Sunday, November 30, 2008

So Far, It's Magic

Regular readers know the new place has really bad cell reception. I think I’ve solved the problem – The Magic Jack.

You plug the device into a USB port on your computer, it auto-installs. You plug a phone into it. Register on the company’s website and get a phone number (you choose from a long list of area codes). You are now in business.

The device is $40 plus $20 a year for service. After that, domestic local and long distance calls are free. It’s portable, you can plug it into any computer and any phone and make calls. It supports 911, Caller ID, call forwarding and all the other typical stuff. It even sends you an Email when you get a voicemail. The call quality is good.

I still probably won’t answer the phone at night, but I now have one if needed.

Friday, November 28, 2008

I'm Sure I'm Missing Something

Stephon Marbury “plays” for the NBA’s New York Knicks. He is paid $21 million a year, about $190,000 a game.

He has pretty much sat the bench for the season, I gather due to a dispute with the coach.

The Knicks have been short on players lately due to trades and injuries. Before a recent game, the coach “asked” him to play and he declined.

On Wednesday, according to Marbury, the coach “asked” him to play and he declined. According to the coach, he told him to play and he declined.

So, he’s been suspended for a game.

The subtle difference between ask and tell aside, what the hell is this? Some quick Google research shows that Marbury is in the last year of his contract. The Knicks hired a new coach before the season. Marbury hadn’t gotten along with the last coach, Isaiah Thomas (who was fired over the summer) and didn’t play much last season. The new guy flat didn’t play him this year until the injuries resulted in “asking” and telling.”

If I were the owner of the Knicks, I know I’d be looking for a way to dump Marbury and I’d have found it long before now.

Black Friday Potpourri

I have not been out to the stores today, nor will I be going (other than to go to the T-Mobile Store to replace the SIM card in the new phone which I hope will turn the rectangle into a phone again).

With the wonder of the Internet, I’ve made money already this morning while lying on the couch. A client sent an Email and we’ve talked back and forth a couple of times through the ether about the problem.

I hope to do my part to stimulate the economy today if the HVAC guy shows up to find out why the furnace, though humming, is not providing any heat.

I have roast chicken, dressing, acorn squash, asparagus and pumpkin pie sitting in the refrigerator. I vow to actually eat the leftovers. No problem on the chicken, dressing and pie. We’ll see about the squash and asparagus.

I went into a Circuit City store on Wednesday. It was a bit disconcerting. There was plenty of stuff, but with odd gaps in the line of flat panel TV’s and computers. Plenty of video games. The employees were strangely chipper.

The local NPR station just went from Morning Edition to classical music. News won’t be back until three this afternoon. Atlanta ought to be big enough to support a music public radio station and a news/public affairs/features NPR station.

Time to trek to T-Mobile.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Something to be Thankful For?

I just turned on the computer and learned that Domino's Pizza has a Thanksgiving special:

The same oven baked sandwiches they've been advertising for months at the same price; but, according to the subject line on the push Email, they're Thanksgiving Savings.

Are the Feds Running a Scam?

Remember, the $700 billion bailout and the new program, for student, credit card and auto loans with a price tag that keeps changing daily, bailout both require money. The Feds don’t have any money. They have the choice of borrowing or printing or both.

At a point doesn’t the well have to run dry? Even the Chinese, the Feds’ recent creditor of choice, are running their own bailout.

The thinking on this new credit bailout seems to be that we have to give people money to spend so they start buying crap again. I’m of two minds on the student loans, the credit card and auto loan bailouts seem insidious though. Never mind that too many people don’t have any savings and their retirement funds have shrunk. Make credit available to them and they’ll start acting stupidly again, spending money they don’t really have for stuff they don’t really need.

Hasn’t consumer credit dried up for a good reason – that too many people weren’t able to pay it off and the lenders were losing money? So the government should step in and give the lenders more money to give to people who can’t pay it back?

Isn’t this what ACORN was supposed to have facilitated with the sub-prime mess? Lend money to people who can’t pay it back? Aren’t those ACORN people evil? It works for awhile as more money goes in to the scheme and then the investor (here the Feds and their backers – us) gets burned.

I’m beginning to think that we need to do some major economic triage.

