Dental chat

I woke up thinking about a conversation that I had with my dentist yesterday. Okay, it wasn’t really a conversation so much as he talked while I nodded my headed and uttered garbled responses because he had his hands in my mouth. It’s a tricky thing to carry on a conversation while you are in the dentist chair. You have to sneak in your comments when the dentist pauses to grab another instrument or check your ex-rays or something like that.

Anyhoo… we got on the subject of the crap economy after I told him about my impending lay-off. I was explaining how tight the j0b market is, especially here in Michigan, which of course he knew. And that the jobs that are available are often only part-time or temporary contract work, that unfortunately that seemed as if it was going to be part of the new reality work-wise. He pointed out that in discussions with small-business owners that he knows and has met that many of them are leery about hiring on full-time people because they don’t know how Obama Care is going to work once it is implemented — in what is it? 2014.

It was a good point. Because I had to admit I was every bit as confused. The Obama Administration and supporting Dems have done a terrible job explaining the new health care law and how it will work, perhaps because they don’t really know. Perhaps no one really knows. If someone does and can explain it, I’d be willing to listen, and even take notes.

My dentist also speculated that even if the economy does pick up and Obama Care works well (or at least doesn’t suck ass) they might just stick with running their businesses with a skeleton crew of full-time workers, filling in gaps with outsourcing, automation, and part-time and contract workers. Of course, an unintended consequence of this may be that people will reduce, perhaps even drastically, their spending habits on products and services. I know that if I’m only working part-time or on temporary contact I am NOT going to be spending my money. I”m going to be saving it, especially because I might need it in the even of a  medical emergency. Hell, forget emergency, I might need it for something minor, like a simply visit to the doctor’s office.

Which brings me back to the dentist, because I’m going to have to decide if I want to shell out money now to have him fix a filling and possibly put in a crown. Even with insurance, which I’ll have until the end of August, I’ll still have to pay out of pocket, but it won’t be as much as if a tooth suddenly goes bad when I don’t have insurance. And I have a tendency to grind my teeth at night which wears down the enamel and weakens fillings etc.  Not sure what to do at this point. It’s going to depend on the estimates I get back.

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Unemployment news not good…

…according to this article from Las Vegas Sun.

 

The number of people who applied for unemployment benefits last week rose by the most in a month, signaling growing weakness in the job market.

Applications rose by 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 429,000 last week, the Labor Department said Thursday. It was the second increase in three weeks and the 11th straight week that applications have been above 400,000.

 

Unfortunately, I’ll be adding to this number come August. Sigh…..

Of course this effects the stock market:

Stocks appeared to be headed for another losing day. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 175 points in early-morning trading.

 

And caused The Fed to adjust unemployment forecast numbers:

The Federal Reserve acknowledged on Wednesday that the economy has slowed in recent months. Fed officials also said in a statement summing up their two-day meeting that “recent labor market indicators have been weaker than anticipated.”

As a result, the Fed reduced its forecast for employment and growth this year. It projects that unemployment at the end of 2011 will be around 8.6 percent to 8.9 percent. That’s more pessimistic than its forecast from two months ago, which had put the unemployment rate at 8.4 percent to 8.7 percent by year’s end.

 

 

The other featured blog

In addition to the blog The 40-year-0ld Freshman you will note the link John Smolens. John is a friend and former creative writing teacher and he has a new book out, The Anarchist, which was released earlier this week. I just picked up my copy yesterday evening after work (I dragged my daughter straight to the bookstore after picking her up from school, which she doesn’t mind because she digs hanging in the book store – Yes! Parent success for the win, as my wife might say) and I was only able to put it down last night because I was simply to tired to keep reading. Could not keep my eyes open.

The Anarchist is a historical thriller about Leon Czolgosz, the anarchist who assassinated President William McKinley, September 1901. Now, I’m not normally a historical fiction reader but I’m always anxious to read John’s work, and as anticipate I was not only  not disappointed in this latest effort of his I’m absolutely digging it.

Don’t believe me? Think I’m just shilling for a friend? Well, yeah, I am shilling for a friend but I shill whole-heartedly because I know this is a good work. John does his research, incorporates informaton very well, and above all grabs your attention and engages you in the story. See for your self — there is a sample chapter on his web site.

Should we stay or should we go….

