Friday, October 7, 2011

Doing a job on Steve Jobs

Marilyn Monroe came along and the world was not the same thereafter. She changed the game for bathing beauties everywhere. It was not long before she was dead of a fatal overdose.
Elvis Presley, AKA The King, came along and the world of music was changed forever. It was not long before he was dead of a fatal overdose.
Michael Jackson came along and became The King of Pop, unstoppable, but he had drug problems of his own. It was not long before he was dead of a fatal overdose.
Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, River Phoenix, Heath Ledger: all standouts in their fields, all incredible talents. Where could they have gone if not … well, it's only speculation. But still, I see a pattern forming.
Steve Jobs came along and changed the way we communicate, the way we do business, the way we spend our leisure time, what we had in our pockets, what students carried to class and the whole game. Before he came along, there was the typewriter, the Ozilid machine, the font template, and art was done by hand with a brush and toxic paints. After Steve Jobs, it was all done on the computer. He came along and the world was different.
The terrible thing was that the world was better, and therefore, Steve Jobs had to go. So they threw him out of his own company. What could he do? He started the most successful animated film company ever. He conceived of the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. And he got his company back. Take that!
He was also heckled and hounded, badgered and bothered until he was sick. But he beat the sickness. Take that!
He got sick again. And this time the sickness won. Steve Jobs died. He was ten years younger than I am, but then I haven't done anything near as grand, so I am relatively overlooked.
Somewhere in a ragged, overused notebook, in Steve Job's handwriting, are a thousand ideas for a thousand things you and I have not even thought of. They will change the world. Once put into production and released to the public, we will wonder what we ever did without them.
There are people in this world who are evil, who look at someone doing good and want to destroy them. There are people who latch on to a celebrity, an upcoming talent, and seek to bring them down. We should have formed a circle around Steve Jobs and protected him from such people.
You can say, “well, after all, it was cancer. No one can give someone cancer.”
But we don't know that. We don't know enough about cancer yet to say what brings it on or how one gets it. That “no one knows” theory is mighty handy, if you are someone evil and want to get rid of someone who is really making the world a far more interesting place. After all, the old “died of an overdose” line is getting a bit worn, don't you think?
One thing's sure: the man who changed the world is gone. Who will change the world now? I'm sure there are a few who are pretty smart guys and gals who are saying to themselves, “Better not get too effective. Remember Steve Jobs.”
But that's rather the point, isn't it? If you make it dangerous to achieve, the smart ones will stop achieving. The evil people win. And that's the whole idea, to be the one who wins.
Right now you are saying, “That's insane!”
That's right.

Monday, August 1, 2011

It's Hard to Dance with Your Back to the Wall!

It's time to leak the budget. The talking heads are pointing fingers, the media reports whatever they think will enrage the public and there is more condemnation of the Tea Party than ever before. (Gee! Do you think they might be doing something right?)

What's under discussion? Social Security, that which was paid for by working Americans since they first got a job, is said to be 66% of the budget. Military 40%, Medicare 28% and the Government is working for nothing, being only in it for the honor of serving the American people. Can that be true? No, it cannot! That would be 134% and we haven't even gone into the Department of Education!

There are at at least two major companies offering to finance a car “regardless of your credit.” When I worked in the credit repair industry, I learned that such things are a sign that there is a lot of bad credit out there. The new and used car industries are suffering because few people can pass a credit check anymore.

Unemployment figures are not an indicator because it does not show those who are not working in their industry, have gone past their benefits and are therefore no longer being counted, or those who have just given up and are doing something else – retired, left the country or changed their name to Gonzalez so they could qualify for government aid.

One politician said that every day people come into his office telling him to make cuts, but not their program. Yes, folks, there are programs – and they need to be cut.

Senators and Congressmen no longer in office still receive pay and medical benefits. Thousands of special interest projects funded by the US government are still operating, though they serve no useful purpose. The amount of money going to psychiatric and pharmaceutical research is staggering. Yet these programs are not even mentioned.

Foreign aide to countries that actively hate us – such as Afghanistan – are in the billions. We pay our enemies. What sane country does that?

How about foreign aide to people within our borders? I'm not talking about Americans, I'm talking about Mexicans living illegally in the US, and some living legally here, thanks to legal loopholes, and still receiving subsidies. Mexicans aren't the only foreigners we support; Armenians and other cultures get a huge cut. I have lived in Glendale and have seen Armenians, dripping in gold and leather, step out of a BMW, walk into a grocery and pay with food stamps.

