Parlor Spider...Step In, Little Fly

Insightful thoughts and/or rants from atop the soapbox from one who wishes to share the "right" opinion with everyone.

Monday, September 30, 2013

International Investing

Every time anyone discusses making money on stocks, bonds, and whatnot, the issue of international buying comes up. It always sounds risky to me, but there are some things considered to be safe bets...I'm not about to give away any secrets...if you've been any kind of aware, you'll know each and every company I'm about to mention. In fact, I'm only covering this subject at all because Coke has fallen from its perch as the most valuable international commodity...rarified air that it dominated for the past 13 years! Obviously, the Coke brand is everywhere, but it is no longer the most economically potent company on the international scene. It has given way to Apple as millions of Chines people have opted for the new iPhones.
Apple's value has increased 28% since last year, presently being valued at more than 98 billion dollars. Looks like a sound d'uh! Coke, in fact, is not even number two on the international list, falling to number three behind Google!
Just for fun, the rest of the top ten international companies in value are

10. Toyota
9. Intel
8. Samsung
7. McDonald's
6. General Electric
5. Microsoft
4. IBM
all trailing behind the top three mentioned above.
All are safe. All are profitable. Go buy.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Reason for Peer Review!

"Experts say..." "Scientists note..." "Everybody knows..."
Common sayings when one is trying to convince someone else of something of dubious believability. That's why citing sources and peer review are so important. Just because a person is an expert in one field does not make him or her an expert in all fields...despite what one might think. Such is the case with a high-profile cleric in Saudi Arabia.
Sheikh Saleh Al-Loheidan noted recently that there is medical evidence that prohibits women from driving. Of course, Saudi Arabia is friendly to the United States so we look the other way as women are constantly denied rights like freedom to get educated, travel or even showing their faces in public or going out on the streets without male permission and/or accompaniment. These policies, of course, are enacted for the sanctity of womanhood since other Arab men would obviously lust after them...and who knows what kind of crazy ideas women would get if they were allowed an education? Twerking and swinging nekkid on a wrecking ball might be the next logical steps!
While I don't personally know any Saudi Women, I'm not certain they feel hampered by these restrictions. heck, they might even like them. One thing is for sure, though: they want to be able to drive a car...thousands have staged protests and/or signed up to do so on October 26th to show that they ARE capable of such things.
Back to Al-Loheidan. He noted that "medical studies show" that continual driving by women resulted in damage to ovaries and pelvises leading to the birth of children with "clinical problems." There was no mention of exactly what these clinical problems were or how they were caused by women driving, but this underscores my point. The mysterious "medical studies" hardly makes me want to inch toward believing the results, but because he is a well-regarded cleric in the country, we are supposed to believe he is also a medical visionary. uh, no. When I read about it in the New England Journal of Medicine, I'll accept it...not before.
However, if women want to drive with their faces covered by black cloth, I might suggest their driving is not the safest practice.
You go, girl, on October 26th.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Best Policy...But Not Always in Practice

Abe Lincoln, George Washington and Spock are the only real or fictional characters I can think of who were scrupulously honest. I have my doubts about Abe and George, but Spock was a paragon of virtue...he simply could not tell any kind of fabrication because it would be "illogical." Unfortunately, us regular folks aren't thought of in those glowing terms, and Reader's Digest, for some reason, set out to find out just how honest the people of the world are.
In something of an unique experiment, folks from the magazine dropped 192 wallets in 16 cities on four continents just to see how many would be returned. The wallets were dropped randomly in a variety of locations, and each contained the equivalent of $50; identification consisted of a cell phone number, some business cards, coupons of various kinds, and a family photo.  Observers apparently lurked nearby to observe the result.
In only five of the cities were at more than half of the wallets returned.
Helsinki, finland, residents returned 11 of the 12 to earn the top spot for honesty.
Mumbai, India, Budapest, Hungary, Moscow, and Amsterdam rounded out the top 5 "foreign" cities, returning 9,8,7, and 7 respectively. The only American City represented in the study was New York City, where residents returned 8 of the 12 "lost" wallets...restoring a bit of luster to the reputation of "The City That Never Sleeps."
Other cities in the study and their somewhat regrettable return rates:
Berlin and Ljubilana, Slovakia: 6 returned.
London and Warsaw: 5 returned.
Bucharest, Rio de Janeiro, and Zurich: 4 returned.
Prague: 3 returned.
Madrid: 2 returned.
Lisbon: 1 returned. Lisbon gets an especially bad review because the couple that returned the wallet were visitors from Amsterdam!
Of course, it's easy for all of us to say we'd do the right thing, buit until we are tested, there is no way to be sure!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Little To Do in Allendale Apparently

