Thursday, June 26, 2008

Supreme Decisions

OK, here's a little quiz for you:
Who are the two people Bush appointed to the Supreme court?
Who is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court?
Name as many members of the Supreme Court as you can?

Stumped? Don't worry about it. Not many people can answer those questions. (Answer to first two: Alito & Roberts; Roberts) Yet, there are in my humble opinion two really important things a president does: send our nation to war and appoint Supreme Court Justices.
We already know how Junior and McCain feel about the war thing and we already know how Junior handled the Supreme Court thing. But what about McCain and Obama. Given they're position on issues, one can make educated guesses but when you appoint Justices, it's basically a crap shoot. Once they get on the bench, they can do absolutely whatever they want and no one, but no one, can do a thing about it. Still a president does have a lot of influence in who he appoints (conservative, liberal, etc).
The reason I bring this up is because the court is now in the process of ruling on a number of key issues. Three such decisions have already stirred a lot of controversy: 1) Detainees at Guantanamo Bay are entitled to due process; 2) A child rapist can not be executed; 3) The Exxon Valdez oil spill award has been reduced from $2.5 billion to $500 million. Today they're ruling on an important gun control case.
Where ever you may stand on these issues isn't the point because your opinion counts for nothing. Ever since the Supreme Court gave itself the authority of 'judicial review' way back when, no person, company,organization or branch of government has much to say. this an important consideration in the upcoming election? You decide but if you're thinking 'Who cares? Decisions by the SC rarely affect me', I would invite you to consider a ruling passed down by the court last year: a municipality has the right to seize private property for the purpose of commercial development. Can't happen to you? Ask a bunch of people in New London, CT.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Blame dem Dems

Leave it to Junior to spend the rest of his mercifully short tenure in office playing the blame game with the price of oil. Now he's trying to convince us that the high price of gasoline is because the dems have been blocking further drilling in Alaska National Wildlife Reserve (hitherto referred to as ANWR). Oddly enough part of what he says is true. Part of the problem is supply. But that's where his understanding ends. What he doesn't know or at least what he refuses to acknowledge is that it isn't necessarily a given that ANWR oil will end up in your gas tank. All oil goes through the world commodities market & then resold. It doesn't necessarily go direct to a refinery.
Second, Bush sees no problem with permanently endangering a delicate wildlife preserve for very temporary gains.
Third Junior has conveniently forgotten that for six of his 7+ years, the Republicans controlled congress. They're the same guys (and precious few) gals who led this country into the deepest deficit in history.
Which leads to the fourth point. The value of the US dollar on the world market is extremely low. That's because there are so many of them out there. That's because we have a huge deficit. (Imagine poor Junior trying to follow this!) Oil is traded in dollars, hence, a dollar buys less oil than it once did and it will get worse until someone comes along to control the deficit. This is all complicated by speculators trading on the world market. But when anyone tries to explain all of this to Bush, he takes two aspirin and calls Cheney. Oh sure, the oil companies are taking their profit but don't expect the good old oil boys to do anything about that. That's the American way. No matter that the concept of competition is a joke & that basically what we have is a monopoly. When's the last time you saw a price war at the gas pumps?
What Junior should be doing is taking steps to cut the deficit and urging conservation. Those are the things that will eventually solve this problem. I wonder if McCain & Obama know that.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Autism and Science

While doing my usual Tuesday morning errands, I was listening to Imus in the Morning on ABC radio. Imus very ofter has his wife, Deirdre, as a guest. Her particular passion is the fight against Autism. She does speaking engagements, raises money & awareness and fights for more funding for research. So far all this is fine. We all have to have our causes. The trouble begins when she states repeatedly & unequivocally that one of the chief causes of Autism is the nation’s immunization program. This is where she loses me. Ms Imus did what many people do when discussing an issue in which they have too much emotional involvement. She neglected to think like a scientist. Her entire argument was based on the premise that since there is such an increase in Autism, what else could it be but something all children have in common: immunizations. She failed to take into account the many variables involved in this issue:
1. The very definition of Autism has changed dramatically. It is no longer a single entity. It is now a syndrome consisting of many things, i.e. Asperger’s Syndrome.
2. Diagnostic procedures have improved tremendously. I’m sure we all know adults, many adults, who if they were children today would be diagnosed with some form of Autism.
3. The general population has grown and continues to grow. Statistically, it’s impossible for there NOT to be more cases of Autism.
Science and the Scientific Method will solve this and all other problems. Not hysterical ranting or wild assumptions. Correlation does not presume cause and effect.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tim Russert Remembered

