The Gross National Debt

Monday, January 31, 2011

Tuesday's posting today

I admit it. I enjoyed writing this column WAY more than usual.

Seriously. This is was ONE FUN COLUMN to research and write.

So Zee Topic Du Jour - What’s in your mouth?

Do you really know what’s in the meat you eat?

No, you don’t. Some of you are gonna quit reading right here. Is OK. You can’t handle the truth I imagine.

[and my head threatens to split from the wide grin I’m sporting]

Provided you are still with me (Nick, Sue and others), I shall lead you on a journey of discovery to find out what you are eating.

Just like in the pending Taco Hell lawsuit, which states the “meat” in TH’s taco’s are not “meat” but a whole bunch of other stuff, you really have no idea what’s in the meat you eat.

Smile when you eat that meat.

Unless you are like me and eat organic meat. You just have to shoot it first. And it comes wrapped in fur, feathers and hide, not cling wrap.

Enough already.

What’s your meat?


Chicken (to include all manner of fowl sold at grocery stores)?


I leave out meats like rabbit, goat and other “speciality” meats.

First question: Do you trust the government? Ahahahahahaahahchokegaspwheeze. Sorry. Carried away there.

Anyway, the United States Department of Agriculture (IUSDA) is responsible for inspecting meat. Ripping straight from the USDA website, the same people who’ve let all manner of contaminated food come into the US such as cyanide-laced grapes, contaminated peppers, tomatoes, spinach and strawberries: “FSIS randomly samples cattle at slaughter and tests for residues.”

Randomly. Samples.

[oooooo I’m having face cramps now]

Get ahold of an “inspector” some day and get him smashed to the point where he will tell you the truth about what is going on.

Ahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Ooo Cracked a rib with one I’m afraid.

Anyway, BEEF is defined as “meat from full-grown cattle about 2 years old.” No surprise.

Ground beef (aka hamburger) is “a maximum of 30% fat is allowed in either hamburger or ground beef. Both hamburger and ground beef can have seasonings, but no water, phosphates, extenders, or binders added.”

Sounds OK? Chopped cow head anyone?  “When beef cheek meat (trimmed beef cheeks) is used in the preparation of chopped or ground beef, the amount of such cheek meat shall be limited to 25 percent; and if in excess of natural proportions, its presence shall be declared on the label, in the ingredient statement required by Sec. 317.2 of this subchapter, if any, and otherwise contiguous to the name of the product.”
And what's on your plate?

“Beef cheek” is not defined by the USDA but it is meat carved off the head, cheeks, a bit of the throat, probably the tongue, although tongue is unlikely since it is considered a premium meat and si sold as beef tongue at prices similar to t-bone steak.

But as we saw in the TH lawsuit “according to USDA standards, a beef mixture served by businesses must contain at least 40% beef in ordered to be labeled as such, and the lawsuit alleges (with some evidence) that their taco mixture only contains 36% beef.” Regardless, if the McBurger you eat is supposed to be 40 percent beef, what’s the other 60 percent? Hrmmm? TH adds “silicon dioxide” to their mix. Silicon dioxide is probably better known as “sand.”

I guess they REALLY put the “sand” in “sandwich” MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHA

Go on? But of course.

What about those “meats” which contain beef byproduct.

USDA definition: “Meat Byproduct - Any part capable of use as human food, other than meat, which has been derived from one or more cattle, sheep, swine, or goats. This term, as applied to products of equines, shall have a meaning comparable to that provided in this paragraph with respect to cattle, sheep, swine, and goats.”
OK. You tell me. What's in it? G'head. I'll wait.

Brains anyone? Think not? Look at the picture at the top of this column. Pork Brains. It is a food item, sold in grocery stores and consumed by people. It can be added and is added. Betcha.

Equine, in case you are wondering, is a horse. [pounds on the desk laughing so hard I’m crying]

PORK - no surprise. Dead pig. Bacon, in case you are wondering, is made from the belly - not the stomach as that is tripe (see meat byproduct above) but the muscle.

Sausage? “Fresh sausages are a coarse or finely "comminuted" (reduced to minute particles) meat food product prepared from one or more kinds of meat, or meat and meat "byproducts" (heart, kidney, or liver, for example).”

And you DO know what “natural” sausage casing is? Right? Yes?
Graphic aid to help you quit wondering.

Let’s completely skip the idea of hotdogs eh?

CHICKEN? If you get it in recognizable parts, it’s chicken. What it was treated with before you got your hands on it…

 If you get it in “nuggets” or other processed meat-like substances you get chicken by products. See above.

A video.
This AIN'T bubble gum ... although that could be added to it.

Ever been in a meat processing facility? I didn’t think so.

So what CAN be added to meat these days?

Lemme break out a definition out for you:

Filmforming agent - “A food additive, which when applied to the external surface of a food, imparts a shiny appearance or provides a protective coating.” Where else do you find filmforming agents? Hair spray, skin lotion and nail polish.

Yes, yes, yes, if you follow the link you’ll find this disclaimer on things like “filmforming agent.”: “Although residuals might carry over to the final food, residuals must not have any health effect.” I ask again, do you trust the government?

What else? Pop an eyeball -

Ah heck, how about we just FORGET all about this additive, derivative stuff, what is and what ain’t and get right down to it.

“Beef containing harmful pesticides, veterinary antibiotics and heavy metals is being sold to the public because federal agencies have failed to set limits for the contaminants or adequately test for them, a federal audit finds.”

Where do these “contaminants” come from? The feed lots and the folks raising and procession the critters.

A typical cut of meat from a store.

So feel free to be ill when I tell you I’m gonna chow some bison steak, some coon jerky or fried rattlesnake. At least I know exactly what I’m eating ‘cause I killed it, butchered it and cooked it.

Unlike you, I know exactly what meat I eat.

You have no idea what you are eating. You just think you do.

