Rome, NY Sucks

Hanna's in.Now he's gotta go with the rest of the Democrats and RINOs

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Does Rob Astorino Have a Chance in Hell?

Andrew Cuomo's dog and pony show of an ethics commission has been exposed. For months, the group was given investigative powers, but had various people reporting back to Cuomo. His office tried to stop investigations and eventually disbanded the commission when it got to close to his pals. Cuomo apparently tried to claim that he had the sole authority to shut them down, even though it looked very much like they were finding ethics violations in Cuomo's own office.

Now there is the potential that Rob Astorino, the most vocal Republican running, has a real case against Cuomo. The Republicans have not fared well statewide since Pataki ended his term. Even the Republican legislature brought us gay marriage and the SAFE Act, which could potentially bite them on the ass in November. We'l have to see if there's some life yet in the NY GOP.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Vote Tenney

I swore I was going to take the time to blog about Richard Hanna's absurdly expensive ad campaign to paint himself as a conservative. Now I can just point to conservative site Legal Insurrection.

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Last War For Late Night

In some ways, this week has been the result of two decades worth of dealings, betrayals and manipulations in the world of late night talk shows. Now that the fairly terrible 2014 winter Olympics are over, Seth Meyers has had his first week on NBC as the new host of Late Night. Jimmy Fallon is the host of the Tonight Show. Leno is off the air. Letterman is the Johnny Carson of late night, having survived the longest and Arsenio Hall is back in syndication. I guess he finally kicked Leno's ass.

I've now read "The Late Shift" and "The War for Late Night," the comprehensive tomes from Bill Carter about the behind the scenes (and occasional on-air) antics of networks, talk show hosts and their champions and minions. I had some moderate interest in the story from 1992, both as a fan of David Letterman and a viewer of "Forever Knight," one of the casualties when Letterman went to CBS.

Conan O'Brien's departure from NBC in 2010 set the stage for this week. That story was similar to the fight from the 1990s. Leno was bot the good soldier and potential traitor. He was always willing to give up the Tonight Show (at least as a bargaining tactic) to keep it. He made a deal with NBC that if they didn't like his 10pm show and took him off the air, Leno could be on TV somewhere else the next week.

In a lot of ways, Conan became a victim of modern times. With a 10pm show, older Leno fans could get him an hour earlier and go to bed. Conan skewed extremely young, and many in that age group were watching Comedy Central at 11pm. At the same time, Leno's show had such low ratings compared to other prime-time fare, it hurt the 11pm news in NBC affiliates which, in turn, hurt Conan's ratings.  When Conan finally walked in 2010, ABC already had their own star and Fox could not effectively mount a new talk show. If he had walked in 2004, he could have been on a network, but he wanted the Tonight Show.

Leno didn't fare so well, either. He made money for NBC, but he also worked cheap. The 10pm show was a disastrous move because it almost lost them affiliates. When the next contract came around, Leno decided he was done with the Tonight Show. He's essentially a stand-up comic who tells jokes at 11:30. Of all the options available, I think the CNN slot opened up by Piers Morgan's firing is the most likely option. I suspect that Leno won't be the ratings powerhouse that some might hope.

Then there's David Letterman. After the 2010 handover, Dave invited Jay to appear with him in a "worst Superbowl party" ad for "The Late Show" also featuring Oprah Winfrey. I think Dave buried the hatchet because he finally got closure. Dave had a small chance to get the Tonight Show by taking over for a floundering Leno in the early weeks of the show for an 18 month trial and no guarantees. The Conan incident revealed that NBC uses the show as a pawn, dangling it in front of people and taking it away when they think they can do better. It even happened to Leno. Letterman makes more money than Leno, owns The Late Show, has a production deal and over 20 years in the same time slot. Leno often describes himself as an employee and he is. When it's his time, NBC fills the chair with someone else. Letterman made the right decision.

