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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Let's eat, and eat, and eat...

As anyone with eyes can tell when walking around a mall or shopping center - America is populated by overweight people. Actually, we are an obese people. Now, I know there are those of you that work at it and actually are NOT fat. I know there are young people that are still obese-in-training. But, look around - we are a LARGE group of people. Although I have lost substantial weight over the past two years or so, it is a constant battle to keep all or even most of it off. I was mulling this over lately; and yesterday while we were strolling through an immense shrine to consumerism (Opry Mills mall), I had some thoughts as I was viewing the people strolling with us. First, no respectable mall is complete without a huge temple to caloric intake - the food court. This mall is no different, there is a huge space of tables and chairs flanked on one entire wall by a veritable cornucopia of gustatory delights (and not so delightful - who thinks of some of this stuff! - but that is another post) So, as we are paying homage to the gods of retail, we must stock up on calories. Heaven forbid that we should have to walk, look, and spend money for over an hour and not be able to buy bad Chinese-like food on a styrofoam plate! We shop, we eat. Food and eating LOTS of it has also ingrained itself into all parts of our social lives. What is a safe and acceptable first date? How about dinner (and maybe a movie - but that is not for this discussion either)? Maybe meet for lunch or a snack at the aforementioned food court? Casual encounter? - how about over coffee - which in the U.S. usually means coffee flavored sugar and cream with a muffin the size of a truck tire. Families are given food when another family member is sick or dies. After a funeral people gather and eat. Get married? - lets eat. Get engaged - bring out the cake. Promotion? - how about a dinner. Retire? - goodbye meal. Family gathering or reunion - the food preparations for this can take years of man (or woman) hours of planning a execution. Speaking of execution - scheduled for one later today - what would you like to eat? The last meal has taken the place of final words in most cases. In our family's case, for the meeting I was referring to in yesterday's post - I let my sister know we would be able to get together and one of the first things she offered up was a suggestion for a restaurant. The first night we were eating dinner and my mother, BEFORE we got our food was talking to me about lunch the next day. (I am not picking on you two, I just needed examples. Plus, you are fun to pick on ;)) When we are together we are usually planning meals, even if we are eating a meal at the time (gotta be prepared, we don't want to miss feeding time!) If we as a people were NOT huge, when you consider our food obsessed culture, it would be a miracle. Well, I gotta go - time to eat!!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A mind is a terrible thing - or mine is anyway...

My wife and I are on a bit of a road trip. We travelled to Nashville, Tennessee yesterday to meet with family members. The trip consists of about six hours of actual drive time and then you add in the stops for various and sundry things. That gave me over seven hours of time to let my mind wander. My mind wandering is kind of like a three year old at the mall - flitting here and there and no knowing where he is going next. One of the things I was thinking about was writing a post about the trip, so I traversed hither and yon with different comments based on the journey and travel in general. You will have to trust me when I tell you some of it was GREAT - because I don't remember any of the details of it. We had our usual bathroom trials and tribulations, but I have done that. If you are not aware of what I am talking about -see this: http://justsomeposts.blogspot.com/2009/03/to-pee-or-not-to-pee-with-apologies-to.html People have, and do, think I am weird (correctly so, in most cases - but I digress). I sometimes make myself laugh with the thoughts I have. My mind goes off on tangents sometimes that amaze me. I can laugh because it is not a conscious thing I do. I have a part of my mind that is always working on a punch line. Thankfully, I do not verbalize a lot of the thoughts, because I would have been shot, jailed, or otherwise penalized many, MANY times in my life. This part of my brain is like the guy in school that always had a comment, out loud or under his breath, about every thing (which, thinking about it, was ME). Those particular synapses are firing off wise-crack after wise-crack to the other more civil part of my brain - constantly. One example of this (and one where I laughed out loud at the thought) was yesterday after about three or four hours of driving. I looked out and saw a van with markings on it for a "fenceless animal containment" service. Otherwise, one of those "invisible fence" things. The wise-acre in my mind started working on it. I won't bore you with the ten minutes of one liners; I just want to give you a small glimpse at the one that came out on top. How about a new "fenceless animal enclosure" that also helps the economy and can clean up the street a bit? You buy this system and you get four homeless guys with cattle prods! Have a big yard or a lot of animals, we have the deluxe system - add a former bank manager and a few out of work auto workers to the four homeless guys - give them all cattle prods and BINGO - coverage for the largest jobs. Your pet or livestock is secure, formerly unemployed types are productive, and no messy digging. Someday I know I will probably be on medication for this. Oh well...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sorry, you're not real

This will be short and sweet. I am amazed by the coverage of the detractors of the Obama/Government healthcare plan; both the hundreds and thousands of people that are showing up to the "town hall" meetings and the thousands and millions that are writing and calling their representatives in Congress. Two hundred or more people show up at a town hall meeting and vociferously protest the plan or ask for details and they are villified and ignored! The democrat response? "They don't represent America." "This is not a true representation of the true feelings of the American people." Wow... PETA,Greenpeace, or some other anti-conventional way of life organization can show up somewhere with six or seven protesters and they are covered as the lead story on the nightly newscasts! The leaders of these groups are interviewed and quoted as if theirs is the only voice and opinion that exists! I have NEVER heard any politician or newsperson state or even question if these groups are or are not a "true representation of how Americans feel." At this point I don't care how you feel about any of the issues. Write, call, or show up at a town hall meeting. Let our elected governement "representatives" and their sycophants in the media know how you feel. Let them know you are awake. They are NOT free to do whatever they want because you ARE paying attention. They are scared as hell. POWER TO THE PEOPLE!!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Check please!

