Thursday, 28 February 2013

The Mission

Some billionaire has come out.....putting up cash....to rocket a couple off to Mars.  The deal?  Well....there's no showers once you take off, and there's eighteen months ahead of you.  The liquids you drink?  After two days....you more less start recycling your urine and sucking sweat off your body....to help the machine give you more liquid.  For this eighteen month period....there's no more fresh water.  Your team?  Just you and your wife.  That's it.

You have an area of sixty cubic feet, limited food, and limited places to stand or sleep.  And you have to avoid any confrontations or arguments for this entire mission.

Who would want to slurp urine and sweat for months?  Who would want to sit in a tightly-fitted area with their spouse for months?  Who would want to eat mostly all packaged food and juicey-juice for months and months?

I just can't think of any fool who would raise their hand for this kind of mission.

You can imagine about half-way through the trip....Harvey calls back to mission-control.....Wanda has gone ballistic and almost half-killed him last night.  He needs an exit operation immediately   Mission-control spends four hours talking to Wanda, and now realize that she's nuts.  So the question is....does Mission-control tell Wanda to go ahead and kill Harvey, or do they inform Harvey of her condition, and then suggest he might ought to kill her while he has a chance?

This is the kind of stuff that the Star Trek guys just never had to worry about.  Kirk would have said no-way to drinking urine for months, or not being able to take a bath.


Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Our Fake World

There are some great examples of bad things that have become news items in DC:

If this were a Batman episode....in the midst of a rescue, Batman stops his rescue routine, to deliver a fifteen minute speech on why Gotham City is so screwed-up....while the bad guys walk quietly out the back-door.

In the midst of an Indian attack at the fort, John Wayne stops shooting, and delivers a thirty minute speech on how things could be better with the fort, the Indians, and life in general....while the Indians shoot down all the remaining solders at the fort.

If this were a zombie movie, the remaining humans would stop an attack on the zombies, and proceed to deliver a twelve minute speech on how mankind fell so far, and then turn to realize that 500 zombies were now in a circle around them.

If this were a landing at Omaha Beach....the American commander of the first landing craft would disembark, then render a eight-minute speech on the impending doom for the next four thousand men to land at the beach....before firing one round, and then eighty Germans jumping on him.

Speeches just don't work anymore.  You can hire some actor to just deliver speeches.  We don't need more actors in DC.

The sad thing is that we've gotten to a point where we think a speech means more than action itself.

It's more of a political opera that runs twenty-four hours a day......with authentic actors....some pretender journalists, and great theater.  Some variety of Oscar ought to be given out....for the best fake acting, best fake speeches, and best fake legislation.

Eighteen Percent

The Washington Post went out and did a poll.  They asked a bunch of Americans if they fully understand what the heck sequestration is about and how will effect the nation.  The poll reveals....that only around eighteen percent said they grasp and understand what sequestration is about.

Strangely enough, a poll last year revealed that eighteen percent of Americans were unable to vote for a Mormon (of any political variety) for President.

Strangely enough, only eighteen percent of the American public.....think highly of Congress.  Don't ask about the other eighty-two percent.

Strangely enough, eighteen percent of women admitted that they had tanned indoors rather than outdoors for 2012.

Strangely enough, the hunter folks say that North Dakota's pheasant count....for 2012....is up eighteen percent.

Strangely enough, statistics folks have discovered that in 1900.....almost eighteen percent of the American work-force....was under the age of 16.

Strangely enough, some shopping experts discovered in December of 2012.....that roughly eighteen percent of the American public.....doesn't shop for gifts.

Maybe the Post is onto something.  The Sequestration is so confusing.....that more people probably understand the difference between Beta and VHS, the proper way to deep-fry a turkey, or can explain the NCAA bowl selection process.

Yep, it's time to wind up Matt and the Today Show folks.....and educate America.  Then Sequestration will be on the same level as pumpkin pie.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

From the News

There were three interesting stories today.

First, John Kerry....our new Secretary of State....is off in Germany.  He got into a crowd of young Germans who asked a bunch of questions.  Most were confused, and felt that Americans are acting pretty stupid in world affairs.

John Kerry stood up, and spoke right back at the German crowd: "In America, you have a right to be stupid, if you want to be... and we tolerate that."

My general opinion....knowing Germans pretty well....they probably stood there in shock.  No one in Germany would ever admit in public that you have the right to be stupid, or that people have to tolerate stupidity.  I'm guessing they stood there for several minutes....thinking it was a bad translation, and then realized.....no, Secretary of State Kerry spoke those precise words.

It's not written down in the Constitution, or handed out by some Presidential order.  It's just a simple fact.....all three hundred million of us....are allowed to be stupid.

We can cuss.

We can buy lousy Chrysler cars.

We can drink one-star beer.

Women can flash guys at football games.

Guys can get stupid and marry some gal who will spend all their money.

Families can get credit cards and spend themselves into debt.

We can allow dead people to vote in national elections.

We can elect dead guys to Congress.

We can force school cafeterias to serve only nutritional food, then discover that no idiot high school kid will eat the nutritional food.

We can build houses on swampy soil.

We can put up $500k houses on beaches hit by hurricanes every twelve years.

We can order fools to clear out of New Orleans for a hurricane, and they will stay.

We can ask women not to show their nipples on national TV, but they do it anyway.

We can put a show like Amish Mafia on TV, and just pretend it's fake reality TV.

And we can elect a wannabe professor into the Presidency.....because there's really no other clear choices.

I'm guessing that eighty million Germans are sitting....mostly in shock.

For the second best story of the day?  The Homeland Security crowd came out and admitted that they will be releasing illegal aliens in Arizona when sequestration starts up.  Course, that got the whole state of Arizona all peppy today.  I'm guessing John McCain is calling and asking for a direct meeting with Homeland Security.

My general suggestion?  If this all occurs....just start a bus run every twelve hours from Arizona and push the illegals to Washington DC.  The bus ought to be free of charge....hand each guy $200 in cash with free food for the trip.  Once in DC....dump them behind the White House and tell them where they can get free food from the local shelters.

It'll take two busloads before the mayor of DC gets all upset, and complaining about too many Latinos in DC streets, and suddenly an uproar occurs because black DC doesn't want more Latinos on it's front-yard.

Finally, Guntersville, Bama.....has decided that when a serious weather event occurs, it would make sense to seize people's weapons.  It's a city bill that they are working on, but haven't passed or implemented yet.

If I were a resident of Guntersville....I'd actually go and tell them to process them and make it law.

Then I'd sit and wait for the first storm, and wait for some town policeman to come by and start knocking at my door.  I'd have a sign at the door that seizure of weapons would be welcomed....after I had fired off all my ammo in response to the seizure.  Your job....as a decent cop.....is to guess when I've used up all my ammo.  Do I have 50 rounds, 500 rounds, or 5,000 rounds?  You know to guess and be real sure...otherwise, it might not be in your interest to walk around and bother me.

An Epic

Long ago, in a faraway land, men had progressed to a point where multi-arrow bows were accepted. After a few occasions where mass-arrow killings occurred, the king's peasants set up a campaign to rid the kingdom of the evil machines.

Town cryers (journalists of the day) went about yelling and screaming over the evil contraptions.  Focus groups would appear at the gates of the castle to demand the king rid the kingdom of such evil.

The king came out at some point, and spoke of how he would use his executive powers....to do the good of the kingdom.

But Lords and Dukes from across the kingdom....asked of the wisdom of this.  If evil men came in the middle of the night....would people have the protection necessary to save their families?  Town cryers yelled that this was all bogus-talk.

Eventually, towns in the kingdom sat about to tax arrows at a much higher rate than normal.  Other towns told the arrow makers to up and move.....to their village, where taxes would not be dumped upon them.

The king talked of registering all bows in the kingdom, and making a ID check mandatory for any bow purchase.

Peasants eventually tired of the talk, and of the town cryers.  Eventually, all settled down, and people got back to growing crops, milking cows, cutting hay, and drinking whiskey.  All was well....eventually.

Simply Observations

I sat and downloaded Argo yesterday.  It's a two-hour movie.   I have to say that it's probably on my list of thirty movies that you ought to watch in your life.  It is that good.  It does make the Iranians look like idiots, I admit that.  So if you have the time....watch it.

Congress (well, the Republicans)....stood up and hinted to the President that his 100-city tour that is being planned out....is taking a chunk of government money to fund.  They'd like for him to downsize.  The President hasn't responded yet....but I'm guessing that he intends to double his tour now....just to prove a point that funding traveling tours doesn't make a difference.

Yeah, that story of the 13-year-old girl stabbing another 13-year-old (boy) over a bag of potato chips....is absolutely true.  It was from California and the young lady says that she was mostly kidding, and is a bit sorry.  Cops won't say much except they did arrest her, and charges have yet to be filed.  My humble guess is that she will one day marry this boy....and shoot him accidentally one night.  Just kidding.

VP Joe Biden says "Americans are tired of being tired".  This was referring to gun control, immigration reform, tax reform, etc.  From the heartland, if you dragged ten guys out of a barbershop.....they'd all say that folks in DC are hyped up on drugs, booze or in a schizophrenic state of mind.  VP Joe?  Yeah, they'd probably say the same thing over him.  Tired?  Yeah, they are just tired of fake journalist taking reports and just blabbing on some emergency that no one really takes serious anymore.

