Saturday, January 27, 2007

Famous Drug Abuse Getting Worse In Hollywood

In recent years, the age at which the rich and famous in Hollywood check themselves into rehab for drug abuse has become younger. In the past few months, many young actors and actresses have sort of admitted they have a problem with drugs and/or alcohol and have either sought treatment on their own or have been encouraged to enter a treatment facility by their parents or employer. The latest example of this new tread is Lindsay Lohan who decided that attending AA meetings from time to time after heavy drinking during all night parties was not a solution to her problem.

Millions of people all over the world treat famous young people more like royalty than nice looking folks that happen to be at the right place at the right time in Hollywood. Fame is one part of why young actors and actresses in Hollywood seem to have more problems with drug abuse than the general public, but there is another issue that sets them apart as well. When someone becomes famous at a young age, most of the time their direct family members, like a mother or father, become rich beyond their wildest dreams as a side effect of their child’s fame.

Once this happens, the child takes on the role of bread winner for the family and most of the hard lifting that all parents must do to keep their children well balanced and disciplined gets tossed out the window with the old bath water. The effect a large amount of money has on any adult when it is thrown into their lap in too short a period of time always has a negative result. I have seen this same thing happen to people who have won huge lottery jackpots. Many people have ruined their lives from both a financial and family unit stand point because they just were not prepared for such a large influx of money so quickly.

Of course, the abuse of drugs doesn’t just strike the young. Other famous people like Keith Urban and Rush Limbaugh have found themselves facing a substance demon of their own and each has been forced into rehab to try and control that demon which keeps them from living a clean and sober life. At least when most young people find themselves being controlled by drugs, they do seem to take the first step in treatment which is admitting to the problem quicker than older folks. I believe it becomes more difficult each passing year of our lives to admit to problems or mistakes we have made.

In another strange aspect to drug addition and the Hollywood community, some people seem to use the serious subject of substance abuse to help promote television programs. The past two seasons of American Idol, Paula Abul has seemed to be acting drunk in television interviews that are designed to promote that shows new season. I am very skeptical when it comes to these types of supposed drug or alcohol problems because it is common knowledge that some people in Hollywood will use stories like an alcohol problem to try and promote a television program or movie. Most likely, within the next few weeks Abul will act totally normal again until next year when it is time to promote American Idol again.

I have no idea if drug abuse is worse in Hollywood than it is in the rest of the world, but it certainly does appear that way and at the root of the problem for young actors and actresses is too much money. Also parents are to blame because they stop doing their job when a huge amount of cash is deposited into their bank account as a direct result of their child’s new found fame. I heard a good piece of advice from a financial advisor on the radio one day. He said that anyone that comes into a large sum of money very quickly should place that money into a bank account and let it sit untouched for at least twelve months before they spend any of it. This mans thinking is that twelve months might give people of moderate means time to readjust to their new financial status and hopefully make better choices for their life in the process.

Read more: LohanBritneyUrbanLimbaugh - Abdul
Additional pages: Hooked On RehabBetty Ford Clinic

Related: Hollywood Tabloid Style

Famous Drug Abuse

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Ice Covers Texas - Central Texas Frozen Solid

This past week was one of the worst, weather wise, here in Central Texas that I have seen in the last 25 years I have lived in this area. The week started off with a huge blast of winter cold air and rain that quickly turned into a blanket of ice that covered the ground for most of the workweek. Last Monday was MLK Day and most banks and government offices were closed which turned out to be a good thing in most parts of the heartland of the United States. The worst of this latest winter weather blast hit the Waco, TX area on Tuesday when the ten plus inches of rain that fell over the weekend before froze when local temperatures dropped below 32 degrees on Monday night.

Part of my weekly job duties require me to drive between several small Central Texas towns on what I refer to as the back roads. Monday night I was extremely concerned about the condition of these back roads and I worried that I might not be able to reach my destinations on time when most of these county roads were covered with ice. The good news is that all the rural country roads I had to travel were passable, but very icy and that caused me to drive extremely slowly because I did not want to run off the road during sharp turns and while crossing several two line bridges. While I was able to make my appointed rounds without getting involved in a traffic accident, there was a downside to my travel this week and that involved not sleeping well because my back was very uptight after several days of driving on ice covered back roads.

