Your kid gets a finger tip cut off and the school fails to call 911, wouldn’t that bother you?

December 14, 2013

I’ve often thought school officials cling too closely to their bureaucratic rules but on second thought, sometimes maybe they need strict rules — I mean this story is just too hard to comprehend. School officials failed to call 911 when a Texas kindergartener got her finger caught in a door and the tip of her finger was severed. Instead her parents had to come and get her and take her to the hospital. Fortunately, according to the story, her father was able to retrieve the missing piece of finger and it was reattached at the hospital.

When asked why they did not call 911, school officials said that decision was discretionary and they thought it was not a serious enough incident — not serious? You have part of your finger cut off and it’s not serious?

Yeah, I can see a rule that something has to be serious to call 911, but apparently the school officials have no judgmental ability whatsoever, so in this case they would have been better off with some strict, unbending rule, that  would say in the event of any injury call 911. Of course that would not be practical because then if someone scraped their knee the paramedics would have to roll, but since the school officials there seem to have no ability to sort things out, they apparently need some hard and fast rule like that.

Now it may not be politically correct for me to bring this up, but from the photo in the news story I saw that the poor little girl was black — I hope the school officials were too, because if not, I see a civil rights action here or at least the grounds for one. And maybe there is regardless.

But now I’m going to own up to something. It’s hard to understand what goes through one’s mind in situations as these:

When I was a teenager I was doing a part-time job for a retired minister who had bought some property with a commercial prune orchard. I was helping him move these large sprinkler pipe main lines. We were putting segments of them together. He told me to push from one end and I did. But he had accidentally left one of his fingers in the way. As I pushed the pipe in he yelled ouch! and it almost seems surreal now, and, well, did at the time, but it looked like to me that he put a piece of his finger tip in his pocket. But we kept on working. He never did get it sewn back on, and it probably would have been too late to do so by the time we went back to his house and he showed his wife. Years later I saw him and he simply showed me his injured finger, sans a small part of the tip of it, and just laughed about it.

But if you were the school nurse or principal or teacher or whatever, wouldn’t have you called 911 for that kindergartener? Really.


Link to the story mentioned here:–amazing-johnson–severs-finger-and-school-fails-to-call-911-212310640.html

End greed? Not likely, but at some point the multitudes might revolt…

December 12, 2013

The new Pope is calling for a reduction in the gap between the rich and the poor and blasting those mega salaries that those at the top essentially give themselves (I mean it’s all a club). And Pope Francis is calling for less emphasis on pure greed, and instead for sharing the wealth. At least that is the summary of it all I have just taken in from reading the latest stories.

Curbing greed. It is not going to happen. It’s human nature. Even in systems that supposedly do away with capitalism — take communism — greed remains. You work your way up in the Party and you get special privileges. And corruption runs rampant in communist countries (most of that in the past now — I mean how many communist nations left? China, Vietnam, North Korea, Cuba…).

However, there is political power. A minority controls the wealth, but the majority has its weight in numbers. If that complacent and for the most part ignorant (and sadly, in this nation — the U.S.– willfully ignorant for the most part) ever used its political potential things could change. I’m not some rabble-rouser calling for that — I’m just saying…

But as long as we are content to indulge in the silly nonsense of the popular media, stay uninformed, shun serious observance of current events, and worst of all, only listen to those who seem to agree with us, well, things will never change. They will only get worse, it would seem.

At some point the multitudes might revolt, and it might be a lot bigger than a one-day strike at McDonald’s.

On the other hand, there may be a breaking point. We are fast approaching a time when due to technology there will be virtually little to nothing for the multitudes to do to earn a dollar, save handouts from the government.

Are any of the long-range thinkers figuring out how to handle that?


Rich or well-to-do people attend church. But somehow they are always able to rationalize their position in pointing to scriptures that seem call for self initiative and then accordingly comfort themselves in that by raking in the dough they are doing the work of God. I mean, “the Lord takes care of those what takes care of themselves”, right?

And please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not against gaining wealth. Just wish I was better at it.



I kept using the word “funeral” instead of “memorial” the other day in my posts concerning events at the Nelson Mandela memorial, tried to correct all that, and then did a video and used the word funeral again — same difference in the context, but just wanted to set things straight.