Auto industry, let the strongest survive. If GM is going under, let it and let other car companies buy up the assets, stiffing the creditors, a long and honored tradition of bankruptcy law. Do you really think there won’t be cars to buy if GM dies? Yeah, there will be some, a lot of, auto workers out of jobs. We can spend a shit pot full of money for unemployment and retraining benefits before we get anywhere near the numbers we are talking about spending now on the new bailout.

Consumer credit, cut it back and let the economy adjust. More unemployment yes; but, in the long run less money wasted by helping just the unemployed rather than companies selling crap.

I’m glad I’m not Obama. I can opine away here at Rather Than Working with no consequences. He’s got to have a clue. I hope he does.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Walking Small and Hosea Williams

The two don’t have much to do with each other other than that I thought about both when thinking about doing a post.

First, I’m going to miss the outgoing Sheriff of Clayton County, Georgia. For those of you that don’t know the background, Google "Victor Hill." “Walking Small” (Buford Pusser coupled with the fact that Victor is vertically challenged) has spent a colorful four years in office.

His first day he fired a bunch of deputies, marching them out of the building with snipers on the roof. That cost the County a couple of million dollars.

He refused to allow Clayton Police detectives to interview jail inmates for a period of time because he was fighting with the Chief of Police.

He was sued for false imprisonment by the brother of the former sheriff and lost to the tune of a few hundred thousand dollars.

He ran a roadblock in front of a strip club to harass it; unfortunately it was in the City of Forest Park, where he had no jurisdiction to enforce the law. He got sued.

Speaking of being sued, I ran his name through the federal court database for lawsuits. He was a party in 29.

As of a couple of weeks ago, after being defeated, he hadn’t appeared at work according to the media.

I’d predicted to friends that he’d do at least one more stupid thing before January. It’s looking like I’m wrong.

As I said, I’m going to miss him.

The second topic, you might want to think about some of the outfall from the economy that is just starting to make the news.

We used have a guy in Atlanta named Hosea Williams. He was a second tier civil rights icon. He was on the Atlanta City Council and in the Georgia Legislature. He was what many would call a colorful character. You can read about him here. For years, he did a Thanksgiving meal for the poor here in Atlanta. His daughter has carried on the tradition.

A news story this morning said that the event was very short on donations and was cutting back on what it would be able to do.

I’m not a big fan of one-day charity; I don’t think it really does much other than provide a media event. That said, I’ve heard other stories of charities and non-profits not doing well this year given the woes we all face.

So, if you’ve got a buck or two that’s not committed to anything essential; and, you want to do something good for someone, look around you, there are people out there that could use your help.

It can be as simple as some change or a buck in the pot of the Salvation Army volunteer at the mall. A toy for a tot. Got some canned goods that are going to expire soon? You have a local food bank. Someone told me a few years ago that they instituted a gift from Santa for each of the kids that went to a charity that the kids had to pick. You get the idea.

And, if I’ve sparked a bit of emotion, guess what? Following up on my suggestion will make you feel really good.

If I don’t post before Thursday, enjoy the holiday and give some thanks for what you’ve got however much or little it is.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Media Obsession Prediction

Way back when, Andrew Jackson invited common people into the White House.

In more modern times, Richard Nixon had Checkers and “Pat’s cloth coat.”

Jimmy Carter famously carried his own garment bag over his shoulder when getting off of Air Force One and ordered the temperature in government buildings raised and lowered to save energy.

Jackie Kennedy was adored and Nancy Reagan was berated for wearing designer dresses to their husbands’ inaugurations and getting donations for redoing the White House in a more “elegant” style.

One president, I don’t recall whom, served British royalty hot dogs.

We love and hate our serial royalty, the progression of Presidents and their families. The theme is always a variation on how plebian or patrician the incumbent's style is.

In evidence this go-around: the presidential puppy and the kids’ choice of school. We haven’t had kids in the White House since Chelsea Clinton; so, the new kids will be battered by attention. (One good thing Chelsea’s parents did during their tenure was to shield her from the media.)

The Obamas chose a private school and want a “shelter saved” puppy. Obama wears $1,500 suits and bemoans the need for his long time barber to come to him for a trim now.

I’m looking forward to the inevitable carping about the inauguration plans. Obama vows to take no corporate contributions for the inaugural balls! Liberal wing of the party snubbed in inauguration invitations! Fat Cats favored over the People! Former ACORN operative says she will accept her invitation!

