Search This Blog

Friday, October 28, 2005

Amtrak Is Expensive vs. Flying 3,000 miles onSouthwest

I bought a roundtrip ticket to Phoenix from Philadelphia only seven days before my trip. The airplane ticket cost $355. It got me thinking much is a roundtrip ticket on Amtrak from New York to Washington, DC. I guessed it would cost at least $300 or almost as much as my plane ticket to go over 2,500 miles. [Update- I looked up the actual Amtrak ticket costs; a roundtrip on the Acela Express, admittedly a more costly fare, costs $320 for a Thursday-Sunday roundtrip. As they used to say "Go Greyhound". ]

How ridiculous is that? Explains why so few use Amtrak and it must be subsidized by the feds every year to the tune of $48 per passenger trip. I have posted about this waste before. And I am not against train service but someone has to figure out how to make it more economical and effective.

Bumped Into Sandra Day O'Connor Today

Am on a business trip in Phoenix and this afternoon, I am starving and can't find a store that sells pretzels, chocolate milk, etc -you know junk food. Of course, I am staying in Scottsdale, the priciest (?) area of Phoenix and that may help explain why no snack food stores but plenty of expensive and good restaurants.

So, finally I spot a store called Traders Joes which looks like it has what I need. [btw, Wawa could make a killing in Phoenix cause there is obviously no competition].

As I am walking into Trader's Joe, I see a familiar looking woman outside. I looked three times and conclude she is Sandra Day O'Connor. I say hello, tell her I am familiar with her remarkable story (first this and first that) and thank her for serving all of us. She and her husband are gracious and thank me in return.

I think later that there are almost no senators to whom I would have the same reaction! Cause most of them are very ordinary and small-minded people. What happened to people with great vision or dreams anyway- we sure don't elect many of those dreamers!

So, it was a good day for me.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Save The Caribou Eaters...Save The Caribou Eaters

Can't you just picture a bunch of eco-nuts standing just steps from a restaurant and chanting "Save The Caribou Eaters"? That's the science fiction movie-like scene I see when I read some idiotorials.

For instance, the Inquirer wrote an idiotorial bemoaning Congress' attempting to pass a law that would allow drilling for oil in in ANWAR. Some of the stuff the idiotors come up with to decry Congress' proposal is way too funny- I suspect sometimes they are making it up. Especially this part...and I quote from the idiotorial......" The native Gwich'in tribe will likely lose its centuries-old ability to survive on subsistence caribou hunting.

For your reading pleasure, here is the link to their whining editorial:

I agree - Let's Do Away With Gerrymandering

Good Wash Post editorial re gerrymandering, which is big reason for low voter turnout.

In fact, I live in a town that was gerrymadered into a Congressional district (Curt Weldon's) that is about 20 miles away. That is almost impossible to pull off in a big metro area like Philly but they did it anyway. This is a big issue for Americans- it is critical that we take this kind of power away from the two doominant political parties!

Al Jazeera Is Hiring

Check out this help-wanted ad in the NY Times on Sunday 10/23/05. Al Jazeera is looking to hire sports announcers for its Washington, DC office. I provided the link below (no fooling - I am not making this up). From a macro-economic viewpoint, this is good news for the economy (jobs being added) but probably bad news for CNN's ratings.

Tuition Free Yale

The NY Times had an article on Sunday 10/23/05 that was worth the price of the paper ($4.50 at my neighborhood convenience store). The article was by Ben Stein and he writes about Yale University's enormous wealth and asks if Yale still needs his annual donation (he is a Yale grad).

Stein says Yale has an endowment of $13 BILLION and suggests it does not need to charge tuition. I agree- the Ivy Schools lead the way in raising tuition and impact the average cost of a college education throughout the country. But, many of the Ivies have billion dollar endowments and they pay little or no income taxes and in some cases, no real estate taxes.

This is a pet peeve of mine: large non-profits in this country like Yale and The Pew Foundation have billions and they spend usually less than 4-5% of their endowment value per year. The law should require tax-free organizations spend at least 10-12% of their endowment value per year.

For your reading pleasure, here is the link to the NY Times article.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Lindenwood University????

