Monday, 30 September 2013

Logical Questions

Which bothers you more?  A government shut-down or a NCAA football season shut-down?

If you were in dire consequences, who would be more helpful to you.....your next-door neighbor or some Senator from a thousand miles away?

If you were awful bad sick and needed to stay on the couch all day....would you prefer to watch CNN the entire day, or sixteen episodes of Bonanza?

Who is a better salesman.....your local Ford dealer or your local Senator?

If Facebook disappeared tomorrow....would it really bother you?

Would you be more disturbed over a septic-tank failure or government-failure?

Is there any real difference between the cheap McDonalds coffee and Starbucks coffee?

If Amtrak ran a new line that came with ten miles of your house....would it influence you to suddenly start riding the train....even if you've never ridden the train in your entire life?

If you knew that thirty percent of the folks on a Greyhound bus had warrants out on them, or recently wrapped up drug rehab....would it deter you from riding the bus?

Is there any TV minister who really is legit, honest, and wholesome?

Can you remember any episode of Mr Ed (the talking horse) that really made sense or was worth watching?

Would it bother you if your Mennonite neighbor came up and wanted to secretly run an electrical line across your property to the back of his house and secretly get electricity?

Which would you prefer as a neighbor?  A meth guy, a Italian mafia guy, an Iranian bio-tomato farmer, or a lusty gal who mowed the lawn in a halter top that was two sizes too small?

If Cuban hospitals charged fees that were twenty percent of what the regular US hospitals were charging.....would you be willing to fly down and have stuff done?

If the entire staff of the Today Show were dumb as bricks....would that really deter you from watching them?

Does anything that happens in Syria really bother you?

Sunday, 29 September 2013

NSA: We'd Like to Know You

Yesterday, another dump from Ed Snowden occurred over NSA.

Basically, the boys have been busy over the past three years....gleaning your data from social networks and a vast forest of data available to them.

This collection of info?  Well, it includes your banking information, your credit card info and usage, insurance of various varieties (to include the new heathcare deal), your Facebook profile, travel information (airline manifests, ship listings, entry and exits), state voting rolls, GPS data, property ownership and taxes, and your general federal, state and local tax situation.

So you can imagine Gus sitting at NSA on a project, and somehow your name comes up on a airline manifest on six occasions.....where Muhammad V Muhammad was also on the same plane.  The odds of this?  Usually....one in a million.  You were traveling to visit your buddy in Sarasota Springs who has a fancy upscale house and a membership at a four-star golf resort.  You and him golf several times a year.

Gus looks over this odd event....you and Muhammad V Muhammad on the same plane six times in one year.  Gus doesn't believe in one in a million odds.

So Gus starts to look over the twenty-five different databases that he can access.  Then he gets authorization to breeze through your high school records, your university records, and even your purchases at Randy's Gun Emporium last year.

A month into this....Gus has decided that you might have some  real connection to this Muslim guy....mostly off no real convincing data.  An investigation now starts....four FBI guys on your trail....watching you as days come and go.

They follow you to Sarasota and view the golf game.  They note your drinking habits, and eventually....there's a four-hundred page document produced of their efforts.  Deep into the gut of the document.....it's revealed that you always sat in row two of the plane (first class), and Muhammad V Muhammad always sat mostly in the back.

Finally, some dimwit manager at the FBI stands up and asks three stupid questions....which Gus can't answer, and the FBI guys know the obvious response.  There's nothing here.....drop the mess.

What you don't realize for the next twenty years....is that you came awful close to some federal guys walking into your house with a search warrant, and possibly arresting you....over the NSA's view of reality.

The government?  They've wasted around $250,000 in man-hours checking you out.....to find that you golf a lot, spend tons of money on airline tickets, and vote mostly Democrat.  They also find that you sip cheap booze, have six fake Facebook friends from Angola, get $9 haircuts via Marty's barbershop, drive a Chevy that is in the shop every six months, dye your hair on a monthly basis, have a secret girlfriend in Tupelo who you buy chocolate every month for, and watch Fox News.

Who invented this new gimmick of NSA?  Don't know.  Who thinks it's a wise idea to go this way?  There's probably a hundred dimwits who would appear in the Senate chambers to say it's perfectly ok.
Sadly.....NSA probably even has a guy who reads my blog nightly, and makes notes.  There's a database to note topics and agendas.  And the guy even gets paid for this.

Westgate Mall and the Rest of the Story

The rest of the story on the Kenya Westgate Mall episode will start to fall into the hands of US news media folks by Sunday afternoon.

What you will come to find?  The Muslims in this attack.....knifed and killed kids.   They gouged eyes out of people.  They used pliers to pull fingers off.  They castrated guys at gun-point.  They tortured dozens as they sat for their end.  Their leader finished off his buddies at the right point, then burned their buddies so that no recognition would be possible.

Kenyan soldiers and cops who have come into the affected zone.....are mostly overcome by the brutal nature of what they see.  I would imagine most will be affected for the rest of their lives.  No explanation can fit to what the human would accept.

Journalists will have a hard time putting any spin on this story.  I suspect most people will come to this view that no one in the Muslim religion is really innocent on this business.

As for the Kenyan reaction?  They are going to quietly go over the mess, gather evidence, and a month from now....likely present it in a public forum.  Muslim leaders will just gaze away.  There's not much anyone can say except some folks died miserable deaths....long-tortured deaths.....and some kids were killed in the name of some fake Muslim God and agenda.

Kenyans will look over this for a while, and quietly....eyeball the affected areas of Somalia where these Muslim groups operate out of.  Several African countries will simply look the other way, as Kenyan forces march through in early 2014, and gut entire communities of Muslims.  You either move on or you die at the hands of a Kenyan soldier.  The UN will blast this attitude.....but no one else in Africa will say much of anything.

The reality is that a cult group has extended themselves around the world....allowed dimwits to take charge, and execute innocent humans, in the name of some fake Islamic God.  

Saturday, 28 September 2013

The President and Senator Cruz

Over the past week....watching this Dallas-style soap opera unfold in DC....one gets the impression that most normal business and expectations....have simply disappeared.

The news media acts more like cheerleaders and used-car dealers....than actual journalists.  You could sit for twelve hours a day, and get two hundred doses of someone's opinion.....mostly which goes to the direction or theme of the Administration.

I came to some point last week after watching talk-show host Mark Levin explain 'French Republicans'.....basically guys who talk Republican, act Republican, walk Republican....but at the end of the day....support the Democratic themes.  I could rattle off six Republican Senators whose behavior is like that on a weekly basis.

This week, Senator Cruz came along and shocked folks in the heartland.  He debates better than ninety-nine percent of the Senators, and there might only be five journalists capable of standing in a debate with him.  The President?  A debate situation between will never happen, but you'd sense that the President would really fall apart on his key theme issues.

Some 'French Republicans' are furious that Cruz suddenly arrived at the peak....after only two years, and he's not showing them respect.  The truth is....they lost their respect a decade or two ago.....and can't really stand in the shadow of Cruz.

2016?  I'd fully expect some Democrat to arrive after the primary season and get all kinds of help from out-going President Obama for the election season.  Cruz is probably already expecting that, and preparing to encourage the President to come and debate him....face to face.  For the Democrats....it's not the kind of clean mess that you'd like to see approaching a presidential election.

This next week?  More loss of respect....more bogus talk from the Administration....more French Republicans chatting like idiots.....more journalism bluffs....and Americans mostly shaking their heads and wondering if there's any end to this soap opera.

Friday, 27 September 2013

TV in 2013

The state of TV entertainment in America....is a curious thing to ponder upon.

Resurrection?  A new series that runs along a Lost-scenario of some folks returning to one town in Missouri....long after they were supposed to be dead.  It's asking the viewers to jump on and just imagine a bunch of things.....with no regard to reality.

Breaking Badly?  A TV show on meth guys.  Yeah....you can simply imagine being in a room, or apartment, or garage, or trailer....with a couple of meth guys.  It's asking viewers to accept them....trust them....then distrust them....feel sorry for them....then hate them.

The Colbert Report?  Basically a fake Democrat pretending to be a fake journalist, then pretending to be a fake Republican.  And this is entertainment?  Or is it reality?

Two Broke Girls?  Two dimwits do waitress duty, whine about it and their lack of success, and never attempt to step up a notch or move on.  They are happy....for the rest of their lives....being cheap waitress employed.