Let the games begin!

Friday, November 21, 2008

I Just Discovered a New Use for a Smart Phone ...

at least for me.

I’m planning a Thanksgiving dinner and listed it out in a Word document with the ingredients I don’t have after each dish. I just sent it as an attachment to the Google phone - instant shopping list.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Remember when ...

the Federal Reserve would raise or lower the interest rate a quarter point and everything would be OK for awhile?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Big Rick Drinks Foreign Beer!

As of today, Budweiser is owned by InBev, located in Belgium. Yes, his beloved Bud will still be brewed in Cartersville, Georgia, for now, with its "born on" date proudly displayed.

But, Rick's a Buy America kind of guy. Is he going to send a chunk of his disposable income in Belgium? Other than starting to patronize micro-breweries, something that's not quite his style, he's going to have to go to Samuel Adams, Pabst (the latter hires out the actual brewing to SAB Miller, headquartered in South Africa) or one of the nine other remaining American-owned large breweries: Red, White and Blue Beers.

I wonder what the ants, the frogs, Louie, Frank, the weasel and the ferret are going to do. Are they and the Clydesdales packing up for a boat ride to Belgium?

Rick, I'm feeling for you!

Abeed al-beit

The title means house slave in Arabic. As reported by the Associated Press, Ayman al-Zawahri of al-Qaida says that's what Barack Obama is. The English subtitles for his speech translated the term as house negro. He also applied the label to Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, while praising Malcolm X who used a similar term for black leaders that didn't stand up to whites in the Sixties.

I guess that takes some of the shine off of the Messiah label.

Putting aside American race relations, it's probably a good thing that Al-Qaida isn't enamored with Obama. It also seems to lay to rest some of the fears of the Right here in America that an Obama presidency will pander to terrorists; even if he were to try, they don't seem to want to play ball.

And, maybe that's the point of this post.

There isn't any way that Obama can cozy up to the bad guys, be they al-Qaida, the Taliban, Iran or North Korea. Talk about the naïveté of talking "without preconditions" shows a certain naïveté on the part of the talkers. All of the factors that have led to our current world are still in play.

Bush "looked into" Putin's eyes back in 2001 at the start of his first term as President:

"I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straight forward and trustworthy and we had a very good dialogue.

"I was able to get a sense of his soul."

BBC News, June 16, 2001.

Replacing the "cowboy" with the "house negro" won't change the playing field. Obama as President will not magically end the ethnic, religious and economic underpinnings of the hate and envy we face in the world.

Putin is still around and still is not very trustworthy. All of the rogue states and al-Qaida will be around and still not be very trustworthy 4 or 8 years from now. Obama's task is to craft foreign and domestic policy that recognizes that fact and deals with the reality of protecting our security without wasting time, energy and money trying to spread the gospel of democracy to a world that isn't going to convert.

Insisting on preconditions that presuppose fundamental change in how our adversaries think before we agree to talk to them will decrease our security and waste our diminishing resources.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Stuffing, Dressing and the Makings of Either (and Turkey Breast and Gravy and Green Bean Casserole)

First, stuffing goes in the bird and dressing comes from a pan; though, if you make both at the same meal, it’s all stuffing. You are allowed to differ.

Jim Donahue at The Velvet Blog did a post yesterday on his grandmother’s Thanksgiving stuffing. His family’s tradition is different than that of my family.

Our stuffing went in the bird and spread to pans as the extended family grew. To this day, I’ve never had stuffing made by a relative that didn’t taste exactly like that made by my Mother and Aunts.

Crumbled bread that had been put on racks on the kitchen counters and covered with towels the night before. Salt, pepper, sage, eggs, celery, yellow onion, butter. Mush it up and stuff it in the bird or scoop it into the pan. When the bird’s done, so is the stuffing.

More important is the gravy. There is no such thing as good turkey breast. Even if it isn’t as dry as the desert, the only way to make it edible is to cover it in really good gravy. (It’s kind of like eating grits or rice, it’s all in what you use to make it taste like something good.) The secret to great gravy is using the innards and the neck. Another secret to gravy is to make a lot of it. You’ve got all that white meat, stuffing and mashed potatoes. It even helps the green bean casserole that wasn’t made with enough canned mushroom soup (the secret to “good” green bean casserole). To cover all that stuff you need a bunch of gravy.

