Monday, 30 November 2009

Shooting At Tacoma

The top news bullet for this morning....of interest...was the four cops killed at breakfast in Tacoma. You see...they were at a place....around the backgate of McChord AFB.

I was stationed at McChord in 1980. It was a 13-month episode. I came to enjoy the base, the town of Tacoma, and Washington state. But it was a funny thing.....once you left the back of the base....the area between Fort Lewis and McChord AFB.....you were in this hazardous-to-live zone. Even in 1980....it simply wasn't a place you'd go after dark.

In the past ten years....that danger has tripled in nature.

If you left the main gate....you were within a mile of the interstate and on a fairly nice street. I could never understand this mess....three gates on McChord....two were leading to safe areas, and one was absolutely dangerous.

When you read the story....this guy simply walks into the diner....aims at no one but the cops....and kills all four cops. Then he walks out. No mask....no hood. He didn't care if people saw him or not.

He isn't simply a nutcase. He is a guy who simply doesn't care anymore. If he kills four people....a hundred.....it simply doesn't matter. He made that clear in the diner. And at this point....he's still walking the streets.

The Tiger Woods Episode

So, a moment only to analyze what is playing out. Tiger got beat on pretty good by the wife. The cops would like a statement over the accident...and likely the beating. Tiger is keeping his mouth shut. The entire accident was on private property....his vehicle never got on a state or county road during this episode. So, Tiger can pretty much say almost nothing.

The thing is....for the wife....if Tiger takes this route....she avoids an arrest over an assault issue. I'm guessing that she's now considering how nice Tiger has been on this interview with the cops.....and lessening her anger. In the end....Tiger wins. If the wife goes to divorce court...he brings up pictures of his injuries. If the marriage continues....she figures that Tiger was nice enough not to drag her in the dirt. Not a bad strategy.

Raj and the IPC

There's this guy, Rajendra Pachauri,who has an interesting job Raj, runs the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Basically, the IPCC is THE big organization that makes global warming...global warming. If they say something....it's the blessed truth....or something like truth.....well....maybe something less than truth.

Naturally, you might ask who the heck makes the IPCC such a BIG organization....but that leads back to the UN and it's best not to bring up this subject.

Today, after this big mess with released emails and accusations of corruption with the global warming scientists.....Raj stood up....got all peppy....and then said there is "virtually no possibility" of a few scientists biasing the advice given to governments by the UN's top global warming body.

The all got into the Guardian....one of the Britain's premier newspapers.

Raj then went on to say that lot of folks write for the IPCC and they run a damn good rigorous peer review mechanism. Raj hinted....that any bias or manipulation or bad data....would be quickly uncovered.

As I read through the comments of Raj....it kinda reminded me of a bar owner trusting his bartender entirely with the stocking of the shelves.

Over the past five years.....the IPCC has had its share of comical moments. They tend to get dramatic and state the dying days of the planet are approaching. If they were truly serious....they'd start announcing the closure of airports, the termination of air travel, the halt of energy production, and the massive shutdown of society....to ensure mankind's survival. For some reason, they really can't bring themselves to suggest such a thing. But then they suggest a "tax" would fix everything....and that poor countries would get the tax.....while rich nations pay. For the life of me....I just can't grasp this as saving anything....but just delaying things.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Getting Paid to Describe a Moment with Joe?

Only a moment of Bama logic. So you have this couple....who crashed a White House dinner......and now they want $300k as a interview fee with the networks?

What am I missing here?

Basically, you had a beer with Joe Biden.....and you think it's worth $300k to be interviewed about how you sipped the beer and how you shook hands with Joe? Maybe you talked Afghanistan or Delaware shrimp or NCAA football with VP Joe?

Somehow, I just can't why any idiot would pay this couple $300k for an interview....to describe how they got in and then how they sipped beer with Joe Biden.

If the Today Show or MSNBC is stupid enough to pay the money.....then it's pretty much a joke. I'd let the story sit for a week and everyone will forget the entire event. It's not like Joe telling them some super-secret thing about his house.....you know....the nuke shelter or the top secret VP recovery point in Red Bay, Bama.

A Pound of Fat, Is Still a Pound of Fat

For those who have time....the New York Times has a great 5-star editorial today on the universal health care plan that is in the senate.

Very easily and without a lot of fluff....they point one of the main problems with the design of this bill....the public option. Based on analysis of the Congressional Budget Office....at best....it might enroll less than 2 percent of the public. So you'd have to ask why....and then it goes back to the original problem which stood out in the start of this mess...cost.

Based on the CBO work....the public option would have a higher premium than private plans that exist today. This bill would mandate that the government go out and negotiate rates with providers....the same way that private insurers do. The funny thing is that premiums....which are the number one issue in preventing thirty-five million from having health care insurance.....would go up beyond what private health care insurance costs today.

Curious?

Basically....the government would have to have higher premiums to cover its share of more chronically ill folks. After cost.....the number two problem are the folks who had major health problems to start and private health care would want a bundle to cover these folks.

So who signs up for such a premium? The thirty-five million without health care insurance? No, if they had the money to start with....they would have paid for private health care insurance.

Remember....this 2,000-page document was written in a hurry, without alot of thinking or analysis.

The amazing thing is that if it passes....nothing happens until 2013. So both parties can go back and play their games. Around 2013....after the election....then reality hits. Who can pay for the public option insurance? Basically few, if any. So nothing really changed.

Yep, that's the entire game. Nothing changes....just more of the same. So if you started with a pound of fat.....buddy, you've still got a pound of fat.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Carol Bostello, CNN, and the "Bully" Moment

This past week...CNN finally got to a new high (really a new low)...but they've basically decided that they have lost a ton of viewers and they've got to do something radical to retrieve their "folks".

So somewhere in the midst of brilliant journalism...CNN has assigned Carol Costello to the job of monitoring talk radio. You can imagine this game as it's played out. Carol has to find people to say certain things that the CNN management or production team wants said.

So this is what transpired earlier in the week, on the air:

CAROL COSTELLO: Talk radio, especially conservative talk, is so powerful, some say it's made our country viciously partisan. Ten of the top 11 radio talk shows are conservative. The king? Rush Limbaugh, with 15 million (sic--20) listeners. Psychiatrist Gail Saltz says Limbaugh's style appeals to those who feel they have no voice.

GAIL SALTZ: He's essentially kind of operating like the bully. And if you're on the playground, do you want to be the bully's -- you know, under the bully's wing and go along with him and get therefore some power by proxy, too? Or do you want to be like left out alone on the playground where, you know, who knows who's going to take you out?

CAROL COSTELLO: Saltz says conservative talkers are more popular than liberal talkers because they attract the kind of person who likes strong, aggressive messages.
So I sat there....mostly laughing. Did you catch what Carol said? Basically....people that listen to liberal talkers on talk radio...do so because they like a weak, wussy, hopeless message?

Carol basically tore up her entire original argument with the comeback that was supposed to attack Rush Limbaugh. Instead...if you grasp precisely what she hinted....liberals want weak messages from talk radio. It apparently makes them feel better.

The thing is....I really dislike Rush's message about 90 percent of the time. He will....once a day....come up on a major story and really lay it down correctly....but you'd have to listen for three hours to get that one great story.

As for the crowd that bashes Rush? Well...they are just as bad. In this case....Carol is mostly serving her bosses drama requirements....putting up some guy they found to use the word "bully" as much as possible. And the CNN management? Well....they basically are trying to figure up the next expert witness they can bring out of the woodwork....to hint their next message against Rush, Hannity, or Glenn Beck.

In this case....I'd like to suggest a 17th Century English literary analyst to analyze Rush's use of verbs and adjectives....and grade him against Shakespeare. It might be entertaining.

The Tiger, The Tree, and the Escalade

It's a gossip that I truly care little about...but the media really won't spell out what took place...so I'll do it for you.

Two nights ago....sometime around 2:25AM...Tiger Woods exited his house in a hurry.

Apparently, the rumors of him with some other gal had finally gotten to the wife....Elin Nordegren. An agrument of sorts erupted.

Tiger, as most guys do...decided it was not safe to stay around and feel the heat or the pain. Somewhere in the midst of this exit...she scratched him fairly good on the face.

Tiger got into his Cadillac Escalade. This is a fairly big and safe vehicle....for those of you who've never been in one.

Based on comments from the scene....Tiger was about to pull out when the wife approached with a golf club...and then began to clobber the Escalade. Tiger stomped on the gas...and backed into a fire hydrant...the first of his big problems...then he stomped on the gas to go forward....missed the twist or turn...and ran into his neighbor's yard...hitting a tree. The speed here was not yet 30 mph...because the air bags never deployed. Me personally, I'm thinking he was barely up to 20 mph.

So what the media wants you to know...is that Tiger's wife then used the golf club to break open the back window...to save Tiger from the possible flames (well...had this been a Ford, there would have been flames for sure).

Then the media would like for you to know that Tiger's wife then helped to drag him out of the vehicle...from the rear of the SUV...a good six foot drag over the rear seats...to the broken window. Never mind the fact that the rear door would have been unlocked probably and she could have opened it. And for that matter...the side door would have been capable of opening but Tiger had locked that to prevent her from whacking him with the club.

