Monday, 29 December 2008

Flight 93 Memorial Part II

I had a fair blog on this yesterday....the memorial for the 9-11 folks who crashed in the middle of Penn.

I had an interesting argument put to me today.....are we going to put up a $50 million memorial for every one of these flights taken by terrorists in the future?

I sat there for a long pause, because I know eventually....some other idiots will be successful and take another flight or two to the ground. The logic here....do we put up $50 million each time and build another memorial? The answer is....I'd rather not repeat memorials like this...because it doesn't really lend itself to anything beyond a simple heroic attempt to retake the plane by its occupants.

I am not calling them less-than heroes....and this should be understood in a different manner.
What I am saying....is that we've had an awful lot of heroes in America who didn't get anything other than a pat on the back. There are numerous battles....that we've never honored anyone. There are countless lives lost in Katrina....mostly because of stubbornness to leave New Orleans, and you'd think they ought to get a $50 million memorial. You'd say the same thing for earthquake victims in San Fransisco or train-wreck victims.

We will end up building this memorial....I have no doubt. But the line will have to be drawn somewhere, for some reason. Eventually....logic will have to emerge and we will find our point of agreement. Otherwise, we will cast a thousand memorials over the nation over the next ten years.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Flight 93 Memorial

Somewhere around Shanksville, PA...there is an interesting event unfolding. There is this site of the United Airlines Flight 93 crash....where a bunch of people want to establish a memorial. For a number of years....we've gone through various stages of making this memorial occur, and now the last speedbump....but its a unusual event. The owners of the property won't sell.

Flight 93 is part of the 9/11 terror attack....and represents one of three significant points where lives were lost.

The problem this entire effort now....is that property owners haven't been happy with the offerings of the government....and want a more substantial offering to part with the property. If we were talking about one owner....it'd be a simple case....but the size of the memorial is 2,200 acres, so there are several chunks of land involved in this effort. With no movement...the families of Flight 93 asked President George W. Bush to empower the Secretary of the Interior to take the land in dispute from the owners.

The race to finish now? Well....yeah.....the families all want this done by the tenth anniversary (2011).

Somewhere in the midst of this discussion is Svonavec Inc, who happens own one of the bigger chunks of the property (200-plus acres). Svonavec is a coal-mining operation and they basically want to be rightfully compensated for their property.....with the coal value underneath it....and I'm guessing that the Park Service has no desire to pay that kind of value on land. I'm also guessing that the Park Service doesn't want to seize the property because then it goes to court and the right value of the land will be established, and it'll be alot closer to what Svonavec wants.

The locals all want the construction to start up.....involving $58 million at this point....which would draws crowds to the local area. So the owners are up against vast problems in fighting for the value of their land.

This is the problem that people have when you are dead set on a certain tract of land for use for a memorial or park. Once the owners realize your absolute desire.....they believe their tract's value has increased. So a simple plot of land that was valued at $100k last year....is suddenly worth $350k this year....at least in their eyes. Courts rarely agree.....and you tend to get offered $110k to end the conflict. In this case, with the coal below....the court is going to find a reason to offer what the company wants.

In this case....memorial will occur...the property will be seized.....and the owners will get paid a fair price for the land. It won't be near what some of them felt the property was worth...but this is the reality of the situation.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

My Application for New York Senator


Seeing how New York is not particular about property ownership or residence in the state to be a US senator for the state, and the fact that Caroline Kennedy has thrust herself into contention for the job, I've decided to THRUST myself also incontention for the empty New York senator job.

I realize this may shock some of you....knowing I'm all-Bama and I have this love-hate thing about New York City. Its a difficult decision....knowing that I'll have to relocate to New York as part of the deal and probably have to learn New York-ize as a language. It'll also be a problem in walking around New York City without a fear deep in my heart of being robbed, stabbed or beaten. I'm also not much of a Yankees or Mets fan (the Braves are my team).

I've paused over this topic for at least ten minutes and believe that the time has come for me to step into the mess and square away the mess in the Senate....and why not represent New York? I can be just as big a pretender as Hillary or this Caroline Kennedy-gal. I can't name more than twelve cities in the state, but neither can these two dimwits. I can't tell the difference between abstract art and monkey art.....but does that really matter?

My plan, if appointed...is to quickly move up to upstate New York....to Buffalo....and be "the man of the people"....mostly regular New York Joe's of America (similar to the Joe the Plumber, Joe Six-Pack, and Joe the Pirate). I will run a theme of "CHANGE", although I'll pretend its change of a mostly unknown variety that folks have heard about and would like to have....just that they aren't sure what the hell it is. I'll make sure I'm always quoting dead New York political figures and New York Yankees managers....to liven up the audience at the senate chamber.

I'm pretty sure that Wolfe Blitzer will give me a invite up to his show....provided there is ribs and bar-b-q served afterwards. I'll even appear on Barbara Walter's show....provided she gives me one of those special "winks" on difficult questions so I can just pass on them.

The best part about this deal....the real New York political figures get a way to slide out of the national mess being handed to them. No real self-respecting New York democrat really wants Caroline Kennedy in the office because she never paid her dues. And the idea of her getting this deal because Obama said to give it to her....just riles these guys a bit. So naturally, I am the solution. I'll stick around for two years....eat lots of cheap steak at the senate cafetaria and drink as much free booze as possible...before I retreat back to Bama in January of 2011.

I'll promise not to write more than two books on my entire experience, and I won't be caught taking any bribes beyond what is typical or average for regular senators. I'll promise to ask for tens of billions for failed New York companies on the bailout game. I'll promise to ask for money to rebuild every school in Staten Island. I'll promise to pave every road from Rome, New York to Buffalo, New York. Heck, I'll even promise not to mess around with New York hookers while on duty.

So, for you kindly folks from the Bronx....who'd like to fix this problem real simple and avoid this Kennedy gal....give me a shot. What'd you got to lose?

The Best Sweet Home Alabama

This is the best rendition of Sweet Home Alabama, that I've heard in years.

It Only Happens in Bama

Things like this....only happen in Bama. Apparently, the Mobile cops got this call on Thursday afternoon. It was a fire.

From what the cops can figure out....this 45-year old guy....Lawrence Edward Lee....got all drunk on Christmas day. The cause of the drinking centered around not getting a Christmas present. So he eventually got drunk enough, and mad enough....to set fire to his mobile trailer.

Based on comments by the cops....they will charge Lawrence with with reckless endangerment and public intoxication. My guess the two charges will be accepted by the guy rather quickly and two weeks of jail time will be dispensed. Lawrence needs the jail time, primarily because of limited living accommodations right now. I'm guessing he has made a name for himself and it'll be hard to find rentable property over the next couple of months while folks remember him.

Sadly, some Bama relative will be called upon to help Lawrence out. Thats the sad part about this story....because they will have to overlook his tendency to burn living accommodations up. I might be willing to give him a blanket and tent to sleep out back....but I wouldn't let the idiot in my house.

Just Another Day in Birmingham

I don't usually blog much on murders....especially in Bama. But this week....murder number 84 in Birmingham occurred. The cops were called out to a car at Lomb Avenue's McDonalds on Friday morning. Inside was Charlie Williams....all of 81 years old....shot dead in his car around 6AM. Its a pretty crappy way for a 81 year old guy to die...getting up early to get breakfast at McDonalds...and getting shot in the car.

For most of us from Bama....we don't brag much about Birmingham. Its like going to New Orleans, except without the booze, partying, and fun. You find mostly drugs, turf wars, and neighborhoods that are war zones after the sun goes down. If on the interstate and entering within ten miles of the city...you stay on the interstate until you've left the town by at least ten miles. You don't pull over or stop for gas...for any reason. Real people don't live in the city anymore...they've moved out five to ten miles away...to avoid the city situation.

Most folks who live in Birmingham....carry firepower and limit their movements after dark. If you are out after midnight...you are likely increasing the odds of your demise.

Whats sad here...is that this was a old guy just out in the morning...seeking breakfast at the local McDonalds. Nothing more. He ran into the wrong character...got shot dead in the parking lot. The cops won't solve it, and if we are lucky....we might only have one more murder between now and 1 January...but thats an awful lot of luck. For an old guy like this...he didn't deserve this kind of situation.

Fixing the problem? Forget it...the local political figures need the problem...to exist. The cops keep asking for more money, more manpower, more cars, and more training...but it really doesn't figure into the statistics. You'd actually have to arrest the guys...convict them...and put them away for twenty years....to have an effect on the city. No one wants that. So my advice for those traveling south and making way through Birmingham....gas up way before the town and don't stop for any reason.

The Curious Case of Caroline Kennedy

Since early November...we've kinda known through various public outlets that Caroline Kennedy intended to take Senator Clinton's position in New York. The grand plan, for those who haven't figured it out...is to replace Biden in 2012 with Senator Caroline and proceed onto the race in 2016 with a upper hand. Its a great plan, with only a couple of small problems. Support within the state of New York...isn't forthcoming.

