Saturday, November 30, 2013

Lehigh Valley International Airport Fees Going Up

LVIA directors are going to raise fees on the four remaining airlines by 10% to meet a dwindling budget.

Concerns Facing The Airport--
* The number of flyers are down even more then last year
* The airport shot themselves in the foot over a bad land deal.
* Fewer airlines are flying into LVIA (ABE).
* Rising employee & benefits costs.
* TSA is requiring LVIA to pay for screener personnel it's reducing.


This may be so, but the real problem is there are only 3 direct flights to Florida four days a week. Passengers going anywhere must travel through airport hubs located in Detroit, Atlanta, Chicago, Newark, Philadelphia or Charlotte. Travelers on these layovers could be facing flight delays. Maybe even cancellations. Then there's matter of money. For less money there are direct flights that can be had out of Philly & Newark.

It's reasonable to consider the problems facing LVIA. It's also equally reasonable to look at this from a airline passengers perspective. If one is going to be held up an hour or more for a connecting flight in one of those hubs, why not spend that hour in their car or bus to Philly or Newark where they can catch a direct flight for cheaper instead?

Couldn't be much worse then spending 45 minutes on being scrunched up in a turbo prop going to Philly for the same amount of time they could drive themselves. Same goes for riding a bus or driving themselves to Newark. Is it any wonder then that only about 20% of the Lehigh Valley flyers elect to fly out of ABE?

Raising fees 10% is not likely to improve an already bad situation. I can tell you from personal experience flying into ABE is extremely stressful. My former wife's 83 year old grandmother traveling in from Los Angeles had a stop in Chicago (O'Hare). She did it only one time and never ever again. We dove down to Philly three subsequent times both back and forth via a direct flight from/to L.A. to pick her up and drop her off.

On each of our cruises we were bumped from our connecting flights into LVIA. Both times we managed to get back on, but I was a wreck. Incidentally both flights were delayed over two hours. One flight was moved to three different gates in less then an hour. She & I were totally lost for a while in Atlanta.

Coming into Philly for our connecting flight to LVIA was no better. We had 10 minutes to make our plane two terminals away and we had no clue how to get there. If the wife hadn't met a lady who knew how to catch the runway shuttle to our 45 minute prop plane ride into LVIA we would have missed it, guaranteed. That may be normal travel to some, but for the wife and I it was hell for both of the only two times we ever flew. We both agreed we'll be damned if we'll ever do it that way again.

It took us over 7 hours to get from LVIA into to Puerto Rico for our cruise. We had to get up 4:30am so we could be at LVIA by 6:30am. This left us no time to eat anything. It would have taken us only 4 hours out of Newark or 3 hours and 50 minutes from Philly. We arrived so late in the afternoon we missed eating at the 'Wind Jammer' restaurant onboard before it closed . We didn't get to eat until after 6:00pm. We loved the cruise, but the hell started all over again when we had to return home. We left the ship at 10:30am and didn't get home (hungry once again) until after midnight.

I'm not certain how LVIA can increase business, but a coupe of things are for certain. They can't do it by making travel 10-30% more expensive and discouraging passengers by making it take twice as long to get where they need to go. I have a line of reasoning that goes something like this...* Triple the number of flights shuttling back and forth between Philly, Newark and New York airports. Forget the rest of the flights. They take too long. They are too expensive and there's no future for direct flights from here. Bag those buses!

* Make sure they're all jets. Turbo props are too small, noisy and slow.

* Over 4 times as many passengers opt out of leaving LVIA. Shouldn't that tell them something? That something being, there is a huge potential market for air shuttle services.


Why pay ground personnel to sit around all day for only a few flights. They'd be paid the same even after dozens of more shuttle flights were added?

Alternatively LVIA board members could go right on doing what they've always done (raise prices and spend vast fortunes of grant money) and pretend this time it will have a different outcome.

Here's a flash.
Air passengers don't go to the airport to eat or take in the architecture. They want to get the fastest, most convenient and lowest cost travel possible.

Missing the mark on all three of those criteria by the LVIA leadership demonstrates to me, they are unable to see the forest for the trees. This shouldn't be so complicated to understand, should it?

Virtual Bitcoins Carry Very REAL Risks

Bitcoins are only worth what people are willing to exchange for them. The U.S. dollar is backed up and regulated by the U.S. government as well as varying market conditions. Bitcoins' value on the other hand swings wildly singularly controlled by market forces.

Bitcoins don't exist outside of the digital world in which they are stored. More simply put, they are nothing other then lines of computer coding.

Trading on them is like buying and selling pixie dust.

All goes well until people stop believing in fairies.


Possessing bitcoins is basically owning a certain number of credits recognized by a relatively small number of other people. Market volatilities isn't the only thing which makes owning them finically risky.

Bitcoins can only be stored on computers. Each carrying a unique encrypted digital signature which is used to unlock them. A user can either store them 'in the cloud, on their personal hard drives, mobile devices or print them out. Each carry their associated risk. Printing them out would be like walking around with cash which could be easily stolen and only a minuscule number people will even accept them. 'Cloud' servers carry fees and of course mobile devices can be easily stolen. Therefore the safest methods are either to store them on one's own hard drive or on highly secure server based 'in the cloud' somewhere online.

Or so you would think...
According to 'The Raw Story, "A British IT worker has launched a frantic search of a landfill site after realizing he accidentally threw away a computer drive holding $7.5 million (5.5 million euros) in the online currency bitcoin." You may ask, couldn't the same thing happen with my accounts at the bank? NO. Here's why.

Banks store their account information on multiple disks providing a redundancy. Bitcoins on the other hand have to be unlocked by a method called 'blockchaining'. Unlike bank accounts bitcoins are tracked and encrypted with another layer of security with each transfer they make. This relies on each computer in the chain being able to send another unencryption key to unlock the previous layer before it. When one wishes to exchange or earn a bitcoin each computer (in the chain) has to remain fully functional.

The process is called 'mining'. Should any computer break that chain.. .

all gone!