There were some positive aspects to the bad, icy, weather last week. While sitting inside a warm office and looking out the window the grass and buildings in my area looked beautiful because the ice gave new beauty to the dead grass that is found everywhere this time of year. At my office I noticed there were some large icicles handing from the north side of the building and they grew larger and longer as the week progress. On Thursday, the outside temperatures climbed to above freezing for good and a short time thereafter the local roads and highways started to clear from the sheet of ice that had made driving very dangerous for most of the week.

While the weather conditions here in Central Texas were really bad last week, the conditions in Missouri were worse and in some parts of that state, some residents have been without electricity for more than a week. It was very cold here in Waco, but most resident did not lose electrical service and the ones that did lose power, only spent less than 24 hours in the dark before their electrical power was restored. A coworker of mine has a nice home just outside the city and she told me on Monday morning that her power had gone off around 5am that day and she told a very funny story about trying to take a shower in the dark before she left for work. I too have taken a shower in the dark before and if you have never tried to shower in the dark; you should give it a try some time and you will see that it is not as easy as it might appear to get cleaned up and dried off without the aid of your eyes to guide you.

It is still cold and raining here in Waco this weekend, but the weather forecasters are predicting a much warmer week to come and that news is fine by me. Today my wife and I went to see a movie and the theater was packed with families that were most likely suffering from cabin fever like thousands of other people here in Central Texas. After the movie was over we headed back home and noticed several traffic accidents on local roads along the way. I certainly hope that no one was seriously injured in those accidents. However, it does make sense that even with the roads cleared of ice, cold rain and black nighttime skies are still a danger to people that chose to get out of their homes and travel rain soaked roads and highways. We are going to stay home for the rest of the night and hopefully the skies will clear soon in the US heartland and folks will be able to get their lives back to some type of normal in the upcoming weeks.

Read more: Deep FreezeIcy WeatherCold WeekendNeeded Rain
Additional pages: Coat WeatherHeartland SnowHomeless Shelter

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Local Immigration Laws Considered - Farmers Branch Texas

During the workweek I find myself listening to a radio talk show out of the Dallas/Ft. Worth area on KRLD. This talk show is hosted by a couple of smart guys by the names of Ernie and Jay. Last week, their big topic of discussion was illegal immigration because a major suburb in the DFW area, Farmers Branch, is about to hold an election on a new city ordnance, that if passed, would require owners of businesses and apartments to check the legal status of employees and tenants before they hire or rent to them.

I have read about other cities across the country that have passed similar laws and until the US Congress and President Bush face up to their responsibilities these types of city laws will continue to be passed. My personal opinion is that immigration should not be handled at the local or even the state level. The Congress of the United States should make immigration policy, but no one at the federal government level desires to find workable solutions to this national problem. The American people are looking for leaders to step up and do the right thing on immigration, but neither major political party is willing to take the political risk to do the right thing.

Like most other major issues that face the people of the United States, large groups of people have divided up into two camps of opinion. One group desires to build a fence across 700 miles of open border with Mexico and round up millions of people for deportation back to Mexico. The other group of people wants to reward immigrants that have broken US laws and give them citizenship in some kind of blanket amnesty program. The real truth about both sides of this debate is that neither extreme will work and/or has a chance of passing into law in the current Washington DC political climate.

In what once was considered a positive aspect to the United States, immigrants desiring to make America their home; has now turned into a disaster because there is no workable process for people that desire a better way of life to earn the right to become US citizens. Now days, millions of people, mainly from Mexico, are streaming across the US border because of the lack of border control and because even poor paying jobs in the United States are better than some of the best paying jobs in Mexico. The US is still the land of opportunity and without major changes at the US border, with Mexico, people will continue to enter the US illegally with the hope of providing a better financial future for their families.

While listening to some of the callers to the Ernie and Jay radio program this past week, it became clear to me that racism is the main reason why some people oppose immigration whether it be legal or not. In some ways, people in the United States are just as racist as they have always been. However, with new laws and workplace rules of conduct, people who have racist feelings in their soul have learned to cover-up those real feelings and find other outlets to work against people that have a different skin color from their own. The real problem of illegal immigration from Mexico is allowing people that hate Latinos because of their skin color to express their racism in a way that is politically correct in today’s society.