I saw this blurb in Parade Magazine this weekend about some cable show called "Lingo"? The blurb announced the show had hired a new assistant (Shandi Finnessey) to the show's host. And went to say the lovely Finnessey was a former Miss USA aand graduate of Lindenwood University (where's that?).

I have never heard of this college but after looking at the picture of Finnesey, I suspect the admissions department at Lindenwood University could see a spike up in applications from male students.

For your reading pleasure, I included a link to a story about the lovely Miss Finnesey.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Fitzgerald's Website

The special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, in the Plamegate case has established a website. It appears the website will contain info about the case, its originalk mandate, etc.

I suspect the website was established primarily because there will be few if any indictments and Fitzgerald figures the website can be used to answer (one time) the many, many questions the press will pose.

What is your opinion for the website?

Lastly, Fitzgerald's grand jury term ends on 10/28. Isn't it curious that his work is wrapping up at the same time? How did they know months ago that the work would take this long?? Probably because of that old saw that "a job takes as long as the time allotted to it". You agree?

Friday, October 21, 2005

Philly Pols Can Be Bought in Five Below

"Five Below" refers to a new "dollar store" type chain that just opened. Everything it sells is priced for $5 or less....hence "Five Below"

Guess you saw the news where a Philly City Councilman went up to the top of the tower at City Hall and his freinds and coleagues were scared he was going to do a swan dive out a window.

The councilman is under investigation for a faily small bribe (less than $20,000) and rumor is he will be indicted soon. The bigger story is "why did they stop him?" as a friend of mine asked.

Don't get the wrong idea- I am not advocating suicide for any individual! But this guy epitomizes the type of politician that Phily tends to produce: mediocre, small-minded, greedy, dumb and arrogant. If they made a movie about Philly councilmen, the camera would follow him from restaurant to bar as he got free food and drinks and took free vacations at the Jersey Shore in return for steering million dollar contracts to the briber. Willy Sutton would have asked why he sold himself so cheap!! So, the councilman's demise would have been poignant from that standpoint. BUT I really don't want this or any individual to do that.

It was also interesting that Mayor Street, Police Commissioner Johnson and Congressman Brady were among those who talked him down. Because, Street and Johnson know the most about the federal wiretaps found in Street's office and Brady was AWOL from Congress yesterday (as far as I know, Congress was in session while Brady was in Philly).

Thursday, October 20, 2005

City Building Wifi Service Is Like Comcast Monopoly On Cable Service

The Inquirer has a good article asking about the pitfalls (primarily financial losses for the city) of Philadelphia building its own WIFI network for wireless internet access for all or most residents.
As I said before on this blog, I am against this type of public venture. It will suck and provide inferior service and quality......and as one person in the article said... "the city can't keep the streets can they do this?" (I am loosely paraphrasing this very astute resident).

BUT, the article included an email from a Comcast biggie (David Cohen who is just about Governor Ed Rendell's best friend- Cohen was Philadelphia Managing Director when Rendell was Mayor).

Here are some pertinent thoughts and money quotes from the article...... The notion of city support, however, worries critics such as Michael J. Balhoff, a consultant and the author of a recent industry-sponsored study that takes a dim view of municipal Wi-Fi. In an interview, Balhoff warned that a perception of city support for one firm could discourage others from bringing competing Internet systems to Philadelphia - leaving residents with fewer choices, worse technology, and higher bills.

That critique has also come from Philadelphia-based cable giant Comcast, whose politically influential executive vice president, David L. Cohen, said in an e-mail yesterday: "We continue to believe that it is inappropriate to use public money to provide service or to indirectly subsidize select providers."

Blogitorial what Cohen is worrying about is there will be a lack of competition WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT PHILADELPHIANS ARE FACED WITH SINCE COMCAST BOUGHT OUT MOST OF THE AREA'S CABLE PROVIDERS. In effect, Comcast and Cohen are getting a dose of their own medicine but I predict Comcast will one day "buy out" the city's WIFI network and make another bazillion dollars so I won't shed any tears for them today.

College Tuition

The Inky story (link below) suggests that the gap between the cost of college tuition and government aid is growing primarily because government aid is decreasing. I disagree because the story states tuitions have increased by and average of 10% in 2003 and more than 7% in 2004.

