ZIGGY (the emperor parrot) & GEORGE (his companion human)



If your speakers are on, you should hear a few seconds of a sound clip from Boney M's "We Kill the World" (©1981) when you visit this page. The actual song is longer than 6 minutes; using such an excerpt falls within the "fair use" doctrine.  Boney M was a wholesome family-oriented pop group popular in Europe and the UK in the late 70's and 80's.  Although they included folk music in their repertoire, they were not known for protest, which is why this song was surprising.  The use of what sounds like a child's voice makes these lyrics all the more haunting; the message remains relevant to this very day: 
...Don't kill the world
don't let her down.
Do not destroy basic ground.
Don't kill the world
our means of life.
Lend ear to nature's cry...
(for complete lyrics, see sites such as lyricsdepot.com)
The group has a fascinating history (see the Wikipedia article).  Frank Farian, the German producer, did with Boney M. what he later got in trouble for doing with Milli Vanilli:  the group that performed was mostly a "front group" for the studio recordings.  That never bothered me; all I care about is whether it sounds good or not.  You can still get their music on eBay, Amazon.com, and at other online stores.  I discovered Boney M. when I heard their version of "Kalimba de Luna."  Every now and then, as in that case, I become so mesmerized by a tune that I absolutely MUST acquire it.


Am I the only person who is uneasy about the almost fanatical obsession that major cable news channels have with certain particular crime stories?  This is written in January 2009, and for months on end, almost all Nancy Grace seems to have been able to talk about is poor little Caylee Anthony.  I am properly sympathetic, but WHY does she spend so much time on that one case?  Watching network news, you would think that the crime rate must be nearly zero because there are so few crimes to report on in such detail.  Are there not other victims' families that might rest easier if news attention were being focused on the crimes that have been perpetrated on their families?  Thank heavens for the remote.
I wouldn't be surprised to see this going on into 2010, with Nancy Grace interviewing, say, the ex-housekeeper of a second cousin of a former neighbor of someone who used to know the Anthony family.  This would, of course, be advertised as a "hot tip."
And Greta van Susteren is no better.  If she is still on the air in 2018, she'll probably be doing an interview with a friend of a former acquaintance of a girlfriend of someone who used to go to school with Joran van der Sloot.  This would, of course, be advertised as "breaking news."
Give us a break. 

Every time there's a disaster, there are sure to be dozens of politicians and celebrities eager to be in the news, eager to be shown as being helpful in the aftermath of a disaster. I could not believe Oprah Winfrey's audacity in going to the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina. The people there needed water, food, bathing facilities, and toilets that weren't overflowing. They did not need Oprah and her entourage. If you were in such a disaster situation, which would you rather have had delivered: (1) a few thousand Whataburgers and a few outhouses, or (2) Oprah. I'm sure that there exist a few people mindless enough that they would have chosen Oprah--and for the obese among them, that might have been a healthy choice--but the way I see it is that the resources that were consumed getting her there and back out--helicopters, security manpower, etc.--would have been better dedicated to delivering some of the essentials of life, like food.
I saw the Haiti earthquake situation the same way: I love the news, but it looked like there were almost as many newsmen as there were residents sometimes. In the days after the disaster when survival resources like food were limited, how could so many different news teams from around the world have decided to go in there? I more than appreciate the necessity for a well informed public and the necessity for news coverage. But when basic resources are so limited, did every TV network on earth have to send somebody? The resources that were used to get them there and keep them there meant fewer resources for life-saving work. One less cameraman could have meant one more rescuer digging through the rubble. It is apparent now that the search effort went to "recovery" mode too soon, and just from a statistical standpoint, there are bound to have been at least one or two (or ???) more victims who would have been rescued--like the "miracle" survivor--had there been more resources to dedicate to the search. 

