Friday, 30 September 2011

You Had to Expect It

Word came out yesterday that a group is now after the Pentagon to accept transgender folks....dude-gals, she-males, he-females, etc.  While 'don't ask, don't tell' is completely gone.....the Pentagon still has some rules in place to forbid just about anything that gets to be awful kinky (exhibitionism, transvestism, voyeurism, and other paraphilias).

So when the first door was finally opened up and folks thought that things were really settled...they really weren't.

It is in a way....kind of comical.  You can imagine Sargent Snuffy coming up after three weeks of leave, and appearing in a woman's uniform.  He tells the Captain that he's had an operation and fulfilled his desire to be half-man, half-woman, and half-other (to cover any possible circumstances).  He wants to wear the women's uniform, use the women's latrine, and have respect.  The women in the building say NO way.  The guys in the building announce that they don't want Sargent Snuffy in their toilet, and things start to become serious just in the first hour of confrontation.

By lunch, the wing commander is attending to Sargent Snuffy's situation, and has a flight surgeon (Doc Karl) to examine Snuffy.  Doc Karl is awful impressed with the work and asks about how certain things function....mostly because they never covered this kind of stuff at the University of Texas.  By late in the day....Doc Karl confirms that Snuffy is neither male or female....thus making the wing commander's job twice as hard.  

They end up moving Sargent Snuffy over to some building which has an extra toilet and just give him two functions to perform while they figure this out.

There are comical and serious questions here.  What uniforms are authorized?  Does the Geneva Convention cover she-males?  When Snuffy accuses someone of making a pass....will it matter what sexual orientation the other person is?

But the door is now in a curious situation.  If you accept she-males....then you got to start accepting serious bondage folks, exhibitionism, and forty-four other kinky habits as ok within military circles.  My guess is that within a decade....just anything that you dream up....will have to be acceptable within the Pentagon.  As most of you know.....the Pentagon is always at the forefront of developing situations....so I'm guessing we will bring another twenty new and odd orientations.....that folks aren't even fantasizing about today.....and really push the envelope.  Relationships with ghosts or imaginary people will become acceptable.  Kinky things involving 120 watts of electricity will become acceptable.  And some elements of cannibalism will likely be openly discussed within the Pentagon....to accept the five folks from New Mexico who have decided that they are fairly weird and need to serve the country.

Only in America.    

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Me for a Nobel Economic Prize?

I came to this huge moment of pondering this morning....between bacon and hash browns....over the huge issue of taxing the rich.

A whole bunch of rich folks are begging the President to tax them even more....which sounds a bit idiotic if you ask me.  Then it hit me.....there's no need for Congress or the President to get involved in this mess.  On the normal tax forms that rich folks fill out....like you and me.....there's the area for tax credits.  If you are a rich billionaire-kind-of-guy.....simply skip putting in tax credits on the form, and you automatically pay more.

Yep, just skip filling in a dozen credits.....and you likely pay an extra $500k here, and $17 million there, and maybe $88 million over there.  There you go.....you save America, just by skipping tax credits.  No hassle in the House or Senate....you save America.

Naturally, some folks will want to nominate me for a Nobel Prize, which I will decline.  The idea is simple....and I imagine that Warren Buffet would be first in line to skip the credits.  Well.....maybe.

DC's Next Generation

Statistics always interest me, although this is a pretty negative number.  They reported yesterday in the DC area....after consulting with local DC kids in middle school....that around twelve percent of them have contemplated suicide in the past year.

I sat there....looking over this age group of twelve to fourteen year old kids, and this number really doesn't make much sense.

DC is a lousy place for a kid to grow up.  It's a massive urban zone, where corruption in local government runs rampant.  Your role models?  Mostly losers who wear suits, talk political, and run from one scandal to another.    Half of the district is a place that you'd prefer to avoid after 10PM.  There are various areas that you'd best avoid twenty-four hours a day.  About every five days, you've got some death from a shooting or assault....and in half the cases, the guy walks away.

The future of the district?  The political folks are talking about legalizing the sale of medicinal grass as an "impact" move.  The local political figures have worked up various schemes to legalize online betting.  You've got various local groups who are up in arms about Wal-Mart coming to the district and don't want anything to do with their arrival.  It's like living in a third-world country (sorry, Bolivia.....we are almost in your league).

Yeah, these punk kids are looking around at the future of living in DC....and really don't see much.  The sad thing is that you could take the kid out to the middle of Iowa, and they'd probably see a pretty positive light on life and what communities have to offer.  But no one wants to offer one-way tickets to district folks to leave.

Only in America.

The Plot

This is what we know.  This physics graduate, Rezwan Ferdaus, from an area around Boston (26 years old) decided he wanted to commit jihad.  Naturally, being a smart guy about this business...he went to a web site and apparently got into some serious chat business....with an undercover FBI guy.

"Rez" got led around.  What he basically had....was determination and an idea.....and nothing else.  He wanted to conduct jihad on the Pentagon with this model plane assembly unit.  I looked at the pictures....it's not the typical small scale plane....it's actually a fair-sized unit.  You could probably put twenty pounds of some plastic explosive into it (my humble opinion).  He'd fly it via some type of radio system....into the building.

Naturally...since I work in the Pentagon, I'm kinda concerned about the concept of this plan.  But, like most Islamic guys.....he really didn't even get to first base.

As the smoke is clearing, you start to notice a number of problems with "Rez".  At twenty-six....he still lives at home.  The FBI walked up and presented papers....and were tearing apart dad's house this morning.

As you assemble "Rez's" path to glory....he had some decent soccer skills and ended getting a scholarship of sorts to a local college....eventually getting a degree in physics.   You would think that a guy would have a pretty open path at that point, but naturally....as a loser, he didn't get too far.  After college, his chief occupation ended up being this drummer job with a local band.  I doubt if he ever took home more than $1200 a month, although maybe I'll be proven wrong on that account.  A degree in physics usually gets you something in life....better than drummer in a band.

So the FBI ends up with this dimwit who admitted to them that while he wanted to commit jihad....he really didn't have any money.  One news clip today said that the guy had to ask the FBI undercover guy for some money.....to accomplish his trip to DC and conduct surveillance of the intended target.

In essence, the FBI end up with a guy who was a loser and dimwit....with a belief in jihad.  "Rez" will face up a serious court situation and could end up with twenty years in prison.  My guess is that the jury might see him as awful naive and challenge the concept that the FBI had a big player here....maybe the kid ends up with twelve years.

Dad?  Well....I'm thinking he's a bit peeved over the FBI messing with the house and he's really upset with "Rez" never getting an honest job as a physicist.  His likely comments over drummers being losers in life....may have a point now.

The end result?  The FBI saved us from another dimwit Islamic guy.  For better or worse, it's a positive thing.  And some federal prison up in the Boston region gets a new drummer for the prison band for the next twelve years.  Only in America.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Just Observations

In Saudi Arabia....they caught another woman driving....so they've prescribed ten lashes.  When you read stories like this....you tend to shake your head.  No one from her family will stand up and whoop up on the judge involved in this.  Most of the guys just stand around and grin when the topic of this lash business gets brought up.  Their belief....which goes back two thousand years....is that after the lashes, she'll straighten out and do right from this point on.  The proven fact, from most of British history when this technique was applied.....is that someone becomes fairly vindictive and revengeful.  You'd be just asking for trouble.  But since this is Saudi Arabia....maybe they deserve the anger of some women.

The Greek government stood up and passed a new property tax episode.  The way this one works....you come down and pay the increased taxes on the property.....or you have your electricity turned off.  That got folks all peppy.  Then the union for the electrical department said they would not cooperate.  So I'm thinking this nifty idea....which just barely passed anyway, will never be put into operation.  Here, the country is in terrible financial woes, and even a ten-percent increase on property taxes would get folks all riled up.  If you had to pick a place where it's bound to be a total mess for the next decade, Greece is it.  They will likely destroy their entire tourist empire as this all comes together.

Up in Peekskill, New York.....folks at the local city council meetings have been a bit excited about things.  So the mayor jumped up and instituted a new policy.....no clapping of hands.  Apparently, there have been several sessions of the city council where folks were pretty vocal about expectations.  Tea Party activity?  Maybe.  But if you notice....folks around the US have started to attend various civic function meetings and won't hesitate to say something.  A bold new world.....which clapping can be a problem.  I pondered upon this.  The Brits have a rule in Parliament....no clapping.  They think it's very undignified anyway.  So what you do....when you think someone made a point....you say "here, here".   Don't ask me where the phrase came from, although it was supposed to originally mean "hear him, hear him".  I'm guessing the mayor might be shocked when forty of the folks sitting in the audience shout "here, here", and start to go nuts.  They'd probably have to ban folks from attending, and all you could do is watch this stuff via some local TV cable channel.

Andy Rooney retires this next Sunday from Sixty Minutes.  It'll be the final two minute commentary.  To be honest, I'd prefer that they just cut the whole show and let Andy talk for sixty minutes straight.  He might actually dump forty things that folks ought to think about in life, and change the dynamics of America for the next decade.  But Sixty Minutes might be fearful over what Andy might say.  The thing is, when you have a guy who arrived on the beaches of Normandy, hours after the initial wave.  Andy was one of those guys, and remembers an awful lot.  The thing I admired about the guy....was that he gave commentary which was always two minutes of saying something important.  Today, folks run an entire newscast....acting like it's news, but it's really commentary.  They stretch two minutes into thirty, or even sixty.  You reach a point where you realize there was only one or two significant things said for thirty minutes, and then you start shaking your head.  They could have done an "Andy" and laid out this simple commentary in two minutes, but they just wouldn't dare do it.  So we are losing something on Sunday, and it's kinda sad in a way.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Terra Nova and Reality

Last night....with my finger on the Dallas and Washington game button, I tended to spend most of my time watching Fox's Terra Nova....a time-travel-dinosaur adventure show....it's first of the new season.

