Welcome to Buster's Blog

Irregular commentary on whatever's on my mind -- politics, sports, current events, and life in general. After twenty years of writing business and community newsletters, fifteen years of fantasy baseball newsletters, and two years of email "columns", this is, I suppose, the inevitable result: the awful conceit that someone might actually care to read what I have to say. Posts may be added often, rarely, or never again. As always, my mood and motivation are unpredictable.

Buster Gammons

Friday, December 31, 2010

Kasich Vows To Give Ohioans The Business

Guv Elect John Kasich has said "Ohio is open for business" and his administration is anxious to "exploit the wonders of our state", including drilling for oil and gas in state parks, and possibly even in Lake Erie. Oh, goody!

John-Boy's new Director of Ohio Natural Resources is a former AEP executive who now runs an oil and gas company in Dubai (that petro-drunk Arab country with man-made islands shaped like palm trees).

And his new head of the Ohio EPA is a former executive at Perdue Foods, one of the largest commercial poultry operations in the world. (If you look up "environmental protection" in the dictionary, the antonym is Perdue Chicken.)

Don't look for much in the way of regulation or enforcement from this pair of tools. John-Boy clearly intends to plunder our natural resources and set us adrift on a river of oil and chicken shit, all so a handful of corporate bigwigs can make a quick buck.

Let the raping and pillaging begin!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Christmas Song

In one final Greeting of the Season, Buster happily shares Tom Lehrer's classic "Christmas Song". Here's wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hannukah, a Rockin' Ramadan, a Kwazy Kwanzaa, a Super Solstice, or whatever floats your boat!

(Here’s a little seasonal ditty about something which we all most sincerely believe in. I refer, of course, to money.)

Christmas time is here, by golly.
Disapproval would be folly.
Deck the halls with hunks of holly,
Fill the cup and don’t say when.

Kill the turkeys, ducks and chickens,
Fill the punchbowl, drag out the dickens.
Even though the prospect sickens
Brother, here we go again.

On Christmas Day you can’t get sore.
Your fellow man you must adore.
There’s time to rob him all the more
The other three hundred and sixty four.

Relations sparing no expense ‘ll
Send some useless old utensil
Or a matching pen and pencil.
“Just the thing I need. How nice.”

It doesn’t matter how sincere it
Is or how heartfelt the spirit.
Sentiment will not endear it.
What’s important is . . . the price!

“Hark, the Herald Tribune sings,
Advertising wondrous things!”

“God rest ye merry merchants,
May ye make the Yuletide pay!”

“Angels we have heard on high
Tell us to go out and . . . buy!”

So let the raucous sleighbells jingle
Telling us of old Kris Kringle
Driving his reindeer across the sky.
Don’t stand underneath when they fly by!

Meet Jack The Cat

This is our cat, Jack. He's also known, variously, as Captain Jack (for the black eye patch), Fat Jack or Hungry Jack (for obvious reasons), or Jack-Ass (for disturbing the domestic tranquility of the Buster Gammons household).

Jack is still not a year old, but he's already enjoyed a lifetime of mischief. Among his many achievments:

He plays the piano.

He types gibberish on my computer and tries to attack the cursor.

He has somehow pulled up Facebook on my wife's computer.

He eats flower arrangements and knocks over the vase to drink the water. (Does not mop up.)

In the middle of the night, he has turned on the water in the kitchen sink. (Doesn't turn it off -- water is running in the morning.)

He turns on lights. (Fluorescent fixture with a pull chain above the dryer.)

On the losing end (literally) of a cat fight, was bitten in the behind. The other cat tore him the proverbial new one. Nuthin' a couple hundred bucks at the vet can't fix.

He found an unopened back-up bag of cat food on the basement work bench, somehow ripped the bag open and ate his fill.

When using the litter box, Jack is like a shortstop turning the doubleplay -- it's the old "neighborhood" play. His aim is in the neighborhood of the box.

Jack is a true omnivore, eating anything and everything as often as possible. But he simply adores bread and butter. He chews through the plastic bag to eat the loaf inside. And he's broken several covered butter dishes. He pushes them off the counter, they shatter on the floor, and he jumps down to lick the butter.

