Tuesday, November 30, 2010

News Digest and Quick Commentary

Item: Mo. Gov. Wants Prescriptions For Certain Cold Meds My first reaction was immediate and personal. What a pain in the butt! It's already a bad deal to have to remember to go to the store when the pharmacy is open, but to have to see my doctor before hand for something that can be fixed with a little red pill (like a sinus headache)? Not to mention the extra cost in money and time. What's to stop meth dopers from going to another state for the chemical? It will not help if not universally applied, and that is just too much nanny government for me. Although the surveillance has its own problems, using the registry in this and other states is a good way to track down meth manufacturing abusers of pseudoephedrine. This drug really works as intended for most people--let's keep it available for those who need it.

Item: Gov't Orders Cities to Change Street Signs Apparently, six years ago, it was decreed by the Federal Gubmint that all street signs shall be rendered in all CAPS. Now, the same Federal Gubmint has decreed that street signs shall be rendered in Mixed Case. It was just a few years ago that the ALL CAPS signs started appearing around Kansas City, Missouri. Now, starting in 2012, those signs will have to be replaced. The gubmint says that signs with mixed case are easier to read--that is that Red Bridge Road is easier to read and comprehend than RED BRIDGE ROAD. Hmmm, OK if you say so on that, but this is an unfunded mandate for states and cities already strapped for cash, even with replacement over the span of several years. Besides what's to stop the overbearing Feds from changing their mind five years from now? Let cities and states make the final decisions for form, within the structure of simple, fundamental specs from the feds which do not change every five minutes.

Item: Wikileaks opens up diplomatic communications A serious offense against this nation? I do think so, although I am not so much wanting the head of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange as the heads of those who put the documents in this man's hands. We have already seen one person prosecuted for the previous leaks. Let's find out and prosecute the source of these new leaks. By the way, has anyone heard much from President Obama on this? I'd like to hear some passion from our president, and not so much his intellectual side when and if he comments. Something on the order of, "This is a travesty and we are going to find out what happened and we are going to bring the force of the law on those responsible." That would be good.

Enjoy this chilly night!

Monday, November 29, 2010

November 29, 1988

At about 0400 November 29, 1988 two Kansas City Fire Department pumpers responded to a report of a truck on fire at 87th Street and about Hickman Mills Drive--about where the future U.S. 71 Highway would pass as it was constructed north. Firefighters were aware that explosives were stored at the site, but had no idea of the breadth of that storage. At 0407 one trailer full of ammonium nitrate--the same substance that was used to bring down the federal building in Oklahoma City, exploded. This was followed by a second explosion about 40 minutes later. The two explosions killed six firefighters, completely demolishing the pumper trucks, and leaving huge craters in the land scape. It is well known that arson was the cause of the initial fires, but the investigation has been riddled with questions and even now some cast doubt on the conviction of the individuals that were charged with the crime.

The explosion was of such force that it was heard 30-40 miles from the site. The concussion broke many windows in the nearby area, and people were evacuated until it was clear that it was safe. I was not here at the time, but I met several people who were living just south of the site at Nob Hill Apartments at Bannister (95th St) and U.S. 71 who told me they were literally bounced out of bed by the force of the two explosions.

Killed that day were Thomas M. Fry, Gerald Halloran, Luther Hurd, James Kilventon Jr, Robert McKarnin, and Michael Oldham. The men, here listed in alphabetical order, worked on pumper 30 and pumper 41. I was watching some old video from the news casts, and the most shattering video was the site of the men wandering around the empty bay of pumper 30's station, trying to make sense of the loss.

Photos, from the Kansas City Star's archives. Top, the site after the explosion. You can see the remains of the trucks. Bottom, the memorial built on the site honoring the lost men.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Sorry for the lack of blog posts. I just can't get my thoughts in very good order these days.

I am very impressed that this country, this state, this city have some very serious problems to solve.

There are people on both the "left" and the "right" that proport to have the answers.

I don't know if I believe that anymore.

I think we have to stop being arrogant and know it all and settle down and really work together to find some answers.

Along the way, there are going to be fundamental changes in many value systems.

My prayer is that we can preserve the open, classless, free America that makes us different than other countries--the difference that causes people to fight like Hell to come here.

