Sunday, 30 May 2010

Poker Face - Country

There's something about Poker Face from Lady GaGa....that I like. This weekend...I found the country version of the song.

Not A Kidnapping

If you sit and watch this 37-second video....your first impression is a kidnapping.

This happened about fifty miles from my apartment, here in Virginia...in Stafford county. The cops got called and they issued an AMBER alert. The van had Rhode Island plates.



Now, to tell the rest of this story. It took twenty-four hours for this to unfold. There was this family which was moving...and their 17-year old daughter apparently wasn't into this family move. She'd more or less said...NO.

So the family....in whatever frame of mind you could imagine...hunted her down....with Mom and Dad grabbing her from the mall parking lot and "kidnapping" her. The cops have settled this entire thing and closed the case.

Now the thing that you have to ask yourself....would any of you run to the front of a Target or Wal-Mart...grab your daughter like some kidnapping and run off?

It is a sign of the times.

Old Churches

At one point.....long ago....in our land....amongst friends, neighbors, and relatives....we had this affiliation with the local church.

We got up as the sun rose....ate a quick and hearty breakfast.....hitched a team of horses and then rode to the church. It might have been two miles away. It might have been five miles away. It didn't matter whether it was raining or snowing, or freezing. We went.

The congregation went through some announcements and prayers for sickly folks.

There might have been a joke or two by the minister to lift up the spirits of the folks there.

Some singing would have occurred.

Scripture would have been read. A broad and strong commentary by the minster would have been uttered over sin, Satan, or thankfulness.

Noon would have come and folks would have laid out a basket on a blanket there by the church and ate chicken cooked the day before. Cornbread would have been shared around the blanket with a homemade desert.

You would have had a choice of fresh milk or fresh water from the nearby stream.

Folks would have stood around for a while after eating and shared the experiences of the week. What little gossip they could generate....they shared. Politics might have been discussed for a minute or two....without the aid of Fox, Rush, Newsweek or MSNBC.

Folks would have gathered for a bit more singing and some social life, and by mid afternoon.....started the trek back to the homestead.

Sunday was their one day off from actual physical labor. They saw this day of rest differently from what we view today. They needed to socialize and meet folks....and the church offered this rare moment.

So here we are. Churches in America are basically dying off, and we've been left with some hybrid-church operations.

You've got the church with social causes and works to keep you involved in these for moral or political sake.

You've got the mega-church with twelve non-profit operations (Monday through Friday daycare, senior care, private school academy, etc). They've got 3,000 members but you really don't know more than fifteen folks by name.

You've got the unusual church with rattlesnakes, alien visitors, or no belief in a Bible per say.

You've got the church built on some minister and his salesmanship.

Churches....real churches....are dying. They are an endangered species. When you do have a real old fashioned church.....you often don't even realize what you have....and never are thankful of that.

So the sun will set today...and we will close another Sunday.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Memorial Day Weekend



By all the glories of the day
And the cool evening's benison,
By that last sunset touch that lay
Upon the hills where day was done,
By beauty lavisghly outpoured
And blessings carelessly received,
By all the days that I have lived
Make me a solider, Lord.
By all of man's hopes and fears,
And all the wonders poets sing,
The laughter of unclouded years,
And every sad and lovely thing;
By the romantic ages stored
With high endeavor that was his,
By all his mad catastrophes
Make me a man, O Lord.
I, that on my familiar hill
Saw with uncomprehending eyes
A hundred of Thy sunsets spill
Their fresh and sanguine sacrifice,
Ere the sun swings his noonday sword
Must say goodbye to all of this;--
By all delights that I shall miss,
Help me to die, O Lord.

The Insulin Game in Greece

I blog a good bit on Greece and its financial woes. This week....quietly and not mentioned much in the US press....the Greek government went to the next step of making Greece a banana republic.

The Greeks ordered all drug companies to mandate a 25 percent cut on prices...even the imported drugs went into this category.

Well....amongst the group of affected companies....was Novo Nordisk from Denmark who makes one of the most reliable insulin medications. They basically said that they'd just skip Greek sales then.

Fifty thousand Greeks use Nordisks's product....a simple item marketed in the form of a pen-like syringe.

It’s an interesting episode. You fix your economy....by ordering price cuts. Importers react...and say adios to selling on the economy. So, there are fifty thousand Greeks who use this insulin from the company in question. Where do they turn, for safe reliable insulin?

You will have to buy it....via another country and I’m guessing you will pay twenty-percent mark-up to make this work, and an import tax (which Greece is famous for) will be involved.

So guess what...black market insulin will become popular...as fishermen run up to Italy...pick up a pallet of this stuff on ice...and come back to sell off the pier.

Imagine a modern day country....operating in such a fashion.

The Scholarship

It's an odd story.

There's this state community college in California...that came up with a scholarship deal for immigrant students...and the wording of the application...allows illegal immigrants to also apply. It's a $2,500 scholarship.

There are some requirements attached to this....grade point of 3.0 or higher....financial need, and you desire to become an American (eventually).

The community college involved? Santa Ana College.

As this came out in the open this week...a number of folks started calling up the community college and commenting over the unfairness of a state-run and state-paid college...helping out illegals.

The college administrators are reviewing comments and how this started in the first place.

I sat and pondered over this. Most folks who run colleges of any type for the state....never envision themselves as employees of the state. They have the same status and same character as state employees running the state agriculture commission, the state forest agency, and the state parks commission.

I'm guessing there is no state law to forbid them from doing this.....but the idea that you've got a out-of-country person in front of you with the $2,500 scholarship.....ought to make you think about the real rate to charge them for "services", and its way more than what you'd pay for in-state or local kids. My guess is that they kinda overlooked that fact, and were going to charge local rates....pretending these kids were local. Illegal in fifty-odd states....if you think about that.

There'll be a quiet meeting held over this....and someone is likely going to rewrite this deal. They probably won't say much....and this will fade into the sunset within two months.

A Shadow Over Joe

After Joe Sestak's briefing at the steps of the capital late yesterday....I muted the TV for ten minutes. Joe looked believable. The only problem is that some portions of what he said....didn't fit with what he said before. And the job? Well....there's no pay attached to it....so what idiot would stand up and take a job like this?

Then the Denver Post article came up.....a second job offer for a guy running for Senator last year....and did Bill Clinton offer a job position in that case too?

No....this whole mess is a joke. Joe is finished in this election business. He's just not believable.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Bill and Joe's Brother

What? It took three weeks for someone to say that it was Bill Clinton talking to Joe Sestak's brother....not Rahm to Joe himself?

Yeah....sounds good.

What does Joe need? He needs a massive infusion of $20 million to help fix his election up.....so whatever the White House suggested and put money on the table for.....he's ready to agree.

What'd Bill need? Hillary's campaign debt wiped out. Couple of big-name donors can fix that in ten days.....and life goes on.

Believable? No. Bill Clinton is the middle-guy for the White House for state election affairs? Since when? When did anyone start a stupid tactic of inviting old President's to get involved in such business for the White House?

Ten years ago...this would have been sixty percent believable. Today? Eighty percent of the nation (my guess) is laughing over the story and doesn't believe it.

A Change in Tactics

There was an interesting story from NY City yesterday. There are signs appearing on city buses with: "Leaving Islam?", "Fatwa on your head?", and "Is your family threatening you?".

I admit its a small effort....only thirty buses carrying the ads. But it's making people think differently.

Who paid for them? A conservative group. Their aim is to go after Muslims who are angry and upset with their faith but can't just walk out.

I thought it was an interesting tactic. Lets face it....for women born into the Islamic religion....it's virtually impossible to just walk out the door. Who will help you? So this group is going to tag along with you, if you want to leave Islam....and get you out of the situation. I'm guessing you might even leave the city and get a new fresh start in life.

An Amazing Discoverly

"I'm amazed in less than half an hour....$47 million can be discovered"

- Marion Barry of DC City Council

So, to make this simple....town council meeting in DC last night....and things had to be discussed over the budget. At some point....the $47 million to jump-start the H-Street trolley car mess had been carved off.

This is the five-star loser plan where trolley cars return to DC streets. The problem is that electrical lines are forbidden by law on the streets (it's actually almost a hundred-year old law). So they are still trying to imagine some method to power these trolley cars.

