Thursday, 6 December 2012

The Subway Episode

A couple of days ago in New York City....down on a subway platform....some guy got into a moment of discussion with some homeless guy.  It's safe to say that the homeless guy went into some tirade, and then pushed the other guy onto the tracks....where a subway car approaching....killed him.

The incident was filmed by the dead man's girlfriend.

When I arrived in DC in 2010 and went walking through the various areas of the District....I came to realize there were a lot of homeless folks.  There were also a high number of nuts.  You could pass by a character who'd suddenly make eye contact and then start to yell at you.  After you'd seen two or three of these episodes.....you start to avoid any eye contact with any of the homeless people.

Dangerous?  On any given day in DC.....you could have an episode where a homeless guy just goes off and starts fighting another homeless guy or attacking someone on the street.

There ought to be ways to put these folks into a mental institute, but no one wants to responsibility over an issue like that.

The family of the dead guy in New York City?  Well....they say they wish that people around the platform would have come to the aid of their relative before he got killed.  No one much mentions the nutcase.  A judge-ordered mental exam will take a couple of months and I expect the guy to be declared unfit to stand trail and then placed into a life-long situation within a mental institute.  It's not the best deal for anyone, but this is all you get.   

Just the News

The Cape Cod Times is a localized paper there along the coast of Massachusetts which goes out to roughly 43k people.  Yesterday, the paper came out and kinda admitted that they had discovered a long-time reporter for the paper.....had been making up fictional characters as part of stories.  The name of the reporter doesn't matter, but it's interesting to note that she'd been around since 1981.  So there's a number of a lot of fictional characters sprinkled throughout various stories.  And to be truthful, she's done a lot of stories with real people.

You can guess and figure out the whole scheme here.  A hundred years ago....your regional paper had four pages of material max.  When we got to a fairly automated period in the 1920s....the newspapers began to shift around.

So you needed to fill space at that point.  Your boss would step up and tell you the story on the robbery had to expand from six lines, to forty lines.  The truth?  There just wasn't forty lines of information to tell about some robbery at the bank.  After you and think over it a while...you need quotes as filler for the article.  So you hopefully find some bank employee, bank executive, or policeman who will give you two or three quotes.....to fill up the forty lines.

Folks got used to the habit.  Filler was a good thing.

Eventually, you even got around to believing that if you couldn't find enough good filler, then you used bad filler.....imaginary comments or such.

The Cape Cod Times may think it's all a great thing that they did, and truth is refreshing.....but eventually, they will find a second reporter, a third reporter, and this will all reach a point where folks admit that everyone has done some fake stuff in their reporting.

The sad thing here....is that there's really not more than four pages of real news to tell each day in most areas of America.  The other twenty-six pages?  Filler.  And that's the way it is.

Just Some Thoughts

Occasionally, I have these ideas.

I have this one idea....if we could government subsidize a massive amount of weed-growth in America, and just hand out marijuana to everyone, on a massive scale....then we’d smoke enough not to notice how bad our health was, and die earlier from ailments that were never noticed...then we’d save a ton of money on unnecessary medical treatment. I admit, it’s an idea under development, but I think it has bold opportunity.  And yeah, some folks might not be happy about missing out on longer lives.

I have this one idea....running a network called "1960s", and just feature TV shows and movies from the 1960s.  I'm pretty sure I could cram twenty-four hours of 1960s TV into each day and surprise people at the various shows that just never got shown again (like Combat, Cheyenne, and Burke's Law).

I have this one idea....letting some kid on his sixteenth birthday not only test for his license....but test to graduate right out of high school....into the local community college, and even pay for the first two years with money that would have been spent on high school.

I have this one idea....of putting a 50-percent tax on booze and smokes....to finance healthcare.  Course, I know some folks won't be happy about that.

I have this one idea....running actual delivery of the US mail to strictly Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.  If you wanted to drive over and pick up your package on Monday or Thursday.....you could stop in to find a minimum staff at the post office.....just enough to keep the doors open.

I even have this one idea of running a hotel-like complex with WW II-type tents and give you the rustic lifestyle image that you remember your uncle talking about over his memories of the big war, and how things were fairly simple.

Where Socialism Works

After a number of years traveling around....when the question comes up....can socialism work?  The general answer is that you can run a 50-50 mix with capitalism and socialism....in a small tight society.  The thing is....you have to have some general rules at the beginning of this....to glue the mess together.

