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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Awesome things in life

"Excuse me m'am, excuse me sir, sorry.......Uh, I only have one item. Would you mind if I went to the front of the line?" Yeah, right!

Phil Hawkes of the Arizona Food Marketing Alliance has dug up an interesting blog by a guy named Neil Pasricha. It’s called “The Top 1,000 Awesome Things”. The list started on June 6, 2008 and by posting one awesome thing per weekday since then, Pasricha is down to number 373.

You may be thinking “What are awesome things?” Think of them as universal small joys and pleasures that we can all identify with. And, while they are not necessarily big things, they are all “awesome“.

Here are some of them separated into various categories. Those are my comments in parentheses.

School: #472…finishing your last exam. (what a great feeling it was to finish up that last dreaded blue book! If you are too young to remember blue books, let me know.)
#503…walking into class and seeing a substitute teacher. (another great feeling, the kids ran the class that day!)

Pets: #622…when your dog is really excited that you are back home. (pets like dogs and cats are the best with their unrequited love.)

Kids: #392…catching the ice cream truck. (a glorious feeling, especially if it was Mr. Softee!)
#394…when your dad checks under the bed and finds no monsters. (you never can tell!)

Work: #765…thinking it is Thursday when it is really Friday. (truly a glorious feeling!)
#738…coming back from lunch and copping a much better parking spot. (stupendous!)

Driving: #597…when that police car that has been on your bumper for a couple miles finally passes. (whew!) #499… when you should have gotten a parking ticket and didn’t . (double whew!)

At Home: #475…when your dinner guests wash the dishes even though you told them not to. (great people) #606…the kid’s table. (as much as you love them, it’s nice to have them out of the way.)

Grocery shopping: #953…When the cashier opens a new line in a busy store and you are first in. (this is part luck, part savvy) #575…When the customer with a full cart let’s you ahead in line because you have one item. (what a humanitarian!)

All things food: #643…the sound of steaks hitting a hot grill. (especially if you have a beer in your hand) #870…when you get the cereal to milk ratio just right (if you don’t, it’s best to have more milk than cereal)

Random: #400…putting your own shoes back on after bowling. (that is, if they are rented shoes. I preferred to own my own bowling shoes)

Some of my awesome things would be driving a golf ball down the middle of the fairway, a trip to the mailbox with no bills waiting for me to pick them up, hitting three 7’s on a slot machine, having every traffic light on Hayden from Frank Lloyd Wright to Indian School be green, a bowl of sweet-sour cabbage soup and a brisket on rye at Goldman’s Deli, looking out my back window on a January morning and seeing the beginning of another 72 degree Arizona winter day.

How about you?

Jim McAllister writes blogs and columns for the Arizona Republic in Scottsdale, AZ. To leave a comment or read 39 other comments, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right column under links. You will not receive a virus.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Baby boomers turning 65

New Speaker of the House John Boehner is a baby boomer. No extra charge for tears. (AP)

On January 1, 2011, 14 days from the time I am writing this piece, the so called “baby boomers” will start turning 65. That’s right; all 77 million or so of them will start becoming 65 beginning with the one second after midnight births from January 1, 1946.

Most of us know why these folks are called baby boomers but, in case you don’t know, it is because they were born after millions of guys returned from military service after World War II. Needless to say, after living in foxholes for four years, they kept their wives busy in the bedrooms of America to the point that the population soared. When the birth rate dipped below 4% in 1964, the boom was considered finished.

Why has this subject been discussed and debated for years? I’ve never given special attention to people in the boomer age category but have looked at those born in that microcosm as fortunate only because it makes every one of them younger than I am. However, some look at 77 million people born within a 19 year period and they want to categorize them into a group with similar beliefs.

Is that being fair, especially since the categorization is usually negative? Writer Ray Cooklis (b. 1950) doesn’t think so. He says “I’m sick and tired of ‘experts’ lumping us together as a monolith of people who supposedly act alike, think alike, buy alike, and age alike.” He is resentful of being informed that “because I was born in a certain year I wear these clothes, listen to this music, or hold these views.” He also tires of hearing about how boomers are “wasteful, self-indulgent, and spoiled.”

It does seem odd that so many people can be grouped into a whole when you consider the many races, beliefs, and nationalities in the USA. For example, Cooklis mentions Spike Lee and Rush Limbaugh. Would anyone in their right mind link those two? How about George W. Bush and Barack Obama? Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton? Light years apart, right? But, they are all boomers.

Besides these examples of the baby boomer myth, how about the fact that the first and last born boomers are 19 years apart in age. That alone puts them into basically two generations with different ideas.

A recent AP poll says that “baby boomers are the unhappiest of all Americans when it comes to making love. The generation that promoted free love has become old and cranky about sex.” I don’t know who the AP polled but I know a lot of people who were born between 1946 and 1964 and I would say the LAST thing they are cranky about is sex.

I look at most people as individuals, not as a group. Besides, if those born during the “baby boom” are cranky about sex, where does that put us pre baby boomers?

Jim McAllister writes blogs and columns for The Arizona Republic newspaper in Scottsdale, AZ. To read 80 comments on this blog or to add a comment, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right column under links and scroll down. You WILL NOT receive a virus.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Expressions through the years

A typical "juke joint" in Louisiana circa 1930s. You probably wouldn't want to "mouth off" in there on a Saturday night. (Library of Congress)

I love films of the 1930’s, 1940’s, and 1950’s. The cars are great, the street scenes in cities have a nostalgic look, and the dialogue is tremendous.

They had their own hip expressions in those days. I watch a lot of films on Turner Classic Movies and they have the best examples: When a woman would give guys like Humphrey Bogart or Spencer Tracy a hard time, they were likely to hear an annoyed “Listen, sister!” A common definition for women was “dames” as in: “Those dames don’t know nothin’". A woman’s legs were “gams” and a woman who consorted with gangsters was a “moll.” A dependable secretary or assistant to a man was known as “his girl Friday.” I suppose that was a takeoff on Defoe’s man Friday from Robinson Crusoe.

Girls were also called “sugar” and if they wouldn’t shut up were told to “quit flappin’ your lips!” Many times a good looking girl was referred to as a “Jill”, “dish”, “babe”, “doll”, or a “looker.” A woman who thought she was really something was referred to as the “Queen of Sheba.” Sometimes when a guy was pursuing a woman he was said to be “chasing skirt.”

If you were surprised or amazed by something, you were a “monkey’s uncle.” If you went to a lower end bar or club with music and dancing, you went to a “juke joint.” If you were given a drugged up drink in that juke joint you were “slipped a Mickey Finn.” If you were in an embarrassing situation, you were said to be “in the hot seat” but if you got lucky in a juke joint you may have received a “smooch” (kiss) from a babe. If you were rich you had “folding money.”

Everyone wanted to have as much as their friends or neighbors and when they did they were said to be “keeping up with the Joneses.” That expression leaked into the fifties, the decade when rock music was born along with “tough guy” punks and hoods.

By this time, the Bohemians of the 1920’s had evolved into the 1950’s “beatniks”. Beatniks were early day “hippies” as they were called in the 60’s. They were basically people who were trying to find themselves and figured the way to do it was through drugs and saying “hey, man” a lot. It was also a convenient way to find an excuse not to work, take baths, or get haircuts.

The punks and hoods of the fifties liked to refer to people in positions of authority as “Daddy-O.” For a good example of this see The Blackboard Jungle (1955) with Glenn Ford, Sidney Poitier, and gorgeous Ann Francis.

The old terminology will probably return some day as almost everything gets recycled. So, if you think something is “cool” today you may someday be saying it was “keen”, “boss”, “neat”, or maybe an entirely new word.

To leave a comment or to read the other 49 comments, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right column under links. You will not receive a virus. Jim McAllister writes for The Arizona Republic in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Television then and now

The console model TV in the middle looks like ours from 1949

This morning I received an email from Cox Communications telling me they are adding the Filipino Channel to their already gigantic lineup of channels. The Filipino Channel will be the first network in Asia to deliver full time programming to Filipino-Americans.

I felt a sigh of relief when I received the news that this channel is coming on board to Cox. I’m sure the entire Filipino community in America is also celebrating as I punch out this blog. Now, if we write enough letters to Cox maybe we can get the “illegal immigrant network” or maybe the “Iceland-Greenland Today” network.

Of course, I am speaking tongue in cheek but it does amaze me the number of TV stations and networks we can receive in this world of endless communication. As I look at the Cox schedule and see channels like The Pentagon Channel, Jewelry TV, and AZCapitolTV, I wonder what their viewing numbers are. They have to be miniscule but there they are, wishin’ and a hopin’ that you will punch in their numbers.

As far as Cox is concerned, I sometimes wonder how they run the place. I have had their basic lineup, digital stations, and music channels for quite a while and have been paying a monthly bill of $123. That includes TV, computer, and land line phone.

