Wednesday, June 30, 2010

You Know They Really Are Insane

I went looking through der Google for the origin of the aphorism

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing in the same way and expecting to get different results.

Well, I found it attributed to Benjamin Franklin, Alfred Einstein and even one attribution to Rita Mae Brown.

Regardless of who first said it, we are witnessing it in operation in Washington, DC right now. We are seeing it in the current dance around another extension of Unemployment benefits (after having it killed last week). We are seeing it in the calls for fiscal integrity and "balance the budget" and the President's Deficit Commission (aka Cat Food Commission).

In May 2010, the economy created 431K jobs but the vast majority of those jobs were temporary Census positions. Today there are reports that the private sector has added 13K jobs for June after adding only 41K of the 431K jobs added in May. Yet, the Senate (and House) just seem to want to dance their little dances. They have to be operating under the belief that to do nothing is to do something because it all works out some way or another in the end.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Today Is a Full Moon. Now What Explains the Crazy the Rest of the Time?

Today is a full moon (exact at 7:30AM EDT) and it is accompanied by a partial Lunar eclipse. Scientists and researchers tell us that there is no correlation between a full moon and people behaving in a crazy fashion. I'm willing to wager that if you ask cops, emergency personnel, ER staff, bar owners and so on they will agree that however statistically insignificant the raw number of bad acts on a full moon versus the rest of the time may be, that the level of bad acts during the full moon has just that much more of an edge of the nuckin' futz than during none full moon days and nights.

What the full moon can't explain though is the level of basic nuckin' futz we see happening every day with our supposed elected representatives, not only in DeeCee but all around the world.

I found this article over at MSNBC earlier this week and it may offer one "excuse." It seems to me that a lot of politicians are probably vain enough to use botox in an attempt to think they are stopping the aging process.

A well-known side effect of Botox is the inability to fully express emotions. Now research reveals another side effect: the inability to fully feel emotions.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Rand Paul: Not Quite Ready for Prime Time

So there I was, surfing around the news sites yesterday when I came across this little nugget at where Rand Paul "counsels" the unemployed to suck it up and take a minimum wage job rather than collect unemployment.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul on Friday urged Americans who have been unemployed for many months to consider returning to the workforce in less desirable jobs rather than continue relying on government unemployment assistance.

"In Europe, they give about a year of unemployment. We're up to two years now in America," Paul said on Sue Wylie's WVLK-AM 590 radio program.

Let's see now. A quick check shows that Kentucky's current Unemployment rate as of May 2010 is 10.4% (let the cursor linger over the individual states to get the rate for that state). That's the official rate and does not include those who are already underemployed. The current national rate is officially 9.7% for May 2010. Rand, that's not a good thing to be higher than the national average on this.

Let me present a scenario for you to mull over Rand. Let's say, you chose a career field that requires up to eight years of specialized training after completion of a bachelor's degree. Say something like Ophthalmology. And it requires even further training to remain certified within your chosen field.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Modest Proposal for BP Shareholders

I am here today to offer a modest proposal to the shareholders of British Petroleum.

I'm sure you are aware of the "performance" yesterday of your current Executive Director/CEO Tony Hayward, as he testified before Congress on BP's actions before and since the start of the Oil Gusher in the Gulf of Mexico now 59 days ago.

For the record, I did not watch his performance directly as I tend to avoid watching things that are pretty much guaranteed to make me want to throw a shoe through the telly. I did, however, follow along with the live-blogging at (here, here, and here.)

That being said, after following the live-blogging and reading news stories today such as this from the New York Times, I would like to present myself as a candidate for your new ED/CEO.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

As One of the "Small People," I Can Use a Job

Is it a pre-requisite for senior executives at BP to be so gaffe prone? First we have Tony Hayward and his foot chewing now followed by the linguistic stylings of Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg:

I hear comments sometimes that large oil companies are greedy companies or don’t care,” he said. “But that is not the case with BP. We care about the small people.

The apologists have been out in force, attempting to find ways to explain this as anything other than arrogance and a true reflection of Svanberg's (and BP's) feelings for those who are not them. The most common excuse I've seen is that it's purely due to language difficulties, since English is not Svanberg's native tongue.

I will grant that English is a difficult language to learn and master and I applaud all those people around the world who have elected to learn the language, exceptions included. They've mastered something I've spent my life trying to master while I've not been able to master my few attempts at learning another language (Spanish was the one I attempted and though my instructors were not the greatest, it's still my own damn fault for not learning.) I have a reasonable knowledge of grammar and a fairly good vocabulary and for the life of me, I can not really come up with a phrasing or way that Svanberg could have said this without insulting others. Rather like Leona Helmsley's "Only the little people pay taxes" quip.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Time Passes

Tomorrow, June 8, 2010, I will be 58 years old.

I have been un/underemployed for over six years now. I was totally unemployed for the first three years and have had a part-time, barely above minimum wage job these last almost three years that has been a godsend since it has allowed me to keep my brain fully engaged, earn a little money and be able to answer honestly if asked if I'm working (even if it isn't working within my actual career field.) This probably is not enough to satisfy those firms that have proclaimed "Unemployed Need Not Apply" but if asked, I can answer honestly, which is extremely important to me.

I sit here some days and I can feel the tension buzzing inside me. I take the deep breaths, trying to calm myself down but it's a fight every time. I truly do not recall the last, totally restful night of sleep I've had.

I'm one of the lucky ones.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Jobs Reports for 3 June 2010

Well, the Weekly Report of New Unemployment claims is out and it looks like there has been a drop for the second week in a row. Of course, when the new claims are still over 450K for the week, that isn't all that good since the four week average is still at 459K.

Surprisingly enough, the problems of folks in similar straits as myself, that is, long term un/underemployed is beginning to get a little visibility. Even when the TradMed would apparently prefer we pay more attention to shiny object stories like the separation of Al and Tipper Gore or the hunt for Joran Van Der Sloot.

At the moment, I think that the BP Oil Disaster and the Gaza Flotilla attack have overwhelmed even the TradMed's abilities to distract folks.

With all of the critical news stories happening, it is still a bit of a surprise that TradMed folks are actually reporting on the long term un/underemployeds. At the MSNBC web site, Allison Linn has had articles yesterday and today on the long term un/underemployed. Yesterday she covered the "99ers" (those who have exhausted 99 weeks of Unemployment Compensation.) For those who are mathematically impaired, a year is 52 weeks so 99 weeks of Unemployment payments is five weeks short of two years. And these folks have exhausted that level of benefits. (For the record, I collected 26 weeks of unemployment in 2004 into early 2005). Today Ms Linn covers "older workers," that is, those of us who have worked most of our adult life, who bought in to the myths that by working hard we could earn a living wage and be treated with respect only to discover that instead of being appreciated for our knowledge and experience, we are actually too expensive to keep around.