Wednesday, 31 August 2011

My Neighborhood

This is the typical "corruption-in-DC" story.

The District has tons of money sitting around....so they hand out grants which are funneled to them via the federal government.  You walk up, hand over the paperwork for some great charitable idea, and the money is funneled over to your charity concept.

So this organization....Miracle Hands Inc....came up and said they wanted use $330k to renovate a warehouse in DC (up in the northeast section of town)....as a job center for folks with AIDS.  It was a noble idea on paper.

So they got this money from the DC government. Then a strange thing happen with this building used for their paperwork.  It ended up having a significant amount of renovation, and opened up as a strip club.  The club....named the Stadium Club....is apparently a successful upscale operation at present time.

The city's prosecutor is a bit upset about this episode.  So they are going to court to recover the money.  Miracle Hands?  They continue to share their address with the Stadium Club. The guy who manages Miracle Hands?  This is another interesting episode.  The local news guys have finally figured this part out.....Cornell Jones.  This is a guy who at one point a decade ago was self-admitted top drug kingpin of DC, but then came out to say he was cleaned up and walking a straight line.  Yeah, he did have a couple of convictions over the past thirty years, but that probably wouldn't ever deny a guy the right to create a charity operation or ask the city for charity funding.

I sat and read up on Cornell.  He's got a five-star life story to tell.  As much as you can say negative about the guy....then you find all these stories where he sponsored sports in the local community for kids.  He might have spent some of spoils on himself, but he ended up as a Robin Hood-like character who tried to fix some wrongs that he saw.  The Miracle Hands operation?  This is another curious episode.  It's designed to help ex-Con's getting out of prison.

Somewhere at the end of this court episode....I'm suspecting that Cornell and his folks will prove that most of the management of the strip club....are ex-con's who might have HIV/AIDS.  And at that point....they might just walk into a DC courtroom to show that the strip club is really a job-training center of sorts.  The DC judge will sit there in astonishment....listening intently...and might actually buy this story. Stranger things have happened in DC.  Just my humble opinion.

My Neighborhood

There was a decision made a number of years ago....to eventually close down Walter Reed Hospital in DC....and move all operations out of DC....to the Bethesda facility.  There were a dozen reasons why this made sense at the time.  Congress was willing to fund the project to enlarge Bethesda's medical facility and the planners got to work.

While the construction phase is done and the Walter Reed folks are in the movement phase....there's a curious episode that has come up. There's this electrical substation at the National Institutes of Health....which is the site near the Bethesda which would provide all the power necessary to run this enlarged hospital.  Well....in this planning process....no one really sat down and looked at the other projects going on and the amount of power being consumed at the substation.  So now, folks have awaken and realize that they will pretty much tap out on all potential power in the local area.  The hint is....they basically have to stop hooking any more AC units, x-ray machines, or heating systems up....until congress pays for a enlarged substation.

Cost?  Over thirty million dollars.  The time frame? Well....that's the curious part.  Basically, by the time you figure congress into this mess....getting the money....having the enlarged electrical facility planned out....and everything operational, it'll be almost three years.  I'm guessing the hospital management folks are sitting there and trying to figure out the best plan "B".  The amusing thing is that they just might have to turn to the Army and ask for five or six big generators to provide excess power for three years....burning tons of diesel.  And the diesel bill?  It'll go straight to the US government.  

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

The Truth About Cars

If you read through the Wall Street Journal today, there was an interesting article over the 2013 Chevy Malibu being projected.  The government, if you didn't know it, has this forced goal of 40 miles per gallon within the next fifteen years being the norm.  Naturally, you'd mostly shake your head and think it's impossible, but this 2013 Malibu is making the steps toward that.

So they listed the various things done....like E-Assist which gives the car this little boost of extra power during acceleration, without taking extra fuel.

The rear end?  Redesigned to give more airflow.  The grill?  Redesigned to open or close air flow to the engine to allow air to cool the engine only when necessary.  The underbody?  Redesigned....again to allow more improved airflow under the car.  Same way for the front corners of the car.  More aluminum?  Yes.  No spare tire?  Yep....got to yank out that thirty pounds to give that car less weight to carry....you end up with a "inflate-kit" to get you by.

I sat and pondered on this.  This is the first big step to really start bringing the car toward the government's goals.  But you can and imagine this.   By 2025....almost all of your car exterior will be either fiberglass or light aluminum.  The undercarriage will be the only thing made out of actual steel.  The engine?  I doubt that you will be able to even buy an engine bigger than 2.0.   An almost flat car?  Yep.....it'll be designed for dynamic airflow....maybe six feet longer than cars today and roof won't be more than four feet off the ground.

Protection during accidents?  We will eventually reach a point where the amount of fiberglass equals the amount of aluminum on the car.  And at that point....with deaths soaring left and right....some idiots will ask if we weren't better off with old-fashioned steel cars.  And the politicians will begin to grin....and this whole gas mileage game falls apart.

The Weather Dilemma

There is an interesting science report out of Australia today.  Basically....the rate of mental illnesses today is related to increased depression and post-traumatic stress....triggered by climate change (global warming, global cooling, climate change, etc).  The science doing this report were real careful about the full list which increases stress...which include a higher rate of substance abuse (legal and illegal).  Then they put the numbers out there....one in five folks are suffering ''emotional injury, stress and despair.''

Toward the end of the report....they wanted everyone to imagine fifty years in the future....that a vast number of the population would be "crazy" (my words, not theirs).

I sat and pondered over this.  Personally, I'd put the current crazy level in the US at one out of twelve....that ought to be on medication or under treatment.  So I'm guessing there are lots more crazy folks in Australia than the US....but this might be due to the amount of beer that the typical Australian drinks in a single day.

We are plainly damned at this point.  It's too late to shift climate change around.  The world is now bound and determined to be full of crazy folks....mostly on medication.  Kind of a zombie-land, if you ask me.  The curious thing is that folks have been doing increased drug (legal and illegal) since the 1960s.  So this global cooling, global warming, or climate change business must have been going on in the 1950s to start this mess.

So, all those folks on meth....due to climate change.  All those folks on crack....due to climate change.  All those folks on uppers or downers.....due to climate change.  I often wondered what caused it....and now I know.

The curious thing which I ponder upon....is how me and most of the folks I hang out with....have avoided climate change.  We don't do the drugs.  Are we missing out on climate change?  Are we simply blinded to the changing weather pattern?  I don't know.

For some reason, as I read through this story, I had this image of the movie....Mad Max.  A bunch of crazy Australian folks...driving around the desert in fast cars or trucks.  I'm thinking these scientists simply got doped upon some drugs.....watched Mad Max around twenty times over a weekend, and then simply wrote some imaginary science report.

The blunt truth is that weather tends to change all the time.  So folks.....don't get upset or disturbed by it.  Ask your neighbor how it was in 1962 and he might reassure you that weather comes and goes.  And if it really bothers you....skip the drugs and just drink a six-pack of Pabst-Blue Ribbon.  It's better for you in the end.  And don't watch Mad Max over and over, or you might get some funny ideas.

Monday, 29 August 2011

The Bull Story

Out in Cave Creek, Arizona....these guys had an idea to draw crowds.  Basically, they wanted a permit to run bulls (like to those Spanish Pamplona bulls) through the streets.  Naturally, these wouldn't be Spanish-type bulls....these would be plain old Texas rodeo-style bulls.  So things were moving along and the mayor came up and said he wanted an insurance package in place.  The bull-idea guy (Phil Immordino) had this figured out for profit and cost....and he was ready to put up a $2 million-dollar policy.  But the mayor said no way....it had to be three million dollars for the insurance policy.  So it appears right now....that the bull run is dead.

I sat there thinking about this.

For this to work in the US....with all the legal stuff that goes on.....you'd need a $500 million dollar policy (my first humble opinion).  Second, you'd have to ban alcohol for the event....which just ain't going to happen for a case like this.  Third, you would likely have a bunch of animal-friendly folks who'd get all upset that you riled up the bulls.

So instead of the running of the bulls....I like to suggest three optional events.  First, the running of the donkeys.  I admit, they probably won't run very fast and they probably won't hurt anyone much.  But maybe the running of the donkeys would be a nice safe event.

My second idea is the running of the drunks.  You line up a thousand guys and give them half a bottle of whiskey to drink over fifteen minutes....then you hustle them out into a courtyard area with baseball bats.  You turn loose these drunks on 10k folks in the courtyard and just stand back to watch.  I admit....some folks might get whacked pretty good....but the excitement level would be near to what you'd get with the bulls.

Finally, I've got this idea of the running of the tube-top lusty gals.  You line up four hundred gals....all in tube tops....and just run them through a Pamplona-style street.  They can toss or poke or stomp on any guy they see....with as much intensity as they'd like.  You'd charge each guy $100 for the thrill and you'd probably clear $1 million a day just on the entry fee and booze.  Oh, and you'd have to give the tube-top lusty gals some cut on this money.

Only in America.

