Bye Bye Bacon
One of the best political blogs in Iowa has gone into the great beyond. “Who’s Makin’ Bacon” has kept me entertained and informed for myriad months, and I’ll miss it now that it’s gone. The blog went from zero to being one of Iowa’s staple blogs in a matter of weeks due to it’s insightful, non-partisan, clever content. I can only hope that Mr. Bacon, whomever he is, will come back in a different guise some day. With sadness I take Bacon off my blog roll…
Is the phrase “common sense” now oxymoronic? I wonder… It’s common sense that with his poll numbers in the low 30’s, United States President George W. Bush would keep a low profile, check in with the common “man on the street,” do something concrete about the looming energy crisis, and in general try to comfort the citizens of this fair nation. That would be sensible. But from past performance, I predict that Mr. Bush will instead find some poor nation (most likely one that rhymes with “Iran”) to pick on and will try to fan the flames of “patriotism” to get U.S. citizens to rally around him and chant his name.
I put the word patriotism in quotes in that last sentence as Mr. Bush has a different definition of the word than I. To Mr. Bush, a patriot is someone who blindly follows Mr. Bush. To me a patriot is someone who will do whatever it takes to protect this country – including disagreeing with our government and Mr. Bush. There’s an excellent discussion of patriotism that took place a few weeks ago here. Be sure to read the comments – that’s where the good stuff is.
I once played with a guitarist who played louder when he didn’t know the song. I never figured out why… Mr. Bush is a lot like that – the more unsure he is, the louder he gets.
With gas prices nearing three bucks a gallon (and over in some places), people are now loudly wondering what to do. I have a few simple ideas…
1. Ban the manufacture and import of SUV’s and large trucks. “Oh, I need an SUV to carry my kids around.” Bullpucky. The world did just fine in the world before minivans and SUV’s. We carried our kids around in (gasp) regular automobiles. It worked just fine. Trust me. If you need a large truck because you’re a contractor or a farmer, fine – get special permission from the government to own it, and pay the special “big truck tax.” Anything over 4,000 pounds is considered a commercial vehicle and is taxed accordingly.
2. Ban the import and manufacture of cars with regular gasoline engines. All vehicles shall be E85 capable hybrids. (E85 is 85% ethanol and 15% regular old gasoline.) Heck, I’d even ride an electric motorcycle if it looked cool enough. I’d miss the “vroom vroom” noise, though…
3. We need to make alternative energy affordable. One way to do this is easy enough… Personal windmills. They have these in England, and they really work. You put a small windmill on your house, and it supplies a pretty heft majority of the electricity you need for day-to-day living. Why don’t we have them here? Why are people still dying in mine accidents to supply us with coal to make electricity with when the wind is blowing right past us every day? It is my unproven belief that the energy companies are suppressing the technology. I read about one man who had a windmill installed – it cost him $40,000 – only to find that the energy company wouldn’t let him use it. The energy cartel was worried that the man would dump the excess electricity he generated and didn’t use back into the energy grid, thus earning a refund from the electricity company. In England they’ve made the units much smaller, and the energy companies are embracing the technology. How does this help with the price of gas? Simple – we now all have hybrid cars, remember? Plug your car into your windmill and charge it up. The government NEEDS to push this sort of thing – instead of giving tax breaks to the oil companies, give tax breaks to people who install wind and solar devices, and give more government funding to companies that develop such technology. Perhaps it could even be mandated that every government building get retrofitted with such technology to prove its feasibility.
4. Anyone remember riding a bicycle? Maybe instead of the government giving each citizen a hundred bucks as a bribe to forgive congress (which is what leading republican Bill Frist wants to do – it’s a buyoff, pure and simple) they should give each citizen a bicycle. “Here’s a hundred dollar voucher that can only be redeemed at the bicycle shop, please don’t drive your car quite as much” makes a lot more sense to me than “here’s a hundred dollars, please forgive us for being inept politicians.”
5. How about finding alternative fuels for semis and airplanes?
6. Your teenager needs a summer job? Have him build himself a rickshaw and send him downtown…
We have to remember, folks, that the high price of gasoline is simply due to the high price of oil. We have to remember that we use oil for things other than gasoline. Things like plastics and heating. Heating. I’ll say it again – heating. This winter is going to be harder than last winter.
