Wednesday, 30 June 2010

It Bothers Me

It came out today....that a VA clinic in Missouri may have exposed 1,800 former GI's to hepatitis or HIV.

The VA is mailing out the letters....asking for these folks to be tested...and will pay for the testing.

Apparently, their cleaning method for dental equipment...which was inspected in the past month....was NOT up to standards.

I have alot of issues with the VA. I realize....it's free for GI's and most guys have no choice. But almost every twelve months now...you have an episode like this. For the 1,800 guys....it's a two week period of not knowing and trying to get tested. Then the results come and you just shake like like a leaf...until you open the letter.

Then you wonder...can you trust them again...when you need more dental work? And the answer is?

I realize that ninety-five percent of VA facilities are doing a decent job. It's this small group of five percent that you worry about.

Help May Be Coming

Today...between soccer news and Lady Gaga news....it was quietly announced that the US will accept help from 12 countries...plus even international organizations in dealing with the Gulf problem (the oil mess).

Then, somewhere in this announcement came a little hint...the State Department is still working out details....and it may be days, weeks, or possibly even months...before they have these details done.

Who are the twelve countries? We don't know. They were quick to say twelve and then skip right over who they are. I'm guessing several are big-name countries, and somewhere in this group of volunteers....is Mexico.

Who are the international organizations? Again...they didn't want to let you in on this group's names. Maybe Greenpeace? Maybe Friends of the Earth? Maybe German Octoberfest members?

The funny thing about this...is that it took seventy days for the White House to finally agree on this neighborly offering.

What would be impressive here...is if France has offered help...and they deploy into Louisiana....and suddenly folks turn pro-France, and anti-Washington.

The Milwaukee Understanding

Last week....from up in Milwaukee...because there's no winter right now...folks worry about other things. So the boycott of Arizona came up at a county supervisor meeting. If we were closer to October....they'd be talking Packers...but right now...it's Arizona.

So County Supervisor Peggy West came out and said that "...unlike Texas, Arizona is not a border state....a ways removed from the border."

If you were wondering how important Petty is....she is a Democrat and was named the 2004 Hispanic Woman of the Year by UMOS, Inc.

At some point...after the meeting...Peggy said she misspoke.

Personally....I'm thinking that dozens...if not hundreds of the locals...probably think the same thing. If you asked where any city beyond Chicago is....they'd have to look at the Atlas to say. If you discussed the idea of a summer vacation to Vegas...it'd be like going to Thailand or Brazil...for folks from Milwaukee.

Then you have this weird ingredient of folks who do a bit of "smoke" occasionally....and it's hard to remember important things. These guys sit around the basement, and just start pondering things...after a good long smoke...and there's this rush of madness.

This is about where Arizona starts, and where it ends (then you do another hit on the joint).

This is about where borders lie, borders unlie, or where borders are in an imaginary lie (then you do another hit on the joint).

This is about where you thought Arizona was last week, but weren’t sure this week. (then you do another hit on the joint).

This is about where Arizona’s border was during the Bush administration but changed during the Obama administration (then you do another hit on the joint).

This is about where you talk about borders...like they possibly existed (then you do another hit on the joint).

At some point...you’ve done enough hits...order pizza....and then remember that your mom moved to Arizona and maybe you ought to visit her because you ran out of money. Then you wonder if this border thing is going to be serious trouble.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Eleven Spies

So, eleven Russian spies were arrested? For spying? Really?

The basic story we've been given...is that eleven long-term "sleeper" spies were active in the US....had adapted US names, bought US property, made US careers, had Facebook accounts, drank US beer, and probably brought overpriced houses just like us too.

What secrets did they get? That really hasn't been put out there. In fact....they "hint"....ever so carefully.....that the Russians were doing open-source collection. They simply went up to folks, engaged in conversation, and folks just said things. Kinda like the interviews on MSNBC or FOX News....if you think about it.

How many "sleeper" agents are in America? From China, Russia, Cuba, North Korea, Iran, and Israel? Well....we don't really know. My humble guess? Ten thousand is a good starting point....although we might be skipping those foreign exchange students in universities.....who quietly sit and collect information on a hour-by-hour basis.

I am reminded of an Indian pharmacy degree student....who came into the US in the 1980s....and he reached this moment of brilliance when he discovered all the various formulas that made up the top 250 drugs in America. Our Indian friend took home this terrific notebook....not a computer disk....but an actual notebook. Within three years, he had devised a great method of duplicating US drugs....and selling them in India. The court system eventually tried to remedy the matter....but by that point....he had made millions selling necessary drugs to Indians at 1/100th of the original cost.

A spy? No. He was never accused of being a spy. Thats the funny thing about this story.

So thousands upon thousands of "sleeper" agents work in the US? Yeah. Some work on collecting business data. Some work on collecting farming technology. Some work on getting sources in the Wall Street market area. Some work on Google, Microsoft, and Dell technology. Some work on getting to the heart of Goldman Sachs, Fannie Mae, and various corrupted banks. Some work on political figures and figure out just how stupid they are and how easily corrupted they can be.

Somewhere out there....there's probably a Russian "sleeper" who chats with Katie Couric at the beauty parlor once a month and suggest little things to Katie to report.

Somewhere out there.....there's probably a Chinese "sleeper" who studies World of Warcraft and its impact on the public. He's probably figuring out the business model so the Chinese can manufacture their own version in five years and cut in on WoW.

Naturally, it's a great thing that the FBI got these eleven. The curious thing is that the Russians have asked for immediate access now. Unlike Gitmo guys....these prisoners actually have rights.....remember, they got the Miranda deal in the first minute of the arrest. I suspect the US legal system of 2010....doesn't compare to the US legal system of 1975. These guys will likely be released within a week or two....and deportation? Well....I'm thinking it'll be a problem. You have to prove classified was gathered.....and I'm thinking open source information won't count.

Just my own observation. But I think this will be a minor story in four weeks.

61 Stars Over America!

Down in Texas....this guy went into a Dollar Tree store....and wanted a flag for the 4th...to hang up. We can imagine that he is a bit cheap....and just wanted something...nothing fancy...nothing grand...just a plain old flag.

So he buys this flag, and ends up going home.

He opens the box....pulls out the flag. And for some odd reason...he just felt something was wrong. Most folks....would just hang it up and would have just never said anything. I'm guessing he is an engineer or something....because he got around to counting the stars....and there were 61.

In case some of you were wondering....there's only supposed to be fifty stars. So yeah, eleven more stars than what's supposed to be there.

He went back to Dollar Tree and commented about this. The best they could say...from the big headquarters....it was a banner...and not a 'flag'. There's apparently a difference between a banner and flag....and you can add as many stars as you want. Naturally, Dollar Tree doesn't want to admit that they paid some cheap-ass Chinese company to manufacture these for 30 cents each.

Now, if you were of a political nature.....you could argue that this is a flag destined for America in five years.....as eleven more states are added.

My choices?

1. Cuba (after Castro dies of course)
2. Puerto Rica (even if only 30 percent of the PR folks want statehood, it doesn't matter)
3. Guam (it'd help to know which ocean it's in)
4. Chicagostan (they deserve their own senators....it'd help to finance the government there)
5. American Somoa (they make the best wrestlers anyway)
6. Virgin Islands (There would be debate over the meaning of the state name)
7. Commonwealth of Northern Bama (from Demopolis north to the Tenn border, our own state)
8. Austinstan (the free and heavily democratic state carved out of Texas)
9. Green Bay (big enough to haul their own NFL team, big enough to carve out as a state)
10. Arlington (highest per capita state within the US, if created, and likely run by former El Salvadorians from day one).
11. District of Columbia (yeah, give it to the losers, and then let them fail as a state in the first year)

Yeah, maybe this was only a mistake....or maybe it was a Chinese conspiracy to start with. You just can't be sure. The thing here....is that we ought to all shop at Dollar Tree....if we want to cheap-ass stuff to hang up. That's my advice.

A Friend From High School

One of my close associates from high school...apparently died in the last day or two. Circumstances are rather odd...as my brother tells it...the guy was riding on the tailgate of a SUV...and somehow fell in some fashion...with punctured lung and a brain injury.... immediate death (so thought by the description).

It was an odd end to this guy...who cheated death over a thousand times before turning eighteen.

In the last three years of high school....I came to know this guy and considered him a friend. His adventures, with his brother...were legendary.

The two of them invited a game where they had an open field of around 1,500 feet...and then got a pick-up running where both got out and into the back of the truck...then raced to get back into the truck before reaching the ditch at the end of the field. They mastered this completely and repeated it often.

The two also mastered this trick of driving a tractor blind-folded.