C. Everett Koop has finally passed on....at 86.  He was the Surgeon General under Reagan and Bush.  He'd appear almost weekly on TV and dispensed advice left and right.  Pretty smart guy.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

The Plain Truth

In the state of Bama, there is an eternal battle between two university groups.  Typically, it's mostly about football.

After that, the Auburn crowd typically boasts of a vast number of engineers, veterinarians, farm science guys, and physics folks.

Alabama?  Well....they don't typically measure up in the same relative category.  They take in the business crowd, the history crowd, and have some pretty decent doctors that they produce.

It's kind of a sad fight.....two of the best universities in America....which attract a high number of international students, and eternally fighting over NCAA ratings, football players, and one single game in November that seems to matter.  You'd expect something better, but it's the only soap opera we can conceive in Bama.

Upcoming Furlough

This week at work....(in the Pentagon basement no less)....we got around to furlough acceptance version 2.0.

This is the point where you pretty much know it will happen....accepted the fact....and now wonder about how to maximize or use this 22-day period.

One guy I spoke to....has five or six days planned for minor yard-work, house painting, and cleaning the garage.  I asked about the remaining 18 days, and he just looked bewildered.  He hadn't got to a point of thinking on the vast nature of this.

Another guy had quietly admitted that his wife felt they could go and visit relatives in New York state more often (her relatives).  He wasn't that happy about that.

One of the older guys talked up this garden idea.  One of the younger guys talked up the idea of seeing more of Washington's museums.

Myself?  I live in a studio apartment....so there's no garage, yard, or vast list of things to do.  I could pick out twenty-two books to read....going back to the original Steinbeck list of mine and reading them a second time.  I could find some day-long cooking school in the area and actually learn how to cook Italian (pronounced I-TAL-an by southerners).

I could actually pull out the map of the Arlington Cemetery and actually walk the entire place in a circle.

I could venture over to southeast DC and see if I can get mugged or robbed.

I could hang out down at the Capital Mall area and talk to the Scientology guys (they always have a table set up and material to hand out).

I could actually go down to the Greyhound station in DC, and catch a bus out and ride cross-country for  thirty hours, before getting a train back into town.  You tend to meet some interesting people on cross-country buses.

There's the Arlington bus network which makes 7AM bus trips up to New York City....3.5 hours away.  I could venture up there and hang out til Saturday afternoon, and come back.  Bama guys tend to always have adventures in New York City.....meeting folks like Kramer or George Constanza.

I've got around eight weeks before this starts up.....so maybe there's adventures that I can get into.

We Used To

Once upon a time....we made Barbie dolls in America.  We made them here, and we sold them here.  From 1959 to 2002....we made Barbies here.  A decision was made....in the late 1990s, and by 2002....whatever was left in company production shut down.

It's safe to say that it simply added up on production cost, and even when you added the massive boat transport cost, and the movement from one continent to another....it simply made more sense to produce Barbie in China.

In the late 1990s....someone at Huffy Bikes sat there....added up the numbers, and talked to a few Chinese businessmen   Weeks later, the Chinese proved that they could make the same bike at a lot less than the American craftsman.

It's safe to say that it simply added up on production cost, and even when you added the massive boat transport cost, and the movement from one continent to another....it simply made more sense to produce Huffy Bikes in China.

For decades, Chuck Taylor tennis shoes were considered "the tennis shoe" that kids wanted.  NBA players played in Chuck Taylor shoes.  At some point in the 1980s....Chuck Taylor shifted operations, and ended up in Indonesia.

It's safe to say that it simply added up on production cost, and even when you added the massive boat transport cost, and the movement from one continent to another....it simply made more sense to produce Chuck Taylor tennis shoes in Indonesia.

For years and years....baseballs were manufactured in Puerto Rico.  By the late 1960s, the Rawlings Company who had the contract....had done the research and discovered that they could make the same ball for less....in Haiti.  Course, having Haiti under the "Papa Doc" DuValier regime didn't matter to the American public. After all the regime collapses of the DuValier family, Rawlings finally got smart, and moved to Costa Rica.  Even with cheap American labor in Puerto Rico....it was not enough to stay.

 It's safe to say that it simply added up on production cost, and even when you added the massive boat transport cost, and the movement from one region to another....it simply made more sense to produce baseballs in Costa Rica.

So then we come to Black & Decker.  For decades, their heart was in Maryland.  They were an industrial giant in Maryland.  The day came....the Chinese industry said they could make the same product for less than half the costs.  It was adios to US manufacturing.

Today, you go down the list: suitcases, backpacks, lighters, TVs, light bulbs, chocolate, flashlights, Craftsman tools, Stanley tools, guitars, and even G. I. Joe figures.....all made somewhere else today.

If you haven't figure out why your cousin Gus hasn't had a real job since graduating high school fifteen years ago....you might want to ask how much industry is left here.  For those who do remain....how many months are left before they pack up and leave for Asia or South America?  And when the final company leaves....then what?

Just something to think about.

The Best Of

There are around ten shows that I can watch over, and over, and over.  So I've come to rate the best of each one.

King of Queens:  The episode where Doug has agreed to show up at a big fancy party that Carrie's company is hosting....with Japanese folks.  Doug has starved all day, and discovers there's absolutely nothing there at the apartment to eat except these expired eggs in the refrigerator, which trigger him in the final moments to throw up behind a fancy Japanese curtain in front of everyone.

King of the Hill: The episode where Peggy is arrested across the border in Mexico and goes defending herself with what she thinks is four-star Mexican language, but it just doesn't translate like the real stuff. The Mexicans would like for her to just leave, but there's got to be a court episode to settle everything.

Andy Griffith: The goat who ate the dynamite....is the best episode ever.

Friends: The two-parter where everyone goes to Vegas.

Chapella's Show: It was a short-lived series, but when he did the black blind guy who thought he was white and confirmed to racist standards....it was probably one of the great moments of TV comedy.

The Office: There's probably forty great shows that I'd have to pick from....but the episode where Micheal seeks out to prove he has courage....by allowing Dwight to take him off into the woods and dump him off.  He's ready to come back after two hours.

Seinfeld: The episode where George admits that he's a marine biologist and in the final moments gives the two minutes description of how he saved the whale is one of the great moments of TV comedy.  Coming in a close second....is "The Jimmy" episode. And in third place: the episode where George does a job interview with the intent of not getting the job....instead, by insulting George Steinbrenner of the Yankees...George is then hired to the greatest dream job of his life...as an executive to the New York Yankees.  OK....I admit it....every single episode of Seinfeld is on my best of list.

The 70's Show: the episode where Red gets doped up, and sells Eric's car.

Newhart: Episode 65, where Darryl and Darryl win some kind of jingle contest and threaten to up and leave because success has changed them eternally.

Two and a Half-Men:  Charlie's girlfriend wants to introduce Alan to this wonderful gal that she has bumped into.  So the boys arrive at the restaurant and realize....it's Rose.  And things go downhill from that point on.  I will admit....if I ever had to pick some gal that I'd like to spend a bad date with....it'd be Rose.

What May Come

The President and a long list of media journalists wannabe guys....have hyped up the effects of Sequestration.  After a while, I decided that I would add my list of ten on top of their list.

1.  Fewer McDonalds fries are sold, thus creating a backlog of fries in Idaho, and suddenly Idaho potato farmers are left with tons and tons of excess potatoes.  The President later starts a special program....of around six billion dollars a year for a potato-welfare project.

2.  Government workers will buy out all of the paint that Sherman-Williams stocks....as they prepare to finally paint their garages (after twenty years of talking about this project but never doing it).  CBS's 60 Minutes crews will be asking where the shortage of paint came from, and if this was induced by paint companies themselves.

3.  The TV statistics folks discover this sudden surge in viewing for Mondays and Fridays now....with the History Channel's Amish Mafia reruns suddenly getting double the viewership that would normally occur.  Busloads of government workers take their furlough day off, go by bus to Amish territory, to actually meet and have lunch with the Amish Mafia crew.

4.  The President discovers that his Air Force One plane is diverted from landing in South Carolina for a speech....because the FAA tower crew are half-shifts for Monday.  He has to land in Georgia instead and ride eighty-eight miles to give some speech to a bunch of South Carolina farmers.

5.  Some government employees eventually figure out it'd be great to all hang out together on their day off.....get drunk off cheap beer....play softball....and get injured enough to stay out sick Tuesday and Wednesday each week as they recover from their one furlough day.

6.  The President does a unplanned show-up for a photo-op at some government agency....only to discover this was the day that sixty percent of the agency is off.  The agency goes out onto the street and recruits a hundred tourists to stand in, and act like government employees.....to fulfill the President's photo op.

7.  VP Joe Biden shows at a government agency for global warming on a unplanned visit.  Unfortunately, this is the day that Doctor Fred and Professor Carl are off on their furlough day.  Instead, he talks to Larry (the new guy) and learns that global warming is bogus, and VP Joe starts to repeat the facts that he picked....making the President and his staff very unhappy.

8.  By the eighth week of furlough, government agencies are reporting a very high incident rate of heart attacks.....as guys stay home.....attempt physical which they haven't done in years, and this triggers a massive manpower issue that no one expected.