We're gonna get him a toaster for Christmas!

"O" No, Part 2 (aka "The Geniuses")

Ohio State football players Terrelle Pryor, Boom Herron, Devier Posey, Mike Adams, and Solomon Thomas have just been suspended by the NCAA for the first 5 games of the 2011 season for receiving improper financial benefits. These geniuses decided to sell their Big Ten Championship rings, Gold Pants, and team jerseys. (Glad that swag means so much to you! Jeez!) They also received big discounts on tattoos. (How exactly does the NCAA establish retail value for a tattoo? And I've seen the ink on these guys. I sure hope they didn't pay full price for that ugly shit!)

So their asses are suspended and they have to pay/donate $1000 to $2500 to charity. (Since they can't sell their sweaty old uniforms, how are these Simon-pure student-athletes supposed to come up with the money?)

Plenty of blame to go around here, including the coaches, the AD, and the inscrutable NCAA. But to get right to the heart of the matter . . .
Jocks, tattoos, jocks with tattoos = Dumb, dumber, dumbest.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I Am A Facebook Failure

It's truth-telling time. I'm a Facebook failure, a total washout. I tried, but I just can't get into it. It's hugely influential all over the world, it's changed the way people communicate, its founder was just named Time's Person of the Year, and meanwhile I haven't even checked my Facebook page in a month.

I joined Facebook a couple years ago, for a very good reason -- everybody else was doing it, so me too! And I could force my teenage son to friend me so I could spy on him via his page. It was OK. I became Facebook buddies with a small, predictable group of family, some old friends, and a few neighbors.

A few things soon became obvious:
1. Adolescent male drivel is no more interesting on Facebook than it is in person.
2. Adult drivel is even worse. I don't give a shit what you had for breakfast.
3. Worst of all, way too many people use Facebook inappropriately. It's THE go-to place for bullying, harassment, and crackpot conservative political/religious ranting.

Is it disingenuous for Buster (of all people) to object to political opinion on Facebook? Possibly, but I believe those who click on the link to Buster's Blog go there by choice and know what they're gonna get. If I go to your Facebook page, I'm hoping for light and breezy, not some bit of ugliness encouraging me to pray for the President's death.

So, in what's certainly an over-reaction, I rarely go to anybody's Facebook page anymore. These days, I almost never accept a friend request. And I had to unfriend a couple of over-sharing acquaintances who had not the slightest thought that they might want to self-censor the stupid shit they posted. Couldn't take it. The result is that while the average Facebook user has 150 "friends", I have about 15.

Facebook is the Land Of TMI. I may visit now and then, but I just can't take up residence. Hence, I fail. Oh well.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Watch Fox News And Lose Your Mind!

A study from the University of Maryland has found that regular viewers of Fox News are much more misinformed than viewers of other TV news outlets. The research showed that, statistically, Fox-bots are "significantly more likely" to believe that:

Stimulus spending caused job losses.
The health care bill increased the deficit.
The economy is getting worse.
Climate change is a myth.
Obama increased income taxes.
Obama initiated the auto bailout.
Republicans opposed TARP bailouts.
Obama was not born in the U.S.

Of course, none of these things are true. The study also found that increased viewings of Fox News led to increased belief in these misconceptions.

In an initial reply, a Fox News executive said, "Uh . . . Terrapins are, like, stoopid . . . and drunk . . . and they're turtles!" Later, another Fox official stated that a full repsonse would be forthcoming "as soon as we finish our big upcoming 'Earth Is Flat' expose."

Marvin Miller Should Be In The Baseball Hall Of Fame

This spring, former Blue Jays and Phillies G.M. Pat Gillick will be inducted into the Executive wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was voted in by the Veterans Committee and is certainly a worthy choice.

But once again, Marvin Miller, former head of the Major League Baseball Players Association, fell just short of induction. And it's a shame. Under Miller's leadership, the player's union transformed itself and, in the process, changed baseball as well.

