Archive | March, 2014

Of Heaven and Homophily

31 Mar

Does anyone practice religion in heaven, and if so, what for?

Rise of the Machines III

29 Mar

Here is something that I just cannot seem to wrap my head around.

According to a news article that I recently came across, Pedestrian train accidents have been increasing dramatically. In 2013 (Through Aug. 31), there had been 352 pedestrian deaths compared with 281 during the same period in 2012, a 25 percent rise. The fatality rate in the first eight months of 2013 was the highest in a decade.

How does one manage to get hit by a train? I mean, first of all they are gigantic, mechanical locomotives! Secondly, they make tremendous amounts of noise and they have really loud horns that they blow when they see you and you don’t see them! And thirdly, and I think most importantly, they can only be found…on train tracks!

And yet there has been a growing phenomenon not only found in humans on train tracks but also among humans everywhere, called “distracted walking,” where pedestrians can lose a sense of their surroundings as they text and chat on mobile phones. Injuries to distracted walkers treated at hospital emergency rooms have more than quadrupled in the past seven years and these numbers are even believed to be underreported.

Perhaps you have crossed paths with one of these techno zombies or have been accused of occasionally having the infection? But might not this strange human behavior be the result of a sinister plot hatched by these very same and increasingly more ubiquitous and ever more self-cognizant machines!… In their attempt to take over humanity?

I realize that 352 human fatalities on train tracks (compared to all of humanity) isn’t very many…but if you are the machines…

It could be considered a start. Could it not? How else to explain…being run down…by a train???

New Jersey’s Big Fat Investigation

28 Mar

The verdict is in!

New Jersey has just spent 1 million tax payer dollars for a complete investigation of our Governor’s possible involvement in the closing of 3 lanes of the George Washington Bridge and the creation of a massive traffic jam, as payback for a Democratic mayor who did not support him.

And the Survey says: Governor Christie knew nothing!

That sure is comforting.

It’s always nice to know that your governor’s close personal friends and appointed aides are working hard for him and your state, without his direction nor his knowledge of what they are doing.

And who conducted this thorough and complete investigation?…for the tidy sum of 1 million dollars?

The governor’s close personal friends of course!

The law firm responsible for the investigation, Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher, has worked for the Christie administration previously. Debra Wong Yang, one of the top partners at the firm, is a friend of Governor Christie and, employees of the firm have previously donated money to Governor Christie’s campaign for statewide office…And three of the Governor’s aides, who were most integrally involved in the scandal, refused to be interviewed by the investigators…which is always nice to know.

They don’t do law in real life like they do it on TV do they? I sure hope the lunches were good.

But, I guess that when you are only paying 1 million dollars for an internal investigation you can’t expect the investigation to be very thorough. I mean really, how many billable hours can you expect from a top notch law firm when you are only paying them 1 million dollars??? Perhaps the Governor might want to look into cutting some of these wasteful, overpaid lawyers from the state budget just like he did with the wasteful, overpaid policemen, firemen and teachers a few years back.

Oh well, just more money down the New Jersey political drain. I wonder if any of that 1 million will find its way back to the Governor through campaign contributions from his favorite law firm. That’s probably very impolite of me to wonder and I’m sure the Governor wouldn’t know anything about that anyway since he’s going to be so busy running for the Presidency over the next 2 years, to pay much attention to the job that I do believe we tax payers are paying him to do…for us.

Wow! What a big, fat waste of time!

The investigation I mean.

Charter Charlatans?

27 Mar

If you live in the NYC area then you know that newly elected mayor, Bill DiBlasio, is working to fulfill a campaign pledge to charge rent to charter schools. The mayor said he wants to charge rent based on how much a school can afford to pay, and he also wants to slow or perhaps even stop the continued growth of the NYC charter school movement so that more focus can be brought back to the public schools. Naturally the charter schools are up in arms over this proposal because charter schools receive rent-free space in city buildings even though they are privately run.

During Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure, Money for charter schools increased from $32 million to $659 million and what was once a modest collection of 17 charter schools has now expanded to 159 charter schools within the city…and overall the NYC education budget has almost doubled to 25 billion dollars from the 13 billion dollars that was being spent when mayor Bloomberg took office.

But the city charter schools, along with receiving free rent from the city also raise quite a lot of money from the private sector including large donations from “philanthropists” like the Waltons of Wal-Mart fame, and the hedge fund billionaire Paul Tudor Jones, along with other prominent Wall Street tycoons, (You probably remember them from the great financial crash of 2008)… Anyway, That’s how Success Academy Charter Schools’ chief executive officer, Eva Moskowitz. can make nearly $500,000 a year to run only 22 “non-profit” schools.

