Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Simply Observations

The Army came out yesterday....discussing their new strategy of chow-halls.  Basically, anything that was bad to eat....gets a little sign above it....a warning label.  Yes, those bad deserts, the bad fried foods, the bad sodas, etc.  Using this logic, all issued rifles to Army personnel should have a label on the ammo clips that comment on the potential to cause harm.  Hand-grenades?  Well....yeah....they ought to have a warning label too.  Eventually, some Army guy would have a label facing each toilet-sitting soldier, to sit properly and avoid falling off the toilet seat.

Up in Detroit a few days ago....some older gentleman had finished up Bible study class one morning and stopped for gas in the city.  A guy comes up....tosses the older gentleman to the ground....breaking his leg, and then steals his car.  The old guy crawls around to the entrance of the gas station, but no one much offered any help.  It was the second car he'd had stolen in the past couple of years.  The end result from the city council?  Well....they are talking about forcing all gas stations within the city limits of Detroit to have private security on the grounds.  You can imagine this have to have five guards hired cover around-the-clock gas operations....twenty-four hours a days a week.  You can tag another 40 cents (my humble figure) onto each gallon of gas.....just to pay for the security involved.  Then you have to trust the Barney-wannabes in not shooting you the customer or firing rounds into the gas pump and creating a fire.  The sad thing is that you'd create this mentality of driving outside of the city limits....just to buy cheap gas, from a unprotected gas station.

The Ohio school shooting.  If you look across the various writings about this sad event.....this was a special school that you sent all the problem kids in the whole district.  Most folks with common sense would eventually ask a stupid question over this....if you weren't tossing fuel on a lighted fire.  If you took 500 kids from the district....with each displaying some aggressive or hostile attitudes....what exactly would you get positive out of this, except relieving the other schools of their issues?  Someone is going to ask stupid questions over this, and I suspect that the school will be shut down within two years.

The House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee had this witness come up yesterday from the Georgetown law school (from our local university).  Ms Sandra Fluke was both a student and “reproductive rights activist” (whatever that means).  What she eventually came to say was that young ladies at Georgetown struggled because student health insurance was not going to cover they needed the US government to pay for this (meaning a free deal).  The numbers?  She says around forty percent of the Georgetown University are in this situation.  These are young ladies....spending pleasure hours with various local gentleman while studying law. According to her numbers.....a gal would need $3k to cover the three years at the law school.  I paused over this commentary.  I went's $59k a year for tuition, room, board, and books.  Toss in pocket money, gas, and car can figure it's around $72k minimum a year involved in attending Georgetown.  And the best that Ms Fluke can worry about $1k a year in birth control?  Not a word about the $1,270 for books?  Not a word about the $13,543 for room and board?  If you worry about $1k a year at this expensive should have stayed in Tulsa and attended the University of Oklahoma.  The more folks talk about getting something for free....the more stupid they start to appear.

The Gitmo folks proudly opened up a $750k soccer field complex for the jihad guys.  It's all fenced in and arranged in a fashion so everyone feels secure.  I pondered over the deal.  Obviously, whatever was promised back three years ago with the President is pretty much forgotten, and the upset Europeans have forgotten as well.  As for Jihad Joe and his's probably the first real indication that you might want to read up on soccer rules and plan a long-term league.  You can imagine the schedule....the Mullahs versus the Afghanistan Real (pronounced re-al) on Friday afternoon, with the Asian Yellow squad fighting the Iraqi Jihad guys at 6PM.  A league commissioner will eventually be appointed.  Umpires will be selected and appointed.  Eventually, a trade policy will be started where a guy can move from league to league, team to team.  And sometime in the spring....a world series of sort, will occur.  Eventually, someone will sue to allow cameras and this will be beamed across the global....a bunch of 1-star level jihad guys.....playing soccer because there is nothing much else to do.

Finally, in New Orleans, during the Mardi Gras episode.....some local church got up the idea of buying water in bulk....labeling the bottle with info about their church.....and giving it away freely to folks who got dehydrated on the street.  There was a problem. The cops came, announcing a illegal activity.  You see....there is this law, which requires folks giving out out or selling goods....have to have a occupational license ($$$$).  And you have to register for a sales tax, even if you are doing this for free, so that was illegal too.  The church folks thought this was bogus, but they then came to realize the cops weren't joking.  No free water for the public.  So the church handed the water over to a rehab center....which was apparently legal.  The city council folks haven't said much since this episode, and if you ask's sort of embarrassing to admit that you have a stupid rule like this.  Makes you wonder how they ever allowed FEMA to help anyone in the city after the hurricane.   Course, maybe FEMA gave them a cut of the profits.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The Over-Time

The DC public school system came around to admit that they'd paid $2.2 million in overtime for the past financial year.  It was a curious thing....they actually listed names, hours, and the amount of money to each guy or gal.

So they listed these custodian folks....who were getting some fairly average paychecks, and the amount of hours they did extra.

I looked over this list.  Dave, foreman of some custodians, gets around $56k a year for his salary.  Well....with over-time, he picked up another $37k extra.  But here's the thing....he had to work 985 hours to get that.  That's almost twenty extra hours a week.  So you can figure.....12-hour days, Monday through Friday, fifty-two weeks out of the year.

Richie the gardener?  He was pulling in around $50k a year, and made $28k extra, for his 829 extra hours.

As a kid growing up, we usually had one janitor who did everything....mowing, repairs, paint work, and cleaning toilets.  I doubt if he ever got any over-time hours.  In fact, with the exception of closing down the gym after basketball games....that might had been the only chance to pull in extra cash.

It's hard for to imagine some guy working twelve-hour days, five days a week, for an entire year.  Somehow, these guys have convinced the school that they absolutely have to do it.  But if you ask me....there's some bogus factor to this story.

Monday, 27 February 2012

The Nobel Mess

The Nobel Institute folks stood up today and admitted there were around 230-odd people that were nominated by the cut-off point for the Peace Prize.

You end up going down the list....corporations made it, the EU made it, peace groups made it, folks like Helmut Kohl and Bill Clinton made it, and then there's Army kid who created the WikiLeaks mess.....Bradley Manning.

I sat there and pondered over Bradley's nomination.  Even if they gave him the award....he won't be making the trip out to the awards ceremony.  The US Army has Bradley locked up and in the midst of a court-martial episode.  Even if they were to mail Bradley his award, it would be questionable if the Army would allow him to have the award in the cell with his personal gear.

The odds of Bradley getting the award.  Well....there are three ways of looking at this.  First, they could be logical and just pick some peace group that really deserved the Nobel Prize for Peace.  That would make sense.  Then, there's the logic of picking poke at the US government, but that wouldn't make much sense because President Obama is sitting in office.  Course, if they thought he hadn't delivered up to his promises.....maybe a poke would be deserving.  Then finally, there is the Bill Clinton angle to it.  My humble guess is that it'd make perfect sense to give the award to Bill.....just just flip off the Republicans in November, getting them more upset, and causing more voters to come out in support of a Republican Presidential candidate.

Bradley is likely sitting there in the cell....kinda shocked that he'd be worthy of such an award.  He might spend hours, and days....working on his acceptance speech.  The Army prosecutor is likely sitting there.....mostly laughing to himself.  He's getting a chance to prosecute a potential Nobel Peace Prize winner, and gain a footnote in history for his actions.  The sad thing that stranger things have happened, and the US Army might actually have it's first Nobel Peace Prize winner, who will be spending the rest of his life in Leavenworth Prison, Kansas.

My Neighborhood

We had an odd death reported in the local area.  A guy was driving down a state road in the region....had a deer attempting to cross the road....hit the deer.  Then the deer flew up in the air, and landed into the windshield area of a second vehicle....killing the passenger.  No apparent injuries to the driver of the second vehicle.  All of this....just after dark one evening.

Virginia has a fair number of deer accidents....mostly because of the amount of open territory in the state.  It's the first time I can recall some guy getting killed from the accident.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

This Day in History

It is a woeful event that occurred today in history.

This guy, who happened to be a Congressman from Maine.....Jon into an aggressive bit of behavior.....speaking out about a bribery accusation on the Congressional floor.  Guys could say just about anything they wanted in those days, and without TV or usually got away with it unless some idiot was standing there....wrote the quote down, and then blabbed it to the insulted guy. this case.....a southern Congressman....Bill Graves of Kentucky.....was the insulted party.  Bill wasn't exactly a guy to stand down.

In these days of 1838, things were a bit different.  Guys tended to drink excessively....all day long.  We don't know the drinking status of Bill or Jon that day....but I'd make an educated guess that both sipped some beverages and probably were a bit more reactive than you'd like.

There was no willingness on Jon's part to own up to the insult, so Bill decided a duel had to be necessary.  In this period of American history....duels were pretty accepted.  There various choices of weapon in a duel, with varying degrees of outcome.

Naturally, you were supposed to duel around the District area.  That was considered in bad taste.  So they crossed the river over into Maryland. The kindly folks over in Maryland....had created the Bladensburg Duelling Grounds....where you could professionally duel with other folks.  The history folks say over fifty duels occurred at Bladensburg during it's period of usage.

So Jon....who wasn't much of an expert with weapons anyway....shows up.  Bill shows up.  And there is this shooting match.  Bill basically shoots Jon in the leg pretty severely, and blood is pumping out rapidly....with Jon dead in 90 seconds flat.  Other than covering the guy with a horse-blanket in the moments after his death....there's not much you could offer to the guy.