1. The ancients believed that the earth was the center of the universe.  Today, we know otherwise, but I got a mailing recently from a group, the "Geocentric Bible Foundation," which believes not only that the sun revolves around the earth, but that the earth is the center of the universe and that the earth does not move.  They actually have a website, www.geocentricity.com.
2. Have you ever heard of José Luis De Jesús Miranda? He claims to be Jesus Christ come back to earth. You're probably thinking, "mentally ill street person," but not only is he not a street person, he has a large television/internet ministry with thousands of followers who shower him with money and gifts, like Rolexes® and even a Cartier® watch. I can't help but wonder what need the son of God would have for a watch. The Houston Press had an interesting article about him in their November 2006 issue. His ministry is called Creciendo en Gracia.
3. I encountered a sign of a different "ministry" more recently when I found a fancy colored flyer that had been placed under my truck's windshield wiper.  The flyer was from the Tony Alamo "ministry." I was shocked at the anti-Catholic paranoid rhetoric. These people actually believe that the Vatican controls "the United Nations... the White House, Congress, every state, federal, civic, and social government agency, including the U.S. Department of Labor, the IRS, the FBI, the Supreme Court, judicial systems, the armed forces, state, federal, and other police, also the international banking and federal reserve systems...labor unions...the Mafia, and most...news media." It was so absurd that, for a moment, I thought it was a put-on. But they have a website; if you are brave enough to visit, hang onto your hat--it's piled high and deep. I don't think there's enough Thorazine® in the water supply at that "ministry." 
4. I didn't realize how widespread the insanity was until I retired. I discovered recently that there is a practice in India called agnihota, which is the ritual burning of cow dung in a particular type of receptacle exactly at sunrise and sunset every day. Certain mantras are chanted during the process. The cow dung is burned along with a few grains of rice, some butter, and some camphor; the fumes created are believed to purify the air. I am puzzled as to how polluting the air could be construed as a form of purification.
One agnihota web site claims, "...it is absolutely important that only pure cow-ghee must be used for performing 'Havan' or Agnihotra. Ghee of any other animal excepting the cow is taboo in such performance not only on socio-religious grounds, but because burning of ghee of other animals exudes fumes which pollute the atmosphere.... Agnihotra oblations of cow-ghee and rice offered in pyramid pot emit [formaline]...on burning, which prevades the air around the atmosphere bacteria-free. Scientific laboratory tests have proved that Agnihotra release many atmosphere-purifying gases like ethylene oxide, formaldehyde, betapropioeletone etc. When man inhales the air charged with gases emitted from cow-ghee and rice oblations in Agnihotra, it exerts a curative and healthful effect by purifying blood, and strengthening the heart, the lungs and the brain, and thus freeing the body and mind from toxins and tensions" (http://www.freewebs.com/sanjanaindia/).
Most people in our part of the world consider those "atmosphere-purifying" gases like formaldehyde to be dangerous pollutants, but--to each, his own.
5. I could go on and on. If you type in the words "baking soda and cancer" into Google, you will find literally dozens of websites promoting the nonsense of Angelo Simoncini, a former Italian doctor who deceived numerous cancer patients into believing that all cancer is caused by a fungus, and that he could cure cancer by treating them with baking soda.  An undercover news report about him from an Italian station is available on youtube, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvVYnNWvui0&feature=player_embedded. When it comes to health and diets, the insanity never ends.


Any of the following take place:
(1) Pigs sprout wings and start flying, or
(2) Science invents a powerful IQ-boosting drug that gets put into all the public water supplies on earth, or
(3) An asteroid hits the earth....


Most major newspapers ran an AP wire photo of marchers in Nairobi shortly after the bombing there of the US embassy on August 7, 1998.  When I saw the photo above, I felt almost as if I had been struck in the face.  It said "GO FIGHT AMERICANS IN AMERICA."  To me, it was a wake-up call.  I cut the picture out of the paper and saved it.  What you see above is cropped from that newspaper clipping.  At the time, I assumed, naively it turned out, that our congressmen and military officials would see the same thing in the picture that I did, and would act accordingly.
How many of our congressmen, military officials and law enforcement officials saw that picture and failed to react?  The answer:  virtually all of them.  Osama obviously got the message, though.  Democrats and Republicans alike are to blame for failing to act.  Thanks to the newspapers and the AP for alerting us; too bad nobody in power listened.  (Do they ever listen?  It seems like people have to die before they ever act on anything.)


