Would one of YOUR Grandparents make a good President of the United States?

Excuse my logic but given the current crop of presidential candidates, namely Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump isn’t it time that we add a constitutional amendment that sets an age ceiling on someone’s holding the office of president of the United States.

Both candidates are approaching the age of 70 and there have been serious questions raised about both candidates’ health.

Their performance during this campaign seems to justify the concern over their age.  Trump blasts everyone in sight like an angry old man.  

In the case of Clinton she is caught in a classic catch 22.  When people voice concerns over her health citing the infamous fall she took shortly before she was to testify in a Benghazi hearing her staff insists there’s no cause for concern.  She used that fall and the ensuing “confusion” she claimed to be suffering as an excuse to dodge the hearing.  Yet now her staff  insists she is fine.  If she didn’t fall at all, then she lied to the public several years ago.  If she did in fact fall then there is good reason to believe that she may have suffered a concussion with long lasting repercussions.

Ronald Reagan was 70 years old when he took office.  By the time he was well into his second term and now in his mid to late 70s I recall hearing stories that he would sometimes nod off right in the middle of Cabinet meetings.

In this author’s opinion both candidates seem to repeat the same tired ideas and the same boring rhetoric day in and day out.  Furthermore the campaign has reduced itself to two candidates who spend most of their time chastising one another, sort of like two little kids each mad that they are not getting their way.  It is a known fact that when people reach advancing age they often revert to behaving like children.  The evidence that these two candidates are acting just that way is on daily display.

Given the complex problems of our country and the world, especially in areas of environmental destruction, terrorism, famine and economic instability we don’t need tired old hacks to run our country.  We need the vitality, energy and imagination that comes with youth. 

Let’s put a maximum age on serving as President of the United States NOW.

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The “real” Donald Trump slogan

Having watched Donald Trump seemingly insult his way to the Republican nomination for the 2016 presidential election I think his real campaign slogan should be “make America hate again.”

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What a Difference a Simple . Makes

Excuse my logic but on this the weekend of this year’s Super Bowl I thought this was the best time to share an observation. Admittedly this thought has nothing to do with the two teams playing this year.

It concerns those Tag Heuer Advertisements that feature New England Patriots’ Quarterback Tom Brady.  I would love to post the photo of this ad but for copyright reasons thought it better not to. We have these billboards all over New Jersey.

The billboard shows a picture of a uniformed Tom Brady with the slogan #Don’t Crack Under Pressure. Wouldn’t it be interesting if a simple period (punctuation mark that is) was added between the words “Crack” and “Under” in this ad? It would become “Don’t Crack. Under Pressure.”  Under would become an adverb for the verb pressure as in under inflate.  I don’t think any further explanation is necessary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Don’t Just Excuse My Logic, Excuse My Absence!

First I’d like to thank those of you who were kind enough to tune into Excuse My Logic over the several years that I posted regularly. I especially appreciated those of you who commented on its content, regardless of whether you shared my opinion or not.

I took a sabbatical from posting to work on a novel that is very dear to me. It is dear to me because all the other novels I wrote and tried getting published (the last one I self published) were sort of trashy suspense stories, some of which were basically just slasher fiction.

My newest novel which I just self-published on Smashwords is titled “Two Nuts and a Bolt.” It is also dear to me because it is very personal to me. The two main characters, Skip Jack and Lance Axelrod are paranoid schizophrenics, like myself.

I do not wish to disclose any of the plot material because truthfully, I hope some of my readers will purchase the book from Smashwords, which is an affordable $.99. However I will state that it is a story with a message of hope for those who are mentally challenged. The story proffers that mentally challenged people wish to be loved just like everybody else. Even some people we as a society label as “evil” likely became that way because no one took the time to love them

The story culminates with Skip and Lance overcoming a myriad of obstacles to eventually achieve “sanity.” It is a message of hope for the mentally challenged because the underlying motif of this story is that the mentally challenged have to often work long and hard to find their place in society but can do just that if they have a passion to succeed.