So, here's the problems with this 'epic'.  First, the show starts with the Earth about 140 years in the future.  They've climate-changed themselves into heck, with carbon filling most of the atmosphere, and it's a pretty miserable place to live.  They really ask here to bend over backwards and believe this start of the entire show.

Then you come to the family unit.  A typical Chicago cop married to some fancy-pants doctor who likely spent $1.9 million to get her PhD degree (this is 2150 or such, you know).  The cop gets arrested for assaulting another law enforcement guy, and sent off for five or six years of prison.  The wife comes up two years later....all peppy....she's got a job offer where the family can go to dinosaur-land....85 million years in the past (without the husband), and no option to return.  The husband escapes and joins up with the family....just fifteen seconds away from their slingshot toss back 85 million years.  Yep, makes perfect sense.

Then you get introduced to all kinds of bad dinosaurs....where folks don't have a 50-cal gun to take them down.  They just keep shooting the bad dinosaurs.....and they just don't fall down much.  You'd think that folks would have just one or two 50-cal guns.....but apparently, you just aren't allowed those in the future, or the past.

Then you get tossed these red herring-type markers.  There's a probe that should have shown up in the 2150 and never did....so everyone thinks that the time they've arrived in....is mostly just another version of life....not their life.

Then I came to the end....thinking, it's odd here that you pick 85 million years ago.  Sooner or later in this period....some meteor lands on Earth and destroy most of life as we know it.  So, the logic of picking this era?  I kept thinking.....all of these idiots will die via a meteor....either in season two, three, four, or five.   It's pretty essential to the whole story, if you think about it.

So, to be honest, I'm really not bought on Terra Nova.  I'm admitting I'm not hooking on much of any new TV show for the season.  And I'm not even hooked on Two and a Half Men anymore with this dopey replacement dude.

Yep, it's Ice-Road-Truckers....on the History Channel for me again.

My Town

We had an unusual episode in DC yesterday.  Down at some GSA building in town.....a toilet exploded.  Apparently, some gal was sitting on it and based on the news stories....a high pressure situation occurred.  This gal was hurt in some fashion, and an ambulance ended having to be brought out.  Based on the story, I assume they carried her off.  No one on the condition of the lady.

I'm hoping the best for her....but I'm hoping she's got a good lawyer.  It's a million-dollar wound and the government will have to face up to a pretty serious legal situation.

There's no way that she'll just return to work.  The sheer embarrassment will be enough to keep her from doing that, and I assume that this might be later rated as a "disability".

There is another side of this story.  The facility folks will have a safety team to arrive and ask four hundred questions.  Who last checked the toilet?  Who messed with the water pressure?  Who certified the work?  These are issues that you really don't want to answer.

But here's the final thing for folks to worry about.  If it happened once....could it happen again?  Would you walk into such a toilet?  I'm guessing that every woman in that building will think several minutes about the need to attend to some personal needs.  Nobody will flush anything unless they are standing three feet away.  Fear of using the toilet?  That's really a problem that none of us prefer to deal with.

Only in America.

If Only We Could Agree

“I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won’t hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover. I really hope that someone can agree with me on that.”

--North Carolina Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue

I sat there for five minutes....looking at this quote and the meaning of it.  What Bev (Governor Bev Perdue) wants to grasp....is that Constitutionally, things are concreted down pretty hard....but dang it....we need to suspend the Constitution and fix our current problems.

It's a fair statement of sorts.  I seem to remember some German guy from the 1930s....running Germany, and making the same decision for the country.

My honest perception is that Bev didn't attend many high school civics classes.  Her profession is a hospital administrator type job, so I'm fairly confident that she never had to take any history or government classes in college.  So she's lacking in Constitutional understanding.  And if you asked her to detail out the Electoral College....she'd just grin and admit that wasn't on her knowledge list.

The question to ask....why just suspend it for two years?  Why not six or ten years?  This would allow everyone to take firm positions.  And the Senators?  Well....you could allow them to stay ten years.  And the President?  Maybe twelve years.

Once you start to toss this rule and that rule with the Constitution....then you start to wonder about all of these little non-essential stupid rules.

So tonight, Governor Bev is sitting there....sipping on a Cherry Coke, and thinking about what she said.  Maybe she was on medication today.  Maybe there was just a bit of humor in her suggestion.  Maybe she meant every word but now regrets it.

Only in America.     

The Stuff That Legends Are Made Of

It was one of those five-star stories that you want to fall into place and happen.  Our recently awarded Medal of Honor winner....Marine Sgt Dakota Myer, came out and admitted that he wanted a career change.  He didn't want to stay in the Marines for a career.  Someone asked him what he wanted to do in life...and he said he'd like to be a New York City fireman.  It's a odd choice....considering that he is from Kentucky.  But his intentions hit a brick wall.....the application period for applying....to cover the next four years....had just expired.  Then, some New York folks....always prone to find will and a way....asked a judge to reopen the time period.  The New York City judge didn't see an issue.

You can imagine this scripted movie.  Marine saves 30-odd men in Afghanistan firefight....gets awarded the Medal of Honor, then turns around and become a New York City fireman.  It's a Gary Cooper script if you ask me.

New York City begs for guys like this....bigger than life.

The curious thing though....is that you are taking a guy from Kentucky, and moving him into New York City.  If I went around Bama and asked a thousand guys about the aspiration of moving to New York City....there might be a hundred guys who dream of such a fantasy, but less than ten of the thousand would take the big step.  Usually, it's guys who are pumped up to be an actor, or broadway singer.  But to be fireman?  You just don't find guys like that.

My guess is that he'll make the final cut, and a year from now....finally get the call to attend the academy.  He'll have no trouble and sometime in 2013....he'll be an honest-to-God New York City fireman.  I'm thinking they ought hire up a reporter to run with his crew because he just might continue on with his heroic tendencies.  It's the stuff legends are made of.

My Neighborhood

A strange event occurred over in Alexandria, Virginia last week.  We had a local community activist, Lenny Harris, who got a cellphone call on Wednesday....then announced that he had to attend to some business.  Then he disappeared.  So far, the only thing to turn up.....was his cellphone....found on the local Woodrow Wilson Bridge.  His car?  Hasn't been seen.

We are up to seven days now.....that the guy hasn't been seen.  His wife came out on TV yesterday and asked for public help in finding the guy.

No one identified who made the call to Harris to start this episode....which I find kinda interesting.  My guess was that it was another cellphone...without a name attached to it.  His recent upsurge in community affairs?  Well....it's a curious thing.  Lenny had started dumping on a increase in crime within a community of Alexandria.  He wanted more public attention, more city attention, and more police protection for the area.  I'd hate to suggest that he picked on some crowd and got them terribly upset, but frankly at this point, you just sit there and wonder how a guy and his car up and disappears so easily.

Monday, 26 September 2011

The Way We Are

One of the things that came out this past week....out of the Arlington area...concerns the Arlington Cemetery. Apparently....for all these years....they didn't have an answering machine.  When I heard this comment....I just sat back in amazement.

So the story goes....that when business over the past fifteen to twenty years started to pick up and folks had a loved one to die who wanted to be buried in Arlington....they'd try to call the Cemetery and find out how to make that happen.  The dimwits who ran the facility....had one such number that you could call, and unless you happened to get through at the right time....you couldn't get details or start arrangements.  Naturally, if you lived in the local area....you'd just drive over and plant yourself at their desk to make sure things happened.

It's about the most stupid thing that I ever heard.  The Army kinda agreed....they have cleaned up shop and fired most folks who were problems at the Cemetery.  So this past week, voice mail or an answering service....has been implemented.

Answering machines have been around for thirty years.  Voice mail has been around since 2005.

Course, these are the same guys who ran the inventory of the Cemetery on 3x5 cards, and only recently have gone to a fancy database on a computer.

This all brings me around to just how technology-smart America really is.  I suspect that at best.....between the ages of 21 and 65....may only sixty percent really know how to operate a computer.  I suspect that twenty percent still don't know how to operate a VCR or a cellphone.  And I suspect that barely half the adult population can operate a digital camera.

Sadly, a number of these are folks in management positions or actually running small business operations.   So we just might be at the same level of things.....as the folks in Bolivia 

Saturday, 24 September 2011

The Time Issue

Word this week came out about the potential discovery....that sub-atomic particles just might travel faster than light.  What's the simple talk here?  Well....some folks suggest now that time-travel would be possible if this is proven to be true.  But the experts say....at best....you might be able to transmit a message to the past....not a person.

I sat and pondered.  In twenty years....we just might have the ability to transmit a 140-character message into the past....say forty years ago. Perhaps sent at the beginning of the computer age in America.  So you sit there and imagine Professor Jones sitting at some computer and he gets this message....kill Ossama bin Laden at all cost prior to 9-11.  Or maybe it's a message to toss out chad-ballot voting in Florida entirely.  The question is....will Professor Jones understand this or just think it's a bogus message.

