Thursday, October 25, 2007

For 20 years I got my hair cut every three weeks...

...on LaSalle street, ending up w/ $22 a visit. So a few years ago I found a place at Montrose and Kimball where it's five dollars.

I sure didn't expect them to throw in the beard for nothing (as Mike LaSalle did,) since there is more hair to cut in my beard than on my head, so I was OK w/ $10 for the whole job when I went first on August 3. 2005. I also had them do it w/ a "number one clipper", which is pretty spectacular for the first few days, but soon enough starts looking as normal as it ever could.

Three months later I went back, and this time really didn't need anything on the head cut off, just the beard. They responded by charging me only $3. I argued vociferously - well, not really vociferously, and not even at all - just a very small interior smile.

Ever since then I've alternated $8, $3, every three months. That's been OK, but lately they've given me a little argument, trying to get back to the $10, but each time I've explained it was their idea, and they have grudgingly backed off to the $8.

But then it got to the point I was hating going there, because I just don't like arguments, even when I win.Yesterday I got the whole job, gave the barberette one dollar, and headed to the checkout, teeth gritted, and a five and three singles gripped in my hand. I couldn't read the ticket the girl gave me, but just thot it must be $10. The checkout guy was on the fone, but made eye contact, and I asked "how much?" Answer, turning head slightly to indicate it was for me, not fone: "Seven."

Sometimes I just have trouble understanding human beings.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Two more reasons why I never miss James Taranto... his The Best of the Web Today column at (m-f);

Monday, October 22, 2007, responding to a NYTimes editorial statement on the election of Bobby Jindal as governor of Louisisna:

"Has there ever been a society that did not practice 'the singling out of groups of people for abuse'? And has there ever been a society that put more effort into overcoming this tendency than America?"

At the end of the same column: 'Stereotype Gymnastics': :

"This correction appeared in yesterday's New York Times:

"An article last Sunday about the fashion industry's reticence to use black models referred incorrectly to a black woman in a maid's outfit pictured in the September issue of Italian Vogue. She was, in fact, a maid at the hotel where the pictures were taken, and was included, the Vogue photographer said, because of her attractiveness and her ability to underscore the pictures' theme of a stereotypical rich white woman who hires ethnic servants; the black woman was not a model dressed as a maid.

"So the Times assumed that the photographer was using a black model to stereotype blacks as maids when in fact he was using a black maid to stereotype whites as the employers of black maids.

"How insensitive!"

Thursday, October 18, 2007


...State Children's health insurance program.

Could someone show me where in the US Constitution it says the Federal government has any business paying for any citizen's health insurance? Sure, we do it for veterans, but they did something for us - they directly protected the government, or were ready to, at least.

I am not interested in 'promote the general' from the preamble, or 'provide...for the general welfare' of Article on, section 8 - if the founders meant for these two statements to justify anything anyone wanted, why have a constitution?

The reason this sort of thing has grown so common is a result of the withholding of federal taxes by employers from 'taxpayers.' Ninety-three per cent of people making money in the US are wage earners. I don't think any of them has been required to actually sit down and write a check to the feds for their federal income tax. Sure, at the end of the year, if enough has not been withheld by their employer, they must cough up the diff, but if this 'diff' gets too big, the feds have ways to make you pay it throughout the year.

So this means it's the employers who are actually paying the tax, as a function of the size of the check he gives to the employee every two weeks to deposit in, and spend from, his own bank account.

In the end, the employee has no feel at all for the vast amounts of bucks flowing into the US Treasury every day, and no interest to see where it is being spent. The employer does feel it, but he can pass it on to his customers in higher prices. So these big big bucks the the public is more than happy to find a reason for getting some, is being sucked, near painlessly, from 'the soft underbelly' of the US economy, with no one taking any direct responsibility of where it is being spent.

Withholding may be convenient, but it also robs us of our responsibility of watching to see that it is spent under the rules of the Constitution. You go back to the old way, make the feds work for that money by collecting it directly from each individual taxpayer, and soon enough those taxpayers will start voting for people who follow the Constitution.

Then, if the public really thinks federal management of health costs is the most efficient way to keep us healthy, propose an amendment saying so, pass it by 2/3 vote of both houses, and get it approved by 3/4 of the state legislatures, the old-fashioned way.


At the far opposite end of talk of the US Constitution I think the most clear thot on the US Constitution in the fewest words was by James Taranto in his Tuesday, October 4, 2005 Best of the Web column (

"This column is moderately pro-abortion, but ... we are also pro-democracy, and Roe v. Wade is a constitutional and political monstrosity that should be overturned yesterday...."


The past ten days I've had a few occasions to take the Foster Ave bus here in Chicago west to California Avenue. Three blocks short of there is the intersection of Lincoln Avenue, and on the southwest corner is a big drug store. Maybe 35 years ago there was a row of two flats facing facing Foster, I learned in Finland, of all places.

