Saturday, 29 June 2013

That Rising Sea-Level

I hate having to poke fun at Senators and Congressmen....you'd like to hope on some chance that they don't speak out and say something awful stupid that would get people worried or upset.  This week?  Democratic Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz....came out to address global warming.

Here emphasis?  She hyped up on nine inches of sea-level rise over the past ninety years.  She's worried. If global warming continues at this rate....her district will likely be underwater.  It might just be a couple of years.  Maybe more.  Maybe less.

The push?  Well....we just gotta dump this fossil fuel stuff and climb onto alternate and renewable energy.

I sat and pondered over this.  If you went out and moved to Florida, and found yourself a fancy property along the beachfront....just six inches above sea-level....you were mostly foolish.  It'd be like building a house eight foot away from the Mississippi River....or sixty foot from a leaning bolder out in California that might heave if you just had the right earthquake.

But a man has to be forgiving of folks in this case.  And I think there's only one thing we can do.....save the poor folks who built on the beach.  So I'm suggesting we require all new homes in Florida to be built twenty-four feet above the ground....on stilts.

It'll be a federal program....we will provide the stilts, as needed (subsidized and covered by a new tax on perfume, Snickers, cat-food, and flip-flops).  Don't ask how I came up with this taxation scheme.

The neat thing about the stilt idea....is that with twenty-four feet...you got some protection.  If the water only rises an inch each sixteen years on average.....we will have at least four hundred years of service with the house before water overcomes it.

Course, this will bring up the topic of representation and how to recognize county lines....if streets are gone.  We have to make sure that Representative Wasserman can still stay in her district, and cover their priorities.

I also have this other idea of building a sixteen foot pipe from the Gulf of Mexico to the Salt Flats of Utah, and fill up the area with a brand new lake....the size of New York City.  This would hide the sea-level rise for another hundred years.

Thankfully, science is a double-edge sword.

Friday, 28 June 2013

A Green Story

Sometimes, I'll pull out a story which hadn't really been told, and just lay it out for folks to ponder.

The Air Force came one day to decide on building the greatest BX of all time....at Ramstein....to be called the KMC.  Men, women and children would come from miles away....to see the grand palace.  Army guys were amazed by it....mostly because it offered sixteen places to eat, and actually had a sports bar where you could get drunk while the wife shopped.

Years in the planning stage and years in the construction stage.....there's numerous events about the KMC in construction which can be told, and you kinda sit back and have a laugh over.

The KMC was supposed to be "green".

So a portion would have this glass roof deal, but the rest of it would have a 'pit' of sorts, and dirt tossed around on top.

The Air Force hired up an engineer and his company to develop this nifty covering.  German guy of course, who had done a couple of such buildings.  They hadn't asked a lot on success of the previous buildings, and that might have changed history.

Once the building started going up....there was this big heavy concrete support....with tons and tons of dirt placed on it.  Grass would be planted, and it'd be 'pure-green'.

At some point, the carpet was ready to lay on the concrete inside.  As spring was arriving....rains arrived, and there were leaks.  Numerous leaks.

The support structure for the building.....wasn't holding back the water.

Well...it's a funny thing.  This German guy and his company?  Well....they had leaks in other buildings that they'd done.  By this point, they were going bankrupt.

Quietness fell upon the crowd.  Months passed....lawyers hired....court action.  The construction guys needed to fix the mess and hired a new guy.  Quarter of a million for him to find a solution.

The dirt roof would eventually disappear and a real roof....of a non-green quality was put up.  Added cost, but we'd best not to discuss that part.

It would have been nice if that was the only issue....but that one guy spray-painted 250-odd rooms with florescent paint on doors and windows got the KMC delayed it a bit more.  Sinkage on one end....delayed it more.  Then there was the escalator that arrived to be installed but it was like a foot or two too short to fit.

Eventually, against all odds....the KMC was finished.  It's best not to ask the real cost.

Sometimes, Things Change

In Bama, cop kingdoms are built in certain ways, and it's the way of the land.

Where I grew up...the local town I claim as home....had a grand total of about 250 people. Until the last couple of years....they have one cop....whose chief duty in life....is to monitor the state line (five miles away) and arrest anyone transporting alcohol across or anyone drunk. That is the sole reason of his existence.

The city had to write up some special rule...just to extend the limits five miles beyond the city....to allow him to make bonus money via this method. The town managers were quiet about the deal....but one might reckon that he brought in $80k a year to the town, of which he probably got to keep a fair portion.

Yeah, it's sad, but legal.

Crime was an issue around the town....especially theft operations and meth.  Most residents were upset about this but change the situation.

The other town, just five miles in the other direction, where I went to high school later....had only one cop and he had no country-line road to profit off of. He stayed generally busy there in the local area but you notice that local crime and break-ins rarely ever occur.

They liked their one and only cop....in this town of 700 people. He rarely stayed more than a couple of years and then moved on.

The third town....is on highway 72 (the 4-lane multi-lane super-duper). Around 1000 residents in this sleepy town....although they do have a full-up library, a Hardees, a McDonalds, and a Piggly Wiggly. They have around six cops and five police cars. They also have one of the best speed-traps in the state on highway 72.

One can only venture and guess that they are bringing in over $250k per year on tickets. In fact, they even went out and got one of those homeland security grants for a boat to use on the lake.  The excuse was terrorism but they mostly used it for drunken boaters.

So for a long time....this kingdom business worked fine.  Then, the dry county thing came to an end.  The third town sought the votes....passed dry into history, and liquor/booze flows.  You can drive home from work, pick up a case, and life is good.

My hometown cop likely settling back into a new norm.....without much to say or do....except enforce the law.  Sometime, things actually change, and new kingdoms develop.

Leaving Metroville

After three and a half years....I am finally leaving Arlington (and DC).  Is there a list about this exit?  Well, yeah.

First, people tend to get particular about announcing themselves and their territory.  Folks from Virginia....tend to start using the term "Commonwealth" after a while, refusing to utter 'state'.  Folks in Maryland....tend to want you to know that they are mostly all Democrat and very progressive.  And folks from DC....all want you to know that it just ain't right that they aren't a state....meanwhile looking for some angle of corruption to benefit them or their buddy.

Second, if you haven't been around crime and chaos much in life.....then a year or two in this region will resettle your way of thinking about expecting trouble twenty-four hours a day.  I know some guys who tote a pistol whenever they leave the house.  I know some folks who've spent a thousand bucks on security junk for the house.  I know some folks who've forced the whole family to take handgun classes. You've actually got punks here....who will simply knock at the door and barge right in on your property....day or night.

Third, you tend to notice that the mayor and city council of DC are in corruption situations all year-round now.  Then you notice that the folks in Montgomery county, Maryland, and Prince Georges county, Maryland....also tend to be involved in corruption stuff almost monthly.  But here in Arlington?  There's probably only a thousand folks who can even name one city council person, and I can't think of a single corruption episode in three years in Arlington.  We tend to worry more about what pub is shutting down, or new Thai restaurant opening, or the latest trend in I-Phone technology.

Fourth, with the exception of New York City.....Arlington probably has the largest concentration of folks with no car.  I'd take a guess that between one and two thousand folks in the county....simply use Metro or bike around.

Fifth, after a while, you tend to notice that there are a lot of women in their thirties and forties....single.....looking for eligible bachelors, and they'd be willing to accept various eccentric ways....just to meet up with a professional guy who could stand watching Friends, sipping wine, voting Democrat, and attending musicals or opera in DC.  These are the same women who read three books a month, talk about leaving DC but never do, buy $150 shoes every month, eat Thai food weekly, and whine about the quality of single guys over thirty years old.  A smart intelligent Republican single guy could walk in and be in paradise....if he could be a pretender-Democrat, wear loafers instead of cowboy boots, and sip wine.

Sixth, you can sense in ten years that Arlington will end up being this massive cluster of urban 'Europe'.  The county folks are planning trolley cars, biking trails, parks, and trying to make the area into a magnet that yuppies want to come and stay.  DC?  It's actually redeveloping every inch of the District into the same thing....kicking the low-income folks out....mostly to Prince Georges and Montgomery county.  You can sense that Maryland will end up as this third-world place in a decade or two.

Seventh, I will come to miss the daily conflicts of Metro and the subway system.  They have some of the most brilliant and most incompetent people in the world....working for them.  They are absolutely creative in making accidents of a rare and unusual type occur.  A single accident could happen today and kill a dozen folks on the subway....just because of one stupid mistake by a driver.  Bus drivers get all hyped up....freaked out....and won't hesitate to unbuckle and whoop up on some passenger.  Guys will stop along the track area and urinate right there in front of folks.  Crazy folks will commit suicide by jumping in front of an oncoming train....just to avoid doing it themselves quietly somewhere else.  The management guys will spend hundreds of thousands on some fancy artwork....to adorn a Metro entrance....which no one ever notices.

