Sunday, 30 August 2009

On the Appalachian Trail, Sort Of

For about two months now...South Carolina has been in the midst of a soap opera of sorts. When someone woke up in June and noticed the governor gone...they asked where...and the answer was a walk on the Appalachian Trail. It took around 36 hours for folks then to realize that that was a bogus answer. Then came the real answer...he was visiting a mistress down in Argentina.

The majority of folks down in South Carolina have come to laugh over the whole event....the governor...and the continued fight he puts up. He's become this comic character...defining a passionate love one minute....explaining why he did things the way he did....and then getting into secondary trouble over other accusations. Most governors would have resigned by now....but Governor Mark Sanford stands tall and refuses to give up.

Yesterday....his associates....Republican all upset at a meeting. They really would like for the guy to just leave...but he won't. The Democrats love every moment of this. It gives them lots of stuff to use in the next election.

Right now...the state legislature has to wait until a state ethics commission finishes its investigation. This will end up being in January of 2010.

The general feeling is that they will have evidence in hand at that point...and either prosecute or impeach the guy.

I've sat and watched this episode from day one. I have to's one of the best soap operas in a dozen years. Sanford looks more like a dimwit than some intelligent political figure. Most every governor in the US has some liaison...but it tends to be some local gal from the state he lives in...or from NY City. Going all the way to Argentina for a girlfriend...just ain't got any brilliance to it at all.

The interesting thing is that his political career is now pretty much finished. He can't salvage a thing out of this. The best he can hope to marry up his girlfriend in Argentina and then move there to become a political figure.

The amusing thing is that he was actually labeled VP material for the 2012 election. Can you imagine this moment....hours after being selected....and this Argentine girlfriend stuff comes out? And he wouldn't step down from the VP nominee position? So we are fortunate in one way....this all happened now....and not in the summer of 2012.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Kennedy and Five Seconds of Analysis

Something you didn't really notice...the news folks didn't chat about....and the talky-talk pretender journalists didn't mention.

Ted Kennedy died this week and you've heard just about every single Democrat share their moment of "love" about Ted....except the Clintons or anyone close to the Clintons. Did you wonder why?

There is this dramatic moment in the early part of primary season of 2008....where Hillary and Obama were neck and neck. Hillary had the chance to move ahead. Then, here out of the blue came Senator Ted and his endorsement of Obama. The Hillary campaign effort got tossed from fourth gear to third the matter of one hour. It was a dramatic point.

What came from this mighty endorsement? It is an amusing thing to watch summer 2008 come and the Obama camp needed a team to pick the VP. Caroline Kennedy was amongst the three members of the team. Episodes came to develop around the two other members and they both had to step out of the situation. So Caroline became the one and only member of the VP selection team and had chats with Obama over the selection process.

It's curious how she came to be in this process. She wasn't a political player and she didn't have known skills in this process. Did Ted help in making this possible...with his "nod"?

As time eased by....then came the picking of Hillary for Secretary of State...and her stepping out of the senate seat for NY. It appears that the governor and the his close advisors didn't consider her advice over selection of the replacement.....and Caroline again became the "solution". Senator Ted's involvement?

The suggestion that Caroline would be given the senate seat and then help to fill VP Biden's position in 2012? This rumor came out and went around for several weeks. Then came the falling out over Caroline's lack of experience and 1-star speech ability. Caroline's golden ticket came and went.

So as you sit there now....and no comments come from a number of key Clinton players.....and you wonder might want to ponder what Ted was planning in the spring of 2008 and his "deal" with the President.

And if Ted had never endorsed Obama? What if he had picked Hillary? That's a "what-if" situation and we could discuss that for hours....over some fine brandy and excellent cigars.

The Girl

In recent years...a number of folks have come out of the sail solo around the world. It's become a fantasy for thousands.

Sailing is one of those things that attract certain people. It's not a easy skill to pick up. There are constant variables involved in every hour of sailing. The wind is always a focus. The storms approaching are always a worry. The next port to hit for restocking your supplies is always in your mind. There is nothing simple about this....especially if you intend to travel alone.

In recent days...out of the Netherlands....some 13-year old girl has climbed out of the pit and announced that she intends to sail around the world.....solo.

Naturally, most folks are now asking serious questions about this. It's just not that simple. And apparently relying upon her parents to control her or talk sense into her....isn't going to be possible. So the Dutch court is now involved. Their reaction: "undeniably daring and risky." But they haven't said absolutely no yet.

At present, the Dutch court system has now ordered the local authorities to take temporary guardianship of Laura Dekker. The court isn't going to rely upon the parents any longer.

The goal was simple for Laura....sail a 26-fooot yacht named Guppy around the world.....solo.

Part of this court effort now centers on a child psychologist who is supposed to examine Laura and determine just how capable she is to the idea of 24 months on the ocean....alone. The psychologist is also suppose to make her aware of the risks involved.

Approximately a month from now....the court will decide on this case...whether to deny her or to let her go.

The father involved....apparently has tried to talk to over the issue and originally suggested waiting....later shifting to making the trip as safe as possible because she was refusing to accept his suggestions.

I sat and pondered over this question of maturity and the idea of letting some thirteen year old kid do something like this.

I could understand letting the kid make a France to England journey alone....barely a day required for that. I could understand a Denmark to Spain sail....along the coast....for seven days. I could understand a England to Egypt sail...taking perhaps up to a month. But a journey for two years? No.

I'd probably stand in the corner and tell her that some important things in life exist that she has simply not learned yet. I would toss out the idea of making a decision at 13 and making a decision at 18....where there is this mountain of difference. I would probably even mention the dozens of scenarios which she has never met in life....and may be shocked at the introduction of them into her life.

My guess is that the court will eventually convince her to stall or wait until 16....and then allow her to make the run. If they don't....why stop at thirteen years old? Why not allow an eleven year-old kid to make a solo tour? Why not let twelve year-old kids get a license and drive a car? Why not allow ten year-old kids purchase weapons? At some point, you have to view reality and come to rational decisions...but not at thirteen.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Air Force and Fitness Nazis

About three years ago....I started to hear this expression around guys on base. This was when the Air Force stepped toward a very aggressive fitness program. Now, I probably hear this word usage about three times a month. Around twenty percent of the guys I know....have a daily or weekly whine about this fitness stuff now.

They’ve played the game, and it simply continues on....with no end. I think most have reached this peak that they always dreamed about but never achieved.

Who is the fitness Nazi? Typically, it’s a unit guy who has become a dedicated fitness guru and runs the squadron program. They have special exercises that they advocate and are always watching how you do things. They take this fitness business to the absolute extreme. It’s not about just a simple’s about an entire life change.

I had one NCO in the office who was at the gym....and some fitness Nazi suddenly jumped into his routine. The use of the machine....the method that the NCO was using....all wrong. The thing was....this was all a method that our guy had been practicing for four years. So the fitness Nazi stood there for five minutes....commenting and trying to impress on our guy....with THE method. Our guy played along but he really didn’t care for this expert advice.

I left the Air Force about five years before the grand introduction of the fitness program. For me, it was simply a routine. I would go through a nine-month period....twice a week running a mile or two. Once a week, I’d show up and lift weights for 20 minutes and then ride the bike for 20 minutes. I always took off at Thanksgiving and for 90 days....did absolutely nothing.

My prospective was that you couldn’t keep a 365-day routine going. You eventually got tired. It’s that way with the NBA crowd, the baseball crowd, and the NFL guys.

Today? The Air Force has mandated a 365-day routine and testing to emphasize that idea.

How long will it last? I’m betting three years max. When guys show up with knee and hip issues.....and then they start to waiver twenty percent of an entire unit...there will be questions. Eventually, they will agree that you have to lessen the requirements, to make a 365-day plan work.

A Green Story

The Times of London came up with an interesting story this week:

Giant fly-swat shaped “synthetic trees” line the road into the office, where blooms of algae grow in tubes up the walls and the roof reflects heat back into the sky — all reducing the effects of global warming.

All this could be a familiar sight within the next two decades, under proposals devised by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers to alter the world’s climate with new technology.

A day after John Prescott, the former Deputy Prime Minister and Environment Secretary, warned that negotiations for a global deal to cut carbon emissions were in danger of collapsing, the institution is recommending a series of technical fixes to “buy time” to avert dangerous levels of climate change.

It says that the most promising solution is offered by artificial trees, devices that collect CO2 through their “leaves” and convert it to a form that can easily be collected and stored. Tim Fox, head of environment and climate change at the institution, said that the devices were thousands of times more effective at removing carbon from the atmosphere than real trees.

I sat and read over the concept. It’s a funny thing….I came to grasp this idea back around 2002 and kept pondering why you would not do this. I was corrected one day….by an environmentalist....on this idea. It violates the Kyoto Treaty.

Yes, apparently the guys who wrote the Kyoto Treaty….established that synthetic trees were to be illegal in terms of “counting” off your sins of global warming. I laughed at this and looked it up. Yes, they actually wrote that inventing trees that would make the situation better….was not to be a goal of any signee. They had a golden path…where you had to use less….to make Kyoto work.

So here we are…..and some British geeks have this really great concept. I’m thinking it might be the answer….unless the smart environmentalists go out and recite the Kyoto Treaty.


The AP now reports that the CIA tested sleep deprivation limits. Apparently, CIA operatives used severe sleep tactics against a detainee in 2007....keeping him awake for six days straight days with permission from government lawyers.

