Archive for January, 2011

This ironic life….

January 29, 2011

Hamburger & weapons made in the USA.     & a$5 billion dollar capital gain. That’s the headlines.

Is this a great country, or what?  Seems this week there was a big frou frou over  Taco Bell’s  taco meat not being entirely MEAT.  Seems some  investigators found the meat mix to have oatmeal in it, or flavor enhancers and be only 35% meet—when the law says it must be….40% meat.  Otherwise, they are supposed to call it meat product just like  Velveeta isn’t cheese but cheese product. I’m thinking  it’s just a symptom of how things are , but  not my biggest issue.

I  do know a guide in Cairo, and what’s happening with the  demonstrations is extremely interesting for a number of reasons.  Obama is not going to look good on this one, because  Egypt is  the 2nd biggest  receiver of U.S. foreign aid (Israel is #1).  & what is most of that aid?  Weapons. Bullets. Things that hurt people, No getting around it, & the demonstrators were showing the MADE  IN THE USA imprint to reporters.  Why is that ironic?  Look around you if you live in the USA,  I’ll bet none of your electronics were made in the USA.    & unless you are wearing something hand made by a small boutique, your clothes aren’t, either.  Possibly not your furniture or your cookware.  Probably your household cleaners—CHEMICALS—are.  Is it any wonder we are in a depression?

John Paulson is the  hedge fund manager who  had the $5 billion dollars in capital gains.  He pays 15% on  that money, as it is not considered income—&  beyond his first $120,000 (not sure on this) he pays no social security taxes, and of course,  he thinks the tax code is very fair.

I got to thinking about it because I am expecting foreign visitors (from the Middle East) in a few weeks.  And, if they were to ask me what  I think the reason is for  our economic woes, I will not address  overheated real estate speculation, but I will tell them  our politicians—people we pay to be fiscally responsible & plan for the rainy days, are way over paid for what they do. Way way way.

We have  6  candidates running for Mayor of Chicago.   Rahm Emanuel  is  very rich, very well connected, a deal maker, & that’s just it.  He’s a deal maker.  He has already hired an inspector general and alludes to fiscal responsibility, but  hasn’t gotten into specifics.  Gery Chico, who has extensive administrative experience, & whom I would consider voting for,  screwed that up  by stating  he’d put at least 500 more cops on the street & fire bad teachers. That translates to spending money we do not have  and micromanaging the school board.

Carol Moseley Braun lost me when she  trusted Kgosie Matthews, her then fiance, to manage her  senatorial campaign &  introduce her to dictators in Africa. She seems like a very nice lady, but in the  Sarah Palin  mold, she  can NOT be mayor. She is clueless. and if she isn’t, she’s doing a terrible job getting HER message out.

Patricia Watkins has a lot of integrity, and a track record, so the media is ignoring her.  She hasn’t a chance.   Neither has  ‘Doc Walls’.  That leave Miguel Del Valle,  I do trust him but I wonder if he is savvy enough to overcome Chico.

I don’t see how the  city will remain a viable place to love for middle class people in 10 years. There  will be the super-rich, who don’t really have a concept of what things cost, and the very poor who can’t afford to leave or  just don’t know anything about geography.  It just seems that the politicians have no idea what is affecting voters these days.

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There are people who think they can make money breeding dogs

January 18, 2011

I try to post about once a week. and  wordpress allows me to see  the blog posts that  are viewed the most.  What I get from what people are reading is that  they need information they are not getting elsewhere.

