Category Archives: Uncategorized

Why Can’t Kansas Get Any Good Press?


I’ve been away for awhile. Frankly I haven’t had any inspiration to write lately, but a couple of weeks ago I heard a ridiculous story concerning my home state, and today I read another. Both received national news coverage. Just like when our state Board of Education decided that teaching evolution wasn’t important, these stories make us look crazy.

I was listening to “All Things Considered” on NPR a couple of weeks ago and heard an interesting story about our state capital of Topeka. Apparently, prosecuting domestic violence cases is just to expensive. It’s so expensive that the municipal court of Topeka can’t afford to do it. It’s so expensive the Shawnee County District court can’t afford to do it. So what did these two groups do? The district court told the city of Topeka that they would only prosecute cases outside of Topeka. If it happens in Topeka the municipal court was responsible. It seems pretty cut and dry, but Topeka had an ace up its sleeve.  The city council simply repealed the municipal domestic violence statute. Now the municipal court has no authority to prosecute these cases.  As city manager Dan Stanley points out, this doesn’t make domestic violence legal because it is still covered by state law. The problem with this situation is that the two parties simply fought with each other rather that trying to find a mutual solution. Instead, they fought and ended up in a situation that is truly not beneficial to anyone.

This brings us to the story I just read about 25 minutes ago.  Kansas Governor Sam Brownback apparently had some ‘splaing to do. At a Youth in Government event in Topeka, Brownback made some remarks. A senior at Shawnee Mission East High School (home of the Lancers) made a tweet during his remarks with the hashtag (I hate myself a little for using that term) #heblowsalot. Brownback’s staff saw the tweet and called the school. The student ended up in the principal’s office and was told to write a letter of apology.

Now the Governor is apologizing for his overzealous staff, and saying the right to free speech is a “treasured freedom.” I think Gov. Brownback did the right thing. I don’t really have a problem with what his staff did. They should be monitoring social media that involves the Governor. I don’t know why they called the school. They probably shouldn’t have but that is a minor offense. My real problem is with Shawnee Mission East and principal Dr. Karl Krawitz. At what point did the school believe they have any right to order a student to apologize for a comment made on the internet. The student concerned is an adult and has all the constitutional rights of a  U.S. citizen. There is no reason that she should have spent any time in the principal’s office, and certainly no reason the school should have told her she should apologize for voicing her opinion. If anything Dr. Krawitz owes her an apology far more than  Governor Brownback.

Well, I hope my beloved home state gets some better press in the future, but it does feel good to be back.

One last thing, Herman, another woman, give it up man.

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A Constitutional Question


I’ve done a pretty bad job of posting lately. My interest in politics has been tested throughly. I’m just tired of the same arguments coming from either side over government spending and taxation. The Tea Party has thoroughly destroyed my faith in Congress, and the American public. I will talk more about that in a later post. Today, I want to pose a question. It’s a question I thought of a long time ago, but never got around to asking. First, a little reminder of our recent history.

Back in March, all the talk was about Wisconsin. Governor Scott Walker was trying to push a bill that stripped the collective bargaining rights of public employees. State Senate Democrats fled in an effort to obstruct him. In the end the bill was passed, but not without gaining significant national attention and a repeated FOXNews claim that was completely wrong. In the last six months, I’ve been mulling this issue over in my head. Education is very important to me. I’ve been a public school system employee. I have strong views about the issue. Personally, I don’t believe that public school teachers have the awesome, easy job that conservative talking heads say they do. I also believe that we should be encouraging people to become teachers not discouraging it. Having the smartest people want to be teachers is good. Education in the cornerstone of everything we do.

All that aside, I thought of an argument that makes the repeal of public employee’s collective bargaining rights is unconstitutional. This argument maybe crazy. It may have been addressed already. I would genuinely like to know what you think. So please leave comments below. As long as their civil and honest of course.

The 1st Amendment to the Constitution says:

     “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

We’re going to focus on the last part of that amendment. The government cannot abridge our “right to peacefully assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”  The way I read that is that collective bargaining is a right of public employees. Collective bargaining is people assembling (as a union) and petitioning the government over grievances (such as pay, working conditions and so on.)