A Short Note on Irene

It was my first hurricane experience.  Frankly, I kind of think...it was over-hyped.  In my region of Arlington....some trees tipped over and a few signs came off buildings....otherwise, nothing much else.  I admit up in Maryland....almost a million folks lacked electricity yesterday and it might be four days before all of them get their power back.  A bridge or two are gone in North Carolina.....and the folks in New York got a bit of flooding.   I suspect after the experience....if there is another hurricane within a year....most folks will not take it as serious as they did for Irene.  It came, and went.  

Movie Review: My Man Godfrey

Back in 1936, Carol Lombard and William Powell made a movie.  I finally sat down last night and watched My Man Godfrey.  I came away surprised at the script, the story, and the acting.  Everyone should have walked away with Oscars (in my book).

The biggest moment of the movie is the first fifteen minutes.....when you finally get introduced to the "forgotten man", who is this character surviving the Great Depression.  There are various moments where William Powell lets loose on the President's programs and you see this sarcastic cut on the results of various jobs programs.

It's rare that anyone today talks negatively about Roosevelt's infrastructure or jobs programs.  But William Powell lets you know that folks are standing around in 1936 and still wondering about when things are going actually start getting better.

I sat and pondered over this commentary.  It's the same words that word in 2011.  Folks are watching billions being spent by the government, with various words of encouragement being tossed to the wind almost daily....and the results simply aren't there.  The Great Depression didn't really end until Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.  The sad truth is that the recession simply went into various stages during a decade long period....never able to lift itself out of a big mess.  Everything the government did....simply kept the recession going.

You could eventually ask the question....if Japan had not bombed Pearl Harbor and the war never started....when would we have emerged from the Great Depression?  The answer sadly....would have been the late 1940s when Roosevelt would have eventually passed away and a new administration would have stepped into place.

So if you were looking for a great movie to watch....with various comic twists.....take a moment and watch My Man Godfrey.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Application Nation

Some guys sit around and develop these applications for I-Phones.  The newest one?  It's a count-down application that concerns the President.  It's either counting toward his second inauguration or his final days as President.  Then it tosses in a updated rating on:

Approval Rating
Public Debt
Unemployment Level
Gasoline Cost Per Gallon
Housing Price Index

I sat and kinda laughed over this effort.  It could be a positive or a negative...depending on your view of the administration.  I would agree that the current numbers are fairly negative, but a year from now....a couple of them (like gas cost), might be fairly positive.

So a guy walks around with this....pulling it when he's over at the brother-in-law's house.....just to make a point.  Or he pulls it out in front of his aunt who voted for President in the last election but she can't ever explain why.  He might even show it to his 18-year old niece who is voting next year for the first time and hinting how bad things are.

In an electronic age....we've started sling electronic mud.  In my mind, I can imagine some kid working on a George Bush application that will announce how many days have passed since left office, and how bad things are since the last twelve months of Bush.  And another kid is building an application to show how Ron Paul's ideas might shift the numbers on unemployment or debt in a very positive direction, if only he was President.

Only in America.


Trying to Make Sense

There's a fascinating part of this hurricane episode that I sat and watched....MSNBC with former mayor Ray Nagin (New Orleans Katrina fame).....who actually sat through the hurricane then in a penthouse suite area throughout his famous hurricane.  They had the guy telling folks what they should do to prepare.  I just sat there and shook my head.  The most unprepared mayor of all time.....who was foolish enough to sit in a penthouse suite for a hurricane, and he's the qualified expert for MSNBC?

The AP finally stood up and announced they had the final poll necessary....most Republicans now admit, since Governor Rick Perry announced his intentions to run....that there's now an adequate number of Republican Presidential candidates running.  So the hint is.....for no one else to make any more announcements...(hint: Sarah Palin).  I tried to make sense what exactly this poll would show, but it's kind of beyond me.  It's like asking folks if toilet paper is now soft enough, and just getting some impression out of folks.....so we won't develop any more softer toilet paper (via our American toilet paper engineers).

Bama passed one of the toughest immigration laws in the nation back in June.  Naturally, it's currently being debated in front of various court situations.  But the act is set to be effective this upcoming Thursday.  It kind of came out this weekend that almost no state police organization or lawyers working for the state in this arena....have had any training on the wording of the law at all.  I tried to make sense out of this....a law that is barely five days away....and not a single bit of effort to read or learn the law becoming effective.  Course, this it Bama, and to be honest....there are still laws from the 1800s which the local cops and lawyers are still not familiar with.

Finally....several billionaires have stood up over the past month and just said that they would be willing to pay more taxes....to save America.  I've seen the interviews and read the text of their comments.  I've tried to make sense out of this....the folks who wined and dined political figures to get various tax credits written to fit their circumstance....now stand there and beg for more tax code that would force them to pay more.  Behind this....you'd have to suspect that they have lobbyists ready to write the tax credits necessary....as soon as the idiot politicians put more taxes on them.  It's the behavior of insane rich people.  They really need their money taken away....because they'd prefer the US government to use it to hand out to Peru, Ecuador, or Bolovia....in support of some research project to prove that South American beer is just as good as North American beer, or to study the migration habits of deer in the Andes.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Simply Observations

It came out today that a federal judge is stepping in....telling prison doctors to go ahead and forcibly medicate Jared Lee Loughner (our Arizona shooter).  The judge was short and to the point....it was protect Loughner from hurting himself.  Loughner's legal wants to halt the medications.  At this point, the guy is sitting out at a federal prison in Springfield, MO and has pretty much gotten a free ticket saying he's mentally unfit to stand trial.  The curious thing was that before this judge stepped in....the appeals court had said that doctors could skip the drugs....so over a period of three weeks....Loughner got worse and worse.  At one point, he could actually stay awake for 50 consecutive hours and was continually walking in his cell....back and forth.  I paused and pondered over this....there are probably ten thousand Loughners walking around the US currently, and at any moment....one of these guys could freak out if he didn't take his meds.  And we seem to be accepting of this ticking time-bomb.

I got into a discussion yesterday with a Marine in my office.  He's a few years short of twenty....done a couple of tours to Afghanistan and Iraq....and has enough severe physical ailments that he just might end up with disability before he ever gets to his twenty years.  The old style Marine had to lug around roughly 75 pounds of total gear (ammo, rifle, backpack, flak jacket, water, and food).  The new style Marine has almost 150 pounds to lug around.  Between back, hip and joint issues....it's pretty much a guaranteed thing that a guy will be physically wasted away by age thirty-five.  The human body wasn't made for some guy to continually walk and fight with so much weight.  The curious thing is that the more advanced we get.....the heavier of a load we have to carry.  You'd think it'd be the reverse.

Ron Artest is a fairly well known NBA player.....out on the west coast.  Ron has a lot of worries on his mind.  So he's made this decision up in the last couple of months.....he needs a name change.  So legally, he is working on this effort to change his name to Metta World Peace.  It would have been worked up and finished yesterday.....but Ron apparently had a couple of outstanding traffic tickets, and the judge kinda hinted that name changing won't happen unless you clear those.  So Ron is Ron for at least another week or two.  I pondered over this.  If a guy wanted to change his name....you'd think that he'd pick something with character....like "Luke de Sky", or "Elvis Del Rio Bush", or "Winston York".  Metta World Peace just doesn't ring any bells.  And I hope the future Mrs Peace is ok with her name situation.

Finally, I noted today that the Texas Supreme Court said full speed ahead on collecting a special $5-a-customer tax when folks enter a professional strip club where alcohol is served.  The strip club lawyers failed to convince the state court that it was unconstitutional.  According to press reports.....the state has cleared $15 million so far and and the money is just falling into their pockets without much effort.  I was reading over this and thinking this is so successful.....why don't we have a $5-a-day tax on political folks who make speeches in Texas?  I'd be thinking that we could easily clear the same amount of money as the strip club tax.  The curious thing is that this intention by the state to downsize strip club customers....it hasn't worked too well.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Awaiting Irene

There is anticipation in the air this morning.  We here in the DC area are now in a tropical storm warning situation.  Living in Virginia....it's hard to imagine any kind of warning containing the word "tropical".  Some of the local guys might be thinking tropical drinks....tropical women in lusty hula skirts.....or a slight tropical breeze.  But Irene is a bit more than that.

So like most....I've been out shopping....water, a six-pack, bread, bacon and cookies.  It's enough to sustain a guy for three days....maybe four.  Most of the area where I am....have underground cables...so electricity will continue on.  I'm way up on elevation, so it could surge forty feet and I'm safe.  The Metro?  Well....they might actually shut things down by Saturday afternoon.

The kindly folks of DC....did come up and cancel the Martin Luther King Memorial grand opening.  Well over 250k folks were anticipated.  I'm guessing at least 100k of them had hotel reservations....which they may or may not get off the hook.  The bus rentals?  Well.....probably over 500 buses had a plan to drive folks from half the US....into DC for Saturday.  They don't have an alternate day yet, but word is that it might be the first weekend of October.

