Thursday, November 30, 2006

Britney Spears Self Destruction Continues Daily

The past week or two I have watched in amazement as Britney Spears has gone from loving mother to one of the biggest party girls in Hollywood. I know first hand that filing for divorce can cause a person to change drastically, but Ms. Spears seems to be taking things to a very big extreme. Britney’s soon to be ex-husband has already filed court papers seeking full custody of their two children and rather than taking this action by Kevin Federline seriously, Britney Spears seem to be taking the approach that she can act anyway she wants and still maintain custody of her children. Surely, Spears is following her own advice, instead of listening to her divorce attorney when it comes to her late night partying with the likes of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan.

Neither Hilton nor Lohan have any children which makes their almost nightly “party all night” lifestyle no ones business but their own. However, Britney does have children and in this day and age family courts around the country and especially in California do not automatically give custody to the mother, just because she is a female and considered a better parent. The rebellious attitude that Ms. Spears is showing right now proves that she not only wasn’t mature enough to understand the real meaning of marriage, but also she is not mature enough to be a good and loving mother either. It takes time for the human brain to mature enough to allow us to think about other people more than our own selves. Unfortunately, neither one of the children of Federline and Spears have a parent who is mature enough to raise them in a good home at this time.

It would not surprise me if the California Family Court gave temporary custody of these two young children to one set of the grandparents, at least over the short run. I believe what is playing out right now in divorce court is Federline using his own children to try and extract more money from Spears than the 10 million he was guaranteed in their prenuptial agreement. While Spears activities the past few weeks of staying out all night and partying with the likes of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan is wrong, Kevin Federline’s legal moves to extort more money from Spears by using his own children as weapons is despicable. Neither one of these two young people deserve the privilege right now of raising their two children and I hope the court realizes that fact when it makes its final ruling.

I have written several times about my belief that Lindsay Lohan will end up in rehab sometime in the near future. I was watching a television show the other day and they were showing Ms. Lohan when she was a young girl only a few short years ago, before Hollywood and its free living lifestyle took control over her life. While millions of young people head to Hollywood to find fortune and fame, most people never achieve the success of Lohan or Spears and the few that do are usually gobbled up with the parasites that surround that community within a short period of time. I don’t believe I have ever heard of a single person who moved to Hollywood that changed their moral attitudes, in a positive way, about life after living there for any length of time. Most people who live and love the Hollywood lifestyle are very self absorbed and they think little about anyone else except themselves.

It is a shame when a young persons life is destroyed when fortune and fame arrive at their door step before they are mature enough to know how to handle the increasing temptations which go along with that success. It is hard enough for a mature and well grounded person to have a fighting chance of keeping their priorities straight in Hollywood, but for kids who spend years of their lives growing up in this cesspool of gluttony it is darn near impossible for them to have a chance at living a normal life. Don’t get me wrong, I believe there are some good folks who call Hollywood home, but most of those people are much older and more mature than the likes of Britney Spears and Kevin Federline. In all divorce situations, the children are always the ones who are pushed aside by parents who forget about the needs of those children and engage in crazy, out of control, behavior for a few months after the breakup.

I hope the Family Court System in California will do the right thing when it comes to the “best interest” of the children of Spears and Federline and in my opinion the best interest of those children resides somewhere else besides the guardianship of either parent at this time. It is not that uncommon to see grandparents raising children in regular, everyday, families these days when children end up having children of their own. The only major difference between Britney Spears and any other young girl in any US city is that Ms. Spears is rich and famous and followed by reporters and photographers at all hours of the day and night. At some future date, either Spears or Federline or both will mature enough to provide a good home environment for their children. However, right now neither one of these two young people have the first clue about priorities and putting the interest of their children ahead of their own selfish needs.

I have personally had the privilege to know a few family court judges and from my experience they do try very hard to make sure the children of young parents are put into a good and loving home. It would not surprise me if whomever is deciding the divorce case of Federline/Spears places huge restrictions on these two young parents and if those rules are not followed, this judge will show these two brats who really is in charge when it comes to the interest of children. While both Federline and Spears claim to want full custody of their two children, isn’t it funny how neither one of them is acting like a good parent at this time? Maybe a California Family Court will be more successful at providing tough love to these two young people than their parents have been able to accomplish. It is certainly a fact that both of them have a lot of growing up still to do.

Read more about Britney Spears:

Britney Spears Tell All Interview Talk
Britney Spears Should Focus On Her Kids
Spears Mental Problems
Britney Federline Kids
Spears Letterman Show
Britney Spears Baby

Icescraper Type Weather - Waco Texas In Deep Freeze

Last night my wife bought me an icescraper for the car because she said cold weather was on the way. Of course, she was right, but at the time we pulled into the local dollar store last night around 8pm to buy it, the temperature was still in the mid 60’s and I wore a short sleeve shirt without a jacket. Right now it is about 5am and the wind is blowing and rain is hitting the side of the house, as the first major winter storm of the year is moving into Central Texas. The weather sure does change fast around here and while I love to watch snow, ice on the roads and power-lines is a whole different story.

I just checked our local Waco, TX temperature and it has already dropped to 36 degrees, but from all the weather reports the worst is yet to come. Tonight’s low is expected to drop into the lower 20’s and that is bad news considering it has been raining most of the night and I don’t think very much of this precipitation is going to dry out before the temperatures start to drop later tonight. One of the best things about the Internet is the ability to pull up current weather conditions, which include not only the temperature, but the local radar as well. Most of this same information is available on cable television, but I have discovered that I prefer the layout of the weather conditions on our local television station’s Internet websites better than on television.

I had been planning to take a trip later today down to College Station, Texas, but I might need to put off that trip if the roads get too bad. I hate driving on icy roads and around here just about every single highway is going through some type of road construction and it goes without saying that under repair roads and ice do not mix well. It wasn’t that many years ago when a major ice storm hit Waco and knocked out power to tens of thousands of residents for almost two days. That storm was really a mess and over the past few years, the local electric company has been trimming trees, much to the displeasure of some homeowners, to minimize the damage if and when another major ice storm hits the Central Texas area.

When that major ice storm hit Waco a few years ago, my power was off for only 18 hours. However, I was lucky because my apartment had natural gas for heating so I was able to stay warm. Of course, the main heater unit would not work without electricity, but I was able to keep my apartment warm by just leaving my oven on 300 degrees and once it heated up, it kept the whole place very warm. Some friends of mine, at the time, had all electric homes and they were not so lucky when they lost electric power for two full days. Most of them were able to stay with friends or local family members until the power was eventually restored to everyone. Electricity is something, I think, we all take for granted until we wake up one day and don’t have it anymore.

It would not surprise me one bit if the high temperature here in Waco raises again into the 70’s by the end of the weekend. People who live around here are forced get use to these major weather changes this time of year. It doesn’t get that cold during the wintertime, but when a major storm does blow through it is usually terrible and then within a few days the whole area gets back to normal like it never even happened. I wrote here a few days ago about wishing for a White Christmas this year, but it is still way too early for that to happen. You can bet that we will have temperatures in the mid 70’s for most of December, unless something really strange happens with the weather this year.

It is impossible for me to think about icy conditions without thinking back to a Thanksgiving Day over 10 years ago when Leon Lett, from the Dallas Cowboys, played in a football game I referred to at the time as the “Ice Bowl” and fumbled the ball on the last play of the game which lead to a Cowboys loss. I remember waking up that Thanksgiving morning to the sounds of ice hitting my rooftop. When I went to the window to open the curtain I could not believe my eyes. There was, at least, three inches of ice covering the ground everywhere. Later that day, after a big meal, I turned on the television to watch the Cowboys play on Thanksgiving, like they always do and the football field at Texas Stadium looked exactly like my front yard did 90 miles away in Waco. It is funny how something as simple as ice can bring back memories from so long ago.

Everyone here in Waco is hoping for the best and praying that the area is not blanked with ice before the end of the day. While I did invest in an icescraper, it would be nice not to need it, at least later today or in the morning. I just read a story in our local paper, The Waco Tribune Herald that said road crews have already loaded up their trucks with the salt mixture stuff they put on bridges and overpasses when there is rain followed by below freezing temperatures in the forecast. While this mixture of salt and whatever else does melt the ice, it will work some bad magic on the underside of most cars, if it is not washed off quickly after the weather clears up. Oh well, this post probably didn’t appeal to most of the people who regularly read this blog, but the weather is big news here in Central Texas today and I thought I would add my two cents to what everyone else will be talking about as the day goes by. I just hope that everyone who does need to travel today will be extra careful and take their time getting to wherever it is they are going.

