Wednesday, October 22, 2008

In Which Mike Is Led, Kicking And Screaming, Into The Current Century

Ya know, when it comes to technology, I'm a regular Luddite. I don't find technology particularly sinful or immoral. I'm just very slow to adopt it. Take MP3 players. I've seen all the specs about how much music you can fit on one [and, to that extent, feel free to believe the hype]. The problem for me [and anyone else who went for the low-end models; stay away from RCA (just my advice, of course. But based on some experience)] is that the songs on the device get boring thru repetition. And it's not easy coming up with another 300 new "favorite" songs every time you want to change your tunes. Personally, I've gone back to the portable CD player, and if you're like me you will too.

Anyway, my boss here in Radioland has been after me to join a socialist [oh, sorry: social-networking. Although I wonder if there's really much difference] site. He recommended Facebook, based, I'd expect, on his positive experiences with it. Sign-up was easy enough, though the system seemed to keep you jumping around [or at least give the option to do so] from one area to another. You move, seemingly willy-nilly, from finding Friends, to writing your Profile, to who knows what else. It's fun, but nearly as time consuming as dropping ECs. Then again, you do meet people. I've gotten friendship requests from people I haven't seen since high school. Which brings up another potentially awkward question: if we had too little in common to connect after Grade 12, waddya gonna talk about after 20 or more years' separation? Let's face it: there's only So Much you can say about your kids [and Person B about his or hers', Before long, you're trying to figure out which choke hold to end the conversation with [my personal favorite is the choke slam, favored by The Undertaker, among others. The Woman I Love, on the other hand, favors the cross-neck arm bar, currently quite popular as a finishing move in mixed martial arts. You can just imagine the two of us at church socials].

So, about a decade after the beginning of the social network movement [and only four-and-two-thirds years after the founding of Facebook], Bubby has joined the s/n world [as opposed to the s/m world. Which I don't belong to. Not that there's anything wrong with it]. Look for me on Facebook, be my friend [if you're into that sort of thing], and maybe, just maybe, I'll give this MP3 thing another try...

-Mike Riley

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day - Dodging Bullets

As a nation, we here in the US have become exceptionally good at dodging bullets. I mean, just when the economic framework was about to go ker-plunk, the Government steps in to prop it up. The banks will be secure, the stock market is stabilizing, even gas prices [one economic factor that affects virtually everyone, what with shipping costs being factored into product prices and all] are coming down a bit. But it may be a bit early for the Nationwide Sigh Of Relief. After all, a check of history reveals that stock prices rebounded briefly in the days after the Crash of 1929. Not every bank that collapsed in the Great Depression went under in the first days after the Crash. And the global picture is not as secure as ours, if indeed, ours IS that secure.

Of course, the last time we faced anything like this was the Great Depression of 1929 and thereafter. To those born after its conclusion, no explanation is possible. For those who lived through it, no explanation is necessary. The roots seem to be the same: bad investments, naked greed, speculation by people who had no business dropping a bet in penny-ante poker, no less the high-stakes of Wall Street. And, as in 1929 and following, it's likely Government, through taxation and benefit cuts to the groups within Society that can least afford to be hit, that will shoulder the burden of paying it all off. Oh, wait; in the 1930's, the US Government put protections in place to help those most affected by the Crash. I KNEW there was a difference somewhere.

The point we should all keep in mind, however, is this: as grinding as a depression would be here, there are unknown millions living in poverty that even Depression-era survivors could not envision. We need to reach the hopeless poor, those who can't even imagine rising above the lowest level of existence. How can you and I do this? Two words: GET INVOLVED! Find a group who tries to help the poor. Join it. If you can donate to charity, do it. Here's one we can all do: it's election season. Canada held its vote yesterday [congratulations on your re-election, Mr. Harper: just remember, though, minority governments have been known to fall over social issues], the US goes to the polls on November 4th, and much of the rest of the world will vote sometime in the next year or two. Seek out candidates and parties committed to helping those in poverty, at home and abroad. If your politicians aren't talking about poverty, call them out to do so [hey, it's your vote: the least you can do is be informed]. And remember: one person living a diminished life diminishes us all.

-Mike Riley

Friday, October 10, 2008

Don't Give Us The Money!

There have been times when I've felt like Calvin. Oddly enough, though, this is not one of them. Let me explain. In recent days, stories of bailouts have been popping up in newspapers around the world [not that I read newspapers from around the world; frankly, anything not in English would be difficult. Get away from the so-called "Romance" languages, and I'd be totally lost. As I sometimes am in English]. It seems like every nation with the economic wherewithal to prop up an industry or two is doing just that. Here in the U-S-of-A, the Government has committed hundreds of billions of dollars [a figure I can barely comprehend] in an attempt to keep the financial marketplace standing. Meanwhile, military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan [comparative bargains, at roughly a billion dollars a month] continue, with little or no discussion as to an end-date, except for a few Presidential candidates. Let's put this in perspective. On January 20, 2001, George W. Bush sat atop a comfortable budget surplus. In eight years, his administration, aided and abetted by, among others, Congress, the Judiciary, and those people who voted for him in 2004 after seeing how the previous years had gone, drained the surplus and left a crushing debt for our children, grandchildren, and probably great-grandchildren to pay off. And these are the "fiscal conservatives"!
Anyway, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is floating a modest 1.4 Billion dollar plan to pump some money into the economy. Much of it would go into social service programs, but there is apparently some talk of another "economic stimulus" check for most Americans. Don't get me wrong; The Woman I Love and I made [mostly] good use of the free cash earlier this year. But I think of the unborn generations that are already set to be gob-smacked, and I don't know how I feel. I mean, the social service aid part of the plan should be carried out, if possible. But more "money for nothing"? I dunno. Besides, the last round of checks was supposed to encourage us to spend, right? I don't know about you, but most of our money went into paying bills. (Not that there's anything wrong with that)
So, talk it out among yourselves, but perhaps this isn't the best time for a free handful of cash [of course, if I owned Wal*Mart stock, I'd be screaming for the handout].
-This is just me, of course,
Mike Riley