Monday, December 31, 2018

My Thoughts On The Upcoming New Year

Last year I said, "Here's to hoping 2018 will be a more compassionate caring and empathic world then the one we've experienced in 2017".

Yeah well we all know how well that turned out.

This year I have two words each of us should think about...

Personal Responsibility
Years ago when I attended what was then 'Central Jr. High' it's principle Carroll Parks had those two words plastered in every classroom. He also instructed teachers to explain what this meant. I think it was as good a lesson back then and it is now. What I would like everyone reading this to ponder is what those two words mean to you. For me it means... * Depending on others or drugs for happiness is not a good option.
* Everything I feel entitled to should come through my own efforts.
* If I screw up the first thing I need to do is take responsibility for it. Then do something about it so I don't repeat it--including an apology if necessary.
In 2018 a lot of the misery was based on peoples refusal to accept reasonability. It was a year filled with all kinds of finger pointing ranging from politics to road rage. Neither you nor I can change the world. What each of us can do is change our attitudes towards adversity. If we can't even manage changing ourselves how could we ever expect to change the world?

Realistically I don't expect next year to be different then the last but it's still worth repeating Michael Jackson's message over and over again in the hopes one day his words may finally sink in.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Immigration- Round And Round We Go

Obama to Use Executive Action to Secure Southern US Border (06/2014)

Oh my-- was that Trump or Obama speaking?

Let us not pretend this is something new. What is new is the way this president carries on like he's the only one who has ever had to deal with this problem. Shutting down the government and screaming at Democrats is not the answer.

Obama had to deal with inaction for 6 years under Republican control of congress while Trump has been only dealing with them for the last 2 years. Instead of a childish hissy fit maybe Trump ought to reach out to Obama and the two of them get together since they both are mostly on the same page. We pretend like there's some huge difference between the previous administrations over this issue when in reality there is not.

I could scream everytime I hear-- Republicans or Democrats are this or that. Damnit we're all Americans. Democrats are not alien invaders from some other planet. Neither are Republicans. But you'd never know it the way people are acting.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

"All I Want For Christmas" Charted Again This Year

Huffington Post
Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ Looks Like It Just Broke Another Record
"The song from Carey’s 1994 album “Merry Christmas” soared to the No. 1 spot on Spotify’s global top 200 chart on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day."

Yeah it did but here's the thing that annoys me. While by-and-large Mariah gets all the credit it's not hers alone. It was co-written by Walter Afanasieff who seldom is mentioned.

Walter Afanasieff's interview in 2014...
ASCAP writer-producer Walter Afanasieff has won multiple Grammys and written and/or produced some of the best-selling singles of all time, including Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On."

AND hundreds more! Including some for Kenny G, Michael Bolton, Savage Garden and Barbra Streisand to name a few.

The take away on this.
Whether it be in music, the movies or on stage it takes lots of people to make so-called stars look good. Composers, costume, makeup, writers, sound/lighting, set/stage designers, editors, computer programmers and all so many more. Without these working behind the scenes, unknown except to the insiders, there'd be practically no stars.

In other words it takes a hellva lot of people to make any one person look good. Same as it does in every other kind of endeavor whether it be in entertainment, the military, politics or any other situation where people appear larger then life.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Former Mayor Pawlowski Could Get Out Early

The president just signed the "First Step Act" allowing none violent federal offenders to get out early. According to Wikipedia... A prisoner, except for an ineligible prisoner under subparagraph (D), who successfully completes evidence-based recidivism reduction programming or productive activities, shall earn time credits as follows:

“(i) A prisoner shall earn 10 days of time credits for every 30 days of successful participation in evidence-based recidivism reduction programming or productive activities.

“(ii) A prisoner determined by the Bureau of Prisons to be at a minimum or low risk for recidivating, who, over two consecutive assessments, has not increased their risk of recidivism, shall earn an additional 5 days of time credits for every 30 days of successful participation in evidence-based recidivism reduction programming or productive activities.
Former mayor Pawlowski was sentenced to 15 years. Let's take a quick look at the math and see how this might benefit him. Under part (i) the number of credited days could total up to 120 a year. Under part (ii) an additional 60 days. So if Pawlowski were to meet both of these requirements he could reduce his sentencing by 180 days (6 months) yearly.

In other words by the end of 10 years he could be credited with 5 years off his sentencing under this act. In addition another 54 days per year credit for "good conduct". Meaning in a best case scenario the former mayor could serve as few as 8 1/2 years or thereabouts.

Flash Mob Hits Whole Foods Store In Lancaster Pa.