With the lords of the baseball realm kicking and screaming all the way, Miller ushered in the game's first collective bargaining agreement, salary arbitration, free agency and the end of the reserve clause, and the resultant ever-escalating multi-million dollar player contracts. Indirectly, those contracts spurred massive growth in TV and radio revenue. Owners loathed him, players loved him. No other person has done more to shape major league baseball as we know it today. The great broadcaster Red Barber put it this way: "Marvin Miller, along with Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson, is one of the three most important men in baseball history."

For years, the Veterans Committee was dominated by old owners and G.M.'s, and they effectively locked the old labor leader out of the Hall. That's changed now, and yet Miller somehow came up just one vote short. He's now 93 years old and under the Hall rules won't be on the ballot again until 2013.

I hope he makes it then, and I hope he's still around to see it, because he deserves it.

Kasich: Let's Take The "Public" Out Of Public Service

Our Governor-elect John Kasich held a press conference to announce his selection of Thomas Charles as Ohio's new Public Safety Director. He'll be the state's top law enforcement official. It just so happens that Charles' wife and son are both Highway Patrol officers. Nothing necessarily wrong with that. A reporter asked Charles if this might present a possible conflict of interest. Not an unreasonable question.

Charles didn't answer because Kasich butted in and launched into a diatribe: "We have so many stupid rules and regulations that prevent us from getting the best people to [work in government]. And I blame it on all of you (i.e. the media), all this 'transparency' and 'conflicts' and all this other stuff. I want to just tell you, it is a problem."

So let me see if I get you, John-Boy . . .

Doing whatever you want without restriction, GOOD. Rules, regulations, BAD.
Sugar-coated puffballs from the press, GOOD. Pertinent questions, BAD.
Secrecy and opacity, GOOD. Transparency, BAD.
Cronyism, nepotism, conflict of interest, GOOD. Independence and objectivity, BAD.

Does that just about sum it up?

He hasn't even taken office yet, and Kasich is already bitching because public government is not the same thing as his beloved private sector. No shit, Sherlock.

Venting his frustration, John-Boy complained, "I find myself tripping over anthills on the way to the pyramids."

Then pick up your fuckin' feet, dude!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Big Ten's Epic Fail

After years with 11, the Big Ten Conference will have 12 schools starting next year. Nebraska is the new addition, and it's all about money. The league can split into two divisions and have a conference championship between the division winners (at least for football). Another week of TV revenue! Yippee!

Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany announced that the two divisions will be known as "Leaders" and "Legends". Well, puke me! I'm sorry, but those names suck! (Are the Bucks a legend or a leader? I forget.)

The conference did it to itself. Neither of the two divisions have any geographic cohesion, so that rules out "East and West", "North and South". How about "Woody and Bo"? Maybe? I don't know. That sounds pretty contrived as well. I have no sure-fire alternatives, but I'd prefer any of the following names for the two divisions:

A and B
One and Two
This and That
6 Teams and 6 More Teams
Eggs and Bacon
Scotch and Soda

And for institutions of higher learning, many college conferences are pretty bad at basic math and geography. The Big Ten has 12 schools, the PAC Ten has 12, and the Big 12 has 10. The Big East has schools in Ohio, Kentucky, and Texas.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sarah Palin Explains Christmas

Glen Beck Sent Me A Christmas Card!

Bill O'Reilly Sent Me A Christmas Card!

Fox News Sent Me A Christmas Card!

The Republican National Committee Sent Me A Christmas Card!

Nixon Speaks From The Grave (And He's Still A Dick!)

The Nixon Library just released more tapes from the notorious Oval Office recording system. To no one's surprise, they reinforce the fact that Richard Nixon was a nasty racist bastard, despite his claims to the contrary. Some of Tricky Dick's pearls of wisdom:

Israeli Jews are OK, but American Jews are "aggressive and obnoxious."
"Italians don't have their heads screwed on tight."
"The Irish can't drink. They get mean. Particularly the real Irish."
Black Americans won't become valuable citizens for "another 500 years. What has to happen is they have to be, frankly, inbred."

