Tuesday, May 22, 2012

American Public = cash cow

In other news, water is wet....

I read this story and I had to laugh.  As a former NJ resident, I thought all roads had toll booths until I was 12 years old.  Here in the SF Bay Area, tolls have been on all of the bridges since they were built, but on the roadways is a relatively new item.  Of course, that hasn't stopped them from charging exorbitant rates.  They just crow on about how convenient they have made it with the FastTrak devices, removing your cash at the speed of light.  Despite being in IT, I am not thrilled or amazed by the technology. 

But apparently the populace of Houston, at some point, thought that their politicians could be trusted.  They believed that the various government agencies would see this cash rolling in hand over fist and not think, "Wow, this will be great until it ends.  Oh well."  Instead, when the end was looming, the politicians simply changed it with a line item in a council meeting, Section H, paragraph 6, sub paragraph Q, line 23.  With the stroke of a pen, a majority of "Aye"s and a clap of the gavel, a tax with a defined lifespan was converted into a tax for life. 

I was almost surprised that they pulled this off, since I thought that it was still legal in Texas to shoot politicians for what amounts to thievery.  However, checking the statues, apparently that was abolished.  I say almost surprised, since I had already read the Texas Legislature Operational Procedure, as explained by the esteemed Professor Lawdog, from a dissertation by Professor Tole

So, my question is this:  How is it that these people are allowed to operate like this and still somehow do not qualify to be prosecuted under the RICO statute?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Got my sample ballot...

Our sample ballots arrived Monday.  After reading through them the first time, I see only one item that will get a yes vote, one moving California Legislature term limits down to 12 years from 14 years.  Other than that, I see a lot of voting no and against the incumbent.  Unfortunately I live in a seriously Blue county, so my vote against Feinstein will be more or less spitting into the wind.  Still, not participating allows those who would rule over you to remove the right because nobody participates.  I have always felt that if you fail to participate in this process, you have no right to complain about the outcome.  So I continue to vote against people like Feinstein and Supervisor Ken Yeager (Mr Anti-Happy Meal Toy.  But wait...) despite not having a chance to change their re-election.  Yeager ran unopposed last time, which I think is a shame. 

I found this map to be really interesting, especially since the tantrums thrown by the OWS group claim to be representing the the many vs the few rich despots.  Note how much red is involved as opposed to the blue.  Note where all of the blue is located to see exactly how much of the country actually elected our president.  Obama lost most of the counties in the country, but won specific counties with high population counts.  Food for thought to those of you who live in those areas and don't vote.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Finally, time to break out the grill.

I finally broke out the grill this weekend, for what will hopefully be a full summer of grilling enjoyment. 

Several years ago my wife put aside the money to get be a new grill, since our current one was effectively dead.  It was picked up second had on Craigslist and had a good base to it.  It was a Brinkman stainless steel grill that had been used hard by it's previous owners.  While the exterior was in great shape, the interior was shot.  The burners were full of extra holes, the heat shields for the burners were mostly rust and baked in food remains, the grills had no coating other than rust and the control manifold heated up better than the cooking area.  Generally, it looked pretty on the outside, but the inside was held together by rust and habit.

After acquiring the grill and evaluating the parts list, we established that it would cost almost $200 to replace the parts, not counting shipping, and the parts are only available from Brinkman.  So we went down to Wal-Mart to see what was available for that cost and ended up with a Charbroil unit that cost about the same and had more features. The other grill went to a good home where it will be more useful as recycling.

While I could have broken the grill out earlier in the season (if not just kept it in use all winter) I waited until now because, well...  I can't think of a good reason, really.  While I don't grill in the rain, it isn't really a climate where you would pack up the backyard at first snowfall since we get no snow.  Still, for the last two years, come November I clean the grill.  I make it nice and shiny and then put the cover on for the winter, leaving it until April or May.  I don't know why but it seems the thing to do.

So yesterday we kicked the season off with Hebrew Nationals and hamburgers.  Not stunning, I'll admit, since last year it started with seasoned steak topped with chopped garlic and a tab of butter.  However, this year's inaugural meal was still good accompanied by some baked beans chips and iced tea.  Next weekend will be the steaks.  Or maybe a tri-tip...