Random Thoughts

THE GREATER DEPRESSION CHRONICLES: A Matter of Perspective ...

Unemployed...or just doing their part to boost profits?
Unemployed...or just doing their part to boost profits?

"Job Cuts Avert Catastrophic Quarter as Profits Excel" screamed a headline I read today at the Bloomberg website. In a nutshell, because companies across the world are eliminating jobs in bucket loads, they are lowering their labor costs. That's boosting their profits. Of course, the disaster these companies have averted isn't averted at all. It becomes a blizzard of catastrophes, one for each household which loses a wage earner to job cuts. That's 5.1 million catastrophes in the United States alone since 2007.

I suppose it is a matter of perspective...one person's catastrophe is another's windfall.

Here was another great Bloomberg headline: "Smallest U.S. Wage Gain on Record Is ‘Upside for Profits." It's in the same vein...for those folks who still have jobs, wages went up at the lowest rate on record. Wages are a big part of the operating expense of any business, so keeping the lid on wages helps the bottom line.

The quick and ugly recap: Companies are beating profit expectations by beating up their employees. It's a curious act of self-cannibalism, as the very people losing their jobs or having their wages cut or frozen are the single most important piece of the modern American economy: The Consumer.

Building the Airplane ...

No...I haven't been on any sort of vacation. (The annual pilgrimage to State College not withstanding).

In what free time I've had, I've been trying to finish up the current "Act" of No Cognitive Defect. Two "Acts" have been completed so far...my introduction of some of the major characters and setting the scene was the first. Next came a trip to the past to establish some history. The current "Act" will leave most of the characters in peril while I recharge my batteries. (I don't think I'll be "recharging" for very long...I really want to keep this moving).

In the course of doing this project ...of writing the first draft of a novel online, warts and all ...I've begun to discover a bit about how my process works. Many writers work like sculptors...they throw a big mess of clay in front of them and carve away to release the sculpture that was "...already there, waiting for them."

That doesn't work for me.

I've discovered I write a novel much like I built balsa wood model airplanes when I was a kid. I lay down the underpinnings of the story much like I would lay down the bare balsa ribs of a model's wings and fuselage. When I built the airplanes, a finished frame was clearly recognizable as an aircraft ...and it was not only ugly but utterly incapable of flight. It's the same thing with No Cognitive Defect. I am laying down the framework. There are pieces that read well, and pieces that read (to me at least) as clumsy and forced.

But, again, I'm building the "airframe" of the novel. When my model airplanes had their major components framed out, it was time to cover them with tissue paper, add the cockpit detail, begin the careful process of applying layers of paint, decals, etc. From all that detail work, the airplane emerged.

THE GREATER DEPRESSION CHRONICLES: Quote of the Week (April 05-April 11, 2009)

"…He offered himself as the hostage.

That is what he would do.

It's just who he is…"

...America still has heroes.
Captain Phillips

-Gina Coggio, sister-in-law of Captain Richard Phillips of the Maersk Alabama. Phillips remains a hostage of Somali pirates as US Naval forces converge on the area. (Source: nydailynews.com)

* * *

** BREAKING NEWS** North Korea Threatens U.N. With War....

A spokesman for North Korea’s Foreign Ministry reacted with rage at the U.N. Security Council's threat to unleash multi-syllable words on his nation.

"Any use of these words against the DPRK will be considered an act of war!" exclaimed the spokesman. "We will respond in kind. We will use weapons of mass alliteration. We will lash out with onomatopoeia. We will dangle participles. No mercy will be shown to the enemies of the DPRK."

On condition of anonymity, a top U.S. general said he was "deeply alarmed."

"They're talking scorched earth here. This is serious stuff. We may have to respond to any North Korean escalation of the language war with the deadliest weapons in our arsenal," said the general. "We may have to use puns."

U.S. forces were put on their highest alert, and the sound of dictionaries being opened could be heard throughout the Yongsan Garrison in Seoul.

"I'm really nervous," said a young enlisted man. "The dangling participles...they really scare me. I only hope our puns will be enough to stop them if war breaks out."

In addition to the escalating language war, the U.N. is considering a "targeted economic boycott" designed to discomfit leader Kim Jong-il.

"No Elvis glasses will be allowed into North Korea," said a U.N. spokesman.

There was no immediate response from North Korea on the latest U.N. threat.

Banned!!!

Banned!!!


* * *

UN Security Council Pretty Darned Upset with North Korea....

UN Security Council President Claude Heller announced that an official response to North Korea's launch of a rocket this weekend will soon be forthcoming. The launch may have violated a 2006 Security Council resolution.

"Security Council Members have somewhat unanimously semi-pledged to think about very nearly criticizing North Korea for launching this rocket," said Heller. "We may actually move forward with a sharply-worded written condemnation."

He warned that multi-syllable words may be used in the response.

