Friday, 29 April 2011

A Moment of Bama Talk

In the last day or two....I read and heard a fair bit on the tornado damage in Bama.  To be honest, it's a fair number of folks who died there in the state or lost their house and possessions.

From my home town area....most folks suffered wind damage.  A bit further over....over in Phil Campbell....a small town of 1,000 folks....twenty-six folks died.  Most of what was in this town....exists no more. The town's mayor, Jerry Mays, stood up and tried to give an honest opinion: "We've lost everything. Let's just say it like it is.  I'm afraid we might have some suicides because of this."

I paused over this.  Folks from Bama are a bit unique.  I grew up there and always noted that.

If a guy came out of the mess and then faced his house gone and such massive damage....he'd be hard-pressed to say much of anything.  Shock would be the only thing that you could take from his expression.  There'd be some heavy emotions over neighbors, relatives or friends gone.  You'd walk around the neighborhood.....assess what trees still stand, and how some cars came to be out in a field.

Along about nightfall, somebody would drive by and stop.  It'd be a buddy from high school twenty years ago....a cousin....some Sunday school teacher you knew when you were twelve....and they'd ask about your situation.  The next thing you know.....they've offered up supper and a bed.  You'd find the wife and then climb into the vehicle.  An hour later, you'd be at a table with prayers being said over folks who didn't make it.  You'd have a fair amount of supper and maybe get offered a shot or two of some whiskey to help you fall asleep.

Morning would come.

By nine, your friend would be answering the phone and suddenly twelve other folks were offering up help. Some cousin had a garage for you to store valuables left from the house.  Some buddy offered up their pick-up to haul stuff.  Some guy you barely know from the gas station offered an old dump truck to haul stuff from your property.  By nightfall, someone from your church calls up and offers their trailer RV for a eternity, if necessary, for you and the wife to temporarily live independently.

A week would pass.  Folks would have been buried by now.  Your prospective on life is a bit challenged but you kinda realized that you survived and were lucky.  Houses can be rebuilt and lives can be assessed as challenged but acceptable.

Two weeks will pass.  The church stands up and gives you a $500 gift card to buy clothing.  Some guy you knew from work ten years ago calls up and offers himself and a dozen other folks as all-day help to clean up the mess of destruction on your property.  Backhoe included.

A month will pass.  There are reluctant feelings that you have....to just accept change and try to forget what happened.

Eventually, football season will come and somehow, you find some normalcy.  Thanksgiving will come and you share a meal with relatives at their place.  You thank everyone for their thoughts and kindness.

My own feeling is that the mayor of Phil Campbell was a bit overcome with emotion when he suggested that people will have suicidal feelings.  The truth is.....folks from around Bama have faced hardships, woes,  and sorrows.  They aren't the type to give in. They just aren't the folks who accept an end situation gracefully.

Some folks will be challenged by this mess.  In the end, I suspect all will come to admit that the greatest thing about Bama.....are the friends and neighbors who live there with you.  And maybe that's what matters the most in life.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

The Future?

Here in the land of infidels.....we've had this evil thing....called the internet.

Iran has spoken out about this for several years.  So this week....the chief of Iranian economic affairs announced that Iran will launch, with the help of Allah, a new Islamic-approved internet.  Naturally, this would rid the world eventually of the current US-developed internet.

All of this is supposed to clean up the mess and bring everybody back into a clean, moral and ethical society.

I tried to imagine this concept.  You'd have a parallel network...probably mostly in Iranian Farsi language, and it'd work like the internet for the most part but cleaned up and mostly monitored by Mullahs.

Mullahs are mostly known for having a sixth grade reading ability and almost no comprehension of world history, math, science, or anything relating to computers or the internet.  They can quote the Koran, but beyond that.....the top hundred Mullahs in Iran would have serious problems in leading a management situation with a Islamic web.

During the first twelve months of such a web....I doubt that more than six pages of information would be formally blessed or allowed to exist on a Islamaweb.

Then we come to the problem of business in the Islamic world using such a device.  Could a ebay-like operation operate?  I would imagine for every hundred ad's submitted for publication....maybe after three months....six ad's might be approved and allowed to appear.   I'm having doubts that help in the success of such a web.

Finally, if I were a true Mullah.....I just might want to ask what can be hidden in the background of various web documents?  These programmer guys can write all kinds of stuff and hid a thousand anti-Islam things into one simple web page.  To say that each page will be pure and without any issue....is a bit comical.  I would imagine it'd only take a year for some programmer to be arrested and put to death for inserting a funny comical piece of a Mullah dancing around a birthday cake onto the Islamaweb.

All in all....I don't think I'd worry much about this.....except Iran might have to send a bunch of smart kids off to US universities to get all smart on this technology.  This means they will spend money on education, beer, and American pizza.....and there's certainly nothing wrong with more money being dumped on America.

News in the Comic World

As some of you know....I kinda get into comics....Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, etc.  The storyline always interested me on how Flash saves the day, or how Superman traveled back in time to solve a mystery.

This week....it was announced that in the upcoming episode (#900) of Superman.....that things have deteriorated in the world to such a degree....that Superman gives up his US citizenship.  The weak and flimsy story basically revolves around Superman is having a pretty low stress day and simply drops into an Iranian protest of some type.....nonviolent of course, and involving civil disobedience.  The silly American government wants him to act as an instrument of American national policy.

Superman stands there for a moment, and finally says he just won't work for the US government and then drops the bombshell.....he is a citizen of the universe.  Naturally, this disturbs the leadership of the US government.

Little else is said about this scripted comic, which will be out shortly.

The comical side of this...is that Superman then flies back to Metropolis, puts on his Clark Kent suit and then works as reporter....paying US taxes and likely voting in local elections (probably as a Democrat, but that's to be discussed on another day).

So on one side of the great legend....he pretends to be Clark and still a US citizen, and on the other side....he's the super dude who just plays citizen of the universe.  Yes, this all makes perfect sense.

In the background, I can see Batman standing there....mostly shaking his head.  He'd never be this dopey in public.  I could see Captain America standing in a CNN interview and actually calling Superman an idiot.  And I could even see Wonder Woman thinking everything's cool now because she never was an American citizen and was hoping no one would ever make a big deal out of this.

I'm guessing six issues of this universal citizen thing will go on, and then Superman will meet up with George Bush....talk about this issue, and eventually George will convince Superman to retake the oath and step back in as an American citizen.  That's the only way that it could end.

The Saga Continues

After this birth certificate got released yesterday from the President.....I've waited almost twenty-four hours to let the dust settle and to grasp some things.

First, you have this problem sitting there for over eighteen months....and only now, with Donald Trump on your case.....do you decide to fix everything and share your birth certificate?  You release it and almost immediately appear that morning on Oprah's show?  For some reason, this all has a funny smell about it.

Days led into weeks, and then onto months....with millions asking stupid questions over the birth certificate....and only the Donald could make you release it?  For some reason, I'm just not buying much into this.

Second, the minute that the Donald heard that this was released....his reaction?   Good, now onto the college records.  You didn't even get an entire day of relief from this comedy.  And in the months to come as the college story starts to become serious....you release them....then the Donald can bring up your medical records.  For some reason, again, I'm just not buying much into this thinking or planning process of this game.

Third, as for the birth certificate being bogus?  People have already started to take it apart and suggest various problems.  Some might might be valid but you just can't tell.  So the argument really doesn't go away as quickly as you'd like.

Frankly, this whole thing is starting to sound like a scripted WWE wrestling grudge match spread out over several years.  I'm expecting Hulk Hogan to appear any second and whoomp on some wussy CNN reporter, or Jake "the Snake" to hog-tie some Fox News reporter.  Yes, I'm just not buying into this script at all.....sadly.  

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Simply Observations

Being from Bama, I know there are often discussions amongst church members that get kinda heated.  Typically, it's over renovation for the church, money issues on church funds, or members accusing each other of not being religious-enough.  This all tends to get folks upset....call each other names, accuse each other of having lust in their heart, and at the worst, folks up and quit a church.  Out of the weekend news, there was a Sikh temple meeting in New York City, where knives got drawn and seven guys were arrested in the end.  Apparently, one group wanted to expand out the membership and draw folks in....and the more conservative members just didn't want a bunch of new folks hanging out at the temple.    For those who didn't know....Sikhs tend to carry fair-sized sword on themselves at all times....to settle fights.  My guess is that the judge here will ask the boys to just settle up, and say some apology.  I'm guessing some hurt feelings exist, and this might take a while to sort out.

The International Association of Fire Fighters....typically gives a fair amount of funds to Democratic Senators and Representatives....to win big and support their agenda.  It's not the size of the donation that matters....just that they were always noted at the front of the line.  Well...today, they said Democrats at the national level weren't going to win over the next eighteen months....so they are carving off their money to help win down at the state and local level only.  It wouldn't be a big deal....except some other folks are likely gazing at their philosophy and thinking they 2012 is another big year for Republican wins (maybe not at President, but for Senators and Representatives).  I'm guessing a hundred big strategy guys for the Democrats are sitting there tonight and thinking their battle just got twice as hard.  They really didn't need this type of mess on their hands.  And that billion-dollar bucket that the President has?  He just might need it all for himself.

