Monday, 30 August 2010

The New Trend

In Friday's edition of the Wall Street Journal...there's this article and commentary: "We Held Him Behind So He Could Get Ahead". It's an interesting twist on American society.

Folks got used to this 'red-shirt' idea in college. You'd drop back a grade, an entire year, and then extend out to make yourself and your football career look better.

Well....some folks have finally grasped the idea of holding back Johnny Junior in high school....say the 10th grade. You show a fair amount of talent at football....so dad decides at the end of the tenth grade....to send you to a private academy for one year....still in the tenth grade, and to repeat it. There's special football or basketball or baseball skills tossed at you while at the academy. Then you come back after a year at the academy....to enter the 11th grade at a regular school.

Suddenly, you are showing enormous talent and skill. Major universities are studying you for a scholarship by the end of the 11th grade. They don't care you stepped back a year. By high school graduation....suddenly, you seem to show a great deal of talent.

I read this commentary and just shook my head. You'd drag your kid back a year....just to enhance his football skills? It doesn't make sense.

So, we've basically got commercial football now a behavior episode into the high school level.

My County

My home county made it into the news yesterday...Lauderdale, Bama.

As best as it can be described...the county had ran a health-care facility for decades...going back to the 1920s. This was a full-up hospital and all the locals used it for the lesser important stuff...from broken legs to tonsils being removed. If you had cancer or such...you always ended up going to Nashville (they had the best stuff).

Well...the county has come to realize that there is continuing debt and increasing cost implications from the new universal health care deal....so they wanted to dump this hospital from their management and make it a commercially run operation.

The county won't say how close they were to bankruptcy...but it was fairly close. So this deal was worked out to transfer the hospital over.

No one is rightly sure how this will turn out in the end. Prices will rise. Folks will question the use of the hospital but considering the fact that all hospitals are in the same mess...it may not matter. A name-change? I'd be guessing that something will occur within two years.

Bottom line? Whatever you imagined for health care in your future....you may have only grasped a quarter of the things which will eventually change and impact your life. It may be for the better, or the worse....but only time will tell.

The Blank Check City

"My administration is going to stand with you -- and fight alongside you -- until the job is done, until New Orleans is all the way back, all the way,"

-- President Obama


It's hard to imagine the statement and the endless task now. It may take another entire decade, maybe even two decades. It may take $1 billion, $5 billion, or even $20 billion.

New Orleans, up until Hurricane Katrina....was a town unlike any other in America. It survived off corruption. The cops, the town council, the mayor, the city departments, and even the education sector....all took money off the plate. They didn't care.

The city's entire purpose in life and industry....was tourism. Basically....you went to New Orleans to drink excessively and do things that you couldn't normally do in most towns in America.

So now, we owe New Orleans something that other towns would never get....a blank check.

It's funny over all the various hurricanes that came and went in the 70's, 80's, and 90's. Those towns and areas basically absorbed the situation and moved on. What you've got is a place that can't absorb anything....most folks just packed up and left....and now there's this blank check syndrome.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Cash-For-Something

There's an interesting site that I would recommend to read. Sarcastically done of course, there's this suggestion of taking our world famous "cash-for-clunkers" program and and use the concept for a "dollars-for-dumps" program.

To start with...folks in the past couple of months have become shocked over the current pricing scheme for used cars of the $1000 to $3000 value area. You used to be able to find a car lot in every town where...if you only had $1,200....you could go and actually buy yourself a car. Lots of folks needed that type of situation.

So today...with so many clunkers gone from the market....you can't find any $1,200 cars. In fact, you are beginning to see a very small market in existence.....and you have to start thinking about $4k cars instead.

Being from Bama, I can appreciate this type of sales situation. We are rich in small town carlots where you'd find a 10-year old car for $5k and it'd fit your pocket situation.

So our cash-for-clunkers program destroyed the market for $1k cars, and pretty much makes you have to find $3k to get a slightly better car.

This 'dollars-for-dumps' idea works in the same fashion. You get the President to come up with a trillion dollars....probably just sitting around anyway....and start buying cheap houses all over the country (especially in California)....and then you tear down the property.

We could even hire local unemployed folks to help tear down the homes.

So months would pass, and then you'd wake up one day to realize that home prices were rising five percent a year. And suddenly you couldn't find a $200k house anymore....you'd have to come up with $300k instead.

Then America would be saved from this terrible housing market crash that we are suffering through currently.

Yes, I realize that we'd have to send the President back to Norway for another Nobel Prize because this makes perfect economic sense to those guys......but we'd actually destroy enough houses to change the whole market.

Neat, huh?

I think these guys have a pretty good idea.

I was thinking along these same lines for the beef industry as well...."cash-for-beef"....and just have the government buy up 2 million head of cattle and just bury them in some nuclear site out west...and drive beef prices up to $40 a pound. Or this other idea of mine...."cash-for-beer"....and just have the government buy up all the beer distribution points in America....and drive beer up to $8 a bottle.

A Day in DC

I spent the morning at the Tea Party event...the Beck rally....at the Lincoln Memorial.

The METRO was a mess...already by 7:30. I entered at the Pentagon and there were over 250 folks in each car....way more than rush-hour. Most of us got off at the Cemetery and walked across the bridge.

By 9AM, I'd say there were already 120,000 folks there and at least 10,000 walking in every 10 minutes. Folks had already misjudged how much water to bring along (84 degrees)....and I could have stood there and sold 1,000 bottles of water easily.

Flags? There must have been at least 20,000 flags there.

Booze? None...not a single drop around.

Angry feelings? Nope.

My ten observations?

1. About half the folks were over 45 years old.

2. You didn't have alot of signs.

3. Everyone was extremely orderly.

4. Lots of cops around...as if they were expecting trouble...but they mostly just there watching.

5. I talked to a guy who'd taken the 4AM train from NY City down...from Brooklyn. By himself...he just wanted the experience.

6. Talked to another group....drove two days from Oklahoma and were parking at the Arlington Cemetery. The next car over from them...had Alaska plates.

7. When leaving toward the Washington monument around 1140, I could still see at least 15,000 more folks walking in from the nearby METEO station. They were late but they were still coming in.

8. My humble guess on the number there? I attended a Royals game years ago with 26,000 folks there. I could easily judge this crowd to be ten times that size....so I'm guessing in the range of 250,000 to 300,000 folks. The funny thing was that CBS was making a 87,000 guess...which was way off.

9. All of these folks were charged up and will be for weeks and months. They will likely pester their relatives, neighbors and friends....and this event likely translates into another three million votes in November...just my humble opinion.

10. Finally, it was amazing to note that the place wasn't being trashed. Everyone was putting garbage in the right places. Lots of rallys come and go....with a huge amount of trash left when they leave...but I walked a full circle and noted folks were trying hard to keep the place clean.

It was an unusual experience. I'm not into the Tea Party...although I believe they might have a huge impact on the November election. Anger? No...I didn't see any today...just alot of enthusiasm for something different.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

A Man's Honor

P. J. O'Rourke came out this week....after making a dash into Afghanistan with some comments and remarks. I appreciate his views. He's not a reporter. He's not an expert in anything. P. J. mostly just makes observations of what he sees along the way.

So he decided to get some preparation before this Afghanistan trip. He stopped off at a Afghan restaurant in Prag, Czech....to make this possible. He approached the guy who ran the place and he had this five-star question to lead off: “So what’s up with Afghanistan?”

The answer from the owner was refreshing: “Americans must understand that Afghanistan is a country of honor. The honor of an Afghan is in his gun, his land, and his women. You take a man’s honor if you take his gun, his land or his women.”

I paused over this comment for about three minutes. Then I came to view most Afghans as being like guys from Bama. They might be 100 years behind the times....but this honor thing probably holds true in Bama as well. I'd probably be willing to nominate P. J. for the Nobel Prize in Journalism....but he isn't a left-wing elitist dimwit, and he'd probably turn it down for a weekend in New Orleans anyway.

A Evangelicals Moment

There were headlines yesterday...."Evangelicals Question Beck's Christianity".

Over the past week, with this big Beck-event planned for DC today...the media has moved to create story after story. To sell the news, they've had to go around dig deep, so they found some Evangelicals. If they could have found cannibals, leftist gourmet cooks, Latinos who look like Popeye, or even some sober sailors....they probably would have used them instead.

To be a good reporter....you have to ask pointed questions so the interviewee is answering everything to fit your half-written article already. So you lead off with pointed questions, that get more pointed along the way.

The true compass-point of news today is that it's all about packing a story up into an item folks will read, and then you toss the title of the article up in the air with a magnetic variable. Just the title alone....has to grab the reader.....and make him run to the article.

