Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Can We Please Leave Christmas Alone?

I am compelled to write this article in the defense of Christmas. In the past several years, in one form or another, the Christmas holiday has come under attack. I haven’t figured out yet why this keeps happening, because I am quite sure I awake every morning in the land of the free. Let’s look at some examples.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside - although not actually written as a Christmas song, it was quickly adopted as such because if it’s Winter theme. The song was written in 1944 and is a duet sung between a man and a woman. Though both parties want the night to continue, the woman argues that she should go, she should say no and what would the neighbors think. All the while the man suggest she stay because the weather outside is less than desirable.

In 2018, seventy-four years after it was written, the song was removed from radio station playlists among pressure from the #MeToo movement which suggested among other things, that the lyrics contained suggestions of date rape. Thankfully, a victory was served to both the song and to Christmas when public pressure put the song back onto playlists.

Poor Rudolf - It’s bad enough that Rudolf was not allowed to play in any reindeer games at first, but now groups are offended about “Rudolf, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” because Santa Claus and others early in the special are displayed as bullies. Ladies and gentlemen, this is a Christmas special and has been a beloved favorite for more than fifty years. When you watched it and determined that it was chock full of bullies, is that the moment that you turned it off and headed to the solitude of your social media account? Because if you watched the entire show, you would learn that Rudolf and some other bullied friends that he made along the way overcame bullies and guess what? Rudolf saves the day!

What’s In a Name? - Christmas has been around for a long, long time. The first recorded celebration of Christmas happened on 25 December 336 in Rome. Now, there are a number of countries that do not celebrate Christmas and there are a number of religions who celebrate some other traditional festival. Some examples include the Jewish who celebrate Hanukkah or Pagans who celebrate Yule. The United States is one of the many countries that celebrate Christmas and have done so since its birth as a nation. Prior to 1819, Christmas was celebrated in many different ways or not at all depending on which village or community you lived in. Much different from today, it was based mostly on religious values from the old world. But early in the 19th century, old Christmas traditions were combined with new American influences and Christmas was reinvented in the United States.

In the past several years, different groups have been having their way with requesting, and receiving radical changes to Christmas because it offends them or goes against their religion. From removing the nativity to changing the name of a town’s celebration and even demanding that the word Christmas be expunged. We have to remember that different peoples and religions have a different way of celebrating this time of year and that’s alright.

Let’s Be Real - If no one has said it yet, welcome to America. America is a melting pot, a country where people from all over the world immigrate to seeking religious, economic or personal freedoms and a host of other reasons. Here in America, we have such freedoms. Some of these freedoms we enjoy include Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Expression.

What this means is that you can immigrate here, become a citizen and practice your religion and traditions without any issues that you may have had to deal with from the country you ran from. And we are okay with that. If you celebrate Kwanzaa, fantastic! If you celebrate Solstice, Fantastic! Even if you celebrate Festivus, awesome! No matter what you celebrate, it is yours to celebrate as you wish.

Here is what is not okay. It is not okay to demand the people around you to change things about Christmas because it does not suit your religion or tradition. It is not okay to demand television shows or music to be canceled because you do not agree with the content. We have become this society where someone, somewhere decided that it is less trouble to just please everyone with these erratic requests. This is not true. It is much easier to leave traditions in place and tell the small group of upset people that they can make adjustments to suit their needs. For example, if you do not want to see Rudolf, the Red-Nosed Reindeer or hear “Baby, it’s Cold Outside” then you have the amazing freedoms afforded to you that allow you to change the channel. And I understand some of your frustration. I am offended by any radio station who starts playing a 24/7 stream of Christmas music as early as November 1. So what I do to combat this is change the station, or listen to a CD or even a collection of MP3 files of my choosing. I’m not going to protest and write letters demanding that these businesses re-write policy because there are people who appreciate what they are doing. If you are offended by the town’s Christmas Festival and you demand it be changed because your religion does not celebrate Christmas, then I’m sorry that you are offended, but the Christmas festival should go on as named.