This is true even when bitcoins (along with their encryption keys) are stored on one's own computer. Each computer in the chain must reference the other before it and remain unbroken. What happened in this case, when the IT worker tossed the hard drive, he broke that chain.. Same goes for when (not if) one's computer fizzles or the hard drive crashes and wasn't properly backed up. 'Blockchaining' is what makes bitcoins secure, but ironically also makes it their greatest vulnerability



Speaking Of Hard U.S. Currency
CNN reported "The federal government would save $4.4 billion over 30 years -- or about $150 million a year -- if Congress decided to go metal," However consumers made it abundantly clear they still prefer paper.

The report went on to say, "The Federal Reserve Banks hold about $1.4 billion in $1 coins -- enough to meet the demand for the next 40 years." As good a plan as it is for the government, it's the opposite for everyone else. Have they thought this out at all?

Who wants to pay with a sack full of money? What person at the counter wants to count them? Surely registers can't hold them. Why should a man risk his pants following down or a woman's purse handle snap because of the weight carrying them around like an anchor?

Not when someone can simply whip out a 3 1/2" x 2" plastic card that can hold many thousands of dollars and be easily cancelled if stolen.

File this idea under 'what were they thinking' !


Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving Wrap Up

The True Meaning of Thanksgiving
Way back then the pilgrims were really lousy at farming. By Fall of 1621 the food supply ran out for them. Fortunately for them the Wampanoag Indians, who knew what they were doing, had a bountiful harvest. The Wampanoag Indians seeing their plight fed the nearly starving Pilgrims.

Therefore Thanksgiving day is observed as the day...
free food is handed out to illegal immigrants.



Speaking of handing out free food...
Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio inmates had the pleasure of sitting down to a Thanksgiving meal. It costs taxpayers 56 cents a serving. As many as 10,000 guests savored on such wholesome delights as the 5oz of tofu turkey they were served.


Chef Joe has already removed other condiments (like salt & pepper) months ago. That being the case, I've noticed the menu didn't include gravy. Hmmm, I wonder? Well I suppose if prisoners guests of Sheriff Joe find the accommodations lacking they should adjust their plans to be elsewhere next year for their Thanksgiving meal :-)


Presidential Pardons Aren't Only Handed Out To Prisoners
There's some disagreement as to who was the first President to hand out a pardon for the Whitehouse turkey. Be that as it may, one wouldn't think those that were pardoned and sent to the Mt. Vernon estate to live out their golden years would all now be dead.. every one of them!

According to CNN, "all the turkeys ever pardoned at the White House are dead, including the six already given a pass from the roasting pan by President Barack Obama in previous years." In fact all them died less then a year later, except for one.

For the 5th year in a row Jaindl Farms (Orefield, Pa.) has sent dressed turkeys to the White House. No one's quite certain if they were actually served, but this year President Obama clearly stated they will be donated to a charity in Washington, D.C.

One thing is certain. If your a turkey invited for a meal in Washington, D.C. for Thanksgiving you're a 'dead duck'.. so to speak. This is a far worse fate then just being a 'lame duck' in the Capital of the United States.

* It should be noted all the other turkeys that were sent to Washington D.C. on the first Tuesday in November are a different kind of species altogether. The two shouldn't be confused. One is full of turkey feathers. The other full of horsefeathers.

Damn Immigrants!

NBC World News: "Mexico deports US-born teenage hitman who beheaded for cartel"

According to 'International Living.com "approximately one million Americans live in Mexico". Many are living well on $20,000 or less. Health insurance is less then $300 a year and they get free meds.



Sounds to me like a bunch of Americans are slipping through the border so they can mooch on the Mexican government's social service benefit programs. Back in September 'The New York Times' reported Mexico City's foreign born population doubled between 2000 and 2010. U.S. citizens make up 3/4's of the million or so now living in Mexico. They range from executives to laborers.

Maybe Mexico should build a fence too so they can keep out (illegal?) Americans. Perhaps then 750,000 Mexicans wouldn't have to cross the border into the U.S. to pick strawberries if they could find work at home.


What's good for the goose is good for the gander!


PlayStation 4-- Not What The Maker Had In Mind



"I take you to be my lawfully wedded husband,
to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse.. "



Some guy though it would be a really swell idea at the time to broadcast his naked and passed-out wife live online through his PlayStation 4 after stripping her clothes off while she was in a drunken stupor.

We all know what happens when you post something on the internet.. IT NEVER GOES AWAY... not ever!

A PlayStation 4 cost from $399 to well over $1,000 bundled. Quite a bargain compared to a divorce and support payments.



Is Geo. Zimmerman OJ 2.0?

George Zimmerman according to Mail.com reportedly had "a 12-gauge shotgun, an AR-15 assault rifle and three handguns when he was arrested on November 18 at his girlfriend's house."

Is this more a matter of 'when' and not 'if' this guy's gonna pop one day?

What are we going to read next about this guy?
Him having a new clothing line featuring hoodies?

I've never seen this guy wearing a hoodie, not even a hat. Good thinking. Can never be too careful with all the nuts running loose out there!



Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Steve Schalchlin Singing His Own Composition
"My Thanksgiving Prayer"




The Choral Version With Lyrics
Performed by the SFGMC
with the Community Women's Orchestra

Both Videos Courtesy Of "Steve Schalchlin"

Steve's Blog




Pope Says Don't Be "Sourpusses"

Pope Francis, in a document told priests not to be defeatist "sourpusses".

He also said he was against the free markets having "absolute autonomy".

"Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system."



Wonder what the reactions will be from the 'sourpusses' within the 'Tea Party and politically active Catholic conservatives?

I'm sure they're not pleased.

Hey, it ain't like he running for office.
     He already got the job :-)




Girls Will Be Boys; Boys Will Be Girls

"Girls will be boys and boys will be girls
It's a mixed up muddled up shook up world..."

~The Kinks~


The Daily Mail reported on a Florida couple that got married She to he, ah... he to she.. Oh hell, maybe this video can explain it a bit better then I.



This may not be as uncommon as one might think. One of the guys I used to work with became a woman too. His wife, kids and the church he went to regularly didn't take it too well. She divorced him and the kids no longer send him a card on father's day.

Tough choice, but a guy gotta do what a guy's gotta do, right?


