Monday, August 31, 2009

Damn I Feel Old

no original descriptionImage via Wikipedia

I used to be quite active. I played high school football, however, unlike Al Bundy I never scored four touchdowns in a single game. Even after high school, I stayed pretty active playing softball and doing a lot of weight training.

Up until six years ago, my full time vocation was just a fifteen minute drive from the house. Even with putting in nine to ten hours per day and having a special needs child, there was still enough time in the day to get in some sort of workout. Unfortunately, that job was eliminated and subsequent employment has left me with much longer commute times and much less time for exercise.

So as I have become more and more inactive, I knew that I was getting more and more out of shape. This weekend I got a pretty good reminder as to how out of shape I have become. Yesterday my in-laws had a bowling party for my nephew. Originally I wasn't planning to participate figuring that it would just be the kids bowling. However, my brother in law was bowling so I decided to join in.

It has been a while since I last bowled. When I bowled on a regular basis, I used to bowl with a 16 pound ball. Yesterday, I started with a 14 pound ball and after the first roll, switched to a 13 pounder. Today, I can not believe how freaking sore I am. My legs, back, and even my are hurting. I know anytime you use muscles you haven't used in a while you will be sore, but bowling isn't exactly the most strenuous activity you can participate in.

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Music Monday-Ain't No Sunshine

This is the kind of music I listened to when I was a kid. Solid rhythm and blues from Bill Withers and "Ain't No Sunshine." Dude has an unbelievably soulful voice.

I don't usually go for covers, especially when the original was pretty close to perfect, but Sting does a pretty good job on this one. He is accompanied by David Sanborn on the saxophone. Though I gotta say the stache Sting is sporting looks pretty cheesy.

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. One simple rule, leave ONLY the actual post link here. You can grab this code at LJL Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.

PS: Because of spamming purposes, the linky will be closed on Thursday of each week at midnight, Malaysian Time. Thank you!

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Friday, August 28, 2009

How Do They Sleep At Night?

CHICAGO - APRIL 15: Demonstrators participate ...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Seriously, how do politicians sleep at night or how can they look at themselves in the mirror? I know that it has been a few days since the White House released their updated projection on the federal budget deficit for the next decade will be closer to $9 trillion as opposed to their original projection of $7 trillion.

The only reason I decided to post about it tonight was the headline that I saw when I received my email news brief this morning. The headline read "Obama’s ‘Path Toward Fiscal Discipline’ is Paved with Average Annual Deficits of $900 Billion, Says White House Report."

This year's budget deficit is expected to be $1.58 trillion. Prior to taking office, the deficit in the last year of the Bush administration was $458 billion. The average deficit for the next 10 years is expected to be double the highest deficit prior to Obama taking office.

This is a "path toward fiscal discipline?" That they can say something like this with a straight face is simply mind boggling to me. What planet are these people living on? Do they really expect us to believe anything they say when they make asinine statements like these? I think I will go out this weekend and max out my credit cards. After all, if our out of control government spending is "fiscal discipline," then the same must hold true for me.
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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Beer in a Box

beersImage by bunchofpants via Flickr

I enjoy a nice glass of wine every now and then. Over the years, I have gotten to know a decent bit about wine. I am partial to reds. For special occasions, I will splurge for a good bottle of wine. For everyday, however, I am definitely not a "wine snob." As money has gotten tighter and tighter over the past few years, I started to economize and started buying boxed wine. $15 for a 5 liter box of wine (equivalent to over 6 bottles) is a lot easier on the budget than $5-$10 for a bottle.

In addition to the occasional glass of wine, I also enjoy an ice cold beer. Now the MillerCoors company has started testing a 1.5 gallon beer in a box of Coors Light and Miller Lite. They are targeting the occasional home user who would like to have a draft beer in the comfort of their own home. Now that is a product innovation that I can stand behind.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Senator Edward Kennedy: 1932-2009

{{w|Ted Kennedy}}, Senator from Massachusetts.Image via Wikipedia

Nearly two weeks ago, when they had the funeral for Eunice Kennedy Shriver, I thought it was notable that Senator Ted Kennedy was not in attendance. I remember thinking that it told us a lot about the condition of Kennedy in his battle against brain cancer. Last night, Kennedy succumbed to his cancer.

