Sunday, 31 August 2008

So Where Would I Move?

So where would I move, if I could move to my choice of fantasy lifestyles? Its a question that pops up every month or two and I waste an hour thinking....pondering...and wondering.

Eventually, after years of traveling and thinking....I've come down to ten places that I really could pack up and move to....for the sake of just living (not working). These are in no random order.

1. Coos Bay, Oregon. I've been through the area on three occasions and I usually get out and spend an hour, two hours or even three hours just sitting on the side of the beach. There is the sand dunes area just north of the town....which I usually spend another hour or two. And as you drive further north to Lincoln City....it only gets better. Its a beach of solitude, where one would prefer to sit in a lawn chair...sipping tea.....and thinking. The problem though with Coos Bay....is that there are no real jobs after the lumber industry or local tourism. And amusingly enough...the people you bump into.....remind of folks in the backwoods of Kentucky.

2. Ring of Fire, Ireland. The Irish drive you mad with their woes, sorrows and sad tales. You'd like to just hand them another drink and tell them to walk away. But then you have the scenic life there to contend with. Everything is green and you can feel a mist in the air. I'd move there in a heartbeat, but then that bar scene would depress the heck out of me.

3. Fort Morgan, Bama. There is a historical theme to Fort Morgan, and then there is the beach. Most Bama folks have never been to Fort Morgan. They'll tell you about the history and where it is on the map.....but they've never been there.

4. Flagstaff, Arizona. Unlike most of Arizona, Flagstaff is a higher elevation....where the summer temperature might be 85 to 90. The flip side is a winter blast of low temperatures for four months. No matter where you turn....pine trees. There is an age factor of the town....where you see a historical situation. The great thing is that you are an hour away from the Grand Canyon and three hours from Vegas.

5. Tucson, Arizona. Except for the heat....I've always had a thing for Tucson.

6. The western coast of Denmark. I've spent six weeks of my life there, on three vacations. The people are friendly. The beaches are pure. And the temperature is perfect. The only negative is the cost of living ($10 a gallon for gas). I don't know how Danes make it. And then there is the pizza problem (they make the worst pizza in the world). Yet, I'd go in a heartbeat, to stay.

7. Leiden, Netherlands. Its a rare place where bike trails outnumber streets. It was made to transverse by foot or bike....rather than by car. Its a half-hour ride by train to Amsterdam. I spent a weekend there, and came away with a desire to return.

8. Rome. The crime, the heat, the traffic, the gypsy population, the dirt....it should persuade you pack and leave. But then you have the character of the city, the history, the food, the wine, and the coffee. Its a love-hate situation.

9. Curon Venosta, Italy. In the middle of the Italian Alps...is this mountaintop. You're burn half your brakes getting there and back. Just driving there from the nearest real town....is a two-hour trip. The view is what drives you to stay....and the cool fresh air. But after October....you can forget about driving up there without hitting some snow.

10. Pulaski, Tenn. I grew up across the state line....but came to like the small community of Pulaski. Its got character and small-town feeling. Folks there are real and full of life. You couldn't ask for nothing else.

My Addiction

I admittedly have an addiction. Yes, this....I will admit....is my problem....ice cream cones.

I cannot pass a stand at a county fair, a street fest, or just the front of Wal-Mart....with finding myself drawn like a magnet to the ice cream dispenser.

It is an addiction. My hands tremble. My palms sweat. My saliva level jumps 100 percent. I feel heat upon my back and neck. And then my survival tendency kicks in. I have to have one. So I buy it. After about three minutes of enjoyment, the sudden rush occurs. I feel a "high" of sorts. I feel calm and my tremble disappears.

Its a bad addiction....which there aren't any real rehabs for this type of problem. The only real cure is to avoid county fairs, fests and Wal-Mart. I don't like that method of "cold turkey", so I go back for more on another day. I'd like to find alternate addictions, but the more I look....the more attractive the ice cream cone becomes. And after all....its just one....for right now anyway. I might have an urge for a second....but I always convince myself that its not necessary and just walk away.

Life is complicated enough as it is....and these minor addictions might be just ok....at least in a ethical way of viewing things. I'll probably die with a ice cream cone in my hands....and someone will make a comment or two on my tombstone about this...."if he had just given up the ice cream"....but....oh well.

Notting Hill (16th time)

I watched Notting Hill for the 16th time last night.

There are around a dozen reasons why I watch it (I even own a copy). First, there is the street scenes which entice me to move to Notting Hill and just live the rest of my life there. Then there is the acting by the supporting cast. Spike is probably one of the best characters ever written. Then we have the acting of Huge Grant...which he should have gotten an Academy Award.

Then we come to the music of the movie....which has one of the best arrangements of any movie ever made. I could listen to the soundtrack over and over.

The final reason? The last five minutes of the movie make it one of the greatest scripted moments of film history.

So Notting Hill falls into my top ten movies of all time easily. And I'll probably get another sixteen views within the next three years.

Clayton County Georgia, Continuing

Since Friday's episode of the termination of the county eduction certification.....things have been pretty messy.

First, what most folks may not realize is that Clayton county is not alone on this list of county's under review. Shocking? Clarke county also finds itself on a warning list. Their episode started earlier this year when some parent complained to the southern conference that handles accreditations when the county education board made the decision not to renew the contract of former Cedar Shoals High School Principal Tommy Craft. Curiously, this came after Craft was pressured to hire a board member's relative as assistant principal. In the complaint....the parent said "a perception ... that the board interferes in the retention of persons best qualified to serve in leadership positions."

The amusing thing for Clarke county is that the accreditation folks came up and tasked the district for a "action plan." The best that the board would offer was a proposal from the school board calling for a team-building exercise involving the superintendent and the board and tightening of ethics policies designed to limit board members' involvement in personnel matters, including the hiring of board members' relatives. The best part of this story......is that the team-building exercise was held, but the board then decided against toughening its ethics policy.

My guess...in six months...Clarke county gets screwed next. This episode in Clayton county won't faze them a bit. They were surge on and be just as foolish.

Continuing on....parents were busy on Friday afternoon in Clayton county.....calling the school district outside of the county, to discuss registering their kids there. Then they discovered that you actually have to live in that county (taxes, property, rental, etc). They thought this had been fixed in a legislative session earlier in the year, but no....it was discussed and then dropped. So you can't waiver out of the "living in the county" requirement. Again, shocking for these folks.

The county board meeting on Friday? Well....at some point...they were going to close the doors again, for a group session only. One member immediately got up and walked out....refusing to operate in such a manner. Their main problem now is to figure out how to fill the other board seats which by most options that shown....are some type of county election. Apparently the county commission doesn't have the authority to appoint folks.

As for SACS, the accreditation organization....some folks on forums in Georgia are suggesting that they are out of touch and ought to be brought into court. I'll admit that this was only mentioned five or six times....and might be a radical approach. SACS obviously knows that the county board was corrupt and bringing down the school system. It would be questionable if they were hiring competent teachers or just friends of the board.

There has also been a suggestion on the forums that SACS is working with some land speculation folks to help them buy up cheaper property at the end of the Atlanta airport....cheaply. Clayton county lies at the very end of the airport, and theres been talk of expansion. So a suggestion comes out that SACS gives out the warning then trips up the county....making property cheaper. I don't personally buy this idea....it'd destroy SACS if such a allegation was proven true.

What to expect on Monday? With just three members left on the board....I'm suspecting that the internal pressure with those three is tremendous. I'll predict that one resigns by mid-week and the other two by the end of next weekend. It'll be left to the governor or the state assembly to fix the problem from that point on. The exit of kids? Yes.....by the end of October....I'm predicting 3,000 kids leave the county via some method....living with relatives or with some church group out of state. The teachers remaining? Well....this is a curious thing. Why would you stay in a system where the accreditation is gone? Those teachers who were within five years of retirement....probably will give up and retire early. I think there will be an impossible task in recruiting teachers for July 2009.

Now some personal opinions.

In Bama....there is a university (I won't recite their name, but this isn't Auburn or UA), which has a major computer systems degree program. The town next to the university has major technology companies spread throughout the area, which pay fairly well. The companies won't recruit to any major degree within the local university for upcoming graduates with the engineering or hardware degrees. They consider the program at this university to be inferior and not up to standards. Most folks will readily admit that the math skills of these graduates generally are lacking. The companies run off to Auburn or UA for alot of their new employees. The university continues their systems degree program and proudly advertises how it'll help you get a job....but the truth is that this education system is a failure. No one talks in public about this.....they just kinda accept it. The companies with cheaper paying non-technical positions end up hiring these guys. Life goes on.

I grew up in the south and readily saw the school system as capable but always having a taste of corruption. They hire friends of the board or friends of the teachers. The construction projects always have some friend of the board involved and one can only suspect that payoff's occur with each project. Most don't know a thing about ethics and just look the other way. If you even discuss ethics with a board member....they look at you....as if you were foolish.