DEP Extends Comment Period for Delta Thermo Air

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
Dept. of Environmental Protection
Commonwealth News Bureau
Room 308, Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg PA., 17120



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
11/26/2013


CONTACT: Colleen Connolly, DEP
570-826-2035


DEP Extends Comment Period for Delta Thermo Air Quality Plan Approval

Wilkes-Barre – The Department of Environmental Protection today announced it will extend the public comment period for the draft air-quality plan approval for Delta Thermo Energy’s proposed waste-to-energy plant in Allentown until Monday, Dec. 16, 2013.

“This proposal has attracted considerable attention and we want to hear from those who have something to say,” Northeast Regional Director Mike Bedrin said. “In order to gather as much input as possible from residents and stakeholders, we have decided to give the public more time to provide their comments.”

A copy of the draft plan approval is available for public review at the department’s Northeast Regional Office, located at 2 Public Square in Wilkes-Barre, at DEP’s Bethlehem District Office, located at 4530 Bath Pike in Bethlehem and at Allentown City Hall at 435 West Hamilton Street. The documents are also available for review on the department’s website: www.depweb.state.pa.us in the “Regional Resources” section. Once in that section, users can click on the Northeast Regional Office link and then go to Community Information.

Appointments to review the draft may be made by calling 570-826-2519 for the Wilkes-Barre office or 610-861-2070 for the Bethlehem district office. The public may also make an appointment to review the documents at Allentown City Hall by calling the City Clerk’s Office at 610-437-7539.

DEP will make a summary of the material conditions of the draft plan approval available in Spanish at all three locations. Those documents are still in the process of being translated and should be available by next week.

To submit written comments about Delta Thermo Energy’s draft air quality plan approval to the department, mail or hand-deliver them by 4 p.m. on Dec. 16 to Ray Kempa, Permits Section Chief, 2 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18701.

Following the comment period, a response document will be drafted to address the public’s questions and comments.

To view legal notification of the extended comment period in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, visit. www.pabulletin.com

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Want Beer?

     There's a APP for that!

"Hofbraeuhaus" in Munich
>BR> Video Courtesy of Simon Pierro
'The Digital Magician'


Computer Updates & Me

I've mentioned how I don't do updates and have been getting along fine.


I've been cranking to myself how websites have been loading up their pages with all kinds of crap that's slowing down my IE9 browser. Well that's true, but it's also true we've moved up to HTML5 which IE9 isn't too fond of. Microsoft released the IE10 browser which is both lighter and designed to handle HTML5. Well that explains that!

Into The Jungle I Go
I couldn't download IE10 because SP 1 wasn't installed on my Windows 7. The solution seemed a simple matter. I'll check for updates and download only the SP1... or so I thought. Turns out I couldn't install that either w/o first catching up to the 154 updates I've been ignoring for so long. Soooooo, onward and upward.

Seems when a O/S is that far out of date 22 of the 154 updates fail to install. This required me to recheck for updates several times and finally I managed to get them installed. Whew, I finally was offered SP1 after that mess and installed it. Yahoo.. success!

Best I rescan and see if there are any updates for SP1. Yepper. 75 of them. Oh Joy. So finally after a total of 8 hours I finally was offered IE10. The end at last! So I downloaded, installed and rescanned for updates. Wouldn't you know it, now there's an IE11.

Turns out IE11 runs like grease lightening. Compared to the way things were for months around here, I found I could make my posts and visit websites in about 1/3 the time it was taking me.

So what's the lesson here?

When it comes to programmers and their software updates, ya' gotta'


Apes A Lot Like Man

NBC World News reports apes prefer watching food programs over porn on TV.

I did say 'a lot like man', but no entirely.
Humans wooing a potential mate usually start with a night out for dinner followed by a night of passion. In this way we're a lot like the apes. Food first.. bananas 2nd.

But I don't care what you say, when it comes to TV, humans are far more likely to be watching 'The Playboy' channel over 'The Food Network'.



And that's what separates us from the apes!

The Morning Call Is Desperate..

          For People To Read Their Paper



It's rather disparaging to see yet one more of Allentown's earliest business institutions being reduced to a fraction of what it once was. Is this too another who's day's are numbered?
          Ya' can't run a railroad if passengers aren't paying fares.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Flying This Holiday?



Quick Look At The News

National Enquirer: Casey Anthony Bankrupts Parents. A piece of advice to you parents out there. If your kid turns out to be a freaking liar in every aspect possible and their baby winds up dead, you're not obligated to screw up your life, marriage and finances for the rest of your remaining days on this Earth. Unless you also have something to hide?

Has Comcast become an airline? Looks like the cable company wants to add add a buck fifty per month to their cable bills by imposing a 'Broadcast TV Fee'. Hell at that rate I ought to start my own cable company. I'll underbid everybody else in the biz by advertising 300 channels for only $10 a month. Then tack on a 'wire rental fee' from the pole for $5. 10 bucks for every electronic device attached to it. Another $10 for each device that is required to make them work. Another 20 bucks just for my service and maintenance fees. Lastly a $2 transaction fee to help pay for my having to send a bill and process your payment.

Smoking can kill you. Especially if your a country music singer in a Nashville bar and the owner has a gun. Seems the country crooner lit up in a no smoking area. Apparently the owner of this saloon heard that second hand smoke kills. Seems like self defense to me. It was either the country crooner or the other patrons who's lives were in jeopardy.

Finally some law and order is being restored by the new government in Afghanistan. NBC reports that "stoning for adulterers may become legal again in Afghanistan". Of course this applies mainly to the women of Afghanistan who tempt these innocent men by wearing those sexy burqas. Face it, the men bear no responsibility in this adultery, married or otherwise. Who knows if these women even wear underwear underneath Who could resist such temptations! It makes one feel all warm and fuzzy knowing 2,000+ U.S. soldiers were killed and another 18,000 wounded to restore law and order to the Afghan government in this former barbaric region of the world.

It's being reported in the U.K Working At Amazon Warehouse Can Cause “Mental & Physical Illness”. Boo hoo. If British workers want to equate themselves to workers in Bangladesh that's their own prerogative. I was told countless times by my former employer, "We didn't come to you. You came to us". I doubt union organizers in the 40's would take these bellyachers serious either if they don't stand up for themselves. There are only three choices they must make for themselves. Do something about it, quit or stop whining.