All you had to do was suggest mixing explosives and gas...and using some vapor lock idea from a Mechanics Illustrated magazine....and they'd attempt the act.

There's at least a thousand of these 'events' that they accomplished, and shouldn't have made it to 18....but they did. This end down in Gulf Shores, Bama....is rather odd to contemplate....but knowing him...there was some risk to start with. That was his character and his 'charm' in life.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

No Fox News?

Name the American four-star general who forbid Fox News on his staff and command center floor.

General McChrystal.

Yeah, this came out Friday in a couple of small media spots. I read through this and it's rather odd.

The way that these general's command centers work.....they have cable TV piped in....and typically there's at least a dozen channels in these far-off remote locations....sometimes even thirty channels.

For most command centers....there's the Bloomberg Channel, MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, and even BBC. They will have a split-screen deal up and be running TV twenty-four hours a day. Except in this case....in Afghanistan and with General McChrystal's team....no Fox News.

I kinda sat there and laughed over this story. One of the most liberal magazines out on the market today....destroyed the career of General McChrystal, and his biggest worry up until that day? Fox News. It kinda says alot.

Rolling Stone Observation

The subject of the magazine Rolling Stone came up this week...because of the firing of the General.

At some point...I stood back and gazed back over at Rolling Stone itself. In my entire life...I've probably bought seven issues of Rolling Stone and probably read another five issues laying around the barracks or hotels. In the past five years? I've touched one copy.

At some point in the late 1970s....it probably had some substance in actual rock news or discussed real celebrity trends.

My impression from that last copy read? It's a yuppie magazine...made for folks over the age of forty....and trying hard to be a lifestyle magazine for politically motivated folks or socially conscious folks of a liberal persuasion. The magic that it held in the 1960s and 1970s? Gone.

So like Time, Newsweek, National Geographic, Penthouse, Reader's Digest and another dozen magazines dying out....Rolling Stone is also dying. They might have scored one 5-star moment in 2010....but let's face it...for subscriptions...if they get another 300 subscriptions off this story...that's about the only pat on the back that they can claim. That's pitiful by most standards anyway.

It is.....without substance. If you are a trend-setter and an idiot....you might get your name in the publication...but it's listed with Madonna...whose career is basically flat and finished.

I'm guessing the top manager of Rolling Stone is out at the parties this weekend...sipping expensive drinks and talking up the magazine and its effect on the military. Several dopey guys are standing around and discussing the impact on the magazine. By next week....most of the news is finished. Rolling Stone enthusiasm goes back to first gear. And everyone begins to discuss why Rolling Stone is so "doomed" again.

And the military news idiot who told the Army staff that inviting this Rolling Stone reporter in was a good idea? Well.....he's probably putting resumes out.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Another Czar?

Amongst the thousand things that folks are hoping to get out of the Administration...there's a new twist today....Senator Dick Durbin is asking for another Czar position.

This one? A Czar to oversee government efforts to stop Asian carp in or near Lake Michigan. Folks really aren't happy with the non-American species and want to ensure something is done.

You would think that just some government agency in existence already....would be the answer. But everyone always gets hyped up on Czars for some reason.

The thing about this....sooner or later...we'll have a catfish Czar...just a humble opinion from a guy from Bama.

Cash-for-Clunker-North-Korea

You have to admire the North Koreans. They are a society that barely survives...and somehow gets a major headline every single week.

This week...the North Koreans finally demanded that the US pay them compensation for six long decades of hostility. The amount they figure they are owed? $75 TRILLION. Yep...that's one notch above a billion.

This goes from 1950 to today. And the clock likely keeps ticking...with trillions more to be added on as things keep spinning.

In a way, you have to admire leadership like this. They will milk the Obama administration for weeks over this matter. CNN might even pick up on the story....and have some financial wiz explain how the millions add up to billions, and how it snowballs into trillions.

You sit and ponder over this...and then you wonder....if there were some idiots in charge of the US were crazy enough to say "ok", and then write out a check for $75 trillion. The question is...what would North Korea do?

They couldn't spend the money fast enough....even if they gave every citizen a check for $300,000.....where would they spend the money? There's no Wal-Mart. There's no GM dealer. There's no Vegas. There's no bars. There's no opportunity to spend anything but a few dollars here or a few dollars there.

So this threat is really a double-edge sword. They wouldn't even be able to use the money, if the US was stupid enough to pay them the money. That's the sad part about this threat. And frankly, if you were ever looking for US politicians willing to fix up a "cash-for-clunker-North-Korea" situation....this would be the time to do it.

Our Guy Timmy

It was a fascinating day...with Timmy Geithner coming out (he's the US Treasury Secretary) and telling the BBC that "the world cannot depend as much on the US as it did in the past".

It was a breathtaking moment....when he next spoke out and suggested that other major countries need to grow....for the world to prosper.

The impression I got....was that he wasn't really taking about Britain when he was talking about "other" countries and prosperity.

Then Timmy suggested that there really weren't any differences between the US and the EU on deficit reduction...although if this were true...then the US would be at the same recovery level as the EU, which they aren't.

I sat through most of 2009 and kept thinking that this Geithner guy would eventually fall into place and actually be one of the top five success stories of the Obama administration.

Over the past six months...I've basically come to decide that Timmy is a third-level type accountant/economist. He might be adequate for some state-level job in Missouri, or maybe working as some economic "weasel" for BP or Texaco. But he's basically out of the major league atmosphere where he ought to be.

The "world cannot depend" speech? Well...so the US economy is now fairly dead or fairly dull....and basically a economy like Paraguay? Is that the deal?

Then he suggests that other countries grow, but he doesn't give them the magic recipe? You can be better than us....but just don't listen to us because we screwed up? Is that the "hint"?

At this point....I'd like to see Timmy resign by early next year...with Rahm...and just go and write 8th-grade level economic books for college students in Harvard. Maybe that's the best we can expect out of them....because Harvard just can't continue their trend...you know. Maybe other colleges...like Texas Tech, or Auburn, or the University of Oklahoma can produce the great economists of the future.

If it sounds dopey....think of Timmy...and it'll make perfect sense.

Friday, 25 June 2010

How Volcanoes Cause Generals to Fall

This is a story over at the London Telegraph.....and it involves Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano and General McChrystal.

Apparently, this reporter who did the big interview and spent time with the General's staff...was only supposed to get a normal & typical tightly-controlled interview (once in Paris and then onto Kabul for a second part to the deal). At best, two days and very controlled.

Well....as the Icelandic volcano was blowing up this summer.....McChrystal and company...were stranded in Europe and had to make a bus tour to Berlin instead....and this entourage trip turned into two weeks....where everyone let their guard down.

They ate lunch together.....they sat and sipped coffee in the afternoon....and they probably had a few beers each night. So the group of the Generals.....came to trust the reporter.

Now, we come to the big question....why did the Army agree to this in the first place? Well....they came to discover that a number young recruits were reading Rolling Stone. So they felt this interview would carry positive and maybe get more recruits. So the Army sold the General's staff on this.

So you stand back and grasp this effect of one Icelandic volcano and how it brought down a General so easily. If it had delayed itself by a week.....history would be written differently...with a simply interview piece by the reporter and not much else.

Our Al

It is a story that you'd rather just avoid.

This guy registers at a hotel in Portland two years ago...as "Mr Stone". It's Al Gore, sadly.

Al apparently gets to a point where he needs a massage...and ends up doing something against the leg of the massage lady. We don't know what...but it was apparently some kind of "unwanted sexual contact".

The lady reports this to the cops....but they found insufficient evidence.

Now this whole thing comes out. Needless to say...the local newspaper in Oregon...who could have put out the story...didn't. They apparently knew but found that there wasn't enough proof in their standards to do so.

This is some comic episode now...and most folks (with recent Al Gore developments) now believe Al is some kinda hot lusty guy with a active lifestyle. Some women are probably thinking of Al right now....in a manner that would embarrass some folks.

The odds that the massage lady story is true? My humble opinion? Less than ten percent chance. The only thing that might have gotten on the massage lady's suit...was oil from greasing down Al's body. So Al might be totally innocent. Well...you'd like to believe that.

What I do find curious...are these registered names at hotels. Typically...if I tried to register as someone other than my name...the hotel would say no and demand my real name. There must be some 'get-out-of-jail' card that you present....so you could register as "Lucky Steel" or "Sid Stone".

Busy in School

There's a school policy up in Massachusetts....free condoms to be handed out to any kid...even in the fifth or sixth grade...if they ask for them.

The media kinda got wind of this discussion...and the hype this week is over the idea that kids could ask for these, without the parents knowing, and get them.