Good and bad behavior by Obama at Mandela memorial…

December 10, 2013

My latest update on this post:

I had to update this post, I mean first I wrote that I saw nothing wrong with President Obama shaking hands with Cuban President Raul Castro at Nelson Mandela’s memorial, and I don’t. But now I read and see the photos of Obama’s antics, having a selfie(s) taken of him and the vavavaboom Prime Minister of Denmark (she is a hottie!) and British Prime Minister David Cameron. What ever happened to decorum? Michelle Obama was sitting next to the president and not taking part and not looking too happy. I don’t blame her. The president was disgracing himself and his own nation, and not being all that polite to his own wife. (I earlier had used the term funeral instead of memorial.)

I’m not sure that rises to an impeachable offense — and ex-president George W. had his own selfie there, as well, but who’d expect better from him. Well actually even I would have. But “selfie”, those self-indulgent photos people take of themselves with phones and digital cameras, has become the new word of the year and it signals an outbreak of extreme narcissism in our society (like Jerry Seinfeld in his sitcom when he met a girl who looked and acted like him: I’ve been looking for someone all my life, it’s me (a paraphrase, I don’t recall the exact words). I have to confess to making a few selfies recently, but not at a funeral, and I’m not a person in the public eye or one the public puts trust in for judgment (fortunately). Apparently, from reports in the last few days on the internet, making selfies at funerals is a fad — at least Mandela’s body was not in the background.

But seriously, I see this as shameful on the part of our president. I realize he is only human, but don’t you need a little self-restraint at that level? I mean personally I have no responsibility. I’m free as a bird. But I would hope I would not be caught doing something like that — I mean I hope I would not do it.

Bad behavior at Mandela memorial:

The original post follows:

What’s the big deal? So U.S. President Barack Obama shook hands with Cuban president Raul Castro at Nelson Mandela’s memorial.

I think the communist government of Cuba is pretty much a fact of life and has been so since 1959. We recognize all of the other communist nations, to include Vietnam, where we sacrificed so much blood and treasure to keep it non-communist (only to see it fall to communism).

The United States should simply restore diplomatic relations with Cuba. Cuba poses no military threat to the U.S. and as far as I know is no longer exporting guerilla warfare into our hemisphere or to Africa.

We seem to be in the early stages of restoring relations with Iran, why not make up with Cuba now?

Those ageing Cuba exiles in Florida are not going back to reclaim their riches.

And back to Obama getting a little too cozy with the Danish female prime minister (and talk about a hot Danish), you have to see the photo near the middle of this story to which I give you a link — First Lady Michelle strategically switched seats with her husband (I know sounds like a gossip tab, but really!):

ADD 1: Oh, and they say Obama gave a great speech.



In earlier versions of this post I used the term funeral instead of memorial.


Hey, check out my German-American blog at:

Politicians are representing their own pocket books, not your interests…

December 10, 2013

Slightly updated from earlier version:

You will still hear the term “public service” thrown around, but often with irony and full knowledge that “self-service” is now the real insider play… (“This Town”)


I haven’t got around to reading it yet, but I’m  sure if and when I do read “This Town” I’ll be so disillusioned with politics that I’ll want to throw up my hands and just give up even being concerned about current events and public issues — there seems to be no morality and no shame and definitely no altruism. Cynicism and the all-mighty dollar rule the day.

The term and book title “This Town” refers to Washington, D.C.

The ruling class is completely out of touch. However, I think those being ruled may be as well.

I watched a Bill Moyers interview with the author on PBS the other night. The author is Mark Leibovich, currently on the payroll of the New York Times (in a perverse or ironic way, even he hopes to cash in with his book sales, I suppose). Later I read a kind of snarky article about the book in the online magazine “Slate”. I did not quite get the message of the article, except maybe the cynicism among those who observe all of this is so bad that reporting on scandal and corruption, and the fact that the so-called news media establishment is in many instances more a part of it than observers or reporters,  is seen as foolish. Like you just don’t get it. It’s all a joke. Nothing is really serious, except for the need for “self perpetuation”.

Democrats and Republicans and liberals and conservatives duke it out on the airwaves to entertain and confuse the public and then partner up with each other in lobbying firms after they leave office and make money (we’re talking millions/billions) selling influence.

Of course selling influence to make money is darn near as old as prostitution. Correct me if I am wrong but the Bush family fortune is pretty much based on selling connections.

I’ve been hearing reports or hints that Barack Obama might stay in Washington after completing his two terms.

Supposedly the book is chock full of examples of lawmakers arguing one way when they are in office and then selling out when they become lobbyists and argue the other way.

