Saturday, August 30, 2008

That Kind of Week

My dad tells a story of a problem he had with his bank while stationed in Germany…

Withdrawing money from a second- or third-party check over a certain amount would require a waiting period for the check first clear. One payday, my dad had need of an amount larger than that set limit but that should not have been a problem because he already had the money he needed to withdraw in his account, paycheck notwithstanding.

When it was his turn with the teller, he gave her the check, deposit slip, and withdrawal slip. She explained that he was withdrawing too much and would have to wait until his check cleared.

He then said that he had the money for the withdrawal and to please proceed with the transaction.

This puzzled the woman who repeated her last.

He explained that he already had the money in the account and would like to withdraw it, in addition to making a deposit.

She then explained that for him to withdraw the amount of money he was asking, he would have to wait until the check cleared. Instead, he could withdraw that certain amount that was less than what he needed.

This could not be considered a “lost in translation” moment because my dad spoke German fluently. The line that had formed behind him – mostly Germans – also understood what he was doing. That did not stop them from being annoyed with him, of course. He is an American.

He then told her that the amount he was withdrawing from his account was already in his account and from credits to it that had already cleared and please process the damn transaction.

Exasperated and on her way to Being In Tears, she says she cannot and that he would have to wait and would he please either leave or accept the smaller amount.

I do not remember how the story ended but if I recall, he just deposited his check and left.

I try not to let the small things get to me but this last week has really felt like that encounter.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Win-Win Situation

I hear that Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson is on the short list of Senator John McCain’s vice-president nominees.

If she is nominated and if she accepts, she should relinquish her post in the Senate. Senator McCain should also relinquish his post in the Senate once he officially receives the Republican Party nomination. Senator Obama should also relinquish his post in the Senate once he officially receives the Democrat Party nomination. Senator Biden… Is anyone else sensing a pattern here?

When a politician is running for an office other than the one he currently holds, and is that office is not due for reelection, he should resign his post. This is something that Democrats never do. Republicans are nearly as bad.

The last election that I can remember a sitting senator resigning his post to campaign for another office was Senator Bob Dole. That did not work very well for him so I can only hope – another one of my audacious hopes – that the current crop of senators will relinquish their seats to be appointed by their respective states governors.

This would really be great. Even if the Arizona governor is a Democrat, it would mean that Texas could be rid of Senator Hutchinson. I have no ill will toward my senior senator but if I were writing a campaign slogan for her it would be,

“Kay Bailey Hutchinson: Too liberal for Texas but just about right for most of America.”

This would allow Governor Perry to appoint a more conservative, more to Texas’ taste senator.

And of course, that is also an audacious hope. Were I to write a campaign slogan for him it would be,

“Governor Perry: Too liberal for Texas but more conservative than most of the dunderheads in Washington.”

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Darndest Thing

I started writing about wealth and “the rich” and the like. Those thoughts are still baking. Instead of posting on that, a cute story comes to mind.

My oldest daughter has been known to say some things with the “wisdom of a child” that have bordered on the profound. Usually though, it just makes for awkward moments…

It is not unusual to hear music being played around our neighborhood. Many households here have pools and with those pools have parties and with those parties have music. The top-forty is standard fare for the younger parties and seventies and eighties rock/pop for the older parties.

Additionally, there is still a lot of house construction. Most of that construction is by Hispanic men who tune to radio stations that play lively, upbeat songs about drug smugglers or slow ballads about being shot whilst fighting over a woman. (I was actually raised around neighborhoods being built and now know many of these tunes by heart.)

And so it came to pass about six years ago, we heard not rock or pop or Mexican drug smuggling music but poorly produced, slow, and sleazy music emanating from somewhere in the neighborhood.

I said, “That sounds like S-O-F-T-P-O-R-N music.”

My (not able to spell very well) daughter asked, “How do you know?”

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Pins and Needles

My middlest kidlet received the shots required to attend kindergarten in Texas today. By my math, she should be able to safely drink water in Cambodian rivers now.

