Category Archives: Breaking News

Moral to the Story… When the Lights Go Out, Keep Them Out


On Tuesday, March 13th, 2012, I was driving into Boston to attend an event at a venue on Boylston Street. On the way in, you could see smoke bellowing from the south end of Back Bay, which is a part of Boston. At the event, the lights went out and we were told that the venue needed to shut down due to lack of power. What I didn’t know until I got outside was that the power was out as far as the eye could see. The smoke on the way in was a power sub-station in the Back Bay that was on fire. The fire took out the sub-station and resulted in a major portion of the Boston power grid to go down with it.

Fast forward to today. I had lunch at one of my favorite family-run restaurants in Boston. It is called Moby Dick House of Boston.

The owner and head chef at Moby Dick is Moti. Moti brought her family to America from Iran to pursue the freedoms that far too many of us take for granted. Moti played by the rules and always has. She came over and became part of this country legally and quickly found that making ends meet with a young family is not so easy. Some friends encouraged her to open a restaurant because her cooking was so good. As a single mother, this was not going to be an easy task. However, she decided to take the risk and opened Moby Dick. The name was based on a popular restaurant in Tehran that Moti’s family went to when she was a child. Twenty four years later, Moby Dick has become a staple in Boston for amazing home cooked Persian dishes. Moti still cooks six days a week.

One of the reasons why I go to Moby Dick is that the food is made with love. Moti greets me with a smile and I leave the rest to her. She decides on  which special I should have and she never misses. They are all amazing.

Today, something was off with Moti. She was distraught. When I asked her what was wrong, she teared up and shared a story that moved me to want to take some action. Moti told me that the power outage affected her restaurant and they had to close down. The power was down and the Boston Health Inspectors as they should, came to all the local food outlets and made them throw away any perishable foods. Moti complied before she was asked to and had to throw away thousands of dollars of food (she mentioned $15,000).

Moti has been paying for the mandated insurance for her restaurant for 24 years. She said that she has payed over $240,000 in premiums over this time and never made a claim.

Her insurance company, Travelers (and you should Tweet them if you don’t like this), has denied her claim because she opened before a seemingly arbitrary 72 hour window. Moti, playing by the rules opened her restaurant as soon as she could when the power came back on. As I mentioned, Moby Dick is a staple of that neighborhood with local residents and students. In opening hours before the 72 hour arbitrary insurance window, her Traveller’s Insurance agent says that she cannot make the claim.

She also called NStar (the power company responsible for the outage) with no luck on getting any  kind of support. Moti also mentioned that a neighboring restaurant purposely waited and stayed closed for the entire 72 hours. Apparently they knew something that Moti didn’t and they were able to make the claim.

There is something wrong in Boston when a local business plays by the rules and ultimately is penalized for this. If you agree with this, please join me in making some noise to help Moti get the respect that she has surely earned to get a resolution to this issue.

Budget Control Act of 2011


It’s hard to not be cynical on this plan. Instead of putting my spin on this plan, it is now your turn. We have great thinkers who read this blog. Let’s here from you. Here is the .pdf legislative language (all 74 pages). Have a read, tell us who is the big loser politically is and give us your comments.

PoliTalk Co-Host Nominated for Prestigious Fields Medal


Many know Jeff Kimball as the co-host of the popular PoliTalk podcast, as a featured actor in the upcoming American Jubilee movie (www.ajmovie.com), or a former aide to three US Senators. What many people don’t know is that Jeff has led a quiet life as a genetic engineer, resulting in a nomination for one of the most prestigious awards in science.

Yesterday at their bi-decamal meeting, The Fields Foundation announced that Jeff Kimball would be granted the Pioneer of Science Award. Mr. Kimball’s research focuses on the engineering the molecular structure of the Great American Horned Toad and a common Northeastern Hamster. The resulting species, The Great American Horned Toad Northeastern Hamster, or Horny Hamster, is bred for a number of practical purposes.

