Tuesday, 31 May 2011

The Scenario with Johnny Junior

This is a scenario to kinda explain the end result of this blog.  

There's this kid....Johnny Junior....who has a computer and is hooked up to the internet.  Johnny Junior is fairly bored and ends up with a couple of chat-buddies who explain how to hook up into a university server in Mexico City.  Not that it really matters about permissions or such....Johnny Junior has simply acquired a log-on and password.  

For a day or two, Johnny Junior plays around....inflates some grades at this Mexican university, and then he finds out this method to go from this place to a Brazilian hotel server....where he books rooms for some Phoenix couple....the Sines.  

Johnny Junior bores himself after a day or two with the hotel, and moves onto this Bombay university server which has lots of science data over weather data....which he changes various temperatures and weather patterns from the 1988-1990 period.  This will later be used by some scientists to prove global warming occurred in India.

Johnny Junior then moves onto a Thai suitcase factory server....where he arranges for a forty-percent decrease in production overnight, and triggers a new panic with management over numbers which don't make sense.  

Then Johnny Junior discovers this neat Chinese factory server, which he can use and then connect to a Chinese military server.....all via a Swiss beer company server, and back through a Delta Airlines maintenance server to his house.  

Johnny Junior then decides to conduct cyber warfare against the US government....the SEC....over a three-hour period.  

Over the next twenty-four hours....the US goes nuts, because this tracks all the way back to some server within the Chinese military....and it has to be an evil intent involved.

So we come to 31 May 2011.  The US military is now debating the idea of calling cyber warfare....real warfare....and possibly punishing in some fashion.  This might actually involve military might being brought against the Chinese in some fashion.  This is not part of the scenario....it is an actual topic that the US military is now discussing.

So you stand there and start to worry that some idiots in the US military.....might actually react to something....and only weeks later discover it was some kid....Johnny Junior....sitting in a basement room of a house in Topeka, Kansas.....who almost caused them to start some worldly conflict. 

Just something to ponder.....as we talk war strategy and such....in this modern world.  

Simply Observations

We had a couple of odd events reported today.

First, in DC....the Mayor came out and wanted everyone to know that we needed two more levels of executive pay (the first at $225k a year and the second at $279k a year).  A number of folks on his staff were really excited about this new significant increase in pay.  Course, the fact that the DC government is nearly bankruptcy every month....didn't occur to them.  One of the city council folks stood up and finally noted that these two newly suggested pay levels....would actually pay more than cabinet secretaries make working for the President, and it would appear that everyone kinda quieted down a bit.  My belief is that this idea was a 7-minute concept....that lived and disappeared within this brief period.

OxFarm came out and suggested that food prices will actually double in twenty years and this is a terrible thing.  I pondered upon this....and if it was only double....man, that'd be a relief.  Man, I'm betting on a triple-growth situation in twenty years.

Eddie Long has fixed his issue.  For those of you who aren't familiar with Eddie....he's a hot minister of sorts over 25k folks in Atlanta.  The king of mega-churches in the region.  Eddie got in trouble last year when a gentleman or two came up and said that Eddie was having relations with them.  This kinda ended up in court....and today....quietly....the two groups ended their conflict.  Eddie basically paid off the guys....or his ministry did.....take your pick.  The church elders haven't said much of anything, and I'm guessing they'd like for Eddie to continue on....so their condo arrangements are secure.

The story finally got out today that Libya had $1.3 billion with Goldman Sachs.....in a currency investment deal....and lost 95 percent of it around fifteen months ago.  Libya got pretty upset about the deal....called Goldman Sachs to come and explain things.  So two guys fly over.  Funny thing.  It took about an hour for the two guys to hit the emergency button and some quick reaction force swooped them up and got them out of danger.  Goldman Sachs isn't saying much about this report in the Wall Street Journal.  So it brings us to ask how we got into this current Libya mess now....and if some Goldman Sachs guys are behind the White House tough talk.  The odds?  Well....it just might be better than fifty-fifty.

Finally, after the earthquake in Haiti.....there were some great numbers about folks dead from the event.  Well....it's finally come out that the numbers were fairly inflated.  The original numbers?  Over 300k people. The new numbers?  Between 46k and 85k dead.  Why the difference?  It helped produce way more aid than what you'd normally plan for.  As for punishment?  Nothing.  You can fabricate just about anything you want these days....and there's no punishment for a significant lie.

The Government Diet

Way back....twenty years ago....a bunch of smart government guys got up and decided that they needed to tell us what we needed to eat.  Naturally, it had to be in a special shape....so we would remember this.  So, they chose the Food Pyramid.

Years have passed, and the Obama administration has decided that it now has smarter folks than what we had twenty years ago.....and they want to design a whole new scheme for what people ought to eat.

The new symbol....reportedly, will be a plate-shaped item.....and will have half the plate containing fruits and vegetables.

Cheese won't be mentioned....but according to one report.....there will be a spot for low-fat milk or a yogurt cup.

Does this mean anything?  No, for most of us....we never listened to the government in the first place.  Kids?  Well....some teachers will drag this out and quote the government in some fashion.....telling kids that pizza is evil and that bacon and sausage ought to be skipped entirely.

My honest belief is that around 2030.....we will get another Presidential administration....which will evaluate things, and probably give us a whole new view of the proper food groups.  And by 2050.....another Presidential administration....which will give us another entire view of the proper food groups.  If you sense things continually changing....yeah....that would be the right thing to perceive.

When and if you ever need the government telling you what to eat.....you might want to ask if there's a type of toilet paper that you ought to be using as well.  At that point....you will simply grin and start laughing.

The revised pyramid is part of the administration's crusade against obesity, led by first lady Michelle Obama.

A Day at the Park

 I spent the day over at the Nationals Park....watching a game between them and the Phillies.  Naturally, the Phillies won.

It was the first game that I had attended since 1994 (Royals).  It's an interesting experience.  The Metro dumps you off within 500 feet of the stadium.....so you don't have to park there ($35).  You can walk right up....no crime or weird folks to fight your way through.

It's mostly a new park (the Nationals came from Montreal, if you don't know baseball history)....although there's almost nothing to connect to the old Expos team.  At the front of the stadium are three statues....Frank Howard (the old Washington Senator #3 team), Josh Gibson (from the city's old black team of the 1920s and 1930s), and Walter Johnson from Washington Senator #1 team).  Yeah, no statues from the Expo era.

Course, you might note this era one, two, and three of the Washington Senators.  Yeah, the teams never won much of anything and they never made any real money because people simply didn't attend.  They all ended up leaving.  I'm not saying its an indicator of things, but it wouldn't surprise me in ten years when the team finally admits it can't make a profit in DC......and leaves.  The different between the old teams and this one?  Lots of private areas for VIPs to sit and drink booze with congressmen and senators....and they make the stadium lots of money.

As for the park?  I ended up paying around $40 for a ticket on the mid-level.  To be honest....it was smart because the sun was out and at least I had a bit of cover.

The food and drinks?  I paid $14.25 for a chilli dog, fries and medium Coke.  Later, I paid $8 for a Bud Lite.  Toward the end of the game....when I got pretty dehydrated....I finally bought some alcohol slushy drink....for $12.  Frankly, it's a fair amount of money for just one guy to spend on two hours of baseball.

The highlight of the day?  I stood and watched some couple buy their five-year old kid one of those 18-inch imitation baseball bats.  The kid proceeded to whack the guy (probably the dad, I can assume) on the knee with this little bat and must have hurt like heck for several minutes.

The sad thing is that guy could have brought the wife and two kids out....in their car....and probably spent over $350 for an afternoon baseball game.  That's a fair amount of money....for two hours of entertainment.  I can't say it's a wise investment.....but it's the state of baseball in America today.

Monday, 30 May 2011

For the DC Tourist

Down by the Iwa Jima statue in Arlington (by the cemetery)....there is the Dutch "Bell" Memorial.  Of the 500-odd memorials or statues around DC.....this probably near the bottom of the list of "must-see".  From a distance, it will interest you.  As you get near.....the rust stands out.

Whoever sat and designed the "bells"....probably should have studied up on rust and the necessity of maintaining a monument like this.

At the rate of things....I doubt that this monument is still standing in thirty years.

So if you are around the Iwa Jima Memorial and see some rusty-colored tower nearby.....that's the "bells".

The Single-Wide Issue

It has been a number of days since the Bama tornado business, and folks are to the point of establishing their temporary home until the old house is rebuilt.  Down in Cordova....outside of Birmingham about thirty miles....folks woke up this week to a curious episode where single-wide house trailers are forbidden by the town's ordnance.  This all came up because FEMA offered up trailers free to some folks.

The simple side to this.....some years ago....the Mayor, who is still in office....got this regulation put into place which forbid single-wide trailers from being brought in.  You were safe if you were already in town.....or if you were going to bring in a double-wide trailer.  But single-wides were hereby forbidden.

