Thursday, 31 May 2012

The Old Military Worries

Today, it came out that an article appeared over several Air Force women, who were breastfeeding in public, while in uniform.  Naturally, this bothered a bunch of folks, and then made a bunch of folks all happy.  I looked at the picture, and figured I'd avoid using it.....because too many guys from Bama would freak out over such a picture.

After twenty-two years in the Air Force, I retired in 1999.  I've kinda been around the installations for the past thirteen years, and can attest to the fact that things just aren't like they were in 1977 when I joined.  There were typically ten big worries for a commander or the superintendent.

First, there was the worry that Airman Snuffy would show disrespect to the retreat ceremony at 4:30 PM each afternoon....while walking from the office to the dorm.  Typically, the disrespect meant that he just kept on walking when he was supposed to stop and salute.  Or, you'd have a case where Snuffy just stood there in uniform but wouldn't salute.  Or you'd have a case where Snuffy was pointing the wrong direction from where the base flagpole was located.  This would get Colonel Guffy and Sargent Peacock.....all disturbed.

Second, there was the worry that Airman Jones would be seen at the BX by Major Monty at 2:00 PM.  The Major would call up and report the Airman, who obviously was not at work, and screwing around.  This would disturb Colonel Guffy and Sargent Peacock terribly.  Course, they never bothered to ask Major Monty what the heck he was doing at the BX at 2:00 PM.

Third, there would be the episode where Airman Perkins was seen at the commissary with hair touching his ears.  Some retired NCO would call up Colonel Guffy and Sargeant Peacock, and they'd get all disturbed about his hair length.

Fourth, there would be lustful Airman Prince, who was seen with a military skirt that was higher than three inches above her knee.  Someone would call Colonel Guffy or Sargeant Peacock up.....getting both gentlemen to to pull out their tape-measure and check out the top of her knee to the actual hem of the dress.  She'd naturally grin at both guys as they were doing this.  Both gentlemen would argue over the extra half inch and if it was worth getting after her.

Fifth, there was always the guy who acquired a vast amount of wood paneling over the weekend and completely redid the walls to his barracks room in wood paneling (strictly illegal), and some dorm manager would inspect to discover this....then call up Colonel Guffy or Sargeant Peacock.....and there's be this fifteen minute viewing episode where they'd ask how he did all this....before they blasted him.

Sixth, there's the airman who bought a ultra-light at some sale with a busted motor.  He spends all weekend rebuilding the engine, and then ties the ultra-light up to the end of the barracks and runs the RPM up to maximum with forty people watching in disbelief at the ultra-light which might lift off at any moment.  Naturally, some idiot calls Colonel Guff or Sargent Peacock.....and there's some massive regulation that was broken in doing this repair out back of the barracks. (note: this actually did happen at Barksdale).

Seventh, there's Airman Vargas who is on his day off.....in the barracks while an inspection suddenly occurs. As the door flies open, there's some officer's wife in the Airman's bunk and in a state of undress.  Naturally, Colonel Guffy or Sargent Peacock get a call, and spend an hour trying to figure the fine details to this, and who the woman was.

Eighth, there's the drunken fight between three female airman on a Saturday night.....which starts from a argument over who stole one young ladies $10 panties from the dryer.  Colonel Guffy and Sargent Peacock both get called out and eventually discover that some male airman actually took the panties.

Ninth, both Colonel Guffy and Sargent Peacock get called out at 1AM on a Saturday night, where sixteen fire extinguishers were used in a massive barracks fight.  From everyone's memory....there's only six fire extinguishers in the entire building.....so there's this long night of trying to figure where the others came from.

Tenth and final.....Colonel Guffy and Sargent Peacock get called at 9:00 AM that twelve of the squadron's vehicles are at the back of the bowling alley on base.....with folks eating breakfast when they were supposed to be working.

In those days.....you got into real trouble.....for real stupid things.  Today?  Two woman at a bench on base, nursing babies, and Colonel Guffy and Sargent Peacock really lacking ambition to get involved in a mess like this.

Might Not Be a Bad Thing

Over the past couple of years, the news media has piped up about folks having to move back in with the parents.  It's a terrible thing....in some ways.  But I suspect in the long run....it may be the best thing that could happen to an individual.  They get picked up and put into a safe environment, recover from their status-fall in life, and hopefully rebuild themselves to leave the house.

I sat and pondered over this.....if I were the guy (at age 53) having to move back into parent's home.

First, I'd likely be watching Andy Griffith, Judge Judy, and Seinfeld in the afternoons.  This might not be a bad thing.

Second, my dad would likely already be up by 4AM and asking if I wanted beacon or sausage for breakfast.  Naturally, I'd be falling asleep by 8PM in the evening hours.  There'd be fresh baked biscuits with the bacon.  This might not be a bad thing.

Third, other than milk, water and ice tea.....there wouldn't be anything else to drink.  This might not be a bad thing.

Fourth, there'd likely be at least four hours of farm work everyday as a minimum.  This might not be such a bad thing.

Fifth, I'd be eating most beef for every lunch and dinner, and going through a bottle of A1 Sauce each week.  This might not be such a bad thing.

Sixth, my dad would likely toss out forty or fifty bits of wisdom in any average day.....which might not be such a bad thing.

Seventh, on any given day....the septic tank might finally reach maximum capacity or need replacing, which means a full day of some type of physical labor.  This might not be such a bad thing.

Eighth, the obsessive compulsive dog.....might demand that I repeat things as much as possible and not create new trends.  This might not be such a bad thing.

Ninth, most folks who stop by and chat with my dad.....would be literal characters out of the TV show Green Acres.  This might not be such a bad thing.

Tenth and final, with the lack of excitement....my blood pressure would likely decrease by fifty percent and this is really not bad thing.

Just Observations

It's a minor thing of no real value....but CNN delivered it's lowest month of viewing over the past week...around 389k viewers out of 300 million.  Even for prime-time viewing....they somehow found 114k viewers.  I would imagine most folks haven't seen a pay raise in several years with CNN.  How would they reverse the trend?  They probably need to generate real aggressive journalism.....something they haven't seen in twenty years.  Basically, they'd need to outfox Fox News, and I just don't think they have it in themselves.  In a couple of years, I think some diet-drink millionaire will buy the organization and probably Oprah-ize them into nothing.

Out of West Virginia....a Pentecostal minister of known fame.....messed around with his serpent (his most favorite rattlesnake).....got bit on the leg.....and died.  Rather than seek treatment, he felt God would come through in the end, and is today six feet under.  I don't usually slam religious folks because strong Bama ethics.....but a guy handling snakes as a religious "thrill"....is probably deserving of an end like this.  Don't worry, there's a replacement somewhere down the line for this guy already.

Up in St Paul, Minnesota....there's this church.....Grace Community United Church of Christ Church.....where the minister decided that he was confident in a new direction for the church.  He announced that the church would throw itself behind gay marriage, which is coming up on the state election business this November.  Well....apparently two-thirds of the church membership decided that wasn't the direction they wanted to go, so they up and quit.  Normally, a church wouldn't care and just grin about things and proceed on.  In this case....they owed $200k on loans for the church building.  They apparently have around a month before the bank steps in and probably takes over the building.  Where did the membership run off to?  Well....none of the news organizations got into details like that.  The problem in moving to a direction like this....is that you end up politicizing the church in some way.  Some folks are conservative and just aren't going to sit in a pew and listen to your message.  Obviously, the minister and deacons didn't care.  The interesting thing here....is that the deacons, when kicked out of this church....won't have good standing for another deacon position at a new church.

We had this odd airplane accident a couple of days ago here in Virginia.  Two small single-engine prop planes....collided.  Two guys dead on one plane....and the third guy in the second plane survives but in bad shape.  The thing is....all three were related to the FAA in some fashion.  The odds of two small planes colliding and all three guys FAA-related?  It's like one in a billion.  This triggered what locals are fairly amazed about.....US FAA folks stepped aside and invited Canadian FAA folks to come in and analyze what went wrong.  So, we've got Canadian visitors here in Virginia.... investigating an odd airplane accident that our own FAA can't check out.  Probably a script for a movie, if you ask me (with Sandra Bullock as the Canadian FAA gal of course).

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

My Local Neighborhood

This is an odd sordid story from Virginia, which you won't hear about in the national press.

Back around the morning of 9 February of this year....this woman....Patricia Cook....was in her Jeep Wrangler on North East Street of Culpeper, Virginia.  For some odd reason, which we will never know why.....she stopped and just parked there on the street.

As far as anyone knows.....she didn't know anyone around the neighborhood.  There was a school nearby, but it was what you'd consider a residential area.  Based on comments by the locals on the news.....it appears like that she just plain stopped and was sitting there....waiting on something, but you aren't sure of what.

A cop car pulls up....where Daniel Harmon-Wright (32 years old) is now about to forever change his life.  There's something that he perceives as weird here, but he has never indicated what.  Illegal activities?  A drug purchase?  Well....there's no evidence of that.  Suspicious?  A older woman in a newer jeep?

Daniel makes the decision to walk up and engage Ms Cook....saying that he asked for a license and registration.  In his words....she apparently freaks out.....and tries to crank the jeep to leave.  The cop says that he placed his arm inside the jeep, and tried to turn the key off.  She attempted to roll the window up and continue on (so he says), and he then pulled a pistol to shoot Ms Cook dead.