Ultimately Two Nuts and a Bolt is a romantic comedy but I promise if you have a heart there are some sections that will make you cry as well.

I sincerely hope you will consider purchasing a copy and also recommending it to your friends. As for Excuse My Logic in the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, “I’ll be back.” However it may be a little while because after writing the book for two years and then the subsequent work of getting it formatted, designing a cover and finally going through the mechanics of self-publishing I am just a little winded.

However, I can state I loved every minute of it. If you do choose to read my book I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Love,

Greg

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“Celebrity Rehab” – Check in and You May “Check Out”

Several years back my family was watching Celebrity Rehab and I actually sat down for ten minutes to see what it was all about. Jeff Conaway (of whom I was a fan from his “Taxi” days) was on at that time along with other celebrities who I knew much less about. However, after only watching a few minutes of these famous people getting in each other’s faces in front of god knows how many millions of viewers I remarked to my wife very simply that any clean and sober AA member would have laughed at the absurdity of this show. Today I stand by that remark.

Alcoholics Anonymous defines alcoholism as an “illness.” AA categorically denies that alcoholism is a character defect. Now just because AA makes these statements does that mean they are irrefutable. Maybe not, but AA’s record in steering uncounted of millions of people onto a road of clean and sober is far more impressive than the record of Celebrity Rehab, which has maybe ushered hundreds of high profile clients through its doors. Hundreds, not millions.

AA prides itself on keeping members’ identities anonymous, thus its name. Is the system foolproof? Hell no. However whatever flaws may exist in its noble purpose of protecting its members anonymity, it is a far better guardian of peoples’ privacy than a television show that flaunts the identities of its suffering celebrities as if being addicted to alcohol, drugs, gambling, or love (as Mindy McCready checked in for) is cause for celebration.

How one may ask do I know about AA? I have never been a member myself but I know of people who have. Notice I am not mentioning any names. The reader wouldn’t know them anyway. They are not famous. My whole point is though that some personal problems that people are suffering are just best kept out of the limelight, whether the sufferer is famous or not. Also, as a one time member of Nicotine Anonymous another 12 step program I am quite familiar with the 12 step premise and respect greatly the idea of privacy.

Celebrity Rehab is part of the tidal wave of reality television shows that have taken the entertainment world by storm and completely changed the viewing habits of millions of people worldwide. I don’t hate all reality shows. I always found myself fond of “Undercover Boss”, “The Amazing Race” “Supernanny” and the lesser known but entertaining “Pawn Stars.”

However, Celebrity Rehab is snake oil at best, and maybe a lethal injection on the flip side. The danger I believe lies in what was mentioned above. The AA program attacks alcohol addiction as an illness. One of the basic and most important tenets of AA teaching is that the addict who is sincere about recovering must turn to their “higher power”, be that God, a “Supreme Being”, or an elevated consciousness. Human intervention alone (As good intentioned as it may be) cannot cure an addict hell bent on self destruction. It takes a radical shift in attitude on the addict’s part that AA believes is largely tied to the individual’s spirituality.

When a person signs on for Celebrity Rehab he or she is setting themselves up for possible relapse. They are inviting a complete public dissection of their private lives. They are openly admitting to a huge audience of people that they are an addict. Not everyone who watches the show is going to be non-judgemental or perceive the celebrity as a victim of his own illness. Therein is the problem. In this day of social media, mean spirited people will often take to Twitter or other online forums and skewer the celebrity. If that celebrity isn’t thick skinned it will have a disastrous effect. Although it wasn’t connected to Celebrity Rehab perhaps no other example serves to reveal the pitfalls of going public with an addiction as the case of Dana Plato. In May, 1999, one day after she was barraged with insulting callers to the Howard Stern Show on which she appeared touting her new sobriety the actress was dead, of an apparent overdose.

It should also be noted that one of the first and most important steps that AA teaches its members is that in order to achieve sobriety you must first admit to being powerless over your addiction. Extremely wealthy and popular celebrities are not generally inclined to admit they are powerless. Yet that’s the admission that is at the core of being cured. AA teaches its members to check their egos at the door. By paying celebrity addicts big money to appear on the show Celebrity Rehab is still fueling the addict’s ego, rather than questioning it.

