Thursday, October 29, 2009

Where is Jimmy Griffin when we need him?....and other thoughts

Some random thoughts on a snowy day in.....October?

We have received almost 2 feet of snow here in Boulder since Tuesday night, closing schools and canceling important things like Banjo Billy Bus tours (I was supposed to drive 2 today). Yesterday it snowed hard all day, which reminded me of Jimmy Griffin, Buffalo's crazy Mayor back in the 1980's. When a big blizzard hit Buffalo, Jimmy got on the TV and told everyone to "Get a couple of six packs and stay home". Can you imagine the uproar today if a public official were to say that? In fact, it was damn good advice (although, where is the beer going to come from?) and one of the more sane things "Hizzoner" ever said. He also once said that Buffalo's population had declined so much since it's peak in the 1950's because of all the abortions.

Being snowed in last night, I had the pleasure of trying to watch game 1 of the World Series, the Avalance-Flames game, and the Nuggets season opener. Made me think how this is the best time of year to be a sports fan. The Series is going, hockey has started, the NFL is in mid-season, and now the NBA. And, for those of you who care about college football, there is that too. Oh, and we have the EPL and Champions League on Fox Soccer Channel, along with the start of the MLS playoffs, for those few Americans who are fans of the World's most popular sport. This, along with my own busy life, is why I put my Netflix membership on hold in October.

There was a story in the NY Times yesterday about attempts to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana in California. It appears to be a serious discussion, fueled by the state's huge budget problems. If the Great Recession can get people seriously discussing this type of sensible policy, then it is worth the pain.

Those of you from Buffalo, enjoy the photo, taken moments ago from my dining room.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bloviators Backgrounds

Since, as we learned from the Balloon Boy incident, only people with their own TV shows matter at all in our society, it seemed to me a good idea to check on the backgrounds of the media blowhards on both sides who now seem to be more important in setting government policy then anyone who is actually an expert in such matters.

Being an Economics teacher, I was wondering what credentials TV's most well known talking heads have to speak about Economic issues, since, you know, they all know exactly what should be done. So, for the leading big mouths on the right and the left, here are their academic careers:
Glenn Beck: High School diploma, took one religion class at Yale.
Rush: High School Diploma, dropped out of SE Missouri State U. after one year of "failing everything".
Hannity: Dropped out of NYU and Adelphi

Olberman: BS in Communications from Cornell, which he entered when he was 16.
Rachel Maddow: Bachelors in Public Policy from Stanford.

(All info from Wikipedia)

Gee, other than Maddow, not a lot of background there for people who seem so confident on telling us what our economic policies should be. And you can see how liberals got that "elitist" label, what with them actually going to college and attending class and getting degrees. How dare they! And certainly we can believe all the conservatives when they deny that global warming is taking place, since, with their high school educations and all, they are clearly better qualified to speak on the subject then those elitist scientists with their fancy degrees and knowledge. I'm sure Rush learned just as much while flunking Ball Room Dancing.

So, the next time you here one of these talking heads telling you how to fix the economy or the environment, remember, they really don't know shit about shit.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sensible talk from a former Supply Sider

If, like the George W. Bush administration, you believe that tax cuts are the way to solve all problems, you should read this article by Economist Bruce Bartlett, one of the original "Supply Side" economists. You might also read it if you don't believe that. He helped shape the tax cuts during the Reagan administration. While he doesn't say those cuts are wrong, he does make some interesting points about conservatives adopted the ideas that tax cuts would solve any problem, and that the idea of "starve the beast" was nonsense. ("starve the beast" suggested that if you kept cutting taxes, government would have to shrink. It has instead helped cause our huge deficits). He also had some positive things to say about Keynes....very surprising for a guy with his background...and the idea of TARP.

It's a bit long, but very interesting least to me.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Our Murder Mystery Group in the Paper

The Boulder Daily Camera did a story on our murder mystery group yesterday, and even put some video from one of our shows at the Boulderado on Youtube. To read the story GO HERE. As for the video, I must call and thank the photographer for shooting me from a low angle, making me look even taller and thinner. Enjoy.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Dire Predictions, and wrong too

A week or so ago I ran into a woman named Ann, who I met back in 1995 when we both worked on the political committee responsible for passing Boulder's smoke-free restaurant law. We laughed about the dire predictions made by our opponents at the time, mostly the closing of all bars and restaurants in Boulder and the destruction of the sales tax base. Pretty laughable, particularly since, within months of the law's passage, investors started million dollar remodels of 2 downtown bars. In fact, Boulder restaurants found they could comfortably invest in making their places nicer, knowing that smokers wouldn't yellow the interior.

