Tuesday, March 30, 2010

How can I double tap if I have to wait?

When I was young ...

I hate to admit it, but … I think I might be getting old.

I've been pretty proud of myself to this point in not having used phrases like “when I was young” or “used to be” or “back in the day.” Unfortunately, those phrases seem to be slipping forth more and more frequently.

Ironically, they slip forth considering something I was once on the cutting edge of – the Internet. Now don't get me wrong here, I'm not about to spew some crazy rant about how the Internet is just full of smut and garbage and should be outlawed. Heck, those are two of it's best qualities. No, my issue with the “series of tubes” is that it's impersonal.

I've been doing a lot of hunting lately. Not the type of hunting friend and fellow columnist Bob Confer does. I've been job hunting. And apartment hunting. And … well, we'll just leave it at job and apartment hunting.

The Internet makes it easy to find potential jobs. And potential pads. But finding and securing are two totally different things.

I think I got the apartment thing set. I think. Please, God, let this apartment thing work out.

Anyway … it's really the job thing that I'm frustrated with. See, the problem with job hunting on the Internet is there's no personal contact. How can I dazzle someone with my personality if they never get to actually talk to me?

Typical job hunting experience goes like this:

N Check craigslist for jobs.
N Send resume to unknown person concerning some unknown job at an unknown company because it sounds like I might be qualified.
N Hope the unknown person emails back and asks for more information.
N They don't.
N With no idea who it is I've sent the email to or how to get them on the phone, it's basically impossible to check up … so … Start back at the top.

Maybe I'm no good at creating resumes. Or maybe it's the cover letter. Or maybe I'm just easier for people to understand in person.

For those of you who text, have you ever gotten a text message and wondered if it was meant to be sarcastic or not? Or just wondered the tone in general?

Since sarcasm is my true native tongue, it's impossible to really know me without a face-to-face. And I'd guess it's really impossible to know anyone without a face-to-face.

So why are employers doing it this way? All impersonal like?

I have to wonder if maybe they don't want people working for them. By that, I mean they don't want real people. With personalities. They're more interested in automatons. Robots. Or, at least their human equivalents.

If that's the case, I'm kind of up a creek. And the paddle factory replaced everyone with robots who don't care if I'm up a creek or not.

Is it possible that the Internet - designed by Al Gore to keep us connected – will actually just push us further apart?

(For those of you who don't know me … the Al Gore bit in the previous paragraph was sarcastic. See how that might not come across so well in print?)

Anyway, it's hard for me to admit it, but I might not like the way the Internet works these days. I liked it better when I was younger. Walking uphill to school. Both ways. In the snow. Without shoes.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The founders say otherwise ...

Got this in the email this morning in response to this week's column:
"I have news for you. This country is a democracy. A republic is a subdivision of democracy. The United Kingdom is a monarchy but it is also a democracy. Other democratic countries have some other variations on the theme but we are all democracies. A democracy is simply a form of government in which the citizens have a large role in the decision-making, one way or another. If all else fails, try the dictionary. Unless, of course, you find it useful to make up your own definitions of words."
You could argue that we are a "representative democracy," but that's not REALLY a democracy. Of course, the letter writer surely doesn't care about my opinion. Maybe, he'll believe the founders, though. Since they created this republic ... not democracy.
“Democracy... while it lasts is more bloody than either [aristocracy or monarchy]. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.” - John Adams
“A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.” - Thomas Jefferson
I continue to maintain - a democracy, we are not.

America - Still not a Democracy

It got monotonous, boring and frankly quite annoying.

Yes, I could be talking about almost any Bills' season since my birth, but I'm actually referring to the two-plus hour debate over the Health Care Reform bill Sunday night.

Democrat after Democrat was yielded 45 seconds at a time to say that insurance companies are bad and Americans deserve health care. And Republican after Republican was yielded 45 seconds at a time to say that government is bad and “the majority of Americans” oppose government run or mandated health care.

Fact of the matter is, I agree with both sides of the great debate.

Insurance companies are horrible. It's the only industry where you pay a certain amount of money to have access to something … and then more if you actually use it. If they even let you use it. I am among the vast majority of Americans who have had a basic insurance claim turned down simply because the insurance didn't feel like paying it.

Americans do deserve health care. The rest of the civilized world has figured out how to make health care universally available to everyone. If we truly have the right to “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,” one could easily imply that we have the right to be healthy.

The Republicans are correct, however, about government. It's a monstrosity. It could screw up a one-float parade. And all the red tape could easily make that parade cost millions of dollars. I don't trust government to do much. Of course, if you're familiar with me at all, I'm not telling you anything you don't know.

And yes, the polls seemed to indicate that the majority of Americans had serious reservations about the concept of universal health care or “Obamacare” as the rightwing seems to like to call it.

In truth, I haven't read the health care bill. Of course, I'd bet the majority of congress hasn't actually read it either. And I don't know whether it's good or bad. I'm not here to preach the values and pitfalls of universal health care.