Sleepy Hollow?  This piece where a guy who was supposed to be dead for two hundred years....has returned, and some other voo-doo or black magic or ghosts return with him.  You kinda sense after a while that you'd wished that George Washington would have returned too....and beaten the crap out of the TV producers.

Modern Family?  Trying to fit into some cookie cutter image of some burb region of America....Latinos, dimwitted American guys, gays, losers, and such.  You end up watching because there's not much else on and you keep wondering if some meth dealer or Jehovah's Witness guy will show up one day at the door of one of these idiot families.

Chicago Fire?  Houses, apartments, buildings, cars....all on fire, and a bunch of soap-opera actors having romance, lust, and chaos in their lives as they battle fires.  It's hard to figure the audience and why they return weekly....except to watch fires.

Duck Dynasty?  Basically a couple of southern guys who just walk around and state the obvious.  The producers realized that there's a thousand observations of wisdom handed out per day, and the audience falls all over themselves to get a brief moment of real life....with wisdom....and common sense.

If folks were wondering why cable TV, Amish Mafia, and Gold Rush were so successful....just look around.  The lousy nature of TV today....is begging for more choices.

Legends of a Marginal Nature

I noticed off Yahoo News today that someone had sat down and pondered upon the remaining three years of the Administration, and how it might still 'float' with positives.  There were nine scenarios put up on the board.  Then the writer wrote the reality of each, and most all of the scenarios failed in some way.

Foreign policy isn't going the way to give the President any legendary status after 2016.

So far, the economic recovery isn't anything much to brag about.  The DOW may look great and bank failures may have slowed....but jobs aren't coming back.

Obama Care?  As is, without any significant changes.....it's more of a bumpy ride with marginal success tied to it.  Maybe it could serve as a legend vehicle....but only if changes were enacted along the way.  It's hard to envision that with the current House and Senate.

The speeches?  They've come and gone.  Somewhere at the end of the first year....the four-star speeches spiraled off and you mostly get some gimmick two-star speech from the President these days.  No one is going to quote these or remember these in a decade.

Crisis management?  It's best not to bring this up or even pretend it's a legend piece of the puzzle.

Peace-maker?  The Noble Prize was for nothing....less we ever forget the generous nature of the Noble dimwits.  There's not much to talk about....unless you got all peppy about great new relations with the Muslims of the world, and pretended that we were in hog-heaven.

In the end, we have a Bush II-era.  Our expectations were great, but marginally ever met.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

A Beer Thought

It's the only business in America that can now claim to be better than where it was in 1890.

Yes, we've restored the American brewery to the status that it once enjoyed.  In the late 1970s....we were down to double-digits.

Thanks to hobby brewers and enthusiasts....every significant town in America likely has one brewery.  Folks might not brag much on it, but they sell beer.

So, it makes you pause and ponder.  What happens in twenty years?  Another thousand brewery operations?  And are the big guys like Pabst and Coors suffering because of the flood of mini-brews?  

Owning a Car in America

It's an odd chart, produced by the Energy Department.  It's hard to say what their agenda was to assemble this data.....but it's statistics over fifty years of car ownership in America.

Basically, in 1960.....roughly twenty percent of the population did not own a vehicle.  Most families owned one car, and it was hard to find any family in America in 1960 that had three cars.

Today?  Almost twenty percent of the households in America have three cars.  Barely ten percent of American households....own no car.

Some guys would readily say that they do have three vehicles....but one is a forty-year old car that they keep in the garage and only drive in the summer months for pleasure.  Some will tell you that they own a 1978 Ford F-150 that sits in a shed, and is the third vehicle....only to be used to check cows, pick up stuff at Co-Op, or to train the 15-year old daughter on proper driving procedures.

American society over the last fifty years has radically changed in terms of vehicle usage.  If you drive sixty miles to work each day......you drive a Honda, Toyota or a non-gas hog vehicle.  The days of a guy driving a 15-mpg vehicle are just about gone.

What's the intention of the statistics?  I'd make a humble guess that it leads to some idiot assuming that there are too many vehicles in each household and that a new tax needs to be implemented.....to stop that terrible practice.  Some Senator will come along and talk of the unfair nature of car ownership, and how folks need to change their habits.

What the numbers didn't say....is how many folks own four and five vehicles.....in 2013.  That might shock a few folks.

Greeks and Politics

This is one of those odd stories that take a minute or two to explain.

I spent a week in Corfu, and came to note a number of posters and signs around town.  One of them....was a 'stop fascism' poster.  Some big meeting being held one afternoon with the anti fascism folks in town.

What you tend to learn about Greek politics.....if you aren't socialist in nature....then you get labeled fascist in nature.  It's a silly game, and rarely truthful in nature....but it's the way that politics work in Greece.

Even if you are moderate socialist....you might get a fascist label attached to you by the extreme socialists.

So over the past couple of days....this event unfolded one evening in Greece where some socialist hip-hop singer (yeah, they even have hip-hop there)....got into some hot debate with a Golden Dawn political activist.

Golden Dawn is this group of Greek political folks....who lean an awful lot toward the old German Nationalist Socialist (yeah, the Nazis).  For practical purposes, they were socialists....but of an extreme variety.

This street meeting between the two extremes....ended badly, with the hip-hop singer dead from a knife wound.  It's up to debate now if the knife belonged to the Golden Dawn guy or the hip-hop guy.....and if this was simply fueled by two guys acting crazy on the street.

Naturally, this all leads to street riots, hip-hop artists going into political rage over the New Dawn folks, and a national discussion underway.  The dead hip-hop guy? Killah P.  If you'd gone throughout Greece a month ago....you would have been lucky to find one-percent of the population that might have heard of the guy.

Stories like this.....you can't make up....Nazi guy getting into argument and killing some hip-hop guy.

Greece has a history of oddball events like this.

In the late 1960s....a military coup came up in Greece, and some fairly negative events occurred.  It was for all practical purposes....a police state.  Books and movies would be made over the episode, but rarely told a complete picture.

On one side street of Corfu City....there is this statue of Kostas Georgakis....student, dead from suicide in 1970.

There's not much of an explanation on the statue....this Georgakis guy gets a can of gas and lights himself up at an Italian university.

So you dig into the story.  His folks sent him away to Italy during this period....paying out of their pocket a fair sum of money to attend an Italian school.

It came to pass that Kostas realized that the coup leaders back in Greece....had set up a spy operation in Italy.....at the university there....and were actively spying on Greek students there.  They were more or less going to ensure that no one said anything much in public.....no matter where they went or how far they escaped from Greece.

Pressure was applied to the kid, and he finally went off and killed himself in a public episode.

What happened over the next two years is a curious thing.  The story gets picked up and made into a movie.  Various articles appear in Europe and the US....making the junta-government of Greece look like idiots. By 1973....the Army decides that the political figures that they helped to install....were more of a problem than the previous government.  Arrests occurred, and Greece reverted back to a difficult but honorable democracy.

The statue of the student is rather simple, and is one of the statues in Corfu city that is known by just about everybody.  He's not a national hero....but more like a national victim.  Tourists walk by the statue....it's an odd piece....a young guy crouching.....not the usual stand that most folks prepare a statue for public viewing.

Politics revolve around an odd world in Greece.  I imagine in a dozen years.....someone will unveil a statue for this hip-hop artist.  Folks will shake their heads, but some legend will be written up, and maybe even a movie made on this Greek hip-hop guy killed by some Greek Nazi.

Dressing Up

I'm not much for fancy clothing or designer stuff....mostly because I'm from Bama.  A guy grows up in simpler surroundings, and feels like an idiot if he were to buy a $100 shirt, or a $300-pair of Italian shoes.

I went off to Corfu and one of the odd things that I allowed myself to buy...was some rip-off fake Hugo Boss belt.  At fancy stores in DC....this would have been $50.  I bought this Chinese-made Hugo Boss-man belt for five Euro ($6 roughly).

Course, I was sitting there on the plane and flying back into Frankfurt with the belt on....when this odd thought hit me.....what if the German customs guys stand there at the baggage area and note my fake belt?  I would feel pretty idiot trying to explain my fake but expensive-looking belt to the customs guy.  So for around an hour there....as I'm going through the airport, and getting finally to the luggage area....I've got these worry issues.  Nothing happened and I proceeded on.