The former green-jobs Czar for the President, Van Jones, came out over the weekend and said that the Earth ought to have rights.  If you admitted this, then you could start to take folks into court for hurting the Earth.  I sat there and did a pretty long pause.  In a case like this....if I were agreeable to handing out rights, then beer would have rights, bassboats would have rights, septic tanks would have rights, and the American farmer would have rights.  It's difficult to envision how you'd ever convince a bunch dopey political folks to do something like this or even say something agreeable on the topic.  Again, I will remind you that all of the real rights that you have....fit on a 3x5 card (front and back).  No, you don't have a right to drivers license, a passport, good medical coverage, a decent chiropractor, or even the right to high-speed internet.  If you simply asked questions...you'd realized how bogus all these rights discussions get.

Once you sit around and think about it....there's an awful lot of folks who lived good rich lives without a birth certificate: Socrates, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Robert E. Lee, Moses, Columbus, and Andrew Jackson.  Frankly, they all did fairly well, and some of them were even Presidents.  Folks didn't run around and get 'birthed' at some local hospital or have some notary public stamp them as officially from the Commonwealth of Virginia (not state)....or give them official Greek status (like Plato or Socrates).  We didn't make such a big deal about this with Lincoln or Grant....often overlooking alot of other negatives that were alot bigger (Lincoln's dad probably wasn't Mr Lincoln, but it's best we don't give out these details).  So if the President doesn't have a birth certificate in his possession....it just ain't a big deal, and he's in fairly good company.  All things considered.  Oh, and Jesus didn't have a birth certificate either....but we kinda overlooked that fact for the obvious reasons.

Finally, there's this Saudi guy....who was up on the ladder behind Osama bin Laden.....a major player in the leadership chain....who got his name in the news today.  This guy....Abd al-Rahim Hussein Muhammad Abdah al-Nashiri....eventually got caught and detained by the Americans.  This week....WikiLeaks decided to leak some key information on Abdah.....that he was fairly dedicated to jihad.  In fact, he was so dedicated....that he took regular injections to promote impotence and recommended this practice for others.  The sad thing about this whole thing getting into the public....was that Abdah actually admitted that he had to be impotent....in order to avoid distractions by women.  WikiLeaks actually repeated the quote straight from the CIA....."....so more time could be spent on jihad – rather than being distracted by women”.  In some ways, you have to admire a guy like this.  But then you have to wonder....where exactly in the Islamic world do you find some goofball doctor who has impotence shots ready to go for it's jihad membership?  Answer?  You don't.  It's mostly some guy named "Gus" who attended Kabul veterinary school and he's got some leftover dog de-worming medication that he simply says it will cut down your interest because he uses an old needle and intentionally jabs you extra hard to make you wish you were impotent.

Just some observations.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Trouble in My Neighborhood

We had Charlie Sheen do a show in DC in the past week.  There's not much to say about the show.  However, the police escort getting Charlie to the theater is getting more press than Charlie himself.

There was apparently a request for a police escort to get Charlie down to the right place....at the right time.  The chief of police apparently did not approve the request....but somehow, the escort went on as scheduled. The comical part of this story is that a video clip was provided by Charlie over his escort....showing that he was traveling at more than 80 mph and being led by a police car, which kinda violates a rule or two.

Naturally, this means a city investigation within the police department and likely expanding out to the city council (my humble guess).

Monday, 25 April 2011

The Charity Funnel

I sat and watched a discussion tonight on money and morality.  Basically, the thrust of this discussion was supposed to charge people up and feel "great" about an obligation on charity....to the degree that even the government's obligation on charity is a "great" feeling, and you shouldn't allow yourself to let that feeling diminish.  That was a hint, that when folks start talking over the next 100 days about cutting the budget....your feeling of fighting for funding and morality should be charged up.

The urge here....is that you help the least of those in society.

For a number of years....I believed in that.  I worked with a guy who got a call one night.  His dear sister....who'd married an abuser....called for help from several states away.  He got in the car and drove.  He picked her twenty-four hours later and brought her and the two kids back to his family.  His intention was to offer shelter and home to her.  He and his wife spent two months reshaping her life and getting her to the point of getting a job and becoming independent.  Then the call came.

The abusive husband spent an hour or two, and then convinced her to give up the plan.  The abusive husband drove out and had her completely changed again.  Over a couple of days....the sister finally announced that she'd like to leave but she needed a loan to help abusive husband and her restart their lives.....namely....$5k.

My associate spent an minute in silence and simply said he'd give her $1k to leave....not a loan but just a $1k to leave.  That was it.  The abusive husband was kinda upset and the sister was really expecting the brother to roll and just loan them the entire amount.  That didn't happen.

After the couple left with their $1k.....it took around two months for a call to occur that the abusive husband had beat up the sister again.  My associate really didn't want to hear the episode and just told her to call the cops.  He didn't need to be involved.

There's a point where charity has burnt too many bridges, and you stand there shaking your head.  We've probably spent over $10 billion since 1960 on homelessness in America.  Frankly, there's nothing much to show for the effort.

We've probably given as a nation and in a personal way....well over $100 billion from America and Europe since the 1960s to Africa.  Frankly, there's not much to show for the effort.

I'd kinda like for us to stand up and just suggest give them all just one final check for whatever amount they want, and then smile to say that charity didn't really improve much of anything.  It's best to figure out where you screwed up and start working to fix that one problem.  It doesn't matter if you are some homeless guy or some society in Paraguay.  We've given enough to expect some results.  Otherwise, things have shifted from being a charity to being some front money to just keep things going like they are.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

It Just Ain't That Simple

On Friday, from Baltimore....we had a video clip which appeared nationally.  I would try to put it up from Google or Youtube, but both would quickly remove it from their access...for various reasons of "ethics".

Basically, it's a down-and-dirty fight where two black girls beat the crap out of a white "girl" in a McDonalds.  The fight went on for two or three minutes and the black girls whooped ass on the poor white "girl".  No one did much of anything.....even from the McDonalds staff.  Some customer comes into play at some point to defend the white "girl" and you get this impression that this was a terrible incident.  Cops are called but miss out on the bulk of the video-taped period.  Most folks at first thought this was a terrible thing where some black girls beat up another white "girl".

So I sat there.....there's something missing from this story....at least as far as I could see.  The whole story isn't readily standing out.

Tonight....we kinda get the remaining pieces.  This white "girl"?   Well....it's a trans-gendered gay guy.  What apparently happened is that he went into the women's bathroom and the two black gals took great exception to this episode.  So they whooped her or his ass....and it's hard to figure the ethics to this.

McDonalds management will come down hard on the folks at the franchise.  But the truth is that you don't want a cook or a manager taking physical action in a case like this.  You call the cops and just stand back.  Don't get involved in anything unless it's a fire in the building.

As for the cops involvement now?  They will likely file some charges and the video-clip will be used in court.  This is Baltimore and I doubt that the two black gals will get more than a suspended sentence.

Then we come to the trans-gendered guy/gal.  Bluntly, from state to state, the use of rest-rooms is a hot topic.  Most states don't have laws to cover folks like this.  Folks might even say that they don't want laws to fit special folks like this because they either are male or female....and you need to stay within the lines of normalcy.

For some odd reason, I can understand the hostile nature of the two black ladies, and if I had walked into the bathroom....and this trans-gendered joker was there....I might have done the same thing.  It's hard to say.

The sad thing here....the more we advance....the more complex we make life.  

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Stuff You Might Want to Know

In the past month....with all the fighting around the House, the Senate and the President....it's become apparent that some things are not working like you'd expect them to work.

So, looking ahead to 2012 and the Presidential election, you might want to start thinking about how things might get screwed up in the next election....namely, that Trump takes two or three states, and causes a no-win situation in the Electoral College.

So what happens?  You might want to know.

The Twelfth Amendment says that after the Electoral College certifies (in mid-December) no winner, than the House of Representatives must meet up immediately to vote for President.

The gang there gets the top three candidates....let's say President Obama, the "Donald" and "Huck".  In this case, each state delegation votes as a group with one single state vote (no, the District of Columbia doesn't have one).  The key here....you have to come up with 26 state votes.

So you can imagine the fear, hostility and impending doom of this day.  You have a state with five Representatives, and three are Democrat....even if the majority of the state voted for "Huck"....the vote likely goes to the President.  You have a state with six Democrats and six Republicans Representatives?  They can't make a decision?  Then they come to "no-vote".  You have a state with twenty-two Representatives...thirteen of which are Republican....and the state voted mostly for President Obama, then the likely state vote from this meeting could be a vote for Donald Trump.

The curious thing about this meeting?  At least two-thirds of all the states must be present for this vote to count.  One state like Rhode Island....has as much power as Texas.  You can start to feel a great deal of hostility brewing via the press and mass media as they come to grasp how this whole thing could turn into a giant circus just a week or two before Christmas.

So what happens if the twenty-six number isn't reached?  It just keeps going.  Day by day....week by week.   In the middle of January as the new Representatives arrive to take the positions of the ones who lost....if we get this far....you could find a whole new prospective on how the mess should be settled.

While all of this is going on....the meeting of the Senate is underway....picking the VP.  They only get the top two vote-getters from the election, so it's a bit easier here, Plus you have one vote per senator, so there are 100 votes to mess with.  They need a simple majority to reach this point....51 votes.  The odds of these guys taking more than one day is virtually zero.  You can imagine five hours of debate....a recess of three hours, and they return around mid-evening to vote.  I would speculate one simple vote would take eight minutes, and their mess would be done.

