Tuesday, 31 January 2012

My Neighborhood

The DC government (the city council and Mayor) are supposed to be meeting with the attorney general from Virginia and some Maryland officials.....all over rats.  Months ago, DC passed some ordnance that said if you called up an extermination guy, and he could catch the rat/mouse alive....he was supposed to deliver it alive to a wooded area.  Naturally, DC has no wooded areas, so it meant driving across the river and dumping it into Maryland or Virginia.  Folks in both states got hostile about this.  So this is now referred to, in the local press....as the "rat-summit".  It's comical in a way.  Twenty years ago....you would have put out rat poison, had a dead rat, and tossed it into the garbage can to be picked up.  Now, you have some idiot driving twenty miles in a truck to dump some rat in the swamps of Maryland or the rurals of Virginia.  Then a bunch of idiots get upset over it being a DC rat, instead of a local state rat.

Cops got a phone call a few days ago over our missing Alexandria activist (Lenny Harris).  He disappeared a couple of months ago, but they eventually found his cellphone and car.  Well....the phone call said to venture out to some abandoned house, find a well next to it, and the body was at the bottom.  It was Lenny.  Normally, when folks disappear in the DC region....you never find the body.  In this case....someone felt bad about the whole circumstance, and finally gave enough info to find him.  The cops would like to know more, but whoever commented on this event and the location....probably doesn't want anymore attention on the matter.

The Occupy guys were directed not to camp out anymore on federal property.  So the Park Service deemed the definition to mean....no sleeping bags, but tents were ok.  I paused over this explanation.  If I asked a thousand camping experts....they'd all say that once you lay out a tent, you are camping.  Only the National Park Service would stand up and say you have to have sleeping bags to camp out.  So virtually every single Occupy guy is in position and haven't moved an inch.  They have guys posted around the camps now....watching for cops to move forward and then stage an alarm for everyone.  It's become like some episode of "Dallas", and developed into a 2-star soap opera.

Sunday, 29 January 2012


So this is the story.  Frank has been a mob guy all his life.  Things have gone wrong, and Frank has some different prospectives than what he had twenty years ago.  He has grown some feelings, some humanity, and perhaps matured a bit in his older years.

Frank has decided to stand against the mob and say some things to take them down a notch.  After the court case is done....Frank needs to be "relocated".  Typically, this means you get sent off to Arizona, Idaho or some remote sections of Maine.  Frank has been watching the winter Olympics at the time, which featured Lilyhammer, Norway.  Franks says to the relocation guys....that he'd like to relocate to Lilyhammer.  In a real location scenario.....you can't be sent out of the country....it just won't happen.  But in this script, they comply.

The start-up of this Norwegian TV mini-series stops at this point, and you get the idea of who Frank is.  Yes, it is Steve Van Zandt who is playing this Norwegian TV series character.....our guy from the Sopranos.  Who else could you have playing a Jersey mob guy?

According to Norwegian news....over half the adult population watched the first of these episodes in the past week.  This has excited the network who produced the eight episode series.  But here's an interesting side to the story.  The network knew they had a masterpiece....so they signed a deal with NetFlex, and you can download the series in the near future.  I'm predicting that around three to five million Americans suddenly discover that various European productions are worth watching, and this trend toward more unusual stories like this occurs.

The icing on this cake?  What you should know about Frank and his arrival in Lilyhammer.....a kind of rural area of Norway.....is that he eventually comes around to realizing that his old Jersey methods....might be required in Norway.  You can move a Jersey guy to Norway, but you can't take the Jersey out of him.

It might be worth watching, if you download it from NetFlex.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

A California Story

California has this committee or board that they call the California Air Resources Board.  Basically, they have the authority to meet, develop new rules and control a great deal of the state's future.  Their agenda?  Mostly to make fresh clean air.  This week....they made up a state rule that required by 2025.....one in seven cars new cars sold in the state must be electric or zero-emission.

Most dealers and car companies went along with this rule established.  The used car folks?  Well....they spoke and said that this would change sales in some ways....that they weren't entirely happy with the deal.

You can imagine the scene in 2026....you want a regular car....at the right price, and you can't get it as a resident of California.  So you drive over to Vegas....price non zero-emission car, buy it, and drive it home that night to your place in California.  I'm guessing an entire market will start up by that point.  You chat with Norm, a new Ford dealer in Montana.....he has the vehicle at the right price.  He puts it on a flatbed trailer and brings it to the state border of California....and you pick it up there.  I suspect half the new vehicles in California will be bought out of state by that point.

Electric cars have one serious problem....in that you are going to charge them up with electrical power.  If you knew the cost of a nightly charge on your vehicle....and your monthly electrical bill was going to approach five times what you currently pay....you might be laughing over the silly idea of electrical vehicles.  If you note your electrical charges over the last five years....they move up almost yearly.  Your consumption might be the same as five years ago, but general cost spirals upward.  You toss in thirty evenings of a charge on your vehicle.....and it just might not be that practical.

The non-emission car?  There aren't many negative comments....except they continually have to be tuned up.  If you only have a once a year inspection to worry about....with $300 likely going to your mechanic to ensure your zero-emission car passes the inspection....maybe that's ok.

I suspect that folks will ask stupid questions as we approach 2025, and eventually realize what this board really did.  They might have good intentions, but the end result might shock folks.


Comments made yesterday indicate that Grafenwoehr (Americans typically call it "Graf")....will see American soldiers finally leave.  The US government indicates that the brigade kept there....has been selected to be one of the two removed from Europe.  They also said that they'd keep the post open, and the training range operational.....bringing in some troops from the states on a month-by-month basis to conduct training.  So your unit in Georgia might get a notice to deploy 400 guys to Graf for thirty days of training.

The impact?  Well....there's about forty million dollars a year spent by Americans in the Graf community.  This covers beer, food, apartments, car repairs, etc.  From the 7k Germans who live in Graf....around 3k of them work in some fashion for the Americans (on-post and off-post).  Some grill burgers....some do transmission work....some serve beer.

I imagine most Germans from Graf woke up this morning and mostly are in an anxiety attack.  Some built huge houses and rented out the bottom-half of the house to American families, at an exorbitant amount of money ($2k a month).  Who will rent at that rate?  No one.  A local German probably wouldn't pay more than $800 max.

Pubs and pizza operations?  They will suffer greatly.  Even if this training deployment deal occurs.....the guys coming in for thirty days will mostly train, and probably only get three days off during their deployment.  So out of a dozen pizza operations around Graf....most will close.  Same way for pubs.

Back in the 1990s....I was sent to Graf for two occasions.  The first one was this overnight trip.  I went with a second guy and we installed a satellite system one afternoon.  We were going to stay overnight.  So we looked for a hotel opening on post....nothing.  They gave us three possible places off-post, and each was full (at 6PM when we drove to each).  We branched out five miles....just driving....nothing.  We drove to some fancy hotel about twenty miles away, and it was full.  So around 10PM that night....we drove back to Graf and slept in the Volvo station wagon.  I learned then that Graf has some serious limitations.

My second trip?  A two-week adventure via the Air Force.....to stay in some 1960's style building with just bunk beds.  No toilets and almost no heat.  We got up and walked 200 feet to some building that had showers and toilets.  It had hot water from 5AM to 7AM, and 5PM to 7PM....and that was all the hot water they had.  If you walked over to the civilized part of the post....they had this million-dollar gym and a great movie theater.  But it just wasn't a place that you wanted to spend two weeks.

In two years as the brigade leaves Graf and the locals wake up to the new reality....I'm guessing that a 1k Germans eventually are forced into leaving the area.  You'd have to drive almost an hour to get to any real town with potential jobs, and even that might be limited.  In ten years.....the town will shrink down to 3k people....with various empty houses just sitting there.

It's a sad end to Graf.  It probably deserves better.  The German government might come in and offer up some incentives to start manufacturing there, but you aren't going to have any technology-smart folks around this town.  And I doubt that it will find a way to keep the population up to where it is today.  Americans will remember their time around Graf.  I'm guessing five hundred thousand Army guys (active and retired).....going back to the 1950s....will raise a beer tonight.....to the time they spent at Graf.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Simply Observations

The massive cuts announced by the Pentagon yesterday?  Well...it's an amusing thing.  They are designed to take almost a decade to accomplish.  So, it looks good for about six months, then some war episode will occur in Central America, Asia, or the Middle East....and the President will announce various planned cuts are now suspended.  The odds of all the planned massive cuts happening?  I'd rate it less than ten percent.  It was a decent public relations event.....and not much else.

The $14k offering that the cruise line will make to the Italian cruise passengers?  Well....I'm guessing the majority of folks will turn it down and consider a massive court case.  The problem I see is that you go with some massive case, with a dozen lawyers....and sit back for a five-year court operation.  When it finally ends...after the lawyers get their cut....you end up with $70k (my humble opinion).  The cruise line will figure the game out and sell off a boat or two....declare bankruptcy, and it could be another five years before some judge can release all this money.  I might be thinking $14k would be worth it....then I figure the taxes here, and I probably only get $9500 after the IRS gets their money.  $9500 for a 3-hour cruise gone wrong and losing my luggage?

