Monday, September 29, 2008

Dual Standard

There is an article about a teacher in a middle school who had sex with a 12 year old boy. To compound the offense she took the boy to Mexico so they could continue to have sex. The boy was a Mexican illegal who has been granted a visa on humanitarian grounds. The teacher got 6 years in prison, 1 year for time already served and may get 1 or 2 years off for good behavior. If that had been a guy he would be charged with statutory rape, and would serve many more years in prison. In addition he might have been convicted of child molestation, kidnapping, etc. Seems like 6 years is awful light.

Of course I end up thinking like George Carlin, where were these teachers when I was a young boy?

Heartless?

I read an article on CNN about a woman who receives a social security disability check. She is 47. She has a son who is home schooled but takes some classes at a local school. She apparently cannot afford clothing for him and he wears her clothing which as brought ridicule and harassment from fellow students at the school he attends. Recently she learned a check she received annually for $250 in the fall of the year was not forthcoming this year. She had used the money to buy clothing for her son and saved some for Christmas. This year there won't be either.

Wow, talk about the subject of a powerful made for TV movie. Now today the House has rejected the "bailout bill." Am I heartless for saying yea for the rejection of the bailout bill in the face of examples of such dire stories as this woman. I feel not.

There are numerous people who will come to this ladies aid when the facts are known. Years ago before welfare and social security people helped people. The streets were not full of starving helpeless people. Bodies did not stack up in potter's field because neighbor wouldn't help neighbor. We now are saying the government is better able to help this lady than her fellow citizens. The problem I see is that it takes some large number of people to help this lady, when all it takes is a few people in the community to probably give her all the aid she needs.

I think to perpetuate the economic growth our country has sustained through this bill would be incorrect at this time. It appears to me our basement is made of a house of cards not the strength of character and ethics that perhaps existed in years gone by. I think the bailout bill should have strong controls and oversights, obviously the industry couldn't regulate itself. Just another example of business's inability to come to terms with "doing the right thing" instead letting greed overwhelm the credit creation market.

I feel bad for the woman and her son. If I had a name and address I would probably send her a check for $50. I'll bet after that article numerous people have taken the step of helping provide for her. I hope they have, that is the spirit of America.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Financial Crisis

My initial thoughts on the $700 Billion dollar bail out were OK. A few days later I'm swinging my opinion. My personal stock portfolio has declined some 10 - 15%. However I am within 5 months of having my home paid off, I have no significant debt other than one piece of investment property and an auto loan on my home equity line of credit. I am meeting my bills, fulfilling my fiscal obligation, paying taxes and working for a living.

Yesterday on PBS I heard a report that there are roughly 51.4 million first mortgages outstanding in the U.S. Of those 51.4 about 1.2 million are in foreclosure, that is less than 3%. So where is the problem? It lies in the fact that greedy bastards bundled those mortgages together and sold them as an investment instrument to other greedy bastards and now they are unsure of the value of those bundles. Why? Because a bunch of other greedy bastards got into the business of house flipping trying to make a buck quickly. The rise in value of homes in parts of American was unprecedented, and now it appears unwarranted. In the past when home loans were handled in local banks people were forced to save money to get a down payment sufficient to create sound collateral for local banks to loan money. It wasn't all that long ago folks.

When some bright investment person figured out that they could sell bundles of mortgages, get the money from that sale and re-lend the money for more mortgages we entered the era of easy credit. In the feeding frenzy that resulted people got into the business of trying to buy homes low and sell high to turn a profit. Then someone figured out the price of homes was becoming greater than people could afford so lets get creative in devising methods for people to increase their leverage and take greater risk. Come on people, who and the hell would take out a low interest loan that would have some huge payment readjustment within a year thinking they would then be able to make the payments. The purpose was so they could flip the house. So you have greedy people risking all to gain wealth, you have greedy loan originators selling loans to persons who were not credit worthy, selling bundles of loans to greedy investors who didn't know what they were buying.

Caveat emptor means let the buyer beware. Now they ask the rest of us to bail them out. In the meantime some people will walk away with huge "golden parachutes" and I will provide money to bail these greedy shits out. Baloney. Fuck'em all! Free market practices reward risk, but there is a down side to risk and the person taking the risk bears the brunt of that burden. So let them wait and sort out the mess through the foreclosure process. Let credit dry up, this country wasn't founded on credit, nor did it become great on credit. What about the huge amounts of credit tied up in credit cards and student loans. Do I have an obligation to cover everyone else's inability to measure risk and reward. I do not believe so. Will this country survive? Sure, there are 50.2 million borrowers out there making their house payments and trying to contribute to the American dream. It is time for a major readjustment in our way of life.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Harvest Time in SEMO

SEMO is Southeast Missouri. I travel through Missouri every time I travel to Blytheville, AR. It is the means of least resistance. Coming home from Blytheville Thursday afternoon I came across a scene that bears recording. After cutting the rice in a field the field is burned. The rice is cut quite high, just the heads are removed. As a result you have large stands of rice straw that can make quite a plume of smoke.

I was on highway 164 in Missouri heading West back to Paragould when I came upon a huge plume of smoke rising into the late afternoon sky. It was quite spectacular so I shot a little video. Then in a field next to me there were combines working cutting the rice in that field so I got a little view of that. For what it is worth here is the video. video

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Power Flush Commodes

The talk at work turned to air assisted flush commodes. The type you see in shopping malls which are supposed to use less water yet get rid of the contents so you don't see those embarrassing telltale dark streaks on the sides of the bowl. You know, no one is going to know who caused their appearance unless they happen to follow you into the stall. Besides, what are they going to do, leave in disgust, flush the commode again, come out and point an accusing finger at you while you wash your hands and make some crass statement like, "Talk about leaving your mark." I don't think so!