Recently, I called them and asked how I could get the Fox Business Channel. The guy said “No problem, that is part of the ‘sports-info’ tier and if you take it you will also get a bunch of movie channels, the NBA, NHL, NFL Networks and many more.” And, the cost of these wonderful additions? Surprisingly, my monthly cost dropped $4 to $119. Go figure. Maybe I should order HBO and Showtime and see if I can get the cost down to about $100.

With all this TV to watch, it reminds me of the days we had our roof antenna in Cincinnati and gleefully tuned in our three stations broadcasting NBC, ABC, CBS, and occasionally DuMont before they folded in the early 1950’s. Having our own TV was quite the luxury. Before TV became more common, we would pile into the house of a girl up the street to get our daily fix of “Howdy Doody” on a 14 inch Admiral. Later, it was Tuesday nights for Uncle Miltie on NBC with the “Texaco Star Theater.”

My Catholic friends would be steadfast in watching Bishop Sheen give out his advice on TV. I sure was glad I wasn’t Catholic; my friends said the bishop was “borrrrriiiiing” but their parents insisted they watch him.

Sports were really fun to watch. We never missed the Cleveland Browns games on Sunday as they flickered in 16" black and white. I liked the commercials for Carling’s Black Label beer, the sponsor of the games. “Hey, Mabel! Black Label!” I could use one now.

Sorry, I have to go now. I don’t want to miss the 1:00 program on the new Filipino Channel.

To leave a comment or read any of the other 47 comments, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right column under links. You will not receive a virus. Jim McAllister writes blogs, columns, and opinions for The Arizona Republic in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

"GUY" films

"You have to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya punk?" (flixster)

What are “guy" films? For one thing they are not made for the sushi eating, lily liver, liberal guys that we have to put up with today. You know who I mean: they are the ones who would never eat Tabasco Sauce, chicken wings, or drive a car that gets less than 30 miles per gallon. They get squeamish when guns are mentioned and they can’t wait to get one of those tiny Volt electric toy cars with the 100 mile range. Wow! That sounds exciting and they only cost $41,000!

For that crew I suggest they buy a ticket to see “The Devil Wears Prada”, "Beaches”, “The Women” or “Sex in the City” so they can wring the tears out of their hankies with their white wine drinking girlfriends (or boyfriends).

Guy movies are for guys who drive real cars or trucks, love burgers and fries, hot sauce, and don’t necessarily shave every day. And, if they did, it wouldn’t be with a fancy electric razor. These guys love sports and sports bars with plenty of TVs and would never wear lavender.

For them, movies with Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, and Clint Eastwood top their list of favorites. If the film is about war, cops, or loners they fit in nicely. It helps to have as much political incorrectness as possible as that movement has strangled our country and we need these guys to destroy it.

Unfortunately, Newman and McQueen are deceased but their films live on taking us back to an era when men were men, not imitation guys carrying European shoulder bags (purses!) and drinking light beer.

Eastwood is 80 but is still hanging on either through occasional acting gigs or directing films. What guy would ever get tired of him in “Dirty Harry” or “Unforgiven”?

Eastwood’s lines in “Dirty Harry” (1972) about the 44 Magnum being “the most powerful handgun in the world” and “You have to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya punk?” are still memorable to guys. How about “Make my day” from “Sudden Impact”? Classic stuff.

Like “Dirty Harry”, “Bullitt” (1968), starring Steve McQueen, was filmed in San Francisco. The first thing guys think of from this film is Steve chasing the guys in the ’67 Dodge Charger while driving his Mustang 390GT. It’s great action but McQueen’s coolness rules the film; nothing can disturb that.

“Cool Hand Luke” (1967) shows Paul Newman at his best. In “Luke” he is a loser but has a never give up attitude toward escaping from a southern chain gang. Although he is always captured, he holds the respect of the other prisoners; especially after he eats all those hard boiled eggs!

I have to go now. Some of the guys are coming over to watch “The Magnificent Seven”, one of the all time great guy films. Not only does it have Steve McQueen but also Charles Bronson!

For those who don’t like that fare, I believe “Thelma and Louise” is showing just for you on another channel.

To leave a comment or to read the 60 other comments, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right column under links. You will not receive a virus. Jim McAllister writes for The Arizona Republic in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Holiday grocery shopping, part 2

Here is a display of Libby's food products from the 1950's. Notice the loose cans in the front. That was a gimmick to entice more sales as customers were likely to pick them up than disturb a perfect display. It's all about merchandising. (Flickr)
A year has passed and we are again into the holiday grocery shopping season. Last December 21 (see archives) I did a column with some advice for shoppers about pitfalls to avoid. I mentioned the importance of keeping a hand written list at home of necessities for your shopping trip and to be sure you know the stores ad for that week. Clip as many manufacturer’s coupons as possible from magazines, newspapers, or anywhere else you see them.

Be sure you have the store’s card, buy in bulk when possible, buy private label, be careful of peripheral departments, leave your cell phone at home, and NEVER shop when you are hungry! If you followed that advice you saved some money.

Here are a few more ways to save a buck at the grocery store. You have to keep in mind that the stores are in business to make money and the only way they can do that is with the customer’s permission. That is why stores spend a lot of money on research to find ways for you to spend more than you intended. That may seem devious and in a way it is, but they are not putting a gun to your head. It is up to you to use common sense while shopping, especially if you are on a budget.

Watch out for “end cap” displays at the end of aisles. If an item from your list is on the cap, go ahead and buy it, then proceed. Otherwise, pass it up. End cap items are usually high profit stuff or tie in with other products. Also, watch out for “shippers” which are usually full of high profit items and placed in the aisles with like items.

Be careful with free samples. Stores usually have kindly old ladies cooking up stuff for you to sample and they are usually in a high volume area of the store like the meat department. Usually the item is high fat or sweet but tastes really good. Try and avoid this stuff as it is unhealthy, expensive, a high profit item. You shouldn’t be hungry anyway since I told you to eat before shopping.

Okay, let’s assume you have made it this far and have dutifully followed this blog and the one from last December. In your mind you are thinking about what a genius I am and for that I say, “Thank you.” However, you have one more hurdle to jump. That involves going through the check stand without succumbing to the lure of picking up a couple candy bars or a magazine. I know it’s hard; I love those Snickers too but we must be strong. And, do you really care about that magazine describing Lindsay Lohan’s latest drunk escapade? Of course not, you are a mature adult, right? Let the kid bag your items in the cloth bags you brought with you, pay the cashier with a credit card that racks up points, and be on your way.

As you go to your car, hold your head high. You have resisted temptation, saved money, helped support a business, and shopped sensibly.

To leave a comment or to read the other 60 comments, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right column under links. You will not receive a virus. Jim McAllister writes for The Arizona Republic in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Politically correct nonsense

If you read my blog post of 3-30-09 on azcentral ( you know how stupid I think political correctness is. Since the holidays are coming, be ready for more nonsense from the weenies (that’s right, weenies!) who will be making sure that no public place has “Merry Christmas” signs posted.

Be sure you say “Happy Holidays” and if you go to a concert in December, be sure it’s a “Winter Concert” and not a “Christmas Concert”. Also, if you have the audacity to put up a tree in your house with lights and ornaments, be sure you refer to it as a “holiday tree” and not a “Christmas tree”.

Somewhere, Jesus must be looking down and either shaking his head in disgust or laughing his butt off. What’s it been, 2000 years since he was around? Apparently, that’s not long enough for him to stop intimidating some people!

It never ends in our ever increasing PC silly society. No wonder the terrorists have their way with us. How did that guy get on the plane headed to Detroit with that bomb up his rear end last Christmas? We are fortunate that these dummies don’t know how to set off their explosive devices or 300 people would have missed Christmas (Oops! I mean the holiday Christians celebrate on 12-25, sorry!). That would have been an effective use of terrorism (Darn! There I go again. I mean “man caused disaster”). I guess the important thing is that he wasn’t offended by airport security while boarding the plane.

One guy on the Urban Dictionary blog asks if black people really want to be called “African American”. Good point. Come to think of it, I don’t remember them ever demanding that. I think the PCers were probably trying to “save” them like they do everything else that their little minds consider improper. So far in my lifetime I have seen them referred to as “colored”, “negro”, “black”, and now, “African American”.

“Black” makes the most sense to me. I’m a white guy and I think it would be silly to refer to me and other whites constantly as “Caucasian”. But, the PC people would probably call you a racist if you said “black” because that differentiates them by color. I’m telling ya, you have to be careful.

It’s like some of the left leaners on these blogs who chastise those who are against illegal immigration as racist. That’s crazy, but try to convince them. Paranoia is not easy to overcome.

Until we tell them to “shove it” (as Mr. Caprio of Rhode Island told Obama) be prepared to refer to bums as “displaced homeowners” and alcoholics as “anti-sobriety activists” among other similar definitions. I have a definition of “political correctness” from the urban dictionary that also seems very appropriate: “It’s a way we talk in America so we don’t offend whining pussies.” How’s that?