It's kind of a funny policy. First, this is a state-deal or local health services deal...so you are getting the cheapest condom possible. Naturally, the breakage rate is a big deal, if they really cared (but they don't).

Could a kid walk in and ask for thirty condoms a week? Yeah, a kid could do that...and the school nurse would eventually ask if he was using every single one of them, and the kid would likely smile and just say "only half the time".

I could imagine a scenario where some 15-year old kid walks in and says he's doing so much....that he's out of manliness and he needs some Viagra. They'd discuss this matter for a while and probably issue the kid a dozen each month...just to make sure that he's up to the task at hand.

Here's the sad part about this story...it's not 1972 anymore, and you've got punks everywhere doing it. A couple of years ago, I was chatting with a junior high teacher who had kids as young as 13 who were turning up pregnant in class. After a while, you'd rather not accept this as the "norm" but then it'd just repeat itself.

So there are two sides to this story. I'm guessing that it'll continue on...no matter what anyone says, unless the school board is voted out.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

My Kind of Gal


Occasionally, I'll find a pretty wild story...which will barely make it into the real news stuff.

Today....there is this 31-year old gal from Utah....who stole two cars and led them on a chase all while she was naked. The cops decided...after finally arresting her...that she ought to have a mental evaluation....which I might agree with.

This started in the late afternoon. Some guy pulls over....putting up business signs. This gal pulls up and gets "nudily" out of the car. I realize some of you Bama guys are a bit unnerved right now...and you can just skip this blog....but the rest of you can just settle back.

It's hard to say what the business guy was thinking at this point...probably just staring...but she walks up with no clothing and gets into his car, and drives off. There's a moment of pause here...and the business guy jumps into her abandoned car...then calls the cops via his cellphone.

At some point down the road....the gal crashes into a gate, and this is where cops finally arrive. But they've got a problem. Between blood on her from the crash, and alot of sweat...she was fairly slippery. You can imagine this scene....cops in full gear...vest on....and trying to grab onto a hot sweaty gal. Two cops couldn't even do the job.

Then she does a funny thing...she escapes....gets into the cop car and drives away.

She then crashes into another gate, and has to jump out of the car again.

Now, she's on foot....and has to jump a barbed wire fence.

Yep, you can settle back here in Bama and try to imagine a gal without much on....climbing over a barbed wire fence. There's this image...but we shouldn't think about this much.

It was at this point...the cops finally taser the gal.

There's enough charges (stolen vehicles, felony fleeing and lewdness) to keep her in jail for a year....just in case some of you guys had this romantic vision in your mind of your next wife or girlfriend.

Possible drug use? Well....yeah....I'd be betting heavily on that. But you can't find a gal in the state of Bama who'd jump a barb-wire fence with nothing on. And you have to admire a gal who would do that. Taking a taser shot is a plus-up too. It's just this car thing that would bother me....but she was all sweaty when sitting in those car seats (that ought to leave an image in your mind).

Reading Lists

If you were just starting out in college....and your professors gave you a reading list...that was mostly (at least seventy-percent) anti-Western....anti-business....multicultural....pro-environmentalist....and leaned against the establishment...what would you say?

There's this new study out....by the National Association of Scholars that found this statistic was true.

At least 250 colleges were checked and the list of books compared. It wasn't a pretty sight.

College is intended to be this place where you develop a vast array of knowledge and grasp ideals that can be radically different. So in one fashion....you can see a logic to making a kid read the Communist Manifesto. You'd like to challenge the kid to read the Constitution and French works on liberty....just as well.

The question is...after you read what they suggest...what discussion comes up in class? Are these classes leaning toward an anti-business attitude? This is what you just don't know.

In high school....we had a mandatory read required in history class of Uncle Tom's Cabin. If this had been for English Literature...it might have made sense. For history....as I grew older and realized the vast limitations of the book for accurate portrayal...I kinda look back at this mandatory reading as being somewhat of a joke.

It was the method that our high school teacher was going to cover the Civil War and ensure we grasped the logic for the North to fight the South....and what the war was fought over. The economic aspects of the start of the Civil War? Never mentioned. We probably spent an entire week covering the aspects of the book.

Sometimes, mandatory reading lists work....and sometimes, they backfire.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Remembering an Old Blog

On 5 Jun 2008, I wrote this blog. About every six months, I go back and read it again. For some reason, I consider my only true five-star blog of the past five years. Yeah, I may have written a number of good ones....and made folks think, laugh, or just appreciate being alive. This was a sad blog when I started, and it is still a sad blog today...two years later.


An associate of mine.....ten years in the Air Force.....has returned back from Baghdad after 120 days there. He was in a safe job where he simply did comm work and made sure video-teleconferencing equipment worked, on-time. Six days on.....twelve hours a day and sixteen hours on some days. One day off a week.

Naturally.....I asked him what he did on the day off. He stood there....in our little vault....with fluorescent lighting above his head....and just a bit of shadow to some degree.....pausing for five seconds.

It was a long pause. It was a pause that you knew he had to tell you something important but he didn't want sympathy from you.

After he ate breakfast on the off-day.....he walked over to the med-groups helipad area and served as extra manpower....between the pad and the emergency area where the ambulance might pull up or the helicopter would land. They had only a couple of folks to help unload wounded guys.....and they appreciated every bit of help they get. So he spent his off-day....taking the wounded guys off the chopper.

This isn't a job that most of us would like or enjoy. In fact....most of us would shy away from this and gladly dig a toilet pit or fill sandbags instead. There is a sad necessity for extra help.....to gracefully pick up a wounded guy and help tote him over to the surgery point. Someone has to lift the stretcher off the chopper and bear in mind the pain or suffering of the guy on that stretcher. You have to look the guy in the eye and reassure him of your best effort. You learn to lie. You learn to sooth a person in great pain. You learn to look not at a bad wound and make yourself sick. You learn to avoid bouncing a guy in great pain as you carry his stretcher.

You get paid nothing extra for this volunteer situation. You ought to be in your cot sleeping or reading a book or watching another hour of "Lost". You ought to write home or convey an email to the family about how well you are getting fed. You ought to be getting a haircut. You ought to be doing alot of things.....but for some reason.....you're at the pad.....waiting.

I listened to the few comments he shared. You could tell a shadow of pain was in his mind. He isn't totally unaffected over his "other" work....the stuff he wasn't sent there to do. He did this one-day a week....just to pass time and to make something out of nothing. He did the right thing. I can't tell him that. I can't calm his soul. I can't pat him on the back. I can't write his momma or wife or daughter to tell them what a true individual he really is. There is little I can do but sit and listen to the story.

For every hundred good stories a guy can tell from his time in Iraq....there is always the story that he really can't tell. It isn't about pride or justice or accomplishment. Its about a deep emotion....driving you to do stuff that most folks standing around America tonight....would prefer not to do. Its about military people who work seven days a week.....for the whole time they are deployed....and just accept it as "normal". Its a life that you can't dream up at 18 or wish upon anyone. Its about looking a guy in the eye and telling him "you'll be alright", when you know he probably won't be. Its about a guy whose girlfriend just dumped him and wrote the "Dear John" letter before he was supposed to go on duty tonight. Its about the mortar round that landed 284 steps from your tent.....you know because you walked it thirty times to consider just how close you came to death that evening. Its about taking chances....whether you are alive or dead tomorrow...and getting to a point where you don't think about such things.

Life isn't fair. But you really wouldn't want it that way. Deep down....you'd like to go to the far extreme....and test yourself.....to know just how far you can go. My associate.....appears to have gone a pretty far distance.....and he wouldn't want it any other way.

It was a long day....and I probably put more writing effort into this blog than the past one thousand....because it had to be written right. The thing is.....I could write a piece like this each day....and likely put my mind into a deep shadow....writing myself into a Nobel prize for literature while soft salty tears dripped. We pay such a price for telling a story.

Remembering a Haircut

Years ago, I took a two-week vacation to Turkey. It was one of those beach vacations along the coast.

At some point, I decided to get a hair cut.

So I went to the local Turkish barber and he did a pretty fair job of cutting my hair. We come near the end and I notice him picking up a q-tip....dabbing it with alcohol.

Then with a flick of his wrist and before I could say a word....he'd lite the q-tip and did a quick blow-out of the tip just as he inserted it into my ear. Naturally....it burned off all of my ear hair. My hands were griping the side of the chair pretty intensely at that point. And he proceeded to the second ear....repeating the process.

There was this 1.5 second pause in my heart....from this process. Even the second application kinda shocked me.

After I paid the guy (it was barely $2 anyway).....I walked out and beginning rubbing my ears. No burns....no hair....and it actually felt pretty good.

