Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sex in The City

Kip and I decided to happy hour at a restaurant that happens to be very near Boulder's movie theater last night. Hoping to sit outside, I got there about 10 minutes before 5, a time at which you would expect to beat the happy hour crowd and get a nice seat. However, when I got there, the patio was already full. The seats were occupied by women, many overdressed for a Friday happy hour in Boulder, and many wearing expensive and uncomfortable looking shoes and drinking "cosmos". What was written on the chalk board outside the restaurant explained why: "Welcome Sex in the City".

Apparently the following of this horrible piece of crap TV show lives on. Many years ago, my friend Suzanne was visiting me, and said I had to watch this new show on HBO (I had HBO at the time because "The Sopranos" was on it.....turned off HBO every time a season of that show ended!). After 10 minutes of watching a bunch of rich successful women behave like bitchy high school girls, I had to leave the room. I would frankly rather have a vasectomy performed with a dull chain saw than watch another minuter of "Sex".

So, the question is: What would it take to get a heterosexual man to sit through the new "Sex" movie? It is almost 2 1/2 hours long, about an hour longer than a comedy should be. What kind of trouble would a guy have to be in with the wife to take her to see it? What would he have to be promised? I just can't imagine what it might take.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Is This The Way to Fix a Budget?

I had an interesting email in my Front Range Community College inbox yesterday. It was an explanation of what would happen with the paychecks that employees would normally expect in their checking accounts on 6/18. Those checks will not be paid on 6/18, but instead on 7/1. Why 7/1? Well, like most governments, the state of Colorado, for whom we teachers at FRCC are technically employed, has a fiscal year that runs from July 1 to June 30. The politicians decided as a gimmick to balance the budget for the current fiscal year that they would put off paying that last check until the next fiscal year, which starts on July 1. To a politician, a problem differed is a problem solved!

This policy does not effect me at all, at least in terms of a paycheck. But, it distresses me a great deal. This is an example of the way politicians deal with difficult problems by pushing them off into the future. Paying employees 13 days later will not reduce the amount of money spent by the state, just delay it to another year. Easier to push a problem to next year, then solve the problem with a difficult decision that might cost a politician an election.

While this example is not a huge deal, it demonstrates the long term, national fiscal problems that are caused by this type of thinking by politicians more concerned with their next election than with the long term financial health of the country. We have a ticking time bomb of a fiscal situation in this country ( see "IOUSA") that will require both cuts in benefits and increases in taxes. Everyone in Washington knows it. But they won't solve it, because raising taxes and cutting government programs are the 2 surest ways to lose an election. Better to let the next guy deal with it.

We should all develop a taste for souvlaki, because we are going to be Greece in about 10 years!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Another Beauty from Clarke and Dawe

Aussie comedians Clarke and Dawe did a thing about the financial crash a few years ago that was spot-on hilarious. Now, the take on the Greek situation....well, all of Europe actually. Brilliant stuff. Sorry, it doesn't embed, but please go HERE and enjoy

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Who is to blame for the Gulf oil spill? George W. Bush!

This story from the AP regarding the results of an investigation into the MMS, the agency that was supposed to be regulating drillers in the Gulf, makes clear the culture of corruption in the agency during the 8 years that the Bush Organized Crime Family was in the White House. I don't imagine anyone would be shocked that an administration of the oil industry, for the oil industry and payed for by the oil industry would, instead of overseeing the oil industry, enable it to ignore environmental hazards.

It will take this country a very long time to undo the damage done to this country in so many ways. Unfortunately, most Americans now blame Obama for the recession and the oil spill. I can't say he has handled all these problems brilliantly, but they were problems created by the worst President in this country's history, and the just plain evil Vice President who controlled him.

The real danger is that the GOP regains the power to continue their efforts do destroy our great country. The ultra-ignorant wing of the party is now in charge, and they are a far bigger threat to the future of America than any group of terrorists. I get really scared for this country when I see these idiots foaming at the mouth, spouting nonsense, ignorant of economics and history.

The Teabaggers on not much different from the yahoos who raged populist nonsense during the Great Depression. Yes, history often repeats itself, especially when people don't know enough about history to know what happened before.

A lot of my students like the film "Idiocracy", made a few years back by Mike Judge, the creator of "King of the Hill" and "Office Space". Watch it! Then tell me if it is not coming true!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Oh, those poor TV networks!

The much talked about "Lebron-Kobe" match-up that all the networks who cover the NBA is not going to happen, and now they have to sell the public on those noble old Celtics and what a great player Dwight Howard is. Meanwhile, the 3 hockey players most Americans may have heard of, Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and Ryan Miller are gone from the playoffs. A potentially great match-up in the between the 2 best teams in the west will go mostly unnoticed, particularly since you folks back east won't see the games come on until after 10. Pity. These teams feature some of the games most exciting players that you've never heard of.

This happens time and again. The TV networks give us a steady diet of a few teams or players, then find themselves at a loss when their anointed favorites don't make the championship series. As far as baseball goes, ESPN has been all Yankees-Red Sox for several years. Then they are left holding the bag when Tampa plays the Phillies in the World Series. I find it quite amusing to watch them scramble. I am sure NBC dreads a Montreal-San Jose final (I think those of us who watch hockey on Versus are hardcore enough to know how good the Sharks are). And keep the sharp objects away from the network execs if the Suns manage to eliminate the Lakers. (by the way, if you aren't rooting for the Suns and their classy point guard Steve Nash after they came out against AZ's immigration law, you have no soul!).