Something to think about: When President Bill Clinton took office, gas cost around $1.10 a gallon. When he left office, gas was somewhere near $1.25. In his eight years in office, gas went up fifteen cents. Mr. Bush took over when gas was $1.25, and only six years later the price is nearing $3.00 a gallon. Mr. Bush is proud of his “Texas Oilman” persona. I’m sure that he’s equally proud that his oilman friends are getting hundreds of millions of dollars in their retirement packages.
I’ve been having strange dreams lately. I went through a period a few years ago where in my dreams people kept cutting my fingers off. (I make a living typing and playing bass, so my fingers are important to me. Especially my nose-itching finger.) Those dreams went away, though… Now I’m dreaming a lot of my grandparents, who are all deceased. I cry a lot in my dreams. I’m often up to my waist in water, and I’m usually running. I’m never running away from anything, particularly, but rather I’m generally running to my wife.
Show Me the Money
Every now and then someone will say, “You should write a book.” I agree. I really want to write a book. I’d love to get paid for my writing, or my photography, or my bass playing… I just don’t know how to go about doing it.
People tell me to start with the underground newspapers. Hmmm… I’ve written enough stuff in the local “independent” newspapers for free, I don’t really want to go there again. It always starts out innocently… “Hey, do you want to write a piece about the local music scene for our paper?” Sure, I’ll do that. No problem. The next week, “Hey, do you want to write something about your cat this week? We really liked your last article…” Sure, okay. The problem is that after the second free article, I’m considered “a writer,” and I’m expected to go to meetings and make deadlines and take assignments. But I never get paid. Sure, it’s nice to get published, but after a while a few bucks would be nice…
A few days ago I was working on a poster for a local photographer who’s targeting musicians. It’s a nice colorful poster, touting the virtues of a band being photographed, videotaped, etc. and what good it can do for a band’s image. At the bottom of the poster there’s a montage of photos of bands that the guy’s taken in the past. When he looked at the proof I sent him, he e-mailed me back. “Hmmm…” he said. “I kinda need to get a picture of a white female singer.” I e-mailed him back and said, “You should go to the Chesterfield on Wednesday nights for their jam session – they have a wide variety of artists you can take pictures of to use on your poster.” I attached a photo I’d taken the previous week that happened to be sitting on my desktop. “Look at the photo I took, for example,” I continued. “You can see that you can get real close to the subject, and the lighting’s good. I recommend you go there and take a few pictures next week for your poster.”
I was a little surprised at his next e-mail. “I really like that picture you took,” he said. “We’ll put that in the bottom left corner of my poster.”
Well, I’m pleased that a professional photographer liked my work well enough to use my image instead of his own on a poster that promotes HIS photography, but I was rather disappointed that he didn’t offer to buy the image for a few bucks. The general public may not realize it, but photographers do charge for their work – often several hundred dollars for a good image coupled with the subject’s legal permission to use the photo. If I needed a photo for a brochure I’m designing, or whatever, I would never dream of asking a photographer to go out and take a professional photo for me for free – that’s their lifeblood, their income. But I guess my stuff’s different. I even got the subject of the photo to give the photographer permission to use the picture. For free.
Am I being greedy? I’m simply thinking maybe it’s time for me to get a little money for this stuff. I want to write for money. I just don’t know how… (Anyone out there need a freelance writer who’s also a graphic designer, amateur photographer, and half-baked bass player? I live in Iowa – my overhead’s cheap…) I’m growing weary of punching a timeclock.
I’m breaking a self-imposed ban today. I have not spent one thin dime in South Dakota since they passed that law banning abortions in the state. (I think that abortion is something that should not be taken lightly. However, I do not think that the state should legislate morality.) My wife and I, however, are on our way out the door in just a minute to go to a performance of A Prairie Home Companion at Vermillion, SD. I promise that after today I shall continue with my economic boycott of the state of South Dakota. (It’s not as easy as you’d think; we live just a few miles from the border. Sioux City is in Iowa, South Sioux City is in Nebraska, and North Sioux City is in South Dakota.)