Thursday, 16 May 2013

Two Things

There were two odd stories from today's news.

First, the US Marshall's Service, who runs the witness protection program.  They came up to admit this week....there's these two Islamic guys who got into the witness program, and frankly....the US Marshall's can't find either one.

Yep, they searched and searched.  Neither are where they are supposed to be.  Neither left a forwarding address.  Neither is being tracked by any US enforcement agency.  Lost, for all practical purposes.

There is some indication, by parties unknown.....that the two guys have left the US.  Where did they go? Don't know.

This apparently popped up around a year ago, and the boys over at the Marshall's Service have been working through the 18,000 folks on their list, to see if any other witness protection folks have just walked away.

An issue?  Well....you wonder if the two guys just got jobs down in Mexico, or went off to Canada, or just jumped off the plane in Columbia.  But in this case, we will never know.  A chance they might show up and blow something up?  Well....it'd be nice to know their background, but we can't let that information out in public.

The second story?  Some smart guys went out and found this odd science thing....guys who smoke a good bit of weed.....mary-j-u-wanna.....don't typically get diabetes.  These regular smokers have a lower chance of being insulin-resistant.

These guys also figured out that there is a relationship between your body-mass index, and regular weed-smoking.  If you smoke a good bit of weed.....you have a fairly slim body.  Reasoning?  The smart guys aren't sure.  Something in the weed?  Yeah, very likely.

So they aren't saying to go and regularly smoke weed....but they are hinting that if you did have some issues with diabetes....you might be better off smoking on a regular basis....some weed.

You can see this report, and a bunch of non-weed smokers discussing the matter.  Naive folks....looking around....asking how to buy weed....how to smoke it.....worried that their neighbors would find out, etc.

The funny thing is that we probably had a pretty good instrument to work against diabetes for the past hundred years, and just didn't realize it.

Toilet Paper and Democracy

You just can't make stuff like this up.  The government of Venezuela is running out of toilet paper.

It appears, based on the current economic policy where the government invents a price they think is fair for a product, and then force everyone in the state to sell at that rate....that they've now got a national shortage on toilet paper.

It's being reported now that the government is rushing to bring fifty million rolls into the country....to boost the toilet paper supply.  You can imagine this ship leaving Brazil or Mexico.....loaded with pallets and pallets of toilet paper.  It arrives at the port with two hundred trucks on the dock....to rush the toilet paper out to the rural areas of the country, and the capital city....to save paper before they are forced into using newspapers.

A modern country forced into a mess like this?  Yes.  Once you get to dictating what prices will be and how things will be sold....you dump yourself into a fairly deep mess.

Politics now?  You can imagine....one party blasting another party, for toilet paper shortages.....going on and on.  There's likely some Venezuelan-like guy like Karl Rove....blasting the leadership of the country.  There's probably some Fox-news-like channel blasting away at such incompetence.  And there's probably a Spanish-language type Limbaugh....talking on the terrible woes of the country, and how he's so close to having nothing to wipe his butt with.

My humble guess is that a dozen Harvard Business School scholars are likely down in Venezuela, examining this whole issue, and pandering the idea if such a problem could ever occur in the US.  Might we come to a point where a roll of toilet paper is worth $6?  Could your local drug dealer be selling meth, weed, and toilet paper?

The sad thing?  People used democracy, and asked for this.  And they got exactly what they desired.  It's a good thing they haven't hand out laxative freely as part of some government program.

Voting at Sixteen?

It's an interesting story.  Over across the river, into Maryland, there's this community of Takoma Park.  The folks there have been busy.  They want to make it legal for all residents....down to the age of sixteen....to vote (strictly city elections, not state or federal).

Some folks have come out in public and noted that these young 'punks' just aren't mature enough and they lack real life experience.  So they note that parents would more or less meddle into influencing the kid to vote one way or another.

You can imagine the scene....sixteen year old Wanda has her dad talking to her constantly about voting such-and-such way on a city election....getting the dimwit council Joe re-elected, even though he's up on assault charges or accused of accepting bribes.  Would Wanda be smart enough to vote right?  Don't know.

