Friday, 17 February 2012

Vegas in DC?

It finally came out yesterday....that a developer is looking at this idea of putting up a five-star casino deal in the National Harbor area.....which is just east of Alexandria, Virginia and over into the Maryland area.  For Washington DC....this is a major topic of discussion.  The creation of a Vegas-like atmosphere, in DC?

There are several ways of looking at this.  First, there's not much for gambling pleasure around the region, unless you take off to Atlantic City.  Second, there's a bunch of government employees in the region.....who might be talked into going to a Vegas-caravel-like playground....and spend their cash.  For VIP's, I'm also guessing that some big-name locals would enjoy a chance to rub elbows other VIPs.

Helping the economy?  Well....there's taxes involved somewhere in this mess, and that can only help Maryland.  Course, it's just shifting money from one private pocket, to one government pocket.  That's probably not the best kind of deal.

Free isn't Free

I've sat by for three weeks.....watching the President's contraception dilemma.  It is a comedy of sorts now.

Once the President stood up and said he'd fix this issue....by making women's contraception free....that ended the torment possibility by big-name media.  But you've got this odd problem laying there....free stuff.  Officially, Congress can regulate commerce, but they can't make companies give anything away free.  The President?  Well....no one can remember any President directing anyone over the past two hundred years.....directing a company to give something away freely.

I sat and pondered over this.

It'd be nice, if the President could order the cable companies to offer HBO as a free deal, but I know that the cable companies would just inflate their prices and add two percent on top of that.....to come out ahead.  It just wouldn't be free.

It'd be nice, if the President could order Burger King to offer free ice tea with each meal, but I know that Burger King would just inflate their prices and add two percent on top of that.....to come out ahead.  It just wouldn't be free.

It'd be nice, if the President could order gas stations to offer free wiper fluid for your car when you filled up with gas, but I know that the gas stations would inflate their prices and add two percent on top of that.....to come out ahead.  It just wouldn't be free.

It'd be nice, if the President could order Ford, GM and Chrysler to offer free oil changes for the life of a car, but I know that the car companies would inflate their prices and add two percent on top of that.....to come out ahead.  It just wouldn't be free.

It'd be nice, if the President could order Marriott hotels to offer a seventh night free, if you paid for six nights in the hotel, but I know that the hotel chain would inflate their prices and add two percent on top of that.....to come out ahead.  It just wouldn't be free.

It'd be nice, if the President could order International House of Pancakes to offer free bacon with each waffle meal, but I know that the IHOP folks would inflate their prices and add two percent on top of that.....to come out ahead.  It just wouldn't be free.

It'd be nice, if the President could order the airlines to carry your baggage free of charge when you book your trip, but I know that the airlines would inflate their prices and add two percent on top of that.....to come out ahead.  It just wouldn't be free.

It'd be nice, if the President could order free installation with all septic tanks (upon purchase), but I know the septic tank companies would inflate their prices and add two percent on top of that.....to come out ahead.  It just wouldn't be free.

So out there are a dozen health insurance guys who are busy with the numbers right now, and planning for 2013.  That normal three-to-five percent increase on health insurance costs?  Well....I'm betting almost all companies go for a ten percent rate increase, and maybe even fifteen percent.  The President will try hard not to grin when this gets announced, and Congress will talk of an investigation.

In the end.....there just isn't anything free.  That happy meal at McDonalds for your kid?  It's not really free....they figure its cost into the kid's meal.  The free tea deal at Catfish Cabin?  It's not really free because they figure that cost into the meal itself.  The free installation of that battery into your car at Sears? Well....it's not free because Sears figures the cost into each battery they sell.

Yes, we are just that naive, to believe that free is free, and that's the sad story of America tonight.

The 3-PM Game

This is what we know.  A western Colorado school has a 'after-3' club which involves choir singing.  It's not really sanctioned by the school....so it's run by volunteers or PTA folks or some gal/dude from the local area.  The emphasis of a 'after-3' club, is to typically get you bonus points for fancy schools (Duke, University of the South, SMU, etc).  These programs get onto your application to the fancy school (not your local community college or local state college where anyone accepts you).

You can imagine the script.....Johnny wants to get with Duke, so he has five 'after-3' clubs lined up.  He joins up with a Boy Scout troop and earns some badges.  Johnny has six hours allocated every two weeks for the old folks home where he plays cards with old ladies who wink at the kid all the time.  Johnny picks up trash around highway 16 which he personally adopted as his clean-America project.  And Johnny goes out with the local veterinarian on night duty to local ranches where he tends to sick horses and cows.

So the school in Grand Junction.....which is a ranching area.....was putting together for choir practice and singing.....and this unique sing is assigned...."Zikr".

To be kinda honest here...."Zikr", which the writer of the song (from India) says was written to as a musical piece to for "self-healing and spirituality," has a Islamic slant to it. This A R Rahman who wrote the song....says that the it's a simple piece and no one should think it's about Muslims....really.

So this kid from the Grand Junction school....went through the text and eventually came to decide that it was mostly a song to promote Allah in some fashion. The kid then decided, in a public statement....he'd just quit the choir because he wasn't going to sing on praise for Allah.

Some folks jumped up to defend "Zikir".  Although the school principal was pretty quiet over the matter.  It was not on his list of things approved, but it's for a "after-3" deal, so he doesn't care too much.  The feeling given by the school was that they'd just stand by the choir director, so the kid quit.  It was a simple choice here.

I kind of pondered over this mess.  This "Zikir" is usually done with drums....so it's got a beat to it.  I sat there....trying to think of a choir piece that involves drums, and other than "Little Drummer Boy"....there just isn't any choir music that I can think of that fits like this one.  So it's a bit odd.

Then I came to this choir director and how she came to pick the piece.  She's a volunteer and I'm guessing she's not a local gal.  How would you even know about the piece?  Well....you'd have to take some culture-type classes and get pretty orientated with Muslims....because no one else plays this stuff.

What happens now?  Well....it's basketball season and school now has a reputation.  As they compete against other schools.....the players will earn the name "Allah" and the coach will be on the short-fuse for most games.  It won't be a pleasant situation to face.

Local folks?  Well....they will be asking why Islamic things are on the school list of objectives.  Most teachers will now be asked for a full list of teaching objectives, and folks will be looking for things to argue about.

I look back over my years in Bama and there just weren't too many 'after-3' programs.  For me....it was FAA or 4-H.  I came to hate 4-H....mostly because of the steer project that I got into....raising a calf for eight months and then getting him trained enough to lead by a rope around a fenced in area.  After you've been dragged around a couple of times on the ground....there just isn't much pleasure to this project....except the $300 to $400 check you get at the cattle barn when you sell ole Bo, for someone's beef consumption.

We didn't have many kids in Bama aspiring to go off to Duke or some fancy private college in New York state.  Most kids just dreamed of going off to Auburn, and getting a chance to consume four cases of beer over each weekend.  If some gal showed up to run a choir program with some Muslim things attached to it....we would have sat there and mostly laughed.  Through peer pressure.....she would have been forced to give up on this idea pretty quick.

So out there in western Colorado.....there's choir practice tonight....with kids singing some Allah tunes.  They do it mostly because Mom or Dad is hoping on them getting into Yale, New York University, Brigham Young, or DePaul.  If they said to sing to Satan, professional wrestling or pinkeye.....they'd just do it.  The objective here.....just do and grin.....to get a stupid paragraph on a application form.  That's it.  And if you are standing there in some choir competition in Tulsa.....in fancy long white robes.....doing choir singing....and jump into some Allah-beat with drums in the background....well, its all part of the game.