The New York area?  Well, this is the most interesting aspect of the whole mess.  The mayor is hinting that over 100k folks will be forced to leave from the bay area.  There could be 300k folks by the time that Saturday morning arrives.....who get notice to pack and go.  Come Monday?  They might be on a wait-and-see pattern for the next five days.

So the biggest event of the year for folks in DC....just days after the earthquake.

Scopes-Monkey: 2012?

Our noted journalists have picked up on a pretty fair situation in the upcoming Republican primary....the battle between creationism and evolution.  You'd think after the Scopes-Monkey trial....we'd had enough and it just wouldn't be much else to say.  But apparently, we've got some Republican candidates for President are creationism-believers, and some who are evolution-believers.  I've kinda noticed that the journalists have avoided labeling the President on this topic.....I'm guessing he kinda believes in anything you want him to believe in.

You can imagine Karl Rove standing there...mostly in disbelief....that out of 100 possible political topics that would come up to confront him....this creationism versus evolution topic would somehow not be on the list.  In all the time that he ever sat and discussed various topics with George Bush....I doubt the two ever engaged on this.

Creationism doesn't create jobs.  Evolution doesn't settle nuke crisis episodes.  Creationism doesn't feed folks in Africa.  Evolution doesn't fix infrastructure in New Jersey.  Creationism doesn't deter crime in DC. Evolution doesn't prevent you from getting food poisoning.  Creationism would not have deterred Monica Lewinsky.  Evolution wouldn't stop a hurricane.

The sad thing is that the day will eventually come when some space ship arrives from the planet Zorg.  Harv gets off the craft and explains that his folks did some hybrid-experiments back about 100k years ago and developed man as he is today.....taking their DNA and Caveman Joe's DNA....thus combining both.  Both creationism and evolution will kinda be forgotten at that point.

As for how you should read through your favorite Republican candidate?  Instead of looking at their tan, or their words about macro-economics (something you just can't grasp), or latching onto their own Obama-Care medical program, or looking at their college grade point average.....you might ought to just flip a coin.  Considering how we've made it through eight years of GW and almost three years of Obama.....coin-flipping might be just as good on picking some guy.

And Harv from the planet Zorg?  Once he explains the whole hybrid thing.....we'll all have a laugh.....sip some beer together....and wonder how we were stupid to believe in evolution or creationism in the first place.  Then Harv will say he's come to America to get registered to vote....for Ron Paul.  And then our uneasy natural feeling will return....wondering if there's not some agenda here.  Maybe Ron got planted here by the Zorg folks, and we got another brand new problem.  Paulism.

Only in America.

Simply Observations

I sat and tried to watch MSNBC yesterday evening....but they led off on how the evil Republicans were going to use the approaching hurricane as a threat against society.  I suspect that if anyone ever found any of Santa's mythical reindeer....then MSNBC would lead off on how the Republicans would exploit Comet, Donner and Vixen.  It'd be nice to turn on a news channel and actually get news.

It was a curious meeting....Attorney General Eric Holder and a dozen 9-11 families.  The topic was potential hacking of loved one's cellphones.  So after they meet....the result?  Eric kinda admitted there was no proof of News Corp (the evil Rupert Murdoch company) having hacked into their phones.  The Attorney General did hint to the group that three sections of US code could have been violated....but he couldn't sustain any comment with proof....just hints.  I sat and pondered over this....probably over 100k hacks of voice-mail or e-mail yesterday alone occurred, and how no one much in the Attorney General's office will move an inch over any of them.   Those are fresh and you'd think easier to trace out.  Toss in a couple hundred thousand stolen identity thefts in the US....which the Attorney General does nothing about, and you just kinda laugh.

The Census guys did some odd numbers game and came out yesterday with this valuable information....if you live in the Northeast part of the US....it's a higher chance you will stay married longer.  I sat there wondering what idiot would care about such numbers and if they really meant anything.  They wanted you to know that marriage rates are at a all-time low.....but South and West folks are marrying at fairly healthy rate but divorcing quicker too.  Then came this comment from Andrew Cherlin (professor of sociology at Johns Hopkins University)...."The reason is that young adults in the South and West tend to have less education and marry earlier, both of which lead to a higher risk of divorce."  Yep, if only we poor rednecks were properly educated and stayed single till thirty.....then things would work out and we'd all marry hot intelligent older semi-lusty gals in tube tops, sit around and discuss Walden's Pond, drink only Cherry Coke, and grasp our gal Wanda was a perfect match.  Yeah, in a Matrix world....that just might be true.  Sadly, in Bama....we are condemned to the eternal 50-50 chance.

Word now is that Courtney Stodden (age 16) and Doug Hutchinson (age 51) are now working on a reality TV show.  Doug, you may remember did some time on "Lost" and starred in the Green Mile.  Basically, it's a thirty-minute show on how some guy handles a immature teenage wife at age fifty, avoiding heart attacks, and entertains folks watching.  I sat and pondered over this.  Once guys start to watching this....I think 10k older guys (in their fifties) will be on the prowl to find themselves a 16-year old gal to hook up, and we'll have a rash of marriages going on.  Eventually, Doctor Phil will pronounce a national problem.  And then some forty-year old gal in New York City will marry a sixteen-year old kid....developing her own reality series.  Can't we just watch reruns of Bewitched instead?

Finally, back on Monday....some Dutch guy and his German girlfriend came out to Death Valley....drove off the main road....had their car break down....and tried to walk out.  Seven hours later.....their bodies were found.  It was around 105 at the peak of the day.  I suspect they weren't carrying any water in the car as they drove out through Death Valley.  It's a sad end to be in such a predicament.  I lived in Arizona for several years, and typically carried at least a small bottle of water around with me in in the vehicle.  The truth is that you can sustain yourself for a day....if you stay in the shade and not exert yourself.    The minute you start walking in the middle of the day....with no water on you.....you've got maybe three or four hours of life left.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Got Some Money to Burn

Word got out this week....the city of Camden, New Jersey has a new program.  They've decided that things reached a certain point on truancy....that they'd be willing to pay around 70 high school kids $100 each to go and attend school for the first three weeks of the year.  I sat there kinda amazed that they money to toss around and this was some kind of special deal.

But here's the other part to the $100 deal....not only did you have to attend classes without skipping....but you had to attend conflict-resolution and anger-management classes during the same period.

In my day.....before YouTube, nicotine gum, Japanese Anime, and World of Warcraft.....you just kinda attended school.  We didn't get paid.  We didn't get offered up anger-management classes.  We did conflict-resolution mostly by some teacher who ironed out differences in 60 seconds flat.  We had bus drivers who did conflict resolution in 30 seconds.

So I'm kinda amazed that $100 is sufficient to make you think about staying in school.  Course, it's just enough to buy a neat pair of tennis shoes, or take a girl out on an impressive date.  Maybe there's a logic to this.

The thing about this type of logic....you basically need to envision adults needing a $100 bribe....to go to work and stay there all day.  No, I'm not talking about pay....I'm talking about an extra bribe deal where you need the boss to just hand you $100 under the table, and then the boss needs to offer anger-management and conflict-solution classes as part of the deal as well.

Do the Finns offer anything like this to their punk kids?  No.  The Swedes?  No.  The Russians?  No.  Tonga?  Nope.  Wonder why......

Only in America.

The German Comedian

Comedy in Germany took a pause yesterday....Loriot passed away.

There are various stages or levels of comedy....he always ended portraying real people.  You'd watch a clip and then remember that's exactly what your old Uncle Karl says.  Or you'd watch Loriot shopping in a grocery and spending ten minutes trying to determine what kind of mustard to buy.

One of my favorite clips was Loriot being forced by his elderly wife to attend marriage counseling.  At some point, the counselor is trying to determine what the issues are with the husband....and asks him what his favorite color is.  There is this pause, Loriot begins to respond: "Gray. But not just gray, more green-gray, going into brown, a kind of brown-gray with green, a brown-green-gray."   The description goes on and on about gray being relative to green, brown, and just about every color in the rainbow.....until the counselor realizes that gray is really gray and Loriot was simply jabbering away without much sense to his favorite color.

He will be missed.

Oh, and here is a clip of the airplane trip with Loriot.

The Earthquake

It was a bit of a unusual day.  Shortly after lunch....we had a earthquake.  I sit in the bowels of the Pentagon....about as deep down as you can go....in the basement.  I was sitting in an easy-chair....when I felt this swaying.  I didn't way much...but five seconds later....it was doubling in nature and my associate had picked up on the movement.  Around the ten second point...it finally peaked out.  It took the emergency folks in the pentagon about sixty seconds then....to call for an evacuation.

We calmly walked out.  I noticed some folks really peppy and very worried....almost running.  When we finally got to their designated place in the parking lot.....we just stood there.  It took another ten minutes for the emergency folks to announce that this was a 5.8 quake and that we needed to stand there for a while.  

I kinda looked over at the Pentagon structure.  Nothing was cracked and we kinda knew that the building was made in 1943 and pretty much able to withstand a quake of 8 on the quake scale.  They sent us back in and we then began assessing things.