There is a program within the Department of Defense called Troops to Teachers. You have a guy retiring after twenty years with a degree and smart. The program introduces the guy to the system and helps to find teaching jobs where teaching certificates can be gained at a later date or in a short one month session.

The interesting thing is that most school boards and teachers unions in America don't want to utilize the Troops to Teachers program. These retired GI's....don't want anything to do with unions....and they are rather blunt about that fact. These guys won't accept ill behavior in the classroom. The retired GI's demand discipline and expect respect. Typically, their results shock fellow teachers and school administrators....because they turn around schools in a short period of time. Their chief weapon? They demand authority in the classroom....accepting of no punks or brats.

The case of Clayton county interests me. I'd like to think that these guys can work their way out. But things look rather dim.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Stereotypes

I am a humble human being. I probably accept an awful lot of things that most folks don't accept. I probably tolerate alot of things that most folks don't tolerate. I can envision diversity and live with it, while most folks will comment on limits of diversity. I'm one of the few.

In the world of sterotypes....I'm probably one of the most far extreme. There isn't a second I waste when I meet or come across someone....to sterotype them. It doesn't matter who you say you are, who you dress like, your politics, your situation in life (whether a Democrat, a septic tank salesman, or a loser who lives in a garage apartment at age 40).....it doesn't matter. I'm going to stereotype you.

There probably ought to be stereotype training....like diversity training or sensitivity training....but it'd be a failure with me. You can't exercise this out of me or brainwash me enough to just avoid a "label". I'm going to pronounce a label on you....one way or another.

I've been this way for almost fifty years. I can't remember a period when I didn't stereotype folks. I'll likely die this way.

I've learned over the years, that there are good stereotypes and bad stereotypes. In fact, I might stereotype an individual one day....and months later come to realize I accidentally mis-stereotyped you.....and have to restereotype you as something new and different. Sometimes, thats a plus-point for you. Unfortunately, it might sometimes be a negative for you....it all depends.

Rednecks tend to be rednecks....unless you quickly sum up some wit or lack of accent....in which case you avoid the typical redneck stereotype label. Folks from New Orleans usually get labeled as a "loser" (Hurricane Katrina label), unless they quickly explain that they left twenty years ago and don't have the Orleans accent. Folks from the Southern Baptists convention....usually get a pretty negative convention unless they quickly offer up a flask of whiskey or comment on liking Karl Rove.

If I learn that you live in a house trailer....its usually a negative stereotype label, until you explain its a double-wide and you have a paved driveway. If I find out that you've been married five times....I usually label you a loser, until you explain you married those guys because they had money. If I find that you are from Alabama....theres usually a positive stereotype label until you ask if I'd like to attend your church.

Sometimes, stereotype labels quickly fade. When you have a gal at the Ramstein commissary dressed in a tube top, skimpy leather skirt and rubber wadder boots, and then you suddenly add up the grams of fat and sodium to let me know somethings good or bad in this product....then I realize you have some intelligence and you simply dress this way to throw guys like me off.

Sometimes, its the car or vehicle that allows me to stereotype you. Folks who drive Audi TT's are usually big assholes or bitches. Folks who drive Ford pick-ups are generally fine outstanding folks. Folks who travel only by public transportation....have issues....thus earning a negative stereotype label.

So, I'm not apologizing or saying anything to regret my stereotype labels. I'm handing them out freely, without any announcement or CNN "sudden reports". Whatever you did or wore or said.....was earned.....and I'm the guy handing out labels....so just accept it.

Germany's Monster Mosque

This week, after a long intensive debate....it was decided that a super giant mosque will be built in Cologne, Germany. It actually will be silhouetted against the sky with the most famous Gothic church in Germany.

It was a odd debate. Numerous locals stood up at various times over the past year and voiced a negative opinion. This Thursday, the town council held the final vote....none of the protesters involved that day really mattered. The outcome was already decided.

Based on reports, the conservative folks from the CDU and the far-right....voted no, but the majority were from the center or left....and their vote carried the weight.

The curious thing here....the monster structure will end up costing in the neighborhood of $18 billion dollars minimum (figure $25 billion by the end). Adding to this curious factor....its entirely financed by 800 Muslim groups in Germany.

To help lessen the impact and negativity involved....the group running the project agreed that they would not broadcast a call to prayer over loud speakers. That probably was a effort to take out half of the negativity of the project.

The most amusing part of this episode came with the quote from a member of the city council and a SPD member: "I think the new mosque will be such an architectural masterpiece that tour buses will take people to see it after they visit the Cologne Cathedral."

I kinda laughed over that quote and wondered what tour buses that the dimwit was referring to.

So then I came to my German analysis and whats really behind the scenes. Cologne is a fascinating place for construction and corruption. The two concepts are married.

Years ago, the city had a down-graded area in the midst of town that they wanted to make something out of....without spending their money. So they rigged up a deal where the city bought the property that was very undervalued, and then rigged up a state-project....the opera house.

Along came the largest construction company in Germany and they rigged up an evaluation. The deal was that the state (not the local guys) would fund construction of this opera and event house, and then the company would manage this and make money off of it. It was a great idea on paper. Out came an evaluator who surveyed the area to figure the profits involved. When he was finished....it was a dismal report. Such a opera house could not make sustainable profit. He gave the report to the company and they filed it.

Construction immediately started.

As the opera house came to be finished....there was a huge opening party where all of the bigwigs of town were invited, with fancy food and wine served (free to the fine audience members)....and a full month of scheduled events was arranged. There were some comedians, some rock & rock events, and some opera tirades. By the sixth month.....the operation was noting fewer attendees and lesser events. It couldn't sustain a profit. The tens of millions poured into the project? Probably twenty percent went into the pocket of the company as corruption money, and the rest paid for what was done.

It was five years later when the company was under threat of bankruptcy when this episode and dozens upon dozens of other state-funded projects came out into the open.

What Germany does (its political figures, no less) is fund various pet projects for cities, counties and states. The money falls into the pockets of these construction crews and their leadership. If you figure an actual project costs $50 million....you can figure at least $3 million is corruption money which has nothing to do with profit or materials or work done. That $3 million will quietly filter back into the local mayor, city council, or state government political figures.

The two major parties benefit greatly from this scheme. They look like they are enhancing their local infrastructure, but four years later when the project is finished....you wonder just how necessary it was or where the money really went. Road projects are often run in this manner. Its easy to hand out project money....and let it filter into the hands of political folks.

So, lets return to Cologne and the $18 billion involved here by the 800-odd Muslim groups. Forget the $18 billion now and forever. Forget $25 billion now and forever. These guys are going to be suckered into laying out over $40 billion by the end. Trust me. At least $5 billion will fall into the hands and pockets of these local political figures and the corrupted construction planners. It'll be the biggest payoff in twenty years for some of these people. I'm betting several members of the city council retire by 2015 to some island off the coast of Spain and have millions in their private accounts from this whole episode.

The Muslim dimwits will be standing there in 2015 scratching their heads over where $40 billion dollars went and how this was worth that much. Every step of the way, will be negative bystanders who either damaged the construction effort or brought case after case into court. Toss in the corruption and the German greed factor....and you have a five-star event.

The Exit Sign at Clayton County, Georgia

Yesterday, the governor of Georgia fired four members of the Clayton county board of education....which came in conjunction with the termination of accreditation for the county school system. For this public school system, with 50,000 kids....it basically means that they don't have accreditation for the rest of the year and the situation will be reviewed in late 2009 for the next step. If they fail on their achievements, then they get a three-year sentence. If they pass....they get back into the good graces of the accreditation folks and the governor.

This board had huge issues....involving ethics and open meetings. There were numerous behind-the-scene operations being conducted, with various shady deals accomplished. The accreditation folks felt that there was no leadership within the board or the county school system.

So if you were a parent living in Clayton county, what happens now?

Well....if you had plans for junior attending community college next year or maybe going to Georgia State University.....then you basically have two choices....remove Junior from the current public school system and enroll him in a private school (at a cost), or move out of the county to qualify for another school district.

If you were a star basketball player or a potential big-league baseball player who might have gotten a scholorship offer in the spring to play for the University of Arizona team....well....that effort just went out the door.

As you might speculate....by Friday afternoon....some kids were weeping and crying in the hallways of the various schools in Clay county. They can't stay. They can't be part of the school during their last year. They can't share this passing year with old friends. Some of them know that Mom will pack them up next week and send them to Tennessee to live with relatives. Some know that Dad is going to move the family forty miles over into the next county.

Some real estate folks think the county has lost $500 million in value since the action occurred. It'll be difficult to sell a house with a loss involved. Who wants to buy a house in a county where they have no accredited school system?

We had one school superintendent......John Thompson....who said “A storm came through and look at it now, the sun is shining, That’s what’s going to happen in Clayton County”. It really wasn't accepted too far, and most folks had a laugh after reading the commentary.

