Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Trouble You Don't Need

Sometimes, you can be drunk and just have a good time.  Sometimes, you can be drunk and do something that gets you into serious trouble.  And sometimes, you can be drunk and do something that people will remember for a long time.

So, there's this guy...Rick Ehlert....who is from California and owns a RV dealership.  Rick took his girlfriend with him on a cruise.

Rick got drunk in the midst of the cruise.  Rick showed up in the operating area of the ship where the controls for the anchor are located.  And then, Rick released the anchor in the midst of the voyage.  Down, the anchor went.

The management folks admit it "could have caused significant damage” on the MS Ryndam, but apparently didn't do much.  Course, by this time, the FBI was involved, and that's never a good thing.

So Rick will have some charges leveled at him, and I'd strongly fall on my sword and admit a major drinking problem and hope that the court buys this and demands treatment and some community service deal.  The stupid thing would be two or three months in some jail over an anchor episode, and the possibility that the other cons would figure this out and label you the "anchor-boy".

As for future excursions?  I know the airlines have a no-fly list of bad customers who they won't allow back on their aircraft.  I'm guessing the sailing community has the same type list.  So Rick is likely finished on future sailing episodes.  I'd suggest sticking with RV's in the future for trips.

Good Gossip

Amongst all the WikiLeaks material....there is this one State Department message about Libya's crazed leader...Gaddafi.....and his voluptuous Ukrainian nurse....Galyna Kolotnytska that accompanies him everywhere he goes.

It's an interesting note....and barely anything tied to the gossip except she's 37 years old and a Ukrainian gal who is a nurse.

I sat and pondered over this.  In most circles, it'd be an embarrassing thing....but I'm guessing everyone in the Middle East knew this already and half of the Turkish leaders were desperately trying to bring some hot lusty Ukrainian nurses over to their county.

This might be the start of a great trend for the Uktraine.....getting every single able-bodied girl up into nursing school and then signed off for a $80k a year job taking care of dopey old world leaders.

There's only one picture (copyrighted, so I can't show it) of this Galyna gal, and I kinda sat there a while....half-thinking that she's not a woman and might be some She-male gal.  Course, it's a side-photo, and maybe I'm just seeing things the right way.  Anyway, at least we all know the latest gossip on Gaddafi now and where the best lusty and voluptuous nurses can be found.  Thanks WikiLeaks.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Just Gotta Accept It

Today I kind of learned that my federal pay is froze for the next two years.  I was expecting a 1.4 percent raise in January.  (I stand corrected that this would affect 'steps', it apparently will have no affect on that....so at least this pay jump will still be in effect....for the time being).  So that's gone and I can settle back and just accept this deal "as is".

The curious thing....the government basically saved $2 billion....of the $298 billion that the President needs to find ways of achieving by the end of 2011.  Yeah, that's a fair distance to go....to find enough to make the public happy and get into an acceptable position with the Republican congress.

I'm guessing as each week goes by....he'll find another two or three billion.  By the middle of February, he might have thirty billion saved.  And then the ax boys will start on various programs and projects.  Social Security rises at the end of 2011?  No....I would not expect that.  Farm subsidies?  I'm expecting a ten percent cut by the fall.  College and educational programs?  I'd start thinking of ways to carve five to ten percent off my budget or face some idiot who just says trash human interest programs or pelican studies.

The curious thing is that we could have done this ten years ago but no one had any guts.  It took this mess to force reality into the situation.

So that new 54" LCD TV is off my list of new toys, and that $400 laser printer.  And I'll just settle for a case of Pabst and some beef jerky each week as luxury items.

Bringing Civilization to Pakistan

It is a curious bit of news....a Pakistani guy has come up and very upset over the loss of his son and brother because of a US-directed missile strike.  He wants $500 million in two weeks or he goes to court.  His aim in court?  CIA chief Leon Panetta, Pentagon chief Bill Gates and sine CIA station chief in Pakistan who was likely part of the plan.  Which court?  Currently Pakistan, but I'm guessing that a couple of US attorneys are likely thinking long and hard over handling this case in a US court.

It's an interesting scenario.  The US can't really take Ossama Bin Laden into court because no one will stand up and accept a case like this except the US....and no one would dare apprehend him except the US.

I'm guessing that the CIA and military guys would have a list of bad things these two guys did and they signed the strike notice.  A death warrant?  Well....we don't exactly operate with that kind of concept, and I doubt that any Senator would be willing to let anyone do this kind of deal except the President.

As for the round number of $500 million?  This would be debatable.  In Pakistani numbers....I doubt that you'd ever get more than $50k for a guy accidentally killed in Pakistan, and most of the time, it's likely to be $500 to the widow or parents involved in the case.  It'd be interesting to watch this play out.  The curious thing is that this sue-you-or-sue-the-other-fellow concept is new in Pakistan, and is a sign of civilization finally arriving on their front-door step.  They might be shocked at the door they opening.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Just Another Idiot

It's an interesting story over in Memphis...compliments of the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Basically....some guy is in a Memphis store on Friday morning (Black Friday)....real early in fact (around 5AM)....and some folks start to comment to him that his pants are too low.  Yes, the guy's underwear was in full and absolute view....which a number of women (older women, I'm guessing) were just plain disgusted with his appearance.  Somewhere in the mess of this view...an off-duty cop went up to the guy and told him to pull his pants up...which he apparently complied (at least at that moment).

But then guy comes up to the cashier later....and the pants back down showing all his underwear....and there things went into turbo mode.  A whole bunch of profanity was then used, and the off-duty cop was watching this entire mess proceed.  So the cops got called by the store.

The cops arrive, view the situation...and arrest the droopy-pants guy.  Charges?  Indecent exposure and disorderly conduct.  I'm guessing...if convicted in the local court....he could be looking at thirty to sixty days in the local county jail.

The thing about this...is that if you get convicted and show up in county jail...over droopey-pants....the other guys in the jail are going to laugh their ass off.  You can see this guy trying to explain in a serious manner how he got there, and they just won't buy this.

And your reputation around the neighborhood now?  I'm guessing that some women are now willing to call the cops anytime they see this joker on the street with his pants pulled low.

If you got to get into trouble....it's best really do something bad, and not for some stupid pair of pants pulled eight inches down past the point where they ought to be.  If you feel that way...why even bother wearing pants?

Local Things: Booze

There was an interesting story in the Washington Post on Virginia yesterday.  I sat and pondered over it a while.

For those of you not familiar with Virginia....we are very careful here about selling folks alcohol.  After the dry-county business....the Virginia method is probably the next worst step.

If you want beer or wine, in Virginia, you can stop and pick up some at any local grocery.  Even drug stores will sell you beer and wine.  The alcohol content is kinda limited in this case, but eighty percent (my number) of Virginia folks are happy with this deal.

But when you come to discuss real booze.... whiskey, rum, and vodka....that's a different story.  You've got to buy those from a state-run store.  When I first got here, and asked about the nearest store to my apartment....the response was two miles.  I couldn't really complain about this distance.

For a long time, I thought that most communities all had access to these state-run alcohol stores.  But after reading the Washington Post story....I came to realize a different situation in Virginia once you get past the metropolitan area.  There are actually counties out there in the western section of Virginia....where there's not a single state-run alcohol store in the whole county.  So you'd have to drive a minimum of thirty minutes...to find a store, and it might be a county away.

There are thirteen counties in Virginia without a single sales point for real booze.  They can buy beer at Larry's Grocery or wine at Jimmy's stop-and-shop, but if you want whiskey....it's a drive to the next county.

The governor has gotten into this discussion and wants to sell the whole management of this business over to a commercial operation....where the number of stores selling throughout the state might go from 332 stores to a thousand stores....thus bringing Jack Daniels to the poor folks in those thirteen counties without quick and easy access to alcohol.

Naturally, there are forces of evil at work....trying to tramp up the governor and his plan. The Baptist General Association of Virginia....with over 1,000 churches in the state are highly concerned about this, and really don't want booze shoved down their country's throat (beer and wine are acceptable apparently).

The best quote in this effort to deride the governor's agenda....came from a Baptist minister here in the metropolitan region of Virginia: "I'm just tired of burying alcoholics."  I sat and paused over this....thinking there must be a whole bunch of alcoholics in the Baptist Church business around here....if I were to take the literal meaning of his quote.

So the war is on.  The state would likely make a bit more on tax revenue....which they'd naturally always respond that it'll pay for schools (like bingo, casino gambling, and anything that is immoral), and that makes folks typically feel good.

I'm guessing that the effort will eventually happen and folks in thirteen counties will be happy to finally have a place where they can buy Jack Daniels right around the corner from their house.  That's probably one of the ten essential things we need in life....if you think about it long enough....and sip something with just a little bit of alcohol in it.

The Rest of the Story: Willie & The Pot

Originally, I read over the Willie Nelson arrest of this week, and just passed.  The news piece was that Willie Nelson was arrested once again, for having pot in his possession.  It's really not much of a story....Willie has been arrested before.  Willie has admitted that he considers pot not to be much of a worry in the vast world of things to worry about.  Willie will likely be arrested in the future....if anyone really cares.

