Sunday, November 29, 2009

Public Servants

Good Evening;

I am, this evening, reflecting on our Public Servants.

The first in this category that comes to mind are the dedicated Men and Women of our various Police and fire Departments.

I have, I must confess, in common with many other people , been altogether too cavalier in my taking our Police and fire Departments for granted. It is, I am very much afraid, only when we have cause to call upon them, that we truly realize when these dedicated, underpaid and certainly unappreciated servants do for us.

On the part of the Police, City, State, and National, I think each of us fail to think about the reality that when these loyal servants leave their homes to report for duty, there is no guarantee that they will return to their Homes and Families ever again.

Far, Far too many of our Police and Fire personnel lose their lives each and every year in the performance of their duties. If we think back to the terrible day of September 11, 2001, we will recall that more than Three Hundred members of the Fire and Police Departments of New York city lost their lives on that fateful day. None of them ran FROM danger, but rather Towards it, why ? because it was their duty, their Noble duty , to Protect and to Serve us, the selfsame people who all too often take them for granted.

And, it seems, almost no week goes by without reading about or hearing of, on Television, that another of these unselfish people has given their life in the service of each and every one of us.

I guess there are very few of us who, at one time or other, has grumbled, or even cursed, When a Policeman or Woman, in the performance of their duty has given us a ticket (usually deserved). I think that what we all fail to remember that these Men and Women are just doing their duty. and sure, there are those occasions, when a Police Officer is a little less than courteous when giving us said ticket. But I dare anyone to cite any one profession whose members are always good and decent.

I think you will find that this impossible, for, alas, there is good and bad in all of us, whatever our profession.

And of course, for the past Six or Seven Years , we have watched almost daily when one or, too often, several of the Men or Women of our Armed Forces, has given the last full measure of their devotion to their Country and their Duty.

Anyone who has ever been to West Point has, I'm sure seen the motto graven in the stone of the Entrance(s) to that Great Institution, These simple words, "Duty, Honor, Country".

I think, that written or engraved or not, that each of our Public Servants who protect us, ignoring the inherent dangers of their Profession, has this same motto in their Hearts.

So join with me please, in this Season of Thanksgiving , to pause for just a moment to say, either silently or aloud, "Thank You" We love and appreciate each of you.

Rest Well this evening, we are well served and protected.

The Old Professor

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Good Morning, Gentle People.

Just some thoughts about our Government.
I think there are a great number of myths associated with the Government of the United states.

I think it says in the Constitution that We, the American People, have the right to Petition our Government for Relief.

One would assume that this means that we, each of us, can dash off a letter to any member of our Government that we feel can help us in any number of issues that are of importance to us, or alternately, pick up the telephone and Speak with the Member of the Government that we wish to have speak with.


while it is true, any of us can sit ourself down and pen a letter to our Congressman, our Senator or even our President. If your mind is full of expectations of a quick answer, or any answer, If your heaving breast is about to burst with the happy expectation of a sooner, rather than later, redress, I have the unpleasant job of disillusioning you.

If you have the unmitigated gall and unrealistic expectation of hearing anything from any of the above mentioned individuals........don't hold your breath.

Now, it is true that you will probably receive a letter of acknowledgement of the Mighty Magistrate to whom you wrote, it will be nothing more than "We got your letter,and we really don't give a Rat's Ass about your problem, we have to act like we do so you will vote for Senator Jack S. Phogbound in the next election, so please fill out the enclosed release form for us, so we can use your name, pillage your rights and trample on your hopes"

This missive will bear the impressive signature of the official in question, signed in fact by an Autopen, a device that signs letters from the mighty to spare the official in question the onerous task of signing his or her name occasionally, on something other than his paycheck, or a Hotel Register in the Bahamas or some such exotic place where the Offical has gone on a "Fact finding Mission' of great importance to the Nation, and of great Fun and Profit for the Official.

