Friday, July 30, 2021

MINI 029 Infrastructure

 If you don’t know where this is, shame on you.

 

So now we have a great leap forward on infrastructure spending.  They might be able to fix a bridge or two… buy some rail cars and buses. Maybe drag rural America out of the 1980s version to high speed internet. Fix a pothole or two. Maybe rid a few local highway agencies of nepotism, no-shows and corruption.

 

There were great celebrations when enough Senators held their noses and decided they could consider the legislation to fix up the stuff that keeps America moving.  It took some doing.

 

Now, the hard part.  Every two bit politician wants a piece of the action, and no one wants a nickel spent on the district next door. This is the real bipartisanship of the currently elected.  Party doesn’t matter when the folks ten miles away get something you don’t.

 

A beach erosion prevention grant on either coast will set the cotton district and grain district growers into fits because “hey, where’s our share?”  Of course, that can work both ways.

 

The folks of New Jersey will be demanding a fix for the boardwalks and spew jealous rages when someone’s peanut farm or chicken district in Georgia gets new sprinkler systems.

 

Eventually these geniuses will work out some kind of deal and the proposal will pass -- haltingly and with great fanfare. How much resemblance will the newborn look like its parents?  Not much.



I’m wesrichards@gmail.com my opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. © WR 2021

 

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

4745 An Ounce of Cure

 


Forget the ounce of prevention and the pound of cure.  With everything getting odder, let’s make it a Troy Ounce of prevention.

 

While “normal ounces” weigh 28.35 grams, “troy ounces” weigh 31.1 grams.  So that gold you just bought at 1800 dollars an ounce plus commissions and fees is really a bargain.  You’re getting an extra 2.75 grams for your money.

 

Doesn’t sound like a whole lot.  But think of the difference if you were buying coffee or potatoes.  It’s like stealing!

 

If you hold a troy ounce of gold in one hand, and a regular ounce of sugar in the other, you’re not likely to feel the weight difference.  Of course, you can EAT the sugar and take in about 100 calories.  Eat the gold and the calorie count probably won’t matter all that much.  A few flakes, as in fancy chocolate or a cake decoration will pass through you in no time.  An ounce probably would kill you.

 

Or you can eat both the commodities and when your teeth rot from the raw sugar, maybe your body will self-fill the cavities with gold, even though your dentist abandoned using it decades ago.

 

You can eat silver, too.  Enough, and you will turn blue as a smurf.  And you can eat lead.  What’s a little brain damage among friends?

 

The real question here is why are there two kinds of ounces?  That’s nothing more than another way to confuse and complicate something that could be simple.

 

What happens when the makers of packaged food catch on to this trick?  State troy ounces for the strange measurements that have overtaken the world of canned goods and they can use more reasonable and workable figures.  Recently a can of beans was labeled 13.204 ounces.  That’s a little over 12 troy ounces.  Twelve is a much better number to work with than 13.204.  It would simplify cooking.

 

Simple could become the new complicated.

 

Meantime, we could revise the aphorism to “a troy ounce of prevention is worth 14.58 troy ounces of cure.”

 

Just make sure the cure is generic, else your health insurance won’t pay for it.

 

Shrapnel

 

--The alchemists tried to turn lead into gold.  Today’s gold alchemists have turned an ounce into something around $1800 (plus commissions and fees.).  Good if you’re holding, great if you’re selling.  Not so hot if you look at what the dollars you get for the stuff can buy.

 

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

Any Questions? wesrichards@gmail.com

© WR 2021

 

Monday, July 26, 2021

4744 The Running of the Bull

 Newsday Photo

 

A bull escaped from a farm in Moriches on New York’s Long Island and has been playing hide and seek ever since.  It’s not the running of the bulls as they have in Spain… it’s just one.  And so far, the bull is winning.

 

Moriches is about 70 miles east of Manhattan and about 50 west of Montauk, the eastern most tip of the island.

 

The papers are calling the bull Barney.  And as of posting time, he’s in his seventh day of wandering the island.

 

It’s not like they’re not trying to find him, corner him, catch him, release him to a bigger and more secure farm somewhere or cook him.  First, they put out some grain.

 

Nothing.

 

Then they sent a cow in heat -- her name is Norma Jean and she’s a babe! -- to where they thought he might be.

 

Still nothing.

 

So, maybe he’s getting fed somewhere or on something… there’s plenty of grass in Suffolk County.  Low lying lawns for the most part.  But feed is feed.  And maybe he doesn’t like girls, though that’s improbable.