Now you are all on the right path. Enjoy or disagree as you see fit.

Monday, November 17, 2008

What Interests, Amuses, Annoys or Outrages Me

That’s the subtitle of the blog. Nada for the last couple of days.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I'm Never, Ever Going to Buy Another Electronic Product

The title probably isn’t true; but, right now I probably mean it.

I’m on my third day with a G1, or Google, phone. My first mistake was buying it within a month of it coming out. It’s buggy. The GPS function quit working. Doing a “factory reset” fixed that. So far, there’s no way to import my Windows Mail address book to the phone and it does not want to fetch Emails from my work and personal domains. The current big problem is that it quit talking to my laptop over the wireless router. I have a full WiFi signal but if I use the browser, without trying to get to the internet, it tells me that every URL is “unavailable.”

I don’t have signal from home. I’m attempting to solve that with a signal booster, which should be here Monday or Tuesday. Alternatively, I’m trying to find out if I can use the wireless router to connect to Skype through the laptop.

OK, this is boring me. Have a good weekend.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Some Local Bad News

Like all governments these days, the City of Atlanta is in a hole. Mayor Franklin just announced that city workers would work 10% less, and be paid 10% less.

I didn’t really think much about it until I talked to my friend who is an Atlanta cop. They and the fire department are included. It just didn’t occur to me that they would be included.

In the event that you didn’t know, both departments are seriously understaffed. My friend says that this cut will speed the retirement of the experienced officers in both departments. Their pensions are based on the their three highest years of earnings: why average in a year that is down by 10%?

My advice, if you live in Atlanta, don’t have a fire, a life threatening accident, a burglary, theft, shooting, etc. in the near term future. You’ve got a pretty good shot at being on your own for a longer period of time.

One exception. The police that work at the airport are paid out of a different fund. They are still fully staffed, paid and getting overtime. If you’ve got a problem, report it from the airport.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

An Open Letter to Georgia Rep. Paul Broun

Yesterday I printed an AP story on what the titled U.S. Representative had to say about the to be President. It seems the good man is back tracking a bit. In news articles he’s saying that he regrets what he said. From

“'The point I tried to make is that he is extremely liberal, he has promoted a lot of socialistic ideas, and it just makes me concerned,' Broun said Tuesday."

I wasn’t going to do a post about this again, I tried to send the good man an Email; but, it seems he doesn’t accept them from outside his district.

So here’s the Email:

Dr. Broun,

With all of the restraint I can muster, you are an idiot.

I could go on about the differences between Socialism, Marxism, Fascism and Liberalism; but, I suspect they would be lost on you. Or would they? Liberalism isn’t a popular word. Even they call themselves Progressives these days.

It probably wouldn’t rouse your rabble if you were left with calling Obama a mere liberal, after all, he is. But the conflicting labels, there you’ve got an idea, absent a linguistic or historical base; but, an idea none-the-less.

Us Americans don’t like those Socialists, Marxists and Fascists. We don’t bother to differentiate among them. We just know that we fought all of them in wars. They must be bad, different bad maybe, but bad all the same.

Education doesn’t solve all ills as evidenced by the fact that you have an M.D. What very much worries me is that among the almost fifty million people in America that voted against Obama, there are, I fear, many people that are cheering you on. Genuine, objective opposition I can handle, I have friends and family that oppose the new President.

Stupidity bothers me though. We aren’t talking ignorance here given your education. Stupidity is the only word that describes your comments, unless you have an agenda.

Which brings to mind the classic movie, Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? Remember the guy run out of the hall on the rail? A little shorter and fatter than you are; but, isn’t there a resemblance? Come now, don’t deny it.

Sincerely, not Respectfully,


Up Faster Than Down

I did a post back in September about how gas prices weren’t sliding down as fast as they climbed up when oil hit $145 in July.

Oil is at $59 today with world demand way down and supply way up.

Back in July gas here in Atlanta was about $4.09. Today it’s about $2.05 with a few stations as low as $1.95. But, if I do a ratio of oil and gas prices back in July and today, it should be $1.67 or less a gallon.