Do I care much if Pat Sajak had a few drinks between shows (Wheel of Fortune)?  No.  Was he drunk when spinning the wheel?  You can't find a single example of such behavior.  I've watched eight different updates from local and national news over the past two days, and don't see much to report.  Folks who worry about this....ought to demand a breathalyzer for news folks, TV weathermen, game show hosts, and US Senators.  We might be shocked at how many are tipsy or drunk on a daily basis.

This Bob Dole negative talk over Newt?  I kept thinking.....Bob who?  Then it hit me.....he was some minor Republican party Senator from the eighties and nineties.  He is apparently throwing his support behind Mitt.  I thought that was pretty neat....326 Dole-supporters....now supporting Mitt.  This might help out in Kansas....maybe.

Finally, a publisher in Germany has been in a major fight to reprint "Mein Kampf" (Hitler's book....his one and only book).  The German government has a ban on the book....you can't find it on any shelf, or print it.  Even if this publisher gets some legal understanding.....it'll be curious just how many copies might be sold.  My humble guess....less than twenty thousand.  To be kinda honest....you can likely buy the book at a digital book site, and download it to your Kindle in Germany.  The German cops probably haven't figured out that angle to the deal yet.  The fear of Mein Kampf?  It's a fairly difficult book to read, and I'm guessing most folks will stop after a dozen pages.  But the problem is that you just need some dimwit in Bavaria to read it....get all peppered up.....and start making speeches....to restart the whole Nazi movement.  One guy....is all it takes.

My Neighborhood

Across the river, in DC....there's this effort underway to build a trolley-car line....roughly thirty-seven miles within the District of Columbia.  Cost?  Well....it's figured at $1.5 billion and you can bet on it approaching $2 billion, and maybe costing even more than that.

The first part of this was supposed to be active in 2013.  No one is expecting that line to be finished....because of various issues, and meet that anticipated opening.  The trolley-cars are all foreign made, and electrical.  Because there's a law in DC forbidding high-voltage trolleylines (going back one hundred years)....folks aren't sure if the city council will have the guts to fix this issue.

So we come to today's little item of interest.  The city paid almost half a million....to tell them how this will change DC.  You would have thought a report like this would have been created ten years ago when they first discussed the matter, and been part of the planning process.  It wasn't.

The report says that property values (property taxes would be related) will escalate, possibly up another seven billion dollars over the next decade or two.  In fact, they kinda hint that most poor folks in eastern DC....will likely be forced out as they discover various offers for their houses, and just leave DC.  The black voting ratio?  They don't cover that topic....but it's very likely that half the black population in eastern DC will be gone within two decades....if this trolley-car line is ever completed.

The idea here....if you think about it, is that the report convinces various big players in DC politics to climb onboard and accept expenditures for the trolley.  Stores, apartments, condos, and various construction projects will eventually come because of the new trolley system.

I suspect if half the population would have realized the implications back a decade ago....of the black population being eventually pushed out....then it wouldn't have been accepted so much by the city council.

DC by 2030?  I'm guessing it will be this interesting transformation....with less crime....less drugs....and maybe less corruption.  Some European-style trolley-cars will be roaming across the landscape and some idiots will claim it almost looks like Amsterdam.  And the likely three billion dollars spent....will seem like a great idea.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Occupy Camping

This week, Congress (mostly the Republicans) called up the National Park Service management guys and asked some tough questions on the Occupy guys camping out in DC on Park Service grounds.

It wasn't much of a friendly situation.  I watched the video of the meeting, and you can tell that the Park Service guy probably didn't want to have to explain things.  The question came up....if rules exist that forbid camping on federal grounds, then how does Occupy continue to exist for weeks and months on two different sites in DC?

Well....the Park Service guy explained that if you are protesting, then your Constitutional rights fall into place, and none of the Park Service rules are enforced at that point.  You can see a bit of disbelief on the faces of the Representatives at the meeting.

I sat and pondered over the explanation. I would have asked the Park Service guy another question at this point.  If you suggest that Constitutional rights trump parks rules.....then could a guy from Bama travel by RV to the Grand Canyon Park entrance....put up a sign on the RV saying he was a "99-percent" protest guy and demand free entrance?  Then after entering.....could he freely park the RV for weeks and months at some parking lot along the Grand Canyon....just camping out, rather than paying the $30 a day for a site deal?

I'm guessing the Park Service guy would have grinned at that point and said no....that you can only be a 99-percent guy if you hang out in Wall Street or Washington DC.  Then I would have grinned and told him he'd best fire his legal staff for their advice.

The way this works....the Park Service in DC has a couple of lawyers for advice.  They tend to be told by senior management that there is a end-result to where they want to be.  So someone hinted that they wanted Occupy to be allowed free access within any forbidden camping rules.

Congress has come back, and it appears that the National Park Service will have to force the guys out at some point in the near future.  It might be days....it might be weeks.

Here's the curious thing.  They can only chase them out of National Park Service lands.  The city actually has open parks.....city property, not federal property.  Occupy could move and be in friendly territory.  The mayor might not be happy.....but folks could be legally camping.  There is a problem with this idea.  Most all of the District's open property (parks and such).....are nowhere near the capital or the White House.  Most is a pretty fair walk from the METRO stations.  Some of these parks are in the northeast and southeast areas....where you could be shot after the sun goes down.  Occupy guys aren't willing to walk a fair distance....nor would they have the guts to camp in areas where gang activity is possible.  Nor would they be happy having to walk three miles to get over to the protest area.

For a brief moment.....I had these ideas of traveling the US with a big RV....and a 99-percent sign on the side, and just staying freely at national parks.  I guess that just won't work in the real world.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The State of the Union Speech and the Heartland

Somewhere out in the heartland today....at some Quicky-Mart, ten folks met around 7AM.  A journalist could walk in and interview the ten with two general questions.....did they watch the President's State of the Union speech last night, and how would they compare to past speeches they saw.

So Gus, the proprietor of the Quicky-Mart speaks first.  To be honest....Gus worked eighteen hours yesterday and was still on duty when the President appeared, plus he had the channel there in the Mart turned to CNN to view this.  But Gus was moving back and forth....making coffee, working the cash register, and didn't think he really saw more than eight minutes of the entire speech.  As for comparisons?  Well....he remembers one of the Carter speeches because his wife made him watch it one night, but to honest....he hadn't ever viewed more than ten minutes of any of these speeches.  Frankly, he didn't care much anyway.

Karl, the local pig-farmer, admitted that he did make it back into the house in time to watch the speech from the kitchen table.  But then he admitted that his wife wanted to discuss issues with the dishwasher....his son spoke of problems with his truck's transmission....and his daughter was hustling dad for $70 to pay for fancy shoes from Sears.  All total, he thinks that he watched ten minutes of the speech.  As for other comparisons....well....beyond George Bush and Reagan.....he couldn't name any of the previous presidents, and frankly didn't think speeches meant much.

Miss Tammy, the Baptist minister's wife admitted that she was leading prayer study with two women, which she named.....but most folks in the Quicky-Mart knew that both were out of town last night.....so Miss Tammy was likely have "relations" with some guy that wasn't watching the speech.  She said she had watched all of the Union speeches over the past twenty years....but no one much believed much on that either.

Bob, the Pepsi truck-driver, admitted that he watched about thirty minutes of the speech....mostly on mute....while he discussing septic tank issues with his cousin.  He did think the President dressed well.  As for previous speeches....well....he did note that he'd seen all of Bill Clinton's Union speeches....mostly because he was living in Grandma's house at the time, and she was an absolute supporter of Bill Clinton.

Tubby, the former union guy on disability at age 35, said that he had four TVs running and was watching the Union speech along with some basketball game, a World War II movie, and some Latino channel with lusty gals.  Tubby survives mostly on pain-killers.....so he didn't even remember previous Presidents or their speeches.

Marvin, the girl's basketball coach from the high school....watched the entire speech.  He cited quotes and appeared to know most everything that anyone could memorize.  Then he mentioned that he had a young lady from the team over at his house while watching this.....and the crowd got kinda quiet.  It was best not to ask further questions to Marvin.

Dan, the rural carrier?  He didn't even know the speech was on, and was watching a 1994 Chinese martial arts and disco movie that he'd found on NetFlex's list of international movies.  Dan then admitted that he didn't have a dish, a cable-TV set-up, or antenna on his roof.....and that he had been renting either Beta Videos, or DVDs for the past twenty years.

Jimmy, the retired pipe-fitter, spoke of watching almost an hour of the speech.  He wanted to compare to Reagan's 1984 speech, or possibly Carter's 1976 speech, or possibly Obama's 2009 speech.  He kinda admitted that he watches twelve hours a day of C-SP*N, and four hours of CNN, with an hour at the Quicky-Mart in the morning, and barely five hours of sleep per day.

Winslow, the retired Marine barked out that he'd been out in the pasture target-shooting at the time, and missed the whole speech.  He also admitted that he'd in military action for most of Bush's eight speeches, Obama's previous three speeches, Clinton's eight speeches, and Bush's (the Senior) four speeches.  In the Marines....watching speeches was for sissy-boys....as far as he was concerned.

So finally, they come around to "Flick".  "Flick" calmly admitted that he had viewed the speech and cited six major problems with the contents, then went to Obama Union speech version 3, where he cited nine problems.  Then he went to Obama Union speech version 2, where he cited five critical errors.  Then he went to Obama Union speech version 1, where he cited fourteen problems.  But he carried on....going down the list of how screwed-up all of George Bush's speeches were, those of Clinton, Bush (the senior), and even Regan's speeches.  Tears were shed as he portrayed these hour-long speeches as something of a worthless nature that men are called to perform year after year.  He gave woeful moments of the analysis conducted after the speech, and how some news folks were dimwits or idiots.  Then he finally came to true measure of the whole thing....that it's a speech that is forgotten in less than three days by most all who view it.

