Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Resounding Victory for Free Speech

Congratulations to Columbia University for Presenting Mahmoud ImaNutJob

"But King David said to Ornan, “No, but I will buy it for the full price; I will not take for the Lord what is yours, nor offer burnt offerings which cost me nothing.”
Columbia University did us all a great service this past Monday. There's no doubt about it. They hosted a Talk by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at Columbia University’s World Leaders Forum. How big a favor did they do us? Their offering was very costly to them. And the star of the show giving the speech provided us with a phrase which will live forever.

As to the cost of all the turmoil surrounding the visit of President NutJob, I have to once again say, I don't understand. I really don't understand. This may sound cryptic, but I have to say that we still haven't learned the lessons of the Viet-Nam War. Even though this came up at the start of the current Iraq war, let me refresh everyone. For a HUGE number of soldiers who returned from the Viet-Nam War, the homecoming was not a pleasant experience. Our nation was (and is) still learning proper expression of political discourse. We were still at the "Kill the Messenger" stage. The war was hugely unpopular and upon the return home of the soldiers, many protesters took their anger at the politicians out on the soldiers themselves. Returning soldiers were actually spit upon. We had not yet learned to separate the messenger from the message.

To this day, we have not learned to separate the messenger from the message. This has come up again recently with everyone tiptoeing around our troops and trying to be sure that they make the point that, while we dislike the war and the politicians who wage the war, we support our troops as our defenders and our pride and joy. Of course we support our troops. The troops did an outstanding job. It's the war and the politicians who started the war with whom we have a bone to pick.

In this context, why is it that people can't let a college bring in a controversial speaker without all the invective against the college host? If you want to protest the speaker and his policies and practices, fine. Although, as I'm from the part of Chicago just south of the suburb of Skokie, I can tell you that protesting people like ImaNutJob is severely counterproductive. The village of Skokie, just north of Chicago is full of Jewish holocaust survivors. Years back when the American Nazi party wanted to exercise their free speech rights by marching through Skokie, as you might suspect, the locals went bananas. There was a tremendous outcry and an expensive legal effort to keep the Nazis from marching. These poor camp survivors were taken advantage of again. Their protest was exactly what the Neo-Nazis wanted.

If the people of Skokie had said, “Yawn, OK, have your march.” and then the entire town stayed home for the day, that would have been the end of the American Nazi party. But the outcry brought the goons months and months of front page publicity which was exactly what they wanted. The publicity was far more valuable than the march was. For a decade, every couple of years, we had another Nazi Party march.

In the same way, why do the protesters have to rage against Columbia University. The university is just providing a forum for speakers. Somebody thought it would be of educational value. And if the protesters had all stayed home, ImaNutJob would have given a speech to 3 or 4 professors and grad students. They would have been the only ones interested in listening to ImaNutJob and not because they were interested in or believed in what he had to say. They would have been there for some obscure point of Iranian history or politics which, 10 minutes after the speech, would have been lost and forgotten in the bowels of the university's Iran department.

The service Columbia University did for us was to provide a forum where academics could hear a speech by an unpopular world leader. The cost to them was the money, time, energy and aggravation of dealing with all the commotion.

And what were the words of Ahmadinejad that will live forever? At some point he came out with the gem, "In Iran, we don't have homosexuals, like in your country." If you don't think THAT is funny, you have no sense of humor what-so-ever. - © Copyright 2008 The Chewed End All rights reserved.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Is Symantec a Joke or What?

Anti-Virus, My Aunt Fanny's Tuchus

An Account of a Real Virus Problem.

My very own personal computer network at home has about 1000 gigabytes on line. That's 6 machines hooked together with co-ax Ethernet, not even counting 4 or 5 spares. Naturally, that disk space is barely 1/2 full. As a rule of thumb, I like to keep disk space around 1/2 empty. Just as naturally, there is a lot of duplication. For instance, there is a full copy of MS Office on all the machines. All of my original software is on line and each machine can control every other machine. I like things to be at my fingertips.

Still I have a lot of original content to worry about. And over the years I've found how NOT to lose data without a maniacally rigid backup system.

Data loss is a major concern. And as data loss is supposed to rarely happen, I rarely get to hear a story from someone who did actually lose data through no fault of their own. More rare still, is a story from someone I actually know who caught a virus and had to deal with Symantec to clean up their system.

A friend of mine had a serious problem with a virus recently. I would like to report that his system was protected by strong anti-virus software and that everything is just fine and dandy. Unfortunately that is not the case.

His system WAS running Symantec's Norton Anti-Virus......but everything is NOT OK. I'll let you hear the story in his own words:

I'm running Norton Anti-Virus 2006. Last Monday I updated my virus definitions and all the program information on Symantec's web site.
Tuesday morning I turned on my computer and Norton popped up a Virus Alert message saying that I had a xxxx virus infection on my machine. It listed it as unfixable and unremovable so I wasn't sure quite what to do. I am very careful and never open unknown files or emails and don't visit the porn sites that Symantec later told me was one of the main places to get virus' and have been pretty religious about keeping my coverage current and up to date.

My first move, then, was to shut everything down and run a full system scan in which Norton found nothing - the Alert box had an "OK" pick box and when picked the box disappeared to just reappear 4 or 5 seconds later. I then went online to Symantec's web site and ran what they called a "Deep System Scan" - this found 2 Gain related pieces of spyware but did not identify the virus from the alert box.

Soooooooooooo, I got on the phone to Symantec and what a hassle - I had to go through 4 or 5 different tech people, each of whom had to have me tell them my entire story again, and some of whom were very difficult to understand, until I got someone who said he could fix my system - for $69.95 - I went ballistic and railed and railed and this guy said that there was nothing he could do and would not listen to my complaints that Norton had failed in the job I had bought it for and now they wanted to charge me to rectify their screw up. I might as well have been talking to the wall, he would not relent so I asked for his supervisor - that happened twice and finally the last one I talked to said he talked to HIS supervisor and they would fix me up for only $39.95 - sounded very much like the used car dealer bit of "Let me talk to my boss and see if we can do anything".

I finally said Ok and they walked me through setting my computer so their tech could take control remotely and fix it. After them calling back a couple of times saying they had lost the connection they finally did something different and at last got rid of the virus and notified me (by email, not a phone call as they told me they would) that my computer was clear and clean. It had taken them over 3 hours so I just said thank you and again told them how I felt that I had gotten screwed by Symantec.

Later I went in to my email program (Juno is what I use) and to my dismay found that in the process they had totally wiped out my email account - messages. directories with collections of data and my address book - it was as if I had just installed the program and was about to use it for the first time - to say that I was mad would be the world's greatest understatement. Again to the phone and up the line to supervisors all of whom told me that there was nothing that they could do and gave me the bull stories of how virus' attack computers and programs and essentially that it was my fault and there was nothing they could do. After getting no satisfaction from them I went into Windows Restore and was able to at least get my address book back from a week, or so, back and had to be happy with that.

At this point in time my computer is running fine but I dread opening another program that the Symantec boys screwed up. Well that's the story as I remember - wish I could remember the virus name but that is gone but the memory lingers on.

Can you believe this? Talk about corporate greed. What is Norton Anti-Virus then? Sounds to me like it's not an anti-virus program so much as a salesman sitting on your computer waiting to take you to the sales manager's office at the worst possible minute.

Sounds to me like you have no anti-virus software on your machine, but that Symantec is waiting for you to be in a real bind so that they can blackmail you into paying double for what you thought you already bought.

Has anyone else out there experienced this? More coming on this subject. - © 2007 The Chewed End All rights reserved.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

God isn't the Only One Who Moves In Mysterious Ways

Things I Found On The Way to Looking Up Other Things

Odd Googles

God really isn't the only one who works in strange and mysterious ways. It seems the internet does also.

A couple of days ago I was in the process of completing a sale of some small arms ammunition. It was an interstate transaction and while ammunition seems to be only mildly regulated I thought it wise to check on the laws for the state to which I was sending the ammo.

For those who get into this kind of thing, you know that it is very difficult to prove a negative. In the same way, when searching the internet, it can be very difficult to pin down what is not out there. In other words, if there are no laws regulating the sale and shipment of small arms ammunition, it is going to be very hard to find that out for sure. Very few writers or researchers make it a habit to comment on what doesn't exist.

What I did find was what seemed to be a very good, very complete site regarding state firearms laws. It was surprisingly extensive and detailed. While it didn't have anything to say about ammunition, sometimes that's the best you can hope for. If a site is extensive and complete about gun laws, you can mildly infer that if there were any wild or onerous laws restricting ammunition, these laws would be mentioned as being of interest. At least one hopes.

Be patient. We're coming to it.

As to how internet searches can move in wild and mysterious ways; as I was reading the gun laws for the state I was interested in, I noticed that the site had quite prominently given the state a Grade for its gun laws. I hardly noticed this at first, but then it struck me. The grade was a D-. Yet I found the laws to be eminently reasonable. I was surprised by the D- and my attention was diverted from my study of the laws to a quick look at just what kind of a website this was.

