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18h05 UTC; TUESDAY, 28 FEBRUARY 2012: "Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different. The only way I can describe young Anson Hunter is to approach him as if he were a foreigner and cling stubbornly to my point of view. If I accept his for a moment I am lost–I have nothing to show but a preposterous movie."

Thus does F. Scott Fitzgerald establish the milieu of his 1924 short story "The Rich Boy," about the unconscious decline and fall of a Wall Street merchant banker who was born into wealth, and thinks that "membership has its privileges," as it were--until he realises that such is not always the case.

I mention this in light of a newly-released psychological study out of the University of California at Berkley as suggests that the rich--"the 1%," as it were, behind the "Tea Party" (pseudo)movement in its several disingenuous and misleading permutations and stylees--are more likely psychologically to lie, cheat, deceive, trick or mislead on average than the general populace, and manage to get away with their acts, deeds and exploits by claiming that their station entitled them accordingly "as of natural right."

Blackcard


Proof that celebrities sometimes have no sense of humour: Teen popdisc sensation Justin Bieber has gone to court against the publishers of a smartphone app game under the name and stylee of "Jostlin' Beaver," contending that such seeks only to devalue his name and repute as a celebrity and property by reducing him to an Object of Fun. (In their defence, the game's developers have filed a countersuit against Mr. Bieber, contending that same is a parody and should be trated duly and accordingly.)

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Maybe it was time to start asking some questions of such specimens of Zealotry and True Belief among the "Tea Party" (pseudo)movement who insist that the best and only way to hasten the jobs creation agenda they won election on in Indecision 2010 lies in deregulation based on industry self-regulation according to Codes of Good Practice sponsored by industry trade groups--to wit:
  1. How many examples of viable industry-based self-regulation do you know of that have been given "safe harbour" by the Federal Trade Commission? (N.B. "Safe harbour" means that the relevant code is of such standards that government oversight and review is not warranted.)
  2. Of such self-regulatory codes as have been safe-harboured, how many such actually recognise healthy competition and innovation as essential to the success of free enterprise models such as your agenda and its articles of faith claim to defend (as opposed to such containing unconscious "outs" which turn out condoning cartel behaviour and its abuses, with harmful and injurious effects upon business as much as consumers)?
  3. How exactly are self-regulation and ekonomesie vryheid met Amerikaanse eienskappe "gebore ons die Volk, die Volk te doen" mutually interconnected (as in implying that the defence of one automatically becomes that of the other For Mutual Benefit)?
  4. In how many instances do you actually know of in which industry-sector deregulation actually translated into significant and measurable jobs-creation numbers? Of the jobs thereby created, how many could be considered unskilled or semi-skilled in nature? Was deskilling an important factor of said deregulation?
  5. What sort of checks and balances would you have in mind to protect business and consumer interests from abusive and harmful practices endemic to cartel behaviour under industry-based self-regulation through the Code of Good Practice device (including, but not limited to, anti-competitive, fraudulent, corrupt or otherwise in the vein of Fred Karno's Army)?
  6. Do you expect said Codes of Good Practice to apply in the letter as much as their spirit?
  7. How do we know said Codes won't really be PR misadventures, window-dressing disguising what turns out being little more than secretive "gentlemens' agreements" with clear and present danger to business as much as consumer interests, thereby outraging decency and common sense under the banners of "jobs creation" and "economic empowerment"?
  8. "Have you no sense of Decency, Sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of Decency?"
(You know where to leave the answers.)

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Methinks those who insist that spontaneous, unrestrained, counterproductive even, wildcat drilling of oil and/or natural gas wells in areas geologically unlikely to produce crude oil and/or natural gas will help drive gas prices down within measurable distance, excused all along as "serving the national interest," fail to recognise in their Luscious Glory of maudlin nostalgia that inflation, for one, explains why gas prices are as high as they are today; in fact, The Washington Post explained recently that 18 cents/gallon of gas back in 1921 is now equivalent in purchasing power to $3.62/gallon ... and the $1.24 which purchased a gallon of gas some 25 years ago is now worth $3.53.

Such ought also consider the importance of:
  • improvements in refining technology as made it more efficient to produce gasoline from crude oil with less waste ensuing, waste which, in an earlier time, usually became Bunker C fuel oil in the end;
  • Middle Eastern crude being preferred among refiners as being easier than domestic crude to refine into gasoline, mostly because of higher sulfur content;
  • unleaded gasoline now considered the norm, starting in the early 1970's in response to concerns about air pollution caused by exhaust from gasoline fumes; and
  • a general acceptance of energy efficiency among average Americans as took some time to seriously embrace, especially after the shocks caused by Middle East-led export embargoes in 1973 and 1979.
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Not many know this, but one important factor in fuel economy is engine cleanliness, as in the absence of deposits from critical areas of tne engine such as the fuel injector, cylinder walls, intake valves, &c., which cheap gasoline only makes worse over time ... and which can easily translate into that "Check Engine" light on the dashboard displaying rather obnoxiously when you least expect it.

But it's possible to save considerable money over time when you take common-sense precautions such as:
  • changing crankcase oil (as well as the oil filters) at recommended intervals;
  • using the exact oil viscosity recommended in the Owner's Manual; and
  • if you still insist on using regular unleaded "out of common sense" more than anything else, consider adding a decent fuel additive at every fill up to help reduce deposit buildup as affects performance. (For best results, add the fuel additive before you fill the tank with gasoline, and avoid "topping up" the tank needlessly--in other words, "letting nature take its course;" results will start to be noticed within a few days' driving.)
(And let's not forget the role of the humble tyres in maintaining fuel economy: Check air pressure and wear regularly, replace worn tyres in a timely fashion and rotate tyres at recommended intervals.)

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As you may or may not have heard, the Treasury in the United States will soon start phasing out mailing paper cheques for the payment of State benefit emouluments, in particular those from Social Security, Railroad Retirement, military and Civil Service pensions and veterans' benefits, and instead begin direct deposit into chequing or savings accounts or, for the unbankable, issuing a special debit card on which benefits would be loaded (and its access is likely to be limited).

For such in receipt of Federal benefits (and, come to think of it, pay from work) in traditional paper cheque form as may be unaware of this change, you may want to spare yourself bedlam and confusion and consider the following as a viable such for Direct Deposit rather than a "one-size-fits-all" debit card whose options may be rather limited:




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