I sat and read through the whole article. Apparently, a number of folks are now upset by this and really want to punish the guys involved and name the government lawyers in court....expecting this to readily fix whatever was “wrong”.

I pondered this event.

In my youth....out of the Rhein Main days....I probably had two or three weekends where I went 36 hours straight without sleep. It didn’t involve any interrogation dudes or government lawyers....although booze or Fleetwood Mac music might have been involved to some degree. What I learned from this period was that at the 36 hour period....if you had given me a test of a dozen math problems.....I would have been lucky to complete three of the problems.

In the 1990s, I ended up in a deployment situation where over a fifteen day period, I averaged four hours of sleep a day. I could see mental and emotional problems if I had continued that trend for another fifteen days.

What’s amusing by this AP that they wanted to let you know that the State Department regularly lists sleep deprivation as a form of torture. Then the AP lets you know that Iran, Syria and Indonesia regularly engage in this type of torture.

Here’s the real bottom line to this whole thing....sleep deprivation....beyond 48 hours....produces hallucinations and makes people willing to accept any argument...any suggestion....any comment. If you asked a guy if he could build a nuke in his basement....the guy will say sure (whether true or false). So in the end...whatever knowledge or data you mostly bogus.

You can sleep well you realize the CIA....along with Iran and Syria....are all collecting bogus data off their sleep deprived torture victims. They proudly report this up various channels as official information....and will continue to do this.

In the end....some Senate group will pass a law which forbids this method in the US.....and folks will argue that we are hurting the gathering of REAL intelligence (whether true or false data....they don’t care).

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Smoke This!

Abd al Rahim a man of evil.

Yes, Nashiri is absolute evil.

Hes the guy who dreamed up the attack on 12 October 2000 on the USS Cole....where 17 American sailors died.

Nashiri was eventually captured.

Nashiri was eventually interrogated.

Nashiri eventually became part of the Attorney General's investigation of the CIA and its harsh interrogation methods.

In the midst of this interrogation of our friend Nashiri...the CIA inspector general folks discovered a terrible thing.....CIA officers blew smoke in Nashiri's face. In fact, they even used....cigars.

The IG report go through these episodes of smoke-blowing as one of several "unauthorized or undocumented techniques".

In fact, they discovered several such episodes....against high-level al-Qaida members.

I sat here....thinking over this. All those 12-hour trips in the family car with my dad....when he'd smoke two or three cigars....with the windows closed and the AC sucking air in and reusing it. Where was the CIA inspector general then? Why couldn't I get Attorney General help on this kind of stuff?

What about the air flights back and forth across the Atlantic....where folks smoked an entire pack of smokes in one flight and I just sat there?

What about those Italian restaurants I sat in....where the customers smoked those lousy stinky Italian smokes?

And now....this becomes part of the dump on the CIA? Is this right?

Frankly, at this point.....I start to laugh. For every American captured since 1945....they would have begged to have someone smoke in their face rather than physically beat them like they were. And the Attorney General's best efforts involve a report like this?

Grading Reporters

The Pentagon apparently went out....contrary to the comments spoken....and rated the work of reporters covering the military in “positive, “neutral” or “negative”. Yes, shocking isn’t it?

Various news sources are shocked by this. Some reporters are furious.

The Pentagon came to view stories, and then graded them.....yes, absolutely shocking.

Well....let me introduce to a little secret. They’ve been grading them for decades. Every story was evaluated and seen in a positive, neutral or negative light. They’ve passed around the stories to read, and even commented what grade they gave them.

Whats funny that they could have removed the grade....and 99 percent of the military folks would have graded them on their own....with a 99 percent accuracy level....with the same words of “positive”, “neutral” or “negative”. Shocking, isn’t it?

So you want a bit more of shock? The reporters who constantly write “positive” or “negative” stories....usually a trend in one direction with one guy, and another direction with another guy.....have an agenda. Yes, an agenda.

So then you are left with these guys who write....neutral stories. They tell the facts and let you decide where the truth lies. These are the dangerous folks. They actually want you to read everything and decide for yourself. In a modern world like this....can you trust such a reporter?

So tonight, sitting in some bar or pub....there’s some reporter sitting there....reading over this and grasping that of the 400 stories that he’s filed since 2005....almost all of them were viewed as “negative” by the military. He’s probably pouring doubles and grinning ear to ear. Tomorrow....he sits down and starts writing the next negative story. Life keeps running and he keeps writing...his way.

Air Force Artsy Stuff

As some of you know....I work around the AF headquarters building on Ramstein. From time to time, the appearance of the entryway changes. This week....they bought some swanky new leather chairs and couches, and then they put up new art work.

It was the art work yesterday that caught my eye. It’s “different”. Typically, you’ve got those $2k pictures up there...fancy planes and aircraft. Yesterday was different. So by mid-afternoon, I found out that the 4-star painted it. It was a fair shock.

Throughout my entire association with the Air Force...from 1977 on....other than a couple of young senior airman on base....we never had anyone, especially an officer, who painted. So this is a rapid departure from the “norm”.

I sat and paused over this. Once these commanders start to realize that painting isn’t “wussie”....and it’s ok....would they start to encourage this? Would the old colonel call up his six young Lt’s and hand them paint brushes and hint that it’s a calming effect? Would the young Captains come out and display their erotic French model drawings? Would the geeky Major’s come up and display their paintings of horses? Would the medical officers come out and show their body sculptures? Would the pilots come out and show their latest painting of leaves falling trees in the late fall?

It’s hard to imagine a artsy Air Force. We are known for writing 1,000 page summaries or 140-slide presentations....not for painting fancy stuff. Heck, we have problems just painting buildings on base in the right tint.

So I’m standing back and waiting for the next round of this. For some’ll be a tough transition. Some of these guys may have to start with paint-by-the-numbers kits and establish themselves this way. But maybe in the end....we end up with bunch of guys who have an artsy reputation.

(Note: the picture is just one I picked off's not the general's picture, and no, I can't take a picture of it....the cops would be all over me).

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

It Feels Like 1938

There is an article worth reading today....but it won't be the positive type or humorous type that you are used to. It was written by Patrick Courrielche.

Patrick got a call on 6 August. He was invited by the National Endowment for the attend a conference call. Set for four days was to be hosted by the NEA, the White House Office of Public Engagement, and United We Serve crowd.

This conference call? It would end up including “a group of artists, producers, promoters, organizers, influencers, marketers, taste-makers, leaders or just plain cool people to join together and work together to promote a more civically engaged America and celebrate how the arts can be used for a positive change!”

This was likely the first hint of something that you really didn't need to worry about or think about.

So the call would come.....75 guests. You could label the group as street-artists, filmmakers, art galleries, music venues, musicians and music producers, writers, poets, actors, independent media outlets, and marketers.

The opening of this message? It was a call....labeled as an opportunity for those in the art be part of a message to the nation, in several topic areas. You can guess the topics: “health care” and “energy and environment.”

The theme throughout the call? A soft reminder....the ability of artists to “shape the lives” of people.

At some start to remember that the NEA was never created to push policy. You can't find a single moment that this was written down or considered in the charter of the NEA.

Then toward the end of this conference call....came these uneasy words:
“This is just the beginning. This is the first telephone call of a brand new conversation. We are just now learning how to really bring this community together to speak with the government. What that looks like legally?…bare with us as we learn the language so that we can speak to each other safely… “

I sat there for half an hour after reading the article. All I could 1938.

It was was simple to convince folks of just about anything. They were naive...they were without a mental compass.....they wanted a fantastic dream to believe in.

The NEA was a vehicle for artist to hang their hat on and get government grants to work on their art....not their politics. By taking a stand like this....the leadership of the NEA invites a destruction element. It would seem like that artists would grasp the meaning of this conference call. But if they don't....they may well find themselves compared to Germans in 1938....who lost an entire generation because of their foolishness.

Religious Police

In most countries, you have local cops, state cops, federal cops, and then the secret police. In Saudi Arabia….you have a fifth group….the religious police.

Naturally, you are likely standing thinking…hmmmm….what exactly do religious police do?

They normally aim their valuable time on immoral activities….like wearing shorts, mingling with ladies at the mall, and doing unmanly things.

In the past month in Saudi Arabia…the religious police have taken up a new threat to the public….summer festivals and circuses. Now on one side…the government itself went out and found these Middle Eastern circus companies and hired them to help boost up domestic tourism. On the other side, the religious police now believe that this kinda violates strict religious restrictions….like singing, dancing, and the mixing of unrelated men and women. They also mentioned "evil" circus performances.

I sat there a while…being from Bama….wondering what exactly they meant by “evil” circus performances. The best we can figure….is that this includes fire-eating and lying on a bed of glass. For some reason…this is considered magic, which is outlawed by Islamic law.

We probably need some religious police in Bama… help prevent boozing, partying, and funny business. They’d have to be Baptists of course….and likely have to have walking sticks to whack on guys if necessary. The problem I see is that they'd eventually end up like the Saudi religious police....and arresting folks for cutting grass in shorts, winking at women, cussing over Bama losing a NCAA game, and guys telling lies over what road they took to get from Mobile to Montgomery.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Cash Spiral, of Sorts

So the smoke has cleared....and we now know that there will be a likely $300 million cash-for-clunkers federal program to boost....washing machines and dishwashers.

Yes, as if we really needed it...but apparently the big boys got enough money in to make the President and the Democrats happy.

The deal? There will be rebates this fall...of $50 to $200 for purchases of high-efficiency household appliances. can finally trade in your old appliance and do this cash-for deal.