Then the ambulance was called.

Yes, a mighty fine story by the media so far.

I'm guessing Tiger really doesn't want to discuss the matter.

The cops already admit no alcohol was involved. As for charges...since he apparently was on a private street, in a private housing area...I'm having doubts that the cops can make anything up, and they probably don't want to. Tiger? He'd like to just put distance between him and the hostile wife. And the wife? Well...I'm guessing she's with a good lawyer and adding up the $100 million that she's going to take on this deal.

So, when your local or national network news guy comes on...and he gives you a 15-second update on the episode...but it's really lacking anything to explain how things occurred....then it's back to my method...to read a 100-plus sites per day to get the real story on things.

Friday, 27 November 2009

The Money Pit Island

Back around 2000, I read up on this construction project called Palm Jumeirah. Basically....it was to be a man-made island...off the coast of Dubai. The company involved....owned by the Dubai government.

This project...the size of 800 football fields...was to be this luxury villa place....where only rich folks came to live and "play". Billions upon billions were to be involved in the construction....and it would cost around $10 million....just to get a very small modest apartment in the complex to be built.

This was a decade-long project. Lots of important folks have bought properties on the island....from VIPs of London, soccer players, the ultra rich of NY City, and even Russian mafia players.

From the very beginning....I kept asking....if you got all this sand and real estate on the mainland around Dubai....why the heck do you go and build this stupid island? Frankly, the only logical answer was that it was a money pit to toss money into.

So as the US financial crisis erupted last year....and lots of rich folks suddenly woke up from the Madorf dream and realized how poor they really were.....this Palm Jumeirah project started to stumble.

Now, the prices have dropped by fifty percent. The guys in charge are scared. The whole economy of Dubai is suddenly shaking over the possibility of massive failure. The money pit did exactly what you imagined. People who own properties and have yearly "fee" situations required....are now settling a $2 million property for $400k....just to get out of the mess there.

The people at the top of this mess....think it can survive and make it out of the economic problems...maybe over the next four years. Some people believe that it's not the deal that was advertised....and maybe it might just die off completely within five years.

Me? I'm still wondering why you build an artificial island....when you still got tens of millions of acres of perfectly good desert just sitting there?

Reality TV Spiral


Ok, so a day or two has now passed on this couple who crashed the President's big White House state dinner.

What we now know...is that this was for a reality television program. The couple? Michaele and Tareq Salahi.

The reality show involved? "The Real Housewives of D.C."

It's a new program and this couple would just be one of several used for the program.

So I sat there...pondering this mess. I was used to reality shows involving Hulk Hogan, Paris Hilton, and Johnny Knoxville (Jackass). I've sat and watched a show or two on swinging lesbians and swinging gay guys. I've watched the British series...Big Brother. I've watched Flavor Flav....trying to win the heart of Brigitte Nelson in Strange Love...which almost melted my heart away. I even watched two dozen episodes of Dog the Bounty Hunter (his wife carries the show, but that's just my opinion).

I could stand most of those shows...but now, if you said that political reality is in....and we got to watch folks play around DC....with the President, Senators, Representatives, and lobbyists involved...I think I'd go nuts.

No, this would be the breaking point. I simply couldn't handle a bunch of fakes on national TV nightly...with some senator uttering "I love you honey" to some slutty doped up girlfriend. I couldn't handle some state department wussy talking trash over Haiti and then kissing up to the President of Haiti the next week. I couldn't handle some NBC White House reporter doing the big defense of the Obama team....and then watch him get private bits of info from the White House daily to use for his broadcast.

Yes, we've reached the breaking point of reality TV. Frankly, we can't handle a politically charged show...that turns everything into soap opera. And if we do accept this...why bother voting for some idiot democrat or republican...when I could have Jerry Springer as President? That's really the big question.

Tactical Nuclear Penguin


At some point....I knew it would happen. 32 percent alcohol beer.

It was believed somewhere in the Bible....that God kinda put the limit on beer not going past 4.5 percent alcohol....or least some Bama guys felt that way.

Recently....several companies had gone to the edge and produced not just ten percent....but even sixteen percent alcohol beer.

Now....comes Tactical Nuclear Penguin.

Yes, the "nuke" Penguin brew. Made by a company called BrewDog in Fraserburgh, north-east Scotland.

Here's the thing though...it's almost $45 a bottle....which probably will keep most of you away from it.

BrewDog maintains that this is an "imperial stout" which only true beer connoisseurs will consume. I paused while reading this....'beer connoisseurs'? In the state of Bama...we have well over two million such connoisseurs...but they sure as heck won't be paying $45 a bottle when they can buy Pabst Blue Ribbon for a buck.

Brewdog says they will only sell online...and at two locations in Edinburgh and London. My guess is that consumer demand and a demand for a better price...will lower this down to $18 a bottle within a month or two. They are making a huge profit off the current pricing scheme.

So you can imagine this scene....a couple of the guys come over. You pull out this case of beer that you spent $400 for....and give each guy a "Nuke" Penguin. After the first sip....they ask where you bought it....and then they mention that it's got a mighty fine punch to it. Later, after the third beer....they are laying on the porch and you gotta call their wife and come and pick them up.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Just the Rules and Facts of Life

The Republican National Committee guys met, and worked out some formula of sorts...to establish who is Republican and who is not. Basically...from the ten items below....if you disagree with three or more of these...you don't get national funding from the party:

(1) We support smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes by opposing bills like Obama's "stimulus" bill;

(2) We support market-based health care reform and oppose Obama-style government run healthcare;

(3) We support market-based energy reforms by opposing cap and trade legislation;

(4) We support workers' right to secret ballot by opposing card check;

(5) We support legal immigration and assimilation into American society by opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants;

(6) We support victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges;

(7) We support containment of Iran and North Korea, particularly effective action to eliminate their nuclear weapons threat;

(8) We support retention of the Defense of Marriage Act;

(9) We support protecting the lives of vulnerable persons by opposing health care rationing, denial of health care and government funding of abortion; and

(10) We support the right to keep and bear arms by opposing government restrictions on gun ownership; and be further

I kinda had to laugh. It's an interesting list. Most are standard Republican positions and have been so for decades. What national Republicans will fail this test? None....I'd wager that not one single guy is denied funding from this list. In fact, in most states...if you had a problem with just one of these items...you'd be questioned already as a Republican.

The next question....will Democrats work up a list of ten thing and deny their folks the same funding....under the same rules? My guess is no. Republicans are typically the only folks with time on their hands...to waste on a project like this. The Democrats will be busy meeting with lobbyists, Chinese guys with money, hookers, and environmentalists, thus using the time more wisely than the Republicans sitting on some third-rate talk show...explaining their new rules.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

A Stupid Gun Idea

Over the past two weeks, I've noticed a number of advocates coming out in favor of arming GI's (and their dependents) for on-base or on-post activities. Frankly, this would be one of the last things that I'd really want to see happen.

Everyone would like to think that GI's are trained from basic training on....with the proper use of weapons and the proper way of countering a treat. The problem is....you can toss a hundred scenarios to a guy....and in perhaps sixty percent of them....the guy will do what you've trained him to do. But the other forty percent....he starts to makes an interpretation of the event....and then take actions of a questionable nature.

I was in a unit once....told to deploy to Turkey. The guys made a big deal of getting shoulder holsters (downtown, $150 per holster). So they arrive at the base....and everybody starts from hour one carrying a weapon.

It's a war front....but it's also a normal operating Air Force base....with lots of security police. Somewhere around the 18th hour of the day....one of the guys in my shop draws a weapon on a guy in his operations tent who has suddenly entered and trying to open a safe in the corner of the tent (it was the first sergeant and it was the commander's safe). Needless to say...this aggravated the first sergeant greatly, and it took him three hours to round up every single weapon in the organization and hand them to the local security cops.

So I'm not in favor of weapons just being the norm. Face it....we have a shooting like this maybe every five years in the military. Usually....it's a husband shooting the wife at work....or maybe some nutcase come to shoot their old commander. To sit there and hand out weapons and play "armed" eight hours a day....five days a week....just ain't going to work.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Innocent Yet Guilty, Only in America

It was an amusing moment today…..from the KSM crew….due to make the NY City civilian trial.

The five guys facing court….will plead not guilty….but then turn around and air hours upon hours of criticisms of US foreign policy. This is the plan laid out by the lawyers in the case.

At this point, I started laughing….all of these guys would turn around and NOT deny any part of their pole in the 2001 WTC attack. They would use the whole case….to explain what happened and why the US deserves to be “punished”.

If I were a jury member….after about five minutes of this behavior….I’d write a two-line note to the judge: “We are here to judge the guilt or innocence of these gentlemen. Basically, they are now admitting their complete and absolute guilt. I don’t need to sit here for hours or days or weeks listening to this. Either end their chit-chat session, or I’ll walk out of the jury in ten minutes”.

I’m guessing the judge will want to drag me off to get a minute of stern counseling….but this is about show….and nothing else. Eric Holder knew this….these idiots know this….and the media will know this. Why waste time? If you hint for a moment that you did the thing….I don’t care why you did it.

Synergistic Power

Most of the time...when I do a religious dump...it's on the Baptist. They usually do alot to earn it. Today...I'm dumping on the Lutherans.