It was a good scripted story and I suspect that it would have been good enough for the local cops.  The problem is....a witness or two existed.  And they were in the line-of-sight.....seeing no arm inside of the window, and Daniel simply grabbed his pistol at the right moment, and shot her through the glass.  The witnesses are clearing up the cop's story, and making his version look bogus.

So days, and weeks passed.  The husband of Ms Cook expected the cops to sort through this within two to three weeks, and arrest their cop.  The local cops just weren't doing that.  So three months pass.

Today, a grand jury finally decided that the cop's story is not good enough, and he will face charges.  Along the way of the investigation.....the state guys end up finding this evidence where Daniel Harmon-Wright's mom.... approximately five years ago....was a secretary for the local town police department, and arranged for her's son's application to float through the system easily.  There were three obvious problems (past arrests and convictions apparently), that should have hindered and stopped his hiring.  But she fixed that issue, so junior got a great cop job.

Mom has been arrested now with some minor charges.  We aren't sure what the past problem were.....maybe in high school....maybe in college....but you just don't know.  It would appear, that it was sufficient to ensure that Daniel shouldn't have been a cop.

It's hard to say the end result.  I doubt that the case comes up this year for trial....maybe early spring of next year.  Most locals in Culpeper are a bit disturbed by the whole mess now.  The charges will be murder, malicious shooting into an occupied vehicle, use of a pistol in the commission of a felony, and a malicious shooting into a vehicle resulting in death.  If you added this up.....figuring a light charge of second-degree murder....maybe the guy gets fifteen years in prison (my humble guess on this).

The problem about this whole mess...is why Patricia Cook ever stopped at that particular point, and why this cop decided to pull up and mess with her.  There is something else to this story.....some piece that would explain why two people happen to meet at the wrong place and wrong time, and invite a terrible thing to occur.

Somehow, in my gut....I get that odd feeling that both had met before.  Don't know why.....don't know how....just a gut feeling.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

The Zombie Wave

Out in Miami, on Saturday afternoon....the cops came up on this weird scene. Here was one naked guy laying on the street, and a second naked guy on top of him....appearing to chew on his body parts. No, nothing about sex here....more like a zombie situation.

Naturally, the cops stop and want to get the zombie guy on top off the poor other guy. Well...the zombie guy gets up (naked of course) and begins to march or walk toward the cop....grunting. The cop made one of this life decisions...shooting the zombie guy dead. From the first guy on the street, he was missing most of his nose and his eyeballs apparently.

The cops spent most of the weekend trying to figure out this mess.  The zombie dead guy?  Well....he was doped up on bath salts.  The doctors say that a guy who gets really fixed up on the stuff.....mostly takes off his clothing, then goes into a whacked up state of mind....thinking he might be a zombie or Iron-man  or even VP Joe Biden.  On top of that, the guy or gal usually pumps up his physical strength by thirty to forty percent.  This means a guy who is 180 pounds....suddenly has the strength and power of a 240-lb guy.

The cop in this case....probably had about five seconds before the zombie dude was on him, and would have torn him into pieces....even if a taser had been used.

So I sat and pondered over this.  A guy from Bama typically doesn't mean characters like this....anywhere.  Now you kinda toss in this odd scenario.....you get hungry and stop off at some bar-b-q shack....and some bath-salts dude has arrived and launches into his zombie attack.  Last week, there was pretty much zero chance of this, and now?  Well....there's that one-percent chance of you running into a zombie dude.

If you ask, there's a ton of reasons now to carry something more than just a taser, or a small caliber pistol.  You really need a shotgun or a 44-caliber type weapon within reach of your front seat now.  The minute you observe some nutty woman or gal....nude....and walking in a manner that looks threatening....you can count off the seconds before you need to shoot them.

This is not the kind of thing that society is prepared to do.  And so, I'm wondering how exactly we will all motivate ourselves to change ourselves.

Those Americans Eternally Resting

This is a piece of history that most American historians really don't like to discuss, but is a strange curious piece of American history. In the early 1960s.....the US and France got into a disagreement. It was bad enough, that France would actually walk itself out of NATO. It was bad enough that any and all US military personnel on French soil, would have to leave (in a hurry, in fact). So in this delicate period, where talks were being held almost daily between the US and France....on how we would withdraw, and the timetable involved....President Johnson got involved in the mess. It's best to say that LBJ was a true Texan of sort, and never short on making comments to inflame a situation twice as much as it really was. The Secretary of State (Dean Rusk) got into a meeting with LBJ where the final details were to be put to paper, to work out with French President DeGaulle in attendance at the meeting. What LBJ demanded to be mentioned....was if ALL Americans had to actually be removed, including the ones buried in France. Dean Rusk absolutely didn't want to put this to paper, but LBJ demanded this. So there is this list of final details about the Americans leaving France, and President Charles DeGaulle is sitting there....as they come to this one final detail....which apparently was dropped to like the final item of discussion in these delicate talks. You can imagine the American at the table....having to ask this in a pleasant way....if DeGaulle wanted all sixty-thousand-plus American soldiers buried in France to be removed as well. It probably took around eight seconds for this entire statement to be translated into French. There probably was this utter moment of amazement that DeGaulle has....in some idiot American asking such a question. DeGaulle apparently got up and simply left the room, without answering the question. My humble guess is that he probably was a bit shocked that someone would ask such a question, and probably hopeful that this never got out into the French press. The graves? Well....they stayed and are attended to by US employees to even this day, and will be for eternity. Thousands of Americans make the trip over to France and will likely visit some of these graves...especially around the Normandy area. Others come over because one of their kin-folks were amongst those left in France. The truth is....we wouldn't dare disturb their resting place, and I don't think the French would want them removed either. They've earned their eternal resting place.

Monday, 28 May 2012

One Brief Moment


Somewhere out on an open plain in the very beginning, there was this meeting between first wild horse and God.

God settled his eyes upon the horse, and felt that what he delivered…was not quiet enough. Without saying much, God spoke and said the horse could roam as far as he wanted….from where the Sun rose…..to where the Sun set. The wild horse stood there, not saying much.

God then decided that he still hadn’t given quiet enough to the wild horse. So without saying much, God spoke and said that he’d bring fresh mountain water down to the plain in the form of rivers, streams and creeks. The wild horse stood there, not saying much.

God then decided that he still hadn’t given quiet enough to the wild horse. So without saying much, God spoke and said he’d bring the cool refreshing rains down occasionally….to cool the wild horse on hot days. The wild horse stood there, not saying much. God then decided that he still hadn’t given quiet enough to the wild horse.

So without saying much, God spoke and said he’d lay out an abundance of grass for the wild horse. The wild horse stood there, not saying much.

God then decided that he still hadn’t given quiet enough to the wild horse. So without saying much, God spoke and said he bring up an occasional breeze and give the wild horse the most fresh air that you could possibly imagine.

The wild horse stood there, and finally spoke. He really hadn’t asked for anything much to start with. He felt kind shamed by all these amazing things that God had generously given. He couldn’t think of anything to give in return.

And God spoke up….that just the image of the wild horse across his wondrous landscape….was enough in return. And the two parted ways….each thankful for what the other had given in return.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Clubs, and the Air Force

The day I finished up basic training….they put us on a bus and whisked us off to Sheppard AFB, Texas…..and that evening….I walked into my first ever enlisted club. At the front door….I learned that I had to join up, but it was merely a buck, and beyond those doors….was this vast empire of folks sitting around and consuming beverages. It was the beginning of a long observation period.

Sheppard offered this unique prospective where a guy could sit and sip…..watch others sip twice and three times as much, then getting into fights over the simplest of things. About three months in Sheppard, I realized that best place to be was the back of the barracks on a Friday night at midnight. There would be guys attempting to walk across an open field and a parking lot….to the barracks.

You’d see guys falling left and right. Then you’d see guys fall flat on their face on the paved parking lot. Sadly, it was a version of entertainment for a guy from Bama.

In 1978, I arrived at Rhein Main Air Base, and found the next observation….the database. These folks on base were awful serious about you paying your monthly fee ($3). By the eighth of the month….this print-out would occur and get shipped around to forty organizations on base….where your boss would eventually call you and let you know that you hadn’t paid. The hint here….was that you had to be a member…..to be in “good” with the leadership. Nothing about this made sense to me.

In two years at Rhein Main, I stepped into their club a total of four times. The yearly $36? Totally wasted, if you ask me.

The place was like some joint that you’d imagine in a 1947 world drama. Cigarette butts were tossed around on the floor and you generally felt a relief to walk out of the place because of the smoke. There was absolutely nothing that you should eat from their menu.

In 1980, I arrived at McChord Air Force Base, Washington. As a senior airman, you were supposed to hang out at the airman’s club….where there were no monthly charges….shocking, I know. This was a 60 by 60 foot room and the only real attraction to the place was this $1 a pitcher deal for beer from 5PM to 7PM. You could sit there and drink one or two of these, then walk back to the barracks. I probably was at the McChord club for twenty or thirty visits over the thirteen months at the base.

The only fights that you ever noticed at the club was usually between husbands and wives…don’t ask why….it just seemed to happen at least once a weekend.

In 1981, I arrived at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana. To be honest….over the two to three years there…..I never stepped inside the club a single time. No one talked about fees. And the only thing I knew about the club was that it barely operated.

