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Columns

  • No justifying abuse

     I recently read an article about a stray dog found at the Berkeley Marina in California that had been shot with a pellet gun 38 times.  
    The dog was treated by Berkeley Animal Services and survived.  
    Can you imagine what type of lowlife would find it amusing to shoot an animal thirty-eight times?  
    In Long Island, a man got into an argument with a woman who was walking her 1-year old Dachshund.  
    He grabbed the dog and threw it 10 feet into the street.  (Little Coco was injured but is okay.)  
    Again, what type of lowlife defines his manhood by how far he can javelin toss a 12-pound dog?  
    Can people be more despicable?

  • Hooray for Thanksgiving

    Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.
    One of the reasons is that Americans still remember why we celebrate it.
    Thanksgiving isn’t just another holiday to which we give not one thought other than that it is a day off work.
    Nearly all of us truly remember to give thanks and truly celebrate the holiday.
    Unlike Christmas, there is no stress around giving and receiving presents.
    The purpose of celebrating Thanksgiving is very simple and very easy to observe.
    We’re told that all cultures observe some sort of day to give thanks.
    It seems to be a basic human need to back away from trouble,  stress and daily commotion and reflect on one’s blessings no matter how meager they may be.

  • Folks, we're on a roller coaster ride

    If the times we’re living through could be anymore consequential for the future of this Republic, it would be hard to imagine.
    Iran is working to get a nuclear weapon, Israel makes noises about making a pre-emptive strike against them, and America’s current ability to influence an outcome for the benefit of preserving peace is clearly impotent.
    Greece is headed toward a financial default, which will set in motion further disruption and adverse impact on international financial markets, including ours. And it doesn’t help matters that the United States government continues its reckless spending and adding to its record deficit.

  • Insurance for people you shouldn't have to insure

    The things that drive small businesses crazy don’t only come from government. This story involves the confusing interplay of insurance, regulation, and lawsuits.  
    A friend who runs a small business called me to ask about this: Her business uses the services of professionals on a contract or consulting basis. Her insurance company has just informed her that she must pay workers’ compensation premiums for the consultants. The insurer is going to do her a favor and start the premium increase this year. It could have demanded premiums for last year also, on the theory that it was exposed to claim costs last year.

  • Can occupiers survive without a song?

    My wife and I were watching the Country Music Awards last week when we realized that country music has gone the way of almost all other forms of music — single octave shouting, with the same words yelled over and over.
    We wondered what students do on bus trips these days. They can’t sing popular songs because there are few words and no melodies.
    Guess they just vegetate while listening to their smart phones play music.
    That led to a discussion of what all the kids, camped out in parks these days do for songs.
    We remember the 60s and all the great songs of that protest movement, recorded by top stars on top labels. It was easy to sing those.

  • Paying a political price

    From the campaign trails to state legislatures, wherever you cast your gaze in this benighted nation, you’ll likely find a bit of illegal-immigrant bashing at work.
    During their campaigns last year, two New Mexico politicos, each in her own way, played the undocumented-worker card so effectively as to help them become the highest ranking women holding public office in New Mexico today.
    Since then, the political payoffs Gov. Susana Martinez and Secretary of State Diana Duran sought from their tough-on-illegal-immigrants postures have proved modest at best.
    Twice in the past 10 months at two sessions of the legislature, Martinez failed in her efforts to repeal a law allowing illegals to apply for driver’s licenses.

  • We don’t want them to cry

    Recently I asked why my son wasn’t allowed to bring his Pokemon cards to school.
    Well, he is allowed to bring them for sharing, but not for recess or trading. This all goes along with some rule about not bringing toys outside for recess.
    I kind of understand the whole toys at recess, but I am really struggling with trading cards. In my mind I am picturing little boys huddled together in some corner of the playground in intense conversation, practicing hard-core negotiating skills.
    In picturing this scenario, the boys in question are wearing black shoes and little caps and shirts with buttons. It’s so Norman Rockwell.

  • Corporate value statements useless, perhaps harmful

    My odd experiences now include the strange exercise of an appeals hearing for state government employees. Everything favors the state. The hearing officer sits at a table facing the door. Flanking and facing the officer are two tables, one for the employee (and lawyer) and one for the bureaucrats, a lawyer and a paralegal. Spare. Empty. Surreal. Totally tilted to the state.
    Strip everything — nice words and thick employee manuals — and the room embodies a statement of ultimate values to state employees. Something like: We are all powerful; you are an insect.
    The context here — 10 reasons to not define corporate values — comes from Glenda Eoyang of Minneapolis, founding executive director of the Human Systems Dynamics Institute.

  • Saving for the future

    Halloween brought little witches and goblins and ghouls to our doors, scaring us with frightening blood stained scars, loose skin hanging from half eaten faces, and now and then even a knife impaling someone’s head.  
    One child proved to be the most frightening of all by wearing a Mitt Romney mask. I threw a bowlful of candy bars at him and pleaded, “Leave my dog alone!”
    Trick or Treat! Gimme gimme gimme candy!!! Ah, the sweet sound of young greed.
    Yes, another Halloween come and gone, another visit to the dentist to drill out cavities from ingesting all that sugar and chocolate (well, you’re lucky if there was actually any real chocolate in that stuff.)

  • Lt. Govs are a nuisance

    Here we go again. The lieutenant governor is getting in the governor’s way. They are such a nuisance. Why do we even have them?
    That, by the way, is a good question. Some states don’t have lieutenant governors. And those states do just fine.
    New Mexico governors not only are saddled with lieutenant governors, the lieutenant governors get to be full time employees if they desire.
    And why wouldn’t they want to be on the top floor of the Merry Roundhouse in the middle of all the action?
    The problem is that they don’t have anything to do except preside over the Senate when it is in session.  
    And, oh yes, take over for the governor when he or she can’t serve or is out of state.