AA and other 12 step programs such as narcotics anonymous and nicotine anonymous offer their members a fellowship. I believe Celebrity Rehab offers their participants a sinking ship.

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About Face!

Excuse my logic but death stares don’t always mean what you think.  In these troubled times, people from all walks of life are finding themselves beset by problems, sometimes overwhelming ones.  As such, may people whose lives haven’t turned out the way they had dreamed as youngsters will often give off negative vibes.  They may appear angry, tired, sad, disappointed or just downright evil.  Yet I am here to tell you that you should give these forlorn souls a second chance. 

Here are some examples of people whose paths I’ve crossed whose faces belied the soul that was within.

Some years ago, my daughters were in a local softball league.  One of their teammates, a tall lanky girl and quite a good player had a father who would come to almost all of the games. He was a worker for the local parks department so would usually show up in his work clothes.  This you will see later may have factored into his demeanor.  This father always wore a look of utter unhappiness.  As each game of the season was played I would find myself always keeping a distance from this man and praying that he wouldn’t approach me.  Then on one fateful day, he arrived for the game, a little late and walked over to the first base line and stood right next to me.  I could feel my heart palpitating.  About midway through the game, my daughter made a good defensive play in the field.  This man and I had never yet exchanged a single solitary word in all of the previous games.  “Is that your daughter?” he asked.  “She’s good.”

I turned and faced him.  His face had morphed into something completely different than I had ever seen.  He was smiling.  No, it wasn’t a gigantic ear to ear job but it was a smile nevertheless.  We struck up a conversation.  In the ensuing games, we always stood side by side. He turned out to be a really nice guy. I suspect, though I never asked him that he had to work very hard. Remember I mentioned that he always showed up to the games in work clothes.  I believe by the time he got to those late afternoon games he was probably exhausted and as such found it difficult to smile. I haven’t seen this man now in more than a decade but I will never forget him and how wrong my first impression was.

Then there was this woman who worked at an area Dunkin Donuts.  Her name was Ruth but soon after we had encountered her several times, my wife and I had appropriately (so we thought) nicknamed her “Ruthless.”

A typical exchange at the ordering counter would go something like this.  I would ask Ruth for an everything bagel with butter. She would scowl at me and ask in a screechy, cackling, witch-like voice “Do you want it plain or do you want it toasted?”  Now I am in and was back then in relatively good physical shape.  Up to that point in time I had endured my fair share of fights with other guys and usually emerged victorious.  Yet I can tell you unequivocally that Ruth frightened the hell out of me.  It got so that I would send my wife in to order figuring that she wouldn’t attack another woman but might be prone to attack me.

Time passed and we noticed Ruth no longer worked at the Dunkin Donuts. One day we were in a parking lot near that business and we heard someone calling to us. It was Ruth.  She approached us with a radiant smile.  We had never seen her smile before.  She told us how happy she was to no longer work at the Dunkin Donuts because people always treated her shabbily due to the fact that she was a white American working for people from India and some bigoted customers accused her of being some kind of traitor.  She was so gracious to us when she met us in the parking lot that we couldn’t believe it was the same person who had terrified us during so many morning coffee runs.

While on the topic of angry looking woman, there was another woman who always dropped her children off at the grammar school that my children attended.   To say her face could stop a clock was putting it mildly.  I think her expression could have made time march backwards.  My wife and I both agreed that she was scary.  Yet years later we had occasion to sit at a table with her at a school function.  She was extremely personable, self effacing and quite open in describing her life.  When we told her that we had been scared of her she burst out laughing.  She turned out to be one of the loveliest people we ever met.