Published on Dec 22, 2018

Doing A Federal Shutdown The Right Way

If I were God of the universe this is the way I'd like to see the federal shutdown work. All salaries (with no make up pay) and transportation expenses be cut off for the president and all members of congress. This means no limos. No AF#1. The capital building gym closed. No nothing including their precious TV, magazine and newspaper interviews. Ignore them till they get the job done.

I tend to think that's all it would take. If not how about a fine or impeachment after a certain number of days for members of congress failing to do their jobs? After all isn't that what our employers would do to us if we failed to do ours?
No pain. No gain.
The problem is they no longer take shutdowns seriously. Since they themselves are unaffected they have no skin in the game. I'd bet things would change real quick if they did.

Of course this will never happen since they get to set the rules of the game. But wouldn't it have been nice if our founders had put it into the constitution? Course they never could have imagined leaders one day could wield such financial power over citizens.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

No Reason For The Government Shutdown

Oh we easily could blame Trump but truth is every federal politician deserves equal credit for this mess.

Both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate were equally content in passing a bipartisan "continuing resolution" bill forwarding it to members in the 'House'. It was at this point Trump pulled the rug out by threatening to veto it without the funding for "his" border wall. House members crumbled. At this point they voted and approved $5.7b more for Trump's border wall request. Then tossed it back to the Senate where everything came to a screeching halt.

Here's why I said there was no reason for this shutdown. Initially all members agreed to a simple clean "continuing resolution". Why are they now kowtowing to Trump's demands? Congress could override a Trump veto with 2/3rds a majority coming from both the Senate and House. Since they don't seem to have the guts to oppose Trump they own it too.

Congress has always proudly stated it's main power is that over the purse. Apparently not anymore. Of the three branches Congress is the most important one. They set the laws the president and courts must follow Sadly right now the courts and president are running the show because of congress's failure to agree on just about anything.

Our form of democracy is being tested like never before. Our founders designed this country so it would have checks and balances on each of it's branches of power. They never wanted neither the judicial, legislative nor the executive branches to go unchecked. If any one of the three fail to live up to their responsibilities the whole system is in danger of collapse.

On You're Own While Getting Shot At

New York Times (12/18/2018)
Officers Had No Duty to Protect Students in Parkland Massacre, Judge Rules
"Police officers, in fact, generally are not under any legal obligation to protect citizens who are not in their custody... “Neither the Constitution, nor state law, impose a general duty upon police officers or other governmental officials to protect individual persons from harm — even when they know the harm will occur,” said Darren L. Hutchinson, a professor and associate dean at the University of Florida School of Law. “Police can watch someone attack you, refuse to intervene and not violate the Constitution.”"

Does the same thing apply to another cop or the judge being shot at?

Look if all they're going to do is write a report up I could hire stenographers for a whole lot less.

Either I'm living in another universe or severely laboring under a misapprehension of how I thought things were suppose to work.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

22 Musicals In 12 Minutes

I really enjoyed the way each were able to change their voices and accents (especially Lin-Mauel Miranda).

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Emily Blunt & James Corden

What amazing talents!

Speaking of "Mary Poppins Returns"...

Monday, December 17, 2018

Allentown Property Taxes Rise 27 Percent

Allentown residents see 27 percent property tax increase
"For the first time in 13 years, Allentown residents will see a property tax increase."

This works out to an average of 2.07 percent per year. I'm not sure how I feel about this. On one hand that's not too terribly unreasonable. On the other, 27 percent in one giant leap comes as quite a surprise. What went mostly unrecognized Allentown's revenue nearly doubled over the last 13 years. These revenues mostly came from many other sources most taxpayers were unaware of. The problem here is this particular increase comes solely from property owners making this increase a lot more apparent. Thus becoming quite a hot button issue.

For most taxpayers this should amount to $25 a month or less. When I look back over my cable, car payment, insurance bills and others over the last 13 years they each went up a hellva' lot more. Rentals most certainly did. I bet so did most people's salaries.

Look, I'm not trying to justify whether this increase was needed or not. What I'm trying to point out is when you put this in perspective it isn't as bad as it sounds. Although it sure would be nice if candidates running for office would have been honest enough to prepare us for this so we could plan accordingly.

Once again I reinstate-- Rather then bitching them out, if anyone has any good ideas I'm sure council and the mayor are both more then willing to entertain them.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Saturday Night Live Is Tanking

Stick a fork in it...
Out of the three major networks 'Saturday Night Live' comes in dead last most weeks. There's a good reason for that-- they aren't funny. Not unless you find humor in making a dick out of other people. The other day I posted about the bygone era when comedians mostly made fun of themselves or some situation we could all relate to. Over the years SNL has steadily gone off the rails attacking public figures. Not exactly a great path to take far as I'm concerned.

