Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It's my money and I'll donate if I want to

I couldn't decide where to put this. I was thinking Vig the Geek, but it's more personal even though it's about someone in technology. I wanted to do a video to really capture the annoyance. In the end I thought this might be the place for it because it's personal venting about my own ideas and other people's inability to think straight.

I read an article today called "The Mystery of Steve Jobs' Public Giving." It was a New York Times article by Andrew Ross Sorkin. We all know that the gray lady leans left so I shouldn't be surprised they they judge people by the lack of philanthropy. This article is SO ridiculous, however, that I couldn't leave it ignored. I really suggest you read it so you'll understand why I'm annoyed. This guy Sorkin clearly does not know Steve Jobs at all even through he claims he's been an admirer of his for some time.

First let's look at the definition of the word: "Philanthropy - the desire to promote welfare of others, expressed esp. by the generous donation of money to good causes." The desire, not the expectation. Not just the act. So when someone makes a billion dollars and gives it away to keep stupid NY Times reporters off his/her back, it's not philanthropic. It's buffing the image to shut up the people who focus on the wrong part of the story.

Also, this guy's writing is atrocious. I'm assuming that the NY Times has editors, but I may be wrong in my assumption. Mr. Sorkin likes the word long and re-uses it in a certain context over and over. His repetition is awful.
"None of this is meant to judge Mr. Jobs. I have long been a huge admirer of Mr. Jobs"
"There has long been speculation of a $150 million donation..."
"But the lack of public philanthropy by Mr. Jobs - long whispered about..."
"(Mr. Steinhardt has long held an inexplicable grudge"

Let's look at the meat of the article. Sorkin wonders why Jobs hasn't publicly given money to any charity or signed the Giving Pledge. He also goes on to talk about the likelihood that Jobs has given away money privately or anonymously. He says, "His wife, Lauren Powell Jobs, sits on the boards of Teach for America, and the New Schools Venture Fund, among others, and presumably donates money to those organizations, though neither she nor her husband are listed among its big donors."

He also reminds us that Steve has been battling Pancreatic cancer for many years and underwent a liver transplant in 2009 in Memphis because California did not have a donor list. It does now, thanks to Jobs' intervention and conversation with Maria Shriver - first lady to the governor of California.

He compares Jobs to Gates. Gates had a larger fortune, earlier than Jobs and stopped working earlier. Jobs had his focus on Apple until 4 days ago. He compares Jobs to Warren Buffett. Buffett is the world's richest man, Jobs is not by a longshot.

Here's the deal. Can Steve Jobs afford to be more philanthropic? Sure. Would it hurt to give a few bucks away? Nope. Does he HAVE to? No. Should he be buffeted by slanderous, poorly written attacks from liberal news organizations if he doesn't? ABSO-FREAKIN-LUTELY NOT! Steve is a self-proclaimed hippy who doesn't care about money. He's not hoarding it, although it's within his rights to do so. His focus was on Apple. He felt he could do more good within Apple. Restoring its profitability and creating products good for the world is his version of philanthropy. Did you or Mr. Sorkin know that the education department of Apple is something hat held Steve's focus. Getting computers into schools has (to steal from Sorkin's style) long been one of Apple's strengths.

Steve is a quiet man. He wears jeans and raggedy shoes with a black turtleneck. He's no ostentatious with his fortune. He's not public about his life in any way. He doesn't care about the money. He doesn't care about the glory. He's the antithesis of what I would be with $8.3 billion in the bank. He started Apple in a garage and got thrown out. He masterminded his way back in and brought the company from the brink of bankruptcy to the powerhouse it is today. He's changed the world of computing. He's revamped technology as we know it. He's fostered a culture and community in apple to do the same thing after his departure. But he hasn't written a check - at least not publicly.

It's his money. He has every right to keep every last nickel if he wants. He worked for it. He's not Paris Hilton that's famous for her last name and a using a night-vision camera. He worked for that money. He created. What's the last thing the average person created besides a macaroni picture frame and popsicle pot holder. He invented from nothing and was rewarded for his efforts. He focused on making great products for people while battling to stay alive for the last 8 or so years.