Perhaps another version of this is a 3-minute AM radio broadcast....suggesting that Reagan will be shot by a nut in 1981.

The problem is....we start to manipulate history....to trigger other possible events.  You stop "A" but you then trigger "B" or "C".  It's like messing with a Duncan-Hines cake mix.  You just might make it worse than what you had to start with.

I'm always curious about this time-travel business.  It started with The Time Tunnel TV show in the 1960s. They made thirty episodes before it ended.  Later on came various episode on the Star Trek series.

The curious thing is that we've probably got a thousand men on this Earth.....thinking long and hard on how to make time-travel possible.  They might invest ten hours a month....they might invest a hundred hours a month.  They would all like to make this happen.

I've of the opinion that it just might not be in our best interest.  Oh, I personally wouldn't mind just picking the 1880's and just going back permanently....never coming back....and not changing much of anything.  But once you start to stir the pot and actually change history....you just can't predict what kind of new mess you might walk into, or what next magnificent trouble might come out of thin air.

Friday, 23 September 2011

My Town

Business Week magazine went out and did a survey.  Arlington, my adopted town, was rated the second best town in America....by their standards.

I've been here for twenty months, and have come to note ten reasons why Arlington is so great.  So here's my list.

1.  Crime.  Sorry, but we don't have drive-by shootings, or bulk drug busts, or murders of she-males (like in Northeast DC).  On an average night.....there's a couple of cars stolen, and maybe maybe a dozen cars broken into.  Crazy nuts stabbing folks on the street?  No....simply doesn't happen.  Guys running around with butcher knives?  Nope.  Crazy meth'ed up folks?  Nope.  We just don't have that kind of population living here.

2.  The bad part of town.  Usually, when you arrive somewhere....like when I got to Kansas City for a training class....you get a map with two or three areas of town where you should never go.  I remember getting one of these maps for almost every town that I've lived in for the past thirty years.  Arlington?  Sorry, there just isn't any part of the town that I'd tell you to avoid....even after midnight.  You could walk from one end of Arlington to the other....at 2AM, and there's a 99.9 percent chance that nothing will ever happen to you.

3.  Lack of Hollywood types.  To be honest, most folks who live in Arlington...are middle-class Americans.  We have some famous reporters who work in DC.  We have some political folks who work in DC.  We have some lobbyists who work in DC.  But we just don't have Hollywood folks in Arlington.

4.  Public transportation.  My humble opinion is that fifty percent of the adults in Arlington will use either the bus or train at least once a week.  I would imagine that a quarter of the population absolutely depends on some type of public transportation.

5.  Political corruption.  Over my twenty months, I've yet to hear about any Arlington official being dragged into a corruption issue....unlike our DC buddies who get dragged up every six weeks for some problem.  In fact, most folks in Arlington can't even name a single political figure from our city, but we can name three corrupt DC city councilmen.  If a Arlington councilman had any favorite thing to harp on....it'd be bike trails or trolley cars.

6.  Bad cops.  Frankly, we don't have any.  DC cops average around a dozen cops a year who get arrested for something bad or illegal.  Arlington cops?  Nothing.

7.  Bad schools.  DC schools are often noted as some of the worst in America.  From Arlington?  We actually have a pretty serious record of 3-star and 4-star schools.

8.  Artsy stuff, multicultural stuff, and ethnic food.  Well....when I get out to the bus stop each morning....I find El Salvadorans, Japanese folks, some Germans, and occasionally a Russian or two.  Out on Columbia Pike....there are probably twenty ethnic restaurants within a three-mile area.  Art?  You kind of find most everywhere you go.....it may not be fancy, but it qualifies as art.

9.  An airport downtown.  Yeah, it's kind of unusual, but we have the Ronald Reagan International Airport. You can jump off the METRO and run your bags through security within ten minutes, and get in line to deal with TSA.  I admit, there's nothing out of the airport going to LA, Vegas, or Denver....mostly because Congress wrote a funny rule that we had to be a short-to-medium range airport.  We are the only people in America who can deboard a plane at 9PM, get our bags, hop onto METRO, and ride the bus to our home in Arlington...to arrive by 10PM, without taking a taxi or having someone try to pick us up.

10.  We have four things that make Arlington famous.  The Pentagon is an obvious magnet.  The Iwo Jima Memorial brings in tens of thousands each month.  We honor our warriors at Arlington Cemetery.  When you pull out a map of Arlington....the cemetery is actually the big huge green area.  To be honest, it marks us in a unique way....that you can even observe from the outer fringes of the Earth.  We kind of feel proud about that.  And for those who might wonder about the most famous guy to ever come from Arlington?  Robert E. Lee....whose house still sits up on top of the hill overlooking Arlington Cemetery, the Potomac, Lincolns Memorial, and the heart of DC.  What shocks folks?  It's really a very modest house with only one real bedroom....even though it looks huge from the river.

So, to be honest, we aren't recruiting anyone to move here.  We really don't want to build onto Arlington.  And we've pretty much maxed on people per square mile.  But if you asked any of us....we all kinda like it here.  And certainly, it's a thousand times better than living in DC.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

The $16 Muffin

Word came out this week....via an audit of the Justice Department and it's "meetings"....that they had been accused of spending lots of government cash for fantastic food and drinks.  Namely: $16 muffins, $8 cups of coffee, and $5.50 cups of Coke.

So I finally stood up today and pondered.  I asked four folks that I know....that have lived in the Arlington, Maryland, or DC area for years and years....where do you find a $16 muffin.  Most folks knew where there were some great $4 muffins.  I did a Goggle search in the DC area....where I found one special type muffin for $7.  Then I found this great deal $15.99 for a six-pack of muffins.

Then I started to ponder how competent a audit guy might be.  There simply aren't any $16 muffins in DC, or Maryland, Arlington, Baltimore, or even Atlanta.  Let's be honest here....unless you found some topless muffin dancehall.....there just aren't any $16 muffins.  Bogus.

So the $8 cup of coffee.  Again.....no one knows where you can buy coffee like this.  I know a place out on the main drag of Paris....where a cup of coffee....in Euro....would end up around $16 but in DC?  No.  Again, it's totally bogus.  Course, you could rig up a deal with a fancy coffee shop where you buy four cups in a four-pack for $8.

The $5.50 for a cup of Coke?  No....you can't find a place in DC that offers such a deal.  I know a place in Tucson where they sell a XXL cup of Coke for $1.99, but I can't think of a single place in DC where you'd spend $5.50.  Course, you could buy a 12-cup container for around $5.50 from some discount center.  Or you could buy a six-pack of Coke for $5.50 at the local Harris-Teeter shop in Arlington.  Bogus again.

So, for Senator Grassley from Iowa....who is all upset and just plain going nuts over $5.50 for a Coke, and $16 for a muffin.....you need to simmer down....sip some tea, and get real.  There just ain't any $16 muffins in DC.

But since we are listening to Senators and Congressmen all day talk about $16 muffins.....perhaps you folks would like to explain how $1 million is spent per year for free water (bottled water)....for you and your staffs on capital hill.  The breakfast trays that are commonly laid out in your office with pastries?  Did you use the $25k a year in your 'snack-fund' for that daily tray?  Maybe you'd like to tell another chapter to this outrageous story?  I kinda doubt it.

So as you sit there in Nashville, or Red Bay, or Eugene tonight....wondering where you can get a $16 muffin.....settle back and just accept the fact that things haven't gotten that bad yet.  Course, you were looking to bribe a Senator....you still need $50k for his re-election fund to get anything really done or have lunch with the guy.  That fact hasn't changed.

And if you were looking for the best muffins?  Try Wal-Mart Blueberry Muffins...for around $2.  These are the jumbo size.....so you could eat two or three for a good sweet breakfast.  But don't tell your Senator about that deal.

Only in America.

UPDATE: The Hilton Corporation, which was at the heart of this audit of the Justice Department and the $16 muffin finally wrapped up their review of the episode and released a report late yesterday.  What they were asked to provide to participants....was a open breakfast bar....which included coffee, juices, various different pastries, fruits, cereal, sodas, etc.  So they wrote this up in corporation "shorthand" on the bill...."muffin".  The audit guy?  My guess is that he never called Hilton, and he probably has no real background with hotel operations, hotel bills, or such.  He simply found this "muffin" listed for $16 and got all peppy.  So, in the end, I stand by my words.....there simply isn't a $16 muffin.  Never was...never will be.  And the audit guy?  He probably got a promotion....had an office party send-off, and got some great $4 muffins from Krispy Kreme.

The Way Things Work

Over the past two weeks, there's been this continual chatter about the President's concept of increased taxes on the wealthy....to cover the cost requirements of the government.  Here's the prospective you ought to think about.

You line up one hundred guys who each make precisely $10 million a year from their company.....all precisely at the same level....all facing an imaginary level of say 35% taxation (the President can use any number he desires).  So you would sit there and imagine that roughly $3.5 million of their income will come to the IRS.  The plain truth is that you might have three guys who hand over the $3.5 million, but the other 97 guys will hand over anywhere from $3 million, all the way down to zero dollars for taxation.