Or if you really want a giggle, just try writing to the President and see how far you get, if you are asking for anything other than his Polpul Blessings. The foregoing is not a misspelling, I thought to put Papal Blessings there, but thought it would be disrespectful, although I'm as certain as I can be that there hasn't been a President in a long time who hasn't had the occasional moment of jealousy when meeting the Pope, wishing that he, the Prez, could wear a Golden Dress replete with many insignia of Office, Rank, Perfect Attendance, Knot tying and etc to impress any and all who view him (But mostly Himself).I also think it's probable that many Presidents would like some sort of distinctive headgear, so that people would have no trouble recognizing him and bowing appropriately, something on the order of a cross betweens Abe Lincoln's Top Hat and The British Crown and trimmed all round with fur gleaned from the Toupee's of vanquished members of the Opposing Party

I've heard that the most often replaced item of Furnishing in the White House is the Mirrors. After a few months of daily Presidential Preening, nay, hourly, the mirrors are just worn out answering "Mirror, Mirror on the Wall" questions, and have to be replaced with new mirrors, just refilled with fawning Lies.

But, I digress, as I am frequently wont to do.

I'm Trying to say, I guess, that once we elect Fred or Ethel Earnest, of say, Hipshot, Iowa, we need not worry about being troubled by the shiny new Official, cause we will never hear from them again, unless they need money.Or your Vote.

If I sound like a cynic, its because I are one.

Sleep Well, and keep those Tax Dollars Comin`


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day

Good Evening all veterans and those who love and appreciate them.

I cannot do Justice to the Veterans and Servicemen and Women of this Country in this feeble effort but I will do my best.

To all my fellow Veterans of Earlier Times and Earlier Wars; THANK YOU AND WELL DONE.

To the Men and Women who are currently serving our Country, in Hundreds of roles, and almost that many areas of Service , I, as well as all other Proud Americans, Salute and Thank you for your unselfish Service to this Nation.

To the uncountable Men and Women of our Armed forces, who have given their last full measure of Duty, Honor and Country, you will never be forgotten, regardless of the Period of your Sacrifice, in whatever War.

To the Millions of Men and Women who have served our Nation, in roles both Heroic and unrecognized , and shamefully have not been properly rewarded for their Service you are our Heroes, and will always remain so.

And to the Thousands of our Wounded and Maimed Veterans of a Foreign War, we can never repay or reward you for your Service, but we make a pledge to never forget your sacrifice or to fail to try and help you in any way we can.

I know that I am joined by many Millions of Americans who are proud of our Country, and those who have served her, in Saluting and Thanking You from the bottom of our Hearts.

Well done and stand at Ease. You have done your part.

The Old Professor

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Book review

Good Morning All:

I thought, just for the fun of it, I would write a review of the latest book I have read, before I start on the next one.

The book in question is; "The Professional", by Robert B. Parker.

I should start by stating my qualifications to write a Book Review. They are pretty simple............almost none....., I do however read so much that I tend to recognize when an Author, for reasons of his own, begins to write in a "Cookie Cutter" fashion.
(my Wife's spot-on description)
I should also hastily say that a lot of people like this sort of writing, because they know what to expect from Author X, Y or Z, and they like to read what they are comfortable with. Myself, I like surprises and unpredictable plots.

I have been reading Robert B. Parker for almost as long as he has been writing, and have for the most part enjoyed his effort (s).

However, his latest in his "Spenser" series continues the free fall of his last few books in this series. "The Professional" is once again more of an Ode to his wife, Joan, and Spensers "True Love" Susan than a "Whodunnit" Now I absolutely applaud anyone who dearly loves his wife (or in the distaff case, her husband) and think it should be ever so.

But enough is enough. Gone is the tough, wisecracking, bad guy shooting Spenser and in his stead we are met with the "New" Spenser. Thoughtful, Introspective, casually tossing out little known literary quotes, analyzing his characters as though he were a Psychiatrist, rather than a Private Eye, in short, deflating the identity of the Hero that made me want ro read his books in the first place.

Mr. Parker has written so many Bestsellers, that it appears that he can toss out just about any effort now, and be assured of fat Royalty Checks.. Shame on you Parker. If it ain't broke don't fix it . I want to read about a Private Eye not a lovesick Swain.

And in the final literary injustice of this tome, Mr. Parker copies shamelessly from John Steinbeck ( of mice and men) in his final chapter, and then to compound the plagarism, he "borrows" a character name from "To Kill a Mockingbird"....The Character? .....Boo, as in Radley.