America was here first, the country was founded with Christmas on the calendar. And for more than 240 years, people from different traditions, religions and walks of life have lived together and celebrated how they wanted, and Christmas was never affected. So it is not okay to demand that Christmas be changed or otherwise altered in any way to suit your traditions or beliefs. When I see you during the season, I will wish you a Merry Christmas. If it offends you, simply smile and keep walking by because there is no need to be offended. It takes much more effort to be angry and it gets you nowhere. Now, excuse me while I go deck the halls while singing Jingle Bells.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Being A Good Human Being

Hello Nation and all of the ships at sea! You know, this particular greeting was similar to the one that my father said many times addressing emails to the family. He would say “Boys & Girls and all the ships at sea”. I later learned that the great columnist Walter Winchell coined the actual phrase as "Good evening Mr. and Mrs. America from border to border and coast to coast and all the ships at sea. Let's go to press." He used it at the top of his radio broadcasts. So I will use my own take on it, should that be okay with you.

At the end of each episode of The Joel Michalec Show, I use a sign-off that goes somewhat such as this, “Be good to one another and if you’re out and about, pick up three pieces of trash”. Why I do that is to promote well being. Somewhere in the past twenty years, something has gone very wrong with our society. We’ve become more vain, more disrespectful and we’re making a mess of our planet. I am amazed, no, I am furious every time I notice that someone had the audacity to throw their fast food rubbish out of their vehicle into the street. Asking people to be kind to one another and pick up after themselves is no being a jackass, it is simply asking one to be human.

Imagine what a simple act of kindness could do. Holding a door open for someone entering as you exit seems like such a simple thing to do, yet think of what could happen if the next person passes it on and so forth. Think of the possibilities if we all acted kind to one another and not to mention how much less energy it takes to be kind. It takes a lot of energy to be angry. As for picking up after yourself, why would you not? I cannot imagine what your own home might look like based on your behavior out and about. I have seen parks and beaches just littered with garbage. This past summer, driving past a beach town rental home on a Saturday morning, on display was the evidence of a crazy night before. Strewn across the lawn were hundreds of the red SOLO brand cups and beer cans. All I could think of in that instant was the image of the American Indian from the TV commercials in the 1970s, standing in a field of trash with a tear running down his cheek.

So, as I say each week, be kind to one another and if you are out and about, pick up three pieces of trash. Remember, you can subscribe to the program at and a new episode drops every Sunday!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Joel Michalec Teaches Driving Laws: Stop Signs

What I find even more disturbing than the fact that I see dozens of people disobey stop signs on a daily basis, is that the first search result on Google when entering "stop sign law" is an article that discusses ways to FIGHT your way out of a ticket for failure to stop! I do not know what has happened in society that there is a great need to disobey traffic laws but I wish that I knew what everyone was in such a hurry for and is it worth the potential life-threatening dangers to get there?

What the law says:

Whenever a yield sign notifying drivers to yield the right-of-way has been erected, it shall be unlawful for a driver of any vehicle on the highway whose traffic is regulated by such a sign to fail to yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching on or from another highway or merging roadway or to a pedestrian legally crossing a roadway. If required for safety to stop, the stop shall be made at a marked stop line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or if none, then at the point nearest the intersecting roadway where the driver has a view of approaching traffic on the intersecting roadway before entering the intersection. Any such driver having so yielded to any vehicle in the intersection or approaching on another roadway so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard or to a pedestrian legally crossing a roadway shall not enter into, upon or across such roadway or highway until such movement can be made in safety. (See citation 1)

What Joel says:

This is from the Delaware Code Title 21 but I am sure that every state has a very similarly written law regarding stop signs. If we break it down to its simplest form. the sign states in all caps, S-T-O-P and it cannot be more clear if it wanted to. Your failure to stop at the intersection first and foremost shows that you  have no regard for others around you. It makes no difference whether or not you can see that there is no one around, which in many cases that is what I see. People assume that no one is around and bolts right through the intersection. The sign says STOP. That is the law of the road. The law does not state that you can choose whether you will stop or not. The law is no t open to discussion and it contains no ambiguity. It says STOP. So STOP!



Thursday, June 21, 2018

The High Cost of Being Diabetic

It seems to me, as I am sure to others, that the high cost of being a diabetic feels more like a punishment rather than feeling like inflation and the cost of research. I’m talking about Insulin, in particular.

Insulin was born as we know it today in 1921 when Dr. Frederick Banting and his assistant Charles Best found that grounding up and refining a dog’s pancreas into an injectable murky goo would reverse high glucose. In 1922, their concoction was given to a 14 year old boy who was dying of Type 1 diabetes. Within 24 hours, the child’s glucose levels returned to normal. The team gave their patent away because their vision was that it should be made widely available to help those in need. Such a noble move that showed complete compassion for their work. Dr. Banting consider insulin to be a gift...a gift of life.