Each guy hires some taxation expert.  One guy will create a foundation where he tosses half of the ten million toward the charity foundation.  He'll pay almost no taxes.  On the hidden side....his trips to the foundation headquarters in San Diego are always covered by the foundation's tangled empire.....same for the hotel stay...the food....etc.

Another guy will move quietly the majority of his ten million to an off-shore bank....paying the one-time tax on it, and then letting the money disappear into various banks in Thailand, the Bahamas, or Africa.

A dozen guys will buy up fake farm land in Ohio, and pretend they actually farm land....when they don't.  Some guy will plant two thousand Oak trees on his 500 acres and take various tax credits via both the state and the federal government.

So when the President chats about fairness or how taxes need to be increased against the evil rich people.....he really has no idea how much they currently pay, how they are structured to beat his tax efforts, or what he might get out of the deal in the end.  It's sad in a way.....a massive media device is working to convince you how this will all work.  But they haven't the slightest idea of how one hundred millionaires think.   And don't even bother asking these guys how they got rich or how they intend to stay rich....they'll just grin.    

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Bad Photo Strategy

It's a photo-op at the UN from this week.  You would think that someone would tell him just to stand still.  We don't know the guy behind the hand....my guess it's the Chinese guy.

Just Observations

The Southern Baptists folks came up with an oddball suggestion this week.....a possible name change.  They decided at the national meeting that they needed to expand, and go international.....so, this meant a possible name change.  I sat and pondered over this.  Growing up in Bama....that was almost the state religion.  What kind of name would they stick on themselves?  Baptists International?  Baptists United?  Baptists Unlimited? Remember, this is only a discussion and I'd suspect a full year to pass before anyone pulls out the new name.

It is an odd situation   The number guys finally sat down and looked over the President's new tax rate deal for the rich guys.  Sadly, the billions that they will take from the guys....won't come anywhere near the income required to fix our national debt issue....even if we did some marginal cuts around the corners.  So even if the Republicans were idiot enough to sign on and push this through.....they'd likely have to return by 2013 (the continued period of the Obama administration), and pass yet another bill to tax the rich even more.  And by 2015, they'd likely have to return a third time, to tax the rich guys even more (if there are any rich guys left at that point).  I suspect by 2015.....most rich folks would have vacated America and whisked their money off to Argentina or Thailand....to safely wait out this storm.

Some audit against the Justice Department and one of it's meetings in DC determined that they'd spent $16 a muffin and $8 for cup of coffee.  It was all done on government funds.  Since I'm a government charge card overseer.....I can understand how this works.  A new guy shows up....never used the government VISA card and some folks jump up to demand that he buy some items.  Then in the middle of this....an idiot with no knowledge of what you can or can't buy....jumps in the middle....demanding an immediate purchase of donuts and coffee for a function.  What you can spend....is a grand total of $5 per person, for a major government function....period.  Nothing more than $5 per person.  So if you got a hundred folks....you can spend $500 max.  That usually covers some cheap coffee and one single cheap pastry.  The charge card guy screwed up big-time in this case with the $16 muffin.

LightSquared and GPS.  Last week, a Air Force general said that the White House tried to change his words on LightSquared and its efforts to bring nation-wide WI-FI to America.  The argument?  When GPS satellites got put into space, they were given a band on the radio dial.  All GPS devices, from civilian to military, run off that band.  LightSquared bought up this band that is very close to LightSquared's band.  The General and his science guys came to realize that LightSquared would have to broadcast at a major rate.....thus cutting over into their band.  It would create a huge mess with the US military and make all of our GPS devices questionable to operate.  So the CEO stood up yesterday and said that they were all correct....but a simple 10-cent filter device on all military equipment items would fix this bleed-over.  I sat and pondered over this.  Ten cents?  How would you manufacture it so cheaply?  China?  Somewhere in China, you can imagine this Chinese general gleefully smiling.....he's got all these programmed filter sets that they built for $10 each....and he's willing to sell them for 10 cents each....for a good reason.  And for some reason, the more you hear from LightSquared....the more comical it sounds.

Finally....off in Europe....and likely not to be repeated in front of US reporters very much....Erik Holder, our Attorney General, said that they were going to move literal mountains in closing Gitmo by election time of 2012.  It would have been nice if he'd said this in the US for American reporters, but obviously, it wasn't that important.  It did make some German and French reporters weep a bit and slobber over themselves that Obama would accomplish something wonderful in appreciation of getting their Nobel Peppy Prize.  I'm guessing some of the guys down in Gitmo will hear about this today....having gotten use to the tropical weather and enjoying the local atmosphere of Cuba.  The thought of moving to Illinois....probably wouldn't be on their top five places to re-locate to.   As for the actual possibility of moving? I give it a ten-percent change of occurring.  The Republican House would have to pay for the move, and that's not on their top 500 agenda item list right now.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Those Who Would Save Us

Here's the deal.  Some AIDS researchers had spent years searching and trying to grasp the way that AIDS enzymes worked and hooked in the micro arena.  They had tried various models and simply weren't getting anywhere.

So some guy came and suggested that gamers...our World of Warcraft doomsday players....would have the skills necessary to grasp the enzymes, and maybe figure out the critical role in how the AIDS virus matures and proliferates.  So there's this special gaming area where a designer puts up the virus in a gaming design.

What did they have to lose?

Well....it took a couple of days, but the gamers conquered the enzyme.  They tossed out the model that researchers have been begging for.  The smart guys are admitting that we've basically turned an entire corner and they could start building various things to fight AIDS now that have a higher chance of success.

So, I'm going suggest this only one time....and I suspect it might draw more than a hundred reviews on this blog.  The gamers?  They deserve the Nobel Prize, end of the story, period.  No exception.  I know that thousands of scientists will stand in their way.....but they basically tore the roof off research.

And here's the thing you ought to start wondering about.  We've got 300k World of Warcraft players easily within the US, and probably well over a million across the globe.  Got some more problems?  Want to prove how a black hole actually operates?  Turn it into a virtual game and let the WoW guys loose on it.  Got some problems with predicting earthquakes?  Turn it into a game and let these WoW guys examine the problem.

I'm thinking the science guys really don't like the sound of this....gamers having more skills than a scientist....but a gamer is not thinking in the same fashion as a scientist.  Everything in a gamers mind....revolves around logic.  Steps lead to more steps....leading onto connections....bonus points....and the keys to the magic unicorn pony on level forty-four.  As far as the WoW gamer is concerned....he just wants the magic unicorn pony, and probably wouldn't even care for the Nobel Peace Prize.

So unleash the gamers, and let them save humanity....and when rewards get discussed....just make sure you've got plenty of magic unicorn ponies somewhere.

The Unfairness

“It cries out for some rationalization.  Why should we ask somebody to sustain a system that’s unfair by any other measure in our society?”

-- Sylvester J. Schieber, former chairman of the Social Security Advisory Board


This was the comment on military pensions.  There were various comments this weekend that military pensions would have to be carved or changed drastically.  Some actually want to change both healthcare and pensions for those who are already retired.  Some want to just aim for the future military retirees only.

As for Mr Schieber?  I doubt if he ever spent a week out on maneuvers....skipping a bath each day.....and eating MREs.  This crowd who talks about the idea of pension cuts on GI's weren't there on Normandy's beaches or landing on hostile islands in the Pacific.  They weren't there in Vietnam....carrying wounded buddies back to camp.  And where is the unfairness?

This crowd probably doesn't include anyone who has filled a four thousand sandbags in their career.  It probably doesn't include anyone who would put in seventy man-hours of physical effort in an average week.  I doubt that the group has anyone in it that would readily volunteer to take a rifle and go defend against an attack of hostile enemy.  And where is the unfairness?

So my advice to the group is simple.  If you want to make cuts....just make the decision to pull back from every hostile area in the world.  Bring all the troops back to comfortable areas of Georgia, Kentucky and Washington state.  Return to the wonderful years of the 1920s when wars ended and troops were sent back home and you kept just twenty percent of what you really needed.  Stock up on a lot less tanks, aircraft and ships.  Make yourself believe that threats are imaginary and that you can negotiate out of bad situations.

The curious thing once you accomplish all of this.....a vast savings.  Which you'd invest in discovering why a certain type of butterfly in Paraguay is green, or building a bridge over a vast swamp in Georgia, or fund the start-up of some solar panel operation.  That all makes sense, in some odd way.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Just Unemployment Chatter

"You have a lot of kids graduating college, who can't find jobs.  That's what happened in Cairo. That's what happened in Madrid. You don't want those kinds of riots here."

-- Mayor Bloomberg, New York City

I sat and pondered over unemployment this week.  The Bloomberg quote kinda stood out.  I tried to imagine a bunch of college kids acting out what went on in Cairo, and I'm pretty much at a loss to imagine such a scene.  The problem is that jobs do exist in different parts of the country....it's just that the salary level that college kids dream of....might not be available.  So the question is....are they willing to work for thirty thousand dollars, instead of the forty or fifty thousand they've dreamed of?  Are they willing to work as a intern manager of a small mall complex in some town in west Texas?

The Wall Street Journal had an interesting comparison chart this week....unemployment around the world.  So the stat's are in and this is factual numbers.  While the US is sitting there with 9.6 percent unemployment.....Poland is sitting there with 12.1 percent, and Greece has 12.5 percent.  There are various countries with alot worse than what we have.

On the other hand....if you live in Australia....you've got barely 5.2 unemployment.  Hong Kong?  They sit with 4.4 percent.  Then you come to Monaco....with 0.0 percent unemployment.

