Friday, July 31, 2009

This project has been in the works since 2001

Permission to deepen the Delaware River denied:

I have no opinion of the desirability or otherwise of deepening the Delaware. Apparently the Army Corps of Engineers wanted to deepen it. I merely observe that it took the authorities eight years to decide what to do--for now.

I'd hate to have to stand on one foot while the government considered whether or not to permit me to have life-saving surgery.

Stupid politicians

Bill Maher thinks Americans are stupid. That's because they like Sarah Palin. Anyone who likes Sarah Palin is stupid, ipso facto.

Liberals like to consider some Republicans as stupid, and they remain stupid until they die, after which they are lauded as Great American Leaders. The list of stupid Republicans is a long and honorable one. Top honors should go to Ronald Reagan, who fell asleep during cabinet meetings--who wouldn't? Dwight D Eisenhower makes the list too, despite having won the war in Europe during World War II. I mean, the man couldn't even talk straight.

But leading the stupid parade is Dan Quayle, whose offense is that he misspelled the word "potato." Our current president believes there are 57 states and that Austrian is a language, but he isn't stupid. He believes that pediatricians take out children's tonsils for money, and that you can borrow your way out of debt, but don't forget, he went to Harvard, along with other egregious a**holes like Jamie Gorelick and Al Gore. No-one can be stupid and go to Harvard. It simply isn't done, my dear. You can go to Yale and still be stupid (George H W Bush, Phi Beta Kappa and and George W Bush, C student). That's still okay, for now.

All the markers of stupidity are there in Sarah for all the world to see: the University of Idaho, the hick accent, having five children, eating mooseburgers. I could go on and on, but you get the picture. The libs have pasted a sign on her, and it is sticking. She is now exhibit A of the Stupid yet Strangely Effective Republican Fiend Party, replacing the sinister Dick Cheney and the evil Karl Rove in their affections.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Girl, 25, tries 70 jobs...



SHE’S tried 70 jobs but can’t find work that interests her. Simone Francis, 25, of Marrickville, is typical of a generation that jumps from job to job - to the frustration of employers across the country…

“Why bother doing a job you hate? Why does anyone bother doing anything they don’t want to do?’’ she said....


Ms Francis has ..formed a group called Nomadic Hands to raise awareness of human rights and animal welfare overseas. And, until her hobby leads to full-time work, she remains on the dole.

What she ought to do is write a book about how to get jobs. Seems she's a whiz at finding and getting employment. Staying employed, well, that's another matter.

Well, nobody's perfect.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Working for local government

Do you know how much guff you take if you work for local government?

If Louis Henry Gates, fabled Harvard Professor, had just spoken politely to the policeman, possibly nothing would have happened. Profound apologies might have issued from both sides.

Contrary to what you might think, speaking arrogantly to a (probably underpaid) civil servant maybe isn't the best way to handle a problem.

As a library director, I had to deal frequently with an irate member of the public. In some cases their ire was quite justified, because the library staff had dropped him on his head several times before he got to me. Often, nothing of the sort had occurred. I always heard the person out, politely, apologized for the inconvenience, and said I would look into the situation, after getting the staffer's side of the story. Usually, the complainant would simmer down and be quite reasonable. He just wanted his complaint to be heard and understood.

But I've got to tell you, some statements did not make me want to rush into action. Here are some: "Who is your supervisor?" "I'm a taxpayer!" "I'm a personal friend of the mayor!" "I'll see that you lose your job!" and the ever popular "Do you know who I am?"

Yeah, I know who you are--you're a puffed up, self-important pain in the neck.

We once had a bunch of rowdy teenagers who frequented the Nice Little Library. When they got too rowdy we asked them to leave and not come back for the rest of the day. My colleague Michael was escorting one of these kids to the door when the young man turned to him and protested, "I'm a taxpayer!"

"This is July," Michael answered. "We ran out of your taxes in April."

I always said the public library was a nice place to work. All the books you wanted, the latest periodicals, and generally nice staffers. The biggest problem? The public. For some people, the air in the library made them crazy. Maybe it was the book dust.

I have to add that most of our customers were pussycats who loved the library and appreciated everything we did for them, including being there.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Look what I found!

A 3d model of the Kremlin!

It makes me want to visit there.

Young man seated near window, Martinique, 1972 Photograph: André Kertész/Stephen Bulger gallery

Young man seated near window, Martinique, 1972
Photograph: André Kertész/Stephen Bulger gallery

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Charcoal sketch

 
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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mandatory Dignity Enhancement Program

Tucked into the healthcare bill no-one could read:

[W]e should be very troubled by Section 1233 of H.R. 3200. The section, titled “Advanced Care Planning Consultation” requires senior citizens to meet at least every 5 years with a doctor or nurse practitioner to discuss dying with dignity.

