Thursday, 31 October 2013

Wiggle Room?

Over the past month, I noticed the term "wiggle room" being used a lot in business reports, political chaos news, and intellectual chit-chat.  What is wiggle room?

Well....it's not a clear term.  It generally means that you made a bad decision....had limited knowledge or information....and wish that you'd had more to make a better decision.  Wiggle room really isn't defined in the way that a engineer or farmer or mechanic would enjoy.

For an engineer....there is no wiggle room....things are absolute in nature.

For a mechanic....it either fits right, runs right, or it's a utter failure.

For a doctor....wiggle room typically means he's guessing your ailment and it's something between a cold and cancer.

For a political figure....wiggle room means that he will tax the heck out of you, but all it's all good tax and will generally be returned back to you....someday....somehow.

For a dentist, wiggle room means he thinks one of your roots is dying and he's guessing which tooth it is, and hoping he picks the right one to remove.

For a cop, wiggle room typically means you can go forty-eight in a forty-five mph zone.  But if you go forty-nine.....there's no more wiggle.

For a grocery operation....wiggle room tends to mean you advertise your goods as fresh...but avoid saying just how fresh.

For a farmer....wiggle room typically means the fence meets general specifications....but might not be strong enough for a new steer you brought in from Texas.

I enjoy watching intellectuals appear on TV and give magnificent and dynamic lectures on something, then hint that there has to be wiggle room.    It generally means all bets are off and you shouldn't gamble nothing on their chit-chat.

It'd be great if Congress could outlaw wiggle room.....but it'd mean that the Democrats in the Senate would have to agree, and that would never happen.....mostly because they need wiggle....to make things work.

Yes, you can imagine a society existing today....without wiggle.  It'd be a terrible thing....I guess.

A Little NSA Issue

It is a small odd story that makes a guy from Bama ponder.

News sources now say (a 9 Jan 2013 memo).....that NSA geeks were receiving millions and millions of records per day from Google and Yahoo.  Emails, text messages, photos, videos, songs, etc.

The government is sitting there presently....on tons of already gathered data, and will continue on receiving such data, until someone says "stop".

But here's this oddball thing.  Somewhere in this billion-trillion pile of data....are tens of thousands....perhaps millions....of porn.  Lusty stuff, old stuff from the 1960s, fancy Swedish stuff, California stuff, movie-actress stuff, postal workers in various poses, gothic women with other gothic women, guys dressed in pink overalls and doing lusty stuff, and even some video stuff with semi-prominent Congressmen and Senators.

It's all there on some government server.  There's some odd rules about government servers.  You just can't have any lusty stuff stored on them.  There's actually a fed rule about that.

There's also a fed rule about copyrighted music.....being on a fed server.  You just can't load such music on such a server.

There's a rule about movies on fed servers.

All of these things....are actual federal violations.  You could end up in a federal court, if you were the server administrator and allowed such things to flourish or populate your server.....doing nothing about it.

The behavior of NSA and it's data crowd?  Just overlook those particular rules.  The problem is....it's an actual federal law.  And by walking over it....one has to wonder what other laws are not to be enforced?

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Fixing the Unfixable

It was a 392-page ruling handed down by a court, that shakes the foundations of a government, it's culture, it's society, it's politics, and it's future.  In simple terms, from this day forward, you just can't bet on anything and be sure of much.

So it begins in Argentina.

The government sat down a couple of years ago and passed some legislation.  Basically, they decided that one particular company now owned most of the media within Argentina.....and this was triggering a shift in politics.  The company's theme?  More or less....right-wing.  So the legislation....could be considered pro-liberal.  I know some hate for these terms to be thrown around, but it is that simple.

So here are the new rules in Argentina.

First, no TV network can have more than thirty-five percent of the viewers.  No one is exactly sure on how you'd stop the the nation's viewers from watching.....but some political folks thought you could legislate this.

Second, no company can own more than twenty-four licenses across the country.  So your company could buy sixteen TV licenses and eight radio licenses, and then max out.

Third, to make this license business just a bit more complicated.....you as a company can only own one TV license (antenna or cable) in one city, and one radio license (same deal).

Fourth, future licenses can only be extended after a complete review of the ties that the company has.  You can sense that weeks, months and years could be woven into this review process.

Fifth, as the 'dump-your-ownership' game starts up....the court merely says that fair compensation must be extended to the lost license players by the government.  No one in Argentina is sure about how much this will cost....how they will pay....and who the final judge is on fair compensation.

Sixth, as the dumped license game starts up.....the judges didn't really say who would appear to buy or own the new licenses.  One can assume that a number of wealthy families might suddenly apply, but then find the legal review process taking months to occur, and weeding out their desire to own such a TV license.  Some community applying for it's own license, but with no real cash?  Yes, it'd be entirely possible for someone to rig up such an application.

Seventh, you can own one cable TV channel in a town, or own one antenna-broadcast network in town.....but you can't own one of each in the town.

All of this would somehow bring fairness and balance to a vast media parking lot.  Consider the fact that roughly two thousand licenses exist in Argentina through both TV and radio.  AM licenses barely hit 150 stations, and FM licenses currently run around 1,100 stations.  The rest?  TV licenses or cable TV type situations.

All of this manipulation is a problem that will require a full-time audit crowd and hustle up hundreds of lawyers to have various cases in court for years to come.

What it fixes?  Well.....if you wanted to manipulate a vast voting block....you'd work up the media to play your game.  You'd say that this would all bring fairness and non-manipulation into the system.

Here's the aftermath.  As companies divest themselves of stations, they begin to fall to lesser individuals or companies.....with limited capital.  Because you can't funnel profits from dozens of stations into buying programming or making independent productions....you resort back to movies from the 1970s, and gameshows.  Everyone starts to complain three years down the line about the quality of radio and TV programming.  Running Baywatch for three hours of the day....just isn't a practical thing.

But there's this escape clause in this mess.  The Argentine government can only manage cable and antenna-type operations.  They can't really manage satellite operations.  So what you should expect over the next five years....a couple of satellite networks that pop up.....all owned by the same company.  Satellite radio?  Comes to you via the same company.  They will escape this mess and the government will compensate everyone enough for lost licenses....that satellite makes perfect sense.

In a decade, almost everyone in Argentina will be getting their TV and radio via satellite, and through one or two companies.  It's that simple.  As hard as the dimwits worked to dissolve influence in politics....they merely created a new mechanism....that they can't control at all.


Reality of School

In high school, I suspect my last year of high school civics....was fairly wasted.  You memorized as much as possible for the tests, then forgot most everything within a month or two.

The graph to the right is fairly true. The term 'fascist' was always mentioned to Italy's World War II government.  The term 'communist' was always applied to the Soviet Union or Cuba.

From the entire last year of high school, there was probably eight minutes applied to defining socialism.  I don't think the term libertarian was ever mentioned.  Anarchists?  That always led to the guys who killed the Hapsburg prince, and triggered WW I.  Tyranny?  It could only be spoken.....if woven into the Revolutionary War.

A kid in today's high school history classes?  He's likely getting some liberal teacher's view of the world.....all condensed into a format of easy eight-word sentences, with graphical displays.  Poor people are poor because of rich banks.....bankruptcy is triggered by greedy business operations....and life would be better if food production was controlled and run by the government.
The kid finishes high school....goes off into the world, and within a couple of years....has discovered a good bit of information that wasn't mentioned in school.  He or she....begins to ask questions and grasp simple economic concepts that would have taken an hour in school to get across.

Eventually, we come to this conclusion that high school was more or less a total waste after the ninth grade.  You should have been in trade school by age sixteen or in some college prep situation....rather than wasting three years on miscellaneous information that didn't really teach you much.

On the positive side?  We employ 200,000 teachers in this useless three year period of high school.....and help to keep them employed and teaching nothing. It's like teacher welfare, and it's a positive thing to keep those poor folks working at something.....rather than replacing transmissions, selling insurance, or managing a Piggly Wiggly.

Just the Way It Works

This is the way that it works.

Gus, Barney, and Wilber all got peppy and enthusiastic about politics and decide to help Senator Snuffy run for President.  Senator Snuffy wins, and the boys are invited to be "on the team" in Washington.

So in early January, Gus, Barney and Wilber arrive.  Gus ends up as a political appointee at the Agricultural Department....but he'd admit he knows nothing about farming, agriculture or economics.  Barney gets placed over at the State Department, but has a degree in journalism and has only traveled internationally to Aruba.  Wilber arrives at the CIA to be a political appointee, but has only background in IT sales and the used car industry.

The three spend spend their initial month....getting accustomed to their fourteen by twenty foot office.  They ask for newer furniture.  They want the state-of-the-art Blackberry free of charge via the gov't job.  They are frustrated over the sixteen minute walk from the parking lot to their offices.  They hate the forty to sixty minute drive into work and continually talk of taking Metro.