As it happens, if you haven't noticed, internet searches can be rather narrow. I'd searched for a concise report on the gun laws of a particular state and that's what I got. It just turns out that this site was not listing those laws for the convenience of firearms owners, the laws were listed and graded for the use of anti-gun advocates. The site was These are the founders of "Hand Gun Control" the, I believe now defunct, first organization started by the Bradys. Naturally, they gave the state's gun laws a grade which was exactly the opposite of the one I had in mind. (If that's seriously disturbing to anyone reading this, fear not. My sister's vote on these matters balances out mine.)

Anyway, the lesson to be learned here is that information is where you find it. Even organizations that are at cross purposes to your goal can be of use when searching for fact. Don't be so slow to investigate the opposition. - © 2007 The Chewed End All rights reserved.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Virginia Tech Shooting

A Great Tragedy

You Wonder How the Families Can Bear Such a Thing

The author would like to extend, without comment, his most heartfelt sympathies to the students, faculty and staff of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and their families on their grievous loss. What could even the greatest writer or orator say at a time like this?

These events sear the mind.

How could a young man be so angry as to do such a thing?

How will the families go on with their hopes crushed?

We humbly offer you our prayers and our hopes for your solace.

- © 2007 The Chewed End All rights reserved.

DSL and The Phone Company

Is It My Imagination, Or We Getting Hosed?

Or is that, Hosed Again?!

Once again, my DSL "contract" expired. And once again, to let me know that it was time to put myself on the hook again for a year, AT&T raised my rates. I put "contract" in quotes because the phone company calls it a contract. It is as much a contract as the GOP's Contract With America was a few years back. To refresh your memory from Business Law 101, a contract has to between 2 competent parties. That means both parties are capable of choice. When the phone company puts a piece of paper in front of you and says "sign it or we'll cut off your phone service," that's not a contract. That's called coercion.

Of course when you call and complain, they "don't know nothin from nothin" because they have changed their name again. From SBC (Suck Blood Corporation) to ATT (All the Money Corporation) or something like that. Funny, when rates dropped a couple of years ago, they didn't make a peep to let me know that my "contract" had expired.

My question is, "Just how badly is the Phone Company ripping us off?" Forget about the Clinton era when the government gave the phone company billions in breaks so they (ThePhoneCo) would wire the US for cheap broadband internet and TPC took the money and ran. Those billions are gone and we still pay 10 times what they pay in Finland and Japan for cell phone and internet service.

I'm just talking about this service level nonsense.

I was getting level 2 (of about 6 levels) for $13/month. Now they've changed the rate and that same service costs $19/month. So I told them to drop it to level one to keep it as cheap as I can. $14/month. Naturally, they warned me of the dire consequences of running my life at lower internet speeds, but I decided to take my chances.

Well what do you know. The first couple of days I thought I noticed a barely perceptible slow down. Now a week later it is either gone or I just don't notice it any more.

I'm sure the TPC is offering various levels of service at various prices. But I'm also sure as taxes that TPC is running their business the way they always do. They are operating the lines to produce maximum revenue for themselves.

That means my little home use which rarely has any background operations fits right into the flow of internet traffic un-noticed.
Robert X. Cringely in his April 12, 2007 blog writes that Comcast isn't living up to their promised through put. He says Comcast laughed at him when he complained. No surprise. No matter what they claim, it looks to me like they're liars. No matter what they say, they do what's best for them and let you sort out your own problems.

The example is hardware and software help lines. Does anyone call a help line anymore? I learned 2 things about help lines long ago: First, I know 10 times more about all aspects of computing than the person on the other end of the line. And second, their strategy is to get you off the line at all costs. That's why they first ask you to check all your settings and change one that doesn't affect anything. Because you have to reboot for the change to take effect and they get you off the line. Their hope is between the wait to be connected to another help rep and a few more reboots will get you to go ask one of your friends or co-workers and stop bothering the help line.

So it seems to be with TPC. They offer you what you need and want and make you become satisfied with what you get.

These things seem evident to me:

When anyone first orders a broadband line of any kind, it behooves them to test their need against the service. Either start at the most expensive service and keep downgrading as long as service is acceptable, or start at the cheapest and continue to upgrade until things work out.

Go with the cheapest provider you can to begin with. I'm waiting to see, but I think people who don't evaluate their service because they have gobs of money will support the high end lines. Cable and dish. More and more people are dropping hard line phone service. Even for voice service. This says to me that the cable, dish and cell systems will become more crowded and the ordinary phone lines will become vacant. Look what's happening to pay phones.

DSL service has operated at nominal speed since the day I first got it years ago. The first thing I did when I got DSL was to download Linux. I clocked the downloads of the Linux CDs and the speed was right at nominal. As long as a net service has a lot of slack, your packets will come to you as fast as physically possible. Why would TPC slow them down unnecessarily just to conform to Service Level Agreements? - © 2007 The Chewed End All rights reserved.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Who is Fred Dalton Thompson

Why Am I Scared to Death That He Might Run for President?

The First Actor/President We Had Didn't Teach Us a Lesson?

The actor, Fred Dalton Thompson wants to run for President. Believe me he wants to. There never has been a Draft 'InsertNameHere' Campaign that wasn't run without the blessing of 'InsertNameHere'. 'InsertNameHere' may be smart enough to never, ever admit to the fact that he really wants to run, but believe me, people don't write blogs and sell T-shirts for nothing.

The first thing that scares the bejesus out of me is that Thompson has a history of getting into the race at the last minute and winning.

Late entry is a smart strategy. It allows all the other candidates to make all kinds of mistakes, point the finger at each other and then the newcomer makes hay from the barn that's already on fire without getting his own fingers burned. So I'll admit it. Thompson is smart.

The second thing that scares me about Fred Dalton Thompson, is that he's an actor.

Every politician is a shill to a certain extent. At the very least, at the heart of things, they're supposed to be shilling for the interests of the American people. And there's no shill like a man who learned his craft as an actor.

That's why politicians who are less than perfect are the good ones. Gerald Ford used to trip all over himself. He was a human being, he had all the failings of a human being and he understood what it was to be human.

Politicians who don't make mistakes aren't human: They're actors. They're staged. They're lines are written for them and at heart they have no feeling for their constituents. They're playing a part and doing a job.

I started this piece back in April '07 just around the time Thompson finally threw his hat into the ring. I'm finishing it in September '08 with great relief that, for this election at least, Fred Dalton Thompson has come and gone.

But like the Ghost of Christmas Past, I saw him give his speech at the Republican Presidential Convention this month. I fear we haven't heard the last of Fred Dalton Thompson. I fear what other mischief he may be up to. (If you haven't heard, it seems Fred Dalton Thompson was more or less the architect or the Savings and Loan debacle which cost tens of thousands of American senior citizens their retirement savings and cost the US taxpayers around $300 Billion Dollars.) - © 2008 The Chewed End All rights reserved.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

“Wine and The Informed Palate” by Seamus O'Bròg

And They’re Off! The contest has begun.

Contest Details: How to Win a Free Copy of the Book:

Wine and The Informed PalateSo if you read my last blog, you’re dying to read my book. But you’re not dying to pay the freight and you can’t wait for the book to hit your local library. What to do, what to do?…………….

Well don’t be all down in the mouth, Bunkie. I’ll tell you want I’m gonna do. I’ll give you the book, not for $100. Not for $50. Not even for $40 or $30 or $20 or $10 or even the low, the rock bottom, the Ronco Ron the Pocket Fisherman Popeil price of 95 cents.

You can win one of 5 copies for free. It’s as easy as falling off a log. Just

  1. go to my website,
  2. read the excerpt from my book you’ll find there,
  3. read the three questions and
  4. eMail me.
    1. eMail me the 3 answers with
    2. your name and
    3. address.

The winners will get free copies of the eBook.

Right now the contest is for 5 books. I’m sure if substantial interest in the contest develops that number will increase.

Ties will be decided by random drawing. The contest will end May 15, 2007. Winner’s First Names only will be posted here on the blog. Naturally, the author, the publisher and their immediate family are not eligible to win the contest.

The book is sold with a limited 100% money back guarantee. The limit is on the guarantee period, not the price. See Guarantee details here.

Please be assured that we never, never, ever sell your address. The only thing we use your information for is to contact you about your purchase of the book.- © 2007 The Chewed End All rights reserved.

    Friday, March 30, 2007

    I Have a New Book! And You Can Win a Free Copy!

    “Wine and The Informed Palate” by Seamus O'Bròg

    How to Seriously Save Gobs of Money While You Increase the Quality of the Wine You Buy.

    Thank you, thank you. Yes Ladies and Gentlemen, I have a new book. The contract was signed yesterday and the book should be out June 8, 2007. Much to do. Cover to be designed, manuscript to printer, proofs to be edited, contest to be won…… CONTEST!!

    I’m giving away free books. So far it’s just the modest number of 5 books total, but I haven’t even nailed down all the details of the contest yet, so cut me some slack. And watch the blog here for details of the contest.