After watching the economic debate a few weeks ago....I'd say that we have all the right ingredients to bring about a non-winner in the Electoral College.

Huck has to take all of the south (except Florida), all the mid-west states, along with Arizona, Nevada and Idaho.  If Trump takes New York state, New Jersey, Wisconsin, and Michigan....which I believe he could achieve wins in those four states....then there is no clear winner in the Electoral College.

Perhaps an scenario but we all sat and watched a bunch of folks argue for months over the budget and turn it into a five-star mess.  We've barely settled that affair and must now work toward the 2012 budget.  We've got issues.

Friday, 22 April 2011

One Way or Another

I grew up about a dozen miles away from Town Creek, Bama.  If you were asking me to describe the town....then I'd tell you was an intersection town (Highway 72 and 101) that was mostly in the midst of nowhere.  Growing up....I can remember three or four gas stations there, a grocery, a shoe store, and two cafes.

The significance of Town Creek?  It was a local point where cotton got delivered for a hundred years.  Truckers stopped and fueled up.  And they had a high school.  That was about it.

This week....things changed and they moved up a notch.

The local cop got a call to quickly come out to some gal's house.  There was a report of a naked man in the midst of the house.....and he wasn't supposed to be there.

The facts as we can determine.....there was a naked man in the house, who was taking down family photos from the wall as the cop arrived.  The cop naturally asked who he was, and the guy responded "Jesus Christ".

Now, typically....cops in Bama don't normally come into contact with "Jesus Christ" very often and I'm guessing that this cop stood there for a good thirty seconds....contemplating if maybe Revelations were now going into effect....end-of-times....and this might actually be the big deal that mama used to talk about during July revivals.  Then after a brief pause.....the cop determined that "Jesus Christ" would have likely returned and wore clothing....if he were actually the real guy.  The fact that this guy was naked.....probably hurt his case a bit.

After a bit of detective work....it was determined that "Jesus Christ" was actually Jeremiah Wade Buxton, of Moulton (29 years old).  The charges currently?  Third-degree burglary, third-degree criminal mischief and indecent exposure.  There was a suspicion that Jeremiah was on drugs, so they did test him.....meth and grass.

The best quote?  The local police commented: “He said he was in heaven and he had cleansed himself of the old person.  I asked why, and he said that was part of cleansing and he got rid of his old clothes.”

The curious part of this story?  Jeremiah got into an argument with a member of his family back earlier in the day out on Highway 101 (remember, you can only get there via 71 and 101).....about his refusal to wear a seatbelt.  Apparently, the family member and Jeremiah went on and on about wearing seatbelts.  Jeremiah just wasn't going to do it.  Finally, the argument got so intense....that Jeremiah asked that the vehicle be stopped....he jumped out....jumped the fence....and ran off.  Later on....he removed his clothing and became "Jesus Christ" briefly.

The thing about living in Bama....is that ten percent of Bama folks are actually waiting hour by hour, day by day, for "Jesus Christ" arrival.  If you brought up the topic, they'd actually describe what they'd put on, what soap they'd use to get cleaned up for the event, and the "howdy" they'd devised to greet him.  These folks have a lot of patience and readily admit that it might take a while but they intend to be ready.

You can imagine the cop on duty.....a guy who probably has seen a good bit of stuff in life....and this moment of some naked guy announcing himself as "Jesus Christ".  It would likely take the wind out of your day, and make you pause briefly.

My guess is that Jeremiah has been bailed out by relatives.  The relatives are a bit embarrassed by this mess, and already taken forty phone-calls from neighbors and friends.  Some folks might actually take this serious and believe for a moment that Jeremiah might have taken enough drugs to have what old-time gospel folks call a "vision".  Naturally, this would trigger folks into asking for a sitting-spell with Jeremiah to see if he has any other visions to share.

In the months to come....Jeremiah will share his visions, and eventually realize that this was all pretty stupid, and then move off to California to become a body builder and part-time diesel mechanic.  It's guys like him....that make Bama famous....one way or another.

When the Pot Over Flowth

You know when you've got too much tax revenue....when you send twenty Ohio cops (not federal, but state) to Turkey to study terrorism up close and personal.  The total spent?  An audit by Homeland Security who "gave" the money away....says $227k.  That comes out to over $10k per cop for this trip.

For those who have never been to Turkey....allow me to part the curtain and give you a brief economic lesson.  From Germany, you can purchase a round-trip business executive-class ticket for approximately $700 (via Turkish Air out of Frankfurt).  Toss in a $1k for the round-trip ticket from Ohio to Frankfurt....you are at $1700.

Depending on the time of year.....if you select October to April.....you can actually get a five-star room (remember, these are cops, and they need only the very best) for around $500 a week.  That includes buffet meals (all you can eat) and a completely open bar with wish-washy drinks for around $100 for the entire week.  So you could enjoy a great hotel, eat all day long and drink all night long.....for $500 a week.

So the cops could have spent three months in Turkey and even had a rental car for each guy....if they knew the economic workings of Turkey.  My guess is this became a package tour deal, which some travel agent in Ohio worked up and the twenty guys barely spent two weeks in Turkey.

This $227k was more or less dumped as quickly as possible.  Your congressman and Senator weren't privy to this situation.....it came straight from Homeland Security and was quietly hidden in their yearly budget.  This is where you start to wonder if expenditures of the US government is a problem.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

The Sad Thing Is......

The sad thing is......if you announced Hulk Hogan the wrestler was running as a Republican for President right now.....he'd take twenty-two percent of the national vote.

The sad thing is.....you have about the same amount of trust in the Aircraft Controller at 2AM in the morning....as you have for the Walmart employee scanning your purchase at 2AM in the morning.....as you have for the guy making your waffles at the Waffle House at 2AM in the morning....as you have for the kid who is running a 7-11 shop at 2AM in the morning.....as you have for a cop on the beat at 2AM in the morning.  Never once do you think about why exactly you do all these things at 2AM in the morning or why you might be out.

The sad thing is.....if some joker showed up at the county court house to get a brand new license out of thin air and said they didn't have a birth certificate.....they'd walk out empty handed.

The sad thing is.....more folks respect Charlie Sheen.....than respect Katie Couric.

The sad thing is.....a majority of American teenage girls would actually like the idea of vampire hot lusty guys walking around in real life.

The sad thing is.....most American guys would readily adapt to watching Canadian-style football, if the NFL dumps the season entirely.

The sad thing is.....President Obama could walk into a bar and shoot forty Republicans and announce the dismantling of the Statue of Liberty, and he'd still likely win next year's election.

The sad thing is.....more folks believe one of the top American priorities is to bring high-speed internet to everyone's home....than believe in replacing crappy old bridges they cross to work each day which are about to fall down.

The sad thing is....if you simply forced all cigarette companies to remove all chemicals in tobacco and make them nature-free....then ninety percent of folks could quit smoking within a year.  But who would pay all the taxes associated with chemically-dependent smokes?

The sad thing is....most Americans can't tell you where Libya, Venezuela, North Korea or Cuba are located on a map.

The sad thing is.....more Americans know more about the septic tank in their back yard than they know about economics.

The sad thing is.....more Americans have attended a college football game than have attended a single city hall or county commission meeting once in their life.

The sad thing is.....more folks in Florida take Oxycodone than in the other forty-nine states combined.  Adding to this, we are trusting them as registered voters to be competent enough stand there and know who they voted for....two minutes after they left the polling station.

The sad thing is.....forty Russian mafia guys in Libya would have taken Colonel Qaddafi down in sixteen days, replaced the entire government, and stolen the assets of the national bank of Libya.

The sad thing is....aliens could land in Wisconsin, and still be page two news to the union versus the state episode.

The sad thing is.....more folks in Bama, if given a choice of awarding "cult status" to Scientology or the Mormons.....would pick the Mormons.

The sad thing is....if we had a key technology for cars that would recognize Johnny Juniors key (at age 16) and cut half the power to the car.....then we'd cut accidents in America with kids under eighteen by fifty percent.

The sad thing is....folks who tend to buy battery-powered cars which require a charge-up in their garage.....have never grasped that electrical power to their house actually comes in a form of a bill each month.

The sad thing is....most folks who continually complain about a bad back.....probably have a mattress that is over ten years old.

The sad thing is....a cat can remove more stress from your life than two six-packs of beer per day.

The sad thing is....there are actually people who would readily pay $12k for various tattoos to be painted on their body than to put the money into a IRA at age 25 and have $100k at age 65 from that starter amount.

The sad thing is.....most of your actual true fundamental American rights....could be written on a 3x5 card (front and back).  Adding to this....most folks think you actually have over 150 rights.....or so they heard over the radio.

The sad thing is.....more folks know more about NCAA football than first aid.

The sad thing is....more folks run out of gas on the highway each and every day.....than run out of toilet paper in their house each day.

The sad thing is....from the vast crowd of anti-American folks throughout the world who let you know daily that they are anti-American.....have a very short list of who to call if a Earthquake, tidal wave, meteor or invasion came to face their country.  In fact, it's just one listed nation that they would call.  You can guess which one.

The sad thing is....if you brought up the BP oil business from last year and asked folks which coast this was near.....you'd still have thirty percent of folks who would say Alaska.

