Friday, March 30, 2012

Having Quite A Day!

Having Quite A Day!

March 30, 2012

By Julie Kay Smithson

I'm having quite a day today, dealing with acronyms and abbreviations, as well as upper- and lower-case word spellings -- all in one article, or in this case, two, articles!

One, from an Arizona newspaper, referenced SARA Park, which I researched in order to learn that "SARA" means "Special Activity and Recreation Area" and is land owned by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), but managed by Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Wait until the BLM's "Travel Management Plan" comes to town!!!

I phoned the editor of the Arizona paper for clarification of the meaning, and even she didn't know! Thirty minutes later, I phoned her back and explained that I'd found the meaning. Imagine how readers of this article must feel -- especially those that may vacation in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, or other nearby places -- when they read something that looks like someone's name in "ALL CAPS"!

The other article, from North Dakota, refers to SAM (South America), HRS (Hard Red Spring - wheat) and HRW (Hard Red Winter - wheat), as well as "hedges" and "stocks," which -- in the case of this particular article, are stock market trading terms. Also used without explanation -- or being first spelled out -- were "ND," "TX" and "NOT." In the first two, what was meant was North Dakota and Texas; in the third, the word was "not" and had been capitalized for emphasis rather than italicizing.

The reason given by someone in the North Dakota publication's office was: "We only have so many words available for each article, so we shorten things up as much as possible." That's great -- if readers know what is meant by such acronyms, abbreviations and words emphasized by "ALL CAPS," but sure thwarts a fully-understood article to many others.

There is a handy website for deciphering some of these buggers: -- but even that website does not offer a comprehensive list, especially when some acronyms and abbreviations are created and used only by locals, but are not in the national vernacular.

Please, if you desire to have your writing understood, and not have readers scratching their heads like they're making a commercial for a dandruff shampoo, always spell things out the first time you use them, spell check and check for correct grammar (to, too, two; your vs. you're; lose vs. loose, etc.). After all, you not only want others to read what you've written -- you also want them to understand!

Monday, March 5, 2012

That's the sound of the men, women and children working on the chain gang ...

That's the sound of the men, women and children working on the chain gang ...

March 5, 2012

By Julie Kay Smithson

Begging the late, great Sam Cooke's pardon, the classic song he and Charles Cooke co-wrote may soon be revised to reflect twenty-first century servitude.

With barely a whimper, America -- and many other world nations -- has joined a march that is reminiscent of this great 1960 pop song. Those in charge of "fiscal spending" have been so eager to skim AMAP (as much as possible) under several guises, have created a scenario eerily similar to Great Depression days.

Today's unemployed may not 'ride the rails' -- after all, the heavily subsidized railroads no longer pass through rural neighborhoods where kindhearted folk dare share meals with hobos whose presence may signal something far more ominous than a simple meal in the offing.

As the number of acres planted to food- and fiber-growing crops in America shrinks -- but is expected to grow more per acre to feed/shelter more consumers per acre -- the regulatory burden on America's farmers, ranchers, lumberers, etc., increases exponentially. The average age of resource providers is, itself, aging, as America's youth seeks another means of making a living, one that barely resembles the dreams and goals of just a generation or two ago.

Like the doctor of old, who did not specialize in any one facet of medicine, but who practiced most -- resource providers no longer "just farm" or "just ranch." Instead, many of today's rural families boast several children and grandchildren with a variety of college degrees in many areas of expertise. Just managing the farm finances means having a savvy set of eyes trained on that one area of knowledge. Another might be the health and well-being of the farm's livestock. A third could be the marketing arenas in which the farm competes.

Meanwhile, in distant Washington, D.C., the wheels of government still grind. Unfortunately for many, those wheels seem to be forcing the outsourcing of natural resource utilization to other countries, countries whose bar is not set by federal agencies enforcing legislation like the "Endangered Species Act," "Clean Water Act," "Clean Air Act," etc.

One example is Energy Recovery, Inc., whose March 5, 2012, article, touts two major mining plants in Chile where "The mining industry in Chile is growing. We are pleased that, to date, ERI has been selected for the vast majority of desalination projects in Chile for mining applications."

As the American tax base is further eroded by land leaving the tax rolls -- in the form of more national parks and other non-producing resource areas -- American camels (taxpayers) feel the straw burden steadily increasing, expecting them to 'take up the slack.' There is little wiggle room left.

"The news" reports almost daily of the staggering number of homes in foreclosure, their owners set out like non-paying renters. Where does this leave a growing number of people -- who owe debts, but no longer have homes, jobs, etc., to show for their labors?

Enter the modern-day version of the chain gang -- low-wage, little-or-no benefits jobs that are snapped up by those in dire straits, needing "almost any job" just to keep the wolf pack from the rented door. Plastic -- in the form of credit cards -- has been made so easy to use that record numbers of people are now ball-and-chained to the owners of their cards.

Is there a cure for this situation and the ever-mounting debt burden impinging upon every man, woman and child, and all "future generations"? I believe in miracles, though these hurdles may seem insurmountable. One requirement is to learn how to climb from that hole in which many of us find ourselves. It seems simplistic, but the sage advice: "Stop digging!" is a great start. People do not need government to coddle them and wrap them in unrealistic safety measures. Instead, people need to dust off those overtaxed brains and engage them in optimistic, independent, 'strait and narrow' goal-setting. We do not need a 'nanny state.' We need far less than we've come to think is required in our lives.

One excellent way to show the difference between continuing down the slippery slope to "future third world country" is to make two lists. One list shows the things we actually need. The other -- and the one most painful to face -- itemizes the things we merely want, or thing we must have.

The old Sam Cooke song may be easy to sing along with, but it's not a scenario we'd want to live. In the fifty years since the song, "Chain Gang," first hit the radio airwaves, we've been on a collision course with that chain gang. It's time to decide whether to put our entire families to work on the 'chain gang' -- or to learn to live a different, better way.

795 words.

Jobs, Votes and Economic Climate Change

Jobs, Votes and Economic Climate Change

March 5, 2012

By Julie Kay Smithson

Oil sands and hydraulic fracturing (aka "fracking") corporations may offer employment, but at what cost? The pros and cons of such work/jobs as those being dangled like carrots in front of people -- whose former good jobs were outsourced to the other side of the world -- should be carefully screened to discern if your potential employer is offering you FCH (future compromised health).

If more people had known that coal mining result in black lung, would they have been so eager to let the wealthy mine owners get rich off the forsaking of others' health? Who are those "future generations" to which career politicians so glibly refer? It seems that it is during desperate economic times (engineered by the most vulgar greed at the 'highest' earthly levels of human power such as Rupert Murdoch and others of his ilk. Your life (health) is your ultimate property right!

Desperate people will take jobs out of desperation, jobs they would never consider, were America's economic times better.

I note, on Election Day Eve, that career politicians whose nests in Washington, D.C., are deeply feathered from the plucking of many good, honest, hardworking folks in their constituencies -- that they continue to parrot the same old political placating phrases "I'm going to 'change' Washington" is but one.

No one currently running for office as a state or Washington, D.C. encumbent -- and by so doing is absent with pay from the very job he/she promised voters to do well -- should receive a single vote.

Political contributions to such career politicians, from those offering such jobs, should be a major consideration before casting one's vote.

273 words.