Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Our Guy in Bama

There are a number of observations that I can make over this Bama nutcase guy, who shot the bus-driver and kidnapped the autistic kid.

First, he's known around the area as a Vietnam vet and combative retired truck driver (Jimmy Lee Dykes).  He is a bit testy and difficult to deal with.  Few call him a friend.

Second, Jimmy holds a collection of guns.  It would appear....he got them all legally.  If proven true....then this whole universal background check business as a fix for our problems....is bogus.

Third, Jimmy doesn't know the kid at all.  He just stops the bus with the intent of taking two kids, and then worldwide attention to what he considers....his problems.  I'm guessing he has a list of forty-four things that bother him....figured out that CNN runs a live 24-hour a day coverage if you just invoke kids into a tragic mess and went to grab two fresh kids out of the bus.

Fourth.  The bus driver actually figured something was just not right....tried to back up, and got shot.  More rounds follow....with the driver dead.

Fifth.  A bunch of folks are likely viewing the idea in Bama now of putting armed guards on the bus.  Basically, most folks are going to demand the right to bring their AK-47 or AR-15....superior fire-power to put down fools like Jimmy.  The President and anti-gun crew are in for a big fight for this crowd to stand up and act defensive in nature.

Sixth.  I'm guessing bus drivers across the state are discussing quietly the idea of putting a thirty-eight by their side, and just not say anything to the county school boss.

Seventh.  Jimmy is likely taking something....in my opinion....like Vicodon or pain-killers, or whatever.  At some point, it will wear off enough, and maybe Jimmy comes to his senses.

Eighth.....there might actually be some folks to suggest deputizing all of the twelfth grade kids as guards, and putting them on the bus with shotguns in the front-seat.  It's a pretty drastic move, but it might be time to consider all options.

Ninth and final....sadly.....I have to admit there are likely 10k crazy nuts like Jimmy in Bama.  On any given day....one or two of them do something pretty stupid....and we just hope to survive the day.

The Little Store Front

Once upon a time, in a faraway land....Milwaukee....men of law and character, were directed to fight the criminals in a rather different fashion.

Instead of confrontation....they were to go undercover....operating as a store, offering fine clothing, fancy tennis shoes, jewelry, and items which might be used in the art of smoking weed or such.

You can imagine such a "all-in-one" store, which was called Fearless Distributing.

Course, they placed the whole operation down in the rough part of Milwaukee, which was supposed to attract shady characters and help achieve success for the operation.  Now, you might be curious....who ran this operation?  Well....The Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms folks.

So days, weeks, and months passed.  To be honest, at least by the local media and newspapers....they just never did get any action from gangs.

General business success?  Well....no.  Altogether, they had around $35k in store items stolen (clothing, jewelry, tennis shoes, etc).  They also had an assault-rifle stolen.

So after ten long months, the leadership decided that this was a total failure, and they packed up and left.

But there's some problems as they leave.  Along the way out, they left a listing of all the agents and local cops were part of the operation (names, phone numbers, etc).  There's also some issue brewing with the real estate owner of the property.....they owe over $10k in utility bills.  There's the issue of damage done as they left (broke doors, etc).

There's not much talk from the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms folks.  They'd be the first to admit that they are lousy businessmen and probably shouldn't ever be put in charge of a store.  The end-result?  Congress might have to pass a law ordering never to operate a store....just to make sure this mess doesn't happen again.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Reform Stuff

To make some sense out of this week's amnesty business.....you need to stand back and sort through the facts.

First, we keep hearing about eleven million undocumented aliens residing and working in America (out of 300 million folks).  Are there eleven million?  Don't know.  It's not an absolute fact.  There might be eighteen million.  There might be six million.  This eleven million number is what is continually tossed around.

Some of the eleven million....apparently have been around since 1986, the year that President Reagan signed off on the reform package.  That's roughly twenty-five years....in illegal status.....since Reagan and the Congress fixed immigration problems.  Within an hour after Reagan signed the document....there probably were twenty-five fresh new illegals in America.

Who makes up the eleven million?  Don't know.  We have undocumented El Salvadorians, Mexicans, Hondurans, Thai, Chinese, Russians, Irish, and probably even Cubans here. Heck, we might discover twelve illegal Canadian folks working in Tulsa once this mess is on the table.

What would happen if you got rid of the eleven million illegals?  The US economy would take a huge hit and do a brief spiral.  Normally, you'd think that those eleven million jobs opening up would be a big deal and all of our unemployed folks would be happy.  Well...no....these are mostly low income jobs that no one desires.

Are the eleven million paying taxes currently?  The media tends to avoid answering this question.  Most of us would like to hear the answer.  It would appear that some of the eleven million folks have bosses who are stupid enough to hire an illegal, but then smart enough to force them into paying taxes along the way.

So once we pass this reform....it's over, right?  We will never have another problem with illegal aliens?  Well...no.  The way this works....Juan gets his citizenship and expects real pay now.  After a year or two....Juan realizes that his current boss just isn't going to raise his pay....so he goes out and finally finds a real job that pays twenty percent more.  The old boss?  He hunts down another illegal (fresh and new of course), and brings the guy in....to work real cheap.  We will replenish the eleven million in less than four years (my humble opinion).

The bottom line?  It's all great theater and acting by our Senators.  They deserve an Oscar or something.

Steve, the Professor, and the Wannabe

The world is a complicated and dangerous place......that was the key element that I gained from the 60 Minutes episode with Steve Kroft, pretending to interview President Obama and Ms Clinton (Secretary of State).

To be honest, I've probably watched fifteen minutes of video clips of the......well....interview, which really isn't an interview.  It's hard to make a person sit there and view a wannabe journalist, with a wannabe Secretary of State, and a college professor-turned-activist-turned-President.

At some point, I felt like Kroft was interviewing two people doped up on Vicodine.  It seemed like some meeting where you'd drift off and recount some imaginary world or things that you thought you'd done.

The status of the world?  Well....I came to realize that it's a big bad world....very complicated....and dangerous   As a guy from Bama.....I might as well go ahead and admit that once you cross the line and head toward Fort Lauderdale, Memphis, or Atlanta.....it's about the same way (bad, complicated, and dangerous).

Had Steve Kroft done something like this in 1976.....once back in the studio and reviewing the thing.....Harry Reasoner would taken him by the collar and tossed him into the parking lot.  Don Hewitt would have been kicking him while still laying on the ground.  You wasted time and resources, and this is all you got?

My humble view?  It might be time to just go ahead and pull the plug on 60 Minutes and admit.....the best they've done....is finished, and this comedy show of wannabe journalists is just about as fake....as the Amish Mafia on the Discovery Channel.  At least watching the Amish Mafia.....you tend to hope that it's completely fake, but then go back and admit that some of it might be true.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Just Observations

This missing New York City photographer in Istanbul? There’s a hundred folks a day who generally going missing in America, but the media has picked up on this big-time. So, here’s Sarai Sierra (age 33), who was supposed to return to her husband and kids Monday of last week….but never did. It’s an odd thing now because evidence is showing that before this final return to the US….she had this odd diversion worked up where she was going on 15 Jan from Istanbul to Amsterdam, to fly on 16 January to Munich, Germany, and onto Istanbul again three days later. They know that she was there on the 19th now. And then she was supposed to fly back to the US on 21 January, which she never did. If you ask me….she was a courier of some type….for either drugs, diamonds, or something. You don’t fly around like this…..and just live a pretty innocent lifestyle. She probably messed with the wrong characters….thought she’d make some extra cash, and just guessed wrong.

Some Sheriff in Milwaukee has gotten the mayor all upset….encouraging folks to carry and use weapons. He basically admitted that he just doesn’t have the resources anymore to carry out and protect the public. The mayor? Well….he’s kinda upset about this suggestion. You just can’t have the public taking up an aggressive stance and challenging criminals left and right….heck, you might actually shoot some guy robbing you.

All that the Secret Service will say….is that their Belgian Malinois explosives detection dog apparently fell off the roof of a six-story parking deck down in New Orleans, while VP Joe was there, and it was described as a “tragic accident”. Was he pushed? Perhaps sent on an impossible mission? Well….you just don’t know. Maybe the dog was just plain exhausted and didn’t pay attention to his surroundings…..maybe it was too dark…..or maybe he just took one step too much.

The DA’s story in Bolder, Colorado over that Jon Benet murder case? Basically, the Grand Jury came back and said there was something criminally wrong with the actions of the parents, and the DA said ‘no’….he just couldn’t win in court, so why fight a case? I’m guessing folks will ask some silly questions here and wonder who paid who off.

The possible Iranian nuke plant explosion? Well….no one says nothing much, and it’ll stay that way. If you were one of those 240-odd characters at the bottom of the tunnel and stuck there because of the explosion….I’m guessing that no one is coming to your rescue. The replacement team? It’ll take two years to assemble all the right folks and start this whole mess up again. What caused the explosion? Well…as long as they don’t dig the tunnel out and figure out the cause….I’d say it’s a 99-percent chance of a repeat performance in five years. Just be glad these guys don’t run your local nuke power plant.

The Problem with Immigration Reform

There are three central themes to immigration reform, after you sit and watch this for a while.

