Sunday, September 7, 2014

jimjustselling . . .

(Actually, I'm not, but the good folks at HenschelHAUS and Amazon are):  


What they're saying about Jim's provocative blog:
--"A man who is obviously making a name for himself--Mr. Irrelevant!"--Don Rickles
--"Almost too entertaining!  (Well, sort of.)"--David Letterman
--"Blogaschizzle!"--Snoop Lion
--"The one thing I DO read!"--Sarah Palin
--"About what you'd expect from a dopey, sniveling piece of execrable skunk vomit from Wisconsin!"--Don Imus
--"The most fun you can have with your clothes on (but DO take a shower afterwards)."--Dick Cavett


By Jim Szantor
  • Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric, and whimsical observations about the absurdities of contemporary life.
  • Vinpocetine, oscillococcinum and bladderswack leaves. Three nutritional (?) supplements I didn't know existed until I got the latest Swanson Health Products catalog.  (Kind of hard to work into a conversation, but there you have it.)
  • No ice-bucket challenge for me.  They want me to do the scalding water challenge (with reconstructive surgery to follow).
  • Who are these ghoulish voyeurs who click on those videos of terrorist beheadings and actually watch them?  That's almost as horrifying as the act itself.   
  • Saw a sale display for Snickers Fun Size bars.  Fun size?  Aren't all Snickers fun (especially for dentists)?  What do they call the regular-size bar--the Ordeal Size?  The Root Canal Size?  The Ninth Labor of Hercules Size?  
  • "The first time I see a jogger smiling, I’ll consider it."-Joan Rivers
  • jimjustsaying's Coinage of the Month: "Buyercade."  That plastic bar you put on the store's belt to separate your purchases from someone else's.      
  • "When you have two out, you're three-fourths of the way there."--Cleveland Indians then-manager Manny Acta.
  • Memo to all baseball announcers:  Frames, bowling;  innings, baseball.  Got it?  Stop trying to get fancy or gild the lily. "Elegant variation" doesn't work for me in a sports context. And RBI stands for runs batted in, not runs driven in.  Thank you and mend your ways.
  • Most misused word of the decade if not century:  Reactionary.  It means conservative, not reactive; it doesn't mean a quick or reflex reaction to some action or event.  You will probably see or hear it misused more than once in the next week, I promise.
  • When people say "With all due respect," what they're really saying is, "This will probably offend or irritate you, but I don't care, and I'm going to say it anyway."
  • When was the last time you saw "wash" hanging from a clothes line?  (Answer:  When someone's clothes dryer was broken.)
  • "I saw my first porno film recently. It was a Jewish porno film--one minute of sex and nine minutes of guilt."--Joan Rivers
  • Ignisecond:  The overlapping moment of time when the hand is locking the car door even as the brain is saying "my keys are in there."--"Sniglets," Rich Hall and Friends
  • You're  an old-timer if you remember when people used to have their tires retreaded instead of replaced with new ones. When you hauled your furnace ashes to the curb. And when the ice man cometh.  (Yes, I qualify.)
  • Was that a ping, a knock, or a whine?  And what about that rattle in the dashboard? That spot on the garage floor?  (Yes, you guessed right--I'm a carpochondriac!)
  • Take a look at your vinyl record collection or a stack of old magazines, and chances are the person on the cover is smoking or holding a cigarette.  It seemed to be the de rigueur prop du jour.
  • Town I didn't know existed until I ran across it in a news story about dangerous intersections:  Frostproof, Fla. (where, if by some remote chance you happen to be out that way, you apparently would be well advised to avoid the intersection of South Scenic Highway and County Road 700.)  As Larry King would say, "You'll thank me later."
  • jimjustsaying's Snack Food Find of the Month:  Buffalo wing-flavored sunflower seeds.  Who knew?
  • "If all economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion."--George Bernard Shaw
  • Jargoning:  A "theftie," Wired informs us, is a snapshot of a smartphone thief.  Phones running the Lookout app automatically snap a "selfie" with the front-facing camera when the wrong password is entered or the SIM card is removed.  The theftie is e-mailed to the registered owner. (Kind of hard to work into a conversation, but there you have it.)
  • Obituary Headline Nickname of the Month:  Rookie.  As in Gary "Rookie" Davison, Kenosha (Wis.) News obituary, Aug. 20, 2014.  R.I.P., Mr. Davison.
  • Fifty-sixth Wisconsin Town I Didn't Know Existed Until I Saw It Mentioned in a Green Bay Press-Gazette Obituary:  Mountain. (R.I.P., Alice E. Bowman, Green Bay Press-Gazette obituary, Aug. 14, 2014).  Previous entries: Athelstane, Walhain, Duck Creek, Breed, Anston, Sobieski, Amberg, Osseo, Angelica, Brazeau, Waukechon, Sugar Camp, Kossuth, Lessor, Kunesh, Pulcifer, Cato, Florence, Greenleaf, Eaton, Poygan, Hofa Park, Hilbert, Hollandtown, Beaufort, Glennie, Harshaw, Bessemer, Crooked Lake, Tigerton, Goodman, Readstown, Dousman, Butternut, Montpelier, Cecil, Red River, Gillet, King, Laona, Kelly Lake, Glenmore, Tonet, Stiles, Morrison, Dunbar, Askeaton, Wild Rose, Neopit, Ellisville, Pickett, Flintville,  Forest Junction, Thiry Daems, and Black Creek.
  • "Ask 10 Gypsies the same question, and you will get 10 different answers.  Ask one Gypsy the same question 10 times, and you will still get 10 different answers."--Peter Maas, "The King of the Gypsies."
  • I had a dream that the Family Dollar company started a budget burger franchise:  One Guy.
  • Overheard: "If you take the bull by the horns, then what?"
  • Today's Latin Lesson: Terminus via opus. (End road work.)