Word gets out about this duel and upsets folks greatly.  So the kindly folks at Congress....Republican and Democrat....finally decide on a joint resolution.  No more duels.  You couldn't issue an invitation to a duel....nor could you accept an invitation.  Course, the wording was typical only meant for threats given or received in the District.  If you got insulted in a regular state....then all bets were off.

The curious thing about this whole thing....a week later, the funeral occurs, with the President in attendance.  You can imagine this scene...a funeral with various party members....all in a state of shock of the duel and it's impact.

Dueling between political figures came to an end after that.  And if you were guessing....yeah....Bill was a Republican and a gun expert.  And yeah, Jon was a Democrat, and mostly known for no gun skills at all.

Your Orientation

When I joined the Air Force in 1977, they had this business of asking me about various personal mark me correctly in their database.

They wanted to know if I was white.....which I kinda confirmed.  They wanted to know if I had any Indian blood in me, and I hinted I might be one sixteenth.....but they said that wasn't enough to be a real Indian.  They wanted to know my religious preference, which I responded that I really didn't have a big preference. They didn't like that answer, and demanded a more firm answer.....and I just said Baptist....although it wasn't much of a preference for me.

As the years went by.....they added onto their list of things they wanted to know.  There was the smoker status, the drinker status, and the educated status.  I think by the time I retired, there were fifteen different status blocks that they had filled out.

Today, there was a memo sent out to all California judges and justices.  The Administrative Office of the Courts for the state of California....wants to know what each guy or gal's sexual orientation is: gay, lesbian or straight.  This is apparently being done to make sure enough gays are adequately represented on the judicial bench of the state......or so they say.

This kinda leads to this awkward situation where there's a judgeship up, and Karl from the Administrative Office calls up the Governor, and says that this has to be given to a lesbian, or a straight gal, or a gay guy, or some regular straight guy.  Course, then you have to figure in the black, Latino, Asian status with this.  You might accidentally discover in the whole state of California.....for an expert guy to be sitting on the state supreme court.....there's only one Latino Lesbian in existence in the state.

I can imagine some judge being approached and he responds that he likes aliens....gets into extreme bondage.....and rarely wears clothing.  The Administrative Office will say to get serious....and he'll respond that he is absolutely serious.

Frankly, once you get around to this kind of marker on your record.....your grades in college and your common sense level won't matter much.  We will eventually require a Latino lesbian midget gal, who smokes and is pro-tattoo.

The Burdens of Being an American

"That’s the kind of balance you need.  Why is that the case? Because if you don't try to generate more revenues through tax reform, if you don't ask, you know, the most fortunate Americans to bear a slightly larger burden of the privilege of being an American, then you have to.....the only way to achieve fiscal sustainability is through unacceptably deep cuts in benefits for middle class seniors, or unacceptably deep cuts in national security.

----White House Finance Expert Timmy Geithner

Yes, even though Mr Goodman (your junior high history teacher), Mr Brown (your high school history and civics teacher), and Professor Carlise (that government studies professor in college) never mentioned any real burdens to being an American citizen.....there are apparently burdens.

I sat and paused over this.  A moment of pondering.  The "more fortunate Americans"?  I grew up with folks in Bama, who still live in the same rural environment and make $25k a year.  Frankly, they aren't exactly unhappy or in any discomfort.  They do an occasional Saturday job for $300 under the table, help some neighbor paint their barn in exchange for 200 lbs of frozen beef steaks, and sit on the front porch discussing the Baptist revival from last week.

If you went up to this guy, and said he was the lesser and more unfortunate American.....he would look at you for a minute and question if you'd been drinking or smoking some good weed.  He'd admit he wasn't making that much, but frankly.....he didn't care much for some government guy handing out free coupons, free gifts, free stimulus funding, or funding some solar company in the richest neighborhoods of southern California.

The misled logic with "more fortunate Americans"?  After you've come to them for two years and grinned as you talked about the extra ten percent they needed to'd eventually reach a point with a zero-growth economy and no solution yet to the home crisis, and start talking about the next version of the "more fortunate Americans".  You'd lay out the next ten percent growth in taxes and remind everyone of what it takes to be a good American....more burden.

Two or three years would pass, and your friends would arrive at the door and talk about a stalled economy, and you had to take up the the "more fortunate American", and own up to more burden....another ten percent.  They'd grin as they suggest this.

Eventually, you'd greet them at the door and then suggest that as you opened it and they were trying to explain the "more fortunate American" deal and the burden issue.....that you were now a burden issue for them.  Your fortunate status had turned unfortunate.  Their grin would slip away.

They'd be looking at each other and trying to think of who the next "more fortunate American" would be, and how his burden would translate into something.

We almost need some special class to attend.....showing us how our lives have been shaped by our burdens.  I'd like to think that I had just really small burdens.....but for some reason, I suspect others may be worried about me, and want to talk over my burden status.  You can imagine this scene at a BP station out in a rural piece of Texas....where five guys discuss their burden status at length, and each saying the other folks have a bigger burden than themselves.  Eventually, you'd get some burden score from the IRS, and then go into a fit when your burden measured slightly more than your neighbors.

Man, this burden a big burden.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Simply Observations

First, I've sat over the past two days and noted about five different journalists/news dimwits....saying that rising gas prices aren't the problem of the President.  In essence, there's nothing he can do.  Sadly, none of the five ever came up during the Bush period of rising gas prices and uttered the same statement.  A number of people are beginning to notice this obvious news commentary being mostly a joke.

Second, the good Senator from Alabama....Jeff Sessions....who sits on the Senate Budget Committee....finally stood up and posted a chart yesterday.  Basically, the US ends up, after the bills are being a bigger problem on 'Per Capita Government' Debt....than Greece.  It's something that ought to scare you....but frankly, after you realize there's not much you can do about it but grin.....then the pain goes away.  As long as some idiot country like China....buys our bonds....things will just keep sliding.  Thank God for those Communist Chinese.

Third.  There's this odd job being offered by NASA.  They want some pretty smart guys and gals (with a degree in math or sciences), who happen not to smoke, speak English fairly well, and have four months to eat on their enjoy astronaut food.  It's a test of issues that might arise over diminished physical capabilities.....maybe even loss of muscle mass....which drives NASA to wonder about their food.  The big problem I see with this fresh food for four months.  You eat out of plastic pouch three times a day, and your snack variation is probably on the very limited side (I doubt you get a Snickers bar or Pop-Tarts).  Me?  You'd have to offer at least $1k a month on pay....maybe even promise up a whole month of catfish and steak at the end of this episode.

Fourth.  Over the past month or two in DC northwest, where the rich folks live in DC.....crime has escalated in a serious fashion.  The chief of police for DC has had to make various promises, and pump up the cop presence during early evening hours.  Course, no one asked where these extra magical cops came from, and if folks down in the southeast part of town knew they lost a third of their cops to this new presence....they probably wouldn't be happy.  In the last day or two....several forums have come up with the next new idea.....more guns in the hands of the local residents.  I'm guessing the political folks won't be happy with that idea, and the cops will be a bit disturbed with twice as many folks carrying pistols as before.  The truth is....after two or three of these punks are shot on the street.....these robberies will decrease in rapid fashion.

Fifth.  This Koran-burning episode in Afghanistan, that has upset a bunch of Muslim folks in the Middle East.  If you read the story.....some burnt Korans were found in trash burnings on the US military installation.  No one is sure about where these came from or how they got into the trash.  If I were to take a pretty good guess at this....some jihad joker came up with the idea of bringing the Korans onbase, dumping them into the trash, and making sure it got discovered.  Course, no one can prove any of this.

Sixth.  Yesterday, if you caught this Maryland story....they approved gay marriage in the state, as of 1 January, which the governor will sign today.  Course, there is these two curveballs on the deal.  You have to have fifty thousand signatures on a ballot initiative by the middle of the summer, and there is the November state vote.  Everyone is really excited over the results yesterday.....but if you examine the state's a pretty close split on state residents and their feelings for the gay marriage business.  If you toss in almost every black church in the state having a negative view of this.....and then the Catholic folks....I'm guessing that it just might not pass in November.  And the media will sit there on the day after the election....trying to explain how several thousand folks were visibly upset about the results....angry that their good feelings lasted through the summer, and are null and void now.  It's almost like a media circus....where you pay to feel good while sitting in the circus audience, then realize when you go home that it just didn't last.

Finally, as of yesterday states are preparing a legal case....likely destined for the Supreme Court.....where the free contraception deal ordered by the President will be challenged.  This mostly centers around the religious side of the mess.  But some folks are suggesting that the President doesn't have the authority to order anything free to be offered by any industry in America.  Congress can run and regulate commerce.....but there isn't any rules established to show that the President can order something free for citizens.  So we are back to this stupid 'nothing is free' discussion.  Frankly, I don't think this will ever end.

We Won't Have to See It

A legal call was directed yesterday....which we will all come to appreciate.  A judge sat down and said that now the lawsuit is settled.....the John Edwards sex tape that exists (with his hottie girlfriend, not his wife)....the tape will be destroyed.

The jest of the story is that John, while in campaign into a episode with his gal...Rielle Hunter....while she was pregnant.  No one ever said who did the tape itself....speculation circles around Miss Hunter being the one who made the tape.