The permanent folks try their best to introduce the three to the "real world".  Briefings are passed around.  Knowledge packages are developed.  Somewhere in the mess....Wilber and Barney get a highly classified package explaining some very critical and important government programs.....all sensitive in nature and complex to the degree that you need an entire day to read forty pages.  Wilber and Barney basically spend ten minutes reading the info, and toss it to the side.

Senator Snuffy?  He's asking for new furniture, talking big to lobbyists, getting into a new golf schedule (three afternoons a week), writing more speeches to make his blessed voters happy, and mostly missing introduction briefings to various programs that he ought to know but doesn't care about.

Across the nation....every four to eight years....we repeat this process.  We bring in idiots who get political appointee status and sit there.....thinking they run the actual process.....when in reality, without knowledge or understanding.....the process is running them.

This week, we had some senators confess that they just didn't know nothing about surveillance of international leadership.....even though they sit through the briefings and get weekly update status reports.

We had a President admit that he just didn't know anything about surveillance of international leadership......even though he sat there through briefings and got weekly update status reports.

In three years, a fair sum of these folks will move on and a new naive crew will arrive.  In the Senate, we will continue to rely upon some dimwits who claim they know all....when they know nothing.

There's something wrong here.  But it's best not to say it in public....or you'd just get folks upset.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

The NSA and Tonga (A Parody)

In a fit of anger, the King of Tonga.....Tupou VI.....acted quickly on Tuesday.....demanding the US ambassador to Tonga come and have urgent talks.

It'd come to the King's attention that the NSA had not been collecting on his emails or phonecalls....like other countries (Spain, Germany, France, Italy, Greece, etc).  The king rattled on for an hour....about the lack of spying on Tonga.

The US ambassador finally agreed....that there ought to be some spying.....but he didn't know to what extent.

The King....seeing an opening....suggested that a group of three hundred NSA personnel ought to be required in Tonga to properly manage the spying apparatus there in the country.  They'd have to be paid a particularly high housing amount.....which would relate to more expensive houses being built in Tonga.

The US ambassador was a bit disturbed about this part of the deal....confessing that normally....most of the NSA folks resided in Virginia or Maryland.  This would not do....confided the King of Tonga.  They'd have to be living in Tonga....to experience the true picture of spying on a foreign land.  This would include eating Tonga food, drinking Tonga booze, and paying Tonga taxes.

Back and forth, for six hours this conversation went.

Finally, there was some agreement....just to continue the discussion later in the week.  The US ambassador agreed to bring in some NSA representative to help conduct these talks, and the King promised a dinner....fit for a king.

All of this.....was of course....reported by the Chinese....who are already spying on Tonga and the Americans.  Hu Wang sat in his Tonga villa.....amazed that he was already well established and no NSA operation existed on Tonga.

At the end of the day, Hu Wang sent his full report on the Tonga request for NSA reporting back to China.  Of course, this was monitored by the French secret service, and quietly reported back to France.

The French report?  Well....it was quietly seen also by the German BND, and the Russians.

A week later.....two thousand various intelligence collection folks flew into Tonga and began major surveillance operations.....pumping in $40 million a month into the Tonga empire.

The King was eternally happy over the vast change of economic fortune, and personally sent a bottle of wine to that Snowden guy for the idea to get surveillance economics brought into Tonga.

Simply Observations

Somewhere in the heat of Monday....the President signed an order that extends out the mandated date that you must sign up for the Affordable Healthcare Act.....for an extra six weeks.  There is this simple belief that all computer issues can be resolved in November, and everything will be fully operational by early December.  I'm guessing computer software writers are putting in seventy-plus hours a week now.....trying to make this mess work to some degree (whether successful or not).  If they reach mid-December and it's not working?  Well....that would be a curious thing to expect.

From the public side, there's now reports that various churches are entering into this mess because a fair number of their members simply don't understand the program, its benefits, or have a computer.  It's hard to imagine some church group suddenly have a great deal of understanding or skill with the program.  An enormous amount of trust is being put into this effort.  If you ask me....I'd prefer God's crew stay within their lines and stick with the spiritual needs of their members.

There's word this week that San Francisco political figures will put a public tax to the ballot....over sugar drinks.  Anything that would be sold within the city.....would have two cents of tax attached to each ounce.  Figure an extra 24-cents for a soda, and possibly a Big Gulp $1.20 tax.  It's all to make life miserable for soda drinkers, who later have health issues because of their 'addiction'.  The public view?  Hard to say......I would guess half the city is agreeable with such a tax.

Military folks are now admitting that they are doing liposuction.....to lessen their fat situation.....in order to pass the mandatory fitness requirements.  The experts say there's nothing illegal about this, but you have to look down the road at health issues and if someone were to visit a liposuction doc every two years.....this might lead to various issues later on.  I'd admit.....when I was in the Air Force and in that final six years of service.....if liposuction had been around and reasonably cheap....I would have likely done the same thing.

It won't make the national news....but the Long Island cops out of New York.....had a busy Sunday afternoon.  All together, they arrested around seven bikers who were reported by residents and folks on the road....as 'issues'.  The accepted behavior of bikers over the past decade.....has kinda dissolved into a bunch of punk-kids who thought the road was a playground and anything goes.  For these seven....I would suspect the judges to be reasonable and just suspend their motorcycle license for a year or two.  Maybe that will get their attention.

The Farm and Life Skills

Growing up on a farm in Bama....often gave you life skills....that would shock you later in life as having massive value in the real world.

If you go cheap and buy everything for your farm in a cheap fashion....then you spend an inordinate amount of time working maintenance issues and rigging something to work when it just won't work.  The same is true in the real world.

If you have a 400-lb calf that is acting crazy in the chute.....having you in the chute area isn't that smart.  The same is true in the real world if you are in a bar with some drunk dimwits who are acting crazy at 1AM.

If you are waiting for some Auburn-educated county agricultural agent come out and advise you on the solution of something, and the best he can do is hand you a pamphlet....then there's something wrong.  The same is true in the real world when some political figure says he's out to help you.

There are fourteen thousand ways to get accidentally killed on a farm.  In the real world, curiously enough, there are fourteen thousand ways to get accidentally killed.  The only difference is that you as a kid on a farm....have to be thinking twice as fast.

Credit and debt on a farm....are a major cause of frustration and entanglement with bankruptcy lawyers.  Strangely enough....credit and debt in real life....basically go down the same avenue.

Maintaining decent relations with your neighbors and relatives on a farm....is worth a million bucks when all heck breaks loose.  The same is true with real life.

A six-dollar repair on a $40,000 piece of farm equipment....might be all you need, and thus avoid paying some fancy mechanic $500 just to advise you of the nature of the repair.  It works the same way in real life. Duct tape works in all situations.

Living a soap-opera lifestyle as a farmer....mostly leads to problems and issues.  The same is true in real life.

Stress, frustration, and worry are the greatest threats to a farmers sanity.  The same is true in real life.

Monday, 28 October 2013

The Heat Prediction Business

Some smart guys sat down at the Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder (Colorado) and came to this amazing conclusion.  They can predict periods of intense of heat approximately three weeks ahead of time.

They've looked over weather records and patterns since the late 1940s....studying the jet scream and various other weather items....coming to the conclusion that they can actually predict the intense heat periods.

What does this mean for the typical farmer or rural guy?  Well....it's hard to say.

If I came up to you on the 4th of June and said that intense heat is coming around 24 June....would you do anything to prepare for this?  Would you schedule some off-time?  Would you pack up and tour the Great Lakes at the end of June....just to get out of the heat?

This is the curious thing about knowledge.  Unless you know how to use it.....it's of no great use.

A farmer might get smart and work his butt off for that three week period....eighteen hours a day of work, and then for this period of intense heat (maybe two weeks, maybe four weeks)....just work two or three hours in the morning, and fish the rest of the day.

Electricity folks?  Oh, this might be an interesting item to know....when surges occur for days at a time and you can rig the prices to be higher and just grin when folks ask questions.

Now, if the weather guys could just predict tornadoes and develop the ability to dilute them.....I'd be willing to put them up for a Nobel Prize or such.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Train Wreck

I saw this over at the People's Cube and was entertained by it.

It's curious to note....from the 1870s onto the 1930s....train wrecks were a big deal.

If the local paper announced some big train wreck had occurred two hundred miles from your house....it's pretty good odds that you would have hitched up the wagon or saddled the horse...to ride for several days....to view the destruction.  Clean-up....used to take weeks and weeks.

At some point, with old and obsolete train engines around....we even got to the point of organizing train wrecks as entertainment.  You'd have folks pay to enter a "zone" and the two trains would be set to hit each other.  This was generally an accepted practice for several years....until the crowds were set up too close, and a number of spectators were killed or injured by the arranged accident.