Imagine being a pizza start-up enterprise in Monaco?  You need seven full-time and ten part-time employees....and there's a zero percent unemployment situation.  The odds of you finding folks?  It might take four months and you might have to pay a pretty fair wage.

Thailand?  They sit there with 1.1 percent unemployment.  Basically....any guy who raises his hand....can get a job within two weeks.

Then you come to Cuba, with 1.6 percent unemployment.  Imagine the US embargo ended today and three hundred American businesses opened within six months in Cuba.  Where would they even find the folks to work in these new business operations?

The truth to the unemployment situation is that people who are willing to pack and move....will likely find employment.  True, you might have to give up life in California and just accept Georgia accents.  You might have to accept the fact that jobs in New York City are scarce but there's a golden opportunity in North Dakota.

So my advice to Mayor Bloomberg and the wussie college kids who might be suggesting riots.....you might want to consider what it takes to move 1000 miles to find decent employment.  That's be alot simpler than getting all worked up, burn down some buildings in New York City, and just make yourself look like idiots on TV.  And if you were really desperate for a job.....remember, there's always Azerbaijan with it's .9 percent unemployment.  There might only be two flights a week from the US to Azerbaijan....but it might be the place to find a job.

Solyndra Analysis

Over this week, I've studied the whole Solyndra business failure....which is gripping the media and the administration 

There are four simple failures built into this deal which a banker would freak out on and ask huge questions before loaning out money.

First, while they had a great concept....they needed exceptional engineers and developmental personnel.  The best of the best.  Sadly, you only find these guys out in southern California, which has high taxes, high costs of employment, and high property taxes.  When they went from development to production....they built the plant right there in southern California and continued on.  In my humble opinion, they wasted twenty-five percent of their cost.  If they'd gone to Mississippi or Alabama....it could have been done for less.

Second, once in the production stage....they had issues in producing 100 percent quality.  They had a very delicate procedure and they were having a small number of solar panels coming off the line each day which were failures.  They never could crack the case of these failed production items.  These added more to the cost of production.

Third, some idiot came up with the idea of distributors throughout the US selling these.  So they acted as middle-men.  You have to give them a cut on the deal....so you lost more money.  They've admitted in public that they were making the items and actually selling them at a loss, just to get started up.  You'd have to be a total idiot to think that makes good business sense.

Fourth and final, most folks readily agreed that once they got the $500 million loan from the government....that really spooked the business world capitalist guys.  Most folks agree that once the government loan happened, it really ended the rest of the possible options.

So here's the funny thing.  They are going toward bankruptcy with a great idea in their hands.  The judge will put everything up for an auction and sell.  There are patients here....very strategic and significant patients.  You can imagine the auction where two Chinese guys show up and buy most of what's left of the plant and the patients....and just walk away gleefully smiling.

The White House?  I suspect they really didn't know much about business and their inside guy who was all doped up on green jobs....just bought this hook, line and sinker.  Does it hurt the President?  I suspect that when the smoke clears on this deal.....250k voters who might have voted for the President across the US....will not vote for him because of Solyndra.  It's not a huge deal....but it makes the experts in the White House look idiots.

My humble advice to any future administration.....when some company or start-up wants to meet with you about loans for their business....just smile and hand them a pen.  Don't give them cash or a loan.  If they've got a great idea....they will find bankers who believe in it.

Friday, 16 September 2011

To Sell A Nissan Leaf?

The Nissan Leaf guys have an interesting car....all battery power.  Course, nobody much in America has interest in jumping into the electric/battery car market.  I got around this week to reading up on the engineers who design the various elements of the Leaf, and they've come to this fascinating problem.  No engine sound.    They've been told that this simply won't be acceptable.  Reasons?  Blind folks need the sound to warn them. Animal lovers think the sound must be there to help Bami and little critters scatter out in the boonies of America.

So I sat and pondered over this.

Here, the Nissan guys might have this one-in-a-million shot of creating a huge reason to buy or acquire the Nissan Leaf....for sound effects.  Imagine that you bought the Leaf....charged it up....and then went down to Larry's automotive parts shop....to buy a special chip with fourteen various engine sounds....which would be played out via a dual-speaker assembly in the front of the car.

So you have the chance to have the 1966 Chevy pick-up sound for your Leaf....you know, the one where one cylinder is always mis-firing.  Or you could have a 1988 Kawasaki motorcycle sound coming out of the engine area.  Maybe you'd like the sound of a 1944 Army Jeep?  Some folks might even want a British MG sound coming out of the engine.

I thought about it and my sound for my Leaf....would be the diesel Cummins engine sound.  I'd want folks to notice me from 300 feet away.

If the Nissan guys were smart....they'd market this to be an optional thing....a dozen sounds on this chip....twenty-five sounds on another....maybe an all-military vehicle chip....perhaps even a French car-sounds chip.

But knowing my luck....the idiots with the US government would eventually stand up and say that only two acceptable sounds would be allowed, and then stomp on all the optional engine sounds.  If you wanted to enhance a product and really draw people to buy it for the wrong reasons....then picking your own engine sound would easily be number one.  I'm hoping they read blogs like mine and get the idea.

A German Story

This is what we know.  Out of the woods around Berlin, yesterday walked this English-speaking kid....age between sixteen and eighteen....who claims that he and his dad lived for approximately five years in the wilds of Germany (if such a thing exists).  The kid says his dad died in the woods around two weeks ago and simply told him to walk north....which he did, and he ended up in civilization (Berlin could be classified as such).  And the kid says his name is Ray, but doesn't know much of anything else.  The kid speaks mostly all English and just a little bit of German.

Naturally, it has poked curiosity at Germans.  They can't believe the story.   Frankly, neither can I.  The cops are trying to find out bits and pieces of information from the kid but he's not forthcoming on the deal.   The father and son team mostly slept in a tent or huts that they found out in the woods.

It's the kind of story that you'd develop for a movie....living in the wilds of Germany.  But I'm betting odds that the kid is some British kid who made up the story and just showed up in Berlin.

Just Observations

Several different news items today.

First, there's a school up in New Hampshire....middle school....that had this autistic kid who brought in his US flag from home.  He wanted to share his experience....one would imagine.  The school officials looked at the flag, and the stick it was on, and made a determination that this could be used as a weapon, and then confiscated it.  They did make a comment about the pointed end to the stick.  I kinda sat and pondered over this.  For the first nine years of school that I had, each classroom had some US flag on a stick with a pointed end.  I was probably in a very dangerous situation for that whole period, and never realized it.  I have to be thankful that I've lived this long in life without some whacko picking up an American flag on a stick with a sharp end, and stabbing me.  Yes, thankful, indeed.

The game-plan of the US postal service downsize is now becoming obvious.  Saturday mail is going to disappear, period....without any doubt.  They now indicate that a significant number of these mail centers where it's sorted and pumped out to the nation......will decrease.  So that one-to-three day delivery thing we got used to over the past forty years?  Gone.  I'm thinking we will see three-to-five day deliveries as standard by summer of 2012.  By 2020?  Well....mail might take seven-to-twelve days by then.  By 2030?  Fifteen-to-twenty days.  We might actually retreat to the standards of 1776, by 2076.  That would make things interesting.

Finally, at some fancy big bucks-for-the-dinner episode this week.....the President spoke out that he had a better chance of winning in 2012, than in 2008.  I sat and pondered over this.  John McCain and Sarah Palin were not exactly the dynamic duo in 2008.  You could find a fair number of independents who just laughed over the options, and voted for candidate Obama.  So for 2012?  If you had another pair of McCain wannabes, then the President might be right.  If you tossed up either of the top two Republicans and this Latino senator from Florida (Rubio), I suspect that it'd be an awful close election.  Beyond that, if I were the President....I wouldn't comment on this speculation at all.  What you really don't want is a wrapped up race in July of 2012 where the President is sitting at a thirty-seven percent approval rating, and you have to sit there with a guy who will be around for six more months while you wait for the next guy ot arrive.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

The Trouble with Impressions

There's a new book coming out over various interviews conducted with Jacqueline Kennedy.  It's dealing with the months after the assassination of her husband and revolves around her perceptions.  So somewhere in the midst of this interview period....someone asked her about French President Charles de Gaulle.  She comes to say some peppy things about her great passion and beliefs in the old general-turned-President of France.  Then, she finally gets a chance to meet de Gaulle.  Things went downhill fast.

She didn't have much positive to say.  She felt that he was mostly all hot-air.  And she had this impression that most French people were all about themselves, and not this perceived notion that she had over them being great citizens of the world.

I sat and pondered over this.  Typically, people get all peppy over 'legends'.  They will talk up how they'd really like to meet former President Jimmy Carter....then meet the guy, and come out with some pretty negative comments that he just wasn't the guy they thought he was.  It could be any media guy, any Hollywood gal, or even some joker from a reality TV series.

Jacqueline Kennedy ended up on some fancy government-paid trip with the President....had dinner with Charles de Gaulle, and probably sat next to some French bigwig dimwit.....who talked mostly and failed to impress her.   Toss in some fried snails, some fizzy French wine, a French snack made out of liver, and this probably wasn't the kind of great "Frenchness" that she had anticipated.