For the past month, its been discussed in New York papers....and its hard to find a true New Yorker who is a supporter of this entire idea. Oh, theres Bloomberg and a couple of the national guys who have spoke out in favor of her. Strangely enough, Hillary has kept her mouth shut because she really doesn't support the 2012 mission.

Then you start to look over political fund raising, which Caroline has done alot of in the past six to eight years. Other than City Council Speaker Christine Quinn ($1,000)....Caroline hasn't helped a single state-level individual with fund raising. Its been all national-level work. So this lack of effort to help the local Democratic party hasn't helped much.

Then we have the questionable voting record. Records do indicate that she has rarely shown up to vote for any of the state or national elections. That brings out more questions amongst the regular New Yorkers.

I'm still betting on Senator Caroline carrying her position through and the governor coming to a state of reality that he can't deny her this opportunity. The only issue left is to win the 2010 Senator race that will be generated out of this deal. To do so...she has to campaign and make public speeches...which hasn't been one of top talents over the past thirty years. So when you think the race is over...it really hasn't even started in this case.

Friday, 26 December 2008

Cowville versus White Beaches?

The news boys have been busy this week....trying to cover Obama in Hawaii....and somewhere in the middle of it....was CNN's Ed Henry. Ed was on the beachfront.....in th midst of white sand when he made an observation: "No offense to the people of Crawford, Texas, but taking the presidential retreat from Crawford to Honolulu is change anyone can believe in."

I sat there and paused over this statement....thinking of how eight years of the Obama administration would be for the news guys.....traveling back and forth to Hawaii.....and thinking how they would become accustomed to this "epic". Its kinda like going on a special holiday and sipping lots of booze all day long. Sooner or later....you lose your prospective. Its not a news event anymore....its a stage front.

Will the shier move from Crawford to the white sandy beaches of Hawaii shift world opinion? Thats the curious thing. Just because a news guy is happy, half-drunk, and staying in a 4-star hotel in Hawaii...would he put a more positive spin on a presidential mess? Thats the question I can't answer....and to be honest, I don't want to answer it.

One of Those Days


There are about a dozen days a year, that I wake up and I'd really like to get in my car and drive to a Dennys for breakfast.

I've been here in Germany since 1993 and there are a number of things that I've come to miss greatly. Dennys....is one of those things.

I've made around a dozen trips back to the US over the period I've been in Germany, and maybe gone to Dennys three or four times.

I'm a early morning guy. I can wake up at 5:30, and lay there with a thousand things on my mind....and really want to move on with my day. I'd like to just take a quick shower, jump in the car and settle down at a Dennys for a big plate of greasy food. I realize its pretty bad for me and its quiet unhealthy these days for me to take a whole plate of greasy food like this. But its the temptation that exists in my mind that drives this "fantasy" (I realize most of you would prefer to think about hot women with stockings and heels on....but I'm thinking on a different system).

There is a feeling of satisfaction when I'd done. I settle there at the table....with a cup of coffee and a paper....and waste 30 minutes just reading my two newspapers. I'll tip the gal, and then get into the car feeling completely satisfied. Its a "Denny's feeling"....kinda like watching a musical or a opera....but a little bit different.

So this morning, I woke up with this Denny's feeling.....and could not solve it. Other than some burnt toast....I simply accepted this limitation in life. There's hardly a week that goes by now....that I don't think about this magnet pulling , me back to the US. Denny's is just one of a thousand magnets....pulling on me.

Where the Heartland Begins and Ends


There is this border in America that comes and goes, establishing the heartland and "otherland".

The heartland weeps over young lives wasted and love lost.

The heartland cries over pain, sorrow and woes.

The heartland doesn't advertise much of its suffering or its losses.

The heartland reaches out to the poor, the sick, and the unfortunate.

The heartland sips ice tea on the porch and remembers days long gone.

The heartland puts up monuments and memories of heroes and stoic men and women.

The heartland sets vast armies lose upon chaos, tornadoes, earthquakes, and fires....without federal government orders or assistance.

The heartland bleeds...it has cuts and scars to show for its efforts.

The heartland believes in temptation, love, wit, charm, humor, anger and absolute comebacks.

The heartland scatters the ashes of human history...in a way that we lest forget the history or the people involved.

The heartland has maps to note where it lays....but there are no customs points to forbid entry.

The heartland has no problem that can't be solved or remedied.

The heartland wants peace within itself...continued chaos and turmoil simply don't rank as important.

The heartland gives thanks for what its gained or preserved....thanks for defeats....thanks for efforts...thanks for joys....and thanks for a summer thunderstorm.

The heartland knows where it begins and ends...because we have all laid out its boundaries and lines. We want the heartland...we deserve the heartland...and we will treasure the heartland.

So somewhere in the midst of darkness tonight...as snow falls and truckers pull rigs across America....where temptation settles in upon our woeful hearts....and a fire burns softly in a fireplace...our Heartland lives.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Brother's Keeper Reality

Yesterday, President-elect Obama laid out a Christmas message to folks, which revolved around being your "Brother's Keeper". Its a theme he tossed out in October as part of the election episode, and he still continues the message.

Its a nifty phrase and always agreeable to Bible-carrying folks. No true minister can make it through an entire year without some kind of sermon on being your brother's keeper. Its a great sell and makes folks feel good at the conclusion. In real life, they might actually practice this to some degree....with or without the mention by the minister or the President-elect. The problem is....they often fail the reality test involved.

When your cousin Carly calls and says she's really doped up and needs someone to listen to her screwed-up life speech for the fifteenth time....being your "Brother's Keeper" just doesn't work.

When your brother Elwood calls and he's been arrested for hitting his wife and burning her car in the front yard....being your "Brother's Keeper" just doesn't work.

When your mother calls and admits that she's forty thousand dollars in debt to credit card bills and needs you to help her clear them....so she can leave the family home to your two sisters.....being your "Brother's Keeper" just doesn't work.

When your 19-year old son has been arrested for his fourth time on a DWI.....being your "Brother's Keeper" just doesn't work.

When your sister calls and announces that husband has bankrupted her family and she needs you to loan them $50k to help fix up their credit situation....being your "Brother's Keeper" just doesn't work.

When your old buddy from high school calls and says that his wife, his girlfriend, and his 20-year old something at the office are all pregnant at the same time and he needs to borrow money.....being your "Brother's Keeper" just doesn't work.

When your minister shows up at the house and says that the church is not a 4-star place of worship and he needs each member to sign up for a $2000 donation over the next twelve months to build the right kind of temple for worship.....being your "Brother's Keeper" just doesn't work.

When your daughter calls and says that she is marrying some guy who is permanently unemployable and she needs you to help sponsor her lifestyle for the next forty years....being your "Brother's Keeper" just doesn't work.

When the government says that its moral tone for the next couple of years....is this "Brother's Keeper" mentality....I'm sorry, I just don't buy it. Rescue from a burning wooden bridge is a one-time deal. I'll pull you off the bridge, but the bridge is pretty much burnt up at the end. We don't need to revisit the bridge or consider this a permanent everlasting burning bridge (there just isn't such a thing). You get a helping hand and then I'm finished with this situation.

I had an associate years ago who agreed to take in his sister and her family for what was going to be a 60-day period....till she got back up on her feet after dumping the husband. The guy and his wife went out of their way....making basic comforts for the sister and her kids. They asked for no money for the food or lodging...this was merely part of the being the "Brother's Keeper".

By the halfway point, the sister was bound and determined to return to the abusive husband. He began to get back into her life and trigger various negative events. As much as this associate of mine tried to talk to the sister....it just didn't matter. She couldn't bring herself to move on....to get a job.....to find a place....or to dump the husband. She just wanted to continue on with her trend.

At 90 days, she was still in the house, with nothing improving. At 120 days, she was still there. Around six months into this episode....with no job and this continual hope of returning to the husband....my associate volunteered for remote duty....just to trigger a event to get the family out of this mess. Three months later, he left for his one-year of remote duty, and his wife packed up to go back to her family for twelve months. The sister just stood there....asking what would she do next? He couldn't answer that. After nine months of trying to move her on....it just wasn't going to work. Being the "Brother's Keeper".....was a failure.

I don't want to say this is all a joke, because there are cases where you can make a difference and change the paths of people who have fallen. But those who are destined to fall over and over.....makes me question the logic of Brother's Keeper and just well it actually works.

My two cents of analysis and pondering for today

A Christmas Moment


Christmas has arrived yet again, number fifty for me....but who is counting?

I am a three thousand miles away from Christmas reality. No matter what I do here in Germany....the memories are in Bama. I can never escape that anchor that I drag around with me.

About half the folks that I engage in this topic of conversation admit that no adult Christmas ever measures up to those in their youth.....for odd reasons.

Some folks remember the hunt for the tree and cutting it down. Some folks remember helping older relatives put the tree and the lights, then being rewarded with various cookies and delights. Some remember the local choir they were a member of. Some remember the fireplace and the ornaments around it.