I like the part that says, "Mr. Jobs views on charity are unclear since he rarely talks about it." Well, Mr. Sorkin, if you had a clue you'd realize that Mr. Jobs rarely talks about ANYTHING unless he's on stage for a keynote. He's a private man. You started the article saying that none of this was to judge Mr. Jobs, yet you compared him to everyone that does more than he does. and explained how those who don't give had to defend themselves with statements to the ones Steve Jobs makes. I'm pretty sure your goal was to take everyone who read your article and shift their focus away from the amazing products he's created, the resurgence for Apple that happened at his hands, his ailing health and current fight for his life, the changes Apple will undergo with his departure and turn them it toward the face that he doens't give public charitable donations.

I hope one day he goes public with millions of dollars he's given away and he sends you the receipts. This is irresponsible journalism in my opinion. I didn't like it when they got on Gates' case about it. I didn't like hearing "Finally" toward Buffett when he decided to give away his fortune.

At the end of the day, any money a person makes is their own. It's nice to give back, but they should never be made to feel that HAVE to and damn sure shouldn't be judged if they don't. Let's say Jobs has $8.3 billion and he should give away 5%. That's $415 million. So Sorkin, let's say you make $100,000. Are you even donating 5 grand a year? I doubt it. It's still the same percentage. Dollar for dollar, to scale.

Judge not, lest ye be judged. And leave poor Steve Jobs alone. He left the company he built and loved because he's, more than likely, dying.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A good buy?

Best Buy has come under fire from the general public because they were selling cases of water for $40 to people affected by hurricane Irene. Everyone is in an outrage over the whole thing. I disagree. I think $40 is unreasonable for a case of water, which is why I would never swipe my card for it. First, I think it's important to note that people who are so unprepared for a hurricane that they have to buy water from Best Buy get what they deserve with $40 cases. If a hurricane is headed your way, why are you in Best Buy in the first place.

Anyway, people are going berserk about this. The particular store declined to comment which spun people into pissed off even further. Today Best Buy, as a company, came out with a statement about the whole thing. Here is their statement:
We truly appreciate all of you making us aware of your feedback in regards to one of our stores selling cases of bottled water priced inappropriately.
After receiving requests to buy cases of bottled water rather than individual bottles as we typically sell them, the team involved posted the cumulative price of each item, as the price for the case.
Best Buy did not intend to take advantage of the need for supplies in the wake of Hurricane Irene and we corrected the matter immediately.
Of course, rather than understand this, the public is even MORE pissed off about it. People are boycotting Best Buy over it. That's a good idea. Go somewhere else. You think this gigantic corporation is going to miss your business? They made a mistake, they apologized. All of you faultless people can't understand what it's like to have a flaw. There are currently 229 comments on Best Buy's Facebook page, most of which are screaming that the company is full of assholes.

Best Buy sells water by the bottle at the checkout line. It's probably about 2 bucks, maybe $1.70. That sounds like it's close to $40 for 24 bottles. Typically, when you buy things by the case, it's cheaper than the sum of its parts. Maybe Best Buy should have had a price for the case as a whole but what you may have forgotten is that they sell ELECTRONICS. The water bottles is a convenience along with the Coke/Sprite/Dr.Pepper/etc on checkout. It's no different than the Snickers bars and National Enquirers in the supermarket. As anyone who has spent even an hour working a register in a supermarket knows, often things don't scan. This means the UPC barcode is not in the system or there is no SKU for that product.

Is it possible that this affects Best Buy? I'd say it's not only possible or even likely, but definite that they do not have a code for a case of water. Know why? They don't sell it by the case. So people are stupid and unprepared and shopping for DVDs in case the power goes out and realize "Oh shit... we have no water." So they ask Best Buy if they can buy a case of it. There's no way to ring it up other than charging for 24 bottles x price per bottle. It's that or nothing. They try to help out the stupid masses in a pinch and get slammed for it.

Next time, get your ass up and get the necessities, not a new TV.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Furry family member, Part II

I'm faced with a really tough decision.

Benny is a kitten and therefore he is hyper and overbearing. However, he is a lot of each of these even for a kitten. He is way over the top and can be quite irritating. He's still adorable and I love him though. He's funny and playful and SUPER lovey and everyone enjoys playing with him. He's just a hyper little kid who doesn't know when enough is enough. He's that kid that you pick up throw around and when it's all over he stops, catches his breath, looks up and says, "Again Daddy!" Ugh. Not again. I'm tired. But that's my dopey little boy.

