Saturday, 25 May 2013

Things Are About to Change

There's two curious events going on in the world....which reflect upon two cultures, and likely will change history in the long-run.

First, in Iran....elections are coming.  The boys from various parties have been active, and there has to be a new President of Iran.  Frankly, the head Mullah guy....is bound and determined that the office ends up with the weakest character possible....so that the relgious authority in Iran...runs everything.  

You can imagine soap opera-like setting.

The whole election has to look authentic, but they just can't allow hard chargers or strong candidates to be authorized to run in the end.

So a national game is underway....if you want to be a major party....you have to put your candidate up for review.  Strangely enough....the last eight guys are pretty interesting characters.  Two of them....are considered planners in a 1994 terrorist attack, but it's never been proven over their participation.  The other six are calm and collected guys....not really the type that you'd want as a national President.  

This all leads to an election.  Folks vote.  And there's a winner.  

In the end, that guy will meet daily with the Mullah-character....take some advice, and just take the position by cues.  Iran?  It'll be run for the next eight years, by a Mullah....who doesn't ever leave the country, and probably has a working knowledge of the world....that would equal some farmer in Mississippi.  

Yeah, it doesn't mean much of any positive direction, but at least it's all scripted and folks like scripts.  Call it the "fake Presidency".

The second story?  Well....some Chinese guys have discovered Jon Stewart from the Comedy Channel.

Jon is a fairly cynical guy who really doesn't give any government officials much of a serious pat on the back.  

These Chinese guys have been waiting two thousand years for a guy who is willing to show up in public....downsize political figures....cast sarcastic comments toward leadership....and just not agree with the trend of national TV.  The Chinese public is on fire....for more Jon Stewart.  

The Chinese government is beginning to realize that this challenge to authority is like a wave.  There are Chinese citizens are now willing to note the same sarcasm.....against their leadership, their own political figures, their own authority.  

Whether Jon Stewart agrees with it or not....he's triggered this event.  American humor has broken the secret code.  It's about to change ways in China that the big guys never dreamed of.  Communism had fifty different ways to stop people in their tracks.  But stopping humor?  Marx, Lenin and Stalin never had to think of a trick against that.  

Better Times

I lifted this photo off a Facebook page (Ms Bullard) of the local (and only) grocery in my hometown.

Otto's store, was off and on, the only store in town.  There'd be some attempt to bring in some other shop....it'd last a year or two, then issues would arise, and it'd shut down.

As a kid growing up in Anderson in the 1960s and 1970s....after school, it was the only place where you could get a soda and a candy bar (10-cents for a Sun-Drop, and 5-cents for a Baby-Ruth).   For the seventh and eighth grades....after basketball practice, that was the place to go and grab a soda, while waiting on a ride home.

You'd walk out front, and sit on the bench.  It'd be a refreshing moment.  The Sun-Drop had maximum content on both sugar and caffeine.  It just took three gulps, and you could feel yourself feeling better.

Here in Anderson, you were safe....beyond belief.  Other than a cool breeze in October, or a brief thunderstorm, there wasn't much to worry about.

Out of Otto's soda refrigerator?  Well....to be honest, there was Coke, Pepsi, Dr Pepper, Sun-Drop, Tab, and some Kick-a-Poo drink.  That was it.  No alcohol.  No diet drinks.  I would imagine that he sold fifteen cases of sodas a day....mostly because there just wasn't anywhere else to buy a soda.

On the shelves?  Luckily, in those days....there were no expiration dates.  Yeah, some things might have been on the shelf for three years.  It's best not to ask about that.

Alcohol? Well....God had blessed the county, and we were dry.  No discussion on this topic.

It's an interesting photo.  Today?  Otto's store is long gone.  There's a gas station with a quarter the amount of stuff that Otto had.  Course, they sell various hot foods, offer forty different sodas, and you've got at least sixty candy bars today (almost all over $1).  Things are still reasonably safe.  Yeah, they've got a cop in town.  And there's some meth and crime around.

There were better times, than these.

Just General Opinions

Lois Lerner, the IRS chief over in Cincinnati?  A serial lair to the ninth degree.  Maybe compulsive.  Maybe habitual.  Maybe an entire personality characteristic.  But she's the least likely person you'd want in an executive position.

Eric Holder, our Attorney General?  Probably has the most forgettable memory of any man ever to hold an office of responsibility.  I'm not sure if he knows room number of his office, the bank he does business with, or the last dinner that he ate out.  For five years.....he's been Attorney General, and we've accepted this?

Matt Lauer of NBC Today Show?  About once a month, for ten lousy minutes....Matt will show brilliance, and then for the rest of the month....sink down to mediocre levels.  You could pull some cowboy off the range in Montana, and likely get just as good of job as Matt does.

Jodi Aras, this murdering gal from Arizona?  You had to be an absolute idiot not to figure out that she's a nutcase, then hang around her for years as her boyfriend, and not expect some great downfall one day.

Justin Bieber?  In twenty years, people will be asking how exactly this kid ever launched his career and stayed that popular.  Justin will eventually end up as some game-show host on the Oprah Network....my humble belief.

The Duck Dynasty guys?  Willie Robertson could probably come out today and announce his candidacy for President in 2016, and probably win.  Not that this would be a positive thing....because there'd be no more Duck Dynasty show.   Plus, he'd manage the nation like his business, and America would be just too successful.