The sad thing is....not a single teacher in America up until the 1990s....was ever suggested or recommended to be tested for competency.  Adding to this.....the vast number of teachers prior to the 1930s.....had one year of teaching college at best.

The sad thing is....Nevada Senator Harry Reid could accidentally show in any small town in America and tell folks his car broke down, and folks would actually drive him to a local garage for help....offer up a cup of coffee while he was waiting for the tow truck to arrive, and probably not even recognize the guy until two hours after he left and they turned Fox News on.

Finally, the sad thing is.....the number of folks believing in Bigfoot, aliens and that the President doesn't have a birth certificate....is now about the same percentage number.  Luckily, the number of folks believing in increasing taxes is higher.  It has to be an indicator that we're moving in the right direction.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Circus Versus Circus

This is a sad woeful tale.  For those who've never been to Germany....throughout the year....there's these bands of small mini-circuses that travel around the country.  It's what folks in the US used to see in the 1930s and 1940s.  You had a tent big enough for four hundred folks.  There's a 90-minute act of sorts, with twenty-odd performers.  There's at least one elephant in the act....a couple of horses....a clown or two....some gal in hot lusty tights....and always some knife-throwing going on.

They charge just enough to keep the circus going on but they aren't exactly becoming millionaires at this act.  What drives them?  I suspect folks just like the act of driving around the country and just performing.

So this tale kinda unfolds this week.  In the past week in Germany.....out near Regansburg, which is deep into the southern part of Germany....two of these circus "clans" meet up in the same town at the same time.  It's a rare thing that this would ever happen....where two pick the same town for the same weekend.

There is this unwritten rule that things like this shouldn't happen because you are taking away business from one of the circus groups.

Naturally, there came a discussion between the two circuses.....away from public sight.  Somehow.....without much explanation....a shot or two was fired, and one guy got hit in the leg.  One can only imagine it was one of those Mafia-style deals where you shoot at the guy's kneecap to make a point.  Five other folks had varying injuries....and were taken care of without much note.

Cops came and have done as much analysis as they can.  It's fairly evident that no one wants to talk about anything.

I'm guessing these circuses will quietly go into the night and disappear to some other town as quickly as possible.  So for one brief evening....there really was a pretty decent show to watch....but no one got a chance to pay and view it.  In fact....if the two circuses had advertised a circus versus circus "war"....with "battle royal" situations like they do on American TV....fifty thousand folks would have shown up and paid twenty Euro each ($28) to watch something like that.

Simply Observations

If you didn't notice yesterday...there was an odd thing to happen in Syria.  The government in Syria finally decided to life that state of emergency they had.  Naturally, you'd pause and think that this started recently when the problems popped up.....about six weeks ago.  No....the state of emergency has been officially in effect for almost fifty years.  I pondered over this.  Here was a legitimate government which had gone on and on with emergency powers in effect for the leadership and the cops.  Imagine for a moment the US under such a scheme....course, it wouldn't be right to bring up state of emergency in effect since 9-11.  Yep, it just wouldn't be right.  We'd have forty years more to go though....to match up with Syria, just if you were wondering.

The WikiLeaks kid....Private Manning....who started up this massive dump of classified data?  The military came up and decided that he needed better accommodations.  So he's going to be moved shortly....out to Kansas.  Somewhere in the midst of the Pentagon chat about this move....they kinda hinted that this is the intended place where Manning is expected to spend the rest of his life at anyway.  I would imagine after a month....even Manning will begin to realize that he's got a good seventy odd years of life ahead of him....to all be spent in Kansas.....all by his choice.

Finally....I doubt if you noticed it....but the Minnesota Department of Transportation is conducting a test.  In fact, they are searching for volunteers to participate in this test.  The deal is....they'd like to have a terrific tax system for cars....where taxes all relate to miles driven.  Deep down, in their gut....they know you guys are quietly switching over to more fuel efficient and hybrid vehicles.  So you can relate that to gas consumption where taxes are gathered from.  They really can't allow you to get away with this.  So new taxation methods have to be developed.  The odds of you guys knowing your mechanic Gus and having a special speedometer switched in each year when the review occurs?  Probably better than fifty percent.

An Alternate History Moment

Only something to suggest.

Since there are no opponents for President Obama...there really won't be any serious attention to Democratic primaries in the spring of 2012.  In fact, if you were a Democrat sitting around in Tennessee or Kansas or Texas....why bother registering and voting in that primary?

So you'd sit there and pause a while....and then think about voting in the Republican primary.  You'd have three big-time players, and another seven players.  You could create a situation where Huck only wins six states total.  Maybe Romney wins eight states total.  Maybe Palin picks up five states.  Maybe Bachmann picks up five states.

So the Republicans sit there in July at the convention and fight up a storm over five or six guys with no clear win capability.  In fact, so many folks are terribly upset with the negotiations going on....that when they finally arrange for Huck to win (which they'd likely do)....four Republicans out of ten just won't vote for the guy.

So this Trump guy is out there.  He didn't put a penny into the primary.  He's just grinning.  To be honest, Trump is a loser in most aspects and just not presidential material.

But it's a funny thing.....Trump sat there in the spring of 2011 and realized this scenario....so now he's prepared to run.

So the election goes forward with three characters.  Most independents won't go back to President Obama.  Only sixty percent of Republicans can really vote for Huck.  What remains is a oddball group that somehow takes six states for Trump.

Amusingly enough, none of the three have enough votes to carry the electoral college.  So the top two winners walk into the senate (Huck and Obama).  There's a majority of Democrats in the senate (by the written code of election matters after the electoral college fails).....so President Obama wins by Senate vote.  In a curious matter....the house gets all three VP candidates....and puts a Republican into the VP position.

Not to say this is a precise science, and I still believe that Trump is a bogus candidate....but it's a funny way to win an election if you really didn't have the votes with anyone else beside Huck.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Only An Observation

I'd like to drink Mike's Hard Lemonade all the time....and the government should provide it to all citizens.

I use Infectiguard all the time to sanitize my hands after shaking hands with folks....and the government should provide it to all citizens.

I use Rightguard underarm deodorant....and the government should provide it to all citizens.

I use Chapstick during winter months....and the government should provide it to all citizens.

I have highspeed internet access....and the government should provide it to all citizens.

After a while, you start to stand back and ask some dopey questions.  I sat and watched a debate last weekend over the government's funding of Planned Parenthood.  At some point, the question was tossed to the supporter over how funding for program could be substantiated....that could only be used for poor women (and not men).  The natural response from the supporter was that it was a service to women who needed it.

I wanted to ask a question at that point....how we functioned up until the 1970s without government funding of Planned Parenthood....but I'm not in the audience of such a event.

Over the past decade....I've become more and more libertarian.  I find myself asking what necessitates the need for the government to provide any service to the consumer.  Sure, passports might be a necessary item....with border control and entry....and maybe I'd toss in the Coast Guard to provide rescue services.  But my list is awful short.  After that point, I'd rather see the government just downsize their offerings and be more practical.

Course, if they can't.....then we ought to offer up a free case each month of Mike's Hard Lemonade to every adult in America....as part of our "Help America" plan.

Monday, 18 April 2011

"Champion" NPR?

You won't see it mentioned much of anywhere except the Wall Street Journal, but the folks at NPR finally came around the last couple of days and admitted that they need public relations help.  So a private company is being called in.

One of the things they are talking about....is a "champions" program.  Thats new slang for talking up all your positives.  You get a bullet paper of sorts which really lays out where you are going....then it goes to every member of your organization....and to the friends of your friends....and everyone repeats the same talk.  If everyone keeps repeating the same comments, then it's all positive and sells easily to just about anyone who talks about your organization.

If someone talks about bringing a 'senior champions' club to your organization....that's when a bunch of the senior folks in the organization all get together and practice the same crisp "talk" and commentary.  Everybody gets the same notes, the same presentation, the same bullets, and they all try to repeat this over and over....to sell cooperation and advancement within the organization.

So if you were wondering about a change at NPR....well....yeah, but it might not be much of a positive change, if you ask me.

TV and Business

For those who might know me....I have a very short list of TV shows that I watch.  One of those is Doctor House (Fox).  Today, the Wall Street Journal came out with a curious piece.

Fox is in the middle of working the October deal with the new season.  Funny thing....Doctor House over the past year....has lost around twenty percent of its viewer numbers.  Advertising can't be procured at top dollar.  So, there are two choices that Fox sees.

First, cut the number of episodes for the new season from twenty-five down to around twenty-two.  The show will simply make less shows, and everyone takes home around eight percent less pay.  It's not exactly what the stars and production team would desire.

The second choice?  Dump one or two of the prime stars, and bring on one very lesser star to fill the gap, at half the pay that the prime stars were making.  That won't settle well with the stars on the show because they all want to continue on for another season.

The guys who produce the show came back over the weekend and said that there is a third option....dumping Fox and handing the show to NBC.  Fox laughed and said they had a contract.  The production team laughed and said that it might not be valid.

Thirty years ago....the networks simply made decisions and that was typically the end of a show.  They didn't make less episodes or dump stars.  It was pure business.  Today....folks are smarter.  Personally, I'd like to see the show continue on....with all the stars, and just do a few less episodes. But I doubt that I'll get a choice in this matter.

