Sunday, 7 September 2008

Clayton County, The Saga Continues

The county school accrediation problems of this Georgia county continue on. Since losing their accrediation almost two weeks ago....things haven't been working too well. Over 1,800 students of the 50,000 have apparently decided to leave the school system, and there could be another 3,000 over the next month or two.

Adding to the mess....more of the story started to come out over the county board's selection of the school superintendent. Unlike Bama....where the county votes for the guy.....this guy is hired....so the board has to pick and decide upon his benefits.

This old board hired the new superintendent, although the national standards folks strongly suggested that neither of the final two candidates were not qualified for the job they were applying for.

The selecteee.....John Thompson.....got the job and made an immediate splash with his perks and benefits.

John would receive about $400,000. He would get another $24,000 each year for housing. He would get a $28,500 annuity. And then John would get 107 days of paid leave. I sat there laughing at this....107 days of vacation....which basically equals well over twenty-one weeks of leave per year. All paid leave.

So then, John went to work.....deciding to spend $80,000 to reprint high school diplomas because they carried the name of the former superintendent.

Along the way....John felt things couldn't be done fast enough.....so he decided for the recent June graduation.....blank pieces of paper would be given to 3,000 graduates and their real diplomas would be mailed later. Course, this cost of mailing out the 3,000 diplomas....cost well over $1,000.

The new board members have one major target on their horizon....fire John. Amusingly enough....two members of the old board remain in their place.....and actually refused to meet with the other board members this week....so nothing got accomplished.

Animal Farm and Change

Off the Peoples Cube, we have the newest poster today for the Obama crew...."Change via Animal Farm".

If one pulls out the representative record from Illinois and the senatorial record from DC....the comical thing is that this is the last guy who ever tried to change or modify anything. So the poster barely does work.

Over the past month....several folks have tried to find vast records that were generated over the previous five years. The truth is....there aren't any magnificent records to really talk about. Some folks want to say its "hidden".....but the actual truth if you dig....is that the guy kinda met for meetings....sipped tea....chatted....and then went home. He didn't spend vast hours on various programs or legislation to change a state or the nation.

Its comical in a way....marketing himself entirely at this platform of change.....convincing so many of us of his massive plan to change America.....when he hasn't done anything much to brag about. So settle back....worry less....and don't expect much change if he does win.

IACS

IACS? Its an acronym that basically is a security system that protects America GI's in Europe from evil folks who attempt to enter bases or posts. Its an Army program....lets get that straight up front. The dimwits designed and basically issued out barcode readers for each entry point gate....they scan your military ID and you enter. If you aren't in the system, you don't enter.

For two years....I had no problem....then about six weeks ago...my problems with IACS started. As most of you know....I'm retired AF, and I work as a contractor.....so I have two IDs. The kindly folks down at the station scanned both IDs in....although they felt it was unnecessary. I didn't care at the time. I figured if I lost one.....I'd have the other to enter base.

So six weeks ago, it started. The guard at one gate announced that there was a red flag....a duplicate ID card. I said sure....there shouldn't be a problem. He said there was. He could let me on base, but I'd need to fix this right away. You can't have two IDs in the system.....as he cautioned me. Little did I understand the issue at hand.

So I talked to Airman Snuffy at the base IACS point. He was helpful and kind.....calling the right folks and eventually putting one ID into history file and the other was kept active. That was going to fix the problem. So two weeks pass. Then the flag comes up again....and the gate guard has issues....so they find that everything is ok, and I'm let in again.

Last Thursday, I got stopped twice in one day. By this point, my patience was being tried. I asked them to simply remove ID number two from their database.....and discovered that only a 4-star general could authorize such an action. I asked what dimwit wrote this rule....he smiled and grunted "Army". I sat there....understanding a vast illogic.

I asked the kindly NCO there if I could just lose my ID and get a new one to "fix" the situation. He smiled and said that the old problem would just continue on. So I asked him...does it matter if I have one or two or even three ID's? He just smiled....and kinda agreed....an ID is an ID.

So I put on my hat....thinking Army. What did the dimwits do? They have a database, likely created by a guy whose either Army, GS or contractor....and thinks he knows how to run a database program. He built this simple. And it grew. Now, it has problems. He likely added a duplication program weeks ago to find all duplicates....and it does the job. I'm probably just one of a dozen or even two dozen problems....that keep corrupting the system. But then what? It can't delete them....fix them...repair them....or even isolate them.

He's got a corrupt database. Here's the likely kicker....he is continually rebuilding this database every few weeks now...with old data that was corrupt....and he is getting the same errors. Wonder why? The guy probably isn't as qualified as he claimed and likely will continue rebuilding the database for months....until he finally leaves and the next guy finds out how bad the situation is.

What fixes this? Well....IACS-version 2, of course. Thats the foolish and the proper answer.

What happens tomorrow? Well...I'll drive up to the gate and likely find trouble. I'm already expecting it.

