Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mills vs Bills

The recent labor negotiations involving the NFL and it's players union give many of us regular folks fits. It is hard for us to understand how multi-millionaires and billionaires can argue over so much money. For the normal person, it's monopoly money; amounts we will never see in our lifetime. And to make the point, I understand not all players make those amounts and the careers of many are just a few, short years.

That being said, I have a solution to the row enveloping football. Currently, the players and owners split (somewhere in the area of 60-40) the revenues with the players getting the sixty percent split. I have often thought that was absurd since the owners are the ones risking/investing their own money. Now, I haven't worked out all the bugs of this yet but here goes:

All the money should be pooled and then split along the divided ratio currently used. It will then be up to the players union to divide up the money between the players. If they want all the money so badly, they should take on the responsibility of telling their members who gets what. The owners then would not be burdened with negotiating contracts with particular players. They take their money and run the organization. The owners then would simply be charged with putting together the best teams they can without the interference of contracts hanging over their heads. If the players don't like the contracts they sign with the union, gripe at the union, not the owners.

If you want all the money and power, just be careful what you wish for. I'm sure the owners would even take a slightly smaller share if they weren't saddled with all the player/money headaches.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A quantum shift

When in the course of human events; again a sentence I repeated last week. This, however is for a different resolve. We are witnessing possibly a fundamental shift in the political landscape in the middle east, a portion of our world that has more than seen it's share of turmoil.

What started out as an uprising in a small, impoverished country has spread to multiple nations that have endured authoritarian rule for decades. Often these countries have been subservient to a ruler that has supported a small ruling class from the profits of exporting oil. A people held down is often a powder keg waiting to erupt. On the surface the pains of servitude appear rooted in wealth, or lack thereof. But I believe something else has finally bubbled to the surface: freedoms.

America has often been the whipping-boy for many of these leaders. Some, we have even supported, using them as a hedge against others; the lesser of two evils as it were. Others have been the harbingers of terrorism and have overtly or covertly worked against the United States. Perhaps what we have grown to take for granted has simmered as resentment from those now challenging their governments. Freedom and the western way of life seems to have crept into a world, a world we see only through the newscasts, a world that is alien to many of us.

Things though are not always as they seem. Until the eighties Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi ruled Iran with an iron fist. He was overthrown by a popular uprising led from without. What began as a popular movement inspired by religious radicals (we would now call them) simply supplanted one autocrat for another which was at least as brutal as the one it replaced.

There is no way of knowing how the current struggles will unfold. This could be a minor blip in the ongoing struggle that has enshrouded this region for centuries or it could be the start of a true democratic revolution. Likely it will become something more in the middle. I hope we are seeing the seeds of nations who wish to enter the world community and take their place as brothers and not bullies. Only time will tell; lets hope these small steps are only positive and one step forward does not necessitate two steps back.

Friday, February 18, 2011

A new declaration

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

This is a great statement and may apply to those situations and those persons who hold a high moral standard and who will not compromise those standards no matter the hardships and struggles. Baby Sis quit her job yesterday. Now, she is not an impulsive sort. She in general thinks things through and understands the consequences of her acts. It takes a brave person in this day and age, in this economy, to stand up for her principles (or to her principal) and have the guts to follow through.

I doubt many of us would have the chimes or conviction to do what she did. All we can do is our best within our particular situation. Often that is grinding it out for as long as we can until a better state presents itself. N of 50 had made a good point in an email that sometimes it's easier to change the system from the outside than the inside.

However, I am supposed to be shepherding her into the second half of her life. Some running mate I am. Best of luck, Sis.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

(You must) Root, root, root (only) for the Home Team!

With the completion of the Super Bowl between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers, I looked forward with bemusement to reading some of the letters to the sports editor in the Columbus Dispatch, both those published in the paper and those published online only, as I knew what to expect.

The letter writers who do not like either the Steelers nor their embattled quarterback, he of the alleged but uncharged improper behavior toward women, were all righteous in their comdemnation (again) of Big Ben, and absolutely giddy about the Steelers' defeat.

Another issue surfaced (again) as well, as the condemners blasted the "bandwagon" Steelers fans, and, by association, all those who support a sports team that is not from the state in which they reside. It is apparently their belief that if one does not have a direct connection, i.e. living in or being born in a particular state or attending a particular university, any support for an out-of-state sports team is not proper, and your judgment, intelligence, and manhood (males only, I hope!) is in question.

