Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Say Goodnight, Barney!

Howie Carr said it best about Barney Frank - “Xmas has come early.”

Wrentham Outlets should have a 24/7 mental health clinic open from 11/1 through December. Special interventions should take place for any and all - customers and store managers - involved in any Black Friday sales.

Black Friday is a 100% corporate insult to a steady customer base. You can shop a store year round yet refuse to participate in the foolish madness to save a few bucks and you lose out.

A car dealership tells you all you need to know with the term dealer as part of the title. You go in expecting to “deal.” If you have some poker playing skills and do not mind playing the game you save some money. If you are not adroit at this economic song and dance you do not make out as well. The whole process is reminiscent of “negotiating” with street vendors attempting to sell you knock off items. What is really so pathetic about the situation is that extra few hundred can mean a bundle more to some than others. At least with the internet all those sales tactics and prices are now open for display.

And for car dealers I don’t want an LCD TV or a $500 Visa card so just (insert laughter) apply it to lowering my price.

Comcast is my ISP. I also post on Comcast Forums and just about exclusively on the sports forums. Comcast had decided to close the forums with no apparent reason given. Comcast had 36B in revenue and a net of 8.4% on that revenue,

Comcast also has a help forum that helps customers with trouble shooting. Several years ago I discovered that the forum was operated by volunteers and they had - after some diligent Bogo research - limited access to personal information. I contacted their legal office about this and fired off letters/emails to just about any government agency that is responsible for broadcasters. Can you imagine your bank allowing “volunteers” to “help out” who had access to your personal information?

Many years ago a local political gadfly - Larry Carver - was on the G&E Commission. Larry and I would often converse on a multitude of issues especially politics. Larry was a socialist so we were often polar opposites. Back in those days I was firmly entrenched in the wonderful world of computers and that fascinated Larry. Middleboro was not wired for cable and I do remember that they had a study committee formed to determine if it should be an in house (G&E) operation. Larry and I discussed it many times and he - like I was - felt it was a potential cash cow for the town despite the enormous start up expenses. Eventually it was a no go for the G&E. I know the town did experiment with a phone service - my memory is a bit shady on that - and that was a bust. Some communities have been highly successful with in house cable systems and others have not. Always wondered - usually when I get the cable bill - how it would have worked out.

Private enterprise has motivation to cut cost and keep expenses low - government does not.

In ten years TSA has spent 57B and currently has 65,000 employees. The agency (no surprise) is layered with high level administrative personnel. This according to still another independent study.

I saw some of the excerpts and Gingrich actually makes some sense. Time for another trip to Mexico and make sure I get the real and not faux Prozac this time.

Black Friday had a limited number of killings, robberies and assaults. Way to go, people!

For the uninformed China is adding two new coal fired plants to the grid each week.

The hunt for Bambi has commenced with the opening of shotgun season. Beware walking in your backyard or any place that is marked “posted” as that sign seems to attract Elmer Fudd & Co.

Congress now has an approval rating on 7%. BP during the spill was 16%. Nixon was 24% during Watergate. Even Hitler managed 10% in a recent poll.

Congress has managed to take every minor difference and magnify it ten fold so everything goes into lock down mode. Into this must step leadership and that leadership comes from the executive branch and the failure has been tragic and a bitter disappointment. Obama is clearly a dismal failure of epic proportions. After two years it all became his and in the year that has passed he has done nothing but demonstrate he is an entrenched far left ideologue. If he had a fraction of the ability of Clinton this mess would not be present. A centrist is needed even when philosophical one is not a centrist. Even one of my personal heroes - HST - managed to get almost a 1,000 pieces of legislation passed under similar circumstances.

If you are Martha Stewart and get some insider information and dump a stock you get jail time. If you are Nancy Pelosi or any of the other anointed you get to keep your dough and laugh at us. Until Congress has some real rules of conduct and continues to live above the law and above the rest of us with special privilege we’ll all be what we are - suckers.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Black Friday Special

A pharmaceutical company needs to develop a type of Prozac to be used for those with excessive consumption and greed.

The Patriot Act had good intent but needs to just go away.

Too many Alpha males in politics and business have a sense of entitlement when it comes to females. Herman Cain is just the latest and one of the crudest to exemplify this.

Thirty-five years ago if you mentioned flat tax I’d think you were nuts. Now I’d consider you a visionary.

I saw Obama give a speech at the Pan-Asian conference. He is now our Lecturer In Chief.