Naturally, most of us folks in the world would prefer not to have the legendary stud, John Edwards, featured on some YouTube-like situation, and watching John in some 22-minute action tape.  You can imagine the commentary from this move or that move.  Toss in the various toys on the bed, the music in the air, and the fancy silky stuff....and you've got a 1-star sex video.

So we are all pretty thankful that the tape will be destroyed.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

A Bama Story

It's one of those sad stories that you'd prefer not to dwell much on.  Some Bama kid....nine years old....takes a candy bar from Grandma, without asking.

The kid is caught on this stolen candy bar.  Grandma wants her to run up and down the yard as punishment. The step-mom (pregnant and later after the arrest delivers her kid) comes into the picture....and this up and down the road routine turns into three hours.  The kid gets dehydrated, and eventually dies from exhaustion.  Cops say that she had a bladder issue....and that the chocolate bar probably was a pretty bad thing for a person like her to eat.....and could have contributed to the issue.

Cops come out today....admit the husband of this step-mom....told them a couple of years ago that the wife was bi-polar.  Cops have arrested both the Grandmother and step-mom.

There's not alot you can say here.  Most kids probably would have run around the yard and eventually just started to jog, and maybe reach a point where they were walking.  This kid apparently never went into the normal behavior mode.  The kid might have had some behavior episode, or been a candidate herself for being just don't know.

The bad thing here is that the county prosecutor will bring serious charges.  Most juries in the state of Bama will take this serious, and I suspect that one of the two women are going to do twenty-plus years.

Some bi-polar folks can put together a lifestyle and avoid alcohol and drugs.....and never hurt or harm anyone.  It's a small group though....the rest?  They aren't to be trusted....under any circumstances.  They'd kill your kids, your dog, or your neighbor....just because they felt that way.

If Gas Was $6 a Gallon

It's not the kind of thought you'd like to hear, but we are on this plank....where gas will likely go past $4, and likely past $5 by the end of summer.  I'd prefer not to imagine this scene of $6 a gallon, but here are my observations.

First, you can forget about teenage kids getting any kind of increase on their $80 a month gas money. will have to figure out a way to stretch those thirteen gallons of gas as far as possible.  Friday evening dates with Jimmy Junior won't happen.....accidents with teenagers dying on some bridge will decrease.....and there might be a few less pregnancies that folks might notice.

Second, airline travel will become a difficult thing to estimate.  Every airline will toss on a $50 fee for fuel, and overseas flights will figure some $200 fee wording.

Third, places like Vegas or Orlando.....will suffer because folks won't fly or drive to the location as much.

Fourth....that SUV that you bought four years ago?  It'll be traded in and be practically worthless.  Some guys will be smart enough to buy two or three Ford Explorers and just park them in the barn.  He'll use one till it's completely dead, then crank up the next and drive it for a couple of years. SUVs won't be dead....but it'll be the guys who have a $60k a year paycheck who mostly drive them.

Fifth.....groceries will edge upward and everyone will wonder why gas has an impact.  Farmers will shake their heads over their fuel bill doubling.

Sixth.....schools will look for hundreds of ways to talk folks into accepting four days of school a save on bus fuel money.  This will mean nine-hour days where a kid arrives at 07:30 and doesn't leave school until 5PM.  The three-day weekend?'ll take a while for folks to figure out how to make these work.

Seventh.....the various fees that schools will toss on folks....will eventually include a bus fee.  You will laugh over this and suggest it's a joke.....but it'll happen. gas edges higher....folks will eventually realize the state and federal tax established on each gallon....simply makes fuel more expensive.  Some political folks will have to stand up and explain why this is such a good idea.  My guess is that they've got a limited future.

Ninth....when the pizza delivery guy says your delivery fee is around $5 a will start to compare the actual pizza cost of $9 to the fuel cost.....and just forget about ordering pizza.

Tenth, and final....sports teams....from high school to professional level....will all begin to add up the cost of taking players around the region, state, or country.  We will eventually have to change a number of things, in the interest of sports.

The Problem with Speeches

This is an odd story to tell.  I work for this organization within the Pentagon structure....DISA.  I actually work for an operational part of it.....not the headquarters itself.  We recently had this turnover with the old three-star general leaving, and the new guy arriving.  I've actually met the new guy on two occasions, and found him to be a pretty straight speaker and gets to the point....which is something I tend to appreciate here in my older years.

The new guy had his fireside speech last was a dynamic VTC type thing where folks over at the HQ's were able to walk in and the rest of us were just supposed to watch it via our computers and this fancy VTC ability on each CPU (more on this later).

The general was going to introduce himself and had an audience of a couple hundred folks from the HQ's building.

So at some point, he puts up two slides....."Ronnie's Rules", which kind of tell his basic rules of life and how you ought to view him.

They kinda lead off with a God-bullet.  In the military, over thirty years of association, it tends to come up once in a while, and nobody much says much of anything.

Well.....some two-dozen-odd folks in DISA apparently took some heartburn with this God-business (if you look at slide one and was the first rule, and the last folks kinda absorbed this (some in different fashions).  So the two-dozen-odd folks ran off and got some anti-religion group involved, and right now want the three-star in a court-martial.  This pretty much went from first gear to fourth gear in just a week's time.  It got into the Huffington Post, the CNN news, and even the Washington Times.

The jest just shouldn't have government officials running around and telling you to get good with God or Jehovah or Muhammad or whatever.   But the flip side of this is a bunch of folks have turned a 1-star event into some media circus and dumped on some military executive guy who probably intended this to be a positive feel-good speech of his.

There are three observations I'll make about this.  First, you would have thought some Major or enlisted guy would have been there to look over his slides and just told him honestly to tone it down a notch or two.  There's a way to say what he mentioned, without ever upsetting any folks of any type.  It never hurts to have someone to just read over what you make sure you don't really screw up too badly.  Maybe it happened in this case.....but I kind of doubt it.

Second, on my list of four hundred things that a boss or director could do to upset me....this doesn't really come up near the top, middle or'd be like number 846 on my list of stupid things the boss could say or do.  In fact, I suspect the vast number of folks I work with.....probably didn't even think about the obvious mention of God or religion.  These two-dozen folks?  I'd like to think they had good intentions....but I'm kind of wondering where those intentions are and where the intentions lead to.  I can think of a hundred negative qualities of leadership that I've seen on the past thirty years.....and I'd prefer not to make them popular or standard amongst the bosses I work for.

Third, and final....we in the military world live in a pretty threatening world.  A military guy has a higher chance of dying than most civilians will ever realize.  So military guys tend to think about their demise or ending.  They'd like to have higher odds.  They'd like to have someone up there....looking over their life and giving a five-percent higher chance of surviving.  Military folks would like to finish up a one-year tour in Afghanistan, and kiss American soil when he arrives back, and silently says some prayer to someone for getting him back to Texas, Miami, or Red Bay, Bama, in one piece.  I wouldn't be blaming the general for his comments....he probably has appreciated higher odds like most other military guys.

The comical side of this is that this fancy VTC capability that these jokers at the HQ's have bragged about for two years, and mandated us to be trained on.....barely works, if ever.  I actually missed the entire VTC and the God comments....because I consider any attempt to run the VTC to be a waste of my time.  Most folks I work with....kind of feel the same way.  So I'd like to think that the chief reason why nobody in my organization joined up with the two dozen headquarters folks on the complaint....was because we didn't have a problem with the comment.  The truth is....we probably skipped the VTC.

How this ends?  Leon (our Pentagon chief) will ask someone to waste a hundred man-hours and review the episode.  Lawyers will ask the general what he meant.  Some social scientist will ask the complaint folks how they feel.  Eventually, Leon will ask the general to put out an apology of sorts, and regret the comment for upsetting folks.  Then Leon will close the episode.  The general will do what a good executive has to do on occasion, and live with it.  The rest of us, will utter a moment of thanks to the good Lord.....for ending this stupid episode, helping Leon find the right ending, and end the torment for a few souls.  Life will go on....thankfully.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Simply Observations

Folks staying in the same floor of the same hotel as Wittney Houston.....have come out and requested a refund on their hotel costs.  They say the continued noise and limitations put upon them by the cops and rescue personnel....made the stay fairly miserable.  The hotel kinda hints that they just won't paid nothing or give out any discount.  Personally....if I had paid out $300 a night for a room.....I'd be having certain expectations.....and having cops around my door for twenty-four hours straight would be an issue with me.  The Beverly Hilton can say what they want....but it likely turned into a pretty miserable stay for some folks.

Gas has reached a point where most real journalists back six years ago continually asked Bush what he was going to do, and how he was going to fix the issue.  Strangely enough.....with the exception of the business channel folks and Fox aren't hearing much of anything from the media right now.  For about an entire month.....they pushed across hours and hours of anti-Bush chat on the gas price escalation.  And now?  Nothing.   The ABC, NBC, CBS and CNN news crews end up looking like fools (just a humble opinion).  The odds of oil prices changing?  That's a curious thing.  You'd almost get the impression that most of the Middle East folks would like to pump up the fuel cost and give President Obama one more challenge in an election year.  He'd have to really talk his way through a tough gas-price election year.

The Administration came out with this nifty deal....lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 percent (the highest in the world), to 25 percent.  The deal involves getting all of the companies to agree on cutting various loopholes that currently exist.....compliments of Senators and Congressmen.  Everyone has to be standing there and grinning over the episode.  Basically....the news media will spend an entire week talking up this issue.  The Republicans will pretend it's a gimmick....which it is.  The Democrats will whine how it's unfair that companies get off the hook. The President briefly looks pretty good.  But here's the curious thing.....six months after you lower this rate to 25 percent.....a dozen senators will write new and fresh tax code to give them their tax credits back.  So, nothing much happens....except a week of news media coverage...which you have to admit....we can always use new and fresh issues.