For those of you that look at all the technical stuff, OPEC is reducing production a bit which doesn't seem to be maintaining price; and, we are into winter pricing given lower demand and use of less expensive winter blends.So, the price actually should be lower than a strict ration of oil and gas would indicate.

I guess supply and demand does work, with demand working slower than supply when it takes over driving price.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I Love My State

At today:

Ga. congressman calls Obama Marxist, warns of dictatorship

The Associated Press

Monday, November 10, 2008

WASHINGTON — A Republican congressman from Georgia is calling President-elect Obama a Marxist and warning that he might be planning to form a Gestapo-like security force so he can rule as a dictator.

Two-term Rep. Paul Broun of Athens cited a July speech that has circulated on the Internet in which Obama called for a civilian force to take some of the national security burden off the military.

Broun said he was not fear mongering but wants to warn people that the nation could be going down that path. His comments came in a Monday telephone interview with The Associated Press after he called Obama a Marxist at a Rotary Club meeting in his district over the weekend.

A Short Lesson: How to Strip Speaker Wire

When I moved, I installed the speakers for the home theater around the living room. It was a pain and I didn’t do it well.

Over the weekend, I pull apart a spliced wire to the left front speaker. So yesterday I sat for about a half hour and tried to re-strip the wire to provide a good contact. I don’t have a wire-stripping tool and am not going to buy one. So I played with a knife, scissors and some pliers.

I then had a moment of inspiration. How to strip the insulation off of speaker wire: burn it off with a lighter. It takes about thirty seconds per wire, including scraping off the residue. A bit smelly; but, it works.

Guest Post: The Importance of Knowing Your Rights in Tough Economic Times

Sergei Lemberg is a lawyer who specializes in automotive lemon law. He was kind enough to put one of my posts on his blog, Lemon Justice. So, he's sitting in the guest blogger’s chair today:

With the federal government bailing out Wall Street, it’s natural for people to be frustrated and angry about the impact that this “rescue package” will – or will not – have on the financial struggles they’re facing. What many people don’t realize is that there are existing laws can help ease their economic burden.

For example, if you bought a car in the past year or two, it may be tough to find the money to make payments. If that car turns out to be defective, you’re faced with a double whammy – car payments and repair bills. Thankfully, every state in the U.S. has what’s called a “lemon law,” designed to protect consumers who have unknowingly purchased defective vehicles.

Although every state law is different, common themes run through them. New cars are always covered (though the definition of “new” varies), and motorcycles, RVs, and used cars are sometimes covered. There’s also a time frame involved (for example, the defects have to occur within the first two years or 24,000 miles), and a required number of repair attempts (three times for the same problem, for example).

If you think that your vehicle may qualify as a lemon under your state’s law, it’s important to know your rights and stand up for yourself. When you do, you could qualify for a refund, a replacement vehicle, or a financial settlement. Consulting a lemon law attorney shouldn’t cost you a penny, since most states require that the automaker pay for consumers’ legal costs.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Unions, Business, Democrats, Republicans and Obama

Obama was the beneficiary of strong support by unions. They are now gearing up to be the beneficiaries of passage of one of Obama’s campaign promises: The Employee Free Choice Act (Card Check Law).

Some quick research (Google) gives the mechanics of the law. Workers in a company would be unionized once they got a majority of votes on cards distributed by the organizing union. I gather the process is “Joe, check here for the union.” If Joe checks (or doesn’t check the card) his vote is immediately known. The election becomes a public, one-to-one process, ending only at the point of majority – there’s no cut-off date.

The union and the company then negotiate a contract. If there isn’t an agreement in 90 days, the parties mediate for thirty days. No agreement, and the dispute is decided by binding arbitration.

Details from the AFL-CIO point of view are here. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce viewpoint is found here. Neither viewpoint will solve any of the economic problems we face.

I’ve been an employee and an employer, though I’ve never been in a union.

A couple of anecdotes to illustrate my views:

In my twenties I worked for a large insurance company. It had all of the then current fringe benefits, health and disability insurance, liberal vacations, pension contribution matching, etc. I had gotten quick promotions while doing the same job. Why? The company had an elaborate employee manual. You got raises on a regular basis based on a lock-step system of titles. The only way around the lock-steps was to be promoted. So, since my superiors liked what I was doing, I got “promoted,” got more money and did the same thing.

