Friday, July 29, 2011

Debt Deal or No Deal

All sides have a share in the fault here. I'd once again state that Obama's advisors have failed him by not alerting him to tackling this when he caved on the Bush tax cut extensions. He is also a weak leader, and not having a plan of his own was a sad admission this week. I cannot believe a Democrat President is willing to cut SS and medica instead of discretionary spending. The fact that he nixed a deal the Senate Dems had worked out with the GOP is amazingly self-centered, but we shouldn't expect more than that from a guy who has written two books about himself. This is all a terrible kabuki theater act. We are broke, and the first step in tackling a problem is admitting it. Got gold?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Saying Goodbye to my Gramma

Last Sunday, I received the call that my paternal grandmother had died. I 'spoke' to her on the phone the Friday before which was me telling her I loved her and that it was OK to go. All I heard was labored breathing like the dying breath of a suffocating woman. It really burns in my memory. She died in her sleep, which somehow comforts me. I'm glad she wasn't aware of her death nor that anyone has to live with the memory of her dying in their presence. My 15 year old cousin had visited her hours before her passing, and I am thankful he didn't witness that as he cried streams of tears after saying goodbye. I spent a few days home, saw lots of family, paid my respects and realized this was a lot easier now than it would have been 10 years ago.

When I was growing up, I often said I had two moms. My mom and my gramma. My parents both worked and she took care of us, later to be 'helped' by my retired grandfather. She was awesome to me. She was in her 50s through my childhood, so she had plenty of energy to keep up with us and do fun things. She had also given up on parenting so my teen aunts and uncles had free roam, while she could be super gramma to my sister and me. She was fantastic. My grandparents were dirt poor, lived in the scariest house I have ever been in, but they loved me immensely. Because of their love and my grandmother's care and affection, I never needed anything more and never cared that they did not have hot water in their house even in the 1980s.

My grandmother frustrated me, too. As she got older and her health started to fail, and as I got older and could recognize her (and my grandfather's) bad behaviors, I would get upset even though I knew they always loved me. I didn't like her manipulations of my dad and aunts/uncles, but she was a person, not just my gramma. I encouraged my gramma to eat right, to listen to her doctors, to do the rehab the nurses recommended, and to stay on top of her Diabetes and Parkinsons. When her thumb starting to tremor I got on her to get checked for Parkinsons. Her answer was "it's just a shake, I'm old". I said "No it might be Parkinsons and YOU'RE MY GRAMMA!" She was diagnosed in her late 60s and thankfully, the meds she was on could keep it limited for years to one hand/wrist. She rarely listened to her docs. It was aggravating. I knew she had limited time. Why didn't she? This was a downward spiral of worse health, more isolation, and the eventual state of her being overmedicated (cholesterol, parkinsons, diabetes, anti-cancer drugs all at once) and a prisoner to her own body. Her mind was still there; she just couldnt move. Heck, she couldn't sit up straight. My wife met her 8 years ago when she was immobile but still peppy, talkative, sharp as a knife and funny. We noticed she wasn't like that the last few years. If someone had not seen her for 5 years, they thankfully missed the worst years.

- My grandparents would argue, mostly in good humor but sometimes angry, and the exchanges would break down to her saying "Up yours/Fuck you, Arthur" and flipping the smallest 'bird' ever, then he'd say "Jesus Christ Jeanie". I was age 3-9. For a few years I thought Jesus Christ's last name was Jeanie.

- My gramma said "I love you" every single time I spoke to her.

- When I told my gramma about my first love and how she broke up with me, she said, "I knew you'd be like your grampa and fall hard, and she sounds nice but any girl that would break your heart is one fucking bitch".

- She didn't drink because of the alcoholics she grew up in the same home with, and she didn't smoke because during the war they sent her down as a little girl with ration stamps for meat. She stood in line and when she got to the coutner she realized they were ration cards for cigarettes. She cried, the store owner gave the stamp booklet's worth of cigs and she walked home in the rain with other people's cigarettes.

- When I found out in 2004 that she had cancer, my first thought was "What if she doesn't see me get married?" and my 2nd thought was "What if she dies before the Sox win a world series?"

- I called her when the Pats beat the Rams, when the Sox finally won it all, and even when the Sox lost to the Yankees the year before in crushing fashion.