Daily Archives: | 02, 04, 07, 10, 13, 16, 19, 22, 25, 28

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I Have A White Christmas Wish This Year

It has been several decades since I witnessed a real White Christmas, first hand. Here in Texas it doesn’t snow as much as it once did and the last time I remember any amount of snow that stuck to the ground for more than a few hours was back in the mid 1980’s and that occurrence didn’t happen at Christmas time. Growing up in the Texas Panhandle it was much more common to see snow during late December, but even there it was most likely that snowfall would come in late January and early February. Growing up, my sister and I would listen to old Christmas classics from folks like Bing Crosby, who had the best version of the song White Christmas, ever performed. Those times were so much simpler because we were young and had not experience as many of life’s “bumps in the road” as we both have experienced to this date. Now I am much older, but this time of year I start thinking about how nice it would be to have a White Christmas at least every once in a while even here in Texas.

It is not just kids who like the snow, many of us “old farts” like it too even if we don’t tell anyone else about our secret wish. There is something special about snowfall because it causes a person’s inter-spirit to somehow come alive and it creates hope in a person’s heart that wasn’t there before the snowfall. I remember, years ago, sitting in front of an old fireplace, with the living room curtains open, and watching the logs in the fireplace burn and then I would glance outside, occasionally, to watch small snow flakes gentle fall to the ground. During my entire life, I do not remember a more peaceful feeling inside of my soul than I felt watching that fireplace burn and watching those snowflakes fall to the ground. Now it doesn’t snow much in the southern part of the US, anymore and some people blame global warming for that. However, I don’t really care who or what is to blame for the lack of snowfall, I just wish it would come back around Christmas time each year and work its magic on people with a heavy heart.

Today the skies are cloudy here in Central Texas and the weather outside is mainly dreadful with higher than normal winds and warm temperatures. Not exactly the mental picture of the Christmas season most people wish for. However, even without any snow in site, I have experience a White Christmas or two in my lifetime which cannot be said for some young folks who have lived in this area their entire life without witnessing first hand the pleasures of a Merry Christmas with snow on the ground. Today, kids must drive hundreds of miles to the north just to find any snowfall and the young people with money or access to Dad’s money tend to take trips to the mountains of New Mexico or Colorado for holiday skiing trips. While these trips to the mountains are fun and snow can be seen in every direction, the feeling that a person receives when watching a Christmas Eve snowfall, while sitting at home in front of an open fireplace, is something they will remember for their entire lives.

Over the next few days I will go into the closet and pull out some CD’s for my wife and I to listen to during the rest of this holiday season. In addition to White Christmas performed by Bing Crosby, there are other classics, which are sure to bring a smile to our faces as the birthday of Jesus Christ approaches. While watching television last night I saw a commercial for a new Christmas CD by country singer, George Strait, which I might consider adding to our collection. George has been around for a long time in country music and his original voice should bring new life to old classic Christmas songs, once again. People are always saying that Christmas time is mainly for young people, but people who really believe that statement are missing out on the true meaning of Christmas. The entire Christmas season should be a time of reflection and a chance to find good things in this world, instead of only a time where shopping and overspending cause depression in many families.

The Christmas holiday was not started just to help retailers reach their yearly financial goals. The real meaning of Christmas is one of Thanksgiving and remembrance of Jesus Christ who died so that others could have everlasting life. Nothing in the biblical references to Christmas talks about purchasing the latest toy or game in a must have family environment, but unfortunately that is exactly what has happened to the Christmas holiday over the years. If all of us would spend more time reflecting on the true meaning of Christmas, instead of on the retail and monetary aspects of the holiday, we would find ourselves a truly happier person when the New Year rolls around. Yes, I will continue to wish for a White Christmas, even though I know the chances of that happening are small. Even with a warming Earth and all the problems which face men and women in nations around the world, a White Christmas is something that all the people of the world could use right now and hopefully begin to find some peace in their hearts even if it is just for one or two days.

As time goes by, I find myself thinking back more and more to a simpler time and place where small things, like a White Christmas, were important events in a young person’s life. This time and place was filled with families singing Christmas songs in a living room with all the lights turned off and the glow of a warm fireplace proving the only light and heat on Christmas Eve night. Those days were filled with joy and peace, even though our family bank account was small and financial problems were everywhere. Thinking back over 40 years to those days, I only remember the good times and the lifelong memories which were forever recorded into my brain for easy playback over a lifetime.

Which HDTV Is Better - LCD or Plasma?

Some days I think I am the only American who has not bought a new HDTV set. Just call me cheap, but the old set I own has been doing just fine and I have no desire to spend thousands of dollars just to purchase something new and exciting. However, the prices are starting to drop dramatically on HDTV sets and when the time comes for me to take the plunge and purchase one of these new types of televisions, the biggest question, for me, will be, LCD or Plasma? Many years ago when these new HDTV’s started hitting the marketplace, I went down to my local Best Buy retail store to take a look at them. I had read and heard so much about the picture quality that I wanted to see for myself what everyone was talking about.

When I first saw HDTV it was on a Plasma screen and the picture was out of this world along with the price of over ten thousand dollars. I knew at the time I would never play over ten grand for a television set, but if I won the lottery, I might have considered being one of the first folks to purchase a Plasma HDTV and take it home to impress or should I say depress my neighbors with my good fortune? Over the years the price of HDTV sets has dropped dramatically and now some of these new television sets are moving even into my price range. I have been talking to people who already own HDTV’s to find out what their opinion is about which format is best; LCD or Plasma and just like everything else for sale, there are opinions on both sides of this issue.

My sister and brother-in-law purchased a LCD HDTV about six months ago and they love it. My brother-in-law is just like me because he enjoys the process of learning all he can about a new product before he pulls out his wallet to make a purchase. My brother-in-law told me that while he once thought nothing could compete with the picture quality of a Plasma HDTV, he has changed his mind over the last year and he now considers LCD to be the better format because he believes that format will eventually dominate the marketplace. In the same way there was once two different formats for video recording, Beta and VHS, usually only one format will last in the long run and he believes that LCD will be the last format standing when all the dust settles in a few years.

From the advertisements I have read in my local newspaper, it appears that LCD televisions are cheaper than their Plasma counterparts, but as of yet I have not visited a local retailer like Wal-Mart to see the two HDTV products in a side by side comparison. From the limited amount of research I have done on these two different HDTV formats, it appears to me that LCD provides better quality in small to middle size screens, while Plasma is better on larger screens which are 50 inches plus in size. If this research on my part holds up, then most likely when I decide to buy my first HDTV set it will be an LCD because the small apartment I live in would not be a good place for such a large screen television and I personally don’t like monster TV’s, anyway.

I am hoping that after the Christmas holidays and before the Superbowl, the price of LCD HDTV’s will drop even further and finally fall into my price range. I know the quality of HDTV is much better than my old picture tube set and also the government says they will eventually start using the current television channels for other purposes once enough folks purchase HDTV sets for their homes. When it comes to any major purchase for the home, price will always be the deciding factor for millions of people who are not made of money. If LCD television technology is cheaper and better than Plasma, then eventually they will dominate the new HDTV marketplace. I was one of those folks who owned a Beta VCR when all of a sudden it was difficult to find tapes to rent because VHS took over the marketplace. I certainly don’t want to make that mistake for a second time with HDTV.

A few months ago, my wife and I stopped into a local bar for a couple of drinks and this bar had a HDTV set hanging on the wall. We were setting about forty feet away from the screen and I noticed that it was hard for me to take my eyes off of that screen while watching a football game. Most of the time, I consider my old regular television set to be just fine and when I don’t watch HDTV for several days I find that the picture on my old style TV set appears very clear. It is only when I spend a large amount of time watching HDTV and then return home to the old technology that I discover just how much I am missing by not purchasing one of these new TV’s. Like always, feel free to email me and share your experiences between LCD and Plasma technology. Once I decide which one of these formats to purchase, I will most likely live with it for a decade or more, if the thing doesn’t break down on me.

My mom also bought a LCD HDTV about three months ago, but the type she purchased was one that sat on a little stand and it almost looks like a “flat screen” computer monitor. She lives in a small condo and watches television, most of the time, in her bedroom. This little LCD TV is very small in actual size, but the picture quality is out of this world. She put this new TV on her bedroom dresser and she says it is the perfect size for her. I certainly like flat screen computer technology and a LCD-TV, which sits on a small stand, might be right for my family, too. There are just so many things to think about when purchasing something, which is relatively new, and I guess making a big mistake is part of my hesitance in taking the plunge and purchasing an HDTV right away. These types of decisions were easier, for me, 20 years ago when I didn’t watch my money that closely and before I got older and preferred to save my money rather than spend it. Times are changing and eventually older folks, even like me, will go along with those changes and probably ask, what took you so long, once the decision is finally made to change.