To leave a comment or to read the other 77 comments, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right column under links. You will not receive a virus. Jim McAllister writes for The Arizona Republic in Scottsdale Arizona.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Election facts and stats

Setting the record straight….Liberal op-ed writer for the Washington Post, Dana Milbank, says in his November 3 column that on election night, Fox News, “to be fair and balanced, brought in a nominal Democrat, pollster Doug Schoen.” I guess that is his attempt at making a wisecrack about Fox not being fair and balanced as though liberal networks like MSNBC and the over the air channels are.

Anyway, Milbank is wrong and his envy of Fox’s success is showing as it does with other networks who can’t measure up. Fox was fair and balanced in their coverage and, if anything, leaned to the left with Democrat contributors Juan Williams, Kirsten Powers, Joe Trippi, Geraldine Ferraro, Pat Caddell, and Bob Beckel. Oh, yes, let’s don’t forget Doug Schoen.

As far as ratings, Fox walloped both their major cable competitors MSNBC and CNN by a large percentage. That was expected but the amazing thing was Fox also beat the over the air networks of ABC, NBC, and CBS. Did I just say that a cable network beat three major networks at something?

Great line by Dennis Miller last night on Bill O’Reilly’s Fox show. Commenting on John Boehner’s tearful speech during the Republican onslaught, Miller said, “Who is this, Tammy Faye Boehner?”

Have you seen the commercial with disgraced ex-Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich? He is pushing nuts. Only in America can guys who lose wind up winning, at least for now. He is being re-tried on 24 counts this spring. Too bad he couldn’t sell Obama’s former Senate seat when he had the chance. Mr. Kirk, a Republican, will now be occupying it.

Lock your bedroom door, mom…A 12 year old kid in Surprise, AZ wanted to go trick or treating on Halloween as a “Gay Justin Bieber”. His mother said no way and that it was inappropriate for the kid to do so. The kid went into a tantrum and threatened to kill his mom with a knife. Fortunately, she was able to disarm the kid.

Are you shaking your head in disbelief over this sort of thing? When I was 12, I was afraid to usurp the authority of my parents. My old man would have gotten out the razor strap and I wouldn’t be able to sit down for a few days. If this kid’s father tried that, The ACLU would probably sue.

A kid in Oklahoma was given a zero on his Spanish test because he refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish. Do you think this is appropriate? My feeling is that with the strained illegal immigration situation in Oklahoma in particular and many other states in general, why not eliminate possible problems and let them translate something else?

If you want to leave a comment or read the other 52 comments, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right coliumn under links. You will not receive a virus. Jim McAllister writes for the Arizona Republic in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The election of Nov. 2, 2010 vs. the election of Nov. 2, 1920

Frank Conrad and his crew reporting the election returns on November 2, 1920.
You can tell we are getting down to business relating to the upcoming elections. Just watch the campaign ads on television and you will think that everyone you support and their opponents are a bunch of crooks that should be on their way to Palookaville, the state penitentiary, or some other dastardly place.

Locally in Arizona, the House seat pitting incumbent Harry Mitchell against Republican David Schweikert is a good example of mudslinging on both sides. I love the one with ‘ol Harry dancing around to the tune of Pelosi and Reid.

Nationally, the Delaware race is interesting. The Republicans dropped the ball on this one. Although Castle was a RINO he would have given the R’s a continuing seat in the Senate and with him running against a twerp like Democrat Coons, he would have won easily. Now, that seat is gone and a guy who once referred to himself as a “bearded Marxist” will get the nod.

Close Senate races: West Virginia, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Washington, Colorado, and maybe California. Republicans need the majority of those seats to take the Senate. As far as the House, Republicans should win it.

Election Day this year is on November 2 and the broadcast media crush is quite a contrast to the November 2, 1920 Election Day, exactly 90 years ago. Unlike this year, that was a presidential election and unlike now there was no television flowing into the nation’s homes to influence voters. Radio was even in its infancy so the main form of campaigning was through the “whistle stop” which took candidates across country campaigning in every significant town via trains.

James Cox and Franklin Roosevelt were the ticket for the Dems. Their opposition for the Republicans was Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge. Cox and FDR did whistle stops from August until Election Day but it didn’t help as the Republicans won.

That election was the beginning of media coverage for election returns. A guy named Frank Conrad, who worked for Westinghouse, was desperately, along with his crew, completing a radio transmitting station on the roof of the tallest building on the Westinghouse campus in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Their goal was to be ready on election night to broadcast the returns to the few folks who had radios.

On October 27, the facility was complete and given the call letters KDKA. On November 2, four men recorded the election numbers that were received from the Pittsburgh Post via telephone and a gentleman named Leo Rosenberg read them over the air through a clumsy array of wires used as a microphone.

On that night broadcasting was born. The next day, the Westinghouse switchboard was flooded with calls from people wanting to know how they could get a radio. Today, we have several TV networks on election night feverishly reporting every trend and vote throughout the night and into the early morning.

Frank Conrad died in 1941 at 67 but he got to see radio flourish from the humble beginnings at KDKA to the number one form of entertainment at the time of his death.

To leave a comment or to reply to the 22 other comments, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right column under links. You will not get a virus. Jim McAllister writes for the Arizona Republic Newspaper.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The cost of college

The Campus at Soutern Cal. Beautiful and expensive.

Froma Harrop writes for the Providence Journal. The Republic usually picks up her column to give us the East Coast liberal point of view. I guess the idea is to offset some of the more conservative guys they carry like Charles Krauthammer and George Will.

Anyway, although I usually disagree with her pandering to Obama, I do agree with her column from 9-27 where she talks about the insane cost of going to college these days. On my August 4, 2009 blog, I talked about the high cost of education but mentioned I thought it was worth it even though it means debt for a lot of people for a long time.

Even with the bad job market, one is better off with at least a bachelor’s degree. It puts them to the front of the line over those without a degree in case jobs are ever available again. However, a college degree is not always the answer to good employment since many are not suited for the classroom and can do better in some sort of trade work. It’s an honorable alternative and plenty of skilled trade workers earn a very comfortable income. A good example is a quote from Herman Melville made 150 years ago: “A whale ship was my Yale College and my Harvard.” I would assume he cashed in pretty good from Moby Dick. I wonder what he would have received for the movie rights.

Harrop mentions some interesting numbers for college costs: In the last 40 years, American median income has grown 6.5 times while the cost of attending a state college has risen 15 times.

Tuition at the privately owned U. of Southern California has risen 360% since 1980 to $41,434 a year. At the U. of Illinois, a state school, the tuition is $13,658, six times the cost of 1980. This does not include room and board.

Maybe universities need to tone down their expenses a bit. Harrop mentions that the president of Vanderbilt makes $1.2 million a year. Also, highly acclaimed Duke University spends over $20,000 per year on each varsity golf team member. There is no way the golf teams can cover that expense with the small following they have. What about the beautiful campuses and amenities for students? Is all of that necessary? Do the schools need fancy student unions?

I’m sure there are many who simply can’t afford to go to college. Bill Gates has said that “Five years from now on the Web, you’ll be able to find for free the best lectures in the world. It will be better than any single university.” Gates also mentioned that a year at a university costs an average $50,000 but you can get the same quality education on the Web for $2,000.

Gates is a Harvard dropout but seems to have done pretty well for himself so maybe he is right. Of course, if you follow his advice you may miss some traditional college life. With the cost of college, you may not have a choice.

To leave a comment or to read 24 other comments, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right column under links. You will not receive a virus. Jim McAllister writes for the Arizona Republic newspaper.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Is the "Smart Car" smart?

Below: The Smart Car for $17,600. Top: The Nissan Versa for $12,000. Which would you want?

A couple of weeks ago I saw an ad in the Republic for the “Smart Car”. It’s made by Daimler and has been around in Europe for a while before making its way to us.

This is one tiny little car that seats two. When I saw the thing my first thought was “So, THAT is what a pregnant roller skate looks like!” I figured you could probably pick one up for about $5,000 which may not be a bad deal for something to just run around in locally. To my surprise, they start at $13,640 for the standard two door and go to $17,690 for the cabriolet convertible. That’s a bit expensive for a “car” that small that only gets 41 miles per gallon EPA estimate.

I’m sure there are people where I live who will “absolutely have to have one.” That’s fine with me, they have my permission to be trendy, but I think if I was looking for a new small car I would pass on the Smart Car and look at something that gets almost as good gas mileage and cost thousands less like the Toyota Yaris or the Nissan Versa.

The Yaris gets 36 mpg highway and has a backseat. One reviewer says it also “has the ability to do distance driving without terrifying driver and passenger.” The Versa is even less expensive, has a back seat, and gets 35 mpg.