Naturally, some folks are now engaging the town council and they are a bit livid in how this worked out in the end.  So far, the Mayor is not backing down.  

Here lies the problem....which most folks from Bama will engage in and feel some hostility toward the single-wide trailer issue.  In the beginning when single-wides were being bought and delivered in Bama in the 1960s/1970s....there was some landscaping done, with a half-way decent driveway (maybe river-rock...maybe concrete or asphalt).    By the end of the 1970s however....folks started to just plant a single-wide on some property....just dumping it.  There was no thinking or planning....just plant it. 

As time went by.....neighbors and locals began to have this negative attitude about single-wide trailer folks. I'd hate to attach "welfare" to anyone with single-wides....but Bama folks tended to start thinking that way. 

By the mid-1990s.....double-wides began to arrive in Bama....and folks were putting some landscaping efforts into these and made them look "planned".  They would put in a driveway, and plant a few trees.  So eventually, the double-wide crowd was accepted.

So today....much to the amusement of anyone visiting in Bama.....you might bring up this topic of single-wide versus double-wide and find this odd group of people hating one and accepting the other.  The folks in Cordova area likely the same way.  

My guess is that the Mayor will be forced to accept the single-wide FEMA trailers one way or another.....or be forced out.  The problem is that you probably do have folks who want to live on their property for the next two years while they renovate their old house and bring it back to life.  The single-wide trailer makes sense. And if folks start to leave them permanently.....well.....there's not much you can say or do.  

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Real Hail

There's an interesting picture today of a chunk of hail that fell in Oklahoma a couple of days ago.  If you look at the size....it's about the size of a melon.  Weight?  They didn't say....but I'd guess at least ten pounds.

Naturally, being from Bama, I sat and pondered over the possibility that you'd be standing outside your house and thinking that a couple of small pieces of hail wouldn't matter much....and you get whacked in the head with this chunk.

It'd likely knock you unconscious and your trailer gal....Wanda....would likely call the ambulance.  You'd be coming around five hours later at the local hospital and blabbering about demons and the smell of hay for some reason.  They'd use a picture to show you this big huge knot on your head.  Hopefully, your gal Wanda kept this chunk as evidence....otherwise, you'd be thinking she whacked you with the baseball bat.

Iran

If you follow the news....there is an item of significance sitting there about Iran this weekend.  Apparently....the masters of control....the Mullahs....are now taking various steps toward cutting off the world's internet from Iran.....so that they'd just get Iranian internet, pure and clean of course.

The idea is that they would sell this to the public with the concept of it being a cost-saving episode for regular folks....and of course, this would be fine for Muslim moral values.

I sat there a while pondering this.  You'd basically cut off all internet traffic going into the country, thus fixing things?  All this would take is some kid with a $200 modem....calling up some neighboring country, and then hooking his phone up to be a funnel to bring real worldly internet to these poor folks.

You can imagine some techno geek sitting in front of a mullah and saying sure.....we can cut off the world traffic....and just grinning because the mullahs don't even have a grasp of technology.

So millions will be spent on this business.  Mullahs will chat in the evenings about how they will finally cut off Iranians from Southpark, the Atlanta Braves, and YouTube.  People will sit for hours and hours.....thinking that they have "the power", and that it's a simple task.  But in the end....they will have given the techno geeks hundreds of millions to create a private internet, and then found that they were made fools in the process.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

The Problem With Medicare

This is my moment of reality and introducing you to the woes of Medicare.

In the 1960s when Medicare was designed and conceived....the age of expected death was just around 70 years old, and your local doctor, clinic or hospital had fairly limited arsenal of things to keep you alive.  They could give you a simple x-ray....they could devise one or two treatments for cancer which had a usual 50-50 chance of survival....and they could give you some simple painkillers for various ailments.

Today, the expected point of death is around 77 years old.  Your local doctor?  Well....he's got problems because the operation is no longer view & treat.....he's a legit business now.  He likely has a junior partner and has to set aside a fair amount of salary.  He has a front-desk gal and a records gal.....who both require a minimum of $25k each, with benefits such as healthcare and leave.  He's renting a fine building, keeping it up and invested a fair sum of money into the furniture.  He has at least $1 million in medical hardware in the building.  He has malpractice insurance.  He has four bright nurses who he has to pay between $30k and $45k for each.  He has property taxes to pay if he owned the building.  He has state and federal taxes to pay for himself.

For you?  Well....there over fifty different varieties of painkiller now.  If your local doctor sends you onto a cancer specialist.....he's got various ways of attacking your cancer....and you can expect at least $15k to be burned up in ninety days easily....it's likely to even be more than $25k.

The pills that he might prescribe to a 65-year old guy who smoked and drank a fair amount in life, and has various ailments?  The guy might be getting at least twelve different drugs every quarter.  The cost involved?  It might be $250 if he utilized Wal-Mart's cheap generic drug deal.....or $1500 if he went for full value.

So these medical bills get generated for the doctors, and Congress began to figure this out about a decade ago.....and just started limit what a doctor could charge for Medicare folks.  They figured that would stop the issues.

So after a couple of years of this limit....doctors began to prioritize.  They were willing to give up profits....to play with the system.  Then they got to a point where they said....there will be this max of maybe 250 Medicare patients....maybe 300 Medicare patients.....maybe even 400 Medicare patients....but then no new ones.

Folks are calling to find their old doctor retired, and when they try to find a new doctor to accept Medicare.....it's taking two or three calls before they find a guy.  By 2020, I'm guessing that you might have to call through five to seven doctors before you find a guy who will accept Medicare appointments.

Your political friends.....Republican or Democrat?  They mostly stand there and grin.  They accuse each other of "killing Medicare".  They shout during political election period and get elderly folks upset.  They spend money on TV's advertisements during Jeopardy....to scare you older folks.

The blunt truth?  We can edge the Medicare costs onto the worker, and bump it up a notch.  We can keep this going for another decade or two.  But at some point, some dimwit is going to ask how you continue with this scheme.  And the answer is.....you will eventually hit a wall.

We don't exactly have a plan B.  Nor could you devise a plan B that would work in this case.  When you have a patient who sees their doctor eight times a year, gets various care situations, and checks into the hospital for days or weeks at a time.....then they will consume $8k of healthcare in a year easily.  And we haven't even discussed drugs.

Our continual end result will be to slightly push up the percentage we take from workers to make Medicare work.  There's really nothing much else that the political guys can do.....to change things.  They can talk about limits on the doctors....but when folks start to find impossible to schedule Medicare appointments....then the whole game falls apart.

So we are stuck.  In fact, the only help in this case would be to have cigarettes and booze with no taxes attached for anyone over sixty-five....to help them depart a little quicker in life.   Course, that would upset the kinder folks and suggest that we are desperate.  I'd see it a bit different....we all will waste more money in our youth to keep the old guys going....that we used to use toward paying on our mortgage.  A percent here, a percent there....but it all adds up.

So there, that's the simple truth on healthcare and Medicare.

The Woes of Bama

This week....some Bama folks woke up and came to realize that they have a big-time employee on the Bama state payroll....working for the governor....as the assistant finance director in charge of technology for the state....and he's a Texas resident.

By Texas resident, I mean that he flies into Bama on Wednesday morning....and leaves Friday night....back to Texas.  The gentleman in question....Rex McDowell....takes home $173k a year for this job.

Naturally, you'd be asking some questions here.  First, he has various projects which he does off his laptop back in Texas on Monday and Tuesday....thus keeping him fairly busy.  Second, he pays for his flights out of his own pocket....which you can figure it adds up to $1k a month.  Third, there really isn't a rule that says Bama state employees must be living in Bama.  Fourth, yes.....he is registered to vote in Texas, if you were curious.

Some Bama folks are a bit upset by this.  They usually assume all state employment positions are held by state residents.  I'm going to take an educated guess that you might find another dozen at the state level who might live in Florida, Georgia or Tennessee (sorry Mississippi).  I don't see the residence being such a big deal.  You've got various folks who own condos in Orlando or Nashville.....and leave for a week at a time anyway.

We could take this to the silly level of worrying about county employees who actually live outside of the county they are employed by.

Course, the other curious objection to this guy....is that he owns a software company, and he admitted in public that thirty percent of his life is still involved with that organization.  Now, that might be a curious thing to admit....considering that you are a major player in state purchases of technology.

The positive of all of this?  Well....thank God, he's not Canadian and flying back to Ottawa every Friday.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Stupid Acts of Rich Men

Rich men have always done stupid things to use as benchmarks in their lives and to always use as sales points.

Today, Intrade founder John Delaney died about 180 feet away from the top of Mount Everest.  He would have been number 3,527 on the list to have made it to the top.  Instead....he's just another dead guy who threw aways tens of thousands to have a special status tied to his name.  He started to show signs of major problems about an hour or two before his death....and just wouldn't give up.  It was probably already too late.  So he gets a special status now....it's too dangerous to drag the body down....so they will just pack him under some snow, and he'll be left there as another dead guy on the mountain.