I stood there pondering over this....how they came to learn this trick in the first place and if the first guy got burned pretty good? I've never had another Turkish haircut since that trip. For some reason....I don't think this practice would ever take off in the US....just my opinion.

Memphis


Memphis...at least in my opinion....is one of those towns that you'd best just pass through. The only necessity for stopping is for gas, burgers, or to see Graceland. Otherwise, you don't want to spend any time in the city. There's crime. There's robbery. There's shootings and murder. It's just not a city you want to live in.

Yesterday...the city of Memphis came around to fix a problem that they saw. If they have a city job....there's a box on the application form that you would fill in or "X"....to mention if you had any criminal history. The city council decided that the "X" box was not necessary and it's been banned.

You can imagine the implications here. Without the box...you can try hard to avoid any mention of crime, arrests, or jail-time....and you just might get through the job interview and get a city job.

Desperate to get new and fresh blood into city jobs? Well....I doubt it. Desperate to get the "right people" into city jobs? Well....maybe.

The city claims that they still have a review process and background checks. But if someone in the background checks department is prepared to accept money (maybe for some political party)...then they can just forget to look at the review process and stamp the dude approved.

Yep...you slip $200 over to the backgrounds guy....and this city job is yours. That's my take on this. You might have to ask Mama for the $200 or borrow from your girlfriend....but this could be fixed real easy.

Did this improve the chance of you staying or stopping in Memphis? I doubt it. You'd best fill up about thirty miles east of town and keep on cruising. Don't stop.

Monday, 21 June 2010

The Hell Option

My associate at the office is a 7th Day Adventist guy. He just moved up in the last six months to DC...like me....and left his old congregation down in a southern state that I will leave nameless.

He sat and told me a recent update on his old church. The 7th Day crowd are kinda like the Methodist and they rotate ministers to ensure they don't get to cozy with the locals. So this guy's minister was approaching the time to pack and move.

It's an interesting thing...over the past three years...this young minister of 30 years old....was single and attracting one particular lady in the congregation. Sadly, he didn't really want to mess with her and had help from the Deacons on several occasions to get him out of a bad situation. The gal is around 34 and single (never married). She'd decided from the first month or two after he arrived....that he was "the one".

So in the last month...as my associate went back down to visit...there was the last sermon from the minister and a church social. The lady came up with most of the elders of the church there...and announced that God had spoken to her...and they were "to be married".

Naturally, silence filled the room.

The minister did his best at this point.....saying that he hadn't heard any angels directing him and that this might be a confusing message that she misinterpreted.

She said "no, there was no confusion here".

Some of the elders kinda set things straight as they saw it. God didn't send any message as far as they could see. As the episode wrapped up....the minister announced he'd miss everyone and he was changing his cellphone when he left for the next job.

I'm guessing this gal is praying for angels to deliver his address at the new site as quickly as possible, and get another message to continue to pursue him.

I sat and pondered over this story for a while. In Bama, we have episodes like this. Although typically...the Baptists just have some kinky weird sexual relationship and just see how far it gets before they have to run the minister off.

Usually if a gal comes up in Bama, and says God told them of some marriage situation with a guy...it's pretty drastic. A guy would have to pull out his beer bottle collection and show his "Going to Hell" posters...to get a gal off his front porch. If she's a strong-willed Baptist....she'll just say that she can help him overcome his issues.

So it goes. I'm guessing there's a minister out there tonight...worried about some gal showing up on the front door step.

And there's probably 10,000 single guys in Bama....worried that some religious nut of a gal will show up and claim Jesus or some angels said that they ought to be married. That'd sure mess up that bluegrass concert they were going to attend this weekend.

Bernie's Billions

An inmate kinda overheard a conversation with Ponzi king Bernard Madoff....and Bernie says he hid over $9 billion before they carted him off to jail. The inmate says it's a friend of Bernie that is hold the capital.

I read this story, and sat there for a while. Here's the funny thing. I'm hoping this is false...because if's true...then the SEC and their investigation team is totally worthless, and they have never detected this $9 billion dollar transfer from all the data they collected.

Can you imagine this image? Bernie hears that something is about to come down...and he starts moving funds around over a weekend...and by Monday...has $9 billion off-shore (my guess), and hidden so well...that the incompetent fools at the SEC never detect this money?

If this were proven to be true....I'd just bring in the top 300 members of the SEC...and terminate them today from their job. I'd move everyone up a notch...and then go to find new employees with degrees from the University of Texas, the University of Utah, and the University of Iowa. If you even hinted to me that you were a MBA guy from Harvard...I'd fire you.

Should the White House be concerned? Well...let's say that someone screws up here and proves that Bernie's buddies hold the $9 billion...it's on your watch...not GW's watch. I'd say this is a major problem to explain in public.

Just An Update

If you haven't followed the disappearance of the seven-year old kid from Oregon from two weeks ago....Kyron Horman....then a slight update.

This was the kid whose stepmother brought to school and attended a science fair as school started up early in the morning. The stepmother stayed for half-an-hour, and watched him walk down the hallway. He never came home from school that day. And it was realized later than he didn't attend any classes for the day. So he disappeared shortly after she saw him go down a hallway.

To bring you up to date....and I kinda suggested from two weeks ago when I blogged this story then...the stepmother is becoming the number one candidate in this episode.

Several things have been noticed now.

First, the cops have been asking everyone from that school that morning if they saw either Kyron or his stepmother there. It appears that they aren't having much luck in finding a single kid remembering Kyron or teacher remembering the stepmother there. There were alot of parents there...but they suspect that the kid and stepmother were never there.

Then, they decided last week to invite the stepmother for a lie-detector test. Things didn't go well. You see...they have the cellphone records....and it kinda tracks you as you go from one district to another. She went over to a island about five miles away from the home that morning....and it appears that she didn't want to mention that in the lie-detector test.

She was to show back up Saturday....for lie-detector test number two. This isn't a good sign for her.

She apparently hasn't given any real answer over the island visit or the necessity to travel there. Cops have been out to the island and probably spent a good bit of time this weekend trying to guess what she was doing there.

I looked over the island, compliments of Google maps and imagery. It's not a real island...so to speak. It's more like an area with several creeks and streams splitting up a mass of land, and just referring to the land as an island. At one end is an actual river. The curious thing...lots of dirt roads are obvious...which lead up to creeks and streams....along with swampy areas and sandbars. If you were going to dump a body somewhere....this would be a five-star place to do it and have it never found.

I suggested in my blog from two weeks ago...that the stepmother likely did the job...and I think I will be right in the end.

Exit

The London Telegraph put out an interesting story this weekend...Rahm Emanuel....is going to quit. Yes, the personal adviser to the President....is wrapping up his position.

They found a number of insiders who know the scripted exit. Rahm is waiting until the November elections occur....and will then announce his leaving.

You get the opinion that Rahm needs a position to slip into. It can't be a house seat seat from Illinois....the election just concluded. It probably can't be an ambassadorship. I'm guessing the Democratic Party mechanism has to be looking for the right job for Rahm to fit into.

Who gets the seat in the White House next? This would be a curious thing. I'm thinking that alot of folks would just plain turn down the job.

The reason for the exit? Well....it's a growing number of disenchanted folks with the current strategy of the White House. Rahm has probably done his best to keep things in line and simple...and it's just been a mess because other agendas came up out of thin air.

Then you add on the enormous amount of pressure to keep Democrats lined up to vote on the President's policy ideas.....which Rahm was always known as a tough guy to push people into voting for things. Here was the perfect environment....a Democratic President....a Democratic Senate.....and a Democratic House. Rahm just didn't have the ability to sell the message or keep folks focused on the final result.

It'll be a curious period after November's results. In a way....Rahm will take the fall for the White House and his exit will give them a bold new chance to move forward. They've got two years to fix their problems or be a repeat of the Jimmy Carter White House.

The Trouble with Commissions

The news folks finally sat down and examined the seven folks that were mentioned as the new commission on the Gulf oil spill. They were supposed to come back and tell the President what to do over this whole thing.

Most folks had this expectation that the commission were made up of folks who had a science background....and engineering background....a disaster background....or perhaps even a environmental background. Any of those would have made sense.

It's a curious thing...only one of them has any technical knowledge that could ever relate to situation like this.

You've got one guy who who is an environmental scientist.

A second one actually does have a engineering type degree...with lots of knowledge...but over optics and physics.

The rest? Well....they are degrees and backgrounds in management and making policy. That's it.