Leading from within
I don't know what action will be sufficient to roll back both the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, and Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, but I do know what’s necessary. And it’s not "leading from behind,"which didn’t really work for President Obama in Libya, and it isn’t simply leading a lonely and unpopular charge from in front, which certainly didn’t work for President Bush in Iraq. It’s actually reviving America’s greatest strategy: leading from within.

The most effective leadership abroad starts with respect earned from others seeing us commit to doing great and difficult things at home that summon the energy of the whole country--and not just from our military families. That is how America inspires others to action. And the necessary impactful thing that America should do at home now is for the president and Congress to lift our self-imposed ban on U.S. oil exports, which would significantly dent the global high price of crude oil. And combine that with long overdue comprehensive tax reform that finally values our environment and security. That would be a carbon tax that is completely offset by lowering personal income, payroll and corporate taxes. Nothing would make us stronger and Putin and ISIS weaker--all at the same time.

How so? First you need to understand how much Putin and ISIS have in common. For starters, they each like to do their dirtiest work wearing a mask, because deep down, somewhere, they know that what they’re doing is shameful. The ISIS executioner actually wears a hood. Putin lies through his poker face.

Both seem to know that their ideas or influence are unsellable on their merits, so they have to impose them with intimidating force--"convert to puritanical Islam or I will chop your head off," says ISIS, and "submit to Russia’s sphere of influence or I will invade you and wipe out your regime,"says Putin.

The way you defeat such an enemy is by being "crazy like a fox," says Andy Karsner, the former assistant energy secretary in the last Bush administration and now the C.E.O. of Manifest Energy. "We have one bullet that hits both of them: bring down the price of oil. It’s not like they can suddenly shift to making iWatches." We are generating more oil and gas than ever, added Karsner, and it’s a global market.  Absurdly, he said, the U.S. government bans the export of our crude oil.  "It’s as if we own the world’s biggest bank vault but misplaced the key," added Karsner. "Let’s lift that export ban and have America shaping the market price in our own interest.”