Think back to the original cast. Laraine Newman, John Belushi, Jane Curtin, Gilda Radner, Dan Aykroyd, Garrett Morris, and Chevy Chase. Later on came Bill Murray, Al Franken, and Eddy Murphy to name a few. You'd be hard pressed to come up with any of their bits trashing public figures. If SNL did a bit on a public figure it was done with a good natured ribbing in mind.

I'll embed a couple of clips that show why SNL is nothing like it use to be. Maybe Lorne Michaels ought to take a look back and see why his show is tanking.


Friday, December 14, 2018

Not Too Late To Get Your Flu Shot

This post is a reminder if you haven't already it's still not too late to get vaccinated against the flue. There's been an uptick in the number of confirmed flu infections here in Pennsylvania.

Pa. Dept. of Health reports for the week ending 12/08/2018... 91 cases in Lehigh Valley
41 in Northampton County
A total of 1,245 cases throughout all of Pennsylvania

It will only get worse from here. Peak flu season is in January and February. However it can run late as March before it begins to taper off going into April.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Quick Fact Check Of Immigrants Still Waiting At Border

This immigration problem is being vastly overstated for political reasons.

Current estimates are there's only 2,500 immigrants still waiting to get in at our southern border. Each and every day it's estimated there are 6,775 deaths per day in the United States. The number of births per day around 10,829. Thus our current population growth is 4,054 people per day. This works out to 1,479,710 more people per year.

Even if we were to approve all of the original 5,000 immigrants they'd only represent a one time growth of less then .33%.

All 5,000 would amount to about half of the babies born in just one day.

We can think of this in yet another way. If all 5,000 were spread out across each of our states it would amount to less then 100 in each. Far less then most of our smallest towns and villages. Hell even less then the average size apartment complex for that matter. By the way.. Lincoln Financial Field's capacity is 69,176. Coca-Cola Park in Allentown capacity is 10,000 (8,100 seats). J. Birney Crum Stadium 15,000. PPL Center 8,500.

There's nothing wrong with reviewing our immigration policies, but let us not exploit them for political purposes. This isn't a national emergency. There are far larger issues to concern ourselves with. Like our financial support for the Saudi's ongoing war in Yemen. According to the UN and other sources, from March 2015 to December 2017, 8,670–13,600 people have been killed. A national debt of $21 trillion and growing. To name only two.

I consider this little more then manufactured crisis exploiting peoples' insecurities for political advantage. Protectionism at it's worst. Something evil leaders in the past hitched their horses to. Which had disastrous consequences.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Remember When Comedy...

* Didn't need to use swear words

* Didn't need canned laughter

* Didn't do politics

* When comedians only made fun of themselves

* When all of us could relate knowing somebody like this guy...

Talk about self-deprecating humor...

There's lots of ways to be funny without it being at the expense of others. Matter-of-fact the funniest stuff came from comedians making an idiot of themselves.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

A Nation Of Renters

We're becoming a nation of renters. I don't see this as a good thing. Car and home ownership is becoming out of reach. It's always better to own rather then be subjugated to the terms and conditions set by others who have their own best interest in mind. It's almost like being beholden to a master.

New vehicles have become so expensive many are opting to lease instead. There's a few problems as I see it. (1) In two or three years lessees are forced out of their much needed transportation. Sometimes costing them more at the end for things they haven't factored in such as exceeding mileage or vehicle wear. (2) If one purchases a vehicle they can determine when they can best afford another one. Who knows in two or three years what one's financial situation might be. Maybe hanging on to a vehicle for a few years longer would be someone's best option to avoid financial difficulties. (3) Scheduled maintenance is not an option for a lessee. I'll give you one bad example. My son leased a van. The dealer forced him in for an oil change. They overfilled it causing the engine to blow out the crankshaft oil gasket. They demanded he pay $300 for the repair.

Housing rentals are a terrible option.(1) Some charge extra or won't allow pets. (2) Nuisance complaints are handled by the property owner rather then police. Police can't evict people for noise complaints, outside decorations and the all so many restrictions apartment owners come up with. (3) Mortgages payments are spelled out contractually. Apartment owners can raise them to most anything they desire. (4) Twenty or thirty years after paying rent you are entitled to nothing. Owning something on the other hand means you have a tangible asset of value. (5) Even crazier yet is to "buy" a property and still be obligated to pay condo fees. In most cases it's a hellva lot cheaper to pay contractors for repairs and maintenance only when necessary

Don't think for a moment government isn't encouraging this. Some cities have relaxed their single housing zoning requirements. Here in Pennsylvania there have been a number of multimillion government grants to help developers convert so-called historic structures into rental units (including right here in the Lehigh Valley).