In addition, there are sections of our society that have just "given up" and spend most of their time wasting time and money and when that gets too boring, stealing and killing from each other and from others.

We need help. I believe that God will help. However, I also believe that the best source of help is right here, near by.

It's us--when we quit name calling, judging and attacking each other.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


The Observer is pretty darn thankful this Thanksgiving Eve.

Thankful for a safe place to lay the head, food security, and shoes on the feet. Thankful for a car that works pretty well, and a place to park it.

Thankful for a country free enough that I can have a blog, open to anyone who finds it to read, to express opinions and, with few restrictions, free to offer any opinion or view point.

Thankful that I can practice the faith of my choosing and freely assemble with others of like mind, knowing that we will be free to do it again the next week--or the next day if we want to.

Yes, my country has troubles, and it is going to take a lot of work to make some of them better, but it is a good country, full of smart, innovative, hard working people.

Not everything is perfect, but the possibility of change exists, and for this hope, I am thankful also. Somehow, the Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr fits here.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time.
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace.
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it.
Trusting that He will make all things right;
If I surrender to His will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
And surpremely happy with Him
forever in the next.


May you all have a peaceful and blessed Thanksgiving celebration!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Feeling Feisty Today... On Loose Juvy Offenders

Well, over at You're Looking Live--the sports division of the South KC Observer--I just hammered Bo Pelini, the coach of the University of Nebraska football team for acting like a dipwad during the Nebraska/Texas A & M game Saturday night.

On my personal FB page, I just took my church to task for continuing to announce an opportunity after the registration deadline passed.

Now, I am completely after the law enforcement people for how they are handling the escape of five young criminals from the juvy lock up.

First a few links--KSHB: Juveniles escape from Jackson County Juvenile Detention...KCTV: 5 Teens Escape... KMBC: Police Searching for Juvenile...Fox4: Juveniles on the Run...Kansascity.com: Jackson County authorities searching...

Now, typically I don't give you all those news links, but I wanted to this time to note that there is little information given that will be really helpful in engaging the community's help in catching these little miscreants. We do get ages and offenses--and don't they all sound like fine upstanding young citizens who just had a moment of bad judgement--but no description at all. We're left wondering if they are White, Black or something else; if they are tall or short, fat or thin, brown haired or blond. We're given no clue about their neighborhoods of origin, or home towns...

Further freaking more--they did not release this information until SUNDAY and the escape was FRIDAY. So these little..darlings...have had a TWO DAY HEAD START.

Please forgive the capitals, but this is ridiculous. Confidentiality has that much status over public safety?!?


Saturday, November 20, 2010

New Fiats At LA Auto Show

Now this would be a spot for an autophile! The LA Auto Show is where is has been at this past week with new and refreshed models offered by several manufacturers. Now The Observer's household has been a Chrysler household since 1987 and I have been waiting to see the new offerings of small cars via partner Fiat. Not since the K Car and the minivan has the future of an automobile concern been so intertwined with a car model. Chrysler/Fiat must get a foothold in the small car market to go along with their continued strong work in Jeeps and large cars.

They look sort of small, don't they?

Kansas City Auto Show in March--hopefully, we'll have some of these to paw over...there is one authorized dealer--the charming people at Olathe Chrysler...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Paseo Bridge Takes Last Cars Today

The Paseo Bridge has had its last day today providing passage to areas north of the river and the airport. Even though I have lived in the southland all the time I've been in Kansas City, I saw the Paseo Bridge on a fairly regular basis when I had a job in the early 1990s shuttling folks to and from the airport for Nazarene headquarters. I liked the bridge--like so many suspension bridges so elegant with its cables and curves. The simplicity of the supports gradually grew on me. When it became obvious that it would be replaced I was saddened. I would miss its simple and understated grace. The Bond Bridge has its own beauty, and I am sure that I will come to appreciate its increased capacity over time, but I am sorry to see the Paseo Bridge go.

Photo from The Pitch after a Google search. I wish I had my own photos!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Just Really Like This Story...