The journalist walked out at that point.  He couldn't use any of their comments because they were too realistic.....not meeting his expectations of people wanting political chit-chat from the local newspaper or news channel.  They could have all watched wrestling or Wheel-of-Fortune....and been just as entertained.  That's the sadness of politics...it just ain't the same as Hulk Hogan beating the crap out of some new wrestler called Dinky Dan.

Only in America.

A Life Change

In the last couple of days....I've awaken to realize that the PowerBall Lotto deal has gone from a buck a chance....to two bucks a chance.  I stood there in front of the Latino lady at the Pentagon in a state of shock.

Now, I admit....I am from Bama....from a dry county....and heavily influenced by the Baptist Church folks.  At some point, I drifted over to the dark side, and got into paying lotto on occasion (typically when it's more than $40 million.....$5 million just ain't enough to get excited about).  So I throw in about $300 a year on lotto.  Winnings?  Well....sadly, I've never won more than $12 off a ticket.  Maybe in a year....I might win $50.

So I got all curious....why double up the cost of one ticket?  Well....these PowerBall guys got smart.  They did a few changes and now say that they will likely have a $200 million winning situation monthly....which drives tons of folks to toss $40 a week into PowerBall.  In the old days....you had a $200 million chance maybe twice a year.

This is kinda like an addiction.  Guys stand around during these weeks when the PowerBall winnings were around $200-$300 million, and talking how they'd buy this and that.  We probably waste four hours every week....talking to our co-workers, wives, husbands, strangers on the street, and ministers....over this possible winning situation.  So to double up on this....it means a constant fantasy situation where guys talk almost daily throughout a month...over what may or may not occur.

This may not be a good thing.

It was already bad enough that we talked constantly about NCAA football or basketball, or American politics....but now a continual talk over how you'd live the life of a wealthy millionaire?  I've got a bad feeling over this.

The Bigfoot Dilemma

Over the past couple of days....there's this topic that has drifted around the internet....from a show that features the hunt for Bigfoot.  The topic?  If  you spot Bigfoot....should you shoot him?

It has been taken as a serious topic by some, with vast discussions over the reason to fire away, or just wave at the big fellow.  Some folks believe a dead bigfoot....even if it's the last of the breed.....is good to help prove a point.

I pondered over this topic.  I personally have zero belief in the Bigfoot legend now.  As a kid, I watched the tape of the Bigfoot walking through the woods over a thousand times.  I think for twenty years....I wanted to believe in the legend.  Then eventually, some guy came out and admitted that this was a commercial effort to sell a video to TV stations throughout the 1970s.  It was simply a guy in a guerrilla outfit.

So back to the topic of firing away at Bigfoot.  Here's the issue.  On any given day in America.....there are probably a dozen guys on the run in the woods....wearing guerrilla outfits, and pretending to be Bigfoot.  They are trying to scare up some tourists, relatives, or teenagers.  If we all start firing away.....we will end up with a hundred dead guys, whose wives are demanding to know why Karl was dressed up in a guerrilla outfit, and if he was skipping work or fishing to play some game.  Eventually, a bunch of Senators will have to convene and offer up legislation making it illegal to shoot a Bigfoot.....just to save a hundred white guys a year from certain death (note: no black guy would have dress up in a Bigfoot outfit, nor would a Latino guy).  The sad thing is that folks would jump on top of this legislation and say it was a government cover-up, paid by Bigfoot millionaires, and it's even more reason to shoot to kill Bigfoot.

Luckily, we haven't gotten around to finding Loch Ness Sea Monsters in the Tennessee or Mississippi Rivers.

Just Observations

The State of the Union speech.  I watched about twenty minutes of the "show", and then flipped it over to some basketball game.  I've probably watched a dozen of these speeches over the years, and they are mostly all boring speeches, without anything of substance.  Folks clap and occasionally stand up.  The networks try to pan the cameras to catch Senators falling asleep.  At the end.....a bunch of commentators come on and try to explain what the guy said....because you mostly didn't grasp anything (by their belief).  I personally think it's a waste of time for a citizen to watch this "show".  Up until the 1930s....most regular people in America never heard or watched the State of the Union speech....then radio came along, and we've been stuck listening to it for the past eighty years.  All in all...a bunch of words that you really can't say much about.

The warships.  If you notice naval movements over the past couple of days....we've put an aircraft carrier down against Iran.  Basically....nothing much should happen.  Course, Iran would love to fire off a dozen missiles and hope that the carrier would sink....it'd be like a five-star moment in Iranian history if they could accomplish such an effort.  The odds?  One in a million.  And the base where the missiles come from?  If I were an Iranian military guy on the installation....I'd be in my car leaving base the minute that the missiles were fired.....the carrier isn't going to stand down and let your missile game be played out.

The encryption case.  There was an interesting case that came up yesterday out in Colorado.  Some gal is up on bank fraud charges, and she's got a laptop with lots of data on it.....all encrypted.  The judge ordered her to turn off the encryption so the cops could view the data.  I'm guessing that it'll go up the next step, and likely to hit the Supreme Court within weeks.  I can understand the motivation of the attorney general and the cops....but frankly, I can't think of any Constitutional law that says you aren't allowed to encrypt anything.  Up until five years ago.....most encryption that a typical citizen would buy....was beatable.  Things have reached a point now.....where you could pretty much lock down a laptop entirely, with no hope for the cops.  I'd even say that within five years....your teenage daughter or son will have cheap or free encryption abilities to deny you use of their home laptop.  It's a trend that simply isn't going to be reversed.

Finally, the Sundance Fest.  This is the fancy movie fest that's held out in Utah....run by Robert Redford.  Basically, Mr Redford came out yesterday and said that the fest is supposed to be for the "99-percent" (referring to the Occupy folks and their agenda of the regular citizen).  I paused over the commentary....wondering how anything related to the fest got paid for, without the 1-percent crowd paying for it.  Everything, from the fancy parties, to the dinners....is mostly all covered by rich folks....the 1-percent folks.  So you've got some idiot like Mr Redford who wants to make a political statement....grinning at the camera...while he still kisses up to the 1-percent who deliver the $15k of fancy wine from California.  And for you folks who have various fests and special functions in your cities....you might want to examine who really pays for these (it's not the 99-percent....trust me).

Monday, 23 January 2012

The Rights of the Dead

By late yesterday, some analysis had been done by the South Carolina's Attorney General over voting on Saturday.  The Attorney General....Alan Wilson....decided that he had to call up the US Justice Department, over possible voter fraud.  The issue?  Well.....953 dead folks voted in the Saturday Republican primary.

I know it's a bit shocking.  Typically, dead folks vote Democrat (what we've been told over the past decade since folks started noticing the dead voter trend).

We could analyze this and come to several conclusions.  First, the dead folks were mostly independent voters and decided to dump Obama, and hang with Mitt or Newt or the Rick guy or that Ron Paul dude.  No one has ever interviewed dead voters to determine their affiliation, and one might suspect they were more Democrat than Republican, but maybe folks are wrong on that account.

Second, typically....dead folks only voted in major elections....and not primaries, so this creates a new window of opportunity.  If we can get more dead folks out in the election, it might mean more votes for Republicans during this primary season.

Third and final, some state investigators are going to show up at various homes and ask some stupid questions.  Some widows, and widowers are going to be asked how their dead husband or wife (for over a year), came to vote in the primary.  Some nephews are going to be bluntly asked if they used Uncle Karl's absentee ballot that came in the mail.  Some folks are going to look at the postal delivery guys and suspect that they intercepted the absentee ballot that came.  I'm guessing that a dozen folks are going to face state charges and have to find a lawyer.

So here we are....stuck with 953 dead folks voting in South Carolina's primary.  Yeah, they might have all voted for Ron Paul....that's my thinking on this.  I'd like to believe that anyway.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Two Styles of Debate

What worries the Obama team about a Newt situation?  Newt has hinted that he wants a Lincoln-Douglass style debate forum.  For those who aren't familiar with this 1850's style....a moment to explain the modern debates, and the Lincoln-Douglass method.

Today, if you hold a Presidential debate....there's a moderator or a group of moderators.  They get to ask any question they want, and phrase it in a method to help or hurt the guy at the podium.  Several opportunities have arisen over the last four decades where the moderator probably triggered an eventual bad moment for the candidate.  We could be honest here and admit that it was probably more Republicans hurt by this method, than Democrats.

Over the past decade, after July....there's a bit of discussion over the debate sequence, the quantity of debates, and who sits on the moderator table. Even the location of the debate, will often come up to be a problem.....when some university in Wisconsin is selected....which is hot Democrat territory, or some arena in North Carolina where a large number of independents might be in the audience.

So we come to the Lincoln-Douglass style.  You agree to meet in some town....maybe in a open theater, a university, or even a town square.  No moderator.  You agree to a couple of topics already established.  One guy starts with a open statement on something and gets ten minutes to talk up his topic.  The other guy gets ten minutes to free-chat over what was said.  The second guy typically has no speech in front of him, and is working strictly on real old-fashioned debate techniques.  They go back and forth for two hours, discussing probably six to eight topics at length.  A smart guy can beat a weak guy in this style of debate.