Over the past month or two...the big guys in the Lutheran "corporate" headquarters woke up and realized that the recession and the anti-gay feeling in Lutheran congregations to withhold their support....have added up.

The Lutheran management team has decided now that it's got to reduce it's budget by 10 percent and terminate 40 full-time positions.

Somewhere...between the heartland and the national Lutheran church...there is this disconnect of sorts....where some church members are simply lessening their finanical support....over things they disagree with. The national guys? They are standing there and mostly looking at other things to blame at this point...and hoping that the recession is the only real problem.

The truth be known....this national church idea of accepting gays and lesbians entirely....and making a public statement about this....was thought to be the wave of the future. The national guys felt....they could sell this and the congregations would eventually buy it.


After the last round of budget discussios...the leadership kinda went to a new message format that needed to be put to the congregations. The sells point? A wider church with more members.

One of the council members involved in this new sells strategy...suggested that educating folks on the church and the mission needs are critical....and then he said:
"Mission support funds — those coming from congregations to support synod and churchwide ministries — have "synergistic power".

"....support synod and churchwide ministries — have "synergistic power".

What ministers do you know...from any religion....that would utter "synergistic"?

Can you imagine Jesus uttering "synergistic"?

Can you sit there and imagine asking a hundred Lutherans what the heck "synergistic" means, and getting this blank look?

The Lutherans have a problem...but they might want to pull out their Bible and see where anyone ever wrote about "synergistic". If they can't find anyone...then ask themselves why.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Starry Night

A guy from Bama....rarely has an appreciation of fine art. It took me around fifty years to reach this stage....and I will be honest...sometimes..."fine" just ain't the same kinda "fine" as a Bama guy is used to.

This piece above is from Van Gogh...."Starry Night".

I have often tried to understand Van Gogh's view of the world. Nothing ever has a normal appearance or feels right. I often come to the conclusion that the guy was either nuts....or sipping heavily on booze to get the wavy lines. Either way....it worked.

Mrs. Santa


Most communities have Christmas parades now. When I was a kid...there was maybe one or two parades within fifty miles of where I grew up. Today...almost every single town of any size...has a Christmas parade.

The thing about parades...there is a guy or committee in charge...and they make rules. You have to enter your vehicle. Things have to be in good taste. No booze. No drunk Santas. The list goes on and on. Some cities now have almost twenty pages of rules attached to the entry form.

So, Raleigh, NC came out this week....with a new Christmas parade rule...which just adds onto this mess. No Mrs. Santa.

Yep....no Mrs. Santa. Now, when I heard this....I was thinking of a hot Mrs. Santa...black stockings, white cape, black leather boots up to the knee, with a heavenly exposed chest. Apparently, the Raleigh folks have a different view on this....anyone else by the name of Claus.....either Mrs or doctor or professor or even Ricky the gay Santa Claus....just confuses folks...especially kids.

So they said no...to any Mrs. Claus.

In fact....they said only one Santa suit in the entire parade was to be accepted.

I sat there....trying to compare Raleigh and Bama. Folks in Bama tend not to be confused. I don't know if its the effect of dry counties, Auburn brain-washing, massive consumption of ice tea, the Baptists, the Republicans, or Karl Rove....but Alabamians just aren't that naive.

So these kind folks up in Raleigh have a pretty clean, tidy, and neat parade. No confusion. You can dress up like Mongolian hordes, bumble bees, slutty girls from Gadsen, or even be part of the Happy alien Christmas crowd....that's all ok....just don't wear a Santa suit or pretend to be Mrs. Claus.

Somewhere out there...is some Mrs. Claus tonight...mad as hell over these restrictions and asking Mr. Claus what the hell is going on. He's confused...wondering what idiot wrote these rules and caused all of this domestic trouble....and lightly sipping Jacky D's....shot-by-shot. He's nodding at Mrs. Claus's complaints...and wondering why folks needed this damn parade anyway.

Meanwhile...down in Bama....there are probably 300 women with Mrs. Santa outfits in Red Bay....and all plotting for this massive drinking game as they march down with the Santa float in the city Christmas parade. They've probably got a couple of cases of Jacky D's on board the Santa float and doing shots every one hundred feet until they get to the end.

Body Mass Rating, In College

I kinda figured it would happen one day...so this week...the story comes up. An American university has taken the step of requiring a weight and body mass index on all students. Their basic requirement? If you fail their weight or body mass standard...you are required to take a nutrition and fitness type class.

This class covers nutrition, stress, sleep, and mandates walking, aerobics, weight training and along with other physical activities.

Naturally....students are not exactly happy over the deal.

This starts out in a small public university in Pennsylvania...Lincoln University...that deals with mostly black students.

The heat got turned up this week at the university...when Tiana Lawson...a senior...finally sat down and wrote letter to the student newspaper. She basically said....she "didn't come to Lincoln to be told that my weight is not in an acceptable range. I came here to get an education."

With spring classes only eight weeks away...I'm guessing that Tiana suddenly realized that one of those mandatory classes left her now...is this nutrition and fitness class. This is something that she really didn't expect when she started with the university.

If you look at the body mass index situation....a normal rating is between 18.5 and 24.9. Anybody with a rating over 30...is required to take the "Fitness for Life" class....which requires three hours a week. I'm guessing there is a test somewhere in the middle of this mess...but don't ask me how you'd pass or fail...or if you could pay off the instructor with beer money or sex.

For those who've never played the body mass index...typically they measure your gut, and then subtract your neck size (all in inches). A typical average guy will have a 18 to 22 rating. A big guy...probably up around 24 to 26. During my military career, I was always the 24 percent guy...as much as the Air Force would allow before they got into your business.

Football players....because of the weight training...build up huge necks...so they will all be around 24 to 28 on the rating...while they look overweight...they aren't. Don't ask about the logic...it's probably a Auburn engineer with the "six-beer" formula that devised this rating system.

So it'd be a fair statement to make...that anyone over 30 in the rating...is pretty big in size.

I'm kinda laughing over this popping up in college. Usually, this is the last place that would care about your fitness...while they serve you the cheapest meal possible at the school cafeteria. They usually just want you to show....avoid being drunk during school hours...and just graduate...while naturally paying them the money they want.

As for program here in Pennsylvania? If I were amongst the upset students...I'd just show up...act dopey like you do in other actual classes...and stand there for the three hours a week. The curious thing is that if one single kid gets a heart attack or some kind of injury while in the midst of this business...the school will be sued for triggering it. While they may have thought this was a wise idea...their idea won't stand up much in court.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

The Six Feet Under Problem


It is an interesting article over Detroit....and dead bodies.

I should note here...it's the Times of London that publishes this....not a US daily paper. For the record, over the past twelve months....the eight major papers of England....have carved out the gut of American news and now cover just about everything you need. They are stomping over the USA Today, the New York Post, the LA Times, and just about every single newspaper in America.

Folks die in Detriot....and up until this year....if you were awful damn poor...the city took care of the dead. It's a service that they provided because the folks in Detroit are facing huge finanical issues just surviving....let alone burying some relative.

Back in June of this year.....the $21,000 annual county budget to bury folks in town who were basically unclaimed....ran out. The city won't refill the fund. The city used to pay $700 for a box, a burial site, and just a plain ordinary marker.

The Times mentions this one guy....Darrell Vickers....who had an aunt die of natural causes....and no one in the family could afford the $700 fee to bury her. So the aunt sit in the morgue....waiting....for someone or the city....to rescue her (really, just to bury her). Later, Darrell's granma died....and his dad ended up paying for the cremation but with a credit card (you know the type....with 20-odd percent interest). Sadly, they still didn't have the money for the aunt....so she's still sitting....waiting.

The only bright spot to this mess....a number of local philanthropists....who typically donate to schools, libraries, pet foundations, etc.....have donated $8,000 to help to bury the dead.

So the morgue has gotten around to burying around eleven people so far.....and the city only has 55 more dead folks to go.....to get into the ground.

Stimulus money to help bury the dead? Well....you would have thought that some idiot in the city or county....would have just said..."hey, we need $50k....to get some dead folks decently buried". But no....you can't spend stimulus money on dead folks or burials. That wouldn't stimulate the economy.

Remember, this is the London Times telling you this woeful story....not Newsweek or Time. Get the impression of a third-world country? At least in Afghanistan....if you die....the locals wrap up the body....go out and find a open spot....and bury you.....typically within twenty-four hours after death. In Detroit....they can't or won't....even do that.

The picture I used for this blog? These are actually Civil War stones...for men who fought in the war and died. They weren't buried by the city. They were buried either by the family themselves or by the US military.

There's something wrong here. I don't want a charitable stimulus package to fix this and then start burying everyone in America...like some national health insurance fund. But on the other hand....you don't let some guy sit in a morgue for six months....waiting for a lousy seven hundred bucks to get them six feet under.

In the south.....we would have passed the hat around the neighborhood....collected $20 from the local insurance guy....$8 from some high school kid....$40 from the local butcher who sold the woman hundreds of pounds of beef over the years....and $20 from some political figure....just to get some guy buried six feet under.

2,000 Pages

Everyone wants a house. It's almost like a right....to own a house.