I don't have alot of sympathy for folks like this.  They waste their money to have this status tied to them.  They want the picture of themselves on the mountain....which they blow up and put on their office back home.  They chat about the experience like some mad monkey from Bangkok.

It would have been just as impressive to have said you walked the entire Lewis & Clark route or walked the entire border of Tennessee...and been 100 times safer. If you ask me...a wasted life experience at the end.

The sad thing.....there are three hundred guys lined up at the bottom of the summit....to make their trek.  Some will say enough when they make it eighty percent to the top.  It's like some tourist event at a boa constrictor snake pit.  You are simply waiting to see who dies next.  Meanwhile, some guy is sitting in Knoxville....writing up his $70k check to a private company who will tote him to the top next year.  If I were his wife....I'd go ahead and take out a $10 million dollar policy now.

Our Neighborhood Cops

This is what we know. A couple of days ago in DC....we had some guy in a motorized wheelchair who was sipping beer. We don't know how much but there is the feeling that maybe he was on at least the second or third beer of the day. Anyway....cops arrive...and they've decided that they've got a DWI with the wheelchair.

The cops then proceed to toss him to the ground. If you watch carefully....he's bloodied up a good bit.

The after-action situation....well...they put the two cops on office work for a while in hopes of finding the "truth" to the matter.

What is fascinating here? They don't want the camera guy around after they've screwed up. They are mostly wannabe cops who don't think or operate ahead of events. Both will end up working over in Prince George's county, Maryland within six months....that's my feeling.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

When a Nickel isn't a Nickel Anymore

There was an interesting article over at the Wall Street Journal yesterday....talking about school fees and how they are going upward.

One kid (Kansas) has a $235 enrollment fee, with supply fees at the school going as high as $65 a class.

Another kid had a $150 fee per sport.

Another kid had a $350 fee to join a chess club.

Another kid had a $200 fee to join up with the Students Against Drunk Driving (I assume none of it will be used for booze, but it might as well have).

Another kid had to chuck out $85 to write for a school literary magazine.

Another kid's mom came to discover that the school had cancelled out calculus for his senior year....which would have torn up his chances of getting a "fine" university (Princeton, Yale, etc).  So she paid out $850 to enroll the kid in a online calcuus class to get the right credit.

Another kid had to pay out $263 for various exams and $3,990 to anticipate in the school's cross-country track club and band.

I read through this entire article (rather lengthly, but worth the read).  I feel blessed in a way of having attended school in Bama in the 1970s....and other than the $5 a year fee for paper & chalk, that was typically it.  At some point...prior to the 1970 period, the school ran a talent-like show once a year and collected around $500 which was sufficient for the whole school and it's paper requirements.  Basketball?  Nothing.  FAA?  Well, they ran a orange-sales deal in November and took in at least $3k to cover all the expenses they needed.

The sad thing here is that we are starting to have a case where some bright kids are going to be left behind on various school activities....because dad screwed up and lost his life savings with some dimwit insurance salesman.  Or mom's part-time job at Pizza Hut is just enough to cover the gas that the kid burns up each week in their 1992 Chevy that barely runs.

The way that things are going....we will eventually charge each kid $8 a year just to ensure enough toilet paper is around.  Kinda sad if you think about it.

The Change in Eating?

It was an odd piece of admitting in public today.....Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg....the boy wonder....finally came out and admit that he now only eats....what he kills.

He came to this decision to be humble and thankful for the food we have to eat.  This is an American attitude that we used to have back in the 1700s.  You ate fresh meat or pork or fish everyday, and tossed in a few vegetables.  Life was simple, and we revolved around just killing what you needed for your family or yourself.  

So Mark goes on to admit that he's eating healthier foods now.....and even starts to admit that he's into sustainable farming and raising of animals.

The truth of the matter is that we really didn't have vegetarianism go big-time until the past forty years.  There were always the folks who touted the idea but frankly....if you lived an active lifestyle....you just couldn't survive without some beef, chicken, pork or fish in your diet.

Will this change anything?  Well....some folks might actually get into this sustainable farm business, and start to think long-term in the concept of having five acres....a couple of goats and chickens.....a garden.....maybe an above-ground pool where you keep forty trout, and think in a different manner.  I'm not going to suggest this will catch on....but you might find a couple thousand folks thinking this way by the end of the year....if Mark does it.

The Difference in 300 Years

Three centuries ago....if you were a scientist or man of knowledge, and you wanted to proclaim a discovery....you got dragged in front of the Catholic Church or the government.   You had to establish your facts, lay out how you came to this logic, and you were peer-reviewed in the extreme fashion.  In most cases, your discovery was denied and you just went home knowing that they were idiots.

In the 1800's....things started to change.  If you were a scientist or man of knowledge....you'd put on a show for the public....publish all your data in a science journal.....and then stand a fair amount of public ridicule by your fellow men of knowledge.

Up until about the 1980s.....it was typical that you published a discovery and backed it up with a fair amount of data.  If you wanted acceptance....you had to allow people to see your raw data.  Shockingly enough.....guys like Einstein were peer-reviewed.  Even today, there are Einstein theories that are not 100 percent completely endorsed by the science community.  But to be honest, they haven't been totally disproved either.

This week.... compliments of the Guardian Newspaper in the UK.....we learn that scientists there in the UK are angry and disturbed about public requests, via the British Freedom of Information Act, that people and organizations can now demand the evidence on how you came to your discovery....including the raw data.

Who are these angry men of knowledge?  Mostly all global warming enthusiasts.

It's a curious thing....there was an investigation that centered on problems with global warming reports by government-funded scientists.  The guy in charge of this review?  Muir Russell, who happens to be a former civil servant.  At the end of his review....his chief comment over the men of knowledge was: "consistent pattern of failing to display the proper degree of openness".  Basically....they weren't worried about public or peer review.  They figured it'd all be accepted, period.

I sat and pondered over this for a while.  The amusing thing is that these guys want a "pass" and actually want more privileges than what Einstein himself had.  At the end of each report....they could easily put all their data onto a web site and allow everyone to come and review it.....but they don't seem to want that opportunity.

My guess is that these guys all have graduated via a university system where peer review and openness over data simply wasn't discussed.  These guys partied, studied, passed the tests, and were then noted as "men of knowledge".  The truth is....they pretty much don't want you to know how they arrive at fascinating discoveries.....and they certainly don't want a housewife in Oklahoma City or a peanut farmer in Red Bay, Bama.....to study their findings or find issues.  In essence, they don't want peer review.

For some reason, I am amused by the attitude.  Three hundred years ago....the church would have brought them in....been extremely upset by the attitude, and likely spanked them in some public ritual.  Today, you just get your name in the newspaper....mostly grinning.....after you refuse to be peer reviewed.  Either way, you lose your "man of knowledge" identifier.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Just the Thought

It was one of those strange televised events today....the nut from Arizona who wounded congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords....was brought into the court chamber.  The judge listended intently and was told that the guy is a nut and too incompetent to stand trial.  This guy.....Jared Lee Loughner....then went nuts and the federal marshals had to drag him out.  His one comment that was recorded: "Thank you for the freak show. She died in front of me."

The judge said that he'd allow a three-month period to pass before going to the next phase....another evaluation, and then possibly forgetting about charges and just committing the guy to a permanent facility.

I've come to a point in my life where I think folks ought to be forced in front of a judge the minute that anyone....a minister, a teacher, a librarian, a cop, or even a striptease model.....says that you are an actual nutcase.  You get seven days at a local facility and have to take a competency test to prove you actually can function.  If you can't.....you lose your freedom for a year and spend it in a state mental hospital.  Every year after that....you get another evaluation.

Yes, I guess we would be locking up twenty thousand Americans each and every year.  Yes, it would cost every state a fair amount of money.

The problem is....just in the state of Bama....there are at least three hundred folks who ought to be completely locked up because they are a threat to innocent people.  That number grows each and every year.  Some folks would want to talk about the problems of putting innocent folks into a mental facility, but my rational sense says that if you don't.....eventually, they will bring harm to someone that doesn't deserve it.

This Arizona kid?  Well....he'll convince the judge within a year to permanently place him in a secure facility.  Maybe in ten to fifteen years.....he might actually get out when he's been doped up enough and learns to act rational.  The curious thing here...the parents have to sit there and realize that he could have just as easily killed them one evening....for turning his World of Warcraft off or his cartoons.....and frankly, that would probably make you sit and ponder long and hard over.

Simply Observations

John Edwards.  If you had told me five years ago that John would be facing federal charges and could potentially get some jail-time....I would have laughed.  Today, it's very likely that John will be convicted.  I'm not yet convinced of real jail-time....it'd be a waste to put this guy into some nice four-star federal prison for eight months....over paying his girlfriend not to brag about their kid to the press while he was running for President.  The interesting thing here is that he came fairly close in the process to becoming a big contender for vice-president.  So you could imagine a scenario here where we'd have a crisis in the White House today....if Obama had selected him for his VP.