Regardless of how you feel about the man or his politics, it is always sad when somebody dies. It is particularly sad when they have to go through the ravages of cancer. At this point, the best we can do is to wish comfort for the family of Ted Kennedy. We should also wish peace upon the soul of Ted Kennedy and thank him for his service.

This morning while watching the news coverage of Kennedy's passing, they played clips of President John F. Kennedy. As I listened to JFK's quote "Ask not what your country can do for you, rather ask what you can do for your country." I had to ask myself, how did the Democratic Party go from being the party of JFK's "Ask not what your country can do for you" to the party of Ted Kennedy and what can the government provide for the people?
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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Keith Olbermann/Jackass

The LA Times got it right on their television guide last Thursday when they listed "Jackass" in the "Countdown With Keith Olberman" time slot. There isn't a bigger jackass on the air than Keith Overbite Olberman.

It was an innocent mistake on the part of the Times, but oh how appropriate. A blogger for the Times, Andrew Morton, saw the humor in the error and commented on it in a post statingm "a few thousand people might have tuned into MSNBC, the Obama administration's favorite cable channel, expecting to see a Jackass show, and instead they'd have found Olbermann."

The next night on Olbermann's program, Keith shows that he can dish it out but he can't take it. Jackass is correct, and maybe a little understated.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Democrats, The Media, and The Health Care Debate


President Obama and his fellow Democrat leaders, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, et al are quick to declare that the Republican Party are absent in the health care reform debate. According to them, they are the "party of no" or they bring no ideas to the table. The mainstream news media, which can no longer be referred to as "journalists," continue to sound forth the propaganda.

This morning, on my commute into the office, RNC Chairman Michael Steele was on the Grandy and Andy show on WMAL radio. Chairman Steele pointed out that Republicans had proposed some 800 amendments to the various bills working their way through the House and Senate. Not one has come close to being approved, including my personal favorite proposal that would require any member of the House or Senate to go on the government run health plan if it was part of the bill.

In addition to the proposed ammendments, there have been at least three Republican bills that have been presented. In May, a group of House and Senate Republicans presented the "Patients Choice Act of 2009. Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina presented the Health Care Freedom Plan in June. Lastly, Representative Tom Price of Georgia proposed the Empowering Patients First Act in July. Price just happens to also be a practicing physician, so he actually has some experience in the arena.

Among the various provisions in these proposals are investing in preventative care, reducing fraud in Medicare and Medicaid, tax credits for purchasing private insurance, and tort reform. Yet the Democrats say there are no ideas on the Republican side. The problem isn't a lack of ideas from the GOP, but the fact that they aren't the ideas the Democrats want. The other problem is that the media no longer reports the facts, but pushes the liberal agenda.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Music Monday-George Benson & Earl Klugh "Dreamin"

A little something different for Music Monday today. Two great jazz guitarists, George Benson and Earl Klugh with "Dreamin"

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. One simple rule, leave ONLY the actual post link here. You can grab this code at LJL Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.

PS: Because of spamming purposes, the linky will be closed on Thursday of each week at midnight, Malaysian Time. Thank you!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Nate Beeler: How Liberals Can Break The Blue Dogs

OK. This cartoon is wrong on a lot of levels, but it made me laugh. Is this the "Chicago Way" I keep hearing about?

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Seattle Bag Tax Defeated

Official flag of the city of Seattle, Washingt...Image via Wikipedia

The city council of Seattle, Washington had proposed a $.20 per bag tax on any bags that a retailer provided at checkout. Most jurisdictions that propose these bag taxes usually limited the tax to plastic bags. The Seattle legislation would have been the first in the country that did not distinguish between paper or plastic.