But that must be accompanied by tax reform that puts a predictable premium on carbon, ensuring that we unite to consistently invest in clean energies that take us beyond fossil fuels, increase efficiency and address climate change. Draining our enemies’ coffers, enhancing security, taxing environmental degradation--what’s not to like? And if we shift tax revenue to money collected from a carbon tax, we can slash income, payroll and corporate taxes, incentivize investment and hiring and unleash our economic competitiveness. That is a strategy hawks and doves, greens and big oil could all support. . . .

Wouldn’t it be refreshing, asked Karsner, if we showed up at the global poker table, across from Putin and ISIS,  "holding four aces, instead of just bluffing with a pair of 2’s?"
--Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times

The economics of disease control
Creating an Ebola vaccine shouldn’t be bad for business. Though the hemorrhagic fever has been with us for more than 30 years, drugmakers haven’t bothered to come up with a treatment. That’s discomfiting, but given the way drug development is funded, it’s also predictable.  When companies decide to spend research dollars, they naturally assess the potential market and are thus more likely to develop drugs to treat people who can afford to buy them. This results in enormous underinvestment in certain kinds of diseases and certain categories of drugs, especially those that affect poor people in poor countries. But the system actually disserves everyone, especially in the light of the recent emergence of drug-resistant microbes.

Health experts agree that we need to develop stockpiles of drugs to combat these new strains in the event of a major outbreak, but persuading pharmaceutical companies to do that won’t be easy, because the point of having these drugs is not to bring them to market but to keep them in reserve. Finding new ways to entice more development from drugmakers--through tax credits, subsidies, or "prizes for new drugs"--might be expensive, but the price of inaction could leave "a lot of blood on the floor."
--James Surowiecki, The New Yorker

China and Africa
For sure, China’s drive into Africa is mainly motivated by natural resources. But this is merely the catalyst of a broader phenomenon, which is really driven by the frustration of so many Chinese with the unbearably stifling and corrupt Chinese system. From a slow-growth West myopically hypnotized by China’s largely meaningless growth figures (and a bizarre envy of authoritarianism), we don’t actually see China for what it is, which is a very unhealthy society. The limitation on births. The ruthless and ineffective education system, which now no longer provides the jobs it promised. The omnipresent corruption and inflation. The stifling (literally) pollution. No wonder everyone who can is running for the exits. . . .  In Africa they can find a world where opportunities are more available for the taking for the driven and hard-working who are shut out of the best networks in China.
--Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, Forbes

Deifying the Fed is dangerous
It’s time to quit hanging on the Fed’s every word,.. After Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s [recent] speech at the economic symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo.,, her remarks were heralded for days as the week’s major financial event--even though she didn’t say anything new. 

Once upon a time, the chair of the Federal Reserve was simply one of a number of major players in the economic policy firmament, not the axis around which all revolved. Yet ever since the late 1970s, when Congress gave the Fed a "dual mandate" to chart its course based on inflation and employment levels, the regulator’s prominence has skyrocketed. 

The Fed plays a pivotal role in times of crisis.  But by turning it into the dominant voice about the economy,  investors and policymakers have placed far too much weight on the central bank while shirking their own responsibilities. Monetary policy is a blunt instrument  that can either flood the system with money (or dam it up when growth is booming), but it cannot control where that money is channeled. That is the job of Congress and the White House. Handing it to the Fed excuses policymakers and market participants from making their own judgments, as well as their own mistakes.
--Zachary Karabell,

America's real  ice-bucket challenge
[O]n my first day back in Washington, the Congressional Budget Office threw cold water on my tranquility. Its semiannual report on the federal government’s fiscal health, released [Aug.27], was downright bone-chilling.

The top-line conclusions were grim enough, if not catastrophic: The federal budget deficit would shrink this year, but less than had been expected. The economy would continue its expansion this year--but at less than half the rate forecast earlier.