DC is always a curious place.  Across the river....they were sending folks home.  Us?  Standing in the Pentagon.  Our headquarters folks over fifty miles away....further away from the epic center.....they were told to go home.  We just sat there.

So around normal quitting time....I finally head to the Pentagon's Metro bus station.  Needless to say....for my typical bus route....there 300 folks standing there.  I opt'ed for another bus down the platform with six folks standing there.  It typically comes every fifteen minutes.  So I waited an hour, and it never came.  I took the train over to the next suburb and then patiently waited almost thirty minutes for a bus to finally come and deliver me to the apartment. Luckily, no damage there.

DC is the one place on Earth where a guy could stand around for hours because of some emergency or lack of transportation.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

My Neighborhood

There is a developing story in the Bethesda area from last night.  Cops on routine patrol....come up on a park area.  There's a red SUV at the end of the parking lot....which draws their suspicion.  They ask questions and then start to note a number of things in the back of the SUV.  They get the guy out, and then they find all of these home-made fireworks.  They then notice this odd contraption on the roof....like a turret.

Based on a few questions....this twenty-seven year old punk from Florida....Glen Neff.....had come to the DC region to fire off his home-made fireworks, in protest of the American banking system.  The turret was supposed to be this way of quickly firing and rearming....so it had tubes ready to deploy rockets.  He intended to drive around the national mall area (Washington Monument, Capital building, etc), and fire these at night.

So they've arrested the guy.  Charges?  I'm thinking there's at least a dozen charges lined up and he might actually have to spend three years as a minimum....in some prison.  But I also suspect that the drugs that the cops found in the vehicle will convince them that he ought to have a mental eval.  He might actually be spending a fair number of years in a supervised facility because of mental issues.

That's the thing about living around DC.  Every single morning brings this wave of odd events.  Who would have known that some doped up nut from Florida would drive all the way up....to fire off his personal fireworks.  The amusing thing?  Fifty guys will note this home-made turret and tube assembly that Glen attached to his SUV, and make way to Home Depot to buy all the pieces and parts to install a turret on their SUV, with tubes.  Some idiot will even make an assembly that you can buy via the internet and this will become the rage of thousands of guys.

My Neighborhood

It won't make the national news....but it is a curious story.  If you live around the DC area and use Metro to get from the "burbs" into town....then you tend to park at Metro's parking garages (they charge for the parking).

So this past week, we had a couple of big thunderstorms.  As one guy came back after a long day at work....he came to discover that the upper parking deck didn't drain properly (probably never has in the twenty-odd years it's existed).   So enough water collected on the upper deck....to collect water inside the guy's car.  Damage-wise....I'd be thinking $1k of damages.

The guy is likely peeved but our friendly Metro guys will simply say it was an act of God and claim no responsibility.  A guy from Bama would examine the situation and wonder why no holes exist at various ends of the building for the water to just spill out.  But Bama guys aren't allowed to intervene in the acts of Metro stupidity.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

The "Milly" Story

Two months ago....this curious episode started up.  News Corp, News of the World Newspaper (out of the UK), and Rupert Murdoch all got dragged out into the public's attention.  I sat and watched this event unfold.

Amanda "Milly" Dowler had disappeared in the Midlands of the UK.  Thirteen years old and no apparent reason to run away.  The family turned to the cops, and they did the routine man-hour interview process.  Nothing much was happening.  News of the World got onto the story, and did their own version of a man-hunt for "Milly".

At some point, News of the World goes onto voice-mail account via her cellphone....without permission of anyone.  We can debate privacy....but considering that 20k email or voice-mail accounts are hacked on a daily basis in America....does it really matter?

By September of 2002...."Milly" is finally found....dead....apparently murdered.  Things launched into a murder investigation....but to this day....no prime suspect has ever been found, and it's simply a unsolved murder of dozens committed around the Midlands in an average year.

The more I read into the actual "Milly" case....the less interested I am in the Rupert Murdoch angle to this story.  It's like a red herring.  I don't care about the privacy side of this case, the actions of some editor of a newspaper, or who in News Corp authorized this.

The curious thing now?  For every ten hours that the cops actually spent on the "Milly" case in 2002....we are spending one thousand hours now in a investigation sense but only looking at News Corp and Rupert Murdoch.  The killer is walking free and we apparently don't care.

Another curious thing?  When a teenager typically disappears in England today....the cops will typically throw two guys at the case for around eighty man-hours.  They interview the parents, the neighbors, the friends, and look into relationships.  There's got to be some kind of clue standing out....for them to really go past a hundred man-hours.  Their boss will eventually re-prioritize things and maybe there's another twenty hours the next month to continue this.  Either the kid shows up or a body shows....that's the sad extent of any state-run search.  The parents are better off in hiring a private-investigator....but that involves money (which they typically don't have).

So nine lousy years have passed....."Milly" is still dead....a killer walks the streets.....and we only get to this key accusation against the News Corp folks because one of their former detectives told the story (he's dead from a suicide about a month after it all comes out).  The best we can do? Damn the News of the World, News Corp, and Rupert Murdoch.  The comical side of this is that even the US government wants to investigate News Corp now after hearing that maybe they went into the voice-mails of 9-11 victims.

Something ought to make sense....but it doesn't.    

New GM?

This is what we know.  General Motors has this lawsuit going against it.  It's over an issue with the suspension system of 400k Chevy Impalas built from 2007 and 2008.  General Motors has appeared in court the last week, and spoken out that it cannot be held responsible for this "flaw" because of their bankruptcy.  The deal is, by their vision, there was "Old GM" and now you have "New GM".  Naturally, New GM does assume any responsibility under this bankruptcy deal to fix anything but regular repairs.

The court listened to the comment and has yet to render any statement.  It's hard to say how this will be interpreted.  The fact that the case is in a Michigan court right now....might swing things to New GM's direction....if you ask me.

I sat and pondered over this.  Basically....any Old GM car built before the 2009 bankruptcy....is worthless by my interpretation of this court episode.   I would not even offer $100 for a Corvette under these circumstances.

There is this opportunity for Ford here.  Make a commercial....has to be a sixty second deal....talking out about how new Coke died out pretty quickly because it just wasn't as good as old Coke. Then you get to Old GM versus New GM.  You hint that they won't even stand by their brand name, their customer, or their reputation.  Then you shove into the picture some 80-year old guy talking to his grandson...."kid, if somebody won't stand by their work....don't waste any time with them", and they climb into a Ford F-150 pick-up.

The problem I see.....based on the incompetence of GM over the past three decades....is that they will repeat the bankruptcy about every ten years.  So eventually....New GM will lead to Newer GM.  Then another bankruptcy, with the new title of XXL GM.  Then another bankruptcy and a new title like "GM-plus".   You basically get out of dealerships and warranty action.....every five years.  It's a great strategy, for a company operating out of Bolivia....not the United States.

So if you own a car made by Old GM....don't waste any Turtle Wax on the thing.  Don't bother about fixing the squeaky door.  Don't worry about the dent on the hood.  Just drive it until it's got no life left in it....dump it with the crusher guy and skip by the New GM guy as you shop for new cars in the future.  Whatever your dad said about Chevys.....just forget about those wise words.  That was from another era....when John Wayne meant what he said.....when you left your front-door unlocked....and there was just GM (not Old GM or New GM).

Friday, 19 August 2011

My Jobs Ideas

I had a fair amount of time today to think about how the President could bring jobs to America.  He's got four weeks, and I suspect that he really needs a lot of help.  So I thought about this......my solutions have to fit within the frame of the economic experts that the President currently has and be deemed questionable by most folks with common sense.  So, here are my thirteen suggestions:

1.  Currently, a state is allowed two Senators.  I suggest that we increase that to three senators per state....giving all of these unemployed political figures around America....a chance to work for a living as a US Senator.  Each of these new Senators would require a staff, and lobbyists across America would have to bump up their staffs to engage and bribe Senators even more.  By bringing on fifty more Senators....we might actually be able to add another 10,000 Americans employed across the DC region.

2.  Establish a tax (fee) for all those folks who go twelve months avoiding doctors or medical appointments.  By skipping out on medical business profits, they are hurting the American doctor, nurse, pharmacy and hospital sectors.  By staying healthy, you are hurting America's business sector.  So you either see doctors on a regular basis, or you pay a yearly tax/fee.

3.  Force NFL teams to carry 120 players on their squads.  Even if forty guys never play for the whole season....it's a way to keep those folks employed and working.  It'll ensure more uniforms are made...more buses used to transport players....and more hotel rooms to house the players during the season.

4.  Start a federal program where inner-city kids are put into an airline training pilot program.  It doesn't matter if any are ever hired, but you'd have all these fancy training centers with out-of-work pilots training these kids.

5.  Start up several new TV networks for out of work news folks, unemployed actors, and folks desperate to do reality shows.  It doesn't matter if no one watches these new networks....it's just that we have these people working and getting through these lean years.  Maybe accidentally, we might even develop a new version of Gilligan's Island by mistake.

