When you routinely commute on public transportation – and trains in particular – you tend to see some of the same folk. Sometimes you even get the chance to sit in your favorite seat and next to someone with the same habit. You strike up polite conversation before each delves into a video game, surfing the net, reading email, or perhaps just reading; like me.
But then, there are others you see regularly from a distance and all you can do is watch their antics with horror and/or amusement. Those standing are the funniest. For near seven months now I have been commuting on BART; San Francisco Bay Area’s famed train system. And I have come to notice a few individuals for whom life’s recurring lessons seem to come as a complete surprise each time the lesson is taught.
Humans have thus far not managed to ignore laws of nature. We’re working on it but if PhD scientists are still trying to figure out how to counter gravity or travel faster than the speed of light, I know the brain-trust that populates BART every day is certainly not going to succeed in ignoring the effects of inertia or momentum.
Worded differently – just in case one of those idiots is reading this – if the train starts to move and you’re not holding on to something, you’re going to fall over; that’s inertia at work. If the train is moving, starts to slow down and you’re not holding on to something, you’re going to fall over. That’s momentum at work.
Now I know the young and energetic amongst us think that standing as if they have crapped their pants will insulate them against the effects of inertia and/or momentum, but it won’t. They prove that to me – and you’d hope themselves – every day. And so it was again this morning that the same several rejects from humanity’s gene-pool were standing in the middle of the train car as it started to slow. Preoccupied with whatever on their cellphones it is that captivates their little minds, they stumbled about much as I imagine rejects from a Bolshoi Ballet Boot-camp. Again they looked surprised.
It happens every bloody day people! Can you not learn the simplest of lessons that life teaches us? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the very definition of insanity; or in this case stupidity.
If it were not for the fact that smarter people around them, holding onto something more secure than a cell phone or back-pack, get knocked about or trodden on, this daily spectacle would be hilarious. Although today it was funny. Today I had a special treat.
Not only did the train slow down as it approach my station, causing the usual retards to pirouette, it quickly sped up sending them stumbling in the opposite direction. Oh, but there’s more … when the train finally stopped it was not positioned properly. The driver very clearly (and unusually) announced, “Ladies and gentlemen (forgetting to include retards and morons), please remain seated or hold on as I re-position the train.” But wouldn’t you know it, as soon as the train started to move these SAME people fell over again!!
Rather than puff and blow and tut and roll your eyes in complaint that BART trains and nature conspire daily to ruin your commute, try holding on to something secure. You may be pleasantly surprised. It’s Just a thought.
PS: On the journey home, I was treated to an event that in the world of theater would be described as a standing ovation. I could not help but overhear a conversation between a young woman – standing but not holding on to anything more than her handbag, backpack and briefcase – talking the ear off a poor (but polite) fellow passenger about how BART trains stop and start and cause her to lose her balance. He too was not holding on to anything meaningful, just his cell phone; you see, guys travel lite! Anyway, after all the whinging and moaning, she clearly hadn’t learnt her lesson. Because in the middle of her regaling this fellow of examples, the BART train stopped; suddenly. And she inelegantly triple-salchow’ed her way across the car. So here’s another thought: if you have experienced stop/start problems with BART trains enough to warrant bending another passenger’s ear, wouldn’t you have long since figured out what to do? It made my day.
“If you like your bomb, you can keep your bomb; period.” After listening and reading these past several days to news and views of the current Iranian nuclear negotiations – and I use the word loosely – I’m hoping the details of the framework turn out to be as reliable as the sales pitch Obama gave the hapless citizens of the USA when he promised we could keep our healthcare plan and doctor if we liked them; “period.” Of course we all now know that was rubbish.
Perhaps when all the rules and regulations emerge in detail from the framework agreement, the Iranian leadership will read them and say, “Wait a freakin’ minute. I thought you said …” And when that day comes, we’ll see rioting in the streets of Tehran rather than the delighted Iranian youth we saw punching the air as they drove through the streets of the city celebrating their negotiators’ success. If it were not so serious, it would be funny to imagine the Ayatollah wondering what went wrong when his negotiators sat in Lucerne listening to Team-Obama yodeling. He thought they got all they wanted in return for which they gave up a $25 Starbucks gift card to each member of their 6-nation negotiating opponents.
Alas, and from all that I have read and heard, this framework is an embarrassing and dangerous fiasco. I’ve previously invoked George Orwell’s name and mentioned his famous book, “1984”, to illustrate how politicians love to re-write history; even when what they said is only a few days old and on video clips all over the Internet. But Obama breaks new ground. He’s a unique blend of Orwell and Aesop. Obama spins a fairy tale, makes outrageous predictions and when the facts come rolling in, he crafts an entirely new fairy tale that fits perfectly with his interpretation of facts; not the actual facts that the rest of us hear, but those that he can twist and make us think we have a hearing problem.
In the book “1984” the government-controlled news media would re-write yesterday’s news and re-publish it to fit better today’s actual events. With Obama, he doesn’t even bother with real-world events; he creates a world of fantasy. So not only is his original fantasy out of step with reality, so too is every version thereafter. The universe in which Obama lives is not even parallel to ours. His disappears off in random directions. Listening to him breathlessly extol the key points and virtues of this historic non-agreement was hilarious; for a brief moment only.
Apparently his team in Switzerland has extracted what will be “unprecedented” access to Iranian nuclear facilities as a means of ensuring they remain honest; that they will be forced to abide by the terms of an agreement that will unfold between now and the end of June. Really?