You see....we Americans have this tendency to live boring and mundane lives.  It's been that way for two centuries.  So when we have a chance to view something of a fantastic nature.....well, heck....we got to go and see this.  A boat sinking, a barn fire, a fire truck overturned, a escaped lion from the zoo, a bridge collapsed, a tornado running down I-65, or a fireworks stand on fire.....draws us like magnets.

So I come to the healthcare episode.  Yeah, it's a train wreck and we are all quietly drawn to it now.  We can note the mess from our living room while watching CNN.  We can get close and personal with Doug...the guy from next door who got a cancellation note today from his insurance company.  We can call up that 1-800 number and get the feeling that even the help desk folks think it's a real train wreck.

In some ways, we are being entertained by this mess.  We haven't seen anything like this before.  Heck, the government could have charged money, and we'd have paid to observe it all from a safe distance.

This week....ought to be just a continuation of last week.  More train wreck images on health care.  Oddly, four weeks ago....it was the government shut-down train wreck, but that came to an eventual conclusion.  For some reason....I think this will be around longer than the shut-down.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

If Happiness Could be Legislated

I read an awful lot of international news.  Today, I came across a five-star story....quietly hidden, and probably only covered by a couple of papers in the US.

Venezuela has announced....via a government decision and supported completely by the present President/Dictator-in-Charge.....that from this day forward....there will be a Ministry of Happiness.  It's actually the Ministry of Supreme Social Happiness.....if you care about the entire title.

What the President will say in commentary is that this agency will combine all the various programs that were run singularly, by various managers, and in various ways....overlapped.  He didn't say it'd save government funding, or improve anything....just that staging them all under one roof...was a better government idea.

So you'd sit and ponder over this....a government agency....Ministry of Happiness....fixing all social ills.

Yeah, it was sarcastically received by the public and generally laughed about.  Folks in Venezuela have a pretty good sense of humor....even in dire, chaotic, and downward times.  Most probably sat there and asked if it was a Constitutional thing....that people ought to be happy.  Some probably asked if a happiness tax somewhere down the line for rich folks to pay.  A few probably asked if a fairness scale would be invented for some folks to be happier than other folks.

Would something like this work in America?  You've got over a hundred different cultural "clans", groups, or societies in America.  Balancing some happiness right upon all of them, and making it work day in and day out....would be physically impossible.  Some folks would want no government involvement in their lives to be happy.  Some folks would want maximum government involvement in their lives to be happy.  Some folks would agree to be happy....only if the NCAA bowl business was settled in a 'fair' fashion.

All of this happiness crap brings me to this odd conclusion.  Two or three years from now....the Nobel Peace Prize committee has to select some dimwit for the award.  Whoever is the head minister of the Happiness Ministry....might have achieved a couple of impossible tasks, and might accidentally impress the Nobel idiots enough....to win the award.  Course, it'd be a shock and the guy would fall over in a fit of laughter if this did occur.

We all need happiness.....but having the government deliver it.....is a bit hard to imagine.

The French Strike

In around four weeks.....an interesting episode unfolds in France.  The French soccer league will have it's first strike in forty-odd years.  It will end up on US business news, and it will bring a bit of curiosity to most Americans.

The deal is simple.  France in 2014 will bring out a new taxation plan.  If you make more than a million Euro a year as salary ($1.3 million dollars).....then your company or organization must pay a 75-percent tax on this.  Note, it's not the individual paying the tax....it's the company.

So you sit there and pause over this for a while, and then you start laughing.

Basically, the company would have hype up costs to everyone within their line of consumers....to make up for the lost revenue.  Or you'd have to cut the salaries enough....to balance some gimmick budget up for your company....to survive.

As far as the government is concerned....it's "fair".  We should note, they haven't yet grasped the idea that the consumer.....the little guy....will get the bill at the end for this mess.

So the soccer players....the majority of them.....especially the foreign players brought into France to pump up the superior quality of soccer that people expect....are making a million or more per year. The clubs are looking at how this will play out and are faced with limited options.  Let go of superior players and keep a bare minimum around?  Perhaps pass the tax costs onto the consumer.....the fans.....and just accept their whining of significant ticket cost?

All around France....major companies are viewing this tax and the necessity of going after rich employees or managers.  They will all pass the cost along to consumers.....so you can expect inflation for 2014 to be higher than normal.

What happens in the spring of 2014?  Higher priced non-French players might be on the market and looking at the US soccer league as a place where they can display their skills and make what they think is a fair wage with no gimmick taxes....at least for right now.

There's a meeting coming up next week with the French President and some soccer officials.  There's not much hope over some resolution or extension.  There's not expected to be any waivers.  So the strike for late November will occur, and the fans will wake up and start to ask stupid questions in early December.

It's a sad turn of events.....when soccer fans get all disturbed and frustrated over their government.....and start to put heat on political figures.

So when you hear about some soccer strike in France....don't think soccer.....think taxes.  And it'll all make perfect sense.  

Friday, 25 October 2013

Marines and Hats

I'm not much into hats.  From my Air Force period....I hated every hat ever issued....except the jungle hat I got in Panama.

This week, the Marines announced they are reviewing this radical idea of taking the Marine female hat, and making it the standard for Marine guys.  You can imagine the dramatic discussions going on, and how the older Marines are just hostile over this idea.  Marine historians will point out....in the 1800s....the female hat was standard for a while, then in the 1920s to the 1940s....the Marines went to the Army style.

From the picture, you can note the old style, and the suggested style (on the far right).

I've sat and paused over this idea and will offer this wisdom.  Personally, I think there are two other options which the Marines ought to consider.

First, I'm awful partial to the old Hapsburg empire military hats....with the long stove-pipe appearance and the fancy feathers.  Our Marines would look awful sharp and unusual in such hats.

The negative?  Well....you'd have to update the feathers yearly....with different colors for certain folks, and we might have to kill a whole bunch of different birds....to achieve the commercial success or failure of this.

The other negative is that a bunch of folks from Bama would get attached to the Hapsburg hats, and would start to wear them....instead of University of Alabama hats or Braves hats, or John Deere hats.

So, this brings me to option two....the old Jungle-Jim hat.  It's a neat hat because it works in summer or rainy periods.  It's tough and would last ten years easily.  If you got into a bar fight.....no one would crunch a beer bottle against your head.

We'd have to add a few symbols to it.  Maybe have it a slightly different color....like dark blue.  But you'd know a Marine from a hundred yards away.

My humble guess is that this is all just talk on changing the Marine hat....is mostly because no one has much to discuss during regular duty days.  Marines used to tell dirty jokes all day long....but that's gone.  Marines used to go into detail about combat but PTSD hampers them from discussing stuff like this.  Marines used to talk about Mexican hookers, but it's all bad now to discuss such affairs.  So hats.....just hats.....are easy enough and simple enough to get all heated up about.


The Code Writers

Years ago, in my Air Force period, I worked around military and contractor software programmers.  I'm not a techno geek, a IT wizard, or science guy.  I'm a farm kid that grew up, watched jeopardy, read a thousand-odd books, attended a couple of universities and colleges, and learned to appreciate Bama common sense and logic.

For some reason, I fell into the programmer crowd and their taste for logical statements.  You can't be into software programming....unless you grasp logic and how it must pass a logic test, or it fails.  Software is written to meet conditions of A, B, and C.  If you introduce D.....it fails.  If the software has a glitch with B, it fails.  If the statement for A is incomplete....it fails.

For me, this was great company, and an enjoyable period....where logic was tested daily, and things tended to work.

As the last couple of months have unfolded with the healthcare business....I came to realize this odd story sticking out in the business arena.  National press media...like Newsweek or CNN....would not likely touch this story.  Even Fox would just leave it to the side because it's not fitting into the normal list of topics.

You see.....as the program software writters got deeper into the healthcare platform....they came to this odd logic versus illogic problem.

The law states that you can't charge older folks more than three times what you charge younger folks, for health insurance.  If Karl Junior's insurance rate is $100 a month, then you can't charge Uncle Donny more than $300.  Well....Uncle Donny generally costs more than $300 a month.  So you had to invent a gimmick logical statement in the computer that says you will articifially raise Karl Junior's insurance to a point where it's fitting into the law's requirement.  Karl Junior might only need $1200 a year for health insurance by the old model....but because of the law and Uncle Donny....Karl Junior now must by $2400, to meet the 'three-times' rule of the law.

The program guys saw this and had no problem in writting a software code that met that situation.  As you can imagine.....there's likely three hundred lines of code (unknown to the precise amount because the gov't won't admit that)....so it's not exactly a simple tasking.

The code guy finishes that and pats himself on the back because it works.  It might not be smart or logical in the business world....but the code guy can make it work on the computer.