Where does the madness end?

I was thinking several more possible cash-for ideas.

First, cash-for-hoes...where the two remaining hoe companies in western Iowa got a chance to you guys swapped in your old hoes.

Second, cash-for-baseball help the glove manufacturing companies. If you have a old mitt from 1977 or can get a $12 rebate on a trade-in.

Third, cash-for-mule collars....where you can bring in a old mule collar and get $50 rebate on the purchase of a brand-new one....made in China.

Fourth, cash-for-septic tanks....where you dig up your old tank...present it to some guy at the Home Depot backdoor...and he gives you a $1000 card that you can use for a new purchase. Hopefully, you have your cousin Carl lined up for the digging work.

Fifth, cash-for-Playboy magazines....where you turn in your 88 copies of Playboy and you get a new subscription for one year with Playboy. The 88 copies get shipped off to Mexico for those poor guys down there who haven't gotten any Playboy copies.

Sixth, cash-for-fishing lull's....where you turn in ten old lulls and get eight brand new one's in exchange. So far, no one has figured out who manufactures these in the US and most folks think it's a Chinese trick of sorts.

Seventh and you take your old slinky sitting in the basement...get $3...and a coupon for a special new slinky for $9.99. This is special order, and it may take three years to get the new slinky.

The cash-for-clunkers program was a big positive for sales...but dealers are standing there now....with a bunch of folks worried about when their dealership will be paid for the action taken. Now? The same guys who ran the clunkers program....think this will work?

What I Hate About Republicans

It is my independent voter nature.....that I'm really not a huge fan of the Republican party. To be honest...half of their message does sell.....the other half? It's got various issues and I tend to either be amused by it or simply pretend they didn't say something that stupid.

First, there is this uneasy relationship with the Christian right-wing types. No, this doesn't include the Catholics, the Jews, or the Mormons. The party extends out as far as it cover these guys and their three or four special interest issues. For every one of these Christian right-wing types that they bring in....they more or less exclude another guy who might vote for them (the independent type).

Up until recently, the Christian right-wing types were always one-hundred percent in the corner of the Republicans....then this global warming crowd got smart and began to court the Bible-thumpers. So today, there's around twenty-five percent of the crowd who are falling into the Democratic message.....and lessening their vote potential for the Republicans. Yet to make up for this....the party would never lessen their approval of the Christian group or court the Catholics or Jews heavily....and they'd never say welcome to the Latter-Day Saints crowd.

Second, as much as the Democrats court the bankers....the Republicans court the oil and natural gas crowd. If they could write a totally open and blank check for the crowd....they would. As much as we all have some reasons to give a pass to the natural gas and oil's not a totally free pass that we seek for them. There ought to be limits.....but the Republican leadership tends to avoid that discussion.

Third, about every three months.....there is this great and wonderful relationship with some foreign special interest group that falls into our laps (normally the Saudis occur once or twice a year). The party tries to look the other way, but frankly, there are millions that pour in for representatives or senators. Everyone of these guys grins when caught....and then you just see some idiot standing there with no idea of the mess they are in.

Fourth, this wonderous morale argument that they make 365 days out of the year....tends to fall apart about every fifteen days or so. Some guy gets arrested. Some guy gets outed by a bunch of gays. Some guy is getting a divorce for having four girlfriends. Some guy is caught accepting money for doing mostly nothing. After a while, you get tired of the morale argument.

Fifth, as much as I like to say it....but Rush is about thirty percent of the pulling power of the Republican party. He can charge up a bunch of dimwits and actually get them to show up and vote....when the enthusiasm really isn't there. I'd like to look around and find a "Rush-Lite" but frankly, there is no such human being. The 2008 election? Rush was never much of a McCain-supporter...and you knew it by the early March primary season. Rush truly didn't charge up his crowd....because he just never bought into McCain's message. It's easy to be against Obama....but you need a guy to be for.....and that didn't exist in the message.

So there is this love-hate thing I have about the Republicans. It's easy to be for them in some ways and it's easy to be against some ways.

The VA

Ever wondered why old ex-GI's hate the VA?

Today, the dimwits came out and admitted that at least 1,200 Gulf War veterans across the US....mostly in Bama, Florida, Kansas, North Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming....were mistakenly notified by the Veterans Administration that they suffer from Lou Gehrig's disease.

You can imagine 1,200 guys....going to the mailbox....and getting this stupid letter.

Hours were spent as they sat there in silence...contemplating their life and what was left of it...thanks to the VA.

So far, the VA says it was a coding error. They can't say much of an apology or how sorry they are. For 1,200's a lousy moment...being told something like this.

For most guys....they'd really prefer to give up the VA situation and just get full-up paid health care with a real hospital. If you examined the cost probably would be about the same amount of money. At least it would be first class care....compared to what vet's get today.


Apparently...from what ABC news says....a "profanity-laced screaming match" at the White House occurred. It involved CIA Director Leon Panetta. It appears that Leon has now threatened to quit just seven months after taking the job. The suggestion that the Attorney General is about to take the CIA investigation to a new level....has apparently shaken the foundations of the CIA.

Consider this...Panetta was not the first, second or third choices for the CIA job. It took them a long while because people found problems with candidate one...and I think both the second and third came to a point of just saying "no". So Panetta was asked to just fill in. I don't think the White House or Panetta aimed for this to be more than twelve to eighteen months.

Lets admit this....Panetta has zero talent or skill at this entire business. It probably took alot of discussions and agreements to get him to sign on and agree to this job that he doesn't really want. He probably discussed the chances of this investigation business and was probably assured that the president would not allow it to go to this degree. Obviously, this gentleman's understanding didn't hold up.

What happens now? Panetta now has no reason to stay on and I would imagine that he will announce his "retirement" to occur this next week...after the President returns from the vacation.

So lets go to what happens within the CIA. Almost every single employee will take this as a threat to themselves. The management will tell them all that they are safe, and to just shut up.

So the AG and his investigators find CIA guys smiling. No one cooperates with them and claims whatever they classified and the AG doesn't have a need to know (this drilled into every military and CIA analyst from day one).

As days go by....CIA operations overseas start to deteriorate and operatives now start to question everything of their bosses. Who authorized this mission? What director approved it? What was the original intent? Who is paying for what? CIA management starts to meet and discuss the mess. The KGB monitoring them...starts to laugh and report this mess daily back to Moscow.

So the spring of 2011 comes...the Republicans have taken back the house (but not the Senate). They start requesting the AG to meet with them. They start to get confrontational over the mess. No individual from the CIA is ever brought into court because the AG eventually offers his resignation.

You also have to consider this. Eric Holder may very well be the Democratic nominee for senator in Illinois. So this entire mess could be dropped by February as he runs out of steam and decides to move on.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Something to Make You Think

There is an interesting feature on German TV....the state-run network. At least once or twice a week....mostly on Sat Three (the national channel but always number three in everything)...where they feature a news broadcast from thirty years ago.

The first time I watched this....almost ten years ago....I kinda sat there in shock. If you tried to sell this to ABC or CBS....they'd go into a hyper fit....why show old news?

After you watch this five or six start to notice things. Remember....this is the national news block of fifteen lousy minutes at 8PM each night on Channel One....ARD.

You notice that political news didn't really dominate much of the broadcast. It's maybe half of what you see today on the nightly news of Germany.

Then you notice that the US didn't get mentioned much except for really big news.

Wall Street? Maybe ten percent of the broadcasts that I've seen....might have some real business-like news.

So I started to ponder this. I can readily remember watching the nightly news in 1974. It's a 360-degree turn from what you see on today's news.

So I have this radical idea....a network of sorts....probably with zero profit....but showing nightly news from 20 to 40 years ago. I'd like to remind people of what they had, and what they lost over the past forty years. After a while....the big guys would start to feel threatened....because they have done something to news....turning it into a used-news service. Maybe after a while, they just might want to restart the clock and change.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Pretending to be a Democrat

Within a few months...I will likely be leaving the "safety" of Air Force employment as a contractor....and likely relocating back to the states. It was an interesting experience...being amongst mostly independent or Republican-like folks for thirty years of my life. There are consequences though....I may very well be in a new job (outside of DoD or the Air Force)....and the majority of the folks are Democrat. Yes....unbelievable....I realize that.

So for several weeks...I've been pondering this dilemma and realize that I must go into a "pretend-situation" and just act like a Democrat as much as possible when around these other people.

Kinda like being a Borg, but not being a know.

This has led to an examination of what it takes to be a pretender-Democrat.

First, you have to believe that government the answer to every problem. You can't do something without it. And if you think you can do something without aren't a real Democrat. have to believe that teachers in America....are the only thing saving us from being a third world Republic. Its a difficult belief...considering that they can barely teach two-thirds of the kids in the third grade to read and they really want to teach your kid about sex (because that's the one thing they really know). have to believe that sex in any variation...even with imaginary people or ok and cool. It's also ok to talk about it on TV barber shops....and in the presence of men dressed as women or women dressed as hookers. have to believe that businesses have to be a state of evil...and government control over businesses is the only thing that can makes America right. have to believe that guns and nukes are evil, unless in the hands of North Koreans or Chinese folks. have to believe that before NPR came one got real news. Also, that jazz, opera and classical music stuff on NPR...never was necessary. have to believe that computer models are absolute in determining global warming...even though the same models would say that Brittney Spears should have stayed with K-Fed, that Madonna should have stayed with Mr. Madonna, and Cheney was the son of Satan. have to believe that while the NRA is evil, the ACLU is good....although the ACLU has to overlook some portion of the Constitution to make the NRA look evil. have to believe that quotas in life are absolutely necessary. You can never have enough midgets in the Senate or House. You can never have enough Albino CEO's. You can never have enough graduates from Harvard business schools who can bankrupt half of America's banks. You can never have enough alcoholics flying planes. And you can never have enough Amish folks driving BMWs. have to believe that there can never be enough taxes. If there were no would we build bridges or magnificent governments (think of America before 1917...when there were only property taxes and sales taxes). Somehow, a nation got built without taxes....must have been a mistake.

