous statement, such as telling us that under his health care reform, we can keep our health insurance if we like it. The president's oratorical mojo is definitely missing on this issue. Take a look at recent polls. On or off script, he is flailing on this issue. He isn't even smart enough to give his incessant media appearances a rest for a day or so, obviously considering the American proletariat too stupid to figure out that he doesn't know what he's talking about.

As the growing grassroots protests show, Americans are not quite so stupid. And a president who persists in behaving as though we are that stupid simply isn't very bright.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Failure to Communicate

What we've got here is failure to communicate.

My computer modem died this past Monday. I've been through technological purgatory ever since.

First, I called my "provider." Oops, what a surprise--my warranty is expired! That will be eight million dollars to replace it (well, so it seemed). I asked exactly when my warranty expired but was told "I don't know" by my very helpful representative. Then how, I inquired, do you know it has expired? Oh, the field is automatically filled in by the computer when the warranty expires, she told me in a bored tone.

Excuse me, maybe I'm a cynic, but I told her I'd like to know my purchase date. Okay, she said, hold the line...and hold some more...long enough for me to eat a sandwich. She finally came back with the purchase date, less than two years ago. I decided I wouldn't be purchasing from that particular "provider" again.

So I stopped at the mall on my way home last night and bought a modem. Or is that a router? Oh well, anyway, the thing-a-ma-jiggy that hooks me into the Internet. This should be easy, right? I mean, I did all my training when I spent an entire Saturday hooking up my first, now-defunct modem. Just match up the wires and reconnect, no problem.

That was three hours and four phone calls ago, not counting transfers. Nobody I spoke with could help me, and that fact didn't seem to upset anyone except me.

To logoff of this story--I'm more tired of it than you are--I finally gave up on "customer care" and braved troubleshooting solo. I tried Wire A in Socket B, and presto! All systems were go. I haven't been so happy to see a row of green lights since last Christmas. So I figured I'd better try a blog post really fast, in case it was a mirage.

I often say that, to me, computers are like cars. I've been using both machines for many years, I know how to navigate the equipment to reach my destination, but I have absolutely no clue about what's going on under the hood. Go wireless, you say? For that, I'll need a chauffeur.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Poll Toll

Rasmussen's polls are comprehensive and interesting. I like to check his website out at least once a week to watch the government's downward spiral.

This week, 52% of voters at least "somewhat disapprove" of the president's performance. Ouch. Most administrations would be smarting under those numbers and probably looking at revising their strategy to appease voters. But President Obama is different. He doesn't want to merely "preside" over the U.S.A.; he wants to rule. He is an ideologue on a mission to "transform" America, and he will not be dissuaded by such trifling matters as voter opinion.

The polls can keep dropping like a stone through water, but I predict that Obama will do what he wants to do and the citizens be damned. Even if his approval numbers plummet into the 20% range--and I suspect they might--he's got lots of time before 2012 to do major damage.

Welcome to bogus "hope" and mandatory "change." I remain 100% opposed to the Obama Solution. According to recent polls, I've got plenty of company.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

People Power

To the health bill, the people objected
Our president's feeling rejected
The medical drama
Annoying Obama
Is not something voters elected.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Summer Reading

There are four weeks of summer left before Labor Day, and hopefully some vacation or beach time beckons you to relax and enjoy the season.

If you're looking for a good book, I suggest you try "The Art of Racing in the Rain," by Garth Stein. Not since Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" have I experienced such difficulty disengaging myself from a novel.

The story is told in the first person by Enzo, a delightfully wise and witty dog somewhat akin to Mr. Peabody in the old "Rocky and His Friends" cartoon. Enzo has a comparably wide expanse of knowledge and articulateness. But it's not so much facts and explanations that Enzo imparts to the reader as insights and experiences he has acquired throughout a long and eventful life.

Enzo's master is his beloved Denny, a blue collar automobile lover who marries a girl from the well-heeled side of the tracks. Their love is true, and so are their sorrows. Any reader who has suffered because of finances, illness, grief, loss, and injustice will find much in Enzo's eloquent narrative to identify with. Similarly, anyone who has ever triumphed over terrible odds will have much reason to rejoice.

Enzo is an old dog, feeble and in pain, and readers know how writers usually treat endings in such canine tales. As a dog lover, the outcomes are usually deflating to me. But this book is different. Without spoilers, I can assure you that the conclusion to "Racing in the Rain" is uplifting rather than sad.