I've been in Finland a half dozen times, mostly in the '80s. Once I went to breakfast in a hotel I was staying at in Helsinki and sat at a table for maybe eight. Pretty soon a party of four sat down w/ me, and started talking. One was a Finnish woman, speaking pretty good English, a friend of the couple, parents of the fourth, a baby. Well the couple sure spoke good English - he was from Naperville, and his wife grew up in one of those two flats, and was really ticked that they had been torn down for an Osco!

All four lived in Finland now, but were on their way for a week in Sweden. The Finish woman was going with them to Sweden to improve her Swedish (She said something like "Every Finn should know how to speak good Swedish," a thot I did not find common in Finland.) The husband of the couple had some high-powered engineering job or something in Finland, but they wanted to do a little sightseeing. The Finnish lady said of the Naperville guy: "He speaks the best Finnish I've ever heard by anyone (including any of her Finnish fellow citizens.)" I guess besides being a good engineer, he was pretty good at languages, too.


Just about my favorite movie line of all time is Fast Eddie Felson, explaining the most important rule of pool, in 12 words, in response to Minnesota Fats' request, (interrupting Fast Eddie's long lecture on life) to "[stop talkin' and] Shoot pool, fast Eddie"): "I'm shootin' pool, Fats - when I miss, you git ta shoot pool!"

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

My first goal in re-inventing the USA...

... as listed in my first post, is to repeal the 17th amendment, the one changing senators elected by their state legislatures to being elected directly by the people. So what can be wrong with that?

It was ratified April 8, 1913, meaning that senators elected after 1918 had all been elected directly. What was the most significant change in Senate management after that? According to the World Almanac, in 1920 we got the first Senate party leaders, Dem Oscar Underwood of Alabama for the minority in 1920 and Repub Charles Curtiss of Kansas for the majority in 1925, followed by, among others, LBJ, Bob ("I never met a tax I didn't like") Dole, Tom Daschle, and ...Harry Reid! I rest my case.

The point being that the founders wanted the state governments to have a direct say in the national government, and that these reps not be pandering to the fickle general electorate - no more than House reps with more expensive suits, and three times longer terms - that much harder to replace when they screw up.

A glaring example of this is Snarlin' Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. In 1987, when he had no reelection to worry his ugly little head for 5 years, he voted against Bob Bork for the USSC, but in 1991, only a year away from facing the voters again, he was just fine w/ Clarence Thomas. Of course, all of this is way over the heads of all of you out there who believe the USSC should be giving the people what they "need" instead of seeing to it that the US Constitution is followed.

Another positive result of eliminating the 17th, with the senators representing the state governments instead of the rabble, a lot of other problems would be easier to solve (withholding taxes, Roe v. Wade, the runaway courts, that sort of thing.)


My home town of South Haven, MI (just a beautiful place BTW) is on the east shore of Lake Michigan, but the west end of Van Buren County, the county seat of which, Paw Paw MI, is at the other end of (diagram that!) Around 1900, South Haven had grown a lot, was a major lake port (even had a street named Paw Paw), while Paw Paw, was still stuck out in the middle of nowhere, but still the county seat.

So the people of South Haven decided to fix that, and had a proposition to move the County Government to South Haven from that other place put on the ballot. This prop promptly lost (I don't think even close.)

So how did the South Havenites respond? Remember that Paw Paw Street? Well. it's not Paw Paw street anymore, for sure. Not only that, but it's now named for some obscure southern state, Indiana, or something.

A few years ago I had occasion to go to Paw Paw to look up some family records. I remarked to the clerk about their beautifully restored 1890s court house, comparing it to the new brick barn neighboring Allegan County (where I still had my parents' house) built to replace their beautiful 1890s court house. She thanked me w/ a smile, then I told her about the county seat change proposal, and resulting street name change. Clerk: "That sounds just like South Haven!"

You really had to be there ( and from there, I guess.)


After being in the work force for 60 years, mostly as an employee, but some hiring, too, it occurred to me one day that you should never work for anyone you wouldn't hire, and never hire anyone you wouldn't work for.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Take Puerto Rico...

...Henny Youngman drum roll - "Please!" My brite idea of the day:

They were all made citizens in 1917, we should make them the 51st state. But, we can't have a spanish-speaking state. So we make an offer they cannot refuse. In ten years, if they make English their official state language (all government functions in English) they become a state. If not, we give them to... Cuba! They will be jabbering like Hoosiers in a week.

Note, as the days turn into weeks, then months, w/o another brite idea from me, I will try to update that qualification approproately.

Pleasant thots...

...Have you ever tried to pin down the first conscious thots of your whole life?
I have always had an interest in this, maybe because I have a major rememberable happening when I was 4 years and 11 months old: We moved from 87th and Sangamon in Chicago, to South Haven MI. And I can remember plenty
of stuff before we moved to MI.