 

Barney is coal black and pretty big.  So, he can’t hide in plain sight on a checkout line in the local King Kullen supermarket or lock himself inside the men’s room at Exxon or Starbucks. 

 

Hmmm… there are a couple of movie theaters within easy grazing distance of where he was last seen, and who would ask a bull to show his ticket before he disappeared into the darkness?

 

Is Barney dangerous?  It doesn’t appear so.  But he is a bull, after all, and you never know when some dufus kid will show up and wave a red cape at him.

 

The helicopter couldn’t spot him.  Thermal cameras come up with nothing.  Night vision goggles… same story. Maybe they should call out the bloodhounds. 

 

One aspect not considered:  maybe some local member of congress or town supervisor or a coalition of politicians kidnapped him and squirreled him away at party headquarters.  

 

After all, finding a live bull would produce a steady supply of bulls*it.  And what political figure could resist the public service version of the goose that laid the golden egg?

 

Eventually, this guy will be found.  And as a public service, we will dutifully report that especially if there’s a standoff with police or hunters in Elmer Fudd costumes.

 

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

Any Questions?  wesrichards@gmail.com

© WR 2021

 

Friday, July 23, 2021

MINI 028 The Glasses are Half Full

Need glasses?  Tired of the racketeers of optical stores?  Try this.



1.   The big cost is not the lenses, it’s the frame. Frames are waaay cheaper on line.  There are a gazillion vendors.  Order them empty or with non-prescription sunglasses.

2.   Take the frame and your prescription to the brick and mortar highwayman of your choice.

3.   Buy the lenses there and leave your frame. They’ll trace the openings and sell you the lenses. 

4.   Remember, the coatings cost more than the glass or plastic you’ll look through.

5.   You’ll pay less than usual, and you’ll look beautiful.

6.   Take the money you save and start a GoFundMe Legal defense fund to which I have access if necessary when the racketeers and thieves take me to court for calling them names.

7.   If you’re of a scientific bent, you can be the second to test the system.  I’m collecting results.

 

Some little-known facts about eyeglass frames:

 

--An Italian company called Luxottica makes about 80% of the frames regardless of where you buy them and what Big Name is attached to them.

 

--While the company has offices in Italy, most of the frames are made in China. (Big surprise, right?)

 

--Luxottica also owns a lot of big-name lens stores…

LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, Sears Optical (?), Target Optical, Sunglasses Hut, and the Eyemed vision insurance company.

 

We understand that oligopolies develop.  Most of the time we know about them only when they get into trouble. This one isn’t.

 

I’m wesrichards@gmail.com

My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®

© WR 2021

  

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

4743 The Cafeteria

 

 Herb is sitting on a stool in what once was the balcony of a theater and now is the second floor of an antique shop.  He is inspecting a tin coffee pot that is bigger than his head and wondering how to use it at the boarding house he says he runs on the 135 acre farm he says he owns.

 

A stranger gives Herb the recipe for Cowboy coffee, which is water, and a handful of fresh grounds thrown into a pot and heated over a fire.  You drink it by pouring it into a cup and straining it through your teeth -- which is why real cowboys usually had ugly looking brown teeth.  That and the chaw.

 

Mrs. Herb is there and she’s not happy with the idea of coffee grounds in her teeth and suggests the cowboys should have strained the stuff through their bandannas.  Not a bad idea in Latte Land.  But cowboys didn’t and don’t live in Latte Land.

 

Herb doesn’t live in Latte Land, either.  He lives in 1913, in the last month of the administration of President William Howard Taft, which was when the 16th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, the one that makes you pay income tax.  Twenty-nine days before Taft’s term expired, but who’s counting.

 

Herb doesn’t exactly have his facts right. Wessays™ does.  Herb said Taft had pangs of guilt over even a hint of support for the 16th amendment.  No credible historian will confirm that.  But that’s okay, Herb doesn’t need facts to make his point, which in this case is the income tax was the start of the downfall of this country.

 

What Herb means -- what all the world’s Herbs mean -- is that the income tax is stealing, and stealing from HIM, at that.

 

Then he moves along to the school tax.  Wants to know why he must pay since he hasn’t had kids in school for more than 20 years.

 

Herb thinks of the government as a cafeteria.  You buy this service and that, leave the rest of the stuff in the counter trays and pay for what you take at the register at the end of the line.

 

Government as cafeteria.  He also mentions that he’s 20-thousand dollars in arrears.  Taxes here are pretty low.  So that’s a lot of years avoiding the register at the end of the cafeteria line.