To be honest, Newt is fairly unbeatable in a Lincoln-Douglass style situation.  The President would look weak....and perhaps dismal in this style of debate.   In a moderator-debate.....a weak guy could come out ahead, with just a stupid question or two on the smart guy.

It's pretty good odds that President Obama would not agree to such a debate.  Newt would demand it, and at best....there might be two debates agreed upon....with one being a Lincoln-Douglass debate in some big Democratic university setting.  I'm guessing Newt will not be happy with one, and demand a minimum of three, but the President just plain isn't going to be stupid enough to doing something like this.

My humble guess is that we get to see one Lincoln-Douglass debate at best.  Now, the second debate with the moderator?  Well....if I were the moderator, I'd prepare myself to be tossed up one side and down the other by Newt.  The moderators selected....will carved up as badly as the President.

So, I'm thinking the President and staff would really like Mitt to come out winning in Florida.  If he doesn't, this Lincoln-Douglass topic will come out and a dozen folks will spend weeks thinking how they can counter Newt in October, and it won't be pleasant for anyone.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Why the Media Boys Might be Worrying

So you come to July, and you've got a Presidential race with Newt and the President.  You work for ABC, NBC, CBS, the PBS crowd, or CNN.....and you'd like to have a payraise or better deal in 2013.  You gaze over at how Newt manhandles media analysts and news folks.

Over the spring of 2012.....Newt has dumped a good bit of negativity over various networks....except Fox News.  Numbers have slipped for most of the major networks....except Fox.  The independent folks?  Well....they just aren't watching in the numbers that existed in 2008.  Commerical advertisers?  They have smiled at the negotiation table and asked for ten and twenty percent off what was the normal advertising rates.  Things aren't going well.

So you stand there in August, and your news division chief, and the CEO....want you to run negative news pieces against Newt.  You start to ask about a new contract and guaranteed pay raise....which they laugh about.  You bring up the lowering numbers of viewers.  They don't care.  So you smile and suggest that you might run their negative piece....but it'll look like something that a 2-year college kid would produce down in southern Mississippi.

Things go back and forth, with PBS and a few newspapers working the frontlines because most of the network guys are worried about their future and their economic prosperity.  The White House guys can't understand why their game strategy isn't being being played aggressively.

The second wife of Newt brought out for another tour?  Well...the only folks watching her in August of 2012....are Democrats.  Nobody much cares for another round of hearing her complain about Newt being unethical.

I know we are a couple of months away from the real ending of this primary business.....and Mitt could still win.  But I'm thinking the last person that the President or the media want to face in the fall....is Newt.  He's capable of throwing questions right back at the wannabe journalists.  People like that attitude.  And it's likely to bring in ten percent of the national independent vote just because of attitude alone.

Just my two cents of observation.

The Truth About School Meals

Some folks out in Los Angeles decided that school lunches just weren't right.  They weren't nutritional.  They didn't have health aspects that kids ought to be eating.  So they went into turbo mode, switched over completely, and actually won some food awards for improving nutrition in the schools.  So the kids took one look at the new menus.....and said no.  They wouldn't eat the stuff.  You had new fangled vegetarian curries, fancy and healthy tamales, special salads, and plain healthy Thai noodles.  And this simply wasn't going to be touched.

So you imagine the crowds of kids....now going into the lunch room.....with stuff that they've brought from home....loaded with all the bad stuff.  The school cooking staff have done just about everything by the book, and made nutritional experts happy.....but it won't be touched by the kids.

I grew up in a rural school in Bama.  For nine years....it was probably a decent meal that they cook, for a lousy 40-cents.  You always had some soup....loaded with potatoes and a few small pieces of meat each week.  You had some small piece of roast beef with a heeping serving of mashed potatoes.  And you tended to always get some piece of cheap cake without much frosting on it.  Kids generally ate the stuff, but I have to admit that it did have a taste to it.

As I switched over to another school in the tenth grade....I came to face a cafeteria staff that was a notch or two lower than the previous one.  I might have eaten once or twice a week in the place....but usually I'd have a Snickers bar somewhere and got by with that.  The pizza they did cook....was a second rated Chef-Boy-r-D type, and usually loaded with too much cheese (probably the free stuff that they got from the federal guys).   I think over the last three months at that school before I graduated....I never ate anything they cooked.  I didn't have much respect for these types of operations.

Then I went off to the Air Force, and discovered some of the best chow possible.  They made up great grilled ham and cheese sandwhiches in 90 seconds flat.  You got a plate full of stew that probably had an abundance of sodium in it.....but it filled you up.  I admit that they probably spent $1.50 for what we ate, but you cleaned up the plate.

The problem with these school menus is that you have to deliver something of nutrition that only costs around a buck for each kid.  The truth is.....the kids just won't touch it.  So you have this choice....don't cook nothing for them and allow them to bring stuff of a zero-nutritional value situation into the school, or give them food at a higher cost with lesser nutrition.  Some parents will get all disturbed because they want everyone at the school to suffer and starve.....to save them from sugar, sodium, and fat.  In a way, it's a lose-lose-lose situation.

My advice to you punk kids....get some saltine crackers....some cheese....some peanut butter....a Snickers bar.....a Pepsi....a bag of peanuts....and make yourself happy.  These fools running the schools usually sneak back to the teacher's lounge....eat a 1,500 calorie Burger King meal that they had delivered by Joe the custodian at the school.....and you just have to accept the fact that they don't care much about your own meals.

Friday, 20 January 2012

The Doom Indicator?

The story came out in Germany in the last couple of days....the German banks have been noted....stashing cash in the European Central Bank....rather than loaning it out.  Reasoning?  The experts say that the banks now suspect that a 2008-like economic event is on the horizon....another meltdown.

The amount?  Around 528 Billion Euro (figure 700 billion dollars).  This is apparently more than what they had stashed at the height of the recession (so says the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung).  It's a fair amount of capital, if you ask me.

The amusing side of this is that the stock market in Germany really liked this news, and the market has been positive the last couple of days, with the Euro gaining a bit against the dollar.  You would have thought folks would be curious about why fear over the future exists....but these are Germans and when you stash money....it can only be good (in their mind).

I'm thinking that another recession is likely out of their vision.  It might be a year away....maybe eighteen months.  But they aren't stupid about things like this.  It also means less money to loan, and only major companies will be able to expand, with everyone else forced to stay careful and avoid expansion.

2012 Review of M*A*S*H

I sat the other night and tried to watch two episodes of M*A*S*H.  I hadn't watched it in twenty years.  I finally came to a conclusion after watching the two episodes....that it was pretty lousy humor, and the one episode from the last three years....was purely dramatic stuff with punch-lines that simply didn't work.  I hate to say it....but it was mostly a lousy comedy as the years have gone by.

The anti-war wit that continually comes up?  It becomes a moment that demands a 'mute' protocol.  It makes me wonder how the show survived, but then the competition in those days really wasn't much to brag about.

My Neighborhood

Down south of where I live....is the town of Charlottesville, Virginia....a university town...about two hours away.  The town council decided in the last week....that it wanted to ban all wars, and to make sure no war started up with Iran.  It was a nifty little piece of resolution.  Typically....from my experience....most towns have 500 problems to worry about: folks wanting to have chickens in the backyard, some guy losing his liquor license for selling to underage kids, zoning issues, wild dogs, crime, shootings, bankruptcy issues, tax problems, rats, corruption on the city council, library issues, lack of snow removal, grass cutting problems, and sewage issues.  The city council down at Charlottesville decided that they had enough time to push the top 1k problems to the side, and discuss the problems of war, and then vote to ban it.  I wouldn't worry about this becoming a trend.  Most towns in Virginia have enough real problems....to keep them occupied.  And in the DC city council....they mostly worry about ethics problems, getting arrested for corruption, and ways to line the pockets of folks who elected them into office.

The local cops came up and arrested two METRO employees here in DC yesterday.  Their crime?  Well....they had the guy who goes to the machines during the day to clear out the cash from the charge-up machine near DC area subway stations.  They are typically assigned a guard who walks with them to a number of machines.  Some local establishment which sells lotto cards.....got to noticing this METRO guy coming in with bags of coins.....up to $500 in each bag, and he'd buy lotto cards (lots of them).  So they finally called up METRO and reported this (three years after it started, says the cops).  The accusation is that both the cop escort and the METRO guy stole hundreds of thousands of dollars.  No one can be sure about this....because there are no receipts.  So folks are asking the METRO office which handles this kind of business why their internal system.....which counts money as it's inserted into the machine....never noticed a trend.  I suspect that a third person is involved.....helping to hide the losses from the machine. The comical thing is that they think all of this cash came from one machine at one station.  And yes, the METRO guy did win lots of cash with his lotto cards.  I suspect he was smart enough never to put anything into the bank and just filter the cash out.  Added to this mess after the news media broke the story....is that the METRO folks have suspended the chief of the office that is supposed to monitor the machines....suspecting he is either an idiot or simply didn't ever ask questions about missing funds.  The question I have.....if this guy got away with it.....how many more guys got away with it as well?  There might be a million a month that is disappearing from METRO, and they don't even grasp that.