Then there's this. "Weight limit may render emergency contraceptive pills ineffective for average American woman". So men, if you don't want to have your woman become a baby mama, stick with women who weigh less then 165 lbs. Alternatively one could change their sexual preferences. What remains are those other oral arguments of what's best for each individual . Otherwise men should restrict themselves to having a rendezvous with Rosie Palms. For you overweight women may I suggest keep your legs crossed and hope that a medical solution may be forthcoming. Otherwise refer to what I suggested to the men folk :-)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Nuke Deal With Iran- A Perspective Analysis

Before the ink was dry critics of the Obama administration started comparing this deal to those of Neville Chamberlain with Adolph Hitler. I'm not going to go on a long discourse on that nor the treaty itself. Instead let's take a look a the larger picture in an effort to put this in perspective.

First A Brief History
The U.S. first imposed sanctions on Iran starting in 1984. Then tightened them up again in March of 1995. On June 24th, 2010 U.S. President Barack Obama signed congressional legislation which imposed the toughest penalties up until that time. Since then President Obama issued three more executive orders in September 2010, May 2011, and November 2011 imposing even further restraints.

The nuclear enrichment program was restarted in 2005 when President Ahmadinejad was elected. As a result the U.N. imposed even tougher sanctions. Two in 2006, one in March 2007, two more in 2008, one June 2010, June 2011 and renewed those June 2012.

How's Those Sanctions Working Out?
Well apparently not too well. Since then Iran has continued to thumb it's nose by continuing to advance it's nuclear enrichment program. So that leaves us with two choices. (1) Continue the sanctions (which aren't working) or (2) hope they'd come around to striking a deal. Whether they came around because of a new President, the sanctions or the secret talks the Obama administration had with them, is a matter on conjecture.

For over 28 years the sanctions have been in place and things have only gotten worse up to this point. Presidential candidate Obama promised in his campaign he'd be willing to talk with Iran. Something no other president was willing to do. As a result of that we have this agreement which is only a starting point. For that the administration is being labeled as weak, ineffectual and Neville Chamberlain like in their dealings with Iran. I'll save that argument for another time. I want to speak in regards to...

Putting Things In Perspective
Almost running in parallel is the issue of North Korea. They've been sanctioned dozens of times and also continue with their nuke program. They too have not minced words and threatened all their neighbors. Just as we have with our dealings with Iran we've also refused to speak with them and they to us. The difference is they already have missile nuclear capabilities. Ones which can reach not only South Korea, but Japan, Guam, Indonesia and possibly Hawaii to name a few.

Chart Courtesy 'The Washington Post'


The there's Pakistan. Fox News ran an opinion piece: 'Enough about Iran, Pakistan's nuclear threat should be our top concern'. "All eyes are looking to the direction of Iran, but in the meantime, Pakistan has accelerated the build-up of its nuclear weapons arsenal, and has been hard at work fitting these weapons onto short-range ballistic missiles. Pakistan's nuclear arsenal already amounts to more than a hundred bombs."

In April 2012 'Sky News' published an Analysis: Threat Of India's 'Nuclear' Missile. "As the world's biggest democracy, an India capable of using nuclear weapons across continents poses nothing like the threat that 'rogue' states such as Iran and North Korea are perceived to do. India fought a disastrous border war with China in 1962 over its still unclear frontiers with Beijing in the Himalayas. This continues to fester."

If Iran were to succeed in it's nuclear ambitions it would join nine other nations. Four of which are not covered under the 'Nuclear Proliferation Treaty". As of March 2012 the BBC estimated that there's an estimated 20,000 warheads scattered throughout the world.

IN CONCLUSION
(1) Assurances that Iran makes aren't etched in stone. Neither is the treaty which has provisions in place should Iran fail to live up to it's commitments. Even if this turns out to be a weak treaty it is better then none at all. It is a start.

(2) There are already greater threats from other nations who already have the nukes. Keep in mind Iran isn't there yet. I'm far more concerned with rogue and unstable nations like N. Korea and Pakistan who's nuclear capabilities are fully developed.

(3) The reason these unstable countries got away with this is we couldn't manage to reach an accord with them. If there's even a hope of doing that with Iran, why shouldn't we at least try to before they fully develop a nuclear arsenal?

Throughout history peace makers have been accused of being weak or incompetent. Now President Obama is being accused of the same. So what's the alternative? Imposing another 28 years of sanctions and not speak to them while they continue to move forward with their nuclear program?

Other nations have expressed reluctance in their dealings with U.S. because every 4 years we shift policies from President to President. It's just possible, as a result of Iran's election of a new President, they may now too have a shift of policy? Had we blown them off and refused to negotiate it might have been a missed opportunity and we would never find out. One other thing this has going for it. If Iran is stupid enough to renege on it's pledge dozens of other nations sitting on the fence will be inclined to distrust and end up condemning them right along with us. We'd end up with more allies then we now have going into this.

Let's not kid ourselves. Not everyone in Iran is thrilled with this deal either. Many still hold it against the U.S. for our unfettered support for the dictator Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (The Shah Of Iran) from 1965 to 1979. Yeah we botched that. Let us not botch this by not giving it a shot. I'm quite certain how Americans would act towards another country if it was done to us. A lot of patience from all sides is required to make this deal work.

So far the Iranian clerical Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is onboard with the interim pact between United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia. If the Ayatollah and many Iranians are and many in this country are not. It says more about us then it does these Iranian hardliners. I'd like to think we are better people then that. Now is the time to prove beyond words and put into action the kind of people we claim to be. My hope is neither side disappoints.

JFK On The Issues

Over the last few days talking heads have been trying to repackage John Fitzgerald Kennedy's legacy as if his were more closely aligned with today's conservatives rather then today's Democrats. Nice try, no cigar!



Big talking points by Bill O'Reilly's and Rush Limbaugh are on how JFK favored lowering taxes. Bill & Rush have a penchant for taking a snippet here and there without explaining the circumstances and details surrounding them. Possibly they both feel their audiences are to simplistic, might become bored and easily confused by details. Perhaps they are right!