As I have said, Mr. Parker is far more qualified to Write Books, than I am to review them, but in this case, I think my criticism is overdue and not over done. However in the unlikely event of Mr. Parker reading this review, he is probably giving a derisive snort, thinking "What have you written Ace'? And the answer is.........nothing, but I've read one hell of a lot of books and who knows?, perhaps other readers are a little tired of simplified, somewhat boring plots ? Who Knows?

Enough of the swooning, Parker, get back to the Shootin'.

In breaking a long habit, I read a library copy of this book instead of purchasing a copy hot off the presses, and I'm glad I did. I do however own copies of almost all of Mr. Parkers previous books, and enjoyed reading them.

Parker has also written two or three Western Novels, which I thought were uniformly good, and refreshing in that the principal Proponent was not constantly rhapsodizing over his "True Love" or "lost Love" and is not casually throwing in a obscure quote from one Poet or other.

He also, in the past few years gave me reason to hope, when he began a new series, with a Protagonist by the name of Jesse Stone. But alas, I soon found that Stone was a cop who had been fired by the LAPD for a drinking problem, and been subsequently hired as the Police Chief of a small New England Town, and (sigh) was soon mooning over his ex wife, who apparently would hop into bed with, say, Broccoli, if she thought it would help her career. Just when I thought that this was a series I could skip, Parker surprises me by having said Chief Stone tell his ex to "Hit the Road", having finally, apparently, tired of wearing more Horns than a herd of Elk.

So, hope remains burning brightly in this tired, wrinkled old Breast.

So, take this for what it's worth, in that Robert B. Parker is clearly more capable of writing books than am I to critique them.

So..........what the Hey , I've had my say (Rhyming unintentional)

Keep on readin' them good books. We bookworms are fortunate that there is no Dearth of good books out there.

Give your local Librarian a "Thumbs Up"

Stay Well


Friday, November 6, 2009

Politics-Profiteers and Perception

Good Morning All.

Well, one of the big news items for the last couple of days, is the elections in New Jersey and Virginia.

In both of these elections, political prognosticators were surprised by Republicans besting their Democratic Challengers in Gubernatorial elections.

This immediately caused a convocation of Political Witch-Doctors, soothsayers and Wizards to begin assembling on Television and in the Print Media to tell us, the ignorant public what the Elections mean to us.

A fair answer, I think, is Nothing. That's right, you heard me, Nothing at All.
I think anyone who has paid more than cursory attention to politics for quite some period of time, will tell you that Politics are based on Perception and Pocketbooks.

If for instance, Clyde the Carpenter, say, is out of work. Like all typical people, Clyde immediately looks for somebody to blame for his unemployment......So, Voila....there just happens to be an Election imminent, so Clyde sets grimly out to demonstrate his rage or sorrow, or general feelings of despair by the only means available to him at the moment...His Vote.

The same, I think is true of people all across the Professions, or trades spectrum.

Lyin` Larry the Lawyer suddenly finds himself in the same boat as Clyde , and takes exactly the same course, Vote the current crop of Bums out, and vote in a new crop of Bums.If that strategy doesn't work, Larry can run for office,as being a Lawyer, that would be his natural next step.

Both of these two examples are, I think, based on the main driving force, or motivation(s). Pocketbooks and Perception.

In both cases, these chaps have or are getting near to, a financial crisis, and in both cases, they perceive that the Party in Power is to blame, and therefore cast their vote for change. The fact that they have, in Elections past, also voted on perception, usually without any signs of improvement, doesn't deter them one whit.

Nevermind the fact, that both of these Individuals also voted for a change less than a year ago, got out and worked hard to Elect a New Beloved leader, nothing immediately changed so both are once more in the market for CHANGE.

Nobody in Washington, I think, has been blessed with the sudden onset of common Sense of to bring them to say......"You know, our whole problem is lack of jobs
and furthermore possibly the way to cure this is to start passing some legislation to keep American Jobs in America, and to go a necessary step farther, bring back some of the jobs too many Fat Cat CEO's "Outsourced" to countries offering cheaper (read slave) labor. They , the CEO's took this action for only one reason, and that of course, was to please their stockholders, who thereupon immediately voted these Morons about a Berzillion dollar Bonus, a couple more Executive Jets, and a few more "Vacation" homes.Then the fictional Politician could say, Eureka! I've just had a new idea (a novel moment for a Politician).

