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CWAA: Can We All Agree – 1/30/16 edition

January 30, 2016

Can we all agree that Angelique Kerber’s win over Serena Williams at the Australian open will give hope to underdogs everywhere?

Serena Williams (left) and Angelique Kerber, winner of the Australian Open -Getty Images photo

Serena Williams (left) and Angelique Kerber, winner of the Australian Open -Getty Images photo

Can we all agree that Hillary’s email issues will continue to hurt her campaign, but will probably not derail it? And, by the way, why doesn’t anyone remember the emails that disappeared from George W. Bush’s private email server?

Can we all agree that Donald Trump won his battle this week with Fox News? Ratings were down and all anyone talked about was the fact that he was not at the debate.

Can we all agree, speaking of the GOP debate, Ted Cruz seemed to be the biggest loser?

Can we all agree that Facebook should be applauded for finally taking a stand against gun sales on its websites?

Can we all agree that the overall economy’s anemic growth in the last quarter seems to fly in the face of what’s happening in some parts of the country?

Can we all agree that while the death of one protestor in Oregon is tragic, the government seems to have defused the situation successfully?

Can we all agree the zika virus outbreaks are terrifying for pregnant women or anyone thinking of having a baby? This probably adds to their anxiety and depression.

Can we all agree that the indictment of the anti-abortion filmmakers, especially by a Texas grand jury, is unbelievably great news? Too bad the GOP and other so called ‘pro-lifers’ will not let the facts get in the way of continued use of the discredited videos.

Can we all agree that while it might be the politically correct thing to do, Barbie is no longer ‘Barbie’ is there are 8 different versions?

Can we all agree that, given the controversies during Michael Jackson’s life, it seems only natural that his racial ambiguity would continue to cause issues after his death?

Can we all agree that if it takes you 16 hours to figure out that 3 men in your custody have escaped, you have a problem?

Can we all agree that while the NFL has been slow to wake up to the long term impact of concussions, the NCAA remains tragically far behind?

Can we all agree that Florida State University is continuing to put its football program ahead of the rights of women?imrs.php

Can we all agree, getting back to politics, that when Republican voters see Trump as the most electable candidate but world leaders see him (and Ted Cruz) as impossible to work with, we have a serious problem?

Can we all agree that the President’s step to normalize relations with Cuba have reached the point that they cannot be undone by the next president?

Can we all agree, that while it may seem unfair that no actors of color were nominated for Academy Awards this year, asking the voters to choose performances based on racial equality would be just as bad?

Can we all agree that completing 7 marathons, on 7 continents in 7 days is simply unbelievable? How do you train for that?

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CWAA: A Tipping point

January 25, 2016

I recently had lunch at a small hometown restaurant. They served various vegan alternatives, grass fed beef, and all organic vegetables.

But the menu is not the point. When the check arrived I noticed there was no spot for a tip but that an 18% service charge had been added.Unknown

As a San Francisco resident I’m aware of the national debate over tipping in restaurants.

In an effort to equalize pay between front of the house waitstaff, and back of the house cooks and other employees, many  larger restaurants are experimenting with eliminating tips.

This was the first time I had seen it in practice at a smaller business.

In my younger days I spent many hours working as a cook, dishwasher and  bus boy and am painfully aware of the disparity in pay. While the waitstaff is the face of the restaurant, they are dependent on the kitchen for the quality of the meal, the dishwasher to make sure everything is cleaned and the busboys to ensure table turnover.

The dining experience is a combination of everything, so why should the waitstaff be the only folks to benefit.

Minimum wage laws have tried to bridge the gap and have led to the latest version of experimentation.

So, when the waitress returned to collect my payment I couldn’t help but do  little market research.

“How long have you been a no-tip restaurant?” I asked.

“Two or three months,”  she said. “And?” I asked waiting for a diatribe on how much less she was making and how she hated the new system.

She surprised me with “I love it,” and went to explain that every week they get a full financial statement from the owners, explaining gross receipts, tax and expenses and an explanation of what they were receiving as pay.

“My pay is much more predictable, and while it’s a bit less than I made before the switch, as long as business overall is good, we do fine.” She said the most of the other staffers felt the same way and that she thought the kitchen staff was much easier to deal with, now that they had a direct impact on their own pay.

She then added that the most important factor was the openness of the owners to list the overall gross receipts and expenses and explain how the pay was calculated. “I can see how that might be a problem at other locations, but here they are very open, and we all know what’s going on.”

I wish the results at other restaurants had been as clear cut. And, from a management standpoint I doubt every owner would be able to be that open. But this was a small business with a stake in the community and their philosophy seemed to fit the spirit of the no-tip effort.