We had this unique accident about two nights ago.....some local gal here in Maryland....driving a BMW up near 100 mph.....hits a cub at the right angle, punctures the tire, and does a couple of flips over a parking lot and ends up resting just feet away from a Kentucky Fried Chicken.  The gal apparently wore no safety tossed from car....dead.  Her passenger?  Alive, only because he was wearing a seat belt.  There is a way to go in life....but you really don't want a funeral home presentation episode with two hundred folks showing up.....all commenting how you died in a KFC parking lot.  It just ain't the way you'd like to be remembered.

My Neighborhood

Last week, there was this brief colorful exchange between two council folks in DC (it's best not to mention their names), where some brief but decent profanity was uttered in a public forum.

This brief uttered profanity greatly disturbed the city much so, that DC decided that it'd add an amendment to the city council's code of conduct. can't cuss or utter profanity at any city council function.

I was kind of amazed by the action.  They didn't run down the various phrases which would get you in trouble....which means dozens of phrases are probably acceptable because they don't fall in the f***, s***, or such listing.  I'm guessing that a dozen special phrases have been passed around the city council chambers.....which would allow them to vent anger, and make other parties aware of their hostile feelings.

The impact of this?  Well....the way that the rule works....someone will stand up and note that you cussed. They will ask you to stop.  If you continue your cussing tirade, then the city council will ask that you leave the room, and if you don't.....they probably will note your bad behavior and maybe just end the session, period.  This wasn't exactly clear on the end result.

So we can now bring our kids into city council meetings and be assured that no cussing will be uttered in front of them.  It's a pretty nifty feeling.  While profanity is uttered throughout the streets of DC.....we will be in a pure and clean environment.  I expect unicorns to be handed out in future city council meetings.  And eventually, some knight in shining armor will come to fix all the corruption in town.  Well.....maybe.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Just a Satan Minute

At some point in 2008....Presidential candidate Rick Santorum announced: "Satan has his sights on the United States of America!  Satan is attacking the great institutions of America, using those great vices of pride, vanity, and sensuality as the root to attack all of the strong plants that has so deeply rooted in the American tradition."

This came out today, and got a fair amount of media time from most of the top dozen TV news folks.

You can imagine Matt Lauer from the Today Show....trying to figure a way to discuss this and criticize it.  First, he has declare there is no Satan, and then he has to make this all look pretty foolish.  Course, around fifty percent of the women who are watching the Today up each Sunday and pretty much have this pro-Satan existence view.  So Matt starts to look fairly foolish in being anti-Satan.

Then you have the ABC crew.....who has to find some cartoon figure of Satan....trying to Rick Santorum and the Satan cartoon figure fit into the same photo.  They come off looking pretty foolish.

Then you have the CBS crew, who has to project Satan as the 'good-Satan' and that Rick is bad for opposing poor Satan.

Then you have the CNN folks, who have to find a dozen experts on Satan....the so-called Satan come out and be interviewed by their folks all day long.  For some of the Satan think-tank's the first time they've ever been on national TV, and they had to ask their cousin to loan them a decent suit or plain black tie.

Then you have Rush Limbaugh, who has to think of something flashy to say about being anti-Satan, and show how this fits into the Conservative view point.  Eventually, he will connect Satan with Iran, Columbia, Cuba, and North Korea....confusing most folks, and then flipping over to a discussion of the Reagan era.

Finally, Fox News will just put sixty seconds of time onto the whole Satan thing....mostly saying that they'd give Satan a chance to part of the fair and balanced thing....but so far, Satan hasn't accept the call to be on the O'Reilly Show.

To be blunt about this....when you start tossing Christian values around in's only a matter of time before Satan comes up, and at that point...the whole political angle with Christian values slides off the the side of discussions.  You might as well bring up UFOs, Bigfoot, or Loch Ness as part of the Republican agenda, and that really won't help too much.

The Shelter Issue

There's this interesting episode with tornado shelters in Bama.  Down in DeKalb county....they wanted to put up six prefab-type storm shelters.  It's best to describe them as Quonset-hut structures that pretty heavy gauge and the whole thing gets anchored down to the ground.   The DeKalb folks had some serious interest in this.....but has wasted away an entire year trying to establish a legal contract.  The problem soon as they stand up and it looks all legit....someone from the state or county steps halt the purchasing episode.

It's a curious they do the bid and it runs afoul each's always the Safe-T-Shelter folks who are standing there with null and void contract.  The competition who fails to win the episode?  They continually come back via various legal angles.....making the whole process dead.  You'd almost think that if you just declared the number two guy or the number three guy on the process....the actual winner.....then folks would just allow things to go forward.

Personally, I'm of the mind that some agenda is being played out.

But then I come to this whole concept of a central 100-person shelter and the requirement that DeKalb country wrote up.  Personally, if I was this worried about a tornado....I'd put my own shelter up in the backyard....big enough for six folks.  The reason for this?  At 10PM at night.....when the Doppler radar picks up a might have two minutes to do something.  You don't want to be dressing up or running around to figure the closest route to the county shelter.  If you got to run out to the shelter in a pair of underwear and a Auburn be it.

So I'm not trying to bash the county's effort, but I'd be investing my money into something more worthwhile.  If you live in DeKalb ought to be putting aside $1,500 and getting a simple shelter that kinda sits in the ground like a septic tank.  Naturally, you get your cousin Claude to come over....spend a Saturday digging this hole....use the tractor to dump this shelter in the hole....and toss the dirt back on top of it.  Forget all this legal hassle like the DeKalb county folks have, and do it yourself.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Just A Second on the Whole Wittney Houston Thing

It's difficult to really have much to say over this past week, and the ending of Ms Houston.

First, you end up with a broke-down star whose entire career lasted around twelve years, and anything productive really ended around 1996.  Once she got firmly latched onto Bobby Brown, there's not much to say.

Second, the millions that were there.....gone.  Most folks are keeping their silence on this, but I imagine that her total real assets at the end were a house or two, and some yearly income off her old songs (maybe a couple million after taxes). By the time you figure taxes, travel bills, and body guards....I doubt if there was much of anything.

Third, sadly, there's nothing much to brag about over the past five years except this attempted comeback....which couldn't really take any traction because her voice just wasn't there anymore.

So you end up with Micheal Jackson, version 2.0.  The next episode?  I'm predicting Lindsay Lohan.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

The Reality of South Carolina

This is what we know.  Up in South Carolina....folks conduct pigeon shoots.  It's kind of a state tradition...guys pull out their weapons, eat a hearty breakfast, and drive up to the shoot.  They exchange stories, swap rumors about Democrats, Republicans, Baptists, and NCAA football.  It's generally an accepted thing throughout the state.

Well....this group of animal rights got into this mess.  The group.....SHARK (SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness)....don't ask how the name came about because it probably isn't worth thinking about.  The group decided that they would record this episode with the help of a remote-controlled aircraft (a fairly small operation).

So the two groups meet up near Ehrhardt, South Carolina.  The hunter folks were a bit disturbed by this "threat".  They didn't want anyone video-taping their activity.  They just wasn't right.  The cops eventually got help push the SHARK folks back, but they were within their rights to fly over the private property and capture video of the episode.  Eventually, the hunters all decided this just wasn't fair, and packed up to all leave.  The SHARK guys still figured it'd be a good video-taping activity, and flew their remote-controlled aircraft up anyway.  Video is video, in their minds.

At this point, there is only fact that anyone will agree the remoted-controlled aircraft hit the air and got some elevation.....shots rang out.  The little remote-controlled aircraft was pretty much shot to pieces and flew quickly to the ground (crashed might be a better term).

The SHARK folks were all kinda upset by this....uttering various comments.  No one knows much about the direction of the gunfire or the shooters.  It would appear, based on newspaper comments that these folks took off in ATV' into the woods, and will never be identified (my humble opinion).

The Sheriff's department took down the report, and this will turn into a malicious damage to property episode.  I'm guessing.....just to cover their public standing.....two or three deputies will hustle out and ask a dozen hunters what they might know.

You can imagine the scene.  Deputy Dan talking to Uncle Karl....and Uncle Karl trying to talk mostly about his dead coon-hunting dog, or his wife's transmission going out, or the ammo sale at the local BP gas station.  Deputy Dan wraps up this interview, and goes to visit "Sarge" (a retired Vietnam vet), who wants to talk conspiracy rumors with the Obama administration, the stability of the Thai currency, and some nifty web pages he designed for the local cheerleader squad.  Deputy Dan will wrap up his afternoon of interviews with Charley (the Yankee guy who moved down from Detroit in 2003).  Charley will just admit he heard gunfire and then saw this alien-like spacecraft fall to the ground.  He'll volunteer details about the direction of the gunfire, but then comment on this craft looking like something he saw on the History Channel....resembling a UFO.  Charley will then mention that he's been on special med's for two years and has trouble remembering things.  Deputy Dan will then wrap up the afternoon and just drive home.

For the SHARK guys....I'd offer up some advice.  Whatever you guys dream up on reality, in South Carolina....things kinda run in a different fashion.  These are guys who didn't attend any college, don't sit around much discussing animal rights, and have a pretty different view of life.  I'm guessing most of the SHARK guys aren't local guys, and they simply moved into the state.  I'm also guessing that half the membership of SHARK are ladies.....and they haven't associated themselves with any local guys.