6.  After a house has been declared empty for two years....burn it down.  The banks will admit that the empty house sector is stalled and going nowhere.....so let's burn enough houses that we actually have a lack of houses.....and then have to restart the building sector....thus employing millions of people in the construction business.

7.  Start a war with Mexico.  Basically, we'd have to entice a lot of folks on Mexico's side but the end result has to be a settled treaty where Mexico agrees to take all of California (with it's debt).  It could involve some bribery and I'm thinking we might have to order some National Guardsmen in California to stand down as the Mexicans invade.

8.  Place a $1 entry machine in each government building toilet.  We have to provide facilities but no one says they have to be free.  Make each government worker contribute to our nation's infrastructure as they get the urge around 10AM each morning to visit the toilet.

9.  Mandate less farm equipment.  This would trigger the American farming community to reexamine mules, mule usage, and manual labor.  We'd put more Americans back to work.  Folks might complain the first year or two....but eventually, they'd all come to accept manual labor as just routine.

10.  Establish a government scholarship program to bring in more economic experts for the nation.  The fact that our current group completely missed the boat on all this banking mess and the housing mortgage business....just means that we need more experts.  Naturally, they'd all be employed and making $80k a year....riding fancy cars which they'd buy off the Chrysler lot....buying fancy houses in New York....and sipping $40 bottles of French wine.  

11.  Entice 300k Americans to immigrate to Finland.  I admit, it will be tough, but we will package this as a reality show piece.  Finland will offer up forty acres of wooded area to each American family.  You show up in Charleston and board a sailboat for Finland.  You land....get handed an ax, some tarps, a mule, and some cooking utensils.  By dumping those 300k Americans....we have more jobs to spread around to the unemployed of America.  It'll be rough the first year or two....but the enticement is that we make it a reality show for the rest of America to watch, and all these Ameri-Finns will feel great as a potential TV star on the reality series as they adjust to Finnish society.

12.  Start a two-for-one jobs creation deal.  When you have a guy making $120k a year....you fire the guy and hire two guys to do the same job for $50k each....thus saving you money and giving you twice the manpower, plus you save $20k on the side anyway.

13.  Finally....start thinking about this idea of spliting towns, counties and states....into half....thus creating more burocrats, municipal employees, and doubing the structure that each state needs to support itself.  Imagine eighty states.  Imagine 180 counties in Alabama.  Imagine a North Birmingham and a South Birmingham.  Imagine West Kansas and East Kansas.

The Reality of the Fakers

There is a innocence that I've lost....after being out of the country for seventeen years.  I've come to notice that in the last month....watching reality TV and news programs.  Most of what limited TV I watch....centers around the History Channel, Animal Planet, Bravo, and the Discovery Channel.  Toss in an hour or so with various news channels, and that's about all the TV that I watch.  

I've come to realize that between CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, and CBS.....they've all become reality news channels.  It's a sad comparison.  

The real reality TV programs?  They are all fake and scripted.  The Goldrush show?  It was all scripted and just acted out.  The Flip This House series?  Fake.  The Ghost Hunter shows on the SCI-FI channel?  All fake.  

I was sitting there last night and attempting to watch fifteen minutes of MSNBC, and then it hit me that the guest and the wannabe journalist working for MSNBC were simply playing out a scripted interview.  It was neatly bundled two-liner statements fitting each question asked and in rapid fire.  They were decent actors, but you knew beyond any doubt that it was all fake and scripted.  

So it got me to thinking over all of these think-tank experts who show up.....they are likely fake as well.  The retired political figures from California?  They answer with the fake line of talk.  Republicans and Democrats.....mostly all fake.  

Once you reach this point....you start to doubt the news entirely.  Social Security reform?  Probably all fake reality TV stuff.  The talk about the government failing or staying AAA.....probably all reality TV script.  The President's bus tour through the heartland of America?  Just reality TV stuff.  

The sad thing is that you can put all these news shows at the same level of Animal Planet.  Joe and Fred's attempt at survival in the jungles of Alabama....likely are just as realistic or fake as some guy on CNN talking about the chaos of the Tea Party guys.  Once you start measuring things this way....you really can't take prime time news as real.  So you are left with channel thirty-one's 6PM news of a septic tank explosion over by Rogersville, or some car-fire over by the Piggly Wiggly this afternoon....as being the only realistic news you might see.  It's a big step down in life.  

Only in America.  

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Our "Justice"

Not that it really matters much but the Department of Justice is investigating why Standard and Poors didn't downgrade the mortgage securities business back when all the banks and Fannie Mae started failing.  Some think it's pay back.

I sat and pondered over this.  Did the Department of Justice check out the SEC when they failed to note the mortgage securities business was coming up?  Nope.  Did the Department of Justice start a program to review every single failed bank as they occur?  Nope.  Shouldn't California be downgraded on it's bonds?

The plain truth is....after a while of thinking....that the Department of Justice is a menu organization.  They pick and choose the issues they want to exploit.  Standard and Poor might be a stupidly run organization that really failed to note businesses in the first place....but the Department of Justice is kid's organization that pretends to act mature and in the name of the United States.

So there's a team of lawyers now tailing Standard and Poor's accountants and economic experts.  You can imagine them asking them financial answers....which the Department of Justice lawyers have no background or capability....getting answers that mostly just banker code-words for failure.  The Department of Justice lawyers will walk back into their office, and after a while....ask if they can hire a bunch of experts on economics.  The White House will say sure....and a bunch of former Goldman Sachs or Standard and Poor's employees will be hired to explain economics to the fancy lawyers of the Department of Justice.

Then you can imagine this ending....the Department of Justice lawyers finally understand everything, and start shaking their heads.....they would have done the same thing, under the circumstances.  I'm guessing that the attorney general will be very unhappy with this ending.  But it's our version of 'justice' in America.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

What You Can't Do

To make this kinda simple....some local church up in the Olympia area of Washington state....decided to have a combination baptism and barbecue...at a local state park.  The state management crowd....as soon as they figure out the baptismal part of this....jumped up and denied the church's request.  Some folks in the church wan to sue the state....some lawyers are willing to take the case entirely free just to prove a point....and some folks are wondering what idiot wrote a rule into state park management that says religion on state park grounds will not be tolerated.

I read through about six different versions of this story....because I kept thinking there'd be some real explanation to things...but there isn't.

In Bama....we tend not to mix baptismal and barbecues.  The minister jumps behind the stage area of the church where they've got the four-foot tub sitting there, and they douse folks as necessary.  We wouldn't dare have this down at the creek or lake because you might get bit by water moccasin snakes or get dragged off by the current.

Second, mixing barbecues with this business just isn't practical.  I can't think anybody ever mixing the two together.  There might be a picnic or some bring-your-own-dish deal....but not a barbecue.

Then you come to some state management guy sitting there.  There are ten thousand things you can do at a Washington state park.  Baptismal operations aren't one of the ten thousand.  It makes you wonder how folks came to this decision.  I'm guessing discussing politics at some state grounds was ok, but you can't bring up Jesus.  I'm guessing that laying around in a bikini is ok, but you can't wear some religious robe.  I'm guessing that you can process admiration for Karl Marx at a state park, but you can't discuss Moses or that Noah-guy.

There's probably a dozen Washington park managers sitting around this upcoming weekend....sipping beer....discussing how this mess all came about.  Someone will point out that marijuana is being grown on state park property.  Someone will point out that drug deals regularly happen on state park property.  Someone will even point out various unorganized sex parties that have occurred and folks just looked the other way.  And then they all wonder how baptismals got onto the forbidden list.

From My Neighborhood

We had this unusual murder last weekend across the river, in DC....Viola Drath, who was a respected German journalist and professor at a local university was found dead.  Initial observations showed that she fell in her bathroom.....later, they came to realize that she'd be struck in some fashion.

There are a number of interesting aspects things in this episode.  First....this gal Viola....was 92 years old. Second, she was married to this German guy....Albrecht Muth, who is 47 years old.  Third, Albrecht had apparently been arrested for beating up on Viola  about five years ago....attacking her with a chair, banging her head against the floor and sitting on her.  Viola, being German....was a tough gal and likely came right back for more because the marriage continued on. Fourth, this marriage had run for about twenty years.  Finally, locals tended to have a laugh as Albrecht walked around the neighborhood on occasions in some German military fashion jacket and hat.  In essence, he was some oddball character in the neighborhood that they got used to and just accepted as "normal".  I'd be the first to admit that guys walking around in German military uniforms as their civilian attire....aren't exactly normal.

It's hard to say how the final results will be on this case.  If Albrecht was smart, he'd hire a fancy lawyer....pay off the Democratic party machine in DC with some cash, and confess that he's a bit crazy (showing up in court with the military uniform will help).  He might actually get off the hook.

The Legend of the Line

Occasionally, I have mentioned that I grew up in a dry county in Bama.  There are still around fifteen of these counties left in the state....each edging toward the abyss (falling into hell, obviously).  Folks will tell you that staying dry....prevents all kinds of problems.  You can be safe and secure.  You don't have families breaking apart (even though they are already breaking apart for other reasons).  You don't have money thrown away on booze (even though they'd toss it toward gambling, QVC-purchases, or lusty women).