So today, I'll sit down and make the best Christmas possible out of the deal....although I know it won't compare. I'll have goose and dumplings, with plenty of cake and coffee. I'll get a gift or two and be satisfied with the holiday by tonight.

So I'm wishing all that read my blog and have a moment of reflection....a very Merry Christmas and happy New Year. Life is damn short, and you need to enjoy the moments you have. Don't look upon this as simply another holiday....but a moment when you are allowed to get pumped up and full of glee. You worked hard all year, and you deserve it.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

How Cavemen Came to an End


This week....a couple of smart guys took analysis of DNA to a new level. They basically took DNA from Buddy, a Neanderthal dude who had been dead for a pretty long, long time.....and demonstrated the interesting differences with modern relatives of his. The key difference? Buddy's body knew how to produce alot of excess heat.

Buddy likely utilized this heat ability to go out into the cold and hunt daily. His family probably survived on for thousands of years.....because of the ability to take energy and generate more than enough heat to make it in a cold world. If you consider Buddy's diet....high in meat products....Buddy turned everything into useful energy.

But then one day.....warming arrived to this earth.....and Buddy's body didn't alter itself. Buddy was still generating heat....when the summer heat of 90 degrees came. Buddy began to face dehydration and problems when hunting in the summer months. Buddy likely sought out the colder environments and found them providing some relief, but the hotter months still limited his abilities.

So around 24,000 years ago....Buddy and his relatives started to die out. They couldn't keep up with the reality of warming weather. Buddy died because his body failed him. And for some reason, he couldn't evolve into a survivable species. As much as Darwin's theory ought to work....in this case.....it didn't.

Its a strange thing...when you'd think that evolution would kick in...it didn't. Darwin's theory has lots of supporters and a significant opposition. Every rule in the book would indicate that Buddy should have gone to a different diet and eventually had a evolutionally change...but he didn't.

The Gas Episode

For those who don't follow the woes of us associated with the US military in Germany.....there was an amusing event on Saturday.

Most GI's and normal civilian workers (not me) have been forced to accept a gas ration credit card now. Our BX folks, who run the program....told us over and over that the Germans demanded a new and more accurate program. So far, no German has raised their hand to say they asked for this mess.

Last Friday....a minor clerk in the BX empire was messing with the main computer program and set the price per gallong.....although he though it was liters he was doing. So he sat the price between $7.68 to $12.52 per gallon. I realize you are laughing a bit right now.....but on Saturday....the folks who stopped at ESSO stations off base.....found this fantastic screw-job waiting for them. The guys who read their print-out....went ballastic, but the Esso guys couldn't say a word or fix anything.

By Sunday, this had turned into a major complaint mess.

So today, the Stars and Stripes printed the story and admitted that the AAFES folks associated with the BX....had screwed up big-time and were trying to fix all of Saturday's problems.

So far in the last three months....there have been countless mistakes and problems with this card system....which none of the customers appreciate. Some folks would like for EUCOM to fire AAFES and just give the job to a third party....and possibly return to the old coupon way of doing business. AAFES says it'll fix all the problems and people will eventually be happy with this. For some reason, I don't believe them. The nice thing about me being able to really crap all over AAFES in this blog....is that I can't buy my damn gas from them....I buy from the Germans....at $6.50 a gallon anyway.

High School Reporting

Somewhere on CNN today...they had a political poll of some variety where they wanted to report that 23 percent of the US public rate VP Cheney as the worst VP ever. Forty-one percent added that he was merely a poor VP.

What CNN didn't ask....which why I regularly rate them as the best high school news reporting service in America....can one hundred Americans name more than two VP's other than VP Cheney?

Well....I'm waiting.

If I found a hundred Americans over 18 on the street and asked to name at least two other VP's in American history.....ninety percent would be unable to do it. Five percent would be able to name two and only two VP's.....and maybe two percent might be able to name more than two guys. The 100th guy? He would declare himself a illegal alien in the country and ask if he could vote if you gave him the chance to.

CNN? Grow up....mature....become a real first class news reporting organization instead of a bogus high-school news group with no depth or ability to report real news. If your key point is to "generate" news.....how about asking how many people think CNN is capable of covering a major event or chaos better than Fox? Thats not the kind of poll CNN wants to attempt.....because they know the answer already.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

X Plus Y Equals Z, But It Ain't the Kind of Z You Think

Somewhere in the midst of yesterday....there was announcement. Vice President-elect Joe Biden will apparently oversee a task force that will make recommendations on how to build the ranks of the middle class. For those of you from Rogersville on down to Orange beach.....in Bama.....this is the part of society that most of you folks claim to be.

Joe says that this task force will be high and mighty....with a bunch of folk working on this project. They didn't say where they might be meeting...but it has to be a swanky hotel out in Palm Springs or Butte. Joe says this is an attempt to make sure the middle class is "no longer being left behind." Joe says everything is on the table for discussion....for whatever that means.

I realize right now...you are sipping coffee, in your pajamas or that Wal-Mart evening gown that Bubba bought you last year....and thinking "hmmm"....this is awful kind of them Obama/Biden folks to build up on the middle class. A real Bama-ite would think...."damn, we need more folks like us". Then, after you added a shot or two of Jack Daniels to the coffee....then you came to your senses.

The thing you need to ask yourself....if there are 100 beans in a bag...and you shuffle them around from one bag to another...with three different bags in existence at the end....you still have one hundred damn beans left at the end. So, here's the deal, if you build on the middle class....unless you are handing out buckets of money to the poverty class (compliments of the rich and elite), or you tax the hell out of rich folks to bring them down to the middle class....thats the only way to build on the middle class. Get it?

I realize this might have spoiled your morning coffee. Yep, what Mighty Joe is saying...is that if there isn't enough of you middle-class folks now....we'll add more but we'll have to push the rich down and bring the poverty folks up....to make this deal work. Perhaps what you should have asked Joe...is it possible to make more of us super-wealthy and put you in the upper class...by taxing everyone more and just picking out 500 folks a month for a million dollar bailout each.

You have to wonder how they keep Vice-Presidents busy....and maybe this is just something to keep Joe out of DC and make him look busy when all he's doing is sipping government tap water and eating government procured jelly donuts. Sure wish I had a job like that .

Brickhenge (A Parody)

There, long ago, between the ages of Elvis and Pink, in the land of Bama.....were built mysteriously a small megalith. Few knew the reason or rhyme to this construction, only that it drew great crowds in the Bama land to come and reason why it was built.

Some felt it was a sign from the heavens.....that some UFO had dropped off. Some felt it was a bunch of drugged out freaky guys from the local Masons. Some felt it was four Auburn football players on a drinking binge. But truth be known.....it was simply left over bricks from a trailer placement.

Never mind the legends or temptation to make things mystic....just go with the flow.

What is important here....is that Larry used this formation to remind him exactly where the septic tank was placed.

Warships to the Rescue

CNN reports today....that a group of Iranian warships apparently steamed into the Gulf of Aden with the mission of joining up on the "pirate" situation off the coast of Somali. At present count, there are at least thirty countries with some kind of navy presence in the Gulf area. Some of these groups are way out of their "league" and normal coast patrol status. I'm waiting on the first warship to accidentally fire on another warship.....and trigger up some mini war between thirty nations over Somali pirates.

Lego Blago?


After looking at the picture for a while.....I kinda agree it is a Lego-version of Blago. I don't know how you'd work up the Lego scenario for this.....one Lego guy calling Blago Lego to deal a senator seat? It just doesn't work good in the "pretend-world". Now, if Blago had been getting a house or maybe a helicopter out of this deal....that would be a neat Lego scenario.

The Ten Things I Really Hate

I sat and paused yesterday....mostly while driving....and came to ten things that I really do dislike or hate. There might be a hundred items on that list....but these are the ten things that stand out.

1. Christmas shopping. I really can't stand the crowd, the parking situation or the experience itself. Given a choice, I'd rather sit at the computer and just order online to avoid this hassle. I'm sure my blood pressure goes way up and I'm sure that I'm taking a month off my life each time I go Christmas shopping. Its just not a pleasurable experience. Years ago....I spent an hour or two in the Ramstein BX shopping....and then came time to go out via the cash register....and there....with only six clerks at the station.....I stood in line for almost an entire hour.

2. That immediate feeling I get when a Jehovah's guy shows up at the door. The minute I open the door....and a couple are standing there...in the middle of the afternoon....wearing awful nice clothing (the guy has a tie on).....and its an immediate bad feeling. I know they are Jehovahs. I'm standing there and trying to think of a nice way to just tell them "move on"....and they continue to stand there....hoping to convince me its not a wise idea. Even in Germany, I've had two visits by these people. On one hand, I'd really like to be nice, but frankly....I really want them gone.

3. Fake numbers. When someone is presenting something to me....that has numbers or statistics....and somewhere in the presentation I realize the data is not accurate....I go ballistic. Wasting my time on just chit-chat is one thing.....but the minute you involved numbers and claim this as a basis for your argument....and then its fake....well, it just won't be pleasant with me.