The comical part to this story is that if she'd only jumped in the car and gone fifty miles outside of Paris....some some farm village...things would have gone an entirely different direction.  She would have met some really fascinating local French folks....had some local wine and cheese.....and had the best experience of her life.  Real people, in a real setting, with real food and drink.

When folks talk about history in the making....this is actually history in the unmaking.

It Has a Smell

As we watch this solar energy episode play out with the White House....most of us are simply shaking our heads.

The game here was simple.  There was a good idea in this solar energy company to start with.  The honest truth is that the company could have taken a few small steps by itself....found some real capital....and built itself from the ground up.  Instead, they wrote the idea up....decided to play the political trump cards....got some capital into the 2008 election, and gambled that the White House folks were as stupid as they looked.   Once they said "green jobs" and "green infrastructure", they had a bunch of dimwits hooked up.  They did a big tour of the White House...kept talking jobs, jobs, jobs.....and eventually got their loan all fixed up.  From that point on, they simply siphoned off bits and pieces of the money.

So I will bring you to solar energy episode version 2.0.   Tesla Motors.  You may have heard of them....their intention is to make the first authentic electric car that can travel more than 200 miles between charges.  Again, they tout "green jobs", "green infrastructure", and jobs, jobs, jobs.  My guess is that they also helped with some 2008 campaign cash but the media has yet to find this part of the puzzle.

What they wanted....and got....was a $465 million loan from the government.

I paused here and looked at the actual car.  You'd have to spend around $47k to make this work.  That $7,500 tax credit?  That's already subtracted to get to the $47k level.

There are several problems here, which has a smell like the bankrupt solar company.  First, they want to manufacture these cars out in southern California.  For a major manufacturer to select that region, you have to be foolish or crazy.  You end up paying ten percent of your profits into state taxes or state property costs.  Toss in the higher wages you have to pay to be a decent player in the local environment.  You could pick Georgia or South Carolina and save at least twenty percent of your labor costs compared to California.

Why use the southern California layout to get the loan?  Jobs, jobs, jobs.  You sell the Democrat strategist on this neat idea of bringing in good manufacturing jobs in the region....while no one else is really doing this.  It would be slightly better if they'd said they were going to manufacture the car in downtown Brooklyn, New York....at an old abandoned piano factory.  This would have been a great human events story to play upon the media and the White House.

The other problem to the story?  So far, there just aren't any big huge players walking up to dump big cash into the lap of the Tesla company.  Daimler AG (the Mercedes folks) did a ten percent deal with the company.  No one much indicates the cost factor to this but I doubt if it went over twenty million.  And I also imagine that they wanted to have inside information about the batteries involved....which they will use for a future project five years down the road in Germany.

My guess is that the Tesla guys are looking at the solar energy corruption situation, and wondering how they can stretch out their life long enough to avoid an immediate connection.  They obviously can't go bankrupt in 2011, and probably ought to make it through 2012 before they finally collapse in the spring of 2013 (my humble guess).

I've always been this believer in the government staying out of guessing the next trend and paying for someone's start-up.  It simply doesn't work.  There will be media attention....folks asking how long it will be before the bankruptcy.  You smile and grin....mostly pretending to know all the fake positive talk about the future and battery-run cars.  The President will come out to do a tour....just like the solar energy company....and lots of Latino guys will be hired initially for the southern California company.  Someone will talk jobs, jobs, jobs.....and some lawyer is sitting there with the bankruptcy paperwork already filled out except the dates.

Life in America, 2011.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Politics in the News

There are two interesting pieces today.  First, as Representative Anthony Wiener left DC and most Democrats thought the replacement race in NY City was a cake-walk, with a Democratic replacement likely....they were wrong.  Numbers this morning indicate that the Republican won with 54 percent of the vote.  

So you have to scratch your head.  It's a mostly Democratic district.  They had ample time to find a decent candidate.  The Democrats should have won.  So you can imagine a dozen major strategy guys sitting around now.....wondering what November of 2012 will bring.  Could that Perry guy actually win?  Could Romney carry the entire south?  

The second story is that suggestion by Senator Harry Reid that the President's jobs bill may not pass.  The bill, which was supposed to booster confidence....hasn't yet found confidence amongst political figures.  

I sat and pondered over how the Republicans should play this card game.  So my solution is simple.  Have Mitch McConnell and John Boehner meet up with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.  They offer up a strange deal.

The House Republicans would take the entire bill presented by the President and alter nothing but adding one brief sentence at the very end.  They hand it to Nancy Pelosi and suggest that they will promise to the precise number of votes to help her vote the bill into effect, if she can get all 100 percent of the House Democrats to vote for the bill.  If she got all her votes up, then the Republicans would find just the precise number to help her out.  Added to this deal....the Democrats can't alter a single word of the President's text or the last line of the bill.  

So they turn to Harry Reid, and tell him that if he can get all 100 percent of his Democratic Senators to vote.....they then will find the precise number of Republican votes to make the President's bill to pass.  They also will be limited to not altering the bill at all.  The last line of the bill that Boehner would add?  The Senate would be limited to precisely three days to discuss and pass.....or the bill would be null and void.  

In effect, the "pass-this-bill" mentality would be forced over onto Pelosi and Reid.  You can imagine them all standing there in total shock that the Republicans would be so evil to actually intend to pass this with no alterations.  

So as summer comes in 2012, with this bill in effect for six-plus months.....and no improvement on jobs, the President would be sitting there and asking his financial wiz kids when exactly the jobs bill would kick in to produce jobs.  The boys would mostly grin and admit that by taxing companies to pay for the jobs bill, that counter-acted any hope of real jobs coming out of this.  The President would then order up a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon and just sit at the White House Patio that night....wondering how he ever got into this mess.  

Just my humble suggestion.  

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Two Odd Stories

There were two odd stories in the news today.

The first, which won't be repeated much across the nation....came from the Wall Street Journal.  Apparently, the Social Security Administration woke up and suddenly realized that a pharmaceutical company in Puerto Rico....had decided to shut down.  It had three hundred employees affected.  Of those to be let go.....290 decided to go and apply for disability via one doctor (yes, just one doctor would sign all of their paperwork).   Curiously, the doctor didn't even live in the local area.....and was considered to be living at a distance that made this all kind of unbelievable (the Wall Street Journal didn't put the doctor's name down or his address).

So the Social Security Administration sat there and scratched it head over the tremendous odds of all 290 folks being truly disabled.  I was actually thinking if this were true, then ten guys actually carried this pharmaceutical company for all these years while the disabled guys probably weren't up to the tasks.  I'd actually like to meet the ten who didn't apply.

I went out and checked the numbers.  Almost 54 million Americans are getting some type of social security.  8.4 million are on disability (15 percent) and they usually average $1,069.

I suspect that these 290 applications will be brought up to a doctor or two on the Social Security payroll, and then they will ask another internal team to view these guys and gals.  Maybe at the end.....they might actually approve six of these, but it'll shock me if they approve more than thirty.

The disability side of social security?  My suspicion is that most of the 8.4 million are actually disabled.  Sadly....I do suspect that 500k of them probably pushed the limit....found the right doctor to vouch for them....and they simply burn through the money that we contributed.  We ought to require these disabled to come back and re-verify their status every eighteen months.....with a totally different doctor.  We ought to make the losers who aren't really disabled actually pay the money they got, back into the system.  Some folks ought to go to prison.  But we just don't have the guts to say that in public.

The second topic?  The President's team came out and hinted that the $450-odd billion they need for stimulus junior (my humble title for their effort).....will come from all increased taxes.  It kinda shocked most folks in DC.....I think even most democrats were kinda shocked.

So the hint is that taxes will be created to hit mostly against companies.  They didn't say big capital, medium capital or small capital companies....but you get the feeling they meant mostly large companies.

I sat there and thought about this.  So you create a stimulus package that is truly supposed to create confidence in creating jobs in America and stimulate the economy.  Then you mention that the big guys who ought to create a major portion of these....have to pay more taxes....to make this happen.  The odds now of any major company in America hiring ten thousand new employees with the new taxes coming?  Zero.  Confidence uplifting now?  I have doubts that you find any measurable upswing on the confidence by March of 2012 with stimulus junior, if it were to pass by some miracle in complete form.

I worked years ago with a guy who had this idea for a new car engine.  He wanted to take a six-cylinder car and allow it to run strictly off one-cylinder while it sat idle.  As it took off, it'd slip on a second-cylinder and try to eventually get up to 20 mph....where cylinder three and four would then turn on and pick up the speed.  The fifth and sixth cylinder would only come on if you need boost after fifty miles per hour.  I looked at this idea and mentioned to him that just getting up to twenty mph would likely take a full minute with just two cylinders.  Nobody was going to be agreeable with a full-minute waiting to hit twenty.

I kinda feel the same way with this stimulus junior package now.....it's a two-cylinder effort and come summer of 2012....most folks would be asking stupid questions about when the fireworks would be starting.  So I'm thinking that this was all a farce in the first place and the President anticipates that the Republicans won't pass more than fifty percent of stimulus junior.

So as you sit there tonight and wonder how real jobs in America might be created....rest assured, the President is likely sitting on the patio of the White House....sipping a Bud Light, and likely wondering the same thing.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Dumbing Down?

Some smart guys sat down and did this scientific survey with 4-year old punk kids.  They found sixty-odd kids and told them to either watch Sponge Bob, or the slow moving cartoon Caillou or just draw pictures.  They eventually came to this discovery of sorts.....that Sponge Bob causes issues, if you just watch nine minutes of it.  You, the punk 4-year old....end up with short-term attention and learning problems.

