Saturday, 31 August 2013

The Permit Episode

Quietly, over the past decades.....folks have kinda noted a trend where everybody and their brother....wanted local forests, wetlands, and rivers....under some federal umbrella.  Usually, it was either the National Forests folks, or the National Parks folks.

In the past couple of weeks....up in Missouri....folks woke up and suddenly realized that the federal side of their local rivers (those under the federal umbrella).....have a new rule.

The rule?  If you are a church group and desiring to hold a baptismal service on the federally-controlled river, then you need a permit.

You can imagine the scene.  Reverend Bob got all fired up and wants to hold a baptism service down on a scenic area with some rapid off in the distance.  It used to be simple....you directed the whole church to show up and you conducted some service, then jumped right into the water.  A line of folks would make it's way to the water, and Reverend Bob would do his work.

To make this work?  Reverend Bob would have to show up at some National Park Service office, and talk to Ranger Karl.  The spot had to be agreed upon, and it had to meet federal safety standards.  It's best not to ask who the heck wrote the standards (probably some gal from Seattle who never visited this particular state in her life).

All of this federal permit business gets folks riled up.  There's at least one Congressman who got involved in the mess with the Park Service, and this is getting lots of press within religious circles in Missouri.

The thing is.....as folks were all happy to have the federal projects, federal money, and federal management to arrive and help their little neck of the woods.....they never asked questions.  They assumed that rules would be kept to a minimum.  They guessed wrong.

So in the last couple of days.....the National Park Service sat down with the Congressman and ironed out an agreement of sorts.  The permit business?  It's kinda dissolved.  The wording on this agreement is not that clear.  I'm guessing that they insisted on some areas being off-limits because dangers.  It would appear that they lead the various groups to a preferred spot for the baptism business.

For now, things are progressing in a positive fashion.  No federal folks standing in the way of an old-fashioned religious episode.

I suspect the National Park Service management folks woke up and kinda realized that folks might just show up and do a baptism without a permit.  Then you'd have to hire more rangers to enforce the rule.  And then you'd end up with folks dragged into some federal court.....because of illegal baptisms on federal property.  The judge would have sat there...mostly laughing...and dismissing case after case.  The American system of justice....just wasn't made to handle dimwitted situations like this.

Yeah, some folks might say that the hand of God was at work on this whole business.  I'd prefer to say that some over-zealous management folks woke up and realized their mistake.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

The Year 2100

We are eighty-seven-odd years away from the next century.  For a moment or two....I'll ponder upon the likely things we will see.

1.  I seriously doubt that NBC, CBS, and ABC survive the next eight decades.  Two will likely merge at some point to survive.  I think cable and satellite TV will introduce dozens of options that take down the big-three in the end.  We will all be more demanding in what we watch, and less accepting in trash-TV.

2.  The NFL and college football.....will disappear.  Somewhere around 2030, I expect a state to outlaw high school and college football within their state, because of the continued reporting of serious injuries and brain damage.  The NCAA will find itself engaged in various court actions to defend it's support of the game.  Eventually, with fewer schools participating, and fewer stars coming out onto the field....we will hear one day of the NFL announcing the final year, with less than fifteen teams participating.  It'll be a sad day.

3.  ObamaCare will be left to founder through 2018, with no obvious changes or rebuilds.  By 2020, the news media will be in a fit because they can't really report how bad the mess has become....nor can they get any real attention to Congress to fix it.  Between 2020 and 2030....it'll be agreed by all parties that it's a dysfunctional care package, and the majority of it's rules and laws will be tossed out.  Around 2050.....some idiot will reappear, and try to introduce the new health care package, and by 2070.....we will agree that it's a failure as well.

4.  Somewhere over the next forty years....a series of hurricanes will run through the Florida coast and over to Texas....all in one year.  The amount of damage will trigger some government response effort that runs near $500 billion.  No one will be able to explain how we will pay for the response, and it'll trigger a massive recession for the nation.

5.  President Ted Cruz will enter office in 2016, and a Latino-era will erupt throughout the nation.  Sadly, the expectation of most leaning toward the Democrats will be proven wrong, and the media will be shocked to find over half the Latino population are right-leaning.  As a block....at least six states by 2025 will find themselves run with Latino leadership.  By 2100, at least four different Latino Presidents will have taken office.

6.  Some school district in Texas by 2025, will discover that statistically....there's no advantage of having teachers around with Masters Degrees.  Rather than throw bonus money or higher pay toward the ones with a Masters Degree.....they will mandate that all teachers will require only a four-year degree.  It'll be challenged to the Supreme Court, but accepted by the Justices.  Over the next fifty years.....more districts will follow with lesser degree requirement.

7.  Google will buy a private university by 2020, and start a on-line Google University program.  Cost?  Less than $6,000 a year.  By 2040, most colleges will offer similar programs and try to compete.  Google's university program will have over one million participants by 2050.

8.  By 2100, at least ten percent of the US population will have an embedded chip, which monitors their health and stress levels.  The information is passed to data-review analysts connected to your health insurance company.

9.  The bio farming industry will have grown to such a degree by 2050.....that twenty percent of all farmers participate in it.  Degrees in bio-farming will be common, and a TV network will be dedicated to showing the various old practices of running a farm.

10.  Global warming, global cooling, and climate change.....by 2050.....will be proven as mostly a hoax.  People with environmental or climate degrees....will be standing there in a daze....wondering what the heck they will do for the rest of their lives.

11.  New York City, by 2060, will have started a five-thousand-dollar tax on any gas-powered car approved to operate in the city.  It'll be an effort to limit NYC to strictly battery cars and public transportation.  San Francisco will make the same rule within two years.  By 2080, at least forty US cities will have deemed gas-powered cars as offensive.

12.  After several taxation episodes over the period of 2020 to 2040.....most wealthy California residents will have packed up and left the state.  State officials won't be able to interest any company into starting major operations there, and California reverts itself to the poorest state in the Union by 2060.

13.  None of the current top forty newspapers in America today.....will be printed in paper format as of 2050.  By 2100.....there will not be a single printed newspaper in America.

14.  A fake western city (with the looks of 1870s Cheyenne) will be created by 2040.  Over six hundred fake homes will be part of the city, and be a tourist magnet for couples and families to come and live for a week or two weeks....in the old-fashioned western style.  News media hosts will come and be shocked at the happy nature of people in these surroundings.  By 2060, a permanent city with the same theme will be created.  More theme cities will follow (Amish 1890s farm cities, London Village of 1920s, and Mayberry 1966).

15.  Most American beer companies will be owned by Chinese multi-millionaires by 2050.  Wal-Mart itself will be bought by a Chinese company by 2060.

16.  Gay marriage enthusiasm will peak out between 2020 and 2030.  Once two states bring up threesome marriages, the general support starts to dip as people ask where the start and stop lines lay.  By 2050, at least three states will allow threesome marriages, while forty states allow for gay marriage.  By 2100, a trend will have started where you sign up for a computerized marriage selection, meet the intended partner five minutes before the ceremony, and society will be shocked that statistically....these bang-bang-marriages are actually very successful.

17.  Medical reports by 2030 will indicate that almost all sodas are bad for you, and several states will try to forbid sodas to anyone under the age of sixteen.  By 2075, most states will forbid sodas to all kids under sixteen.

18.  Plastic forks and knives will deemed as an environmental hazard by 2050, and generally banned in half the states.

19.  By 2100, religious cults will be the norm.  At least half of the US population will be members of some cult.

20.  And by 2100, most Americans will agree, they are unhappy with the political process.....but just can't figure a way to fix it.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The Tut Dude

I wrapped up a Berlin trip last night, and returned home.  The key feature of this trip?  Well....the King Tut Exhibit.

In a curious way, I've spent hours and hours over the past two or three decades....reading up on Egyptian history.

It's hard to say that we have a lot of facts.  There's some bits and pieces.  We know the rulers, and the general history.  Nothing much is exact.

I've come to several conclusions....based on what I've read, and how I see history.

First, all of these Egyptian rulers....had a bunch of religious geeks in their camp.  With umpteen gods, there were open spots for probably fifty-odd characters, who claimed they had the vast knowedge of Hapy, Atum, Seth, Ra, Nut, Khnum, etc.  Naturally, this all led to competition between the religious nuts, and various interpretations that were as good as picking the NCAA football champions as early as the second week of the season.

Second, unless you had a war brewing....there wasn't much to discuss or get all hyped-up on.  Maybe some idiot would be pumping up the royal court on accusations of high crimes or treason.....mostly faking folks enough for entertainment purposes.

