Friday, May 07, 2021

4723 How to Vote in Flexas


4723 How to Vote in Flexas

 What besides turning back the clock can stop you from voting? Well, there’s always the Poll Tax.

 How to vote WHERE?  Flexas, the combined states of FL-orida and t-EXAS.  Two big states. Two states with a combined total of 70 electors in the Electoral College.  A force in any election.

 

At this writing, Florida has made voting harder than ever.  Texas already is the toughest state in which to vote and plans to make it even harder.  Two red states. Both with their feet firmly planted in the Confederacy. Both dominated by Republicans from when Democrats stopped being Dixiecrats.

 

Florida’s governor went to palm beach to sign the new restrictions in a celebration sponsored by a trump fan club. Texas is still working on its version of similar restrictions. But barring a lightning strike, there’s no chance they’ll fail in the legislature or the governor won’t sign them into law.

 

What’s the big idea behind all this?  If you ask the sponsors, they’ll tell you it’s fairness.  Fairness to whom?  Well… voters.  If you want to sail through the line on election day, be white.  

 

You say you are that? OK, just make sure you have all your identification papers in order and with you.  Bring your own water bottle so you don’t have to ask for someone to bring you one while you’re on line in 110 degree heat.  Same with sunscreen.  Make sure you’re wearing some even if the line is indoors. Sunshine in Flexas penetrates roofs.

 

If you can’t be white, at least have a government issued i.d. Of some kind… a passport, a driver’s license.  Even if the poll watcher is someone you’ve lived next to for 50 years and your kids all grew up together and played in each other’s yards.

 

What’s behind all this nonsense?  The answer is both simple and easy.  The White Knights or Republican party can’t win elections.  So the next best thing is to make sure you’re one of them … or at least LOOK like one of them.

 

Here’s an extra tip:  Don’t wear religious garb… you know… Dashikis or something that makes you look like you just got back from a pilgrimage to Mecca or those high-fashion black getups the Hasidim wear.

 

If you’re wearing religious accessories, make sure they’re crosses, not six-pointed stars or crescent moons.  If you’re a man in a suit or sport coat, a confederate flag pin will be as good as an America flag pin. Sometimes better.

 

If you’re a black male, a shaved head is a threat.  If you’re a white male with a skin head, well, skinheads are perfectly acceptable. Jackboots, too.  But leave the Swastika armbands at home.  It’s not that anyone will object, but it makes those newly empowered poll watchers uncomfortable.

 

See?  It’s simple. Compliance is easy.  As long as you’re white. And don’t worry about the obvious inconsistency of hating the government but still carrying government I.D. cards. Even if you’re a “Sovereign Citizen.” 

 

SHRAPNEL:

--Bill and Melinda Gates are getting divorced. It’s “amicable.” So why do they both need lawyers?

 

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®

Any Questions?  wesrichards@gmail.com

© WR 2021

 


Wednesday, May 05, 2021

MINI 017 The Latest Shortage

 Shortages.  We’ve learned to live with them during the pandemic.  Toilet paper and paper towels in the beginning. Now microchips, some automotive parts and… wait for it… decorative river rocks.

 

Yes, river rocks are in short supply and the prices are as high as the quarries they come from are deep. Wait a minute. Quarries?  Yes.  Quarries.

 

River rocks mostly don’t come from rivers.  They come from dry land.  All those rocks in your garden or around your shrubs?  Do you have romantic visions of dredges on the Mighty Mississippi or the Colorado?  Monster machines that haul those pretty stones out of the drink? Guess again.  Or better yet, switch your mental picture.

 

That’s not how it happens.  River rocks are mined from landlocked quarries.  Now, you may ask, have we run out of landlocked quarries? No. At least not yet.  But all the building that’s going on has promoted a pell-mell race to grind up the rocks so they can be used to build roads and skyscrapers.

 

If we don’t do that for a while longer, there may soon be a skyscraper shortage.  

 

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®

Any Questions? wesrichards@gmail.com

© WR 2021 

Monday, May 03, 2021

4722 Low Level Voter Suppression


Cutsie Condos in Flyover, PA.

 Talk about voter suppression.  The Annual Meeting of the Cutsie Condo Association is to be held later this month on Zoom.  And we’re all invited to listen. Listen but not speak.  We may see but probably may not be seen.  Democracy in the private sector.

 

The Mealymouth Management company says they can cram in more participants by … um … not letting them participate. Seventy two families own property in Cutsie.  Average attendance at past annual meetings has been in the neighborhood of maybe 15.  Fifteen onlookers on Zoom will allow dozens more to show up. Most of them won’t.