For ninety-nine folks out of a hundred....the necessity of Beck being or not being a Christian doesn't really matter. Some folks have never watched Beck....mostly because they don't have cable. For some other folks, once you get around to the Mormon label.....they'd mostly categorize them as cult folks anyway.

So then you come to Evangelicals. If I went to 100 Bama folks.....and mentioned this....they'd mostly scratch their head because they can't think of any Evangelical churches in their local area. They ramble on about the Methodist, the Church of Christ folks, the Baptist, the Seventh-Day crowd, and maybe even the rattlesnake folks. You'd kinda remind them of this massive label which all those churches fall under. Then, they'd mostly just look at you and ask why you need to toss all these churches into one bucket? You'd pause here.....and realize that this kinda makes things more difficult to understand, and it's best to get back to NCAA football, shotguns, and Pabst Blue Ribbon as discussion topics.

I'm thinking this "Evangelicals Question Beck's Christianity" article didn't get much traction. I'm hoping this doesn't make the reporter fret or worry about his future....there's always a need for more NCAA football news, you know.

Friday, 27 August 2010

The Blago Syndrome

There's an interesting story that appeared today over the former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich...Blago. Most of you remember the accusations, and the court case that finally ended last week. If you remember....one juror stopped almost all the charges except one. She agreed on one conviction....and basically, that ended the case.

Well....today, she started talking about the whole thing. Its a tremendous perception that she lays out.

This lone juror says that Blago is "too narcissistic" in his character, and then describes him as being absolutely too disorganized to ever engage in an actual crime.

I sat there....laughing as I read this. She is evidentially a very competent and educated gal. She knows personalities. And she figured Blago out completely. For Blago, this is an insult in a way...to suggest the narcissistic deal. But then she comes right back to say he's too disorganized to perform the crime they suggested.

I would have liked to have asked her what she thought of the President....but I'm guessing that she has a pretty fair opinion there too, and it's best we not hear that story.

In California

There's an interesting episode in California going on. The cops have this idea of planting a GPS device on your car to track you....if they think you're involved in a crime.....without a judge's stamp on the paperwork.

The court of California apparently says this is acceptable and legal....in their eyes. It might eventually get up to the Supreme Court (I'm thinking).

The nifty thing about this understanding....after I read the whole thing....is that you the common regular guy on the street could walk up to a cop car in California, and toss a GPS tracker under the rear of it....and likely be just as legal. The cops will disagree, and I'm thinking the court might say the same thing....but it's the same logic.

You can imagine forty cop cars around LA....being tracked by some gang....and they know every step of the law enforcement in town.

The Driver's License

My son spent around fifteen months on the road to getting his license. He stalled on starting this German program. Then he finally entered, and around $1300 had to be laid out to the town trainer dude for this two-part program.

The kid went on and on with the book part and always seemed to be a 12-wrong answer guy (you can only miss ten to get the license).

About four months ago....way past the traditional six months of training and passage....the trainer dude was suggesting that this kid wasn't going to ever wrap it up. So this computer software package was purchased to toss questions at you constantly (over 1,000 driver's questions). Four weeks ago, the kid finally passed the written test. Today, I got the call, and he passed the driver's practical test (a 20-minute drive around deal).

The kid is finally licensed to drive. Of course, then came the call if the insurance could be swiftly changed to cover him on the Audi A4 (my old car), and to start this $85 a month gas contribution.

For him, there's another 80-minutes of sleeping now...instead of getting up at 4:45AM each morning to catch the early bus to reach work by 7:15.

Now, if I could just get the kid married to some dominate gal who would whoop up on a World of Warcraft punk....I'd be set.

Dumbass

Sometimes, a guy really labels himself a dumbass, and you can't get over just how stupid he really is.

This week....this young gentlment who helped to impregnant Sarah Palin's teenage daughter....Levi Johnston....came out and basically said that "he wishes he hadn't apologized for telling lies about the former Alaska governor because he's never lied about anything."

I sat and read three versions of this deal. None of them make this kid look any better. Basically, he's saying he lied when he apologized, and he meant everything. Course, this took well over a year to come and admit this....and you have to wonder about the next step in this.

Could weeks or months pass, and then he apologizes for making this apology, and then go back to say he did mean the real apology to Sarah Palin? Then perhaps six months later, he'd apologize for apologizing, for the apology of the apology of the apology?

This kinda sounds like some drunk who shows up on your front porch at 2AM and he wants to apologize for something he did on the property twelve years ago, and you keep trying to explain to him that you only moved to this property six months ago.

The only hope for this kid Levi? A new reality show....called "I'm Sorry". I'd put it on the History Channel right after Ice-Road Truckers on Sunday night.

The Company

I worked for a company that shall remain nameless. I've actually worked for two companies in my life. The first was one of those Fortune 500 companies that rarely had comical event to occur. I could actually go almost an entire month before something within our division screwed up and it became something that you'd remember for years and years. The second company, which shall remain nameless, had weekly comical events that you'd laugh over, and really wonder how the government could ever accept this type of situation.

One of the top ten stories from my five years with this company....had to involve this guy "Larry". Larry was hired as the company got the contract with the Air Force. Larry was supposed to be an instructor retiring from the Army. Larry had vast experience.

Larry arrived, and by day three...the company realized that it would take two or three months to get his clearance fixed from his military days to the civilian structure. The organization couldn't use Larry and he needed a place to sit. So my boss offered up a seat in my room. I had an empty desk behind and everything seemed to fit.

Larry showed up on day one and actually stayed all day. On day two....Larry left around 2PM to attend to business. On day four, Larry left around 1PM to attend business. By day ten, Larry would leave by 10AM. By day twenty, Larry would show up for 30 minutes and then leave. There was no work to do because he wasn't in his organization to really perform real work.

So a month passes, then two, then three, then four, then five. Around this point, the military boss at the real job decided that they had to use Larry in some capacity and the contractor boss called over to my office. He needed Larry to come over and a project would be laid out. I explained that Larry had left, and he ended up calling Larry at home.

Larry went to his new office the next day.

Things had changed for Larry over this five month period. Larry had taken to drinking. In fact, Larry was drinking from 10AM on.

So in the new work atmosphere, Larry left for lunch and then took a fairly long lunch....and came back after consuming at least two German beers and a shot or two. He always brought back a soda, and I'm guessing he always tossed in two shots of something. Larry stayed happy throughout the afternoon, with his soda.

It took the new organization about two months to realize that Larry was mostly wasted from noon to mid-afternoon. They warned Larry. The contracting company warned Larry. The warning worked for a week, and then Larry went back to consuming beer and alcohol.

So, one morning....the contractor boss asked Larry to go over to the program office. They pulled out the paperwork, and fired Larry. Larry couldn't believe it. The bad part of this story is that the agreement with the company was that you had to successfully finish your contract....to get your personal gear shipped back to the US. Larry hadn't done more than ten months of that.....so they weren't going to pay for anything beyond airline tickets. Larry was screwed.

The funny thing here was that Larry had five months to just sit around and do nothing....yet get paid.

This was a typical event with this company.

Another famous episode was the 'Xerox' episode. There was a team of contractors working in an environment where hostile feelings were a daily matter. About half the guys were mostly goofing off and complaining. This became a daily event to gaze upon negative feelings within this operation.

One of the guys finally got sick of the mess and resigned. He'd found a better job. The company always hands out a survey to explain why you are leaving. Most folks don't put down anything. This guy wrote an entire page of complaints. He named names, events, and labeled various folks as incompetent. He wrote this in pen....at his desk. The day came to a close and he simply put this survey in a folder on top of the desk. Another contractor knew precisely what this guy was doing, and waited.

When the coast was clear....he Xeroxed the survey. Naturally, he handed around copies of this to the group of unhappy and incompetent folks. By the next day.....things were about twice as bad as they were before.

The company came to figure this out....and then came to find the guy who did the Xerox copy. They brought him in and read the ethics book to him.....then they fired him. Naturally, they offered him the survey form to fill out as well.

This firing didn't really fix much of anything but it did lay out the mighty power of that stupid ethics form that you signed as you came into the company.

The Meaning of Incumbent

When someone says the word "incumbent", it tends to mean that you are the higher placed person on the list. The value of this situation in reality....is zero.

Around mid-December of 2008, I was told that my contractor job in Germany would be made into a GS position....as would another dozen contractor positions within the organization. It made sense for the organization to switch to the government worker.

For me, this didn't really matter. My job was ending and I would have to rotate back to the US finally. I have a German work visa which prevented me from applying for my own job as a government position there in Germany. This was the end of this game for me.

When the term incumbent was mentioned around to the thirteen of us....I started laughing. It wouldn't really mean much of anything. Anybody could apply for our positions and even being the incumbent in this case....didn't mean very much. I made this comment to the other dozen folks....and I was seen as being pessimistic.

