Your Daily Mindjob
This is my personal blog where I'll offer up some political straight talk as well as thoughts on technology and pop culture. That should give me plenty to talk about. The world can give you one heck of a mindjob. Think like me and get your daily dose.

Monday, November 23, 2009

What These Poll Results Really Represent

Three polls being tossed around in the news have been twisted to fit more partisan views without anyone even considering the views that are realistically represented by those polls.

The first two are Obama's approval rating and the "Obamacare" approval rating. At face value, these numbers show Obama might be struggling a little bit. Republicans are rolling in it painting the American public as being against Obama's policies.

That's not quite right. Let's take a look at why people might disapprove of Obama's policies, specifically with regard to the health care debate.

It should be painfully obvious that anyone on the Right opposes Obama's policies and the Health Care reform going through Congress because it's Obama. They think it's all socialism. Yes? Good. We have that chunk of people accounted for.

But surely pollsters asked more than just right wingers? Of course they did!

Let's move our way left across the spectrum.

Why would people in the middle be iffy on Obama? They're just uneasy, caught up between the fear mongering and the economic crisis. Some believe the "socialism" hype. Others are simply fiscally concerned about debt.

Why would people on the left be iffy on Obama?

Progressives want Obama to be more to the left than he really is. Despite what the Right is trying to say, Obama is not some far left politician. If he were, his numbers would be better from those on the far left. Let's face it. Progressives wanted Single Payer, not the Public Option. They aren't happy with that idea. They also aren't happy that Obama isn't fighting more to get the legislation through Congress by strong arming Dems who are being problematic.

That settles the first two polls. What about the second?

Congress does not have a good approval rating either. The House and Senate have not had a good reputation for a long time though. Americans are increasingly frustrated with our elected officials. They can't get anything done because they cannot agree on anything.

In the current situation, it would appear that the group who can't agree on anything is on the Republican side of the fence. In addition, "conservative" Democrats are becoming obstructionists as well. Nothing gets done when so many members of Congress vote "No."

But the numbers are being twisted to make it look as though Democrats will have a major loss in 2010 elections. That implies Republicans will be filling those slots, doesn't it? Republican leaders want to play this out to work in their favor. Somehow because the Democrats have the slim majority, Republicans want all the blame to fall on that watch and not their if they had nothing to do with legislation failing.

Electing more Republicans will just result in less compromise and fewer opportunities for Obama's administration to get anything done. Of course, in the minds of Republicans, that's a good thing. After all, doing something would equate to big government. God forbid they actually do their jobs. We're going to end up with the same problem we had under Clinton. We won't be able to get anything done because the system of checks and balances will simply end up at the whim of stingy old white men from southern states. Don't re-elect Blue Dog Democrats either because they aren't really Democrats to begin with.

The approval rating for Congress is a reflection of this inability to overcome partisan bickering. The Democrats are showing they want to work. The Republicans are showing they can only vote "No." Doing nothing is not an option. Vote with this in mind or expect to get elected officials who are a mirror image of our own stagnant hatred for one another. Want them to get something done? Send people who want to work to get something passed.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thoughts On Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Trial

The infamous terror plot which lead to the horrific events of 9/11 will finally face justice after years of sitting in limbo. The debate as to whether or not Khalid Sheikh Mohammed should be tried in a federal court or a military tribunal is an interesting one. I can see reasons for supporting either method. It's a strange feeling I'm having, but for once, I'm actually agreeing with what some Republicans have to say. Certainly not everything they're saying appeals to me. I still think they're a bunch of cutthroat assholes.

In my opinion, the standard has been to try these kinds of cases in a military tribunal and not as a federal case. I am siding with those who prefer we try this terrorist via military tribunal. I'm not 100 percent on this idea. I do have questions. What makes this especially interesting is Khalid's status in this country. It's my understanding that he had visa status and went to school in North Carolina. In light of trials over home grown terrorism, as in the case of Timothy McVeigh for example, it's no stretch of the imagination to suggest that perhaps someone with visa status should be tried in federal court. To suggest otherwise reveals your arrogant inflexibility, a behavior I find unacceptable.

Many have said that to try this man in federal court serves as an example to the world of just how solid and fair our judicial system is. We are, after all, a nation of laws. By trying this man with standards equal to our own, we are saying to the world that we treat people as innocent until proven guilty. As Americans, we need to stand by that belief or lose everything that makes us who we are. We can't be the symbol of democracy for other nations when we treat people from those nations in a less than democratic fashion.

However, would it really matter?

We could try him in federal court. We could try him in a military tribunal. In either case, it appears he will be convicted. To the radical Muslim world, no matter which way we go, we will still be viewed as the infidel out to rid the world of Muslims. We're damned if we do and damned if we don't. No matter how fair of a trial this guy gets, in the minds of Islamic extremists, Americans are incapable of being fair. Putting this man to death will irritate an already volatile group of folks. Imprisoning him will produce a similar reaction. It doesn't matter what we do. So we have to ask what we want. We have to ask what the world wants. After all, the attack on the World Trade Center killed people from countries other than our own. Shouldn't they have a voice in this?

In many respects, Republicans are no different than the extremists. Had Obama sent this guy to a military tribunal, it still wouldn't have been enough for Republicans. They'd still find something to bitch about. Why should we appease a bunch of assholes? We shouldn't.

International law is a funny thing. Perhaps we could hand the case over to the United Nations. Of course, in doing so, Democrats would face anger and severe criticism from Republicans because, if I'm not mistaken, those silly Republicans don't give two shits about the UN. Another interesting point to make in international terms is that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is not a solider. He is not an enemy combatant fighting under the command of any one nation. He is a terrorist and in legal terms, that's something different. They have no place in a military tribunal. To blatantly disregard this definition is to appeal to an irrational paranoia and the growing trend of intentional misinformation.

One could also argue that by bringing these individuals to New York, the city will have its chance to seek revenge for what was done. It could be our way of symbolically allowing New York some additional closure. I suspect Texans would feel the same way. Nothing screams Texas justice like getting your hands around the throat of the bastard that attacked your home city. If Texans like it, chances are, it's the Republican way too. Revenge is always their prerogative.

Whatever we end up doing, we ought to push for a little solidarity. Instead, I fear we will continue down this divisive path. Republicans would rather divide us than say anything worth listening to. While I may agree with their opinion that we should try this case in a military tribunal, these jerks have been taking it one step further by trying to evoke fear from the American public.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Yet another iPod fix

Forgive me for using ancient technology, but over the last couple of weeks, my 40GB 4G iPod Classic has been acting up. It started with being unable to turn it off by holding down the pause button. After holding down the pause button, it would turn off, and then back on again. I bit my tongue and coped with the occasional difficulty until this week.

The symptoms became more pronounced this week. Not only would it not turn off, but the menu button didn't work right. It behaved more like the center button. Here I was in the midst of an episode of Leo Laporte's The Tech Guy podcast and I couldn't go back to the previous menus.

I discovered that I could turn the iPod off if I pressed down on the middle button and at the same time, held down on the pause button. Granted, in a split second, the iPod would turn off and back on again just as before. I knew the hold switch would prevent the iPod from responding to any input from the controls, so I cleverly repeated this step and kept another finger hovering on the hold switch to catch it as the unit turned off. That worked. Okay, time to crack 'er open.

So I went about troubleshooting the problem slowly. I already have some experience with opening up a 1st generation iPod, so I wasn't scared to pop this sucker open. Of course, opening an iPod is no simple task.

I approached from the bottom edge along the silver metal backing with a very small flathead screwdriver. Eventually, I was able to pry apart the seam and advance along to one of the corners, prying up the guts of the iPod as I went along. After about 30 minutes of trying to get that part started, I had the iPod wide open.

Everything looked okay inside. I worked my way all the way down to beneath the battery which was glued on a bit too good. I scratched my head again.

I went ahead and flipped the hold switch off and tried using the iPod without the case sealed shut. The controls worked fine. That meant something was pressing up against the back side of the controls keeping them from working properly. There was only one thing I could think of removing.