But now, this odd second thing occurs.  The law also has this smoker rule attached to it.  The smoker rule says that a older smoker can pay up to three times what a younger smoker would pay.  So if Uncle Karl smoked two packs a day.....he ought to pay three times what Karl Junior pays (if Karl smokes).

The software guys stood there and observed the two laws, as written.

Then they said.....they can't write a software code for the smoking deal.....if the code exists for Uncle Karl to be limited to three times the cost of insurance of Karl Junior.

This would all work fine....if you just said all smokers pay some additional fee of X dollars.  Or if you'd said that old and young smokers are basically the same creature.

In simple terms....it's unfixable for programming software writers.  There's no common logic.

This all came out in late June and nothing much has been talked in open media over the fix.  I doubt that any fix has occurred, and the one or two guys assigned to the smoker code are just standing out back of the building.....mostly smoking Camels, discussing NCAA football, and sipping Dr Pepper.  They can't fix....what is unfixable.

Software coding is a unique skill.  I came to note after a while that all code-writers are logical folks.  They generally all watch Star Trek and Stargate.  They sip a lot of Mountain Dew.  They generally all brag about the college project where they wrote thousand lines of code for a program that picked a NCAA March Madness winner or predicted the outcome of a marriage between Wonder Woman and Superman.

 It's a fair mess, but somewhere out there....there's probably some guy who could splice together a 300,000 line software code to balance the perfect nature between old guys and young guys, with old smokers and young smokers.  And yeah, it might even include a way to register to vote....in six different states.  It's all logical.

The Thirty-Five

Reports from our guy Snowden.....who sits comfortably in Russia....indicate that thirty-five world-leaders were spied upon by NSA.  The comments are in simple fashion....that around 2006....the NSA asked US government officials if they had any important phone listings, and someone ended up giving their special list of numbers direct to world leaders (thirty-five of them).  So begins this chapter of NSA collections.

What you can surmise from this....is that the NSA likely has the number of each of the thirty-five, and knows the 500-odd folks who rountely call that number or the 500 that the world-leader calls.  Likely the end of the story.  You can speculate about the rest of the story.

The event likely works this way.....some oil baron is working up a deal and gets some  important VIP to cough up the number to the President of Brazil.  They call in....reference some code or important connection...and get five minutes with President so-v-so.  If the President believes in the project....they pave the way.

The NSA guy looks at the calls of today....notes this new caller, and works to identify it to some oil baron.  A case file is established and folks eyeball what the oil baron is working on, and the fact that he probably has the blessing of the President to proceed.

If you were President of the United States.....you could walk into a meeting with several American oil barons, note that you have privileged info, and "sell" it for some deal.  The American oil baron calls up this other guy.....notes that he heard about some deal and wants a piece of the action.

So begins.....this comical new way of using intelligence, for commercial gain.   The truth is....the NSA guy never sees this end of the funnel and if he did.....he'd question the whole logic of running this type of operation.

It's an interesting note here....there are only thirty-five of these numbers of significance apparently.  If you are the President of El Salvador....you probably don't make the list.  If you are the President of Nepal.....you probably don't make the list.  If you are the King of Tonga.....you probably don't make the list.

Who else does this?  That might be something of interest....but obviously Snowden doesn't want or think it's of interest.  If a dozen other countries are doing the same thing.....then none of this spy-upon-spy business matters.  The fact that a hundred-odd countries in the world operate some type of intelligence efforts....from crude to modern.....ought to make you sit there and think about the massive nature of things.

So as you sit there tonight and call your cousin Larry about this septic tank issue for the fourth time in a week.....you might want to think about the idea that the Russians, the Chinese, the Israel government, the British, the French, the Germans, the Japanese, the Italians, and the Swedes.....might all be collecting your data and listening in on the conversation.  Maybe it doesn't matter.....but if Larry is hostile and anti-French.....it might not be a good clean database entry on you and cousin Larry with the French folks.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

The Glitch

Glitch is the word that we've heard a lot about over the past two weeks.

Historically, the word experts say that it originally came out of Germany, and meant 'slippery' when dealing with modern technology....not always meaning computers....but anything modern.

Over the past thirty-odd years.....we've come hear it spoken mostly with computers and IT situations.

Glitches happen.....then they somehow fall into a solution phase....then finally, they are fixed.  We typically don't ask a lot of questions....just accepting the fact that our computer dude (Snuffy) rebooted the server and tweaked some package to work right.

Having grown up on a farm, I'm accustomed to glitches.  A glitch is where the baler had some issue with the twine and now it's all tangled up and you need seventy minutes and a pocketknife to fix the issue.  Or, it's when you bought cheap Indian-made barb wire and your cows discovered it's not really that sharp and they drag down the fence.  Or, it's when you bought such-and-such part for the combine....to discover that you put the part in backwards and ruined the $700 replacement item in sixty seconds.

Glitches can be uncomfortable and drag you down emotionally.  Hours and days could be wasted on a glitch.  Money could be poured down a glitch black-hole.  Experts from around your neighborhood could arrive at your doorstep to advise you on your glitch and how they'd rectify the situation.  There are foundations that exist today....mostly to settle your nerves on national glitches.

The amusing thing?  There are some folks who live for glitches.  Their passion for life....is a glitch.  They are engineer-like individuals, who marvel at a glitch, and how it developed from absolute nothing to a unstoppable force.  One could say that American society lives upon glitches today.  If glitches didn't occur, then the NSA wouldn't be able to view fifty million French phonecalls daily.  If glitches stopped overnight, we wouldn't be amused by the government and it's untidy way of running things.

So as the day develops and glitches mount.....don't get overwhelmed.  Glitches are a part of your life.  You have to remember this....somewhere in the great beginning, there was this little planet with a wobble, and a bunch of space rocks hit it.....with hydrogen somewhere in the midst of this mess, and a glitch of sorts occurred....where life on Earth would eventually settle.  We.....are a glitch....and mostly proud of that.

Simply Observations

It hasn't really been seen much in US news or such....but in Europe....it's an item in the top ten.  Saudi Arabia and it's King (the only guy who matters there).....are peeved at the US.  They've run down the list of goofy failures that they've seen the US make over the past five years.  From the handling of Egypt, to the Syrian threats that deteriorated into a treaty of sorts with Russia.  The King kinda feels that some promises were made and broken....which in Saudi Arabia.....your word is a vow.  Well....the Saudis are now looking at other options and putting the US relationship on the backburner.  For this week and this month....it doesn't amount to much.  A year from now?  This might come back to be a major problem.

The Germans are getting all peppy now since they found out that the NSA guys were possibly sneaking around and viewing traffic and calls to Chancellor Merkel's phone.  The Chancellor called up President Obama to get a reading on this, and the President assured her that she was not a target.  Course, when the NSA guys sweep.....it's absolute maximum and all eighty million Germans were dumped into a bucket.  Last week, it was the French President who called and got all peeved.  The Mexican President also has laid into some negative talk about his phonecalls.  At this pace, we might eventually get around to Tonga, and complaints that the NSA was sweeping Tonga's King's calls.

This healthcare mess.....has a strange sense to it if you think about the normal way of life for an American.  If you needed a haircut.....you don't go to a government site to find all the local barbers and their cost.  If you needed a transmission job.....you don't go to a government site to find all the local transmission guys and their rates.  If you needed a shot of booze  at 11PM, you don't go to a government site to find all the bars in your neighborhood.  For some odd reason.....the government decided that they had to be in the middle of giant mess.....running it for you....and guiding you to some decision.  Maybe in the bigger sense of thing, that was the wrong strategy.

The bigger problem of the health care mess?  Even if the mandate is delayed....thousands of current healthcare policies are being cancelled per week now across the US.  These are policies which no longer meet the government's "standard".  All of these people need to find a new policy by 1 January....which is barely ten weeks away.  In the bigger sense of things....they really needed this stupid software platform to work.....guiding to the best and cheapest policy possible.  Now?  They more or less have to browse on their own.....ask stupid questions....and work up a major decision in the next two months.  It's not a pleasant situation to be in.

Finally, somewhere in the midst of the news....there's talk of 700 contractors who work for IRS, and owe roughly five million in back taxes.  No one is talking about firing them or suspending them....it's just that they work for IRS and owe back taxes.  I imagine if you asked the White House....they'd admit a dozen members of the White House staff owe back taxes as well.  If you asked CNN about their journalists.....someone would admit that a couple of the CNN guys owe back taxes.  The list goes on and on.  We might all be surprised to find that ten percent of the nation owes back taxes.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

If You Built Your House Like ObamaCare

If you bought some property and intended to build your dream house on it, and you used the ObamaCare strategy of management....the following would be true.

