Saturday, January 17, 2015

Scary Things



It has occurred to me that there are things which you should fear because they might actually cause you harm (either physically OR emotionally).  

However, there are also things which other people tell you that you should be really, really afraid of and, well, you'll see. 

Things (my personal favorites) which inspire TERROR:
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Any envelope with the words 'Internal Revenue Service' written on it.
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A phone call received on the home phone after Midnight.
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Reaching over and opening the cabinet under the bathroom sink to grab that extra roll of Charmin and finding...  Nothing but air (BONUS:  The tissue box on the sink is empty).
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Waking up in the morning, looking at the outdoor thermometer finding that it's -12 degrees outside and wondering, "Did I let the dog in last night?"  (Of course I did, she's laying on the bed between me and my wife...  And the dog is snoring happily)
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Opening the online banking account and realizing that I didn't CANCEL the automated bill pay for the $0 balance Discover Card this week, leaving us $500 short for the next two weeks - now I have to charge stuff to get my money back.
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Pulling my underwear / sock drawer open on a Wednesday morning and finding lots of socks...  Luckily, the hamper is FULL of previously worn, slightly-damp clothing.
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There are more, I guess, but the thing is that we ALL have things that freak us out when we see, hear, or otherwise experience them firsthand.
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Yeah, like this.  
 

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Oddly enough, however, the things that we are TOLD to be afraid of to which we've become pretty much immune because the things which we are told are going to 'most certainly happen'...  Don't seem to come to pass.  
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Check out this selection of online article headlines that I've collected over the past TWO DAYS:

Yahoo News:  "Climate change, extinctions signal Earth in danger zone:  study"
 



Seth Borenstein:  "The heat is on; NOAA, NASA say 2014 warmest year on record"



NY Times:  "Ocean Life Faces Mass Extinction, Broad Study Says"


International Business Times:  "Two Orange Dwarf Stars to Reach the Solar System Might Wipe Out Human Race" 


 
This last article is my favorite, because the thought of 'Two Orange Dwarf Stars' reaching our solar system DOES sound exponentially 'scary'. 
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But when you open the article read the first two paragraphs which follow the ominous headline above, you find the following:
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  Some would say that the given time frame is truly a long stretch from today. However, the big threat that the phenomena might cause makes the study worth considering as it will have direct effect to future humanity.
European astrophysicist Coryn Bailer-Jones who works at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany is predicting that around 14 stars might come within the next few million years. The astrophysicist came to this prediction after analysing the computer-simulated orbits of more than 50,000 stars that are nearby. The prediction also says that among the thousands of neighboring stars, there at least two that humanity should worry about, Forbes reports. 

 
So, if you weren't worried about ANYTHING for the next 'few million years', well, now you have something completely 'plausible' to stay up and worry about - and for this, I wish you long life.

There are people who build careers by spreading fear, panic, discontent, and yes, even anger (think 'Al Sharpton').  They work in the private sector, for the government, they work for major newspapers, they work for organizations which skim for scary scientific headlines to expand upon their 'online readership' and sell 'space' to advertisers.  
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They are not actually in the business of Science, they are each in the business of Sales.  Their success is not gauged by 'how many lives they saved' or 'the number of lives they improved', but rather, by what their 'Click through rate' and 'Cost per thousand' advertising rate is. 
 
People clicking on these sensationalized headlines are putting money into the hosting site's bottom line financials while you, John Q. Public, are treated to yet another dose of 'Yup, you're gonna DIE'.
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After 55+ years of wandering around on this Earth, the only thing I know for sure is this:  
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Yes, I am going to die - but I will not die this day, for there is mischief to create, love to share, grins to make, and wonders yet to see.  
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And, if one day life should give you no clean underwear, there's always something damp to put on from the hamper... 
.And with this, I leave you.  I may, or may not, be back ever again for there are things in life which I can control, and yet others, like two dwarf stars slamming unexpectedly into our solar system, well, just do me a favor and pass me whatever Charmin you have left.


Live well.  Be happy.  And question EVERYTHING you read.  Even this.


Oh, and one more thing that scares me?  Clowns.
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I hate me some clowns.  

And most Politicians.  Because in the end, they are mostly the same.  