First, this is always supposed to benefit Latinos ahead of everyone else.  The media pretends that the only illegals in America....are Latinos.  So, any reform has to give them a bigger cut than anyone else.  If any network does interviews with illegals....it's always a Latino....never a Russian or Brazilian.   After a while, it's more than obvious.

Second, everyone wants to slice immigration reform to be an immediate citizenship deal....nothing less than that is acceptable.  The theme is always....you admit you are illegal, then get a twelve-month deal to become a citizen, and unless you had some crime issues....no barriers.  The minute that anyone suggests a "path" to citizenship, and that all different groups (Chinese, African  Thai, etc).....then folks get huffy about this and declare this is not right. This 'path' business always leads to years and years of waiting for the citizenship deal...and no one has patience for that.

Third and final....there is always the hint that this is the final time that you'd ever need to settle any immigration reform.  Yep....it'll never come up again.  And usually....after a while....you ask why and how would this be permanent.  And people just smile and grin at you.....saying mostly nothing.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

The Original "Militia"

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

These were the words written into the Constitution....well over two hundred years ago.  In the end....the over-all document was signed by all members present, and has survived without any changes for this entire period.

For most people, there is this slight misunderstanding and lack of history on what militia really means.

If you existed in 1780...in any common village or town in America....you existed without a sheriff, cop, marshal, police, or military organization to provide protection for the community.

A militia was generally the term used....by all citizens at the time....for the locals who basically provided protection for the community until some figure of law (typically a judge) could arrive, assess the situation, and determine guidance.

An example?  Bob and Joe had a land deal in progress....when suddenly Bob yanks the offer back, sells to Marty, and concludes the deal in a matter of five minutes with the help of a barrel of whiskey to sweeten the deal.  Joe enters the scene....angry over this last-minute dump, and starts to fight Bob.  Local folks step in, stop the fight which had knives drawn, and send off to the county seat for a judge to come and sort out this mess.  The local folks?  A militia.

A local tribe has hostile feelings over the actions of two locals, killing one and chasing the other into a village.  The village reacts immediately drawing weapons, and protecting the individual and the village.  The action?  Committed by a militia.

A man is caught one night trying to steal cattle.  Five villagers catch the guy in the act, and hold him for three days awaiting a county judge to arrive and assess what punishment to dish out.  The five villagers?  A militia.

You did not require a sworn oath (note, the Constitution kinda hinted that you couldn't make rules to affect the militia when intact and acting as such).

You did not require military training of the militia.

You didn't have a list of rules to meet and determine the local leader of the militia.  If you wanted to do this and elect a guy....you did it on your own, without the Constitution dictating such.

There were no laws that dictated that a militia could only be formed in the event of an emergency.  A militia could form today, tonight, or any time.

The type of weapons that a militia could draw upon?  Never written, never specified, nor intended to be an issue as determined by Congress.  The militia could draw any weapon in defense of the community, and nothing within federal law could prevent that.

Now, that said....state law could direct various issues.  They could determine that no punishment be handled by the militia....only by a state-appointed judge.  They could issue a rule that no man be held permanently by a militia.  They could issue a law that dictated no militia could determine a death sentence upon a man, if he killed someone.

The federal power over militias and their guns was simple. Only the states could manage them and control them via their own structure.  It wasn't the job of Congress to settle militia problems.

Over two hundred years....our history professors have lost grasp of what was common knowledge in 1780.  And sadly, we are left with journalists who cannot stand history lessons or ask about the starting point of our own Constitution.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Some Advice

I will occasionally dispense some advice....although it probably won't help.

For the university quietly offering up a chancellorship to Hillary Clinton after she leaves the State Department...you might want to consider this....she's a good talker but a lousy management person.  If you have one single kid to die or pass away on the campus for any reason....you'd best expect parents to ask stupid questions and to bring lawsuits.  If your security around campus is two-star at best....don't expect any free rides via the state legal system.

For the folks around Illinois ...I'd advise you to read up on what low bond ratings really mean.  When you got dumped down to A-minus status yesterday....that's the lowest of the fifty states and their bond status ratings.  It means that if you borrow money....you pay a heck of a lot more....than most other states in taxes to repay the bond.  For every mile of road you pave....you can figure there's at least ten percent more costs added into the bond costs.  Hoping to get a better rating?  Unless you felt like firing a bunch of folks....don't kid yourself.

For banks listening in on Chicago's Mayor (Rahm Emanuel) and his talk to dump gun makers as clients....you might want to consider how many people are members of your bank and actually own a gun.  Around Chicago?  I'd be guessing that eighty percent of all adults in the city of Chicago own a gun, and most might take offense if you chose some morale path to make the media happy.  Could you afford to lose ten percent of your customer base?  Could you afford to lose ten percent of your small-business base?

For the FBI that has some evidence of some Senator going off to the Dominican Republican and having relations with young gals under eighteen?  Well...unless you can find a law that was violated in the US....just drop the whole investigation.  For the news organizations quietly holding onto the reports and refusing to publish on New Jersey's Bob Martinez?  Eventually, some idiot will figure out the reports, and your organizations, and put you in the press spotlight.  Bob might be target number one, but the fact that you just wouldn't say nothing about this in public?  No....folks aren't going to believe that.

And for those who quietly look for positive signs in the economy?  The experts admitted that new home sales in December dropped by seven percent.  No, it's not a big deal....but if you wanted something to help you feel good about the 2013 economy ...this isn't one of the positive features.

Simply Observations

If you remember the Chandra Levy episode....young intern...disappeared....her House Representative accused of possibly killing her...no body...eventually the Rep gets off the hook....body found in the woods around DC, and some criminal in DC eventually accused of the crime.  This was all back in 2001.  Well....the case has come back up because the accusations that were substantiated by a cell-mate of the accused....may not be totally true.  There's secret talks going on with the authorities and lawyers.  Without DNA evidence....this was not a very cut-and-dry case.  The fact that prosecutors have avoided any contact with the Levy family....kinda suggests that mistakes are going to be admitted in public shortly, and the guy will be let off the hook.  The Levy episode will just end as mysteriously as it started.

This talk of North Korea doing a nuke test?  Well...it's talk.  Everyone wants to pretend that it won't go too far.  The North Koreans?  I'm guessing that a group of five or six scientists are huddled around this plan to run up a nuke explosion of some variety....just to get their yearly bonus and get more money for research.  Eventually, the North Koreans will launch a missile that comes within a hundred miles of Coos Bay, Oregon, and then a bunch of west coast folks will freak out.  The Obama team will huddle and crank up some $20 billion dollar umbrella to protect the west coast folks....all because of a third-world country.  Who pays the $20 billion?  Mostly to come from loans via the Chinese....but it's best not to ask.

This single report by Fox News of the Social Security Disability Fund running out of money by 2016?  Well....it's built up on some data by a think-tank.  The truth?  You don't know.  The government won't dare go into this topic because there is an end-point to the fund, but it's best not to admit this until you get ninety days away, and then do the hour-by-hour dance at Congress to find funds to cover this.  We are creating more and more disabled folks....than what we did back in the 1970s.  This vast new part of our American society didn't exist until the last couple of decades.  Fixing it?  Well....you'd have to charge even more for Social Security, and I doubt that anyone would be happy about this.

Finally, some Mennonites have stood up and said this Discovery Channel show....Amish Mafia....is a show of bigotry.  Yes, after a century or so....the Mennonites have actually found some group who is making bigotry-type comments about them.  Course, you'd have to ask this question....how would you know this....unless you watched it on a TV, which is kinda illegal and goes against the group's rules?  Well.....it's best not to ask.

The Thirty-Two Hour Week?

So the DoD services are laying out the deal for civilian employees, with this sequestration situation.  At the end of March....most every single GS employee will have to schedule out twenty-two days of furlough, which have to be used by 1 October.

You can figure it out....it's roughly one day off per week.  Figure twenty percent of your monthly take-home pay is gone.

Then you start to calculate how things work....if you only come into the office thirty-two hours a week.  You have to cram as much into your thirty-two hours, then hope that this Karl that you interface with on Mondays and Wednesdays....to get some odd project done....decides that Monday is an awful fine day to take off.  So the project is getting less and less traction...as the weeks go by.

Three-day weekends?  Every week?  You start to plan out landscaping projects.  Maybe that garage paint-job?  Maybe visiting relatives that you don't normally visit?  Maybe seeing some part of the state that you talk about checking out but just haven't done it.

So the weeks go by.  Less work is actually accomplished.  Guys toss leave into this mix and suddenly take more four and five-day weekends.  People start to contemplate how to get the most done possible....with only thirty-two hours.

Then you come to October, and realize that nothing much has been fixed with the budget, and the generals start talking about restarting a thirty-two hour agenda in January of 2014....repeating the same mess again.

You thought that this twenty percent loss of pay was just a one-time deal.  Now?  You start to calculate that you will face nine months in 2014 with this same mess of twenty-two days of furlough.

That kid you need to send off to college in the fall of 2014?  Well....you are $10k short on the tuition because of all this short-pay situations.  That bulky $15k a year that you were sending into your government 401k deal?  Well....you can't possibly get to $15, with this limiting factor.  So there's less money planned out for retirement.  Another year of work....maybe two years more than expected?