First, there was Faith Hilling, then planking, then Tebowing followed by Dufnering. It seems that pop cilture meemes are, well, popular. Thus, it is no wonder that Muley Cyrus has created the latest sweeping-the-nation craze with her video Wrecking Ball. This one, however, isn't just something anyone can copy. There has to ben actual wrecking ball to swing on, and most people don't have one handy. Most people.
The students at Grand Valley State University in allendale, Michigan, DID have one handy. It seems that the campus featured a steel ball suspended, pendulum-like from a chain just hanging there ready to be used. Whether the thing was an art work or what, I don't know. There was little historical background on the object.
In fact, most people probably didn't know it was even there until students began recreating the somewhat salacious video that Cyrus took worldwide by swinging naked on it. There was little video evidence that GVSU students were swinging naked on their wrecking ball, but, to be honest, I didn't look that deeply into it. Apparently, the university decided, though, that this was a lawsuit waiting to happen with or without clothes, so it "suspended" the activity by removing the ball and chain from whatever it was attached to.
Those plucky Lakers students were not about to be denied: raucous protests were held by students demanding to get their ball no avail at this point.
We've not heard or seen the end of this meeme. You can bet engineering students at GVSU will come up with something...anything to keep them occupied with something other than homework. This is a SURE way for them to attract comely co-eds!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Cheap Living

Mortgage rates are beginning to climb again as the economy rebounds (somewhat), and buying a place to live is getting to be expensive again. Not that it was ever cheap, mind you, but the foreclosure markets is beginning to dry up except in places like Cleveland and Detroit where the economy was devastated to a much greater degree than elsewhere. Solution? Buy a mobile home!
Fifty-five thousand mobile homes are sold each year, and estimates are that 20 million Americans live in the , roughly, 8.5 million mobile homes in this country.
Mobile homes got a boost (?) during the Miss America pageant by contestant Brooke Mosteller who claimed to be from the state with 20% of the population living in mobile homes because "That's how we roll." I thought it was cute, but some South Carolinians were a bit miffed because of the stigma attached to their choice of dwelling. "Trailer trash" is a term that comes to mind though I am certain it is not applicable in many cases. For some, it's a cheap way to have a place to call home. To some with an uncertain future, being tied down to a home on a foundation creates issues. Finally, the idea of associating those living in trailer parks being mostly povery-ridden unemployed folks creates a stigma not easy to erase.
South Carolina is the state with the largest population of people living a "mobile" lifestyle: roughly 18% of the population.

Of those in this country living in mobile homes, 57% are employed full-time, and 23% are retirees (many of them living in Florida and definitely NOT down-and-outers.

However, the average income of those in residences of the wheeled variety earn roughly half as much as the average American, and

eight of the top ten states for mobile home usage are also among the top ten poorest states in the country, and

true to the stereotype, those eight are all southern states.

Sure...who wants to live in something like that when the winter temperatures drop to unreasonable levels? I'd move it south, too.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

When To Start Looking Over Your Shoulder

We have not really recovered from the 2008 recession, despite what the pols will say in hopes of bolstering their re-election chances. Fact is, people are still unemployed, and layoffs continue sporadically. I always joke that the reason my office is next to the exit sign is that I won't embarrass people when I walk out with my box of stuff after being let go. Fortunately, I have information that will allow me to skip out just before the dreaded axe falls. Thanks to the business folks at the BBC, I know five specific, telltale signs that the boss is about to pink slip an employee. I'm sharing with you because, well, you never know.

1. Key meetings are held and important decisions are made without you. What? There are meetings? I've never gone before, thinking I was getting out of something, you say they aren't even inviting me?

2. Everyone around you is getting laid off. Here, I'm safe: I:m the only "me" there is. no worries.

3. The boss gives you the silent treatment and/or won't look you in the eye. Well, I spend a lot of time avoiding the boss, so he would have to work hard to find time to a) find me, and b) give me the silent treatment when he did.

