Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Song of the day for 12/30/2009

I made this happy little widget using GrooveShark. A very cool music website. Music is life.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Out with the old ...

Out with the old, in with the new. As we close out 2009 and head towards the second decade of the new millennium, many people are thinking just that.

To be quite honest, I'm looking forward to the new year. And have been for a couple months now. I'm not superstitious or whatever, but something tells me that when I change calendars, everything will be different. And by different, I mean better.

Except in local politics, where things will be the same.

Last week, the Niagara County Legislature dusted off the old harebrained idea that we need a Niagara County Department of Homeland Security. The only real debate seems to be how to pay for it … and who it should be. But in principal, the vast majority of the legislators seem to agree that Niagara County, population 200,000, needs another layer of bureaucracy in our first responders community.

Take a minute and say it out loud. “The Niagara County Department of Homeland Security.”

Does it sound normal to anyone? Cause it sure doesn't sound normal to me. And for the life of me, I can't figure out the need for it, except maybe to give somebody's cousin a job.

To be completely honest, I'm not entirely sure what the purpose of the United States Department of Homeland Security is, except to dole money out to fire departments across the country so that members of congress can look good.

Think about the number of times you hear or read “Homeland Security” in the media. Every once in a while, it's about a guy getting hauled off a plane with a book of matches posteriorly located. Most of the time its a story about a funds coming from some congressman's office and going to some local municipality.

So it's kind of like a slush fund. With guns.

And Niagara County is hoping to get some of that slush fund money in order to create its own department of homeland security. Cause we all know government money is free.

I'll never understand these guys – the government types. Every year they complain about the budget and how they can't afford to do anything. And yet, every year they grow government at the expense of our pocketbooks. And every year, we put them back in office.

So much for out with the old and in with the new, huh?

I don't know about you, but 2010 is the year I plan to take over the world. Or at least my world. I plan to do everything right. Get a great job. A swanky new home. Be true to my school. Maybe a nice vacation in the Mediterranean. The whole shebang. Of course, I had similar plans in 2009. Let's not go there.

I plan to start my new year at the big ball drop in Lockport. They've been doing a ball drop in Lockport for a few years now, but this year my friend Gary Chapman took the gig over and has grown it exponentially. Fireworks, a petting zoo, bounce houses, tasty food. I was even promised a pair of those 2010 glasses you'll be seeing around town.

It's definitely different than I started 2009. But considering how well 2009 has gone, different can only be good.

Out with the old.

In with the new.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

War on Christmas? Bah humbug ...

The new column is online and ready for your approval ...

There is no "War on Christmas"

I don't wear my religion on my sleeve, but I am a religious person. I'm a Christian. I believe in the almighty God and his son Jesus Christ. I attempt to practice Christian values, including the celebration of the birth of Christ, which we call Christmas.

I put this out there to stave off any hate mail which might refer to me as a “Godless commie” or whatever. Hate mail is welcome, but don't write it under false pretenses, okay?

The “War on Christmas” is a farce. It doesn't exist. It's propaganda put out by certain nutjobs in the media – mostly radio - in order for them to have something to talk about in what is typically a slow news month.

One particular nutjob has been lamenting the war on Christmas for years, saying that retailers across the United States were forcing their workers to say “seasons greetings” or “happy holidays” instead of “merry Christmas” in order to further the "legalization of narcotics, euthanasia, abortion at will, gay marriage."

No, really. That's a direct quote from Bill O'Reilly, the self proclaimed culture warrior.

When I'm out shopping or whatever, I tend to say “Merry Christmas” to people I come across. It's my holiday and that's my way to share the Christmas spirit. If someone returns the favor and wishes me a Merry Christmas, I think that's great. If I get a “happy holidays” back, I think that's okay, too. Also appropriate, “Happy Hannakuh,” and “Happy Kwanzaa.”

Last week, I went to a Festivus party put on by my friends at WNYMedia.net. They wanted to have a holiday party, but wanted a twist. Festivus, for those of you who don't know is a holiday invented by the show Seinfeld. There's a pole instead of a tree, feats of strength and the airing of grievances. It's cute.

I don't assume that everyone has the same religion as me. And I don't object to religious tolerance, which is why many people say “happy holidays” over “Merry Christmas.”

A couple days ago, a friend of mine attempted to convey a similar message on Facebook. She was heralded by some and lambasted by others. The most telling comment, though was, “It's called the Christmas season,” to which my friend commented, “not if you're Jewish.”

How true.

When you order a drink for a friend, you don't just assume that they want the same thing you're drinking do you? If you're unsure of their beverage habits, you ask them … then order what it is they asked for, right? And if they're not drinking what you're drinking, you don't assume that it's some left-wing conspiracy against Coke, do you?

See, I just have problems with conspiracy theories in general. The concept that the board of directors of any major retailer sit around and come up with ideas to kill Christianity is absolutely absurd. Its much more likely that they sit around and come up with ideas to be more inclusive so they can make more money.

More inclusive means more generic. More generic means “happy holidays.”

So if you're going to lob conspiratorial accusations at the major retailers for creating “holiday” ads instead of “Christmas” ones, do so on the grounds that they're just trying to make more money.

And if you're opposed to corporations making more money, who's the commie now?

Merry Christmas to those I love. This means you.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What's a label mean?

Never fear, ladies and gentlemen. The government is here to help.

