Sunday, October 16, 2011

Obama and medical pot

When President Obama sent the justice department attorneys after the medical marijuana distributors in California and Oregon, many of his supporters were shocked. Some folks went to him and said medical pot was a good thing, and the states were cool with it, so there's no reason for the feds to get involved.

Obama told them that there were abuses, pot crossing state lines, people getting it who were not really in need. "But," the pot advocates pointed out, "These folks are going to buy it anyway. If they can't get legal pot, they'll get it illegally on the street."  Obama dismissed that as absurd.

After those folks left, some representatives from the Mexican drug cartels, waiting in the next room, came in. They said, "El Presidente, you handled that muy perfecto. Keep up the pressure on those damn amateurs, those fools with the licenses.  We are your supporters, and we don't have to show you no stinking licenses. Remember, there's 300 million in campaign contributions riding on you getting rid of our competition."

Obama smiled and assured them that he would uphold the letter of the federal law, that being his constitutional duty, and, "by the way, as you leave, drop off a check with my secretary."

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Prehistory of Santa Cruz, a parabull

Once upon a time there was a tribe of true believers. They maintained that all people were exactly equal and should always be treated as such, be they young or old, rich or poor, wise or foolish, good or bad. Only people who believed other than this could be judged and thus shunned.

This tribe was also a very insecure group. They all felt lonely and isolated, constantly fearing that no one else shared their views or their feelings. One by one they realized that if they showed their positions and feelings publicly, others would see and gravitate to them, thus reinforcing them and making them feel valued and loved.

So they elected to print their philosophies of life on signs, with no more than ten words, as most were semi literate at best. Then they would pick up their signs and walk around the village square and congregate with others with similar signs. From this a now well known question was born, "What's your sign."

Soon people realized that if they had many signs, each proclaiming a different facet of their belief system, they could interact with everyone in the community and thus be accepted and loved. Soon, carrying signs became the entire purpose of the community.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sacred /site! Oh really?

If you turn up soil anywhere, except perhaps Antarctica, you'll probably find some human remains. We've been spreading ourselves all over the planet for something in excess of 100,000 years (6,000 if you're a fundamentalist).  In essence, the whole world is living people above, cemetery below. After all, we don't bury folks up in trees.

Some local building project has been interrupted because of some Native American bones, approximately 6,000 year old bones. Some archeologist determined they were Ohlone, and thus contacted the remaining members of that tribe. The spokeswoman said these are her ancestors and can't be disturbed. I think of ancestors as going back perhaps ten generations. Beyond that we find ourselves in the deep end of the gene pool and have no idea who is related, or rather that everyone is related.

Naturally, these modern Ohlone folks had no idea there were ancestors buried there and wouldn't have, had not the builders dug them up. It seems a stretch, but then we've treated the Native Americans so badly that we know bend over backward to be respectful.

At the same time some Native Amcricans in Riverside Country are protesting another project. It seems that's the site of what they believe is where the world was created. Now, perhaps their preliterate ancestors believed that, but I'm sure the folks now protesting don't. I think we're all on the same page regarding cosmic creation (fundamentalists, please excuse me). 

The telling thing is that these folks in Riverside County built a big casino complex near this sacred site, but again, that benefits them, so maybe "sacred site" is a relative term.

While I think that there are at least as many bad developments as there are good, I think this sacred site argument is just shy of silly. However, if the rest of the world doesn't agree with me, there's a spot on Signal Hill in Long Beach that I'm going to designate as a sacred site. It's where I lost my virginity.

Monday, August 15, 2011

BART cuts cell phone service

A group calling themselves Anonymous hacked into the BART computer system because BART blocked cell phone service underground for a time. This ostensibly had to do with free speech. Free speech means you have the right to stand up and say what you want, even print it and hand it out. However, there's another "free" in free speech. The newspapers are not obliged to print your rant, unless you elect to pay for space. The same applies to radio and TV. 

