Seen what now happens to uninhabited houses?

Almost every day I drive around the Northwest Indiana area, and while most of the area is filled with used housing and busy businesses, Gary is a town well on the way down, with many empty houses and empty storefronts.

What’s really sad about all this is watching all the houses slowly stripped and gutted. Wherever theres’ aluminum siding, it gets stripped off a few rows at a time. Sometimes you see the stuff underneath it, other times there’s nothing but the original material sheltering the house from the outside; and sometimes you see the stuff that’s supposed to be the protection underneath (let’s say there’s worse stuff to put up than chip board; I’ve seen it).

And when buildings of any sort are abandoned, the windows get busted and the insides get gutted. Plumbing and wiring are stripped, porcelain and kitchen items are carted out of the house, and the walls are knocked down in search of hidden treasure. Eventually the building burns down, or collapses under its own weight and decay.

I remember back in the seventies there was this one house in our neighborhood that was pretty much uninhabited throughout much of the seventies. I even remember walking through it a couple times, both times finding it both intact and with pickles stored in the cupboards. In the early eighties I toured through the neighborhood and saw that the house was rehabbed and reinhabited.

Try doing that with a house in Gary nowadays. Nowadays you’d be better off letting the house burn down and rebuild a house with vinyl siding, PVC plumbing and chip board for walls. At least you can put up multiple layers of insulation so you won’t get too cool in the winter (or too warm in the summer, as long as you use trees to shade you).

Of course, that’s not the only stuff getting pilfered. That’s right, Catalytic Converters are being stolen for money. People are crawling underneath your car, cutting a few nuts or connections, and running off with the thing that makes your car’s exhaust cleaner.

Why? Because there’s some rare metals in the Catalytic Converters; stuff that can bring lots of money for someone desperate enough to stuck themselves under your car (or SUV, which is easier than people think). So a lot of Meth heads, crack heads and other druggies go underneath and start sawing stuff apart to get at the converters.

Now, ask yourself: When stuff can’t stand around anymore without it getting gutted and ruined, what does that mean for our nation? What is meant when we’re now stuck with a quickly-developing scavenger class?

I’ll tell you what it means: We’re on the quick path to third-world status. No longer can the United States consider itself fully first-world, as first-world nations are wealthy enough to not need to tear itself apart for money.

Yes, there were scavengers around even back in the seventies. When non-returnable bottles and cans became the standard for pop and beer drinking, people would leave them things all along the side of the road; people would collect them and get a few cents out of them. Occasionally you’d hear of people who scavenged for a living and ended up paying their kid’s way through college, but they were always myths everyone had heard but never knew about.

Now they’re around, looking for the next tweekend’s high and not letting usage or ownership get in their way. And our currency and system has gotten so bad that metals now cost enough for the scavengers to profit.

It’s getting ugly.

The Comic Strip Doctor takes on Garfield.

Nearly two years ago I commented on what the Internet had done with Garfield. Today I looked over it and changed the links to point to what’s now out there (and thankfully added a link to a randomizer.

Now I come across this man’s discussion on the Garfield comic, in which he describes the rise and fall of the comic strip. He does make some points about how the comic strip could be interesting (and sometimes was) but had recently fallen into boredom (and a quick comment on its recent improvement, due most likely to the recent romance between Liz and Jon). He also talks about the randomizer (and goes on to talk about other ways of changing the reality behind the strips).

Sadly this column has ended, probably because you can only talk about a certain number of ways about how bad comic strips are. With today’s strips hanging on a thread thanks to a newspaper industry just this side of disappearing, one shouldn’t expect TOO MUCH WIT from one’s comics. Besides, when people try to stretch their subject matter beyond what’s familiar and cute, they get ripped on. Ask the creator of Funky Winkerbean and Crankshaft: His Dying Lisa caused a number of papers to remove the F.W. strip — strips that have yet to add them back on.

But still, I would have liked to have seen him make one more strip: how Garfield improved over the past few years. It would have made an upbeat ending to the concept.

Why I get up in arms about Steroids and HGH in sports?

Like many people out there, I dislike the effects that Steroids and HGH have on sports. I dislike that they’ve warped the Baseball records, that many medals and such were given to people who were doing Steroids and HGH.

However, too many just talk about it as “cheating” as if the rules have been there in stone since before the formation of the sport. Ask most people why they’d have steroids banned from sports, and they’ll say “it’s cheating, athletes shouldn’t have to cheat.” without any further thought. Then, when the discussion goes to supplements and Gatorade the anti-steroid person falls for the slippery-slope argument and ends up silenced by the pro-steroid among us.