Things will likely simmer down for a couple of months.  The SHARK guys will eventually procure another remote-controlled aircraft, and eventually get up the courage to tape another hunt.  I'm guessing the hunter folks kind of expect this, and the phrase....reload....will be on their mind.  If I were a remote-controlled aircraft sales guy.....I'd be enjoying brisk and continuing sales over the next year or two.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Explaining How This Works

Italian cops came out this week and grabbed these folks who had $6 trillion (with a T) of fake and bogus US treasury bonds.  The Swiss and US cops were also involved in this episode.

The news folks report that it all started as an effort to get into mafia loans, and then they kind of discovered this massive treasury bond episode.

Most folks in the US won't care about's just a minor story that won't even make on the CBS nightly news.  So I'll take a moment to explain the significance of this, and how this works.

Karl is a up and coming Ford franchise owner in Kansas.  Through various efforts over the past two years....he's put together almost $300k in illegal profits which never were reported to the IRS.  Karl would like to take that money and move it around, but it's impossible via electronic means, and just messing with the cash involved....makes it risky to travel via aircraft.  You can't do business like this with a know.

So Karl gets to meet some guy from New Orleans, who has twelve bank bonds, which amount to $300k.  They do a swap, with Karl paying the guy $3k just to make the deal happen.  Now Karl can travel easily over international borders with his bank bonds.....and the US can't say much about this.  This are simply promissory notes....of no value, unless you present them to a bank.

A decade goes by, and Karl now has amassed a fortune of $3 million, and he has this interesting deal for the purchase of a Greek freighter....under the he takes all his bank bonds and takes off to buy the freighter.

Somewhere around age 55, Karl now has a secret fortune of $100 million.  He needs to swing a huge deal and he needs big bonds.  So this mafia guy comes up and offers $100 million in treasury bonds to Karl.  Fake of course, but Karl doesn't know this.  Karl buys the bonds, and sits on them for four months....waiting for a huge oil deal in Russia to occur, and he would double his money secretly in two years with his presentation of the treasury bonds.  But then, the experts for the Russians declare them fake, and Karl's entire fortune is lost in an instant....mostly because he was doing illegal business for years and years.....counting on the bank and treasury bonds as a way to hide his fortune.

So thank God.....those cops got into this, and helped save the rich secret millionaires from screwing up and losing their vast secret fortunes, which they never pay taxes on.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Vegas in DC?

It finally came out yesterday....that a developer is looking at this idea of putting up a five-star casino deal in the National Harbor area.....which is just east of Alexandria, Virginia and over into the Maryland area.  For Washington DC....this is a major topic of discussion.  The creation of a Vegas-like atmosphere, in DC?

There are several ways of looking at this.  First, there's not much for gambling pleasure around the region, unless you take off to Atlantic City.  Second, there's a bunch of government employees in the region.....who might be talked into going to a Vegas-caravel-like playground....and spend their cash.  For VIP's, I'm also guessing that some big-name locals would enjoy a chance to rub elbows other VIPs.

Helping the economy?  Well....there's taxes involved somewhere in this mess, and that can only help Maryland.  Course, it's just shifting money from one private pocket, to one government pocket.  That's probably not the best kind of deal.

Free isn't Free

I've sat by for three weeks.....watching the President's contraception dilemma.  It is a comedy of sorts now.

Once the President stood up and said he'd fix this making women's contraception free....that ended the torment possibility by big-name media.  But you've got this odd problem laying stuff.  Officially, Congress can regulate commerce, but they can't make companies give anything away free.  The President? one can remember any President directing anyone over the past two hundred years.....directing a company to give something away freely.

I sat and pondered over this.

It'd be nice, if the President could order the cable companies to offer HBO as a free deal, but I know that the cable companies would just inflate their prices and add two percent on top of come out ahead.  It just wouldn't be free.

It'd be nice, if the President could order Burger King to offer free ice tea with each meal, but I know that Burger King would just inflate their prices and add two percent on top of come out ahead.  It just wouldn't be free.

It'd be nice, if the President could order gas stations to offer free wiper fluid for your car when you filled up with gas, but I know that the gas stations would inflate their prices and add two percent on top of come out ahead.  It just wouldn't be free.

It'd be nice, if the President could order Ford, GM and Chrysler to offer free oil changes for the life of a car, but I know that the car companies would inflate their prices and add two percent on top of come out ahead.  It just wouldn't be free.

It'd be nice, if the President could order Marriott hotels to offer a seventh night free, if you paid for six nights in the hotel, but I know that the hotel chain would inflate their prices and add two percent on top of come out ahead.  It just wouldn't be free.

It'd be nice, if the President could order International House of Pancakes to offer free bacon with each waffle meal, but I know that the IHOP folks would inflate their prices and add two percent on top of come out ahead.  It just wouldn't be free.

It'd be nice, if the President could order the airlines to carry your baggage free of charge when you book your trip, but I know that the airlines would inflate their prices and add two percent on top of come out ahead.  It just wouldn't be free.

It'd be nice, if the President could order free installation with all septic tanks (upon purchase), but I know the septic tank companies would inflate their prices and add two percent on top of come out ahead.  It just wouldn't be free.

So out there are a dozen health insurance guys who are busy with the numbers right now, and planning for 2013.  That normal three-to-five percent increase on health insurance costs?  Well....I'm betting almost all companies go for a ten percent rate increase, and maybe even fifteen percent.  The President will try hard not to grin when this gets announced, and Congress will talk of an investigation.

In the end.....there just isn't anything free.  That happy meal at McDonalds for your kid?  It's not really free....they figure its cost into the kid's meal.  The free tea deal at Catfish Cabin?  It's not really free because they figure that cost into the meal itself.  The free installation of that battery into your car at Sears?'s not free because Sears figures the cost into each battery they sell.

Yes, we are just that naive, to believe that free is free, and that's the sad story of America tonight.

The 3-PM Game

This is what we know.  A western Colorado school has a 'after-3' club which involves choir singing.  It's not really sanctioned by the it's run by volunteers or PTA folks or some gal/dude from the local area.  The emphasis of a 'after-3' club, is to typically get you bonus points for fancy schools (Duke, University of the South, SMU, etc).  These programs get onto your application to the fancy school (not your local community college or local state college where anyone accepts you).

You can imagine the script.....Johnny wants to get with Duke, so he has five 'after-3' clubs lined up.  He joins up with a Boy Scout troop and earns some badges.  Johnny has six hours allocated every two weeks for the old folks home where he plays cards with old ladies who wink at the kid all the time.  Johnny picks up trash around highway 16 which he personally adopted as his clean-America project.  And Johnny goes out with the local veterinarian on night duty to local ranches where he tends to sick horses and cows.

So the school in Grand Junction.....which is a ranching area.....was putting together for choir practice and singing.....and this unique sing is assigned...."Zikr".

To be kinda honest here...."Zikr", which the writer of the song (from India) says was written to as a musical piece to for "self-healing and spirituality," has a Islamic slant to it. This A R Rahman who wrote the song....says that the it's a simple piece and no one should think it's about Muslims....really.

So this kid from the Grand Junction school....went through the text and eventually came to decide that it was mostly a song to promote Allah in some fashion. The kid then decided, in a public statement....he'd just quit the choir because he wasn't going to sing on praise for Allah.

Some folks jumped up to defend "Zikir".  Although the school principal was pretty quiet over the matter.  It was not on his list of things approved, but it's for a "after-3" deal, so he doesn't care too much.  The feeling given by the school was that they'd just stand by the choir director, so the kid quit.  It was a simple choice here.

I kind of pondered over this mess.  This "Zikir" is usually done with it's got a beat to it.  I sat there....trying to think of a choir piece that involves drums, and other than "Little Drummer Boy"....there just isn't any choir music that I can think of that fits like this one.  So it's a bit odd.

Then I came to this choir director and how she came to pick the piece.  She's a volunteer and I'm guessing she's not a local gal.  How would you even know about the piece?'d have to take some culture-type classes and get pretty orientated with Muslims....because no one else plays this stuff.

What happens now?'s basketball season and school now has a reputation.  As they compete against other schools.....the players will earn the name "Allah" and the coach will be on the short-fuse for most games.  It won't be a pleasant situation to face.

Local folks?  Well....they will be asking why Islamic things are on the school list of objectives.  Most teachers will now be asked for a full list of teaching objectives, and folks will be looking for things to argue about.

I look back over my years in Bama and there just weren't too many 'after-3' programs.  For was FAA or 4-H.  I came to hate 4-H....mostly because of the steer project that I got into....raising a calf for eight months and then getting him trained enough to lead by a rope around a fenced in area.  After you've been dragged around a couple of times on the ground....there just isn't much pleasure to this project....except the $300 to $400 check you get at the cattle barn when you sell ole Bo, for someone's beef consumption.

We didn't have many kids in Bama aspiring to go off to Duke or some fancy private college in New York state.  Most kids just dreamed of going off to Auburn, and getting a chance to consume four cases of beer over each weekend.  If some gal showed up to run a choir program with some Muslim things attached to it....we would have sat there and mostly laughed.  Through peer pressure.....she would have been forced to give up on this idea pretty quick.