On just about every iPod hard drive, they've affixed a foam backing to cushion the drive and separate it from other parts. Yes, it's glued on. No, it's not fun trying to remove the stuff, but that's what did it. Pull that foam off and your iPod will be back to its jolly old self again.

Sorry I can't provide photos. It's a straightforward fix. Nothing is really wrong with the iPod itself, but after reading several threads and quick fix web sites, I was convinced nobody had approached this problem yet. Hopefully this post helps some poor soul who thinks their iPod needs to be repaired or replaced.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sorry. Louisiana is...

Sorry, Louisiana. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but this state is in fact backwards, close minded, and bigoted. As someone who is not originally from this state, I have first hand experience dealing with life as an unwelcome outsider.

What am I posting about? Perhaps you've heard it on the national news, something Louisiana has been good at over the last few years. A justice of the peace, Keith Bardwell, from Tangipahoa Parish would not issue a marriage license to an interracial couple.

In an interview, he unknowingly revealed his bigotry in a very open manner. His own definition of racism was that racists hate black people and treat black people differently than everyone else. He claimed that in this case, he didn't do that. He also stated that his reason had to do with the offspring.

Okay. Uh. Yeah, you did treat them differently. You may marry black couples in your own house, but a couple is a couple. Race shouldn't be an issue. Offspring shouldn't be an issue.

So yes, Louisiana, I'm sorry, but this state is backwards, close minded, and bigoted.

My own experience has been similar. I moved here a few years ago. I'm a white male. One would think integrating into every day life in Louisiana would be a breeze. Well, it wasn't.

Since moving here, I've never felt so unwelcome or so out of place. If you're not "one of them," you're treated like an outsider. Even though I was actually born in a large city in a state traditionally seen as a southern state, I'm viewed as a northerner here. My political views are not represented by my elected officials. In fact, many of my political views have been what has isolated me even further. I'm not a redneck. I don't do crawfish boils or spicy food, aside from gumbo. I don't listen to country music. I'm not an avid church goer. People like me are treated as though we have the plague.

But Dailymindjob, didn't Louisiana elect an Indian-American governor?

Yes, and that can easily be explained.

Had Bobby Jindal kept his real first name, Piyush, he probably wouldn't have garnered much support from the southern right wing organizations. Had Bobby Jindal not converted to a Christian faith, he would have been an outcast like me. Bobby Jindal actually has huge support from southern right wing faith based organizations like the Louisiana Family Forum, a group with a purely religious-right agenda. What got Bobby Jindal elected was the fact that next to his name on the ballot, there was a capital R, not a D. Down here, an Indian republican is a damn sight better than any democrat. It's also why we have blue dog democrats down here and not liberal democrats.

Bobby Jindal's sentiment that the JP in question should get the boot must sit uneasy with the right wing racists down here.

I've had colleagues ask me about the area because they are interested in practicing here. I turn them away. I describe Louisiana in the same way I just did for you. It's going to take decades for Louisiana's reputation to become, well, reputable.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Crazy Talk From The Right: Indoctrination

Over the last eight years, subjects like prayer in school and intelligent design have been pushed into the education curriculum by right wing zealots, but when Barack Obama wants to give a 20 minute speech to our nation's youth, the same folks throw a temper tantrum.

This must mean one kind of indoctrination must be better than another. But that's only if you indulge the paranoia that Obama's speech is some form of indoctrination. It only rings true if the speech itself was somehow political. Even in its original form prior to the edits, the speech was not political. Asking to help is not partisan unless you twist it into something with your own corrupt paranoia.

But let's be serious about this for a moment. It has nothing to do with the content of the speech. The speech is a straw man. Has nothing to do with the root of the problem.

Even prior to day one of this administration, the right wing nuts out there had their minds made up. Doesn't matter what Obama does. Whatever it is, they don't trust it. Whatever he says, they don't like it. Doesn't matter if it's good for our country. It came from a liberal, so it must be bad, even if it's good.

Indoctrination...not a new talking point.

Of all the paranoid comments I read and hear from the nuts on the right, indoctrination is up in the top five. The entire education system to these nuts is just one giant liberal brainwashing machine. It's really one gigantic paranoid delusion. Liberal media. Liberal schools. Liberals, liberals, liberals. So what if a few professors have more liberal curriculums? I can name some local profs in political science and economics who run their own conservative slanted web sites. Guilty as charged? The beauty of a solid education is how it provides the critical thinking skills which allow us to make up our own minds in the face of conflicting information.

Can't go to college. Those damn college professors are gonna fill your mind full of liberal nonsense.

Where will you end up without a college education? A high school diploma is not enough anymore. In order to compete in the job market, you've got to acquire an advanced degree.

The alternative:
This is how we become the United States of Stupid. Want an entire country convinced that they don't need schooling? Want an entire country that doesn't believe in science? Want to fall behind every other country with regards to technology? That'd do it.

If this speech is part of the liberal indoctrination, flourishing stupidity is the GOP equivalent.

Reminds me of Kathy Bates in The Waterboy. Everything is the work of the Devil. No book learnin' for her boy. Well folks, that character was nuts.

What are you going to do without a college education? Do you want to get a good high paying job? Well then, get yourself an education or expect to have a job with your name on your shirt.

Don't believe me? Then why, as a parent, would you deny your child an entire day of learning just because of a 20 minute speech? Keeping your kid home from school is simply not a good decision as a parent. It sends the wrong message. In fact, it sends the exact opposite message the President will convey in his speech. Poor kids.

Want another example of GOP indoctrination? Read my post on how the local airport plays the National Anthem multiple times a day. Blind patriotism anyone? Want a real Hitler Youth comparison? That's the ticket. Anyone remember how the Jews were portrayed? Disreputable. Evil. Jews were supposed to be ruining the Aryan way of life via the press and intellectual influence, among numerous other things. Liberals have become the new Jew. For years, liberals were called fascists. When confronted with the accusation, we countered with historical facts comparing fascist policies to Bush policy, not Clinton policy. Now that Bush is gone, it seems all the right wingers can come up with is to spin the fascism card back in the other direction one more time. Do they plan on exterminating liberals? From the rhetoric we've already heard, that's not much of a stretch for some leading right wing voices.

Chew on that for a while. Then decide who should be more paranoid.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

David Gergen Gets It Oh So Very Wrong

Anderson Cooper is hosting a special on CNN with a panel of familiar CNN faces. At one point, Dr. Sanjay Gupta began discussing tort reform and defensive medicine. Then David Gergen followed up with his own example of what an ENT he talked to calls defensive medicine.

Here's the problem. The example is an absurd one. Unfortunately, Dr. Gupta didn't speak up to point out how asinine the example was. Like an episode of House, the example had that far fetched medical practice sound to it. I'm sure physicians everywhere groaned in disbelief, just as they do when watching House.

I don't know what ENT David Gergen spoke to about defensive medicine, but physicians I work with don't order tests just because the patient asks for them to be done. I certainly don't bend over backwards to appease a patient asking for a test just for the sole purpose of getting the test done.

Let's use the example Gergen gave us.

Patient X comes in and asks for an MRI. Doctor gives the patient the MRI, afraid that the patient will sue him or her for not providing the investigation the patient asked for.

That's not evidence based medicine. If your doctor gives in to that sort of thing, he or she is not a good doctor and cannot seem to muster up the sense to explain to the patient why they do not need the MRI. The patient did not go to medical school. The patient, no matter how informed, cannot just snap their fingers and order any test they'd like.

Here's how the situation should have been handled. Communication! The ENT should have asked the patient why they wanted the MRI. Then, after listening to the patient's own reasoning, the physician should have explained what an MRI would tell them and whether or not the reason is really justified.

An MRI is a peculiar example to use because the patient is not exposed to radiation. Let's twist the story a bit and show you how doctors really behave when it comes to patients who demand tests that could do a little more harm.