In the 1950s, there was a postwar car from Italy called the Isetta. I remember seeing a few of them around when I was a kid. It had a door on the front that swung open to allow passengers to enter. Like the Smart Car, it was designed for two people who prayed they would not have a head on collision.

I think they sold well in Europe but we didn’t see many in the states. That was the era of big clunkers and cheap gas here and not many were worrying about fuel economy.

I could be wrong but I don’t see people flocking to the Smart Car showrooms. It’s probably a tree hugger’s dream but I don’t think the average American will go for it. I’m glad I don’t want one; I doubt that at my height I would be able to squeeze into the driver’s seat.

If you would like to leave a comment or read 41 other comments, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right column under links. You will not receive a virus. Jim McAllister writes for the Arizona Republic.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Obama vs. Fox News

How do you expect me to look? I just saw my poll numbers and the ratings for Fox News at the same time! (StarPlus)

Obama obviously has never heard the old saying that “every knock is a boost” and that when you are being criticized by someone, you should ignore them. Otherwise, you show they are getting to you which is like throwing gasoline on a fire. Maybe BO cut class too many times in a public relations class at Harvard.

Now, the prez is claiming in a Rolling Stone interview that “Fox News is destructive to [America’s] long term growth.” He also states that Fox News pushes "a point of view that I disagree with. It's a point of view that I think is ultimately destructive for the long-term growth of a country that has a vibrant middle class and is competitive in the world."

OK, he is the President of the United States so he, like all of us, has a right to his opinion. But, this is where that “every knock is a boost thing” rears its head. He is showing weakness by letting Fox get under his skin and I’m sure more than a few people are scratching their heads about him when they read his statements. Meanwhile, the Fox News ratings continue to climb as the networks that grovel at the president’s feet, like MSNBC and CNN, see their ratings dwindle.

I agree with the prez on one thing, "But as an economic enterprise, it's (Fox) been wildly successful. And I suspect that if you ask Mr. (Rupert) Murdoch what his number one concern is, it's that Fox is very successful."

I wonder why Fox is so successful. I watch the news with Shepard Smith and I see him offering no opinions; he gives a professional report of what is happening around the world. He is simply better than anyone the other networks have to offer.

As far as guys like Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, they have a point of view which usually differs from that of the White House although I think O’Reilly is very fair to the prez. Those are the guys Obama is after. But, does he really think that one cable news network can be responsible for his large descent in the polls since his election? It sounds like more whining from another member of the “It’s not my fault” generation.

I have a suggestion for the president. Keep watching MSNBC, NBC, and CNN. For every criticism O’Reilly and Hannity throw your way, Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow will be there to drop roses in your path. Although no one watches them, it may make you feel better.

To leave a comment or to read any of the 77 comments posted, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right column under links. You will not receive a virus. Jim McAllister writes for the Arizona Republic newspaper.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Where were you?

It took the U. S. Army to safely escort "The Little Rock Nine" into Central High School in 1957 after Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus refused to abide by a Supreme Court decision on integration that allowed black kids to attend the school. Faubus closed high schools in Little Rock for the 1958-59 school year in protest. That was known as "The Lost Year." (UPI) I was a junior in high school in Ohio and wondered what the fuss was about. I had gone to school with black kids all my life. But, I wasn't living in Arkansas.
Regardless of our ages, we have memories of important events that have happened during our lifetimes. I’m not talking about personal items as much as events that affected the nation and/or the world. How many times have you heard someone say, “I remember where I was when I heard the news of Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963.” Personally, I was crossing the street at Whiteman AFB in Missouri going back to work after lunch when it happened. Where were you?

Since I can only vouch for events in my lifetime, probably the first one would be the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. I was alive at that time but at eight months of age, I can’t say that I remember the event. I would bet that guys like Bob Amento, Dr. Don, and Fancy remember it well though.

I do remember when President Roosevelt died in April of 1945. I had just turned four and was standing by the side of our house in Cincinnati watching my dad paint. Our neighbor came rushing into the yard shouting the news of FDR’s demise.

I remember when Truman beat Dewey in November, 1948 for the presidency. I was seven as my dad and I listened to the election returns well into the night and since he was a big fan of Dewey, he became glummer as the night went on. Television was still in its infancy and was very expensive so we listened to the results on our big Stromberg-Carlson radio. Only bars had TVs in those days.

In November, 1952, General Eisenhower easily won the presidency over Adlai Stevenson. Stevenson had no chance; he was a dry, no personality guy from Illinois going against a war hero. It was the same result when Stevenson ran against Ike in 1956. I watched returns of both elections on our black and white 16” “National” TV set. The ’52 returns pre-empted Milton Berle’s show on NBC, not a happy night for Uncle Miltie watchers.

I was a Nixon fan in 1960 when he ran against Kennedy. Tricky Dick had no chance after the TV debates. He looked tired, had a five o’clock shadow beard, and was upstaged by the vibrant JFK. The election results in November were no surprise. I was 18, had just registered for the draft, and was disappointed in the results.

I’ll always remember where I was in October, 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I was in the Air Force stationed in Missouri when Kennedy and Khrushchev had a stare down over Russian built missiles being installed in Cuba. Our B-47 Bombers had left our base and were poised on the East Coast ready to go to war. Finally, after a few tense weeks, Khrushchev blinked first and the missiles were dismantled. You could hear a collective exhale of breath on our base when it was settled.

Do you remember the above events happening? How about Beatlemania in ’64? We all know where we were on 9-11-2001 but how about Little Rock and Governor Faubus in 1957? When was the first time you saw a color TV? What about Elvis’s first hit?

Where were you?

To leave a comment or read the other 27 comments, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right column under links. You will not receive a virus. Jim McAllister writes for the Arizona Republic.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Obama goes to church

For probably political reasons, Obama went to church last week for the fourth time in 19 months. Not a sterling record but who am I to say anything? It’s four more times than I have been to church in a much larger time frame than that. I don’t think church is a necessity for the average person to lead a proper and honest life although it probably can’t hurt.

Churches are suffering an attendance problem, especially the Catholic Church. I grew up in the ‘50s as a non Catholic in a heavily Catholic neighborhood in the heavily Catholic city of Cincinnati. Our family lived three blocks from a large Catholic Church, St. Mary’s. It was an old neighborhood with street parking only and the cars of those attending the myriad of masses on a Sunday were parked all the way to our house.

The Catholic kids I knew were well trained and never missed an opportunity to tell me my Presbyterian Church was totally incorrect in its doctrine and that the Catholic Church was the only “true” religion. St. Mary’s was run by the Jesuits and they are great teachers and brainwashers. I heard a priest say once that if they could keep a kid until 15, his thinking would be irreversible. He was wrong; I knew several who left the church.

The remarks of those kids didn’t bother me as I wasn’t crazy about church anyway and I quit going as soon as I was old enough to pull it off. But, in those innocent days of the ‘50s when most kids did as they were told, Catholic Church attendance was high. A Gallup Poll from 60 years ago shows that 75% of Catholics went to Mass. Today it is 45%.

Currently, two out of three Catholics in the greater Cincinnati area don’t go to Mass anymore. It’s not just there that this is happening; Mass attendance has been declining for decades across the country as people find things they would rather do. Some cite busier schedules, changing cultures, and what I believe is the main reason: discontent with Catholic leaders.

The Church is against birth control and is firm about an all male priesthood. Also, the many clergy abuses with children have hurt the cause as has the mild punishment handed out.

In the past, the poor depended on the Church for a social life as they were shunned by society. Today, Catholics are as rich and educated as anyone else and don’t depend on the Church as much. Also, many are turned off by the churches liberal attitude based on more government control and higher taxes.

A few years ago, the Catholic Churches of Phoenix ran TV ads asking “Catholics to come home.” Whether they did or not, I don’t know but in 2004, Bishop Thomas O’Brien of Phoenix was discovered to have been harboring pedophile priests for 20 years. Shortly after that, he was arrested for a felony hit and run accident. Such activity by a church leader is inexcusable and didn’t help church attendance.

Is church attendance on the decline? Recent figures say “yes”, especially for the Catholic Church.

To leave a comment or to read 51 other comments, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right column under links. You will not receive a virus. Jim McAllister writes for the Arizona Republic

Friday, September 17, 2010

New Mexico and illegal immigrants

New Mexico, The Land of Enchantment

I found some interesting information this week about New Mexico’s attitude toward illegal immigration.

With longtime Democrat Bill Richardson as governor and a 2008 population of 895,000 Hispanics (45% of total residents), I figured The Land of Enchantment had to be sympathetic toward illegal immigration.

Also, with the availability of driver’s licenses for illegals and that Obama won New Mexico’s five electoral votes in 2008 by a 57% to 42% margin plus New Mexico’s voting record of going blue in four of the last five presidential elections, the state surely had to be a hotbed of welcome mats for those who arrive there illegally. Did I mention that Richardson is also of Hispanic descent? Yeah, he is.