The kindly NCO at the IACS station? Well....he actually wanted to write a memo and I could carry this around with me....which basically says I'm a swell guy and theres a flag permanently on my file that can't be erased....so just let me pass. Its kinda like a note from mama....letting me out of school everyday.....only better. I know the SP at the gate would ask stupid questions, and I'd just respond that I work for the CIA and its best not to question me.

So for those kindly folks at Stuttgart who actually run IACS....you folks just aren't winning any points with me.....and I'm thinking about smoking a cigar as I drive to work....just to get chilled out. I would drink a beer....but driving to work that way would be an issue.

Germany and Election News

So after weeks and weeks of discussion...Kurt Beck....a man admired mostly by himself.....is now sitting. As the national election approaches next summer....Steinmeier, who is the foreign minister currently and a major player in the SPD....will be the SPD's big candidate for the chancellor's job.

For months....the SPD has been losing votes left and right. Most of Kurt Beck's leadership skills were negative and have hurt the party greatly. In his own region of the "Pfalz"....the CDU (the right-wing), have basically taken a major lead in the regional polls.

What to expect? Mostly damage repairs over the next 60 days. Steinmeier is fairly liked by the majority of the SPD crowd and might be able to get eight percent of their numbers back. The real question here will be how much did the Linke Party gain against SPD....and if the current "friendship" between the SPD and CDU can continue on. Few expect any major changes for next years election, with Steinmeier taking second place and things just continuing on....as they are today.

Octoberfest 101


With Octoberfest just around the corner, some simple lessons on survival in Germany and beer.

First, the beer stein on the left is the accepted beer stein for 90 percent of people. The beer stein on the right is the "manly" stein. You may note a difference in size.

Second, beer in Germany is typically around 5 to 6 percent alcohol. From the manly stein, if you gulp this down in thirty minutes....you will be unable to drive for at least an hour. Typically, real men will drink about five of these over a four hour period. If you can drink seven....you probably won't remember where the car is parked, and thats ok. Don't be seen drinking water...thats too wussy.

The big beer will cost you around $7.70. The normal beer around $4.00.

The Hofbrau Haus of Munich is the best place to drink but you probably won't find a seat there during Octoberfest. If you go there any other time of year...order up a meal and have a manly beer.

Throughout the day, there will be a live band playing traditional Bavarian music....so don't expect it to be quiet.

When you've had enough, walk outside and find the courtyard. If you turn right....there is a cook's spice shop where you smell just about every spice on the face of the earth, within 200 feet of the Hofbrau Haus. If you continue walking that direction, you come to Maximillian Strasse where all the Hollywood types of Bavaria hangout and shop. Turn left onto Maximillian and continue walking this way for the neat stuff to admire. Somewhere along the way....there is a 5-star chocolate shop.....and pick up some expensive real chocolate.

Finally, expect to see a number of folks....mostly men but a few women....barfing on the street. Don't stare at them for long, because the longer you do watch this event....the more likely you will decide to contribute some of your hard drinking to the cobblestones as well.

A Career?

For several days, I have been contemplating a life and career change. After looking around....I've been in high-level research over the idea of becoming a successful community organizer. So I went to the Marin Institute to discover if I had the talents to be a community organizer. It seems that this Obama guy did ok and I might be able to find such a great position in life. So, here are the main requirements of being a good community organizer:

• Imagination. I felt I had a five-star status here, and could be very imaginative if necessary. I'm fully willing to lie on forms if necessary and create bogus staff members or bogus programs or even bogus communities (Ripley deserves more organizing, you know).

• Sense of Humor. Here, I felt I also had a five-star status. My humor is mostly southern and a bit sarcastic but folks tend to appreciate such a comedian amongst their community. I'm not the Benny Hill or Don Rickles type of community organizer....but then you could do much worse with some silly graduate of Harvard.

• Blurred vision of a better world. Here, I have problems. I don't have any blurred vision and am about as realistic as you can get. If you've fallen into a pit.....either you climb out or you accept your situation in life. If you just want to booze it up and try to forget or fill out government forms for $800 a month for the rest of your life in that pit....something ain't right. So I get zero stars for this blurred vision thing.

• An organized personality. Well....this was another problem....because as most folks will tell you....I'm very organized but my personality isn't. So I'm giving myself 1.5 stars on this topic.

• Strong ego/sense of oneself. Here was another problem.....I can't define myself as having a super-duper strong ego. I fix things...problems....people. I don't go around gushing or pumping up my mighty muscles. So I gave myself a 1-star for this area.

• A free, open mind, and political relativity. This was a perplexing topic. My mind is like a barn with no doors....totally open....and maybe a bit too open....with cattle stealing hay and neighbors viewing everything. I'm also thinking that I'm a bit non-Democrat, so this might be another problem....so I'm giving myself another one star.