The measure was originally supposed to go into effect on January 1st of this year, but there were enough signatures to force the measure to a referendum. The legislation was voted down with 58% of voters voting against the measure. A resounding defeat for the bill.

My position on taxes like this is that they usually impact the lower income citizens the most. Consequently, I tend to be against these measures. I am all for a cleaner planet, which this measure was supposed to lead to. However, rather than punish people to get them to conform to the behavior you desire, I prefer to reward people to get to the desired behavior.

I honestly believe that most people would want to live "greener" so long as it did not have too much of an impact on their wallets, especially in troubling economic times. In most parts of the country, the results of this referendum would not surprise me. The fact that in a city like Seattle where the people and politics tend to be dominated by the more liberal wing of the Democrat party, seems to validate my belief, though I admit is does surprise me somewhat.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Got Milk?

The flatulence of cows is only a small portion...Image via Wikipedia

Back in May, I found an interesting article about how governement advisors in Britain were developing menus to cut out so called "high carbon" foods like lamb or beef. I cited it as another example of how insane the whole global warming cultists have become. The reality is that it is really more about controlling out lifestyles than anything else.

In another example of the insanity of the climate change cult, Tesco, one of the largest supermarket chains in Britain has decided to label some 500 items with the "carbon footprint" of those items. Their goal is to help customers make "green" purchasing decisions.

The first item that will receive carbon footprint labeling is milk, one of their best selling items. The largest impact on greenhouse gasses in the production of milk comes during the agricultural phase of production, primarily from the methane emissions from the cows. The labels will only appear on regular milk products and not organic milk. Apparently, the cows that are used for organic milk do not fart quite as much as regular dairy cows.
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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Candy or Food?

Candy Swap!Image by clevercupcakes via Flickr

I got my first job when I was 15 years old. It was for a local convenience store. For all but 4 or 5 of the 33 years since that first job, I have been involved in some way, shape, or form in the retail food industry. For many of those years, I worked first hand in the candy category. Plus before I ever started working, I ate a lot of candy. So, I thought I knew what would be considered "candy" and what was not.

One of the subjects discussed in the health care debate, is the issue of obesity in this country. Several states are passing taxes on those foods that are major contributors to the obesity problem. Foods that are under consideration are things like soft drinks, candy, and other high sugar products. For years here in Maryland there has been sales taxes on "non-essential" foods like candy, so this is nothing new for me. However, the state of Illinois has a new tax on candy and other products that goes into effect next month that is going to cause a lot of confusion for consumers.

The new law taxes candy at a sales tax at 6.25%, and food items have a sales tax of 1%. The potential confusion comes in how the new law defines defines candy, or more importantly, what isn't considered candy. Several items that logic or common sense would lead you to think that an item is candy can now be thrown out the window thanks to the logic of our government in action.

All my life, I have always thought that Twizzlers licorice was candy. Not so. Twizzlers contain flour and therefore, under Illinois law is considered a food product and not a candy item. Similarly, a Hershey's Cookies & Cream bar is considered food, but a Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar is candy. A chocolate covered raisin or nut is considered a candy, but a chocolate covered pretzel is considered food. Peanuts would normally be food, but if they are honey roasted they are candy. Very confusing, but what else would you expect from the government.
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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Brett Favre Signs With Vikings

Brett Favre in Confessions Of An NFL QB Drama ...Image by DavidErickson via Flickr

The day after Michael Vick was reinstated into the NFL, Brett Favre announced that he would be staying retired and that his NFL career was officially over. I thought to myself, "Thank God the drama that has become Brett Favre is finally over." A lot can change in three weeks.

Brett Favre is one of the greatest quarterbacks to play the game of football. I have always admired his style of play and toughness. I will never forget the performance he put on in a Monday Night Football game against the Oakland Raiders the day after his father passed away suddenly.