Here's how the program will work. We will gather the elderly (sick, and probably useless) patient and his loved ones together in a large and pleasant room. If you don't have any loved ones, one of each gender will be provided by the government. If a larger group of loved ones is desired, the patient must arrange their attendance and pay them at prevailing union rates.

Soft music will be played in the style of your choice: soft rock, pop, classical, violin sonatas, or country and Western. A clergyperson, professional editorial writer, or professor is optional and may make a short statement.

After painlessly dispatching you, we will wrap your body in a biodegradable shroud made of recycled bottles and bury you beneath a field on which corn for ethanol is grown. In this manner, you will be making a contribution to Mother Gaia instead of just uselessly continuing to exhale carbon dioxide.

And may God have mercy on your soul, if you're foolish enough to believe She exists.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Is blogging over?

Is blogging so--2008? So vieux jeu? I notice that a number of my blogging friends have closed up shop. Gone out of business. Folded up their tents and stolen away.

In general they were people who hadn't run out things to say. I know some writers keep on writing long after they have ceased to be funny or even interesting; Russell Baker comes to mind. A genuinely witty writer, he just kept on and on, getting less interesting by the minute. Art Buchwald was another. A contemporary example is Maureen Dowd, whose cleverness ceased to be amusing before the beginning of the second Bush administration.

That may be what has happened to me. My family, on the whole a far from entertaining bunch, provided some entertainment nevertheless. I think I may have run out of amusing anecdotes about them. I've been racking my brain, trying to come up with something amusing. If I do, I'll let you know.

I also looked at my statistics. While I started out with about 8 readers, undoubtedly people who had encountered my blog by mistake, I gradually worked my way up to 100. Now they are down to 35. I notice also that I am spending a lot of time grumbling about politics, a sour enough subject. Obama has stopped being funny and started being alarming. His daily sermonettes are beginning to wear on me. And the United States Congress are just plain scary. If this is what the people in power are like, what on earth can we expect from ordinary citizens?

Our educational system, from pre-K to Phd, has stopped educating people and started to bolster their self-esteem. But so what? Everybody knows that already. Pretty soon only monks in cloisters will preserve the remnants of knowledge for future generations. If there are any monks left, after we have apologized our way into becoming an islamic republic.

So, what do you think? Should I keep it up, or close up shop?

Friday, July 17, 2009

One American for leaving health care alone

Somebody said: "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others."

I more or less agree with them, only I would say American health care is the worst in the world, except for all the others. Yes, it's expensive, but it's not necessarily the doctors and other health professionals who are making the money.

There are lots of reasons health care is so expensive, some of them reasonable, others not. There is the cost to the pharmaceutical industry of developing new drugs, a cost which is not incurred in other countries because they subsidize the cost of drugs to their citizens. There are expensive tests, some of them unnecessary. Trial lawyers. Cowardly insurance agencies who are hand in hand with the trial lawyers.

A young friend of mine is an obstetrician. She delivers babies. She works long hours and must be on call regularly in the evening, on weekends, and on holidays. After she pays for her share of support staff, taxes on her office, and $160,000 in malpractice insurance, she earns about as much as she would in a part-time job at Target.

It's the guys like John Edwards (he of the two Americas, who owns the biggest house in South Carolina) who get a large portion of the money. Lawsuits by lawyers like him suck up everything. If there were no malpractice insurance these piranhas would have to go to work at honest jobs. But the trial lawyers are good buddies with the Democrats, so nothing is going to be done about them by the current administration.

No-one will discuss this topic without prefacing it with a shamefaced admission that health care needs reform. The most uncaring capitalist who grinds the faces of the poor and keeps his cash in overseas accounts has to take the oath that health care must be reformed.

I say bosh. I say piffle. I am constituting myself as a party of one person who does not believe that health care needs to be reformed. And yes, I don't believe in climate change. I hate endangered species and don't believe carbon dioxide is poisonous. Or that animals have rights.