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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Barack Obama - Interstellar Peace Maker (A Dream I Had)

Dirk Benedict - tanned, rested, and ready for the challenge ahead
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December 23, 2014:  Stand by for Breaking News!
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The entire Earth today breathes a collective sigh of relief as United States' President Barack Obama announces that he has normalized relations with...
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The Cylon Empire!
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Using his pen and his (space) phone, the President of the United States has made the Solar System in which we all live - safe for all of humanity! 
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When asked why this unique intergalactic strategy was necessary at this point in human history, Presidential Spokesperson, Alfred Dimwitty said the following in today's press conference, "The President has solved ALL major issues which he cares deeply about on Earth and felt it was time to set his sights higher than his predecessors.  Barack Obama cares so much about US that he has proactively sent messages out to Cylon Ambassadors and he has outlined very specific conditions for Earth's unilateral surrender to the world-plundering, life-snuffing Cylon race of cybernetic organisms."
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Asked by one reporter if the spokesperson knew that Cylons were 'make-believe' villains of the science fiction series, "Battlestar Galactica", he responded, "Just because they were the 'bad guys' of a television series in the late 1970's AND the mid-2000's this does not make them any less real than you and I.  After all, how do we know that the series was a FICTIONAL scenario?  Those characters must have been based on something, and the President has chosen boldly to make peace with them BEFORE they attack our planet - we call it, "The Obama Interstellar Doctrine"."
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A man in overalls sitting in the front row of the briefing room raises his hand and asks "Yes, but, um, even if they are REAL - he's making peace by surrendering the Earth to them?"
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"Have you seen those monsters?  They're shiny, buff-polished metal beasties and they carry laser-blaster weapons things - how can you expect us to possibly fight them since the President spent the past six years quietly downsizing our Military and destroying NASA!?!?" Dimwitty begins to look a tense as small flecks of spittle fly from his quickly moving lips.  "For the love of God man, they have these Death Ship things which can blow the Earth clean out its orbit!!!"
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"Yeah, I watched the original show when I was in college, but, you know, they are not REAL beings - they originated in a place called H-O-L-L-Y-W-O-O-D," says the man in the overalls.  "The Cylons in the original series were uncredited 'extras' wearing shiny plastic armor, black vinyl pants, with that light thing that went back and forth on their visors like in the Knight Rider car in that not-so-great TV series with David Hasselhoff."
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"THEY ARE A MENACE TO OUR EARTH AND THE PRESIDENT HAS SOLVED THE PROBLEM BEFORE IT BECAME A CRISIS!" Dimwitty shouts as his hands clench spasmodically on the podium in front of him.  "THE PRESIDENT DID WHAT HE HAD TO DO TO SAVE US ALL!!!"

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"Huh, well, alrighty then...  Might you be forgetting something Alfred?  Something, excuse me, more specifically someone, equally important when it comes to threat-levels?" the man asks as he grins widely at Dimwitty.

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"AND WHAT, EXACTLY WOULD THAT BE!?!?" Dimwitty is screaming as he pushes his damp hair back from his forehead with one fidgeting hand.  "AND WHY ARE YOU SMILING AT ME!?!?!"