More than ever I am convinced  — I have argued or suggested this in this spot many times before — that holding public office should not be a profession. We need to put the ideal of public service back into politics (and I am aware of the argument that if you rid the government of professional elected officials the bureaucracy and lobbying interests will take over — but the lobbyists already have).

I’m not sure how it could be done, but we need to make it so a common citizen has just as much access to his or her elected representative as a lobbyist.

But really, as a whole, the apathetic public is getting what it deserves.

I really need to read the book, even though it will further depress me.


I’m just a little behind the times. I just began reading “All the Kings Men,” by Robert Penn Warren, published in 1946. That of course was fiction, but often described as based on the career of the notorious Louisiana governor and senator Huey P. Long. There’s nothing new under the sun I suppose.

Maybe those who keep themselves ignorant of current events and when asked just dismiss it all with something like: “It don’t make no difference who you vote for, they’re all the same” are simply speaking the inelegant truth.

(72 years after Pearl Harbor) Should we go to war unless we are attacked? And then shouldn’t we have a plan for victory and know what victory is?

December 7, 2013

We should all stop for at least a moment today — Dec. 7 — Pearl Harbor Day — to pay at least silent tribute to those who lost their lives and to those who were wounded or otherwise directly affected by the surprise attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor now seventy two years ago.

But just at importantly we ought to think about this:

Should we ever go to war unless we are directly attacked? And if we do, shouldn’t we have a clear idea as to what our ultimate goal is?

This has not been the case since World War II.

We were not directly attacked in Korea. But a decision was made to go to war to stop the spread of communism that ultimately would threaten democracy world wide. There could certainly be an argument that we should not have gone to war in Korea, but we did, and I suppose the goal was to repel the North Korean invaders. We were able to push them back across their own border and have been at an uneasy truce ever since. Gen. Douglas McArthur wanted a World War II-style win — total victory, but that would have been costly and might have pushed us into World War III with a counter attack by the Soviets, as well as the communist Chinese who were already in the war against us.

And then following our Cold War policy of containing communism we got mired in Vietnam — but we were not attacked, save for some incident in the Gulf of Tonkin, which was both minor and/or bogus — it may not have even happened.

And then came 9/11, the attack by terrorists on the United States at New York and Washington, D.C., and in the sky over Pennsylvania. But this time the attack was not by a nation state but a world-wide terror group. But since the attack was staged from Afghanistan or since the leader of the group was holing up there, we invaded that nation, after the Taliban, who was running the country at the time, refused to hand over the leader of Al Qaeda, the group claiming responsibility for the attack.

But then the U.S. pivoted and went to war with Iraq, a nation whose thug of a leader we had at one time supported (just before the first Gulf War — yes, very confusing). We got mired there and then left after a decade with an ambiguous outcome and are still stuck in Afghanistan, even after Osama Bin Laden, the master mind of the 9/11 attack, was captured and killed (in Pakistan, a nominal ally, confusing again). We seem to not know whether to stay or leave Afghanistan.

Clarity in war ended with World War II.

What’s up with all the phone books? Does anyone actually use them nowadays?

December 7, 2013

Who uses a phone book anymore? No one, right?

Then why did I find that I had almost a dozen phone books stacked up in the corner?

I decided to at least toss the outdated ones but still hung onto four of them, even though I can’t recall having actually used a phone book in years.

I mean I’m not sure my grand kids even know what a telephone booth is. I’m not sure they know what a land line telephone is for that matter.

Ended keeping the four books (yeah four). I just had a hard time letting go because they indicated on their front covers they were good for another year.

Once upon a time when we still used phone books there was only one, the edition put out by the phone company. Then, sometime in the 80s I began to notice knock-offs of the famous Bell System yellow pages. And then I began to notice we were getting deliveries of whole phone books, white pages and yellow, all or most looking something like the phone company’s but not the phone company’s.

Does the phone company — yeah the landline phone company — actually still put out a phone directory anymore?

One reason I hung on to some of the books is that they have coupons in them, but I don’t recall ever using one, although I may have — yeah, actually I seem to remember years ago my late wife mentioning there was a coupon in one of them for, maybe smog checks. We have to get those every other year or so here in California on our cars — just a rip off to give the state revenue and give auto repair shops more business (and no offense to the repair shops — can’t afford to insult you guys and gals).

Of course the reason for all these books is that people who have them printed do their best to convince paid advertisers that they can’t afford not to be in their book. A business person would soon run out of money, I would think, trying to be in all those books.

