Saturday, 31 October 2015

The Flesch-Kincaid CNBC Card

"In debates rife with confrontation and verbal barbs, there was one thing that wasn't a big surprise: Nobody was speaking above a high school level."

- CNBC comment after the Republican Debate.

I sat and read through the CNBC analysis of the debater this morning.  They say that they achieved this high school level analysis by using the Microsoft package.....the Flesch-Kincaid readability test.

It's hard to say if this goes anywhere or gets taken seriously.  Did they apply the same Flesch-Kincaid Readability Test to the Democratic debate from two weeks ago?  No.  Have they applied the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Test to CNBC news readers?  No.  Have they applied the Flesh-Kincaid Readability Test to the Constitution (with the original piece drafted by that weird geeky kid Tommy Jefferson)?  No.

Here's the sad news.  If you sat down and analyzed the heck out of American society....applying the standards of the Flesch-Kincaid Test....my humble guess is that half the nation probably writes at the 5th-grade level, with the rest at varying levels, and probably only three-percent write at college-level or beyond.

I read a piece a few months ago on Flesch-Kincaid being applied to a chapter out of the Old Man and the Sea (one of Hemingway's great books).  The blogger wanted to make a point and thought that the test would show great intellect.  Well, the results were that Hemingway wrote the book between the fourth and fifth-grade level.  I think one of the things that you can appreciate out of the classic is that it's simple and to the point.

Should we worry about some Republican guys speaking at high school level?  Somewhere in this suggestive comment is this random thought that Democrats are thinking and speaking at university level, and that makes them better leaders.  Course, without testing Hillary, Bernie, or for that matter....Senator Reid....you can't really say much.  The CNBC crowd simply suggest that you'd want smarter leaders.

Applying the test to CNBC analysts?  I'm guessing they really don't want that to happen.  But the problem is.....you opened up the barn door, and people might get stupid enough to ask what level they function at.

So, when you hear or see this comment....you might want to sit there for a while and ponder upon the objective.  Maybe we have dumbed down the whole political process and CNBC has a point.  The problem is that we've kinda lost some respect of the CNBC folks and doubt their objective nature exists anymore.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Republicans and Their Debate

Five simple observations over this Wednesday night debate.

1.  Whoever came up with the wise idea of letting CNBC do the debate for the Republican Party....needs to be fired.  They (the party management) didn't know what the heck they were doing, or they were trying to stack the deck for some guy to emerge out of the debate with extra points.  The party failed.

2.  The moderators were fifth-grade wannabe journalists....who likely didn't write a single question themselves.  Whoever filled in the blanks and provided the questions for the three marginal journalists were laughing up to a certain point, and from that point on....the joke was on them. CNBC probably lost a significant amount of reputation off this one single event.

3.  Cruz literally destroyed the moderators.  It took him 120 seconds and he crushed them.  They never recovered from that point on.  I can 't think of any episode in forty years like this.

4.  Jeb Bush was a lost child in a grocery store.  He just never delivered and he can just forget about any comeback.

5.  If we get to October of 2016, and it's Hillary versus Cruz....I'll go ahead and predict the outcome.  Cruz will allow her to pick any moderator she wants, and Cruz will aim to destroy the moderator. Even if there are three of them....he'll just make them look like school-kids trying to protect poor Ms.Clinton (their fifth-grade teacher), who is a bit overwhelmed and unable to comprehend the situation.

In essence, Cruz is this guy who can stand alone and debate anybody....literally anyone....from across the media empire or political stage, and take them apart.  It would be very naive for any journalist to think they can tinker with Cruz and screw him up.  The question is....can Trump win the primary and convention....leaving Cruz out of this equation?

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Stupid Is, Stupid As

To be honest....I kinda expected this.

A new study got completed....by the Harvard School of Public Health.  What they said was.....the current trend of carbon dioxide (CO2) is such....that it will have a direct and negative impact on human cognition and decision-making.

In simple language?  Global warming will make you stupid.

Now, most folks will sit there and got disturbed by this suggestion.  Obviously, the Harvard folks did some testing in a lab and got some mice to react to increased CO2, and came to some rational or irrational decision that more CO2 equals stupidity.

The problem about this study and how it got into the news media?  Well....Al Gore and his ThinkProgress folks are the ones who picked this up and wanted to talk about it.  So naturally, a bunch of folks won't take this serious.