Furthermore, I believe our country is the greatest one that ever existed. Second is Great Britain, from which we derived our system. The rest of the pack are far behind.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My annuals

 



With a rosebush in the background: I have a very small annual garden.
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My topsy turvy tomato plant

 
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I have four tomatoes so far==that's $5 per tomato.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Drawing with colored pencils

 


Somehow I'm not quite satisfied with this. It could be better.
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Good Will

My favorite shopping venue is a certain Good Will shop in Pennsylvania. The prices are amazingly reasonable. A perfectly good, brand new pair of men's shorts, with the tags from a department store still attached, is $3.50. A man's T-shirt is $3.00 if it is plain, $3.50 if something--like FCUK, Go Phillies, or War Is Not the Answer--is printed on it. I prefer the plain anyway.

All the customers are cheerful and friendly. They are elated to find a pair of ladies' shoes which will go perfectly with their sister's new cocktail dress even though they are not quite her size. Anyway, for the price, the customer is sure she can find someone among her acquaintance who can use them.

Need a coffeepot? Or a perfectly good, playable television, just one of the old, bulky kind? They have dozens. Whole sets of dishes. Every gadget you can name. Lots of Christmas decorations. Candles and candlesticks, particularly the fancy ones in special shapes, such as Halloween Jack-o-Lanterns and the scented ones that make me cough.

They have tons of afghans, some nice, some in putrid colors, but all lovingly and beautifully crocheted. Silver-plated serving pieces that someone no longer wanted to polish. Framed photographs of ancestors nobody remembers. Pictures, some in nice frames, some unframed, and empty frames. Books, mostly recent bestsellers, DVDs, and CDs.

The atmosphere last Monday was positively festive. One lady had some nice children's clothes. Someone else had found a crystal vase for $2.00. A third had a brand new tuxedo priced at $25, which might or might not fit her husband.

I conclude that Americans, me included, like to buy things. At the Good Will there is plenty to buy, and almost anyone who eats regularly can afford it. This is a land so overflowing with goods and money that people can give away brand new appliances, clothing, and pots and pans without blinking an eye. In the words of Bill Ayers: What a country!

Why is health care a problem?

Every politician, of no matter what stripe, regularly attends the Church of Health Care is a Problem which Must Be Solved in our Society, as regularly as they all used to attend the local Presbyterian church. One must pay lip service to The Need for Americans to Have Health Care, or be declared unfeeling--one who does not care about the least among us--a man, or woman, who regularly gouges out the eyes of newborn puppies for fun.

I know nothing about the ins and outs of health care, but Mr Charm and I have recently consumed more health care than we would have chosen to. Why does it cost so much money?

Let me give some anecdotal evidence. Mr Charm, while in a rehab getting in-patient therapy, had to have an MRI. I thought I would drive him down the street, approximately one mile away, to a perfectly good MRI facility. The rehab would not agree to this. He had to go by ambulance to a hospital 20 miles away. And I had to pay $175 for the privilege.

On another occasion, we wanted him to be seen by a specialist. This time, since he had a referral, Medicare would pay. He got dressed and got into a wheelchair. Since it was a nice day, we went to the entrance of the building to wait. When the ambulance came, however, the attendants refused to transport him because he was sitting up in a wheelchair. They would not be reimbursed, according to the paramedic, unless he were transferred directly from his bed to a stretcher. So they went away, and another ambulance service was called, and Mr C got back in bed. In due course, Ambulance B arrived and transported him.

All this, according to the nursing staff in the rehab, was dictated by Medicare. They might have been right or wrong. The rules are so many and so contradictory that no-one knows. All I know for certain is that I could have helped into and out of my car and he would have been no worse off.

Another point: whenever I went to have a procedure done at Valley Hospital in New Jersey, I was made to sign a statement that I had been informed that I could have the procedure even if I could not afford to pay for it. I took this to mean that the State of New Jersey, or the federal government, or at least somebody other than I would pay for it if I couldn't. Otherwise, why have me sign the thing? Oh yes, I forgot: If you go to the emergency room, at least in New Jersey, they have to treat you.

To me, it looks like all bases are covered. Am I missing something here?

Oh and by the way, dental care is not covered. So if you get a toothache, you're on your own. Unless your jaw gets infected, and then you can go to the emergency room, but only if you are transported in an ambulance, in a stretcher, lying down.

But when the government takes this over....

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Scanner is working

 
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as you can see.

I finally got someone from Canon on the phone--a miracle! He told me to try this and that, and I did, but nothing worked, until one of us thought of plugging the USB cable into the back of the computer instead of the front. Problem solved.

Of course, the manual said nothing about plugging in USB cables. It is my belief that Canon has left this kind of printing behind, in favor of wireless printing. Which is all very well, except my network, although installed, is mysteriously not accessible. It's there, the computer detects its presence, but nobody and nothing can be connected to it.