And once a number is listed in a book, even if it is wrong or outdated, it stays there for the life of the book and can cause both lost business and annoying phone calls for unsuspecting citizens. For quite awhile at my current digs I was getting these strange calls with people asking about tires. I finally realized that my number was the same for some defunct tire business. So for the fun of it one day when a woman called asking what she should do about a tire problem, I told her she better come right in but warned her it was going to be real expensive. But she sounded like a nice, innocent elderly woman and I felt guilty, so I owned up to my prank and apologized and then advised her to go to the place where I deal for tires. She thanked me, and I felt better.

And I just looked over at those remaining phone books. I’ll never use them.

As the first black leader of South Africa Nelson Mandela earned his place in history, he didn’t just come out of nowhere with charm…

December 6, 2013


He went from spending almost 30 years in prison, as a black nationalist, to becoming the first black leader of the nation of South Africa, marking the end of rule by the white minority there and the legalized segregation that was called apartheid. Nelson Mandela has died at the age of 95.

I am not well versed on the man as perhaps I should be, although of course I have read and heard about him all these many years in the news.

But he was a fighter for his people — the people who by rights should have been in charge of the nation for so long, the native people, the majority.

And refreshingly, he was not a thug. Unfortunately, and maybe I should not mention it now, but his former wife, Winnie Mandela, was reportedly a bad actor, noted for promoting the practice of putting tires around the necks of opponents and then lighting the tires on fire (and I’m talking black-on-black violence).

By all accounts, Nelson Mandela was a man of peace. He won the Nobel Peace Prize. He shared the peace prize with the last white president of South Africa, F.W. de Klerk, for their work on ending apartheid.

(Ironically, according to a piece in Huffington Post, Mandela was still on the U.S. terrorist watch list as of 2008.)

He was the first of his race to make it to the top leadership position in South Africa — but he didn’t just come out of nowhere with a gift of oratory or charisma — he earned it (a snarky innuendo aimed at someone else? maybe).

To see or hear many in our (U.S.) government laud him now it’s hard to realize that he was considered unwelcome here by our government some years ago. In Cold War terms he seemed too cozy with the communists. In addition he had the audacity to criticize the U.S. even after the Cold War ended. He opposed President George W. Bush’s war in Iraq.

And after making my original and then updated posts, I read a long piece about Mandela on the New York Times website (which for some reason did not put up the pay wall against me) that both refreshed some things I may have known about Mandela and obviously gave me a lot of new insight. But some of the things that stand out are that he seemed to prefer peace but found at times armed conflict was necessary (although he does not seem to have had much of a direct role in that), and that he was not a communist, although for convenience at one time he may have joined the party, and that he took support from where he cold get it (to include the communists), and that despite being put to hard labor in prison and tormented by white guards (some helped him, though), once in power he did not seek retribution but instead chose cooperation and reconciliation between the races. And of course he was an educated man, so that made a lot of difference. And everyone in South Africa did not live happily ever after once he was in power — imagine that.

Radioactive material moving around in Mexico is scary…

December 5, 2013

Yeah, that makes me feel safe. Trucks loaded with radioactive material in Mexico, lawless Mexico. I read in the morning that one had been stolen and then by the evening I read that the good news was that the truck had been recovered and the container with the radioactive material was on it. Unfortunately it had been opened. Authorities were not sure whether some of the material was missing. They doubted the thieves knew what the stuff was when they stole the truck. But the thieves who handled it are expected to be suffering from radiation burns and/or exposure. And others in the area could be affected too.

The report I read said there are radiation detectors at border crossings so sensitive they even pick up on people who have recently had radiation treatment (I’m not talking about the thieves, but rather normal patients). That is somewhat re-assuring. The fear is that the material might be used by terrorists in making what is called a “dirty bomb”.

I know very little about Mexico (was a tourist there on three occasions), except that law enforcement there tends to be corrupt, there is of course an ongoing drug war that has killed thousands of people, and the widespread lawlessness and terror has made Mexico into all but a failed state in some respects — although never underestimate the Mexican people. They are fighting back in some instances.

But now I’m off the track. Radioactive material floating around in Mexico. Not good. In this case it was supposed to be delivered for medical purposes.

Not much we can do since it’s in Mexico.

But if there was something the United States could do (in a peaceful sense) in its foreign policy to improve the economy and social structure in Mexico (of course we need to look inward first I guess) it might go a long ways in helping both nations. People in Mexico might have a better way of life and the pressure of immigration might be lessened in the United States. But somehow Mexico gets mostly lip service in foreign policy.