I find myself watching Conan O'Brien more often now and chuckling at YouTube videos of his show. I'm over Letterman due to his annoying politics and lack of innovation. Arsenio is as bad as before and less interesting. Jimmy Fallon? I think Lorne Michaels thinks anyone who did Weekend update can have a talk show. Dennis Miller did a pretty good job.

In my case, I wish Forever Knight was back on.


Friday, January 31, 2014

The Deep Freeze

There tends to be an ebb and flow to the severity of Upstate NY winter. While it is entirely possible to have both snowfall and arctic temperatures, precipitation in the extreme cold is usually a couple of powdery inches while lake effect can be a couple of feet of heavy, wet, packing snow. Most of the snow came early in the month, followed by temperatures so low that it never had a chance to melt.

So far, February looks to be seasonable, with regular snow and temperatures in at least positive double digits. This is already a fairly bad winter, as my utility bill will attest. Next month will determine if it is a terrible winter. The one consolation is that the rest of the country has seen their average temperatures fall 30 degrees. Except for California, which is set for a severe drought this summer. At least we don't have much experience with that.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

In 2014

It's 5 o'clock New Year's Day somewhere. Right now, I think that place is Dubai. Yet again, I hang on to a tradition that started with notes passed around a high school classroom and onto the electronic pages of a nearly dead blog. If I get any followers, maybe I'll take the show to my Twitter page. Until then, I have some

Predictions for 2014
  1. Twitter goes out of business, but only after it is sold to a bunch of old white investors for $10 billion dollars.
  2. Drone tests in Texas turn out badly as residents try and succeed at shooting many down.
  3. Amazon stock plummets as consumers learn their drone shipping plan is actually part of an NSA spying program.
  4. Yahoo becomes the new leader in online shopping when they use carrier pigeons to deliver small electronics.
  5. Tweets are replaced by an app called Angry Pigeons where you can order a bird to deliver a note or crap on someone, whichever is preferred.
  6. The Department of Health and Human Services, home of Obamacare overlords, is overrun with bird droppings.
  7. Kathleen Sebelius catches the avian flu and is sentenced to an Obamacare death panel when it is shown she never paid for her platinum plan.
  8. Just to mess with everyone, Tea Party candidates start running as Democrats when Republican leadership gives them the cold shoulder.
  9. After multiple forced host resignations, MSNBC decides to try an actual news format. Ratings plummet among their key demographic, hipster doofuses in ironic pajama onsies.
  10. Democrats win the House and the Senate, but most of them are Tea Party candidates who pledged to start impeachment hearings. Other Democrats start to go along.
  11. Obama, after realizing impending doom, goes to an Obamacare doctor for depression treatment. He is in a vegetative state within 24 hours, but no one can tell the difference.
  12. Joe Biden creates a drone president, but the public soon discovers that it is just a CPR dummy with a football for a head. They prefer it over Biden 2:1.
I for one, salute our new president Football Head.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Tis the Season for Holy Crap It's Cold!

About a decade ago we would have up to a week of temperatures in the -10 to -20 degree range. In the last 5 years it has been more like -10s. This year distinguishes itself by starting November with 60 degree days and ending it in the single digits. The good news is that I can stop hearing how unseasonably cold it is for November after today.

While it sucks for me, this weather is probably closer to what I remember from the 1980s winters. The predictions (which I don't believe anyway) point to this being a cold winter, as opposed to all the hot humid Rome NY winters. I will say that 2012 ended almost snow free and 2013 was at least reasonable. This almost all goes against global warming hysteria. Frankly, global warming could only help this region which was likely responsible for millions of Native American deaths before America made them rich enough to build heated casinos.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Gambling With the Oneidas

New York is following California's lead by putting a series of referendums (spell check says this is right) to the state Constitution in a year where the smallest number of people will vote. One proposal is to allow for the creation of up to 7 Casinos within the state. On principle, I oppose the use of gambling for revenue since it is a regressive tax on the poor. Normally, I would support more casinos only because it would create competition between the Halbritter empire and the rest of the state. I still oppose the referendum because Andrew Cuomo would have the discretion to locate the casinos and central New York would be off limits.