There was no union, and at one point there was an organizational attempt. The union organizer promoted the union as the way to get what us workers “deserved.” I asked what we deserved above what we were getting and how I would get my “promotions” under an adversarial company/union system. He didn’t have much to say.

More recently, the law firm in which I was a partner, received a complaint based on not paying overtime as required by federal law. All staff were non-exempt employees under the Federal Labor Standards Act. The complaint was based on the staff member not being paid overtime two or three times over a year’s period of time. No mention was made of the fact that the firm didn’t worry about hour and a half lunches, coming in late or leaving early based on need, etc. as long as the work was getting done.

The firm went through the pay records, identified where we had underpaid and wrote a sizable check to settle the case. The firm then republished the work rules, when you had to be there, when you could leave, made clear that lunch was an hour, that personal time would be charged as such, all required by FSLA. The complaining staff member’s fellow staff members ostracized her. Their good thing had been screwed up.

I’m not a fan of “one size fits all” treatment of people. I’ve probably been lucky that I’ve never had a job that pitted me against an unyielding, monolithic, faceless management. Maybe my views would be different if I had.

But note that the insurance company and the law firm that I write about weren’t bad places to work. “Management” and the “workers” accommodated each other. The company and the firm made money and the owners and workers got a pretty fair share.

But, it seems to me that Obama and other Democrats are aligning themselves with unions that are making the same mistakes that the Republican party and American business have been making for some time now, ignoring the reality of a changing world economy.

The car companies are clamoring for a bailout to save themselves from their bad business practices, many related to the stupidity of their adversarial relationships with unions.

A few more trillion in bailouts won’t save an economy that isn’t sustainable. Union election rules that perpetuate an adversarial relationship between management and workers that hasn’t worked for the last thirty years won’t save us either. Governments have the false luxury of not having to pay as they go. Companies and workers have to have something to sell that people want at a price they will pay that results in a surplus – profit. If they don’t follow that model, they are living in a house of cards. Companies and workers are going the way of government, trying their best to return to the good old days when the house of cards looked sturdy.

I hope Obama follows through on his promise for change. Support of the Card Check Law and serial business bailouts isn’t the way to do it.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

First Chili Night of the Season

It’s going down to the high Thirties in the morning; so, it’s time for Chili.

Mine is Chili con Carne. I wanted to do it with chuck roast; but, Kroger didn’t have any. So it has ground chuck.

At this point, it is simmering as I add spices. More chili powder, pepper, garlic. I’m thinking a bit more cumin at the finish.

One bowl tonight, then into the refrigerator to make it twice as good tomorrow.

Friday, November 07, 2008

A Small Critique

President-elect Obama had a news conference today. This post isn’t about the consulting with all of the living ex-presidents/Nancy Reagan gaffe or the puppy thing.

Soon to be Presidents don’t need a backdrop of hanger-ons, even soon to be Vice Presidents and Chiefs of Staff. Backdrops of unnecessary officials are for candidates, police chiefs and union leaders. Presidents and Presidents-elect have a podium, some red, white and blue and a flag.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

I Don't Get It

I did a post yesterday about California's passage of Proposition 8, which amends the state's constitution to bar gay marriage.

I then found out that Florida and Arizona passed similar measures.

CA: 5.3 mil./4.8 mil (52%/48%)

FL: 4.7 mil./2.8 mil (62%/38%)

AZ: 1 mil./800 K (56%/44%)

(As an aside, these measures speak to the wisdom of the U.S. Constitution's requirement that you get two-thirds of the states to vote to amend the Constitution. 50% plus one is not a good idea when you are changing the basic governing document of a society. (Florida requires 60% which the measure got.))

As the title of the post says, I don't get it. I've touched on this issue a couple of times in the
past. Being a lawyer, my first instinct is to look to the law for guidance; but, it probably isn't too helpful.

"Equal protection" under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments probably isn't going to get it, as gay people aren't a "protected class."

The First Amendment could be promising: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…." The trouble is that we know that Congress and state legislatures CAN limit the free exercise of religion and CAN allow the promotion of religion - Mormon men can't have more than one wife, Muslims can't always stop work to pray when their religion calls for it, government can post the Ten Commandments if it surrounds the plaque with the Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, etc., you can have a nativity scene in the public park if you throw in a menorah, the list goes on.