The shots she received were:

  • DTaP – Diphtheria, Tetanus, & Pertussis
  • Hep-A – Hepatitis Type-A
  • MMR – Measles, Mumps, and Rubella
  • OPV – Polio

In a few months, she is to receive another booster shot.

I understand the reasoning for DTaP. Pertussis has made a slight reemergence in Texas recently. Tetanus is almost certain given the number of rusty swing sets on playgrounds these days. (I cannot tell if that last sentence was irony or sarcasm.) Diphtheria is caught by touching yucky children. Kindergartens are chock full of yucky children.

I understand the reasoning for the OPV shot. While the odds of actually developing a poliomyelitis infection are slim – a gambler is more likely to win a multi-state lottery than a child developing it – infections still happen. A simple shot all but eliminates the chances of contracting it. The vaccination has not been known to have wide-spread severe reactions – or even mildly-spread reactions.

The MMR vaccination is a bit more problematic. An outbreak in Indiana recently has been cited as further reason to receive that vaccination. Additionally, approximately one percent of children that contract measles in the United States will die from it. The number of children dying from severe reactions to the shot is… not reported at all. Information from studies regarding long-term effects is not readily available either. I am not convinced that it causes Autism. At the same time, I am not convinced it is a solid “return on investment” either.

Hep-A is also problematic. Hep-A outbreaks are virtually unheard in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia – all countries which vaccinate for it. Those are also all countries / continents with good hygiene. And despite the immunizations, children will still get Hep-A on occasion. This might be a “chicken and egg” type thing but I am not convinced either way.

There is one thing which I am sure though:

She does not need to get all of these shots on a single day!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Overheard at the Office

My current client is an energy company in North Texas. I overheard this from one of the traders (see "energy expert"):

Saying "we cannot drill our way out of this crisis" is like saying "we cannot eat our way out of hunger" or "drink our way out of thirst."

Difficult Question Time – Presidential Edition

The real test of one’s resolve in answering a difficult question is being in a situation where one must answer the question. Regardless of what any one may say he will do in a given situation, it is what he has done and what he is doing that provides his actual answer.

I like to think that if Scarlett Johansson threw herself at me, I would politely refuse her, explaining that despite any feelings I may have for her, we must deny ourselves. I cannot say with absolute certainty that I would. And as of yet, she has not. Still waiting here…

The bar is considerably much lower for politicians. Since they are usually averse to offending anyone at any time – at least anyone that can keep them in office – even the simplest of questions become difficult to answer.

Me: “Senator McCain, you once cussed at Senator Cornyn for not supporting your ‘comprehensive immigrant reform’ but now you say you get it and will no longer pursue amnesty for illegals. Are you going to pursue a like agenda if elected?”

Senator McCain: “Believe me I get it now. I understand that Americans do not want immigration reform without first securing the border.”

Me: “I realize you understand that Senator but that doesn’t really answer the question…”

Senator McCain: “Border security is important to Americans and is important to our national security.”

Me: “That still doesn’t answer the question nor does it address the fact that many Americans want the country rid of illegal aliens for many reasons other than national security.”

Senator McCain: “I get it.”

Me: “I get that you get it but will you still pursue a pro-illegal agenda?”

This is Senator McCain’s favorite tap dance. However, it is hard to be too critical of the Arizona senator without completely thrashing the junior Illinois senator…

Me: “Senator Obama, are you going to pursue an agenda favorable to illegal aliens?”

Senator Obama: “We need to be united on this issue. This isn’t about race or color. We must move beyond that.”

Me: “So is that a ‘yes’?”

Senator Obama: “I have fought for comprehensive immigration reform that secures our border, fixes our broken immigration bureaucracy and puts the 12 million undocumented immigrants on a responsible path to citizenship.”

Me: “Senator, two-out-of-three ain’t bad, none-out-of-three is. Moving along though… I know you support it-state tuition for illegals – even those that are from out-of-state – do you also support universal health care for illegal aliens?”