This is one that has been brewing in me for a while. You can hardly hear a discussion or debate about taxes nowadays without hearing someone talking about taxing the rich. Our problems would be over if we could just get those rich people to pay their taxes - right? I have done some research on who does and does not pay taxes in the U.S. Here are the results: I just saw this headline relating to 2007: Top 1% of income earners pay 40.4% of taxes. You got that? For the tax year of 2007 - the top 1% of taxpayers paid over 40% of the total income taxes. FYI - that is more than the lower 95% paid! 1% of the population paid more than 95% of the population. (the other roughly 20% of taxes were paid by the 4% from 95% - 99%. Now, these folks did earn over 22% of the income. (they are the highest 1% after all) But, even making 22.8% of the income, you wouldn't think would require them to pay over 40% of the taxes, would you? (another tidbit - to reach this top 1% level, you have to be a Warren Buffett or Bill Gates - right? Not really, the average income for the top 1% was $410,000 - a lot of money, but not millions) Now for some years that I have detailed figures for: (if you are still there) In 2005 top 1% - made 16.6% of the income - paid 33.7% of the taxes top 5% - made 31% of the income - paid 54.1% of the taxes top 10% - made 42.1% of the income - paid 65.8% of the taxes top 25% - made 64.7% of the income - paid 83.6% of the taxes top 50% - made 86.1% of the income - paid 96.4% of the taxes bottom 50% - made 13.9% of the income - paid 3.6% of the taxes Now, there are a lot of wealth distribution questions that can be raised by those figures, but that is not the point of this post. (in a true capatalistic market - it should not be the point of any discussion, but I digress) Another discussion that is made is how the Bush tax cuts gave breaks to the wealthy. These figures for 1995 (Clinton era - pre Bush) may surprise you: top 1% - made 14.6% of the income - paid 30.3% of the taxes top 5% - made 28.3% of the income - paid 48.9% of the taxes top 10% - made 40.8% of the income - paid 60.8% of the taxes top 25% - made 64.4% of the income - paid 80.4% of the taxes top 50% - made 85.5% of the income - paid 95.4% of the taxes bottom 50% - made 14.5% of the income - paid 4.6% of the taxes Oddly similar, huh? But this was BEFORE the rich got their tax cuts - how could that be? If any of you are still there - I may be the only one that finds this stuff interesting - here's more: I have heard the argument = "that is just income taxes, the rich don't pay income taxes; they get tax breaks" Here are figures for ALL taxes (sales, SS, captial gains, etc): top 1% - pay 28% of ALL taxes top 25% - pay 69% of ALL taxes (sorry, I did not write a year, but looking above it wouldn't have changed much anyway) Now, back to the tax cuts for the rich that let them off the hook - In 1980 the top tax rate was 70%. The top 5% of income earners paid 37% of taxes. compare that to the 2005 numbers where the tax rate was less than half of that! Regan cut the top rate to 28% in the 80s. Tax revenues WENT UP!! In 1981 the total income taxes collected were $517 billion (top rate 70%). In 1990, with the top tax rate at 28%, the taxes collected were $1.03 trillion. Almost a double tax revenue with over a 50% tax CUT. Lowering taxes increases revenue - every time it has been done, that has been the results. Raising taxes ultimately LOWERS revenue. That is why you should be VERY afraid of all the tax increases that are being discussed at the national and state levels. Now some final thoughts for you to remember - 1) the rich DO pay their share of taxes, and then some 2) corporations and business do NOT pay taxes - their customers and employees do 3) there is NO government money - just borrowed money or your tax dollars 4) borrowing your way to prosperity is not possible - neither is taxing your way there Discussions? fyi - except for the 2007 figures which are from a news story,the tax numbers are from the IRS website - you have to dig around a LOT - but they are there

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Even More Headlines

More wacky headlines. You can't convince me that journalism school is not worth it! Teenage girls often have babies fathered by men Hey, in movies sometimes they are fathered by aliens. Sex Education Delayed, Teachers Request Training with lots of homework, I would guess. Lung Cancer in Women Mushrooms this discovery only became possible after we found a guy that can determine the gender of mushrooms. Include Your Children when Baking Cookies chocolate chips and raisins are soooo overrated. Infertility unlikely to be passed on maybe the first headline isn't so dumb afterall. Work after Death there are some TOUGH bosses out there - no time off for death, you slacker! Child's death ruins couple's holiday hopefully it didn't rain too. Milk drinkers are turning to powder I think I've seen this movie. Court Rules Boxer Shorts Are Indeed Underwear I'm waiting for the ruling on the thong. Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors I got basketball team lines, low doorway stuff, can't decide. Lack of brains hinders research maybe they should consider journalism? Two convicts evade noose, jury hung a swing and a miss. Safety Experts Say School Bus Passengers Should Be Belted I have been on a bus with a few of these. Man Run Over by Freight Train Dies I hope he doesn't think this will allow him to miss work! Smokers are productive, but death cuts efficiency hummm, maybe they will have to re-evaluate that work after death policy? Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant then send him to work. Here's How You Can Lick A Doberman's Leg Sores film at 11. More later.