Archive for March, 2014

40 Years

Posted: March 23, 2014 in Miscellaneous

So I just recently turned 40 years old.  Now that I’ve got the ‘man I am old!’ out of my system, I thought it might be fun to reflect on how things have changed during my lifetime.

What was happening on the day I was born? – On the specific day, doesn’t look like much.  Um…the Brazilian President resigned?  Er….

What was happening in the year I was born?  –  Ah, that’s better.  A little thing called Watergate forced President Richard Nixon to resign.  Franklin Bank became insolvent (apparently this was before banks became “too big to fail”).  The 55 mph speed limit was introduced.  Daylight savings time was expanded to try to deal with the energy crisis.  Pocket calculators first started appearing in stores.  The top-selling toy was Play-Doh.  Top movies included The Godfather Part II, Blazing Saddles, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  Top television shows included All In The Family, The Waltons, and Sanford and Son.  The Way We Were by Barbara Streisand was the top song (blech!).  Unemployment was around 5.5%  (but poised to go up very soon, to over 7% by the beginning of 1975).  Inflation was over 11%!

New Things I’ve Have Seen In My Lifetime –  High-definition television sets.  Several iterations of ways to record television for later viewing.  Personal computers.  The internet.  Phones that don’t need wires.  Phones for more than just phone calls.  Digital music.  Digital cameras.  Devices in your car that will tell you where you need to go…by talking to you!  Video game systems.  The explosion of cable television networks.  Twenty-four hour news networks (blech!).  Artificial hearts.  The use of DNA for crime solving.  Space shuttles.  GPS.  Wars (way too many).  An African-American elected President of the United States!  Twice!

Things I’ve Seen Go Away In My Lifetime (Or Come And Go) –  Vinyl records, cassette tapes, VHS tapes, typewriters, Atari, disco, hair metal bands, gasoline for under $1 per gallon, floppy discs, Commodore 64, “Weird Al” Yankovic making hit music, MTV playing music videos,  Jell-O pudding pops, Taco Bell Rancho Steak Burritos, Jolt Cola, NFL teams in Los Angeles, “New” Coke, The California Raisins, The Soviet Union, West and East Germany, Nelson Mandela.

Things I Hope To See In Next 40 Years – How about a woman as President already?  Much less conflict in the world.  Much less poverty.  Yeah, that would be good.  Oh, and teleportation.  Because that would be awesome!

Anything I missed?

Alabama state motto.  (Yeah, I bet you thought it was "Roll Tide".)

Alabama state motto. (Yeah, I bet you thought it was “Roll Tide”.)

I’ve lived in the state of Alabama for about ten years now.  While there are many things to like about the state (the weather tends to be warm, the people are generally good, its naturally beautiful), there are areas where I sure wish we could get better.

  • Say again, why can’t Alabama accept the Medicaid expansion? – As part of the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid standards were expanded (just a bit) with the intent of providing more poor people with health care coverage.  However, The Supreme Court ruled that states could opt out of that expansion if they so choose.  Alabama chose.   Here’s the thing though.  Poor people don’t stop getting sick because we don’t expand Medicaid.  Eventually they are going to show up at the E.R. where they can’t be turned away.  It’s the doctors and hospitals that lose out because they won’t get reimbursed for the services they provide.  And then the costs get passed onto all of us anyway.  Plus the federal government is going to pay 100% of the expansion costs for the first three years, and still at least 90% after that.  To me, it makes more sense to 1) go ahead and provide the poor with coverage so they go ahead and get the care they need before it becomes an emergency (and more expensive) and 2) pay for this through taxation rather than by whoever loses the health lottery.
  • I beginning to suspect we aren’t very respectful toward women. –  First, we have this assclown who was convicted of 3 counts of rape of a minor, yet our court system refuses to throw him in jail.  We also have what a women’s prison in which the abuse of the prisoners is so bad, the federal government has literally declared the prison unconstitutional.  It seems like maybe we don’t take this stuff seriously.
  • A little more diversity of opinion in the state government might be nice. –  The governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, auditor, treasurer, 22 out of 34 state senate members, 65 out of 105 state house members, and all 9 of the state Supreme Court justices are Republican.  But that might not be that bad if the Democrats were at least putting up strong opposition in the elections.  If the debate is held in that process and the state voters continue to go GOP, hey, at least the discussion was had.  But Democrats in this state barely bother.  Heck, sometimes you even get total cranks like this guy, who was once shot by his neighbor when the neighbor caught him pouring chocolate syrup on his car, running for Supreme Court Justice. (So if you wonder how a guy like Roy Moore could regain Supreme Court Justice after being kicked out once before, this was a big part of that answer.)
  • Or I would even settle for less stupid “debates” in the state government.  –  So our legislators spend time “debating” such issues such as the public display of the Ten Commandments in public buildings.  I suspect much of the “debate” was whether should we really display the Ten Commandments in public places or should we really, really display the Ten Commandments in public places.  Because clearly that would solve EVERYTHING (or at least shootings at school and the murder of moms and dads according to one of these legislators).  Sure, such display is unconstitutional.  But we pick and choose when we care about the Constitution.  Because gosh darn it, our legislators love the commandments and the bible, even if they don’t really know what’s in it.  Let’s put it up for a vote of the people and dare them to vote against God!  We’ll put it right in the state Constitution.  Speaking of which….
  • Can we just scrap our state Constitution and start over?  –  First, any document that has had to have been amended 856 times can’t be worth much (yes, it really does have 856 amendments).  At over 340,000 words, it is believed to be the wordiest active Constitution in the world.  But I don’t think bigger is better here.  Most of the length is because our state does not have what is known as “home rule”, the power for local governments to run their own affairs.  So when a county wants to, for instance, change a tax rate, it usually has to get a state amendment passed.   That means we often find ourselves voting on tax issues in which we are not involved.  (And yes, taxes have passed in localities affected only to have the rest of the state vote it down.)  So when you must have constitutional amendments for individual cities and counties, that tends to make it really long.  As an added bonus, we still have plenty of racism in there (technically our constitution still calls for segregation of schools by race).  We should just start with a clean slate.