But for some reason, I went back to the story and started digging what wasn't in the 8-line story splashed across the news.

Willie was on tour....by bus....and the bus had come along to this town out in Texas, by the name of Sierra Blanca.  I've driven a good bit in Texas and know of a lot of towns in Texas....but this name didn't mean much.....so I started looking into it.

It's a curious town.  It's just east of El Paso, and actually the county seat of Hudspeth county.  Population in 2000 Census was around 533, but curiously....it's reported in 2007 as being 510, and very likely decreasing in population every single month.

So it's the county seat but barely has 500 folks?  Yep.

It's a curious place, where a legend is born.  When NY City was finally told in the late 1980's that sewage dumping out on the high seas was morally and legally wrong....they spent a fair amount of time looking for a place to dump 250 tons of sewage per week.  Someone from Sierra Blanca raised their hand and had ranch property where they'd accept the sewage.  So it was taken by train-car all the way to this town and dumped for several years until folks finally got tired of the reputation involved.  They also started to talk about the spray being used to keep the smell down....you kinda had a choice....either permanently smelling sewage or permanently smelling lysol-like scents.

So, here's Willie and his bus....traveling down the road, and there's this roadblock set up by the US Border Patrol.  I sat and read this through several newspapers.....thinking it was a screw-up.  Why would the Border Patrol ask for anything more than your ID?  For the life of me....I'm left wondering why they jumped onto the search of the vehicle and did the big discovery of six ounces of Marijuana.

The impact now?  Well....if convicted, most folks think he might have to serve 180 days in the local county jail.  I'm thinking the last thing on Earth that the county sheriff now wants....is to have Willie Nelson at your jail and having a bunch of folks show up in town to question your number one guest.  I'm also thinking that Willie is bold enough at this age.....to just smile and suggest he'd like six months in the county jail, as long as they'd accept him carrying his guitar along as part of the deal.

Road blocks by the US Border Patrol....and you don't aim at getting any illegals but just searching folk's cars?  Is that what we've come down to?

The best quote though comes from the harmonica player who accompanies Willie on these roadtours.  You can always anticpate that a harmonica player will utter a brilliant comment.   In this case, the harmonica player uttered the answer after being asked about Willie's health after the event....."he said he feels great....he lost six ounces."

At the end of this whole episode, I came away with one new insight....we ought to have more harmonica players analyzing the news.

Another Nut Bites The Dust

From the news....we have a report of another dimwit Muslim US citizen who wanted to do something to help his cause.  In this case....the guy wanted to put a car-bomb at the annual Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon.  Yes, the Christmas tree ceremony.

This guy?  Mohamed Osman Mohamud.   Pretty nifty name.  I'm guessing he's always had this legendary "got-to-do-something-big" passion in his life.  He was 19....old enough to drive, own weapons, and pay taxes, but not old enough to drink.  I'm still waiting for the day when some guy names his son Mohamed Mohamed Mohamud.

The kid was a naturalized citizen....from Somalia.  From news accounts so far....some one finally got observant of the kid and his comments.  They referred the situation to the FBI.  They checked his email....and here's his interest in going off to Pakistan to get real training on his passion of harming Americans.  The FBI rigged up a fake situation....a fake bomb....and just let the kid attempt to carry out his dream-job.

The likely charges?  I'm guessing they will be severe enough to keep the kid in jail for around ten years.  I'd be curious if they could revoke his citizenship, and just haul him back to Somalia to practice his crafts there.  No one has said anything about that possibility....so we'll have to wait on that part.

My impression is that you really have to sink to a pretty low opinion of yourself and your society...to dream up a Christmas tree ceremony to kill folks.  The odd thing here....he'd finished up high school in 2009, and had gone into the second year of college over at OSU (aiming at an engineering degree).  There's a Islamic Center at the university and the kid had been around it to a small degree.  But then the local Imam says a pretty comical thing....that the kid was doing a number of things against the religion, and living a lifestyle against Islam.

By his comment....I'm thinking the Imam had noted some personal habits by this kid which made him pretty unreliable and immature.

So tonight, the folks in Oregon can rest assured....another nut off the streets of the state and another safe Christmas tree lighting ceremony.  The worst you'd typically have for worries is a dead car battery after you'd watched the ceremony in fairly cold weather in the evening hours.  I suspect everyone is starting to look over their shoulder, and trust has gone down a notch.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Local Shell Game

If you are from southeastern Virginia...around the Norfolk area...you know the big story of the area is this closure of US Joint Forces Command.  You've got around 5,000 folks from the local area who are making a fair income off the Command, and this announcement by Mr Gates over their closure is upsetting lots of the locals.  It also has upset the political folks around Virginia, and they want something in return from the Pentagon for this closure.....to make things "right".

So today....in the Washington Post, AFRICOM was discussed.  For those who aren't into this military game....the US military has a major force in Germany who has the job of forming plans and US military strategy over Africa.  Originally....they wanted the command in Africa, but that concept just won't sell to any country in Africa.  So they quietly sit in Stuttgart and make the Germans happy with a number of US military personnel and contractors sitting there...with various tickets to Africa sold via the Frankfurt airport on a weekly basis.

The chance of Norfolk acquiring AFRICOM?  Before the break-up of Joint Forces Command?  It was ten percent.  I'd say now that it's closer to seventy-five percent.  In fact, it's a curious thing that one of these things happens....and could pave the way for the other to occur.  You'd almost think that this was scripted for the closure and for the acquisition of AFRICOM to move to Norfolk.  Yes, almost scripted.

What happens now?  The plan was to start shutting down Forces Command was supposed to be done and handed over to the Pentagon by the end of 2010.  The actual closure date isn't known, but I'd be guessing by October of 2011.  I'm guessing that a team is visiting AFRICOM in the next four weeks and devising the way of shifting it over to Virginia by the end of 2011....and thus saving the jobs there.

A shell game?  Yes.  I'm guessing from the day that they made the decision to keep AFRICOM at Stuttgart...it was a shell game in the making.  Some people win, and some people lose.  

The Ultimate Strategy?

If you have fifteen minutes....you might wander over to Fox News and read the Iranian Stuxnet article. It's a fascinating piece on how a number of folks sat in a room, and brought down the Iranian nuclear program with a simple plot.

To put this in a simplistic story.  A couple of guys likely sat down and dreamed up this strategy.  Everything about the Iranian program involves technology.  The curious thing is that it's all bought and nothing made internally.  Added to this....is the curious problem that the Iranians are like first-year college students in grasping the entire program.  And then, you toss on a bunch of Mullahs and political players who have no grasp whatsoever of technology.

As for the virus?  It's the most magnificent virus ever created....it has only one system that it wants to bring harm to.  It keeps passing itself around, until it finally finds the right target....and then starts to create reactions with the nuclear equipment....while all the time telling its manipulators that everything is fine, until the very last second.

Bluntly....the entire Iranian nuclear program is stalled....for perhaps the entire next ten years.

First, there's the problem of eradicating the the virus.  Even when the guy finally stands up and swears that he's gotten rid of the virus on every computer in the nuclear complex....there's this one chance in a hundred that it has a fail-safe way of preserving itself via another disk somewhere in the complex and then re-introducing itself within a week.

Second, every single scientist within the Iranian program is under some threat.  They aren't working and they've got hundreds of security people asking stupid questions.  No one says nothing because they know nothing.....so that makes them twice as suspicious.  The longer they sit....the more anxity they have over this line of work, and maybe it's time to punch out and work for Taco Bell with less stress.

Third, every single piece of the hardware in the plant is now suspect.  Whatever results that the computer told it on operation....can't be relied upon.  So you've got to toss everything out the door and buy every single piece.

Fourth, since you know that someone has figured out your software package that runs the whole plant....you've got to dump that.

Fifth, with all these results....the safest route for a bunch of idiots running this program....is to dump the plant entirely, and bring in some Chinese company....with totally different software.

I'm kinda guessing that a couple of smart guys have this idea already and have already bought Chinese nuclear equipment and software....to develop Stuxnet II.  And in three years when they finally agree that the program is totally broke and bring in these Chinese guys.....it'll be a eighteen months later when they learn that the Chinese-equipment is just as corrupted.

Yes, the strategy guy who dreamed up plan "A", has likely already dreamed up plan "B".....and the Iranians are screwed.

Just An Observation

This week, after the caffein-in-a-beer drink was told to halt production....folks got nervous about the next drink-item coming under review....whipped cream with alcohol in it.

Whipped Lightning apparently has 18 percent alcohol, and you just top off a drink with it or add this to an item like cake or coffee.

So there's public outrage that you could create something like this.  I'm guessing it'll be forced out of production within a month.

Could you get drunk off a can of this?  I kinda thought about this, and would speculate that it may not have all the punch folks suggest.  I'd personally like to try a can before I pass judgement.

