Saturday, 16 August 2014

A Bonus to Vote

Having been in the Air Force for twenty-two years and crossed around America....I came to note at some point that some significant cities or urban areas have multiple elections....something that doesn't happen in Bama.  In Bama, we have a full-up election every two years, and a presidential election once every four years.  There are primary elections.....but that's generally it.

If you live in an area like DC, Philly, or Atlanta.....there are occasional municipal elections....just to vote on the city council, the DA, etc.  From my experience of living around Arlington, VA.....I came to realize that few residents show up for a municipal election.  Maybe out of a hundred registered voters....if you were lucky....maybe twenty-five folks would show.

Low municipal voting tends to lead to odd scenarios.  A key city council or county commission job might have six people running, and with 100,000 registered voters....there's only twenty-five thousand votes to play with on six candidates.

This all leads to a scenario where "Freaky Karl" shows up as one of the six....wearing a weird purple suit....talking about space aliens, sparking discussion over lifestyles, and pushing weird agendas....then accidentally getting four thousand votes.  Toss in ''Marvelous May" who allures men voters with some black leather outfit and six-inch heels....getting three thousand votes.  Suddenly, a legit candidate is screwed because seven thousand votes are cast for nut-cases.

The Arlington city council always had to worry that their primary democrat candidate might accidentally lose the election to the Green Party candidate or the libertarian guy....simply because not enough people were going to vote.

Well....this week out in L A.....there's a curious story.  It won't be on CNN or Fox, or get printed in USA Today.....but there's talk of offering a bonus or cash prize for folks who come out to a municipal election.

There's a panel deal created now, and they will examine the idea of offering a cash prize for municipal elections....to entice people to just show up.  The amount?  Not really in focus yet....but they are suggesting $25,000 to $50,000 as the necessary amount to make this gimmick work.  Where would the money come from?  Your property and local sales taxes.

Personally, I think it's a lousy idea that you want democracy and republic values to work....with one vote per person....and the only way to get effect evidence of such is to offer a bonus.

Would it change anything?  I'm taking a guess that for folks who make over $50,000 a year and have a full work schedule.....it won't change anything.  You got a guy on a pension or welfare.....it will absolutely entice them to show up to vote.

The better answer here?  Open up voting two weeks prior at the county court house, and allow people to show up Monday through Sunday....from 0700 to 1900....maybe even open up the voting deal at 5AM on some days to get guys going to work.

As for the bonus deal?  What they suggest is simply a drawing of the people who showed up to vote.  You'd probably pull ten names.  Five would get $500 each (my humble guess), four would get $1000 each, and one guy would walk away with $25,000.  Taxable?  Oh YEAH.  It'd have to be taxable.

If you had suggested this gimmick to Thomas Jefferson....I suspect he would have started laughing, and tears flowing down his cheeks.....amused at the necessity of fixing democracy in this way.  Just having the right to vote....sometimes is not enough for democracy to exist, and that should draw everyone to question where exactly we are going with this current line of thinking.

The Zombie Gay Subject

There is this odd suggestion going on with the AMC Network show.....The Walking Dead.  Some folks have suggested that since they don't have any real gay characters.....they need to identify one of the primary characters as such.  The suggestion?  Daryl, the bow-hunter.

Yeah, the character of Daryl has become the hero of sorts for the zombie series.  There are two hero characters on the show....Rick (the cop) and Daryl (the bow-hunter).

The necessity of having a gay character?  Well....some people just watch the series and kinda note after a while that everyone seems to have regular sexual lifestyles....no one is gay, lesbian, bisexual, into bondage, a toy-freak, cross-dressing, or into dressing up as German Nazi Gestapo type people for bedroom fun.  In the midst of all the zombie attacks and revolutionary wars going on within the script.....I have to admit I hadn't really thought much about lack of lesbians or cross-dressing lifestyles or transexuals not being around in this fantasy of zombies attacking society.