What bothers me mostly about this is that lots of things in today's world make folks stupid.  Lead in Paint.  Excessive use of marijuana.  Getting hit in high school or college football in the head.  Excessive use of alcohol.  Watching Sponge Bob excessively.  Sitting in afternoon meetings at the office with moronic supervisors.  Excessive consumption of greasy junkfood.  Heroin or LSD usage.  Eating unhealthy amounts of sugar in your diet.  Slutty trailer women in your life.

So, worrying about CO2?  It's just one out of fifty different things that I might encounter....which might make me stupid.

But here's the other side of this issue.  As CO2 does some spiral (or just imagining it would)....you have to vote for Presidential candidates....who might be permanently hampered by their loss of human cognition or decision-making.  So, we might need a test to see just how CO2-stupid you might be.

Imagine an HR office talking about hiring you as an engineer, and the guy says they have a physical they want you to attend, and there's some CO2 number that you need to score.  You start to freak out, and then your cousin Marvin says he's got some hospital oxygen tanks that he can loan you and you just breathe for six days straight in some dark basement.....this fancy clear air.....to reach the magic CO2 number.

You do this and pass.  Course, Marvin wants some money for his oxygen deal....so you pay him off.  Then you start to notice after weeks and months....that a bunch of folks are being tested for CO2-stupidity.  And Marvin, with a bunch of other folks, are all using these special oxygen tanks that come out of central Tennessee.  Then you kinda discover that Al Gore owns the oxygen tank company, and is making billions off this trendy deal of CO2-stupidity testing.

Not that Al or the global warming guys would do something this stupid....but you just have to wonder.....how big of a difference is it to be just plain stupid or CO2-stupid?  Maybe it's all the same kind of stupid.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

The Columbia School Punk

Yesterday, I spent around thirty minutes watching and re-watching this classroom episode unfold in Columbia, South Carolina.  There's this kid....female....I would assume around fifteen or sixteen years old, who has been yacking on a cellphone and been told by the teacher/instructor to put away the phone and she refuses.  I get the impression that she's been told more than once or twice.  At some point, a school official directs her and she refuses....so the school cop is called.

The video shows the confrontation....the cop instructs her to leave the room....she refuses.  It's hard to define her rational thinking at this point.  I am assuming that she's just not there mentally.  She's acting like it's just a game and nothing much can possibly happen to her.

So the cop's effort fails, and he resorts to physically appending her....which fails miserably as her chair/desk falls backward and you'd almost think that she's going to end up with a concussion.  All of this.....caught on video.  Sadly for the cop.....if it hadn't been on video....nothing much would have occurred except stories around the school.  Today, it's been shown throughout the world, and the general opinion is cop abuse on the teen.

So, my view?  I'd terminate the cop program at the school entirely.  I'd let parents know that it failed and there just won't be cops at the school anymore.  Then I'd let them know the new rule.  Your kid gets stupid or shows disrespect....three days of suspension as long as you arrive within an hour after we call you.  I'll up it to four days if you arrive after an hour of notification.

The second time in the school year that your kid gets stupid or shows disrespect?  I double the days of suspension.  Once you go past twelve days of suspension in one year?  You can't graduate that year, and have to repeat the entire year again.  You only get one year of repeat for your school career....after that, you can look for another school district.

It's not really up to the school to make your kid honest and respectful of the situation....it's the parents.  If they screw up and can't handle a fifteen-year-old kid....it's best to dump them off at some county social office and just let the kid go.

There was a time when schools just existed to teach kids.  Today?  They end up as some baby-sitting service for juvenile-punks.  Why bother hiring some cop and wasting funds on this odd feature?  If that kid wants to be that much of a failure in life.....either help them recover or help them achieve their ambitions.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Why Is There No Socialism in America?

For a number of months, I've seen this commentary and question posed with various journalists (MSNBC, Fox News, NPR, etc).

They are all puzzled and talk like drunks in some French bar about the lack of socialism and what prevented socialism from entering into American society and culture.  I noticed some interview where they tried to ask the Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz (she chairs the party headquarters) what the difference was between socialists and democrats.....and it was one of those scary moments when you could tell.....she really didn't have an idea on the answer.

So, I'll take on the question of.....why is there no socialism in America?

Basically, as confusing as it might sound.....we are a socialist country already....loaded with tons of socialism.  Shocking?

Social Security....is pure socialism.  All these gifts from the government?  Elements of socialism.  Free cheese or butter for poor folks?  They came from socialism.  Saving the banks during last economic crisis?  Socialism at work.  All these rules to help get minority kids into college?  They are socialistic in nature.

Once we got around to 1913 and the sixteenth amendment to the Constitution.....allowing the income tax deal to occur.....we were entering the socialist era.  You then had a pot of money to gift people and make them feel happy over your political achievements (or lack of achievements).  The money made up for reality or the misshaped world that we live in.....where fairness met unfairness on a frequent basis.