What happens in October of 2014?  Well....another repeat?  Yeah....probably so.  So for the next four years or until the Senate can get it's act together.....you will make around fifteen percent less a year with these twenty-two furlough days figured into life's little mess.  The President might give you a pay-raise, and maybe you are a GS-12, GS-13, or GS-14.....but that check won't come to equal the right amount.

Just a humble guess, but by the end of 2014....a number of government executives will figure out this mess and realize that they will never get ahead....so why bother staying?  The President will try to hustle up a commission to determine why no one is staying around, and maybe even offer a ten-percent pay raise.....to work thirty-two hour weeks.

The answer to this mess?  The French folks have gotten use to 35-hour a week jobs over the last decade.  It would seem like we'd need to bring a bunch of French executives into the US government operation....to make this all work.  Just my humble opinion.


Friday, 25 January 2013

The Dog Story

Up in Rhode Island, there's a state legislative guy who is putting together a bill that would allow (enforcement as we know, is always a personal thing with cops) for an issuance of a $85 ticket....if you allow your pet to sit on your lap while driving a car.

I sat there for a while....pondering over this.  I imagine they must have a fairly big problem up in Rhode Island....with dogs, monkeys, and cats riding on their owners lap.  You can imagine road-blocks being set and Grandma coming up with Spot on her lap.  Cops cite Grandma, and pocket the $85.  Grandma gets home, and is all distraught over being punished for dog.

On the positive side?  Well....at least he didn't make up a $85 ticket for your dog being in the back of the pick-up.

Around two years ago....I had to drive from Virginia down to Bama on the interstate.  I came to notice this one car as I was passing....with some poodle sitting on a older guy's lap.  I'd been out of the country since 1994, and you typically don't see this kind of stuff in Germany.  By the end of this round-trip....I'd seen around five cars with dogs riding in the lap of the owner, as I passed them.

Maybe it does happen often, and we just don't notice it much anymore.

Chances of this passing?  Well...the article didn't touch on that.  I'm guessing that with all the gun talk....this bill might linger, and just never get passed.  Just my humble opinion.


Thursday, 24 January 2013

Women in Combat

Here's the thing....that most folks really don't grasp in this entire discussion.

If you only had to tote a canteen, a web belt, a helmet, two magazines of ammo, and a M-16....this would all be great, and we'd bring in fourteen thousand women a year to the Marines and Army for combat professions.

But there's this odd thing that occurred back in WWII as Marines walked across islands in the Pacific, and Army Grunts walked across France....they had to tote around eighty pounds of ammo, food, water, and gear with them.  Some even carried extra.

By Afghanistan, we've pushed the typical carry-weight now up to around one hundred pounds.  How many 140-pound women can carry that much?  None.

How many 200-pound women could carry that much and want to be in the military?  Maybe 300 at best in a year, but you'd have to pass the physical training stuff, and frankly, the Army has all these rules to prevent them from having 200-pound women (hint: the Marines have the same weight to height rules).

So how many will want to do it....want to be in harsh conditions for a month without changing underwear....pee standing up because you just can't stop at a fancy latrine.....and tote the 100-pound stuff?  Maybe five per year.

And finally this note....those five women who make it through and pass the tests, and can carry those 100-pound backpacks?  No Jihad guy or mere mortal would want to screw around or take any risks with these women.....they'd tear your guts apart in an instant.

So a mere Secretary of Defense can wave forty magic wanes....but the mere backpack situation....kinda trips up ninety-nine percent of those interested 

Bama Art Stuff

Down in south Bama, at the Troy University facility….the folks decided to have an art show.

As folks lined up and noted what they were going to bring, and the museum folks got things noted in order….the board members held a meeting (probably secret in nature), and decided this just wasn’t going to be a neat and tidy art show, thus canceling it.

Now, you’d ask what exactly happened to cause cancellation, and there was a theme that someone had suggested for this personal exhibit….the 2011 Alabama immigration law.

Course, in Bama, it raised a big stink in 2011….but these days….no one much talks about this except farmers who can’t find enough guys to work on their crops.

Well…in this case….folks decided that some things ought to be offensive in nature. That triggered the cancellation.

Some examples? Well….there were cans of Ajax with Nazi swastikas on top. You’d naturally ask what the meaning was, but WWII guys would say that they have an entirely different thought in their mind and start to relive the landing at Normandy. There’s also a piece of the Virgin Mary on some painting….holding broom in one hand and a dead chicken in the other. If it’d been a Democrat or Republican….folks might have accepted that, but you can’t have the Virgin Mary holding stuff like that in a picture.

To be honest, folks in Bama just don’t have a great appreciation of art. A guy could paint his John Deere tractor white, and toss on some Atlanta Braves logo’s, and it’d be considered mighty fine art. Another guy could paint Jeb Bush on his barn roof and folks would drive from forty miles around to see such a sight. You could plant 200 wooden ducks on your lawn, and it’d draw a number of comments from the local art folks.

But there’s a limit to art understanding in the state. The minute you toss on some Hebrew scripture, Inca Indian stuff, or fancy stuff with trampy and skimpy Swedish women….it’s beyond most of us. I’m guessing the Troy art folks will reconvene in three months, and find some safe things to bring into an exhibit….maybe painted tractors….and then plenty of locals would be interested.

My Take on Hillary

After watching the Hillary episode yesterday….I’ve come to four general observations.

First, generally, in life, you are responsible for your own stupidity. If you chose to drive to Birmingham and get off the interstate and just drive around on a Friday night….odds are you will either get robbed or get stabbed. Same deal for Memphis, same deal for East Saint Louis, same deal for southeast DC. This US ambassador in Libya should have added up things, and noted that Benghazi is kinda like Birmingham, and just stayed out of the area.

Second, if you chatted with the US ambassador in Rome, Italy….you’d find that he’s got lots of four-star security….way more than our guy in Libya had. Maybe it’s just me….but it seems like Libya was not going to rate you any real accommodations or security.

Third….if you kinda felt things were falling apart….you might have jumped the fence….ran over to the French ambassador’s compound, and let real French security guys save your life. Course, it’d deeply embarrass the President and State Department greatly….but you’d be six feet higher than you are today. Those French guys would have pulled out fifty guns and just started firing as wildly as possible, and some Jihad folks would have been either laying dead or running off.

Fourth and final....if you worked at some drug store in north Birmingham just off the interstate, and the boss wanted you to lock up each night at 10PM....alone....and walk out to the car in a unlighted parking lot. Then your boss didn't really care much for you, and you should have figured that out after one night at the new job.  Obviously, this ambassador didn't have no one much caring for him back at the State Department or it's security branch, and he was stupid enough to just accept that.

And now?  A new guy on the scene, and likely counting each hour until he can get that cushy Amsterdam job that is guaranteed by accepting this deal in Libya.  That's life in the State Department.

The "Winners"

In the midst of a number of states running up a ban on the sale of large ammo magazines....who wins?

Well, this is an interesting topic.  None of the southern states will even discuss such a ban.  So gun shops around the south will continue to sell large ammo magazines, unless Congress and the Senate agree on a bill to pass into law (it will never occur).

So gun shops in southern states will begin to get customers who have driven 500 and 1,000 miles....to buy forty or fifty ammo magazines (for themselves and neighbors).  And while at this gunshop in Tennessee, you can imagine Joe and Carl from New Jersey....buying a weapon or two, while on a gun-holiday vacation of sorts.  The guys hunt for a couple of days, buy guns, and drive slowly back to New Jersey.

Eventually, the political figures of New Jersey and the other states that enacted these laws will realize that it was all pretty stupid.

My Neighborhood

I have to lay out some of this story in advance.  Yesterday....there was an attack of three pitbulls in a DC neighborhood....in the northwest (the least violent of the DC areas).  The kid was riding his bike, and the dogs were completely on him.  I would imagine that it was a life-or-death situation, and that kid was going to be dead...one way or another.

Then, some guy comes out of his house....sees the action....retreats into the house, and pulls out a gun.  He fires, and kills one dog.  The cop arrives, and kills the remaining two dogs.

Now, in fifty different states....the guy and the cop would be given medals within a month by the mayor and pronounced as true heroes ....saving the kid.

Well....this is DC.  And having an unregistered gun is serious business.  And this guy's gun was unregistered.

Presently, the law in DC (city law) says you should get up to one year in prison and a $1k fine.  The lawyer opinion in DC is that if the guy shot from his property....there's a better chance that the cops will recommend this all get dropped.  So they are going to ask the cop where that guy was standing, and that cop is going to face a bit of gut-thinking.

Meanwhile, the neighbors are probably looking pretty long and hard at the political dimwits in the city council who passed this piece of work years ago.  They are all Democrats, and it's a harsh thing when Democratic voters turn on Democratic political figures.

Of all cities and states in the US....DC's gun laws are considered the most extreme.  If you pull a gun out....it'd best within the walls of your house, and an absolute life-or-death situation.

The dogs?  All dead.  Their owner?  Don't know.  Funny thing....even if they found the owner....he'd likely just get a citation and pay $100 a dog for his mess.  Most folks in this neighborhood would agree that he's the one who ought to do twelve months in the DC jail.

Yeah, it's a big bad mess.  You stand up....save some punk kid from a dog attack, and the cops come to confiscate your gun, accuse you of a terrible crime, and hint of a year in jail for saving the kid.  Only in DC.