To be honest....maybe I've hung around these independent guys and Republican guys too long....and maybe I need a sabbatical of mellow out. Maybe I can watch enough Jeopardy, Dancing with the Stars, and the Today overcome natural tendencies.

Maybe down the line....this will all make sense and the first thirty-odd years were just a Dorthy in the Wizard of Oz. Dorthy. So somewhere at the end of this pavement...there are some golden stomping boots and I'll just click them and feel better.

The State of Your Mind

As most of you know....I read alot on science and technology. This week...a rather unusual research project was published. Frankly, it has implications for a lot of us.

So these German scientist dudes....put six participants out in the middle of a wooded area...with no directions, no compass, and no map.

Then the German scientist dudes did the same thing to three participants in the Sahara Desert.

Each person in this testing group of nine had a GPS navigational system attached to them.

Then, the cherry on this whole test? The German scientists then blind-folded another 15 participants...making them wander freely in an empty field to find their way.

The results from this entire test? The Germans science guys say that humans are biologically programmed to double back when disoriented. It is a self-preservation block in a guy's mind....return to the starting point when all else fails.

So you have to sit there and ponder on this. There are hundreds of millions of people on this Earth, and they all apparently have this mechanism in their return back to the starting point if they get disorientated. How? This cannot be least not yet.

You have to wonder though....if the mind has additional fail-safe mechanisms? When reaching a significant stress point....does the mind then toss in a mechanism to chill? If you have a massive emotional point....can the mind crank up this total block to set the speed back down to a reasonable state? This begs alot of different questions....which can't be answered.

Vicki and Ted

Once upon a time, in a land called Massachusetts...there was a senator who was on the verge of becoming president. And in those days, the mighty state house discussed what would happen if a Democratic senator left and a Republican governor had to appoint a new senator.

Woe be unto the Massachusetts public should such a scenario should occur. So the mighty state house wrote a rule and quickly passed it. In the wisdom of those standing....if any senator should vacate for any reason...then a special election would occur after 145 days in the state. The governor would not select a refill...for any reason.

So now...a time has passed...and things are different.

Now we have a dying senator....Ted Kennedy who is requesting via the Massachusetts lawmakers a change in the state law. He believes it cannot be possible that the state would be without proper representation for five months...while waiting for this new senator. So less than a decade later after the first law....he wants a change. He wants the current Democratic governor to pick the replacement...quickly.

Naturally, Senator Ted has his replacement's name in mind....Vicki....his wife.

Two decades ago...this would have been a guaranteed thing, and Vicki would have stepped right into the argument. Various Democratic factions in Massachusetts today...don't want Vicki. In fact, at least one other Kennedy family member is thought to be in the top five runners at this point.

Vicki's problem here? The poll numbers have come back and Ted has reflected over them...Vicki can't campaign well enough to win. She's a lousy sell. She can't give a four-star speech. And a fair number of folks in Massachusetts think it's time for an end to the Kennedy ownership of the senate seat.

My impression is that Senator Ted will be no more by the end of this year. Vicki will quickly assemble a campaign team and try to get "big-money" to make a 4-star run. "Remember Ted" will be the theme. She won't win. And then folks will start to name bridges after Ted, in his memory....and life will go on.

Friday, 21 August 2009

My 1968 Speech

In most office areas and work environments today.....folks are getting testy, tired, and frustrated with political chit-chat.

Every office has liberal left players...far-right players....extremists of various varieties....who are making a team atmosphere into a some place that you really don't want to work. So this is my speech for this environment.

I'd like for a brief take what little Socrates wisdom I have and make a persuasive argument for peace and harmony.

In 1968, if I had asked a dozen people to name their governor....less than four would have been readily able to do so.

In 1968, if I asked a dozen people to name their two senators from their state....two might have been able to name both, and six more might have been able to name one of the senators.

In 1968, if I had asked a dozen people to name the vice president....two or less of the dozen would have been able to do it.

In 1968, unless it was an election year....most folks would have been totally lost on political agendas or discussion items.

In 1968, you talked baseball, summer vacations, drive-in movies, NBA basketball, the neighbor who had run off with the clerk at Piggy Wiggly, the cousin who married some hippy chick from Santa Fe, the best beer for the cheapest price, and the best way to bar-b-q chicken.

Somewhere between 1968 and today....we've all wandered off and lost our way.

We want to pick up discussion topics off the fourteen hours of news we watch each week or the seven hours of radio political chit-chat.....and bring them into the workplace. We're making an simple discussion.....into a heated argument.

We are doing this at family reunions, Sunday school meetings, PTA meetings, and even pursuing grand arguments with our wife or husband or kids. We show at high school reunions and then toss some argument out and see who will bite.

There's no shame in having a position on something and being in favor of something.....but what I'm suggesting is a 1968-mentality. Live your life and just stand your own ground....and not on someone else's ground.

Rediscover the feeling of riding a scooter. Find a moment to share with your best friend. Experiment with bar-b-q sauce. Rebuild that guest bedroom. Find that copy of Steinbeck and reread it. Explain to the kid the art of sharpening the mower blade. Take the daughter to softball practice and agree for ice cream later. Offer to wash the wife's car and wax it.

I'm not asking for a massive transformation. I'm just asking you to look back at 1968....and find why it was such a great year.

So there, thats my Socrates moment of the day. A bit of wisdom that I'd just like to offer.

Poverty, Simply

Some report came out today…over 38.8 million folks are believed to be in poverty…or at least the Census folks think this.

Republicans have their message for this….it proves that government programs aren’t working. Democrats have their message for this….that not enough government programs are working.

I sat and pondered over this. Out of 300-odd million Americans….X number are in poverty.

For a while I sat and considered the historical meaning to this. How many folks were in poverty in 1776? Actually….none. The government hadn’t gotten around to this concept of poverty in 1776.

So in 1810….how many were in poverty? Well…the government hadn’t defined poverty at that point either.

Are there more folks in poverty in one region of America than another? Well…the statistics don’t truly prove this fact. Although if you toss the numbers enough….you find that metropolitan areas are more likely to have poverty folks than rural folks. But it’s not true in every rural area of America.

So if you are in poverty…does this say anything about the nation as a whole? Can we just fix it? Can we just hand out more money? Can we do a poverty-for-clunkers kind of program and just wipe poverty out in six months? Could we make a Poverty Czar for the President….to keep him informed of poverty? Could we get CNN to have an hour of poverty news each night or make one of their analysts a person of poverty? The answer here…simply….is no.

The humorous part about this whole sad topic…is that five hundred-odd folks….between various government departments and university research projects….are studying poverty. They can tell you four thousand facts about poverty. They get paid to understand poverty. They would spend hours and hours at poverty conferences. In the end….they are our experts over poverty….while the real experts just sit there and laugh over this mighty effort.

Here’s the thing….in ten years…we will still have poverty. Other than new and fresh programs…nothing changes.

The VOIP Phone

My boss has a secure VOIP telephone….voice-over-IP technology. Well…he has the phone…and that’s about it. It’s not connected.

So about five months ago….he wanted it hooked up. So I did a job order to have the communications guys on Ramstein to hook this up and make it work. So visit one came….no results. So visit two came….no results. Phone conversations came and went….no results.

This past week….Airman Snuffy and his associate showed up and started a new hook-up project….problems continued on. So Snuffy finally set the phone up and needed a number. Some work ensued, and finally he left. Today, someone called up and asked a couple of questions.

An hour later….my boss’s normal phone was messed up (not the VOIP). Nothing worked.
So I called the telephone help desk on Ramstein. The new Airman Snuffy helped as much as he could….but this was really screwed up.

So hours and hours of time have been spent on this stupid single secure VOIP phone….and it still doesn’t work. It would have been easier for me to have arranged for a bunch of Chinese MIG’s to land at Ramstein than get this one phone hooked up and working.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

"False Witness", Frankly

"There are some folks out there who are, frankly, bearing false witness."

--President Obama

This was some kind of defend-the-health-care-package speech in the presence of a bunch of church dudes. It was the kind of campaign speech effort that you’d expect in the heat of September and October of an election year.

From the Republican side now….we’ll have to hear a dozen comments on who is bearing false witness to who. They’ll cite a dozen untruths, and then the Democrats will counter that effort. It’s typical political infighting….that you reach a point of getting frustrated and tired of.

The church dudes? Well…they’ll run back to their church groups and then try to spread the message amongst their players….then discover that fifty percent of the audience is Republican in nature….and they start to argue in the church over whether Jesus would support the plan or not.

Then ten percent of the membership up and quits over a weekend….joining some anti-health care church group just down the road. A week will go by and another ten percent stand up and walk out. By the end of September….you start to notice that thirty percent of the church seats are vacant and the pot of money expected each week is less and less.