Arthur Ray Halbritter got himself in some trouble this month when he decided to support his current benefactor, Barack Obama, and argue against the existence of a team called the "Redskins." Conservative news site The Daily Caller brought up the more unseemly aspects of Halbritter's career. He was appointed to a tribal leadership position by his aunt, whom he later evicted from Oneida lands. He also does not have a solid claim to being an Oneida Indian, but was reinstated by Sherwood Boehlert's request to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. That's plain cronyism, regardless of culture.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

This Guy Again?

For all the talk about Anthony Weiner running for mayor of New York City, at least he is confined to the hellhole that is downstate. Elliot Spitzer wants to be Comptroller for New York State. Even his wife finally divorced him. Can't this state do the same?

I should do like George Zimmerman did and move to Texas.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Hillbilly

Like many Romans, I work outside of the city. I think Friday was a day many of us had to use our navigation skills (and GPS for me) to find a route in the Mohawk Valley that was not pooled with water. When I told one co-worker about my fairly long distance from work and the lack of chain restaurants near me, he called me a "redneck."

I don't think redneck really applies to anyone in the Northeast, especially with Rome's legendary cloud cover. Also, this city is enormous geographically, so it's preassembled urban sprawl. In my case, however, I live near a farm and see cows on my way to work on a regular basis. I might call myself a hillbilly, especially since I live on an elevated part of the city.

I've run into my share of low income people, ex-cons, white rappers and a few unwed (and more pre-wed) mothers. Frankly, I'm plenty smart but I've kind of slacked off in my daily affairs. I have learned not to be too judgmental about people's position. I reserve the right to dispute people's decisions.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Raw Deal

A generation after one Cuomo negotiated a bad deal with the Oneida Nation, another Cuomo is about to do the same.

The initial compact between Mario the Pious and Diamond Ray Halbritter essentially allowed the Oneida Nation to promote gambling on "their" land as a way to smooth over bad relations between certain Native American interests and the state. It was what the Church used to call an indulgence. Gambling is "bad," but it makes a lot of money and people like it. Since it is illegal for most of the state, it was a way to create monopolies advantageous to one group in a show of reparations.

The Oneidas used this to create an enormous mega casino, pay not taxes of any kind, sell untaxed tobacco, provide the lowest payouts in the East, buy up taxable land they insisted was tax free and sue homeowners for their land.

Part of my problem with this is jealousy. New York should operate like the Oneida Nation. Stop taxing cigarettes and casino winnings. Allow casinos in the rest of the state. Vernon Downs is scraping by with horse racing and video poker, which is not part of the compact and not allowed at the Turning Stone Casino.

The new deal will cement restrictions against state gambling and require an ill-defined payment (explicitly not a tax) from the Oneida Nation and the ending of land claims. The problem with a voluntary payment is the same as the non-payment of Sherill taxes problem. If the Oneidas decide not to pay the state at some point, what court has the power to take it?

This is a good deal for the Oneidas, of course. I notice Mrs. C's arcade was raided this week, located near Ray Halbritter's house. That must have pissed him off no end. I never played the arcade's "games of skill," but the skillful gamesman appears to be Halbritter himself. Make a deal with a politician whose days are numbered to get a free pass for decades to come.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Taxes: More Necessary or Evil?

Anyone who files taxes in New York knows that none of the forms are easy, contain dozens of questions and is generally more dreaded than the federal return. New York finds these forms hard to deal with as well. They'd like everyone to file electronically, and if you file once using software, you stopped getting forms years ago. Now, if you use software to file, you are legally required to e-file. I'm still not sure if that also requires spending the extra NY state fees, since there is basically no "free" state filing available.

I always thought that New York would be better off if they provided a CD or other media with tax information and possibly a simple filing program to fill out the forms. It turns out that there may be more sinister forces at work. Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, has been lobbying the government to keep government-created systems of tax filing away from taxpayers. The last system that turned tax filing into an automated process was the now-defunct Telefile.