    First, about the book: “Wine and The Informed Palate” is an effort to help people select fine wines at a value price. Anybody can buy a cheap wine. Getting it down your throat can be a problem. Cheap wine can be awful stuff. But it need not be. I used to rely on paying $15-$20 to assure getting a quality bottle of wine, and I was still often disappointed. Now I’ve been paying between $7 and $12 and so far I have not been disappointed. How? Well that’s what the book is about.

    On the other hand, if you have much more money than I have, I can show you an example of 3 bottles of wine, a Bordeaux (French, $479), a Barbaresco (Italian, $250) and a Grenache (Spain, $150), which are all red wines. All are substantially the same quality. Note I did not say the same flavor. While these are all hearty red wines, they are very individual and if you are familiar with them and naught but that particular wine will do, we are into another argument. In that argument I have to tell you to buy the particular wine that suits you.

    However, if you are sitting around with friends, especially if you’ve already had a few glasses, and you just want another glass of red to go with the new platter of Hors D’oeuvres that the downstairs maid Fifi just brought out, I guarantee no one, including Julia, Jacques or Wolfgang will have a preference among the three bottles above. Except for Howie. Howie will have a lot to say about which one of those three you serve.

    Howie is your accountant. And Howie will immediately notice that the Spanish Grenache is a full 69% less expensive than the French Bordeaux. And Howie will even have figured out that the Spanish wine is also 40% less than the Italian Barbaresco. You may not think that is much money, and you may not want to deprive your friends of the best. But Howie will tell you that if you want to retire when you hope to, so you can travel the world and keep enjoying the Bordeaux, Barbaresco and Grenache as you are currently enjoying it, you want to save wherever you can. Most especially if the savings will go un-noticed. Most especially if there will be no decrease in quality along with the savings.

    And that is what my book is all about. Until recently I was at sea with the rest of humanity when it comes to selecting wine. I tried to buy the best wine I could, but I was painfully aware that there is NO correlation between the price and the quality of wine. Until I stumbled on this information recently, there really was only one way to be assured of a fine wine. Buy a bottle and taste it.

    But excuse me. I just can’t afford to throw away my money like that. Right about here I usually find out a lot about the economic circumstances of the people I’m talking to. Right about now, I either hear, “Oh, no problem. You can buy all kind of wine for under $5 per bottle.” Or I hear, “At the price we buy, we don’t have to worry about the quality we get.” While those two comments are coming from two different economic levels, it is the same cry for help. “Help, we have no idea what fine wine should taste like!!!”

    I don’t care how much you pay for a bottle of wine, the price doesn’t guarantee quality. The other thing I can guarantee is that if you are trying to assure the quality of your wine by buying the most expensive you can afford, you are wasting a whole lot of money. The wine market is like any other market and there are many dislocations. I like to argue as much as the next fellow about the “absolute efficiency” of the market place. But few people who believe that would still deny the existence of bargains and the good sense of shopping for value. I can give you another example:

    But first, and again, remember I am discussing quality, not flavor. I don’t know anyone who looks for a wine that tastes exactly like another wine. Wine, like America, is an area where diversity is sought after and nurtured. But it is easy to find a wine of a very similar quality.

    There is a well-known French Champagne. It is a favorite of a famous fictional British secret agent. There is a sparkling wine made in California by another well-known French Champagne maker. And third, there is an almost totally unknown Spanish maker of sparkling wine. All three are very similar in quality. All three are currently on the market. The Champagne favored by James Bond is upwards of $150 per bottle. The California version with the famous name is $21 per bottle and the unknown Spaniard is $7 per bottle.

    I can live with almost any decision as long as it is an informed decision and if you have compared the taste of Dom Perignon to Tattinger’s Domaine Carneros alongside of Cristalino and you feel you prefer the one that costs $150, you have my blessing.

    However, if you’re like me and you like to drink a couple or three bottles of bubbly a week; especially if you like to splash a spot of brandy into your bubbly; your accountant might find the Cristalino easier to live with. And the claim that the quality is nearly equal is not my opinion. The evaluations were by independents.

    So these are the two ideas I try to explain in my book. There is no correlation between the price and quality of wine, and it is easy to achieve savings of 25, 50 even 75% without a significant or even noticeable decrease in the quality of the wine you purchase. Easy.

    I’m not going to go through the gyrations of presenting dollar figures here. As my father, the greatest man who ever lived used to say, “Figures don’t lie, but liars can figure.” so I won’t bore you. You entertain yourself. How much do you spend on wine each year? Multiply that by 25%. Then tell me you‘re not interested in what I’ve got to say.

    The details of the contest are coming up. Either I will append them to this page here or they will occupy the next page of my blog. Hopefully by tomorrow if not later today.

    Win a free book. What have you got to lose? - © 2007 The Chewed End All rights reserved.

    Tuesday, March 27, 2007

    Another Horror Comes Out of Texas

    We Need A Regulation That Forbids Customer Service People From Selling or Working on Commission

    Is One Hour Long Enough to Wait On Hold?

    Is it my imagination, or are BellSouth and AT&T the absolute WORST phone companies in the world?

    Not that there is a good phone company any more. That’s another thing we have Ronald Reagan to thank for. Back in the 70s and before, if you’d ever been to another country outside the US you were aware that we had a phone system that was head and shoulders above any other anywhere in the world. That was back in the day when this WAS the most prosperous nation in the world.

    In other countries the phone service was like the electric service in Iraq today. Service was spotty. There were hours each day when you might not even get a dial tone. Even if you got a dial tone, there was no assurance the call would go through. But in the good old US of A, the phone service worked like a charm. At least from the time I was born, more than half a century back in the last century, there was never a time you couldn’t get a dial tone. Never a time when you couldn’t get through. And there was never a worry that you couldn’t run your mouth just as long as you pleased and as long as you could pay the bill without a dropped call. And that included long distance. That’s because AT&T was the one and only long distance company, because they had the biggest electronics research labs in the world and because the regional phone companies were pretty much just puppets of AT&T.

    Back then, everyone used to complain that the phone companies were arrogant and wouldn’t listen to your complaints. But that was because they never had to deal with today’s phone companies, which stand head and shoulders above their predecessors in terms of chutzpah.

    And there’s a definite reason and cause for modern phone companies being a pain in the ass: That’s how they’re paying their employees.

    Today, I finally got connected with "customer service" at AT&T after 3 days on hold for over 15 minutes each day. Today I waited 30 minutes. The problem here is twofold. AT&T is not taking over BellSouth, BellSouth the rabid monster, is pretending to be AT&T. Number 1 we need to get this corporation and its influence out of Illinois.

    Number two, and here’s the reason that phone companies are such a pain, when you call the phone company customer service department today, any phone company, you don't get customer service any more. You get sales people. There's a huge conflict of interest there. Customer service people should be getting a salary to help you get the best out of your account for the most money. Sales people are paid on commission and have the exact opposite goals. Sales people are trying to get the most money out of you for the least service.

    I have no problem with the sales force. When I call the sales force. But when I call customer service, I want service.

    This is no joke and it is evident because customer service people are always trying to sell you new service. They will not recommend a cheaper service unless you ask for it. If you don't know about the cheaper service, you are SOL.

    We need to pass a simple law that customer service departments cannot be connected to the sales department and that customer service people cannot sell products.

    Then we need to drop BellSouth off of a cliff. Does nothing good come out of Texas any more? - © 2007 The Chewed End All rights reserved.

    Friday, March 23, 2007

    Feminism in Art and Barack Obama

    Lack of vision and

    How we know what we know

    One of my favorite themes to write about is “How we know what we know.” That means, when the witness is in the chair, how do I know if he’s telling the truth? It means, when I’m hearing a story, what aspects of the story should concern me? What should pique my awareness? Why does the truth seem to fail to cross generational lines?

    Three days ago I was at “Art Talk”, a local group of artists and connoisseurs. The subject was “feminism in art”.

    One of the participants made the comment I hear more and more. It comes not only from the women’s movement, but the civil rights movement, the labor movement, and others. The woman’s complaint was that the current generation is not as in tune to women’s issues as the last generation. She went down the line. No awareness of the suffragist movement, no awareness of equal rights, of equal pay, of Title VII, Title IX, no awareness of central figures in the movement.

    The speaker made a further list of why the current generation is not as aware of the conflicts and struggles of the past generation. Those reasons include a cushier life style and the catch all “they’re being provided with all they want and need.”

    I understand the concern. Oh, how I understand. The concern is why this is happening. And that is easy to answer. A mentor of mine had a favorite scripture to answer this question. It was Proverbs 29:18 of the King James Version, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

    Emotion is what makes life real to us. Intellect can guide and inform us, but it is emotion that spurs us to action. Even when the current generation knows about the suffering of the past generation, it is an intellectual thing. It is an abstraction and never gets related to the issues of the day. It has little reality and thus there is little call to action. The generation with no emotional attachment to the past will drift away and look for other more immediate, pressing and emotionally arousing concerns. When the present generation of women perceives that they can pursue any career, apply to any college, get a job at any level, they will lose interest in their mother’s fight and seek out their own. Once the current generation has the ability to do so, they will short circuit what was holding back the prior generation and work straight toward the ultimate goal of the prior generation, capture the flag and then seek their own conquests.

