Not all that long ago Washington D.C. was occupied by a group of hard partying individuals who could not only drink their way to a compromise, they could actually get something done. Today it is occupied by a bunch of mostly sober rectal sphincters the average American wouldn’t want living anywhere near them. The only things they appear capable of is specialty bills allowing publicly traded corporations who finance them properly to establish entities with no country of origin so all of the profits routed through it go untaxed. Nice bunch of people.
Those of us “of a certain age” actually got to witness this transition first hand. We went from drunks who could actually run a country to a bunch of sock puppets totally owned by their corporate sponsors in a scant 50 years. In the process we created Al-Qaeda and a host of other problems for the world.
I haven’t read The Looming Tower in quite a few years, but I do remember it provided one piece of the puzzle while providing a good read. Another reminder came from an excellent film about “Good-time Charlie” named Charlie Wilson’s War. I highly recommend you read the book _then_ watch the movie so you can better understand the time. This film spans the exact point in time when elected officials in Washington went from drunks that could accomplish something to wholly owned corporate lackeys. Once they were bought and paid for by corporate interests they quit spending money in Afghanistan and completely fracked the end game.
Not long after this spectacular debacle Ronald Reagan put into play the ultimate covert operation against the Soviet Union. His “Star Wars” (as it was called) was the absolute best game of brinkmanship _ever_. It is highly doubtful another of it’s skill and magnitude could ever be created. The idiots known as the press and even bigger idiots claiming to be experts were on/in the news almost nightly spewing venom about how it couldn’t possibly be made to work. Those of us who actually worked in IT at the time knew we were in the early years of Moore’s Law and if they simply kept throwing massive quantities of money at it, something would eventually get created which actually worked. Besides, it didn’t have to actually work unless someone launched one of those nuclear missiles we all seem to believe can be launched to the other side of the world hitting their target. In truth, we’ve never done it. We _believe_ it can be done because we actually did send multiple rockets to the moon with people in them and those people returned to Earth. Hitting a city without having to leave the atmosphere or make a return trip seems pretty simple by comparison so . . .
The media and pundits kept barking about the cost and how it could never be made to work, just like a fat dumb dog after a rabbit it couldn’t catch on a bet. That, sadly, is the media. Seems like it always will be. They get paid for ratings, not journalism. Meanwhile Ronnie kept smiling and playing. What the media didn’t say much about, probably because it required too much thought, was that the Soviet Union agreed to play the game. Oh, not the game they thought they were playing, no, not that one at all. This whole thing about missiles and shields and Star Wars that was just smoke, or rather, tokens on the board. The real game being played was the time honored capitalist game of “who can spend the most money.” Once a communist country sat down at the table the outcome was pre-determined. Our credit card had a higher limit and we could keep raising the limit. In short, the Soviet Union went broke and the Berlin Wall came down. Glasnost has official definitions on-line an in print. To those of us who watched it happen it means “humbled by bankruptcy.”
Once again the mostly sober rectal sphincters wholly owned by corporations fracked the end game. Instead of buying the Soviet Union for its debt (we could have at the time, especially given our debt level now!), instead of sending Ross Perot and Steve Forbes over to buy the country for its debt, instead of a whole host of other things which would have turned the Soviet Union into either a bunch of new states or a really big Puerto Rico, they served the interests of their corporate owners and fracked up the end game. I mean, how can you sell multi-billion-dollar weapons systems if there isn’t some big nasty foe to use them on? Nope, we didn’t buy the Soviet Union and dramatically increase our tax base, to say nothing of our oil and mineral reserves. Instead the genetic misfits which get sent to Washington pissed money down the drain on something else.
All of this history is necessary. Without it, you can’t see the Ronald Reagan playbook being used again. This time it is not America. The new Ronnie appears to be someone or a group of someones in Saudi Arabia. They simply changed one word and “who can spend the most money” became “who can lose the most money.” Their timing couldn’t be more perfect. Immediately behind a global financial crisis (created by Wall Street, of that there can be no doubt) they chained every one of their rivals to the game table. Those countries don’t have wallets anywhere near as thick as Saudi Arabia. While I fully expect they initially were only out to punish Iran and a few other locals, it looks like they are going to actually humble the major annoyances of the world.