The article also speaks to the shift by some colleges to "merit aid" versus "need -based" aid. The president of the Univ of Penn, Amy Guttman, does some handwringing about this trend. But two quotes from the article by Guttman seem to be contradictory. See for yourself as I am placing the quotes below with my blogitorial comments.

Quote #1 "We all should be focusing on need-based financial aid, rather than on what is called merit...," Gutmann said yesterday. "Merit-based aid overwhelmingly goes to high-income students who can afford our institutions. But institutions are competing for them to raise their average SAT scores." Gutmann said the recent trend among colleges to offer more merit grants to top students is widening the gap between wealthy and low-income students. "Even if tuition rates were frozen, a college education simply would be out of reach for low-income and most middle-income families... were it not for need-based financial aid," she said. She is urging flagship public universities and Ivy League colleges to turn away from merit grants and expand the aid for low-income and middle-income students. Gutmann said Penn awards grants based only on family income.

Quote # 2 "If we want to be increasingly competitive as a society, we have to give the educational opportunities to our best and brightest students," she said. "It makes good competitive sense, as well as being on the side of justice."

Blogitorial in Quote #1 - Guttman says let's focus on need not merit. Then in Quote # 2- Guttman says the aid should go the best and the brightest. I say Guttman can't have it both ways. And I assume Guttman is really saying she wants the aid to go to the best and the brightest UNLESS they are well off. Same old same old social engineering! Lastly, it could be enlightening if the Inquirer would ask Guttman why the cost of college is increasing by 7-10% per year.

For your reading pleasure, below is the link to the actual story.

If You Like To Laugh, You May Enjoy Scrappleface

Follow the link below to see Scott Ott's (Scrappleface) take on Harriet Miers' answers to the Senate Judiciary questionnaire.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Good Movie Review -The Defiance, Ohio Jingle Winner

The Daliy News had a review on 10/14/05 of a new movie about a housewife and mother of ten children who helped support her family by winning a bunch of writing and jingle contests. Gary Thompson, the DN movie reviewer, is always pretty astute and a very good reviewer. He likes the movie a lot.

But I was struck by some of the comments by the movie's director..... Check them out for yourself. She struggled with making the movie upbeat because she always viewed the 1950's as some sort of horrible era where people were only interested in accumulating stuff. What an asshat she must be! In the time, more people went to college (GI Bill, etc) and bought homes than ever before. Where do they get this hate-America worldview? It's hard to fathom. Well that's my two cents ... here are the quotes that got me

"Before I made this film I was very dismissive of the 1950s as a very superficial era in which consumerism basically came into its glory. I always thought, for instance, that it was the era that destroyed American nutrition, with fish sticks and TV dinners and instant pudding and Jell-O," Anderson said. "But the more I studied Evelyn and the more I dropped into her world, the more I realized that housewives needed and wanted these inventions because the last thing Evelyn wanted to do was to chop fresh garlic and make a reduction. She had 10 kids.

"I can make a fabulous meal, because I have the free time, I have one kid, and I'm privileged. Evelyn was not. She had to cook for 10, and clean house. It was never-ending. To her, a washer/dryer wasn't a status symbol, it was a labor-saving device. You can call that a superficial desire, but this woman was boiling clothes on a stove."

Anderson said she drew on her own maturity and experience as a mother to understand Ryan.
"I couldn't have made this film in my 20s and 30s, because I wouldn't have understood that raising a child is as vital a role as having a career," said Anderson, sounding a bit like a politician, but you have to be in Hollywood, which is ever mindful of constituency.

That said, the character's unshakably positive attitude was itself a challenge, since it's so unfashionable these days. "Don't we equate optimism with stupidity? Unfortunately I think we do. So I had another problem - how do I make a hip, edgy film about an optimist?" she said.

I tried to provide the link to the movie review but had some technical difficulties for some reason. If you want, go to Philly dot com for the Daily News site and type in "prize winner" to pull up Thompson's review.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Inquirer Columnist Gets Linked to Instapundit

I saw a column by regular Philadelphia Inquirer columnist, Jane Eisner, was picked up and linked on Instapundit because Eisner wrote about the effect of the blogosphere in the "marketplace of ideas" [ which, by the way, Al Bore believes has disappeared].