In 1984, I arrived at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The fee business had gone to $6 a month, but suddenly I found this odd place where they had live bands six nights a week, with no cover charges. They actually brought out bands from the US and you might have a thousand people in the entire club on a Friday night. Cash flow from slot machines? Well….a minimum profit of $25k a week would be my estimate. Whatever they took in….they put it into the operation and gave folks a reason to hang out.

Ramstein was where I started to notice the amount of alcohol consumption surging to a degree. On any given night, I’d estimate that fifty people walked out and were legally drunk….and they drove home. You could sense that some event was about to occur….to curtail the club system. Folks were getting way beyond an acceptable point.

Across the street was the annex (Freds Lounge), where they designed this nifty new video-game and bar atmosphere to entice younger folks to hang out. It was supposed to be a trendy place. I walked into the annex on opening night in 1984, and thought this might be an interesting place. It was a year later when I went back the second time…..to find half the lights dimmed, some pretty weird folks hanging out at the bar, two gals dancing with themselves, and if you asked what a gay bar would be like at a military base…..this would be the exact description. I ordered up a burger….stood around at the bar, and ate as quickly as possible when they served it. Then I left. I had a dozen people over the past twenty years describe Freds Lounge in the same fashion. How and why they made Fred’s Lounge into that….I shall never know.

In 1986, I arrived at Howard Air Base, Panama. They didn’t charge anything to be at the Howard club, as I remember it. The odd thing at Howard was the ratio of women to men……almost a ratio of 12 women to 10 men. The base was totally open and a Panamanian gal could easily get into the club. Our club was also open to the local Marine guys….who made confrontations interesting. Howard also offered the finest fried chicken joint that I have ever come across. I admit, the grease literally dripped off the chicken. It was the batter that they used….making it twice as thick as anything KFC could offer.

In 1989, I arrived at Davis-Mothan Air Force Base, Arizona. This was the turning point of clubs in the Air Force. First, booze consumption had suddenly become a major issue across the whole Air Force….so $1 a pitcher nights disappeared. Cheap booze? Gone. They had to offer some kind of food on the bar and that cost money. So the money fees went up. Bingo? Oh, that became an issue on gambling. Eventually, they’d agree that they had to allow bingo back into the club. The monthly fee? Up to around $8.

DM was where the monthly day-off (our goal day) suddenly became a wing-commander topic. The club survived off Fridays….for some odd reason. So a goal day simply couldn’t be on a Friday. Folks for some reason….weren’t happy with days off being continually on a Monday. There would be continued arguments about this….where the club manager would argue with the wing-commander. The DM club was essentially broke by the second year I was there. They were demanding absolute membership, and doing everything possible to force people to utilize the club…..even for Christmas parties. Our unit had a tremendous deal worked up with a restaurant just off the base…..and then we were ordered to utilize the NCO club instead ($300 savings wiped out by this directive).

In 1992, I arrived at Bitburg. To be honest….I quit the club about six months after arriving there. This fee business had become insulting in several ways. They were also switching over to credit cards....as part of their fee deal.  You had no choices....if you were to be a member....the credit card was part of the whole deal.

In 1993, I arrived at Ramstein, for my final tour. I never joined the club. In five years….I probably at lunch at the club on three occasions over five years. The Ramstein enlisted club was in a pitiful state of affairs….barely making money, and begging congress to allow them to build a new facility. Eventually, they got the new enlisted club.

The best I can about the new club….it was never planned well (the refrigeration unit was probably half the size of what they needed). The food enterprise? Well….it was popular but the cost for a family of four jumped to $50 easily. For a lousy shrimp salad….it was around $16. The breakfast offerings? It was a 2-star menu, and your plate usually ran around $8. I asked folks about profits on Friday nights….which mostly got a laugh.

No one much from the office of a dozen enlisted folks…..ever went over to the club. The club had actually gone out and hired an entertainment person….who hustled up these ideas of a dating game situation as ‘free’ entertainment. They could actually get two hundred folks to come in and at least watch this, and consume a drink or two. Beyond that…..I doubt if the club really makes any money today at all….except for the slot machine empire. Entertainment? Well….occasionally, they will bring someone out, but there’s always a cover fee per person now for that.

For a guy who grew up in a dry county……I end up with this odd prospective of what military clubs are all about. To me….it was a place to observe the various aspects of life.

You haven’t really witnessed a good fight until you have two drunk women fight over some guy (not even their husband), while he is mostly passed out at some table. Drunk women, tend to fight in a nasty fashion, if you haven’t witnessed such a thing.

You haven’t really witnessed a great argument until you see two women in a slot machine area arguing over a ‘lucky’ machine in the corner, which has yet to pay out.

You haven’t really witnessed bad behavior until you’ve seen one husband and wife….whoop up on another husband and wife…..mostly over moving their drinks from one part of the bar to another.

You haven’t seen anything much in life till you’ve seen a guy consume three boxes of fried chicken and then toss back ten shots of some cheap booze, and then toss the chicken up on the floor.

You haven’t ever noted the effect of pavement on a guy’s face….until you’ve seen some guy who has fallen down in a parking lot six times before he reaches the front door.

You haven’t noted the true meaning of “I’m sorry” until you’ve seen some officer’s date climbing into his car, then dumping her cookies all over the floor of the car while in a fairly drunken state.

You could live your entire life in Bama…..in a dry county…..and missed out on things in life that give you a different prospective in life. So in a way, you needed a twist of the lemon….to see reality.

Email Addresses

This week….they came to us in the office and forced us all to have new email addresses. They decided that we could have the same address….for the rest of our lives. Yep, we could move from office to office, from the Navy to the Army, from Hawaii to Alice Springs, Australia….and we’d just always have the same email address.

So there was some issues with this.

If you were Carl A. Smith under the old system…..then it was simple, you were carl.smith@pentagon.mil.

Under the new system, you became carl.a.smith.civ@mail.mil, and if there were multiple Carl’s, then you were carl.a.smith38.civ@mail.mil.

You can imagine walking into the office and discovering that you are Carl number 38 now. Folks with unusual names, Chunky Berry, were lucky folks…..there just isn’t another Chunky Berry around. I was one of those folks….there’s just one of me in the whole US military.

These are typically things that just don’t come up in a guy’s life. You could live out sixty-five years in Red Bay, Bama…..never thinking about some guy in the local area who had your same exact name. In fact, in the old days….most guys ended up with some nickname (“Rufus”, “Lefty”, “Chevy”, “Yank”, “Sarge”, or “Squeaky”). Then you were awful unique anyway.

In this mighty big world…..things have become slightly more complicated than they were last week.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Your Einstein Team

Based on the reality of Washington and our current political agenda…..

If your car’s transmission was all screwed up….you’d best call a Senator and have him organize a committee to figure out why it was screwed up, who to blame, and to chat about it for half an hour on Sunday with two dimwits from CNN.

If your washing machine was broke….you’d best call a Senator and him organize a committee to figure out why it was screwed up, who to blame, and to chat about it for half an hour on Monday night with an idiot from CBS news.

If your septic tank is overfilled…. you’d best call a Senator and him organize a committee to figure out why it was full up, who to blame, and to chat about it for half an hour on Tuesday night with an idiot from ABC news.

If your dog was foaming at the mouth…. you’d best call a Senator and him organize a committee to figure out why Spike was foaming, who to blame, and to chat about it for half an hour on Tuesday night with an idiot from MSNBC news.

If your garden was being raided by rabbits and deer…. you’d best call a Senator and him organize a committee to figure out why it was screwed up, who to blame, and to chat about it for half an hour on Wednesday night with an idiot from NBC news.

If your kid was in a math class at school, with a teacher as stupid as a brick…. you’d best call a Senator and him organize a committee to figure out why idiot teachers are in the school, who to blame, and to chat about it for half an hour on Thursday night with an idiot from USA Today.

If your dentist mistakenly yanked the wrong tooth during surgery today…. you’d best call a Senator and him organize a committee to figure out why the dentist was screwed up, who to blame, and to chat about it for half an hour on Friday night with an idiot from the AP.

If your Uncle Karl went nuts and spray-painted your garage with pink paint…. you’d best call a Senator and him organize a committee to figure out why Uncle Karl was that crazy, who to blame, and to chat about it for half an hour on Saturday night with an idiot from Fox news.

Finally, if the NCAA did screw up and not invite Bama or Auburn to the NCAA championship game…..well…. you’d best call a Senator and him organize a committee to figure out why the NCAA bowl process is so screwed up, who to blame, and to chat about it for half an hour on Saturday evening with ESPN folks.

The sad thing is…..there’s just nothing that a Senator can’t do….after you think about this for a while. We ought to have forty thousand Senators instead of just a mere 100.

Three Billion?

The New York Yankees are apparently up for sale.....reportedly for $3 billion.  I'm guessing because  of impending tax issues in the next year....now is the time for the family who owns the Yankees....to cough up a sale and profit off this.

Who buys into this type of situation?  Well....I doubt if any one mortal could afford more than $500 million.....so it's probably one minor guy who partners up with a syndicate of sorts (maybe sixty guys).  If you were holding onto $30 million.....with a chance to get favored seats or a skybox at the stadium....then this just might be the deal of your life....being a minor partner.

But there's other thing to ponder.  2012, the price is $3 billion.  What happens by 2030?  Will the Yankees be worth twenty-five billion?   You could almost buy the entire country of Bolivia for that much money.  And here I'm suggesting that the New York Yankees might be worth that.

The Rest of the US Airways Story

It took another day or so....for the story to fully conclude on that US Airways flight story that I blogged two days ago.  It becomes a kind of comical episode.