NPR's Question

Yesterday, NPR asked the question....how would better mental health care reduce gun violence?  I didn't really get past the title of the report, and I just sat there for ten minutes pausing over and pondering this question.

Here's the deal.  Your nephew Carl is ok while medicated....for roughly 349 days out of the year.  Those other sixteen days?  Well...it's best not to have knife, gun, wrench, hammer or baseball bat in the house.

If we had a national database of medicated folks....then we'd start to realize the impact of how many and how big a threat they are.  Then we'd come to agree on having state facilities created, and put these individuals into a mandatory care program.

Over the course of four years...I believe the statistics would start to show lesser gun violence.  Now, some would say it's just not fair to put violent people into facilities.  NPR might be visibly upset because ten percent of their listeners are medicated to such an extent.

So there is answer to the question....yes, we could reduce gun, knife, bat, hammer, and wrench violence...all in one package.  But I seriously doubt that you'd be agreeable to tossing your nephew into some state mental facility.

Simply Observations

It won't make the national media, but Oregon has a bill that it's pushing through the state legislature that would make cigarettes into a class '3' substance.....thus requiring them to be prescribed by a doctor and bought only via a pharmacy.  The odds of passing?  Don't know.....maybe less than thirty percent.  But here's the thing....one day, such a bill will pass in one state.  It'll be a west coast state, and it'll shock just about every smoker in the state.  Most everyone will buy their smokes via Indian reservations or across the border from another state.  A year or two later....a border state will pass the same legislation.  Things will get kinda messy then.  Kind of an odd way to see the demise of smoking.

The Hillary moments from yesterday?  She stood up to hours of heat and intensity.  Some of her talk was acting....at best.  In the end, I had the impression that she's four-star at high-level talks, but probably shouldn't be managing the executive actions of an organization.  And the comment about cut funds over the last year or two?  Well...Congress has never denied what they asked for.  That came out and kind of made her look pretty stupid.

The drop in Apple stock yesterday?  Well....they don't have a bunch of fancy gadgets left in the magic closet by their founder.  The stock was over-priced, and it won't shock me if it eventually drops down to $250 a share (currently around $450-more-or-less).

This business of putting women into combat?  I would say that you can find various women who would fit into the role and be physically able to do the job.  Out of a hundred women at age eighteen?  Well....it might be only six.  If those six want to do the mission....let them.  But the idea of pushing someone who really shouldn't be in combat into such a job?  No....don't start pushing or you will find a screwed up force.

Yeah, it is true, that a Philly school did suspend a kid who brought a paper gun into the school.  Yeah, they look like fools.

Finally, it is a true story that Donald Trump wants to buy the New York Times....which is in serious financial shape.  The people who run the Times....absolutely do not want Trump in charge.....and will look for just about any liberal possible....even Al Gore....to come in and save them.  It would be an amazing story...if Trump succeeds.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

A Little Test Incentive

The Navy started today with hand-held breathalyzers....which will be pulled out at random and used on various folks....any hour of the day.

A problem?  Well...you don't know.

Most sailors will do fine on the first random selection....but if this is a monthly thing or even five or six times a year....there's going to be some hostility about it eventually.

In the late 70s in the Air Force....I can attest to the fact that most every guy would show up at 8AM in a sober condition.  Around noon.....they would go downhill.  The older guys who'd been through Thailand or Nam....generally always stepped out for lunch and a beer (maybe two beers....maybe three beers).  Somewhere in the mid 80's....these guys disappeared and by the mid-90's, it was a harsh environment for a guy to have a beer or two at lunch.

The problem is that war over the past decade has done some odd things to people.  Some folks need that drink at 10AM, and they might be putting half-a-bottle of booze away by mid-afternoon.

What the Navy doesn't want....is some accident to occur and it's the fault of a couple of drunk guys.  Maybe this makes sense in the long run.

The California Tax Saga

What Phil Mickelson said about his California tax situation has to be explained to most folks.

First, when you think up some idea to pack up and leave the trailer court, you don't say nothing until Friday....hook up your trailer....leave....get two states away by Saturday morning....and kinda wait for crap from the trailer court manager.

In this case, Phil telegraphed the California state tax commission  and they just might start up an audit today.....just to hinder and make his life and that of the tax accountant a mess (all compliments of themselves).  So you never say nothing in public, until you've packed up, moved to Vegas, and then send them a card to say you've left their state and will never pay taxes there again.  At that point, they could audit you for the day you left, or unpaid bills....but it's a difficult mess.

Imagine being a California state tax lawyer, and coming to Texas to get a search warrant fixed up.  Folks in Midland, Texas will ask stupid questions and make your attempt to seize computers or records miserable.  Same likely goes for any county in Nevada except for Vegas.

How many folks are thinking this way?  You just don't know.  There's bound to be several thousand businessmen looking at moving out of the state.  Maybe you can leave one guy or just a small group of guys in California, and just run an annex of your operation.

I'm guessing some folks are looking at a RV operation where you drive in for six weeks....conduct business quietly, and then go back to Vegas to do your real work for the next two months.  As long as you avoid going over ninety days....you are fairly safe.  I would imagine that the cops will be looking for RV offices and conducting search warrants.

The worst part of this mess is six to eight months from now....when a couple of guys gather at some table in a small town outside of Riverside for their monthly meeting of small business owners, and realize that half the group have up and left.  This kinda creates the tidal wave affect.....so more folks start talking about this. By the end of 2014, you might see as much as ten percent of the state's current small business operations gone.

So this brings you to two questions...first, how do you as a political figure now explain this to the public, and react to $400 million less in the revenue tax bucket?  If this is a trend....just how bad does it get next year, and can you explain it a second time?

But then we get to this very curious question....how would you attract these guys back?  The answer?  Currently, you can't.  You need a billion new bucks a year out of thin air....and you just won't get that.

My prediction is this in 2020 (seven years from now).  A third of all small business operations that existed in 2010....are gone.  The state of California will now run up the cost of tuition for one year of community college at $20k a year.  You want a year of real college....figure $26k a year.  Out of state?  Maybe $48k a year.

Live in a rough neighborhood?  Don't figure more cops but less cops.  Seen houses burn down because the fire department cut the number of trucks in half?  Yeah....it might be a problem.

Folks actually might start talking of Arkansas being better than California.  That's a switch.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Fortune Telling

We have an odd event going on in Gaitherburg, Maryland.  You see....they have a ban on fortune telling.  You can't open such a business....even if it's not a business.  Well....some folks have been approaching the city council and they want fortune telling opened up....licensed. So there's a discussion underway.

Currently, the hint by the mayor and city council is that they will open it to the public, with a few rules.  No one is sure about what rules but it's going to end up being licensed (my humble guess).

Fortune telling is this odd stuff that most people just laugh over and would never pay some gal $20 to sit and gaze over their crystal ball to project their future.  At best, maybe a dozen Americans out of a hundred would do this once in their life...just hoping for some guidance.

Latinos?  Well....it's a totally different scheme. I would imagine that around fifty to sixty percent of all adult Latinos would be willing to pay $20 to hear some predictions about their future.  There might even be ten percent who'd pay $20 a month to hear their current status and love situation or job improvement.

The city?  Well....it'd be interesting if the mayor went over to Rockville, and found some fortune telling gal who predicts this will make a ton of tax revenue for the city.

Back in history....Hitler relied a great deal on astrology to plan out and direct the running of World War II.  After the war, a number of Germans were kind of shocked at the extent that he used these bogus fortune tellers to run the government.  If any German political figure came out today to admit visiting a fortune teller....it'd be his immediate downfall.

I'm guessing that a number of people connected to the city council are calling their friends and making good humor out of the situation.  Maybe the city will start each session of the council meeting, with Madam Zala who predicts the wonderful days ahead of the council.  It'd make folks feel pretty positive over competence or bankruptcy in the future.

The No-Pay Solution

With the House leadership now discussing the idea of sliding no-pay for any House or Senate member, without a budget in place.....it begs for some analysis.

Basically, you'd have to entice the Senate to come to the table and discuss reasonable budget building.  A failure would result in no budget, and thus no pay for the Senators or House members.

Could they make this happen in 2013?  No.  Because of the way that the Constitution is fixed....they could only put this into effect in October of 2014.

Is it even worth committing to.....if it's over eighteen months away?  Yes.

Since the Senate hasn't passed a budget bill in almost four years....it's a likely chance that nothing will be worked out now in 2013, or into the summer of 2014.

What happens as we advance to October of 2014?  Well....there's a national vote for some states and all House members.  If there is no budget....then they'd be having the vote in November of 2014, with no pay-checks coming in.

I would imagine that some Senators would have to admit that they can't function in such an environment. Some will admit they are millionaires and frankly don't care.....which maybe their voters might have a curious interest about their wealth and how they acquired it.

A bigger mess by October 2014?  Probably so.  I wouldn't expect any budget movement by the Senate and this no-pay solution would start to attract alot of interest by this summer.  Most Americans would readily agree with it, and thus pose a bigger problem for the Democrats than just skipping the budget discussion.