Why are the Israeli’s waiting so long to whack Iran?

Should Lakeville now use the moniker “Home of the cheap bastards.” Their median income is approaching 100K yet the do things on the cheap and attempt to sponge off of Middleboro.

The TSA continues to mystify me. I see many great agents but I see way too many dolts with not an ounce of common sense or customer service skills.

Occupy Wall Street attracted too many kooks especially from the far left. Despite good intent that is killing it.

Those supermarket prices continue to spike.

Shotgun season is about to begin as the hunt for Bambi will go full steam. As a trail runner I will admire the post apocalyptic deer kill by counting the number of empty beer cans and pints under the deer stands. Do the Environmental Police ever give these folks random breathalyzer tests.

The Brockton Water Department may be the single most dysfunctional department in the entire state.

I have been inundated by an array of calls for loans and credit cards. Made sure my no call status was updated.

Watchdog agencies like the EPA are now more pit bull agencies using their interpretation of the law for an out right money grab in excessive fines.

Sign of the apocalypse. The United States has 300M people and 70% of the worlds lawyers.

Biggest offenders in insider trading? Our Congress! And they are exempt from same punishment anyone else would receive. Until Congress is forced to live under the same rules as the rest of this they will remain an elected criminal organization.

Fitch Group issued a warning on 11/16 that U.S. banks were at risk over fiscal issues in Europe. WTF! Just about everyone already knew this year the stock market dropped almost two hundred points in less than an hour. The idea with the market is to get on the right side of the “con.”

Massachusetts casinos were “inevitable.” Don’t count out Middleboro.

Should Black Friday sales be halted as a public safety issue?

Rising from tha ashes is Crazy Days or is it Krazy Daze? Just in time to add to my tee shirt collection.

Green School is coming along and done without CPA money.

Lawyer rant # 23,768. The BOS cannot ride on the MHA fire truck for the Xmas parade since it is a liability issue. Insurance company will make no changes to policy to cover it for a day. Industry standard and done on advice of their legal department.

The state raising the retirement age from 55 to 60? Amazing! Many in the “Dreaded Private Sector” face working well into their 70s.

With gaming comes a whole bevy of lucrative new government jobs to manage the pack of semi thieves operating casinos. I can just imagine what will happen in the next five to ten years.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


My wife - The Lovely Cynthia - and I recently completed a four city whirlwind tour in China. I will not bore you with the incredible sites we saw but bore you with some snippets of what China is really like.

We had a two section trip so we had two guides - “Johnny” in Beijing and “David” in Suzhou, Hangzhou and Shanghai. Johnny and David were their Americanized or Western names which is a common practice among the Chinese when dealing with Westerners.

Johnny has been a guide for five years and holds a MA in political science and David was a former high school teacher who has been a guide for ten years since it is a far more lucrative position than teaching. Johnny was 31 and his wife is the editor of a gossip magazine along the lines of US or People. David is about 15 years older and - like Johnny - has one son. His wife is a teacher. Johnny has never been to America but David has led several tours to our country where his favorite city is Las Vegas. David - like many Chinese who come over here - treat it as a shopping trip usually for high end electronics.

Both David and Johnny were party members - a requirement - and Johnny’s parents had been incarcerated during the Cultural Revolution. Johnny was far more political and displayed the usual semantics regarding Chinese expansionism into Tibet and Mongolia and noted that his government uses its ties to North Korea as a bargaining chip for our ties with Taiwan. Johnny did recognize that China has a dismal human rights record but the government has become more cautious for as he said “It is not good government to piss off a billion people.”

China is also a nation with virtually no experience with democracy. Their introductions to the West have by and large been negative. This is a nation that was carved up by the West and occupied. They have a long history of serfdom that can match Russia. They have been ruled by invaders, Emperors who were good and bad, devastated by the Japanese and fought a bitter civil war. For most of their existence who ever could put food in their bellies was “The good guy.” The 19th and early 20th century trading houses along the Bund in Shanghai are a stark reminder of a not too distant and brutal past.

My impression is China is less of a socialist nation economically than the United States at first glance. It is not a government run economy but a government monitored one. Businesses understand there are lines you just don’t cross and if you do the penalties can be excessive. One businessman was convicted of 9M in bribes and graft - tried and sentenced to death. Think about that, Bernie Madoff. They deal harshly with anything that may destroy foreign investment and foreign consumer confidence.