You'd write up a six-hundred page document of requirements for the house.  Various rooms would have both 110-and-220 voltage.  Some electrical outlets would be one-foot off the ground, and some would be one-foot off the ceiling.  Some carpet would be imported from Taiwan.  Some bathroom tiles would come from Honduras.  The shower would have a temperature gauge, a pressure gauge and a 40-setting that managed the way water hit your body.  The garage would be heated and cooled....precisely to 64 degrees.  Your windows would all be imported in from Belgium, and installed only by French-speaking guys.

As the head contractor started to order all the pieces and parts.....you decide a week into this episode that the lot you planned to use.....isn't big enough....so you stall the project for a month while looking for a bigger lot.

Once the new lot was procured....you restart the project.  A week later.....a flash flood occurs, and covers the lot with two inches of water.

You hire some genius with flood episodes named Larry to examine the lot and the historical situation.  He charges $250 an hour.  Two days later, he says there's an average flood like this every sixteen years.  You stop the project and move back to the original lot.

You restart the project, and quickly decide that the amount of lighting in the requirements document is just not enough....so you bring in some South Korean lighting engineer to study your situation.  He recommends massive changes, and the head contractor admits that he already procured the original light items.....which he can't return them.

Two months into construction.....you suddenly decide a second set of stairs is necessary to get into the basement.  The architect draws this up, and changes occur to the original plan.  Added cost?  Seven thousand for this one stairway.

A week later, you decide that you need a wine storage area in the basement, and stall the building team a month while figuring out how to place it neatly into the right area.

A month goes by and your wife decides that the kitchen isn't "French-enough", and redesigns the whole look again.  Added cost?  $140,000 and an extra month waiting for a delivery from the south of France.

Four days later,  your kids complain that their rooms need more electrical power.  Each wants a full-up refrigerator....with ice-maker.

Three years after the projects starts....it's finally finished.  As you inspect the house, you find 88 different issues with the original requirement and refuse to pay the construction team their final bill until these are fixed.  He refuses to certify the house as liveable....which means the city won't allow you to move into a house without that certificate.

Days, weeks, and months pass....as you argue.  The truth is....it's not complete.  It will never be complete.  It will never function as a simple house with four walls, a roof, and basic life requirements.
ObamaCare had great designs and massive requirements....over 2,000 pages of law, and at least twenty thousand pages of regulation now written into it.  It's a bold system that goes beyond anything that the government has ever done.  You can imagine D-Day operations and planning.....if the same people had been in charge of it.  Eisenhower would have dissolved the planning committee and simply told the President it wasn't practical to invade.

The sad thing is that some people had expectations and real need for health insurance of some marginal type.  Health Insurance companies function.....only if there is profit to be made....otherwise, they'd dissolve overnight.  We tried to treat a business....like it was a personal life-saver, and things just don't work that way.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

The Difference between 1941 and 2013

In 1941, the United States was suddenly, and deliberately attacked....provoked into a war beyond anything that they could have imagined.  Over the course of the next one-hundred days....a group of men sat down and drew up requirements.  These were simple requirements, with a clear understanding of what was to be delivered.

Tanks, battleships, cruisers, jeeps, rifles, winter clothing, battle rations, bullets, mortars, bazookas, canteens, web-belts, first-aid kits, and a million other items were all included in this requirement list.

Then the experts sat down and delivered.  Tanks had to crank up, and fire.  Battle rations had to be edible.  Bullets had to work when needed.  Submarines had to sustain life, and deliver torpedoes as necessary.  B-17s had to fly into a hornets nest, sustain the crew onboard, and recover back at the base.

It worked.

So here in 2013, we settled upon some software architect design, paid some dimwits to build it, counted the days and weeks down, and figured it'd all work OK in the end.

It didn't work.

Across the nation, a significant number of people needed it to work, and expected it to be simple.  A guy with a simple high school education.....ought to be able to log-on.....perform the actions....find a number of health insurance packages....price them.....grasp that nothing is really free or cheap, and come to this decision.  He probably won't be happy or ever satisfied, but it was a simple requirement that was achievable.

The difference between 1941 and 2013?  Three simple things.  First, we aren't capable of making anything simple anymore.  Happy meals must have warnings on the package, with toys approved by some authority, and meet some kind of guidelines.  Simplicity in design has dried up, evaporated, and disappeared.

Second, we forgot the concept of limiting the initial product to a limited design and architecture, and building onto the item in version two, version three, and version four.

Third and final....we politicized something....that ought never be politicized.  The minute you turn religion, health care, business, entertainment, or sports into something political....it starts a trend of failure somewhere down the line.  No one is ever content ever again.  If we had politicized 1941 and the buildup to fight the Nazis.....we'd still be fighting them today....with guns that only fire one out of every three bullets delivered, or tanks that crap out after sixteen miles on the road.

There's something wrong here....but it's best that we just don't start thinking about comparing 1941 and 2013.  We might get a bit frustrated, angry, and negative.....and that just wouldn't help to fix a big mess.

When News isn't News

Last week, while on vacation....I watched several TV reports and read through several newspaper accounts of how the Republican Party is going to break up into two parties.  I sat there laughing for the most part.  You have dimwits who are mostly Democrats in nature, both in politics and journalism....stating this belief.....telling you that they believe in this break-up.

It's kinda like some Catholic priest telling  you that the Baptist Church is in terrible woes and folks are breaking off into other sect-groups.

Course, a normal guy would bring up the fact that the old-style Democrats of the 1970s....really don't fit with the Democratic Party of 2013.  Or how the  union guys of the 1960s....are out of touch with the union guys of this era.  Or you could bring up how journalists of this era can't conduct investigative journalism like the journalists of the 1960s.

I hate to suggest this.....but news really isn't news anymore.

More than half of the journalists around today....are mostly cheerleaders who have a degree in something but it's not really journalism.  They are pretenders of some noted variety.

By November of 2014.....some idiot will ask the journalists if the Republican Party has broken up into second and third parties.....which will trigger the journalist to think for a second and respond 'no'.  They will become defensive and say that they had someone suggest this to them, and don't remember who it was.

Perhaps someone should start a rumor that the Democratic Party has already broken up five times and gathered their folks back into the fold as each election has occurred.  As much as old-style southern Democrats hate the national party of today....they stick to them.  As much as environmentalists hate the national party.....they stick with them.  As much as union guys hate the national party.....they stick with them.  As much as women hate the national party....they stick with them.

Yeah, it's really not news, if  you think about it enough.

Simply Observations

I've noticed Sixty Minutes getting all peppy about political figures using their political funds for slush funds and hiring relatives off the practice. It's amazing.....this was a prime story back around the 2001-period and spoken about to a great extent. And now....CBS Sixty minutes acting like it's a big new story? It kinda shows how bad investigative journalism has fallen over the past decade....finding old news....renewing the title and acting like it's big stuff.

The whole background to the ObamaCare failure? Well.....you hire a vice-president of a company to go high-political and get connections. That VP goes and gets a big contract for the company for around 98-million dollars, which comes only because of connections and a political donation. The company is smart....they build this database program around software design of a decade ago....which most insurance companies knew and used....at least in 2003/2004. You build this almost obsolete program....to corner the government in a year or two....forcing them to pay you 'fix-it', and then you convince them to pay more....to replace it. We are at the $500-million point right now....with a broke program, and by January....they will have spent another $500-million....making this billion dollar deal a comedy of sorts. Who should be held responsible? That's the big question....someone has to be fired.

The French are terribly upset that NSA has gathered up their phone records and recorded conversations. They've asked for the ambassador to come by and explain things, and yesterday....they had President Obama call. The best they got....was that there ought to be some talks over this. I would imagine that the President will just ask them for the information....rather than having the NSA drill into their systems. The French will stand there in amazement....then comply. The question would be.....do we even have French translation folks to run through billions of emails or phone traffic?


Finally, some group did science research and have this interesting idea.  Folks who have poor sleep....on a continual basis....have a higher rate of Alzheimer's.  There's no concrete reason given...mostly speculation over the build-up of plaque on the brain.  This might take another five years to develop the idea.....but it would start to explain better ways of fighting Alzheimers.....which generally would relate back to getting folks eight decent hours of sleep.  A hundred years ago....as the sun went down.....folks generally got tired, and fell asleep, and didn't get up until the sun rose.  We've lost that habit.

Friday, 18 October 2013

The Simplicity of Economics

For those who've never been off to college or university, and even those who have....there's this series of classes related to economics that you can take.  Economics experts will tell you their area of study...is a "science".  Some professors will laugh over that comment.....some will just grin....and some will just stand there to assure you that it's all science (believe it or not).

Economics 101 is roughly forty hours.  It's a basic introduction....through a series of lectures....to bring you into the vast world of economics.