Mercedes in Germany has a team that apparently monitors Facebook, Twitter, and other sites.  Don't ask why, but these guys came up on a comment made about the German Chancellor (Merkel) and the the CEO of Mercedes.  Basically, the original comment made was that both Merkel and the CEO are bold-faced liars.  Then, a couple of Mercedes employees decided to mark the comment as "like".  Management brought the five guys in....brought out the copy of their original agreement where they said they wouldn't insult fellow employees.....which includes the CEO.  So this meeting occurred with the company representative, the Facebook junkie, and the union boss.  You can imagine the comic nature of this episode.  No one is fired, but the Facebook dude is put on notice that this might cause issues in the future. So you might want to ask how one would comment on the CEO being a liar if you worked for Mercedes.....but it's best to just grin and say that the CEO never....ever....lies.  Then wink at the camera.


Finally, hidden in the news from yesterday.....the President has issued an order for all federal agencies....no more full-size sedans or SUVs, unless you can prove they are necessary.  To be honest, most of the 600k government fleet are not full-sized or SUVs....but after you drive around DC enough....you'd say that there are a significant number of them.  The order goes on to say that within six months, the government agencies must say on their web page....to what extent they have full-sized vehicles or SUVs.  I sat and pondered over this.  Homeland Security will find various ways to get around this order.....as will FEMA and the FBI.  If you watch video clips of their guys arriving at crime scenes....the FBI always arrives in a black SUV.  I'd have doubts that they even own one mid-sized vehicle in the whole FBI fleet.  The curious thing is that before the late 1990's.....SUVs were fairly rare in a government inventory.  If you figured up the gas usage and potential future cost.....this might actually be a wise idea.  My guess is that we will continue to see a fair number of SUVs.....and folks grinning as they tell you that it's absolutely necessary for their mission.

A Moment on Vacations

CNN did a report up.....why Americans don't take 'real' vacations.  The emphasis of this....is that we simply don't behave like the Europeans and take two or three entire weeks off.  Our desires are usually to take extended weekends and sometimes take an entire week in the summer (mostly to paint the house or dig up the septic tank).

It's one of the few times that I'm in full agreement with CNN and their analysis.

I've come to notice while working here at the Pentagon that people generally tie up two days of leave to their three-day holiday weekends....and just take off for five days total.  I'd be willing to bet that at least four folks out of ten practice this throughout the year.

Years ago, I came to realize that Germans were dedicated folks to this two to three week concept.  They could not imagine going an entire year without that two week period off.  They will tell you that it's absolutely necessary for their mental sake.  Tour agents design these packages....for Egypt, Greece, Turkey, and Spain.....and people just lounge around excessively for two weeks.

After experiencing both views of vacation....I've come to be more agreeable with the US version.  Bluntly, after about seven days of vacation....I think the free time after that is mostly wasted.  You've relaxed enough and chilled to the extent that it's perfectly ok to go back to work.  The second week is totally wasted, in my humble opinion.  I'll even go as far as admitting that it's probably better for you to have one of these five-day weekends every other month, than to devise some 17-day beach vacation package for Greece.

I sat yesterday at the office and my co-worker brought up the holiday weekend coming up.  I kinda laughed.  By Thursday noon....most of my co-workers will be gone, and I'll be in a mostly empty vaulted area.  In some fashion....I'm almost getting a vacation with folks gone.

If Only They Could Talk

My brother pulled up the story.   It is the story that legends are made of.  Someone whispers off to Hitler during World War II that German dogs are superior and they could be taught to listen and speak.  Naturally, Hitler gets all peppy, and starts a special dog school....and the rest is history.

As far as we know....from what British historians have recently found....it all happened kinda like that.  But there's likely more to the story.

The historians say that the dogs that were shown....learned to communicate in some fashion with their SS masters.  The SS guys then brought educated dogs from all over Germany....to teach them signals to use with their paws.  Yes, there's a dog which did say 'Mein Fuhrer' in some fashion when someone asked who Hitler was.

What happened in reality?  My guess is that some dimwit with some future in the SS....got Hitler talked into a program....in the same fashion that idiots go to NSA today and get them to spend $1.5 billion on an intelligence system that won't deliver.   The NSA guys prance around with congressmen....all glowing eyes....and everyone acts like nuts.  The pro-Hitler crowd probably handed over all the funding necessary, and the first Hitler-approved dog school was in operation.

You can imagine the lady in charge....mostly there to bring out her Border Collie who knows forty-four different tricks, and she convinces everyone that he can utter "Hitler" when she does a secret hand signal.

Months go by.  Fancy wine gets delivered.  SS officers arrive every week to sit and sip beer under some trees as they watch some dog do some fancy tricks.  Everyone goes back to Berlin....bragging about the talking dog.  Hitler gets a picture once a month of some special dog....and things look great.

The war eventually ends....and the school?  Well....no one really says much about the end.  My guess?  A bunch of US intelligence folks arrive, quietly pack up all the smart dogs and the German lady....and send them off to a secret site in the US....where they breed and train the Nazi-developed dogs.  Naturally, these dogs are later taught to say "Kennedy" and "Nixon".

Considering the recent story of the Soviets loading up an advanced aircraft with Nazi-developed half-breeds, and crashing it in Roswell as a joke.....I'm of the mind that this story just might be mostly true. Stranger things have happened.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Yesterday

I made my second trip to the dentist for 2011 yesterday.  For almost ten years (up until the spring of 2009)....I had the same dentist.  He was retired Army....he operated out of the converted garage....and he was the best dentist that I'd had in my entire life.  Now returned to the US....I'm kinda shaking my head at my choice for a dentist.

This new guy has various technology items and wants to show me the structural strength of my teeth, my gums, and just about anything in my mouth.  I'm kind wondering if this is a step forward....but I shouldn't question matters like this....I guess.

The bill from the first visit....almost four months ago?  Well....that's kinda amusing too.  I have dental insurance via the government.....and it was supposed to be a direct-pay deal.  So 60 days after my first visit....I get a bill.  Naturally, I hate seeing bills unpaid, so I paid it.  I waited four weeks to submit to the insurance company....and they promptly come back to me to say that they've paid the bill.  I look at the amount....the $260 total bill?  Well....they paid $120 and suggest my payment to him should only be $50.  Yeah, they are saying he kinda overcharged at what the plan's patients should pay.

So I brought this to the dentist office and chatted with the front desk lady.   I kinda wanted credit.  Then she tells me that they haven't been paid yet and it might be another month.  I'm scratching my head....it'd be five months after the fact when she finally gets the money and clears me.  I might get credit....but it'd be at least two to three months before I see credit.  Meanwhile, I have a fresh bill.

I am longing for my old dentist, his garage dentist office, just paying him with a credit card and getting reimbursed by my old insurance company within three weeks.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

The River

Since Lost ended on TV....folks have been looking for this Lost-replacement.  Frankly, most of us who were Lost-enthusiasts were a bit hostile over the last twenty episodes and aren't very eager to go back repeating the silliness of the end.  We might all agree that the first fifty episodes were dynamic and epic....but things came to end in such a way, that just makes you laugh mostly.

So came the announcement this week of "The River" being part of the fall lineup.  The basic story?  Some TV adventure host....kinda like a Steve Irwin....has taken his adventure vessel down through the Amazon and disappeared.  The public is convinced he's dead.  His wife won't accept it.  His son is kinda upset.  Then some beacon goes off to say he might be alive and identifies the area.  Naturally, they don't want to tell the Brazilian government who would go in and find the guy in eight hours....go figure.

So the wife gets the son, some adventure show producer & crew, a couple of friends, and a small crew....to jump on a boat and follow the beacon to the vessel which parked in an area of the Amazon that no human has ever been to.  Brazilians would mostly laugh at this moment because there is no such point on the Amazon any longer like that.

The tease of the story is that things start to fall apart as soon as the new folks arrive.  There's no one on the adventure vessel parked in the middle of nowhere.  Some weird creatures appear.  A guy or gal dies in the first ten minutes.....and there's no TV adventure host anywhere around.

What we are expected to do now....is sit through around 100 episodes....100 hours....to figure out what Brazilian monkey creature, or Brazilian wild trans-sexual figure, or amazing Peruvian monkey-lady escapee from a circus has stumbled into this mess.

There will be the fake leads....like six numbers that keep repeating, the written yellow sticky notes that the adventure guy leaves on rocks, the unique body functions of the monkey creature, some voodoo rituals by a lost tribe, a zombie or two, the cannibals who are on a diet this week (for your sake), and the tribesmen who wear only three chicken feathers to cover up their manly situation.  At some point, a pit will be found with dinosaur bones that probably only look fifty years old.  Toss in a time warp, a polar bear appearing out of thin air, some Australian TV adventure show host who appears out of nowhere....a Finnish TV adventure show host who parachutes in with a case of Finnish beer....and some Russian gold hunter who looks like Micky Mantle, and you've got yourself a five-star loser show which will last five plus years.