Everywhere you look.....socialism is busting away at society and quietly part of American culture now.

Food inspection, road construction, medical programs, fire departments, and even the US postal system.....all are examples of socialism in some way.  Farm subsidies, the use of the FBI, the prison system, the VA, national parks, national forests, the Hoover Dam, TVA, the free lunch program at schools......all are examples of socialism.

Having a national income tax in 1913....gave Congress tons of money to bring in this new era.  Up until that point....it was sales taxes that worked, and it just didn't create the type of taxation environment that socialism demanded.

I know....there are dozens of Fox News folks who get all weepy and tell you that America just isn't socialist in nature.  Well....we've been socialist for 102 years and no one is really bothered by our brand of socialism.

Oh, I agree.....we could be French-socialists, or Swedish-socialists.....sitting in dark cafes....smoking a pipe and listening to hot lusty women sing socialist songs.  We could sip expensive cognac (heavily taxed) while talking about such-and-such new socialist comedy from our national TV network, and later eat a piece of $10 cheese imported from our friendly neighbor of Switzerland....who is also very socialistic in nature.

But we are mostly American-socialists.....who try hard to pretend we are pure capitalist at heart....drinking cheap PBR beer (still taxed).....eating some cheap burger from the bar (taxed), and talking about some new such-and-such capitalist comedy from our national independent TV network who shows us commercials (taxed).  It may be a different way of handling money or perceiving socialism....but the American-socialist guy and the French-socialistic guy really aren't that different.

I'm sorry I burst your bubble.  If this really bothers you an awful lot.....well....go over to the liquor store and buy some French-made cognac....which was taxed when made in French, and taxed when imported into the US, and taxed again when brought into your state-run liquor shop.  It'll make you feel better.  Some advice....savor every drop and share it with a friend (another socialist).

Saturday, 24 October 2015

The Anti-Depressive Story

It's an interesting item that got into the news this week via the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.  I admit....it's not a publication that I'd read much, but someone talked about the item and referred the article.....so I read it.

Some smart guys have sat down and analyzed the heck out of patients and the diagnosis of depression.  They've come to this surprising number.....roughly seventy-percent of all patients using anti-depressants.....aren't really clinically depressed.

There are set standards about being noted as depressed, or having depressive disorders.  In fact, there's a set standard for obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic attacks, phobias, and anxiety....of which roughly forty percent of people taking some good drugs.....just aren't that ill to require such drugs.

Naturally, it'd make you sit there and ponder this.

What the numbers people say is that roughly one out of every four adult women now in the nation.....are on some type of anti-depressant.  Guys?  One out of every seven.

What happens if you overuse some anti-depressant?  You end up with a second condition: sexual dysfunction, dizziness, dry mouth, sweating profusely, feeling nausea around the clock, headaches, diarrhea, nervousness, restlessness, agitation with people, insomnia and drowsiness.  Naturally, with this new problem.....you seek another drug to fix this problem.  You can imagine sitting there with Doctor Bill and he gives you some great blue pills for sex, some pill for dizziness which he thinks is related to blood-pressure issues, some sleeping pill for the insomnia, and recommends a diet change to counter the diarrhea which seems to occur daily now.

For an older guy who might be single....this odd report likely makes him start to question any single gal in the neighborhood who seems to be open for a date, doesn't seem to be crazy, and bakes decent cookies.  He'll eventually ask this potential older gal (in her forties).....if she's on 'meds'.  She'll be puzzled by this and think it's a problem.....so she won't admit she's on anti-depressive drugs.  

We are a crazy society of sorts.  Sometimes.....we think we have a problem and seek to fix it.  Only to learn later that we didn't have a problem, but by taking the "fix".....we helped to create a second, third and fourth problem, which add layers of issues onto our lives that didn't exist before.

The good news?  Maybe you aren't depressed, or maybe you just are plain average when we talk about obsessive-compulsive.

That Lincoln Guy

This week, Democrat Lincoln Chafee said adios to the idea of running for President.  In the background, I think he ran out of funds and just made a wise decision to avoid debt.

The curious thing about Chafee's history.....is that he was actually was a Republican from 1985 to 2006.  He did one term as the Senator from Rhode Island.....before some Republicans asked if he really was a Republican.  The Democrat running for the Senate position 2006 found enough frustrated Republicans and happy Democrats and beat Chafee.  After that....he got hyped up on the Senator Obama campaign, and became a Democrat.