The last example I offer of the bad face/good guy variety is a man who lives across the street from a woman who I do some part time work for.  He used to always insult the woman’s dilapidated looking mailbox. Also on one occasion he gave me a bad impression when I was bragging to him about the wonderful chiropractor I go to.  He sarcastically observed that the best chiropractor was “staying healthy.”  In the ensuing months I always shied away from this man but then due to our close proximity it became inevitable that we interact.  When he would joke about the old mailbox I would joke back instead of taking it to heart.  Gradually a friendship was forged.  I have learned over time that he endured some tough times during his working years.  I have also learned that he is actually a very nice guy.

This you can’t judge a book by its cover phenomenon in reading peoples’ faces works both ways though.

We knew this young boy years ago who had a very attractive mother.  We liked the mother then and still do.  However one day, the boy uttered a line that I will never forget. We told him how beautiful his mother was and he quipped “Oh sure, but behind all that pretty makeup she can be a real terror!”  Right then I realized the truth to that line which was the title of a successful television show.  Kids really do say the darndest things.     

 

 

Copyright 2012; Greg S.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Major League Baseball – Things are Looking Up

Excuse my logic but as both a baseball purist and as a human being the way this Major League Baseball (MLB) season has played out has delighted me and restored my faith that the game still has an element of sports about it.

I think the ultimate story is the triumph of the Detroit Tigers.  Despite having one of the worst records of all the teams to make the playoffs they emerged victorious and are now in the World Series.  Miguel Cabrera won the first triple-crown since Carl Yastrzemski did it more than 40 years ago.  This achievement alone is a once in a lifetime event for many fans to see.  Yet what overshadows Miggy’s accomplishment is what this season can do to uplift the spirits of the people of Detroit.  Just two years ago or so, I recall reading how in that city alone, some 9,000 properties were in foreclosure.  The total acreage in foreclosure was equal to the size of Manhattan!  It was suggested by some in the media that many professional athletes might not even want to play for a Detroit team in any sport for fear that people there couldn’t afford to go to professional sporting events.  What professional athlete wants to play before a half full stadium or arena?

Yet here are the Tigers now, at the pinnacle of baseball success.  Detroit needed this shot in the arm badly and Jim Leyland and company delivered it to them.

There were other feel good stories in MLB this year.  The Saint Louis Cardinals lost their franchise player, one Albert Pujols and their veteran manager Tony La Russa who had guided them to two World Series championships in the past decade.  As well, they like the Tigers had the lowest winning percentage of any playoff bound teams.  Yet they made it to the National League Championship Series and almost knocked off the San Francisco Giants. 

Then consider some of the other teams that made it to the playoffs.  The Washington Nationals, Cincinnati Reds and Baltimore Orioles had all endured many lackluster seasons this past decade but found themselves’ in the hunt for the title.

Parity has at long last seemingly come back to the game. That juggernaut known as the New York Yankees has learned that the World Series trophy is not simply for sale to the highest bidder.  Similarly, the Los Angeles Dodgers or Los Angeles Angels with all their money can’t just buy the championship either.  Baseball has once again become a sport where the team with the most heart and soul can rise to the top.

For baseball, which was tarnished more than any other sport by admitted steroid use amongst even some of its most revered players the winds of change have been long overdue.  MLB has gotten tough with dopers as evidenced by the suspensions, sometimes as much as 50 games handed down to users.  Equally important though is the fact that it is truly a competition where anyone can win and true competition is the essence of any activity we call sports.

 

Copyright 2012; Greg S.  

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The Presidential Halo Effect

He is often labeled “The Most Powerful Man on Earth.”  He is also the recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize.  Excuse my logic, but seriously folks, are we going to label him Saint Obama?

If the photos tell the story maybe he’s already been canonized.

What I am getting at are photos that anyone who likes to Google can find that show some of our recent presidents with what appear to be halos above their heads.

Upon close inspection the viewer will quickly realize that the “halo” is nothing more than the blurred image of the presidential seal that is hung behind the president’s podium whenever he addresses the media or other official gatherings.

Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and now President Obama have all been immortalized with halo photos as shown below.

Now I am really impartial as far as President Obama is concerned.  I am not his biggest fan but then again I am not a detractor. So when I first saw a halo photo last year the skeptical journalistic side of me was fuming that certain liberal members of the media had deliberately shot the photo that way to imbue Obama with divine persona.