And there are tax breaks. G.E., Exxon and the other power-producing companies are wracking up the highest profits in the history of the world and are not paying taxes on it. Wall Street bankers received trillions in bail-out money and are still crying the blues. AIG is still throwing parties and giving bonuses; Fannie Mae and Freddie Mack are doing just great, thank you very much. While those companies and executives are first in line (with the politicians) for the money, they are last in line to pay taxes. But I digress.

But all the press can talk about is cutting Medicare, Social Security and Military pay. Yet the US government is 30% larger than it was at the last presidential election. Is that the only way to go? To cut our throats to save on food?

I suggest we cut at the top, not the bottom. Instead of letting a couple of thousand teachers go, let the people who run the Department of Education go. Instead of not paying the military, don't pay Congress or the President, or the guys who are at the top at the Pentagon.

If that doesn't work, leak the budget, give it to us and we'll figure it out – but our decisions would be final. Where are my scissors?

Peace on Earth

How do you achieve World Peace? Anders Behring Breivik knows.
First you kill everyone. That's it, one step. Kill everyone and there is no one left to protect. The solution, while extreme, also cures overcrowding in schools, traffic gridlock and the common cold.

Anders Behring Breivik, a Norwegian, is the man accused of a killing spree and bomb attack in Norway, killing at least 93 people. He is responsible for a bomb attack in Oslo's government district and a shooting rampage at a youth summer camp of Norway's ruling Labour party. Breivik declared in what has been described as a rambling 1,500-page manifesto that he was on a self-appointed mission to save Europe from what he saw as the threats of Islam, immigration and multi-culturalism.

Clearly, Mr. Breivik is a troubled man. For one thing, if you want to save Europe from those threats, you attack those threats, not children at a summer camp. For another thing, he in fact has made it more difficult for anyone to oppose “the threats of Islam, immigration and multi-culturalism,” for anyone who does will be associated with him, likened to him and dismissed as insane or criminal.

That is the difficulty, you see, because if a crazy person does something horrible and wrong in order to “save the turtles” or some-such, then anyone who says they are out to “save the turtles” is suspect and may well be dismissed out-of-hand. In fact, if I were a representative of a major controversial movement, I would hire someone to go out and attack a totally disconnected venue, like MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, in the name of being against my movement. Thereafter, anyone who is against my movement would be associated with that crazed lunatic.

The time could come when anyone espousing “World Peace” would be instantly stoned in public as a terrorist and crazy person.

What Anders has done, in fact, has been to unify Norway with two causes – that of killing him and of mourning for the innocents he killed. It seems contradictory, but it's not. They are, we all are, sorry for those who died. I cannot say anything that would be enough to condemn such actions. On the other hand, given the opportunity, we would take his life in an instant and not shed a tear. The dichotomy is within us. If it is not within you, it is within me enough to cover your part.

But sitting here in America, far from the sadness, I can afford a longer view. Was Anders Behring Breivik put there by someone in order to skew the world view of Islam and those against it? Was his manifesto created by a committee of terrorists designing a mad killer for the sake of the tabloids? Is the the beginning of a series of nut-cases who will make taking a stand of any kind politically incorrect?

And the most important question of all: Is killing everyone the answer to World Peace?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Same Old Song

