Monday, August 22, 2011

The US Congress

My father emailed me the following:

Congressional Reform Act of 2011
1. No Tenure / No Pension.
A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of
2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.
All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system
immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress
participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.
3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.
4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the
lower of CPI or 3%.
5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health
care system as the American people.
6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.
7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12.
The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen. Congressmen made
all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The
Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then
go home and back to work.

It's difficult to tout the wonders of democracy to the citizens of a non democratic society when your government is a corrupt Clown Car that threatens to drive the world economy off a cliff to prove a political point, allows its citizens to continue to get screwed by Big Business, remains involved in pointless wars, can't seem to do anything to help people get back to work in decent jobs, and whores itself to the highest bidder.
By the way, feel free to cut and paste and forward the above to everyone you know.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Back in The Traffic

We spent a month in the US, which was a great trip. I've been very busy since returning, mostly teaching classes day and night. It didn't take long to readjust to life here, especially surviving the daily challenges that Chinese streets bring. It brings to mind the old Atari game, Frogger, with the frog trying to negotiate various crossings without getting whacked.

In China, when crossing such a a two lane, two way street, the pedestrian makes a break for the center line as soon as there is a lack of cars coming from the left. You assume the motorcycles will dodge around you. If you stop to try and yield to them, it screws their timing up, and you risk getting hit. When the traffic from the right stops, you finish crossing.
While in Seattle, I was trying to cross such a street. Nobody was coming from the left, so I made a break for the center line. All the cars in the opposite lane came to a sudden stop to allow me to finish crossing. They actually yielded to the pedestrian!!!!! I was completely taken aback, and felt a little ashamed for making the mighty cars stop, but managed to finish crossing.
I never could feel completely comfortable taking walks in orderly, obedient American sidewalks and streets. After living here I have developed a kind of radar/eyes in the back of my head that keep me alerted to electric motorbikes silently zipping up behind me on the sidewalk, people driving against traffic, motorbikes using crosswalks, cars using sidewalks, and countless other vehicular idiocies that can cause injuries. Even in quiet, sedate Ashland, Oregon, I kept expecting some dick on a bald tired, blue smoke belching, motorcycle speeding out of nowhere with whiny horn blaring causing me to spring out of his way. I guess I have Third World Traffic PTSD.