If you think your gastric system can handle it, try this.

Or this.

Looking for a life preserver

Are you willing to do what it takes to get the budget balanced, whichever budget that is, federal, state, county, city or your house?


You sure?

That is not a trick question. It is, however, one of the most uncomfortable questions you will be asked, at least if you are truthful.

So before you answer, I'm gonna get personal:

How much have you got set back for retirement? You may have a government pension plan or your company offers a pension plan. Ask the Enron retirees about company pensions. You are aware there is a move afoot to let state governments declare bankruptcy? If that happens state pension plans WILL be on the chopping block.

How much in an emergency savings account?

Ah. Ok.

How much do you spend a month on cell phones, internet and cable/satellite TV?

Shop out of town much?

Still say you are willing to do what is necessary?

Maybe you need to listen to Allen West before you are willing to say you will do what’s necessary to restore fiscal sanity.

Telling quote: “It was a sober discussion with no applause lines and which the audience met mostly with silence. West tried to reassure them.”

Prior to this, West was met with a “standing ovation.”


Our Chamber of Commerce President Shelley Zorn is constantly saying “No one is going to save us, but us.”

How’s your life preserver these days? Will it hold several people? Two people? Will it even keep your head above water?

You may now ask “What does my willingness to do what it takes to get government in order have to do with my personal finances?”

The kind of person you are when you think no one is watching is the person you really are. If you won’t order your personal fiscal house, there’s no way you’ll be willing to make the sacrifices necessary with tax dollars to get government in shape.

A short story - You can take a puppy and put down a bowl of water. The puppy will drink just enough to slake his thirst. Put two (or more) puppies and they will empty the water dish completely. It’s not that they need the water, they are just determined to get as much as they can before the other pupp(ies) get theirs.

Some time back a couple of people in my community raised a bit of hell about government grants. They said these grants must stop. I like it. I also researched a tiny bit on these people.  Just two of the speakers, over the past 12 years, amassed more that $2 million in government grants. Yeah, I have the records.

They are willing to put other people on the chopping block, but not themselves.

Sounds like puppies to me.

It’s also a case of NIMBY. Not In My Back Yard.

Still willing to do what’s necessary, even if it means you’ll be hit harder than some of your neighbors? Gonna happen you know. When the pain comes down, it won’t be spread evenly. Some gonna get more, some gonna get less.

I tellya neighbor, it may not matter if you are willing. Look at Europe, Greece, Spain and other countries which are being hammered because of poor government fiscal policy.

When the bill comes due, you won’t have much of a choice on how and when to pay it. You’ll be told and you will have no recourse for relief.

"When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic."

Friday, January 28, 2011

You can’t say that here

Do you have freedom of speech?

“Yes,” you say.
an excellent government waffle on free speech.

OK, are you willing to accept the personal consequences of that free speech?

“Um, what are you talking about Baker?” you ask.

From the Evil HR Lady (love that nick!): Free speech, not free from consequences speech.  (And remember, it’s only government suppression of speech that is illegal.)

Free speech does not extend to the private sector.

“YES IT DOES,” you yell at me.

Really? Show me where that is in the law or Constitution. Show me case law.

You can’t. It doesn’t exist.

Shaddap already.

Whistleblower laws, upheld by SCOTUS, regard safety issues not straight freedom of speech issues.

You can be fired from your job for the things you say and do.

Myself, I think that is entirely appropriate.

Some of you are boggling over that sentence.

“How can you, a diehard proponent of free speech and personal freedoms, support the right of a company to fire someone because of what they say?” you ask.

Because I believe you should be held accountable for the things you say and do.
Nuf said.

The courts constantly uphold firings over verbal sexual harassment. That’s holding a person accountable for what they say.

“Ummm,” you say.

Because I also believe in the freedom of a company owner and manager to run the business the way they see fit.

If you work for a company, you draw compensation (money) from the business. As such, the business has a right to expect one thing from you:  You will be a productive employee.

Who decides if you are a productive employee?

The company.

If the company decides you are no longer a productive employee, you can be let go. Fired in other words.
Freedom of the press belongs to the man who owns the press. Ya don't like it, ya buys ya own press.

If what you say and do reflects ill upon the company, which you represent by being employed by the company, then are you really being a productive employee?

Why should a company continue to employ someone who does not fit the company policy regarding employee behavior? Why should a company employ someone who belittles the company in public? Why should a company be forced to employ someone who is not productive?

If you don’t like the way the company does business, do not associate with them in any fashion. I do this. I personally boycott a business. I will not enter the building, allow my money to be spent there and I do not allow the business name to appear in my writing and the newspaper I run.

If enough people boycott the business over it’s practices, those practices will change or the business will shut down.

Yes. It is that simple.

I REALLY REALLY like that. Yassee it keeps everything out of the government’s and the court’s hands.

The people decide what is right.

I like it.

Free Speech also means you have the right to keep your damfool mouth shut. Too often too many people forget that part.

Exercising his right to keep his pie hole shut.

The First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The First Amendment also protects the actively stupid. Whether you like it or not.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Wocha want me to do?

I state up front: I detest anonymous sources. I believe the use of anonymous sources by journalists is poor reporting, an invitation to sloppy reporting and a mark of a journalist who is willing to make up information rather than get the real facts. Lie, in other words.

Anonymous Source 1.


I am presently being gently pressured in my community to write a number of extremely critical articles about two or three issues here. Nothing unusual about that. That kind of pressure has been a fact of my working life for more than 20 years. I’m used to it.

Sometimes the story needs to be written. Sometimes it doesn’t.

The times the story doesn’t need to be written is most often when someone has a grudge and wants to get revenge through the newspaper. The other times is when someone is just a lunatic and is convinced radioactive alien ticks have landed and are taking over government.

OK, so that last one is not as farfetched as I’m trying to make it out to be.


Where's Joe Friday when I need him?