The above ad ran in the Houston Post on November 1, 1993, and presumably in other major newspapers.  I was impressed enough to cut it out and save it also.  A group calling itself the "World Security Congress Foundation" recognized the threat caused by "rapid and escalating development and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction combined with the breakup of the old order of deterrence that generated certain restraint in the use of these weapons."  They considered that the end of the Cold War had created a threat to civilization.  "Our weapons at last have outstripped our means of controlling them in a conventional way" was their thesis.

Although their main concern was with biological weapons, their point was clear.  Obviously, it did not reach a receptive audience.  I would guess that my liberal brethren ignored the message because they believe that sitting down at a table and talking can solve all problems.  I would also guess that my conservative brethren ignored the message because the solution proposed was the creation of a "World Security Congress" that could operate anywhere in the world, even here, without submitting to any national sovereignty.  The authors of this ad also (unwisely) used the phrase "new world order," which, as you undoubtedly know, induces paranoia and causes right-wingers to go berserk.

Again, Democrats and Republicans alike are to blame for not preventing terrorist attacks on American targets.

Once upon a time, grocers had a simple method of making sure that their merchandise stayed fresh: FIFO--first in, first out. The easiest way to control FIFO is to not restock an item until the old is gone, but space limitations often take away that option.  Date coded items, such as those from the bakery, are clearly easy to manage.  With some produce, however, where there is no obvious way of distinguishing the old from the new, as with oranges, stores would often control FIFO by putting the older inventory into bags for quick sale at a lower price.  With regular store merchandise, what stores have done traditionally is to stock new stuff on the shelves behind the older inventory.  Since shoppers in a hurry usually grab the older product from the front, this results in FIFO.

A few shoppers, such as me, would grab items from the back to get the newest, but these days grabbing stuff at the back is no guarantee of any kind of freshness:  stockers are in a hurry, so the newest merchandise may be in front. Although some date stamp codes are interpretable by normal humans, they are usually encrypted in order to hide the age of the product from the consumer.  (There ought to be a law against date code encryption, but retailers would lobby such a law out of consideration.)

What shocks me is how poorly FIFO is regulated these days; with some chains, there is no regulation at all.  I have seen produce stockers pouring new oranges in a heap atop the old, even when there are moldy old ones present.  Removing damaged produce is not a priority these days; I guess they hope that somebody will buy it without noticing.

Dairy and frozen goods departments are no better than the produce department.  When I was growing up, I remember one milk company that guaranteed that its milk would stay fresh for ten days beyond
the date stamped on the package.  That was a long time ago.  I had so many instances of regular milk going sour before the expiration date that I started buying lactose-free ultra pasteurized milk--not because it was lactose-free, but because it was ultra-pasteurized:  the ultra-pasteurized version lasts forever compared to regular milk. 
These days, people working at the supermarket seem to have no understanding of why refrigerated products need to remain refrigerated.  I regularly see entire palates of frozen or refrigerated items being left in the open, unattended for hours.  There seems to be no urgency on the part of store employees about keeping refrigerated goods cold.
I have seen as many as 5 different expiration dates (2 already past) at the same time on Bolthouse Farms "Blue Goodness" drinks at the Wal-Mart on the North Freeway here; a similar problem has been occurring with Kozy Shack Puddings.  In late 2007, I began to monitor certain Kozy Shack packages when their November expiration dates had passed.  Even though I pointed this fact out to store employees on several occasions, no apparent action resulted.  By February 2008,  I noticed that units in one of the November-dated packages had become cracked and had gotten moldy, so I gave the package to a manager's representative.  I did not see the moldy item again, but there have continued to be date-expired Kozy Shack products on Wal-Mart's shelves on occasion, even in 2009. 
In early January 2008, I noticed the same problem with Kashi crackers: a number of packages had expiration dates of November, and when those crackers were still on the shelf in early February, I handed one of those packages to a manager's representative, but sales-expired items continued to remain on their shelves weeks later. 
The problem can begin at the distribution center level as well as the individual store level.  I first realized this when the West Road Wal-Mart ran out of a certain lactose-free milk several years ago. When they got the next new batch of that milk, the "new" product was already past its expiration date.  Since that particular product comes from the producer with an expiration date that is at least a month and a half to two months in advance, it's hard to imagine how this could occur intentionally, let alone by accident.
I have a sneaking suspicion that Wal-Mart's policy of not hiring college graduates may play a role in the apparent incompetence I see in some of their retail practices.  Having a college degree is no guarantee of great intelligence, nor is the lack of one any guarantee of the opposite.  Many of the most famous and influential people in history did not have college degrees; Jesus Christ did not have a college diploma.  But by refusing to look for employees who have, it can be said, at least a greater probability of being more competent, Wal-Mart may be slowly ruining its business.  Another factor might be the fact that they may promote too much from within, and thereby fall prey to the Peter Principle ("In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.")
A related problem to worry about is how stores handle refrigerated goods that shoppers leave in non-refrigerated areas when they change their minds about buying the items. At almost every store I visit, I see refrigerated goods slowly warming up--i.e., slowly spoiling--while store employees seem not to be the least concerned. It is clearly not ethical to put a refrigerated item that has warmed up back on its original shelf for sale, but it happens. Sometimes such items are sold at a reduced price, the reduced price being a reasonably fair warning, but store and employee policies and practices vary.