So the question: where to stick the fence to stop the slippery slope?

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Another question: What’s right about vitamin supplements and Gatorade and Lasik? Why would those items be accepted (and celebrated, in the case of Gatorade) while HGH is banned from sports and anabolic steroids are favored for hiding from the tests meant to detect their brothers. Granted it doesn’t stop the users from using, but still only the libertarians seem to have no problem with Florence Johnson dieing in her mid-thirties and Pro Wrestling watching their stars die off in their forties.

What I would posit is that whatever is used by a sizeable portion of the population becomes acceptable for athletic use. Supplements used to fortify people’s health becomes acceptable for sport stars. Lasik surgery, already popular in its previous forms, turns Tiger Woods from a first amongst equals to head, shoulders and arms above the rest. Gatorade goes from a Florida Gator secret to the stuff of all sports to a popular drink beyond anyone’s expectations.

HGH, however, remains a niche drug with genetically short people taking to to grow to average heights (and a few vain older women taking it for imitation youth). And steroids, while very much useful for healing, remain only a healing drug with little or no allowance for pure strength work (outside of AIDS patients). Hence whatever advantage given them is considered cheating.

And if anabolic steroids became widely used? Then they would become accepted. Until that happens (fat chance, thank god) I wouldn’t expect steriods to be welcomed to sports (sorry, Canseco).

Clinton’s Side Wants Michigan and Florida’s Delegates Seated, Despite Having Voted Them Moot To Begin With!

In a previous post of mine (which I unfortunately removed because of some oddity with this blog) I wrote this:

Now understand this: barring a radical change in either my beliefs or a severe scandal that would tear down the top of the Democratic party (both unlikely, but I’m making sure I have an out in case I need it), I’ll vote for Hillary if she makes it on the Ballot. I’ll be damned if I vote against my economic enemies; the fact that they’ve DECLARED war on me and my ilk is clear.

Well, I haven’t changed into a rabid duty-to-life, economically randroid, rapture-ready christian, something is threatening that may be enough of a scandal to make me change my vote. Somthing sub-unethical, and poor-sportish to boot.

In short this: The Clinton camp has started campaigning for the Michigan and California delegates to be welcomed and seated.

This is wrong on so many levels:

  1. Having voted the Michigan and Florida delegates out, the Clinton Camp now wants them back in case “they need it.”
  2. The votes in Michigan and Florida show a level of ignorance that the other states don’t, based on the simple fact that the Democratic candidates didn’t campaign in these states. Not only that, but many reasonable people who would have voted didn’t vote because they figured their vote didn’t count — indeed, one can count the votes in these primaries as unreasonable, as they were voting in instances when THEIR VOTE WOULD NOT COUNT. Those who vote for a losing side in an election know their votes have to be marked, counted and reported; the “voters” in Michigan and Florida didn’t even have that in their favor.
  3. Michigan’s voters only had the choice of Clinton and some third-level candidates, as most of the important candidates withdrew their names (you know who excepted, of course).
  4. It definitely appears that the Clinton Camp is grasping at straws. If you don’t count superdelegates, they’re already behind.
  5. How convenient that the Michigan and Florida delegates would boost Clinton’s delegate count. If they voted for Obama (or if they could have done so in Michigan), you know they’d be fighting against the delegates.

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Here’s how I’ll decide my vote:

  • If Obama wins, I’m voting for him.
  • If Clinton wins without Michigan or Florida delegates, I’ll vote for her. It’s still a legal victory, superdelegates or no.
  • If Clinton wins through the use of Michigan’s and/or Florida’s delegates AND THERE’S A TOLERABLE THIRD PARTY ON INDIANA’S BALLOT, I’m voting for that third party.
  • If Clinton wins through the use of Michigan’s and/or Florida’s delegates and the only other party running a presidental candidate is the Republicans, I’ll thank the Lord that the Republican candidate(s) are tolerable this time around and vote for a Republican presidential candidate.

A simple system, imho. And it allows me to vote against my interests if the necessity comes up.

Bobby Fisher Died a While Ago…

Here’s Dick Cavett’s touching comments on Bobby Fisher. You may have to register with the New York Times, but I believe it’s worth it.

Now my lame comments: Yes, I know it’s been a while, but….

I remember back in 1972, how the newspapers had news about the match in them every day and the television had reports on it. It was a big thing: An American Beating A Russian In A Game The Russians Had Come To Own. And when I say “own,” I mean OWN: they would tie each other, knock everyone else out of the running, then go into the game trying to Tie with Black, Win with White and tie to the championship once you had the advantage. The one who did that best ended up as the Champion.