Recently, Mr. Kimball stunned many in the health field by unveiling the Horny Hamster’s ability to identify cancer cells. “We discovered that the Hamster, when crawling on the human body, identifies areas where cancer cells are growing by initiating a rarely seen tribal dance,” Kimball said, “It’s quite remarkable. Here you have this tiny animal crawling on the stomach of a subject, and then out of nowhere it’s as if a DJ is breaking down slamming tunes. The hamster stands on its hind legs and starts shaking to the most amazing groove. It’s just a classic shakedown, although it’s more Grateful Dead at times than anything else. Unfortunately that’s when we know the cancer is really bad.”

More controversial are the Horny Hamster’s military and national security uses. The hamster has been known to infiltrate terrorist pet shops in foreign countries, mix in with other hamsters, and then when a triggering mechanism is keyed, the hamster proceeds to vomit, eat the vomit, regurgitate the vomit, mix it with a hint of almond and a smattering of blueberry, eat the vomit and then regurgitate it a final time, causing panic in the hamster cage and raising the curiosity of the terrorist pet owner. At that point, the owner comes over and the hamster spontaneously combusts, quite possibly hurting an eye or upper forearm of the terrorist pet owner. “It’s hard finding terrorists that use pet shops as fronts for their ungodly acts of evil,” said Mr. Kimball. “But when we do, the Horny Hamster is the perfect foil. As a Westernized and unusual hamster, it’s usually coveted by pet store owners who are attracted to its cuddly nature. But then when they get close — bam, the Hamster takes them down. Well, not really “down” per se, but it kind of hurts them in a scary way, like a really bad paper cut or an angry cat. I’m just proud to be able to do my part in the War against Terror.”

The award is somewhat controversial because Mr. Kimball holds no actual degree in science or bioengineering, but as a lifelong enthusiast he has built an impressive resume. “Kimball is a visionary,” said GenTech’s Bruce Arnold. “He’s a real jerk personally, but his work is top notch. If you can suffer through 15 minutes with the guy, you’ll learn a lot. I try to actually talk to him only once every few years — that’s the most I can take — but we communicate mostly by email, and so I’m able to validate that the science is good.” Others in the field disagree.  “Oh fiddle sticks,” commented Harry M. Smith, Ph.D., M.D., EdD, MA. “In time Mr. Kimball will be revealed to be the fraud that he is. He can take his Horny Hamster and shove it.”

The Fields Medal comes with a monetary award of $18.69. Mr. Kimball plans to use the money for research, and give the remainder to charity. “I’d just like to thank my friends and family for their support,” Kimball concluded. “This really isn’t about me, it’s about the team. I’m just one of many here. It takes a village and we’re all in this together.”

Mr. Kimball is now exploring other uses for the Horny Hamster. “I’m re-engineering it now to shuck corn. Of all the pursuits in life, it’s hard to find value in shucking corn. The corn never comes out perfect — there’s always those little strands left, and it’s just a waste of time. Nobody has ever been able to mechanize this, and so I’m giving it a shot. If we can’t bring technology to bear to solve this terrible problem, then bioengineering will have to do. If I can teach this hamster to shuck the corn and deliver a perfectly clean corn on the cob, think of the ramifications. We’d not only save 2-3 minutes in a day, but the whole corn industry would be turned on its head. This is a game changer. I can feel it.”

For more information, contact Mr. Kimball at Jeff@kimballwriter.com.

 

Debt Ceiling Explained…


This is from the good folks at CNN Money, an excellent primer on the debt ceiling:

What is the debt ceiling?It’s a cap set by Congress on the amount of debt the federal government can legally borrow. The cap applies to debt owed to the public (i.e., anyone who buys U.S. bonds) plus debt owed to federal government trust funds such as those for Social Security and Medicare.

The first limit was set in 1917 and set at $11.5 billion, according to the Center for a Responsible Federal Budget. Previously, Congress had to sign off every time the federal government issued debt.

How high is the debt limit right now? The ceiling is currently set at $14.294 trillion. As of Feb. 28, the debt subject to that limit totaled $14.142 trillion — or $152 billion shy of the cap. But the total can fluctuate up or down daily.

How is the ceiling determined? Based on policies in place, lawmakers have already committed to incurring the obligations that require them to raise the debt ceiling.

“Congress has already passed and the President has already signed legislation that increases spending or decreases revenues. Those decisions have already been made,” said Susan Irving, director for federal budget issues at the Government Accountability Office.