That's not to say Verizon hasn't tried. First Ed came by and couldn't fix it. Next it was Hughie. Hughie fiddled with it for hours, and finally just plugged the phone cord into a phone jack that happened to be in the wall. So the Internet works, but the network doesn't. (Mr Charm's computer has the router.)

I can't explain why technology which works in New Jersey does not work in Delaware, and I don't try.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Unsuitable for the Royal Enclosure



From the Telegraph.


There's lots of other Ascot photos, too.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Technology troubles

My old printer would not scan any more, although it would print or copy, and that works by scanning, does it not? Since I like scanning old photographs into my computer, I wanted to fix it. But several live chats with the manufacturer, HP, did not result in its restoration to health. It would print. It would copy. No scanning.

So I bought a new one. I was mad at HP, so I bought a Canon. I'm cheap, so I bought an older model, which was not wireless. But our wireless network does not work anyway. (Remind me to tell you all about it. No, forget it.)

The new printer/scanner/copier does not recognize the software on the CD which came with it. I can't even get hold of Canon to complain.

In further technology news, my Dell computer--one year old--stops producing sound every once in a while. It's not the speakers, they work. So I searched Google until I found a fix, which was to restore the computer to an earlier date. This worked. Every now and then, the sound goes away, and I restore it, and the sound comes back. What kind of mishugas is that?

I'm so glad they don't make cars this way. The only thing I understand about my car is that it takes gasoline. Yet it was fully operational when I drove it off the lot.

Medical visit

Mr Charm had to go to a new doctor today. We waited six months to get an appointment with him. He's an eminent physician, with both a PhD and an MD framed on his wall, and the ultimate fashion accessory: a medical student (or intern?)at his heels like a puppy, nodding her head respectfully when the Great Man spoke.

He was actually quite impressive and thorough. I won't get into what he said, or what the problem was, that's someone else's personal business. We wanted another opinion, and we were satisfied that we had gotten one, and that our concerns were taken seriously.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Notable celebrity dies


I am referring to Billy Mays. Of all the notables who kicked the bucket last week, he is my favorite.

I didn't know who he was---I figured he was some washed-up sports figure. But I bought many of the gadgets he was hawking: the superglue, the kitchen gadgets, the Oxyclean, all of them $19.95--make that Only $19.95.

It won't be the same without him.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Sign this petition

Let's not let them get their hands on health care.

Look what they have done to Medicaid.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Happy Independence Day

 
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Squalid

The seamy side of the New Haven firefighter controversy.

It shows how a combination of vote-hungry politicians and local political agitators -- you might call them community organizers -- worked with the approval of elite legal professionals like Judge Sotomayor to employ racial quotas and preferences in defiance of the words of the Civil Rights Act.

One of the chief actors was the Rev. Boise Kimber, a supporter of Mayor John DeStefano....

After the results of the promotion test were announced, showing that 19 white and one Hispanic firefighter qualified for promotion, Kimber called the mayor's chief administrative officer opposing certification of the test results.

The record shows that DeStefano and his appointees went to work, holding secret meetings and concealing their motives, to get the Civil Service Board to decertify the test results. Kimber appeared at a board meeting and made "a loud, minutes-long outburst" and had to be ruled out of order three times.


This does not surprise me. Local politicians are one of the lowest forms of life, a few steps down the evolutionary scale from pond scum. But they know which side of their bread is buttered.

I was also the victim of a racial shakedown, when I paid for the sins in my past lives by directing the ^(^%())#$ library. A young man I will call Sammy who worked for me got upset about something, and went calling on all the Board members to plead his case. He happened to do this on Easter Sunday, and one of the Board members insisted he be fired. (The young man was of East Asian extraction, and didn't realize that Easter wasn't the right time to call.)

We went through the tedious work of getting rid of him required by Civil Service. Meanwhile, he started showing up at Board meetings, accompanied by his whole family; he complained to the local Civil Rights Commission, giving it something to do for the first time in its existence; he threatened to sue, and the Board lawyered up.

The town did not even try to fight it. The town manager told me they did not have insurance covering this kind of thing, so they had no choice but to pay him; they even hired a lawyer for him and paid the lawyer. They gave him everything he asked for--including the right to come back to work in the library. But I put my foot down and wouldn't have him back, and I won this point.

I call it blackmail.

There is a sequel to this story: I noticed someone stuck at the side of the road with a flat tire and slowed down, intending to call for help on my cell phone. The driver looked up---it was Sammy. I drove on.

Thanks to Instapundit for the link.