No, my main frustration today is with the Republican talking point about “the majority of Americans” opposing it.

I've said this before and I'll say it again: We are not a democracy. Never have been. Never will. Congress has enacted thousands upon thousands of pieces of legislation that the majority of Americans opposed. And the reason for them voting lockstep in opposition to our will is almost always the same: It's for our own good.

Frankly, if the majority of Americans knew what was good for them, we wouldn't keep sending the same yahoos to Washington year after year. We wouldn't need those yahoos to create laws mandating seat belt use … or speed limits … or drug laws … or any number of laws that have been enacted for the purposes of protecting us.

And if the majority of Americans actually cared enough, we wouldn't need those yahoos at all. We would just all vote on everything. That, of course, would make us a democracy. Not a republic.

I found it quite ironic listening to members of the Republican party (the world “republic” is right in their name) speak nearly unanimously about what the American people wanted, essentially extolling the virtues of democracy.

I won't go into why democracy is a bad thing. I did that in length in my December 8th column. And I'd prefer not to be monotonous. Or boring. Or quite annoying. For fear that someone will make me run for congress.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Happy Sunday to all ...

Just wanted to say hi and see how your weekend was going.

Good? Good.

Now for some funny.



Have a great Sunday. See you in print on Tuesday.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

An ode to Spring

Oh look! Spring.

Now, technically I know it's not Spring yet, but with the Ides of March and Buffalo's St. Patrick's Day Parade in our rear-view, two of the indicators I use for Spring have already passed. Throw in the nice weather we're having and my body is ready to walk down Main Street in a t-shirt and shorts.

It may seem like Winter lasts nine months here, but the warmer months make it all worth it. So much to do. So many places to go. People to see. And yummy food to eat.
Yup, standing at the corner of Allen Street and Delaware Avenue on Sunday watching the world turn green, it became official. I have Spring fever. The desire to get out and about wandering around parks and festivals, eating even worse food than I've been eating all Winter. Breaking the speed limit with the sun roof open. And ordering iced coffee instead of hot.

I don't really appreciate our Winters here, although I know we do our best to make them worthwhile. And it seems this year Western New Yorkers tried even harder to make Winter bearable. It seemed there were more things to do and more places to go. But it's hard to beat Spring.

I love driving, but I prefer driving when it's sunny out. Every day it's sunny out a little longer. I love to be outside, enjoying our fresh – and sometimes not so fresh air. When the temperature goes about 40 I do that quite a bit more often. Oh. And tennis. It's almost time to play tennis.

You feel it too, don't you? You're starting to think of what to put in the garden. Starting to plan your summer trip. Where to this year? Boston? Philly? We've done both. They're great vacation spots.

You've been thinking since November that you should scrape that Darien Lake parking sticker off your car window, only to procrastinate on a daily basis until you've gotten to this point … and now you're excited to be able to replace it soon with a new one. The 2010 edition.

Spring is a time when young man's hearts turn to thoughts of fancy … or something like that. I'm not so much worried about the fancy as I am the thought of sleeping outside under the stars with the kids while they point out Orion's belt and the Dippers.

Last week it was warm enough to drive with my windows all the way down, blaring my music for the world to hear – whether they wanted to or not. Judging by some of the looks I got, they didn't want to.

And this week is supposed to be even warmer.

Every year when the weather starts to break like this, I create a list of things I want to take advantage of. And every year when the weather turns cool again, I look at that list and wish I had crossed more things off of it.

This is the year that I cross more things off the list than not. This is the year that I refuse to let the warm months slip by. This is the year that I refuse to let life get in the way of living.

I'm starting that list. Sunday's parade was the first thing on it. Check. We had a blast. Tomorrow is a day to take advantage of, too. I'll be sure to check that one off as well.

Each week that passes from here on out is a new opportunity to take advantage of some of the finer things about living in Western New York. And I plan on doing so.

Sure, your friends can mock you in February that since they moved to North Carolina, they haven't had to turn the heat on, but nothing beats a Western New York Summer.

And when we Spring those clocks forward, we do so knowing it's right around the corner. Our southern friends can enjoy their one-foot long bugs. We'll enjoy the county fair soon.

Welcome to the good life.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cutzilla!!!!

This just in!

I just did some very minor updates on ScottLeffler.com ... and would like to mention that you should keep an eye on the blog there, cause I may have some news in the not-too-distant future.

*crosses fingers*

And while I've got your attention, the forum has been dormant for too long. I think I'll try to spend some more time there in the coming days and weeks.

Finally, please add me on Twitter. My posts range from politics to sports to just plain snark. Hopefully it'll amuse you.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

OMG. LOL.

Why the census is crap

“We can't move forward until you mail it back.”

That little slogan has been frustrating me now since I first heard it a couple months ago.

Surely you've heard or seen the Census commercials telling you that if you don't fill out your “10 questions in 10 minutes,” your child won't have a school next year and none of the potholes in your town will get fixed.