9.  By the tenth week of the furlough business, Russian leader Vad Putin....finally decides to do a photo-op in the US.  He makes a dozen speeches....about the greatness of Russia....owing to the fact that his Russian government isn't bankrupt.  He repeats the phrase bankrupt sixteen times in each speech.  By the conclusion of the trip....every single American has learned the Russian phrase for bankrupt (обанкротившийся).  Sadly, even Fox News hosts start using the Russian phrase daily....upsetting the old American Conservatives greatly.

10.  Finally, after twenty-two days of doing furlough.....a number of American government workers have taken to bass fishing, and refuse to work the fifth day of each week....instead taking unpaid leave and fishing fifty-two Fridays out of each year.  The President admits later that they hadn't thought about this implication, and regret the Sequestration greatly for causing this obsession of bass fishing.

Simply Observations

At some point this week....locally here in the DC area....the small business operations suddenly woke up and grasped that if sequestration goes through....a bunch of government guys won't be around on either a Monday or Friday....which translates into less coffee bought....fewer burgers bought....less pizza sold....and less beer consumed.  This five-month period could rip into the 2013 profit goal.  They aren't happy.  DC has a unique situation compared against any other American community....they have no industry. Every business operation relies upon government employees or such....to survive.  So if sequestration starts up here....you can expect the local business community to be hostile over this, unemployment rates to rise, and a mini-crisis by DC region business operations.

Some smart guys sat around and did another survey, discovering that beards lessen the possibility of getting skin cancer.  It doesn't change much of anything.  You won't see a bunch of guys suddenly growing beards and saying it's because they want to avoid skin cancer.  It's just that it took the smart guys years and years....to come to see the connection here.  I imagine they will eventually discover that people who wear long-sleeved shirts all the time....also have a lesser chance of getting skin cancer.

Forbes went out and made up a list of the top miserable cities in America.  Naturally, Detroit made it easily to number one.  It's hard to outdo Detroit, with massive unemployment, and crime an accepted fact of life.  Who stays in Detroit?  This brings up an interesting topic....you'd have to have a significant amount of guts and courage, to continue living in Detroit.  You aren't a wussy here in 2013....living within the city limits of Detroit.  I'd probably Detroit residents at the top of the list for steadfast determination.  They know it's that bad, and yet still continue to stay.  It says something.

Finally, for the eleven million illegal aliens....just a hint here.  When this bill is passed into law this year.....there's not a single advancement on getting you legal status, until the border is secured.  Congress, the Senate, and the President....will absolutely do little to nothing to improve border security as this passes.  So unless you get all hyper yourself, and go out to put up the fence....not a single one of you will get legal status or citizenship.  You will watch and see these idiots in the Senate all pat themselves on the back as they pass the legislation, but it's basically worthless unless they did something for the fence requirement or security requirement.  Kind of comical.....a bunch of nothing....over nothing.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

The Chinese Hackers

So this week, it came out that a Chinese military unit.....based out of Shanghai....unit 61398....is responsible for all the hacking done in America for the most part.

It's an interesting thing.  We actually know the building....the address...etc.

The reason for publishing the info?  Well.....this gets to be interesting.  It came from an American company who studies hacking, and they used all their resources apparently and tracked down every last detail.

The US cyber military guys?  It's about a ninety-nine percent chance that they already knew all of this.  They probably have pictures of every single guy leaving the building, and probably know the homes where they live.  They might even have the cellphone numbers, the car-tags  and the shopping habits of all these guys.

So you can imagine General Chin coming into work this week, and all upset.  He calls for a meeting of all the sub-general's in the building.

So fifteen odd generals sit at this table....with General Chin all disturbed.  "How these American rascals know our building?"

General Rin-Rin responds....."CIA tracks us daily....they know our hanky-panky girls....they know our bar habits....they probably bug our bathrooms".

Everyone is unsettled by this.  The room quietens.

General Chin: "Maybe we shut down....move everything to Xilin Gol (the bonie of bonies for Chinese folks)....build new data building."

Everyone starts to grumble now.  No hanky-panky bars in Xilin Gol, and you might be lucky to find a any kind of booze out there.

Then General Wap-Chin responds....maybe we dispatch all our hackers to entire world, and use Starbucks free Wi-Fi to hook up and hack.  Do hour here, move, and then hour there.  Never stay in one spot.

Everyone is pretty peppy about this idea.  Bunch of guys could end up in Amsterdam or Rome, with hot western gals.

Months later, it's quietly discovered by General Chin....that this Starbucks idea was all conceived by the CIA and that every single hacker's laptop was intercepted and loaded with a virus.  The hacker unit is disgraced.

Well....it could happen like that.

I'm guessing this will be read by the guys at the 61398th.  They will sit and laugh a bit....knowing General Chin.....and then sip some of their Starbucks coffee.  They'd really not want the operation moved to Xilin Gol.

Who Shot JR, Day 3,232

On 21 March of 1980....the show Dallas did an unusual thing.  They ended the season with JR being shot.  For an entire spring and summer, everyone sat there.....discussing the matter, and it weighed upon their mind....daily.  On 21 November of 1980....Dallas came to air the long-awaited episode....where we learned that JR's sister-in-law and mistress was the one who actually shot him.  It was finally relief.  We needed a conclusion.

Since the late 1990s....we've entered another phase of American life which relates fairly close to the JR shooting episode.....with Americans glued to the TV and wondering how this political saga ends.  Then you learn that the script changed slightly.....went into a different direction.....and you wait for the next end point, where it doesn't really end.

In my mind, we are now on day 3,232....of a political "Who Shot JR" episode. We watch the Today Show with Matt, and get a piece or two of political stuff.  We will ride into work.... listening to the some guy discuss the terrible state of the American economy.  Later in the day....we will listen to Rush Limbaugh.  As we drive home.....we catch more saga.  At home, we watch an hour of MSNBC and feel the terrible Republicans are destroying America.  Then later, we catch an hour of O'Reilly, to discover the President is destroying the nation.  And later on 60 Minutes, we find out that things seem OK, but they really aren't.

The nifty thing of 21 November 1980....was that we came to a conclusion.  Today, there just isn't a conclusion.  We simply go to tomorrow and start the next day of terrible woes, terrible T-Party gossip, terrible Democratic corruption, and terrible Republican water-sipping.

Tomorrow?  Day 3,233.  We can expect more of the same.

There's something wrong here....but unless you just turned it all off, and stuck to episodes of Andy Griffith, NCAA football, and the History Channel with the Amish Mafia.....there's no way to escape the madness.

Espresso

It was probably one of those rare events in life.  Some guy walks into a Washington state Starbucks, puts down his own personal 52-ounce coffee mug, and then orders.

The request?  48 shots of espresso, a bit of protein powder, two chopped up bananas, some caramel drizzle Frappuccino chips, some vanilla and a bit of soy. The guy ended up calling this a "Quadriginoctuple Frap."

It was roughly forty-seven bucks for the mixture.

Typically, if you do a double dose of real espresso....it'll perk you up and keep you going for an hour or two.  A dose of forty-eight shots?  If you were over the age of forty....just in average condition.....I would suspect that you would have fairly good chance of a heart-attack within the next three hours after consuming this drink.

Around ten years ago in Ireland....some young guy....in his late teens....after soccer practice had consumed a dozen Red-Bulls.  He had a heart-attack and died right there.

What you tend to see today is these idiots who think that anyone that is legally sold....can be consumed in vast quantities   If it was a bad thing....someone would stop you.

Eventually, some twelve year old kid will read through the internet....get the idea of consuming fifteen espressos.....all made in mom's kitchen with her own machine, and die on the bus to school.  Congress will meet, and pass laws to forbid the sale of espressos.  Everyone will get all hyper....discussing the unnecessary nature of Congress getting involved in espresso drinks.  Even the President will come out to talk up esspresso-control and how we need to save people from their own stupidity.

This is how things tend to go.

A Bold New Era

Some newspaper today picked up the topic of whether doctors ought to recommend people now smoke marijuana.  With several states now running the legit sales.....the question will start up....when does a doctor now cross the line and tell someone to smoke a joint.

First, you have a fair number of doctors....who've never smoked dope and have no real knowledge of how it ought to used or the occasions that it fits.  Most medical colleges really didn't dive into this topic much when the doc was in school.

Then, you have the question of medical studies.  To be honest, there are probably ten thousand studies over the past two decades with the use of marijuana, but you have to ask if they are legit, or just some guy who had $50k for a study and just produced worthless information for the heck of it.

Then, you have the people who continually hype up their neighbors.....it's good for backaches....it's good for headaches....it's good for falling asleep.  So you will have a guy showing up at the doctor's office....saying Joe recommended the stuff....but there's this twenty minutes discussion over whether Joe knows anything.

Guys will sit there and ask stupid questions.  Can you smoke a joint and operate a lawnmower?  Can you smoke while drinking beer?  Can you do an ounce of weed or do you need six ounces of weed?  Will Big-D weed be better than Texas Red-eye?  Can you smoke a joint in the same room with your hunting dog or your cat?  Will weed stunt your growth?  Will weed trigger flashbacks of NAM...even if you never went to NAM?

At some point....Doctor Phil will have to bring on an expert to help folks.