Read further, though, and you see that the long-term fiscal disaster, predicted for some time, has crept into the short term. We’re several years into the expansion, and a full recovery from the 2008 collapse should come in the next few years, the CBO predicts--but just in time for that long-dreaded era when interest payments on the debt and the costs of Medicare and Social Security begin to crowd out everything else the government does. While we watch Lady Gaga and Justin Timberlake take their ice baths, the wolf is at the door.

Federal debt will reach 74 percent of gross domestic product this year, more than twice what it was at the end of 2007 and higher than in any year since 1950, the nonpartisan CBO found. In a decade, it will hit 77 percent; in 25 years, 100 percent--"a level seen only once before in U.S. history, just after World War II."

The warnings, if not new, are stark, and the report offers an occasion to reflect on the folly of the budget battles of the past four years. Conservatives threatening government shutdowns and defaults forced discretionary spending down to levels not seen since early last century--hampering the economic recovery--and yet the debt continues to rise. . . .

This, then, should be the real ice-bucket challenge. Washington has just a few years until deficits swell again and any changes to these programs become much more painful. Then it won’t be a bracing splash of ice water, but a deep and deadly freeze.
--Dana Milbank,Washington Post


Obama's foreign-policy critics are wrong
Deliberateness may be best recourse against the chaotic threats from ISIS and Putin 

The left's slippery slope
The U.S. acted just in time with airstrikes against the Islamic State 

Islamic State: A foreign legion for losers
Internet fosters the pathetic  pastimes of killers and rapists

Do Democrats handle the economy better?
What looks like a partisan trend in the economy actually shows how today’s policies create long-term ripples 

If GOP is so right . . . 
Why are red states so far behind? 

Prosperity no panacea
In this post-euphoric time, let’s be realistic

How to organize your brain
Our minds were designed to succeed in an environment utterly unlike the information overload we now face

Let's hear it for pessimism!
A negative outlook at times can help you manage anxiety and stay healthy

'Positivity effect' a benefit of aging
Studies show age can provide peace many hope for in the evening of their lives

Every effort is made to ensure that all links are still available.