In fact, in my highest compliment to a novel, I could read it again. With a long weekend coming up, I just might.

Good dog, Enzo.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The People vs. Obamacare

Have you signed the Free Our Health Care NOW! petition yet? If not, it's linked here. (You won't get spammed if you remember to uncheck the boxes at the bottom.)

Over one million Americans have signed it, and it hasn't taken very long to reach that number. I signed it towards the end of July, when signatures stood at about 500,000.

Victor Davis Hanson has an interesting analysis posted today in Real Clear Politics about the grassroots rebellion against the proposed government takeover of our health care system. Regardless of what the Obama administration would like us to believe, the majority of protestors are not organized right-wing activists.

Over one million signatures on the health care petition? I doubt we have that many right-wing activists in the country, at least as of today. Although with the way President Obama is trying to shove Americans around, a growing ground swell of conservative activism could be part of that promised "change we can believe in."

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

I'm the one...

...still without a cell phone.

I know, I know. Get with the times before we move on to communicating through our wristwatches. But there is an explanation. Really.

In my most recent two jobs, I've had a company cell phone. That was more than enough wireless exposure for me. Despite the non-stop phone conversations in progress all around me, at any given moment, I feel no compulsion to be talking to someone 24/7. Answering a phone call while on the freeway, at the grocery store, or in the bathroom simply doesn't appeal to me.

My newest job does not provide cell phones, which is fine (and smart, if you ask me). However, 25 miles of freeway is a long and lonely stretch of road should an automotive emergency occur during my commute. Secondarily, my friends are becoming increasingly vocal in their disapproval of my incommunicato status, especially when they're trying to give me a heads up about work or traffic issues delaying our lunch or dinner plans.

So this weekend, reluctantly, I will go cell phone shopping. I'll buy the cheapest phone with the fewest amount of features, as I'm easily confused by technology. Being cell-free has been a pleasure that, like most small joys in life, can not last forever.

Next week, dear friends, I'll finally be wireless. Please give me a few minutes to adjust before you call.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

The Incredible Shrinking Sunday Paper

Not so long ago, it would take me all morning to read through my hometown Sunday morning newspaper. There were sections upon sections, various inserts, pullouts, a television booklet, and the occasional freebie of laundry detergent or breakfast cereal enclosed inside the bursting plastic wrapper.

Nowadays, it takes me less than an hour to finish off the entire paper, including advertisements. Those, it seems, still abound.

But what about the content of the newspaper itself? Sections have either folded together or completely disappeared. There used to be a "Home" section for articles on houses and furnishings, and a separate section called "Homescape," that covered gardening, plants, herbs, and landscaping. Now the two sections are combined into a slender shadow of their former selves, with the meager real estate listings tossed in for good measure.

The book section at one time was a full sized pullout, the size of a small tabloid newspaper in itself. It carried numerous book reviews, the NY Times bestseller lists numbered from 1-15 with descriptions of the books, local best sellers, schedules for book signings, articles for and by authors. I would spend more time back then with the book section than I do now with the entire Sunday paper. Today, the book section has been reduced to the top corner of one page somewhere in a renamed section, consisting of one list of bestsellers, numbered a whopping 1-5, titles only.

Why bother?

The business and opinion sections, once full-sized sections bursting with information, are now folded into a sparse couple of pages within other parts of the newspaper. Watered down is the kindest way to describe their presentation. However, this minor effort is better than that exerted on the TV guide, which mysteriously vanished completely a few months back, without notice or fanfare.

Last Sunday, in full page advertisements and inserts, the news flash appeared that the missing TV guide was about to make a comeback. "Back by popular demand!" the headline trumpeted. Intrigued, I read on. Articles on new television shows, complete listings, interviews, cover stories, movie guides, all coming back!--um, for a small fee.

Yes, subscribers must now pay a second newspaper bill in order to receive the TV guide that had been included with the Sunday edition for all those many years before, and it's a wonderful favor that the paper's big shots are accommodating our "demand." I had to laugh. How stupid do we newspaper readers appear to the publishing powers-that-be?

Maybe they feel that, if we're crazy enough to still be paying for the newspaper, we'll take it to the next level and spring for the TV guide, too. However, I didn't notice any advertisements for the ever-popular TV guide in this morning's newspaper. Perhaps during the past week, the newspaper got more of a reader response than they bargained for--and it probably didn't involve paying extra for the TV guide.