4. The unexpected summons to a meeting with the boss and HR. If this happens, it's already too late: just pick up your stuff and try to make a graceful exit...unless there's a pension or huge chunk of unemployment (what? In THIS age?) coming your way.

5. Be asked to train someone else to do what you do. seriously. If this happens, you know the end is nearer than you think. Stall the training...teach unimportant things, and generally start hoarding office supplies because it's over...sooner rather than later.

Yes, this helpful information is depressing, but being prepared should ease the shock should this happen to you.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Putting the High in High School

In a naively shocking way, I was more than surprised last week to find that two young people from the high school where I taught recently had been arrested by the FBI on charges of buying and selling ecstasy. One of them lived across the street from us when he was growing up. Buying "molly" from a supplier in Germany and having it sent labelled as trading cards just didn't seem to work out, and now prison is a decided factor for their future though it is only now playing out through the court system. Thus, that begs the question of how rampant IS drug use among high school students?
According to a survey done by CNN of 15,000 high school seniors in 129 schools across the country, drug use is frighteningly widespread.
Of the seniors surveyed, 40% admitted to getting high in the last year, and 25% admitted to getting high in the previous month. That seems like a high number to me. So, what are they getting high ON?
Mostly marijuana (since it's seen as harmless now), cough syrup and narcotics (mostly in the form of prescription drugs used for ADHD as well as anxiety and depression-lessening.
I was surprised (but probably should not have been) that DXM is an ingredient found in 120 cough-suppressant medicines. It's easy to get, easy to "need" and parents may not always be as aware of it for the high it can produce.
With doctors prescribing drugs for almost any ailment these days, a teen can simply reach into a medicine cabinet at home and have more than a plentiful supply.
Marijuana still seems to be the drug of choice, though, and relaxed laws concerning purchase in some states contribute to this, no doubt, as well as the number of parents who don't feel that they were harmed by using it "back in the day."
Potentially scary since we will someday hand our country over to this generation.
But then, can it do much worse than those who are "guiding" us now?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Putting a Price on Time

I've reached the point where money isn't a crucial, daily, worry. I have enough to get by today and, hopefully, until I die. Suffice it to say that money is no longer a prime motivator. Do I want more? Who doesn't? However, there are limits to what I will do for money. Being a part of focus groups is not on the "limited" list unless the reward is miniscule. Not today, though.
The researchers were interested in the beer-buying habits of a certain demographic into which I must have fit. Following some preliminary questions a week or so ago in response to an email from a company for whom I had previously tested ice cream (for $!), I was given a choice to times at which to go through an hourlong interview about my buying habits. Initially, I thought the idea was a bit lame, especially since it really didn't fit neatly into my schedule for tutoring...however, the reward was too great to pass up.
I had two options: go in, do the interview and get $75 for my time, or go in by 2 p.m. and stay until 5:30 as a substitute in case somebody missed an appointment...for $150. I must admit that initially, I hesitated because it would mean cutting out a session with a student to make it on time. However, by adjusting my schedule so I met her at night (something I dislike), I was able to free up the time.
I haad enough homework to keep me occupied for the time I'd need to spend so I figured it was a no-brainer.
As I arrived, I was greeted with an offer for food: salads, tenderloin, cheesecake, smoothies...whatever I wanted! This was proving too good to be true. After a couple of hours, I was summoned to actually appear for the interview. I'm somewhat embarrassed to say that I enjoyed the process...after all, my time here at the university is certainly not compensated at a rate of $50 per hour.
Plus, there was food :)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Fashion Faux Pas? or Not?

Admittedly, taking fashion advice from someone like me is best done by people who traditionally don't know Armani from JC Penney when it comes to what to wear for whatever season one happens to be experiencing. If it's cold, get a sweatshirt; if it's hot, take it off. That's my fashion philosophy in a nutshell. White after Labor Day (or is it Memorial Day) ? I have no idea why or why not. I seldom wear white anyway because I'm always spilling food on myself. Even a stain is preferable to a big wet spot where I tried to blot out any discoloration.
Fortunately, though, there are folks who actually follow fashion trends and can simplify them for us. In fact, a recent article on the BBC News network listed 10 fashion "laws" and indicated (for people like me) whether or not they were actual laws and not merely recommendations. Most of them appear to be pointed at women's fashion, but who knows? I certainly don't.