So days, weeks and months have passed. For the most part....no one has gotten their position as it switched over to GS. There's still two or three positions to be advertised, but this is mostly over. Across the rest of the base where one hundred odd positions were switched....the same thing is happening.

In early July, as my old job was advertised....I applied....mostly to see what would happen. I had five months left before my 365-day period outside of Germany ends....and I figured "what the hell". Early this week, the notice came back....I wasn't selected.

Yesterday, my associate here in the Pentagon who had applied for her old job at Ramstein as well....got the same notice.

Being an incumbent means virtually nothing....as proven in this situation.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Water-Fountain Chat

We learned today in the Pentagon that we are mere weeks away from having those new airport-style body-scanners. It'll start at one end, and eventually be at each entrance.

I naturally brought this up with several folks. Guys didn't really care....except that some carry a pocketknife and they expect trouble with the cops always wanting to see their pockets now.

The ladies? Man....they really didn't like this matter. Openly hostile would be the best description. I told them not to worry....the cops wouldn't see their tattoos. That didn't make anything better. Then I mentioned that if they did have any piercings....that would be a major matter because the metal would show up and the cops would ask questions. I hoped to get a comeback from the ladies I mentioned this to....but they wisely stayed quiet.

Cost on this? Yeah, it's not cheap. In terms of security, it's hard to value payback on this deal or if you get some cost value. The airport cops eventually bought on this as being practical....so maybe it's smart idea.

On my list of ten reasons not to work at the Pentagon....I'll probably put the body scanner on the list after a couple of weeks. The curious thing is that maintenance will eventually become an issue. With technology, you just can't be confident of something working like it was advertised. So is there a $60 an hour body-scanner repair guy named Joe out there? Hmmm....only time will tell.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Alan and the 310 Million


"We've reached a point now where it's like a milk cow with 310 million tits!"

Words spoken by Alan Simpson, who got put onto the President's panel of fixing the deficit. Alan, for those who don't remember...is a fair-minded Republican guy from out in the western portion of the US.

In using this comment of the milk cow comparison....he was basically describing social security. You can pause there and think about his words...it is a bit amusing and truthful.

It took just a couple of hours for folks, especially Democrats, to get all upset and angry. Then the old folks jumped on the wagon and said they were real upset about the 'tits' comment. Things by late this afternoon have reached maximum dairy turbo....with folks wanting Alan Simpson removed from the President's deficit commission.

I sat and pondered over this for a while. You have to realize...I'm from Bama and grew up on a farm. My uncle was a 4-star dairy farmer (I always thought rancher was more appropriate but he didn't see it that way). So I understand this dairy chatter business.

Frankly, I'm upset that dairy cows got unfairly tossed into a comparison with social security. It would have been ok if this was about elephants, dolphins or trailer trash ladies....but I personally think Alan crossed the fundamental dairy cow line on this matter. This is a fairly serious matter now.

What can we do? Well...we need hate-crime legislation to protect dairy cows from unfair comparisons. It needs to be spelled out. I believe that I can write a 1,600 page bill and prepare it for Representative Pelosi within three weeks. It would take a spell...but I'm prepared to write a bill that would be totally unreadable and support the protection of dairy cows throughout America.

As for social security? Well....don't worry...it wasn't designed to last a thousand years, and if you had real thoughts about investing...it'd be best to invest in cows (preferably beef and not those silly dairy cows).

(This was not sponsored by the Alabama Dairy Cow Association or the Alabama Beef Association)

Just a Conversation

I had a conversation this week with a cable guy in the Pentagon. He's about to purchase a house. It's a short-sell deal, meaning that the owner in bankrupt and the bank is real desperate to make this sell.

The deal? The house was worth $420-odd thousand a couple of years ago when the bankrupt owner bought it (she's a Air Force colonel). The housing market went down, and the house is today marketed at $255k roughly. The bank wanted that much anyway.

My associate viewed the house. He admits he has some things that need repair, and he started a bid of $235k. That didn't work. Eventually, he got up around $245k and wanted the bank to throw in a special loan deal. The bank has kinda agreed on $250k and a better loan deal. So they are working this out.

What puzzled me is the AF colonel who is admitting defeat and going to the bankrupt stage. It kills off your loan ability for ten years. You can't even imagine how banks will view this kind of stuff in the 2020 period. They might give you a loan after 2020 but then toss on a fair amount of punishment points to make the loan a miserable experience.

My associate will admit he's getting an exceptional deal, at a great price. It's a bad market. Folks who have the cash and can swing the deal....probably will come out ahead.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

My Day

It was one of those days at work. The Pentagon is always a world of entertainment.

I have this requirement that is floating via the military organization...for furniture for an area we designed and rebuilt. The folks running this episode got three quotes and all the drawings done by early May.

Step by step, this mess has moved barely an inch at a time. We had to fight to get permission to proceed just on the project. Then came the budget fight. Then came the final step now where the contractor team would award this to one of the three folks we have quotes with.

This entire process should have taken about six weeks. We are well into twelve weeks.

Well...today, the idiots at the contractor team have come back to say that the quotes we got....aren't any good now. They are past the 60-day point.

We are at this critical junction now of using the money or losing the money. Hours and days matter. If they force the issue, which I think they must....then it could take a week to get vendors to complete a fresh new quote. You can imagine the hostile nature of folks on our side.

Almost everyday, there's this episode to unfold and you look at the massive and complex way that things must work in the DOD circle...and then you wonder how things don't fall apart.

I had a refrigerator to fail three months ago. The boss actually agreed on funding a new refrigerator. So I arranged the selection process. There were three different groups in on the approval process: pro-ice crusher, anti-ice crusher, and the plain-old refrigerator with nothing fancy. I eventually sold everyone on this refrigerator, with a hidden ice maker (it's inside)...and so off we go to order this model.

Then I move to turn the old one in. The turn-in guys get all hyper....paperwork to attest the non-toxic nature is required. I eventually prove that's not really an issue.

Then when they come to remove it...there's this tube permanently attached to it (it used to make ice....long, long, long ago) from the wall, and no faucet. So nothing can move unless you can turn the water off.

So we search for an hour or so...no faucet under the sink. No faucet above the ceiling. Nothing.

So we call the building guys. They waste an hour and finally tell us that the faucet is actually sixty feet away in the men's bathroom. We stood there puzzled...what idiot would do something like this? The Pentagon maintenance guy couldn't answer.

Then we continue onto the next step of getting the new refrigerator into place. There's a totally different water hose required for this one compared to the old one....so we now go back through the requirements process to find one.

If I tried to run a business this way....the military way...it'd fail in a month. That's the sad thing about these episodes. Thank God all we have to do in life is fight wars and save folks in New Orleans after hurricanes.

The Swamp City Update


There was a decent news article from the Wall Street Journal over the weekend, going into detail over New Orleans and it's growing situation.

Up until Hurricane Katrina, the Latino population of New Orleans stood between two and three percent. It wasn't moving much.

After Hurricane Katrina, as alot of folks packed up and left the town completely....the Latinos suddenly found that day employment was great and there was a high demand for cheap labor. They stayed, and they built up their numbers. Today....they control around six to seven percent of the population. And some folks think the real Latino population (normally hidden for good reasons) is probably nearer to nine to ten percent.

Naturally, this growing population has some folks in New Orleans worried. It was a ethnically black city for the past one hundred years or more. The political power of the city was generally always leaning toward the black vote. So there's anxiety now over what might happen in ten years.

If the growth trend were to continue, I could easily imagine a twenty percent Latino population in the future. Imagine an election period when you as a candidate had to pick the right population to appease or upset....and you were guessing over who would stand by you in November.

This is a new New Orleans.....and it's not even Bush's fault.

Monday, 23 August 2010

New Teachers

It's an interesting government deal. They tossed around $50 million into a deal to involve 4,500 new teacher "recruits".

The deal is simple. Unlike 'real teachers' who go through a program designed over four years to produce a real teacher....this is a program where some pitiful school districts (Philly, Washington DC, Chicago, Miami, Detroit, New York City, Memphis, etc) all get a chance to go out and grab a fresh batch of college graduates to make into teachers real quick.

The neat thing (probably stupid in this case) is that they were all plain college kids with no ambition for being a teacher....so none of the classes over four years was in this area of study. Over this summer, they underwent what you'd describe as a boot-camp deal....roughly eight weeks....to get them ready for school instruction.

You can imagine Karl Jr, who finally got his degree in journalism and there's really no market for him....and here's this great deal for a teacher job....paying a minimum of $45k a year as a rookie teacher.

The teacher unions aren't happy because these punks aren't really trained or prepared. But you can't turn down a free deal.

