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Archive for April, 2011

Rapturious Questions

So, Judgement Day (as some people allege) is still on schedule for May 21…a day and three weeks away.

I have a few questions about this event and they go a little something like this…

One) Since the earth is divided into twenty-four time zones, will J-Day sweep its way across the globe an hour at a time like New Year’s Day?

Two) Due to the difference in days caused by time zones (i.e., when it is 12:01am May 21 in Japan, it is still May 20 in France), will J-Day have to wait until the entire planet is on May 21?

and my favorite

Three) When May 22 rolls around and the sun rises on Sunday and J-Day has not occurred, what will be the excuse given by those who sounded the alarms of panic as to why the horns of Judgement did not sound?

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Each January, NASA holds a solemn ceremony to honor the astronauts lost during the Apollo I fire, the Challenger explosion, and the Columbia disaster.

The fact that these tragedies occurred within a week of themselves on the calendar (although in different years) is a coincidence, but in a rather poetic way, does make the remembrance easier when all can be mourned at the same time.

With that concept in mind, I would like to offer the week of April 16 – 22 as Loss and Remembrance Week – a time when we as a nation think back on the harm, loss, and tragedy that anger has done to our country and its citizens.

Loss and Remembrance Week would be a solemn time to remember those taken away and affected by the shootings at Virginia Tech (April 16), the siege at Waco (April 19), the bombing in Oklahoma City (April 19), and the shootings at Columbine High School (April 20).

We can’t bring them back, but we can remember.

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With the first quarter of 2011 in the books, it’s reporting time of one sort or another.

For this post, I look at the reporting numbers of the fine folks in Congress who want to be reelected when November 2012 rolls around.

Yes, I know, there was just an election over three months ago, but the 2012 cycle has already started. Therefore, the people who were elected to got to Washington to shake things up have to do the same thing that American politicians have had to do since the Republic was founded – pass the hat around and ask for money.

UPI has this story that states that the GOP freshman have, on average, raised only $176,000 from January to March 2011. This contrasts with the freshman Democrats of 1Q2009 who took in $287,000 and $242,000 in 1Q2007.

However, that figure of $176K is only an average, so there must be some someone who is on the high-end of that scale and indeed there is such a person.

According to this story from TheHill.com, Congressman David McKinley, a Republican from West Virginia, topped all freshmen Representatives by bringing in $536,000 during the first three months of this year.

Since the 112th Congress has only been in session for about one hundred days, this means that, on average, Mr. McKinley has brought in $5,360 (there’s your number for the day) in campaign cash per day since he has been in Congress.

I guess that’s how you show you’re a DC outsider – by asking for money.

In fact, Mr. McKinley has already started his 2012 campaign – and there is still 567 days to go until Election Day 2012 – which makes me wonder how much time Mr. McKinley spends passing the hat around for cash and how much time he spends actually doing any legislating.

I’d love to ask him, but Congress is on recess for the next two weeks.

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I have been humored this week to hear that my first-grade daughter, Ophelia, has been watching episodes of Bill Nye The Science Guy in class to learn about science.

The irony, to me, is that – according to Loudoun County Public Schools – this week had been designated as “Screen Free Week“, the time to get kids to turn off all screens (computers, iPods, televisions, etc.).

I guess the schools don’t count.

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The Finger of Blame

With Congress set this week to vote on funding the federal government for the rest of this fiscal year, the news is that there will be about $50 billion worth of cuts made to federal programs.

The support for all this budget-cutting comes in the phrase “We have no money” which is heard ad naseum from regular folk, pundits, and politicians.

Except, of course…that we’re not broke.

Even as far back as December 2010, the United States federal government was set to rake in $860 billion (17 times what is being cut from the Fiscal Year 2011 spending plan), but Congress and the White House gave it away.

The CNN Money article that I link to above does a great job (as does this article also) detailing the…

…$68 billion given away due to the revision of the estate tax;
…$81.5 billion given away to folks earning more than $200,000; and
…$69 billion given away in business tax breaks.

However, before we all grab the torches and pitchforks please remember that when you point the finger of blame at someone else, there are three other fingers pointing back at you.

I bring that adage up because included in the December 2010 giveaway was $111.7 billion (twice the amount being cut in the current fiscal year) in the Social Security tax holiday.

Bottom line – We are not broke. We simply decided to give the money away. Please enjoy you tax holiday as the federal programs you don’t even know you count on wither away.

Politicians, and the people who elect them, do the country no great service when they make the false claim we are all broke and at the same time give money away.

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This latest posting about a veridiction – the process of verifying predictions – seemed like a no-brainer.

On the February 22, 2011, edition of the radio program Marketplace, a contributing editor to the magazine Foreign Policy, Steve Levine (who also runs the blog entitled The Oil and the Glory), made the go-out-on-a-limb prediction that gasoline prices would go up because of the turmoil in Libya.

On February 18, the Lundberg Survey had a gallon of regular gasoline going for $3.18.

On March 4, it was $3.51.

On March 18, it was $3.57.

On April 8, the Lundberg Survey had a gallon of regular gasoline priced at $3.76.

I must give respect where it is due and so, Mr. Levine, congratulations on a correct prediction.

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Not quite sure how it started or when, but the phrase “to throw someone under the bus” needs to be thrown under the proverbial bus itself.

The phrase, which according to the fine folks at UrbanDictionary.com, means to sacrifice a person and usually for personal gain.

The phrase gets lots of mileage as a quick Google search unearths the phrase in stories regarding academics, politics (especially politics) and business.

My follow-up question(s) are…What was the original bus? Who was the first person thrown under a bus? and Who was the first thrower?

It’s too bad that not even the Word Detective knows.

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