I know that a strict constructionist view of the Constitution would not allow this, because it doesn’t talk specifically about collective bargaining, but collective bargaining didn’t exist. I believe we have to view the Constitution in the era it was written in, and decide for ourselves what is right and wrong. Let me know what you think.

Bank of America Talks Layoffs. I Talk Hot Dogs.


What do Bank of America, and a guy known as “The Chili Man” have in common?

They both call beautiful Charlotte, North Carolina home. Why do I know this? Well, I’m a frequent listener of NPR. Especially, “All Things Considered,” “Car Talk,” and when it works out, “Marketplace.” Today happened to be a day when I listened to “Marketplace,” and I heard this story. If you read a little of it you will find that reporter Amy Scott talks to Charlotte resident and businessman,

Charlotte hot dog man, Vic Werany

Vic Werany. Vic is the aforementioned “Chili Man.” Here’s my thing. He sells hot dogs. Yes, I know that we often put chili on a hot dog. I a huge proponent of doing so. The chili dog is one of my favorite foods, but the “Chili Man” should sell chili. At best, Vic is the “Chili Dog Man.” Little things like that bother me.

Here’s a couple more that nobody ever talks about. Hot dogs are sometimes referred to as “frankfurters” or “wieners,” and nobody complains? These terms mean something. First of all, they’re all sausages really, but a frankfurter and a wiener would be different. Frankfurters are based on the sausages of Frankfurt, and wieners on the sausages of Vienna. So explain to me how Oscar Meyer sells “franks” and “wieners” that are both hot dogs, and don’t get me started on Vienna sausages!

In reality much can be learned by reading the hot dog entry on Wikipedia. It turns out that these terms do not mean what they originally meant. Not really all that surprising. We, Americans, have a way of changing the definition of things to suit our own needs. Anyway, you should take some time to learn about a classic American grilling food, and no it’s not “barbecue”. I’m from Kansas City. If you misuse that holy word I will have a lengthy discussion with you about “barbecue.”

Oh yeah, the story also mentions that Bank of America is going to lay-off 30,000 people over the next couple of years. You didn’t expect me to talk about that, did you?

 

5 Film Recommendations


List posts seem to be popular around the blogging community and I’ve done a couple. Today I’ve decided to step outside the world of politics.  Summer is coming to a close and there is no better time for a movie night. If that is in your family’s future, I want to recommend five of my favorite films.

1) CLUE (1985)

Some people may argue that board games don’t make for good movies. CLUE in one case that proves them wrong. Based on the Parker Bros. game Clue is a classic whodunnit mystery.  Tim Curry, Martin Mull, Micheal McKean, Christopher Lloyd, Madeline Kahn, Eileen Brennan, and Lesley Ann Warren made an all-star cast of comedic actors from the mid 1980’s. The premise was simple. Six people show up at a dinner party. Then Mr. Boddy arrives. Mr. Boddy is quickly killed and we are left to figure out who murdered him.  With fantastic performances by the entire cast, and 3 alternate endings, Clue is an underappreciated classic of American comedy.

2) Uncle Buck (1989)

If you talk to people about John Hughes films, you will likely hear about “The Breakfast Club” and “Sixteen Candles.” You may even come across the occasional fan of “Ferris Buehler’s Day Off.” The one John Hughes flick you aren’t likely to hear about is “Uncle Buck.” “Uncle Buck” starred John Candy as, Buck Russell, the estranged uncle of a suburban Chicago family. When his sister-in-law’s father has a heart attack the family must turn to Buck to look after the three children, only one of whom knows he even exists. Uncle Buck has all the humor of an outright comedy, and the touching growing up story of teenage angst that is the hallmark of John Hughes films. It’s a definite must see.