4. Asian food. Nothing personal and I realize alot of you may partake of some Asian food on occasion.....but I just am not a Asian food kind of guy. When my peer group talks about lunch out for the day, and they come to get me to tag along....I ask "where"....and then they realize I have a problem. Almost thirty percent of the time....they want to go Thai or Chinese....and I just smile and say no. I realize I'm getting a reputation, but I'm picky about my food.

5. Women who dress slutty just to be noticed. I realize I'm a guy and its natural to look upon gals who are dressed slutty....but after a while, you realize its just eye-candy and some gal who is more of a exhibitionist than a normal person.....then I'm kinda left in a state of dislike.

6. Magic acts. Its pretty simple, I just won't accept magic at face value. I want to know how the 2,000 elephant moved 100 feet. I want to know how the woman was sawed in half. I'm a lousy viewer to take along to a magic act. I have no appreciation of magic and half the time...I dislike the show because its not obvious how they moved the elephant.

7. Political figures of any type or variety. Frankly, I put politicians into the same category as used-car salesmen.....I don't trust them. To watch Wolfe Blitzer's show and catch all of the "catch-phrases" or "winks".....it bothers me. Its open lies with a smiley face. I can't stand this behavior....and then the media guy pushes it to the ninth level by asking a really slanted question that he had to be given.

8. BAD movies. In my youth, I used to go out twice a week to a movie. Some were winners....but about twice a year....I went to a movie which was absolutely terrible. In my entire life, I've walked out a theater three times. But in recent years....I dropped theater attendance and simply rented videos....and discovered the same problem....bad videos. You would think that someone would discuss the script or the stars before they invested money or time into a mess like this, but apparently not.

9. The Today Show. Nothing personal, but I think the whole show is bogus. The hosts? I probably could get three guys from Tampa Bay to do just as good of an act. The news value? Zero. The concept of the show? Well....I guess to make 20-40 year old women happy....and not much else.

10. Economic experts talking. Frankly, I consider the study of economics to be ranking up there with the study of rabbit crap. They will spend thirty minutes explaining something....when they could have done it in three minutes. They will put a fancy name on something when its really something that has been around for 2,000 years. They wear fine suits which cost a fair amount of money, then you wonder if its the suit talking or the guy. Then you notice that its mostly guys who claim to be economists.....rarely if ever do you notice a woman in the field....which leads me to place them in the category of used car salesmen (they are mostly men too).

Just my two cents for today, from a guy who has drifted a far piece from the Bama land. Note, I didn't put down much of anything that I'd dislike from Bama. Well....except the sluttily dressed women maybe....well.....maybe. That topic would be best left for another blog....I've hit my fifty lines.

A Fifty Line Guy?

Years ago, in a general conversation, I had a person accuse me of being a fifty-line guy. I sat there puzzled and asked why I couldn't be a 51-line guy or a 71-line guy....figuring that would get the appropriate response. In essence, they said I could take any subject on the face of the earth, as complicated as it might be....and convert it to fifty lines of explanation....offering the truth and balance that the topic deserved.

I laughed over this comment....thinking that fifty lines basically covers one page. Could I explain the civil war in fifty lines? Well.....yeah. Could I explain the essence of global warming accusations in fifty lines? Well.....yeah. Could I take a complicated political situation and lay it out in fifty simple lines? Yes....I could.

So I've come to realize that most everything in life around me....as complicated as the media or scientists or political witchdoctors make it.....can be whittled down to fifty lines. And yes, you can break it into understandable paragraphs where a regular guy from Red Bay or Coos Bay could understand the whole picture.

I think I've always been this way....because I would read through forty page documents with lots of wonderful facts but it never got down to the essence of the topic discussed. I was kinda dismayed and always felt that most people really don't read much because it takes so much time and effort. Fifty lines? Its not very much....and a guy can accomplish this in less than four minutes. Its nice to be an expert and write an entire book on a topic, but if you don't get read or understood by the bulk of the population....the effort didn't return value or attention to your ability.

So when you read the bulk of my blogs....I repeated this same concept....taking complex topics and simply carving them up into readable chunks of material. You realize of course.....if life was really this simple....you'd be in serious trouble.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Yurg and Randy

It began with Yurg and Randy....sitting there.....five thousand years ago.

Yurg was tired of constantly hunting, and Randy was tired of cold nights in the winter. So they decided to fix both of their problems.....and there in.....started global warming.

Sadly, we stand where we are today.....for better or worse.....with global warming, global cooling, global climate change or global nothing....because of the actions of Yurg and Randy.

We are told this today, by a group of smart guys who work up at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Apparently, with their data collected......global warming didn't start with the industrial revolution, but began 5,000 to 8,000 years ago with large-scale agriculture in Asia and extensive deforestation in Europe.

According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article....the boys had to use powerful supercomputers to arrive at this position. I paused when I read this.....wondering what type......but obviously, its not important enough to put in the article My guess is that they told the guys financing this that they wanted $25k work-stations......and they actually bought them for the project.

The boys came to conclude that methane and carbon dioxide (the simple things that you'd have to have.....to make global warming) began rising with the introduction of rice cultivation and large-scale tree removal.

So the boys have gone on.....and said that this buildup of greenhouse gases.....actually saved us from a start of a new glacial age. Its nice that the statistics worked out to confirm this. Although I'm kinda wondering if their data is "cherry-picked" or completely proven on this fact. If only Yorg and Randy had forbidden modern conveniences and accepted life as it was......we would have survived on....or least until the next glacial age.....then Yurg and Randy would have died out.

My belief in this report? I'm questioning alot of their data and how they came to conclude facts.

So to be kind to the boys from the University.....I'd like to believe that Yurg and Randy were the triggers of this entire mess.....and if they had simply said "no" to fire, gas engines, CNN, Pepsi and Brittney Spears.....we'd be alot better off. So the answer here? Well.....if you accept their report....the only way to fix the mess.....is to kill off the human race. And this brings us to a moral argument.....that global warming doesn't fit well into.....if the boys are correct.

Need to Get this Kid Moving On

It is a unique blog. My son is 18 and will be finishing his German school experience in six months. Basically, his social life and his enthusiasm for employment are such.....that I have this "fear" that he'll remain in my house (for months or years or decades). So, I think the time has come to "arrange" a marriage for him. Yep, you read it correctly......ladies.....I'm looking for a chance to marry him off.

Its really not the best practical situation but this kid is a gamer, with a social life that is barely existing.

The best prospect? Well....I think a gal that is 20 to 30 years old, and established in a business or farm...and needs a husband because her social life is null. Since he speaks both German and English....this is mostly for German or American women. He needs a disciplinary and dominant woman....to guide him along (remember, he is a gamer). It might be nice if you were a World of Warcraft gamer, but I kinda doubt many of you gals are such.

His negatives? Well...yeah.....he is a gamer....so don't expect a ballroom dancer or a guy who readily operates a chainsaw. He does pick up on knowledge quickly and probably could bale hay with any idiot out there. He does do six to eight smokes a day. He usually brushes his teeth each day although he might occasionally need some encouragement. He does have a limited wardrobe of three pairs of jeans and a dozen pullovers or T-shirts.....and might remember how to button up a shirt. Don't expect much in the way of fashion with this guy.

His positives? Well....he can actually cook on some occasions and might have a little bit of talent there. Because of his gaming experience, he has no problem in staying up till 1AM or even 4AM, if necessary. He travels well.....and doesn't mind wearing the same clothing for two days if necessary. He can be polite and nice....usually. He is fairly intelligent and can show a sense of humor on occasion. He is a World of Warcraft warrior, if that adds any points. He will do labor, but usually needs a bit of "encouragement".

So, there....ladies. I can't release the kid from his school obligation until July.....but you can get get your "bid" in on this deal now. Consider the fact that its hard these days for a domineering woman to find the right guy. Add in the fact that so many ladies are hard-working and focused on results but lacking a social life and eventually realizing how they lack a husband. Finally, the lack of so many "gentlemen" out there.....leaves many wondering where the good deals are.

Friday, 19 December 2008

New York and Its Woes

“I don't know what Caroline Kennedy's qualifications are. Except that she has name recognition, but so does J-Lo.” – Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y.

For about six weeks...there has been a strong hint that Caroline Kennedy would be 'given' Senator Clinton's seat. Up until the Blago event in Illinois....I would have guessed that things were nice and tidy....arranged for all the blocks to fall the right way for 2012. These guys have been busy for months...arranging things through 2016, and perhaps onto 2024.

Now? I'm not that sure that Caroline Kennedy's future will develop like the Obama plan suggests. She is the once and future VP for the Obama team. She has virtually no past, so its hard to say anything about her. The accomplishments of the past ten years? Working the charity angles in New York City. Not much else worth bragging about.

