Thursday, July 28, 2011

"How Brown Was My Latrine?" (a.k.a.: Summer Camp 2011)

Okay, it's been a couple of weeks.  I can go there now.  I wasn't exactly sure how to get started, but starting is easy once fingers begin moving on the keyboard, the mouth begins mouthing the words I type, and the dehumidifier in the my downstairs 'Rec' room begins to drone on relentlessly. 

Grab my hand, we're going into the woods...

Summer Camp 2011 
July 3rd through July 8th

We took part in the annual pilgrimage to 'Summer Camp' a few weeks ago.  The weather was 'close' to perfect, highs during the day of mid-80's and in the evening it dropped into the high 50's.  Sleeping on the rickety cot and mattress in the WWII-era Boy Scout tent was better than sleeping in my own bed at home.  

I had a tent all to myself (due to an potentially-explosive 'methane' issue).  No, actually I was the 'acting' adult leader for this year's trip and we had an even-number of boys.  They got to bunk with each other - as for me, it was just me, all alone in my own tent.  It was nothing short of wonderful.  On paper, I'm the Assistant Scout Master - in real life, I'm Mike Kane, with my youngest son, Tim, in Boy Scout Troop 244. 

Our 'actual' Scout Master is the Ranger at Camp Tuscarora (you can call it Tuskie if you like - it's a lot easier to type or say, in a sentence).  'Ranger Mike' (not me, the OTHER Mike) pretty much runs full throttle from 5:30am in the morning till 11:00pm in the evening seven days a week for six weeks each summer.  Once summer camp is over he checks himself into a Camp Ranger De-Stress clinic for the 'serially sleep-deprived'.  I would imagine that 46 weeks out of the year, Tuskie is a great place to wake up in.

These six weeks of Summer Camp, though, let's just say, 'They'd kill a lesser man...'

I brought my digital camera with me to camp again this year.  The following photos took place over six days - you'll probably get through them in less than half this amount of time.  As for myself, I don't need the photos 'cause I was there.  My memory isn't as good as it used to be, but probably better than it will be in another ten years, but good memories have a way of 'sticking'.  Unfortunately, well, the bad ones, they get 'stuck' too. 

This post isn't about the 'baddies'.  It's about the 'goodies'. 

Let's get gettin' while the gettin's good...
Home Sweet Home for the Week July 3rd - July 8th, 2011
(Please take time to note the MAJOR Award underneath the
Chippawa sign - more on this in a second)
The Boy Scout Troop has been setting up at 'Summer Unit 3' (Chippawa Site) since before we moved into the area, and probably way before my kids were born.  It's quite possibly the nicest camp site in the facility.  It's got trees, it's got sun, it's got shade, it's got spiders, crickets, garter snakes AND a latrine. 

Seriously, what else could you ask for?  (Anyone who asks, "A TV?" is not capturing the 'Scouting Spirit' and will be struck in the face with a cream pie.  (They call this 'foreshadowing'...)) 

Ah, behold, the mighty 'Tuscarora Site Inspection' award!  Troop 244 DECIMATED the competition (two other Troops) by winning this MAJOR AWARD four of the five days it was given.  On the fifth day, it was awarded jointly to the other two troops we competed against because, apparently, no one has ever won it five days in a row.

How do you GET this prestigious award?  You need a clean campsite, a non-stinky latrine (more later), assigned chores for scouts, a well-maintained fire pit, no bears in your tents, a Dad (me) to trim the lawn via industrial Weed-Eater (louder than a jet engine) and lastly, a 'site improvement' project.  (Think 'brown' - don't rush me, I'll get there...)
"Doo, Doo, Doo, Lookin' Out My Tent Flap"
On Monday afternoon I rested after a fun-filled morning of mowing, trimming, and edging the campsite.  In the picture above, but not really visible you'll find a lawn mower and the Weed Eater from the US Weed Eating Olympic Team. 

Can't see 'em?  They're there, trust me.  Okay, how about now?

Oh yeah, I got site-clearing skills...  Of course, after snapping the above photo I fell asleep for  almost two hours.  In my head, however, the 'metallic-mosquito-from-Hades' noise of that dang Weed Eater continues to this day.

Home away from home, July 2011...

Behold the Fire Pit!
The fire pit is pretty much Ground Zero at the campsite.  There are EXTRAORDINARILY uncomfortable benches (with 'BONUS splinters!') surrounding half of of it, the other half is where people who planned ahead of time had folding chairs set up (I was one of 'them').  I lay my weary body down on the bench for a moment in order to get a photo of things much greater than myself.

This, is that photo...

I really like this picture.  I don't know if it's because it was a beautiful day, or if it just 'put things in perspective' for me.  In any event, this is what I saw as I lay down upon the 2" x 6" plank next to the fire pit.

When we arrived at camp on Sunday, we signed up for the 'now-near-legendary' Bear Cave Hike.  In the photo above, we see Scouts walking away from me as I take another photo.  Thinking back, I spent the entire week watching the back of kids' heads.  I was the 'scooper' for most walks / hikes.  If anyone lagged behind, I would 'Scoop' them up and move them forward, hopefully, not trampling any others in the process. 

At the end of the walk, I could have used a 'Scooper' of my own - I was 'Pooped'. 

I was a 'Pooped Scooper'.  (This, it turns out is better than being a: 'Pooper Scooper'...) 