That’s also how Mayor DiBlasio can be opposed by a “nonprofit” charter advocacy group called Families for Excellent Schools. They have organized rallies in Albany, created an internet website and spent 3.6 million dollars on commercials that can be seen constantly throughout the day on television here in the tri-state area. Charter school political action committees have even donated more than 100 thousand dollars to NY Governor Cuomo and other NY state politicians.

So is it a surprise that The Governor says that he is now “Excited” about charter school growth and that Mayor Di Blasio is now beginning to step away from his hardline campaign stance against charter schools?

Isn’t it amazing what money can do? Teachers and educators have always known that money makes a difference when it comes to your child’s education. Can your public schools use its public money to advertise in favor of the public school budget? Do your public schools have 3.6 million dollars that they don’t need for educating your children, to use for creating commercials to “convince” local politicians and influence you to support their efforts in passing the public school budget, let alone raising the school budget?

Money matters! And one has to ask why billionaires are so interested in paying large sums of money in order to gain control of and advertise for the privatization of the public schools in our country… What’s in it for them? And most importantly, what do you think is really in it for you and your children? In the short term privatization always looks good, especially when there is a multimillion dollar ad campaign to help you to try and make up your mind.

But in the long run? Just ask yourself this: When have Wal-Mart, Wall Street tycoons and billionaires ever been interested in spending money on the poorer classes of this country…except when it leads to greater class exploitation and increased profits for themselves?

 

 

 

 

Shameless

24 Mar

I’m always receiving lots of junk Email in my inbox. Probably you do too. Most of it goes straight to my spam folder but every once in a while some slip through to my inbox and that’s mostly because every once in a while I can’t help but open one up just to see what it says. I’m sure that sets off an alarm in my browser that tells the internet police, “Hey! This guy will read anything! Send him more!”

Today I couldn’t help but be intrigued by this one titled: Background Checks: Find Out Your Parents’ Past Crimes!

If you’re curious about your parents’ past crimes, it just might be time to pack up and leave the house…unless of course you feel  they’ve been cheating you on your allowance and owe you more money for the lookout work you’ve been helping them out with… or maybe you feel they’ve been moonlighting with another gang late at night after you’ve been sent to your room to do your homework.

Here was another Email with the heading: Shameless Liars and Thieves!

It was from a Republican newsletter and after I opened it, it immediately identified the shameless liars and thieves as…the government. (As if I didn’t already know) but what had they done this time? Apparently our government has been withholding the secret to a cure for cancer for over 85 years! (I guess that means Republicans have been in on in too!)

Anyway, the short memo, as it’s called, goes on and on and on and explains that the good Dr. Al Sears knows the cure for cancer, aging, obesity, arthritis, depression, Alzheimer’s, and even graying hair! In fact he knows the cure for everything! All you have to do is purchase his newsletter and buy and read his 5 volume set about how to cure everything. And somehow the government can no longer stop him! Hooray for the internet! Hooray!

Of course, as any English teacher can tell you, always read to the end before answering any questions or filling out any forms because if you scroll down to the very end of this rag sheet you’ll find this disclaimer:

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Well, I suppose you’ve got to give them some credit. After all, they did put the words Shameless Liars and Thieves right there in the title to their Email. You just had to read to the end to find out that they were talking about themselves…

Now, If only someone could find a cure for people who behave like that!…or is it being kept a secret?

The Icebergs Cometh

23 Mar

Here is another word for you: Glaciologist: One who studies glaciers or ice

And not in a bar-tending kind of way but rather in a global warming way, as in glaciers, climate change and ice melt!

Apparently, according to glaciologists, there is some startling news! The North Pole is melting! And not in a slow, “oh no someone left the freezer door slightly ajar” kind of way but rather in a “ding dong the wicked witch is dead”, kind of way…

Because Greenland is now a lot greener than it used to be and is losing ice at the rate of 30+ feet per year. Just imagine 30 feet of solid ice melting. And that’s just this year because the ice is not melting at a constant rate but rather at a rate that is accelerating every year, so whatever predictions the glaciologists make based upon today’s melt rate, they have to be revisited every year and updated.

And even though folks around the world continue to debate the scientific merits of global warming and whether or not mankind has anything to do with it (rather than just God’s love) the glaciologists have absolutely no doubt that we are to blame. And why is that?…Because the ice in Greenland is black. And why is that?… Because the black color is from the soot that has settled all over it, making it melt at at even faster rate…and soot of course is not a heavenly substance but rather a consequence of fossil fuel burning by God’s most beloved and favored of creatures…us.

