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Negroes, the census, and the offended

It appears like certain people have their panties in a wad because the census is asking people their race, and one of the choices is “Black/African American/Negro.”

“The fact that it’s 2010 and they’re still putting ‘negro,’ I am a little offended,” said Secaucus resident Dawud Ingram.

Question #9 on the this year’s census asks about your race. One of the boxes you can choose is “black,” “African American,” or “negro,” all placed next to the same box. Ingram said it’s not a word he uses to identify neither himself nor anybody else.

“African Americans haven’t been going by the term ‘negro’ for decades now. It’s really confusing,” he said.

I bet the United Negro College Fund would be surprised to hear that. Of course, we could follow the example of rappers, and change the question to reflect today’s vernacular. What they call each other would get me labeled a racist, however, and would certainly result in howls of indignation.

I think the real issue here is that no matter how the issue is dealt with, even if race is ignored, someone, somewhere will find a reason to be offended. As I have noted in the past, “those who look for a reason to be offended will have no trouble finding one.”

Now if you will excuse me, I think I will grab my reading glasses and try to find the clause in the Constitution that protects your right to not be offended.

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Car dealers/ rip off artists

Linoge posts a story about the way dealers sell cars, and it reminds me…

About 7 years ago, I bought a Nissan truck from Universal Nissan in Orlando. After the deal was done, imagine my surprise that they tacked on a $400 “dealer prep” fee. I objected, and they told me that “everyone pays this. I work here, and even I have to pay this.”

I told him, “That’s your problem. I am not paying this.”

He got the manager, and the manager asked me if I was the sort of man who would let $400 ruin a good deal. I responded, “No, you are. We negotiated a price, and slapping extra charges on there after we agreed on a price is dishonest.”

He responded by telling me that the reason the fee is preprinted on the forms is that everyone must pay them, because this is what paid the dealer to get the car ready for sale, you know, inspecting, washing, etcetera. I told the manager that as far as I was concerned, that was a part of the cost of doing business, and that those costs should be factored into the deal.

We finally came to an agreement whereupon I agreed to pay the fee in exchange for them taking another $600 off of the price of the vehicle. Even though I paid $200 less this way than if they had just waived the fee, I just know that I somehow got screwed on the deal.

Everything that car dealers do is shady and dishonest, from sign and drive scams, to $200 floor mats, to the hidden fees and charges- all car dealers want to do is rip you off. Even the so-called “no haggle” dealers do it- just in their case, the deal is “take it or leave it.” Universal Nissan is not unique- nearly every dealer does this.

I, for one, am not sorry to see them in financial trouble. Why can’t people just do honest business at an honest price?

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Recovery? What recovery?

The Wall Street Journal reports that bankruptcy filings are up 32% from 2008.

Mr. Mann (a law Professor at Columbia University) said he believes bankruptcies reached their peak sometime last year, but bankruptcy attorneys from across the country said there was no sign that business was slowing. The 113,274 filings in December alone were a third higher than the same month a year earlier.

As I reported before, we have been hearing that we are in a recovery phase for over a year now, but the news just keeps getting worse. The unemployment figures for December will be released this friday, I believe. Will those figures show an increase in the ranks of the nearly 15.5 million unemployed?

My favorite attempt at spin is this story. The math is intended to confuse you, so let me see if we can work it out:

Retail sales rose 3.6% from Nov. 1 through Dec. 24, compared with a 2.3% drop in the same period a year ago, according to figures from SpendingPulse, which tracks all forms of payments, including cash. Adjusting for an extra shopping day between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the number was closer to a 1% gain. Last year, the economy was in “critical condition,” said Michael Macnamara, vice president at MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse. “This year, it’s in stable condition.”

So lets start by setting sales in the Christmas season of 2007 as “normal,” or $1000. Now 2009 saw a 2.3% drop, meaning sales dropped during that period to $977. Now adjusting sales figures to account for the fact that the 2009 season has one fewer shopping day increases our sales by 1% to 987. That figure is still 1.3% lower that 2007. In fact, if those figures are adjusted for the inflation we saw in 2008, the sales figure would be closer to $946.

In other words, the increase in sales over the normal of two years ago is less than the rate of inflation. Sales figures for this Christmas season are more than 5% lower than pre-financial crisis levels. I am tired of being told that things are better, I am tired of being lied to. When all of this started, I listened to the talking heads who told me to keep my money invested where it was and take the “long view.” They said the smart thing to do was wait it out, and that we would improve.

I lost over half of my life savings. My home value dropped to less than half of what I owed on it. My mother has had to come out of retirement, as the nest egg she built with my late father becomes depleted. I am sitting on my money. I am buying the one thing that has not lost real buying power- gold and silver. I am getting rid of this boat anchor of a house. I will buy another at half price, and hope for the best.