To be honest, I've come to realize after two weeks that this is an awful cheap belt and I doubt that it last a year.  But for a couple of bucks, I guess it's worth it.

A Bama guy in a Hugo Boss belt but cheap Wal-Mart jeans?  Yeah, it just doesn't match up.

Monday, 23 September 2013

The Issue of Use

I sometimes go back and read newspapers from a year or two....sometimes even ten years ago.  There's always an interesting article or two that you come across.

The Telegraph (a British newspaper) picked up on some analysis by the European Tissue Symposium (the guys in the EU who study toilet paper usage).

They've come to this interesting conclusion.  Brits are the heavyweight user of toilet paper....of the world.

The typical average British guy is using thirty-nine pounds of toilet paper each year....which ends up being double the normal average of a European....and even twenty-five times that of a Ukrainian guy.

Americans?  Well, we average around thirty-five pounds of toilet paper a year.

Is there really a story here?  It's hard to say.  Brits might have a hearty diet and need more paper than the average guy.  These Ukrainian guys?  Maybe they sit long there a long time and only go every thirty-six hours to the toilet.

Why collect data like this?  That's the problem with modern society....we collect data on just about everything.  We know that folks throw pencils away after they've used up only a quarter of the length of the pencil.  We know that folks typically buy gum at the gas station after they see the gum display at the cashier stand.  We know that "XXL" usually sells better than items marked "XL".

So you know who uses toilet paper more, and who uses it less.  And?

Sunday, 22 September 2013

The Inner-Earth Club

Ever since the Greek and Roman eras....there's been this mythical story passed around, which kinda fell into the same pattern as global warming and climate change.

The story focused on the 'inner-Earth'.  Basically....through a hidden entry point at the top of the world and at the bottom of the world.....you'd find Agharta.

The story progressed over the 1600s and 1700s.  At one point, there's an Italian who publishes a five-volume set (over 1,800 pages) of some true-life adventure of some brother and sister who wandered off into inner-Earth.  Folks bought into this....paid for the book.....found other friends who got into the story.....and would talk excessively about this hidden world.  Fake, but true, would be the perceived outcome.

In the 1800s, the folks who knew how to package the story continued on....making up fake maps which they'd sell at fake lectures.  You'd have the 'team' arrive in some town....post notices of a presentation....with a entry fee.  You'd pay and hear some guy talk for an hour or two, then offer up books or maps as your evidence to take home.  It's safe to say that few would show up to challenge the fake talkers.

Most of the Hollow-Earth Society wrapped up the game in the 1920s.  You could blame the depression era for taking cash flow out of the game, or just a lack of belief in the stuff....but Hollow-Earth came to a quiet ending by 1950s.

The number of Americans in the late 1800s who believed in this?  This is a curious thing, which you have no real idea.  Any sizeable town would have a visit by a 'talker' at least once a year.  A lot of guys would collect the maps and post them in the sitting room of the house.  Neighbors would come by, and an active discussion would take place.....over the fake inner Earth.

What gave the Hollow-Earth folks substance?  There's no other club running around to debate or dispute it.  Everything involved science or the unknown....so you had a vast number of the public that simply skipped over science in school, and had no idea of how to question the unknown.  Believing in the unknown....was easier than believing in the known.....a sad fact of life.

Comparable to global warming?  Yeah.  Statistics and charts are made for public consumption....with some cherry-picked data.  It's free for the public.....but with an agenda tied to it later.....society flips itself over at the call of some agenda crowd.

The sales job?  Instead of some 'talkers' going around in the 1800s and staging a fact session for public fees.....now, you get the story brought freely into your house on TV, in some publication, or via some college professor or dimwit who claims they have a degree.  The key to the new talkers?  They absolutely do not like or allow debate.  Why challenge fact?  Of course,  you could ask the same of flat-Earth society from the 1400s, which the Catholic Church strongly endorsed.  The Pope and his staff were wrong, but they tend to be wrong on a lot of things.  Why challenge facts?

Strangely enough, the Hollow-Earth philosophy survives on today.  Bigfoot is supposed to be part of the legend....along with a secret UFO base.....and aliens who quietly live in a big urban underworld.  There's probably a hundred thousand Americans who believe in this.  Books are sold, and talkers go around to pump up their base of believers.

As far as we've advanced in two thousand years.....it's hard to say if we've moved six inches on the naive scale of life.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

The Banana Republic Speech

“This is the United States of America.  We’re not some banana republic, this is not a deadbeat nation, we don’t run out on our tab.  We can't just not pay our bills."

-- President Obama at a Ford plant operation in Liberty, MO

For roughly three years, the President's theme speeches have spiraled downward.  It's hard to say if they let go of the four-star writer, if they ran out of four-star material, or just thought to revert to average speeches.

We are at some point where people doubt the government in general.  They don't believe the promises.  They don't believe campaign platforms.  They don't believe honorable men who sit in the Senate. They don't believe journalists.  They don't believe judges, lawyers, or tax-men.

A banana republic?  Unless you've lived in one....you really don't know or understand the way that they work.  Banana republics usually promise you everything, and rarely deliver more than ten percent of what they promised.

Banana republics tend to be corrupt, from the mightiest office, all the way down to the local dog-catcher.

Banana republics set fake costs onto products, to help the discontented folks at the bottom.  A roll of toilet paper would be a nickel each, but a bottle of whiskey would be $25 (even the cheap $9 bottles of Jim Beam).

Banana republics give out hand-outs.  You show up at some corner on Saturday morning and a government guy arrives to give  you a grocery bag with a bottle of cooking oil, a small package of sugar, a box of condoms, a six-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon, and some cheap apple jelly.  For this, you are appreciative and shake the guy's hand.

Banana republics stage prices for gas.  You can have cheap gas, but only four gallons a week.  So you tend to buy black market gas for $5 a gallon to make up the rest of your weekly requirements.

Banana republics provide free phone service.  Got a bad line?  Well....there's no service for that.  You just accept the bad line as part of the free service.

Banana republics tax luxury items to the extreme....not a mere six-to-eight percent.....but more likely to be twenty-to-thirty percent.

Banana republics pay their service employees (fire men, cops, street cleaners, etc) low wages....until they strike, and then they offer a one-time bonus that really makes everyone happen with a giant check. Then, things go back to the norm with low pay.

Banana republics have political figures who typically spend a lot of time on TV and the radio.  They talk on and on about the newest trend, the newest problem, the newest solution, and the newest corruption.  There's never a shortage of topics for them to appear and talk.

Banana republics tend to have lousy journalists who never do investigative reporting.  They usually like traffic accidents with fatalities or chicken-trucks that have overturned.  Front page stories usually discuss the terrible greed in the republic, the terrific sins of the rich, the woeful stories of the poor, and the sorry state of public streets.

Banana republics have banks that stay mostly empty.  There's no cash flow, so there's no real need for banks to exist except for the rich.

Banana republics have leaders that travel around the country.....making speeches....blaming someone for the woes of the republic.....and always looking good for the camera.

Are we in a Banana republic?  It's a debatable topic, if you ask me.   Sadly, the President will now be noted for the weekend news chat shows....as having given the "Banana Republic-speech", and debate will now rage if we live in such a place.  It's a sad mess.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Abuse of Lady Liberty

I used to read National Geographic.  As a kid, it was a fantastic magazine that came in each month, and I'd read it cover to cover.

For a number of years while in the Air Force....I had a subscription to National Geographic.  Then along the 2004 election period between Bush and Kerry....they devoted an entire issue....every single page....to global warming.  I sat there mostly laughing. If it'd been one article of twenty pages....I would have just accepted that.  It didn't work that way....every single page of that month's publication went on the attack for global warming.

I ended my subscription that month, and have not touch the magazine since.

This week, they've announced the next cover for the publication.....using Lady Liberty in some bogus graphic illustration....underwater.  A fake image....something that the old staff from the 1960s and 1970s...would never have done.

The management staff of National Geographic don't really care about reality or the use of fake statistics or fake pictures.  The board that runs the magazine has pretty much accepted the fact that subscriptions are down, readership isn't what it used to be, and some folks identify them more as a science fiction effort than an actual geographic effort.

One final observation.  Of all the things built throughout the United States....Lady Liberty is the only thing that could be taken down in a couple of weeks, moved, and remounted somewhere else....like Mount Rushmore.  National Geographic didn't mention that little part to the game.  It's a big lego-like structure, and there's no law or such to prevent it from being moved.