Eventually….in October….some idiot in the front of the church will stand up and ask why it was necessary to have a position on health care, and everyone will wake up from a daze and realize that they were kinda led astray with no real leadership amongst their “fake” leaders.

The curious thing here? When you study the strategy of extremists (or fascists)…getting into the concentrated power areas of your opposition and dividing them…is one of the top plans that work. Eric Hoffer wrote an entire book on the mechanism works...and why "mass movements" are dangerous.

An Another Caveman Joe Story

So today, we learn that Caveman the creator of global warming. It was a shocker as I read the article.

Based on a report by researchers at the University of Virginia and the University of Maryland-Baltimore County....Caveman Joe, our ancient ancestor.....may have started global warming through massive deforestation. Caveman Joe did burning forests and woodlands, and thus created a permanently altered Earth climate.

The idea here is that Caveman Joe around five to seven thousand years ago....ended up clearing about ten times as much land as people typically do today (at least on average). So the idea is that this started up the swing in greenhouse gases.

This idea continues on....that as Caveman Joe burnt down the forest....he then planted seeds in the soil and grew a crop. Eventually....Caveman Joe then taped out the nutrients in the soil and then had to move to property number two....burn that forest....and restart the entire process again.

The professors involved in this project....envision Caveman Joe burning patches left and right....maybe five times in a 20-year period.

While it’s a major effort in writing this....there are a significant number of researchers who just don’t buy into this idea. The idea of farmers playing any real role in climate change....just doesn’t the researchers discuss the concept. The model’s tend to disagree with this Caveman Joe scenario because they all point to something that started in the past 150 years. Bluntly, they would prefer that Caveman Joe didn't get drawn into modern science.

I sat and pondered over the Caveman Joe scenario. The problem is that when you consider population existence of seven thousand years really start to see a tiny group of people living in Europe or Russia or Asia. Just in the Americas....maybe a thousand guys probably.

The minute they started burning off a forest to establish their crop land....they set global warming into fourth gear. And the sad thing is....they never had some guy with a Nobel Al advise them on the terrible things they were doing.

Why LSD is a Bad Thing

So, this is a sad and woeful tale. Out in Fenton, MO… the heartland of America….there was this newlywed couple. During some part of their new fantastic marriage….they decided to take a honeymoon hike. And there on the hike….they experimented with LSD.

Apparently, the 20-year-old bride (who was from the Crestwood area of MO)…..went into such a bad reaction on the trail….with the LSD….they she had to be airlifted to a suburban St. Louis hospital. The cops will merely say currently that she is in serious condition.

The original story that the husband told cops….was that the wife had fallen down and hit her head. Later….as they looked for the invisible bruise on the head….the guy had to admit more of the story. The husband apparently wasn’t making a huge effort to “rescue” the wife……it ended up being two guys on horseback who found the couple….and then found that the woman was having seizures.

So far, the cops have taken the husband into custody. The only charge so far…..drug possession.

It’s a curious thing where LSD is involved. Of the five normal drugs that folks might experiment with or test….it’d be nowhere in the five. The guy’s background….not mentioned….although I’d bet that he has a chemistry background and a couple years of college. If you had to pick a drug that was wrong for the trail environment…..this is the one. You could hallucinate enough and do some fairly dangerous things out in the boonies.

The curious thing will be when they finally stabilize the gal and she’s out of the hospital….what happens with the husband who didn’t make any effort to take you to the hospital? Do you question his trust? Would the guy have allowed you to die on the trail? I'm thinking this is a short-lived marriage.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

KMCC on Ramstein

Ok, so I spent an hour over in the new Ramstein mall area….where phase II started last Saturday. The walkway is open, with the food court.

It’s as American as you can make it. It feels hokey walking down this 300 foot stretch.

The Birkenstock shoe place? All over-priced. The other shops along the walk area….over-priced.

The German Hofbrau Haus? Decent food and beer. For a 3-liter stein? $24. It takes around eight to nine big cans of beer to equal 3 liters. Remember, this is German beer too….so a 3-liter container can get you fairly drunk in one hour. And yes, there are cops out in the parking lot...waiting on you.

Several cash machines spread around the place….so they are hoping to entice you into spending money.

Parking? Well….the whole front is full and the sides are getting full. So come December….the whole rear will be used and still not be enough.

The Captain D’s establishment? Well….I had the fish and chips…and frankly, it doesn’t remind me of the US establishment. I poured a ton of vinegar onto the fish, and it didn’t help improve the taste. I paid almost nine bucks for a plate of fish and chips.

Phase three is about four weeks away…where the entire BX is open, along with the Power Zone. I’m not having great expectations.

So I did the natural thing for a fifty-year old guy at the mall….I bought ice cream and sat down in the middle of the walk area….and checked out the babes for thirty minutes. And you know…they kinda look like regular American babes at any real mall.

That Hitler Dude

You know….from 1945….up until 2003….no one ever compared some political figure to Adolph Hitler. For most folks, who didn’t grow up in the era….Hitler was some dead guy who apparently didn’t get remembered for much of anything. For other folks….they kinda scratch their head if you did try to compare Hitler with anyone in the modern era.

It was like eighteen months after 9-11…when I first noticed someone trying to compare Bush to Hitler. I laughed over the comparison, and figured it was a one-time thing. Up until 2008, there were probably well over 100 journalist comments where Bush and Hitler were compared. The majority were bloggers….but after a while….regular journalists would work the comparison into their brief two minutes of “news”.

So in the past six months….the new administration is now readily compared to Hitler on a fairly frequent basis. It’s mostly by bloggers. You won’t find MSNBC or ABC or CBS ever making such a comment on their network news. The amusing thing is that they readily approved of a hint of a comparison between Bush and Hitler but they can’t find that hint anywhere now.

Its funny in some ways….you have various losers in history….but the minute you bring out Hitler….that kinda trumps every other card.

The sad part about this….if I were truly going to play historian and then start talking ‘brown shirts’, Rommel, or the Hitler Youth Movement….most of these 1-star journalists and bloggers just look at you. They really didn’t study Hitler, the Nazis or Germany very much. They just know it’s neat to use Hitler’s name in some comparison.

Where does this end? I now believe that we’ve opened up a Pandora’s Box and we can’t avoid this comparison. Even as the Obama administration continues on…this will be dragged out a dozen times each week. And as the next administration steps in….it’ll continue to get dragged out. We are stuck with the name of some dead dude who really isn’t relevant in 2009.

College is a Business

Years ago when I joined the military....the idea of attending further education was priority number sixteen. Around two years later, I came to this realization that I needed something. So as I arrived at McChord AFB (in Tacoma, Wash), I came to start this trail. From day one, I realized that it was a business and the university system ran at a profit....and that they hired the cheapest professors possible.

As I registered the first time at McChord....they made it very clear that they had to have twelve students sign make the class “work”. Basically, that was the profit margin in their game. Everything beyond twenty was considered big profit and made everyone happy.

Then I discovered the level of professors. The first guy was some 75-year old semi-retired professor who was teaching stuff out of the 1950s (this was 1980). This community college was a big step down from teaching back in the “east” as he always went into detail about.

Then I had the recovering alcoholic that barely knew his topic area and always wanted to get the group to meet after class at some pizza place that had beer by the pitcher.

Then I had the dinosaur digger. She was some left-over 1960s product who was highly intelligent. At some point in a dig in Montana....she had some relationship episode that broke apart and her paycheck ended with the project. She came to Tacoma and worked as a instructor for six months as part of her “recovery”. The thing is, she lived out of some tent in the backyard of her sister’s house. She drove a Volkswagen van and was wore only woven products. She was a nutcase.

Then I had the eastern European guy who barely spoke English but taught logic. There wasn’t a single test throughout the twelve week class and he gave all of us “A’s” at the end.

I moved onto Barksdale AFB, Louisiana (Shreveport). I came to meet the folks at Louisiana Tech University. Half the instructors on base were school teachers who were picking up a second income as college instructors. They were all happy and smiley over us because we didn’t argue or make their lives miserable like the punks in high school.

There at Tech, I had the divorcee who would mention her ex-husband at least twice every hour. She had emotional issues and was treading water at best.

There at Tech, I had the failed businessman who ran the one real video-rental in Shreveport but got shut-down because of racy videos that he rented from under the counter. This was his in-between job while waiting for his next business to start up. He reminded you of some greasy New Jersey mafia guy....waiting for the big job to make his millions.

As I left and moved onto Ramstein AB, Germany....then I came to the University of Maryland crowd.

We had “Uncle Fester” who was around 75 years old and would run out of steam at the 50-minute point of the two-hour class.

We had the African PhD guy who was brilliant at international politics but had lousy usage of English. He rode the train from Frankfurt to Kaiserslautern for the class, and would always been ten minutes late for every class.

Then we had the caffeine addict female instructor who drank around five cups of coffee throughout the two-hour class. She was totally wired by the end of the class.

For the university systems, this is a profitable operation. They make a fair amount of money off the military as they provide classes on base and hand out credits.

Its funny to sit there and look at various resumes that I send out and list colleges of attendance. For the employer, this is a plus. If they realized the poor quality of instruction....they probably would question the value of a degree.

Hydro-Electric Explosion

I grew up in the heart of the Tennessee Valley. Our reputation in Bama, within the valley….is hydroelectric dams. Within a 200 mile circle, there are probably ten of these dams on the Tennessee River.