Over the last few years, the speculation on whether or not Favre would play the next season seemed to dominate the NFL off season. The last couple of years it has bordered on the absurd as he would delay his decision as long as possible, leaving his team in a lurch as to what personnel decisions needed to be made.

Each of the last two seasons Favre announced his retirement. In March of 2008, he made his first official retirement announcement. The Packers committed themselves to his replacement Aaron Rodgers. Four months later, just before training camp was to open, Favre announced he wanted to come back. Packers management reaffirmed their commitment to Rodgers and the relationship between Favre and the team soured. He was later traded to the NY Jets before the start of the season.

In February of this year, Favre retired again informing the Jets he would not return. In June, Favre said he was once again reconsidering his decision and was considering joining the Vikings. Just before Vikings training camp was set to open, Favre said he was staying retired. Last night on Greta Van Susterin "On the Record" Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty closed his interview by telling Greta that "Favre may still come to Minnesota." Today, he signed with them, ending his second retirement.

Favre can probably still be an effective quarterback in the league. Unfortunately his actions the last two years have tarnished his image in my opinion. Instead of being seen as a tough hard nosed player, he more and more has taken on the aura of a diva.
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Monday, August 17, 2009

Music Monday-Jimmy Buffett "Son of a Son of a Sailor"

Ocean City, MarylandImage via Wikipedia

I just got back from a few days in Ocean City, MD. Damn do I love the ocean. If I could find a job in a beach town where I could support the family, I would go in a minute. So in tribute to the sea for Music Monday is Jimmy Buffett singing "Son of a Son of a Sailor" live in San Diego. The video also includes footage from the USS Ronald Reagan.

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. One simple rule, leave ONLY the actual post link here. You can grab this code at LJL Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Health Care Thoughts

Blood testing in a medical facility in Ethiopia.Image via Wikipedia

Like a lot of Americans, I have been thinking a lot about health care. Without a doubt, there are aspects of the current system that need to be fixed. The question is how to go about fixing things. Polls show that the majority of Americans are satisfied with their current health care. The question is do you overhaul the entire system for the minority and possibly alienating the majority, or do you make adjustments to help the minority without negatively impacting the majority.

I have insurance through my employer, and for the most part I have been happy with it. There are a couple of things that have happened this year that have made me a little perturbed with what I have. Recently, I called to see if some lab tests would be covered or if I would have to pay and have the cost applied to my deductible. The answer left me somewhat bewildered, "It depends." Insurance would cover the tests if they were part of a preventative care visit but would not be covered if the doctor sent me because he suspected there might be a problem. Even though it might be the same test, it could be covered under one scenario but not the other. That doesn't seem to make sense to me.

The second one concerns a medication that my son's doctor has prescribed for him. The particular pill comes in either a 10mg or 20mg tablet. His doctor wants him on 30mg per day. The insurance company will only cover 30 tablets per month of either the 10mg or the 20mg tablet. So the insurance company, and not his doctor, is better able to determine the amount of medication my son should be taking? Again, that doesn't make much sense to me. His doctor, actually said we should vote for a single payer system because of this kind of denial by my insurance.

To be honest, I am not sure what the answer is. Daniel Hannan of Great Britain fiercely recommends that we do not go down the road that Britain has gone down. I know for sure that we need a change in the current system. I do not, however, trust the government to run our health care efficiently. They have yet to show, in my opinion, that they can run anything efficiently. Also, there are all the horror stories that you hear regarding the British and Canadian health care systems. All I want is for my doctors to decide what care needs to be taken and for my insurance to be consistent in covering the different options.
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Saturday, August 15, 2009

It's The Economy, Stupid!

Unemployment officially dropped to 9.4% last month from 9.5% in June. On the surface that would be a good thing, but there were actually more people unemployed. Due to the fuzzy math used in calculating the unemployment rate (I would blame the current administration, but in reality they all use this math) the rate dropped. The official calculation only counts those that are currently looking for work and collecting unemployment. It does not include those who have reached the point where they are no longer looking for work or whose unemployment benefits have run out.