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"Well, I don't want to upset you any more than you already are, but, how does the President plan on handling the Borg threat?" he asks this as he sits back down in the front row, crosses his arms and waits for what must certainly come next...
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A Secret Service Agent standing at the left side of the stage walks to the podium where the spokesperson is now shaking violently and is supported solely by the wooden structure in front of him.  The agent pulls an iPhone out of his pocket and points to the device, instructing Dimwitty to look at the message which has just arrived.  Dimwitty straightens and says, "It's the President, and he has another announcement he wants me to make in exactly one hour - it's IMPORTANT."
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The man in the overalls pushes himself up from the chair, stretches, turns from the podium and walks toward the nearest exit door.  Seeing this, Dimwitty speaks loudly over the murmur which has erupted from the press reporters, "So where are YOU going - don't you want to be here for the next announcement?"
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"Nope.  Buddy, over the past six years I've seen and heard this all before.  Your boss makes up crises which do not exist, he ignores crises which do exist, he takes credit for whatever does (or does not) happen and then he moves on to the next 'crisis du jour' as he gazes thoughtfully into the camera / teleprompter reading some script that a lackie from Hollywood has written for him.  You guys have got this thing down to a science.  "Never let a crisis go to waste" isn't that what Rham Emanuel said?  And in January, 2015, you're gonna have your hands full of crises with the Republicans running the House and Senate - your boss is actually going have to show who's side he's on now that Harry Reid's no longer able to bury the 300+ House Bills in his desk drawers.  I have a feeling that a whole lot of stuff is going to pulled out of drawers over the next two years - and I'm pretty much okay with that," the man says as he tugs on the straps of his overalls, turns and begins to exit the room.
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"But, buth, what about the Borg?" Dimwitty asks.
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"Resistance is futile Alfred, don't you know that?  Buddy, you don't have to worry about the Borg, what you've got to worry about is the rest of the 'Collective', you know, the people you guys haven't listened to for almost six full years.  The worker bees are angry, the cops are angry, the people you've persecuted with the IRS, the veterans you've lied to with the VA, and guys like me who want nothing more to be left alone so we can raise our families with OUR values, not those of the folks at PETA, PLANNED PARENTHOOD, CAIR, AL SHARPTON's ACTION NETWORK, UNIONS, and any other 'Rules for Radicals' drones you plan on tossing in front of us.  We're done with you, we're taking our country back from you and your fleshy-headed mutant friends," the man's words echo across the room then the door slams shut behind him.
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Somewhere in a room above the briefing center, the next crisis arrives, caused by, expedited by, and mishandled by...

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Barack 'Locutus' Obama




      

Monday, December 8, 2014

Unintended Consequences (The "Oh. Rats!" Edition)


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"Let's Move!" But, um, like, where will we all go?
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Well, if I WERE personally going somewhere, I would NOT be going to the San Francisco, CA area - especially if I still had school-age kids.   Those people have been through so much, and now they're being over-run yet more unintended consequences of Michelle Obama's overhaul of school lunch programs nationwide.  
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"Say Hello to my little friend..."
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CBS News - San Francisco, CA, December 1, 2014:  Rats Part Of Growing Pains For Fresh Food Program At San Francisco Schools
.SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — San Francisco Unified School District serves more fresh food and a greater number of meals to their students since switching food providers last year, but the fresh-food program has led to some infrastructure challenges of its own including one problem with four legs and a very bad reputation for carrying disease: rats.
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Students have enjoyed healthier breakfasts and lunches prepared and cooked locally by East Bay food provider, Revolution Foods. However, the success of the program — and the increase in fresh food on site – is highlighting a lack of refrigerators at schools as well as excess food waste, which may be factors in the increased presence of rodents at schools.


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Students have enjoyed healthier breakfasts and lunches!




.SFUSD has purchased new refrigerators for about 20 school sites since this past summer, but there’s still the need for more.  [MoosNote:  So food cost is up, waste produced is up, AND they have to buy more refrigerators in schools to store the stuff no one wants to eat?  That's a Win/Win/Win!!!  Just not sure for who(m) these major school lunch improvements benefit - it doesn't appear to be the children.  Perhaps the nice folks at General Electric?]
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“We have enough equipment to meet our current needs. Where we would like to see more equipment is actually as we grow our own food program. We’re hoping to increase the number of students who are eating meals at schools. In order to be able to do that, we need to grow our infrastructure,” said school district spokeswoman Gentle Blythe.

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One of the challenges related to feeding students is rodents. A San Francisco Examiner review of health inspection data shows many rodent issues began in 2013, the same time more fresh food was introduced into schools as part of the food lunch reform popularized by First Lady Michelle Obama. The results of lunch reform are now being criticized by opponents using the hashtag #ThankYouMichelleObama.

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"San Francisco, YOU have a pest-control problem..."

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“We have an ongoing challenge with pest management as do all the restaurants in the city,” she said.

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Blythe said the program has been most successful during breakfast.

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"This is where school lunches end up, just like your husband's promises"

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“That’s really important for kids to not come and sit in class hungry and have to wait for lunch. Our lunches are being served with several options a day and all of those options exceed the federal requirements for student nutrition programs,” she said.