There's a Bigger Picture

Out of the Washington Post from Sunday....came a fairly long and winded article over public sculptures in America.  Someone had done the research and determined that America has 5,193 public statues of sort.  Sadly....only 394 involve women.  Naturally, 4,799 are men.  The writer....Ms Cari Shane....went through the various discussion items that more emphasis needed to be put on statues of women.

I sat and thought about this for a while.  It's an interesting thing that has occurred since the 1950s.  Basically....if you look around....other than statues of Presidents, a couple of guys from the Koran and Vietnam war, some sports figures, John Wayne, and Rocky Balboa....that's about it.  Our massive statue phase from the period before the 1950s...has kinda collapsed.  We don't make statues period....unless it's really a big deal.

It's an interesting discussion to cover.  Generally, if you say you need a statue to cover some battle now....then it's a wall with names on it, or some modern art piece that isn't male or female.  We aren't exactly rushing out to honor folks.

Course, I'm not suggesting we start this new national trend...because it'd require US tax revenue to start turning out more statues.  The last thing we need is the President to stand up and do a four-star speech outlining a statue-building agenda, a statue "Czar" in the White House, and a deal to unionize all the statue-makers in America.

I believe Ms Shane's article is probably worth reading and at least discussing.  The problem is that we kinda got started on a path where all the folks at the big meeting in Philadelphia were men....then a bunch of men fought a couple of wars versus the British, the Mexicans, the south, the Spanish, the Germans, the Nazis, the Japanese, the Koreans, the Chinese, the Vietcong, and Saddam's guys.  Folks kinda revolve around the history and stories that's been written.

Are there any women today who ought to have a statue made up?  Yes.  A dozen?  Well....that might require a debate.  I can't see making up statues for tennis players or figure skaters....but we ought to be able to start a better statistical trend.

Just my two cents.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Simply Observations

Word comes out this week that the US and European countries are seeking a country where Colonel Qaddafi, Libya's drama queen who also pretends to lead the country, might relocate to.  You can imagine a dozen American state department guys calling around...visiting third-world countries....and trying to beg folks into a deal to accept a possible Libyan dictator.  The discussion would center around hundreds of millions of dollars a year to make a special deal like this possible.  An island country like Tonga could ask for $250 million a year for the rest of the life of Colonel Qaddafi, and we might just have to pay it.  So hidden on on some future US budget...might be the Colonel Qaddafi-for-life-vacation-fund.

Arizona will likely put into place a law which says if you run for the office of President...you have to produce a birth certificate.  I sat and watched a commentary where a think-tank guy gutted this immediately because Hawaii has already verified the birth certificate and it's written into the Constitution that you as a state must accept stamped paperwork from other states....so this will be struck down by the Supreme Court.  I sat and paused over this commentary because Arizona isn't arguing about the authenticity of the document....they are simply saying if you want to run in an election in Arizona....you just produce the document and in five minutes you can walk out of the state registration office.  I believe the Supreme Court will agree.

In a pretty unusual move in Cuba....Raul Castro....having taken the leadership role, has now suggested that term limits ought to be in place for Cuban political figures.  Course, it's a only a suggestion right now....but he figures that the upper elite of political figures ought to be limited to two five-year periods....then stand down.  They can come back after the third period, and do the two five-year periods again, but he thinks people want to see fresh faces.  It was likely a bit of fresh talk that some folks have been waiting four decades to hear.  Sadly, this all came in the midst of a 150-minutes speech that Raul gave and most folks simply dozed through that part of the speech.

The French stood firm this week on their Islamic veil law.  Bluntly, you as a Muslim woman are forbidden from wearing a veil in public.  You can wear around the house all you want....but walking around the shopping district in a veil won't be accepted.  There's naturally already been a test of the system with two Islamic women trying to make a point.  Sadly....the French cops were on the scene and ticketed them.  The amount?  150 Euro (roughly $200).  The comical part about this French law....is that if you are the husband and demand your Islamic wife wear this in public....then you get a bigger fine, and potentially two years in prison.  I'm guessing most guys will just "hint" to the wife that she ought to cover her face, and hope that doesn't send him off to jail.

My county here....Arlington county....finally got around to passing it's budget.  The number?  One billion dollars a year to run this county.  It's hard for me to imagine a budget like this and how all of us in this county contribute to the magic number.  Between sales taxes, hotel taxes, and property taxes....somehow, they take in that much money.

Finally, not that I care much, but the NFL and their players are now actively meeting and discussing points to possibly end the strike.  In recent days, several reports have come out over numerous players who have gone to loan agencies for funds to cover their lifestyles.  Apparently, banking rules have changed enough that most banks won't lend you a massive bulk loan of $100k just to cover your month-to-month living costs.  Naturally, these loan agencies don't offer 10 percent deals....their deal is closer to 20 percent.  The longer that this strike goes on....the deeper into debt that players will go.  If they go through and strike for all of the 2011 season....you might see a quarter of the players in the NFL who are in bankrupt status by the spring of 2012.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

The Thing with Donald

I allowed the smoke to clear this week before I made my observations over Donald Trump.

First, most Americans aren't happy with either party or the top dozen political voices that exist.  So anyone that says some really different hardcore comments slamming folks....gets attention.

Second, if you remember the Ross Perot-period.....the third-party guy simply subtracted from one of the others, and helped some third guy win (namely, Bill Clinton).

Third, from the Republican side....most of the candidates for President have this sixty-percent circle.  Huck can't win outside the south.  Romney can't win in the south.  Palin carries mostly independent votes, but limited Republican votes.  Mitch Daniels isn't known in more than twenty states.  Chris Christy from New Jersey carries a great debate but he's not likely to win in southern states.  So Trump is this wild card that you just can't imagine in such a race.

Fourth, honestly, fifty percent of the folks in America now have a curious thought or two about the President's birth certificate.  And the amusing thing.....Trump is the only significant guy around....talking about this.  The President could end this comedy, but I don't think he wants to.  He has to be enjoying all this chatter about his birth certificate.

Fifth and final....face it....politics has become a reality series.  Why not allow Trump the privilege of standing in the midst of the show and mouthing off at various people.    Everyone is behaving like apprentices anyway.  Toss in some comical think-tank players, some wannabe news commentators, some former Alaskan governor, some Hawaiian guy who turned from being Barry into some guy named Barak, and you got yourself a CBS reality series.  The only problem is....we can't toss anyone off, and each week....we merely add more actors.

The End of a Generation

If you had suggested that interest in soap operas would have fizzled out eventually....most folks would have laughed.  This week, All My Children and One Life to Live.....were given their termination notices.  And they won't be replaced by new soap operas, but rather, reality shows.

At one point in the mid-1980s, I briefly got into soap operas.  For about a year or two, I followed along a storyline and had three favorite characters on one soap.  Then I simply got to a peak and asked myself why Doctor Bob had to leave town now, and the strange mysterious Buffy had arrived to cause trouble.  It was a hook....nothing could stay the same....things had to evolve and evolve and evolve.  I eventually lost my interest. Kinda like the way that the show Lost went, except it simply got flushed at the end with a bunch of freaked-out nonsense with the half-dead or wannabe zombies.

I pondered upon this.  Reality shows and these bogus interview shows....are all mostly hitting their peak right now.  Within three or four years, most folks are going to admit that they've had enough.  My guess is that we will eventually return to soap operas in five to eight years.

Future soap operas would likely be more revolutionary....existing in Milwaukee instead of Bay City.  Doctor Bob might be this trans-gendered guy who lives with his sister Mary, the cafe waitress who'd like to quite the cafe but stays on because the owner Toby just says to stay on.  We'd probably have a midget or two as central characters....maybe a researcher into laxatives.....and we'd toss in some farmer from Arkansas who just quit farming one day and became a community organizer in Milwaukee.

Evolution....yep, that's what we need.  

The Lack of Sleep

Over the past month or two...several FAA incidents have occurred with control tower folks sleeping.  They all occur at night, of course.  Customers are upset because they think it's a pretty screwed up thing, and the government supervisors can't imagine a guy not making it through a 8-hour shift from ten at night until six in the morning.

I sat and pondered over this.  Throughout my Air Force career.....I kept getting put into shift situations once or twice a year.....going through an entire evening shift and trying to survive until the sun came up.  There's usually three standard tricks that I utilized.

First, the massive caffein trick.  Between coffee, Pepsi, and Mountain Dew....I drunk three or four times the normal amount for myself.  I tended to bring in a six-pack and gulp the whole thing down over the shift.  Yes, it was fairly unhealthy but came to realize you didn't have many options.

Second, I kept a big bag of peanuts and would toss back a handful every twenty minutes.  That probably wasn't the smartest thing in the world but it worked.

Finally, I had the TV running and probably watched a movie or two around 2AM....hoping to boost me a bit.

I came to realize that the best way of overcoming this....was to take my lunch-hour around 1AM and simply nap for an hour.  It was comical because you can't nap anywhere around the operations area or the work-center.  So you went out to the car and set up an alarm.....and slept there.  That one hour came to fix up your problems and you avoided all the maximum use of sodas and coffee.  

I doubt very seriously that the FAA will come to agree on napping for an hour.  The curious thing here....up until the 1950s.....we weren't exactly a society that ran twenty-four operations.  Diners might have ran until midnight but then they closed.  Bus stations were typically closed by midnight.  Train stations typically closed around midnight.  Cops in major cities?  We didn't really talk about round-the-clock police operations until you got to the 1950s.  