Third, eventually......folks got around to noting the significance of so-and-so.....compared to so-and-so from fifty years ago, and the evidence usually was the fancy art or construction work of some building or statue.  Naturally, public works became a big deal.....if you wanted a status bigger than some dead guy from forty years ago.

Forth, folks got all peppy over the royal wife and what this tended to mean to them.  At some points, it was agreed that you'd best marry your cousin or close relative gal.  Course, this usually meant some diseases carried on, and you weakened your family line on down some degree.  Since they didn't know any better....you can't judge them of a bad idea in today's environment.

Fifth, all of this rich Egyptian history comes to some end as King Tut dies......in his youth.  There's no descendants to pass the mess along to, and various non-royals come onto the scene.  It's kind of an abrupt end....because so much of the history is just plain dumped at this point.  What remains?  It gets destroyed in various fires, and as invaders come into Egypt.  You could argue the point that one-tenth of one percent of whatever was written for Egyptian history....survived, and that's a pretty lousy number if you think about it.

Sixth and final.  No, there's no aliens building the Pyramids.  Real men, real engineers, and real dedication were the necessary ingredients.  You could take forty of the best Auburn University graduates.....toss them into a football stadium....and tell them to draw up a plan on building three simple pyramids.  No bulldozers....no cranes....no dump trucks.  It might take a couple of years, but they'd eventually figure a trick around every single problem.  Face it....if you don't have NCAA football, hunting, fishing, Dancing with the Stars, Fox News, or church meetings to attend.....then you've got lots of time to think about oddball and crazy ideas.

I'm not of the mind that this was a wonderful period, or a great period of history.  It was awful dang hot....folks tended to fight wars for little-to-no reason....and you could die from food poisoning real easy.  I doubt if anyone lived much lived past the age of forty-five.  So you lived as much as you could....and just kinda accepted statistics as they were.

The King Tut Exhibit?  Well, that was a curious thing.  It's to end this weekend.  They took every nifty piece of the King Tut burial chamber, and reproduced it.  Yep.....the exhibit was all FAKE.

Now, a guy could laugh over this.....paying $18 for entry and feeling foolish for viewing fake King Tut stuff.  But, since it's all dangerous now to wander off to Egypt.   Looking at fake stuff might be the only logical plan "B".

Finally, a Bama guy is pleased to note in the midst of this burial chamber.....King Tut had this fancy gold-plated cow-head there.  I'm thinking Tut was a farmer at heart....having an appreciation for cows.  So it just made sense....as you get buried, to have some fancy cow-head in your chamber.  Guys from today get all weepy-eyed and want to have their fancy University of Alabama sweatshirt on as they are buried.  Luckily, folks don't get stupid and allow this to happen much.  In King Tut's day.....no one would have said much against a stupid college sweatshirt, or some Coach "Bear" hat being left in the tomb.

Just the way it is.

Scripted US Military Response

After this Syrian chemical weapons attack......you kinda expected folks to get all stirred up and want some US military reaction.  No one else wants to participate.....but between the UN folks, the media, and a bunch of Syrian rebel folks.....the US military is the only solution.

So basically, it's a scripted episode.  There's likely some 36-hour mini-war about to erupt.  You can figure around twenty cruise missiles, and maybe a dozen bombers making a couple of runs.  Some military sites will be destroyed in Syria.  Maybe the chemical weapons depot will get hit.  And you can figure two or three government buildings somewhere in this mix.

The Pentagon will announce success.  The fancy-pants journalists of the Washington Post will note how wonderful the results were, and some French journalists will note that not much of anything was really achieved.

The reason for thirty-six hours?  Well....the President is supposed to be doing a visit off to Russia and he needs it done and complete by the time he arrives in Moscow.  The reason?  Well....it just doesn't look right if the President is doing trips in the midst of some 'war'....even if it's not a real war.

The medals?  Oh yeah.....well....there's bound to be at least two hundred various medals awarded to various folks for this magnificent operation....maybe even five hundred.  In the glory days.....you had to be off on some war-front for months and months.  Today?  You can do a mini-war of thirty-six hours, and that's enough to get some kinda medal.  It doesn't make much sense, but modern war is like that.....quick....lacking results...and simple.

The big part of this spin is that CNN gets one big chance to regain their market-share with a big fancy background, and minute-by-minute analysis of "THE WAR".  CNN will interview at least thirty Senators, at least a hundred foundation wannabe experts (retired generals) on war, roughly sixty Syrian folks will describe the brief war and it's success, and another forty-five folks who were in previous wars (thus having experience at such events).

The President will have a start-up speech for the war.....roughly sixteen minutes probably.  He'll describe his feelings, his beliefs, his anger, and his goals.

There's already a second wrap-up speech for the end-of-the war....probably another sixteen minute piece.  He'll describe success, winning, and the great future for the people of Syria.

Yeah, it's scripted.  But that's the way things work in the modern era.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Guilty

It's not much to say.  After roughly two weeks of a court episode over the Fort Hood Muslim shooter....guilty was about all that the jury could utter over this guy (Maj Nidal Hasan).

Monday will be the part where the sentence will be determined.  The general gut feeling from most observers is that the death sentence will be handed down.  The way this works in the Army....after the sentence is rendered....then a review occurs.

Reviews of military cases can take a year or two.  You can figure at least two to five folks working eight-hour days....going through each hour of the court case and trying to find any screw-ups.  Administrative screw-ups are expected and they generally won't affect the outcome.

My humble guess is that Major Hasan will meet his end somewhere toward the end of 2015.  The President could put a word or two in, and just convert this to life in prison.  It's hard to say if the President has enough interest or political wit left at this point....to make this worth the effort.

The general part of this story that bothers me?  There were at least five different episodes over the previous three years of his life where Army members should have questioned his ability to serve.  Being in the medical profession....they just looked the other way and accepted his behavior as something of a challenge.  Anyone could have stood up....noted that he was not capable of serving....and forced a review.  I doubt if Hasan could have defended himself.  

As for justice for those who died that day at Fort Hood?  Maybe after 2016....there might be some things to change, and the Army might recognize the event for what it really was.  This 'workplace-violence' stuff?  A gimmick and joke.  If someone on the Capital protection staff did the same stuff within the capital building.....this workplace-violence gimmick would never be used.

As for Hasan?  He will sit there for two years and wonder about this whole mess.

Book Review: Aristotle's Children

Subtitle: How Christians, Muslims, and Jews Rediscovered Ancient Wisdom and Illuminated the Dark Ages.  By Richard E. Rubenstein.  I finished the book this morning.

Three men.....on a mission....bound and determined to advance mankind to a new world.

A blacksmith, a wrestler, and a happy-go-lucky guy who does tutor work on the side.  The three would threaten the stability of the globe, challenge society in general with questions, trigger the deaths of hundreds of thousands, and be readily identified as threats to the safety of the Catholic Church.

So it was with Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.

If I had to pick a list of twenty books which every university student ought to read before graduation.....then Aristotle's Children would be on the list.  It picks up the story-line mostly after Socrates and Plato.  Aristotle is the character in world history that was supposed to have been forgotten and never mentioned.

After Aristotle had written all his great pieces....the Christian period comes into play.  What the writer goes into detail about....is this necessity of the Catholic Church out of Rome....to have most all copies of what Aristotle wrote....to be destroyed.  For roughly a thousand years, this effort eliminated anyone from discussing wisdom or knowledge to the degree that Aristotle voiced.

Then an odd thing was discovered.  Those crazy Muslims were found to be actually fairly comfortable with the writings of the Greek trio.  So they took all the copies that they could find, and they were housed during this period of "darkness".  As we moved into the age of enlightenment....a great number of Aristotle's writings suddenly were 'found'.

The Muslims (for the most part) end up being a society that was comfortable with discussions on philosophy, wisdom, and science.  The Catholic crowd?  Well.....the last thing on Earth that you needed....was a discussion by anyone....over philosophy, wisdom or science.

The pro-education crowd of Europe were shocked.  As they jumped into the writings....they found all of these indicators of wisdom, with questions relating to man and his quest to know all.

Rubenstein goes through the various paces of stumbles that the Catholic Church enacted....trying to limit Aristotle's teachings.  They felt threatened and intimidated.  A guy dead for over a thousand years....yet his writings shake the very foundation of stability in Europe.  Then you toss in the chatter and comments from the blacksmith (Socrates) and the wrestler (Plato).....you end up with an uncontrollable mess.

Along the way of telling this story....the layout of the idea of the current university system is told.  I suspect some would read through and be surprised how things developed....how the churches got into the business of running colleges....and politics from a thousand years ago often brought down university operations because of threats made by one side or another.