Added onto this.....it has almost no connection to the current Metro system. So far....the idea is that you'd have to pay an entirely different way if you crossed the line from Metro to this DC trolley car. So the whole thing is a loser in the end....waiting for some emergency where congress dumps around a hundred million or more....to make this work.

The thing that amazed me....even after all the crack and cocaine.....former mayor Marion Barry actually made a brilliant comment. And you have to truly wonder....if these guys had this all planned from the start of the meeting....and this was merely a show for the audience.

The Flag & Joe Sistak

History was made yesterday.

After a long pause in Presidential news conferences....they had one (that wasn't the history part).

As most go, this was mostly a 2-star type thing and little was said to matter or change life in America. In fact, little was said that reporters could quote later for some purpose (that wasn't the history part either).

If you gaze long enough at the picture....you will realize one item missing from Bush I & II, Carter, Clinton, Ford, Reagan, Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy and Eisenhower press conferences.

No American flag in the background. Yep, it was the first one ever.

Some folks noticed this as the cameras were rolling. They thought that maybe it just a couple of feet to the left or right....but here is a wide-angle shot.....and there is no American flag up there.

Does it matter? I'd say no....but you have to come to laugh that someone felt that this was a symbology, and they just didn't want it attached to the President.

As for the press conference? Well....when the Joe Sestak "job offer" came up....the President really couldn't answer the question "yet". I do admit....it was a dopey way of answering the question and leads you to believe that they are trying to find the right guy to blame and fire. The only problem is that there is a second admission in Colorado of another guy being offered a job with the administration as well.

What is Joe Sestak up to? When they came to Joe....they showed disrespect by just saying he wasn't the 'right guy' for the job....and to just stand aside. This is disrespect by the White House, and stupidity by the Administration in getting involved in state political runs. I would imagine that Joe Sestak got angry and upset. The administration probably rigged party officials in Pennsylvania to stand against him. So Joe is a bit hostile.

I believe Joe is smiling at the cameras and paying the administration back. He knows he'll lose in the November race....but someone in the White House is going to have to pay Joe in some fashion....before this turns into a court case. It's beyond just a job....it's real cash that I think Joe wants.

Life-Skills

My dad...into his seventies...is still this guy with 120-odd life-skills.

If they had dropped him into Italy in 1944...he would have convinced Italy to give up pizza and adapt to homemade sausage and biscuits.

He's the guy that probably go by himself and take just three border collies to herd up 2,000 head of cattle from Huntsville to Mobile.

He buys old farm equipment...like hay haulers...in terrible rusted out shape. He'll use the steel-wool brush to take off the rust and then spend hours painting it back into a semi-original color. He'll toss on new tires and suddenly this hay hauler from 1971 is looking almost original, and ready to sell. Folks will drive five hundred miles to pick up farm implements like this.

My brother noted last night's episode to me today. My dad got a call from a local farmer who had a cow about to give birth...and it just wasn't going to work well for the cow. Vet's tend to have a quick hand of just saying it's a mess and offer to put the cow to sleep or charge you $200 to come out to your place like this.

My dad....in his seventies...probably would like to turn down things like this...but rarely ever does. So he agreed and went off into the darkness to this farm and to help attend to this cow.

My brother wrote a five-star piece on the description of the situation. It's not the kind of atmosphere that folks would want to be in...day or night. There's a judgement call...by folks who haven't attended veterinary school or attended a college lecture on cows. And then work commences.

Pop tried a little to beg out, but then got all his tools and went over. Charlois cow, with a calf turned around in her. They had her in a head catch (mistake) and it was a bad job, but they got the calf out. Seemed dead, and the screwed around with it a lot, putting the fescue straw in its nose, rubbing the body, and he spat out mucus and was coming to. Then, they got Pop's light (homemade headlight in a little box made out of wall paneling, with a cord to clip to the truck battery), and put it back on the cow, and she'd prolapsed. Awful task to get into there. So, they set in on that and the head-catched position was the worst for her to be in, with her down on her chest...too big to move, also. Using a board to hold positions at rest points, they went and went at it, and finally got all back in. Then Gary's daddy-in-law didn't have the hog rings and pliers where he could find them. So, Pop drove home, drove back, and they held the board in his absence, and then they hog ringed her up just in time for her to die. Probably was asphyxiated by being down in the head catch, Pop thought. He'd made that mistake before. But, then, too, if I had a dollar for every time we got a prolapsed put in just in time to hear the breathing stop, I'd have a handful of dollars. Fate likes a struggle. But, then, they turned around and the calf was up and running around. So, one saved.

By the end of this episode....the cow had passed on...but the calf had been saved. Judgement calls...which you tend to overlook in life.

My dad drove home in the darkness with blood all over his clothing. If the cops had stopped him...they probably would have never believed his story. He got into the house late....almost 11:30...showered up...and went to sleep. I'm guessing by 5AM....he was up and sipping coffee.

It's a lifestyle thing. Compensation? No....he pretty much does this for absolutely nothing...other than helping a neighbor. It's this attitude that you rarely find anymore. When folks ask for an impossible bit of help....he just won't refuse them.

At some point, these guys walking around with 120-odd life-style abilities are going to pass, and the best we can muster after that will be guys with 80-odd life-style abilities. A generation is passing and we end up losing something of greatness that we all grew up with.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Pausing over Jordan Romero

There are several news groups putting big stories over 13-year old Jordan Romero today. This is the kid who climbed Mount Everest. He has a web site and he's been talking to just about every news commenter possible to say that kids need to go out and achieve things in life. He wants himself to be the example here.

I paused looking over this kid....and I remembered this other kid....Jessica Dubroff.

This was the seven-year old kid....who was working in 1996 on being the youngest to fly across the United States.

In April of 1996....Jessica Dubroff took off and at some point in this highly advertised flight....the plane crashed....both she and the instructor onboard died.

It's a funny thing what happened over the next two weeks. Alot of people sat there and asked why did some idiot allow a seven-year old kid to attempt this feat? Why did her parents allow it?

After two weeks....virtually all of the networks collapsed on this story. The public really didn't want to hear anymore....they were pretty sick over the entire attempt and the result.

This Jordan Romero kid?

Well....by next summer....there will be some 11-year old kid who will attempt the climb on Mount Everest. Maybe he'll make it....if he's lucky.

Then some 10-year old kid will attempt it.....and maybe he'll make it.

At some point....some kid is going to die. And a bunch of folks will ask how did we get into this stupid act of kid challenge? And the answer? Well.....we made a big deal about Jordan Romero.

Just my two cents.

Numbers Times Numbers

Ok, to make this short and simple.....a Census worker came out and admitted that they'd been hired, then fired, then hired, then fired. There's a couple of other guys who've said virtually the same thing. No one is quiet sure to make out of this....except they think we aren't talking about dozens....but thousands.

So imagine this scenario. You have a group of forty Census folks. On Monday, you hire them and inprocess them (an hour of paperwork). After two weeks....on Friday....you let them go (outprocess them). Then the following Monday, you rehire them. Over and over. For two months.

Your hiring numbers? Well....you hired 160 new folks....at least you report that to the government office that does statistics. But the truth is that you really only hired forty.

Imagine now....that a hundred offices do the same trick.....so you have 16,000 new hires over two months. But the truth is.....you really only hired 4,000 folks.

Then you go National. We won't even discuss the numbers anymore.

Man, your employment numbers for April, May, June, and July look damn good. But it's just not true.

I sat and pondered over this. Why limit this to the Census folks? Why not use the post office, firemen, and cops in the same game?

We could hire forty million government employees each month.....and keep repeating this every single month. By the end of the year, we'd be the greatest hiring nation on the face of the Earth.

The only problem? We'd still have fifteen percent unemployment, and folks scratching their heads over why the numbers look so good.....but why is everyone unemployed?

This is kinda like wiping your butt with only one sheet of toilet paper and refolding each time to do the second, third, and fourth wipe. At some point, something makes no sense in this process other than telling your wife that you accomplished something unique today and her asking what that funny smell is.

An Invisible Boss?

"We are in charge, but BP is responsible."

It's a White House quote today....and we aren't quiet sure who really said it. It's supposed to reassure folks, but I'm guessing that lasts about three minutes before you open a beer and try to forget the quote.

BP hass likely got every single lobbyist in a corner and trying to get the payoffs here lined up. It's a campaign year....so if you enough folks...then they just don't say much.