I wonder if Eisner knows her column probably got way more eyeballs via Instapundit than she gets in the Inquirer. That's just my guess as her column is generally very doctrinaire (think of a younger and not yet sour and overwrought Eleanor Clift) so I suspect many Inky readers just pass right over her work.

Inn any event, here is the link to the column. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Delaware Blogger Gets Mention in Associated Press Story??

The AP wrote a story about a new TV show , "Commander in Chief". The story mocked some who theorize the show is actually a promo for a woman president (aka Hillary). BUT the local angle to the AP story is that it used a quote from a blogger called "The Colossus" and that blogger (I am not certain) may be from the Delaware Valley and toiling away on a blog named the Colossus of Rhodey.

For your reading pleasure I have supplied the story quote and a link below to the AP story via the Philly Inquirer. Story quote re The Colossus...."And the blogger Colossus pronounced the show "a nefarious plot to advance the notion of a Hillary Clinton presidency."

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Good Article About Liberals Written By Two Mainstream & Connected Democrats

Here are some interesting soundbites from a Michael Barone column in a magazine. Barone was discussing with two savvy Democratic operatives just where Dems continue to go wrong. I provided some soundbites below AND the link if you want to read the whole article.

Soundbites...."Galston and Kamarck seem to believe that the Democrats' chief problem is that too large a part of their constituency, and their primary electorate, is made up of liberals who reject values and positions held by large majorities of Americans…….
Along a number of dimensions, liberals differ not only from other Democrats but from the country as a whole. Not only are they younger, better educated, and more prosperous; they are less likely ever to have been married or to have children in their home. They are more likely to be secular in their orientation, only half as likely as other Americans to have attended religious services weekly, and only one third as likely to have participated in Bible study or prayer groups; 61 percent of liberals oppose displaying the Ten Commandments, versus only 22 percent of all Americans. A remarkable 80 percent of liberals favor gay marriage; less than one third of their fellow Americans agree."

"In the area of defense and foreign policy, 67 percent of liberals believe that the pre-emptive use of military force is rarely or ever justified, 65 percent favor reducing the federal budget to cut the deficit; again, only 35 percent of the electorate would go along with them. Liberals are only half as likely to be military veterans as are Americans as a whole. [Note: Galston, as well as being a political science Ph.D. who uses his own translations of ancient Greek, served in the Marine Corps.] Only two fifths report that they regularly display the U.S. flag, versus two thirds of their fellow citizens." ..end of Soundbites.

Below is the link to the article:

Read This About The Oklahoma College Student Who Blew Himself Up

Interesting story and little publicized story about an O.U. student who blew himself up a couple weeks ago. Why has the MSM done so little news coverage?

Suggest you read the whole article...especially if you are a conspiracy buffs. For your reading pleasure, I have provided the link below via Real Clear Politics.

Monday, October 10, 2005

"School's Wishes Override Parents' Wishes"

Read the John Leo column below. It's about the parents of a Massachusetts kindergarten student and what happened when they expressed displeasure with their son's school when it gave him and his classmates a "diversity book bag". Included in the bookbag was a book called "Who's In A Family" that promotes acceptance of gay marriage. Yes, I typed the foregoing paragraph accurately....a book bag given to kindergarten students contained a book that promoted gay marriage.

For your reading pleasure, here is the link to the story. And FYI, credit goes to The Repository where I first saw this story in the old media [while reading The Repository] when I was on a business trip in Canton, Ohio.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Poor Al Gore Must Be Off His Meds Again

Here is the latest rant from the most overrated person in the most useless job (vice-president) in the country's history. I will dissect as much of his speech as I can stomach.

Millions May Die But On the Bright Side, That Could Slow Down Global Warming

A NY Times story on October 8th reported millions could die from an Avian Flu outbreak.

But if one were to look at the bright side, the large decrease in population could slow down global warming (I presume). That means all the whacko environmentalists would have to muffle their collective cheers.

You may view my outlook as a warped way to look at this type of horrible pandemic, but I say to all you tree huggers out there (and I am not a tree hugger - I believe nature will do just fine without our puny feel-good help) ......get your good news anyway you can. AND (cross your little green fingers), maybe you'll get a dastardly little bonus and Bush, himself- the Greatest Nightmare To Ever Befall You Greens (as I suspect you all believe), just might fall victim to the Avian Flu.