The guys who draw and make Sponge Bob....stood up and said that they draw it mostly for six-to-eleven year old kids, and adults.  Sadly for those science folks.....they didn't survey them....so they can't say if adults end up with short-term attention and learning issues.

I sat and pondered over this.  I have to admit that I've kinda watched Sponge Bob over the past four years.  It worried me a bit....perhaps I now suffer from short-term attention and learning issues.  So this brought to another issue.....could this have been intentionally designed?  What if the Chinese had discovered this Sponge Bob issue twenty years ago and secretly conceived the concept to bring into America....to dumb us down a notch or two.  What if Sponge Bob led onto some reality show?  What if the reality show led onto MSNBC?  What if MSNBC led onto Lady GaGa?  Could this all be a Chinese conspiracy to dumb a nation down?

So, I'm convinced the best thing to do....is switch from Sponge Bob to Huckleberry Hound, and switch from reality shows to old Burt Reynolds movies.  For news?  Just stick with Fox News.  And for Lady GaGa?  You probably want to switch back over to Blue Grass music.

Just my humble opinion.

A Moment To Ponder

With one of the President's top ideas for our job recovery being this tax advantage for hiring folks that have been long employed....you have to sit and put yourself into some guy's shoes.

Joe, from Mighty Joe's Burgers....he's sitting there and barely making any business with six full-time employees and six part-time employees.  So without any business upswing, from hungry customers, where is the logic of hiring another guy or two?

Karl, who owns twelve hotels and has seen a marginal occupancy rate for eighteen months....unless there was a upswing on guests...when will he hire new employees?

Luis, the second generation American from Honduras?  His pizza shop has been on a bare minimal profit margin for twelve long months.  Is there any logical reason to hire a single new employee?

Doug and Marvin, the two gay guys who own the marina down by the lake?  They've lost fifteen percent of their business since 2008.  Every month....some company arrives to pick up another boat that was long-term docked there....and bring it back to the company.  Any logical chance that they might hire a new employee?

Terry, Cindy, and Wendy?  The three sisters who own a grocery in the rurals of the Ozarks?  The only increase on customers are mostly food-stamp folks.  The other regulars are rarely shoping and mostly looking for big-name groceries who offer two-for-one coupon days which the sisters can't possibly offer.  They won't hire anyone.

Erving's book shop in Charleston?  From the six full-time employees in 2007....he's down to two employees now, and probably won't even think about the President's deal unless he clears thirty thousand in profit this year.

The problem is that job growth for the small capital and medium capital business across America just isn't happening.  Their confidence isn't there.  It wasn't there in 2010.  It wasn't there in 2009.  And I doubt if it'll be there at the end of 2012.  And without their cooperation, it's hard to see the US government bringing folks back into a positive mode.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Comment on "Years of Shame"

There are a dozen journalists (wannabe journalists is the better term to use) that I have little if any respect for. One of them is Paul Krugman, who regularly appears on national talky-talk shows.  For 9-11, Paul decided he'd puff out a short piece of opinion on heroes, 9-11, Bush and former NY-City mayor Rudy Giuliani.  The blunt short words on this piece is that Bush and Giuliani rushed up to portray themselves as "heroes" for the day.

The curious thing about this short-sighted comment on the New York Times.....Paul refused to allow any commentary on his fifteen lines of opinion.  That was probably his right....but after you read the short piece.....you kinda get this feeling that Paul is some loser journalist who can't stand anyone saying much against his thinking.  In the end....he wanted everyone reading his short piece....to think of 9-11 as a period of shame.

As the years pass, it gets more difficult to pay any serious attention to half the think-tank folks or any of the journalists who appear on the national news.  They end up pumping out commentary that you mostly want to laugh at or just shake your head on.  People sit around at NBC, CBS, and ABC....wondering why their numbers have decreased....then they invite the wannabe journalists back for another show.

As for Bush and the former mayor?  Neither asked for the situation.  In the days that passed after 9-11....Rudy had to console and attend dozens of funerals.  He had to stand by a police department and fire department that suffered major causalities.  If you go to any New Yorker today....they will generally have positive words over Rudy and what he did for the weeks that passed after 9-11.  As for Bush.....he ended doing the best he could under the circumstances.  Had I put Paul Krugman under either position.....I don't want to imagine how he would have delivered under the circumstances.

Another day in America.

Ten Years Have Come and Gone

It's hard to imagine that 9-11 has been a decade as of Sunday.  It was the late afternoon for me on Ramstein, when I had the Air Force captain that I worked for as a contractor....come through the vault and give out two sentences of what was going on in New York.  I thought it was simply one plane and just an accident.  An hour later I left for home.  Via the AM radio....I learned more was going on.  I ended spending the next three hours at home....watching CNN live....and mostly shocked at the extent of the situation.  Then I turned the TV off.  I was over-dosed on news, but there wasn't much more than eight lines of text to the story at that point.

The thing that got to me....was that twelve to twenty-odd guys....were convinced to be suicidal and had been able to pull this off.

The next morning, as I tried to drive onto base.....the line started about two miles outside the base.  It took around two hours for me to get to the gate where only one car at a time was being allowed through the gate and six guys were standing there with rifles as they went through the engine compartment and checked your trunk.

Then I found out five minutes late at the front of my building that only essential folks were supposed to show up and I wasn't on that list.  I went home.  The next day was essentials only.  And even the 3rd day was essentials only.  The fourth day was finally approved for us.  And I repeated the two hour entry game.

At the building....suddenly there was increased security and we had to have a entry check guy at the front door.  From the four organizations in the building.....no one wanted to do that.  So I asked why I couldn't put a phone at the front door and folks could call to whoever needed to enter.....and I'd make up a key for each true occupant of the building.  I probably would have won a Nobel Prize for that simple suggestion.  Within a couple of days....keys were given out and I had a phone at the front door.

In the months and years after this....came the war in Afghanistan and Iraq.  I tend to go back and think about the twenty-odd hijackers, and the hundreds of other wannabe hijackers or terrorists since then.  They all have one theme.....losers.  They were convinced by a religious fraud of a Mullah somewhere, that their method of obtaining entry to heaven.....was to kill a bunch of innocent people.  The Mullah?  He probably hasn't done an honest day's work in his entire life, or changed the oil in his car, or supported some friend.  His chief focus in life is to find losers, convince them to die for him, and then brag back to the other Mullahs of his accomplishments.

So in ten years....a bunch of losers have been put six feet under and don't walk the surface of the Earth anymore.  Most Muslim families easily spot the dim-witted Mullahs now, and intimidate their young guys to just avoid the Mullah entirely.  It's getting harder for the Mullahs to accomplish their dream.  The curious thing is that we simply work hard to aim at the wannabe terrorists and the planners.  We aren't making that much effort to target the Mullahs.

I suspect in another ten years....we will still be in this focus of life.  We will remember 9-11 for an entire generation.  The sad thing is that it really didn't accomplish much of anything for the Muslim religion....except send hundreds, if not thousands, of their young men off to a wasted life and a grave.

Just my two cents on this significant day.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

What Makes a Guy a Conservative?

I sat and listened to some radio show about a month ago, and this short-sighted question came up....with a short answer tied to it.  My brother recently brought up the topic and offered some simple analysis over it.  I sat and pondered over the topic over the past week.  I'm not a quality blend....I'm probably more of a 80/20 blend....leaning fairly conservative.

I grew up over the years with Paul Harvey's Saturday show.  For those who weren't familiar with it....unlike the Monday through Friday show, it pretty much drilled down on a topic or two and was this sermon that you probably needed in life.  Course, you got only fifty-two of these sermons per year and they typically were about things that mattered.  He would preach to why good manners mattered, or he'd tell you why taking a stand to defend something was important.  These Saturday shows were generally a dose of reality, combined with a old-fashioned kick-in-butt over doing the right thing.  The Saturday prior to Thanksgiving tended to make you think about all the great things that you should be proud of and thankful for having.

Sprinkled around the edges of this molding...were the movies.  Casablanca entertained, charmed, and handcuffed you.  It's a Wonderful Life tore at your gut and made you pull for the little guy.  Androcles and the Lion was an oddball movie that made you want to think.  From True Grit, you wanted justice for Mattie Ross, and the only hope was some one-eyed Marshall who was probably past his prime.

TV ended up giving me the Andy Griffith Show.  To be honest, Ernest T. Bass probably gave you a fair dose of how to handle a radical extreme with kindness and careful wording.  Floyd's gossip talk....tended to be shown as not a wise thing.  Barney's one-bullet situation....was a necessity because it would have forced him to think long and hard about firing that one single bullet.  When bad people came to Mayberry, they tended to find themselves standing against a pretty tough bunch of locals in the end.

The Waltons Show tended to give you homespun stories that weren't jagged or spiced with crime or involving some rich family from California wine country.  There weren't always great conclusions, which drew you to accept what happens as the best under the circumstances.

Toss in Marlin Perkins and Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, some Saturday afternoon wrestling match with Tojo Yomamoto where bad guys got chased out of the studio, and a moment where Festus is talking simple words with bad guy on Gunsmoke.

At the end of the day, you were either anchored down, or bolted down....take your pick.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Med's

There were two great stories today about folks who take med's.