So out there in western Colorado.....there's choir practice tonight....with kids singing some Allah tunes.  They do it mostly because Mom or Dad is hoping on them getting into Yale, New York University, Brigham Young, or DePaul.  If they said to sing to Satan, professional wrestling or pinkeye.....they'd just do it.  The objective here.....just do and get a stupid paragraph on a application form.  That's it.  And if you are standing there in some choir competition in fancy long white robes.....doing choir singing....and jump into some Allah-beat with drums in the background....well, its all part of the game.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Two Cents on Nukes

The administration came out yesterday and hinted that there is a forthcoming cut on nuclear weapons within the US arsenal.  The deal would involve dumping eighty percent of the deployed weapons.  Beyond that....they really didn't say much else and the news folks barely covered the curious piece.

Frankly, if you examine the simply means that some nukes kept at overseas locations will be brought home and put out of commission.  The current arsenals in the states....appears to be staying at the present numbers.

If you drew up a list of 'bad-boys' who you might threaten with's a fairly short list.  I wouldn't even put Russia on the list anymore.  It'd be difficult to even put China on the list (they make most of our electronics, so it'd be stupid to nuke our TV manufacturing sites).  You probably wouldn't want to put North Korea on the list because all that potential fall-out would drift south into South Korea, and upset those folks a good bit.  So you end up with Iran as the only possible bad-boy.

Nuclear war was always this absolute final piece of American retribution.  If you were stupid enough to do some really bad stuff and make our lives miserable.....we'd return the favor within thirty minutes.  In the 1950s and made sense.  In the present environment, it'd be hard to find scenarios where any Presidential figure would opt for a nuke attack.  In'd take an invasion by space aliens to get most folks agreeable in a hurry to use nukes these days.

The curious thing though.....these dimwits who manage the two minutes-to-midnight doom and destruction clock?  They just won't dare push the clock to a sixty minutes-to-midnight situation....even if the US got rid of all it's nukes.  That might be the bigger story for a Sixty Minutes crew to check out.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

A Vote or Two or Three or Four

The Pew Center on the states indicates that around twenty million registered voters in the US.....have a problem.  It might be a small might be a major problem.  They admitted that 2.7 million are registered in at least two states.  And there's at least 4k people....registered to four states.  So far, they haven't found anyone who was registered in five states.

Their comment over this issue is that folks aren't de-registering as they leave a state.  Having been around the US via the Air Force....I can attest to the fact that no one ever spoke of a law or a necessity to de-register.  I've probably been registered to vote in at least five different states since 1977.  One would assume that you'd drop off the register after two or three years, but to be one has ever sat down in front of me and stated the law of any state over this issue.

The Pew guys were careful.  They don't want to admit that twenty million votes might be loaded with fraud.  They didn't want to get into dead voters....because that's an entire book by itself.

So we are left with this mystery of sorts.  These 4k folks registered in four states.....are they voting?  Are we getting an extra 12k votes in November elections across the entire nation?

You'd think that some political party would want to rush out and fix this.....but you barely get a rise out of the Republicans and I can't recall a single Democrat over the past decade getting excited over voter fraud.

The bottom line?  The Pew guys simply admitted that we have a problem, but not much else.  And I doubt that anything comes out of this.  And for you guys registered in four states?  Why stop might as well go for five and six establish a record.  

A Little Off the Sides

Barbers are always an interesting topic with me.  As a kid growing up in Bama.....I can remember the 75-cent haircuts at the local barber.  Two brothers ran the for the first twenty years.  A haircut took all of three minutes to accomplish and it wasn't until the early 1970s that they added a vacuum to get all the hair off your neck.

When I went off to the Air first haircut was free.....mostly because they removed almost every single hair on my head.  When I finally got to tech school at Sheppard Air Force Base.....I found the friendly barbers there....charged around $2.  I thought that was a bit hefty, but I would learn was standard pricing on any base.

When I got to Panama....I met up with these barbers who did razor-type cuts and you felt like a million bucks.  The problem was that all haircuts were around five bucks by that point.

Later, I got to Ramstein and got used to sixty-minute get a haircut.  The only magazines they offered were sports magazines.  And the going rate was around $9.

I took a two-week vacation to Turkey in the mid-1990s....and this Turkish barber asked me if I wanted my ear-hair "fixed"?  I said sure, and he lights up this Q-tip with some alcohol.....and then burns every hair on one side of my head.  I was in mortal fear when I realized the flame business....but he took off the ear-hair on the other side, and it really felt pretty cool at that point.  I vowed I'd never repeat that though.

When I got to Arlington.....for the first six months.....I was using some mall barbershop, and the rate was near $14.  I came to discover the Pentagon by Japanese ladies.....was only charging $12, and I switched over to them.  Frankly, unless you really emphasize "a little bit".....they will cut every hair off your head.

Today, folks found out that the fancy barbershop over at the Senate building is about $300k in debt and only survives because the Senators found some method of dumping cash into the pot.

It was puzzling to me how you'd end up in $300k of debt, until they announced the pay scale of the four barbers who work there.  They make $54,761; $70,349; $73,658; and $81,641....which is a fairly hefty sum of money for barbers.  On top of that.....the government is handling their 401-K, their government health care, and paid leave.

To make this deal kinda work....a haircut ends up being $20, and a fancy highlight deal is around $105.  Don't even ask about a shampoo, cut and air dry.

How many Senators use this barbershop?  Well....nobody much is talking about that.  About a quarter of the old guys barely even have hair growing.  Course, their staffs would have access to the barbershop, but you'd have to wonder if these younger guys would even be willing to use the local barbershop.  You can figure a decent barbershop over here in Arlington would probably run around $14.

I'm guessing a number of barbers back in Bama are eyeballing the $81k salary and wondering just how good this guy really is.  Can he talk baseball?  Does he have insight into Clint Eastwood movies?  Does he know some catfish places in the local area?  Has he met any famous NASCAR drivers?  Did he pick up any secret info on Senator Roy Blunt?  Does he know any women who give Japanese massage sessions?  Has he got a special compound to darken gray hair?

So to keep the precious Senate barbershop in operation.....some joker pulled out $300k of your tax money, and ensured that it stayed in operation for another year.  Maybe they'd be better off to just shut down that operation....give the Senators a Pentagon-entry pass, and let them use our Japanese ladies.  Heck, for $12, they'd save enough money to have a beer.  Afterwards, they could walk around the corner to the executive dining area, and have a club sandwich for $13, and a unlimited amount of ice tea (with nice fancy crushed ice).  It might be a pretty good deal, if you ask me.

Monday, 13 February 2012

The Problem With Titles

It's a curious episode.  There's this group.....Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment....which basically started out originally as a Acorn.  The Alliance has a concern over lacking funds to support the Occupy California folks.  For what they desire....there's a huge gap of funding issues.  They need cash to cover buses, beverages, pamphlets and handouts, snacks, and common regular supplies.

So the Alliance sent out this letter to it's supporters....they need donors.  There's going to be this system where a guy can contribute $20k (enough to get twenty-odd buses) for the protest.  If you donate that earn a title of "Working Class Hero.”   If you can cough up $5k, you earn the title of "Occupy Ally.”

I sat there pondering over these titles.  I'm not sure what the title would really give you.  Maybe there's some secret listing where a Democratically-run executive committee in California....could hire you or hire your nephew.....if you tossed in the $20k and got "Working Class Hero".  I'm guessing that the $5k contribution and Ally-title....might get you some fancy Democratic breakfast deal at your restaurant, or maybe a state-party contract for coffee and muffins from your coffee shop.

In a way, it's sad that you have to resort this method because even your supporters start to snicker and laugh over the title business.  There's probably another dozen-odd titles, for guys who donate $20, $50, or $150.  For $5, you might get the "Common Man Hero".  It's best not even to bring the 50-cent title.

So if you got some loose cash around, and aren't a member of the 1-percent crowd.....the Alliance folks would like to have your money.  If you are a one-percent guy (filthy rich)'s best to avoid mentioning just how rich you really are.

Only in America.

Just Something to Think About

In 1840......the Census of the United States....offered one and only one category for mental disorders.

In 1917, there were 59 different categories for mental disorders.

In 1959, there 128 categories for mental disorders.

In 1980, there were 227 categories for mental disorders.

In 2012, there are 347 recognized categories for mental disorders.

My humble guess is that we will hit 500 mental disorder categories sometime between 2020 and 2025.

There are two ways of looking at these numbers.  Either we are getting crazier, year by year.....or some smart guys are getting around to classifying just about anything you crazy or a disorder.

Eventually, there will be a disorder for guys who continually back-up their data on a daily basis, guys who are addicted to biscuits and gravy each morning, women who wear tube tops on a daily basis, kids who obsessively wear one color of clothing to school, folks who can only drive automatics (can't handle shifting), and engineers who refuse to use programming software that was made after 1986.

The sad thing is that we might all have forty-four different mental disorders....and not even realize it.  Or care that we have mental disorders.

The Class Story

The New York Post had a pretty nifty article this weekend...."The Great Divide" by Kyle Smith.  The emphasis of the piece....since the 1960s, we have embarked on a mission to live in two different Americas, which happen to be socially, economically, and culturally different.

I read through this piece and found its suggestions kind of interesting.  We are a nation of islands, where some folks have packed up and left the regular community.  We've made enough money to live in segregated communities....protected by private security, which better than regular police....sip finer wines and eat expensive cheeses flown in from France....floated over to political affiliations that are a bit more extreme than what people accepted in the 1950s....and run off to vacations in Bali or Paris.