Related: Ebay Christmas Shopping, Holiday Spending Down, PS3 Shopping Madness, Annual Christmas Party

LCD or Plasma

Where Were All Those Storms - What Hurricane Season?

Less than six months ago, weather forecasters were predicting another major hurricane year with the possibility of a major storm hitting the northeastern United States and possibly even the New York City metro area. Hurricane season is now over and with the exception of a few small storms in the Atlantic Ocean, 2006 turned out to be the most mild hurricane season in many years. So how did the forecasters get this year so wrong when it came to their predictions of a major hurricane year? I don’t know the answer to that question other than to state that “mother nature” does things her own way and the best way to come off looking like a fool is to try and predict what she will do.

I find it pretty easy to cut the meteorologist some slack this year because of what happened to the US Gulf Coast in 2005. Everyone remembers what a terrible year 2005 turned out to be when it came to major Category 5 storms by the names of Katrina and Rita. Since warm ocean waters have a great deal to do with the size and number of major hurricanes, it only made sense that 2006 could have been another big year for major storms and my thinking is that weather professionals were just playing it safe when the year started because of the huge disasters, from 2005, which were still fresh in the minds of millions of Americans.

Last night I spent some time reading about all the work that still needs to be completed in New Orleans and many parts of coastal Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina wiped out many parts of that region in August of 2005. Some of the stories I read about are heart breaking and thousands of people who were relocated by Hurricane Katrina because they lost everything they own, will never go back to the homes many of them lived in for decades before Hurricane Katrina wiped out everything within a matter of minutes.

For me, home is a very important place that has much more to do with the communities and friendships that are built over the years than it has to do with an actual building. Since the beginning of time there have been folks who for one reason or another have been attracted to living their lives on the shores of the ocean and waking up in the morning to the fresh cool air of an ocean breeze coming through their kitchen window. Of course, there is a price to pay for this love of the ocean lifestyle and that price is collected every generation or two when a major hurricane visits the shores of US communities and destroys homes and businesses within a matter of minutes.

In reality there are no totally safe places to live and those people who come out of the woodwork and attempt to blame the folks who make the choice to live near the ocean are just narrow-minded people who don’t really care about their neighbors. Sure, living near a large body of water, like the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, does put residents at risk of major damage when a hurricane visits that area, but all US citizens face the possibility of some kind of natural disaster, no matter where they might live.

Here in Central Texas, there is always the possibility of a tornado striking large and small towns in our area every year. I’m sure there are some people who believe that folks should not live in Central Texas just because a tornado might strike our area every few years. Whether the threat from “Mother Nature” involves a hurricane, tornado or the ever-present earthquake dangers in California, no home or community is safe 100% of the time. All any of us can do is to help our neighbors pick up the pieces when something major happens and disrupts their lives in a huge way.

When I was a little kid I thought I wanted to be a weatherman when I grew up. Just like other kids my dreams and career choices changed over time, which is probably a good thing because most of the time weathermen and women are not trusted. Heck, they do the best they can, but on most days that just isn’t good enough for some people who want iron clad guarantees when in comes to weather predictions. While most anger at weather folks comes when the rains fall on a much anticipated weekend picnic at a local park or no rain falls when the farmers seeds are in the ground and rain is needed for those seeds to start to grow; the really important work that meteorologist perform is when there is a major hurricane or tornado warning and update to date weather information could make the difference between life and death.

While predicting the weather is no where close to being a proven science, when major hurricanes and thunderstorm are brewing up in the sky, the modern day weather men and women are very good at their jobs and they have the ability to save lives with their real time reading of what is happening up in the heavens.

I for one am glad that 2006 turned out to be a “dud” when it came to major hurricanes. 2005 was bad enough and it would have been a huge disaster if 2006 turned out the same way. Sometimes, Mother Nature will take a break so mankind can rebuild to live another day and that is exactly what happened this year. While I love to take “pot shots” at meteorologist just like everyone else does when they are wrong, these men and women do a good job with the information technology they have to predict something no one has successfully predicted with any kind of regularity and that is the weather.

I remember watching a cartoon once where a weatherman walked out of his TV studio, licked his finger and put it into the air to see which way the wind was blowing. Then this weatherman went back inside and gave his weather forecast to the public. In today’s modern world of high tech computers and powerful radar’s, sometimes I wonder if that weatherman in this cartoon didn’t have a better and more accurate way of predicting the weather?

Related: Weird Weather Changes, Deadly Spring Storms, Ready For Spring, Texas Spring Flooding

What Hurricane Season?

Latinos Leave GOP Over Immigration Reform

While the jury is still out on how well the Democratic Party will do in its new leadership position in the Congress, one important event happened in 2006 which could spell big problems for the GOP in 2008 and beyond. Latino voters are abandoning the GOP in favor of Democratic candidates for national office in higher numbers than ever before and GOP leaders can only blame themselves for this happening because they followed a short range plan for victory in November 2006 which might have cost them dearly with the fastest growing voting block in the US, Latino voters.

In the days of Ronald Reagan, the Republican Party had a big tent philosophy when it came to national issues, but over the years that big tent has become smaller to where it has now reach the point that some of the biggest leaders in the party sometimes sound more like racist rednecks than major political party leaders. The whole issue of what to do with the out of control problem on the US/Mexico border was at the heart of what drove Latino voters to the Democratic camp this year and it is going to take major strides on the part of GOP leaders to try and get them back into the mainstream of Republican politics.

While Republican leaders will try to encourage millions of Latino voters to come back to the GOP in 2008, there will be some party leaders who will work against the national GOP leadership because those leaders believe the only way to solve the US border control problem with Mexico is with a hammer, instead of a carrot. Many of these hard-line conservative politician are really racist, down deep inside, and their narrow minded view of the world causes them to look upon people with a different skin color as somehow inferior to themselves. I have always believed that what is at the root of racism is not only ignorance, but a fear of what might happen in a world where some minority obtains real political power.

Every political party has its hard-liners, but the most extreme voices in the far right of the Republican Party are so filled with hatred and/or fear of people who don’t look exactly like them, that they refuse to see a new world that is filled with people from different races getting along and working together to solve problems. Immigration from Mexico is not going away and whether or not the US government builds a 700 mile long fence along the border or places troops there, it isn’t going to make a big difference in the overall immigration situation in the United States. What will most certainly tear the fabric of the GOP apart would occur if some narrow minded right wing politician is elected to the presidency in 2008. I’m sure party leaders in the GOP fear this outcome more than almost any other because it would lead to the ultimate destruction of the GOP as a national voice in US politics, for decades.

This narrowing of the political base in the Republican Party I blame mainly on Karl Rove. Even before President Bush was elected for the first time in the year 2000, Rove believed that the United States was evenly divided between Republican and Democratic voters and I believe he felt like the best way to win in national elections was to appeal only to the party base and then turnout would be the actual ends to a means when it came to victory. Of course, he was right in a couple of national elections and major media pundits and others started talking about his genius on their various talk shows and newspaper columns. However, Karl Rove isn’t looking like a genius anymore because his ideas, while successful in the short run, could spell death to the GOP in the long run.

It think it is difficult for political consultants to look much further out into the future than the next election and if politicians who hired these guys are of the same mindset then they deserve what they get. The time between two-year congressional election cycles is so small when viewed in the bubble of history. However, what political consultants are rewarded for are finding the issues of the day and taking their boss, the politician, to victory. It is so important to keep an eye on the bigger picture or politicians and/or party leaders could suffer a mortal self-inflicted wound by taking short-term gain over long term reality.

Short-term political gains are the reason why GOP candidates suffered, at the polls, with Latino voters in 2006. Many national candidates who have never had a tough reelection fight, found themselves trailing in their own districts in 2006 and in a political fight for survival they sold out their souls to the most extreme aspects of the Republican voter base and not only lost the Congress, but also the good will of millions of Latino voters in the process. Any political party which uses race to either win elections or uses it to try and destroy their opponent will usually fail badly in the process. Some incumbents might get lucky and win one more election, but their future in political leadership will not last another election cycle, most of the time.

For the past few election cycles, Latino voters did not vote as a block, like other major minorities in the United States. This meant that the GOP and Democrats were on an even playing field when it came to reaching out for the support of this fast growing segment of the population. My personal opinion is that the GOP inflicted a fatal wound in 2006 when party leaders decided to build a fence, instead of a bridge to their Latino neighbors. Maybe it was inevitable that the GOP would eventually fall apart when the far right extremist took over the party when President Bush was first elected. No major national party will continue to stay in power when their base voters control everything. It did not work for the Democrats when liberals took over and it will not work for the Republicans when hard-core conservatives are in charge of all branches of government.