It got me to thinking about other dire predictions that never came true. Of course there is the original dismal scientist, Malthus, who predicted mass starvation as the population outgrew the world's food supply (he may be right some day, but probably not in this century). Then there were the conservatives who, back during the depression, were sure that Roosevelt's New Deal would lead to communism and economic destruction.....much like the Glenn Beck crowd proclaims today (I guess if you are a Beck follower you would say this has all happened already, but you would be nuts!). Sounds alot like the health care debate today.

I also seem to remember that it was certain that measures to clean up the environment would also destroy the economy. Didn't happen! Remember that one as the world debates what to do about global warming (which, contrary to the lies on Fox News, is not in doubt to half the scientist who study it, but only a few).

Since we crazy Boulder nutjobs passed our radical smoking law back in 1995, 21 states have now passed similar legislation. Oh, and the horrible results? Well, read this story from today's Denver Post to see what has happened regarding heart disease.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

More about oil money.

Yesterday I spewed out a not-very-well-thought-out rant decrying the idea that oil producing nations should get compensation if a global warming agreement causes lower oil consumption. I am not the least bit sorry for using the "f-word" to suggest an appropriate reply to this idea. I am a bit sorry I did not take the time to explain why this such a criminal idea. Fortunately, it appears, based on this book review in the Economist, that Peter Maass may be doing that in a book called "Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Oil".

Here is a fact: Countries with natural resource based economies tend to do far worse than those with more diverse economies. This is contrary to what we might reflexively think, but look at who is rich and who is poor in the world. Oil does not make a people rich, and in fact, according to Maass' book and most other studies, retards the development of the rest of the economy. Here are a few quotes from the book review, paraphrasing the book itself (I have not read this book, but hope to!)

Oil weakens the bonds between governments and people by flooding public coffers with money, removing the need for wise spending. And it rends societies, making them vulnerable to civil war

The recurring tragedy of oil is that it produces wealth but not what is needed most in poor countries: jobs. Once wells or refineries are built, they take few men to run them. So the money just pours out of the ground, much of it hauled off by foreign companies, and the rest sucked up by greedy regimes. Equatorial Guinea’s tiny population and recent oil discovery should make it one of the richer countries in the world. Its capital, Malabo, has a direct flight to Houston. Yet most of its people remain miserably poor while its cartoonish and bloodthirsty ruler gives himself a presidential Boeing 737 with gold-plated bathroom fixtures.

So, I guess what I should be wanting to say to the Saudis is....well, pretty much what I said yesterday, adding "...We'd be doing your people a favor by getting your country off it's addiction to oil money".

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Saudis want WHAT?

This story in today's NY Times says that the Saudis and some other oil producing countries think they deserve compensation from the rest of the world if oil consumption declines as a result of a global warming agreement. I can imagine only one sane response to this request: "GO FUCK YOURSELVES"!!!

Maybe the oil producing world could make that claim morally if, in fact, any of the billions they receive every year ended up helping the average resident. But most oil producing countries are in fact kleptocracies, where the few, well connected get rich off the oil, and the rest of the country goes poor, uneducated, unfed, and unhealthy. Very little of that money is invested in human capital, and human capital is what lifts a country from poor to rich. And I'm not even going to go into the fact that some of the oil money we send them goes into the pockets of jihadist terrorists!

So, we should say to these rich Saudi sheiks, "Fuck off you greedy, selfish, backward bastards". Not that I feel strongly about this or anything.

Calvin Trillan has the answer.

I've been a fan of writer Calvin Trillin since I heard on "Imus In The Morning" back in the early 90's. He has the kind of clever, understated, sophisticated since of humor that you seldom see any more (If you want to see it in films, watch the old "Thin Man" movies!).

In today's NY Times, Trillin has a piece speculating on what went wrong on Wall Street. The problem: Smart people started working there. Very funny, and possibly even true. Enjoy it HERE.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Nobel Committee "havin' a laugh"

As everyone knows by now, President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Thursday. This has given the mouth-breathing morons like Rush more reason to hate him, since those Nobel guys are pussy Euros who don't understand that the US was granted the power by God to tell everyone else what to do, so of course they love Obama, who, as we all know, hates America and wants to surrender to Al Queda.

