Sunday, October 10, 2010

Another Week Slips By

Another week gone and not much new to report. I'm still floundering around looking for work, we're still in Florida, Debbie is still plugging away at her job, I'm still in tax class, and it's still in the mid- to high-80's here in the Sunshine State. Which pretty much wraps up the week.

As much as I hate the idea of more regulations coming out of the Imperial City, I can certainly sympathize with the desire to force people to hang up and drive. I've been nearly run down twice in two weeks by people paying more attention to yapping on their cell phones than on where they are going and what is happening around them (like traffic signals turning red; they're sneaky that way). Of course, it would be nice if law enforcement set the example. I know, I know; that's just crazy talk.

Speaking of stupid people, there is a new book that I may have to spring for; The Dumbest Generation. From a review at The Boston Globe:

Second-graders who can't tie shoes or zip jackets. Four-year-olds in Pull-Ups diapers. Five-year-olds in strollers. Teens and preteens befuddled by can openers and ice-cube trays. College kids who've never done laundry, taken a bus alone or addressed an envelope.

Are we raising a generation of nincompoops?

I'm not sure I buy into all the gloom and despair; as the reviewer points out, some of this is the result of technology. My shoes have Velcro instead of laces and my sandals have Velcro instead of buckles and I have every intention of keeping it that way. A generation raised with Velcro shoes isn't going to know how to tie shoelaces any more than I know how to milk a cow or any woman under the age of 80 knows how to lace a corset (or even what a corset is). But when large numbers of people are incapable of personal hygiene or feeding themselves or simply getting through an ordinary day without outside intervention, there is a definite nincompoop problem.

Brazil elected an illiterate clown to its congress:

Francisco Everardo Oliveira Silva, whose clown name is Tiririca ("Grumpy"), got more than 1.3 million votes, more than twice the number of votes received by his next closest competitor. How did he do it? With complete honesty.

"What does a congressman do?" Grumpy said in campaign ads. "The truth is I don't know. But vote for me and I'll [find out and] tell you." He promised, in fact, to do nothing during his term other than finding out what they do in Congress and telling the voters about it, and voters seemed to think that was a great idea. Or they may have been swayed by Grumpy's slogan: "It can't get any worse!"

If this guy manages to actually take his place in Brazil's congress (there were attempts to disqualify him from even running due to his illiteracy), we'll not only have an example of an honest politician and the Worlds Best Campaign Slogan EVAAAAR; we'll have to stop calling politicians ass-clowns as that now seems to be giving them too much credit.

Here is a basic lesson in insurance:

Firefighters in rural Tennessee let a home burn to the ground last week because the homeowner hadn't paid a $75 fee.

Everyone is all upset because some hick "forgot" (yea, right) to pay for fire protection, and the fire department allowed his house to burn down. The fire department did EXACTLY the right thing. If the fire department allowed the homeowner to pay after-the-fact, why would anyone bother to pay? If AAA or Allstate allowed you to buy car insurance the day after you have an accident and fixed your car, how many people would bother with car insurance, and how long would it take to bankrupt the insurance company? For extra credit, what does this have to do with Obamacare?

This week's economic news:

The IMF utters the "D" word.
People with too much debt refuse to take on more debt. Damn them!
Record number of people on food stamps.

At the current rate of "recovery," it will take ten years to get back to December 2007 level of employment. That's a straight-line projection, not the more-likely U-shaped recovery. Even then, this will be the longest and deepest post-war drop in employment.

The stock markets, being completely rational, screamed, "Damn the torpedoes! Ramming speed!"

A second Chinese probe successfully entered lunar orbit. This was a backup of the first orbiter, but instead of doing a NASA and laying it out as a lawn ornament/owlery, they intelligently decided to go ahead and launch it. Their schedule is an unmanned lander on the moon in 2013, a sample return mission in 2017 and a manned lander in 2020. There is no law of the universe that guarantees the primary language spoken in space will be English. The writers of Firefly may turn out to be prophets.

And we need to get motivated and make a library run.

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