Sunday, 22 June 2014

The Pope's Lack of Understanding

This past week, the Pope stood up and made a big speech over ethical judgements, investing, and poor judgement in agricultural commodities.  Basically, food prices have gone up a notch or two over the past six months, and someone finally noted this to the Pope.  He figured that a speech on the topic and Pope-like advice would get to the folks who run the agricultural markets and halt such unethical pricing.

Generally, you go to a priest, bishop or Pope for one general purpose.....a reading on the Bible.  Beyond that, there's not much else in terms of advice that you want from them.

They generally don't tune cars, lay bricks, herd cattle, mix drinks, dig septic tanks, paint barns, split posts, feed the hungry, drive eighteen-wheelers, shovel snow, run a pub, mix concrete, plant tomatoes, operate a Dollar General Store, mow grass, weld metal gates, run a patrol through dangerous neighborhoods, rescue cats out of trees, rescue drunks at wild parties, replace windows, or plan a forty-person family reunion.

When the Pope suggests it's intolerable for folks to flex the market and it's by God's wishes to be ethical in handling agricultural pricing.....he might want to stand back and observe that there are at least forty variations on pricing which real life has to contend with.  He didn't mention various inspectors that are required by law now.  Nor did he mention the effect of weather.  Nor did he mention that drought comes and goes in various regions of the world.  The oil used for gas and diesel to move products?  Well, yeah....that's part of the mess as well.  The fact that folks want year-round products now....mean that we import grapes from India (yeah, shocking, isn't it) tomatoes from Egypt, and apples from New Zealand on occasion.  That didn't happen fifty years ago, but we started to insist that we had to have watermelons all year round, and that meant ships got involved, along with refrigeration.

Speculation?  It's all built into the system because we don't eat local fruits and vegetables anymore.  Nor will we eat local pork, chicken, turkey, fish or beef anymore.

I'm not dumping on the Pope.....but to suggest that God's will fits into agriculture, speculation or the pricing of cucumbers....well....it just ain't so.  Course, if you got a question on Moses, or why some reason why Luke was a better disciple than the rest of the dozen.....well....it might be worth asking about that.

Wi-Fi School Agenda

There's a new agenda item for the FCC, which is a bit odd, and it translates to more tax revenue required to accomplish it.  The deal?  Put Wi-Fi into every school in America.  Yeah, it's a pretty wild idea and it drags along a bunch of questions.  High speed Wi-Fi?  No.....if your school is in Podunk, Bama.....you will get the regular local speed.

The tab for this?  The FCC says they want one billion dollars for this.  But I'm of the mind that they simply mean phrase one, and that it'll come with more cost later.

What's the typical cost per school?  You can figure Barney the Geek will put down a charge of $150 for the installation team and the hour required.  The router? It'll run from $90 to $150, depending on the model and degree of "thrills" you want associated with it.  Administrative time?  Well, yeah, you'd have to find someone to continually monitor and ensure kids and teachers weren't viewing hot lusty video movies while sitting in class.  PCI-adapters for CPUs in the classrooms.....figure around $30 each.  The laptops will all have Wi-Fi ability built into them.  Extending the range from the head office to the farthest point of the school?  You will require a 'bridge'.....figure around $80 for each one.

All of this would probably add up to $2,000 for each single school (minimal PCI-adapter strategy).  Figure 98,817 schools (the government's number, not mine).

A full-time IT guy for each school?  Well....if there's a thousand students there....you'd have to have one full-time guy at that school alone.  A county with eight rural schools?  Maybe one IT for the whole county and he's remoting into each site to control the mess.  I doubt if any county would be willing to pay more than $35,000 a year to such a guy and he'll flip out of the year every year or two, with a new guy and a big mess to clean up.

Is it worth the time and trouble?  I personally get see a single reason to integrate a class or lesson with computers below the seventh grade.  I might offer up typing in the eighth grade, and get into spreadsheet situations and writing code by the ninth grade.  Beyond that.....it's just NOT worth the effort.  Kids end up abusing the hardware and software....posting constantly to Facebook while in class, and getting nuts over using video capture within the classroom.