This does show how creative we've become.  At some point in the near future....I expect ketchup to be on the market with a alcohol added to it.  I doubt if it lasts long....before the fury hits the fan.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

If Only The Bears Could Read

This week...an important event occurred in Alaska.  187,000 sq miles of land were sat aside as a protected area....for polar bears.

To put this into prospective....the state of Bama is barely 130,000 sq miles....so it'd take 1.4 Bama's to equal this polar bear protected area.

The chief rule of this protected area?  Well, of course you can't hunt there...but after that rule....you can't drill for oil there either.  Naturally....you'd be wondering how close this is to the ANWR oil area area of North Alaska....it'd be safe to assume it's fairly close and likely intended as a buffer to prevent extended drilling outside of that area.

For several million years, the polars have existed without a protected area.  In fact, statistics show the polar bear population increasing over the past three decades.  So the actual purpose of the polar bear "reserve" is kind of amusing to ponder over.  How does Randy the polar bear know when he's entered or exited the reserve?  Well....he doesn't.

On any given day....there might be a 1,000 polar bears in this 187k sq mile area.  Tomorrow?  There might be 300.  Next week...2,500.  So the polar bears come and go.  The nifty thing is that a polar bear can walk one mile over the border of the protected area....and he's not protected.  So the value of this protected region guaranteed by the US government....is questionable.

Now, if only the polar bears knew all of this.

This Thanksgiving "Prayer"

Lord

We give thanks on this day for a mighty fine year in Washington.  Yes, the Pentagon did have a bunch of leaks and structural issues but we never did have any sewage issues.

We are thankful that we didn't get on any of those METRO escalators that went into turbo and cracked a couple of folks in the head with concussions, or ride any of the buses that were driven by drunk METRO drivers, or were onboard any of those METRO trains that collided with anything.

We are thankful that our one fairly unplanned trip over to Anacostia, DC didn't result in any stabbings, shootings, or robberies.

We are thankful that it only snowed around 44 inches in the DC region (when it's supposed to be five inches a year normally).

We are thankful that the TSA folks over at Regan International were only half as bad as we had anticipated when traveling through the airport.

We are thankful that Papa Johns does make mighty fine pizza and does deliver.

We are thankful for health and welfare of all the weird characters we work around in the Pentagon.

We are thankful for amazing stocks and dividends, along with a bunch of failed banks, a bunch of idiot politicians telling us how they will fix everything, and an economy that rivals Bolivia, Romania, and Greece combined.

We are thankful for Auburn being number one in NCAA football, and this Cam Newton kid might one day be part of the Minnesota Viking's success.  We are also thankful that this might actually be Brett Favre's last season (hopefully).

We are thankful that Lost finally ended, even though it was a crappy last season and the last hour made no sense whatsoever.

We are thankful that Lady Gaga didn't fade out as quickly as we'd predicted and might actually last two years instead of one.

We are thankful that the Chevrolet Volt is going to be bought in big numbers by the US government, along with it's $2k charger which has to be installed at each station by a seasoned professional electrician.

We are thankful that the Hadron Collider didn't destroy the world (at least not yet).

We are thankful that aliens didn't land on Earth as folks had anticipated, and that Elvis didn't suddenly appear, and that no Bigfoot was captured.

We are thankful that Katie Couric is still getting a regular paycheck while waiting for some amazing job to appear out of nowhere to ensure her continued legacy in the news world, and that MSNBC is still surviving today without any real audience numbers, and that Newsweek was able to be bought for an entire dollar when sold this year.

We are thankful that Doctor House actually got Cuddy, that Dog the Bounty Hunter continues to get the bad guys off the street, and that Ax Men on the History Channel has real lumberjacks (not those fake types).

We are thankful that Ford thrives, and Chrysler is sinking (with it's Fiat buddy attached).

We are thankful that the President's team dreamed up this slurpee-car-in-the-ditch-Republicans-being-guilty routine and told it so often.  Slurpee got a billion-dollar advertising story and sold more Slurpees.

We are thankful that Nancy Pelosi gets some time off from a hectic speaker schedule and concentrate on just regular California business now.  And that Harry Reid gets six more years to concentrate on being Harry Reid.  We are also thankful that we didn't get an authentic witch from Delaware as a Senator who might threaten Harry with various spells.

We are thankful that the bird-flu virus never occurred and the billions wasted on the vaccine was better wasted on that rather than rapid-rail from Memphis to St Louis or from Vegas to Dallas.

We are finally thankful that things just kinda worked out in general, and that 2011 might be a damn fine year.  Well....maybe.

The Real North Korean Story

To be kinda honest, after you sit and think long and hard about the last seventy-two hours of the North Korean game with South Korea....is that the North Koreans really don't want anything more than a one-time 'tap' against South Korea.

The long term strategy....for decades....has been to remind South Korea that North Korea still exists.  So there will be some little love tap in the middle of the night, and some assault out on the DMZ, and then some short blast of artillery.  The game is simple...just remind them you still exist.

The truth is that North Korea really can't afford to go to war.  Their containment and happiness with things staying the same is critical.  The last thing on Earth that they really need is South Korea over-acting on a episode that North Korea did for the performance of the media and their leadership.  If South Korea came back and blasted North Korea....then the whole game would change.  This is something that North Korea strategy guys really don't want.

So I'm guessing things will be awful quiet around North Korea for the next ten days.  Then things will settle.  And six months from now....when everyone thinks the mess is over....then another little 'bump' to remind folks that the powerful North Korean government still exists.  And then we repeat this entire process again.  Yes, it's a bold strategy....act like the village idiot for ten minutes and cool it for six months...repeat....and just remind everyone that the village needs an idiot.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Worst Day of the Year

We are but a few hours from this massive traffic episode occurring.  I've come to realize in DC that you can forecast when there's going to be a mess.

You can start with air travel here on Wednesday.  By 6AM, folks are going to be lined up at Ronald Reagan Airport.  This year, the line will start because of the TSA business and everyone demanding a pat-down.  They will even arrive three hours early just to establish their presence and make the issue known.  My guess is that three hours won't be enough, and that at least 1,000 folks today will miss their flights out of DC.

Yes, stress will become a major factor by lunch as folks stand in line and wait for the frisk.

Then you come to the traffic issue by noon.  Most government workers are likely leaving by lunch and won't be back.  They will run by the house and pick up some bags and then try to evacuate from the DC area....heading north, south, and west.  Just to travel a lousy twenty miles outside of DC....it may take two to three hours.

Even if you left the interstate and tried secondary roads...it won't matter.  Folks will have already started jumping off and doing that by 1PM to escape the city.

Train travel?  You can expect every train leaving the region...even METRO...to be crammed full by 1PM.

It's a miserable period for travel.  I mentioned this scenario to a guy I work with...who'd been here for years, and he kinda agreed.  He even suggested it's best to work the whole day and then just drive out tonight to where you desire.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Just Some Advice

Once in a while, the Washington Post will have an interesting story.  On today's cover...there's a guy in Florida who had been in search of new employment, and got all of this fantastic training "green" certificates.  He'd gone to the local community college and gotten into the big stimulus grant business....and learned a number "green" skills.  He even learned how to dismantle a house rather than demolish it.

So now, it's come time to get a job.  And he can't get on with any company or organization.

This "green" job business is an interesting piece of the White House's agenda over the past two years.  It's brought up and discussed in public forums.  It's tossed around as a bright spot in America's future.  It's probably one of the top ten things that often repeated by the President in speeches.

This guy....Laurance Anton....has gambled a good bit of his time, and the US government has tossed money onto this bet, that "green" jobs would appear.  Maybe in five years....maybe in ten years....it might happen.  But it's not happening now.

Are there any "green" jobs at all?  I'm guessing there are a couple hundred in California...especially around San Fransisco.  There might be hundreds in New York City.  In the whole state of Florida?  I'd bet on a hundred max.  And in Bama?  Maybe less than five.

It's a curious part of our political landscape.  It consumes speeches....yet has no real fulfilling nature.  There are probably a hundred political organizations in the US that has this theme running as part of their message.  They all have one or two examples of how things will be in the future.  But to be honest, if you ever challenged these folks....I suspect most would admit that "green" jobs are a decade away.  So when Johnny Junior asks you about career advice.....a Pepsi-driver or short-order cook at Catfish Basket still might rank ahead of "green" jobs...if you want to offer some advice.

The Fake in Afghanistan

It would make a great plot for a Eddie Murphy movie.

A bunch of western dimwits want a peace treaty between Taliban and Afghan leaders.  They want participation by all groups.  They put out the word.  Groups show up.  One of the most significant Taliban groups doesn't really want to show up but suddenly the insurgent leader (Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour) of this group shows up.  He is considered one of the top dogs in the Taliban movement across Afghanistan.

To be kind of honest....no one much at the table has ever met Mansour.

Everything is moving along at a fair pace and this Mansour fellow is singing praise of different things....and then arguing over some others.

Somewhere along the way....to keep Mansour at the table and talking really positive....the US and European buddies toss over some cash.  They won't admit how much....but I'd be guessing at least a quarter million (remember, this is a honest guess).