This is the funny part. The inside story is that the commission of seven folks will actually have to go and find folks who have backgrounds or have expertise in disasters like this....or oil drilling expertise....or clean-up expertise.....and literally make them "mini-commission" members....in order for this to work. Luckily....the "mini-commission" folks....won't write or be a part of the final recommendations. We wouldn't want that to happen.

This is kinda like having a commission on baseball...but all seven members have no background in baseball. One might be a former football player. One might have designed basketball arenas. One might be a hot dog expert. But no real expertize in baseball....thus they will pronounce judgement over the sport anyway.

This is kinda like having a commission on chainsaws....but all seven members have no background in chainsaws. One might be a former Avon-sales lady. One might have driven a lumber delivery truck while in college. But no real expertize in chainsaws....thus they will pronounce judgement over chainsaws anyway.

Finally, this is kinda like having a commission over beer...but all seven members have no background in beer. One might be a strict Baptist from a dry county. One might be a wine expert. One might even be a former alcoholic who was partial to whiskey his entire life but never ever sipped a beer. Thus, no real expertize over beer and they would pronounce judgement over beer anyway.

Its strange how this commission stuff really works. Maybe it's a good thing that everybody laughs about commissions anyway.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

We Are Sorry

There's an interesting story over at Pajamas Media...over the various ways that we've apologized in the past eighteen months:

1. There's the "we-are-sorry" speech for America's general feeling acting "alone" is ok...rather than being nice and do things in a multi-cultural sort of way.

2. Then there was the "we-are-sorry" speech To Europe for just being lousy Americans and never understanding their situation in the world. Naturally...Normandy was never mentioned and American men buried in France can't be rationally explained in any "we-are-sorry" speech.

3. Then there was the "we-are-sorry" speech Turkey where we explained that we simply misunderstood Islam. It was pretty neat for about a month or two. For some reason....that speech has been forgotten now....almost completely.

4. Then came the "we-are-sorry" speech to Libya for comments that we might have made but were made in error. The Libyans were just happy that someone wanted to be nice to them....and everyone shared some cups of goat-milk afterwards.

5. Then came the "we-are-sorry" speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos....where we screwed up in the big economic stumble around the world. We didn't really go into details here...because frankly...we still don't know how those stupid bankers lost all that money.

6. Then came the "we-are-sorry" speech to Japan....where we nuked them to end World War II, and it just wasn't the right way to end a war. We would have preferred to fight man-to-man all the way into the heart of Japan and three or four million Japanese folks instead.

7. Then came the "we-are-sorry" speech to Russia and we just wanted them to like us like they did in the old days...although we couldn't really remember when they ever liked us.

8. Then came the "we-are-sorry" speech to China....where we kinda wanted to mention to everyone in China that Arizona's new law was pitiful and we were sorry for it. A bunch of Chinese guys wondered where the hell Arizona was....and why one state held this much power in making a entire country apologize.

It is a great article, and as they point out.....we still have dozens of folks we need to repeat the "we-are-sorry" speech to.

A guy can say sorry about two or three times....to mean it.....but after that, there's no real feelings. And the idiots who constantly demand apologies.....tend not to accept any after the 3rd one....but they still let you know their feelings are hurt anyway.

Eventually, we'll end up with a "we-are-sorry" speech for George Bush and then we'll know we are in serious trouble.

Arizona versus The US

The attorney general has taken the position now of taking Arizona to court....to stop their immigration law from taking effect.

I'm guessing that Mr Holder will ask for the law to be temporary halted by the court.....with Arizona probably asking for immediate court action instead, and launch right into the case. This is probably not what the administration wants.....instead trying to stop the law for six months before the case comes up into court.

The judge? He just might say no temporary halt and allow the case to proceed immediately into court.

What happens if Eric Holder and the Administration lose? I'm suspecting this massive moment of frustration occurring....then trying to take it onto the Supreme Court. This part of the case would take an entire year to finish up.

As for the Supreme Court? With the current make-up.....this law will likely stay in effect, with the conclusion around the end of 2011....just in time for the 2012 primary season to start. Eric Holder will be long gone by this point......and it'll be a curious moment for the administration to explain their next step....an attempt to push immigration reform via congress in 2012.....to fix the Arizona problem.

In the end....it'll continue on.....like a comedy of sort.

Where I Grew Up

I found a blog today which dwelt with my home town and where I grew up. It was a visit and commentary over what is left there.

I've been back to Bama around fifty times over the years. There are subtle changes. Nothing has stayed the same as far as I'm concerned.

I tend to think and dwell over a place that was amusing in nature to me as a kid.

It was a dry county but no one really really believed in this "dry" trick.

It was a place where people would screw with hornet's nests, and get stung thirty times. Yet, it made you a legend in some strange way.

It was a place where folks would experiment with tools, steel, and farm equipment....and sometimes make things that that ought to earn a Nobel Prize.

It was a place where county fairs made your eyes water-up with tears over food that was loaded with grease and sugar.

It was a place where locals marveled over your travels to Nashville or Atlanta....which seemed a million miles away.

It was a place where an inch of snow took your breath away.

It was a place where you had three real channels of TV, and PBS....and you were entirely happy. You listened at night to a AM station in St Louis....and that was your connection to the "big world".

It was a place which probably meant something.

So a thousand miles away I stand today.....and remember it.

My Saturday

I had to work today. A rare thing. I have this vaulted area in the Pentagon.....right below a parking lot....which leaks every time it rains. This has become a major issue....so the Pentagon maintenance guys finally agreed to major effort on locating the leak and fixing it.

So I arrived at 6:30 and we began this fire hose trick. We sprayed, and sprayed, and sprayed, and sprayed, and sprayed. We went to every possible corner of the parking lot area....and then the side of the building, and then everywhere else. It started with a 5x5 ft area, and by the end...we'd covered probably two acres completely with a tremendous amount of water.

Nothing. No leak.

I would imagine that we sprayed between 15k and 18k gallons of water this morning via the fire hose.

By 11, we gave up.

It's supposed to be a thunderstorm on Sunday....and we'll probably get the leak then....which makes no sense.

Your Money

It's barely mentioned in the news....I saw it on Fox News and one newspaper yesterday....but the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)....is basically broke.

This program has been around for about thirty years and was supposed to be a government vehicle that would help in flood-prone areas.

To be honest...up until Hurricanes Katrina/Rita....it stay in the profit level and had sufficient money cover the average floods. Those two hurricanes....broke the bank. Right now...they are $19 billion in the hole. The current premium level isn't working....and you can only envision this massive government "donation" of $20 billion to stabilize the fund.

Congressional involvement yet? No.

There's this approaching trigger of hurricane season...and they actually say several might be serious this year. The President will have to act by the end of the year to cover this program.

What I could never understand....was why folks would buy property in areas where floods were prone or hurricanes were possible. I'd like to see a law that says no one can build within a quarter mile of any beach area along the Gulf coast.

I was visiting Bama a couple of years ago and my dad & brother took me over to a area in the local town where a couple of houses had been recently been put up. They are within 300 feet of the local creek. About every thirty years....there is this massive flooding which brings the creek up a good ten feet. It's all flat in this new housing development. I was kinda amazed...it was the worst possible place to build a new house....yet the buyer thought the view of the creek was a big plus. I'd guess they bought insurance just to be safe.

Prepare yourself to hear about the program and the necessity to just "give" twenty billion dollars over to it....free of charge....from your pocket. You knew better than to live in a flood-prone area...but you will donate your taxes to the guys who felt it was a great deal. Something ain't right about this.....you just have that feeling.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Our Little Refuge

There's this US government-controlled area...the 3,500 acre Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge down in Arizona along the border. It's supposed to be open for folks to see nature in its desert setting. Right now....and for several years in fact....there's been this funny signs up.

Basically....the US government has said that travel is not recommended into this area....because of Mexican drug traffickers in the region. They cross the border....use this wildlife refuge.....and it's fairly unsafe.

Even the local county sheriff won't send folks out there unless it's a big group of guys.

The federal reaction? Nothing....just signs.

It's barely mentioned on any of the major news outlets over the past month. Fox News has mentioned it several times....and its starting to be discussed in various forums. Folks in Arizona are quiet familiar with the issue....and want the Feds to do "something". The odds here? Don't count on the federal government doing much of anything.

I pondered over this for a while....and wondered if this is a refuge and people are unsafe....then animals are unsafe as well. The Sierra Club or the environmental guys ought to be saying something. But there's zero mentioned under their titles as you look for a comment.

So, it's time to render this a non-federal property area....and bring in bulldozers. If its not safe for man or beast.....then it's time to make it very unsafe for the Mexican guys crossing through with drugs. I would suggest handing the property back over to Arizona and decertify it a any type of refuge area. If the Sierra Club is upset....let them explain how we can protect the animals. I don't think they will attempt to do it.