First, you need to have a limited number of special interest groups: the arts society, the educational elite, the library folks, the school teacher squads, the bicycle trails mafia, etc.  You simply put a bucket of money on the table and tell everyone that this is it....split it twelve ways or sixteen ways or forty-four ways....but that's all you get for this year.  Once you establish this rule....the special interest groups are careful about not getting creative and adding more folks at the table.

Second, the tax rules are set down into stone and you don't go back and change rules every two or three years.  There might be a bump-up here, or a bump-down there....but the taxation rate is pretty much set so that everyone plays on the same field together.

Third, the evils of society.....smokes, booze, and entertainment....is going to be fairly taxed and you just aren't going to be happy if you are a chain-smoker or a heavy boozer.

Fourth, the TV crowd and newspaper folks.....are all pretty good friends of each other, and the political establishment.  So, there's rarely any corruption that gets reported.  You could breeze through national nightly news in sixteen minutes, or read all of the national newspaper in thirty minutes.  Things typically don't get exciting...mostly because it damages the trend of a society if you start in this direction.

Fifth, you get used to the idea of not inventing anything new or radical.  Remember....it's a blend of socialism and capitalism.  Taking risks usually isn't a great feature in a society like this.

Sixth, folks get used to the idea of a fairly limited house, a limited tool shed, a limited barn, a limited garage, and a limited car.  If you have to pay nineteen percent sales tax on everything....then you limit your tool-chest to just six good screwdrivers....which might be around for twenty years.  In your closet?  There might be six pairs of shoes for the four seasons.  When one pair of shoes wears out...you go and price up the most economical deal for a replacement pair....which you hope they last seven years.

Seventh, looking and acting rich in a 50-50 society....means you have to spend money to gain that status-look.  Wannabe rich guys eventually figure that this is a waste of time, money and effort....so they don't pretend to be rich anymore in such a society.  The rest of these folks?  They generally hate the idea of looking rich because it always means more taxes are taken in some fashion.  So it's best to look remarkably limited in your 'richness'.

Eighth, and final....at the heart of the matter, you never allow any capitalistic trends to start up where credit cards are handed out like candy, and folks start to get $100k in plain simple debt by age forty.  You also ensure that government worker salaries stay at a low level for the first ten years, and only start to perk up by age forty.  The truth is....you already know that a 50-50 mix doesn't produce much wealth that you can tax and hand out to folks, so you don't get stupid and start spending money you don't have.

Yeah, it does sound like Denmark....doesn't it?

The Count

Amongst all the new regulations coming into effect in the spring of 2013....is a rule that says every single item on a restaurant menu....must have a calories count listed next to it.  For McDonalds or Wendys....it's a simple task.  They pay some smart science guys who huddle around a burger....and come to some conclusion of calories.  End of discussion.

Well.....you come over to Dominos Pizza, and there's a bit of a problem.  Today, the CEO came out to admit that Dominos has a huge issue.  There are 33 million varieties of pizza that they can serve.  The idea of them having a huge wall of calorie counts for 33 million variations of pizza....is just about impossible to imagine.

There's some meetings that Dominos will hold with the US government....trying to determine how they can meet their regulation deal.  The number of Dominos customers who might care about this?  Out of sixteen million folks who might buy a pizza regularly from them....I'm guessing 66 folks might actually care or be shocked over the calorie count.  The rest?  Frankly, they don't give a damn.

So this brings me to the small restaurants throughout America....especially in Bama.  Down at the Hank's Grill, the four-page menu is a problem.  Hank will stand there and admit that he doesn't a purely scientific method of calculating the calorie count.  His grilled ham and cheese sandwich is difficult to figure out.  That bit of Tabasco Sauce....then the pickle in the middle....and a bit of relish on the plate?  It might be 288 calories....maybe as few as 235 calories.  So he will estimate on this, and wait for some idiot to challenge him in court.

Does it make any difference on calorie count?  Well....some folks have taken up a lifestyle of counting every calorie and enthusiastically write this down each day.  They aim to stay under 1500 calories for 365 days out of the year.  To do that....they need people to cooperate with their system.  The rest of us?  Frankly, we don't give a damn.

Eventually, the regulation business will touch county fairs and even community bar-b-q's.  You will stand there at the fair and discover that corn-dog that you've been eating every year for forty-four years.....is almost 295 calories (without the mustard).  Or that roll of honey on a stick is almost 600 calories.  Or that can of beef stew you bought at the community picnic grounds is loaded with 750 calories in one XXL bowl.

Maybe it's best that we just don't know.