Perhaps if we were going to take National Geographic serious....let's mount a campaign to move the statue to safer surroundings...like the base of the Rocky Mountains.  I'm guessing that was not the intention of the article.  

Time's Cover

I'm not much of a Time reader or enthusiast.  To be honest, I probably have touched the magazine once since 2004.  There was a time in the 1980s when I read it religiously and had a subscription.

Time around the end of the 1990s....turned into some piece of trashy news journalism that mostly was a cheerleader operation.  They led the public and their readers to a singular point of view.

At some point, I just sat there and said enough....refusing to consider it much of a asset in terms of knowing the world, events, and where things are going.

This past week.....Time picked up the Syria mess that President Obama got stuck into, and went over the various options for it's front cover.  Most folks tend to think that whatever cover magazines have for the US....it's the same for overseas...like the European environment. Well....no, it doesn't work that way.

If you tell the entire story, from start to finish....you end up with Vladimir Putin looking pretty good, and President Obama looking like a college professor.  Adding to the misery....having a big picture of Vladimir on the cover really puffs up the Russian image a bit as you tell this story.

Time couldn't do that.

So Time issued this printing of the magazine.....with a NCAA football player in some graceful move.  Folks in London, Berlin, Paris, Istanbul, Moscow, and Borg, Germany.....all saw Vladimir.  Folks in Kansas, Charleston, Montgomery, and parts of the US.....saw the NCAA player.  You'd think by glancing at the cover that the big story was the NCAA.  Hidden inside was the Syria piece.  Fifty-fifty shot that you'd realize that by reading this entire long piece......that President Obama really screwed up in some ways.

A bunch of European folks will read Time....come to some radical conclusions, and shock their American friends a few days or weeks later.  A discussion challenge will occur where the European guy wants to talk up Vladimir.  The US guy?  Well...he'll say he read up on the NCAA football story and agrees that players ought to be paid for playing.

I'm guessing Vladimir is sitting there and laughing over this episode.  He probably had the Time cover made up as a poster and hung in his office.  Time's man of the year?  No....they can't give it to Vladimir....it has to go to the Snowden dopey guy.

All of this comes full circle.  The sad truth is that Time just couldn't bring itself to be a real journalistic operation.  When now.....when it's almost bankrupt and barely selling enough to stay in operation.....they just can't stay honest to the public.

Hard to Figure Sermons

A guy from Bama....living in Germany...tends to notice things.

This week, the church folks around Dresden (a major city in the eastern side of Germany).....got around to discussing this new tactic for sermons.  A number of the churches and ministers (various groups)....have decided to hype up and do some sermons over gays and homosexuality.

It's an odd deal.  What they want....is some public talk and discussion over the subject.  They don't really say what direction they want this to go....other than public discussion.  You get the impression after reading through things....they just kinda think that the more folks locally chat in their church groups about this....the more acceptance there will be.  It's a local assumption.....not based on any science or polls.

Now, you have to grasp these two simple facts.  Dresden is in Saxony, and is known in Germany for being fairly conservative to start with.  They might not measure up to the Bavarian standard of extreme conservatives....but they lean awful far that way.  Second.....Dresden is in the heart of old DDR.....the former East Germany, with religion and sexuality usually regarded in those days (like the 1980s) as taboo to discuss or mention.

So a Bama guy comes to wonder how these sermons will go.

Would you start off with the devil having physical relations with both male and female angels?  Well....no, you can't make up something like that.  Folks would ask too many questions.  Besides....everyone knows angels are only male-related.

You might pull up the Book of Samuel, and use a line or two over two guys who were real good friends, awful close, and often interpreted two thousand years later as two gay guys.  Course, you can't be sure over the Book of Samuel, it's true history of actual people, and what the writer meant when penciling in the text originally.

You can sense that the ministers involved in this project are going to stretch as far as they can.....to give some positive spin on this whole subject.

The odd thing?  Church attendance over the past twenty years in Germany has been declining.  Folks who regularly attended....are passing on.  New membership is lousy.  Some churches are closing down because they just can't fill any seats.  Some of the older folks are going to view this sermon move as wrong, and just say they've had enough....quitting.  In some ways, I view this effort as chasing out the last of the hardcore membership from the older German folks.

So, that's my  odd world in Germany.  Sermon folks on a mission.....trying to get folks hyped on discussions....religion more dedicated to changing public minds than providing the comforts of the church.  Yeah, a political agenda of sorts perhaps as well.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Words for a Passing

The Irish and English are wizards at moments requiring words for a funeral or the passing of some soul.  They can take a hundred simple words.....toss them into some order....and amaze you with the vision or feeling you need at some great loss.

It's hard to sit and ponder over why some great paragraphs exist from a hundred or two hundred years ago.....and little that we can generate in these modern times.  Maybe things were simpler, or folks had more of a chance to sit on a riverbank and think about life.  You'd think we'd have some four-star modern pieces for today.....but I rarely if ever....come across these.

So for this moment of discussion....I'd like offer up a paragraph or two from Major John McCrae.  It was a short piece that he worded over an afternoon, as the doctor asked to prepare a memorial service for a young officer who had died there on the field in WW I.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow 

Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky 

The larks, still bravely singing, fly 

Scarce heard amid the guns below. 

We are the Dead. 

Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields. 

Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high. 

If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields.

In this wonderful world of technology, vast thought, and eternal optimism.....we seem less capable than a few decades ago.  Failing to view the moment, or enjoy the sip of one good glass of chilled spring water, or watching a bird gracefully land upon a tree....we are missing out on some little part of life.

The Frankfurt Car Show

I went off to the Frankfurt Auto Show yesterday....probably the fifth time I've been to it in my life.

As things go, it's a five-star experience.  You see the future, the trends, the sales jazz, and the crap with cars.

So I walked way with five basic observations.

First, as always....car companies hire up these model gals....with fancy uniforms to make the introduction to everyone.

The gal is always scantily dressed, and looking like some model off the ramp.  I'm often shocked that guys stand stand there and ask stupid questions, and likely get stupid answers from the model gal.

The major companies all pay for a special fashion designer to really hype up the gals...fancy shoes, fancy lipstick, and lots of flesh.  Whoever started this trend (years ago).....really aren't helping much when it comes to selling the new cars.  But, it's always interesting to see how far BMW, Chevy, or Honda will go.....to demonstrate their hottest models.  
 The sign on the left?  Well, these are huge halls, and they have a trail laid out, with all of the 500 cars on some built-up platform.  So you walk along, and have to take a step up....if you want to get close that car.

Every single brand in the eight different halls.....just had this lip-up-platform, and  you obviously noticed it without any warning.  The Chevy guys?  Well....sadly, they all had "vorsicht stufe!".....which means "warning".

Yep, the only company in the whole complex....that had to put up a warning sign.  Go figure.

This red SUV?  It's a Chinese brand.  The odd thing?  If you gaze at the hood and estimate footage from the bumper to the driver's seat....it's roughly fifteen feet.

I stood there for a good three minutes, walking the distance, and just wandering if this was some gimmick.  Course, the positive is that in a accident....you got tons of open space to absorb the crash.

But how would you know the right distance to turn or get ahead of things at the curve?


 The Renault to the left?  It's a battery car called the Twizy.  Roughly 8,000 Euro ($10k).  It's a curious car which would make some guys interested.  The problem?  One passenger, and enough room for six cases of beer behind him.  That's it.  It's ok for going to work, but for anything else?  Zero.

The batteries are under the driver, and the door flips up....if you can imagine that part.  If you lived in a city.....it might be a positive.  But it's hard to say if it'd sell well.

Then I come to the Telsa folks.  They had a small display at the show....just three cars, and maybe eight 'talkers'.

I'm of the mind that we are now beyond a trend, and that battery-powered cars will be the norm over the next decade....at least in Germany.  I'd make a humble guess and say by 2023 at least twenty percent of all car owners.....will have a battery car.

Telsa?  Well.....it's a bunch of engineer guys who have flipped the establishment and challenged design.

The picture?  This is the back of a Telsa....where you'd throw groceries or two punk kids.  The show-gals were quick to forbid adults from sitting in the little area (warning stickers that the seats would only hold a certain weight).

Somehow, these battery charge-up stations, and increasing gas cost situations....will make this battery deal seem acceptable.

Course, where all this electrical power will come from?  That's a curious question.