    Unfortunately, the goals of the prior generation, the goals of the civil rights movement, of the labor movement, of the women’s movement have been perceived as personal economic development. And when the goal is “to get mine”, once the goal is reached, the movement is no longer needed.

    Many of my friends who were black, or my friends who were female or my friends in the labor movement have had goals which were to attain equality. Equality with white people, or men, or captains of industry. I’ve always recommended that they needed to set their goals much higher. The goal needs to be the well being of all those around us, not just our own well being. If we attain our own well being in the midst of the squalor of out neighbors, how can we be safe, at ease, or at peace. Should we follow the current Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice, INC doctrine? Should we go to war with the rest of the world?

    The question, of course, is what to do about today's lack of vision.

    Barack Obama is interesting, and sincere and it is what he has been doing to focus our eyes on the higher goals which has been stoking the fires of his popularity.

    Obama has been giving us a vision. He has been making us aware that we have not been told the truth. This is not the greatest country in the world any longer. In fact this country is in crisis. And the old solution of starting a war is not bringing us out of the crisis.

    This country needs to go back to the understanding of the 40s, 50s, and 60s that prosperity for the nation does not come by trickle down economics. We do not live off crumbs from the master’s table.

    Economic prosperity begins at the bottom. In a cash to cash cycle economy, hoarding cash at the top among the rich leads to ruin for all. Prosperity comes from more and more cash circulating at faster rates at the bottom of the pyramid. At the personal level. Not necessarily at inflationary speeds and not necessarily at the “Pocket Fisherman” retail level which lead to the inflation of the 70s. But prosperity does begin at the road repairing, school building, hospital building, and health care providing level of the people.

    If Obama can give the nation visions like this, he can lead us out of the pit.

    But be aware. The remnants of the Nixon dirty tricks squads are still out there. If we let ourselves be sidetracked by the manufactured rumors of Obama and Clinton lobbing personal attack grenades at each other’s campaigns, we are doomed.

    If you want to strike a blow against the deterioration of the movements of the last century, ask a young person if they have ever heard of Nixon’s “Dirty Tricks” divisions. - © 2007 The Chewed End All rights reserved.

    Thursday, March 15, 2007

    Nazis. Mein Gott. Part Two.

    Ah, Yes, Chicago. What a Delightful Place to Hold the Olympics

    The Schutz Staffel (Waffen SS) is Also Alive and Well in My Kind of Town!

    Even though it was almost a year ago that I originally wrote the first “Nazis. Mein Gott.” ( I only got around to publishing it last week. I’d rather write about happy stuff.

    And what to my wondering eyes should appear this week? “Report blasts FBI use of Patriot Act.”

    As in Chicago today, the Nazis were the ‘powers that be’ running the Third Reich in 1933. Below the Nazis, the organization within Hitler’s National Socialist German Workers Party responsible for the personal guard of der Führer and soon for the brutal, direct implementation of Nazi policy, was the Schutzstaffel (Protective Squadron). The SS. Later, during the war under Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, the SS morphed into the Waffen SS, a body of almost a million men. The SS? Or the FBI?

    Far be it from me to say it can’t happen here today, because IT IS happening here today. From Ronald Reagan at the head of our government in Washington on down, it is happening. From Camp X-Ray Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to Roosevelt Road in Chicago it is happening.

    Warrantless searches, people disappearing in the night, people spirited away to secret torture-chamber prisons in other countries, people detained without trial, people punished without conviction. It can’t happen here? It is happening here. It is going on right now.

    The reports are that there are 8 substantiated cases in the Chicago office of the FBI of abuse of the Patriot Act. I don’t care if it’s ONE case.

    Have you ever had someone short change you? And then when you complain about it, they remark that you were only shorted $0.30 cents. And your reply is, “Yeah, but it’s my $0.30!!” That’s my reply to the people who want to tell me, “Don’t worry, its only the abuse of 8 terrorist suspects.” I don’t care. I don’t care if it’s one shoplifting suspect. I don’t want it to be ME!!.

    And that’s the way it happens. The police are nice guys. They want to help. They want to throw the bad guys in jail. They want to make it all better for the families of the victims. And the police are very traditional. All clean cut and clean shaven and white bread. That makes it easy. The bad guys are the ones who are not clean cut, and clean shaven, with good jobs and white bread. No muss, no fuss, no warrants, no probable cause. Off with their heads.

    No.....Someday, it might be my head. It might be my $0.30.

    When the Nazis came for the communists,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a communist.

    When they locked up the social democrats,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a social democrat.

    When they came for the trade unionists,
    I did not speak out;
    I was not a trade unionist.

    When they came for the Jews,
    I did not speak out;
    I was not a Jew.

    When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out.

    - A poem attributed to Martin Niemöller

    How many communists are left in this country? How many trade unionists are left in this country?

    "But," you say, "today, ours is a just cause. Ours is a righteous cause. We need not worry about the rights of the terrorists. We are only arresting terrorists." To them I say, you have not yet read the first 30 pages of “Mein Kampf.” His too, was a just cause. His too was a righteous cause. He was only concerned with the welfare of the people.

    If we’ve got a TRILLION dollars ($1,00B,00M,00T,000 B=Billion, M=Million, T=Thousand) to pour down a rat hole called The War in Iraq, we’ve got enough time and money for judicial oversight.

    If we’ve got a TRILLION dollars ($1,000,000,000,000) to pour down a rat hole called The War in Iraq, we’ve got enough time and money for bank examiners to avaoid the Savings and Loan scandal.

    If we’ve got a TRILLION dollars ($1,000,000,000,000) to pour down a rat hole called The War in Iraq, we’ve got enough time and money for Food and Drug oversight.

    If we’ve got a TRILLION dollars ($1,000,000,000,000) to pour down a rat hole called The War in Iraq, we’ve got enough time and money for affordable health care.

    If we’ve got a TRILLION dollars ($1,000,000,000,000) to pour down a rat hole called The War in Iraq, we’ve got enough time and money to rebuild New Orleans.

    If we’ve got a TRILLION dollars ($1,000,000,000,000) to pour down a rat hole called The War in Iraq, we’ve got enough time and money for all the above and more, and it will not hurt business in this country one iota.

    To the contrary, if getting rid of the drag of a ruinous war and improving efficiency through honest oversight doesn’t improve the buisness climate, then the 1950s, 60s and 70s never happened in this country.

    The rich hated the ‘New Deal’ Franklin D. Roosevelt, but he ushered in the largest and longest era of prosperity the world has ever known. Ronald Reagan ended it. And it all happened for a reason that the rich, for all their money, don’t seem to understand. The cash to cash cycle.

    Our whole consumer economy is based on the Cash to Cash cycle. Cash, to Inventory, to Sales, to More Cash. The more you have of that cycle, the faster it goes, the more prosperous we are. That’s what happened in the last half of the last century. Since Reagan, the rich want to reverse that cycle to make it, the “Cash out of the economy and into my pocket” cycle. Therein lies economic depression, deflation and ruin. Because of jealousy over a few welfare queens, this country has completely bit off its nose to spite its face.

    And what’s the bottom line for all of this Nazification? Yesterday, it was reported that aleged senior al-Qaeda figure Khalid Sheikh Mohammed confessed to everything. No, I don’t mean he confessed to everything he was accused of, I mean he confessed to everything. From the roadside IEDs in Iraq, through the 911 disasters, through being on the grassy knoll at the Kennedy assasination down to the 1918 Influenza epidemic, he confessed to it all. It’s all his fault. There is no more Bin Laden. We don’t have him. But not to worry. The guy we DO have has confessed to it all.

    The bottom line is that now, nobody believes this. Do you? I don’t. Our government has been crying wolf since we last heard from Colin Powel. What happens when the boy cries wolf too loudly and too often?

    And if Ronald Reagan didn’t convince you that having a mediocre but very sincere actor as a puppet president isn’t a bad idea, then vote for Fred Dalton Thompson for president. He’s a better actor than Reagan ever was. And Thompson makes Reagan look like a Democrat. But if you're going to elect another actor as president, first find out who his producers and directors are. What's the plot? - © 2007 The Chewed End All rights reserved.

    Sunday, March 11, 2007

    Nazis. Mein Gott.(i)

    Big Al Capone is Dead but the Spirit of the Jack Boot Lives on In Chicago

    Is this the Olympic Spirit?

    What makes a Nazi?(ii) One of our perceptions of what was most hateful about the Nazis was their ‘anything goes’ push to get things done. Kill Babies? Fine. Force young and old healthy people into slave labor? No problem. Kill the old and infirm, the lame, the halt, basically anyone who would cost more to feed than they could produce in a day? OK, get rid of them. If they stand in your way, get rid of them. Even if they only stand in your way philosophically……Especially if they stand in your way philosophically! Get rid of them. Remember: the Nazis and the communists in Russia, China and Viet Nam came first for the intellectuals, the lawyers and the teachers. Free thinkers. The people who were most understanding of others.