Here's the situation. Last night, dopey locked himself in the bathroom while I was watching TV. He stands on his back legs and leans on the door until it swings shut and he's stuck inside (EVERY door in my home needs a doorstop because he does this a lot lately). He's also like a kid in the sense that he's never quiet and you wish he would be, but the moment he is, you get worried. Uh oh. Benny isn't in my face or knocking stuff over, something is wrong here.

While he was enduring his self imposed incarceration (and as it turns out, turning toilet paper into confetti), the other two were VERY different. Shadow jumps up on my lap while I'm reclining on the couch and does a spin and collapse to cuddle. The only time she cuddles with me is when I'm asleep, she sleeps at my feet. NEVER does she curl up on the lap, although she used to. Herbie was not far behind. Herbie is cool, let me tell you. He just chills. Nothing really riles him up (except a laser pointer). He give casual headbutts and rubs against my legs when he's hungry but he was named Herbie after Herbie the Lovebug because he just could not get enough of being cuddly. Now, as anyone who has been here can attest to, he can barely be found. Last night he cuddled up just like Shadow did.

All of a sudden, it occurs to me that the one who is normally in my face is totally missing so I freed Benny boy from the bathroom. Immediately he comes into the living room and jumps on my lap. Where are Shadow and Herbie? MIA. They are not aggressive like him and won't fight for attention. A little while later I picked up Herbie and he was cool until Benny showed up. They are not themselves around him.

They get along and play with him, but clearly their affection toward me is muted in his presence. He may grow out of this aggressive mentality, but by that point it will be so well ingrained in Herbie to not be affectionate that he may not change.

Three cats is exponentially more to deal with than two. More food (and expensive kitten food), more litter, more cleaning, more treats, more of everything. It's harder to find places to rent that will allow three cats. They are always under my feet. I have every reason in the world to find a home for Benny, but as anyone with a pet knows, you don't do it for logic.

I love crazy Benny and I'm super attached to him, but if he is affecting the moods of TWO other cats, both of which were here and happy before him, what can I do? I hate to even consider getting rid of him, but I think I have to - consider it, that is.

Furry family member, Part I

I've known people my whole life who had pets and these people were distraught about the loss of a pet. They were AS distraught as if it would have been a human relative. I never understood this because, growing up, we had no pets (unless you count the non-cuddly fish). My brother and I were allergic to everything as kids, all of which I outgrew, but the pet thing just never happened. We always wanted a dog as most boys do.

As I entered adulthood, it just never occurred to me. My ex-wife had 3 cats when we got together and when she moved in she wanted to bring them. There was no way in hell that was happening. Can you imagine going from no pets for 30 years and then to 3 cats? So she found homes for all but one. I was stuck and she brought him. He wasn't that bad really. When we moved to Mississippi from South Carolina we decided it was time for him to have a playmate and we got Shadow. We named her Shadow because she follows me everywhere I go. She was just a tiny 5 week old kitten when she arrived and she was adorable and clumsy. A real source of entertainment. I then began to understand how people fall in love and get attached.

When she left she took her cat, but Shadow was to remain with me. There was no way she was taking Shadow. Unfortunately, just like a person, Shadow reacted poorly to this change. Her brother and mom left at the same time and never came back. She'd wake up in the middle of the night with that crying meow they do. I'd leave for work and hear her crying through the door and find her sleeping by it waiting for me to come home. When she wasn't on my lap, she'd be sleeping on clothes. I had to leave a shirt on the floor for her to curl up with. When I had my (albeit very few) downturns in mood about the divorce, she got very maternal and would sit with me and look up or lick my hands to be reassuring.

They may be animals and incapable of expression or vocalization, but make no mistake, they know when people are happy, upset, etc and they react accordingly. Dogs, seem to do this less so, but my experience is quite limited. Cats really have a range of emotion.

So I go to get Shadow a sibling, Herbie. He's a tiny kitten with similar color patterns to Shadow. He's a lover and a cuddler and after a few days, they get along great. This is when the "crazy cat lady" jokes begin along with me developing a propensity to want to choke the people that repeat these jokes over and over.