My wife woke me up for Face the Nation this morning. She does that. She knows I like the show. I hate that it is on at the same time as Meet the Press, as I'd like to see both shows. Getting a fair and balanced view of what is happening in my state, my country, my world, is near impossible, with so many opposing sound bites out there.
By the time I had a cup of coffee and was focused on the guest speaker, Harry Reid, D – Nev, Senate Majority Leader, the question on the table was “Will the government shut down at the end of the week?” It was a question he did not answer. Instead he sang the same old song: Oh, the poor children! Oh, the poor vets! Oh, all our favorite causes!
The senator hit the high notes right on cue: “We're going to have to cut Helping Hand, all the aid to orphaned children and homeless veterans.” Every time someone brings up actually running the government on a budget, out come the widows and orphans, the homeless vets. Next comes the police, fire and education. (See my earlier blog on balancing the budget.)
What, does Senator Reid say, is causing the difficulty? It's the Republicans and the Tea Party causing all the trouble. Congress is afraid of the Tea Party, when there aren't any members around. Sn. Reid says that at the last rally, “there weren't thousands, there weren't hundreds, there were tens...”
We're talking about 12% of the budget, right? So what about the hundreds of redundant government agencies and top heavy bureaucracy? There are more people in the Department of Agriculture than there are farmers. If you go in with a paring knife and carve out some of the fat and waste in the government, you will find that we can run the country on a budget.
Going for the heart, lungs and brain as the first to go when cutting out fat is insane. Let's get rid of the crazy people and put someone sane in the government.
Then came Lindsey Graham, R – South Carolina, who brought up another ghastly waste of government funds, the proposed State Department Army.
Our choices seem to be, in Libya and other countries, 1) putting soldiers there for years and years, 2) arming the rebels or 3) putting a State Department Army there for years and years (see option 1 – only more expensive.)
Remember that we poured money into Libya for the current regime to stay in power. Now we should pour more in to oust him and put in another government? The rebels we arm today will be the enemy we fight tomorrow – and they will be armed with our guns. We have squandered American taxpayers' money giving it to other countries and now we are throwing good money after bad in expensive “Police Actions” which will be followed by expensive rebuilding. The United States is the only country in the history of the world that rebuilds a country after it destroys it. How stupid are we?
Teddy Roosevelt, a Democrat, gave us the Big Stick. We should , as Senator Graham has suggested, take the fight to the leaders, sitting fat and happy in their stronghold, and end this thing. Then let them rebuild without us. It will be a lesson to the rest of the world: “Mess with us and we leave you broken.”
Arm the rebels? No! Build a State Department Army to hemorrhage money onto foreign soil? No! Take the fight to Gadhafi and his crew? Yes – and then stop sending our money overseas, we have need of it here. You want to rebuild something? Rebuild New Orleans.
When there is a bully in the neighborhood, you take him out and then you go home. You do not then become the next bully. And when there is a household budget to trim, to make it fit within your income, you do not cut the buying of food, clothing and shelter first.
It has been a song heard too long by government voices, all chanting in unison: if you want to cut the budget, the first things to go will be the fire department, police department and education – then all your favorite charitable agencies. Oh, weep for the widows, orphans and homeless vets. They are the chorus of the old familiar song. What is missing from the song is the billions showered on the Middle East and countries that want us dead.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Television Sells!

I can always tell when the government, medical or psychiatric organizations have been dabbling in our television shows, the message is singular, obvious and insane.

It was clear as a bell when the popular (for a while) television show, Touched by an Angel, came out in favor of psychotropic medications. In that episode, a jazz musician was a danger to himself and his family if he was not on his medication, but he was not creative or even a good musician when he was all doped up like that – in fact, he hated it. So he didn't take his meds, got creative and was happy playing music to die for. The “Angel of the Lord” came and told him, “Your medication is a gift from God. You must take it.” Thereafter, he did “the right thing,” taking his meds and opting for mediocrity instead of musical greatness. That was the last time I turned that show on. It was canceled soon after.

The other night, I was doing late work and my wife was watching “Law and Order.” The culprit was a loving mother who did not believe in getting her child vaccinated. Her failure to get her child vaccinated caused another child to be sick and die. They arrested the mother, took her child away and the world was again safe. The message repeated again and again during the show was “Get your child vaccinated.”
For years I have feared that there was something going into the vaccine that the government wanted us to get but that we wouldn't stand for given the choice. The answer: remove the choice. There are many parents who will not have their child vaccinated. They do not believe in it, or they do not believe in government intrusion. Perhaps they are organic people and do not believe in the artificial, chemical, Brave New World that is being sold to us daily.

For years, I have had a rule: Where there is a hard sell, there is something of which I should beware. Now here is none other than the “Do no evil” cops of “Law and Order” telling us we should get vaccinated. I say “No!” Just because the government or some medical organization or psychiatric organization (especially a psychiatric organization) says to line up and get stuck with a needle full of something mysterious and magical, that is no reason for me or anyone else to do so. In fact, when they sell it to us so hard, that's a good reason to be extra careful.

It was Karl Marx who said, “Give me a child before he's five and I'll have him for life.” I fear that what is in that vaccination is something that will be in my child for life and not to his betterment. The proof of the pudding is that the powers who want that needle in the kid's arm have gone to the writers of popular television shows to sell it to us.