Adding to this mess...you have to imagine taking a 22-year old kid and putting into a modern school. If it's the third grade....no problem. If this is the 8th grade in Boston? Well...you are pretty screwed as a 22-year old teacher and trying to take charge of a bunch of punks.

I'm guessing this is a failed program and folks will admit it in twelve months. One out of four teachers will quit in the first six months, and another one will quit by the end of the first year. Luckily, we only wasted around $50 million on this deal. But there's likely already another batch of 2011 teachers in the line already and another $50 million will be spent by then.

The Dominate Dude

Over the last day or two, I've read through a dozen news reports on the WikiLeaks dude, Julian Assange, and his charges in Sweden. As of today, the Swedish cops are still investigating the situation. The best they will say is that molestation charges still stand, but the rape charges are now tossed out.

I sat and read over Julian...who has had an interesting life. In her Australian youth, Julian's mom basically packed up and left on a motorcycle. She started a anti-establishment life. Julian, for the most part, was a self-taught kind of kid. He had around two dozen locations in his life and never really got into any real school system. Most folks will admit he was very bright by the time he was 18.

Julian's core fundamental personality? Anti-establishment. Most folks who know him today will say that his greatest pleasure is taking down big guys, big companies, and big countries. He enjoys the thrill of dominating them as an outsider.

I started looking back at the key comments spoken so far in Sweden over these molestation charges. Two women made the comments to the cops. No one will stand up and say what exactly Julian did or such. Then there's this funny comment he made after the accusations came up....he said that he always had consensual sex with his partners. He wanted everyone to know this up front.

So I sat and pondered over this. Julian is a dominant type character and he gets his thrills that way. He's been moving around from house to house in Sweden and I'm guessing both women were likely consensual when they started, but Julian is likely to be a bondage guy....very much into domination.

At some point in these consensual acts...which Julian proudly proclaims...he probably went to step two or three, and both of these women weren't prepared or happy with that move.

I'm also guessing that he didn't stop...and that led to both comparing their notes, and then talking to the cops.

The problem here for the women...if this was consensual....there probably can't be a rape charge. So the idea of molestation....now fits perfectly. Even if both women stand by their comments...the best that the government could hand out to Julian is probably six months of prison (twelve is max there). Count in good behavior, and he's there for four months of jail.

The pressure on the women now? Well...they are likely Swedish Pirate Party members and probably condemned as member's of the US effort. Most guys in the Pirate Party won't stand by either woman (my guess). As for Swedish women in the Pirate Party...this is going to cause turmoil as they discuss this and basically quit.

Julian? Well...he's one of those characters who won't admit he's done wrong under any circumstance. I'm pretty sure he's never said "I'm sorry". I'm fairly sure that he will blame the CIA for these terrible acts....even if the women come out on TV and explain how he went into a bondage act without their permission.

At the end of the day....this becomes a comedy of sorts. You've got some guy running around and never establishing a real home...just living off folks and taking advantage of them. He's forever playing a domination game...either in public or private life. He forever makes speeches on how he took down this giant or that terrible foe. And he needs to blame the CIA and the US for everything that goes wrong. I can almost see a Woody Allen movie out of this.

A New School

It'll be mentioned this week in the news....as LA county prepares for the new school season in a few weeks, and the newest school opens. The new school? The Robert F. Kennedy Community School.

Total cost of construction for the 4,100-odd student school? $578 million. Yeah, that comes to roughly $137k per kid.

We could say alot of things, but mostly, when you wonder about why the state is going bankrupt....it's stupid things like this. It looks more like a upscale Ivy League school than some high school.

As the dimwitted news guy from CNN reports this...just keep asking yourself how they ever paid for this and who was stupid enough to sign off on the paperwork?

Sunday, 22 August 2010

The Chinese Version

Since coming back to the US in January...I've come to admire several TV shows that I never saw in Germany. One of those shows...is The Office.

I've probably watched around forty episodes and have come to enjoy the management scenarios that they portray with the show. Almost every single one of them are realistic.

The curious thing about the office is that it's an original British series....that was packaged and sold to Germany, the US, Chile, France, Israel, and Canada.

This past week, I came to note from a entertainment site that China is now possibly purchasing the rights to the show.

I sat and pondered over this scene....some Chinese company with an incompetent boss in charge. There's his secretary who's likely running the entire company. There's the various division chiefs who all drive Fords, and privately grumble that it's a gas-guzzler. There's probably a communist party official who visits once a week and gets several "gifts". And there's probably six guys down at the loading dock who are secretly millionaires because they invested in a Pepsi franchise in Vietnam.

I can see this whole script in front of me already. I'm hoping they toss in sub-titles and then run the show off some cable channel.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

The Titular Figurehead

Rarely does the arrival of some new government agency chief really mean much. This week...the new intelligence chief (former General Clapper) arrived and started doing his walk around the various intelligence agencies. He had a presentation to say what's important with him and whats not.

He basically stood there and made this pledge....he refused to be a "titular figurehead or a hood ornament."

It's a expression that you end up admiring. Alot of these these guys come and go for government agencies. They serve as this hood ornament and they run up to congress to do a hanky-spanky speech to get the folks all pepped up for or against them.

It'd be nice to have a real chief who doesn't plan on being a hood ornament.

I thought over this a while, and to be honest....hood ornaments are dying out....in both aspects.

When was the last time that you actually bought a car that had an ornament? It doesn't happen anymore.

And for company or government chiefs? Well....everybody has expectations today. Just being a figurehead and waiting for magic to occur has almost disappeared in the workplace today.

The Fix For the Mosque

I pondered over this New York City mosque episode. The Democrats and Republicans are still blasting away, and more city residents are going negative over the whole mess each day.

I have come to realize the perfect answer. They want to build this huge twelve-odd story building for a mosque. They admit there's no plan yet. They admit they have no money. They admit alot of stuff that would lead you to wonder why these guys are still so serious about making this happen.

So why does it have to be twelve stories? I'm thinking to let them build it and limit them to two mere stories, period. You can cut this requirement for $100 million back and you just need a mere $15 million to probably buy the property and put up a simple two-story building.

The fact that no plan exists and they really don't know how to use the square footage makes this mostly a joke anyway.

And at the end of the day.....a mere two-story building isn't much to look at and I think most New Yorkers would never even notice the building. I'm guessing the Islam guys have another agenda here and need this extra tall building for some secret purpose, and they will decline my idea anyway.

PEPCO & Its Woes

This week, we had this funny meeting up here in the Maryland area with the utilities commission and PEPCO....the local electrical company.

Since January, PEPCO has had this ongoing mess with emergency outages. During the winter period, there two or three snow storms and this serious problem with power out a week in some cases.

Then as June, July and August roared along....these massive wind storms came up and triggered more outages. There was a pizza delivery service that admitted that they were out for six days, and the guys working there....made nothing for that period....so they were curious how'd they might pay for rent or such.

So folks around this region of Maryland who get PEPCO power, are plain upset. Some folks are looking at fifteen days of lost power for the year so far, and they are thinking about the yearly average of one day.

So the fury came left and right. Frankly, the commission is very upset.

But there's this other side of the situation. You see, up in Maryland, there are county and town rules about cutting back on trees. Its generally a topic that gets you into trouble if you suggest a dozen trees on some street need to be cut down. The owners will complain. The political leadership will complain. And in the end....most trees are never trimmed until storms rumble through.

If you see a problem brewing here, you might be right.

PEPCO sat and took all this negative talk but quietly, you could sense that there's this major problem of overgrowth. More outages? Yeah, I'm already betting on it.

Luckily, I live in Arlington and the city gets all strict on trimming the trees along streets. We don't have outages much (a grand total of eight hours since the day I arrived).

Cannery Row in Minnesota


Brett Favre agreed to come back for yet another season, for the Vikings.

For about fifty percent of the NFL viewers in America, there's a bit of disgust. They'd like to see Brett retired and finished. For Green Bay Packer fans, ninety percent of them would like to see Brett retired and finished. Then there's this small group of Packer folks who basically aren't Packer fans...they are Brett Favre fans, but they won't admit it in public.

For the Vikings, it's a business deal made in heaven. They get all the regular business and then they get these secret Packer fans who just go on the thrill of watching Brett Favre one more season.

So you've got this John Steinbeck-like script sitting there.

It was cold. Colder than Butte in a blizzard. The stands sat full and every eye was set upon the field. Some folks had traveled from Rockland and DePere to be there and witness the tireless effort of Mr Farve.

The beer almost froze as it hit your lips. There wasn't a logic to being there in such harsh conditions except you wanted to see the impossible. You had this vision of the Vikings pushed back to their one-yard line, with ninety-nine yards to go. You wanted to Brett gage the situation and then whisper a line toward the heavens.