…to California.

According to this Time magazine article about the Golden State the answer would be, well, duh!

Even with it’s problems — the budgets, unemployment, housing market — and all the braying doomsayers that are sure that California is going to go busto, it’s still a mighty fine place to be right now. Anyway, it’s got to be better than Michigan. Plus, as I”ve harped before, it’s got great beches, the Pacific Ocean, huge national parks, cool deserts (if you dig that sort of thing, and I do) and there’s something to be said for not having to wear pants. Plus, this article makes California seem like a place that we’d more at home in, more in tune with the thinking and attitudes.

In the interest of comparison, Time has also been conducting an on-going long-term reporting projec on the city of Detroit. Of course, we don’t live in Detroit proper, but still.

It doesn’t help Michigan’s cause any that after cutting the K-12 budget by approximately $10 million they are cutting it yet again, to the tune of $165 per pupil, and possibly more. We won’t know for sure until the standoff in Lansing if brought to a close.  The most frustrating thing about it is that the schools already budgeted according to what they were told they would be afforded only to have to readjust after the fact, because pols in Lansing can’t get their shit together.

Obama’s nobel…

…is, as most things seem to be for Generation X, a  mixed blessing, not to mention a heavy one.

Like most people I was surprised. At first, I was pleased, since Obama is the first GenXer to win The Nobel Peace Prize as JenX67 points out on her blog,  referring to noted generational expert Neil Howe.

But true to GenX form I almost immediately felt apprehensive, wondering if this “award” would end up being more of a burden to the point of being an albatross around Obama’s neck, thus hampering his ability to govern effectively. God knows he’s already got enough obstacles to overcome. Another is not needed.

In this particular case I think my pessimism was not unwarranted. No sooner had the announcement been made then people immediately started bashing Obama as well as The Nobel Prize Committee. Of course, this is nothing new. There was similar reaction when it was award to Jimmy Carter and Al Gore. It was probably no different when Teddy Roosevelt won it in 1906 and Woodrow Wilson won it 1919, the only other sitting U.S. Presidents to be awarded the prize.

That didn’t make the ridicule and stone throwing any less bothersome, especially because so much of it was just petty and juvenile. No doubt many of these people were the same to cheer when Chicago, a U.S. city was passed over to host the Olympic games. You know the political resentment runs deep when people cheer against their own country or refuse to take pride in one of their own citizens being awarded something like The Nobel Peace Prize simply because they don’t like Obama. It’s more than just sad. It’s fucked up.

But I suppose these sorts of whiners can’t, nor should they, be silenced. After all this is America. Everyone is allowed their say even if it is no more than reactionary kind of Tourettes.

At least one other American leader, John McCain, a guy who arguably has more reason than most to take a shot at Obama, offered a dignified response, when he was quoted as saying:

“I can’t divine [the Nobel Committee’s] intentions, but I think part of their decision-making was expectations. And I’m sure the president understands that he now has even more to live up to. But as Americans, we’re proud when our president receives an award of that prestigious category.”

As per usual McCain is practically a lone voice in the wilderness.

In the end, Obama’s detractors can piss and moan all they like, they can say it is a joke, that the award means nothing — although one can’t help but wonder if they really believe that why are they expending so much energy and hot air saying so; if means nothing then why say anything at all? — but as Christopher Beam suggests in his slate article, though it may in part make Obama’s job more difficult, expectations being elevated even further, it also offers him more clout. Consider that he is no longer just President of the United State Barack Obama, he is now President of the United States and Nobel Peace Prize winnter Barack Obama. That may not impressing the scraming lunatics that show up at town hall meetings NOT to part take in a rational public debate but to shout down those with whom they disagree or Fox News but then they were/are never going to be impressed by their president. That too is fucked up. But what can you do with people who’s behavoir is fucked up? Simple. Fuck em! Because it will mean something on the world stage, which is, at least in part, where our President needs to perform.

Reason 13z-.kl7…

… to leave Michigan: K-12 budget that is set to pass cuts per pupil spending by $165.oo. That’s $53 less what was previoulsy proposed. Big wow! Especially when you consider that the budget has already been cut by approximately $10 million in the last few years. And no doubt my rep Chuckie Moss(back) will say that it is still no enough, but then a jack ass like him who responds to constiuent emails with cut and paste responses was already a reason to move.