That was my four-hour trip for yesterday.....cars of the future, and trends yet to come.

The Money Trail

At the end of the 1980s....an odd thing happened to the Soviet Union....it dissolved away.  By the end of 1990s....you had this odd creation in Russia....millionaires and billionaires.  But there's this odd mix that then occurs.  The rich guys in Russia wake up and realize the incompetence and lack of trust in Russian banks.

The rich Russian guys then go to extremes....trying to grasp the world of banking....avoiding taxation....and ensuring what precious money they've made....they'd like to see grow.

So this curious  business starts up....finding banks who will deal with them, and countries that will simply allow cash to enter, not ask questions, and have a fairly decent banking system.

Most of Europe would fail the Russian billionaire test.  Too many questions, too many rules, and too much taxation.

Cyprus and Greece?  Well....they decided to look the other way.  So now, you have this pattern of growth in both countries.....which relate to Russian millionaires and billionaires.  Cash pours in on a weekly basis.  It's hard to say how this all works.  I would suspect that no one in the government is really watching this closely or can answer where things will be in a decade or two.

The Russians?  Well....they walk in and usually buy or build an upscale villa.  It's fancy and full of luxury.  They look at hotels, and buy them as parts of their investment plan.  They park their yachts off the coast, and take care of guests without any hassle.  Passports and formal recognition?  It's not exactly important anymore.

There's change coming to the Med, Greece and Cyprus.  Massive change.

You can't shift around a billion, or twenty billion, or fifty billion, and avoid seeing something massive coming out of this.

Some Harvard business professor or foundation ought to have a couple of folks there and analyzing the growth and where exactly things are heading.  It would explain a lot about the idea of limited taxation or stringent rules on moving capital.

Who knows?  Maybe in two decades.....Greece is some giant financial capital, where Russian billionaires hide and own massive companies.  Well....maybe.  Or it could all fall into ruin because of incompetent Greek money managers.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The Effects of Busy Beavers

Around the clock.....twenty-four hours a day.....there are political folks thinking, discussing, writing, and creating new laws.  You could say they are trying to help us in some sense.  Every time that something bad happens....these guys redouble their efforts....and write more laws.

This week with the DC shooting episode.....you need to settle back to ponder upon something.

First, the shotgun that this crazy guy had.....was legally purchased.....via the effective nature of the federally required background check.  He passed, when he sought to buy the weapon.  Nothing prevented him from the purchase.....because nothing in the records indicated that he was crazy.

Folks can sit around for days and days.....thinking over the effective nature and the law covering the background check.  Basically, it's a failure, but it's perfectly worded on paper and perfectly applied.

Second, the Washington DC city council went to the fullest extent possible.....making weapons awful hard to acquire, possess, and carry.  Half of the residents of DC would say it's effectively working.  The other half?  They'd mostly laugh and point at weekly shootings and killings.

In this case, the shooter carried his shotgun through the city.....in violation of the law.  Punishment?  Well, the guy is dead....so it doesn't matter.  The value of the pages and pages of DC law?  Zero.

Third and final.  Navy commanders and the Pentagon security folks....all write down hundreds of pages of regulation over the effective security procedures for their establishments.  There are several regulations that the shooter broke....in carrying the shotgun onto the groundd.  But the effective nature of the regulations?  Zero.

All of these people, and thousands more....will gaze at the shooting, and sit for days.  Then they will write even more laws and regulations.  A guy can sit and ponder over how many pages will exist in fifty years, and if any of these laws really prevent anything.  It all looks good.....but laws are meant for law-abiding people, and not for crazy folks.

There were a couple of signals that this guy should have been put into a facility, but on the whole......no judge would have stood up and taken the action (my humble opinion).  Across the nation today, there's at least a hundred thousand Americans who ought to be locked up in a mental facility.....to protect the safety of society.  We aren't willing to write these regulations, these laws, or to enforce them.  That's the sad part about this story.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

The AR15 Shotgun

Over the past fifteen-odd years....I've come to regard CNN as mostly a bunch of amateur guys....with some kind of journalism degree from a university....with mostly knowledge about journalism, and not the real world.

In the midst of the DC shooting yesterday at the naval yard....the CNN dimwits put up a text piece on the screen....letting you know about the "AR15 shotgun".  Well....there is no such thing as a AR15 shotgun.  If you asked any Marine or Army guy....they'd just look at you in amazement.  They wished that the gun guys would make a fancy high-impact-like AR-15 shotgun.....but that won't happen.

CNN does the best they can.  They sign up folks who will work cheaply.....recruiting from TV stations across America.  Basically, if you look fresh, perky, dynamic, and speak without any accent.....you got a chance with the CNN folks.

Trusting in their storyline?  My general advice is that when an event starts.....CNN gets their guy on the scene first ahead of everyone else, and for twelve lousy minutes....they own the story across America.  Then the other networks arrive, and eventually half-an-hour later.....Fox News finally pulls up their van and releases the "dogs of war".    Thirty minutes after watching Fox News, you can turn the TV channel back to Gunsmoke and relax for three hours.  There's not much else to occur, until the smoke has cleared.

The other comical piece from yesterday?  CNN's one dimwit asked if this was the first ever shooting on a military post....ignoring the Fort Hood episode of two years ago.  Yeah, with the court case barely two weeks ago wrapped up.....you would have thought that this journalist would remember that.  Well....no.

Luckily for us.....the President learns most everything he knows....from watching the news.  So I'm guessing today.....he's asking his staff about this neat AR15 shotgun, and how it works.  Some White House expert will arrive, and spend thirty seconds detailing the non-existence of such a weapon, and then the President will walk over and turn the news channel back on....to get more fresh new prospectives.


Simply Observations

It's roughly twenty-four hours since the DC naval yard shooting.  Course, I'm a thousand miles away and watching mostly CNN and the Business Channel for updates over this, and reading the various DC newspapers.  It's odd....the journalists are stuck on this one.....black guy (not a white-Mexican or doped-up white kid)....past claims of being goofy because of 9-11....said he'd been recently converted to the Buddhist religion....shoots a bunch of navy guys.  The international press wants to talk up the automatic weapons angle.....but you can sense that CNN is a bit confused and trying hard to not notice his race on this episode.  Sad event.....some nut case that the Navy figured out that he was nuts, but then they agree to hire him as a contractor security guy.

Some polling guys say that John Kerry is now pulling better numbers than President Obama or VP Joe.  Shocking, in a way.  Kerry hasn't done much....except appear in front of cameras, talk to some Russians, and pretend that he's an expert on international stuff.

California will likely pull up a ban (by the state legislature) on lead bullets.  Hard to say what's valid or fictional on their strategy.  Folks will just walk across the border to Oregon or Nevada to buy ammo.  Course, cops will stop folks in their cars and ask if there's a gun in it.....then charge you with having lead bullets.  The amount of lead bullets in the ground from three hundred years?  Well....it's best not to talk about that deal.

The Christian Science Monitor came up today and noticed it was the second birthday of the Occupy Movement.  To be honest, the boys from the Movement have lost most of their steam, and since late last summer....are mostly there on parade days or special occasions.  Occupy was probably supposed to be some political device for the 2012 election....but the folks running it came to realize that the public wasn't that interested or curious about them.  From the DC episode.....I kinda noticed that most locals were critical because of the rat infestation that grew out of the two camps they set up near the White House.  Tourists note stupid things like this, and talk via forums.  The DC city council eventually got bad feelings over the camps and their public viewing.

Finally, a week before the German national election.....the Green candidate for Chancellor has found himself in a historical mess.  You see....around three decades ago....as a university student and big-time player of a small-time Green Party.....he signed up that it ought to be legal in Germany for adults and kids to have physical relationships.  It was in the early days of the Green Party, and the general wording on the document he signed back in those days hinted that teenagers ought to have rights around age sixteen.  Someone dug around....no telling which party.....and found where this national candidate signed a petition for this change to the law.  He's done his best to explain what was going on thirty-odd years ago......but it's inviting some Green voters to reconsider their vote.  It might help the SPD folks a little.  Kinda sad to think some stupid petition that someone floated around thirty years ago....still exists today, and some idiot can find your name on it for public display.

The Goddess Thing

I was up at a big palace there in Corfu.....with a number of Greek Gods and Goddesses on display.  The gal next to me?  The Greek Goddess of Bacon, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and Ford Pick-ups. Well.....I'd like to believe that.