I was very saddened to hear of Tim Russert's passing. I enjoyed watching him on "Meet the Press" very much. I've also heard him on many occasions having discussions with Don Imus on Imus's morning radio show. In addition to being an extraordinary broadcast journalist, he sounded like a genuinely nice guy. He had the rare ability to ask hard questions of someone while respecting them and preserving their dignity. His level of preparedness was unbelievable. How he was able to find some of the old news clips he used with people was amazing. There's on one else like him now. Chris Matthews & his ilk are annoying blowhards who can't keep their mouths shut long enough to hear a reply and people like Bill O'Reilly are just plain obnoxious. It will be interesting to see who NBC get's to replace him. �

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mac vs PC

You know those Mac vs PC ads? I think they’re really clever and since I’m a long time Mac user while also being quite familiar with Windows, I really get the humor. Of course PC users probably don’t laugh quite as hard as I do because they’re still smarting from upgrading to Vista. Just the other day I got a message from a friend of mine who had a sad tale indeed of his recent purchase of a PC (Forgot the name. Doesn’t matter. They’re pretty much the same anyway) with the new Vista OS. After hours on the phone with someone in India, he still wasn’t able to transfer his address book or get his email to work properly. He then had to buy third party software to help with the problem. I haven’t heard from him recently so I don’t know where it stands now. He probably jumped off a bridge! Even if you do need a Windows OS to run some specialized software, you can always load the more stable Windows XP on a new Mac. When you boot up, you choose the OS you want. That simple.
However, be warned. There is definitely a downside to buying a Mac. For example you don’t get to further the cause of cultural exchanges because you’ll never be talking to tech people located in other countries. Another thing is you don’t get to load up your book shelves with impressive books like “Vista for Dummies”. Also, you’re not going to be in a Best Buy or Circuit City any time soon looking for a smart new printer or scanner because the old one is going to work just fine. Yet another good reason to stick with a PC is because when your wife hounds you to redo the family room (stupid thing was done 10 years ago. Our neighbors Sam & Ella haven’t done theirs in 30 years and it looks just fine to Sam & me), you’re going to be up to your eyeballs in antivirus software trying to figure out what’s going to be compatible with what. You see, Macs are pretty much virus free. Forget shopping for other nifty new software too. Macs come preloaded with a suite of software called ‘iLife’ which includes iPhoto, iMovie, iTunes, iDVD, iCalc, iWeb, Garage Band (for composing your own music), iMail & more. At least you will get to buy MS Office Suite.
No, on second thought PC users, stick with your little Dell. You can’t handle a Mac!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I Don't Get It

Two very interesting simultaneous events occured as I was driving this morning. First, on CBS radio I heard the price of a barrel of oil on the world market 'dipped' to $125. Second as I passed an Exxon/Mobile station I noticed the price of regular unleaded was up 4 cents in the space of a couple of hours. I don't get it. I just don't get it. When oil goes up there's an immediate increase in the price of gasoline at the pump. But when it goes down isn't it supposed to go down at the pump too??? Plus if the oil companies, as they've testified ad nauseum, are victims of supply and demand, and, as they're claiming, they have to pay as much for 'sweet crude' as the rest of the world, how's it possible for them to be reporting record quarterly profits? I'm no genius but it seems to me that at the end of the day in order to have a profit, you must have tacked on some cash some where along the way, right?? I don't get it. But I'm sure our Congress will get to the bottom of it!!!!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Take cover. Here they come!!!

Well they’re at it again-this time with a vengeance. I’m talking about the lunatic fringe. The so-called Christian right who haven’t a clue what Christian values are all about. I’m referring to the spate of email forwards filling my mailbox that have some of the most vicious, vile stuff yet seen about Barack ‘Hussein’ Obama. Note that these nuts are always sure to reference this guy’s middle name, as though it had anything to do with Saddam Hussein. If Obama gets the nomination, as it now seems he will, I fear this Fall’s presidential campaign is going to be very ugly indeed. The real question is will main-stream America see this crap for what it is or will they buy into it? It will be a real test of this country’s moral character. Let me be quick to point out that a vote for John McCain will not necessarily mean the nation has failed. The test will be how the campaign is conducted and what’s said during the course of it. Unfortunately, I’m not optimistic but hope springs eternal so I’m hoping I’m wrong. Stay tuned.