I really don’t see changes being made anytime soon in Washington DC to address the problems of illegal immigration to the United States. So more cities across the country will follow the wrong headed example of Farmers Branch, Texas and pass laws that will be over reaching and eventually struck down by the US Supreme Court. The vast majority of Americans want the US federal government to make changes to US immigration policy that will stop the flow of millions of undocumented workers from crossing into the United States. Then create a real system where people from all nations will be able to legally immigrate to the United States in an orderly way. One hundred years ago, the United States had an immigration policy that worked well when millions of Europeans immigrated to the United States. While the same policy would not work in modern America, the current system is badly broken and is in need of serious repair.

Read more: Border Control - US SecurityLatinos LeaveMinutemen
Additional pages: Immigration CompromiseHate KillsHard Work
Related: Dead Immigration Reform, Crash The Movie, Racism On Survivor, Oscar Night Again

Local Immigration Laws

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Toyota Leads GM In U.S. Auto Sales

Over the past year I have written on several occasions about the bad state of financial affairs “the big three” US automobile manufactures have found themselves in after several years of declining sales and strong competition from foreign companies like Toyota and Honda from Japan. The past few weeks I have noticed a batch of new television commercials heralding the new vehicle designs heading for dealer showrooms in the next few months. The bad news for Ford, GM and Chrysler is that American consumers have seen them introduce nice looking and high quality new cars before. Then abandon those cars a short time later and go full steam ahead with mass production of high profit margin, lower quality, trucks and sport utility vehicles and ignore the regular family car market that has made Honda and Toyota a US household name.

I drive a Ford Taurus and I like this car very much. My current Taurus is the second one I have owned and I would happily buy another one, but the Ford Motor Company has decided not to build the Ford Taurus anymore. Admittedly, I am not one of those young impressionable consumers that most large companies are interested in selling their product to. However, unlike some young consumers, older Americans are still in the market for new automobiles each year and if we are not interested in a sport utility vehicle or pickup truck, the only reasonable and viable opinion, without the Taurus, will be either the Honda Accord or Toyota Camry. Yes, Ford and GM are introducing new cars and some of them look very nice, but while young people will flock to new looking cars, older Americans will take years to warm up to a differently designed and named automobile.

I read a story online the other day that said Toyota was hoping to exceed the sales volume of General Motors in 2007. Considering the tremendous lead GM has had in worldwide sales of automobiles for decades, the very idea that Toyota would even have a chance to defeat GM in a head to head unit sales race proves how badly the sales volume at GM and Ford has fallen. Old habits die hard and the old bargaining systems that US dealers have used for years to sell cars just doesn’t work anymore because consumers are much better educated about the process than they were in previous years. The Internet has opened up public information to regular automobile buyers that was only available to a select few people before the World Wide Web came along. Today, consumers are more interested in getting their moneys worth when it comes to the purchase of a new car and in that area US auto makers are falling way behind the import manufactures.

One positive aspect for US automobile companies is their large spending in research for new alternatives to crude oil like Hydrogen powered cars. There is still a long way to go before Hydrogen cars will be seen as mainstream on the roads of America, but I believe that day will come at some point. I have wondered on many occasions why the most important source of energy in the world today resides under the grown of some really bad countries. Large oil producing nations in the Middle East and in South America contain more than 50% of the worldwide reserves of oil and nature gas. In the past, I thought that the major big three US car manufactures were in some kind of “kickback” deal with major oil companies. In the 60’s and 70’s it took years before any of the US auto manufactures improved the fuel economy of their gas guzzling automobiles and trucks.

In a nut shell I believe that the big three auto companies in the United States will eventually be forced into bankruptcy before they can be brought back to a good financial condition. The downside to the bankruptcy option is that hundreds of thousands of hard working people at Ford, GM and Chrysler will be hurt when their retirement benefit packages fall under the control of a federal bankruptcy court. Long before such a major step is taken, the rich folks at the top of the food chain at GM, Ford and Chrysler will have taken what money is left in the company and enriched themselves with millions of dollars worth of “golden parachute” benefits. I certainly hope I am wrong in my belief that bankruptcy will be the only real option for some of the big three automobile companies here in the US. Maybe the continuing growing US economy will buy the big three enough additional time to turn their image around with the American consumer before it is too late.

Read more: Ford TroublesGoodbye TaurusGM FutureJapanese GM
Additional pages: Tattered Image - Hydrogen Cars - Cooper SUV
Related pages: Honda, Future, Big Three Down, Chrysler Pink Slips, Trouble In Motor City

Toyota Leads GM