So this guy comes up and tells you of a new development. Magnificent development. One-acre lots. Gated community. Pool in each backyard. High-class kitchen. Two-car garage. Fancy solar panels on the roof. High-speed internet access free for each home in the mega-sized development. Free cable provided in each home.

The price? Actually....it's all affordable. It's very reasonable. In fact, it's down right a steal. Barely $150k for this deal.

So you go down and do a walk through a model home. You spend an hour or two with the sales guy. They have a special loan deal....and everything fits neatly into your entire budget and allows for everything you could dream of.

You suggest that you'd like to make the purchase. You show up the next day....and the sales guy is there with a 2,000 page sales contract. You act puzzled but you've seen the whole house, listened to the salesmen's pitch, and added up the numbers given to you. Everything makes sense. Yet, this 2,000 page document is standing there. You gaze through three pages....and then decide that your buddies are doing this.....your old neighbor is doing this.....and it all seems legit.

So you sign and start the process of moving into the house.

By the end of week one....a package comes with meter device which is required to hook up to your free cable outlet. The purchasing company has a monitor device and measures usage in some fashion. You say no, but the legal department of the company that you bought the house from....says it's in the 2,000 page document. So you hook it up. They monitor your viewing day and night.

The next week....a bill arrives for $3,000. It's a fee for yearly security. You thought the gated community deal was built into the purchase price....but it wasn't. You have to pay.

The next week....a guy arrives to mow your perfect lawn, and hands you the bill for $65. It's part of the mandatory "care" deal that you failed to see in the 2,000 page contract.

The next week....a complaint is lodged over your wife's wear appeal in the backyard. The guy is approaching the neighborhood management committee and complaining over her bikini. One piece is ok, but a two-piece is not. You argue, for your wife's sake.....but the committee overrules your objection.

The next week....the mortgage is adjusted up one quarter percent. You get furious but the 2,000 page contract has a line which says if "x" happens....then the percentage is adjusted.

Eventually, enough of you in the community are unhappy. These are the homes or lifestyle you dreamed of. You want to sell. But here's the thing....the 2,000 page contract forbids you from selling. Once into it, you have to remain.

You start to get miserable. You feel aggravated and upset everyday because the house isn't what you wanted. You go on a vacation and stay in a place where it's practically paradise.....but the problem is that you can't escape the house you own. So the vacation ends, and you return to the hellhole.

Every neighbor is now miserable and you all meet and chat about it. There are TV news people that come and go.....asking about your miserable feelings. You chat about it, but you really can't get out of the 2,000 page deal. You'd like to just own a cabin or a cottage in the middle of some rural community, but you are stuck right there in the house that you hate.

Days, weeks, months and years pass. You are miserable. You hate each and everyday because the 5-star deal that you were offered.....doesn't truly exist. You'd like to have a better deal....but you can't really accomplish that.

When you stand there and think about the universal health care package. It's the 2,000 page deal. You expected so much and thought that it would fix all your problems. In the end....it became your chief problem....over all others.

Just a moment to sit and pause over what happens next. It might be worth thinking about.

Friday, 20 November 2009

The Fort Hood Shooter's Charity?

As if we needed to know more about the Fort Hood shooter….today, we found out that while the guy was making almost $90k a year as a major in the US Army…..he was donating almost $30k of that….to Islamic “charities”….which we can go ahead and admit that they were mostly conduits to terrorist networks.

So when I wondering why the guy was living in a $350 a month apartment there at Fort Hood….it’s now obvious why.

The Twinkie Robber

So a note from our Ramstein cop blotter.

On November 11th….around 0830 in the morning….the military cops got called out to ROB (the Army post)….to the BX facility out there….a small shop.

Apparently, a window was left open or found open.

So the BX folks and the cops check it out. So far, the only item missing? A box of twenty Hostess Twinkies. Yes, twenty Twinkies.

It’s a serious crime of sorts….which makes one ponder the event and the situation that developed after the robbery. Somewhere out there….in the evening hours….was some guy or gal (probably a guy because most women won’t touch a Twinkie….preferring instead a Lil Debbie or Cinnamon Cake). They are on some sugar rush and probably sipping a Dr Pepper or Tab while they eat their Twinkies.

I suggested to a co-worker….it might be a senior Air Force NCO….which invited a laugh or two.

So, what may transpire now…is a locked container within the facility….where the Ding Dongs, the Twinkies, and the Lil Debbies will be safely secured each evening.

The curious thing is that not one single beer was taken. Thirty years ago…..with a open window….dozens of cases of beer would have been taken and finished off by daybreak. Today, they steal Twinkies. It’s sad…really sad….with today’s military.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Moving to the "Stan"

I have been advised that I may have to change a bit in adjusting to America….kinda like moving to a third-world country, you know. So I sat and looked over the crime, the mayhem, the shootings, and the adventurous nature of Arlington.

I’ve come now to rename it to Arlington-stan (after Pakistan, Afghanistan, or any of those other funny “stan” countries). Apparently, there are tribal leaders, war lords, and charity workers running operations there. Across the river, into DC-stan, are the Mullahs (senators and congressmen) who run operations there.
Media people come and interview the Mullahs daily….reporting back through to Arlington-stan and the surrounding region.

Roving bands of bandits operate from the Arlington-stan. You have to watch for them and keep yourself safe by traveling mostly in daylight hours or within convoys.

The War Lords of Arlington-stan have a fee and tax system to make enough money to cover their operations in the region. You can’t avoid it….either via cars, gas tax, car registration or pay income you make in the region….you pay.

As I arrive in Arlington-stan….I’ll try to report daily over the operations and counter-operations going on. It’s not worth an entire blog-site but I’m sure it’ll be exciting and give me a totally new prospective of a third-world country.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Contractor Doom, Doom I tell You

I’ve been a contractor for the Air Force for almost ten years now. I’ve seen just about everything….business-wise….that you’d expect, except until the last month or two.

The government made a quiet decision back in the mid-summer….to convert over one hundred contractor jobs on base to GS. The timing of this was a serious item of discussion. Most everyone had a problem….particularly, the company involved (which shall remain nameless).

So what neither the government guys or the contract company really grasped….the structure of various contracts. So as this switch to GS was to occur….contracts were running out, and they couldn’t be extended. Yep, you can imagine the mess when the personnel guys couldn’t move in and advertise the GS jobs “quick”.

So this week, the company started handing out layoff notices for a group of guys in one division with one contract (not my deal). The government guys are scratching their heads because their entire knowledge base….is being told to say “adios” at the end of November. So the boys are now sending out resumes and preparing to leave.

The government? They are rushing to get some kind of contract in place….to fill this period….and keep their expertise intact. There’s virtually zero chance of things working.

You can see the entire problem with GS employees now. I watched my case as it occurred. I answered my advertisement at the end of July….I waited sixty days before they called for a interview. I was told a month ago that I was the pick, but had to wait until last week when the security portion and the bodily fluids test came back ok. I won’t be showing up till the week after Christmas. So this took five months to fill a job. In the contractor world….we will fill a slot in 45 days. It’s all about money and moving quick.

So the first group now within my company is getting layoff notes….and another group will get notes in three to four weeks. If I stayed….around mid-January….I’d be getting a lay-off notice.

The humorous part of this…is that the Air Force is standing there with money…and literally begging to make the system work right. And it can’t.

After watching all of this unfold for the past eight months….I’m almost of the mind that the KGB, the Chinese, or some evil world power….has to be paying folks off in various areas of Air Force contracting and personnel….to make so many incompetent mistakes.

I will be leaving this mess in early January….and going into a real organization, with a real mission, and competent people. I’ve learned a lot while being in Germany….but I’ve witnessed the downfall of a massive organization….due to 5-star incompetence. This well-oiled machine….is spinning….with no movement.

Bama "Too Much Nudity" Part II

My brother...the engineer from Auburn...felt challenged from my blog yesterday on maximum density of nudity...how a Bama nightclub guy got arrested for his gals displaying "too much nudity".

I asked him...once you reach one hundred nudity, in a Bama nightclub...how can you go past that point, and then have too much nudity?

It must have bothered him an awful lot. Probably today....gazing at the fields as he transversed to the technology capital of the south...Huntsville....he uttered the formula:

as the limit of time->infinity, the function n00d(x) exceeds 1E02 when the nood(x) function intersects the function of alcohol_consumption(x), where alcohol_consumption(x) > six_beers

There in an instant.....he had developed the theory of how to go beyond 100 percent nudity, and have too much nudity. Einstein had years on his theory, but Auburn genius had achieved this "too much" theory in a matter of ten minutes.....with the neat part of this involving six beers (it always has to be six in the final conclusion....by a state law or something).

The problem here is that we are wasting great minds in Bama on projects like this and not working toward the perfect bar-b-q sauce (sadly, it would have to involve six beers in the end too).

Eleven Reporters

There’s a reason why I regard the Associated Press (AP) folks as a second-rate organization and not really “news-dedicated”.....today, they proved their point again. To size up Sarah Palin’s new book...they decided to dedicate 11 reporters to the effort....to “truth-out” the entire book from cover to cover.

There are 432 pages....so you can see where this is going. Each guy had roughly 45 pages to dig into and figure how true, how false, or how whatever....this book might be.