Unfortunately, their vision is unseen by more than 50 million diabetes sufferers each day around the world. Imagine you need a life-saving drug and imagine that your inadequate or high-deductible insurance expects you to pay $200, $400 or even $800 per month for the required medication. Imagine worse, if you had no insurance at all. Sounds like a far cry from the inventors who had expectations that their life-saving discovery would not be used as a ploy for money.

Now before you make an assumption that I have no idea what I am talking about, let me tell you first that I do, in fact, have a high deductible insurance plan that until I meet the deductible, expects me to pay $470/month for insulin in vial form or $660/month for the insulin in KwikPen form. The reality is that other than diabetes, I am not a very sickly person. I do not have a need to see a doctor often and I do not need batteries of tests so in any given calendar year, I cannot meet my deductible. So it is as unrealistic for me to find the money to pay these rates as it is to meet my deductible. These high deductible plans are waved in front of us to peddle their lower monthly premiums. Of course, because of the circumstances of society today, we knowingly take the plan because it has become more and more difficult to live from paycheck to paycheck. And many families struggle to make the decision each month to pay for food or insulin, rent or insulin, life or death.

Why is this drug so high? Because two or three company hold the patents; The patents that were given away freely by the inventors. And the long story short is that each time they make small advances or changes to the drug, they apply to renew the patent. Meanwhile, this keeps other companies or startups from manufacturing and selling less expensive alternatives or what we call generics. Plus most of the insulin today is analog, meaning it is synthetic and no longer coming from cattle or any other animals.

Incidentally, Eli Lilly Company who manufactures Humalog and Trulicity, are expecting 2018 revenues of $23 to $23.5 BILLION. Think about that as I do when I stress each day figuring out how I will best stay alive and looking for affordable insulin. That’s ONE of the three companies who hold all the cards in this game.

So meanwhile after strenuous research and double and triple checks, I’ve decided to try my luck with a Canadian pharmacy. This is not a move I took lightly because I believe in buying American. However, I’m also completely finished with placing my life into Eli Lilly’s grubby paws and if I have to go outside the United States to purchase medications then so be it.

So the question remains, how do the people at Novo Nordisk, Eli Lilly and Sanofi sleep at night knowing that they run the table on a drug given freely as a gift of life and they profit from it while others die because it is ever out of their reach? I know I couldn’t. Until we rise up together and make a stand against these companies, they will remain in control of whether you live or you die. Maybe it’s not diabetes for you. Maybe it’s some other horrible disease and what if suddenly the one medication that would keep you alive became too expensive for you to have. Think about that.


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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

School Shootings: Epic Failure by Police

George Bernard Shaw said that the only thing we learn from history is that we have learned nothing from history. What this means, essentially, is that we do not pay attention to history and therefore we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes and ignore opportunities. If we look at the recent Mass Casualty Event in Parkland, Florida then we can see how this is true.

Approximately 2:21 PM on 14 February 2018, Nicholas Cruz entered the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, presumably set off the fire alarm and proceeded to open fire on fleeing students. One of the first things that you hear when these unspeakable crimes happen, is that it keeps happening and needs to stop. The very next thing that you will hear is the cries for tougher gun laws and more gun control. So let us go back to that first item; this needs to stop. I think that everyone can agree on that issue. There are many things that need to be reviewed and or fixed to get this under control but let’s look at something that one would think is an easy and immediate fix.

In the case of Nicholas Cruz, law enforcement made a huge blunder with this person. Here we have documented facts that the Broward County Sheriff’s Office had been notified many times about Mr. Cruz’s attitude, demeanor, ownership of guns, mental instability and the fact that he, himself, said that he planned to shoot up a school and to become a “professional school shooter”. If this is not enough to make you angry, the Federal Bureau of Investigation received two tips regarding Mr. Cruz’s behavior. Once in September of 2017 to the FBI in Mississippi and again in January 2018 when a tip received was not properly forwarded to the Miami office.

Now, one could say that law enforcement missed the mark on this one. How can you carry on a campaign of “If you see something, say something” when saying something means nothing? Now, I hold a very high regard and respect for the law enforcement community. Having said that, how many times can we look back on Mass casualty Events and see where law enforcement has come up short in regard to the actor? 