Well....the meeting went on for a pretty long period....talking, and talking, and talking, and talking.  Then, things kinda folded up at some point in a hurry....when everyone realized this Mansour guy....was a impostor.  All the players have gotten up from the table and just walked away because it was all a joke.  And this Mansour guy, the fake one, has come to disappear.

So thousands of hours were wasted, as various factions were trying to work out some deal for everyone to have a piece of Afghanistan.

Where'd the fake Mansour come from?  No one knows.  Where'd he go?  No one knows.  Did he get way more than a quarter million?  In my imagination, I can see a bunch of state department guys giving him a bag of money....maybe three million....just to stand around and smile.  

If I was the fake Mansour....I'd probably find a donkey and just ride my way out of Afghanistan....over to a airport in Pakistan, and fly off to some Pacific island retreat, and just sip whiskey sours by the beach all day.  And I'd probably gaze over at the personally autographed picture of President Obama that I asked for as part of the deal.....and wonder if this whole thing in Afghanistan was just a joke to start with.

Something to ponder.  It'd make a great movie, and I'd have to cast Eddie Murphy as the character.

Just a Reminder

I sat and watched the TSA "accept-it" video clip today.  It's a curious thing.  They wanted to bring up the shoe bomber and the underwear bomber.

I sat and pondered over this.  Both the shoe bomber and the underwear bomber got on their planes overseas....where the rules are kinda different and there are no full-body scanners or heavy frisk requirements.

Yes, all this hassle....done by your friendly TSA....over episodes that neither the body scanner or frisking would have been involved.

To this day....no one has gotten on board a flight within the borders of the US to cause a problem.

Oh, and when the TSA folks brag about all the "weapons" they've confiscated....ask them how many of these were toe-nail trimmers?  They'd rather not brag about that, but they confiscated hundreds....if not thousands....of these dangerous "weapons".

It's kinda like speed-traps in your local town....run by wannabe cops....and being told this is for your safety....then you pay the $55 fine for 9 miles over the speed limit.

Monday, 22 November 2010

TSA Pondering

It's just something to ponder upon as you travel by air this week.  The fine decided upon by TSA for folks who get upset by the x-ray treatment or the hands-on-your-butt examination....is $11,000.

I sat and pondered on this....why exactly a nice round number like $11,000?

Usually if you check fines in your local town....it's like $49.99 or $62.50 or some odd number like that.  Plus you also have to wonder why $11k was the sufficient amount and not $22k?  Who gets the money?  The TSA folks or the US government?  If you refuse to pay....do they come out and seize your car or do they keep you in the county jail for thirty days?

Just some questions I have.

One or The Other

The Newsweek crew is known for doing as little homework as possible...to produce their journalism.  So this week....the cover came into question.  The symbol here is supposed to show the President trying to do all things at once.

The problem is...if you go and talk to a Hindu guy....the symbology of the arms and legs....equal Shiva...who in the Hindu world....is the destroyer of all things, including the Earth.

But to add to the legend of the Hindus.....Shiva is suppose to destroy the Earth....in order to recreate it in universal order.

So you are left with two suggestions in the image....that it was just poor understanding of the symbol or that the President is supposed to destroy civilization in order that a more orderly and civilized Earth comes about.

Kinda interesting....if you think about it.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Just Numbers

A report today by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration indicates that one in five Americans....45 million folks....have a mental illness of some type, and around 11 million of those folks has a serious mental illness (pretty much on the borderline of being nuts by Bama standards).

There are alot of ways of looking at this.

It means that potentially....one in three Americans who voted in 2008's Presidential election for McCain or Obama....were likely mentally ill when they voted.

It means that the combined population of Mississippi, Bama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Georgia, and Tennessee are likely mentally ill when compared against the rest of the nation.

It means that on any given day you walk into Wal-Mart....at least twenty percent of the folks there....are mentally ill.

It means that of the three dozen folks you see on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC from 5PM to midnight....that at least six of them are likely mentality ill (statistically anyway).

It means as you sit at the bar stool tonight at the state line....at least eight folks in the building are mentality ill.

It means as you walk into church on Sunday....at least twelve folks are mentality ill.

It means as you visit Aunt Lucy, Uncle Karl, and meet up with all the folks at the family reunion....that three of them are potentially mentality ill.

It means on Sunday as you watch Auburn play some loser of a team....at least four players on the field are likely to be mentality ill.

It means in the Senate, that twenty of the boys are potentially mentality ill, and likely vote in a manner that makes them appear to be Democrats when they are really Republicans.

The positive side of these numbers?  By 2013, we've got ObamaCare, and all of these folks can have free mental health treatment, until they refuse the drugs....and then they lapse into some fit where they want to show you their new machete.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

How to Defeat TSA & their Pat-Down

For several days....this TSA thing has been discussed.  Some folks are taking this cop-frisk act as being pretty serious.

You basically have only two choices when you go via a flight these days.  You go through the x-ray blaster...which is now being questioned by folks as possibly dangerous (not yet proven).   Or you allow a pretty hard frisk to occur on your body.

Being from Bama....I sat and pondered over this a while and finally came to a observation.  The Reno 911 crowd (guys) were always famous for walking around in short-short shorts...and some skimpy man-shirt.....and looking like a guy off the street of San Fransisco.  My suggestion...is for guys to start showing up at airports and let the TSA guy go for the frisking....and make sure you leave your underwear at home so he gets a real good feel of something.

It'd help if you had a fair amount of sweat built up and this musky smell as well.  And I'd suggest that you moan just a little when the TSA guy runs his hands over your leg.  After a week or two.....a bunch of the TSA guys would start to quit the service and go back to UPS & FEDEX.  The idea of feeling up some guy's skimpy shorts just won't sit well.

We could do this for a couple of weeks and this whole mess with frisking would just stop.  I realize I might look like an idiot in skimpy short-short shorts.....but it might be worth the effort.

As for women?  I had this other idea...hula skirts....whorish-looking...like some gal from New Orleans or Memphis.  No underwear of course, and it'd scare up these female TSA folks in a hurry.  I'd also recommend a musky smell if possible.

If I sound anti-TSA....well.....I probably am.  These are wannabe cops who basically see themselves as saving America.  They believe in everything they say....and look like idiots.  In the beginning, I was like most folks....I wanted to believe they were the solution to the problem.  But instead, they've become part of a bigger problem.

Just a moment of pondering from a Bama guy.

There's Talk

There is talk now that the Wizard of Oz will be remade.  For me....if you had to pick ten movies that are absolute classics....this would be one of the ten.

It's hard to imagine anyone remaking this and how it would be any different or better.  It's also hard to imagine who would play in this. There are probably eighty stars who've heard the rumor and now running up to toss their hat into the ring.

Dorthy?  Lynsey Lohan?  Brittney Spears?

The Tin Man?  Johnny Depp?

The Lion?  Kevin James?

The Straw Man?  Kevin Costner?

The Witch?  Nancy Pelosi?

The Wizard?  Christopher Walken?

Frankly, I don't have much enthusiasm for a project like this because the movie is already a classic.  Very few of these attempts ever succeed (count the most recent remake of King Kong as a major success).

Best to Just Grit Your Teeth

Finally, the smoke cleared today, and Representative Pelosi will remain as head of the Democratic Representatives in Congress.  The vote?  Heath Shuler put up a bit of a fight and the final tally was Nancy with 150 votes and Heath with 43 votes.

I think this was a great victory for the Democrats.  The image of Nancy will continue on and folks will not have to force themselves to recognize anything new for the Democratic party.

Heath mostly picked up what was left from the southern Democrats and it was their last chance to try for some recovery in 2012.  Currently....with this team....if you were a southern Democrat still surviving....you can pretty much count on your seat being vacated to a Republican challenger in twenty-four months.

This game really shifts down to even the lower levels where you were just a state-house Democrat in Mississippi or Tennessee....and now you know you have to find some vastly different image by summer of 2012 to survive.

In a way, it reminds you of a NCAA football team who has scrapped by with a 2-10 season and the coach proudly announces he's got an extension for another year.  Everyone on the team would like a change but frankly, the university just isn't buying that argument.

NPR & Its Funding

NPR says that it's official funding from the US government is around three percent.  They almost say with pride, but then they also say that they couldn't possibly survive without it.  So they need the US government to continue to sponsor that simple three percent.

I sat there and pondered over this.  The senate will try to discuss this briefly and cut in this lame duck session.  I doubt that the votes exist....so they will wait until January when the Republican-controlled house will bring up the defunding.  Via various methods...by October of 2011....my guess is that they will find ways to cut at least half that three percent, and the President and Senate will have to accept that.

There are two questions here.  Is NPR being honest that it's only three percent?  My guess?  No.  I think the NPR management crew actually believes most of their own propaganda and aren't really grasping of the fifty various ways of hiding money as it flows into NPR (yeah, a dozen Soros foundations likely sit in the wings and sponsor thirty percent of the funding is my guess).  If this were more likely to be twenty percent, it'd really change the management scheme in a drastic way.