Yeah, it's one of those soap opera-like stories that you'd just shake your head over.

Generally, when the guy stands up and gives some hyped up speech.....you tend to think of some guy having smoked some extra strong herbal stuff, and isn't all there.  He's the guy who came up with the idea of a 'holiday tree' instead of a Christmas Tree.....so non-Christians wouldn't feel left out.   Naturally, that disturbed about ninety-percent of society.

Oddly, I did come to view Chafee with some interest.....but mostly because he's all pumped up and thrilled about the metric system.  He'd really like to get into the President's office and just do an executive order.....putting it into reality.  I think that's the only way that metric will ever come to America.....because there's too many English-lobbyists standing there to ensure feet and pounds survive.

He's sixty-two years old and I suspect he's going to run one more time for Senator before he hangs it up or hopes that Donald Trump might hire him for a US ambassador job for some Pacific island.  At least he proves the point that just about anyone can run for President, and it helps to have the name Lincoln in your name.....but it'd be better if it were the second name instead of the first.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Dear Abby Response of Mine

As a young junior airman, I read Stars and Stripes a great deal and eventually got addicted to reading Dear Abby.....mostly because I felt sorry for people in some bad personal relationships or dire situations.  Somewhere around age forty.....I kinda transitioned over to feeling less sorry for people, and thinking mostly that they needed to get some 'guts' and just fix their problem.

Today, I sat there and read the latest Dear Abby:  "My daughter has been in a lesbian relationship for 14 years. They recently took me to lunch and informed me that her partner, "Nicole," is in the process of transitioning to a male. Nicole has now legally changed her name to "Nick" and has begun hormone treatments. They have been going to counseling for the past six months. Since Nick began the transition, I have seen him three times. Last week when I was visiting, I accidentally called Nick by the wrong pronoun, "she" instead of "he" a couple of times. I was either immediately corrected or ignored until I realized I had used the wrong word. It hurt my feelings. After I got home I sent Nick a text to apologize and explain that it would take time for me to get used to saying "Nick" and referring to him as a he. I told them their correcting me bothered me. All weekend I could tell they were irritated with me, and I felt it was uncalled for. What do you say? Am I wrong to feel hurt that they haven't given me a chance to get used to the new name? -- MARGARET IN MISSISSIPPI"

At age thirty, I would have felt sorry for Margaret and offered up some kind words....maybe patted her on the back and said she had a fine problem.....and told her that some folks were worse off than her.

Well, my patience level just isn't there anymore.  So my humble advice to Margaret goes along these lines.  Nicole (pretending to be Nick) has got some problems and it's best to look long-term at just giving up on the daughter and her relationships. If they do come over....show your new dog off to them and let them know right away that the dog is really a cat, and it's not a male but a female.  Then let them know that you've been awaiting kittens to come from this new pet.  While discussing the new dog-turned-cat.....talk up these strange noises you've been hearing in the house and you think it's demons.  Offer up some cheese and cracker snacks and Jim Beam shots to your daughter and her friend.  Basically behave as odd as possible, and just hope that they reach a point where they'd like to visit less and less often.

Maybe down the road....things change with your daughter and you can get rid of this stupid dog-turned-into-cat or crazy-lady routine.  Don't worry much.....bad usage of pronouns really ought not be one of your top 1,000 problems in life.  Trust me.....it ought to be somewhere near number 86,486 on your problem list.

Demon TV

After watching various fake reality TV shows (Cake Boss, Amish Mafia, Jersey Shore, the Kardashians, etc)......I'm more or less prepared for about any fake reality series that you could dream up.  Well....up until today.

I noticed in the entertainment news that a new reality TV series will start up.....mostly on exorcism.  Yeah, that demon stuff out of the Catholic Church.  What they are hinting at is that they will have someone on the team who has some background in exercising demons and will have holy water on themselves in case of serious trouble.

Down in the south, particularly Alabama....you really can't discuss this in any setting without getting Baptists all stirred up and hostile.  Catholic stuff usually freaks out Baptist ministers and they have some 1-800 number to call and get quick advice on how to chastise or slam Catholics.  They really don't want this demon stuff to come up and get into people's heads....because the Baptists don't have any hocus-pocus enchantment or abracadabra spell to conjure up real quick to chase off demons.  The Catholics maintain all of that with their Latin allurement tools of the trade.

Based on the description of this show.....there will be this house with dark sinister feelings all around it.  No, we aren't talking about a 1966 Jim Walter-house built on the edge of Decatur that has a fire-ant problem and the previous owner shot her boyfriend in the foot for calling her a bi*ch.  Nor are we talking a trailer park setting where meth gets used daily and some fifty-year-old gal flashes herself off daily at guys who drives by.  In this case.....we are talking about a demon house.