This mentality has been around for decades.  I would imagine that a quarter of the population of my old county seriously believes in dryness.  The rest?  They've sipped whiskey and beer....and just grin when some guy makes a big deal about staying dry.

Folks are now talking about a petition and getting the wet/dry issue back on the ballot for next year's election.  It will likely be there, and it's believed that the county might finally go wet.  There might be towns that vote to stay on dry.....and some that vote to go wet.

What comes out of this issue....is the end of the legend....the county line.  There, as Bama meets Tennessee....this mythical land has existed for fifty or more years....where you'd drive across the state line and have a beer in the company of others.

The cops have come and gone.  They've run this nifty operation where they'd stop you on a Friday night and ticket you for booze in the car or too much alcohol.  The cop would have a percentage of the ticket for his bonus, and the local town got another piece of this money action.  Now?  The game could be coming to an end.

There will be this sentimental journey by some....remembering the state line....remembering the wise words of some guy half-drunk on Pabst.  Discussions on rotary engines would have occurred....guys sharing opinions on world politics....the stability of Peru....discussions over the forty ways to make catfish....interpreting Dan Rather before and after he was fired....analyzing the effects of peanut butter on mousetraps.....crying over the Dallas Cowboys yet again for a loser year....confessing to ladies at the bar that you'd like to date them but you still have a thing going on with the neighbor's wife, and perhaps shed a tear over the wife's criticism or the girl-friend finally leaving them.  When the world just didn't feel right....you went to the state line beer establishments, and had a few drinks.  You were drinking in sin, and always were noted by the Baptist minister back in God's dry county as being 'lost'.

So this may come crashing down.  You might be able to buy a case of beer in your own town....drive home and sit on the porch.....to drink as much as you want....on your own property.  It probably won't feel right because there's no company....no wise men....no hot lusty older women....and no threat of cop as you would have driven home.

The legend will have come to an end....sadly.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Upon the Kindness of Strangers

Most folks from Alabama will tell you that the greatest thing about life in Bama....is that out of the clear blue....when you desperately need some help....it'll be there.  There's this interesting story that you might want to read, concerning the kindness of strangers.

I blogged a few weeks ago about our former Alabama governor who got into a motorcycle accident in Alaska.  He ended up in the hospital and was actually in pretty serious condition.

Bob Riley is one of those rare political figures who generally says whats on his mind and lays out issues honestly.  If he was ten years younger, I'd imagine that he'd on campaign trail for President right now.  In January after finishing up his governor's job.....he kind of pulled out the "bucket list" that he had and things he wanted to do be the end of his life.

High on this "bucket list" was to travel to the extreme far north of Alaska....by motorcycle.  From Bama to Alaska isn't exactly a short fun ride.  It actually takes a lot out of a guy.

At some point, along some Alaskan gravel road, Bob misjudged things a bit, and because of rain.....Bob lost control.  He was down, and a bit hurt.

Somehow, in the midst of nowhere, this truck comes out and this couple (Steve DeMolen and his girlfriend, Delany Smith) appear.  Steve and Delany agree that this is fairly bad and end up helping Bob...an awful lot.

As they are driving Bob roughly 110 miles to the nearest hospital (an awful far distance based on the kindness of strangers)....Steve and Delany are trying their best to keep this stranger they are helping awake. He's got internal injuries and they just keep talking.  At some point, they finally get around to asking him what he does for a living, which Bob had kind of failed to mention (he's not exactly a guy known outside of Bama).

He finally fessed up at this point....."I was the governor of the state of Alabama.”

At this point, both Steve and Delany got a different prospective on things.  The quote from Steve?  “We both looked at each other.  I pushed the pedal down harder.”

After you read through the entire story and realize just how much this couple did to ensure Bob's delivery to a hospital....you end up being kind of amazed.  But then, for most folks from Bama.....the kindness of strangers is what we live by.  And if some former Alaskan governor ended up in a ditch by our house....we'd likely take just as many actions to help the guy out....just because we believe in the kindness of strangers concept.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Old Statues Turned into New Statues

Over in Sofia, Bulgaria last week....some artist took most of an evening....and painted up a Russian soldier statue.  The authorities are pretty upset about this.  You've got Santa in the middle with binoculars, Superman encouraging folks to rush up, and Ronald McDonald holding a beer bottle of sorts.

I looked at this for a while and came to this opinion.  A guy has to sit at a bench in front of something like this for a long time....thinking and pondering....then planning the whole color scheme and how'd things be accomplished in just three or four hours.  He might have two or three buddies but this is a small group.

I'm guessing as the sun rose over the statues.....they gazed and had a beer or two.  The portrayal is a big accomplishment.  Removing the paint?  Well...if this was spray-on....I'm thinking it might take a major effort to remove all this paint and return everything to normal.  The other curious thing that I'm thinking.....is that this will take off and thousands of statues across the globe might be painted up in a different fashion.  

All done because an artist guy just had too much time on his hands.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

The Butt Slasher?

Here in my neighborhood....we've got this all-points bulletin out....searching for the butt-slasher.   Apparently, over the last year, this Latino-looking guy has come up behind a number of women in the DC and Virginia region....nudged them just a little....and moved on.  Later, these women have come to notice their seat of the pants are cut and on some occasions...they were bleeding a bit from the cut.

Cops have gone back and isolated the video and pictures at these stores....so there's actually this image floating around.

The comical side of this is that they've even established a task-force here in the region.....a couple of cops dedicated to looking for this guy.  The TV stations have cooperated and keep folks kind of updated on a daily basis.

You can imagine this guy sitting there now....having played out his game and had his amusement, and now wondering if his neighbors, his wife, or boss will see the pictures and note it looks like him.  Cops on your tail and potentially 100k locals are familiar with your crime.

Here's the sad thing....if and when you are caught....you get labeled the butt-slasher.  Jail time?  I'm guessing two to three years.  You go off to prison and eventually some of the guys there will learn your nickname.....the butt-slasher.  From that point on....your time in prison will go downhill.  It's a crime label that you'd be best to avoid.

Whatever amusement the guy thought he were going to get out of this.....just screwed up his life a bit.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Fake Gladiators

A couple of years ago....I went off to Rome.  It was one of those weekend trips and just one full day of walking around the city.  For a guy from Alabama....it's one of those things that you need to accomplish before you pass on.

The highlight of this 12-hour walk around Rome....was the Colosseum.  For you folks who've seen the movies and the pictures....the plain truth is that it's really not that big of a structure.  You might be able to put 40k folks in the place on a good day, but I seriously doubt it'd fit more than that.     You can't get past the front door without paying an entry fee, and the waiting time is a minimum of an hour.

After I finished up my observation of the Colosseum....out on the backside of it is this area where tourists kind of mingle.  Here were a couple of guys in old fashioned gladiator clothing, with authentic-looking swords.  The curious thing was that you could not stand next to them for a picture unless you paid roughly $14.  I stood there laughing when this was explained to me.

Up until that point of the day....I'd been mostly amazed at how cheap a day in Rome could be.

Today, news came out of Rome that the local cops had decided this gladiator business was a rip-off.  So the local cops dressed up like gladiators and walked out to the area.  There....they got pounced by the dozen or so long-term gladiators.  A fight ensued.  Then some real cops in real cop clothing showed up to defend their buddies.

In the end.....twenty of these long-term gladiators were arrested....representing seven different families.  Various charges are going to be settle upon.  Beating on cops won't be a simple charge to beat in Rome.

I'm guessing you will walk around this weekend....and not find a single gladiator around the building.  But don't worry......after a month or two.....they will drift back.  You can't keep a corrupt modern-age fake gladiator down for long.

The London Riots

Over the last couple of days....I've been observing the video and commentary over the riots.

To start with....the beginning was a cop confrontation with a drug dealer.  There's one iron clad rule in the UK....you as a citizen must not walk around with weapons on you.  This drug dealer had a pistol and it was demonstrated somewhere in the confrontation, and the UK cops pull weapons on him.  Things went downhill fast, and the drug dealer is dead.

After that......we end with mostly think-tank analysis telling things that mostly don't fit well.  First, we are told that this is strictly a riot situation over the poor dead drug dealer.  That story lasted about one day.....because most folks aren't supportive of any drug dealer in the first place.  So, then we were all told that these riots were mostly about all the government funding cuts for the working poor of England.  Then we all saw the videos of folks robbing stores and it's mostly all young people (under the age of 25).  If working poor were suffering like the think-tank guys say....then there would be 50-year old guys out there (there weren't).

So then some guy from the Economist (a noted and worthy magazine)....came to discover that amongst all of the great robbery opportunities....the one store that the rioters simply would not touch....was book stores.   There was a comment that a store employee even dared the rioters to come forth and rob them....just to see if they might learn something.  The rioters just weren't going to accept that offer.