By the end of the article....I came to one brief conclusion....we weren't going to come back.  We were permanently divided.

But there is a piece of this suggestion which I came to ponder upon.  We are continually told of three classes in America (upper, middle, and lower).  The blunt truth is that we are edging toward class system that probably involves ten different groups.

1.  The permanent urban welfare group.  They all live in major areas of the US (Philly, Dallas, Washington, etc).  They all expect the government to come and help them in some fashion.  They vote mostly all Democrat.

2.  The super rich.  These are your billionaire class folks, who own private jets, pay less taxes because they donate to Senators who write tax code, and sip $100 bottles of wine on a daily basis.  They don't really vote....they donate money to political make their desires occur.

3.  The moderately rich.  These are the millionaires, own $3 million dollar houses, rent out private jets, and pay off state-level political figures to get their needs accomplished.  They don't really vote....they simply donate money to local causes to be noted and accomplish their desires.

4.  The local rich.  These are the guys that you might have grown up one good idea, and have a $500k house today.  They own a business and turn a good profit.  They've been to the Bahamas, Aruba, and go yearly to Vegas.  They own a boat, spend $3k a year on golf, and have a $40k Lexus in the garage.

5.  The trailer class.  These are folks who finally save enough or borrow have their one true home.....a house trailer.  They won't be moving upward....mostly because they are tied to a simple job and a permanent income level.  They split their votes between Republicans and Democrats.

6.  The college elite class.  These are folks who are pretty receptive to environmental causes, Democratic agendas, and always talking about "change".  They drive a hybrid car, live in a urban villa of sorts, and tend to socialize other college elite types.

7.  The union class.  Teachers, car industry folks, and dock-worker guys.  They all vote Democrat in bulk and live in a pretty decent house.  They take vacations to Vegas and Atlantic City.  They rarely socialize with anyone, except their own class.

8.  Heartland class.  These are the guys who vote Conservative, live in moderate homes, and have dreams about moving ahead, but never do.  They take their vacations down to Gulf Shores, Branson, or Orlando.

9.  Entrepreneurial class.  These are folks who come out of high school or college with an agenda, and are working their entire life to get ahead.  They vote mostly Conservative and latch onto political folks who talk tax reform or tax cuts.  Some will never get rich, although they might own their own Tasty Dip franchise, or run their own BP gas station.

10.  Farm class.  These are the folks who provide the pork for your table or the pecans for your pie.  They tend to split their vote.....going from one party this year because of what they another party in four years.  They live a simple life and if they take five days a year off and visit relatives the next state over.....that might be it for a vacation.

I realize I am suggesting something radical.....but there just aren't three classes of people in America anymore.

My Neighborhood

We had an unusual event in DC over the weekend....a public summit.  The mayor came up with this out an arena.....toss in enough tables for roughly 1,800 folks....and electronically connect each table to some network to register "votes".

The deal was that you'd come in and talk up a couple of topics....which always get folks excited.  Examples: cheap housing, corruption, traffic, police, fire protection, public education, libraries, etc.  Then folks around the tables would have some time to sell other folks at the table on the need for more cops, cheaper housing, or less corruption.  Eventually, some guy at the front would hollow out to take a vote to prioritize the four talking points, and they would register votes, then move onto the next topics.

There were several issues with this idea and the event.  First, there was no real money in the mayor's budget to cover the cost....$600k.  The city found some money and got donations to cover the rest.

Second, there was this rule tossed out early in the event....NO Twitter.  Folks got kinda upset about this and quickly voiced that you just couldn't stop them from Twiterring.  So the mayor's folks eventually backed down on that rule.

Third, no is real sure if this really does anything....except make 1,800 folks think they are part of the process.  My guess is that a huge portion of the players at this event....were community leaders and they go back to claim that they are part of the city's process.  They feel good....even if nothing ever happens.

The truth here is that you could gather eight guys off the street and probably get the same results in a matter of thirty minutes.  Political folks usually aren't willing to engage the public in that simple type of setting.  They want big results.

As the months go by, a couple of these established priorities will be worked on and the mayor will proudly proclaim that they did take three out of the top ten ideas....and made a success out of them.  In four years, we will likely repeat this exercise.  It makes folks feel good, and that usually make political folks feel good too.  Don't get excited's not we can all meet in some arena, discuss how we dislike the mayor and the city council.....then agree to fire the mayor or city council right there on the spot.  They'd never be stupid enough to allow that.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Gulf of America?

It kinda came out this week in Mississippi.....that some political folks do have a sense of humor.  This state legislature guy in Mississippi......a Democrat, no less....introduced a bill that would rename the Gulf of Mexico, into the Gulf of America.

Naturally, there is a point to this comical suggestion....that we've taken this anti-immigrant deal to some pretty far extremes, and he wants some Republican dimwits to stand up and voice their approval to his bill.  So far, based on commentary.....the Mississippi Republicans are being careful about what they say in public.  I'm guessing half of them had this idea last year and just held back.

Some folks might actually take this serious, and you might even see a couple of folks in Bama who suddenly get into this Gulf of America business.  Heck, they might even want to name it the Gulf of Alabama....just rub the Mississippi guys the wrong way.

By next week....rumors will be flying around the south that various efforts are underway....the Gulf of Florida project, the Gulf of Texas project, and maybe even the Gulf of Gulf Shores project.  Eventually, everyone will settle down....sip some Pabst.....and settle on keeping things the way they are.  It's best not to be messing around with place names....otherwise, you'd end up with folks arguing over names....rather than politics or NCAA bowl selections.

Friday, 10 February 2012

That $2,000

The news folks wanted everyone to know this morning that because of all that crap that the mortgage companies and banks created.....if they messed around with your get $2,000 now.  Congressmen and news media folks were all happy about this deal.  This twenty-five billion will be paid out by five banks.....and everyone's life so much better.

I sat there....looking over the $2k deal.  Basically, you have to pay taxes on this, to both the state and federal folks.  So you end up with $1400 at the end.  It's nice to have $1,400.....but it really isn't going to fix your house troubles, your mortgage, or your happiness.

But here's the issue with the twenty-five billion.  It doesn't come from some mystery pit in your backyard.  The banks actually consider this profit money that they have to give make the President and the lawyers happy.  So they need to make the money back up.  You can anticipate....various fees and angles will be created for new homeowners over the next regain the twenty-five billion for the banks.

So in the end.....other than a great five-star press conference with the President.....there's really not much in this story.....except $1400 that you will spend on a new refrigerator, a new set of rims and tires for the pick-up, or a full-up week in Vegas with Wanda, your wife.

Oh, and all the new incentives and deals for banks to re-write your bank loan crap?  Well....the question is....are we at the absolute bottom of the pit, or could dig a bit more and make this financial pit forty feet which case....a re-write just gets you to round two of the mortgage issue.   Just something to think about.

The Contraception Dilemma

I've sat and watched this White House comedy for several days, and finally came to a fair analogy.

You are the President and have ordered all Ford owners....when your headlights go return to Ford and only have Ford mechanics swap out your bulbs....even if the car or truck is twenty-two years old.  You naturally have to pay dealer prices, to have first-rate bulb service done.  You aren't happy about the President getting into your Ford maintenance business.

So the President wakes up and realizes that he's upset a number of Ford owners.  So he whips out an executive order (not a law, just his order, which he can amend later if he desires).  The new executive order is that you must utilize the Ford dealer for your broken headlight, but Ford will pay for the headlight out of their own pocket.

Everyone is happy over the decision....mostly because they don't have to pay Ford $61 to change their broke headlight bulb.  But eventually, some idiot from Alabama will stand up and ask a stupid question will Ford pay for the broke bulbs and the three minutes of maintenance time involved?  The answer?  They will make everyone who buys a new pay $600 ensure there's enough money in the pot for free light bulbs for the life of the Ford vehicle.

At this point, everyone will turn to the President and his car czar.....who will both be grinning now and not saying much.  Ford will be shaking their head because they didn't want any of this to start with, and no one in the White House can explain how this all became a priority.

Adding to this analogy.....there is this one obvious problem here.  This free contraception pill deal.....only helps women.  There's no one out there ready to mandate that all guys get fifty condoms each month from their insurance company.....for their birth control method.  The cost for the package of fifty manly high-strength condoms?  Probably near $70.....three times what it'd cost for the women's package deal.

Obviously, there's a good deal here for someone, if you think about this long enough.

Oh, and for the long-strategy folks.  Let's say that President Obama wraps up business in 2016, and some Republican idiot from Texas who shows as the next President, and decides that insurance companies don't have to be forced to cover this.  The odds of this one announcement being used for a four-year anti-President rant and having him kicked out in 2020?  Better than ninety percent chance.  Now that we've shoved this four-hundred ton boulder up to the top of the mountain....anyone who changes bits and pieces....faces a mountain of trouble as they try to change or modify the package.

Simply Observations

I've sat and watched this Administration birth control argument this week.  Opening up an argument with the Catholic Church (which ends up with the Southern Baptist crowd eventually)....was not that bright.  You end up with Priests and Bishops hyping up their seventy million members, and in an election year....that really screws up things.  The President will end up back-tracking....which will irritate his faithful anti-Catholic crowd who were expecting to take the church down a notch.  But I'll offer this one prospective on the whole mess.  If you were to buy a whole month of pills and pay full price at a discount'd be talking about $20-$25.  What most women get in their health insurance this really great discount price of $5, and's just plain free.  So they all think this is the way to go.....but then you have to think.....who is paying the missing $20 (if the price was $5)?  Someone is paying it, and it's not the President's imaginary friend Gus.  And the amazing missing part of the story?  If a guy came up and said he wanted twenty-five free condoms each month as part of his birth-control plan.....there just ain't any healthcare policy that would give out such a deal.  So it's all mostly a  plus-up deal for women, and the President.