More than half the time, there is a real story.

In the case of a real story, I try to dig up facts and people who will speak on the record.

Try, being the operative word.

The problem is I will not use anonymous sources. If I was willing to do that, I could fill 20 pages a week with anonymous sources talking about anything I want to ‘em to talk about. See opening paragraph.

If you want the story in the paper, someone has to speak on the record. In other words, I quote ‘em.

By quoting sources, I give the reader the chance to go to that source and verify the information independently. By quoting a source, I also prove the reliability of the source to comment on the matter at hand.


Google image for "RELIABLE" I like it, so I include it.

Reliability matters. Reliability means the person I quote has knowledge of, information on and is an authority on the subject at hand.

If I write a story on brain surgery, who should I interview? A brain surgeon or a computer technician? If I write a story about computer networking, who should I interview? A computer tech or a brain surgeon?

The same applies to paperwork on a story. A note scribbled on a Post-It is not reliable unless I see the person write the note and the person is reliable.

Paperwork must be able to be traced back to the source, who must then be reliable. Emails fall into this category. I verify emails before I use them as a source.

Lend a fellow primate a hand wudja?

Say I have MOUNDS of off the record interviews and can get a pretty dang thick file of officials records, but I’m not supposed to be able to get those records because of various privacy laws.

So, if no one will speak on the record, do I have a news story? If I can’t get records for whatever reason or I can get them under the table, do I have a story?

What if the story is critical to the welfare and safety of my community and STILL no one will talk on the record?

What do you want me to do? I can go with anonymous sources, which will be hotly denied by those in authority and I’ll be branded a liar. Or I can keep trying and waiting and hoping someone reliable will step up to comment on the record.

What should I do?
Consider it pressed.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Not the gold standard!

The Gold Standard

A lot of people are saying the US should get back on the gold standard. IOW, link the value of the dollar to a certain amount of gold.

This will probably shock a lot of you who read my writings, but I am not in favor of this. I oppose it. Against it. Don’t like the idea. Bad news.

You are now asking why.

Several reasons:


Examine a dollar. You’ll see on it that it is “legal tender for all debts public and private.”

The fact that it can be used for private is what makes the dollar an accepted worldwide currency. (Never mind the fact that private debts can be handled in the US without using money).

The government MUST accept it for settling public debts.


YOU at left. GOVERNMENT at right.

Right now, free market economics determine the value of the US dollar. (Leave the Federal Reserve System out of this discussion for the nonce. This column is predicated on the Fed not being able to print money any time it feels like it.)

This is called value, at least it’s value in the way I do economics.

Value is what something is worth.

Here’s the fulcrum of that statement. Anything is worth whatever someone is willing to give for it.

If you try to sell me something and I do not want or need it, the value of that item is pretty low.

If you have something I must have to live, well now. The value of that item has suddenly soared.

What is priceless to one person is worthless to another.

Gold is just a soft metal. It has no intrinsic value outside itself. A pound of gold is a dead weight.

What adds value to anything?

If you have a pound of gold and I don’t, then what do we have? Nothing yet.

Do I want the gold? If so, what am I willing to pay for it?

Better yet, do I have something you want? If so, how much gold are you willing to give me for it?

What if I’m not willing to take your gold? Then how much is your gold worth?

But this is an inherent problem in all forms of trade.

An EKG, MRI, CAT Scan, Piezometer, Economy or scribbles on paper?

In my lifetime I have seen the value of gold as low as $250 an ounce and hit nearly $1,000 an ounce before tanking to around $250 and then back to nearly $2,000 an ounce.

While the value of the dollar wobbles, it has never seen such incredible shifts in such a short period of time, the value dropping or rising as much a 4x in two months.

The value of gold is far more unstable than the value of the dollar.

Somebody tell BA that L needs a gold mask facial

You can eat gold, but it has no nutritional value. A starving man would trade a pound of gold for a hamburger.

You can’t build anything substantial with it. Yes, the Georgia capital is covered with a thin sheet of Dahlonega gold, but it flakes off and is only there for decoration. Yes, it can be used in some electrical components because it doesn’t rust, but other metals will also work.


How much gold will a dollar buy? Who decides this?


Nuf Said

No action by a legislative body is permanent, except to disband.

Do you REALLY want Congress setting the value of a dollar? That’s what will happen.

If Congress does set the value of a dollar as equal to X amount of gold, what happens if the US needs to increase or decrease the value of the dollar?

All of sudden, thanks to a Congressional decision, your money is worth more (highly unlikely) or worth less (very likely).

Myself, I’d rather trust the free market economy across the globe to determine what a dollar is worth.

State of the Corporation

Did the president say anything you liked in his State of the Corporation address last night?

What I most wanted him to say, he didn’t.

What’d I want him to say?

“Ladies and gentlemen of the United States, I have fired 60 percent of the federal government workforce. I quit. Joe Biden quits. Congress quits. A new election will be held Friday week. Hope you do a better job this time of selecting people capable of running the country. Good night.”

There is, of course, more I wish he’d have said, but that would have totally made my day.

As for what else I wish he’d have said:

• Withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.

• Tell N. Korea and Iran behave or we will nuke you because we are not sending troops.

• Repeal of the Firearms Owners' Protection Act of May 19, 1986.

• Dismantling the BATF.

• Immediate executions for terrorists no matter the stripe.

Monday, January 24, 2011


You’re not paranoid if you have proof.

Who ya gonna trust?
According to this report as many as 40,000 subpoenas with a gag order attached are filed each year. This is a subpoena NOT signed by a judge (subpoenas don’t have to be signed by a judge in all cases anyway) and a subpoena gag order also not signed by a judge. Gag orders must come from a judge, unless apparently you are a federal agent.

Uncle Sam doesn't want to hear you.

IF the recipient violates the order, the person becomes an involuntary guest of Uncle Sam for an indefinite period in Leavenworth.

