Wednesday Wisps

July 1, 2009

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The big news story of last week was the death of pop icon Michael Jackson at age 50.  News accounts have indicated that Jackson left behind $400 million.  Jackson’s estate does, of course, contain some valuable assets.  Most notable is his music portfolio, which includes his own music, as well as a portion of royalties from The Beatles.  The day after his death, 9 of the 10 most downloaded iTunes albums were Jackon’s.  This also underscores the ability of digital content providers to be able to seamlessly adjust to spikes in demand.  If stores like Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and Sam Goody sold out of Jackson CDs, they would not be able to satisfy the demand until they were able to restock.  Since the demand will likely dissipate as time passes, they will likely lose some of the impulse sales.  Digital providers such as iTunes are immune from this.  iTunes can’t “sell out” of a CD.  They just throw more hardware into the iTunes Music Store to handle the spike in volume.

Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff was sentence to 150 years in prison.  If Madoff serves the entire sentence, he would be 221 years old when he is released.  Essentially, the judge gave Madoff a life sentence.  Madoff will likely spend his remaining years in a medium security prison (a prison with bars on the windows and a fence) rather than a country club of a minimum security prison, due to the length of the sentence and the corresponding flight risk.  The judge also ruled that Madoff must also forfeit $171 billion.  It seems impossible that such a large amount will be recovered.

Minnesota finally has a winner in their Senate race.  The state supreme court unanimously declared Al Franken to be the winner, and challenger Norm Coleman has given up his fight.  The win by Franken mkaes it easier for the Democrats to invoke cloture (a procedure to end a filibuster and force a vote on an issue; 60 votes are required for cloture).  I have a question, though – does Franken get paid the salary of a Senator for the last 8 months?  Or does the money that was allocated to his salary go somewhere else (Chrysler, perhaps?).  I wrote a humorous article about the Minnesota Senate situation a couple of months ago.

Another Airbus jet suffered a deadly ocean crash.  This time, a Yemeni jet plunged into the Indian Ocean with 153 people on board.  At the time this story was written, one child had been found alive, and authorities were hoping that other survivors would be found.  The Airbus jet involved is this crash is a different model that the Brazilian jet that crashed on June 1, leaving no survivors.

South Carolina governor Mark Sanford admitted having an affair with a woman in Argentina.  This came to light after Sanford recently was unreachable by his staff.  As it turned out, he was in Argentina at the time.  Many politicians include Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer, have called for Sanford to step down.  If Sanford does step down, Bauer would stand to gain the most.  He would become governor, and this would greatly aid his 2010 run for the office, as he would be elevated to incumbent without being voted into the office.

Manny Ramirez will rejoin the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday, after a 50 game drug related suspension.  Ramirez has played 5 games in the minor leagues in an effort to get back into playing shape.  I disagree with this aspect of the suspension.  Some would argue that preventing a player from playing in the minors during the suspension would essentially turn a 50 games suspension into a 55-60 game suspension.  My opinion is that if the player can’t hitting the ground running on day 1 after the suspension, that’s his problem, not mine.  He should not be allowed to play any games during the suspension, whether it be in the minors or majors.

Minnesota’s plan to cut government spending

March 11, 2009

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Note: this is a work of fiction. A longer disclaimer can be found at the end of the piece.

The Soap Boxers was stunned to learn that the governor of Minnesota has suggested a radical cost savings plan – having the US Senate shrink its membership to just fifty members – one from each state.

We smelled a great story and sent resident bloodhound Scoop Chevelle to the frozen tundra to check the story out. Scoop arrived at the governor’s mansion on a snowmobile-driven carriage and was granted an audience with His Lordship, the Governor of Minnesota, Tom Lawplenty.

SC: My Lord Governor. It is a pleasure to finally meet you.

Gov: Scooter, let’s get rid of the formality. You may simply call me lord.

SC: Yes, lord. Some representatives of other states have suggested that this plan to reduce the US Senate to 50 members from its present membership of 99 is simply a ploy to return Minnesota to full representation in the Senate to avoid having the courts settle the Franken/Coleman election.

Gov: What a load of hogwash, Scooby. Obviously, the Frankenstein / Coolman issue will be resolved within the next few days. My only agenda is to reduce the cost of government to the fine taxpayers of the United States. I believe each senator is paid five million dollars per year. Cutting fifty senate positions would thus save taxpayers three billion dollars each year!

SC: Actually, I’m pretty sure they make $174,000. Reducing fifty senators would save $8,700,000.

Gov: Skippy, don’t try to confuse the taxpayers with that deceptive “new math” you New York folks are slinging around. Consider also that each senator has a staff of three hundred, eight chefs, a barbershop quartet, and a dog groomer. We’re a talking about tens of thousands of positions that could be eliminated, at a savings of seven trillion dollars.

SC: I think those numbers may be based on some inaccurate information, my lord.

Gov: Also, Sarah, this plan would finally put an end to the senate hazing.

SC: Hazing?

Gov: Oh, yes, Sally. You would not believe the hazing that occurs. The senior senators from each state treat the junior senators very poorly. The cut ahead of them in line at the cafeteria, steal their lunch money, flush their heads down the toilet, shove them into lockers. It really isn’t pretty.

SC: Well, this is definitely an, um, enlightened viewpoint. Do you have anything else to add?

Gov: Oh, yes, Wendy. We should not stop there. We should also reduce the House of Representatives by half.

SC: How would this be feasible? Some states have an odd number of representatives.

Gov: Well, Amy, we could handle this like King Solomon and chop someone in half. Ha. ha, ha. I’m just kidding. If a state had seven representatives, they would have four representatives during one session of congress and three during the next session of congress.

SC: How would you handle Wyoming, with its single representative?

Gov: Oh, that’s very easy, Jasmine. Wyoming would have one representative half the time and zero representatives half the time.

SC: Lord, are you seriously proposing taxation without representation for the citizens of Wyoming?

Gov: Ha, ha, ha. Where would you ever gets such a crazy idea, Crystal? Of course not. I’m Mr. e pluribus unum himself. Carpe diem and salve regina!

SC [visibly confused]: Well, there you have it, America. This is Scoop Chevelle, reporting to you from the heartland of America.

Note: This is a work of fiction. It has minimal basis in fact. I believe the only facts are that Norm Franken and Norm Coleman are indeed still locked in a court battle surrounding their senate race, and that there are snowmobiles in Minnesota. I have altered the name of the Governor of Minnesota to reflect the fictional nature (and to avoid having him hunt me down and punch me in the face). The character of Lord Governor Lawplenty does not share core values with the real governor of the state, nor does he represent the fine citizens of Minnesota in any way.

People of Minnesota (and Wyoming): please, no hate mail . Give me enough time, and I will eventually take shots at all 50 states. I have already written an Oregon article (click the “Humor” link on the right side of the screen)