Who's actually in charge? I wouldn't worry about it. If anyone were in charge...they'd actually be in Louisiana and doing things daily related to the mess. That's not happening...so we are pretty much running on automatic.

Our Joe

Sometimes....VP Joe Biden will say something stupid and something brilliant at the same time. This is a plus-minus thing....which you have to appreciate.

Yesterday...Joe came out to mingle at a bar-b-q at Walter Reed Hospital with wounded GI's. Personally....if you offered a free beer and a plate of ribs...I doubt the guy would ever turn down the deal.

So some GI brought up the Connecticut problem with the wannabe Vietnam vet Blumenthal....who is running for senator there.

Joe quickly spoke up: "I didn't serve in Vietnam. I don't want to make a Blumenthal mistake here. Our attorney general from Connecticut, God love him." Later...Joe wanted to add a cherry on his previous comment....and said...."I have a bad habit of saying exactly what I think."

I'm thinking Joe had a good afternoon....a couple of beers....shook some hands....and probably met a couple hundred folks.

Gas Talk

A moment of oil discussion. If you kinda notice the Gulf of Mexico problem....the odds now of drilling being prevented or downsized in the Gulf? Better than fifty percent. Comments yesterday that Arctic drilling will be hindered or stopped by the administration? Yeah....it's pretty much a guaranteed thing now.

Wanna take a guess on gas prices by October? Start betting on fifty cents more....as a minimum. By November 2012's election....I would imagine we are discussing a $1 over what you pay today for each gallon.

Empty Fifty Pound Bag of Nothing


Well...I guess I spoke too soon.

Today...the State Department stood up and said the vast 1,200 National Guard troops ordered deployed to the border of the US...have nothing to do with enforcing the protection of the border or preventing illegal aliens from crossing.

Apparently, their sole purpose is to stop guns from going to Mexico and drugs coming to the US....and thats all.

How will they be able to identify people crossing the border are drug carriers and not just illegals crossing? Hmmm....that would be a curious question, but obviously it won't be answered by anyone in the administration.

How does the border patrol prioritize their business now? Drug carriers ahead of gun dealers ahead of illegals crossing? How do the National Guard guys relate to this whole mess?

Its best not to ask.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Only a Observation

When the biggest job you've had in your life is community organizer....and you go in as president for a update briefing on the BP crisis...and the best thing you can say in the midst of it is "plug the hole"....it really doesn't say much for your grasp of situations.

As a mayor, governor, or commander....you tend to see enough events to help forge your leadership view of situations. You listen....you ask questions....you make people think outside of the box. People in the group are looking for leadership. If the best you can say.....is "plug the hole".....then the group is standing there in a moment of crisis with no real direction.

The worst that a community organizer might come to face....is the refrigerator to the community center failed and you need another one quickly....or all the food will spoil. Sadly, that's about point one percent of what you need for the Presidency.

The Kwame


I blogged Kwame Kilpatrick a good bit in 2008. He was the Detroit mayor who screwed up....got himself into a bucket of lies and could not lie himself out of trouble anymore. In relative terms....Kwame was a thug who was appreciated by the voters of Detroit. They knew he was a thug, and it was ok....for a while.

They gave Kwame a pretty good deal when the case came up....with probation involved. In 99 percent of all cases....you never violate probation.

Well...Kwame was Kwame....and he violated probation. Yesterday was a court session where they finally said enough, and his probation was tossed out. He was sentenced to 18 months to five years....for "contemptible behavior".

The best we can say is that Kwame had financial assets before the big case that got him into trouble....and he did his best to hide those so when they came with hefty fines...he argued his way out of these. After the big case and probation...he continued hiding money. Eventually....folks figured this out.

In the midst of money-hiding episode....the family kept living in a million-dollar home....Kwame kept driving a brand new Escalade....Kwame felt his wife needed some kinda beauty surgery (they were nice enough not to say new boobs or removing butt fat).

On the positive side....he gets 120 days of credit for jail time served already....if that was a positive.

My guess? It's eighteen months to five years. I'm betting on a deal where it's closer to eighteen months, with four months deducted. You figure being nice in jail and a early release....so Kwame spends maybe eight months in jail at best...maybe even six.

Kwame's lesson here? If you have to hide money....you find an expert and you actually hide it the right way. You drive a 1988 Chevy pick-up and live in a house trailer for three years. You shop at Wal-Mart and pretend to be dirt poor. You drink Pabst-Blue Ribbon instead of those Sam Adam's beers. Kwame screwed up...big-time.

But, there is a positive. There on the inside of jail...Kwame will learn alot from the cons, and probably come out a better con artist than he was. Heck, he might even pretend he got religion....write a book on spiritual healing for Detroit folks, and even run for Detroit mayor again in four years.

Easy Chair Pilots Making a Difference

There's a nifty article out today...1,200 National Guard troops going to the border....to stop the illegals from entering.

The general feeling from the public is that 1,200 troops won't do anything....it's just not the vast number of troops that folks think are necessary. And the cost suggested? $500 million?

Then you read through the mess....it's ISR....the military's intelligence mission which revolves around unmanned reconnaissance. Then you start to smile.

The 1,200 troops won't be ground troops or grunts....they are recon guys from the skies above.

So imagine this. Up around 20,000 feet or higher....there's this craft about half th size of a fighter jet that is quietly patrolling....for hours and hours and hours. It doesn't have to land after three hours of patrol. No one on board. The crew? A couple of guys sitting in easy chairs back in an air conditioned shelter....with Mountain Dew cans in the cup holders.

The pilot is some young guy. He's got a couple of guys sitting at screens around him....and giving him instructions to linger a while or move on. They spot forty folks moving through the brush at midnight. They call a Border Patrol team....four vehicles....all back around five miles from the border and just sitting there waiting for instructions. The crew passes the coordinates and the Border Patrol guys program it into their GPS. Off they go.

Fifteen minutes later....they've circled the forty folks and apprehend them. They drive them back to headquarters while a second team is sitting there patiently.....and they get their call. Hit, after hit, after hit, after hit.

The shift eventually ends....the pilot and crew get up out of the easy chairs....clock out....get into the Guard van....and go off to the hotel where they lounge around, sip cold beer and discuss the status of the Braves this summer.

By late fall....there will be results from this episode. I'm guessing illegal entry will start to come to a complete stop by the end of the year as the Border Patrol guys figure out how to max out on the ISR contribution.

The problem is....this will come to an end when funding runs out. Will Congress put more funds into this? Will the Border Patrol come to own their own ISR capability? Will illegals meet their match?

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Pissitivity


Pissitivity.

It was a unusual story in the Washington Examiner yesterday.

The City of DC now has to pay this doctor.....$450k. It's for an episode that he had with a DC city cop in an accident.

The basic story? The doc was driving his Porsche in DC in 2004....and got rear-ended by a off-duty Detective. The cause has never been established over who caused the accident...which is kinda funny because normally it takes seven days for the cops to determine something like this (unless a cop is involved, I guess).

After the crash, the doc and the Detective had a hostile discussion. The Dectective started using lots of profanity in her language, and I guess the doc and bystanders labeled this as "pissitivity". As far as I know...pissitivity is not a real word (Microsoft agrees as well).

The Detective started making high priority calls to the cop station....and suddenly the cops arrive to arrest the doc.

An interesting thing happens now....the Doc is charged with reckless driving, taken to jail, and held for fourteen hours in the DC jail before being able to get bonded out.

The Detective won't talk now....to anyone.

The city? Well.....this went into the court system and they decided that the cops who arrested the doc....did the wrong thing. And then holding him for fourteen hours.....was wrong. And this adds up to $450k.

Go figure....the lawyer is getting $100k of this, and the gov't will claim $125k. So the guy will get around half of this check.

I sat and pondered over this. Being falsely arrested and to spend fourteen hours in a DC jail.....and then get $250k for your 'reward'? Yeah, I'd do it and be fairly happy.

Now we come back to pissitivity. Having grown up in Bama....it's hard to find anybody who'd you tag with pissitivity. In the last five years....I've probably come up against six folks in the pissitivity category....four of them women of course. Not to say that women are more pissitivity-prone.....I sure don't want to get any lady friends in a pissitivity state of mind.

Are there sensitivity-pissitivity classes for folks? I'm guessing there might be. Could you overcome your pissitivity issues? Yes, I'd think so.