So, to my way of thinking, both Politics and the Stock Market are based on Perception, and nothing but. It doesn't matter what Party Label the Winners or losers have after their name, on the Ballot, just boot them out, and try something else, even if it's wrong. This has happened time and time again, and I think always will.

I think this reinforces my long held idea of doing away with Political Parties, and forcing anyone running for any Public Office to have to stand up and SAY what they believe in and will work to achieve, without the Camouflage of a Party Label after their name.

Maybe, also, we should elect our leaders on a Probationary Basis. Tell them in effect, "If you have made no inroads on the Nation's Problems,in say six months, and at least started trying to get things done, "You're Fired". Of course this would require an amendment to the Constitution, but so what, we've tried everything else.

Sounds almost like a Revolution Doesn't it?

I think, although I have nothing but history and personal observations to back up my feelings, that the Stock Market is also based on perception.

After the last Presidential Election the Stock Market started a slow, cautious upswing. The Traders on the floor of the NYSE judged that the people had correctly judged the Economy and were just absolutely (maybe) sure that Happy Days Were Here Again. Only time will tell whether the bellweather indicators, and the Traders were right or wrong, but one thing I can tell you, is that based on History, two things are true of the Stock Market. Each time the Market goes up, inevitably a little later something happens to cause it go down again. It seems this always happens, and I think always will. Now I'm sure that all you Stock Market experts will find a flaw in my reasoning, but take the time to consult a bar or line graph, charting the rise and fall of the Stock Market over the last, say, fifty years, and I think you'll see what I mean. The only time-proven method I know of is, to (starting when you're young, and can afford to do so), invest some money in Blue Chip stocks and just forget all about it. By the time you retire, you will have made a tidy profit, (usually).

I've always tried to keep one thing in mind about the Stock Market. Before you invest, ask yourself the following question...."Can I afford to lose this Money?
If the answer is yes, go for it, but if the answer is no, keep your money in the bank.

Sort of like a Casino, both are gambles, and average person is well advised to stay out of them.

I recall one fellow saying when asked for advice about buying stocks replied " Only buy stocks that go up. If they don't go up, don't buy them".

Corny, but sensible.

Stay Well


Monday, November 2, 2009

All Comments Welcome.

good Evening all Y'all.

I have noticed, as have some of you, that there is a dearth of comments regarding this Blog.

Now this could be either a good or bad sign, Either no one is reading the blog, or if they are, they are not commenting. While this lack will not (probably) keep me from adding to this mess, I would feel a lot better about my poor efforts if I received some comments, Good or Bad or even Horrible.

It is by this method I will learn whether any of my posts have struck a chord with any of you, made you mad, made you pump your fist in the air and say 'Right On", or "What a dummy", or" my German Shepherd could do better than this "(I would suggest a translation), in this case.

So come on folks don't be shy, lets get a good dialogue going. I've made no secret of two primary things in this endeavor. One, I don't consider myself a writer, and two, I am trying to become one of these elusive species. I want to write for two reasons, to make a few people chuckle, and two, state my humble opinion on subjects in or on the passing scene.

I've had all kinds of experiences in my life, so far, hope to have more, and hope to be able to share some or all of them with you. I find writing to be enjoyable and hope earnestly for some of you to enjoy the retelling of them. I promise I'll try not to sermonize, or if I do I WILL NOT pass the collection plate.

Someone, and I cannot for the life of me think who it was, said, Every Man (or woman) has at least one good Sermon in them. And I would add, in most cases it should remain IN them.

That said, I have always enjoyed talking to people, but have, I think, enjoyed listening even more. For it is by this basic exercise that we learn and grow.

I think many of our children might possibly enjoy their schooling more, if their teacher were to assign an exercise for them, to just set down and write whatever they want to, no matter the subject or format. I know of at least one former teacher who did just this, and for this reason, as for his calm reason and demeanor that I consider him a friend, even though we've never met, save on the pages of Emails. I am speaking, of course, of the Author of 'Exactly Write" a blog devoted to writing.The author of this blog is also the Editorial Page Editor of our local newspaper. I value his counsel because of not just what he knows, but his willingness to share the same. If you have not read and enjoyed his blog, as I have done for sometime now, here's the site:
http://Exactly Give him a read, tell him the Old Professor sent you, and sit back and read and profit therefrom.