I had this posted for several years: "If I were OBL, I would have gone to the one place authorities would never look:  here in the United States.  It would not shock me to find out that he has been working in a convenience store somewhere, probably laughing whenever a customer notices the 'resemblance' to Osama Bin Laden.  He would probably have a stock response like, 'Yeah, a lot of people say that.'" That was obviously a joke, but I would like to point this out: he really was hiding out in the open, so to speak.

When I was growing up, we all worried about a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union.  When I was in grade school, we had air raid drills, during which we had to get under our desks, put our faces on the floor, and cover the back of our heads with our arms (a lot of good that would have done!)   We were warned that we dare not look at a nuclear explosion, because if we were to do so, we would lose our sight.  We lived with the constant worry that, when the warning came, there would only be 15 or 20 minutes before the mushroom clouds would appear. 
The other worry we had was that, even if we survived the initial missile exchange, there would then be years or decades worth of nuclear winter, since the debris blown into the atmosphere by so many nuclear explosions would block enough sunlight to lower the earth's average temperature substantially.
When global warming gets to the point that immediate action is required, perhaps we should join with Russia and detonate all of our remaining warheads on uncivilized parts of earth, such as north of the 38th parallel on the Korean peninsula. We would have to modify the devices, of course, to reduce the radioactivity, because we would not want the adjacent civilized areas to suffer.
You probably haven't heard of "global dimming"--the reduction in sunlight reaching the earth's surface because of particulates and chemical pollution, but it counteracts global warming, and, perversely enough, cleaning up the air, especially the effort in Europe and the US, has decreased global dimming--and is bound to have enhanced global warming a little.