Maybe the earliest was a party of some kind, at the home of my mother's brother and his family. They moved into the flat above us and 87th in the spring of 1937, but before that lived on Wallace street, a few blocks away.

It was dark out, so makes me think it was wintertime, and my aunt Grace's birthday was February 28, and she seemed to be the star attraction. She was playing the piano, and I stood next to the piano bench watching. Pretty soon she looked down and asked: "Do you want to sit up here w/ me, Arnie?" I'm sure my little head was bobbing up and down like crazy, so she stopped playing long enough to reach down, pick me up, and sit me down right next to her, and went back to playing.

Later in the same scene my mother introduced me to my cousin Larry, 15 month younger than me, sitting on the floor w/ a big smile on his face. I'm sure I had met him before, but at that age I guess you need a little reminding once in a while. And since he must have been 18 months old at the time, where else would he be sitting but on the floor? He was about the best friend ever had, became a Chicago Policeman, died 20 years ago of a heart attack on his way to his job as Sis Daley's body guard (aka go-fer.) I'm pretty sure he didn't die w/ a smile on his face, but I'm even more sure he had one five minutes before.

As best I can determine, working w/ bits and pieces (there are only two other people still alive, my older sister and cousin) that must have been Sunday, February 28, 1937, when I was 2 years, 9 months old.

Not so pleasant thots...

A 640 word article 'Senators Hesitant to Use Torture, Even to Find al Qaeda Bomb' at Friday, October 05, 2007 contains two statement by US Senators which make me wonder: Who dresses these people in the
morning - they sound too stupid to do it unaided:

"Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said that compromising on torture would be 'to the detriment ... to the safety and security of our troops.'"

Apparently littledick (what Mark Levin on the radio calls him) thinks if we refuse to torture, when our soldiers are captured by terrorists they will not torture them because "The US says they don't." No, Dicky, they'll just cut off their heads - no torture there."

But then Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) supposedly a big time conservative Repub, goes Dicky one better: She suggested she might be open to a technique "that is not harmful to the person's health."

No comment.

But the all time dumbest statement was by a CNN news anchorette, Carol Lin 2200 ET Sunday nite, November 6, 2005, at the height of the Paris immigrant riots:

CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN SUNDAY NIGHT. Terror in the middle of the night....

Meanwhile, overseas, France is engulfed in an 11th straight night of riots with no end in sight....

Carol LIN: ...[I]t's been 11 days since two African- American teenagers were killed, electrocuted during a police chase, which prompted all of this.....

The original is about a dozen scrolls down at this site (or do a find on this page France):

PS Found this on

PPS For all you folks in the sales dodge out there, remember: People buy from you for their reasons, not yours.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Beach News...

...Monday, 8am, October 15, 2007:

Walked a block to the Dominick's Super, got a poppy seed french roll and coffee, free Chicago Tribune (The RedEye, just as good, but free) walked another block to the beach. Beautiful day, high 50s, little wind, mostly sun.) Only a few passers-by. Finally, a young blackish looking woman comes by (reminds me of when I was a little kid and asked my mother: "Were you ever pretty?" Mom: "I was young once, sonny.") She made no eye contact, but young women at the beach at 8am don't make much eye contact w/ bearded, 73-year-old men, from my experience. She had on a sort of hoodie, dark blue w/ the letters GVSU in light blue on the front. I first thot 'George Mason University (home of Walter Williams - hard to decide which he has more of: brilliance or humor). No, that don't work. Georgia? Couldn't think of the V preceeding State University. Well, forget it.

20 min later she comes back, going in the other direction. All of a sudden, me: "Is that Grand Valley?" She turns around, big smile: "How do you know about that?" Me: "I grew up in South Haven." Well, she knew all about South Haven, too - probably had lots of fellow students from there.

Then I told her about my cousin Julie Very-Dutch-Last-Name from Battle Creek MI, who's doing quite well in pre-med at GVSU (in Grand Rapids, MI BTW.) She said she knew Stacey, but not Julie. We both agreed there were quite a few Very-Dutch-Last-Names at GVSU (20 mi from Holland MI.)

So she turns and heads up the beach, one last turn around and smile, comment: "That's such a nice area up there." Amen, Miss.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

My plans for the USA

1) Repeal the 17th amendment (to make it easier to implement the rest of these plans)

2) No poll tax and no property requirement, certainly, but make each tax payer responsible for paying his taxes directly (no check off)

3) Settle the Pledge of Allegiance argument once and for all.

4) Make an honest program out of Social Security

5) Solve the gerrymandering of House districts

6) No fed taxes for DC residents, but no votem and no rep either (obviously, local taxes to remove their own trash, etc.)