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So, well-meaning education-centric bureaucrats find that the kids don't WANT the food (even though it's literally being 'given away') and the answer is to not change the program to give the kids more nutritious AND palatable food, but instead, to buy more refrigerators to store the stuff (the kids don't eat) and increase the number of trash collection times per week to keep the rat population down to all the excess 'waste'?  
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How can you argue with this logic?
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In summary, a Federally-sponsored program pushed down to the states by the wife of a President, seems to be driving up costs, taking funds AWAY from educating the children, reducing the number of kids actually EAT at these schools, creating a 'contraband market' for unhealthy foods, AND increasing the amount of trash being collected at schools because students don't want an Arugula salad, an orange wedge and a single, naked turkey frank rolling around listlessly on a tray (without ketchup).
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Fortunately for us most, of the rodents who are eating better than they 'used to' cannot vote in the 2016 elections.  CLARIFICATION:  They cannot vote outside of NY, NJ, IL, CA, and WI currently.  But keep a happy thought, as I'm sure there's another Executive Order coming shortly to grant them citizenship soon enough.  
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Get ready to swallow hard because when the Rats are running the show, you know, it's all about taking care of the other rats - regardless of species...




 
 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The ACA's Diminishing Return(ees)

"Any resemblance to Satan is purely coincidental and is not necessarily indicative of your expected health care experience"
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Yes, men, women, boys and girls, this upcoming Saturday, we'll have the rare opportunity to dip our collective toes into the ObamaCare 'Marketplace' once again!!!  And, if you know what's good for you, you'd better get BUSY doing it...  
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Just don't do it all at once and break the website again - got it?
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Monday, November 10, 2014, WashingtonTimes.com:  Obamacare may not have enough enrollees to stay solvent  - Fewer than 10 million projected; 13 million needed to stay solvent
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The administration on Monday said fewer than 10 million Americans will enroll in Obamacare’s health exchanges this go-around, well short of the 13 million target congressional scorekeepers deemed critical to its economics, suggesting another rocky rollout in the law’s second year of full operation.

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.Policy advisers at the Health & Human Services Department estimated that 9 million to 9.9 million people would enroll through the exchanges — or only a slight increase over the 8 million that the administration says were active at the end of the first enrollment period this April. The Congressional Budget Office, which is the government’s official scorekeeper, had predicted the law would need 13 million customers on the exchanges.
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...
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The number of enrollees is key, because if too few take part in the exchanges, the pool of customers is too small, and it could skew the economics of Obamacare, forcing insurers to raise premiums and pushing even more people to forgo coverage, choosing to pay the tax penalty instead.
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.The second round of enrollment begins Saturday and ends Feb. 15, 2015. The administration has been reluctant to set a goal for itself this time.
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As quoted above,
"The Congressional Budget Office, which is the government’s official scorekeeper, had predicted the law would need 13 million customers on the exchanges."  Um, okay, I'll ask the logical question, "So if the plan is short by 3+ MILLION subscribers, what does this mean to the subscribers who ARE participating in ObamaCare?"  
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A couple of things might happen:
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  1. Premiums can be increased to raise the revenue necessary to manage the program  with its lowered participation rates
  2. Deductibles can be increased to raise the required revenue to keep the plan solvent
  3. More people will be forced into the program when Obama Administration-hosted exemptions expire at the end of 2014
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Add to this the article on Fiscal Times I saw the other day that 53% of currently enrolled subscribers (or, roughly 4.6 MILLION current subscribers) do not plan to re-enroll because it already costs too much...  
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Where are all the replacement subscribers going to be coming from?  [Note to self:  Check to see how many illegal aliens (oops, sorry, 'undocumented workers') who are currently in the U.S. and then let's watch the President very closely over the next 90 days].  
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If the 2015 enrollment numbers are going to be as bad as are forecast, I'm thinking the train illustration above is nicely positioned to illustrate the ObamaCare 2015 roll-out.  
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Luckily for US, the smiling man driving the Affordable Care enrollment train is Jolly Old St. Barack himself - and he'll do whatever he can do between now and January to make it FREE for everyone (provided that they are here illegally). 
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The question facing the incoming freshmen in the House and Senate is this,  "Will you be better than those your replaced in limiting / repealing the pain inflicted on America by the ACA?"  Please feel free to answer in the affirmative, or make plans to leave Washington now to avoid the 2016 rush out of DC.  
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Thank you.