I sat and pondered over this.  Why even bother setting this at 16?  Why not lower it down to twelve years old?  Local elections might get pretty interesting then, with advertising geared to younger audiences.  Maybe we'd have cartoon characters featured, or offer speeches at Chucky Cheese Pizza establishments.  A new mayor might promise free ponies to kids who vote.  You could really start to turn the whole election business upside down.

The possibility of this happening?  I'd give it better than fifty-percent chance.  The state might step in and say the Constitution of the state prevents stupidity like this.  Or, it might just fail because a bunch of parents realize their lazy son or nitwit daughter would be voting just like the crazy dad or uncle.

The bottom line?  Democracy at work....sadly.

If He Builds It, They will Come

It's a fairly odd story.

Here in Arlington, there's this wooded area down near Arlington Cemetery and the Key Bridge (named after Francis Scott Key).  It's a six-lane bridge which connects Arlington over to the area near the Lincoln Memorial.  The area would be best described as scenic, and very green.

This wooded area is fairly dense, by any standard.

Well....the cops from Virginia came to discover this house built out in the middle of this.  A cottage of sort.  It was built by an immigrant from El Salvador.....over nine years.  Cops say that it was the size of a football field.

The guy had spent lots of man-hours developing and adding onto this.  There was a bedroom, a kitchen, and even a living room.  There were extra rooms for storage apparently.

What the Virginia guys required in the end was a bulldozer, and at least nine dump-trucks to haul away the whole mess.

They've explain to the guy....you just can't build onto public property, and they were trying awful hard to get into a homeless shelter.  His general attitude?  Why the heck would stay in a homeless shelter, when you can build your own house?

I'm kinda of the opinion that this guy is pretty handy with a hammer and nails.....and he might be right about picking where the heck he wants to live.

Here's the thing of a curious note though.....he built this entire house within two miles of the Lincoln Memorial.....on the Virginia side, and for nine years....no one seemed to notice much of anything.  In DC, that says a lot.  It was hidden in the woods, and helicopter tour the area almost hourly....yet no one noticed.  How many more exist like that in the DC region?  A dozen?  A hundred?  You just don't know. My humble bet is that by Saturday....this guy is out and hunting for a spot where it's safe to re-build and start right back on house II.

And I'm guessing that the cops will eventually find that house....maybe five to ten years from now.

The President

Tomorrow ends up being one of the biggest Presidential press conferences of the past twenty years.  I've come to this opinion about President Obama, which might not be that positive to say.  He's more or less....the accidental President.

If you notice....every time that the press asks when he first learned about a situation....eighty percent of the time...the response is...."well, I was watching the news".  I imagine that I've seen this response given at least forty times over the past four years.

Luckily for America....the President watches the news daily.  I'd hate to say how it'd be if he wasn't watching the news.

I also humbly believe that he's still at this point, in a learning phase.  He hasn't crossed that point where he can feel comfortable and be the leader that people believe he ought to be.  I admit, it's an awful tough job, and most of us would never want the job or experience.  In this case....you get the impression that something happens, and he's waiting on someone to write the scripted response.

Great at speeches?  Absolutely.  Great at giving a commanding performance?  Absolutely.  But you go back and look at Presidents like Ike, Reagan, and LBJ....and you start to realize that they had the ability to turn on a dime, and make decisions on the run.  You just don't see that type of style with the President.

A great politician?  Absolutely no doubt.  The President can arrange a theme and speech, captivating the bulk of the audience, promising just about anything or blaming Bush for the 44th time, and delivers a five-star performance.

But after a while, folks start to want meat and potatoes.  They want substance.  They want something beyond the wannabe-style.  It's nice to want to be the President, but at some point, you have to actually lead and be someone with respect.  And this type of leadership just isn't there.

So  tomorrow's press conference is awful important.  If he comes out and says he learned various things watching TV.....you can start laughing.  If he says that some independent committee is to be appointed shortly, and not a special prosecutor.....you can laugh some more.  If he says that there's too much political turmoil in America, due to the Republicans, Karl Rove, or Limbaugh....you can go ahead and turn the conference off.

We probably deserve something better, but you'd have to move to Canada, Italy, or South Korea to find that something more.