She's actually Peitho....Greek Goddess of persuasion, music, poem, and entertainment.

Greeks have this thing about Gods and Goddesses.   They've put up a bunch of statues and have various stories related to them.

I've come to this belief that Greek guys got to a point where eating olives, apples, and fruit got to being fairly boring.  Fishing all the time?  Boring.  Gulping down wine?  Boring.  Wrestling?  Boring.

So they eventually reached a point where they needed more entertainment.  So they sat at the fire at night and invented various stories over fake characters.

Eventually, enough folks believed the fake stories, and got passed around to the royal folks because they were so bored.

A one-star likely turned into a five-star story over a generation or two.

So today, there's the goddess of persuasion.  Course, for me....I'd like to believe there is a goddess over bacon.  It'd be nice to think that some gal ensures the greasy nature and purity of bacon.

Bama guys just weren't meant to travel beyond the borders of Bama.  It's hard for us to take some things serious....as you can tell.

Corfu Scooter Land


After a week in Corfu, you come to one or two conclusions about motorcycles.

First, most everyone on Corfu refuses to wear helmets.  Doesn't matter if it's on the big roads or on city streets.  Folks just ride and say the helmet is useless.  Doesn't matter.....men and women both have the same attitude about this stuff.

Second, there are a lot of old motorcycles around.  Most are of some European brand name.....probably thirty to fifty years old.

Some got painted up, and some end up as displays for small pubs and restaurants.

Maybe it's a good way to retire a bike that's beyond it's years and ought not be on the road.

Third, you come to this odd way of life on Corfu.  When you expire out on the street....dead....then they put a little memorial of sorts.  It's on a stand and be either simple or fancy.

It's hard to say if folks come around to remember "Yinny"....dead from some scooter episode where he just didn't wear a helmet that day.

From the hotel into town.....there must have been forty of these little memorial stands.  Safe to say folks die fairly often from this business.

Fourth.  All around Corfu City....there's parking lots for scooters and bikes.  I'd get the impression that a quarter of the population use them daily.

There's scooter sales lots as you enter town.  Old bikes.....new bikes.....fancy scooters.....cheap scooters.

Fifth and final.  Old scooters survive on.  The blue scooter below has to be at least thirty years old.  It's probably been painted three or four times.  Several seats have come and gone.  Probably a dozen mufflers have gone onto muffler heaven.  And this is probably the twentieth set of tires on the bike since purchase.

It's not fancy or upscale.  I'd guess the value at less than two hundred Euro ($240).  But it survives on.

The curious thing?  No rust.

After a week in Corfu.....a guy has this dream in his mind....living on an island for the rest of his life....riding scooters....tasting the breeze with no helmets....and feeling like a million bucks.

Maybe it's a good thing that you don't stay.  You might end up with some memorial on the side of the road.....dead after your scooter ran into a Coca Cola truck.



Monday, 16 September 2013

Fake Work

I've come back from vacation to discover that the Senate Judiciary Committee is working on some kinda media shield law.  Basically.....they are trying to define a real "reporter" and protect them.  The fake reporters?  Well....the Senators (Dianne Feinstein of California) are generally saying that bloggers and citizen journalists.....aren't legit.  They are bogus reporters, and thus can't be real reporters.

You stand there for a while.....wondering what the heck happened and how this episode revolved around to being so big and important.....that they had to waste time on it and try to make up a law.  The other side of this mess?  No one is even sure that the Republicans in the House....will vote to agree, so it might all be a bogus effort.

I pondered over this.

Would we need a law to identify and define farmers now?  Real farmers....not those fake or bogus guys who pretend to have a tractor and a row-crop, but most tell the tax guy this for bogus tax credits.

Would we need a law to identify honky-tonk bartenders?  There are so many bogus country-and-western bars now.....that maybe we need to say who is legit, and who is fake.

Would we need a law to identify ditch-diggers, or septic tank salesmen, or 2nd basemen, or banjo players, or bad actors on some TV series, or flea market salesmen, or perhaps even real chiropractors (not those fake guys from Florida with the fake chiropractor degree on the wall)?

After a while, you get to thinking that maybe someone ought to define political figures, and tell you who is fake Republican and fake Democrat.

Then you start to think about identifying engineers....is a degree from University of Arkansas enough.....or do you need a fancier degree from Auburn University?  Should there be some kinda test where you get a hundred questions on some ancient database code, or have to throw seventeen pieces of Chinese fake computer boards together to show your remarkable ability.

With a thousand important things on the minds of Americans....I'd generally say that this identification of real reporters....is maybe around problem 7,841 on the list.  Generally, you sit and read bad journalism articles nightly, question the CBS guys on their ethics, wonder what happened to 60 Minutes, and feel like everyone at CNN is a loser.  And this would fix everything?

Yeah, it's all fake....even the senators at work.

Obama Healthcare and Sex

In the last couple of days....reporters at the New York Post have come to realize that there's a series of open-ended questions that doctors can and will ask....as you trot into the initial steps of Obama Care.

One of those questions......is your sex life.  Do you have sex?  Do you have multiple partners?  Do you have same sex partners?

The Post reporters asked a few doctors about this, and generally.....you can sense that doctors aren't happy about this and will avoid it....unless ordered by the clinic or hospital to comply.

Your answers?  Well....he will write them down....put them into a database somewhere, and some goofball guy by the name of Snowden or Mannning or whatever.....will one day release a copy of 100 million Americans and their sexual answers in the database.

So you can imagine the significant nature of this episode.  You wake up one day and realize at work that the guys have noted that you gave almost six pages of information to the doctor over five years, and they put it into some database.  The doc noted that you had forty partners since high school.....never using birth control.....that you had a fetish or two revolving around police uniforms and prison scenarios.....that you once dated a school teacher who wore fancy black lace.....that you often read Italian sex novels......and that you had this thing with a Chinese Communist gal back in 1988 while in college.

The necessity of this information?  Well.....it's hard to figure.  Doctors usually don't need info until after they note you got some disease or some health issue.  The idea of planting data ahead of time?  Usually, they ask if you drink, or smoke, or walk regularly (exercise).

A Bama guy could ponder about this for a while, and then have a standard theme answer.....yes, sex with aliens.

Course, the doc will ask if you meant Mexican or Chinese aliens, and you will respond.....no, real aliens....UFO folks.

So you make up this big long story.  You got beamed up into some alien craft.  Some alien gal probed you.  Then she seduced you.  You remember right lights, a bar-b-q smell, some funny clothing that the gal wore which reminded you of Jeannie on I Dream of Jeannie, and some Roy Clark country and western in the background.

The doc will be suspicious but you nudge him a bit to write this down.....clearly, concisely, and absolutely.  You linger on about this alien gal....tall, dark tan, a third boob, muscular like those guys from the University of Bama football team, and chatty (often talking about septic tanks, corn prices, and fishing lures).

For at least an hour.....you linger there....talking away at the doctor and wasting his time.  But he's got this full eight-page story on your remarkable sex life with some alien gal.

One day.....you convince several of your buddies to tell the same stories, and then across the whole spectrum....maybe for a decade or two....there are millions of people who start describing all this remarkable sex stuff with aliens.  The database?  Well...some government guy will eventually stand up in front of Senator Snuffy, and say it's corrupted.  They don't know what's true or fake.  Senator Snuffy gets all upset......mostly because he'd like to get into some alien sex too.

The day comes....thirty years down the path....where the database is deleted because everyone is laughing over American health records and the number of folks talking up alien sex.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

My Vacation

I was on vacation this past week....to the Greek isle of Corfu.  If you were looking at a map and found the "heel" of Italy....looking to the right of it about a hundred miles...is this long island (Corfu).  It's a fair sized island....maybe around a hundred thousand citizens, and from May to September....around another hundred thousand guests or visitors on a daily basis.

Folks tend to come to Corfu for rest and relaxation.  It's not a party island....like some Greek isles.  It's not some big historic area....like some Greek isles.  It's just a quiet place with a couple of activities, a number of nice hotels, and a bunch of Greeks trying to entice you to spend money (one way or another).

There's probably fifty things I noticed over the week there and I'll eventually blog them.  Today?  I'll mention two curious episodes.

Outside the hotel compound, there's this little street that you'd have to walk to reach the main drag, where buses ran.  A few houses are on this little street....all with private gates, and a fancy driveway.