Senator Obama: “I have a universal health care plan that will cover every American and cut the cost of a typical family’s premiums by up to $2,500 a year.”

Me: “That still doesn’t answer the question. When you say ‘American,’ are you referring to everyone living in North and South America?”

Senator Obama: “Yes we can!”

I may as well forget any questions regarding illegal immigration with either candidate. At best, Senator McCain would leave the issue alone, at least taking no action for illegal immigration. Senator Obama would have every taxpayer – the less-than-fifty-percent remaining who actually pay income taxes – foot the bill for medical services, education, and home mortgages for every illegal within a one planet radius.

Here is one that I would really like to hear answered. It would be difficult for both, but for very different reasons:

“What would it take for you to use military action against Iran?”

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The More Equal Half

In making decisions, I try to research as much as possible before taking action. I have found myself in the past and now on occasion having to make split second decisions on incomplete data. When afforded the luxury of time though, I try to learn as much as possible.

Taking a bit of advice from Sun Tzu, I persisted with “knowing my enemy.”

I read Obama’s THE IMPACT OF THE OBAMA ECONOMIC PLAN FOR AMERICA’S WORKING WOMEN and BARACK OBAMA’S plan to SUPPORT WORKING WOMEN and FAMILIES. As usual there are several lofty goals with ice cream and circuses for everyone. In the former, he mentions reducing self-employment tax.

I am certainly not a fan of the Internal Revenue Service. Any reduction in self-employment taxes definitely has my attention.

So now that my attention has been caught, what does it say?

“5 million women small business owners will benefit from this reduction of the self-employment tax.”

What is this reduction of the self-employment tax?

It is the “Making Work Pay” tax credit that will “offset the first $500 of payroll tax” or $1000 for a “working family”.

Payroll tax is definitely not self-employment tax. The two are vastly different from each other. I wonder if anyone in Obama’s campaign, or at least whoever it was that wrote the paper – presumably someone in his campaign – even knows that.

I also find it a little bit disturbing that he “has something for everyone” on his site except for white, heterosexual males that are not too old or too young. It is still disturbing nonetheless.

Going on…

Both discuss “tax relief”. The blueprint speaks of benefiting 150 million working Americans. It also states, “Ten million working Americans will no longer have to pay any income taxes as a result of this plan.

My question is thus: “If forty percent of working Americans do not pay income taxes and another ten million are going to be added to it, how many working Americans does that leave paying taxes?”

The plan is to make the number of Americans paying no taxes greater than fifty percent. Presumably, they will continue to vote for politicians that keep them from paying taxes. Once the majority starts redistributing the wealth of the minority, the fundamentals that made this nation will die.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


Jose Medellin was executed this evening after another delay and reconsideration by the United States Supreme Court.

Several have commented on news stories of the execution. Many are glad he is gone. Some are asking if we “feel better now that he is dead”.


My heart goes out to the families of Jennifer Ertman and Elizabeth Pena and even to the family of Jose Medellin. They are all in our prayers tonight. We even prayed for the soul of Jose.

Despite our sorrow for whole affair, please remember that as Texans we will not be shamed or “guilted” into commuting the sentences of these murderers. Nor will we ever equate their lives with the lives of their victims.

Peter Cantu, you are next.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Don't Mess It Up

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles declined to recommend to Governor Perry a stay of execution for Jose Medellin. While I have my problems with Governor Perry, he is one-hundred percent with me on gun and capital punishment.

I will not be voting for him in the next gubernatorial election. However, if he were to grant Medellin a stay of execution, I would light the fire under the tar and start plucking the chickens.

The World Court, the United States federal government, and the government of Mexico want Medellin to be reprieved or at least given a stay of execution. Fortunately, the decision is not for them to make.

I have no doubt that Governor Perry will not stand in the way of justice in this case though. Medellin has a date with Death tomorrow and Governor Perry will not fail the family of Jennifer Ertman, the family of Elizabeth Pena, or Texas.