Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Hope The Musical?

I had an advertisement arrive at my door today.....in English. It's a nice flashy and colorful arrangement for a concert on 17 January....in Frankfurt....at the Jahrhunerthalle.

The name of the musical concert? Hope: An Interactive Musical.

Yep, it's an entire musical built around President Obama and this flashback of sort over the election of 2008.

I sat and pondered over pamphlet. They shout out: "....wildly exciting score".

I'm guessing they expect ticket sales to be high and interest to be in the thousands. But to be honest....if they get 2,000 folks to show up.....I think they will be lucky. I looked over the ticket prices and they run 42 Euro ($50) a seat. Personally, that's a pretty fair amount....and it's not a real musical like Phantom of the Opera.

German interest? They all have some interest in President Obama....but to go over to see some musical? I just can't see it.

The curious thing for me......could we ever expect to see a musical of sorts for George Bush.....and if so....would it be a country and western theme, or a tragic opera situation?

My Troy


I watched Troy again last night. It makes the third time.

Homer's epic story is taken and turned into a great masterpiece of movie cinema. We can say that Brad Pitt did a fair job in the movie.....and the sex scenes weren't really detailed in any fashion within Homer's written works....but hey, it works.

The fascinating part about this epic legend...is that Troy really lies on the Turkish coast....not any part of Greece itself. The Greeks came over....because of the kidnapping of some king's daughter....and retribution became the turbo-charger of this entire story. Everybody has to pay somebody else back....which just takes the story up a notch each and every minute.

I grew up in Bama....on Classics Illustrated. If you've never heard of the 'comic'....it was a simple comic book of sorts....started in the early 1940s...and the first run ended around 1971. There are around 170-odd comics covering every major classic book in existence. At some point, I probably had thirty of them. For most kids....these comics were worthless and their prices for resale at flea markets were a nickel a copy.

For a kid from Bama...with no introduction to Greece, the classics, philosphy, or great literature.....these comics became a strange introduction. I was probably the only kid in the entire county....collecting these.

What I could never understand....was why teachers in the fourth grade didn't readily hand out the comics and go through an entire month of introducing kids to Homer, ancient Greece, Moby Dick, or Hamlet. You could have done a dozen comics over a four month period and challenged their minds greatly.

So as I sat there last night....to me....this epic of sorts....Troy....made sense.....because of a comic book I read around age eleven.

Body Scanner Story

Fox News decided to interview some guy who claims to be a Muslim spokesman over this idea of a full-up body scanner deal at the airport.

Naturally...he responded that Muslims would never stand for this. Reasoning? The pure bodies of Muslim women would be on display for some non-Muslim dude to view.

I sat and pondered over this...and then realized that the government answer to this problem...would be to hire only Muslim guys to run the body scanner operation at airports. Course....maybe I'm inviting problems?

Air travel for all practical purposes...is a luxury. It's not mandatory. You can go ride a Greyhound bus or travel via any cruise line vessel...without any real issues or body searches. So if we have to exclude folks from this luxury....we really aren't suffering too much.

Bush 2.0 Vision

The President hinted yesterday that “systemic failure” existed over the US's security operation. He even went ahead and admitted some missed signals.

What you don't see from this...which will likely occur within weeks...is another demonstration of how we are simply in the midst of Bush 2.0. We will go back to the old "orange", "red", and "blue" warning programs that Bush devised.

Oh, they may try to reorganize this and simply use numbers rather than colors...just to make an obvious difference....but basically...we are in the midst of Bush 2.0 for all practical purposes. To be truthful....nothing really changed from the Bush era to now...including the stupidity of the terrorists...which is the grand reason why we've been so successful (or lucky).

The Shade Deal


It was an interesting story, buried in the news this week. A crackerjack government team has orders to develop a computer model that shows climate legislation supported by the President's idea of planting more trees....would be 'more value' than growing food.

The Ag Secretary....Tom Vilsack ordered the study.

Naturally this is all supposed to benefit the profit margin of farmers....which would be the five-star selling point of such a study. But to be honest, the only way to improve the profit maring....is to remove farm land from production and lessen food production from within the US.

How would this all work? Basically...we pay you (it's another stimulus check of sorts....don't worry)....to take a open pasture or field...and convert roughly 60 million acres of American farmland in forests over forty years.

The logic....which is a proven fact...trees clean air. And forests do it better than farms. So heat-trapping gases get cleaned up and we stay pure....sort of.

Naturally, ranchers and farmers are distressed about this deal.

I sat and pondered over this...having grown up in the Bama heartland and know the plain truth about farms and agriculture.

There are a number of programs in existence...which the Agriculture department likely knows much about...where guys are already getting a tax credit for converting a portion of their farm over to forested areas. Naturally...this is normally a leased deal where you get a lumber company to come through...plant in bulk over a day in some field...and ten years later...you've got 50,000 pine trees ready to harvest. You pick pines because they grow fast and mature quicker.

In this case, since it'd be a cash stimulus type deal...there's no forcing of folks to turn over land or mandatory conversion to forests. They want to entice you with some deal to last forty years. I would have an assumption that this means a low check of sorts in exchange for a minimum of property...maybe twenty acres. The check arrives once a year...for forty years. I'm sure there would be a minimum number of trees required...and I'd bet that they settle on pines more than any other tree.

The truth of the matter...if you drove over the entire state of Bama...and looked for non-crop lands which had potential....five percent of the entire state might have the possibility of fitting into the scheme.

Lets say you had a forty acre lot for cattle grazing...but you drew a straight line over the middle (vertical and horizontal)....and set a one-hundred foot wide line for tree-planting purposes. You'd probably give up roughly ten acres. Toss in a second grazing pasture with the same trick...and you'd likely pass their test and really not lose much.

The neat thing about this entire offer...you'd do it for forty years...and then harvest the heck out of 'forest'. It'd be your son or daughter with the profit...but basically....you'd invest for the future.

The other great thing about this deal...is that we'd have to employ 1,000 forestry-degreed punks out of Auburn....to watch over and manage such a program. They'd all need Ford F-150 pick-ups to tour their sector....so the Ford guys would make a profit off the deal. And naturally...the Auburn forestry punks would have to meet in New Orleans each year on a government-funded trip to discuss the forestry future...and toss down shots of Tequila.

This would help to save the earth, provide a massive forest for shade, give the lumber industry a huge boost in forty years, help those poor Auburn forestry students get a real job, and the Tequila industry would be blessed from this yearly meeting of the forestry dudes.

The real bottom line? You'd get a check for probably $1,000 a year....just let trees sit on the property. Heck, that's a trip for you and the old lady over to Atlanta each year and watch the Braves play an entire weekend....with as much beer as you can drink.

NY Police Story

It's a curious story over at the NY Post (a fine paper to read)...the governor of New York....has doubled up his security force around him...by double....over eighteen months.

In most states....the governor typically has one or two state-troopers around him or his residence. States like California or Florida....it typically runs anywhere from twenty to fifty cops who routinely protect the governor and his residence.

So the governor of New York state....has 200 cops running his protection. Naturally...each guy costs a minimum of $70k each per year...so this runs way up in the millions. Toss in overtime, an extra allowance for holidays, the extra cars and their maintenance....and you've probably got $5 million going for protection.

Then at some point in the article....the Post correctly points out....over in Long Island...on an average day...there are 150 state troopers in the entire area. So the governor has more protection than Long Island. This kinda infuriates a number of state residents.

From my hometown of Florence, Bama....of 36,000 total residents...I doubt that they even have half that number of cops protecting the entire town. Something smells awful funny about this story.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Just An Odd Note

So our buddy....the Detroit bomber....Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab bought his plane-ticket....with $2,800 in cash.

You would think....that something would have alerted folks at that point...cash....bulk purchase.....in cash.

Some Idiots

Petaluma is a California town of 54,000 people. It's not remarkable for much...except...if you read an awful lot like me...they have a problem with pensions.

The city government now has a total requirement that existed for 2008....of $28.5 million needed to pay its pension fund for city employees who've retired. Next year....it'll likely be $30 million minimum.

In 2002, it was $9 million. So you can kinda see a trend here. Want to guess what it is in 2015? I'd be guessing $40 million.

Supervisors and managers are typically getting $100k a year...via this pension requirement. If you were a mere clerk at the lowest level...you likely collect at least $35k a year.

The cops and fire department guys can retire under a plan called the “3 percent at 50” plan. They basically jump out at age 50 (think about it....retirement at age 50).....and then collect 3 percent of final salary given for every year worked. What a deal.

What to do? No one knows. The union guys say that it's terrible to mess with the mess. The management guys say you can't recruit unless you offer real retirement. So the public is stuck with a bunch of idiots who think this bucket of money has no limits.

Imagine yourself sitting there....a guy who retires at age 51....making $100k a year as a manager....and then running off to some town in Bama to live the life of luxury and decadence.....because some idiots in California are really that stupid. Heck, you could have a bass-boat, a RV trailer, a hunting cabin in Tennessee, and even a trip to the Caymans each summer for the next thirty years of your life....compliments of stupid idiots in California. This is better than playing lotto.

Meanwhile...right behind you....only three years away from retirement....is your replacement at the old office. And he's already talking to you about what kind of RV to buy, where the best bass-boats can be procured, and if there are any fine trophy-wives in Bama for a rich 50-year old guy to hook up.