A few months go by and I'm at PetSmart getting items for the cats and I see the cages with kittens. They are adorable and me and my buddy, Tommy, turn into blithering idiots. Some very tough looking guy passes us and we straighten right up until he stops to see what we're looking at and does the same thing. One of the kittens was Benny, but he had a brother and I wasn't about to get 2. Unfortunately for me, someone adopted his brother and I couldn't resist. The tiniest kitten I've had came home with me on the spot.

So now the jokes are in high gear. For some reason, having cats make me a crazy cat lady. For some reason, it's socially unacceptable for a man to have cats. Some people are light hearted about it and it's simply irritating due to repetition. Some people keep turning and twisting the knife because the are socially awkward and don't know when enough is enough. Some people have actually spread legitimate, serious rumors that my adoption of cats was because I'm actually gay, which is asinine - a) I'm not gay and b) the first gay person I know that comes to mind has a dog so explain the connection. Can you believe that one person actually gave me a stupid little sign to hang in my home that says "You say crazy cat lady like it's a bad thing." Did you really think I'd hang that up? And it was given to me in front of the rumor mongers.

I do not understand this. The notion of a crazy cat lady stems from the woman who dies old and alone surrounded by as many cats as years she's been alive. I can't see how I fit that bill. I'm not old, I'm not a woman, I don't have a house full of kittens. As far as being alone, that sterotype is the spinster who has always been alone whereas I was married and now divorced - like 50+% of people in this country. So, I'm failing to draw any parallels.

I like dogs. Having a dog would be awesome. I live in an apartment with no space for a dog to run. I work 10 hours a day, plus school, plus a brand new company I started, plus a social life. I do not have time for a dog. Cats are self sufficient. Full bowls of water and food and a litter box that needs to be scooped every other day and they do their own thing. It's easy. I can go away for probably up to 4-5 days without having anyone look in on them. My friends with dogs need to stop back home several times per day to let them out. My life does not support that.

There are tons of cats and dogs without homes. There are 3 less out there now. If that turns me into a 65 year old woman who dies alone, then so be it. Do you have pets? If so, then you understand the attachment. If you don't, then don't judge me. They are like children. Everyone with a pet knows this attachment.

So, I'm done with the crazy cat lady jokes. Enough is enough. It's rude and untrue and I've heard it 1000 times. Even a joke that started funny, wouldn't be funny after all that time. One that started out stupid, REALLY irritates the hell out of me. I've let it roll off my back for a year, but not anymore. So, can we move on to other things or are your lives SO hollow that you have no choice but to judge me for mine?

To be continued...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Discriminatory or business?

Today Bloomberg had a case dropped against it that it discriminates against pregnant women as a practice. That's not to say that they haven't discriminated individually; just not as a practice.

Several women banded together to file a suit against the company founded by New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg. However, a judge threw it out today stating that j'accuse is not enough in the court system. The burden of proof wasn't there.

So these women will be filing individual lawsuits against the company to have their cases heard, a plight traditionally harder to see through to completion. This is generally the case because personal circumstances make it harder to put the onus on the company.

So I ask you, if a woman is pregnant, for example, and is eliminated from meetings, is it discriminatory? The only answer is - maybe. The question - why? - must be asked. People seem to have a sense of entitlement and believe that the company's responsibility is to the employee. Realistically, the company's responsibility is to ALL employees AND to business.

So why were these women excluded from portions of business? The parts that we don't know are whether the pregnancies interrupted business for reasons such as women being ill. Some meetings require long presentations. There are any number of reasons that may, or may not, apply.

Does a company have to provide explanation? These women were hired because of their skills and abilities to help the company make money. It wasn't charity. It's about business. You know what's coming - the business of business is business. And if ANYTHING is interrupting business then a change needs to be made.

People say that alcoholism is a disease and cannot be helped, yet they wouldn't keep an alcoholic on staff. I'm not trying to liken pregnancy to alcoholism. All I'm saying is that it's a situation in someone's life and if it interrupts business then it does. It sucks for that person, but it sucks for the business as well. It. It can't be helped, but should a business suffer over some perceived allegiance to an employee? Should a business cost itself money and degrade business and consequently possible jobs to other employees over the same allegiance?

Every employee knows the score when they arrive. They are there to help the company make money so they can make money themselves. None of it is about friendship. There is no relationship with the company. So if you're not pulling your weight, for ANY reason, then it's time for a change. As a person, I hate to see it happen. As a business owner, my business would come first.