Very shortly, the Pentagon will open up 14k jobs to women, which were traditionally manly jobs.  These all relate to combat, and the basic idea is that the Pentagon is more willing now to accept women in combat.  The truth here is.....if you recruit the right folks and train the right doesn't matter if they are men or women.....they will kill you in a heartbeat, if necessary.  This may shock a few folks who still have the 1950's idea of women, but in the last thirty years.....things have changed.  My advice to any future adversary.....if being killed by a woman bothers you or your religious might want to find a safe place and just act friendly toward folks.  Otherwise, we may have Ms Rambo knocking at your front door.

Finally, they announced the end to House MD.  This spring will be the end of the series.  To be honest, I think the peak was the spring of 2010, and this season has been one of the most marginal periods for the show that I can remember.  The problem with good shows....if that no one really knows or grasps the best time to retire.  And in this case....we've got two lousy seasons at the end of a series....which are worthless.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

The Bottle Millionaire?

If you ever go out to Arizona, one of the chief attractions that you want to the Grand Canyon.  Now, there is this interesting aspect of traveling around Arizona....your need for water.

I spent almost four years living there, and came to realize early on, that you always needed a bottle of water with you in the car.  Even in March....temperatures around the state hang near 90 degrees already.  Even up at the Canyon area....temperatures in July can be fairly close to a hundred degrees.

This week, the folks who run the park at the Grand Canyon....decided that they had a problem and they had to fix it.  There were too many plastic bottles around the roads and parking areas.  So they've banned the sale of water in plastic bottles within the park.

There will be around a dozen "water-stations" placed within the Canyon park area.  You can drive up....pull  out your plastic bottle that you have with you, and refill it.  This is being force you into changing your habits (at least the park folks think this).

It's a curious thing.  I read on and checked various sources.  The concessionaire business in the park can still sell Pepsi, Coke and Mountain Dew (in bottles or cans).  They still offer Lipton Ice Tea, and forty-four different diet, pretend-to-diet, or almost-diet drinks.  And you can still apparently buy lots of coffee in small or large plastic cups.  Just no water in bottles.

It's an odd change to the way folks arrive to see the Canyon.  When you go back to the 1800s and how just about everyone had a canteen that they dragged around with them and they all sipped pretty lousy-tasting water (mostly because the age of the canteen, and the general source of water in the first place).

We have become accustomed to Wal-Mart water, Piggly Wiggly water, Alaskan glacier water, Canadian water, almost-Sulfer-Springs water, purified water, gaseous bubbles water, French glacier water (my favorite), diet water, and even peachy-tasting water.  I'm guessing that the Canyon folks just won't be able to offer this variety at their various water-stations, and folks will be dismayed.

So in the weeks to come....this guy is going to open up a water shop about a mile outside the Grand Canyon park....called H20-Plus.  He'll sell one hundred and sixty-eight different varieties of water, all in plastic bottles.  Folks will buy it by the case....because of the sign out front...."last stop for real water before the Canyon".  My guess is that the Canyon management folks won't notice much of a change with fewer bottles laying around roads and parking lots.  They may cite statistics or just smile to say it's a evolving thing, but no matter what....their plan will be a success.  And the water dude outside the park?  He'll be a millionaire within two years....just selling stupid fizzy water glacier water, in plastic bottles.

Only in America.

The Snow That Never Came

Ever since the mini six-hour blizzard that Washington DC suffered in 2011....everyone is hyper in the region about the prediction for snow.  Our little miniature blizzard from last year was an awkward episode.  It was never supposed to reach DC, but it did.  The temperature really wasn't much below 31 degrees, but the snow came down in such abundance and turned into a huge amount of slush.  So when the government did agree to send folks home by 2PM, it was already too late.  Some folks didn't get home until 10PM that night.  Sadly, there probably wasn't more than three or four inches that fell, and in Alaska.....folks would just laugh over a situation like that.

So today, the weather folks came up with this awkward snow prediction, that sounded fairly similar to the 2011 episode.  By 10AM, they had decided to let folks do liberal leave or work from home.  So around lunch, a huge herd of folks just packed and left their government offices in DC.

I didn't even find out about the liberal leave policy until almost 1:30 in the afternoon.  I checked the weather temperature, and we were still around 37 degrees.  Nothing made sense about this at all.

When I finally left around 4PM....I came to find a steady drizzle, and the temperature was still around 37 degrees.  Still no snow.  The weather guys were talking about real snow to the southern valley region of Virginia and up into Maryland.....but the entire mess had missed us.  The eighth of February will be forever noted for the mini-blizzard that never was, and not much else.

My Job

This is a true story.

I work in the bowels of the Pentagon, in deepest part of the to the bedrock.  I work in a vaulted area which has the regular entry doors, and this extra set of double-doors as a back entrance.  You only open up the back-entrance when you have pallets of equipment to bring into the area....otherwise, they stay shut all the time.

Normally, up until the last week.....when we opened the double-doors.....we called up the Pentagon security guys....Gus, Joe and Betty Lou.....who just asked us to spell our names and noted the time we opened the alarmed back-door area.  This week, they decided to shift us over to a closer security detail....which is made up of all US military folks, who are pretty hardcore dedicated to the idea of protecting "something" (it could be a tent, a merry-go-round, or nuclear plant.....they take it all pretty serious).

So I've got a pallet of stuff that has arrived at the door and I need to open bring it in.  I called up the new number and "Sarge" answers.  I let Sarge know that I'm in such-and-such room and that I'm opening up the door.  There's a pause here....because I'm expecting him to ask for the spelling of my name.

But no, Sarge comes back....asking me who ordered me to open this door.

I'm from I'm pausing here for about ten seconds....thinking of this question as trick situation.  I finally answer...."well, I ordered myself to open the door".

I can tell that Sarge wasn't expecting that, and it took him about ten seconds to grasp what I meant by that. So then he asks...."why are you opening the door?"

I'm pausing again, thinking that this is trick question number two, and then answer...."well, to get to the other side".

I'm getting the impression that Sarge is not happy with my answers.  He comes at me now with rapid fire, organization, rank, favorite NFL team, best NCAA bowl game, etc.  I eventually help him fill out a half page of various topics and answers.  Then he finally says that I have his approval to open the door.

After I finished up my business....I called the same number and got junior Sarge, who just wrote the room number down, and thanked me.  Maybe I was just lucky.....I'm not sure.  I know that we really need first class protection in the Pentagon and am fairly proud of the folks who walk around....prepared to take on any threat without question.  But bluntly, I don't them want asking too many questions in the performance of their jobs.  And if they start asking stupid's pretty good odds that I'm just not going to answer them the right way.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The World of Fairness

Vincent Giordano has an interesting job.  He's the head guy for the New Jersey Education Association, the teacher's union in Jersey.  Sometimes....he gets called in to do an interview, and folks ask stupid questions.  So Vincent got this question.....why he didn't like the idea of giving vouchers to lower income them a chance to take Johnny Junior out of the local crappy public school and move him into a successful private school situation.  Vincent sat there for a moment, and basically said: “Life’s not always fair.”

This quote got out.  Folks are looking at Vincent, who makes over $300k a year as the union chief, and looking at this comment of "life's not always fair."  Folks aren't happy about the comment.

I sat and pondered over this.  I grew up in the 1970s and you didn't really have a bunch of folks running around, and talking about making life for everyone.  Kids got failing test grades.  Some folks still had outdoor toilets.  Some folks still burned coal in a fireplace because they couldn't afford anything else.  Some kids never went onto college because there just wasn't money for it.  Some guys had crappy third-rate chainsaws because that was all they could afford.  Some guys still drove 15-year old Ford pick-ups because that was all they could afford.  Some folks considered Campbell's soup to be a 4-star meal....mostly because that was all they could afford.  Some folks drunk Schlitz Beer because that was mostly all they could afford.

Sometime in the past twenty years....folks have come around to a silly notion that life is fair.  Somehow....someway....we've all earned the fairness deal.  My humble guess is that half the American population is walking around in some daze....believing that fairness will come to them.

The more I thought about Vincent's comments....the more I kind of agreed with him.  There just isn't any fairness in life.  If you are unhappy with your public school and virtually poor.....then tough luck.  You can move to another state and restart your life, or just accept the crapped up situation you've got.  The union and the teachers don't really care one way or another about getting better.  Their priority is simple.....find more money....for pensions, pay, and benefits.

So as you sit around tonight....fantasizing about your fairness level in life, you ought to think about this...up until the 1990s, there was no fairness in life.  George Washington accomplished everything in his life without fairness.  People crossed the plains and in some cases....died while crossing the plains, without fairness.  Men landed on the beaches of Normandy to fight the Nazis, and some died, without fairness.  Some folks were in the Twin Towers on the wrong day, and met up with a world without fairness.  Some guys stood up in the Alamo, and met their life's destiny without fairness.  Lewis and Clark crossed America, without fairness.

We've done pretty good without fairness.  Maybe that says something.