Shame on you, Law and Order.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How to Cut the Budget

Great idea! A diet wherein the first things to be sacrificed are your lungs, heart and brain. Sound good?
It's called the Politicians' Budget Cutting Diet. It has been in use for decades and hasn't worked yet. No wonder it keeps getting implemented.
Here's how it goes in real life: You demand the budget get cut, everyone agrees, so those you trust (giggle!) to represent (giggle!) you go to work (giggle!) and start cutting expenses. The first things they cut are the Fire Department, Police Department and School System. Before you know it, you are screaming for the budget cuts to stop before we are completely stupid and defenseless. Of course, by then, you have no library system left, though no one knows (giggle!) where the money went.
It goes back to Proposition 13. The voting public told the California legislature that they demanded lower spending and the Police, Fire and Education cuts were the first, last and only cuts made. In North Carolina, education is 2% of the budget, yet it is the first thing mentioned by our governor when budget cuts are brought up.
There are redundant reports, useless studies (like the US study to discover why men in prison are depressed) and stupid projects galore in the budget, yet these remain in place while Fire and Police Departments go begging. We don't need another million dollar paper on the North American Blue Bird. We need a balanced budget.
Remember the ex-governor of North Carolina, Mike Easley? It took two years to investigate his abuses, financial and otherwise. He made millions illegally while in office, yet was charged $1000 in fines and $153 in court costs. So the taxpayers paid millions to investigate him and yet he is charged $1153? Give me a break! How do you balance the budget? Make him give all the stuff back and pay the money, covering the costs of investigating him and prosecuting him. Dock his pay. Wherever he goes to work, take it out of his weekly until the state is even again. Maybe that will be a deterrent to future criminals who want to make crime pay by going into public office.
It goes for state budgets and for the Federal budget. The President keeps talking about cutting domestic spending. Domestic Spending – does that bring up a question? What about International Spending?
For years we have heard about billions (Billions!) given to countries that hate us. It is not talked about a lot on national television, but we are still giving billions to countries with whom we are at war. We support them while fighting them, destroy them, then rebuild them – and they never give us anything back for all that. The only country ever to repay a war loan is Finland.
What if we stop giving our money to other countries, maybe we won't be in financial ka-ka ourselves. Let's start with countries we are at war with, then go to countries that merely hate us, then we can take the weekly allowance from countries that just don't care for us. Eventually, we will balance the budget.
See, I didn't even mention the politicians that served one or two terms and we are still paying them for it. Gee, if we just hired them like we do everyone else, we wouldn't have to pay them forever. But I didn't mention it. That's another blog.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Selling the Concept: Take Your Meds!

It started with “Touched by an Angel” when the “Angel of the Lord” tells a musician that his medication is a “Gift from God” and he should be on it. The poor fellow couldn't function without his meds, but couldn't be creative while on them. The Angels told him he had to make a choice and give up being creative. Some choice!
Today, TV is selling the concept of medication.
“Criminal Minds” has a fellow who is psychotic because he is off his medication. If he had been on his meds, he would be all right. To the message is “Stay on your meds.”
On “The Mentalist” a police detective tells the consultant, who is acting unusual, “Are you off your meds?” Just another hint to stay on your meds if you don't want to be considered odd or off-kilter.
Do I sound like an alarmist? Should I just ignore one little wise-crack among friends? Or is this part of a new wave of sales techniques for the message of the largest sponsors.
For years everyone on TV smoked. Lighting up a cigarette was a statement, a show of emotion, an offer of love and so on. Have you notice that everyone on television drinks? They meet in a bar, have wine with dinner, have a beer after work or on the weekends. They never get drunk and never have a driving-related accident, unless a character needs to have a shady past – then a DWI comes in handy. But the message is “Have a drink, you won't get drunk or wreck your car.”
And now, the message is creeping in: “Take your medication.” There is no assumption that someone would get along better without artificial medication, just the presumption that someone would be silly enough to think they might. The message is that they had better not try – terrible things happen!
Every time I see that the writers of a show have run out of ideas, the show becomes about the lead character's long lost child from a former flirtation. Ex-soap-opera writers seem to invade every show sooner or later. Soon after, the show dies, replaced by the latest clone of the latest most-watched show.
Lately, I also turn a show off as soon as I see Big Pharma sticking its nose into the writers' business. They'll look for a twist and stick in a pro-psychotropic message, as with The Mentalist – a casual quip between friends. Or they'll write a whole new show around the message, as with Criminal Minds.
There are surely more examples, but truth be told, I don't watch all that much TV of late. One thing I did watch is a video by Citizens Commission for Human Rights, called Making a Killing.
The video covers one of my favorite beefs – the commercials that tell you to “Ask your doctor if Xyzzyx is right for you.” Take a look: Watch it at