We are entering a bold new era.....where guys will think that a bit of weed might do just about anything.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Just Show Us Your Gun

Quietly up in Washington state....there's a political effort to write a bill, which they will become law.  The bill?  Your local Sheriff, in Washington state, would have the authority to knock your door and demand entry to examine your assault weapons, without a search warrant signed by the local judge.  The Sheriff or his representative, would be able to see how you store the weapons.  The inspection would only occur once a year....he can't come back for a second visit, without a warrant.

Possibility of passing?  This is a big question.  Even some Democrats are shaking their heads that this really opens the door for cops to examine for just about anything in the future....without a warrant.....if it passes and is considered the 'norm'.

So you can imagine you have arrived home after a hard days work.  You are about to sit down and eat supper with the family.  A knock at the door.  You open to find a beefy and stocky Sheriff's deputy standing there.  He smiles and informs you this is an assault weapon's inspection, and he just needs a few minutes of time.

The various scenarios?

First, you say sure, and that gun collection is in the basement, and he needs to step lively because there's only one bulb down there, and you let loose four rattlesnakes to ensure no one messes with your guns.  The deputy is thinking you are joking....until he opens the door....shines a flashlight down, and there's sleeping rattlesnake at the bottom of the stairs.  He responds everything seems OK, and quickly leaves.  It's a rubber snake that you got from K-Mart, but no need to mention that to the deputy.

Second, you say fine, but refuse to diverge where in the house that the one assault weapon is located.  You cite a forgetful memory, and just invite him to spend three hours hunting through the house and garage.  You didn't want to mention that you keep it over the kitchen cabinet.  He eventually gets hostile and says you aren't playing by the rules.  You feel threaten and call the real cops to come escort deputy Joe away.

Third, you invite him in....but note that you keep it in six pieces and in six locations of the basement.  He eventually finds all six pieces and but then says they appear to be from three different guns....one of which is a 1945 Army assault rifle and the rest from some gun manufactured in the 1980s.  You simply stand there smiling and grinning.

Fourth, you close the door on the deputy as you note to him.....you just don't have time.  He gets upset....calls for back-up, and considers you a uncooperative owner.  You end up having a eight member SWAT team swoop down and take you prisoner.  The wife spends three hours trying to get you freed, and you end up with five charges and possible jail-time.  Sadly, you miss supper.

Fifth, and final.....you show the guy a fancy display case in the living room, with a sign of "live free or die" above it.  The cop is satisfied and he leaves...not realizing that it's a imitation Chinese copy of the real gun in the fancy display case.....which you keep the real gun behind the door that he entered and exited from.

The problem with this philosophy is that it doesn't solve much of any problem....it just gives the public a fake reassurance that the cops and real law will protect them.  The cop won't turn around to look at the fifteen year old kid in the house, who is nuts and views sixteen hours a day of hardcore violent computer games.  The cop won't check the drug cabinet to find that the eighteen year old daughter is doing a fair amount of illegally prescribed Vicodin.

And if the occupants of the house refuse entry?  It begs of cops facing tens of thousands of hostile home-owners....who suddenly arouse an entire neighborhood and forty neighbors come running with their weapons drawn and some NAM-Seattle version of a fire-fire erupts.  

In simple words....nothing good of this can come.


Simply Observations

VP Joe Biden has come out and endorsed the best gun for home protection....a shotgun (over the possible choice of the AR-15).  He noted that it ought to be a double-barreled shotgun....over the single-barrel, which obviously, he is an expert on.  Course, if you have multiple people in the house that need to be dispatched six-feet under....you might need to have several shotguns lined up in a row, or be fairly good and quick at popping spent ammo and reloading on the fly.  Joe didn't really talk about this reloading business.  I suspect in Joe's mind....two shots might always be enough.  It's good to have a VP with vast knowledge.

This new particle....Higgs boson....that was discovered by that fancy Hadron Collider in Switzerland last year.....appears to have gotten scientist into a frenzy.  They can now predict, with fairly good data....that the universe in several billion years....will come to a violent end, period.  In several hundred million years...our sun would have burned out, but folks tended to think that mankind would just leave this planet and move on.  Well....the consensus is that we can run as far as you want....but there is an absolute end and conclusion.  That end won't won't be pretty either.

Finally, there's a kid who has been treated for cancer up in Portland, Oregon.  At some point, in a hospital....the kid uses some hand sanitizer.  Then, the kid does a rub...probably against a blanket....and generates static electricity....which creates a mini-fire.  The medical folks are all mystified over the episode and still investigating it.  I sat there today looking over the story.  There's at least twenty-five hand sanitizer containers around my vault.....all in areas with carpet, and lots of static electricity.  I probably pump at least ten times a day into my palm.  So now, it's just another odd thing that I have to worry about.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

What Sequestration Will Prove

The Wells Fargo Bank folks came out yesterday with a study, and basically said that around ten percent of the overall budget of DC, Maryland, and Virginia....relates to the sequestration.  That means as we enter this economic slow-down....things will start to slow down locally as well.

Selling a house in the region this year?  Don't count on a quick sales.....it might require an extra month....maybe even six months.

Car sales?  You might want to make your old car last through the rest of this summer, and wait until October before buying a new car.

Eating out?  Well....if you got ten percent less pay this month.....you might want to eat out less.

Home repairs?  If it's not urgent, then put it off for six to twelve months.

My suspicion is that the President didn't really figure this DC slowdown into the original sequestration deal.  Now that we are about to enter the period.....there's some worries that news reporters will start to grasp that sequestration isn't a positive thing.  Then at some point, some idiot reporter will ask who came up with the sequestration idea, and no one will want to answer that question.

What sequestration will come to prove.....is that one particular area of the nation....is utterly dependent.....on government functions operating in a normal fashion.  Even a ten percent cut in budget....brings DC to it's knees.

Monday, 18 February 2013

The Nuts Story

It hasn't made it into the national headlines....but over the last couple of months in New York City....a number of "nuts" have pushed folks off into the subway rails.  In New York City, it's made page one news, and most everyone is hyper about the "nuts".

For years....around the urban areas of the northeast, from Philly to DC, and onto New York City....folks just looked the other way and had the attitude of letting the crazy guys just roam free.  Occasionally, the cops would pick them up....they'd be put onto some mental program where they were supposed to take meds regularly, and the joke was.....just look the other way after they got released.

Well....starting this week....the cops in New York City have a new directive, which is quietly being implemented.  Basically, they've got a list of folks who they are looking for and will be grabbing.  The apprehended "nuts"?  It appears that they will be put into some mental facilities for longer than a week or two.

This has now become a political football....where the public is concerned.  The recent "nut" who pushed a guy over into the subway area.....admitted that their bipolar condition came out in full force that day...mostly because of a lack of weed.  If they'd only smoked their daily marijuana joint....they would have been OK.....so they say.

I should add one odd situation with the bipolar gal.  The doctors apparently took in for a mental exam and asked her why she pushed the guy onto the rails.  Her response was......she had this mental moment of 9-11, and this 'push' was related to the buildings falling down.  The mental health doctors?  They deemed her mentally OK, and ready for the court case.

If you ask me....the cops might want to expand their list, and start taking some mental health doctors in....for an exam as well.

The Religious Numbers

Some folks did a big polling and came to announce that Bama is not number one on the most religious state charts....Mississippi is ahead of Bama.  Bama is number two.

Course, this would bring up a fair amount of discussion.  Those statistics show that a mere fifty-six percent of the Bama public consider themselves religious.

Now, this would beg questions.  Where exactly did the survey guys go?  Some bar in Tuscaloosa?  A Wal-Mart in Athens?  Folks would like to know how the survey was done.  Some folks are likely sitting there in disbelief....how could any other state be more religious than Bama?

There's likely folks meeting last night at church and discussing more prayers and Bible-study events....to get another three percent onto our numbers, and beat those Mississippi folks.  Discussions over revivals here in the spring?  More than likely.

Folks in Bama take religious activity fairly serious.  It's OK to skip Wednesday night church-meetings....mostly because you'd be better off staying at home and watching Hannity or O'Reilly on the Fox News Channel.  But Sundays are different, and you need to hang out with the right crowd.

So there are tens of thousands of Bama folks now focused on the forty-four percent of folks who say they aren't religious.  I'm guessing visits will occur shortly....bringing over some pie, skipping around various topics from NCAA football to septic tank work, and then finally getting to Jesus and your need to attend the local church.

Course, you will be all friendly at first....talking up your preference to the University of Alabama football team.  You'll admit you are a Wal-Mart shopper.  You will cite the seven successful steps to septic tank removal.  But as things slide over to deep religious talk.....you start to look toward the clock and wish on some phone-call to occur to get you out of this discussion.

The sad thing is that Mississippi folks know that they are under attack and working on their own plan to recruit more for the next survey.    It's like the NCAA football ranking....you can't let up a single bit....or those Bama guys will sneak right in and become number one.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

The "Political-Jesus"

The business of America....for over two hundred years...has been business itself. If you do anything to hamper, limit, or marginalize business...from the little guy who owns a one-man muffler repair shop to a 100k employee bank...then you jeopardize the whole structure and being of the nation.

When we invited special interest groups into government meddling, then added tax “help” and tax “anchors” to tax code, and then tossed in some incompetent political folks (for both sides of the aisle)....we basically chained ourselves to the federal government being the solution to just about everything.

We’ve become a nation of “political-Jesus-believers”, that the only way to save us...is through some miracle performed by the political-Jesus.