3) O Brother Where Art Thou? (2000)

Ethan and Joel Cohen might just be the most creative filmmakers alive today. Their films range from the hilarious to absurd to downright frightening. How a pair can come up with “The Dude” for one movie and then have a characters body put through a wood chipper in another is beyond me. I was exposed to the Coen brothers early in my life when I first saw “Raising Arizona.” Since then I have had the pleasure of seeing 8 of the 15 or so movies they have released. While I constantly fight myself over which is my favorite, I believe 2000’s “O, Brother Where Art Thou” is possibly the most creative film of my lifetime. Centered around Ulysses Everett McGill (George Clooney) and his chain gang companions, Pete (John Turturro) and Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson), the film is an adaptation of Homer’s “Odyssey” set in the Depression Era South. After they escape from a penal farm, the trio sets out to find treasure. Along the way they encounter a blind soothsayer on the railroad, a guitar player named Tommy(Chris Thomas King), a one-eyed Bible salesman (John Goodman), infamous bank robber George “Baby-Face” Nelson (Michael Badalucco), Governor Pappy O’Daniel (Charles Durning), and a man who will pay you 20 dollars to sing into a can (Stephen Root). Backed up by the brilliant musical direction of T-Bone Burnett, “O Brother Where Art Thou?” is a film you just can’t miss.

4) Inherit The Wind (1960)

When I was growing up my mother took it upon herself to make sure I had an appreciation for classic American cinema. I was the only kid in the elementary school who could talk about Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart and Danny Kaye. My friends didn’t have a clue about who Andy Griffith was,  but I had seen “No Time For Sergeants” ten times. At some point this experience led me to “Inherit The Wind.” Based on the real-life events of the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial, “Inherit The Wind” is a fantastic film. “Inherit The Wind” has a top-notch cast with Spencer Tracy, Frederic March, and Gene Kelly, in a rare dramatic, non-dancing role. The cast, the script, and the directing are all reasons to watch this film, but the most important reason is the subject itself.  “Inherit The Wind” is based on the real trial that pitted conservative hero William Jennings Bryan and famous trial lawyer Clarence Darrow against each other. The argument of faith vs. science is explored in-depth. This is the debate that is still going on today. If you want an example of a film that is as relevant today as it was when it was made, “Inherit The Wind” is a great example.

5) Casablanca (1942)

Intrigue, romance, suspense, murder, and most importantly Nazis, “Casablanca” has it all. If you pick one movie from this list to watch, this is it. “Casablanca” is always in the top five of any list of the greatest films ever made. There is good reason. “Casablanca” gave us great lines like, “Here’s looking at you, kid,” “Of all the gin joints in all the world, she had to walk into mine,” “Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship,” and “Play it again, Sam,” which is actually never said in the movie. Like the other movies I’ve recommended in this list, “Casablanca” has an amazing cast. Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, and Paul Henreid put in stellar performances. However, Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman make Casablanca unforgettable. If you had to pick one movie to watch on a random night, “Casablanca” will never dissapoint.

While this list is not meant to promote the five best movies ever made, I believe that these five are great movies to watch. I hope you will take the time to see them.

A Diversion From the Serious. . . Perhaps To The Absurd


The debt ceiling debate is driving me out of my mind. I could go on and on about economic theory, deficit reduction, and so on. However, I will not, because if I start I won’t be able to stop. So instead I would like to move on to a very not serious topic.

I’ve begun to write a book. If you read my blog you would probably think it’s about politics or society. It is most certainly not. It’s about men and women.

To be more specific, I’ve spent most of the last ten years working in female dominated professions. I worked in elementary schools, and for a university child care certain. In those environments I learned a considerable amount about women that I didn’t want to know. Most importantly, I learned that men don’t understand women. Think about it. If you’re a man you’ve said, “That woman is freakin’ crazy!”

Men think women are crazy. From their obession about shoes, reality TV, or the female ability to ask a question that has multiple answers all of which are wrong, we don’t get it. So I’m writing a book that tries to help men with this problem.  The chapters are different “mental illnesses.” For instance Marcos’ Syndrome (obsession over shoes), Volatile Hair Pigment Disorder (women who constantly dye their hair), and so forth. I’m putting an example here for critique. I want to know if men can relate to it, and find it funny. The point of the book is to give men something to laugh about so we can go about loving the crazy women in our lives. Let me know what you think:

“Shopping Fixation Disorder

Overview

Shopping Fixation Disorder is a condition very unique to women in which they wish to browse among purchasable goods with no apparent desire to buy any. This is not to say that they will not buy. Purchase of a particular item is just not the primary reason for browsing. There is a controversy in the scientific community as some believe shopping is not a disorder but a natural evolutionary progression. 