Telefile let taxpayers eligible for single 1040EZ filing call a number, use their phone to enter W-2 information and file the return in 15-20 minutes (after filling out the applicable worksheets). While using your touch-tone phone to file returns is a little antiquated, the same process could be used on a secure web page. Even if this happened, New York would refuse such a simple system.

New York State is a tax disaster. At least one page of the "simple" form is dedicated to extra taxes for New York City, but appear for everyone in the state. Until this year, filers had to transcribe everything from their W-2 onto a form that looked like a W-2 for no particular reason. The state also requires filling out a box for non-taxed internet purchases, even though separating them can be nearly impossible. I can't even imagine what taxes are like for businesses.

Tax simplification increases compliance. Giving everyone a STAR rebate or energy tax breaks don't make up for high taxes and high energy prices. I'll be doing my taxes on paper this year, and I'm not going to try to keep my handwriting neat.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Hazy Shade of Winter

This has been a better winter than some, but definitely not like last year. This month, the groundhog has been proven wrong and the weather has been extra crappy heading into March. At this point, I'm just letting the snow collect on the driveway until my car actually stops moving in it. This is the week winter has officially broken me in 2013.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Keeler Over

I don't like Bill Keeler.

For me, it goes back decades. My favorite Central NY radio personality was Bill Wightman. He jumped from 104 to 107 on the FM dial (which were different formats at the time) and then left upstate radio altogether and seems to have relocated to Boston. Bill Keeler was the replacement.

Bill Keeler disappeared from the area himself, went to bigger markets, failed and returned to the area. He didn't get any better. He managed to ruin my morning drive again when he replaced Don Imus on WXUR 92.7 before being fired, yet again. Mind you, WXUR brought Imus back after his 2007 removal by his synidcator. Now, they have Bob and Tom, which is only marginally better than Keeler.

Remember Keeler's TV show? I didn't think so.

After being canned from WXUR and doing internet radio in what I assume was his garage, Keeler is now annoying me yet again on WIBX. He's the newest member of the "First News" morning show, taking the airwaves by storm with factually inaccurate information about guns and then lurching in the other direction with a parody, er, tribute song supposedly supporting Remington Arms in the New York gun legislation battle. I can almost hear Kristine Bellino cringe every time Bill talks to her.

Aside from complaints about his back and uncomfortable interviews with local newsmakers, Keeler touted his big get of Rob Pilatus, the still living half of Milli Vanilli following the beyonce lip sync story. This is the new face of radio news in Central New York.

I need to get me an iPod. Maybe I'll load it with my old Bill Wightman tapes.

Monday, December 31, 2012

In 2013

I "predicted" the firing of Keith Olbermann, which is about as much of a sure thing as there can be in this world. Yet again, the world has not been destroyed and I embark on another decade of this thing with

Predictions for 2013

1. Novelty stationery businesses go out of business when "Mayan Calendars" don't sell. The calendars consist of twelve blank pages.

2. Democrats propose a 1 trillion dollar bailout of calendar manufacturers.

3. At 12:01am on 1/1/13, China begins a hostile takeover of the United States. The plan falls apart due to shoddy workmanship and sub-par materials.

4. Obama "care" becomes the law of the land. New provisions like random urine tests and rectal exams prove less popular than the White House expected.

5. Mitt Romney prepares to move his family back to Mexico, along with all the people in the heart of Philadelphia's slums who voted for him.

6. Hillary Clinton slips into a brief coma. She wakes up to find she has that future predicting power from Stephen King's "The Dead Zone."

7. When Clinton shakes President Obama's hand after returning to work, she has a horrific vision of a post-apocalyptic future. She's not very surprised.

8. After moving to Mexico, it is discovered that Mitt Romney is actually funding the country's space program using Newt Gingrich's idea for a moon base.