Only the political-Jesus can deliver or stop the Canadian pipeline.

Only the political-Jesus can put people to work.

Only the political-Jesus can save us from the aftermath of a hurricane.

Only the political-Jesus can stop all gun crimes by his mighty executive powers. 

Only the political-Jesus can make everything fair in life.

Only the political-Jesus can identify with a ethnic group and lift them up out of their mess.

Only the political-Jesus can fix the tax code, and ensure that only half the nation pays the taxes.

Only the political-Jesus can stop urban violence.

Only the political-Jesus can produce more laws that will fix what ails us.

Only the political-Jesus can fix the American school system.

Only the political-Jesus can give everyone $60k college tuition loans.

Only the political-Jesus can fix the national mortgage mess.

Only the political-Jesus can bring us a national pre-school system, feed our kids in school, or give every kid in a school a laptop.

Only the political-Jesus can wipe out health care issues.

Only the political-Jesus can bring us to 40 mpg cars.

Only the political-Jesus can bring us clean rivers and lakes.

Only the political-Jesus can bring us free wi-fi nation-wide.

Only the political-Jesus can fix our subways and interstate highways.

Only the political-Jesus can make cheap solar energy possible.

We've become so naive, that the political-Jesus is the only virtual answer.

Unfortunately, this is not like a bad movie that you can walk out of the theater after thirty minutes. Other than firing the whole crowd, or making everyone grasp the naive nature that we’ve sunk to....there’s just nothing left to do.

Our Illegals

So you get born in Mexico.  On day one....for the rest of your life, unless you do something to change that....you are Mexican.

On that day....that you walk up to the border with Texas, and sneak across the border in the middle of the night, and make your way to your cousin's trailer in Missouri.....you are illegally in the US, but a Mexican citizen.

You can call yourself anything you want....but there's really only two titles that fit.  You are a Mexican citizen, or you are illegally in the US.  End of the story.

Course, you might live in some imaginary world and say that you have this other title or two...."undocumented" always sounds nice.  "Uninvited" sounds nice.  "Guest worker" sounds nice too.  But in the end.....you either are a Mexican citizen or illegally in the US.

I've sat and watched a segment or two this week on the news....where illegals got all peppy in discussions that you cannot use the word illegal.  Course, they will never say in public that they are a Mexican citizen.  They tend to avoid discussing that fact.

For some reason, they are never proud to note that they are Mexicans....until after they become an American citizen, and then want to remember their heritage.  The odd thing is.....they just weren't happy about things in Mexico and left.

I'm an absolute believer in guest-worker status.  It ought to be a simple one-hour process....fill out a form....get a ID at the border, and you suddenly have a six-to-twelve month period that you can take up jobs, pay taxes, earn real wages, and then return to Mexico for at least six months before you pick up the next guest-worker status.

The social security that they'd pay?  You'd transfer it at sixty-two years old over to the Mexican government and let the guy have everything he rightly earned.

Immigration?  If you want to open up the front door...fine....but's lets recruit the best and brightest folks first....bringing in scientists and businessmen....and not roofers or cooks.  The guest-worker program would provide all the cooks and roofers that you'd ever need.

The end-result?  Right now....it's a soap opera, and I don't think there's much of a script or end to the story.

Simply Observations

It doesn't amount to much....but out around Guam....just a few minutes before the President did his big State of the Union speech this week....the Russians had two TU-95 Bears circle the island.  The Bears....are the Russian version of the B-52.  To be honest....back in the 1970s, the Russians would fly their Bears around both coasts of the US on a regular basis.  I'm guessing that the Pentagon alerted the President like they were supposed....five minutes before the speech....and he just flipped them off because he's got other priorities. Putin, by my guess....is testing the President.  It'd be hard to really rattle the President....mostly because he's working with other priorities.  So I suspect, by next year's State of the Union address....Putin might be able to put twenty Bears and see if that does anything.  It's a game....and you ought to expect something, and when you don't see it....you simply double the wager.

Just a humble opinion, but this Senator Ted Cruz character....a rookie senator....is surprising folks in just his first month on the job.  The media typically doesn't pay attention to rookie senators, and I suspect that they now will have quotes and video each week from Senator Ted's actions.  The old-time Democratic Senators?  Well...they really don't like Ted.  He just doesn't grasp his position in the Senate is the usual observation you see when the media asks the older Senators their opinion.

You had to expect this.  Since drug companies can't react fast enough....when you suddenly need drug X and the company can't get it pumped out the door, then fake companies make up fake drugs and do it for them.  So the FDA is finally realizing that there really is a fair amount of flu medications coming into the market that demands them.....but they are fake.  They want the pharmacy guys to be on the watch for these, and stop them.  The odds?  If you have a chance to make an additional $15k of sales this week with the fake flu stuff because the real company can't deliver their stuff to you....will you do the right thing?  I don't think so.  So prepare yourself.....when you think you ought to get the flu medication....it might be fake and not even work.

It won't make into your regular CNN or Fox News reports....but when that big sale of Heinz ketchup came up in the last week or two.....with Warren Buffet buying up $23 billion of the Heinz folks (John Kerry's wife owns the company).....some oddball guys apparently found out about the deal a day or two before, and bought up a massive amount of futures.  Their money? Hid up in a Swiss account.  The guys made $1.7 million in a matter of hours.  The SEC noticed this deal.  So they've ordered the Swiss account frozen until they can figure out who the guys are and how they made the deal.  The comic side of this....is that if they'd merely bought $100k of options....the $100k profit wouldn't have bothered the SEC at all.  For the guys in the deal?  It'll take the SEC at least a year to take this apart and say if charges will be noted or not.  Who are the guys?  Don't know.  They might not even be American.

Finally, among all the news on this Russian meteor episode....there's Russian news reports that the Russian military actually shot the meteor down.  They won't say what missile did it, or how they tracked it, but they shot it down.  Course, if this were true.....you'd have forty Russian generals lined up today and getting medals from Putin.  I haven't noticed this yet.

Friday, 15 February 2013

The Hagel Dude

As things closed up in DC yesterday, it's apparent that the President's choice for Secretary of Defense....Chuck Hagel....is in trouble and might not pass the Senate confirmation process.  The Republicans are pushing up a filibuster, and the media (from all sides) kinda hinted that the numbers are not exactly clear.  There might be just enough to pass him, but it'll be just enough.

The issues?  It comes down to three or four issues.

Chuck Hagel probably has has a distinguished career....mostly as a Republican-lite kind of guy from Nebraska.  It appears that a number of Republicans have noted that he hasn't exactly stood toe-to-toe with the rest of the party.  His general response has been that he represents the voters in his state, end of the story.

Then, there's the speeches where Chuck Hagel has noted his standing....mostly against Israel, which tends to get noticed after a while.

Then, you have the odd moment where in 2008....he offered up his endorsement to then candidate Senator Obama....instead of Senator McCain.  McCain hasn't forgotten that moment.  I was kinda surprised that numerous media outlets acted like this was not a big deal, and couldn't understand why McCain was grilling so intensely.

Finally, you come to the confirmation hearings....where Hagel looked like he really didn't want to be there.  His answers....his attitude....all appear like he's taking the job but he doesn't have real desires for it.  I sat through thirty minutes of confirmation and at one point....just flipped it to the History Channel.  I don't think he really feels that great about taking the job.

My humble guess is that this ends up as the top discussed item for the Sunday political chat shows, and the White House gets pretty nervous over the possibility of this going down the tubes.

The next choice?  The White House might try to interest General Powell....but I suspect he wants nothing out of the confirmation hearings.  They might have to reach over and ask the current number two guy of the Pentagon to step into the ring, just to get out of this mess.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

A Little Medal Story

The US military kinda operates like the Boy Scouts.  We have a bunch of medals that we give out, for various things.

We have fifty-odd medals.  There's the marksmanship medal.....which you get if you do well on your yearly shooting opportunities 

There's the Good Conduct Medal....which you get for being a good individual and not getting into trouble (this is not joke).  The Air Force tried to get rid the medal after thirty years....mostly because they felt it was your obligation to be good.  But after three years, they discovered that a fair segment of the Air Force weren't that good, and we needed to make a statement.

There's the Medal of Honor when you go out put yourself in mortal danger to help save folks (usually, you're six feet under when you get awarded this).

There's the short-tour medal, which you get for mostly just taking a crappy twelve-month tour to some isolated place that no one else wants to go.  You get recognized for wasting twelve months in Greenland or some island in the Pacific.

There's the Presidential Unit Citation, when you and your whole squadron went off on some massive mission and did a damn good job and the President himself wants to honor the whole gang.  There aren't that many units today that get that medal.

There's the Organizational Excellence Medal, which means you passed an inspection or two over the past two years and some Air Force general wants to recognize your commander mostly, but also note that these two hundred extra man-hours that you put in over two years in over-time and weekends.....were worth it.

The list goes on and on.

Well....since the drone wars have been going on....the pilots that they drag out to Las Vegas and make sit in Lazy-Boy recliners (it's probably actually $200 office chairs).....have been doing a bunch of flying....in chairs.

The way this drone business works is Gus and the drone crew sit out on some remote spot where it's pretty hot and miserable.  Gus and the boys don't have much to sip on and rarely eat anything but chowhall prepared food.  Gus and the guys make sure that the drone is fueled up each morning, and they launch it.  The key deal is that once it's airborne.....it starts to link up with a satellite and get commands.  And the real pilot?  He's sitting back in Vegas.