Eighth, there is conflict on a daily basis of one group versus another on DC affairs.  The Eisenhower Memorial folks are locked in mortal combat with the anti-Eisenhower Memorial folks....mostly over a steel curtain contraption that will rust out in a dozen years.  The DC fire department is fighting their chief (a black guy) almost on a daily basis.....because he's an outsider and the position should only be given to a insider (go figure).  The DC city parks people argue over flowers being here, trees there, or giving a contract to a special friend of the mayors.  The Arlington community argues over the stupid trolley car....mostly because it's one single track and costing around $200 million......but will help only one single street area in the whole county.  One upscale housing area in Arlington is in an eternal fight with the city council about buying up a high-scale older building....mostly to house drunks and homeless folks, which the locals really don't want them around.  Then there's the anti-Arlington Cemetery crowd fighting the Cemetery management folks over the plan to cut down 800 trees on the property.....to replant most....giving them more space to buy more our heroes.  The 'anti' crowd says the trees help beautify the area and the Cemetery.  And the Cemetery management folks kinda hint....it is a Cemetery, and not some city park, which aggravates the beautification folks a bit.

Ninth, there are probably a million folks who drive into DC or the surrounding area on a daily basis.  Folks now plan their commute.....getting up at 4AM, and trying to arrive in DC by 6AM to avoid the crowds.  And they do this 52 weeks out of the year.  They sip three cups of coffee either in the car or at work....complaining of stress continually, and it's become an accepted lifestyle.

Finally, there is this layer of history, which most just overlook.  A ninety-minute walk in Arlington Cemetery takes you through a dozen wars.  The Lee House....invites you to consider the significance of the family and it's influence on America.  A single afternoon tour of Jefferson's home....makes you marvel over his continual tinkering with the house.  A morning tour of Washington's home....makes you wonder why he'd ever want to leave it.  A dozen battlefields lay within an hour or two of DC.....where history was in the making....but you have to visit them to understand the impact of one single battle.  In the forty-two months I was here....I toured just about everything of significance.  There's an awful lot that professors left out of college history, and you start to realize volumes of extra knowledge.  We used to have so many duels here in the District....that Congress actually stepped in and mandated that you couldn't duel in DC.....so they'd ride by horse over into Maryland and shoot their mortal enemy there.  Young interns hooked up with political enthusiasts.....some mysteriously died, and some ended up marrying Senator Snuffy.  There are a thousand folks in the DC region...whose claim to fame is that they are part of such-and-such committee for such-and-such historical preservation site, and their life-work is situated around getting dimwit rich guys to donate to tidy up the old sites.

Yeah, it's been an experience.  Steinbeck could have stood around for a year and written some 700-page book over the common man and his downfall.  Hemingway could have spent two nights at some local DC pub in a drunken state and written out a 200-page essay on the wickedness of the District and lucious damsels who partake of alcohol.  And Mark Twain probably would have spent one weekend in the District....then got on a horse heading south, and just left to find something of a more human nature to write about.

The End Point

Tomorrow morning, I will walk out of the Pentagon for the last time.  My quitting day.

There are four observations that I can make.

First, I am one month shy of 36 years of service via the Air Force, contractor in support of the Air Force, or GS worker in the Pentagon.  It's been a long episode.  I can truthfully say that what always captivated me was that  things occurred everyday....that you wouldn't expect.

Sarge would be arrested for tramping with a 17-year old daughter of some Chief on base.  Captain Joe would spend $8,000 on shrubbery to beautify the building....giving the truckload of shrubs to Airman Pete and George....only to discover four months later that all the shrubs are dead.....because neither Airman removed the plastic sheeting on the shrubs as they planted.  Major Gus spent $14,000 on a fancy British-made car that was nine years old....only to discover over the next year that he had to spend another $9,000 to keep it running.  Airman Sid got beat up one night by three female airman....to such a degree....that he refused to walk out of the barracks unless someone went with him at night.  Colonel Bob was drunk on a Rhine River cruise boat....and caught via a camera groping some female fireman....and tossed out six weeks later from the Air Force.

Every single week....there was something new and different.  Yeah, it was a soap opera to some degree.

Second, I traveled to the ends of the Earth, and for the most part....the US government paid for it.  A guy from Bama wouldn't typically travel to Central America, Italy, Turkey, or England.  So I felt privileged to some degree.

Third, I reached a point in the spring of last year where I felt this job was more of a ride on a dead horse, than worth accomplishing.  From a four-man shop that I arrived into...fourteen months later...one associate left, and they terminated the billet.  Six months later, the second person left, and they froze that billet.  Two guys can't run a four-man shop....but the leadership never got that idea.  A year later, the third guy left....and I sat there in November by myself....asking for two weeks of leave at Christmas.  No....was the answer.  I kinda realized the mess this was....they changed their minds a day later, but it didn't matter.  Between that and furlough....there just isn't a reason to remain.

Fourth and final....there's this budget mess approaching in a year or two.  You can sense the Pentagon will take steps to reduce it's size and manpower.  If you stay.....you'd only face some comical organizational effort that won't be explained until it's a done deal.  You'd just be standing there when someone calls you to come up to the front office....then discover that they've done a RIF list, and you got onto it.  The most you get?  $25,000.  All taxable of course.  You might be lucky and six weeks of notice, but the fact will be that most government agencies will all be doing the same thing.

Yeah, it was time to leave....and just simply step to the side of any US government job for the rest of my life.  It was enough.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

My Neighborhood

Across the river, into DC....it is a urban wonderland.  Typically, you don't have bears loose in DC.  Yesterday morning.....cops got this call from someone.....bear on the loose in northwest DC.

Cops show up, with some animal welfare guys, and find this young bear....probably a year old....walking around.

It takes about an hour for them to finally get the right distance to it and tranquilize the bear.  He was hustled off.  Everyone was kind of careful not to hint....what state they dumped him off into.  Could have been Maryland....could have been Virginia.  This always invites discussions when word gets out on where they dump animals.

Course, the legend of the mountain lion loose in a DC park continues.  Various people still believe that there's one out there.....but no real video or pictures of it.  

Snowden and His Drifting Iceland

As the hours tick by in Moscow....our wandering character....Snowden....is now figuring out the problems of finding a country to accept him.

Iceland?  Weeks ago, this made sense.  Days ago, the intellectual crowd of Iceland that run the country probably thought this was a done-deal.

Somewhere along the way to discussing and approving Snowden coming into Iceland....some lonely State Department gal likely came along and asked if Iceland had any wishes to expand out it's big money-maker....Icelandic Air.

Every month, there's lots of American dollars that roll into the company and helps the revenue base of little Iceland.  It's the one bright spot over the past couple of years....where dismal economic conditions have been felt on the isle.

What they suddenly discovered was that any hopes of getting more business into more US airports....relied upon those idiots in America approving your expansion.  And they just didn't have to agree to your view of expansion.

So the Icelandic intellectuals suddenly realized the limited nature of what they could accomplish.  By merely allowing public debate, they are working up a sweat and really can't admit to the public that the US has them over a barrel.  Talk just leads to more talk, and less chance of any acceptance.

Snowden....is screwed.

Putin's team is likely watching this unfold and now wondering if Snowden walks out of the terminal and asks for asylum....would they allow it?  For a chance to jab the President weekly for months?  Anything to gain?  Hard to say.

Snowden probably should have spent weeks and months contemplating this act of stupidity, and where he ought to be at the right time.  Sitting in a Moscow airport for months is going to be like a prison.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Simply Observations

The Paula Deen appearance on the Today Show today?  It kind of turned the Today Show into some soap opera.  I watched four minutes, and then had this vision of Doctor Phil, and that was enough.  The thing is.....most southern folks are of a forgiving nature, so around sixty million folks are likely to be pulling for Paula from this point on.  No matter what any idiot says on TV, she likely fell into the forgiven category.

I'll make this prediction over the Supreme Court ruling and the direction ahead for gay marriage.  Within three years, we will peak out on states that permit it.  At least thirty states will maintain a "no" when the topic comes up.  The media will try shape the negativity of the thirty states, but I don't think that matters. As for the next issues?  I'll predict by 2017 that one western state address threesome marriages.  It might even reach a point by 2025 where a foursome marriage might be legal in one state.  One of the bigger issues will arise over the a 15-year old male who is courted by a 50-year old male, and they want marriage but the kid's parents won't sign the paperwork, which turns to a state judge who signs the paperwork and is then condemned for this type of situation.  A few months later, in New Hampshire, a 13-year old girl will be courted by a fifty-year old lesbian, and the same thing will occur.

Snowden.  Ecuador kind of admitted that they've gotten some bad nerves over accepting him.  The US has some imports from Ecuador, and they really can't afford to screw this up.  Venezuela?  They sell oil to the US.  Cuba?  They might accept him but it's not going to be a clear shot on internet use for him, and his life will be fairly miserable for the remaining years.  That leaves Iceland and Russia.  If you ask me....he really didn't think this out too far.

My headquarters sent out a note and it was re-emphasized today....if you travel outside of the continental US (even Guam, PR, Alaska or Hawaii)....you need to visit the security office ahead of time and get a security briefing.  Then when you return, you debrief.  So you can imagine this.....a guy signs up for a bear hunt in Alaska, and he flies out of Dulles.  He hunts for two weeks in Alaska, and upon return....has to visit the security office to note what occurred.  Hopefully, you don't bump into any native Indians, Canadians, or Mexicans.  The sad state of all this hyped-up security stuff for people in the military....ought to include the events of the day.....when I bump into some illegal El Salvadorian guy mowing my yard in Virginia, or the Bombay couple that I sat and discussed DC tour site planning.