Another shocker tossed into the middle of the book...was the attitude of the Catholic Church to limit the science knowledge discussed by the students.  So the general rule was....speak in a language that the locals had no access to, which meant Latin had a great purpose to keep secrets from the public view.

By the end of this reading....I came to this curious pondering.  If the writings of the blacksmith, the wrestler, and the happy-go-lucky tutor (his student, if  you wondered....was Alexander the Great)....had been allowed to flourish and be part of society without threats, we would have advanced to a higher state of technology and being....than what we have today.

Aristotle's Children has been around for a decade.  Excellent reading.  A dry spot or two in the middle of the book.....chatty over the Catholic Church illumination wars....but it lays out what three humble guys did, and why they were the biggest threat to mankind over the past two thousand years.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Miss Bradley

Private Manning, now to serve thirty-five years in an Army prison....says now, that he wants hormone treatment....to become Chelsea Manning (a male-female of sorts).

As explained yesterday....he thinks that such treatment will help him, and fulfill his life's dream.  The Army response was that they aren't in the business of such hormone treatments, and you tend to get plain simple medical care at a military prison.

Adding to the Army's frustration with this announcement.....they tend to worry about the safety of their guards, and the safety of the convicted folks there at the facility.

Having some nutcase walking around and talking up hormone gimmicks and sexual awakening....well, it doesn't sit well with most convicts or thugs in prison.  You end up being a target, and it's an unpleasant mess for a guard to handle.

Court action will likely be required because the Army just won't cooperate with this hormone business.  You can imagine some military judge having to step into this mess.  The odds of a Army judge approving it?  One chance out of fifty, if you ask me.  Going up to some civilian court?  I doubt that the Army would accept any federal order unless the Supreme Court stepped in.

The whole agenda?  There are two possibilities.  One....Chelsea Manning is a nutcase, and was that way from the day he joined the Army.  They screwed up on clearing him for security, and he should have been tossed out by the end of basic training.  Second: Chelsea Manning has a plan....to get himself sent into a federal facility instead of a military prison.  Playing this hormone game would get him into a friendlier situation.

The neat thing about this story?  It basically guarantees that no TV network will ever make a movie over it....because Private Manning looks like a nutcase.

Another Rating Story

It wasn't much of an announcement.  The President says he's all pepped up and ready to push forward a national rating system onto public colleges. He says this would be used as a tool, to reward, and punish....colleges by their ratings.  You can sense the comical nature of this episode.

The deal would evaluate colleges on tuition cost, the percentage of low-end income of students, the graduation rate, and the debt of graduates.

What he says.....with the government threatening to take away federal funding....colleges would see the 'incentive' to fix their ratings, and thus look better.

The problem in getting to this solution?  Well.....you have to go through Congress and the Senate.  On a list of the top three hundred problems that either might be willing to tackle and work on.....this rating gimmick is likely around number 362.

How would you track the true debt of graduates?  It'd require another thousand IRS analysts to come to some reliable number.  How would know the percentage of low income students?  Again, another thousand (probably two thousand) IRS analysts....digging into your own private and personal data....to give the government some conclusion.  The graduation rate?  University after university would realize they need to get some dimwit through....to get better rates....so they invite class requirements that are easy to achieve, and just grin as the numbers look great.  Tuition cost?  Well....you just start inventing fees....unrelated to tuition, and get around being noticed for excessive fee cost.

We presently are working with the NCAA rating system, which is supposed to give us the two best football teams in America. This calculated rating?  It's probably the most corrupted ratings system that one could possible create.  No one truly believes that it works as intended.

So this is mostly all a chance for the President to appear in public....give a speech....and get twenty minutes of dedicated time on some Sunday talk show with his 'hocus-pocus-team' in full turbo.  Everyone will stand there....mostly talking woeful chatter about college.....and wondering why people borrow so much money.  The audience?  Well....the vast majority are watching other shows, and the few who do watch this.....kinda wonder if any of the chat folks live in the real world.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Bradley

The Bradley Manning case is concluded now....thirty-five years in prison.  He would be sixty upon release....if he doesn't get a pardon somewhere down the line.

No one from the Army will argue over this sentence.  Most would have given him sixty-plus years and he'd never see the light of day.  In this case.....he will emerge around 2048 and find a vastly different world.

The odds of surviving till 2048?  Well, that's another issue.  I'm fairly sure that he will be attacked in the Army prison, and be held mostly in a solitary type situation.  Other than a visit from his close relatives.....he won't find too many folks who agree with his accomplishments.

I suspect if someone had sat down early-on in Army intelligence school and said.....you could go to prison for dumping secrets.....it might have made a difference.  Typically, what a GI gets when read onto a program.....is a warning that you could be prosecuted.  Prosecution isn't a word to usually equal jail-time.  If you knew you could spend a decade in some stupid prison....for divulging secrets....you'd likely wise-up and just be smart.  Bradly.....wasn't smart.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Fifty-One States?

Ballot-wise, it's there.  The county commission of Weld County, Colorado....has approved a ballot measure for the next election....where the residents of the county will vote on the idea of annexing themselves out of Colorado....into "North Colorado" (yeah, the 51st state).

What we can say for facts: (1) Three other county commissions are close to performing the same approval. (2) An additional three counties are in the discussion stage and will likely reach the approval stage for the ballot measure by the end of the year. (3) The suggested list of the present seven counties...would make up around fifteen percent of the state acreage.

The aggravation?  These counties are all rural in nature, and draw limited power in the state assembly.  Based on the state method of legislation by population....the urban centers of Denver, Colorado Springs, and Gunnison control the majority of accomplishments for the state legislature.  

I would imagine at least five other counties (probably in the far east side of the state) have enough interest in this matter....to make it into discussions over the next year.

Here's how the game would run.  The counties would eventually show enough support via the ballot measure to force the state to amend the Constitution.  Whether the state legislature would agree to this or just keep grinning....is unknown.  If the state did agree, then the measure would go the US Congress and Senate who would have to go through the measure and deem it approved, or stall it.  The President has no authority over the matter....so other than making comments, that's about all the President can do.

It's hard to say if this would pass on.  If you open up the door for the 51st state....you add two more senators (likely both Republican)....which some members of the Senate would not be that happy about.  It also opens the door for at least another dozen states where unhappiness reigns, and more folks would like their own state.

If I were a betting man, I'd say it's barely a five-percent chance of happening.  But, it would make for an interesting debate in the Senate, and likely force some people there to stand and ponder over American history....something new perhaps....for them to discuss.

Stress

The Professional Association of German Psychiatrists came out in a news report....after a long bit of survey and study....to say that a fair number of people with physical disorders.....like neck pain, back pain, and blood pressure issues, connect back to stress.

It might be stress at work....stress with a relationship....or just plain stress in life itself.

The issue I saw in the study....they wouldn't attach numbers to it, like one out of ten or six out of ten.  They simply said that there people who complain continually about physical issues.....when it's really mental issues.

So it leaves you to ponder this.  Some average guy with a stressful job....complains to his doctor about back issues.  Pains that won't go away.  The doctor will eventually give him some pain medication....later increasing the dosage.  After a while, the guy is noted during an exam with blood pressure issues.....so the doctor gives him a prescription for blood pressure medication.  The truth?  The guy or his health insurance is paying out a thousand bucks a year....for medications....that might not really be doing anything much.

If it was one out of ten.....you can imagine the numbers across the nation, and the cost of doing treatment for something that doesn't really require drugs.

Kinda sad in a way.....we might have six million Americans under treatment for something.....only because of stress at work, at school, with the husband or wife, or with their life in general.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Book Review: T. E. Lawrence

Around four months ago, I finished up this book by Malcolm Brown.  It's been around for a decade, and kinda wraps up the history of Lawrence of Arabia...in a tidy 150-page book that you can read in a weekend.

Most everyone who wants to write or tell the story of Lawrence....generally end it at the conclusion of World War I.  It's a great moment in history, when one man walks into a mess, develops a few simple strategies, and carries a rag-tag army onto winning a regional war.  Newspapers made great epics out of this simplistic moment of history.

Sadly, the British government came to some moment of realization that Lawrence was bigger than anything they'd ever seen, and regarded as a national hero.  The fear of him coming back to the UK....walking into politics....and changing Britain?  Well....they just couldn't allow him to go in that direction.

