If money were water…

Money is by definition an abstract concept. We’re good imagining the amount in our wallets, or checking accounts, but when we get into the millions, or billions, and beyond, it gets difficult to conceptualize. To that end, consider this random exercise to equate money to water, just to help visualize things.

The human body needs about a quart a day to survive. That’s 91.25 gallons a year. Or to help visualize it, picture two 55-gallon barrels, per year. That’s how much water you need, just to survive.

The poverty rate is about $13,000 / year. If we accept that is the bare minimum to survive (and certainly one could argue it is not), then we could, for the sake of argument, draw a relationship between the minimum amount of water to survive and the minimum amount of money to survive.

So, if you are living at the poverty line, that is the water-based equivalent to having 2 barrels of water to live on for the year.

If you are making $75,000 a year, that’s equivalent to 531 gallons of water, or about 10 barrels of water to last the year. Huzzah, you can probably afford to bathe this year.

10 barrels of water is easy to visualize, but we’re going to talk about the super rich now, so we will need something bigger.

Tanker trucks? Bigger. Swimming pools? Even bigger. Great Lakes. Okay, that’s too big. Dial it back.

Let’s try something really big that most of us have seen, at least in pictures. The Amazon warehouse (or as they call them “fulfillment centers”).

A typical Amazon warehouse has about 800,000 square feet of space, and is about 36 feet high. That’s nearly 30 million cubic feet of space. If filled with water (if it could be filled with water), it would hold 215 million gallons, or about 4 million 55-gallon barrels. Keep that in mind 4 million barrels.

As of today, there are eight people on the planet with a net worth of over $100 billion. If you are one of these individuals, that means you have, in our imaginary water-based economy, the equivalent of 12 million barrels of water. That’s enough to fill at least 3 Amazon warehouses. Elon Musk alone would fill 8 Amazon warehouses. (If you’re wondering, Jeff Bezos could only fill 6 of his warehouses, sorry Jeff.) In fact, the eight hectobillionaires combined would fill over 40 Amazon warehouses. That’s almost one fourth of all the Amazon warehouses on the planet.

Et Tu, Pepe…

Let’s talk about the Republican party and their new obsession with “cancel culture” for a minute. Ever since I can remember, the Republican party claimed to support businesses and business owners, as the engine that drives prosperity. They favored minimal regulation, and in many cases deregulation, arguing that market forces would produce the most effective outcomes. In other words, there was no need for government to tell businesses what to do, they would do what market demanded, or they would not survive.

Additionally, since the 1980’s, the Republican party has also claimed to be the party of “family values.” Unfortunately that often translated into “no gays”, but the were ostensibly the party that supported and protected families, and in particular children.

So one has to wonder, when a business that produces entertainment for children, for example a Warner Bros. or a Dr. Seuss Enterprises or a Hasbro, decides that the market is telling them that some of their product no longer aligns with the values parents want to expose their children to, and said companies decide to remove or revise their product to more closely align with the values of their market, a market targeted specifically towards children, one has to wonder why Republicans are upset.

Clearly they’re not upset that businesses are responding to market forces rather than government “interference.” They can’t be upset that businesses are aligning their values to benefit children.

As far as the “taking away their childhood” argument, aside from the Bible’s advice to “put away childish things”, I would point out nothing is gone. He may be less accessible to children, but Pepe le Pew is still out there, available for adults to stream in all his inappropriate touchiness glory. Those six Seuss books will be available in used book stores and on eBay for generations to come. (Let’s be honest, they were not exactly best sellers to begin with.) And if you want to assign traditional gender roles to your potato, well, you know, have at it. No one will stop you.

Here’s what they are really upset about. They don’t see anything wrong with unwelcome advances and uninvited touching directed towards women, and by telling them Pepe is not a good role model for children, we are taking away their “right” to treat women this way.

They don’t see anything wrong with laughing at grossly stereotypical Asian or aboriginal caricatures, and by telling them we don’t want children to make fun of others based on their race, we are taking away their “right” to make fun of others.

They want men to be real men, and women to be real women, and potatoes to… well, be real man-potatoes or real woman-potatoes, and by telling them children should be free to define themselves in their own terms without society telling them what little boys and little girls are supposed to play with, we are somehow taking away their “right” to be manly.

And they will argue that our generation grew up with Pepe le Pew and Asian stereotypes and clearly heteronormative Mr. Potato Head, and we turned out just fine. To that I would reply, yes, we turned out okay, but you know who else grew up watching Pepe le Pew? Harvey Weinstein grew up watching Pepe le Pew. Jeffrey Epstein, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K. all grew up, like us, watching Pepe le Pew. And the list goes on.