Andrew Cuomo? Well....he should have been the one getting the nod....with few New Yorkers arguing over this. It would have been Elliot Spitzer's decision....except for that hooker problem of his earlier in the year. So we have a guy whose career is pretty much as high as he desires and will likely not win the next governor's race. The real political players of New York...don't see Caroline Kennedy as a member of their tight group. They don't see her as "paying them back". Senator Caroline sounds nice...but they kinda know that she's a temp....and this whole deal is about her simply sitting there for four years....and taking the VP position.

My best guess.....if sixty percent of the top forty Democrats in NY state say Cumomo is the guy....I think the governor will go with that. Obama's team may have misjudged the state to some degree....thinking they have the upper hand.

My Dear Abby Article

This week, Dear Abby featured a letter which I sat and read about four times before I

put it down. I sat there for about three or four minutes contemplating this woman's issue...and her daughters....and then I came to a rational belief. The letter? Take a peek:

DEAR ABBY:

My 14-year-old daughter, “Melissa,” is bisexual. Most girls her age have sleepovers, but my husband says that any girl Melissa likes should be considered the same as a boyfriend, so it is not appropriate for her to spend the night.

I disagree. A girlfriend is not the same — mainly because Melissa won’t end up getting pregnant after spending the night with a girl. What do you think? — Mom in St. Petersburg, Fla.

My response?

Dear Mom:

Your fourteen year old daughter...is basically a slut and a highly sexed attention getter. If you truly believe that this fourteen year old....is a bisexual, then she has to be awful sexually active and doing so with your blessing. I'm more of a mind that she'll have sex with anyone, anytime, in any fashion, with no questions asked. As for this sleepover? If this were my daughter....I'd write the rules very simply...no male or female sleepover guests. I don't need some other parent blasting me on the phone for my immoral junior teenage daughter or her sexed-up behavior. You think you have issues now? Think again....when this kid is 20....she will be looking over relationships and asking why she has issues....and all you can say is that you think she should see a mental health professional.

For those who want to blast me or condemn my judgment....think about this concept....a fourteen year old kid barely knows anything in life....and has come to believe in her "sexual path" at this age. The parent is fully into this game and believes the whole judgment by the daughter as being honest or believable. No, I simply can't buy this idea. If we were talking about a seventeen year old.....then yes.....but this is not the case.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Greece and Its Riots


For the last two weeks....over in Greece, there has been a continual student riot episode going on. Its been two decades since most folks have seen stuff like this. The curious thing is that almost every night....hundreds to thousands of students....from 14-year old kids to college-level kids....have been out on the streets engaged in riots.

The key point occurred about ten days ago when some young guy was killed by the cops out on the streets. That kinda pushed up the riots to a maximum level.

So last night, the riots continued on, and the punks arrived with laser pointers....carrying this entire episode to a new level. The government is greatly dismayed over the entire affair...but can't get anything to shift into a quieter period.

So let me offer some analysis here.

When you look at the "timing" and "joint-efforts" in various cities....its a very coordinated effort. Its not something that grows up in one town and peaks three days later. Its part of an agenda. If I'm disturbing the government in suggesting this....perhaps the Greek government ought to start looking at the opposition parties and listen in to what phone chats are going on with the students.

The laser pointers? I'd suggest a couple of folks start targeting the "pointer-dudes" and simply put them down on the ground. You can't allow them to continue their little "game".

The agenda here? The punks are being used, by a political group. These kids may not grasp it, but every single act is being called and planned out by a political party head.

The shooting death of the one student? I would have some minor doubt that he was ever shot by the cops. Its more likely he was a "offering" to ensure the riots went up a degree or two. Shot by the political players? I'm only guessing and haven't read enough to say one way or the other.....which bothers me about this entire game.

Only my two cents of observation....but its sad that a political party uses a bunch of students.....to bring down a government.

Monday, 15 December 2008

"Shoeless" Joe Of Iraq


So there is "Joe" the plumber, "Joe" Sixpack, and now....."Shoeless Joe".....who tossed two shoes at Bush today.

If I may offer my analysis.....the Iraqi PM....al-Maliki....was the star.

GW did the football quarterback shuffle and dodged shoe one and two. There was al-Maliki, who didn't dodge a single one and even put his hand up to catch the second one thrown.

I was pretty impressed, and think if you were ever going to recruit for a professional dodge ball team....I'd want this al-Maliki guy on my team. He won't step away from the ball....he'll step toward it.

Anyway, my two cents. And the political fallout from this....some dude will be famous for life, for throwing two shoes at Bush. If thats the best you can do to get famous.....you might as well be digging septic tanks for a living.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Boycott Bama? Go For It

Somewhere, out there in the mighty woods of Bama.....there is a threat.

This fellow...Joe (its always a Joe, you know) has started up this web site.....Boycott Alabama. Apparently Joe and his GM friends feel that we in Bama have stood up against the auto industry, GM, and the union guys (UAW).

To be honest and completely true here.....both senators from Bama said "no" when the auto bailout deal came up. Neither think the package saved anyone and simply tossed money into a pit.....and we'd be back at the pit in six months for another fifteen billion.

So what Joe wants....is for folks to simply stop going into Bama.....stop buying Bama products.....stop staying at Bama hotels.....stop tourist arrangements in Bama.....stop screwing Bama women.....stop chatting or dating Bama trailer trash women.....stop buying Bama mary-j-u-wanna (we are the number one crop producer in America, don't you know), and stop watching our Alabama football team kicking ass all over America.

I read the entire web page, and paused a long time. I'm not used to someone trying to boycott Bama. I was willing to give them a free pass....and then, I decided I just couldn't do that. So I wrote Joe a email letter.

Dear Joe

I read through your material....and after a long pause....I've decided enough is enough....I'm going to boycott GM.

It was a hard decision to make. Once upon a time....before the 1980s....GM made real cars and was a decent manufacturer. But over the past thirty years....GM vehicles have become overpriced and barely worth the price that they want you to pay. The benefits package (note: I didn't say the pay scale)....is beyond the norm for any car producer. It simply adds onto the cost of every single vehicle.

And here....rather than look at the bloated nature of GM.....the incompetent management....the cost of making every single vehicle.....and the arrogance of the UAW.....you decide to pick on Alabama?

Brilliant? Nope....less than brilliant. Alot less.

So in the broad scheme of things.....I think this is a boycott on a 6-cylinder engine....with barely three cylinders running. The brakes are barely functional.....the windows are stuck in a permanent rolled-down position.....the key works only after jabbing it in forty times....the trunk lock is non-functional and has been for a dozen years.....and if lucky, you might get fifteen miles per gallon. So drive on with this boycott....as far as you can....until your GM car halts by the side of the road.

Anticipate this....if you are halted on the side of the road in Bama....we'll naturally pick you up and carry over to the gas station. If things don't work out....we'll invite you to the front porch and share a ice-tea with you. We'll talk over septic tanks, brake pads, NASCAR, and college football. We won't treat you in any ill fashion because of your lousy boycott....we'll even overlook your politics (ifing you were Republican).....and just act awful nice toward you. You might be shocked at how friendly we folks are....even if boycotted....but then, that why we are what we are.

And will the boycott ever achieve anything? No.....don't expect much of anything....except a few laughs on Monday morning when Bama folks ask what you boycotted....and the response is you don't have an idea of what we produce or sell.

Anyway, two cents of thought from a Bama-ite. I used to buy American-made cars....but I quit.....long ago....and I just don't see myself going back.

That was it. I felt good hitting the "deliver" button. The mere idea that some fool thinks he can threaten Bama.....just won't work with me. I browsed around today looking for commentary, and this guy kinda irked a couple hundred Bama folks so far, and I'm thinking by Monday night.....there'll half the state pretty upset about this threat.

You want a boycott....got for it. We can forget about GM real easy. It won't take much effort to forget about an incompetent company.

Did You Know.....

This is the third in my series of blogs....over comments made at the People's Cube. I've sat and pondered this thoughts a good bit.

Did you know that if President George W. Bush really WERE Hitler, most of his political opponents would be dead by now?

For the past four years, I've heard this comparison to Hitler alot. As a historian, I usually laugh at the comparison because the person obviously knows little about history. The comment there is rather deep....because its absolutely true...if you were voicing any issues with the Hitler regime...you were picked up and sent off. The Bush administration hasn't done that.

Did you know that after almost 50 yrs on this planet, the US Presidency will be Barack Obama's first REAL job?

I pondered this for a while. Lawyers spend a heck of a lot of time in school...so they don't usually finish until their late 20's. In his case, Obama went onto do some minor work in NY City, then moved onto graduate school....and then to volunteer work in Chicago. Its difficult to classify anything in this area as REAL work. And when he finally got hired on by the public to be a state legislature guy...most of the time, he just voted "here"....rather than push or discuss matters in the forum. When elected to the US Senate...there isn't any major legislation that you can tie to this guy or overseas travel for the Senate. So if you looked for REAL work....there isn't any. The Cube is right about this question.

Did you know that if politicians could run things like the auto industry successfully, the Soviet Union WOULDN'T have collapsed?