Upon calming down over this phenomenon, I started Googling and soon saw that the other aforementioned presidents had also been adorned with halos in their photos.

Once I had the chance to think the whole thing over I must confess that I think the entire staging of these photos may have some positive sides.

We live in what is still the greatest most successful country on Earth. Serving as the president of this great nation is not an easy task.  No matter what he does, there will always be some special interest group, lobbyist group or other naysayers that call him out.

When a new president is elected he rides into Washington on the wave of being picked the most popular politician in the country.  People have high hopes.  So is it surprising or even inaccurate to picture him with a halo?  After all, albeit temporarily, the new president is often regarded as a sort of messiah who will safeguard our freedoms and deliver us to a life of prosperity and security.  Of course, things don’t always turn out that way.

As well with regard to the halo, serving as president despite all the security protection he receives is a dangerous job.  Two sitting presidents have been assassinated and countless other presidents have been the target of thwarted attempts on their lives.

Thus, the office of the president is in my opinion sacrosanct.  To those who diss our country, be they Americans or others, I ask you to consider what other nation on earth has so welcomed immigrants from every walk of life and from every country the world over.  Furthermore, look at countries such as North Korea, Iran, and now in particular Syria.  Their records on human rights are atrocious.  We in America like to complain when one of our civil rights is trampled on.  Yet unlike Syria and other countries our president doesn’t employ secret hit squads to mow down anyone who opposes him.  Here we are free to speak our mind and assemble peacefully to protest that which we don’t like about our government.

In recent years our past presidents and current one, have never been caught being drunk or impaired while on the job. Each of them has had to live in the huge fishbowl existence that the modern day media has created and have all behaved admirably well with grace under pressure.

In short, while someone reading this may not think that our current president or any specific past presidents are holy figures, the office of the President itself is a sacred spot.

Pictured below are some of our presidents wearing halos.  If you want to have a little fun, picture what some of the distant past presidents would have looked like wearing one. In particular, I think Martin Van Buren would have looked hideous with one.

Here’s to the presidency and God Bless America.

Copyright 2012; Greg S.

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Do Gas Prices Have You “Fuming”? Don’t Blame Your Gas Station

Excuse my logic but this post aims to dispel some of the myths concerning gas stations.

For starters it is a prevailing belief among many consumers that individual filling stations “price gouge” and are making huge profits.  The reality of this is that the big profits are made at the wholesale level.  In other words, the big oil companies are reaping tremendous profits – hitting all time high levels as you read this.  I have spoken to several independent gas station owners and they claim that the average retail station makes anywhere from $.10 to $.18 per gallon profit, which given today’s retail prices translates into between 2 and 6 percent.

In fact, many gas stations in recent years have found it absolutely necessary to add convenience stores at their facility.  This is not a measure of greed where the owner is just trying to make more and more money. It is a matter of survival.  How can a business make only 5 or 6 percent profit on gas and cover all the overhead, salaries, property taxes, etc.?

Another misconception which I admittedly believed myself is that the 9/10 of a cent that appears at the end of per gallon prices at most stations is a cheap ploy to make you think you are getting a good deal.  In other words, and I believed this, the thinking goes that gas stations use the 9/10 of a cent ploy to make a typical consumer thinks that he’s getting a good deal if he pays $3.999 per gallon versus $4.00.  I’ve been told by a friend of mine that this practice started long before today’s ballooning gas prices.  Back in the days when gas cost pennies on the gallon this 9/10 of a cent was a big savings and the practice has just been kept as kind of a time honored tradition.

The good ol’ days when 9/10 of a cent mattered

 

Some cynical people also believe that some gas stations are guilty of selling “watered down” gas.  This is virtually impossible.  Water is heavier than gas so if it were mixed with gas it would sink straight to the bottom of the gas stations underground tank.  Furthermore, since almost all stations never pump gas from all the way at the bottom of the tank, they would never reach that dreaded water.

