Ramblings and Revolutions

I think, therefore I'm dangerous.

Getting Closer…

We’re counting down….

… Christmas is now ONE week away …

… panic shopping is SIX days away …

 

A Troubling Development

“Our response to terrorism should be carefully measured. If our First Amendment rights suffer as a result of the awful domestic terrorist attack … the terrorists have indeed, won.”

Those words were part of an editorial in my local newspaper, the Ocala Star-Banner in 1995, in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing. Wise words, indeed. If we surrender, sacrificing our freedoms without a fight, the terrorists don’t have to do a thing.

Although not nearly on the same scale, today’s decision by Sony and major theater chains not to widely release the film “The Interview” following a series of threats also threatens our First Amendment rights.

You’ve no doubt heard about the movie, which reportedly depicts the fictional assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.  Oh, and by the way, it’s supposed to be a comedy.

I’ll defer to others on the possible artistic merit of the film. But I’m appalled that Sony and the nation’s largest theater operators gave in to threats and elected not to proceed with a wide release.

Yes, the Sony hack has been catastrophic for the company. Yes, the remarks made in the past week about the movie’s planned Christmas Day launch rose to the level of terroristic threats.  Why take the risk that the people making those threats — whether they’re from North Korea, Al Qaeda, or any other such group — might escalate from rhetoric to action?

Because we’re giving up part of our American freedom if we don’t take that risk. What happens the next time someone doesn’t want a movie released? Or a television program shown? Or a book printed?

Extremists the world over envy and fear our free press. They believe some ideas are too dangerous for public consumption. If we as a nation bow to their pressure, we run the risk of agreeing with them by default.

Where do we draw the line in the sand? At what point do we say to the world “Enough. You might not approve, but this is OUR country, and we elect to allow this work to be produced and distributed”?

And of course, there’s no guarantee anyone making the threats won’t act on them, even if we comply.

Cowardice in the face of a threat does not gain respect. — only  contempt.

A Blast From The Past

As a writer, every once in a while, I come across something so well-written, so perfect, that it makes me say “Wow, I wish I’d written that.”

On somewhat rarer occasions, I come across something that makes me say “I might as well hang it up. I’ll never write something that well.”

This is one of those.

Turn Your Hymnals to 2002

It’s a car review from 1968 by the inestimable David E. Davis, Jr., the late dean of U.S. automotive journalism.  This is THE review that put BMW on the map in the United States.  It also got Davis fired from Car and Driver for his remarks about the Blaupunkt radio.

Enjoy!

 

The Countdown Is On…

… as of today, Christmas is only two weeks away…

Notes From The Road

Last week’s road trip was a great adventure.  My lovely bride and I drove from our Florida home to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to visit family. We had a great time, and as all visits seem to be, this one was too short.  And like all good road trips should, this one contained several valuable discoveries along the way.

Some lessons learned:

1.  A road trip is a great way to learn the quirks and foibles of a new (or new-to-you) car.  In 26 hours on the road each way, you learn very quickly where the switches are, how the car handles, what its little annoyances are.

2.  Just like a cowboy’s faithful  horse, a GOOD car becomes a trusted companion on such a trip.

3.  Heated seats might not be necessary in Florida, but they sure come in handy when you get north of Chicago. Ditto heated windshield washers.

4.  Ditto all-wheel-drive.

5.  Yes, it IS possible to get so tired of that “all Christmas music, all the time” radio station that you’d rather be forced to listen to a karaoke rendition of  the entire Taylor Swift catalog — twice — than hear “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” one more time. Then again, that’s pretty much how I feel about “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” anyway.

6.  When you’ve lived in Florida for two decades, 43 degrees is cold.  When the temp drops to 36 degrees by the next gas stop, you’re freezing your buns off (see #3). On the bright side, once you’ve experienced 35 degrees colder than that (see #7), that same temperature will seem positively balmy on the way back.

7.  When you reach your destination and the outside temp is one degree above zero, your friends in Florida WILL laugh at you, but you’ll be too busy shivering to care.  Forget Elsa — the cold bothers me, OK?