So if NPR lost the funding...what next?  If it were a lousy three percent as they claim...they could cut a couple of bills....let go of five of their big "stars" and somehow survive.  Add a foundation or two, and they could continue on.  

I suspect the budget team for NPR is sitting there in a locked room and trying to figure this way of explaining things the right way.  The three-percent story works but how long can they survive and who will they lean on to provide the rest?

Twenty years ago....the state of California would have stood up and said they would take care of their entire budget of NPR.  Today, they are broke.

Companies?  I suspect that most have pushed the plate back and don't want to engage further.

Foundations?  With so much money sliding around for political agendas....this might be the only way to survive....being a all-foundation-run organization.  It's comical to think of this being possible in this age....but there's no plan B left to execute anymore.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Off in Trinidad & Tobago

This is what we know.

At a Trinidad and Tobago high school....a bunch of female students....mostly all high school gals....got into a very mysterious situation....falling onto the ground....rolling around....then blabbering for a while in some strange and distant language (unknown to the T & T crowd).

Naturally, things like this don't happen in Trinidad and Tobago.  Folks say this all started when the young ladies came up and complained of nausea and headaches.

At the peak of this mess....while up on the second floor....two of the young ladies then tried to toss themselves off the rail and some folks had to grab ahold of them to prevent an of stupidity.

At this point....teachers grabbed ahold of the ladies and dragged them to some central hall area....where a couple launched into some semi-conscious situation.  One of the young gentlemen observing all of this then told reporters later that the girls were damn strong and had some bruises appearing on them.  One guy then reported he had communicated with the "devil" in one girl.  He asked the "devil" what he wanted of the girls and the response from the girl in a "devil-voice" was that he wanted to send the girls to the toilet and just leave them alone.

Course, as you'd expect....Catholic priests then got called and dragged out every ounce of holy water that they had and tossed as much on the girls...then tossed in a bunch of prayers in Latin which nobody really understood but they were satisfied.  Adding to this mess of course....folks now say that the school was built on top of a old burial site, although almost all of the neighbors around the school don't know nothing about it being a grave site.

I sat and paused over this.  We don't have this kinda thing in Bama much.  The fact that it involved mostly all young ladies also kinda made you question if they didn't all have that "time-of-the-month" thing going on and a bunch of guys just interpreted this "devil" thing in the wrong fashion, and the reason for the toilet might have been more obvious if they had asked the right question.

The odds of seventeen ladies all having that "time-of-the-month" thing at the same time? Well, statistically....that is a problem here.  I'm sure some engineer somewhere could crack the code on this and give a 44-page page on the odds of this happening.

I'm guessing this has freaked out the school management folks and maybe the union teachers a bit.  I'm guessing that some of the guys will be intimidated by the "devil" girls for a while....and then eventually ask one of them out and discover that things are ok except around that "time-of-the-month" period. All in all....if you did live on some small Caribbean Island and didn't have any excitement....this might have been a pretty interesting day.

The Woes of Mr. Rangel

For several months, I've watched the Representative Charles Rangel episode play out.

The screw-ups of Charles?  The three that stand out are: (1) Charley simply didn't declare $239,000 to $831,000 in assets on his disclosure forms as you walk in each year and pretend to be a congressman, (2) he continued to play out this game of raising money for a private center named after himself in New York City (even using his own letterhead from congress to accomplish this) which invited folks to donate and get favors via his actions in congress, and (3) he owned a property outside the US (in the Dominican Republic) which he rented out but never reported this income or the property to IRS.

The amusing thing is that Charles was head on the Ways and Means Committee.  This is the group of financially smart folks who write down the secret code on how to spend money via congress and the US government.

He went over and begged them as they proceeded into this ethics business that he just didn't want this to happen before the election.  The Democrats on the ethics board agreed and forced the issue. So Charles was saved....but this week....it came right back up and Charles said it wasn't the right time because he didn't have any lawyer support (he couldn't afford them anymore but he didn't want to admit that).  As he stood there in his $1k suit (I noted this and kinda laughed how sharp he looked when he admitted he was so broke), I felt he'd been in Congress long enough.  But the ethics board won't dismiss him.  That's the sad part.

He's not really ashamed of anything.  The folks in his district aren't ashamed.  They'd vote him right back in tomorrow.

I'm guessing the Republicans are already drawing up the 2012 election platform and will use his picture and charges as part of the effort to bring down the Democrats yet again.

After a while, you'd have to realize that this guy really isn't that sharp or he'd realize the impact of each one of these actions.  He's like some dimwit who tries to talk relatives out of a $1k loan to pay off some preacher for some funeral for a friend.....but never pays you back.

I'm guessing we are bound to get another two years of Charles....and will laugh over his continued trips to various resorts which end up getting paid by some fancy-pants guy out of New York City.  We'll hear about his new $1k suits looking sharp on ABC News.  We might even hear about him getting a new car with a heavily discounted dealer.  And Charles will just smile and let you know that he's really that stupid and doesn't care about how big a idiot he is.

No Sleeping, Please

Things in Roselle Park, New Jersey have taken an interesting turn.  They've come up and agreed that the homeless situation is finally starting to make folks a bit hostile.  So they've devised this rule that says you can't sleep in public.  If the cops find you sleeping anywhere in the public sector, except your house, your RV, and I would assume your vehicle....then they can fine you.

I sat and pondered over this.

Most folks are now tiring of this homeless situation in major cities.  I can spend an afternoon walking around DC and find sixty to one hundred folks camped out along Pennsylvania Avenue.  They hide out behind the bushes or just lay out on the grass.  The cops do virtually nothing.

Back in July, I walked around a dozen federal buildings in the District and was shocked over the camped out nature of the homeless crowd.  I suspect that the political folks in the District would like to dump these folks but fear the media frenzy that would occur if they showed any muscle.  The media tends to want people to help the homeless but there's never an endpoint.

I suspect this Jersey town will have legal cases pop up and folks will say it's ok to just sit there....so why is that different from sleeping?  Folks might wonder why a bunch of stupid laws got drafted after the Civil War that kinda fall into this same category, and it's because society got tired of accepting a mess.

So if you are driving up via Jersey and happen to be sitting there one afternoon....tired from shopping and just laying back on the bench....don't nod off or you might end up in jail.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

The Deer in the Headlight Look

Several financial and news organizations have come around in the past week to suggest (boldly) that we are about to walk into the next valley of economic messes.

This entire episode involving the quick and speedy mortgage moves to take defaulted homes....will have have massive issues. Banks are now slowing down their process and having to actually gaze over the paperwork and ensure every single form is correct.....adding days and increased costs on each default.

The previous screw-ups?  Well....this will likely end up in court and my personal guess is that folks could squeeze $50k out of a bank for acting too quickly.  The humor to this is that the homeowner generally defaulted anyway and he's just milking the system.  Some lawyer will write up the paperwork and take ten percent of the judgement for doing little to no work.  So on top of the defaulted house....the bank will have to find more cash to pay folks....thus making them closer to being closed themselves.

I don't think you could write a script like this for movie.  Guy punches button, computer spits out forty foreclosure forms....toss them into envelopes....and then has a 30-minute break before doing another forty.  In the old days....a guy might be lucky to run through five or six in an entire day, and he'd have an assistant typing up the "We are sorry"-letters.

I imagine that in three weeks....the real news players...NBC, ABC and CBS will finally come around to suggest banks are in serious trouble.  Some senators will appear on TV to agree.  And by January, we are in the next mess where $200-billion is needed to save banks in America again.

After a while, you'd almost think this was a WWE-wrestling match....good guys win then lose to the bad guys....good guys recover but beaten by the bad guys again....good guys get the beautiful and enchanting gal but the bad guys take her away.  Man, if the banking industry only had the Undertaker or Hulk Hogan on their side, then things would be different.

Just An Earmark or Two

The topic of earmarks came up today in DC.  The Republicans have made a big deal about this and are actually talking about halting this practice entirely.

What makes a earmark?  As folks put together a major bill on controlling shrimp fishermen in Bama...some guy from Ohio will come up and write a six line piece into the attachment and basically allot $88k of government money to some monkey research project in Dayton.  It has nothing to do with the shrimp fishermen or Bama....but it was an opportune time and passed by everyone.

One of my favorite earmark stories came up around three to four years ago in Pennsylvania.  The mayor of some small town was walking around the police station (they had around eight full-time cops and a couple of support folks) and noticed new computers everywhere.  He got furious and ran over to the city finance guy and got all huffy about this being wrong.

The city finance guy said he hadn't alloted any money for computer purchases.  So he went to the police clerk who handled their money and asked how they paid for this.  He suspected that they took "fines" and spent the money without approval.  The police clerk smiled and said no.....there was a earmark provided to them.

This episode began to unravel.  Some Pennsylvania congressman had tossed over around $50k for communications gear and IT equipment for the cops.  The money had gone straight to the cops, and not to the town finance clerk.  There was no transparency by the town into this.