 

But -- perish forbid! -- management is not trying to silence the owners.  They have proposed a workaround.  A link they can use to submit questions and comments.  You’d think that offer would be made on a website so people can click on it and fill out a form. You’d be wrong. It’s in a snail mail form letter. The link is 47 characters long.

 

Try typing that without error. Should anyone do this right they will be directed to more complications.  

 

What would happen if they tried something like this in congress?  Okay, boys and girls, the Zoom Meeting of the House of Representatives of the United States is in session, the Hon. Nancy Pelosi presiding.

 

Most members would be able to hear and see Nancy but wouldn’t be allowed to vote.  They’d be able to hear and see the various committee chairs and senior members of the opposing party.  But when it comes to a vote?  Well, let’s not get picky.  After all, y’all chose leaders.  Let them lead you.

 

There’s also a lesson for corporate boards of directors here.  Especially the so-called independent directors.  Sit home and watch, ladies and gentlemen. But when it comes to a vote? Well, we haven’t figured that out yet.

 

Better yet, hold the annual stockholder meetings like that. Think of the fiscal responsibility. No renting of a giant hotel. No bar bills. No transportation costs or troubles.  And, of course, no descent and no votes.

 

Lessons to dismantle democracy! Starting at the lowest possible level unless they start holding block parties using this model.

 

Maybe there should be a demonstration outside the main hall of the Mealymouth Management company’s “world headquarters” which is in a hunting cabin deep in the woods where GPS systems don’t work.  Just make sure you keep the demonstration peaceful.  Carry signs that say, “Free the Cutsie Condo 72.” Chant “what do we want?” “The right to vote.” And “when do we want it?” “NOW.”

 

Anyone have Al Sharpton’s phone number? I lost my copy decades ago.

 

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®

Any Questions? wesrichards@gmail.com

© WR 2021

  

Friday, April 30, 2021

4721 Raiding Rudy

 

 

There’s something ironically delicious about the Justice Departments raiding Rudolph Giuliani’s home and office at dawn the other day.  After all, he began his public career as a US Attorney, albeit one with a mile-high pile of overturned convictions.

 

He went on to become Mayor of the City of New York, an office he could not have won again until 9/11 when his 23rd floor bunker was destroyed and he looked for the moment like a decent leader.

 

Since then, he has reverted to form, becoming a high-profile ambulance chaser and twister of words and concepts as too many others in his “profession” are.

 

The raiders on Rudy strongholds on two of the city’s snazziest streets, took out boxes of documents, computers, cell phones in various conditions including dead and who knows what-all else.

 

Will any of this draw formal charges?  We’ll find out eventually. But even if they don’t, the damage has been done.

 

He has shot himself in the foot so often and so well, it’s a wonder he can still walk… if he can.  No one has seen him taking a step recently.  And some of the steps he took when we knew he could still walk were really missteps.

 

They include but are not limited to

--Letting one of his wives know she was fired by informing her of his girlfriend during a public event.

--Trying to dig up dirt by traveling to Ukraine.

--Conducting private business on the government’s dime during his non-digging breaks while in Ukraine.

--Representing donald trump at the impeachment.

--Turning Times Square into Disneyland.

--Fighting crime by arresting window breakers and turnstile jumpers while...

--Sloppily prosecuting mobsters who later grinned their way to freedom on appeal.

 

So just what are investigators investigating?  Giuliani’s lawyer, Robert Costello says among other things they’re looking into “alleged” failure to register as a foreign agent. 

 

That law has been around since the Nazi/World War II era.  It hasn’t been enforced a lot in recent years.  But it says clearly that if you are going to lobby for a foreign power in this country, you have to register.

 

Registration probably isn’t all that tough.  You have to fill out a form and wait.  These are things that don’t come easily to -- um -- certain people.  There are prescribed punishments for violations. They include fines that most of us would have trouble scraping up.  Those same certain people don’t have that problem. Convicts also can do serious jail time.  Rudy may think that orange is not “his color.” And we all look fatter in horizontal stripes.

 

So, in his discussions with officials in Ukraine, did Rudy violate the law?  Or was it all on the up-and-up?  The US didn’t have a bug in the table lamp.  The Ukrainian Prosecutor General may have.  If there’s tape, obtaining it will require some diplomacy -- probably something like buying tanks and short-range missiles.  Our diplomats often deny doing anything like that.  

 

Note to America’s Mayor:  If you have to do time -- unlikely as you think that may be, be thankful it’s here and not where you get borscht and Jell-O three times a day. Oh, and Rudy, thanks for the little reaction rant. Yeah, sure we’re jealous of your fame and fortune.