• Ability to create the new out of the old. This is a difficult thing to measure. Basically, you just say its "new" when its not. We are back to creative writing 101. I can probably forty-four different new things out of one old thing.....but tomorrow....those forty-four will be old and I'll have to halve them again. And again. And again. So I'm giving myself three stars here, but tomorrow....it'll be six stars....if I use the right logic.

At the end of my evaluation....I felt there were serious issues. Sixteen stars out of twenty-eight potential. I'm guessing community organizing just wasn't in the stars for me. I'm probably better off running for governor of Bama, or coaching a minor league baseball team, or growing Christmas Trees for a living.

How to Stop a Train

Since I am a neutral viewer of the election, with some appreciation of McCain's campaign tactics.....I will offer this analysis of how I'd stop the Palin train in its tracks....and its not a complicated campaign.

Our favorite Alaskan governor...in her youth and serving as a mayor of a small town......Palin asked librarian Mary Ellin Baker to remove certain books due to objectionable language and the science they likely advocated.

The story isn’t proven as a fact, but lets examine the scenario.

Small town, religion, and a newcomer to politics. New mayor wants to fix something she considers wrong...so she wants a couple of books removed from the library...she even has a list already made up, which would indicate that she’s done her research (as you’d expect from a college grad).

She shows up to tangle with the librarian, wearing the hat of the mayor. It ought to be simple and easy. The librarian won’t budge (as you’d expect from 99.9 percent of all librarians). A book is a book...you can’t dissolve it away.

So when the threat of termination comes up...I’m guessing the librarian simply smiled. To make this threat come true...you have to fire with “cause”, because, you end up in municipal court with official paperwork detailing the reason. The minute the judge involved sees “won’t ban books” as the cause...the town is in serious trouble and would likely have to reinstate the librarian or pay her off. These days? You’d be talking about $300k minimum. No small town can afford to just hand money out, and the political figure who screwed up...is finished in the next election.

So Mayor Sarah at that point, grasped the refusal to give in by the librarian and the impact on her career...thus giving up her stupid idea.

The only problem I now see...is that she has ultra strong religious convictions...and would be agreeable to the banning of books, or holding hostage various scientific principals. Its a great thing to have strong religious character and morals....at some point, you run across a line where you threaten other people and their beliefs. We did write that silly provision into the constitution, you know....freedom of religion, which coequals the concept of freedom from religion.

So the question to pose to the VP choice....is there ever a necessity of banning a book from public view? She'll push up her glasses for a moment and contemplate the answer, and probably say "no", but then mention that there are certain books which society would be better off without.

The question then should be: which books?

Her religious character is going to find a bumpy road here. A discussion on evolution will likely disturb her to a significant degree.....and the idea of a book being freely open at the library to others to view....would create problems.

I think the Obama camp needs to isolate the candidate on this topic, and make her appear as foolish as possible on "freedoms". Its a simple argument, where she really can't win. And Obama gains a point or two in public perception.

Pretty Nifty

Its bogus of course....kinda makes sense. The exec who runs US....for those who didn't know....is a major Obama donor.

If You Build It, They Will Come

Apparently, those Germans and Danes have been busy, and worked up an agreement which was signed Friday, to build a 12-mile long bridge.

Around five years ago, I made a trip to Denmark. It required that I travel to Puttgarden, Germany by car....which was one of the worst driving experiences of my life in terms of heavy traffic. Then I arrived at Puttgarden to get into line and cross the channel by ferry to Rodbyhavn, Denmark. Its a 40-minute ferry ride and cost around $100 each way. I sat there then.....thinking that its a measly twelve miles and they ought to have a bridge. I guess they agreed.

Denmark is paying the bill....up to $6 billion in cost expected at this point. Of course, the Green Party from both countries came immediately out and said this was terrible. The Danes came back after the negative comment....because they are so green anyway....to let everyone know that this effort would limit greenhouse gases that the ferries were producing on a daily basis.

The curious thing is that there will be a toll here. They didn't say how much, and I'm guessing its in the $25 range....which might be reasonable....considering you were paying $100 before on the ferry.

It creates an interesting scenario where you could board a train in Stuttgart and store your car onboard...sit in a private cabin for twelve hours and then find yourself across the channel and sitting in Denmark....thus avoiding all of the hassle of a normal drive. You'd likely pay $1000 for a round trip of such, but if you figure the current gas prices and the pain of driving for twelve hours up to the area.....you just might shell out the $1000 and avoid all the trouble.

And as for those who ask about vacations in such a region of Rodbyhavn.....I give it a 3-star rating. There are no true beaches there...most are rocky. Its mostly a quiet town where the locals are mostly farmers and dress like folks in Louisiana. The cabins are all in forested areas and its the kind of place you'd go for two weeks to sip tea and let your blood pressure lessen greatly. Don't expect restaurants or classy malls....because thats not the local lifestyle. There might be two ice cream parlors in Rodbyhavn and maybe a pizza place.....and thats about it.