So....you’d think that 20 reporters would be pulled for the 1900 pages of the new health bill passed by the house. Well...no, the AP folks don’t have time for stuff like that.

So.....you’d think that they’d put five reporters on the Obama books....to find out the missing pieces of his life that he hasn’t chatted about. But no, that hasn’t happened.

So....you’d think that various parts of the stimulus bill from early in 2009....would be dragged out and the AP would dedicate twenty reporters to find the actual truth of the success or failure....but no, that hasn’t happened.

The AP....is finding a straight trail down to the level of the Time and Newsweek crowd. They haven’t done 5-star work in years. They might still earn honors...but then Katie Couric is earning honors as well...and honors don’t really anything like they used to.

If you might be wondering about profitability of news organizations....you might want to ask the AP guys if they can afford eleven reporters out for a week....doing research like this....and having barely forty lines of real text to show for their effort. But then, maybe profit isn't their goal....you know....maybe it's a charity-run news organization. Well....it could happen...you know.

The Taser Story

So this mom in Arkansas….out of Ozark….has a ten-year old kid whose gone crazy and nuts…..screaming and yelling….and the mom calls the cops. A deputy comes out to the house…..Dustin Bradshaw.

We don’t really know Dustin, but we can assume he’s pretty much a logical guy and fairly reasonable about approaching situations like this…especially a ten-year old kid.

So Dustin walks in and finds the kid yelling and screaming. The kid wouldn’t listen to her mother and wouldn’t respond to anything that was being uttered to her.
The kid simply wasn’t going to do anything that either said.

So Dustin takes the kid to the living room and tells her she’s going to jail. Then, at this critical moment….the kid lays into Dustin….kicking him violently….striking Dustin in the groin with her feet.

I will pause here for a second….we can only imagine Dustin’s pain, suffering and woes at this point…..with a strong kick to the groin. Dustin apparently holds his peace….and decides….with the mother’s encouragement (she actually said to use his taser on the kid)….he applied a “very, very brief” stun with the taser, and puts the kid in handcuffs.

Dustin drove the kid over to the Western Arkansas Youth Shelter….and deposited her there.

I’m guessing the mom is finished messing with the kid and that kid will be there for a fair amount of time.

There are a couple of observations here. Folks are going to naturally look down on Dustin for using the stun gun on a 10-year old kid. I would reflect on the amount of damage that the kid has inflected and the potential for more damage. I’d also suggest that this kid has a strong episode ADS and probably is out of control for most of the normal day.

Would I put my kid into a shelter? If you've done just about everything and they simply cannot be brought under control...by age ten or eleven....you have to do it. You don't want to be standing there with a kid big enough to cause major physical damage on you and no mental ability to control themselves.

So you can imagine this kid now….having gotten a good healthy dose of taser….and her immediate reaction when it’s pulled next time (“Don’t tase me bro”).

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

The Degree of "Too Much"?

This is a Bama story that poses a very serious question. Down in Houston County....the cops came up and determined that the manager and a dancer of a newly opened club (you can imagine the type)...needed to be arrested. Apparently, the county sheriff had reports of nudity. Naturally, in Bama, law enforcement is usually called out and then sits through twelve hours of shows....to make a final determination. In some cases, the local Baptist minister is also asked to help evaluate the situation.

After enough evaluation...deputies arrested the owner...Michael Gene Cox....and then charged him with running a club that allowed "too much nudity".

I paused over that comment..."too much nudity". Once you remove your clothing...you are nude, and at 100 percent. You can't really go to 110 percent or 150 percent nudity.

In this case, nude is nude. You've reached maximum capacity...as an engineer would say. That should be it, unless of course, you're in Dothan and then, maybe, you can get an extra ten percent nude. One's imagination is then left to what folks might consider as extra nude in Dothan. It's best not to ask....I think.

Naive is Good.....Sort Of

I had a work associate a couple of years ago....that I met once or twice a week and we'd have a water-cooler chat for five minutes.

The guy had gone back to the states and visited his mom in Florida. She was a retiree and finally going on social security and medicare at age 65. She was apparently living in a trailer deal....with a old friend, who was only 60 and not yet on either system.

Apparently, his mom had gone for medical procedures and everything paperwork-wise was all prepared for submission to Medicare. For some reason, his mom got a copy of the bill and kept it. A couple of months later.....her friend from the trailer came up and needed the same procedure. She's got private health care insurance....and has to co-pay like a quarter of the cost of the procedure.

Mom is looking at the paperwork and then pulls out her paperwork....and there is this price difference. Mom is upset about this. The friend ended up paying something like twenty percent more than Mom, and it was the same identical procedure. She even went line by line down the receipt for both of them.

She went to the clinic and tried to get rational explanations why she got a good deal and why her friend didn't get the same good deal. The lady at the desk tried to be nice about this but her simple explanation was that Medicare only pays X amount.....and that's all the clinic can charge for that procedure. That really didn't make my associate's Mom happy about the whole thing.

So my associate sat there.....and laid out the whole reasoning of Medicare and how it really works. Basically, the government agrees to only pay X, and the doctors have to accept this....and basically call it a free discount....but they have to make up for this discount, compliments of the government, by charging everyone else a bit more to come out even.

It began to dawn on Mom at this point....that the entire system was a rigged deal. You got a free discount for being 65....and nothing more. Everyone was accepting of this....even the doctors....to make this work.

The curious thing that I thought about after hearing this story....is how many Americans over the age of 65 actually grasp the entire gimmick of Medicare and how it works? Maybe two percent? Maybe ten percent? They all just accept it because it appears to be easy and simple to use....just flash the card....and everything's taken care of. Don't ask questions over something that might be complicated.

It was one of those lessons in life for me.....people tend to just accept things without many questions. And if they did ask questions....they probably wouldn't be that happy over the whole thing and how it works. We are better off with a naive society.

Monday, 16 November 2009

The Andy School of Management


As a kid, I managed to watch every single episode of Andy Griffith. As an adult….I repeated the experience about fifteen times per episode.

I look back at all the attempts the Air Force made in training me to be a manager or leader….and the truth be known….the ‘Andy School of Management’ probably had more success than any of the Air Force’s attempts.

I went through around half-a-dozen University of Maryland and Louisiana Tech classes in management skills….and none came within a mile of the ‘Andy School’.

How can this be? Well….the Andy method was to approach each person with a slightly different view of their situation. What works with Barney….just doesn’t work with Aunt Bee. What worked with Opie….could never work with Gomer. So you have to really start to know people….their vision….their problems….their attitude….their personality conflicts.

The Andy method requires that you start with a full-gallon of patience. If you lack patience, then the method will never work. You are basically walking out to the pond with a two worms for the entire day….and hoping that just one of these will be enough to do the job and bring a fish home.

The Andy method dictates that you prioritize problems. You can’t fix fifty in a day. You fix the most important stuff, and then leave the rest for tomorrow. Unless you were intending to depart the Earth in a pine box tomorrow….there’s no reason to rush.

The Andy method requires you to fix what you can fix, and for those problems with no fix possible…..you accept it. Don’t whine. Don’t drink yourself into a fit for the next ten years over what you couldn’t fix or accept. It’s a done deal….either it’s fixed or you learn to accept it.

A leader over difficult people with impossible personalities? The Andy method is simple….you bring them in….and have an eye-to-eye chat. The amount of pain or woes or terror they are inflicting on your team or group…isn’t going to be accepted. You show a slight grin as you announce this to them….as if in a poker game and you know the cards in your hands and theirs. Then you give them an indicator of friendly persuasion. You want them to proceed to a middle-grounds of sort. They need to come up for a bit of fresh air and grasp that most folks just aren’t buying into their act anymore.

The Andy method dictates little acceptance of gossip or its pretended value.

The Andy method meant two minutes of friendly chat with folks...to give them the time of day and at least offer to console them on a tough afternoon or a rough morning.

The Andy method requires seriousness at times...but can flex to meet a situation with a bit of humor or a moment of wit.

The Andy method isn’t precise. Sometimes….you just have to take a fishing pole and hope for a natural answer in the end.

So when you’ve tired of all the various methods of management….and you’ve got problems that need a different approach….maybe it’s time to pull out the Andy method and see if a different approach works.

Madness in America

My co-worker’s brother-in-law....an Army guy....twenty-five years old....was shot and killed over the weekend near Nashville. The guy went out to some nightclub....said something that triggered some guy to go with his three buddies to a car. A round was fired....killing the young NCO.

A local paper put up the basic story....then pasted the four pictures of the guys arrested by the cops. All of them are from the Nashville area.....all are 19 to 21 years old. One guy will be the trigger guy and get a twenty-five year sentence out of the deal. I’m guessing the three guys...if they are lucky...might walk free if they point out the trigger guy.

It’s a waste of life....going out to some club....and then killed for some comment you made in the club. You look around, and there’s probably fifty guys killed every Saturday night now in the US....at bar’s and clubs.....just because they said the wrong thing.

Something’s wrong with this picture. You go back thirty years ago.....there would have been a fight and one guy would have been given a black eye for his stupid comment. Today.....you got to shoot the guy.

This is something that I’ve missed here in Germany. Folks don’t get shot like this. You might have a black eye or get beaten severely....but this shoot-them-up game just isn’t played.

