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Friday, November 26, 2010

The Stella Awards

It's time again for the annual "Stella Awards."  For those unfamiliar with these awards, they are named after 81-year-old Stella Liebeck who spilled hot coffee on herself and successfully sued the McDonald's in New Mexico , where she purchased coffee.  You remember, she took the lid off the coffee and put it between her knees while she was driving.  Who would ever think one could get burned doing that, right?  That's right; these are awards for the most outlandish lawsuits and verdicts in the U.S.   You know, the kinds of cases that make you scratch your head and say WTF.  So keep your head scratcher handy.
 
Here are the Stellas for the past year: 
  
*   SEVENTH PLACE   *  
Kathleen Robertson of Austin , Texas , was awarded $80,000 by a jury of her peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running inside a furniture store.  The store owners were understandably surprised by the verdict, considering the running toddler was her own son.
Start scratching!
 
* SIXTH PLACE   *  
Carl Truman, 19, of Los Angeles , California , won $74,000 plus medical expenses when his neighbor ran over his hand with a Honda Accord. Truman apparently didn't notice there was someone at the wheel of the car when he was trying to steal his neighbor's hubcaps.
Scratch some more...
 
* FIFTH PLACE *  
Terrence Dickson, of Bristol , Pennsylvania , who was leaving a house he had just burglarized by way of the garage.  Unfortunately for Dickson, the automatic garage door opener malfunctioned and he could not get the garage door to open.  Worse, he couldn't re-enter the house because the door connecting the garage to the house locked when Dickson pulled it shut.  Forced to sit for eight, count 'em, EIGHT days and survive on a case of Pepsi and a large bag of dry dog food, he sued the homeowner's insurance company claiming undue mental anguish.  Amazingly, the jury said the insurance company must pay Dickson $500,000 for his anguish.  We should all have this kind of anguish.  Keep scratching .. There are more......
Double hand scratching after this one.....
 
* FOURTH PLACE *  
Jerry Williams, of Little Rock, Arkansas, garnered 4th Place in the Stella's when he was awarded $14,500 plus medical expenses after being bitten on the butt by his next door neighbor's beagle - even though the beagle was on a chain in its owner's fenced yard.  Williams did not get as much as he asked for because the jury believed the beagle might have been provoked at the time of the butt bite because Williams had climbed over the fence into the yard and repeatedly shot the dog with a pellet gun.
Pick a new spot to scratch, you're getting a bald spot..
 
* THIRD PLACE *  
Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, because a jury ordered a Philadelphia restaurant to pay her $113,500 after she slipped on a spilled soft drink and broke her tailbone.  The reason the soft drink was on the floor: Ms. Carson had thrown it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument.
Only two more so ease up on the scratching....
 
*SECOND PLACE*  
Kara Walton, of Claymont , Delaware , sued the owner of a night club in a  nearby city because she fell from the bathroom window to the floor, knocking out her two front teeth.  Even though Ms.Walton was trying to sneak through the ladies room window to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge, the jury said the night club had to pay her $12,000 ..... oh, yeah, plus dental expenses.    
OK.  Here we go!!
 
* FIRST PLACE *  
This year's runaway First Place Stella Award winner was:  Mrs. Merv Grazinski, of Oklahoma City , Oklahoma , who purchased new 32-foot Winnebago motor home.  On her first trip home, from an OU football game, having driven on to the freeway, she set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver's seat to go to the back of the Winnebago to make herself a sandwich.  Not surprisingly, the motor home left the freeway, crashed and overturned.  Also not surprisingly, Mrs. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not putting in the owner's manual that she couldn't actually leave the driver's seat while the cruise control was set.  The Oklahoma jury awarded her -- are you sitting down? --- $1,750,000 PLUS a new motor home.  Winnebago actually changed their manuals as a result of this suit, just in case Mrs. Grazinski has any relatives who might also buy a motor home. 

Are we, as a society, getting more stupid ....
or are more members of Congress
serving on juries these days?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Gas prices on an increase?