9. Romney decides that not enough people can be saved with a rocket to the moon. He places a big sign stating "Super Expensive Vacation Home with Free Female Impersonator Dresses and Steam Room." Mr. and Mrs. Obama are drawn to it like moths to a flame.

10. With Barack Obama finally being a non-resident alien and Biden missing on a fact finding mission in an Irish pub, John Boehner becomes president. After a severe beating by his Congressional caucus, he does a mostly acceptable job.

11. The moon explodes due to mismanagement. The Maya were close.

Boom! And Happy New Year!

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Morons

The thing that I think distinguished me from being a kid to an adult is the knowledge that even people with special knowledge and skills are generally as smart (or dumb) as everybody else. Some people get a lot of credit or money, but they just do a job, like everyone else with a job. Sure, there are smart people, but even people at the top of their game are only occasionally brilliant.

I don't know a lot about "cars." It's something that would require me to spend a lot of time knocking around a vehicle and trying to piece things together. If I assembled and disassembled a car a few times, I'd probably get it. So, I tend to rely on the people who do know about cars.

I had a huge repair bill at Goodyear today. They didn't really screw me over except for the fact that they jack up prices more than just about anyone. I went there because I had an intermittent problem that none of the half dozen car guys I knew could figure out. I trust Goodyear's diagnostic skills more than Mavis. Then I find out that they "diagnosed" that the car wouldn't start and they had to replace the fuel pump.

Never have Goodyear replace your fuel pump. It's just too much of an opportunity for them to explode your bill. If any of the morons who think they knew anything about cars had mentioned fuel pump, I would have had it replaced at Mavis or one of the other places that actually drop tanks. I chose to vent here because I feel a massive Obama-level tantrum coming on and I can't blow up at people I work with.

Maybe I rely too much on the opinions of other people in this area, but they should consider doing what I do when I talk about computers and electronics. If I don't know something, I take the hit on my ego and state that I don't know. Regardless, from now on I consider anyone who talks about cards to not know anything of consequence.

Too bad the Chevy Volt was a big flaming turd. I wonder where I can get a Nissan Leaf?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Winter of Our Discontent

Judging by the quick change of season this month, I imagine that winter will not be the breeze that it was last year. I remmeber that I shoveled all of 3 times, and any of those times I could have let the snow melt on its own. This year, I'm planning to get a snow thrower (although I call it a snowblower).

The thing ticking me off right now is the new Daylight Savings. Well, it's not that new. If Fall back is the "real" time and Sring forward is the invented time, why does the fake one last two months longer than the real one? It mostly means I start going to work in the dark next month, since by the time we Fall back, that hour won't give up any sunrise.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Breaking Bath

In the famous Blue Boy episode of Dragnet, Friday and Gannon had to deal with drug addicts having bad trips without the power of law to stop its use. LSD was once in the place "bath salts" are today. It seems like Central New York is ground zero for the current outbreak of users.

I wondered why someone would want to take a drug that leaves them naked, arrested by the cops and possibly eating a dog. It's the same reason anyone takes crystal meth, the quick, cheap high and damn the consequences. Then the process is glorified by a series where capitalism is perverted to show a chemistry teacher can make a better drug and become a kingpin.

Well, meth is just crushed up cold medicine for the most part, and people don't really care about the quality of their drugs, just the knock you on your ass effects. At this point, I'd say to legalize drugs with one caveat. If you get caught using them, you don't go to jail, you lose your right to vote. Obviously, you have a problem with wise decisions. If you want to drop out, then really drop out.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Bus Monitor Irony

The bus monitor story from Greece, NY made national news because of YouTube and the surprise of people about what kids are really like. The thing is, this bullied woman was the bus monitor. She was supposed to keep crap from happening. She actually didn't do her job and because the target of abuse. What saved her was a camera.

What we need to do is put all the little hellions on camera. Forget about bus monitors. Let's put these idiots in their natural habitat and post it on the internet. Then their parents can dispense the kind of justice they should have in the first place.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Anonymity

Ain't no Republican like a New York Republican, 'cause a New York Republican don't stop acting like a Democrat.