By the end of next week...I'm guessing three thousand kids will be removed and sent to live with Grandma over in Tennessee or Uncle Ed in Charleston. Some kids will be sent to private schools in the county....if mama can afford it. Some church groups will start up a private group and get home-schooling on the agenda. The star-basketball players? Gone. The star baseball pitchers? Gone.

My suggestion for the governor....fire the entire county board of education. Bring in seven state national guard commanders and put them on the state payroll for eight months to fix this entire problem. These folks there need leadership....and the Army guard is the place to find it.

Diversity Training

When someone utters "Diversity Training"....I usually sit there and start smirking. I can't keep a straight face, and I usually start thinking of islands in the Pacific, playful dogs, or the length of a shadow at 4PM. I can't take it serious....I'm sorry.

Basically, you are saying the comment "Whatever you believe in or do in public cannot be accepted so you must be lightly brainwashed and motivated to say things differently."

What Diversity Training accomplishes in the end....is getting people to automatically say "X" when an event occurs. It doesn't matter if you believe in "X" or even understand "X". The end result is a shift in attitude.

Many things fall within the range of "Diversity Training". The subjects can include: women, religion (although never Southern Baptists), Blacks, Latinos, Lesbians or gay dudes, fat folks, and even people with disabilities. Strangely enough, there are subjects which will never be included in Diversity Training: rednecks (they can't be accepted by society, period), dumbasses (if you didn't run from Hurricane Katrina, its your own fault), large lusty bimbos (its hard to convince you of something different when you meet them), Germans (if you did accept them, then you'd be in serious trouble), and finally... septic tank repairmen (they have a funky smell which can't be explained away).

I've been through about fifty of these Diversity Training seminars in my life...from the Air Force years and the past ten as a contractor. In the beginning, I kinda sat near the front row and got drawn into the Training project. They'd always want to act out some scenario....usually five or six times....so that the players would each grasp their contribution to the seminar. It worked in the first five or six....but then I kinda got tired of the acting and began to sit as far in the back as possible. When they did get around to selecting me for the act....I would speak the intended verse but as slow as possible....like one would do in a tragic Greek opera. I was told once that I was being uncooperative....I smiled and offered my sympathy for their splendid program. It didn't help.

In recent years....the company dudes have made this Diversity Training into a 25-minute computer program. You keep pressing forward while Claire (the chief character) talks about diversity and how you can be a part of it. At the end....you press "complete", and you get a certificate of some digital sort. Its not worth much but the company can say that you did get diversified.

I'm waiting for the day when I have a dwarf boss, a lesbian Southern Baptist coworker, and an assistant who was previously a man but converted to a woman and today refers to himself as "Dorie". There'll be this mention of Diversity Training....but I'll just decline and announce that I'm fully capable of working with these people.....but the question is....are they capable of working with me? At that point....we will see who is diversified and who is not.

15,000

Like the movie "300", this past week in Denver with the DNC convention in full swing....there was another movie (called "15,000") played out. It involved the 15,000 reporters.

Most folks didn't really see at least 5,000 of the group....who were mainly there to meet and hobnob with their favorite local political group or old political friends. These are the guys who own the papers in Austin, Memphis, Chicago or Atlanta. They discussed tactics and the methods of downplaying McCain over the coming weeks. They sipped $30 bottles of wine and entertained their political hack who refused to pay for their meal. They probably stayed at a hotel that was at least two hours away because they couldn't find acceptable lodging in Denver.

A fair number (maybe 1,000) of the 15,000 were drunk or stoned for this period. They talked the boss into a high per diem rate and tossed the $1000 into good booze or good pot.

At three hundred arrived with no credentials. These are mostly the foreign guys from Frankfurt or Moscow or Ottawa. Oh, we might include the smalltown papers who suddenly decided that they could afford the trip but didn't have reservations and ended up in a RV at the end of town that someone borrowed from their Uncle.

I'm guessing at least 60 probably attended a single minute of the entire convention and simply reporting news from the TV in their hotel room while they were meeting with their liaison, "Wicked Wanda". Their boss back in Seattle still thinks that Joe is on the floor of the convention and getting first rate interviews....while Joe is sitting in his bathtub.

Theres probably six guys who had to check in at some lodge in Cheyenne, Wyoming and were supposed to drive down each day....because this was the cheapest place they could find under the boss's travel pay scheme. The six probably never got past the city limits of Cheyenne because of a broke water pump on the van.....and sat mostly around the pool sipping Ole Milwaukee and eating buckets of fried chicken.

There ought to be a movie made on this entire episode, but then who would believe it?

Friday, 29 August 2008

Protest Sign At Denver

Amongst the few if any protests at the Denver Democratic National Convention this week....was this one sign that I found off Flickr, and it probably represents my protest feeling more than anything else that they did this week. The guy is correct.....we didn't really get anything to satisfy ourselves and are just accepting the second best solution.

Air Alitalia (Drip, Drip, Drip)

For almost twenty years.....Italy's massive Air Alitalia was the largest airline in the country and the most bankrupt airline as well. If you measured it against the top twenty-five airlines in the world...its the only one that has a business failure since the late 1980s. Today, the government who owns around 50 percent of the airline, finally admitted, that they are going into bankruptcy court and rigging up a deal with KLM.

A number of months ago, the government said that they would never sell off the national airline.....it would simply not happen, and at that point...KLM said enough.

So the current deal being worked out is that the financially bad-off parts of Alitalia will be dissolved and taken care of by the government. The parts that actually make money will be purchased by KLM.....and the national airline will continue on with new management.

Its a curious thing. Air Alitalia basically became a spiraling situation when they kept giving out pay raises to incompetent managers, and refused to fire them. The same story with maintenance workers and the various people who just kept staying on and making the airline a pitiful organization. Every year, they got three to five percent pay raises.....even though it was in serious jeopardy with operations.

What emerges now? KLM fires all of the staff and personnel who aren't helping the airline and only has to deal with the parts that make money. The government gets to pay off these fools who felt they could stay on forever, with a poor operation. My guess is that the government will simply set up a fund and pay these guys $2k a month.....to just stand around and pretend they want to work but don't really care.

Its an interesting business situation to watch in motion. It was a welfare airline, with no hope. Now, it might actually turn around and challenge several airlines in Europe.

Edwards Worth $65k an Hour?

So an University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign student group, in mid-October, is paying John Edwards to come and speak to them? And the money they will pay? $65,000.

I sat there....contemplating what "Honest" John is worth for a 60-90 minute speech, and its not in the five-digit range or even the four-digit range. The tickets to this event? Free...thats the funny thing. Someone is fronting the student group and covering the cost of the hall and "Honest" John, plus his probable travel cost, and the likely chance for "Honest" John to meet his "Hoe" at a nearby five-star hotel for the evening.

In this case, I'm making a guess that the National Enquirer will have five of their best around the building and the hotel he is staying at....to watch "Honest" John attempt to sneak over and enjoy four hours of rich, hot, lusty time with his "hoe".

Its amusing watching this stuff happen now....because its like an episode of "Lost", with people coming and going. I'd like for "Honest" John to get hired up for a reality show, where he has some reporters and his "hoe" in a hotel, and how "Honest" John gets to the room by avoiding the various reporters involved. Might be worth turning into a show.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Yes, Vlad, We Did It!

Today, with CNN in full swing, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has accused the United States of personally orchestrating the conflict in Georgia to benefit its presidential election candidates.

Strangely enough, Vlad never mentioned Karl Rove....and probably doesn't realize the enormous planning capacity of Karl.

So yeah, Vlad....it was Karl and us in this dastardly-planned episode. For almost eight years, we had been on working on Operation COLD WAR II. This started shortly after GW took office, where we were already planning 9-11, the invasion of Afghanistan, the surge of Ossama, the invasion of Iraq, the eventual capture of Saddam, the first 66 episodes of "Lost", the Dixie Chicks episode, the fall of Hillary Clinton, the downfall of Alex Rodriguez when Madonna entered the picture, the oil bubble, the Yahoo-Microsoft Texas-chainsaw match, the collapse of the Atlanta Braves, Hurricane Katrina, the sinking of New Orleans, global warming, the Nobel prize for Al Gore, downfall and rise of Brittney Spears, the arrest of Paris Hilton, the Hasselhof episode, all of the American Gladiator episodes, the Hulk Hogan episodes, and even the Georgia affair.

It was tough planning. We had to get the Russian mafia, the Russian generals, the Russians drunks, Russian Aeroflot, the Chicago Bears ownership, fourteen Ukrainian hookers in Belarus, and the writers for "Lost" involved. This entire involved at least 14,090 individuals and forty-two planes were involved in moving the right people to the right positions.....including the hiring of 700 Mongolian tribesmen who pretended to be Georgians but really weren't. We also had to buy 30 Bulgarian WW II tanks to use as props as CNN and Fox went deep into the heartland of Georgia to show vast amounts of damage triggered by your forces (who were drunk for the most part with 600 pallets of Jack Daniels booze that we brought in....complements of the Russian military that we contracted out).