Amusingly now....with video shot all throughout the riots....there's this police effort to review images and visit houses.  They are arresting people and the threat of weeks or months in jail is a real possibility for at least a thousand folks.

One story this morning concerns some young gal studying Italian and English at a local university there.  The cops stopped her car and found lots of stolen electronic gear.  She's been detained and will face charges.  The university has said they are simply watching the episode and won't say much about what will happen.  Basically....if she is convicted....they have the right to dump her from enrollment.  The odds of another public university in England picking her up?  Zero.  So at 19 years old, and probably very intelligent....her entire life will fall apart in the next month if the court convicts her of having stolen items in her possession.  She will become.....in essence....a permanent bar hostess at best.  A sad end to a dim-witted moment.

As for the think-tank guys.....they might want to put a bit more effort into their journalism.

Doctor Walgreen, I Presume

There is this little story out there...mostly in business or economic areas....which the national news probably won't carry.  Walgreens is discussing the idea of offering health insurance.  There's not a lot of description to this....mostly because Walgreens is simply talking right now....nothing else.

So settle back and imagine this picture.  Walgreens offers up six different plans to fit various folks.  They start hiring these guys from various third-world countries who have doctor degrees.  They hire up physician's assistants.  They hire up some fairly smart nurses.

You go and buy package "A"....for a single guy....$699 a year for out-patient care only.  You call up the local Walgreens about a problem...show up at 7AM as you drive to work.  You pay $12 as your deductible, and he writes out this great prescription for a Walgreen's discount drug that only costs you $9 for a full ten days of drugs.  If they only have a nurse on duty....no problem....a VTC is set up and the nurse checks everything and talks to Doctor Hun from China who sends a prescription over the fax to the local Walgreens for your ailment.

You go and buy package "B" for a family....$999 a year for out-patient care only.  Your deductible is $10.99 total.  Same deal for the prescriptions being discount and cheap.

You want the full-up in-patient and out-patient package?  $499 a month for a single guy.  You have to use one particular hospital in the local area.....but everything gets covered and all your drugs are via Walgreens.

I suspect at the heart of this matter....Walgreens suspects that the President's health care program is to be tossed out by the Supreme Court.  They will waltz into the mess with this five-star program that fits the little guy better than any program in America.  Discounted drugs, cheap policies, a doctor in every Walgreens and an established name.  Within weeks after this....Wal-Mart buys up Walgreens and builds this into a five-star medical cheapo program that would even make Ronald Reagan weep.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Baptists and Tasers

This is what we know.  Down in Saint Elmo, Alabama....the cops got called out to the local Baptist Church.  To be honest.....this was at the New Welcome Baptist Church.  It's not a familiar name, but I'm guessing that they practice mostly Baptist traditions and incoporate a few new things.

What the cops ended up finding....here was the church minister....all tased up and some older gal who'd been cut on the arm.  In Bama....this is a pretty dire situation when cops get called to a Baptist Church.

The best we can say.....somewhere after the Sunday service.....things went out of control.  The minister had decided that the music director was not the kind of guy he wanted working for the church.  So there was notice given after the service, and the music director....Simone Moore....got fairly riled up.

Simon is apparently a locally known  R and B musician and he had run for the US Senate (unsuccessfully).  Simon took things personal when told he was fired....and then pulled out a taser.  Things got heated up....so one of the deacons (Harvey Hunt) pulled out a pocket knife to let Simon know that when you come to a fight.....tasers are mostly for wussies and knives for real men.  Sadly, Simon's mother was attending services reached up to protect her son....and got jabbed with the knife.

All total....six folks got hurt....none seriously.

Presently, both Simon and the deacon are the ones in a fair amount of trouble.  Typically in Bama, the next Sunday will be this occasion where the minister asks everyone to pray for the deacon and just kinda skip over Simon's situation.  I'm guessing neither Simon, his mama, or any of their relatives will ever attend this church again.

From my prospective....the best question to ask....is it really necessary to carry a taser to church, or a fair-sized knife?  I'm asking this because most of us guys who've all attended some service at a church....all get fairly bored.

I can just see this episode developing....where Gus is sitting in the back pew....bored....and he pulls out his fancy new taser to check things out, and accidentally presses the on-button and gives himself a couple hundred watts of juice....falls out on the aisle floor.  The minister seeing this....naturally in a Baptist Church....yells out that Satan is amongst you folks....trying to bring harm.  A dozen folks will want to run and confess something that it'd be better off not confessing.

Meanwhile, Denny, buddy of Gus, is trying to pick up the tasered guy and just lay him flat on the pew until he comes around.....hoping that no one figures out how stupid Gus really was.

Only in America.

The Flushed Money

It kind of shocked me....there is still 2009 stimulus money left in the pot.  You would think....that we would have burned through all that cash in 2009, 2010, and 2011.  The amount?  Between $100 billion and $150 billion.

The money is tied to what you'd consider slow-moving infrastructure projects (bridges, roads, high-speed rail, etc).

Some folks have commented on this....that we ought to bundle it up and hand out another round of tax-credits to folks....to boost up the American economy.  That would go against the White House plans and what the expert economists recommend.

So the over effect of the $800-billion spent over what is now perceived as almost four years?  Nothing much.  You can't find anyone who'd tell you that they feel the money did much of anything.  The plain truth is that we kind of just spent $200 billion extra a year.

My own perception is that the next time some guy stands up and says we need a stimulus package....he's likely the first guy that we need to fire.

Simply Observations

Over the past two weeks....I've watched about sixty minutes of MSNBC's Al Sharpton.  He's the new "talker" for the late afternoon.  Frankly, he carries himself for the introduction, and it's downhill from that point on.  I kinda feel sorry for the guy because he might have done better thirty years ago in his youth in this kind of position.  So I'm predicting a short run with Al.....maybe six months, and he'll disappear from MSNBC.

The White House has authorized massive assistance to help make the 'get-Bin-Laden' movie.  It's supposed to be made and released by October of next year....obviously in time for the elections.  Here's the one problem I see out of this.  If all the budget cuts come to the Pentagon like folks expect....to save Medicare and Social Security....then the folks who might have an appreciation for the movie.....will actually blast the administration for downsizing the Pentagon....instead of enjoying the American mission to get Ossama.

Several comments from journalists and focus groups over the past month have asked the question if it would have been wiser to have Hillary as President instead of President Obama.  Frankly, there is zero value in even mentioning this.....you have what you have.  You can't go back.  But, if you were reading into some script....then maybe VP Hillary makes perfect sense and she'll help to fix all the broke things.

Finally, Moodys....the ratings service....has spoken out and said that cities and states are on their horizon to downgrade their bonds.  Yes, it may finally come to California, Chicago, and various locations that we thought were immune.  So you might just be looking at phrase two and phrase three of the economic mess.  The stock market might be a up and down for months to come.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

My Neighborhood

Sometimes, there are stories locally that someone from outside of the DC region simply will not believe....even if I tell the story.  This is one of those.

Across the river....in the Capital Heights region of DC....there was this guy mowing his yard.  Amongst the normal tools he had out in this effort....was a broom.  The broom at some point ended out near the street (probably even on the pavement, but that part of the story isn't absolutely clear).

Then a local cab pulls up....Michael Ricardo Cruz was the driver....55 years old.  Cruz gets out of his car and picks up the broom (apparently to take it in his car).  The mower guy.....Norm Wood (the III) got all testy about this effort of taking the broom.  So this evolved from a verbal thing, into a fistfight, and then finally....Cruz (the taxi guy) pulled out a pistol and shot Norm Wood dead on the streets of Capital Heights, DC.

Cops are still investigating the episode.  I'm guessing that they'd like to think there is more to the story....like drugs or alcohol involved....or just anything beyond a fight over a broom.

You can imagine the eventual court case coming.....full-up murder trial.  There's exhibit "A"....the pistol.  And there's exhibit "B"....the broom.  The jury will sit there for this and mostly wonder if there is something else to the story, but there isn't.  It's hard to even envision this trial lasting more than two days because there really isn't much else to cover.  A guy is dead over an attempted broom robbery.....nothing more.

The odds of something like this in Alabama?  I'm calculating that maybe in a 100-year span....there might have been an episode like this.  The sad thing is that this kind of oddball murder thing occurs about every week or two in DC.  And that....is my neighborhood....sadly.

The New Reality

There are folks from forty-nine states captivated tonight....by live action reporting in Wisconsin....over a state-level senator recall election for six Republican state senators.  MSNBC is covering this live analysis and fairly thrilled over reports coming in.

I sat there and pondered over this.  Thirty years ago....it simply wasn't news about state-level senators from another state.  So the news media has slipped enough that folks watch this type election like a NASCAR race.  Apparently, there is some kind of thrill involved.....even if there is no level of common sense over the situation.

In a decade, I could see city elections in Oshkosh being hyped up via MSNBC and watched by folks in Knoxville, Tennessee.  Perhaps we'd sit down on a Tuesday night in August and observe county elections in Idaho for entertainment.  Maybe we'd even have city council elections from Reno that would get us all peppered up in September as the NFL season started up.   