If you have read here before, you may already know that I am not a fan of the cap and trade bill that passed the House in June. I believe that the majority of CO2 and climate change is naturally occurring and any attempt to regulate man made CO2 emissions will have little if any effect on climate change. Even the EPA admits that without global commitment to reducing emissions, that the Waxman Markey bill will have little impact on CO2.

The Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) recently finished an analysis of the impact on jobs and the economy from the bill. It is not good news. According to the report, between 2012-2030, the bill reduce the national GDP by $2-3 trillion. Manufacturing output would be expected to decrease 5.3-6.5% resulting in additional job losses of 1.8-2.4 million jobs. The study takes into account the potential new jobs that so called green energy could create. Let's not forget the expected increases in energy costs, 50% for electricity, 26% for gasoline, and 20% for natural gas. Higher energy costs, fewer jobs, lower GDP; not a good recipe for success.

A recent Rassmussen poll showed that 42% of Americans believe cap and trade will hurt the economy and only 19% believe it will help. In that same poll, 41% of Americans were at least somewhat against the bill, and only 37% are at least somewhat for the bill. The strongest feelings were on the "no" side with 25% strongly opposed and only12% strongly for the bill. A recent Gallup poll showed that a majority of Americans favored economic expansion over environmental concerns.

At a time when unemployment is the highest it has been in years, the last thing we need is to pass legislation that will further slow the economy and cost jobs. When the Senate returns in September, the climate change bill will be on their agenda as well as health care. So while more Americans are against cap and trade then for it, why do the Democrats insist on passing a bill that will go against the priorities of the American people? I would say that as usual, the leftist elite believe they know what is better for us than we do. So while the debate on health care reform is vitally important, let's not forget the debate on cap and trade.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Eagles Sign Michael Vick

Philadelphia Eagles helmetImage via Wikipedia

It took a little more than two weeks from the time Michael Vick was conditionally reinstated to play in the NFL for a team to sign him. I am not surprised that somebody signed him, but I was a bit surprised to hear it would be with the Philadelphia Eagles. I thought the most likely place that he would have ended up would have been with the Oakland Raiders or the Dallas Cowboys. Jerry Jones and Al Davis both have a history of signing troubled athletes, and Davis doesn't give a damn what anybody thinks about him.

The Eagles have Donovan McNabb as their starting quarterback, so they are solid there. They also have Kevin Kolb, who was drafted to be the heir apparent to McNabb. Kolb recently suffered a knee injury that is reported to be minor, but perhaps that spurred the Eagles to go after Vick. After two years out of the league, I would not expect Vick to vie for a starting job out of the gate. Most likely Andy Reid will use Vick in a wildcat formation as a possible runner or passer.

Vick can begin practicing immediately but will only be eligible to play in the last two preseason games. After that, Roger Goodell could fully reinstate Vick after the first four games of the regular season. With the possible exception of Terrell Owens, McNabb is considered to be one of the good guys. He also has had a relationship with Vick. Here is hoping that he can be a positive influence on Vick and help him turn his life around.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Les Paul: 1915-2009

Lester William Polfus (Les Paul)Image via Wikipedia

When I started playing guitar in my teen years, my first guitars were acoustic, a standard 6-string guitar and a 12-string guitar. They were great and a lot of fun. However, I always aspired to rock out and go electric. There were two guitars that I desired, the Fender Stratocaster and the Gibson Les Paul Custom.

I eventually went with the Stratocaster because it was the model that Eric Clapton played. A good friend of mine, who I used to get together and jam with on a regular basis, had a black Gibson Les Paul Custom, the same model that Peter Frampton played on the Frampton Comes Alive album.

The Les Paul Custom was designed by the Gibson Guitar Company based on ideas of guitarist Les Paul. Paul was one of the first to develop the solid body electric guitar because he was not happy with the sound of hollow body and acoustic guitars. Paul was so pleased with the guitar built by Gibson that he signed an exclusive contract with Gibson to use their guitars. The design was said to have "made the sound of rock and roll possible."

