Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Gouged At The Pumps For A Reason

Well, it's finally happened. They are now beginning to tell us that the prices at the pumps are approaching an all time high. It should happen this week. To this I say "No S--t, Sherlock!"

The P.R. people from the Energy Department has been trying to convince us for weeks now that the record was set in March of 1981 when the price of a gallon of gasoline peaked at $1.417. Adjusted for inflation at today's dollars that price would be $3.223. Well I'm here to tell you I don't care about inflation even though it's an evil we have to live with. We all know that there is a helluva difference from $1.41 versus the $3.19 we're paying around here. Truth is 26 years ago I was earning more money than I am today. I got laid off from that good paying job and now work another but inflation didn't dig so deep in my pockets then as it is now.

While oil companies continue to rake in obscene profits they and the Washington politicians try to salve our feelings with various reasons why gas prices are going up. We hear about lack of refining capacity, catastrophic weather, war, etc...etc... I'm beginning to think if they hear someone fart near an oil well they jack the price up a little more. They haven't one concern about the effects of raising the price gas. They don't care that when gas goes up groceries follow along. Instead they tell us that the unemployment rate is down, wages are up and people have more disposable income. Just remember that all comes from accountants that use pencils to do their calculations. Many of those accountants work for our national administration. Their jobs depend on making us feel good while the we suffer. They try to ease our pain.

I may be getting whacko here but I'm beginning to wonder if there isn't something more cynical behind the reason of rising gas prices. Is it all political with the growing discontent with the wars in the Mid-East? Back when Clinton was in office it was said it was better to leave Saddam H alone rather than upset the status quo of a whole region. That's all changed and now there doesn't appear to be any way to get gracefully out of what Bush started. There is growing talk of impeachment. There is a huge anti-sentiment at the loss of life and limb and the money we're pouring into America's efforts over there. It's not only in this country.

There is an old adage that when you want to hurt a man you attack his wallet. I wonder if this is what is going on. We're having to dig deeper to pay for gas and other things. It's hurting us and we're looking for whom to blame. The folks that control the flow of oil damn well know this. They can cut back production at a flip of a switch and put a hurting on a whole lot of us. In turn we're going to remember this especially at election time. Do you think it's political?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

"Boob Tube" Babies II

For some reason the computer gremlins caused a glitch for this post and readers could not make comments. So, I'm running it again in hopes that whatever it was got straightened out. Below is my original post. If this don't work I'm giving up on this one.


A couple of weeks ago the thought for the day in the papers was a quotation from Canadian born educator Laurence J. Peter (1919-1990). The late Dr. Peter was a Doctor of Education out on the West Coast and his main claim to fame was the formulation of the Peter Principle. His thought for the day was "Television has changed the American child from an irresistible force into an immovable object".

On the same day that Dr. Peter's quote was in the paper it was noted that 46 years ago on May 9, 1961, FCC Chairman Newton N. Minow condemned television programming as a "vast wasteland" in a speech to the National Association of Broadcasters. Mr. Minow was a lawyer by trade, was appointed FCC Chairman by JFK and was later the first chairman of PBS. He was not a popular man with Hollywood producers and screen writers. The ill fated boat of Gilligan's Island was named the S.S. Minnow as a slam toward the man.

All of this got me thinking about one of my favorite pet peeves and I decided to do a little research into the effects of television on the human brain. Lord, I could have spent months going through all that has been written. When I Googled "effects on children, television, thinking, logic" the search engine came back with 1.14 million results. As you can see there is a wealth of information available on the subject.

The name "Boob Tube" for television is not an original with me. It's been in use for years. I first experienced the effects some thirty years ago when I was assigned the task to help train younger new hire peers on how to do my job. The job wasn't difficult if you logically proceeded from step 1 through the succeeding steps to the end. The procedure wasn't difficult. However, the kids were having problems following the steps even after they had written them down. They would forget to check their notes! I thought my God, this is the future of our country. Since then I have found it is rare to find a kid that is the exception to the rule. There are some but they are few and far in between. It is especially evident in this area with the lack of good paying available jobs and that leads to brain drain of our best and brightest.

Researchers have found that television can lead to a physically altered brain because it is a passive activity. Parking a kid in front of a t.v. to get them out of your hair is doing more harm than many people would think. Once a child that grew up with heavy doses of television viewing gets to adulthood they have trouble trying to figure things out rationally. They have difficulty thinking in abstractions such as cause and effect. School districts are finding they have to spend increasing amounts of their budgets for remedial training. Psychologist Jane Healy, author of Endangered Minds: Why Children Don't Think & What Can Be Done About It, says it's not the teachers or school's fault. By the time a child exposed to a lot to television viewing reaches school age they have problems understanding and grasping the basic elements of their educational regime.