Well....there's this one guy who has umpteen statues lined up on his drive.  Yeah, you'd likely say that it looks awful cheap and it might be bad art.....but it's fancy.

It kinda reminded me of Bama where folks put up artsy stuff in their front yard, and neighbors try hard to avoid saying negative things.  Course, if you look at the narrowness of the driveway, you'd say that drinking excessively is something you need to avoid....if you were heading back home and needed to pull the pick-up into the driveway.....or knock down a dozen of your goddess statues.

The other thing I came to notice in downtown Corfu City....was the Fish Spa.  It's a storefront with tanks arranged on the floor with chairs around them.

Some gal, with a bad English accent will stand at the doorway to entire you to enter.  Basically, they have these piranha fish (the flesh-eaters), and you slip off your redwings and socks....then dip your feet in for the fish to nibble (supposedly on the dead skin, but I'd question the science of this).

Course, me....a Bama guy....I gazed at the advertisement and the storefront window for a while (maybe two minutes).  Temptation was all around this.  But I stood there and came to this realization.  If me or my brother had ever removed our red-wings and socks, and dipped our feet into this mess....it'd probably kill off the dozen fish in each tank within ten seconds.  Then we'd have to retreat out the front door with our boots, and talking about needing to buy some chainsaw lubricant.  The fish lady would have gone into some fit over the dead fish.

It's hard to say if this is ethical or an acceptable health practice.  Fish diseases?  And this ten Euro (twelve bucks).....how do you arrive at a ten-minute nibbling equaling twelve bucks?  Then there's the fish crap....who cleans the tanks and how often?  What about all these flesh-eating fish movies that I saw in the 1980s....where folks died miserable deaths after accidentally falling into a creek?

Yeah, this is the sort of thing that a Bama guy runs into....as he travels around the globe.  To be honest, we ask too many questions....make too many observations....and ought to limit ourselves to the state borders of Bama.

Tomorrow.....more Corfu observations.

The 2-Percent Reality

If you were a group of sports journalists, and three out of one-hundred-seventeen of you picked the NCAA bowl champs of the year....you'd consider that a fair statistic of sorts.

If you were a group of farmers, and only three of you....out of one-hundred-seventeen....made a profit for the year....it'd be a fairly bad thing.

If you were a group of travelers, and only three of the one-hundred-seventeen folks.....arrived on schedule without issues....it'd likely be a pretty bad statistic.

If only three owners from a group of one-hundred-seventeen folks made it an entire year without issues to the brand-new truck they bought via Chevy....it'd be utter chaos for Chevy to admit in public.

Well....some smart folks sat down and examined climate-change/global warming models that existed back in mid-1990s.  There were one-hundred-seventeen predictions made, with the same number of models....by a bunch of global warming enthusiasts.  Three of the models worked as predicted.  The other one-hundred-fourteen models?  Failure.  You could say utter failure, epic failure, gross failure, or even simple failure.  It doesn't matter....the bulk of them didn't deliver as promised.

This leads you to a moment of pondering.  Roughly fifteen years ago....a bunch of dimwits wanted your attention, your cash revenue, your tax revenue, and the ability to take control of your life via the necessity of saving the planet.  We can now truthfully say.....they were fairly wrong.

So we arrive at this moment of models and reality.  The truth is....we can make a hundred various predictions with models over the eventual national champion NCAA football team in January of 2014.  A couple of these models will accurately predict the University of Alabama as grand champion.....some will dare to challenge those models.  The truth is....you don't know nothing, until the end of the game.  The models are mostly all bogus in nature.

We are at the same point with global warming and climate change models.....they are likely bogus in nature too.

Some folks will be disappointed by this review.  But it's a good thing to be observing reality....even fifteen years later.  And three of these guys are patting themselves on the back....mostly for accidentally getting their models right.


Would Have Been, Could Have Been

When I was a kid....my dad took me over across the river....to the newly opened Champion Paper-mill.  It was a fancy grand opening.....bus to take you around the new plant....displays....drinks....etc.

Champion was to become the savior of jobs for high school kids in the local area.  A kid here.....a kid there....would go and become part of this real-pay scale that most folks just dreamed about.  A guy could walk into the plant there in 1976, and thirty years later....be making $80,000 a year in pay and overtime.

Guys ran off and bought houses....a decade later....they'd determine that they had way more money in their hands, and went upscale.  They bought tandem-wheel trucks.....fancy boats...RV trailers....and spent weekends at resorts in Nashville, and Gulf Shores.  They could send their kids off to fancy private colleges and never worry a moment about the bills.

I probably could have stayed around and played this game as well.  But the Air Force deal was more of an enticement, and I just didn't see the paper mill as some job I'd want to stay in....permanently.

Life in north Alabama for the past four decades has been great.  The 1,100-odd jobs pumped millions into the local economy....quietly and effectively.  There's probably another five thousand folks employed today.....working in some fashion off the cash-flow of the 1,100-odd folks.

Well....this past week....Champion concluded that they'd reached maximum profit with the plant and were in a declining phase.  They probably knew this for the past decade.  I would imagine they'd been trying to sell off this particular plant.  This week, they said enough....and will be going into a closing phase.

The plant says they will try to arrange transfer situations for the 1,100 employees.  It'll be hard to convince some guy who has lived fifty-five years in Alabama.....to sell off the property and move to Idaho or Oregon.

The state folks?  Well....they've kind of woken up and realized that tax revenue is screwed up once the plant closes.  We are talking about taxes via the plant, and via the employees.  They'd like to fix this....but I'm guessing they are way beyond the power curve.  They should have been involved in this mess a couple of years ago.  Now?  Other than talking about it or possibly finding somebody to walk in and buy the plant.....it's too late.

So I'm sitting and wondering.....if I had made that one simple assumption back in 1977, and stayed.....gotten on with the plant....what would I be into at age fifty-four and working for Champion?  Yeah, I would have been like the rest....throwing money at fancy rifles, a trophy wife, fancy trips to the Everglades, sipping fancy wine that I can't pronounce, spending $10,000 on a distillery package to make my own personal whisky, and owning a $40,000 Harley that I only rode six Saturdays a year.

Yeah, maybe it's a good thing I left.  I would have spent every penny that I earned over forty years with the company, and stood there in a state of shock this week.  The bigger shock?  The only way of surviving this mess?  Moving to Idaho.  Man, do they even have NCAA football up there?


Book Review: Roger Williams and The Creation of the American Soul

By John M. Barry.  Other title: Church, State, and the Birth of Liberty. Almost four hundred pages.

It's a long and difficult read.  There's at least four hundred characters noted, and at least a thousand events tied into this woven story.

What Barry does....is take the period of King James in early 1600s....and tell the story of how religion became such a big mess in England....that it was exported as a chaotic mess to the shores of the new land, and became an even bigger mess there.

King James is confronted with most of the British population hating Catholics....so there's a national church created.  However, in the background.....there are dozens of Christian enthusiasts who have gone to the extent of creating their own version of Christianity.  Somewhere in this mix...are the Puritans.

King James has a hatred of the Magna Carta, and the lack of support from the Parliament.  Folks are being carried off to prison or executed on a daily basis....for just about any crime against the state or the King.  It's a lousy time to be alive and challenging your circumstances.

The Puritans will eventually decide that they are under such a threat to live their intended lifestyle.....that escaping to the new world.....is the only solution.  The Pilgrim solution?  From Barry's analysis.....they were a bunch of folks with no real survivor skills, and no extra food supplies.....dropped off onto a harsh environment, and the odds were barely fifty-fifty for surviving.

Religious dedication is the only thing in their favor.

Within a year....another ship will arrive....finding half the original group either dead or desiring to get the hell out of Plymouth.  The newer folks stay, and build on.

Within a year or two....at least a thousand of these obsessive Puritans are in what is to be called Boston and Salem.  By 1635 (five years into this 'experiment')....you could sense that massive chaos had arrived and your entire life.....twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week....revolved around religion.

Eventually, the Puritan church leadership determined that playing games of chance....including even checkers....was un-pure, and worth the punishment of a whip.  They went to the extreme of suggesting that days of the week (Monday, Tuesday, etc)....were pagan in nature, and thus needed to be named the first day, the second day, the third day, etc.  You can sense the frustration level building in society.

So here is Roger Williams....more of a lawyer than a religious guy.  The book will barely cover forty percent of the real story of Roger Williams....because there is a vast landscape behind him.

