Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Go Back in the Water

A short primer on government in the U.S.


Ah, election season! It’s here again. Or maybe, it’s here still. It’s the time of year when our mailboxes are stuffed with campaign propaganda, our doorbells are ringing with canvassers, our phones are ringing with pollsters, and every commercial on the television that’s not hawking a prescription drug is an ad hominem attack by some politician on another. What could be better?

Here in the U.S., we hold federal elections every two years, although lately, they seem perpetual. In case you were wondering, the U.S. federal government consists of three branches, the Executive branch (the Presidency, et al), the Congressional branch (the House and the Senate), and the Judicial branch (the federal courts, including The Supremes, but without Diana Ross).

US-CapitolBuildingThe United States Congress is composed of two “chambers”, or legislative bodies, called the House of Representatives, or the House, and the Senate, or the, uh, Senate. Congress is responsible for, among other shenanigans, drafting and passing legislation, and for providing an endless supply of fodder for political pundits and Fox News.

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, called (cleverly) Representatives, serve two-year terms. Representation in the House is proportional to State population, so California and New York each have a kazillion Representatives, while North Dakota gets by on just two Representatives, in case one takes ill. The U.S. House of Representatives is the “lower” chamber of Congress. Some days that description is quite accurate.

Members of the United States Senate, called (again, cleverly) Senators, serve six-year terms. Representation in the Senate is not proportional. Each State has two senators. For some States, that’s two too many. The Senate is considered the “upper” chamber, but the origins of this designation remain shrouded in mystery, considering their behavior.

Collectively, Representatives and Senators are referred to as Congress-Critters.

WhiteHouseThe President of the United States (POTUS) and Vice President of the United States (VPOTUS) serve four-year terms (or two to six, if they get caught). Collectively, the POTUS and VPOTUS and their posse are called The Administration, or sometimes, The White House. Or sometimes, much worse. A POTUS can serve no more than two consecutive terms ever since that FDR guy got in there and fouled up the wonderful job that Herbert Hoover had done. Those were the days.

Since we last elected a President (of sorts) in 2016, the election of 2018 is considered a mid-term election, halfway through the presidential term. Mid-term elections are traditionally the elections that the U.S. voting public uses to punish the political party of the current Administration, in this case, the Republican party, for having the temerity to win the Presidential election.

Mid-term elections help to ensure a new and inexperienced class of Representatives and Senators will be seated next January to continue the tradition of rancorous, partisan bickering and all-around misbehavior that we’ve come to expect here in the U.S. Just like the Founding Fathers intended!

So kick back, put a stop on the mail, unhook the doorbell, unplug the phone, and start streaming that Downton Abbey season you’ve been meaning to binge watch. It’s going to be a long election.

-Photographs in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.


The Week That Was: March 12, 2018 – March 18, 2018

Chipping away at the intertubes, one week at a time

A review of the past week’s mayhem from Rudy’s Ruminations.

Another week bites the dust, gentle reader(s)! Can you believe it? The excitement here in the Rudy’s Ruminations bunker is palpable because it’s time for another installment of “The Week That Was.” Here’s more of those nifty stats thingies for this week. And the week’s least egregious posts, as determined by you lovely reader(s). Go reader(s)! Go reader(s)!


And a spotlight for one of my beloved follower(s). Really, it’s more like a flashlight. With weak batteries. I’m very humbled. We really need to visit them. Like, right now. Skip down to the link and click it. It’s not that hard. Try it, you’ll like it. What else do you have to do right now? You’re reading this, aren’t you? I rest my case.

So let’s get started. Remember, the sooner we start the sooner we finish. I’m pretty sure that’s what we all want, to finish. So, follow me below the fold, for gosh sakes!

Read more ruminating

Just Do the Right Thing

Why is doing the right thing so hard?

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about doing the right thing. And it’s wearing my patience pretty thin. We’re in a do-the-right-thing conundrum in my little corner of the global mega-corporation that employs me. I’m reminded of the old saying “Don’t talk the talk if you can’t walk the walk.” The talking part is there, but the walk part is more like a stumble.

On the surface, doing the right thing seems like a fairly simple task. You’re presented with behavioral choices in a certain context, you assess the “rightness” of each choice, and you pursue the “most right” choice. Done.