The Cameroon gal, who ended up being described as "full-figured, light-skinned, and hair down to the waist" got into some kind of conversation with a stewardess.  It's hard to imagine how this chat starts, but the Cameroon gal ends up talking about a personal body condition....where something in her body is totally out of control, thus hinting that it's a surgically-implanted device....although this was never clear.

Now, if you are a liberal-minded guy, and have traveled outside of the rural south.....you know how some ladies will start talking about bodily functions in a way that would make a Baptist minister kinda upset.  I'm guessing that the Stewardess started taking this conversation in a totally different way.

So at this point....they want to isolate the woman from the folks in the plane.  The pilot ends up asking if there are any doctors onboard.  Typically, you dentist folks can raise your hand.....and even veterinarians can also come forward (just don't say much and refer to yourself as "Doc").

You can imagine this little group of two or three guys who gather in the back.  They might have all been foot doctors on their way to some convention in North Carolina for what we know.  So they come up to the stewardess who relates this story of the device in this passenger's body....which is "totally out of control".

The doctors are all confused.  There just ain't no scars on this Cameroon gal's body.  You can't have a surgically-implanted device in someone....without a scar, unless it's some kind of birth-control device.  Course, they don't mention this idea at the time.

By this point, pilot-Joe is all sweaty and upset in the front of the plane.  He can handle about forty issues an hour, but if you toss in some Cameroon-gal, with a potential threat.....that's a lot of pressure.  So pilot-Joe makes the decision and lands.

The TSA guys now admit, in court.....there just wasn't any threat.  So the best anyone can advise the judge here.....is to send this woman out of the US....back to France.  The crime?  Well....if you stand around and think about this....there just isn't much of anything to get arrested for, or worried about.  I would advise women....to avoid discussing things within their body, which appear to be "out of control".  


A Fly Problem

This was an odd news item which a guy from Bama would appreciate in some fashion.

The folks in charge of public bathrooms in Beijing, China.....the Municipal Commission of City Administration and Environment.....issued out a new directive this week.  It's considered a new new and improve standard for the public.

Basically, when they come around.....inspecting....there should be no mroe than two flys in any stall at the restroom.

Naturally, this got folks in Beijing kinda peppy.....wondering exactly how this would be enforced and if it meant more inspectors would be coming around.  Then the topic came to how they'd count the flys in the stall.  The response from the government has been kind of limited.  They didn't want to admit this was quantitative or absolutely by the book.

Obviously, bathroom flys are bothering folks in China, and it got to the attention of the government folks.

So I sat and pondered over this story.  In Bama, we have this odd fly problem as well.  We tend to utilize various some scientific-type items to limit our fly problem.  A roll here, a roll there, and pretty soon....there just ain't no flys.

Would folks in Bama issue out state rules over this kind of situation?  Well...if it came down to the point where you had sixty flys permanently appearing in some bathroom at some school, and this was documented.....I suspect that we'd start up a rule like this too.  A fly inspector?  Well....yeah, we'd probably appoint some guy in the county.....as fly inspector...give him a pick-up and a clipboard....and just him roam around inspecting public bathrooms.  I admit, there's not much future in a job like this and you pretty will stay in the same line of work for the next thirty years....waiting on retirement from the state.

So this gets me back to the China situation and possible fly inspectors.  I think they have the same problem....too many guys with no job, talent or skills, and you gotta make up a job....to pay them for something.  So you hire up your cousin Hunung and deputize him as the local county fly inspector....give him a pick-up and clipboard....and just let him inspect.  Doesn't matter if you have a problem or not.....it's the philosophy of keeping your cousin employed at something.  Just my humble opinion.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

A Bain Capital Commercial

It's just something silly to think about.  What if?

In this imaginary world....around 2008....some Bain Capital guys walked into Solyndra and bought them out completely...ahead of their campaign kiss-up to the Obama team, thus avoiding a handshake deal and $535 million (half a billion for simplicity's sake).

On day one, Bain buys the company for a pretty good price....fifty percent less than what their CEO says is their worth.

On day two, Bain Capital fires the CEO, and half of the top layer of the management staff.  Nothing personal, but their vision is 180 degrees from reality.

On day five, Bain agrees that the technology is workable, but not in California.  They agree to move the entire plant to Tennessee.  You as an employee, are given this simple offer....come with the plant and get a moving package.  You chose no.....you get a termination notice and two months notice.  You chose yes, and start preparing yourself for Tennessee.

On day sixteen, there's these real estate guys looking over the property in California and willing to pay a fair price.  Bain agrees to sell immediately.

On day twenty, Bain gets some Tennessee state officials to agree to a massive tax relief package, with almost no property tax.  The property that they will be using?  It's all donated by the state....free of charge.  The state even agrees to pave a road and build a parking lot around the new plant....free.

On day thirty, Bain has some Tennessee senator lined up and prepared to give them tax credits in the 2009 budget year.....so they are building and selling solar panels out of Tennessee, with zero federal taxes coming into play.  It's a simple three-line piece that no one even notices in the federal law book.

On day four-hundred, Bain is operating Solyndra at a fair profit.

On day five-hundred, Bain Capital sells their Solyndra operation for $700 million in profit over what they bought the company for.  

The sad thing to this story....Solyndra never gets a chance to squander a half-a-billion from the US government or the tax-payer.

It'd make a great TV commercial.  

This Odd Gal

This is we know.....a US Airways flight from Paris to Charlotte, NC....ended up landing in Maine today.  Some gal onboard......made a comment to a stewardess that she had a device surgically implanted inside her.   Naturally, this kinda perked the stewardess up and got everyone into a excited episode.

Cops came out to the plane in Bangor, and removed the gal.  The plane left....nothing of interest found on the gal.

So I started to dig into this story.  She's a French citizen, but officially....she's from Cameroon.  It's an odd thing....she gets a ten-day ticket to visit the US.  Being a French citizen.....you don't need much of a visa to visit the US.  If you'd been a Cameroon citizen....you'd have to lay out some details and have a different type of visa.

Then there's this odd thing.....no baggage.  She apparently just showed up at some airport and displayed a ticket.  I assume she has some carry-on stuff with her.....but no checked bags.  Who travels from France to North Carolina with no baggage, for ten days?  Well...it's hard to think of someone who would do that.

What's the whole story?  A humble guess.  I'm thinking that some rich wealthy guy from Cameroon....has a US visa and lives all-year-round in North Carolina.  He's married.  His wife came up and will be gone for two weeks.  He has this former girlfriend.....and invites her to fly out immediately to entertain him for the period.  She's a bit naive...packs nothing, and expects to have a suitcase of North Carolina clothing by the end of the ten days. Oh, and she has implants of a certain nature....just not the type that TSA worries about.

The guy who bought the ticket?  He's hoping that some idiot newspaper dopes in North Carolina don't start putting this together and ask his wife for details.  Just a humble opinion.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

DC Comics and the Gay Character

DC Comics came out today and hinted pretty strongly.....that some major character (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Hawkman, Martian Manhunter, the Flash, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Aquaman, Kid Flash, Black Canary, Robin, the Atom, Firestorm, and Batwoman).....will come out as gay.

Don't know who....don't know how.

As a kid, I kinda grew up with comic books.  At one point, I probably had a collection of thousand comics.  If you had tossed in this possible scenario of some gay character.....my first observation would have been how you would have drawn some suggestive scene with Flash coming onto Aquaman, or have Batwoman fall into some lusty affair with Catwoman.  After a scene or two.....you need to start adding text, and then things start getting pretty lusty....if you ask me the perception of a 13-year old kid.  Would Flash even be able to something regular with Aquaman?  Would Batwoman run off to New Orleans with Catwoman and just give up the super-hero business?  Would the two ladies run a lather shop?

You just don't know.

When you finally find out the character....then what?  Would Superman travel to Mars and try to bring back a rehab team for his new gay buddy....Martian Manhunter?  Would there be some mysterious alien box that turns Hawkman into a gay character....which Wonder Woman would always regret being the one finding the box?  Would Kid Flash admit later in six months....that he's had a thing for Hawkwoman (20 years older than Kid Flash), and then create this fancy relationship with a hot 45-year old woman?

There's tons of potential here.  Batman could finally admit that he married trailer trash back twelve years ago and she's returned as Varmite Woman (his arch enemy), and we could have several scenes where they get all hyper about pink flamingos on the wall.

The Flash could mention his various relationships with Brazilian she-males.  Then you could toss in some relationships that Superman had with Wonder Woman....and he had an obsession over her fancy lasso.

The thing here....is that DC Comics just doesn't have the readership it had in 1968.  No one cares about wussy super-heros.  Frankly, I doubt if a gay Flash really means that much.  So they just stand there and re-re-re-invent something, that people just kinda laugh over for a day, and then forget.  And you know somewhere out there by November....will be this character marrying some other character.  And then what?

You just don't know.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Marion Barry

If you live in DC....you pretty much know the history of former mayor Marion Barry, who today, is a city council guy.  He's also in his late 70's, and he's fairly unhealthy in various ways.  This past weekend...he was supposed to fly all the way to Vegas for some event.  He arrives, and immedately has leg pains.  The best that the doctors can say.....is that Marion is suffering from blood clot in his leg.   Part of this comes from the air travel, and part from his unhealthy status.

So Marion in recovery status for the next couple of days, and then the hospital will release him in Vegas.  The question is....how would Marion return to DC?