We've got a state representative here in Virginia who has come with this great idea....selling state-sanctioned medical mary-j-u-wanna out of the Virginia ABC-liquor stores.  It'd be a state-sponsored thing. The issue here is that....well...over half the state smokes the stuff on a weekly basis, and the other half is fighting like heck to stop drug sales, period.  Added to this....the DC folks are going full-speed ahead to sell medical mary-j-u-wanna legally throughout the district....with taxes added, of course.  It'll turn into a comical thing if over the next decade....everyone is selling state-approved medical mary-j-u-wanna and all our tax problems go away....all via the liquor sales shops.  

Finally, there is a Virginia legislature effort to put a 20-cent tax on each plastic bag you use at the grocery store.  There is an apparent discussion going on, and it's not just one nut-job talking over the issue.  I had to sit there and laugh....this would amount to $1.20 tax on me....every time I go and shop.  I pondered over this a while and realized that I could buy a thousand of these bags online for less than $20 and just buy my own personal supply of plastic bags to get around this issue.  With all the various issues that we have in Virginia, I am at a loss of explaining how this rates in the top 500 problems.  Course, the legislature could have taken up banning war.....and since that topic had been taken by some small town....they decided plastic bags was a good second choice.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Simply Observations

The Obama administration came out yesterday, via the Interior Department, with an interesting ban.  Roughly fifteen years after they became a problem....the government finally decided to ban the import of various "big" snakes (Anacondas, Pythons, etc).  Most folks in the southern half of Florida will tell you that there is a serious problem. The experts don't even want to guess how many there are in the Everglades.  So if you want a "big" snake.....you will have to buy one from an American guy, thus driving up the prices across the nation.  This is something that should have been done a decade ago by the Bush administration, but they just didn't want to handle the problem.  The sad thing here is that someone should have stood up back in the 1980s and said something then.

A couple of days ago....about half-way between Miami and London....some automated message deal came on...on board a British Airways jet.  Somewhere around 3AM....this automated voice came on and say something to the effect....'crap, we are about to ditch the plane in the water....hold tight'.  I admit, it probably was a bit more British and official....but it basically awoke everyone on the plane, and they went into a huge panic within seconds.  It was bogus, and the airline is trying to figure out the cause (probably some Microsoft glitch).  Passengers were peeved, and holding the folks responsible.  They want some kind of compensation for almost crapping in their pants.  The sad thing here is that most of the British guys were probably wasted and didn't even realize a message had been played.  Probably half of the British women onboard were also 'toasted', and didn't realize anything until hours later when they landed.  Not to slam the Brits too much.....but few would ever waste a chance on board a plane....not to be fairly drunk.

There's this odd story out of Iraq.  The Iraqis are wanting back a piece of a Saddam statue that was torn down at the beginning of the invasion of Iraq, when everyone got all peppy and tied up dump trucks to Saddam statues and were yanking them down left and right.  Somewhere in the midst of this mess...some British solder got the "butt" of a Saddam statue, and hauled it later back to the UK, where he made it into some artistic deal.  He felt he'd make money off Saddam's butt.....but never has.  Meanwhile, word got back to Iraq, and frankly.....they want Saddam's butt back.  You can imagine the British authorities reviewing this case. Some British lawyer is asking stupid questions, and some foreign office dimwit is talking about the respect you owe Saddam's butt.  It's like one of those Monty Python episodes, if you ask me.  And I wouldn't ship it back to Iraq.  I'd probably take over one of the Queen's private gardens and bury six feet under some weeds.

Finally, up in LeRoy High School, of New York state (north of New York City, but south of Rochester), there's this group of girl students at the local school.....who all show symptoms similar to Tourette's Syndrome.  This all involves body movements, tic's, and verbal responses that are typically not what you'd utter in front of Grandma (damn, f***, s***, etc).  The school is a bit disturbed by this.....it's more than one or two (maybe going up to a dozen young ladies).  So far, no guys are involved.  I read through five different articles.  Basically.....I think the whole thing is bogus and the girls are just playing everyone for a fool.  Statistically, you can't have a cluster of say twelve young teenage girls suddenly appearing within a six-month period with Tourett's symptoms, all in the same school.  To accomplish this....they'd all need to do some type of drug that triggers such an event.....either legal or illegal.  So I'm sorry girls.....but I just won't buy it.....I think the act is bogus.  This reminds of a SouthPark episode, for some odd reason.  Right now.....parents from the local area are demanding answers, and it looks like the county and state health folks are descending down on the mess.  Looks like a $250k study needs to be conducted....if you ask me.  I can say this though....if it is a drug....it'll run across the US in a matter of months, and every single kid will want to have it.....to mimic Tourette's Syndrome.  Schools will go into a panic mode as millions of kids utter four-letter words on a hourly basis.  Maybe the Russians are behind this (something Ron Paul would suggest).  

My Neighborhood

We've had several curious episodes in my neighborhood.

First, the Occupy dudes were supposed to have a big huge converging of members up on capital hill yesterday.  Originally, there were supposed to be almost a million coming to DC.  Then the permit for the march and protest....said 10k would be showing up.  So yesterday, there simply were 'hundreds' that showed up to converge on Congress.  It is the middle of January....although yesterday's weather was mild for January.  If they had aimed for a Saturday episode....then the Occupy leadership could have bused in forty thousand folks from the six-state region around DC, but Congress wouldn't have been open on Saturday to greet them.  Maybe we need some kind of rule requiring Congressmen to work an occasional Saturday....so more protesters could protest against them.....just to be fair.

Second, DC passed a funny 'rat' bill a few months ago.  It basically said, if you as a professional rat-catcher...come to acquire a rat or two, then you are required to remove them from the District and transport them to a suitable wildlife area.  Course, there are no wildlife areas in DC (it's hard to squeeze something like that into a six by six mile area).  So naturally, this brings up the hostile feelings of the Virginia Attorney General, who has finally realized that the DC professionals are driving across the river and dumping rats off into Virginia wooded lands.  He says the rats need to be put down where they are caught.....pure and simple.  I'm guessing he might try to introduce a bill into Virginia's legislature that requires the importation of rats into Virginia to require a license, and $10 fee.  If caught dumping DC rats....then maybe a $10k fine would be appropriate.  It's sad that government activities have come to the point where they tell you when and where you can kill a rat (which is never), and some other political figure wants to stop you from dumping on their soil.

Third, some Occupy folks tossed a smoke bomb or two over the fence toward the White House.  Naturally, this was timed so that the First Couple were out of the house.....partying it up for the wife's birthday.  Secret Service folks got all peppy, and about half of the eight hundred folks at the back-gate suddenly disappeared when the smoke bombs got tossed over.  Based on the President being out of the White House at the time....my humble guess is that this was mostly scripted.

Fourth, that idiot who fired a couple of rounds at the White House with his AK-47 back in November and got caught?  Well....the feds finally came up and decided that they will try him for at least seventeen charges.  Frankly....unless he can convince folks he is crazy....he's looking for a minimum of fifty years in prison.  So far, he's been acting fairly nuts, but no mental health professional will declare him insane.  I'm guessing he's got an uphill battle here and might ought to think about admitting to a couple of charges and hoping for a deal for twenty-five years in prison.

Fifth and final, the DC city council is moving closer to the mary-j-u-wanna situation.  This week, the council approved a bill which would limit the number of cultivation centers and sales centers in each district.  Some residents of DC....especially from northeast and southeast....suddenly came to realize that they might end up with a hundred cultivation centers and probably just as many sales shops.  You can imagine vast stretches of neighborhood....being just dope sales points.  So you are now limited to five cultivation 'farms' and one sales shop in a district.  This is all for medical marijuana, not to confuse with real marijuana (each plastic baggy will be stamped, so that makes it official).

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Simply Observations

After watching the news all weekend over the Italian cruise ship business....I'm kinda amazed that folks seem shocked that such a event can occur.  At some point in a interview....some Americans were shocked that none of the Italian cruise liner workers spoke English.  Some advice for folks who dream of a cruise but have never been on one: boats can sink, and unless you board a cruise ship in Baltimore or Miami....don't expect a bunch of cruise ship employees to speak English.  This kinda reminds of the guy I worked with, whose wife demanded a vacation to Peru.  They went off to Peru, and the wife got all sick off food poisoning, and spent most of the two weeks in some hotel room trying to recover.  People just don't grasp all the dangers in traveling in strange environments.  Stick to Route 66, and Motel 6.

In Arlington over the weekend....we had an unusual event with METRO.  Some fire started in the tunnel between the Pentagon and Pentagon City.  The METRO guys say it was just a debris-type fire.....nothing special.  How it started?  Well....they won't say that part.  There is high voltage that runs through all the tunnels but that typically wouldn't start a fire.  The shocking thing is that the fire was noted at 5PM exactly, put out around 5:10, and regular service started back up by 5:13.  That's the first emergency I've seen in two years where it didn't take two hours to get things back into operation.

Finally, the Wikipedia folks claim that they will shut down their site tomorrow (Wed) for 24 hours....fussing over a bill in congress that would disturb their general operations.    This protest might upset a couple of thousand folks, but I doubt if anyone notices the shutdown.  We did pretty well without Wiki for two hundred years.....twenty-four hours wouldn't amount to much, if you ask me.