At one point, the Indians in North America have come to respect Roger Williams greatly and honor him to be seated at the fire with them.  He speaks with their language, and is respectful of their traditions.  There is this one discussion where all the general tribes in the region have come to the idea of uniting.....to destroy the British 'experiment'.  It's early enough that there aren't enough men with guns to defend against such a massive attack.

You can sense that this one opportunity has come.....the Indians would toss the Puritans off their land, and probably suspend any colony for at least a couple of decades.  Roger Williams speaks out and convinces them against this idea.  For this....he probably saved the lives of several thousand.

Later, with all the mess of this Puritan chaos.....Roger goes off to England and gets a charter to have his own colony.....Province (Rhode Island).  The central theme?  No dictated words or laws from the Puritans.....it is the first chance of open religion on the new land.

From the sense of the entire book.....the Puritans were a cult-like crowd and went to far extremes to establish control over just about everyone.  The Salem witch episode likely became comic relief for some....as they watched events unfold and Puritan leadership worry more about witches than crops.

As for the book....I'd say it's a tough read, and you'd best read only a chapter a day to absorb the grand story that John M. Barry lays out.  By the end, you will think greatly of Roger Williams....there ought to be statues of the guy in Washington DC.  You will also consider the Puritans and Quakers.....to be more of cults, than actual religions.  This might shock a few people, and be a turn-off.

I'd recommend the book only for history enthusiasts.  That six-line piece you read in high school explaining the Puritans and this 1620s-1630s period?  Well....you'd best just forget that, and prepare for a rough ride.

The Dead Meth Gay Guy

At the end of the 1990s.....I sat in amazement watching a very simplified and obcessive story about some gay kid out in Wyoming, who was murdered by two guys that he'd met in some bar.  The national media took the story and made it into a terrible episode....that dissolved into a political achievement.  The nation would create this law that made murder or assault on gays.....extra special.  Being dead as a gay.....was to become a bigger deal....than being dead as a non-gay.

At the time, I sat there in amazement as this story ran through the various stages, and the law would eventually be created from this one story.  What bothered me....was that the story never seemed to be complete.  Some things were never explained.

Well....time has passed.

This week, there's a national story brewing over Mathew Shepard and his demise.  You see.....the two guys in the bar?  They actually knew Mathew....and they knew he was gay.....because they were in the same type of lifestyle.

But none of this gay business really matters in this murder story.....because all three of the folks meeting at this bar....were meth-users and dealers.

You can imagine this scene.....meth user showing up....and he's got lots of freshly acquired meth.  He's on a bit of a meth high, and his two buddies show up.  They'd like to get in on this deal, and to use some of the meth.

What you generally ought to know about meth users.....is that they don't think rationally.  They make decisions on a irrational basis.  Killing someone.....is part of the business.

The Book of Matt will be out on the streets next week, and lay out this entire story.  For the national media.....it'll be difficult for them to tell it in public with a straight face.  They've given up investigative journalism, and most work cheer-leading stuff these days.  For almost fifteen years....this story just sat there.  They wouldn't touch it.....they wouldn't interview the two idiots in prison for the murder.  They just left it to be untold.

This is part of the problem in 2013.....a lousy journalism business.  The public has come to question things.

What happens now?  Well.....you'd think that some dimwit in the Senate would stand up and ask stupid questions now over this comical law.  It might take five years, but they might eventually come around to it being challenged in the courts, and dismissed by the Supreme Court.  I humbly think that the Senate will refuse to bring the topic back up and dismiss the law.

As for all the Hollywood elite who made songs over Mathew Shepard?  Basically, it glorified a meth user/salesman.  Nothing more than that.  For the first time in American history....we found a reason to feel bad about a dead meth guy, reacting to it, and making his demise worth something....ever how fake it was.


Friday, 6 September 2013

When Climate Change Became a Brake Job

It's a poster by the climate change, global warming, global cooling crowd.

So you pause and ponder over it.  Basically, they are trying to simplify the whole topic and just say that you accept what your mechanic says without challenging him....so why not just trust us?

You pause for a minute, and then you respond....your mechanic can take off a tire in sixty seconds, and show you the braking mechanism.  He can show you the pads, and you can be pretty sure after looking at the evidence....he isn't pulling your leg.

This climate change dimwit?  Well....if you asked him to remove the cover to his database, and go into some various details.....with in-depth questions....and you wanted to be absolutely precise about things....he'd get all upset.  That wasn't the deal....in his mind.

The problem here is that the bad brakes and the repair job would likely only run $500 to $1,200.  This climate change guy?  Well....he's not into one single brake job.  He's talking about years and decades of you accepting more costs, increased airline tickets, your electrical bills going to double and triple of what they are currently.

When you note this, and try to explain things to the climate change guy.....he usually acts like it's just money....nothing to worry about.

That attitude usually bothers some folks.

So this brings me to this final topic.  Folks discuss this occasionally.  Mechanics....are generally not that honest about your car and what might be wrong.  So they tell you about five things, and the $1,600 bill.  The truth?  Well....you aren't sure.  It might be one serious problem existing and $750 to fix it.

Bogus mechanics?  Yeah.  Bogus climate change folks?  Yeah.  Bogus ministers?  Yeah.  Bogus professors?  Yeah.  Bogus journalists?  Yeah.

It's a harsh world out there....and you'd just like to find a few honest folks.

Prime-TV Syria

Some folks are hinting....strongly....that after this big trip to Europe....the President will return and prepare an address to the US public for some evening episode (likely to be in ten days).  The topic?  Syria and the war vote.

Prime-time TV, and a Syria pep-talk?

Toward the end of 2009, the networks finally got tired of a continual knock at the door, with a request for air-time for the President.  So they finally just said that they'd had enough.  If he needed some time for once or twice a year....fine.  But they were finished with these free-deals.

You see....every time you allow a Presidential address on prime-time TV....it's free.  The networks all lose money.  The amusing part to the story is that cable TV networks...like Discovery or the History Channel run their show, and usually capture higher numbers.

The interest across the nation to hear the President speak on Syria?  A guy can sit and ponder on this.  I'd have doubts that you could convince more than fifteen percent of the nation to watch.....and it could be as low as five percent.

Changing minds or perceptions?  The news media has had ten days now to blast away with its various bits and pieces.  They really haven't been successful, and I'd take a guess that sixty percent of the public is "no" on the war idea. At best, the President might have twenty-five percent of the public in some supportive way.

So we come back around to prime-time TV and a Syria pep talk.  It's hard to imagine that the President could find something to fill up thirty minutes of time.  He'll stare at the screen....repeat some pet phrases.....talk up the morale standing of America being the protector of the world....and then toss out some FDR, Reagan, and Jefferson quotes.

It'll be like a pep-talk from high school football coach at half-time....where the score is 60-to-7 against his team.  There's not much you can say....to pep folks up.

The Senate and House will sit there in a daze....mostly hearing negative talk from back home.  Amusingly enough....it'll be the only time in ten years that you have both Republicans and Democrats agree on something.  Some dimwit from CNN will comment on the strange nature of this one agreement between the two parties.  Standing against the war.

After almost five years in office, this is a curious moment to note the administration's position, and failure to get public sentiment on their side.

A Good Cartoon





I worked for an organization once....that had one central server.  There was one individual who was supposed to back up the server twice a week.  All of the previous individuals who held the job....did it without any issues.

About a month into the new server person taking the job....something happened with the back-up device.  It basically fried itself.  The back-up individual simply made a one-line statement on an email and that was the end of the emergency.

No one reacted.

Days passed.  Weeks passed.  Months passed.  One day, we woke up and found server issues.  We knew it was four years old....and we felt safe because of back-ups. Well....two hours later....Airman Snuffy who was the point on fixing the server went to Sarge who was the back-up boss.

Things kinda fell apart as we realized then that nine months had passed without a single back-up.  The server at this point was so corrupted.....that it just wouldn't allow a back-up to occur.  Basically, all data stored over nine months....was to be lost.  In the Air Force, this is a big deal.

So we had this one contractor who spent hours and hours....coaching the broke server to give one last bit of life into a back-up action.  From 7AM on one day....until 4AM on the next day....he got the system to do one final back-up.  He probably deserved a cash prize from the Air Force for saving the day.  I can understand the Delbert cartoon to the fullest extent.