- My gramma cried during games 6 and 7 of the 1986 World Series.

- When I first got my license, I drove right down to tell my grandparents. They were happy for me, congratulated me, and told me to DRIVE SAFELY. When my kid was born 15 years later, I called my gramma and couldn't keep her on the phone longer than 45 seconds. That hurt. That showed me how much she had changed and how far gone she was. The gramma who beamed at me driving and later graduating college became the gramma who couldn't stay on the phone for a minute when my first child was born whom we named in honor of her husband. What was her social calendar for that hour, day, week? Wait to die. Her change had helped me move down that process of accepting her death.

- When people die, I think the prime thing you can do is honor their memory and sacrifice in what you do and how you live your life. A great thing for you is to both take on their best traits and behaviors and learn from their mistakes.

I'll end this with a memory that was a constant repeat. My mom would drop us off sometimes dressed sometimes in pajamas in our pre-school days. I was 3-5 years old. On days when she had time, she'd put my shirt on and let me dance around the room to music like Tom Cruise in "Risky Business". On days when she had less time and patience, I'd put my pants on and then she'd say, "get up on the bed". I'd climb on her bed and be about her height. She'd say "arms up, eyes closed". She'd pull my shirt over my head and in that second where your skin scratches from the fabric she'd give me a kiss. I'd say "Gray gray" (my name for her) all annoyed, and then we'd hug. After a while, I knew what was coming, and she knew that I knew, but we didn't say anything. We kept up that routine and always end in a big hug. I hope once in your life you love a child and they love you as much as we loved each other.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Quiet, Just Reflecting

I've been quiet recently as my paternal grandmother is facing death. This is the end, no question about it. As both grandparents will be dead on that side, it is a time to reflect on that side of my family, and the bits of family history that they have told me. I've prepared for this change and the coming loss. It still doesn't change it being a sad loss.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Casey Anthony: Why was Facebook on Fire?

Casey Anthony was a character in a made for court TV drama about a woman suspected of killing her daughter so it would not interfere with her awesome 20s lifestyle. She was found not guilty of murdering her child and even of child abuse/neglect, and the Facebook was not happy. Facebook was a great example of the public outrage as people might as well called for her head on a stick followed by the idiot jurors and prosecution team members. I have not seen such vitriol since W was in office.

Why? Who cares? This was a murder trial in Florida of the most horrific type crime in our imagination (filicide) by an attractive young mom, who then went out and partied for a month before saying the child was missing. There is a web of lies, and then a circus trial with the accused's mom playing a role in freeing her daughter. Yes, it is horrible, but it is one murder. This is the problem we run into with modern media and crime. While nationwide people knew of the Lindbergh baby or Lizzie Borden, murders like this did not get the nationwide media attention they do now. There also wouldn't be the Facebook friendly drinking and partying pictures to display of the horrible murdering mother. She didn't act remorseful on prison videos. She was 'bad'. We know too much and can be too connected.

It is a horrific story perfectly tailored for TV. It hits all of our 'oooh that's bad' buttons. The outrage at the not guilty verdict is also the release of pent up frustrations at our legal system, at the thought that there are two justice systems (rich vs. non-rich), at the oddities of family court, at the corruption elsewhere, reckless bankers that have not been arrested, and the knowledge of slaps on the wrist for other murders. Compare the Casey Anthony single murder to the Grand Rapids Mass Murder last week. The media showcased how one man murdered 7 people all because his wife was leaving him. His family blamed it on his bipolar disorder (which he received Social Security disability payments for), while others pointed out how violent he was and how many run ins with the law he had. We see that and think "why is he loose?". Some see it and think "Why were women having kids with him and dating him?". It's a far more heinous event than a single murder, but we can't scream for his blood as he killed himself. Casey Anthony was accused of murder and got off. She is most likely a monster who either killed her daughter or acted irresponsibly in a way that caused her daughter's death (suffocation by accident theory) and partied for a month after. Is she a career criminal who kills 7 people, including his own daughter, in a murdering rampage? No. Should we move on and focus our energies elsewhere? Yes. Your mental ejaculations on Facebook are worthless.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Mississippi vs. Colorado

Mississippi has the highest obesity rate while Colorado has the lowest. This little blurb reinforces a lot of well known things in regards to obesity stats, and even mentions how willpower alone is not enough to stay thin. I agree. Willpower combined with common sense on portion sizes, food selection and activity can keep a person fit. The scariest thing is that Colorado's obesity rate (just under 20%), would have been the highest of all states in 1995. That is 16 years ago.