It gets worse.

One man who did finally get the right to speak out about the letter he got from the FBI won approval to speak in court. At that, his ability to comment is very limited. In the interview he says of 100 items he may not discuss prior to the court order, 97 remain gagged after the court order.

In court, the federal government presented secret evidence shown only to the judge and not his attorney.

Tolja it got worse.

All this got to me to thinking on two parallel tracks. What would I do if I got such a letter from the FBI?

Considering I am presently responsible for two teenagers, I’d probably have little choice but to go along with it; I have their welfare to consider. Were I only concerned about myself, I’d publish the entire contents of the letter and bunker down for the firestorm.

At that, there’s still Wikileaks and Julian Assange who’d gleefully publish the letter. (As I have often said, I have no permanent allies - except for 3 - only permanent interests.)

The second train of thought is how much is presently in government files about me? I am not naive enough to believe the federal government doesn’t have a file on me. In fact, I have proof it does. I periodically get a letter from the Social Security Administration telling me what my retirement benefits are and will be. HAH! I also recently got a letter from the IRS. I routinely send stuff to the IRS. Being a male, I am also listed in the Selective Service registry from the years ago when I had to sign up for that to keep financial aid for college. I also have a federal-issued license. There’s other stuff as well, but you get the idea.

I am not much concerned about what the federal government has on file about me.

I am far more concerned about the federal government trampling my Constitutional Rights in the name of usurpation of authority and increasing the reach of an increasingly distant federal authority.

Warrantless wire tapping, gag orders not signed by a judge, secret evidence, threats of imprisonment based in secret evidence, denial of due process.

These are the very things the federal government raises hell about on an international level when other countries do it. But when our federal government does it to us, it’s OK.

I ask again, do you trust the government?
Ask my ancestors about trusting the federal government.
I did not, have not and will not cede such rights to the federal government.

Where, you may well ask, did the Federal Government get this kind of authority, especially with such guarantees that are enumerated in the Constitution?

In short, YOU gave it to ‘em. You gave it to them by allowing them to get away with stealing it.

Yes huh.

This gestapo state run by jackbooted thugs with federal-issue badges is a direct result of the American populace not giving a damn about what our elected officials do in Washington, provided they keep those federal dollars coming home for various projects.

Oh yes. All you who support the Reboobicans and Damnocrats take note: The Patriot Act which authorized this kind of invasion of privacy was signed by Dubya and re-authorized without changes by Osama.

How did your elected official vote?


An excellent discourse which tangentially hits the same subject.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Prob'ly the most important blog I have ever written, which will be ignored and marginalized

You will probably ignore this, unless you live outside the US. Pity, because it will affect the US more.

G’head. Ignore it. Or don’t. Really there ain’t much you can do about this one, despite the fact this probably will affect you far more than the colossal stupidity of the federal bailout programs of recent times.

Most likely, your state is in bad financial shape. Most are. Only a few have managed to hold their own.

Even those states in good shape may not be that way much longer.

Why? Pensions and bonds.

For many years having a state job meant a pension that was as certain as the other two certainties in life - death & taxes.

Except it may not be that certain any more.

To wit: Should states be allowed to declare bankruptcy?

Why does this matter to you, especially if you don’t get a state pension and really don’t have a clue about bonds?

Pensions matter because retirees have based their lifestyle around these pensions. Again, you say what’s this to me?

Retirees are often a major economic retail source for a community. They grease the wheels of commerce. Not as much as the labor force, no, but they do have a major impact. You probably have members in your family who’ve retired on state pension. If they lose their income, what are they gonna do and how are they gonna do it?

Retired employees on the state pension also wield amazing clout in state legislatures through their unions and associations. Further those who are still working and get state pensions are gonna have a lot to say as well.

When you figure in retirees and active workers, you are talking about a MAJOR MAJOR economic impact. Pick the biggest employer for your community. Chop it in half and see what the impact is gonna be.

Cuts to the state pension program could be even worse.

As for bonds, they also matter. Why? Road and bridge work mostly. Heavy infrastructure that keeps the economy rolling. Why does this matter?

Without good roads and rails, it’s gonna cost more to get goods from Point A to your door. Guess who is gonna pay that? You.

If state’s belly up on bonds, then getting new bond is gonna cost more money.

Who repays state bonds anyway?

You do. If the interest rate goes up, it’s gonna cost more to repay those bonds, which means your state is coming after your wallet that much harder.

So should states be allowed to declare bankruptcy and put their fiscal well being into a federal judge’s hands?

Me, I say no. I say people in each state should decide what they want to do and get the Legislature to do it. If that means raising taxes, so be it. If that means cutting services and benefits, so be it. If that means cutting pensions and getting fewer bonds, so be it.

Hard decisions are coming. Fast.

It’s a complicated situation, I completely agree. But like most things, there is a simple solution, which few people will like.

Cut spending. That means cut everything. I would exempt veteran benefits, but that’s just me. Disclaimer: I do not benefit from any veteran services as I was never in the military.

Cut everything. Quit living off the government teat (government, you may recall is just you and me) and learn to live off yourself. If you need help, fine, but how about looking to non-taxpayer funded sources?

If people can’t do the cuts necessary - correction: WHEN people WON’T do the cuts necessary, then turn things over to an independent and arbitrary source who is NOT accountable in any way to the voters and taxpayers, i.e. a bankruptcy judge and see if you like his decision.

Yanno, now that I’ve written this, I have changed my mind. If CAVE and NIMBY voters and taxpayers are so determined to keep their head buried in the feed trough then, yeah, let’s get someone who ain’t beholden to the voters and taxpayers to make a decision. Maybe then people will decide they really want to take back government.

Nah. Won’t happen. But it’s nice to think it could happen.
I am about to disgust some people. Myself, I don’t understand why, but then “All I know is that I know nothing.”