Maybe you don’t want to use your experience to speak for an entire generation. Maybe you, like me, had parents that went to great lengths to explain you do not treat women like you see Pepe le Pew do, any more than you learn gun safety from Elmer Fudd. Maybe today’s parents don’t want to have to explain why a cartoon skunk is allowed to get away with inappropriate behavior.

So, to Republicans, I would say this. Calm down. The market is working exactly the way it is supposed to. And really, you’re not losing anything. If you want to spend your evenings watching an over-sexed cartoon skunk groping a hapless black cat, have at it. If you enjoy outdated Asian stereotypes, please, read away, or better yet, check out “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, you’ll love the Mickey Rooney character. And if you insist that your potatoes have a penis. Well, unlike you guys, we’re not judging.

Winning and Losing

I’m old. Let’s start with that. How old am I? I am the-triumph-of-victory-and-the-agony-of-defeat years old. Specifically, I am I-remember-when-being-a-sore-loser-was-considered-a-serious-character-flaw years old.

Yes, when I was young, people who could not accept defeat without whining, or could not accept victory without taunting, were considered morally lacking.

I knew there was going to be a problem when I realized they no longer kept score in children’s sports, I just had no idea exactly what or how big the problem would become.

Without keeping score, there’s no way to know who won and who lost. Without knowing who won and who lost, there’s no way to learn how to lose, or to win, graciously, and with dignity and respect for their competitors, and for the competition itself.

This “everybody’s a winner” mentality sounds great on paper, but it’s not reality. In reality, when there is a contest, somebody wins, and somebody loses.

But today we have a whole generation of participation trophy winners who think everyone is being unfair to them because their candidate lost. They think we should throw out the score, ignore reality, make up any excuse they can, and declare their guy the winner, because… Waah! we just want it SO bad! Waah! he CHEATED! Waah! it’s just NOT FAIR! Waah! I hate you, I hate you, I hate you!

No one ever taught them the lesson that, when you lose, and you WILL lose (everyone loses sometime), you accept it, stop arguing with the umpire, go congratulate the winner, examine what went wrong, and dedicate yourself to doing better next time.

We desperately need to bring back scorekeeping to children’s sports. And now. No less than the future of our republic depends on it

The United States of Capitalism

I was recently reading one of the right-wing pundits talking about the evils of socialism as presented by AOC, Sanders, et al, and according to him anyway the entire Democratic party.

However the socialism he described was not the universal healthcare, affordable education, or other progressive talking points I’m used to hearing. It was the full blown marxist-leninist socialism and collectivist communism of the Soviet Union, communist China, North Korea, Cuba, etc. etc.

As an example of the superiority of capitalism over socialism, he cites specifically East Germany vs West Germany, and North Korea vs South Korea. He further sites both India and China and their move away from a (marxist) socialist economy to a more capitalist economy. In these cases he points out how the people are economically more successful, taller, healthier, happier etc. under capitalism.

And I agree with him. Soviet style socialism is bad, m’kay. Collectivist communism is objectivly a failure, it has not been economically successful anywhere. Ever. And given that this style of economic model tends to be coupled with authoritarian or dictatorial political leadership, it is a thing that should be avoided at all costs. I think most of us can agree on this.

So, therefore… I am fully willing to adopt a West German / South Korean style of capitalism. I should add, Germany has had socialized medicine since… wait for it… 1883. South Korea took a little longer, they did not decide universal health coverage was a good idea until… 1976.
Of course, India and China are late to the game, having more recently emerged from the darkness of a socialist economy into the bright light of capitalism. They didn’t get universal healthcare until 2014 and 2011 respectively. Better late than never.

So while I have yet to hear any progressive Democrat anywhere arguing for centralized planning, government control of the means of production, or the proletariat overthrow of the bourgeoisie, I do agree with the AOC/Bernie crowd, in that we should adopt West German / South Korean style capitalism, including it’s universal healthcare, post haste.

And seeing as how Germany and Korea successfully adopted universal healthcare, and in doing so neither became the next Venezuela. Seeing as neither saw the collapse of their representative form of government and somehow managed to continue on as democracies, I think it’s safe for us, having a long history and tradition of representative democracy, to proceed. That is, as long we avoid coupling this with a leader having authoritarian tendencies.