Around the clock for the past twelve months, we've been working on this giant episode, in hopes of making it a glorious moment in Russian and American media.

No, Vlad, we don't deny it for a moment. In fact, we've done so well....if it were not for the last season of Battlestar Galactica or the "Lost" season....we'd nominate ourselves for an award or something.

But here's the surprising thing....we aren't done yet. Karl Rove still has fourteen volumes of episodes for us to carry out.....before we reach his glorious climax. So the best has yet to come.

The Stimulus Sturge?

The commerce department numbers came out today, and they were a true shocker. This government stimulus check that all you poor folks got....helped to charge up the economy by three percent.

After a long pause and reflection....I have a suggestion. Write a stimulus check for $10k for each person, and we could be watching a 30 percent surge on the economy. That would bring tears to Bush's eyes, and probably help the Las Vegas folks make a killing on hotel and slots. In addition...lots of folks would put up pools in the backyard, toss in six window AC units into Mama's house, get that pontoon boat that the husband always dreamed of, or possibly redo the septic tank and put reroof the house.

Course, if the Democrats got involved, they'd demand that ultra-poor got a $50k check and we regular folks just get a $150 check.

In Fashion, Not

Today, I wandered over to the Ramstein BX, for my monthly haircut (all twelve hairs, more or less). Afterwards, like usual, I waste ten minutes walking around, and walked into the Brit shop....where they featured a BDU kilt. I stood there for a good long 30 seconds admiring it, and quiet frankly....if it had been reasonably priced (like $60), I would have bought the thing and worn it around town. Well...maybe.

But the dimwits wanted $130 and I just stood wondering what fool would possibly pull out $130 to buy this? And then I wondered if the military could possibly bring themselves to use this instead of regular pants? Our bosses are die-hard old fashion types and I'd have doubts that they'd accept a kilt.

So I walked out and all the way back to the office....thought of the kilt and what kindly remarks I would have had in the office....had I pulled out the cash and bought this. Course, as a contractor, BDU color is out, and I'd be quickly tossed into Contractor "hell" for wearing something like this. But it was my daily fantasy, for a few short moments.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Denver Story

My associate at work has a brother-in-law who'd plan to make a big trip down to Denver from the Dakotas.....for couple of games with the Rockies. He made the plans a year ago....and even had tickets. He never really associated this week with the DNC convention deal.

So months ago.....he made reservations....at around $85 a night for a nice enough hotel near the middle of town. Last week, the hotel called and said they were upping the rate to $800 a night. He kinda questioned this but had plans already.....so he finally said fine.....he'd pay this much for the three or four nights he was staying in town. Well....a day passes.....and the hotel calls back. They've upped the rates to $3k a night. He passes there....desiring a lesser amount, but there isn't a hotel within 200 miles that rents less than $200 at this point.

So the guy gave up. The sad thing is that he had baseball tickets....so he won't get back that money. At $3,000 a night.....its hard to imagine who would pay that much. I'd sleep in a tent or in the car....before I'd pay more than $250 a night (trust me, I've done that). Hookers can't even make that much to cover the $3k per day.....so it makes me wonder who would pay.....other than CNN or ABC.

Hometown Election Today

My hometown is having election today. Course, I would need a complete report on the event....like some CNN or FoxNews correspondent.....but the best I can do is my brother's report which just came to me via email:


Went and voted at "x" this morning… three choices for mayor… the incumbent gave up the job this time (he’d been in the job for about 12yrs or so)… the choices, in no order of importance, are:

(1) the former chief of police, that was found cooking the books on the tickets he wrote, refused to investigate theft, was suspected of taking payoffs for local drug-sales, refused to take instructions from the mayor and council, and finally was coaxed into resigning over the potential of turning him in on bilking the state trooper’s dept on funds that paid him to write tickets up around the state line… I’m hoping he doesn’t get the job… the only folks that pull for him give the reason (for endorsing him) that he’ll get control of the replacement police chief, who’s turned out to be a real jerk to everyone in town… the current police chief’s last duty as a cop was in the city of Mobile… he’s not used to having to get along with anyone, and doesn’t appear to be eager to learn how… he’s such a horse’s arse, by description by anyone that’s dealt with him, that the former chief has actually been getting a strong support by
the merchants in town… not sure which was a better choice for "X"’s chief of police, actually…

(2) a young guy that the former mayor endorses, who came up to me not long after I moved over there, and started arguing about a property line dispute that he had with my older neighbor, "J"… I kept explaining that his argument with my neighbor was his argument, and had nothing to do with me (and I explained that I liked the old guy that was my neighbor, and wasn’t going to start in disliking him, just because someone showed up that wanted me to)… finally had to tell the guy that he was going to have to leave if he kept up dissing the neighbor… so, he set in trying to convince me that a lot that he had next to my line (the disputed line, in his mind) was a lot that he was going to put a rent-storage unit on, unless someone paid him way too much for the lot… I told him good luck with that plan and that I had to get to work… he got piased off and then tried to rent my pasture to raise prize bulls on (yeah, I want this scheming jerk on my place on a regular basis… right)… then he started ranting about a guy I’ve known since high school, that was the top project engineer at the plant this guy worked at in Florence (the company built fertilizer plants all over the world)… I finally just had to say bye and walk away from the arsehole to go in the house… his main dislike of the engineer was that he was an engineer, and they don’t know anything (a particular obsession among the blue collar crowd in the Shoals region is a hatred of engineers)… I’m hoping he doesn’t get the job, obviously…

(3) my neighbor down the street, who’s a block layer and has been for forty years…. He doesn’t wear his dentures, has his pants half off his arse half the time (needs the dual back suspenders, but only wears the single-back-strap type), raises goats and exotic chickens for a hobby (not the fighting type, btw), and has a lot of stews, bbqs, and poker games at his place… I’m pulling for him, as he’s the only non-arsehole in the lot… he really is a good guy, works hard, has earned everything he has, and still works hard at about 65yrs of age… and, he’ll make the cop investigate crime in the area… the ones against him say that he can’t get the funds for the town that they’ve been getting, due to his lack of polish and finesse… the current mayor (till tomorrow) did get a lot of money in for the town, as they currently have two semi-type fire trucks and a regular fire truck, four police cars (for one cop and two volunteers that get bored and set up road blocks a lot), and $200k in the bank… but, they don’t care about theft just outside the city limits (where I live), so I’d just as soon the town were broke, if they were willing to investigate thefts…

They had two council seats being challenged also…

One was between the block layer’s daughter (18yrs old, and just out of high school – goes to Calhoun) and somebody else that I didn’t know… I voted for the block layer’s daughter…

One was being run for by either the wife of the ex-police-chief (did I mention that the ex police-chief also played the field a lot, screwing around with young ladies that were involved in domestic disputes, and also with a neighbor of my dad’s, who subsequently tried to kill her husband by stabbing him in the throat repeatedly)… I’m not pulling for her, but it was a tough call, as her competition is a lady that I went to school with, who’s an addict to anti-depressants, and who is on psychological-disability (i.e., “gets a crazy check”), and who’s a religious fanatic and has many clinical phobias, including fear of driving (yep, can’t drive, can’t work, takes pills, and watches religion on cable all day every day)… I picked the crazy drugged up religious chick… that was the least poisonous snake in the sack to pick out, so to speak…

Its quite the election…

I didn't clean anything up and let "arse" remain.....he is half-Baptist and won't usually swear unless he's sure no deacons or ministers are around.

After reviewing his report....I'm pretty sure I might have a chance as town mayor in four years....ifing I were interested. I also think that CNN ought to hire him to tail McCain and Obama.....he might accidentally discover that both are 100 percent dimwits.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Harold Chandler & Speedtrapville

Down abouts Bama, between the dry city of Athens and the dry city of Florence, is a piece of road referred to as Highway 72. In the midst of this mighty US highway, is Rogersville.

Election year is upon us in the area of Rogersville, and Harold Chandler is running for Mayor, to extend out his period as the town mayor. In the recent issue of the East Lauderdale Times (a privileged paper that I get once a week)....Harold put up a half-page advertisement to credit himself for so much of what Rogersville has achieved.

Somewhere in the midst of this advertisement.....Harold claimed the great improvements that the town had made and the search for programs to enhance the town's image. Alot of these projects actually involved money, which is shocking that this town of 1,199 folks hasn't grown that much over the past five years. True enough, McDonalds did come in ten years ago and bring in some town revenue via taxes. And there is a new restaurant or two in this backwoods town. But the revenue chart ought to be kinda flat and not expanding.

But here, Harold does a great job in the advertisement in explaining this situation with more funds to help the city. He expanded the police force and the number of cop cars. This town of 1,199 folks, has five full-time cops.