I’m hearing that song louder and louder every day  — California here I come…. And I know, the state finances aren’t very good out there either, but there not as bad here. Besides, there’s a chance the wife’s corporate overlord could give her position out there with a substantial bump in salary (we could make the move otherwise) it’ll be totally doable. Of course, I might have to take a job delivering pizzas or something like that but it’ll be totally worth it. Why? BECAUSE IT’S CALIFORNIA! You know, Pacific Ocean, beaches, desert(which I happen to dig), wine country, plus cool cities like LA, San Fran, San Diego, El Segundo . And a whole country between us and less than desirable family.

Funny. I don’t feel middle-aged.

JenX67 hipped me to another cool GenX article. Is it just me or do these pieces seem to be on the rise. I wouldn’t be a GenXer if I didn’t think that that was not entirely a good thing.

This quote from the article by Howe, particular struck me.

“Xers got noticed with a lot of talk about slackers and dysfunction and basically this image of an under-socialized, somewhat wild generation of hardened kids who took pride in their resilience, their individualism, their cynicism [and being] very much outside the system,” he says. “They didn’t vote, they didn’t take part in community affairs, they dressed dark.”

Because, though I’ve always voted, I’ve never really relished being “involved.”  When I did it was reluctantly. I didn’t want to cover the 1988 Presidential Election between Bush and Dukakias. I had to for my community college newspaper class.  And I didn’t take full advantage of the opportunity. I could have been a stringer for local papers on election night. I could have taken the initiative to write more articles beyond what I was assigned, even just a first person young journalist’s experience deal. But I didn’t. In fact, I pretty much purposely avoided making this work for me. I wanted to be a fiction writer,  not that being a journalist would have prevented that necessarily, in fact it probably would have helped it. But that would have required getting involved in some overt way. Of course, now I regret not pursuing such advantages, most days anyway.  Some days, though, I really don’t give a shit, and actually wished that I’d never gotten as involved as I have at times in politics and community issues, which isn’t all that much. It’s just an exercise in futility if you ask me.

As I commented on JenX67’s blog, often my fav part of these kinds of articles is the snarky back and forth in the comments section. For example:

Tossed Salad,  Monday, Sep 28, 2009

Aww. Feeling a little long in the tooth are we. The most pretentious, narcissistic group ever. The “me” generation. Well welcome to the world of failing eyesight and colostomy bags. Couldn’t happen to a nicer group. Schadenfreude. Oh and Farrah Fawcett was not a Gen X icon

Clearly a pissy Boomer that resents not being the young hip generation anymore. GenX may have turned 40 fuck-o but we’re cooler about it then the boomers ever could be. You all try to hard. You still are. You can claim that 60 is the new 40 or whatever ,but the fact is the Woodstock aniversary was pathetic. And btw, Farrah Fawcett was a GenX icon. She may not have been one herself but she was a major pop culture icon for GenXers, and NOT Boomers.

This GenXer give TS what for:

JETSOLVER,  Monday, Sep 28, 2009

Tossed Salad; There is little funnier than a Boomer telling us that they gave us everything that we have in life, and then asking us to give it all back. The Boomers still can’t accept the laws of evolution, and its starting to get old…

Of course, even GenX  has it’s knuckle heads. Such as this person:

Denis Pakkala,  Monday, Sep 28, 2009

What a ridiculous article, comparing Tony Hawk to a typical GenXer. Must have been written by another old fool, who doesn’t understand why today’s young people don’t have any resect for their elders. GenXer’s are waiting for the Boomers to move over and let us clean up the mess that you’ve made.

Tony Hawke is the epitomey of GenX. How you cannot see that is….baffling.

This person can just bite me, because GenJone is bullshit:

Mary5000,  Monday, Sep 28, 2009

But this article leaves out a whole generation–Generation Jones (born 1954-1965, between the Boomers and GenXers). Further, 1961 is certainly not the usual year used to start GenX…most real experts start GenX in the mid-1960s. The Associated Press’ Annual Trend Report chose The Rise of Generation Jones as its top trend of 2009, and many top media outlets now regularly use the GenJones term.

GenJones is cleary a device created by Boomer to further deflate GenX’s numbers, as if we weren’t small enough as it is.