Nixon's been dead for years. Whenever a new batch of his tapes is released, his daughters probably wish they were too.

Boehner Boo-Hoos Crocodile Tears

60 Minutes aired a bio piece on John Boehner last night. The soon-to-be Speaker of the House has a hell of a story. He grew up in a Democratic household, one of 12 kids in a 2 bedroom house. From the age of 10, he worked in his grandpa's bar sweeping and cleaning. He worked his way through college, then took a sales job with a plastics company. Eventually he rose to become president of that company. Truly admirable.

As a neo-millionaire business executive, he decided his business and personal income taxes were unfair, and so converted to the Republican Party. He took up golf and joined Cincinnati's Hyde Park Country Club, which to this day denies membership to blacks, hispanics and Jews. (Infamously, they once turned down UC god and NBA Hall Of Famer Oscar Robertson.) He moved his family to the exclusive (and lilly-white) suburb of West Chester. The community bylaws do not literally ban residence by Democrats, but they might as well. He was first elected as a State representative, then a U.S. representative, and is often reelected without opposition.

On TV last night Boehner demonstrated what a dramatically leaky faucet he can be. Whenever he feels the need to soften up his usual mean old horse's ass persona, he turns on the tears. It's remarkable, and it's bullshit. He said he can't visit elementary schools because the mere sight of little kids chokes him up. While sniffling and snotting all over Leslie Stahl, Boehner blubbered, "Making sure these kids have a shot at the American Dream like I did is important." (As if someone is holding kids back. Probably Obama.)

Oh, boo-fuckin'-hoo, John! Boehner's version of the American Dream does not include Social Security, unemployment insurance, health insurance, Medicare, safety regulations, or labor unions. I guess he believes those things interfere with the American Dream.

Reality is that today's kids have the same shot he did, maybe even better in some ways. But taking the shot and making the shot can be two different things. We can't all grow up to be wealthy business owners.

Boehner seems to have forgotten this. For the sake of money and political power, he has forgotten and forsaken his own roots. Of his 11 siblings, 2 are unemployed and the rest work in blue-collar jobs. Interesting, isn't it? How much were they helped by tax cuts for millionaires?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Good News For The Unemployed. Even Better News For Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and LeBron James

President Obama wanted an extension of emergency unemployment benefits (would increase the deficit). He also wanted to let the Bush tax cuts expire for top-bracket incomes over $250,000 (would decrease the deficit). I like his thinking on both counts. Congressional Republicans were opposed to the unemployment extension unless it was "paid for" (balanced by an equivalent spending cut). The R's were also adamant about keeping the tax cuts in place for all income levels, including gajillionaires (would increase the deficit). Typical GOP junk food.

So both sides got together, channelled Monty Hall, and chose Door Number 3, behind which Obama gave the R's two more years of their precious tax cuts for the rich, and they gave him 13 more months of unemployment benefits. But they also twisted his arm for a temporary cut in payroll (Social Security) taxes and a hefty cut to the estate tax.

The Republican hypocrisy in all this is simply stunning. The idea that the wealthy need and deserve an income tax break is indefensible. To reduce revenue in two other areas is mind boggling. Hey, R's! How is any of this "paid for"? It's not, not any of it. It increases the deficit (a lot), but the R's flat don't care. They got their tax cuts, and that's the only thing they truly care about.

New Rule: Republicans are no longer allowed to complain about the deficit. Not one word. Their credibility is less than zero. The Clinton-Era tax rates actually gave us a small budget surplus. Then Dubya's unfunded tax cuts and military adventures took us quickly in the other direction, and Republicans cheered all the while . Now the R's shake-down of Obama only takes us deeper in the hole.

Congressional Democrats are understandably pissed that Cousin Barry made a deal with Republicans on the tax issues. But it was probably the only way to get the unemployment extension. And some hard-right R's are upset about the deal's deficit implications. In the end, Democrats will almost certainly hold their noses and go along with it, and the thing will pass.

This political circus reminds Buster of three old sayings:
You can't please everyone.
A good compromise makes everyone unhappy.
When you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.

