Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Man caused disasters

Like most politicians, the ones in Greece have been spending like drunken sailors for decades. And besides stealing or spending every penny of current taxes they collect, the Greek politicians have been buying votes with promises of future pensions and benefits that everybody knew were way beyond reasonable and affordable.

So a couple of weeks ago the world woke up and suddenly nobody with any sense wanted to loan the Greek government more money by buying its bonds. But that doesn't mean the drunken party is quite over in Greece. For this week American and German and French and British politicians decided to fund one last burst of Ouzo soaked revelry for the Greeks.

I can almost understand why the Kraut and Frog and Limey politicians have decided to send almost a trillion dollars to the Greek politicians. For one thing they were stupid enough to give the Greek politicians a sort of license to print Euros or at least issue bonds denominated in Euros. And, for those of you who don't know, Euros are the new fangled paper money that all the Europeans use, so if the Greek bonds go bust all the Euro denominated bonds may go bust. For another thing, the Greeks are now part of the European Union, so if the Greek government stops paying welfare to all the lazy and deadbeat Greeks those Greeks can just move to France or Germany or England and sign up for welfare there.

This has, of course, raised some difficult questions for politicians all over Europe. The Germans, for instance, are asking their politicians why they have to work and pay taxes until they are in their late 60's before they can retire while their politicians are sending money to Greece, where even the people who actually do work are allowed to retire and start collecting pensions at 55 years old.

But enough about the Krauts and Frogs and Limeys. The truth is that I really don't give a darn about how they spend their money. If they want to send money to Greece that's their business.

What I want to know is why our politicians have also decided to send money to bail out the Greeks when their problems are completely the result of their own foolishness. Don't get me wrong here. I have nothing against Greeks. I've liked all the Greeks that I've ever met and I was going to Greek restaurants in Chicago well before John Belushi made Greeks cool.

The Greeks have a beautiful country over there and, unlike the Krauts and the Limeys, they know how to cook. But it makes no sense for politicians to send my tax dollars to Greeks who get to live the easy life in world renowned vacation spots like Santorini and Rhodes and Mykonos and Corfu while I have to slave like a dog in cold and rainy Pennsylvania.

Novertheless President Barack Obama, and Senators Nancy Pelosi and Chris Dodd, and Representative Barney Frank and their pals have decided to send $50 Billion of my money and your money to Greece so the scam over there can continue for a little while longer. For, make no mistake, the Greek welfare state model of paying people for not working is not sustainable. Socialism appears to work fine until you run out of other people's money. And it's not just Greece that's running on debt. Italy and Spain are not far behind. We'll be hearing from them for bailouts within a couple of years. And France, Germany, the U.K. and we ourselves are not a whole lot of years behind them. Ponzi schemes eventually end.

But lets talk about Greece for the monent. I just checked and learned that there are about 11 million Greeks who are still in Greece. So, by my calculations, our corrupt politicians just sent almost $500 per Greek to their corrupt politicians so they can do what's necessary to quiet down the folks in the streets of Athens and such. With cheap Ouzo selling for about $10 bucks a quart that means you, the American taxpayer, are buying each Greek 50 quarts of booze which should keep the streets of Athens pretty well anesthetized for at least a couple of months. With the addition of the German and French and British money the Greeks will probably remain quiet for a few years.

The deluge has been put off for now.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

It's windy out there

Linda is in the kitchen making chicken stir fry as low fat penance for eating a Bridie and a Scotch Egg at the Phoenixville Irish festival. The Bridie was ground meat filling inside puff pastry, the whole thing about as long and fat as an eight inch roll. The Scotch Egg was some sort of sausage meat molded around half a hard boiled egg and then breaded and deep fried. Linda let me take a little bite of each. The Bridie I would call pretty decent; but the Scotch Egg probably explains why most Scots emigrated when they could.

I ate Fish and Chips and then about half of a Funnel Cake for dessert. While we were eating we ran into a British woman and her husband who were also getting Fish and Chips. The woman looked like the Queen Mother when she was about eighty or so. She said she has been in the U.S. for several years. A nice lady; but like most Brits she talked funny.

The Irish festival was interesting; but I'm not sure Phoenixville drew the crowd it was hoping for, perhaps because it was partly cloudy and surprisingly windy. The wind was probably gusting up toward forty miles per hour. And it still is gusting very strongly. I just got back from walking the paths over on the other side of the creek with my pole clipper. There were many small branches broken off the trees, and a few big ones. Oddly enough the biggest broken off branch is from a Red Maple while there are no branches broken off the Silver Maples. And it's the Silver Maple that is supposed to be the fragile one. Go figure. It's one of those mysteries; like the fact that Scots wrap their eggs in sausage meat and play bagpipes while Brits talk funny and look like the Queen Mother.

Not that I'm down on bagpipes. They had a bagpipe band down in Phoenixville that wasn't half bad; although I wondered if the bagpipers were a little chilly under their kilts, what with the wind. And I wondered why there were Scottish bagpipers and a Scottish food vendor at an Irish festival. You would have thought there would be an Irish food vendor; but maybe the Irish in Ireland did something even more questionable with their eggs, assuming they had eggs to go with their potatoes. Irish Stew and Corned Beef and Cabbage are pretty much the only Irish food items I can think of except for those those cinnamon dusted Irish Potato things that they sell around Saint Patty's Day. But come to think of it I've only ever bought those Irish Potato things at the Jewish Deli up in Fort Washington, so maybe they aren't even Irish.

While we were walking around the Irish festival we ran into Rich, who regularly dances with a woman named Monica up at the Ballroom on High in Pottstown. He was there specifically to catch the performance of Charlie Zahm, whom Linda and I once heard at one of the The Joyful Noise performances that used to be held at a couple of the local churches. We learned that Rich and Monica travel all the way from the Fort Washington area to Pottstown to go to the ballroom.

Very interesting, especially when coupled with the fact that we ran into Bob and Grace at the Norristown Arts Festival the other week and learned that Bob travels all the way from Norristown by bus to go to the ballroom. Given the relatively small number of regulars we've gotten to know at the ballroom our recent proclivity to bump into them at festivals is surprising. We've met an average of one and a half ballroom people and one Brit at each festival so far this year. Curious.

Talking about statistics, I've been keeping track of how much meld partners supply during each hand at our weekly pinochle games. We've always repeated as a rule of thumb that you should count on your partner for two meld when deciding whether and how much to bid. I want to see whether that rule bears out in practice.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The case of the mysterious Rubbermaid

Since Easter we've had a nine cup Rubbermaid food container hanging around the house. Someone left it here; and we've been surprised no one's said anything because it's clearly a top of the line sort of model. Unfortunately it doesn't fit in well with our motley collection of such stuff, so I can't just put it in the mix.

So there it sits, on top of the refrigerator, waiting for Linda to puzzle out who its owner is. She suspects that Alex is somehow involved in getting it to our house; but she's not sure whether it came from Boston or whether Alex and Christina were given some food in it which they brought back to our house from Easter dinner at John A's house.

Meanwhile, I'm now more than one third of the way through my twelve step smoking cessation program. Since May first I've been having only eight cigarettes per day. Contrary to Jas's cynical comment on the phone a month or so ago I haven't cheated on the program even once since New Year's Day.