    Ah, yes,

    When they came for the communists,(iii)
    I remained silent;
    I was not a communist

    When they locked up the social democrats,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a social democrat.……… they’re coming for the smokers.(iv)

    That’s the dilemma of people with a conscience that live in the city of Chicago. Sometimes in Chicago, the powers that be just can’t resist slipping on their pretend armbands with the swastikas and the pretend collar bars of the schutzstaffel and let the populace know just who is in charge of the city. Sometimes they just trample on other people for no other reason than because they have the power to do it. Its not enough that they pass a law that forbids smoking. Its not enough that they pass a law that forbids smoking even in places where it can’t really bother others. On top of making laws, they also have to let you know that whether you like it or not, they control your life. In fact the main point of the exercise is to show you in no uncertain terms that they can control your life. To show you that they can control your life most especially if you don’t like it.(v)

    Running a large city, especially one as diverse and complex as Chicago is tough. There’s a lot of conflicting interests and sometimes that doesn’t allow for the smoothest of roads to Oz. For example, one thing I learned a million years ago when I held(vi) a very tiny, teeny, teensy, weensy, political office, is that there’s certain things you can’t tell your constituents. For instance, if you want to use your office to eliminate slavery, you can’t very well tell the slave owners what you’re up to. Sorry I can’t think of a better example right now but I think you get my point. Being a politician isn’t always easy.

    The cause of all my consternation today is the story that there are people who want to close Marshall McGearty Artisans.(vii)(viii) It seems that in the face of the new laws that prohibit smoking in public places, a new venue has opened. Marshall McGearty Artisans is a tobacco lounge at Milwaukee and Damen. You have to be 21 to get in. McGearty’s serves drinks, food and will roll you a hand made butt. That’s probably pretty cool in view of the fact that these days most popular American cigarette brands are rolled with crap tobacco. To digress for a moment, I have to say that it wouldn’t surprise me if American cigarettes were made mostly of cardboard or something. This becomes readily apparent if you go to another country where the cigarettes are rolled with quality tobacco. Take for example, Craven’A’, a Jamaican brand. First, I was very pleased to find that Craven’A’ (with filters) is a good substitute for the US brand, Camel (without filters). In fact I was pleased to find that in addition to being a good switch, the quality was even better. For example, if you tamp a new pack against your hand before opening, the tobacco doesn’t slip down in the paper. If you try that with American cigarettes, the tobacco tamps down at least ¼ to 3/8 of an inch. I was amazed that the package is clearly marked “Genuine Virginia Tobacco”. They burn slower, smoke smoother and are a far higher quality tobacco than ANY US cigarettes.

    If people are dead set on smoking, can you blame them for making all they can out of the experience? We are talking about adults here. Under the restrictions promulgated by law these days, there can be little doubt that they MUST be allowed to pursue their course of action: It is legal. It is certainly no more dubious than drinking alcohol, casino gambling, lottery gambling, horse racing, dog racing, auto racing, and a host of other activities we readily put on TV and admire! The only thing that’s bad about smoking is that the PC Nazis have staked it out. And of course it will kill, cripple, maim and disfigure you! But the latter is also true for drinking alcohol, casino gambling, lottery gambling, horse racing, dog racing and auto racing.

    These people are adults participating in a legal pursuit. The kindest thing I can say about the people who object to this place is that they obviously have too much time on their hands. And we all know the military’s punishment for people with too much time on their hands, don’t we? (if you get complaints about anyone underage in the place, fine, prosecute them. But lets have lots of complaints from honest people. Don’t send in some kid with a ZZ Top beard who’s 17 years, 11 months, 30 days, 23 hours old and try to crucify them.)

    And don’t you believe that health crap. Its about money and power.

    Please don’t for a minute believe that I have any sympathies for Tobacco. But there is no social cost to smoking. The costs of treating smoking caused illnesses is just about balanced by the savings gleaned to society because smokers don’t hang around and collect their share of old age benefits. Smokers don’t linger in the hospital for years. Lung cancer is hard to diagnose early and lung cancer is aggressive. That is it’s a short time from onset to death.

    And don’t you believe that the politicians are trying to protect us from ourselves and from the second hand smoke of others. They are just pandering to the interests of the anti smoking fanatics who have scared the crap out of the rest of us. That and the tobacco settlements lets them put a few more of their relatives on the public payroll.

    Which brings us to why you needn’t believe the AMA or the American Cancer Society about how they only care for our well-being. The doctors rejoice over the double whammy of tobacco. If the medical profession can keep the public concentrated on hating smoking, maybe no one will notice that medical malpractice is way above lung cancer in how many people are killed every year. The second whammy is that the medical profession figures that they can make as much money selling nicotine patches to the addicts as the tobacco companies can earn pushing cigarettes. The struggle between the medical profession and the tobacco companies isn’t a clash between good and evil. Its just another street fight between two drug dealers.

    Next time you hear a doctor complain with great self-righteousness about how the tobacco industry is killing people, and he’s tired of the waste of medical resources to treat them, tell him the same thing that your boss tells you when you bitch about being tired of your job: Hey, Pal, there’s 1000 other mopes out there on the street just waiting for your job. If you don’t like it, hit the bricks!

    Do just what you should do when the doctor tells you to lose some weight: If he needs it, tell him to get on the scale.

    Next time you hear a doctor complain with great self-righteousness that he’s sick of treating gun shot wounds and we need to confiscate all the guns, tell him that we can get to that right after we take care of a much worse scourge: Malpractice by doctors.

    Who’s next? Autistic children? Alzheimer’s patients? They cost an awful lot in health care expenses. And they linger for years. Fat people? They’re mostly unproductive and ugly for sure. How about diabetics? They might not be as ugly as fat people, but they require expensive medicines all their lives. And when it comes to mealtime or party time, they’re not very exciting. Why thanks to the PC Nazis its already impossible to have a complex discussion about race or gender on most college campuses today.

    Lest you misconstrue, I’m a tobacco addict. I quit smoking years ago. I don’t remember when. I don’t keep track of things like that, but it was 5-10 years ago or more. While I respect 12 step programs, I find that counting the days of sobriety (straightness, cleanness???) would keep me focused on when I did smoke and be more detrimental than helpful.

    I’m a tobacco addict. I have no problem with alcohol. But I have had to admit that I can’t even enjoy one cigarette every 2-3 months like I’d hoped. I don’t even trust myself to have a few puffs of a cigar at Christmas or New Years or a wedding or christening. Tobacco is to me as alcohol is to a drunk. One butt today and I’m back to a pack a day tomorrow. I love the stuff but my neighbor recently had his bladder cut out due to cancer. Did you know that bladder cancer is highly correlated with smoking? Whoda thought? Lungs yes. Bladder? And did you know that there’s a urinary tract equivalent of a colostomy bag? If you don’t have insurance that’ll pay for bladder reconstruction there is. And by the way, my neighbor still smokes!

    And that’s the thing of it these days. We’re getting Nazified. Just as with the powers in Washington today, when you decide on the basis of YOUR right and truth that you are justified in all manner of prevarications and deformations of the truth to sell your point, you go right over the edge. You emulate your enemies to the point where what you do is exactly what they did.

    For these people who want to smoke themselves to death in peace, where are their 4th amendment rights to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects?

    For these people who want to smoke themselves to death in peace, where are their 9th amendment rights? The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others (rights) retained by the people.

    And for those who wish to close the hole that allows for a place such as Marshall McGearty Artisans, where are their rights under Art 1 Sec 10 against ex post facto laws.

    Tomorrow, look your favorite politician in the eye and ask yourself: “Is he interested in the common good or is he looking for the next lamb he can throw to the wolves to insure his reelection?”

    [i] Remember the guy….The low ranking German officer who was running that train station in the movie “Von Ryan’s Express”. Frank Sinatra (Ryan) wound up as ranking officer in a German prison camp toward the end of WWII. There was a mass escape. Sinatra, Trevor Howard and a few others were pretending to be German officers chaperoning a train full of the escapees. At one switch yard, the low rank officer was going to sidetrack the train or something. The prison camp chaplain was masquerading as the highest-ranking officer of the fake officers on the train. The priest was the only one who fit the honcho’s uniform or something. Anyway, to get the ‘unter offizer’ to let the train go on its way, the chaplain pulled the old
    movie trick of the ‘higher officer stymied by the lower officer’. The priest threw a fit, starting off with how the clerk’s tunic was unbuttoned at the top, and that he was going to report the clerk and all his people to the Fürrer for sloppy operations that were a disgrace to the Third Reich blah, blah, blah. The clerk complied with the chaplain’s wishes and rearranged the entire European rail system to suit the squeaky wheel (more like a clanking tank tread bearing down on you). As the party of ersatz officers left the railroad office, the relived clerk muttered the sigh of relief: “Nazis. Mein Gott.” The whole joke of the scene was that even the Nazis couldn’t stand the Nazis! Well that’s what I thought of when I heard that there were
    people who objected to Marshall McGearty Artisans….Nazis. My God.