Instead of an MRI, let's say the patient is asking for a CT or a chest x-ray. If there is no justification for the test, the doctor is going to expose the patient to an unnecessary dose of radiation. That's malpractice. That's bad medicine. That is something they could be sued for, not denying the patient the CT.

Let's go a little further because the next example is a more common form of defensive medicine. A mother brings her child in to the pediatrician. The child has a cold and the mother says she wants antibiotics. The physician has determined the infection is viral. Antibiotics would not treat the viral infection.

Here are the choices the physician has at this point.

1. Deny the patient antibiotics because it's not evidence based medicine. Tell the mother to treat symptoms, have the child rest, and drink plenty of fluids. No lawsuit.

2. Give the child antibiotics to make the mother happy because they know unhappy mothers tend to complain and want the magic pill to make the infection go away. To avoid confrontation, the physician practices some defensive medicine. It's a bad practice and paves the way for superbugs resistant to antibiotics. Lawsuit.

There are other options if the physician feels the mother is confrontational. Those other options are not relevant to this discussion, although again, an open line of communication would have been the best course of action.

In clinics across America, physicians have regular conversations about the overuse of antibiotics and the rise of bacterial resistance to those antibiotics. Superbugs are the last troublesome obstacle we want to face. Just because a patient demands antibiotics is no reason for a physician to throw those concerns out the window.

Let's give an example of defensive medicine that is also evidence based. For the sake of clarity and understanding, let me skip some of the jargon and clinical details and just go for the basics.

Let's say a patient presents with a set of symptoms. The physician recognizes these symptoms and orders the tests to confirm the diagnosis he or she already suspects. However, these symptoms could also be a sign of a malignancy, something that if missed, could result in a much worse situation for the patient. If missed and the malignancy were to progress to the point where outcomes vary tremendously (surgery, removal, and recovery vs metastatic disease and palliative care for example), you've got a lawsuit on your hands. The physician orders the initial tests for the most likely diagnosis and will probably order the other investigation soon to make sure cancer is not the underlying cause.

In that case, the physician is covering his or her ass, but at the same time, understands that cancer is in the list of differential diagnoses. At some point prior to ordering these tests, the physician would have sat down with the patient and discussed his or her concerns and possible diagnoses which warranted the investigations.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Three Amigos...Summit

Barack Obama went down to Mexico to meet with Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a trio being referred to lately as the Three Amigos. The swine flu is apparently dominating the summit. I thought I'd throw a bit of humor at the situation with movie references. Have you seen The Three Amigos? One for each other and all for one!

Wherever there is injustice, you will find them. Wherever there is suffering, they will be there. Wherever there is swine flu, you will find the Three Amigos.

They discovered H1N1 originated in a scum sucking pig.

While consulting the Singing Bush on swine flu, someone accidentally shot the Invisible Swordsman.

The swine flu is our El Guapo.

If you cough after crossing your arms over your chest, putting your hands on your hips, and turning your head while thrusting your hip, you might have swine flu.

The bullets are still real.

Their rendition of "My Little Buttercup" was a huge hit with the locals.

Now they are being pitched for roles in a Cochise picture.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

KSLA reveals its ignorance

KSLA News 12 out of Shreveport revealed its ignorance on the health care debate this Friday by posting a poll question on its web site which did not represent the reality that is health care reform at this point in time in Washington DC.

Let me explain by showing you the poll.

Here is the poll question and the possible list of answer choices.
Should the president's health care overhaul plan be passed?
1. Yes, as it is
2. No
3. Yes, but it shouldn't be rushed
4. Not as it stands now

Alternatively, here is the screen shot I took.

The thing is, there is no presidential bill yet to overhaul health care. The House and Senate are each working on various aspects of health care reform with their own bills. There is no single plan on the table.

Will someone explain answer choices 1 and 4 to me then? Which bill are we leaving as is? Since no single bill currently exists, "Not as it stands now" is certainly not possible.

Did somebody forget how the legislative and executive branches of government work?

Have the folks at KSLA discovered time travel and jumped ahead into the future?

It seems quite a few people are uninformed. Talk about a sad day for journalism. Thing is, it slipped right by the person typing it on the teleprompter as well as the anchor who read it out loud.

KSLA sucks. KTAL sucks. KTBS sucks. We don't have one decent news station in this area. It's times like these when I'm glad I can at least listen to NPR during the day instead of these chuckleheads. It's bad enough we have a ton of misinformation out there. Now even our news outlets need fixing. Yes, KSLA has been notified by phone regarding this poll and its inaccuracies.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Shipping Business Sucks From Start To Finish

If you are a consumer like me, you buy lots of things online, especially if you live in a rural area or a small city. Local businesses just don't have the selection I want most of the time. It forces people like me to hop online and make purchases.

But that's where the real fun begins. Shipping. It's a bitch these days.

The shipping process has many levels starting with the order and ending with delivery. Everything in between is a painful experience no matter where you shop, it seems. It starts with the order, moves on to order processing, the item ships out the door, then travels via the shipping service, and finally ends with the delivery.

Let's start at the top. Once you place your order, you are given shipping options ranging from ground service to expedited air. The cost alone has gone up from around $5 to $6 to closer to $10. Fuel costs have probably affected these prices, so I can't complain about that too much. The thing is, I never get my money's worth. A 3-day is not really a 3-day. Overnight shipping is more like 3-day delivery. I'm glad some places still offer free shipping, but at a lot of sites, you still have to pay an arm and a leg to qualify for that free shipping. If you want overnight shipping, expect to pay $40 or more. The catch with overnight and 3-day shipping is a sly one on the part of retailers. The clock doesn't start until the package is out the door. They can take their sweet time "processing" an item.

So once you've made your selection, your order has been placed and you get the receipt in your inbox. A blurb in that message might suggest shipping info will arrive in your inbox shortly, including a tracking number. At this point, you're already screwed. At least I usually am. First, the item takes forever to ship, even if you place your order before 3pm, noon, or whatever time the site says for same-day processing. You won't get same day. Your item will probably take 2 days to process before it actually ships. Like I said, the clock does not start until the package hits the pavement. Countless major retailers sit on their hands while I wait for shipping info in my inbox.

To give you an example, I placed two orders on Sunday afternoon. It's now Tuesday and neither company has shipped either package. That stinks. My $10 worth of shipping costs (each order) were just wasted by both companies. That's $20 vanishing into thin air. I received an email yesterday from one stating shipping info was on the way. I have yet to receive that information.

In the past, I was frequently faced with options with regard to the company shipping my precious cargo. Now, I'd be lucky if FedEx or DHL were listed. UPS has a stranglehold on the shipping business. I can't remember the last time I received anything via DHL or FedEx. The USPS even has a leg up on FedEx and DHL.

Sometimes I never receive any shipping info, especially if the item I ordered is coming via USPS. Some sites will give you the USPS or UPS tracking number. That number may or may not work. You see, in order for you to track a package, the middle-men need to scan it. In addition to knowing when your packaged was shipped and where it is located at any particular point in time, you also get a delivery date. That's assuming the package can be tracked. Let's just say that if you have a tracking number, all it tells you is how painfully slow it is moving across the country. UPS is better at tracking that the USPS, which rarely has the information readily available. UPS tracking information online lags behind the scanning process. There's nothing you can do about it either.

While your item is moving its way across the country, it gets handled by a number of individuals. These employees don't seem to care about how fragile a package might be. They might as well be working for the airport tossing luggage as far as I'm concerned, especially if they work for UPS. FedEx is certainly no angel with regard to package handling, but compared to UPS which is a nightmare, other options are far better. But remember, you frequently are not given those options. The USPS carriers are somewhat better with regard to package handling too, but there are other issues with the USPS I'll get to in a moment.