The neat thing about this?  Every week.....some other new character could parachute into the Amazon rainforest and claim he was sent there by Hulk Hogan to find some long-lost wrestler who wandered into the forbidden jungles of Brazil.

The sad thing?  I probably will watch the first twenty episodes in hopes of a perfect Lost script.  The minute that time travel is suggested....I'll flip over to the BRAVO channel and watch Flip This House.

When Things Go Wrong

I sat and watched four different news episodes this morning of the meeting between Netanyahu and the President.  The video clips of them sitting there speaks volumes.  The first two minutes, there was a fair comfort level for the President, but you could tell it was draining away.

As Netanyahu went into his lecture, it was then painfully obvious that the President wasn't very happy and must have been expecting some other comment or less than a comment.

This ninety-odd minute lecture given by the Israeli Prime Minister was probably one of those episodes that you'd really prefer to avoid.  Then you have to ask who in the State Department ever gave this advice about the 1967 border line episode.  My guess....no one from the State Department would have been this silly unless they were two years out of Harvard or Princeton.  The top levels of the State Department would have stopped such commentary quickly.

So my best guess is that the President got this 1967 advice from someone who is a "friend" of the White House.  There are around 200 folks who have bought and snuggled their way into being a "friend" of the President.  They get a chance to speak with him at lunches or weekend retreats.  One would guess that this got put on the President's plate, and he just told his inner circle that this was going to be US policy, no matter what.  They turned to the speech-writer and had a speech drafted up like this.  The State Department likely sat there in shock but figured that the President must know something that they don't.

At the conclusion of this meeting....the President likely went into the Oval Office for thirty minutes....took a fair dose of asprin for his headache, and grumbled about how stupid this 1967 border advice was.  The "friend"?  Well....my guess is that he's been quietly removed from the guest list by today, and wondering why this was stupid to suggest.

Speeches over the Middle East again?  No.....even if the President is around after 2012....one must speculate that you won't hear any real Middle East speech again.  He'll talk about Asia, Honduras, General Motors, and possibly even space travel.....but I think you've heard the last of any chat over the Israel situation.

All in a Day

There are various days that pop up and you walk around with five or six significant news stories that you can only sit and ponder upon.

First, Randy "Mancho Man" Savage died today.  Behind Hulk Hogan in the 1980s....Randy was one of the most authentic wrestling characters that you could ever dream up.  He wore alot of glitter, and had a million-dollar voice that drew you back to watching wrestling every Saturday.  He apparently had a heart-attack while out driving, and ended up hitting a tree.  It's not the way that you dream of him going....but life isn't a scripted wrestling scene....as we all know.

Second, the President ended up giving one of this four-star speeches again....twice in one week....over at CIA headquarters.  It was mostly to thank everyone there for helping to kill bin Laden.  Curiously....he used the word "I" at least thirty-five times.  This is a weird habit of the President, and one has to suspect that he intentionally does it....because a guy can't accidentally go through a speech and do this typically that many times.

Third, there's this new book out....talking up the idea that the Roswell alien episode in 1947....was actually a Soviet practical joke of sorts.  Stalin had these little mutant humans that he'd latched onto (from a Nazi scientist no less) and he had his best guys rig up some futuristic space-looking craft to use as a alien vessel.  It crashes, and apparently scares the crap out of the US.  So for the next decade or two....they are worried about the Soviets and the aliens.  The scenario, I admit, is a bit odd....but I could actually imagine the Russians mounting an effort like this and just sitting back to laugh over it.  When the US eventually realizes it was a joke.....they really don't want to admit they put billions into researching the stupid Soviet space vessel and the potential mutant humans from the Nazi doctor.  So they continued the game and just let everyone in the US continue to worry about aliens.  Yeah, this is all believable.  But it's just that fifty-fifty chance it's bogus.

Fourth, the British have come up to admit that a quarter of all citizens in the country.....typically wait four months minimum.....to get in-patient care.  It's an odd statistic.  I sat and pondered over it....thinking....these Brits have to have nerves of steel and the courage of Braveheart.  Course, they might be crazy and not even have an ailment worth worrying about....like a bad itch, a fungus on their foot, or a wart that just want go away.  The curious thing about this...is that if you had a really bad situation, you'd be staying mostly at home and the company would be missing you because you couldn't get proper medical care.  So on any given day with two hundred British employees.....twelve might be home suffering in simple pain.  If all of this is true....then the UK is doing it's best with a third-world medical care system.

Fifth, a bunch of folks are coming out to say they did doping with Lance Armstrong....not last year, or three years ago....but going back to 1997 timeframe.  I sat and pondered over these stories today.  Lance was Mr Tour de France for a number of years.  Somehow, these idiots have convinced the authorities....the cops or FBI....take your pick....to get involved with something that is over ten years old potentially.  They all want to sign documents to say they are guilty and Lance is too.  I'm mostly scratching my head.....there's not a single court in the US where you could depend on a jury to agree with this logic without iron-clad evidence.  Now, if some dimwit French guy had this one simple tube of Lance's urine left over from 1997.....maybe this would all mean something.  Curiously, I'm waiting for that magical French dude with Lance's urine to suddenly appear....kinda like a Jerry Lewis movie, you know.

Sixth, not that it's big news, but Germans are sitting in absolute fear.  Every summer, there is this massive parade of Germans heading up on a Saturday to the Danish border.  Their intention?  To cross the border between noon and 6 PM on a Saturday at 100 kph (60 mph) and whisk on through....never stopping....while heading toward their Danish vacation cabin along the beach.  I've made this trip three times in my life.  I have to admit.....after seven hours of riding the German autobahn....the thrill of crossing the border and just being 90 minutes away from completing this miserable trip is a big deal.  You fight and claw your way from 6 AM to almost 2 PM.....sometimes crawling along, but that border area is where you really feel relief.  Well....the Danes have decided that too many foreigners are in Europe...escaping to Denmark....so they want you to stop and pause at the border, to show your ID.  You can imagine tens of thousands of Germans now having to come to a complete stop....maybe for an hour or two....in line....to just sit there and show your ID for a brief moment to some cheerful Danish guard.    Life's not fair, but for the Germans, it's just doubled in terms of unfairness.

Seventh and final.....Katie Couric is days away from announcing a NBC contract to do a afternoon talk show.  My expectations?  It'll be a five-year deal.....because NBC is stupid enough to sign up for such a idiot deal.  Things will start out great the first thirty days with lots of great guests and simply 'good' numbers (the same numbers as they had for their soap opera that likely occupied the same slot).  Along about day 75 of this relationship between NBC and Katie....it'll be obvious that they are losing viewers each week.  NBC will ask why.  The production staff will say it's just a temporary thing.  Eight months will pass....and NBC will why the numbers are still decreasing.  Another five months will pass with bad numbers.  So now about eighteen months into this deal....NBC will wonder how they can dump Katie gracefully.  The answer?  They can't.  Strangely enough, some wrestling show will end up being on opposite Katie's hour with the History Channel, and they will have a Katie-look-alike, who will attract more viewers than Katie.  At that point, Katie will gracefully bow out.   Just my humble opinion on this.

Friday, 20 May 2011

The Other Border Issue (Parody)

Quietly, the Association of Concerned Mexicans (ACM) reviewed the Presidents vision speech given on 19 May 2011.  As he announced that Israel ought to hand back lands gained by the 1967 conflict....ACM finally decided the time had come....to regain Mexican borders taken in throughout the 1840s and 1850s.

There was great debate over this because it'd consume a fair amount of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, California, parts of Wyoming and Colorado.

Members of ACM have long believed that the US's attitude throughout the 1840s created this terrible anti-Mexico attitude which exist today.  Only by returning what was rightfully Mexicos property....will things be made right.

Meanwhile, some members of ACM have spoken up and say they really don't want San Fransisco and have voiced their opinion that it'd be best to absorb it quickly and then sell it to Microsoft....and then the plan would be to call it San Microsoft, with Bill Gates as its first Premier, Emperor, and King.  Bill Gates has offered only the comment that King Bill would not work for any brand-name.

The White House is feverously looking at various options because they hadn't considered some idiot proposal like the one that the President made yesterday to draw comparisons to the US border.  Several members of the White House staff had to call their old professors from Harvard and Yale....to ask where Mexico was located before they conferred with the President.

On the positive side, most of Tucson already speaks Spanish....so it's felt that this integration back into Mexico will not be too difficult.  Some language classes will be offered in the states affected.

Democratic strategists are extremely upset because these were all guaranteed win-states for the President in 2012....and this would trigger a massive re-think if Mexico regained their states.