Are there places where you might be well suited to drink and handle your pissitivity? Yeah, there's probably a couple of bars made for you. Should you admit your problem to your boyfriend or wife? Well.....no. It's best not to admit this. Just my advice.

As for traveling through DC and the chances of being wrongly arrested. Smile and record the whole event....and then get a lawyer. And don't worry.....we will never fire a cop on the DC force who has pissitivity issues.

Hey Gringo

It's an interesting ad. It appeared in the Arizona Republic Newspaper, and meant to be a positive tourist ad to get Arizona folks to visit Mexico.

The Sheriff up in Phoenix has decided it is very unfriendly. So he's asking for an apology.

The Mexican tourist folks claim they honesty mean for it to be friendly and it should not be seen any other way.

I pondered over it for two minutes....the hat in green....no real tourist indicator shown....and I've decided that it wasn't meant as a friendly deal. If the Mexican tourist folks think that....they are pretty much lying.

So, should you cross the border and play the friendly gringo character? No....I don't think its in your best interest anymore. Better set your sights on a different and safer place.

Lost: Ended

Last night, from 7PM until almost 11:30PM....I watched Lost, the final episode.

Frankly, I had expectations.

In the end...the 150 minutes they used to tell the final bit of the story (after the 120 minutes to pat themselves on the back).....I came to realize that it was really a 20-minute ending and left out about forty answers that I'd been waiting for.

In fact, there was the two-segment ending....with one group on the island and somehow finding a way to exit while Jack, Ben, Hurley and Desmond saved mankind. Then the other segment was this side-ways ending....with a confusing "you-gotta-die" taste to it.

If I'd had a case of Dharma beer....I would have sipped the entire case at the end....that's how lousy the story ended up.

For six years....I ran along with the story and had a big interest in the characters and the story. I liked Hurley. I was fascinated with Kate. I thought Ben should have been killed a thousand times over. I never understood the necessity of the polar bear. And I never got the real grasp of the side-ways story.

So it's ended. I won't pull out my collection of DVDs and survey the series again for several years. It'll take me a while....and maybe eventually....I'll just sip some Dharma beer and get over it. Maybe.

Oh, and if you didn't notice, there were at least eighteen car commercials during the 150 minute show. And no, there were no Preparation H commercials....if you didn't notice.


Monday, 24 May 2010

The Brits

I sat for a while this morning....trying to figure out this British story over Princess Fergie who was caught on camera offering some dude a chance to meet her former ex-husband...Prince Andrew. There was a fee attached to this deal for her....under the table of course. The British newspapers got all upset about this.

I sat and paused over this.

I'm kinda amazed that some idiot would be willing to pay $500k to get a front row seat with Prince Andrew. What exactly can be accomplished via Fergie? She can arrange a tea party for you shake hands with the guy? She can arrange a whiskey meeting with five royal folks where they sit around and mostly discuss a safari they attended in March. She might be able to arrange a dinner party where some 2nd rate roast beef will be served and the guy with money can talk to Andrew and convince him to buy millions in Brazilian sugar futures.

The effect on the citizen? Zero.

Yep, she sat there and convinced some dopey guy to cough up money....to introduce them to Prince Andrew....and it has no effect on anyone other than Andrew having to shake their hand and listen to thirty minutes of sales talk.

And they get excited over this? These Brits need to visit Memphis on a Friday night with a dozen state representatives drinking and gambling....and lobbyists paying $10k for a chance to pay in the poker game to lose....just to be buddy-buddy with Representative Snuffy.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

An Odd Explanation?

This past week....Representative Mark Souder (Republican)....resigned from his office....saying he'd committed adultery and it was best for him to just leave. I admired the guy in some ways...admitting this. If he'd been a Democrat...he might have just said he was under the influence of pain relievers, Preparation H, or paint thinner....and just stayed on.

Then he said something kinda unusual. He kinda admitted that he had intellectual feelings for the lady in question. He didn't say alot after that.

Guys don't say stuff like this usually. Certainly, they can't see intellectual relationships until they've been hit and usually laying there on ground...with visions of Socrates, Plato, and philosophy running through their mind.

The potential for some married guy to meet up with lady who matches his sarcastic, witty or philosophical strengths?

Thirty years ago....it was pretty much a one percent chance in life. Today...either via the internet or via our complex nature of knowing people....such things probably happen more often than we think.

This runs back to a blog I wrote last year where a shift in time has occurred and there are growing relationships of guys and gals....that are of the intellectual variety and never cross other personal or lusty lines. It is a odd situation...and it isn't going to reverse itself.

Triangular Trade

Amongst all the chatting and upset feelings this week over the Texas school book commission and its final "cut"....was the topic of "triangular trade".

It's an expression that ninety-nine percent of folks have never heard of and are simply briefed by newspapers and the media of a concept that doesn't clearly explain slavery in America at all.

In most school text books....and even college history text books....slavery is announced as 'started' in the mid 1600s. From that point on, it's discussed as a evil part of American history (even though the nation-building step doesn't occur for another 120 years).

When you drag out triangular trade....you start to discuss economics....which is the trigger for slavery in the first place....and it pretty much puts everything in another light. It's still evil or such....but you begin to grasp what drives this situation to occur and spread out. It also explains the limits in the end.

The new worlds (note, I did say plural)....in the early 1600s....are the Americas and Africa.

The Europeans have 'discovered' both, and they are part of an expansion. You can toss in the hunt for gold and the prospects for business....but folks are set on a path to get rich by entrepreneur type methods. The key to this? Boats.

You come up as a senior partner and have two junior partners in a boat venture. You own half and they split the remaining half. The key to the boat and your venture? 365 days of product movement per year. You plan to gain all your money back and to make a bold profit.

You learn in the beginning that just moving something....will earn a profit. Then you learn that if you are the middle man....say....buying tobacco and putting it on your own vessel.....then you can get more profit for your venture.

Then you come to learn that certain products make more money than others. But these involve man-hours and manpower.....of which most new world folks in the Americas don't have adequate men to make the business work. Sugarcane is an example of this.....so is indigo and rice.

Then because you have this triangular business operation.....you chat with a guy in Africa who knows this tribe who just captured five hundred prisoners in a war. A deal is made. Something is bartered for the prisoners.....and they get loaded onto the vessel. Slave trade is created because of manpower requirements and the willingness of tribes in Africa to continue warfare and the capture of prisoners.

So vessels crisscross the Atlantic....between three continents....and doing business. Europeans make a profit, and business opportunities expand.

This all continues on through 1776....and up through the 1860s. The south has built this grand empire and business district.....on cotton, which is another manpower intensive crop. If you can tax cotton enough....then the whole model collapses. If you pay enough attention to the house and senate of the 1850s time period.....you kinda figure out that taxes were being rigged to eventually collapse the cotton empire. If it collapses....then slavery is virtually ended. There's nothing of value in the deal anymore.

A simple history lesson? It takes alot of things out of the old traditional history lesson and suddenly introduces you to evil economics. History teachers hate economics. It shakes out all of the legendary stories that everyone is used to.

So the text book commission in Texas....voted to have this included in school teachings now. Will it be taught? That's a curious question. I'm guessing that the media will pump this up and maybe draw this into a court case by some folks. If you can keep this business under wraps and unknown.....we can continue with the legendary trail of slavery. My guess is that it may be too late.

Money Lesson

If you need a minute of economic education worth $1 million...this is your training seminar. Don't worry...they will make you laugh as you get smart.

The Commission Fever

Today....we, the United States government...grew just a little bit bigger. The President unveiled another Presidential commission today.

Their job? Probing. They are supposed to engage the massive amount of data on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and it's advancement toward Louisiana....and tell the President what what he ought to do.

After you've seen a dozen or so commissions...you tend to under-inflate the predicted outcome. These commissions usually take a minimum of six months to form real analysis and then come out with forty recommendation. The 9-11 Commission had hundreds of recommendations. The key factor here is that the President doesn't have to accomplish any of them, or merely half....just to look good.

In the old days...we'd see four guys enter the President's office...give him four ideas...and he'd engage congress within ten days to work on those four areas. Start small....stay small....and accomplish small. It was a neat feat for folks like Eisenhower, Kennedy, Regan, Carter, both Bush's, and Clinton.

After a while....you begin to realize that if there's going to be a giant forest fire in Montana...we’ll create a fire commission?