    [ii] And don’t give me any of your holier than thou crap that I’m insulting WWII or the VFW or the Holocaust, or whatever it is axe that you grind, by calling these people Nazis. I’m so sick of groups that harp on their cause like they’re the only ones who’ve been wronged. Like pornography, I know a Nazi when I see one.

    [iii] A poem attributed to Martin Niemöller:

    When the Nazis came for the communists,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a communist.

    When they locked up the social democrats,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a social democrat.

    When they came for the trade unionists,
    I did not speak out;
    I was not a trade unionist.

    When they came for the Jews,
    I did not speak out;
    I was not a Jew.

    When they came for me,there was no one left to speak out.

    [iv] Where were the smokers (along with general aviation, cryptographers, anyone who uses telephone equipment, people with large debts, anyone with a brain when they passed the patriot act) when they tried to take away my guns?

    In recent years our fine government has tried to or succeeded at:

    Tried to eliminate General Aviation.
    Tried to require all computer encryption software to include a back door so the G could fight crime.
    Tried to allow phone companies and all their subsidiaries, partners and affiliates, the right to the use the personal information of anyone, any part of whose phone traffic traveled on any part of the phone company’s lines.
    Revised the bankruptcy laws so most anyone has to pay off their debts, no matter how long it takes. While Corporate bankruptcies of course are just an every day tool to void labor and supplier contracts.
    Do I need to even comment on the Patriot Act or what the librarians thought of it?
    Whenever I hear the above groups complain about the laws passes to make the politicians lives easier at the expense of the above groups, I always ask, “Where were you when they tried to take away my guns again this year?” And believe me, if this is Chicago, they will try to take away my guns again this year. It's no surprise, that like Nazi Germany, Illinois is one of the last two states in the US to allow concealed carry of firearms.

    [v] How much of a Nazi do you have to be to run Chicago? Well the most prominently quoted politician in the recent stories about this tobacco lounge has this as just one notch on his swagger stick: While its pretty evident to some that he hates black people, as evidenced at least inpart by his total opposition to the candidacy of Harold Washington, Chicago’s first black mayor, in recent years he and his wife foster parented a black infant. After the mother of this child, a woman with drug problems, completed all the requirements ordered by the court that took the child away, the politician and his wife sued to keep the child, maintaining that the mother was unfit. By the way, the wife is a Judge. Power trip? Racist? Nazi?

    [vi] Four times I held the office. And I was never elected. The popular guys who always kicked my ass in the election could take neither the heat of the office nor of their constituents. They quit mid term. I was then appointed to the vacancy.



    - © 2007 The Chewed End All rights reserved.

    Wednesday, March 07, 2007

    A Purity Ball??!!

    Once Again Our Founder Is Struck by the Bolt of the Sutra of Bodhi!

    Something That’s Just Not as Good an Idea as First Thought.

    Purity Balls? Can I believe what I’m hearing? The Middle East of this world may be the ultimate expression of religious zeal taken too far. But sex in hometown USA is another area that shows what can happen when those plagued by their own guilt have just a little too much time on their hands.

    In case you haven’t heard, as a way of teaching abstinence to pre and early teen girls, Purity Balls are being held, like a wedding reception or debutant ball, complete with refreshments, fancy cake and a band. The girls are escorted to the ball by their father and are encouraged to sign pledges or make vows to remain pure and chaste until marriage. These affairs are financed in some cases by federal sex education funds for teaching abstinence.

    In the first place, is it really a good idea to have fathers in the driver’s seat when it comes to intimate discussions regarding the development a young girl’s sexual expression? Particularly the fathers who claim to know teenage boys because they themselves were predators when they were younger? It seems to me that there are two problems here. First, is the problem of the teacher who has learned the material from the wrong perspective. The fact that a father understands predatory behavior doesn’t make his attitude appropriate for teaching his daughter. At least one of the things he is likely to do is to give his daughter several incorrect impressions about men. Not the least of which is the impression that men, for their own good, need to be led whatever. Any good man who senses that attitude is going to see a warped sense of values and decide not to waste time trying to reverse years of perverse indoctrination.

    Next, have these people forgotten the lesson of the Scribes and Pharisees? “Do as they say, not as they do.” That lesson came straight from the Top. Where I come from it’s taken for granted that when a politician or preacher begins to pound the podium a little too hard on the subject of sex, you need to make sure he’s not staying too late after school at the little girl’s club. Or the little boy’s club. Isn’t the sexual education of a daughter the province of a mother? Not that a father and daughter couldn’t relate on this subject, but it seems to me that there’s a reason that society has traditionally left this subject to mothers and daughters. And that reason isn’t embarrassment or ignorance. It has more to do with playing with fire.

    There is a complaint that a fair piece of these events have been financed with funds earmarked for teaching abstinence as sex education. I’m not all that concerned about this. Government money that goes back to the people at lower local levels is rarely a problem unless it creates a massive imbalance. There are all kinds of social programs which are basically boondoggles at the taxpayer’s expense. In a cash to cash economy such as ours, if small amounts of money (tens or hundreds of thousands rather than billions) are infused at low local levels, all that money does is stimulate the economy. Think of it. Where does the money for a Purity Ball really go. Money to rent the hall. Money for decorations. Money for the cake. Money for the dinner. Money for the music. That means money to the VFW or church hall, the local five and dime, the baker, the caterer and the local DJ or band.

    Of course these days, all that money may go to the local Wal-Mart and that’s a problem. At least things have improved to the point where the local Wal-Mart, the local Costco, the local Home Depot and the local Office Depot are all competing for that money. But that’s another story.

    The money spent on Purity Balls isn’t the problem. People who honestly, sincerely, wish to teach Abstinence or Intelligent Design don’t scare me. In fact whenever educators present either side of the coin fairly they do a service. God is the God of Truth and it is certain that the Truth will set you free. While “He who increases knowledge, increases sorrow.” it is equally true that Knowledge is Power.

    Of course getting back to massive imbalances, I think the elections of George Bush are a prime example that the money and power going to the right these days is creating a massive imbalance. If fear of electing someone who might be sexually indescrete causes people to vote for someone who's corporate greed drags us into a war more destructive to ourselves than the enemy, I'd call that an imbalance. But that is money being injected in huge amounts at high levels of our society and that, is another story. Once the decision has been made to appropriate funds for any sort of education, the concern about funds for teaching anything to our youth should be that the money is honestly spent on teaching. Money spread around in moderate amounts to teach the truth at the local level can only do good as long as all sides of the question have access to the appropriations process.

    No, the thing that really scares me about Purity Balls is getting young women to sign chastity pledges. Like the people who ask teens to sign pledges not to take drugs, if these pledges are not coupled with proper education of ALL sides of the issues, the adults involved are just setting the teens up, like Humpty Dumpty, to take a great fall.

    Young people, when the hormones and temptation kick in, experiment with sex. The same way that most all people experiment with drugs, when depression or boredom and temptation kick in. Both are natural urges and can only be properly treated with extensive education and training. That’s why there should be more education on sex and drugs rather than less. You don’t think drugs are natural urges? Then why does every culture I can think of smoke something and drink alcohol? Talk about a need for education.

    Young people are going to experiment with sex, and like telling them that drugs are bad, telling pre teens that all sex is bad is painting yourself either a liar or stupid. The problem with sex and drugs from an adolescent point of view is that they’re good. Too good. Better than anyone can believe at that age. And unless you learn the dark side of too much pleasure, you will not be able to deal with the irresponsible overindulgence or addiction, be it chemical or emotional dependency.

    Getting a young person to sign a pledge or vow that, in all likelihood, they can’t possibly keep is akin to child molestation or sexual harassment. It is an adult, a superior, a guardian, who, for the ease and satisfaction of that guardian, convinces the child to follow a path that seems at the time to be the upstanding thing to do. Make a vow to follow a noble path. They are setting the child up for a lifetime of guilt. A vow once made, cannot be taken back. But that’s no worry to the one who led the young person to make that onerous vow. Anyone who is thinking of counseling someone to make a vow should first read about vows in Ecclesiastes 5:4-7:
    “When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it; for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake; why should God be angry at your voice, and destroy the work of your hands? For when dreams increase, empty words grow many: but do you fear God.” (The Revised Standard Version)
    And if that doesn’t sober you up, I don’t know what will.

    The older I get the more I realize I'm not "just like my father." I am my father. If a parent is worried a child will stray, the parent first needs to look to the example that child is learning from. It isn't the randy boy that will corrupt your daughter, it is the lack of example and lack of role model she has had from which to develop her own character.