There ought to be a sign:  "The Bear Cave - Stay AWAY!!!"

There wasn't a sign warning us off. 

Luckily for us, the bear was OUT for the day.

Remember, I'm the 'Scooper'.  I've got the slowest-walking kids back here with me.  As the old adage goes, "I don't have to outrun the bear - I only have to outrun YOU." 

Although, I really didn't want to find out the hard way WHO the slowest of the group was, because, most likely, it was me...

The side of the 'Bear Cave' rock formation AND bonus twisty-trunked tree!

Camp Tusky has a 'Back-Up' emergency alert system.  If there is a camp emergency the horn on the top of the dining hall blasts loudly until you can no longer hear ANYTHING ELSE.  If, however, the dining hall loses power, bursts into flames, is inhabited by bears or they can't reach the button to trigger the alarm, there's always the 'Bell'. 

I've been at camp now for six summers.  I never looked at the bell until this year.  I should have looked sooner.  It was manufactured by Meneely's Bell Foundry of Troy, NY.  It features the patented 'Meneely Rotating Yoke' (not making this up). 

The bell was manufactured in 1857.  Yeah, that's over 150 years old.  Almost as old as my Chrysler.

Okay, that's pretty cool.

Each day we line up outside the Dining Hall for Breakfast and Lunch.  The above photo is of the flag-raising ceremony.  At dinner we meet at the parade grounds, in uniform, for the flag-lowering ceremony.

At lunch, you challenge Staff to friendly 'Competitions'.  For example, you can challenge a staff member to a 'Fishing Challenge'.  If he / she catches more fish than you do, as the 'Challenger', YOU get a pie in the face.

When challenged by the Scout, the ONLY acceptable response in reply is, "To the Death!"

Example:  "I would like to challenge Tom to a Smores Eating Contest!"

Response:  "To the Death!"

Then, everyone claps, shouts, and in general question under their breath, "Can you really DIE eatting Smores?"  I don't believe so - as I'm still alive. 

If you DO accept the fishing challenge referenced above and if you catch more fish than the Staff Member does, the following series of events takes place:

1.  Everyone is called to the center of the Dining Hall

2.  The results of the Challenge are carefully reviewed and tabulated using highly efficient scientific methods.  For really high fish count numbers (over '10'), shoes are removed...

3.  If you lose the challenge, you get a whipped cream pie to the face, as illustrated below

Moments after this photo was taken, several bears stormed the Dining Hall and ate this staff member's head. 

It's a shame really, he was a nice kid. 

As the day begins to wind down, there's nothing better than a bunch of scouts sitting at a rickety picnic table teaching each other the 'Life Skills' they'll need to be successful as they get older:

a.)  Telling Jokes

b.)  Telling Tall Tales

c.)  Comparing Merit Badge Achievements

and, of course, the proudest Scouting experience of all...

d.)  Learning How to Play Cards Without cheating

So as the camp fire dies,and the sun sets on another year at Camp Tuscarora, we ask ourselves: 

WHAT did we learn this year? 

Which memories will last a life-time?

The answers to the above questions are pretty much the same as every other year: 

  • We learn that there are things greater than ourselves.
  • We learn that being away from TV, Radio, and the Internet helps you sleep better at night.
  • We learn that if you hear 'snuffling' noises and leaves rustling coming from the outside of your tent at 2:14AM early Tuesday morning - it might NOT be a hungry bear. 
  • We learn that eating 'Beefy Bean Burritos' at noon and sitting too close to the camp fire that evening is NEVER a good idea. 
  • We learn that those people who honor the past of our Nation will help shape it 'for the better' in the future.
  • We learned that on the Fourth of July, by recognizing our Nation, those who serve in the US Military, and playing 'God Bless the USA' over the dining hall speakers WILL make Mr. Kane remember how much he misses his son serving the US Navy in Japan.  A couple of years ago - he was at this table.   
  • We learn that sometimes Mr. Kane cries in public - even when he's trying hard not to.
  • We learn that if you volunteer for a 'Site Improvement' project which includes the 'Staining' of the latrine - it's better to get the stain delivered on Monday morning vs. Thursday night.

Why?  Because Troop 244 is the first group to stay at the campsite since last summer.  Stuff from beneath the latrine has pretty much dried out / dissipated over the winter.  Butt (big butt), if you don't get the stain until dinner-time on Thursday and don't start staining until Friday morning...  Let's just say it doesn't smell as good in the latrine on Friday as it did on Monday morning.

The question which began this post:  "How Brown Was My Latrine?"

Over the past few years porcupines, squirrels, chipmunks  and other 'denizons
of the woods' conspired to chew the wood within the latrine.  Someone had to
sand, and paint it, right?  Yeah, that would be me...

The Answer:  "Very"

I'll leave you with the following.  The kids packed their tents, rolled their bags, and had headed down to the parking lot to get signed out by their parents.  I made one last trip to the campsite to make sure that no gear, kids, or trash was left behind (it's a Boy Scout thing). 

As I approached the campsite for the last time a deer stepped onto the road about ten feet in front of me.

We stared at each other for probably no more than thirty seconds, but it felt as if a much longer period of time passed.  There was no fear in either of us - just a mutual understanding of each other. 

We both 'belonged' there.