Meanwhile, the President has shelved twelve additional speeches that he was going to make in the remaining months of 2011....in fear that he might say something stupid again and trigger more issues.  A team had quietly been convened several hours after that statement to examine if France could reclaim Louisiana purchase area or if Canada had any land to claim.

More to follow.....only in America.

If I Were Elected.....

I had to spend almost an hour walking around the Pentagon today.  No, it's not a passion or health thing.  I had to get a delivery guy into the building....and then get him out.  So I got to thinking while walking.  My theme today?  If I was sick and tired of how things run today....how would I change them if I were President.  What were my ten ideas?

1.  Announce on day one that I'm a one-term President, with no intention of running again.  I'd grin as I said that to both the Democrats and Republicans.

2.  The daily Presidential spokesperson briefing?  I'd have my guy give it on Monday with a two-hour session.....then kinda wrap everything up with myself appearing for 15 minutes on Wednesdays to answer five simple questions.  No Tuesday, Thursday or Friday sessions.  You'd have nothing for the twenty-four news services to talk about except on Mondays.....and they'd be out of business within one year.

3.  I'd call up the South Koreans, the Japanese, and all the folks in Europe.... announcing the end of US troops in their countries within three years.  We'd finish up peace-keeping as a profession and just stand ready from our own shores to annihilate you if you caused any trouble.

4.  Direct the Air Force to charge for any seat that a Congressman or Senator uses on a military aircraft unless they get personally invited by me for some visit to Afghanistan or Iraq.  The open bar tab?  Gone.

5.  Rig up the tax code to be no more than 300 pages and able to be read by a 8th grade kid.  If congress wanted to add to the tax code....they'd have to deduct pages from what's already written.  I'd standardize the font, and make things awful hard to change once it was all done.

6.  Declare the NFL, NBA and Baseball as open-enterprise operations.  No government involvement in operations except for safety violations.

7.  Convince Congress and the Senate to just plain shut down completely for October, November, and December of each year....with none of them allowed to speak in public within the District of Columbia once vacation started.

8.  Cut every dime of US taxes going overseas to any foreign government.  I'd give the $500 that some guy from Red Bay gave to the federal government for good things....simply back to him.  Maybe he'd spend it on a new shotgun, fancy boots for the wife, or send his daughter to dancing school....at least I'd know he'd do a better job managing it than some corrupted governmet in Asia.

9.   Limit myself to four speeches a year.  If you felt I ought to speak more....you can watch the same speech over and over to get some good feelings.  I might waste a whole speech just talking about bagpipes, hand sanitizer, and reruns of Baywatch....that's just the risk you got to take with me speaking.

10.  Finally, I'd just start to run surprise schedules where I show up at some National Park, and talk with six guys floating down river....to ask what they thought about the economy, taxes, France, or Tunisia. I'd want regular people advising me, and not some idiot from Harvard or Yale.

After four years, I would just walk away.  Frankly, I'd probably will have done enough to change America in that brief time....than some folks do in thirty years.

The President's Speech

I took lunch today and ate in the main hall of the Pentagon....over by Burger King.  Naturally, they have a big-screen TV and I sat down....and then almost immedately came Hillary Clinton introducing the President (live) and here was the US Vision of the Middle East (version 7.0).

It's a curious thing....you never got this speech until the Nixon years.  Then Carter gave this speech at least once....maybe twice.  Then came Regan's version.  Then came Bush 1's version.  Then came Clinton's three to four different versions.  Then came at least three versions from Bush 2.  And now, we get version 2 of the Obama administration.

What made this one different?  If you wrote down a list of 100 helpful things and 100 impossible that will never happen.....the President went to the 100 impossible things list.  It was kinda comical in a way.....he basically said Israel ought to give up territory gained in 1967....just forget the reasons for fighting over the land, and just step back to 1967 when things were "right".  For some reason, I sat there and kinda thought he was mostly reading something that no one from the State Department would ever recommend or suggest.

The speech itself?  Well....after watching around twenty of these now....I've come to regard his style and persuasion factor as being mostly fluff and no real substance.  Oh, there's no doubt these are four-star presentations....but you get the impression that he could just as well talk about Ex-Lax in a serious manner and convince you to take the stuff nightly.  He could probably use his power of persuasion to even convince fifty million of you folks to just use three tiny sheets of toilet paper when necessary....if he wanted to.

How many Princeton grad's will pounce over this monumental speech and talk for days about the new White House vision for the Middle East?  The simple truth is that you start to measure them against Carter's speech, Reagan's speech, and Nixon's speech.....and then you realize that mostly nothing changes in the Middle East if a US President talks about it.  The only way that Egypt and Israel are buddies today?  Carter promised to pay both....for decades and decades....with your tax dollars.  Yeah, they got bribed into doing it.

So I finished up my chicken....my ice tea, and eventually left the gala speech event.  There's not much to remember about the words.  And I'll wait a couple of years for another President to arrive....to make another Middle East speech, and probably say the same things about it.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

From the Neighborhood

This is kinda an unusual story.

Several years ago in DC....we had a medical examiner who was in charge of the whole district.  This guy....whose name we shall just leave as history and blank....got into a bit of trouble back in 2003....when five of his top subordinates....all women....accused him of sexual harassment.  Things got bad enough....that the city just plain dumped him.

Naturally, DC rushes quickly up to fill his spot with one of the five who women who were in the city health department and had been accusing him of issues.

It's a funny thing....to be a real city medical examiner and run a massive department like this....you have to be accredited by a national organization.  Well....time goes by and apparently, this gal who was the now permanent city medical examiner (Marie Pierre-Louis) didn't have such an accredition.

Days, weeks, months and years passed.  The District of Columbia didn't worry about it.  They had murders, crime and corruption as issues....and this really didn't matter.

Then a couple of years ago....the city asked and got $220 million from the Feds to build a new forensics lab....which ought to open next year.  And now, someone finally started to wake-up and realize that you don't have a recognized guy or gal running the medical examiner office.  Bluntly, every crime that comes up for court activity.....can be challenged because the chief medical officer can't stamp any of these as "complete".

Some speculation now exists around the city....that the lab might not even be able to open because it's a joke to run it without any real substance to back up evidence.

So, folks have dug around this whole mess.  This gal...Pierre-Louis....was actually given a one-year waiver already, and folks thought she'd come out and take the classes to get certified.  She didn't.  So she's come back for another waiver.  None of this is looking good right now.

The curious thing is that the police union has noted all of this....that the city council ought to have done something a couple of years ago.....and just looked away.

The amusing thing?  Counties in Alabama....actually have a certified medical examiner on hand.  You'd think that a place like DC could quickly clean up this mess....hire up some out of District person who has the degree and certification to be a medical examiner.....but they won't.  It's almost like Ms Pierre-Louis has some kinda evidence in a closet on every city council person.   So our $200 million CSI-like lab....just might be sitting empty for a while.  But don't worry....if you shoot some fellow in DC....with the current guys in charge....the odds are that you can get off the hook with a decent lawyer and some dimwits as medical examiner.

Just humble observations from my local neighborhood.  

Maybe Just a Label

My associate at work and I....got into a discussion today.  He'd been out over the past week and attending a social event within his church.  He's a church elder and dispenses advice on occasion.  So a young lady from the church who is a Georgetown college individual came up for a chat.  She's finishing up her degree in social work....and just wanted his impressions.

He sat and mostly listened.  She has spent almost four years at Georgetown, which costs a ton of money.  She's borrowed and will have to spend at least ten years paying off this significant amount of money (likely over $80k).  He sat there in total amazement....for a degree in social work....you could have done this at some state-level college (without any name value) and likely borrowed $40k maximum.

My associate kindly pointed this out....you will spend a whole decade of your life....working toward paying for this degree.  In her logical mind....the name value of Georgetown made this worth the effort.

I sat and pondered over this.  The thing is....the only places in America where she can get a starting salary of $45k for her field work....is DC, New York, and probably LA.  Philly, Chicago, Boston, and Miami would be a step down.....maybe a $1k less.  But in eighty percent of America....your starting salary for a social worker would be roughly $28k.  She's going to be anchored to the DC for the rest of her life.

The positives?  She has name value and she has connections.  As some former college buddy gives her a name and possible position....she'll use her connections and degree from Georgetown to sidestep things.....and maybe by age 45....she might be making $80k as a social worker.  In most of America....you'd kinda max out at $45k.

Maybe there is a logic to this game.  Maybe she will eventually pay off the degree and by age fifty....be successful with the Georgetown label.  The curious thing for me.....forty years ago, anybody with a year or two of college could be a social worker....even with a degree in physical education.  We've specialized this field to the extent that colleges now see a great moment to entice you to spend $80k that you don't have.....just to become something....that you might not be sure of.

Only in America.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Simply Observations

Our French dude in New York City who was arrested a couple of days ago for an attack on a maid.....Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK)....may have another little twist to his episode that he may regret.  The maid....by several newspaper accounts....lives in an apartment house that rents only to people who have AIDS.  She has a daughter....and it's not clear if the mother or the daughter is the one who gets the privilege for the lesser rent scale apartment.  I'm guessing the cops likely handed DSK a copy of the newspaper, and he's sitting there now and wondering about his situation.  As always....I always emphasize.....anything can happen in New York City.