The fact that we've cross over fifty episodes now, and Daryl's lifestyle hasn't been even marginally discussed?  Well....it'd seem awful hard to suddenly come up into the fifth season and suggest Daryl was a closet-gay-guy for this entire period of zombie attacks.  You might as well suggest that Rick was a member of the KKK or a life-long member of the Democratic Party....as if it matters in the zombie era.

This all brings me to the discussion of older series that were successful and how we'd have to accomodate certain things in 2014 with certain characters.

Boneza?  Hoss would have had to have been gay.

Gilligan's Island?  Mary Ann and Ginger would have some type of bisexual relationship going on, between them, the professor and maybe Gilligan.

Edith from All in the Family would have some relationship on the side with her beautician friend.....a black gal in her forties.

Kitty from Gunsmoke would have some lesbian girlfriend.

John-boy from the Waltons would have had some hot lusty affair with a traveling male shoe salesman from Baltimore.  

Mr Ed (the horse) would have had a secretive gay affair with another gay horse from the local riding club.

All the sailor guys on McHale's Navy would have been gay or bisexual.

It's an indication of where society has gone over the past twenty years.....just unable to accept a plain regular story anymore.....demanding that there is some lusty sex, and something of a raw nature challenging their fantasy world.  I'm not even sure that Sanford and Son could survive today....without Fred waking up from a hard night of drinking....to find both his cousin Ester and some other gal in bed with him, and discussing the idea of the three getting married in Utah over the weekend.  

Friday, 15 August 2014

Rand Might Be Right On This

Rand Paul, about every six months....says something I agree with.  Yeah, it's rare.

Yesterday, Rand came out with a comment leading back to the Ferguson riot situation....that we need to demilitarize our police force.  I have to admit....I do agree totally with Rand on this episode.

At some point in the early 1960s (Philly in 1964)....SWAT was created.  Historians and journalists don't chat much over what drive Philly to start a SWAT.  Some people will talk about radical movements which really start to take root in the mid-1970s....but few if any of those existed in 1962/1963 on the streets of Philly.

What the historians do chat about...is the Los Angeles dealings with radical crime elements and revolutionary warfare in 1967.  The radicals of the late 60's had arrived and were turning L A into a very dangerous place for the regular cop with a 38-pistol or shotgun.

What most of us can say is that it was barely noticed in the 1970s....but all of the top forty cities in America saw SWAT as public relations gimmick to make the public happy.  By the 1980s....they were acquiring armored vehicles from Army surplus.  Bigger name cities like Atlanta or Denver were putting up an ample budget for larger caliber automatic rifles, more ammo, and fancy gear that you'd typically see on some TV show or movie.

By the 1990s.....most smaller towns with seventy cops.....had some group of guys that they sponsored and gave them SWAT gear.  They wanted it used for house searches and incorporated the SWAT tactics into everyday cop "warfare".

People got around to accepting cop "warfare".  Guys came off Iraq/Afghanistan duty.....got out....moved into law enforcement.....and talked their bosses into acquiring military-related gear.

So, now we have towns of 100,000 residents, with 150 cops, who carry an awful lot of military gear....dress like military "thugs"....and mostly pretend to be cops but are something radically different.

As for the Ferguson episode?  I'm not sure what happened (in terms of facts) that caused this kid to be killed by the one cop there.  It seems like the kid felt he needed to escape....if you go by the story told by the media, but you'd ask if there was something left out of the story, or if the kid was charged up on some kinda drug and didn't grasp that.

As for the days of riots since then?  None of the local business fronts want their operation broken into or burnt to the ground.  Cops are trying to make sure things get defused.  Locals see the military-style in operation and don't like it......with hundreds of non-locals arriving and just making the mess worse.

All of this ought to make people ask questions about their police strategy....like Rand says.  But I doubt if the cops want to go to a kinder or gentler mentality.     They've bought their toys and don't intend to lose them.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The Driverless Era

Monday, came a five-star article with the Wall Street Journal (my favorite daily paper)...."How do you ensure a driverless automobile?"

The issue is that we are quietly progressing almost weekly toward the day that one state will approve full-use of a driverless truck/car/delivery vehicle.