Song Reaction: Last Friday Night

The recent pop release for Katy perry is "Last Friday Night", which my sister did not appreciate hearing with the 13 yr old and 1 yr old in the car. My wife and I were surprised, as my sister is not a prude so we searched for it online to listen to. The content of the lyrics are adult, but the context of a 'young' pop singer singing this in her teenybop way for the teen girls (and gay men) is what makes it a bit weird.

The beginning has house party imagery spotlighted by the stranger in the bed, hangover head ache, minibar smell of protagonist, and a Barbie (the doll) on the BBQ. Then the protagonist says it might be a hickie or a bruise, with pics online of the night, but just "oh well" and "it ruled". The imagery is of teen parties with plenty of bad adult behavior, but 'oh well' and hey it ruled. No consequences or fear. It will all work out.

Why?

Because the chorus and later verses. The chorus which talks about doing shots, not sure about sexual contact, maxing out credit cards and behaving so badly the bar kicks her out. THEN they streak, skinny dip and have a 3 way, with the chorus saying 'do it all again'. No consequences. The later verse references having a job, a car, and a party dress (adult items). The behavior is repeated, but now the subject is older. In the course of the song, the lyrics take you from wild child teen to wild child adult. No consequences. Do it all again, it will rule, because the worst thing that could happen is that the photos will end up online. Oh well.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

The Hippies of the '60s

Great article, here, on the '60s radicals by Mark Ames. I do agree that the '60s have been overly portrayed as a sex, drugs, fun period for radicalism, with the harsher element to the Yippies covered up. It does portray them more naive and innocent to future generations, easier to dismiss and mock, but I think it also covers up the radical and dangerous side that many adults walking around today can tuck away for polite society. The political robberies, shootings and kidnappings of the ;ate 60s and early 70s seem like from a comic book. Even the extreme eco-terrorist people don't snatch people.

"Hey kids did you know mom and I were part of a commune style living organization that occasional robbed capitalist pig banks to bring the system down?"

"Wait, what? You sh*ts don't even want me to write a bad letter to the principal out of fear it will go on my record!"

Ridiculous.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Book Review: Caesar's "The Civil War"

Modern political memoirs or autobiographies are self serving tomes of doucheness. As I stated in my previous Caesar book review, the man was promoting himself, but discussing awesome political and military events. Caesar's "The Civil War" is a continuation of the Caesar literary tradition. Caesar explains what happened, from his point of view, and takes you 'there' to the moments of action or decision. Yes, history teachers, it is dead white guy reading, but this man set things in motion that we still feel the effects of today. At 140 pages, it is a quick and educational read.

Caesar makes a note in this book which is different from his tales from Gaul. He says "I think", which is odd as throughout his writing he writes in the third person. When he says "Caesar decided" it is the true thoughts of Caesar as he is the one writing it. This slip is right after his defeat at Dyrrachium to Pompey. He is explaining why he thinks Pompey did not follow through and rout his forces after the defeat and retreat. It appears Caesar is recalling a moment that could have changed his and Rome's trajectory (worldwide even more than he knew), and it shakes him so much that he drops the third eprson cold narration to say "I think". Whenever he wrote this memoir/history, that moment became a more personal reflection than the simple "I'm the righteous Roman", "Here's my strategy" or "this is how the battle went". One simple passage, but I loved seeing it.

This is the type of reading that a classics or Roman history professor should assign for everyone to read. It is a great discussion starter as it kind of reads like Caesar was doing some CYA in case he lost, he could defend his law abiding reasons for his decision to battle. It also reads like he is laying groundwork for what he had to sacrific and his followers efforts if he did win and would rule a bit cruelly. Throughout the Gaul book and this Civil War book, you see that Caesar was always thinking like a grand strategist. He would use all methods to defeat an enemy. He would spare his troops where he could. He picked the best fighting conditions when possible. He understood and encouraged his men, and was merciful to fallen enemies. He also left out parts that were nastier or a bit tricky. It is fascinating to read. It also shows once again, why the best generals or leaders think multidimensional. They approach the Gordian knot with a sword in hand as Alexander did. Problems should be looked at from all possible angles.