Such vehement controversy exists regarding global warming that one must look at what prejudices the debate; we must evaluate where the truth lies and whose propaganda to believe. There is tremendous economic incentive to the denial of global warming, or, rather, mankind's contribution to it: not only is there the economic cost of adjusting to whatever regulations have been and might be imposed, a cost analogous to the cost of reducing more obvious forms of pollution such as mercury emissions, but there is also the indirect economic cost of not having cheap raw materials when areas such as rainforests are closed or are limited to exploitation.
There is also the economic benefit that some parties will reap when new shipping lanes open up as the ice melts. The Associated Press reported on the clash between Canada and Denmark over a tiny piece of land in the Arctic, Hans Island. Both nations claim the island and have actually sent military forces there to claim it. Why?
The AP describes "an international race for oil, fish, diamonds and shipping routes, accelerated by the impact of global warming...." (Doug Mellgren, Houston Chronicle, March 25,2007). Some experts believe that, of the undiscovered oil and gas on earth, a fourth of it may lay in the Arctic.
The AP points out that global warming makes these resources easier to get to, and that there is a separate economic incentive to ignore global warming because shipping lanes are opening up to commerce between Europe and Russia on the one hand, and Asian and other Pacific nations on the other. To have a convenient sailing route through the Arctic Ocean would dramatically cut shipping costs.  See the Wikipedia article on the Northwest Passage.
A more recent AP news story, entitled "Global warming opens Arctic for undersea cable" (Dan Joling, Houston Chronicle, Jan 24, 2010), reports that a telecommunication group is trying to fund an undersea cable along the Northwest Passage, in order to cut 52 milliseconds off of the time lag between messages that go between the UK and Asia.  It's hard to believe, but those 52 milliseconds are important to financial markets, where a split-second delay can mean the difference between profit and loss on a trade.
There are hefty motives for oil companies and other consortiums to want to do everything within their power, including buying scientists, to expedite global warming. At some level, there exist businesses and governments that actually WANT global warming. That may be difficult for some to grasp. This pro-global warming lobby has powerful propaganda tools to merchandize its message, primarily through pseudo-conservative political groups.
The global warming debate is not just a question of science; it's a question of business getting its way, no matter what the long term consequences might be. Like it or not, the real race is to accelerate global warming so that, slightly more than 500 years after Europeans first looked for a Northwest passage, we will have a viable, practical Northwest passage--and a new booty of undersea riches, just like what first attracted explorers to the New World. Greed could not have been denied then, nor can it be now: there's money to be made from global warming.
Not all the pseudo-conservatives who oppose the attempt to fight global warming are in any kind of cahoots, economic or otherwise, with the involved governmental and business interests. I think most of them actually believe their own rhetoric. None of the noisy ones on the radio seem to understand that freedom is not unlimited; we don't have the freedom to pollute or to contribute to global warming because such acts affect everyone.
You will notice, if you ever listen to the radio wackos, that they inevitably point out any incidence of cold temperature as a supposed "proof" that global warming is some kind of hoax.  During the winter of 2009-2010, there were numerous instances of extreme cold in the northern hemisphere, which the paranoid dimwits used as proof of the "hoax," but these dimwits conveniently ignored the fact that, world-wide, global temperatures in December were the 8th warmest on record, and the global ocean and southern hemisphere temperatures were the second warmest on record. According to Neville Nicholls of Monash University (Melbourne), November, 2009, through January, 2010, was the hottest for those three months on record.  While the cold spell continued in the north, during February, 2010, a heat wave worse than had been seen in 50 years affected Paraguay and Brazil, killing at least 60 people. 
It would require an actual mind to grasp the idea that what is true of the planet as a whole is the summation of what is happening everywhere on it.  The fact that it is colder than usual in Miami doesn't keep the icecaps from melting or a heat wave from killing people in Brazil.  Maybe a political analogy would be more understandable:  the fact that a candidate gets all the votes in a certain precinct doesn't mean that he or she is going to win the election; all the ballot boxes have to be counted. 
If you think the hoax theorists are wacky enough when there is an unusual cold spell, you can't imagine the wackiness that another study has generated. It turns out that current climate models that relate carbon and temperature only explain about half of the observed warming during a geological era about 55 million years ago, the PETM.  Zeebe, et al, conclude,
"...this rise in CO2 can explain only between 1 and 3.5 °C of the warming inferred from proxy records. We conclude that in addition to direct CO2 forcing, other processes and/or feedbacks that are hitherto unknown must have caused a substantial portion of the warming during the Palaeocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum. Once these processes have been identified, their potential effect on future climate change needs to be taken into account." [Nature Geoscience 2, 576 - 580 (2009)]
So carbon dioxide is not the sole culprit, hardly a surprise. Even admitting that it is one of the culprits, the wackos argue that, since nature itself creates its own global warming pollutants, such as CO2 from volcanoes, we can safely ignore mankind's contribution. I am constantly amused by this argument, because it is tantamount to saying that you don't have to worry about one hole in your roof simply because there is another hole that might well be larger. If carbon dioxide is only one of the culprits, and we are only part of the carbon dioxide problem, then surely we can defecate in our own nest and get away with it is their argument.