The Problem with Dopers

This is what we know....compliments of the Northwest Florida Daily News....cops from the Okaloosa County Sheriff's office get a call to come out to a house.  They arrive.  Here's a gentleman who is laying on the floor.  This guy is the son of the home owner.  He is kinda throwing himself around on the floor, and talking about Governor Mike Huckabee (our Fox guy, former Arkansas Governor, and 2008 Presidential contender), Jesus and people were full of ****.  The cops didn't detail out the **** because this is Florida and folks don't generally cuss in public.

The cops finally make a decision after talking to him....enough is enough....and arrested him for felony battery and felony resisting arrest.  If you notice the word 'felony' twice, that generally will get you more than sixty days in jail.  The cops say that he was using bath salts....thus was all doped up.

The amusing part to this story is that the guy let the cops know that he seriously wanted to talk to Governor Huckabee, then turned around to talk to an invisible "friend" who turned out to be Jesus.

I pondered on this.  Back a hundred years ago, if folks had come upon someone who was speaking with Jesus....they'd listen to the guy for a day or two, and giving him a chance to explain things.  This is mostly because they didn't have any real drugs, and alcohol didn't cause you to run around talking to invisible folks.  Since the arrival of various drugs today.....it doesn't take much for folks to determine you are nuts and have you hauled off.

What I always find curious about these folks.....they always pick Jesus.  I'd be picking Churchill, Davy Crockett, Thomas Jefferson, or Steinbeck.  I would imagine out of a thousand people who dope up and talk to invisible folks...almost all talk to Jesus.  They won't talk to Moses, or Luke, or Samson.

My guess is that the worst thing you could ever do....is get doped up on something, and leave the TV channel on some religious channel for six hours.  It probably messes up your mind eternally, and it's like some kind of brain-washing session.

As for this guy from Florida?  Well.....he'll eventually wake up and ask what happened.  It'll be explained by some Sheriff's guard at the jail named Jimmy.   This guy will be amazed at the stuff he did and not remember anything.  The guard Jimmy?  He will be asking if the guy feels closer to Jesus and probably hand him a pamphlet from the local Baptist church.  Two weeks later and out of jail on bail....the guy joins up with the church...shows everyone how to bath salts, and suddenly you've got three hundred folks talking to Jesus on a daily basis.  It could happen.....you know.

Only in America.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

The Sincerity of a Tear or Two

There are stories out of Asia this weekend that North Korea has gone onto a new type disciplinary situation.  A number of folks complained that their co-workers, neighbors, or associates just weren't showing sincere sadness or despair upon the death of their beloved dicator....Kim Jong Il.

So, there is evidence that the government is handing there labor-training camp sentences to folks who are accused of such a 'crime'.

The deal is that you should have been going to organized weeping events after the death, or that you didn't show real crying, or that you just weren't genuinely upset by his death.  Every company had organized weepings.  Every neighborhood had meetings where you could throw yourself on the floor.  Every office had meetings where you could act all upset for hours at a time.

Sadly, for a stoic type character (John Wayne, Gary Cooper, etc).....who'd just raise a whiskey glass and utter some Irish death poem....with just a faint tear in one eye....that wouldn't have been enough.  You needed to act emotional so that people felt you were convincing in your grief.

I sat and watched around three minutes on the German news with women throwing themselves down on the ground, and men holding each other while they wept tears for the camera crew.

The sad thing is that if you are sentenced here....then you get sent off for six months of training, enjoy a three-quarter rationed meal each day, and have to memorize all these Communist sayings to make folks think you are a serious Communist.  I'm also guessing that you need to weep a good bit and pretend you really are grieving....six months after his death....over the dictator dying.

The sad thing here is that there are twenty-four million folks in North Korea.  To be kinda honest....less than 10k have ever personally met and shaken the 'fragile' hand of Kim Jong Il.  Maybe another six million have seen him at parades.  The vast majority (my humble opinion) probably never met the guy except for pictures at the manager's office at the pig farm, the public school they attended until age 15, or at the local village doctor's office where some color picture was hung.  I'd even be guessing that less than forty people really knew Kim Jong Il in a personal way....and they might have been the only folks who really did shed sincere tears.

Kind of a sad way to end the final chapter on the life of Kim Jong Il.....if you didn't weep enough....you get sent off to some prison-camp.  Most North Koreans would have been in utter shock over what transpired with Princess Di's death and funeral....if they'd witnessed that whole episode.  Those were all real tears....and nobody had to suggest a prison-camp deal for the fakers.

Simply Observations

Not that I really care, but about four years ago....the Larry King Show on CNN started to dwindle in numbers.  I hadn't watched Larry King for at least eight years, so I didn't care.  About a year ago....CNN finally hinted to Larry that he ought to retire, and he did.  So here came this British guy, Piers Morgan.  I watched twenty minutes of his show one night....and then I gave up on him.  The CNN numbers for Pier's show?  Almost at the same level that Larry King had when he stepped down.  A full year, and no advancement on the spiraling numbers.  This week, Piers came out and said the second year would be different.  He was going to have more fun and actually be more opinionated, thus bringing on fantastic new viewers in 2012.  My humble opinion is that Piers can linger at the dismal side of viewership for the rest of this year and maybe next....because there's no one ready to step in and fix their problems.  If he thinks being heavily opinionated helps....go for it.  Larry King was never that type of guy and it's the kind of act that would turn off most folks.

This credit ratings episode in Europe on Friday?  Well....it carved up a number of countries and made them all appear weaker.  Naturally, it was done late in the day....so the Euro rate wasn't affected yet by it.  Come Monday....The Euro rate will likely go up several cents to the dollar.  We are slowly edging the Euro from it expensive point of 62 Euros to 100 Dollars (2008 rate), to where it stands today, 76 Euros to 100 Dollars.  My humble guess is that in a month or two....it's going to be near 82 Euros to 100 Dollars.  The truth is that most European countries are only a step behind the US in dismal economics.  Greece may be six steps ahead of the US, and California by itself might be a step ahead of the US as a whole.....but life goes on.  A bunch of fancy analysts will waste time on Monday explaining why France is screwed up, and 40k Americans will wonder where France is.....while asking Johnny Junior to find it for them on the map.

There is this publication called Education Week.....which naturally speaks out on education.   They came out this week and assessed states and the nation.  Bama ended up with a "C", while the US itself ended up with a "C-minus".  The factors in such an assessment?  Well....somehow they measure the chance of success, which is odd factor and kind of debatable in Bama.  Then they measured K-12 achievements, testing, the teaching profession and school finance.  If Bama paid teachers more and spent billions on school infrastructure....they might have gotten a "A-minus", although this is all some game with words and the factors.  This all brings us back to "chance of success".  I went to school with folks who ended up as truck drivers, gas station managers, and farmers.  Frankly, they don't give a damn about success.....it's more about happiness in life, and most are fairly happy living in the town where they grew up, making $30k a year, driving a 12-year old Ford F-150, watching high school football on a Friday night, and helping their cousin Claude dig up a septic tank.  I would probably give Education Week a "F-plus" (if there was such a grade), because they may have written up qualifying rules that really don't mean much....later in life.  The sad thing is that some idiot will appear in the Montgomery legislature and quote Education Week like it was some piece out of the Bible, and then beg them to tax the state more so that teachers would have bigger salaries, and thus move up to a "B-plus" on Education Week's listing.

This is all stuff that I can't make up.  

My Neighborhood

The local paper (the Examiner) did up an article on DC's local government.....involved in a dramatic roadtrip to talk up statehood for the District.  The plan by the city council?  Travel in 2012 to all fifty states.

You can imagine this boondoggle episode by the mayor and his buddies on the city council.  They travel into your state.....sit down with a couple of Democrats at some capital luncheon.  They talk up how they'd like to be a state, and everybody hugs each other.  They might get the Channel Nine news team from Salt Lake City to interview the mayor....with folks in Salt Lake wondering why some idiot would travel to Salt Lake City to talk about some impossible dream over becoming an actual state.

The way that they talk this traveling business....each member will pay his own costs from his $19k office supply budget.  The curious thing is that if you don't spend the money at the end of the year....it drops back into the general fund bucket.

So it's a curious story.  A dozen odd political players from DC.....trying to travel cheaply around America.  Their little speech is mostly bogus and not worth listening to.  The folks from the state they are visiting....they try to be friendly, but there just isn't much interest in giving two senators to some area that's the size of Austin or Huntsville.  So they sip booze and talk up the choice of lusty ladies, then go sit in the hotel bar for four hours before leaving at 5AM to meet the $99 cheapo flight back to DC.

My suggestion?  Take the cash and rent one Greyhound bus.  Then get yourself a "Juan" driver, $800 of cheap beer, and just run around the country in three weeks.  Try to sleep at the Motel Six for the most part....share rooms....and buy cheapo Captain Hook fish meals.  After you get back.....talk big about the ten thousand folks you met....including a bunch of folks at welcome centers across the nation, and how everyone felt Washington DC ought to be a state.

Sorry, but I can't make this kind of stuff up......a bunch of guys just taking city money to travel around and meet other idiot political folks and lusty women.  Man, it just doesn't get better than this in DC.  