Insurance companies are kinda quiet on this.  I suspect they hope that a decade or two will go by before this actually happens.  They need more data....more information....more accident reports....to come to some mythical number that says something about fate and a driverless car.

Imagine the first driverless car accident in Texas.  Some driver will yell and scream as a Texas cop drives up.....a driverless car hit him.  He'll try to blame everything possible in ten minutes on the other vehicle.  Eventually, the cop will download the video and data from the driverless car.....basically showing the human at fault.  The guy will sue in local court.....finding that the local judge can't agree with him either.

Two years into the driverless era in one state.....it'll spread to other states, and be accepted nationwide within five years (I'll go ahead and  predict New York state is the last state to accept them....meaning an end to the human-driven taxi force of New York City).

Total accidents in the first two years of use?  I'll make a prediction it'll be around the normal number of accidents.....but a strange thing will occur with video and data collected.  Cops will come to agree almost down to one-hundred-percent of cases.....that it was the other driver that triggered the accident.

The driverless car?  It automatically slowed down in bad weather.  It came to a complete stop when the air temperature and humidity reached the point of possible ice.  Tired-driver syndrome?  Ended.  Drunk-driving accidents?  Ended.

Somewhere in this five-year period of introduction.....I'll predict that insurance companie come to a shocking realization.....a standard of $100 a year will be introduced...mostly because they can't find fault in the data, systems, or programming.  When asked why $100 works.....they won't be able to respond.....other than saying they had to charge something.  Profits for the insurance companies?  It'll start to be questioned.

By 2025, I expect one state to accept driverless vehicles....related to the delivery trade.  Eleven years away?  Yeah.  For some reason, I see legal challenges coming up continually and keeping the idea from being adopted early on.  It just won't be easy for any US culture or society to accept it.  It might even show up in the UK before the US.

Yeah....a radical change to our lifestyles.....letting Ford or BMW drive us.

Worst Adaption of Book to Movie Ever

There are a lot of books that have been turned into movies.  Some are twisted badly....Catch-22....for example.  The book is ten times better than the movie.

My nomination for this is Fantomas.

The series of books over Fantomas (the character)....written by Marcel Allain (1885-1969) and Pierre Souvestre (1874-1914)....two French gentlemen.

Fantomas was this bad-ass character, who got himself into various jams.....with dying left and right as his effort of cleaning up a mess.  There was nothing left to the imagination.  Fantomas was a nutcase who could have killed anyone just for the enjoyment of the act.

These two guys teamed up to write 32 total novels on their character....Fantomas.  As Souvestre passes away in 1914 (not from the war, but from a lung ailment).....there is a twelve-year period where Fantomas is finished, and then in 1925....Fantomas will reappear for a couple of books.  

If you'd asked any Frenchman in the 1890s to 1914 about a good decent book....most of them had read at least one Fantomas novel and could cite the general story and evil nature of Fantomas.  

All of this kinda remains to history, until 1964....when a French producer picked up the novels and developed a comical science fiction piece with a police chief in the midst of a chase of Fantomas.  The comedy side of the movie went onto appealing to a large audience in France, and throughout all of Europe.  The evil nature of Fantomas?  Basically gone.  He was just a bad guy......nothing much beyond that.  None of the murders and terrible stuff.

I've watched the 1964 movie at least ten times and always enjoy the police chief (similar to the Peter Sellers character of Inspector Clouseau of Pink Panther fame).   Compared to the book?  No.  

There's a rumor in France of an effort to turn the Fantomas novels back into a realistic movie....going to the serious nature of the book, rather than reusing the 1964 comical story.  It might happen.....but I doubt if it's ever made.  

The History Change

The College Board....is an organization that gears tests to some way....assessing if you really learned much in high school, and gives you a ranking.  This all paves the way for you to attend a fine, lesser-than-fine, or a far-step-from-fine college/university.

There's some debate that has erupted over the last month over the question of history, and the new upgraded test structure.  The comments over this developed new structure?  Somewhat negative, with accusations that the people who developed the new strategy are looking negative upon history.