It’s no wonder 100,000 illegal immigrants have hit the highway out of town in reaction to Arizona’s SB 1070 law. It looks like New Mexico is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Well, maybe not. According to a recent poll by the Albuquerque Journal, New Mexico voters strongly disapprove of illegal immigrants being allowed to acquire driver’s licenses in their state by a 72% to 20%margin. 6% had mixed feelings, 2% didn’t know.

Also, a majority gives its approval to Arizona’s new immigration law. 53% approve, 35% disapprove, 7% have mixed feelings and 5% don’t know. In the Hispanic community, Arizona’s law was favored by 39% with 48% disapproving. Most of the disapproval was based on the feeling of a general dislike for Hispanics.

Professor Gabriel Sanchez of the University of New Mexico said that while voters in the state are not as much in favor of SB 1070 as the rest of the country, they are becoming more disenchanted with illegal immigrants.

Hispanic voters agreed with the majority on the driver’s license policy as 67% opposed it. They also supported the city of Albuquerque’s policy of checking immigrant status of anyone who is arrested with 79% approving. That sounds like they are members of Secure Communities.

Who would have thought those numbers would appear in New Mexico? Gomer Pyle probably would have said his trademark, “Surprise, surprise, surprise!”

What happens now for the illegal population if New Mexico doesn’t welcome them? Oregon and Utah will issue driver’s licenses to non American citizens so I guess for illegal immigrants it time to pack up, head to those states, and hope for the best.

To leave a comment or to read 59 other comments, click "Jim's azcentral blogs" in the right column under links. You will not receive a virus. Jim McAliister writes for the Arizona Republic.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Fox News blondes

Megyn Kelly of "America Live" weekdays on Fox News

Poor Kim Guilfoyle. Kim is a raven haired beauty, a successful lawyer, and gets good face time on Fox News. So, why would I refer to Ms Guilfoyle as “poor Kim”? It is because she is not a blonde and blondes are a specialty of Fox News.

I have no problem with the blonde invasion of Fox. If it was just a cosmetic fix to attract male viewers, it may get tiresome but the blondes on Fox are ladies who are intelligent and know how to gather and report the news without exhibiting a “come hither” demeanor to attract male viewers. There is nothing like the combination of beauty and brains for a television news network to get their message across and Fox has both.

I grew up in the era of Walter Cronkite, Huntley and Brinkley, and Harry Reasoner. They got the job done in the black and white TV era but today it’s the sizzle as much as the steak that viewers want. The Fox blondes have that sizzle but it is subtle and not overdone. It’s as though they are bland Peter Jennings reporting except they are gorgeous women.

Whether you like it or not, it’s all about ratings in the broadcast business. How does Fox continually wallop their competition at the other cable news networks? They simply have better people running the place from the top down.

Roger Ailes runs Fox News and he knows what works. It’s not like he invented smart, beautiful blondes to do the news. It’s been done before with Lesley Stahl who is now 68 and Diane Sawyer who is 65. Both ladies were beautiful and intelligent in their day (still are!) but the networks never utilized them in a way to increase their audience share.

Now that the nightly network news is fading away with uninteresting ancho*rs like Katie Couric (she is a blonde too), and weak cable outlets like MSNBC and CNN, Fox has become dominant. They are the maverick who took a chance and it has worked. They remind me of the days when ABC News was always dragging a weak third in the ratings behind NBC and CBS. They tried three ancho*rs reporting from three cities but it didn’t work. Teaming Barbara Walters and Harry Reasoner was also a mistake as they complemented each other like oil and water. I always gave them an “E” for effort though since they at least tried.

Whether you are familiar with the Fox blondes or not, I would hate to be the one who tries to
dominate Megyn Kelly, Shannon Bream, Lis Wiehl, Juliet Huddy, or Gretchen Carlson. If you were looking for a really bloody nose, seek out Laura Ingraham!

Detractors like to call Fox News “Faux News”. I love it when I read that, every knock is a boost and envy is a terrible thing. That’s too bad for them.

To leave a comment or read 32 other comments, click "Jim's az central blog" in the right column under links. You will not receive a virus. Jim McAllister writes for the Arizona Republic.

Saturday, September 04, 2010


Schoenling "Little Kings", a staple of Cincinnati brewing.

Whether we call it suds, a cold one, a draw, a brewski, a dime draft, or whatever, most of us will admit that there is not a better beverage than beer. It’s the world’s most highly consumed alcoholic beverage and third overall behind water and tea. That’s not bad considering that technically it is illegal in most places to drink the foamy stuff if you are under the age of 21.

When I was growing up in the predominantly German city of Cincinnati, it was known as one of the great beer cities. Local brews dominated sales and when I worked in a local store, I was surprised if I sold more than a couple 6 packs of national brands Budweiser or Schlitz in a week. Everyone wanted the local stuff like Hudepohl, Burger, Schoenling, Weidemann, or Bavarian. Most of those brands are gone now as the national brands drove them under through their massive advertising and deals for suppliers.

I remember when Miller High Life was a premium beer and sold great in that clear bottle. It was called “The Champagne of Bottled Beers”. It died for a while but is coming back through some good TV ads. However, it is being promoted as a lower end product kind of like Keystone’s relationship to Coors. In other words, to me it looks like they are after the shot and a beer crowd.

Speaking of that foolish practice, my friends and I used to go to town on weekends in my Air Force days to get sloshed in a hurry as there were two reasons we were there: Find a good bar with a band and meet girls. Our standard procedure was to eat a few 15 cent McDonald’s burgers, drink a few shots and wash them down with some beers. My standard order was three or four bottles of Schlitz and a couple snorts of Southern Comfort. Needless to say it created a nice buzz and occasionally I would actually meet girls if I didn’t throw up first. I still wonder how many times I danced the Twist and the Limbo in those days.

Coors is an interesting beer. Brewed in Golden, Colorado, it was known as “Colorado Kool-Aid” by many because it was very light. For years it was not sold east of the Kansas-Missouri border which brought about some stories of how people back east got the stuff. That ended when Coors went national.

In an effort to fight off beer giant Anheuser-Busch, Coors and Miller merged in 2008 and so far seem to be doing all right. Anheuser-Busch sold out to a Belgium firm which was a shocker to me. I couldn’t believe them not being owned by the Busch family of St. Louis. But, in these uncertain times, nothing should surprise us although I shake my head when I see a bottle of Budweiser now.

Today, the small micro breweries seem to be doing well with all sorts of different tasting brews. Stop by The Yard House sometime and you’ll see what I mean. Desert Ghost, CJ, Kevin and I met there a few weeks ago and enjoyed the combo of great suds and classic rock.

Life is good!

To leave a comment or to read the other 52 comments, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right column under links. You will not receive a virus. Jim McAllister writes for the Arizona Republic.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Progress can't be stopped

The Kindle, is this the future of books?

I received an email the other day that mentioned some items that we took for granted in the past but are now disappearing before our eyes as “progress” keeps rearing its head. For example, personal checks: I have done my banking online since 2003 which has saved a lot of time and money. I pay all my bills online or through credit card. So far in 2010, I have written only 17 checks. I see a day when banks will drop paper personal checks as a cost saving measure.

Books may also be in trouble with new devices like Kindle available. Although I was happy to stop writing checks and stamping and mailing envelopes, I think I would miss holding books and turning real pages. Kindle sounds good and the pricing is attractive at half the price of a regular book. But, when do we decide that keeping something we love may outweigh the monetary savings of something more innovative? At the moment, I have access to an excellent library at no charge and can buy other books really cheap at the Cave Creek library. Kindle will have to wait for now.

Do you still have a land line telephone? I do, but I don’t know why other than I dislike cell phones (although I own one) and refuse to give up the tradition of having a real phone. Getting a new phone used to be a fun experience. The phone company guy would come by with a nice shiny new phone and install it. He would climb the telephone pole in our backyard in Kansas and call me from there to check if the phone was working properly.

It was REALLY a thrill when call waiting became available. Imagine having two calls on the same line simultaneously! It all sounds pretty ancient now. As far as texting, no way! I have to draw the line somewhere.

These items are just scratching the surface of the changes we can expect. We’ve already discussed the changes in the newspaper business as fewer and fewer young people read print papers anymore. Television is slipping as cable costs escalate and the number of irritating commercials keeps increasing and forcing more people to go to their computers for viewing.

By 1950 TV had made radio a second class citizen. Now, it is getting the same treatment. What about the post office? If people quit mailing bill payments, what will the P. O. do? They’re broke now! Will it disappear? FEDEX and UPS are a lot more efficient.

I will remain a dinosaur for a while I guess. When driving I still listen to news, sports, and financial stations, much of which is on AM radio. I can’t remember the last time I played a CD. Do they still make those?