If there’s a rat infestation in Georgia....we create a rat commission?

If there’s a wild dogs running around Arkansas and tormenting folks...we create a wild dog commission?

Things are a bit difficult these days. It's either a big-bang accomplishment, or just chit-chat...nothing in-between. That's not real leadership, if you think about it.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Investment Diversity

"You might think that we're trying to discuss issues of the 1950s about integration. We're talking here about the issue of inclusion."

- Assemblyman Mike Davis (D) of LA

These are interesting words as things played out yesterday in California. Amongst the thousand or so things that you'd think the legislature would worry about...even the ability of their state pension fund to survive (which currently...it can't)...they came to decide on the ethnicity and gender of investment managers handling their state pension fund.

So the effort here is to reshuffle their money....without regard to expertise or past performance...and ensure things are "right".

They did show some intelligence and limit the effect of this...with ten percent of their pension fund as the goal to fit into this "diverse" manager concept.

I sat and pondered over this. I'm an investor. The last thing I would do...is go to a mutual fund or investment person because of their sex, skin color, or status in life. I just want to see results. A loser is a loser. A winner is a winner.

I worked with a guy years ago whose mother had been well-off when the father had died. There was well over five million existing at that point. Some friend of the family stepped in after the father's death and talked her into moving at least half her money to his company. He was continually getting her to agree to stock buy's and sells. He kept talking of money to come. Over two years....he basically siphoned off almost half of what she gave him and never realized it. The son visited and looked at the cost and charges...and then lowered the boom.

When you invest...you want trust. Whether they are male or female doesn't matter.

What's going on here in California? I'm guessing that a couple of female investment managers have connections to the Democratic Party and the pension fund management. They made "diversity" a key word and got the boys spun up.

Gains? Maybe. But you have to wonder if a couple of midgets will walk up next and claim they want status as a investment handler for the California pension fund. Then comes the albinos. Then come the 18-year old punks who claim they want to help manage the fund. Eventually....circus clowns will also step into the picture.

And folks wonder why pension funds are losing money?

Your Phone Book is of Value

I was waiting for this moment.

The Rasmussen folks do fine polls. Usually, they capture the situation and the imagination of the American public. Rarely do they get it wrong.

So Rasmussen finally went out and asked folks.....if they were to strictly pull a random name from the phone book....would that guy or gal do a better job than their elected representatives in Congress.

Forty-one percent said yes.

Thirty-eight percent said no.

Twenty percent said they just couldn't decide one way or another on this suggestion.

I sat and paused over this. When a large group like this would suggest such a method...it ought to be shocking to representatives in the house, and senators...from both parties.

Frankly, I pretty much agree with this method. My only problem...I'd really hope that they didn't open the Arlington phone book for this method....and happen to pick me at random. I got better things to do with my life than sit around and act dim-witted or write 2,700 pages of conflicting text.

Nifty World of Warcraft

It's an interesting short story. Assistant female principal from Middleton High School in Florida....likes World of Warcraft...games with young punk guys....some as young as fourteen years old...makes an error in judgement. She basically sent a topless picture of herself to a fourteen year old boy.

The cops naturally came...and arrested her.

I sat pondering this. Man....here I miss all of this fine stuff as a kid because the internet age comes forty years later?

The curious thing is that this is likely one photo episode that goes into the public sector...and the other 358 photos continue on...with no one ever calling the cops.

No Processing?

Apparently today....the assistant secretary of Homeland Security for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)...made a comment that his team didn't necessarily have to process illegal immigrants referred to them by Arizona authorities.

It took probably three minutes for this to hit CNN and Fox News.

Several senators are kinda wondering if ICE is capable of obeying the law....or if they need more federal laws to encourage them to obey the first laws in place. Naturally, thats why we have stupid Senators in DC....if you didn't know.

I pondered over this for a minute....and then realized the best thing to do.

As the Feds say they won't accept the illegal immigrants...you process them and take them up to the border of California. You put around fifty Arizona cops there along the border of California and just tell them to keep marching westward. Illegals will be California's problem...and only their problem.

Then let the Arizona cops go hang out around federal buildings and refer to the Fed cops as "wussies".

It'll take about seven days...but a couple of ICE bosses will be either fired via the Senate or simply resign their positions.

Friday, 21 May 2010

DC Problems

I live in Arlington...just across the river from DC. Our headlines today for DC?

"DC Teens Want Bigger Condoms"

Apparently, the city health department has this fantastic program where they buy condoms and give them away. The chief reason? DC has a huge AIDS and pregnancy problem. So a 15-year old DC kid can walk into the district health office and pick up a package of condoms....free.

Well....someone got around to asking the kids about this whole program and realized that there were two issues going on.

First, the condoms they were buying....were too small. I'm not going to say much about this....but it's just something that the teenage guys are admitting.

Second, the condoms that the city are giving away....are dirt cheap and break in a great portion of the situations used. So, basically, they are worthless.

So the city is talking about buying high quality condoms....which means more cost. And of course, they were try to size them up for the bigger dudes....you know.

I paused over this and wanted to provide further Bama analysis.....but after a while....I realized its best not to say anything. All I can think is those poor Bama kids are stuck having to buy their own condoms....and naturally, they are depending on Wal-Mart to sell them the best Chinese-made condoms possible. Best not to say anything else.


Something on My Mind

For a fair amount of time...I've been following the Mojave Cross episode. Out in California, on a national property, federal property to be factual here....stands a cross. It was placed there roughly 75 years ago to give a simple bit of respect over World War I vet's and those who never returned.

At some point....folks came to get upset about the cross on federal property, and wanted it removed. It wasn't right...at least in their minds.

This case went to the Supreme Court and it was finally decided that it'd be there long enough...that it wasn't necessary to remove it. Case closed. I suspect that the justices really didn't want to have a say in this because it was fairly stupid to bring up a case like this in the first place.

Folks were still upset. So in the last month...the cross was stolen. Someone went there in the night...probably three to four folks because of the effort and weight involved...and took it. A reward was posted. Locals are a bit upset about this behavior involved. They don't think it was a local.

So, this twisted story took another turn yesterday. Folks woke up and a new cross was there on the site.

It was up briefly....until federal officials appeared and removed it. Amusingly enough...the Justice Department is involved and they ordered it removed because its not the actual real cross...and the Supreme Court ruling in their mind...only covers that cross (naturally).

I've sat and pondered this whole story.

For someone to have this frame of mind to get upset about the cross in the first place...there's something wrong.

For someone to gather a friend or two and remove the cross from the hilltop....there's something wrong.

For the Justice Department to have this much interest in a episode like this....there's something wrong.

After a long pondering....I think what this region of the Mojave Desert needs.....is 10,000 crosses....concreted a good four feet in the ground. In fact, you can plant 100,000 crosses....all the better.

The guys out there who are really into this matter....need some good physical work to get their mind back in order. And I suspect the Justice Department involved....might need an introduction of quantity versus stupidity rules. If you put enough ball bearings in a guys pocket....he will eventually fall to the ground.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Another Metro Story

Yesterday morning came another DC Metro story.

Some dude got on the train up around Rockville, Maryland way....probably around 9AM....and died. No one noticed.

His body rode through the entire line....to DC, and then northward to the vast end of the line at the opposite end, and then retreated all the way back through DC again, to return to Rockville....where it was placed in the sitting yard for an afternoon run. Only then around 3PM, did the maintenance guys walking through the train before the afternoon run....did they discover his body.

Yep, just another day in DC. Dying and riding Metro....over and over.

There Are Winners Out There

My associate in the office had a phonecall on Friday morning. His wife wanted him to fly down to the Carolinas and help move the son out of his school academy over the weekend.

My associate is like me....just got here in January....and his family has yet to make the big move (next month).

It was a fairly urgent deal on the wife's impression. It's kinda hard on a Friday morning to find a cheap airline ticket for Friday evening, but he tried and was successful. He had to fly out of Baltimore, and the thunderstorm we had....didn't help.

So he arrives at the academy on Saturday and along the way of moving the son out....here was the director of the school. There was this three minute exchange between the two. The director....in a way....had sought my associate. He wanted to make a comment or two about the son.

Sometimes....a few words....makes a vast impression on a guy.