This commenter I thin captures the essence of the current GenX ethos:

Conrad White,  Monday, Sep 28, 2009

I’m a GenXer and wish some of those fat contented Boomers would get out of my way. Large companies, law firms, banks, accounting firms are all run by Boomers who have enjoyed sr. mgmt positions and hi comp for an extraordinarily long time. Big houses in great neighbourhoods, kids in private schools, vacation properties and 7-figure RRSPs. Sweet. I am weary of following Boomers. What other generation would have seen the need to invent Viagra?

You know, people are always dismissing generational studies and yet emotion run high and opinions are strong in regards to it. So suck on that!

Chuck Moss – hypocrit extraordinaire

After posting about Chuck Moss, the jerk that represents my district, I immediately had poster’s regret. Not because I regret what I wrote. I do not. But because I’d rather focus my attention on other things than politics, like books and movies and my family and watching paint dry. But sometimes I just can’t help myself.

This morning my guilt was assuaged and my ire re-inflamed when I discovered this blog post by Tim Skubick, a journalist who has been covering Michigan politics for a long time.

In it Moss exposes himself as the jackass hypocrite that he is. He expounds upon how we like any family (his words not mine; I do not now nor have ever, nor would I never consider this guy family) we must all tighten our belts. Seems reasonable considering economic circumstances, especially here in Michigan. Except Mr. Moss doesn’t seem to think that this virtue applies to himself. Unlike some of his colleagues in Lansing he wasn’t going to cut his own salary until he was forced to when Skubick called him out on it on the PBS show about Michigan politics Off the Record. To cover his skeezy ass he wrote a lousy $2,000.00 check after the show. BFD. The dude makes like $72,000 for crying out loud. And he was lawyer before that and no doubt was not hurting for money when he got elected.  No wonder some people want to do away with government all together.

And then today, on Michigan radio, in a report covering state politics and the budget negotiations, Moss-mouth self-righteously proclaims that “It is about time that Lansing started living within it’s means.” Except for him and probably a lot of  his ilk up there in the state capital.

Of course, what this really means is that citizens all across this state will suffer because not only will school budgets be cut — AGAIN! — but also prisons and libraries. What does that mean exactly — cutting prisons? Less guards? Releasing prisoners? What? As for libraries, I realize that some people are ambivalent about them while others feel that libraries could disappear and no one would notice. Well, that simply isn’t true. Many, many people would not only notice the absence of the library they would be quite upset if not outraged by the loss. Historically speaking,  during economic downturns library usage goes up, for any number of reasons, the main one being that libraries are a free form of entertainment, which helps when people are watching their money.

The point here is not that cuts aren’t needed. Obviously, they are. But rather it is the hypocrisy of someone like Moss who expects everyone else in the family to tighten their belt while he is unwilling to do the same (until forced to anyway) and in fact will probably even need to let out his belt from the  bloat of self-righteous pride filling his gut.

Today Jack Lessenberry, columnist for the Metro Times and political analyst for Michiganradio has a commentary about what is going on in Lansing right now. A strong  well-articulated argument and simply good information and advice for the likes of Mr. Moss but one doubts very much that he or his political croneies upstate will listen to Jack, never mind  a regular schmo citizen such as myself, or anyone else for that matter.

Every time this happens and I flap about it to my poor, patient wife she says pretty much the same thing. “It’s time to get out!”  Even if I wanted to, I could not disagree.

add to the list of reasons to leave Michigan

Chuck Moss, Michigan State Rep for District 40,  which of course is my district.

I voted for this yahoo in the last election(2008), even though at the time it seemed like a good idea to chuck every Republican out of office. Of course, as we’ve learned allowing one party to have too much power is a recipe for disaster. Anyway, the dude seemed reasonable enough, I mean for a politician and a lawyer. I know, what was I thinking?

Anyhoo… I might have continued to hold such a view if I hadn’t made the  mistake of sending him an email expressing my discontent over the matter of school budget cuts. It wasn’t my idea, but at the request of the PTA.  These cuts will come after funds from the state had already been set. And this isn’t the first time that Lansing has done this to our schools.