The vast majority of humans in the world today got their first independent nutrition from the same source they got nutrition from conception to birth.


Makes no sense?

How about breastfeeding? Clear?

One lucky kid.

Doctors say breast milk is the healthiest source of food for infants.

Colostrum, which a mammalian breasts produce for the first few days is even healthier.

Some people find the idea of breastfeeding to be revolting.

Do you drink milk? Eat cheese? Ice cream? Yogurt? Where do you think it comes from?

Why do people find the idea of breastfeeding to be so revolting?

Which is more offensive to you?

Babies gotta eat. Mom supplies a ready source of food. It’s the right temperature. It’s sterile. It’s got everything the baby needs. It comes in a handy package.The package is easy to operate and comes with a feeding attachment for which babies are perfectly adapted.

Smart moms know exactly what goes into the milk because they pay attention to what goes into them to produce the milk.

So why do some people find it offensive?

You think nothing of seeing an adult sit down to a meal and eat.

Why does the idea of a baby having a meal, literally, on mom bother people?

Myself, I like the idea. I like knowing the mom is forming a bond with her baby. I like knowing the baby is getting the best possible start to a healthy life.

And I don't blame him.

It has never happened in my presence, which is good, but I understand some people are so offended by the sight of a momma breastfeeding in public they will make a scene about this.

G’head. You do it in my presence and I’m gonna unleash the full force of a Redneck Genius on you in defense of Mom.

She’s got every right in the universe to take care of her baby. If you don’t like it, leave.

Now, lemme come at you with a curve ball.

Now how many of you are disgusted and revolted and so forth? It is to you I address the following questions. If you are like me, you are intrigued.

So ye who be offended, why? What’s wrong with this idea?

If you are an adult, you probably swap bodily fluids with other adults. Do you find this revolting?

Do you give blood? I do. Ever had a blood transfusion? Know someone who has? Know someone whose life was saved because of a blood transfusion? Do you hold it against that person that they took someone else’s blood?

What about organ transplants? Chances are you know someone who is walking around today with parts of another person surgically attached to them.

Do you find that offensive?

Then why is the idea of cheese made from human milk offensive? What’s the difference between that and a slab of sharp cheddar from a cow?

The difference? The human donor knows exactly what is being done and why, whereas the cow merely gives milk to reduce the pressure in the udders.

Still revolted? Why?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Separate but equal

New Alabama Governor Robert Bentley has already started torquing people off and did it on the day of his inauguration.

Several things here.

David Silverman, president of the American Atheists group, probably had to comment as he was contacted by reporters. He, and the other contacted, probably had a lot more to say, but his (and their) comments were trimmed to fit the story.

That being said, if Silverman doesn’t like what Bentley had to say, Silverman doesn’t have to live in the United States either and certainly never has to visit Alabama where his delicate sensibilities would be offended. As for the idea of a secular government, I’m not precisely sure where he got that idea, except as a modern interpretation.

“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

This is not the Constitution, it is the Declaration of Independence, which means it is the foundation upon which the Constitution was made. Further the Constitutional Convention took time out to pray and seek divine guidance in drafting the august document.

Further, references the Constitution makes to religion is to prevent CONGRESS from enacting laws regarding establishment of a religion. Congress. Not the states. Other references prevent consideration of religion as a qualification for office.

I’ll also bet you the Gov. took the oath of office with his hand on a Bible, a traditional method of swearing people in.

There is the issue of free speech. The new governor has the right to say those words. If Silverman is offended, then Silverman is the one with the problem, not the governor.

As Silverman says, this is a diverse nation. If he means it, that means Christians are allowed to hold office. Again if he doesn’t like it, he’s welcome to set up his own country in NJ. Except we in the South tried that once.

As for the Moslem gent who found the comments disturbing, I find this equally good and entertaining. Again if he doesn’t like it, he’s welcome to leave the US and go to a country with an Islamic theocracy. He might find the repressive climate there more to his liking.

The only religious leader to accept the Gov.’s comments was a Buddhist. Tenzen Deshek found it mildly amusing, rather than inflammatory. I like that. It shows Deshek has room in his mind for new ideas.

A Jewish gent called for some understanding and tolerance. He said he didn’t think the Gov. was trying to offend anyone. Indeed Bentley wasn’t setting out to offend anyone. He was merely carrying forward one of his missions, a mission that was made evident in his campaign for governor and very evident to anyone who bothered to do a minuscule amount of background checking.

I don’t see where the Gov was forcing anyone to accept his view. He was extending an invitation. He was saying, “This works for me and I enjoy it. It’s made me a better person. Interested in trying it?”

Anyone who takes offense at such an invitation is not a very secure person.

As the Jewish Mr. Friedman said, Bentley was simply motivated by his faith.

Passion. Wow. A driving need to carry out an assigned task. A desire to bring improvements. A sincere wish to bring people into a more harmonious relationship with each other. An urgency to bring people together to work together to make their realm a better place to live for everyone.

Well. Maybe I’m projecting my faith onto Gov. Bentley, but I suspect he shares my sentiments.

Yanno, I’m just not see a lot of down side to Gov. Bentley’s remarks. I think we need more politicians like that. We need politicians with a drive to work instead of worry about being re-elected.

I like the idea that he’s offended people. People need to be shocked and rocked out of their complacent attitudes. It wakes them up. In other words, Gov. Bentley got their attention. Now can he hold their attention and get them to work on things that really matter?

The Apackalips

Have you been keeping up with the large scale animal deaths around the planet?

The latest is a herd of cows in Wisconsin. Vets thinks a virus whacked the cows. I’m leaning toward the mass suicide idea, after all they were living in Wisconsin.

If you bother to do even a minimal amount of checking on this, you’ll find that large-scale group animal deaths are not THAT unusual.