Cut Taxes. Raise Revenue. How?


While it is true taxes were eventually lowered by 26% it helps to put this in perspective. The top marginal rate was 91%. First we have to understand what the 'marginal rate' means. It is the highest rate taxed above a certain income threshold. It isn't the rate paid on a person's entire income. We use graduated taxes. Income for an individual is divided into sections each varying rates. In other words no one ever had 91% of their income taken for taxes.

That said, let's look at the circumstances surrounding JFK's desire to lower the top 'median 'income' to 65%. In 1962 JFK proposed lowering the rate in his State of The Union Address, but congress didn't get around to actually approving them until 1964, three months after his assassination. Which leads one to ask what led him to want to reduce income taxes in the first place?

In 1961 the United States was in a recession. In short, the economy sucked for the middle class when he came into office in January 1961. Kennedy feared he'd be running into large deficits without offsetting his tax reductions. By closing a few loopholes he could counteract some of the lost revenue. Unlike today's republican controlled house which has blocked Obama's tax reform efforts.

Now let's draw some parallels between Barrack Obama and Kennedy. Both came into office facing huge economic challenges. Both wanted to reduce taxes. Both wanted to close tax loopholes that would lessen the impact on deficit spending in order to stimulate the economy. How would that make Obama more liberal and somehow Kennedy less so?

Bill O'Reilly's & Rush's flawed logic is based on lowering the top rates once again just like Reagan, Kennedy and Bush did. What Bill, Rush and other mouthpieces overlook is the current top median rate (combined with surcharges) for 2013 is 43.4%. This is about half of what it was under Kennedy and Reagan. They also overlook the fact that when George W. Bush lowered taxes below 39.6% (w/o closing loopholes) federal government went from surplus to deficit spending. Why would we want to repeat that?

As you can see Obama has a lot more in common with Kennedy then Kennedy would have with conservatives when it comes to this issue on taxes. Kennedy in no way could be considered to be conservative either then or now, no matter how hard conservatives pundits try and make it out to be so. Rather his positions would be in direct opposition to what conservatism stands for today. While Kennedy was in Congress he voted for... * July 17, 1956- Making Social Security benefits available to women at 62, instead of age 65. Passed 86-7 with 2 Democrats and 5 Republicans voting against.

* Raising Social Security benefits by 10% in 1958 Rejected without enough Republican support 32-53 (D 26-20; R 6-33)

June 20, 1958-- Increase taxes on large corporations Reducing those for small ones. It was rejected along party lines 34-45 (D 22-19; R 12-26)

* January 12, 1959-- Limiting the time for debate in the Senate. Rejected 28-67 (D 20-43; R 8-24)

* In 1959 Kennedy introduced the Democratic minimum wage bill in the Senate, backed by the AFL-CIO, which would raise the wage from $1 to $1.25 an hour and extend coverage. It was passed in the Senate on August 18, 1960 with a vote 62-34 (D 47-16, R 15-18)
His voting record, when he was in congress, makes his liberal values quite clear. Note that back in those days Republicans went along with many of those pieces of legislation. Today's batch of conservatives have little in common with those. They would most surely vote against what their predecessors once supported. All the more reason for Rush nor Bill to try and draw parallels.

A couple of other things that sets Kennedy apart from today's conservatives.. * In the 1960 elections Kennedy won 70% of the black vote as opposed to Nixon who received only 30%

* Kennedy supported but failed to get Medicare enacted even though Democrats controlled both sides of congress. It wasn't until 1965 when Democrats controlled the 89th congress by over a margin of 2 to 1 under Lyndon Johnson (Members in Senate D67-R33, Members in House D289-R136) Medicare became law.


SUMMARIZING
There is ample evidence to suggest today's conservatives would dislike just about everything Kennedy was in support of. It simply amazes me how select the memory of these talking heads are when it comes to re-writing history. Even the suggestion Kennedy would have more in common with today's conservative ideas over that in common with Obama's is just flat out propaganda. This is so preposterous I'm astonished they're even trying to shovel this BS that somehow today's Democrats have become far left loons over yesterday's.

This clearly demonstrates why learning from TV is different from library study. In the library 'fiction' is clearly marked. Although it does make for a strong case as to why antagonists are in favor of cutting funding for PBS.

For this and more information visit JFK Library.org

See also:
ABC panel laughs at Bill Kristol for claiming
JFK would be ‘more comfortable’ as a Republican today


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Student Loan Debt Hits Home 4 This Kid


Video Courtesy 'The Onion'


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Where Did JFK Stand On Healthcare?

Over the last few days I've refrained from posting about JFK since everybody's been posting Wall-To-Wall ad nauseam. But I feel compelled to present another aspect that's not been brought up anywhere else. His position regarding government mandated healthcare.

Although this address was specific to 'Medicare' I would think it's safe to assume JFK would be highly in favor of nationalizing healthcare. It's plain to see, this issue over healthcare has been playing out for a long time.

A Short Clip



The Entire 1/2 Hour Speech


Would those same people now calling Barack Obama a socialist consider JFK one too?
They sure didn't back then.

Course back then there was no 'Tea Party' or 'FOX News' unceasingly pounding away questioning JFK's motives and integrity day and night.

Speaker Boehner Enrolls In Obamacare

"The Ohio Republican says he had to re-start the process several times while spending four hours trying to sign up at HealthCare.gov." While we're on this subject, the #1 talking point for the past few weeks has been about people getting their medical insurance policies cancelled. Shortly before the Affordable Healthcare Act was passed, on December 24th 2009, this was a common everyday practice that had nothing to do with Obamacare.

June 17, 2009-- The L.A. Times: Blue Cross praised employees who dropped sick policyholders: "An investigation by the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations showed that health insurers WellPoint Inc., UnitedHealth Group and Assurant Inc. canceled the coverage of more than 20,000 people, allowing the companies to avoid paying more than $300 million in medical claims over a five-year period.

Another reason these plans are getting cancelled is because they are junk policies. Consumer Reports (May 2009): "Many people who believe they have adequate health insurance actually have coverage so riddled with loopholes, limits, exclusions, and gotchas that it won't come close to covering their expenses... An estimated 14,000 Americans a day lose their job-based coverage.