The hoax theory advocates have been using "Climategate" to "prove" their point. I can easily understand how a scientist or anyone else might believe so strongly that climate change is such a threat to mankind--and other life--that they had to manipulate the news about it in order to get something done. I cannot excuse them doing that, but I can understand why. If anything, the fact that scientists, people who, unlike politicians or talk show hosts, have been trained to be dispassionate and objective, would go to that length to advance their beliefs should make us even more frightened about the coming crisis.
When it comes to global warming, I see a search for a "the" cause, which is just the beginning of the mindlessness. Carbon dioxide is just one of those "the" causes. The effects of carbon dioxide have been demonstrated in closed systems, but the earth is obviously not a closed system with respect to energy; for the purposes of global warming, I think we can ignore the loss of air particles to space. The problem with carbon dioxide is that it changes the dynamics of energy gain and loss, and any change in that dynamic changes the dynamics of another greenhouse gas, water vapor. If it does change those dynamics, then changing the physical dynamics of CO2 distribution will obviously affect energy dynamics. The question is twofold: how much does it affect climate change, and how much does mankind affect it. We cannot ask whether mankind affects it, but how much, and how much of the warming we observe is a result of mankind's activity.
The question to ask oneself is this: let us compare two identical earths, each with a different atmospheric composition of CO2. Obviously, we cannot change just the CO2, so let's reduce the CO2 in one of our experimental earths by adding extra nitrogen, which absorbs IR weakly. For the purposes of discussion, let us ignore other forms of radiation. Would our two earths be different in their equilibrium temperature, all other factors being equal? I'm sure that at very low levels, regardless of how disparate, we would not see be able to measure a difference, but such an effect would become more discernible the higher the levels we are comparing. Looking at the measurable physical characteristics of CO2, what do you think? Are there magic Maxwellian demons running around, able to even out the difference in heat absorption/radiation by the two different systems?
Would two identical planets different only in their atmospheric composition come to different equilibrium temperatures if their atmospheres had different properties when it comes to radiation and heat absorption and emission? Does cast iron cook differently than cast aluminum? Would oil-filled radiators heat differently if the oils had different thermal properties? Duh....If our model earth with more CO2 gets warmer and thereby causes the vapor pressure of water to increase, does it not make sense that it would warm even more? If our model earth got so warm that the part of its surface that had been reflecting the heat we were radiating it with were to stop doing so (by melting), would that not make it warm even faster?
The history of earth IS the history of climate change, from changes in the composition of our atmosphere, to changes in temperature, etc. To deny that climate changes would be to assert that the earth was created just as it is only a few moments ago. Global warming is also a fact. There is no denying it. It can be seen on the land, in the sea, on the highest mountains. Whether 99% or 50% of it or what is due to a natural trend, we cannot say with scientific certainty, because we do not know everything there is to know--a shock for some, I'm sure.
The problem is that if the alarmists, who are in the majority, are correct, about global warming, and about the role of greenhouse gases, then the consequences for mankind will be severe. A prudent person would say, let's minimize the risk. The fact that alarmists are in the majority does not necessarily make them right: truth is not a matter of democratic vote. On the other hand, when a fringe position has been well-considered and refuted, then one might well go ahead and call a spade a spade and say that their views do not represent the state of the art. You can believe that the sun revolves around the earth if you wish, and some people still do, but their view is not widely held either.
Joint statement of the eleven leading science academies on earth:
"There will always be uncertainty in understanding a system as complex as the world’s climate. However there is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring. The evidence comes from direct measurements of rising surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures and from phenomena such as increases in average global sea levels, retreating glaciers, and changes to many physical and biological systems. It is likely that most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities. This warming has already led to changes in the Earth's climate." (
One of the best tests of a theory is its predictive value. Read this 1959 Scientific American article on carbon dioxide and climate, reposted by them a couple of years ago, at http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=carbon-dioxide-and-climate, and check out its prediction: 
"We shall be able to test the carbon dioxide theory against other theories of climatic change quite conclusively during the next half-century. Since we now can measure the sun's energy output independent of the distorting influence of the atmosphere, we shall see whether the earth's temperature trend correlates with measured fluctuations in solar radiation. If volcanic dust is the more important factor, then we may observe the earth's temperature following fluctuations in the number of large volcanic eruptions. But if carbon dioxide is the most important factor, long-term temperature records will rise continuously as long as man consumes the earth's reserves of fossil fuels." (copyright 1959 by Scientific American.) Guess what: long-term temperature records have risen continuously for the last 50 years, just as predicted.