I’ve personally seen as many as 80 starlings drop at one time. I’ve seen more than 20 fall down dead all at one time on numerous occasions. Admittedly, a buddy and I and our 12 gauges, or just me, were responsible for this mass die off but it happened.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Dark Humor in the style of National Lampoon

This is a piece I wrote years ago. It's long. It's also, to me anyway, brilliant. There is a part II to this, which is also long and also brilliant.

This is not for kids.

There was a time when he was No. 1, the big monster on the street, the idol of every child's eye, the one who everyone looked up to. He had many roles back then, a caped superhero, a bumbling waiter, and of course he was the star of Monster At The End Of This Book, a frightening, and some would say foretelling, journey into the psyche of the mind of a veritable genius. So what went wrong? Which turn on the way to get to Sesame Street did Grover, the Furry Blue Monster pass by? We sent our undercover reporter John Diamond on the trail of Grover to find out exactly where this tale of fun and games went so horribly wrong.

Diamond reports: I suspected something was wrong some years back when Rose O'Donnell started making such a huge fuss over the high pitched squeaky voiced and barely able to articulate much less form compound and complex sentences red-furred scab replacement Elmo. I tell you as a Sesame Street veteran, that pipsqueak can't hold a candle to Grover and yet kids today flock to him instead of Grover. Why? I suspect it's the 'Dumbing Down of America.' Kids today just can't handle the more eloquent and sagacious Grover, so they have turned to more simplistic Elmo.

I really didn't know what to expect when I met Grover. I knew he was still on Sesame Street, still working but not with the same frenetic schedule he used to have. I also knew that many of the Sesame Street regulars were no longer around, having been replaced by younger, fresher faces. Age does not sit well with the youth of today apparently.

I met Grover in his brownstone on Thyme Avenue a few blocks from Sesame Street and definitely in the high rent district of this neighborhood. Sweetums, Grover's personal bodyguard met me at the door. I flashed my credentials. Sweetums called up and Grover beeped me through. As I passed, Sweetums frisked me and rumbled, "Sorry about that gov'ner, but I have my orders. You won't believe the crazies trying to get in here these days. Between the right-wing fanatics who believe Barney is the antiChrist and Grover is the world's only saviour and the left-wing commandos bent on a new world order based on the Teletubbies, the boss, he` just don't feel safe no more."

I rode the elevator up to the penthouse while the Sesame Street theme song played softly. At the top, the elevator dinged softly and the doors opened. There was Grover wearing a silk smoking jacket, holding what, to my trained nose, was a well aged bourbon and a smoking one of Castro's finest. Without saying a word, he waved at a small end table just outside the elevator door. A second Grover: of bourbon and a stogie waited my attention. While I fired up, Grover walked into the main room and sat down in a recliner. I sat opposite him and laid my recorder on the table.

DIAMOND: You were once king of the hill. What happened?

GROVER: Man. I don’t have a clue. One day I was riding high, everyone was my friend and the next day, WHAMMO! Man. I’m telling you it came from nowhere. No warning signs. No nothing I went from hero to damn near zero. It was incredible.

SUPERGROVER at the top of his game.

DIAMOND: You had no warning signs that your were about to be dethroned then?

GROVER: None. And if by saying be dethroned, you mean that sniveling little (*&&#$ Elmo, ^&%$^% no. I never saw it coming. Ungrateful little bastard. You know, I took him under my wing, to turn a phrase. I helped him. I got him started. I talked to the producers and got Elmo his stint on the show. If it wasn’t for me, he would have been cleaned up by the street sweepers that same afternoon I found him. Yeah, I am bitter about it. I opened my home to him, helped him get started, gave him clothes, money, loaned him a car, fixed him up with Zoe and what does he do? Never looked back.

Elmo and SuperGrover in the beginning.

DIAMOND: You found Elmo? Where?

GROVER: It was one day after we were done shooting. Oscar and I were shooting the breeze at his garbage can when we heard this moaning from back behind the cans. Oscar, he didn’t pay it a bit of mind. “I love the sounds of a big city,” were his exact words. Me, I just had to look. Could have been one of the kids you know? Man, I couldn’t stomach anything happening to those kids. Just couldn’t. Oscar, well, he’s a different story. You should sometime pull a background check on him. Nothing. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada. I mean NOTHING bro. The monster absolutely does not exist on paper. Does that tell you something?

Anyway, I looked back there and here was this pile of dirty, rancid fur that kept shivering and moaning and whining. When I saw it wasn’t a kid, man I was relieved. As I knelt down to see exactly what it was, I said to Oscar “Man, you need to treat your hookers better.” That’s a joke, see. Oscar doesn’t do hookers. I pushed the pile and it, or rather Elmo, rolled over. “Damn man!” I shouted jumping back. Elmo looked up at me with one eye. His right eye was swollen shut. Someone had beat him hard man. I’m talking laid down on that monster with some serious Louisville Slugger notes. Oscar had closed his can and was probably halfway to Grouchland so I knew he was gonna be no help. As the set was shutting down, the only folks there were the Puerto Ricans we hired to clean up the mess. They didn’t speak English, so they were gonna be absolutely no help. Besides which the union rules prohibited me from talking to them and them from working for me.

Elmo raised a bruised arm to me, three of his fingers broken, and said “help Elmo, please” in that squeaky voice of his. It just about tore me up. I had to help him. No question. I only later found out that voice is just an act and he has a master’s degree from Oxford in England.

Come to think of it, I never did find out why he was beaten up or back behind Oscar’s garbage can. Hmmmm.

DIAMOND: So, you took him to the hospital?

GROVER: No man. The only hospital we have around here is good for having babies. You got something wrong, you either die or get over it.That’s what happened to the original store owner, Mr. Henderson. He got hit by a cab. Nothing we could do. We just all sat around between takes and tried to ease his pain while he died. That night the street sweepers came and hauled his body away with the rest of the trash. It’s a harsh world around here man, much much harder than what you see on the TV show. You’ve heard the expression for every minute of pleasure there must be a minute of pain? Then think about it. Ever see anything really, really bad happen in the show? Of course not.