If a business violated the government standards say in environment the result is usually a minor fine and a program developed to meet those standards. Continual failure means an increase in punishment. The government also controls energy, water/sewer, transportation and other infrastructure but it is a mutual partnership. Think of the MBTA owned by the government and private enterprise with a 50/50 split. Some instances it is pure government control. Some it is not.

The Shanghai News and NY Times were virtually indistinguishable. The Shanghai News would report the good, bad and ugly. Government fraud, police brutality, strikes, excessive business practices, poor environmental control by the government, lousy safety standards and on and on. Was some highly critical articles regarding government policy and I found that impressive since my knee jerk impression was one of a repressive communist country.

Their economy is very service oriented since you do have 1.3 billion folks and many barely surviving. The poverty level is $90 and that is for a year. David made 10K as a high school teacher and that is an excellent salary and - get this - you have to pay for high school. Folks can’t afford it? Good luck! The working age is 18 but that obviously is a national joke as the government just can’t control what goes on. Same as here. Occasional bust and that is about it.

Their middle class is rapidly expanding. Very similar to our numbers when adjusted for national income differences. But the big difference is just imagine the good old USA having one billion poorly educated and trained peasants dropped into our laps. That’s China. They still have 20 million living in caves. About 80% of their population would considered a rat infested inner city dump Beverly Hills.

Our politicians - especially the failed president and war mongering right wing - like to point out the rapid economic expansion and especially the infrastructure. Well - Mr. President - they had little to begin with! In China they have 442 airports with paved runways. The U.S. has 5,600. I saw farm after farm using nothing but manual labor. Their rail system is fantastic for what there is of it and the safety has become fodder for jokes. With 1.3B Chinese it doesn’t take a Bogo or an Einstein to figure out why industry is growing. Upward fiscal mobility circa post WWII U.S.A.

Both guides emphasized the one child policy. I asked if there was a deliberate attempt at this and my suspicions were confirmed. There are certain talking points that are suppose to be highlighted and they understand that reproductive freedom is an issue that seems to burn with us. You can have more than one child but unlike the U.S. where you are rewarded with a deduction the opposite happens. Without a stringent population control program they would be India or Somalia.

I did discover that life is considerably different in the rural areas. Some of the customs that we consider weird still exist. There is a reason why China has 50M more males than females. The government also has policies that are far more what we would consider textbook totalitarian out in the sticks. The rural areas are also festering points for clandestine manufacturing and drugs that are funneled into the city and foreign countries. Close down one operation and two more start up. One of our guides compared it to how we tried to eliminate stills. Also a bundle of prejudice against the rural folks. They actually have their own term for “Pink Eyed Village.”

As far as the military what struck me is the lack of military presence even in Tian An Men Square. I really don’t buy into the military expansionism or threats to us for the simply reason nether the U.S. or China really are colonials but more capitalists and it is bad - very bad - for business when you kill your customers. I saw far more military presence in South Korea a few years ago. David wrote off Chinese expansionism in Tibet and Mongolia as adventurism. Others were quick to point out that when a carrier task force does exercises with Taiwan off their mainland coast they realize the potential fire power could devastate the entire country in a few hours.

China has a abysmal human rights record. They are quick to execute - like Texas only much larger. But what we fail to understand is that the advancements that have been made over the last sixty or so years. China changed dramatically in 1989 and again with the open economics of the acquisition of Hong Kong. The Chinese will quickly point out that you cannot compare their development to the U.S. of today but to the U.S. of the past. Just as we had a struggle and still do for ethnic/race/gender equality so do they. It is changing and changing rapidly. I just saw a rather open society and not as repressive as I expected. Folks I talked with were open and honest about their opinions of their economics and government. They will quickly point out our own failures of the past and consider it a template for guiding them. I talked to a group of Chinese businessmen who were adamant that economic differences could be eliminated if Obama and Hu (their premier) were locked in a closet and CEO’s from both countries were allowed to negotiate differences. As one said “You would get 60% and we would get 40% or the other way around. Maybe both would get 50%? But we know what we are doing and they don’t in Beijing and Washington.” Another businessman said to me “I would hate for us to be #1. Always more difficult when you are on the top. Even if we were #1 I would suggest we keep our mouths shut.”