 

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®

Any Questions? wesrichards@gmail.com

© WR 2021

 


Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Mini 016 Masks

 

Pity the makers of designer masks.  Government intervention, that old conservative bedeviler, looks ready to put these poor small business owners back on the bread line.  Why?  Because mask wearing took a giant step off a cliff when the CDC listed a whole new slew of conditions in which masks were no longer needed for fully vaccinated Americans.

 

There you have it! First, they make us wear them.  Then when the great old American spirit of innovation takes over and masks are marketed with funny sayings, cute decorations and interesting patterns, they’re going to tell us to stop unless we’re in a crowded stadium or auditorium.

 

Of course, many of the so-called Sovereign Citizens shrugged off these government mandates right from the start.  So they’re left as rebels without a cause.  

 

Well, here’s a suggestion that might help replace the emptiness anti-maskers must feel right now.  Order some of those designer items… with slogans on them. There’s MAGA, “Don’t Tread on Me,” “White Rights” and “First National Bank of (wherever.)” You’ll be supporting your fellow Americans and thumbing your nose at Washington. It doesn’t get any better than that.

 

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them.

Any Questions? wesrichards@gmail.com

© WR 2021

 


Monday, April 26, 2021

4720 Awards

 Clip and save. Distribute to everyone.

 The Oscars were fun to not watch.  But they ARE fun to talk about, criticize and nit-pick. The awards went to an unusually diverse group of Hollywooders. Chloe Zhao is the first woman of color to win best director. Her “Nomadland” also won best picture and best actress. The gossip mill predicted that best actor would go to Chadwick Boseman who died of cancer last year. Instead, it went to nostalgia favorite Anthony Hopkins.

 

Hopkins did not show up for the slimmed down and laboriously dull ceremony… and neither did either a host or a civilian audience.

 

All this brings to mind the value of most awards. The Nobel Prize… the Pulitzer Prize… the Prize Patrol.  All worth your attention.  The rest of them?  That endless list of certificates and statuettes showered on … everyone?  They’re like gold stars on your kindergarten class participation cards and participation trophies.  

 

They’re like bruises. Eventually, everyone gets one.  We love to pat ourselves and each other on the back.  Attaboy! Attagirl! 

 

They’re getting to be as populous as rabbits. Perfect attendance. Fourteenth place among the top three of the Moote Pointe Little League championship.  Passed Algebra-one.  Really, really, really tried hard.

 

C’mon, guys.  What’s next in this department? Don’t put it past the Census takers to give out “special person” certificates to everyone they count.  After all, you are one, aren't you? Of course you are. 

 

Naysayers be gone! What do you mean by insinuating that if everyone’s special, no one is special?

 

How about a prize for being “normal?” Or ordinary. Or not falling asleep in church?

 

Your correspondent again this year participated in a trade association journalism awards program.  Two of the nominees in my little group were for sleep inducing podcasts. If sleep induction were a factor… they’d have been big winners.  The third was for continuing coverage of a story that’s impossible to cover badly.  It’s a good thing the trophies were cheap. 

 

In the case of the Oscars, the awards usually mean bigger box office and frequent re-runs. Good for the Hollywood economy because few of us have been able to get to the movies during the pandemic. And unlike trophies, popcorn and Bon-bons, movies are not cheap.  Are they “better than ever” as the old saying insisted?  We report, you decide.  If you can get there to see them. They certainly are more intimately photographed, and their stories more intimately told. They certainly feature more minorities… formerly rare recipients either in front of or behind the camera.

 

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®

Any Questions?  wesrichards@gmail.com

© WR 2021

 


Friday, April 23, 2021

4719 What Privacy?

 

I dislike writing about myself.  But here I go again. I keep harping on internet stuff. Podcasts, surveys and other annoyances have recently shared this space.  Here’s another.  

 

Decades of playing or playing at stringed musical instruments is a big part of life here.  So are subscriptions to “updates” from the sellers of the same.  There are about 100 merchants in the “favorites” or “bookmarks” column on the browser.

 

One morning, dreaming of a new amplifier (I only have three!) I stumbled over a new one from one of the major brands and it was shown in the daily emails from an aggressive but reliable merchant in the Midwest. Nice, detailed pictures. All the right bells and whistles. Light enough in weight for a diminished senior citizen to tote to his next gig.  A pretty good price. Maybe free shipping (to be determined.) Maybe they’ll forget to collect out of state sales tax. 