Assuming your package survives the trip, two or three days after you expected the package, it gets delivered. Oh, the delivery. Here's another mess I have to discuss. Let me share my experiences. The time of delivery varies from company to company. Regardless of whether or not your package requires a signature, you'll likely spend the entire day being held hostage by the delivery guy or gal. UPS tends to make an evening run where I live. If I know the delivery date and UPS is the carrier, I can expect the package to arrive between 4pm and 6:30pm, but that's still no guarantee. Some carriers have left packages at the wrong house. Others have been known to drop it at the end of the driveway, not at my doorstep. The USPS carriers can be moody and may be on a power trip. USPS packages typically require a signature, so if you're not home, you get a nice slip of paper in your mailbox telling you to pick it up at your post office the next day. Here's the kicker. My carrier has been known to leave the box at the post office and toss the slip in the mailbox anyway. Yes, even if I'm home, if a box is coming via USPS and it requires a signature, there is a good chance I'll have to drive to pick it up. Again, the shipping fee I paid is meaningless if I have to be the one driving to pick it up. FedEx has what I like to call morning people. They're awesome. Between 8am and 11am, the FedEx truck or van will pull up and drop off the package. It's guaranteed. Never had any problems with FedEx or DHL in this department.

I wish I could give you all a few tips, but we are at the mercy of the delivery trucks and the packaging folks. I try to place orders on a Friday or on week ends so that the clock starts ticking on Monday, not Tuesday, but as you can see from my most recent expenditures, that did not help a single bit.

If you are a retailer, here's some advice. Ship no later than 24 hours after the order was placed. If there are multiple items to assemble in a package, it's understood that processing will take longer. No big deal. One item should not take more than 24 hours to go from point A to B. Give your customers more options too. I know UPS probably cuts you a deal. Pickup services probably suck on your end no matter what, but trust me, your customers will love you for giving them options. I love using FedEx if at all possible. Add them to your list please. Get tracking numbers for your customers, even if it's through the USPS. You might want to institute a survey of sorts evaluating the shipping experience so your customers can identify weak spots for you.

I'm seconds away from mentioning companies by name. You don't want to be on that list. Service is at an all time low people. I don't know what's wrong with workers these days. I can't get anything done. In my line of work, it's my ass if I'm not punctual and on top of my game. Lives are on the line in my line of work.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Gerry May needs to go bye bye

If you watch KTBS 3 with any regularity, you're probably familiar with the conservative slant, especially from one of their anchors, Gerry May. In fact, whenever Gerry May comes on the screen, his personal web address is displayed at the bottom of the screen. Gerry May is just one reason why I refuse to watch KTBS 3 for news gathering purposes. The other probably has to do with their subpar weather coverage and Sherri Talley, a questionable lush. But this post isn't about the last two.

So what has me fuming mad today? The other day, Gerry May ran a story on a recent flap involving the Shreveport Mayor, Cedric Glover. Let's not start there because the story was really about a traffic stop which has very little to do with Mayor Glover. A web site called Conservative Drink is dramatizing the whole situation and turning it into a gun rights issue.

So let's look at the traffic stop. Robert Baillio was pulled over for not using a turn signal. To give you some idea as to the character of Mr. Baillio, he looks like a reincarnation of some confederate soldier. Here is a photo of the back of Baillio's redneck-mobile. Like any self respecting redneck, his beliefs are elegantly displayed on the back of his vehicle in the form of bumper stickers. One reads "Celebrate Diversity" with various shells and bullets beside it. Another reads " Armed. We Are Citizens! Un-Armed. We Are Subjects." I can't make out what the others say, but let's be honest here. He's a walking stereotype of the Shreveport right winger.

The cop who pulled Baillio over obviously saw the stickers on the back of this guy's truck and was concerned out of safety for both parties. It's safe to wonder whether or not a guy in Shreveport with gun stickers plastered all over the back of his pickup has a gun in his vehicle. Guess what? He did! Part of regular questioning in traffic stops these days involves asking if you are armed, whether it be with a knife or a gun. Cops do ask with safety as their primary concern. If asked, you surrender the weapon for the remainder of that traffic stop for the officer's safety and your own. Choose to hold onto your weapon, and you are viewed as hostile and will likely be asked to step out of the vehicle and get put into cuffs. That's where Glover's quote has meat, folks. If you have a weapon anywhere in your vehicle and you are asked about it, you fess up and listen to the cop. You surrender your right to have a firearm until the officer lets you go on your merry way.

The Kool-Aid soaked nutters claim there is no justification for search and seizure. Yeah...okay boys. Whatever. The cop asked if he had a gun. Baillio complied by admitting there was a gun in the vehicle. Baillio could have just as easily refused. In many states, you can refuse in fear of illegal search and seizure. Just expect another car to show up with or without the canine unit. C.D. claims there was zero probable cause. This is where they've taken the leap away from reality. On one hand, they want Glover to admit a mistake, but as far as Baillio is concerned, well, he's as clean as a preacher's sheets. Yep. These conservatives aren't being the least bit obstinate (sarcasm). That's why I'm not taking them seriously. Neither should you. Their motivation for glorifying this traffic stop has nothing to do with illegal search and seizure. Why do I know this? It's what they've fallen back on now that the out of context rant over "Your rights have been suspended" holds no water. They're reaching at this point as a last ditch effort to cling to ideology. Shame on them.

Now, pay very close attention here folks. This is what I call finding middle ground, something C.D. obviously knows nothing about. I take their point that when the officer asked Baillio if he was a member of the NRA, it had nothing to do with the traffic stop. Maybe the officer was making small talk. Who knows? Still, it had nothing to do with anything related to the traffic stop.

Instead of Baillio deciding to get a lawyer and pursue this traffic stop through the normal channels, he cried to GunTalk Magazine and Conservative Drink picked up the story as well. Let's make him a poster child. Right? Let's blow this out of proportion. Glover's statement came well after the traffic stop. What Mayor Glover said about the incident has no bearing on what will be discussed should Baillio decide to take the cop who pulled him over to court and fight the ticket. Oh wait, Baillio was not issued a ticket? But now Conservative Drink and their buddies want to make this more about Glover than the traffic stop. Come on now children. You know this has nothing to do with liberals taking away your guns. Quit trying to make this situation about your gun rights. What's really funny is how on their site, they are shocked that a mayor from a "major" southern city can say what he did. You give Shreveport too much credit. If that conversation shocks you, then you should hear what your redneck brethren spew out all the time in this town. Nutjobs, the lot of them. Governors in adjacent states have said some pretty silly things too. Bobby Jindal, our own governor, spoke to the entire country as if they were children. You're shocked at one little mayor? Oh, there's just a little bullshit in all of this, isn't there? They've pinned Glover as a liberal elitist. Haha. What a joke! Classic right winger rhetoric folks. I assure you, Mayor Glover is no elitist. Methinks you are confused about what constitutes the elite.

Now back to Gerry May.

May's report sounded more like a plug for the Conservative Drink web site than a balanced news story. There's really a site called Conservative Drink? They don't drink liberal Kool Aid? (Note that the site spells it "Aide"). So, I guess they drink conservative Kool Aid and it's obviously spiked with some sort of alcoholic beverage which could range from simple cheap vodka to Kentucky shine. You be the judge.

Here's what I can tell you. What you're looking at is a hatchet job. Even if Glover made a slip of the tongue, he's gone on record clarifying his comment. The folks at Conservative Drink won't let this go because they want nothing more than to crucify any liberal politician regardless. Consider them a bunch of obstinate right wingers gunning for anyone left of Right. Middle ground is not in their vocabulary. Understanding is not their interest. This is the problem with right wing gun "enthusiasts." They aren't at the discussion table on the gun rights issue because anyone outside of their little circle is anti-gun. Just read the part of their little blog about Glover being part of an "Anti-Gun Group." Gerry May should have seen this coming as a reporter. Instead, I feel he willingly pushed the matter to the forefront to dramatize a relatively unimportant traffic stop. Something like this should have never reached the mayor's office. It certainly never should have involved a recorded telephone call. I wonder, was Cedric Glover informed that the conversation was being recorded? I could see Mr. Baillio being prosecuted for violating the law rather easily. I'd have to check the laws on the books for this state.