Republican Assemblyman Jim Conte is the fool behind this bill and I would rather have a Democrat in his place because of it. He states that his legislation will reduce "mean-spirited and baseless political attacks” and “turns the spotlight on cyberbullies by forcing them to reveal their identity.”

That's bull. First of all, kids who are cyberbullied frequently know their tormentors. If they don't, said attacks will not occur on something as archaic as a newspaper's website. I do think it could have a chilling effect on political attacks, by subjecting people to real-life lawsuits for defamation by the same jackasses proposing this bill.

That's the thing. Internet anonymity is a gift to free speech. If that speech is abused or devolves into threats, the police have a mechanism to stop it. What anonymity does is require that criticism reach a sufficient level to get the authorities involved.

If you want to know why I don't use my "real" name on my blog, google the name "Brett Kimberlin." He managed to find the identity of a well-known blogger, get him and his wife fired from their jobs with the possibility of violent retaliation and got said blogger thrown in jail by a judge who didn't even understand what a blog is.

I was threatened with exposure because of my posts about the Rome, NY school board. Good luck. "Clues" to my identity are frequently lies. Plus, I don't give a crap about the school system any more. I'm just saving up to get out. This bill is just another reason.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Buying Your House Over

This was property tax day in Rome. With city and county, it adds up to somethign like 5% of a home's assesed value. In 20 years, you buy your house again. usually, we call it a mortgage.

Especialy in states with no property taxes.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Many Months, Few Inches

One of my first blog posts seven years ago was about 9" of snow falling in a single day. We've barely gotten that much in 4 months of winter. I still hear that we're going to pay for this moderate weather, but there's not much time left to settle the bill.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The 80s Are Back

I see that a Superbowl ad will run paying homage to "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." On top of that. Nickelodeon's "Victorious" payed homage to the teen classic "The Breakfast Club."

I remember the 80s. They were pretty cool. These remakes are not.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

In 2012

After a three-year run of at least one partially correct prediction, I came up empty for 2011. This year, I will boldly go on making guesses that are about 3% accurate

Predictions for 2012
1. Mitt Romney "wins" the Iowa caucuses with a sad 19% of the vote. He pledges to fight so hard that he will continue to get the bare mathematical minimum to win any contest.

2. President Obama, drunk with power, starts marking Arab leaders for death by announcing "I find your lack of faith disturbing."

3. The spokesman for an Arab interest group protests the use of the phrase "lack of faith" as offensive to followers of Islam. Shortly after, he goes into a choking fit.

4. Approval ratings for the administration improve after the revelation of Operation Ice Pirates. The state department funnels advanced solar technology to drug cartels in Mexico. Those whose equipment did not blow up and kill them are captured when it breaks down.

5. Keith Olbermann loses favor with Current TV when he is pulled from coverage of Republican primary contests. Olbermann takes to Twitter to express his outrage and look for a new multi million dollar job. Major League Baseball finally offers to hire him if he only talks about politics 1% of the time, during the commercial breaks.

6. Japan recovers from the damage of last year's tsunamis and radiation leaks. However, some of the nuclear material runs into the ocean and reanimates Osama bin Laden as a 50ft monster. When Obama tries his "lack of faith" stuff, his head explodes due to the superior evil magic of Oszilla.

7. The Church of Latter Day Saints gets a public relations boost when Mitt Romney destroys Oszilla with one of Joseph Smith's golden plates.

8. Apple experiences a colossal failure when it introduces the iBlob, a vat of goo that you climb into to be connected to everything. "Take the blue pill" becomes the worst marketing slogan in history.

9. Tea Party groups endorse Rick Santorum instead of Romney. Mitt decides to go third party.

10. Occupy Wall Street has no purpose after Obama's head explodes. They wander the streets, talking incoherently and soiling themselves. No one notices the difference.