And at the end of this mess....is the 32 year old guy.....daydreaming day after day at work in Petaluma.....of his impending retirement in eighteen years....and his bass-boat in Bama.

Monday, 28 December 2009

My Idea

Over the past few days, I've read through the reports of the Detroit bomber and the potential disaster that could have occurred....had his bomb gone off. Basically, we are coming to a point where we need to ponder how to fix security...once and for all. So I've spent some time today...evaluating this...and am suggesting the following improvements.

First, you have to be at the airport....six hours prior to leaving. This six hour period is going to be utilized in a fashion....to make any terrorist regret taking the plane.

Second...as you enter the airport and go up to the baggage counter....they hand you a laxative (a pretty peppy and strong one). You have no choice....you sip it or you don't get to enter the gate.

Third....as you go through the passport and ID point...you disrobe....down to nothing. The TSA folks hand you a nice bag red towel (XXX-XL) and a pair of flip-flops. You hand your clothing and personal stuff over to a guy who puts it in a special tray and it gets hauled down to a x-ray machine and a special dog.

Fourth....you proceed to walk the 1.5 miles on a specially designed track like those ride entries at Six Flags. No cutting the circle...you just keep walking....letting that laxative work.

Fifth...we get up to a machine that takes you up three hundred feet....while sitting...and literally drop you in three seconds. If the laxative hasn't worked up until then....it'll surely work after that drastic drop.

Sixth....we bring you up to your bags....and you open everything for the folks to view. If you pass....we give you your clothing back and put the bags on the plane.

I admit this is fairly drastic and some folks will voice a problem with a six-hour arrival time, and the laxative....but frankly, this kinda fixes any idiot who thinks he can cram something up his butt and get it via security. If he's got anything there....it's going to come out via the laxative...or his 1.5 mile walk will rub up the siding of any condom in a tight place...and start it to leaking in his bowls. And to be honest...I don't really care much to helping the guy...once the leaking starts to take place.

This Aquarium of Sorts

This has been an aquarium of sorts here in Germany for me over the past fifteen years. I look back now...with only a week left in country...and viewing this moment of entering back into a different job and a different land. Someone I work with...made the comment that I might feel like I've landed in Bombay...when I get to Arlington. I questioned the humorous suggestion...but I didn't readily deny it.

I had several great mentors in the nineties and it made me a more rounded individual. I learned the method to question authority but in a way that commanders could appreciate and at least listen to my suggestions. I learned to limit actions until you really knew the actual real and true plan. I learned to coach people through difficult events in the same fashion that a football coaches on the field. I learned to use humor as a sword and shield...to deflect a bad situation or a negative leader. I learned to read faces, verbal cues, and body language...then to reach out to a person in a very direct fashion.

This aquarium provided tests and challenges...but also kept me within some limits. I eventually reached a point...probably by 2005...where the aquarium was not working. I could not take a management role. I was a contractor...without authority. I could not stop stupid acts from occurring. I could not prevent a bad ethical decisions by the organization from occurring. The aquarium was stifling me. There was a negative feeling to this tank and it's limits.

Whatever I've been offered in DC...takes me out of this aquarium. I will in some sense...swim the deep sea and have to respond to situations with what tool's I've acquired.

My Socrates bit of questioning rhyme and reason will be required. My 'Andy Griffith' level of common sense and wisdom will be tested. My Doctor House-method of prescribing a creative fix for a drastic problem will be a necessity. Finally...my dad's gift to me of this Bama-method of pondering for a moment will be flexed and utilized as required.

My aquarium over the past fifteen years was a great place to swim and develop. This 'escape'...will be a phase of great expectations.

Observations of the Detroit Bomber

It's been a couple of days now since the landing episode occurred with the aircraft at Detroit. We can make a couple of observations now.

First, this guy mixed a bad explosive mix. Either via stupidity, rushing, or just lack of training...but it's this luck of the bad mix that prevents this from being a major catastrophic event.

Second, the Homeland Security crowd are arguing long and hard that things worked like they were supposed to...and that the name of this character just didn't make the forbidden list. So far, they haven't been proven right or wrong.

Third, this character brought the explosive on board...apparently by a condom...stuffed up a sensitive location of his body which we won't go into detail about. He removed the item from that location....strapped it on the leg....then punctured it....and waited for the chemical reaction to occur.

Fourth, this condom-carrying situation is going to make all of us miserable because either they X-ray every single one of us....meaning a fairly healthy dose of X-rays on a regular basis...or you get a cavity search. Neither of these are going to be appreciated by anyone.

Fifth, this new rule of no one getting up in the final hour of the flight....is going to make life miserable. Imagine getting fed on a Atlantic flight....an hour earlier...then they come and grab all the plates and cups...then make you sit there for an hour while you desperately need to go to the bathroom. You'd best skip every bit of food they serve and drink only water or beer for the entire flight.

Sixth, this suggestion of the idiot getting onboard the the flight without a passport continues to float. If this proves to be true...a number of Dutch security folks need to be fired.

Seventh, would a 72-hour ship ride make you feel safer at this point? If some company could offer a no-nonsense mini-cabin...eight feet by eight feet...from coast to coast...for $750 round-trip...would you start to be tempted to go by boat? My guess is that some folks are starting to think about this kind of situation.

Eighth, the Jihad guys are bound and determined to carry out their threats. So a change in government from Bush to Obama....has made ZERO difference. We still haven't brought the sense of urgency and absoluteness to the national government-level. Nothing has changed in eight years.

Ninth and final...the one thing that has changed is the dedication of passengers now to take action on their own...without waiting. This might be the one detail that the Jihad guys can't plan against or get around.

Meanwhile...next Tuesday, I'm scheduled to ride Northwest out of Frankfurt...to Detroit, and onto Ronald Reagan International. Yes, this kinda bothers me, but there are no choices unless I chose to ride cargo on a military flight. The funny thing is that I need to be at the airport four hours prior to the flight now...and waste almost three hours of that in lines waiting to clear baggage, check-in, customs, check-point #1, and check-point #2. Oh, and let's not forget the final ticket point where they finally let you board the stupid plane. If I went via military cargo....it's twenty-five minutes of walking the points....and the military guys are willing to shoot me if I act funny.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

A Quote from the Day

"The system worked".....spoken by Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano when discussing the end result of the Detroit attempted terrorism act.

I will offer a moment of wisdom:

WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
FAILED SECURITY IS THE SYSTEM THAT WORKED

We live in 1984.

We Can Dream

Old Geezer Politics

Let us lay out this story in a fashion that any American elderly political figure would cry his eyes out over.

Over in India in the past week....there is this sex tape now going around with the local governor....Narain Dutt Tiwari)....who happens to be 86 years old. The governor lays there in bed....with three women. Yep, three women.

Narain's political foes are all over him to admit this "terrible" thing and resign. Then some Indian women's right groups held some protests to get him out of office as well.

So far....Narain...has kinda denied anything....and says that the tapes are fake.

I went out to YouTube to view the tape....and frankly....between the lousy Indian music in the background....the news commentator talking about what he is watching in the background...and what appears to be some old guy hugging some other gal...that's about it. In Bama....we'd rate this with the Playboy channel and ask the local guy for a racier adult channel.

So I sat and pondered over this. You got a 86-year old guy....who is a political figure. In the south....this type of news would be like a breathe of fresh air for any politician. A old guy....still hot for women....in bed with three gal's? Some governors would pay millions for such advertising. Heck, over in South Carolina...just to get some attention...that governor was willing to fly down to Argentina to get some headline news.

I'm thinking this is a great political scheme....make everyone think you are still hot and lusty...even though you are 86 years old...and maybe even the old guys over 60 will jump up and vote for you. You have to wonder...if McCain had only take up this tactic in last year's election...man....things would have turned different in the end.

Losers in Company

This past week....the week before Christmas...which only makes this story more humorous....some city council folks from New Orleans flew up to Detroit....to learn how to "recover" from a downward spiral.

I sat there....pondering over this story. Basically....you are a loser city...and you go to a bigger loser city....to learn how to avoid issues?

At some point in this episode....a Detroit News reporter (Darren Nicols) says: “It isn't often leaders turn to Detroit for advice".

Yes, indeed. Hell may freeze over and George Bush may be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize before any other city comes up to Detroit to ask for advice.

So imagine this situation. A bunch of New Orleans political figures fly up to Detroit.....the week before Christmas. They stay at a up-scale hotel....drink fine champagne....charge the city credit cards for fancy $40 meals....and then party-down with Detroit upper-class? I hate to suggest such a scenario....but frankly, that's about all that I can imagine from this meeting of the "minds".

New Orleans could have gone to Tucson and learned how to be a successful city. They could have gone to Boise and learn the ways of attracting business. They could have gone to Huntsville and learned how to develop technology growth sectors. They could have gone to Reno and learned how to operate a tourist front. But instead....they figure out the biggest loser around, and then ask for a four-star tour? Am I missing something here?

I think the folks in New Orleans figured that it's the week before Christmas and this would be a great way to spend some city cash....and avoid any real publicity because it's the Christmas holidays. This will barely carry for a day or so......and then disappear. So folks out on the streets of New Orleans will likely never hear about this little trip.