As the drone wars started up.....the Air Force wanted to reward these special pilots, who were mostly computer simulator pilots but on wartime missions. They started out with real flying medals, and the real pilots got pretty hyper about that.  It's not the same thing.

Time passed, and you can imagine five or six chair-pilots sitting there.....devising various strategies to fix this problem.

This week, the Air Force invented the newest medal.  It's the Distinguished Warfare Medal.  You can only get it....by sitting in a chair and flying a drone half-way around the world.  Real pilots can't get it.  Just the drone pilots can get it.

The thing that riles folks is the position that you wear it with the other medals.

You see....it does fall after the Distinguished Flying Medal, which only real pilots can get.  I suspect that real pilots set some rules down on this.  But it comes right before the Bronze Star with Valor medal....which you typically get when you were in some combat action, with bullets flying, and did some semi-heroic stuff, but nothing fancy like you'd get with the Medal of Honor.

Naturally, the guys with Bronze Stars are a bit upset and yanking on the chain of their leadership.  This just ain't right....you can imagine the comments and hostility of chair-pilots being a step above the Bronze Star guys.

This is the problem with medals.....you can't make everyone happy.

Oh, and you might be interested in this.  We even have a service medal called the Antarctica Service Medal.  Typically, it means you and a bunch of guys were ordered to take a vessel down near the land of Antarctica, and you stayed for thirty days or more.  Typically, it's only the navy guys who get this one.  I asked a guy about this, who had earned one.  He said they went in the right months when it wasn't that cold and he didn't even think it was a big deal.

And yeah, we did have the World War I Victory Medal, along with the World War II Victory Medal....which aren't seen much anymore.....mostly because all the guys wearing them have passed on.  Some medals just don't get seen much because of the event having passed.

Simply Observations

It will now be tomorrow, when this cruise boat finally docks in Mobile, and this mad rush to get off occurs.  The best that Carnival is offering?  This cruise is repaid, with a full-cruise in the future offered, and $500 in cash.  It appears that they will have buses ready to go....but most all destined to New Orleans, but not the Mobile airport.  So you can figure at least three hours to drive over New Orleans before you can even start to think over messing with TSA or spending three hours at the airport, or jumping through hoops for a two-hour flight to Philly.  I think I'd just get off the ship....find a taxi to take me to Gulf Shores hotel, and spend three days chilling before I make my way back to find a lawyer and sue the cruise-line.

Yeah, it's true....some idiot journalist at CNN asked if the sipping of water by Rubio in his response to the President....was a career-ender.  My question would be.....if viewers are turning off CNN hour-by-hour, is there any hope for the media-midget to survive?  I'm pretty sure you know the answer.

The Commander of the prison at Gitmo....got called in to testify.  It seems....that various microphones have been placed in rooms where the prisoners would discuss matters with their lawyers.  The Commander says.....he just didn't know about those dang microphones or that intelligence organizations (unknown which)....were behind it.  Yep, your prison and loaded with microphones  and maybe even the Commander's office having a hot mic.....and you just don't know it.  My prediction is that no court case will ever conclude successfully...with almost all results thrown out by some federal panel eventually because of the screw-ups.

Finally, the news media jumped up quickly as Governor Perry of Texas finished up his recruitment trip to California, and noted that not one single company signed up to leave California.  A bold failure.  Yep....course, they didn't want to mention that companies don't make irrational and hasty decisions.....and that four months from now.....some companies will quietly in the night just pack up and note a move out of the state of California.  You really don't want to give intentions ahead of time to those pesky California state tax revenue guys.

My Wage Idea

I sat and watched the Union Address from last night, and the one interesting piece mentioned....was bringing the minimum wage up to $9 an hour.

Some business folks spoke out today....noting this was not a brilliant idea in a weak economy like we have today.

I paused over this and actually came to a vastly different conclusion.  I'd actually like to bring the minimum wage to $17 an hour.  Here is my logic.

We've built up this great society deal where you have all these poverty folks, with various state and federal programs....rigged up to billions in aid, that we slip into cheese, welfare, and other brilliantly orchestrated programs.

Well....let's admit that if it was $17 an hour....there'd be no poverty.  So the orchestrated programs would dry up quickly, and there's around 150k Americans working for the federal government in various capacities that we could just let go.  We wouldn't employ them.....we wouldn't provide any welfare aide....we'd just let the American system carry everyone.

Then we come to this odd thing.  Immediately a McDonalds Quarter-Pounder meal would jump from $5.50 to $10.50.  That $49 room at Motel Six would go to $64.  The beer you sip at the sports bar for $5 would be $10.

The thing is....all that write-up....would exist, and taxes on you would disappear because of the government social programs disappearing.

Then we'd come to this odd thing.....all of these folks would be making $30k or more, and now start to fall into taxable territory.  They'd actually have to toss $500 to a $1000 to the federal government.  They'd start to contribute money just like regular middle-class people.

The odds of us accepting $17 an hour for the minimum wage?  Zero.  It'll never happen.     The odds of the President getting $9 an hour?  This year?  Zero.  But I could see it going up to $8.50 by the end of 2014....an election year.  That's going to make sense for both parties to make it happen.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

My Union Address

Since last night's State of the Union address....I've probably watched seventy minutes of analysis from CNN, the Business Channel, Fox News, MSNBC, and CBS.

A bunch of folks took this address pretty serious.....although historically, it's mostly just a boring speech that usually accomplishes next to nothing.

If I were going to list out ten things that might be worth doing....this would be my list:

1.  Skip the government over to a four-day work-week, with twenty percent less pay....effective immediately  and no one other than soldiers or Marines would be exempt.  Even Congress and the Senate would be limited to four days of work, and they'd take the same twenty percent paycut.  After a year or two....most folks would admit that they don't see any problems and about the same work done in four days as they did in five days.

2.  Identify any federal prosecutor who won't prosecute to US federal laws on the books, and terminate them from federal work.  We don't need more laws....we just need the current book of laws enforced.

3.  Flip the nation over to a simplified flat-tax for both personal income and corporate income.  The federal tax code would then be limited to 100 pages of text, period.....no exceptions.

4.  Get the government out of job creation.  It never was their job.....there's a big enough team in the real world to take care of that business.

5.  End federal pay-off's to foreign countries.  Keep the capital within the US.

6.  Pull US troops out of all foreign countries unless you identify hostilities or a war necessary.  US troops remain on US soil, unless there's a need to deploy them.  We've got plenty of buy-me-a-drink bar girls in Texas and Florida.....we don't need Private Joe buying his drinks from some British bar gal.

7.  Leave high school and university management to individual states.  There's a reason why we have county school boards.

8.  Force TV outlets and journalists to pay a federal political tax every-time they want to interview any Congressman, Senator or White House administration player.  Forty-four dollars a minute sounds fairly reasonable. Put the money into the revenue pot and thank the guys for just talking a lot.

9.  If you don't have a real national energy policy, then don't go around stomping on this energy or that energy.  State a policy and then let's move on.

10.  Finally, a bank ought to act and behave like a bank.  If you are a bank that does a lot of investing business....you simply aren't a bank, and we need to invent a new term for your line of business.  We are making tons of regulations....which don't really affect ninety percent of the banks out there....but they have to hire lawyers to reassure them of such.

My Neighborhood

Down across the river....into DC....there's Farragut Square. It's about two blocks away from the rear of the White House....set into sort of a triangular shape.  I'd take a guess that it's no more than two acres. The key elements of the square....for the past one hundred-odd years....has been the statue of Admiral Farragut, and a Gingko tree.

There's a sidewalk that takes you around the square, and probably twenty benches for a guy to sit and just take in a quiet city street in DC.  On any given afternoon....there's probably five or six KGB guys sitting there....maybe an entourage from VP Joe's office....maybe two Nam vets talking over old times....and maybe even a right-wing guy arguing with a left-wing guy.

There's a couple of minor trees and shurbs on the square....but the Ginko is the big deal.  It's actually around 140 years old.  Well....it was....around 140 years old.

Yesterday....some landscaping crew was hired up to come in and cut a tree down on the square.  It was supposed to be the tree across from the Ginko tree....a much younger tree.  No is saying why that tree had to go, but it was on the list.

The National Park Service had marked all the trees in some fashion.....trees to cut and trees to stay.  No one is saying much except the landscaping crew cut the wrong tree.

Naturally, this has raised a mighty big fuss in DC.

Now, there's a discussion that no tree-cutting contract ought to be allowed, unless a qualified arborist, a tree scientist, is actually on-site when the cutting is planned and done.  You can just see the wheels of Congress at work.  Within two years, there'll be some government regulation that requires the hiring of 16k arborists by the government and commercial landscaping services (if you want a government contract, you'd have to prove you have such a arborist).

The cut tree?  Pictures indicate that it got cut up pretty quick once the chainsaw guy got going.

It's funny how a government regulation gets born.  You can just smell trouble coming now.

Pay Scale

Someone at the office yesterday brought this to my attention, and I sat there laughing for the rest of the day.