So Lawrence became a condemned man back in the UK.  The book gives some history over the last fifteen years of his life....dying in 1935 in a motorcycle accident.  There are several attempts by Lawrence to join back with the British military....using various different names, and each eventually was discovered.  On each occasion....he'd be let go.  The curious thing?  As much as the authority of power condemned him....he never left the UK.  He was British, pure and simple.

I give high marks to the book.  It's worthy of being read.  After it, you can watch the movie "Lawrence of Arabia" and have an appreciation of the man.  The book can be read over a long weekend, and connects the dots on history in the making.

Perhaps one day....someone will be bold enough to develop a movie which carries T. E. Lawrence from 1919 to 1935.  

The question I'm left with after reading the book?  If Lawrence had been left alone, and quietly maneuvered himself in the military....to eventually become a general, and was standing there in May of 1940 at Dunkirk, would history have been rewritten?  Would the allies (the French and British Army) under a General Lawrence....said "no" to the evacuation.....taken a bold maneuver, stepped around the Germans, and suddenly trapped Hitler's army?  Would a embarrassed Hitler have been replaced or fired?  Something, we shall never know.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Just Humble Opinions

1.  With all this chatter about Egypt, chaos and cutting funding....we might want to stand back for a second and ponder.  All of our US funding going to Egypt?  The vast sum of funds is there as a deal from President Carter that Egypt remains quiet and stable against Israel.  Israel also gets the same deal of funding.....quietly sit there and trigger no trouble against Egypt.  It's how Carter won his Nobel Peace Prize.  The 'noise' coming out of Egypt?  Simply angry folks who were convinced by event two years ago to toss out Murbarak, and bring on public-supported political parties....which meant the Islamic guys got their foot in the front door.  Things would have gone great if the Islamic guys had prioritized the economy as problem number one, but they weren't that bright.  So we end up with a 3rd-rate news item.....taking up most of CNN's coverage.

2.  The New York Yankees have this problem with this Alex Rodriguez-character.  They were stupid enough to sign a long-term contract, with a guy who was doing enhancement drugs, and felt his value was "X".  Now that all the drug news has come out, and Alex has gone to no enhancement drugs.....they have this worthless player on a contract for four more years, no one to trade him to, and fans discontent with them keeping him on the rooster.  It says a lot about why people have no appreciation for baseball today.  Over the last couple of days....Rodriguez hired a lawyer who does mostly negative talk against targets, making the Yankees and professional baseball the primary target.  I'm guessing he's burning bridges as quickly as possible, some even before he crosses them.  

3.  Finally, some science guy has come out and noted that all these breakfast drinks and energy drinks.....with vast amounts of fruit juice and sugar.....are pretty bad for you.  They'd almost note that they are at the level of badness that we stack against sodas.  

Upcoming TV Series

TV networks over the past fifty years have been in a fit....trying to continually develop new TV series that would grab the viewer and concrete them to that network, for that time-slot.

Over the years, we've been shocked.  Green Acres was developed....set into motion.....and today is considered a rare gem among all the various shows ever produced.

For a couple of brief seasons....Lost was considered one of the most creative shows that the networks ever developed.

The folks who developed and made Bonanza.....were sitting on a gold-mine.  Yeah, half the stories were lousy, but we watched mostly because of Hoss and Little Joe continually getting into trouble, with Ben getting out of trouble.

The Big Bang Theory has taken some unusual characters....blended in a bit of humor...and created a series that people are addicted to and watch reruns over and over.

Over the weekend....it came out that a developmental project is being pushed around.  It won't be ready this fall for a series, but maybe for next year.  The topic?  A female Secretary of State, trying to stop wars, save humanity, and lecture worldly dimwits.

Yeah, it does sound like a Hillary-TV series.....just in time for the 2015 start-up for the next presidential election.

My humble prediction?  It does so lousy....that it's taken down after seven episodes.  If you had to pick some show with limited appeal....this is it.  But, Green Acres survived on for a while, and did it often with two star scripts.....maybe this show can survive.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Book Review: The Mormonizing of America

This week I wrapped up another history book of sorts.  The Mormonizing of America.

Basically, it's a two-star book which has moments of gifted writing, and in-depth history.  Then it runs off into some commentary which really doesn't fit for a history book (more of social commentary or such).

I'd say about fifty pages of the book make for interesting reading.  At one point, you realize the whole religion is bound and in a starting position in the 1830s....because of some idiot traveling through Ohio with a collection of Egyptian mummies and some ancient scrolls.  The collection is bought by the guy who would start the religion, and the scrolls would be part of his contribution to the text of the Mormon religion.

Without the traveling mummy guy, the nifty scrolls, and the amazing interpretation of the scrolls (from a guy who'd likely never beyond beyond the Ohio Valley).....there is no Mormon religion today.  This all says alot about how history is based on fate, and luck.

So, no....I wouldn't recommend the book....unless you are in a state prison or such, or retired, and having ample time to read books like this.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

The Tile Story

Years ago....working in the intelligence field....I was detailed one day to go and help some folks unload a truck out front, and bring some items into the vault.

I get out front, and it's a truckload of acoustic sound absorbing tiles.  There's some project to redo a conference room, and make it absolutely sound-proof.

I was thinking the tiles would be the same as regular ceiling tiles.  I was wrong.  They were a bit heavier, and this tote-job took up most of the morning, and made this Bama guy sweat a fair amount as I helped the other guys carry in hundreds of these tiles.

Days would pass, and the room would be rendered sound-proof. As it was completed, I walked in and stood there with five or six other folks.  To be honest, for some odd reason....I got feeling dizzy.  Sound just didn't carry right.  I left the room after two minutes.

I bring this story up because out of DC this past week....they had this acoustic tile episode to occur.

At some fancy musical auditorium.....in the midst of some serious jazz music....heavy acoustic tiles from the ceiling just let go, and came crashing down on the audience.  The authorities note that eight folks got taken away by ambulance to the local hospital with varying injuries.

You can imagine this chaos.....folks laying there.....other folks screaming.....and some security guys thinking it was a jihad attack or something.

The only thing now that the auditorium folks will say is that the tiles loosen up and just fell.  I'm suspecting lawyers will sort this out, and every guy taken off to the hospital will get an initial offer of $5,000.  No one will accept that, and eventually most will get $50,000.  Me personally?  I wouldn't mind getting whacked in the head with a ceiling tile....for $50,000.

The Moderation Issue

The Republicans met yesterday and voted.  If CNN and NBC continue forward with the Hillary movie idea.....neither get invited to the Republican debates of 2015/2016.  It was pretty concrete in terms of what had to be done.  Either drop the movie idea...move it back past the election....or accept the consequences.

Based on what both CNN and NBC have done over the past decade....I'd say they were both stupid enough to go forward, and be ready to accept the consequences.  Then, they will complain day in and day out.....how they were left out of the American political process.

Personally?  I'm of the mind that it's time to go out and find four barbers from across the state of Bama....to be the moderators and ask the stupid questions to the Republican candidates.  These wannabe-journalists?  They act like idiots.....creating a seventy-word question....that doesn't concern any Republicans but gets Democrats all peppy.  Democrats don't vote Republican and it's hard to see how some of these questions ever make sense.

Barbers would make the questions simple.  It'd never be more than thirty words.  I doubt if they'd even ask about US policy toward South Korea or Japan....mostly because half the barbers don't care.  There might be some NCAA football questions.  Some candidates might be asked about their lawns, their preference for bar-b-q sauce, their best King of the Hill episode, and their choice for best Bible scripture.

CNN has kind of burned a number of bridges to get to where they are today.  There are fewer viewers than there were in 2001.  Most folks would ask why, but CNN prefers to avoid the why question and just continue in the present direction.

Will the Hillary movie proceed?  I think so.  The dimwits might figure out a way to make the movie and show it two weeks after the 2016 election....thus making everyone happy.  My humble guess is that a dozen CNN executives are meeting next week and trying to figure out some fancy way of admitting they screwed up but they aren't sorry.

It's funny.....here we are....barely ten months since the last election, and already in some turbo-mode for the next election....months and months away.

The NSA Bama Analyst

Based on news comments this week....it's apparent that a massive amount of our emails and telephone calls, are being browsed or checked by some NSA analyst.  I sat and pondered upon this.

Around eight in the morning....Ben arrives at his NSA job and clocks in.  He's the Bama analyst, and has the job of checking through traffic and calls from the previous day.

So Ben starts with emails.  First, there's the one between one Auburn football enthusiast and a University of Alabama enthusiast.  There's a bit of aggravation by the Auburn guy, and this guy says that he thinks Muslim radicals have taken over the football program.