I just finished reading an article on the CourierOnline.com site about gas prices have been increasing. Even though the average price for a gallon of gas in New Jersey is less then the national average, it's still a $0.30+ per gallon increase from a year ago.
But you have to give the oil companies credit. They do learn from the past. How many people remember the gas shortages of the 70's? In those days the shortage was for gas under $1.00 per gallon. When the price of gas was allowed to stay above that price, by some miracle that gas shortage disappeared.
Now, we fast forward 30 years. The oil companies try the same ploy again by shoving the gas prices up near $4.00 per gallon. In some places in the US the price IS over $4.00. But the public didn't sheepishly accept the price increases. There were accusations of price fixing and price gouging. There were calls for state and federal government investigations (even by those hypocritical Teabaggers who want no government regulation of any industry). The oil companies have to back off with their price increases. Interesting how the price of gas dropped under the threat of government investigations. Hmm. Anyone remember how much in profits they posted every year? All I remember that they were obscene profits all the while they were crying poor-mouth.
So, what are they doing now? Now the oil companies increase prices slowly over a period of time. They use the frog analogy as their price increasing strategy. What's the frog analogy?
It goes something like this. If you drop a frog in a beaker of hot water, the frog will immediately react by jumping out. However, if you drop a frog into a beaker of room temperature water and slowly raise the water temp, the frog will sit contently until it is boiled to death. This latter example is what the oil companies' pricing strategy is based on. This is the method they will use to increasing take more money out of the consumers' pocket and put even more into their own.
What's the future have in store?
The oil companies will stay with this strategy because this keeps government investigations off their "backs" and allows the politicians, that the oil companies bought, to deflect the consumers' complaints. They will maintain the gas prices artificially high so that when the oil companies release alternative means of powering our cars and industry (which will validate the rumors that the oil companies have bought up, procured those patents and locked up), they can price them just below the current gas prices but still extremely artificially high. All to insure the obscene profits for the oil companies. Want an example of how the oil companies think? Just look at how they acted during the Gulf Oil Spill.

How accurate is Jim Cramer?

I've watched his TV show periodically. And I can tell you that I come away with the idea that Jim Cramer is load and very over-opinionated. All that aside, I've never been able to determine how accurate his "analysis" actually are. Is he able to sway the market with his comments and suggestions? I'd be curious to know. Because if I became an avid viewer of his show or a purchaser of his book, what would I actually learn?