Final note -- Faithful readers will recall that Buster is in favor of letting all the Bush tax rates expire on schedule, meaning rates would rise across the board. I'm joined in this opinion by conservative Senator George Voinovich and liberal economist Paul Krugman. (And apparently no one else.) Buster, George and Paul -- talk about strange bedfellows!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

John McCain Can't Handle The Truth!

Recently, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen testified before a Senate committee and recommended that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" legislation be repealed. The pair said that a comprehensive study of the issue showed conclusively that military attitudes had changed since 1993, and a vast majority of today's servicemen and women simply don't care if some of their fellow soldiers are openly homosexual. It's simply a non-issue, no BFD. (And really, what a silly law it is. There have always been homosexuals in the armed forces, and always will be. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" doesn't prevent gays and lesbians from joining the military, nor does it attempt to remove them from current service. All it does is say please don't tell me about it.)

One Senator at this hearing had clearly not changed his attitude in the past 17 years, and for him, gays in the military was still an unholy BFD. Yep, it was the would-be President, Sen. John McCain (R, Ariz.). The "Maverick" showed his wrinkled old homophobic ass for all the world to see. McCain said all real soldiers want to keep gays out of the military. He told Gates and Mullen their study was shit, and they had no right to draw conclusions because neither was "commanding troops in the field." (Is McCain? Did he ever? As I recall, he spent the Viet Nam War at the Hanoi Hilton. Maybe his Viet Cong captors were gay Commies who constantly taunted him with their flaming Oriental fagginess. Could give a guy a bad attitude.)

McCain also predicted that Marines especially would not tolerate openly gay comrades and would quit the service and walk off the job. Jeez, I didn't know that Marines were so fragile and sensitive: "Sir, yes Sir! I will gladly wear a 100 lb. field pack. I will happily double-time it all day in the hot sun. I love to crawl through the mud on my belly. You can kick me, punch me, torture me, shoot me, but good Gawd, I ain't gonna serve with no homo! It's too scary!"

Buster is so glad that Old Straight Talk is not our President. It's bad enough he opened the Pandora's Box that is Sarah Palin, but having McCain's own bellicose rhetoric coming out of the Oval Office would be just too scary.

"Hey AEP! Cough Up The Coin!"

Both the PUCO and AEP agree: Based on their profit and loss statement (big profit, no loss), AEP overcharged us here in central Ohio by $149 million last year. If this excess profit were to be refunded, the average AEP customer would get back $102.

But AEP doesn't want to give us a refund. Instead, in their proposal to the PUCO, AEP proposes to voluntarily forego a scheduled 6% rate increase for next year. Such an increase would generate $114 million for AEP, and would add $78 to the average customer's annual bill.

So, let's review that math. AEP acknowledges overcharging us $149 million, but would like to keep $35 million of it anyway. Instead of giving me the $102 I'm owed, they want to give me $78 and tell me to be happy about it.

This sucker deal doesn't have final approval yet, but neither has the PUCO told AEP to fuck off. But I will.

"Hey, AEP! Gimme back my money, you bastards!"

Thursday, December 2, 2010

". . . And Don't Call Me Shirley."

(From the "Funny Or Die" website)

Leslie Nielsen died recently, leaving behind an endless supply of quotable lines and some of the most brilliant instances of physical comedy ever put on film. But let's the focus on the former.

The lines. Coming from a dramatic acting background, Nielsen sold every ridiculous line he delivered, simply because you knew that his character was oblivious to that ridiculousness. He believed it. So you believed it.

His performance in Airplane! reinvented the spoof genre, leading to his casting in the short-lived Police Squad!, which of course led to The Naked Gun. When people complain that the current crop of spoofs don't hold a candle to these, the explanation is simple: Because the words are not coming out of Leslie Nielsen's mouth.

Here are some of his best quotes:

From Airplane!

Ted Striker: Surely you can't be serious.
Dr. Rumack: I am serious... and don't call me Shirley.