Chills went down my spine as I wrote that. There's not really much that I fear more than the government's help.

But I don't have to worry about it yet, actually. They're not going to help until February.

That's when the “Great Appliance Swap Out” begins. It's a federal program being administered by New York State that allows people to get up to $500 in rebates for trading in their old washer, dishwasher, freezer and refrigerator for a newer energy efficient model.

The program is using as much as $17 million in stimulus dollars to encourage you to make the move.

You'll have nine days in February to trade in the fridge and get $75 … or trade in the freezer or washing machine for $50. Or trade in the dishwasher, but only if you're also trading in something else. Oh and then there's extra money available if you recycle your old appliance. And possibly a little more if you pledge your undying love to Herbert Hoover or something. I mean, really, must the government make everything so confusing?

I'll give them this, though. At least they know it's confusing. And to help put your mind at ease, they've secured a website - www.NYApplianceSwapOut.com - to answer your questions. Of course, if you actually go to the website, you're greeted with, “An online application and detailed eligibility rules will be available on this page in the near future, so please check back with us again!”

So to sum this up, if you wait three months to buy an appliance and then do so in the proper nine day period and fill out forms in triplicate proving that you bought an Energy Star rated appliance, the government will borrow money from China (or your grandchildren) to help you with that purchase. Yeah. Makes perfect sense to me.

Not to mention, have you ever wondered how something gets the Energy Star label? I have. So I looked into it.

There's an Energy Star controversy. And the label might not mean much, according to the inspector general of the Environmental Protection Agency, the government agency that created and maintains the Energy Star program.

If you go to an appliance store and look at two refrigerators side-by-side, one with the Energy Star label and one without it, look closely at the power consumption tags. It's entirely possible that the one without the “government approved” label is actually more efficient.

And this is the government we're trusting to help us?

Speaking of labels, sometimes they do make a difference.

Recent police blotter items caught a reader's eye and that reader pointed them out to me.

In the same paper, there were listed two drug convictions. One man was found guilty of growing marijuana in his basement. The other of selling cocaine. One got two years in jail. The other got probation. Would it shock you if I told you that the cocaine dealer was the one with the probation? Would it still shock you if I said he shared a last name with a prominent politician?

I'm told that the man is actually of no relation to the politician, but sometimes a label helps, even if it is false identification.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Very Inappropriate Leffler Christmas continues ...

The little one pointed these out at Kelly's Country Store on Grand Island.

I'll accept my "father of the year" award now.
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

Now that's appetizing!

Check out the name of this candle scent. Who would get this?
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

When the majority is wrong ...

It would seem to me that if something’s right, it’s always right. Doesn’t matter what day it is or what year it is.

Slavery was wrong. It was always wrong. It was just as wrong in 1801 as it was in 1865 … as it is today. Slavery didn’t become wrong. We just eventually figured it out.

Just a few short decades ago, there remained laws in many states that prohibited inter-racial marriage. Those laws were wrong. Wrong now. Wrong then. We eventually figured it out.

And in 2009, gay marriage is illegal throughout the majority of our nation, including New York state, allegedly one of the most liberal states in the union.

And, frankly, that’s wrong. And our state senate had an opportunity last week to show the world they had figured that out. But instead they chickened out, voting 38-24 in opposition to legalizing same-sex marriage.

Every member of the Republican party voted against it. And every member of the Western New York contingent voted against it, save for Antoine Thompson.

I can’t recall ever being proud of Antoine Thompson before. I was last week.

Opponents will say that marriage is between a man and a woman … as God intended. I say if this is a religious issue, the state should have nothing to do with it. Let the churches decide if they wish to perform same-sex nuptials. Neither force them to, nor prohibit them from. Kind of … oh, what do they call that? Separation of church and state.

Opponents also say that same-sex marriage destroys the “sanctity” of marriage. With a greater than 50 percent divorce rate among heterosexuals, I think the “sanctity” of marriage can be questioned without the help of the gay community.

Opponents will say that if we allow homosexuals to marry, the next step will be to allow for polygamy … or for people to marry their pets. Probably exactly the same logic employed when inter-racial marriage was a hot topic. ‘Cause obviously if a black man wants to marry a white woman, he’d be equally inclined to marry a Shetland pony.

Opponents say that the majority of people don’t care about gay marriage. Never mind the fact that the reason we’re a republic instead of a democracy is to allow cooler, smarter heads to prevail and not allow the majority to trample the rights of the minority.

Most data suggests that approximately 10 percent of the population is gay. So the other 90 percent can pretend they don’t exist? I’ve also read that 10 percent of the world’s population lives with some sort of disability. Can we ignore them, too? Only 6 percent of the U.S. population — including yours truly — has red hair. Should I be shunned or ignored?

If you’re on a deserted island with nine other people and they decide that you would make a good dinner, that doesn’t make it right.

To sum it up, each and every one of us is in the minority on occasion. That doesn’t make us wrong. And it doesn’t mean our voice should be silenced.

If our good state senators oppose gay marriage for themselves, so be it. But to prevent 10 percent of the state’s population from being able to marry the one they love due to their own homophobia, lack of understanding, lack of compassion or simply kowtowing to the “majority” is just wrong.

If they were capable of being ashamed, I’d say shame on them. But we all know they’re not.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Who the hell leases a horse?

As seen at the pet store in Lockport.
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