What I see here....is the epic of all movies...."Traveling with Marion".

Some guy simply holds up his hand and says he'll drive Marion Barry from Vegas to DC.  It's a four-day drive.  There has to be some great stories that Marion is going to cut loose on and probably give you enough material for three books.  It is the opportunity of a lifetime.

I admit.....he probably will sleep an hour here or there....but he's going to tell you some things that you just don't hear from political figures today.

If I could be the right guy, at the right place, with a Crown Victoria...this might be interesting.

Simply Observations

Bain Capital.  There's been a lot of harsh criticism of Bain Capital and their methods over the past month.  So you might need a bit of prospective here.  If Bain Capital showed up at your company back in 1998 or 2002, there's a reason for that.  You were either bankrupt, soon-to-be-bankrupt, or marginally surviving at present.  Bain didn't take over successful companies or extremely profitable companies.  Bluntly, your company was a stinking loser, and might not survive.  So Bain had ways to analyze a company and come to two decisions.  The first decision would be to buy, reorganize, dump unprofitable portions, utilize the pension plan for rebuilding, terminate overpaid employees, fire management, and sell real estate or portions of the company.  The results from the first decision meant that some portion of the company did survive, and was worth more than when they bought it.  The second decision?  They bought your bankrupt company and sold out everything from patents to real estate.  Their goal was to make a profit off what was left of the company.  If you had complaints about their methods....you should have been looking for ways to save your company way before Bain ever arrived.  It is that simple.

Florida admits that they've been alerted to 53k dead voters who are registered, and could have voted this fall.  Someone finally realized that if you used the social security numbers in registering.....you can compare the social security databases against your state voter poll on a yearly basis.  The social security database?  Well....it's been around for a minimum of thirty years.  Yeah.....maybe folks could have discovered this earlier.

What's it generally cost to put five gold caps on your front teeth and look like an Hollywood hoodlum in public?  Around $1k per tooth (likely $1,250 if you can't find a dentist from El Salvador or Honduras).  Where would a seventeen-year-old kid get $6k to get the gold caps?  Don't know.  Some folks in Florida might wonder about that....especially down in Sanford, Florida.

Not that it really matters, but the Ninth Court of Appeals (the western district of the US)....went ahead on a US-government sponsored conference.  The cost?  A minimum of one million dollars.  The location?  A fancy resort in Hawaii.  Yes, they took their aides, clerks, and just about anyone connected to the Ninth Court.  Yes, each Judge was getting around $391 a day for hotel and food, all compliments of the US government.  I'm guessing that some Senators will decide to ask the Court about this and get absolutely no answers.  My humble opinion is that when you finally demand that all conferences start to occur in Fargo, North Dakota, Midland, Texas, or Provo, Utah.....then this foolishness will just continue on.  When you start to limit hotel costs and per diem funding.....the gang will all fall into line.

Finally, some kid at a high school in North Carolina last Monday....got into an argument with his social studies teacher, over President Obama.  The teacher wanted to let the kid know that the President was the President, and you just couldn't suggest any disrespect at all against the President.  Then she suggested to the kid that he could be jailed for disrespecting the President.  At some point, a kid in the room educated the teacher that opinions are personal, and you have some kind of right written into the Constitution.  I sat and listened to the conversation....which I doubt that the teacher even knew this was recorded.....and felt kind of sorry for the teacher.  It's another example of how you just need to finish up high school at age sixteen, and let the punks out into the world.  A teacher just can't be as smart as a sixteen year old kid.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

The Bama Thing About Porches

In Bama, we have this thing about front porches.  You need a porch for various reasons...mostly to entertain folks.  You also need the porch to mainly just relax and chill out.  Things tend to make more sense on the front porch.  Life seems simpler on the front porch.

Along the way that front porches operate....there's some rules and ethics, which I will point out here.

First, a porch is designed for entertaining, discussing, and "joshing" with folks.....not for heated arguments (which might be seen by a dozen neighbors and label your porch as unfriendly).

Second, generally....clothing and attire shall be in good taste and not within the vision of slutty, improper, or flirty. If some gal shows up in a tube-top that's two sizes too small....you ought to go ahead and let her know of issues before she gets settled into her chair.

Third, topics of discussion should generally be unlimited although you should not discuss Republican downfalls with a Republican, Baptists failures with a hardcore Baptist, or Islamic criticism with a Mullah.

Fourth, discussions on dead folks should be limited to folks who you don't personally know (like Marilyn Monroe or Hitler) or your dead neighbor who you will discuss in a somewhat positive light.

Fifth, discussions on neighbors.....shouldn't include anything about their personal lusty affairs.  I know that you have seen some gal driving around the back of his house and sneaking in the back door of the house.....but it just ain't right to share that information.

Sixth, conversations on cars will be limited to performance or reliability. It is not smart to bring up repair procedures unless you have the actual car up on the porch to show your associate the proper method of repair.

Seventh, you should always offers a clean and sanitary toilet within 30 feet of the front door, with extra toilet paper, some proper smelling sprays, and fresh towels for washing up. Soap ought to be either a bar or liquid form....but nothing outlandish or funny smelling.

Eighth, never invite a ex-wife or ex-wife's family onto the front porch.....nothing good of that can come.

Ninth, it's best to never invite or allow more than three hardcore political folks tn the porch....unless your intention is to get them drunk to admit various affairs or such.

Tenth, porch furniture needs to be quality made and of strong material.  It is advised to never buy any porch furniture from Wal-Mart. Cushions are advised.  Chairs with arms are typically preferred over those wicker chairs. Its acceptable to have a living room couch on the front porch but your neighbors may frown on this.....and your dog might be upset with folks sitting on his favorite spot.

Eleventh, drinking is generally accepted on the front porch. However, it needs to be monitored, and you should worry about some Baptist minister stopping by and asking what's in the cup.  Also, never serve alcohol to Baptists, unless its on the back porch away from view. In temperatures above 90....always offer ice tea with ice cubes. Coffee is an acceptable beverage on the porch but not that instant stuff. And if you can brew expresso...be sure to have the proper cups.

Twelfth, don't talk or discuss cult stuff with Baptists. It'll bother them for weeks to come.

Thirteenth, rocking chairs are a fine item to have on a porch, but ensure they are well maintained and don't fall apart when your heavy-weight aunt shows up and starts rocking.

Fourteenth, generally, it's best to never dig or place a septic tank within 60 feet of the front porch.

Fifteenth, discussions on the front porch after dark usually require some lighting device. A 60-watt bulb or candles would be suggested. Don't use a coal-oil lamp or a 200-watt bulb.

Sixteenth, heated discussions should be avoided but if you get drawn into one....always angle the talk away to some episode of Gunsmoke you recently saw, some perfume you tested at Walgreens, or your neighbor's fancy new hubcaps.

Seventeenth, on days when the temperature is above 90 degrees...always offer up crushed ice or ice cream to the visiting folks. Avoid coffee or hot tea. A overhead fan would be a fine thing to keep a wind posed upon your visitors.

Eighteenth, it's advisable to have some peanuts, mints, or M&M's on the porch as a relief item for some folks.

Nineteenth, never allow guests during a NCAA football game.

Twentieth, you ought not wear strong perfume or manly smells around old folks who visit. They generally don't like those overwhelming smells like Brut.

Twenty-first,  if for some odd reason, you did have a Mullah come visiting....don't bring up Jesus, Baptists, religion, freedom of speech, women's right, freedom of minds, anti-Iran matters, Billy Graham's health, 9-11, problems with Saudi religious police, or Ossama's passing. It would be strongly suggested to chat as much as possible on the chances of the Braves winning this year or if Ford is really as crappy as folks think.

Twenty-second, don't get into heated discussions with folks who recently underway a religious conversion. They aren't likely of a clear and focused mind.

Twenty-third, its best not to discuss chain-saw accidents, propane gas tank explosions, or dog attacks in mixed company (meaning with ladies present).

Twenty-fourth, sadly....some folks come to your front porch for some awful important advice, and expect absolutely nothing less than a miracle.  You might want to realize this, and consider your words wisely. You need to admit early on....you ain't Socrates, Gandhi, Ann Landers, or Doctor Phil.  Sometimes, you just need to end the conversation with: "Get a life".

Twenty-fifth, a man never dumps his girlfriend at the front porch.  It leaves a bad karma for years to come.  Neighbors will come over for weeks....wanting to discuss what went wrong.  The likely truth is that you met some gal from Facebook who lives in Memphis, and you just don't want everyone knowing of your new love interest.

The truth is....we have some high expectations and ethics over front porches.

Wasted Hours in Chicago

If you are watching this entire Chicago demonstration thing unfold this weekend....there is an interesting aspect to this.  Thousands of folks have made their way to Chicago to be part of the peaceful side of the demonstration, and the violent side of the demonstration.

The folks on the bad boy list?  Well....cops have been detaining them and just dropping them off at the station.  With all the cops out in the field....wouldn't you know.....there just ain't enough cops to process and release the boys at the station.  So they remain handcuffed or sitting in some holding cell.

Naturally, these guys had plans and figured that they'd be released within six hours after being detained by the cops.  A day later, without any food in their stomach....they are having some heartburn about this entire trip up to Chicago.  Total waste of time.

An investigation and civil case later?  Well...I doubt that you can make a case if the city shows that every single cop was being used in the field to protect the city.