With a quick look back at me and a leisurely turn to the right, my new-found friend left the campsite. 
Having completed his inspection, I began mine.

Yeah, it was 'all good'. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Al Gore Can Lead Republicans to Victory!

Al couldn't save his marriage to Tipper, but might he possess
the secret strategy for Republicans to save the Country? 
Whoa, Al, you are so...  "Da man!"

I remember watching Al lay this 'made for Porn' kiss on Tipper as I sat in my cushy chair in Jacksonville, FL.  Moments later my dog (whom I believed was sleeping on the floor next to me) lifted her head and licked the underside of my right hand as it hung over the side of the chair.  Somewhere in space, the scream which left my body continues to travel, unimpeded by distance, or distortion...

Did I really think that Al Gore snuck into my family room and put a 'Big Wet One' on the bottom of my hand?  No, not really.  But after seeing these two vapor-locked together onstage in 2000, well, I was just 'on edge'.  My life would never be the same.  And my eyes, they BURNED (Both from the onscreen tongue-lashing and the fact that I was laughing pretty hard after screaming like a school-girl). 

I have recently been thinking about something Al Gore said that I caught on Television years ago.  Turns out that the clip goes all the way back to the early 1990's when Clinton / Gore were looking to de-throne 'Bush 41 - The Elder'.  Something Al said back then has continued to burn as an ember in the back of my mind through the years. 

It was something about the State of our Union under George HW Bush.  Something about how Bush 41 could not be trusted for four more years because of what he, and his administration had done to our economy, our standard of living, our unemployment rate, and in general, the well-being of our Country. 

They say, "Seek and ye shall find".  Well I looked, and tonight, I found it.  Nestled between clips of Al spouting off about Global Warming (oops 'Global Climate Change'), clips of screaming about how GW Bush 43 -- The Younger "Played on our Fears!" and forcing our nation to do terrible things based upon lies, fabrications, and on the whole, 'meaness of Bush and Cheney', in general.  It was right there.  It was there waiting for me to re-discover it. 

If Republicans want to displace President Obama in the White House, perhaps they should begin by chanting similar to the chant contained in the following video clip - every chance they get... 

Wherever there is a camera - a microphone - or more than 4 people gathered together at a time, let them take up the chorus begun by Al Gore in 1992. 

Let us learn from Al the lesson which is best summed up in John 8:32:   

"And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

Oh, and it'll help you win elections too... It just takes courage, consistency, and commitment. I just hope the Republicans are up to it.  Everything Al chants in the video above can be laid at the feet of President Obama.  The question is:  Which Republican will carry this message to the People of America?  If only we had someone with the passion of Al Gore, the political savy of Bill Clinton, and the loyalty of a Golden Retriever - we'd have the perfect candidate to beat the 'Punk of Pennsylvania Avenue'. 

Imagine this:  Al Gore's own words, boldly coaching a new wave of Conservatives into the House, Senate, and White House.

Yeah, life is good.

Gotta go.  I need to shower after re-living that Y2K kiss which began this post.  I'm feeling 'oogey' and there is a dog next to my chair 'eyeballing' my hand - which is odd - because this is a different dog... 

Sometimes you don't need to teach an old dog a new trick.  Sometimes you just need to teach a new dog an old trick.

I wonder if Republicans can learn from Al?

Sheesh, I hope so...

Monday, July 25, 2011

I'm Thinking More 'Red' than 'Green'

Cynthia McKinney - D, GA
US House of Representatives
 January 3, 1997 - January 3, 2007
Cynthia McKinney - D, GA is traveling these days.  Not content to ONLY assault police officers in the House of Representatives, she has expanded her assault to the entirety of the United States of America. 

For those of us playing the 'Home Game' this means, "US".   

The thing I couldn't figure out was HOW this US-hating POS (use your imagination) got elected to the House in the first place.  Turns out, according to Wikipedia, it was a 'Family Thing': 

Her political career began in 1986 when her father, a representative in the Georgia House of Representatives, submitted her name as a write-in candidate for the Georgia state house. She got about 40% of the popular vote, despite the fact that she lived in Jamaica at the time with then-husband Coy Grandison (with whom she had a son, Coy McKinney, born in 1985).

In 1988, McKinney ran for the same seat and won, making the McKinneys the first father and daughter to simultaneously serve in the Georgia state house.    

Yeah, I 'dig them Georgia Peaches', but seriously, what were ya'll thinking down there in Georgia?  I mean, she was LIVING in Jamaica when you guys voted her in the first time and THEN you gave her additional terms to represent YOU?

Come on, are you kidding!?!?!  If you folks want to secede from the Union a second time, I'm not sure if I'm going to 'phone a friend' to keep you here...  But you did manage to replace her with Hank Johnson-D, GA! 

He's the Congressman who lamented in 2010 that Guam may 'flip over' due to too many Marines being on the island -

Once again, Georgia, nicely played!

Now Cynthia (from Jamaica) McKinney spends her time visting beautiful garden spots like sunny IRAN!  Meeting with interesting reporters discussing 'just exactly what she thinks of US' (please keep in mind that you are paying her pension, benefits and healthcare for THE REST OF HER LIFE!!!) 

Thanks Georgia - way to go 'Peach State'!!!

So what's she got to say?  Oh boy oh boy... 