But all of this leads back to the FCC, and it's dynamic agenda.....a billion dollars.  Putting a school nurse in every school and paying for them via federal money?  It ought to be a higher requirement.  Putting all text books on e-readers.....ought to be on federal money.  Handing out one-hundred great classic of literature via e-readers.....ought to be on federal money.

There's something wrong here, but I doubt if we can stop Congress or the Administration from spending a billion on this stuff.

Six-Californias Effort

This weekend, there's a petition drive in California....to get enough names up.....to make it a ballot-measure for November of breaking up California into six states.

Shocking?  Well....if you know California history....there's been an effort to do this since the mid-1800s.  It's always been a topic of discussion, but when it came down to Republicans and Democrats supporting it....NEITHER ever felt compelled and were always against it.

The measure now?  There's some hostility and frustration by the public over the state budget, and it's continuing battle to approve a budget.  Taxation?  About half the folks in California will list their top three complaints, and local taxes will usually make into the top three issues.

How the states (six) would rank on liberals versus conservatives?  Jefferson (in the far north) would wind up with two major political groups (environmentalists and conservatives).  West California would end up being eighty percent Democrat.  The other four states would be mostly divided, with South California having a heavy Latino turnout and likely to be the more interesting of the states to watch.

The division of the six would challenge one or two of the states with heavy resident-mandated agendas and revenue requirements beyond their abilities.  My humble guess is that at least one of the states would be bankrupt within four years.  The Silicon Valley state would be some dynamic state run by IT professionals and rich billionaires, and might draw a lot of interest from international companies if they ran their own government structure.

The odds of this passing?  I'd give it less than a twenty-five percent chance.  However, if they could find one dynamic person (say a Clint Eastwood)....who could do a sixty-second commercial and ask some in depth questions of how California survives the next fifty years with the current stagnation and lack of cooperation on political agendas....some folks might stand up and fifty-percent of the voters might be possible.

All of this leads me to this thought.....one single state that assesses this and gets it passed....merely opens the door for more states to separate (like Texas, or Florida), and suddenly in ten years we might have seventy-one states.  Well....it's worth dreaming about anyway.

This Little SEC Battle To Go Epic

Once upon a time.....the House sat down and got into the Affordable Healthcare Act.  The House, the Senate, and the White House....all were sitting and discussing the apparatus, and weaving this 2,300-page document into reality.  Somewhere along the way.....some people knew various pieces that would benefit from the law, and pieces that would be hurt by the law.  What that did with this knowledge....is now in a public fight with the Security Exchange Commision (SEC).

Well....the SEC stumbled into apparently....was some individuals working on the Wall Street side of the house....who knew what was going to happen when the act became law.  Someone profited to the extreme.....maybe a bunch of people had a profit.

So, the SEC wants to engage the House and get documents to identify who knew what, and then act on search warrants.  The House?  They have more or less laid down some markers and said that they will not cooperate with the SEC....mostly because what the House does....is their own business.

Yeah, you can smell a bunch of issues here.

The House is correct....no agency under the White House....can dig into the House's business.  If they attempt this....the court system will likely side with the House.

On the other hand.....for decades.....members of the House and Senate have actively used insider information to help their friends, associates, and themselves in the stock market.

Where does this lead onto?  We might find two or three staff members of the Democratically-run House of 2009/2010, who knew lots of stuff about companies that would come out ahead, and they briefed their House and Senate bosses.....who went onto help their special friends.  To be honest, it'd take a special prosecutor and at least two years to gather enough evidence....then another two years of court battles to maybe drag one House member and maybe a couple of staff members off to jail for a year.  The rest would just be slipping through the cracks and avoid jail by cooperating.

Does any of this matter?  It's hard to stop House or Senate insider dealing.  In this case....I'd make a bet that if the leak exists.....it probably was worth $500 million in gains for some folks.  You'd need a full-time staff to continually investigate various members of the House and where exactly would this go onto?  So, it's an epic development and worth watching.....just to see some political players squarm a bit over who knew what and what they did with the money.