Americans typically like entertainment like this.....mostly because we live pretty boring lives and the worst thing that can happen is septic tank failure, a tornado alert for our area of the county, or Jehovah's Witness gal comes to the door in a tubetop and you just can't say "no" to her staying four hours and talking JW stuff.

All of this will be talked about in future weeks as ministers have to answer these stupid questions in church, and if demons regularly attach themselves to homes, barns, garages, or houseboats.  Some guys will have some fun and note that they dated a possessed gal back in the 1980s and they tried hard to exercise that demon gal but just never got anywhere much.  Some folks will worry about this casual dealing business with demons, and that you just can't be too careful....demons might be lurking at the Piggy Wiggly and grab onto you.....bringing themselves into your house.  Then you'd have to call up some Catholic priest to get rid of this problem.....mostly because the Baptist guys ain't got no magic stuff and never learned any Latin while at the big school.

It is odd....the Catholic talk and all.....the special magic.....can only be used with Latin phrases.  I guess the Demons only speak Latin, and it just all makes sense.  Looking around the state of Alabama today.....with the exception of Catholic Priests....I don't think there's more than sixty people in the state who can utter Latin.  It might be worth asking how they ever got into a dead language, but they'd probably just tell you it was to impress some gal who was a five-star temptation-laced gal who knew French and looked like Marilyn Monroe.  

Maybe we need a TV show like this, but it just makes me wonder....where exactly is the end point of reality TV?  Will we eventually get to the point of putting a camera in a Jiffy Lube show and just show mechanics talking about lawnmowers, chunky women, and septic tanks?

My Theory on Hillary Clinton

I have this humble opinion on Hillary Clinton, which generally explains things.  I think.....every single one of the scandals were developed and planned ahead of time.....and regarded as a way for Democrats to feel honored with someone so sneaky.  It's the only way to explain the hundred-odd scandals and how nothing hinders the progress of Hillary, the Clinton Foundation, or the agenda (whatever it is).

The various scandals?  Well over a hundred but my favorites are:

- Bill and his Army of women (probably over a hundred women at this point)
- Clinton's use of IRS and FBI as sort of a Gestapo-info gathering organization
- Whitewater (real estate game)
- Cattle futures
- Some weird connection to the Muslim Brotherhood which is crazy but just makes you grin as it often comes up
- Mysterious death of Vince Foster
- Email server for Secretary of State....sitting in a bathroom closet?
- Travel office firings
- Chinagate episode
- Sniper fire upon arrival at Balkins airport
- Missing billing records from that Little Rock law firm during her tenure
- Fair number of dead people from Hillary or Bill's background
- Lesbian suggestions about every six months for Hillary

Somewhere in the background, I think there is this three-member team who simply dreams up another scandal (probably fake in some way) and dump it onto some news group or the National Enquirer.  People get all excited.....her name appears five hundred times in one single day over a stupid potential scandal and life moves up a notch.

At some point, I expect an affair between Hillary and Matt Lauer of the Today Show to be announced....perhaps an accidental pistol shooting of Hillary cleaning a gun and hitting Bill in the leg while he was bathing in some hotel bathtub.....or maybe Hillary announcing that she's now best friends with this Odem guy in Vegas who doped out on herbal Viagra and providing hour-by-hour care for the guy while he refreshens himself.

Yeah, we need someone like this....where scandal keeps us hyped up.  Face it.....boring people....are boring.  Behind all of this....we are quietly pulling for Hillary to push the envelop and shock us one more time.

An Unshockable Nation

If you've ever been to a real urban atmosphere....like New York City or Washington....you end up on the subway.  It's a curious place where you tend to notice the weird characters, unusual operating procedures, and the inspiring or freaky advertisements.

This week, the New York subway folks were asked to evaluate and hopefully accept some women's underwear advertisements from Thinx.

Well, the evaluation team looked over the poster and the words....then came back to the company to say that it was 'inappropriate' and 'suggestive'.  In other words.....maybe if you tone it down a notch....we might accept it for putting on the interior of subway cars as hundreds of thousands of New York City gals travel each day.

I looked at the ad myself, and maybe ten years ago.....I would have agreed on the 'inappropriate' nature.  Today, I don't see a big deal.  Some gal in some some cotton underwear leaning back on a handmade Mennonite-made chair?  Nothing much to get sweaty about....if you ask me.