Friday, 13 January 2012

Simply Observations

Natalee Holloway, our Bama gal who disappeared in Aruba....was finally declared dead yesterday.  It took over six years, but her father finally said enough.....and figured there just wasn't going to be another outcome to this story.  I can imagine the situation and it's really something you'd not wish on anyone.  You can't really have closure on this deal....no matter how you play the cards.  From the very beginning....I didn't have any optimistic thoughts on this.  Aruba isn't the perfect little island getaway that most folks think of.  There's lots of drugs and booze, and you can end in the company of various bad characters.  It is a sad deal for Bama, and for the Holloway family.

I sat and watched over this pardon episode with the Governor of Mississippi....Haley Barbour.  My impression is that almost no one in the Governor's office did any real research, and there had to be some kind of stupidity issue tied into this mess.   For this reason, I'd like to suggest that no Governor or President ought to be given full pardon power.  They ought to be able to recommend a guy for a pardon, to a three-man group who would meet three months later to read over the situations and if the majority of the three men agree....then it's a done deal.  Barbour, in my humble opinion, is an idiot and probably did a fair amount of damage to his reputation as he wrapped up his final week in the Governor's job.

Finally, some Amish guys up in Kentucky....have stood up and said that they have some religious conflicts with those red triangles that you have to hang off your buggy (by state law).  Most Amish....99 percent of them, have no issue and readily obey various states which require this.  Apparently, this 'sect' of Amish, thought that the red color was too flashy and conflicted with God.  I sat and pondered over this....God did make the rainbow, redwood trees, and the color red.  It's hard for me to see how red is some flashy color and conflicts with God.  On the other side of the coin, I'm of a religious sect that has problems with small cars, and believe that they are the work of the devil.   I know some other folks who believe that God personally engineered and built the Ford F-150, and have driven one such vehicle for the past twenty years of their life and cannot imagine a day without God's handiwork.  Once you start inflicting God onto vehicles, tags, or road safety....you've probably attended one too many church meetings and need to go spend three weeks in New Orleans....to cleanse your spirit.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Simply Observations

Here in the northeast, we have this odd story.  Virginia college kid....goes to New York City for Christmas holidays....disappears on 30 December in the Big Apple....hasn't been seen since.  His family back in Virginia and his buddies at Virginia Commonwealth University....are all in a panic mood.  The kid, Ian Burnet, has been gone two weeks now.  The folks he was visiting with?  Well....they saw him on the 30th....and then the kid left his cellphone there in the apartment....walking out to check out the city.  I looked at the address they gave for the apartment....139th Street and Riverside Drive.  It's about three minutes walking from the harbor.  I'd hate to suggest it, but I would suspect the kid probably walked over....met up with weird character....got robbed.....and got tossed into the harbor.  This being December....he had about sixty seconds of survival time, and then went under.

"I promise you, change will come."   This is a quote from yesterday and President Obama.  Personally, I would have avoided making a comment like this, but you get all charged on the campaign trail and say silly things occasionally.  Maybe change will eventually come....2015, maybe 2016.....or maybe into 2017 when the next guy comes along.  Who knows?

I went to the doc yesterday.  The last time I went over was in October.  I walked in the front door, and came to be surprised that his staff of five folks had completely turned over in less than 100 days.  I made some comment to the front-desk gal and she had this comeback....like a quote that she'd been told to offer...."some people had left".  Then she wanted me to know that my insurance company hadn't paid for October's episode, and the doc wouldn't see me unless I paid now....$214.  I was kinda aggravated by this.  I knew nothing had come from my health insurance company, so obviously....the doc's folks had never submitted the bill like they were supposed to.  So I said fine....give me a receipt.  Well....they had a printer problem....it'd be tomorrow.  So I responded....fine....send me a PDF to my email account.  Then she looked at me oddly and said that they didn't have scan capability, and they didn't have internet in the office.   So the best I could get was a fax....the next day.  Something just doesn't add up here.  I'm used to German doctors rushing into an office....asking five questions....signing some form, and moving onto the next patient.  This guy barely does five patients an hour, and I doubt that he's clearing that much money.  If I were picking a business that might go bankrupt....his operation would be at the top.

Finally, here in DC....the folks are busy trying to write up a gay divorce law.  You see....they got all pumped up and passed a gay marriage law last year....but never thought for a minute about how you'd divorce your new spouse.  So they've had to become a bit creative because folks offer up some evidence that they reside in Washington to get gay-married.  Well....folks move around and there's all kinds of problems because forty-odd states don't and won't carry a gay divorce clause.  The idea is that as long as one spouse claims Washington as a living location.....they can use this discussed gay-divorce deal.  The humorous side to this is that they rushed in to create gay marriage but never created an escape situation.

Only in America.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Between a Rock and Virginia

We have a funny rule in Virginia....that if you want to run in a Presidential primary....you have to come up with 11k folks signing a petition in the state.  Oh, and from the 11k, you have to have 400 folks as a minimum from each voting district.  Don't ask me why....it's the Virginia way though.

So, this major problem has occurred, which affects me greatly.  Apparently....only Ron Paul and the Mitt...were able to get their petitions into the systems and stamped ok.  The Rick duo?  Nope.  Newt?  Nope.  And that Huntsman guy?  Nope.

I'm in a major state of pondering.  Two choices....from one far extreme to the other extreme.  To be honest, I just can't vote for Mitt, under much of any circumstances.  And I really can't find logic to vote for Ron Paul. So I have to think of this problem as to who I will vote against (the worser of evils).  And the answer?

Yes, I'm voting for Ron Paul in the Virginia primary.  There is only the logical reason of voting against Mitt Romney.

I'm guessing across the state now....that over half of Republican voters are stuck in this silly mental state.  They wanted the other choices, but faced with this situation....they will vote for Ron Paul.

Here's the sad thing.  A dozen major dimwits will appear that night on TV and analyze the number and try to explain to America why Ron Paul won the Virginia primary.  It will be bogus reasons across the board.  Most of America will believe we are nuts, and simply unable to come to a rational candidate.  We Virginians will be labeled in various ways....sadly....because four other guys couldn't find 11k voters to sign a petition in their name, or they thought they were paying the right university kid to do all of this....and simply lost track of things.

So Ron Paul wins in Virginia and represents this shocker across America.  The truth?  Some old Republican guys decided to rig up the rules to have a shocker of an election, and draw attention to the state.  Nothing more.

My vote?  Totally wasted, but maybe it pushes Ron Paul up over the edge and facing President Obama.  There's no telling what happens at that point.

Monday, 9 January 2012

The Reality of Saving Folks

Last year, we had a banner year for suicides on the DC METRO system.  We had nine folks attempting it and seven successful.  They all want to jump in front of the train at the last second (forget the bus system....no one ever wants a bus ending).  Last week....going into 2012, we had two episodes.  So the pressure got turned onto METRO for 2011.....they were told to do something.  You can imagine management folks meeting and just groping anything to make the public happy.

So they said for 2011, that they'd train all of the 960 station managers and train engineers....but so far....they've only gotten to 180 folks.  They are supposedly trained to "spot" suicidal riders.  I sat and pondered over this.

The train engineers all sit in the cab....toward the front of the train.  As they pull into the station....they might have two seconds of advance thinking or vision to grasp if some idiot is a jumper.  The station manager?  Well....they all tend to sit in their little cubicle shack, and they might walk around one hour out of the eight that they stand on duty.  This $250k that they spent on this training program....was probably totally wasted.

The METRO folks also talked about this sign posting deal....where you'd have this 1-800 number to call and identify some guy looking "freaky".  I sat there thinking over this.  By the time you dial the number and mention the location....it's likely to be already too late.

The truth of the matter is that a suicidal person who wants a METRO ending....wants someone to help them with what they can't do.  The odds of someone stopping the guy?  I'd say less than one percent.  But the public wants to put pressure on the METRO management.....you have to do something, even if it's all fake and doesn't really change the outcome.  So thousands more will be spent in various training seminars and signs....and we simply have to accept that part of the deal.

Math and History Issues

So, this is what we know.  A couple of teachers at the Beaver Ridge Elementary School in Norcross, Georgia....decided to combine math and history into the same topic area.

They wrote a math quiz....which this is an example of their test: "Each tree had 56 oranges. If eight slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?"  Naturally, you'd sit there a moment as an adult....thinking over this....a slave involved in a math question?

Parents got ahold of this test, and went into a fury about the quiz questions involving slavery and beatings.

Based on comments by the school leadership, they did their best to defend the teachers but you get the impression that they also probably told them never to combine history and math ever again.  Course, you might see a couple of science and English literature questions, or some health and PE questions....but that's ok.  Mixing history with any other topic just confuses kids....if you ask me.

I always hated wordy math questions because it simply wasn't clear about what was important.  You'd have some joker of a teacher who'd write a fancy quiz question like: If Joe bought sixteen cases of Pabst, twelve cases of Budweiser, and one case of Pepsi.....paying $104 for the whole purchase....how much did each case of beer cost?  The answer is.....if you didn't say the price of each individual soda or beer, then you can't calculate the number.  Course, a 12-year old kid would still try to come up with an answer....without knowing all the information.

As for the slavery quiz question?  For the life of me....I can't figure out how this would teach you much about history.  Picking and selling oranges wasn't a commercial operation until 1900's....so you wouldn't have found any slaves in Florida doing such a thing.  Course, you can't explain that to a math teacher because they never took any history classes.  From a business standpoint....the idea of having eight guys standing around one tree to pick....doesn't make any sense either....with it being like having three guys changing a light-bulb or two guys changing your oil in the pick-up.