Over the past six months.....his son was becoming a strong leader within the class group. With a year left before graduation....he was easily the kid with the most impression on the director. The kid had taken on several last minute emergency projects when other kids had backed out, and delivered 5-star performances.

In three minutes....it was the kind of moment that makes a guy pretty happy over his kid.

Then my associate finished up and went home. He told the wife the story. She smiled and decided to add two other bits to the story.

You see....my associate has to pay in the $1500 range each month for food, board, and tuition. There's a work requirement of forty hours per month....which pays the rest. Each kid is supposed to turn in these hours to help make this private education possible. His son....over the past three or four months....had been working forty hours a week. Yeah.....there was the thirty-odd hours of school and then forty hours of work. Their monthly rate had been cut down to around half of what he was supposed to be paying. The son hadn't said anything about that.

Then came an interesting bit about the son's ingenuity. After the chow hall closed each evening....kids would come up and desire a soda or some snack. Course, unlike a military base where you had a shoppette or BX to run over to and buy a snack....they had nothing. My associate's son had gone out and bought a big stash of Chinese noodle dishes and cases of soda.....and he was selling out of his closet. The kid was turning a pretty fair profit on this little "illegal" operation. The school kinda hinted things needed to stop.....but this had carried on for several months.

So, this kid is an entrepreneur at heart.....and showing lots of attitude that you'd beg for in a kid. I told my associate....this kid is a natural MBA-degree guy. He was proud of this kid.....and that probably made the entire cost of this last-minute trip worth the effort.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Mountain Twilight

By William Renton


The hills slipped over each on each
Till all their changing shadows died.
Now in the open skyward reach
The lights grow solemn side by side.
While of these hills the westermost
Rears high his majesty of coast
In shifting waste of dim-blue brine
And fading olive hyaline;
Till all the distance overflows,
The green in watchet and the blue
In purple. Now they fuse and close -
A darkling violet, fringed anew
With light that on the mountains soar,
A dusky flame on tranquil shores;
Kindling the summits as they grow
In audience to the skies that call,
Ineffable in rest and all
The pathos of the afterglow.

Jump Far and Clear

Saginaw News reports:

A Shepherd woman is being treated for head trauma at Blodgett Hospital in Grand Rapids after leaping from a pickup because her husband refused to stop for her to purchase cigarettes about 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Isabella County sheriff’s officials said.

Jacklin L. Faber, 51, was the passenger in a GMC Sierra pickup driven by Michael E. Faber, 54, of Shepherd, and according to sheriff’s officials, when Michael Faber refused to stop for his wife to purchase cigarettes, Jacklin Faber “decided to jump out of the pickup while it was traveling down the road" on South Shepherd Road, south of Federal in Coe Township.

Sheriff’s officials said Michael Faber realized his wife’s intentions just before she jumped and was able to slow the vehicle to between 10 mph and 15 mph before she leapt.

Jacklin Faber suffered head injuries and was transported to Central Michigan Community Hospital and later airlifted by helicopter to Blodgett Hospital in Grand Rapids for treatment.

I sat and paused over this story. This gal...Jacklin....is a tough gal. And I'm guessing that her husband....Micheal....is probably a non-smoker.

Future relations here? Well....I'm guessing that things may spiral a bit.

If you got to jump from a vehicle....you tend to want a truck to jump from. A car is usually too low to the ground and you might get runt over by the wheel wheels of the car.

With a truck....you can hurl yourself a little and fall into the ditch. Course, then....if you live in Bama....you have to worry about water moccasins in the ditch or broken beer bottles (if you live in a dry county). If you can aim at a fellow's yard....it's a better deal and you might just roll twelve times and be ok. Maybe. But then you might have the property owner's ferocious border collie to contend with.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Fired Teachers Rehired

Out in Central Falls, Rhode Island...about six weeks ago...the principal had come up and fired every single teacher within the school.

Eighty-seven teachers and support folks.

Today, the school hired them back for the next school year.

What's the story? Well....Central Falls High School is a failure....which they don't even argue about. It's a massive number of kids who basically give up between the ninth and twelfth grade. The tests? They were failing left and right. They were recognized within the state as the worst school and most folks were thinking they were amongst the worst in the nation.

The principal got all wrapped up in the threats by parents, the county school board, and the state board....so she asked for more after-school study hours by the teachers as part of the overall package to fix things. No, it wasn't going to be paid for. The failures were such that the school needed every single teacher to work on reestablishing kids on the right track.

The teacher's union said 'no'. No extra money....no extra hours. The come-back? Fired.

Over the past six weeks....seven hundred resumes came in. They had a chance to rebuild the teaching structure of the school from scratch.

Today....the teaching authority came out and offered all the 'fired' teachers back their contracts for 2010-2011. Yep, every single teacher of this incompetent school...is back. They did finally agree that they would donate some hours to help the 'poor kids'. So, the teachers are happy...school management is happy....and the kids are happy.

Fixed? No. There's virtually zero chance that grades will improve over the next year. The hours after school? Why would a kid even volunteer to do such a thing? Why can't the teacher teach properly over a simple school day and get the points across? You've already got kids standing there....fifteen years old....and probably an entire year behind in school. By next summer...they will likely be two years behind.

If I were a teacher with Central Falls....I'd probably sit there and wonder how exactly I screwed up and then wonder how many kids I had screwed up. Yeah....I'd be embarrassed.

Evidentially...these teachers aren't embarrassed. That says alot.

In the Old Days

I spent twenty-two years in the Air Force. Typically, if you said the word "exercise"....it meant filling sandbags, putting on chemical warfare gear (with the mask), and spraying soapy water over pretend-to-be chemically affected trucks. It was nasty business at times....rain, snow, and even in 110-degree temperature.

So today, I had to participate in an exercise with my military organization. I will refrain from mentioning it's name....although most of you know I'm a Pentagon guy now. Well...the main phase of this exercise....is inserting my ID card into my keyboard and identifying where I am. Yep, that was it. Just to say "here", and then go back to work.

Yeah, they did call it Exercise Eagle something....just to make it sound swell. Deep down....I kinda felt happy about this....avoiding all the normal things like shovels and sandbags.

Toward the end of my military career....I was assigned to Bitburg Air Base. About two months after I arrived....the exercise guy got all excited. The wing commander had agreed to a massive 72-hour exercise....with complete use of the shelters and we were supposed to actually camp-out in the shelters and play like chemical warfare. The cops were going to be given this attack on base and people were going to live in a co-ed environment for this 72-hour period....and just go from bunker to bunker to survive.

A week later....the exercise guy was told of the base closure announcement....and this entire 5-star exercise was cancelled. I've often wondered what would have happened with this kind of exercise, and if anything remarkable would have been learned.

Just to Motivate You

Just a motivational poster that I figured you might need.

Just a Bit of Poke Face

To be very honest, I hate Lady Gaga's image, but love the song "Poker Face". There are various parodies done over the song, and this is one of my favorites.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Observations

Just an observation. The Arizona immigration law that got everyone upset? Well....you know it's approximately ten pages long. The universal heath bill that was passed? 2,700 pages long.

You get the impression after a while....it's the same number of people who read both.

You could read the Arizona law in twenty minutes. You could probably grasp its meaning with a 8th grade education. You probably could teach it to a university class with just four hours of preparation. It is designed to be just that simple.

What would happen if the Arizona political folks here took over DC and wrote the universal health care bill? Hmmm....well....it probably wouldn't be more than sixteen pages long....and yet no one would ever read it. Just an observation.

The Trouble with Ethnic Studies


How many ethnic studies classes existed in the state of Bama in 1975....from high school to university level? None. In fact....what generally was offered and fit into the scheme of things....was a class that we referred to as "geography".

It was a curious thing. You'd sit in a geography class, and at least once a week (in high school)...be escorted to the library to watch a National Geographic-type movie over the over the people of Peru, or the Aztec empire, or the way of life in 1750s France.

A lot has changed over the past thirty years in America. Almost every university now offers a ethnic studies type degree. Duke University has an entire department that offers African American ethnic studies. Most, if not all, of California high schools offer at least one ethnic studies class....and most offer five or six.

These kids and instructors will tell you that they have a greater understanding of world affairs, ethnic lifestyles, and the diverse nature of the nation today.

For some reason, I really don't believe them.