 

But, Herb, the government is not a cafeteria.   So, guys with no kids in school pay so kids who ARE in school get at least some semblance of an education and the country gets to continue.

 

Guys without cars get roads. Guys without feet get sidewalks.   Everybody gets an army.  You get cops and you get the means to break from the isolation in which you live -- if you want to.  Which you don’t.

 

Relax, Herb.  Make a pot of coffee.  Get a bandanna to strain the cup for the Mrs.  She won’t be able to afford regular dental cleanings when they catch up with you and cart you away for sneaking off the property tax check-out line before you got to the register.

 

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

Any questions?  wesrichards@gmail.com

© WR 2021

 

Monday, July 19, 2021

4742 The AntiVax

 

A reversal has taken place here at the Mountainside Meditation center.  While we formerly campaigned vigorously for covid vaccinations and mask wearing, a new survey has begun to shift the snow up here.  Yes, it’s July.  But the secret mountain always has a snowcap. Sells more pictures.

 

The telephone survey of 23 residents in anti-vax states like Arkansas and Pennsylvania shows that most of us wouldn’t miss those who decline to stop promoting the pandemic by yelping about “freedom” and “tyranny” and -- among those less passionately opposed to education -- skepticism about the value, effectiveness and safety of vaccines.

 

The other day, residents of Los Angeles County were ordered to mask indoors.  But noted epidemiologist Alex Villanueva says that’s not based on science.  Oh, wait. Villanueva isn’t a noted epidemiologist. Our mistake.  He’s the sheriff of Los Angeles County and says he won’t enforce the order.  Brilliant. Just (expletive deleted) brilliant.

 

About freedom… what does that mean? We have one real freedom in this country, it is the freedom to choose our own oppressor.  Is it the government?  Or the job?  Or the bank or credit rating or the house of worship?  It’s going to happen.  Pecking orders are the order of the day in the organization of anything that includes human membership.

 

Is freedom just another word for nothing left to lose as Kris Kristofferson wrote back in the day? Could be.

 

There are fake freedoms, too.  Freedom to infect. Freedom to do dumb things, sometimes with few or no consequences.

 

Or are these fake freedoms just escape from responsibility?

 

Old line conservatives used to differentiate between liberty and license.  Somehow, that got lost along the current path to oblivion.

 

So if you want to help reduce the population explosion without the fuss, muss and bother of such old fashioned methods as birth control or gunfire… by all means take off those masks, forget those painful needles administered by left wing nurses and their lackeys, demanded by the commies running the government and be a real man or woman and a red-blooded American and get together in huge stadiums and small barrooms.  

 

The mortician is waiting.  

 

Bottom line? If you want to kill yourself, make sure you take these steps:

1.  Don’t wear a mask.

2.  Don’t get vaccinated.

3.  Make sure you succeed because while suicide is not a crime, attempted suicide is. And yes, communities where there is insufficient cash flow from DWI arrests and speed traps, they often DO prosecute.

 

Finally, if you’ve made up your mind, while you’re waiting for the perfect moment....

 

Don’t breathe on the rest of us.

 

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

Any Questions? wesrichards@gmail.com

© WR 2021.

 

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Mini 027 Taxi

 

Bring back real cabs.  Wait, you mean there aren’t any? No. There are some. Just not nearly enough of them.  And it’s the Great American Entrepreneurial urge that has killed them.

 

Cab companies have gone out of business left and right. Fleet owners have given -- yes -- given cars to their contract drivers.  Why?

 

Well, two reasons, really. One is the pandemic. People just weren’t going places like they used to. But the important reason is those amateur drivers with Uber and Lyft vehicles that have sent real taxis to the graveyard, leaving many companies with medallions in the six-figure range and no visible means of support … or ways to pay back those business loans.

 

Then what happened? Once-enthusiastic entrepreneurs realized they weren’t making a living by wearing out their cars and quit.  Or at least decided to take the night off. Every night. 

 

Used to be, your workday started or ended at 3 or 4 in the morning, you’d call a cab or hail one.  Not anymore.

 

The taxi lobby did little or no good trying to curb the entrepreneurial urges.  The only benefit is they could also curb the amount of money they poured into the campaigns of cooperative and compliant politicians.

 

Bottom line:  A lot of people are deep in debt with no exit visible and … you can’t get there from here.

 

I’m wesrichards@gmail.com. My opinions are my own, but you’re welcome to them.

 

Monday, July 12, 2021

4741 Space Traveler Branson

 

The race for space used to be between countries. Now it’s among billionaires. By now you probably know that “Virgin Galactic’s” Richard Branson flew to the edge of outer space Sunday in an aircraft that looks like something right off the Northrop Grumman production line and nothing at all like a flying saucer.