Rumack: Captain, how soon can you land?
Captain Oveur: I can't tell.
Rumack: You can tell me. I'm a doctor.
Captain Oveur: No, I mean I'm just not sure.
Rumack: Well, can't you take a guess?
Captain Oveur: Well, not for another two hours.
Rumack: You can't take a guess for another two hours?

Rumack: What was it we had for dinner tonight?
Elaine: Well, we had a choice of steak or fish.
Rumack: Yes, yes, I remember. I had lasagna.

Rumack: You'd better tell the Captain we've got to land as soon as we can. This woman has to be gotten to a hospital.
Elaine Dickinson: A hospital? What is it?
Rumack: It's a big building with patients, but that's not important right now.

From Police Squad!

Dutch Gunderson: Who are you and how did you get in here?
Frank: I'm a locksmith. And, I'm a locksmith.

Frank: We're sorry to bother you at such a time like this, Mrs. Twice. We would have come earlier, but your husband wasn't dead then

Frank: Is there a ransom note?
Ed: Yes, the butler found it. It was tied to this window and thrown into the rock garden. I sent the note to the lab. They're demanding one million dollars.
Frank: Why would the lab demand a million dollars?

Frank: Well, you take a big chance getting up in the morning, crossing the street, or sticking your face in a fan.

From The Naked Gun movies

Frank: I'm Lt. Frank Drebin! Police Squad! And don't ever let me catch you guys in America.

Frank: Wilma, I promise you, whatever scum did this, not one man on this force will rest one minute until he's behind bars. Now, let's grab a bite to eat.

Frank: Nice beaver!

Jane: Would you like a nightcap?
Frank: No, thank you, I don't wear them.

Ed: You want to take a dinghy?
Frank: No, I took care of that at the press conference.

Frank: It's the same old story. Boy finds girl, boy loses girl, girl finds boy, boy forgets girl, boy remembers girl, girl dies in a tragic blimp accident over the Orange Bowl on New Year's Day.
Jane: Goodyear?
Frank: No, the worst.

Frank: I'd known her for years. We used to go to all the police functions together. Ah, how I loved her, but she had her music. I think she had her music. She'd hang out with the Chicago Male Chorus and Symphony. I don't recall her playing an instrument or being able to carry a tune. Yet she was on the road 300 days of the year. In fact, I bought her a harp for Christmas. She asked me what it was.

Frank: Now, Jane, what can you tell us about the man you saw last night?
Jane: He's Caucasian.
Ed: Caucasian?
Jane: Yeah, you know, a white guy. A moustache. About six-foot-three.
Frank: Awfully big moustache.

Frank: This is Frank Drebin, Police Squad. Throw down your guns, and come on out with your hands up. Or come on out, then throw down your guns, whichever way you wanna do it. Just remember the two key elements here: One, guns to be thrown down; Two, come on out!

Hapsburg: I don't recall your name on the guest list.
Frank: That's OK. I sometimes go by my maiden name.

Lt. Frank Drebin: Oh, that would be me. I've been swimming in raw sewage. I love it!

Quentin Hapsburg: Que sera sera... You do speak French, don't you?
Lt. Frank Drebin: Unfortunately no, but I do kiss that way.

Frank: Like a midget at a urinal, I was going to have to stay on my toes.

Frank: Like a blind man at an orgy, I was going to have to feel my way through.

Ed Hocken: You might end up dead!
Frank: "You might end up dead" is my middle name.
Ed Hocken: What about Jane?
Frank: I don't know her middle name.

Ed Hocken: We heard about you and Jane.
Frank: Jane, Jane. That name will always remind me of her.

Frank: That's the red-light district. I wonder why Savage is hanging around down there.
Ed: Sex, Frank?
Frank: Uh, no, not right now, Ed.

Frank: That's no way for a man to die. A parachute not opening... that's a way to die. Getting caught in the gears of a combine. Having your nuts bit off by a Laplander, that's the way I wanna go!

Jane: I've heard police work is dangerous.
Frank: It is. That's why I carry a big gun.
Jane: Aren't you afraid it might go off accidentally?
Frank: I used to have that problem.
Jane: What did you do about it?
Frank: I just think about baseball.