On second thought, maybe we should wait just a bit, and not try this under the current president…

The Best a Multi-National Corporation Can Get…

(…for their advertising dollar)

I’m beginning to think some of you people don’t understand how advertising works.
Gillette created a two minute commercial that suggested perhaps men shouldn’t be dicks. Some people love it, applauding the effort of men encouraging men to be better. But others are bent by it, seeing it as insulting, condescending or even emasculating, part of some kind of continuing “war on men”.
Both views completely miss the point of this ad. This purpose of this ad wasn’t to help men be better men. It wasn’t about addressing toxic masculinity. It wasn’t made to “raise awareness”, or “open a dialog”. Some of those things may happen as a result, but they are side effects.
The only purpose of an ad like this is to get as many people talking about Gillette as possible, while spending as little money as possible to do it. That’s it. Nothing more. If you sell an cheap commodity product, one that is virtually indistinguishable from your competitor’s product, the only thing that matters is brand recognition. You want people equating your name with your product. Exclusively if possible. That’s what this ad was designed to do, get as many people as possible to mention Gillette by name. Brand recognition.
That has always been Gillette’s strategy. And if you don’t think it works. Try this: name two other brands of razor blades. Are you sure about that second one? Okay, name a third.
And it worked brilliantly. I’m guessing many of you have heard something about the controversy, but haven’t seen the ad. And I’m guessing those of you who have seen the ad are like me, and only watched to see what the fuss was all about. But the beauty of it is, it doesn’t matter if you’ve seen it or not, or if you even know what it’s about or not, the end result is you’re talking about it, and mentioning Gillette by name while doing so. Mission accomplished.
And by the way, they spent zero money airing this ad. To date is they have bought no air time for it on TV, or as a paid ad on websites. It was uploaded to YouTube. That’s it. They parked it on YouTube and let the “influencers” have at it. And they did. And now literally everyone on social media is talking about it. And it cost Gillette next to nothing to produce and literally nothing to air. Like I said, mission accomplished.
Of course, using controversy to generate publicity is nothing new, but doing it with a controversy that’s widely viewed as positive rather than negative, that’s something of a holy grail in advertising. And from that standpoint, Gillette nailed it as well.
They generated a huge amount of free publicity, for very little money, and got to look like the good guys while doing it. Folks, this is the stuff of advertising legend. Somewhere the ghost of Don Draper just popped a boner so hard it cracked open his coffin.

Introducing: A New Service for Modern America

Has this happened to you?

Minding your own business, waiting in Starbucks for your friend to arrive, and they call the police to come and arrest you?

Playing basketball, in the gym, where you’re a member in good standing, and the management asks you to leave, then calls the cops?

Playing golf with your girlfriends, and the golf course calls the cops because you’re playing too slowly?

A restaurant manager asks you to leave, because he doesn’t like you, and wants to give your table to someone else?

You check out of your AirBnB, and the neighbor lady sees you packing your car and calls the cops?

You’re touring a university, and someone’s mom gets nervous and calls the cops, all because you seem too quiet?

Believe it or not, all of these things really happened, and they all have one thing in common.  That one thing?  The persons they happened too were not white.  Ah, that explains it, you say.  These things would never happen to white folks.

You’re right, and that fact is exactly why I am proud to announce my new service:  Rent-A-White-Guy™.

If you’re a person of color, Rent-A-White-Guy™, for a nominal fee, will provide you with a white guy to accompany you on your next outing, event, or excursion.  Why risk a hassle with the police or unfriendly locals, when it can all be avoided with a simple “Don’t worry, they’re with me” from one of our friendly respectable white guys.

Our white guys are all sensitivity trained and culturally certified, and come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes to suit your needs.  Rent by the hour or by the day.  Volume discounts are available.  Call today for a free quote.

And remember:  A White Guy:  Don’t leave home without him.


Another day, another school shooting.

I’ve given up on this.

If Sandy Hook doesn’t change things, I can’t imagine what will. It’s like we as a society have decided that children’s lives don’t matter. I mean, how dare we put the life of a child above our god given second amendment right for any lunatic to own a ridiculous cache of high power semi-automatic rifles, without any sort of training, licensing or certification.

We live in a country where operating any sort of equipment or machinery that could possibly kill someone requires a minimum level of training and certification, except for the one piece of equipment that was explicitly designed to kill.

Eh, maybe when they start shooting up the private schools the Senators and Congressmen send their kids to, or the elite boarding schools their high dollar contributors ship their kids off to, then something will change. As long as it’s poor people’s kids and middle class kids being killed, nothing will change.

Personally I’m looking to invest in the first company I find that makes Kevlar in children’s sizes…

Once Upon a Time…

Gather around, boys and girls, let me tell you a story about what life was like back in the “Before Time”.