A great deal of these 1975 geography classes dealt with other people and simple observations of their lives....and really not much more. You see....when three in the afternoon rolled around....you got on the bus and went back to the heartland. You didn't drag any ethnic class studies around with you like an anchor. You knew your American history....you knew the Constitution....and you came to appreciate the simpler things in life. How Bolivians came to live...really didn't matter beyond the classroom.

A path has been established....and we've gone down this funny path talking about various ethnic groups. Maybe we should establish a ethnic studies group over this fascinating land called "Tennessee", or perhaps "the Ozarks", or maybe even "Red Bay, Bama". We might be fascinated to learn of the strange ethnic habits that folks have....the funny food that they eat....or the way of thinking that they've established through the generations.

I realize I'm suggesting a radical move....to study the folks of west Texas to learn more about the ethnics of our nation.....but we might actually be shocked how there are three hundred ethnically diverse groups in America....and we never knew it. We might even learn that folks in California actually think and believe they are the center of the universe....while they are the most bankrupt folks in America.

When the Teachers Came for Money

This morning...somewhere between the big news and sports....lies a small story of the administration asking for more bailout.

It's a curious effort this time. The Education Secretary...Arne Duncan....has a request to establish funding for teachers. You see....unless the nation can come up with $26 billion by late summer...the pink slips will go out to 300,000 teachers nationwide.

Why the states can't cover this themselves...is a curious thing. What states are in serious trouble? Arne didn't want to tell you that. What states have promised pay increases when they can't afford them? Arne didn't want to tell you that. What states have a teacher salary system way over the norm? Arne didn't want to tell you that.

The curious thing about this deal...is that it comes out to $86,600 for each of the 300,000.

In the state of Alabama...if you are a teacher starting out...the salary still tends to be in the $35k range. If you stay around for ten years...you'd be in the $47k range. At age fifty? You might be clearing near $60k.

This salary structure also applies for Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana.

When I was looking at Troops-to-Teachers possibility several years ago....I had a couple of emails with the folks out in Montana. They were having problems in attracting teachers and retiring military folks were often being recruited. I was kinda interested. Then came the topic of salary. Starting salary for a rookie, was $28k. I kinda laughed...thinking even Bama paid more.

The $86,600 amount? Well...it tends to interest me. These have to be teachers mostly from California. The state is broke. The state has a overblown salary structure for teachers (with twenty years in...you'd be clearing $100k easily). Your pension deal? At age fifty-five in California...as a teacher...you'd likely take home over $80k a year.

So, what states are trouble with their teachers? And is $26 billion really needed or could you get by with $2 billion?

I think the public deserves to know this. If half of this bailout is for California, and the rest split between the forty-nine other states....there's a bad smell to this.

Why can't a state pay for it's own bills? That's another problem here. But don't worry....our revenue bucket is unlimited...right?

I would make a suggestion here....put out an itemized list of states and who is asking for money. Let the public know the rest of the story. And list the salary structure and pensions.

Friday, 14 May 2010

When Wise Men Stumble Down a Cliff

This week....a problem arose over the nation as an assistant director of a school in Illinois came to announce their planned trip to a basketball tournament in Arizona....was canceled. Obviously, you can guess the reasoning here.

I read through the commentary. The school board has been careful since this occurred and said little to nothing. You get the impression that they have a busy weekend where they want this mess tidied up quickly and the team allowed to chose their direction without the assistant director involved.

I paused over this and did a long moment of pondering.

We've come to a point where we involve politics into religion, sports, business, and the media. The game here...is reaching a level where people's patience and understanding are being tested.

Imagine yourself standing there, and your union rep from the pipefitter's union has announced the union's judgement against Arizona. You stand and then ask what the heck does this have to do with welding or pipes? There won't be answer to your question.

Imagine yourself standing there at a local community college where a golf team was supposed to journey down to Tucson for July to participate in a college tournament, and the school administration says that this just can't happen. So you stand up and ask what this ban on Arizona has to do with golf? There's not going to be an answer to your question.

Imagine yourself sitting in a pew and the minister telling you to stand against Arizona. You stand at that moment and ask what Bible verse this wisdom came from. There's not going to be an answer to the question.

Those with an agenda....are going to face a hostile crowd in the coming weeks and months. It's stupid to be for or against Arizona in this immigration episode. It's their state and their problem to fix. Obviously, the federal government hasn't moved to fix anything....even after they passed this bill....nothing moved.

So when this individual faces you and announces a decision has been made for you.....simply stand and smile....and ask them if their remarkable intelligence or wisdom has faltered in this moment of stupidity. They'll look at you for a few moments in disbelief that you challenged them. And then ask them if they've got any problems with states who've bankrupted themselves? The conversation will end at that point.

We've become this mighty blue state versus red state argument. Nothing is gained from this. And the sad thing is that once this trend starts.....we could find alot of reasons to fault Florida, Texas, California, Michigan and even Kansas. Will there be a weekly crucifixion to punish them as well?

It's Right, I Think

Down in Geneva, Bama....the Census guy had this database print-out.....and there was this guy who didn't respond. So the Census guy went out to visit the house. After coming up on the porch and peering into the window a good bit....he came to realize that this guy was dead. So he calls the police.

The cops come and come to the same belief. No one....even relatives or neighbors....had said anything, and you got the impression that this guy might have been dead for a month or two.

I sat and pondered over this a while....and it was curious to me but the news folks never asked this question. Did the Census guy count the dead guy or not?

You know....dead folks have the right to vote in America, and dead folks have the right to run for office. Both rights have been proven over the past decade....so it's best not to argue. So I sat and wondered....can we count the dead guy in the Census?

For Bama, this is a serious topic. We need just about everybody possible (well...except illegal folks) to be counted. And it's fine with most of us to count cases like this...where we just aren't sure if he was dead a month ago or an hour ago. So I'm pushing for this Geneva guy to be counted. Maybe he actually got the Census form and it frustrated him so much....that he died right there on the spot. You just can't be sure of anything.

Just my Bama thoughts for today.

The Image Game

In the past couple of weeks...some journalists have gotten a bit hot under the collar over the White House and it's use of internal coverage. The suggestion is that the President is bypassing traditional media...and running their own press reporting, Presidential comment releases, and staged events.

You see...the big networks and big papers are sponsoring a number of press folks to cover the White House twenty-four hours a day. In some cases...like CNN...they probably spend over $3 million a year on salary for a couple of folks who talk on TV or run the cameras. The idea is that they provide the nation a realistic window of the President and it's direction.

Up until the 1850s...there were probably only a couple of guys who ever hung around the President to report daily happenings...then came the telegraph. By the 1880s...you had several major papers who kept a guy around who took quotes from the President. In the 1930...radio came along and folks actually recorded the President's comments for a nightly broadcast.

So the crowd is hostile.

What might they do? Well....it would be curious if a dozen news media outlets just said a week of closure would be necessary. Pack up their folks for seven days and just avoid mentioning the White House or the President for an entire week. Would we even notice? That's a remote possibility.

I'm guessing a week on CNN without mentioning the White House or the President...would be just about impossible.

But you know...I'd actually pay $20 to see an entire week as such. And the White House might start to get worried over their image...if no one noticed them. Just a guess.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

The Golden Years

This is a fascinating fact.

Bruce Malenhorst retired after 32 years of city, county, and state work in California. He'd done administration work, clerk support, finance, acted as a treasurer, and even been an executive of the utility Vernon Light & Power.

Bruce now makes in retirement: $509,664 a year.

Yeah, that's an awful lot. In Bama, you'd have 35 guys lined up...to take in the $509k a year in pension. In fact....I doubt if you can find a state worker who takes home more than $60k a year in pension.

California has this promise to Bruce....for as long as he lives...they have to pay this each year. Let's say he lives until 80...that's at least fifteen to twenty years of this pay. Millions. And the curious thing is that they have literally thousands of folks now drawing $100k or more a year.

How does a state sign up to such a liability? Thats the curious thing...I don't think they ever aimed at such a lofty goal. But each year that came and went...they gave a guy four percent on the raise, and then tossed in another $3k for their pension along the way. So it didn't take more than thirty years for this to add up.

So what happens in the next five years? It's hard to avoid seeing massive failure and a Supreme Court case where the state is ordered to pay the pension...even if they are bankrupt. So do they cross over and ask the Federal government to pay? Maybe...but folks are getting kinda upset over this mess. What give favors to California?