I just really like this story from KSHB about a metro man, Shawn Breakfield, who looking for the cremated remains of his mother who died while he was serving a prison term. A lot of people took time to help him find his mom's cremains. A former employee of the funeral home. The new owner of the building. The media played a role in facilitating the coming together of all the parties. Now it is hoped to inventory the remaining cremains and put the names on the internet. The other neat part of the story is that Mr. Breakfield is doing well himself, married, with a child on the way. Congratulations to all participating, and prayers to Mr. Breakfield as he processes anew the loss of his mom.

Enjoy the KSHB report, and the video, below.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What Do We Do With This?

This dude (photo: MSNBC) is Michael Richard Swanson, a 17 year old from Minnesota. He is a suspect in the murder of two convenience store clerks in Iowa. The clerks gave this little creep everything he requested, but he killed them "to keep them from calling the cops." Here's the story from MSNBC.

Today, also, the Kansas City Missouri Police reported that they have two 17 year olds under arrest in the murder of Helen Ragen of south Kansas City. The two young men have confessed that they had had a "beef" with a twenty-something Black man. They believed that that person lived at the Regan house. To get back at this perceived wrong, they shot blindly over 30 shots into the home, striking Ms. Ragen and killing her. Here is the story from the Kansas City Star.

It is so hard when looking at the stories of the actions of these severely morally impaired people and not want the death penalty, not want vengeance. These types of people have been around since sin came to the forefront in the Garden. Barring a total spiritual make over, they will be destined to repeat their moral failures, creating a trail of victims where ever they go. The only way to stop them, absent that radical change, is to kill them, or separate them from society forever. Even if they were to regain their moral "North Star," they still need to pay for the harm they inflicted when they were acting so sinfully, selfishly and antisocially.

What say you? What do we do with individuals who have fallen away so far from common decency and respect for life?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

DUI Funny

Sorry, it's just funny. Hat tip to The Blaze.

Best comment from "Blaze" readers--I would love to know where "here" is in this comment:

Posted on November 16, 2010 at 11:31am

We had a drunk Prius driver here drive through 2 barricades, fencing and landed in a 15 ft hole. This occurred right in front of a Fire Station. The driver called 911 from the hole and had no idea where they were.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Mayor Funky Revival?

Land's sakes, we all have such short memories!

I even caught myself thinking that Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser had actually started to sound reasonable in his last few public appearances and his monthly excursion into radio on KMBZ. The hosts of the show, Scott Parks and Mike Shanin, also noted that the tenor of the phone calls into the program had changed--there was less hostility and challenge to them.

But remember what has transpired over the past years since his election.

Messy conflicts with personnel at all levels, including the vital office of City Manager.

His wife Gloria's continued presence at City Hall, despite the $500,000 her habitation cost the city in a law suit settlement.

The general tin ear that Funkhouser possesses with regard to dealing with people.

The MAST merger.

Lots of broken promises with regard to being "smart with the money."

The 2009 snow removal fiasco.

Now, there are a bunch of people who would like to succeed Funkhouser as mayor. The sheer number of them, and his incumbent advantage could be enough to send Funkhouser through as one of the top two finishers, and possibly to a second term.

Is that what we want? Think about it.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Rain Exposes Most Metro Drivers as FRAUDS!

So OK, it hasn't rained around here in about a month. I guess that's long enough for everyone to forget how to handle the car in the wet conditions.

It's been ridiculous, folks! People crashing at a prodigious rate! And not just minor crashes, but several fatal crashes including one in the northland and another in Lee's Summit.

Please remember that visibility is reduced in the rain, so you won't see as far ahead. Stopping distance increases in the rain, as does the likelihood of skidding if you need to make a quick maneuver or stop.

One of the problems is speed. Many people are just driving too fast! Others are driving too slowly and making obstacles of themselves, causing others to have to make driving decisions to get around them.
However the biggest thing is...LACK OF ATTENTION TO THE DRIVING TASK!

People, when you are driving, you are in control of a 1800-4000 lbs missile of glass, plastic and steel. You make that move at a rate of 95 feet per second when driving at 65 miles per hour. That is about 30 yards in one second--about a third of the field of play on a football field. Please think about this when you use your phone, text on your phone or fiddle with your radio. A lot can happen in just a few seconds! Remember the goal: Arrive Alive.