How many presidents have we had that spoke Spanish? Let’s see George W. said he did, but he ended up calling the elected leader of Spain a duck.


I’ve seen the future and it does not look promising

December 4, 2013

Just read a few articles that basically say that delivery by drones is no joke and that it is not only Amazon looking at it but others, to include pizzas being delivered in England.

What we all know or should know by now is that probably a majority of the work we all do could be done by drones or robots or computers. Very few occupations are completely immune. I recall a few years ago a relative of mine suggesting that occupations where you use your creative and thinking skills were safe — not really. While computers don’t yet think like humans, they do have their own kind of intelligence and they already have replaced heretofore creative and cerebral work or at least there have been experiments in using them in some cases. It must have been 20 years ago or more that I read a story that said a computer was used to write a novel. I never read the novel or novels, but that’s scary. Then there was the story that a robot was used or tested as a kindergarten teacher. And what about lawyers? So much of what so many of them do is boiler plate stuff. That can be replaced by computers. Ever heard of Legal Zoom? And in law offices and all offices, word processing programs have replaced a large portion of the clerical staffs.

As I am always noting in this space, I am a truck driver (I’ve done other things too, such as journalism), and I can see the handwriting on the wall. The field of transportation is highly susceptible to being taken over by driverless vehicles and drones and pilotless airplanes. The technology is here and has been used already — Just waiting for the necessary laws (California already allows driverless cars — and how that works I have not a clue) and perhaps the necessary infrastructure.

And I don’t mean to be using poor taste, but that commuter train crash a few days ago in New York was apparently the result of human error, the engineer, it is being reported now, admits he basically fell asleep. So the argument that you are better off having a human at the controls in the interest of safety does not seem to hold. In fact, experts and politicians are calling for safety mechanisms to be installed on the trains that detect speed and can slow them down or stop them when necessary.

If you have children, you need to counsel them to do well in school. The old adage that, well if nothing else you can work in fast food is not going to hold. In fact you may not even be able to get a job at a regular restaurant. There is a move at some to do away with most or all of the wait and counter staff via automation. You’re going to need special skills and a deep understanding of automation to work anywhere in the not-to-distant future. Even that is not going to be a guarantee.

Now here is a thought, and please don’t misunderstand me, I am definitely for social programs, but if we did not have so many and people just had to work at something to make a living, then probably a lot of jobs would survive, because supply of labor would outstrip demand, and employers would find the need to automate not as great. I’m not sure about that, though. Once the ball starts rolling methods change and we are not likely to go back in time.

Automation taking away our livelihoods coupled with climate change and never-ending war in many parts of the world don’t paint a nice picture of our future. Somehow getting older does not seem so bad after all.


At my first newspaper job the bane of our existence in getting out a daily newspaper was the uncooperative back shop — the composing room where people worked at typesetting and what was then called paste up. I was happy when most or all of that was replaced by computer technology (I had already changed newspapers, but the whole industry went that way). But now, technology has all but replaced the traditional newspaper. What goes around comes around.

Commuter train engineer may have been in a ‘daze’ (asleep), but this could happen to you if you drive…

December 3, 2013

Even professionals blow it. The latest news about the deadly commuter train crash in New York is that the engineer guiding the train may have fallen asleep, and that is why he failed to apply the brakes in time as he hit a curve at 82 mph where the speed limit is 30 mph.

There had been wonder at how the accident could have happened in that the train operator was a seasoned professional and had a reputation of being an exceedingly conscientious person. In initial reports he was quoted as saying the brakes did not work. But so far investigators indicate no mechanical problems were found. However the story is now that statements he made and his demeanor at the scene indicate that he may have been asleep — maybe the kind of sleep where it seems like you’re awake but you are not. Some reports say he told first responders he was in a “daze”.

Almost anyone who has driven a car or any vehicle knows what that is. It is of course the result of fatigue, but perhaps also the monotony of covering the same ground. No pun intended, but it is a wakeup call to all who conduct any kind vehicle — on the land or in the air. One has to be on top of his (her) game to safely drive (or fly an airplane, of course). There just is no room for distraction or loss of concentration.

I’m not in any way excusing the train engineer — and the investigation is not complete, so it would even be possible to find that some bizarre thing happened, some mechanical problem really did occur — but at this time it seems not.

I’ve spent the last decade and a half as a truck driver — so this hits home. But like I say, anyone who drives a car knows what this is all about.