In September 2010 'Families USA.org' had this to say: about cancellations. "One troubling health insurance industry practice that has gained attention recently is known as “rescission.” A rescission occurs when an insurer retroactively cancels an enrollee’s policy (usually when the enrollee needs expensive care), blaming it on an error that the enrollee made.

Under the Affordable Care Act, an insurance company will be able to rescind your health plan only if you (or someone you’ve authorized to represent you on a health insurance application, including your employer) commits fraud."



COMMENTARY
Sometimes we all need to be reminded why healthcare reforms were needed. It's unlikely 'Obamacare' will fix all these problems. One thing is certain. When it comes to canceling and recessions, it is nothing new for insurance companies to do this. About the major difference between 2013 and 2009 is now they came blame Obama for what they've been doing all along.

It's important to understand that this entire current healthcare debate is based on the very same objections as those in 2009. The result is, rather then fix and adjust the problems with 'Obamacare', those opposed to it seek to destroy not only the plan but all those not politically aligned with them. In essence this argument isn't over healthcare as much as it is a war going on between two political parties. Each fighting to remain relevant. One side wants to take us back to the days before reform. The other struggling to make this work through patches and legislative repairs. Lord knows this Obamacare needs a lot of work, but will eliminating it leave people better off or not? That's the real issue!

I am totally aware there are a lot of people who aren't fans of Michael Moore. I ask for one moment that Michael's cynics set aside their dislike of him. Listen only to his words and what he saying. Pretend it isn't him. Listen to the words as he addresses the California State Legislature back in September 2009. See if you agree or not.




I ask you do the same with this video clip of Ed Schultz from July 2009...
Today's Talking Points Are Exactly As They Were In 2009



A FEW QUESTIONS WE SHOULD ASK OURSELVES
Were we better off back in 2009?
Is this more about politics then healthcare itself?
Is this the first time your medical plan has been dropped or altered forcing a change in coverage?
Were you ever denied medical coverage based on yearly or lifetime caps?
Before Obamacare came along, did you ever lose employer based coverage?

I genuinely believe this entire issue is more about Obama then it is medical insurance coverage.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Allentown's NIZ & Minorities- Point Of Observation

On Wednesday, November 20th 2013, City Center Lehigh Valley posted the following videos. Let's Play A Game!It sort of like the old video game called 'Where's Waldo?'
See how many minorities can you count in the following videos?
* Sorry, in this game players can't win any prizes. They've already been handed out :-)







Congress Separating The Wheat From The Chaff

If your doing alright for yourself, good for you. Consider yourself part of the 'Wheat'. On the other hand if your among the poor (working or otherwise), consider yourself part of Congress's Chaff 'Shaft".


"Congress cut funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program by about $155 million this year, and total funding has decreased from $5.1 billion to $3.32 billion since 2010."



COMMENTARY
I'm not going to go on a long tirade about what the government responsibilities should or should not be. I simply will say this. Any government that can't solve the inequities between those who make a sincere effort to work and still cannot pay their bills, is not worthy. I'm not encouraging government to hand out free money. All government has to do is level the playing field a bit. Either through raising the minimum wage or reigning in those who are taking an unfair advantage over others.

I'm not sure how far we can stretch the rubber band between the economic differences, but at some point things are bound to snap. The government can't keep letting one half sink without giving them a fighting chance. Then compound the problem by boxing people into a corner by cutting off the former lifelines like Social Security, food stamps, unemployment and heating assistance. This all the while giving breaks to the other half. It's like a parent who continually is sticking it to one kid while spoiling the other. At some point the kid who is getting screwed over will inevitably rebel.

People who are hungry, cold and can't make their paychecks meet their expenses month after month become desperate. Desperate people throughout history have risen up against their oppressors. This is exactly how our nation began. It was when our nation's 13 colonies became desperate and stood up against the King of England. It wasn't pretty and I sure as hell don't want to go through that again.

A Wiser man then I once said....
"The community which has neither poverty nor riches will always have the noblest principles."
~ Plato~


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Harry Reid On Changing Senate Filibuster Rules

The most significant point I take away from what Harry said today is, over the 230+ years a total of 23 district court nominations were filibustered. Yet just in the last 4 1/2 years alone there were 20. Don't anybody try and even dare to suggest that Republicans aren't trying to block anything and everything this administration tries to accomplish.


Damn Straight Harry. Makes Sense To Me.


I've always considered this filibuster stuff pure nonsense. I'm all for allowing legislative actions be expedited by allowing them to come to the floor for a straight up or down vote. Are you listening Speaker Boehner.. that goes for you too!

Hodgepodge Of Quick Thoughts

The Healthcare Roll Out
People are all bent out of shape about the web signup sites for healthcare. To date (November 2013) Microsoft has rolled out 100+ updates and patches for it's Windows 7 operating system and other various software on my computer. The first release date for the Windows 7 OS came out on July 22, 2009 for manufacturers of computers followed by it's October 22, 2009 release to consumers. In other words as of November 2013 this system has been updated & patched several hundred software items over the last 4 years. Wouldn't it seem after 4 years there would no longer be a need? Of course there is.

Why does everyone expect these exchanges to work flawlessly from day 1 when after all these years the Windows 7 software is still in need of patches? I don't see anyone demanding that Windows 7 be delayed until it's 100%. That's not how any software, hardware or websites work. If it were so Facebook, YouTube, Play Station, smart phones, tablets, automotive computers and all the rest of each and every piece of hardware and software wouldn't exists either. Nothing's 100%. If anyone thinks something is, they must feel pretty good about themselves when they look in the mirror :-)


Why Should I Help Pay For Some Else's Burger!
There was a study done that said, "taxpayers spend about $7 billion each year subsidizing the wages and benefits of fast-food workers." Why should there even be 'working poor'? Let's talk about raising the minimum wage. Let burger lovers pay a quarter more for their dead animal meat. I hear retail associates and cleaning people are not too keen on the idea of helping pay either.