Finally, the CNN staff team in DC.....has downsized.  Quietly, without saying much....it was simple and direct.  Older and more costly CNN folks were let go.  Newer and younger folks brought in.  You can figure that a number of folks are calling up Fox News and asking for job.  Who knows....maybe Fox will hire them.

Pictures Tell Stories

Picture compliments of National Journal.

As the President came to deliver his big four-star speech at Georgetown University in DC....to emphasize his changes coming to the global warming fight...the crowd came in to hear the speech.  It was mostly students from the local campus.  Georgetown is one of those areas where it's hard to dump off folks or find parking.

For those who aren't into Georgetown and it's university....it's a private deal.  You don't go there, unless you can afford $42,000 a year for tuition (alone).  Books are extra. Campus living is around $1,000 a month.  And you can figure the kid will require around $20,000 a year in entertainment, coffee, clothing, and expenses.  For ninety-five percent of the kids in America.....it's beyond them and their parents, unless they get a scholarship.

So as the crowd dispersed and were heavily enthusiastic over the speech.....they left their trash there on the pavement in front of the stand where the President spoke.  Luckily, in DC.....we have people hired to clean up after speeches like this.  It comes out of a city budget, or university budget, or some parks & recreation budget.

The thought here....is if they get so peppy about the environment, and keeping the world clean....why can't they clean up their own mess?  And the answer?  They'd like to put this on the bill and spread it around so everyone pays for what they do.  And in this sorry state of logic....conceived by the young brilliant minds of our nation.....global warming makes perfect sense.....we need to spread the mess around to include it on everyone's bill, and just grin as we continue on with our little world.

Yes, it all makes perfect sense.

Old World versus New World

We likely will get an entire day of blasted words and commentary over the voting rights episode rendered by the Supreme Court yesterday.

The curious thing?  For roughly fifty years, we've acted like we are still in 1965.

If this were true....then we'd still be producing cars with no seat-belts (they didn't become required until 1966).

If this were true....we'd still be paying 20-cents for a glass of Coke at the restaurant.

If this were true....we'd still be watching I Love Lucy, the Andy Griffith Show, Gomer Pyle, Gunsmoke, and Family Affair.

If this were true....we'd still be paying $8 for a visit to the local doctor.

If this were true....we'd have only four choices of burgers at McDonalds.

If this were true....we'd still be paying $26,600 for your average house in America.

If this were true....we'd still be be paying five cents for a stamp.

If this were true....unemployment would be 3.8 percent.

If this were true....we'd generally be making $7,700 a year for salary, and be awful happy with that.

If this were true...we'd be locked in the potential war with the Soviet Union.

If this were true....we'd still be manufacturing TVs, washing machines, and baseball gloves here in America.

If this were true....baseball players would be pure and clean from steroids.

If this were true....most cars in America would be sold without air conditioning.

If this were true....we'd be awful happy with a car that only got sixteen miles per gallon.

Yeah, something changed over fifty years.  To be honest....a number of things changed.  Yet, we accepted change and just moved on.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

The Voting Act Story

What the Supreme Court did today....over the 1965 Voting Rights Act....takes a bit of reading and understanding.  You can toss about half of the stuff that journalists said during the day....off to the side.  CNN around noon....had one top-notch expert, but the other dozen folks I saw at different times during the day....didn't really want to lay out facts.

So this is it.  We had a problem with voting in America in the early 1960s.  It'd been going on for decades.  So this act was created to fix the problem.

We have this one general rule about voting in America.....the states arrange their own voting mechanism.  The federal government can dictate the age of voters, and who can vote, and there's some rules about the candidates for President and Vice-President.  Other than that....it's a state-run mechanism.

The Voting Rights Law basically said that nine states, and a number of counties in other states.....were shameful and needed the federal government to supervise their entire apparatus.  This group of states?  Alabama (except for Pinson, don't ask), Alaska, Arizona, Georgia (except for Sandy Springs), Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, except for Jefferson County Drainage District Number Seven and NW Austin Municipal Utility District Number One, Virginia (except for 24 different counties), and then we fall to fall states where several individual counties were mentioned.

Every time that you wanted to change the voting districts....in these affected areas....you had to ask permission.  Every time that you wanted to make people do something slightly different....like voter-ID....you had to deal with the federal government.

Throughout the 1960s, 1970s and probably the 1980s....this probably made sense.

Were we ever to come to a conclusion?  No.  It would be brought up to Congress and the Senate, but neither were able to grab onto the topic and determine that we could discuss an end-point.

So the Senate said today.....there is a necessity for the mechanism....but this method that was used in picking the places to apply it?   It doesn't work and Congress needs to revisit this.

Of course, this quickly got the Attorney General up and peppy.....you just can't start changing the rules now and forget about the federal government.  Needless to say.....that's exactly what the Supreme Court ruled.  Unless the House and Senate can agree on this.....to have a new method of determining who needs to be watched and monitored.....it's a done deal.

The odds of the House and Senate working on this in 2013?  Zero.  There will be talk, but when you come to pick individual states and accuse them....it's bound to hurt the Democratic nature in those states suggested.  And the possiblity of new states.....like counties in all fifty states being picked?  Well....to make everyone happy....we might slide over to pick one or two counties in every single state.  Fixing the problem?  No....but it's the only way that you'd make fifty states happy.

What is going to happen for the remainder of 2013?  Voter-ID is likely to come up as a topic in all of the affected states.  If the state doesn't want to discuss the topic....counties will move on their own.

The Attorney General bringing cases up to stop voter ID?  Very likely.  But expect the Supreme Court to stop it.  This all leads to twenty-odd states by 2016.....having voter-ID.  An influence on the 2016 election?  Yes.....with no doubt.

So, don't get confused with the CNN experts.  Ask questions.  Read up on what the act was originally, and where we are today.  And remember.....racism in the south.....might be less of a problem....than in some New England areas, or Illinois.

Found Out Via the Media

“I want to say right away that we have nothing to do with Snowden, or with his attitude to the American legal system, or with his movements around the world. He chose his own route, and we found out about it – like most people here – from the media.”

-- Comments by Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov yesterday


You have to appreciate the humor from Lavrov....they've taken President Obama's standard comment "...found out via the media" and used it for their own purposes.

The Russians know precisely what they've got.  They can allow Snowden to settle into the Moscow airport and spend weeks there.  I'm guessing that Putin is trying hard to recruit Snowden into staying and enjoying the freedom to roam and speak as he wishes in Russia.

The US State Department?  They are standing there and realizing that it's all a public relations disaster in the making.  They can't twist any statement now.....the international press covers this mess and it all makes the administration look like idiots.

Monday, 24 June 2013

The Critter Story

When you step off your porch....you generally have this expectation of things around you.  There's a 'norm' that exists.

For the most, you don't think about oddball things that you might run into....when traveling around your property.

So this past week....Thursday evening....there's this guy in Indiana.....near Charlestown, who encountered one of those oddball things.....a leopard.

From what news reports indicate....the guy noted the leopard, aimed and fired....killing it.  They didn't lay out the weapon used, the number of shots (we assume one), or the distance.

A leopard?  All that the conservation guys will say from the state is that they suspect it's a pet that someone kept, and it got loose.  Normally, you'd have a permit in Indiana for this kind of animal.  Course, critters of this sort....could walk from a nearby state.....like Kentucky or Ohio.

A guy from Bama would ponder upon this kind of situation.  Generally, we are accepting of the possibility of running into snakes, a wild dog, and maybe a bear (on the extreme side of expectations).  So we generally are prepared when we run around our property.  I'm guessing a number of guys will read this story and spend some time to analyze on the type gun required for a situation like this.  And if they don't have one....they might visit their local gun shop this week to shop for that gun.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Our Future Heroes

We are around forty years (a generation) away from the point where actual robot drones will be on the combat field with our GI's.  You can imagine a squad of ten Army guys, and four robot drones (Hulk-602, Matty-2, Peanut-606, and Wolf-9).  Each drone will have a slightly different ability, with Matty-2 the one who carries the water and food supply, and Wolf-9 as the lead one on the patrol looking for trouble. Peanut-606 will haul up a 20-caliber gun with ten thousand rounds of ammo, and maneuvers on a track or four wheels.  And Hulk-602?  He's your all-purpose guy to walk into a house alone, and take apart threats as they are.

We will hire engineers and repair technicians who are on the combat field.....to help repair our "guys", and keep them operational.

At some point, we will become attached to Matty, Wolf, Peanut, and Hulk.  They will be team-mates of ours.

Eventually, when they go down....we will be bothered by this, and when the repair technician says there's nothing else we can do.....we will likely suffer PTSD over our robot drone's demise.

No one will suggest that today.  We might be attached to a 1968 Mustang, or a 1944 Ford pick-up.....but few of us can see this drone attachment coming up in the future.

Valiant stories will be written of Hulk, Wolf, and Matty as they pass on.  Somewhere out there....statues will be erected.  Movies will be made.  Stamps will be published with the picture of Peanut saving a squad of soldiers.

It'll be a bold new era.


Snowden on the Run

Based on reports this morning....the NSA leak guy....Snowden.....is on a Aeroflot plane....bound for Moscow.  And there's this hint that a second leg of the trip is planned with him flying onto Havana, Cuba.

Most folks are of the mind that Havana can't possibly be the final destination....because WikiLeaks has said that arrangement to bring him safely into a democratic country.  The journalism guys comment that since Cuba is Communist....that can't be the final destination.