Most students yawn through the second class, and barely drift in and out of the remaining lectures.  Economics tends to be awful boring when lectured at this level.  Most professors can't bring the topic down the level of a normal human being.  Abstract lecture, is the most painful of all lectures.  It's like sitting in a Baptist church on a hot July day, with the AC off, and the minister on some tirade over what Moses meant to say, but never said it in that fashion.

For the practical sense of things....there are only six real basic principals to economics.  You can build forty more classes and a thousand hours of lecture into this mess.....but those six principals are the mighty weight in which this world survives, and capitalism thrives.

1.  Economics rides off the premise that you stand up and offer a trade of something of value, for something else of the same or better value.  You work for a living and produce something that sells.  You buy a thousand pounds of apples, and sell them for a tidy profit.  You build a hotel that rents rooms for an exchange of value.  If there is no gain or no profit in the mix....economics fails....either slowly or swiftly.

2.  Consequences determine the future of economics.  You add onto a factory to make more of something, and months later....your consequence pays off.  You borrow money to support a marginal business deal....it fails....your consequence spells dome a year or two later.  You develop something that people will work forty hours to have the money to buy, and you profit off their desires.  All of these consequences are part of the blessings and dead-ends of economics.

3.  Motivation and enticement move economics like a river.  Your neighbor buys a new truck with all the bells and whistles.....you sit for months with desires of the same truck, and you eventually buy one. Your boss gets a new cellphone with various new technology features.....you get the urge to do the same.  All across our society today, motivation is moving tens of billions a month in sales....over things that you really don't need but desire.

4.  Market forces influence economics.  The plain truth is that you walk into a Sam's Club and buy a 100-lb bag of dog food for a very low price, but there's no practical way of you even moving this bag over than leaning it into the trunk and later rolling on the ground in the garage.  You buy the bulk bag because it saves you twelve percent off the regular price.  The same goes for a 800-pill bottle of asprin, the half-gallon apple jelly jar, and the five-gallon container of cheap California wine.  More for less.

5.  Billions of choices.  The simple truth is that an economy survives because so many people have so many different views of success, bargains, deals, and saving money.  Without the choices, the rational side vision of an economy would dry up and disappear.  People now pay millions to travel to Mexico for a beach vacation.  People will flip every three to four years to buy another wide-screen TV....whether they need it or not.  People will go through an entire Christmas season and spend little to nothing....because of a fear of the unknown stability of their job.  Choices drive the economy up, choices drive the economy down.

6.  Anticipation is the turbo-charger of an economy.  A wise CEO can forecast his business model, and develop the right products to deliver....then seize on sales to profit greatly.  Anticipation of a higher gas prices, will drive the public to buy only four-cylinder cars.  Anticipation of a hot summer will drive folks to upgrade their AC unit or replace it entirely.  Anticipation of  crime will drive people to buy guns and security systems for their houses.

Those six basic features of economics....usually take forty lecture hours, and only on rare occasions do most students agree that they got the 'jest' of the whole theme of the lecture.  If you can take the six features, and lay them out in simplicity.....you just wrapped up an entire class.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

I Hate Travel

I have come to a point in life where I generally hate travel.  I hate jet-lag, airlines, hotels, the general chaos, bad food at airports, bus travel, lousy trains, waiting, lugging a thirty-pound suitcase, and making all these travel arrangements to work in an efficient fashion.

With the exception Southwest and Iceland Air....I regard almost all airlines as two-star.  They could delay a flight simply because the pilot didn't show up on time.  They could offer you three inches of extra legroom on an international flight for $80.  They make the toilets on most planes just big enough for you to slip your pants down.....but never enough to bend and pull your pants back up.  Entertainment is probably the only thing over thirty years that improved.

Airports?  Most all the food you find is marginal stuff that you wouldn't even feed your dog.  The cost is relative to something in Disneyland....usually fifty percent higher than it should be.  A beer will never be less than $5, and a Coke never less than two bucks.  That fancy hotdog?  It's a minimum of seven bucks and you generally dump it after four bites.  Except for a Snickers....there's really not much to snack on.

Hotel planning these days consume a minimum of an hour.  You decide on the location, then you look at the twenty possibilities.  Prices and stars usually matter, but then the new internet world brings up personal reviews.  A nice place for $80.....you come to note has four recent bad reviews.....bedbugs are mentioned in each one.  The $105 room had negative reviews over breakfast.  The $119 place was said to be overpriced for what they offered.  You eventually venture to a $60 a night room which has only two reviews and both seem happy with it, but they were both truckers.  You shake your head because it used to be simple.

I hate the bag business.  I used to travel real light, then I went to hefty bags, and now I'm back to a 20-pound bag.  The airlines made this a big mess by charging now for every single bag (except Iceland Air).

Waiting in airports?  If they have TV's set up....it's set to CNN, and you usually try to find someplace where there is no TV in plain view.  Folks sit around whining about the travel situation, the stress, the chaos, or someone complaining about a relative coming to pick them up at the final destination in the wrong vehicle (it should have been the big car, not the small car).

If you have been around a bus depot in the last couple of years....it has gone to marginal status.  Homeless guys wander around and pretend to be travelers.  Nutcases come up and start some discussion over where you came from and where you are going.  Some guy will be wearing a boot on one foot and a tennis shoe on another.  Some sixty-year old gal is going to visit relatives over in the next state, and admits that she's never been out of her home county in her life.  The only safe thing to eat is the cheese-and-crackers out of the machine.  The wannabe cop advises folks to stay inside the terminal and not stand near the buses (that's secure territory that only he monitors).

The train terminals?  They are mostly all in parts of towns that you'd never go at night, and you notice that nothing has been painted or renovated since 1974.  A private security guy wanders around but he's seventy years old, and would be more prone to shoot first and ask questions later.

If you arrive in Atlanta, or DC, or Chicago....most of the taxi drivers are all foreign guys with a thick accent.  You use regular English, then you slip over to southern English, and then finally you go to simple phrases....to explain where you need to be dropped off.

Chaos is around every step.  Storms come through and get you stuck somewhere.  Trips are cancelled for odd reasons.  Hotels overbooked.  So you are continually working off a plan "B".  No trip is complete.....unless you already have a strategy ready for bad situations.

Yeah, I absolutely hate travel.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Explaining Climate Generation

Bama guys like science.....but it has to be simple and to the point.  The minute you consume more than fifty words....you've lost the audience around you completely.  The explanation has to be simple enough....that even a Bama high school science teacher can comprehend.

So the topic is spontaneous generation.  A simple term.

Years and decades ago.....folks believed in this remarkable science theory.  If you asked educated folks around in the 1700s....the great majority would say it's a fact....yet unproven.

So the theory goes this way.  You tossed some cheese into a closet....a week later there's a mouse in that closet.  The idea of the spontaneous generation was that the cheese created the mouse because he wasn't in the closet before.

Naturally, in today's world....you'd look at the idiot explaining this and suggest that he'd best find another occupation or career in life....if he was intending to be a scientist.

In the 1700s....this spontaneous idea really helped a lot of folks explain the realities of life around them.  You didn't need a complicated answer.....so this just plain made good sense.

To some degree in today's world.....we need spontaneous generation to some degree....to exist.  We don't have facts in the bulk of science....so we work with theories, and computer models.  Eventually, we publish these as 'fact', encouraging people go just let go of disbelief and absorb our modern version of spontaneous generation.

Course, a Bama guy would step into a mess like this.....suggest the spontaneous nature of this new 'fact', and the other guy would get all disturbed and upset.  Challenging folks, and dumping on new science isn't very polite.  So we tend to grin.....just shake our heads at the dimwit, and walk away.  He might think he's sold folks on spontaneous generation....but the truth is that most disbelieve this guy's science and don't want to insult him too badly.

Global cooling, global warming, climate change, and climate generation?  Yeah, the mouse-in-the-closet concept.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

The Hours Topic

As a kid, I can remember most all stores closing down by 7PM.  It wasn't a big deal.....maybe a fair sized crowd over the last hour or so of the store being open, but that was life.

At some point in the 1980s....stores went into hyper mode.  Some stayed open till 10PM.  Over the last decade.....you can find a number of Wal-mart operations that stay open twenty-four hours a day, and long list of stores open to midnight.

I was reading through the international press, and noted this odd story coming out of Paris.

A court stepped in and forced a store to accept local standards on closing time.  The store in question?  Sephora (they specialize in cosmetics and fancy smelling liquids).  They had this notion of staying open until midnight through the week, and until 1AM on Friday and Saturday evenings.

I sat there....pondering....who the heck walks into a perfume and cosmetic shop at 11:30PM?

Would a French gal sit there at the couch, and suddenly dictate to Arbor or Remy that they've run out of some pond-water solution, and at 10:45PM....they might need to drive over to the cosmetic shop to pick up some fresh new batch?