Can we all agree that all restaurants should adopt this system.

American restaurants should take a page from their European counterparts and professionalize every aspect of the dining experience. We would no longer have to agonize over what tip amount was correct and the the overall restaurant experience would be enhanced.

If everyone from dishwasher to executive chef knew that their pay was contingent on keeping the customers happy and ensuring a return visit we’d all be a lot better off.

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CWAA: Can We All Agree – 1/23/16 edition

January 23, 2016

Filed under: Can we all agree — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — admin @ 8:00 am

Can we all agree that Sarah Palin’s injection into the GOP presidential race, raises the absurdity quotient to unimaginable heights? The happiest folks are the late night talk show hosts and comedians worldwide.

NYDN front page

NYDN front page

Can we all agree that until Ms Palin’s speech, Mr. Trump’s performance at Liberty University was the week’s biggest head-scratcher, narrowly edging out the British parliament’s debate over banning Trump?

Can we all agree that her endorsement speech might be the the most illogical batch of nonsense ever uttered during a political campaign – at least until she gives her next speech?

Can we all agree that Michael Bloomberg’s reported interest in running for president as an independent, throws a monkey wrench into everything? Wait, isn’t this the year of the monkey coming up?

Can we all agree there is enough blame for everyone in the Flint water crises but the Michigan governor and the EPA deserve special mention?

Can we all agree that the Academy of Motion Pictures had to do something about their overwhelmingly older white male voting base?

Can we all agree that after three weeks of rain,  it’s nice to know we might be making a dent in the California drought?

Can we all agree that no-one is surprised that Mr. Putin may have known about the poisoning of a former agent who had defected to England? The number of political adversaries who have mysteriously disappeared makes his tactics pretty obvious.

Can we all agree that if scientists confirm the existence of a new planet the name has to begin with a “P” so we can get back to the old sentence we all learned, to remember the names of the celestial bodies circling our sun?

Can we all agree that it will probably be just about a year before we have a new winner in the ‘hottest year’ competition?

Can we all agree that the Supreme Court’s decision to take up the challenge to the President’s immigration plan, insures that the topic will be front and center right through the November election?12573912_1057866744235548_6504267830214865117_n

Can we all agree that we have lost another major talent with the death of Glenn Frey?

Can we all agree that last week’s Democratic debate may have been a Sanders victory, but most non-GOP voters are interested in backing someone who might actually win?

Can we all agree that Delaware North Corporation deserves all the scorn they are getting for demanding $51 million for the naming right to the Ahwahnee Lodge and other landmarks in Yosemite National Park?

Can we all agree that it will be a welcome day when media outlets can stop proclaiming he ‘first women’ being elected to lead a country? Taiwan elected a woman and the sky did not fall, the next day.

Can we all agree that the lifting of the sanctions against Iran and allowing that nation to participate in world politics will help ease world tensions in the long run?

Can we all agree, speaking of planets, it’s probably worth an early morning walk to see the five planets that all be visible from earth (below) simultaneously?

 

Where to look for planets about an hour before sunrise.

Where to look for planets about an hour before sunrise.

 

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CWAA: Can We All Agree – 1/16/15 edition

January 16, 2016

Filed under: Can we all agree — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — admin @ 8:13 am

Can we all agree that when the President proposes $4 billion for research on self driving cars,  we’ll start seeing them around town pretty soon, just like the early days of the hybrid cars?

Can we all agree that even if you were not fan, you are mourning the passing of David Bowie?

David Bowie  from Jethrotull.com images

David Bowie from Jethrotull.com images

Can we all agree that the Delaware North Company should be embarrassed for seeking $41 million for the names in Yosemite National Park? It will be a long time before anyone out west calls the Awahnee Hotel anything but the Awahnee.

Can we all agree that the Planned Parenthood suit against the anti-abortion group which secretly filmed conversations with executives, will make sure the abortion issue remains on the front burner right through the November elections?

Can we all agree the public image of the men taking over that wildlife refuge in Oregon took another hit today?

Can we all agree that declining to issue new coal leases for mining on public land will  be another blow to the coal industry already reeling from years of mismanagement and pollution?

Can we all agree that Thursday night’s GOP debate had some clear winners and losers?

Can we all agree that despite their best efforts the GOP establishment has not done much to dampen enthusiasm for either Mr. Trump or Mr. Cruz? Each man will probably notch a win in the the two early states.

Can we all agree that the so-called political experts don’t have a clue what will happen this year?

Can we all agree that even if Hillary loses in Iowa and New Hampshire, big wins across the South could propel her to the Democratic nomination?