But don’t despair! It’s not too late! All we have to do is cut our worldwide carbon emissions by 85%!

But wouldn’t you know…we’re increasing worldwide carbon emissions every year. And as soon as 2 and a half billion people in China and India really get their economies going…we’ll really start to do some cooking…both literally and…literally!

So don’t buy beach property! Rent instead. And tell your grandchildren to move inland or to higher ground and if they are already there, tell them to expect neighbors, and lots of them,  because by the end of this century…or sooner… 80 out of 100 coastal cities in the world will be under water…and not in a good way like some futuristic Jules Verne kind of way but rather in a “glub, glub” kind of way.

Of course giant, moveable, and super expensive sea walls could be constructed to protect our cities but when you consider that most world cities contain a much greater portion of poverty as compared to wealth I’m betting that most of the wealth is just going to vote to move elsewhere…what do you think?

Anyway, there’s still some time and science could be wrong but who would you believe? Someone who has studied hard and dedicated his life to obtain a degree in Glaciology and who has seen and is studying ice melt with their own eyes… or rather someone who has studied hard to become a politician or an evangelist and who says, “Don’t worry about it” or “Let us pray”??

Maybe Noah’s Ark wasn’t a history lesson but rather a prophesy? In any event, when the iceberg cometh, ask not for whom the ice was ordered. It cometh with room service…for thee!

 

Wanna Bet?

19 Mar

Warren Buffet, Quicken Loans and Yahoo Sports are teaming up to offer 1 billion dollars to the first sports enthusiast to correctly pick a perfect bracket of winners for the upcoming NCAA Basketball Tournament. However, They are limiting the number of contestants to 15 million and should more than one sports enthusiast win, then they will have to split the prize.

But, I wouldn’t worry about that because the odds of picking 63 tournament games correctly are…

9.2 quintillion-to-1!

But that’s if you are just guessing, otherwise, if you know something about NCAA basketball, experts say that your odds increase to…

128 billion- to-1!…So it is possible.

But, no one has ever had a perfect bracket in over 30 million entries in the ESPN competition, which began in 1998…So, it’s a pretty safe bet that this is just a gigantic publicity stunt and an attempt to entice some folks to refinance their homes with a Quicken Loan, while they attempt to fill out their brackets on-line.

But, let’s just say that just one someone…perhaps myself…has picked 62 games correctly… and now with just 1 game to go between the 2 remaining teams, say, Boondock College Vs. MegaState University, and all the world focuses on…ME… to see whether or not I will become an overnight billionaire! And it all hinges on one game! Winner take all! Loser gets Nada. What Hoopla! What Excitement!

And here’s why that could never happen.

If I need Boondock College to win the game so I can become a billionaire all I have to do is to announce that if I win, every player on Megastate U. will get 1 million dollars, and I’ll even throw in 10 million dollars to the University to use for scholarships or bills or whatever…and to be completely fair and magnanimous, I’ll announce the same largess to the Boondock College players and university; A benevolent gift for all involved…as long as I win of course… because I won’t be a billionaire should I lose will I?

I won’t be asking anyone to lose on purpose or not play fair or even suggest anything improper or out of the ordinary. I will just make known my planned generosity should I win the final game of my bracket. I’ll even put in in writing. A total of about 50 million dollars in gifts to all players and both Colleges involved in this most momentous event…after all I stand to win 1,000 million so what’s 50 give or take?

Of course once I do that, everyone in the USA and world for that matter, will bet on Boondock College to win. How could they lose? That would mean that Las Vegas would have to immediately cancel all betting and Warren Buffet might as well just get out his check book and start writing and the NCAA would probably just cancel the game anyway because what a circus this would become…heck, I might as well just make my announcement when I get to the final 4. That would be a 100 million dollar pledge on a 1,000 million dollar win so…maybe I’ll just do it when I get to the elite 8? Then 200 gets me 1,000. How about the sweet 16?

In any event, 1 billion dollars is a lot of money and sooner or later I’m betting that the NCAA would just have to shut down the tournament and send the students back to class. (Did I just use NCAA, students and class all in the same sentence?) Anyway, 1 billion dollars may not be a lot of money to Yahoo, Quicken Loans, Warren Buffet or, sadly, even the NCAA… but to us regular folks and poor college athletes, I’m pretty sure it could buy a lot of good will and some creative play making in the final stages of the… “tournament”.

What do you think?

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