Anyway the response I got was typical political malarkey. Check it:

Dear Chris,

Thanks for writing me about the School Aid Fund budget.  This budget is a Bi-partisan, Democratic/Republican effort to balance the budget.  House Speaker Andy Dillon and Majority Leader Mike Bishop joined hands to get a budget done and avoid a shutdown.  I don’t like all the cuts either, especially to education, but with our revenues down 22% and unemployment at 15%, we face hard choices.

Actually, the budget as adopted decreases the per-pupil state aid by $218, but allows local districts the flexibility to absorb the cuts by reducing or eliminating any other funded (categorical) program except a handful like Durant, special education, school lunch.  In other words, the schools can use the “categorical” money for their own educational priorities, something that school groups specifically asked for.

Once again, no one wants to make any cuts to schools, but when our income goes down so drastically, we have to do what every family does and tighten our belts and live within our means.

Chuck Moss

Of course I get the obligatory thanks for writing which is immediately followed by Chuckie touting the Bi-partisian efforts, as if this is some great accomplishment, when it should be the norm. I love the “joined hands” phrase, as if to conjure images of too best buddies frolicking in a meadow. Then of course I get hit with numbers to set me up for the justification for the cuts, which comes with the rhetorical device of  beginning with “Actually….” an attempt to strike a pose that suggest this is really not as bad as it sounds, and in fact you should be thankful it is not worse. But I don’t think anyone would be thankful for $218 per pupil cut, especially after the district was already counting on this money. Because these dipshits up in the state capitol cannot get their act together in time we, the citizens, have to suffer. Furthermore, Mr. Moss sees no problem in cutting things like special education and school lunches, because the unfortunate children with disabilities aren’t really worth education anyway and there’s no need to provide a hot lunch option to our children.  They should suck it up and brown bag it like he did, it’ll build character.

I found it curious that he does not like all the cuts but he does not explicitly express his dislike for the cuts to schools. This made me wonder, since Mr. Moss lives in Birmingham and has two daughters, do his children attend the public schools. Turns out they do not, although they did. They’re grown now and —  wait for it — that’s right living out of state.  Lucky for them, eh. They got their education, from the same school that my daughter now attends. And then what? Bolted the state, which I can hardly blame them for. After all, we plan to do the same, although in mine and my wife’s defense we paid for our state-school educations here in Michigan and have worked and paid taxes in the state for more than a reasonable amount of time. But I digress, as I am prone to do. The point is, Mr. Moss really has no vested interest in the schools. But I can’t help but wonder what cuts are not being made. Not to mention will this budget include reasonable tax increases to balance the cuts.

In another email, I called Mr. Moss out on this point and he seemed to feel that his daughters having once attended B’ham school gave him some kind of credibility on the matter. Talk about political gobbledygook, a term that Mr. Moss took offense to. He’d have preferred that I call his position bullshit! Why are so many Republicans potty mouths? Or trying to pick up other men in potties. Oooh! That was just so wrong.

Another bit of political gobbledygook that I called Mr. Moss out on was his attempt to endear himself and deflect constituent ire but referring to  us all as a family. He denied this was what he was trying to do, claiming that is the gov’s rhetoric. The gov happens to be a Democrat and so often used by Repubs such as Mr Moss as a scapegoat or someone to pass the buck to. Criticism of the Gov are not wholly undeserved. Of course, that doesn’t make them useful or productive. It is just petty sniping and a waste of time, which is why the solution to the budget crisis here in Michigan has become so dire. Anyway, to further counter Mr. Moss backpedaling, I found this video clips of him using that very same phrase.

Also worth nothing in this video is his mumbling dismissal of cuts that would effect children and seniors at approximately 1:39.

And then at approximately 2:49 he takes a partisan dig at Dems, saying that the stimulus money from Obama is like oil money, and suggesting that the state should not be taking it. Because it is more important to cut school budgets than to accept funds from a President that isn’t of your party.

But is this a good reason to leave the state? No, not alone. But considering it along with other factors, it makes the move easier to justify, not that justication is required.

New featured blog

Gen X in Iraq.

I came to this blogger via facebook post by JenX67. No surprised there. If there’s a GenX blogger that Jen doesn’t know about…well, I don’t know…

He’s from Texas, a Navy Reservist who wasn’t expected to see action, but there he is in Iraq, watching things get blown up and hopefully keeping his head down. Stop by and get a first hand reports on what it’s like to be in the sh@t. And wish him well.

Take care, dude! Keep your wits about you.