Can a Senator survive a year or two without a pay-check?  I have my doubts that most can make it without that monthly check.  It might turn out to be the best solution in the end.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Simply Observations

There was a mass shooting in New Mexico over the weekend.  It probably won't make it onto the national news.  If you use the FBI definition....a mass shooting is where four people or more are killed by the guilty party.  In this case....around the outer limits of Albuquerque, NM....some fifteen year old kid shoot both parents and the three brothers and sisters.  All that the cops currently say is that they have the kid in their possession, all five are dead, all shot apparently by a semi-automatic rifle, and that the father was a volunteer chaplain with the local fire department.  The odds of the kid being on meds?  Well....you might have wait a week or two for this to finally come out.  I would imagine that he might be a gamer....but again...you will have to wait on those comments.  The state will debate his adult-status for a month or two, but I suspect he will be placed in an adult court.

Yeah, that latest Arnold-movie didn't really do that well.  Course, it's the wrong time of year and maybe it was just a lousy story.  You just don't know.

The US sat and wasted a fair amount of time preparing and passing a law to go against Russia over the death of a Russian activist lawyer.  Well....the Russians looked at the mess, and are preparing a "Gitmo-list", which will include sixty odd Americans who if they attempt to enter Russia....will be put into jail immediately with no protection from some treaty.  So far, they hint that there are Senators and Representatives on the list...but won't say who.  It's a comedy of sorts because you'd think that US Senators and Representatives have a big mess to worry about in the US, but somehow found time to find this small mess in Russia to worry about.  The Russians?  They usually don't kid around.

There's this science story today of an idea to zap your brain with electrical wattage occasionally to lessen the effect of Alzheimers.  No one much is sure about the end result but they think it could delay the progress of the disease.

Finally, there's a British professor who thinks he has the DNA sequence ready to get some gal pregnant with a neanderthal kid.  But he needs a lady who is a willing volunteer to this.  Yeah, it does sound like some theme for a horror movie, but this is the UK and stranger things have happened.  What happens if he is right?  Do we go out and reproduce 10k Neanderthal folks?  And then what?  Eventually, someone would worry if they'd vote Republican or Democrat, and it'd just turn into a bigger mess....if you ask me.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

The End of the Base Theater

In the first couple of years that I spent in the Air Force....I probably went over to the base theater at least forty times a year.

The Air Force would run through roughly 220 movies a year.  Some would be around for one night....a few for two nights....and on rare occasions....a couple for a third night.  So you had to get a schedule and pay attention.

The cost?  In the late seventies....it was around a buck to go into a theater, and the popcorn and Coke was maybe sixty cents.

I admit, these Air Force theaters were fairly standard....nothing fancy.  Every theater had a funny smell.  Most head seats that had been there for thirty years.

This past week, the Air Force came around to admit there's a change coming.  Since the movie industry is switching over to digital....these 35 mm projectors are going to go obsolete very soon.  The Air Force has figured out the cost of refurbishing each base theater to a tune of $120k each.  Basically, with 120 of such theaters in operation....they really can't afford to fix them all.  So they will fix sixty, and shut down the other sixty.

The theater at Ellsworth Air Force base in South Dakota did their final show last night.  It will be no more.  If you want to see a movie....you will have to travel downtown.  It is the end of an era.

To be kind of honest, I doubt if that many folks go to nightly shows anymore at a base.  I can remember walking into the Rhein Main theater in 1978 on a Tuesday night, with a two-star movie showing, and at least one-hundred-fifty folks in the audience.  Today, on a Tuesday night with a three-star movie?  You might be lucky at some bases to find thirty people attending.

The barracks guys have found streaming video and don't need to go walk a mile over to the base theater to watch a movie.

Some older guys will sit and pause over this period...say the 1960s and 1970s....when they spend hours at the base club or the base theater.  They will reflect over cheap prices and cheap drinks.  Most of that is slowly coming to an end.

The No-Pay Idea

I admit, it was a fairly radical idea of conducting government business.

For four years....the US Senate has been unable to write up and pass a budget bill.  Senator Harry Reid has noted various minor problems.  Strangely enough....no idiot journalist has commented in his presence that for two hundred years....the Senate was able to conduct such business on a yearly basis.

This week, the House came around to this new concept.  They were going to compromise on a number of things and rig up this catch-twenty-one episode.  If the Senate lagged or played no-compromise, then pay was set to expire for everyone in the House and Senate.

You can imagine this scene.  Some Senator getting a call at the office....the bank is a bit worried that a check arrived for $10k and Senator Bob doesn't have funds to cover it.

At some point during this discussion....the House came to find out that the Constitution spelled out this odd pay event....perhaps in a way to ever prevent such an event from happening.  You can change the pay of everyone, but it's not effective until the next fiscal year after this.  So October of 2014 is the earliest that a no-pay situation could fall into play.

It wouldn't help currently, but I would imagine that sixty percent of Americans would say go ahead and make this happen.  I don't believe the Senate will pass any budget this year, or next year.  They've gotten use to this non-action stuff.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

That Earl Guy

I rarely ever blog over baseball anymore.  The steroid and bogus period of the 1990s still bothers me.

Today, a legend of sorts in baseball passed on....with Earl Weaver.  Earl was the manager of the Baltimore Orioles for seventeen seasons.  If you came to a came with the Orioles during this period....part of the reason was simply to watch what might develop with Earl.  Throughout the 1970s and part of the 1980s....Earl was part of the baseball.

Earl might spend ten games of the entire season on the bench for the entire game.  But for the majority of the games....he would readily come out and argue over just about any call that the umpires would make.  Earl could take a very simple call, and trigger a fifteen tirade that would involve finger-pointing, a recital of actual baseball rules, questions over the vision of an umpire, and in some cases....just plain insults.

It was like watching an opera go on....and instead of the fat lady....you got Earl.

I suspect Earl's players sometimes felt that they were part of a bigger thing in life, when Earl would come to defend them, their lousy play, or some minor moment in the game.

Earl had a strange view of run production.  You could view all of the teams that Earl had over that seventeen year period, and proudly say that he never recruited any guys who could run or steal bases.  Earl found guys who could pitch, hit, and produce home runs, period.  This wussy stolen base thing was for other teams....not the Orioles.

If you sat and watched a game, and Earl came out and started to circle the umpire....it was a sure sign that he wanted them to toss him out.  The final straw....like some wrestling show dram...was when Earl would kick dirt around at the shoes of the umpire.  That always resulted in Earl being tossed out of the park.

So in passing, I'm pretty sure that Earl is up in heaven, and arguing with God over some infraction.  And yeah, if there was dirt in heaven....he'd be kicking up dirt....just to make a point.  

Folks You Might Know

A Bama guy was never meant to be traveling far from the heartland.  We tend to notice things that most folks never pay much attention to, and that could be a dangerous thing.

I occasionally have to ride the DC Metro subway system....from three minutes to fifteen minutes.  It doesn't take much upon entering such a subway car....to notice things.

There's going to be the guy who's there in the midst of January with sandals on.....with the outside temp around 32 degrees.  You'd like to ask him where he's from, but you expect the answer to be Michigan.  Maybe it's best not to know that answer.

Then there's that gal dressed up in 1966-like clothing and feeling really fashionable.  She looks like a dumb-ass but you try not to say much.  She probably did her shopping at Marty's Pick-and-Go in Boaz, where he got all that cheap clothing from the Atlanta store bankruptcy back in 1971.

Then, there's the guy sitting there and doing twelve hand signals every minute.  You suspect he's on meds, and he'd be doing three times that number of hand signals if he wasn't on meds.

Then, there's the gal talking up a storm to some imaginary person over Interpol, Burma generals, Nazi agents, and secret meetings with Cheney.  I'd like to sit down and introduce myself as a alien from Mars....but she might actually take me serious and want to follow me to work.

Then, there's the guy who is dressed like he just got out of a Fairbanks snow-plow.  He's got on six layers of clothing, and sweating up a storm.  You kinda wonder what his real occupation is....but it's best not to ask.

There's some lady over in the corner with two pounds of hand sanitizer that she is pumping into her hands.  I'd just like to step up and offer to shake her hand....to see how she'd react.  Maybe cough once or twice.

There's the slutty gal dressed in some skirt that only goes one inch below the crotch.....and about ninety percent of her top is fully exposed.  You figure she works for some Senator, but it's best not to ask.  She has six-inch heels and some weird stockings that you probably can only buy in Montreal.  You'd think that you'd catch a cold with such little clothing, but I reckon that the Senator keeps the office temperature up around 82.

Across the way, there's the older gal sitting and reading a Doctor Bob and Nurse Wanda novel.  You'd like to walk over and introduce yourself as Doctor Harvey, chief doctor of such-and-such hospital and looking for someone to escort to a fancy opera in DC for Friday night.  She might freak out though.

Down the aisle is the Uncle Karl character, who is pepped up on caffeine.... probably his sixth cup of coffee this morning.  He is extremely focused, and he's got barely twelve minutes before he hits zero-minute and he desperately needs a visit to the bathroom.

Finally, there's the Ag guy from Auburn who works for some government agricultural department and reading through the daily agricultural news. He's up on hog prices, wheat futures, tractor sales in Utah, and drought news from Florida.

After a while, you feel like it's the Twilight Zone, and you just don't belong there.  The train stops.  And you get a chance to leave.  The door closes.  And the crew drives on, with fresh new characters.

Bama guys should never travel beyond the borders of Bama.  Just my conventional wisdom kicking in.