By their logic, I presume if your state only has one team in a league, you are to support that team and that team only. If your state has more than one team in the same league, how are you supposed to decide which one to support? Is proximity to be the deciding factor? If proximity it is, then all of the people in Columbus who have never called Cleveland home must support only the Cincinnati Bengals and Reds over the Cleveland Browns and Indians. It must have been quite a quandary for those condemners who were Browns fans in the late 1960s when the Bengals were created. What to do? What to do? What to do? They very likely soiled their undergarments whilst trying to take a decision as to which team they were going to support.

I feel sorry for a sports fan in a state in which there are no big-time professional teams, since they are not "allowed" to cheer for a team not in their state. Oh, the shame of living in Maine, Idaho, Montana, or New Mexico! They must stick to their minor league or college teams, and can never know the joy and pain of rooting for a team that is at some distance from their domicile.

Taking their argument to its logical next level, we should not then be permitted to read a book, listen to music, or support a political candidate not from their city or state.

It would be a lesser world if we were unable to use things not grown or made in our state simply by virtue of where we live.

Ah, well...


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Fashion with a cause

I have often been a critic of designers and the fashion industry. Much of what we as a culture have been subjected to covers everything from the ridiculous to the sublime. However, on a recent foray into a menswear area I happened to discover a hidden side to the industry. As a group they have come together to design a style of fashion to help with a unique medical issue.

There is a condition that is difficult to hide and embarrassing to many of those who suffer from its ravages. It involves a specific movement of cells in parts of the body. Often these cells accumulate and put pressure on critical organs. Much like metastasized cells that become transported to particular organs through the vascular system and then settle there, these volatile units mimic those with specific connective tissue disorders.

But I digress. What started for me was a trip to the jeans section. I have not purchased a pair of blue jeans for at least six years. Since then there has been an explosion of styles. I'm used to plain old blue jeans, Levis or Wrangler or some such other brand that will get the job done. To my surprise I was subjected to skinny jeans, low cut, mid-rise, boot-cut to name just a few. I picked out what I thought would fit and dragged them home as I rarely try anything on at time of purchase. To my surprise a relaxed fit style of jean does not conform to known body parts. I had so much excess material beneath my derriere they could have made a balloon for the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade.

It was then I decided to research this topic and stumbled across the orange ribbon organization for the treatment of lardassititiss. I applaud the fashion industry for helping those with this modern day scourge by giving us apparel too large for the normal person.

High speed failure?

The next great boondoggle to be offered through Washington this year will be the start of investing $52 billion over the next twenty years for a high speed rail system within the US. This is a project that just never seems to go away. Every few years this idea rears it's head like Punxsutawney Phil. On the surface it's a decent idea, an alternate to both autos and planes. Less pollution and less congestion isn't bad. Unfortunately, that's where the good idea comes to an end.

The problem is the rail pushers try to compare what happens in the US to what happens overseas. The issue is the scale of the landscape. Those in favor of high speed rail consistently show us how well this works in Japan or in Europe. It does seem to work well in those locations. Here is the issue as I see it. Japan for instance, is a highly densely populated society in a relatively small area. The entire country of Japan is no larger than the state of California. Rail likely works well in this type of environment. The proposal is to bring high speed rail to eighty percent of the country. Sorry this just won't work in Omaha.

Rail also works in the high density areas of Europe. The largest country in Europe is Spain. Spain has little high speed that I am aware of and is about the size of Texas. Like Texas, Spain has a land mass that is wide and open compared to it's brethren countries. Europe is approximately the same size as the US. Not the Americas, the US. The continent is much older and therefore has a much higher population density. That is why rail works there. The population of the US is far too dispersed for that type of system. It works in the dense east coast where you can move from Boston to Philadelphia to Baltimore to Washington and not realize you left another city. OK, a slight exaggeration, I'll give you that.

A rail system in the east coast is one thing. I fail to see a concerted use or the benefit of a rail system from Nashville to Chicago. One aspect as a positive would be the building of a system like the interstate highway our grandfathers built which would bring jobs to an economy over a long period of time but I for one don't see the system as a success. Americans will still be more likely to jump in their cars and drive to where they want to go. To compete, the prices would have to be far lower than air travel. Why pay $200 to ride from Charlotte to St. Louis in fifteen hours when you can fly there for the same amount or less in three?