While I'm on the subject-- why become a rental employee? I'm talking about being hired by a firm subcontracted to employ workers for a company. Companies are required by law to follow certain rules for their employees. Companies are able to skirt many of these protections by the use of a subcontracted third party jobber. In other words legally speaking, temp agencies. Others hire their labor as independent contractors. Both which means such a worker is being rented out to them on a day-to-day or hourly basis under whatever terms of their choosing.

Seems to me...
We should never buy a new car we can't afford. Buy a used one instead. Hang on to it till you can afford a better one. Rather then rent try to find a mortgage that would be in line with what you now pay in rent. For a long time people bought a "starter home. After a few years flipped it for something better as their earnings grew along with the value of their home. As far as jobs are concerned-- no one should ever settle for less then being actually hired by a firm itself. Perhaps at the same time seeking to make themselves more attractive by acquiring greater skills. It wouldn't hurt to start up a little side business on your own either.

The point is all too many of us are allowing ourselves to become enslaved by making wrong choices. Anytime we allow ourselves to be indebted we become beholden. In order to free ourselves as much as possible we need to release those ties which allow others to control us by financial means whenever possible.

Friday, December 7, 2018

BB&T Eliminating Allentown Headquarters

Lehigh Valley While the bank said it will maintain a corporate presence in Allentown, there will be some other positions eliminated in Allentown as a result of the changes.

BB&T joins the ever growing list of those coming and going. These businesses, much like it's residents, are renters. Nearly every new property built is for renters Not ownership. No wonder so few are concerned with the city's future over the long haul.

In the 50's when Allentown was in it's heydays nearly every business owned the property they did business out of. This was most certainly the case with those who were displaced by the NIZ a few years ago. The way things are in Allentown it's more like a campground then a city. This explains why Allentown is the way it is.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Thoughts On The George H.W. Bush Memorial Service

Frankly I had no intention of watching. Now I'm happy I did. Here are a few of my reflections on the event.

This went very well with just the right amount of humorous anecdotes while still maintaining dignity of the occasion. I think #41 should be well pleased. Many of the old stories had Donald Trump laughing. Seldom something I seen him do.

Usually I don't enjoy the musical selections. However in this case I enjoyed each and every one of them.

This was billed as more of a celebration of his life rather then a funeral. Yes there were some heart rendering moments but those were inner dispersed with humor as each speaker recalled their fond memories of him.

Most importantly it was a 100% politically free event. Very refreshing considering the National Cathedral was loaded with current and past leaders of all stripes. Exactly what Bush 41 wanted. People to come together if only for two hours to experience the common bonds each of us can relate to.

He wasn't perfect. Nobody is. What this memorial service reminded me is each of us one day shall pass. One day we will be judged for the good acts we've accomplished and those in which we faltered. In the case of George H.W. Bush most certainly his good deeds will remain as a measure to those of us left behind. Let us learn from them.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

High Cost Of Meds

One more argument for national healthcare.

A LVCI Explainer

The other day while blogger Molovinsky was arguing with Bernie he took a veiled snipe at me. Even though I could care less what Molovinsky's opinion is of me it compelled me once again clarify a few things. (1) I never took a snipe Molovinsky. Why do that to me? The only reason I can think of is he doesn't like my opinion pieces.

(2) The definition of word "clancularius"-- anonymous; writing in secret; concealed; unknown. I'm the only one who writes a blog anonymously. It was my choice to include this word in the name of this blog because of my strong belief a person's stature or identity is meaningless over that which is being said. FACTS MATTER. Not who says them. Some of the greatest works ever written were published under pseudonyms. Honestly how many authors can you name who wrote articles which impressed you? I see no reason why I or my family should feel threatened by the all so many screwballs out there. Besides why should anyone really care who I am anyway? It ain't like we're going to become roomies. QUICK FACT-- none of the books in the bible were written by those ascribed to them.

(3) 90% of what people read in the paper or seeing discussed on TV are little more then copy/pastes from sources such as Reuters, the AP or other news services so I'm not so different from they. I never claimed to be a reporter. Most newspaper reporters only get published a couple times a month. It's simply too overwhelming to come up with this volume of material each month for any one person. That's why it's important to me to credit each of their efforts. Thus why I always acknowledge my sources through the use of quotes and the links to them. This is much like a bibliography many writers make use of.