Hard to feel bad for the guys who suffer from such narrow coverage. Sportscenter has all kinds of time each night to cover sports, but will spend half an hour on where Lebron is going to play next year. Meanwhile, the rest of the sports world gets ignored, and when San Diego plays Minnesota in the World Series this year, you're not going to have any clue who those guys are!

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Census

I have several sources of income, but none of them usually provide me much work during May. So, when the Census bureau called and asked if I'd like to work for them, it seemed like a chance to earn a few bucks and have a new and interesting experience.....well, at least to earn a few bucks.

I spent last Monday through Thursday in training for a job called "Enumerator", which is actually what the Constitution stipulates that the government do every 10 years, enumerate the people in the country. This training included mostly how to fill out the many forms that you would expect any government agency to require, and what to do in the variety of circumstances you might encounter while out trying to count people.

While I am now prepared to do this job, it turns out I am unlikely to get any actual work doing it. Ten years ago, the economy was still at the end of it's big upswing that started in the mid-90's, and unemployment was very low. Therefore, there was about 70% turnover in the jobs, as skilled people could find better paying work. This year, he opposite is true, and the turnover rate in about 5%. That is for 2 reasons: 1) people are quitting less because other jobs are not available and 2) they don't fire many people because they are able to hire a better level of worker (like me!).

Here are interesting things I learned about the census last week that you should know:
1) The info is used only for counting, and the actual names and other information obtained from individuals can not be released to the public for 72 years.
2)Violation of the confidentiality law carries a 5 year, $250 penalty.
3)The nuts who refuse to fill it out, who are also likely the nuts who think they are defending the constitution by arming themselves and going to Tea Party meetings, should know that the requirement that there be a census is stipulated IN THE CONSTITUTION!
4) Here's the best part. It is absolutely illegal for the census bureau to share any info about an individual with anyone...the FBI, IRS,....ANYONE. So, the only way the census will bring the FBI down on a citizen is if that person threatens or attacks a census worker, which is a federal crime and will get you in huge trouble.

Anyway, it turns out that the count is going pretty well around here, and they are finished in many areas. If you didn't send in your form, then cooperate with the person who comes to your door. It only takes a few minutes. Oh, and make sure they have a bag that says Census on it, and an ID. And if they do ask you stuff about your SS# or bank accounts, call the cops immediately, because that is NOT a census worker. And whatever you do, don't shoot at them!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

When Will a Sports Hero Come Out?

There is an interesting story in last week's Sports Illustrated titled "The Only Openly Gay Athlete in the World". It is about Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas who, late in his career, has decided to quit hiding and announce that he is gay. This guy is a big, tough, established star, a hero to his fellow Welshmen for leading the national team to victory in international competition. Because of his status he has received little but support from fans and his mates since coming out late last year.

So, the question is, when will we see this in North America? Several players have come out after they retired in a few different sports, but we have still yet to see an active player announce he was gay. It is believed that about 10% of the population is gay. Even accounting for the fact that gays are probably discouraged from team sports by the macho culture in the locker room, and certain other professions (theater, fashion)probably attract more than that ratio, the math would still suggest that we are watching a few homosexual men when we relax on the couch every weekend. So when will one of them tell us?

Gareth Thomas fits the mold that you might expect from the first in his sport to come out. He is in his mid-thirties, and has been a big star for many years. He's made his money. His toughness and status as a guy who will fight for his team are well established. In our sports, it would take a Chris Pronger, a Brett Farve or Brian Erlacher, maybe a Kevin Garnett or a Derrick Jeter to be the guy (by the way, I am not suggesting that any of those guys might be gay). Someone like that comes out, he is not risking killing a career, and his status in the game would make even the most homophobic fans say "Hmmmm, he's gay? Well, I guess gay is OK". Of course, we still do have a bunch of morons in this country who would condemn him. But attitudes are changing pretty fast about this in our country. In fact, I'm thinking there could be a pretty good financial payoff in book and movie rights for the first guy to do it.

Now, you might be saying "Hey, there have been plenty of athletes come out". True, there have been plenty of women athletes come out, but we just don't take woman's sports all that seriously. Coming out in the 80's probably cost Martina Navratalova a fortune in endorsements. And a few guys have come out in individual sports, like Greg Louganis. And as far as figure skating goes.....well, the typical male sports fan just assumes that every guy in figure skates and sequins is gay. But we still haven't seen anyone in our meat and potatoes sports do it.

Back in the 70's there were rumors that Johnny Bench was gay. I have no idea if that is true, but he would have been the perfect guy. Back then, it would have ended his career. I don't think that's true today, and look forward to the day when people will look back on this blog post and wonder what the big deal is about.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Freakonomics, The Movie

As you probably know, I am a big fan of the Freakonomics guys. But I didn't realize until today that there is a Freakonomics movie coming out this summer. Opens at the Tribeca Film Fest this week, and around the country later. Read about it HERE.