The Fort Hood Shooter & Army Values

From the 14 Nov 2009 edition of the Washington Post…came a great article by Colbert I. King. From the aspect of evaluating the Fort Hood shooter….Mr. King came to one important conclusion….there are seven values held by every single member of the US Army. Major Nidal Malik Hasan failed all seven values….miserably:

Loyalty? Hasan wore the uniform but he did not bear true faith and allegiance to his fellow soldiers. His devotion was to himself and his version of his beliefs. He had no loyalty to the Army.

Duty? He wanted to renege on his obligations and abandon his responsibilities. He said yes to medical training, but no to being part of a team deployed overseas.

Respect? He claimed not to get any, even as he failed to treat others with the dignity and respect due them. Thirteen caskets and 38 victims with bullet wounds tell the tale.

Selfless service? "Go a little further, endure a little longer, and look a little closer to see how you can add to the effort" is the way the Army puts it. The country's welfare matters. Hasan put his own above that of the Army or his comrades.

Honor? There was no honor in what he did. Hasan sat in the readiness center, deceiving others into believing he was one of them.

Integrity? His piety was demolished by his immoral, criminal and hate-filled behavior.

Personal courage? It took no physical courage to open fire on the unprotected. Where is the moral courage in seeking refuge in Miranda protection after a murderous rampage?

It’s difficult to imagine some guy making it into the Army….then disposing of every single thing that they taught him….and then becoming an absolute threat to every single member of the US Army.

I’ve come over the past week to have zero respect for the guy, and his religious beliefs start to become a major issue in my mind. He allowed a religious belief to overcome the safety of those around him….which is something that no man in uniform can allow. If you have such a strong belief and you can’t play “airman”, “grunt”, “sailor”, or “Army”, then you fold up the tent and just quit. He wouldn’t do that….which makes him lower than dirt.

Playboy Spiraling?


In the next week or two....the December 2009 issue of Playboy will come out. The key article? They've done an entire article on taking down Fox News and an "honest" survey of Glenn Beck....to mention every single fault...but less of any positive things the guy may have done.

To be honest, I haven't touched a Playboy magazine since January of 1998...the period of my deployment to Turkey...living in tent city....and the military tradition of guys buying magazines for everybody around the tent to read.

For that brief period where I might have read three or four Playboy magazines...I kept wondering why I ever read this in my younger years at 18 or 19 years old. The gentlemanly fashion....the style of living in LA....the technical garbage on stereo selection....and the 1-star interviews of the publication....were a joke.

I remember a serious discussion that erupted at my old TV room at Rhein Main Air Base in 1979...where four guys sat there....three in mostly negative view of the publication. I was the sole neutral guy...just voicing the idea that it was a gentlemen's magazine. I was quietly put down and assured that it was for wussy guys with no real appeal to real women.

I paused here to ask my learned friends for a description of "real women", and was assured that the description mostly fits a big-boobed gals, who wore tube tops, uttered mostly four-letter words, drink beer from a bottle, knew twenty rules about professional football, never listened to opera or classical music, and could tell a good whiskey from a cheap whiskey.

They urged me to lay down the Playboy magazine and come to the dark side....mostly Hustler or just hanging out on the third floor "C-wing" with the hotties who resided there. I questioned their logic. Shouldn't a guy be the cool Playboy type? Shouldn't a gal appreciate a gentleman who uses the right colors of clothing, listens to jazz and knows how to make amusing Italian dishes with shrimp? Their response was simple....what kind of woman adores a guy like that?

I became a lesser gentleman of sorts....reading less and less Playboy from that point on. By age 30, I probably read one issue a year and by age thirty-five had switched to more informed reading vehicles.

Today? Playboy is dying. It is a publication that is barely surviving today. This article? It'll be read by maybe 250,000 readers at the most. How many are Republicans who will dump their subscription? Probably thirty percent.

The sad thing? Their top article for the month? Joanna Krupa from Dancing with the Stars. Yeah....that's it. That'll help the publication sell. Yeah. Their trash job on Fox News and Glenn Beck...didn't even make the top bit of the cover....some gal from Dancing with the Stars is it.

I'm thinking Playboy has three years of publication left.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Logic Lessons in Life


"I will not be pushed, briefed, debriefed, stamped, indexed or numbered.''

There are several reasons why a person enjoys the British series "The Prisoner". Most of these all center around a guy who won't compromise himself or his principals. The quote from above....was the one that I enjoyed the most.

The series was short-lived and the curious end is that you never knew if they were the enemy or his own organization just testing him. It was original and demanding your analysis of each show.

It's funny....over thirty years have passed and I still regard the show as one of the five that defined my sense of logic and ideals. Amongst all of the trash that ever got put on TV....there were a handful that made it to the heartland and brought a wealth of knowledge. When you group it with Andy Griffith, The Waltons, Star Trek, and The Twilight Zone....you had a vast learning experience.

Sometimes, you can gain logic from TV.

The Prisoner Remake

I noticed this week....off on the channel AMC....there was a remake series of the British show....The Prisoner.

I came as a kid in Bama to watch the entire series of the Prisoner. There were only seventeen episodes, and it concluded in 1968. I think I actually watched it in 1974 on the Bama educational channel (thank God that they actually had real Brit entertainment).

There's something about a series, that has only seventeen episodes. You tend to remember each sequence and each detail. It was the "Lost" of it's day. It was well written and demanded analysis of what you viewed. It tested you.

So here is a new Prisoner series. I went to the clip and watched it. It'd didn't thrill me. It didn't give me much of a reason to view the new series.

That's often the problem with remakes of popular series. If you tried to bring back Gunsmoke today, it'd likely fail by the second season. If you brought back up Three's Company.....I would imagine it'd be a marginal success. If you tried to make a remake of the Andy Griffith Show....it'd be a total failure.

I suspect with the Prisoner....we'll see a brief run of maybe two years and then it'll get dropped. Meanwhile....if you are sitting around and spot the Prisoner series at the video rental shop.....pick it up and enjoy a five-star show.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Just Being Hugo

Sometimes, I'd like to make stuff up...but then real events happen...which sound better than even made-up stuff.

This week....out of Venezuela...President Hugo Chavez had a speech where he laid out a major issue in Venezuela....too many fat folks in the country.

Yep, his quote was: "there are lots of fat people". He then turned to his faithful advisers and urged them to exercise and eat healthy. Then he said a curious thing: "I'm not saying fat women, because they never get fat. Women sometimes fill out."

This is kinda what a smart and intelligent guy in Bama says when he's at the girlfriend's house and she's asks him about her weight bothering him. Naturally, all Bama guys are smart enough to quickly say something of brilliance....to get them off the hook for something that they'd really like to say.

What I enjoy about Hugo...is that each week....he has a new issue or problem facing the country. It doesn't matter if it's fat people, golf courses, cheap whiskey, jello, George Bush (even if he's been out of office ten months....he's still mentioned), and US TV shows.

In an average week, Hugo spends around ten hours giving interviews or speeches. Unlike President Obama....this is the one guy who can give a hour-long speech....without a teleprompter or a script itself. I'm waiting for the day when Katie Couric to interview the guy and ask forty questions which he answers with a 10-minute answer for each and every one....even if he likes gravy over his dumplings.

So somewhere out there tonight....250,000 overweight Venezuelan gals are smiling at the manliness of Hugo Chavez and his pleasant description of their weight problem. Meanwhile....a bunch of guys are sitting there and shaking their heads over this idiot and his complaint of the week.

A Bit of Rush


Not that I listen to Rush, but once a week, there is a five-star moment, which naturally came yesterday.

A caller came on...a business employee....who has her new company benefits package. Basically...the company has stood up and said that they'd pay 100 percent of all medical charges related to heart valve replacement, bypass surgeries, knee replacements, hip replacements, and spinal fusion.

No deductible, no coinsurance, no copay.

The thing is...these would take place at a medical hospital in Costa Rica. Yep, there about three hours south of Dallas by plane....sunny, tropical Costa Rica.

Naturally, Rush didn't quietly believe this...and this five-minute conversation ended up turning a 500-watt bulb on. You could see an enormous amount of interest in this deal.

So this employee laid out the basic's. In fact, the company was developing a strong relationship with a travel agency...that would specialize in the hotel and air travel necessary for this type situation.

I sat there....pondering this. Europeans have been utilizing Bombay hospitals like this for the past decade. There are other facilities in Poland that offer discount medical procedures for half the price that you'd find in France.

The curious thing is that you have an American company that has made the Costa Rica option....an actual true-blue option. I would even imagine that this goes a bit further in nature within a year. They might actually fly a Costa Rican doctor into the US for five days of consulting at the company, and then rig up whatever procedures you need for the next week. You fly out on a Friday afternoon.....swing by their clinic in Costa Rica on Saturday for the procedure....and fly home on Sunday. Air fare? I'd bet less than $150 for the trip, and maybe $40 a night for the hotel there. A $3k procedure could be done for $1000 in Costa Rica and $500 of your money for the travel costs.

Could this catch on? Yes. I could see thousands of companies waking up next week....discussing the option, and signing the company up to Costa Rican medical care.