If my guess is right and Latino voters do leave the GOP for good, the only people who are really responsible are the political leaders and consultants, like Karl Rove, who made the decision that short term victory over long term common sense was the best move and at which point they proceeded to hitched their wagon to narrow minded extremist in an effort to win, just one more election.

Related: Dead Immigration Reform, Local Immigration Laws, Right Wing Politics, Crash The Movie, Racism On Survivor, Oscar Night Again

Latinos Leave GOP

Monday, November 27, 2006

Iraq Civil War Debate Dominates Mainstream Media Coverage

I turned on the television news a few minutes ago to see what the cable news networks were talking about today and from what I saw the big debate was about whether the War in Iraq had turned from a military conflict into a civil war. NBC News announced today that from now on they would refer to the Iraqi War as a civil war in their reporting of the conflict. The Bush Administration was quick to denounce this move by NBC News as they continue to claim that the conflict in Iraq is not a civil war by their definition. It is sad, to me, when major news organizations and the leader of the free world, President Bush, argue over the details of whether the War in Iraq has become a civil war or not. None of these, word games, being played by the media and the administration matter in the least to the over one hundred thousand US troops serving in Iraq right now.

Just like in any war, which drags on too long, both political party’s will choose up side and fight a war of their own, with words, and this latest “civil war” debate, going on today in Washington, is no different. US troops in Iraq don’t really care how this war is defined, they just care that it is being fought and their lives are being put at risk each day, without any end to the fighting in site. I personally believe the War in Iraq has been a civil war for over a year, but whether I believe that or not is beside the point. Our troops are in harms way in Iraq and we must find some way to stabilize that country and get our men and women home as soon as possible. No one, except maybe John Murtha, desires to “cut and run” from Iraq, but almost everyone believes the current strategy isn’t working and a better plan must be put into effect, soon.

Only in America will two powerful forces, the media on one side and the President of the United States on the other, allow their own egos to get in the way of the men and women who are dying in the streets of Baghdad right now. This discussing debate of what kind of war is being fought in Iraq right now will solve nothing and it is time for all people involved in the planning and reporting of this story to take a few steps back and look at the War in Iraq as an American conflict which must be won, in some small way, so our troops can come home. I am a long time viewer of NBC News and I watch Brian Williams’ telecast almost every night. I believe NBC does a good job in reporting the War in Iraq, but this latest decision to pre announce their changing of wording was a silly move just to get publicity for their own network.

From the point of view of any casual observer, the War in Iraq has been civil by nature ever since the two main Muslim factions in that country started killing each other in a wholesale fashion over one year ago. There is no real law and order in Iraq and when local residents cannot trust their own police force to do the right thing, then vigilante justice is bound to take over and once that happens a civil war is inevitable. From my limited knowledge of what is happening on the ground in Iraq, members of each faction have infiltrated the ranks of the Iraqi Army and local police with the goal of not keeping the peace, but settling scores against old enemies. How could anyone not refer to what is happening in Iraq as anything but a civil war?

President Bush has been wrong in every leadership decision he has made in Iraq since “Mission Accomplished” was declared after the Saddam government fell. I like President Bush, but he does not know how to build a country and if he would have stuck to traditional Republican values of not trying to use US military power in “nation building”, the US would not be in this quagmire right now. However, now that President Bush has put his entire legacy into the outcome of the Iraqi War, there is no way he is ever going to back down and admit he was wrong about going to war in Iraq in the first place and he also will never admit that what is happening right now in Iraq is truly a civil war situation. Even strong supporters of President Bush know, down deep inside, that Iraq is a mess and that mess started when the US decided to impose its will on another country.

When will leaders in the United States learn the lessons of history when it comes to trying to build nations in our own image? The United States is a world leader because other nations look upon our country as the land of opportunity and they wish to copy our success. However, no other country desires to be invaded and have those ideas and principles imposed on them at the butt of a gun. The US always looks better in the eyes of the world when we lead by example rather than using our military to impose political will on another nation. Unfortunately, the history of the George W. Bush presidency could be written in a way that says he started a civil war, where none existed before his decision to invade. Any time a group of individuals or politicians believe that they are wiser than the folks of a nation whom they wish to invade, all hell usually break loose in the end and just like in Iraq, a civil war is always possible when war is started with the wrong purpose and poor planning of how military forces will be received in the invaded country.

NBC New should have just changed their language without pre announcing their plans on television this morning. By making an announcement ahead of time, they appear to be more publicity hounds than a group of professional reports that are trying to do the right thing. Today’s, civil war, announcement by NBC News will not save the life of any American soldier nor will it bring this conflict to an end any sooner. It is time for media pundits and politicians to stop fighting over words like, “civil war” and get their focus back on finding a way to end this bloodshed in Iraq. I will continue to watch Brian Williams on the NBC Nightly News because that network does a good job at reporting. I just wish they would not have pre announced their “civil war” decision on the “Today Show” this morning like some type of public service announcement.

Related: Stuck In Iraq, Bush Poll Numbers, Troops Remain Positive

Civil War Debate

NYC Police Shooting - Racism The Cause?

The Internet has been a buzz with stories out of New York City about a group of men that were shot by police when their car accidentally struck a police van, conducting surveillance, at a nightclub. Apparently, over 50 police bullets riddled the car of these young men after the accident and it goes without saying that many people in the NYC area are “up in arms” over the tactics used by the New York City Police Department and those voices now include Mayor Bloomberg, himself. None of the young men in the car had a weapon and they were heading back home after a bachelor party at the same strip club the police had under surveillance. It is much too early to place blame, for this shooting, at the feet of these New York City police officers, but most likely someone in that group of officers, panicked which caused a gun fight to break out which was totally unnecessary.

When I was thinking about what might have happened earlier today, my mind thought back to old police shows, which I have seen on television, in which the people who were under surveillance were murderous criminals which would not think twice about killing someone. If I am correct in this scenario, then it makes sense that at least one of these police officers believe his life was in mortal danger when their surveillance van was struck by this vehicle which cause him to instinctively start shooting at the people in the car. Of course, this car was not filled with criminal elements from the bar, instead they were just regular guys who were out for a good time at a bachelor party and they were most likely pretty drunk at the time the accident happened.

Police officers are trained to not panic and just start shooting because they might be in danger. Police training teaches each officer that they only fire their gun, if they know for sure that they are in danger. Most likely all of the officers who were involved in this NYC shooting will have their careers ruined because of this mistake and the young men in this car who were injured and the family of the young groom, to be, who was killed will never be the same. It really doesn’t matter what the ultimate investigation discovers as the real cause of this NYC police shooting, the truth is that dozens of lives have been altered forever in a shooting incident which was unnecessary. Most of the time I believe folks should give the police the benefit of the doubt in cases like this one, but I believe what happened in New York, this time, was purely a case of possibly tired and overworked police officers making decisions which were not based on the facts before them.

Whether it is justified or not, there is a tendency for African-Americans to mistrust police officers more than other races in the US. I believe this mistrust goes back forty or fifty years when police officers were used by white politicians to try and keep their race from becoming equal citizens in the United States. I remember how bad things got in some southern states during the civil rights movement and even though I was a young boy, I still remember black Americans having water cannons turned on them in the streets, of Alabama, by white police officers during that violent period of time in US history. While the US has made great strides in creating a “color blind” society, old habits die hard, not only for racists, but also for African-Americans who still remember how badly some people treated them, during that time, just because of their skin color.

Most major police departments, including New York City, have worked hard to include all races into their mix of police officers so their police department appears more like real society instead of a group of white men. While it might seem wrong to say this, even in this modern day and age, young black Americans who are out late at night must be more vigilant than white Americans because of old stereotypes which still live in the hearts of some members of society and in police departments. I know this attitude is wrong, but what I am talking about now is using street smarts to stay alive. There is a right and wrong way to handle any situation and nothing will be solved for a person that is wronged, if they are killed before they can plead their case.

I look forward to reading the full report of what really happened in New York City, that caused this young black man to lose his life only 24 hours before his wedding. Yes, the people involved in this shooting should be held to account and punished if they used deadly force when it was not justified. However, Americans need to constantly realize that old stereotypes still exist in this country and just like we all use street smarts when we are in unfamiliar territory, we must use those same instincts when we are in the presence of a police officer, as well. Racist attitudes are still around today, but society has caused many people to cram those inter feelings down deep inside their soul which could cause some folks to build up even more hatred towards a person with a race different from their own and explode at a moment of extreme stress.