Our Dale

Dale ain't done. He's just getting warmed up.

The Hat Episode

A kid up in Rhode Island worked on a hat project and wanted to wear it to school. The school said no problem with the hat or the flag on it....but the plastic soldiers on the hat....wasn't acceptable because of the school's 'zero-tolerance' policy.

I kinda scratched my head over this. The school apparently has a problem with weapon concepts and this second grader wasn't going to get around this.

Since the announcement....the school has kinda kept quiet. I think the county board is a bit disturbed by this understanding of the rule. These are plastic soldiers that almost every eight-year old kid has.

I'm guessing that some guy in China has a dozen phone-calls already....can he make a duplicate of the hat for a certain price....and ship 50,000 to the states within two weeks? This Chinese guy is scratching his head because nothing about this makes any marketing sense but he's always out to make a buck.

As for the kid? Well....I think if he'd just put three inch tall plastic women with big boobs onto the hat....that would have been fine and accepted at the school. Plastic soldiers are evil....big-boobed plastic women are acceptable (my take).

Makes you wonder what will be acceptable in 2020, or a threat?

Thursday, 17 June 2010

A Bridge Too Far

Sometimes...you read a story...and you realize you have a connection to the story.

Today, we came to realize that Arizona is going to spend $1.25 million...to build these special bridges....for endangered squirrels over a mountain road.

The logic? The state doesn't want them to be roadkill.

Apparently, Red Squirrels are awful dang rear in the state...maybe 250 of them total. They'd like to ensure their survival....because they think at least five per year die from cars.

The region affected? Mount Graham....which is a bit far out on the normal drive for most folks.

I sat there reading this...and I didn't really want to say much...because I'm one of those drivers who actually hit a Red Squirrel back around 1989...on one of these roads in the Mount Graham region. I can remember the episode because thats the only animal I've ever hit in my life....and I remember at the last second...this blur of red going across the road.

So...$1.25 million to be spent. I can imagine this engineer getting into this...having to figure out the length, the height, and what entices a squirrel to enter such a bridge. My guess is that someone will want to name these after famous congressmen or senators....and we'll eventually have the Harry Reid Squirrel Bridge...somewhere. Just my hunch.

My METRO

A few days ago....in our local DC paper....they covered a METRO (our subway & bus network) episode.

METRO has come to admit that the scanners on the bus network (on board each bus as you enter)....have a fairly noticeable failure rate. You board...swipe your card...and it is supposed to deduct the fare from your account. It's a great system...if it works.

On any given day....there's probably at least one bus every hour running around...with a scanner that won't register or has failed. This means you enter the bus...swipe your card...get no reading....and then get a signal by the driver to just get on and forget about the charge.

Since arriving in January....I've had this to happen to me at least four times. That's around $6 that they never got. Multiply that by maybe 200 customers over a three-hour period....and you've missed $300.

They won't say how much has been missed, but I'm guessing they miss out on at least $500k a month throughout the entire DC bus network. Yep, a minimum of $6 million a year. That would buy twelve new buses.

They talk about more maintenance personnel and better machines...but neither item has shown much advancement. Me? I'm thinking I'll save bucks over the remainder of 2010.

And folks why METRO is such a failure?

The American Car

I almost shed a tear watching this. It made me want to go out, and buy a new car.

Talk Dumb to Us

Not that it really matters...but CNN got desperate enough to invite English language expert to measure the "level" of the President's Gulf speech, and determined it was written at the 10th-grade level.

Then the expert said it was over the head of most folks in the audience across America.

I sat there for a while pondering this.

This is absolute desperation of CNN...to do something weird like this. Does Anderson Cooper measure his nightly broadcast...to ensure it's built at the 8th-grade level...so that the vast part of his American audience can receive the message he is putting out? Does Katie Couric do this? How about Glenn Beck? Is this why Larry King was so successful....he kept his entire interview system geared to a 8th-grader?

Would the Gettysburg address come out to be at the 8th-grade level of life or the 6th-grade level of life?

Will the White House get the message and dumb down it's speeches?

Will CNN eventually bring on a designer expert and eventually determine the clothing style of important folks....like Nancy Pelosi or the "Arnold" of California?

Finally, will CNN finally find a guy to explain to the CNN network why we just aren't watching the network much anymore? Just curious.

Another Show I've Come to Notice

I spent a significant amount of my life overseas, and I missed various TV shows over the past three decades. I probably only saw half of all the Magnum PI episodes. I might have seen only sixty percent of the X-Files episodes.

About three months ago....I was channel-flipping and came to this 70's Show. I watched an episode....and became addicted. I hadn't seen a single episode before. The script was five-star. "Red" was this great character as the dad. And Fez became this work of art about the visiting exchange student who could fit into any situation.

I've probably watched forty episodes now....and still have another eighty to go. I kinda wish there was an ending movie to the show...where they had them all lined up today and tell their sorrows and woes of the past thirty years.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

DC Dehydration

Yesterday in DC....they had General David Petraeus almost pass out in a Senate hearing. They rushed the guy out for twenty minutes and gave him several cups of water. When he did come back ....he kinda admitted that he had gotten "dehydrated".

It's an interesting experience being here in DC in the summertime. Even I've come to recognize five or six times this year that I felt dehydrated. I suspect its the combination of heat and humidity. I've come to gulp down a good bit of water before I walk out of the apartment to work, and I'll guzzle a XL cup of ice tea by mid-morning, with a second cup by mid-afternoon.

I suspect the general is a bit embarrassed by the episode. You hate admitting that you were missing the key signs to sip some water.

Only an Observation

There was some talk today by folks suggesting various methods of how Alvin Greene from South Carolina picked up various votes and won in the senate primary there.

One of those suggestions came around to the concept of just identifying the name....and linking it to some singer. Folks came to admit that they didn't really know either and it was strictly a name thing that lead to their vote.

I sat and pondered over this comment.

I worked with a guy who took a statistics class. To make a point, he lead a survey for his class project that centered around names. You could vote for five people. He gave a brief two-line comment about all five fictional names. One of the five was named: "Candy Le Duke". He did the survey around 100 folks....and eventually came back to report the results. "Candy" won the majority of votes (somewhere around 50 votes). The other four all got around five to fifteen percent. His analysis was that the name mattered.

I've voted in four elections in my life. I realize that this upsets some of you because I'm fifty and I should have voted seven times minimum and perhaps as much as fifteen times. And if you count the fact that I'm registered to vote in two states (which we really don't want to admit)....I should be voting a heck of a lot. But frankly, I vote only when I see a clear national candidate....and otherwise....I don't care much for the episode.

I came to some point where state candidates really weren't identifiable. For example....I don't know these idiots running for county commissioner or school board. I might know the top two guys running for governor....but the lt governor position? I have no idea.

At one point....after the presidential position....I voted for the first guy in each row. One year....I voted for the libertarian candidate in each row.

So I can understand this issue of just picking Alvin Greene's name at random....and just giving the guy my vote. Maybe it's true that the Republicans didn't help him (I really doubt it but why not give it a shot that they were purely innocent in this case). And folks just voted for name recognition only. Maybe one year.....Candy Le Duke will run....and win by a wide margin.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Just a Memory

With the Alvin Greene episode still continuing in South Carolina.....I came to remember a fascinating event in 1984 around one of the US Army posts in Germany.

Typically, a Army guy will come out of basic training and then be assigned to further training or just be labeled "infantry" and then sent to a staging point. In Germany....between 8AM and noon....at least two passenger jets would roll in each day and dump off around 200 Army personnel on any given day.

The troops would all process through a unit in front of the air terminal and then they'd get their real orders or assignment in Germany. Up until that point....they had no idea where they were going.

There would be some chow, and then they'd hand you the bus assignment...and around 2PM....the buses would start to roll out across West Germany.

So there was this Army kid who arrived...was processed....and then sent onto his post. He hands over his records, and there's supposed to be a financial briefing within three days.....and you get your paycheck all fixed up. This kid....for whatever reason...never attended the briefing.

Days passed. Weeks passed. Months passed. This kid had a three-year contract....and spent the entire time in Germany. So he comes up within sixty days of leaving Germany, and the Army....and they pull his finance records.

In basic training.....he got two partial checks, and then one final check before departing the US. Then, nothing for the entire period of 2.6 years. The finance guys couldn't understand this.

So they brought him in. They discovered at that point....that the kid had marginally a sixth-grade education. He had some basic reading skills....and was mentally no more than a twelve-year old kid. The guys in the barracks knew this. His boss knew this. His commander knew this. None of them ever put one and one together....to realize the big picture of this kid (he was now 21).