In all the years of hydro-electric activity in the valley….there’s no one who can remember an accident at the dams except for the occasional tractor trailer which flipped or the fisherman who brought his boat up too close to the spillway. Now, everyone remembers the nuclear episode over at Browns Ferry where some dudes were checking cables and using candles to see what they were doing (we don’t talk much about that). Hydro electric….as far as we are concerned…is damn safe.

Apparently, in the last day or two…over in Russia….the mother-of-all hydroelectric plants in Russia had some kind of major episode. The best we can understand….at least 64 guys are dead or won’t be found alive.

This happened over at the Sayano-Shushenskaya plant in southern Siberia. The management staff say that the guys either drowned or were crushed, which either are a lousy way of dying.

Naturally, this really messed up power production and a lot of towns and factories are currently without power as they figure out how to reroute power to that region.

The thing about nuclear plants and hydroelectric plants….everyone has this fear of nuclear and this comfy-safe feeling over hydroelectric. If you went to the technicians involved….the nuke technician is likely feeling fairly safe over his profession, but the hydroelectric guy is always having to worry about dam failure. It’s curious how safety is seen via the eyes of consumers and the guys who actually manage the equipment.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Cash for Clunkers: The Real Story

When the cash-for-clunkers program started....I was mostly amused by it. There wasn’t very much planning put into this. The concept was supposed to be simple. So far, it’s been mostly a failure. Now....a congressman from Penn says that the federal government has only reimbursed auto dealers for 2 percent of the claims they've submitted.

The dealers are now saying that reimbursement payments aren’t coming. Then they added that various applications were being rejected because of apparent procedural issues.

Then they gave a fascinating statistic.....there are currently around 338,659 submissions.

The mighty shop at the Bureau of Transportation ....has barely 220-odd folks handling the submissions.

This means each guy is handling around 1690 applications. How many could a guy handle in a day? 100 per day? Maybe.....I’d make a bet that the best you could handle is fifteen per day. Count in all the idiots who didn’t know how to fill out the forms and the guys who used bogus information to finish the form.

The 220-odd guys?

Figure a chief, and a support staff of eight for him. Then figure six IT guys. Then figure at least six admin people. Figure at least 25 managers. So at least 45-odd folks have nothing to do with real work and production.

This was designed as a failure on day one....runs as a failure on day forty-five currently, and will dissolve at day 100 as a successful failure. At least forty folks will be working on award packages for themselves for doing an outstanding job and still be doing clean-up work twelve months from now at this magnificent operation.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Reader's Digest Spiral

Reader's Digest declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy today.

I can remember as a kid.....going to the barber shop every three weeks and sitting down to read two or three articles while waiting. I can remember sitting in various dentist offices....and reading an article or two while the dentist was busy. I can remember waiting and reading Reader's Digest at the doctor's office.

About three years ago, I remember sitting down and there was a very positive story done on global warming. It was laced with "absolute fact". I sat there grinning. At least three of the six facts that they laid out.....were later to be proven false. Would they likely retract what they wrote? I smile as I suggest that. The global warming enthusiasts need a publication like this....that never admits it has failed in the trust-department.

Some people will say the article done last summer was where the base population reader started to retreat. This was where they explained that candidate Obama would bring rapid approval amongst foreign countries, and thus change the perception of America in the world. It was a tacit approval game which a number of magazines have played out. The truth is...real journalists avoid identifying with a candidate or telling people who they should give their vote.

Reader's Digest believes it can survive, although they are switching to ten publications per year. They think their base has stabilized at around 5.5 million per month. My guess? I have doubts that they can keep the base at that level and will eventually slide to 4.5 million. They will be eventually packaged in some manner and sold to some third world publisher in Honduras, and then start questioning how they can possibly survive.


I made reservations today....for a vacation to Cyprus in five weeks. I had decided on a package deal....flight, bus to the hotel, the 4-star hotel, three buffet meals a day, and all the booze you can drink (beer, wine, mixed drinks, Sprite, water, coffee, tea, and buttermilk). I've never done the full-up deal with everything, so it'll be curious on how this turns out.

The curious I sat there with the German TUI travel came time for the credit card. I plunked it down....and they charged the trip....along with a $27 service charge for using a credit card. I sat there....kinda surprised that they would do such a thing but apparently, they don't like doing it and they don't have a deal with the bank with credit card usage tied to their banking business.

To be honest, Cyprus wasn't on my top forty places to visit, but it's October by that point, and it's still fairly warm. Plus it's part of Greece.....and it's kinda safe. As you know....I only go to safe places.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Airport Saga

Where I grew Bama...there were two airports. Huntsville is fairly well known and has a 2-star airport (at least compared to most of the big boys throughout the US). From Huntsville, there are around twenty flights a day. Around ten of the flights go to Atlanta, which is a fairly used service. The rest go to places like Dallas, DC, NY City, Chicago, Memphis, and Orlando.

The second airport? Over in the Shoals area....nearer to where I grew up. To be honest, over all these's always been around two to four flights a day at best. Somehow, the locals had enough service to keep the airport open but it never gained any usage.

Over the past few years.....the flights that ran from the Shoals....ran to Memphis. They were lucky to have 500 passengers a month use the service. In July, they finally changed the Atlanta. Something radical happened with this change. More people started using the Shoals airport.

Last year....barely 480 people flew out of the airport on average per month. July of this year....almost 800.

With a bit of advertising.....they just might get up to the 1,000 level.

The amusing thing is that this would put the airport into the big-time money.....going from $150k a year for support from the $1 million a year.

Adding to this slight increase.....parking fee revenue for July.....almost doubled.

So the boys are excited....they just might get real money to fix up the airport. And maybe....just maybe....they might eventually get up to 1,500 people a month.....which would make the local political guys all weep and share shots of Jacky D's.

Civility is a Two-Way Street

This week, in the midst of all the health care of the kindly Democratic representatives began to hand out George Washington's Rule of Civility and Decent Behavior. The timing of this is rather humorous...they should have done this twenty years ago...but better late than ever.

So a moment of history here. George Washington was the son of fairly well-off parents in Virginia. They engaged a tutor to ensure that George was "capable" by adult age. Good tutors in this period....used Plato, Socrates and Roman history in their teachings. One-on-one....these tutors could transform a naive kid into a rather intelligent gentleman by age 16.

Somewhere around age sixteen, George took to the writings of some French Jesuit priests. For those not familiar with the Jesuit order...they are practical men of knowledge. They tend to think heavily and offer an enormous amount of advice. The Catholics feared them, for obvious reasons. To be kinda honest...most everyone who gets to know the Jesuits...fear them.

So George found this list of 110 Jesuit rules on civility and as part of some assignment...he copied down the 110 rules. You can imagine a conversation by a open fire over an entire afternoon with George and some learned individual over the acts of civility. By the end of the day....there would have been some great motivational moment in George's life.

What I find curious that these rules were kept kinda buried and mentioned strictly in George Washington history circles. The media? Over 100 years...I doubt if these have ever been mentioned...ever...on public or TV. The printed matter in a newspaper? You might find a dozen occasions that these were mentioned in some light but frankly, what American would bother to read rules of civility?

The cherry on this cake? If I really enforced the rules...a whole bunch of Democrats and Republicans would have to shut up and act civil. A entire crowd of pretender and and wannabe journalists would have to resort to decent behavior. Yes, it would be quiet a shocker. So somewhere in the Colorado last week...the Washington notes were dragged out and passed out to the public. Those in attendance probably sat in shock.

So here, I will pass you the Washington Letters on Civility and Decent Behavior. Complain not...when the English of the times disagrees with you.

1st Every Action done in Company, ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to those that are Present.

2nd When in Company, put not your Hands to any Part of the Body, not usually Discovered.

3rd Show Nothing to your Friend that may affright him.

4th In the Presence of Others Sing not to yourself with a humming Noise, nor Drum with your Fingers or Feet.

5th If You Cough, Sneeze, Sigh, or Yawn, do it not Loud but Privately; and Speak not in your Yawning, but put Your handkerchief or Hand before your face and turn aside.

6th Sleep not when others Speak, Sit not when others stand, Speak not when you Should hold your Peace, walk not on when others Stop.

7th Put not off your Cloths in the presence of Others, nor go out your Chamber half Dressed.

8th At Play and at Fire its Good manners to Give Place to the last Commer, and affect not to Speak Louder than Ordinary.

9th Spit not in the Fire, nor Stoop low before it neither Put your Hands into the Flames to warm them, nor Set your Feet upon the Fire especially if there be meat before it.

10th When you Sit down, Keep your Feet firm and Even, without putting one on the other or Crossing them.

11th Shift not yourself in the Sight of others nor Gnaw your nails.

12th Shake not the head, Feet, or Legs roll not the Eyes lift not one eyebrow higher than the other wry not the mouth, and bedew no mans face with your Spittle, by approaching too near him when you Speak.

13th Kill no Vermin as Fleas, lice ticks &c in the Sight of Others, if you See any filth or thick Spittle put your foot Dexterously upon it if it be upon the Cloths of your Companions, Put it off privately, and if it be upon your own Cloths return Thanks to him who puts it off.

14th Turn not your Back to others especially in Speaking, Jog not the Table or Desk on which Another reads or writes, lean not upon any one.

15th Keep your Nails clean and Short, also your Hands and Teeth Clean yet without Showing any great Concern for them.

16th Do not Puff up the Cheeks, Loll not out the tongue rub the Hands, or beard, thrust out the lips, or bite them or keep the Lips too open or too Close.

17th Be no Flatterer, neither Play with any that delights not to be Play'd Withal.

18th Read no Letters, Books, or Papers in Company but when there is a Necessity for the doing of it you must ask leave: come not near the Books or Writings of Another so as to read them unless desired or give your opinion of them unasked also look not nigh when another is writing a Letter.

19th Let your Countenance be pleasant but in Serious Matters Somewhat grave.

20th The Gestures of the Body must be Suited to the discourse you are upon.

21st Reproach none for the Infirmities of Nature, nor Delight to Put them that have in mind thereof.

22nd Show not yourself glad at the Misfortune of another though he were your enemy.

23rd When you see a Crime punished, you may be inwardly Pleased; but always show Pity to the Suffering Offender.

24th Do not laugh too loud or too much at any Public Spectacle.

25th Superfluous Complements and all Affectation of Ceremony are to be avoided, yet where due they are not to be Neglected.

26th In Pulling off your Hat to Persons of Distinction, as Noblemen, Justices, Churchmen &c make a Reverence, bowing more or less according to the Custom of the Better Bred, and Quality of the Person. Amongst your equals expect not always that they Should begin with you first, but to Pull off the Hat when there is no need is Affectation, in the Manner of Saluting and resaluting in words keep to the most usual Custom.

27th Tis ill manners to bid one more eminent than yourself be covered as well as not to do it to whom it's due Likewise he that makes too much haste to Put on his hat does not well, yet he ought to Put it on at the first, or at most the Second time of being asked; now what is herein Spoken, of Qualification in behavior in Saluting, ought also to be observed in taking of Place, and Sitting down for ceremonies without Bounds is troublesome.

28th If any one come to Speak to you while you are are Sitting Stand up though he be your Inferior, and when you Present Seats let it be to every one according to his Degree.

29th When you meet with one of Greater Quality than yourself, Stop, and retire especially if it be at a Door or any Straight place to give way for him to Pass.

30th In walking the highest Place in most Countries Seems to be on the right hand therefore Place yourself on the left of him whom you desire to Honor: but if three walk together the middest Place is the most Honorable the wall is usually given to the most worthy if two walk together.

31st If any one far Surpasses others, either in age, Estate, or Merit yet would give Place to a meaner than himself in his own lodging or elsewhere the one ought not to except it, So he on the other part should not use much earnestness nor offer it above once or twice.

32nd To one that is your equal, or not much inferior you are to give the chief Place in your Lodging and he to who 'is offered ought at the first to refuse it but at the Second to accept though not without acknowledging his own unworthiness.

33rd They that are in Dignity or in office have in all places Precedency but whilst they are Young they ought to respect those that are their equals in Birth or other Qualities, though they have no Public charge.

34th It is good Manners to prefer them to whom we Speak before ourselves especially if they be above us with whom in no Sort we ought to begin.
When you speak, be concise.

35th Let your Discourse with Men of Business be Short and Comprehensive.

36th Artificers & Persons of low Degree ought not to use many ceremonies to Lords, or Others of high Degree but Respect and highly Honor them, and those of high Degree ought to treat them with affability & Courtesy, without Arrogance.

37th In speaking to men of Quality do not lean nor Look them full in the Face, nor approach too near them at lest Keep a full Pace from them.

38th In visiting the Sick, do not Presently play the Physician if you be not Knowing therein.

39th In writing or Speaking, give to every Person his due Title According to his Degree & the Custom of the Place.

40th Strive not with your Superiors in argument, but always Submit your Judgment to others with Modesty.

41st Undertake not to Teach your equal in the art himself Professes; it Savours of arrogance.

42nd Let thy ceremonies in Courtesy be proper to the Dignity of his place with whom thou converses for it is absurd to act the same with a Clown and a Prince.

43rd Do not express Joy before one sick or in pain for that contrary Passion will aggravate his Misery.

44th When a man does all he can though it Succeeds not well blame not him that did it.

45th Being to advise or reprehend any one, consider whether it ought to be in public or in Private; presently, or at Some other time in what terms to do it & in reproving Show no Sign of Cholar but do it with all Sweetness and Mildness. If you are corrected, take it without argument. If you were wrongly judged, correct it later.

46th Take all Admonitions thankfully in what Time or Place Soever given but afterwards not being culpable take a Time & Place convenient to let him him know it that gave them. Do not make fun of anything important to others.

47th Mock not nor Jest at any thing of Importance break [n]o Jest that are Sharp Biting and if you Deliver any thing witty and Pleasant abstain from Laughing thereat yourself.

48th Wherein you reprove Another be unblameable yourself; for example is more prevalent than Precepts.

49th Use no Reproachful Language against any one neither Curse nor Revile.
Do not be quick to believe bad reports about others.

50th Be not hasty to believe flying Reports to the Disparagement of any.

51st Wear not your Cloths, foul, ripped or Dusty but See they be Brushed once every day at least and take heed that you approach not to any Uncleaness.

52nd In your Apparel be Modest and endeavor to accommodate Nature, rather than to procure Admiration keep to the Fashion of your equals Such as are Civil and orderly with respect to Times and Places.

53rd Run not in the Streets, neither go too slowly nor with Mouth open go not Shaking your Arms kick not the earth with R feet, go not upon the Toes, nor in a Dancing fashion.

54th Play not the Peacock, looking every where about you, to See if you be well Decked, if your Shoes fit well if your Stockings sit neatly, and Cloths handsomely.

55th Eat not in the Streets, nor in the House, out of Season. Associate with good people. It is better to be alone than in bad company.

56th Associate yourself with Men of good Quality if you Esteem your own Reputation; for 'is better to be alone than in bad Company.

57th In walking up and Down in a House, only with One in Company if he be Greater than yourself, at the first give him the Right hand and Stop not till he does and be not the first that turns, and when you do turn let it be with your face towards him, if he be a Man of Great Quality, walk not with him Cheek by Joul but Somewhat behind him; but yet in Such a Manner that he may easily Speak to you. Always allow reason to govern your actions.

58th Let your Conversation be without Malice or Envy, for 'is a Sign of a Tractable and Commendable Nature: And in all Causes of Passion admit Reason to Govern.

59th Never express anything unbecoming, nor Act against the Rules Moral before your inferiors.

60th Be not immodest in urging your Friends to Discover a Secret.

61st Utter not base and frivolous things amongst grave and Learned Men nor very Difficult Questions or Subjects, among the Ignorant or things hard to be believed, Stuff not your Discourse with Sentences amongst your Betters nor Equals.

62nd Speak not of doleful Things in a Time of Mirth or at the Table; Speak not of Melancholy Things as Death and Wounds, and if others Mention them Change if you can the Discourse tell not your Dreams, but to your intimate Friend.
A person should not overly value their own accomplishments.

63rd A Man ought not to value himself of his Achievements, or rare Qualities of wit; much less of his riches Virtue or Kindred.

64th Break not a Jest where none take pleasure in mirth Laugh not aloud, nor at all without Occasion, deride no mans Misfortune, though there Seem to be Some cause.

65th Speak not injurious Words neither in Jest nor Earnest Scoff at none although they give Occasion.

66th Be not froward but friendly and Courteous; the first to Salute hear and answer & be not Pensive when it's a time to Converse. Do not detract from others nor be overbearing in giving orders.

67th Detract not from others neither be excessive in Commanding. Do not go where you are not wanted. Do not give unasked-for advice.

68th Go not thither, where you know not, whether you Shall be Welcome or not. Give not Advice without being Asked & when desired do it briefly. If two people disagree, do not take one side or the other. Be flexible in your own opinions and when you don't care, take the majority opinion.

69th If two contend together take not the part of either unconstrained; and be not obstinate in your own Opinion, in Things indifferent be of the Major Side. Do not correct others when it is not your place to do so.

70th Reprehend not the imperfections of others for that belongs to Parents Masters and Superiors.

71st Gaze not on the marks or blemishes of Others and ask not how they came. What you may Speak in Secret to your Friend deliver not before others.

72nd Speak not in an unknown Tongue in Company but in your own Language and that as those of Quality do and not as the Vulgar; Sublime matters treat Seriously.

73rd Think before you Speak pronounce not imperfectly nor bring out your Words too hastily but orderly & distinctly.

74th When Another Speaks be attentive your Self and disturb not the Audience if any hesitate in his Words help him not nor Prompt him without desired, Interrupt him not, nor Answer him till his Speech be ended.

75th In the midst of Discourse ask not of what one treateth but if you Perceive any Stop because of your coming you may well intreat him gently to Proceed: If a Person of Quality comes in while your Conversing it's handsome to Repeat what was said before.

76th While you are talking, Point not with your Finger at him of Whom you Discourse nor Approach too near him to whom you talk especially to his face.

77th Treat with men at fit Times about Business & Whisper not in the Company of Others.

78th Make no Comparisons and if any of the Company be Commended for any brave act of Virtue, commend not another for the Same. Do not be quick to talk about something when you don't have all the facts.

79th Be not apt to relate News if you know not the truth thereof. In Discoursing of things you Have heard Name not your Author always A Secret Discover not.

80th Be not Tedious in Discourse or in reading unless you find the Company pleased therewith. Do not be curious about the affairs of others.

81st Be not Curious to Know the Affairs of Others neither approach those that Speak in Private.

82nd Undertake not what you cannot Perform but be Careful to keep your Promise.

83rd When you deliver a matter do it without Passion & with Discretion, however mean the Person be you do it too.

84th When your Superiors talk to any Body hearken not neither Speak nor Laugh.