Just Your Charity Money

It's a story that has come and gone in whatever press that it might have appeared in. It was timed to deliver around Christmas...so you'd forget it or just never hear much over it.

In 2004...a tsunami occurred in the Pacific. Everyone got weepy-eyed...and then demanded millions and billions to help those poor folks.

Over the past year...things in Sri Lanka...have come unraveled.

A billion dollars for tsunami aid...has neatly disappeared. No one can explain anything on projects or material that it paid for. A Berlin group....Transparency International...asked and then demanded for an audit.

Presently...out of the 2.2 billion that went to the island...they can show that 603 million was spent on projects which had nothing to do with the tsunami. We can only guess it helped to build houses for unaffected areas, bought school buses, repaired roads, and probably helped install street lights. We simply don't know the use of this 603 million dollars.

But here's the second part of the puzzle....almost 472 million dollars is totally unaccounted for. They can't even say if it went for unaffected areas. They can't even say if they bought blankets with it....or air conditioners....or Ford F-150's.

So as you watch some disaster unfold in some part of the world...and the charity opera unfolds....and you have political folks weeping away....saying how a billion here and a billion there will bring life back to this poor impoverished nation...maybe you should ask how it would be spent, and then cut the amount of money in half before giving it away.

We will end up finding out that several nations did the same thing. It's not just those Sri Lanka folks. Face it....it's stimulus....no matter how you shake this tree.

Our Guy in Detroit

The quote of the day? It comes from our Dutch associate who stopped the bomber on the aircraft landing at Detroit. He describes the terrorist: "He was shaking. He didn't resist anything. It's just hard to believe that he was trying to blow up this plane. He was in a trance. He was very afraid."

If you go through the Independent...one of my top ten favorite papers to read...you find this wannabe terrorist character...is some clown who has lived in wealth and privilege. So today, as he's sitting in a Detroit jail...he's probably sitting there and wondering about his future.

The court case? It's going to be fairly simple. I would imagine that a lawyer will be assigned to the case to help him...but this case ought to start by July of 2010....and be finished within five days. The only charge they have to make on him is the act of bringing bomb-material onboard the plane. They can settle him in for twenty years of prison with that one single charge.

He probably is in for a rude awakening in the US prison system. He will be treated as dirt by inmates. If he makes it five years in prison...I think he'll be lucky. If he's really lucky...they might send him onto the Super-Max in Colorado...but his life will be miserable.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

The Pension Game

It is a curious story that came out today.....and you have to wonder about the timing. Few people are reading the news over this weekend.....and this should slide by very quickly. But the emphasis of this....is five-star.

There is a $530 billion bill existing.....for U.S. state and local government pensions. Almost all will admit that they have not set money to the side for this bill....and simply take money out of the general revenue pot to continue on.

There are actually 39 county governments in the US.....which have a $130 billion dollar bill existing for their pension requirements. At the bottom of the entire scale.....is lowly Arizona....with a state requirement of $71 million in existence. New York City? Fifty-nine billion.

So if you were wondering if anything could even top the Wall Street fall of 2009......well....yes....this pension pyramid. You can forecast out.....a decade into the future.....and states like New York and California.....will not be able to cover their pension requirements.

At some point....counties and states will eventually dump their responsibility back onto the federal government because it will become an impossible bill to cover.

About a year ago, I came across this neat California university retirement deal. The chief of security was pulling in around $200k a year for the university. She retired. The new chief was a temp. The old chief got a pension in the $130k a year range. Around eight months pass...the temp leaves.....and they rehire the old Chief back......at her old pay, while she keeps getting paid the $130k a year on the pension, and building it up each year. A responsible company would never have done that....while a university organization does it without a worry.

There are cops regularly retiring in California now....with a pension of $75k a year easily. No one in the state government ever dares to question this. Even if you tried to fix it....people would just get upset and challenge you in court.

So we are merely waiting for an end to this game.....when we all get this huge tax bill.....to cover pensions for everyone.....on top of health care.

You Just Need One Guy

As the plane started to land in Detroit....a pop could be heard, and then a little bit of smoke.

Then, Jasper Schuringa, sitting about four rows back sized the situation real quick. Jasper....a Dutch guy, and a film director...was making a trip to visit friends in the US.

Panic was this immedate action for most folks...except for Jasper. There in seat 20J...of the Airbus 330...knew precisely what was required of his being. He jumped....over four seats....to reach a lowlife dimwit...whose preoccupation in life was to make people as miserable as possible.

Jasper found this character sitting there....with a blanket over his lap, with smoke pouring out from under it and flames around his legs.

Jasper found an attached device to this dimwit....with flames around it....and literally ripped off the guy's leg. No hestitation was on Jasper's mind.

Jasper put what fire he could and yelled for water....which the crew threw themselves into action....bringing out a fire extinguishers...thus putting out the flame.

Then Jasper...still with absolute strength in his mind and soul....took a headlock on this character and literally hauled him out of the seat and then dragged the dumbass up to first class seating.

Jasper's words? "I don’t feel like a hero. It was something that came completely natural ... It was something where I had to do something or it was too late."

I've often written of moments when you only need one person to stand and stop something. This was one of those moments. Jasper's actions were automatic....without hesitation.

I'll even go one step further. Had this been a planeload of Germans....they would have all sat and watched...and simply waited for something to happen. One strong Dutch man was all this plane needed....to put down a terrorist.

So as you sit on a flight...and one single event starts to unfold...you can stop the idiot...if you simply stand up and take action.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Fair and Unequal?

Sometimes....people would be better off...keeping their mouth shut. There was an interview conducted with a journalist of Bloomberg and Senator of New York...Charley Schumer.

The interview had to deal with the universal heath care package....and how Senator Ben Nelson got this great deal for the people of Nebraska....involving special Medicaid payments. Forty-nine other states.....now must help Nebraska.....because it's written into this deal. They don't get any part of that deal.

So Senator Schumer says in the midst of this interview....“Every state has its own unique situations. That’s why we have a Senate.”

At that point, he kinda let the cat out of the bag that everyone has some status that is different from another state.

The thing about our nation.....it's built on the concept that folks from all fifty states have the same rights....the same deal.....the same taxes. Now? Schumer is indicating that there are fifty different deals from this bill and everyone gets something different.

How easy will it be to go into court and stomp each down? Maybe weeks....maybe months.....but I would say now, it's a one hundred percent chance that someone will get tempted to stomp on all fifty states and make this a level playing field.

Once these fifty deals are wiped out....the general purpose of the senate gets called into question. So we line up enough votes to pass something and everyone has to get paid off? Is this reality? One state gets a deal better than another state? Why bother having a senate then?

Something is wrong with this mentality.

"Hidden Messages"?

From Yahoo news today...there is this note of "Avatar" perhaps containing hidden messages.

Yes, can you believe that?

The basic script of this movie? A bunch of Earth dudes....who all speak English without an accent....so they are Americans....are in a big fit in the year 2154.

The dudes have all used up what natural resources lie on the Earth. This is all explained by excessive living.

So these English speaking Earth dudes without an accent....most likely Americans....have decided to hustle up their military folks....and send them off to some far-away land....outside of this planet and this universe.

The boys arrive at Pandora, which happens to be the same size as Earth...so it makes it easier to compare things as you sit there in the theater....munching on the popcorn.

These Pandora folks....happen to be wise, peaceful, and nature-respecting folks. Unlike any society on Earth....with idiots, dimwits, and nuts....the Pandora folks are totally different.

Naturally....they aren't white...which immediately makes a guy realize that there could be some racism involved here since almost all of the Earthling guys who speak English without an accent....are just plain white. There aren't any Latinos, Chinese guys, Russians or Black dudes.

So these blue-skinned dudes....referred have this resource mineral that Earthling dudes must desperately acquire. Amusingly enough...there's never a mention of a deal or swap or exchange. Apparently the Earthling dudes have nothing to offer....not even busty women.

So the Earthling dudes send up special forces. This can only involve guns, bombs, rockets, missiles and predators feeds.

The blue-skinned guys....act an awful lot like some African Indian tribes or American Indians or country folks in Bama.

Everyone is kinda friendly and open to folks visiting and don't want to get upset over anything that ain't a big deal.

At some point, one of the special forces guys turns friendly.....and helps the blue-skinned dudes fight against the evil Earthlings who only speak English without an accent. It's really not worth discussing after that point.

So, is there a hidden message? No. It's a pretty one-dimensional script without anything carrying it. The blue-skinned guys can only be friendly....anything else beyond that....makes this a wasted effort. What if the blue-skinned guys had arrived on Earth.....and started to steal resources from here? We'd kick their butt.

So this Yahoo news item...is about 99 percent a joke....and geared toward some guy or gal who barely functions at the seventh-grade level. As long as you can, act, and behave like you did in Ms Johnson's seventh-grade class.....then you can pretty much believe in Avatar and really get into the action and drama of the movie. That's all it takes. If you have advanced past Ms Johnson's seventh-grade class.....it just won't be the special treat that you thought it would.

JFK Airport Woes

It was a story that I understood.

Up in New York...at JFK airport....the Port Authority cops got called out to the Delta Airlines terminal on Tuesday....to control a hostile and angry crowd.