Now, I agree....if this were being displayed in Red Bay, Alabama or Monck's Corner, SC....in some local catfish restaurant or in some local newspaper.....well, it might disturb some folks.  But we are talking about New York City where you just can't shock folks anymore.

It's a curious trend about society today.....we are becoming unshockable.  This Jenner guy flipping over to a lady-status?  After about a week, it wasn't much of a shock anymore.  This basketball player in Nevada who flipped out and almost died on herbal Viagra while paying $75,000 for a three-day hooker episode and asking for lady-guy hooker?  It didn't take more than forty-eight hours for us all to accept the story and say it doesn't freak us out (well, unless you were a die-hard Baptist).  Joe Biden saying he won't run for President?  That took eight minutes for us to accept.

Some people will say that it's a recent trend.  I would disagree.  You can go back to the 1920s and look at what happened to society after WW I and find literally hundreds of revolutions going on within the American society and our shock levels were being tested on a weekly basis.

These underwear guys?  I'm guessing they will go back and use the same picture but some different wording and get some acceptance to run the ad on the subway.  After a week......no one much will say anything because it's just not that much of a shock anymore.  Frankly, if you were paying more attention to the attire or lack of attire of the New York passengers....you'd be entertained to a higher level (my humble opinion).

Every American ought to pack up a bag and go to New York City once in their life.  I'm not talking about a long trip....just five days.  After that, your unshockable values will double and nothing will really bother you much.

End of Mythbusters

I came to have this curious interest in 2010....upon arriving in DC and having cable TV.....of the TV show "Mythbusters".  It appeared on the Discovery Channel and I came to appreciate the way that the two 'mad-scientists' would take some conceived notion of the public or science, and then explain it in garage-like lab.

Today, it's been announced that after being on the air for fourteen years.....Mythbusters is coming to an end.  It'll end in 2016.

The two guys....Savage and Hyneman....impressed me with the way that you could convey a massive amount of science into bit-sized pieces....for a mortal with no real understanding of science....helping us get into the topic and actually enjoy the rich nature of science.

Presently, there are roughly 240-odd episodes and if I were a high-school science teacher....I'd put one of the episodes up each week for entertaining the students.

Around the end of 2011....they did an episode where they discussed the idea of a motorcycle being more environmentally friendly than a car.  It's the kind of topic that four guys at a water cooler would chat about for hours and hours....debating the finer science principals of motors.  The final conclusion of the team?  Car evolution on emissions has progressed faster than motorcycle evolution, and you can't make the motorcycle cleaner, with the present set of mechanical standards.  A shocker to most guys, but it ends the water cooler debate....at least until a new round of motorcycle developments occur.

My humble guess is that we will go through a five-year period without Mythbusters, and then be thrilled to discover that a new show will be fielded and we get more science in a nice tidy package for public consumption.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Jeb and Crony Capitalism

"As president of the United States, I will use all the powers of my office to disrupt the political culture of a dysfunctional Washington, D.C. We need to clean house and it must start by eliminating the crony capitalism that is pervasive throughout the federal government. There are tens of billions of dollars of corporate welfare subsidies tucked into the federal budget."

-- Former Governor of Florida Jeb Bush who is currently running for President

I sat and read the piece five or six times.  Jeb Bush promising to eliminate crony capitalism.....crony capitalism....crony capitalism.

I was probably in my late 20's when I first heard the phrase and read up on the topic.  Generally, the best definition of crony capitalism is where business people sleep with government people...in the sense of one having money to spend and the other begging for 'it'.  So, you buy five-hundred $700-hammers.  Or you buy a bunch of electrical cars which no one really wants to drive and dump them on some poor agency who simply lets them sit in a garage.  Or you buy some fantastic missile which works 78-percent of time as advertised......while you don't whine when it fails the other 22-percent of the time.

Here in 2015, there are a lot of things that you can promise, and people might believe in some of those things.  Sadly, if you are a Republican over the past decade.....you've been promised a lot and they've mostly failed at delivering anything....so your belief level is about seven-percent of what it was back in 2005.

Maybe if Jeb had promised to build some fence down along the Texas-Mexico border, or promised to fire half of the EPA folks, or promised to defund NPR.....well, people might believe him more.  But crony capitalism?  No.

Sadly, this soundbite will be kept around and played over and over, with various people having a laugh because they just don't believe these guys anymore.  That's how bad things have become.

Maybe at the next Republican debate.....some dimwit reporter will ask each guy.....if he too would like to eliminate crony capitalism, and they could each make the Jeb-vow.