Once again the media is all yick and yack about $50/barrel oil and all of the fools heavily leveraged because of a few months of high prices. Small minds are claiming the Saudi’s are out to put down the shale oil boom in America. Those minds simply aren’t thinking big enough. Personally I won’t be surprised when oil hits $20/barrel. Don’t be surprised if shortly after that happens Saudi announces it is thinking about increasing production.
Whoever is making the policy in Saudi knows what Ronnie knew. You don’t solve the world’s problems with a war, you solve them with a bankruptcy. Those things which were problems are much more humble when all of their possessions are up for auction to cover the debt. Just look at the countries getting clobbered by low oil prices: Russia, Iran, Venezuela, etc. Venezuela is already appealing to China for financial aid. Once the Saudi’s shove oil prices down to $20/barrel and increase production to keep it there for a year or so, they will achieve what the United Nations has never been able to, world peace.
Sadly, our genetic misfits in Washington have pretty much maxed out the American credit card with those tax deals for their corporate owners, never ending wars, and unbelievably large defense contracts. Once again we will miss the opportunity to buy Russia.
R&B Investigations is under attack. Their employee is shot in the back as he enters the building, and a hacker is trying to compromise their secure network. While the Boston police investigate the shooting, Bogie McGruder needs to find the culprit who is trying to put them out of business. Bogie and his partner Rose Jones can’t disclose their internet problems to the cops since Bogie is a hacker himself. Bogie McGruder returns to Boston with his four- year-old daughter Isabella. He joins up with Rose Jones’ uncle Walter who is fresh for Lompoc Prison. Bogie and Walter strengthen their firewalls while they try to determine who is behind the invasion. As the R&B team hones in on the culprit, they uncover several murders and discover a plot to wipe out the financial institutions in Boston. While Bogie is in Boston, his extended family in Palm Beach becomes enmeshed in a sex scandal that threatens to ruin lives and careers in the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office. Feeling like a wishbone about to snap, Bogie tries to handle problems in both cities while Isabella continues her quest for someone to teach her the Five-Point-Palm-Exploding-Heart technique as seen in Kill Bill Volume 2. This tale of murder, revenge and greed takes the reader on a whirlwind trip from Boston to Palm Beach and back.
The Girl in Black Pajamas is available in both print and ebook format.
Chris Birdy is an award-winning author of the Mystery/Suspense Pajama Series. She was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After graduating from high school, she did a four year stint in the Middle East. When she returned to the States, Chris settled down in the Boston area and became a true Bostonian by collecting college degrees while raising a family.
For more than twenty years, Chris has been a member of the legal community performing investigative work for Boston law firms.
Chris lives outside of Boston and in Palm Beach, Florida with her husband.
Whimsy – Humorous Tales of Adventure, Friendship and Outdoor Ventures For Young Adult Readers and those young at Heart
Adventures with Ragweed is a collection of humorous short stories filled with adventure and family themes.
Ragweed is a tribute to the whimsical part of each of us. Follow this young teen and her best friend, Marney as they travel to Mexico for a fishing trip, where the family is to shoot a pilot for a television show, instead, find themselves in an unexpected sea storm.
Laugh out loud as Ragweed takes on the tennis elite at the country club or attempts to rearrange their perfectly cut lawns.
Always one to learn new things, this young freckled face gal with the unruly blonde hair, builds a float, rides a horse and grows a garden – always getting into unintentional trouble and conning her friends to partake. Each task done with her own unique vies of the world.
Light Hearted and Funny
These stories are meant to entertain. It’s difficult to narrow it down to one specific genre as the book is a collection of short stories suitable for young adults as well as for an older crowd with a sense of humor. Family Relationships, Friendships, Essays and Humor are categories all presented within the pages of this book.
If you like the outdoors you might enjoy reading about Ragweed’s horse riding exploits or her compost-creating stunts. She spends a great deal of time playing sports and in the garden. Most of the stories are based on the author’s own experiences when she was a young adult but some of us know that inner youth tends to follow us into adulthood – so if you have similar backgrounds, these tales will make you grin.
Each story in this humorous collection is beautifully illustrated. The pictures capture the character and facial expressions of the gals in these short stories and in our opinion add to the text. There is also an animated video on the author’s page that is worth watching. The artist tried to capture the fun-spirited character of Ragweed and when the pictures were put into film, the story came alive visually. It’s like a short cartoon.