So no, I took him back to my house. Since the day’s work was over I could do that. If we’d been shooting, there was no way I could have done that. He’d have been left there and probably would have died. The editing crew would have just cut his dying sounds out. I did the best I could for him back at my place. It wasn’t much and I told him so, but the little bugger was determined to make it. If I had known just how far he’d intended to go, I would have left him behind Oscar’s garbage can.

DIAMOND: When did you first realize that Elmo was going to be such a hit?

GROVER: As for an exact date, I go back to that Rosie O’Donnell show where she went on and on about him. Up to that point, he was cool, just another monster on the block. But when she spouted off, he became The Monster on the Block. We co-existed peacefully up til that time.

Elmo and Rosie O'Donnell on the set of Sesame Street

DIAMOND: According to underground publications, you didn’t take that very well. One source says you went on a rampage and threatened Elmo and a few others.

GROVER: Well, yeah, I did. I went ape, man. I tore through that set like an Oklahoma twister through a trailer park. I’m telling you if Gordon hadn’t caught me and calmed me down, I might have done some things you’d still be reading about today.

DIAMOND: Is that the same time your career started to nose dive and you got into drugs?

GROVER: Drugs. How in the hell did you find out about that? Who told you? Man, I swear. Nobody and I mean nobody has a private life around here. [long pause]

DIAMOND: But is it true, the drugs?

GROVER: Well, man, yeah it is. But I’m sober now. Drugs. It was a simple escape from the reality and the pressures and the hell my life had become. I just didn’t know at the time that I couldn’t handle that stuff. Sure, it was fun, but man it nearly killed me on a few occasions. Mr. Snuffleupagus. I owe that hairy mastadon my life three times over. I was gone man, flatliner. He slammed that big ol trunk on me and started a cardio massage that brought me back from the brink. And that tunnel of light stuff you hear from the near death experience people, I didn’t see that. Nothing man. Nothing at all.

DIAMOND: So what did drugs did you do?

GROVER: All of it man. I tried everything. Funny thing is, us monsters, we have a different constitution than humans. Keith Richards, you know him man? From the Stones? Yeah. He used to come by late at night and we’d do heroin. He would be wasted. Me, I didn’t see the point. It did nothing for me and frankly, poking myself with a needle was not a lot of fun. I did it to keep him company. Did cocaine, crack, speed, crank, meth, dust, pot, some ‘ludes smuggled in from Rico by some of the janitors. Drank so much beer I got a massive gut. I lost some of it, but I’m always gonna have some of that beer belly left.

DIAMOND: But you said drugs nearly wrecked you. If they did not affect you, how can that be?

GROVER: Nutmeg man. Nutmeg.

DIAMOND: Nutmeg?

GROVER: I smoked that stuff as a gag one time with some college buddies who came over for a long weekend. They lit up and were getting wired. They passed the pipe to me. I said, “No man, that crap don’t work on me.” They kept after me, and well, I try to be accommodating and it’s just plain rude to keep refusing. So I took a hit.

Man, my world changed.

Grover, whacked out of his mind on nutmeg.

Everything was suddenly so right there man. I was on top of everything. I could handle anything. I was pumped to the max and broke the needle on the stop, man. I was flying, soaring, swimming, tunneling. I was the Egg Man, man. I was the Walrus. I knew it, man. I understood everything.  World hunger, man I solved it. Peace in the Middle East, man I had a treaty that would have left both side hailing me as  their new leader for life.

Then, I came down. I crashed and burned in the worst way. When I hit that tarmac, I kept right on going down, down, down. I was hurting. The only thing I could think about was getting my next fix. I had to have it. I don’t know if you’ve ever been addicted, man, but you go from hit to hit and in between you scramble to get the next one.

DIAMOND: Were you working through this period?

GROVER: Man, you have got to be kidding. When you hear the Children’s Television Workshop owns us, man it is not a joke. Hell yes I worked. Whacked out of my furry blue mind on nutmeg, but I worked. I look back on those episodes now and I can see where I was stoned. And honestly, I have to say some of my work at that time was completely inspired, top rate and career pinnacle stuff. Some of it, I am ashamed to say I was alive at the time. But that good stuff, I should have won an Oscar, the award not the grouch, for that.

Grover and the restaurant customer in what Grover says is his best acting ever.

DIAMOND: What was the best?

GROVER: Oh man, it still brings tears to my eyes. [pause while Grover went in search of a box of tissues.] I never can remember the episode number because I am so hung on that scene. But it’s the one where Fred, the rounded headed guy who plays straight man to my clerk role, walked in to the Italian restaurant where I was a waiter. The repertoire we had in that scene, it was so on. He’d ask me for something off the menu and I would screw it up royally. I have never acted so well in my life and I never will act that well again.

DIAMOND: Who was your connection?

GROVER: Cookie Monster. Nobody thought anything of him walking around with nutmeg all the time. Everyone figured he was making cookies. Some friend he turned out to be.

DIAMOND: When and how did you kick the habit?

GROVER: I woke up one morning in Big Bird’s nest. He was asleep on his side, facing away from me. I have no idea how I got there or what happened. I got up and left without waking him. Neither of us have mentioned it before now. That settled it for me. I went cold turkey. Cookie Monster, the [expletive deleted], kept trying to give me a hit. Even offered it to me for free. But I kept my head screwed on straight and stayed away from it, man.

DIAMOND: On the show, everyone appears to be a great big happy family. Is that the case?

GROVER: Man, what have I just been telling you? You deaf or something?

DIAMOND: What can you tell us about some of your costars?