Although Gerry May runs a personal web site covering politics, among other things, it is still his personal site. He needs to learn how to separate the blogger persona from the news anchor. A journalist should not push political propaganda as part of his news cast. A blogger can do whatever he or she chooses. As a news anchor, you report on the stories without slant. Gerry May has a well known record for spewing conservative rhetoric on his blog and during news broadcasts as if it were truth. Seeing as how Shreveport/Bossier is a thriving center of redneck right wingers, the last thing we need is a news anchor feeding their appetite for paranoia. Hey, all I'm talking about here is a little bit of journalistic integrity and personal responsibility. Remember that as a news anchor, you're providing news to the public. Your own agenda should be set aside. Otherwise, I suggest Gerry May either resigns or fills out a job application for Fox News.

Quotes of interest in the transcript of the conversation between Baillio and Mayor Glover on display at the C.D. web site:

Mayor Glover: Their rights have been suspended sir. Certainly you have the to to all of the things to be protected and what have you, but in terms of your right to be able to proceed until that officer has done with the work that he had at that particular point - yes sir your rights have been suspended.
Sir! Do do you understand what it is that I'm saying to you? I'm assuming that you...I'm assuming that I'm having a conversation with someone who has common sense. So no...Am I saying that all of your rights at that point have been eliminated and anything can be done to you no matter what. No I'm not saying that.

That pretty much sums up Mayor Glover's stance. Not all of your rights are suspended. There are certain things you may not do when being pulled over by an officer for a violation. What Conservative Drink and others have done is take "Your rights have been suspended" completely out of context to imply that all of our rights have been taken away during a traffic stop.

What's my advice to Mr. Baillio? Get yourself a lawyer. How many of the right wing fringe rednecks bitch when a young black male gets Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and the ACLU involved? Is crying to GunTalk or Conservative Drink any different? Look. The Shreveport PD is no symbol of honor. In the last few years, they've screwed up a number of times. Get yourself a freakin' lawyer and see what a judge has to say about it. Leave Cedric Glover out of it. Empty right wing rhetoric is so yesterday.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Palin Steps Down As Governor

Sarah Palin has decided to step down from her position as governor at the end of the month. The Lieutenant Governor, Sean Parnell, will take over at that point. Unfortunately, the Lt. Gov was not given a lot of lead time on this. He's going to hit the ground running. What's her reasoning?

"Once I decided not to run for re-election, I also felt that to embrace the conventional Lame Duck status in this particular climate would just be another dose of politics as usual, something I campaigned against and will always oppose."

How should this play out? She should be portrayed as abandoning her state in favor of personal gain. Republicans will paint her out as someone making a sacrifice for the party, however. Using "Lame Duck status" as an excuse is, pardon the pun, lame at best.

There is also talk that she is resigning because she is fed up with the politics and attacks on her family. Apparently it's been a bit too much. Well, Sarah, you opened your mouth on too many things and to use a phrase rednecks like to throw out at trouble makers, you bit off more than you could chew. Now you're facing the backlash of your hypocrisy and arrogance kiddo.

This kind of behavior is not what we want in a leader, is it? When the proverbial shit hits the fan in the Oval Office, is this the decision maker we want? Somebody that folds up and heads for the hills when she doesn't like how things are going?

If this decision had anything to do with her responsibilities as a mother, and now grandmother, the arguments people made in '08 about whether or not she could handle raising a family and being the president do hold water folks.

I have to agree with Mike Murphy's comments on MSNBC the other day. In order for Palin to have any chance for the nomination, she's got to stay on as governor and rack up as much experience points as she can. She just doesn't have enough to become a leader on the national stage. Now that she's resigned, all that opportunity to grow is gone.

So here's what I see coming from her playbook. She doesn't have experience. What she needs is exposure. Familiarity and name recognition both often trump experience in small time elections. Republicans know that out of all their possible choices, Palin has the best chance of becoming their front runner for the highest office in the land in a few years. They've decided to roll her out ahead of schedule. The Republican Party has shown their hand folks. They're going for broke.

Side note:
My own little personal observation is that she announced this a day before Independence Day. So not only is her hubby a secessionist, she makes the announcement a day before one of the most patriotic days in our country. Strange what these folks consider patriotic these days, isn't it?

Why should democrats be worried? She's a woman. That's what got her so much popularity in '08. That's what will carry her. It doesn't matter that she'd vote to take away a woman's right to choose. It doesn't matter that she'd knock women so hard, they'd be thrown back into 50's society. She's a woman and a large number of women will follow her blindly no matter what. That's why I think the dems need to find their female leader, and fast. They need to pound Palin into the ground so hard, Trip, Skip, Pip, Snap, Crackle, Pop, Trig, Twig, Jig, and Pig can feel it too.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Maher's Obama Audacity Rant

By now, I'm sure you've seen it on tv somewhere. Who says the media doesn't offer up negative Obama coverage? Maher went off on him and the major networks picked it up and played the fat kid/cake routine. In cased you missed it, on the 6/12/2009 airing of Real Time with Bill Maher, the flagrant host ended his New Rules segment with a blurb about Obama. First, he went on and on about how much Obama is on tv these days. Then he went on to discuss how Obama basically needs to become a hardliner with a Bush-esque swagger.

Folks on the Right are actually agreeing with Bill without even wondering where his motivation is coming from. Because it's Obama criticism, they love it. Proof that folks on the Right are sheep. They won't agree once they understand who Maher is. They definitely won't be as pleased with his rant when they discover the ass Maher wants Obama to ram his foot into is a Republican one.

The media has actually covered this next point. Let me enlighten you. Obama obviously faces criticism from the Right. With some policy decisions, even the Left is taking swings at the President now. That's where Maher is coming from. He's an upset leftist in many aspects. By having his little tirade spinning Obama as a pansy spending more time on tv and less time actually doing presidential things, he appeals to a certain crowd. Look deeper. This tirade is a response to his need for Obama to push more liberal policies.

What policies?

Let's stick with health care for the purpose of my post. I'm fairly certain Maher is a strong defender of a single payer system. If you've been watching the news lately, you'll know that's not what the Obama plan is proposing. In fact, even during the campaign season, Obama did not advocate a single payer plan. If you look at Maher's history, he has it in for the drug and insurance companies to the point where you wonder if he might need to be on prescription medication himself. It's no surprise that when Obama tries to find balance with the insurance companies, Maher throws a hissy fit.

But that's the thing about Obama. He understands compromise and middle ground is the stuff Americans are craving right now. It's why he got elected. It's why the Dems are essentially in control on the Hill. The AMA is all over Obama's back. Insurance companies obviously have more than a few politicians in their pocket. It's not like Obama has a slam dunk opportunity to push health care reform through. Middle ground is mandatory, not optional.


With the Dems largely in control, he does have an opportunity to get things done. That's where Maher has a point. We saw this with Clinton. What happened once the Republicans had Congress? Nothing got done and they turned all the focus on the blowjob. We don't need another run of do-nothing politicians and we don't need to shove a boot up anyone's ass. There is no time like the present.

Other issues I'm sure Maher is upset about include legalization of marijuana and the environment. The first isn't happening. Not a priority. The second is sticky, but doable under this administration. With the economy in the shitter, green is the environmental policy and the economic policy all wrapped into one. That's the plan Obama preached during his campaign.

What do we need?

Folks on the Left need to stop throwing punches at Obama and go along willingly with his plans. He sure isn't going to get any support from the "No" Republicans in office now. Wait until later to pick your battles. Save your fighting words for when mid-term elections come.

As Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi) said, "No man. Fuck sides! What we need is a little solidarity!"

What about Obama's celebrity status?

I think the motivation behind all the tv appearances has to do with morale. When Americans see their President out and about doing normal things, it gives them a warm fuzzy feeling which feeds into the love affair we've had with almost every guy that's taken office, almost (You know who). With the economy still in turmoil, I think Obama is trying to show the country that life is still enjoyable. Go out and do things. It's not like his job isn't stressful. Bush had his ranch. Previous presidents had Camp David. Leisure time is nothing new, even in times of war.