The mayor got upset....as did the city council.  The police chief basically told them that this was their money....and not the money of town.  Adding to this....the cops had a private bank account that the city knew nothing about and this was where the money was originally deposited.

Eventually....after heated discussions....the money was turned over to the city clerk and everyone admitted that it could be used for the intended purposes but this was a mess waiting for a corrupt guy to misuse the money.

There are probably hundreds of police departments in America....getting earmarks and just smiling as they spend tens of thousands weekly on a wide array of "toys".  The truth is.....earmarks cloud up reality.  You feel like sneaking around and talking about shrimp fishermen in Bama is a good time to toss in $100k for some roadkill research project in Kansas?  What's the roadkill money have to do with the other bill?  Nothing.  It's a lousy way to run a government.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Observations of North Carolina

I spent four days on the road during the holiday weekend....driving down to Kitty Hawk and then transiting across the state of North Carolina to Bama.  I have five observations of North Carolina....of which I hadn't ever been to the state before and came back with a different view of.

First, I used to think Bama was the king of roadkill.  I'd like to replace that notion because I am squarely convinced that North Carolina has way more roadkill, even fresh roadkill....over Bama.  You can't drive more than a 1,000 feet in North Carolina this time of year without noticing this situation.

Second, any town in North Carolina that has a gas station and a post office....has a Dollar General store.  I knew the franchise was growing, but as you leave Kitty Hawk and travel across the state....you really start to notice these in every single town.

Third, if you've never been to Kitty Hawk....you really need to go.  There's a significant story with the Wright brothers and it's a fascinating area.  To kinda lay out the proper story....the Wright boys needed to experiment with their "toy" and this post office guy from Kitty Hawk sent off a letter detailing how there was an enormous amount of wind in the local area which he reckoned they'd need for lift.  The boys thought about the remote nature of the local area, and I suspect they wanted a place you could make some mistakes and it wouldn't be noticed by the press....so Kitty Hawk made perfect sense.

Fourth, you really can't find a harsh or difficult person from North Carolina.  Everywhere I stopped....I was impressed with southern hospitality.  In fact, it made me wonder why so many folks just don't move there.

Fifth and final.  If you should have the proper time...say way more than a day or two....then take the leisurely drive from Kitty Hawk to the Smokies.....and I think you'd be overwhelmed with the vast nature of the state.

A Bama Story

I finished my four-day expedition. There are several blogs I can write but this one was the one that bothered a bit.

Drug usage in the old Bama homeland has gone into turbo. Back in the last year or two....just a mile or two from my dad's farm....there were three young gentlemen (all in the 17-year old range). They decided on some morning to get a can of gas and go out to huff on it for a while....walking a far piece into the woods.

To be honest....this was a pretty deep and far-reaching woods.

So they huffed on the gas and passed out. When they came to....they huffed some more. Eventually day one ended and they remained there in the woods....mostly passed out or going for the next round.

By day two....relatives got worried and got the lone-ranger cop (the guy that the town was to eventually fire) to hunt for them. The boys continued coming to....huffing, and passing out again.

The search continued on into day three....when someone finally found the boys and took away their gas can. When they came to....they were then led out of the woods.

I would imagine that all three will likely be dead of something by their late twenties. On the positive side....at least Obama-care will be in effect by then and help with their pain (and cost) as their bodies finally give out.

It's a sad woeful tale....which I would have never imagined in the heartland ten years ago. Things have changed...sadly. And I don't think they will ever get much better.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

The Trouble with Approval Ratings

I've come to notice in the past month that folks are now starting to compare an approval rating which involves President Obama and ex-President Bush.

This is kinda like comparing Barry Bonds of baseball fame to Babe Ruth.  It tends to really miss a number of key points.

For President Bush....I'm pretty sure he likes the sudden growth of appreciation.  Folks are settling back down to grasp that he wasn't that bad and maybe he'd be compared in a better light than Jimmy Carter after a decade or so.  I realize this will infuriate Jimmy a bit, but I think he's gotten use to that treatment.

For President Obama....it's a bit of a negative slam.  He continually used the phrases to say he's out to fix all the broken things left by the old administration....and now folks aren't that negative.  So he's got to find a new phrase to use to explain things in the best light.

On the positive side....at least they aren't comparing Andrew Jackson's rating in the same chart.  That'd really take some explaining.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Just Part of the Job

Today, I was grabbed by my associate to go out onto network floor of our humble Pentagon basement abode. We are about forty feet below sea-level (at least I think that), and it was a serious emergency of sorts.

About a gallon of strange green liquid lay on the floor.  Yes, strange green liquid.  It was coming from the false ceiling and the air conditioning ducts.

We went through three sets of teams from the Pentagon building staff and none of them were sure of anything.  I finally called the toxic dude of the Pentagon and asked him to take a sample.  By tomorrow....I'll know the exact substance.

The problem of working in facility issues in the Pentagon....is that you have people who freak out over mold, mildew, bad air, cold air, hot air, and green liquids on the floor.  After living in Air Force barracks for a number of years....there isn't much of anything that shocks me about building issues.

What does make it curious is that you stand there for three minutes and someone will walk by and want to offer their opinion.  Over the course of thirty minutes.....you get eight different thoughts on strange green liquids.  "Pentagon ooze" typically runs at the higher levels of imagination....and some folks think this green liquid dates back to 1943.  One guy did offer the idea of it being an alien creature who'd died up on the 2nd floor (I didn't buy off on that).

I'm guessing that by tomorrow...I'll find out this was "Simple Green" cleaning solution, and someone dumped it on the floor above and it leaked through.  Case solved.....I'm hoping.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

I Was in the Darkness, and Found LIght

It's an interesting commentary by the CEO of NPR today....listeners of NPR, in her opinion....are a bit brighter than those who listen to "other" networks.

Naturally, she didn't want to say which networks.

Naturally, being from Bama....I paused and pondered over this commentary.  The premise here is that mostly intelligent folks listen to NPR...and thusly gain a bit more insight and understanding of topics via the wonderfully gifted journalists of NPR.   I would have preferred to hear her say which networks she was comparing against....but she'd probably prefer not to mention those.

To be kinda honest, I've been a listener of NPR over the years.  Curiously, I will admit that I came to listen to various comments and began to realize that NPR journalists often left pieces of stories out.  I originally felt it was accidental, but later came to realize that they were either not that gifted or they didn't want to tell an entire story.  So this triggered me to often dig deeper into a story and come to various conclusions that were different from the NPR-told story.

Did this make me brighter?  Yes.

I'll admit it....because of the inept journalism and behavior by the wannabe journalists at NPR....I actually became brighter and more intelligent.  Today, I would regard a great deal of my understanding of economics, politics, and geo-political insight....to come because NPR forced me to become brighter.

It's kinda like some guy coming around to sell you a house without a roof....and you finish up the rest of the job yourself.

So yes, I would give praise to NPR in its greatness.  Had they not gone to the extent of offering me just half-a-story....I would have never gone out and discovered a vast library of knowledge on global warming (or the lack of it).  I would have never gone out and grasped the significance of illegal aliens in the United States and their importance to our economy.  I would have never gone out and understood the housing and mortgage mess.

Ms Vivan Schiller....I wish to thank you as the chief of NPR....for helping me to become as intelligent as I am.  Without rich full reports....I was able to broaden my horizon and become what I am today.  Across this great nation.....every single day...hundreds of people are fulfilling their knowledge and intelligence requirements by going past the NPR standard and grasping what paid journalists cannot comprehend.  As a nation...we are richer and more intelligent...because of NPR's limited focus.

Hopefully, in the years and decades to come....we can count on NPR continuing this trend.  Yes....hopefully.  Otherwise....you could flip over to another network but let's not bring up that topic.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Joe Manchin, Republican?

Governor Joe Manchin of West Virginia won last Tuesday.  Most folks thought that things were kinda settled...until this afternoon.

The Republicans came calling to Joe.  They've offered him an actual head chair on an important committee, if he'd switch to the Republicans.  Right now....they are in the minority with 47 Republicans in the Senate.  Then they kinda mentioned that Joe Lieberman (independent) and Ben Nelson (Democrat of Nebraska) are also being courted.  It's an interesting deal.

Since you won't get much of a explaination on CNN or MSNBC....let me explain how this works.  Joe got elected to fill out the rest of Byrd's term (until 2012).....so he has to run again in 2012.

Joe didn't exactly win in a huge fashion....it was a fair amount, but you can imagine that Joe would prefer not to have to worry much or spend much in 2012.  Joe also had to act like a Republican in the election, and convince folks that he was mostly leaning to the right.

As a junior senator for the Democrats.....Joe wouldn't get offered any chair seats....so this offer from the Republicans is interesting.

So let's imagine Joe, Joe and Ben all Republicans, and sitting in a 50-50 Senate.  Every time an important vote came up.....VP Joe Biden would come from the White House to cast the 101st vote to settle the affair.

This 101st vote would be a serious issue to explain in 2012 as the President says that he tried to work with the Republicans, but it was actually the White House voting in every single serious moment.....against the Republicans.  The news media folks would have problems trying to explain every case where Joe Biden voted  down a Republican-effort in the house.  It'd all lead back to a White House vote in the Senate on every single occasion.