Now, you'd be sitting there and scratching your head....for a town in the middle of nowhere....of 1,199 folks....you'd think that two or three cops would be all that you'd ever need. There must sure be alot of crime in such a town. For the period of 2005-2006, no murders, no rapes, and no robberies. They did have a total of five assaults and 29 houses broken into. And they even had four cars stolen.

Another interesting fact....if you go check....a normal city of this size in America....has three cops. The town is a bit over. Would you wonder why?

So now, I'd like to welcome you to Speedtrapville (it should be Rogersville, but its not). This is a town that maximizes the use of US highway 72.....and gets the most bang for its police manpower. They not only make enough to sustain the five cops, but also afford new cop cars, and even help the city budget to generate more revenue to use on various projects for its citizens.

Its a tidy game. You get the cop out on the main road in the morning and give out six tickets in a three-hour period. The afternoon....another six to eight tickets. When you have both cops at the ends of town....you multiply the numbers by two.

So as election day comes upon us....let those who live in the quiet little town of Speedtrapville enjoy their improved services and enhanced revenue generated by the mayor and his proud boys over at the police station.

Somewhere down the line....there is a settlement of debt....where enough people who passed through and bought gas or coffee or a burger....just don't stop. They drive on. They don't buy the $40 of gas or the $8 for a breakfast. So the use of this speedtrap situation will double up....as general tax revenue doesn't match up to previous expectations. And as more folks get upset and fail to stop....the trend just continues on. Pretty soon....the chief money-maker of the town....is speeding tickets. And then you know you've got a pretty bad situation.

The Complexity of Online Degrees

In the past week....more chatter over online degrees has occurred. Folks are starting to pull out their certificates that they acquired....some who thought they were dealing with a legit university, and discover that the university has no accreditation, thus the $5k they paid....was for nothing.

Jane Killigan is such an example. She went through a college and got a masters degree....with actual classes taken via the internet....only to find out the $5500 she paid.....was worthless. Canyon College came up this week as well....with issues in its program.

There are accreditation programs within the US, which are respected. If they say a small town university is approved....there is no argument.

This problem is rather unusual. Up until the 1950s, no one really cared about this accreditation business and you could run a 1,000 student college in Plano, Texas under some Methodist flag and be a university....no one questioned the professors or the program. There were various colleges in America that were doing a decent job, yet were in the smallest of towns.

When internet arrived....then we started to have universities pop up and claim a status....then offer any kind of degree you wanted. Some actually required real classes, and some just said "pay us the money" and then mailed you the degree.

How many folks are walking around in management positions today with fake degrees? I'd bet over 100,000 in America are in such a dilemma. They probably are checking the facts and scratching their head over how they can slide by and not be caught. If they stay in the same position, they will likely make it. If they apply for a new job and this degree is sitting there to be examined...they've got issues. They've hit the end of the road.

The amusing thing now will be the number of teachers caught with advanced bogus degrees. To get your hefty payraise as a teacher....you need to complete a masters degree....so the pressure was on with a significant number of folks to just finish any kind of degree or show something. I'm suspecting that over the next twelve months.....we might see 50,000 teachers either fired or downgraded to the old salary scale. Once there is a national database of the bogus universities....the heat will be on.

What this all adds up to....is a society with an addiction for a piece of paper to show their status and value. We are advancing this idea of achievement involving educational status, and its probably not a brilliant strategy.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Picture Say Enough, Bama!


A nifty poster they started using in Bama.

Bama and $25

I probably blog too much on Bama, but sometimes, it deserves a mention.

This week....those Bama folks in charge of the state-run healthcare program for state workers....decided that if you are too obese, then you will have to pay $25 a month for your policy....starting in 365 days. So you have a year to lose, or start paying.

First off....what you might not grasp out of this statement....the healthcare policy for state workers, is free. They don't pay a single penny for their healthcare policy.

Second.....the vast majority of state employees makes somewhere between $18k and $25k. I would even make the guess that almost fifty percent of the state's employees make this pay scale, so the free healthcare policy is worth every penny.

Third....as you might imagine....a number of Bama folks are deeply disturbed over this "threat" to their life. As one guy said....some folks come into this life big and they ain't going to get smaller. I might agree if I'd never tried to lose weight, but then I know otherwise. I'm the guy who lost 30 pounds in 30 days, and know precisely how to lose weight (but not know the secret of keeping it off).

Fourth....this comes on the heels of the change that came upon Bama smokers.....who now pay $24 a month for the privilege of smoking, while on Bama-run health care. Those folks are still upset, and this just makes twice as angry as before.

But here is the kicker. You really have to read into the whole mess to realize whats obese and whats not. The Bama board in charge of this mess did alot of research....and decided that anyone who who has a body mass index of 35 or higher....and NOT making progress....is obese. So lets make up an example here.....a person 5 feet 6 inches tall weighing 220 pounds, would have a BMI of 35.5. So he's barely .5 over the limit for being obese. He'd lose five pounds and thus avoid this entire game. But then you start thinking about this.....215 pounds and 5 foot 6 inches? Thats obese in most books....but thank God....in Bama....you're just fitting into the right Bama mold.

So a guy like me....six foot one inches tall and 244 lbs.....and I'd fall under the Bama obese bar....and not be obese....although my doctor would look you square in the Bama eye and say I've got obese problems (my doc is a AF veterinarian-type dude from Cape Cod).

Deep down, I'm feeling sorry for those state workers. They barely take home $1200 a month after taxes as it stands right now. These are pitiful times for a Bama state worker, who is lucky to have a decent job, with health care options for nothing, but have to lose twenty pounds to avoid losing $25 a month (on top of the $24 they pay to be smokers currently).

When you go look around at school bus drivers in the state....who all make minimum wage and just do it for the health care option, then farm the rest of their day.....it makes perfect sense. These guys barely bring home $200 a month for 2.5 hours of work a day, after you take out taxes and such. But they know they've got themselves completely covered for any hospital situation.

Second Life and Real LIfe


So this is what we know.

There is this gal from North Carolina.....by the name of Kimberly Jernigan....who is 33 years old. I hate putting women's age into a blog, but I felt it was necessary to show it wasn't a 18-year old kid. Kimberly got into Second Life, which is a digital world that you act out your fantasy life within a character of your choosing.

Kimberly came to meet this Delaware dude.....who is still kinda unnamed because he is a victim of sorts. The two played around in Second Life.....and things got heated in Second Life.....and they became a virtual couple. Of course, for those of you from Bama are asking now.....did they do any hanky panky or kinky stuff while in this digital relationship? Well....we really don't know. Nor should it be on our purest of minds to find out.

Several months ago....they finally met in person. I'm guessing that he was expecting a really hot babe (amazing how 52-year old guys think, you know), and Kimberly shows up.....a bit of a queenly sized gal and not quiet the Barbie that he might have played up to on Second Life. At this point.....she was playing Second Life for real and wanting to go for the real thing. And this guy....wanted to stay digital and in the fantasy world. He kinda wanted this relationship to end....which was the last thing on her mind.

So this week, Kimberly shows up in Delaware, to kidnap this digital lover. He apparently had moved (wise move), but she eventually figured out the new address and lay there in waiting with her pet dog. As he came home that night....walking into a darken room, suddenly a red light shown on his chest....like a laser pointer, and he ducked....quickly escaping and calling the cops.

The cops eventually caught her. There was a brief struggle but the arrest was made, for burglary and attempted kidnapping. The gal will make bail and I'm pretty sure the case will end in a conviction, with the sentence being around three to four years. She'll be back on the street by the summer of 2012. For this guy....it really doesn't fix much except to know that she will eventually be out. He's got three years to eventually move again. If I were him, I'd move to Idaho and give up gaming (take up blogging, its pretty safe).

As for Kimberly, I'm guessing that prison might clear out any funny ideas in her mind on a digital marriage or affair. And she'd do much better to advertise on Yahoo personals for some hot 50-year old balding stud from Topeka who drinks Gin straight, shoots a 45 for target practice and drives a Ford 150 to his job at the potato chip factory.

And for those who might wonder.....yes, I did download Second Life....pick a character....and walk around for 45 minutes. To be blunt, I don't get the attraction. I didn't meet any hot babes, world dictators, or swap jokes with Elvis. After 45 minutes, I left and I've never returned. I'm not much of a gamer, and in the digital fantasy world.....I'd be a pretty lousy character.

Farming in Afghanistan


This week, some kindly folks in Afghanistan decided to let the public know that there might be some starvation episodes coming up shortly. Apparently, those Afghan farmers have decided that there is much more profit in making drugs, so they are abandoning traditional crops and growing illegal stuff. These "experts" felt that starvation is only a few months away.

Afghans aren't fools at life or farming. They've spent centuries dealing with agriculture and know the various dimensions. You grow what you can profit from. If you can grow a crop and make $10k off a few lousy acres in a year....thats better than spending an entire year growing corn on the same acreage and making $1k. The truth about agriculture, is that you grow what you can sell....at the most profit.