 

In doing this, he beat two other space-hungry billionaires, Jeff Bezos formerly of Amazon.com and Elon Musk of battery making and the cars that use them, Teslas.

 

So there they were, Branson and five crew members 53 miles and change above the New Mexico desert.  They made the trip up and back down in about 15 minutes.  We’re not sure what it cost.  Or what it accomplished.

 

Leave the sands of nothingness touch the universe of nothingness.  Well, not exactly nothingness.  There’s plenty of stuff up there. Planets.  Asteroids (run for your lives.) Alien invaders (run faster.) Jewish Space Lasers, (You can run but you can’t hide.) Black holes. (Authorized particles only.) 

 

The flight raised questions, the main one being what’s the point?  But there are others. 

 

 Did Branson and the crew have to go through a TSA line to board the thing?  Did they have to go through Customs when they landed?  Did Virgin Galactic manage the greatest trick of an airline, losing luggage?  How much luggage do you need for a 15 minute round trip to and from nowhere? Especially in First Class.

 

The thing that looks like an airplane was the mother ship. The actual touching of space took place in a self-powered capsule.  The capsule was not powered by Elon Musk’s batteries, like the ones that caught fire on Boing Dreamliners.  And there was no incoming internet, so Branson couldn’t browse Amazon while traveling.

 

Five hundred spectators watched the event from the ground.  Branson’s family was among them.  So may have been a funeral director who, fortunately, is not paid by the minute.

 

To his credit, Bezos sent his congratulations and an Amazon gift card for $23.45 (No free shipping at that rate.) He also tweeted that his space voyage in a few days will be “better.”

 

Sounds like bullying, no? Richard, call your lawyer.

 

The whole voyage was live streamed at Branson’s insistence. CNN covered it like it was a coronation or the trial of a football star accused of murder, only shorter.  Much shorter.

 

So get ready for your tour, you who have too much time and money.  This trio of billionaires isn’t doing these stunts for their own amusement, at least not entirely. They’re going to try to sell you tickets.  And they’re not going to be cheap.

 

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

Any Questions? wesrichards@gmail.com

© WR 2021

Friday, July 09, 2021

4740 Always On

 

Those of us old enough to remember early television know that it took a few moments for the sets to warm up and start running.  The vacuum tubes inside them and in radios took a few minutes to get going.

 

Today nothing’s like that except the toaster and the oven.  Everything else “warms up” instantly.

 

Why?  How?

 

Because nothing is ever really “off.”  Not anymore. It’s on “Standby,” breathlessly awaiting your command to start.

 

Your cell phone charger draws power when it’s plugged in, even if your cell phone is not attached.  Ditto your iPod, iPad, Kindle, and anything else with a battery.

 

When your laptop computer is charged, and it’s still plugged into the wall, it’s still drawing power.

 

When your TV is “off” it’s still drawing power.  It’s on Standby.

 

See all those lights on your cable or satellite box?  What do you think allows them to shine?  Why, goodness!  It’s the electricity from your wall.

 

The cordless phone is always on.  To correct that you have to pull it out of the wall once it says “charge complete.”  

 

The clock on the microwave, the clock on the stove, the clock on the coffeemaker, the night light in the button for your doorbell.

 

Nothing is off.

 

Nothing.

 

Your burglar alarm is always on, and, of course, you want it to be.  Same with your wall or desk clocks -- the few that still run on household current. (And when was the last time you heard anyone say “household current?”)

 

Now, granted, these are not big users of electricity.  But while rates are as high as they are, they are SOMETHING.  Probably more than the corkscrew bulbs which you bought for an arm or the LCD bulbs you bought for an arm and a leg, and which use relatively few watts.

 

How many TV sets do you have? How many battery operated this-and-that pads and pods and cell phones and cordless phones, cameras and video cameras.  

 

And how about the refrigerator?  Does the light really go out when you close the door?  Are you sure?  ABSOLUTELY sure?

 

You push the little push thing on the refrigerator frame and the light goes out.  But you can’t see when you actually close the door.  Maybe it’s a “smart” refrigerator (like a “smartphone”) and can tell the difference between when you push the push-thing and when the DOOR pushes it.  (And you can’t set the timer on a camera and seal the camera in the refrigerator and have it take a picture, because the flash will make it look like the light is on, even if it isn’t.  And probably you shouldn’t sit a small child in the thing and close the door, even for a moment.  Who knows, maybe the phone will ring, you’ll answer and leave the poor kid in there until he suffocates.)

