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November 26, 2003

Here We Go Again...

The Dixie Chicks are at it again. Natalie Maines, the lead singer for the band, has gone out and shot her mouth off about the president, the war and the military.

Now, I completely support any person that wants to stand on a soapbox and say whatever comes to their minds. I do it all the time out here. There is something fundamental, though, that the Dixie Chicks are forgetting.

When they speak out against the government and the president, they are alienating their key demographic.

Think about it... The Dixie Chicks are a country band. They commonly appeal to the Nascar crowd. That is, the people that like their music are typically flag-carrying, pro-government, pro-commander-in-chief patriots. These people have usually served in the military or have parents, grandparents or siblings that have served in the military. These people know when Flag Day and Veterans Day is and they put an American flag on their house on those days. When the American Anthem is sung at a ball park, these people will take off their hats and cover their hearts. They will also criticize people that don't.

By criticizing the institution and the people that a large number of their fans will stand up and protect at any cost, they are shooting themselves in the foot. If Pearl Jam, or any other non-country group for that matter, made comments criticizing the government, most people wouldn't bat an eye. It is part of their schtick. It is something that is expected. Their key demographic would most likely agree. The backlash that has been directed at the Dixie Chicks from fans and fellow artists shows that they do not understand the crowd that they are playing to.

Then, once you have put your foot in your mouth, you really don't have anyone do blame for the criticism that is directed back toward you. You were the one that made yourself a target and you have no one to blame but yourself.

"When I am abroad, I always make it a rule never to criticize or attack the government of my own country. I make up for lost time when I come home." - Sir Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965)

November 21, 2003

Overrated

I was born around 10 years after John F. Kennedy was shot. I was never caught up in the emotional torrent that still surrounds him today. The type of emotional torrent that often leads to people being placed on high pedestals. I believe this is the case with Kennedy.

Every year, surveys are conducted to determine who people believe are the 10 most influential presidents. Every year, Kennedy shows up on the list. After doing some research into the subject, I can't figure out why. Kennedy was definitely an energetic and charismatic leader that captured the minds of the American public at the time. He had a beautiful wife and cute kids. If you look at it from that perspective, he probably personified the All-American father at the time. But, in the political arena, he had few high points. Here is what I can determine that those high points were:

The Cuban Missile Crisis - I do have to give him some of the credit for this one, but you have to remember, quite a bit of the success from that could be credited to all of the smart people he surrounded himself with during that time.

The 24th Amendment - This amendment made the use of poll taxes illegal. This opened up voting for a huge number of poor and minority voters that were previously unable to. Once again, while Kennedy championed this cause, he cannot be completely credited for actually getting it ratified.

The Peace Corps - Kennedy challenged the younger generation of America to go to poorer sections of the world to assist in any way they could. While this is commendable, the ranks of the Peace Corps did not really appear to swell until after Kennedy was assassinated. He became the rallying cry. Over time, the interest in the Peace Corps has waned significantly; currently, there are less than 7,000 volunteers and trainers.

The Space Program - Kennedy challenged the American public to put a man on the moon. The government created NASA and poured billions of dollars into it. Once again, Kennedy became a symbol for putting a man on the moon after he was assassinated and five years later, it happened.

The Housing Act of 1961 - The Housing Act of 1961 provided funds to build low income housing in urban America. While well intentioned, in many cases, this led to the creation large slum areas.

Sure, there were some successes. There were also some great failures:

Civil Rights - Kennedy was never able to gather enough support to get any sort of real civil rights legislation passed. Even Kennedy realized that he had failed in this regard.

Taxes - Taxes were at record highs for the time and Kennedy was not able to spearhead any sort of legislation to lower them.

The Bay of Pigs - This was, quite possibly, one of the more embarrassing failures of Kennedy's presidency.

One also must remember that Kennedy wrote and re-wrote the book on marital infidelity during his time in office. But then again, what guy doesn't give him a little slack for Marilyn Monroe.

I am not saying that Kennedy was a bad president. He managed to accomplish some things and provided a good face for the leadership during some dark times in American history. With this being the day before the 40th anniversary of his death, I am not looking forward to all of the people that are going to come out of the woodwork over the next few days extolling the virtues of John F. Kennedy and placing him on such a high pedestal.

I believe that, as the baby boomers age, you will see that Kennedy's rank within the top 10 influential presidents will fall as the emotion surrounding him is replaced by an actual logical look at what was accomplished.

"All the President is, is a glorified public relations man who spends his time flattering, kissing and kicking people to get them to do what they are supposed to do anyway." - Harry S Truman (1884 - 1972), Letter to his sister, Nov. 14, 1947

November 20, 2003

Organic Cigarettes Revisited

A couple of months ago, I posted a rant about organic cigarettes. Basically, my point was that it makes absolutely no sense for anyone to spend $2.00 extra a pack to purchase organic cigarettes. I really don't think that it makes a difference whether the tobacco that is in the cigarette is ogranically grown or grown right next to Chernobyl, it is going to contain carcinogens. And I hate to tell you, carcinogens will kill you.

The main reason I am dragging this up after this long is that a passerby to my site decided to stop and comment on that post. This person actually tried to say that purchasing organic foods is the same as purchasing organic cigarettes. What a misguided individual. The only correlation that I can see is that they both cost more. That's about it.

Someone out there is a marketing genius. This person has suckered a very large number of people into believing that organic cigarettes are better for you than regular cigarettes. I can't tell you whether or not organically grown produce is actually better for you than commercially grown produce. What I can say is that you can actually purchase ripe organic tomatoes in January. You can't say that about your usual grocery store tomato. I guess in an organic cigarette, you can guarantee that your carcinogens were harvested at the peak of freshness and grown without any type of pesticide.