A Future Mel Brooks Movie

It started out real simple.  A couple of guys had this funny idea about how you could make friends on the internet.  But they just couldn't take the idea to any level.  Lousy salesmanship, poor planning, or just plain lazy attitude about the product....it doesn't matter.

So along comes this one punk kid, who picks up the concept and actually makes it work.  The original guys?  Oh, they are plenty upset, but they just weren't ready for what needed to be done.

The smart kid?  Well....he needed a couple of people to make this work....so they ended up on the inner circle.  So became Facebook.

Days, weeks, months, and years passed.  Facebook grew.  The potential for wealth also grew.

It was apparent about a year ago that the IPO for the Facebook stock was going to occur.  In the midst of this IPO....was this guy, Eduardo Saverin.  He was set to take home a fair chunk of money.  However, sixty-seven million of that sum was supposed to go over to the IRS.

For Eduardo, this was a bothersome idea.  The US government didn't do anything for the money in his mind, and just handing them the money....was totally wrong.  So Eduardo found a lawyer or two, and then discovered that if you just gave up on being a US citizen (he was originally from Brazil, so he'd already given up citizenship once already).....then he could keep the whole sum of money (including the $67 million).  So he found the perfect place....Singapore, which had no capital gains tax, and elected to give up US citizenship.

This ought to be a story that ends at this point, and we'd have a simple observation to make.  But here enters last week....Senator Chuck Schumer (D/NY), and Senator Bob Casey (D/Penn).  They get all upset and then waste hours and hours writing up the "Ex-Patriot's Bill".  Basically, if you intend to exit America in this fashion....you lose a fair sum of your wealth.

The threat here?  If you have two million and intend to exit, there's a review by the IRS. You likely will just hand over thirty percent of your wealth as you exit.  The date it starts?  Well....that's a funny thing.....once passed, it back-dates ten years.  So if you left America in 2002 with sixteen million dollars....then the IRS would be coming for you.

The bill is simply a bill right now.  Schumer and Casey will have to present it, and then have some hopes that the Republican House would readily agree with them.  The odds?  Since the Senate Democrats aren't willing to even pass a budget, but will get all peppy on this one singular issue....I'd say a one-percent chance to pass.  It looks good in the press, and on some Sunday talk show.

But we aren't finished with observations yet.

You see, there's this tax expert out there.....Grover Norquist....who is fairly respected in Tea Party circles and the Republican Party.  Grover spent a day looking over Schumer's tax bill.  Then he finally started going back to the 1930s.....Nazi Germany, and this entire Ex-Patriot bill.....looks like the Nazi law that told Jews to cough up all their wealth, if they wanted to leave Nazi Germany.

Schumer has to be standing there now.....asking his aides....where the heck they got the wording for this new fancy bill that he's introduced, and I'm guessing none of the guys want to admit that they have this nifty Nazi information book that they keep for reference purposes.  The bad part about this.....is that now the big guys from ABC, CBS, and CNN have to walk carefully around this whole topic.  They don't want to appear being supporters of Nazis, but then they really hate rich folks.  The NewsWeak crowd?  Well....you can imagine the picture on one side of a Nazi official and a Jew, then on the other page....Chuck Schumer and this Facebook guy.

Who would have thought, that you could have taken a simple Facebook IPO profit story, twist it around $67 million, inject Singapore, toss in two Democratic Senators, create a fantastic title of Ex-Patriot bill, and then finish it off with the subject of Nazis?  It's a story for Mel Brooks, if you ask me.

The Minister Squirm

When you start to see ministers squirming around....it's typically a bad thing.  You can tell....they feel uncomfortable.  They have a bad feeling.  They don't want to say nothing much, but they really aren't feeling like they should.

Yesterday, the NAACP came out, and said they were fully behind gay marriage.  For black church ministers across the United States....they are now walking on very thin ice.  These black church ministers all had three or four sermons per year, that typically drilled down into this topic.  They had the various passages of the Bible relating to this....memorized.  If some woman walked up to a minister and voiced concerns over some relative, there'd always be the same response over which direction in life this relative was going.

The black ministers walked hand-in-hand with the NAACP on almost every single issue for the past fifty years.  I doubt if these guys are feeling comfortable right now.  There's probably several hundred of these ministers looking through the Bible and hoping to find the right passage which allows them to just bless gays and forget about everything they've spoken about for all these years.

I can see some members sitting in the pews, hearing an absolute turn-around by their minister....then standing up to question what the minister just said.  The member will remind the minister that just a month ago.....there was a heck of a big sermon over gay marriage and how they all needed to stand up against it.  Now, a month later....a total reversal?  It's hard to be in these shoes.  People will wonder why suddenly an iron-clad stance has suddenly whipped around.

My guess?  Around a quarter of all black churches are going to huddle up over the next week....and decide that they just aren't going to walk hand-in-hand with the NAACP anymore.  They will talk about focus and something bigger than a political slant on things.  Some folks will quit their church over this issue, and some folks will switch over to the church over this issue.

Some older members are going to grumble about this and just plain quit their church, period.  It might be a rough period over the next year or two....if you were a black minister.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Greece, The First Month

Most folks who write up on Greece and it's Euro troubles....just talk about the demonstrations, and the bank instability.  So I'd rather be creative and lay out how things would be in the first month after they dump the Euro.

So it begins.

The military discovers on day one of the episode, that they really don't have a lot of fuel on hand....maybe enough to run two weeks at best.  When they ask for fuel allotment money from the government, they are told to ground all helicopters and aircraft.  Tanks and trucks?  Put them in the depot.  The coast guard?  Just enough fuel to run minimum operations.

The police chiefs around the county discover that their stash of fuel will last around seven days.  They ask the government to allocate a vast amount of emergency fuel, but the government admits that they just don't have enough money to do more than run a 50-percent operation for the foreseeable future.

Ambulance crews?  They are the only government service that gets a full allocation of fuel.

Airports suddenly run into an odd problem.  A tourist plane will land and expect to pay in Euro....then are told that they need to pay in newly created Drachma.  The pilot calls his headquarters in France, to discover his credit card isn't approved for such a currency yet.  The headquarters also questions the exchange rate.  Meanwhile the passengers disembark, to discover that the tourist bus to carry them off to the hotel....which was supposed to be "free"....isn't free.  The driver wants Euro....not Drachma....and he wants the equalivent of thirty bucks for each person....for a lousy forty minute drive to the hotel.

When the tourist arrives at his hotel....he finds that the contract that he signed six months ago is still valid, but the hotel has added a fee onto the tab (for all drinks and food), so that $10 meal you had.....is now $12 instead.

The cleaning lady at the hotel?  Well.....she wants only Drachma...not Euro....and she won't give you clean towels until you tip her in advance.

That fancy all-day tour-bus ride that you had advance booking on?  Well....it's still in effect but the driver encourages you strongly to tip him as you enter the bus for Euro, not Drachma.  That's the only way that he will turn on the AC unit and keep you chilled all day.

The tourist trap gift shop outside the hotel....that sold you a junk item for $10 in Euro before?  Well....it's now $8 in Drachma, but five days later....you notice it's $10....and by the end of the two weeks....it's $14 in Drachma.

The bartender at the hotel establishment?  He'll take Drachma, Rupees, Euro, Dollars, and even Russian Rubles.

The local lady shopping for groceries?  Well....on day five of the event....she finds the grocery mostly empty and the guy in charge admits that he's having to pay in advance for each item he buys to sell.  So his cash flow is slow now, and he hopes in five days to fill half the store.  Beans, by his estimation....is a guaranteed thing.  Don't be getting hope hopes for American mustard....this year, or next year.

The local bank?  They only open between 10 and 2.  There's a limit of how many Euro that they will accept each day and convert to Drachma.  You ask your Grandma to accept a bundle of Euro, and show up each day to exchange the money for you....because you just don't have time to waste with sixty people in line.

TV and radio?  Well....several of the folks have disappeared from the nightly newscast and generally, there's just on-the-air chit-chat....no remote video or conversations with people on the street.  No one wants to see video of empty store shelves or people drinking booze on the street.

Your doctor will see you, but he prefers Euro....not Drachma.  He's supposed to accept the state-run policy and you only pay a minimum fee.  He just laughs when you suggest a minimum fee situation.  He refers you to the nurse and refuses to do anything for you.

The gas for your car?  Well....it goes up by twenty percent over night, and some gas stations demand Drachma only, while others prefer Euro secretly (under the table).

Some fancy pants Greek political figures would like to go out and do speeches but find that people are confrontational.  So it's best to just hide out, drink what booze you hid away for a rainy day, and plot for another election, upon another election, upon another election.  Heck, you might gear the nation for six elections per year.

At the end of the first month....there's a bunch of angry people....and no solution in sight.  If you are twenty-two and educated.....you might as well pack a bag and agree to work in Italy or Amsterdam for minimum wage.  It puts food on the table.  These younger folks?  They probably won't ever return.  They are bound to absorb themselves into life elsewhere and give up eternally on Greece.

Somewhere in the months to come....you suddenly have a rise in Greek women advertising for American gentlemen for marriage.  American guys suddenly start to evaluate Thai, Russian, and Greek women on marriage possibilities.  Suddenly, some single guy from Ripley, Mississippi is reading up on the Greek Orthodox Church and a Greek diet of rabbit, peasant, chickens and fish, with some kind of goat yogurt that tastes kinda like buttermilk.

Life in Greece, as we know it....is about to change.