Would it be smart in the long-run? Well.....if suddenly by 2011....you had 80,000 Americans flying to Costa Rica daily....I can see problems developing, and costs going up. If I were to take a guess on how many Americans fly daily into Costa Rica now.....I'd guess 1,000 a day.

This would ruin Harry Reid's plan.....but I doubt that Harry will allow this Costa Rican option to stand. He'll mandate every single American would have to get crappy 1-star American health care by an American plan....period, no exceptions.

So imagine yourself.....a bad knee.....you need an operation....and the boss signs the paperwork, and you pull out $500, and on Monday of next week....you fly into Costa Rica. You have a nifty 3-star hotel along the beach. You get a free bottle of rum upon arrival. You are greeted by several gals at the desk named Carla, Delfina, and Valenica....who all smile and offer to heal your pains and cure your woes. The doc greets you and gives you the best rum and coke that you've ever had. You have the operation and spend ten days in Costa Rica.....with half the hours spent at the laptop doing work from the office and the boss allows that to count for man-hours. Your knee feels great now.....you have a tan.....you gained five pounds from eating cheap steak every evening....and you've consumed over six bottles of free rum while in pain (no med addiction).

Would a guy ask for anything better?

The GPS Scheme


An event is about to unfold in the Netherlands, which may have an impact on every single country within ten years. The Dutch government announced that it wants to introduce a "green" road tax, which would be run by a GPS device in your car, which would report mileage. The entire concept of vehicle taxes and the vehicle sales tax would be tossed....but don't worry...the gas tax will remain firmly in place.

The idea is that the GPS box will report this to a collection agency...who will have your account number and then deduct for each kilometer. The expected charge? These guys are talking about 4 US cents per kilometer currently. That would mean rougly six US cents per mile.

The intended result? The Netherlands will readily admit that they have serious traffic congestion around thirty percent of the entire country. They figure this would force folks to use public transportation. The other plus-up....in their mind....is to cut C02 production.

The boys were even nice enough to indicate that the tax would be doubled by 2018.

The only exemptions here? Taxis, vehicles for the disabled, buses, motorcycles and classic cars.

I sat and pondered over this. There are four observations.

First, there are tens of thousands of foreign-tagged cars which transit the Netherlands daily. They said they'd rig up some type of collection deal on them....but haven't yet said how this would work. I'm guessing they want you to pull off the road upon entering the country....to some inspector....and report the mileage...and then do the same thing as leaving the country. Course, being from Bama....I'm very aware of the back roads situation....and a smart guy could bypass this entire mess.

Second, I'm kinda wondering what happens if a guy accidentally had the cable running from from the battery to the GPS cut. Naturally, a guy might be driving around for months before he discovered this. Not that this would happen....you know.

Third, I am a bit worried that the idiot Germans might jump onboard with this concept. The problem here is that two thirds of the country is rural and a guy has to travel a little bit to shop or work. The rural guys would be punished for living rural and the urban guys would be rewarded for living urban. Something about that....just ain't right.

Fourth, and final...all classic cars are exempt. Just a analytical moment....but I suspect that antique or classic cars...are going to become a major deal in the Netherlands...with a 1977 Buick probably worth its weight in gold. Everyone would go out and start buying old cars....even if they weren't classics....and burn three times the amount of C02....with 15 miles per gallon....just to avoid the stupid satellite or GPS tax.

For some reason, I have doubts that this will be a long-lived thing. Imagine the car dealers who suddenly see a major drop-off in car sales. Imagine the gas tax which would suddenly drop by forty percent and no one would be able to afford road maintenance. Imagine people refusing to travel anywhere and just living out their entire life...maybe forty years....within six miles of their current home.

Something about this....just ain't right.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Company Crap

Today, we got this presentation from the company (I shall leave as unnamed) on workplace violence.

Part of the presentation had to do with perpetrators....folks who show history of violent behavior, intimidation of folks, substance abuse, often making veiled threats, etc. I sat there and kept thinking....if HR would do their actual job....you wouldn’t have guys like this hired.

Under my six years with SAIC....we rarely ever saw anyone with issues. We had the one guy with issues of working in a windowless environment.....but otherwise, no one was ever a “nut-type”. The HR guys with SAIC always asked for reference, and tended to look for people who had worked with you and could vouch for you.

My present company? Zero effort on references or checking folks out.

Typically....they just look for a guy willing to work for a pretty low amount of money. Otherwise, they don’t care about his character. Once you look around the contractor world....you start to notice alot of these lackluster efforts.

So I sat there laughing for a while....here’s a neat presentation....the first of its type in five years of employment with this company. They’ve brought in a number of folks with emotional and character issues....but these were folks who agreed to work for less.

I'm kinda wondering who the presentation was geared for...because it really doesn't help any of us working with the 'problem children'.

The Fort Hood Shooter

It’s hard to find a better analyst of America than Charles Krauthammer. This weeks article....Medicalizing Mass Murder....probably asks the some questions that people want to avoid. The entire article circles around the Fort Hood shooter and his accomplishment.

Charles writes.....after all the comments from writers about popular story lines appear about soldiers returning from ‘the war’:

They suffered. He listened. He snapped.

Really? What about the doctors and nurses, the counselors and physical therapists at Walter Reed Army Medical Center who every day hear and live with the pain and the suffering of returning soldiers? How many of them then picked up a gun and shot 51 innocents?

Then Charles comes to the five-star moment….describing the hour-long training seminar that the shooter gave to fellow medical associates at Walter Reed Hospital….describing “the Koranic view of military service, jihad and war. It included an allegedly authoritative elaboration of the punishments visited upon nonbelievers -- consignment to hell, decapitation, having hot oil poured down your throat. This "really freaked a lot of doctors out," reported NPR”.

At various stages….in most work atmospheres….people would have said enough and just pulled the guy out….done the paperwork….and terminated him from government service. Yet, everyone overlooked his eccentric nature and gave him a free pass.

The problem here….is that you had a absolute nut…..who should have been seen as a nut, identified as a nut, and out processed as a nut. No one was willing to cross that line and do the right thing.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Just a Friendly Alien Visit

Not that most folks in Bama would care...but the Vatican stood up this week and had an interesting meeting. Basically....they wanted to study the possibility of extraterrestrial alien life. Then, since they were the sponsor....they wanted to know the implication for the Catholic Church, if there were such life.

For the Catholic Church....this is a discussion with serious implications. If Novo the Alien lands....at least half the congregation for every Catholic Church is going to go up to the priest within days and ask how this all fits into church doctrine. Frankly, the church had better things to worry about for the past 2,000 years. So this alien question is a curve for the guys to grasp and try to work up a clear statement for their membership.

I'm guessing at the end....they will conclude that the likelihood is pretty high that we will eventually prove some other beings exist. And the church will quietly work up a question and answer piece for the Pope to have and be prepared for the 'big' day. It could be a year away.....or five hundred years away....but they probably are past the point of saying 'it'll never happen'.

The key feature to this Q&A piece for the Pope? Seize on the moment and announce that the Vatican will seek to convert all the aliens over to their group.

You can imagine the Baptist guys sitting around this weekend.....the big-name guys are all thinking....dang, we need to meet and discuss this situation. So they'll rig up some Baptist-alien meeting....probably in New Orleans.....probably a five-day meeting where various discussion groups will take on the serious topic. Naturally, only two or three guys will be in each group, with the rest out on the bar district and handling strip shows. At the end....the Baptists will have the same concept.....seize the moment and convert all these aliens to being Baptists....and make sure their counties are anti-alcohol.

Eventually, all of these religious groups....even the snake handlers and the Islam guys....will come to this conclusion. Converting will be priority number one.

I feel kinda sorry for those woeful aliens finally coming to visit Earth....all those damn religious nuts coming to convert them and they weren't expecting something like that. They just might jump back into the ship and head back home.

Just a Healthy Consumption Rate


Some interesting news that you won't find in the local or state paper...nor hear much of on any of the "news" channels, regarding carbon, C02, and global warming. The boys at Bristol University have been busy, and they've basically concluded that the balancing line between airborne and the absorption fraction of C02....has stayed the same since 1850.

In basic terms? We toss around dramatic emissions of C02, at a rate of 2 billion tons a year in 1850...to 35 billion tons a year today...and this damn Earth kept the balancing line at the same rate. Frankly, it shouldn't have been that way...if the wannabe environmentalists were correct in their various analysis and computer models.

This means that the trees, shrubs, grass, and oceans...have the ability to absorb C02 to a huge capacity....that no one would have expected.

Here's the fascinating part of this study...they did it....without any complex climate models. Fascinating? They used actual data and real statistics.....some all the way from Antarctic ice.

You would think the climate control guys...the environmentalists....the men of Earthly knowledge.....would all be awful happy, and ready to pursue other worrisome factors like meteors hitting Earth, aliens visiting the Earth, or Volcanoes....but no....they came right back with a question...they now want to know why the proportion being absorbed hasn't changed. Every rule in their book says it should have.

In a way....they may have a point. Logically, you would think that things have a certain path, a certain feed rate, a certain consumption rate....and that it can't vary much. In this case....it had to vary alot. But in the fashion that you could have a dozen catfish in some tank....toss them the normal amount of food....and then double it up over a year.....they'd likely consume the extra food and simply put on extra weight. Logically, there is some magical point where they won't consume more than X amount. The question here now....how much can the Earth consume and how far away are we from that point?