I'm not going to write much more about her as, quite frankly, she's not worth the bandwidth on the Internet. Instead, I'm going to allow her to speak for herself in two videos. 
Here she is now, LIVE and uscripted from May, 2011...

Can we all agree to take up a collection and buy her a second dress for when she's travelling to the Middle East to disrespect US?  Can't we just do that for her???  Maybe she'd like us better...

The 'Bad Penny Always Shows Up Again' as the expression goes - here she is in yet another video I found on a site which describes itself as:
Inspired by the principles of Malcolm X / Malik El-Hajj Shabazz. A 'Third Worldist' perspective focusing on the increasing pace of south-south co-operation which is challenging and defeating US hegemony, and the struggles of those oppressed by neo-colonialism and white supremacy (racism) who fight for their social, political and cultural freedom 'by any means necessary'

Seriously, who could argue with THAT? 

Personally, I can't argue with it because I don't know what the Hell they intended to write...  For future reference I will not use words which force the reader to 'look up' because they are obscure, obtuse, and obfuscated from their own personal paradigm.  (Heh, heh, heh)

You can view the 'other' Cynthia McKinney video here

In 2008 she was also the Green Party Candidate for the Presidency of the United States.  This of course begs the question which kind of, sort of, heads this post, "Is she more GREEN, or RED to you?"

As for me, I don't much care as she's an idiot, but I'm seriously questioning what's going into the drinking water down in Georgia.

Come on people, can't we go out of our way to elect people who LOVE our country vs. those who despise it?

Is this too much to ask???

The FDA Cracks Diamonds 'Walnuts'

Q:  What do you call nuts on the wall? 
A:  Walnuts.

Q:  What do you call nuts in DC?
A:  Federal Employees

"When walnuts are outlawed, only outlaws will have walnuts..."  -- The FDA

In a letter to Diamond Walnuts, the FDA has 'warned' the company that its advertising for Diamond's "walnut products are in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act) and the applicable regulations in Title 21, Code of Federal Regulations (21 CFR)."

Additionally (per the FDA):  Based on claims made on your firm's website, we have determined that your walnut products are promoted for conditions that cause them to be drugs because these products are intended for use in the prevention, mitigation, and treatment of disease. The following are examples of the claims made on your firm's website under the heading of a web page stating "OMEGA-3s ... Every time you munch a few walnuts, you're doing your body a big favor.":

• "Studies indicate that the omega-3 fatty acids found in walnuts may help lower cholesterol; protect against heart disease, stroke and some cancers; ease arthritis and other inflammatory diseases; and even fight depression and other mental illnesses."

• "[O]mega-3 fatty acids inhibit the tumor growth that is promoted by the acids found in other fats ... "

• "[I]n treating major depression, for example, omega-3s seem to work by making it easier for brain cell receptors to process mood-related signals from neighboring neurons."

• "The omega-3s found in fish oil are thought to be responsible for the significantly lower incidence of breast cancer in Japanese women as compared to women in the United States."

Okay, the people at Diamond Walnuts may have 'stretched' the marketing verbiage a bit here, but seriously, all they've said is the following:

  1. Walnuts scientifically have been shown to provide Omega-3 fatty acids
  2. Eating walnuts 'may help' you get needed Omega-3 fatty acids into your diet
  3. And, if complementary research is to be believed, there may be other implied benefits (noting the usage of the words 'seem', 'are thought', and 'may help' in the excerpt above) associated with Omega-3.  They never claim that you receive these benefits by busting their (please excuse the expression) 'nuts', but the inferrence is clear enough.  If you eat Diamond Walnuts, you 'may help', you may 'seem to increase' your Omega-3 levels which 'may help' you to be...  healthier.   
Continuing from the FDA Warning Letter:  The back of your product label also bears the following statement: "The omega-3 in walnuts can help you get the proper balance of fatty acids your body needs for promoting and maintaining heart health. In fact, according to the Food and Drug Administration, supportive but not conclusive research shows that eating 1.5 oz of walnuts per day, as part of a low saturated fat and low cholesterol diet, and not resulting in increased caloric intake, may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Please refer to nutrition information for fat content and other details about the nutritional profile of walnuts."

Although FDA exercises enforcement discretion over the last two sentences of this statement, which meet the criteria for a qualified health claim for walnuts and coronary heart disease, the last two sentences read in conjunction with the first sentence makes the entire statement an unauthorized health claim.

The statement suggests that the evidence supporting a relationship between walnuts and coronary heart disease is related to the omega-3 fatty acid content of walnuts. There is not sufficient evidence to identify a biologically active substance in walnuts that reduces the risk of CHD. Therefore, the above statement is an unauthorized health claim. This letter is not intended to be an inclusive review of your products and their labeling. It is your responsibility to ensure that all of your products comply with the Act and its implementing regulations.

You should take prompt action to correct these violations. Failure to do so may result in regulatory action without further notice. Such action may include, but is not limited to, seizure or injunction.

The first paragraph above is most likely where Diamond got into trouble - they quoted the FDA.  The FDA can't have THAT - people quoting them?!?!  

The good news is that this letter is only a 'Warning'.  What's the worst that could happen from a 'warning'? 

Oh, upon further reading I see that the FDA can 'Seize' Diamond Walnuts' products (their livelihood) or prevent them from doing business (via an 'injunction').  Well, that's a completely different thing, now isn't it?

That IS kind of a big deal.  