Cell phone service is just that, a service, provided by businesses. If BART provides it in their tunnel system, it's a service, just as a glass of water at a restaurant, or a bench at a bus stop. BART is under no obligation to provide anything other than safe and reliable  transportation from point A to point B. The rest is a perk for riders. They could offer glasses of wine and movies if they choose, perhaps even circus acts, but these would not suddenly become a right.

These anarchist groups seem to want it both ways: no rules and regulations, but all services real or imagined, free of charge.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

new retirement plan

The debate about social security, Medicare and pension programs keeps heating up, and I'm concerned that, at this rate, my so called golden years might end up being brass plate.

What assurance do I have that when I'm put out to pasture, there will be some grass on said pasture?  Well, the days of sitting back and believing that the government will take care of me are over. I've got to be proactive.

I've found a simple solution. I'll simple legally change my name. My new first name will be Goldman, and my last will be Sachs.  Whenever times get tough, I'll just call the White house and say, "I'm Goldman Sachs, and I'm a bit short this month. How about sending my a couple of million to tide me over?"  Naturally, I'll promise to pay them back some day when the economy is all rosy again.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The weird world of Goldman Sachs

William Cohan, a former Wall Street insider, was on the May 24 Diane Rehm Show, talking about the history and culture of Goldman Sachs. How the firm came to dominate global markets, influence the federal government and play a controversial role in the mortgage meltdown. He explained some financial stuff, which I totally didn't understand.

Goldman Sachs, among other financial firms, dealt in those weird mortgage things that everyone in the business knew were bad news, and which lead to the financial collapse. That was the first thing I didn't understand. The best image I could envision was throwing all these mortgage papers in a financial meat grinder, grinding them up together and then making something like mortgage hamburger patties out of it. But, with all that mixing, who decided where people sent their house payments? And for the people who invested in these things, what exactly did they purchase?

Another thing Goldman Sachs did was after telling their investors what good investments these things were, they put their own money in some kind of bet that these would fail and that the investors who trusted their advice would lose a fortune. Apparently, they were right, and they made billions while their investors lost. That brings up a couple more questions that boggle my mind.

How in the world do you invest money in something in such a way that if it loses money, you make a profit. If I loan the neighbor's kid fifty bucks to help start up his lemonade stand, I make money if he is successful. If he goes out of business, I lose my fifty. So, the more they lose, the more I make, doesn't make a bit of sense to me, but then I'm an idiot when it comes to finance.

Apparently, these big investors aren't much better. They invested in very risky weird mortgage thingies, while Goldman Sachs was betting they'd lose, and then when they did lose, they kept on investing with Goldman Sachs. That kind of makes people who keep buying lottery tickets look a bit less clueless.

Normally I wouldn't trust Goldman Sachs any further than I could throw their corporate headquarters, but in the interest of getting a story, I went to them with my life savings, $213.49, and asked them to invest it for me. Well, they wouldn't even give me the time of day, literally. After telling me they weren't interested, I said I had a plane to catch and wanted to know the time. They wouldn't tell me.

Monday, May 23, 2011

my advice to the President

In addition to my many other invisible talents, I've decided to become a presidential advisor. That decision came to me after Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's response to president Obama's suggestion that Israel return to its pre-1967 borders. "Mr. President, what would you know about giving back land and returning to previous borders?" 

Naturally, Obama was stuck for an answer, and that's where I stepped in. My suggestion was, "Yo, Pres, let's keep it real. Put your money where your mouth is."  Since he still had a confused look on his face, I explained further. "If we want them to go back to pre-1967 borders, we need to do likewise. Let's go back to our pre-1845 borders." 

He still wasn't totally getting it, giving me that lawyer look of his. So I continued. "We can give Texas and California back to Mexico. Tell them, sorry and just move away, taking all our US goodies with us."

Obama was shocked. "We can't just give up land we've settled, worked and made our homes."  At that point, I resigned as advisor, but not before making a final suggestion. "I hear you, Mr. Pres, but Ben, waiting in the next room, needs to hear that too."