Alligators 'n Roadkill

Alligators 'n Roadkill
On The Road


Sunday, July 26, 2020

The Dumbing of America Did Not Take Long.

Here's the thing.  When I was growing up, a long, long time ago, we Americans were very proud of the fact that we led the world in just about everything.  We had the brightest and best of just about everything creative.  Writers, Poets, Movie Makers, Inventors, Manufacturers, Scientists, Researchers, Athletes, Political Leaders, Educators, and on and on.  We were clearly the most powerful nation on the face of this planet.  We were looked up to, we were the example, we were liked and admired.

If you accept all of that, then think about this.  We did all of that, plus we had saved the world's ass in two world wars.  And, we did it with an education system that was not all that complicated.  We held the belief that all children were entitled to receive a certain level of education, equally, and we admired college graduates, and educated people in general.  Does anyone disagree with that?

Oh, and we went to the moon.

So, please, someone tell me this:  If we did indeed achieve all of the above, and more, who decided, and when did they decide, and (most important of all) why did they decide that our system of education needed to be changed in any way?

What changed?  Why did the changes that were instituted cause us to lose respect for education and for educated people?  When, and how did we create so many people who lack common sense, and the ability to think for themselves?  And, why has the cost of a college education risen so high, while wages have stayed so low?

Because, you see, for me it sure looks like we no longer lead the world in much of anything except stupid. We lack respect for intelligence and education.  We elected (with a little help from his friends) the world's absolute worst human being.  We have allowed him and his ilk to turn events and developments which seriously threaten the future of the entire planet into political issues.  And, now, our education system, which at present is not really being used, has totally failed us.  Or, would it be more accurate to say that we have failed our education system?

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

If I Were King Redux

I first made a list like this in June of 2018.  This is pretty much the same, with a very few changes.  Do you have more ideas?  [These are] My ideas of some things we need to change:

1.      Dump the Patriot Act
2.      Dump Citizens United
3.      Restore the Fairness Doctrine
4.      Make it illegal once again for attorneys to advertise direct to the public.
5.      Make it illegal once again for pharmaceutical companies to advertise prescription medications direct to the public.
6.      Strictly and stringently regulate the health care industry, beginning with making it illegal for health care entities to profit from the delivery of health care.
7.      Institute term limits on members of Congress.
8.      End the war on drugs, and free all those presently incarcerated for non-violent drug related crimes, expunging their records.
9.      Restore the educational system to something designed to actually educate our children.
10.   Find a way to redistrict all states so as to allow for equal representation in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
11.   Get the money out of politics completely, while outlawing all political lobbying, beyond that of a single constituent lobbying his/her elected representative for something specific to his/her district.
12.   Ban all Gunz!
13.   Cut the Defense Department's budget by at least 75%.
14.   End foreign aid other than in times of natural disaster.
15.   Stop the sale of all arms and other weapons of war to all foreign entities.
16.   Provide health care to all citizens.
17.   Encourage participation in unions at all levels.
18.   Establish a fair minimum wage, above a bare subsistence level
19.   Set a cap on CEO salaries, based on a small percentage higher than the average worker wage.
20.   End all corporate welfare, while ensuring that corporations pay their fair share of taxes.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Have we finally elected nothing but "Hollow Men?"

I read a lot of Science Fiction way back in my teen years, up into my adult years.  A good bit of what I read dealt with possible scenarios for the "End Of The World As We Know It."  The more horrible stories dealt with nuclear holocaust, but some of the more grisly, and indeed more dark speculation found in the many stories did deal with - essentially - overpopulation, and both the affects and the effects this might have on this once beautiful planet.

And, of course, books like "Brave New World" and "1984" also presented less than bright futures for mankind.

Being basically an optimist, though, I usually dismissed the ideas from most of this genre in favor of the theme of man finally leaving planet earth, colonizing the known solar system, and then, moving outward to conquer the universe.  I was convinced, especially after we put men on the moon in 1969, that this was the more likely future for humankind.

Now, I am an old man, and I look at the world around me, and it sure looks like 1969 was our high point, and we have done nothing since then.  We are mired in wars all over the world, the major products of the once mighty U. S. A. are weapons of war, and we have even exported war itself, as we have Americans actively engaged in combat situations in too many places around the world today.