Images: KCI--vehicle into lake--KMBC. Northland crash--Fox 4 and KSHB. Lee's Summit--KMBC.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day

As I considered a post for this day, a day where we remember the service of men and women in our armed forces who fought to preserve our freedom, I looked at a number of images and photos. Some showed wounded soldiers, some showed the funerals of soldiers, one showed a soldier doing the mundane work of "burning the shitters" at a forward base. This one though, this one spoke to me. Although it was taken in Afghanistan in 2010, soldiers of every war can be seen in the slightly weary face of Sgt. Thomas James Brennan of Massachusetts in his damp bivouac. So to every veteran I say thank you for your service.

I was getting gas tonight and I saw a spry elderly man jump out of his SUV. He was wearing a Navy cap. I greeted him, "Happy Veteran's Day, thank you for your service!" He was delightful, cracking wise about how everything today was "free or discounted," telling me of his breakfast at HyVee and his coming dinner at Applebee's. "I might even reenlist." he says, "but I'm only 82--too young--they won't take me." He served in the Pacific during WWII. No need sir, we'll take it from here.

Veterans, thank you. And also a big thank you to the families of service members.

Above photo from "Big Picture" blog. Here's a link to the series.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Solyndra's Dilemma

I know that I'll probably catch it for confessing this, but I do occasionally listen to Rush Limbaugh. He told a story today that I want to touch on, but go a different direction. This is not about the government loan to a company, this is about the ability of this country to recover economically--to have real productive jobs that actually have an end result and are not just pushing paper from one side of the desk to the other.

The story is about Solyndra, a company that manufactures solar energy equipment in California. Solyndra received a $535 million loan guarantee from the federal government to help build a new plant and expand their business making solar cells and other solar energy equipment. They are going to lay off some 40 employees, not take up the contracts of about 100 others and shut down one of their plants. The reason given is that they cannot compete with the prices of the companies manufacturing similar equipment in China. Here's a link to an article in the Los Angeles Times--I didn't just take Rush's word for it.

Now, let's do a thought exercise. Let's engage our imagination for a minute. Imagine a group of people perceive a demand for a certain widget. The type of widget is not really important--just that it is an actual object that needs to be made from raw materials. The group of people gather some money together--let's make it all private money--and start a company that manufactures widgets--Widgets Incorporated. They get a building, the fabricating equipment, the material, a couple of employees and start making widgets. Lo and behold, the widgets find a market and sell reasonably well. It costs our imaginary company some amount--say $8--to make each widget, but the price they can sell at covers costs, returns a small profit and still attracts customers.

All is well until we find out that Chow Mein Heavy Industries decides it wants to make widgets too, either under its own name, or under the name of a conglomerate--you know one of those makes everything from A to Z things. Any how, Chow Mein works its numbers, and makes widgets. At $5.50 a piece, since their labor costs are much lower. They price the widget accordingly on the market. Lo and behold, people start buying Chow Mein's widgets, because they are cheaper.

This means trouble for Widgets Incorporated. Widgets Inc. has lost market share, and is not selling enough widgets to be cost effective, and keep going in their current state. What to do? Cut wages? Cut staff? Change marketing? Major on service with and after the sale? Manufacture in China with General Tso's Manufacturing Company? Just keep going but make less money per unit? Close up shop altogether and leave the making of things to the peasants of China?

This is the life of Solyndra right now--forget the federal loan situation for now--how are they to proceed? And what is best for our country? Should that be a consideration? Or did they just miscalculate and tough for them?


Friday, November 5, 2010

An Idea to Bring In Some Money

We are all broke, including the government. The government has been trying all kinds of new and old ideas to bring in money. I had an idea.

Complete tax amnesty for 3 months. Now, it has to be kept simple. The taxpayer is responsible for documentation. The government will not spend a lot of time with a goofy "application" and "approval" process. (We saw how well that worked for the mortgage mess.) Once the debt is verified, payment is made by the taxpayer right there. No further penalty or process involved.

Didn't file with the IRS a couple years ago? Get that return together, pay the amount you would have owed back then, and send it in and be done. No interest. No penalty. (No refund back to you either though and to get amnesty and stop the IRS process, you must file return[s] for the missing year[s]).

Behind in personal property tax on your car? Find out how much and pay that amount only. No interest. No penalty. No problem.