If you sit and ponder upon this.....there's this odd event which could occur.  Snowden could arrive and set up shop in Cuba.  It'd doubtful that Castro or any member of the government would discuss releasing him to the US.

Then, a curious thing might happen.  If Cuba ran up the AM radio antenna....they could bring him live on the air.....two to three hours a day....and pipe up fresh propaganda to Florida and at least three or four other southern states.  Snowden would be a daily guest and talk about the terrible woes of capitalism.

Me personally?  I'm still betting on Iceland being the final choice.  Out of Saint Petersburg, Russia.....there's a daily Icelandic Air flight to Iceland.  Snowden would merely get off the plane in Moscow....meet up with a taxi and some guy named Sergi....and run up to Saint Petersburg to catch the flight.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

TV Character

Summer of last year....as I traveled from the US to Germany via Iceland Air....I had a chance to watch "The Night Shift". It's an Icelandic TV series....which they made only a dozen episodes.

The key character in the comedy....is this gas station manager....George Bjarnfrearson.

It's best to describe George as a full-copy of Lenin, the Communist.  He's a complete slacker.....no ambition beyond being manager and moving up the Communist ladder of power.

He holds degree after degree, but probably has only an ounce or two of common sense.  After watching an episode....you'd consider George to be mostly child-like in nature and having almost no maturity worth mentioning.

Communist propaganda is uttered about every two minutes in the show.....with you eventually convinced that Marx, Stalin and Lenin were all losers on a mission.

George runs this rag-tag band of two merry-men.  Both are losers, so this team goes nowhere.

Had the series been made in the US....it would have lasted six to eight years, and maybe one-hundred-and-fifty episodes.  In Iceland, you are considered a complete success in life....with twelve episodes of a show.

If you should get a chance to watch the show....which only comes in English sub-titles.....watch it.

The MPS Guy at the Door

This is a story which takes a minute or two to explain.

Out in Australia....the government picked up on this idea back in the 1960s....to collect question and answer data from the public and build a database around it.

The original intention?  I suspect that the political folks wanted to have some value assigned to the public.  How many people live in substandard housing?  How many people have limited education?  How many people live in rural communities versus urban areas?

So this Monthly Population Survey (MPS) caught on.

Typically....like all things....you eventually realize that something good....has turned into something bad.

In recent months, the questions have gotten down to curious things....like sexual partners and habits.  Aussies....even though they are a bit open on life....don't really care to provide such data to some Census-guy who just appeared at the front door.

There's a curious thing about the survey....you can't really avoid it or just deny it.  They can actually take you into a prosecution situation.  According to the law, once you get into a survey situation....you have to participate once a month for eight months....then they kind of leave you alone.  Other than packing up and moving....that's the only way to avoid this idiot survey guy.

Aussies are now figuring out that personal lifestyle things are an item of government curiosity.  The government would like to know how you do it, and your general feelings on other folks who do it.

I tend to ponder on events like this....if such a survey guy were to ever show up in Bama, and question folks on personal affairs like this.

Most Bama folks would take the opposite view of the Aussies.  We'd likely sit at the porch, and weave up this fantastic tale of trailer-court women, scented candles from Wal-Mart, feelings for the Piggly Wiggly assistant manager, fantasy ideas over garden rendezvous episodes, flea-market enchanted moments, and wicked thoughts that the minister would need to address in the Sunday church meeting.

We'd make up stories about people who drove all the way to Opp to meet some gal from the internet....only to find out that it was a guy....not a gal.  Or we'd tell some ten-minute story over our neighbor who went duck-hunting with a six-foot tall Amazon gal from Dallas who was a amateur wrestler (you can guess how this story ends).

This survey guy would eventually realize that we just wasted his whole afternoon....making up story after story.  And my recommendation for Aussies?  Tell the biggest most unusual stories possible, and don't worry about being truthful.  

The Paula Moment

I sat through Friday evening....flipping through eight different news channels....even the local news, and the chief topic?  This Paula Deen gal fired by the Food Network....apparently for using the N-word, then offering up some kind of apology for racism.

To be honest, if Paula was to stand in front of me at the grocery store....I wouldn't recognize her.  I've seen one episode of some show with her, and there's not much worth saying.

Why all the news discussion?  I can't say.  It's mostly a one-star story....if you ask me.

How many idiots on the streets of DC utter the N-word on a daily basis?  Probably 3,000.  In St. Louis? Maybe three to four thousand.  Any of them getting fired? No.  Does anyone care?  No.

What happens now?  Paula will sit around for three months contemplating what happened, and then write some book.  It'll get published and everyone will run to Paula for interviews.

We are becoming a society of gimmick-stars.  You do something stupid, you end up on TV.  You do something unusual, you get onto the 10PM news.  A reformed Muslim guy could turn into a rodeo-clown overnight, and probably get six minutes of airtime on The Today Show....with Matt asking what it feels like to jihad your way with a bull.

That's how screwed up things have become.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Iceland Reaction to Snowden Episode

Today, an Icelandic businessman....who does a bit of business in China....is prepared to have one of his aircraft carry the former NSA guy to Iceland.  The course?  Well....it'd leave from China, and cross over the North Pole and land in Iceland.  The possibility that the US might try to force the plane to land in Alaska?  It hasn't been mentioned yet, but it might going through the planning stages.

The talks with the Icelandic government?  Ongoing....is all that will be said currently.

What should Snowden expect?  Hong Kong is fairly modern and with a lot of convenience.  Iceland.....perhaps a step over the modern line, and more limited on convenience than you'd like to admit.   Nothing is cheap in Iceland, and jobs are mostly on the scarce side.

What would Snowden do for employment?  This would be a curious thing.  Maybe a tour guide, or some IT expert.  I'm guessing that he will attract a lot of NSA interest and every single network leaving Iceland....will be monitored.

Off-time?  Well....you'd go down to the pub, have a beer with the same crowd who was there yesterday. Iceland is a fairly small country.....with only 322,000 folks.

Traveling?  Well....that won't be part of the scheme....because every other country in Europe will be prepared to receive you, and flip you to the US government.  So you will be staying in Iceland for the rest of your life.  If you had traveled around to the country and knew what the heck you were getting yourself into....it'd make sense.  In this case?  No....there's no sense to it.

I'm thinking....after twelve months there....it's going to be hard on an American guy to just accept this small island as your retreat.  And there's virtually nowhere else you can move to.

Snowden to Iceland?

Two weeks ago.....there was a brief discussion publicly by this Snowden character from NSA.....who wanted to maneuver himself from Hong Kong to Iceland.

Well.....we've kinda found out now that WikiLeaks has been engaged on this and trying to arrange this deal where Iceland accepts him and will not hand him over to the US.

Some insight that you ought to know here.  Iceland used to have a US military presence....from WW II to the middle of the Bush-era.  At some point, with hostility brewing on the isle from the locals over the Iraq war....the US decided that they didn't have to be in Iceland.....and pulled out ninety percent of their personnel.  Other than a small naval presence....there's nothing much there.

After we left Iceland, there was a bit of a long period where the money spent by the Americans was noticed.  It wasn't a terrible thing, but they did get to notice how it influenced the activities around the island.

Then in 2008....with the economic crisis in full-swing.....the banks in Iceland failed miserably.  The current recovery phase....would best described as ongoing and could take several decades before everyone can breathe a sigh of relief.

Tourism is now key to the survival of the island, and they are making every effort to attract people for a couple of days to a couple of weeks.

Would Iceland decline Snowden?  At this point, there's nothing much to lose.....but there's nothing to gain either.  You end up with mythical character around the island that everyone knows on sight.

The curious thing?  From my favorite Icelandic show...the Night Shift....there's this one character named "Daniel" (guy on left of picture).  Daniel is this American guy who was hired by the hotel to be a cook....after he failed medical school miserably.  Snowden looks a lot like Daniel.

To be truthful, the TV-show Daniel-character hasn't been much of a success at anything, has various issues, can't handle stress of any type, probably is a four-star pothead, and is easily lead around by others.  Curiously, this sounds like Snowden in real life.

I suspect in a way that most Icelandic people see Snowden as Daniel, and think they are getting a real-life Daniel.

As for how they get Snowden to Iceland from Hong Kong?  Well....this gets to being interesting.  Flying there would almost be impossible.  You'd have to land somewhere and the US would have papers to arrest the guy.

By boat?  A Chinese freighter could pick Snowden up and likely get him to some western Africa nation....where someone with a sailboat could move him the rest of the way.  It'd take a couple of weeks to move him like this.

The US intention to intercept Snowden?  It's a fair possibility.  On the high seas.....he'd be a target.

Could the NSA guys intercept the coded messages and figure out the scheme?  I'm guessing the boys are working overtime to figure out the travel plans.  I'd also take a guess that some US naval presence is being prepared somewhere between China and the African west coast.  This might be interesting to watch.

That Berlin Speech

After you watch the video of President Obama's Berlin speech five or six times.....you come away shaking your head.

First, whoever came up with this idea of the fancy protective Plexiglas (8 inches thick)....never tested it in situations of extreme heat and having it right up against the guy giving the speech.  I'm guessing it's a fantastic heat magnetic, and if you put it out twenty-four hours ahead of time....giving it plenty of time to soak in the heat....it likely radiates heat over to the speech guy.