When reading printed word a person can stop and think about what they have just read. They can kick it around in their mind as to why and what they just read. Then they can continue on reading more. Television doesn't allow for that. It thinks for you and moves on rapidly not giving you time to decipher the subject. Once a subject flashes by on television it's gone and they're moving on to the next segment. With the printed word you can cogitate all the time you want before moving on. You have time to think in abstractions as to the cause & effect of what you just read without worrying about missing the next scene.

In addition to the mental problems there is a litany of physical ones that can be attributed to being a "couch potato" television fan. Obesity which can lead to many ailments is chief among them. If you got your butt glued to the seat you're not burning calories that would normally be used up in other activities. Obesity can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure and foot and knee problems caused by the weight you're carrying. British psychologist Dr. Aric Sigman wrote a book entitled Remotely Controlled. He did a vast study of medical and other professional reports from around the world for his research. In it he also said that a heavy television schedule can lead to vision problems, sleep problems, autism, lack of concentration and Attention Deficit Disorders. ADD was virtually unheard of before the rise of television. Dr. Sigman suggest that parents ration television time and participate in what the child is viewing explaining real life situations versus what's shown on the tube. He also thinks that televisions should come with warning labels about the risks much the same as is on cigarette packs and bottles of booze.

Television was invented by engineer John Logie Baird (1888-1946) on October 2, 1925, in Glascow, Scotland. I wonder if he foresaw the problems his invention would bring to society. I doubt it. I barely touched on the social ills that many people attribute to television. I could go on and on but hopefully you get the gist. Hit the off button and get active.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Thoughts Bouncing Off My Window II

Did you happen to catch the piece last month of the opening of Fisher Mini Barns distribution place in Negley? It is runned by Wellsville native Paul Monte. Although I wish he would have located in the 'ville I would like to wish Paul good luck with his new business. I think Paul is one of the sons of the late Sam Monte clan that ruled the upper end of Commerce Street years ago.

Also I would like to extend well wishes to the folks of St. Francis Animal Shelter for their continuing efforts to get the village dog pound up and running. Sadly it is something that is very much needed in town and I'm grateful they stepped up when the village could no longer afford to run a pound. The people of the shelter have toiled long and hard to make this a reality.

Kudos also have to go out to Nunzio Lombardozzi and the Fix-Up, Clean-Up Committee for once again helping to clean up some of our unsightly messes. This is truly a community effort by all involved. They meet the first Saturday of the month from 10AM - 2PM. If you're free and want to get involved I think they meet at Village Hall to get started.

Well, the primary has come and gone and the stage is set for the November elections. County wide the voter turn out was only 12.5%. If you were part of the apathetic 87.5% that didn't bother to vote you should be ashamed of yourself. Unless you're actually one of the winning candidates, voting in any election is your strongest voice you have in having a say on how things are run, whether it is local, county, state or national. I don't know how many people are registered in Wellsville but there were only a total of 856 votes cast for council. That doesn't seem like much to me. Incidentally, Joe Soldano was the only candidate that knocked on my door. His efforts got him the most votes of all the other contenders for council. I was sorry to see Diane Dinch lose. Although there was a lot I didn't agree with her about she did bring another voice to the table.

The "politicking" has already begun for the mayor's race. It was reported that at last night's council meeting Independent Mayoral Candidate and current Street Committee Chairman Don Brown and Joe Surace exchanged words about last week's meeting for the new road from Wellsville Terminals. Mr. Brown said he did not know about the meeting. Oversight? I think not. If you know Don Brown you know he is very easy to find and if nothing else he is very accessible. Keep tuned. It's already beginning to look like a very interesting race for the mayor's job is beginning to take shape.

Speaking of the Wellsville Terminals a meeting was held last week to get things kicked off for the building of a new half mile road for the coal buckets to exit the Wellsville Terminals & the tankers from Marathon. Preliminary cost studies have been done and ideas kicked around for grant applications and other ways to pay for the project. It was explained that there isn't enough space to make the street a two way avenue. There's a lot of entities involved in this project. Maybe at the next meeting they will include the Street Committee.

It seems Wellsville Terminals are getting serious about controlling the drag out. They are going to do some paving to enhance the clean up of the dust, install trenches and bigger water pipes to the truck wash and planning a better sprinkling system to hold the dust down. They are even using some kind of chemical dust retardant to hold the dust down. It's lime green in color and it got some of the residents in that neighborhood concerned that it might be toxic. After checking it out thoroughly the Fire Dept. said it was harmless. From what was reported in the papers the folks at Wellsville Terminals were spraying it on a little too thick and some of it got out on Nevada Street.