To leave a comment or to read other comments, click "Jim's azcentral blogs" in the right column under links. You will not receive a virus. Jim McAllister writes for the Arizona Republic.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Too much racial sensitivity

Dr. Laura is out the door

After saying “nigg*er” eleven times on her radio talk show of August 10, 63 year old psychologist Laura Schlessinger has resigned. It may be a resignation to her but I think she was fired. I don’t know if it matters since after 30 years I hear her show was getting stale anyway. I never listened to it as I am not a fan of radio psychologists but I am interested in what readers think of the call that got her in trouble. It’s 6:40 long and I think you will find it interesting.

I think Dr. Laura makes some good points but in these days of overblown racial sensitivity, one is not supposed to say ANYTHING that might be the least bit sensitive. It’s sad that has happened as we used to be a loose, tolerant society that was not so thin skinned. Today, too many lack a sense of humor and take themselves way too serious and that is a shame.

Schlessinger says she is going to try to “regain her first amendment rights.” I don’t think she has lost those rights; she simply said some things that in this uptight liberal society we live in are considered inappropriate. Therefore, she no longer has a radio show.

Here is another example of the garbage we have to put up with today. The black candidate for the Republican Congressional seat in District 3 is former Paradise Valley Arizona Mayor Vernon Parker. He is opposed by Ben Quayle, son of former VP Dan Quayle. Because of Parker’s ethics issues, Quayle referred to him as the “National poster boy for the Democratic Party.” Parker is outraged at the use of the word “boy” and considers it racist. As silly as that sounds it gets even sillier when you consider that Parker brags about being endorsed by Sheriff Arpaio, a guy thought by many to be the biggest racist of them all.

How do you think the Prius driving, CFL bulb using, PC crowd would accept the following interaction from a 1938 Jack Benny radio show? Benny’s valet was a black man named Rochester who was played by the great Eddie Anderson. In one scene, Benny and Rochester are going west on a train. As the train stops in Santa Fe, Rochester thinks he is at the 125th Street station in Harlem. Benny tells him it’s Santa Fe and the people there are Indians.

Rochester says “Just the same, I saw a papoose eating a pork chop.” Benny says “What of it. He can be an Indian and still eat a pork chop.” Rochester says, “I know, but he had it between two slices of watermelon.”

That was funny stuff in 1938. In 2010, I don’t think Mr. Parker or many other blacks would laugh. Parker would be worrying too much about an insignificant non-racial comment calling him a “boy.” Meanwhile Charles Barkley is always making fun of white people and they laugh it off. Maybe we white guys should start being paranoid too.

To leave a comment or to read the 62 other comments, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right column under links. You will not receive a virus. Jim McAllister writers for the Arizona Republic.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Don't build the mosque

Common sense is an interesting subject and it applies to about everything. You wouldn’t wear white socks with a tuxedo, you wouldn’t wander into the rain without an umbrella, and you probably wouldn’t back into traffic. To do so would go against common sense.

I would define common sense as the ability to avoid doing things that make no sense. That is why I wonder why New York’s main Muslim, Imam Feisel Abdul Rauf, is intent on building a mosque in New York City located two blocks from where 3,000 innocent Americans died on 9-11.

Rauf has made comments like this referring to 9-11: “I wouldn’t say the United States deserved what happened. But the United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened.” His wife, Daisy Khan, has referred to the building of the mosque as “no big deal.” That sounds like a dismissal of the fact that 3,000 people died as a result of Muslim terrorists two blocks away.

A last ditch effort through a lawsuit is being made to stop the project but it probably will not be won. The families of 9-11 victims along with some politicians and religious leaders are opposing it and plan a protest on 9-11. It’s a nice gesture but will also probably be ineffective.

Mayor Bloomberg of New York supports the mosque and legally not much can be done about it. Apparently the Constitution says it’s all right as the U. S. believes in freedom of religion. However, here is where that pesky common sense gets involved. After 9-11, a massive dislike over anything Muslim has evolved in the United States. Most people are still incensed over 9-11 and that feeling will never go away. Adding fuel to the fire are recent stories of Muslim fathers murdering their daughters for dating men who were not Muslim. Punishment for women under Sharia law frequently involves stoning them to death. That’s not in line with the values of most Americans.

The insistence of building a mosque so close to Ground Zero reeks as a gesture of “sticking it” to the United States. I’m sure bin Laden is having quite a laugh over it as our politicians meekly let it happen. That mosque could be built in many other places but near Ground Zero was picked. Did they really think this would not create a controversy?

It will be interesting to see if the place gets built. I don’t see American construction workers participating and the controversy will not be going away any time soon.

Jim Croce once sang that “You don’t tug on Superman’s cape, you don’t spit in the wind.” It’s only common sense and if you are Muslim, you don’t build a mosque next to Ground Zero regardless of the constitutionality.

To leave a comment or to read the other 67 comments, click "jim's azcentral blog" in the right column under links. You will not receive a virus. Jim McAllister writes for the Arizona Republic newspaper in Phoenix/Scottsdale.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

The Chinese "paper sons"

Keye Luke of Charlie Chan fame may have been the second naturalized citizen from China in 1944.
A “paper son” was a young male Chinese immigrant who came to the United States between about 1910 and 1944. He would claim to be the son of a citizen when in actuality he was the son of that person on paper only.

In 1882, during the US presidency of Chester A. Arthur, the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed. Previously, Chinese immigrants were welcomed as they flowed to the gold fields of California where work was plentiful. When the gold played out and competition for jobs became more acute, an anti-Chinese sentiment evolved as they moved to cities like San Francisco to take jobs as low wage earners doing restaurant and laundry work. Sound familiar?

Initially the Act suspended Chinese immigration for ten years but as time passed, the law was renewed to make Chinese citizenship virtually impossible until 1944. Even then the quotas remained small. It wasn’t until 1965 with the passage of the Immigration Act that meaningful quantities of Chinese immigrants occurred.

That story seems quite tidy except for a natural disaster that changed the face of Chinese immigration into California. That disaster was the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Coincidentally, the earthquake destroyed city hall and along with it, all the birth records of the city’s residents. Many savvy male Chinese immigrants seized this opportunity to claim false citizenship and the US government had no choice but to take them at their word since the records had been destroyed that may have proven otherwise.

With citizenship, these men could travel to China, spend a period of time, then return to claim a false marriage and/or the birth of one or more children still in that country. Since they were now considered citizens, their Chinese children were also considered citizens. The loophole was that many of the children were not actually kids of the “father” but were “paper sons”. The men would sell citizenship papers to young men in China and claim them as their kids to bring them to the States.

The US government knew of this practice so when the kids arrived at the Angel Island entry point in San Francisco, they were given extensive tests and interviews to prove they were who they claimed to be. This required hours of study and memorization in order to convince the immigration authorities they were legitimate.

Some rumors say that Keye Luke, who played Charlie Chan’s number one son in the 1930’s films, was the second naturalized citizen from China in 1944 after the Magnuson Act repealed the Exclusion Act. He would have been first but he was working on a film that day and a Chinese doctor from New York became number one.

It was a different form of illegal immigration compared to the hordes flowing across the southern border of Arizona today who feel they are entitled to be here regardless of citizenship.

Friday, July 30, 2010

A gourmet burger from Barney's of San Francisco.
According to the Arizona Food Industry Journal, sushi is one of the most popular foods of the last decade. Supermarkets have their own sushi chefs and devote decent space for sushi. I can eat the rolled up crab and shrimp sushi since it is cooked but raw fish? No way! I see people in restaurants eating the raw stuff and wonder how they can do it. I guess I’m just not “with it.”

Bacon is still a big seller which kind of surprises me with all the warnings about eating too much fat. I guess it is the yuppies who are avoiding it in their never ending quest to be thin and wear all the right clothes. I still love the stuff but try not to overdo it. Some of the best restaurant bacon is at The Good Egg restaurants in the Phoenix area. Just be sure to tell your server you want it “crispy” as that brings out the best flavor. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. It’s time for a BLT!

Cupcakes have become a big deal. They are not that big in supermarkets but cupcake shops have sprung up with a lot of overpriced stuff. A few years ago a place called Sprinkles opened at Camelback and Scottsdale Roads and did a land office business. They were getting $36 a dozen but for the “in” crowd, they had to have them at any price. California strikes again! I’ll take two Hostess from Circle K.

Gourmet hamburgers are popular now. It seems every restaurant has one or a selection of many. I thought we were supposed to be eating less fat. Never mind, gourmet is in and they are expensive with all the goodies piled on especially if you have to have Kobe beef which is loaded with fat. I’ve eaten a lot of burgers in my life but none lately. I’m not sure if it is because my tastes have changed or that I found out that McDonald’s meat has so many preservatives in it that it can’t possibly spoil. I’ll take a ham on rye instead.

Sliders are now a big deal too although to me they are nothing new. They are nothing but small burgers, tuna, chicken, or whatever. In Cincinnati we used to go to the nearest White Castle hamburger joint after a night of too much drinking and scarf several of those 12 cent suckers down. Their slogan was “Buy ‘em by the sack” and they were really good at 3:00 in the morning. Greasy little burgers with greasy onions: Yum, life was good!