I don't know the personal stories of these women, but Bloomberg (the person and the company) didn't get to where they are today by being bad at business. Making a public spectacle of it all is ridiculous. Making a choice to get pregnant is a choice and it comes with a lifestyle change. A person has to accept responsibility for the choices they make. Sometimes business and family are exclusive of one another. That's just the way it goes.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Deregulation and greed

With the tumultuous market we've seen over the last couple of weeks, the conversations have turned to the root of all of this. Was it 2008? What caused that? It's no secret that I'm a super conservative, capitalist, anti-liberal, pro-big business, greedy, dollar chaser. However, I can't begin to agree with the deregulation that began 30 years ago. To say "leave the market alone. It will take care of itself." is totally insane. Why would anyone stop doing what they are doing if it is making them money? Because it's the right thing? Since when do for profit businesses and people care about the right thing. Their right thing is their pocket. Truth be told, if I was in any of their shoes, I'd have probably done the same thing though. The temptation to make hundreds of millions of dollars would be greater than considering the consequences for strangers.

In any event, people are wondering how this all happened and I believe it began when banks began trading for themselves. Once they had the ability to make money on investing their money rather than making money on the interest and investments of their clients, we entered a whole new world. Take the ability to do that and mix it in with the lack of oversight from regulatory agencies and sprinkle in the lack of knowledge on the part of the average American and you've got a real recipe for disaster.

The subprime mortgage insanity is based on the banks giving away home loans to people who don't nearly qualify for starters. It's all predicated on the fact that housing prices always go up. It doesn't matter if they can afford the house. They're gonna keep it a couple of years then sell it and make money for a downpayment that makes the next, more expensive house actually cheaper because the loan is less. All they have to do is not default for a couple of years. So home loans went berserk. After a couple of years, there was some equity in the house and banks started leveraging that dollar to the max. Let's throw a line of credit on that baby so you can have a bunch of cash - send the kids to college and buy a boat. Now the homeowner's dollar is paying for three things. That's leveraged debt in simple terms. Debt that can't be paid off dollar for dollar because 1 dollar is needed in 3 places. Borrowing against your borrow based in equity which is all believed and not measured.

So this happens over and over and over and over. House prices go up and up to insane levels and more houses are built. We've got more houses for sale than people that need them with prices inflated because of this demand we created. The demand isn't for the house; it's built on the idea that you should sell and move because your house value is higher than when you started. Make money and go bigger. This was the American dream sold to the average American that never thought they'd be able to own a home and it was done by the bankers so every average Joe bought into it. The bubble grew. People couldn't afford the mortgages so they sold and moved and just inflated the bubble. House prices weren't related to anything anymore and became over-valued assets.

People defaulted on their loans and lost their houses, but the banks didn't care because they didn't lose money. They had been selling the mortgages, in part, to outside investors (local and abroad). So the bank held the mortgage to pay back the investors and the bank assumed no risk. The investors didn't care because the mortgage was also insured by AIG, for example so the investors would be covered on the back end as well. AIG was like the FDIC for people buying slices of mortgages. With every party covered, except the homeowner, there was no reason to quit. Everyone was making money.

AIG doesn't back just mortgages though. Things like medical insurance are covered by them as well. When houses are realized to not be even close to what they're valued at people are paying on nothing, which is like me financing a Kia for $80,000 and finding out it's worth only $20,000. I still owe the $80k but I'm throwing money away.  That's $60,000 of waste. So these homes aren't worth shit, nobody wants to invest in something that over inflated, homeowners can't afford it in the first place (because of the leverage) and it's a losing proposition that nobody wants to touch. Now we have tons and tons of toxic debt. Things we owe on, but nobody wants to cover that spread. Not to mention, AIG runs out of cash because they owe more in covering the claims than they have so they're in the hole. And so much rides on them.

Meanwhile, Russia is trying to get China to conspire and sell every single share of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac which would devalue them to almost nothing which deflates our entire government and every bank is about 5 days from having all the customers make a run on it. Everyone feels their money is safer under the mattress. That means they can't get anyone to do new business and they're not worth anything and can't generate revenue. They collapse and everything comes crashing down with them.

All of our European investors lost they money they've invested, homeowner have no banks to get loans, and the market and commerce in the US stops on a dime. Trucks stop moving, gas stops pumping, store are empty and ATMs stop spitting out bills. It's the 1500s again. Broke and bedlam in less than a week.