In a blink of a eye, things changed. Brett stood back and tossed a 20-yard pass, and you felt this lump in your throat. Whatever had been done and lost in Green Bay....was alive again in a Vikings uniform.

Then Brett stood ready for the next advance, and another twenty-yard pass. There was a tear forming on your eye but it was mostly half-frozen, and you were trying to rub it off so you could see clearly.

Then Brett stood ready for another advance, and tossed a long thirty-yard pass. Seconds remained now in the game. You felt like God had sent Brett to the Vikings for a reason....to give them what the Packers were forbidden from having. You swigged down another gulp of your beer and munched on your home-made cheese that Grandma had made.

Finally, with just eight seconds left....you sat and watched Brett toss the final long one. This lump appeared in your throat and you felt this heavenly-sent air of warmth around you. The pass was taken and in a split second, the Vikings scored. It was a precious moment. The Packers could have had it, but it wasn't meant for them. And so the Vikings were blessed.
Steinbeck could have written the moment, but the truth is that ten thousand folks are now obsessed over Favre being back. And that's enough to make a difference in the camp of the Minnesota Vikings.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Stories Without Sense

I noted four stories today that really lacked any sense.

First, there's the escaped Arizona convict (there were three that escaped, and as of today...all are now caught). This third guy was on the run for two weeks roughly. What you came to learn....was that his 'help' in this episode....was a first cousin. In fact....she also had this romantic thing for him and they were pretty "close" (in Bama language....closer than close). The news media hasn't spoken much about this angle to the story....but I kept pondering over this. She's now got a minimum of ten years in prison....maybe more. And this was all about love and your cousin?

Second, another poll came out today to get people chatting. Six out of ten folks....now oppose the war. Yeah, that's pretty hefty odds. A poll that helps the President? Well....no.

Third. Representative Maxine Waters.....on the hot-seat for ethics issues. She came up today to say that this was a very "complicated case". The media took this and tried their best to explain the complicated nature. I pondered over this for thirty seconds. You go and run for seat in the House of Representatives. You win. You own lots of stock in one certain company. That company has various issues in their survival. They call you up. At that point....the last thing on Earth (ethically) that you can do, is personally get involved and introduce the losers to government folks who might be able to help. If you didn't own their stock....it'd be ok. Otherwise, it's not. And yes, that's the "complicated nature" and Maxine and the media want you to know about.

Fourth. Cops came to Quincy, VA. They ended up arresting Dad, Mom, son #1, son #2 and the daughter. All for meth possession. The kids were all over eighteen years old. The daughter apparently had a kid...which the county took possession of. Yeah, that's probably a record. The reporter didn't hint this....but I was pondering the likelihood of all five getting a minimum of twelve months in the same jail (the daughter probably gets the least out of all five).

The Science Stuff


I caught this story off Fox News this morning and read up on it. Basically...a couple of smart science guys have found that regular old urine...could be converted in power. Before I got too far into this topic....I stopped and pondered how exactly they got this idea and if they were a bit drunk when they were discussing this at some college football party.

Basically....they have a prototype fuel cell to test urine power. It'd take both human and animal urine....and convert into electricity.

The boys kinda admit this is years away from anything "big". They are mostly working on grants to allow more research and to find the right formula for urine power.

I'm of the belief that when it finally goes commercial...you'd go out to Home Depot and buy this $1,200 trough, fuel cell and black box. You'd assemble in the garage because your wife wouldn't trust the thing being in the house. You'd run electrical cabling to the fridge and freezer...as your "test subjects" in this case.

Then you'd ask all the members of your family and a couple of neighbors to come over and pee in the garage. Beer would likely have to be offered at some point. Folks would do their best, and then the fuel cell would go into operation. It'd probably take twenty-four hours but it'd eventually pump up enough power to run the fridge and freezer.

You'd be all happy and then rush out each morning to the garage to pee some more. Eventually, you'd admit that there was a funny smell to the garage and your wife would suggest that it be removed.

Poll Jerky

For the past day or two...this "is the President a Muslim" episode has been going on. In a way, it's amusing and a reminder to us why polls are worthless. Around twenty percent of Americans think the President is Muslim. If you had asked how many believe in Bigfoot....it'd be at least twenty-five percent. If you asked how many believed that UFO's are real...it'd be at least thirty percent.

Then, you've got the other crowd who simply say that this is embarrassing and totally false. This is the media crowd who now has to go out and defend the president. This is viewed by some as a comical effort...like defending the NCAA college bowl process or defending the right of fourteen year old girls to marry guys in Mississippi.

The timing of this comes as such that it'll have to be discussed over these various Sunday talk shows....with folks rushing to find vast evidence of the President being a Christian and then reciting this evidence on national TV. Countering it will be some guy with a picture of the President bowing in some mini-effect to the King of Saudi Arabia.

Some folks will point out that the President has been to Pakistan in his youth, and met up with various Islamic religious figures during this visit. Some folks will point out his membership in a Christian church in Chicago for a number of years.

Some folks will even wake up to ask why the media portrayed the President as the guy who could talk to Muslims and bring down the anti-American hatred and stop the vast amount of Islamic terror occurring. Naturally, you'd bring up now....that the terror hasn't subsided much at all....and most Muslims don't appear to have much respect for the President as we edge toward the end of the second year of the administration.

I will offer up this observation. Around thirty years ago....the only folks who could whip up a subject like this with no real evidence....was your local barber or your bartender. You didn't have talk-radio or the internet. Your barber would suggest that LBJ was a leftist and you'd sit and pause over this idea for twenty minutes...eventually leave....and maybe three out of ten guys would think about this for a week or two. There was no national method to dump ideas like this onto.

We've come a long way. By next year....we might just have polls which can prove that folks who think the President is Islamic...also think aliens are real....and that the state New Mexico is also part of the country Mexico. Then we'd know that we've got big issues.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Legal Advice

Yesterday, a federal grand jury came out and indicted the mighty Boston Red Sox pitcher (now retired) Roger Clemens, for apparently lying to Congress about using steroids. So there's charges on obstruction of Congress, making false statements and perjury. Jail time is very possible.

I offer legal advice once in a while...while I will absolutely will profess not being a lawyer. After twenty-two years in the Air Force....I came to note three golden rules on legal stuff that are important to answer.

First, if a cop asks you something...generally respond with what you know unless it's harmful for you. Tell them about the neighbor, your boss, or even your cousin who is always doped up or high. In this case, the cop gets what he needs and moves on. If you act suspicious and refuse to detail information that has nothing to do with you....you automatically become a target.

Second, if called to a grand jury...appear and just plain state nothing. You don't have to answer a single question. You can act stupid or smart....but if this is about you....you'd best never admit nothing under oath. If they want to drag you into court...don't give them information that would help or information that would indicate a confession, or anything.

Third, if the cops come and demand you give a statement, or some congressman wants a statement in front of bunch of dimwitted political folks...don't volunteer to go. If they demand you....show up but don't say a word. Talk about the weather or the fine assembly of news folks....but don't volunteer to say anything. Because if you do....and anything is NOT true....you are screwed.

So that's my advice. And if you were a stupid baseball player on steroids...thinking an appearance before congress is not a big deal....that's plain stupid.

Doctor Laura

There came this bit of news yesterday....via the Larry King Show, which alot of us don't view much anymore....of Dr. Laura Schlessinger saying adios to radio at the end of this year.

There's a trigger to this deal...in that she used an inappropriate word (n-word) on the air. They was condemned by the big news media folks. The funny thing was that she was commenting how a bunch of black comedians could use the word but she couldn't, and then spoke the word several times.

It's a comical episode in a way.

Around seven years ago....on the way home, I'd listen to fifteen minutes of the show and mostly laugh over stupid problems that folks brought up. After about a year of listening to it....I stopped. I kinda felt sorry that folks were that screwed up and Doctor Laura basically settled their whole situation in three minutes flat.

I'm pretty sure I won't miss Doctor Laura....so this exit to me isn't a big deal. As for the n-word setting....she's actually proven that it's correct. Only black comedians are free to use it....and that's the end of the discussion.

The best Doctor Laura episode? Some guy called...from Bama....and got all up into his problem with his Catholic wife. This went on for about three minutes. At some point, between the accent and the direction of the problem....I began suspecting the whole thing was bogus. About sixty seconds later....it finally came out...totally bogus. Doctor Laura rattled off how upset she was and how immature this behavior was. She said that her business was very serious and this just wasn't right.

The neat thing now....is that radio has to fill that hour or two after Doctor Laura retires. So the race is on...we need a new doctor (other than that Phil-guy) to tell folks that they are plain stupid or they need to get right with something.