 

You can help make this posting more complete.  Do you have a tankless water heater, a “Hoveround” or a sleep number bed?  If you do, please check and see if they’re actually all the way off when not in use.

 

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

Any Questions?  wesrichards@gmail.com

© WR 2021

 


Wednesday, July 07, 2021

MINI 026 Condo Wars

 


This could have been prevented but there was an internal war going on that stopped it.  The condo tower in Surfside Florida had a problem that besets every condo: spending.

 

It was going to cost $15 million to fix what pretty much everyone knew was wrong.  That would have meant extra costs to the unit owners.

 

Nationwide, unit owners would rather have a good tooth pulled than spend one more nickel on repairs.  They go to meetings and argue.  They cite obscure clauses in their contracts.

 

“That repair is your responsibility.”  “No, it’s YOURS!” “Don’t we have insurance for that?” “WHY don’t we have insurance for that?”

 

When you build a ten-story building on a sand pile at the seashore, is it logical to expect rock steadiness?  Or can water seep beneath and undermine.

 

This is not to minimize the tragedy.  As of this writing, the remains of 36 human beings have been removed and about 100 remain missing and probably dead.

 

And it is not to minimize the brave men and women, the rescuers slogging through the ruins.

 

But it could have -- should have -- been prevented.


I’m wesrichards@gmail.com … my opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ® © WR 2021

 


Sunday, July 04, 2021

NOTE TO READERS

 We couldn't figure out whether the holiday was on the fourth or the fifth, so we're taking both off and will resume on Wednesday, July 7th.-- WR

Friday, July 02, 2021

4739 Gangland Accountants

  Meyer Lansky (1902-1983) was known as “the mob’s accountant.”

 

Meyer Lansky was from Poland, he said, which wasn’t exactly true.  By the time anyone of importance asked, he was already a wheel in organized crime, so people believed him.  He was in with pals people like Bugsy Siegel and by the time he got together with Lucky Luciano, he was well established as a guy who knew figures.  And probabilities. And how to use them.

 

He also managed to acquire what are called “points” -- small chunks of, um, equity -- in casinos around the world where the aphorism “the house always wins” was born.  And true.  And although the papers called him “The Mob’s Accountant,” he was never convicted of anything. When he died the FBI said he left more than a quarter of a billion dollars to his family.  But all they ever found was $57 thousand.

 

All of which brings us to Allen Weisselberg, who is the chief financial officer of the former president donald trump’s shifting and shifty assortment of businesses.  Surely, he must be an expert in another aphorism, this one about robbing Peter to pay Paul.

 

Weisselberg’s been indicted in a tax scheme -- alleged, tax scheme, I suppose we’d better call it -- in which a few millions changed hands -- depending on how you value it -- without paying the vig to the IRS or the Good Men and Good Women of Albany, New York, which is easy to forget is the state capital.

 

The District Attorney of New York County likely doesn’t much care about any of Weisselberg’s doings.   What he cares about is what’s in the guy’s head.

 

What’s there?  Only Allen knows for sure.  What does the DA think is there? Probably every evil you could attribute to the former president donald trump and then some.

 

Tax cases of this size seem big to your run-of-the-mill working stiff. But they’re pretty routine in a world where one billion dollars barely qualifies you for a spot on the Forbes 400 or Bloomberg’s minute-by-minute tracking of anyone and everyone in that asset neighborhood -- except Bloomberg himself.

 

So, what does the DA really want? Brain content.  Oh, sure if Weisselberg is convicted or cops a plea, he’ll probably do some time.  Weisselberg is 73 years old and by all accounts in decent health.  So a few years at Club Fed won’t kill him.

 

But the real entre in this meal is the former president donald trump.  And the question is simple: would the CFO turn against the CEO?  The guessing is probably not.  But you never know.  Maybe Weisselberg won’t be convicted of anything… after all, Lansky wasn’t. Or maybe he’s allergic to the food or dust from the baseball diamond at Otisville, New York. But other than that, inmates say, it has most of the comforts of home.

 

A lot of people are salivating to do something to the former president donald trump and should be.  And this indictment can probably raise hopes. But a lot of others think the former president donald trump is more likely to die of Teflon poisoning than he is to do time.

 

Some people are just lucky that way.

 

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

Any Questions? wesrichards@gmail.com

© WR 2021

 


4761 J-6

  Motivational speaker and discoverer of Jewish Space Lasers Marjorie Taylor Green.   So, who showed up at the Million Moron March on Wa...