One of my obsessions is flagging the pet sellers off of Craigslist. Why bother?  Because I have been successful. They post there rather than pay for ads in the paper to sell the animals they breed because you can post on Craigslist for free. If you can eliminate your marketing costs, that’s one huge expense.  No animal sales or breeding are allowed on Craigslist for several reasons.  Internet sales of animals, where Craigslist is incorporated, are illegal—that’s one reason.  But, since the economy went bad, every innumerate idiot who is desperate for extra cash is breeding Bearded Dragons, birds,   dogs or cats.  Maybe they are keeping themselves in beer-and-cigarettes.  I don’t know. All I know is suddenly, for the first time in a very long time, not just Pit Bull breeders, but anyone with an unspayed female anything is attempting to sell young animals.  What’s the problem?  When the breeders post the animals they’ve bred, people who are genuinely trying to find a home for an older pet (due to losing a job or a home, or a relative dying, or having a child that  is allergic) can’t compete.  That is what the site is for.

I know hundreds of dog breeders—&  probably 3 who breed healthy, sound dogs of their breed who make money breeding dogs of exceptional quality.  This is how they dog it:

1.  Breeder’s mother started her in the breed over 50 years ago. She owns her own house free & clear, and is also an AKC professional handler. Her breed is very popular, she breeds good dogs, and  always has a waiting list. I  would not be exaggerating to say she has 10—20 litters a year (averaging  5 puppies each). Obviously ,  since she does no marketing & owns her home, her expenses are low, so she makes money.

2. Breeder and her husband were always very shrewd investors, & very handy as well.  They have always managed to buy property at a bargain rate and fix it up.  More,  since this breeder has always bred good dogs, she also always has a waiting list for puppies & does no marketing.  All sold via word-of-mouth. She averages 4 litters a year.  Oh, and she and her husband are professional blackjack players. I think that helps.   She does not live off her dogs, but they ‘pay for themselves’ as showing (& maintaining your reputation) is expensive. She’s had setbacks. As a line breeder, when she discovered  Juvenile Cataracts in her line, she had to revamp her whole breeding program.  It paid off.

3.  Breeder number 3 has had 4 litters in the past 5 years. She keeps a pack of 6 dogs. The reason she makes money on her puppies is that her breed club helps her sell them…and she grooms dogs for a living. She  obviously makes more money grooming dogs, but  I know 5—10% of her income comes from the puppies.  She is one of the  hobby breeders who has bred her own grooming business.

Do you think any of the morons selling puppies on Craigslist care at all about the soundness of the puppies they are breeding?  The fact is, they are too innumerate to  realize that they are losing money.  One funny thing the Pit Bull breeders do is state the dogs are of ‘Razor’s Edge’ or ‘Gator’ bloodlines.  Sounds impressive if you don’t understand that these people own the pet quality dogs from those ‘lines’ & they aren’t even linebred dogs.

Other backyard breeders tell you they have puppies for adoption.  Sounds sweet—unless you know you adopt from a shelter or rescue. You  buy a puppy.

These ignorant puppy sellers  also believe everything they read on the internet.  A few people got bad information from a guy I applied for a job to.  He ‘hired’ me, but I told him I could not work for him because he did not have enough dog experience.  This matters—because they skimp on equipment, underprice services, don’t keep good records—& end up not paying you for the work you’ve done. Been there, done that.  Unfortunately, he had my resume and all my contact info—& he  started contacting these  ignorant breeders attempting to sell puppies on Craigslist.  Every few months, I start getting threatening phone calls from anonymous callers telling me to stay off Craigslist & stop flagging.  I may not have been on line all day, & most likely they are being flagged by other breeders desperate to sell, but no matter.  Once that litter is on the ground, & they realize  the ‘market’ is not beating a path to their doors, they get desperate & angry.  Someone snookered them.

People sometimes ask me, “What is to become of those puppies?  They’ll  have to dump them in shelters.”

Sad, isn’t it?  But once you dump a litter & have lost money, you generally don’t breed any more dogs.  Many of the puppies find homes.  It’s the adult dogs wasting & lonely in shelters that I really ‘worry’ about. Unless we make it so the irresponsible breeders can’t make money, there will always be too many dogs in shelters.