The year was 1990.  The Internet wasn’t a thing yet, but CompuServe was, and Sears had just launched Prodigy.  (Yes, Sears. Believe it or not, Sears was the Amazon of their day.)  We were only two years removed from Reagan, Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump were still on their second wives, the Berlin Wall had just fallen, and grunge didn’t exist yet.  In short, it was a great time to be alive.

Back in those days, yours truly lived in a wonderful land called Texas, and Texas was in the midst of electing itself a new governor.  See if this sounds familiar:  The Republicans nominated an colorful, brash, outspoken, businessman, one with zero experience in government, while the Democrats nominated, wait for it, *gasp*, a woman, one who had made her career in politics.

Texas, then as now, was solidly a red state, and Texans do love their colorful brash outspoken businessman types (see Perot, H. Ross), so conventional wisdom was that the Republican nominee, Clayton Williams, was a sure thing, a done deal.  Never mind for a second that the Democratic candidate, Ann Richards, might be more qualified for office.

Then one day the tides turned.  Our boy Clayton made a joke about rape.  And that joke, somewhat mild by today’s standards, changed the trajectory of the entire campaign.

Now, let me stop right here a moment , and be clear about a few things.

At no time was Clayton Williams ever accused of any sexual misconduct.  There is no indication he ever grabbed anyone by their… anything.  There were no accusers from his past. No women came forward with complaints.  No shopping malls banned him from their Sears.  And, as far as we know, no actresses, comediennes , or potted plants were masturbated in front of.

What he did do was this:  Inclement weather was delaying a campaign event, and Williams compared it to rape, saying “if it’s inevitable, just relax and enjoy it.”

I should also point out, nothing he said suggested that he advocated or condoned sexual assault in any way.  Nothing he said implied that one could get away with sexual assault if one was famous or took someone furniture shopping.

Further, there was no question that it was a joke.  Although in bad taste, everyone knew it was as a joke.  Everyone sort of knew he was a bully and an idiot, and perhaps he didn’t take rape as seriously as he should, but no one, then or now, has referred to him as a sexual predator.

Yet overnight, what had been a huge lead in the polls dwindled away.  His supporters turned away from him in droves.  In the end Ann Richards was elected the first women governor of Texas.  (With an asterisk, there was another before her, but that is a whole other story.)


Well, boys and girls, back in those days the people of Texas, including the Republicans of Texas, decided that character matters.  They were unwilling to sacrifice their principles or their values just for the sake of party loyalty.  They were unwilling to overlook a serious character flaw just to keep the other side from power. Principles mattered. Values mattered. I know it’s hard to understand today, but it was a different time back then.

And thus a Democrat, a woman, became the governor of the reddest of the red states.  And guess what?  Texas survived.  Texas remained Texas.  There were no riots in the streets, no gun confiscations, no rampant waves of abortions, no sharia law, and the whole state didn’t turn gay overnight.  None of the fear-mongering we know today came to pass.  Texas remained steadfastly Texas.

What did happen was, the people of Texas came together and rejected someone they found to be unfit of character, and instead elected someone they might not agree with, but at least someone they could respect.


That all seems like such a very very long time ago now.


The Opposition

The Republican Party is imploding.  Ana Navarro, one of my favorite Republicans, tweeted the other day, concerning the exodus of conservative Senators Bob Flake and Jeff Corker…

Will last sane Republican left, pls take Reagan’s portrait & turn-off the lights?

CNN recently published Say goodbye to your Republican Party, an opinion piece by Kurt Bardella, also about this exodus, and specifically Steve Bannon’s role in it, summarizing…

And now the Republican Party as we knew it is gone. It is a thing of the past. There is no going back. The silence of the majority has eroded the moral fabric of the Republican Party.

And just to bring the point home for me, a very dear friend of mine had this to say, and I literally could not agree more…

I understand political compromise to get the closest one can get to a representative of one’s wishes, but I’m not willing to compromise on basic integrity, honesty, truth, and decency.

The Republican Party, if not imploding, is definitely changing. And not for the better.

I had hoped that one of the bright points of the current presidency might be a reckoning within the GOP.  That when forced to take sides, enough of them would chose what was right over what was expedient.  A few have, but many have not.

I’m losing hope that the few remaining Republicans with principles have any hope of retaking control of their party. From the recent resignations, it appears they are too.

I also hoped this might lead to a party split, and/or the formation of a new conservative party, one for REAL conservatives. But I fear that’s not happening either.

