Monday, June 29, 2009

Another Day, Another Drama

I really thought that with the election of Barack Obama that the news media would present things in a more positive light as far as this "recession" goes. You know, pointing out that our unemployment rate is the envy of the world, how more people have the opportunity to buy homes, start businesses, etc, than anywhere else. All of that crap. It hasn't happened. Rarely does a day go by that you don't see a family that isn't suffering through hard times (Note: the people profiled will always have kids, thus getting you to "feel more" for their situation.).

Thus I found it interesting that in USA Today last week, there was a sympathetic profile of a woman who has to work three jobs to get by. Three. As I'm reading this, my sympathy chip did not go off. Instead, I'm wondering why it is that she's not being portrayed as lucky, what with how the job market is these days. Three jobs? Tell those 2,000 poor saps who sat for an interview for a position with the Hard Rock Hotel's housekeeping department how much sympathy they have for that gal. Not much, methinks.

Can we feel equal amounts of pity for both the unemployed and the over-employed? The woman in the article brought home an estimated 40k annually. That won't get her a winter escape in St. Tropez, but if she plays her cards right, it's more than enough to keep her head, neck, and sizable waist above water. What bothers me the most is how these situations are always portrayed as unique, and how every crisis is the worst - until the next one comes along. People have always been fired, had to relocate, took on a paper route, battled (always courageously) a killer disease, dined out less, vacationed less, and generally made sacrifices. Today is just another day, with the same old stories, told in the same old way.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Lights, Camera, Lipstick

Has anyone else but me noticed that the news game has been overrun by women lately? Last night, I'm watching one of the local newscasts, and there are two women anchoring. For the top story they throw it out to...another woman. None of the channels here are "chick-free" at the anchor desk. In fact, I'm much more likely to see an all-gal newscast then to see a couple of dudes go back and forth. What happened?

If you took the average woman and gave her a quiz on current events, I'd bet the mortgage that her score would be closer to zero than it would to 100. So why are we inundated  by female news personalities all of a sudden? The nightly news has become much less of a re-cap of the day's events and more of a "watching out for me" mentality (to borrow the motto of another local news outlet). A story on a family that is filing for bankruptcy isn't news to me, but a feature designed to make us feel something. There! Feeling something! Maybe that's it. As the news becomes less about the news and more about getting you to "feel something" maybe it's thought that a woman can deliver the goods better than a man can.

Or maybe it simply boils down to serving the hottest dish to read the teleprompter scroll because the prettier the gal, the more of the actual people who watch the news (guys) will tune in. Sometimes the obvious answers apply.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Cell of My Own Making

There's one time every day where I feel unsafe. It's a two block stretch on the drive home, southbound on Tamarus from Tropicana to Hacienda. Every night, there are dozens of people milling about. Some are barbecuing. Some are fixing their cars. Others are simply hanging around. So many kids. I'm always afraid one is going to dart out into my path. Does all this scare me simply because I'm so not used to seeing it anymore?

I live in a gated community.  The very style of the development screams "Leave Me Alone". If (as a visitor) you're lucky enough to gain access through the front gate, once you get to your desired home, there's another locked gate you encounter before you get to the actual front door of the house. If you're planning on moving in, forget about getting to know your neighbors. Ain't gonna happen. There are benefits, though. Example? Halloween. Very few trick-or-treaters, which means more fun size Twix bars left for your author. On the down side, ordering a pizza is much more of a hassle than it needs to be.

Still, the privacy which this house affords is one of the reasons I was attracted to it in the first place. I don't want to be bothered, and I rarely am. Still, as I drive that seemingly dangerous three blocks each night, I also think that what I'm seeing reminds me of what it was like growing up on North 95th Street in Milwaukee 30 years ago, when you knew the names of everyone on your street and an impromptu game of Whiffleball could break out at any moment. 

As I sit and sip my coffee, my dog is chewing on his bone. The TV is off. My gal just told me she arrived safely to work, and I'm so damn glad it's not 1979 

Friday, June 12, 2009

Fixed and Fine With It

Hardly a week goes by that you don't see or read stories about individuals or families that have been hit hard by this "recession" we're in. 12 year old Tiffini had to give up her cell phone. Bart? Well, Bart can't take French horn lessons anymore because he has to go work at the mall since his dad was laid off. Hey, we're all feeling the pinch. Especially those on fixed incomes. Like me.

I started thinking about that after watching a report about how the elderly are handling things nowadays. It's always brought up that retirees are living on a fixed income but really, outside of salespeople whose commission can vary wildly from month to month, who isn't? Pumpkin and I work 40 hour weeks. My paycheck doesn't change. Neither does hers. That's a fixed income, right? So where's the profile on me? The advantage to having a fixed income is (unless you're a moron) you know what you can and can't afford. Pumpkin and I have tossed out cruises to the Bahamas and trips to Australia off the vacation possibilities list. Our trips this year look like they'll be to Wisconsin for family visits. My new Wisconsin motto is "Where the accommodations are always free, and there's always coffee a brewin". Not very catchy, but the point is that living with a fixed income should be easier than living with a variable one. Kind of like how having a fixed-rate mortgage gives peace of mind that a variable rate can never hope to provide.

It seems simple to realize what you can and can't afford to do, but even the simplest of concepts seem to escape more people. A red light means stop, a lighted elevator button doesn't need to be pushed a second time, and you never, ever need to buy a boat. Yet, as you read this, someone just ran the light and caused an accident, someone is feverishly pushing that button thinking it quickens the speed of deceleration, and some poor sap is turning to his wife and going "Aw, let's just do it. Live a little!". In the meantime, I'm going out to dinner with some friends on Sunday night, and to me that means we'll have the rest of our weekend meals at home to save money. Fine by me.

That's another advantaged of a fixed income. The ability to plan ahead. 

Thursday, June 4, 2009


I have a canker sore in the back of my throat, and it's making me cranky. Too much information, I know. Anyway...

Tough to be a white guy these days. As I read endless articles about the new nominee for the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor (who's name I've heard pronounced seven different ways now), it's plain to see that a white judge with similar or better qualifications was probably never even considered. Such a decision was thus based on race, which by definition makes it racist. Why does no one say this? All too often now, people are chosen based on what they are, not how they'd do. And that hurts the white guy. We've got to have women on the board of directors. We need to have minorities represented in law enforcement. We need a female voice on the radio station. It never stops and it's just getting worse. And at the end of the day, it's the white male of European background that's taking it up the you-know-what. We're not wanted anymore.

Ask yourself this; in an age where "diversity" is the big buzzword (Thomas Sowell says the word "diversity" is the new "racism"), are things better since we've become more "diverse"? Of course not. Name one professional field that is considered better now than it was even ten years ago, before the madness really started in full force. If your child needed life saving surgery, do you want the best doctor to work on them, or do you want the doctor who was hired because the hospital needed more minority representation? If your house is burning down, do you want the best "hosemen" (sorry), or the 120 pound girl who can't even change a tire? Don't even get me started on the military, please.

In an age where the U.S. has elected a minority as president, we're now more racist and sexist than ever. Those most deserving of the job rarely get it these days. Thus, companies simply aren't as well run as they used to be. We're much softer as a nation as well, at a time that demands more toughness than ever.

Hispanics can be proud of their heritage. So can blacks, women, Asians, Indians...anyone but the white guy. Someone who says "I'm proud to be white" is painted as a redneck hick ready to be fitted for a KKK hood. In a delicious irony, isn't it funny that the people considered most racist (white guys) are really these days the least racist of all?

No, not really.