Temperature around that podium?  It was 92 degrees down around the crowd that day, but on the podium?  Maybe 95-to-96 degrees.  The President was likely begging for a sip of ice water by the conclusion of this speech.

To be used again?  They will finish this trip over to Africa with the Plexiglas unit but I seriously doubt that the President will ever agree to allow them to use that again in the summer time.

Second, for such a major venue......this was a lousy speech.  I would have appointed one person the job six months ago and expected a pretty dynamic speech.  For the German elections in the fall.....a great speech would have fed off to the liberal SPD party, and helped their candidate.  In this case.....the Obama speech was flat, and likely to be forgotten within six months.  No one will say much about it in ten to twenty years.

Finally, you could tell....after the G8 conference....the President is tired.  He's run into various issues and likely needs a week off to recharge and get back into positive shape.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Tony

I will admit, I was a Sopranos obsessed fan, and watched every single episode.  Yeah, Tony was my favorite character.....Silvio Dante (Steve Van Zant) was my second most favorite character.

So it is a fair loss to me, as they announced yesterday that James Gandolfini had passed on.  Out of the 86 episodes....he probably killed at least forty people, and to be truthful....the majority needed killing.

Before the Sopranos....the networks were producing crappy TV and we simply accepted it.  Once or twice a year, you'd catch one episode of something that was fairly great, and shake your head that they couldn't produce something like that weekly.  After the Sopranos came....you realized that every single episode had a five-star script, that the actors were capable of delivering some honest and brutal characters, and there were some events in life that were uncontrollable.

There were two dynamic episodes where characters were introduced for one brief episode, and I sat in disbelief of how the story could be told in a fashion that you weren't expecting.  The "Russian-in-the-woods" episode had us meeting us with this Russian mafia guy....who probably was a Russian special forces guy, and they just couldn't kill him.  The other episode was where a relative of the family had to be whacked, but no member could perform the action.....so they called these guys in Rhode Island.....who all had some inbred blindness problem and all of them were idiots.  For ten minutes, I sat in amazment at the characters and wondered you could dig up this kind of material.

As for Tony?  He was forever the bad guy that you wanted to see occasionally cross the line and do something good.  You wished that he could clean up his act.....but he couldn't.

So I'll miss Tony.  A one of a kind.

The Commander's Letter Business

As some of you know....I've spent almost thirty-five years associated with the US military, in one fashion or another.  This week....an unusual thing occurred.

In the military world we have Commander's policy letters.  It's pretty much where the Commander has to say something....of a strict nature....and let his folks know that he just won't tolerate something.

Over the years...I've seen this about every kind of Commander's policy letter.

We had a letter from one Commander that lowered the boom on drinking excessively in the barracks.

We had the letter from one Commander that noted fire extinguishers were to only be used for fires, and not parties.

We had the letter from one Commander that announced that gasoline was not be used as a charcoal starter for bar-b-q's.

We had the letter from one Commander that noted that people of the opposite sex were not supposed to stay overnight in your barracks room.

We had the one letter which noted that you couldn't paint your barracks room any color but tan or off-white.

We had the one letter that noted you couldn't travel more than six hours away from the organization on weekends, unless you took leave or got a 3-day pass.

We had the one letter that announced that you couldn't conduct tattoo operations or body piercing in the barracks, period.

Well....last week, we had this event in our organization within the Pentagon.  You see....we have Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force personnel within the organization....who are all pretty determined to stay in shape.

So the boys and girls often show up early at the Pentagon and jog.  At the end of this morning effort....you get sweaty and need to shower.

You have two options.  We have a five-star gym in the Pentagon, with lots of shower facilities within it.  On the flip side....down in my vault area....we have a male and female bathroom situation, with one shower in each.  Lots of guys prefer to run back to the vault, and shower there.  Naturally, lines form.

Last week.....some guy decided because there wasn't any ladies there early in the morning....he'd use the women's restroom and shower.  Well....some gal showed up, and it kinda created a situation.

This week....the Commander decided he needed to clear the air.....so he wrote the Commander's policy letter on shower use.  I have to admit....it's probably one of a kind.  I don't remember any situation ever in my history....where we needed a shower policy.  It basically says.....if you are a guy....you use the men's shower.  If you are a gal....you use only the women's shower.  Period.

It's going to be hard to beat that letter, I'll admit that.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

It's a Strange World

There's two stories out there that I noted from yesterday.....that came off a bit unusual.  There's not much research I can do....both had limited writings on them.

First, out in Riverton, Wyoming....a town of ten thousand residents....cops got called.  They had to sort through this as they arrived.

The best we can say is that several folks lived in this one home.  Cops didn't say they were relatives, which normally, you'd indicate something like that.  The adults in this house had determined that a spirit was in the house, and occuping one of the ladies of the house.  They'd held an exocism....without a priest.....and at the key moment....like you'd see on TV....they doused the lady with Holy Water (at least they say it was Holy Water).

All this activity had gotten the woman (31 years old) pretty hyper, and she launched into some heart attack, or at least they think it was that.  Might have been a panic attack, but the paramedics didn't care....they just toted the lady off to the hospital.

You can imagine the scene after the ambulance leaves.  The cops now ask a ton of questions, and the occupants of the house explain this whole exorcism episode.  The occupants want the cops to investigate.  For some reason, the cops declined the opportunity to search for demons.

The only public statement by the cops?  They can't see any criminal activity and no one else was injured from this episode.

The odds of a drug episode?  Well...I might suspect that.  I would question where the heck that you'd get Holy Water in Wyoming, but it's likely to be some tap water.  The gal in the hospital?  She's probably got some mental or emotional issues to start with.

The second story?  Some city council guy from the UK....small town....has come to admit that he is an alien, and that he has various relations (of a passionate nature) with a alien lady......while he is married to a regular British gal.  The alien gal?  He refers to as the "Cat Queen" and indicates that they've had a child between them.

Things between this older gentleman (he's 58) are pretty regular.  He said that the "Cat Queen" entertains him four times a year on average.

There's some indication that his British wife is a bit hostile over these other relations, and I'm guessing that since he went public with the alien status....she's probably talking to a lawyer.

This kind of episode would beg some questions.  Is there anything unusual with the way that things occur between him and the "Cat Queen"?   How'd the "Cat Queen" get her name?  Are towns people ok with this new status of their city council guy?

In Bama, we would evaluate a neighbor like this, and be curious over the looks or behavior of the "Cat Queen".  Course, she is in the illegal status and ought to be applying for an alien card.  Usually, ladies like this live in trailer parks, and dress in a provocative way.  And there's cash somewhere in the situation.

Twelve Things about the NSA and Snowden Affair

There are around a dozen things that you ought to know about this entire mess.

1.  Snowden is a narcissist in search of being both judge and jury.  In this land, he has no such right.

2.  If the IRS episode hadn't occurred, we'd all be acceptable of this business.  Right now, there's zero trust of the government and the collection of data. It's funny how timing is everything.

3.  If you utter the word "jihad" in any phone conversation or voice mail....it's picked up and analyzed by some analyst sitting in Omaha or Colorado Springs.  He might spend forty-five minutes trying to determine you were joking or serious.  And sadly, you might end up on some watch list.....for joking with the word "jihad".

4.  A bunch of crazy guys who wear tin-foil hats and say the government is monitoring everything....have finally been proven right.

5.  Yeah, someone actually connected to the government knows about the $70 French-made underwear that you bought six weeks ago.

6.  If Snowden had been born in 1958....today...he'd be a tire salesman in Rockville, Maryland.  Internet changed his entire life and career.  For a guy who never finished high school or community college, it's an odd path.  He might have done a fair job as a Goodyear tire salesman.

7.  Mr Snowden will awaken one day to grasp that he was used for months and years by some Chinese military analyst.  And this crusade of his?  All scripted by the Chinese....like some wrestling match.  He got introduced to the people.....came into the right chat forums....and just kept progressing, like the original plan called for.

8.  Some Chinese military analyst ought to win the Nobel Prize for something.  He actually found some brilliant naive dimwit, with no real substantial education, and walked him to a point of being a loser.

9.  At least a dozen Senators actively knew about the bulk of the NSA program....just keeping their mouth shut and smiling at everyone.  And now?  Well....it's hard to explain that it's all OK in the end...especially to voters asking stupid questions.

10.  Who approved the hundreds of millions for this data center in Utah?  Might be interesting to see which Congressman stands to admit they knew it's purpose.  I doubt that you can find a single one.

11.  Would Snowden ever stand up to fight Muslim fanatics?  I'd have my doubts.  Would Snowden stand up to any enemy of the US?  Well....you can't be sure.  He'd like to defend the liberty of information and personal rights.....but would he go out in the midst of the dark and do harm to evil men if necessary?

12.  Finally, did Snowden ever notice any other country spying on the US networks, banking, or American emails?  I doubt that he'd ever admit that....because it'd really twist his whole argument around.

And I should add a number thirteen....which we have yet to hear about.  We know that Mr Snowden removed all his data from the building with the help of a thumb-drive that he brought in....so what was on the thumb-drive when he originally brought it in the building?  Is it possible that he loaded up a special virus program to delete all our special data.....*.*-type thing?  Maybe he actually did more than the idiots imagined, and left a big mess for them to clean up later?