The Center for Disease Control....came out with this list to get people to thinking....what you need for a "Zombie Apocalypse".  Naturally, it's supposed to be the list that you need for a hurricane or flood episode....but they wanted you excited and thinking.  I stopped there and kinda thought more about zombies than I did about floods, tornadoes or earthquakes.  My top three items on a "Zombie Apocalypse" situation? 1.  Bergman MP18 (German machine-gun made for WW I and was actually inserted into forced peace treaty to never be manufactured ever again....so you can guess it's fire power on anything).  2. The Henry Rifle (frankly, it's over 100 years old, but it's always impressive to see it pumped for each round). 3.  M14 Rifle (1959-1970, the Marine weapon of choice).

As most of you know....there's only five TV shows on my list worth watching as of yesterday.  I took one off my favorite five....House.  The sarcastic medical series....came out and announced that the love goddess....Lisa Cuddy, played by Lisa Edelstein will finally exit the show next week....and not return for next season.  Cause for the exit?  The network basically said that numbers were great for the full cast....or a full run of episodes.  So somewhere in negotiation....I get the impression that they came to Edelstein and asked her to accept being cut out of eight shows.....to save on cost.  She likely said no, and decided it was time to leave. To be honest, she was fifty percent of the show.  My guess is that numbers will rapidly deflate here by the sixth episode of next season, and it will likely be the last season of House.  Meanwhile.....we will wait with baited breathe to find out what Ms Edelstein does next.

Over on the United Airline front....some idiot in management didn't catch the issue....but when they were adding new flights to the list of coverage....they pumped in United 93 and 173....both being 9/11 flights.  The union took all of thirty minutes to respond that this was awful stupid.  United stood up and then readily agreed.  The curious thing....for the next 300 years of United service....you basically can't use these numbers.  It's kinda like playing for the Braves and you'd like to have "44" as your number but that's retired because of Aaron.

Finally, presidential contender Rick Santorum spoke out yesterday....saying mostly that John McCain doesn't know much on interrogtation techniques...even though he was a prisoner of war. McCain had been out pumping up the talk that torture of any form...including waterboarding...just ain't acceptable.  McCain supporters are all anti-Santorum now.  Personally....I don't know nothing positive over McCain or Santorum....and it'd be better if both would just retire and become a county councilman somewhere.

Disenfranchise?

Over the last five years....I've people use the word "disenfranchise" a couple of hundred times.  The actual meaning of the word?  To deprive one of a legal right, a privilege, or immunity.....or the perceived legal right, the perceived privilege, or perceived immunity.

I would imagine if you stopped one hundred people at a mall....from ages sixteen to eighty....that barely twenty-five percent would know some part of the meaning.  About half would tell you honesty that they don't know what the word means.  The same group would tell you that they've heard it on CNN or ABC news....but otherwise, they can only guess what it means.

Disenfranchise is thrown around today when someone (typically a liberal, not a conservative)....is writing up or speaking a blistering verbal attack against an opponent or group.

There is an interesting commentary by Donna Brazile in USA Today....where she lays out a major issue that  some states are moving toward....photo-ID required to vote.  She throws out this number....twenty-one million Americans who don't have a photo-ID....and would not be able to vote under such a requirement....thus invoking the disenfranchise label by the evil states attempting this.

The statisitics come from the NYU School of Law who called out and interviewed between 900 and a 1,000 folks.  The four major questions are simple enough....I will agree.

I kinda sat there and pondered this.  Twenty-one million Americans who cannot prove who they are or drive, or even cash checks.  They can't enter a telephone or cable-TV office to start service.  They can't charge a credit card.  They can't open a bank account.  They can't drive a car.  They can't own a car.  They can't register a car, a rifle, a boat, or even a scooter.  They can't buy prescription drugs at a drug store.  They can't buy alcohol or tobacco.  They can't travel via an airport or fly.  In most major American cities....they would be detained by the police for any violation until they brought evidence....a photo-ID....to prove who they are.  They can't register for a college or technical school.  They can't travel to Canada.  They can't buy a hunting or fishing license.

I'm pretty sure that Ms Brazile didn't intend to mention any of the acts I just laid out above....because you'd start to ask silly questions....like do these people live in the woods and just eat pinecones?  Do these people avoid banks entirely?  Do these people have any medical attention that requires drugs....and if so....how would they get their prescription drugs without an ID?  So none of the twenty-one million can fly on an airline?  None of them can drive or buy a car?  None of them have telephone or cable-TV service?  None of them have ever bought booze or alcohol at the corner store?  None ever attended any college?

For some reason....I'm having doubts about the poll and the intended results.

In fact....we might want to ask another disenfranchise question.  If you had a bunch of folks walk up and vote in six different voting districts....or two different states....like multiple voting....wouldn't that disenfranchise all the regular folks who only voted once?

Once you drag out this word disenfranchise.....and you start to really survey the potential issues....it's not a single-sided sword anymore.  You could have some guy living in NY City and voting there....while having a vacation condo in Florida and actively voting there as well.  Disenfranchised?  Yep.

So as you sit tonight, and hear that disenfranchised word again....you might want to ask a question or two. You might have a laugh....and then just turn the TV channel over to Jeopardy....knowing that some folks know the meaning more than other folks.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

In the Neighborhood

It probably appear in your local news or much in the national news....but the folks who actually run the White House (not the President or his chief of staff).....but the actual day-to-day workers....have now voted and demanded a union vote.  By law, there has to be a vote of all White House employees within a certain amount of time.

The key problem that they really hate?  They get calls to alter their schedule all the time.....to include working weekends when they were supposed to be off.  They want compensation.

So you can imagine this scenario....trouble starts to brew as some hostile President's wife makes a mess out of management....thus inviting a strike by the union in the White House.  The President then has to smooth over things by agreeing to hide out at Camp David for several weekends.  Then the union gets upset about other events and actually starts up a full-strike.

Some Republican President will eventually agree to contract out all White House staffing and really wretchet up the entire mess.

In some ways, you have to wonder how the employees got all these ideas about union-ship.....but if you consider the number of union bosses who have appeared at the White House over the past two years....I'm guessing one or two made a simple comment to some employee there, and just gave them this wishful idea.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Just Observations

Allow me to introduce International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief... Dominique Strauss-Kahn (hereby to be known as DSK.  DSK was arrested in New York City as he was boarding the plane to leave for France.  The sexual crimes charge against him....was such.....that they aren't offering bail at present because they think he will run.  This all has a familiar ring to it....like Al Gore's massage therapist episode.  I suspect that DSK thought the maid would conduct herself in a manner he was used to.....he'd pay her $300....and just walk away.  I also suspect that he's on some medication that causes you to act nutty at various nuts (he will likely say that).  All in all....for the IMF folks....DSK is finished.  Between the DNA evidence and blood on the floor....he's got a lousy case.  He could very well end up a year in a New York City jail.

Fox came up today and announced that America's Most Wanted show....is cancelled.  After umpteen years, the network is kinda admitting that between the advertising revenue and cost it requires to produce each show.....they can't continue this trend.  America's Most Wanted says they will find another network, although my best guess is that they are limited to the History Channel and BRAVO.  Currently, the History Channel is taking huge numbers on Monday night and it might be a great lead-in to take even bigger numbers.

Is college worth it?  Evidentially, around 57 percent of Americans say no.  I sat and paused over this poll.  When you sit down and examine the forty classes that it tends to take....to earn a degree....you start to shake your head after the whole experience is over and you have the degree.  At least five of the forty classes are completely worthless.  Another ten might be nice to have (Roman history, photography, American Civil War), but then you remember your degree was in electrical engineering.  The professors will tell you that these other oddball classes refined you.....but then you ask how refining relates to revenue in life, and none of the professors can answer that.

The Kutcher kid from The Seventies Show....replacing Charlie Sheen on 2.5 Men?  I'm guessing he'll excite some folks and maybe bigger numbers will occur for the first six shows....then level off....and it'll be ten percent less viewers by the end of next season.  Frankly, you can't bring Charlie back....and I'd be more of the mind to just end the show....at a high point.

Finally, Stephen Hawking laid out a dramatic piece today.....Heaven doesn't exist.  The physicist has spent over three decades trying to explain science in a simple fashion to the public.....with mixed results.  The facts to heaven not existing?  That was a problem as I read into his commentary.  He can't produce absolute facts. He just says to trust him....he knows.  Basically, you are back to the same level as ministers, popes, or religious folks....who do you trust?

Simply Observations

So Huckabee won't be running for President?  Shocked?  I think half the Republicans out there really aren't surprised, and most independents aren't either.  The Huck simply wasn't going to carry any major weight beyond twelve key southern states, and he finally came to realize that.

