Saturday, February 28, 2009

Jindal Jabber

When Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal delivered his rebuttal speech to President Obama’s address to Congress on Tuesday night, I was reminded of Sheriff Andy Taylor delivering one of his homespun homilies to a contrite Barney Fife. Except, of course, that Jindal’s speech contained a lot more bullshit and made much less sense than anything Sheriff Andy ever said to his numbskull deputy.

Before Jindal finished telling his disingenuous story about how he and real-life Sheriff Harry Lee defied FEMA bureaucrats to come and arrest them for trying to rescue people from rooftops in flooded New Orleans, another memory began to surface; something about Jindal’s face looked eerily familiar. But, as the Governor’s speech went from lame to lamer and my outrage over his remarks inferring that volcano monitoring is unnecessary spending threatened to make my head do a Mt. St. Helens, I temporarily lost that train of thought.

Hey, if the cost of volcano monitoring displeases Jindal so much, maybe he could apply that same reasoning to other early warning systems; think how much money the government could save if it cut off funding for NASA, USGS, NWS, USFS, and other organizations tasked with gathering information that has the potential to save people’s lives. Applied evenly, Jindal’s logic could turn everyone’s life into a crapshoot (or a crapchute—take your pick). And I’m sure that billionaires would appreciate the resulting tax breaks. But, I digress.

The following day, many of the blogs I follow featured a portrait photo of Bobby Jindal, and the memory I spoke of earlier once again tried to surface. Then—suddenly—a random thought, summed up in a single word, made the memory complete. Freckles! Simply add a sprinkling of freckles to Jindal’s face and you’ve got a near-perfect likeness of Mad Magazine’s poster boy.

In fact, the resemblance is so striking that I now propose that all future displays of Bobby’s portrait photos be accompanied by the caption, “What, me worry?”

And when Bobby Jindal and Sarah Palin campaign for the Presidency in 2012, they can do so using the campaign slogan, “What, us worry?”

I’m still undecided if this is something I should worry about.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Beginning of the End . . .

Environmental degradation, global climate changes, pending food and water shortages, a looming energy crisis, a burst housing bubble, massive (and growing) unemployment, unrelenting war, a pending transportation crisis, crumbling infrastructure, and a foundering economy based on unsustainable revolving credit should be enough to tell us we’re doing something wrong. Is anybody paying attention? Probably not, at least not until this season’s reality TV shows have run their course.

A perfect storm of calamities has overtaken us, and none of the proposals so far put forth by the President, the House, the Senate, Wall Street buff . . . er, tycoons, the Federal Reserve, corporate CEOs, and all the other pay-to-play or paid-to-play performers in the powerbroker hierarchy are ambitious enough or smart enough to head it off or to even mitigate some of the damage it’s causing.

Politicians afflicted with tunnel vision and an ingrained belief that political expediency is the best tool for addressing whatever problem arises are as much to blame for this perfect storm as the people who set the various components of the storm in motion by manipulating the economy for personal gain. If they realize that dealing with the core problem, the economy, in exactly the right way will cause all related problems to resolve themselves, they’re keeping it a closely guarded secret.

In regards to the economy, forget about recession; that car went behind the pit wall a long time ago and a full-blown depression replaced it. As our economic engine continues to lug down to a standstill, what we need, now—more than a gear change to bring the engine back up to speed—is a complete change of vehicles. Maintaining the status quo is not a viable option, and doing more of the same things that got us into this mess is not going to get us out of this mess.

While most people who are in a position to do something about it agree that some type of stimulus spending package needs to be implemented quickly, few agree as to how much money to spend and what to spend it on. Rather than entertain ideas that will actually work, the GOP (Greedy Obstructionist Politicians) snipe at Democratic proposals while arguing (erroneously and disingenuously)) that free markets and tax cuts for the wealthy are the best solutions.

Meanwhile, the Democrats steadfastly refuse to grow the spines and/or the balls necessary to tell the Repugthuglicans that they’re no longer in charge. Did Rome burn while Nero fiddled around? As a matter of fact, it did, and much the same thing seems to be happening here, only on a larger scale.

The key to getting the economy back on track is to get money moving again, and only banks and government have the financial clout to make it happen. Middle-class/working-class people can’t and won’t be much help; until their jobs are secure and future paychecks guaranteed they aren’t likely to spend money on anything but absolute essentials—the most basic of basic necessities. One-time stimulus payments are more likely to end up buried in the back yard than they are to flow into the economy.

Letting the banks fail would have dire consequences for the economy and therefore is not an option, but before forking over huge amounts of the taxpayers’ cash to bail them out, government should reinstate all of the regulations that were removed since the beginning of Reagan’s deregulation orgy and impose a few new regulations to insure against further abuses.

As it stands, Timothy Geithner’s bank rescue plan is a formula for failure. At the least, government should nationalize the failed and failing banks, fire the executives responsible for this disaster, cancel all bonuses and “performance” awards, sell off the fleets of corporate jets and executive limos to someone who can afford to waste the money, and do whatever else it takes to restore solvency and put the banks back on the path to profitability.

What we are witnessing now is nothing less than the end of life as we know it, and the situation is sure to get worse before it starts to get better. That’s just the way these things work. But the end doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing; the end of one thing could be the beginning of something new, of something more equitable and fair for everyone, of something that measures wealth not in terms of money but in quality of life.