(4) This blog singular purpose is to share my many interests which might relate to yours also. Sort of like a public diary of my thoughts. I'm not doing this for profit nor seeking to be the big boy on the block (competition with other blogs). Yeah sure it would be nice to hear more feedback in the comments but I don't need all the crap other blogs put up with that comes with them.

(5) Yeah I'm all over the map. I'm not the kind of person who can post day after day on any single area of interest. I have many. That too I've been criticized for. There's no reason to write something everyday for many of the things I come across. Only those which motivate me.

(6) Finally this goes back to my anonymity. Anyone wishing to contact me doesn't need my email, name, telephone number or address. I'm easily accessible. All anyone has to do wishing to contact me is leave a comment requesting not to be published.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Newspapers Likely Doomed

Newspapers could be on their way out. They're facing difficult business models making them decreasingly less profitable. Compounding this difficulty are greedy investors.
Free the Free Press From Wall Street Plunder
"These hedge-fund scavengers know nothing about journalism and care less. They’re ruthless Wall Street profiteers out to grab big bucks fast.

They slash journalistic and production staff, void employee benefits, shrivel the paper’s size and news content, sell the presses and other assets, and triple the price of their inferior product — and then declare bankruptcy, shut down the paper, and auction off the bones before moving on to plunder another town’s paper"

Reporters and news media face lots of challenges if they are to continue. People have demonstrated time and again their unwillingness to pay for online content. So too local advertisers share much of that same reluctance. Most people get their local information from social media. As do newspapers and TV in many cases these days because of staff reductions.

This may be fine for car accidents, assaults, robberies, neighborhood complaints and the like. However without a financially well off news organization having a robust number of investigative reporters this does nothing to provide oversight of government. Perhaps the very reason why the 1st amendment was enacted and that which should be their number one mission. Only robust well financed operations can afford to confront those who'd otherwise crush any individual or small group who tried to expose corruption. Indeed we do rely on government to take care of these things but it's the news media who calls them out when it fails to do it's job or when because of budget cuts government is unable.

Ok now we know the problem. What's the solution?
Well the first step is to break up these huge chains thereby making them less attractive to wall street investors. No group of investors should be allowed to own more then say two or three newspapers (like in the old days).

The second step would be to refocus almost entirely on local issues. These should be on the front page and at top of the webpage viewers first come across. In other words localize it. Investigative pieces should come first. News that will actually affect people second. All else behind those two.

Next comes the revenue problem
The first thing that comes to mind is reporters don't need a desk and office in a expensive building to get the job done. They could quite easily work at home or file their stories from out in the field. When needed show up at shared workspaces and conference rooms provided. About the only thing a reporter needs is a recorder and computer to get the job done.

A la carte pricing for various subscription delivery. For those online who wish to view advertisement free there'd be an offering for a small fee. Those who insist on hard copy home delivery there could be two levels. One the way it's done now (tossed out a car window). Another delivered right to the door with additional coupons and features published separately not offered elsewhere either online or at the lower tier.

Shared reporting. There's no sense paying separate reporters to duplicate the same reporting as another newspaper, radio or TV station. Why not coordinate? Perhaps several small independent newspapers, radio and TV stations could financially contribute to the formation of a separate organization to gather their news. This would also help offset the costs for expensive investigative reporting they'd otherwise not be able to afford. Sort of like a mini AP (Associated Press) designed just for this region.

Finally there is this.
Just what if all the laid off media people got together and created a commercially sponsored website? There's no reason why they couldn't create a startup offering a little competition to those who've shunned them. When Huffington Post started out nobody thought it would amount of a hill of beans. Look where they are today. Hey ya never know.

Never give in to defeat!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Some George H.W. Bush Videos

Bush Senior's Debate With Reagan On Immigration 1980

On Climate Change (1990)

George H. W. Bush Rally in !992
The election he lost

Of course I don't agree with everything he said at the rally but he sure beat the hell of what we're stuck with today.

Three things I remember most about him....
He knew how to win and when to start a war (Kuwait). What the objectives were, then get out. The man new foreign powers like few before. Reagan knew that too. That's why he appointed him as his vice president.

Thirdly, he valued family and people above all else.

My hopes for the United States is one day we shall have another leader as compassionate, well spoken and knowledgeable as George H.W. Bush was. I may not always agree with everything he said or did, but he was as fine a person who has ever lived. May the United States be blessed once again to be led by someone so great as he.