To be truthful here....it takes a fair amount of man-hours to handle the poppy crop, compared to the corn crop....but then you have plenty of time because there really isn't anything else to do and the profit involved is worth the effort.

So what happens here, if economic principals are invoked. The illegal poppy crop farmer makes his $10k and uses the money to buy food from some other farmer. If you don't have enough food within the country.....you import from a neighbor. You pay an inflated price for transporting the food there, but then thats an accepted thing. Maybe in the end, you actually have to spend half of the $10k that you made....on food, because of the cost involved....but thats the acceptable part of this deal. You still made a profit.

The US hostility over this? Well...here is the country that you have lots of GI's deployed to and they make lots of illegal drugs flowing into Europe and the US. This just ain't right. You sit there and tell the farmers that....you tell the local tribal leaders....and you tell the Afghan national government this as well. At the end of the day....they all made money off the poppys and don't give a damn about US opinion.

At some point, when we all come to realize that this whole game in Afghanistan hasn't really achieved anything, and that the Taliban is still running with its main players in Pakistan....and we may be there for decades....then we might see the little "exit light" and do what is necessary. I'm pretty sure poppys will be planted in the spring, and life will continue on for 2009. We aren't going to change much of anything on this drug traffic. Unless you want to offer up a fine American-developed program of paying farmers $10k to grow nothing.....then thats about the only way to fix this problem.

Hallmark and the "Way"


This week...those kindly folks at Hallmark Greeting Cards....decided that its finally time to have same-sex "happy marriage" cards. Hallmark says it was consumer requests and not political pressure. There are two states with potential gay-marriage opportunities and they had to make sure they laid claim to the cards before some other company rushed into the mess.

What does it do for Hallmark? Well....I'm guessing that a good 200,000 customers might quit them as a greeting card vendor, and look for wholesome American non-gay cards. And the rest of the folks really won't care.

To be sure....walk into Wal-mart and note that there really isn't much competition against Hallmark. They aren't making a killing but then they are making a day-to-day profit off simple cards. How many gay cards will they sell over the next twelve months? I'm only guessing but maybe 150,000, at least in the first year. For alot of Bama folks....who might walk in and see these cards....they'd likely scratch their head and wonder who exactly they know....that they might buy one of these cards for.

Its not a big deal....unless you really got big issues with greeting cards and gay folks matching up. And remember....you were already buy Satanist Halloween cards, so why skip out on this company?

Making the Air Force Clean and Pure

Over the past twenty years, I've watched almost daily as the Air Force attempts to make itself clean and pure.

They've made smoking a very evil habit with big negative labels attached.

They took beer or booze consumption at the NCO clubs and basically turned it into a non-profitable operation where no one comes to drink a beer on Friday afternoons.

They took the prices of smokes at the Commissary and increased. The same with beer and alcohol happened when the Class Six stores were wiped out and the BX system took charge of their sales on base.

They made it almost illegal to have a tattoo unless its on a part of the body that is not visible.

They made adultery an absolute sin, and actually a court-martial event now. The same with the use of hookers. You can end up with a federal charge and a felon now....for hiring a hooker.

The list goes on and on....as they tried to make it pure and clean. So, I'd like to take them to the next level.

First, I'd like to mandate a absolute glass of buttermilk everyday. No choices, you show up at the NCO club and get your free glass of twelve ounces of pure buttermilk. Its good for your soul and will make you pure of heart.

Second, I'd like to mandate your off-duty clothing style and put plaid pants back into production. It was pure and holy in the 1960s and AF gentlemen should be wearing these while off-duty....preferably with a white or blue golf shirt.

Third, Air Force personnel should drive American-made cars only. We need to dictate this and make it a standing order....either GM, Chevey or Ford....and nothing else. Stay pure with a Ford....thats my slogan.

Fourth, a mandatory Bible on every desk in the Air Force. We need scripture daily and even hourly. Supply should carry the King James version for officers and the American standard version for enlisted. For those with devilish sects....mandatory reading of the Bible required to help purify your situation and bring into our fold.

Fifth, an inspirational picture of George Bush in every office. The Russians did this with Stalin, Gorby and Putin....and it'd be a mighty fine effort if we did the same thing.

Sixth, outlaw Ho-Ho's, twinkies, and pop-tarts at the commissary and BX. They are unpure and bring you down.

Seventh, promotion tests to include Bible scripture verse identification, the words to "God Bless America", and a hand-written essay on why you love America.

Eight, a mandatory IQ test after four years in the Air Force for everyone, officer and enlisted. Those who score above 110....we let go....because you shouldn't have really smart folks around who might try to bring harm or non-change to the Air Force. We need average or lesser-than-average folks....who accept our methods and ideas.

Ninth, make Hanes underwear for men and women as absolute requirements, no discussion required. We should all wear the same type underwear....preferably jockey shorts.

Tenth, start a tradition of bonfires at each unit on Friday night, after the sun sets. Have a Air Force chant and a 30-minute ceremony developed. The bonfire should include at least thirty logs and a five-gallon can of gas to start the fire up immediately. The bonfire chief will be a masked individual chosen at random by the members of the unit in secret ballots. At the end of the ceremony...everyone will swear to stay clean and pure for the next seven days.

I think my ideas are a bit radical and it may be hard for some folks to adjust....fine...they can leave or retire. In the end.....the emphasis here is to have a clean and pure force. America is good, the Air Force is pure. And life is perfect. Yeah....thats the plan.

Ethics & Life in the 10th Grade?

I have a radical proposal to make....to drop high school tenth grade history/civics/social studies/etc.

I realize you might be having a heart attack or fit here, but hear me out.

I'd like to make the entire hour that you have in the tenth grade.....the ethics and life hour. I'm basically admitting that we've got a 700,000 high school graduates a year....entering life....and they are absolutely without any moral compass or grasp to understand decision making. So I want to waste their entire hour....five days a week....on real life skills instead. And I really don't want the history teacher teaching this class. We need an individual who is going to actually teach real ethics in life.

So there would be various topics covered: (1) if you as the guy get a girl pregnant, then what?, (2) if you as the gal get pregnant, then what?, (3) if the cops arrest you for drug usage and you get five years in prison, then what?, (4) if carrying a gun or knife around at the mall causes you to kill someone by accident, then what?, (5) if you drink in a faulty fashion and kill an entire family, then what?, (6) if you marry at 16, then what?, (7) if you sign up for five credit cards at 18, then what?, (8) if you argue constantly with a boyfriend or girlfriend, then what?, and so on.

I am probably going to upset some folks, but truthfully....whatever we are doing now....ISN'T working. And we really need something radical to occur. And that entire year of civics or history? Is it going to make a life-change? Is it going to fix America? I'm thinking we are looking at education in some fashion which doesn't help us as a nation. So I'm becoming a bit radical in thinking.

There are too many teenaged idiots walking around....who claim to be brilliant, but really manage to screw up their lives and the lives of others. There are too many parents standing there with a 18-year old punk who has royally screwed up....now the cops are involved, or some judge, or some girl's parents who he was dating. We aren't exactly teaching things to fix the problem....we simply let the problems slide on.

So thats my suggestion of the week.

The 500-lb Guerrilla at the Poker Table

The Air Force needs a new tanker. For those who aren't in the know....they tried three years ago to fix up a bid and then the winner got announced....Boeing. Funny thing....the deal suddenly came apart when everyone realized that the AF leadership involved, who picked the winner.....were sleeping in bed with Boeing. So people went to prison and the whole deal was tossed into the dumpster.

So time has passed and we've healed.....sorta.

Then came the recent deal with Northrop/EADS (a US company working with the French dudes) competition against Boeing, and Northrop won. Eventually, enough political pressure was mounted and this deal was squashed. This was the eventual winner being Northrop, with Mobile being the Holy Grail for several weeks as the likely manufacture point. Then things fell apart.

So we are on the 3rd bid round now. Its an amusing episode yesterday....where Boeing said the short bid period is unacceptable and they want a minimum of six months to study the proposal and basically design an entirely different kind of plane.

So if this was allowed....several things would occur. First, this is a design on paper, with no real honest to God testing at this point. For a AF leader....this is a questionable situation because you have to hope that their design is honest and good. If the plane has major issues.....it'll ground your fleet. You can see and feel the plane today.....then you can actually see results and feel comfortable that it actually performs. So this has to worry the AF a good bit.

Second, we are basically wasting another six months....possibly even more....if they can't meet that deadline. In this case, you can't be sure of anything. They could extend this another six months later....chatting about testing....which would make this a 2010 decision at best.

Third, we enter January 2009, with potentially a Democratic congress and a Democratic president.....so for Boeing who may have more support amongst the Democrats....this is the best period to have this mess decided. Play for time and hope for a better judge.

Fourth, the Northrop & EADS crowd are purely upset and angry. They are ready today to offer up their bid and get going. To wait potentially.....a minimum of six months....just doesn't make much business sense.

