SOPA/PIPA And Government Regulation 1

This is the age of increasing government intrusion into our personal lives. Today, Wikipedia went dark, and Google, the webs most popular search machine blacked out their logo to protest impending legislation that would give the US government control over content on the internet.

PIPA, Protect IP Act, and SOPA, Stop On-Line Piracy Act, are two bills  that would result in exactly that. PIPA is a Senate bill, and SOPA is a House bill. Both would force search web sites and other web sites to embargo so-called pirate web sites that sell or give away US copyrighted content like music and movies.

The Motion Picture Association if America is the primary driver behind this legislation, and they managed to get a lot of legislators behind the bill. This is big Hollywood money driving legislation that forces enforcement of copyright laws onto US companies and consumers. This is nothing but censorship by another means. It opens up government regulation of web content, and is such an obvious Trojan Horse that anybody can see it for what it is.

If the legislation comes to pass, Google would have to know all the pirate web sites in the world, and keep them from coming up on searches. Likewise, other web sites would be held responsible for links to the pirate sites, and the government could shut the sites down. This means you, friends, could be shut down and run out of business if somebody complains to the government about a link on your site.

We need strict enforcement of our intellectual property laws, but these bills are not the answer. Why cannot the government do its job by negotiating treaties and taking advantage of international laws to stifle the pirate sites? Why can we not with hold our foreign aid from those countries who shelter those scofflaws?

The solution to the problem is not simple, but that is no reason to make me responsible as a blogger and web site developer for the sins of others. We have enough bad laws.

Who Owns Your Representative? 9

Every election cycle we hear screams and shrieks about all the money going into the election process. President Obama is poised to launch a One Billion Dollar campaign. Instead of standing by and wringing my hands about the rivers of money in our political system, please allow me to say the following.

So what?

Let’s put forth a fundamental relationship:    MONEY = POWER = POLITICS

These three concepts are so intertwined that you can never separate them.  The sooner we recognize this definition as equivalent to the law of gravity in the physical world, the better we can order our lives. Our election funding laws should be predicated on these basic principles.

Instead of restricting what people give to their political candidates, let it go. Let people give as much as they want. After all, this is one of the definitions of free speech. There have to be some conditions, though, and I will try to flesh these out in the following lines.

1.  Allow individuals to give as much to a candidate as they want. No corporate entity, either profit or non-profit, union, association, or other organization is allowed to contribute money to any candidate for any US government office.

2. Individuals contributing to a politician must reside within the political subdivision for which the election is being held.

3. All donations to a candidate’s political campaign must be published on an internet web page within 24 hours of the donation. The donors name, city, county, and state of residence will be disclosed along with the amount.

The most important thing about my plan is that you know who has bought your representative. If the district is a poor district, the Koch brothers cannot make a donation to a candidate if they don’t live there. Likewise, George Soros can buy a President, but can only contribute to a Congressional candidate in the district where he lives.

Is George Soros a US Citizen? Does he reside in the US? Any individual contributing to a candidate may be compelled to demonstrate the requirements for residency of that state, or political subdivision.

My plan may not be perfect. Maybe it would be a good beginning.

Blog Moved To WordPress.Com 2

This blog has been moved from blogger.com, a Google free service, to WordPress.com, a free service of WordPress. I am paying a little extra to have WordPress.com host the domain name, but that’s OK.

The real reason is to be able to go back to WordPress blogging software, simply the best. On the other hand, I found blogger.com to be less than good.

Please pardon any problems this move may cause. If there are problems, please contact me.

A Hero And Friend Dies 2

There are fewer and fewer veterans of World War II. They are old, and are dying of all the maladies that age brings. This last weekend, we said goodbye to my wife’s Uncle Bill. He was one of those people who lived during interesting times, and had wonderful and engaging stories to tell.

Uncle Bill was born in 1921, and enlisted in the US Army at age 17. We all agree that he most likely lied about his age, but he wanted to learn to fly. He went to flight school, and was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in the Army Air Force on June 22, 1943. He spent the rest of the war as a test pilot, and was headed to the South Pacific to fly fighter planes when the war ended.