Will Someone Please Get Those Companies Under Control

Saturday night we had a situation with our cable service.  Along with the cable TV, we have our phone service with the cable company and our Internet access.  Talk about putting all your eggs in one basket.  Fortunately, we don't have our cell phone service with the cable company.  So, our cable service is off and I use my cell phone to call the cable company to find out what is going on, if they are aware of the outage, if they are what kind of response time can we expect, etc.  Of course, I get an automated response.  Now, this is where things get annoying.  First of all, the automated voice message tells me that I can access support via their web site.  Well, I'm not going to be able to do so...everything is out.  So I wait for the message to finish.  Once it is done, what do I end up hearing?  I hear an advertisement for their new movie rental service they are offering and if I am interested I should press 1 otherwise keep waiting.  I keep waiting.  What do I hear next?  I hear another ANOTHER advertisement about ordering their sports package.  GEEEZZZ!!!  I'm told to press 1 if I am interested in ordering it or to keep waiting.  I keep waiting.  Over 4 minutes have gone by at this time and I have hey to hear any options that would be of direct help to me.  Finally, I start hearing the options about the type of problems I may be having.  Press 1 if I am having trouble with the cable TV, press 2 if I am having trouble with my phone, press 3 if I am having trouble with my Internet.  What??  No option if I am having trouble with all 3?!?  So, I have to pick one.  I chose 1. 
NOW I get a whole new set of options.  Press 1 if you have a blank screen, press 2 if you have a snowy screen, etc.  I'm brain has already gone on vacation.  So, I press 1.  Now the automated voice starts to tell me steps on troubleshooting my problem (i.e. make sure the cable box is plugged in, make sure the cables are connected properly, etc.).  We're now over 6 minutes into the call.  After the lengthy dissertation on telling me how I should trouble shoot my problem I get to hear another set of options...press 1 to repeat the instructions again or keep waiting to speak to a customer rep.  Wow!!  I MAY be able to speak to a real person and only after 6+ minutes.  Hey, we don't want to disturb any customer service reps or inconvenience them with a phone call.  After all, the amount of money we pay for our cable service (basic + premium + digital + High Def + Voice + Internet; remember, you can't get Hi-Def without getting every level below it) we have to put up with automated responses.  Now I finally get to talk to a rep and I tell her that all of my cable services are out and I wanted to know what the problem was and how long before it is resolved.  What kind of response do I get from the rep?  She asks me if my cable TV is on.  I tell her that everything is out.  She asks me about Voice.  Now I'm getting slightly annoyed.  I tell her in no uncertain terms and in a very calm voice that when I say all of my cable services are out, that's what they are...out, not working, nothing is displayed, no dial tone, no access to the Internet. 
After all of this she finally babbles a whole bunch of stuff at me that I can barely comprehend (i.e. ticket will be generated, etc.).  I repeatedly ask "What is the problem and when will it be fixed?"  FINALLY, she tells me that they are experiencing low signal strengths in my area and the engineers (engineers?? Real engineers??  People with real engineering degrees??) are working to correct the problem.  Once again (or is it for the third time) I ask how long before it is corrected.  She tells that it should be corrected in 30 to 45 minutes.  And that as soon as the problem is resolved I would be getting a call notifying me of that.
Really?  Well, that was over 4 hours ago that the problem was resolved and I never received a call or notification.  What a surprise.  My neighbor and I took a walk around the neighborhood and ran into the "engineer" who turned out to be a repair/installation technician. 
So, the whole point?  That customer service sucks in this country IF you can ever talk to a real person.  Corporations are so greedy for that almighty buck (trust me when I tell you that our cable bill is NOT in the double digits, it is in the triple digits) that they will put your though their automated response system in hopes that a) you buy more of their crap, or 2) you just go away and not inconvenience them by forcing them to spend any more money then they absolutely have to.  And if you are that much of a masochist as to hang on in hopes of connecting with a real person, you will more then likely end up talking to a dolt who gets paid minimum wage (after all, the high wages are reserved for the executives and managers that don't add any value to the operation) and just read scripted lines out of binder they are given. 
This is why I don't like calling any company about any problems.  This is their way of keeping those annoying calls to a minimum.
That's why I prefer to use PlanetFeedback.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Hypocrisy of the Republicans

Did you about the one incoming House Republican freshman that  is already complaining that the affordable health care coverage he gets FOR FREE as a Member of Congress doesn't start soon enough for him?!  This is the candidate that the Teabaggers elected to congress.  This is the same Republican that defeated a moderate Democrat in large part over the health care law debate.  Republican Rep.-elect Andy Harris denies the stories that he threw a hissy-fit over a question about his new congressional health care coverage, that he'd have to wait a month for his federal health care coverage to kick in.   Awww, poor baby.  There other families in America that have no health insurance today, tomorrow, or in one month.  But he has to throw a tantrum over the fact that he has to wait a month.  Politico and other outlets described Republican Rep.-elect Andy Harris as throwing a bit of a hissy-fit earlier this week over this issue.  They received their information from multiple, independant sources who were at that same meeting as Andy Harris was. 
I think there are many other Republican health care hypocrites out there.  Don't you?  So, I signed a petition that asks whether House Republicans will stand by their words by refusing the tax-payer funded health care benefits they get before trying to repeal health care reform and make it harder for all Americans to get affordable coverage.  I want to hold the Republicans' feet to the fire by exposing all of the health care hypocrites in their ranks. So sign the petition, too.  Let's see how strong the Republican's principles really are.




Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell

I watched and listened to Congressman Mica and now I know why I hate Republicans.

A great quote that is applicable today...especially after last Tuesday's elections.

Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.-- Mark Twain

Camden NJ's Treasure House of History

A little Camden County NJ history.