Bruce is sitting there...paying out $200k a year in taxes to the federal and state government, and still enjoying $300k a year. He's probably going to Vegas every six weeks and probably sailing his boat around the bay area. And he probably has six cars sitting in the garage. Life is pretty good for Bruce. It'll be interesting to see how he falls, and if he can recover to live a more simplistic lifestyle.

Just Another Day

Yesterday...we had another shooting in DC.

This time? A young guy was put into the hospital after being shot in the head...while in the midst of a city park in northeast DC....at 1 PM.

Yeah, it wasn't even evening hours. Just after lunch. That's the strange thing about this.

Cops have been out but no motive or reason has been offered.

Being only a new guy...it's hard to note more than two days passing without a shooting or killing in DC...a town with a ban on guns. Obviously, something just isn't working.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

My Flush Story


Sometimes, you get to a point where you scratch your head over the US government and wonder how things develop.

Today, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee got real busy. They held some hearings to what is referred to as the "Potty Parity Act."

Basically...this is a bill that wants to address and fix the unequal number of restrooms for women in federal buildings.

I sat and pondered over this. Being former Air Force and a career in service within government buildings...I kinda know about this episode.

It's an interesting thing.

Up until the 1970s...there was a ratio of women to men...and government buildings were built to that ratio. On each floor of a building...you had a men's bathroom and a women's bathroom. You tended to make the men's bathroom twice or three times the size of the women's bathroom.

I worked in a building where they had a sizable men's bathroom to handle roughly 100 men on the floor. It was curious to me to learn one day that the women's bathroom was to be used by fifty women, and had three stalls total. I was told that twenty years prior...there might have been twenty women in the building...but statistics over the years had changed. Then we had this female commander arrive...and over twelve months...she added another entire restroom for women...with twelve stalls. All it took...was an obvious leadership decision and $50k in cash to remodel the building.

So now...congress will have to step in...and have a toilet team which checks out American government buildings over the surface of the Earth. They will return and build a database. Eventually...they will determine that $20 billion needs to be allocated to fix this serious problem. Congress will say fine...and hand them $250 million...and they will hand out "flush-funds" to fix this issue.

Across the country...facility managers will tap into "flush-funds" and build wonders of modern technology to help settle a terrible wrong. Women will shed a tear or two. Men will shake their heads. And life will slowly improve for our modern civilization....with toilets for all.

South Carolina Lust

Today....it came out that South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford...our Republican dude who said he went walking in the Appalachian Trail but was really flying down to Argentina to see his mistress...had another secret rendezvous this weekend with the hot Argentine babe.

The governor said that he just had to meet with her....Maria Belen Chapur...to see if she still had the hots for him, and they could restart this torrid relationship.

The positive thing is that the governor's wife is already in fifth gear over the divorce business. Although folks in South Carolina are a bit disturbed about this whole thing.

The real issue now? Well...governors across America are looking at this. They were really cool with liaisons with local women...trailer trash women from Memphis....hot young show gals from Vegas....tube toped women from Tucson...and even freaky dominate women from Alexandra, Virginia. Now? There's this idea in these governor's minds over Argentine hot lusty babes? Yeah.

Imagine this vast new empire of lusty Argentine women as escorts and liaisons...as a state governor. So across America tonight...thousands of girlfriends and secret liaison babes of governors are worried. There's a bold new world coming, and it's not going to be pretty.

The 3-D Trend

Word out on the street has it...that Playboy will produce in June's edition...a 3-D centerfold.

Yes, it'll come with the 3-D glasses to allow you to see the image.

I sat and pondered over this. Did you really need this? Is this the trend of things to come? Could Hustler do it next?

Bluntly....it's a joke. Playboy has been on a trend for the past decade....kinda like Time, Newsweek, and National Geographic....downward. The guys who still admit they read Playboy? They attempt to act sophisticated and trendy...and haven't sipped a Pabst Blue-Ribbon in their life.

I'm thinking this will likely become a monthly thing with Playboy as they attempt to find a new crowd of 3-D folks who think it's cool and trendy. As for increasing profit? Forget about it....it's a spiral that just can't be fixed.

The Problem With Knowledge


"Information becomes a distraction, a diversion that is putting pressure on our country and on our democracy."

-- President Obama

I sat and paused over this quote made over the weekend.

Information is knowledge.

Knowledge was the shield that Socrates offered....to protect mankind from mistakes, from evil, and from temptation. Without it....we are lost, and without a compass.

Knowledge putting pressure on our democracy? Only if people deny the value of the knowledge in front of them. Denying wisdom would limit your future and the trust of people.

Socrates would have a good laugh over this matter....and probably start asking a bunch of stupid questions....that would just make matters worse. You know how blacksmiths are.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Just An Observation or Two

Over the past couple of days...I've watched this Supreme Court nominee...Elena Kagan...go through the dance steps. After about an hour of reading and digging...I came to two brief observations.

Since she's been a legal adviser for all these years, and never a judge...she had to earn a paycheck. It's a curious thing...over the past couple of years...she was a Goldman Sachs legal advisor. Judges....naturally....don't have this problem when they face the Senate over their nomination. They typically spent the last decade...judging...and that's it.

So, as each case over the next five years comes up to involve Goldman Sachs before the Supreme Court....she'd have to excuse herself from any comment or legal action. Would she?

I'm kinda wondering is any of the Senators will even comment on this. Maybe the Republicans will...but will she step aside for one case and admit she can't pass judgement? I think she will say she won't answer. To be honest...that ought to worry just about everybody.

Then the second thing comes up.

As White House counsel....she has the inside on probably thirty cases that are in the bucket to eventually make it to the Supreme Court over the next three years.

Will she excuse herself from judging on those episodes? Again, I don't think she wants to answer that.

By picking someone who hasn't been a judge...and has acted as a lawyer collecting pay for their actions...she's basically disqualified herself from maybe thirty-odd cases. What exactly does the President think will happen in this court...when she excuses herself?

They desperately need her vote...to counter the 5-4 situation they currently have. If she's out...then its not even close.

Was this a stupid move?

The more you think about it....the more it looks stupid. You should just pick a judge and avoid this problem. Or least pick a political figure...like Joe Biden. But when a guy's paycheck depends on his lawyer skills...it hurts this situation to pick the guy. So for three years....you've really got a part-time judge, or you have an idiot who won't excuse themselves...and made law a joke.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Home and Your Heart

One of my first jobs when I joined the Air Force at 18...was concrete work. We did repairs to streets and roads on base. We also repaired sidewalks.

A team of three guys could go through an entire neighborhood in housing and easily tear out 200 feet of sidewalk in a week, and replace it. The cost? Well...to be honest, we never thought much about that. Our labor was free...as far as the Air Force saw it. The concrete? Maybe $700 worth of materials by the end of the week. You have to count in boards, nails, and such as part of the cost.

I sat there this morning and saw this story out of LA.

They've gotten to such a low point on money in LA....that they'd like to reduce the city's budget deficit by stopping the repair sidewalks and driveways in the city.

So they went back and researched where this all started. Strangely enough...they learned that they started along in 1974. Someone started a city ordance that made the city responsible for sidewalk repairs.

Strange thing...it started with a federal grant. I sat there and scratched my head. LA was this major city in 1974. LA had growth and capital in 1974. So they didn't even have a sidewalks program then? Yep.

The city had a funny rule....if the sidewalk was on your property....you maintained it. Yes, you the resident, where the sidewalk was located.

So the city council is now suggesting....that money is so tight...that they won't continue this practice.

I looked it up....and there is a Bureau of Street Services for LA....and they say that the city has 10,750 miles of sidewalks. They also admit....around 4,600 miles of that needs to be fixed (roughly half). The cost? $1.2 billion.

I sat and pondered over this $1.2 billion requirement. This distance...4,600 miles...would stretch from Miami to Seattle...four foot wide...and then a bit more. And it'd take $1.2 billion to replace it?

I kinda feel sorry for folks in LA. It's a miserable situation to be in...you do your best and like the local town you live in...but the sidewalks are falling apart and they really can't afford to fix them? Then you start to wonder about what else they have...which they can't fix. Maybe the sewers? Maybe your water infrastructure? Maybe the stop lights?

After a while, you pull out an Atlas and start to think about other places. Maybe you might move your finger over across the big Atlast page...all the way to Bama...and then start to scratch your head. Bama? A new home? Hmmm.