Linda Lou Crosby is a video producer, storyteller and former professional athlete. Like Ragweed, she has a unique approach to life. Ragweed is a part of herself she wanted to share with others. Linda Lou has a great sense of humor and likes to laugh and make others laugh too.
There are financial blogs which pay people to make pretty pretty graphs without providing any real information, and then there are blog posts which have actual information. You can either have pretty pretty graphs with no information or you have to read.
Years ago I said Amazon.com was entering its final stages and now others are finally agreeing with me. Take a good look at Sears. You remember Sears don’t you. The company which invented the mail order catalog business or at least was the first to take it to a massive scale. A company which continued to bring in pathetic excuses for management whizing their money away on things like The Sears Tower and Prodigy. You know, the company which then went bankrupt at the catalog portion of their business while others thrived with mail order.
Sears is today where Amazon.com will be in less than five years. Yes, it took Sears decades to devolve into a ghostly image of what it once was, but Amazon’s demise will happen at Internet speed. It has not choice, it is only Internet. Finally other analysts are starting to say the same thing.
That article does lack a bit of IT knowledge, but it has the major points correct. It’s not that brick & mortar retailers finally got their software correct, though. It has a lot more to do with the fact physical retailers can purchase complete and customizable eCommerce software packages from tiny companies like IBM and Oracle. Then they just have to turn on those feature consumers want such as “free ship to store” so they can do the one thing Amazon.com can’t do on a bet. Get the add-on sales due to impulse/convenience purchasing consumers do while at the store to pick up their order. Oh come on, you’ve all done it. You go into one place to pick something up then remember you need/want something else which this store happens to carry, OR you are at the counter with your item and see the check-out counter display.
Contrary to popular belief, Amazon.com isn’t Barnes & Noble’s problem. Lack of foot traffic is Barnes & Noble’s problem. Web wise bn.com has a pretty good presence. The real problem is the lack of foot traffic in the stores. Culturally, not that many people “spend the day at a book store” anymore. I have said this many times and will say it again. Barnes & Noble needs to get into the DVD by mail rental business allowing in-store exchanges just like Block Buster did. Block Buster could not make it work for many reasons, the two biggest were management and one-trick-pony. Barnes & Noble doesn’t need that portion of the business to be directly profitable. It just needs to sell the people other things when they come into the store to exchange a movie on a rainy weekend. After a couple of months/years, it will become habit for the customers to “think of going to Barnes & Noble.” That thought doesn’t happen much any more.
I’m old enough to remember when AOL and Prodigy were busy mailing more floppies in a given year that their were people on the planet. Heck floppy sales plummeted at the consumer level because people kept finding ways of removing the protection and formatting those floppy disks. Not everyone who got the disks own a computer so they would bring them in for their co-workers. Sigh, then AOL started sending CDs out and the magnetic media recycling frenzy ended.
How many of you know that at one point in time you could actually buy a house via the Sears catalog. I remember hearing those stories as a kid. You could actually order a house and every thing to assemble it (sans the tools) would show up at the shipping address. Yes, some assembly was required and yes, they came with assembly instructions. If memory serves me correctly it wasn’t just a pile of boards and singles but was a bit less than the trailer/modular homes you see today. It was some level of prefab in between.
I don’t tell you the “order a house” story to prove just how close I am to the great check-out counter of life, but to educate you whipersnappers about just how large and pervasive Sears was at the time. _Everybody_ knew Sears. Most bought at least some things there. Only people with computers and/or dumb phones know about Amazon.com or at least purchase from there. Yes Virginia, there is still a large segment of American consumers who have neither a computer at home nor a dumb phone. Some cannot afford them, but, most of that segment simply don’t want them. As much as I hate Wal-mart I have to admit, even they have figured this out. How do I know that? Take a really good look at all of the ads they run for basic cell phones with big buttons and no texting/Internet capability. That segment of consumers watches television but does not shop on-line nor do they stream movies.
One final note about Barnes & Noble here. In order to get that most cherished of market segments to do the DVD rental by mail with in-store exchanges, they need to have terminals either in the rental area or in the coffee area where customers can browse the main movie selection and update their list. Come on, you will sell them coffee and something to munch on while they are doing it. They might even see someone reading a book and purchase one on their way out.
No people, Amazon.com has hit the rocking chair of their existence. Unlike Sears, they won’t have lengthy “golden years.” Not that many people have “golden years” which are golden. We tend to look back at life in our 20s-30s as that time.