Your Regulated Life

A kid who is born today....by age six....will have been involved or evolved through 2k pages of federal regulation.  From the hospital he was born in, the social security number assigned, mandatory shots, the care given, or the food given in those initial 365 days.

Between six and twelve, you can add around 4k pages of additional federal regulation that he or she will shuffle through.  The little league team and the field upon which they play will be federally regulated in some fashion.  The standards of the school?  Established by hundreds of pages of regulation.  The allergy medicine, the flu shots, and the Bactine mist?  All government regulated.  The bed upon you sleep?  There's some kind of sticker on it which notes the government regulations used to manufacture it.  The school bus?  At least fifty pages of regulation to make sure it's safe or guzzles the right amount of gas.  The teachers?  All government regulated.

Between twelve and eighteen, add on another six thousand pages of regulation.  The football helmets, the after-school activities, and the steroids that the family doctor gives you....all regulated.  The sneak way that you got birth control pills from the school nurse and some county doctor?  All government regulated.  The car that you bought with Grandma's money?  Regulated.

Between eighteen and twenty-five, you discover another six thousand pages of regulation.  The community college or truckers school all found ways to score on government grants....covered by regulation.  The cheap apartment complex you found....sponsored by a government grant and regulation. That butterfly project you helped Professor Poindexter accomplish?  Covered by a government grant and regulation.

Between twenty-five and sixty-five, add another ten thousand pages of regulation.  You married someone, and it was covered by the government act of real marriage (not fake stuff)....only because of government regulation.  The cattle you sold via the local farmer's market?  All covered by government regulation.  The fancy trip to Aruba?  Covered by government regulation.  The loan to buy that over-priced house for $350k?  Covered by government regulation.

From sixty-five on?  There's probably twenty thousand more pages of regulation....to cover social security, retirement, taxes, MEDICARE, and marrying a young Thai gal as you approach seventy years old.  Even as you die....there's government regulation.

So on that final day, as you note yourself in the status of almost passing....there will have been fifty thousand pages of regulation in your life.  To be honest, you probably didn't intend to read more than 1k pages of it.  And the rest?  Just passing over a piece here and there.

Truthfully, life isn't that simple anymore.

Simply Observations

TSA is finally rounding up all those "nudie-scanners" that they got about three years ago, and dumping them.  Reason?  Well...the company says they can't comply to a law that now says you need to obstruct the nude nature of folks and make a fake digital cloth around the item on the screen.  It's best not to even bring up the cost of this whole mess.  But here's the thing.  If you were a sports bar owner (several franchises).....you should go and offer $5k for each machine.  The deal?  You bring them into a bar and open the floor with these while guys and gals look over their digital nude image.  They'd practically show up night after night....with some new 'friend' and do a dance, then convince them to step in front of the scanner.  You'd make your investment back in six months and clear profit after that.

Someone came up to announce this week that the Cheesecake Factory's Shrimp Pasta is loaded with 3,100-odd calories.  I should add that it has over a 1,000 milligrams of sodium to it as well.    Toss in a soda?  Now, it's up to 3,300 calories.  With one of those, and a normal breakfast, and evening meal....you would be up to around 6k calories.

Some guy in Bama is in a bunch of trouble.  He went out and shoot three deer-hunting dogs, while out in the woods.  There's a hunter association offering $1k in reward money for someone to turn the guy in.  When you get to some moment of stupidity and shoot some guy's hunting dogs....you've likely sunk pretty low.  I'm guessing that you will admit this to someone eventually....just to brag about it, and they will likely turn you in.

Finally, the Monday ceremony for the President promises to be a fairly arctic situation....with freezing temperatures expected all day long.  Who would come out for eight to ten hours of this, and then face at least two hours of trouble in getting into the Metro stations and out to their car?  I'm not sure.  Most kids would absolutely refuse if you detailed the entire plan.  Most adults would likely beg to wrap it up after three hours.

Friday, 18 January 2013

The Mountain-of-a-Mess

Years ago...in the early 90s....I knew someone that had around $70k in credit card debt.  They were unconnected to the military, and probably paying around $900 a month on average....just keeping the debt at some normal stage, but never advancing on the debt.

The way that this typically works, you get hooked up for four or five credit cards....mostly to $12k each.  So you start to spend a thousand here, and a thousand there.  After about six years of this....you wake up one day and owe $40k easily.

You had great trips to Vegas, San Diego, the Rocky Mountains, and various resorts.  You bought a fancy refrigerator, a $1,500 dining room table made out of glass, a $2k laptop, and paid for $5k transmission job on a twelve-year old car.

At $40k....you kinda lay off wild spending, but only pay $400 a month, and the interest starts to pile up.  Two years later....you wake up and owe around $50k, and have to pay $700 just to stay even.  Emergencies still pop up and you continue to max out on the cards.

The truth is....unless some relative feels sorry for you....you will never get out of this mess.  If you get the owed amount down to $20k, and keep throwing those $1k a month checks at them.....you might actually fix your problem.

So you turn to the nation with $16 trillion in debt.  And you kinda wonder what rich relative will save your butt, but you can't find anyone fitting that bill.

You'd like to cut back on expenses and just pay extra on what you owe, but then you keep grinning at folks and saying you like that free stuff.

You'd like to say that life goes on but the truth is....there is point where your life won't go on in the same manner.  And you might be shocked at how lousy your government is with money.

Simply Observations

This Colon Powell comment over a segment of the Republicans being 'dark in nature'?  Sometimes, you can tell when some guy was told to appear on some TV political chat show and has a scripted response talking people handed to them that doesn't match up to comments they've made in the past.  If you had been the commentator....you might have turned and asked if there are Democrats who are 'dark in nature', and he would have grinned and said yes.  And the whole effort would have been comical in nature.  Luckily for us....CBS doesn't hire bright guys for their staff, and Colon gets off the hook without any further comments.

This new fancy law in New York state over gun magazines (7 bullet limit)?  Well...cops now admit that it affects them too, and all these pistols that the state bought for them (the expensive fancy type).....they use a magazine for 15 bullets.  The governor's staff is kinda quiet right now.  They want the hype on their big piece through the weekend, and maybe go to fix the law that they passed so quickly.  Typically....when you rush to pass laws like this....it's a one-hundred percent chance that they will be screwed up somewhere in the text.

Not that it really matters, but the cable show...Amish Mafia....has made it to number two in the ratings stuff.  It's second only to O'Reilly's show.  Is Amish Mafia fake?  Yes, but it's entertaining and basically, if you ever got into trouble....I'd call the Amish Mafia with their shotguns to my rescue.  And I'd like to suggest the next fake show for Discovery....a 20-part series on Alabama versus Auburn fans in Bama....mostly all fake, where they fight and rough each other up over the season, with the final game between the two of them.

With the business in New York state with the new gun laws and various regulations over salt and sodas....someone in Texas got smart and started advertising to ask New Yorkers to consider moving to Texas.  The chief bait?  No state tax.  My humble guess is that 500 New Yorkers will eventually review the evidence and possibly move down to Texas....with half returning to New York within a year.  The number of Texans who move to New York? Well....unless the Rangers trade you to the Yankees....it's about zero.  A Texan would never consider such a move.  

Finally, and maybe it's just me seeing this.  But basically, with three hundred millions weapons spread around America....the executive orders didn't detract or take away a single weapon from anyone.  Unless you went out of your way to demonstrate yourself as a nut....looks like your gun collection is safe, and you can go down to Larry's Pawn Shop to buy another twelve pistols this weekend.  Other than the standard background check....nothing much happened.

Trees of a Lesser Nature

Over the past year in Greece, the forestry guys have noted an odd thing.  Fewer trees.

Greece isn't exactly a country with magnificent forests....like you'd see in Finland, Siberia, or Idaho.  There's a limited count of trees in Greece.  And everyday, there's a couple hundred less.

Most of the trees that would grow there....are fir, pines, olive, and cyprus trees.

The current action?  Well...ever since that silly economic mess started....folks have come to realize that natural gas or anything to heat your home....costs money.  So Uncle Karl goes out after dark....cuts down a tree or two, and quietly drags it back to the family.  No one says much.  They know it came from state or public lands....sometimes even private property.  But the fact is....it's the only way to stay warm without cost involved.

What happens down the road?  Well...if this was a simple two-year episode, we'd eventually come to a close and folks would stop cutting down trees.  But in this case....that won't happen.

This economic mess will likely be around for twenty years.  And the quantity of trees that exists?  I'd expect ninety percent of the forest growth to be cut over that period....illegally.  Cops will eventually get involved and attempt to arrest people.  But no judge is going to send someone off to prison....for cutting a tree....not in this current environment.

In the years to come....some dimwit will make a two-hour documentary about the bare lands of Greece, and the loss of the trees.  It'll be a woeful tale and you will shake your head.  There's not much you say or do.  Life just goes on.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Some Health Stuff

There are two health stories worth commenting about.

First, a county hospital up in Pennsylvania came up to admit that this requirements list for delivery-specialist doctors was such….that they were just going to halt the recruitment of these guys for their hospital. If you were up to bearing a child….they would recommend other hospitals…the nearest being ten miles away….to do your delivery business.

So this brings up an interesting episode.