But that’s also a fairly simplistic view of a complex process. Most mega-corporations want to be known for “doing the right thing.” But when it comes right down to it, unless not doing the right thing immediately impacts share price, the right thing will not be done. The profitable thing will be done. Think of how Facebook and Twitter have behaved during the election meddling investigation in the U.S. It was only when public opinion began to align against them that they changed their walks.

It’s never wrong to do the right thing.

-Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain)

One of the reasons it’s difficult for corporations to do the right thing is because it’s difficult for people to do the right thing. Most of us will make the right decision when presented with simple choices. Some of us will make the wrong decision when the choices are more complex. Some of us just can’t seem to do the right thing, period.

“But rudyblues,” you might ask, “what does that have to do with corporations doing the right thing?” Well, ignoring current U.S. corporate law, corporations are not people (sorry Mitt Romney, they’re just not). But they are created and run by people. Any corporate decision to do the right thing, or not, is reached by people. And each of those decision makers brings their own morality to the decision-making process.

Additionally, because many mega-corporations have mega people, moral culpability for poor decisions is diluted. A decision maker might know the right thing to do, and might even do the right thing personally, but might choose to do otherwise in a corporate decision-making role due to the anonymity a corporation provides. Go ahead, no one’s watching.

I guess I’ll just keep trying to do the right thing and hope no one at corporate finds out. Wish me luck.

Throwback Thursday – March 15, 2018

All the content with half the work!

Greetings, esteemed reader(s). It’s rudyblues here. Time again for another edition of  everyone’s some people’s rudyblues’ favorite feature, Throwback Thursday! Let’s take a walk down Memory Lane (hopefully avoiding Alzheimer’s Alley) and check out a chestnut from the past.

ThrowbackThursdayAs some of you know (unwillingly, perhaps), Throwback Thursday is a recurring feature here at Rudy’s Ruminations. The intent is to reacquaint my gentle reader(s) with some of my lesser known earlier work. That and I’m looking for ways to keep slacking off.

Here’s how this Throwback Thursday thing works. I take this nifty boilerplate post I’ve created, add the date, a link to a previous post, and a short paragraph extolling the virtues of the previously unrecognized gem you have the opportunity to read. You get the Throwback Thursday post in your reader stream, click the link to the previous post, and enjoy the (not so) great literary stylings of rudyblues. I get views, clicks, and possibly visits. You get . . .  well, I’m not exactly clear on what you get, I was hoping to come up with something more for you, perhaps later. So here we go.


This is a post I did back in January 2016, when I was still getting to know this blogging thing. I believe it was in response to a Daily Prompt from the Daily Post people. When I wrote it I didn’t think too much of it, but in hindsight I think it might have spoken to many people over a long period of time. It still gets views now and again. I hope you’ll read it, and I hope enjoy it. Thank you for taking the time.

Fashion Sensations of my Youth

I Read the News Today. Oh Boy!

News that caught my eye March 14, 2018

These are a few of the headlines that interested me this morning.

From our “You Are What (or How Much) You Eat” bureau:

2018’s Fattest Cities in America

by Adam McCann, Financial Writer – WalletHub – March 14, 2018

We’re number one! We’re number one! We’re number one! USA! USA! USA! This just in from the fattest country on the planet (in the universe, perhaps), the fattest cities in the fattest country. The author(s) used data from multiple sources to calculate the fattest city in the U.S. Our congratulations to Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, Arkansas, this year’s Fattest City in America! Pass the potato salad, will ya?

More from our “You Are What (or How Much) You Eat” bureau:

Celebrate Pi Day today with $3.14 pizza, free pie and more

by Kelly Tyko – USA Today Network – March 13, 2018

Happy π Day, everyone! No, old rudyblues is not selling out to the man! Remember, marketing, like rust, never sleeps. So what better way to sell more food than to tie it to a mathematical celebration! All the places you can go in the U.S. to eat round things at $3.14 each. No need to come up with a price, it’s already “baked” in to the celebration. And you can get married, too! This especially goes out to all the folks in Little Rock!

From our “We Could All Use More of This” bureau:

Perhaps tired of winning, the United States falls in World Happiness rankings — again

by Alex Horton – Washington Post – March 14, 2018

I mean, is it any wonder? Social institutions being questioned, rampant income inequality, the 1% chopping away at the safety net, hate radio fomenting violence against the “others” as the cause of your every problem, “Are ya happy yet?” And we’re the fattest, and everyone knows fat and happy can’t get together without dumb. So we’ll start to climb back up the happy scale as soon as Betsy DeVos sells our public education to the highest bidder. Damn right I’m happy!