Hmmmm.....it is reminiscent of my episode from two years ago....same airport...same airline....just happening in July instead.

Apparently, this snowstorm in the local area caused a bunch of cancellations....and the Delta folks were unable to comprehend the hostile nature of being stuck at JFK. The cops spent almost an hour....getting everything under control.

For those who've never been at JFK and dealt with Delta there....they are worthless. They won't help you find a hotel. They will hint of you being stuck in NY City not just one more day....but two....or even three. They won't tell you that hotels run $150 minimum....or that JFK is run like a third-world operation with incompetent people from the front of the airport....to the rear. You'd find better service at Rome's major airport....which might insult the local Italians there who thought they were the worst staff on the face of the earth.

I can still remember that moment...when a mass of cancellations were handed down at 4PM, and I stood there in line for 90 minutes before they arranged my next day's trip. To get from NY City to Bama....I had to agree to fly Miami, then Orlando, then to Atlanta, then to Huntsville....a flight of fifteen hours total. That was the only way to fly out the next day.

Then came the discovery of no hotels near JFK's airport, and a total lack of help in getting you to some decent hotel.

Yes, I can understand the hostility...and the anger. Any fool that agrees to fly into the US...and go via JFK...is an absolute fool. If you fly into Miami and reach a canceled flight status...you've got twenty hotels within three minutes of the airport. Detroit? You've got around fifteen hotels within five minutes. Atlanta? Over forty hotels within ten minutes of the airport. Dallas? Almost twenty hotels within a ten-minute drive.

JFK? You have to board a van....then do a thirty minute drive into the heart of NY City....to find a hotel that runs easily $150 to $250 a night. The van ride? A minimum of $20...only because you've got eight people onboard going to the same area.

A Donkey Story

So this is what transpired....some folks over at the Eagle River Presbyterian Church....got all fired up....and wanted a real active nativity scene out front. So Pastor Rob Wilson went out and borrowed two donkeys. We don't know their names...but they were supposed to be held within this nativity scene...within a fenced-in area.

At some point....on Wednesday night....the donkeys escaped.

By morning....someone driving by...apparently noticed the donkeys gone....and a donkey search was established.

Thankfully....snow had fallen the day before....and tracks were laid out in the snow.

So later....the donkeys were found down by the local railroad tracks. As in all cases with donkeys....they were just looking for trouble.

Fort Hood Shooter Revisited

The Fort Hood shooter episode continues on. So today, they report that the attorney working for the shooter....John P. Galligan....came immedately to the media to announce civil rights violations.

I looked over the comments. Basically...they finally came to allow Major Hasan to make phone calls and he called his brother. There are likely some rules spelled out in this "right". He is still in the military, you know.

At some point in the conversation...the chat was halted. Major Has and the brother switched from English to Arabic. This appears connected to a Islamic prayer, but we really don't know the entire story in this case.

The attorney, of course, is very upset about this rights violation.

When you join the military....you end up losing some basic rights that a regular citizen might have. But the military always works on the side of the constitution....and there is some substitute of sorts. In this case....with languages....there is no substitute. They kinda expect you to speak English when you join, and use English throughout your career unless its an operational situation and your special language is required.

I'm fairly sure that the phone rules were spelled out to the Major before he was allowed to call. So he simply went on to challenge it. As for the legal challenge? The commander holding the Major....will listen to the challenge...spend a day reviewing it....and I'm guessing he will say that all conversations will be in English, period.

The thing is...you joined the military on day one....displaying the ability to speak English, and it's an absolute requirement to use it. They aren't about to hand out special favors and allow this to change.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Secret Network?

It is a great story....but sad at the same time.

Somewhere around 2003....this guy came out and somehow convinced the CIA that he had the ability to decode secret messages sent by Al-Qaeda through Al-Jazeera news broadcasts.

Naturally, you'd sit there and scratch your head over this. Secret messages? Via some nightly broadcast? Sent from the Middle East by Al-Jazeera? Could it be?

For a number of months...this guy had the CIA convinced that such sensitive and classified data was being transmitted this way.

So on, and on....this testing of his very secret software occurred. It's almost like the CIA wanted to believe him....but the truth simply wasn't there.

So at some critical point, the CIA finally turned to the French (don't ask how or why)....and got the official French "shake"....it was bogus.

The curious thing here....why the French? Did the French have some ability that the CIA didn't have? Did the French themselves already put out secret data via Al-Jazeera and just knew that two players couldn't do this? Well....we don't know.

I sat and pondered this....eventually wondering....if Glenn Beck via Fox News...wasn't passing secret data for Al-Qaeda? This white board that Glenn uses....with all the funny symbols? Could that be a data transfer device? Could Fox news be passing data?

Or how about Time and Newsweek?

How about Sponge Bob?

Somewhere out there....is a CIA team who'd really like to believe in this massive secret message network...and frankly, they just aren't having much luck.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Gambling

I have an associate who got into trouble around a decade ago....over a football pool. It was a curious episode. He joined wits with three or four guys.....wrote up a spreadsheet with a weekly pool. The thing about the pool....no money was involved. Yep, this was agreed upon by all the guys.

So weeks passed, and then the security dude for the organization happened to trip over this football pool and got all upset. This was a government agency, and against all rules to have a football pool.

So naturally, an investigation occurred. The ringleader....turned out to be my associate who started the spreadsheet. They brought him in and were preparing for a massive disciplinary action. At some point, he kinda interrupts them and asks if no money was exchanged....how could this be gambling. There was a long pause then.
They went back to the other participants....and all said the same thing.....no money was ever pledged.

You would expect the whole thing to fall apart at that point....but no....the security chief decided that the government regulations read in such a manner that if you just smiled in glee...from winning the weekly pool...you violated the government’s ethical situation. So they ended up with some disciplinary action anyway....just not the most serious.

I sat there....being from Bama....and pondering this.

How can you gamble....without money or money-associated items involved?

Now, in Bama....you could put up twenty bales of hay.....a hundred pounds of corn feed.....a cow or two.....a dozen goats....or just cash....to gamble in such a pool.
That would readily be called gambling. They involved something of true value. But to bet on something....with nothing paid at the end?

In Bama, a money-less bet....just wouldn’t fly.

"Protection"?

I had to go by the German Auslanderamt this week. That’s the office....where we foreign guys with visas....do our “in and out” business.

It’s down at the Kaiserslautern county office. They had the same furniture and run-down condition that I noted back in 1999. I was next in line as I arrived....with two Turkish gals dressed in some green satin get-up behind me.

I came to discuss my “leaving” of Germany....which I tended to think it shocked them that anyone would ever want to leave their lovely tax heaven (hell would be a better term to use).

Basically, they didn’t want to anything at all. Once I leave, and I announce this to the local Rot Haus (the city hall).....and then leave for six months, then this whole visa business is finished.

Then the lady said a strange thing. Had I waited....up until the 15th year to leave.....the visa would never....ever...end. Yep, this was passed in 2002, and is the unlimited and forever situation.

I sat there....mostly shocked. Had I waited four more lousy years to restart my predicament with these idiots.....then I could never have dumped this stupid visa.

Then the lady said that would arrange me to have “protections” with this fifteen year deal. When you mention “protections” to a guy...it tends to mean a condom....you know. But in this case....I start pondering this....what the hell kind of protection would these guys offer me? I was already a member of the Bama delegation and felt that Bama “protection” was just about all a guy really needed in life.

I thanked the lady....and left.

So on the fifth, as I take off from Frankfurt......my visa will start to end. Tears will likely flow from my eyes.....and relief from taxation will make me want to use the toilet quickly to release some of my German frustrations.

Why To Never Buy Used Vehicles

I worked with a guy here in Germany....who owned a vehicle and was a hunter. The day came when he needed to part with the vehicle, and sold it to a co-worker.

Today, around a year later....the co-worker and I were chatting....and the vehicle came up in discussion. She admitted....it was a really nice vehicle and well maintained....but there was this smell. After purchasing it....she noticed this faint but always present smell.

Our friend used the vehicle as his hunting vehicle....and always brought home the dead boars or birds in the back. Needless to say....a bit of smell ended up permanently staying there.

I asked her how bad this got....and she just grinned. She hinted that it was now a daily smell and she was ready to take drastic measures.

I paused over this.....I’m a Bama guy and always supportive of hunters and their passion. In the old days.....real Bama hunters all had pick-ups and you could always dump a cup of bleach on the bed and just hose down the situation. Today....using an SUV.....you’ve got problems with hauling dead boars.

I will predict that within a year.....she ends up selling the vehicle to some guy and putting up some fancy smell stuff to keep the animal smell down. Eventually, that new owner will start to suspect that a dead something was in the vehicle....and eventually pull up the carpet in the back....to freak out when blood stains are obvious. This guy will call the cops....they will haul my associate in for possible murder charges, and then tests will confirm the dead animal situation.

If she were smart then, she’d just announce to the new owner and the cops that she was into satanic rituals and butchered up wild boars as part of the ceremony....just to end this entire discussion. The new buyer is not going to desire to get his name in the local paper having bought some vehicle from a lady satanic worshiper who butchers up her own wild boar.