1. Never mix denim with denim: blue jeans are OK, but a denim work shirt is definitely NOT OK. Mixing different washes of denim appears to be on the fringe of acceptable, however.

2. White socks are a decided no-no for men since it makes it appear that one is heading to a workout of some kind. Me? I always wear athletic shoes so white socks are part of my ensemble...though I do tend to branch out occasionally.

3. legs or cleavage, but NOT both! Apparently, men can only focus on one part of the female form at a time so don't distract them by having an excess of skin in more than one place.

4. There is little evidence that vertical stripes are slimming. What HAS been decided, however, is that stripes across "curvy" areas are positive accents. (I'm presuming the stripes are horizontal in nature).

5. Men's ties should extend at least to the last button on the shirt but no farther than the lower part of a belt. I was gratified to see that I was already following this one...three times a year when I actually wear a shirt that will accommodate a tie.

6. Never mix patterns is a tried and true fashion law...proven to be ridiculous! Apparently, fashion has gone to the crazy stylists now, and mixing blocks and stripes is acceptable. It seems to me that such patterns would distract me from looking at the excess skin, though.

7. It was felt that men piercing the right ear indicated gayness...straight men prefer the left ear. over 50 should  under NO circumstances have an earring...a sports car, though, is a different matter.

8. Matching shoes and bags or shoes and belts was long considered prohibited by fashionistas. Now, it seems, it's acceptable...particularly given the wild colors and patterns of handbags these days.

9. Just as I bought a pari of shoes that featured blue and green, I remembered that one is not "supposed" to mix those colors. Fortunately, this is another "law" that has been overturned. Shades of red and pink as well as other colors close to each other on the spectrum, can be mixed without fear of recrimination at this point in fashion history. Whew!

10. The prohibition against mixing gold and silver jewelry (NOT jewlery) stands. Since the only gold I own is either in my mouth or in my wedding ring, I'm safe.

There you have it: all you need to know about dressing to the nines. As soon as TJ Maxx gets on board, I'll be set.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


I have mixed feelings about this. Tumbledown Trails golf Course offered the pictured advertisement in the Wisconsin State Journal earlier this week. The incredible firestorm of ferocious negativity that resulted created more heat than imaginable. Owner Marc Watts claims that there was no intent to malign what some might consider the last national tragedy of note, that's not how folks took it: some even threatened to burn the place down if he opened on the 11th of September...though how one would" burn down" a golf course remains only a matter for conjecture.
The fact that this is the third year in a row the promotion has been thus advertised makes the story a bit odd as well. Where were these horrified folks the last two years? Perhaps they just opened a Facebook account and saw the promotion. I don't know.
If we can commercialize Christmas and make a yearly celebration of Thanksgiving freedom into a football holiday...perhaps this isn't anything more than a business trying to promote itself.
Watts promised to relay some of the day's profits to a memorial fund for 9/11 victims.
Wisconsin has truly become a haven for extremists, I fear.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Brouhaha Brewing

This is not Napa Valley or the famous French wine country: this is Wisconsin, a place where Eastern Europeans emigrated, bringing with them their love of a frosty, cold beer. No craft sipping, swirling, breathing, or checking the legs of a drink: it's quaffing beer after a hard day's work and swapping stories over the refills at the neighborhood bar (NOT "pub"). This is the culture here...straight from Germany, Belgium, and all those places.
I was born of teetotalers in a state quite removed from here, but, having lived here for a long time, I get the culture. That's why the latest news from The Beer Institute surprised me. As if it were not enough that the University of Wisconsin is not among the top party schools in the country anymore, the state itself can only manage fifth place in the nationwide per capita beer consumption totals! Unheard of! really.
This information was provided by said Institute, a body that also noted the average consumption of beer per capita in the U.S this year was 28. 2 gallons, up from last year's total of 20.8 gallons per person. To put this year's total in perspective, that amount of foamy drink is equivalent to drinking 2, 15.5 gallon KEGS per year. Heady stuff, indeed! And the fact that the total is up almost 8 gallons per person is amazing for a one-year jump...especially in a positive economy!
Whatever the reason for Wisconsin's dismal fifth-place ranking, facts are facts: we're just not keeping up with the traditions of The Fatherland. Of course, I believe (but don't quote me) that Wisconsin is either first or second in brandy maybe bee has lost some of the luster certainly doesn't "warm" the body like brandy.
But you want to know the top ten, don't you. Here it is in descending order, listed with the number of gallons drunk (so to speak) per capita:
10. Maine, 34
9. Texas, 34.4
8. Nebraska, 35.2
7. Vermont, 35.5
6. Nevada, 35.8
5. Wisconsin, 36.2
4. South Dakota, 38.9  (notice the significant difference between Wisconsin and S.D.)
3. Montana, 41 (another big jump)
2. New Hampshire, 43.9
1. North Dakota, 45.8