My suggestion is to find a doctor who has vast talents...like carburetor repair, fishing skills, septic tank replacement background, hay baler experience, an ex-wife from Spokane, had a drink or two in New Orleans, owns a Cub Cadet mower, done a visit or two to Reno, has some Methodist relatives, been on a tour of the Jack Daniels facility, voted Democrat at least once, knows four women by the name of Candy, can make fresh waffles, and can tell folks to dump Loretta or Bob in the middle of a call if he feels like it. And it'd be nice if he didn't have an opinion on the New York City mosque.

Just my humble opinion.

Churches and Taxes

I have an work associate who is a member of a religion and fairly dedicated to it. He's so enthusiast that he's willing to give the ten-percent tiding deal. For folks from Bama, that's a radical move and we'd really be hard pressed to cross that line. Tossing forty bucks in the plate is acceptable enough on Sunday, but to sign up for a ten-percent deal....then to stick with it....is fairly serious.

Adding to my associates dedication....is his wife who works as well....and gives her ten-percent. So it's a fair amount of money over the year for them to give.

Well....he's got this letter from the IRS folks, and they are questioning this mess, and hinting of a $10k tax bill. Naturally, they want proof from his records on donations. He's a bit worried.

I asked him....did the church maintain good records. Oh yes, he said they were very strict on keeping tax paperwork in line at the church. And his own personal records are perfect. I sat there and suggested that IRS is just poking around to find a mistake....but I doubt they will.

After that meeting, I thought about this.

A guy could start his own church out in his barn. He could ordain himself a minister of some radical free-thinking group. He could work forty hours a week and then donate his entire paycheck to his church. The church could then pay for his house, car payment, gasoline, cable TV, and food requirements. The church could decide (with the wife's permission as a deacon) to send the minister on a vacation to Hawaii once a year. The church could even guy him clothing, tooth paste, and Jacky D's whiskey.

All of this would be legal. The IRS would have a fit about it.....but our stupid tax rules allow this.

Why is the IRS poking around? They are pretty near the bottom of the bucket, and need the cash. They also are realizing the number of ministers driving BMWs, traveling on private jets, and buying houses for their ministers. The law is in the favor of the religious groups....not the IRS.

It's a stupid situation....religion has become this tax joke. And we merely accept it.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Best Country in the World?


Newsweek tried to be dynamic and creative this week. They had an article establishing their idea of the best country in the world. They established five magic ingreidents to make this possible, and then collected the statistics. The five items? Health, economic dynamism (the openness of a country's economy and the breadth of its corporate sector), education, political environment, and quality of life.

The winner? Finland. Where was the US? Number eleven.

I tried to imagine how exactly we got some of our low scores.....we weren't that great in health or education.

Then it hit me....the universal health plan hadn't kicked in yet.....so we couldn't get the twenty bonus points there to match up with Finland.

As for education? Well....by the time you add in the failed urban school environment throughout the entire US....it drags down all of the regular heartland schools in America to be rather low as well. If we'd merely picked out Texas or Utah...we'd likely have surged ahead. But you can't leave those poor kids from Washington DC, LA, or St Louis out of the national numbers.

Was it a fair scale? This is Newsweek, and frankly, if they can generate any chat or discussion over their articles, it's a major victory.

As for the Finns? They probably are wondering what the big discussion is over.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Predictions

About once a year, I'll go out and make my predictions for the future. Today, I'll take the full step and make twenty predictions for the next decade.

- I'll predict that post offices change to a 3-day a week delivery system within the next decade, and frankly...you won't even care.

- I'll predict that by 2022....in towns of less than 3,000....few if any towns will have a pharmacy or drug store. Drug purchases will be mostly by the internet and delivered via UPS or FEDEX.

- I'll predict that you are taxed via your state on your car mileage. As you roll in for your yearly car inspection....some guy will note the mileage and you will get a nice reminder a month later that you owe $400 for what you drove over the past year.

- I'll predict that Lady Gaga ends up marrying some New York Yankees player, then divorces him within six months to marry some freaky gal out in San Fransisco. She'll try her best to convince you that she's a modern day Marlyn Monroe.

- I'll predict that Newsweek no longer exist by 2022. Time will be around and run by radical Chinese leftists out of Hong Kong when they purchase the bankrupt magazine for $944.

- I'll predict that Senator John Kerry is asked to replace Hillary Clinton as chief of the State Department, and then has to endure an embarrassing episode over his discharge paperwork from the Navy. He eventually is approved and serves two years.

- I'll predict that some nine-year old kid takes his $400 birthday money from Grandma and opens an investment account, and then over two years has gains of twenty thousand dollars.

- I'll predict that Katie Couric is hired by MSNBC to replace Keith Olbermann. Viewership declines by four percent but in a really fortunate sense of luck.....Katie is locked into a terrific 3-year contract. Fox News sweeps in and hires Keith for his old salary and puts him on with O'Reilly and the two actually become good friends.....as Keith becomes a far right-wing guy to the liberal side of O'Reilly.

- I'll predict that a reality show on MTV is eventually developed on four farmers from Bama. The four end up as Hollywood legends and one ends up giving up farming and moving to Beverly Hills.

- I'll predict a highly popular lesbian vampire series out of Memphis will be developed with a Elvis look-a-like protecting the locals.

- I'll predict that some baseball player has implants done and is an official she-male by 2022.

- I'll predict that congress will consider a ban on bacon, and then instead tax the heck out of it.

- I'll predict the Universal Health Care program does start on schedule, and is deemed an enormous failure by 2016. At least four percent of the public will openly refuse to contribute and IRS undergoes a radical period with significant turnover as folks confront them openly and without any hesitation. An airline operating out of Miami will transport folks down to Havana for medical procedures when they can't get service via their local medical group.

- I'll predict that California does declare bankruptcy in order to receive enough funding to survive 2012. Most folks with pensions are then forced into a new scheme that cuts their pension by forty percent. Lawsuits entangle this mess and cause the entire government to freeze as strikes occur daily. By 2016, four percent of the state population have packed up and left the state, with tax revenue leaving the state unable to sustain much of anything other than pensions, fire protection and the police department. Most state universities will be declared private and independent in order to survive.

- 3-way marriages will be legal by 2017 in California. Cousin-to-cousin marriages will be legal in California by 2019. And marriages to imaginary people will be legal by 2022 in California.

- Marijuana will be legal in nine states by 2022. It'll be taxed and most folks won't notice much of a difference.

- Muslim Imams will freak out when they find that they are losing a quarter of their Islamic members in southern states each year by 2022. They will eventually declare the south to be a problem area and demand all members pack up and move to New York City.

- Some Chinese company will buy the reproduction rights to the British MG and reproduce the 1968-look entirely with a updated engine. It'll still be a death-trap but a huge seller.

- Congress will wake up before 2020 and realize whatever they wrote in the massive banking reform act of 2010....didn't really do much of anything....so they go back and wrote a 3,000 page new bill to fix everything, again.

- I'll predict that when immigration reform finally arrives.....over fourteen million Latinos register against 400,000 "others" (Russian, Thai, Chinese, etc). By 2022, it'll be determined that another immigration reform episode is required. Everyone will seem amazed that the previous immigration reform wasn't fixing the problem.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Steig and Lisbeth


Stieg Larsson isn't exactly a household name. In fact, if you found more than twenty folks in the state of Bama of who actually know Steig's accomplishments...it'd be an amazing thing.

Steig was this Swedish guy who got into science fiction back in the 1970s. Born in 1954, he was this guy who simply had a writing ability and kinda drifted toward science fiction.

By the end of the 70's, Steig was probably the most known Swedish science fiction writer in existence. Considering there were probably only twenty thousand hardcore enthusiasts in the country....this was something to build onto.

At some point, Steig got into radical groups....especially in analyzing and knowing the make-up of radical right and extreme racist groups. You could say that Steig eventually became the absolute expert on these groups.

Somewhere, along the last couple of years of his life and before dying of a heart attack in 2004....Steig got around to writing three murder mysteries. To be kinda honest....it was more for pleasure than anything else that he wrote these three. To be even more honest....Steig had absolutely no desire in ever selling the three books. So they became this ongoing effort of a manuscript.....which sat there until he died.

These three books then were taken, and put out for publishing. An amusing thing happened. These became 5-star wonders in terms of literature. They sold millions across Europe, the US and the rest of the world.

Steig never saw any of the profit or the appreciation from the three books.

This week, it was finally announced that a US production company will make The Girl with the Dragon Tatto. The Swedish version has been out for three years now. I recently saw it here in Arlington....in Swedish, with English sub-titles.

The Girl with the Dragon Tatto is a bit of a unusual movie. In fact, I have great doubts that any US production can outdo the Swedish version.