First, the vampire story. There's this gal....Josephine Rebecca Smith, who is sitting in either a jail unit or a mental today.  She attacked this old geezer.....69-year-old Milton Ellis....who ended having to off to a local hospital.  From the various news reports....somewhere down in the Saint Petersburg area of Florida....around midnight (of course)....Milton ended up falling asleep on the ground.  There are a fair number of indicators to say that he is a homeless guy.

As he was sleeping....Josephine apparently came up and started to attack him in a vampire fashion.....letting him know that she was going to eat him and bit him on the face and body.  Folks alerted on this....cops got called.....and Josephine got taken off.

The cops tend to think that she's on some kind of medication but no idea what.  The picture here....is her mug shot after being taken down to the cop station.  I sat and looked at it for a while.  Normally, I will recommend gals like this to my brother....that a Bama guy would not typically take out or engage in conversation with.  I'm of the mind that she might be an interesting character.....up until the point where she missed some of her meds.  Course, the more you gaze at her picture.....you start to get this feeling that she might be a bi-polar vampire gal, and that's crossing the line.

My other story....comes out this terrible shooting out in Carson City, NV.  Several folks at a local IHOP ended up getting shot by a Latino guy who just went whacko and started shooting.  The Latino is dead....so he can't tell his story.  So this is what we know about him.  Almost everyone who knows him.....says he's a gentle guy and would never harm anyone.  Then they come around to admit he's had emotional issues for a decade, and taken medication.  They won't say what kind of medication.

I'm guessing that he's changed doctors in the last two months.....and switched from old meds version one to new meds version two....and maybe mixing the two at various times together.  And somewhere in the moments of confusion.....he just didn't know who he was or what he was doing.

Here's the thing to ponder upon.  The vampire gal and this Latino guy?  They are just two of 300k folks in America on some kind of medication....who might be capable of flipping tonight and killing you as you sleep.  Their doctor signs the prescriptions and just figures it's the best situation for all concerned.  And we just accept it.

Curse of the Mullahs

This is what we know....three Islama-dudes are likely within the US and planning this 9-11 event around car-bombs in DC or New York.   Period.  We know absolutely nothing else.  So everybody, from the New York cops to the FBI....are on mostly extended hours and treating this like a big deal (which it might be).

You can imagine the three Islama-dudes...."Little-Mo Man, Larry-Mo, and Mo-Mo".  They are likely sitting in some hotel in eastern Kentucky with suitcase of car-bombs laying on the floor, and watching the CNN guys explain fifty percent of the plan.  Sadly, there wasn't much of a plan to start with.  Mullah Jimmy-Mo (back in Saudi Arabia) developed this idea one afternoon after watching some French movie)....with only five lines of actual plan.  Nothing much has ever gone past the five lines because Mullah Jimmy-Mo didn't want a really stupid plan to be obvious to the boys (they might not volunteer then).

So they sit there.....sipping RC Cola and fizzy water.  They've come to realize that their lives are mostly worthless....through various circumstances.  They could have married well....but they didn't.  They could have gotten a full up taxi-cab job but they just didn't have the bribe money.  They could have gone onto mechanics school but they simply didn't have the interest.  Losers....plain and simple losers.  They can't calculate their lives in much fashion.  It's a dead-end situation for them, as they see it.  So Mullah Jimmy-Mo didn't have much trouble in convincing them of a stupid act.

Somehow, they have to get from the house or the hotel....across a couple of hundred miles probably....with a car or two that they've purchased recently for a fairly cheap price (likely less than $2k each).  They have to depend on this pitiful Chevy making it from start to finish....so it'll be in place for the planned blow-up.  The VIN numbers will be obvious to the cops within an hour after the explosion if it occurs.  They will be at the last known address for the owner, and find the trail within five hours.

"Little-Mo Man, Larry-Mo, and Mo-Mo" have got maybe twelve good hours to make their run and try to be several states over.  Every detail of their life will be known....the failed marriages, the arrest for marry-j-u-wanna possession in 1988, and even the charge-card expenses for stuff they bought at K-Mart last week.

The odds of success in the planning with "Little-Mo Man, Larry-Mo, and Mo-Mo"?  In almost every effort made to harm innocent people since 9-11....the perpetrators have screwed up.  It's like a 90-percent chance that it's so badly screwed up....that the actual planned event never occurs as the boss planned.

So across DC today....at least a thousand cops and federal guys are watching for "Little-Mo Man, Larry-Mo, and Mo-Mo".  Every car....every truck....and every paper-bag left in sight....will be checked out.  The problem here is that statistically, by the time you count all these guys, and the 500k residents of the region who are smarter than "Little-Mo Man, Larry-Mo, and Mo-Mo"....you've got an entire army facing the boys.  The numbers aren't in the favor of the boys at all.

The sad thing is....they could have have had productive lives....go onto great jobs....owned their own house....and been respected in their neighborhood.  Missed chances and opportunities....all wasted because of dimwitted Mullahs.  The boys were cursed in a way.  The Mullah didn't care about their lives, or anyone else's life.  It was a scripted Mullah event....that's all.

What May Come

If you've been watching the Fast and Furious gun episode stuff this week....there were two curious things which might turn into a big mess for some government folks.

First, it came out today that a crime occurred in Arizona....which resulted in one of the Fast and Furious guns being found in the truck.  The driver?  Well...he appears to be connected to drug crimes and will face various charges.  The problem here might be the state suddenly waking up and not only charging this guy with gun related crimes, but finding the guy who approved the sale of this weapon...up through the ranks of US government.  A state charge or two?  Maybe worth six months in prison, if you could drag this into a state court room.  The Fed guy might feel like it's a serious matter at that point.

Second?  The attorney general for the US government came out and said that no one in the upper levels of the US government knew anything much about the Fast and Furious operation.

It is possible that the junior guys of the ATF group...just decided to never tell their bosses in DC about any of the operation.  Maybe....there's dozens or hundreds of ATF operations underway throughout America today...even extending in Canada....which none of the top twenty-five bosses of the ATF headquarters in DC or attorney general Holder know about.

Maybe the ATF guys in New Mexico are the ones in charge of the secret UFO operations and quietly hold the Crystal Skull, the Ark of the Covenant, and the Holy Grail. Yep, maybe that's how secrets are kept.....which I might be able to convince myself if I had a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon.

For some reason, I think the ATF guys have a serious problem on their hands.  Either they are as stupid as Attorney General Holder indicates, or they might be spending time in either Arizona or Mexican jails.

The "Pass The Bill" Bill

I ended up watching the President's speech.  It's probably sixth speech of the year that I've watched him give.  It needed to be a five-star speech.  By the end....I was feeling mostly it fell into the 2-star marginal speech category.  The jobs potential?  It's hard to say.  It kinda felt like a guy was having a heart attack and we needed to use the defibrillator but in this case....we just had a K-Mart defibrillator with four AAA-batteries in it.  The "jolt" might just be a tingle, and I'd be in NCAA-heaven with Bama playing Auburn everyday (it's the best a guy from Bama could hope for....Iron Bowl in heaven daily).

The $450 billion?  Well....it'll come out of some imaginary pocket like the $800 billion that we found for stimulus a while back.  If it did turn around the jobs market, then we'd actually have more folks paying taxes, and maybe make the money back.  But if you only created 100k jobs over twelve months with the $450 billion, then it's mostly a waste of time and money.

At some point....I had this deja vu feeling over "pass the bill".  Later on, some journalist commented....it got mentioned seventeen times during this speech.  I kept thinking it was a psychological thing.....like when Luke Skywalker used his Jeda powers to make some dopey guy do something that he wouldn't normally do.  Luke usually had his hand out and was focusing hard on his victim.  To be honest, I never saw any mortal character in Star Wars defeat the Jeda mindmelt deal.  It's hard to say if that Boehner guy or Cantor kid from Virginia can stand up against the President's Jeda powers.  Mortal men just can't fight it....usually.

So will it pass?  I'm thinking that the House ought to split this up into individual bills....for each single item. Up and down vote.  Seventy percent of the bills would easily pass by the Republicans in the House, and likely stop in the Senate because they just won't dare stand for twenty-odd bills.  Frankly, they'd likely say it's all or none....making Boehner and Cantor mostly grin that the old guys in the Senate just weren't up to one-page bills (too much to read).

The plan to fix roads and schools?  Which ones?  Even split amongst all fifty states?  You can imagine everyone wanting a chunk of the money to do something with Route 16 highway, the old gym at the school, and replacing a 64-year old bridge considered unsafe.  The issue is that you don't have a list sitting there with projects ready to go (remember, don't utter "shovel ready" in any national audience or folks start laughing).  I'm guessing over 900 principals are pulling out their dream plans tomorrow morning and trying to convince Senator Tubby that they truly need eight million to build this great school annex building.  You figure four months to argue over this priority list of projects, another six months to get the contracts fixed up and signed, and another eighteen months before the school is finished.  There's limits to this concept.

Then I came to the end of this speech.  It felt like a political huddle with a coach giving you his strategy.  Confidence wasn't really overflowing on this matter.  It might have some effect, but not as much as you'd like.  Would it convince a company to grow it's jobs base?  No.  Would it convince a boss to hire up forty more employees?  Maybe, but the President left out the various regulations that he'd dump (momentarily). So that wasn't going to help much.