Friday, October 30, 2009

Hello, Everyone. It has rained most of the night here--at times heavily. We expect more today. However, the temps have been a bit more normal for this time of the year. As it stands this October will make it on to the list of the coldest and wettest Octobers of all time. We have seen the sun so seldom this month we celebrate those rare occasions when we do see it.

Talk about celebrating--have you see all of the news readers and pundits celebrating the end of the recession. Every now and then I see one who is cautious about it but very few question the statistics and then not closely. You tell me--has this downturn ended for you? It certainly hasn't ended for us.

Here is a little item I found this morning that is not surprising on so many levels. Influence peddling and much too cozy relations between lawmakers and big companies and/or lobbyists? So what else is new? A preliminary report that somehow got posted to a public site? Again, what else is new? I do find it interesting how many of the individuals noted in the story as being under investigation are Democrats. Is that a function of the fact that the Dems have a majority in each house, or is it evidence of media bias? Interesting question since financial chicanery is an equal opportunity crime.

Mark Morford has an interesting commentary on the latest vampire craze. I can see where he is coming from. I also enjoy a good horror flick/novel/graphic novel. But even "back in the day" I was very selective. I liked Interview With A Vampire and Queen of the Damned. But most of the others didn't hold my interest. Some of them I read only because I got my hot little hands on them and was in the 'I read anything' phase. I am no longer in that phase and I wouldn't have read them now. Of the rest of his modern list, the only ones that caught my fancy were Blade (the movies), Moonlight and the original Buffy movie. But I wondered as I finished Morford's commentary if, in twenty years time, another commentator (a twenty-something now) will be waxing nostalgic about the cultural desert and wishing for something new, with real social commentary. Probably.

A couple of days ago I mentioned being intrigued by a story that, unfortunately, has an English teaser but was in Arabic. I found another mention of it today and found it in English. This author is mostly astounded by the shear number of unlicensed, traditional healers as opposed to legal doctors practicing in India. The original story was, evidently, on CNN.

A brief comment I heard on the news this morning has stuck with me. The mass transit authorities in Chicago have all experienced recurring financial problems for at least the last three years. For the last two the news has carried frequent stories about draconian layoffs and 'doomsday' budget cuts. Late last year, former (and now indicted) Governor Rod Blagojevich and the state lawmakers enacted a rescue plan that they touted as a permanent solution tot he problems. Blagojevich and a number of allied legislators insisted on including in the package free rides for seniors and then added, afterwards, free rides for active duty military personnel. They were told then that these measures would cause financial problems for the transit authorities but insisted on the legislation anyway. Now, thanks to the economic meltdown, those predictions appear to have come true and everyone is scrambling to fill the gap. A big part of the fight centers now on the seniors' free rides and proposals are on the table to rescind most of the free rides except for means-tested poor seniors. The comment that stuck in my mind was a man on the street interview with a relatively young man who saw the whole program as 'a transfer of wealth' to which he was opposed. To my way of thinking either option is a transfer of wealth. On the one hand transfer of wealth from the taxpayers supporting mass transit to the elderly many of whom would spend what they saved in transit charges to consumption in the neighborhood. On the other the transfer is from elderly riders to the transit authorities. Either way it is a transfer of wealth. The question--which is the better transfer? Also in the background is another transfer of wealth, and it is the one the commentator, I think, was most opposed to: the transfer of wealth from his pocket, in the form of taxes, to the transit authority and ultimately to the seniors, with whom he has no sympathy and no connection.

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