To introduce you to this story....it's a simple lost girl notion. Family meeting, teenage girl goes missing, uncle's favorite niece, and she's been missing for twenty years. The uncle wants to end this mystery, and needs a 60-Minutes type journalist to crack the case. The journalist is in serious trouble and about to be sent off for six months of prison. So the uncle wants to know if the journalist is capable of doing the job, and hires a detective company with one employee to establish the hiring requirements.

This is where the character Lisbeth Salander steps in, played by this Swedish Goddess Noomi Repace. Lisbeth is this weird geeky gal who'd likely chase any Bama guy away with just a simple stare. She has tattos and various things that we'd best not describe. She's capable of just about anything....and you sit and wonder if there is any limit to her personality.

I won't go into great detail about the movie....but it's safe to say that there are various murders to unfold and this journalist has only Lisbeth to carry the weight of the entire movie.

After watching the Swedish version....I'd say it's a pretty harsh movie for Bama folks to view, and there's a scene or two that you'd probably rather just skip or check out the theater bathroom when it comes up. Don't worry....you're know when to step out.

It's hard for me to imagine any American crew besting the Swedish crew, and I consider Noomi Repace to be a Goddess for just about every single Bama guy to fantasize about but never have.

And sitting there somewhere in heaven is Steig, who is likely smiling that so many folks find Lisbeth such an enchanting woman, and she was likely Steig's dream Goddess.

Katie

While it's not mentioned much in the big press....CBS has this thing that they are exploring. They'd like to just pay Katie Couric off in some fashion and let her go early. The time schedule that keeps getting mentioned is after the November elections. The funny thing is that they kept hinting that back in 2008....and it never happened.

The problem for CBS News is that it's locked in a unprofitable situation and Katie's salary is draining resources. It's Katie, the production crew, and then a number of guys around the world on a tight budget. Unlike the days of Dan....when they had six to ten big-name reporters and could spend time telling a story....it's mostly Katie telling a story back in the studio because they can't get big-name help.

Why didn't the 2008 episode occur where she was to be paid off and sent to 60 Minutes? Well....they kept looking at the salary and hiring someone at that rate....to only do 60 Minutes didn't make sense. I'm guessing they tried to get her into a new deal, and she just smiled and said no.

So if this finally happens at the end of this year....then what? Some folks hinted that NBC would welcome her back. I was thinking it'd be neat to have her and Matt together....maybe with baseball bats....on the Today Show. I'm pretty sure that won't happen though.

A evening NBC 60 Minutes-type show? Well.....I doubt that they could sustain the audience and the salary that she'd want. If CBS couldn't sustain their team....NBC won't do much better.

This past week.....there was a couple of suggestions that CNN might be interested. But it's hard to see them getting into a relationship because they are spiraling on profits currently, and just want good cheap help.

It's too bad that President doesn't need a new press spokesman.

So I'm guessing that Katie will refuse the CBS deal to take the lesser money to leave early. She'll hold onto the deal until the full contract runs out. Just my humble opinion.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Top Priority

Somewhere over at CBS News this week....someone finally woke up and actually did real analysis.

They surveyed the administration since day one, and came to realize that they've announced at least a dozen top priorities.

FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS: "...that's something that's going to be a top priority." (4/27/10)

ENERGY SECURITY: "And that's why my energy security plan has been one of the top priorities of my Administration since the day I took office." (4/28/10)

EDUCATION REFORM: "To train our workers for the jobs of tomorrow, we've made education reform a top priority in this Administration." (2/24/10)

STUDENT LOAN REFORM: "This is something that I've made a top priority." (2/1/10)

EXPORTS BY SMALL BUSINESSES: "This is going to be a top priority." (12/3/09)

HEALTH ASSISTANCE TO 9/11 FIRST RESPONDERS: "I'm not just talking the talk, we've been budgeting this as a top priority for this Administration." (2/3/10)

END HOMELESSNESS AMONG VETERANS: "I've also directed (Veterans Affairs) Secretary Shinseki to focus on a top priority: reducing homeless among veterans." (8/17/09)

HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS: "Our top priority is ensuring the public safety. That means appropriate sheltering in place or if necessary, getting as many people as possible out of harm's way prior to landfall." (5/29/09)

H1N1 FLU VACCINATIONS: "And throughout this process, my top priority has been the health and the safety of the American people." (5/1/09)

SUPPORT FOR MILITARY FAMILIES: "These military families are heroes too. And they are a top priority of Michelle and me. And they will always have our support." (5/30/09)

STRENTHENING TIES WITH CANADA AND MEXICO: "We're going to make this a top priority..." (10/16/09)

CONSUMER PROTECTION: "During these challenging times, the needs of American consumers are a top priority of my Administration." (2/11/09)

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION: "So this is going to be a top priority generally improving our environmental quality." (11/5/09)
On one side of the coin, the administration looks like it's got lots of things going on. On the other side of the coin, there's this question of congress looking like a 365-day Rocky Balboa fight operation....continually going to the mat and building frustration over each battle.

There are various elements of the public looking for some moment of relief when national news leads off with something that isn't related to Washington in their top three news items.

How many top priorities are yet to come? That'd be a curious thing. I'd even imagine another dozen by the end of 2011.

And the amusing thing to the top priority list complied by CBS? It never mentions jobs. Maybe they just accidentally missed it....maybe.

Getting Smart

I was waiting for this...an analysis of colleges and what their educational agenda is about. Sooner or later, I knew it would come.

So from the Washington Post today, the final analysis.

The analysis leads to this fasincating belief that actual real core subjects ought to be part of a degree process. The universal items noted? Composition, literature, foreign language at the intermediate level, U.S. government or history, economics, mathematics, and natural or physical science.

If this sounds amazing...it's perhaps that we've forgotten that these were all part of high school processes if you went back one hundred years ago.

So these smart guys started to compare the university system and found that a $7k a year tuition at a Texas college....was better than a $38k a year tuition at Harvard. Harvard only mandated two of the core items (composition and science).

This study is supposed to help parents and kids make better choices. I pondered over this and kinda doubt that this will occur.

I looked over the site mentioned in their article....and gazed at Bama colleges. It's an interesting thing. Most all gain a "B". They were mostly meeting the core requirements mentioned. The curious thing is that every single one of the sixteen Bama colleges evaluated....did not mandate US history.

Then the other shocker came out of this Bama group.....most of the graduation rates....were less than forty percent. This kinda means that Karl and Jimmy Joe got Dad to pay for a year or two of college, drunk a bit too much beer, partied a bit too much.....and then left. One probably works at the Pabst distributor, and the other is likely a drive-in theater employee today.

There's at least ten colleges in New York state which got a "F"....Cornell was amongst them.

Wheaton College in Illinois? It costs $26k a year on tuition, but got an "F". Other than a mandated science class....that was the full extent of their requirements on the core items.

I sat and pondered over this. I've read a fair amount over high school education from the 1870 to 1890 period. There were significant expectations that needed to be met before you were given your certificate.

Before the 1950s.....most US colleges had the same expectations. At some point, they cheapen their process....allowed management to "sell" education....and then turned themselves into a sports & partying atmosphere.

The site to look over your favorite college? Here.

So when it comes down to a real education....you just might be better in souther Mississippi, than at Harvard. And that says alot.

The Trunk Monkey & the Alien

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Working For CNN


Occasionally, if you work for a real organization...you get this email in the midst of the day that makes you want to just pack up your stuff and leave the building.

Sometime this week...the HR department of TBS sent out an email to their New York office (home for CNN & staff).

Apparently, the HR guys had finally done a test of the building. Apparently, it's got major problems with bed bugs.

I can only imagine the text of this...since it's not in open forum yet. The HR guys probably said they were really upset about this problem. They probably hired Manny's Bug Service to come over. They probably insist that things will improve. And I'm guessing that everyone is calling their doctor to get a test done on themselves, their house, their dog, and their family.

As for the CNN morale there? Well....things have spiraled a bit over the past five years and frankly, bed bugs might be the least of your worries. Meanwhile, if you do have an itch...you might want to see a doctor.

The "Roaring Twenties"

Yesterday, I ended up watching an hour of Glenn Beck. It's unusual that I'd sit for that long of a period, but they did an entire hour on Calvin Coolidge. I've had a fascination with the Coolidge era (the 1920s before the "Great Depression" came) for the last decade.

It's interesting how we form our basis of American history. I grew up with a fantastic method of phrase words, repeated over and over, and tests to emphasize the phrase words. Around the 11th grade, under the history lessons of old man Brown....we came to this period of America. It was a simple lesson.....America recovers from World War I.....runs through the "Roaring Twenties"....spends itself into a problem....the Depression arrives under Hoover....and then FDR comes to save America (with the TVA project being a discussed item always).