What I see in the future is a channel or two that specializes in city and state elections....mostly from places that none of us really know anything about.  Eventually, we'll add foreign elections....from Tonga, Peru, and El Salvador.  It'll end up like the History Channel....mostly reality TV and some think-tank guy talking local Tonga politics and getting both opposition parties on the island really hostile and acting mischievous. My name for the channel?  Democracy TV.....live and in full rich color, with mostly all corrupt and diabolical politicians as your actors.

Kind of sad how far some Greek form of government has fallen.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

A Word About Waivers

Back around nine years ago....this No Child Left Behind law became effective.  It was one of the five big Bush era accomplishments....or at least they will tell you that.

Eventually, and this took a while....folks got around to realizing that a fair amount of cheating was being done by teachers and administrators.  That was the only way that they could look outstanding or improving.  Officials throughout America are disturbed by the trend, and they need relief.  So they are asking the Obama administration....to waiver them from testing mandates.  It appears very likely that the Secretary of Education will find some magical non-existent waiver program in his pocket, and just give the schools the ability to opt out of testing.  So in effect...the No Child Left Behind law dissolves....even though congress didn't approve the waiver.

That's how things work in America.  If you can't fix something....you waiver it....with imaginary waivers that are non-existent and not stamped legal by Congress.

I paused over this.  There are a lot of kids who don't pass their driving test.  Why couldn't we waiver that and just hand them a license with an imaginary waiver?

There are a lot of college kids who booze it up and party through four years and just can't graduate.....so why couldn't we waiver them with an imaginary waiver?

There are a lot of folks with home loans that way beyond what they can ever pay.....so why can't we waiver them with imaginary payments of some type from the government?

There are a lot of folks with cars in bad shape and facing a vehicle inspection by the state.....so why can't we waiver them with an imaginary inspection waiver?

There are a lot of idiot Congressmen and Senators who face a dismal re-election in 2012.....why can't we waiver them so they can just skip the election?

The bottom line?  Never raise your standards beyond reality....otherwise, you fail the objective and look bad.  Keep the standards low, so we can match our educational agenda up with Tonga....a respected third-world country in the Pacific.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Simply Observations

With the 500 point drop on the DOW today.....it deserves a moment of analysis.  The President and the Democrats point out that this is a reflection of the Tea Party rather than anything else.  If one does want to believe this....then it's small number.....a third-rate...."rinky-dink" group of Americans who understand nothing about the way America operates that has caused the AAA rating to go AA-plus.  It's like saying that three AAA-level players from Huntsville arrive at the major league-level and carry their team onto the World Series.  It's a nice fantasy....but it's all a fantasy, with no element of reality.  Either they are totally insignificant as the Democrats claim....or they are a major force....like the Democrats also claim....but they can't be both at the same time.

Not a huge deal...but it makes you wonder.  A guy in Germany....from Jena got taken this weekend to the hospital.  The cops did a blood test because he looked pretty drunk at the scene.  His blood alcohol level....was .59 percent.  This was actually ten times the legal driving limit.  Typically, .30 is enough to kill a guy.  You have to admire this guy....still surviving after having this much in his system.

Finally, for those who didn't pay attention to the final part of the debt deal.....this might surprise you.  If the super-committee isn't able to come to an agreement....there's a free-pass given to Medicare and Social Security cuts for January.  Every cut necessary....comes from the Pentagon and other agencies that remain.  So if you take out roughly 35 percent of the budget that you can't carve on....that means the remaining 65 percent must achieve all the cuts.  You can imagine the comical game of massive cuts coming up in January, with lots of furious anger from both parties over what each did to screw things up.  So.....more of the same.....just double what you saw in July.

He Would Have Won

Friday night, I sat and watched an interview with former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford.  If you remember back a year or two ago....this was the guy who whispered about as being a potential Presidential candidate.  He gave good inteviews.  Folks around South Carolina liked him....even though they typically vote Democrat.  Sanford gave great speeches.  And the guy could actually make sense on various policies without much effort.  He was a four-star Republican.

Naturally, as you'd imagine in most cases....guys like this screw things up.  Mark Sanford happened to meet some gal from Argentina a couple of years prior to this, and got all hot and peppered over her.  So Mark cooked this great story of how he was going to walk the Appalachian Trail.  He just said he was going, and would not have any cell phones with him....so no contact for at least a week.  Then he runs down....jumps on the plane, and flies off to Argentina.  Things unfold and this all got figured out.

Folks in South Carolina were terribly upset, having voted for some idiot like this.  His wife was pretty sore, and started divorce proceedings.  Folks were hoping to fire him but he just stayed on and finished out his term.  As far as anyone was concerned.....Mark Sanford's political career was finished.  You can't find anyone much in the state who would vote for the guy.

I sat and watched him on Friday.  He gave an impressive interview.  By the end, you really felt bad because this was the one guy who could out-talk, out-think, and out-speak the President.  Sadly, he bumped into some Argentine gal and goofed everything up.  This was the Republican who could have easily won the 2012 election.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

The Water Laws

It likely won't make the national news or even the Washington Post....but the Iranian cops got real tough this weekend....arresting 17 young men and women.

Violation?  A water fight, with water pistols and guns.....at some beach-theme park in Iran.  The cops decided after the arrest that five of the folks could be let go....probably because they were women.  But there's to be some tough sentences handed out for acts forbidden by the Muslim religion and insulting police officers.

I sat for a while reading over four versions of the story.  Added to this mess....they were taking pictures and pumping them out via Facebook to their buddies.  Iranian cops.....via Muslim rules....apparently can view Facebook.

Some guy....apparently the head of the morality police in Iran....warned that cops would act with force if necessary....to ensure such events don't happen in public.  This naturally would make everyone feel safe, that water-gun fights were going to be stopped....come hell or high water.

I tried to imagine a country that had laws (passed by bigger dimwits than our Republicans or Democrats) that forbid water-gun fights.  It's hard to imagine this.  Then I tried to imagine some police chief walking around and telling everyone to feel safe because his morality police are on the ball....protecting life and society in Iran.  It's a comical episode for the most part.

You can imagine mullahs walking around and talking up a storm about protecting society from water-guns. Even the biggest fools in Iran will just sit there and just grinning up a storm.....then laughing until they fall on the floor....with tears in their eyes.

Yes, Iran must fight the evil Americans, the evil Christians, the evil water-gun manufacturers, and just about anyone else who might be out to have fun on some beach on a hot day.

For some reason, I'm think Muhammad is sitting around at the gates of heaven....mostly viewing this and shaking his head.  He'd liked to have had a water-gun back 2,000 years ago, but things just weren't that technical then.  I'm guessing he'd like to have a face-to-face chat with the mullahs.....but things like that just aren't possible.  Meanwhile, the mullahs are likely ordering their own water-guns and hope to have secret water fights within the basement areas of mosques.  Life will never be the same.

Just a Hint

It came as an odd thing to me....asking what countries still have a "AAA" bond rating...and then finding the answer.  There's this list of the safe AAA countries and the unsafe AAA countries.  So the countries on the unsafe level of AAA?

Austria is one of the unsafe AAA countries....with almost eighty percent of it's GDP as debt (fairly unsafe territory to be standing).  Finland got on the list because of a aging population and very limited export capability.  France and the UK both got on the list....mostly because of pension issues, tax reforms that never come, and debts that keep rising.  So we were in good company with the UK, France, Austria, and Finland.

The completely safe countries?  Switzerland, Sweden, Australia, Singapore, Norway, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, and Canada.  Now what you should know about most of these countries....they have significant debt in relationship to their GDP (way less than the US though).....but most of them have low unemployment rates.  In essence, they've kept a friendly environment with companies and didn't hint around every three minutes of another construction code change, another tax reform effort on companies, or flip-flopping on national politics.

So, some countries are doing the right thing, and the US is way out there....in worse shape than Finland.  This ought to make political dimwits from both parties nervous, and wanna jump on a plane quickly to conduct survey of Finland, drink some Finnish booze, and hustle up some expert Finnish economic experts.

After reading through this.....I've come to three basic suggestions for the President:

1.  Fire Timmy, our White House economics expert and actually go to Finland and hire some Finnish guy for two years.  I know a bunch of American economists will be upset, but maybe it's time to get fresh prospectives on things.  A Finnish guy might actually be a bit of fresh air.

2.  All of the 'safe' countries on the AAA rating episode....have a pretty clear tax reform code deal.  Maybe it's time to do what the experts have told Washington for thirty years....really and truly reform the tax code. I'm not talking about adding 10k pages onto the present code.  I'm saying clear the 70k pages entirely and just start totally fresh.

3.  Even though I hate to suggest it....but all of the 'safe' countries have zero military presence outside of their borders.  They refuse to pay for anyone's else needs in terms of defense.  Maybe it's time to bring half the troops overseas....back home.  It's alot cheaper to have 37k US troops from South Korea in Texas....than in South Korea.