Crazy Talk: North Korea

Over the weekend, North Korea hinted that it's ready to work on a peace treaty to end the Korean War (25 June 1950 - present).  Well, to be honest, there is a cease-fire in effect since 27 July 1953, which means the war lasted either 3 years-1 month-2 days or it's lasted 60-odd years.....depending on your view of things.

Beyond the words of simply working on a permanent peace treaty.....nothing much else was said.  The US and South Korea have to be sitting there and wondering....boy, where the heck did this suggestion come from?

Naturally, the Obama Administration is probably thrilled and got a dozen guys talking and working up some basic words for a peace treaty.  South Korea?  I'm guessing they are simply sitting there and wondering how screwed up this might become.

Here's the thing.  There are roughly five consequences to this talk and where it might go.

One.  The Obama Administration would really get enthusiastic and want this to occur before he leaves office, so they might be willing to sign 'anything' (I really do mean 'anything').  This might might be US troops immediately leaving South Korea, no US forces in the region, etc. South Korea might not be that enthusiastic about this happening so quickly.

Two.  The generals in North Korea have one single job and one way of enjoying their lifestyle. If there is no war or threat of war....then their empire collapses.  It's hard for me to see how they'd like this peace treaty idea or endorse it.

Three. Thirty-seven-thousand US troops are part of the defense structure in South Korea.  If they are directed to remove themselves.....they will do so.  What happens to the thirty-seven-thousand?  The Pentagon might be directed to call it cost-savings.....hand those guys a discharge and downsize the US Army and Air Force by the significant numbers.

Four.  If I were Japan.....I might be asking questions because if this results in a consolidated Korea....they'd be a massive economic threat within five years and justify Japan's military in building up.

Five. What happens to Kim, the North Korean 'king'?  It's hard to imagine the world existing without some thug set up as the 'king' of North Korea.  Could Kim end up with a Korea passport and come and go as he pleases?  Could Kim end up in L.A. and be part of some Kadashian-host on a reality show?  We laugh at such a suggestion, but to have some offer of a peace treaty on the table.....well, that's crazy talk.

So, my belief is that the US, South Korea and North Korea will meet.  North Korea will lay out forty-odd demands.  Oddly, the US and South Korea circle thirty of them while sitting at the table and saying "fine"....shocking the North Korean guys greatly.  From the final ten, the US wants to modify some of the talk and this stalls things for a couple of months.  By October of 2016....some idiots in DC work out the final agreement, and there's some fantastic meeting arranged in North Korea for President Obama to fly in and sign the last treaty paperwork.

I know.....it sounds crazy.....but we have new relations in Cuba and it simply makes sense that it'll happen.


Sunday, 18 October 2015

More Hillary Reading

In 2003, Secretary of State Powell sent the President and staff an email that basically said that Prime Minister Blair of the UK was onboard for the possible invasion of Iraq....one year before the invasion.
How do we know about this email?

Well....it was on Hillary's server.  It was reported by the British newspaper....The Mail....today.

Course, their big agenda is to blast away on Blair because of this commitment way ahead of what everyone knew about.

But there is this odd thing about this email from 2003 in Hillary's server.  For her to have it on her personal and private server.....meant that someone in the office went back and researched through the State Department's archives (privately held and requiring a clearance).  They spent a fair amount of time looking for the document, and then routed it onto Hillary.

The purpose?  It's hard to imagine why Hillary would want a copy of this 2003 email from Powell.  Seven years have passed and it's basically worthless unless you had some agenda item to use.

What happened to the document once it came onto Hillary's server?  Well.....no one is sure.  There are various non-State Department people who worked for the Clinton Foundation and they had 'rights' to the server or email folders there.  So, they came to read the document and share it among themselves (without the clearance naturally).

There could be a dozen Foundation people who read it.....there could be a hundred Foundation people who read it.

There could be a hundred VIPs who paid for sensitive information like this and got the privilege to read it via the Clinton Foundation.

In a way, Hillary's participation in the State Department was more of commercialized version of NSA's Snowden.  Her people on the inside collected various documents and arranged for viewing within the 'club' (the Foundation).  This is why the private server mattered so much and was absolutely necessary.

More material to be found?  I think the news media folks will wake up and start to dig through the story now.  There are probably hundreds of such documents and each will tell some small story of the 9-11 era and the decade after that.  Sadly, no one will ask.....who else at the Foundation read the material?

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

The VW Thirty

There are dozens of things I learned from my twenty-two years in the Air Force.  One of those things was.....when something really bad or crappy occurs.....the fewer that know about it....means the lesser chance that some punishment or disciplinary action will come out of the event.