Would Arbor or Remy react?  It's hard to imagine some tough French guy standing there and thinking of going out....but not for a beer or soccer game....but to take their Coco down to shop that late?

The sad thing is that you actually need the government to step in and tell you as a business owner or company....to better manage your work-hours and open-hours.

Then you start to ponder over what stores ought to be open until midnight.  A chain-saw dealer?  A muffle-repair shop?  A fake-made-in-Mexico fur shop?  A weed distributor?  A septic tank dealer?

All of this leads to one conclusion.....we seem to have better things to do than sleep.  And that just doesn't seem right or logical.

Monday, 7 October 2013

The Bama Ten Standards

To be a true resident of Bama....you generally have to meet ten standards:

1.  You need to accept NCAA football as a religion....more or less.  You tend to lean toward the University of Alabama, but even if Auburn wins (except when playing U of A).....it's a good thing.  The NCAA bowl committee is considered second only to Hitler on the bad guy list....mostly for not giving wise decisions out on Bama in the bowl process.

2.  You need to own at least five sidearms.  They can be pistols, rifles or shotguns.  Bows don't count.  You don't have to fire all five in an average year....nor do you need ammo in the house for all five.  You tend to take at least one with you in the truck, and use it mostly to kill snakes or such.

3.  Ice tea is generally preferred while in the company of friends and associates.  Spring-water and buttermilk are acceptable as well.  You can sip beer or booze....but only in wet-counties (something you'd best ask about before mentioning your preference).

4.  You generally need to dislike all political figures, period.  Course, you will find reasons to support various Republicans or Democrats.

5.  After a four-star storm, it's the general practice of all Bama folks to drive around and note damage to neighbor's houses and barns.

6.  Most Bama folks are members of Sam's Club or such, and as part of the membership.....they buy in bulk....twice as much as they'd ever require.  So you tend to offer up eighty pounds of dog-food to your friends and neighbors.....just to show your hospitality.

7.  As a Bama resident, you need to memorize and remember your local TV channel news anchors....first and last name.  Folks also tend to zero in on their attire, note the haircut, hair-tint, and the one-star jokes that are told at odd times with the weather guy.  Also, take note that whatever the local weather guy says....is gospel.....but probably not correct.

8.  A Bama resident has to be able to explain complex problems and issues in sixty words or less.  After that....it's not worth remembering or discussing.

9.  Style, Renaissance, brilliance, finesse, grace and flair....are all things that Bama folks were not generally blessed with.  Don't be discouraged though....God handed out compassion, logic, creativity with chain-saws, ample patience, and the presence of mind to ask stupid questions to Bama folks.

10.  A Bama resident has to be able to react on a moment's notice.....to a tornado, a whoop-ass event, a Ford F-150 breakdown, a cow out, a relative visit, a septic tank failure, a loss by the state team, out-of-state folks asking stupid questions, Baptist ministers tasking them on drinking habits, UFO reports, and wild women behaving under the influence of something.  The seconds between an action, and reaction....are precious few for a Bama resident.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

The Ten Things I Can't Stand Anymore

I've come to this list of things that I really don't have much patience with anymore.  I've gotten to an age with some limits.

1.  I can't stand the vast majority of the Today Show.  It doesn't matter who the host is.....I just have this feeling of fake news, fake journalism, fake reality, etc.  They seem to want you to reprioritize your thoughts and put some items at the very top....which make no sense.  The New York scale of things?  Well....it seems to bleed into every story.  The five-minute news piece at the top of the hour?  You get this impression that some second-year college student wrote the piece and edited it to the extent that you are expected to be as dumb as a brick.

2.  Interviews with Senators.  Frankly, I've reached a point where it doesn't matter what network is on....any interview involving a Senator....I'd prefer to hit the mute button.  Maybe it's the quality of the idiots coming into DC, or too many minutes watching Senator McCain, or the feeling of a dimwit explaining something complex to you.....but I just don't have much patience left for these guys.  I'd almost prefer to hear an interview with retired New York Yankee short-stops....than Senators.

3.  After-shave and perfume.  Truthfully?  I can sit in a restaurant or pub now, and smell a dozen different bogus smells, and it all tends to smell like some Bulgarian brothel.  Some of these perfumes today tend to smell like some citrus kitchen clean....which makes me to wonder who exactly is designing this stuff.  And these idiots pay $50 a bottle for it?

4.  FM pop and rock stations.  Ninety percent of what I tend to hear on regular FM pop and rock stations is crap.  I've come to this opinion after a couple of months in Germany and realizing the better tunes and choices being played here.  Maybe it's the bogus nature of the music business in the US, or just people stuck on Madonna or some rapper.....but it's gotten to a point of being pretty bad.

5.  Lawyer Advertisements on TV.  In the 1990s.....I might have seen a dozen commercials a year on some channel.....laying out legal options and services.  Today?  On an average day with a network out of Huntsville.....there's probably forty legal service advertisements.  They are begging you to call up and sue someone.  They hint always of massive wins....but after you figure taxes and their fees.....you'd barely walk away with forty percent of the real take.  All that pressure and stress.....for a limited amount?

6.  Bad hotels.  Two decades ago.....I would have stayed at a Motel-Six and never said a word.  Today?  Between bed-bugs, bad maid service, potential for crime, and crappy rooms.....I just don't have patience for a bad hotel.  For this reason, I find myself forcing the scale upwards.....toward more expensive places.....just to feel good for twelve brief hours.  Another extra forty bucks, for twelve lousy hours that come and go.

7.  Medical TV Experts.  In an average year.....if you counted up.....you are confronted with at least four hundred different medical experts of various sorts from your TV viewing.  They will tell you all kinds of things.  To be honest, after a while.....I start to question half of them and their advice.

8.  Soap operas.  There might have been this brief period in the 1980s where I'd watch some soap opera on a regular basis.  Today?  They all seem fairly fake, with dimwit characters that can't seem to get nothing right, and story-lines that just stagnant.  You'd like to meet up with this Phil-character and just knock some sense into him.  You'd like to drag this Wesley-character over to a barber and give him a Marine-cut.  You'd like to drag the real Wanda-character and the fake Wanda-character both into a mental hospital and just leave them there.  I'd almost accept watching McHale's Navy over any soap opera on TV today.

9.  Climate Change experts.  The minute that CNN or ABC introduces Doctor So-v-So of some Global Warming foundation....I've stamped him fake and bogus.  It doesn't matter what degree he pretends to have, or some research he cherry-picked, or the weeks he spent in the Arctic studying weasels......he's fake.

10.  Time and Newsweek.  When I travel....I need something to read.  I'll usually pick newspapers of some variety.  Time and Newsweek?  I just won't touch.  They've lost their appeal.....rely on some fake stance or view....and limit you to one understanding of a topic.  So I skip them.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Women Drivers (or the lack of such)

A couple of years ago....Saudi Arabia turned loose a special committee of sorts....actually a Muslim religious council.....to study the idea of allowing women to drive.

The end product of discussion and investigation?

Well....the religious council came to advise the royal Saudi government that relaxing the ban on women drivers....would lead onto some serious consequences.

First, women drivers would lead to more homosexuality in the county.  Details and scientific analysis were lacking....but it was a simple fact.

Second, relaxing the ban on women drivers would lead more Saudi men and women to porn addictions.  Details and scientific analysis were lacking....but it was a simple fact.

Third, relaxing the ban on women drivers would lead to more children being born with disorders.  Details and scientific analysis were lacking.....but it was a simple fact.

Fourth, relaxing the ban on women drivers would lead onto more divorces, and more prostitution.  Details and scientific analysis were lacking....but it was a simple fact.

Fifth, relaxing the ban on women drivers would lead within a decade....to no more virgins within the kingdom.  Details and scientific analysis were lacking....but it was a simple fact.

For the record, for roughly seventy years....women drivers in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia have been forbidden.

Presently, Saudi Arabia is the last country left on the face of the Earth....with a ban on women drivers.

A Bama guy would look upon this type of thinking, and admit it's an interesting crowd.  You form national consensus and a vision of the way ahead....with no reality, no pure logic, no analysis, and no facts.  Leadership doesn't really exist....you just have some dopes who get peppy over religion and it's connections to life.

There's an interesting thing coming in 2015....Saudi women will have the right to vote handed to them.  No one is real sure over what this will mean in the end.  Maybe the Tea Party arriving...."Saudi-style"?  Maybe the women driver-ban being disposed in a decade?  Maybe nothing changes?  Life is full of surprises.  I'm guessing the Saudis by 2017....are in a fit of sorts....with half the nation wondering where normalcy went, and the other half wondering just how far you can push a bunch of idiots.

South Park

South Park had been on for about a decade....before I sat down one day and watched an episode....the ManBearPig introduction of Al Gore.