Yes, it is a pretty extreme bit of planning.  Will Joe take it?  I don't know.   Will Joe Lieberman accept his deal? Will Ben Nelson accept his deal?  Hard to say.  It could all come back to some comical moment where Joe Biden arrives in the Senate and then announces that he can't negotiate with anyone....and just cast a vote.

My Sunday Viewing

I sat this weekend and watched two political chat shows....who both got newly elected Repbulicans on the air and did their big intense interrogation over how to cut the budget.  In both cases....the media news wannabe tried his best to get absolute and precise areas where cuts in the budget to be made.  In both cases....the Republicans were able to put just enough on the table....to draw the "you won't cut entitlements, will you-scare".

I sat there and started laughing in each case.  It was extremely bad acting.....like Potsie on Happy Days or the Undertaker with WWE wrestling.  The news media dimwit looked like some 15-year old kid acting angry over how anyone could possibly cut the entitlements that every single American is entitled to.

About six months ago, I was watching a news documentary where 'dad' lost his $65k a year job, and he was barely going to pull in $900 a month on unemployment compensation.  'Mom' still had her $40k a year job as a clerk.  So the family held a meeting.  The families third car for the teenagers was put into the garage because there wasn't enough gas to run it.  Various cuts in the budget were made with each member of the five-member family voting on the necessary cuts.  By the end....they were paying for the necessary bills and surviving.  Had this been a bunch of congressmen....they would have pulled out a credit card and simply charged every single requirement on it, and kept going until the card was maxed out.  Eventually, bankruptcy would follow the congressmen.

I'm just about to the point on Sundays now to switch over to the Cartoon Network and give up on the political chat shows.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

My Neck of the Woods

Two items of interest which won't be in the national news.  Thus the life of a poor Bama guy living in DC.

First, we had a second escalator episode with the METRO folks.  The first one....if you remember....last weekend....involved a escalator which came to a halt going up and then started going down (the brakes failed).  Going at three times the normal speed....which caused a couple of folks to get wounded.

Well....a second escalator this week went into the exact same situation.  It wounded a couple of folks as it threw them off at the bottom as well.

The METRO folks kind of met in a hurry and declared that all 560-odd escalators across their mighty empire of Maryland, Virginia and DC need to be inspected immediately.  I'm guessing some lawyers are checking out the max they could get on escalator injuries and wounds.

Yesterday, I kind of noted about half the escalators that I came across....are broke and you just have to walk the 150 feet up the broke escalator.  The independent company hired to check out their practices (from a complaint several months ago)....came out this week and said that the METRO folks weren't obeying their own written regulations or performing maintenance like they were supposed to.

For a Bama guy....it's a rare thing to see escalators to fail and whip out to triple speed in reverse.....so I'm waiting for a chance to experience this myself.

Now, onto the second topic.  Yesterday, big article in the local Washington Post by some gal and her husband.  It's a woeful tale.  They'd found the perfect house to buy.  It had six acres of property here in the region (Maryland).  Had a pool.  They didn't talk of the price but I suspect it was in the $700k range with the amount of property involved.

These kindly folks went off to the mortgage company.  The couple were professionals and had a quarter of the down-payment in their hands.  I got the impression that both were making over $100k each....and one might have been making $150k, although they didn't want to spell out that part of the story.  The mortgage company?  They refused.

You see....this was a round house....not the typical regular square house.  Now I gazed at the house and it's kinda intersting.  It can't be more than 1500 square feet.  It's got a five-star deck, and the lawn area with landscaping looks mighty fine by Bama standards (although mowing on the hill might take the wind out of a fellow).

The mortgage company said if they defaulted....round houses just don't sell.  Statistically, I don't believe they can prove that point.....maybe I'm wrong....but I think I'm right on this.

So the couple went onto a second mortgage company, and they refused as well....same excuse.

The couple is a bit upset and they would really like to buy this dream house.....but I'm guessing that won't happen.

It's an interesting thing.  Here, there's probably still banks begging to lend out money for double-wide and triple-wide trailers, and even some fixer-upper houses.....even houseboats....but the idea of a round-house?  Nope....banks just won't lend for that.

I'm guessing the couple who own the round-house currently are weeping over this mess.  They own a house that can't be sold for at least a decade (until the bankers get dopey again).  The only solution?  Put four fake walls on the bottom of the structure and pretend it's a real square house.  Once the idiot banker signs the paperwork...remove the fake walls and go back to the round situation.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

The Woes of Keith

It is a curious thing.  Someone in MSNBC HR wrote up a rule.  It basically said...if you fell into some significant category, then you couldn't donate to a political candidate unless you ran to the boss and asked for permission.  Naturally, this meant that you had to admit your political feelings and convince the boss that this wouldn't hurt the company if it ever got out in public news.

So this week, Keith Olbermann was suspended (without pay) for a period of unknown length.  Most folks suspect he'll be gone for about a week, and return.  There are some suspecting that MSNBC has a reason now that they could terminate Keith, and it's time to reflect upon some change to rebuild and get back some better numbers.  The other side of this is that Keith makes a fair amount of money, and the incoming profits aren't enough to sustain his required salary....so it'd make sense to dump him.

How many journalists from ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News donate to political candidates? It would be a curious statistitc to know.  I'm guessing seventy-five percent of the folks who make over $200k a year do it.

There's a rule over at CNBC (the finance channel folks) that if you recommend a stock....you have to admit if you own the stock or not.  So you see a little graphic pop up on the screen and know right away that the guy is being honest while he's also pepping you to buy a stock.

I suspect it's time to make all TV journalists....including the Today Show crowd on NBC....to have a similar graphic.  A journalist ought to be independent.  But this graphic should require if he donated money in the past two years to candidate....even if it was the state agricultural commissioner or the county probate judge.  The odds of this happening?  It's a funny thing....if Fox News started the practice, then the other networks would eventually be forced into the corner and do the same thing.

I'm thinking that Keith Olbermann is sitting there on the back porch of the house....with a Pabst in his hand and wondering where he went wrong.  Here he gave the money to these guys who were losers....and he gets suspended from MSNBC?  It just doesn't make sense.  Then he thinks about the future.  Would he have to go and apply for work at Fox News?  Would Bill O'Reilly accept him?  Would he have to shake hands with Beck?  Would he have to do a positive spin segment with Karl Rove?  Life.....is so unfair.

Health Care

As a federal employee....the "open season" is upon me.  This is where you can swap or change your insurance packages... particularly health care.  I spent twenty minutes at work today....gazing over the numbers.  It's fascinating to see how every single offering....almost thirty different policies....have gone up a minimum of five percent in one year.  One of them....went up 55 percent (they did modify their package drastically and lessen the deductibles, so you wouldn't want to be too harsh on them).

My policy from the past nine months?  They went up around twelve percent.

How much did I use this year?  I visited the doctor once....paying my $10, and the policy covered $480 roughly (the doctor had tried to get them to pay $750).  You have to remember....this was for a 30-minute session for mostly freezing off skin tags.  It was something that a trained nurse could have done and a total waste for a real doctor to be wasting his time on....and charging that much money.  So the $8000 that they took from me and my government organization....kinda went into a black hole (as far as I was concerned).

I don't want to sound negative, but frankly, there's something corrupted about this whole mess....if you ask me.

Sitting in the doctor's waiting room for that one visit....in those 1966 dining room chairs which he offered for his customers....I came to this moment of pondering.  Somehow, this whole thing has become a commercialized mess.  What we need....is a Wal-Mart in every town....offering some Chinese guy named Wan who has twelve pills and a cheap view of medicine.  Yes, competition.

If every single one of these health insurance packages and medical units had to really compete....they'd all get to be fairly reasonable and cheap.  We already play this game with computers made in Mexico, Maytag washers made in Mexico, and spend vacations in some one-star retreat in Costa Rica.

I realize this Wan character and his twelve pills might be a hard episode to accept, but frankly....it's probably the best solution around.  The alternate plan?  2,700 pages of text written by a bunch of dimwits in Washington....that makes life a bit more complicated.  Face it....Wan is the answer.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Three Interesting Things

There were three things of a fascinating nature in today's news.

First, Representative Nancy Pelosi (who did win on Tuesday night in her district)....now says she wants to run for the leadership of the House minority in the upcoming year.  The logic here is interesting.  There are so many of the middle-of-the-road Democrats who lost....that the bulk of the guys left are what you'd consider fairly far-to-the-left Democrats (not all, but certainly the bulk).  Some folks are suggesting that she could easily win the leadership position with this type of make-up.

I sat and pondered over this.  In the south, we often envision these situation with wooden bridges.  If you had a guy come up and burn a bridge up.....you wouldn't expect that guy to show up the next day and want to help up the crew to rebuild the bridge.  He'd usually be two counties away and not want to show his face.  In this case, I would imagine the Republicans would readily agree to have Nancy as the leader of the House Democrats because 2012 isn't that far away and you can still get more anti-Democrat miles out of Nancy being in charge.