In a humorous way, its a good comparison. The American car industry is pretty much as socialized as you can get. The American car industry is a failure....they won't even deny it when it comes up in conversation. To think that the US government would own part of the car empire...and think they can make it work successfully....is a joke. The Soviet Union eventually collapsed because every part of the game...was corrupted. Nothing could exist without massive funding.

So my two cents of analysis for today.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Ethnical Groups

Long have I pondered this debate....there is a ethnic group for everyone and everyone for a ethnic group.

What is sad here....is that today....I belong to no real ethnic group. You could refer to me as British-American.....because of the relatives who came over in the early 1700s to North Carolina. But thats fifteen generations ago. And then you have the problem of this not be very "special".

So I've come to a radical thought....Bama-American.

Its different. Its new. And its pretty much whatever I want to make out of it.

A Bama-American tends to be slightly heavier than the traditional American guy. He eats a bit more fattier food....like catfish, hush puppies, ribs, fries, bar-b-q, steak and chicken.

A Bama-American tends to drive a truck or a fairly big car. He isn't much into small vehicles or gas-savings. He'd like to have space for a dog to ride too.

A Bama-American can vote Republican or Democrat....although typically he sees both as dimwits and thinks either is capable of taking a bribe.

A Bama-American has most of his calender from September to November filled with Saturday afternoon football meetings. It can be Auburn or Alabama....doesn't matter which.

A Bama-American tends to be the first guy out after a tornado warning....ready to help any guy who had damage or issues. If it takes all night....he'll be there for his neighbor, cousin or in-laws.

A Bama-American isn't particular about women except trailer trash gals are a notch above the rest. If he can find a trailer gal with a 1976 Ford up on blocks in the front yard, its a match made in heaven.

A Bama-American watches mostly Fox News, TBS, and the local stations. He knows that NPR exists but hasn't ever tuned those folks in. And he wouldn't care to watch any cooking shows unless they were frying catfish.

A Bama-American, I think I could turn this into a regular phrase....maybe even Katie Couric might use it once a month.....for some odd reason. It'd have to be added to the dictionary sooner or later. Maybe folks would start to realize that we Bama-Americans are being marginalized and discriminated against in the national view of things. We might be able to overcome these discriminary episodes and eventually get a Nobel Peace prize....like that Tennessee guy....Al Gore.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Hollywood NPR?

In case you missed it or it just didn't stand out.....the kindly folks over at NPR have a pretty keen pay scale situation. The managing editor Barbara Rehm? She makes $383,139.

The host for All Things Considered.....Robert Siegel.....gets paid $350,288.

One of our favorite folks.....for Morning Edition....Renee Montagne makes $332,160.

The Morning Edition host.....Steve Inskeep....makes $331,242 5.

Finally.....NPR afternoon programming director Richard L. Harris....makes roughly $190,ooo.

I sat there for a while.....pondering this. Then I started to ask myself why any idiot would pay someone that far off the payscale of "normalcy"?

This is state-run radio.....not some fancy network that runs chicken or booze commercials. The entire network ought to be run out of Dayton, Ohio.....and no one should make more than $120k a year max. I'm trying to figure some logic to this....but there really isn't any.

For those "journalists" who want to correct me and hint that these are professionals and deserve this type of pay.....listen, buddy.....if you want big money....go over to NBC or MSNBC. State-run NPR...is not a place for "stars". If you care to argue that NPR is a major network....no, its a state-run radio operation that used to be a place that pumped out culture and arts to the American heartland. Somewhere over the past twenty-five years....they lost their compass and became this mega-network of pretenders. They'd like to be a real network like MSNBC.....but face it.....they simply aren't in that league.

This entire game of paying top dollar? End it. You can't convince me any of these people are worth $150k or more. There simply isn't any logic to it.

So I'm going to offer NPR another method of saving money and cutting the budget. Pack up and move the entire central staff to Dayton, Ohio. For those who won't move.....let them go. Let folks learn right away that Dayton is the heartland and you can buy a real house for less than $180k. The crew can have breakfast each day over at the IHOP, and talk heartland trash talk in the afternoons.....before they run off to have a beer over at the local sportsbar.

For the bloody NPR pro's who'd like to clobber me....go for it. Get one thing straight......I'd take your job in a heartbeat, and work for less than $60k a year.....and probably bring the heartland to its knees.....weeping and laughing at the same time. Slanted stories? Well.....I don't really give much of a damn for such behavior, so I'm guessing I won't win any special favors. I'm guessing I won't be called in.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Journalists versus Bloggers

I wrote a comment on NPR yesterday.....and got a "perky" note on my facts. It was kinda obvious that journalists have a problem with bloggers.....and we bloggers are in a special category. So I sat and pondered this, and came to this analysis.

Prior to 1700, if you were a newspaper in America.....you had a publisher and a couple of 'helpers'.....and if you were lucky...you might publish once a week. Your paragraphs were short and choppy. Your education? Fairly good but no college or university background. You had a great skill of writing a summary of events....nothing more.

Prior to 1800, you were a simple journalist with a limited background. You might make enough to survive.....and spent most of your time helping to set the type on your story. You avoided slanted articles....otherwise, your target would come to visit you and offer a knuckle sandwich.

Prior to 1900.....you might have had some training as a young man with the paper.....doing "type". You did real articles and might have made a bit of money.....only if the boss really liked the story. Universities had yet to offer degrees in journalism, but you could take a degree and spin over into the "skill".

Prior to the 1930s.....you looked for angles and slants. Your education was mostly what you got from being a junior person on the paper. You made a fair wage, but never got rich. No university in America offered anything in terms of a real journalist degree.

Prior to the 1950s.....you started to see some degrees and educational efforts made. You found journalism creeping into radio with real reports. You had begun to see TV as a possible vehicle. You were watching several major papers in America reaching a major level of readership.

So things finally started shifting in the 1960s.....TV, newspapers and radio were all playing on a level playing field for a brief time. Journalist students graduated from school and were blessed as "professional" journalists.....thus making them the kind of folks you need for news organizations.

By the 1980s....news TV took center stage.....and newspapers were viewing the slow beginning of the end. But what the TV and newspaper crowd didn't really grasp....was that the simple non-professional writer was sitting there....ready to go. By 2000....bloggers were ready to move onto the national scene.

The curious thing is that non-professional writers needed a platform, which only the internet could provide. The public was seeking something that the TV, radio, and newsprint crowd could not deliver.....fresh prospective.

So we stand here today....with bloggers facing off journalists. Journalists hate bloggers.....because they are the "hired guns" of writing of today. A blogger might have twelve folks a day or 300 folks a week reading their material. A blogger might have 50,000 folks an hour reading their material. The journalists feel threatened.....frankly, they might be right.

An entire segment of the journalists society could sit there on a story....refusing to give it traction......for a political reason.....and the blogger really doesn't view the political reasoning or logic involved. The blogger has no oath, no loyalty, no boss, and no handcuffs upon his written word. If he wants to write......he writes. He does it for no pay. Journalists can't say the same.....their entire life is dependent on making their boss happy.....otherwise.....no money.

So I can understand the NPR-viewers logic and why he/she wanted "slam" me a little. The truth is.....its mostly amusing that anybody from NPR would ever read my written word. I'm a simple guy from Bama, with no journalistic background or education. I've read Steinbeck, traveled the Rhein, sat in a sandbagged pit under SCUD attack, drank Danish beer, and watched the sun rise 10,000 times. Maybe I have a fresh prospective on life and events. And if not, then I'll just write another blog, and live another day.

NPR and the Saga

As things got sorted out today....the NPR story had fascinating turns. The main players mentioned yesterday as being "finished".....aren't.

So what do we know....from various publications? Well...there were around twenty-odd positions which they were going to fill....but hadn't done so yet....and those got cut (easily enough). The remaining 45-odd positions are mostly support and technican positions....with no one of any great mention amongst the group. The NPR folks were told the travel budget is pretty "hot" and not likely to be used unless is real important. The general expense account? Well....its on a short stick and folks are going to be reminded to cut close when they need stuff.

Will they be shifting the temperature down to 65? No. Will they cut back on manhours? No. Will they shift to other formats of a lesser cost variety? This...no one can be sure of.

Based on belt-tightening....they might survive with the new number of employees through June....but I don't see this ease of economic pain improving. They likely will come another cut of a similar variety by August of 2009, unless some company comes up with significant capital. Its hard to see any positive for the whole year of 2009.

My advice to NPR? Settle back and start accepting the idea of four hours of folk music, jazz, opera, and classical each day. Settle back and accept some programming by local colleges or state programs. Dump news as much as possible on weekends and just have interviews or story-reading.

For the life of me.....I can't understand this massive fascination that NPR has with news. Their initial structure in the 1970s and 1980s.....didn't have more than five percent of the news that they feature today. Do people really need this? This is the curious thing about this organization....they really don't want regular people telling what to put on.