Let me back up here to look at "marriage" as a religious institution. Marriage probably is best thought of as a religious institution. But whose religion? Should we go back to allowing Mormons to have multiple spouses? Should wives be chattel as they are in some religions?

The only solution is to get government out of the marriage business. Government issues a license for two people to cohabitate. Those two people then have the relationship "blessed" in any way they see fit. They can call the relationship anything they want to call it. Government regulates the civil aspects of the relationship based on public welfare, safety and health concerns; and, the couple and their community regulate the social aspects of the relationship.

Now government treats each couple and each religion equally and has more time to address the matters it should be involving itself in. Is this going to happen? No, see the numbers of people above that think that government should be involved in religion. But it should happen.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Obama Won Yesterday, Equality in California Lost

For all of you who fear that President-elect Obama is a flaming liberal, he wasn’t in favor of flaming or just plain gays or lesbians who wanted to marry each other. California’s vote to pass a state constitutional amendment to bar a marriage between two men or two women won yesterday.

Just what are people afraid of?

There’s a way to go.

Election Commentary

Here's part of an hour's worth of surfing this morning:

From John McCain

"These are difficult times for our country. And I pledge to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face.

I urge all Americans ... I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.

I wish Godspeed to the man who was my former opponent and will be my president. And I call on all Americans, as I have often in this campaign, to not despair of our present difficulties, but to believe, always, in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here.
Americans never quit. We never surrender.

We never hide from history. We make history."

From Debo

"I stand corrected. Thank you U.S. for proving me wrong."

From Fermi

"Here's to the millions of people who helped make history. Yes we can!"

From Doc

"History was indeed made last night. For the first time, the President of the United States will be younger than I am.Let us celebrate now, for a lot of work lies ahead in restoring responsible government in Washington, as well as restoring the public's trust."

From Ron

"I can't believe how relieved I feel. The 8 years of madness - the 8 years of 'is this really my country?' feeling I had watching the Bush administration. For tonight, at least, it is gone."

From Jim

"Wow. That is all."

From Thomas

"My Friend L: Dude, you're in the paper!

Me: Me? What did I do?

My Friend L: They printed the precinct results, and Nader only got one vote in the whole county. That was you, right?Um, yeah. It was."

From Kvatch

“'[I'm] putting this in God’s hands that the right thing for America will be done at the end of the day on November 4th."

— Republican Vice Presidential Candidate, Sarah Palin, 2008/10/22

'Just checkin in with ya on this one Sarah…you know, before we call it a night.'

— Kvatch, 2008/11/04, 9:10 PM, Pacific Standard Time"

And from me

Many of us did not get what we wanted yesterday, a few more many did. Now, for an outcome that benefits all of us, comes the hard part. Senator Obama used his "Yes we can" refrain in his speech last night. For him to be right, his party, the Republicans and all of the rest of us have to do something we aren't too good at other than in times of crisis: work together for the common good. Not snipe, not posture for the 2010 elections, not conduct investigations and hold hearings on the Bush Administration's failings and wrong-doing (though they would be richly deserved).

Am I naïve, Pollyannaish? I hope not.

Finally, from Barack Obama

"This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were.

It can't happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other.


In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let's resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.

Let's remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity.

Those are values that we all share. And while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress.

As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection."

I hope we can.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Bed Finale

I’ve slept on the bed for the past two nights.


Bed, center support, slats: $270 or so.

Doctor, X-ray, boot for my foot and drugs (out of network): about $240.

I’m not counting gas for all of the trips.

Damned expensive cheap bed.

Sunday, November 02, 2008


We have small, medium, large, extra large and so on.

In womens’ sizes we have petite, etc.

Those I understand, other than the part about a large isn’t necessarily a large, depending on what you are buying.

What I don’t understand is number sizing. How do we get halves? I’m not talking about inches, a 16 ½” neck is what it is. An inseam and an arm length are what they are. But, who figured out a size 10 shoe? They screwed up. If they hadn’t, we wouldn’t have size 10 ½ shoes.

It’s got to be the original person. They didn’t think it through.

Saturday, November 01, 2008


A good friend, very smart, of a conservative frame of mind, told me today he’s bought a gun in the event that McCain pulls out a win. He was serious.

If he thinks like this, this country is in a world of hurt.