Thus, the difference between #5 and #1 is more than 9 gallons per person.
Of course, if I lived in North Dakota, I might be tempted to drink more, too. Just saying.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Righty Tighty... Leftys...Not So Much

Time to debunk another myth...and it's one you may never have heard: left-handers die sooner than rightys do. Unless you are left-handed, this probably doesn't matter to you: after all, you have not been criticized, redirected to the "right" hand in grade school, or found it awkward to use a water fountain ("bubbler" here in Wisconsin). However, for the longest time, it was accepted as fact that those southpaws were destined to be looking up at dirt an average of nine years sooner than the "normal" person.
This "fact" was based on two studies done in the late 1980's and early 1990'3 in Southern California and presented in two well-respected scientific journals: Nature and the New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers Diane Halpern and Stanley Coren got detailed information with regard to handedness about 2,000 deceased people in SoCal that seemed to corroborate the nine-year gap in death statistics between right- and left-handers. Thus, it was generally presumed to be evidence of early demise of those who were actively left-handed.
Earlier theories included the fact that knives were made specifically for right-handers and that factory machines were designed to be used by rightys only. As a result, it would seem to be a logical conclusion that lefties would die sooner.
However...more to the point:
1. There are far more people designated as left-handers now that the social stigma of the early 1900's has been lifted (the average is between 10-11% of the population).
2. There are far more left-handers now that school desks and school teachers don't join forces to restructure the penmanship craft. (in fact, I doubt there is much actual penmanship taught anymore).
So, while we right-handers can simply dismiss both sides of the theory of early death, there is one less reason for left-handers to worry about mortality!

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Stretching the Experience Limits

I t has been noted by researchers that people who are willing to expand beyond their comfort zone are often the most happy and content with their lives. I'm not sure that's true for everyone, but for those people who embrace change and challenge, life can be difficult. Imagine working at the same job for years on end, repeating the same task hour after hour and day after day...some like the routine, but others would go crazy in ten minutes.
I would go nuts...thus, my life has been filled with challenging opportunities; even after retirement, I never expected to be teaching college courses, but I am. I never thought I would be teaching an aerobic drum class, either, but I'm about to...and it's more than a little scary.
As I understand it, the class is made up primarily of middle-aged and older females with an occasional retired guy. This is a tough group: they know what they want, what they like, and they expect to get it. Compounding my uncertainty is the fact that the only reason I'm doing this is that their favorite teacher graduated, and there was nobody to teach the class. In a master understatement, I noted that I could do that..."how hard could it be?"
I'll find out tomorrow, after a month of hour-long practicing day after day. Picking music wasn't exactly easy, either. Do they want new dance music? High energy disco tracks? Oldies with a beat? Country (eek!)
Mixing in a bit of everything, I think I'm ready for the first class: nervous but embracing the challenge. It could be a short engagement!
Rock on! (and streeeeeetch!)

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Snacking North of the Border

Every now and then, I get a craving for something different in a snack food. Oh, Cheetos are still the best even though I can no longer find the generic ones in the white/black bag that I really liked; still, variety is the spice of something or other, and I was intrigued when Lay's decided to audition for new flavors for a chip this past summer.
I tried Sriracha (liked it), Chicken and Waffles (so so) but never got around to trying the eventual winner: Cheesy Garlic Bread. Interesting choice of flavors, but NOTHING like those folks in Canada can dream up, eh? Here is the list of the four finalists for the new flavor north of our border:
1. Bacon and Onion Perogy (is that even spelled right?)
2. Grilled Cheese and Ketchup (I'd go for grilled cheese and sweet pickles)
3. Maple Moose (really? really!)
4. Creamy Garlic Caesar Salad (far too lengthy a name for a bag of chips)

My favorite out of the gate would have to be the moose one...I mean, what WOULD a moose with maple syrup dripping on it taste like? According to the Lay's folks, it has a "smoky flavour (note the British spell-check did) with a hint of sweetness."
I guess Ruffles are on the way out the door! Eh?