GROVER: I’m not really the kind to kiss and tell, except for what I’ve already told you. Sure we have problems, but we keep it to ourselves. It’s not because we really want to, we are beings after all, but we have to. We run a children’s show. If we ran around airing our dirty laundry everywhere, our careers would be over. Which begs the question why have I granted this interview? Some times stuff just needs to be set down and put straight. It’s high time for that to be done. Someone has to do it. This is my first and last interview though.

DIAMOND: But what about the rumors? Ernie and Bert being gay?

GROVER: No, they’re not gay, at least to my knowledge. Ernie experimented a few times, but nothing really connected he told me. He and Bert share an apartment because they’re used to each other now. They had to when they started out, sharing expenses kind of thing. Now, they just don’t like the idea of not being roommates. It is a truly platonic relationship. They're like brothers.

Since he’s come out about it, I guess it’s OK for me to talk about it. Big Bird has a massive problem. I forget how old he is, but he’s still not toilet trained. We have to leave newspapers laying all around the set. One of the Ricans comes in right before a shot and shovels the paper out of the way. Meantime we all just pray he’s not going to have an attack right there in front of the camera. Sometimes he slips. Hey. It’s a problem, he knows it and he’s working on it. Poor bird.

DIAMOND: At one time, Monster At The End Of This Book was a best seller and the No. 1 Sesame Street book. There are some who say it’s as much an autobiography, up to that point, as a children’s book. Now, you can’t find it in the stores any more. Do you have a sequel planned?

MONSTER the Sequel. Grover refuses to comment on it.

GROVER: No. That Elmo has captured the market. Besides which, I’m never going to do a sequel. You know, there really is a monster at the end of that book? It scares the fur off me every time I sit down and try to read it. A sequel? I don’t think so.

DIAMOND: How about your comeback career? Any thoughts of a spinoff perhaps?

GROVER: I’m coming back, yeah. The producers finally realized they cannot get rid of me. I am an icon, like it or not. They have to deal with me. I don’t know if I’ll ever be as big as I was, then again I don’t know if I want to be that big. Sometimes that kind of fame is frightening. I could not go out in public without being mobbed almost to death by kids. It’s scary to see a horde of kids come storming toward you. And when you consider some of those kids have loaded diapers... [Grover visibly shudders]

As for a spinoff, highly unlikely. CTW has us right where they want us. We do the show, 5 times a week and that’s it. You may remember Squirty from the first season. He tried to go his own way and do a spinoff. He was found a week later behind the apartment building. At least parts of him were found. The autopsy said his eyes had been used in a championship-caliber game of table tennis. I still have nightmares.

DIAMOND: What does the future hold for this furry blue monster?

GROVER: Good question. I have not given that a lot of thought, because like I said the CTW owns us man. A few have escaped. If I manage to get out, I don’t know, I’ve been smart and invested a lot of money. I can live comfortably with the returns on my investments. Yeah. That’s it man. Buy myself a beachfront bungalow in Venuzula or somewhere, kick back and enjoy life for a while on my terms.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dunno if you heard about a resurrected form of protest that desperately needs to be shipped to Washington.

I refer you here to the idea of a person setting himself on fire as a way to protest some sort of government action.
JEB BUSH, brother of former president Dubya and son of Shrub, demonstrates his displeasure at not being allowed to be president after Dubya left office.

You may say this is an incredibly stupid idea that accomplishes pretty much nothing. Stop being so short sighted. When used successfully, self-immolation was, is and will be a critical component of setting national policy. Can you just imagine the results of Sen. Harry Reid setting himself on fire?

US Senator Harry Reid experiences the full effect of OsamaCare health reform after protesting the Damnocrat defeat in the 2010 elections.

You now see why it is of the utmost urgency that we get congress to adopt this policy. In short order we can thin the ranks in Washington getting rid of the fools, idiots and morons, at least we can if we can convince the fire fighters that turning ones self into the Human Torch is a valid form of free speech, which I believe it is.

Misguided firefighters attempt to douse Speaker of the House John Boehner as he rants about the Rebooican agenda being thwarted.
Self immolation as a form of protest, as best I can figure, started around the time of the Vietnam War.

Contrary to popular belief, Janice Joplin did not die of a heroin overdose, rather she set herself on fire to protest the war in Vietnam and her inability to win a Grammy.

You can further see why it is imperative that Nancy Pelosi be encouraged to turn herself into a human candle to protest the present wars the United States is involved in.
Nancy Pelosi can take a message from her good friends in socialism, the Chinese, when it comes to effective ways to throw a tantrum.

You may say if things get out of hand, the incandescent politicians, lobbyists, and aides could spread the conflagration to the rest of Washington, which could burn the place down. That this would leave the nation’s capitol pretty much a ghost town is not a problem either, as far as I can see.

Large scale urban renewal in Washington is possible with self-immolation of members of Congress. The United States demonstrated this is possible at Hiroshima. Following the bomb, Japan immediately rose to be a premier world economic power, thanks to an aggressive rebuilding program spurred by the complete flattening of everything in sight. Nothing like a lil incentives to get people up, moving and back to work.

This kind of slash and burn Urban Renewal is as old as mankind. General Sherman demonstrated it’s effectiveness in the War of Northern Aggression on Southern soil. More recently the United States has launched a vigorous campaign, with the help of natives, to reduce Iraq to rubble so the people there can rebuild without having to work about bringing existing buildings up to code.

In hopes of turning Iraq into the next world superpower, the United States is systematically leveling the nation so it can then invest quintillions of dollars to rebuild the place so it can manufacture cheap crap for export to the US.

If you’re with me, send a letter to your Senator and Representative encouraging them to stand on the steps in front of the Lincoln Memorial and take a 93 octane bath and “light one up for democracy.” Remind them they are leaders with the rallying cry “The people ignited are united!”

Monday, January 17, 2011

Getting change for a penny

Since yer wondering about the title, you can't (any more) get change for a penny. It doesn't make cents (sense).