My best idea? Start a show where you pick two events over the past forty years.....and bring in two folks associated with the event.....and interview them for fifteen minutes each. It would be great to get prospectives from regular people and not from historians or professors or political figures. It'd be nice to bring back the 1972 shortstop of the New York Yankees.....Gene Micheal (if he's still living) and ask him a dozen questions about the team and the year.

My belief is that NPR is really stretching itself and its future....by playing this current game. They really don't want to focus on anything except what they perceive as their best asset. I'd like to believe that we get enough news from Fox, CNN, ABC, NBC, and CBS.....and we sure don't need anymore. But we aren't getting any classical or jazz....if you run around most southern states or the western part of the US. Try finding a station in Idaho that plays jazz.....it simply doesn't exist.

I grew up in Bama in the 1970s......and every evening around 9PM....I'd turn to the state channel and listen to opera, classical or jazz......or listen to the St Louis Cardinals baseball game in the summertime. I would imagine now....in Bama....there isn't a single station within 300 miles of my old home....where you could pick up jazz. Its kinda sad.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

A Crack at NPR?

Reality came to NPR today. For two decades, NPR had been busy building a media "empire". They were never happy just being a simple TV format for state-educational channels. They worked hard on big companies to get involved in NPR....and donate massive funds. The game was simple....move away from cheaper productions, to a very upscale production. On the radio side....they kicked most of the classical music, opera music and jazz...off. Some of the old simple shows stayed around...but the majority of their shows were news orientated....as if we didn't have enough of those.

Today, we learn that 65 folks were laid off from NPR....in what is likely the "first wave" of several we may see over the next two years. Of the group let go today....that most of us might recognize? Linda Wertheimer, Noah Adams, and rural affairs correspondent Howard Berkes.

The contributing factors? High-priced journalists that helped to hire more high-priced journalists, who helped to hire more high-priced journalists. If you had looked over at NPR five years ago....you would have asked why so many news programs? Why not more folk music or jazz? Frankly, the boys lost their compass and their orientation. They didn't realize the public really had enough news.

What happens a year from now, as more funding disappears? Some of these guys are going to accept salary cuts....say three to five percent....to have a job. To be honest, there just aren't going to be more journalist jobs out there. If you gaze across at the newspaper empire and the TV market....everything is downsizing...so they are in a dead field.

The sad thing....is that they had some special magic back twenty years ago....and lost their way.

Rock Me Over Gitmo

Today, the news boys came out with a new item. They have the music listing of what the Gitmo guys use on the prisoners there. In the last twenty-four hours, all of these musicians and news players....have jumped on the wagon and are now calling this usage of music as TORTURE.

I looked at the listing:

"Enter Sandman," Metallica.

"Bodies," Drowning Pool.

"Shoot to Thrill," AC/DC.

"Hell's Bells," AC/DC.

"I Love You," from the "Barney and Friends" children's TV show.

"Born in the USA," Bruce Springsteen.

"Babylon," David Gray.

"White America," Eminem.

"Sesame Street," theme song from the children's TV show.


They had some other bands, which were used lesser in nature: Aerosmith, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Don McLean, Lil' Kim, Limp Bizkit, Meat Loaf, Rage Against the Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Tupac Shakur.

These folks are pretty serious about their criticism. The news guys claim that some of the prisoners attempted to bang their heads against the wall....and some contemplated suicide.

I sat there and finally pondered enough on the issue....and I realized the impact of the accusations here.

Basically, folks were always right....rock causes mental damage, suicide tendencies, and freaks out some folks. Yes, the guys dumping criticism.....must be right. There is a terrible thing underway here. We need control. We need limits on rock. We need to bring reality back into our lives.....and dump rock.

I realize this is burning the heart and soul out of some of you. Those of you who grew up with Bruce Springsteen are likely very hurt by my comments. Obviously people have used the terrible act of rock music to torture people. What if the Gitmo folks had used Shakespeare or Hemingway? What if the Gitmo guys had used Plato or Socrates on these terrible terrorists? What if they allowed my blog to be read daily by these prisoners?

America, we have to wake up. Simply a bit of Johnny Cash or Merle Haggard, would have been torture to these poor Islamic guys. They aren't used to such things. They might be severely hurt just by the Bee Gees.

And as I turn....all of these musical devices that our kids are carrying around.....pumping out music left and right? Torture? Self-torture? Yes.....with no doubt. We are becoming a very sadistic society, bringing torture to school each day and sharing it with our buddies. Or when we drag in a Louie Armstrong CD at the office.....we are sharing torture. Or when we have some hot gal on our arm and we are playing some Bette Middler....its a form of torture.

So as I sit there.....listening to Oak Ridge Boys.....I'm thinking torture. As I'm playing some Spanish opera music.....I'm thinking torture. As I'm playing some Greek flute music......I'm thinking torture. Thanks to those kind folks who noted all this Gitmo stuff....I can see clearly now. Well....maybe not as clearly as I was seeing a day or two ago.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Just a Dash of Vinegar

So this is what happened to me today. I have a co-worker who I've known for almost five years....he's GS and he's finally leaving Germany. Today, he wanted to take me and two asociates off-base for lunch. We said "fine", and then he said to meet him in the parking lot....we'd go in his Volvo station wagon (the junker).

So he pulls up and I'm riding in the backseat....but as I open the door, I notice two bottles (the 1-gallon size) in the bottom. One was cooking oil. One was vinegar. I notice that its pretty "wet" down there in the feet area of the car....VERY wet in fact. Then this smell hits me.

By this point, he has come around, and he now realizes that the two bottles that the wife gave him that morning to dump at recycling.....well...one of them has opened during his drive. The vinegar bottle.....and its emptied totally into the backseat area.

We have a bit of a laugh, and I go ahead to sit down. We all are in the car.....moving through the parking lot, and the smell is a bit overwhelming. I notice by this point that my loafers are not airtight, and I've got a bit of vinegar in my loafers now. Wet socks, with vinegar killing any foot order that I may have had.

We make it to the Italian restaurant, but I've got this vinegar smell in my noise, and it just continues on.

The curious thing is that our buddy is leaving Germany within two weeks and was going to sell the "beast" tomorrow for $450. Its a 14-year old Volvo of questionable worth prior to the vinegar episode, and I'm pretty curious if he can even get $200 now. The deal was made a couple of days ago......so it'll be curious if he can get the smell out.

Its funny.....I'll end up remembering this guy.....more for the vinegar episode than the five years of working with him.

An Inch is 50 Miles

This is what we know....down in Mississippi....a George County High School football died after being pulled over by the local cop for running a stop sign. The kid, 17 years old, died of what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound....at least this is what the cops are saying.

Billey Joe Johnson is the kid involved. The location? Lucedale. The best we can say is that the cop had pulled the kid over....taken the license and gone back to his police car to call in the episode. While sitting there.....Billey Joe somehow pulled out a unseen shotgun, put it to his head, and then killed himself.

"The deputy was sitting in his patrol vehicle ... when he heard a gunshot and saw the victim laying on the ground by the driver's side door of the vehicle that Johnson was driving. A shotgun was laying on the victim," according to a Sheriff's Department statement.

I sat there for a good three minutes reading over this story. There are two dozen sources on the story, but they all come back to the same facts....nothing new. I sat there....pausing over what they wanted me to believe. This kid is being recruited by a dozen colleges. He is considered one of the best prospects in the entire state for next year. The coach, the staff, the locals....are in total disbelief.

Frankly, I'm in a state of NON-belief. Pull out a shotgun (unloaded of course). Go sit in your car. The only location you could put a shotgun within easy reach...is the backseat....either on the seat or the floor. A shotgun is long and difficult to quickly drag over the seats. Once you did drag it over the seats....then the problem of getting this to your head and in a position to shoot yourself. Picking a rifle or shotgun to kill yourself....is highly impractical. It can occur, but its just not the weapon of choice. Trying to get the stock in a position to shoot yourself....is fairly difficult.

You see....I don't buy this story at all. I'm more of the mind that this kid was stopped by the cop....and something went wrong in the cops presentation....and ended up shooting the kid.

What the cop really has to worry about....is that the gun barrel was more than a foot from the kid's body when it fired. If this scenario is figured out by the investigators....then the suicide angle is completely wasted and cannot occur. I'm thinking the medical examiner today is looking very closely over the body of the kid....and the wound is being measured out.

The cop involved? Either the suicide story is 100 percent true, or its 100 percent false....and the inches of the gun barrel to the body...are like 50-mile lengths. Every inch matters. I'll sit from a distance to watch this episode....but I have my doubts.

Monday, 8 December 2008

I'm Sorry, Really.

Today, we got something that is pretty rare...an apology. Of course, it would not come from congress, the president, the media or the banking sector. This apology came from GM.

“At times we violated your trust by letting our quality fall below industry standards and our designs become lackluster,” wrote GM. “We have proliferated our brands and dealer network to the point where we lost adequate focus on our core U.S. market.” What’s more GM said it wrongly focused on pick-ups and SUVs over other brands and as a result “paid dearly.”