In that sense, much of the political rhetoric is misleading because the money has already been committed and lawmakers are arguing over whether to pay the bill, according to former Congressional Budget Office Director Rudolph Penner.

 

Rock On, Bachmann!


Michele Bachmann, Congresswoman from MN who is considering a run for President of the United States, on at least two occasions over the last few days said the following to GOP audiences in New Hampshire: “It’s your state that fired the shot that was heard around the world, you are the state of Lexington and Concord, you started the battle for liberty right here in your backyard.” Well, unless New Hampshire’s backyard extends all the way down to Massachusetts where the real Lexington and Concord are, I think she got the wrong place.

What I wonder is did she know she got it wrong? The way things work today, someone on her staff must have been alerted pretty quickly (er, um, ah, excuse me, I know you are very busy right now, but please tell her it’s the other one…), so why after the first gaffe, didn’t she bother to correct her mistake? Pretty telling.

Then again, American history is fairly subjective. I’m just surprised she didn’t talk more about the Polish invading Pearl Harbor, or Washington wielding a sub-machine gun, mowing down legions of British soldiers at the Battle of Harlem, or  how God sided with the native Indians against the colonists until they scorned Him by backing casinos, or finally how, through work done by the House Special Committee on Un-American Activities, McCarthy warned us that Barack Obama was indeed a foreign born socialist ultra-left wing anti-corporate anti-capitalist pro-union fanatical liberal…a full 13 years before he was born (Congress was much more productive back then in the days of balanced budgets).

Hey, look, I’m not sure I could pass a spot-quiz on the Constitution right now, so let’s give her a break, right? I mean, it’s not like she’s running for President or anything.

— Jeff K

Where are they?


By this point in the 2008 cycle, then Sen. Barack Obama had announced and raised $26 million (the actual date was Feb. 10, 2007). There’s a lot of talk coming from the Republicans, but no candidates. I understand why they want to keep argument confined to legislative issues, but I’m not hearing a lot about staff hires or boat-loads of cash being raised by The Gang of 13. Interesting…

— Jeff K

Who’s Running This GOP Thing Anyway…


Random thought of the day, and this is not specific to any one party. Sometimes it stinks to be the party out of power, especially in the off-year (2011) of an upcoming Presidential campaign (2012). There is a leadership vacuum in the Republican party right now. By definition, McConnell, Boehner and to a lesser extent Preibus “run” the various aspects of the party, but the reality is that it’s split, and with the Presidential campaign on the horizon and personalities battling for attention, money, staff and brand positioning, things are getting interesting.

Politics and politicians abhor a vacuum. That giant sucking sound you hear, it’s the perennial race to see who can fill the void.  Sometimes people take it (Reagan literally taking the microphone), sometimes it’s offered (and even rejected as in the case of Powell), and sometimes there’s just an old-fashioned political brawl.  Given the amount of money in play, the mood of the electorate, the cult of celebrity and the personalities involved, I see this looking more like a World Wrestling Cage Match than I do a Lincoln-Douglass debate.

Watch Sen. DeMint, the power behind the power in the Senate. Watch John McCain, you know, the cranky guy telling you to get off his lawn — try to exercise a last gasp at control by tacking back to the center again and becoming a foil for DeMint. Watch Thune elblow DeMint in his quest for the Presidency. Watch the anti-Boehner in the House, not sure who that is yet, but there will be Tea Party inspired challenges. Pence, possibly?

And of course, watch the Presidential field try to play Congressional Republicans like pinball. Oh, and don’t forget the Governors/former Govs, like Pawlenty, Daniels, Jindahl, Haley, Barbour, who will make the whole lot of them in DC nuts and nervous.

My bottom line: like it or not, Obama speaks with a singular voice for Dems. No matter how Progressives like me holler, he is our candidate, period, and I expect that the campaign will be focused and disciplined, unlike most of the Presidency so far. Over the past couple years, the Republicans were remarkably lockstep in their opposition and disciplined in their communications. The chances are pretty slim that the Republicans will speak with one voice on anything for the next couple years…not for the lack of trying, however. Should be pretty interesting.

Buckle your seatbelts and put your tray tables up. This should be a fun ride…

— Jeff K