For roughly twenty-odd minutes....I was entertained.  Then I sat there at the conclusion and realized that a lesson had been laid out for an adult or child to sit and ponder upon.  You could ask yourself a couple of simple questions....feel amused....find some logic....and conclude that Al Gore and Global Warming were jokes.

Over the past five years....I've come to respect South Park.  It's not a cartoon as kids grew up with in the 1960s.  They are careful to weave in some four-star dialog....some comic relief....some scenarios that blend into the news....and give you twenty-odd characters that you seem curious about.

The material?  There are times that you'd think that Hemingway or George Orwell or George Gordon Byron might have written on a slow afternoon.  A simple piece on the opera of wrestling....leading onto a staged event....and ending with a five-star climax.....all done by cartoon characters out of some Colorado mountain town?  It ought to be impossible.

Wit and wisdom are dispensed from minute to minute.  Sometimes....you find yourself hit with a one-liner by Butters....and you have to rewind to hear the quote a second time.

South Park in some ways....is a bigger threat to liberals than the Republican Party.  It's causing you to think over words spoken, fake political theater, amusing wannabe journalism, and TV programming out of control.  Toss in the characters who progress with problems each week, and seem to need a Jesus-character to save them, and the series hits you with a dose of reality.

Limits?  I just can't think of a single topic that they won't touch.  That might be the key to its success.

Juvenile?  Well...I'd agree that eight-year old kids are watching it and laughing.  But there's sixty-year old guys watching it, and laughing as well.  It stretches across the various borders.

In this mighty world that we live....it's hard to imagine that a cartoon with kid characters.....would challenge us to the extent that Socrates might have expected.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Men and Women Graudates

Occasionally, I'll see an interesting statistical display and spend some minutes pondering over it.

Today?  There's this listing of folks who study up for master's degrees, by field of study.  It's from 2012....so it's current.

So you gaze at it.  Women are moving into various fields....at a higher rate than guys.....pure and simple.  Well....except for two fields: math/computer science, and engineering.

You look at the numbers and come to a conclusion that these fields are flipping too well to female students.

Then you gaze at the enrollment of grad students, and it's basically the same story....no real advancement.

You can already predict in thirty years that the vast number of doctors that you come across by that point, will be women.  Most Public officials?  Women.  Most teachers?  Women.

But that engineering and math club?  It's male-dominated....even into 2030.  University leadership positions, support staff upper management?  By 2030, you can sense that it'll be mostly female leadership at colleges throughout the US.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

The Seventy-Percent Flight

I have to fly from DC to Huntsville this Wednesday.  My airline?  I'd best not give it's name, but the regularly scheduled flight....a straight shot....is noted in the airlines world for only a seventy-percent on-time record.

Years ago....no one kept statistics, and things just proceeded on.  An airline would take off late, folks would ask questions, accept stupid answers, and life was simple.

Somewhere over the years....folks finally complained to congress, and there's now an official record kept....for months and months.  Each single flight is now measured....day by day.

You'd think that an airline would just get smart, add forty-five minutes onto a regular two-hour flight, and tell everyone that it take 165 minutes to reach their destination, then surprising them by getting there forty minutes early on most occasions.  For some reason, they just won't lie like that.

So you start to see little notes on Orbitz or the other ticket-sales sites now.....telling you that a plane is eighty or ninety percent on time.  Me?  Well....I've come to notice that some airlines have bad reputations and have to absorb more discounts....so they tend to sell you a ticket for a little less.

The sad part to this story?  If you were counting on leave one airport, reaching Atlanta and having sixty minutes to reach another gate, and take the final leg of your journey.....you'd be a fool to accept a deal with a seventy-percent airline deal.  It just won't work.  But if you have only one leg.....and if they take off an hour late.....you don't really care.

The plain truth is that we haven't improved in thirty years on arrival times, and folks seem to think there's some magical way of fixing this.  There simply isn't a fix.  In the old days....we were simply happy to be at the destination point at the end of the day....with our bag. Our expectations have gone up a bit.  That's life in 2013, the seventy-percent solution.

No Hillary?

It won't be mentioned much....but CNN killed off it's hyped documentary on Hillary Clinton this week, and a day or two later....NBC killed off it's mini-series.  Both hinted that they found few, if any, of her friends and associates were willing to provide comments or information for their projects.  The vast majority of Hillary associates....simply refused to even comment.

What happened?

It would be curious to know how two major entertainment projects just collapsed.  My humble guess is that in the very beginning...everyone....including Hillary....felt this was a great four-star opportunity.  Then reality set in.....would they be able to control a hundred percent of the production?  No....and then doubt set in.

If you could tell the whole Hillary story in the correct prospective.....then she ought to be President today.  If you tossed in five or six fairly negative or comical stories....then folks start to see her as a mortal person and not some mythical political figure.  I suspect that fear got into the system, and the whole mini-series project and documentary idea just died off.

The other problem is that you could produce two different series....with two slightly different prospectives, and confuse people.  In this vast new America.....folks are naive to a degree, but if stories conflict....they tend to toss both stories and try to forget about everything in general.

The lack of a mini-series and documentary?  Well....she has to write a book....to tell some story that people will note her great features.  That's expected.  But without this extra glossy affect of TV or video....she comes to a limited point in the primary season.  Yeah, another unknown character could appear from some small town, and shock everyone with real debate skills (something Hillary lacks).

The plus side of this cancellation?  CNN goes back to fake environmental climate control emergency production.  NBC goes back to Dukes of Hazard remakes.  And everyone wonders about the 'real' Hillary, and who she might be.

Shut-Down of the Shut-Down

I sat and watched a dozen news channels yesterday.  Most were European (British Sky, BBC, the French version of CNN, CCTV-Chinese News, Russian RT).  A couple were business-related networks.

Of course, the chief topic is the anticipated shutdown.  The Europeans rolled the title around.....the Americans are out of money....kinda like being Greece in a way.  On the US networks, I noted this was dire, terrible, and woeful in nature.....mostly acting like it'd never happened before.

I had been in the Air Force for a year in the late 70's, when the bosses tended to note that no budget had passed Congress and we were down to two weeks before 'issues' were going to occur.  It was mentioned to some degree in the Stars and Stripes, but for the majority of folks.....nobody knew much of anything.

What we were told briefly by the Air Force.....was that when the shutdown occurred....we were to keep working.  The base bank would accept checks and pretend we had money.....even when we didn't.  Roughly seven days into this shutdown period, Congress whipped up a budget, and our checks arrived on time by the 15th.

That was my first real grasp of this whole shutdown business.  It would occur another couple times before I retired in 1999.  Generally, no one ever got peppy or upset about it.

Today?  It's odd....CNN and MSNBC act like it's the end of civilization.  The BBC acts like it's a government failure tied to the Republicans.

The script to this episode?

The President and the Administration is heavily counting on the news media (NY Times, Washington Post, CNN, ABC, etc) to put a theme message out by Friday....blasting Republicans.  The basic hope is some continuing resolution, which simply means money is being paid out but we really didn't end the problem....just prolonged it to another day. The Republicans would fall over themselves by the weekend, and by Sunday....drop their whole strategy.

It would be a good plan which would work in any of the past four years.....but there's a small issue.

There's been so many emergencies......so many fires.....so many false scandals.....that most of the public doesn't really believe the journalists, newspapers, or wannabe TV news empires.

In effect, the President has crossed a number of bridges and then burnt them to the ground.  More than half the public has noted this, and just laughs over any serious commentary by a dimwit from the Today Show or ABC Nightly News.

So, my scenario is simple....come next Monday....the President realizes now that no real changes are coming from the Republicans.  He brings in a special team to evaluate what he can do now....without any Congressional support.  Ten days into this shut-down.....plan "A" by the Administration is doomed, and plan "B" doesn't look favorable.

Around day fifteen.....the Administration tries to convince Senator Reid to find a good compromise.  By day seventeen, things have turned comical as the President has dumped his traveling schedule and is locked down in the DC because of negative polling data.

Around day eighteen....the compromise is met....with the Republicans extracting the majority of what they wanted.  The Administration has lost its favorable rating with Democratic senators....and the news dimwits have decided to avoid talking about any of the event.

Maybe I'm wrong, but half the nation just doesn't think a shut-down is a big deal.  Sequestration was supposed to be the end of the Earth, and it wasn't.  Other 'themes' by the Administration have gone in the same direction, and folks just don't react like it's a real mess or problem anymore.  It's like a vibration on your car....that you just accept...even though you know it's a bad left tire on the front.

In a way, we are waiting and anticipating....any moment now....that the Three Stooges will suddenly emerge from a side-door, and this whole fire-after-fire-after-fire situation was just a comedy skit of theirs.  Well.....it'd be nice to think that.