Locks Are Made For Honest People

Here is a story from Time reporting that Karen Hughes made $450,000 in speaking fees during her 1-2 years (if that long) hiatus from govenment employ. Nothing unethical about this (I believe) but it has to make you wonder about the enormous fees these career policy wonks can earn as they jump back and forth from the public to the private sector.

I seem to recall hearing Rahm Emanual (former top aide to President Clinton and current Illinois congressman) made about $10 Million in less than two years (the time between his job with Clinton and his swearing in as a congressman).

These examples show why those ethics laws don't work. Many news outlets espouse stronger ethics laws but you can't train a cockroach to eat just the food you want it to eat. Let's face it, the two dominant polictical parties are just too corrupt- they thrive on legal and illegal payola and need to be gutted by a "clean sweep" type third party that will lead a drive to "unelect" all incumbents and thus eviscerate the political power of the Dems and the Republicans!

And as I heard a long time ago......locks are made for honest people. For your reading pleasure, here is the link to the story about Karen Hughes' speaking fees. BTW, do you think Time wrote a similar story about Rahm Emanuel's private sector earnings?,8599,1114402,00.html

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Agony Of A Phillies Fan

The Phils missed the playoffs by a game or two. If the Astros had lost today, I had 12 tickets to the playoff game tomorrow. That would have been fun with I think Padilla pitching for the Phils and their hot bats. But the Astros won- beat the Cubs with 2-3 unreaned runs in the th inning.

Here is my autopsy of the Phils. For most of the season, the regular catcher and the regular 3rd baseman were like anchors slowing a boat down. Those two guys are over the hill. The Phils have a superb nucleus- I define that as 4-5 core everyday players....Abreau, Utley, Rollins, Burrell, Thome or Howard. That's how the Atlanta Braves have won 14 straight division titles- the Braves always have a core of 4-5 everyday players and surround that core with fundamentally solid young and role players. But they don't tolerate players that are on their way down (Bell) or just plain stupid (Lieberthal).

That's where the Phils went wrong - I would have cut Lieberthal 4-5 months ago regardless of how much I owed him. And, most fans don't know this, he is the worst catcher in baseball at calling pitches and managing pitchers!

An MSM "Parent" Is Usually Someone With A Vested ("Activist") Interest

The Philly Daily News wrote a story on 10/1/05 that ripped Bill Bennett for the comment he made on his radio program this week. The Daily News story, written by Mensah Dean, claimed to have interviewed regular parents of Philly public school students to see what these "parents" thought about Bennett and a contract his company (K12) holds to provide consulting services to their school district.

One "parent" they quoted was named Helen Gym and my antenna went up instantly. Here is the exact quote from the story....."I find it hard to see any explanation for why they're here in Philadelphia educating many of the black children Mr. Bennett clearly finds it provocative to call expendable," said Helen Gym, a mother of a district third-grader.

Wait a minute my memory bank said....Wasn't she the leader of the small Chinatown group that kept the Phillies stadium out of center city? I am still steamed about that - there were less than 10,000 people in Chinatown and maybe 2,000 were papered taxpayers but the city caved in (Rendell and Street) to them and put the stadium in south philly. Actually, I suspect that's where Rendell always wanted it as he sucks up to Comcast bigtime! And yes, this issue is one of my all time pet peeves- it showed me Philly will never be a first class town if the current cockroaches stay in power (and they are well represented in BOTH parties so don't get the wrong idea).

But I is what I found about that "parent" Helen Gym when I googled her name- Helen Gym: Coalition To Save Philadelphia Schools, Philadelphians United to Support Public Schools, Stadium Out Of Chinatown Coalition, and Asian Pacific America Studies Consultant. Think I should google the other parent named in the Daily News story? Nah, maybe later I have had enough fun for one day. And I bet the Inquirer and Daily News still wonders why their credibility is sinking and circulation is down. They dis-respect their readers when they print crap like this (and that's the first time I ever used the word "dis-respect" but it fits).

For your reading pleasure, I have provided the link below: