Tuesday, 29 September 2009

The Path

When I was sixteen...if you'd ask what occupation I wanted to be....there would have been this funny look on my face. Basically....I had no real vision or idea about life about eighteen. I look back and I was basically viewing life as one day at a time, with no plan or map.

At eighteen....it was simply the Air Force recruiter at career day at the county high school day....that gave me this tidbit of inspiration and I took the 20-page pamphlet and gazed upon my "future".

As I sat at the recruitment station in Nashville....finished with the physical and the paperwork....here was the next to last station to stop at....the point where the guy had the computer and was sliding your name by a Air Force occupation. I had done alot of planning....but hardly a moment was spent on this job business.

The recruiter guy wasn't in a hurry but this was one of those odd moments in life where you should have been prepared and I wasn't. So he asked three brief questions....do I enjoy fixing things? No.....not that much. Did I enjoy doing paperwork? No....not that much. Finally....did I enjoy working outside? Yeah....so he pulls up civil engineering jobs and points out the pavements construction field. He mentions heavy equipment, pavement, asphalt, concrete.....and then I'm sold.

It was a lousy moment in decision making but for a kid with no real plan....it was better than nothing.

So I went off to Basic, and then onto Sheppard AFB.....and they laid out the construction field. In eight brief weeks.....they taught me enough to put on a 5x8 card....honestly.

I went off to Germany and then spent two years in a laughable situation. I spent one whole year....mowing grass and trimming bushes. In the second year.....I mixed concrete and did sidewalks. There was a bit of jackhammer work....and three or four jobs with asphalt. The snow removal situation was the only bright spot but that ended when the salt spreader broke one night and I had to shovel salt from the back of a truck in freezing weather.

By the time I got to Tacoma, Washington for my next assignment....I was already thinking....this was the wrong occupation for me. I spent three months that summer of 80....pour tar on cracks along base roads. I decided that was enough. That fall....I asked to cross-train and did my research.

I ended up choosing intelligence. Don't ask why. If they'd spoken up about giving presentations or briefings....I would have realized that this was a mistake.

So roughly four years after I joined....I was in the intelligence field. For better or worse, it was the best decision I probably could have made. For thirty years, I've been around the field and done a hundred different things which were interesting in nature.

It would have been interesting if the high school counselor had actually come around in the tenth grade and done a one-on-one hour with me and made me think ahead. I might have gone onto university at 18. But that didn't happen.

I can't complain.....and I probably should be somewhat happen with the way things turned out. The curious thing would have been the what-if situation....had I stayed in civil engineering in 1980 and never left. There were so few of those guys with associate degrees or common sense.

I remember the Chief that we had at the squadron....was one of the few Chiefs in civil engineering with a bachelor's degree. This was a big deal and brought up on several occasions. If you walked around the entire squadron.....less than five enlisted guys had two-year degrees. At the rate I was going....I would have had my bachelor's degree by 1984 and probably paved my path for quick promotion for years to come.

So this is one of those moments of the year when I pause and reflect. I've made it down this trail and done fairly well. I should be happy. But for some reason....I reflect and question choices. I can't seem to get past that point.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Just a Feeling

If you follow the news...over the past week...this story out of Kentucky has been a fairly active one. What we have is a US Census worker (and part-time school teacher)....who was hanged near a local cemetery, and the word "fed" written on his chest. The authorities now confirm that he did die by asphyxiation. This is all up in the Appalachian region.

The guy? Bill Sparkman. You can't find anyone who has anything negative to say about the guy.

The word on the motive? There's meth in the county and lots of planted drug crops...so most folks are leaning toward someone finding Bill in their mess and then killing him.

I paused over this...reading almost a dozen articles on the event. No real evidence. No real suggestions. They all lead back to the meth or drug crops. The "feds" on the chest...drug crops....all red herrings, by my feelings.

I'm going out on the limb and probably making a will suggestion here...but Bill did walk out upon some kind of drug deal or crop...likely involving local law enforcement. Some local deputy....some town's police chief...was the culprit. They did the "feds" thing to make the detectives waste time on looking for bad guys in the obvious way. This was local and probably someone that Sparkman knew.

The detectives will waste an enormous amount of time....getting "vast" help from some local law authorities to pick out meth folks or drug crop farmers. Nothing will come of this except a number of arrests for drugs...not murder. After a year, most folks will label this a strange event and forget about it. Call it a feeling...but I see red herring all over this deal.

The word appeared to have been written with a felt-tip pen, Clay County Coroner Jim Trosper said Friday. He did not elaborate.

The substitute teacher, 51, was discovered Sept. 12 in a remote patch of Daniel Boone National Forest in Clay County where he was working part-time for the government. Still, law enforcement officials weren't saying Thursday whether he was working at the time of his death or whether they believed it had anything to do with his job. Authorities have so far been unable to determine if it was an accidental death, homicide, or suicide.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Just Parallel Thinking, You Know

News from Honduras today....indicates that ousted president Manuel Zelaya...who just sneaked back into the county....now proposes to install a parallel government in Honduras.

With elections barely ten weeks away....he's fairly desperate now to regain his slot...but since he can't run and he can't get the military to support him...things look dismal.

So I sat and paused here....a parallel government...quiet creative, in my mind. So I pondered this for a while.

Does this mean that parallel taxes are also collected?

Would there be parallel Czars appointed?

Would a parallel passport be required?

Would a parallel representative to the UN be appointed?

Would President Obama recognize a parallel leader in one country but not another?

Would you have to have parallel car tags to drive in Honduras?

Would a parallel constitution come to exist?

Would parallel parking be any easier in a parallel land?

Would life be improved in a parallel land?

Could a out-of-world former third-world dictator really be powerful in a parallel situation?

Would you vote in a parallel election...and if so....are there other parallel parties?

This begs questions...better left till after the NCAA football season ends.

The Ongoing Nuke Saga with Iran

So to pause and stand back from this entire story of the past four days....and ponder.

First, for an extended period.....Iran has had this second uranium enrichment facility under wraps. They had this belief that a vast amount of security was covering the trail and that no one knew about this facility. Based on news reports.....the US has known about it for a fairly long period of time. For Iran....they now have to wonder what else the US has known about for a while and just not spoken about. Every order, every directive, every single secret.....just might be under observation.

Second, there are probably eight neighbors around Iran and Pakistan, who don't have nuclear weapons, but they are thinking now of what it takes to get them. Saudi Arabia with nukes within five years? Syria with nukes in five years? Turkey with nukes in five years? Georgia with nukes in five years? I'd start to think long and hard over that.

Third, this week....some suggestion that Iran might help Venezuela develop it's own "peaceful nukes program". If you were Brazil or Colombia.....you probably started asking yourself how you would counter this. The US? I would have doubts that they can allow it to go past a certain point. This opens up an entire can of worms on what happens in Latin America with nuclear energy and possibly nuclear weapons.

Fourth and final, at the rate things are going.....you can forecast a nuclear weapon going off somewhere in the world within ten years. The question is....once it goes off.....this bring everyone back to reality or make them double their efforts to have their own nukes? This isn't the 1950s and I suspect that we are looking a period where nuke fallout might be something to get used to. Fallout shelters might actually make a comeback.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

The 3-Ply Saga


This week....quietly....there came Quilted Northern Ultra Plush. QNUP is the toilet paper that you'd weep over. It is the first big brand name....to go three-ply and three-adjective.

Naturally, environmentalists are upset. More trees cut....more waste. It just ain't right....at least in their mind.

The best quote on this?

"It's like the Hummer product for the paper industry," said Allen Hershkowitz, senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council. "We don't need old-growth forests . . . to wipe our behinds."

I sat and paused over this. I'm former military....retired....and I've used some paper that would make Grandma nauseous and sick over. I rode German trains in 1978 and there was the sand-paper left for you to use there....which would bring out blood if it was a nasty wipe. I've used single-ply paper in the desert of Saudi Arabia during the "big war"....Gulf War I. With the single ply....an entire roll lasted 36 hours at the very most....for one guy. We had some toilet paper at the office building in Panama that would literally dissolve on your butt the minute it hit any moisture.

So here is someone....offering a 3-ply toilet paper? I sat and paused over this. The problem is....flushing. I'm already going to be that a good 18-inch "rip" will clog up the toilet easily. We might all have to get used to just a 9-inch "rip" and hope that does the job.

I realize some of you are in lesser unfortunate areas....without a Piggly Wiggly or a Wal-Mart....and you may not be privileged enough get some of this stuff. My advice? Go online with Amazon and just order the stuff to be delivered to your house. Make sure it's like six packages of the stuff. And make sure all the neighbors see you getting the 3-ply stuff. They will be envious with rage as you describe the comfort levle with the new paper. And if they ask for a roll.....just to test....it would be neighborly of you to offer up one.

A true southerner would never turn down a neighbor asking for a roll.

Friday, 25 September 2009

The Libyan Boss

This was the week that Libya's Khadafy came to New York and was supposed to deliver a simple 15 minute presentation on whatever was on his mind. As a bigwig of a country....once a year....you get this one chance.

So you would have thought....someone from the Libyan staff would have sat down and gone over the speech...to ensure everything was smooth.

In the end....this speech ran for around 100 minutes.

In fact, it was a rambling speech...that went on and on and on. The thing is...Khadafy didn't trust the UN translation staff...so he brought his own translator. The reasoning? He claimed in the planning process that he was speaking a special dialect....of which only the personal translator would understand. Most of the experienced folks later said there wasn't anything special about this accent.

This rambling episode went to such an extreme....that about 75 minutes into it....the Khadafy translator suddenly spoke out in Arabic: "I just can’t take it any more."

He left the room.

The UN's top Arabic speaker, Rasha Ajalyaqeen, stepped up and then did the final twenty minutes of the speech.

The quote I like from the NY Post:

"He’s not exactly the most lucid speaker," another Arabic interpreter said. "It’s not just that what he’s saying is illogical, but the way he’s saying it is bizarre. However, I think I could have made him sound a lot better."

Khadafy has a habit of repeating the same phrase over and over again, "which is good because if you don’t understand what he says the first time you can get it right the second or third time," the interpreter said.


You have to feel sorry for these Libyans....here's some dude who is certifiably nuts and ought to be in a resort nut house. Instead, he runs around making speeches at the UN and visiting VIPs in Rome. Luckily, they don't do a vote process there in Libya.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Nukes

Today was an interesting day for discussions on nuclear weapons. The President made his pitch and everyone is now all hot to have a nuclear weapon-free world. Folks are weeping and journalists are grinning from ear to ear.

It's an interesting over this nuke talk. Only two nuclear bombs have ever been utilized....both under the concept that a land battle in Japan meant tens of thousands of dead American GI's. Some analyst have even suggested over 100,000 American GI's would have been either dead or wounded from such an invasion.

The plain truth is that you don't need nukes to fight wars. We've proven this over two thousand years. Had the Germans or Japanese used nukes on us in 1943....it would have swung the war into a different prospective, but in the end....it was industrial strength of the US and simple tactics.....that gained the upper hand for the US and would been the eventual result in this alternate episode.

Quiet simply, the US could fight some opponent who used nukes while we acted out this "good guy" routine and simply fought the pre-1944 way. The cost? This would invite an interesting scenario.

Imagine yourself as a president who has suddenly been threaten by a nuclear-power while you hold no nukes. The public support? It would go to virtually zero overnight. Americans across the entire spectrum would demand nuclear weapons immediately. Your only saving grace would be the fact that we could probably manufacture new nuclear weapons in a matter of weeks.

So I think this chatter this week is pretty neat. We are trying to simplify some version of war that we find disgusting. The problem is.....losing a war.....is far more disgusting.

Honduras and Deposed President Zelaya

Straight from Fox today:

Honduras' deposed leader is sleeping on an air mattress. His "roommates" have not bathed, shaved or changed their clothes in three days. Tap water is scarce and dinner is limited to dry biscuits or rice and beans.

I sat there for a minute....looking at the Fox headline...."inhuman conditions", and kept thinking....you know...you walk into a outhouse to take a crap....what else would you kinda expect at this point in time?

I don't get it.

Then these journalists whine about the dry biscuits and rice & beans? Have they ever tagged along with real folks in Honduras? Were these guys expecting bottled water and fancy food if they played this "exclusive" game and camped with Zelaya?

I think I were them....I'd start thinking about a 10-week period that Zelaya might be there....until the election is complete....and things might start stinking a bit if they stayed that long. My guess is these guys will admit they aren't real journalists, and pack up in five days to cover some parade in Bolivia or some cattle auction in Peru.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Doing the Salsa in Honduras

If you were a betting man, you would have betted that ousted Honduran President Zelaya would have eventually sneaked back in. Today, we can pretty much confirm this.

The funny thing is that he basically got over to the Brazilian Embassy on Tuesday….then said he feared for his life as heavily armed soldiers marched outside and choppers filled the sky. Naturally, in a position like this….the dude comes out and says: “We are ready to risk everything, to sacrifice.”

The standing President….a temp guy and he readily admits he’s a temp until the election in December….thinks that a warrant can be served onto Brazil to hand the guy over. Some folks think that embassy areas are a safe-heaven of sorts and you can’t do much about this.

Zelaya is racing against time. Once the election is held….he’s the odd guy out under all rules of the game. Even the US and it’s pretender status on the subject….will be stuck honoring the real elected new President.

Political parties in Honduras? They are fairly active and doing the normal campaign business. Few really see Zelaya in some return-capacity.

My advice to Honduras? You’ve got the guy in a pretty neat position. Jam all cellphones in the local area. Turn off the telephone cables leading into the compound and just mount a hand-phone at the front gate for the Brazilian ambassador to use if he really wants to make calls. Keep around 300 armed guards to ensure the guy doesn’t move. And finally….arrange for a media camp about two miles away….so the journalists have to walk two miles to the site whenever they want video.

The name of this game is to make Zelaya sit in a Brazilian embassy for about ten weeks and drink their beer. Without the media or cellphone access….he has no access to the world and is in the midst of nowhere. The nifty thing....after ten weeks? He might actually know a couple of Brazilian Salsa steps and be a prime candidate for Dancing with the Stars.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

The Elevator and Me

I had a unique experience this week. I had four pallets of heavy computer gear. We took four young NCO’s and went to a building on Ramstein to store the pallets. They have to move to the second floor….which luckily, there is a industrial elevator. So I push this cart onto the elevator, with two of my junior NCO’s. You can only go from floor one to floor two.

Somewhere in-between floor one and floor two….the damn elevator stops.

You can imagine the look on my face.

It’s not moving.

We’ve got about a 1,000 pounds in cargo, and three of us guys. I’m looking at the damn spec’s and the elevator could have handled our combined weight by double the weight that we had.

I’m standing now and thinking about the last coffee I had and whether there are any bodily functions that might occur shortly. I felt around…..I felt safe.

My associate near the buttons….got the “triple-finger” complex and began to eyeball the instructions on the door. It was in German and English. Three basic lines: (1) hit reset, (2) hit floor number, and (3) If process doesn’t work, repeat.

My associate then began jamming the buttons left and right. He probably hit the reset button thirty times in one minute.

Nothing moved.

My third associate was quietly sitting and just observing….leaning against the close proximity of the sidewall and the end door.

Minutes passed.

Our associates on the third floor, who had walked up….were asking if we had issues and they were getting to the point of calling the emergency folks. I could see myself sitting there for an hour or two.

Then….one of these button punches suddenly launched us six inches up. Then we stopped again. Five punches later….we launched another six inches up. We had around eight feet to make up now….to reach the civilized world.

At some point here….I’m looking at my associate leaning against the door area….and realizing the sensors are right there. I asked him to lean my way and suddenly we have no problems and go to the top floor in a second or two.

Yep, we were serious trouble….because he leaned against the door.

Luckily for me….that coffee hadn’t processed through my system yet.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Another Bail-Out?

It is an interesting story to come out today. You probably won't see it on CNN or Fox...but the White House is letting folks know that they would support a bail-out for newspapers.

What they are saying....is between the current economic situation and spiraling revenue fall.....newspapers across the country are showing the potential to fail. And if they aren't in the failure mode....then they've cut staff and journalist's salaries to survive.

What I find curious about this....almost all of the papers have been showing a decline for the past decade. This trend now....isn't something triggered by the Feb/Mar bank failures....it's long-term and has almost nothing to do with the current economy.

A number of these papers had a deep pool of four-star journalists on hand.....who reported little on the local town....and instead keyed in on national politics or state politics. They were paying three or four guys over $200k each....and the articles generated were barely read by ten percent of the newspaper's readers. It became a charity operation where journalists were simply hired and pretending to give the newspaper real "fill".

Adding to this mess was the general political agenda by the bulk of these papers in the spiraling column. Rather than try to stay neutral or show both sides of a debate...some of these papers figured their readers were mostly liberal or just waiting to accept anything they said. As subscribers dropped out....the papers guessed by that point where they were screwing up....but couldn't fix anything. It was too late.

So here we are....a national newspaper bail-out plan being planted as possible and would be supported by the President. If you were going to take bets....I'd be betting that the Republicans have zero interest....and ten percent of the Democrats in the House might be questioning how smart this would be at this point in time.

The curious thing about this spiral....a number of big-name writers are facing either a pay-cut or being laid off in 2010 (an election year). They've likely called in every marker possible because they really can't afford a $40k pay-cut and it'd be total disaster for them on the job market next year. After all.....what does a former top reporter for the LA Times making $160k a year do now when he's unemployed?

Eventually, we'll even have CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS and NBC calling for bail-out.....with Fox smiling as they report it.

Musical Chairs

News reports today indicate that New York Governor David Paterson hasn’t yet given up on the idea of running for governor in 2010. Apparently, the phone chat with President Obama didn’t dent his spark on this whole thing.

I’m suspecting that he wants an offer for some think-tank or Czar job....before he truly gives up on the governor idea.

Naturally, this whole gameplan for the White House has musical chairs attached to it. There is Paterson stepping down and Hillary leaving the State Department job. Then there’s some other senator sitting in the wings who becomes the next Secretary of State. Then we have some guy sitting in some state who going to be appointed by the Democratic governor to the Senator’s position.

The amount of Presidential interest in Massachusetts....likely plays into this entire mess. Imagine John Kerry being offered the Secretary of State’s job. If the state senate passes this stupid change to the change to the change rule....allowing the state governor to appoint someone before the election....then this all fits.

So my prediction is that Hillary gives notice in December that she’s leaving in January....and that John Kerry is picked as the new Secretary of State. The neat thing about this is that Patrick Kennedy gets the first nod, and possible Vicki Kennedy....widow of Ted....gets the second nod. So we suddenly end up with two Kennedys for the state.

And Paterson? Surely, there is a Czar job for the guy....somewhere....somehow.

KMCC & the Grand Opening of the BX

For those who aren't in the know....our mega mall center on Ramstein has come to the last phase.

So today, it was the final big grand opening of the KMCC BX.

After all those years, I suddenly had this feeling that I had been living in Bolivia, and now, I was in the Promised Land. Here were Army wives in the Victoria’s Secret area and they were gorgeous, with it feeling like the streets of Miami for a brief second. Here were mountains of snow shovels (really just the same two varieties, just sixty of each on display). Here were the aisles and aisles of stuff…yes, lots of stuff.

Frankly, after thirty minutes….I started to feel faint and this was all too much for me. So I walked out the side door and figured I’d revisit the Sports Bar. That was a mistake.

I walked into the Sports Bar at the KMCC….and sat down. I figured….after three minutes, someone would come. This was noon, and less than forty people in the whole place. Five minutes passed. Eight minutes passed. Finally at the ten minute point…I stood up, and walked out. They had four waitresses walking around but the best I could figure….they were on some kind of schedule that didn’t involve me.

So I walked down and had a Cinnabon and soda. And then I sat and simply watched people.

This was the best part of the 70 minutes I spent at the KMCC. If you sit there at the Cinnabon shop….you end up seeing dozens of people every minute who walk by. It’s almost that feeling you’d have in an American mall of sorts.

So I give positive marks over the KMCC BX operation. It will be this “magnet” of sorts….dragging poor folks from Graf, Wiesbaden and Stuttgart. The amusing thing is that they have significant parking issues and I’m curious how this works in early December with Xmas shoppers.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

We've Come to Conquer, Quietly


Somewhere, amongst nuclear chatter, missile news, worried statesman, and confused middle eastern media folks, this week...the biggest event of the past decade came to Iran.

The powers that control the country...finally decided to accept one TV series....to be dubbed into Farsi. Lost.

Yes, Lost is being brought into Iran. The series with winks, twists, demons, and polar bears....is coming to Iran.

Most Iranians admit that the pirated-DVD version has been across the country for several years....but this will be a televised event...in their own language.

The guys in charge? They've vowed to censor certain scenes...obviously the "un-Islamic" moments....but that might only total a minute per show.

My prediction? I think you are about to get people sitting there in Iran and finally thinking. If "A" exists and "B" happens...what's the next key junction? The series begs for you to think and ponder. It's the greatest threat to Islamic thinking in 2,000 years.

Imagine an entire generation of Iranians being introduced to Sawyer...and picking up a book to read.

Imagine an entire generation of Iranians learning to hate a guy named Ben....just because.

Imagine an entire generation of Iranians loving a guy named Hurley.

Imagine an entire country changing....because of the pen, and not the sword. Yes, we've unleashed the mighty "Lost" upon Iran....and things just won't be the same.

Sometimes, Numbers Matter

I read alot on statistics. Sometimes...they make perfect sense. Sometimes...they really spoil the facts completely.

The Rasmussen folks sat down this week...with a bunch of the public who don't have health insurance of any type. They asked these folks questions.

Consider these statistics(504 participants):

- 58% favor passage of the health care plan proposed by President Obama and Congressional Democrats.

- 35% opposed passage.

- Only 30% strongly favored the plan, while only 26% strongly opposed it.

- From this group, 44% admitted they were conservatives,while 26% admitted they were moderates, and 27% admitted they were liberal.

- Curiously, 68% of the conservatives opposed the plan, while 88% of the liberals favored it.

- Then we came to the last and most interesting part of the data collected...35% think that if the legislation passes...the quality of health care will improve. 31% said it would get worse.

Sometimes, a statistic can tell a story...but you really have to grasp what was collected and how the numbers were arranged.

You would think that one hundred percent of the folks without health care insurance...would be happy to have the government program. Frankly, I would have expected nothing less. So across the lines...that's not the case.

On a forum I often visit...someone who works in the health care sales arena...came to chat for a second on the folks who have the money to buy insurance but don't do it: (1) they typically don’t think they need it; (2) some feel if they were diagnosed with a major illness...they could still sign up and get it (a faulty thinking); (3) some think that some undefinable government program will pay the medical bills; and finally (4) these folks will sign up just as soon as they pay for the two new $35k cars, their two new snowmobiles, and their new bassboat.

Out of these 35 million who don't have insurance....it would be curious to know who has the money to buy it but simply said "no".

At this point, with these numbers....out of the 35 million with no insurance...fifteen million are likely Republicans and two-thirds of them really have no desire for any kind of help or government-enforced program.

This survey probably didn't help the President much, and it probably forces alot of us to start thinking over who the 35 million really are. We might discover that it's a group of 9 million who really need serious help....and we could fix this with a simple government co-op plan with a little bit of government assistance....thus avoiding one big mess.

Anarchy?

There is a mythical point where a gun expert stands up...and admits he knows nothing about shrubbery or Chinese art.

There is a mythical point where a blacksmith stands up...and admits he knows nothing about diesel mechanics or deep sea fishing.

There is a point where a Bama football coach will stand up...and admits he knows nothing about astrology or French women.

This week....there was an interesting UN report to come out. A bunch of medical folks working for the UN...stood up and said upcoming swine-flu pandemic could possibly result in worldwide anarchy. Naturally, they then suggested that the only way to prevent this anarchy...was for rich western countries (note: they didn't mention the US but you can assume we are in the group)....to pay for antiviral drugs and vaccines.

The UN medical guys said that this upcoming flu pandemic ought to kill millions and trigger anarchy all around the poor sections of the world. Naturally, they've attached the cost to their report (it was kind of them)....well over the $2 billion range).

I sat there for a while pondering this report. First...since we've tossed billions away....and even spent $3 billion on the cars for clunkers program....$2 billion is a drop in the bucket. We ought to just tell the other rich countries to stay home and we'll cover this with our imaginary revolving bank account. But then, I started thinking.

What exactly do medical guys know about fragile governments?

What classes in anarchy did these medical guys have in university?

What are the basic relationships between anarchy and pandemics? Are there any relationships at all?

About two years ago, I sat down and read a fair amount on the 1918 flu episode. It's a strange thing...you can't find any real governmental shifts on the face of the Earth. Tens of millions died...but no states of anarchy came to exist. Yes, some political figures came to pass...but it's a strange thing...there were people to fill in and simply continue the bureaucratic mess.

Then I turned around and read up on the flu virus vaccine that the smart guys currently advocate. It's not guaranteed to work on everyone...in fact, testing has been a lousy subject to discuss over this vaccine. Some intelligent folks have said that it might only help half the population...and it's effectiveness ranges up and down the scale. So if you did spend a lousy $2 billion....half of that might be worthless in nature.

So after a brief pause and pondering....I've come to realize that UN medical folks worry about alot of things. Some of these might not be within their expertise.

True Grit

The Cohen Brothers....famous for "Raising Arizona", "The Big Lebowski", and "Blood Sample".....have decided upon another project, which interested me this week. They are remaking "True Grit".

If I were to be asked.....this is probably an untouchable movie. John Wayne took the story....and with some charm from Kim Darby and Glen Campbell.....turned it into a decent western (no, it really wasn't his best work, but the Oscar folks still had a debt to pay anyway).

From the distance.....True Grit's story was a five-star piece of material. It was a great story....told at a very leisurely pace. You had to love "Rooster". You had to beg for revenge. You had to shed a tear for Glen Campbell's character in the end.

Who play's Cohen's "Rooster"? An interesting twist....with Jeff Bridges. The rest of the cast? Unknown.

Who would I pick for La Boeuf (Glen Campbell's character)? I'd look for an actual authentic French actor....with an accent as thick as you can probably make it.

True Grit ended up being a classic of sorts....more for the story and John Wayne....than anything else. Maybe the Cohen's can do something radical here and turn it into a five-star piece.....maybe.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Fox: The Bully

This week....Fox news decided to come out and ask some folks how they missed reporting a story.

This really upset some folks over at CNN. They spend twenty-four hours a day....telling eight stories over and over and over and over....and it's really upsetting to think that Fox could just walk in and ask a stupid question like this.

Frankly, ABC feels the same way. They spend twenty-four hours building an entire 22-minute news episode.....with the newest President Obama angles, the newest juicy President Obama tidbits, and the newest inspirations from the White House. Frankly, they just don't have time to waste on stupid people from the heartland.

From CBS....Katie is running her butt off....trying hard to tell twelve lousy stories that barely work. There are hundreds of writes and rewrites....with barely any croissants or jelly now available because CBS cut the budget even more. Adding to her frustration.....while being number three of the three network news teams....she is constantly now being given medals, awards, and knickknacks for her hot style of reporting worthy news.

From NBC.....it's a tough deal.....they barely can report anything with a straight face. They keep wanting to insist on exclusive news bits but then you turn to Fox and find the same damn story. The NBC guys are always on the prowl for some Republican governor who claims off to the Appalachian Trail....so they can note his party on the magic line....but work extra hard to erase any party mention of any Democratic Senator caught in a corruption episode.

From MSNBC....they are mostly weeping over this accusation by Fox. They tried hard to tell the story but everytime they mentioned a mere 10,000 spectators at the Washington DC "Tea Party"....everyone in the background started snickering. Then they tried to do interviews with the nutcases, but they call came across as regular heartland folks so they had to trash those interviews. Then they tried to find some radicals but they got kicked out of the area for looking like fake journalists.

Finally....the group that Fox wouldn't mention....NPR....well....they would have covered it but they were all at the Peabody or Wolfe-Jones-Smith or Calisle Group awards ceremony. Several of the bigname NPR folks were simply out of country....looking at fresh melted glacier water at the South Pole. A couple of guys were sharing some pinecone treats at a foresty rehab party in Idaho. And finally four of the NPR guys were in Red Bay, Bama grilling catfish and guzzling beer...and telling everyone how they fake out the NPR management by pretending to be liberal but they aren't.

Fox.....it is shame that you bring with this ad. You shouldn't pick on the little guys like this. They all have reasons for their failure....you should just let it stand.

Finally....frankly.....for Rick Sanchez of CNN....who tried his best to defend against the immortal Fox team.....get more emotional. You looked too professional. You need to show some tears....get irate....slam your shoe on the desk.....and tell the public that you won't take this bullying anymore. Then vow to walk with the "Tea Party" folks to the gates of hell. I realize this is asking for alot.....but for CNN's sake.....it just might be fake enough to convince folks you are actually neutral.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Either Way, You Could Lose

This week....the American Journal of Public Health estimated that 45,000 deaths per year...come about in the heartland of America....because of lack of health insurance. I paused over that number for several minutes. I pondered for a while.

You know, if you spend twenty years in the Air Force...you start to notice another interesting statistic...although I can't project the number.

I worked with a senior NCO who felt he had a light case of flu in the late afternoon. The next morning...he got up and felt light-headed and just called in and said he was taking the day off (it’s typically mandatory that you go to sick-call before you get the day off). Four hours later....he died of a heart attack.

I knew another senior NCO...was light-headed all day long...took six to eight aspirin. Went home around 4PM, and around 10PM that night...had a heart attack in the shower of his house.

I knew a senior officer who felt sick all day long...got into his car around 5PM...and had a heart attack half way home.

I knew a guy who spent months complaining about exhaustion but never went to a doctor on base about it. When he finally did...he was dying of cancer and had barely three months left to live.

Everyone of them...had free and competent health care....compliments of the US government. Heck, we have the best ambulance crews in America. We have every advanced medical testing device within every single base medical facility.

None of these guys used what was their best benefit.

I think I can match the 45,000 folks who died because they didn't have universal health care....with another 45,000 folks who had lots of health care, and didn't damn use it.

Statistics are a lousy game. Once you open Pandora's box....things come out that would be best left alone.

Why Contractor Work Sucks

My company...which shall remain nameless....came up this morning (it is timecard day, you know)….and dictated a last-minute change. Apparently, the company that runs the time-card service has issued the requirement to note COLA (cost of living allowance). For those not in the contractor business…it’s basically an allowance to cover extra costs of living in Germany. Don’t worry….you can’t get rich off this….and if you were lucky….you might be able to pay your rent with this total monthly sum.

So they gave us an imaginary COLA charge number. Then they want us to mark each single day with a “1”…..to include Saturdays and Sundays. At the end, it doesn’t add anything whatsoever….so it’s just an imaginary charge number, for imaginary charge days, for COLA.

We all wasted twenty minutes each….figuring out the instructions this morning and resubmitting our timecards.

IF you fail to put a “1” in each single column….you get docked that day’s percentage of COLA. It would have to be corrected, but it’d take an entire pay period to correct that. Course, they didn't say if I could just write 14 in the first block and just forget about this entire game for the rest of the two weeks.

No one from company leadership can explain the logic to this….except to do it….each and everyday. Curious how they would do this….on a timecard submission day. I checked my contract….I’m paid COLA by my monthly pay….not by days worked….so nothing makes any sense.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

My Ten Tips on Education

For the last year or two....I've wasted some hours pondering education in America.....and I've come to view ten basic points.

First, forget twelve year programs. It's a magic number of no significance. Gear up schools for a normal first grade to sixth grade program, but start to shift the gears in the seventh through ninth grades. The ability to reason, the ability think independently, and the ability to grasp what's being said....ought to be driving the major topics that you teach. Then you set an enormous standard....the tenth grade is the final point, with a option year in the eleventh year as possible. You are graduating the kid at 16 from school and avoid two entire years of wasted time that we currently do today. Figure thirty percent of the kids accept the challenge and finish early....with the remainder at the eleventh grade. You cut costs and teachers.

Second, dump competitive school sports. If the community wants to offer a program....fine. Otherwise, your goal as a school.....is not sports....it's to educate, period.

Third, at the end of the seventh grade....you bring the parents in. You have a simple policy for the eighth grade and beyond. If the punk kid won't cooperate in class....they get sent home....everyday if necessary. The school isn't a baby-sitter operation. If a punk won't cooperate, it's the parents agenda to discipline. The school gets seven years of baby-sitting, and then no more.

Fourth, after you graduate the 10th grade, you get one year of technical school, trade school, community college or four-year college....free of charge (in your state). The state pays the first year. After that....the state covers only the tech school or trade school.

Fifth, around the eight grade.....offer up an entire semester of Greek opera and readings. Discuss Socrates, Plato and the dead Greeks.

Sixth, around the ninth grade....offer up a six-week period of Roman history and its successes and failures.

Seventh, around the ninth grade.....set up a two-year physical training program....complete with walking, set-ups, and stretching. Make it clear....it's a daily thing and they can't avoid it.

Eighth, mandate American classics and literature in the sixth and seventh grades. Each kid has to finish one book read every six weeks with a complete report.

Ninth, show slacker teachers the door. You don't need them.

Tenth and final......admit we've dumbed down high schools, community colleges and four-year colleges. Our motive isn't to fix this with hundreds of millions of dollars. We are going to reverse engineer this entire mess. Teach and move the kids along.

Skool

Some really neat things in education this week.

First, our education experts in Seattle have finally determined that a kid with a "D" average...will graduate from high school. The underlining argument? Way too many kids making a "D" and they just can't keep them another year. You understand of course? It just ain't right.

So the neat thing is that you can hold a kid into the 12th grade...for a whole year...bored out of his mind....to make this "D" average....and it's perfectly ok.

The second story? Our folks in Bama finally sat down and realized that kids just weren't passing the state high school graduation exam. So they are phasing it out by 2015.

The state board apparently approved this change today. The deal now? The schools will use the end-of-course exams from required subjects. The old method was this fascinating graduation exam to qualify for a diploma. What they discovered...was that some kids could pass the end-of-course classes, but couldn't pass this graduation exam.

The curious thing is that around eight percent of the kids failed the exam every year.

I pondered on this and got curious...just how tough was the Bama exam? So I went and found the example on the internet. I took ten questions from the social studies area and ten questions from math.

Frankly, the math problems challenged me...but since they gave you four choices of the answer...it's really not that difficult. I noticed that the three wrong answers were all drastically far off from the answer....so if you got anywhere near the right answer...then you could pick the right damn answer.

As for the social studies test? Half the ten were things that I had absolutely no idea about and would have taken a guess on. I kinda felt silly because I'm fairly deep into history and government. The other answers were child's play and not challenging at all.

The Bama guys then tossed in a curve. They want to pay $75 for the ACT test and get every kid in Bama lined up for higher education.

I kinda laughed over this. At best, from my old high school....there might have been 8 kids of 75 who would have done something in a real 4-year college. Twenty of us would have been community college candidates (if it had existed then).

I'd be the last to say that sending a massive number of kids onto college is a smart idea. Frankly, you end up needing a fairly healthy spread of kids across the spectrum...working at Wal-Mart and on up to Nuclear power facilities.

So we've got two changes underway....and neither really sends a great positive signal on education in America.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

ACORN: Bama Parody

So there in the midst of Red Bay....at the local ACORN office, Jim and Candy walk in. They’ve come to get the “jest” on a fake farm. Jim and Candy are urban folks, with a fascination on getting various tax credits for fake farms. To be honest, Jim and Candy are working for them Republican-funded programs and just plain bogus in nature.

So Juanita stands there and winks at them....while Jim and Candy’s video camera is capturing all of the chit-chat.

Jim explains that he’s heard about fantastic tax credits....and Juanita just grins. She explains that yes....you can fake a farm and just pretend to exist....all legal.
Candy is wearing a skimpy farmer outfit and admiring the fancy farm pictures there in the background.

So Juanita explains...you basically go and get yourself fifteen acres of property....hopefully already farm-capable. Then you have a couple of choices.

First, you can put six cows or twenty goats on the property and just pretend to have pasture property. You call it a ranch or cattle property. Then you buy up a tractor which you use for mowing grass or doing regular garage or shed work, but pretend it’s for actual farm work.

Second, you pretend it’s a forested area and you get seedlings from the state forestry guy for almost no cost and just plant them up and down the pasture area. Whether they grow or mature ever....doesn’t matter. These could be pine or apple or cherry trees....it don’t matter. Again, you buy a tractor as part of the deal and pretend it’s for the actual farm work but you use it around the house.

Third, you pretend to plant something on the acreage. You’d prefer watermelons because then you could sell a whole truckload without any paperwork and claim $200 profit while you spent $1500 on the crop. So then you could get a loss on the whole deal and claim another credit.

Jim and Candy are winking at each other....all hot over this fake farm stuff. Juanita is simply explaining the reality of government benefits. Frankly.....it’s all legal.

At the end, Jim and Candy walk out and run off to their independent studio and announce to the world that ACORN has shown them the secrets of the fake farming businesses. Naturally, a bunch of senators are very upset and terribly bent-of-shape. They start to jump all over ACORN for this terrible, terrible mess. But here’s the funny thing. The tricks that Juanita and ACORN showed? They are legit. They are legal. No one is coming to investigate anyone. The cops don’t care. The IRS guys aren’t capable of understanding this mess. It’s all pretty much going to continue.

So for you guys sitting around Bama.....running your fake farms....rest assured....things are staying the same....even if the slinky hot lusty Candy does convince ACORN Red Bay to hand over the state secrets on fake farms.

This is life in reality.

Lets Get Ready To RUMBLE!!!!


Senator Chris Dodd from Connecticut has had a lousy year...and his chances of winning 2010’s election gets worse day by day.

Today, WWE wrestling CEO....Linda McMahon (wife of Vince...the King of wrestling)....has declared herself up for the Republican nomination and vowing to spend only personal money of her own. It was a laugh or two today as this popped up and folks kinda joke about this.

First, she has to beat the two leading Republican contenders. They might have political charm but she’s the one with common sense and a business background. I think she could beat those two guys.

Then comes the match with Chris. If Linda were to call out Hulk Hogan and go for the underbelly of 18-25 year old votes in the state...she just might capture 80 percent of them. Chris is old school and pretty much lost in this new world. His corruption factor is pumping eight right now on the scale to ten.

I’m fairly sure that Chris will talk down on the wrestling trade, but all Linda has to do is say the word “politician”, and suddenly someone else is more stinky with the public. I think Chris is about to meet his match....and he’s totally unable to compete at her level.

Pure Absolute Racism (Sorta)

Pretty nifty news today. Former President Jimmy Carter wanted everyone to know that U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson's outburst (the “you lie” outburst).....at the speech last week....can only be attributed to an act "based on racism". He then insisted this all related to fears of a black president.

Jimmy’s comments: "I think it's based on racism. There is an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president."

Jimmy says this is all a terrible and disturbing trend. Sadly, it’s includes now some folks who equate the President to Nazi leaders.

I couldn’t agree more.

Yes, I saw this disturbing trend back in 2003 and 2004....and it’s precisely how former President Carter describes it. In fact, at one point, former President Carter even communicated some borderline racist comments toward President Bush.

While he avoided the Nazi comments.....there were plenty of other folks who just can’t get over the WW II, Hitler, Nazis, and the evil Germany.

So there is still a strong anti-Nazi sentiment in America.....fifty years after the war ended. Surprisingly enough, if you asked half the population who was the American President during this Nazi period.....most could not answer. But the same group would readily refer to Bush or Cheney or Obama as “Hitler-like” or “Nazis”.

Yes, that is our world....and frankly....if President Carter has any more wisdom that he’d like to share....go for it. No one much listened to him in the 1970s....and not much has changed in thirty years.

Here’s the thing....once anyone utters any critical comment against a Latino, Asian, French, German, Swiss, or Black guy.....he’s committed a “Carter-violation”. You simply can’t criticize folks....period. We all need to grasp this and just nod our heads....accepting whatever is put before us....no matter how strong our argument against this person or their political agenda is.

In 1932....this was the trick used in Germany, and it worked wonders. I think we could easily accept this mentality and move forward. Naive Germans accepted it....we aren't much better....apparently.

Bad Durkheim: A Little Experience

My associate at work....went out last weekend to Bad Durkheim. For those of you who may not realize it....it’s wine fest time there. Frankly, the chief purpose of this fest is drink a fair amount of wine.

So he arrives there with his wife and her friend. They walk into the fest tent and see a table with two couples at one end.....an old guy in the middle....and open at the end. So that sat down.

It took barely a minute for the old guy to start jabbering away at them....in some unknown language. It wasn’t German, French, or Italian. They though it might be Flemish but never knew. The guy was in his 70’s....and kept talking while they kindly tried to make him understand that they didn’t understand a damn thing.

So after the drinks were served and this guy was continuing to try to talk to them....they decided to move to another table. Then the old guy grabbed the arm of the wife’s friend. My associate realized that things were a bit more testy than originally thought. So he came around and got the guy to release her and he was about to turn and leave....when the old guy grabbed his shirt and got a firm grip on him.

There was this brief discussion between my associate....retired navy (he’s been in a fight or two in his navy days)....and the old guy. One in English....the other in some unknown language.

My associate wanted to punch the guy but this reality of getting his name in the base paper (“contractor beating defenseless old Flemish man” was in his mind).

So then my associate turned toward the bartender and yelled “polizei”.....probably about twenty or thirty times....figuring the bartender or someone there would see the problem and call the cops.

Nothing occurred. In typical German fashion....they did NOTHING. They merely watched.

Finally....after a minute of this yelling....some German waitress came over and waved a white hanky in front of the guy....and as if by “magic”....he turned loose. My associate, his wife and friend then paid, drank the wine, and left.

The old guy went back up front to buy another drink but they wouldn’t serve him anymore. So he went to the next fest tent.

Stuff like this happens at wine or beer fests. The only advice you can give...is not to swing a fist at someone....and maybe carry a white hanky in your pocket.

Ted's Legacy

For those who kinda missed any mention on ABC, CBS, NBC or MSNBC of the Massachusetts Senate situation....the White House is now pressing hard to get the state to for a law change to fill Kennedy’s Senate seat until the 19 January special election is held.

Will there be a change? For some reason....a number of the players from the state senate there aren’t talking and aren’t really pumped up to make a change. There is some fear that the governor would appoint Ted’s wife or Ted’s nephew (another Kennedy in name). Some folks keep saying that they’d naturally name the old governor....Michael Dukakis or the former DNC Chairman Paul Kirk (both considered just temps).

The amusing thing here is that some folks think the temp bait is just that....and that Vicki would get the call in the end.

The urgency here? The White House needs just about every available liberal democrat....alive or half-dead (let’s not discuss names here)....to get the medical care program passed. They figure that at least eight democrats are now standing against the program. So Ted’s replacement is desperately needed now.

My impression? I think the top guys of the Massachusetts state senate are smiling because they want something....and someone is going to have to come up with that before they make a move. It’s either state federal road money....defense structure money....bridge money....or invisible farm money. The longer they wait....the bigger the pot has to be.

Who gets picked as the temp? I’m betting on Vicki. This is the entire game. She comes out and then gets points in January in the election....and then continues on (if you were a dreamer).

Motel Home Life

There is an intersting story out of Massachuttes today.

Folks in the statistics department have discovered that the number of homeless families living in motels (paid by the state)....total more than 1,000. The curious thing is that this is a healthy 37 percent gain since 1 June. Curious about the cost? Well....$2.8 million a month. Naturally, taxpayers cover this...if you were further curious.

All people can say about the matter is that the state is undergoing a significant recession...high unemployment, and it seems like the foreclosure trend is still spiraling upward there.

I had a good laugh when the executive director of the program covering this admitted that motels aren’t equipped to take care of families long-term and this was a lousy choice of home.

They seem like awful nice folks up there in the Boston area. In Bama, we would kinda hint to you that maybe you ought to move back in with Momma or your sister or your Uncle. We wouldn't be pulling out $1,500 to cover a month of motel rental somewhere for you and the family.

I've come to realize over the years that if you grew up in the New England states...the last place on Earth that you'd ever go in an emergency to live...is back to your parent's house. I asked someone from Philly about that once, and his response was that your family just got all over your case after a month to get moving on.

I sat there for a minute considering Bama....and they'd still be serving you their best chicken or steak almost 100 days into the experience...and that was pretty much the signal that things were still ok in the house. When they drove you over to Piggly Wiggly and got you in front of the manager for a job....that was typically the signal that you might had overstayed.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Charlie Gibson

Charlie Gibson....once the morning dude on Good Morning America, and now the ABC Night News dude....finally got dragged into an interview this past couple of days....and asked why he didn't cover anything abou the ACORN business over the past.

Charlie's answer: "I know we’ve done some stories about ACORN before, but this one I don’t know about".

It was a good comical answer for Charlie...which I would have come back and asked...so what else do you not know much about? And then I'd list ten major topics in DC over the past month. I'm guessing that Charlie barely knows about five of these...at best.

So the real question here....is how can ABC come and pay this guy for what he doesn't know?

The President's Comment

I sat and watched the clip of the music awards, and got to watch minute of Kanye West on stage. I won't even attach it to the blog because it's so stupid that he's standing there.

Then today.....the President decides that he needs to describe Kanye West as a "jackass". It was a serious and likely wrong thing to do....but you know.....I would use the same words as well.

The only curious thing about this entire event....the journalists all wanted you to know that Kanye was drunk during the event. I think he was totally doped up. A drunk doing all of the talking he did....would have wobbled up and wobbled on the stage. I think he was fairly doped up.

So in this case....before any of you folks blow up at the President....rest assured, this time, he tagged the right jackass, at least in my humble opinion.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Two Cents of Analysis on Health Care

A brief two minute read...with simple analysis laid out from weeks of pondering.

Anything made mandatory...by anyone (your company, your neighborhood, your church, your VFW, your cable-TV company, your county, your state, your national government, your library)....tends to be a failure. Everyone starts chatting over "change" and then the whole thing goes spiraling.

Competition over state-lines with hundreds of health care companies....can only improve the current situation and lessen cost. Why would your representatives and senators be against it?

If you came to limit lawyers fees over health care law suites....you'd lessen the total cost by ten percent minimum. Ask any of the legal experts involved and they all agree that a guy ought to have the right to sue...but what the lawyers take away in fees....is what really doubles up the cost.

If you want to write excessive government bills or regulations...fine....but it does nothing for simplicity. How many people will raise their hand and say they've read 1,000 pages of the current health care bill? The less written...the better.

Triggers? A fancy term...meaning this will happen if "X" doesn't occur. Basically, in the gambling world...it's a sure bet. So if it's so good...can't we have triggers for high school quality (enough bad grades and you shut down the school), or maybe in restaurants (enough bad inspections and it's permanently shut down), or in congress (enough corruption and your party is docked $50 million in fees)? Yeah, triggers are for special people and special things...you get the picture.

Taxing or giving fees to guys or companies who aren't giving health care funding? This has a funny smell to it. If it works so well....why don't we do this to car insurance as well. We all know that on a average day in Bama....five percent of the cars on the road have car insurance which has expired or been canceled. Frankly, the same logic ought to work here....but no one wants to do that. Wonder why?

A tax credit for incentive to buy health insurance? Sure. But lets be realistic....we will eventually raise taxes up a notch...to get the money back one way or another. Trust your local senator or congressman.

Preexisting conditions? We'd like to overlook your neighbor's bout with cancer. We'd like to overlook your best friend's son who has serious genetic issues. We'd like to overlook alot of stuff. Then we come to the guy who smokes two packs a day...and for some reason...we can't overlook him. Then we come to the guy who is gay and got AIDS from some bathhouse in San Fransisco...and we start to question overlooking folks. Then we come to some reporter who went to Peru...got all shot up and heavily wounded...and he's been laid off from the paper....and we start to question the wisdom of some idiot doing a story on Peruvian guerrillas.

Finally, Co-Ops. Frankly....they work. There are issues with them...but if you had to pick a system to front for the lesser-advantaged or the folks with preexisting conditions....this is a pretty fair deal.

The funny thing is that some kind of war campaign with two idiot groups has erupted, and the media is probably the last place where you might get decent and good information.

America isn't France. America isn't Canada. America isn't Germany. America isn't Rome or the Spartan empire. Whatever comparisons that people want to whip up and say....it's all fine and dandy in a Sunday afternoon talk show. But in the face of reality...once WW I ended...the US was a totally different nation.

We seek different values and goals. We aren't a statue to be admired. Some will gush from patriotism. Some will worry about our direction and have sleepless nights over our woes. Some will go on MSNBC to act like a expert on society and tell us something that is questionable in terms of reliability or truth.

The truth is...we are awful damn smart and creative. We didn't get to this position without performing some great feats of magic and a handful of miracles. Maybe it's time that we settle back and pause for a moment of pondering. Maybe we might find simpler and easier ways to fix something...without a serious argument.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

The Wilson Dude

It's been five days since the President's speech in the House....with the South Carolina Republican uttering the immortal "you lie" comment. He came back hours later and called and uttered his apology....which probably came from some advice from his associates in the House. He probably felt that would be it, and he'd be finished by Sunday with this entire mess.

Representative Pelosi came up early and said that she wanted to move on, and not allow Wilson to get more coverage than the real topic. I think her original train of thought was right.

Amusingly enough....over Saturday and Sunday....some folks have jumped on the wagon and think that Wilson now needs to appoligize in the house....with witnesses around. In fact, they'd like to cook up some punishment here.....but realistically, it's all just a paper-trail of punishment.

Meanwhile, Wilson's opponent picked up almost $750k in campaign contributions since that evening. But Wilson has now picked up almost $1 million, and some folks think he might be getting up to $3 million within thirty days.

I contemplated this moment....of Pelosi dragging this South Carolina guy down to the front and making him to utter a public apology. It would likely rank as one of the most incredible screw-ups that the Democratic could possibly manufacture. I would like to think that over this weekend....they finally came to some reality and will just let this whole event fade. If they can't.....it'll turn into a 5-star speech....outmatching the President's three-star speech of last week.

My rendition?

Mrs Speaker, Representatives of the House, and honored guests. I'm here to render a proper apology over my comments at last week's President speech here.

Allow me to say....that I'm sorry.

I'm sorry over a piece of legislation that totals 1,000 pages and not a single member has read it.

I'm sorry over that members of the house find so many of their citizens in the home district upset with the manner of speed and incompetence displayed.

I'm sorry that President hasn't grasped the public sentiment over the bill.

I'm sorry that a number of house members will not be around after November of 2010's election.

I'm sorry about alot of things but here's the bottom line. If you want to take me down now....or even think you can toss me out of this legislature.....consider this....each of you reside in districts with real people. They could envision a simple recall effort and have you of you terminated within 90 days.

If you've ever pondered the concept burning bridges as you cross them....this might be one of those five-hundred foot bridges and you won't get a chance to retreat or rethink your efforts. Feel lucky? Feel like you've got this under control and you can toss me? Go for it. Just remember....you got elected by people and they can recall you on a whim.

Have a nice day.

Then I'd walk away, if I were this Wilson dude. The plain truth is that it's best to just let this whole mess just lie and not get any more mileage out of Wilson. But if you were fairly stupid and lacking experience in gauging a situation like this.....well....go for it.

Why is Health Care Expensive?

After my dental experience on Friday...and the bill....I started pondering the state of health care in America.

First, I came to be charged $70 for a brief seven minutes of a certified dentist. If she could have four folks lined up in four rooms and play this out in one hour....she could generate $280 an hour. Remember, this was just a check-up.....nothing more.

Then came the old fashioned X-ray....which ran around $25. It was a necessity in this case because I had never been to this place before.

Then came the new fangled revolving x-ray....which was $75. Don't worry....I don't think Aetna will pay for that and I didn't realize what they were doing until it was over. Necessary? No....the old method was enough....so that $75 was flushed down the toilet.

The dental hygienist came next, with two charges. They totaled almost $150. For about sixty minutes of effort....I came to question this grouping of charges. I doubt that Aetna covers more than $120 of that.

Finally, came the fluoride treatment crap....which is totally unnecessary. This was around $35. If I had known they were going to offer it....I would have refused, but suddenly she is inserting the damn thing into my mouth and I'm thinking.....what the hell am I doing here?

So out of the $300-odd fee here....Aetna likely pays around $200. I should be happy. I should be.

Deep down....it shouldn't have been more than $150. So here in....lies the problem for America. You've got businessmen-dentist and business-doctors....waiting to show you fantastic new treatments....but it doesn't make alot of difference.

I look at all of this chit-chat from the President, the Media and a bunch of political whiners from both parties....and they really don't grasp the reality. You've got various lawyers out there who want to sue just about anyone for anything....so prices go up for legal insurance. You've got businessmen dressed in doctor's "whites" who are seeking a payment for their luxery condo in Vegas or Orlando. You've got prices that aren't competitive. Heck, even the insurance companies are guilty of the same practice.

How can you stop this mess? My lesson from Friday was simple.....ask questions ahead of time. Find out the rates. Look for small operations with just two or three people max. Know about the floruide treatment business and the gimmerick which is unncessary if you are an adult. When you find the right folks.....that you readily agree with financially....then return to them. Advise your friends of their good reputation of that business. Use common sense above all things.

I'm still sore....in more ways than one....over my Friday dental experience. It ain't going away as quickly as I'd like.

Bama and the Toys


A great moment of law, and order...came to Bama this week.

The Bama Supreme Court...with very little of importance to work on...took up the strange case of vibrators and sex toys...and rendered a decision.

You see....Bama got it's act together back about ten years ago and deemed it necessary to control the sales, operation, and "movement" (see how careful I was to suggest something of a lusty nature) of sexual toys. It was a necessity because Bama was becoming a hotspot for immoral women with no virtues. I would ask my brother to render a comment...but between his engineering background and working out of "sin city" (Huntsville)...this might turn into a 12-page commentary.

So the decision? Well....if you were a sex shop selling vibrators and other sex toys...then things were kept at the norm...meaning it's still against the law to sell sexual toys unless it was for "limited purposes".

Sadly, I'm not a lawyer...and I've often sat and wondered about this "limited purposes" statute. In the Air Force, if we insert this into a document....it kinda means that the Colonel can waiver anything he wants but he has to sign a document saying why.

In Bama...it kinda runs the same way.

As long as you are an adult....then the sex shop simply requires you to sign a copy of the receipt saying you just need this thing or whatever....one of the approved reasons. Naturally, they don't mention the approved reasons. They don't ask if you are married or a Baptist or on welfare or a graduate of University of Auburn or if you've held political office before. Just "approved reasons" will do.

I did some looking...and apparently approved reasons typically involve: bona fide medical, scientific, educational, legislative, judicial, or law enforcement purposes.

I sat there and pondered this. I could easily see scientific research being required and several instruments might have to be purchased to prove some theory. I could understand some legislative requirement where you had to make some state law maker "happy". I could even understand law enforcement purposes falling into this with several small town Chiefs of Police tied down and made happy by local meth hottie. I'll try to control my imagination over this discussion.

Naturally....our Attorney General....Troy King was key in getting this fixed up and passed through the Bama Supreme Court. Troy is courting with running for governor and needs things with the Baptists to stay the same. Most folks have already forgotten that male assistant episode and Troy seems like likable kind of guy.

The Alabama Supreme Court issued a 7-2 decision siding with King and Hoover.

The neat thing about this legal writing stuff from the Court....is a comment from one justice: "public morality can still serve as a legitimate rational basis for regulating commercial activity, which is not a private activity."

It basically means that we Bama folks are keen on protecting you....through thick and thin....from booze, prostitutes, sex toys, Yankees, NCAA rivals, and corruptible things.

So, things kinda continue. You can still buy what you need and just sign the receipt. You can rest assured at night that Bama folks are trying hard to protect your morals. You can still feel secure in knowing that the majority of Bama are decent and without any corruptible values. And if you don't feel safe or secure....just toss back the six shots of Jacky D's from the illegal bottle you brought over from the state line. Things will be better in the morning.

A Once Proud Paper, Now a Dinosaur

As most of you know....I won't buy Time or Newsweek anymore. I consider both to be third-rate journalism with news that's over seven days old. Neither has contributed any worthwhile news journalism in at least five years. Both are dinosaurs waiting for the meteor.

So this week....complements of the internet....I got a glimpse of the newest issue of Newsweek. It's a piece written seriously, but from the thirty lines of the article that I've read....it's barely passing as news and mostly an editorial of questionable value.

The title? Is your Baby Racist?

Yes, just seeing the cover on the screen....I started laughing. The thirty line description of the article? It didn't help. I went to seven reviews of the article. They were lucky to get two folks with positive comments....but the rest were pretty critical of the writing, the facts, and the flair shown for a editorial being headline news.

As one one wrote commentary on the Newsweek article: "Racial indoctrination of young children, as endorsed by the Newsweek article, is abusive and socially destructive". I couldn't agree more. So it's another mighty swing by a news pretender magazine that is failing as each week goes by. Fortunately, they've let go of most of the reporters....and just relying on a small cadre of guys willing to write editorial pieces...rather than real news.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

I'm Sorry

I'm sorry when hell freezes over.

I'm sorry when forty-million women can't lose twenty lousy pounds.

I'm sorry that Fox news has such a slanted view of life in America.

I'm sorry that women spend obscene amounts of money at Victoria's Secret to look hot.

I'm sorry that you have thirty-two potholes per square mile in your local town.

I'm sorry that Detroit Lions are such a crappy NFL team.

I'm sorry that people really believe WWE wrestling is real.

I'm sorry you have to watch the divorce episode between Hulk Hogan and Linda in public.

I'm sorry that you had to eat a fast-food menu last night.

I'm sorry you watch MTV and their Hollywood rehab show and consider it authentic entertainment.

I'm sorry that GM makes crappy cars and you have to force yourself into a showroom to buy one of them.

I'm sorry that you invested your life savings with Bernie Madoff because you are so stupid with money and investing.

I'm sorry that you have to watch Dancing with the Stars....and then call it entertainment.

I'm sorry you hate all of the news journalists on TV today.

I'm sorry that global warming is a worry for you....while it snows in early November.

I'm sorry that Canadian health care is such a big failure....and British health care, too.

I'm sorry that ACORN registered a hundred imaginary people in your town to vote.

I'm sorry that Hurricane Katrina destroyed a city nine feet under sea-level.

I'm sorry that some dimwit from South Carolina had to yell "you lie" in the midst of the President's speech....and not wait till it was over and then run to Fox news to utter the phrase there.

I'm sorry for lots of things. The funny thing is that it doesn't change things much.

The Mythical Isle

For me...civilization today...begins and ends with the United Kingdom...England. I realize this may be a shocker for some of you.

Britain gave us Shakespeare, J. R. R. Tolkien, George Orwell, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Geoffrey Chaucer, John Locke, William DeFoe, H. G. Wells, and a thousand other writers of genius.

Britain gave us the Magna Carta...which is the beginnings of Democracy for the civilized world.

Britain gave us Churchill and a couple of million stubborn British men who would stand and fight off Hitler and the Nazis.

Britain gave us the MG, which most of us have openly wept over.

Britain gave us the Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Clash, and the Sex Pistols (the only nominated group to the Rock Hall of Fame that refused to come or participate...and then gave a 5-star comment on the corrupted nature of the HOF).

Britain gave us the radar, jet propulsion, the torpedo and a thousand other technically devious devices.

This past week...a brick was removed from this mighty wall. A survey from England now suggests that three-quarters of teachers in the school system there....believe it's quiet a danger....to promote patriotism. In fact, they'd like to warn students that any real attraction to British patriotism...could lead to 'brainwashing'. Yes, they actually suggested that.

This past year, PM Gordon Brown finally came out and strongly recommended that the nation has a problem...Brit's aren't feeling Brit. They think they are not of one nation....but simply a group of people with some minor connections to each other. He wants a direction change amongst the youth of Britain.

This same survey in the school system....suggested that teachers felt it was more important to discuss a 'universal brotherhood'. You can see a problem brewing here. If seventy-five percent side with this idea....then whatever was built over the past twenty centuries on the isle...lays waiting to dissolve away.

One curious response that I came across in reading on this top....was the comment of one teacher to the survey person: "Praising patriotism excludes non-British pupils". It was a confusing moment...if you are there in the land of Churchill...and came from another land to live in such a place...then you chose your path in life. You simply aren't "non-British". And if you feel this way....it'd be best to pack up and find another wonderful place to live.

What you see here...is a huge problem which the government and the public probably can't overcome. If the massive majority of your teaching population refuses to participate in any shift or change in character...then you've basically lost your land. This is not your isle or kingdom anymore. It belongs to someone who is not British and would never be British.

My soapbox on this topic is small. My words measure to nothing that George Orwell would say. My focus is nothing compared to what Churchill would utter in a seven brief sentences. This was a mythical land that gave us so much....and now...reality is dissolving it away to nothing. What was laid out in perfect order of bricks upon a great wall...is becoming ruins and dust.

ACORN

This was the week when videos came out with ACORN folks advising undercover reporters on how to run a brothel operation under the nose of local authorities and the IRS folks.

ACORN, for those lacking in daily readings of news....was this mythical and magical organization that arose out of urban Mideast cities...to get local groups professionally organized. They read the regulations, the official rule books of city management, and jumped into every single possible grant program possible. They learned how to milk the "golden" cow.

During the election period of 2008, ACORN went to a new level...learning how to get people organized in the arena of voting. They went out and recruited people to be "registration managers". They found thousands of new voters. Some people have suggested that they even thousands of non-existent voters as well....which is still being looked at.

On the borderline? Probably so. ACORN has taken the system invented, and now seeks to control it just as most normal political parties control it. In some cases, they've probably crossed the ethical border and meeting the legal aspects of the system.

So here are the video clippings (two)...and they gave absolutely great advice on how to get around local authorities and the IRS folks. They were absolutely correct.

The funny thing for me...is that they've watched the system and know the weaknesses. We could have done this...but we were stupid and naive. ACORN has moved on.

They know we have issues with a national ID system....and we won't dare adapt it. So they can register illegal aliens until hell freezes over....and we can't say anything.

They know that we will never develop a system of matching up registered voting lists by the national level and find duel voters.

They know that we've devised voting regions that are fairly close in balance, and they just need two thousand imaginary folks to tip one election to this candidate of theirs.

They know that cops really don't care about busting a bunch of ACORN folks. It looks bad on their character and they get insulted in the media for targeting a special political group.

So ACORN got smart.

The question is...will we get smart? I think my answer is no. We are going to allow them to continue on and exist with no real halt to their games. Call it a free-ticket or just lack of understanding on our part....but ACORN is going to be around for a while.

Walking into Danger

This week....British paratrooper John Harrison died. Accompanying him to the gates of heaven...was Afghan interpreter Sultan Munadi. Both men died in a moment of bravery. They were part of a effort to free kidnapped journalist Stephen Farrell.

There are several things that have occurred after the successful rescue. First, there had been another effort underway....basically to pay off the kidnappers. For whatever reason, the British men on the scene saw this as having little effect. They knew the location and gauged the moment to press on and save the journalist. The second group involved in the payoff and negotiation? They are highly upset and made a couple of comments that this was not the best way of handling things.

Second....after hearing these points of criticism...David Miliband, the British Foreign Secretary....criticized kidnapped journalist Stephen Farrell for walking right into a mess and not listening to various points of strong advice.

Over the past ten years, I've observed dozens of reporters captured and held as hostage. I've come to realize that you could tell them of all kinds of trouble ahead of them, and they frankly...don't care. They have zero trust in the facts on the table. They are triggering their own problems.

So I'd like to suggest a radical departure from normal reactions. From this point on....any reporter captured in a war-zone....is treated as "dead" from that point on. No government help. No military rescue. No offerings to negotiate. No government middlemen. No payoffs by third parties. No ransoms. Nothing. Let the guy enjoy what he asked for.

I'd send a simple 8-line note to each news group or media organization to lay out this future. They can report their guy missing. They can hire professional hit men to save the guy. They can spend millions on a ransom effort. They can line up lots of space or airtime to report their guy lost in a forbidden situation. But not one single bit of effort by the government will be made to save the guy or help with a rescue.

I suspect after the first three or four guys come up missing...and folks realize how stupid it is to walk into a war-zone...the anxious reporter list of folks volunteering to go in....will drop in size. Eventually...no one will go.

The curious thing....is that most of these newspapers and media organizations are barely making a profit presently...so when the kidnappers ask for $2.5 million....how exactly will they get the money? The guys in charge of these organizations ought to start thinking long-term....and how they survive in this new world.

Friday, 11 September 2009

That Wilson Dude

This Wilson guy and the Obama Speech....what can I say?

After pausing and looking over this “you lie” episode at congress.....I was a bit amused.

First, the rules of the boys is that you just sit there and applaud or do nothing when the President is talking. Then, as soon as the mess is over....you run out the front door and immediately bleed your guts to CNN, ABC, MSNBC, CBS, Fox or NBC. You can call him an idiot or a genus or anything at that point. Pretty neat deal.

So Wilson’s accusation? Most folks have come to agree that a couple of things that the President weren’t completely true....note, I didn’t call him a liar. It’s just that he didn’t tell the whole story. He had already done a town hall meeting where he answered one question on illegals getting care and told the question person that this was all taken care of.....no illegal immigrants (note, he didn’t say alien for some reason)...would get care under the program. Yet under this adventure on Wednesday night, he indicated that they’d have to write something else into the bill.

Others will point to different things in the speech which didn’t agree....like the numbers. Some folks like the President have used 47 million before, yet in this speech....there were 30-odd million. Precisely how many are uninsured?

Well....even the experts say they can’t be sure about this. Having a national ID would help to prevent such a mess and we could be more sure, but that’s a sore topic, you know.

As for dumping on Wilson? I’m having doubts that in South Carolina....it’ll make any difference. I think he’s concreted in to win next year....and money thrown to his opposition is simply money flushed down the toilet.

The idea that this charges up the Democrats....well, if they can get charged up over this....fine. So far, they haven’t had much luck in getting anyone charged up and the majority appear to be questioning things currently. By next week, this event will be forgotten.

Bill passage? I think the bill could be passed. The issue behind that point will be the groups who take it into court and challenge for 55 different reasons. The Supreme Court ends up with the case....on several fronts. It’ll be cut, carved and hand-cuffed to a great extent. Then you have to worry about this being a campaign effort in 2010 and giving the Republicans control of the house. If this happens....then the next two year or even six years....will be a miserable period for everyone.

So for those of you wanting to criticize the President....remember....always do it on TV with a news analyst and it’s legal.

Father, Son, & Holy Ghost

So this is what happened. This Bolivan dude....a preacher of sorts....who lives out of Mexico....decided that he had a vision from God about a impending earthquake for Mexico City. The only way he could warn the public....he thought...was board a Mexican Airways flight and then play out some hijacking episode. You can see where this is going.

So this plane was traveling from Cancun to Mexico City.....with most of the passengers unaware of the whole event. The pilot ended up negotiating with this guy....because the preacher originally wanted the plane to circle Mexico City seven times. Sadly, there just wasn’t going to be enough fuel to accomplish that.

So he would get a reporter if they landed. So he agreed.

The cops ended grabbing everyone off the plane at the end and then they spent a while talking to Flores. At some point, the guy mentioned that he had accomplices with him on the plane....the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Cops felt this to mean three actual guys. Yep, remember, this is Mexico.

So the cops handcuffed the preacher and then ended up handcuffing several other guys who they felt were the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Several hours later, they determined that those other guys weren’t the Father, the Son, or the Holy Ghost and returned them to the airport. I can’t say if they apologized or anything.

You can imagine yourself....some guy named Gus on vacation to Cancun....all sunburned....dehydrated....full of cheap Mexican booze, and ready to return home. Then after you finally get out on the tarmac at Mexico City....here’s some Mexican detective accusing you of being “the Holy Ghost”...being part of the hijacking, and a threat to security. The amount of booze in your system likely prevents you from answering with the correct answer. You stand there and think the dude is smoking something and kinda deny it. After a while, he decides that you have to be lying and takes you off to the station as an accomplice to the nutcase.

Things like this only happen in Mexico.

In Bama, the minute some guy mentioned he was doing some stupid stuff and then mentioned that the “Father”, “Son”, and “Holy Ghost” were with him....the deputy sheriff would have grinned.

The Woes of a New Dentist

My dentist of ten years finally decided to retire. So I had to go and find a new dentist. There was an ad in the base paper and here was this “professional” operation....so I made an appointment.

They were friendly and wanted paperwork done before starting. This was the trend of things to come. Fifth column, they wanted my social security number. I give this to no one....so I just sat there and thought what idiot would dare request such info today? This isn’t even a military operation. Then they wanted my policy number with Aetna. I left both blank.

Then they had various blocks I could fill....cosmetic surgery, whiteness treatment, etc. I felt like I was in the wrong place....and I was.

Then the dentist brought me into the room....did barely three minutes of stuff and then rattled off how I needed two crowns and two fillings. No X-Rays yet.....so you can feel my anxiety level starting to perk up. I came for a check-up and a cleaning. Nothing else.

Then she rattled off the 800 Euro ($1,100 for each crown). She mentioned Aetna....but I could already remember that they barely cover 75% of most dental surgery.

So she sent me off for one regular X-Ray and this super-duper revolving X-ray (as it were any better than the old damn method). Then I came back to the Dentist and she spent three minutes explaining stuff. The charge up to that moment? $75.

Then I was sent to the cleaning gal. My old dentist....Doc Dietrich of Landstuhl was an angel compared to this gal. I would have begged to be knocked out if I’d known the punishment I had to take for a cleaning. It was the most pain that I’ve had in my life...just for a damn cleaning experience. This gal charged $95 for this 70 minute experience. Then she jumps up in front of me with a fluoride treatment (already prepared). I normally have refused this for almost 15 years now....and she’s jamming the damn thing in my mouth already....$35 for that 3-minute treatment. Will Aetna pay that part? I’m pretty sure they won’t be.

Naturally, they escorted back over to the front and I needed to make the critical appointments for the crowns and such. I paid my $330 bill (yes, it was the most ever for a plain cleaning and exam). Doc Dietrich never charged more than $150 for that lousy hour.

I walked out and it was the worst bit of dentistry that I’ve had in forty years. I felt like I was in a GM salesroom with some idiot trying to talk me into buying a stupid GM car for $30k. I had some dentist charge me $75 for roughly ten minutes of actual work. Without even looking at X-Rays....this dentist was all turbo-charged on crowns in less than three minutes. This is some kinda money making operation.

The sad thing is come Monday, I have to find another “new” dentist to do the filling required that these idiots did find. I can’t go back over there....because I have zero trust. I’ll probably go over to the Army Dental office and see if they can do a simple filling.

The sad thing is that I’d like to have Doctor Dietrich back from retirement. When I first went up to his place....it was some comic event. He had the whole operation in his basement of the upscale house in Landstuhl. I questioned this but realized that it was a pretty nifty set-up. Then he had pleasant music in the background. I sat in the chair and here was this great zoo poster up on the ceiling and I felt real relaxed. Then, about two minutes into the exam....he let me know he was into politics. I felt real relaxed at that point, but then he mentioned he was a Democrat and I kinda froze there. I felt it was best to go along with this and not mention that I was a Republican. For ten years, we got along and he was a damn good dentist.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Another AF Screw-Up Story

Another of my September Air Force screw-up stories.

I was in a civil engineering unit in the early part of my career. The wing commander made a big deal about the entry way to the base (Rhein Main). There was this “island” near the front gate that everyone drove by. He thought it would be nice if a bunch of trees and shrubs were on this 1-acre “island”. So he went out and took about $8k out of the budget and they bought a tractor-trailer rig of shrubs and trees.

Naturally, this fell to CE Grounds to plant. The two NCO’s in the shop....knew nothing about planting. They hadn’t planted a tree or shrub in their entire career. So they dug all these holes and planted well over 200 trees and shrubs over this “island” and dumped the plant into it.

Weeks went by, and almost every single tree and shrub died. It was fairly obvious after two months....100 percent death. Our boss went out there and dug up five....all had the plastic covering around the roots. The two guys didn’t know you had to remove the plastic covering. To say he was furious was an understatement. But you can’t admit something like this. So our boss waited a month...when the old wing commander left...he had us dig up every single one of the dead trees and shrubs in a swift 90-minute operation.

Six months pass, and the new commander had the same idea....giving us another $8k to plant more shrubs out there. None of the leadership remembered the original episode....so this made sense. This time....the wing commander wanted the Officer Wives Club involved. We guys from the grounds shop were supposed to meet there in civilian clothing on a Saturday morning....to help the ladies plant these damn plants.

So here I was....with two other guys....all in civilian clothing to make the appearance of charity-type work. Of the Officer Wives Club....barely four women showed up. They ran out of energy within an hour. We three guys ended up planting all of these, without the plastic covering on the root. It was around three in the afternoon when we finished. It was proclaimed a great success...so said the wing commander.

Fifteen years pass and I’m driving through Rhein Main one day....my first return since 1980....I came to notice the island. It was like some kind of jungle....with five times the number of trees and shrubs on it than you’d prefer. You could have walked into the middle and just hid there if you wanted....never to be seen. No one from the base had ever trimmed the bushes or trees.

Around 1999, I drove through as things were being shut down and closed....turning the base completely over to the Flughafen....and most of the trees and shrubs had all been cut down and some new ones replanted.

That’s how $16k was spent on one stupid “island” on an Air Force base.