Not only was Paul an innovator in guitar design, but he laid the foundation of modern recording techniques. Paul was the first artist to use multi-track recording techniques. He experimented with recording multiple guitar parts, including some recorded at half speed. He also used overdubbing and delay effects such as phasing and echo. These innovations were the foundations that made The Beatles Sargeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and White Album possible.

The term "legend" is probably one of the most overused labels that can be applied to a person. In reality, it should be applied to the select few. Les Paul was one of the few, and truly deserves to be called a legend. We lost a legend today as Les Paul passed away from complications from pneumonia. His career as a professional guitarist spanned eight decades and he was still playing gigs earlier this year.

Below, is a clip of Les Paul doing what he did best. He is joined at the end of the performance by another guitar legend, Chet Atkins.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

You Be The Judge

Flat tire.Image via Wikipedia

Several years ago, I had a boss that was particularly irritating to me. He wasn't unfair, mind you, just some of his ways were very frustrating. I was on the phone with a salesman that called on our company and venting. He suggested that if I wanted to get even with my boss, I should take BB's and put them under the valve stem covers on his tires. The BB's would press down on the valve stems causing a leak in all four tires, and eventually, four flat tires.

I was still in my early 20's at the time and still somewhat immature. I never did it, but I did think about it. The mere fact that I actually considered performing such an act, I chalk up to immaturity. I am not sure what we can attribute to the alleged actions of Circuit Court Judge Robert C. Nalley.

Nalley apparently showed up for work at the Charles County Courthouse in La Plata MD only to find somebody parked in his parking space. The car in question belonged to a part time custodial worker in the courthouse. Two county sheriff's officer say they saw Judge Nalley letting the air out of the tires. According to reports, one of them recorded the judge with their cell phone.

First, the worker, Jean Washington, should not have parked in a restricted parking area. She should not have had to be subjected to having her car vandalized. Perhaps she should have received a ticket. At worst, her car should have been towed away.

Second, if true, is this the type of behavior we would expect from our judges? I can understand being upset if somebody is in your parking space. We have assigned parking in our townhouse complex and it irks the hell out of me if somebody parks in my clearly marked spot. However, I am not going to flatten their tire. First I will knock on the doors of my neighbors to see if a visitor parked their in error. Then I would consider having the car towed.

Seriously, if you were on trial, how would you feel about the judge's ability to render a sound decision when they let the air out of somebody's tire because they were in the wrong parking space? I for one would be a little suspect.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Zemanta Update

At the end of June, I started using Zemanta while blogging. It has become an integral part of my blogging. When I first started using Zemanta, I thought it would be a little experiment to see how it would work. It has saved me a lot of time and effort.

I use Firefox as my web browser. I was having way too many problems using Internet Explorer, especially when I got a virus that kept opening windows on IE. The great thing about Firefox with Zemanta is that Zemanta integrates seamlessly with Firefox. It will work with other web browsers as well.

As I type my blog posts in the blogger editor, Zemanta suggests links, photos, keywords, and related articles that I can add to the post with a single click. There is almost always a link suggested that I would most likely not have thought to add to the post. The photos suggestions have been a big help as well. For instance, the cat on the computer keyboard for my "Kitty Porn?" post was suggested by Zemanta. I still search the web for relevant graphics, but frequently Zemanta provides all I need.

In addition to the photo and link suggestions, Zemanta provides relevant tags to the article. These tags are SEO to help your posts in searches. Zemanta also provides links to related articles that you can review and link to in your post.

Zemanta works with all major blogging platforms and several email programs. It can also be used with other browsers besides Firefox. Give it a shot and see how you like it.
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Monday, August 10, 2009

Music Monday-Tim McGraw "If Your Reading This"

My choice for Music Monday is dedicated to those who have served in the military & paid the ultimate sacrifice and the families they leave behind. Tim McGraw and "If Your Reading This."