You can imagine the look on the faces of the cops when this blonde gal mentions all of this....and the animal part of the ceremony....and they might be all weepy eyed over finding a gal who got into their same interests.

Monday, 21 December 2009

The Shed

Long ago....before Lady Gaga, Madonna or Jimmy Carter....my dad put up a shed, and put up a coffee can of nuts and bolts. That was then, and this is now.

This shed has become a mecca of sorts....with every imaginative screw, bolt, nut, and nail that you could possibly dream up.

At various times...an effort to organize was undertaken and showed remarkable results.....to be pushed back months later with an acquisition of another 200 pounds of nuts and bolts, or a case of axle grease, or a box of unique screws from Mexico that have a funny smell about them but you really don't want to ask what it is.

There ought to be a scientific principal about items stored per square foot to cover a shed area like this....but there isn't.

When I do visit.....I'll step into this shed area.....and stand there for a minute or two....just gazing. I usually stand there and think about the effort to acquire this collection.....week by week....month by month.....year by year. It's not a planned effort....nor would you ever want to design a area like this with a real flowchart or functional diagram.

There really isn't an end to this.....my dad would simply add another extension onto the shed, if required. That's what makes this interesting.....the never-ending-shed. As long as nuts and bolts exist...this collection will simply continue to grow.

Our Bama Bob

Alabama always have interesting governors. Some are nuts. Some are corrupt. Some are wannabe governors. And then you have Governor Bob Riley...the current governor.

Bob leaves office in January 2011. Someone got around this past week.....asking Bob what the heck he was going to do after that...and his wife did the talking.

She indicated that Bob was taking some time off before heading off to the family farm in Clay county....and he is using that time to ride a Harley from Bama to Alaska.

I paused there...pondering this adventure.

To be honest...almost every guy from Bama has this dream....traveling from Bama to Washington, and then on up to Alaska. We will sip beer and chat with VFW hall buddies over this fantasy. We will talk with guys at the water cooler over the best route to make it up there. And we'll ever plot this out on Google maps...with stops in Vegas, Death Valley, and the Grand Canyon.

We will calculate the Pabst Blue Ribbon required....the number of clean pairs of underwear to bring along.....and the method of return (always a airline ticket).

The truth is that this fantasy will last a while until we figure out you have to sit on a bike for the whole trip....and how sore our butt will be by the fifth day (somewhere in Utah). Everyday tends to be one hour less...as we get sore, worn out and sunburned.

Will Bob make it the whole way? I have doubts. For a 65 year old guy....this isn't a simple 12 hour ride. You have to cross either Utah, New Mexico or the plains states....and it'll be a harsh and hot environment. If this were a pick-up truck...I'd say a one-hundred percent chance of finishing this expedition. But by cycle? I just can't bet on this episode.

Science and Vodka


There are alot of smart guys out there....begging for research projects that might be of real value....certainly not the ones that tell you the number of M&M's in each bag, or the report that gives the 300 reasons why NASCAR is a great sport, or the report that details why big-boobed women get stared at more than small-boobed women. So this past week....some guys from Brown University came with their report.

Basically, the boys have proven that bourbon give drinkers more of a severe hangover....than vodka.

So I paused here...with curiosity of how this could be. The boys say that bourbon contains 37 times more toxic compounds than vodka does. Naturally, I've never counted toxic compounds....in vodka, bourbon, wine, or beer. So this interested me. These are negative compounds of sorts...at the boys say this....organic of course...not unnatural....consisting of acetone, acetaldehyde, tannins and furfural.

So the logic here....for liquors...is that the more clear a liquor....the better off you are.

This was the one-sentence bit of logic that I needed. I didn't care about the other 44 pages of details...which just confuse me more than help.

Of course, there is always the science statement which derails the whole result of the experiment....that both bourbon and vodka perform the same amount of impairment. So you don't gain or lose with either...thank goodness.

So as you pause on Saturday night in Bama....in a dry county....preparing for Baptist church in the morning....and you really need a stout bit of booze for the evening....consider using vodka...because the hangover will be less in the morning and you won't t fall asleep during church services.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Lost

In a few short weeks....my favorite show of all time starts up again....Lost.

I have come to be addicted to the show in some fashion. The writing...the storyline...the acting...the characters....all make this into a five-star epic of sorts.

But as the final season comes to life...the gang in charge want to close a number of mysteries...and I have some fears over how things will be explained.

First, if John Locke is really and truly dead...it'll be hard for me to sit there and watch some fake John Locke carry out some part of the storyline.

Second, the Adam and Eve skeletons? When I observed this storyline item...I kept thinking...this is Jack and Kate. It could possibly be Sun and her Korean husband.

Third, lil smokey. Yep, there was smokey in the beginning and you just kept thinking...what the hell was that? No explanation ever was believable, and I think anything they offer...will be mostly bogus.

Fourth, this four-toed statue of sorts...the Taweret? Accidentally destroyed by an earthquake...we will presume....but how does it get built in the first place?

Fifth....the English ship in the middle of the island and its contribution to the whole story?

Sixth...who really is this Richard Alpert?

Seventh...there are rumors of a mass destruction toward the end....where a number of the characters are simply killed off. If that's the case....I just might turn the show off and give up on it.

Eighth....will Ben redeem himself? For some reason, I'd like to see Ben as a nice guy in the end....but I know that won't happen.

I have come to enjoy this fresh approach to great writing....dragging you along...with a twist and turn....and never spelling out the eventual ending.

Just Another Tax

If everything continues on...as is...this universal heath care bill that will be passed this week...will include a excise tax....on indoor tanning services (in lieu of elective cosmetic medial procedures).

The necessity for this? Well...I'm not sure of any real reason to tax them except it helps to generate more taxes for the US government (better it's this and not toilet paper or laxative).

Now the neat thing about this....a guy could read this and then put his tanning beds in some outdoor type of arrangement...and thus avoid this entire tax issue.

Does Senator Harry Reid know about this tanning excise tax? I'm not sure. It could be that Harry has never read a page of the entire bill...and it's something that one of his folks just inserted as a joke...to see if anyone would notice it.

Naturally...as a Bama guy...I don't care a bit about this. I enjoy a 100 percent natural Bama-type tan from the free sun. So far, Harry hasn't figured out a method to tax free sunshine.

The Tunnel Story

If you live in the UK, there are only three ways to get down to the continent....by plane, by ferry, and by the Chunnel. This Chunnel experience is a unique episode. You drive onboard a special train (yes, your car can go)....step into a cabin at the front of this coach....and then settle back for a 45-minute trip under the English Channel. Cost is relative.....lesser in the evening hours of course.

Two days ago....a unusual event occurred aboard a couple of Chunnel trains. Because of the drastic and cold conditions outside, and a very warm condition in the middle of the Chunnel.....the trains basically stopped. They haven't fully explained this scientific reasoning....but nothing moved. In fact, all power stopped.

So imagine yourself....sitting on a train....no power, no AC (it is warm), no water other than what you brought in your little bag or what might be in the car, and no food. Adding to this misery.....the guys who run this business....don't really have a "rescue" plan for this type of episode. Remember, if these conditions stopped the regular train....any other train you send....will have the same problem.

Here are a couple of thousand folks, stranded in these trains. The majority probably thought it would be an hour or two to get rescued. So after two hours....folks are getting antsy....hungry.....and thirsty.

I was in Frankfurt once....on a subway car....deep under the city....when it stopped. It was July and while the tunnel was probably 75 degrees.....the car itself was a 90 degree situation. Around the ten minute point, you could see the aggravation on people's faces. After twenty minutes....this was becoming uncomfortable, and I started to feel thirsty. By the forty minute point.....people were calling folks on the cellphone and trying to get some attention to the stopped vehicle. Other than a brief announcement by the conductor every ten minutes of a stalled train ahead of us....nothing else. It was sixty minutes before we finally cranked up and proceeded. I stepped out at the next stop and gulped down a Coke in thirty seconds flat.

I could understand the feelings on this train.

At the two hour point.....I probably would have stood up and jammed open the doors.....and then started to walk. It wouldn't matter what direction you go....it would have been at least four hours before you got to one end or the other.

I watched the video of folks who were finally brought out of the Chunnel. They were mostly British, and furious. Some women were highly emotional and probably will never ride the Chunnel ever again. The Chunnel management was sorry, and offering to help settle everyone up.

The morale of this story? You should always carry a case or two of Pabst Blue Ribbon in the car when traveling the Chunnel.....and thirty pounds of beef jerky.....just in case something happens. And if you wanted to score with the British gals.....have a bottle or two of whiskey around to offer up to the ladies.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

The Predator Open-Feed

Someone finally came up this week...with the Air Force's Predator recon bird...and admitted in public that the data feed was totally open and could be reviewed by anyone with a copy of a $30 piece of software. The neat thing that the Army learned from captured laptops in Iraq and Afghanistan...was that the bad guys...had a copy of the software...and had been watching the same Predator feeds for several years apparently.

Now, alot of political figures are naturally upset.

It is a funny thing. I sat in our vault back in 1999/2000 timeframe and we had a simple satellite dish set up and had the data feed from the Balkins coming across a TV screen there. It was interesting to watch minute by minute video feed of some truck traveling down a mountain road. I had no idea of the significance...but whoever was the controller...did know the significance. You never got the background chat of the controller or the people working on the display target.