Coffee and tea have become big deals. I think a lot of people take these two items way too serious, especially coffee. You have to hand it to places like Starbucks and Tully’s for the prices they are able to get for a cup of joe. Somehow I can’t picture myself sitting in a Starbucks all morning working on a laptop computer drinking $4 cups of coffee that tastes about the same as private label store coffee. Circle K coffee is better and cheaper.

You have to hand it to Starbucks, though. They have convinced a lot of people that the Starbucks logo is something they can’t live without and at the same time have made a lot of money.

If you want to leave a comment or read other comments, go to "Jim's azcentral blogs" in the right column under links. You will not get a virus. Jim McAllister writes for The Arizona Republic.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Remembering past rockers

Duane Allman (1946-1971) of the Allman Brothers Band
When Bret Michaels of Poison recently suffered a brain hemorrhage, it made me think of the older rock stars that I enjoyed years ago and the premature demise of many. Fortunately, Michaels survived so he is one of the lucky ones but with their hard driving lifestyles, a lot of these guys go ten toes pointing up long before they need to. Too much booze, dope, and women can lead to a downfall but not necessarily in that order.

Keith Moon was the drummer for The Who but he left us in 1978 at age 32 after he OD on pills and choked to death on his own vomit. Jimi Hendrix also did the vomit choking thing in 1970 when he died in a London hospital at 27. Pills were the culprit there also. Janis Joplin died of heroin poisoning in 1970 sixteen days after Hendrix.

Those 60’s and 70’s rockers didn’t fool around when it came to drugs and booze. I remember Janis wailing away on stage while swilling from a bottle of Southern Comfort. Hendrix was known for some heavy drug use, especially LSD although when they did an autopsy on him, they found more red wine than anything besides an overdose of sleeping pills. The dosage on those pills was half a tablet but some sources say he took about nine of them that night. Moon was on medication that was supposed to handle withdrawal from alcoholism. Being a compulsive guy, he took 32 tablets in a short amount of time which was plenty to kill him.

Does anyone remember Bobby Darin? Bobby died in 1973 at age 37 from complications of open heart surgery. My greatest remembrance of him was his first big hit “Dream Lover” in 1959. It was a smash as it became an anthem for the drive-in movie and restaurant teen crowd. Bobby was more interested in sounding like Frank Sinatra though and followed with million seller “Mack the Knife” in 1960. He also did some acting roles in movies along with Las Vegas gigs until heart problems caught up with him much too early in life.

Most of us remember the big hit from 1979, “My Sharona” by The Knack. Lead singer and guitarist Doug Fieger died in February, 2010 of a brain tumor. “My Sharona” was another one of those anthem songs for a lot of kids who grew up in the 70s. I danced to it many times myself and was sad to see Fieger go at the young age of 57.

Alex Chilton was the lead singer for The Box Tops, a great little group from the 1960’s. In 1967 they released their biggest hit, “The Letter.” Barb and I danced to that song many times in my college days in Missouri in the late ‘60s. Chilton died at 59 of heart failure in May of 2010.

Every time I hear the old tunes, I can think of somewhere in the past I heard them and the good times that accompanied them. When I see these artists dying off, it is like losing part of my youth. Fortunately, they will always be with us in a sense through their recordings.

To leave a comment or read other comments, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right column under links. You will not receive a virus. Jim McAllister writes for The Arizona Republic.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The battle of the sexes

"Be sure to fill the gas tank, honey. Remember you ran out once 40 years ago."

As much as a man and woman may love each other, they will always have differences of opinion, especially about the "small stuff." Years ago, it was referred to as "The battle of the sexes." I don’t know what they call it today but I know it inspired the term "Yes, dear."

As an example, Barb and I decided to go to Queen Creek today and check out a place called the Olive Mill. We decided to go through Fountain Hills and use Gilbert Road to get to the Superstition to avoid the faster yet boring route of the101. The gas tank was a little below 1/4 and I was told to fill up before we reached the freeway. I mentioned that we had plenty of gas to get there and could fill up then. I was promptly told to fill up NOW and that I had run out of gas a few times in the past and she didn’t want to have it happen again. All right, maybe I did run out once or twice about 40 years ago, but....but...but. "Yes dear, is this Valero station O. K.?"

Last week Barb went to Denver to see a couple of her girlfriends. It was a three day trip but she prepared for it at least a week. I told her that when I was out in my sales territory for three days, it took me only about an hour to pack a couple suits, shirts, shaving kit, etc. I was told it is "different" with girls because they need to take things that we wouldn’t understand. Uh..... "Yes, dear."

I think men rule the road, especially when it comes to getting around. When a new road opens, the guys take advantage of it if it is an improvement of the way to get to a certain place. When women learn how to get from "A" to "B" they are usually welded to that route regardless of how many times you say, "But, if you take the 101 to the 202, you can get to the airport quicker." Usually, a guy will get the "No, I might get lost. I’m sticking with my old way." Yes, dear.

Then there is the "move the furniture around" routine that the girls like. How many times have you guys come home and found your Lazy Boy in a new location further from the beer box or the newspaper you left on the floor that morning? Archie Bunker was lucky; Edith knew better than to move his chair or even have the audacity to sit in it.

Regardless of the small stuff, the guys still love the girls. After all, those great meals don’t materialize out of thin air and it is nice to have someone to rub feet with on a cold winter night. It’s well worth a few "Yes, dears" now and then.

To leave a comment or to read any of the 64 other comments, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right column under links. You will not get a virus. Jim McAllister writes for The Arizona Republic.

Monday, July 12, 2010

1957 Chevrolet Bel-Air hardtop.
I was a car freak when I was a kid. There wasn’t a car on the road I didn’t know and they didn’t change much from year to year. Only kids like me and my friends could tell the difference between a ‘49 and ‘50 Ford and Mercury or a ‘47 and ‘48 Chevy. We loved those heaps and waited anxiously until we were 16 and could get our driver’s licenses.

Unlike now, in those days the new models came out usually at the very end of the previous year or in early January. It was in early January of 1955 when I took my annual bus ride to Queen City Chevrolet in downtown Cincinnati to see what kind of boxy model Chevy had to offer for that year. I was expecting another version of the ’54 with maybe new taillights or door handles when to my surprise, I saw the sleek new model for 1955. Was this really a Chevy with its old 6 banger? No way, Chevy had graduated to a V8 (6 was still available) and put it in a stylish new group of body styles.

Thus began the greatest triumvirate in auto history. The 1955, ‘56, and ‘57 Chevys were on their way to a grateful America. There was nothing quite like the sound of the new 1955 265 cube V8 running through the gears. It was a whine that I will never forget. It was advertised as “The Hot One” and other ads told us “Don’t argue with this baby!”

In 1956, several advances were made from the ’55 and they weren’t just cosmetic. $40million was spent on styling improvements while the V8 and 6 were given more power. It’s no wonder they said “The hot one is even hotter!” My brother had a 1956 Chevy convertible with a “power pack.” A power pack was basically a four barrel carburetor with dual exhaust and it really would move! Also available was a V8 with TWO four barrel carbs if you REALLY wanted to move.

The ’57 Chevy was advertised as “Sweet, smooth, and sassy.” With a new fuel injection system added to the line it certainly was sassy. It also received a styling facelift to give it a longer and lower look. I always like the abbreviated fins on the back fenders and the dual rocket hood ornaments.

The ‘57 was the last of the three years of classic Chevys and after vintage Corvettes, is the most sought after car by collectors. The most popular of the 57’s was the red convertible; every baby boomer of the 50s and 60s wanted that car.

Those were great cars and a credit to General Motors’s engineering of that era. In 1958 they were gone and replaced by a new design which included a 348 cube V8 in the new Impala. They were nice cars but not in the same league as the ’55,’56,and ’57.

I doubt if anyone will ever match those three years of Chevys and to those of us who remember those times, they are a fond memory.

To leave a comment or to read other comments, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right column under links. You won't get a virus. Jim McAllister writes for The Arizona Republic.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Moving to Arizona? Research it first!

above: Arizona in the winter north of Phoenix, 2005. Very unusual!
below: Arizona wildflowers in the Spring

I have never moved anywhere without researching the area. It’s only common sense that a person should want to know about an area before they invest in a home and a possible change in lifestyle.

In 1987, my wife and I decided to look into Arizona as a place to spend some time in the winter away from our home in Kansas City. We decided to buy a condo in north Scottsdale but before we did we looked carefully at the Scottsdale weather as we were not interested in spending time in a place with cold winters. If we wanted that, all we had to do was stay in Kansas City. By 1989, we liked it here so much that we made our move permanent. What was not to like about playing golf in average daytime temperatures of 65 during December and January?