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

The Lone Signal Crowd

So this is the deal.  There is this organization which bought up some of the satellite relay stations, and they've organized this foundation of sorts....to take messages from you (which you will pay in some way), and beam them out into space at one particular zone which some folks think there might be intelligence life.

You pay $8 (they haven't announced the true fee cost so I'll assume the eight bucks)....compose a 16-line message for Zulk, the alien dude who has a receiver unit.  Zulk reads your text message which has to do with Clint Eastwood, Motel Six, grilled cheese sandwiches, and NCAA football bowl choices.

Tomorrow, you pay another $8....compose another 16-line message...dealing mostly with your girlfirend who dumped you, a new TV reality series on Discovery, the difference between Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi, and best description of Coors Light Beer.

Over the next twenty years....at least eight times a month, you compose this message....pay Lone Signal (the name of the foundation), and feel good about your personalized messages to Zulk.

A dumping ground for idiots with loose cash?  Yeah, probably.

The question is....if there is a Zulk out there....and reading this stuff, what the heck does he think about this?  A pathetic society?  A bunch of losers stuck on NCAA bowl choices?  A group of nuts who cry over who loses with Dancing with the Stars?

Surely as a society, we could do better....but for a couple of bucks, this all makes perfect sense.

Just Confess

Yesterday, my military headquarters sent out this nifty email concerning security and sequestration.  As you know....we are only two weeks away from this 11-week period starting, and we go to twenty-percent less pay.

The security guys wanted us all to know that if the less pay situation creates financial turmoil for any of us with security clearances.....then they could possibly terminate our employment.  Naturally, they wanted any of us in this position....to quickly run up and confess this to them.

I sat there mostly laughing.

Had they suggested or commented on this to Congress back six or twelve or eighteen months ago?  No. I doubt if Congress would want to create a potential tidal wave with government job terminations over this furlough business and financial problems.

The folks who will feel the pain of this episode....are mostly those who make $60,000 or less.  They are divorced parents with kids, extreme mortgage episodes, and monthly bills to pay.  They really couldn't afford to go through three months of twenty percent less pay.  Congress didn't really grasp that.  These security guys could care less.

The confession part of this?  Basically, you are providing all the information that they will need to let you go later.  You'd have to be an idiot to run over and announce you will have financial issues because of furlough.

How many government workers will be terminated because of security loss?  It's hard to guess.  It ought to be zero.  I suspect that down the line.....from the FBI to the State Department....you might end up with fifty employees in this case.

I have less than nine work days left with this government agency.  This is probably the cherry on the cake.  They've got problems, and it's best not to even think about it.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Simply Observations

A motorcycle rally was held in Rome over the weekend.  According to some....several hundred to several thousand Harley's were there, and stopped for a brief time in Vatican Square....where the Pope came out...and offically wave his Godly-hand, and gave a blessing over Harley in general.  For roughly one-hundred-and-ten years.....Harley has been waiting for the Pope's blessing, and maybe this is finally enough to make it mechanically sound and dump the 22-pound tool kit that you had to drag along with the bike.

The immigration reform bill will likely pass through the Senate this week....maybe with more than sixty-five votes.  What it does in the House?  Half of the aspects of the bill might survive there.

Our guy Snowden, sitting in Hong Kong, let loose on the British.  He detailed out the Brits spying on various European allies for a big 2009 meeting.  The odds of him knowing the details of this?  Zero.  He had to have someone inside of NSA explain and tell him the story.....or break through a ton of firewall to get the pieces.

Finally, you might notice this appointment....the President picked some DC lawyer to be the shut-down Czar of Gitmo.  The guy is to be paid a salary, and mostly just sit around to chat up closure with whoever wants to hear it.  The likely plan?  I'm betting on a Presidential order to occur in the last 100 days of the Obama eight years.  It'll direct Gitmo to shut down in the spring of 2016.  But without Congressional funding....it'll be impossible to occur.  But the threat is onto the new incoming president of 2016.....to stop the order.  You can guess the mess coming out of this.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Some Predictions

From time to time, I'll stand up and make a couple of predictions against events....after a bit of pondering.

First, I'll predict that the Zimmerman trial in Florida....lasts about seven weeks.  At least one of the juriors will be dismissed when they start to show a tendency that they already decided the case before being picked.  As for the conclusion?  Zimmerman is declared an innocent man.  Then you have to wait for a civil case from the parents to develop.

Second, we will have a major deployment of US forces into the eastern Med, and put up some no-fly zone over Syria.  The Russians are going to come and shock the White House with various actions, and it will put the US into some oddball positions.  In six months, we will come to agree that the advisers that the President has....are of a two-star quality, and question how they ever got hired.

Third, within six months....another NSA guy comes up and runs off to some third-world country....after he is noted hacking deep into their security firewall.  A couple of Senators now determine that they'd best investigate the NSA themselves.

Fourth, by spring of 2014, it's obvious that most of the health care act just won't work as advertised.  There's repairs that need to be made.  The question will be if there's enough interest by both Republicans and Democrats to do this.  After weeks of debate....nothing happens.  The law?  It just sits there....neither functional or capable.  Millions of Americans are furious but can't decide who to blame.

Fifth and final, CNN later in 2013, in a moment of desperation.....starts to do Bigfoot, Loch Ness, and UFO stories one night a week.  Ratings actually jump up twenty percent, and they make it a regular weekly event on Friday nights.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

That Bus Ride

It would have made for a great episode of Seinfeld.

To lay this out....from New Jersey....there's this Transit bus....Number 113.  It's an express bus which is supposed to make this 23 mile run, and end up in New York City down by the Port Authority Bus Terminal.  It stops a couple of times.

So it's making this run....which is to take forty-five minutes.  

On Thursday, the run took almost three hours.  The best that anyone can say is that the driver got disorientated, and just started making wrong turns...then correcting herself....making more wrong turns....and correcting again.

Passengers at some point got upset, and vented.  You can imagine New Jersey residents and New York residents....all hyped up.  They've been this way a hundred times in their life, and know the route by heart.  The driver?  She really didn't want their help.

The New Jersey Transit folks?  Well....they just say they are investigating the episode, and aren't sure of nothing. 

You can imagine Jerry and George in one seat....discussing the better route to correct the situation.  You could have taken such-and-such street over to west 16th, but it'd take you six miles out of the way, but it's better timing because of traffic.  Back and forth, Jerry and George would have argued this.

Elaine?  She would have been hyping up....no toilets on board.  She's pushing her limit.  Aggravated....she would have dumped onto the lady driver, and got a Jersey insult or two.  At some point, she would have contemplated jumping off the bus.  

Kramer?  He would have started a game show with other passengers on-board, convincing them this was all a fake trip and they had a chance to win $10,000 if they could just keep getting the right answer.   

The Carrier Concept

This week...it got out that the President's big trip to Africa....is going to cost in the range of sixty to one hundred million dollars.

The cause?  Well, there's the 56 vehicles which have to be transported over which support his entourage and support team.  Fourteen limousines are part of this group, along with three big trucks which carry around bullet-proof glass for the hotel.  There's also the hundred of Secret Service agents, the communications teams, and even a complete medical staff who can do just about anything required.

There's also talk that a carrier will be deployed and support the White House off the coast (South Africa, Senegal, and Tanzania).

After you look at this mess for a while, and the amount of cost....the question arises...why don't we just hire out the US Navy and one permanent aircraft carrier to take the President and his entourage everywhere they need to go.

You park the 56 vehicles onboard the carrier.  You park 200 AirStream RV's on-board...for the Secret Service guys to sleep and carouse.  You take the carrier from the Potomac....run it across the Atlantic and maneuver up in some bay.  You run the President back and forth off choppers.

The US Navy would keep it permanently anchored by Washington DC....always ready to steam off to the ends of the Earth....to cheaply get the President and his entourage where they need to go.

The President could get up at 3AM....run around the deck of the carrier....run down by the chow hall and ask for grilled cheese sandwiches, and jello.....getting it in just three minutes.  If the President's wife wanted videos to watch....the recreation guys would have thousands to loan out.  If the Secret Service guys needed a haircut....there's a Navy barber on-board.  Yes, we could do this and save the nation billions.

Details to be Explained

There are three things that you need to sit down and ponder through....to make some sense out of....because of the complicated nature.

First, the Nicaraguan government announced this nifty treaty with China.  The deal is China comes in...builds a new canal for mega-ships.....and gets a fifty-year lease on the thing.

Most engineers say it's not a big deal....the Panama guys are working on some extended locks and it's very capable of handling the world's traffic.

Well...here's the thing.  There are three simple categories of freighter in the world.  You've got the river-boat type.  Then you have the Panama Canal-sized freighters.  And then you have the mega-freighters.  The mega freighters go from the US east coast to Europe, and from China, Asia and Australia to the US west coast.  You save tons of money by using the mega freighters.

If you could find one decent canal, with no limits, then everybody in Asia and Europe would suddenly dump the Panama Canal-sized freighters, and overnight....the Chinese would own the manufacturing side of this, and the canal itself.  They can charge whatever they desire, and it's all profit.

It may take ten years to bring this into operation.....but this new canal would change industry in the world for the next fifty years.  China knows that.  And the US?  Just shaking their head....there's nothing they can do about it.