That being said, I do agree that he's spending too much time with things he shouldn't and not enough time getting in front of the camera telling the rest of us we need to sacrifice. I don't think we've learned our lesson yet. People still plan on living outside of their means. Greed isn't gone. We aren't cutting back on fuel consumption. We aren't taking global warming seriously. People still bitch about taxes, yet want government funded programs. Obama has to look these folks in the eye and just say what needs to be said. Sacrifice.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

National Health Coverage, The AMA, AMSA, etc

The American Medical Association, aka the AMA, said it would cooperate with the Obama administration in an effort to make health coverage a reality. Now they say they do not approve of a nationalized system. Profit appears to be their primary concern. I thought patient care was behind the oath physicians take.

First, let's get something straight. The proposed plan is not a full nationalized system. Those who are happy with what they have can keep it. Those who are not covered because they cannot afford insurance costs can be covered under the government system. It should create competition with the private insurers and bring costs down for all of us. Think of it as capitalism with a government edge. Competition is, after all, healthy and beneficial to the consumer.

The American Medical Student Association, AMSA, has long been a proponent of a single payer system as reflected in their publication, New Physician. It seems that the young up and coming future doctors in this country are at odds with the current AMA bunch. It must be pointed out, however, that not all physicians are at odds with AMSA. It's the AMA which has decided to make the conflicting statement. In other words, the AMA does not speak for every physician, unfortunately.

Let's look at pay under the British NHS, something I know a little bit about after doing my clinicals there. The starting salary for the first year resident equivalent, the house officer, can range from £25,000 to £35,000. Pay increases in successive years. In American dollars, using a rough exchange rate, that comes out to $50,000 to $70,000 a year for someone just starting out. Do our first year residents make that kind of money? No. The cost of living is also higher in England, but residents still do quite well over there. Residents in the US still struggle.

Do No Harm
There is an interesting debate when public health care is framed under the physician's motto, "Do no harm."

In one aspect, covering the uninsured and focusing on preventative care would improve health among our citizens. Depriving our citizens of health care would do harm. It would be in our philosophical interest to make some attempt at serving the community by offering coverage. Doctors will still get paid.

On the other hand, some doctors argue that if we nationalize the health system, they will be forced to treat more patients with less pay. They argue that patient care in hospitals, for example, would suffer as a result of overwhelming workloads. Less attention would be given to each individual patient. While that might be somewhat true under a completely nationalized system, ie: single payer, again, that's not the system being proposed by the Obama administration. This argument against government coverage needs to be modified to reflect the reality of the policy.

When doctors appear like their only concern is what's in their wallets, it makes us out to be those stereotypical money hungry arrogant jerks who care very little about patient care. On one side, medical students are being hit with medical ethics, the importance of a good history and physical, establishing rapport, and learning to be empathetic. On the other side, they are beat over the head that money dictates care.

What would remedy the workload concerns? Let me make a suggestion. There is already a shortage of physicians in the US, yet the USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Exam) passing score requirements have gone up over the last few years making it more difficult to move on from the 2nd year of medical school to the 3rd. Upon graduating, medical graduates must participate in the residency match program, a centralized system where hospitals match up their choices with potential candidates. The NRMP is somewhat flawed in that hospitals only take so many new residents a year. Thousands of potential physicians go unmatched every year. Yes, thousands. Get those folks into the workforce to take some of the load off.

Let's face it guys. Doctors and patients get screwed by the insurance companies. Insurance companies end up dictating how much a physician will make. The 10 minute consultation is a direct result of the demands insurance companies place on physicians. In order for a family practitioner to cover the costs of his office, he has to see more patients per hour in order to get paid by each insurer. It's really a nightmare trying to appease everyone. Patient care suffers as a result. Doctors who spend more time with patients end up providing better care to each individual patient.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Citizen of the world

Okay, so Newt said it. He's not a "citizen of the world."

So now that we find out that Reagan said it, the obvious question to ask is...

Did he just spit in the face of the man with whom many Republicans have an almost homosexual infatuation with?

Maybe not in those words, but you get the idea.

In the past, even Newt has said he's a citizen of the world.

So Keith Olberman and others now wonder how Newt can spin this so it's okay for Reagan to be a citizen of the world and not okay for Obama.

Easy, but nobody is saying it.

"Citizen of the world" is Republican code speak. It should not be interpreted as a proud part of a global family. It's code for not being a kiss ass to towel heads. Hey, I'm being blunt about this. Those are the people Newt is trying to reach with that comment. It's the same cowboy attitude Bush had when he was in office. They prefer to go it alone. They don't need help from anyone. Imagine the cranky old cripple who smacks you away because he wants to do something all on his own. That's the attitude stinking up the place.

It's all just malicious code people! Call them out when they make use of it! These are perfect examples of how the Republicans talk to each other behind closed doors. You know what they really mean, so say it already.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Haven't posted in a while

I have not felt the need to post in a while. See, the thing is, lots of things have been going on in the political world. Most of it has done quite well on its own.

The Republicans and conservative base have been doing all the damage on their own. They don't need any help exposing their evil side. Rush can do that all on his own. His sheepish followers help fuel the fire that has been so great to watch over the last few weeks. Cheney going out there and opening his mouth has been a blessing. Republicans are so disoriented right now.

On top of that, the media is having a feeding frenzy. With the new Ed show on MSNBC, my straight talk attitude is less necessary. His Crazy Talk segment pretty much sums up my feelings on most days. Most reporters are speaking their minds lately too. Bill Maher hasn't been as gung ho as I'd like, but he did stop the two Republicans he had on his show last Friday.

I'm wondering if there is a need for a voice like mine. People are finally catching on. Still, there are some things I'd like to cover and I might get back into writing in the weeks to come. Republicans have been saying the same old shit lately though, so repeating myself isn't all that fun. Democrats like me are equally frustrated with the broken record too. The conservative base is scared and the same old tricks are all they have to fall back on. They only have Rush, Savage, and Fox News to turn to for inspiration. It's time to leave the fools clinging to a lost cause in our dust. Let them scramble for power among themselves. We have progress to make.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Local News Drumming Up Gun Paranoia

Over the last few months, all three local news stations in my area, KTAL (6), KTBS (3), and KSLA (12) have reported on gun ownership worries. What's going on? Assault rifles are flying off shelves. Ammunition is too.

So what's the problem?

The local news frames the worry in light of the recent gun violence. Let me give you an example of poor journalism. Three officers were killed in a shooting in Pittsburgh last week. Instead of our local news covering it as a tragedy, they start out their week end news cast with something like this.

The gun violence in Pittsburgh has gun owners worried.

So instead of addressing gun violence, the real problem, they drum up right winger paranoia over assault rifle bans.

They completely disregard the fact that no legislation is currently in the works in Congress to institute an assault rifle ban. No legislation is on the table to take away guns. Maybe one or two members of Congress have plans to bring certain ideas to the table, but that's the same as Dennis Kucinich standing in front of Congress pushing for the impeachment of President Bush. It's one guy trying to push an idea that is dead in the water.

But oh no, southerners need to have their paranoia validated and news organizations do it in the name of ratings. When the news reports it, one can only assume it's the truth. Unfortunately, it's not. It's spin. We should demand more from our local news organizations, but we don't.

So KSLA, KTBS, and KTAL, would you mind dusting off those journalism degrees and make an attempt to actually do some legitimate fact checking before making hearsay newsworthy?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Rick Wagoner Resignation

Before you start reading all of the spin surrounding the resignation of GM CEO, Rick Wagoner, make sure you understand what's going on.

Barack Obama did not plainly ask for Wagoner's resignation. It is part of a list of concessions GM has to make in order to receive more bail out money. The headlines and news coverage will frame this in the most simplistic terms. Watch for the words "The White House has asked for his resignation." While true, it is an incomplete statement and very misleading. Blame shitty media coverage to get people riled up. It was part of a list of concessions in exchange for money.