So we've only been talking about this 24-hour situation for about sixty years.  It's a curious thing.....we really haven't learned much about this concept.  We know that people do stupid things when they've run through a 12-hour shift at night.....but we seem to accept that as normal.

So if you were planning this great cheap vacation trip....and the plane has to land at 3AM in Salt Lake City....you just might want to ask yourself if it's really necessary to plan the existence of your life around an exhausted air traffic control guy and the pilot on your plane.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Hot Mics

At some point on Air Force One today....Jay Carney, who poses as the White House press secretary, wanted everyone to know that the President was happy with his comments caught on a open microphone last night.  Jay says...it's all the same....whatever he says in private is ok in public, and vice-versa.

The quote from Jay: “There’s nothing he said that contradicts anything he said in public. I think what he said in that session you’re talking about and the things that he’s said in more public forums have been entirely consistent.”

Apparently, this was all against the Republican budget deal and he just wanted folks to know what he was thinking.

I sat and pondered over this.  Up until the 1960, you just didn't have this 'hot microphone' thing to ever occur.  Presidents could say anything they wanted, and it pretty much never got repeated unless it was a honest to God speech.

You can imagine George Washington now.....in this modern age....talking with a hot mic.

"Damn, that whiskey from Jefferson's stock is pretty stout".

"Martha doesn't know nothing about politics, and its best to keep it that damn way."

"I spent eight days riding that lame horse over to Jefferson's house....and the best welcome dinner I could get was some pork and cabbage?"

"Those damn British don't know nothing about taxing whiskey".

I'm guessing that George Washington probably said an awful lot of things that folks would be shocked about today....and it's best that we never had that hot mic issue during his years.

A State of Relativity

Our government financial experts sat around and analyzed the Republican cut of $39-odd billion on the national budget, and finally said today that the real savings....was only $352 million (with a M).

Most all of the politicians stood around and just grinned.  America is the only place in the world where $39-odd billion is relative and equals $352 million.

It's like saying that a Porsche is relative to a Honda Civic.

It's like saying that Alaska is relative to Rhode Island.

It's like saying steak is relative to tofu.

It's like saying Edward R Murrow is relative to Katie Couric.

It's like saying King Aurthur is relative to Donald Trump.

As for the method that some financial wiz comes to note $39-odd billion equals cuts of $352 million?  It's best that we not ask this.  I'm guessing that it's a method that came from the Harvard Business School and we know how their methods helped the Goldman Sachs folks.

China and Reality

It's an odd piece out of China today.  The Chinese are going to enforce some new rules which affect TV shows and movies within the country.  Basically, if you were a Chinese TV station....you have orders to avoid story scripts which have anything to do with "fantasy, time-travel, random compilations of mythical stories, bizarre plots, absurd techniques, even propagating feudal superstitions, fatalism and reincarnation, ambiguous moral lessons, and a lack of positive thinking."

Yeah, that takes out Star Gate, Star Trek, and even Frankenstein.  Seven of Nine with her lusty nature?  Forget it.  How about Indiana Jones?  He's probably out as well.

I sat and pondered over this.  There's a bunch of guys at the very top of the leadership chain in China....who probably smoke Camel cigarettes, drink their Scotch straight, watch Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, and mostly chat about the finer points of tuning an outboard motor.  The more I thought about it....the more I liked the approach of these 75-year old Chinese guys who run China.

In 1966....there just wasn't much in terms of fantasy, time-travel, mythical stories, and reincarnation for TV shows or movies.  When Shane or Marshall Dillon shot you....you were pretty much dead.  The only mythical stories you got around to were King Arthur's Court.  The idea of a fantasy show like Lost?  The best we had was Mr Ed.

Yeah, I'm kinda leaning toward a Chinese concept here.  Sorry, I didn't want to rock the boat on you folks who need vampires, time-traveling lusty women, and alien invasions.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

The Fix to the Fix to the Fix

Typically, the last thing on Earth that a sitting President about to run for re-election would do twelve months out.....is promise to raise taxes.  Today, the promise came.  President Obama now says that the only way ahead for the nation to survive....is to raise taxes....and the target is the folks who make more than $250k.  Naturally, this would be approved by most Democrats and by most folks who make less than $250k.

Logically, you sit and pause over a strategy like this.  Most folks are completely safe.  In fact, if you make $30k a year on salary....it's a 99.9 percent chance that you absolutely pay no taxes whatsoever.

Most folks would listen to the suggestion and fall into a daze....readily agreeing that we just tax the big guys and everything else will fall into place.

Course, if you gazed over to the senators standing there and running for office next year.....they have to be scratching their head and wondering who will donate to their re-election campaign?  It wasn't the guy making $30k a year.  The computer technician making $80k a year might have given $100 to their campaign but that would be it.  The banker making $180k a year?  He might have donated $1k over to the Senator's campaign.  But the truth is....the $5k checks came from guys making $250k or more.

The governors running in 2012?  Well...they might need big bucks along the way, and these $250k or more salary folks....were the ones who carried the bulk of weight for these elections.

I'm going to make a guess that the only Senator this weekend to really hype the President's message is Harry Reid and those who don't have to run in 2012.  The rest of these guys are keeping their mouth shut and probably won't readily support the President's message unless they gets lots of government deals for their local counties or states.

What happens if the President gets his game lined up and actually passed?  It's a curious thing....some $250k guy comes along and donates $10k to the election campaign of some Senator.  The Senator writes a wonderfully written seven line piece of tax code and automatically invalidates the President's tax on some wealthy guy who owns a 30-acre horse ranch.  The rich guy gets a $50k credit on his empty ranch, or a $10k tax credit for his renovation of a barn, and then things go back to normal again.

Eventually, a bunch of Senators write lots of new tax code....giving out credits left and right for just about anything.

Two years into the President's next four years.....he suddenly says that that tax revenue isn't covering the requirements.  Strangely enough, he blames the wealthy yet again, and starts another campaign to tax the wealthy yet again.  Senator Snuffy smiles as he gets paid campaign money to fix the President's mess.

As hard as you can try to fix something....there's a guy out there to unfix what you fixed.  And behind that guy....there is another guy to fix what the first guy did to unfix your fix.  Bottom line: only in America.

Just a Moment of Fantasy

I'm used to those silly credit card offers that come in the mail about every three weeks.  Today, I got a new type of credit offer.  Amusingly enough....from my credit union.  I barely use these guys and it's strictly as a local spot to pick up cash at work when I need it (at the Pentagon).

Here was the envelope.....with a fresh new offer of a pre-approved $35k car loan.  I didn't ask for it and I would never go through these guys (they are typically 1 percent higher than most others).  They went to a fair amount of trouble....to think that I might be interested.

I actually stood there for twenty seconds....contemplating what kind of car I could get for $35k (there are eight various choices).  Then reality hit me....I just wasn't into the market for a car.

It's kinda sad.....this momentary enticement....like some gal at the bar with a tube top on and asking you with a thick New Orleans accent if you want a double gin and tonic this time around.  Somehow, I found enough strength to just shred the offer.  Sadly, now I stand and gaze out and stare at the star-studded Arlington evening sky and wonder what kind of car I would have bought....if I had just been weak enough.

The VP Game

Most folks have kinda figured out that Joe Biden will not be the 2012-nominee for VP.  The question is....who follows him to help float the ticket.  Last year, I was mostly leaning toward Hillary.  I figured this would be a helpful ticket if she was the VP.....and maybe giving her the chance to run in 2016.

I've come to think differently, and will offer up what I think will occur in July of next year....retired Indiana governor....Evan Bayh.  He stood down in the last election and simply elected to leave office.  He'll be 56 next year and probably is the least problematic political figure that the Democrats currently have.  In the midwest, he is fairly popular and could help in several states.  Toss in the fact that he gives good speeches....and I think he's the odds on guy to be VP after Joe.

The State of Things

There's an odd story that I picked up yesterday....that oddly relates to the status of the nation.

I have an associate who knew a number of ladies when he was in the Air Force about twenty years ago.  Amongst them.....this one gal who was into malls and socializing.  At some point, she and another young gal (both in their early 20's) made a Saturday bet at a mall....who could acquire the most credit cards in a space of a couple of hours.  Naturally, this meant applying for credit and buying items. The friend of hers picked up around nine credit cards....but that wasn't enough to win.....against eleven credit cards picked up in one day.

This ended up being a fateful day that started a spending trend over just a couple of years.  This young gal friend of my associate....eventually picked up over $80k of debt, and spent over a dozen years trying to pay this off.  It triggered a divorce eventually from a guy.

Oddly, when you look at the US government....we function more or less in the same fashion as the naive young lady.  We spent and spent, and we owe debt that is mostly unimaginable.  We have various financial analysts who talk about this on a daily basis on TV shows.....and we still see this as mostly unimaginable.  We have people elected to office who have one claim to fame.....they actually think we have spent too much.  Sadly, we have other folks who have been elected to office....who'd like more to spend more money, and folks are fairly entertained by his promises.