11. After telling Joe Biden to go to hell, Hillary Clinton joins with Mitt Romney in his third party run. With the choice of Santorum / Gingrich, Biden / Baldwin or Romney / Clinton, a third-party finally wins the White House.

12. Predictably, the election is followed by the end of the world.

Monday, December 26, 2011

"He's making violent love to me, Mother!"

I came kind of late to the movie "It's a Wonderful Life." Instead, I endured the hackneyed tale that is "Miracle on 34th Street." The irony is that neither has a lot to do with Christmas. One is about some guy who couldn't possibly be real. The other is about Santa.

Many Christmas themed television episodes either borrow from the classic Dickens tale "A Christmas Carol" or the concept of what life would be like without you in "It's a Wonderful Life." It's an iconic concept, but it is also an amazing movie in its own right.

In short, an angel was dispatched to help George when he reached his greatest moment of despair. As a child, he saved his brother from drowning. He stopped a druggist from delivering a fatal prescription. He took over his family's bank and made it possible for people in the town to buy their own homes and businesses. He married the girl who waited for him for years and eventually had four children with her. His actions helped his brother Harry to become successful, his friend Sam to become rich and many to become upwardly mobile.

Through his uncle Billy's absent-mindedness, an $8,000 deposit was lost on the day a bank examiner showed up. In danger of arrest and financial ruin, George contemplated suicide. Then he met the angel Clarence. Clarence eventually showed him what life would be like had he never been born.

When George was never born, we learn
  • Harry died in the ice that day, and his mother was left alone after his father's death. A number of soldiers died in that transport without Harry being a pilot in WWII.
  • Mr. Gower, the druggust, spent 20 years in prison when a child was poisoned from his mistake.
  • Bedford Falls is Pottersville now, filled with bars and all night clubs. An old friend,Violet, is being arrested.
  • Ernie, the cab driver, lives at Potter's field and his wife left him.
  • Uncle Billy is in an asylum.
  • Mary, his wife, is an old maid librarian
In some ways, the title of the original story, "The Greatest Gift," was a better title. George has a pretty good life, but it's not about him. The implication of "It's a Wonderful Life" is that George Bailey is defined by the positive impact he has on others. What he actually got was the gift of knowing that he isn't better off having never been born, and neither is anyone else.

One question to ask is what would happen to George Bailey had he not made the decision to take over the Building and Loan? Delaying college was one thing. He was unable to pay for it until he saved up. The first decision that would change the course of his adult life was keeping the Building and Loan in business after his father died. George seemed to be a personable, bright man. He gave Sam Wainwright the plastics idea and stopped a run on the bank. Maybe George would have become a successful architect in New York.

Then again, his family may not have fared so well. Billy would drink himself into an early grave. Harry would support his mother until he was drafted. Not having his own education, he might end up in the infantry. Those men in the transport would still die. Pottersville would become a reality.

If we don't take the concept that everyone's life touches many others and see George Bailey as a superior man, we can think about him in terms of Ayn Rand. What would Rand make of George? He was s superior man, but he was something of a sap. Was Potter the greater man because he had more money? I would say no. First of all, Potter's one-dimensional avarice had a fatal flaw. Bailey's trust in his fellow man paid off. The Building and Loan was solvent and people were moving into homes and out of Potter's tenements. Plus, George had 4 children. Progeny always beats out one man's accumulation of wealth.

Is the movie a story of liberalism or conservatism? I would tend to say that there is little liberalism involved. The only villain is greed. Capitalism is praised. Sam is a successful businessman. Potter has to steal and cheat to continue. It's certainly not a message of socialism. No mention is made of FDR saving Bedford Falls. In fact, the only thing Roosevelt seemed to do for the town was send most of its young men to war. I'm conservative and I'm a fan of voluntary collectivism. It's just too bad the movie portrays it only working when one man sells houses for half their value. Then again, the Building and Loan probably would survive the recession of 2008 with that policy.

