Thursday, 11 October 2012

My Neighborhood

Across the river from me....is the District (DC), which usually has oddball events that occur weekly.  This week, there's a discussion underway about taxis.

You see, for decades....taxis in DC....could be any color that the company wanted them to be.  There's probably a dozen colors or tints that exist in the District at this point.  The word "taxi" appears on the side, but there are various colors.

Well.....someone has gotten the Taxi-Commission (yeah, there is such a thing), to make a rule.....over one pure color for all DC-registered taxis.  Course, the debate is on.....and it can't be yellow because there's already a company that makes their taxis yellow.  So there's three basic choices: green, red and gray, and black with a red/white/blue deal.

So after seventy-five odd years....a necessity to make all taxis in the district one color....which leads to what?  Easier recognition?

To be honest, most folks have given up on recognizing taxis, and just use their cellphone to get a taxi at a certain location.

This oddball black with re/white/blue?  Well....there's a feeling that it'd be patriotic and set taxis different from the rest of America.  Green?  Well....no one really says much for it.  To be honest, no one outside of the Taxi-Commission really cares.

Most of the locals believe that all members of the Taxi-Commission are bought-off.  No one anywhere in the District thinks that the Commission is legit at this point.  Everything has a purpose to drive up cost or rates or drive out competition.  That's the comical side of this game of color....there is no advantage for anyone.

Analysis by Churchill in the Modern Era

Actual quote:

"The Americans will always do the right thing... once they've exhausted the alternatives"

- Winston Churchill

Brits tend to cut down into the meat of a topic rather quickly.  They produced greats like Shakespeare, Daniel DeFoe, Walter Scott, Lord Bryon, Dickens, and Orwell.

The sad truth is that he probably was right.  We always see a dozen options, prioritized in a fashion which rarely makes much sense, be optimistic with each option as we attempt it, and eventually come down to one final option.....which does work.

The thing is....the American is willing to take on the impossible, with just a dim view of potential success, and that's all we really needed to start a project.  And we've got the patience to exhaust things until something bloody-well works in the end.

My Neighborhood

We've got a local city council guy....ex-city council guy....from the District (across the river from me here in Virginia), who got convicted in a federal court.  Note, charges in a federal court, mean you do federal time and any negotiation you get....is a favor....and you don't screw a deal up.

Well...our local guy....Kwame Brown, has been waiting for the final hearing for sentencing.  His charges circle around bank fraud....which could mean at least a year or two in prison.  The judge told Kwame.....months ago as part of the deal.....he needed to call into the federal office several times a week while waiting on the sentence part of the episode. All he had to do....was call on schedule.

Well....Kwame just wasn't living up to the deal, so the judge asked Kwame to meet up this week.  The judge decided that Kwame wasn't adult enough to maintain the deal....so there's a curfew now established.  From 11PM to 6:30AM.....Kwame has to stay home.  These call-in deals....gone.  He has to physically go down to the federal office each time to establish that he is in the local area.

You have to laugh about this.  You got a five-star deal from the judge and you screwed it up.  You have to waste at least ninety minutes for each one of these physical meetings because you need to drive down....find parking....and wait outside some Federal office for a guy to note that you are actually there, then return home.

The sad thing was that this guy was head of the DC city council, and was supposed to be mature enough to run local city government.

The Little Oriental Guy

So, this is what we know.

This Asian-looking guy gets on the plane in Japan, flies into South Korea, and boards a plane to the US.  In the US....they look the guy over.  He's wearing flame retardant pants, and a bullet-proof vest.  In his bags?  A smoke grenade.  Then, there's the leg irons, the body bags, some billy clubs, a hatchet, a collapsible baton, a roll or two of duct tape and a biohazard suit.

The guy?  A US citizen of Asian descent.  His reasons for the items?  He won't talk much.

His final destination?  Boston.  Criminal record?  Zero.  His background?  No one really knows much.  He has worked for some time in Japan, but no one is sure what line of work.

Violation of laws?  Well...the smoke grenade being carried on the plane might carry a federal violation, and California (where he landed) has some laws about bill clubs.  The smoke grenade might be serious enough to get you a month or two in some federal jail.

The thing is....the cops are kinda curious.  There's no details over why he needed these.

My theory?  He's a mafia employee from Japan.  He does the dirty work that no one else wants to handle.    If you needed a guy to do really really rough interrogation....you'd call up this guy to handle the problem. You need someone to disappear....you'd call this guy.

The California cops will have to charge him with something by Friday.  Without any talking or information....they don't have much to go on.  Bail?  Probably in the $1 million range, but someone will walk in and pay it.  The story will disappear within a week, and the guy will never be seen again after he pays the bail.  Just my humble belief.

Being a Bird for $314k a Year

Some folks sat down and analyzed the taxes and such....of Sesame Street's team.

The guy who plays Oscar the Grouch and Big Bird?  He makes $314k a year.