    If that father, who thinks he knows what young boys are after, really wants to protect his daughter, he needs to (without going into details of course) confess his own sin to his daughter and ask her forgiveness for not being the man she deserves to have as a father. He needs to explain to his daughter how he would live his life if he had the chance to do it all over again.

    Given the opportunity to experience that kind of humility in a man, a young girl will never settle for a young tough who is nothing but testosterone on a stick.

    If you really think you’re a man and can talk to your daughter about sex, turn your bible to the 22nd book. It’s called the Song of Solomon. If you want to discuss sexuality with your daughter, have a discussion about the meaning of that book and its place it scripture. - © 2007 The Chewed End All rights reserved.

    Tuesday, February 20, 2007

    Is George Bush Crazy?

    War Reparations?!

    It might be a good thing for the USA if he is!

    If doing the same thing over and over and hoping for different results is one definition of insanity, does George Bush qualify as insane?

    Is that what Bush is doing in the “Iraq Surge.” Throwing good money after bad. Throwing fresh troops after dead and wounded. What can he possibly hope to accomplish?

    Bush is doing this in contrast to his usual behavior of doing the same thing over and over and hoping for the SAME results. Unfortunately, for us, his usual behavior is that of a greasy used car salesman. It’s not just the old stale line about WMD that got us into the war. Go back. Listen to his state of the union speeches. They are classic used car salesman pitches. Promises, promises and all about things that we want to hear and which he has absolutely no plans to implement. Education, health care, prison issues, he has absolutely no interest in these things. He’s just making a slick sales pitch for a product he knows we will not examine carefully before we take it home.

    Look further back. A couple of years ago he announced we were going to Mars. The planet Mars. When, after that first month, have you heard more about a mission to Mars. At the time he was laughed at because it was so extremely out of character for him. But it was only noticeable because it was so far out for him. It was still just the same old “bait and don’t even bother to switch” that ‘W’ always gives us. Halliburton doesn’t launch or design spacecraft.

    He ruined the Texas school system, he ruined the Texas health care system, and he ruined the Texas prison system. Now he’s doing more of the same at the national level. That’s George doing what he always does and praying for the same results. The results that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld & Rice, Inc (B,C,R&R Inc.) are being paid to produce by the Halliburton good old boys.

    But the war may be something else. And there’s a good reason we better hope that there’s a difference.

    So far there’s been no talk of impeaching Bush. That’s quite surprising given the national disgust with the war coupled with B,C,R&R Inc.’s constant thumbing of their noses at congress and at the American People. On the other hand, as often happens when the boy cries wolf, when the Republican’s used the impeachment of Clinton over nothing as payback for Nixon, the whole country got a sour taste in its mouth for the national pastime of Beltway Bickering. This kind of thing can happen at the most unfortunate time. What better example of a president who needs to be impeached than Bush? The man has no regard for anyone, save perhaps those lining his pockets, and he’s egregiously flaunting his authority with that, “I’m the decider.” nonsense. Certainly he gets to give the order to send in the troops, but he does not get to mire the country in an offensive, immoral and unwanted war when everyone, save those profiting by the war, are against the war.

    Another reason why there’s been no talk of impeachment, I think, is that an impeachment of Dubya would be a blueprint to charge Bush and the joint chiefs with war crimes and then to come after the rest of us for war reparations.

    Think of it. The war is a fraud. Is there any other way to characterize it? If there’s any doubt of that, look at Colin Powell. When was the last time we heard from him. He’s hiding out hoping the country will forget about his pivotal role in convincing us that Saddam had nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Powell probably still hopes he can run for president when he turns 98 or 102 years old. I can remember clearly as he spoke and displayed the pictures of the trucks outside the plant he assured us was a chemical weapons plant, that he better know more than he was telling. He was asking us to believe that just because a bunch of trucks were delivering and picking up freight at a warehouse, that we should go to war for longer than WWII, kill over 3,000 and maim over 60,000 of our own people. I remember clearly thinking that what he was claiming was proof meant nothing, unless he knew more than he was telling.

    As it turns out, he knew even less than he was telling. It was all a sham. I might be excused for not having made an immediate trip to Washington to stand outside the White House and shout, “Fraud!” Even congress might be forgiven for being gun-shy when B,C,R&R Inc. fabricated the reasons for war because of the mood of the country which would not tolerate dissent. A mood, the depth of which was subsequently demonstrated by the Patriot Act, warrant less phone tapping and warrant less opening of US Mail. But can the people who knowingly fabricated the totally baseless stories of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons be forgiven?

    Not guilty by reason of temporary insanity? We better hope so. Russian President Vladimir Putin has already started calling names. And soon the rest of the world isn’t going to quibble over, “Can you call Bush a liar unless you also call Clinton a liar?” the way the US media does.

    Unless the Netherlands could successfully invade Washington DC and arrest the Joint Chiefs and B,C,R&R Inc., I don’t see how it could possibly go beyond bluster. But if the world starts calling for the arrest and prosecution of the US military for war crimes, they will be coming after you and me for war reparations. They won’t get it out of you or me, but if you plan on leaving any money to your children or grandchildren, you might want to find a way to hide some of it.

    And if you think congress passing gas…….non binding resolutions might hurt the delicate morale of our troops, just wait until some people in funny uniforms show up and start trying to arrest people for war crimes. - © 2007 The Chewed End All rights reserved.

    Monday, February 19, 2007

    If You Pay For Credit Repair, You Haven’t Learned Anything Yet!

    The Shearing of the Sheep

    Don’t get ripped off again for this simple process.

    I can’t say I’ve really looked into it, but if someone wants to charge you money to repair your credit, here’s what you do. After you tell them to take a flying leap, that is.

    First, find a credit union that will take you as a member. You have to be a member of their charter population, but you can usually find one that has the geographic area you live in, or something like that, as a population. There is a Credit Union that will only take people who work for the Chicago downtown post office. That’s their charter population. Some are less specific. Mine, in addition to numerous specific companies in the area, will also take anyone who lives within 5 miles of their main office. That’s what you’re looking for if you don’t have a Credit Union at your job, church or social club.

    Next, take a $500 secured loan from a credit union and deposit the $500 in a savings account with the credit union as the security. If they keep the money and freeze the account, you should be able to get the loan even if your credit is really in the toilet. Inquire about their credit reporting practices. This loan will do you no good if they don’t report it to a credit agency like TransUnion or Experian. If you have to, find out if they will report as a special case. Often institutions will do that upon request. Sometimes, institutions only report loans with a period OVER one year. While credit cards often report transactions monthly, credit cards are what got you into trouble in the first place. And there are cheaper ways to do the same thing you are trying to do with a credit card.

    Finally, without ever touching the money in the account (to spend it, that is,), pay back the loan. If you have to use some of the money in the savings account to pay off the loan, that’s not best but that’s OK. Even of the account is frozen, they should let you make payments on the loan as long as the savings balance is more than the total of the loan plus the total interest on the loan. Best if you don’t ask to do that until at least ½ the loan is paid. And not more than one or two payments over the course of the loan. Otherwise you’re just wasting everyone’s time.

    Two or three things happen here. For the $15 you wasted in interest on the loan, you have $500 in the bank. Also, there is a report of all the timely payments you made on the loan at the credit bureau for your new creditors to see. And your credit score will go up.

    You can also do this with a secured credit card. But be careful. Make sure you know ALL the hidden charges of that credit card. You will probably have to pay interest charges far in excess of the Credit Union account so unless you really need the credit card to buy things, don’t fool around with it. Stick to secured Credit Union loans for the first few thousand dollars. If you can’t build up a few thousand dollars in the bank, you’ve got no business buying things with a credit card. If you can’t build up a few thousand dollars in the bank, how are you ever going to buy a car? The difference in buying a car, no money down with bad credit vs. buying a car with just $2500 down can be double the price. Do you really want to pay $25,000 for a $12,000 car? Do you really want to, at the end of 6 years, have a worthless car on which you still owe $8000? Sure you can roll that over into the next car. I knew a co-worker who did that a few times. He wound up with a dead Nissan Pathfinder with 240,000 miles on which he still owed $14,000!!!

    In the same way that big, beautiful, brightly lit, flashy casinos are not built by letting the players win more than they lose, big, beautiful, brightly lit, flashy car dealerships are not built by selling cars at rock bottom prices. Nor by financing cars at rock bottom prices. Nor by selling auto insurance at rock bottom prices. Nor by selling rust proofing or finish protection at rock bottom prices. Nor by selling aftermarket radios, DVD players, leather seats, or heated seats at rock bottom prices. You have to shop and dicker over every one of those items. Or if you don’t you can forget about taking a vacation or having Christmas this year. Or any other year.

    You can also forget about Christmas and the vacation if you let someone talk you into Credit Repair. Just like Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, there ain’t no such thing as Credit Repair. - © 2007The Chewed End All rights reserved.

    Saturday, February 17, 2007

    Just What is the Value of Insuring Shipments?

    The Shearing of the Sheep

    A look at life's realities.