"Hey, we're serious," said Heller. "We're the UN. And if they keep messing with us, we might even pull out the big guns: A sternly worded condemnation."

In a related story, US Navy ships recovered the North Korean "satellite" from the Pacific Ocean Sunday evening after the payload failed to reach orbit.

"Six pots of fermented Kim Chi," said an anonymous Rear Admiral. "We're trying to determine if it was a biological weapon or merely a lunch launch."


* * *

THE GREATER DEPRESSION CHRONICLES: Quote of the Week (March 29-April 04, 2009)

"…It would be a tragedy if all of you who are so talented and energetic…if you let that go to waste, if you just stood back and watched the world pass you by. Better to jump in, get involved… and it does mean that sometimes you'll get criticized and sometimes you'll fail and sometimes you'll be disappointed… but you'll have a great adventure. And at the end of your life, hopefully you'll be able to look back and say, 'I made a difference.' "

...A positive message for youth.

President Obama speaking in Strasbourg, France, where he urged the younger generation to make the most of their opportunities. His politics and mine are poles apart, but this message to young people was spot-on. (Source: CNN.com)

* * *

Today's News ... (April 1, 2009)

The Big Stories...

by Chris F. Toock

Obama's Image on Slab of Bacon

Wyalusing, PA

Hundreds of people lined up outside a modest residence in Wyalusing, Pennsylvania on Wednesday morning for a chance to see a slab of bacon that resembles the President of the United States. Many locals say they clearly saw an image of President Obama in the pork fat.

"Spitting image," said Klem Popelky, a local butcher. "I've seen a lot of bacon in my life, but I'm telling you this pork was the spitting image of the President."

"The proof's in the pork," said a woman who lives just down the street.

The bacon was purchased by Sandra Beech at a local Wegman's. "I took it home, opened it up, and my gosh, there he was: President Obama on a big ol' slab of bacon."

Tragedy struck when Mrs. Beech had to run to the drugstore at noon. While she was gone her husband Herb, who works 3rd shift in a local printing shop, woke up from a nap and made a BLT (lightly toasted, no mayo) for his lunch.

"Herbie ate the President," Mrs. Beech sighed. She was forced to turn away dozens of disappointed folks who had waited in line for hours hoping to see the Presidential Pork.

"Somebody on Main Street has a ball of navel lint that looks like George Bush," said one of the people turned away by Mrs. Beech. "Guess we'll take a walk over there."


* * *

Man Has Near-Death Experience, Sees Afterlife

San Francisco, CA

Thanks, Mister President...

...buying my next car just got a whole lot easier, now that the Gubbermint's running GM. The President himself said, "Your warranty will be safe...In fact, it will be safer than it's ever been, because starting today, the United States government will stand behind your warranty."

I can't wait to see these Obamamobiles when they hit the market:

    Wow! New Gubbermint Cars from Obama-GM!!

  • The Katrina: An amphibious SUV powered by kitchen compost. The first dozen prototypes sank.
  • The Baconator: A $200,000 car with a pleasant pork aroma. And we can all afford one, because the payments will be spread out over the next three generations.
  • The AIG Cruiser: Critics say the engines leak oil like a frat boy peeing in your bushes after downing two dozen bottles of brewksi...but there's a $500,000 cash back bonus to sweeten the deal.

Yup. That made up my mind.

My next car's a Ford.


* * *

A Most Relaxing Saturday Morning ...

Dynamo's Relaxation Chamber...

Dynamo's Relaxation Chamber...

I've probably said this before, but my family says I remind them of Matt Roloff (from the TLC series Little People Big World). Specifically, it's Matt's habit of having about sixty plates spinning at one time, any one of which might fall and smash at any moment.

My family claims I am incapable of relaxing (nodding off exhausted in the recliner doesn't count). My head is always in about a dozen places at once.

But this past Saturday, I finally found a way to zone out and relax...guiltlessly...for an hour.

Long story short, I spent some time with my head in an MRI machine on Saturday morning. Don't get nervous...it's just that what little hearing I had left sort of up and disappeared ahead of schedule, leaving me with some sporadic vertigo. I haven't worn a hearing aid in weeks. We're just making sure nothing else is going on other than the long-expected deafness.

For some folks, an MRI is not a pleasant experience. The test itself is painless. Even if a contrast solution is injected, the "stick" is milder than a flu shot. From a comfort and side-effect angle, it's about as safe as it gets.

It's being loaded into the "torpedo tube" that bothers most folks.

I call it that because your head is put in a cage and you are fed into the maw of the machine much like a U-boat torpedo about to be fired into a cargo ship full of chicken wings. (Oh, the horror).

IT'S HERE...

...the Official Dynamo Crappy Camera Early Spring Mini-Bonanza and Fandango!!!

Spring has arrived, at least as far as the calendar goes. But is greenery returning to Northeastern Pennsylvania? The early signs say...YES!

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