Meanwhile, it took a 14 year old girl, with Asperger's Syndrome, to bring to the attention of most of the world the reality that we are rapidly destroying our world!  Our over reliance on fossil fuels has - and continues to have - a most deleterious effect on our environment.  We were warned about this many years ago, and all attempts to do something positive about this have been squelched by big business.

Our nation, once a leader in efforts to save the planet, has opted out of all of those efforts under the current, corrupt administration.  Somehow, Congress has become powerless to do anything at all, and deliberately evidences no sign of any effort to help the disastrous situation.  Well, maybe that is not completely accurate.  The House of Representatives shows a willingness to help, but all legislation that might be helpful to the people of the country is blocked by a truly horrid toad of a man in the Senate.

And, this brings us to my question:  Have we finally elected nothing but "Hollow Men?"
Yes, that is a reference to a once famous poem by one T. S. Eliot.  And, yes, I think these horrible lifelong politicians, who have held their various offices for far too long, are literally dead inside.  They have no heart.  They have no compassion.  They have no interest in preserving this world for future generations.  Their only God appears to be money, and they devote their strongest resources to achieving more and more of it, at the expense of their constituents.  And, finally, due to their overall neglect, their utter failure to do their jobs, indeed to their greed, we are facing a global crisis the likes of which has never been more than imagined.  So, that means, that the below quoted ending from that T. S. Eliot poem may well be the final truth:

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper

(T. S. Eliot/"The Hollow Men" 1925)

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Here's part of my Two Cents worth.

After all these years of GOP obstructionism (remember, they met as a group and decided to oppose everything that came from our duly elected President, Mr. Obama, way back at his first inauguration), including Moscow Mitch's causing constipation of the Senate (wherein he has flat ignored almost all of the legislation passed by the House of Representatives), I am not optimistic about the chances of Impeachment succeeding at this time.

That said, however, I still feel very strongly that this is the right move, if for no other reason than to send the clear message to them, and to the American people, that we still have some politicians in this nation who are willing to put our best interests ahead of their political party's interests.

It is very unfortunate that voter apathy has led to this sorry pass, allowing the GOP to effectively control (which in their case always means obstruction of anything that might benefit normal people) the entire government of this once free nation.

Somehow, we must find ways to persuade more people to register and to actually vote, at every level, across the nation.  We must stop voting for republicans, and start voting for people who offer hope for all of us, instead of the very rich, who literally own most politicians today.

I could go on, but let's leave it here for now.  Whoever you are.  Wherever you are.  Please register and vote!

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

I Ain't Gonna Settle No More!

All my life, from the first car I ever bought, I have settled for one car over others, more times than I can recall.  I would get the idea that I wanted to buy a car, I would have one particular brand or model in mind, but then, when I got to the car sales places (lots, dealers, private individuals; made no difference), I would too often end up buying something different because of many factors.  The most common reason, however, had to do with the fact that I would go to a sales place after looking at what that place advertised, and find out that the car I was coming to see had already been sold.

In mid-1965, when I bought my very first car - and, don't get me wrong!  I loved that car! - that beautiful 1954 Ford Crestline Skyliner, was not actually my first choice.  I was referred to a private party who had two cars for sale.  One of the two cars was a 1952 Cadillac Club Coupe Deville, two door hardtop, and it was very nice.  That was the one I wanted, but it cost $150.00, and I could only afford $125.00, which was conveniently the cost of my Ford.  I settled, that time because I couldn't afford $25.00.

And, over the years, I have settled for other, second or third, or even later, choices because of (usually) fast talking salesmen, and other reasons.

I'm car shopping again, and I have some observations about the process, and about the business of selling used cars.

First of all, remember that I am old, and the way we used to shop for a car was different than today.  I used to get the Sunday paper, and go through all the large ads placed by the various car dealers.  I also remember going through the daily papers' want ads, because that was a thing.

I don't know about you, but I no longer subscribe to or even purchase any newspaper, and I don't even know if they still run ads for either personal or business sales of cars.

So, what I do today is visit the many sites online, and look at Craigslist and even Facebook Marketplace (which is pretty shitty, actually).  One thing I have noticed that has not changed about the old days as compared to today is this:  Dealerships still have a tendency to advertise specific automobiles for sale when in fact they do not have said automobile on their lot.  Now, I don't know if this is because they really do sell them that quickly, or if it is because they still believe that they can sell anything to anybody, so they put ads to pique your interest, and try to entice you to go to their location just because they are sure they can get you to buy something else.