So, come on, Guys and Gals, lets hear what you think. If you think I should just shut up, say so, If you think it more fitting that I be hung on the public square at high noon, chime in, whatever, I'll either enjoy it or profit from it, or both.

Stay Well

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Carbon Offsets and Snake Oil salesmen.

Good Morning all.

Well, outwardly it seems like a fine fall day from where I'm sitting. The sun is shining, its not raining,and the temperature is approaching warm. Yessir seems like a fine day. But is it? Remember the Old Days when Quack Salesmen would come to every Village at one time or another, selling a "Miracle Cure"?. These polished and glib Salesmen would sell you a bottle of their miracle Elixir for the low low price of just a Quarter or a Dollar or whatever,and have such a mesmerizing sales pitch, a person would began to feel aches and pains they didn't even know they had until that moment, and they suddenly just HAD to have a bottle or two of that miracle draught. Usually, sooner than later people wised up to the fact that said elixir was mostly just Alcohol, and would therefore certainly make one feel much better, until the next morning, when the salesmen had moved on to greener pastures.

Such men came to be Called (I'm Told) "Snake Oil Salesmen". and fell out of favor and welcome when enough people knew about the Alcoholic Properties of their product, or just realized that they didn't have any Snakes that needed Oiling. There were undoubtedly a certain few imbibers in every small town that mourned their leaving, but by and large, most were glad to see them decamp.

I guess what colors my appreciation of what seems like a fine fall day, is worrying about my "Carbon Footprint" and whether or not I should purchase some "Carbon Offsets"?, or the modern day equivalent of Snake Oil.

Perhaps I am just ill informed, or ignorant, but I just don't quite understand the whole Carbon Offset thing.

The way I understand it is that each of us is supposed to calculate our "Carbon footprint" i.e., the amount of pollutants we are each releasing into the atmosphere and buy "Carbon Offsets" to neutralize said emissions. Now call me dumb (and join the countless people who already do) or ill-informed or skeptical, but I just don't get it.

I guess it's the Old Pseudo-Scientist in me, but I have trouble understanding how it is possible for me to pollute the air, through whatever means, and then cancel out those pollutants by paying someone else not to pollute, or in the case of several well known and wealthy people, paying some company of Wizards to absolve their sinful pollution by some mysterious means known only to them(the Wizards)for a number of "Carbon Offsets"

This seems to be the most popular option for the glitterati, who often have more money than sense, and want to drive home this point to us, the gullible T.V.-watching gomers of the world.

If I have it right, the whole basis for this popular method of self-absolvment is to perhaps locate some remote village in Africa or some such, which village has never had Electricity supplied to them in recorded History, have no desire for such service, don't even really know what Electricity is, can't afford it, and so on, and then Pay the Village Elders to sign their name, or make their mark on an agreement saying that they will never have Electricity run to their village. Then the erstwhile Carbon Credit Dealer will compute how much carbon is not released, as it never was, to the atmosphere because of this village remaining non-electric,as it already (the Village) had every intention of so doing, and then selling some well heeled and self absorbed individual in the U.S. a Carbon Credit or credits, while will allow them to continue to use as much Electricity, Natural gas, Gasoline, manufactured clothing, consuming milk and meat (both products of that infamous methane emitter, the common Cow, as they desire.

I think I have figured out a method to absolve me of my pollutant-sins (some of them at least) first, I'll pay my neighbor a Dollar a day to not drive more than one of his four vehicles simultaneously. Second I'll pay him an additional dollar for every day he does not Mow his Lawn, when there is Snow on the Ground, thirdly I'll make another contribution to his purse for not breaking the law and burning leaves, even though he never does so. Next I'll start feeding my Dog only every other day, thus reducing the amount of Methane she would normally produce,,,No, wait,, that wouldn't work because the Gasoline I would burn in driving to the Hospital to have a dog Bite medically seen to would offset the amount I would save on this type of Doggy-Diet. Scratch this one.

I think I'll just do what I have always done, and recycle all the things I can,and watch the Newspaper carefully for Coupons offering free Carbon Credits, and save them until a Politician or Actor comes to town, and maybe plant a tree or two to furnish some clean air to offset the Hot Air produced in Washington.

How about you? Seen any unoiled snakes recently?. Keep your eyes open and avoid eating beans.

Stay Well (and Carbon Free)