After World War II, Uncle Bill used his new knowledge and maturity to go to Georgia Tech, finishing his Industrial Engineering Degree in just three years and nine months. He financed his education with the GI Bill, and money he won playing cards. He was the state Bridge champion, and put that skill to good use

While in the Reserves after the war, he took the opportunity one day to buzz his home town, a small town in West Tennessee. The story goes that he flew his B24 bomber about 100 feet above the town, and his mother’s house. The whole town was much abuzz with that buzzing, but they knew Bill. I don’t think anybody had to tell his mother who that crazy pilot was that almost took the roof off her house.

Uncle Bill’s brother tells the story about the first car Bill bought. It seems that he didn’t know how to drive, but he figured that since he could fly an airplane, driving couldn’t be that difficult. He bought the car and learned how to drive it on the way home, running off and on the road until he got the feel of the machine. From then on, he drove a car like he was flying an airplane, pretty well attacking everything in his path.

While maintaining his flight status in the Reserves, he was put on active duty at the start of the Korean War. This time he flew reconnaissance missions in propeller driven airplanes with no guns for protection. Flying low and slow, this job was not a picnic, and was as dangerous as they came.

He loved flying like some people love coconut cake. He had stories that would curl your hair about his days as an Air Force pilot. In addition to his experiences in the wild blue yonder,  his life was filled with a lovely wife, two beautiful children, seven grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren. He was a much loved man.

He was my wife’s Uncle, and he was my friend.  I miss him.

That Old Dog Don’t Hunt 3

Nor does he do anything else. I am talking about Sam, the ancient canine we inherited from my daughter when she married and moved out. Parents always get the dogs and cats of their children,  and this speaks highly of the intelligence of our son’s in law. They married the girl, but not her mistakes. Parents get to pay for those.

Because of this, I am stuck with the laziest hound in the country. The little guy is 15 years old this month, and is starting to look every bit of it. It has always been obvious that poor Sam is not the brightest bulb in the scoreboard.

His bathroom habits are amazingly random. That’s why I take him outside every couple of hours. Not even Sam knows when it is time to do his thing. This dog knows no season, and will answer nature’s call whenever and wherever he happens to be, inside or out.

Sam is sort of clever when it comes to finding his way out of the area I have gated for him. We use a child’s expanding gate to keep Sam out of the den whenever we are not there. The old boy will sometimes find a way to push the gate out of the way if it is not secure, or to batter the gate down. Like all dachshunds, he is infinitely stubborn, and once he starts pushing, he will not stop.

Friends and neighbors think it is cute when I take Sam out for his constitutionals. We look like two old men, enjoying life, and taking care of each other. If only they knew! Poor Sam. He can’t even hike his leg anymore. Recently, he made a heroic try, but lost his balance and rolled down the hill. Poor Sam.

I am Sam’s Medicare program. The poor pup has thyroid problems, and a prescription to be administered twice per day. That’s why I feed him twice daily. Those feedings are the only time Sam will voluntarily wake up and prance around like a puppy. He has amazing energy around food.

Now that you know the bad side of Sam, surely you would think there is a good side. You would be right. Sam is the most loving dog in the world, and has never bitten an adult of child. It is even rare for him to growl.

That’s why I keep taking care of the old boy. He is still a loving hound, and one of this man’s best friends. Plus, if I am mean to him he may testify against me on Judgement Day.

Capitalism Is A Moral System Reply

I have always been fascinated by the subject of economics. Some of my most enjoyable graduate school classes were in economics, and I pay rapt attention to economic news and Federal economic policy. The interview linked below is with John Allison, former CEO of BB&T, who articulates what has gone wrong with the US financial system, and why we are not in free market. His conclusions are compelling.

Mr Allison is now on the faculty at Wake Forest University. The interview is by Glenn Reynolds, Law Professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Allison Video Link

H/T to Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds blog.

My New World 4

One of my duties as the man of the house is to do the grocery shopping. Yes, I know. That is a role normally reserved for the little woman. About the time that the last kid left home, my wifey-mate decided that she was retiring from the shopping and cooking thing.