T. E. Lawrence, The novel Exodus, and the history of Israel & the Middle East.

January 12, 2011

This is an update to a blog I  wrote on T.E. Lawrence last year.  I have since read another biography  of  him that  was  better footnoted  regarding the actual dynamics of what occured  during his service (during World War 1), and, at the same time, I was reading Leon Uris’ book , Exodus, which is a historical novel.

Have you ever taken a survey and been asked, “If you could meet any person  from history, who would it be?”  I never had a good answer for that until I read a biography (and since have read several) of T.E. Lawrence—-Lawrence of Arabia.

What an interesting man!  He was always haunted that his parents never married (his mother was the nanny his father ran off with—& had 4 more children with), and pursued a liberal arts education, dabbled in publishing, was an accomplished artist/illustrator, and  due to luck, fell into an early archeology gig in the Middle East.  He learned Arabic, because he wanted to know the people he was living among.

To know his story, is to know why things are such a disaster in the Middle East (for those of us in America, anyways).  He joined the British military  at the start of World War I  to serve his country.  He had extensive experience by then in the Middle East—what was then the Ottoman Empire, and he aimed to bring  the people of the region to cooperate with the British. Why?  He was convinced (misled?) that after the was over, & the region won from the Turks, that the Arabs would be allowed to govern themselves.  From reading several sources, it is somewhat unclear whether it was  the military, or the foreign office who misled Lawrence into believing that Feisal Hussein would be ruling what would become Syria.  For some reason,  2 well placed elitists, Sykes in Britain, & Picot in France, put together an agreement that after the war was over, France would have a stake in the middle east. There is no indication that the French shed any blood…it was an agreement between colonialists who felt that the Arabs were too immature as a race to govern themselves.

Due to the Sykes-Pickot agreement with France, the British handed over what was Syria & Lebanon to the French…for no good reason.  Then they proceeded to divide up the rest of the region artificially  partly to placate Lawrence and hand out spoils to his Arab friends.  Persia was divided into Iraq & Iran, India was carved up.  Afghanistan, which had never been a real place except to say it was the land surrounded by so many other lands, was  instituted as a ‘country’ as we know it.  It was never governable as a region.

Israel was developed. and there is a lot of evidence that the people Lawrence worked with had no problem with this part of Palestine being handed over to the Jews.  After all, there was TransJordan, and they thought there would be access to the Mediterranean Sea via Syria & Lebanon.  &—had that happened, that would have been the end of it. Peace in the Middle East. But the British handed over the area to France, and they were not going to let the  people their govern themselves.  What is also interesting to me is that while Uris’ book is a historicalnovel, and generally accurate, he really misinterprets the agreement that the Zionists came to with Feisal Hussain.  The Arabs sold the Jews  most of the land they bought—& willingly.  Of course, they did so thinking they would have Lebanon & Syria immediately.

You would think that the British would be embarrassed by this history, but  they’ve decided to forget their role in the  horror.

For some reason, the American government does not hold the British or French responsible any longer.  For all the money we’ve poured into the region, not only in terms of energy development, but  to keep them from killing each other (don’t get me started on lives —but people join the military on their own), we could be energy independent by now, and  we could also have universal health care like the British, French, & so many other countries.  Nobody knows why there’s a deficit. Hello!

You  would think someone in the State Department would have the integrity to say to the Israelis, “Look, what you have here is not a democracy, and you keep encroaching on the land of others. Why should we keep paying for this?  No more money!.  & you—the Egyptians—start collecting your property taxes. All along the Nile are little cities and towns with unfinished buildings.  Luxor  is shocking.  You allow this. You don’t tell the building owners to pay their taxes, that they’ve left the buildings unfinished long enough.  You send your physicians to the rest of Africa and import them from Malaysia.  No more money”.

Oh, what happened to Lawrence?  He was so embarrassed and demoralized by what his government had done to his friends, the Arabs, that he declined to work for the government.  He rejoined the  military  a couple of times as an enlisted man.  He actually did some inventing while serving.  He translated the Odyssey (and his translation is still widely read).  He wrote “The Seven Pillars of Wisdom” and became a legend due to promoter Lowell Thomas.  He was ultimately killed in a motorcycle  accident in his early 40’s.