Property taxes behind? Same thing. Pay it in full, without penalty or interest. No more threats of a tax sale of your property on the steps of the courthouse.

I think this would work. But it has to be kept simple, to keep administrative costs to a minimum. Simple works here. People would take advantage, knowing it would clear things up for good with the taxing agencies. I think the money would roll in.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Election Reaction

I was on Facebook last night via my BlackBerry while out and about watching the election returns. Around 10 pm I found the cryptic post from a left leaning friend: "God help America." This afternoon, once on the computer I decided to check out the thread that developed.

After a morning of reading and listening to opining about the election and where our country is going, I was still bothered to some degree by my friend's short comment. How is it that the Republican victories gave such a sense of dismay that my friend was looking for divine intervention?

I think the first thing we need to do is to give our politicians the same grace we give our friends and family. My mother, bless her heart, was guiding Vermont Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Shumlin around her small town during the last month of the campaign. We agree to disagree, my mother and I on both politics and religion. The friend above is an awesome, funny, smart and passionate person. Her left leanings do not make me think less of her.

So we need to stop demonizing the opposition. We may disagree and do battle in the arena of ideas, but the ad hominum attacks and suspicions of evil plans do not help us solve the difficult problems that this country faces. Let's not take our disagreements to the levels such that we are running around thinking the other is not just wrong, but evil. It doesn't help our system, which is built on planned opposition and checks and balances anyway, work any better. Honest debate is what we need, not hysteria followed by stubbornness.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Two Excellent Election Eve Links for You

The first is Scott Rasmussen, from the Wall Street Journal, thinking about how voters are not voting for the GOP, but against what they have seen from the Democrats and the Democratic party during these past two to four years. Here's a snip.

More precisely, it [voting against the party in power] is a rejection of a bipartisan political elite that's lost touch with the people they are supposed to serve. Based on our polling, 51% now see Democrats as the party of big government and nearly as many see Republicans as the party of big business. That leaves no party left to represent the American people.

Voters today want hope and change every bit as much as in 2008. But most have come to recognize that if we have to rely on politicians for the change, there is no hope. At the same time, Americans instinctively understand that if we can unleash the collective wisdom and entrepreneurial spirit of the American people, there are no limits to what we can accomplish.

In this environment, it would be wise for all Republicans to remember that their team didn't win, the other team lost. Heading into 2012, voters will remain ready to vote against the party in power unless they are given a reason not to do so.

Elected politicians also should leave their ideological baggage behind because voters don't want to be governed from the left, the right, or even the center. They want someone in Washington who understands that the American people want to govern themselves.

I'm not sure I agree completely with his conclusion that voters want to "govern themselves." but it's pretty darned clear that voters are not happy with the governing that has been taking place and are not afraid to let the powers know that via the ballot box.

The second is from Michael Kruse. Kruse is the voice behind the Kruse Kronicles blog. Here he guest-posts at the blog of Allan R. Bevere, a Methodist minister in Ohio. Kruse snags three things really well in this entry: one, how it is that we come to demonize the other side; two, how we make the calculus about the common good, and how values differing gives different answers to that question and three, how these two tendencies come to conflict with each other. I'd give you a taste, but nothing I would pull out would make sense without the rest of it, so you'll just have to click on the link and read it for yourself. I think you'll find yourself nodding your head yes.

Oh, and if I didn't mention it before, you should go vote tomorrow, November 2. Polls in Missouri are open from 0600 (6 a.m.) to 1900 (7 p.m.). If you are in line at close, you will vote. Missouri voter info can be found at http://www.sos.mo.gov/elections/goVoteMissouri/default.aspx

Info for Kansas voters can be found at https://myvoteinfo.voteks.org/ Kansas polls are open 07-19. (7 a.m. to 7 p.m.)

Bid Fair Well to the Pink

We take just a minute on this first day of November to bid fair well to the pink in honor of breast cancer awareness month. I did like the way it looked, (it looks good with teal, doesn't it?) but we must not abuse the pink. It will lose its punch.

In the meantime, for you ladies, and you men who love ladies, here is a reminder of the suggested screening protocol for breast cancer in most women. Women with a history of breast cancer in their family should consult their doctors for further guidance.

More info can be found in many places on the internet--Susan G. Koman is a good place to start--that's the source for this snip.