Gov Christie takes on the school administrators. Is this for real?

OMG!! I think I agree with Christie. And he's NOT going after the teachers. Good thing I was sitting down when I saw this video.

New Jersey Legislators Take on the TSA

I tend to agree with this. Where is the line that shouldn't be crossed? What do you think?

GOP to jobless: Drop dead

Great article by Steven Pearlstein of the Washington Post.

Mitch McConnell is an asshole.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Extend The Tax Cuts For The Super-Rich? What the f*&$ for??

I need some clarification here. I keep hearing the Republicans pushing for the extension of the Bush tax cuts for the Top 2% in the US.
Now, they keep saying that these tax cuts are needed for these people because they are then ones that create the jobs. Now, I hear this and I wonder…if they’ve gotten this tax cut since the Bush administration, why haven’t they created those jobs since THEN? What are they waiting for? Let me see if I understand this.

1. The Bush Tax Cuts were enacted in 2001 and 2003. At the least, they’ve been in affect for 7 years.
2. During that period of time more jobs were moved overseas then were created.

So, someone explain to me again why the Bush Tax Cuts should be extended. Is it because they worked so well in the past? Is it because of the million of jobs that were created in the past 7 years? Is it because those tax cuts facilitated an incredible increase to the standard of living to the rest of the population. Is it because they facilitated better health care coverage for everyone or even the less fortunate?

I really need to know that actual, real reason for extending these tax cuts.

On the other hand, don’t those same recipients of the Bush Tax Cuts the same ones that use and expect more of the country’s resources that they don’t want to pay for? And isn’t it true that these top earners don't spend as much of their income as lower earners?

Can someone explain to me how letting the tax cuts expire for those in the highest tax brackets would hurt small businesses? The tax cuts were in affect from at least 2003 and it didn’t seem to help small businesses. Again, can someone tell me how many private sector jobs were created compared to how many moved overseas? Someone explain to me why the tax cuts shouldn’t be allowed to expire that affect less than 2 percent of tax returns reporting small-business income that are filed by taxpayers in the top two income brackets (individuals earning more than about $170,000 a year and families earning more than about $210,000 a year). Explain to me how extending the tax cut helps the other 98%.

Can someone explain to me how making the Bush Tax Cuts permanent would lead to long-term growth? I’m trying to understand how this can be when making the tax cuts permanent would raise government debt? And wouldn’t higher government debt lead to higher interest rates? And we’ve had the Bush Tax Cuts since 2003 and weren’t the economic growth during that time an illusion as demonstrated by the financial collapse during the last couple of months of the Bush Administration? Now I remember being alive during that time and I don’t remember it the way the Republican Revisionists do. I remember Bush’s Treasury Secretary saying that the financial institutions were going to collapse unless the US government bailed them out. I also remember him presenting Congress with a 1 page proposal and stating that he could avert the financial disaster if they game him the $780 billion with no oversight and no questions asked.
So, again, why do the Bush Tax Cuts need to be extended for the Top 2% of the income household?

The only thing that makes ANY sense for extending the Bush Tax Cut for the Top 2% of the income household in America is that these are the same people who bought and paid for the Republican Party. I don’t understand why the Republican Party leadership just doesn’t stand up for their principles. Those principles being that they have an obligation to those that have paid them, given them money, promised them cushy, do-nothing jobs after they leave office. That they don’t care about the people that elected them to represent them in Congress.

The Republicans are being obstructionists...still.

Have you heard that the Republican leadership has pretty much shown their usually disrepect of The President. This aired on the Ed Show today. It's completely offensive that then Republicans will go to any length to not do their jobs and help the people that they are PAID to represent.



Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Number Of Uninsured Has Risen


I just finished reading an article in the NY Times where they stated that according to a report put out by the CDC, that the number of people who do not have health insurance has risen. The same study showed that the increase was among those under 65 and who had an income that was 3 times the poverty level.


So, what does this mean? It means that the Teabaggers and Conservatives who opposed any health industry reform are basically ignorant of any facts and that they lied during their "discussion" about this issue.