Some things just don't translate from one point to the next. Just because the Smart Car works in European cities doesn't mean it works on the open highways in the US. High speed rail is the same thing. Besides, I want a car bigger than the bugs that hit the windshield.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Thank heavens it's over

I like football, but really. I enjoy a good game as well as the next guy but the run-up to the Title Game has definitely moved well beyond the absurd. Remember, I can't use the "SB" words or I might get a cease and desist from Gotcha Poundem and Bleed attorneys-at-law. Of course this exercise as a blogger might just classify me as a journalist! (I doubt it.)

I understand fully what the shield has done with the game. They have promoted their most successful event and made it a must-see for everyone, even those who don't care about the game or don't have a dog in the fight. In this one, I had no dog but thought it would be a good game. I only saw a quarter of it as I was flying back from vacation. There is a significant group that tunes in just for the commercials. I'm OK with that. Do what you enjoy. If you're going to be shovel-fed the pregame hype with a backhoe, you might as well get something out of it. And the game itself will likely go down as the most watched television event in history.

Part of the problem is a lack of nearly anything of quality on television. Hmmm, sports pregame for twenty hours or Jersey Shore; I think its a toss-up. The sports channels alone cover everything down to the quarterbacks tieing their cleats. How many times do we need to see former players as analysts tossing a ball on a grass patch in the studio? And on how many channels? In a recent study it was shown the ball is in play for less than twelve minutes during a game. If you take five sports channels alone and count the number of hours devoted to the game beforehand for analysis just on Sunday, that works out to three hours per minute of play. Include Saturday and Friday and the number becomes something only astronomers can calculate with a Cray computer. "Gosh Tony, what do they have to do to win this game?" "Don't turn the ball over. Let's go have a cocktail."

Of course I have the option of not watching which is what I choose to do. Great job Packers, now I don't have to listen to the sizable Steelers rooters in the family for a year.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Hurry up and wait

Well, it happened. We never made it out of Baltimore. Old Man Winter wrapped his grip around the east coast and here we sit. Thanks to my daughter we were not locked into the airport. She works in the hospitality industry and was able to book us a hotel near the airport. It hasn't been too bad, at least we are together on/after our anniversary.

If my store ran like an airline, I think this is what it would be like:
"I'd like to shop now." "Let me get you a schedule." "I have to reserve a time?" "Yes, only those with a reservation can shop. Oh, but I can get you in right now." "Super!" "That'll be $25." "Why?" "You have a bag, I'll have to check it." "But I need it to shop." "OK, that can be your carry-on." "I'll get you a cart." "Thanks." "That'll be $25." "Please step through the scanner."
"You'll have to wait for an hour though." "Why?" "It's snowing outside. We don't work in the snow." "But we're inside." "I know but some of my carts are outside and we can't get them inside for an hour. I'll let you know." "Uhm, OK." "Thanks, have seat, I'll call you."

Airlines used to have some great slogans: Eastern, the wings of man; Pan Am makes the going great; Fly the friendly skies of United. The best they have now is Southwest: 'Hey at least we don't charge for bags!'

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Another day in paradise

Nineteen years ago today at 6:25pm I said "I do." My Beloved and I have been in bliss since that momentous day. She is my forever person. Don't get me wrong, we have had our blips on the radar but they have been extremely minor. We are just compatible through and through.

To celebrate this day we are embarking on vacation. We are facing the mighty wrath of Old Man Winter as he steels his icy grip on the eastern seaboard. Yes, we are flying to Connecticut. Why you ask? It has the closest big-feel casino that we know of to sin city Vegas. This will be the fourth time in the last five years we have ventured to the New England states. Usually it has been in the fall. It has come to be one of our favorite places to visit up and down the coast. The casino just happens to be an extra perk, as it were.

With winter's fickle fingers about to annihilate the east it could be the first time I am caught in an airport, stranded like bovines and all the people you see on the news. It could be a unique experience, but with My Beloved, it will be worth the trip. Although compatible in most areas I am a believer that couples should pack for their trips seperately. I'll get my stuff and you get yours. That way we aren't bumping into each other every other step. It takes me fifteen minutes to pack and you...well.

We've rarely travelled in the winter months east, usually we have headed west and sunnier spots, meaning Vegas. We'll see how this works out. I'll report back upon our return, hopefully with much more money in our pockets than when we left.

And a happy first anniversary to Handsome Son and Miss Texas as they celebrated their first year of wedded bliss yesterday. See, it doesn't hurt after all.