Two things happened that prevented that. First, the Chinese are business people and they declined the Russians spiteful invitation. They need us as much as we need them. We pump a ton of money into China, part of why our debt is the way it is. Had they called in those debts and we went down, they lose an influx of money. Second, the $700B bailout program. It got loaned to all the banks, whether they needed it or not (the not being people like Wells Fargo). Everyone took it to help avoid isolating the weaker banks and were supposed to lend it out and stimulate things. Some did, some didn't. Some paid it back nearly immediately.

The folks that did go down like Dick Fuld of Lehman Brothers lost millions but walked away with many millions more so he's not hurting. Neither are any of the other individuals, as individuals. However, their companies, like Lehman Brothers, which were institutions and not just companies are now gone. I can't believe how many names are missing from the roster. Bear Stearns, for example.

The ones that remain have been deemed "too big to fail." All that means is that if they fail, too much goes down in the process and we can't let that happen. So, the government has no choice but to do this again, if need be.

The nice thing is that there's only one way to go from the bottom. You buy on bears and sell on bulls. Buy low, sell high. Now is the time to invest because everything is cheap while they struggle. The money spent invigorates the companies and the markets. Things are based on real numbers instead of emotion and speculation. It's a little Ponzi-esque, I guess, in the sense that we are building on nothing to get more people to do the same until these companies produce real results.

I guess you just can't cut your way out of a recession. You have to spend your way out of one. We got out bailout and saved the country, now we have to bring it back up. Europe, on the other hand, has a bigger problem, some of which is due to the money they had invested in our debt and some is brought on by the formation of the EU, while keeping countries politically separate.

So that's how it happened. All greed and nobody was watching. It's obviously much more complex. I don't understand derivatives really well and I'm not sure that anyone does. Credit swaps and leveraged debts nearly brought about the end of the world though. Now to see what happens next.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Almost off the wagon

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This is going to sound ridiculous to many of you as my addiction is not something that is real. I feel like Dave Chappelle in Half-Baked when he goes to A.A. or whatever it was and admits that he's addicted to weed and everyone screams and yells and then Bob Saget stands up and says, "Marijuana is not a drug. I used to suck dick for coke. Now that's an addiction. You ever suck dick for Marijuana?" But addiction is addiction and we all have our things. Some of us more so than others. I have a very addictive personality.

It is hard to understand the mania of obsession that if 1 is good then FIFTY IS BETTER! It's why I'm very careful about how much money is nearby when I'm in a casino. It's why I stay out of certain stores. It's why I have to eat a certain amount of time before I go grocery shopping and keep a regimented list with me. I indulge. If I like something a lot, I over indulge.

Up until January of 2008, I was drinking about 80oz per day of Mt. Dew. So it's not a drug. Doesn't mean the draw was any less. Soda is terrible for you and Mt. Dew is worst of the sodas. I'd literally have 20oz put down before I arrived at work at 7:30am. Then another 20oz bottle between then and lunch. One after lunch and about 20oz worth from the 2 liter once I got home. Sometimes more. That was about the baseline. It got so bad that a DOCTOR actually RECOMMENDED I start drinking coffee. He said the amount of coffee I'd need to drink to get that level of caffeine would be far less than Mt. Dew, as well as the sugar, and it may even be healthier for me. Imagine that. You're so bad off that a doctor thinks coffee is healthier than what you're doing.

So I quit. That day. Right then and there. I also figured he was crazy and didn't need the coffee either. I went into legitimate detox. Of course not to the same level as I would have had I just quit heroin. This is all to scale. But I had a headache and a little bit of the shakes. I felt terrible. So I started drinking the coffee. I've loved coffee but it's not like the way Dew was for me.

I was getting my caffeine and assumed I was good. Do you know that I've thought about drinking Mt. Dew every day since I quit. I know at this point you think I'm a total lunatic and this entire post is ridiculous. I swear it's 100% true. My ex-wife would even tell me to have a glass. What's the big deal? At that point I had been quit for over a year. Just like a recovering addict, I'd say that then I could only say that it's been x amount of time since the last time I relapsed. I don't want to break my streak. She'd look at me like I was insane, I'd shake my head and say, "I know, I know" and that would be that.