Many people also believe gas prices aren’t regulated enough.  I don’t know all the ins and outs of this claim however I have been told that ironically enough there are regulations in place for preventing stations from pricing their gas too LOW.    That’s right.  I said regulators want to make sure stations don’t sell their gas below cost!  “Why would anyone do that?” you may ask.  Large gas station chains could theoretically afford to sell gas at a break even level for long periods of time in order to undercut the independents who would be forced to go out of business. Then the large chains would jack their prices back up and have succeeded in eliminating their smaller pesky competitors.

The last myth I get a chuckle out of concerns the reasoning behind gas attendants almost never collecting the money until they have removed the nozzle from your tank and replaced it at the pump.  I always thought it was to guarantee that the attendant doesn’t mistakenly ask you to pay twice.  The real reason is that they are afraid that if you pay before the filling is complete you may drive off with the nozzle still in your gas tank, thereby ripping the hose from the pump and dragging it down the road with you.  As my one friend who owns a gas station remarked, “Hey, those hoses cost a lot to replace.”

 

 

Copyright 2012; Greg S.

 

 

 

 

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How Real is the Reel?

Excuse my logic but as someone who craves logic, I often find myself in the discordant position of liking a motion picture but at the same time being bothered by inaccuracies or lack of reality.

Four of my favorite films of all time have been made in the past decade. They are “Swordfish,” released in 2001; “Pearl Harbor” released in 2001; “The Ring” released in 2002 and “The Day After Tomorrow” released in 2004.

In “Swordfish,” John Travolta’s character Gabriel Shear confronts the diabolical Senator Reisman who is trout fishing in an idyllic stream.  He tells the Senator “Thomas Jefferson once shot a man on the lawn of the White House for treason.”  Historians are virtually unanimous in dismissing this as a plain falsehood. Jefferson never shot a man on the White House lawn. Travolta’s line makes for great theater as he waves his pistol and fires upon the Senator but it is pure fantasy.

In “Pearl Harbor” Franklin Delano Roosevelt is addressing the members of the House and Senate immediately after D-Day.  Someone utters the line to Roosevelt that a retalliation against Japanvery quickly would be “impossible.” The Roosevelt character pounds his hands on the table in front of him and pushes himself up into a standing position and even takes a few steps.  As we all know Roosevelt had polio and such an action would be highly unlikely. The Roosevelt character proclaims “Nothing is impossible.”  I found this scene to be incredibly stirring.  Yes, I actually loved the scene. However, then that voice of logic starts playing in my head and I realize, this just didn’t happen.

In “The Ring” the Naomi Watts character Rachel is searching Cabin 12 at Shelter Mountain and happens upon a long dormant well covered up in one of the back rooms of the cabin.  She accidentally falls down into the well where the body of Samara, the little girl whose mother pushed her down there, has been lying undisturbed for 30 years.  The incredible part of this is that Samara’s body is not decomposed. It is completely preserved.  I did a little research on this subject and found that a human body in water decomposes 2 times slower than a body exposed to air.  In a warm climate a body exposed to air can decompose as quickly as in one week. So in water, let’s say being generous a body would decompose in a matter of months.  To depict a body as not decomposing in 30 years is preposterous. Of course, this is a fictional horror story and there is such a thing as artistic license. Maybe I am just a kill joy.

In the last film mentioned above, “The Day After Tomorrow” released in 2004 we have an inaccuracy that I believe can’t be dismissed as artistic license.  When the tsunami is seen thundering toward Manhattanit closes in on the Statue of Liberty inUpper New York Bay.  The tsunami is coming out of the west (ie. from the direction of where New Jersey sits).  The problem with this is that the Statue of Liberty as mentioned is in a bay. It is not near any ocean. How would a tsunami of this size be generated from a bay?  Oh I get it. It was high tide you say.

“Surf’s Up!”

I never tire of watching these four classic movies over and over again. They have become familiar and comfortable to me, like an old pair of shoes.  However as comfy as that old pair of shoes may be, it doesn’t mean they don’t have holes.

Copyright 2012; Greg S.

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