85th In Company of these of Higher Quality than yourself Speak not til you are asked a Question then Stand upright put of your Hat & Answer in few words.

86th In Disputes, be not So Desirous to Overcome as not to give Liberty to each one to deliver his Opinion and Submit to the Judgment of the Major Part especially if they are Judges of the Dispute.

87th Let thy carriage be such as becomes a Man Grave Settled and attentive to that which is spoken. Contradict not at every turn what others Say.

88th Be not tedious in Discourse, make not many Digressions, nor repeat often the Same manner of Discourse.

89th Speak not Evil of the absent for it is unjust.

90th Being Set at meat Scratch not neither Spit Cough or blow your Nose except there's a Necessity for it.

91st Make no Show of taking great Delight in your Victuals, Feed not with Greediness; cut your Bread with a Knife, lean not on the Table neither find fault with what you Eat.

92nd Take no Salt or cut Bread with your Knife Greasy.

93rd Entertaining any one at the table, it is decent to present him with meat; Undertake not to help others undesired by the Master.

94th If you Soak bread in the Sauce let it be no more than what you put in your Mouth at a time and blow not your broth at Table but Stay till Cools of it Self.

95th Put not your meat to your Mouth with your Knife in your hand neither Spit forth the Stones of any fruit Pie upon a Dish nor Cast anything under the table.

96th It's unbecoming to Stoop much to ones Meat Keep your Fingers clean & when foul wipe them on a Corner of your Table Napkin. Don't take so big a bite that you must chew with your mouth open.

97th Put not another bit into your mouth till the former be swallowed. Let not your morsels be too big for the jowls.

98th Drink not nor talk with your mouth full; neither gaze about you while you are drinking.

99th Drink not too leisurely nor yet too hastily. Before and after drinking, wipe your lips; breath not then or ever with too great a noise, for its uncivil.

100th Cleanse not your teeth with the table cloth napkin, fork, or knife; but if others do it, let it be done without a peep to them.

101st Rinse not your mouth in the presence of others.

102nd It is out of use to call upon the company often to eat; nor need you drink to others every time you drink.

103rd In the company of your betters, be not longer in eating than they are; lay not your arm but only your hand upon the table.

104th It belongs to the chiefest in company to unfold his napkin and fall to meat first, but he ought then to begin in time & to dispatch with dexterity that the slowest may have time allowed him.

105th Be not angry at the table whatever happens & if you have reason to be so, show it not; put on a cheerful countenance especially if there be strangers, for good humor makes one dish of meat a feast.

106th Set not yourself at the upper of the table; but if it be your due or that the master of the house will have it so, contend not, least you should trouble the company.

107th If others talk at the table, be attentive but talk not with meat in your mouth.

108th When you speak of God or his attributes, let it be seriously & with reverence. Honor & obey your natural parents although they be poor.

109th Let your recreations be manful not sinful. Don't allow yourself to become jaded, cynical or calloused.

110th Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

You Damn Yanks (A Parody)

You damn yanks....wussies.

For the past month or two...we Brits have had heard you cuss and fume over British health care....our beloved NHS. You've insulted every which way....and frankly, we're bloody tired of it.

We've lived with national health care for over fifty years and we are damn proud.

When me sister was laid up with a bad hip....she didn't whimper or play out like an American wussy....she stood her ground for eighteen months while awaiting a hip operation. She had resolve....she had a true Brit, she just gritted her teeth and trudged on.

When me brother was hurting with a smashed foot from work....he didn't act like some wussy American. He waited the eight weeks for the specialist to finally exam the find it was too late to really fix much of anything. Me brother didn't cry or get whacked out like some American.

When me cousin was waiting two months to see the specialist over her back issues.....she didn't cry daily like some wussy American.

When me neighbor was all laid up with a fever and sweats....and they had to drive him an extra 44 miles because the nearest hospital was over-utilized for the week.....he gritted his teeth and just cussed a wee bit, unlike some wussy American. After we buried him from the missed opportunity of saving his life....we didn't act like a bunch wussy Americans.

Today, as a quarter million Brits stand in the line and await specialized medical care....we aren't complaining or acting like wussy Americans. We've learned to accept pain, suffering, woes and sorrows.

You damn Yanks can have your wussy medical care, thank you please. We Brits have stood a thousand years, without complaining or acting wussy, and we aren't about to allow some damn Yanks to come around and start trouble.

In fact, if you damn Yanks decide you've enough with this "republic" experiment, and you'd like to rejoin the empire...we'd take you under the Queen's authority and put you right kindly under the NHS system. But we'd expect you act tough as nails and show some guts. We don't want any wussy boys in our system.

Well....pardon me now, Yanks. I have to run. My appointment that I made twenty-two months ago to have those six blisters on me butt removed...has finally come up. I can't afford to miss know.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Modern Era Dead Horse Management Ideas

I spent an hour this morning...pouring over "Dead Horse" management concepts....most are worthy of a major book, if folks would just bring them all together. So I found these eight concepts which fit in the modern era of management thinking:

1. Re-structuring the dead horse's reward scale to contain a performance-related element.

2. Denying the existence of the dead horse, until the story appears in the Drudge Report, upon which release ready-made PR featuring the dead horse 'in action', thus totally fooling everyone who thought the horse was dead (but it still is of course).

3. Bringing in a team of expensive external consultants to focus on dead horse optimistic views.

4. Re-branding the dead horse a 'Fair Trade Horse', and affixing prominent Fair Trade insignia to its hind-quarters.

5. Setting up a free-phone customer service hotline to handle complaints relating to the dead horse fiasco.

6. Setting up an inquiry into the dead horse, preferably headed by a dead horse and answerable to other dead horses.

7. Appointing a top advertising agency to promote the benefits of the reduced carbon hoofprint of a dead horse compared to the ridiculously out-dated and unsustainable notion of a living horse.

8. Lobbying ministers and pressure groups for the extension of European standards to encompass the special qualities of dead horses.

Ok, maybe I've beaten this "Dead Horse" long enough. I'll stop blogging on this topic.

The Raised Hands Signal

Once a PA guys raises his hands....he's pretty much giving the "fake" signal and you just need to accept what they are saying because they have nothing else to contribute.

It doesn't matter if you are a Saddam PA guy or White House PA's all pretty much the same.

I remember once in intelligence school....a brief moment of discussion on presentations and what to do or not to do. The instructor came to the hands situation.

You keep your hands low and don't allow them to be part of the "act". Unless you are pointing to something on the map or chart....don't raise them up.

Email in the Heartland

So the push is on. The White House is busy at work, pushing email to various people, all citizens of the great nation....that offers various reasons to support the White House health care plan. The email is supposed to help debunk all of the lies involved.

So this email business is supposed to sweep America and set facts straight.

I sat there, pondering this. I know the heartland. I know the people who live in the heartland. And I know that there are tens of millions of Americans who don't have a computer or internet access....NOR do they care if you offered to them free of charge.

In the state of Bama....out of people over the age of 60....I'd make a guess and say that barely ten percent have access or have a computer in the house. In the age group of 25 to 45 in the state...I'd say you'd be lucky to find fifty percent who have a computer in the house. Most have it for Johnny Junior, so he can say in school that he's got a computer. Whats Johnny Junior surfing? Mostly stupid clips on YOUTUBE and NCAA football scores.

Go out to the rural countries of the west. Out of a 1,000 residents.....maybe eighty have access to a computer....mostly to cruise hot lusty sites or to chat with women in Boston who are desperate for a Texas man.

Go out to rural Idaho. Probably half the population has a computer in the house. Of that half....thirty percent are most likely far-extremist in nature and need contact with others of their own persuasion.

Go out to Florida in the retirement communities. Almost everyone has a computer but the vast majority just use it to email back and forth with the family in Cleveland or exchange family photos. Beyond that, the computer is useless.

Go out to the rural parts of Tennessee. Probably fifty to sixty percent of the homes have one computer but it's most used for E-Bay,, and

The amusing thing about this new effort to get the message out....via that barely forty million Americans will read it. Another sixty million Americans might get it in their mailbox but that's because their liberal neighbor signed them up at the White House site (just to tick them off). Those sixty million will delete it before it's ever read.

What if a bunch of guys declare it to be spam? Well....yeah, those Yahoo and Google guys might actually accidentally trip it over into the spam box if enough guys did identify it as such.

This whole mentality of journalists and Washington DC power players....that the vast majority of America is hooked up and using the internet on a daily or weekly basis? It's bogus. It's just not happening. People have brain-washed themselves into believing that the nation is "wired".....and it simply isn't.

You could offer a brand new computer and free access to the internet to my dad....and he'd readily turn it down. There are dozens of neighbors who would likely do the same thing....unless they felt getting was a priority for them.

So quietly, off in the Ozarks a single trailer in the midst of nowhere is Sparky and Wanda....who have the only computer within a mile of the place.

They've logged on and opened up their email....and there is the president's message on health care.

They see two messages behind it on how to buy enlargement cream, guaranteed to work or double your money back.

They see another message on free vacations to Mexico if you just give your name, bank number and social security number.

They see a message on how to get a free green card and become a legal resident of America.

They see a email on certified car mechanic classes in Little Rock.

Finally, they see a email from cousin Candy who is living up in Detroit and is asking for $700 to help with a problem she has (something to do with her man whose been arrested for beating her).

They click the mass delete button and purge the whole mess. Sadly, the White House message is never read.

Thats life in the Heartland. It's fairly simple.