Strangely enough, I have met people in Arizona who have moved here sight unseen and are not happy with the area. They say it is too hot in the summer and not warm enough in the winter. I asked one person from St. Louis who I met in November about 15 years ago how she liked our nice weather in that month. Her reply was she thought it would be nicer if it was warmer than the 72 degrees it had been that day. I felt like asking her if she would have preferred a St. Louis November day.

When someone makes the decision that Arizona will be their permanent home, they will probably have some questions about the area that will bring a laugh from Zonies who are used to the lifestyle here. I know this from experience as I had my share. For example: What is a swamp cooler? What is a load controller? Since rain is a rarity, why are there signs in the desert that say "Don’t cross road when flooded." I thought Arizona was a desert. Where are the sand dunes? (Try Yuma). What do you mean that every plant has a drip system? What’s that? Can you fry an egg on the sidewalk in June? (No, it just seems that hot!)

Now that I have logged 21 years in north Scottsdale and know the answers to the above questions, I still find humor with winter visitors who I see going to the pools during 55 degree January days in brightly colored swim suits with various pool paraphernalia under their arms. I guess if you have been wintering in Duluth, that 55degrees seems pretty inviting.

To leave a comment or read other comments, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right column under inks. You won't get a virus. Jim McAllister writes for The Arizona Republic.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

FORBES most disliked sports people

Ben Roethlisberger, he's messing up big time.

Forbes magazine recently released its list of the ten most disliked people in sports. Eleven hundred people nationwide, age 13 and older, were asked their opinion on those currently active as a player, coach, manager, agent, owner, or broadcaster. A 10% minimum awareness level of those polled was also a prerequisite for being eligible to make the list.

Here are the results:

1. Michael Vick. Vick ran a dog fighting operation and was known to kill dogs through beatings and burnings. This is his second year in a row as number one on Forbes list and since I am an animal lover, that’s good enough for me. You just don’t mess with man’s best friend.

2. Al Davis. Al owns the Oakland Raiders and although I don’t dislike him, I think he is well past his prime and makes shaky decisions concerning his team. Most of the dislike of him may be from Oakland and Los Angeles, two cities he has moved his team to looking for a pot of gold.

3. Ben Roethlisberger. Ben is 28, and acts 18. The good: The recent charges of sexual misconduct by a 20 year old U. of Georgia co-ed were dropped. The bad: This is the second time this has happened. Are these girls being bought off? Ben is an embarrassment to his Pittsburgh Steeler teammates and is not a likable fellow. He would fit well in Oakland.

4. Tiger Woods. Do you dislike him because he fooled around on his wife? It doesn’t bother me; it just shows he is not too smart, not unlikable.

5. Jerry Jones. Jerry is owner of the Dallas Cowboys NFL team and thinks he is more important than the league. I’ll love it when a punter hits his billion dollar scoreboard.

6. Mark McGwire. Mark is a baseball cheater. He set the season home run record for major league baseball a few years ago but later it was found he was on drugs. Nice guy, just not smart.

7. Terrell Owens. Owens is another loud mouth, prima donna, unlikable wide receiver in the NFL who fortunately is just about washed up after being with four teams.

8. Alex Rodriguez. As 3rd baseman for the Yankees "A Rod" messed up a good thing. He showed too much greed with money, was caught using enhancement drugs, and left his wife to become a first class womanizer. At least a little restraint might have helped.

9. Allen Iverson. NBA player with Philadelphia 76ers who once told his coach he didn’t want to practice. He never turned down his big paychecks though

10. Gilbert Arenas. Former U of AZ player with the Washington Wizards of the NBA. I would list him in the "not smart" category. He came into his team’s locker room with a loaded gun. He may lose $80 million because of it.

If I was adding some honorable mentions, I may place former major league baseball player Albert Bell on the list although he may not make the 10% awareness list. How about Kobe Bryant, Barry Bonds, and Manny Ramirez? With the Suns set to flounder next year with the loss of Steve Kerr and Doug Griffin in the front office, and the probable loss of Amar’e Stoudemire from the team, maybe owner Robert Sarver should be added as an honorable mention. What do you think?

To leave a comment or read other comments, go to "Jim's azcentral blog" under links. You will not receive a virus. Jim McAllister writes for the Arizona Republic.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Expressions of the past, the Ford Model "T"

(Ford Museum)
The June, 2010 AARP Bulletin has a list of some interesting expressions from the past. These expressions were once applied universally to our lifestyles and the technology of the time but have become a bit out of date. For those of a certain age, you will understand them. For the younger crowd, maybe not. Either way I’ll give a short explanation on each.

Asleep at the switch. I still hear this occasionally as a description of someone who is not giving full attention to something. However, it originated from the days when railroads had humans doing a lot of work that is automated now. If a guy didn’t change the tracks for a train going to Chicago and it wound up in Cleveland, he definitely was asleep at the switch.

That and a nickel will get you a cup of coffee. Yes, there was a time when coffee was a nickel a cup. I saw a sign in a diner when I was a kid that read "cup of coffee, glass of water, and a toothpick: 7 cents." Throw a nickel on the counter at Starbucks and see what you get.

Came in over the transom. Does anyone remember transoms? They were those windows above the door that many old hotels had to allow for better ventilation.

Put through the wringer. If someone had difficulty or was working too hard, they may say they were put through the wringer. The wringer was used to squeeze the water out of washed clothes. Wringers were replaced long ago by the spin cycle in modern washing machines.

Best thing since sliced bread. Sliced bread was quite an invention at one time and anything that was also newly invented could be referred to being the best thing since sliced bread.

Film at 11. That was the tease for TV news in the days long before live reporting.

Beam me up Scotty. "Star Trek" technology from the 60s and an expression you may still hear occasionally.

Let’s get cranking. Popular in the days when cars had cranks to start them, no ignition switches and starters then.

Dial her up. This comes from the days when if you called a girl you liked, it would be on a rotary dial phone. No push buttons in those days.

Here is one of my favorites not on the AARP list. In the great crime film from 1931 "The Public Enemy", James Cagney is a wise guy crook driving a new stick shift fancy roadster. The stick shift (or synchromesh transmission) was a new item at that time and when a valet goes to park Cagney’s car, he grinds the gears. Cagney shouts, "Hey, stupid, be careful! That things got gears. That ain’t no Ford!"

Cagney was referring to the Model T Fords of that era which, as he said, didn’t have gears.

The Model "T" Ford was one of the most successful cars in history. Millions were sold from the early 20th century until 1928 when they were replaced by the Model "A" which had a 3 speed stick shift. A lot of customers didn't like the "A" and Ford had to dismantle many of the old "T's" to create a demand. Cagney was right, they didn't have gears, just three floor pedals. Above is a 1926 Model "T" tudor. (Ford Museum)

To read other blog comments, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right column under links. You will not get a virus. Jim McAllister writes for the Arizona Republic.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Black history v. illegal immigrants

When slavery was abolished in the United States in the 1860's, it was a blessing to a multitude of black people who had previously been "owned" by wealthy Southern landowners. However, were those people really "free"? Freedom did not suddenly mean equality and respect even though most ex-slaves were United States citizens.

In Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), the U. S. Supreme Court reinforced the constitutionality of separate but equal accommodations for blacks and whites. Homer Plessy was 1/8 black and 7/8 white and easily passed for white in the society of the day. When he boarded the "white" car as a test on a train in Louisiana, he was quickly arrested for violating the separate but equal law. The Supreme Court, in a 7-1 vote (one abstaining) upheld separate but equal and Plessy was fined for his transgression.

The case of Plessy v. Ferguson remained the law in the United States until 1954 when it was abolished via the decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. During the 58 years from 1896 to 1954, accommodations of blacks and whites were anything but separate and equal. Public restrooms for whites were more like what you would see off the ballroom at the Phoenician while black restrooms were more like what would be in a downtown Greyhound bus station. If you were black and went to a movie theater, you sat in the balcony and entered and left by a separate entrance.

Black citizens also suffered indignities in show business playing mainly servant roles with names like "Snowflake" or as derisive characters who bowed to the white man and were considered fools. Willie Best and Stepin Fetchit were good examples of actors from those times. Remember, these people were United States citizens.

Fast forward to 2010. Black citizens must laugh when they see illegal immigrants marching in the streets demanding their "rights" while they receive free medical attention, free schooling, and various other benefits that cost tax paying Americans millions. In addition, nine privately owned immigration detention centers across the U. S. will soon start to receive government funding to give illegals continental breakfasts, bingo, and art classes. They will also have some nice carrot sticks to munch on along with free phone service, dancing lessons, and some hanging plants to make the facility a bit nicer. I wonder what Homer Plessy would think of this. Read about it here.

The comedian Yakov Smirnoff was right when he looked at the U. S. and declared, "What a country!"

To read the other 90 comments or add your comment, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right column under links. You will not get a virus. Jim McAllister is a columnist for the Scottsdale Republic in Arizona.