You can imagine Nancy on some political chat show every two weeks and continuing to be the voice of the Democrats.  The moderate Democrat guys, especially from the south....would be hostile about this image and shake their heads.  The guys from the news media will have to find questions that give Nancy a chance to show that she's a moderate although they will eventually admit that you can't squeeze more than an ounce of moderateness out of Nancy.

Second on my list of topics?  The Slurpee summit.  Through the entire campaign period....the President continued to use this speech subject of him being in a car that ran off the road....into a ditch....and the Republicans were merely standing by the road, with a Slurpee in their hands, and not helping to extract the car from the ditch.  The kindly folks over at Slurpee....want to have a Slurpee summitt....where Republicans would meet up with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and the President.

For Slurpee, this is a $20 million advertising episode, that comes free of charge.  They are already thinking of a vast ad campaign that could double the number of Slurpees consumed in America over the next twelve months.  Naturally, you can only buy a Slurpee at a 7-11 shop and that means profit for lots of small franchise owners.

This is a loaded episode for the President to do a Slurpee moment at the White House.  You can imagine the Republican group arrives, and the first thing they ask about....is if they could pull the President's car out of the ditch.  There will be this awkward moment where the President gives verbal clues that he's really angry over that offer.  Then one of the Republicans will ask if he preferred a "tea" and whip out a Lipton ice tea.  That would hint of a Tea Party Movement episode, and just make the President more angry.

My guess is that a summit will occur, but certainly not with Slurpee involvement.

My third topic?  Two articles appeared after the election....to suggest that some Democratic contenders for 2016....have actually started to review options for 2012.  The hint?  They might run against the President in the primary season.

A year ago....no one would have suggested a major primary run against the President in 2012.  Even now....it'd be a difficult path to make it but you have to consider this....it starts in Iowa.  This is the one state hit hard by economy.  The right moderate Democrat....running a mostly jobs-message, could pick up the state.  That win would trigger the Obama team to reformat his entire advertising campaign.  He'd either have to be boldly moderate (losing most of his hardcore voters) or keep the boldly liberal message (hoping Iowa was just one simple loss only).

2012 could end up being an amazing year.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

The Dream Car

I have this car that I've always wanted to own.  The Plymouth Barracuda.  To be honest....it's be out of production for a while.  Today, I learned that Chrysler is going to bring the production line back in 2011...and make the model again....although it's not to be a Plymouth model.

Production came to an end in 1974.  It'd been around for a decade and the key factor was this enormous engine...typically a 8-cylinder.  At one point, there was the 426 cubic inch (7.0 L) engine....which probably guzzled down to eight miles per gallon.  I suspect the gas crisis of the early 70's probably helped to kill off the car.  You had to get at least fifteen miles per gallon to survive that period....and that wasn't going to happen.

The new engine?  There isn't much out there on what they will put into the car.  I suspect it'll have a six-cylinder and go up around 3.5 L.    It'll have to get twenty miles to the gallon....to at least make folks happy.

A boom for Chrysler?  It's sitting there in a pause and see situation.  There are a dozen cars waiting in the dreams of folks to be re-made again today....and the "Cudda" is one of them.  My advice?  Make a sixty second ad which starts out in black and white....some guy climbing into a 1964 version of the car and cruising on the interstate across the US....and every 500 miles...upgrade to the next version, and by the time you get to California, bring out the new "Cudda" and go to a bright color background.

Here in My Local Town

Living in the DC region always has these unique moments.

Yesterday in the local news....came this piece about DC and its critter problem.  The local folks across the river....in DC....apparently have a problem with snakes and raccoons.  The Humane Society and the DC political machine got together, and hustled up this bill, which really made DC appear to be animal-friendly.

The bill says....that when you have a 'nuisance' critter (classified really as non-desirable)....that every attempt by made to capture the animal and then release it into the wild.  Lots of folks got weepy-eyed over helping the little fellows and this bill made perfect sense.

In the last week...some folks in Virginia finally woke up, and realized that there was no wild in the DC area.  There really isn't any nearby 'wild' in Maryland either (most everything around the DC region in Maryland is urban).  So then the Virginia folks realized that they are the ones left with the wild.  So this bill opened up the door for critters to be caught, and then transported across the river and "dumped" in Virginia.  If you go just twenty miles into Virginia....we've got swamps and plenty of forested area for the critters to run wild.

So the Deputy Director of the Commonwealth's Bureau of Wildlife Resources (remember, we are still British in a way here in Virginia) wrote up a kindly letter and basically said it was simply illegal to carry any wild animal across state lines (without permission).  It's kinda like taking a sixteen year old girl across state-lines, a drunk gal in a tube-top across state-lines, or a single-wide trailer over five years old across state-lines.  State-lines are state-lines....you know.

The DC guys are standing there now....with wild critters and a funny bill that says to capture them and tote them out of the DC area.

I thought about this a while....pondering.  What DC needs is a wooded and forested area where wild animals could roam.  Logically, this would make perfect sense to turn urban part of DC back into a wild-zone.  So I'm thinking the animal-friendly folks and the Humane Society ought to work together....creating a wild-zone of DC.  This would solve this problem easily and also create a pretty interesting part of DC where you'd have water moccasin snakes, wolves, beavers, and maybe even moose.  Heck, maybe we could import some rhinos, elephants, and tigers.

Just my humble observations.  Note: this was a non-nuisance critter and friendly raccoon from the 1960's in the picture.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Just Observations from Last Night

Just five observations from last night and the election coverage.

First, after watching Harry Reid survive....I pondered upon the situation.  Harry Reid survives on and likely keeps his leadership role.  To be honest, Harry is this Nevada character who doesn't say alot of negative comments (unlike Pelosi).  I actually could see Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid working out compromises.  This might be one of the best working Senates in decades....if you ask me.

Second, while I admit Fox News did the best job for the whole evening....their graphics were 1-star.  I kept flipping over to CNN and admiring their graphics (4-star).  I also admired the continual statistical displays that CNBC kept throwing up and their relationship to business and the election.  As for MSNBC?  It was fairly pitiful and I kept laughing after a five-minute clip, and then turning back to Fox News or CNBC.  Some advice for MSNBC....fire Ed Schultz.  Ed really looked like a second-year college journalism major.

Third, take a look at the map of congressional seat wins.  This is really a vast image of red.  There's some blue in metropolitan areas, California, west coast, New York, and a few areas of New England....then nothing.  That image says alot.

Fourth, it is shocking the number of Republican governors who won, and the state assembly seats that fell to the Republicans.  From the eight states affected by the Census...who either lose seats or gain seats in the US House in 2012.....all were falling into affected Republican wins.  When they shuffle up the re-districting....the new district will better to Republicans.  If you had to pick one area that was stupid to screw up and lose on....this was at the top of the list.

Fifth and final....there are alot of Democrats who fell by the side in this election.  Frankly, I suspect they are angry with the Washington leadership and will blame people for screwing up what should have been a simple win.  You won't see these people come back.  State Democratic players are going to ask tough questions and demand the President and strategy players radically change.  If they don't....the next group of Senators will fall....and more Democratic Representatives who survived...will have to watch their ships sink in 2012.  Things will have to change...this I strongly suspect.

The Real Results

For me, there was a special part of yesterday's election.  Near to my hometown in Bama....the next town over....in the midst of "DRY" country (meaning no alcohol allowed for over eighty years)....they were finally going to vote on this.

For months, this had been a serious topic in town...bigger than the Republicans or Obama.  Going "wet" meant they'd finally have real tax revenue to use from the booze sales.  Lots of folks were figuring this would help businesses in town and help the city grow.

I won't mention the name of the town....just out of respect for the situation.

So the vote came yesterday....and by midnight...it was done.  219 for dry and 218 for wet.  Yeah, ONE vote difference.

Recount?  I would imagine that the poll guys would have sat there for another hour....to recount each and every vote....but I doubt that it changed.

So things are set now for several years.  No booze.

The ministers will chat Sunday over the effect of one vote.  Each will claim that he cast the vote.  Each will state that God had his hand over the voting mechanism of the town.

The truth?  Well....one idiot had probably gone out and gotten extremely drunk and celebrating well ahead of time.  He walked into the poll station and cast a stray vote for dry instead of wet.

As the sun rose this morning....and he finally woke up from his hangover....he was trying to remember his day yesterday, and then it hit him....he'd cast the wrong vote.

He's showered and gotten himself ready....standing by the pick-up to drive to work....but he's weeping fiercely and blaming himself for the woes of so many men of the town.  Being drunk and accidentally voting dry....how could he face the boys at the bar.

So in a moment of strength and courage....he swore off booze completely in hopes of helping in the next election...to ensure he'd be sober and voting correctly.

Yep, that's my town.  Meanwhile, the folks up at the state line are smiling because they still own the only way for folks to get booze.

Oh, and yeah.....they might have cast a vote or two in support of the town staying dry.  Actually....maybe more than a vote or two.