It seems the people who call themselves “conservatives” (quotes intentional) are perfectly fine with a party and leadership devoid of integrity, honesty, truth, and decency. They seem perfectly happy with the abandonment of facts, knowledge, rationality, expertise, and science. They are quite comfortable with dismantling any and all aspects of the First Amendment, just so long as you don’t do anything even tangentially related to the Second Amendment.

None of this I can abide.

And that’s not even starting in on the “nationalism” dog whistling that targets anyone who isn’t a straight white Christian male citizen. And while not all “conservatives” are giddily embracing this new bigotry, many are.  But more importantly, the ones not welcoming this are remaining silent, or willfully ignorant, of its existence.  For me, this silent complicity is just as bad as active participation.

This I cannot abide either.

I’m at the point where I’m ready to do the unthinkable, and join the opposition, even if only as a temporary, “enemy of my enemy” sort of thing. Truth is, I already have, I just haven’t announced it publicly yet. I wasn’t quite sure how I would explain it. Well… I guess I just did.


As long as men like Donald Trump are in power, as long as men like Steve Bannon shape policy, as long as men like Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan stand by and do nothing, and as long as true conservatives no longer feel welcome in the “conservative” party, I will do anything and everything I can to support the opposition.

So I did.  I joined the opposition.

When I renewed my driver’s license a few weeks ago, under the section for updating my voter registration, for the first time ever, I checked the box next to the Florida Democratic Party.

I hope this is temporary.  I very much would like to go back to my previous “No Party Affiliation”.  Or even join a viable third party that might rise from the ashes of the current GOP.  But for now, anyway, I am a Democrat.

God that feels weird.

But the world became a much weirder place on June 16, 2015, and even more so on November 8, 2016. And it hasn’t gotten any less weirder yet.

Because here’s the thing.  Sometimes you can’t stay in the middle, sometimes you have to pick a side.  Sometimes you have to stand up and be counted.  Sometimes the not making a choice is making a choice.  Like RUSH said…

You can choose a ready guide
In some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide
You still have made a choice
You can choose from phantom fears
And kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that’s clear
I will choose free will.

Okay, so that doesn’t fit the situation exactly, but you get the idea.

You Can’t Trust the Media

You’ve heard this before, probably a lot lately.  Fake News!

Trump supporters have a whole toolkit full of excuses for their president’s behavior, from “he speaks his mind” to “he’s still new to the job”, but one of the popular excuses I’m hearing lately is a little troubling, and it goes something like this…

Oh, that’s just the media, you can’t trust them, you can’t believe anything they say.

Okay, let’s stop and look at this for just a moment, I promise this will be brief.

Is the media a profit-based enterprise driven by an agenda that has nothing to do with the truth?  Yes.

Does the media use sensationalism, hype, and exaggeration to attract viewers/readers/eyeballs?  Yes.

Does the media frequently present things in a way that makes whatever it is look worse than it really is?  Yes.

A big fat outstanding “YES” to all of the above, and more.  But…

There is one thing the media uses, a tool of the trade, if you will, that they cannot alter for their own benefit, even though they may try.


Facts have a lives of their own, outside of the media, they can be corroborated and verified independent of the entities reporting them.  A fact is either true or it isn’t (which is to say it is not a fact), and because we have the entire sum of human knowledge available at our fingertips, this can usually be determined quickly and easily.  Hell most of them are on videotape.

It doesn’t matter what spin a reporting organization puts on it, it doesn’t matter how far left or right they lean, at the core of what they are reporting are facts.  Or made up bullshit.  And guess what, it doesn’t take long to figure out which organizations deal in facts (no matter how honestly or dishonestly), and which organizations have no interest in actual facts, choosing instead to make up their own “alternatives”, for readers/viewers who also have no interest in actual facts.

So, no matter what the story is, look past the sensationalism, look past the bias, look past the hyperbole, look past all the other media circus nonsense, and pull out those little nuggets of facts buried there at the bottom.  Use multiple sources, covering the entire spectrum, from left to right, and eventually you will see that, although the spin may be diametrically opposed, those core facts are still there, unchanged.  Living a life of their own.

The part you cannot trust is the analysis of those facts.  You can’t trust the spin.  You can’t trust the sensationalism.  You can’t trust the editorializing.   But… facts is facts.  You can trust facts.  The one thing legitimate media does reasonably well is vet their facts.  Partly because it’s far too easy to disprove false facts these days, partly because they suffer a huge loss in reputation when they get the facts wrong.

So…  You can’t trust what the media says about President Trump?  Damn right you can’t.  But that’s not the end of the story.  Know this… What the facts say about President Trump – that’s reality.  And no amount of tinfoil lining in that red baseball cap will change the facts.