 

Not an hour later comes a personalized email: “Hey, can we help you out?  We noticed you were interested in the (insert name of product.)” 

 

You noticed?  Just how did that happen?  Five hundred bucks.  Not a big deal for a category of stuff that can range well into the high four figures.

 

There are obviously some pretty sophisticated algorithms floating in the ether.  They send an email. Then they look over your shoulder while you read it.  And if you should actually explore an item available for sale, they know it and pounce like a cat on a sleeping or disabled mouse or bird or -- these days -- cicada. 

 

This raises an interesting question. What else do they know but don’t tell you they’ve spotted.  Is someone tracking everything you look at?  Are you ready to switch from “Edge” or “Chrome” and do everything online on the so-called dark web?  And how dark is the dark web now that we’re on that subject?

 

One service promises to bounce your i.p. address through a maze of others in a maze of countries a billion miles from here -- wherever here is.  Do they really?  Can you, yes you… sitting there in East Nowhere, South Carolina convince an artificial intelligence machine that you’re in Bulgaria or Rwanda?

 

And does it matter?  Can the receiver trace your breadcrumbs back to East Nowhere?

 

This merchant has spent decades building good will… and in many cases deserves it.  Or did until now.

 

So pardon this, but here’s a note to that merchant, sent only through this blog:

 

Sirs: I am an old guy who has shopped with you for a good long time and who loves to watch the stuff you promote. But as someone who hasn’t played in public in decades, I resent the kind of invasion of privacy you just demonstrated. I won’t outright tell you who I am, but it’s usually right there in the signoff.

 

Now, we’ll see if these people are really on their artificially intelligent toes.  If the emails stop, I’m on to something we all can use.

 

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®

Any Questions?  wesrichards@gmail.com

© WR 2021

 


Wednesday, April 21, 2021

MINI 015 Derek and George

 

Murderer Derek Chauvin sat in court all those dreary days of his trial looking like the cop who pulls over a ditzy disconnected drunk driver, his face an arrogant combination of sneer and smirk looking for all the world like the guy who a jury just can’t wait to convict of… something; anything.  Deliberations took little more than a day in the jury room in Minneapolis.

 

The guilty verdicts he heard wiped both the sneer and the smirk from his face.  Guilty of second-degree murder. Guilty of manslaughter. Guilty of third-degree murder. Bail revoked. Remanded.  Park yourself in a cell for sentencing in two months.

 

But George Floyd is still dead, killed while cuffed, on the hard ground with Chauvin’s knee on his neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds. The verdict was a verdict – that’s all – not a resurrection.

 

Minneapolis was tense before the verdict came in late on Tuesday afternoon. National Guard, police and other lawmen and women were ready for trouble, which surely would have come had Chauvin been declared not guilty.

 

One bad cop taken out of circulation. Others in the case awaiting their fates. These crimes are supposed to be decided on the evidence alone. They rarely are. They weren’t this time.

 

Outside Minneapolis – and maybe inside – how many similar cases are waiting to happen for the next white Chauvin and the next Black Floyd?

 

And yes… it can happen to anyone of any race.  And it will.

 

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®

Any Questions? wesrichards@gmail.com

© WR 2021

 


Monday, April 19, 2021

4718 So Many Surveys, So Little Time

 

 We are inundated with surveys online and on the phone. Sometimes door to door. If placed in a line, the pile of collected data will soon reach Pluto.  Or at least it will give space aliens an easy-to-read pathway for their flying saucers to Area 51.

 

Here’s a one-sentence Wessays survey: “Do you think anyone reads the data and if they do will do anything with it?”

 

Answer if you like.  But here’s a promise: I won’t read your answer, just put it on the path for saucer navigators.

 

Who wants to know whether you’d recommend Sonic or Dairy Queen as a venue for your next divorce celebration?  Or if you enjoyed your latest experience with Walnut Springs National Bank where you went to plead for more time to pay this month’s mortgage, along with last months and the months before?

 

What will happen to Suzie Bell or Billyjo, your friendly virtual assistants from Bloatware Customer Service?  If Suzie or Billyjo did a good job, will they be taken off probation for their usual automated nonsense to your questions?  Yes, robots and software can be put on probation just like real boys and girls.

 

“Limiting your response to your recent call to Customer Service Agent Henry in San Jose (who really isn’t Henry and really is in Bhopal), how satisfied were you with …” this is followed by several rows of areas in which “Henry” was asked to solve a problem with your new Bloatware Package of Important Programs. Check the appropriate boxes.

 

The question they never ask whether you waited for an hour before you got a live body?