My guess is that a bunch of school teachers will awaken from a slumber and try to combine classes in the future.  The questions will be like.....if Randy was running away from a T-Rex, and the T-Rex could run eight miles per hour....how many seconds of survival does Randy have?  Or, if Wanda was mixing meth as a business and making $32 an hour for her work....how long would it take for her to accumulate a million bucks?  Or, if Dale was married six times, and paying alimony to five wives...amounting to $666 per ex-wife, then how much money would Dale have left from his $5k a month salary at the Piggly Wiggly?

Only in America.

Just Observations

There were two Republican forums this weekend.  The Sunday morning deal ran pretty good and I gave it four stars.  The Saturday evening deal?  Well....it was run by George Stephanopoulos, and he pretty much made himself as foolish as possible.  Several of the questions ended up being pointed enough that you knew some Democrat wrote the question for George, and he didn't read or grasp what he was asking.  I thought the guys on the stage carried themselves well enough....even Rick Perry, through these comical "George" questions.  Bottom line?  I wouldn't expect George to be invited back again for any such debate.

Yesterday, Sunday, I sat and watched about twenty minutes of this 'remember Tucson' episode, where Congressman Gifford was shot a year ago.  Big media ceremony...although I don't think that many folks from Tucson were involved in the deal.  Not to really blow a hole in this media deal....but no one sits around and remembers the first of these big massacres in the US (18 July 1984, the McDonald's in the San Ysidro, California).  Twenty-two people died in that episode.....counting the shooter himself, and nineteen more were injured.  The shooter, James Huberty, was a nut.....just like the Tucson kid.  Jame Huberty should have been arrested weeks and months prior to the event....just like the Tucson kid, but never was.  Media attention from the McDonalds massacre?  None.....no cameras stand around on 18 July and no one ever remembers that occasion.

Yes, the Denver Broncos did win another overtime game yesterday....with the amazing Tim Tebow.   I rarely get into this football stuff, although I have to admit that I intentionally watch the Broncos now because of the Tebow-fever.  If they have to win, Tebow delivers.....at least you would like to believe that. Assistance from the almighty?  Well.....it's hard not to believe that, but then if you were a Packers fan, you'd believe that Vince Lombardi is working is magic straight from heaven and might know more strategy than God himself.  Just a humble opinion on that.

Finally, there are about a million Bama folks who are living and breathing on this upcoming LSU-Bama championship game.  They'd like to engage in conversation....at the local store, at church, at the county CO-OP, at the local Catfish Cabin, and at the Piggly Wiggly.  Last year was Auburn's opportunity, and this year ought to be Bama's opportunity.  I would imagine that at least another million Bama folks are fed up with the hype and the whole NCAA football thing....and secretly would like LSU to win.  That's the problem in living in a die-hard football state....you kinda stretch things to the extreme.  The worst possible thing you could do on Monday night....is call up your Bama neighbor eight minutes into the start of the game and insist on talking about hunting, or your's aunt's health, or church business, or ask about the best weed killer options.  It might upset them greatly as you take away the thrill of the game.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Back in Bama

Back in my home state of Bama, there is a discussion going on in the capital for 2012....over school books.  There's this idea of moving over to each kid in Bama having an electronic tablet of sorts, and all school text books being issued digitally to each kid.  The state is estimating this shift to cost in the range of $800 million....which is a heck of a lot of money.

The experts say that the current pricing of text books is about $90 each....which makes it pretty difficult to buy new books on a regular schedule.

The problems with a e-book situation?  Well.....you can figure that it'd cost $200 for each kid to get his e-book and at least ten percent would damage their e-book each and every year.  Most parents would have issues over this replacement situation and some probably would not be able to readily pay for such a replacement.

In the 1970s when I attended school....we still had some books dating back to the late-1950s (our English Literature book for example).  I can remember one science-related class where the teacher had to correct the material written into the text book because over a period of eight years....the text book had outdated information in it.

This e-book episode sounds kind of interesting but I just can't see kids being able to make this work.  There's always the batter-charge episode.....where the kid might show up for a class and his e-book is 'dead'.....so he just smiles at the teacher because he can't recite some Shakespeare line from his e-book.  Or you might have some young gal who figures out how to add more books to the e-book, and is sitting in a math class and reading some French novel.

My guess is that the political folks will talk on the subject and eventually just give up.  Real books will stay on for a while in Bama (maybe for forty more years).  Heck, my old 1958 English Literature book might still be in use for all I know.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

When Dinosaurs Fade

I read alot of business news....and this week, there was this brief article over the spiraling Sears operation.  Some business folks are thinking that Sears just might go under this year....or possibly be bought out.  They haven't been able to get the market-share to survive.

I kind of grew up with Sears.  As a kid, it was the one of the only two major shops in the local town where I grew up....until around age eight, then K-Mart arrived.  The local Sears building wasn't that big.  You could walk the entire building in about three minutes (at a good pace).  I doubt that they had more than a hundred and fifty parking spots in the car-lot.  You typically went there strictly for tools, clothing and Christmas tools.  That was about it.

After K-Mart arrived....my folks tended tended to give them seventy-five percent of the business.  The local Sears operation survived until the big Mall came in the early 80's, and then Sears shifted over to it.  The old Sears store?  Well....the last time I went through town....it was still there.

In the two years I've been living in Arlington....I've been in the Sears shop once.  I wanted some men's pants, and what I found was reasonable dress pants for a fairly cheap price, but they weren't anywhere near the quality I was expecting.

I suspect that Sears will be bought off and turned strictly into a clothing and tool operation....no household appliances or such.  They might mess with the name a bit.  They might totally redesign the buildings to look different.

The sad thing here is that some smart business guys screwed up over the past decade, and made Sears into something that just didn't attract folks.  And they could have done better but they never understood the brand name.  We end up with an dinosaur of sorts.

Normal Living?

So by now, you've watched this news piece where last year.....some fourteen year old Texas girl was apprehend by the cops....told them in plain English that she was from Columbia....in the US illegally, and went to the immigration folks....to be deported.  She was flown down to Columbia, where she told them....in plain English....that she was twenty-something...from Columbia originally, and she was given all the necessary ID necessary to assimilate back into Columbia society.  She was for all practical purposes....a Colombian citizen.  The silly thing is that she didn't speak Spanish, and somehow, this all made sense even to the Columbia cops.  Somehow, her parents track her down, and yesterday....she gets flown back into the US.

Personally, there are some bits to this story which don't ring true.

The cops and immigration control in the US (our Home Security folks)....never sat and thought about the fact that the punk kid didn't speak any Spanish at all.  This kinda bothers me.  You'd think that some idiot would have stood there and asked her to say a few words in Spanish....just to feel secure that she was a foreigner.

The other part to this story is that it took a bit of detective work to make this discovery occur.  The gal could have spent the rest of her life in Columbia.

A nut case?  Well.....I can't think of too many folks who would dream up some escape like this.  Typically.....if you really wanted to escape from your folk's house.....you'd jump on a Trailways bus and run off to Vegas or Chicago.  The worst case scenario would have been to get some local truck driver to just dump you off in Idaho and get a job with some Boise Shoney's Big Boy by convincing them you were eighteen.  

At age sixteen, Kit Carson had decided that normal life just wasn't enough for him....and ended up with a group who headed out to Santa Fe, and just plain never went back to any sort of standardized lifestyle.  I can understand this desire.  But to pick Columbia?

So, here is my bet.  This gal stays six to twelve months with her family, and leaves again.  I don't think she will accept anything relating to normal living.  She might not wander off to Columbia again, but she probably won't be staying around too long.  Just my bet.

Our Occupy Folks

The Occupy folks in DC have gone into a new strategy of sorts.  You have to remember...there are two Occupys in DC.  Occupy One....the 1960's hippy generation group, which is made of more mature adults and a bit more tidy than Occupy Two (the 20-year old punk group)....has finally decided that winter is too much.

Occupy One is moving to a indoor situation for the winter.  Thanks to some local supporter with access to housing support....the folks are sleeping well at night, in a heated house.  They might still be in a sleeping bag situation, but they won't freeze to death.  Occupy One has also decided to go on public access TV and get their message out.  This means that the local cable guys are giving them an hour or two to publicize their message.

The Occupy Two folks?  Well....the young guns are going to make the best out of the winter situation and continue on with their rat friends.  Well....yeah, the city health folks are a bit worried now about the rats over in McPherson Square.  The locals are getting worried about the growth of the rat population and I suspect that something significant has to happen in the next month to fix the rat issue.  Letting loose sixty cats might help but then they'd mingle and suddenly you'd have two thousand cats roaming the President's neighborhood at night.

I sat and pondered over the mess.  Personally, you couldn't pay me enough to camp out in the midst of January for weeks and weeks at a time.  No easy toilet situation.  No heated area.  Food out of a can or just plain sandwiches.  All of this....just to look good on camera for some Japanese news crew or the Today Show?

What happens after early November and the election?  Well....I'm not sure that the folks will leave.  They might get used to sleeping outside and mingling with Washington DC folks on the street.  They might just become permanent street folks....like the other permanent homeless folks.  The truth is that nothing much changes with the election, and that might just confuse them enough to just make this a lifestyle thing....and doing it for the rest of their lives. Kinda sad, if you think about this possibility....wasted lives on the streets of DC.