• Vitamin S

    Starting in 1954 the Sugar Information, Inc. published ads in the  Life Magazine and others promoting the health and weight-loss benefits of sugar. Of course in the 1950’s the sugar was delicious, healthy and local, not the corporate white death we have to eat today. Girls used it for an energy boost during a long school day; women used it for dieting so they can look good on the beach; men used it for penis enlargement …well, ads didn’t actually mention men so no one knows what they used it for.

    I want that America back. Free of disgusting diet drinks and sugar-free Jell-O. Where sugar slimmed you down instead of making you fat. Where sugar cured diabetes and cancer. Where you could eat a teaspoon of sugar to keep you from getting hungry between other teaspoons of sugar. I want this awesome America back.

    That’s why I will be voting for Ron Paul in November even if he is not on the ballot and I am not registered to vote.

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  • Pothole to the Center of The Earth

    I wonder if there is a rating scale for potholes similar to the F-Scale for tornadoes or the Richter Scale for earthquakes. If there isn’t one, I’d like to propose a Kansas City Pothole Scale to commemorate this City’s contribution to the subject of road damage. I’ll leave it to the scientists to decide if potholes should be rated based on their size or on a potential vehicle damage from a minor bump (K-1) to a complete disappearance of the vehicle as described in the Bible “and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up” (definitely a K-10).

    Every day I have to maneuver around this crater of a pothole on my way to work, wondering if one wrong turn will send me on my way to the center of the Earth, or at least a little closer to it.

    As you can see, there are visible remains of the previous handiwork done by the highly trained professionals working for the City.

    It’s hard to tell but the tape measure in the photo is extended to almost three feet to give you some dimension perspective.

    It’s not just a hole in the ground. There seems to be a cave underneath it. Maybe it’s an old mine, or an unknown entrance to the abandoned underground tunnel, or an end of the secret escape route leading to the Mayor’s office.

    I didn’t feel like spelunking my way down there on a gray Saturday morning.

    Few days ago someone placed an orange warning sign around this pothole but it swallowed the City property overnight. You can see the remains of the sign deep down in the abyss.

    During my annual griping about the KCMO Earnings Tax, someone never fails to point out that it’s only fair that I pay my fair share for the roads and wonderful amenities I am using while I am in Kansas City. Stupidity of this argument aside, I think I paid enough during my 10 years of employment to fill this hole with cash.

    This article explains that you may have a small chance of the City compensating you for the damage to your vehicle caused by a pothole; coverage may be provided by the Missouri Public Entity Risk Management Fund. Obviously I am not qualified to provide any advice, do your own research.

    In the meantime, please exercise caution on this intersection of the 6th and Cherry, you’ll find the giant pothole next to the property tax-free building.

    View Larger Map

    One wrong move and you may accidentally discover the next steamboat Arabia.

    Mr.Gorbachev Mayor Funkhouser! Tear down this wall! Fill up this hole!

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  • Behind the Iron Curtain: Happy Veterans’ Day

    Somewhere in this picture there is a lot younger me

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  • Things You Probably Never Heard Of: Eurovision 2009

    In the country where the “World Series” usually include such world powers as New York and Arizona, it’s no wonder that a musical competition in Europe is not front page news. I feel it’s my duty to inform those of you who haven’t heard the news that this year’s Eurovision 2009 was won by a Russian-born singer representing Norway.

    I actually had more fun watching the compilation of all the winners in the previous 50 years where many songs sounded very familiar.

    While you may want to take a look at poodle-looking Celine Dion somehow representing Switzerland, I like the following song from 1975 a lot better.

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  • Behind The Iron Curtain:Hitching a Ride

    Recent post by Scott Adams described his vision for the future of public transportation in the new economy.

    Suppose the government enacted laws that made it legal for anyone to be a taxi driver in his own car without a special taxi license. And suppose the income was non-taxable. The result would be cheap taxis and high availability. Every time you wanted to run an errand, and had an extra minute, you could choose to pick up a rider and cut your own driving expense in half. Technology will make it easy to match amateur taxi drivers with riders. And the market would keep prices low.

    This is very similar to the system that existed for years (and still alive an well) in the USSR and countries that followed it. In addition to pretty well developed system of public transportation and state-owned taxis, a person could just stand on the street, raise a hand and flag down a private car. Both sides benefited equally: a passenger received a semic0mfortable ride for a price comparable to a cab (general price/distance ratio was common knowledge) and a driver made some extra money without making any extra effort. Some people liked it so much that they made it into a part-time job. Others just picked up passengers on the way home or wherever.

    Imagine yourself standing somewhere on the Lenin Street (each city had one of these), you raise your hand and soon one of these beauties stops to pick you up:

    Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

    Soviet Union had its own “Big 3”: GAZ, AutoVAZ, and AZLK; ZAZ in Ukraine produced some of the ugliest and the most unreliable even by the Soviet standards vehicles. Due to the shortage of cars and years-long waiting lists people were happy to get anything with wheels. Sometimes, when at the end of the month autoworkers were rushing to fulfil quotas so they can get their bonus, a lucky buyer would find a bucket of uninstalled parts inside his new vehicle. Despite these cars being 20-30 behind the rest of the automotive world when they came off assembly line, many of them are still on the road closing in on 40 years. Soviet people invented ingenious ways of keeping them going and they turned out relatively easy to fix and maintain.

    My current situation does not easily lend itself to carpooling: I don’t always go straight to work and don’t always drive straight home. The other problem is potential emergency situations that happen rarely but still have to be planned for. In this city I don’t have a reasonable way of getting home from work without my personal vehicle, so I would welcome an opportunity to get a ride from someone who is already headed in the same direction. The only issue  is that when I was growing up© people getting into a stranger’s car were not afraid to be later found in the woods in a block of concrete; drivers were not generally scared of being robbed, killed or raped. Once I hitchhiked almost 200 miles  from where I was stationed in the army to my hometown, changing 5 or 6 cars in the process and never felt any danger; I was wearing my uniform and no one ever asked me for any money. (if some window pops up, just click “return to map”) I don’t know if I would have the same trust now, but if sharing a ride was commonly accepted practice I would probably give it a try.

    If you are ever so lucky to get a ride in an old Soviet Car make sure to try this, it will make you instantly popular:

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