Vancouver Has Banned Door Knobs
Why should the United States be left behind? Speaking of behind... while we're at it why not replace toilet handles? I don't want to touch those damn things, I don't know where your hand's been. On second thought, yes I do!


Want To Get There In a Hurry?
     I'll Fix That

In Philly speed sensors will trigger a red light on Kelly Drive. Why stop there? How about putting brakes on shopping carts for those zooming around cutting in front of others at the grocery store too? Why not reward drivers who are stuck behind a slow poke going 20 mph with a green light?

I've often wondered if enforcement was so concerned about speed limits why they wouldn't ticket someone at the next toll both when got there faster then the speed limit would allow. Seems like a simple matter to me. If it takes 60 minutes for someone to travel 80 miles they obviously were traveling at 80 mph.. duh!

I also envision a day when street cam license plate readers will measure someone's speed between stoplights. Oh yeah right, like I'm the first and only one to think of that!


Boeing Is Doing A Bunch Of Layoffs
The machinist union rejected "modifications to the current labor agreement, including cessation of pension accruals for current employees and the establishment of an alternative company-funded retirement plan" in Puget Sound. Now they're threatening to pull up stakes..

Pssssst.. don't tell these older workers Boeing just landed a $100 billion deal in Dubai. Boeing stated, "We have a number of alternatives" to making the jet in Washington state" although they didn't rule out keeping work somewhere else in the state of Washington.

I look at this way, there's a whole bunch of younger guys out of work who will no doubt work cheaper. Out with old.. in with the new, right?


Nobody's Died On A Water Slide... Yet
Is that about to change with the world's tallest waterslide who's construction image can be found HERE?

It's been my recollection whenever someone builds the largest ocean ship ever (the Titanic). The largest air ship (The Hindenburg). Tallest buildings (the Twin Towers in 1972). The most powerful rocket built in it's time (the Soviet N1 which exploded and was the largest non-nuclear explosion in human history). These things don't go well. But hey if someone wants to make a splash for themselves by being the first to die on the world's tallest water slide, be my guest. Whom am I to deny anyone the privilege of having their name go down in infamy.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Why The Public Distrusts Government

What the hell is going on with TV and it's hate for all things government & law enforcement?


Not only are the cable news networks pumping vitriol 24/7/365, but some of the most highly rated TV shows' storylines are taking the same path. I'm going to mention a few of the shows I've watched for several seasons without going to go into details concerning the storylines. Some of you may be familiar. Others not. It would take way too long to explain them.


Last night I felt totally left down by the ending of "Person Of Interest". Over the last several episodes the drama was focused on a bunch of bad cops instead of helping victims. This all came to a head last night with the killing of Detective Joss Carter. Looking ahead to the previews they indicated John Reese is going to go all Charlie Bronson and get revenge. Apparently writers have decided to take this show into a dark and hate filled place. Torture, killings and revenge have become common in each episode.

"Covert Affairs" is a ditto as well. The main character, Annie Walker has been pursuing Henry Wilcox to kill or capture. Everyone works for the CIA in this series. Henry is the ringleader for a bunch of corrupt high level CIA officials. And of course a lot of the blood of these corrupt CIA agents had to be spilled along the way. Again torture, killings and revenge have become the norm in each episode.

Storylines for "The Mentalist" either have the same writers or are mind melding with the writers of those others. Patrick Jane (the main character) has been in pursuit of 'Red John' over several years. In this season it was revealed the 'Red John' is part of an organization made up of a bunch of corrupt CSI agents, cops, jailhouse workers, judges and members of the FBI. Need I mention, once again torture, killings and revenge have now become a intricate part of this drama series too?

While "The Good Wife" doesn't feature torture and killings it certainly has it's own agenda when it comes to distrusting everyone the characters ever met. Alica Florrick, the good wife, it turns out isn't so good after all. She cheated on her husband with Will Gardner (one of the law partners in the firm she works at). Then after being made partner stabbed Will in the back by starting her own law firm. In doing so she and Carey stole a dozen lawyers from the firm she worked at, 'Lockhart & Gardner', along with a number of their clients.

Last Sunday night's storyline featured a federal prosecutor who cut a deal with an illegal Mexican immigrant to testy against a drug lord. It was inferred that the drug lord managed to slip back to Mexico (possibly) with the help of the federal prosecutor for the DEA. The prosecutor then canceled the deal and in so doing sent the witness back to Mexico which would mean he would get his throat slit and hung by the drug lord once he got there. Alica's group of lawyers tried to get this former witness off the bus before it would arrive 12 hours later in Mexico. They went through 2 judges, a immigration amnesty official and two agencies who couldn't give a hoot less. Once again making the government and it's officials out to be the bad guys.


Recognize A Recurring Theme Here?
In each TV drama a whole bunch of government enforcement officials are corrupt.

Forget about 'waterboarding', characters in these shows make that look like a walk in the park.

In 'Person Of Interest' last night detective Lionel Fusco was duct taped, slapped around and had 4 of his fingers broken. He ended up getting loose and strangling his tormentor (a corrupt cop) with handcuffs in the most gruesome scene I've ever seen on TV.

Is it any wonder Americans don't trust their government or care about other people? TV shows portray that somehow every enforcement agency is full of graft, corruption and can't be trusted. The TV news networks hammer away 24 hours a day, 365 days a year how awful this or that person or the government is. For cable TV news hosts it's become a contest to see which politician or celebrity could ascend to the top of the list with the most outrageous asinine hateful statement.

The wife and I took stock last night. We asked ourselves do we feel pleasantly entertained at the end of the shows we've been watching? Do we instead feel stressed out by being drawn into these dark places the writers have taken us? The answer should be obvious. We plan or no longer watching the shows I've mentioned.

A couple more are on the bubble-- "Once Upon A Time" and it's spin-off "In Wonderland" has been wrecking nearly every good feeling growing up we had about our childhood characters. I am aware many of these originally were questionable characters, but Walt Disney'fied them for us as we grew up. And that's my whole point...

At one time TV and film brought us happy endings. After we left the movie theatre or turned off the TV we were made to feel better about our own lives and the people around us. No life wasn't fantastic back in merry old England like the BBC and PBS portrays. PBS's masterpiece series like 'Downton Abbey', 'The Paradise' and 'Mr. Selfridge' does however manage to show the warm and personal relationships that were possible under the harsh lives they were forced to endure.