In a way, it's like some tragic Greek opera.  We don't have a fat lady, and there's some doubt over this coming to an end.  It just might linger for years and decades.  That's not the kind of opera that you'd pay to see.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

In My Neighborhood

Imagine you had a job which was fairly stressful and relied upon your knowledge and abilities being one hundred percent, and then.....you walked away for nine years.   You return, get a brief introduction to your old environment....in terms of a few days, and you end up crashing a subway car.  Pretty nifty, huh?

Today, the report finally came out over a Metro DC crash in 2010.....and it reads like a comical script.

The individual in question....came to METRO around 1976.  She eventually took up the job of subway driver around 1999.  Things went well for a year, and then in 2000....she had this stumble.  The best we can say is that she ended up with a injury that lasted almost nine years.

Year after year, she collected unemployment compensation and disability.  METRO was paying out the check.  A stumble injury that lasts nine years?  Yeah, that was the odd piece to this story.  I can't imagine someone having an ankle injury and using this for nine years.

So things continued at this rate until late 2009.  We don't have a full story here but I suspect that METRO finally said enough on the workman's compensation and forced her hand.  So she returned.  The curious thing is that METRO offered up a refresher course to bring her back onto duty.  On a scale of one to ten, my impression is that they offered up enough of a class that would fit for folks who had been out a year....maybe a five on my scale.  The problem is that she'd spent almost a decade out of action.

The safety board meeting demonstrates a huge screw-up by METRO, and even a bigger screw-up by the individual involved.  As for the gal involved now?  She got fired by METRO about two months after the accident.  The good thing is that no one died in the accident.  The bad thing is that a lack of confidence now exists with customers.

So a moment of advice here for you guys who contemplate long-term unemployment on an injury.  The day may very well come....where you finally see the gold ticket sinking fast and you have to return to your old profession.  Depending on the stress or complexity of that job.....you just might have become a threat to the lives around you, by wasting away on the couch for two years, five years, or ten years.  And you don't even realize the potential mess you've created.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Speed

There's a discussion going underway in Texas....to raise the speed limit to 85 mph.  Most Texans would approve of the measure.....with around thirty percent probably very negative.

If you've ever been to Texas....from end to end in a drive....you'd admit that it takes forever.  I've made this drive completely across on two occasions.  By the time you toss in a break....a lunch....and at least one fuel episode....you end up spending most of a day crossing the state.  This might cut out an hour....at best.

After fifteen years of driving around Germany....at speeds of even 90 and 100 mph.....I don't have a big deal with speed.  You need to drive at the speed you feel comfortable with and I suspect for most of us....it's 70 mph.  Toss in the fact that you need to have the right tires on the car....if you intend to go over 75 mph a majority of the time.  And finally, there is the vehicle and its condition.  You'd be stupid to drive a 1984 Pontiac at 85 mph, and it probably wouldn't be smart to drive a Jeep of any type at 85 mph.

The one thing I learned from the speed-driven Germans....if you get up around 85 to 90 mph....and have a blowout.....the odds are that you will crash and at least harm yourself.....and statistically, the odds are in your favor of harming a second vehicle.  In these type of accidents.....survival is 50-50.  If you were in a bigger vehicle or a Audi or Volvo.....you probably will survive, otherwise, you should have your will already finalized and let Karl Junior know that he will not get the fishing boat.

A Review: Letters From America

I spent the weekend reading through a 5-star book..."Letters From America".

It is a historical piece which might interest you.  There were these two French guys....Alexis de Tocqueville and his buddy Gustave de Beaumont, who were French lawyers....junior lawyers of the government, if we must admit.  Nobody remembers Gustave much....but Alexis ends up with this note in American history.  You see....these two guys were young and fairly bored with the French life that they'd been handed.  They cooked up this fantastic field trip in the 1830s....that they would go and find out how prisons in America functioned.  The French government didn't care as long as they weren't in a paid status.  Both were counting on their dads to cover the cost of this trip.

So they come to a young and vibrant America, and kinda discover that prisons are a bit unique....but the nation is just plain unusual.  The quotes from Alexis drive home this point.

As one digs deeper into the national character of the Americans, one sees that they have sought the value of everything in this world only in the answer to this single question: how much money will it bring in?
The Americans combine the notions of religion and liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive of one without the other.
The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.
The whole life of an American is passed like a game of chance, a revolutionary crisis, or a battle.
There is hardly a political question in the United States which does not sooner or later turn into a judicial one.

The two French gentlemen had this knack for observing and asking questions....and then they wrote what they saw.  Frankly, it's an observation that works in the 1830s and even 2011.

So if you were sitting around and curious how much (or really how little) we've changed in two hundred years....pick up a copy of Letters from America by Frederick Brown.  You might be entertained.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

What Would Have Been

In the early hours of today.....our little crew stood by the water cooler at work (in the bowels of the Pentagon) and dreamed of next week.  Forced onto furlough....we were dreaming of Nationals games next week.....trips to Atlantic City casinos.....and maybe even a trip to New York City.  Heck, why waste time....sitting at home....watching TV?  So on through the day.....we dreamed this mighty fantasy of just having fun.

Around 4PM, the bubble burst.

My boss called me.  They had decided that I was "essential" to operations.  It is a proud honor, to know from such a small group of folks....that I had been chosen to stand and work.  Dashed were my dreams of gambling in Atlantic City and afternoon baseball games across the river.  Gone were the dreams of drinking beer on the streets of DC, and watching afternoon movies at the local mall.

Its sad in a way.  At least I know I will be paid my regular check....at some point.  No one is sure about the folks sent home on Monday.  You can hope that congress will see the light and keep this short....and pay those folks their pay.  As for my activities during this period?  Well....it'll next to impossible to function with the vast majority of folks gone and sitting at home.  I really don't know how valuable I'll end up being and I'll probably be standing there and just laughing over the real meaning of "essential".

The positive here?  Between all these military folks and these few civilian workers selected as "essential"....we'll fight three wars and be damn proud of it.

Friday, 8 April 2011

From the News Today

Just some observations from life today in the news.  Someone had gone out and found a Woolworth's menu from the early 1960s.  You could have ordered a Banana Split for 39 cents.  Today....you can't touch one for less than $5.  Want a lunch of a ham sandwich?  It used to run 30 cents....today, you'd have to pay at least $1.50.  Makes you wonder how things will be in 2025.

Researchers out in California have come back and now insist that the amount of pollution in the air there, is causing brain disorders.  I sat and pondered over this for a minute after reading it....and then concluded I was in full agreement.  This would readily explain why so many crazy people live in California.  All that huffing of exhaust fumes.....just makes you "nutty California-like".  The neat thing is that you might be able to claim disability by age 40 and just sit around on the beach to be paid $3k a month state disability.

Up until January of this year in New York state....trying to strangle some guy was not a crime.  A wife could have strangled her husband, and the cops would just look the other way.  Now, if she slapped him....that would be different.  Well, the law changed, and it's a funny thing.....since January, there's been 2k arrests.  Cops are fairly busy now and the minute that you say your cousin tried to chock you......it's arrest time.  From the statistics so far, it's almost 95 percent men who have been charged.

We have a big argument brewing in Virgina around the Dulles airport (the 'big' airport west of DC).  For decades, folks have been waiting for METRO to finally reach the Dulles Airport....which is roughly twenty miles from DC.  The project is in the final stages of planning and there is this last piece of the puzzle (arrive above ground or below ground at Dulles).  If they plan this arrive above ground, then they save $300 million on costs.  Most regular folks were in agreement to do this.  In the last two days, the folks in charge voted, and they want it to terminate in the airport, below ground....cost an additional $300 million and taking a possible extra year of construction (minimum).  The county is furious and there's some hostile feelings over this amongst Virginia residents.  The need for the below-ground arrival?  Well...one comment from the METRO commission voting on this (they include DC folks, Maryland folks, etc)....is that this below-ground arrive would make them a "World-Class" airport.  I pondered upon this....trying to grasp how a tunnel subway made your airport hot-stuff, but I don't get it.  Meanwhile, no one knows where the extra $300 million will come from.

The New York Times finally put out a five-star article on bio-fuel and the rising costs of food.  Basically, they finally came to admit that this whole bio-fuel idea probably wasn't the brightest thing in the world, and it will create huge instability across the globe if bio-fuel isn't stopped.  The curious thing which they really didn't want to discuss in the article....is that American farmers are making huge profits off this rising food price situation.  And when farmers are happy....they shop at John Deere and the Tractor Supply Company (TSCO).  Naturally, both of those companies are making vast profits.

Just Some Observations

As part of this preparation for the government shutdown, it was commented that it is an actual violation of law.....if a government worker is furloughed (sent home) and he attempts to work (by email or Blackberry or just stopping at the government office for two minutes), then he is in violation of the law and could be charged with a crime.

Yes, only in America, could you be charged with a crime for working.

So, if my government building suddenly had a leak....unless the director (likely to be one of the few actually authorized to work) invites you over to look at the leak and advise, then you simply can't go or take any action to avoid structural damage.

I sat and pondered over this.  It's a state of mind that we didn't have back before the 1950s.  This is something that we've developed in the past thirty years.  We apparently feel good about this attitude and no one ever questions it.

As for the guys who triggered this event?  This is another interesting observation.  There was a hint that they would work through the weekend, but they also hinted that Easter recess is coming up and they might take a minimum of three days off for that.  Personally, I'd like two simple rules in place.....not a single Senator or Representative to appear on camera or in some TV news episode until they've passed a budget.....and number two....no days off (except Sunday morning services at some church).