So they added up the missed paychecks....and it came near $35k total. In 1984....that was a fair sum of money.

Then they asked how he survived. Soap, shampoo, etc? He told that his mama was sending a envelop each month with $40 in it.....and that was more than enough to pay for everything. He ate every meal at the chow hall. He drank water from the tap. He never consumed beer. He never went off-post. He had the same clothing that he had from high school. He had bought a couple of pairs of tennis shoes but mama paid for those.

So the finance guys sat down and spent an entire day with this guy....explaining basic finance and how to handle money. They didn't feel good about giving him almost $35k.

His plan? He was going back to home and didn't really have much of plan beyond that.

Through these years....I've always been curious about this guy. I'm guessing that he made it ok, and maybe his mama kept the money in the bank for him.

He was happy with what the Army gave him.

He was Alvin Greene in a way. He didn't really think beyond his little world and was able to enjoy being what he was.

A One-Man War


Sometimes, all it takes is one man to end a war.

Today, in Pakistan, the local authorities came upon an American, and started asking questions. There are so few Americans in Pakistan...so it kinda makes things interesting when the cops do come across one.

They found he was armed with a pistol, night vision goggles and a 40-inch sword. His trip to Pakistan? He came by himself....to kill Osama bin Laden.

This guy....Gary Brooks Faulkner, a 52-year old California construction worker...apparently meant every word he said. The cops thought it was a joke originally, and then realized that Gary wasn't joking.

Gary even came to admit that he'd visited Pakistan seven times. The cops appear to be headed to simply deporting Gary and sending him back to California. From their prospective...there's not much to charge him with...except perhaps visa violations. A guy in Pakistan can carry just about as many swords and firearms as he can physically handle.....kind of a different stance from an American prospective.

From a California prospective....there's probably forty-four charges they could toss against the guy....but I doubt that they want the press asking stupid questions.

There are several observations here. First, I doubt that the US government knows that Gary has been going back and forth....which is amusing because of the filtering system to identify Americans going to Pakistan. How'd he travel? That might be an interesting tale.

Then you have this question of how much success a guy like this might have. One guy....alone....no massive government operation or permission by the President required. Statistically....sooner or later, he would probably find and kill his intended target.

Sometime today, I expect Gary to be on a plane out of Pakistan. A curious CIA group is probably wondering about Gary's travels and how he accomplished seven trips. And a couple of California political folks are wondering if they can charge him with any crimes. And Gary? Well....he's planning trip number eight already.

Jimmy Dean

Jimmy Dean died Sunday. There are a thousand words that could be written about the guy. As a kid, I remember eating Jimmy Dean sausage and considered it the only five-star sausage out there.

He became a national icon in the 1960s....and was probably recognized as much as Lady Gaga today.

But the thing that always impressed me about Jimmy Dean is that he admitted that he grew up in poverty. If you asked him to tell a story about growing up.....he would relate the hardships and then the movement up the ladder of life.

At one point he proudly stated: "Poverty was the greatest motivating factor in my life." He had an appreciation of everything he accomplished....whether small or large.

You have to admire the guy.

9-11 Equals Gulf Mess?

There was a presidential visit to the Gulf yesterday....and somewhere in the midst of speeches and sound bytes....there was the equalization of 9-11 to the Gulf BP mess.

After this was uttered, a number of folks went into analytical mode and were either for the comment or against the comment.

I sat and pondered over this for about five minutes....and then figured that the number of shootings in DC over an entire year equates to a third-world country running amok.

I also equated George W. Bush with Andrew Jackson....just because.

And I equated Wal-Mart donuts with Dunkin Donuts....but not Krispy Kreme.

When you get around to equating....it's a funny business. You try to compare Pete Rose with Ty Cobb....and it's really not possible. Or you compare a Camero with a Mustang, or perhaps McDonald's burgers with Wendy's burgers.

Some folks need to equate....to make things fit into their mind. Eventually these equate-freaks can compare Toyota-made cars with Chrysler-made cars....at least in their mind....they are of the same quality. Once you reach this status....your mind is pretty much shot.

As for 9-11 and the Gulf BP mess? Well....the truth is that the Gulf mess will eventually come under control and the BP crews will disappear from the beach clean-up business (maybe three years from now...but it will eventually happen). And just like the Alaskan episode with the Exxon Valdez episode....most folks come to forget the entire matter after ten years. Within twenty years....no one will be able to remember what company was involved in this Gulf matter. But 9-11? Well....that's kinda different....it's an Normandy invasion moment....folks don't forget this very easily.

The bright side of this comparison? Well....we will be able to get both Gulf BP experts and 9-11 experts on this upcoming weekend....in one forum....and you'd never think it'd happen. It's like one wrestling generation meeting up with another wrestling generation. They will argue on CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, Fox News and NBC. And come Monday of next week....hopefully....we've got a new and fresh topic to discuss.

The Questions You Would Have Asked

Today, I finally came across two personal comments on South Carolina's Alvin Greene (the guy who won the state Democratic primary for senator). These were military guys who had supervised him at points, and they were posted on a forum. Both comments went hand in hand. They described Alvin as being a non-starter, a poor learner, and not easily grasping things around him. We aren't talking about a 18-year old kid....this was the description for a guy in his late 20s and early 30s.

In short, they suggested Alvin was mentality underdeveloped or possibly mentality retarded.

When I came to Tucson in 1989....the administrative guy in my office was a NCO who was rather odd from day one.

I came to realize after about two months....that he was mildly mentality retarded. He could read through a book or study manual, and remember enough to pass tests. If you asked him to explain the material....he'd just look at you. He could not comprehend. Question X met up with answer Y. That was his entire comprehension.

He did his job, but the minute he finished the tasked assigned....he just sat there staring at the wall. He could spend three hours a day staring at the wall.

After six months.....I came to realize there was a list of issues with this guy. He'd been in fourteen years and would probably make Master Sargent within a year or two. He could not supervise anyone, and he was a total loss at taking an emergency and reacting to it. He had the responsibility ability of a twelve year old kid. He could become ballistic and slam his fist on the table with only a marginal chaotic situation going on. With three or four beers....he'd just sit there staring at the wall and not react much to anything you said.

Did the Air Force realize this guy's issue? I think most of us did....but the leadership didn't ever see it as a reason to let the guy go. That was the general attitude in 1989. Could a guy survive in today's atmosphere in the Army or Air Force as mildly mentality retarded? Maybe...at least for the first four years. But after that point....they kinda expect some leadership to come out of you....and if you can't perform as a leader...they'd eventually let you go.

So....this is the sad part about this entire story. Americans really don't ask questions about who they vote for or why....and in the case of a bunch of folks in South Carolina.....just being a black guy on a ballot....might be enough to win an election.

Did Alvin get help or $10k to register as a senate candidate? Who knows? Who cares?

The public spoke, and this is basically over as far as I can see. The public didn't want to ask serious questions....so you just might have a terrible choice for your Democratic candidate. You might bring up voting in 2008 and suggest that few if any questions lead to folks voting a certain way then.

It's a story that will simply linger. If you start asking questions....you won't be happy with the answers. And if you just accept fate....you won't be happy. It's life....and you just gotta accept it.

Monday, 14 June 2010

The Kid and the Sailboat

Last week....this sixteen year old gal with the sailboat was the big story of the week. This kid (Abby Sunderland) became this lost teenage girl in the Indian Ocean....and a huge amount of effort was put into this search and rescue.

Eventually they found her, and folks began to ask stupid questions....like why a father would allow a kid to do something like this?

Well...today....the NY Post came out and said that her father is flat broke, and had engineered a reality show contract...."Adventures in Sunderland."

The father, Laurence Sunderland, is apparently a sailing instructor out in LA (California)....and pretty much waiting for this massive pay-off deal.

I sat and watched Fox News last night...and they kept looking at the timing of this event....when storms typically flair up in the Indian Ocean and South Pacific....and this was really the wrong time to engineer such a cruise. However, if they waited...she would turn 17 and thus make this a worthless effort.

I have a pretty disgusting view of this matter, if this is all true. You sit there and pep up some naive sixteen year old daughter...to bring a fortune upon the family's door step...and risk her life for the money? It doesn't make any sense.

If I was the daughter...and came back to figure this all out...I might just stop at the front door...and just walk away. You can't trust a father who puts you into harm's way...for money. It's that simple.

Our Bob


My brother will occasionally point out five-star news items from the local papers. These are typically not items carried in national newspapers or with the big-boy networks.

So there's this story from this week.