The obvious changes?  Multiple choice questions are gone.  Shocking?  To some degree.  

The new way of testing?  A number of charts and historical documents are laid out for you to read through, then you have to assess the questions asked, analyze the documents and data, and note your answer.

The essay portion?  Well....it went from two significant essay tasks to be written....to four lesser significant essays.  Your writing skills are challenged to a degree...meaning you had gained some talents via English, grammar and literature classes.  Failing the essay because of lousy writing skills?  Yes.....it's entirely possible you want get picked up by a big-name college because you had a vast knowledge of history, but you just couldn't write to the degree they desired.  At that point, you are destined to some community college.

The questions being posed to the College Board?  It's more than just a dozen aspects.

I kinda noted at some point.....the people opposing these changes to the history test asked one simple question....who wrote the new history structure for the test of the College Board.

It's a simple question.  You'd expect the College Board to simply note three or six or nine prominent national history professors having done the project, and they'd vouch for the fine work they'd done.

Well...the College Board has sat and denied the names of the writers of the history testing project.

This has led various people looking at the reaction by the College Board as odd.  Normally, you'd be proud of changes, and people would associate their names with such a project.  In this case....no names.

There is another suggestion to this....that no actual college professor wrote any of the test changes, and it was simply assigned to some college grad students who were working under one professor with a slanted view of history.

What's all of this mean?  The entry port to studying history at any significant college in America....is this stupid College Board test.  If it says you have to do A, B and C in a stupid fashion.....to pass a test, then you will study that way and mentally prepare yourself in that fashion.  Wrongful interpretation of history......to get you into big-name college history program?  Yeah....as silly as it sounds.

Did we always require this College Board test to get to some university program?  No.  Once we commercialized colleges (1900s), you had to have some method of limiting enrollment to the bigger name colleges.  The College Board started out about a hundred years ago....acting as an agent....with tests that would separate the winners and losers.  Everyone accepted their independent status and middle-of-the-road authority on tests.  We are closing in on a dilemma where people now question the Board and how they reach a change in their tests.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Robin Williams

I was never a big Robin Williams fan.  When Mork came around.....I probably watched thirty episodes of the show and rarely put an emphasis in catching it.

In 1980, I caught Popeye and just sat there amazed for the entire movie at how realistic it was.  For me, it was the only five-star movie that I thought Robin Williams ever made.  He did this at age twenty-nine, and it was the second movie appearance for him.

From that point....there were three movies that I thought were great movies: Good Morning, Vietnam.  The Birdcage.  Insomnia (he played the killer as a backdrop against Alaska and five-star acting from Al Pacino).  The forty other TV and movie appearances?  Some were decent but mostly for a great script (Good Will Hunting and Jumanji).

Over the last five years, I get the impression that he wasn't getting prime acting jobs anymore....needed just about any gig possible....including TV.....to cover his lifestyle.  The two divorces over the past twenty years?  Well....I'm guessing that they took a healthy chunk of the money he made in the 1980s (his prime period of big-money).

Toss drug use....alcohol....depression on a repeating schedule.....and it was a tough life.  He went as far as he could.....then kinda admitted it was too much for him.

It reminds one of a great Shakespeare play....where a 90-minute play lays out a magnificent sequence of events, then kinda ends.  You'd like to turn around and watch a whole second segment, and in this case.....it feels like an unfinished career.

Simply Observations

First, some smart guys sat around and asked the question....did "cash-for-clunkers" work?  They collected data, analyzed, and finally poured out a report.  What the Texas A&M University study said....was that cash-for-clunkers....was a failure.  Most people who did the deal, swapped their old vehicle for a fairly reasonable or cheaper vehicle replacement (there weren't that many examples of people going for upscale vehicles or the $30,000-type cars).  The older cars flipped into the system were all required to be destroyed....so the secondary market suffered.  Total lost?  If you count the two issues....around six-billion-dollars.  That's tax revenue that we all generated, which went down the tubes in a bogus way.