The fact that the Republican house offered to pass another continuing resolution to get through seven more days, and the President just said "no"....he'd veto that, is probably the part that makes this most comical.

They were supposed to pass this back in August and September of last year.....and never did.  As we entered October, there should have been Presidential leadership then.....but it never showed.  It should have been fixed by Christmas, but never was.  It should have been fixed by mid-Feburary, but never was.  It would be a plus if the President had negotiation skills but it's becoming more apparent that he really lacks these.  I think the original intent of using VP Joe Biden to help things progress might have been wishful thinking.  Joe would have to act on the President's behalf and I doubt that the President's inner circle would ever allow that to happen.  Joe's job was just to appear, smile, and carry on a conversation.....and I doubt that he was supposed to do little more than report back to the inner circle.

Finally, my last observation.  the comical thing here is that guy who is furloughed and wanted to go visit Idaho for possibly three weeks....could now go and likely get paid full pay during this period while off on vacation.  The problem is....you just don't know how many days this will last.  The idiots might find an answer by Tuesday next week, and by Thursday....we are back.   Free vacation.....paid like work?   Only in America.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Spring is Here

They waited, and waited, and waited.  And finally when the winds of Spring had arrived (April)....they finally could let the cat out of the bag.  Yes, the President is running for re-election now.

It's a great period.  He can now campaign 24-7 from April of 2011 until November 2012.

If you had to go out and look at the last twelve presidents....this is the only one that likely wanted election campaigning to be a full-time job.

My humble guess is that there will be a minimum of three major events each week for the rest of this year.  A major interview will be tossed out each week to printed press, blogs, or national TV.  His wife will be seen more often and likely have a speech each month in some major American city.

Too early?  I suspect that the 4-star speech bucket is mostly empty and you might see two or three of these for the remainder of this year.  If you have any great material left....you'd best save until the real heat of October 2012.

The plus-up of the government shut-down?  Here's the deal which makes this radically different from the previous experience.  We are seven months into this financial year for the government.  The President, and the Democrats were oddly standing there in July of 2010 with a budget to push....and never pushed it.  As October of 2010 rolled around....with all of the necessary votes lined up....nothing could be accomplished.  With the election in full swing....nothing was accomplished.  After the election.....nothing was accomplished.  Curiously, we are fairly close to May when you start start forming up the next financial year budget and start talking votes for that.

Frankly, there's a bunch of grinning going on as some folks think it'll go badly for the Republicans now.  Independents aren't exactly buying that, and you might worry a bit.  You really don't want another dozen Democratic senators tossed because of a government shut-down and the way people perceived the mess.

There is this mythical point where a guy does too much campaigning, and everything starts to slide off his plate because people have lost genuine interest in the words spoken or promises made.  With a April 2011 start, I might think about that and really limit my exposure for the next five months.  There's no need to be aggressive in Iowa or New Hampshire.  Well....unless you know someone is out there to run as a Democrat against you.  That would be a curious thing....if it were a serious contender and the cause of a early entry.

What Goes Around, Comes Around

If you live in DC....outside of the "capital-zone"....then you have to have a District temporary resident parking permit.  Otherwise, you get towed.  This is a familiar deal for folks around the District.  I sat on the bus one day (within Arlington), and two gals got into a discussion as they were going to work.  They knew each other and had simply bumped into one another for the first time in six months.  So one asked the other why she wasn't driving any longer, and the response was....the tows.  After three tows in one month.....she basically gave up and bought a Metro-card and simply went via the bus and subway to work in DC.  Towing.....is part of life....if live or work in the District.

Today....towing and parking became another major topic of discussion.  The city's "at-large" councilman.....Michael Brown....put a bill into city council to deny students with out-of-state tags a chance to get temporary resident parking permit.

Now I realize that your first question here.....what the heck is a "at-large" councilman?  Well....in DC....rather than have nine districts to have the appropriate number of councilman to vote on something....they decided eight were enough, and then created this mythical guy who was "at-large".  So the whole city votes on this every four years....to have this guy run around to represent the city itself....and not just your district of the district.  I know....it makes little sense.

The neat deal about Brown's bill is that it's making every single kid who drove up to attend one of the seventeen colleges in the District.  Shocking?  Seventeen?  The more shocking part of this deal is that only one of the seventeen is a public college where regular students would go.  The one public college?  University of the District of Columbia.....and almost no idiot in America....from outside of the District....would dare waste their time or money getting a degree from this college.

The rest of these seventeen colleges are all upscale private colleges...where there is no out-of-state tuition deal.  You will pay a $35k a year tuition deal for most of these.  So Brown's agenda to make kids turn into a District resident to get the temporary parking sticker?  He's not worried at all at making them district residents or offering them in-state tuition at their one joke of a university for the district.

It's kind of comical.  You force the kid to hand over $72 just to register the vehicle for one year.  Toss in the zone sticker....and you start looking at hundreds of dollars that the kid might have to pay for one year living in the district (the zone might be a more appropriate term to use).  So this might be another $400 a year which flows from the rich kid and his parents....into the pockets of the District.

So let me pull the curtain back a bit.  It's interesting....the District is short on its pot of money by $322 million.  They can't cut anymore or they start to get stares from residents who are expecting things from the city.  So just getting one thousand rich kids to fess up....equals $400k.  I'm guessing the District is hoping that 30k students around the city fall into this category.  This would pump $12 million into the district and bring them one step closer to their budget goal.

So the hope here...is that a bunch of oddball characters on the city council simply pass this and quickly move on.  Then you hope that no one brings this up in court.

I sat and pondered over this.  Out of thirty thousand kids affected (my humble guess)....I think ten thousand don't even have a car and make due with subway or bus.  The rest might decide to get creative.  If Dad held the title of the car and he came up to the District and said he wanted a temporary parking pass....the idiots might question Dad for a moment, but then he'd just respond that he's there for cancer treatment and everyone would shut up then.  The kid gets his temporary parking pass and life goes on....without a bunch of money arriving to save the District from its woes.

The comical thing at the end of this day....is the comment that Micheal Brown made when a reporter asked if taking away the student's congressional representation in congress upset him (the District has no representation)....his response?  "I'm not sure if they'll be upset or not, but that's part of being a resident here, and this is part of the process".

Yeah, so for you punk rich kids attending a big-name university in the District....get real.  You need to be District folks.....one way or another.  But it's a funny thing....the minute you register your car and become a Washington resident....there's a card at the counter....to register to vote.  If thirty thousand of you out-of-district rich punks registered and an election came around....suddenly, you'd have a swing vote.  You could dump the mayor in one big swoop.  You could dump the "at-large" dude, in one swoop.  You could dump your district district's councilman, in one swoop.

What Brown may have created is this temporary fix to bring some badly needed funds....but he just might have undone the District's method of voting for idiots when city elections come around.

Only a humble suggestion.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

At What Point?

This past couple of months have been rather interesting with the US federal budget and its continuing resolution episode.  This week, we actually appear now headed toward shutting down the government.  Naturally, this has both Republicans and Democrats all upset.  Both are ensuring that you get the opinion that it's the other causing this, and that terrible things might happen unless you either cut the budget to accept things or just shut down the government.

I sat and pondered over this odd point in American history...shutting down the government.  If you had come up in 1790 and suggested that the US government might shut down....no one would have cared and it might have earned three paragraphs on the front page of the Charleston local newspaper.

In fact, for the next one hundred years....the effect of the US government and its operations to run your life really don't matter.  Other than the printing of money.....no one would have cared.

At some point in the 1920s, with taxation now underway....there would have finally have been this key part of the US government that might have had a slight link to us.

In the 1930s....the "new deal" came along and several government service organizations popped up.  Social Security arrived.  The National Park Service became this big reality.  Soil conservation efforts by the government were going on all over the US.  A shutdown might have earned a eight paragraph effort on the front page by this point.

As we trudged off into the 1950s....the government continued to build on services within the medical profession, aircraft inspections via FAA, air traffic control, and drug research to ensure only the right drugs were put on the market.

Today, you can toss on the TSA folks and government legal folks helping to push the NFL strike to a quick conclusion.

I suspect up until the early 1970s.....the vast majority of us would have cared little for the shutdown and just skipped any news of this for the sports section.  The truth be known....almost fifty percent of us care about this today.  If we were to be traveling next week....the TSA part to this puzzle, along with the air traffic controllers....might matter.  After that, it might only be a small matter for another twenty-five percent of us.

Who cares the most?  The actual folks who work for the government, and the media who uses this to attract more viewers to the network, blog site, or newspaper.  That's the sad woeful truth about this matter.  The vast number of folks just don't care.

So as someone stands around the water cooler today and wants to hype this up as a topic....stop them in their tracks and ask when it really mattered.  Make them pause and think about this.  When your cousin comes over to share a beer in the garage while you are changing your winter tires over to summer tires, and he drags up the government shutdown....ask when it really started to matter.

The more you think about this....the more I suspect that you will agree that life without government operations for a week or two....probably doesn't matter much.  If we were lucky and cut the heat and electricity off during that period, we might actually save some money while this was underway.

Oh, and if you were wondering when our interest in government shutdown really started to pick up?  Well...it's strangely enough when cable TV news and CSP*N came along.  Think about that.