Second episode....this NSA hacker guy.  As each day passes, more and more people sit and pause over this guy, and there's just no way that he had access....legally....to all this information that he's put out.  So the belief is....someone set this guy into motion.

The hacker was probably active on several forums and chat areas.  Some Chinese guys looked at the naive guy, and eventually figured a second and third curve to drag the guy out into the open.  They lined him up with gamers, and some privacy act groups....probably from Canada and Europe....who have no connection to the Chinese.  Along the way....a third party stumbles into this guy, and gets him talked into getting peppy over privacy violations by NSA.  He is eventually convinced....at the right time....to pack up.  His buddy?  After hours of discussion, the buddy convinced him that Hong Kong was the free land that everyone dreamed of.

In a month or two....this hacker guy will wake up and begin to realize that he was used.  It'll be a depressing moment.  He screwed up.  He was taken in by people that he trusted.  And six to twelve months down the line....he'll likely commit suicide because of the stupid mistakes he committed.

Third episode.....finally, this Syria game that we will start to play out militarily.  The Russians are sitting there and gaming this entire event.  They likely have the air defense, missiles, and new technology to roll out and quietly put them into Syria.

The US will quietly expect this, but feel technology-superior.

So on a quiet day in July, there's likely to be this interesting event.  The US might actually establish air superiority and completely shut down air traffic in Syria.  The US might have 24-hour operations to provide drone imagery to the good guys.  The US might come off very successful in handling the Russians.

Or, the Russians might actually shoot down a couple of US fighters, come close to sinking a frigate or two, and have some new technology to whoop-up on the drones.

You don't want to be sitting in the White House situation room....if the second scenario occurs.  It'll be impossible to explain why we pushed around by a second-rate military, and there's likely this call from Putin....asking the President if he understands how to back down.  Reagan would simply double-down the situation for the next day....but it's hard to gauge this mess.  

Friday, 14 June 2013

Your Weed Card

Across the river from me....is DC.  This week, the city came out with it's application form for the marijuana medical card. As the dispensery stores open up....if you did want to get some medical marijuana....then you have to start with this card.

So you show up at the DC clerk's office.  There's this form.

You need to have two passport-like photos, which definitely show you from the top of the forehead to the bottom of the chin.

The form lets you know....that DC isn't responsible for anything....not your addiction, your reaction, your costs, etc.

The initial card?  A hundred bucks.  Lose it?  Ninety bucks.

The card's lifespan?  Well....that's an interesting story.  They don't say the exact period, but I'm guessing twelve months.  The renewal?  A hundred bucks.

Along the way, the DC guys wrote in some fancy words, and created a second category.....reduced rates for the poverty-level smoker.  Seventy-five percent reduction, if you qualify.

You need to note a real mailing address.  Just having a mail-box at some delivery point.....won't work.

You have to note your doctor, who will be signing the prescription for you.  How many DC doctors will agree to prescribe it?  I'm guessing less than fifty percent.  There will probably be doctors who operate from bread-truck like operations and simply park in such-and-such neighborhood on Tuesdays, and over by such-and-such park on Fridays.

Nine pages of text, to get the weed card.  But here's the curious thing.  The last page of this form is dedicated to you proving you are a DC resident.  It's not simple.  You need a license, or a tax-payment note, or a deed to property, or a rental agreement for DC property, or a utility bill from a DC address.  A guy from Maryland or Virginia sneaking over?  Unless you rig up some fake paperwork, it just isn't going to work.

How many cards will be dispensed over the next year?  Journalists are careful not to estimate this.  You don't hear anyone discussing numbers.  For the weed dispensary stores to be profitable.....I'd take a humble guess that they need 5,000 monthly customers.  In five years?  It's hard to say....there might be forty thousand people in DC on some type of medical marijuana treatment.  Some folks think that Maryland will launch the same thing within three years.

The curious thing?  I'm betting on some company opening up on the street.....offering to help you fill out your weed form....for $50.  A form that was made for a seventh-grade drop-out, and it'll likely require some smart guy to fill in the information.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

The Montgomery Woes

It's hard for Montgomery, Alabama to ever make any list as number one.  This week, it finally happened.

The Kilplinger finance folks did a rating on the cities with the worst drop in home-prices over the last year.  Sadly, Montgomery made number one.

The change in home prices in one year?  Fourteen and a half percent.  You can buy a good decent four bedroom brick house....for $86,000.

Local unemployment?  It's just a notch under eight percent.

Currently the foreclosure rate is hovering around one in every 517 houses.

You can toss around a dozen reasons for the problem.  The local economy is lousy.  Jobs growth hasn't been occurring.  Local business operations are marginal at any growth.  People have clamped down on buying anything of substance.

When you make some national list like this....it just kinda makes the job of a real estate agent in Montgomery twice as hard as it was before.  Other than cheaper houses, there's not much to paint in a pretty picture.

That Story

There are several observations to make over this NSA leaker.

First, the Air Force came out yesterday and said that all personnel should refrain from using AF computers to browse news on the episode....because everything is still classified top secret, and they'd have to wipe your PC if it got "infected".  Yeah, I imagine there's 100,000 such "infected" computers out there today.

Second, the girlfriend of the NSA leaker finally came into public view.  She's a bit strange.  She graduated from the Maryland University system, with a degree in dance.  Her big occupation?  Pole-dancer.  For the last year or two in Hawaii?  She's apparently been working as a Hula-dancer at some resort complex.  I get the impression that she's looking for a sugar-daddy type situation, and the leaker served that purpose.

Third, so far, no one has come out to say they were friends of his.  Not in Japan.  Not in DC.  Not from the days in Switzerland.  Not even from his days in high school.

Fourth.  If you were the guy who recommended Snowden for any of these jobs at the CIA, NSA or Booz-Allen.....over the next month....the investigation guys are going to come and ask you dozens of stupid questions.  No one much is really buying up this story of how a high-school drop-out, community college drop-out, and Army drop-out....made it with the clearances and the job level.

Fifth.  The word narcissist is beginning to be used with Snowden on a hourly basis.

Sixth.  The security folks are going to look heavily at themselves now.  For a contractor to have been given all of these administrator rights, and not be continually reviewed by the IT security folks....there's something wrong.

Seventh and final.  Booz-Allen and the press has kinda hinted now that Snowden never made $200,000 a year.....unless you counted up all benefit packages.  His actual salary?  $120,000 a year.  This kind of invites people to view all of his statements completely, and that some might be a bit exaggerated than others.

Monday, 10 June 2013

A Day Here, and There

Some smart guys sat around in 2006, and looked at regulations, man-power, and what it took to accomplish a job.  They eventually devised this method of figuring out what'd it'd take to produce something, and came to this mythical and magical number of 365 days.  You wanted project "X" done....it'd take 365 days to accomplish.

So years have passed, and the smart guys have met again....using the same method, same end-result goal, and reached the new number of days to accomplish: 368.  Three days more, to produce same thing that you produced in 2006.

For decades and centuries, mankind has been on this roll.  We cut things in half.  We managed to move cargo faster.  We built factories to cut production time.  We hired smart folks to run computers better.  We hired analysts to find better products and faster development time.  And now?

I doubt that CEOs will worry about this, and still collect their $2 million dollar bonus for the year.  The CFO?  He'll collect his $1 million dollar bonus for the year.  Newspaper reporters will glance over this, but not see much to report.  Wall Street will view it and shake their head, but there's nothing they can do. Professors might discuss this for ten minutes in a class, but it's not much to tell.  Some engineers might gather at the breakroom and discuss this for twenty minutes with a dozen reasons readily identified, but none will be implemented.

We've added another step....another form....another audit....another inspection....another regulation....another hour....another day.

In the history of mankind, we've never done anything like this.

In three years?  Might we go and add another day or two?  In ten years?  Adding another entire week onto production?

There's something wrong, but it's best we not discuss it too much.

A Curious Resume

This resume of the NSA-leaker, Edward Snowdon.....is a curious thing.

This is a guy who never graduated from high school....picked up a GED, then went to a local community college, but never graduated from it.

He went into the Army for a year or two, but was discharged after some type of training accident.  He gets picked up then as a security guard for NSA up at Fort Meade, Maryland.

A year later, he leaves the security guard job, and becomes a CIA employee, for IT security.

It only takes a year for him to then get picked for a overseas program and work in Switzerland for two years.

He gets negative about that CIA government work, and comes back to the US.....to become a contractor for Dell and later on Booz-Allen.

Over the last year?  He was pulling $200,000 a year working in Hawaii for Booz-Allen.

This reads like some resume that you'd just make up.  Other than being certified or qualified in IT security, there's not much else to this guy.  All from a guy who eight years ago....was a security guard.

Yeah, it has a funny smell to the whole thing.  But on the positive side....it shows that a high-school drop-out....can still make it in life, and pull in $200,000 a year by age thirty.  Only in America.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

A Brief, Ever So Brief Moment of French Excitement

To be honest, I don't think I've ever watch a tennis match.  Maybe two minutes here, or a minute there....but there just isn't much for a guy from Bama to get excited about, with tennis.

Today?  Well....maybe, it got hectic with the French Open.

Some French dude jumps out of the stands....whips off his shirt....lights up a flare...and runs across the tennis court.

Based on watching the video....it probably scared the crap out of most folks in the stands.  Even the players on the court took cover and probably thought it was a jihad thing.