One lie that this report dispels is that only the poor are uninsured. Half of the uninsured are over the poverty level.

The other lie from the Teabaggers and the Conservatives is that only healthy people are uninsured, that young people are healthy and make a choice not to be insured.

But in reality, the report showed that two of every of five people without insurance during the previous year had at least one chronic condition, like diabetes, hypertension or asthma, and were far more likely than insured people to go without care they needed.

So, Teabaggers, Conservatives, and Republicans what have you to say for yourselves? Some more of your lies have been exposed. How can you call yourselves Christians while actively working to deprive others of their basic needs? How do you expect us to tolerate you living among us decent and caring people? And how will you answer St Peter at the Pearly Gates when you are asked about how devote were you in helping your fellow man?


I live by the Golden Rule, Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You. What rule do you live by?


Monday, November 15, 2010

Jon Stewart Kept The Voters Away From The Polls



Recently I watched Rachel Maddow interview Jon Stewart. Just the previous week Bill Maher mentioned Jon Stewart and his recent rally in Washington DC where Jon Stewart drew comparisons between the Progressives and the Conservatives. Essentially, Stewart said that both sides were equally guilty of lying and using "Fear tactics", etc. This is what Bill Maher criticized Stewart for...saying that the Progressives were as bad as the Conservatives. This angered me as much as it angered Bill Maher that he commented on in his New Rules.

During the Rachel Maddow interview Stewart defended his statement and tried to justify it by citing comments made by Progressives about George W Bush. But what Stewart doesn't seem to realize or even take into account is that what Progressives say is essentially true. What the Conservatives have been saying are lies. Death Panels? Obama being a Muslim? Come on! Enough of this ass-kissing the Conservatives. Yes, I know that they are like the spoiled bully-boy on the block. If you don't do things their way, they are just as dangerous as that bully.


So, what was the whole purpose of Stewart's rally and subsequent interview? I think that Stewart wanted a "Chip in the Game". He repeatedly said that he wasn't a commentator but a satirist. OK. So, what was the point of your statement comparing the Progressives and the Conservatives? Were you meaning to be satirical? Because as far as I am concerned they are not equally to blame for the current situation. But then I am not Stewart's target viewers. You know who are? The 18-29 year olds. And do you know which voter age range stayed away from the polls this past election? Yep, the 18-29 year olds.

Now, could it be that they stayed away because they believed what Stewart said that both sides are mirror images of each other and there is no difference between them? That there's no point in voting because it wouldn't make a difference? I think that it's interesting that the post-election survey's show that Stewart's viewer demographic make-up seemed to be the same ones that stayed away from the polls.

You decide. But I also think that Stewart wanted to "play" in the game and maybe wanted to show that he has as much sway with his viewers as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck have with theirs.

Well, Teabaggers...You Got Your Wish


So, with a tremendous amount of glee and cheering, the Conservatives/Teabaggers got their wish. They wanted the people that enabled them to focus on their own wants at the cost of others, those that sold out the country for the personal gain of a very select number of people in the US, and the continuation of the social and moral principles of the United States to gain back control of the House of Representative. Well, whoopi for you.

Here's a news flash for you. You were conned! Well, I hope you all get everything you deserve and that the rest of us decent people in the country don't end up paying for it....AGAIN.

And finally, 2 things I want you Conservative/Teabaggers to remember -



  1. When you actually see the truth of what you did...don't belly ache about it. Suck it up and take it for all of us. After all, you'll be to blame.

  2. As that great American Forrest Gump once said, and this applies directly to the Conservative/Teabaggers, "Stupid is as stupid does".

I know deep down in my heart that because of the amount of social and moral principles you all have that there is a special place in Hell for you....and I wish all of you a very safe and swift trip there. :-)


Wednesday, November 03, 2010

One of the BEST Commentaries


I wanted to showcase this commentary made by Keith Olbermann on his show, Countdown. He aired this commentary on October 27th. Too bad that people didn't heed his warning. We now are going to have to wait and see what happens. I pray and hope that he is wrong, but I fear that he is not. This commentary is well worth the time to view in it's entirety.