Cuckoos In Switzerland
From my point of view, two things are wrong with this picture – actually three but let’s ignore the fact that we elected this idiot in the first place – the first being that we have been told “sanctions don’t work” and the other that the choice the world faces is either a deal or war: no middle ground here, just a deal or a punch-up. On the first point we should all be confused. Apparently sanctions are what drove Iranian’s to the negotiating table. We also hear from the lame-stream media that these sanctions have been crippling. Cool. So explain to me again why Obama and Kerry (God that man is stupid too) insist that when Republicans and others suggest imposing even tougher sanctions, they apparently “don’t work”?
On point number two, this choice between a deal and war is at best fatuous. Obama, using his most sanctimonious tone of voice, invites people to offer credible alternatives to his approach. The problem is he and Kerry get to decide what is and is not credible. They can dismiss any and every reasonable alternative –such as tightening the thumb-screws on the Iranians – and so perpetuate their narrative that to avoid war, he had no choice but to accept Iran’s offer of a cuckoo clock for everyone on his team. After all, it’s better than war. Right?
Unless this deal, scheduled to unfold by the end of June, turns out to be as big a lie to the Iranians as ObamaCare was to the US tax-payers, Iran can look forward to the Obama-Bomb they want. Only this time Obama will deliver on his promise.
We all know, and have little choice but to accept, that taxes are a part of life; indeed one of the two certainties of life, the other being death. Now that we are in the midst of tax season and by April 15th we’re all supposed to have our tax returns (or extensions thereof) filed, I’m reminded of the stark reality of just how much money Government picks from our pockets.
Philosophically I have little issue with the concept of paying some money to the Government so that it can pool it with others and spend it on things that are of national benefit; such as defending our Liberty; keeping us safe as it were. My issue with taxation is that more and more of it erodes our income while the money is spent on who-knows-what. Those we elect are incapable of keeping their hands out of our pockets. It seems to me that once in public office they feel theirs is a solemn duty to tax us for causes we didn’t know existed, and they never mentioned, when they ran for office.
The big taxes are obviously Federal and State; where those States have them. But other, smaller, taxes at the County and City level are insidious. Yeah, we all know about sales tax. We know about tax on the purchase of a leased vehicle that gets taxed again if we buy the car at the end of the lease. And let’s not forget those property taxes that increase with the value of our homes but didn’t decrease when the economy hit the skids; at least not mine.
Counties and Cities like the same action as the Feds and the State. I live in Walnut Creek (California). It’s grown since I first migrated there in 1994. We have over the years acquired some high-value stores: like Tiffany and Neiman Marcus. We have some of the country’s finest restaurants in our bucolic little city. So you’d think we’re not short of tax revenue. But like the Federal Government we have a revenue problem. Not a spending problem mind you; but a revenue problem. Our elected officials are spending the money faster than it’s coming in so we need to “git some more”. Can’t stop spending; oh no, no. So let’s go and pick some more pockets to support our binge spending.
“A Sin Tax”?
Back in 1996 when I first met my now wife, she mentioned along the way something euphemistically called a “sin tax”. As best I can remember it was a tax on things that “Government” decided were a sin; cigarettes, alcohol etc. The idea being that this tax would discourage people buying and consuming these sinful products. So say’th those faceless bureaucrats who apparently know better than we what is best for us.
Now enter the “Bag Tax”; coming to a city near you. If you live in a city that does not yet have this tax, hold your breath fore it’s a-comin’. Toward the end of 2014 the City elders of Walnut Creek decided – in their infinite wisdom – to not only ban the use of plastic bags for things like groceries (and something Dear Gerry is considering for State law), but legislate that at least 10c must be added to your grocery bill if you chose to have your groceries bagged in paper. Worded differently, the previous and decades old choice of “plastic or paper” has been reduced to “paper and that’ll cost you 10c”. So not only have these elected officials taken away one of those two options, they have taxed (ooops, my bad, it’s a “fee” not a tax) the only left.
I’m all for trying to keep our environment clean. Although I’ve not bought into this man-made “Climate Change” phenomenon (that used to be called “Global Warming” until we figured out the globe wasn’t warming), I have to admit that keeping our planet cleaner is a good thing. So I endorse the Walnut Creek City Counsel for banning the plastic bags that frequent our creeks, rivers, ponds, and other waterways etc. But why the 10c tax on a paper bag? With a little research I discovered that the Council wants people to go “BYOB” (Bring Your Own Bag) shopping. They obviously consider paper bags made from recycled paper bags to be environmentally unfriendly and therefore a sin. So either, bring your own bag, go without, or be forced to pay for one if you forgot. So we can add another sin tax to the list with this 10c per bag tax. Sorry, there I go again, I keep forgetting it’s a FEE not a tax. Silly me.
He Who Has Not Sinned
If Government really wants its citizens to quit being sinful, then be honest and ban the product. Taxing it in the hopes it will persuade people to change their habit is hypocrisy. Wow. Who would have thought politicians could be hypocrites?! Back to the point: the 10c tax/fee is all about revenue disguised as some greater environmental good. It is not. It’s about taking more money from the citizenry to swell the city coffers. They banned plastic bags so they could equally ban paper bags and remain faithful to their environmental agenda. But all the while the council is content to collect revenue – and therefore profit – from some perceive sin, it’s nothing more than a sin-ful tax.