&—I think we all know how the Middle East turned out.

What does the economy have to do with military service?

January 3, 2011

I f you  went to school in America in the 1960’s, you learned The Pledge of Allegiance and you were taught by your teachers to be a patriot,  that America is the best country in the world. You were taught that many evil people want to take over & destroy our freedoms  The  USA is a free country.

You don’t even think about what that means. All you know is that it is a free country.   Worth dying for.  Really?

It wasn’t until I started traveling to less developed countries that I really had a concept of what ‘America’  (that would be the United States) is.  Because, when I started traveling, I started meeting people who had different perspectives of  freedom, and government, and the United States.

We Americans started really looking like ignorant doofuses with the Viet Nam War.  We citizens really believed in the domino effect when it was fed to us, and  were convinced that if we did not prevent communism from taking over in southeast Asia, soon we’d all be wearing  khaki colored Mao suits.

WE fought that ‘war’ (never declared) from the lat 1950’s—with advisors—to  1972, when Nixon was elected to END THE WAR.

By then, we had realized we were involved in someone else’s  civil war and were tired of so many friends and relatives dying, and it not improving our economy.

Those we weren’t alive don’t remember that the civil rights movement also occured during  our overseas war, and as more  minorities with better education were admitted (rightfully so) to jobs in corporate America, the  formerly entitled white males could not get those jobs.  There was the draft, and they were drafted—as were the  uneducated minority men.  I mean, hell, the job market in the USA could not absorb them. We had to do something with them.  So, off to war they went.

During the time they were away, they were not competing for jobs, the real estate market had not yet become an economic engine, and our natural birthrate (we  did not  have so many refugees coming from less developed countries) was slowed for a while.  We prevented conceptions by  sending men overseas.  Too bad the ones who were left—many of them  imbeciles with no skills but active gonads, still managed to get poor girls pregnant. That’s how it goes.

Flash forward 2 decades, and we get the 2nd President Bush who inherits an economic surplus and stable economy,  He actually gets to be president due to a  Supreme Court ruling based on a political mistake, & ans we  start our rapid economic slide.  Even though  Bush’s friend Ken Lay (ENRON) was caught in a horrible ponzi scheme, absolutely none of our federal elected officials in Washington, DC  (save for Bernie Sanders, the socialist from Vermont),called Bush on the smoke-and-mirrors ‘weapons of mass destruction’ bs because  they were all freaked out about terrorists & the 9/11 bombings. WE HAD TO DO SOMETHING—no matter how ineffective it might be.

So, once again, under the guise of patriotism, we got people with no knowledge of history to sign up to be killed. They think they are dying for our freedom. lets take a closer look….

The Coalition for New Priorities will tell us that for all we’ve spent on these wars, we could have a  sustainable energy infrastructure &  viable public transit system.  That’s a fact.  Go to Seattle to learn about public transport. Then, go ride the BART on San Francisco).  Anyone remember Achmed Chalabi?  He was paid  $235,000 a week, for months, to  ‘advise’ us on  who were the bad guys in Iraq.  Except he turned out to be one. Where did that $$$ go?

Freedom?  For us?  Howzat?  We are defending/fighting people who —historically, were not countries until after World War I, & then—only became countries because the British designated then as countries (I will write about T.E. Lawrence & how that came about). The British put people in charge without listening to any of the people living in these places. That’s a fact.  People who murder their daughters, sisters, indeed—any female relative who has been raped—rather than murder the rapist.  That’s a fact.  Guys who don’t believe in educating their women or allowing their women  any sort of civil freedom. That is a fact.  How does that make us free?

Yet—at the ‘mid term elections’  at the end of 2010—because Obama had not fixed the economy—my fellow citizens voted back in the idiot Republicans who got us into this mess!  Shocking!  Oh. well, I guess that’s what freedom means!