Sunday, August 17, 2014


By Jim Szantor
  • Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric, and whimsical observations about the absurdities of contemporary life
  • Latest fortune cookie received:  "In all matters of opinion, you always say it better."  (You could say that there was a very nice takeaway with my very nice takeout.)
  • Whatlet:  An electrical plate on the wall with no holes and consequently no purpose whatsoever--Rich Hall, "Unexplained Sniglets of the Universe."
  • I  imagine that Americans who aren't into soccer probably aren't that wild about rugby, either.  (I'll say this much--I've never heard of a rugby riot!)
  • If there's auto racing in England,  do they drive the wrong way there, too?  (I'm just askin'.)
  • How come the clothes hooks are so often missing inside the fitting rooms at stores and the "facilities"  just about everywhere?
  • Has any company ever had a worse year than Malaysia Airlines?
  • jimjustsaying's Dog Breed of the Month (courtesy of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel July 29 classified ad for Pets, Dogs, etc.:  Aussiedoodles  (Mini & Standards).  Who knew?
  • I wonder how impressed would-be employers are with job applicants with "online university" degrees.    (Those degrees are probably better than no higher education at all, but, me, I'd probably prefer someone with an "offline degree."   I'mjustsayin'.)
  • I'm starting to get nervous about those West Bank bombings. Time to close our account there!
  • Another in a series of jimjustsaying's Occupations No Child Has Ever Aspired To or Fantasized About:  Phlebotomist.
  • Three mysteries I often ponder:  The real story of the JFK assassination, the real story of the Jimmy Hoffa disappearance, and the appeal of NASCAR and Sponge Bob Square Pants.
  • I'd probably watch more TV if they went back to doing more live shows with live commercials . . .  like the ones where the dogs didn't eat the dog food or the vacuum cleaner didn't vacuum up what it was supposed to vacuum up.   That was reality TV, my friend.
  • Introducing jimjustsaying's GoldenRule 2.0:  Treat others the way they treat you after you have  treated them.
  • Morning in America:  Planes are being shot out of the sky, random gang violence is making some big cities all but unlivable, and people are still sneaking into the express line at the supermarket with more than 12 items.  Not sure which of these things would be easiest to fix and not so sure it'd be the third one.
  • Faded phrases:  "Hang up the phone," "roll down the window" and "flip through the channels." 
  • Next time I hear a policeman says, "Nothing to see here, folks, move along," I'll be tempted to ask the lawman, "If there's nothing to see here, why are you here?  Couldn't you be doing something more worthwhile with my tax dollar?  Therefore, you should move along!"  
  • Overheard:  "My boss in on vacation this week, and so am I."
  • Trash talking:  My wife and I were talking about a female friend of hers and her, er, significant other.  (Actually, in this case, insignificant other.  I'm just sayin'.)
  • jimjustsaying's Faded Word of the Week: Haberdashery
  • You can tell a lot about a person by whether they prefer hard shell of soft shell tacos.
  • Newspaper "Correction and Clarification" of the Year:
  •  "In Wednesday’s A+E section, the Nancy Black horoscope column erroneously stated how long Jupiter remains in Leo. The duration is 13 months.  The [Chicago] Tribune regrets the error."
  • News item:  A black bear showed up at an Olive Garden restaurant in Eau Claire, Wis., around 4:45 p.m on July 11.  He ( . . . or she . . .) must have heard about the Early Bear Special.
  • Baseball Prank for the Ages:  The picture on California Angels' infielder Aurelio Rodriguez's 1969  baseball card is actually a photo of Angels' batboy Leonard Garcia, who duped the Topps photographer.
  • Wish I'd said that: "Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance."--George Bernard Shaw
  • Jargon Word of the Week:  Reliefography.  Reproduction of artworks using digital scanning and 3-D printers.  Said to produce near-perfect copies of classic paintings, Wired magazine reports, down to the texture of each brushstroke.  Fakes are selling for as much as $30,000 in Asia.
  • Fifty-fifth Wisconsin Town I Didn't Know Existed Until I Saw It Mentioned in a Green Bay Press-Gazette Obituary:  Black Creek. (R.I.P., William Tesch, Green Bay Press-Gazette obituary, July 21, 2014).  Previous entries: Athelstane, Walhain, Duck Creek, Breed, Anston, Sobieski, Amberg, Osseo, Angelica, Brazeau, Waukechon, Sugar Camp, Kossuth, Lessor, Kunesh, Pulcifer, Cato, Florence, Greenleaf, Eaton, Poygan, Hofa Park, Hilbert, Hollandtown, Beaufort, Glennie, Harshaw, Bessemer, Crooked Lake, Tigerton, Goodman, Readstown, Dousman, Butternut, Montpelier, Cecil, Red River, Gillet, King, Laona, Kelly Lake, Glenmore, Tonet, Stiles, Morrison, Dunbar, Askeaton, Wild Rose. Neopit, Ellisville, Pickett, Flintville,  Forest Junction and Thiry Daems.
  • Today's Latin Lesson:  Es vos guys etiam opus in ut?  ("Are you guys still working on that?")

jimjustsaying's Top Eleven List

11 campaign slogans that won't work for
Hillary Clinton "if" she runs in 2016:

   11.  Richly deserved

   10.  Going for broke

     9.  "Hard Choices," easy money

     8.  I love Gucci

     7.  The Free Speech candidate

     6.  It takes a villa . . . 

     5.  Buy one, get none free

     4.  The national debt?  It's on me!

     3.  It's my party and I'll run if I want to, run if I want to . . . 

     2.  Margaret Thatcher 2.0

     1.  Bill bakes the cookies this time!