Can we all agree that Sunday night’s Democratic debate could be critical for her?

Can we all agree that no matter how many stories pointing out how futile it is to buy a Powerball lottery ticket, one chance in 292,000,000 is better than no chance in 292,000,000?

Can we all agree that President Obama gave one superb speech in his final State of the Union?

Can we all agree that the President’s comments on gerrymandering of electoral districts is supported by every voter but opposed by every legislator with a ‘safe seat.’

Can we all agree that there is virtually no chance anything he wants will get passed in the next 10 months?

Gov, Nikki Haley of South Carolina

Gov, Nikki Haley of South Carolina

Can we all agree that Governor Nikki Haley does not deserve the vitriol she has been subjected to, for speaking the truth in her GOP response?

Can we all agree it will be great to have football back In Los Angeles? The question now is does it force teams in San Diego and Oakland, to stay put – as they should?

Can we all agree that the quick release of 10 US sailors who strayed into Iranian waters is a symbol of how our relations with that nation have improved? Another sign is the apparent release of 4 Iranian-American prisoners.

Can we all agree that Ricky Gervais has overstayed his welcome as host of the Golden Globe Awards?

Can we all agree that thanks to DVD’s and online movie streaming we at lease have a good shot at seeing all the 2015 Oscar nominated movies before the end of 2016?

Can we all agree that Sean Penn’s interview with a wanted drug kingpin stretched the bounds of acceptable journalism? Even Mr. Penn admits he did not achieve his goal.

and finally:

Can we all agree that we are all thrilled to know the exact spot where 18 alleged witches were hung in 1692?

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CWAA: Can We All Agree – 1/9/16 edition

January 9, 2016

Can we all agree that the closer we get to actual voting the crazier the race for President gets?

For example:

Can we all agree that the ‘progressive’ media is just a bit too giddy that Ted Cruz has the same ‘birther’ problem that has haunted President Obama for 8 years?

Can we all agree that there has been way too much talk about Marco Rubio’s boots?

Can we all agree that despite what The Donald says, the amount of voter fraud in this country is minuscule?

Bill Clinton returns to the campaign trail

Bill Clinton returns to the campaign trail

Can we all agree that it is great to see former President Clinton back on the campaign trail explaining what’s really going on?

Can we all agree that Donald Trump’s attempts to attack Clinton over his past indiscretions will have no impact?

Can we all agree that the blizzard of GOP attack ads is hurting all the mainstream candidates?

But, enough politics:

Can we all agree that the self-styled militia that has taken over the small wildlife preserve in Oregon has virtually no support anywhere?

Can we all agree that the most vehement opponents are birders who point out the importance of the refuge to wild bird migration? If anyone has the patience to outlast the militia it’s birders.

Can we all agree that Mr. Obama has done a masterful job putting the NRA on the defensive over a relatively small change in gun registration regulations?

Can we all agree the last thing we needed in the Mideast was a increase in tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia?

Can we all agree that the President’s decision to roundup and deport hundreds of Central American women and children is a tragic betrayal of  one of the founding principles of this country? We can all agree that Donald Trump bears some of the responsibility.

Can we all agree that the addition of another 270,000 jobs signals continued strength in the economy despite what you might have heard from the GOP?

Can we all agree that the government’s new dietary guidelines may not be perfect, but are a step in the right direction?

Can we all agree that it’s probably just a matter of time before Mexican drug kingpin “El Chapo” is on the loose again unless he gets extradited to the United States?

Can we all agree that Alabama Judge Roy Moore just defies all logic is disputing the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage?

Can we all agree we are all better off now that Congress has wasted another few days repealing the Affordable Care Act and defunding Planned Parenthood? The bill was, of course, vetoed immediately.

Can we all agree that the Florida professor who claims the shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school and other violent acts were staged events, needs more punishment that just being fired?

Can we all agree that the leader of North Korea is creating a major headache, basically because he’s crazy?

Can we all agree, speaking of crazy, that the mayor of Cologne, Germany deserves a special  place in the Crazies Hall of Fame for his advice to women on how to avoid sexual assaults?

and finally:

Can we all agree that when a major metropolitan newspaper has to send its reporting staff out to deliver newspapers it has a real self-inflicted and inexcusable problem?

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Is Football Worth it ?

January 8, 2016

Filed under: Movie Review — Tags: , , , , , , , — admin @ 9:08 pm

Like many Sundays over many years, I watched professional football last weekend. I will probably watch more until my New England Patriots are no longer in the NFL playoffs. My wife is quite surprised that I continue to watch, since we had been to see Will Smith in “Concussion” the day before.