History

 Shopping Fixation Disorder was first categorized in the 1920’s. The booming economy provided a large amount of money in the hands of the American public. A larger number of women than ever before had a discretionary budget. With that budget came the desire to obtain clothes, shoes, and other items. The disorder declined as would be expected by the Great Depression. Women as well as men could not spend time or money in such as way because they simply did not have it. But as World War II came to a close, and American suburbia grew so did the apparent rate of Shopping Fixation. The booming middle class grew as did the disorder. For the first time researched showed that even women with lower incomes were afflicted. The great abundance of credit from various sources made purchasing more viable, and so while women were not necessarily shopping to buy, they would shop more often because, if necessary, buying was possible. Today, Shopping Fixation is estimated to afflict 90-95% of the population of females in the United States.

 Controversy

 The controversy over Shopping Fixation centers around the question of whether it is actually a disorder at all. The Anti-Disorder movement suggests that shopping is merely an evolutionary progression of women’s previous roles in society. In early human culture, men and women had very different gender roles. Humans were organized into hunter-gatherer cultures. Men generally acted as hunters and women as gatherers.

The gatherer role involves foraging. Women would go out scouring nature for nuts, berries and other edible plants. This role leads to a large amount of looking without necessarily finding anything. As agriculture and the domestication of animals became the main source of food for humans, foraging took a back seat. Women were more set to the role of child-rearing, and home keeping. The Anti-Disorder movement says that shopping is merely the result of this. Women are just satisfying their natural instinct to forage by looking through various goods available at shops in their area. This argument is ongoing. Evidence to support the cause of Shopping Fixation is scarce. The reality of it’s existence is indisputable, however.

Living with Shopping Fixation

 Living with a woman afflicted with Shopping Fixation presents interesting problems. Often, early in a relationship the man is expected to participate in the shopping process. This poses a large problem for men who generally go to a retail store with a particular purchase in mind. It is important that as a man you assert your right not to participate. Bear in mind that you will lose that argument, but that will play to your advantage. For that reason, it is important that you actually participate in certain situations. Women genuinely want a man’s opinion on some things you will find mind-numbingly boring and irrelevant. It will also be frustrating that she will likely not listen to your opinion. Mostly, you are being used to affirm the woman’s belief that you are wrong. It is still important that you participate. You must show that you are no help at all. Over time, as you repeatedly make the wrong choices, the woman in your life will increasingly believe that you are not smart enough to prove useful. The more she believes this, the less you will be asked to be a part of it. While much work is required in the beginning, the long-term payoff is much greater.

 You may remember that she has other friends. In this situation they are your best allies. If you prove useless, she will increasingly shop with her other friends. They will provide an opinion she takes much more seriously. Also, as each girl in the group tells the story of the useless man in her life, it will reaffirm the group’s belief that men are useless in this endeavor. The upshot of all this is that you are not needed and the woman is not around. This does not interfere with your desire to watch sports all weekend. That is a true win-win.”

This is just a rough draft, but I be very interested in any feedback. Please bear in mind that it’s a joke. I don’t want to piss off the feminists, who think I truly believe all women are mentally ill. Again, it’s a joke. Thanks!

Two Stories: One Hilarious, The Other Ridiculous


I came across two stories at the LA Times website today.  You should read them both. The first talks about a Sarah Palin snafu at FOXNews. Come on FOX, you pay her a million dollars a year and don’t know what she looks like?

The second tells us about the ridiculous future of Bristol Palin. I hope it doesn’t make you cringe or lose total faith in the American public. It’s making me do both.

An Experiment


This is just an experiment for using sticky posts. I’ve never done this before. I think I could use it for a “quote of the day/week.” We’ll have to see how it turns out.