8.  Snow? That white stuff? Oh yeah, I forgot about that.  A few inches of it needing to be shoveled is a great reminder of why we live in Florida. But it certainly is beautiful.

9, Occasional detours off the route can be fun.  Saturday night on Broadway in Nashville is a great place to be,  And Bubba’s Pub in downtown Seymour, Indiana has delicious clam strips and a great old-school bar atmosphere.  Mostly because it’s an old-school bar.

10.  When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, even if it’s a couple of days behind schedule, there’s nothing better than sharing it with friends and loved ones.

 

Surly, You Jest

Welcome back! it’s been a few days since my last post, a little vacation to escape the stresses of ye olde day job.

I traveled to a different region of the country for a week, and learned a few things in the process (more on those as this week goes on).

Today’s rant is about the difference between service providers here in the sunny South and what we in Florida call “Up North.”  Seems to me that I’ve discovered a significant difference between here and the frozen tundra of the upper Midwest.

In the small town I visited there seemed to be a certain air of, for lack of a better term, polite incompetence.

The cashier at the drive-through window gets your order wrong. They apologize for it, yet it’s still wrong. The little coffee shop needs 10 minutes — with no one else in front of you in line — to prepare two coffee drinks. The folks behind the counter are quite nice about it, but it still takes 10 minutes to get a simple order.

Granted, a general cheerfulness seems endemic to the area. And it’s certainly not to say that every transaction is like that. There was plenty of cheerful competence to be had as well.

But when it comes to incompetence, I’m just more accustomed to the surly style of folks who don’t care about their jobs. These cheerful folks really were doing their best. And they maintained their sunny disposition in sub-freezing weather.

So bravo to the folks who are trying, even if they don’t always succeed. And remember, practice makes perfect.

And for the surly folks, remember too that being pleasant is a lot less likely to get you yelled at by disgruntled customers.

And of course, cheerful competence is best of all…

 

‘Tis The Season for Good Eating

Today was the annual Thanksgiving potluck here at Rambs and Revs HQ.

And now the turkey’s not the only thing that’s stuffed….

Thanksgiving Typing Test

Now is the time for all good turkeys…

…. to run for their lives…

Price vs. Value

As we gear up for next week’s Great Shopping Extravaganza (a/k/a The Holiday Formerly Known As Thanksgiving), lots of folks are getting excited about the so-called Black Friday sales. The opportunity to buy stuff at low prices is so tempting that some folks have already started camping out in front of major retailers in order to be the first in line when the doors open.

It’s all in pursuit of more stuff. We all want more stuff. Yay for stuff! Let’s camp out at MegaElectronicsStore for a week to get more STUFF! Let’s get the latest and greatest, cheap!

There’s only one catch — with very, very few exceptions, good stuff isn’t cheap. And cheap stuff isn’t good. A corollary to that is the fact that “the good stuff” — the REALLY good stuff — doesn’t go on sale.

Don’t believe me? Go compare the 90-inch flat-screen TV that will be on sale on Black Friday for $12.98 to the 50-inch top name brand that sells for $2,000 all year round. See which one has the better picture.

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett once said “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” How about we focus more on value than price? How about owning LESS stuff, but higher quality? The good stuff, if you will.

You’ll know the good stuff when you find it.  The good stuff just looks, sounds and FEELS right, whether it’s a chef’s knife, a TV, a table saw or even a ballpoint pen.

Important note — the good stuff isn’t automatically more expensive.  It CAN be, but it isn’t always. Even at the level of the $12.98 TV, there are manufacturers that take more pride in their products, that go that little extra step. You’ll see.

Even more important note — Remember, the most important things in life — aren’t things. You can always get a TV. You can’t always spend time with people you love on Thanksgiving. Time is the most precious good stuff of all.

And it’s never on sale.

 

Random Thought

Seems to me the “Real Housewives,” no matter what city they’re from, are neither real nor housewives.

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