Will Smith, right,  and the real-life Dr. Bennet Omalu

Will Smith, right, and the real-life Dr. Bennet Omalu

Make no mistake, Will Smith does a great job in his portrayal of Dr. Bennet Omalu, the pathologist who brought the dangers of playing football to the forefront and exposed the NFL for what it is – a business, making profits at the expense of its players.

The movie has been portrayed as being too one-sided and heavy handed, but the reality is that the NFL has been heavy handed and one-sided in it’s attitude for much longer.

In fact my wife and I had first-hand knowledge of the NFL attitude several years ago when we attempted to approach the York family, which owns the San Francisco 49ers,  about providing psychological consulting to help retired athletes deal with the problems of brain damage caused by repeated hits to the head. Dismissively, John York rejected the idea out of hand saying the NFL was handling the issue just fine.

The movie and the thousands of former players who sued the NFL, have proven him wrong.

You cannot see the movie without having second thoughts about allowing your son to play football.

If you are a fan, you can’t help but leave conflicted. Should I continue to watch football and support the mistreatment of the athletes or should I show my displeasure by quitting cold turkey.

The reality is, if you believe Dr. Omalu’s research, there is no middle ground. Better helmets are not the answer – they do not prevent concussions.

Better concussion treatment is not the answer because research has shown that it is the repeated blows to the head that seems to cause CTE.

Football is ingrained in the American way of life. I don’t know how many former players will have to commit suicide before we confront the reality of its impact on the athletes and I don’t know how many tragic stories of broken bodies and minds will convince Americans that we are watching gladiators just like the ancient Romans.

I think it’s a cop out to say that the athletes know the risks and want to play anyway, so it’s ok for us to watch.

I wish I had the answers, but I don’t. But I think that the movie should be seen by everyone, to enjoy Will Smith’s performance, and gain a better understanding of the fate that awaits many NFL players.

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CWAA: Malheur and the Anti-Federal Insurrection

January 6, 2016

Filed under: observations,Politics,Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — admin @ 9:03 am
Harry Fuller, a friend of a friend,  who lives near the occupied Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon sent the following note yesterday.  I thought it was unique view of the whole mess. He’s an avid birder and very familiar with the site.
I can’t say I agree with all his comments, but we can all agree that the men occupying the Preserve do not represent the interests of most Americans.
Here’s Harry’s essay:

No change in the occupation of Malheur by self-styled militia, anti-federal activists.  So far no violence and apparently no property damage.  For birders this is a serious issue as it continues.  The watch tower where the armed men are on guard is a tower long used by nesting Great Horned Owls.  The owls should be nesting in the next few weeks.

Wildlife in the Malheur Wildlife Refuge

Wildlife in the Malheur Wildlife Refuge

The occupiers have vowed to begin working the land, whatever that means.  It certainly does not mean letting White Pelicans, Harrier, Black Tern, Short-eared Owls, White-faced Ibis and other locally nesting birds use the land without being disturbed…or even shot.

The long-term goal for this anti-federal movement is to take land away from the U.S. government and give it back to the states with the intention of eventually giving it to private individuals for profit.  Some private land owners do care and take care of wildlife.  Many do not.  Cattle ranchers, alfalfa and mint growers and energy companies are notorious for environmental carnage. Mint, cows and hay crops are major sources of ranch revenue in Harney County where this farce is playing out.  Great Gray Owls, of which I know something, cannot find enough mammals to eat in meadows trampled by sheep or cattle.  Many other species are also threatened by modern farm and ranch practices.   Monocultures of alfalfa, Douglas-fir or any other harvestable crop rarely provide rich habitat for birds and other animals.

President Theodore Roosevelt created the wildlife refuge system over a century ago because he wanted to be sure there would be animals to hunt.  There is no constitutional provision for refuges so Congress and a right-wing President could decide to give away or sell all the federal land holdings.  Or, more simply, they could simply cut the budgets of federal enforcement agencies so the U.S. becomes like so many African and Asian nations: big parks showing up on maps but with with inadequate patrols and lots of poaching of species doomed to extinction.  Not to mention to theft of trees, etc.

If the feds were to sell off their lands or cede them to the states, in some blue states there might be some effort to maintain open space and protect wildlife but in states like Nevada, Utah, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Texas the federal lands would almost immediately be turned into private preserves for making money any way possible.  To hell with the wolves, pronghorn and Sage Grouse.

Quickest way to destroy the refuge system: money.  Malheur NWR is over 170-thousand acres.  It cannot be maintained and patrolled by a couple men or a few volunteers.  It requires a real financial commitment.  At least equal to the cost of a couple of drones per year.  There are many in the Republican Party who would far rather have the drones than any wildlife refuge and all those pesky regulations that reduce somebody’s theoretical income from unrestricted exploitation of the land.