NBC has lifted the curtain and told everyone that for the new season coming up in four months....some show called the "Playboy Club" (invoking the 1960s blend of time) will be on their lineup.  I'd predict that this show barely makes it through the season before being cancelled.  It just has that ring about it to be a failure.

The long awaited Wonder Woman series for this fall's TV lineup?  Gone.  For some reason, it just wasn't getting any audience noise as they showed it around.  It's hard to imagine....a hot lusty Amazon gal....in a spandex suit....and it won't sell?  So we'll sit back and wait for the movie eventually where Batman and Wonder Woman finally meet....maybe?

In Bama....back in early April....the state Department of Public Safety announced this program to decrease fuel usage and fuel costs for the Bama Highway Patrol.   The curious thing is that over the next month....folks started to notice a trend....fewer traffic tickets on the interstate and major Bama roads.  Last year, from 1 Jan to 1 May....there were 3,569 traffic tickets in one particular district court.  Well....they are down to 2,295 tickets for the same period.  Some folks are now starting to analyze the trend and are a bit worried.  Various agencies count on the revenue from traffic tickets.....and it's not a good thing for them if they don't bring in the fines.  The curious thing here is that gas prices will continue their upward trend.....and the cops will eventually find another order to decrease driving even more.

Finally, in Europe....McDonalds is doing something a bit odd....getting rid of the 'front' guys.  You can walk into a number of McDonalds throughout Europe and find a touchscreen menu and the ability to swipe your credit card, then you walk up to pick up your bag and soda.  No one is saying much over the deal....other than it's an experiment in the making.  I suspect that most old folks will not be happy about this technology introduction and every McDonalds will still have a guy or two at the counter for them.  But we might be looking at the next major change in fast-food shopping.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Ministry of Truth?

Bill Clinton has come out and suggested that there really ought to be a agency where the public can turn to.....and decide if facts are fact.

Basically, his vision is that this agency would put down rumors that start out on the internet.  You'd call these guys up....cite such and such....then hours or days later, they would dispel those rumors or confirm them.  Kind of like a truth committee.

It's a curious thing because Bill also lets you know that it probably shouldn't be a government agency because it might be misused or abused....unlike a private agency (unlike a private agency, wink-wink, that would never be misused or abused).

During the Clinton era....Bill would sit around and toss out these brilliant moments of idealism where he had a thought but kinda knew it'd never go anywhere.

In this case....he's basically stating that some group or agency can rationalize something to tell you the truth.  We are generally confronted with two dozen such moments on a daily basis now....some in the office....some locally....some in the state....and some nationally.  We believe just about anything that CNN, Fox News, or the New York Times puts out.

You can imagine folks waiting in anticipation for the Ministry of Truth to rubber-stamp a story....which at best, might only be half-true.  Then you'd believe it was completely true, but obviously.....it lacked absoluteness.

Who would fund such a project?  That would lead onto some worldwide finance guy who had billions at his disposal to help make the ministry of truth a reality.  His influence on such an organization?  In a comical way....he'd bring truth to the streets of America.  It might not be true truth, but it's some version of truth.

I would speculate....that eventually (using Bill Clinton's thought process)....we'd actually need a second organization.....called the Ministry of Truth over the Ministry of the Truth....to keep everyone lined up with the truth.  In the end....we'd be just as confused....faced with varying labels of truth.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Polling for Jesus or Such

There is this Public Religion Research Institute that exists.  I questioned who would fund something like this....but that would merely open up more questions about what they mean by 'public' and why a bunch of religious-minded folks needed to do research.  Most truly religious folks just want to chat at the table over Bible quotes or go out and save folks.  It's hard to see why a really religious guy would want to poll folks.

Today, they came out with authentic research.  Around six in ten Americans....believe its very wrong to be happy over the killing of another human being.  They wanted to cite this as fact....going across various religious lines.....minority Christian, Catholic, white mainline Protestant, and Evangelical types.   Strangely enough....minority Chrisitans were at the peak with 70 percent agreeing you ought not get all happy, with white mainline Protestants barely being 53 percent unhappy with peppy Americans celebrating bin Laden's death.

The Public Religion Research Institute was able to properly cite the Bible's admonition that you ought not to “rejoice when your enemies fall”.....which I felt was pretty good for Bible citing.

Then the Public Religion Research Institute went on spill the beans that almost sixty-five percent of Americans think bin Laden is damned to hell for his past actions.  When guys take polls.....it's rare that they ask if anyone was damned to hell.....so I'm thinking this must have been a pretty risk-taking poll when given amongst some folks.

I was kinda positive over this business but with their article....they also wanted you to know that they had polled on Tea Party folks....which kinda surprised me that you'd want to research them as some some Public Religion Research Institute.

According to their research (same article from bin Laden)....around two-thirds of Tea Party folks say that  God has special role for the U.S. in human history....which naturally goes against 51 percent of the general public perception.

The same guys say that 55 percent of Tea Party folks think God was handling the finding of bin Laden for the Seals....compared to 39 percent of the public.

The same guys say that almost sixty percent of Tea Party folks think that having severe interrogation methods is important to getting the information you need from terrorists....while only only twenty-seven percent of the public say that.

I was pretty going along with this but then started to notice that their numbers only reflected Tea Party folks, Republicans and general American population (not Democrats).

Then I pulled up the web site and went looking for who funds the Public Religion Research Institute.....which they don't put up on the site.  They tell you alot....but not who gives them the money.  Then I Googled them....to find that the Huffington Post quotes them a fair amount.  Typically, there'd be this monkey to come out and dance right now....because if they quote you....they like the guys who fund you.

I'm likely of the mind that the Public Religion Research Institute is mostly a bogus group of guys who write down a fake fact on the whiteboard, and then build up some research to make it as factual as possible.  Being able to cite Bible facts?  I might give them some credit, but you could accidentally stick around some Bible college for four years and actually remember thirty-two Bible facts concerning Moses, and still have consumed eight hundred six-packs of beer during the four-year period of your life.

In essence....yeah, the Public Religion Research Institute is mostly bogus.  These are the same guys who'd find a Bible quote on Charlie Sheen, and then run off to do a poll.  These are the same guys who'd worry you about nuclear energy, find a Bible quote from Mark & Luke who were fairly anti-nuke energy, then poll two thousand Republicans who were anti-Mark & Luke.  These are the same guys who'd cite Bible passages against SUVs that came from Micah, then poll folks to prove SUVs were evil.

If Jesus returned tomorrow, and was an actual Tea Party member....it'd freak out the Public Religion Research Institute guys a good bit.  But they'd find their faith and quickly put out a poll that declared that most Americans were against Jesus if he was a Tea Party guy.  Naturally, this would confuse most everyone, then we'd all laugh about the group of researchers, and finally go back to worrying about aliens, UFOs, and Bigfoot.

Guzman and bin Laden?

Once upon a time, in Peru....stood the mighty Shining Path organization....Sendero Luminoso.  If you were going to make comparisons to bin Laden's gang....they were the 'kings' of Peruvian anti-government activity....bombing and killing people left and right.

Their bold leader....Abimael Guzman, a professor....came out in the late 1960s and had this great concept which was different from previous attempts to build up a resistance to the government of Peru.  He would use tactics from Mao, leave the university, and the capital city.....to forge the Shining Path in the rurals of the country.  He wanted the little people of the country to run the revolution....not college students.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s....Guzman was just as effective as bin Laden.  He was the recruiting poster guy, the strategist, and the absolute leader of the organization.  It's an interesting thing though...he built a mostly flat organization with himself as the 'general', a couple of majors behind that, and then almost all Captains and Lieutenants.  Guzman didn't want competition or challenges to his strategy.... similar to what bin Laden has built over the past decade.

As the 1990s began to occur.....the Peruvians got smart.  They built up a counter-guerrilla group....allowed them to arm with shotguns, and then got some interested parties from the US to examine the various communication trails that existed.  At some point, Professor Guzman was finally tripped up and caught....where he was sent off to a quick trial and then onto prison (where he sits today).

The Shining Path?  Well.....with the flat notion of leadership....things kinda got sidetracked and went downhill.  The political folks in Peru will tell you that they've mostly smashed down the whole operation.  Occasionally....about once every six months....there's one bold attack to let folks know that some Shining Path members still live on.  But frankly, they have gone from the glory days of being the New York Yankees to being a double-A team from Little Rock.

It's very likely that over the next six months....we will see a couple of isolated attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan....just to show that some bin Laden Captains and Lieutenants are still active.    Big time activity against the US or Europe?  You might see one attack carried out which might be big enough to make the nightly news for twenty-four hours.....and then disappear.

I suspect that this comparison of bin Laden and Guzman might not be on the screen of most folks.....but it's curious how both guys used a flat management chart to run things.  I suspect that if we applied management analysis against the bin Laden gang....we might be surprised at how ineffective they really are.