Johnny Read Good, U Kno

The political folks of Florida decided that they wanted kids to be smarter.  So they invented a fancy test and told the teachers that it was tougher, and figured that things would just trend toward kids passing a tougher test.

You know....this is like when you started to school in August, and the PE teacher said you had to be able run three miles in thirty-two minutes by May of the next year.  Oh, and he wanted you to pick up a eighty-pound bag of sand and tote it three hundred feet.  You figured he was joking....he wasn't.

So in Florida, these new standardized tests are complete.  Only 52 percent of the freshman students passed it. As for the sophomores?  50 percent passed it.

The rule is written that you have to pass this by the end of school to graduate.  So you've got roughly half the kids entering the next school year....under intense pressure.  As far as they are concerned....they ought to skip PE, lunch, and just about everything of zero value.....just to take reading classes and figure out how to pass a stupid exam.

The state board looked at the other requirement they made.....the writing test, and decided that it was best just to lower the standards because just too many failed that exam.  That result?  Only a third of the kids passed.

So you go back and look at the odds of the PE teacher suggesting you somehow get in good enough shape to run three miles in thirty-two minutes.  You'd have to get your weight down below two hundred pounds to ensure a positive chance on this.  You've got eight months to progress to the point where this might actually happen.  Instead of dodge-ball, basketball or any fun sport.....you guys all meet at PE and walk to the track, with the goal of running for thirty-five minutes.  Maybe you run six laps and then walk six laps.  Somewhere around Christmas, you actually run nine laps without stopping and feel pretty good about yourself.  Around March, you run the twelve laps in thirty-four minutes without stopping.  Around six weeks before the end of the school year, you show up for the test, and run the twelve laps in thirty-one minutes.

The neat thing about the achievement?  You never run again.  Yes, the minute that dimwit PE teacher signs you off.....you show up and refuse to do anything for PE, period.

My guess is that some reading dimwits will show up in Florida shortly, to open up reading advancement business.  Your mom....now worried about your graduation.....agrees to pay this business $200 a month for six months, which involves two evening visits per week (45 minutes), and two Saturday mornings per month (120 minutes).  Somehow, these ten visits equal $200, don't ask why.  What the idiot teaches you....is how to read a certain way, then answer questions in a certain way....NOTHING else.

So you walk in and take this test in a year, and pass to graduate. Mom and dad are all happy.  Life goes on.  Oh, and you never....ever....will pick up a book....for the rest of your life.  They've turned this experience into something you hate with passion.

Here's the truth which may hurt.  From 1776 to approximately the 1950s....most kids who graduated from high school....could read at the 6th grade level at best.  Sure, you always had thirty percent of a class that were capable of picking up Tom Sawyer, 1984, the Grapes of Wreath, and Uncle Tom's Cabin.  Does it really matter?

For some odd reason since the 1950s.....we've grown into a society that believes the vast number of folks all need to meet some pretty lofty goals.  Success in our mind....means that you can read the Call of the Wild by Jack London, then take a test where you have to name the five top characters (Perrault, Francois, Buck, Spitz, and John Thorton), but then identify which of the five are actually dogs.  The truth is....while the book is nifty and such.....I would imagine that three of ten folks would just give up on reading the book and then watch the movie.  Sadly, those three might actually remember that Buck and Spitz were the dogs.  And the results from this test....mean something?

Years ago in a high school history class....we were forced into reading Uncle Toms Cabin.  We were given roughly three months.  In those days....there were no DVDs or cable TV (yes, sadly, in Bama).  Unless you bought those stupid "notes" down at the book store which had two pages of all the important stuff from the book....you were forced into this.

So we finished the book, and then came an entire week of discussion.  I was the quiet kid in the back and kinda viewed this as a waste of time.  Obviously out of twenty-two kids in the class....I was probably one of the eight that really read the book and understood it.  Most of the kids barely touched the book.  I'm a person of few words and hated class discussion.  At some point, the teacher directed a question finally at me over my view of the book, and I simply said it was a decent piece of fiction.  It was a barbed-answer and the history teacher quickly moved on.  Obviously, I had read enough history and knew that the book had an intentional slant on it, and helped to fashion the Civil War to arrive in 1860.

Using fiction to teach a history class....doesn't really help much.

We are left now with a fair mess in Florida.  Tests to show results, which may not be the results we intended....simply makes us feel good over kids answering the questions right.  And who knows....maybe knowing that Buck and Spitz are dog characters....really matters later in life.  Your boss might be Buck-enthusiast.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Journeys in Black and White

It's a nifty title.  It would have been a decent book....if it'd been written.

In 1991, some book publisher paid a up-front fee to then Mr Barak Obama, to write up this book about life as a black and white kid growing up in America.  This whole episode was kinda forgotten about in the end....because he just couldn't write the book that they wanted....so he ended up writing a totally different piece that was about his own personal life, which ended up including some composite characters (meaning that it's not absolutely totally true).

None of this would really matter, but the fancy advertising booklet that was hinting of upcoming books from the publisher was found, and published this week.

The booklet had twenty-two lines describing the great upcoming writer....Barak Obama.  There are several things which are partly true or just plain fictional on this advertising booklet.  Barak Obama was indicated as being born in Kenya.....which he wasn't.  It talked up his short career as a financial journalist....which I've never heard of anything that he ever wrote....relating to business or finance.

These advertising booklets tend to be written by some kid just out of college and working on the cheap for some book publisher.  The boss calls the 22-year old in.....starts talking about upcoming books and wants the kid to write up a fancy hand-out....so the publisher can hand these to fancy dressed folks at their lunch and dinner operations.

The kid goes back (remember, this was 1991....so computers really hadn't hit the big-time yet).....so the kid writes some long-hand material, and gives it to the bosses secretary who tries her best to read what the kid wrote.  When finished......I doubt if the boss even reads the material....and just hands to the local printing press company to make 10k copies.

No one ever remembered these....or counted on them for accuracy....if you ask me.

The college kid who wrote the material?  He or she....is probably laughing right now.  They had some idiot boss telling them all kinds of stuff, which they barely got written down, and then were fearful to ask about accuracy later.  My humble guess is that the kid has grown up and actually works for the New York Post today....and really doesn't want anyone stumbling onto their past writing these stupid advertising pieces.

As for the title of Journeys in Black and White?  Well...it's still sitting out there and any idiot could write a book and probably publish it.

Local Observations

We have had this continuing saga around the DC government itself....over corrupt folks being brought in as employees of the city government of the District.  Last year, things finally reached a peak where the city council agreed to have a vetting process as a guy gets hired for any position....where they checked you out.  It'd be public knowledge of an arrest record or some IRS-situation.  Well....this week, someone did a long read on the new finance bill floating through the city council....submitted by the chief of the city council.  Somewhere in the middle of this....was a couple of small lines that basically said that a guy hired to work for city council members themselves.....would be allowed to skip the vetting process.  This discovery got folks to asking the city council if they were going back on their word.....not much was said though.  I pondered over this, and would admit....in ten years....almost everyone of significance in DC local government activities....will have an arrest record of some type.  So I don't see how this vetting matters....just bring on the criminals and hire up more investigators to roam through city business on a daily basis.

We will finally have our first Sikh cop in DC shortly.  Sikhs are those religious folks....mostly from India....who have a few traditions tied to them.  Two of these....are the wearing of turbans and carrying along a fancy knife on their belt.  The Sikh cop in the DC police academy asked for a waiver to allow him to wear a turban and the knife.....and the DC police chief agreed to allow this.  I don't see an issue with this.  Sikhs tend to take their jobs serious and maybe this guy will have an effect on the rest of the force.  As for the fancy knife on the belt.....it'll accompany his pistol, and he'll be twice as effective in a bad situation....if you ask me.

Finally, we had a bit of excitement this week on Metro.  We had a subway car that the doors on one particular car opened up (while in motion), as they traveled from one station to another.  Luckily, this was in the mid-afternoon, before the rush-hour.  Typically, with 250 folks on a car.....there would have been five folks leaning against the door in the late afternoon.....and they would have likely fallen out of the car.  Just lucky I guess.  The maintenance guys?  Best they can say is a faulty switch of some type.  It probably won't happen again.....or again....or again.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Just Another Statistic

In the Detroit area....there's a handful of characters who are "known", which means that you'd typically recognize them off the street.  The Mayor....Dave Bing, former basketball star....is one of those.  Pastor Marvin Winans is another.

The good pastor was actually seen recently singing a gospel piece at Whitney Houston's funeral.  In the Detroit area....you'd think most everyone knows the guy.

Well....yesterday in Detroit....the good pastor stopped for gas in the afternoon.  He was in his purple Infiniti QX56 SUV (well over $75k in value).  He was wearing pretty nice clothing.  And he had a Rolex watch on.

At some point while pumping gas....a couple of the local guys set upon him....in mid-afternoon.  They took his SUV, his watch, his billfold with a couple hundred bucks, and his pants.  It's best not to ask about the pants part of this.

The pastor is visibly upset about this.  It's the mid-afternoon.  No one from the gas station came to him in his hour of need.  It was like being in a third-world country.  And in some ways....he's lucky just to be alive.

I doubt if this story appears much in the national press.  Folks get robbed everyday in Detroit, and the pastor is just another one of a thousand folks who robbed in broad daylight within the city.