While we were I China the election process had begun. Like Tip O’Neil said “All politics are local” and that applies to China. They will over a period of months elect 15,000 representatives to the various provincial and national legislatures. They are all party members (many in name only) but with stark contrasts just like in this country. Think of our Congress as all Republican ( frightening) but with various factions from moderates to conservatives to religious fundamentalists to representing just one issue such as abortions rights would be in our country. From talking with our guides I got the distinct impression that the powers to be have let the barn door open and it will be quite difficult to instill any repressive measures. Still the specter of a return to stricter methods is always present. I am not nor are many of the Chinese disillusioned to that fact.

American presence is everywhere from KFC to Wal-Mart. After several days of horrible Chinese food we were at a mall in the Bund section of Shanghai and I gorged myself on a DQ banana split, McDonald’s fries and Diet Coke and a cheesecake at Starbucks. Some stores have sections of American and Western goods which are prized for their workmanship and quality. Even the Chinese realize they produce a pile of low end crap. Also a big problem is the rip-off goods that are passed on to both tourists and especially the locals.

The food. OMG is it just awful. Every day we’d have a lunch and dinner that was almost all the same. Similar to our Chinese food but not even close to the variety and virtually nothing fried. White rice and some type of noodle concoction with every meal and greasy soup. For breakfast we had an American breakfast with a variety of Chinese food available and those breakfast buffets were something. The entire trip was five star hotels (in one room we had five phones) and the buffets were spectacular. Never seen better. Piles of fruit, meats, cereals, juices and just about anything else that once had a face. Service was impeccable.

In China they have health care but it is a conglomerate of self pay, government and private employer. The cost is quite reasonable but the real unusual thing is you have no primary care physician. You keep your own records in a blue book so you may go to the doctor thirty times and see thirty different doctors. Yep, Doc, I need more Oxycontin - says in right in my book! There is also Chinese and Western medicine. The Chinese is a preventive approach using herbal medicines and the Western is the same as we practice.

Basic services in the city are handled by district. Imagine Middleboro having each precinct responsibly for its water/sewer, trash removal, parts of the electric grid and parts of any natural gas. Some places you really do not drink the water.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Back Home Again Post

David Madden step right down and say hello to Charlie Lincoln. Madden is the former mayor and fire chief of Weymouth who managed to appoint himself back as fire chief before he left office with the end result being a boost in his pension of $30,000. Everyone in Weymouth signed off on it. Quirk in the law “enabled” this legal and morally reprehensible move.

Good economic news will be when I go to the store and see country of origin as USA.

Maybe it was Al Gore who “invented” Occupy Wall Street and Elizabeth Warren who “invented” the internet?

The more I read about Joe Biden the more I realize the VP is just an overbearing jackass. Wonder if he can spell potato?

A fantastic World Series for those that bothered watching.

Why doesn’t Medicare cover dental?

While waiting for Beavis and Butthead to come on I managed to get about a ten minute view of “Jersey Shore.” The term “retroactive abortion” comes to mind.

In Massachusetts charter schools have out performed publics even with similar composite student bodies. Nasty little secret is how many teachers send their kids to private schools. They know something.

I really don’t care for Zombie movies but Walking Dead (TV) and 28 Days Later are the exceptions.

worth of olives disguised as a bagel?

The little brats come to the door on Halloween with attempts to plunder my candy stash. Naturally they have “threats” such as a trick if one does not fork over a treat. The little plunderers act just like politicians in training.

Rails-To-Trails just offered me a free 2012 calendar with a donation of $20 or more. How is it free?

Nordstrom’s Department Store has a great policy - no Xmas decorations until Thanksgiving.

Maybe stores will discontinue that stupidity know as special Black Friday early AM sales.

No way I’d own a Mini Cooper.

Whenever my wife - The Lovely Cynthia - claims I (and other males) am an embarrassment I just point out The View or The Running Of The Brides at Filene’s Basement.

Why does the government fund PBS when it seems half the programs are from England? Maybe the Brits should fund it?

The BOS in Upton managed to make national fools of themselves over a Rosary Vigil. Somehow they had their own convoluted interpretation of separation of church and state and were “educated” by two civil liberty lawyers.

Check out the CPA website. Link on left sidebar under local favs.

Alice Elwell had a great article on dump scavenging. Middleboro (no surprise) does not allow dump picking. Probably a manpower shortage.

Khazei got kicked to the curb by the Democrats so that liberal poster gal Lizzie Warren can have a clear and open shot at Brown. Khazei is impressive but when the party upper crust speaks he bows out.

Hannafords has appeared to shut down self check out. Does this mean no more $10