Then the second email is read.  This is commentary from one Bama guy to a cousin about the local Dollar General Store being taken over by Chinese Islamic folks.  He writes on and on.....roughly five pages....of mostly incoherent stuff.

The third email?  It's from some agency in Florida who was contacted by a Bama guy to provide a go-go dancer for the guy's buddy and his bachelor party in two weeks.  The company says they can't provide Wanda....she's busy.  But they've got Trudy, who did some go-go dancing in the late 1990s.

The fourth email?  It's a difficult to read email from some Baptist minister to members of his congregation over the consumption of alcohol.  There's about forty verses cited, but none of the verses have anything to do with drinking booze.  Ben is a bit frazzled at this point and takes a NSA-approved ten minute break.

Upon returning....Ben now goes to the phone recordings.  The first one is from some concerned wife over her husband listening to Islamic ministers on some AM station out of Mobile.

The second call is from some guy complaining about his transmission job.  He thinks the guy is a Muslim and did a lousy job because of the "Vote Obama" sticker on his car.

The third call is a 30-minute conversation between two Red Bay women and the possibility of aliens existing.

The fourth call is a six-minute talk between one meth user, and another meth user.  There are a total of twelve words spoken over the six minutes by the two guys.  Nothing makes much sense over what was spoken.

The fifth call is from a Dothan high school kid and his school teacher.  It's fairly intimate and the NSA guy listens intently as various fantasy talk is discussed between the two.  For a brief moment, the NSA guy would like to give the kid some advice but remembers the forty-four standard NSA rules of non-interference.

The sixth call is from a astrology gal from Athens to her customer.  She's advising him of some woes coming up this week over NCAA football, a black dog, a storm cloud, and George Bush.  The guy is worried, and the astrology lady advises him to come by for a more personal reading.  She mentions the cost of $75.

The seventh call is between a guy from Birmingham who is set up for a blind-date with a gal from Guntersville.  He wants directions, and keeps asking about her looks.

The NSA guy takes lunch at this point.  To be honest, he's a bit burned out, and would like to be transferred to the Florida division.  There's too much of nothing chatter....too much NCAA football....too much wrestling updates....too much gossip....and too much talk over Bible interpretation.

After lunch, the highlight of the afternoon is a seventeen line text message that some Bama guy sent to his daughter about the evils of smoking, the evils of drinking, and the evils of carousing.  The daughter has responded back that she is forty-six years old and knows all the various evils, plus another seventy-two newer evils.

The NSA guy clocks out at 5PM, and gets into the car.  He's never been to Bama in his life....having grown up in Queens, New York and attended a fancy-pants university in New Hampshire.  He had higher aspirations in life when he joined the NSA.  He thought he'd be going after the bad Islamic guys, but he spends forty hours a week....focused strictly on Bama folks.

To be honest, this NSA guy would like to pack up, and move to Florence, Bama....where he's heard a good bit about their great golf courses, and low cost of living.  He's got a list of sixteen different Baptist Churches he could attend, and already has the phone-numbers of a dozen eligible single ladies with the right educational background and already knows their personalities.

Tomorrow?  A new and fresh day, with fresh phone calls, and more emails.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Church (Club) of England

The Church of England has worked itself up into an interesting discussion on God, his holy planet, and fracking.

It's hard to figure how you'd make this discussion work.  The idea laid out by the Church of England....is that God has given us a planet with limited resources, and we should not destroy the work of God.....in his creation of this planet.

Naturally.....fracking is the work of the devil (not said but you can't avoid missing that connection).

When you go over to their site....there's an entire page where the ministers of the church have written up a simplified version of what fracking is about and how it does harm.  At one point, they note reports of fracking contaminating US wells....yet there's isn't one substantiated case where this has ever been proven and no court has ever acknowledged this and given a claim to anyone.

The ministers then go to note pollution created by transport trucks involved in fracking, and the leaking of storage tanks on fracking sites.  Again, no state or federal authority has ever identified leaking tanks that were connected to fracking sites.  As for the pollution of transport trucks?  Well....you could make the case that people driving their cars to a church service.....create as much or more pollution.

I looked over the Church of England's web site.  There's a flurry of activity connected to oil, natural gas, global warming, global cooling, and climate change.  

Naturally, all of these issues relate to man's own fault.  If God wanted the Earth to heat up....he'd just make it happen, without the help of man.  If God wanted to chill the Earth....he'd just wave a hand and make it happen....without the aide of man.  If God wanted the fracking oil to special and precious, and never be used.....God probably would have dumped all this specially blessed oil a great deal deeper and made fracking a terrible pain.

It would seem that souls and blessings....come second to the Church of England....where they worry a bit on man, science, and climate episodes.  Would they pray to God to stop global warming?  My humble guess is no.  Would they pray to God to push the holy fracking oil deeper into the Earth to prevent man from using it?  No....I doubt it.  Would they pray that God lays down a mighty tidal wave to wash away all of the whale hunter ships from Japan?  Well....no.

I'm not sure what the ministers for the Church of England really pray for.  And I'm probably going out on the limb for this comment....but I doubt if they are capable of praying for much...except for the health of their membership.....ever dwindling each and every year.  Dying off?  Well....due to climate change and some newly discovered suffering called "age-change".....it is drastically affecting the church.

Yes, age-change is hurting the world and we probably need to elevate it to a worldly problem.  And sadly, it was probably the one thing that God just figured was right to inject into our society.  Fracking?  Well....if you ask me.....God must have handed it down to the right guys....and has no intention of interfering.

The Jury Episode

It is an oddball story.

There was this New Mexico guy who did some really stupid things, and ended up with a murder conviction (against his old girlfriend).  He also was convicted on an armed robbery situation.  In court, he really wasn't going to have much of a chance.

Somewhere in the early court processes, they were selecting a jury of his peers.  Some guy got called down to the local courthouse, and he admits in the interview process......that he was Latino and a US citizen, but his language ability just wasn't good enough for this kind of stuff.  You'd admire a guy who would at least admit this and not get himself deep into trouble.  The court accepted that and dismissed him.  They had plenty of others to select from.

Well....after the conviction of this guy.....his attorney goes through various appeals, and decides that dismissing this Latino guy with bad English abilities was wrong.  It goes all the way to the New Mexico Supreme Court.

This week, the New Mexico state Supreme Court determined that it wasn't right to dismiss the guy on the grounds of bad English.  So they hinted that in the future in the state.....even if folks admit this upfront.....you can't dismiss them from jury duty.

Course, this gets you to pondering.

You could be arrested for a major crime, and get into court....to find that there's five Latinos and one Russian on the jury of twelve.  None are very good at English, and it's noted early on.

There's only two scenarios to play out here.  Scenario one is that everyone just winks at each other and the jury descends into chaos as they discuss the case after it's hand to them.  You are guaranteed a hung-jury, and it's the singular fault of the state justice system.

The second scenario is that you demand a translator to stand there and translate everything for the Latinos and the Russian.  Good translation or lousy translation?  Well, that would bring on this interesting scene where suddenly five Latino folks perk up and understand something totally different, or the Russian guy stops everything to say that his translator is speaking Russian with a French-accent.

I'm a worldly kind of traveler and know all the problems associated with getting into trouble in some foreign country.  You just don't do anything stupid to get into trouble while in France, or Italy, or Honduras.  If you do....you end up in their court system, and they don't really care about your language issues much.  The judge and jury will speak their language, and you might be lucky as the accused to have some translator providing you some help with what's said in court.  Beyond that.....you don't get any special favors.

The US is different.

A court episode could be some bold experiment.  A court room could be some opera where two or three languages are spoken.  A court could be where some attorney wins simply based on bold acting in front of a jury.  Sadly, it's not what you'd really expect in a republic.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

The Railway Topic

For about a week now in the local area here (Mainz)....there's not been any real train traffic flowing through the local train station.  The cause is rather comical and infuriating.

Every major railway station in Germany.....of significance....has a tower.  From this tower, there is a control room of sorts....kinda like an airport tower.  There's a couple of desks with four monitor screens and dozens of displays for one or two guys on duty.  Here in 2013, it's a fairly complicated process to bring two hundred to four hundred trains through a station on a daily basis....safely.  Then you add in anywhere from fifteen to fifty 'spurs' which bring traffic in, and the same number leading out.  Toss in weather, trains running off-schedule, broke-down trains.....and you've got a mess.

So the station is Mainz has been one of many....that underwent personnel downsizing over the past decade.  It's not clear how many controllers they had in 2013....but today....they run it with a total of fifteen controllers for a seven-day-a-week operation, from probably 5AM to midnight.