In the end, reality will trump political ideology. In the end, we will either get it right or we won’t. If we get it right, the end will signify the end of the beginning and suspend the game of politics as usual. If we don’t, the end will be just that—the end of everything human.

Cynic that I am, at this point in time I’m betting on won’t.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

B.A.D.! B.A.D.! B.A.M.!

It all started Sunday afternoon when I landed on Chuck for . . . to play a little catch-up. When I finished reading Chuck’s latest post, I could barely see the top of a graphic posted right below the heading Blogroll Amnesty Day, but it grabbed me, so I scrolled a little further down the page to see what it was all about. And before I realized that I was about to open a can of worms, I opened the can of worms.

Not long after, I arrived at Jon Swift, where I learned even more about Blogroll Amnesty Day and how bloggers use it to promote other blogs while promoting their own blogs in the process. From there I made my way to Skippy the bush kangaroo, where I let the ‘roo apply some polish to my newfound knowledge until I was convinced that that blog, too, should become a full-fledged member of my blogroll. And from there . . . well, that’s where the aforementioned can of worms comes in. But more about the worms in a minute.

As it turns out, promoting one’s blog the Blogroll Amnesty Day way is nothing more complicated than adopting a liberal blogroll policy; simply blogroll lots of B- and C-list blogs, and get them to blogroll yours in return. In other words, it’s all about exchanging links, much like knowledgeable Webmasters have done to promote their Web sites since the second Web site went online.

Although I think that Blogroll Amnesty Day (B.A.D) is a bit of a misnomer and that it should be renamed Blog Appreciation Day (also B.A.D.) to better describe what the event is about, I understand that it’s an event steeped in years (2) of tradition and that the founders may not be willing to let go of that.

From my standpoint, however, a simple name change may not be enough. Because I do everything slower these days (often, a single blink turns into a two-hour nap), an extended duration for the event would be most welcome, too. Perhaps we could call it Blog Appreciation Month (B.A.M.), instead. More time in which to get things done will give me more time in which to get things done. Or more time to procrastinate; I’ll be happy either way.

In the spirit of Blogroll Amnesty Day, I’m resigned to dedicating the entire month of Feb-roo-air-ee (as Hart Williams admonishes) to adding more blogs to Frieddogleg’s blogroll. I’ll be looking for and adding blogs and contacting those bloggers as time permits. And that brings me back to the subject of worms.

Oh, yes, about the worms. They’ve insinuated themselves into my daily routine, subverted most of my plans for the year, wormed their way into my heart, and generally become the most delightful nuisances I could ever imagine (but can’t imagine doing without). I’ve already introduced you to a few of those worms; I’ll introduce you to many more in the days to come.

And if you’re a blogger who has added this worm to your blogroll, let me know so I can return the favor. E-mail me at peteyATperfecttextDOTcom (mention “blogroll” in the subject line), or post the necessary information in a comment to the latest entry at Frieddogleg.

Don’t let your blog get left behind. Today is B.A.D., and a better day to begin an aggressive blog promotion campaign may or may not loom on the horizon. Don’t miss this opportunity for self-aggrandizement; get started now. You know you want to.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

One thing I’ve learned since getting high-speed Internet service a few weeks ago is that I’m now able to waste vast amounts of time more efficiently and much faster than I could using a dial-up connection.

Another thing I learned is that making the switch from dial-up to cable isn’t comparable to, say, trading up from a 1947 Chevy to a Porsche 911 GT2, as I’d been led to believe; it’s more like trading up from a ’53 Chevy to an ’86 VW Scirrocco 16-valve, a car that falls far short of Porsche’s brute performance but which, nonetheless, is seriously capable of striking fear into the hearts of passengers when driven at or near its theoretical limits by a competent driver (and capable of striking even higher levels of fear into the hearts of passengers when driven by an incompetent one). But enough of this Internet access-as-car analogy.

20/20 hindsight once again brings into perfect focus the many downsides that always seem to accompany even the most benign of technological advances. For instance, YouTube videos never presented a problem before high-speed; at roughly 11 minutes of download time to gain one minute of play time, they simply weren’t worth the required time investment, and so I rarely engaged in watching them.

But now that video download times outpace playing times by a factor of three- or four-to-one, I can—and do—watch numerous videos every day. So, there’s no time-savings here. In fact, there’s a net time loss. Or should I say a ‘Net time loss?

Then, there are the many visits to the many Web sites I never frequented because they took too much time to load. Well, that’s not a problem now, either. For example, I gleefully spend hours on the Girl in Short-shorts blog because, since incorporating high-speed service into my game plan, the page—with its numerous delightful photos—loads in just under 20 seconds as opposed to . . . well, I don’t know, for sure; I never hung around longer than about ten minutes, which was scarcely enough time to download the photos to mid-page. But now, thanks to Comcast, that’s all in the ever-more-distant past.

Because the time required to access various other blogs and Web sites is now a fraction of what it formerly was, I access more various other blogs and Web sites more often—and spend more time on them—than ever before. But, I suppose, with high-speed Internet service, I can justify just about anything. What I can’t do is reconcile the advantages of a faster Internet connection with the lost productivity that came along with it.

If these “fer instances” prove anything, they prove that modern technology is not always a good thing, that technology, in solving one set of problems, quite often and unexpectedly delivers another.

And so, the bottom line is that nothing’s changed; things are the same way now as they’ve always been.

The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.