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. One simple rule, leave ONLY the actual post link here. You can grab this code at LJL Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.

PS: Because of spamming purposes, the linky will be closed on Thursday of each week at midnight, Malaysian Time. Thank you!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Nate Beeler: In Defense of Dissent on Health Care

I saw this on the Washington Examiner website this morning. I think Nate Beeler hit the nail on the head. You can put me in the camp of Thomas Jefferson.

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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Kitty Porn?

Opie thought he would find a kewl looking girl...Image by turtlemom4bacon via Flickr

What is that old saying? If you have an infinite number of monkeys typing on an infinite number of typewriters for an infinite amount of time, then eventually they could recreate the complete works of William Shakespeare. Something to that effect.

Well, if you believe that is a possibility, then I guess it is conceivable that the story of Keith Griffin of Jensen Beach, Florida could be believed. Griffin recently was arrested and charged with 10 counts of possession of child pornography after police found over 1000 images on his home computer.

Griffin claims that he was downloading music on his computer. He left the room and his cat jumped on the keyboard. When he returned, he found "strange things" on his computer. Apparently, Griffin is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. I mean really, the cat jumped on the keyboard while you were downloading music? I know in America people are innocent until proven guilty, but he ought to do jail time for coming up with such a lame excuse.

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Friday, August 7, 2009

Economics 101 & Democrats

Price of market balance, rebuiltImage via Wikipedia

I think I figured out why the Democrats do not like the free market. They do not understand it, and they do not have an understanding of basic economics.

Earlier this year, the House and Senate, passed a bill to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program. To fund the program, they significantly increased the federal excise tax on all tobacco products.

In a truly free market, the laws of supply and demand show that as the price of a product rises, the demand for that product will decrease. The problem with increasing the excise tax on tobacco products to fund a program like SCHIP is that demand for those products will decrease, leading to a shortfall in funding.

The National Center for Policy Analysis released a report this week on the effectiveness of the tobacco tax increase. In what was not a big surprise to me, the NCPA reported that the increased taxes have led to a smaller pool of smokers, leading to a decrease in expected revenue. In order to fund the program, Congress will now have to find other revenues (taxes) to do so. Duh!!

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

That's Gotta Hurt

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Or how about four women?

A married man in Wisconsin was apparently not getting enough love at home. In need of a little extra curricular activity, he started looking for love in all the wrong places, or at least on CraigsList. Well, dude found at least two other women besides his better half to fool around with.

Unfortunately, the little missus found out about his, er, hobby. She also found out who the other ladies were. Rather than confront her sleazy hubby, she got in touch with the other women and they devised a plan to extract their pound of flesh, as it were.

One of the women lured the horny bastard to a hotel for what he thought would be a little bit of a kinky massage. He apparently agreed to be blindfolded and bound with sheer sheets for a rub down. Unfortunately for him, the woman was not alone and did not have massage oil for his happy ending. Nope, his wife and two other women were there and instead of oil, they had Krazy Glue.

Instead of getting a little (in the immortal words of the Greaseman) "blessed relief", he ended up getting his equipment super glued to his stomach. Hopefully the guy has learned is lesson. If not, one word of advice to the guy. It could have been worse. Does the name Lorena Bobbitt ring a bell?

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Health Care Again

I wish I would have seen this prior to my post yesterday on my thoughts that the proposed payroll tax on employers that did not offer health insurance was a possible ploy to get businesses to drop health insurance coverage because it was cheaper to pay the tax. So I have to ask again. When Barack Obama says you can keep your employer provided health insurance, do you believe him?

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Health Care Reform Payroll Tax

Let’s talk a little bit about the health care debate. For now, I want to focus on one aspect of the proposals going through the House and Senate, and that is the proposed payroll tax on businesses that do not provide health insurance to their employees.

Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats keep telling us that the goal is to insure those people who are currently uninsured. They tell us that their desired “government option” is only to provide an inexpensive alternative for those who can’t afford their own private policy or those whose employers do not provide health insurance. The Republicans, on the other hand, tell us that the “government option” is strictly an attempt to force everyone into government controlled health care, or socialized medicine.