For me, I sat and pondered.  Why would a guy stay in Detroit?  Why would a family chose to remain in the city?  Why would a woman chose to raise her kids by herself in Detroit?  Why would a kid even attend school in Detroit?  This is the one place on Earth that ought to put fear into you....just to pack up a bag and head out of the city.  It doesn't matter where you go....things will be better.

As for the pastor?  Well....if you own a Rolex and a $75k SUV....I'm of the mind that you just ain't a pastor or minister.  I'm not sure what you are.....but you just aren't a pastor.  So run down to Sears....buy a pair of $29 dress pants, get a used $9k Toyota, find a decent $18 Timex, and start preaching to Detroit....the city on the edge of Hell.  They kinda need it.  Pack a pistol if necessary....and don't feel too bad about using it if necessary. It's the best advice I can offer.

The Greek Stumble

For those who didn't know....Greece has a population of about 11 million folks.

This week....starting out on Monday....folks started lining up at the bank and withdrawing their cash.  By the end of the day....700 million Euro ($890 million).....had been taken out in one day.  Some phone calls went out by the middle of the day to the remaining leaders of the country....hinting that folks are scared.

Tuesday came....and almost the same amount of money was removed.  Wednesday?  Slightly better.  I'm guessing the bulk of what most folks had....has been removed.  They might have left a couple of thousand, but I suspect that most folks have taken their life savings, and just elected to sit on it or stash it in the freezer.

What happens now?  I'm guessing the bank guys are quietly meeting and talking over what is left.  I'm guessing here....that most Greek banks probably have somewhere around a billion left in cash that they could release to the public.

There are various problems about to erupt.  Vacation folks from Germany and France ought to be arriving in Greece as we speak.  They'd typically spend money.  They probably would visit a ATM machine and pull out 500 Euro to spend on booze and food for the next five days.  That ATM?  It just might be empty, and then what?  A German guy who wanted to booze it up and get drunk.....and he doesn't have the money to do that?

Then you've got various big-wigs in Athens who would typically run by their bank on a Friday and pull out a couple thousand Euro.....and spend on a big weekend.  Now?  You might have to just sit around the luxury villa or leave the country to get cash.

If I were a betting man....I'd say that in ten days....something big is going to happen in Greece.  A new currency will occur.  The exchange rate for the old Euro to the new currency will be a mess.  Folks will want to use Euro anyway.  Arguments with tourists will erupt.  Vacations will be cancelled by the thousands.

The Euro to dollar exchange?  It's .76 today.  I'm guessing by Friday....it's close to .79.

Settle back for an exciting period for the next ten days in Europe.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

The Only Comedian Political Figure in America



There's a reason why I like New Jersey's Governor.  He actually has a five-star bit of humor.

Indian Status

If you watch the news....you know that the folks up in Massachusetts are having a problem with one candidate who hinted that she was 1/32nd Indian.  There's more than enough evidence now to show that she probably isn't Indian at all.....and if she was.....1/32nd doesn't count for much of anything.

So I went looking.  What is the level where you can claim Indian status?

Sadly, our Congress has never declared this.  Almost every single Indian tribe has a different view on the deal.  Some are serious enough to say that if you marry out of the tribe....your next generation is zero percent Indian, period.

Some tribes will say that they can officially adopt you.....thus making a 100 percent white dimwit.....into a 100 percent Indian dimwit.

You'd think in 200-odd years, that we would have worked this out and had some mathematical formula rigged up by MIT or Texas Tech.

My humble guess is that Congress and the Senate have been kept fairly busy on worthless but more important projects.....so figuring the Indian view on heritage just isn't that important.

My suggestion is this.  If you want to run back and get back on par to some kinda status within an Indian tribe.....you need to give up civilization for twelve months....live in a teepee.....live off the land....prove you can ride a horse....and wear strictly leather clothing (no underwear) for the entire year.

Given a choice between Harvard status or Indian status.....I'm guessing most folks would prefer the Harvard status, and we could just skip this whole discussion on Indian status.

I always was humbled by the law that Indians adopted within a tribal setting.  You lived a pure life.....earned your position in life by actual physical actions....and your words kinda meant something.  I don't think any Indian would dare lower themselves to being a US Senator....if you ask me.

Lite Comments

My brother wanted to nudge me on this topic.....of the President and his updated bio over at WhiteHouse.gov.

The kindly folks at Commentary Magazine noticed this, and wanted to just put it out there for folks to note:

* On Feb. 22, 1924 Calvin Coolidge became the first president to make a public radio address to the American people. President Coolidge later helped create the Federal Radio Commission, which has now evolved to become the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). President Obama became the first president to hold virtual gatherings and town halls using Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, etc.
* In a 1946 letter to the National Urban League, President Truman wrote that the government has “an obligation to see that the civil rights of every citizen are fully and equally protected.” He ended racial segregation in civil service and the armed forces in 1948. Today the Obama administration continues to strive toward upholding the civil rights of its citizens, repealing  Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, allowing people of all sexual orientations to serve openly in our armed forces.
* President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare signed (sic) into law in 1965—providing millions of elderly healthcare stability. President Obama’s historic health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act, strengthens Medicare, offers eligible seniors a range of preventive services with no cost-sharing, and provides discounts on drugs when in the coverage gap known as the “donut hole.” On August 14, 1935,
* President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act. Today the Obama administration continues to protect seniors and ensure Social Security will be there for future generations.
* In a June 28, 1985 speech Reagan called for a fairer tax code, one where a multi-millionaire did not have a lower tax rate than his secretary. Today, President Obama is calling for the same with the Buffett Rule.

I sat and pondered over the commentary.  First, it was interesting that he started with Calvin....not Warren G Harding.  Warren, in case you were wondering....got around three years into his Presidency, before dying of a heart ailment.  Most folks don't want to brag much on Warren.....except he dumped the massive taxation that had been handed over to his administration by President Wilson.  The roaring twenties....were strictly because of what Warren did as a President.

Why skip Wilson, or Teddy, or Taft?  Don't know.  Maybe he realized that Wilson was one of the biggest racist Presidents of US history....that Teddy was a blow-hard who never passed up an opportunity to make America look ten times better than it was, or that Taft really was just a judge in a gentleman's suit.

Then you start to wonder....do you really need to compare yourself to previous Presidents?  You basically put yourself up on some pedestal and say you are in their league.  Most Presidents don't run around doing the league comparison thing.  Its like Batman saying he was as good as the Flash.  Or maybe some current Army general saying he was as good as Grant or Sherman.  Or maybe Bill Gates saying he was at the same level as Thomas Edison.

When a guy starts talking like that....it's pretty short-sighted.  It's like some TV actor thinking he was in the same league as John Wayne for acting.  Or maybe having some wannabe journalist saying he was as good as Edward R Murrow.  Or maybe having some Jersey Shore gal hint that she was as sultry as Marilyn Monroe.  Or maybe some Fox News guy saying he was in the same league as Paul Harvey.  It just ain't so.

So I end with this.  George Washington stood up in 1789 and basically couldn't say a word of comparison to anyone.  

He couldn't hint that he'd fixed the economy or blame the previous woes on anyone.

He couldn't talk negativity about the banks, because he kinda needed them to function.

He couldn't suggest some newspaper was out to get him or blame something off on the corrupt writers for the weekly newspaper out of Boston.

He couldn't run off to the View and whisper flattering comments to a couple of left-leaning gals.

He couldn't announce that he was against or for gay marriage.

He couldn't even find any bundlers who could package up $12 for his election campaign.

At the end of the day, you reach a moment where you realize this enormous plateau that George Washington stood on.....and just how far down we are in 2012.  I guess it's best not to even mention his name.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

A Woeful Tale

I occasionally find business stories that are tales of woe and sorrow.  So here is one for today.

Once upon a time, there was LightSquared.  They were to be the delivery vehicle for wireless across the nation.  They were going to bring wireless internet to the heartland, to farms in Nebraska, to tractors roaming Kansas, to truckers crossing North Dakota, to beer delivery trucks in New Mexico, to fishing boats on the Tennessee River, to hunters in South Carolina, and even to right-wing extremists hiding out in Idaho.

They were literally going to blast the nation with wireless signals....which they had bought and were fully prepared to implement.

They went to the Obama team and ensured that various bundles of money were laid out in 2008's election.  They had various insider connections and figured that they had every single issue lined up.  The federal government would probably end up at some point even financing the implementation to all these remote areas of the nation.....to save LightSquared tons of capital.

Well....then these Air Force folks came along to suggest that signal that LightSquared had bought....was awful near the signal for GPS-type devices.  Then they suggested that LightSquared would bleed over a bit....making all these GPS devices worthless.  An entire new generation of GPS gadgets would have to be invented.  LightSquared disagreed with this analysis in the beginning.....but later would say that the devices were so poorly manufactured.....that new devices were needed anyway.

This week.....LightSquared came around to file for Chapter Eleven bankruptcy.  Those Harbinger Capital folks.....who had invested billions into LightSquared....were screwed.

The curious thing is that if the Air Force had just kept their mouth shut.....we'd all have LightSquared internet around every single corner of America.  We'd also be complaining about our GPS devices being screwed up for some funny reason, and some odd company offering up a brand new technology of GPS.....to ensure no bleed-over.

We would have been operating our hay-baling operation and also watching Colombian soccer at the same time.  We would have been fishing on some lake, and talking to some guy from China about his fishing troubles.  We would have been driving to work, and watching some Irish soap opera straight from Dublin.

It all could have been.