This episode over the past week developed because they had the right number by the recommendation of the HR folks, and summer vacation period dictates that people get a chance to take at least two weeks of leave.  Sadly, it appears that least three guys came up while the vacation guys were gone, and claimed sick-leave.  Statistically speaking, it's odd in winter that you'd have three guys claiming sick-leave, but you can't challenge the union guys on this.

The hostages?  There's probably ten to fifteen thousand folks from the Mainz region or outside of the region.....that depend on the train station to operate.  Students, workers, retirees, etc.  Everyone over the past week is frustrated because most have no plan "B".  People are openly asking how this is possibly in this day in age....to run a third-world train station?

With election talk in full turbo....this just added fuel to the fire.

But now, there's some worry that dozens of major cities in Germany are in the same boat.  They all downsized, and they all went by the HR recommended numbers.  So 2013 was just a wake-up call.  2014?  I would imagine the union guys have already calculated the sick-days necessary to bring the nation to its knees.  Somewhere between five and eight million Germans use the train system daily.

The curious thing.....even if they all agreed to hire up 2,000 new employees over the next twelve months across the nation's train stations as controllers.....it'd take roughly two or three years before they'd be truly certified and capable of running things on their own.  That's the technical side of this mess which everyone admits.....it's complicated, and you can't avoid all of the various gimmicks that are built into the system.

All of this brings me to this final observation.  Here is the world's most highly developed rail system.....urgently dependent on the fine art of engineers and brilliant men.....requiring the daily attention of the best-of-the-best controllers....and it can be taken down for days or weeks.....because of a lack of manpower.  It says alot about today's society, and where we've come in one hundred years.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Sometimes, Things Twist More Than You'd Expect

Normally, it'd be a Arlington story that went national, and then just ran out of steam after five days at the national level.  Air Force officer....heading up the Air Force office at the Pentagon over sexual assault.  Lt Col Jeff Krusinki....out drinking late at night in Arlington.....does some kinda pat on the butt of some gal in a bar parking lot.

It was a big deal nationally, and got tons of attention.  Just so terrible.....over and over....the journalists could not get enough of the episode.

Well....quietly (it won't be covered nationally now).....the Arlington charges have been changed.  They won't run sexual assault charges now.  Explanation....it's not exactly clear.  The local guys are only saying it's going to be assault charges only.  You could still get a year for that.....but it draws some questions why it can't be sexual assault.

Then, you start to notice a strange thing about the location of this parking lot.  There are a couple of bars within distance of this area where the 'event ' occurred.  One of them?  It's a cross-dresser gay bar.  Yeah, the kind of place where guys dress as women, drink, party, and have a good time.

So this has gotten some folks to wondering.  This woman who complained and called the cops on Lt Col Jeff Krusinski?  Was it a real woman or a fake woman?

If it's a fake woman....sexual assault charges in a Virginia court become awful hard to establish and prove.  Plain old assault?  Well....even fake women have their day in court over this.

But you have to grasp this....so far....no one has said it's a fake gal.  The national news folks?  Well, they'd prefer not to get into details like this.....because it spoils the original story they wrote.  And it's screwing up the agenda.

For the officer?  Well, it starts to be more of a mess if it was a fake woman, and it's best to start planning on some second career path.....maybe as a Sears manager, county agricultural agent, or dairy farmer.

The Other Eden

There was a piece over at Al.Com.....entitled: Alabama the Beautiful (by Magic City Writer) that caught my interest this morning.

Few people come to grasp this.  Bama actually ranks fifth in the nation....in species diversity.

Bama has over sixty types of terrestrial ecosystems.  It provides twenty-five forests to the nation.  It offers eleven wetlands.  It even offers up seven glades/prairies.  All of this, and over 75,000 miles of rivers, streams, and creeks.

Hunters would rattle off at least a hundred animals within the state that you could spend a Saturday afternoon looking for.

Fisherman would shed a tear as they described the dozens of fish that they've caught over the past thirty years.

A pine tree enthusiast would chatter for an hour over the various pines that you could see out in Limestone county.

A Bankhead Forest resident would need four hours to conclude his description of the local surroundings.

A Dolphin Island resident would drag out some digital notebook with fourteen thousand pictures of birds, fish, crabs, and weird creatures that they'd seen over their lifetime.

A farmer would sit and spend an entire afternoon at the local gas station noting the sixty-six different garden variety items that he's got growing this summer, and how proud he is over this year's successful pea crop.

On and on....even NASCAR freaks and NCAA football folks would pause and describe the abundance of diversity in nature within the borders of Bama.

Then, you'd come to some minister, who'd round this up in typical fashion.  Yes, it would be deserving of a Sunday sermon.....that Bama is in effect....the "other" Eden.  God blessed Bama....giving it more nature than a state really deserves.  God then directed animals to expand in abundance.  The end of the sermon?  We need to give thanks for such an Eden, and live our lives in appreciation.

Somewhere in the back of the church....some guy would be sitting there and pondering.  Eden ended up going off-track and spiraling out of control....once folks gave up their naive nature and got some bit of understanding of their surroundings.  It's best to just accept what you got, not brag too much, and hope heavily for a dynamic NCAA season.  In that case, we rank number one already, and don't need much discussion, or preaching.

A Stranger in a Strange Land II

One of the oddball things that I've come to notice about Germany.....being different from back in 2009.....is the amount of 'bio' crap that has descended down to the public.

Yesterday, we got the weekly grocery sales catalogs....around a dozen of them for various groceries in the local area.  Germans get all peppy about looking through them and there are various discounts that you could take advantage of.

Well....for one grocery....every single item that was on sale....roughly 150 of them....were bio-related.  Orange juice, wine, beer, beans, melons, apples, steak, pork, etc.

From the state-run TV networks, you get a mention of the positive nature of bio.....almost daily now.  The investigative guys have been turned loose and kindly note how non bio apples are produced with poisons.  Beef?  Produced with antibiotics. Same with pork, chicken, and turkey.  I've sat and watched various news episodes over the past month where they touted the wonderful world of living bio.

Course, they never explain that it's a minimum of ten percent more....sometimes even twenty percent more.....than the regular stuff.  And the amount that groceries keep on hand?  It's not unlimited.

You can see this shift in society.  The folks over sixty?  They don't care about this gimmick at all.  But the folks in the 25-to-40 year range with money?  There's probably fifty percent of this group of Germans who buy into this.

Last week, I watched a news clip of a German farmer whose grandfather once grew tobacco....naturally.  This guy has decided to return to his roots, use the family farmland left, and grow an entire crop of tobacco.....which they are currently harvesting.  It'll be months before it's dry and ready to sell.....but he's gone bio the entire way.  No pesticide or anything like that.  The tobacco will likely go to some company which markets it as a bio-cigarette.   With a regular pack of smokes (non-bio) running around $7, it'll shock me when this appears and likely runs at $8 as bio and thus "pure".  Would smokers be that stupid to buy bio-tobacco?  It's hard to say if they'd be that naive.

So, there was this title I gave to myself in Arlington....."a stranger in a strange land".

I've decided to give myself that title again.

And the possibility of me going bio?  Zero percent.  If non bio-things were that unhealthy for you.....you'd think that the government would jump up and stop the unhealthy business.  Well.....they haven't done that.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Those Sneaky Americans

We were devious plotters....from the very beginning.

We plotted to take down the banks of the world.

We plotted to bring crappy television shows to third-world republics.

We plotted to make the world's population addicted to our tobacco.

We plotted to hook everyone into the internet....eventually to spy on their every single move.

We plotted to commercialize pain-killers to such a degree, that people from around the world would become addicted to them.

We plotted to expand violence into entertainment.....so that that the world would be a terrible place to live in.

We plotted to expand out racism, and everyone is part of the overall strategy.

Yes, all of this.....and no one ever caught onto our master plan.

A Dead Topic

USA Today rarely goes out and does five-star old-fashioned journalism....with investigative reporting.  This week, they published one of the more fascinating articles of the year.

What they figured out after requesting information from the Federal Election Commission....was that dead Americans had contributed roughly $600,000 to candidates since 2009.  We are talking....absolutely dead, with a death certificate to prove so.

It was a nifty little article, with only one issue.  I would have liked to known their thinking, but the journalists can't really go back and ask these dead guys what they were thinking when they wrote the checks.

The odds here?  Most all of these were folks who got hyped up and wrote out some $100, or $3000 check to some candidate....Republican or Democrat....and died the next day.  They died via heat attacks, heat stroke, car accidents, chain-saw accidents, food poisoning, snake bite, drowning while fishing, or died under suspicious circumstances.

