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.
Seamus O'Bròg is an artist and freelance writer who tries to turn life's irritations into life's lessons.

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