The original 'NCIS' TV series is still fun to watch with it's quirky characters' personalities. It's nothing like it's spin-off 'NCIS-LA' who's writers can't come up with a decent storyline without machine guns blazing, bullet riddled enemies and explosions


Final Thoughts
About 100 to 200 million viewers tune in to watch the sport of football over the course of a week. Over 10x's that of the highest rated TV shows. It's reassuring for me to know the majority of people are far more interested in sports. This rather then the airwaves cluttered with the derogatory news commentary or the programs who's main agenda seems to be making people violent and distrustful of everyone else.

No my tastes in TV viewing hasn't changed, but TV programming sure has. All one need do is look back over THIS EXTENSIVE LIST of TV shows from the 50's, 60's and 70's. None of them featured graphic killings. Good guys always did good deeds. They didn't do good deeds sometimes and not others in order to justify a means to an end.

Nor did most have running storylines trying to suck people into wasting their time coming back week after week, year after year. Most of these shows wrapped up their stories at the end of an hour or half hour.

They also limited commercials to about 15 minutes out of the hour. They didn't use 3 minute intros and exits. Between the two I can zip through the commercials for these newly recorded one hour shows in less then 40 minutes.

One final criticism. Today there are 100's of shows featuring competitions between people of every kind. Yet another way which serves to divide people. ha ha.. your a loser!

No, it's not very gratifying for me to watch one person or group belittled and sent packing. Am I supposed to feel delighted about that somehow? Well I don't.

This is why I spend more time now more then ever away from the TV set. Either with family, friends or poking around the internet. TV producers who keep this crap up will one day find themselves in the same position as AM radio and the newspapers which once were the mainstays in or daily routines.

We have 100's of TV channels and left with less then 4 or 5 hours of TV we wish to watch during the week. Are they trying for 2 or 3?

We no longer listen to AM radio or subscribe to the newspaper.

TV's now headed in that direction as well for this family.


UPDATE
Oh great!
I just read that 'Necessary Roughness' has now been cancelled. Yet one more reason and another step closer to unplugging the TV.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Michael Molovinsky Defender of Stone Bridges

Updated With Corrections: 11/20/22013 6:25am

Photo Courtesy :Waymarking.com


Michael has been repeatedly told why the old stone bridges have to go. It's because, he was warned, they are filled with all kinds of "junk".

Things like "rubble, dirt and rocks". MM posted on this topic HERE and HERE and repeatedly a number of times since. It appears he may be on to something that he may not even be aware of.




What's Old, Is New Again
It appears PennDot has now gotten on board using almost these same methods. It's called a "Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil Bridge Technique" in the rebuilding of bridges. This was not only the primary method used to build these nearly 200 year old stone bridges throughout Lehigh County but the same method employed by the builders for the 'Great Wall Of China' almost 2,000 years ago. Even the stepped pyramids were built using compacted layers of plant material and soil blocks!

Here's a video put out by PennDOT just yesterday



Even The Federal Highway Administration thinks this is a good method...


h/t to MM
Debate Michael Molovinsky at your own peril. There's absolutely no denying the fact these some of these newer built bridges needed to replaced 2 to 3 times since the stone bridges were first constructed.

Unfortunately far too many people tend to dismiss MM and the projects built by old timers. Those whom detractors claim had neither the skills nor were aware of the environmental consequences. Perhaps with these so-called new fangled "Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil Bridge Techniques" we can now finally appreciate both environmentally and a structurally how sound these 'old codgers' engineering techniques were.

Take for example the Albertus L. Meyers Bridge (8th Street bridge). It was opened on November 17, 1913. The 15th street bridge opened in 1956. The bridge on 15th over the Little Lehigh needed constant repairs and is being completely replaced right now. Who said the old boys didn't know what they were doing!

At least the federal and state government has the good sense to come around and comprehend this.

When U Marry A Broadway Composer/Actor...

.. this is what happens.

I not sure why this video posted over three years ago has gone viral recently, but it has. Over 3 million have now watched it. The video takes place at the wedding reception of New York attorney Vanessa Nadal to Broadway actor composer ('Into The Heights') Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Lin-Manual posted the following."My surprise for my wife Vanessa on our wedding day. All of Vanessa's close friends and family rehearsed for a month in secret, leading up to the reception. What we lack in polish, we hopefully make up for in joy and love. In any event, everyone in this video has one thing in common: We'd do anything to show Vanessa how much we love her.

A heartfelt thanks to all our friends and family who participated. Special thanks to Alex Lacamoire, who went above and beyond on the music tip, Sara Miller, for her incredible patience and choreography, Andy Blankenbuehler for letting us use his studio, and Films by Francesco, for filming and putting this together so quickly and beautifully. And thanks to Jerry Bock & Sheldon Harnick, for writing an unbelievably good song. L'Chaim!"



More Video Clips from The Wedding

Read More @ NYT/Weddings/Celebrations: Vanessa Nadal and Lin Miranda



I haven't seen anything this cool since the wedding of Lea Salonga to Rob Chen on January 10th 2004.

Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral (Los Angeles)



Highlights from the reception at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel + interview


Monday, November 18, 2013

Allentown School District Woes

"Allentown School Board President Robert Smith Jr. said this is the heaviest concentration of charter school applications he has seen in his 10 years on the board." For or against privatization the low down on all of this is 1,000's of students are or shortly will be educated outside of public school buildings. It costs the same to heat and maintain these buildings little dependant on the number housed in them. It also requires the public school administration to provide oversight adding to the costs for the ASD.

There is also some basis for argument whether it costs more for public school educator's pensions over that of the profits that can be made by these private charter schools.

The matter of separation of church and state also becomes another factor for many who either support or don't support private education. Should taxpayers be required to pay for students who are receiving an education at a religiously affiliated chartered school?


"Pa. state Rep. Mike Schlossberg talks with Superintendent Dr. C. Russell Mayo about how the Allentown School District is facing the challenges of educating children with reduced funding and competition from charter and cyber schools."