The guy who plays Stinky the Stinkweed, the Two-Head Monster, and Papa Bear?  He makes almost $500k a year.

Most of the other players on the Sesame Street team?  $300k to $450k a year.

The benefit packages?  They aren't mentioned but I'm guessing that the best health care packages are included, along with a 401k matching deal.

How does this compare to most folks in the state of Bama?  Well....we must admit that we do pay the football coaches of Auburn and Alabama....a fair amount more than Big Bird.  And the basketball coach for Bama likely makes more.  The Chancellor of both Auburn and Alabama probably makes at least in the $400k range.

Our two senators from the state?  They pull in around $174k a year....so they don't even match Big Bird.

Our governor?  Well....he pulls in around $115k a year.

The top CEOs around the state?  There might be thirty or forty CEOs in Bama who make in the $300k or more range.  Course, they work fifty to sixty hour weeks.....worry about products being delivered on time....and have responsibility over 500 employees.  They don't worry about clean feathers or the daily script thats written by a seven-year old kid.

Maybe it's time to retire the cast of Sesame Street....move the operation to Red Bay, hire up some local unemployed folks for $35k a year, and restart the clock.  Heck, for $150k a year, I think even David Hasselhoff would be agreeable to put on the Big Bird outfit and walk around the stage for an hour a day....provided you allowed booze on the Street.  I'd do the job for $60k a year....as long as you had the AC turned down to 60 degrees when I wore the stupid bird outfit.

Some Simple Truths

There's this discussion going on about cutting the $445 million a year from the US government budget item for PBS, which might kill Big Bird, Ernie, and perhaps the Cookie Monster.  In the past week, someone cited this thirty-year research project which shows that Sesame Street has a dramatic affect on the educational and social progress of kids....so killing the funding might be a terrible thing.  Perhaps we should go on borrowing money from the Chinese guys, to help keep Sesame Street going.  Then this terrible truth popped up in my mind.  What exactly did we do.....before the fall of 1970....when PBS, Sesame Street, and Big Bird did not exist?   How did we advance as a society before 1970.....without Bert and Ernie, or PBS?  I doubt if the original budget from the US government was more than $10 million (you don't find anyone commenting on that 1970 budget contribution, which is odd).  And now, we need to find $445 million a year....to save society?

At some point yesterday, the President explained part of his debate troubles...was that he was too polite. He apparently, won't be polite in the next debate.  Of the six hundred-odd reasons you could give for a decent but average debate episode..... politeness would usually be near number 595.  I can't think of too many folks ever faulting you for being too polite.  Most southerners regard politeness as one of the top ten characteristics that any gentleman ought to have and utilize on a daily basis.  So for the second debate, the guy intends to be anti-polite....to get more attention at the end?

It was mentioned in today's news that the Rolling Stones will be doing another tour, with Mick Jagger who will be turning 70 in the next year.  It's hard to imagine that a seventy-year old guy would want to run around the country....staying up in hotels nightly....eating food on the run....boozing it nightly with buddies....singing up 1970s rock tunes or pretending to sing while the CD machine blends in his voice.....and get some enjoyment out of it.  The sad truth here....is that some idiots would actually pay $125 to see a 70-year old guy just stand on the stage and sing up a couple of tunes which don't mean much forty years later.

There are seventy thousand pages of tax code written since the 1920s and used for the daily running of our American federal tax system.  Some paragraphs help the shrimp fishermen of Alabama, but not those of Florida.  Some paragraphs help the cattlemen of Kansas, but not those of Oregon.  The simple truth is....nothing is right or fair about taxes in America.  We've mentioned this unfairness for over fifty years, and basically gotten nowhere with the politicians.  Course, we've also mentioned that paying $60k for some professor to go and study butterfly's in Argentina as a project for some American university is plain stupid....but that didn't worry the politicians either.

The Federal Court guys stood up and said that South Carolina can have the voter ID law....only, it has to start in 2013, not 2012.  There's just not enough time to educate folks that you'd need an ID to vote in state elections....according to the Federal Court guys.  To be kinda honest, you could spend ten years attempting to educate folks in South Carolina about the necessity of always having an ID on your person in order to vote, and I imagine that five percent of voters would always show up without any ID.  Course, this is the same group that probably forgets to put their underwear on each day, or forgets to fasten their seat-belts or forgets to close the door to the bathroom when visiting relatives and using their facilities.  I don't know if the federal government can ever fix this five-percent group.

Finally, I've sat and watched four episodes of the new TV show Revolution now.  You can see some creative things to relate the show to Lost, and to keep people gripped to the show.  So far, the most curious part of this bold new world projected by the producers, which has no electrical or gas powered situations....is that you just plain don't see any guns (usually, it's muskets)....but rarely do guns get displayed.  You are told....after the downfall of the American government....guns were all confiscated.  Once so far, there's been a scene where a guy had a gun, and ended up being killed because of ownership of a gun.  It's a pretty oddball scenario, and I'm having doubts that I'll make it past episode seven on this series.