Some reading I've done tonight makes this out to be the government telling a company what to do. Conservative bloggers are drumming this up as some sort of Socialism or Communism threat. These bloggers are publishing FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt). Tell them to stop it. Writers who use FUD to get their point across are ruining journalistic integrity. Remember, his resignation is just one concession in a list in exchange for government assistance. The government isn't just going to throw money at you and expect nothing in return. Hardly Communism folks. Just accountability.

Let's look at that. GM was bailed out briefly. They were asked to clean up their act and put out some good plans for making cars to get this country back on track in that department. In case you haven't noticed, American cars are shit when compared to anything we import. The auto industry is a major player in the American economy. Whether it's steel or plastic, the auto industry feeds millions. When they fuck up, they fuck over quite a few people.

The taxpayers bailed your ass out and progress has not been made. It's called accountability. If you can't make progress, get the hell out of the way and let somebody else do it. Rick Wagoner couldn't cooperate with the unions or get a solid plan to save the industry. He's in the way and because we tried to help bail GM out, he answers to us now.

Just so we are clear, you should probably recognize how integral the auto industry is in Obama's grand plan to pull us out of this hole. It's called going green. It's called getting off of foreign oil. If you aren't on board with that plan, you're living in the past and you're part of the problem. Doesn't really surprise me that people criticize Obama for his actions. They didn't agree with Obama's energy plan to begin with. Heck, they didn't even think he had a plan.

We want progress. If that means Rick Wagoner and AIG have to answer to the taxpayers who put up the money to help, well then I'd say that's pretty damn fair.

Obama/Media Love Affair?

One question. What news have you been watching?

Consider this a continuation piece from my post about the Obama National Security Team Press Conference.

I'm up late switching between the nightly CBS and ABC news broadcasts. Andy Rooney just came on. Two people wrote him to bitch about the so called "love affair" the media has with Obama. I beg to differ.

If you watch CNN, MSNBC, NBC, ABC, and CBS, I'd say you're watching most, if not all of the major media outlets right wingers probably consider the evil liberal media.

If you think the media has a love affair with Obama, I'd wager that you watch FOX News, listen to Rush and Savage, and subscribe to the National Review or WorldNetDaily. You probably don't watch the very media you blame for giving Obama soft pitches. Maybe you watch in passing, but not with any consistency.

So let's look at all the soft ball pitches I've seen being thrown at Obama lately.

His news conference the other night involved answering questions from 13 members of the Press. Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't CNN's own Ed Henry throw a snarky question at Obama? It was one of the more memorable moments in the press conference. A recent article on the CBS News web site mentions several different views from media outlets. Politico actually wrote that Obama "did not say much."

He was criticized recently for repeatedly using the "I inherited this mess" excuse and the pundits involved asked whether or not it's time for him to move on and own it.

Obama was also criticized for essentially mocking and ducking the town hall style question about legalizing marijuana.

So at random, I was able to witness several difficult questions, negative coverage, and plenty of Obama criticism.

He's been criticized that as a Senator, he was proactive in getting the very legislation passed which eventually led to the AIG debacle. Even though Dodd fessed up to being the guy behind the mistake in the legislation, criticism has been far reaching.

He's being criticized by some for sending too many troops to Stan-Land, yet not enough by others.

Did you miss the hell he caught over the Special Olympics joke he made on Jay Leno? Did you miss the hell he caught for appearing on Jay Leno to begin with?

Just about every news outlet has had guest commentators discussing how his economic plan is going to fail. I've seen it compared to Japan's 10 year stagnant and soured economy.

So I ask again, what in the hell have you been watching? Those are only a few examples which have occurred in recent weeks. He got hit hard during the campaign season too. Obama was not given a free ride folks.

And to add my own criticism, I'd just like to mention that Obama needs to learn that before words that begin with a vowel, you use "an" and not "a" as he did in his latest press conference. Bush may have butchered the language, but Obama isn't exempt from making a few of his own mistakes.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Thoughts on Legalizing Pot

Although I'm a big fan of Bill Maher, there is one issue I am in opposition with him on. That issue is the legalization of marijuana. Whenever he starts discussing anything medical, well, let's just say Bill gets a little ranty and extreme. In light of the present economic downturn, many have been suggesting we should legalize marijuana as a source of monetary gain. Let's explore that idea, shall we?

In my view, there are two schools of thought in favor of legalizing this substance. The first, and more legitimate proposal in my opinion, involves using marijuana for medicinal purposes. The second and more troubling proposal is legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Unfortunately, one group uses the other to advance their cause. I think you know which one.

Although marijuana when thought of as a pharmaceutical product has shown benefits in medical practice, smoking the drug does not come without its pitfalls. Some of the unwanted effects include short-term memory loss, impaired lung function comparable to that of cigarette smokers, cancer, decreased sperm count and motility, interference with ovulation and prenatal development, altered immune response, and may cause detrimental effects on heart function. The well known amotivational syndrome has become the source of humor and represents the common image of the run of the mill stoner. This syndrome is a rather serious consequence of substance abuse and is not entirely desirable, nor funny. Let's not forget the association this drug has with schizophrenia.

So given that background information, smoking this particular product does not appear to be the ideal method of administration. These effects alone are enough to convince physicians that its use as a recreational drug is simply not a good idea. In the world of medicine, physicians will be geared towards getting you to quit whether the drug is legal or not.

Let's look at marijuana as a cash crop at this point in time. It is grown in foreign countries and smuggled across borders. Anyone with seeds can start up their own crop. The number of varieties out there resemble coffee and tea selections.

Now let's legalize it and examine the market as a recreational drug.

What are the proposed benefits?
Monetary gain
Stimulation of the economy
Decriminalization and reduced strain on the judicial system
Reduced border security issues
Reduced funding of criminals abroad

Let's look at the problems from a business perspective.

It will have to become centralized through a company here in the US. Why? A better infrastructure for growing and handling this crop is already in place in other countries. Smuggling will turn into importing and that money will go abroad, not stay at home. Remind me again where the "good stuff" comes from. Why wouldn't a centralized company work? Anyone can grow the stuff. A licensing system will have to be put into place. Consider it similar to having a liquor license. What company would want to grow a crop easily grown by regular people?
There's just no money in it once you legalize the stuff, unless of course, you're the government taxing it.

Ah taxes. That is your proposal, isn't it? The current proposal for economic growth does stem from government taxation. Proponents preach how pot will help reduce the national debt, etc, etc. Yep. Let's tax the substance. You already know how well taxes have gone with tobacco smokers. How much are you paying for a carton these days because of taxes? Do you really want to start paying more for your pot? I didn't think so. Dealers won't like the idea either. They'll have to start paying the IRS for the money they make. Keep it illegal, and all that money stays under the table.

The proposal to legalize marijuana as a recreational drug is nothing more than a notion that if major drug companies are allowed to push their substances, we ought to be able to have our pot too. The problem is, it's not a viable business proposal.

You think it will result in decriminalization? If you do anything under the influence, you will still be treated as a criminal. Possessing it will not be criminal, but daily activities performed under the influence most certainly will. I doubt you'll be able to have the stuff out in the open in your car. Underage possession will still be criminal as well. Places of employment are still going to piss test you. They still don't have to hire you if you test positive. Could be a bigger bureaucratic nightmare than it already is.

So if you want to legalize marijuana for recreational use, show me a business model that works. If anyone can grow it, I'm not sure how profitable marijuana will be as a crop. I just don't see it guys.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Alabama Shootings, Conceal Carry Didn't Help

An argument in favor of concealed carry gun rights has long been a topic of discussion in the scope of massacre shootings. The argument goes like this. If people are allowed to carry a concealed weapon, someone else will be less likely to pull out a gun in fear of being shot themselves. Someone carrying could stop the crime from happening. Proponents typically go on to say concealed carry offers a form of defense in situations where an attacker starts shooting.