I should note here that USA Today says that roughly $250,000 of that money came to Democratic candidates, with the Libertarians safely in the second spot.  Dead Republican enthusiasts were the least likely to donate money.  What this says.....most dead Republicans just are plain stingy with their money, and it's better off spent in some other fashion.

Simply Observations

There was a travel association meeting this week in San Diego.  One of the topics that came out....was this wild suggestion of allowing you to buy half of the third-seat in a row.  Instead of making three guys fit into a very tight space....you'd have two guys sitting in an ample area.  The problem with the idea?  They said right off the bat....you'd have to pay fifty percent of what the seat currently costs.  The positive?  Well....if you had six rows on a plane that you converted to the two-seat scheme, then you'd have fewer passengers on the plane, thus less weight, and fewer bags (less weight too).  So the airline would save money, while making money.  The reaction by the airlines?  They didn't really want to touch the subject....thinking folks just won't pay fifty percent more for what amounts to a 75-minute flight between city A and city B.  To be honest, I suspect that half the public would be willing to stand for an entire flight of sixty minutes, and you could squeeze another extra sixty passengers onto a plane that normally carries 120 passengers.

The Pentagon has said that gay military couples have to be married....to get these military benefit packages.  So they've hustled up this deal....if you are gay and not married to your partner....they will give you (give is really stretched here) a 10-day pass to get married in a state that allows gay marriage.  Ten days.....free....to get married.  You can sense that some anti-gay folks will get frustrated with this deal.  Non-gays won't be offered the ten-day deal, and I'm guessing it will be noted at hundreds of staff meetings around the Air Force.  How many folks will run out to get married?  Maybe a hundred to two hundred couples.  I suspect some folks will review their arrangement and just not feel comfortable marrying their partner, preferring single-status.  And the number of divorces from this get married quick deal?  Well, it's best not to bring up this topic.

Zillow does real estate estimates as part of their gimmick.  So they took on the White House and say it's worth $319 million at the current real estate pricing. It's hard to say it's accurate or a fair value.  Some would say the White House is worth a billion.  Some would say it's worth $500,000 because of the neighborhood around it.

Jeff Bezos, after buying the Washington Post, has said in public comments that newspapers will generally all be dead in twenty years.  The only way they survive in his imagination....is digital form.  He may have a point, and maybe his intention of handling the weak Post's profit margin....is to dissolve it from paper print, and require everyone to get a subscription to get a copy.  He might also be able to move half of the journalists of the newspaper out of DC, and into some cheaper surroundings....like southern Virginia, to avoid some of the cost issues.

Finally, while I generally avoid discussing baseball topics....this Alex Rodriguez suspension announcement of the last couple of days....is a major episode.  He will sit and challenge baseball management over this, while still playing and collecting a pay-check.  My humble guess is that no real court decision will be handed down until April-May of 2014....a few weeks into next year's season.  It'll go against him, and the 200-odd game suspension will go into effect.  For the Yankees, it means picking out your replacement third-baseman by the end of spring training, and just have him sitting in AAA until X-day.  This new guy gets roughly 130 games of the 2014 season, and at least half the games of the 2015 season.  He will be a permanent asset of the team.  Rodriguez?  Well....how do you come back eighteen months later and play at any decent level?  The team will likely use him only as a DH, and he won't hit for any value.  Yet, the Yanks are stuck with this guy for 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018.  He may not make anything during the 200-odd game suspension but they have to still pay him for the remaining years.  The big loss here?  I'm guessing Alex has a hefty monthly allowance and living cost situation, and he's probably not prepared for eighteen months with nothing coming in.  His agent?  Same deal.....he was likely getting five-to-ten percent of Alex's monthly income.  If you had to pick a major-league with player with zero value and five years of remaining contract.....this guy is the 'king'.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Detroit Math

In public information....the city of Detroit will admit that they have around 2,030 cops hired for the city.  But the city also admits.....that roughly only one-third of this group....actually patrols the city....day and night.

So you sit and do the math here.

Roughly 630 guys are around, doing day, night, and weekend duty.  At any one time....there might be one hundred cops moving around the city.  I doubt if there's more than eighty to a hundred guys actually on patrol at night.

The remaining 1,400 guys?  Well, that's not clear.

Some are likely detectives.  Some are management.  Some are HR.  Some are payroll clerks.  Some are jail management folks.  Some are doing duty at the city hall.  Some are pulling hours over at various schools.

The problem with this math equation for Detroit....is that half of these 1,400 'other' folks....probably aren't doing anything worth discussion.  They attend meetings, check up on new cops, and spend time talking to the city council.

For years and years....New Orleans had fake cops on the force, and checks going out monthly.  For some reason, I have the feeling that Detroit has the same issue.

The Norwegian Story

Back in July 2011.....Norwegians went through a mass killing with Anders Breivik....seventy-seven folks dead....the vast majority being teenagers at a island retreat for a particular political party.  The intent of the murders?  Breivik claims he took out an entire generation of this dominant political party, and that the country will drift to the right in the coming years.

The competency of Breivik?  That was challenged, and he passed every single evaluation with flying colors.

The cops quickly took possession of the guy, and the country went through a one-year process of a court case.  The most they could give him?  Twenty-one years.  Justice was served as best as the law is written.  The judge did one slap on the hands of the guy in the end.....no use of the internet for the twenty-one years.

This week, Breivik has sent an application form to the University of Oslo.  There's a bit of anxiety over this.  Some Norwegians don't want him to have access to public resources.  Some don't want him to have any public view.

For the university, it's an odd problem.  They have encountered jail requests in the past, and worked around the issues by using internet access and having an occasional visit by an instructor.  In this case, someone would have to approach the court and have the lack of internet access revoked.  I'm taking a humble guess here that no one with the university cares to challenge or force a change to the judge's order.

What would he study?  Breivik hasn't indicated that part of the deal.

Normally, the public doesn't ever challenge who should or shouldn't go onto university in Norway.  Some comments in the press indicate that people have a particular opinion in this case that such resources used for Breivik....would be a total waste.  In the end, I suspect they have to allow him access to the internet, and maybe that was the original intent of pushing for a university application.

The Fake Burger

I sat and watched through several business news episodes yesterday.....dealing with this discovery of the ability to grow "hamburgers" in a lab.  Yes, scientists have reached the point where they can brew up a hamburger of sorts.....in a dish.  I was surprised that the business channel folks put this in their top ten items to cover....but more surprised how many vegetarians they brought out.....to convey the end of the beef era was just around the corner.

I'm not really buying into the lab-grown burger.  They can talk about taste and content all they want....but it's not real beef.

Some company will buy into this concept.....get a real name for the fake burger.....and try to market it at places like Burger King or McDonalds.  My gut feeling is that maybe fifty percent of the public will at least try the burger on one occasion.  And they might be lucky to get one out of ten to give up real burgers and accept the lab burger.  The rest?  They just won't buy into it as a replacement item.

For the vegetarian crowd.....I'm often amazed at how far they extend themselves to condemn beef.  They will even use global warming on occasion, which makes their argument more comical than serious.  If you want that lifestyle, or your health demands that process......fine.  I don't have a problem if a guy wants to limit himself in some way.  The minute that you want to drag me over.....you've crossed a line.

As for the advancement of the fake burger?  By 2020, my prediction....it'll be at some fast food operation and offered in the range of five bucks.  The sad thing?  You will have to put fat into the fake burger....to get most people to enjoy the taste, and that kinda defeats the whole purpose.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Newspapers Aren't the Only Ones Dying Off

It was what you'd expect.

First, NBC came out and said they'd put up a Hillary Clinton mini-series.  The logic for this?  It's hard to say, except whatever they put on the screen will be deemed absolute fact from that point on.  Whether true or not.....people see televised scripting as absolute truth.

Then came CNN.  They were going to put together a theater-like history show, which would actually hit the theaters first, and then be used for CNN's own network.  I admit.....it's an odd business to develop....with zero potential for profit.  But it would appear that they don't care much for the profit side anyway.

So now comes the Republican national leadership.  They've said if both don't back down from this gimmick.....then they get frozen out of the Republican debates, and the final debates of 2016.  No NBC or CNN reporters would be able to run the debates.

As of this morning.....both have indicated they are going full-speed ahead.  They don't believe the Republican threat is a big deal and will not be exercised.  For some odd reason, I think it will be happening.