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

"I Am the Instrument of Vengeance For Women."

No, this is not about the Hunger Games or any other fictitious tale. In many ways, except for a passing reference, it's not even about the Roman goddess known as ever-chaste and ever-ready to put down any man who upset her idea of right. It IS interesting, though, that an avenging woman in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, considers herself to be a modern-day Diana as she wreaks vengeance of a personal sort: retaliation for incidents of rape by that city's nighttime bus drivers.
To date, two bus drivers have been murdered by this avenging angel, and it is somewhat painful to think of her as a murderer...though she is. Recently, she simply walked up to a driver on the route between Ciudad Juarez and El Paso ( a nighttime route taken by women who have crossed the border to work in factories), said, "you guys think you're so bad," and shot him in the head before calmly walking away. Wow!
Two important facts:
1. Hundreds of women have "gone missing" in that area over the last 20 years, only to be found sexually assaulted, murdered and dumped alongside the road.
2. Violence in Mexico seems to be almost a casual thing: the only way one can expect "justice."
Still...the woman has a Facebook page calling herself Diana the Huntress and insists she is merely "an instrument of vengeance" for herself and all the other women who have been assaulted by late-night drivers.
Two drivers have been arrested over the years on charges of assaulting and murdering women passengers: one had his conviction overturned, and the other died in prison while awaiting trial.
What with drug gang killings and police corruption, I can see how this might happen, but vigilanteism?ard to justify.

Monday, September 02, 2013

When I'm 64

Diana Nyad, 64, became the first person ever to swim from Havana, Cuba, to Key West, Florida, without the aid of a shark cage. She finished today, September 2, 2013, and in doing so finished her lifelong ambition.She had tried several times previously, but storms and/or jellyfish stings aborted the efforts to complete the 110-mile swim.
Granted, she has been a distance swimmer all her life, but the distance is just staggering; additionally, she was never allowed to hold on to a support boat or use aids like swim fins...just her against nature. This time, she wore a specially-designed silicone mask to negate the jellyfish issue (they float to the top at night) as well as a body suit, booties and gloves of some kind.
No matter.
This is an incredible feat that may never be copied.
I've got work to do in the next two years.

Sunday, September 01, 2013


It's not just "older" people like myself who seem a bit disgruntled about the state of things...younger generations, especially. I hear more and more parents in their 30s describe how things were better "in our day." "Too many parents and not enough parenting" is an idea that's getting lots of play in the media and in discussions everywhere. Whether it be kids with guns, an 8-year-old crashing a car, killing his 6-year-old sister, a 10-year-old shooting his grandmother, Miley Cyrus supposedly embarrassing herself and her family by twerking at the MTV Awards show, or Johnny Manziel behaving inappropriately in his first college football game of the year following two years of legal issues, the feeling is that young people today are out of control. Why? There are a million suggestions, but in the case of Johnny Manziel, pundits opine that it is simply because he's never been held accountable for his actions, by his parents, coaches, or the NCAA. Perhaps. But I happen to think that the issue of accountability reverberates throughout society. some examples:
Politicians, athletes, and movie personalities who have cheated on their spouses, groped females, taken illegal substances or simply sexted inappropriate messages have generally been forgiven if they profess sorrow and apologize sincerely. Not only that, but these people are generally allowed to go on with life (after a short time spent in remorse) as if nothing happened. Anthony Wiener is a perfect example...he was leading in the race for mayor of New York until someone found out that, by his actions after the first embarrassment caused him to resign from Congress, he continued his immoral ways!
In Wisconsin, at least, it seems like every week I read about someone involved in an accident being cited for his or her 5th or more DUI. Hello? After two violations, one might think a simple loss of points (they keep driving anyway) or suspended license is not enough of a sanction. It's not, but we somehow manage to loophole our way out of significant punishment.
Thus, when adults decry the lack of parenting and a need to hold children accountable so they don't grow up to be adult miscreants, there seems to be a decided lack of leadership willing to do the holding.
Parenting is a hard job...grandparenting can be harder...but there is a lot of blame to go around.