It is my understanding that Alabama does permit concealed carry of handguns.

Nobody fired back. So in a state where concealed carry is permitted, not one person was packing that day. The tragedy continued to unfold with disastrous consequences.

So for "pro-gun" concealed carry supporters, this should not sit well. If anything, this tragedy will fuel the argument against semi-automatics.

If you recall, the shooting at the Unitarian church in Tennessee only ended when people tackled the guy. In that instance, nobody shot back. People stopped him with their own physical effort. The notion that more guns equates to a safer society has not shown to be true. Those who argue an armed society is a polite society should visit some southern states and tell me how many times someone is rude to them. By all means, visit East Texas. You might actually get shot. They're nuts over there.

The gun debate is a tiresome one, but the facts are on our side, not theirs.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bobby Jindal Saying Thanks, But No Thanks?

The Economic Stimulus has passed. Each state is going to get a huge chunk of cash to help get this country back on its feet. What does Governor Bobby Jindal say about it? He may not take it.

Why? Conservative ideology?

One of the major talking points in Jindal's run for the Governor's office was the construction and extension of Interstate 49. I-49 could serve as a major evacuation route for southern Louisiana should another hurricane strike the region. I-49 could serve as a huge piece of the commerce network in this area. Those two key points helped get him elected.

I haven't heard much about I-49 since he got elected. Isn't that always the case with our elected officials. Promises, promises, promises. He's going through the state budget making cuts left and right. If he accepts the money, he could reverse those decisions and actually make improvements.

Deliver it up Piyush. Pull the broomstick out of your ass and help get this economy going again. Imagine all the jobs that I-49 construction will bring with it.

Of course, if you are keeping yourself warm with ideology, by all means, turn down the money. It's not like highway construction is essential to building up infrastructure. Oh wait. It is. What a douchebag.

Don't you watch Deal or No Deal? You take the money!

I have learned something new since posting this. According to the local news, he is taking some money from the stimulus deal. It seems as though Jindal is going to take $42 million of the stimulus money and put it towards I-49. That's better news. Some are complaining that he should take more, but the response on his behalf seems to imply he cannot use more than what the stimulus package allows.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Cell Phone Spam

Are you one of the many cell phone users getting spam phone calls?

Did you do a Google search for the number that called you and discovered many others had been hit by the same scam?

I found one common link between the onset of the phone calls and my own life after someone else I know started getting similar calls.

We had both recently rented cars with Enterprise and left our cell phone numbers as the second contact number. Is Enterprise selling our numbers? What can we do about it? I assume calling Enterprise won't result in a change in behavior on their part. Better Business Bureau maybe? I doubt my provider, T-Mobile, will do anything about it either. As I understand it, the National Do Not Call List covers both land lines and cell phones. That may be your best course of action at this point.

Here are the numbers I've been hit with so far.

Most seem to pitch some warranty scam. I stopped answering after finding out what the first call was all about. I'm trying to establish a pattern here, so if you've also rented from Enterprise or other car rental company, I'd like to hear about it.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Michael Steele, The New Top Guy...Ha!

Michael Steele just took the top spot in the Republican Party by sliding into the RNC Chairman spot. Here are my thoughts on Michael Steele. Keep in mind my only insight into the mind of Michael Steele is from his ramblings in his appearances on Real Time with Bill Maher.

He's an asshole. Not only is he an asshole, but he's a party line asshole. If this is representative of how the Republican Party wants to be in 2012, then they didn't learn a damn thing from the recent election. The last thing the Republican Party needs to be is the same old obstinate party line group of people. His skin may be black, but he wears the same face as those Republicans that made us vomit in the 2008 campaign season.

You guys on the Right still didn't get the message.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Hotel Funk

You know what I'm talking about. Well, perhaps maybe you don't. Let me elaborate.

For those of us who travel across this country with any sort of frequency, hotel life is a very familiar experience. Room quality can vary as can the going rate for that room. The housekeeping staff rarely speaks any English. The remote control is probably the dirtiest thing in the room. The internet access can be hit or miss. Quite often, the shower heads are low-flow. The coffee pots don't always work either. You never really know what to expect.

One thing remains fairly consistent however. I'm talking about the cheap hotel soap. Unless you are accustomed to staying at an up scale ritzy hotel, you are familiar with this particular product.

Hotel branded lotion is usually nice. The shampoo can be good at times. The soap, on the other hand, is horrid. I call the smell the "hotel funk." It doesn't quite smell like body odor, but it's damn close. If you did not pack your own soap, this stuff is what you're left with. As a soap, it probably does affect the adherence of dirt particles and other nasties, so you can probably wash yourself clean with a certain level of confidence. The smell of the soap stays with you.

Take flight attendents for example. As they walk by you in the aisle on the plane, take a quick breath in and tell me if you smell "hotel funk." I have. Other passengers that have been forced to use hotel soap smell like it too. I have even smelled it walking through an airport terminal. On this most recent trip, even the hotel towels still reeked of "hotel funk." It apparently does not wash out when they do laundry. Maybe this particular hotel did not use detergent. Isn't that troubling? With the TSA liquid guidelines in place, I suspect more people are being forced to use cheap hotel soap instead of their own quality bar.

Like the bad B.O. in a Seinfeld episode, "hotel funk" is an entity.

Shreveport Regional Airport & Social Programming

I recently went on a trip. I flew out of SHV, the Shreveport Regional Airport in Shreveport, Louisiana. When I returned, my flight landed just before noon. As I rode the escalator down to the baggage claim area, I heard something over the loudspeakers.

"Please stand for the National Anthem."

Two security guards walking toward me stopped. I continued to walk by them and set my bag down on a bench. A huge American flag was hanging from the ceiling above where the guards were standing. The anthem started playing.

Employees behind the baggage claim kept working. It looked like airline employees at the check-in counters continued to work. The few passengers lingering near the escalator stopped dead in their tracks while the song played. One girl placed her hand over her chest. The song ended and everyone who stopped went back to what they were doing.

SHV does this every single day at noon. If I'm not mistaken, I think they start off the day with the same ritual. That's exactly what this was. Playing the National Anthem every day at noon is nothing more than ritualistic. Not only that, but it is a form of social programming whereby nationalism, not patriotism, is crammed down our throats.

This is the only airport I know of that practices this ritual. I find it very troubling in light of all of the strong nationalism present in the local community, especially among Conservatives who think they are "true" Americans. This is nothing more than another example of nationalistic indoctrination. We should be terrified of this ritualistic practice. I mean, at an airport at noon every single day?

Worried About Steve Jobs & Apple

Ever since Steve Jobs was diagnosed with some form of benign pancreatic cancer, questions and concerns about his health have lingered. I would like to get my hands on the pathology report. After recent appearances where he apparently looked thinner and less healthy, more speculation started flying around. Official releases from those at Apple continued to insist Steve was fine. Now Steve has announced he will go on medical leave until some time in June.

Where does this leave Apple? The stock has already taken a hit over this recent news. A similar situation occurred when an "iReporter" falsely posted a news story that Jobs had been taken off in an ambulance. What Apple is to the Macworld Expo is what Steve Jobs is to Apple in many respects. One may not succeed without the other. I can't help but express that somewhat reserved sense of irony (for those Apple fans out there aware of Apple abandoning future Macworld Expos). Combined with the the recent lackluster Macworld Keynote, this story is making many of us very worried.

Should he pass away, whoever takes over needs to share the vision Steve Jobs had. That should be a no brainer, but anyone who knows the history of Apple is aware of how various CEO's have taken the company in the wrong direction. We can't help but feel very worried about our beloved Apple. For those newcomers and perhaps for many news anchors, Steve Jobs is just the guy that brought us the iPod and the iPhone. For the rest of us who have been Mac users for ages, Steve has always been a visionary of great significance in the world of tech.

Steve, we wish you well and hope for the best.

I found this article at MSNBC to be an interesting read that helped me to understand the underlying pathology in question. Most of us are in the dark because Jobs is good at keeping secrets.