It comes and goes in waves and I feel like the only way is to disregard the notion of quitting and go back full bore. That's not smart because my blood pressure will go up and my teeth will fall out of my head. The reason for this rant about all of it is because Ty is a Dew-aholic as well, although doesn't hold a candle to my worst days. Last weekend he left a can in my fridge. I know it's ice cold and delicious. I know he wouldn't care that I drank it (besides possession is 9/10 of the law).

I could drink it just to give myself that treat but then I'm off the wagon on my timer and I have no reason to NOT continue to drink it nonstop. So it's staring at me every time I enter the fridge, taunting me, urging me into submission. I'm getting dangerously close. I want it gone, but I don't. If he takes it then I lose because every day that goes by that I do NOT drink it is like a victory over it.

I find it amazing that something like that can wield such power. Thank God I never really did drugs because I can't imagine that would have worked out well for me. I'm going to go outside with my lemonade and smoke a cigarette to distract and calm myself before I bite through the side of that can. I gotta go.

It is already free

Big debate is heating up about whether birth control should be free. I'd be lying if I said that even part of me did not want it to be free. That just sounds convenient. The last thing I need (or the world needs, for that matter) is a clone of me or at least part of my DNA running around. However, that's probably exactly the reason it should NOT be free... not to mention the economic results.

First of all, birth control is free already, just not the pill form. It's called abstinence and it's available to everyone. However, to anyone that is realistic, or simply not a virgin, we know that abstinence is not going to happen for everyone. For those that practice it, birth control doesn't matter. For those that don't practice abstinence, we need another solution. There is the availability of condoms but everyone, especially guys, come up with every reason in the book why they shouldn't be used. From an enjoyment perspective, condoms really miss the mark, but they serve their purpose.

The birth control pill is the perfect solution (out of the offered ones that are realistic). More often than not, it regulates the female cycle which is convenient for her and for the guy remembering when it's a good time to steer clear of her and especially to be sure she has no red wine. A woman on her period and a couple of glasses of red wine is like a witch's brew and guys, trust me, every syllable out of your mouth is incorrect. Anyway, it's 99.99% effective or some such number. It doesn't get in the way of moment like saran wrapping your pecker. So give it away and let's make love, not vulcanized rubber.

The downside is that the last time we started a catch phrase with make love, it was the 60s before some carrier monkey delivered HIV/AIDS and the birth control pill doesn't protect against either one of those or any other grossness that may seek refuge in your special parts. So pregnancy isn't the only reason for putting up barriers between the outside parts and the inside parts when they meet.

Financially, giving away birth control is a disaster. We don't have money to pay the FAA which ensures we don't die in a plane crash. We don't have the money to pay our military enough and they actually die for us. We, as a government, have subsidized and subsequently partially own the railroads, the planes, and the automobiles as industries. And now the government wants to get in bed with, so to speak, birth control. You cannot get from point A to point B without the government's help. Apparently point B counts if it is work, school, a picnic or an orgasm. The point is that we just nearly default on all of our loans to other countries and became the United States of China and now we want to pay for something else for people when they COULD just stop having sex in the first place.

I think we should spend the money holding people accountable. You wanna open your legs, be prepared for what comes next. Guys that goes for you too. You convince her go down that road with you and procreate, man up and take care of it. If you're old enough to handle your business, you're old enough to handle your business. Use the money to counsel young (or even old enough but surprised) parents-to-be. Pay for a starter kit - like WIC on steroids - to get things going.

People are not gonna stop making the sex, girls will continue to end up pregnant, guys will continue to be deadbeats, kids will continue to make bad decisions, everyone will continue to believe "we'll be fine,"and the cycle will continue. Even if we made it free would everyone get it? Would everyone qualify? Would the recipients take it consistently? I think we're costing ourselves tons and tons of money for an output based on the behavior of people. The behavior of people who have not necessarily made the right choices often enough (as a whole, not individuals) that we had to consider this a solution.

Truly, I say spend the money on the reproduction police. You need a license to drive a car, but not raise a baby. Where's THAT legislation? Can't drink before you're 21? Can't plow around until you're....19 we'll say. It's gotta be earlier. The last thing we want is people drinking and humping for the first time at the same time.

So think about the measurable ramifications of this before your bleeding heart decides to just help the world.