Happy 4th

Enjoy the 4th with those you care about, and if you can't call them.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

OK Prudent Homeowners, Get the Pitchforks Ready

Are you kidding me? Read this. The big banks are now reducing principal on mortgages for 'at risk' borrowers, yet still can claim the loan is worth the original amount on their accouting reports. I am ready for the pitchforks, tar, feathers and assorted 18th century public shaming techniques for these banksters.

The DSK Sexual Assault Fiasco

Because I dislike the low value, big media attention of political sex cases, I dislike writing about them. I see them as sideshow things like the Rep. Weiner lameness. The media loves to sell that type of news, and doesn't put in the effort to follow up on Fukushima, the Financial Crisis origins, etc., which are more of a process than a clean quick event. I did want to discuss the DSK fiasco as it has worldwide impact, has a 'hit' vibe to it, shows horrible decision making by the DA's office, and shows how bad the coverage was initially.

- DSK was head of the IMF. He was the lead challenger to Sarkozy in France for the presidency. He has stated that the world might have to change from the dollar as the reserve currency, and Sarkozy is in serious trouble as the country was mad at his leadership in austerity measures that helped keep France solvent (for at least another year).

- DSK was arrested and smeared as every questionable thing he had done with women was dragged up. He's gone from the IMF. He is smeared enough to leave Sarkozy with no big, public face to run against. Magically, the IMF installs a new chief and the case then comes into question. They just waited to have his replacement secured, then started expressing doubts? How long did they doubt the story but kept it under wraps so he couldn't attempt to get his old IMF job back? Banksters need to have their way.

- Physically, men can easily overpower many women as the average man is 5 inches taller than the average women and much stronger (on average). DSK is 62, a touch on the short side, tubby, and supposedly overpowered a 30 year old who is 6 feet tall to force her to perform fellatio on him. Physically, this just doesn't make sense.

- The media portrayed the accuer as an immigrant who had come to America for asylum, who had two small children, was deeply religious, and wanted a better life in America. She left the room in a hurry which could be seen on security cameras. The media wrote how DSK left the hotel in a hurry and got on a flight to get out of the country. Rape and run; that is how it was presented.

- The case is now on the verge of collapse. The accuser has far more dirty connections than anyone knew. The accuser spoke to her man in prison and talked about shaking DSK down for big money. The accuser's story has changed multiple times, and has been accused of lying on the witness stand in front of a grand jury by authorities. Men deposit money in her bank accounts, and she has 5 cell phones in her name yet only uses one. The accuser's asylum story doesn't match up as she has claimed a prior rape.... that no one can find any record of. She did not run from the room, but instead cleaned another room aftert he supposed attack. The smear now is on her as the rumors are that she was assigned to that hotel as a maid/prostitute.

- DSK left the hotel, had lunch with his daughter, phoned the hotel to say he left his cell phone behind, and then got on a plane to go back to France, which he had planned beforehand. Either his is one cold eyed sick man or an innocent guy who had sex with a maid.

- The DA decided to arrest DSK, a high profile individual, without evaluating the story beyond the initial report. DSK would have to return to America as head of the IMF, and you damn well know France does extradite criminals (Sarkozy would love handing him over). They could have investigated this further before creating an international scene. Why the rush to arrest?

I originally was skeptical of the accusation, but wanted to wait for evidence like security camera footage and the rape kit results. Things did not add up early, and are worse now. My final take is that the bankers, the elite and the cartel did not like DSK's statements about the dollar, gold and bailouts. Sarkozy did not like him, and Sarkozy has been a nice buddy to the euro banks with the Greece, Ireland, euro issues. This was a way to eliminate DSK as a threat. This also creates headlines to distract people from the 2nd great depression and the Libya fiasco. The big loser: women who do get raped and fear coming forward. Odd cases or false accusers that get huge coverage (the Duke lacrosse case) create a horrible environment for true rape victims.

UPDATE: It appears surveillance video showed the accuser cleaning other rooms after the supposed attack, and then the security guys high fived each other and danced after the accuser made her report. This was a set up.