Don’t worry. It’s OK. I have discovered a new world in grocery stores. Wednesday mornings are particularly good for shopping because several stores give a 5% senior citizen discount on that day. On Wednesdays, I believe the shelves are loaded with merchandise that is old enough to be pulled from the shelves. That is why there is a discount, and old folks are less likely to complain to management about green meat and purple tomatoes, especially those like me that are color blind.
All of which makes Thursdays a wonderful day for shopper watching. You see, housewives have broken the code that the good stuff goes on the shelves Wednesday nights, and are likely to do their weekly shopping on Thursday mornings, right after their tennis lessons or gym workouts. Those tennis skirts and spandex tights vouch for their devotion to athletics and strenuous shopping.
Coupons are getting my interest, too. When I was young, rich, and working I pretty well ignored coupons because they rarely applied to stuff I liked. Plus, my wife does not use Tide detergent or other popular, coupon generating products. I have been stuck on Campbell’s soup all my life, along with Peter Pan peanut butter, Keebler saltines… Well, you get the message.
There is a program on one of the cable channels called, “Extreme Couponing“. The program features different fanatical coupon clippers who sit around all day, every week going through newspapers for their gold. They will find coupons for, say, 50 cents off on a bottle of aspirin, or $1.00 off on a bottle of detergent. They will get as many newspapers as they can from neighbors, friends, and recycling companies. It can take a ton of papers to get a good coupon harvest.
On double coupon days at their local grocer, they will combine the local store sale price, online coupons, and newspaper coupons to convert some items into cash positive transactions. They will clean the store out of that item as in one episode where a woman bought over 100 bottles of pain reliever, which gave her over $50 cash credit to cover the grocery items for her family’s consumption. 
The problem is that you have to have the 100 coupons to do this, and they cannot be expired. Coupon organization and management is a big thing with these thrifty souls.
It was not unusual for some people to ring up almost $2,000 in grocery items, and pay less than $10 cash for the whole kit and kaboodle. For example, they would use their Kroger card to get the store sale price, and various coupons for others. Occasionally, somebody would wind up with a week’s groceries and not pay at all, even receiving some cash in return.
My question is, where do they find all those coupons? I looked in the Sunday paper, and didn’t find squat. Maybe I am not looking in the right places. When the paper advertises that it has $200 in coupons that day, a lot of them seem to be for stuff you don’t always want to buy, like garage doors, carpet, or other major household items. There are no double coupon days for those things.
I guess there is a lot to learn from my fellow shoppers. Maybe I should spend more time talking with the ladies than gawking at them. 

The Mouths of Babes 1

You have to watch yourself around your grandchildren. I have a 3 year old grandson, Miles, and a 16 month old granddaughter, Georgia. At their age their little brains are like sponges, soaking up all that wisdom for which grandparents are noted.

Some time ago, we were discussing the upcoming one year birthday for Georgia, and I made the statement that I didn’t know what to get her for the occasion. Miles, having had two of his own birthdays and a couple of other parties under his belt, quickly made sense of the situation and solved Georgia’s birthday present problem.

Cake!”, he yelled. You have to admire the potential of someone so young who has their priorities settled.

As in all families, we worked hard to come up with easily pronounced, cute grandparent names for both sides of Miles’ family. My wife didn’t want “mammaw”, or some other traditional grandmother names. She wisely decided on “Mimi”. It works well, and both kids can now pronounce her pseudonym.

I don’t care what the kids call me. I offered up my name, Bob, but my daughter said it  did not give me respect, as if she ever did.  So, I became Bob-Bob. It works, and both kids can say it.

The recent discovery is that Bob-Bob is the good granddad. Whenever Miles does not approve of my conduct, he truncates the cute little name to just plain, Bob. My daughter’s concern is coming to life, probably because whenever she speaks ill of me, she calls me Bob, clearly disrespecting her old man.

Last night while babysitting, Miles wanted a cheese snack. I found Kraft American cheese slices in the fridge, peeled one out of its wrapper, and dropped it on a plate in front of Miles. The problem is that Mimi had been feeding him a snack of vegetables and ranch dressing. The cheese slice plopped right in the middle of a puddle of dressing.

Instantly, Miles made known his disapproval of my service. He doesn’t like certain things, and one is the combination of cheese and ranch dressing. I can’t blame him, there.

Bob threw it!”, he told Mimi. This told me three things. First, you can’t get away with anything less than the slavish service his mother gives him. Second, the little tyke is quick to voice his opinion of less than acceptable conduct. Third, I had been demoted to something less than grandparent du jour.

Thank God for two of them. Georga didn’t seem to have a problem with ranch dressing on American cheese. She ate every bite.

Afterwards, she raised her little arms for me to hold her. That just melts me like ice cream in July.