I stood there....looking at the fantastic imagery across the screen, and then asked the kid who set the apparatus up....how this was so clear. I expected encryption to disrupt a quarter of the image and it should have been a little bit fuzzy. The kid said...."oh, this isn't encrypted...why bother? It's all happening right now."

I sat there....no encryption box on this entire suite...just a high-end workstation. I looked at the pieces....all stuff you could buy at some satellite shop. Even the software was commercial...which you could buy.

Something wasn't right. About once a day...I'd stop by the room for ten minutes...and watch a data-feed. Eventually....a couple of the airman and I came to the conclusion that if we could buy our own Predator and fly it over Beverly Hills all day long...we could sell this data-feed online....for $50 a month....and guys would just sit there...watching this instead of football.

The Tiger

The Tiger story has become a woeful tale of sorts. Over a three week period...almost every secret has spilled out. The thirteen-odd women, the general attitude while on tour, the excessive drinking, etc, etc.

Fox News reports that Tiger is simply sitting there....at the house...in seclusion. He eats cereal and watches cartoons....while at night hitting golf balls to chill out.

The wife and kids are pretty much in 5th gear to leave. As Christmas day comes and this final moment with the kids in Florida occurs...you can pretty much see an end point to this story.

The wife intends to take him to the cleaners. Her lawyers think they can break the marriage contract and take lots of extra money.

The various contracts with NIKE and others? Well...I would suspect by early January....the majority have found a legal reason to cancel and move on.

You aren't going to see Tiger for several months....maybe even for the whole of 2010. He'll sit at the house and simply consider all of the issues. None of the thirteen-odd women are the type you'd want to settle down with or marry. For him to get involved with anyone else makes no sense because there'd just be a repeat somewhere else down the road.

Maybe it's time to take the yacht out and just live off the remaining $100 million that he will have....and just live around the Caribbean for a couple of years.

The Marginal Speech

The British paper...The Guardian....who I generally respect as a top-ten newspaper in the world...is regarded as a tad to the left. They don't make it obvious and they often spell out an entire story....rather than the act that you see in most American papers with just one side of a story.

From yesterday...the Copenhagen climate conference...they pretty much spelled out an enormous issue with President Obama's attendance and speech. Frankly, it was not a 5-star moment that some had wished for.

He was there for a speech and little else. His recommendation? "act boldly and decisively". That was pretty much it.

Maybe if this had been delivered at the very beginning...it might have been more valuable....but here at the end....with so many tired attendees and so many upset folks....it was barely worth listening to.

In essence....he offered up no additional commitments on reducing emissions or additional cash for poor countries. Hillary's $100 billion deal....from a couple of days ago was the final bit that could be put on the table. Even that.....if you really examine the wording....it's over nine years....so it's barely $800 million yearly that the US would have to contribute to....from amongst the rich countries.

Most of the hard-line environmental players had pretty negative chat over the President's words and actions. They had expected alot.

Even the grade for the speech....was less than you would have expected. President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela even went on to describe the speech as "ridiculous". It's bad when far left-wing political figures even give you such low marks.

So was the trip worth making? I don't think any major points for the president were lost....but there are absolutely zero gains. The interesting thing is that some folks are now stuck without George Bush to blame....which they haven't had this opportunity for eight years. It's a funny feeling for them and likely to be painful.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Man of the Year?

Time magazine....picking Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke as man of the year?

Frankly, I sat there for five minutes...thinking...the only way he gets it...is that the entire slate of forty guys in front of him...is really that weak and pitiful.

My pick? President Obama. Yep, there's nothing wrong with him getting nine out of nine years (including the election year). I suspect the Time guys wrote some kinda rule where you can't win it two years in a row...just to give the Time crew something to do each year.

Just An Observation Over Copenhagen

Its basically concluded now....a marginal success of sorts (there might be a treaty....but it's just enough to go home and wipe your butt over). But the boys can't declare it a failure.

Around twelve days ago....this started, and around last Thursday....I started to notice a trend...almost daily.

When you take a bunch of guys and gals...off to some resort deal or open hotel bar deal...about the fifth day of this talk-all-day and drink-all-night operation....you start to notice unhappy and upset folks. They tend to start arguing over petty things. I spent twenty years in the Air Force....and always noticed this trend on long exercises or trips.

So there on last Thursday...was this video play....with a bunch of guys rubbing their eyes....people drinking lots of coffee at 4PM....people yawning at noon...argument after argument in hallways and restaurants....and this terrible exhausted look on half the folks there.

That was Thursday of last week...so they continued on....arguing and talking all weekend....and then through this week. Frankly, most of these people look like a wreck, and are exhausted. Tomorrow...the boys check out, and fly home. Some have eighteen hours of travel ahead of them....and won't rest until Monday.

So should you have expected anything other than a marginal success? That would be a curious thing to consider.

Based on a couple of comments....I would suspect that five percent of the attendees will never attend another conference....ever. Some people may require some mental counseling before they can attend another climate conference. And there are a few folks who might just give up on climate change entirely....and just hook up with NASCAR and Dancing with the Stars.

The Score

There was an amusing story of sorts today......concerning Oregon's Representative Peter DeFazio, (a Democrat, for those who might wonder). Peter is a Democrat although he's got several areas where he's fairly conservitive. His district doesn't have an enormous Democratic vote....but he tends to slide by (for twenty years now).

Peter has been a thorn in the side of the Obama Administration....maybe since day one. He finally got called up to the White House in the past week....and the President wanted to make something clear to him....saying: “Don’t think we’re not keeping score, brother."

It was an odd statement.

To be kinda honest here....there are lots of people now keeping score. It would appear....just from a distance....that one team is losing more than another team. If I was the President....I wouldn't worry so much about "keeping" score...as much as "making" score.

Not The Greatest of Days

My son had a girl in his class during the first four years of school here in the village......who died yesterday.

It's been eight years since he had seen her.

It was a car accident of sorts......she was driving in the early morning hours.....at least fifteen miles over the speed limit....making a curve in the dark.....and came across the middle stripe to have a truck hit her. She had the misfortune to be in a smaller and lighter vehicle....and died there apparently.

In the weeks to come, my son is supposed to finally wrap up his license....maybe. He intends to test again (the first test was a failure)......and I have serious doubts on his study habits. I have offered up my Audi A4.....which I went to the extent of covering car insurance and giving him $100 a month (remember, its $8.50 a gallon off-base)......if he would accept the A4.

He wasn't happy with it....and wanted a smaller vehicle offered. I have deep reservations about small cars....after driving the Smart for two years. The A4 has steel and airbags.....and can take a pretty good impact.

The thing about these smaller cars.....is the great gas mileage and the cheaper operating costs. Everyone gets all into this cost savings. Frankly, I tend to start measuring inch by inch the amount of steel on a car and the number of airbags. There is this point where you really don't want to count gas savings and compare against your life.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Experts!

Really, An Expert?

Back in my youth….at Rhein Main Air Base….we had a term which got to be regularly used….”barracks lawyers”. There were always a weekly tirade with the commander and his use of legal powers. Up until the mid-70s, the quality of enlisted guys always weighed more on folks naive nature and limited in knowledge. At some point….folks began to appear, who were a bit smarter than the Air Force leadership imagined.

As months went by…in the barracks….these “barracks lawyers” began to dispense legal advice. As the months went by….their expertise grew and they actually became smarter than the idiot public defenders that the Air Force hired as legal help for enlisted. The commander and his staff always harped on the “barracks lawyers” and their misguided efforts. At some point in the early 1980s….I came to realize that they were gaining in expertise and getting folks smarter day by day.

A couple of years ago….I began to note on CNN international….that their so-called “experts” were starting to say things that weren’t entirely true.

I’m not a rocket scientist. I don’t hold a degree in environmental science. I never attended any classes on Wall Street banking. I didn’t ever sit in a class on airline safety.

Lately, I’ve been noticing....week after week on CNN....news from experts over global warming and climate control. Out of every ten things they announce or cite....I realize that two of these are totally false or misleading. I’m not the expert on TV, but I know enough. The curious thing though....I keep wondering about the other eight items they spoke about and just how true those things might or might not be.

As for financial news analysts? I find the same problem. They jump up and get all peppy about certain stock, but then you go and review actual reports and details....to find some of the information given....was misleading.

Sports analysis? For every two bits of information given by some expert....one statement is either false, misleading or simply misunderstood.

Larry King? It’s gotten to a point where the show is strictly a public relations show for any idiot with a problem. They advertise their situation or problem....and then you start to ask really stupid questions to yourself....which Larry never seems to ask.

NPR? Their chief source of enjoyment....is figuring out how to tell half a story...and leave you hanging over the missing parts.

The bottom line? We are quietly getting smarter and realizing the lack of content in news. We actually are asking ourselves a question or two....grasping how weak an article is or how poor an interview is being performed. The sad thing....some journalists are going to be proclaimed something less than a journalists....and may have to find a job with Woolworths or Piggly Wiggly.

Copenhagen (The End?)

So why is the Copenhagen climate deal falling apart? If you watch CNN....they will do their best just to say issues could not be resolved but never go into any detail.
So allow me to lay out the one and only issue.