It was an interesting class. At some point...a kid in our group....naively asked how they spent themselves into a problem. Old man Brown sat there.....thumbing through the teacher's edition of the history book (graciously bought by the state of Bama)....and spent a good thirty seconds trying to quote the proper answer. Then he simply says (because no one anticipated this question) that 'they bought more than what they ever needed', and that answered that question.

I sat there and kinda pondered over this....they didn't have TV's....there was no air travel....and other than building a house, there's not much that would fit this answer.

Over the years, I ended up in American history classes with Louisiana Tech and University of Maryland. And this basically went in the same direction....with slightly more information. Of course, the added information emphasized the recovery period of America after the "Great Depression", and rarely ever said anything much to explain how we spent ourselves into the depression

About ten years ago, I picked up a book on economic history of the United States. Up until that point, I had no idea that recessions and depressions are an ongoing event in America. From 1776 on.....we have a significant recession or depression on a scale of about every six to ten years. The 'down-period'? Well....it typically last two years. There is an exception or two over two hundred years....but it's a regular thing.

I sat shocked. No one ever mentioned this in high school or college. In fact....if you watch the major networks......they will never mention this. Amusingly, Glenn Beck did yesterday.

The United States is one of those amazing places where free market has consequences. You can't defeat or outrun a recession. In a way, it's the radiator of our civilization and keeps us locked in reality. If you suffer once in a while.....you keep a better prospective on your wealth. The problem is that we never remember these recessions or depressions....other than the "Great Depression".

There are interesting aspects of this economic history business. During the Civil War and the next decade after it.....the southern economy was stalled and locked in a recession. The rest of the nation moves on but it's into the mid to late 1870s before folks start to find recovery and move on.

The Coolidge period? Well....it's true that the federal tax program started under Wilson consumed the public and started a downward trend. It's true that Coolidge eventually dumped the taxation rates to a minor part of society's contribution. It's absolutely true that the public had more money, and then spent it....triggering the "Roaring Twenties". And it's absolutely true that we came to face the cycle period at the end of the "Roaring Twenties" where recession had to occur. To be honest....it could have been any President....even FDR....and it wouldn't have mattered....the recession was going to occur anyway.

What historians hate to cover at this point is this recovery period. Recessions typically last two years. The recovery period for the US is almost an entire decade. As FDR programs started, there came the promises of this mythical recovery and how patience was required. So year after year....this stalled period of America went on. To be honest....had World War II not occurred....the stalled period would have likely lasted through 1945.

There's a curiosity that I have over the guys who write classroom books and the simplicity they offer in "Roaring Twenties", which is a testable item as each and every year rolls around.

We are missing something but unless you actually pick up a book or two....you might not realize it.

What We Ought to Be Thinking About

Today, the President came out and said that he wanted to get into this mosque deal built up in New York City and near the 9-11 site.

He could have just sat on the sidelines and kept quiet....but I'm guessing that just wasn't "right".

I paused and pondered over this mess. It was a local thing that should have stayed local, and now most everyone has an opinion....and it's most against the Muslim guys. So I thought about this and the characters who desperately want to help the poor Islamic guys, and think we actually should agree with this construction deal.

In fact....I'd like to engage and enlarge the footprint.

First, after we finish the New York City mosque.....I'd like to buy up property within two blocks of the White House and construct a six-story mosque there. This could be used by Muslim tourists or radicals who frequent the Washington DC area. It'd even be nice if the federal government could buy the site for them and just hand it freely over.

Second, we need to start on the other mosque which would be a block away from the capital building for the other massive group of Islamic folks in the DC area.

Third, on the other side of Mount Rushmore.....just outside of the National Park.....we need to start up another mosque for Dakota Muslims to hang out at. It also ought to be bought and paid for by the Feds. And if it bothers the Indians....just let them sue.

Fourth, over near the entrance to Disneyland....there ought to be another mosque built so that tourist Muslims have a place to run into before they enter the park and offer up prayers. I'd prefer in this case that Disney pay for the property.

Fifth, over near Yankee Stadium....there ought to be another mosque built so that Yankee Islamic dudes have a place to conveniently stop in and worship at before attending Yankee-Red Sox games.

Sixth, over near the Golden Gate bridge....there ought to be another mosque built so that Islamic folks about to enter Oakland or San Fransisco would have a chance to pray for themselves (you probably need it anyway if you were Muslim and living in San Fransisco). Naturally, we'd use that old Army base near the bridge to make this happen.

Seventh, over near the Green Bay Packers stadium in Green Bay.....we need another mosque built so that Islamic folks have a chance to hang out before the big Sunday games.

Eighth, over near the main strip in Vegas......we need this mega-sized mother-of-all mosques to help tourist Islamic folks feel better after tossing their paychecks down the tubes or watching six husky Montana gals gaze at them in a drunken stupor.

Ninth, over in the midst of Death Valley.....as a poor Muslim guy drives his friends around the US....there needs to be a Muslim community center so that folks can hang out when they've reached maximum temperature sustainment in the Valley.

Tenth, and final.....as you traverse the twenty-six mile course to Key West....somehow....some way....we need to build a mosque half-way in the middle for Islamic guys to hang out when they've decided they need a moment to reflect.

Yes, the ninth-degree moment of pondering helps you come to a rational decision that you really don't need a building or structure or hut to carry out prayers. Once you reach this point.....the necessity of taking up property and building this in New York City probably doesn't matter. A guy can toss out a rug and pray on the Brooklyn Bridge....if he wanted to.

So, life goes on.

The Smell of Bolivia

Sometimes, you get the impression that we all live in a third-world country like Bolivia.

The recent episode (just days ago) of finding twenty six billion dollars laying around...to help teachers and state workers in America...actually had an attachment to it that most folks didn't realize until after it passed.

In order to fund the twenty six billion....they had to find cuts elsewhere....so they went carving into various budgets.

So DOD was raided...to help cover the teacher issue:

‘Aircraft Procurement, Army, 2008/2010’, $21,000,000;
‘Procurement of Weapons and Tracked Combat Vehicles, Army, 2008/2010’, $21,000,000;
‘Procurement of Ammunition, Army, 2008/2010’, $17,000,000;
‘Other Procurement, Army, 2008/2010’, $75,000,000;
‘Weapons Procurement, Navy, 2008/2010’, $26,000,000;
‘Other Procurement, Navy, 2008/2010’, $42,000,000;
‘Procurement, Marine Corps, 2008/2010’, $13,000,000;
‘Aircraft Procurement, Air Force, 2008/2010’, $102,000,000;
‘Missile Procurement, Air Force, 2008/2010’, $28,000,000;
‘Procurement of Ammunition, Air Force, 2008/2010’, $7,000,000;
‘Other Procurement, Air Force, 2008/2010’, $130,000,000;
‘Procurement, Defense-Wide, 2008/2010’, $33,000,000;
‘Research, Development, Test and Evaluation, Army, 2009/2010’, $76,000,000;
‘Research, Development, Test and Evaluation, Air Force, 2009/2010’, $164,000,000;
‘Research, Development, Test and Evaluation, Defense-Wide, 2009/2010’, $137,000,000;
‘Operation, Test and Evaluation, Defense, 2009/2010’, $1,000,000;
‘Operation and Maintenance, Army, 2010’, $154,000,000;
‘Operation and Maintenance, Navy, 2010’, $155,000,000;
‘Operation and Maintenance, Marine Corps, 2010’, $25,000,000;
‘Operation and Maintenance, Air Force, 2010’, $155,000,000;
‘Operation and Maintenance, Defense-Wide, 2010’, $126,000,000;
‘Operation and Maintenance, Army Reserve, 2010’, $12,000,000;
‘Operation and Maintenance, Navy Reserve, 2010’, $6,000,000;
‘Operation and Maintenance, Marine Corps Reserve, 2010’, $1,000,000;
‘Operation and Maintenance, Air Force Reserve, 2010’, $14,000,000;
‘Operation and Maintenance, Army National Guard, 2010’, $28,000,000; and
‘Operation and Maintenance, Air National Guard, 2010’, $27,000,000.

Nothing much was ever said about how they were cutting...until after the entire event. It would be curious how they cover this massive cut, but then you realize that they will all jump up to say that a special bill...probably after November...will be put up to find all the cut funds....and magically fix this with imaginary money.

Over the past year, with various reforms to the banking industry and the credit industry....we've had this interesting "truth in lending" attitude being tossed at us via new laws and regulations. We've supposedly fixed all the corrupt banking practices with the swift actions of a pen and a vote in congress.

So, maybe....just out of common sense and reason...could we possibly ask for truth in legislation?

And if we can't....that's ok...because the Senate and House of Representatives in Bolivia operate the same way and it's not a big deal....as long as we know we exist as a third world country.