Above all, I am no longer listening to the supposed experts that got us all into this mess in the first place.

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Ayn Rand

I am in an Ayn Rand state of mind today, so I will share a few of my favorite quotes:

Do not ever say that the desire to “do good” by force is a good motive. Neither power-lust nor stupidity are good motives.

Government “help” to business is just as disastrous as government persecution… the only way a government can be of service to national prosperity is by keeping its hands off.

Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and the smallest minority on earth is the individual).

Evil requires the sanction of the victim.

It only stands to reason that where there’s sacrifice, there’s someone collecting the sacrificial offerings. Where there’s service, there is someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice is speaking of slaves and masters, and intends to be the master.

The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.

The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.

Potentially, a government is the most dangerous threat to man’s rights: it holds a legal monopoly on the use of physical force against legally disarmed victims.

There can be no such thing, in law or in morality, as actions to an individual, but permitted to a mob.

We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force.

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Alcohol

News from Sturgis that a woman was seen at a hospital there with a BAC of 708. Checks with local and state labs where blood-alcohol levels are tested suggest Engle’s reading may be the highest ever recorded in South Dakota.

LD 50 is the level at which 50% of people will die. LD50 for EtOH (alcohol) is 400.

My personal record is transporting a patient with a BAC of 568. He walked to the stretcher. Some of the homeless in my area habitually have a BAC near 300, and will begin to have withdrawals of they drop below 150 or so.

In 2008, 60 percent of all fatal car crashes were caused by intoxicated drivers– 26,000 of them. 85,000 people die each year due to alcohol, whether that be DUI crashes, or health problems caused by extreme intoxication.

Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve. I will be at work, and it is one of the busiest days of the year for EMS workers. Please get a designated driver. It is a rare New Year’s eve when I don’t work a fatal crash. I don’t want to have to tell anyone that there was nothing else I could do to save their loved one.

I would also point out that either guns (excluding suicide) or marijuana kill far fewer people than alcohol.

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Mr Clean vomit

If you drink a bottle of lemon scented Mr Clean at 3 in the a.m. and then wake up your parents to tell them you did it, you really aren’t trying to kill yourself, you are just being a drama Queen: but at least you have the best smelling vomit ever. Just sayin’.

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Does this mean that I won’t get my money?

I think this guy is the one who said he was going to wire $40 million to my bank account. Now that he is in jail, I guess the deal is off…

Abdulmutallab’s father, Umaru, is the former economics minister of Nigeria. He retired earlier this month as the chairman of the First Bank of Nigeria but is still on the boards of several of Nigeria’s biggest firms, including Jaiz International, a holding company for the Islamic Bank

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How Kings are selected

This has got to be one of the funniest Monty Python bits ever.

“You can’t expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you. If I went around proclaiming myself emperor just because some moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me, they’d put me away.”

“Now we see the violence inherent in the system. Come & see the violence inherent in the system. Help help I’m being repressed !”

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How to tell when you are a “gun” family

For Christmas, I got a dehumidifier and a pistol rack for my gun safe, my wife got a set of fiber optic tritium sights for her Glock 19, my Mom got a new revolver, and my Son (among other things) got a copy of Monster Hunters International.

Yesterday was a quiet day at work for the most part. The only calls we ran were for drunk bums and a not serious suicide attempt. (Superficial wrist scratches)

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Controversial, unpopular legislation and its results

A strong majority leader in the Senate manages to cut deals in the Democrat controlled body and gets unpopular legislation passed. The new law overturns 34 years of legislative precedent, and changes the face of the United States for the rest of history. That Senator goes on to win reelection against his Republican opponent, and then wins the Democrat nomination for President 6 years later. He loses the Presidential election to the same Republican opponent that he defeated in the polls just two years earlier.

Am I talking about Reid and the Healthcare reform bill? No, I am talking about the Senate Majority leader in 1854, Stephen Douglas. His Republican challenger is none other that the first REpublican President, Abraham Lincoln. The unpopular law that was passed was the The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which overturned the Missouri compromise, and set the stage for the civil war and essentially created the anti-slavery Republican party that was to oppose the pro-slavery Democratic party.

The parallels are obvious. Asking that one man spend a portion of his life carrying out labor to the benefit of another amounts to involuntary servitude, slavery, if you will. I sit here wondering if we have not set the stage for the Second American Civil War. If that is so, it is my fervent hope that the second one will be less bloody than the first, and (to borrow a phrase) that government: of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Alas, I fear it already has.