 

Another question they never ask: On a scale of minus five to plus ten, how did you like our music on hold?  There never is a box you can check that says you aren’t a fan of the instrumental cover of the medley of Meatloaf’s Greatest Hit.

 

Maybe this is all wrong.  Maybe people really DO read these things and act on them. Here’s an example.

 

Scene: The Boardroom at Bloatware LLC. 

 

Cast: 

--Chairman and CEO Octavius Bloat and Director of Surveys 

--Automata Bloat-Wingtip, his adult daughter.

 

ABW: Dad, this fellow Henry in San Jose is getting a lot of positive feedback.

 

OB: Fire his ass before he asks for a raise. And make sure you do it before the end of the quarter.

 

ABW: Ok.  Do you have his address in Bhopal?

 

OB: I thought he was in San Jose.

 

ABW: You ordered me to close the San Jose office two months ago.  Everyone in customer service is in either Bhopal or Manila now.

 

OB: No, I don’t have his email. Check with Human Resources. Now, what about the reaction to our music on hold?

 

ABW: Everyone hates it.

 

OB: Good. The more hangups in disgust the fewer customers we have to deal with.

 

ABW: They hate the waiting time, too.

 

OB: Same answer as before.  Wanna grab some lunch? I hear Sonic has a new kind of bacon cheeseburger.

 

ABW: I wonder if they have Meatloaf.

 

Keep filling out those surveys.  Octavius and Automata really listen.  And they act.

 

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®

Any Questions?  wesrichards@gmail.com

© WR 2021

 


Friday, April 16, 2021

4717 A Fresh Look at Podcasts

 

NPR remains the best sleeping pill on the air. But it has a new competitor that is nipping at its heels, the podcast.  

 

Podcasts are usually long form reports on topics that deserve short-term coverage.  Sometimes, they’re done by professionals with credentials.  But like blogs, anyone can make a podcast and somehow, somewhere, someone will listen.  Your mother and probably your significant other or prospective significant other will sample your work.

 

The possibilities for serious listening or viewing are endless. What ends up being endless is the time you have to spend listening to get to the point. Most of them are too long.

 

There are several popular formats. Most podcasters follow one or more of them.

 

THE SELF-ANOINTED AUTHORITY: This is the favorite of people who believe others pay him insufficient attention.  It’s a chance for the uncredentialed pundit to explore, expound and expectorate on or about any subject. The easiest and most common topic is politics because the sun never sets on that game.  Someone’s always in play and guesswork and speculation are as good as hits and runs.

 

THE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW: You finally met the world’s leading expert on anything.  Often it’s the Self-Anointed Authority of the previous section.  You get the chance to draw him out in a little less time than it would take to read Robert Caro’s series of books about Lyndon Johnson.  Alternative: get a bigger hard drive. You’re going to need it.

 

THE MAKE BELIEVE TALK SHOW:  Michael Savage is trying this.  It is not working. The few who listen are only there because they expect the guy to explode like an angry boil and they haven’t craned their neck at a decent fender bender in weeks.

 

THE FAILED STANDUP COMEDIAN: When the crowds fall silent at the comedy club, these guys know they have to do something about their acts.  Earth to failed standup comedians: No one cares. The crowds remain silent and short-lived as an ice cube in Phoenix in August.  But drier.

 

There are some blogs and bloggers who can be useful on an ad hoc basis.  Here are two.

 

THE CHEF: You’re Significant Other has invited your future inlaws to dinner.  You know they’re big fans of, say, ambergris.  You have no idea what it is, let alone how to make it.  You can be sure there’s a video on YouTube.  It will last 30 minutes.  The first ten will be about its history in Colonial America.  The last ten will recap the first ten.  In between will be the recipe.  Surely, your future inlaws are worth the effort.

 

THE DIY MAVEN:  This form can actually be helpful. Handy Harry will teach you in words and pictures how to fix a leaking toilet or wire a light switch or cast a fishing rod or improve your golf swing.  But these are not areas that most of us need. Still, it’s nice to know they’re there.

 

We have long been under advice ranging from suggestion to pressure to turn Wessays into a podcast.  We continue to resist, feeling it’s better to bore you or provoke thought in 500 written words than it is in 20 minutes of drivel that can either put you to sleep or make you angry enough to destroy your brand new expensive blue tooth earbuds.

 

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®

Any Questions? wesrichards@gmail.com

© WR 2021

 


4723 How to Vote in Flexas

4723 How to Vote in Flexas   What besides turning back the clock can stop you from voting? Well, there’s always the Poll Tax.   How to...