Luckily for US (as in United States), the FDA extends its angry fingers into all US-based businesses.  There is no company able to elude the FDA's bony grasp...



Check out the following excerpt from 'Life Extension Magazine' online:

FDA Allows Potato Chips to Be Advertised as “Heart Healthy”

Frito-Lay® is a subsidiary of the PepsiCo, Inc., makers of Pepsi-Cola. Frito-Lay® sells $12 billion a year of products that include:
Lays® Potato Chips
You might not associate these mostly-fried snack foods as being good for you, but the FDA has no problem allowing the Frito-Lay® website to state the following:

“Frito-Lay® snacks start with real farm-grown ingredients. You might be surprised at how much good stuff goes into your favorite snack. Good stuff like potatoes, which naturally contain vitamin C and essential minerals. Or corn, one of the world’s most popular grains, packed with thiamin, vitamin B6, and phosphorous—all necessary for healthy bones, teeth, nerves and muscles.

“And it’s not just the obvious ingredients. Our all-natural sunflower, corn and soybean oils contain good polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which help lower total and LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol and maintain HDL ‘good’ cholesterol levels, which can support a healthy heart. Even salt, when eaten in moderation as part of a balanced diet, is essential for the body.”37
FDA Allows Potato Chips to Be Advertised as “Heart Healthy”
Actual FDA Researcher
She's kinda cute
for a Federal Worker!

Wow! Based on what Frito-Lay® is allowed to state, it sounds like we should be living on these snacks. Who would want to ingest walnuts, pomegranate, or green tea (which the FDA is attacking) when these fat calorie-laden, mostly-fried carbohydrates are so widely available?

According to the Frito Lay® website, Lays® potato chips are “heart healthy” because the level of saturated fat was reduced and replaced with sunflower oil.38 Scientific studies do show that when a polyunsaturated fat (like sunflower oil) is substituted for saturated fat, favorable changes in blood cholesterol occur.39

Fatally omitted from the Frito-Lay® website is the fact that sunflower oil supplies lots of omega-6 fats, but no omega-3s.40 The American diet already contains too many omega-6 fats and woefully inadequate omega-3s.

Excess omega-6 fats in the diet in the absence of adequate omega-3s produce devastating effects, including the production of pro-inflammatory compounds that contribute to virtually every age-related disease, including atherosclerosis.41-45

For the FDA to allow Frito-Lay® to pretend there are heart benefits to ingesting their unhealthy snack products, while censoring the ability of walnut companies to make scientifically substantiated claims, is tantamount to treason against the health of the American public.

"Treason against the health of the American public..."
Sooooooo, I guess the FDA hasn't ticked off the folks at "Life Extension Magazine" too much?  Those people at Life Extension Magazine had better watch out or they'll find themselves looking at 'Seizure' or 'Injunction'.  Because when it comes to opinions, SIZE does matter. 

In this instance, the FDA is much larger than LEM, and Frito-Lay is much larger than Diamond Walnut Growers. 

To be sure, I looked it up (RESEARCH!  You know how much I love it...):

Diamond Walnut Growers in Linden, CA is a private company categorized under Seeds-Coating Manufacturers. Current estimates show this company has an annual revenue of $2.5 to 5 million and employs a staff of approximately 50 to 99.

Frito-Lay North America Frito-Lay is the undisputed chip champ of North America. The company makes some of the best-known and top-selling savory snacks around, including Cheetos, Doritos, Lay's, Ruffles, and Tostitos. On the sweet side, Frito-Lay also makes Grandma's cookies, Funyuns onion-flavored rings, Cracker Jack candy-coated popcorn, and Smartfood popcorn. It also offers Funyuns onion-flavored rings, Smartfood popcorn, and a line of chips made with the fat substitute, Olestra under the Light brand name. Owned by PepsiCo, Frito-Lay North America (i.e., the US and Canada) accounts for about one-third of the soda maker's sales. Frito-Lay's Mexican sales are reported within Pepsi's Latin America Foods segment.

Annual revenue for PepsiCo in 2010 was $58.4 BILLION.  Since Frito-Lay accounts for roughly 29% of PepsiCo's total revenue, figure Frito-Lay's total revenue for 2010 was $16.9 BILLION.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a 'Free Market Kind of Guy'.  I LIKE when companies make money, sell products, expand their business, and hire workers, but the fact that the FDA is looking at Diamond and NOT Frito-Lay's 'Healthy Advertising' activity is kind of surprising to me.  

I wonder why the lack of oversight?

The 'New' Pepsi Logo looks a lot like President Obama's
approval rating - mostly "Down and to the right"

Nah, it couldn't be that easy, could it? 

You know me, I'm a simple guy.  I'm thinking that something that GROWS ON A FREAKING TREE is going to be better for you than a product that is pulled from the ground in June, shipped, processed, sliced, fried, salted, and stuffed into an aluminum foil pouch in October?  Yeah, I'm thinking the tree nuts are a healthier option. 

But you know, that's just me.  I don't work for the FDA.

Maybe YOU do!  If so, please let us know why Diamond is in your crosshairs and Frito-Lay doesn't even appear to be on the radar screen. 

That'd be great - thanks!

BONUS Video (having almost nothing at all to do with today's post)!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Recently Heard at Hogwartz...