Some of my friends take me to task for supporting Sarah Palin if she ever runs for waitress.  I don't mean to denigrate her at all.  I love waitresses, and I think that I would enjoy having her serve a meal, along with getting a little commentary on the side.  She is disarming, and I think that I could relax around her--let my hair down, so to speak.  I think she would make good company, and I would probably enjoy sharing a meal with her.  In fact, I would like to do so.  She is a good lady, and she certainly means well.  But I don't think that she has the intellect to make a good president.

I don't see any signs that she has the ability to understand both sides of controversial issues.  She may be able to repeat some of the other argument, but I don't think that she can actually grasp any views other than her own.  I get the impression that, in her mind, she already "knows" the answers to all the important issues. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's the way I see her. Our president has to be able to completely understand all sides of the issues.

"Winners never quit and quitters never win"--Vince Lombardi.

Why do people show off their children as if they were prize bulls?  Of course you're proud of your children; if you weren't, I'd have to say there's something wrong with you.   But why add to the pressure they're already living with?  Looking at bumper stickers such as "My kid can beat up your honor student" suggests to me that bragging so publicly could make such students more the target of bullies than they already are. Just a thought....

Have you ever noticed how frequently people will wait long periods of time, cars idling and polluting the air, in order to get a parking space close to a building entrance--even though there are zillions of open parking spaces farther away? Have you ever noticed that those who wait the longest are usually people who are most in need of exercise?  We could probably save millions of gallons of gasoline each year if we had a tiered parking system, whereby those who are the most overweight would have to park farthest away...I know it's not politically correct to criticize obesity, but the health of the people of our great nation is more important than political correctness.


You might think that heading west in order to go east is not that brilliant an idea, but almost every day I see instances where people could use this "Columbus trick" to save gas, time and hassle.  If you are trying to turn left onto a street with a lot of traffic approaching from the left sometimes it is easier to turn right and then make a u-turn.

The best example, and one that creates the most annoyance for me, is at major intersections, such as freeway underpasses, where there is a filling station or store on the right-hand corner at the red light.  People who have finished their business at the corner store and want to continue travelling on the feeder (or make a left turn and go under the freeway) would normally just get back on the feeder, but when traffic is backed up, as during rush hour, they have to wait for someone in the backed up traffic to let them in.  This inconveniences everyone in line and lets fewer vehicles through the red light, especially when the person leaving the gas station is trying to cross all the lanes of traffic.  In such cases it is often ludicrously easier--and faster--to exit that corner store or gas station by getting directly on the cross street, then making a u-turn so as to hit the red light from the cross street.  Going out of their way by a few hundred yards would save everyone time and trouble in the long run.


Some parents, in their "minds," think that they are safeguarding their children by picking them up from school instead of making them walk or take the bus (I guess they must have royal blood, and buses are only for commoners like you and I.)  What kind of safety is it that they provide when, by doing so in droves, they block the access of emergency vehicles to the schools?  Some intersections around schools are completely gridlocked as parents wait in long lines of cars to pick up their children after school; one such intersection in Houston is pictured above. 

Quote of the Day
The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things.
Henry Ward Beecher
more Famous Quotes

I was in a supermarket the other day and had a purchase of $7.59. I gave the cashier a $10 and 60 cents. She mistakenly rang up the amount tendered as $100, and then had no idea what change to give me. Fortunately, there was a lady behind me who was an off-duty cashier at another store, and she came to the rescue--with a hand held calculator!  I find it difficult to imagine that any public school graduate would require a calculator for such a simple calculation.
Cashiers these days, especially the younger ones, seem genuinely puzzled when you give them odd change along with a paper bill when the paper bill you hand them is larger than your purchase amount.  They keep trying to give the odd change back. Maybe schools should start teaching children how to think instead of what to think--teaching how we know what we know would be a good start--instead of having them memorize random data intended for the sole purpose of passing a standardized state test. 

When a certain large corporation "rolls back" its prices, how come they never apologize for the old, high prices? Shouldn't they be offering us refunds since they are admitting that they overcharged us?  Just a thought...