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Cash-For-F-150s Program


So as some dude was sitting there…typing up the cash-for-clunkers program for congress, and the President. Here was this moment of deciding that some rules had to exist.

So one of these rules was that the junker you were turning in….had to get better gas mileage than the new vehicle. This was believed to fix up the case where a guy took his wife’s old car and swapped it for a new Ford F-150 pick-up. Guys will do something like that, you know.

So the AP went out and asked for the statistics of the whole cash-for-clunkers program. Then they came to a surprising number. Almost 8,200 folks….swapped their old Ford F-150, for a new Ford F-150. As the AP reports….that was an improvement of 1 to 3 miles per gallon.

Some experts have hinted that this violated the fancy rules and that the government should ask for their money back from the dealers. Since most dealers are on the verge of bankruptcy anyway….I kinda doubt this will occur.

So we are left with this curious mentality. A guy has spent maybe ten years of his life with a Ford F-150 truck. He’s cleaned it. He’s used it to haul trash, sheet metal, lumber, dirt, flea market items, old carpet, and kegs of beer. He’s probably gotten it stuck up to the axle at least once….hit a bird or two….dented the hood while jumping on top of it in a fit of drunkenness, and slipped four mufflers on it as they rusted quickly.

Yet, through all this trouble….he stuck to the Ford F-150. As many problems as it triggered….he couldn’t think of another vehicle he’d rather have.

What the AP guys didn’t tell you….was the state-by-state percentage. Of the 8,200 folks….I’m willing to wager 6,000 of them were from Bama. As one guy did it…his neighbor observed this….and did the same thing.

So right now….slyly sitting is Ford….smiling quietly…avoiding a grin. This whole deal was a favor in some mad fashion….from the government….to Ford and a bunch of die-hard F-150 fans.

Six Hours?

So lets get this straight….the shooter at Fort Hood….a hardcore Islamic dude….just a week or two prior to the shooting….paid cover charges and sat for six hours at some strip bar in the local area?

Most guys, if they go into a strip bar….they go with a group of guys….buy two or three drinks over 90 minutes….watch a couple of shows….and then leave.

In the office, we discussed this bit of news. Amongst six guys….I couldn’t find anyone who ever sat for more than two hours in a strip joint….with most admitting they never stayed more than an hour or two drinks at some club like this.

It’s just another indicator of a nut, hiding behind various fronts (Islam, Army uniform, etc).

A Long Night

“We love death more then you love life!"

This was the quote used by the Fort Hood shooter months ago….go explain the whole Islamic conflict to people in an audience.

I sat and paused over this one-liner. It says a lot. It’s hard for me to imagine folks in this frame of mind…unless they really see a plus-up in suicide. Frankly, as you start to gaze at the entire crowd who get hyper over Islam….have this mentality.

So I pondered this. Over the state of Bama…..amongst the several million folks in the state….if you walked out and asked who might feel love death more than life…..you’d be hard pressed to find a hundred folks in this frame of mind. In fact, I’d wager that if you find more than eight folks in the entire state….you’d be lucky.

This is the key problem with this religious conviction and Islam….it simply doesn’t appear to people who are happy in life. If you are taking the full breathe of life…..enjoying each morning….and eagerly waiting tomorrow…..you are a bad candidate for Islam. You’d be best advised to pass on this opportunity.

How many candidates across the US might fit into this mentality? That’s another issue. Even in Texas….I’d wager less than twenty might fit into this attitude.
The shooter used this comment to drive home his conviction to the audience, and it infuriated the bulk of the group listening….long before the end and where he tossed out this one-liner. At no point in this training episode….did any of the folks get up….which is the puzzling part of the training episode.

Here are these military folks….sitting in a seminar….and this guy launches into a 50-slide presentation over a topic that had nothing to do with what was assigned. Some folks voiced questions early into this presentation about how this related to their training requirement, and got no real defense….but sat there still. But this was a medical group of sorts. In my field….intelligence and systems….I kinda doubt that any of the guys would have sat there and taken this presentation.

So out there....quietly tonight...are a number of guys whose chief preference of thinking...is to die...rather than live. Their logic? They have so little to give in life....so they have more to give in death.

Frankly, nothing about this makes any sense. So this night will be long and without any hope for these fools with so little ambition in life.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

The Maine Results

This week....the gay marriage question in Maine kinda got settled.....the public determined....as in all previous votes throughout the US....no, they weren't going to sign up to gay marriage.

After a number of votes like this....you would eventually think that the topic would taper off and become a secondary subject. I doubt that in this case. The gang will regroup....come up with a new strategy for election 2010....and find at least three or four states to enter the gay marriage law again. California will be on that list....and I would imagine at least one New England state.

As you stand back and survey these losses.....there's a pretty fair trend here.....folks aren't buying the intended design of the law. They aren't being influenced by the commercials. The public isn't buying pretender journalists and their "facts". Big name star chats and commentary by Oprah or Hollywood aren't having much effect.

If I were of the pro-gay crowd....I'd start to think of a more indirect method....less aggressive...less hostile....and more agreeable method of acceptance. Having civil unions recognized in all fifty states might be a easier goal and more agreeable to accomplish. Tossing the 'in-you-face' type tactics....might help in some ways as well. Going hardcore on religious groups....doesn't help your cause in any fashion....this should have been learned several years ago.

Will my advice have any effect? No. I'm betting on a very confrontational and hardcore effort in 2010. Everything doubles in terms of effect. Settle back and enjoy the show.

How Things Work

So there in the midst of the house bill passed....in all it's glory....was a simple paragraph:

Listed in Title I "Immediate Reforms," Sec. 101 "National High Risk Pool Program," paragraph (3)(g) "Covered Benefits Cost Sharing Premiums and Consumer Protection" is paragraph (7) (h)(2) with the heading "Insufficient Funds." This states, “If the Secretary estimates for any fiscal year that the aggregate amounts available for payment of expenses of the high-risk pool will be less than the amount of the expenses, the Secretary shall make such adjustments as are necessary to eliminate such deficit, including reducing benefits, increasing premiums, or establishing waiting lists."

So you read this. Then you begin to realize that this is a floating program....where year by year, month by month, week by week, day by day, and hour by hour....adjustments are necessary. The curious thing is that none of these are really handled via congress or the senate. Some Secretary is standing there....and having to make some changes....and punch the "complete" button.

Imagine yourself.....Karl of Red Bay....sitting there on the porch, and getting the call from Doc Monty over at Tuscumba....you've got some severe joint pain that is apparently bothering you badly. The doc says it's fixable, but he's got to forward some paperwork up to the regional office that holds your government option healthcare package. Then he asks you ten questions. Naturally, you try to be honest.

You ask the doc....so when can we have this operation.....causing this is an awful bad pain on your joints and you've got tired of the simple pain killers. Doc is quiet for a moment, and then says....oh, it might take a couple of weeks. He offers up a six-week prescription of some fine 5-star pain-killers that would knock out an elephant.

Weeks pass....and finally the request comes back.....disapproved for this financial year. Apparently, in this region of Bama.....this joint pain operation has been used a bit too often....plus you are over the age of fifty.....and you smoke. They suggest a new request in nine months.

You go back to the doc a week later and ask for more of the five-star pain-killers.....but the doc is now worried about your possible addiction....and he won't give you those.

So you call Larry, your cousin and part-time septic tank guy.....about some real good pain-killers. He brings his college friend Shelly along. Shelly is half-doped up but sells you some fine pain-killers. Every two weeks....Shelly comes by and sells you more.

Nine months pass....and you do another visit to the doctor. He does up another request. The only odd thing....since you started Shelly's pain-killer deal....you've gained fifty-five pounds. You mostly sit around and stare at the TV all day.

The request comes back and says you are too-overweight now for the joint operation. You need to lose forty pounds to make this possible.

You pick up the phone and call Larry your cousin and part-time septic tank guy. He knows this guy Raul. So Raul comes over and you explain the problem. Raul stares at the notes, and then says to wait three days for him to come back. Then he says $5,000. You figure....what the heck....you gotta have the operation.

On the fourth day, Raul comes in and says to jump in the car. You drive all day to Mobile and then jump in some big fishing rig with three other older dudes and Raul at the wheel of the boat. For hours and hours.....you are out in the Gulf. Then, you pull into some port and the first sign you see....is "Welcome to Cuba". You start to get a bit nervous because Raul didn't mention this part.

Raul takes you over to a nice hotel establishment....gives you an entire bottle of Rum and a dozen cigars. The next day....he takes you to the hospital and you get the joint operation. A week later, you start rehab, and two weeks later....Raul carries you back to Bama. All the time, there was that nice nurse named Lola who personally attended to all your needs.

You arrive back to Bama.....all fixed up and no more joint pain. The only problem was that funny itch down around your crotch. You'd really like to see Doc Monty about this strange crotch itch.....but he's quit medicine for some strange reason, and you gotta drive twenty miles now to find the next doctor. And there's some government guy coming around asking silly questions about your foreign travels.

For some reason...things used to be simpler.