"Quick Harry, save us from You-Know-Who!!!"
- Draco L. Malfoy

No.  I don't remember the above words ever being spoken in the HP book series.  I didn't hear them in any of the movies.  I didn't listen to them in the excellent CD audio books as performed by Jim Dale.  In general, these words appear to be inconsistent with the Draco Lucius Malfoy character in the Harry Potter book series. 

He is, pretty much, the Draco Malfoy we all know, and all pretty much...  loathe.  

Nevertheless, it is the image which flashed before me as I opened my local news paper earlier this week.  Within it's rumpled pages I found an ad. 

Oh look, here it is now...

"Republicans Promised to Protect Medicare - Now's their chance to prove it." 

Okay, so good far - I get it...  Republicans were swept into the House after they pledged to lower spending, reduce deficits, protect seniors and put the brakes President Obama's spending binge.  No problem.  Sounds good so far, right?

Sure does - right as rain.  

Unfortunately, there's a bit of fine print here - luckily I've got a close up for you (translation below if it's still too small to read in the next photo)...

Text:  "President Obama and Congressional leaders are proposing to slash $300 billion from health care--cuts that will decimate New York's already troubled hospitals, nursing homes and home care providers and jeopardize care for seniors, the disabled and working families.

This shortsighted proposal includes $60 billion in cuts to teaching hospitals, which will cripple their ability to train doctors while we're already facing a shortage of physicians. 

The proposal also includes $100 billion in cuts to Medicaid, which will mean low-income Medicare beneficiaries will lose access to nursing homes and home care, because Medicaid is New York's primary source of funding for long-term care.

GOP Members of Congress Ran in 2010 promising to protect Medicare.  We need them to honor this commitment before it's too late. 

Tell Congress to protect funding for New York's health care."

(Misspellings in the above text translation were corrected in an effort to eliminate any concerns regarding the veracity of the above verbiage or the intelligence of the ad's creator)

Whoa, another $300 BILLION out of health care funding?  In addition to the $500 BILLION Obama Care has already surgically extracted (not with a knife, but with a pen) from Medicare? 

This is really close to, um, something like, err, $800 BILLION!  It's real money!

So who is asking the Republicans to help slow down the evil assault by the President of the United States and Congressional leaders on 'seniors, the disabled, and working families'? 

One more photo. 

Just for you...


Yes, the SEIU is asking Republicans to help stop President Obama's risky health care schemes...

The SEIU purple-shirted thugs who worked so very hard to get President Obama elected, put TEA Party folks in the hospital, and get Obama Care passed - now want the Republicans' assistance in stopping the Monster which they themselves helped create.  I also could mention the number of SEIU chapters which were granted WAIVERS to Obama Care, but that would just be piling on...

Welcome to President Obama's Fundamental Transformation of America...

"Here there be monsters."

Saturday, July 23, 2011

From Russia, With Love...

Vladimir Putin terrorizes fish
with his manly physique
"Dimitri, I do not like the new Russia.  It is not, how you say, it is not dignified?", says a distressed Yakoff.

Dimitri responds, "I don't know, I like new Russia. I have a new TV in house, made in Japan, I have new refrigerator, made in Thailand, I have new Apple computer made in China.  For me, these are good things.  I could have never had these things in old days.  Remember when all cars were black?  It was not that long ago."

"What about the smut you see on Internet with your Apple computer?   Does that bother you at all?", Yakoff asks.

"You mean the moral decay exported from America?  No.  It is not a good thing, but what can you do?  It's out there, and now it is here.  It is, as they say, it is, what it is.", Dimitri answers with a shrug.

"Okay, but how about our women taking off their clothes to support Putin for President of Russia for a chance to win an iPad 2?  You cannot tell me this is dignified?" Yakoff asks.

"I haven't seen the ad.  But let me ask you, old friend, are they good-looking?  Because un-attractive women stripping for anything is 'bad' thing."

"You watch this on my iPad, you let me know what you think."  Yakoff says as he hands the iPad to Dimitri.

"Okay, what do you think, Dimitri?  Is the woman in the video good-looking enough for you?  And then, let me ask you this, are we starting to look like America - you know, with all this Capitalistic tackiness?" Yakoff asks.

"I do not know if she is good-looking or not.  Me, I am too old to worry about such things.  The only thing I know is that our President is not Socialist.  And this, to me, is somehow funny."  Dimitri winks, hands the iPad back to Yakoff, and both men continue their walk along the river as somewhere in America, a guy in his pajamas finishes his blog post...

Read the actual article:  Here

Have a nice weekend.

No naked Russian women were injured in the generation of this post. 

(Although, I did receive an e-mail the other day from one of them offering 'to be my friend, as I is looking for meaningful relationship with sensitive man leading to marriage.'  All I had to do was send her $10,000 to pay off a couple of border security guys.  Yeah, this is gonna be GREAT!  Not sure how to explain this to my wife...  Nanny for the kids?  Exchange student?  Obama Cabinet Czar?  Nah, on second thought - I'd better put a stop-payment on that check...  It'd be too hard to explain.)

p.s.:  The photo of Putin was found on a site named  It wasn't until AFTER I closed this post that I went back and checked out the article which the photo came from.  These guys want to draft Bernie Sanders for President because President Obama isn't 'Left' enough.  Now THAT's funny... 