While this shooting in New York City is a tragedy and it is receiving a great deal of media attention, other police shootings around the country are occurring each and everyday. Most of these police shootings are justified when a criminal or crazy person doesn’t care about the safety of other people around them. However, there are most likely other police shootings, which are racially motivated in the US, happening all the time, which don’t involve over 50 bullets being fired at an automobile. It only takes one bullet to snuff out a life and once that life is gone it will never return to explain what happened. For race relations to ever improve to the point of a “color blind” society, young black men must stay alive long enough to be able to tell their story to communities who care about whether racist police officers are on the force. While there is no indication that these young men in this car ever said anything to the police before they opened fire on them, I still believe staying alive is the most important aspect to finding out the truth.

When I was just a little kid my dad told me never to argue with a police officer during a traffic stop. During that traffic stop, the law allows him to be in total control over the situation and even if he insulted me, dad said to bite my tongue. Dad was right because no one ever wins an argument with a police officer on the side of the road. The only way to find justice is the leave that traffic stop and file a complaint with the officers supervisor at your earliest convenience. There is a right and wrong way to fight any situation and when a person is dealing with a possible racist police officer, that time and place is never on the side of the road during a traffic stop.

Daily Archives: | 02, 04, 07, 10, 13, 16, 19, 22, 25, 28

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Another I35 Accident - NAFTA Created Too Much Traffic

Just in time for hundreds of thousands of people trying to return home after the Thanksgiving holiday, another major traffic accident happened today outside of Waco involving an 18-wheeler truck. It seems like almost every week there is a major accident on I35 here in Central Texas as small cars, motorcycles and huge trucks try to navigate their way between San Antonio, Austin and Dallas, Texas. Since Waco is halfway in-between Austin and the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex, we see more than our fair share of these accidents, which leave travelers either injured badly or killed. Today’s accident involved an 18-wheeler truck, which jack-knifed, and then the cab of the truck ended up in traffic going one way and the trailer ended up in traffic going the opposite direction. The driver of the truck was removed using the “jaws of life” and right now I don’t know what his condition is, but he was flown to Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center by helicopter because there was no way to get an ambulance into this terrible traffic mess.

A few days ago, I needed to visit a coworkers house when his car wouldn’t start and couldn’t get to work. On the way to his house, I took a route, which went through the center of town, and I found out that idea was a bad mistake on my part because the traffic was terrible because of folks shopping for after Thanksgiving sales at local retailers. On the way back from this coworkers house, I decided to take I35 instead and it wasn’t any better. Traffic was bumper to bumper in both directions and I must admit that I was a bit scared when large truck after large truck were passing me by like I was sitting still, even though I was traveling at the speed limit of 70 MPH. Unless I am traveling out of town and have no other option, I usually avoid I35 at all costs. There are people killed everyday on this Interstate Highway and no matter what the State of Texas tries to do to improve conditions, traffic just seem to get worse all the time.

On our late local news tonight, the anchor said that traffic on I35 was backed up for over 20 miles even after the highway opened back up after hours of being shut down. Usually, road crews are able to reopen I35 more quickly, but one of the cranes they brought in to lift the overturned 18-wheeler truck from the highway, fell over onto its side. Then road crews were forced to bring in another large crane to remove the first crane and then they still had to remove the overturned truck. Mind you, this is all happening on the Sunday night after a Thanksgiving Thursday and I think everyone who has traveled anywhere on this busy holiday would have some idea of how bad traffic conditions were, even without a major truck accident on I35.

Only a few short weeks ago, another 18-wheeler truck was cut off in traffic, which lead to a terrible traffic accident on the north side of Waco. That accident killed both truck drivers that were involved in the accident when the one truck, which cross the center median, hit another large truck head on. Both of those trucks burst into flames and one of the trucks burned for over 24 hours because it was carrying asphalt roof shingles which are very flammable and hard to put out by firefighters. There is a big reason why there so much death and destruction on I35, and that reason is NAFTA. When the US entered into this trade agreement it caused an explosion of big rig truck traffic on I35 which is a main artery between Central America and Mexico into the United States. Every single year, more big rig trucks are traveling up and down I35, but capacity has not increased and many of these big 18-wheeler trucks are not safe because some foreign truck owners and governments, look the other way when it comes to keeping their rigs safe enough to pass US inspections for highway safety.

Traveling up and down Interstate 35 between San Antonio and Dallas Texas is dangerous enough without having sub-standard trucks from Mexico and Central America sharing the roadway. However, if you add these large, unsafe, trucks to the mix of traffic on this already overcrowded Interstate, a disaster is just waiting to happen and that is exactly what has been happening the past few months with frequency here in Central Texas. People should not be put in this much danger just because they want to visit family and friends over the holidays. If the US and the State of Texas want to benefit from the NAFTA treaty, then they must make sure that certain safeguards are put into place to protect the public from trucks which would not pass inspection here in the State of Texas. I do not believe that the truck involved in today’s accident was from outside the US, but I don’t know that for a fact, as of yet.

It is so important that financial interests in the United States don’t have a stronger voice in public safety than the average American who pays, through taxes, to keep this huge highway open and moving people through the day and night. Something must be done soon to ease the traffic on I35 or even more and worse disasters are going to happen, repeatedly, over the next few months and years. The State of Texas is proposing a new superhighway to take the place of I35, but even if such a highway is eventually approved and funding found to build it, the final product will take almost 50 years to be brought to completion. Right now, there must be another plan put into place where many of these foreign 18-wheeler trucks are rerouted via other highways to take the stress off of I35. Enough people have been killed already and the time for action is at hand for both state and federal lawmakers.

There is no way to prevent traffic accidents and no matter what is done there will be fatal accidents and others with injuries which will continue to occur on I35 and other major US highways. However, the odds of something going wrong where people are killed are much too high right now and something must be done to protect the public from this unacceptable danger.

Holiday Spending Down - Are Consumers Tapped Out?

Apparently, Wal-Mart was forced to reduce prices on many of their popular items on “Black Friday” in order to try and beat last years sales numbers. However, the news I read today said that Wal-Mart was unsuccessful with that strategy and the company’s year over year sales, for Black Friday, dropped for the first time in recent history. Could it be that massive credit card debt and rising interest rates are finally starting to make an impact on US consumers? I believe it is still to early in the holiday shopping season to know the answer to that question, but at some point in time, something will have to give because US consumers cannot continue to boost the US economy by borrowing money without paying it back, eventually.

For the past year, the US Federal Reserve has been raising interest rates at almost every one of their monthly meetings because they fear that inflation could start to get out of control because consumer spending has been increasing rapidly over the past several years. I try and stay out of shopping malls this time of year, but when I am forced to travel there to do some holiday shopping, it seems like nearly everyone I see, at the mall, are making Christmas purchases are using credit cards which most of them will not pay off before next Christmas rolls around. When the “Fed” increases interest rates, that causes credit card companies to reevaluate their leading practices and that causes some lower end credit card holders to either have their credit accounts canceled or future credit limit increases, frozen.

Add to these credit card problems the fact that many Americans are finding the value of their home decreasing in value for the first time, ever, there could be problems on the horizon for the US economy next year, if this Christmas turns out to be a bust for retail operations. For many businesses, 25% or more of their annual sales come between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. For borderline retail operations this short one month period of time is either a make or break time period for annual profitability and some really borderline businesses will not survive unless they are able to sell their goods at a decent profit at some point between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Eve.

Here in Central Texas, just like everywhere else in the US these days, most of the business which attract high holiday sales are the major retailers who have the deep pockets necessary to purchase their products at a discount from wholesales because of their purchasing power. I find it troubling when the nations largest retailer, Wal-Mart, is forced to lower its prices at the start of the holiday shopping season, rather than at the end. If Wal-Mart doesn’t have pricing power, then none of the other major retail operations like Target or GAP will have any purchasing power this holiday season, either. I am old enough to remember a time when there wasn’t enough household income to provide a nice Christmas for everyone on my list.

Many people under the age of 30 have not experienced or cannot remember the last time the United States suffered through years of high inflation which cause there to be a different kind of Christmas shopping season. While I have no idea if hard times will show their ugly head again in the US retail marketplace again anytime soon, they will return as sure as a rock falls back to Earth to matter how high you throw it into the air. My gut feeling is that the longer it takes for the US economy to take a break and step back from these massive year over year increases in retail sales, the harder the fall will be on all Americans. Just like stock markets and housing go through corrections, the US economy will do the same and considering how long it has been since we suffered a real recession in the US, the next recession could be a really bad one for most people.