As the climate dudes blasted out to the media the terrible consequences of global warming...and the media went to the four corners of the earth....they came to ultra poor countries and island republics.....with the dire future comments. And then they mentioned that free money was going to come to them....via this entire global warming agreement with the ultra rich countries.

Call it climate welfare or whatever....it doesn’t matter....it was welfare for being poor.

So there were great expectations of hundreds of billions to be split amongst dozens of ultra poor countries.

But here we are in a dire economic period....and the dimwits running all of these peppy rich countries who did all the talking for the past five years about a new treaty and all this free money for poor countries.....now cannot find this revenue to make the hundreds of billions happen.

Even the US is in this dire mess where free money can’t be gained from the public for this welfare scheme. You can’t even drag Bush’s name out into this discussion anymore.

So the ultra rich countries kinda agreed weeks and weeks ago that the 5-star offering simply wouldn’t work....and they built this conference in such a way....to ensure that some money still got offered but it didn’t even meet the half-way point of what poor countries were expecting.

So there is a total negative feeling by all of these poor countries over this welfare deal. It’s not fair....they are dying....their islands are going to disappear....and life will be miserable for them. They believed the stories and the media....and have yet to ever ask any stupid questions.

Now....if they really wanted to make this interesting....tell the climate conference that you really aren’t interested in any more money...you just want a free ticket and free citizenship....to rich countries within twenty-five years. This would naturally fix the terrible woes of these poor countries and allow them to escape the terrible water as it rises across their islands and lands. The climate guys will probably freak out over such a suggestion because it defeats the whole welfare system they are devising.

So as the CNN guys sit there for an entire hour....chatting over nothing and never explaining why the conference failed (because they can’t blame it on Bush anymore).....this is the real bottom line. Welfare is welfare....up until it’s not enough welfare.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

As the Fog Clears

This is a woeful tale of reality....where you would have predicted one thing, and another would have occurred.

GS worker conversion is underway at Ramstein. Around 110 contractor billets will eventually switch over to GS. In the beginning, the military bosses were all peppy and happy over this. It would save money, and the "poor" contractors would be brought in the front door.....to take over their present jobs.....as GS employees.

So the first wave of the jobs have been advertised (only a small group....maybe a dozen)......and barely half of the present contractor group.....got tossed into the second group of potentially qualified folks, who might get a invitation for an interview. The rest? They were either non-qualified or failed to make the "grade".

A number of the contractors had never messed around with USAJOBs or their resume process. Some of the guys likely missed the DD214 requirement, if you had military time (you have to have a copy with your job application). The same issue pops up with guys who might have forgotten to include a copy of their college transcript.

The amusing thing now.....is that a bunch of guys are looking forward and pumping out resumes left and right......to leave. The replacement GS employees? Well.....if the organization was lucky...maybe by April.....these replacements might arrive. Who runs things while folks vacate? That would be a curious part of this story.

Back in January, as I knew my position was going....I asked myself a dozen questions. None of them had a clear answer. Everything was muddled up and questionable. The genius of this GS conversion? It becomes less and less genius as each month goes by.

Stupid Management

The most stupid management event I ever saw at my current job?

Our directorate boss….came up with a small group of Lt Col’s….and decided on a reorganization….without any thoughts from the rest of the entire division. Then the boss announces this reorg. Four weeks later….we are to start this mess.

So here was the systems division. The top layer of five officers were peeled off and moved upstairs to another office. Then a dozen officers and NCOs were directed to move from upstairs down to our vault.

They decided to bring all their furniture….rather than buy new stuff and have it installed by professionals. So an entire week was wasted on this move. Self-help was a disaster.

Me, a junior Captain and another NCO were ordered to stay…because we knew the systems processes and how things worked. This was supposed to help integrate things into this reorg.

Almost immediately, we got the feeling that the new Lt Col over our work area….had no concept of what systems support meant. Six weeks later….I had the superintendent walk up and announce that both me and the other NCO were to be moved to a non-systems position. I sat there….scratching my head. The Captain was gone in six months….so it made sense to keep both NCOs in the shop through the next year. The entire comprehension over intelligence systems requirements were to disappear.

Day by day….the boss got less and less agreeable to this systems support idea.
Customers were complaining….our division chief couldn’t understand why there were concerned because his main idea of the mission was customers at other bases….not within the directorate itself.

So sixty days into this mess….the Directorate Colonel went off to a meeting back in the states. There, he was informed of this massive Air Force reorg coming in six months….which would re-reorg his entire mess currently. Then the boys at the meeting were shocked that he had done something without consulting them.

So we did something that no Air Force had ever done before….ten weeks after a reorg….we UN-org’ed. Yes, we were directed to move everyone back to where they were before.

I sat there….mostly laughing…for an entire afternoon. I was supposed to be moved to an entirely different shop…so that stopped. My boss, the Captain….was all smiles. The dozen guys who moved down? They were very upset because all of the furniture had to be disconnected and moved back to the fourth floor. After a week….everything went back to the same ‘look’ as it was four months before.

Over 1,000 man-hours were wasted on this effort.

The Zenith Theory


About once a month, my brother (the engineer),will put down the oscillator and the $50 Radio Shack voltage checker, and hand out an analysis.

Today was the Zenith Theory.

It concerns the President. Basically.....Obama, by this theory....is doing the opposite of what he said he'd do running for president.....as well as the opposite of what at least 3/4 of his supporters wanted, and the opposite of what the nobel folks thought they bought via the prize.

The president in this scenario has taken up the Zenith repair philosophy.....he's learned what the issues are.....acting like the old repair guy who would come out....and gone to work on your old zenith tv. He'll pull a part or two out....put some old parts in that he's got left in the shop....turn a knob or two.....then, its fixed.

As you gaze at your Zenith repairman.....and he asks $75....you start to think "dang, i could have done all that. The thing is that it was never more than $75, and the parts always appeared to be the same.

So this Zenith theory works in Afghanistan, Iraq, Mexico, banking, car company issues, wall street, universal health care, etc, etc.

It's an interesting theory that he's conceived....taking brief moments away from technical analysis of an electronic nature.

If you remember from the beginning of the administration....here was special committee after special committee. Countless experts who were supposed to be part of this giant "fix-it" machine. Frankly, it was just a farce....to make you think that 300 people were in on this massive repair of the US government. The honest truth.....there's probably a 13-page Zenith repair book that the President bought at some flea market in 1973 and he's using this as his practical fix-it guide for America.

I stopped here and pondered this....and then kinda wondered if my brother had also bought a 1973 Zenith 13-page repair book. This Zenith club could be like the Free Masons.....just more dangerous.

An Arnold Moment

The one of a kind governor....Arnold Schwarzenegger....desperate for state revenue for the state....wound up in Copenhagen at the climate talks. Basically, he got up and urged everyone to have another UN climate summit....just for cities....and naturally, he offered to have it in California.

His quote? "The world's national governments cannot make the progress that is needed on global climate change alone."

Palin came quickly up and harped on the mess that the Governor was making in California on the climate topic. Arnold did his best to defend himself....but in the end...she was right....California isn't bringing any new business to the state, and state revenue is flat.

If you had to start a new business tomorrow...you'd likely come to Bama, Georgia, or Mississippi. These are the states with revenue pots that have energy to grow.

Arnold is desperate to get a conference....to drag a bunch of dimwits out to LA and pump up the local economy....because no one else is coming out.

Copenhagen

Over at the Copenhagen climate conference this morning.....some dude walked in and was dressed up as a polar bear, with a sign on his chest: "Where is Phil Jones?"

Phil, for those curious.....is the British researcher on leave from the big university there in England. While investigators sort through the climategate mess....Phil is sitting around and doing nothing. This includes the lack of Phil over at Copenhagen.

Naturally, the polar bear had a megaphone and wanted to know "where Phil was."

This lasted a few minutes and probably got some folks to laughing. Phil would have been there in the middle of this mess.....but presently, Phil is getting way too much attention and probably worrying about what else might come out.

After the polar bear did his dance.....the chief person of the conference....quit......with the Prime Minister of Denmark taking up the position now. This was mostly because NOTHING is really coming to a real conclusion now. The boys are worried.

The British press reports that another meeting....for the summer of 2010....in Mexico City.....might be the place to really accomplish another Kyoto-like treaty. Presently, things appear pretty screwed up.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Gitmo Parody

After deep discussions over the topic of Gitmo being moved.....the Mayor of Thomson, Illinois, Governor Pat Quinn, and President Obama met to discuss the final requirement.

The key part of this final deal....renaming Thomson to “Gitmo”. For the mayor, it was a bitter pill to swallow. The CIA folks quickly pointed out that it simply made sense.....Gitmo was Gitmo, and the prisoners were all part of this renaming effort.

For the town to get the millions in aide....they had to go along with the renaming effort. The Governor was enthusiastic about this effort....more cash for Thomson....meant more cash and taxes for Illinois.

The Mayor keyed in on the biggest part of this....the new signs for the city along the entrance of the town....but the President quickly piped up that he had a stimulus package for that....and had a 32-man unit “shovel-ready” crew that’s prepared to manufacture 32,000 signs over a two-year period. The Mayor was a bit worried about the massive number of signs, but the President assured him that half of these were for the Gitmo gift shop out at the entrance of town.