I'd also ponder upon the idea that a fair segment of society will identify both CNN and NBC as political tools.....more than a television network or news network.  Loss of viewership over the next three years?  Yes.  Both will complain by the spring of 2016 about lack of profits and loss of dedicated viewers.  Both appear to think they can sustain themselves.  In the end....they will both weaken themselves to such an extent.....that a Chinese company can easily waltz in and buy them for a quarter of their current value today.

For some reason, I'd start to put networks into the same category as newspapers and magazines (Time, Newsweek, etc).  They stand a chance of dying off because of public sentiment.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Bama Jed and the Oil

Sooner or later, you knew it was going to happen.

The oil sands folks  have come to say that some parts of Alabama might have the potential to pay off.  Big-time, would be an appropriate word to use.

The primary areas?  Colbert, Franklin and Lawrence counties.

The amount?  Well....the experts hint at 7.5 billion barrels of crude oil.

So you start to add this up.  You need to find it....which pays out cash to technology smart folks.  Then you need to get to it....which means equipment and man-hours.  Then you need to pump it via a contract from the land-owner.  Toss in state tax revenue....food and lodging....and political pay-offs, and you've got a ton of money somewhere down the line.

Naturally, environmental groups are upset.....saying this is all unnecessary, and certainly has potential to be dangerous (riding a horse and smoking....are also dangerous).  As for being unnecessary?  Well.....there's tons of oil off in the Middle East, so we ought to use up all their stuff before we use ours (it's a sad logic, but it's what you get after four years of environmental science at some NCAA school more famous for football than science).

You can predict the situation.  Some folks with 300 acre farms will be approached and get hostile over someone wanting to pump off their property.  Fine, says the oil guy, and he goes thirty feet over to the next land owner.....who readily agrees.  Two years later, that land owner has $500,000 from his oil deal, and might even clear another $500,000 before they move on.  The first guy is sitting there....mostly peeved....angry at his neighbor....and questioning the clean nature of his environment every single day.

As for the pot of money coming down?  Everyone....from county commissions, to mayors, to school boards, and the state governor.....will all get a chunk of the money.  A kid can finish high school....get hired to pump crude....and retire by age 45 if he manages his money the right way.

Yeah, the golden goose has arrived, and some Bama folks are going to live on the high side of life for the next forty years.  They waited patiently and the good Lord will reward them.  If someone had predicted this forty years ago....folks would have just laughed.  Now?  It's kinda like a Bama version of the Beverly Hillbillies, with Jed likely to go off to Orange Beach....getting season tickets to Bama games....owning a fancy BMW....marrying up with a New York City honky-tonk gal, and drinking only Evian Water from the glaciers of France.

Pamplona-American Style

When I was a kid.....growing up in Bama....I would sit and watch the evening news....usually with CBS.  One evening, they had an international piece on, with the Pamplona bull run.  I was probably eight years old and fairly fascinated with the episode.

Course, as the years went by....I also ran with the steers.  Once a year on the farm, you'd have vaccination day, and I'd have the task as the 'runner' to chase the steers down the chute area.  Ninety percent of the time....things went well.  Usually out of forty steers....you'd always have three that did something you didn't expect.....turn, and chase you down.  It was the Pamplona-effect.  The thrill of the unexpected.  Kinda like going to a NASCAR race, or some WWE-wrestling event.

Over the years, I've continued to watch the reports of Pamplona bull runs, and been kinda interested.  Even up until the late 1990s....I had this curious idea of going down to Spain and at least watching.  Participation?  Well....yeah, I probably had some interest in being stupid like the rest of them.  These days, I'd probably just like to have a rooftop position and watch from a distance.

This week....reports came out via the news that there's going to be some bull runs in the US, starting out in Richmond, VA.  Atlanta will have one a few weeks after that.  Several other runs will follow after that.  To note with interest.....none are schedule in Bama yet.

Legal?  Well.....presently, there's no laws against it.  I'm guessing dozens of animal-rights folks are working hard to stop each one of these.  The courts will be reviewing paperwork and trying to determine if there is some piece of the Constitution or state laws affected.

I imagine it will catch on....although some states will make anti-bull run laws.  In fact, I'd say that California and New York will quickly move on this and have such a law in effect by the end of November.

It'll continue on.....maybe even become a reality TV series.  I could see some washed-up TV stars coming out.....doing a bull-run with some sluggish bulls.  It might be worth watching if this were some former WWE-wrestlers doing the bullrun.

The Pamplona folks will claim this is all fake and that only real bull running occurs in Spain.....this American stuff is just fake wussy stuff.

It's hard to say where this goes....except a bunch of guys will be looking around the south for some really tough mean steers, and some cattle guys have got the perfect steer to sell them.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

The New "Home" Folks

The statistics folks have been busy.  They say that there are 21 million Americans....of adult age....living with their parents.  The perception is that they finished high school....maybe finished college....and success has not be attained yet (meaning: they just don't have a job capable of paying for an apartment, or they really screwed up and got heavily into debt).

Yeah, these are the guys who spent two years at the community college studying acting, and owe $22,000 on tuition.  These are the ladies who spent four years at some private college studying French literature, and owe $72,000.  These are the guys who discovered the best job they could get after four years....was chief of a shift at some car rental place at the airport.  These are the young ladies who drifted around and wasted three years of college, then quit, and now work twenty hours a week at JC Pennys.

It's hard to say if this is such a bad thing or not.  At least the parents are giving them a roof over their heads.  They get two square meals a day.  There's always advice to be given by dad, or cooking instructions by mom.  There's likely a master mechanics garage set up by dad to help with minor car repairs.  And if the toilet is broke....you don't have to argue with landlord.

The news media perception?  It'll be curious.  They probably can only see it as a negative thing....telling of the various woes involved in this.  I'm guessing various experts will appear on CNN to tell of the mess that this creates in life.  Oprah might even dedicate an entire week with folks who fell into this 'pit'.

The funny thing is that this used to be the norm....say fifty to seventy years ago.  We seem to have forgotten that part of the story.

Friday, 2 August 2013

The Snowden Deal

It would appear the deal with Edward Snowden is set into motion.  He gets a pass of some sorts.....that allows him to travel around Russia.  The expiration?  Well.....based on some newspaper accounts, it's a one-year deal.  What does Russia expect?  He probably has to be somewhat quiet and not draw attention....at least unless they tell him to talk.

The Russians will quietly get a fair amount of knowledge over the next year of US operations and how the network apparatus of NSA works.  I doubt if Snowden will grasp he's being interrogated.

The US?  Well....furious.....but they've been on the negative side of Russia for the past four years and I don't see much improving.

The curious part to this whole mess is that Snowden can screw up on any given day, and be part into some Russian prison with flimsy charges.  Putin could acknowledge that there's nothing else to be gained, and just lock the guy up.

So my advice to the dimwit.....you'd best enjoy a week or two outside of the airport, and then start looking for somewhere else to hide out.  Maybe Poland, maybe Finland, maybe even Germany.  The longer you stay in Russia.....the more risks that get involved in this whole unplanned mess.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Phony

Phony scandals?

Phony politics.

Phony economics.

Phony journalism.

Phony airport security.

Phony national budget.

Phony immigration reform.

Phony Republicans.

Phony Democrats.

Phony Tea Party players.

Phony international policy.

Phony sequestration.

Phony racism.

Phony speeches.

Phony TV entertainment.

Phony doctors.

Phony news media experts.

Phony newspapers.

Phony car advertisements.

Phony store sales.

Phony health reports.

Phony global warming.

Phony global cooling.

Phony history shows.

Phony reality shows.

Phony Senators.

Phony 100-percent beef.

Phony beer.

Phony White House press spokesman.

Phony car mileage.

Phony college education.

Phony professors.

Phony TV ministers.

Phony is phony, and after a while.....you get used to it.  And then you accept it without any questions.


The Gitmo Story

This  is one of those oddball stories that you simply have to ponder.

The Al-Qaida guys have been watching for a while over the Gitmo business and this recent prison hunger strike episode.

This week, Al-Qaida has finally said that they just might take actions to free their buddies.

The odds?  Well....Cuba is a bit difficult to imagine a number of jihad guys arriving and carrying out some mission.

You'd have to land on the American installation with adequate forces.....probably at least a hundred....run through base, and somehow get to the prison complex.  All the while.....facing US Marines....armed Marines.

One could imagine a movie script to cover this, but an actual operation?  I'm guessing it'd be mostly unsuccessful, with no prisoner making it to freedom, and a fair number of the Al-Qaida guys dying in the process.  Course, this would scare the administration greatly, and Congress would call for meetings to discuss if it's safe to maintain the current complex.

One can only hope it's all talk, and no real substance.