Still, George represents the everyman. The disturbing aspect of that is how much he is driven by guilt and anger. Potter is a small man, in his way. He doesn't have any interests outside of Bedford Falls. For no particular reason, he wants to turn the town into a den of profitable sin and vice. He has disdain for his fellow man. The poor deserve to be poor. George Bailey, in his opinion, deserves to be rich. Instead, he helps everyone else out to his detriment. He eventually comes to regard George Bailey as the enemy. George considered Potter an enemy since his father died. He blamed Potter and his constant desire to be the only bank in town. George stayed behind to not disappoint others. When that didn't work, he stayed to defeat Potter.
Potter ended up being a pretty one-note character in an era when FDR was the president for over a decade. He was described as both rich and mean. He got rich by being mean. In case that wasn't enough, Potter all but stole $8,000 when Billy left it in that paper. One can see why the Saturday Night Live writers thought of an alternate ending where Potter was found out and beaten to death by the citizens of Bedford Falls.

I see the movie as something of a love story. As much as George saves everyone else, Mary saves him. What happens to George is like a reverse of 2000's "The Family Man," where a bachelor sees what his life is like when he marries his sweetheart. If your're going to have a Christmas movie that's not about Christ, it might as well be about love.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Shop 'til You're Dropped

The Rome Wal-Mart's Black Friday story of a woman grabbing all the cell phones and running was luckily shadowed by the more dramatic tale of a woman at a differnt Wal-Mart pepper spraying people to get ahead in line. Welcome to the most wonderful time of the year.

Every year, there's a story of mayhem at a Black Friday sale. Then the next day there are stories about how this can be prevented in the future. I have an idea. Stop having these cattle calls at midnight after Thanksgiving for 5 LCD TVs at 90% off.

These things combine at least three things I loathe. You have to wait in line in the cold. You have to fight with people and you don't get to research the items on sale. And it gets better. Invariably, the stuff from these sales ends up on eBay anyway. It amounts to free advertising, driven by sad consumers.

Stores are directly responsible for these sales getting out of hand. If stock was available or, God forbid, eligible for a rain chack, there wouldn't be a stampede. I know for certain that I would not get one of those incredible deals. I can't even find the stuff in a regular Best Buy sale because it's gone by Monday. I'll save my shopping for the week before Christmas, when retailers are really desperate for money and not just trying to get turkeys into the stores after Turkey Day.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

It's a Trick

I've pretty much broken off from blogging here, which is too bad. I managed to miss both September and October, but I'll do a little better with November.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Worse Than the Storm

I was going to post about this weekend's tropical storm in CNY until I spent 20 minutes just trying to log into Blogger. I can see why they're losing page views.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Can We REALLY Afford It?

Here's a math problem for Oneida Country's new dumb ass media blitz.

Cost of "Can You Afford it?" DWI signs / Number of people who will not drink and drive just because of those signs.

There were 890 drunk drivers in the country last year. Will it be any less this year?

Monday, May 16, 2011

I'll Pass

So, United Teachers (which is the Teachers' UNION) is running radio ads encouraging us to "pass it on." I believe "it" is the ever-increasing taxes we should pass to the next generation. I guess in the 80s and 90s, we were willing to pass whatever budget went on the ballot and we should do so forever. It seems like Ponzi it on, because the property tax proceeds are not just increasing, the percentage of home value to be paid in taxes is increasing as well.

Personally, I'm going to pass on the big school budget, the tacked-on library charge and any other crap they want tomorrow. As far as the board itself, no one really wants the job who could do something anyway, so I don't see what the point is in picking anyone. Be like Monty Brewster, vote None of the Above.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Touchdown

I had the misfortune of getting home during the start of yesterday's storm. Luckily, I was only blasted by wind and rain. I saw the marble-sized hail outside a few minutes later. I didn't see the tornado that apparently rouched down in the city.

This seeems to be an ass-kicking year for storms, pretty much around the country. Constant snow and cold this winter. Rain for weeks in April. I assume the summer will be muggy punctuated by rain storms. Good times.

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