The conversation then turned to the jobs created by this arrangement. The Mayor was peppy and determined to get a real number. He mentioned 300 jobs. The Governor was more peppy about this topic, and casually figured the number to be closer to 900. The President just grinned and said the final tally would amount to 6,000 jobs created in this endeavor.

The Mayor scratched his head and tried to figure out where the heck the 6,000 number came from but the President reassured him....don’t worry....these are statistical numbers, and don’t really matter except for the press.

Then finally, the question came around to security. The President then mentioned that a work-release type program might be necessary as each resident of the jail was stamped “innocent”. The mayor got a bit jumpy at this hint, but the President assured him....there was already a program “shovel-ready” for the released prisoners, and that they’d be given local residency and a $100k home as part of the apology from the government. The mayor felt happy about this because none of these guys would be left homeless then.

As for the town of Gitmo, Illinois.....it soon became legendary....and a Triple-A baseball team eventually moved there....with the team referred to as the “Gitmo Pleasures” and sponsored by an erotic oil company.

A "Oz" Moment

Someone requested of me an item or two to bring back from Germany….to the states. Once I realized the item….I responded….”can’t you get that at Woolworths?”

That comment had a crispy and cynical response back….asking how long I’ve been gone from the US?

I then realized that in these fifteen years of living in Germany….there are more than just a couple of things that have changed. Some businesses…like Circuit City…have come and gone.

There on the streets of Arlington….I’ll likely be standing…..confused, dazed, and gazing off into the distance.

I can see that I’m going to have issues. It may take six months for me to realize this isn’t Kansas anymore and Oz might have been better in the end.

The Bush Emails

At some point in the Bush administration….they decided that all these emails that were going back and forth out of the White House….weren’t real documents, and thus….shouldn’t be kept in the archives group. So they deleted them.

Naturally, a bunch of folks were upset, because there were all kinds of gems of “intelligence” that they could get their hands on.

The curious thing is that most folks don’t write in an official capacity when responding to something in email format. A guy might easily say: “Joe, this is crappy and an only a dimwit would be happy with this”.

So now, thanks to a couple of smart guys who knew how to undelete things....twenty-two million of these emails have been brought back to life.

For the next year or two....dozens of people without real lives or real jobs....will pour over these documents and announce proudly that Bush used the phrase “dumbass” forty-eight times....twelve of these involving some Democratic senator. Then they will proudly announce that 480 of these emails revolve around the choice of food for some state dinner that was held in honor of the President of Nigeria.

The curious thing is that email just appeared in the past fifteen years. Richard Nixon....never had a single email. Truman, Roosevelt, and Wilson....never a single email. So now, we will privy to an enormous collection of meaningless nothing.

Imagine if the White House staff started an official Twitter site....and we could get our hands on these worthless pieces of Twitter?

Finally....when you sit down and figure there are only 90-odd folks working in the White House....and that over 8 years, you’d be talking about 240,000-odd emails on average from each position....then you’d start to wonder....just what the heck were they sending 240k emails out on and then you start to ask if that’s going to be more, or less than the Obama team.

So now a word of advice for folks with email “pst’s” where they storage hundreds, if not thousands of emails. If you were to delete the pst....it still resides somewhere on the disk and could be brought back with a little bit of effort. The longer that you wait....the more issues that exist. If you want to ensure nothing gets brought back.....open the pst with anything....even word....and delete the interior contents......till fill with X’s....save....then delete. When the guy finally does undelete this and finally bring back the file....it’s loaded with X’s, and nothing else.

Just a Silly Statue in Indonesia

Normally, a story like this....I wouldn’t really say much about. Some folks over in Jakarta, Indonesia....put up a statue of a young President Barack Obama....as a school kid....when he was there for four years. A number of folks have come up and as members of the Indonesian society....they now say they feel insulted by the statue.

The complaint generally lies around the idea that he wasn’t really an Indonesian....and he’s not a national hero of Indonesia.

The pro side of this....tends to say that this example is supposed to inspire local kids to follow their dreams.

I don’t have much negative or positive to say about this....at least up until the discussion turned toward the cost and who paid into this statue. Somewhere....in the midst of these ten organizations responsible....was a disaster relief charity.

I paused at this point....and wondered what exactly fits from a disaster relief group. There are thousands still suffering in the country....and these guys pulled out hundreds....if not a $1000.....to pay for some statue? That part doesn’t make sense.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

A Wussy Danish Protester Story

Down in Bama, typically before you go on a hunting episode in December, you start to think about the mess you are getting into.

First, there's the 30-degree temperature usually. It's wet....raining....maybe even snowing. You have to dress for what is going to occur over the next twelve hours.

Then you have the food episode. You probably won't be near any place to eat....so you bring along some Army MRE dinners, some candy bars, or a box of poptarts. You put a beer or two into truck to sip as things kinda slow down. And you might even have a bag of beef jerky.

Then you go to the issue of toilet paper. You have to go in some might bad places....and just do your business....as best as you can.

The truth is s that a Bama guy prepares for the mess he's about to get into.

So this week....especially on Saturday.....the climate conference in Copenhagen kept itself in fifth gear....roaring down the street. Typically....protesters come out of the woodwork....and try to turn a quiet conference into a big huge protest of sorts.

Up until six to eight years ago....cops just came out and did a two-star job of managing a mess like this. The protesters always came out ahead and caused a big mess. But at some point....the Brits sat down and started to study how protests run and how you can "manage" a mess like this.

This weekend.....the protesters in Copenhagen are furious. The Danish cops....managed the mess quiet well on Saturday. There were 968 folks arrested....quietly, and without a terrible amount of effort.

In fact, the cops got smart....and some folks are upset that protesters were held for hours....in freezing conditions....without medical attention, water, toilets, or food.

It would appear that the cops went into a slow routine on releasing the prisoners....because they knew they'd move to come back to being part of the climate protest.

The sad truth is that bunch of Bama hunters are better prepared for freezing December action for twelve hours....than a bunch of wussy protesters in Denmark. The Bama guy would have toilet paper in his suit.....beef jerky.....a can or two of beer in his backpack....and a pack of smokes to keep him going for twelve hours. These protesters might want to take some time off and hang out with some Bama guys......to get smart on survival tactics.

On the Winds of Gitmo

Based on commentary of some Department of Justice letter leaked to the press....it appears absolutely certain now that the Gitmo folks are going to Illinois.

The letter didn't lay out alot....just an initial announcement of sorts. My guess is that someone would have said something around the 22nd of December....to avoid real media coverage during the Christmas period. It's a great time to announce negative news.

For the crowd sitting at Gitmo presently....I suspect that they are going to be highly negative over this change to Illinois. You can plus-up visits by lawyers and civil rights players....but basically....you end up in a Illinois prison. Given a choice....I just might prefer Gitmo in Cuba....than any prison in Illinois.

What I'm waiting for....is Comedy Central to pick up the whole Gitmo episode....and play it like Hogan's Heroes. The incompetent American commander is played by some Col Klink-character. The chief of the guards....Sargent Shultz. Add in the background of an Illinois prison....and I think this would be a five-star show.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Vast Undiscovered Data?

There is a small story...barely reported by Fox...and almost zero reporting by any other media outlet...over the UN this week. Basically...the UN would like to have $60 billion over the next five years...to get more climate data.

The guys at the UN climate pit....would like to find vast undiscovered climate information...from the land, air and seas.

Naturally....as they collect all this data via their network...it'd all feed back to the UN climate pit itself. There, and only there...could this be truly interpreted.

I sat and pondered this. There are billions upon billions currently laid out by the top twelve industrial countries today...to basically climate climate data. In fact...some collect the data...but it has nothing to do with global warming or climate control...it's just plain weather data that they need anyway.

So I went into a pondering mind....$60 billion...to find undiscovered bits of climate data? Perhaps in Red Bay, Bama? Or down in Bourbon Street of New Orleans? Or over at the Kansas City Royals baseball stadium? And then what? Does this $60 billion worth of new data fit with the rest of the data already collected by the current data collection guys? What if it disagrees?

The neat thing about $60 billion more...is that you'd have to have thousands upon thousands of new Earth Science folks....environmentalists...hired and working for your UN operation. At the end of five years....they sure wouldn't want their great job to disappear....so a minimum of $60 billion would be required for another five years (probably $70 billion because the guys would like a pay raise and new furniture by then).

How much of the $60 billion would be for conferences in Paris, Rio, or London? How much would be allocated for first-class air travel of the guys involved? We might be curious about things like this.

The curious thing is that most of these countries are already paying into one bucket for a bunch of Earth Sciences folks right now. Why pay more? This is like having two Wal-Marts in your town....it just doesn't make sense.

Then we come back to this vast undiscovered data...sitting there...waiting to be discovered. Some idiot at the NFL might look at this and suddenly realize that he has barely scratched the surface on NFL data collection...there might actually be more out there....that could be tapped into and discussed to the ninth degree. What about the number of hours that quarterback sleeps during the week? What about the number of hours in a normal week that a quarterback is sitting on the toilet? What about the size of shoes for the whole offensive line? How much toilet paper does the typical linebacker use during a week?

At some point, you wake up from this dream and realize how stupid things have become. You really wish that common sense would prevail.