Obama and his cohorts accuse the Republicans of fear mongering. They insist that if you already have health insurance that you like, then you can keep it. They also say that if your employer provides health insurance then you will be able to keep it. Their plan is to implement a payroll tax of up to 8% for companies that do not provide health insurance benefits for their employees.

This proposed 8% tax on payrolls got me thinking. I keep hearing how much health care is costing employers, and how much it continues to rise each year. I know for myself, it seems my portion of the health care premiums seems to go up each year as well. The question I had in my mind was, “How much are employers paying to provide health insurance as a percentage of payroll?”

I found a very interesting report from The Kaiser Family Foundation website that covered statistics from 1999-2005. The data they used was based on the National Compensation Survey which looks at labor costs on a quarterly basis. They looked at a number different scenarios including number of employees and types of occupations.

Here are a few of the things they discovered. Keep in mind that the last data they used was from 2005, so we can probably safely assume that the numbers are probably higher today. First, in 1999, 38% of workers with health insurance had costs greater than 10% of payroll expenses. By 2005, that number had grown to 56%.
Next, when looking at companies of varying sizes there is a wide spread in the percentage of payroll that is spent towards health insurance. In 2005, the lowest percentage was 10.6% of payroll expenses was spent towards health insurance. The highest percentage was 14.2%.
So what do these figures mean in relation to the proposed 8% payroll tax? From a strictly business point of view, I can see a couple different scenarios playing out. For companies that are currently not offering health insurance to their employees, they would be subject to the tax. Since adding health insurance would increase expenses by greater than the 8% tax, I would expect that they would not add health insurance. Also, now that their expenses would be going up, it would be reasonable to expect that they would cut expenses, most likely payroll expenses. To reduce their payroll expense by the 8% tax, the easiest way is to cut jobs. That would work out on average to losing 1 of 12 positions within a business.

The next scenario would be for companies that are currently offering health insurance. If I am a business owner who is offering health insurance, that expense is currently running 10-14% of my payroll. I could cut my expenses from 10-14% of my payroll to only 8% of my payroll by eliminating employer provided health insurance and paying the new tax. A pretty tempting proposition.

It took me less than half an hour to find this information on how much businesses are paying for health insurance for their employees. Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats are not stupid people. I would be fairly confident that they know these numbers. What better way to force businesses to stop providing health insurance to their employees, thus forcing them to the government plan, than to give business a financial incentive to do so. So I have to ask the question. Now when Barack Obama says that you can keep your employer provided health insurance, do you believe him? I don't.

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Music Monday-Muddy Waters "Hoochie Coochie Man"

'MuddyImage via Wikipedia

I love me some blues. Nobody exemplifies the blues more than Mr. McKinley Morganfield, better known as Muddy Waters. Muddy was regarded as the Father of Chicago Blues. His influence, however, stretched way beyond Chicago.

Muddy was one of the first bluesmen to use the electric guitar. He had a profound influence in the world of rock and roll. He helped Chuck Berry get his first record contract. Jimi Hendrix covered Muddy's "Catfish Blues."

Across the pond, legendary rock band The Rolling Stones took their name from his song "Rolling Stone." His songs were covered by The Allman Brothers Band, Cream, Foghat, and Humble Pie. Perhaps nobody was influenced more by Muddy Waters, than one of my favorite artists, Eric Clapton. I had the pleasure of seeing Muddy open for Clapton at the old Capital Center in Largo, MD.

Like a lot of the old delta bluesmen, Muddy led a colorful life to say the least. Robert Gordon wrote a great biography of Muddy called "Can't Be Satisfied: The Life and Times of Muddy Waters." It is a must read for any lover of the blues.

Here is one of my favorite Muddy Waters tunes, recorded at the 1960 Newport Jazz Festival. Nearly fifty years later, it hold up well. Enjoy.

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