You simply cannot blame guns. Guns, themselves are not the issue. Evil people with intent on performing evil acts will find ways to do so. We’ve seem mass Casualty Events by way of guns, knives, cars, trucks, fertilizer and oh, yes, airplanes. Cries for your government to “do something about guns” is the immediate cry. What are we doing to fix the shortcomings of law enforcement? Yes, there are other areas of improvement and other factors that demand review; however, actions speak louder than words. Fix the issues that are staring us in the face and the issues that can be fixed with very little effort. Such issues like following policy and procedure. That is a good start.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thoughts For Christmas

Call me old fashioned. It’s okay. I am proud of being old-fashioned when it comes to Christmas. It could also be said that I am stuck in my ways. Again, when it comes to Christmas, I am okay with being labeled as such.

The Christmas holiday has changed so much since I was a child in the 1970s. I often wonder if my parents thought of that in the 1970s. Was Christmas for them in the 1940s different? Have you ever watched a movie that depicts Christmas in the 40s? It looked so magical. The same goes for the 1970s; there was magic in Christmas from baking cookies as a family to decorating the tree as a family to visiting relatives throughout the season.

I am convinced that the very same things that have broken down our society over the past several decades has changed Christmas. I only hope that I can keep it alive the way I remember it within my own circle. So let's look at the changes that really put a curl in my mistletoe, shall we?

The Music - Music is the biggest change about Christmas that affects me. And some of that is attributed to the artists. Plus, I am pretty sure that much of this change is MY fault. You see, I cannot begin to accept the artists these days that perform remakes of Christmas music. I know it is my fault because I might say that I do not like the version of this carol that N’sync did but I like the way that John Anderson did it. Complete bias. I know this. You see, when I grew up listening to great Christmas music by the greats like Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis, Jim Nabors, Doris Day and more, how can you go wrong? These were “my” Christmas carolers. But my children don’t get it and I do get why. Now there have been some great original Christmas music come out over my lifetime but performed by some of my favorite artists so here comes that bias again. But think about some modern pieces that are just so wonderful. Songs like "Christmas Wrapping" by The Waitresses, "Do They Know It's Christmas" by Band-Aid and try this if you have not heard it, "(It Must've Been Ol') Santa Claus" by Harry Connick, Jr. But really, how many different ways can one stand the same carols being done? If they are definitively different or classy, then maybe they are worthy of a listen but I do not find that the case and I find myself browsing through the CD racks around this time of year looking for new compilations of the good old stuff.

The Programs - like the music, my tastes with television and movies are pretty much the same. Here again, I grew up watching great masterpieces of Christmas such as “Scrooge” with Alastair Sim who, in my humble opinion, is the best ever Ebenezer Scrooge. “It’s A Wonderful Life”, I mean you cannot go wrong with this holiday classic. Even children’s cartoons; “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, A Charlie Brown Christmas” and all of the Rankin-Bass productions. These are classics!! I am glad that many of these still air these days. I am more fortunate in that I have many of these on DVD and can watch them all season long should I wish to do so. Again, I am very critical of remakes and reboots but there have been good new original program, and I am not referring to ABC Family originals..bleh. Oops, my bias is showing again.I'm talking about "Polar Express" or "A Christmas Snow". Good original movies that pull at your heart strings and make you just feel good when you watch them. I do not think that we need another remake of "A Christmas Carol".

The Traditions - we come from all nationalities and backgrounds and I am not here to talk about your own traditions as they are very dear to you. But let’s talk about 1970 and 2010 (and forward) as it pertains to radio stations. You know when I was a child growing up, Thanksgiving was the “start” of the holiday season as far as music was concerned. Radio stations might play a carol here and there in the mix but you had to wait until Christmas Eve 6:00 PM for the All-Christmas music marathon to start and it would be like that until 11:59 PM Christmas night. And my butt was parked in from of that AM radio at 6 o’clock to listen to the non-repeating marathon of music to fill my heart with joy and anticipation of what Christmas morning would bring. Now they are going all - Christmas at November FIRST! Five years ago it was Thanksgiving. Some stations started BEFORE Halloween. C’mon people!

How about the commercialization of Christmas. Show of hands, who remembers when nothing was open on Christmas Day? Now everything is open which means someone has to work which means families are broken up on the holiday. If you want to see one reason society is collapsing, look no further than the Christmas season. Black Friday sales are now beginning on November FIRST. Stores that used to open at 5AM or 6AM on Black Friday are opening at 6 and 7 PM on Thanksgiving. “Thanks for dinner, mom. I gotta go get a deal on a TV and an Xbox for the kids”. What is that?! They now have reality TV shows that follow crazy people going Black Friday shopping. I cannot believe my eyes. And one wonders why there are dysfunctional families.