Bluntly.....GM......I really don't deserve your apology. I asked for your pick-ups and your SUVs....because I wanted them. The thirty other million Americans out there with GM pick-ups and SUVs...wanted the same DAMN thing.

Its amusing as I sit here.....I get an apology from the one group that I really didn't need it.....yet I still wait on CNN, Fox, Newsweek, and even congress.....to give me a simple apology.

The American public demanded pick-ups. We demanded vehicles with power. We demanded SUV's that could haul twelve folks even though the family never had more than four riders in the SUV. We wanted vehicles which got 18 miles per gallon. We demanded vehicles that failed crash tests. We even asked for vehicles with names.....that we could not even pronounce. So tonight, as darkness falls across GM's great brand.....we pause and wonder just how low they will crawl.....to get some money from political figures in DC who have no idea how to build a car and really don't care.

Concealed Weapons in National Parks


This past week, as the era ends with Bush....a decision was made to allow concealed weapons within National Parks.

Its difficult me to go along with this idea....at least from the point of view of the 1970s and 1980s. This would likely be the last place I'd want a situation where everyone was toting a gun. I am a realist....believing if you are camping in bear country....you ought to have a weapon. But this goes a step beyond that point.

What we have is a growing belief in lawlessness across the United States. It doesn't matter if you go to the Mall or a library or even Burger King....people feel threatened. Its not safe like it was in the 1960s. Its not the Land of Oz.

Wicked people exists in every neighborhood now. You've got gangs throughout the south. You've got teenage nutcases with the agenda of killing your kid or your husband or wife....just for the thrill.

So in the national parks of America....people now feel unsafe there. This is the sad tragic part of our society. We might be able to outlaw guns, but then what? Will the nutcases or gangs simply play civilized government? No. The challenge is back on the courts, the authority, and civilization to put violent people into long-term jail situations and put nutcases into mental facilities. At that point, we might reverse this stupid trend and forbid concealed guns in national parks....which is the appropriate goal of this situation.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

The German Version of Stimulus

There is a discussion underway in Germany....over a stimulus package....kinda like the Bush package....but more complicated (naturally, that is the only way that a German political figure can make things).

So the deal talked about is this....every man and woman who earn money, thus paying taxes....get 250 Euro each (roughly $340 each). Then each kid in the family would get 150 Euro ($210 roughly). But the deal involves this curious loop-de-loop. You can only get the money....if you put money of your own. So lets say you were a family of three....thus to earn 650 Euro. The government vision is that you would have to put around 500 Euro of your own money.....to get a total package of 1150 Euro ($1400 roughly).

No one has rightly explained how you'd show the contribution of yours....or if this would be transferred to the government, and then transferred back with the full amount in your account. Most people say that there have to be absolute limits on the way its spent.....NO trips to Spain, NO pay-offs of loans, NO visits to hookers or bars.....which kinda spoils the way that most guys would use the money in the US....like running up to some casino for a weekend with the Bush-Stimulus check and having fun for 36 hours.

It'll be weeks....maybe even three months before they can come to some conclusion and agree on how this will work. Will I be getting some of this damn money? Yes....because of the damn German taxes I pay. So I got the Bush-Stimulus package and the German package. Pretty nifty....but frankly....I really don't care. They will get the money back as they raise taxes eventually to cover loses....so I'm not really gaining nothing. As for what'd I'd like to buy? Well....a 40-inch plasma tv would be real nice....or a lazy-boy recliner.

When Your Bank is Really No Longer Safe

This week....ever so quietly...in a small business magazine of really no importance in Germany....an event occurred. The journalists for the magazine went out....and were able to buy the details on bank accounts held by 21 million Germans are for sale on the black market for 12 million euros (15 million dollars). The journalists work for Wirtschaftswoche magazine...met with a couple of guys that were middlemen. They arranged for a CD with 1.2 million accounts to be part of their original deal...and the magazine arranged a down payment for that data.

To put it bluntly....as night fell yesterday....this little bit of news had circled around Germany...and alot of folks are asking questions...serious questions. Thank God...its the weekend and the questions can only be answered by dimwit political figures or journalists. The real experts are off skiing for the weekend or drinking heavily in Rome.

The truth is....this group of CD's cover one in four of Germans.

The immedate reaction by the government? Well...they stood around and then said they'd pass more laws to protect more data. The amusing thing is...there are sufficent laws on the books to protect the data....the goverernment is basically ill prepared to carry out their mission and the cops are limited in the knowledge and capability to take on such an intelligent group of individuals.

I paused for a while and considered this entire scenario. Who has the knowledge to carry out a collection like this....and have a very strong dislike of the German government to create such chaos? Liechtenstein. Yep, little Liechtenstein. The country that would barely fit in a US county.

If you remember the chaos created in the past year when the German intelligence folks went into Liechtenstein and picked up a listing of all of the illegal German accounts there....where money was being hidden by the German rich and elite...there was a terrible mess created. The banks in Liechtenstein were upset....the government and king of Liechtenstein were upset....and the rich Germans who carefully hid their money were upset.

I'm thinking this was a moment of revenge. When the Germans eventually come to the end of the collection point on this entire CD....they will find this was an arranged deal where someone did everything possible to let the Germans know that their own banking system is no longer safe. How many copies of the CD collection exist? Thats the insurance in this deal. The Germans won't be able to say a word in the public sector because of the threat of more disks appearing.

There will be a quiet moment at some cafe in France....probably on the streets of Paris...where a German intelligence guy meets some small player from Liechtenstein....and there is a moment of direct knowledge exchanged. If the Germans stop their aggressive behavior and anti-Liechtenstein program....then this CD collection stays hidden. The intelligence guy will smile and hint that everything is taped and the guy will be charged with something. The guy smiles back and says "every single law and security program you enact...will be undone in hours, not days". At that point...no one is smiling. The intelligence guy knows the other guys is right.

So there will be a quiet policy enacted....my humble opinion...where the attempt to prosecute rich elite Germans over their bank accounts ends. The anti-Liechtenstein effort goes down the tubes. And the nothing is ever said in public again....by any political figure in Germany. The news folks may ask questions over and over....but it simply won't matter.

When you tend to screw with people....if you are very lucky....they won't screw you back. Thats the best scenario. The other scenario....is worrisome....and we'd best not even open that can of worms.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

The Larry Langford Mess


About a week ago, the Feds finally came for the Birmingham mayor, Larry Langford. Folks in Birmingham, around the state, and even nationally....don't have much of a positive mind over Larry. Larry is now facing 101 counts of bribery and corruption, including charges of accepting expensive jewelry in return for public favors.

The general feeling is that Larry is a bogus political figure, with no real expertise in anything...even acting like a mayor. Larry had big intentions of running for governor in the next election...but I think this may have cooled off that idea.

Birmingham is a special place...where most of you would never move to. There is a north-south and east-west interstate to travels through Birmingham. You would think of commerce and lots of business chances in this town...but what you find is mostly crime, drugs, and a behavior that anyone in a position of authority...is corrupt. Larry is simply at the top of this chain...there are hundreds of other folks who rank behind him.

Kylie Whitmire wrote a great little piece in the Birmingham Weekly...speaking of Larry's ability to generate public support. There was a meeting two years ago in Nashville....where diversity was the chief topic of discussion. Kylie's story: One of the panel discussions focused on “diversity.” Despite the billing, there was no Asian panelist, no Latino, no gay. Instead, there were five black business leaders talking a lot about getting into restricted country clubs. One panelist, Tennessee commissioner of financial institutions Kevin Lavender, called Birmingham the most racist city in the country. He based his assessment on how he was treated here by a gas station attendant and his experience as a lunch guest at the Birmingham Country Club.

“I don’t care for your city because of those experiences that I’ve had in the last four or five years in Birmingham,” Lavender said.

Only one member of the Birmingham delegation defended the city. Then-County Commission President Langford blasted Lavender and the panelists. He invited them to visit Birmingham, because the city they described was not the city Langford knew, he said.

“And if I had $35,000 in disposable income, I damn sure wouldn’t give it to no golf club,” he said.

This is the kind of guy that Larry is...he generates public sentiment....but he delivers it in a tidy package with a price attached. You are basically funding Larry and his friends...to make yourself feel good. Its the state of politics in Birmingham today.

The charges and Larry? Well....there is hope here. If Larry can simply show that Karl Rove was in the state and possibly could have manipulated the charges....then everything gets dropped. This is the current trend of fighting charges on corruption by Democratic leaders in Bama. Its a great trend....because Karl is the most evil man on the face of the earth.

Larry's best chance now? Beg off on some charges as being guilty and expect a 20-year sentence....then hope that at the end of the Obama period....either four years or eight....he can pardon Larry.

A movie on Larry? Actually, I wouldn't mind seeing such a movie. But folks would really be disheartened over his false words and fake promises. It might bring Birmingham back to reality....but then there'd be another Larry out there....trying repeat the magic and things would go back to normal.