I Endorse Barack Obama

And, I voted for him yesterday.

There, I’ve said it. For months I’ve said to my temporal friends, and written a bit to my cyber friends, that I could never vote for Senator McCain and, when she came along, Governor Palin. I couldn’t. But, I honestly wasn’t ready to vote for Obama.

I’d love to sit this election out, vote for the Libertarian candidate. That cop-out, that I’ve been taking for the last three national elections, is foreclosed for two reasons. I know a bit too much about Bob Barr and could never vote for him. More importantly, I live in Georgia. My state doesn’t matter. Better said, it hasn’t mattered in a national election since Jimmy.

This year it seems that it may. So I can’t throw away my vote. Yet, I cannot cast it unless I believe that I am doing the right thing.

Some history for you. Despite what my conservative friends say, I am an objective, independent person. I’ve never been and I don’t think I will ever be a member of a political party, as none that I’ve seen has a perfect slate whose lever should be pulled (I’ve never actually seen such a voting machine, for you younger people, read a book or do a Google search). I’m eclectic in my voting choices. McGovern, Ford, Carter, the Libertarian, Clinton, the Libertarian, the Libertarian, the Libertarian.

That brings us back to this year. It is time to not cast a protest vote.

I don’t believe all of what Obama says, as eloquently as he says it. I actually don’t think he is as radical as he has been portrayed or as he has talked. He is a pragmatic politician, Bill Clinton without some of the character flaws. He cut his teeth in Chicago politics.

He is a very intelligent person. You don’t get to be the president of the Harvard Law Review if you are a dullard (nor do you get admitted to the law school). I am prejudiced in favor of smart.

I could give you a litany of social reasons why I’m going to vote for him. I could list some of my reservations about some of what he, coupled with a totally liberal congress could do. I won’t. Instead, here is why it is time to vote for Obama.

He is, and I hate to say this, the Tiger Woods of American politics. Tiger is the cultural descendent of Muhammad Ali. Stay with me here.

Tiger was a prodigy that delivered on the hype. He had smarts, physical ability and an enormous talent. More importantly he had, and has the will to use his smarts, physicality and talent to become the best golfer in the history of the game, see that he needed to change the way he played to remain the best player, a couple of times, and then, last year, play a major tournament with a serious injury and win.

Ali was the forerunner of what I just said about Tiger with an attitude attributable to his era, the Sixties.

Tiger and Ali have another quality. They aren’t any one thing. Ali is a black man though he became early on, and remains, a world man. Tiger is a mix of races and cultures. Black and, I believe, Tai.

Obama with his racial and cultural diversity and his studied, practical bent is uniquely qualified to deal with the world we face.

Most of us are one thing, not really, but we see ourselves and each other as a “something.” I’m white, middle-aged, upper middle class. I could add a few more categories. Most of you reading this, will categorize yourself.

Ali, Tiger and his generation, and I think, Obama don’t see themselves that way. We don’t live in America any more. We live in the world. What we do affects the rest of the world, it always has. More recently we’ve learned that what the rest of the world does, affects us.

Obama understands that last part. I don’t think McCain does. I’m sure that Palin does not.

It is time to pass the torch from the generation of people that are older than me to the generation of people that are younger than me. I’m quite happy to skip my generation, to a generation of people that see themselves as a part of the world, not needing to defend themselves from the world.

I’m not talking about terrorists. I’m talking about rational people in the world dealing with each other rationally on economic and security issues, together protecting themselves from irrational terrorists. I’m talking about people who are willing to talk to those that oppose them “without preconditions.” The alternative to talking is fighting. If the talking doesn’t work, and you are steadfast in your view, then fight. But throwing a punch first is not the way to win the hearts and minds of people around the world, the people that live and die with you economically and socially.

John McCain doesn’t understand that, Barack Obama does.

For those of you on the fence, take a shot at a fresh, intelligent, modern thinker. Stale, plodding, mid-twentieth century non-thinkers have not done us well, security-wise or economically.

It is indeed time for change, not the change that Obama advertises; but for the change that he may well bring. An America that doesn’t rail against those that are different, those that seem to be economically ascendant. Rather, an America that participates in an inevitable world economy that needs security against those that would try to destroy all of us.

Is Obama the messiah? No. But he is the best choice for the world we have just recently found ourselves living in.