Anyway one person commented that you sure don't want to sit on the commode when that power flush activates, anything loose might get snapped up. Immediately I encountered a thought about some guy coming out of a commode clutching his privates because the scrotum got snapped down to the trap and back again like some mini-bungee cord. I made the comment that should you be sitting on the commode when you activated that flush you'd want to keep you mouth open so you didn't come away with a permanent pucker of the mouth. It could even make you swallow you false teeth. How about bubble gum, you might blow a bubble out your ass in the negative pressure environment.

So ended another productive day at work.

Precision in Speaking

When I deliver training or speak in public now days I find myself wanting to be precise in my word use. For example, I do not say gonna, I say going to. I do not say shoulda, I say should have. It is one of the areas I feel critical of Sen. Obama. To me using shoulda, woulda, coulda type speech patterns is sloppy and lazy. I would expect better polish from a Harvard grad.

The Center of the Universe

I hate that my digestive tract has become the center of my universe. In a year and one half I have had a bowel resection, my gall bladder removed, and this past June a small bowel obstruction. As a result I have become gun shy. If I don't have some form of BM every day I begin to worry about an obstruction. If I get gas pains in my abdominal area I begin to worry about obstruction. I learned that if you have an obstruction it is like blocking the end of a straw filled with liquid, nothing is going to come out. So now when I pass gas I am relieved the system is functioning. I find myself thinking about what I eat as being a contributor to an upset system, a cranky system or an obstructed system. I talked to my daughter Kristi this past June when I came through her city on my way back to Arkansas. I made the statement that I hoped I wasn't going to become and old man obsessed with bowel activity. Her response, "Too late Dad!" You know, this fixation adds a whole new dimension to the old childhood saying, Holy Shit!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Buzz of Chainsaws

Sunday morning at 11:30 AM is not a time for chainsaws. However this morning we wake to find that tropical depression Ike move past us in the night. We've received about 1/2 inch of rain, but we did get some blowing wind. At our home we did encounter a little damage. One pine tree with a divided trunk split away part of the trunk and a fairly large portion of the pine tree is down. It is a tree that Terry and I planted about 19 years ago. The rest of the tree is OK, but it will have to regrow some.

The rental property did sustain some damage. We had a pretty large Weeping Willow. I had been noticing that one of the major limbs was looking like it was dying, but the entire tree blew over last night. The tree was uprooted. A decorative tree near the home had some large limbs broken down, but the tree itself was OK.

In the neighborhood a house at the end of our private drive had a portion of his fence blown down. Along the south side of his home some fairly large Bradford Pears were down and blown up against the house. Across Fairview a home had a large part of a tree at the corner of the house down and leaning against the home. I could not tell if there was any structural damage, but it didn't appear so. The ground is littered with leaves, small dead limbs, and other debris. The cover I had over my tiller down by the garden is gone, on first pass I cannot find it so who knows where that went.

Other than that, it is 71 degrees, the sun has broken out and it will be a fine day. Not so for Texas and parts of Louisiana. We are fortunate, Ike swept down some dead twigs, we have power and everything is fine. Elsewhere there is devastation and misery. We went shopping this morning and are going to prepare a wonderful pork chop and fried apple dinner. God is good!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11 7th Year

I turned on TV this morning to check out the news and Hurricane Ike. I had seen on the CNN website that the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial was going to be dedicated, but I did not realize how complete the coverage would be. The program at the Pentagon was beginning when we began watching. A powerful image of a regal ceremonial piper spread across the screen as he slow marched between the memorial benches playing Amazing Grace. Tears welled in my eyes as well as my wife's. Then he halted and played a hymn that was hauntingly lovely. Finally he slow marched behind the temporary stage to the final strains of Amazing Grace.

We were reminded by the announcers that the benches that line "The Park" were in memory of those killed at that site. 184 benches, one for each person killed. Depending on the way the benches faced denoted if they were killed on the aircraft or in the building.

In New York City the names were being read of every victim of the Twin Towers. In Pennsylvania a memorial was held for the heroes of the aircraft who crashed the plane into the countryside by attacking the hijackers. One mission was not successful, but some wonderfully brave citizens paid the ultimate sacrifice.

I am touched deeply by those events. The heroism displayed on all fronts, the desperate attempt to rescue victims, the final act of heroism by the passengers of the hijacked aircraft all speak to a higher level of human response to threat and attack. I cannot imagine the fear and anguish felt by hundreds trapped in the floors above the airplane crash sites on the Twin Towers when they knew there was no salvation. I find it amazing that hundreds of firemen would rush into the building, receiving the last rites from their Chaplin on the way in. I find it almost overwhelming to think of the passengers on the hijacked aircraft collectively coming to a decision that pretty much recognized they were not going to get out of their situation alive but that at least by doing something they had a chance, or would thwart the aims of the terrorists. The heroism of the people at ground zero at the Pentagon is equally amazing.

An old quote says these were the worst of times, they were the best of times. I salute those heroes. As John McCain said, I am in awe of their heroism and in debt to their service. God Bless all of the victims of the 9/11 attacks.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Its Time for Politics

I've come to dislike the National election periods every four years. It makes liars out of all the candidates. I no longer believe any statements they make, I no longer trust any information that is disseminated by the news media. Political expediency and the compelling ambition that leads to anything is fair in politics have made me distrust all candidates. So how do you make up your mind. The only method that makes sense to me is to look in the past. I will try to examine their history, not their political history but their personal history. What have they done? How have they behaved? Perhaps in the past there may be a clue to who might make the best president, it sure isn't in what is being said now.