I am definitely gonna stop reading the news!


Words We Should Use More Often – March 13, 2018

Resurrecting the English language – one post at a time

I like words. Granted, I don’t have a solid grasp on them, but I still like them just the same. So given my fondness for unusual words, when I come across one I particularly like, I naturally research its meanings and etymology. Yeah, I know, some life, right?

I like words that are fun to say. Some words are just fun. The word macaroni is fun to say, but it could be because every time I say it I’m reminded of Gene Wilder in the movie Silver Streak. “I’m a macaroni.” Well, I guess you had to be there. Stream it sometime.

I especially like words that aren’t in the common vernacular (ooh, now there’s a good one, vernacular, you don’t hear that every day). There’s an old meaning for the word macaroni that fits this category, too. Maybe they’ve fallen out of favor, or they’re no longer fashionable, or perhaps their meaning has changed over time, and they’re not used in polite company anymore. Not that anyone has ever mistaken me for polite. Or company, for that matter.

So given my proclivity for words, and the abundance of them scribbled on scraps of paper all around me, and considering the paucity of other material I have that the world would want to consume with relish (no, not eat with the condiment), I thought I’d start sharing some of these words with you, my Gentle Reader(s). And I thought I’d make it a recurring post subject. I can tell you’re thrilled. Settle down. We’ll begin when you stop happy dancing. What’s that? Oh, it’s down the hall, on the left. Jiggle the handle.

cods·wal·lop   /ˈkädzˌwäləp/

noun British informal: codswallop

1. nonsense


1960s: sometimes said to be named after Hiram Codd, who invented a bottle for carbonated beverages (1875); the derivation remains unconfirmed.

Courtesy of Google Dictionary

This is one of those words that’s just fun to say. Codswallop, codswallop, codswallop. Just imagine, you’re at some family dinner arguing with your crazy old uncle rudyblues, and he’s blathering on about something, and you stand up in the middle of his bloviating,  slam your fist down onto the table, and yell “Codswallop!” Fun, right? The Brits have some wonderful words.

trea·cle    /ˈtrēk(ə)l/

noun: treacle plural noun: treacles

  1. British word for molasses
  2. cloying sentimentality or flattery
    “Enough of this treacle – let’s get to work”


Middle English (originally denoting an antidote against venom): from Old French triacle, via Latin from Greek thēriakē ‘antidote against venom,’ feminine of thēriakos (adjective), from thērion ‘wild beast.’ The sense ‘molasses’ dates from the late 17th century; ‘sentimentality’ arose in the late 18th century.

Courtesy of Google Dictionary

Treacle is fun to say and an amazing example of how the English language has changed over the centuries. Again, treacle, treacle, treacle, like a childhood taunt, like nana nana boo boo! And how can we move from an antidote for venom, through molasses and obsequiousness, to a venomous way to insult someone’s writing? That rudyblues writes such treacle!

Well, now that wasn’t so bad, was it? I could go on if you’d like, I’ve lots more where those came from. Come on, let’s give it a go, shall we? Not so much, eh? OK, have it your way then. Be sure to tune in next week for more “Words We Should Use More Often.”

P.S. Google, if you’re listening, if I haven’t attributed you properly, please accept my apologies and all these dandy scraps of paper.  -rb

The Week that Was: March 5, 2018 – March 11, 2018

Chipping away at the intertubes, one week at a time

A review of the past week’s mayhem from Rudy’s Ruminations.

Another week down, gentle reader(s)! And it’s time for another “The Week that Was.” I usually do these on Sunday night, but I took the day off yesterday. Here’s more of those nifty stats thingies for this week. And the week’s least egregious posts, as determined by you lovely reader(s). Go reader(s)! Go reader(s)!


And a spotlight for one of my NEW beloved follower(s) who joined this week. I’m very humbled. We really need to visit them. Like, right now. Skip down to the link and click it. It’s not that hard. Try it, you’ll like it. What else do you have to do right now? You’re reading this, aren’t you? I rest my case.

So let’s get started. Remember, the sooner we start the sooner we finish. I’m pretty sure that’s what we all want. So, follow me below the fold, for gosh sakes!

Read more ruminating