Personally, I don't have time for this sort of thing.  Currently there is one listing that has been consistently running on,,,, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace for at least two weeks.  I went to the dealership in question (Mission Chevrolet, on Zaragoza, in El Paso) last week, and was told that the car had already been sold.  Yet their ad is still up on all of these locations!  As of this morning, 11/5/2019:

Worse, on the web sites that are specific to car sales, even though they usually offer ways to inquire about specific listings, I find that few dealerships ever respond to those inquiries.  They only way to find out if the car listed is actually there and for sale is to call and waste my time with a sales person, who too often claims that they do not have any information at hand, and who then tries to entice me into going to their lot.

I don't want to waste my time with cars that do not match what I want.  I settled for 'something else' too many times in my car buying life.  Now, I want what I want, and if you don't have it, don't advertise it!

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Pay Per View Plus

How is one to obtain a good selection of television broadcasts from which to choose?  I mean, we still have over the air (OTA) channels, which are very close to what we had way back in the 1950's, but with a lot more available today than was out there back then.  As a matter of fact, where before we had, say, channel 4, we now have 4.1, 4.2, and 4.3, all with different programming, and all virtually free.

We also have cable and satellite providers, who offer many more channels, most of which hold little or no interest for most people.  Way back when satellite television first became popular customers could pick and choose what satellite channels they wanted to receive, called a Cafeteria Plan.  That excellent idea did not last very long, once the providers figured out that they could force people to pay for garbage in order to receive quality.

One reason for the growth of cable and satellite television has to do with the fact that television signals are transmitted by a system that requires a clear line of sight between the transmitter's antenna, and the receiver's antenna.  Interestingly, with the advent of digital signals, that clear line of sight can be obstructed in high wind conditions.  Yes, even dust and moving tree branches can block your signal!  The farther from the transmitter you live, the worse your signal will be.  So, the growth was due to more than the fact that you can get a shit ton of channels with cable or satellite.

People who live far from the transmitters' antennae, like me, need to have a rooftop antenna, with a pretty high mast in order to receive their local channels.  I happen to be located about 35 miles, as the crow flies, from our local antennae, up on the Franklin Mountains.  So, even though on a clear day I get a lot of stations, with a great image, the slightest weather condition causes my signal to instantly drop, and I have to get up and adjust the indoor antenna, just like when I was a kid!  Unfortunately, my research tells me that I would still be subject to loss of signal with weather changes even if I had a 30 foot antenna!

So, I have been looking around for ways to get just the channels that I might watch, which pretty much means that I know I could exist just fine with only those local channels.  I must confess that I am thinking in terms of the upcoming football season, and the fact that I would like to watch college and professional games.  So, what is one to do?

In addition to the cable and satellite packages that are offered for a hefty chunk of change, there are now several streaming services available, and most of them advertise a lower price than cable or satellite.  Unfortunately, they do not offer local channels' live stream.

Now, we come to my greatest frustration.  The best price out there, for me, appears to be a plan offered by Spectrum (used to be Time Warner, now sucked up by the giant monopoly that is AT&T) that provides only ten cable channels of your choice (the plan is called TV Choice, coincidentally), plus your local channels.  It is advertised at only $24.99 per month, which is not great, but I might be able to handle it.  However, when I went online to seek more information, I learned that this price does not include my local channels!

No, if I want them I have to pay an additional five dollars per month, bringing my total up to at least $29.99.  When I asked why this additional charge for OTA signals, I was told that this is required by those local stations!  Now, consider this.  The cable provider is extending the service area for these local television stations, which already make money from their local advertisers, right?  But, in their greed, the local TV stations want more!  They want me to pay them to watch what they are supposed to be offering for no cost!  How is this fair?  How is this good business?

I am still having trouble understanding something about this, however.  I am sure that the precedent was set some time ago, but it is confusing to me to consider that a local broadcast station can demand payment from a cable or satellite or streaming provider for extending the range of their broadcasts!  Wouldn't that be a good selling point for their advertising?  "We can offer X number of local viewers, which is enhanced by X number of additional local and nearby viewers who are watching us on cable or satellite or streaming device."

Am I wrong?  Ultimately, for me, I suspect I will go with something like this TV Choice, but I will go reluctantly.  I'm thinking that perhaps one of my cable type channels could be the NFL Network, and another could be ESPN (as much as I hate them), and that way I could receive more stable options for live football action.