Neil Cavuto of Fox Business News?  He's the only guy in America who could walk in and fill Paul Harvey's shoes today.  He asks all the questions that a regular guy wants answered, and fills in the holes of every story.

Finally, John McCain, senator from Arizona?  Maybe thirty years ago....he was sharp, concise, and capable of doing a good job in the senate.  Today?  He's there more to portray a character, more than a real senator.  He's acting his way through a normal week at the Senate, and it's kind of comical.

Just a Call

This week....the country of Nepal got all wrapped around the axle.  They were terribly upset that some guy had hiked all the way to the top of Mount Everest, and then while on the top....made a cell-phone call.  Apparently, you are supposed to have permission of the Nepal national media office....to do stunts like this.

The big deal?  Well....it was the first cell-phone call ever, from the top of the mountain.

Most countries would be fairly shocked....it's hard enough in twenty percent of the state of Alabama to get cell-phone reception, but you got reception at Mount Everest?  There's got to be something hokey about this story.  Either a fake call, or the guy had some kind of car-battery and antenna device that he lugged to the top, to make this call work.

So government reaction?  An investigation is going on, and they are asking serious questions of the company hired to lead the hikers to the top.  They are supposed to stop or forbid stunts like this from happening.  I'm guessing that a $50-bill probably did the job to just look the other way.

You can imagine this governmental meeting taking place.  A dozen guys around the table....most of them upset about the call....and it's the page one news for Nepal for a day or two.  Luckily, they don't have IRS or Fox News there.

The News Game

Over the past couple of weeks, I've noticed on a Fox News segment.....that they've sent a reporter out to ask folks what they know from the top events of the day.  The general answer?  Most of the folks on the street....don't know much of anything.

The reason?

You sit and look at how people use their time and what do to gain news.

I'd make a pretty good estimation that sixty to seventy percent of the nation....get up around between 5AM and 6AM....watching bits and pieces of the local news.  Around by 7AM, they might catch the first ten minutes of the Today Show or Fox News, then they leave for work or school.

A newspaper?  I doubt if more than fifty percent of the nation still reads a daily newspaper.  Most of what they pay attention to is the front page, local news, and the obituary column for the local area.  Crime reports?  Yeah, they probably pay special attention to crime in the local area.

Driving to work?  It's mostly music stations they listen to.....or the NPR guys who aren't exactly 'pure-news'.

Time and Newsweek?  There might be three percent of the nation who still pick up one of these and read it on a weekly basis....but not the entire magazine.  Most other folks see it in the dentist office, and might read through one article before getting called in.

By late afternoon?  Settling in to eat dinner, and maybe fifty percent of the nation watches local news, and the other fifty percent watch national news....mostly off the platter of ABC, CBS and NBC.  A smaller segment....maybe thirty million Americans....are split between CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC.

The real excuse here?  Things are complicated.  After a dimwit reporter for NBC tells a 90-second story....the guy at home wants to ask twelve questions because there's a bunch of holes in the story.  Well....you don't get that choice.

Then you have the problem of experts appearing from such-and-such foundation.....who mostly all tell one side of the story and avoid telling the entire story.

Paul Harvey?  Dead and six feet under.  He was the only guy who could sum all of America's news in ten minutes and put it into understandable portions that most folks could grasp.

So we come down to this interesting group of twenty million Americans who consume just about everything in the newspapers (maybe reading the Wall Street Journal and a local paper everyday), catching a full hour of national news at night, and reading through the internet to get to a full understanding of Cyprus, Russia, the IRS mess, who the gang of eight really are, and why economics is really important to every single American.

These are the people who watch an hour or two each week of business news.  They read British newspapers occasionally.  They watch the Chinese news channel off their cable network choices.  They get thirty minutes a week of Japanese national news.  They even read oddball journals on the internet concerning medical news, small business ventures, entertainment events, and discussions over if the Redskins ought to change their name.

The public at large....is confused....and really can't put most of the pieces of the puzzle together.  Sadly, this is the best we can do....and frankly, we've got better things to do.  Between mowing the grass, and cleaning out the garage....we shouldn't have to waste any time trying to grasp where the heck Benghazi is located, or why the Justice Department is sneaking around some guy's phone records.  We are on automatic, and it's likely to stay that way.

The nation is depending then....on twenty million Americans to ask stupid questions....for everybody else.   And hopefully, that's enough to get the job done.

So Little?

Yesterday, I had lunch at the Pentagon executive dining facility.  Yeah, it's upscale and I rarely eat there, but it was one of those days.

So I finished the full meal....decent enough, and the lady comes by to tempt me with a French such-and-such desert.  She had a strawberry flavored one.  So I thought.....sure.

Two minutes later, she comes with with this shotglass of some pudding, with half a strawberry cut up into it, and maybe one piece of cake in the middle that.  On the side?  A spoon big enough to put one peanut onto.

I just looked at this and felt.....it was a pretty sorry thing for a French such-and-such desert.

Course, with the peanut-spoon....it took around twelve attempts to finish off the whole thing.

The bill came next.  $1.99 for this shotglass of something fancy.  It was probably 80 calories....at the most.  Maybe that's a positive thing.

Being from Bama.....I felt a bit foolish.  But, that's what you get in a fancy dining establishment.  It's best to plan ahead and carry a honey bun with you as you eat in places like this.