When I arrived at Lackland Air Force Base in August of 1977....my monthly salary was roughly $399.  After you took out taxes and Social Security....every two weeks.....I made around $170 every two weeks.    I'd be the first to admit that it wasn't a bad deal.  I had three hot meals a day provided free of charge.  I had a barracks room.  The Air Force took care of most of my requirements.

The current pay scale for a new guy arriving at Lackland?  $1400 a month.  You can figure after taxes and Social Security....a guy is taking home $500 every two weeks....an amazing amount of money for a eighteen year-old kid.

The first thing I ever bought after getting my paycheck?  A pair of $45 cowboy boots.  The same pair today?  Probably in the $110 range.

It is a mighty different world.

Simply Observations

The value of the State of the Union address?  It's political theater, at best.  A President (doesn't matter if it's JFK, or Bush I)....will walk in and deliver an hour-long speech, and ask for around twenty things.  Over the next twelve months....if lucky, he might get or achieve five of the items that he requested.  The difference between this President and past Presidents?  President Obama will lay out some form of "blame" for things that haven't been done.  When you look at the State of the Union addresses that Carter or Nixon gave....it was simply a long, drawn-out, and dull speech....that didn't really blame anyone but gave simply their vision of where things ought to go.

The shooter out in California is dead from the cabin fire.  Most cops will be relieved.  The prosecutor team can be happy to some degree because there won't be a year-long episode to prepare for an intensive court battle.

Sometime this morning, the Carnival cruise ship will finally be dragged into port in Mobile.  It's been three days now.  No electrical power on the ship.  Toilets won't flush.  No food has been available.  Around four thousand folks have just been surviving....since Sunday.  Folks who have been calling from the ship....indicate that everything stinks.  Folks are throwing up and are getting sick from lack of sanitation.  Some folks gave up on their rooms and have been sleeping on the top deck because that's the only place with a breeze.  I would imagine that Carnival will have to give not only a free trip to each person on-board  but some kind of incentive check of $5k to make them desire another trip with the cruise ship company.

Finally, there's the odd piece that popped up this week over Arlington Cemetery.  A family-orientated group has made a strong statement over the possible idea that gay married partners of US troops could be eligible to be buried in the cemetery.  The simple truth is that any immediate family member of a GI....to include his wife or kids....can gain a position within the cemetery upon death.  This was a reaction to the Monday list of things that the Pentagon would consider open to gay marriage partners.  I'm guessing that they will want some Senators and Representatives to voice some sentiment, and most just want to stay out of this mess as much as possible.  My general opinion is that when you've reached the point that you need to be six feet under....your sex stuff doesn't matter much anymore.  Arlington Cemetery didn't exist before the Civil War, and it has a limit to what it can handle.  One day....it'll reach that limit, and the gates will close unless you just want to visit.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

My Neighborhood

This is an odd story.

Over in the southeast part of DC....where most folks would prefer not to live, there is a decaying neighborhood.  It was recognized as such back in the early 1990s.

The DC city council decided by the late 90's.....that perhaps a HUD deal could help remake the area, and make it more presentable.

So they packaged this deal.  They applied for a big grant deal....$28 million....more or less.  All from HUD.

The thing is....it all relates to the fixing-up of a mini-shopping mall area....not a park or housing.

As the money rolled in around 2002, you would have thought that a project manager would have been appointed and personally watched over the investment and the expenditures....getting data and bills to show where they spent the money.

Well.....it appears that no one much ever monitored the $28 million.

HUD is asking stupid questions now.  They want evidence on how the money was spent.

The city of DC says that most records are gone, and that they were all split up among several departments....not one location, which just adds more speculation onto the management of this $28 million dollar grant.

This week, HUD basically gave the city six weeks to find records and settle this mess.  I'm guessing that the city council is just sitting there.  They don't know nothing, and can't prove nothing.

The end result?  HUD could get a federal judge involved and just demand the city pay back the whole $28 million...period.

The results from the $28 million dollars?  Well....that's another item of interest.  No one much talks about it but the neighborhood is likely no better or worse than it was in 2002 before it got the money.  Maybe there's a new paved parking lot.  Maybe there's a million in fancy landscaping sitting out there.  But frankly, it's hard to say.

The funny thing about this whole story....if the city had hired one project manager, and just said this is it....no other work and responsibility.....just track what goes on, and keep a copy of everything you spend, then none of this would be necessary.  One guy.  And the city wasn't even competent to hire one such character.

A New Breakfast Drink?

The Dew guys decided it was finally necessary to have a Dew breakfast drink.  Yeah, it's around in a 16-ounce can.  It has around twenty percent more caffeine than a regular Mountain Dew.  And there's a little bit of fruit juice in it.....enough to claim it might be marginally healthy for you.

My Bama sense kicked in, and to be honest.....given a choice....I'd just as well prefer a real Mountain Dew with a pair of pop-tarts for breakfast, than switch over to KickStart.

My humble opinion?  It'll sell, and eventually....some guy will crank up MAX KickStart, which will feature double the current amount of caffeine in it.

A Humble Ten-Percent Parable

And God spoke out to Joe, Fred, and Barney.....because of expenditures.....your tithe allotment must increase across the board for those who make $200k or more, from ten percent, to eighteen percent.

God spoke of the necessity....of those who have more....to give more.

Blessings don't grow on trees....was the phrase that God used in delivering his words.

Joe, Fred, and Barney sat there for a while.

Eventually....Joe...who typically made $280k a year....running a used-car lot on the west side.....decided that eighteen percent was fair.  Joe spoke of the wisdom of fairness.  It was twenty-five words of wisdom, but that was enough...in his mind.

Then Fred spoke up.  Fred wasn't happy.  He asked if God was really being wise in upping the tithe situation.  Fred had employees, bills to pay, and an ex-wife in Tulsa.  Fred felt that fairness....was not really a virtue that was listed high in the Bible.  In essence.....he felt that God was wrong.

Finally, Barney stood up.  Barney started off asking God some questions.

What exactly was the church doing with the tithe money right now?   Where were the expenditures?

God stood there.....more in a confused moment, than the all-powerful moment.  Typically, folks don't go around asking God stupid questions.  God decided it was best to say nothing.

Barney wasn't going to sit down or shut up.

So Barney laid into God.  Are you spending tithe money on losers?  Are you paying people in the church to do nothing?  Are you sending church folks off to conferences in Las Vegas?  Are you allowing the church management to buy expensive cars?  Are you putting fancy glass windows into churches that eat up capital investment money? Are you paying $20k a month to get four hours of TV time on the local TV station?

God was getting a bit shaky here.  You could tell....this wasn't the regular kind of church-going guy....Barney was sitting there and observing a bunch of stupid spending habits.  Barney was simply not going to hand God more than ten percent....end of the story.

The morale of the story?  In two thousand years of running modern civilization and society....God has done a fair job on church taxes....with ten percent being the "norm".  Somehow, churches have lived within their means.

Toughest Gun Laws in America

I sat in McDonalds this morning for around fifteen minutes.

There was this short piece on the news, and I watched in fascination.

Basically.....the Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department was literally begging the media to stop call city policy on guns as "strict".

The quote was: “One of the things that I would like to again try to clear up, and I ask you to please stop adopting the rhetoric of the gun advocates.  Chicago does not have strict gun laws.  The state of Illinois does not have strict gun laws.”

It was a comical moment.

The truth?  Well....compared to 1,000 other cities, and forty-nine other states.....they have the strictest gun laws in America.  The only city....with tougher views on weapons....is Washington DC.

He may not think his laws are strict, but comparably speaking....it's on the strict side.

I'm guessing each evening....he has some idiot talking to him, maybe from Phoenix, or Miami, or Dallas, and they also talk about Chicago's tough gun-laws, and it just drives the guy nuts.

A smart reporter in the room would have fired back....would you like to make your current tough gun-laws tougher?  That would have got him going.

The truth on the street?  You can write 50k pages of tough gun laws, effective tomorrow morning.....and folks will just go out and buy a pistol which easily violates the law.  You can't legislate guys from breaking the law.  It is that simple.

The False of a False Premise

"It's almost a false argument to say we have a spending problem. We have a budget deficit problem that we have to address."

-- Nancy Pelosi

I sat there for a while and just looking over the quote by Representative Pelosi....spoken at a Sunday political chat show.

It's like your cousin Karl, who has a $60k credit card debt situation.  It was free money, a great seven trips to Vegas, and someday....maybe twenty years in the future....your uncle would pass on and feel sorry for you, and leave you $60k to suddenly pay off the debt.

Or, it's like your neighbor Jimmy, who bought the $400k house four years ago with no down payment, which is today only worth $250k.  Jimmy works hard and today pays almost $2,200 a month.  He knows he has a deficit problem but if he ever fails...doesn't matter, the bank will be stuck with the stupid house anyway.

A smart reporter would have come back and asked Nancy....what is the magic number of debt to admit that you do have a spending problem.  Nancy would have grinned and just passed on that entirely.

A smart reporter would have sensed the moment and asked if it was a false premise to associate spending with debt.  Economic logic would have failed Nancy at that moment.

A smart reporter would have asked if a balanced budget at any level....for regular people or a government....even mattered.  Nancy would have had a tough time to respond to that.

Here's the thing.  After watching political idiots appear on TV constantly....you get to a point of suspecting it's all a political reality show and built just for your entertainment.  No real politician could walk around and say things like that.....right?