In my opinion, hard times build character in people and that is why they are built into the economic system of the United States and many other capitalistic countries. There is an old say that goes something like this: “people would not know how nice pleasure is without first experiencing pain”. To put it simply, basic human morality is built around how we as human beings react when times are difficult. When times are good and money and credit are easy to come by, the natural human tendency is to become arrogant at our own good fortune and forget about folks who might have been somehow left behind. Hard financial times will cause a rebirth in the human, moral spirit, within us all and swing that pendulum of gluttony and self-indulgence back toward a more centered way of looking at life and more importantly ourselves.

While some of you will read this and think I am preaching gloom and doom about the future of the US economy, nothing could be further from the truth. There are natural financial forces, which will move from one economic direction to another, over time, to balance this world, economically. There have been so many years now where good jobs and easy credit have allowed millions of Americans to live out their American Dream, but at some point the people who have never experience difficult financial times will find those problems landing on their front doorstep. When this happens, many materialistic Americans, who have never known the benefit of compassion, will learn first hand what the rest of us figured out when those bad times visited our homes and families years ago.

The best news is that everyone who survives a financial downturn becomes a better and more moral person in the process, which in a way keeps this whole world from spiraling out of control with narcissism. While writing this post I keep thinking about something a man told me a long time ago. He said, “anything that doesn’t kill you, will only make you stronger”. I hate hard times and pain as much as anyone else and if there were a way to prevent them from happening to my family, I would do anything in my power to stop them. However, that is not in my power and there are always good things found in bad events, even when we find no good in them at the time they are occurring in our lives.

Related: US Style Economy, Ebay Christmas Shopping, PS3 Shopping Madness, LCD or Plasma, Annual Christmas Party

Holiday Spending Down

What Are Doctor Approved Vitamins And How Do They Help Us?

For years, there has been a battle between medical doctors and vitamins because supplement manufactures have tried to convince people that true long term good health can be found through nutritional means alone, but doctors preferred the approach of prescription medication. However, in recent years I have noticed that there is a softening between these two factions, especially in the MD world and that shift in my opinion is worth exploring. In a way, this battle between nutritionist and mainstream medicine reminds me of the extremist attitudes found throughout modern day culture. Like everything else, the truth lies somewhere in the middle between the two extremes.

Fortunately, it has been a little over a year since I had to visit my family doctor for a medical problem and at that time he told me, proudly, about how he was taking mega-doses of folic acid to lower his homocysteine levels. He provided this information without a question about this vitamin being proposed by me in advance, he said the research about high homocysteine levels in the blood and heart disease have long been linked and there was little doubt that cheap, over the counter, folic acid lowered homocysteine levels in the blood stream, effectively. I have gone to this doctor for several decades and never once before has he ever shown any interest in the value of vitamins and minerals in my diet.

Within the past few days, there has been research released from a study group in the UK, which has looked at several previous studies of homocysteine levels and heart disease. While this group did not conduct a medical study of their own, they did take several large recognized studies which had already been done and tried to draw comparison between these different studies in an effort to find real patterns which might lead to correct answers. Like my doctor told me over a year ago, there seems to be scientific evidence emerging that high homocysteine levels in the blood stream do increase a persons risk of heart disease and/or heart attacks and folic acid does lower homocysteine levels in the blood.

Another vitamin, which some doctors are starting to show interest in, is B12. While I am not a medical professional or research scientist, I have read a great deal about this vitamin and apparently when it is digested into the blood stream it works hand in hand with folic acid to enriching the human blood stream with energy to not only help the person taking it to feel better, but it also works along with folic acid to build the proper number of red blood cells and enable them to divide properly so the body has the correct number of red blood cells and they are the right size to do the most good.

While the body is able to store a large supply of Vitamin B12 for future use, when it comes to ingesting B12 into the body, it is a difficult process, indeed. B12 requires a substance called intrinsic factor, which is released, in the human stomach. Some people don’t produce enough intrinsic factor, which causes little to none of the actual vitamin to be absorbed through the small intestine during digestion. While Vitamin B12 is available in supplement form, most people agree that the best way to absorb B12 into our bodies is by eating a regular supply of red meat, which is high in B12. Needless to say that since red meat is a primary source of Vitamin B12 for people, people who don’t eat red meat are more prone to eventually become deficient in this important vitamin.

While most doctors, including my own, are not running around their offices with bottles of vitamins and handing them out like candy, there is a slight difference in the attitudes of some doctors when it comes to their patient’s consumption of important vitamins and minerals all experts agree are needed for our bodies to perform at their best each day. We all need small amounts of vitamins and minerals each day, but from my point of a view a little bit goes a long way and our bodies are very good at taking that little bit of vitamin and mineral ingestion and using it to its best advantage.

Right now, the two vitamins that my doctor believes will do the most potential good for people who may be prone to heart disease are folic acid and B12. I have personally researched these two vitamins and both seem to be safe when taken at the RDA and over time might help in the fight against coronary artery and/or heart disease. It is so critical though not to take too much of any vitamin or mineral substance without your doctor telling you to do so. However, since the RDA of both folic acid and Vitamin B12 can be found in a single multi-vitamin tablet, obtaining the right amount of these two vitamins each day is a very simple thing to accomplish without taking too much of either vitamin.

Like everyone else, my family is bombarded by advertisements, on television, by pharmaceutical companies pitching their latest drug offerings to the American people. There must be big money involved in the sale of these prescription medications by these companies because their success involves getting people to visit their doctor and convincing that doctor they want to try this or that prescription for a problem they may or may not be suffering from in the first place. Medicine and OTC vitamin and mineral supplements are both important to the health of people and it is good news to hear that some doctors are exploring the potential benefits of both, which allows their patients to have a better view of what will help them solve many medical problems which effect their lives.

Once again, the key to using vitamins and important minerals to obtain a healthier life is through long term, moderate, use of these important trace materials in your life. There are no short cuts and taking too many of each vitamin or mineral will most likely do more harm than good. Take a long-range approach toward improving your health and remember that a little bit goes a long way when it comes to improving nutritional values in your daily diet.

Read more: Generic, Prices, Medical, Plan, Food

Doctor Approved Vitamins

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Money By Google - Stock Price Continues To Climb

Google stock passed the $500 per share mark today for the first time. What a wonderful company those two young entrepreneurs created in that garage around 10 years ago. There are so many reasons why Google has been successful and grew into a household name. Now thousands of shareholders, which had faith in this company early on, are repeating financial rewards far beyond their highest expectations. Considering the latest financial milestone surpassed today by Google, I thought it might be a good time to complement this company on some of their good ideas, which have created consumer loyalty to their brand.

The first good idea that the Google founders had was to not sell out their basic concept to the highest bidder. Google was able to keep to this principle as the company grew because, unlike many other businesses, they resisted the temptation to take their company public, too soon. Often times business models are totally based on taking a company public, as soon as possible, in order to reap huge financial rewards. However, there is a big downside when a company is taken public before it has a chance to grow its brand name. That downside involves the way Wall Street analyst are fixated on quarterly profits and growth numbers.

By keep Google private for the first few years of its life; the owners were able to stick to their vision of creating a company that had a good chance at long term survival. I believe the first five years of any company are the most important and the choices made during this initial period of time will either set a good foundation or show ownership potential flaws in their business plan. There is also a huge benefit for the public who will eventually invest in a company, like Google, when it finally does go public. That benefit is received in the form of a proven track record of business decisions and profitability, without the bean counters on Wall Street giving their take on events.

Another wonderful thing that Google does is to provide high quality services, at no cost, to millions of consumers. This blog, along with hundreds of thousands of others are hosted on a company called, “Blogger”. Google owns Blogger and this huge blogging service is offered to the public at no cost to the user. Google is different from most other large companies because they offer services the average person will use and not have to pay for. Google also has a free email service called, "“Gmail” which gives everyone in the world the opportunity to send and receive email without joining an ISP. These free “Gmail” accounts can be accessed all over the world and even if a person does not own a computer, they can check their email either on a PC at work or at an Internet cafĂ©.

I know a bunch of folks who have laughed at the Google company slogan, which says, “do no evil” because most large companies are not that interested in moral attitudes like right and wrong. However, I think the founders of Google really believe in that simple and easy to remember slogan and through the years they have proven that fact. There are people who don’t like Google mainly because they have been unable to manipulate their search results with any consistency, while other people don’t like them just because of their huge success. The truth is that if a person is an honest citizen, they will get a fair shake from Google and for people like me that means more than anything else does.

The Internet is filled with stories about what Google will do next and some are even speculating about how Google will someday enter the software market and go, head to head with Microsoft. I have no idea what Google’s future plans might be, but one thing is for sure and that is when Google decides to do something new, it will not be a quick, knee jerk, decision on the part of the companies management. While I have never heard anyone from Google say this, I believe they subscribe to the same theory I do and that is no one remembers who was first with a new product or idea, people only remember who did it the best.