What's going on with County Prosecutor Robert Herron asking the state to appoint a special prosecutor for Wellsville's Ed Wilson & Bob Morehead? Morehead, a Wellsville native, is our County Health Board Chairman. Ed Wilson has already been tried and acquitted of any drug charges. Wouldn't it be double jeopardy to bring that up again? Let it go. Morehead was previously investigated for improper use of a Health Board credit card. There was a finding for recovery of some five thousand dollars and if memory serves me correctly Mr. Morehead agreed to repay that amount. So what's going on here? I think there is a lot not being said and have a feeling that there is something going on behind closed doors. It will be interesting to see what comes from all this. The State Auditor refused to act on Officer Wilson but did appoint a special prosecutor for Morehead's shenanigan.

Finally, I would like to comment about 31 year old Salem resident Richard Elrod. It was reported in the Morning Journal last week that he was caught and admitted to keying a car because it was decorated with Pittsburgh Steeler's stuff. Here's a man that needs to get a life. With all that's goes on within our world this bone head gets incensed with Steeler decorations on a car. It's not even football season. He obviously has issues.

Monday, May 7, 2007

WKRP,Opps,WKMX In Wellsville

This story reminds me of the old t.v. sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati. You will recall that Terry Brown and his AM radio station WKMX was welcomed with open arms to our village. It was the first time in Wellsville history that we had a radio station within the village limits. When I read about it even I was excited. Being an old fart I was born and reared in the radio era. Seems I would rather have a radio playing in the background than sitting watching the boob tube most of the time.

WKMX was originally started locally by a fellow named Terry Brown. Mr. Brown first came to notice as the owner of Sitaclabs and opened a shop on 5th Street in East Liverpool. Sitaclabs performed such services as computer repair & sales. Later on they offered to sell items on e-bay for those of us that didn't want to go through the trouble.

Mr. Brown hit the ground running and soon after opening his shop started up WKMX in East Liverpool. He was hailed by the East Liverpool Business Association as a town hero when the powers-that-be converted WOHI to an ESPN station. Then he came to Wellsville and opened a station in town. He was given free use of the old liquor store for his studio. We even had our own Johnny Fever with popular local d.j. Skip Hamilton hosting "Skip's Diner" playing oldies two nights a week.

In an article by Youngstown Vindicator correspondent Gail White published on February 4, 2007, Mr. Brown was quoted as saying that WKMX was hosted by a server in the United Kingdom that he could control from anywhere via the internet. He also said he had a 10 foot antenna that could broadcast just under two miles on AM frequency 1620. The article went on to say that he petitioned the FCC for a license and WKMX was born.

On April 9, 2007, the FCC Enforcement Bureau, Northeast Rgion, Detroit Office, issued a "Notice of Unlicensed Operation" to Terry Brown, Wellsville, Ohio. The notice stated that the "Commission's records show that no license was issued for operation of a broadcast station on 1620 kHz..." It went on to state that the station was emitting far more power than what was permitted in Part 15 of the Commission's rules which "constitutes a violation of the Federal laws". In all caps the notice stated "UNLICENSED OPERATION OF THIS RADIO STATION MUST BE DISCONTINUED IMMEDIATELY'. The FCC is the Federal Communications Commission which governs all types of broadcast communications from television down to CB radios.

Even back in the 70s I recall that the FCC demanded that anyone using a CB radio be licensed. It was mostly ignored. Although I'm not an expert on FCC rules and regulations I find it hard to believe that they would issue the same call letters for two different stations. WKMX is the call letters of a long time established FM radio station in Enterprise, Alabama. Part 15 of the Commissions rules allows for a licensed station to broadcast using a maximum of 1/10th watt output. KDKA Radio in Pittsburgh uses 50,000 watts for their broadcasts. Legitimate Part 15 stations are called Low Power AM broadcasting stations that are mostly popular in small town communties by community groups or as toys for radio hobbyists. On the web site the comments stated that Mr. Brown was using a grossly illegal transmitter or antenna. The call letters could not be found in the FCC register for AM stations and he did a good job of fooling the people into thinking he was licensed.

So what's the story here? Did Mr. Brown bring a farce to town to exploit the small town bumpkins for a few advertising dollars? Did he mean to apply for a license and just forgot to mail in the paper work? These are probably questions we'll never know the answers to. Personally speaking I could never pick up the station on AM 1620 nor could I get the internet stream on my computer. After coming across the FCC Notice I noticed that the web site is gone along with the one for Sitaclabs. Once again Wellsville does not have a radio station to call our own. WKRP was always known as a fictional radio station created by writers for a television show. Now we can say we had our own fictional radio station.