Second, the feds keeping hinting of Ebola-testing at airports and preventing the disease from entering the country.  News reporters finally got around to asking the FAA, TSA, and such....what kind of Ebola testing?  And there is no clear answer coming from the Fed guys.  What you see....is some guy in a blue uniform simply doing a temperature scan of your forehead.  Got a fever, you get asked where you come from....otherwise, you go on.  It's kinda like the Grandma method of checking you prior to school....feeling your head and noting you have a fever or perfectly OK.  No real science....just Grandma logic.  This kinda makes you wonder if Grandma's ways were right, or if we are just blowing hot-air out in our chatter about preventing Ebola from entering the US.

Third, the President described criticism of his Iraq strategy as "Horse-Sh*t".  It's an odd term for the President to use....mostly because he's never been quoted in his life using the term.  This kinda suggests that someone around him used the term, and he just carried it over and used it for himself.  Will this be a trend....the President uttering "Horse-Sh*t" every two or three weeks?  I kinda doubt it.  Course, the other thing I might wonder is that he's burned out and tired...causing him to let loose with a profanity term once or twice a week now.  As for the Iraq strategy?  Yeah, it's a pretty bogus deal....but I wouldn't get worried about it.  We have a screwed up economic strategy, a bad immigration strategy, a border failure strategy, and at least twenty other strategies which aren't going nowhere and apparently stagnant.  The President would have to utter "Horse-Sh*t" forty times a day....to get anyone worried about these failures.

Fourth, I noted some gal from Arkansas...arrested by the cops for the death of her kid, and possibly the husband.  What the cops generally say is that both "Wanda" and "Bob" (my names for the couple) were doing meth (possibly in the extreme), and got to the point of being paranoid....delusional....and lapsing away from reality.  They felt unknown characters were after them.....packed up and went off into the hills of Arkansas.  There, they must have done more meth.....conjured up more imaginary characters, and apparently thought each other was one of the imaginary characters....attacking one another.  All of this led the wife to "go for help"....leaving the kid with the husband (or the conjured evil person, depending on your state of mind).  Cops come later to find the kid dead, and the husband dead.  All of this leads me to this observation of America.  At any given time....at least ten thousand Americans are doping up and high off meth....to the degree of imagining Teddy Roosevelt sitting in their presence, talking to Thor about women, or sitting for a coffee chat with Madam Curie of French radiation fame.  Somehow, we are in the midst of some zombie era, and just lucky to survive each and every day.

Fifth, I came to note from my local German news....a bunch of political genius types from Bremen are chatting up a storm on the idea of fixing the brothel and hooker business.  Oh, they don't want to get rid of the business structure....but they'd like to start a wage-system.  Course, you'd ask why?  It would create a fairness in the hooker trade....at least by a bureaucratic mentality.  So you can imagine this strategy....sexual act "A" would cost X, sexual act "B" would cost Y, and sexual act "C" would cost Z.  Yeah, some government guy would determine the value of each act, and then set the city or county standards to that act.  You can imagine the position created for this job....the back-ground required....and how you'd frame these cost comparisons for people to understand.  Basically, I suspect within a year....all hooker trade within Bremen would be zeroed-out and four-hundred local hookers would have moved just beyond the city limits....admitting that government help just screwed up the business more than it was already.

Sixth and final.....at some point in July....the government via various contracting elements....was trying to find various places to house hundreds of thousands of illegal alien teens who are in the US and can't possibly be sent back.  They were to the point of examining warehouses....possibly converting them over into some kind of dorm....and making it livable.  The cost of converting a simple warehouse into a living quarters for four-hundred teens?  I'd take a guess that just furniture alone for one warehouse...would be $150,000.  Bathroom facilities for one building?  Figure around $400,000 to set up enough toilets and showers.  The watch-crew for four hundred punks at one location?  Figure three shifts a day and enough people to run this operation for seven days a week.....365 days a year?  At least forty hired helpers, and a dozen managers/nurses.  Billions could be spent on this strategy.  It'd be cheaper to ship the kids back to Honduras or El Salvador....paying them each $75 a day in cash....just to sit around there.