Mechanics and handymen have a saying, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. If only baseball managers possessed this same wisdom. Time and again, managers will pull a pitcher who is doing quite well at getting opposing batters out, the only apparent reason being that in the managerial "mind," the last inning can only be pitched by their so-called "closer."
Did congress pass a law mandating that only certain pitchers could pitch the ninth innings? Is there something different about pitching a ninth inning that requires a special pitcher? They don't change the strike zone or the height of the pitcher's mound or any other physical parameters during the ninth inning, so what's so special about it?
Former Houston Astro "closer" Brad "homerun" Lidge (who has, thankfully, finally been traded) went through a streak in 2006 when he could do no right, yet the Astros kept putting him in during tight games, which the Astros would then proceed to lose. It became so ridiculous at one point that some fans--including myself--began to seriously wonder if someone was throwing the games.
I remember being shocked when Lidge was interviewed after a playoff loss in 2005 in which he had given up a game-losing homerun. He didn't hang his head. He insisted that it was not his fault, that he had made a good pitch, and that if he were in the same situation again, he would make the same pitch. Let me translate for you: he would throw a homerun pitch to the same player again in the same circumstances. 

Sometimes, Lidge looks like the best pitcher in baseball.  I don't blame him for having a period of time when nothing worked. It happens to all of us. I DO blame the manager for continuing to put him in under those circumstances, causing the other players to be demoralized, which was a separate negative influence on the club's performance. Lidge might get over his funk and end up in Cooperstown, but that won't change the managerial stupidity that affected the Astros in 2006. 

We all have days when things don't go right. Whether you are bowling, playing darts, or pitching major league baseball, you might not be able to do well on any given day. And you can't necessarily tell ahead of time. The point is, anytime you change a pitcher, you run the risk that the pitcher you put in, no matter how good he might be normally, might not even be able to get out a little leaguer on that particular day. So if you have a pitcher who seems to be on top of his game, even if he is given the title "middle reliever," why pull him for a closer who can't close?

If Astro players were only half as discouraged as the fans when Lidge was put in, players had to have had the attitude "why should we even try." No wonder Roger Clemens went back to the Yankees. Managerial stupidity deprived Clemens of several wins.

Popular opinion to the contrary notwithstanding, I don't think Clemens cared that much about a few million extra dollars: he already had more money than any normal person could spend in many lifetimes. But what he DID care about was winning. And Astro stupidity deprived him of several wins. At his age, he knew he wouldn't have many more opportunities. He was forced to turn the game balls over to someone who, at the time, was virtually guaranteed to lose the game. If I were Clemens, I would have been more than infuriated. I can't believe he would have taken ANY amount of money to play for the Astros again.

Similarly, I have seen managers put in a left-handed pitcher (LHP) to face a left-handed batter (LHB), even though the LHP had a much worse ERA than the pitcher he replaced--and the left-hander's horrendous ERA came primarily while facing left-handers. I remember in particular an Astro playoff game against Atlanta a few years ago when the pitcher being replaced, although right-handed, not only was pitching well, but had a much better ERA against left-handers than the pitcher who replaced him. I know that the manager, in his "mind," was thinking, "I have to get a left-hander. Who do I have available?" The results, of course, were predictable. I understand that in general, it seems to make sense to put in a LHP to face a LHB--but only when you look at the comparative statistic of all left-handers vs LHBs, or all right-handers vs LHBs. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

FAVORITE QUOTE: "As we know, there are known knowns. There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns. That is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don't know we don't know."--D.H. Rumsfeld.

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All content on this site, including pictures, is copyrighted, ©2006 through 2016, by George A. Butel.  All rights are reserved; text may be quoted freely with attribution, but critical commentary must give me the opportunity to reply.

Visit our hints for cancer patients Google page, which tells you some of the things I learned during cancer treatment, including a few things that "they" forget to tell you, such as having to be a little bit "anal" about trying to prevent opportunistic infections. I never had any during my treatment, so I think my obsession paid off.


This site has tips and observations about dealing with parrots, and a few of my own views about human and parrot health concerns. I have a degree in biochemistry, so I am qualified to make some statements about foods, medicines and supplements, but I am neither a veterinarian nor a physician, and I do not practice human or veterinary medicine. You should certainly double-check any ideas you might get from me, or anything that you might construe as advice, by consulting with an appropriate legally licensed professional.  All content on this site ©2006 through 2014 by George A. Butel.  If you see any typos or any information that you feel is inaccurate or ambiguous, please contact me by clicking here.
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