I learned a long time ago, when I was in the advertising business, that nothing is more important to a company or product than good branding. A sales manager at a radio station I once worked for pointed out the importance of branding to me at an early age. One day he asked what I was drinking, while I was sitting at my desk, and I said just a cold Coke. He then laughed and asked me what the label on my drink said and as I looked down at the drink it said, Pepsi. He pointed out to me that branding caused me to call all soda’s Coke Cola and he was so right. In that same way, Google is referred to by name when people talk about searching the Internet. Some people even say they are going to “Google” something instead of search for it. Google has branded its name and product in a very short period of time.

Who knows what the future holds for Google stock and/or their company, but the owners and management of that company have done a great job so far. It will be difficult to continue to grow Google at its present pace, but there might still be several more years of explosive growth before everything settles down. People who teach business, at colleges around the world, should look at the founders of Google and use their example when teaching students, in the future, about how to develop a good business plan and the patience to carry it out to its ultimate conclusion. From where I sit, the guys at Google did everything right and they should be congratulated for proving, even in this modern day and age, that the American Dream is still alive and well and, at least for the moment, residing in Mountain View, California.

Related: Stock Market Declines

Money By Google

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Ebay Christmas Shopping Grows Every Single Year

A few years ago a good friend of mine told me that he was doing all of his Christmas shopping on the Internet website, Ebay. I kind of looked at him funny and said that was great. Really down deep inside I thought that idea kind of sounded silly, but I never let on to him about my real feelings. Now fast forward a couple of years and millions of people are doing all or most of their Christmas shopping on Ebay and just like other American business icons, the website Ebay has become a trusted household name in the United States. People attend businesses schools all the time hoping to learn how to start and run a successful business and most of the time these folks fail to ever achieve long lasting financial success. However, who ever started Ebay was at the right place at the right time and most importantly with the money they needed to get this online shopping idea off the ground.

At work, I have overheard many people talking about doing their Christmas shopping on Ebay this year and these folks who are talking this way are not your above average computer type personality. Some never use computers at work except to clock in and out using the time clock feature, but at home they have their browser homepage set to Ebay and they visit that site several times per day. In a way, I can see how an Ebay type of website would interest some people at Christmas time. There are basically two types of people in this world when it comes to shopping, those that love to shop and those who hate it. Ebay is a perfect place for folks to buy stuff for Christmas and not even have to leave their house to do so.

Mind you, I am not an Ebay regular visitor at all. In fact, I have never purchased anything on their website. However, just like many other modern features of life, I believe I might be falling behind the curve when it comes to online shopping and the good deals which some people seem to be finding on Ebay. Until I actually visited the Ebay website, recently, I thought it was some kind of “flee market” online, just like some of the ones which dot the Texas landscape and draw customers looking for bargains on the weekend. However, I was wrong about Ebay because there is so much more to their online shopping website than a bunch of individuals selling junk they found in their attic or garage.

There are real life products, which have never been removed from their original boxes that are for sale on Ebay at a fraction of what they would cost in a local retail store. Another myth I once thought about Ebay was that the site was mainly used to sell novelty items like baseballs from important games. I thought this because every time someone hit a home run that broke a record, the next thing I heard was that the person who caught the ball was auctioning it off to the highest bidder on Ebay. Sure these kinds of auctions are on Ebay, but they are a small percentage of the regular everyday items, which are sold on this massive and popular website.

I guess I am just too old to get on this Ebay bandwagon and this year I will do my Christmas shopping the same way I have done for the past 10 years. I will either give gift certificates or cash to friends and family for Christmas. I know this makes me look very lazy and to some folks I might appear like Scrooge. When I was young I always tried to put a lot of thought and time into the purchase of each gift, but over the years holiday shopping became more of a chore than a pleasure and I found that most people I know prefer to receive a gift certificate or cash instead of some gift I think they will like which never really works out the way that I planned. To those, of you, who are like I use to be and enjoy shopping for the perfect gift for each person at Christmas, then Ebay does make a lot of sense.

Eventually, I will buy something on Ebay. I did join their service so I could make bids on products if I wanted to, but so far that is as far as I have gone. I did have a friend at work give me some pointers about Ebay when he said that he only made bids on products for sale at that website in the last hour the item was up for bids. He told me that bidding any earlier than that will assure that someone else will outbid you right before the auction ends. That made sense to me and when I think about the competitive nature of shopping in an online auction situation, I also understand why some folks seem to be “hooked” on shopping at Ebay.

There are so many things to buy on Ebay I wouldn’t know where to start if I were just a casual shopper. I guess the best way to use their service is to know what you want, then make a search for that product using their search system and then start bidding on items that are for sale and whose auction will be ending within one hour. I am intrigued by this whole Ebay idea and I might just bid for and buy something soon that doesn’t cost a bunch of money, just to try my hand at this whole online auction idea. For those of you reading this that shop on Ebay all the time, please excuse my lack of knowledge about how the whole system works and my initial fear of using something which most of you feel comfortable using and take for granted on a daily basis. Maybe some time soon, I too, will enjoy Ebay just like everyone else seems to.

Related: Holiday Spending Down, PS3 Shopping Madness, LCD or Plasma, Annual Christmas Party

Ebay Christmas Shopping

Judith Regan Under Fire - OJ Simpson Getting Paid?

The more I read about this whole OJ Simpson, Judith Regan book and interview deal, the more I believe Simpson will be paid something for his participation, even if it is done in a very secret way. Everyone is denying that any such financial arrangement has been made, but in today’s society where no one famous does anything with earning money, it is hard to believe that OJ Simpson is allegedly confessing to this horrible crime just for the fun of it. To millions of people, if there were a picture next to the name of Satin in the dictionary, it would be a photo of OJ Simpson. The really sad situation behind this book and television show deal is that it is putting the families of these two dead people back through all the trauma they experience when their family members were first killed.

What we are witnessing here is the worst that journalism and television news have to offer and millions of people are fed up with reporters who will try and take advantage of a miscarriage of justice only to line their own pockets with money. To me, anyone who enters into an interview and book deal with OJ Simpson is participating in paying “blood money” for the privilege. While Simpson is basking in the glow of worldwide media attention right now, the face behind this whole tragedy, Judith Regan is catching all kinds of hell from the media and the public for her bad choice in interviewing OJ Simpson. Another big loser in this story is Fox Broadcast Television and the Fox News Channel. Both are owned by Rupert Murdock who is one of the biggest media tycoons in the world.

Judith Regan has given several interviews in the run up to this Fox Broadcast Television event and once it started getting hot in the kitchen, Ms. Regan started talking about how this whole book and television deal was designed to get something the LA police department was unable to obtain and that was a confession by OJ Simpson. I think that kind of talk by Regan is total “hogwash” and right now she is just trying to salvage her career after this stupid idea of hers went totally wrong with the public. While the American people are usually forgiving of people who make mistakes, no one is forgiving OJ Simpson because he still refuses to admit that he killed his ex-wife and Ron Goldman.

Instead, OJ Simpson decided to play another “cat and mouse game” with the media and the American public with this book and television deal where he will most certainly be paid something by someone under the table. Simpson owes millions of dollars to the Goldman and Brown families because of a judgment they received because a jury believed OJ Simpson killed their loved ones. Right now OJ Simpson is living off of his NFL retirement, which cannot be touched by the Goldman and Brown families because the law does not permit it. I really didn’t know much about this Judith Regan lady until all this OJ interview crap started hitting the fan early last week.

Regan is learning first hand that the fastest way to destroy a career in the major media is to get involved in anyway with OJ Simpson. I read somewhere last week that Barbara Walters was given the first chance at this OJ Simpson interview and turned it down flat. Ms. Walter’s understands all too well that the American people will never accept anyone paying OJ Simpson money, unless he admits to and is punished for his crime. While the American people are known for having a short memory when it comes to big news stories, the OJ Simpson case is an exception to that rule. Most Americans don’t want to see this guy or hear him peddle his lies on television or in a book anymore.

I wrote last week about the outrage some anchors on Fox News are showing because of this interview on their sister network. I still believe that much of their outrage is designed to promote this show to the public by condemning it on their cable channel. It is a proven fact that the fastest way to sell a product in the United States is to tell the public that it is terrible and urge them not to watch it. This is the same kind of thing that happens when wrecks occur at the site of another traffic accident. The human tendency to “rubber neck” at something terrible is almost irresistible. I wonder if any national advertisers are going to decide to keep their commercials on this Fox program? My guess is they will not and Fox Television might just cancel this show from their line-up.