If you want a peek into what the loyal opposition is thinking - check it out.  Then squeeze lemons into your eyes in a vain attempt to get the images and words out of your mind.  If you never believed we were in a fight for the soul of our Nation - you might want to re-consider. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The (Late) Great Society

The 'late great' Rat Pack...
While I was growing up, whenever a movie star, musician, or major performer passed away he or she was referred to by my Mom as, "the late great _______________________" (insert deceased party's name here). 

All these years later, the phrase bubbled up from the under-side of my brain and almost rocked me off my seat (a.k.a.:  a non-descript 'stump') two weeks ago while at Summer Camp with our local Boy Scout Troop.  I thought, with horror, that as we look at our country today, the same expression MAY apply to US. 

"The late great America"  
   (courtesy of the LBJ's Great Society)

WARNING:  Do not read the following unless your brain is fireproof.  My head's been smoldering for two weeks.  Unfortunately, now that I'm home, the smoke detectors won't let me sleep through the night.  

On a happier note, I won't need a haircut for months.    

They say the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. 

Time to get walking:

Gee, thanks LBJ.  You have indeed left us a legacy of a 'constantly renewed' challenge.  It's nice to read a quote from you which could have easily have been uttered by Karl Marx.   


Okay, so here's the thing:  Before I went on my Boy Scout camping expedition a few weeks ago I came across an article on  It claimed to have to 'cure' to poverty.  Sure, I was curious, so I checked it out.

Funny thing is that it had NOTHING to do with forcefully taking money from one person (or group of people) and giving it to someone else - I thought that this WAS the approved methodology to ending poverty? 

How could the people at Heritage LIE about this undeniable truth of political posturing?

What, are they INSANE???
Yes, they are insane. 
They've been 'Certified' by the US Government.

I've heard the expression, "A rising tide lifts all boats" for years.  I thought it was the utterance of Ronald Wilson Reagan.  It sounds like something he would have said.   

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that it is correctly attributed to...

John F. Kennedy
He's the nice man in the photo above (attempting to restrain LBJ)

Moving forward in time from the photo above...  JFK is assassinated, the mantle of leadership passes over to Vice President Lyndon Johnson and the rest, as they say, is history.  I don't believe President Johnson ever said it out loud, or within ear shot of the public (reporters would NOT care), but I believe that HIS personal mission statement based upon JFK's slogan became:  

"A sinking ship raises everyone else's boat"

Prepare yourself for that 'sinking' feeling as restated by President Barack Obama, July 13, 2011:

"And I do not want, and I will not accept, a deal in which I am asked to do nothing, in fact, I’m able to keep hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional income that I don’t need, while a parent out there who is struggling to figure out how to send their kid to college suddenly finds that they’ve got a couple thousand dollars less in grants or student loans."

Okay, so taking 'stuff' from one person and giving to another IS the answer?!?!  Just a bit more 'Spreading the wealth around'? 

I KNEW it!!!  That IS the answer!!!

So let's jump back to LBJ (the Johnny Appleseed of Barack Obama's 'money orchard') and his 'Great Society'. 

According to Wikipedia:    The Great Society was a set of domestic programs suggested or enacted in the United States on the initiative of President Lyndon B. Johnson. Two main goals of the Great Society social reforms were the elimination of poverty and racial injustice. New major spending programs that addressed education, medical care, urban problems, and transportation were launched during this period. The Great Society in scope and sweep resembled the New Deal domestic agenda of Franklin D. Roosevelt, but differed sharply in types of programs enacted.

Some Great Society proposals were stalled initiatives from John F. Kennedy's New Frontier. Johnson's success depended on his skills of persuasion, coupled with the Democratic landslide in the 1964 election that brought in many new liberals to Congress. Anti-war Democrats complained that spending on the Vietnam War choked off the Great Society.

While some of the programs have been eliminated or had their funding reduced, many of them, including Medicare, Medicaid, the Older Americans Act and federal education funding, continue to the present.

Anyone else having that uncomfortable Déjà vu feeling right about now?  If you're not, let me drop a few crumbs for you to follow...  
  1. New major spending programs addressed education, medical care, urban problems, and transportation were launched
  2. It is a time of war
  3. Democratic landslide of new 'Liberals' to Congress
  4. Democrats complain that spending on the war choked off 'necessary' social programs
  5. The Great Society was intended to eliminate poverty and racial injustice
Enough crumbs yet?

Good, let's take these crumbs and put together the whole sandwich...

One slice of bread is the foundation laid in 1964 with LBJ (we could go back to Woodrow Wilson OR FDR, but I'm old, I don't have THAT much time to relive all of Progressive History in the United States.  Plus, it would only make me sad. 

The second piece of bread consists of the past 2+ years of the Obama Administration. 

The 'gooey middle' of our sandwhich consists of war, class warfare, a failed public education system, corrupt unions, punitive tax policies, lobbyists, the interpretation of the US Constitution as a 'living document', bureaucracy, and an ever-expanding government at both the State and Federal levels. 

Yeah, eat up.

"The Poop Sandwich"... 
It's what's for dinner!
Don't worry, there's plenty to go around.  Even your grandkids
will get an unhealthy heaping helping! 

I'll only be focusing mostly at 'poverty' here because as a 'White Guy' and I can't possibly understand 'social injustice'.  'Cause you know, when you're a White Middle-Aged Guy, you've pretty much got the world on a string! 