The Obama health care program kinda laid out various requirements, and the limitations of what you can charge for each option….if you get onto these low-cost health policies. There’s not much room to recruit and keep any decent specialist. These guys finish medical school with $100k in loans, and basically don’t work for chicken-feed (a Bama term). By the time you get your local county hospital up to speed, recruiting folks, paying them, handing them bonuses occasionally, giving them four-star benefits….you have to look at the bottom line on costs. If you can’t afford a guy, then you don’t hire him. They could fix this by hiring Doctor Jose from Peru, but the odds are that you’d have some issue with a doctor who had a thick Peruvian accent.

The guys who dreamed up the health care act….didn’t really anticipate things like this would happen. Cheaper care, for cheaper dollars, all made sense.

Is this all a bad thing? Well…up until the 1920s….most women just had local women who stepped into the house….did all the doctor stuff, and maybe four women out of a hundred actually had a local doctor come by the house for bad situations. We kinda accepted modernization and felt that we couldn’t survive without the specialist. Today, you couldn’t really convince anyone to think this way.

The Administration? Well…they will eventually step in after a hundred county hospitals announce that they’ve hit rock-bottom on what they can offer a delivery-specialist doctor….based on their business model. Once the other specialist guys see this attention….they will repeat the same deal. Bottom line? Everything will cost more in the end.

The second story is this energy drink business.

The statistical guys say that almost 20k folks a year in America are going into the emergency room because they got hyped up on energy drinks. They kinda felt they were having a heart attack, and in truth….it was all this hyped-up caffeine that got them peppy.

Frankly, the doctors are getting tired of it. They are wasted hours and hours on folks who aren’t having a heart attack. Insurance companies are paying for these $700 visits to the emergency room, and premiums….if you haven’t guessed….are going up.

Should we do something about this? Energy-drink control?

Maybe a Presidential order?

You can imagine how quick the drink guys would get all hyper about our rights to drink high-caffeine drinks. And even those Starbucks folks might be in trouble.

So when you get all hyper after drinking a energy drink….it’s best to just find a lawn chair and just sit under a tree for two hours while you chill out. Don’t worry….when the big one does finally come….it won’t linger, it’ll be quick.

Our Lance

Lance Armstrong.

Years, months, weeks, and days have passed. We are now left with some odd story of how Lance carried out some dishonest effort to beat the system. Every known drug test at the time….could not detect anything of a violation. Life went on. Lance won some bike races. Media dimwits talked excessively about Lance, French people, the Tour de France, and winning.

To be kinda honest, I don’t pay a lot of attention, and frankly…..don’t rightly care.

Do I know anyone that did the Tour de France? No.

Would I do the the Tour de France? No.

Would I ride a bike around the Alabama state border for six weeks (about what it’d take for me)? No.

Would it give me a big thrill if some Auburn or Alabama football player did the Tour de France? No.

Other than Paris and Normandy….can I even name another French town? No.

Other than Charles de Gaul, Napoleon, Brigitte Bardot, Gustav Eiffel (the Eiffel tower guy), and Joan of Arc….I don’t even know any French folks.

This cheating business? Seems like we just winked at a bunch of baseball players and they just kept hitting home runs for an entire decade. We just laughed when the whole thing came out to be fake because of the steroid business.

Lance got rich off the bogus wins? Well, he got taxed as well. So he helped the US government with its enormous tax burden there for an entire decade. We ought to appreciate his effort to get fake wins and pay his fair share of fake taxes.

Upset? If you are so weak to get upset about this kind of stuff….what do you do when Senator Tubby admits that he gave $500k in grants to some professor to study butterfly's in Argentina? Yeah, it’s all a fake show, for folks to feel a good fake feeling, and wish a fake recovery for the fake Lance.

The odd thing? Well, not that we’d suggest this. But Lance could clean himself up, and run over to France this summer….run the Tour de France….win, and do it without any drugs. Man, that’d really shake up folks.

Our Lord of the Flies

Years ago....I picked up and went through Lord of the Flies (by William Golding).  To be honest, about seventy pages into the book, I questioned myself and wanted to put it aside.  It kind of read like a Hardy Boys book where they were dumped off on some island and just deeper into a mess every single day.  Without mature leadership (the hint of the book), society could not survive.  The aim, as I found out late by the writer, was to demonstrate that in a nuclear world....you needed adults and not children running things.

Last night, I went and watched the clips of the Presidential piece yesterday over gun control, and landscape of the event were these kids around the President.  He went through several minutes of pointed comments about how he felt drawn to the woes of the children, their fears, their commentary, and this was his effort to 'help' the kids.

For some odd reason, I had this view and connection to Lord of the Flies in this whole event....maybe even the whole process that went into it.

Kids, or immature leadership....tend to prioritize things, and do things without any real thought process into it.  On the first view....you might consider their actions to be legitimate because they are just kids.  After a while, you'd hope that they'd realize mistakes, get wiser, and eventually make better decisions.  In the wrong environment, under the wrong circumstances....they just repeat mistake after mistake.

I didn't realize it until maybe a decade ago...that Lord of the Flies was supposed to sum up our world in a nuclear environment.  If we had wise people making the choices, then society would survive.  If we had immature leadership....we were destined for a pretty bad mess.

If I had a list of 100 books that you ought to read in your life....Lord of the Flies wouldn't be on it.  Maybe it does say alot about leadership or what happens if mature people don't run things....but I simply don't see it as a great classic.

My humble guess?  Someone in the White House staff probably read Lord of the Flies in the last year....got all peppy over kids being in a process, and suggested something as a joke.  And the White House leadership picked it up and ran with it....even a bigger joke.  And in the end?  Well....in the case of the Lord of the Flies....some British Navy guy does show up one day (just in time)....to really clear up the mess and make things right.  We can only hope....that old British Navy guy is around and might still be able to sail into DC and save things at the right time.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The Order of Orders

I sat and reviewed the 23-odd Presidential executive orders.  It's an odd group:

1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.

-- And they weren’t already doing this? They didn’t care about doing the right thing before and you had to order them to do this?

2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.

-- The law was passed by Congress and will continue to be a law on the books until Congress directs it’s removal. Any state or county can enforce the law, if they desire.

3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.

-- Basically, you refuse to give them various federal funding packages unless they play by your rules….paving money, or bridge money, or river-clean-up money. Or they can refuse to even collect the data, thus making such a database worthless to start with, unless you give them an extra $5 million just to hire Buddy Joe (a friend of the Governor's office).

4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.

-- There’s basically two categories…normal folks and crazy folks. What would you do if you had a crazy guy? Can you really prohibit him from having a weapon? Will the Attorney General create fourteen categories?  Well....you don't know.

5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.

-- How long would such a full background check take? You stop a guy on your interstate and seize the gun to take over to the county office. Joe wants his gun back now…but you end up forcing Joe to stay overnight at the Motel Six….and into the afternoon of the second day….before handing his weapon back? You could generate $500k of local hotel tax revenue….forcing guys traveling from one state to another….to wait out some seized gun scam by the local cops?

6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.

-- Who from the state or local government will enforce such a directive? None of them are honor-bound to obey Presidential orders. Will the private sellers have the same form of ID as required for voting in elections? Well....that wasn't spelled out.

7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign. -- Yes, we will unload $600 million in advertising dollars (tax revenue), to show hunter Joe and customer Bob in responsible activity with guns. TV and radio stations will greatly appreciate your effort. What about those who don’t watch TV or listen to radio? Well…yeah, that’s a problem.

8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).

-- At least six different paid studies will be underway via university or private companies on a government grant, likely totaling $15 million. The end result? Gun locks and safes meet the national requirement.

9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.

-- Honestly, if fed law guys aren’t tracing guns they recover presently….there’s something wrong, and they ought to be fired.

10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.

-- Likely to be a two-hundred page document with lots of statistics on caliber of guns that went missing, lost or stolen. And which members of the county Sheriff’s office will read the two-hundred page report? And then, what will do they after they’ve read it? 

11. Nominate an ATF director.

-- For roughly six years, a permanent director has been sought but none supported via the confirmation process (the Senate, not the House, would do this….but they are way too busy on budget approval episodes).

12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.

-- Grant money….hundreds of millions via Homeland Security. You can see Wannabe trainer Joe charging $2600 a responder for a eight-hour class on a Saturday for sixteen guys. Wannabe trainer Marty will charge $9000 for twenty-two school administrators to get trained and certified. Scam game to the maximum.

13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.

-- “Maximize”? So they haven’t been attempting to prevent gun violence or prosecute criminals? For the last decade or two? Really?

14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.

-- Gun violence….a disease? Isn’t this Center supposed to be for flu stuff and physical diseases? So a dozen grants go out, for professors to do research projects. They will cut and paste everything written over the past twenty years and repeat everything already accomplished. The only unusual thing out of this? Someone might accidentally admit that crazy people shouldn’t have access to weapons.

15. Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies.

-- Grant money….into the hundreds of millions via the Attorney General. The technology they talk about? At least twenty years away before it’d be affordable. Meanwhile, for another hundred years….300 million weapons without such technology will still exist in America.

16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.

-- Well….the law absolutely says that a doctor cannot ask a patient about his guns. So you say that this law cannot be obeyed? Really?

17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.

-- Medical professionals all have an oath to cover what they can or cannot give to the authorities, period. They’ve had that oath for a long time, and no new letter will change the oath.