Retailers get a big part of the blame. Why are the Christmas trees and decorations out BEFORE Halloween? Can we get past the current retail groping before moving ahead three holidays? Who is making these decisions? I’d like to send Matt Damon and Ben Affleck to their board meetings (where are my Kevin Smith fans). But I know how to deal with it, I don’t buy into it.  That’s right. I don’t shop on Black Friday. I don’t go to the malls. I’m told there are great deals to be had. Okay, but what if I do not need for anything? No need to go out.I have Amazon and Cyber Monday!

Maybe I am just grumpy. You know what? That’s okay too. Because while you are out there in the hustle and bustle, listening to the same six Christmas songs over and over again while leaving your family behind on Thanksgiving to fist fight your way to a cheap TV or a pair of socks, I’ll be the grumpy old-fashioned man who is set in my ways having a holly jolly time with my family while drinking a glass of eggnog and watching some football while Bing Crosby serenades me in the background with the classic rendition of “White Christmas”. I am good with that. Merry Christmas to All and to All a Goodnight!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Random Thoughts 10/14/2017

Several weeks ago, I decided to take a break from Facebook. This decision came after an argument that was driven by the NFL players utilizing the National Anthem to protest their feelings about injustice and police brutality and so on and so on and so on. 

This argument was not about the protests, this argument was over the fact that I still watched my beloved Philadelphia Eagles despite my anger at the players for disrespecting the National Anthem. Did you catch that? Someone was angry at me for not boycotting the watching of my team. 

I'd like to address three things here. One, this petty argument. Two, the so-called protests and three I want to to discuss social media and what I learned while away from Facebook. 

As to the argument on Facebook. I am proud of the fact that I have the freedom to choose what I do and when I want to do it. So long as I harm no one and I do not break the law, I am free to do things and say things. I have the right to my own opinion as do all of us. Something that we have lost over the years since the birth of "social media" is the ability to respect others. People no longer respect one another's opinions. The way I was raised, you respected people and you earned respect from people. Treat others as you would want to be treated. 

I left the world of talk radio after ten years because it became apparent to me that you could no longer have a rational debate regarding politics and the direction of America or the world without pissing someone off or losing friends. As I stand here making a decision to come back to radio to discuss anything but news and politics, I am learning that no matter what the topic is, there will be haters. 

I have lost friends because I am neither Republican or Democrat; yes you read that correctly. I have lost friends because of my opinions and most recently I lost friends because, since I still watch football, I am disrespecting the flag, the anthem and this great country. Sounds absurd doesn't it? I am in charge of my thoughts and my actions. No one else. 

Now for these protests. I am not going to get into some trap about whether it is right or wrong for them to protest. I will say that I am not allowed to just break out in protest at MY workplace. But I feel like if you really want to make a difference then wouldn't it be better served, if you went out and really did something about it to really make a difference? Hold a rally, mediate town halls so the people can speak openly with police or any other of a hundred things that can be organized that says "hey, I'm making a difference". Because right now, your just being an asshole with you fist in the air or getting on your knees. What does that teach the kids looking up to you? That it's ok to disrespect your country, your employer's time and money? Just wondering...

So I removed myself from Facebook and it felt oh, so good. I almost did not come back. I did continue to hang out on Instagram and Twitter. Instagram, so far, is a pretty safe place to hang out. Mostly people's lives unfolding in picture collages and memes and it's an easy way to stay in touch with minimal discussion. So because of that, also not so much arguing and bickering. 

Twitter is much the opposite and in some respects, it could be worse than Facebook. The disagreements in Twitter far outweigh, in numbers alone, those on Facebook. If you ever want to see haters in action, all you need is a two minute trip to Twitter. It does not matter who you are or what you do. You will be bashed, insulted, humiliated and hated on Twitter. So if Twitter is so bad, why did I hang out there when I got off the Facebook hate train? Because you can't look away. It's like a fatal car wreck. You want to look away and leave but you can't! 

So really, leaving Facebook for a time or forever would make little to no difference. Whether you frequent Twitter, Facebook or any other social media site, one thing stands out; social media is far from being social. Among many other factors, social media has had a hand in the destruction of our social skills and the ability to communicate rationally and socially with our fellow man/woman. No one steps out from behind the keyboard to visit with someone in person or discuss the state of affairs or show pictures or talk about vacations and sports. Hell when that does happen, it turns into spite, anger and all out fighting. 

The next time I need a real vacation from this mess, I'll turn it all off.