Bobby Fisher destroyed that. He played to win with Black, he knocked out everyone (even Americans) and he even did it with such “Archaic” moves as “1 P-K4” (1 e4 in modern notation). And while he may have been a whiner he also won the world chess championship from an 0-2 start, an almost insurmountable advantage in this game.

Chess suddenly became a cause celebre. Books came out about the game, Fisher’s two books became massive best sellers. Chess clubs started in schools all over the nation.

Move ahead into the nineties. The guy had long dropped out of the limelight, having given up the championship when his time came in 1975. Bad enough, but had he stayed like that he would have been a legend who knocked out The Invincible Russians years ago.

But he started talking again. About teeth filled with wires, implanted by US Government agents and their Jewish Masters. About people out to steal his money.

He goes to Serbia at a time when they’re the Pariah of the World (for having perfected the art of Raping Women and killing men, an art they learned from Russia in the latter days of WWII) and plays a replay match with Spassky. Don’t think that Spassky had much of a chance (nor do I think he minded the payday).

Next we knew, Bobby Fisher was in Japan, fighting extradition. Then he went to Iceland, only to turn against them when it turned out their Government Agents were owned by (you guessed it) Jewish Masters.

He eventually died in Iceland, known as a nut everywhere but in the Chess world (where evidently he kept up enough links to other players to invent a form of chess that mixes up the back ranks so that memorization of the opening moves is impossible).

I remember hearing of Mr. Fischer’s comments in the wake of 9/11/2001 and being saddened. Never mind that the guy held such bizarre beliefs, but that he felt emboldened to announce them over the air.

I then remembered hearing about the kid who was the subject of the movie Searching for Bobby Fisher deciding to take a break from the game to experience more of the world. While I applauded his move, the fact that he based that move on a wish not to turn into another Bobby Fisher (that’s how I interpreted what I heard, by the way) saddened me.

And in a way, as much as the guy hated Shrub Jun– er, I mean President Bush, I can’t help but think how much his actions, however subtle, affected the voting in various places…like West Virginia and much of the South. After all, Bush was “a C Student” while Gore was supposed to be the smartest of the smart.

So yeah, Bobby Fisher was dead. He made so much about being smart, then tore it all down and then some with his actions and words later on. Chess players have good reasons to ignore his personality in relation to chess, the rest of us must pay attention.

So goodbye Bobby Fisher. Wish I could say I’m saddened, but I definitely noted it.

Are American Sepnding Habits Changing?

Blog Posting: America Changing its Thinking About Debt.

The gist of the blog posting (although I’d suggest people read the whole thing, as well as this article) is that people are finally figuring out that they have to control their spending, that the economy won’t necessarily lift their boats and save them from their inability to save. This is even spreading out to the business community, as Starbucks is looking at smaller cups, lower prices and free refills.

Personally I think the Starbucks thing means they’ve overgrown their market, but it also points to the fact that people are beginning to cut down on their spending, save money and REALLY work down their debts. What’s really interesting is that a lot of people who tried to buy houses are walking away from their purchase, sometimes even tearing stuff up as they leave. It can be cheaper to let things go, declare bankruptcy, rent for a while and let the lenders, bankers or investors take the hit.

In the meantime, they’re keeping up and catching up on their credit cards.

It makes sense, in a way. You can always rent a smaller place, but the ability to spend money on emergencies is dependent on what you have on hand — debt or cash. It can be this week’s groceries or a car or a visit to a doctor — if you have something on hand, you can do it, if nothing on hand you’ll nurse things further and things may get worse. And while the credit rating may go down, it’s always seemed like an imaginary number to me. Never mind its changeability (especially when you try to find out what it is), just the fact that you have to perform for some group just in case you want to put your life in their hands.

So Americans are doing what they feel they can. They’re turning their back on unserviceable debt and keeping what they can under control. They’re also trying to save, at least enough for an emergency account.

That doesn’t mean everyone will be able to do so. It also doesn’t mean that the better attempts will succeed. If the feds decide to flood America with oodles of new cash, we may end up with a situation like what happened in Germany in 1923 where saving is impossible, worth devolves to material goods, and society crumbles by default. If one wants a more recent example, one can’t get more recent than what’s going on now in Zimbabwe today.

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About the only thing I wish is that this had happened sooner. Like in the mid-nineties, before China used us like a crack user working a john for her fix. Maybe in the early eighties, when Voulker was squeezing debtors we could have cut back on our spending and become a smarter nation. But I’ll take now, even if it’s too late.