Even in a modern secular world there must be some standards of decency and offering any kind of incentive to OJ Simpson to write a book or appear on television is crossing that line. OJ Simpson is damaged goods and anyone who touches this guy in any way; form or fashion is going to become damaged, too, in the process. I hope this latest outrage by the American people against this OJ Simpson television show will once and for all teach young journalist a powerful lesson about rewarding bad behavior in America. The people of the United States are good and decent people and while it may be easy to trick some folks into watching programs just because they are sensational, there are some rules that all Americans follow and rewarding OJ Simpson in anyway, breaks those rules and will be condemned by a vast majority of the public.

In conclusion, I would just like to offer my sympathy to the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. You never found justice in the California court system and media types like Judith Regan are only pouring alcohol on your still open wounds. I hope you will take the public’s negative reaction to this stupid book and television deal with the knowledge that the vast majority of the American people fell terrible for your loss and regret deeply the miscarriage of justice that was allowed to be played out when OJ Simpson was put on trial for the deaths of your beloved family members.

Tom Cruise Selling Wedding Pictures Of Castle Wedding

Thousands of people waited patiently in the streets hoping against hope that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes would step out after their much hyped, Italian Castle, wedding last weekend and wave to the crowd. However, that never happened and after reading how much money (TomKat) are planning on selling their wedding pictures for, it does make some sense why no one, except invited guest were allowed to see Cruise and Holmes in their full wedding garb take their vows. A pattern is developing when it comes to this famous couple and that pattern involves selling pictures of their relationship to the highest bidder.

I remember when their child was born a few months ago and no one except some close friends were able to see the new baby and even when friends were invited to see the child they were told not to bring a camera. A few months later, we all discovered why Tom and Katie were keeping their new young baby under wraps and that was because they intended to make a killing off the babies pictures by selling them to some magazine who was will to pay big bucks for the exclusive rights to display the pictures for the first time. I have a gut feeling that all of the guest at the (TomKat) wedding this past weekend were told and probably searched for cameras before the ceremony started. This is a really a nice way to treat people who are suppose to be your closest friends, now isn’t it?

The reason Tom Cruise fans were not allowed to see this famous couple after their marriage in Italy is most likely because the couple is going to earn even more money by selling the pictures of their wedding to some magazine for millions of dollars. While it is not my duty to preach right and wrong and/or morality to Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, it does seem like they are both obsessed with the idea of making money off of their relationship by keeping everything they do a secret unless someone is willing to pay their price for exclusive rights to the pictures. When I heard that Tom Cruise chartered a 747 to fly guest to Italy for their wedding, I thought that was a very generous thing to do. However, I am now suspecting that very little of his own money went into this weekend wedding extravaganza, once the wedding pictures are sold for millions of dollars.

It is not wrong for people to make money off of their fame, but shouldn’t there be some moral line that is not crossed? Something just doesn’t seem right about selling pictures of your baby to the highest bidder and running a close second to that is selling your wedding pictures to total strangers who are willing to pay your price. Maybe I am just being too “old fashion” when it comes to these modern day Hollywood weddings and this is just how business is done these days with all rich and famous people. However, something about the whole idea of selling pictures of events which should be something special between just the couple and close friends, doesn’t seem right, to me. Of course, no one has accused the famous in Hollywood of having a good moral compass in recent years.

I guess what I am trying to write here is that Tom Cruise seems to believe that everything in his life must have a price tag on it to hold any kind of value. Maybe he has not learned yet that the best things in life are free or maybe he just doesn’t go along with that way of thinking. The obsession for money and material things has caused many people to end up with little in the way of real friendships and relationships later in life and unfortunately that may be what will be facing Tom Cruise, years for now, when he gets old and the public who cares so much about his every move today, moves on to another Hollywood hunk flavor of the month. I believe no matter how famous a person becomes, there is still a need to keep some kind of boundary system so money and greed don’t consume that person.

If (TomKat) decide to seclude themselves from the public unless someone is willing to pay just to see their pretty faces, then something dreadfully wrong has happened to the thinking of this young and promising couple. I believe that Tom Cruise is the driving force behind this selling of his wife and child, but it could be that Katie Holmes is just like him when it comes to earning money off of priceless possessions like the pictures of ones child. Maybe famous folks like Tom Cruise are just running their lives like some type of “pay per view” event on cable television where if people really want to see what happens in their everyday life, they will have to pay for the privilege?

Several years ago I watched a movie called “The Truman Show” where a young boy was followed, without his knowledge, through life in a fake world, which was created by a TV executive. Millions of people tuned in around the world to watch this guy named Truman live his life in front of a television camera. What Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are doing right now, by selling off pictures of their baby and now wedding to the highest bidder, reminds me of what was happening to Truman in that movie. The only real different is people could watch Truman on television for free, where the real life story of (TomKat) is a “pay per view” event. I am happy for anyone who finds true love and decides to settle down and raise a family of their own, but this whole (TomKat) deal doesn’t seem like the real deal to me.

Maybe I am just being too cynical about this whole situation and if the roles were reversed I might do the same thing. However, what I believe is really going on here is a designed marriage, rather than one built on love, being used to earn millions of dollars for the couple involved. If this does turn out to be reality in the future, how will Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes tell their young child, about their choices, in the future? Will they say you were created in love or will they be forced to say you were created for the purpose of earning money for your mom and dad?

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Clueless John Kerry - Iraq Soldier Joke Not Funny

Former democratic presidential nominee, John Kerry, said on television Sunday that his “so called joke”, that went wrong, would not keep him from seeking the nomination of his party once again to run for President of the United States. Apparently, Kerry is living in some other kind of world from the rest of us when he makes statement like that only a couple of weeks after he almost cost his own political party their victory in the US Congress. In future elections, the old style liberal democratic candidates are going to be “shut out” when running for the presidency because finally the Democratic Party has learn what it takes to win a national election in the United States. John Kerry is such “old news” when it comes to a run for the White House and while most other people already know this fact, it will take some time before he discovers that times have not only changed in America, but also in the new Democratic Party.

The tired old ways of liberalism are dead and soon the same fate will happen to conservatism. John Kerry lives in a world of intellectuals who believe that they are so mentally superior to other regular folks, that within their own mind’s they can solve all of the worlds problems with new ideas from their smarter brains. This John Kerry attitude is found most often on the campuses of major Universities which are filled with tenured professors who believe their superior knowledge will lead to a better world. No regular thinking person has any respect of an intellectual know it all, so these type of pompous folks tend to stick together and listen to each other try and prove their superior intellect to one another.

I will say this about John Kerry, he definitely married up, as George W. Bush was fond of saying during his 2000 presidential campaign about his wife, Laura. While both John Kerry and his wife are elitist, they do try and come across to the average Democrat as some type of “blue collar” politician. Most Democrats are not buying it anymore and that stupid joke Kerry told a few days before the last election proves that he is totally out of touch with working Americans. The real answer to problems in the United States are found through working together, so everyone benefits from being an American citizen. Liberals hate conservatives and conservatives hate liberals, but the vast majority of Americans just want to have a peaceful country where everyone minds their own business and tries to get along with each other.

The last presidential election between John Kerry and George W. Bush was the most ideologically driven US presidential election in my lifetime. Talk about two people from completely opposite sides of the political spectrum. At some point in time, the American people are going to learn that both liberals and conservatives are playing them like fools in a political game, which only provides losers. While President Bush claims to be a man of the people, most folks have learned that this is not really the case after watching him lead our nation for almost seven years. On the other hand, John Kerry is no where close to being a man of the people because I think he truly believes that he is smarter than most other people and he also considers it his mission in life the lead the lost souls of America to a better, more liberal, way of life.

Since 2008 is a presidential election year, it would be wonderful news if both the Democrats and Republicans nominate moderate candidates to run as their party’s representative for President of the United States. If that happens then the US will have a chance to pull itself back from the brink of the disaster each political party’s hard-core extremist have taken this country to the past few years. It is pretty easy to spot an extremist because their vision of the world is so narrow, only a true ideologue could live successfully within it. We have all now seen how bad the ideology of conservatism can become and decades ago we saw how bad the ideology of liberalism could be, as well. The only real path to peace, happiness and continue prosperity in the United States is through a path of removing the hatred from politics and electing moderate leaders.

Ideology, either from the right or left is wrong and eventually the American people will come to their senses and reject the extremist views from both sides of the political spectrum. When I was young, people mocked extremist personalities because they did not fit into the mainstream. Over time liberalism got out of control in the US and during the Bush administration, conservatism did the same thing. Political leaders like John Kerry and President Bush will not be reflected on fondly when their histories are written years from now by more moderate thinking historians. More than likely those writers will see, as plain as day, how both brands of extremism nearly tore this country to pieces.