Yeah, it's good to be ME...  Not a care in the WORLD!

As you'll soon discover (and most reading this likely already know), unlike almost EVERYONE currently working within the Obama Administration, I am NOT a Nobel Prize Winning intellectual Ivy League guy.  You probably realized this by the number of jumps sideways and backwards I've made in this post alone - but in case you have not realized it already, there is nothing NOBEL about me today, yesterday, or tomorrow.  For verification, simply ask my family.

Having confirmed for you that I am not a necessarily 'smart guy' in the Ivy-League-style-of-great-American-thinkers - we continue onward.  

Let's look at our Nation's Mandatory Spending since the Great Society was implemented!

Double your Mandatory Spending Percentage in less than 50 years!!!
"Sometimes you eat your lunch, sometimes your lunch eats you!"
And, BONUS!  Your outflows of cash are up 500%

Great, we're spending LOTS more money, let's see what we got for our mandatory 'investments'!

In 1964, 93% of all children born were born to a 'Married Mother'.

In 2008, fewer than 60% of children born were born to a 'Married Mother'.

That's an improvement of -35 %  (See Chart)

What's the impact of Poverty on these Married vs. Non-Married families?

'Married Families' are almost 3x as likely to be 'Non-Poor' as their un-married counterparts.

'Un-Married Families' are almost 2.5x as likely to be 'Poor' as their married counterparts.  (See Chart)

IF the Great Society had anything to do with increasing the percentage of children born into poverty in the United States, certainly the secondary goal of 'Social Justice' will have helped minorities disproportionately than 'Whites' - right?  I mean, you couldn't LOSE both objectives, right?

That WAS the objective, correct? 

If you consider increasing the percentage of Black / Non-Hispanics born into poverty (Unwed) households rose from 25% to 72%...


If you consider increasing the percentage of Whites born into poverty (Unwed) households rose from 4% to 29%...

Progress?  If you believe that this is, then you, my friend, are a malevolent SOB...

According to the folks at, what's the best way that we can reduce the number of families living in poverty in the United States?

That's easy!

1 Man + 1 Woman + 1 Preacher (of your choice!) = 1 Married Couple

Please note that this solution has NOTHING to do with the Federal Government.  (Other than some married couples MIGHT go to DC for their Honeymoon.  Note to Honeymooners - the Honeymoon with DC has been over for years.  Go to Disney World instead.  It'll cost you more per day - but you'll only be there a week paying those incredibly high costs.  DC, on the other hand, will have its hands in your pockets long after you've obtained room temperature.) 

In actuality, the fix to poverty has MORE to do with the LACK of Federal involvement than anything else. 

LEAP OF LOGIC:  When a man and woman take the responsibility for raising their family, they have a vested interest in their family's success.  It does NOT take a village - sorry Hillary. 

It takes a Mom, a Dad and perhaps their extended families. 

When the Government dole replaces the 'man' (or 'woman') as the 'head of household' in a family environment - there is no personal responsibility to the family itself.  Procreating becomes nothing more than a revenue stream for the poor. 

Providing for your family consists not of working, slaving and hoping to pay your bills on time, but rather, filing out paperwork, cashing checks, waiting for the next hand-out, and another generation is born into poverty - not knowing exactly WHY it's there. 

When fewer than 50% of Americans are contributing to Federal Tax collections and the same number of Americans are suckin' them up?  Yeah, you could say we have a problem. 

I learned the following in business years ago, "You get the activity which you incent". 

You incent poverty, you get more of it.  

Oh, and another thing, "Uncle Sam" is a crappy Dad.  He'll never replace Fred MacMurray in the "My Three Sons" episodes of years gone by.  Fred had a job, an Uncle Charlie, and was a doting father for his three kids.  He knew that if he failed as a parent - his family failed.  As a single parent, he's the role model the country should aspire to.  Okay, I get it, he was a FICTIONAL guy in a TV show but perhaps the reason it had so much nostalgic charm is because we have drifted so far from its premise today.       

Sorry Uncle Sam, check out the chart which follows - you'll see that you're NOT ready for prime time.  YOU are NO Fred MacMurray... 

If the Federal Government perpetuates the problems of poverty by incenting the behaviors which CAUSE people to live in poverty as single parents - the Federal Government needs to 'fundamentally transform' (thanks Barack, I got that one from you).

Bottom Line:  The 'Great Society' has done nothing to improve the condition of the poor or those victimized by 'social injustice'.  The result after 45 years of funding would indicate that the programs implemented only made the situation(s) worse by lowering expections for GENERATIONS of Americans.  

Our country sits on the verge of Debt Default and the debate is NOT about reducing spending, it's once again about 'fairness'.  Fairness in DC is defined as taking MORE from those people who are already having their wealth confiscated and giving it to additional generations of 'Great Society Beneficiaries'. 

A couple hundred years ago someone holding people financially hostage, physically dependent, and bereft of any chance of their situation getting better was called... 


I thought we learned that this was a bad thing years ago. 

Apparently we haven't learned much at all. 

Your Federal Government:  "Killing them with kindness since 1964"

p.s.:  The charts above came from the Heritage article linked above.  If you get a chance, read the original Heritage post online - it's interesting and horrifying at the same time.  If you want to address poverty in America - make it cool to be 'married' again. 

Oh, you know, marriage as in one man and one woman - don't even get me going on that one...