What began as the Sagebrush Rebellion has now become a centerpiece of rural western Republican dogma: get the feds out of our lives so we can ride ATVs, shoot deer and cut trees wherever we want.  Liberty uber alles.  A party that sees climate change as a myth and wolves as targets is not going to preserve refuges or even national park except as photos ops.  Now they would like to own one of the first condos on the edge of Grand Canyon?  Cheap at $2 million, free parking included.  Membership in golf club extra.Map-HLP-BAR

Most historians who pay attention to resource use consider the American national park system to be one of the great innovations of the 19th Century.  This anti-fed movement could theoretically make that all go away by ceding Yosemite and Grand Canyon back to local control.

One legal analyst today finally, directly drew the  link between this action at Malheur and the constant rhetoric from the NRA and pro-gun folks about the need to have armed militia to thwart supposed government tyranny. Well, these folks in this militia who hear from God what they are to do are there thwarting federal tyranny at Malheur in the name of all that is right and holy.  Give a gun to a nut and you have an armed nut.  This is libertarianism run amuck.  There is no sense from these people that there is a common interest in preserving the planet, the environment or other creatures.  They seem to worship private property as godliness.

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CWAA: Can We All Agree – 1/2/16 Edition

January 2, 2016

Filed under: Can we all agree — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , — admin @ 8:02 am

Happy New Year. Thanks for reading.

CXZ7akyWkAEVtRz

Some tips for the coming election year

Can we all agree that hearing about the deaths of Wayne Rogers and Natalie Cole was not a great way to start a new year?

Can we all agree that the worst New Year’s Eve broadcast had to be Fox News, which insisted on allowing the presidential candidates an opportunity to offer gratuitous and meaningless comments throughout their show?

Can we all agree Mr. Obama is at least following through on his promise to do something about improving gun control in the country. Surveys suggest most of the country supports some kind of action,but the GOP and NRA are already up in arms. Whatever he does it won’t help the 27 Americans killed by guns over Christmas.

Can we all agree that the Iranian response to the administration’s decision to consider more sanctions, over the Iranians use of long rang missiles, would be pretty funny, if the topic were not so serious?

Can we all agree that retired surgeon Ben Carson’s presidential campaign continues to be in deep trouble?

Can we all agree that Jeb Bush is also in trouble? Now, he’s c challenging the schoolyard bully (Mr. Trump)  to a one-on-one fight.

Can we all agree that Carly Fiorina brought politics to a new low when the Stanford grad decided she should root for Iowa in the Rose Bowl?

Can we all agree that the list of folks insulted by Mr. Trump is a little like the old Nixon’s enemies list – if you’re not on it, you feel a little let down?

Can we all agree that it appears the mainstream GOP Presidential candidates are hoping Trump will self-destruct, and are now focusing on bashing each other in an attempt to stand out?

Can we all agree that no-one even remembered that George Pataki was running for the GOP nomination, until he dropped out?

Can we all agree that this week’s freak weather condition will just become more common if we don’t do something about global warming?

Can we all agree that the charges against Bill Cosby may not convince a jury but he’s already been found guilty in the court of public opinion?

Can we all agree that what the world really needed was a book of quotes from Russian President Vladimir Putin?

Can we all agree it seems a bit strange that a clip of Donald Trump appeared in an extremist recruitment video – after it was mentioned by Hillary Clinton?

Can we all agree that when the Republicans purposely manipulate the color of the President’s skin in campaign ads, they are playing to the racism they know continues to exist in this country?

Can we all agree that very few people were surprised that no indictments were handed down in the shooting to Tamir Rice?

Can we all agree that  every new story written about teenager Ethan Crouch and his mother makes everyone believe he never deserved the lenient sentence he received after killing four people in a car accident?

Trying to coax an elephant seal back into the water.

Trying to coax an elephant seal back into the water.

Can we all all agree that all the dire warnings about the potential spread of the Ebola virus seem like a distant memory now that Guinea has been declared ebola free?

Can we all agree that while it’s good news the Iraqi’s have retaken Ramadi, they are a long way from taking back control of their country?

Can we all agree the methane gas leak at Porter Ranch just outside Los Angeles may be the most under-publicized environmental disaster of 2015?

Can we all agree that the best story of the week may be the tale of the wayward, pregnant elephant seal who tied up traffic in Sonoma for hours as officials tried to coax her back into the water? Please, no jokes about why the seal crossed the road.

 

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