However, this has left even many supporters confused. The only thing he has done to deserve this award is NOT be George W. Bush. While not being Bush is something anyone should be proud of (unless they are named Rumsfeld, Cheney, or Rove), it hardly qualifies Obama for this award. He's only been in office for 9 months, and was only for 1 month when nominated. It is pretty hard to defend his winning this award.

So the question is: What were the Noble people thinking?

I have a theory. I don't know who these Nobel pickers are, but they have this image as a bunch of very serious people who gather to give out serious prizes. But what if they are instead a bunch of guys who read Dave Barry, watch football, and enjoy a good laugh. They decided that, without anyone really doing anything to further peace in the past year, why not give it to Obama and see if we can make Glenn Beck's head explode, and maybe Hannity's too. It would also explain that they usually give the literature prize to the most depressing book they can find. As the English would day, they're "havin' a laugh"!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Invention of Lying

When I went to check on the showtimes for the Ricky Gervais film "The Invention of Lying" on Yahoo movies, I was surprised to see that the general public's grade of the film was lower than the critics. Usually this is the other way around, as people don't tend to go to films they don't expect to like, whereas critics have to see them all.

What was the problem? If you've seen the coming attractions, you expect a story about a guy who tells the first lies ever, mostly to get women. What the coming attractions don't cover is that the big lie in the film is that there is an "invisible man in the sky", and that after we die we go to this wonderful place and get a mansion. Understandably, most of the very negative reviews on Yahoo were the result of people seeing the film and being pissed that their faith in the invisible man in the sky was being challenged and mocked.

I found the film mostly witty and clever, and very enjoyable....but then, I am in the 12% of Americans who already know that the "invisible man in the sky" is a lie. But I do understand that 1) the marketers of this film did not advertise this story line, as questioning God in a religious society like ours is not the path to boffo box office and 2) that religious people were upset that they found out after paying their $9 that they were being mocked.

That said, I would ask the question to the religious: If you are afraid to have your faith questioned, how true can your beliefs be?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Good Luck Signing Free Agents, Rush!

Word is out that Rush Limbaugh wants to become one of the owners of the St. Louis Rams. Recall a few years ago Rush's short-lived tenure on ESPN's "NFL LIVE", where he was fired for saying that the media loved Eagles QB Donovan McNabb because he was black (It is a shame Tom Jackson didn't jump over the desk and strangle him!). Then there are Rush's constant racist rants against Obama and,....well, anyone else who is famous and black. Can you see a problem yet with this guy owning an NFL team?

I find it pretty hard to imagine that any African-American star on the free agent market will be anxious to sign with a team owned by a famous racist. I'm guessing about half the players in the NFL are black, so that is going to make the Rams one really bad, white team. I don't think many black fans would be wanting to give Rush their money either.

Of course, Rush would just claim that the black players were racist for not wanting to play for him, and his followers, with their Dittoheads up the Dittoasses, would believe him.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I bet you thought Boulder had healthy food!

A couple weeks ago I was in downtown Boulder looking for a snack, and stopped into a shop called Tea & Cakes that specializes in cupcakes ( and sells them for nearly $3!). One of the offerings was a chocolate bacon cupcake.....and no, I am not making this up or having a Homer Simpson hallucination! They make a cupcake with chocolate icing and bacon bits on top. For some reason I didn't try it, which is too bad because now it appears that this cupcake has made them famous. Watch the video below from The Food Network.

Go Rox!

Kudos to the Colorado Rockies for making the playoffs. In April and May they couldn't hit or pitch, and looked like a complete disaster. Then Clint Hurdle was replaced as manager by Jim Tracy and they went from playing way below their potential to way above it. Tracy will surely be named NL Manager of the Year. Somehow he got talented young players like Troy Tulowitzki, Ubaldo Jimenez, Seth Smith and Carlos Gonzalez to play up to their potential.

It's great fun being a baseball fan in a city with a team in the playoffs. Maybe this will create enough excitement that the local sports bar will actually put the Rockies Sunday games on one of their many TV's (unlike last Sunday!).

I can't imagine the Rox getting past the first round of the playoffs.....they swing at too many bad pitches and the bullpen has shown it's vulnerable. But, I really hope I'm wrong.