So this is my suggestion. Northrop should wait a month, and then go up to say that the plane they were going to utilize for this tanker bid.....just won't do....and they want to design an entirely different plane....which will take them twelve months to properly design and "test". Otherwise, they will simply drop out of the bid.

In this high-stakes poker match....you must have competition...otherwise, you will pay much more than you anticipate. I'm thinking of a poker game where you really out-play the other dimwit at the table. There is no rule that says you can't drop your candidate aircraft and start again from scratch....so why not?

Eventually.....maybe by 2015, we might have a tanker.....but I have my doubts. The KC-135 might be around another twenty years.

Squaw & Squaw

So I pronounce you.....squaw and squaw.

Out in southern Oregon this week, on a tribal reservation.....near Coquille....there was this lesbian couple. They had been a couple since 2001....when one of them was 14 and the other sixteen.

Some Indian historians (at least two)....say that there is a long tradition of tribes allowing same-sex couple to marry. This apparently goes way past the colonial period....where the Brits began to arrive and let the Indians know that this was pretty upsetting to them, and apparently the Indians stopped doing it right away (yeah, right, this sure makes sense). Well....this is what these historians are saying.

Apparently there will be a simple ceremony at the "Plank House" where such events occur, and the two intend to invite around 150 guests to it.

Are they both Indians? No. One is and the other isn't. Apparently the tribe can authorize this....although they can't make #2 an official Indian or such, but they can extend the benefits of the tribe to #2.

The odds of the same-sex history of the Indians actually being true? This might be debatable. I'm guessing Sitting Bull had the same problem....a bunch of gay dudes in the tribe and he had to accommodate these guys....to have an agreeable happy tribe. Whats interesting here....historically....Indians also had extra women that they captured and included as part of their entourage. So they had their wife, their other woman, and maybe even a third woman...in the same tent. My question would be....what comes next? Acceptance of multiple marriage partners?

Friday, 22 August 2008

Germany and CEO Fears

For several months in Germany.....there has been open discussion by the political figures over possibly limiting CEO pay. The political figures who think they run the country......think that CEO pay has gotten out of hand, and only they.....the mighty and gifted parliament members.....can wisely say what the chief of Porsche should make.

Its a comical action where a state-run network interview occurs, and several sound bytes are recorded and played to 300,000 folks who might be watching at ten at night. The other 80-odd million are watching Colombo or Star Trek.

The fear here is that CEO pay has gotten out of hand. How can anyone justify $5 million or $20 million or $40 million a year for a CEO? The madness must stop.....so naturally....only the government can force such a change.

Most of the major industry folks in Germany have kept their mouth shut throughout the past six months.....thinking that this might simply be a passing thing.....talking big and then passing by.

The curious thing.....is if they decide that CEO's ought to have a pay scale....why not say the same for doctors, store managers, and zoo directors? At some point, they might even decide that the directors of Channel One (ARD) and Channel Two (ZDF) might need a restricted pay scale too...and all of their chief reporters. At that point, access to the media might be cut off.....I'm just guessing.

If the political figures were able to push across their measures.....what companies would allow their headquarters to remain within Germany? How many potential CEO candidates would exist within Germany? If you had a choice of being a CEO in Austria or Germany.....would you pick Austria because of the stupid pay rules?

The driving force of this effort? Well....there is this eternal German perception that folks can be too rich...and what good is that? Usually, you just inflate the tax laws enough to grab their money....so things are bad enough....at least in the German political mind.....that taxes aren't enough of a tool.....so actual numbers are the next thing to use to fix a "problem".

Will anything occur? I'm having doubts....because once you start trimming....why stop? And there will be a fear of what might happen next.

Southport and Prayer

Somewhere in Indiana, there is this town of Southport. Where exactly, the population, and the number of septic tanks in town.....really don't matter.

Sometime in the last month or so....the mayor (a recent Republican to the job), decided that the prayer to open city meetings.....had to be halted.

To be kinda honest....attendance at the city hall meetings had been kinda sparse....with maybe half-a-dozen city residents out of eighteen hundred folks ever showing up, and mostly wanting to generate more revenue for the town in some fashion. Most folks don't ever remember anyone coming up to a town meeting.....to complain about prayer. In fact....hardly anyone has stood up to say that prayer bothers them.

So now after the Republican mayor makes this deletion of the prayer before the city meeting.....there's around fifteen to twenty folks who are there....strictly to complain about prayer and religion in this God-forsaken town.

This week, a couple of the folks at the meeting just got up and walked out....to show their hostility over the entire episode. The mayor replaced the prayer with a moment of silence (60 seconds worth), and then went immediately to the Pledge of Allegiance.

This entire episode has become a comical affair.

So let me offer my two cents. If we opened every single town meeting, county meeting, state legislature meeting, congressional meeting, senatorial meeting, and presidential cabinet meeting with a prayer....would it improve anything? Would we get rid of corruption in government? Would we get representatives who are honest and fair with our money? Would we get honesty and respect back into government? Would we decrease the number of senators in airport bathrooms tapping their shoes for oral action? Would we get honest government?

The short answer here.....is no.

People may like to think that God is going to preside over a townhall or county seat meeting where a dozen corrupted political folks are standing around and trying to pretend they are ethical and honest....but God isn't going to make much of an impression. You could lay out fifty Bibles at such a meeting, and it really won't help.

So I'm not trying to dump on religion or God.....I'm actually dumping on political dimwits who want to use religion and pretend that it "fits" into the occasion.....and that it helps matters. If any of these fools had a fear of God or ethics....it'd show....but it doesn't.

So go home tonight.....sip some beer....skip the local townhall meeting because you aren't one of the "in" crowd, and just watch a rerun of "Lost". It'll be worth watching, trust me.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Bigfoot and Crime

So while we thought the bogus Bigfoot story was done....it really isn't.

The two dudes who did the hoax....were out of sight until this morning. The dude who was a deputy on medical leave during this entire period....fired....his boss announced that yesterday. Today, the dimwit who paid these two $50k....say he wants them in court or jail. The two hint that the Palo Alto dimwit knew this was fake from the start.

The problem here....as a bright law enforcement fella said yesterday....there aren't any laws about Bigfoot, real or fake. He is kinda wondering what kinda contract that the two signed and just how valid that will be in a Georgia court.

I sat and pondered this. If the rich dimwit sent a contract to the two via fax or email....and they signed in Georgia....it'll be questionable if its valid. In California? Well....this dude thinks that the California legal system will really care, but I doubt that. And if you bring it into a jury system....knowing Californians.....then this mess could go on for months (remember the OJ case).

So then we come to the real court case that might make some folks come back to reality. If the two stand up and readily admit that there just isn't any Bigfoot in America....and the court agrees....then the Bigfoot legend dies that day. There will be no more Bigfoot.

This dimwit in Palo Alto might want to think about this. The naive public in America has been buying this stupid story for forty years or more. If you could ever find a moment where the legend could finally die....this would be it.

The two Georgia rednecks? I'm thinking they just might be willing to finally kill off the legend and let America get back to reality....mainly....just believe in aliens and cattle mutilations.

The Tool To Bring the Russians Out


So I've pondered and pondered this slow Georgia stall for days, and now I know the answer.

Obviously, no commander really orders these drunk Russian solders to do much....even a general. So lets use the US Air Force to perform "Operation Tidy Booze". Its my name....I didn't really care for "Operation Freedom Eagle" or "Operation Blue Sword" or "Operation Liberty Bucket".

So this is what we do. We palletized seven hundred pallets of cheap booze....not the costly stuff from Jack Daniels....but the really cheap stuff from Arkansas and West Virginia.....the $13.40 a bottle wretched stuff.

Put four hundred bottles on each pallet. Then we put a parachute rig, that can guide the pallet in a certain direction. Then we prepare to start dropping these pallets out of a cargo plane at 40,000 feet....far enough away to prevent missile launches....and let them drift ten and twenty miles over the border into Russia proper.

We let all those drunk Russian soldiers know that we've dropped seven hundred pallets and even give them tracking devices to find each pallet. You figure we are talking about two hundred bottles per pallet. So you can figure that there will be a huge race....with commanders trying to stall the boys....but these dimwit Russian solders won't care....they want the booze. They will march all night and do thirty miles a day with a full rucksack.

Within twenty-fours after the airdrop, every single tank and APC will be out of Georgia. Russian commanders will be furious at the US Air Force and America....for bringing temptation and booze to their dimwitted troops.

After five days.....we drop another seven hundred pallets another fifty miles inland....and watch them move further away from the border. There will be more complaints....and the Russians will even bring us up on charges in the UN of corrupting their poor wretched troops. We will simply smile and toast the boys with real Kentucky bourbon as we vote to stall the UN discussion. We'll even share more whiskey with the entire UN membership.....from a seven-hundred pallet delivery out front of the UN building.

Single-handledly, we drive the Russians out of the country, with American whiskey. Then we boost the American whiskey producers and their stock goes up. Then we even give out pallet after pallet of whiskey to the poor Georgians who have suffered.