"There's a sucker born every minute." - David Hannum, not P. T. Barnum

November 19, 2003

Interesting 911 Issue

Sadly, a 29-year-old veteran of the Kansas City Fire Department died when he lost control of his car on rain slick roads earlier this week. He was responding to a 911 call in which a woman said that she saw flames in a catering business.

When the firefighters arrived at the business, they could not find any sign of fire so they left. Immediately they started looking for the person that called in what they thought was a prank call.

The woman who called 911 came forward and told them that she really did see a fire. They questioned this person for over three hours before they let her go.

Come to find out, there actually was a fire in the building. The ballast of a florescent light blew out and burned for a while before it went out. The fire did not spread and went out on its own.

What lesson are the authorities trying to get out? A cynic, like me, would say don't bother to call 911 unless there is a massive conflagration. I have called 911 several times after seeing car accidents and once for a medical emergency in a car. Based on this, I am not sure that I would do that again. I know that the authorities were reacting to the loss of one of their comrade, but I really think they went a little overboard with their response.

"Idealism is what precedes experience; cynicism is what follows." - David T. Wolf (1943 - )

Wacko Jacko

Michael Jackson... What can I say? I have been thinking about the direction that this rant is going to go since last night. I have two spins on it, so this will be a combo-rant.

First of all, the guy is a freak. And now, like some disturbing deja voux, we are hearing about a young boy that is accusing him of molesting him. It completely amazes me that he has all of these people coming out of the woodwork saying that it is a conspiracy and that he is such a wonderful person. Mr. Cochran, please sit down. You are like some sort of big freaky moth attracted to flash bulbs and news camera lights. Already, Jackson has gathered all of his lawyers around him and denounced this as untrue. Most likely, these people will find a way out of this for him. That's what lawyers are for.

Is there a single person out there that actually thinks this guy is stable? I haven't met one yet. This is a person who has undergone so many plastic surgeries, that his nose won't stick to his face anymore. When he goes out in public, he makes sure that his kids wear masks or otherwise have their faces covered. I can't imagine the type of mental scarring that those kids are enduring.

It was a real eyeopening event for me when the Martin Bashire interview with Jackson aired earlier this year. He came right out and said that he likes to share his bed with children and it is the most loving thing that you can do. Not his own children... any child. Hey, Michael... Here is some advice on loving children. You can love children... you just can't love children. You want to make sure that a kid feels accepted and loved? Don't bend them over and make them call you Peter Pan.

The second part of my rant is directed at the parents of this kid that got to "spend the night" with Michael Jackson. What kind of screwed up parents are you? This guy has been implicated in molesting children before. I can't imagine any reason that I would let my son within 300 feet of that man, let alone let him stay the night with him. You either have to be completely misguided and stupid or have ulterior motives. After all, Jackson paid millions of dollars to keep the last kid quiet.

Hopefully this will wake the world up enough to see that Michael Jackson is a dirty old man that needs to be separated from children at all costs.

"Lawyer, n. One skilled in the circumvention of the law." - Ambrose Bierce (1842 - 1914), The Devil's Dictionary

November 11, 2003

WLNP + Consumers = Confusion

Well, the wonderful world of number portability is nearly upon us. For those that don't know, this new rule allows you to move your tel number from one carrier to the next without any setup fees. This is great for the consumer, if they know the rules...so here's a little chunk of info.

1. Your number has to be portable to begin with, if you call your carrier they can tell you if it is or not. OR lookup a LERG website where you can do free NPA-NXX searches and see if the exchange is Portable = Yes. Yes I can lookup your exchanges if you REALLY don't like talking to your provider...Lord knows I didn't when I had a Sprint phone and still dread calling Qwest for my landline (Spirit of Service, my ass).

2. Check out the fees that you will owe to your current carrier for breaking a contract. Changing to a new carrier is free, getting out of your old contracts usually isn't. NO, I CAN'T LOOKUP YOUR ACCOUNT, EVEN IF YOU KNOW WHICH CARRIER I WORK FOR, I DON'T WORK FOR THAT DEPARTMENT.

3. Always check to see what carriers are the best in your area. Laughable as it may be Sprint PCS is NOT the best carrier in Kansas City according to recent independent studies. Heck, they aren't even one of the top 2 in 1 of the studies.

4. Landline to wireline portability is not a definite yet, some companies have locked their local, LD, wireless together in some regions or across the country. Just don't think that you can move an NPA-NXX to a wireless carrier and then to a different wireless carrier before Wireline and Wireless portability are merged...you'll just confuse everyone involved!

Good Luck,
Oh and.........if you can't hear me now, you must have a PCS phone and are driving down Metcalf near the Sprint campus.

Alright, now I'm just nit-picking...

Why is it that no one can seem to understand that a temporary tag for their car is just that...temporary? I saw one today that was a 30 day tag and it had expired September 5th. Even if I was reading it wrong and that was the date of issue, that still means that it was expired on October 5th. To take it a step further, if it was a 60 day tag, which they have out here in Colorado, and I was reading it incorrectly, this person was still 5 days late as of this writing.
I mean, c'mon, are we really that lazy? How tough is it to give up 30 minutes of your time at the DMV or the Treasurer's office getting a license plate? You would still have time to catch some lunch and go back to work in under an hour. Then again, I'm the kind of person that would run out as soon as possible and get a plate for the car mainly because I don't want to make it THAT easy for someone to pull the VIN off my car.
Lazy Frickin' Bums.....