We have a local guy from just across the state line (in Tennessee)....who is mostly known for nothing much in the local area. He's 91 years old. If you asked anybody who knows him....he's just a friendly guy from the area....worked hard his entire life.....and a WW II vet.

There is another story about Bob Hamsley.....but it's 66 years ago.

You see Bob arrived on the shores of France....to combat the Nazis. Bob's a guy with a homegrown attitude....of doing what you can for folks.....and fixing wrongs.

On the sixth of August....1944....Bob came to arrive in Plelo, France. It's best to say anybody from Plelo....was living on borrowed time. Their names were written down to be terminated. It's the kind of situation that most of us today cannot imagine.

Bob was an officer in the Third Army....and controlled five armed tanks. He was supposed to save bridges and help the US forces advance.

When Bob arrived in Plelo....the Nazis had everyone kinda lined up and were in some preparation for an execution. In simple terms....machine guns were lined up and prepared to kill a mass group of people.

Bob rolled his tanks into the town and made probably enough noise to make the Nazis think dozens of American tanks were about to arrive. The Nazis retreated and left the town.

So, folks around Plelo were kinda in shock and awe at the mighty Americans and their "vast" fighting force. People lived....only because Bob and his crew weren't hesitant to face down any threat.

Here's the odd thing....they remembered Bob. They remembered his entire tank team. They went out and erected a statue of Bob. Then they named a couple of streets after Bob and the crew. Then they even named a athletic stadium after him.

Several decades passed between Bob's visit in 1944 and when he finally went back. It would appear that Bob never knew about alot of this 'attention' and name usage. He's been a couple of times over the past fifteen years and enjoys the attention now.

If you walked around Bob's neck of the woods....he kinda kept quiet and didn't make a big deal about his actions. I think he saw it as simply something that he was going to do that day, and little else.....a piece of destiny perhaps.

Other than an article and a couple of days in France to sip wine and enjoy the French countryside....that's about all that Bob's getting out of this deal. And you know....I think he's mostly happy and satisfied about this moment. It's his little piece of a big deal.

The Sun Setting on Larry King

It was not truly a shocker...at least to me.

Today, CNN announced that Piers Morgan is set to replace Larry King in the fall. You probably know Piers....from the UK. He's the Britain's Got Talent judge and spent a number of years as a newspaper editor.

Larry? Well....Over the past three years...his rating have been falling and CNN is getting to a point of redesigning their entire evening lineup. I suspect Larry knew about this approaching replacement deal back in February and probably wasn't going to get excited about it.

The question here...does CNN recover from the Fox News supremacy now? Can Piers do something that brings viewers back?

I can see four percent of Fox New's edge sliding over to CNN...and maybe MSNBC's spiral going deeper. Maybe Piers can get a five percent gain over the current situation and that'd make CNN feel awful happy.

What happens with Larry? I'm guessing two or three books over the next three years...and that's about it.

For those who don't remember how it was on CNN before Larry...I do. CNN had a four-star gal who carried top notch interviews....and simply decided that she'd had enough. So they hired Larry...and simply hoped that his format would eventually catch on. The first year was not that great (not marginal, but not matching the previous host)....and then eventually...folks accepted Larry. It is an end to a era.

The Brits Have It

I read a fair amount of British newspapers...and a story popped out this morning. Over in the British Isles....there's this new trend.

The National Health Service (the British universal health care program)...is sponsoring a booklet to handout to pension folks...it's a sex manual for senior citizens.

It's a booklet thats given out as part of the national health program (figure around $16 that it would cost....if you had to actually pay for it)....detailing senior citizen benefits of sexual activity and how to go out and get some.

Naturally, it covers Viagra....which the health system will cover free of charge...and the need for safe sex.

And yes, it does cover the various acts that some folks may have forgotten about or missed during their earlier years. "Explicit" would probably be the word used by most folks who come upon the booklet.

Don't worry....our program will end up with booklets like this after 2013 as well....if you were wondering.

Drug Lotto

There's an interesting story over at the NY Times. Basically....lots of people have health issues today, and they are prescribed various drugs to save them. The basic problem is that folks are forgetful and simply skip taking their drug on schedule.

So some smart guys sat down and decided to create a method that works....but probably is unethical.

The heart of this new method? Financial incentives. The name of the game? Well in Philadelphia....it's called lotto. You can win $10 or $100 each day they take a certain prescribed drug. The company behind the drug....fronts the money from profits. How to make this work? Well....they use a computerized pillbox to record if they took the medicine and whether they won that day.

It would appear that the game is rigged so everyone wins something.....and the average might be around $300 every six months.

My view over games like this? It is unethical....paying people to take their drugs on time.

Will it spread? Yeah....I'm willing to bet within five years that it'll be in most states and pharmacy operations will even make it more interesting with $1000 per win.....maybe even a car once a year for some lucky "player".

Richer Than Rich But Cursed

For most folks, it's big news. For Aghans.....it's five-star once-in-a-lifetime news. There's a minimum of $1 trillion in mineral deposits sitting there in Afghanistan.

Iron, copper, cobalt, gold, niobium and lithium (the stuff they use for batteries).

The Pentagon, along with some really smart folks....have spent four years analyzing data and going over the whole country. They indicate these assets are spread over the whole country.

So what happens now? I'm guessing thirty different international mining companies are likely sending guys in to discuss matters. But you need one key element in this deal.....a safe atmosphere from which to work. The Taliban has to be pushed out and the country made safe.

Corruption from this mineral situation? Yeah....you can count on this....with warlords and local governors deeply involved in this mess.

What happens in twenty years? It will eventually turn safe enough to mine. The money will flow into the country.....and I think it'll turn into another Nigeria....where citizens rarely see any changes other than better roads and airports. This is the sad part about the discovery....it ought to bring the country together and stabilize things for the next two centuries.....but it won't.

The Problem with Insomnia

There's an interesting comment about a medical research project over at the British Independent today.

The discovery? Insomnia creates more potential for paranoid thinking.

I wasn't really surprised by this report.

The doctor in charge of this effort.....Dr Daniel Freeman.....surveyed over 8,000 people and reached this conclusion. Basically....if you sleep well....you don't think that people are deliberately trying to harm you. If you have insomnia....you might have serious issues.

So, now you start to look around your inner circle and worry about those folks who complain about bad sleep or no sleep.

We used to be a simple society. You got up....did a full days work....came home.....and slept. Your stress level stayed about the same. You didn't have paranoid issues flair up. Today? Well....we are noticing these little things more and more.

Amongst Fellow Gentlemen

Today....we had a South Carolina politician who came out to suggest that the Democratic winner of Senate primary...Alvin Greene....may be intellectually incapable of participating in the general election race.

I read through some of the pieces written on the story. State Representative Todd Rutherford decided that he had to go out and personally interview Alvin....just to make things right. This discussion led onto a long indepth conversation. By the end....Todd came to say that Alvin wasn't "bright".

Then Todd rattled off this comment...."About two questions into a conversation with him, it would become apparent that he is not probably fit to answer the questions befitting a Senate candidate."

To be kinda honest here....there are forty Senators sitting in Washington now....who are not capable of answering questions. I'll even be more honest...it's pretty much split up the middle...between both Democrats and Republicans.

Noted any great speeches by West Virginia's Robert Byrd over the past five years? Or even the last decade?

How about a competent speech by New Jersey's Frank Lautenberg?

How about believability in anything that Lindsey Graham of South Carolina says? After about three interviews....you question just about everything this guy says.

I think Alvin might do just fine....considering that alot of fine gentlemen in DC are crazy, incompetent, or just insane.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

BP

The economic dimwitted nature of politicians amazes me at times. This week....several senators and representatives came out and said that BP's dividend pool....needs to be shut down and utilized for the Gulf disaster. The President came out and suggested the same thing.

Typically....dividends are never used for screw-up of a company. A company will take the necessary funds out of its structure and pay. The dividend for the next quarter or two might be affected....sometimes by a vast amount and sometimes by a minor amount. The key here is that you as a company pay out of the big pot and keep moving forward.

If the government is successful in this dividend concept....then why bother owning stock because you can't depend on the dividend?

Why are the big-wig's acting this way? Well....I'm guessing most have no vision on economics or how businesses really work...so they rely on special interest groups or lobbyists to get them smart. In this case...the experts are pleading a case that goes against business ethics and common history.

What will happen to BP? This morning....the British government hinted pretty strongly that the dividend won't be detached and used as some folks have suggested. When a court has assessed the fine...then the company will pay. I suspect that there is a limit to what a court might asses....and that the final amount will be less than the experts think it should be. Life will go on for BP.