The Constitution mandates that the US government count all of the nation's residents every 10 years for the purpose of apportioning the House of Representatives and Electoral College. Basically, the more people in your city or state, the more influence you should have in Washington.

It's sound logic in this representative government we have. What's not sound is the thought that if you don't fill out your census form, little Billy won't have a school to go to next year. Not only is it not sound logic, it's actually disingenuous.

Their slogan should be something like, “Hey, paperwork sucks, but we gotta do it.”

The form asks your name, age, sex, race, and if you own or rent your home, among other things. While the questions don't necessarily infringe on your rights of privacy, they also aren't necessary for the purposes of “enumeration.” .

Whether you own or rent your home, you still get to vote. No matter your race, you still get to vote. So these questions are moot. Interestingly, the census does not ask whether you are a citizen of the United States, which is related to whether or not you can vote, so it is actually is pertinent to the number of representatives each state has.

While the Constitution mandates that the government must count us, it doesn't mandate that we have to give the survey takers our phone number, another question on the census.

Many people have come up with an idea to only fill out the first question, pertaining to the number of people that live in the home. A congresswoman from Minnesota says that's all she'll do, in fact. She could face a $5,000 fine for doing so, according to the Census Bureau.

I'm betting they're hoping on a lot of $5,000 fines so they can pay for their horribly atrocious commercials they've been airing – including one during the Super Bowl.

Now, look, I'm not saying don't fill out your census form. I've never been one to tell people what to do and I'm not going to start now. But I am saying don't be afraid to question it. Don't assume that the government knows what they're doing. And don't assume that they're benevolent.

That said, if you have a census worker show up at your door, don't hurl obscenities (or anything else) at them. Odds are they're rather be doing just about anything else, but there's not much else for them to do, so … census worker it is.

Look up Article 1 Section 2 of the Constitution. Maybe print a copy out. Maybe mail it in with your form. Call your congressman and ask why the census form has nine more questions than it needs. Ask him or her if little Billy really won't have a school next year if you fill out the census wrong.

And if your congressman comes back with “We can't move forward until you mail it back,” remember that there's another form for you to fill out in November. And that one's really important.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Dear Governor Paterson: I never liked you

I have my biases just like anyone else.

Add to that the fact that I'm somewhat vindictive and not particularly forgiving and, frankly, it makes me the type of person whose bad side you don't want to get on. And if you are on my **** list and you fall? Well, I'm not going to feel guilty about enjoying it.

I'm not saying this as a threat. It is merely a disclaimer. Usually you get those at the end in small print, but I like to put mine out front.

I was never a fan of David Paterson. I'm not afraid to call him “the accidental governor.” I mean, let's be honest here. If Eliot Spitzer were a combination of more discreet and less freaky, we still wouldn't know anything about David Paterson. And we'd all be just fine with that, I'm sure.

When Paterson assumed the role of governor, he had a radio tour to introduce himself. I was working for WECK and WLVL at the time and got the same email every other talk show host in the state got; announcing that the new governor might consider being a guest on my show to tell the taxpayers what he was all about.

I called the number on the email, hoping to set up a live interview with the governor, the third we'd had since I had started my talk show several years ago – but the first who had offered to do a live interview. Or at least, I thought that's what the offer was.

I wish I could recall the conversation verbatim, but I cannot. I do remember whoever I talked to telling me that Cheektowaga and Lockport were not important enough to warrant the new executive's time. The woman on the other end of the phone didn't seem to care that radio waves were capable of traveling and just because the stations were licensed to Cheektowaga and Buffalo didn't mean that only residents of those communities would hear it.

“Yeah, we're licensed to Cheektowaga,” I told her, “but the majority of our listeners are actually from Buffalo, the second largest city in the state. You may have heard of it?”

The preceding paragraph is paraphrased, but that was the gist.

It didn't matter. She wasn't buying it. And just as quickly as David Paterson had become governor, I was done with him. Frankly, if his media people were that clueless, I could only imagine how bad he must be.

He didn't disappoint. He struck me as equal to his aide in terms of cluelessness. Honestly, I've been thinking for days of something he did that impressed me or gave me any sort of notion that he may have been more intelligent than I gave him credit for. I came up empty.

The thing that has frustrated me most about Governor Paterson has been his constant insistence that he was “making the tough decisions” by deciding to raise taxes. I've never gotten the impression that any politician ever has lost sleep over deciding to raise taxes.

Now, deciding not to run for a full term as governor cause your administration is plagued with scandal? I'm thinking that might have caused “the accidental governor” to lose a few winks.

So it's been decided that this partial term will be his last. Good for us. I would have to say to the governor, though, “Why wait? I mean, really. Just go now. You haven't accomplished anything yet. And now that you're a lame duck, you're not going to.”

In short, allow me to add myself to what is surely going to be a long line of journalists who suggest to to governor that he should do us all a favor and resign.

If that seems vindictive to you, it's because it is. Not that it matters. He won't care about my opinion. I'm not from a big enough city.