    A couple of days ago I mailed 4 packages. 3 were of little consequence. I didn't even bother to insure them at all. The 4th package was insured for $1650 total value. It cost $60.40 to send that one 27 pound package. The insurance was $19.10, the postage was $40.80. In all that follows, please remember, that there's a lot of "He said. She said." and "Who shot John?" Obviously I wasn't there when the package was received. I wasn't there when it was taken to the Post Office for inspection. I wasn't there for the conversation between the postal official and the recipient of the package. The recipient relayed these conversations to me.

    You would think that if you insured something and sent it off, if it got damaged in transit, you'd file a claim, there'd be an investigation, and you'd get your money. That's the theory behind paying the insurance. That's not the way it always works. In fact, it seldom works that way. Probably the only time it works that way is if the goods completely disappear in transit.

    My package contained $1650.00 worth of shotguns I sold on an internet auction site. That was the $1567 auction price of the guns plus the freight. Naturally the first package with only $40 worth of shot shell reloading equipment arrived intact. As did the package with the empty original gun boxes. Also the third package, the empty carry case for the Winchester in its original box, arrived safely. But the box that held the actual Ruger Red Label and the Winchester 101 Diamond Grade didn't make it intact. The over/under shotguns were shipped broken down (barrels separate from stocks) and nestled in a velvet lined, padded, locked, hard sided airline case. This is an airline case which made at least 3 cross country round trips without incident. The case with the guns was even packed in the box that the case came in. Yet upon arrival the wood fore ends of both guns were cracked. There must have been an exceedingly severe blow to just the right spot to have damaged such well packed items with so little damage to the outside of the box. It makes one think.

    The Post Office puts a bright blue "Insured" label on insured packages. If an unhappy employee wishes to get back at his employer as that package pass through his hands, might he not give it a good slam? The other 3 packages (not nearly as well protected) arrived unscathed. Only the package clearly marked "Insured" was damaged. The airlines used to make you attach a bright red "firearms" tag to your case when you checked a gun as baggage. It was required that the gun be unloaded when checked. An unloaded firearm is about as non-hazardous an item as you can think of. But when you attach a red tag to the box, you invite theft. A stolen gun will probably ultimately wind up in the hands of a criminal which makes a piece of luggage with a red tag on it becomes a very dangerous item indeed. A good example of how burocracy can turn something harmless into something deadly. Just a thought.

    When the buyer called to say the guns arrived damaged, my first fleeting thought was, "My God, I wonder if they think I shipped damaged merchandise?" With relief, my next thought, and what I said to the buyer was, "No problem, we're fully insured." How naive on my part. His answer, "Sure, we'll just file a claim." showed he was just as green. The damage, while it could be repaired by $2 worth of glue and a couple hours of time, would cost over $1000 for factory replacement wood. The repair would have to be custom work for the 101 as Winchester Olin is out of business.

    The long and the short is, if the package had never arrived, the claim would have been paid in full. Unfortunately, when there's a partial loss
    due to damage, the carriers know all too well that the claim is open to all kinds of estimation, negotiation and downright fraud. Naturally, the carrier's response it a slow drawn out process which quickly weeds out all but the largest, most legitimate, and most easily proved claims.

    The rest of the claims, like ours, will be put to death by euthanasia to avoid a long, slow, lingering death. If we'd have filed a claim, we'd have had to give the damaged fore ends to the Post Office for the local office to send to a national claims center. The clerk told the buyer that most likely the claim would be denied after about a 6 month investigation because while there was some damage to the box, it did not seem to be enough to damage the merchandise inside. Nothing encourages you to file a report like the person taking the report telling you that you are wasting your time.

    A six month investigation would mean that the buyer would have his money tied up for 6 months in 2 guns he could not sell with parts sitting at the Post Office national claims center. Then in 6 months the Post Office would deny the claim and send the broken parts back and the buyer would be in the same position he is now. What we did was this: The buyer asked his customers if they wanted to take the damaged but repairable guns for $100 (ea) off the previously agreed price. The buyer and I split the $200, ($85 Buyer, $115 Seller) and the deals were closed that day. Everyone paid a little more for a little less than they wanted, but was satisfied with a reasonable deal in the end. Except the Postal Service. They pocketed the $19.10 insurance fee.

    The buyer could have blown up at me, accused me of shipping damaged merchandise and filed the insurance claim or paid to ship the guns back to me for a refund. Either way, he loses. I could have blown up and accused the buyers of trying to cheat me, faking the damage, and recounting a non existent conversation with the postal clerk. They would then have carefully packed my guns in nothing but a couple of garbage bags and mailed them back to me. I lose.

    The way both the buyer and seller dealt with this unfortunate damage was wisest and the best for both of them. Take a small, bad tasting lump, while still making money on the deal. Let it go, and concentrate on the next deal. Hopefully a smoother one.

    The real questions are: First, do I deal with this buyer again? From all he says, he's eager to deal with me again. Which actually has me somewhat concerned. Second, do I ship insured goods with the USPS again. It's the insurance label on the package which has me concerned, not the carrier. I'm sure (and I mean I'm really sure) that USPS, UPS, Fedex, DHL and any other carrier are about the same in this area.

    I think the solution is this: I'll deal with the buyer again, but keep him on a short leash. I still have a number of guns for sale. I'll see if he'll buy one of the less expensive ones. Then I'll still ship it USPS, but I'll take it to the Post Office packed but unsealed. I'll show it undamaged to the Postmaster at my station. If it gets damaged on the way down again, I won't care about the insurance loss. I'll let the Postal Inspectors follow the next (empty but heavily insured) package to find out who's putting a burr under my blanket. - © 2007The Chewed End All rights reserved.

    Friday, February 09, 2007

    DomainNames of the Greek and Roman gods!!

    Thalia Made Me Do It.

    Things I've Found on the Way to Look Up Other Things

    I'm not particularly a trivia geek, but now, with broadband, I like to look anything that piques my curiosity. Thus I am always running across interesting things on the way to looking up other things. It's like Hyper-Thoughts or Hyper-Musing. Often by the time I get to the end of the moment's curiosity, I can't even remember what I was first looking for or why I came to the final resting place. Usually this info is readily available on the net, but not all tied together in this knot. Here's the first instalment:

    I must have been checking the availability of a DomainName and for some reason I wondered if the gods had their own DomainNames and sites. You can easily find a listing of the gods and you can WHOIS whatever you want. But this particular table just isn't out there. Unfortunately, the thing that's most interesting about the DomainNames of the gods is first, how paltry and common are the websites that own these famous names and second, how few of them are actual websites.

    And I mean boring to the max. Try plugging in www. + a god's name. + com, net and org. About 59% are software or hardware related companies. Naturally the net geeks were first to realize the value of the names of the gods. Unfortunately, it looks like they are the last to realize that to reach any portion of the real potential of these names, the name has to be coupled with a product, company, image or concept that energizes the name. Another 39% are just placeholders. Either unavailable sites, junk sites with an offer to sell the DomainName or some other come on.

    Only about 2% seem to have any pizazz to them:

    • looks like a secret site. Either it's a placeholder and ad for NetBox web services or it's a super secret site and you have to know the way in.
    • is a well known ISP
    • If you're male and still alive, or female and looking for a bathing suit, I can recommend For the gentlemen I further recommend the "Other Cover-ups" page. (I had to go back to the page 5 times just to get the spelling of "Cover-ups" correct.) Not the page with the most skin, but definitely the most beautiful swimwear and women. Actually I'm kind of amazed this site isn't a household word site like Unless I'm in the dark here.
    • Not to denigrate anyone's contribution but, after, and net are big disappointments., net and org even more so.
    • Thank God for the Mars candy company which got it's start in my home town, Chicago, unless I'm mistaken. They have a site and a company which at least reasonably approaches the size of the god's name. Looks like they're a little more than Mars Bars now.
    • is the Amateur Radio Disaster Services site. MMmmmmm....must have been amateur radio emergency services (ares) at one time. At least this site seems to have the gravitas one might hope for.
    • really IS a secret site that just asks for a password. Très frais.
    • = just plain strange. Too much or too little bacchanalia there me thinks.
    • is another site that begins and ends at index.html. It does show you a beautiful detail of Bacchus from some painting.
    • & .org is a portal (yawn) to a french site about Duval, Pannier and Ruinart (bigger yawn) champagne. They might be very fine sparkling wines, but believe me, Dionysus was not about the gentrified consumption of refined champagne. At least not after the 3rd or 4th day.
    And that's it for now. I've gone through both Roman and Greek versions of Zeus, Hera, Venus, Ares, Bacchus .com, .net and . org, 30 sites, and only,, and were interesting. will be worth another look for the suits (women) and accessories (men) and to see just how really weird it is, but so far that's it. If anyone finds anything of further interest, please leave a comment. Thanks! - © 2007The Chewed End All rights reserved.
    Seamus O'Bròg is an artist and freelance writer who tries to turn life's irritations into life's lessons.

    His money back guaranteed newsletter "The Pitfalls of Unlocked Cell Phones and SIM Card Cloning" can be purchased by clicking here.