18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.

-- It’s one thousand folks (I checked). For 98k schools. It’s a bit short. Also, it’s split between guards and mental health professionals. Figure 500 each. With our luck, they will all be sent to Montana and Idaho.

19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.

-- No Piggly Wiggly? No town hall? No restaurants? No bus terminals? But Pastor Joe needs to have a plan on the back wall of the church detailing exits and deputize fourteen deacons to return fire if necessary with their own weapons?

20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.

 -- If your letter doesn’t state that crazy folks must be put into mental facilities….don’t bother clarifying.

21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.

-- If the benefits don’t cover tossing nuts into permanent facilities for crazy folks….don’t bother clarifying.

22. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.

-- Would the regulations allow a city, county, state or federal judge to toss a nut who is a threat into a facility? If not, don’t bother with more regulations.

23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.

-- Unless they agree that 250k Americans ought to be locked up in mental health facilities for the rest of their lives….don’t bother with dialogue chats.

 In the end? Around two to three billion a year will be spent on these executive orders. It’s mostly a funding game or a public relations game.

Simply Observations

After you view the entire Lance Armstrong "confession"....you come to this strange trail ahead.  Lance intends to name all the folks involved....including the sponsors who knew about the business.  This puts the prosecutors and the media folks at an awkward situation.  To go after Lance....you'd have to drag big-name sponsors into the mess, and reveal pay-offs and probable tax violations along the way.  The sponsors?  Oh, they probably are going to shy away from all bike races for the next year or two.  These idiots who felt the truth would help the sport?  I'd start to prepare for bikers with no real sponsors and no way of paying for their sport.  In a way, Lance has fired a nuke into the middle of bike racing and screwed up things for several years.

It is absolutely true....two six-year old punk kids in Maryland were in the school playground, and using their fingers to pretend they had guns.  They got reported, and then suspended from school....for fake hand (real hand) guns.  The lesson learned?  Just stay away from the school playground, and sit under a tree.

To simplify this story...it goes this way.  This bi-polar gal (age 21 at the time) had a breakdown at the Midway Airport in Chicago.  Cops got involved.  They tote her off to jail.  After various determinations ...the Chicago authorities decide to release her.....in the heart of downtown Chicago....in one of the worst neighborhoods possible.  Don't ask why....the authorities don't even discuss this part in public now.  She gets enticed into some apartment building....where she is raped and chased around....finally jumping out of a seventh-floor window, and getting a concussion that leaves her in a fairly bad mental state for the rest of her life.  After six years....the court came to determine that the city of Chicago really screwed up. The cost to the Chicago tax-payer (don't even talk about legal costs)....$22.5 million.  All one cop had to do was take the gal back to the airport and drop her off there, and they weren't even capable of doing that.

The Harry Reid new mess?  Well....it's simple story.  Some Utah guy was running a fairly questionable business operation, and got noticed by the feds.  An investigation started up.  Some guy comes to visit the wannabe executive in trouble and offers to be a middle-man to Senator Harry Reid.  The Senator....as our wannabe executive is told....can stop FTC investigations.  This all happens in 2010.  Well....stuff happens along the way, and the feds intervene anyway.  The amount paid to the middle-guy?  $600k.  The main part of this case on corrupt business practices is proceeding ahead into court.  The $600k bribe is staying separate at this point in time.....but you can bet that the wannabe business guy wants to drag this whole thing out into public.  The odds of the middle-guy being a fake and pretending to be Harry's friend?  Better than fifty-percent chance.  The chance that the middle-guy might have given Harry a donation of $100k along the way?  Well....maybe fifty-percent too.  Does Harry even know the wannabe business guy or the middle-guy?  Probably not.  You can imagine John McCain walking up to Harry Reid this week and mentioning that he knows a good lawyer if he gets into trouble with the FTC folks.  Harry would utter some four-letter words and the two would have a good laugh for five seconds.

No one really talks about it much....but as the Feds pushed and pushed car-makers to get better gas mileage....the only alternate way to cram more miles per gallon now....is to move away from steel, and more toward plastic and aluminum.  Safer?  No.  Feeling better about gas mileage?  Yes.  Thank goodness that politicians are working hard to make your life better.

Finally, the President's team kind of hinted yesterday that they could take money from the government worker's pension deals.....including anything tied down to the Threat-Savings-Plan (the gov't 401k plan).  I'm a participant of the TSP, and of course....it gets me aggravated that they'd have the ability to reach in and take this money.  The TSP managers stepped out yesterday and laid out the mess.  There are roughly ten funds that they operate.  Nine are related to stocks and the President can't touch those.  The G-fund....related to government treasury bonds....is totally open and the President could remove or borrow all of that, if necessary.  My humble guess is that almost everyone will shift money out of the G-fund over the next four weeks....making it almost empty.  Course, the sad thing is that G-fund will become mostly worthless in the end....even if you kept your money there.  So the President...just by a hint....really screwed up a decent investment fund...overnight.    

Stuff Happens

I looked over the story, and tried to write it as Paul Harvey would have viewed it for his Saturday edition.

Somewhere on a chilling Monday afternoon in New York City....a guy entered the subway.  It's hard to say what was on his mind as he entered, but that would end up being the last minutes of his life.

Authorities say the thirty-one year old gentleman was from the Bronx.  No one has uttered much over his occupation or path in life.  Maybe that didn't really matter.

Around 4PM in the afternoon, he got on the number six train.  We shall never know why, or if there was just some element of luck of that train. For some reason, he had a reason to defecate, and just waiting until they got to the next station was not practical.  Maybe he had done this before.  Maybe he was carrying out a bet, but authorities simply don't know.

This gentleman stood between the one car and the next....in a position that few would imagine.  We aren't sure if he had some paper to wipe.  We aren't even sure if he was standing or squating.  Maybe the rocking motion or just bad luck, but he fell to the side....off the train...onto the track.  And there, the northbound train leaving out of the 125th Street station ran him over completely.

The authorities arrived and staged one of their hazmat crews.  One would assume that the subway line was tied up for hours, while clean-up took place.

The necessity of relieving one's self there?  Well....you just don't know.  Stuff happens in New York City, and you don't question the events later.  It just happens....you know.

The safety commissioner's comments?  So far, he's stayed off the topic, but one would imagine that he's working on a one-liner for the New York Post....stuff happens....you know.

But, there's other part to this odd story.  Minutes after the first guy was noted dead on the tracks....there's a second guy who stumbles up onto the platform of the 125th Street station.  He's all bent out of shape, bleeding, broken pelvis, and some severe buttock injuries (something that most folks rarely ever encounter).

The second guy is alive, and was described by the authorities as mostly drunk.  The authorities don't think there's any connection between the two.  Well....they say that anyway.

The odd timing of one guy passing while on a defecation event, and the other hit by the likely same train? Statistically, it's one in a million.  There's an engineer somewhere....calculating this and just noting that it can't happen too often.  The odds of surviving a hit in a subway tunnel in New York City?  One in a million.

Stuff happens....you know.  And no connection between the defecation guy and the guy with severe buttock wounds.  Yeah, as the Post says....no connection.  Stuff happens (as Paul Harvey would have written it).

The Mandatory Job

The Air Force got into a big scandal at basic training at Lackland AFB, Texas this past year.  After a whole bunch of investigation, and questions....they have determined that one of their big issues....was allow junior NCOs to become training instructors, and occupy a great deal of the billets at basic training.

It's an odd thing, but most NCOs....after you've got twelve or more years in....really don't want to do any TI duty or get assigned to Air Force basic training.  Nothing personal, but they spent a number of years getting into their career field....they really don't want to get up at 04:30 in the morning to be at work at 05:30, and these dang 18-year old punks just are a hassle to motivate and discipline.

So for the past two or three decades, it's been mostly junior NCOs...some with only four years of background....who felt this would be a great deal.  You might also guess that they were thrilled in ordering a bunch of folks around for three or four years, and this filled a big square in their life.

This week, the Air Force came out and said that immediately ...they were going to source these empty TI billets with E6 or E7 NCOs..... forceably.

You can imagine this episode.  Master Sargent Joe is about to end four years of duty in Italy and rotate back to the US.  He just needs four years, and he's done and can retire.  So he gets this note....he got picked for TI-duty.  He asks to be let out of this....he really doesn't want a job like this.  And the Air Force says "no".

TSgt Mike gets a call there at the office in South Korea...expecting a great job in North Carolina, and the news is forced TI-duty.

Over the next year....a bunch of NCOs will find themselves shifted around and told to report to Lackland.  They will be blunt upon arrival....they don't want this duty, and the Commander tells them that this isn't a like-it-or-not deal.  You have no choice.  After about two years....the Air Force discovers that a number of senior NCOs have drinking issues and have found various problems to get themselves dissolved of the TI-duty.

Eventually, the Air Force will admit that it'd rather have volunteers...rather than force unhappy people into such a position.

You can imagine yourself....putting in eight hours a day, and sometimes pulling another eight over the weekend....dealing with punks who see this as simply high school version 2.0.  It takes around three weeks to get their attention and then you can start to be a little less hostile.  It's not a job that most folks would ask for.  And the sad thing is....you'd likely have to do this for three years before they'd let you leave.