In the end.....American whiskey saves the UN, Georgia, NATO, George Bush, Putin, and even Katie Couric who personally toasts everyone on her final day with a tall glass of straight whiskey. America's whiskey industry even gets put up for a Peace Prize....but then loses it to Bill Clinton for his wonderful peace effort in the 1990s.

Ted "Corruptible" Stevens

Senator Ted "Corruptible" Stevens....our bad-ass Republican senator from Alaska....got the unhappy notice from the Fed court....that his entire case will be heard in Washington state....NOT Alaska as Ted had hopped.

You see....this is an election year, and ole Ted really wanted to stand around in court and then go out to campaign in the late afternoons. Well....this is what Ted told the Fed judge presiding over his corruption case.

The truth is....if the court is held in Alaska, then Ted could bring in old legal friends and associates to pressure the court to side on his case. In Washington state....Ted really doesn't have too many friends.

The truth of the matter is that Ted stands to lose this case and likely get some jail time....I'm thinking twelve to eighteen months. The curious thing is that Ted's entire campaign is kinda lost as far out as you can get. Ted really needs to let go and allow someone else to quickly stand in and take his spot....but at this point in the campaign, its virtually impossible to talk him into this. So he is assuming he will win....maybe by a marginal 51 percent....then resign to let some other fool take charge.

The question will come after the conviction....how many of these bridges, public buildings, and airports named after Ted....will then change their name because of a convicted felon situation? Thats the curious thing for Alaskans to consider.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Church Hell as a Kid

I was unfortunate as a kid.....to have grown up in northwest Bama.....in a small town called Anderson. There were three church possibilities....but the "in-crowd" were the Baptists....and sadly, thats where my folks attended.

My earliest memory of life in Anderson.....was attending vacation Bible-school as a kid. There really wasn't anything fond or terrible to comment upon.....if you asked at the end of the week....at age five.....what I remembered....I probably would have said "great cool-aid".

Sunday school became a wasted hour that I endeared year after year. There was a plan book with about two pages of reading....so some unlucky adult dude got stuck with six to ten young boys, and you basically out aloud the two pages over an hour....stretching it as far as you could. I kinda felt sorry for these guys. They got picked and usually didn't get much enjoyment out of the deal.

The church? Well.....you had the old facility and the new one. As a boy.....by age eight, you were condemned to the basement of the old facility. The best you could say....is that come November, it was miserable. The heat never got turned on until precisely ten AM. So you walked in....with a jacket on.....and it was barely 50 degrees. By the end of January....it was barely 32 degrees in that basement when you arrived. The girls? They all got the better heated area and you sat there in some folding chair....hoping for the hour to pass.

Did Sunday school ever make an impression on me? No....it was pretty much a waste.

The second hour? Well...you had to progress over to the main building which was actually cooled and heated. But then you had those damn pews for an hour. My dad tended to pick the pew on the very last row.....as far to the right....as you could go. It was hard to just sit there, and I tended to take a pen with me and just take it apart.....over and over. Extreme boredom was the biggest problem.

Vacation Bible school became an optional thing for me by age twelve and I really didn't care to waste an entire week like that. I can't remember anything positive about the experience except the picnic at the end of the week-long period.

The curious thing about the church was that they really didn't get too many new members or new conversions. If they were lucky.....they might get eight folks a year to baptize. The interesting thing was the fancy stage bathtub that they kept in the back of the facility which all became part of the ceremony at the end of some service.

The "drowners" became the only real entertainment of the entire experience. These were the women usually, who weren't swimmers, and were fairly bad off at handling dunkings. You'd have a bit of a laugh watching this show.

The last time I had regular interest in going to the church....maybe at age sixteen. I can remember going to church three or four times in the last year I lived in Bama.....and lost any interest in the church.

Were the Baptists simply the wrong group for me? Over the years....I've come to believe that. You don't question much with the Baptists....you usually accept everything with very little discussion.....so that was probably a major strike against the church for me.

I look back at the period and the experience and mostly just laugh. Maybe it did cultivate me in some fashion and give me a slight edge on morals.....but the hours upon hours of boredom.....still lingers in my mind today.

Cold War II or Cold War Fraud?

For those who sit around the TV and observe dimwitted Russians....the past two weeks have kinda changed your prospective of things.

The missile treaty that was kinda agreed upon a couple of days ago....basically gives the US the option of putting up one half of the defensive missile shield for Europe.....namely the ten interceptor missiles. The Polish Parliament has to pass this agreement, which most think will occur. The second part is the radar deal, which will likely involve the Czechs. This deal hasn't been achieved yet. If the Czechs don't make the deal, then the whole mess would fall apart.

The Russians have shown tremendous issue over this entire project. Today....they basically hinted that diplomacy alone will not be enough....hinting ever so lightly that they might conduct military action against the Poles

There are three things which one might observe now.

First, the Russians are showing tremendous fear of ten lousy interceptor missiles. We aren't talking about nuclear missiles or even fifty or more missiles of a high-kiloton level. We are talking about missiles which would basically intercept a likely Iranian nuclear EMP-type missile....where a massive amount of infrastructure (all communications and electronic in nature) would be destroyed in Europe with two or three of these. Ten lousy missiles? Thats all? Yes. And the Russians are in a state of fear over ten missiles....interceptor missiles at that.

What makes the Russians fearful? Basically....all of the technology that they are ready to sell Iran...is going to be beaten by the NATO missiles....so there isn't much reason for the Iranians to buy the Russian technology. Another likely worry is that the US is actually setting things into motion that the Russians thought were impossible.

The second observation....Poland is now a part of NATO....so any threat against Poland now invokes all of the European countries and the US. Anyone who thinks that Russia gets a free ticket to threaten anyone will likely miss the key concept of US defense in Europe.

Finally, the observation of the poor overall condition of the Russian military today triggers one to think how many years it would take before Russia might be able to actually take on anyone other than a Georgia-style country. The video-clips of drunk Russian troops running around the Georgian countryside doesn't help these guys. The lack of leadership over these dimwits and hooligans.....from either NCOs or officers.....is very obvious.

So is the Cold War returning? No.....I have serious doubts. I think this is more of a fraud than a realistic situation. There are actually fools in Moscow who think that the mighty Russian military is very much in existence. The same fools believe a real Russian navy still exists. The same fools believe that technology development in Russia kept footing with Europe and the US for the past fifteen years....it hasn't.

We are looking at a very weak Russia where a vast amount of its real wealth and power....is controlled by the mafia or millionaires. Without the natural gas or oil...the country is bankrupt. Without world banks handling their cash flow.....its a country which falters within a matter of weeks. So it is a fraud of sorts. The cold war isn't coming back. One might refer to this as the "chilled but not shaken" war, which might be more fitting in this circumstance. And in this case....a good martini might be an enjoyable thing.

18 or 21?

Several university presidents have come out over the past weekend and voiced their approval to move the drinking age back down to 18. This is basically to stop binge drinking which, they say, is easier to control if the guy is 18....instead of 21.

Which do I prefer? Well....I have a simple program that I'd like to start across the US. Its called "18 and zero". In my program, you get to start drinking at 18....no questions asked....just show the ID card. And when the cop comes to give you the blood test or the break-machine....and you fail....then you lose your license for two entire years, period, no exception. The second time, and I'll keep these listed in a national database since states are not capable of counting.....it'll be three years. And the third time.....thats the end of your license forever.

You will never get another license in the US....forever and forever. You want to travel....call mama or your wife or son or cousin to pick you up. After a year of doing this....they will be sick and tired of it....and refuse to help you. You might squeeze another year out of someone else.....but it'll be luck if you do.

Caught driving within the affected period while you were supposed to be license-less? Well....you just got three years added onto your period (first time, you get caught). The second time? Its a ten-year period before you get the license back. And a third time you might get caught driving when you weren't supposed to? You are finished....no more license.

Its a simple method. If you have alcohol problems....then drink at your house or your barn.

Wanna pay the police officer off? Then you get a $10,000 fine if caught and he gets fired automatically with no warning.

Wanna pay off the judge involved? Another $10,000 fine if caught and he gets fired automatically with no warning.

Wanna a lesser charge? No. No lesser charge possible with my program.

Wanna drink while in college....go for it....but you better walk back to the dorm. You can figure a long period of no car.....will make your life miserable.

This is my plan....with no alternate routes or escapes.

Here's the best part....you bring the 18-year old crowd back in to drink....and they crank in more tax revenue dollars. If they lose their license....then they can drink big-time while the wife drives them to work each day. We make tons of money off these fools. We make revenue coming and going.

Surprised? Shocked? I'd be taking a ton of folks off the road....with very little sympathy to show. I don't even care if they lose their job with the trucking company or the Pepsi distributor. If they are that stupid....they can stock shelves at Piggy Wiggly. I think this is pretty fair.