The cops?  Well....the special guards of the court (in fancy suits and ties)....grabbed 'Frenchy-Joe' and hustled him off the court.

The best that the TV guys will say is that he was a for-gay marriage protester.  How this all fits into tennis or national politics....take your own guess.

How many French folks care about tennis and would watch this stuff?  I doubt if more than 200,000 French folks were watching it.  Half of them probably thought the guy had a stick of dynamite and were thinking it'd go off.

More of this kind of stuff?  Well, here's the thing.  Tour-de-France is just around the corner, and it is the biggest five-star circus in France.  So folks within the security apparatus of that....are likely shaking their head and wondering how the heck to handle it.

A guy from Bama would likely respond to have someone around with bucket of moist horse crap, and dump it on the guy as quickly as possible.  Things might be interesting to watch the bike race now.

The "Dot" Administration

"When the state has the capability to know everything except the difference between right and wrong, it won’t end well."

-- Mark Steyn

It's been a lousy week for the President and his staff.  This whole PRISM thing, the telephone data collection situation, all of our emails collected into some massive pit....the list goes on and on.  Folks in the White House are furious that this all got out....so they've started yet another secrets-investigation.  You can already call it PRISM-gate.  Some guy put the secret stuff out to the Guardian.

This investigation will have an odd way of progressing.  You need to have a list of all the Guardian reporters.  My guess is that NSA has already gotten that list.  The British secrets guys might be furious about this, but it's already done, I suspect.

So they are pumping in these numbers from the office and the homes of the Guardian reporters, and looking for a call from a stateside location.  Using the mighty powers of PRISM, they will whittle this down to forty Americans, and start looking at their professions.  One by one.  It'll take a week....maybe a month, but some guy in Virginia (my guess) will be having a federal team at his door, and a warrant to grab anything in the house for the investigation.

Next month....two or three hostile and angry folks will provide more juicy stuff to the Guardian.  Another tirade by the Administration....more 'gates' and more investigations....then some point where a federal judge finally stands up and implements a cease and desist order on the Administration.  And in a moment that no one has ever seen....the judge likely appoints a special prosecutor with authority that no one ever dreamed.

To be truthful....our only protector of the Constitution....is a lousy piece of paper.  There are no men standing guard over the Constitution, except for perhaps the legislative process or the federal judges.  I doubt if Jefferson ever thought you'd need a Wyatt Earp or Sergeant York to protect Americans and their rights.

Sitting around house this weekend are one hundred Senators, and four hundred-thirty-five Representatives.  All wondering if their numbers are collected.  Wondering if someone they talked to six months ago is under investigation for something and the note of this Senator's 18-minute chat comes up as identified with the suspect party.  The investigation team then checks through the 1,631 calls that the Senator made over the last year and who he talked to.

Connecting the dots.  A child's game.  Played by adults in this case.  Motivated by?  A child only plays for the fun of it.  Maybe adults do too.

Raising Kane

It hasn't made page one news, or been discussed nationally....but with elections coming up in November of 2014....we've got this interesting episode developing up in Tennesesse with the Senate race.  Senator Lamar Alexander.....is the favorite to win, and there's hardly any Democrat with name recognition or money to run against him.

So, out of the shadows....there's Glenn Jacobs who has announced that he's reviewing his options and might just run.

Glenn, isn't a Democrat.....he's a Libertarian.  He's got a fair amount of issues with Lamar, and Tennessee has a fair number of people who just aren't identifiable with Democrats or Republicans.  Maybe more than any other state.

Course, you sit and ask....who the heck Glenn is and why he thinks anyone would vote for him.

Well....he is recognized throughout the entire nation.  If you asked any kid between 15 and 20....at least forty percent know Glenn.  Go and ask folks around Tennessee....he's actually more recognizable than Lamar.  I'd take a guess that fifty percent of the folks in the state can identify him from TV.  

Glenn.....is "Kane", the WWE wrestler.

Now, I realize that in the real world.....a wrestler doesn't amount to much.  This ought not be much of a threat against any legit Senator.  But there's this funny side to wrestling.  All of these modern-era wrestlers are orators and have developed a four-star ability to speak at a microphone....without a speech written out or reading off a teleprompter.

Put "Kane" against any of the Senate crowd....even John McCain, and "Kane" would tear them up in five lousy minutes.

So this is a curious event.  Most of us don't reside in Tennessee and wouldn't care.  But if you hinted it was "Kane" against just another idiot Republican.....well...that might be worth watching.

Finally, it just makes me wonder....where is the Undertaker (Mark William Calaway), John Cena, and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin?  We might have some other Senators who need to be run out of town.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

My Observation Over Private Schools

My associate at work has a son who probably has reached a point where he himself agrees....he needs motivation, and a better school environment.  The kid needs another three-odd years to wrap up high school, and staying at the same school (here in Virginia) probably just won't work.

So this topic came up.....military schools for kids.  I've known three or four people in my life, who went through that, then came onto the Air Force, and they were mostly proud of the couple of years in a private military school.

I was sitting there and thinking....well...tuition and room/board....this can't be more than $15k a year for some kid.  We are talking about plain teachers, some baloney sandwiches, a chunk of fruit for each meal, a cup of spring water, and some bunk in a room with five other kids, with a 40-watt bulb beaming brightly over them.

Well....I was wrong.

You just can't find anything much in the entire US, for less than $19,000 (tuition and room/board) all added up.

In fact, the vast majority run at least $28,000 to $40,000 a year.  I sat there in shock this morning, and noted the various options.

Then I came to this odd figure.  Most charged for the military uniform.  The least they charged?  It was around $1,995, and it went on up to $2,500.

Having been in the Air Force for twenty-two years and bought dozens of uniforms....I have an idea about uniform costs.  But for some sixteen year old kid to pay $1,995?  Is this silk stuff?  Maybe fancy $18-a-pair for underwear?  Maybe fancy socks made by virgin girls in South Korea?

After a while, I switched over and looked at just private high school deals....most are run by the Catholic guys.  Even there....out in Cullman, that operation is $24,000 a year, and you need to wear white shirts, red ties, and docker pants.

Maybe I'm a cheap older guy, but I just can't see sending a sixteen year old kid off to some private school for $24,000 a year.  Maybe the North Korean guys are missing a golden opportunity here....open up some international academy there.....run by North Korean solders....and charge $12,000 a year to educate a kid and put discipline into them.

I guess it's a good thing I'm not faced with this decision.  $24,000 a year for the kid, or a brand-new Jeep....it'd be a tough choice.

A Different Prospective

This is a nifty map, if you asked me.

God's One Brief Moment of Creativity

I'm retired Air Force, and tend to notice Air Force stories more often.  Some positive.  Some negative.  Some pretty stupid.

So, let's out the story.  A number of chaplains at a US Air Force base in New Jersey (McGuire) got together, and felt it'd be nice to recognize First Sergeants.

Oddly enough, they decide to take the poem written by Paul Harvey, and delivered to a farming convention decades ago.  The poem?  God Created The Farmer.

The slant on this?  God Created a First Sergeant.  You can sense already....there's going to be a problem.

So they develop this video.  Whatever cost was invovled....might have been minor.  Maybe just man-hours and $100 in videotape.

While this was all approved via the chaplains....by the time that it hit YouTube....base leadership got involved.  And at that point, it was taken  down.  Generally, their feeling was that it'd be an insult to various other religions, and the atheists.

By yesterday, this whole thing had become a firestorm with conservatives.  They are hyped up.  To some degree, they think this is a slam purely against religion and God.

I sat and pondered upon this.


First, God didn't create First Sergeants...Air Force regulation created them.

Second, there was only one creation in this whole topic....the day that Paul Harvey got invited....decades ago...to speak at a convention of farmers...and wrote the actual first speech of “God Created a Farmer”. After that, it was all copies of what Paul Harvey intended to be a one and only inspiration.

Third, the limited number of Air Force folks who started the project...were going to put government money into a video that the majority of Air Force enlisted personnel would not have been interested to view. If completed and put out...they would have run it on overseas AFN stations...forcing people to mute the thing every time it came on, or having drinking games with the word “First Sergeant” when the clip came on TV. I know how these videos are perceived, and most come across in a negative fashion. 

Fourth, if this had gone on....then the bomber pilots would have produced their version (God Created a B-52), then the cooks would have done theirs (God Created the Chow Hall), then the MWR guys would have done theirs (God Created NCO Club), then the library folks would have done theirs (God Created the Base Library), the base booze store would have done theirs (God Created Class-Six), and finally the AAFES folks would have done theirs (God Created the Base Exchange).

I think one smart guy stood up and asked some stupid questions, and everyone realized that there wasn't any real common sense in the room. I may be the one single voice in the wilderness on this, but I suspect there are tens of thousands of AF vets who know how the game is played and how much of a waste this would have been.

Finally, purely from the religious standpoint....about a billion years ago more or less....as God stood up and laid out the master plan and developed the standard method of operations on Earth.  There was this one period of creativity.  After that, God's desires or creativity methods have been put at rest.  All of the creativity business is finished....long ago.  Everything since then....is more or less man's fault or responsibility, or creativity.  If we do good or bad....it doesn't much matter.  You can thank God for that start-up deal, but we are onto this trail by our own stupidity or creativity.