Monday, 11 February 2013

The Story to the Story to the Story

Over the weekend, there's an electronic book that came out....barely 80-odd pages....over the whole Benghazi episode.  What we basically find out is a strange operation.

This character now in the running for the head of the CIA....John Brennan...had this tasking.

So let's set the script here.  The evil Muammar Gaddafi guy, who led Libya for all those years....suddenly about five years ago came to find the good graces of Europe and the US within his range.  He was their friend, and was suddenly cooperative.

A funny thing happen two years ago....some groups in Libya went anti-Gaddafi.  Mostly the Jihad guys.

So you had the State Department, CIA, and whoever....all up and friendly with Gaddafi, but this war starts up.  There is some belief that maybe some US elements were connected to the anti-Gaddafi crowd.  In the end.....Gaddafi's government falls, and he's shot dead.

Well...Gaddafi's former associates have connections....feel hostile and angry, and they want various elements of the Jihad guys killed off.

So enters some folks connected up to the Administration, and here enters John Brennan.  John is eventually given a strange tasking.  Go after the Jihad guys.....who have a number of friendly relations going with various US government groups.

John has this military group attached to the tasking.  John doesn't talk to the CIA much.  John doesn't talk much to the Pentagon.  John doesn't talk much to the State Department.  Everyone may claim pieces of information, but I would imagine that no one was really clear on what the heck John's group was doing.

So John's gang went out and killed Jihad guys.  After a while, the Jihad guys started to ask stupid questions.

Here was the State Department trying to be friendly with Jihad folks in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Here were Pentagon efforts to bring a more friendly relations with Jihad guys.  And some oddball group is killing Jihad Libyan guys left and right?

So the left hand didn't talk to the right hand.

Somewhere in the midst of this mess.....this ambassador ends up going somewhere he should have known better. Some CIA guys probably should have had more understanding of everything around them.

The Senate is about to stop the Brennan proceedings and ask stupid questions.

My guess is that some CIA guys are turning around and asking how this guy gets the 'get-into-the-CIA' card and is the cause of this big mess.

The Pentagon?  They are likely asking who authorized all this and how they were left out of the loop.

Brennan?  This book comes out and really puts him into an awkward position.  The writers probably wanted to wait another four months and have 200 pages, but this was the only way to toss some gas onto the fire, and make things kinda interesting.

So finally.....what is the real game-plan?  Don't know.  Maybe there's a dozen such operations underway presently, and no really knows what all twelve lead to.   

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Just a History Lesson

There is a little piece of history, which the media tends to skip over and easily forget whenever the topic comes up....but it's an interesting piece of American history.

Somewhere in the midst of the Nixon years....around the early part of 1974....Richard Nixon came out with an agenda.  It was a simplified plan.  The deal would involve all employers to offer some type of health insurance policy.  The government would step in....with vouchers....to help the 'poor' afford the intended policies.

The odd thing is that Republicans were generally on board.  The comical side of this story...is that Watergate basically stopped the entire agenda in its tracks.  Had Watergate never happened.....some type of massive national health insurance deal would have been put into place.

So you'd think that was the end of the story....but it's not.

In 1977, newly arrived President Jimmy Carter, starts his own health insurance agenda.  Oddly enough....Jimmy is frozen out of any advance...mostly because of Senator Ted Kennedy, who felt it wasn't going along the lines that Kennedy desired.  Infighting started to occur, and by the fourth year....Senator Ted Kennedy had decided to take on the President and ran a fairly healthy primary season against Carter.  Most people who've analyzed the 1979 primary and general election....will usually come to the bad primary blood being one of the three major reasons that Jimmy Carter lost to Reagan.

The Nixon and Carter programs?  It's odd....they rarely ever get mentioned today.  I would imagine that both would have eventually dumped folks into some Medicare situation, with limited funding, limited cost and the government unwilling to help supplement the doctors.....and the general outcome would have been less-than-desirable health care, but something better than nothing.

The curious thing is that no newspaper or media outlet will go back and mention theses events.

Sunday Political Chat Shows

I must admit....I have this love-hate thing about the Sunday political chat shows.  There's around a dozen of them now, and most are one-to-two star at best.

A couple of them have permanent 'experts' who show up, and after five appearances, you are convinced that they just don't know much about their topic, and you'd be better off with some guy off the streets of Provo, Utah.

Some of the shows will bring on journalists who pretend to be experts....but they are mostly dimwits who look good in a $500 suit or a $700 fancy silk blouse (with a $3k jade necklace hanging obviously).

Occasionally, they will find some big-name guy from the 1970s....bring them out to be the honest-to-God expert on American politics.  But after ten minutes....you kinda wonder if they ever knew were an expert on anything....even gas-grills.

I've come to regard the CNN Sunday political show as one of the weaker shows.  There's generally a slant to most anything they talk on.  You keep wishing they'd focus on a broad spectrum and lay out pure facts so people could make their own analysis.  Instead, you feel like you are at a Chrysler show-room, and getting the big sales deal over some car that you really don't feel happy about.

This Week, on ABC?  There was a time in the 1990s that it probably did a four-star job.  Today?  It's probably a show that you tend to mute through half of what they put on.  You might get better discussions from your local barbershop, or from the local garbage truck team.

The general question that I'd personally like to throw out...at both a Republican and Democratic Senator that appear on a political chat show....do you make your own personal budget for your household?  Course, I know both will affirm that they do.  Then I'd ask.....how do you make it?  They'd both spend seven minutes giving you the simplicity of how a budget works.  Then I'd ask if they could use any of that simplicity in building a national budget?  I suspect that both would just look at you and refuse to answer the question.

George Stephanospoulos?  I'm not sure how George ever got the job, or how he has kept the job...but he seems to just hang on.  I'm confident that ABC is kinda stuck.  They could replace him....but would you get any better numbers? And the question of contract costs come up.  I'm pretty sure that George is living comfortably, but not exactly getting rich off his show.

Face the Nation on CBS?  Well....I've come regard Bob Schieffer as a guy who has never asked a second follow-on question of any intensity in his life.  I would imagine that CBS would like to replace Bob, but then you'd have to pull out the checkbook and actually pay a fair amount of wage for the next guy.  I'm guessing Bob isn't on the high end of CBS's wage chart, and simply continuing because CBS really doesn't want him to retire.

Yeah, if it sounds like I'm likely to watch a Japanese monster movie on Sunday morning....more than a political chat show....yeah, that might be correct.

The Post Office Discussion

For around a decade, there's been serious budget issues with the US postal system.  It's best to describe them as a failed business that gets some cash from the government, and somehow survives on.  They'd like to make serious changes, from ending Saturday delivery, to deleting a fair number of post offices across the nation.

This past week....they finally said enough.....ending Saturday letter delivery, but keeping box delivery on....at least for a year or two.  My suspicion is that they will end the box delivery by the end of 2014....simply because of cash issues.

So this brings us to the chief topic....how can they survive?

The experts now admit that a huge cost problem is mail delivery in rural America.  It cost less to operate in urban areas....like Philly, or Nashville, or Provo.  When you look at Nebraska....where seventy percent of the population lives in small towns of a thousand or less....the postal operation is a fair amount of cash.

The other issue which most folks now point out....folks over fifty who don't do computers....still survive greatly on the postal system, and want the six-day a week delivery.  Folks in their twenties....for the most part....could survive with one-day a week postal delivery, and they even admit that.

I suspect that we will reach a point by 2020, where there is no Saturday delivery at all, and in some areas....no Monday delivery.  Some urban areas might even get to the point of accepting only a post office drop-off point where you weigh your box, charge the cost to a credit card, and dump it down a chute with a label that gets printed out, with no human contact ever existing at their regional post office.

I would even go out on the limb and predict by 2040....that in an entire county of 100k residents....there will only be one true post office in operation with two or three employees.  FEDEX and UPS will cover all packages by that point.  And most all of us will do business by email or internet.

It's an odd world we live in.  Even a $1 stamp won't fix this budget issue (that's only ten years away, if you can imagine it).

Saturday, 9 February 2013

That Update from Vegas

It won't be in your newspaper or in the national news....but around ten days ago....a case out in Las Vegas got settled on voter fraud.

You probably remember the episode from early November.  This red-headed fifty-year-old gal....being escorted away by the cops....made it into the national news via all the networks.  She voted in one district, and then went later in the same day to another polling station and tried to vote a second time. Her intent....as she claimed....was to show how easy it was. She was wrong....the cops came to take her to the station and ask stupid questions.  Charges erupted over this.

The final deal?  Well...she has to pay roughly $2,500, do around 100 hours of community work, go to a impulse-control class (this ought to be interesting), and then just stay out of trouble, period.

Now, before you get all excited and start discussing her actions as a Democrat....I want to make this clear....she is a registered Republican.  So, like the Judge kinda hinted....she's a bit on the naive side, and probably takes to impulses more than a regular person.

How many other folks did the Vegas folks arrest over voting twice in this election?  None.  It appears that she was the only one that they could clearly show dual voting.  Course, I will point this out.  Nothing would have popped up on this gal....if she'd done a absentee voting document with California, and voted in person in Vegas.  So the system....even as the Vegas prosecutor bragged as being top-notch....does have some severe limitations.

And no, the Vegas folks haven't indicated how many dead folks voted in the November election.  It's best not to bring up that topic.