If it's just an event with three people who know what happened, then it's almost a zero-percent chance that trouble will come out of the mess.

Once you get to a dozen people who know what happened, it's almost a fifty-fifty shot that trouble will come out of the screw-up or event.

Once you get past twenty people....well, you might as well prepare yourself for some long campaign where some investigation episode will occur.....statements will be taken.....some base legal guy will be in the mix.....and some idiot will lose a stripe or owe the government for setting some bunk mattress on fire, or getting stupid drunk at the NCO club, or expanding a fire extinguisher in the barracks hallway.

Today, here in Germany, via the news folks.....we kinda learned that thirty-odd managers at Volkswagen were inside of the diesel engine 'fix'.

Thirty guys knew and helped in some fashion to make the software 'fix' work as it did.

No one sat there and asked stupid questions about how this would relate to destroying the company if ever found out.  No one suggested ethical boundaries.  No one could find any way to do the right thing.

Jail-time for the thirty?  No, I have my doubts that they can find any law that works for this case.

If I were a stock-holder.....I'd be demanding all thirty be fired immediately.  If they aren't fired within seven days.....I'd go ahead and suggest the CEO himself needs to be let go.

No one says the age mix, or educational background of the thirty.  It might be interesting to know if they are all engineers, or a mix of computer geeks and management guys.  Women in the group?  Unknown.

Under the Air Force umbrella....the sad thing is that as some event was unfolded.....other people usually got dragged in who had almost no knowledge of the event and given twenty-odd questions over their participation or lack of participation.  All of this leads to people being frustrated with the guilty parties and makes a four-star event into a five-star event.  It's probably the same that will occur with the VW people.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Playboy Change

It was rather shocking news to come out yesterday.....Playboy will end the centerfold and 'natural' displays in the near future.

It's hard to say who still reads Playboy.  The last time I looked.....you could get a year's subscription for roughly twenty bucks.

Throughout my Air Force barracks period (78-84), probably five-percent of the guys bought monthly copies of it.  What most would say is that they had interesting articles and gave a fair amount of advice on men's fashion and stereo equipment.  It was a different crowd of readers when compared to the Hustler folks.

My humble guess is that they finally interviewed some guys and discovered that almost no one said anything much about the centerfold ladies or the pictures in the magazine.  These are the guys who wanted to just resemble a playboy himself and dress or act that way.

Oddly, by taking this route.....they might actually attract more attention and become some type of magazine that teenage guys would pick up and read.

Did the centerfold attraction ever attract anyone?  I have my doubts.  All of the gals who appeared in Playboy were the type that were beyond ninety-percent of the guys out there.  They'd always list their hobbies as swimming, walks on the beach, star-gazing, and resort travel.  You never had realistic women who noted their hobbies of building fishing lures, mowing lawns, demolition derby, flea market sales, or making homemade jam.  If you asked most guys, they always thought the wordy talk in Playboy by each model was all fraudulent in nature.

What does this change really say?  Maybe Playboy never needed the models or the centerfolds to sell their magazine.  And that would be a real shocker.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

The House Speaker Game

What some historians generally say....at some point in the mid-1960s...a trend started up in Congress.  It likely started after the 1964 House election where the Democrats came to control almost two-thirds of the seats and were able to establish a clear path to any change desired.

At the time....John McCormick of Massachusetts was the Speaker and would serve in the position from 1962 to 1971.  What can generally be said.....at least from one Democratic Congressman...was that the view of working with the House during this period....is that the leadership of the House was the "worst of the past forty years" (a direct quote from Representative Cannon, Dem from Missouri).

In the view of most historians....the Democratic Party was in some type of historic change with more liberal new members showing up and wanting "status".  The belief at the time was that the House itself, and even the Democratic leadership in the House....all centered on a couple of characters and they didn't hand out committee memberships or authority unless they felt you earned your post.

All of this started a trend where the Speaker of the House was a power-broker and "CEO" of the House itself.  Prior to that....the Speaker....at least through the 1950s....was mostly there to enforce the rules and ensure that schedules were known by the membership. The steering committees would ensure who got what committee and who got the leadership role of each group.

As each generation came after the mid-1960s.....more rules were modified and the Speaker of the House came to have more authority.

By 1994, it went to a new threshold....Newt Gringrich arrived and centralized power strictly within the Speaker's duties, and decreased authority of the committee chairmen.  To get anywhere, you had to have party status and the blessing of the Speaker.  If you irked the party leadership or speaker.....you got screwed.  You might as well give up and go back to your state because they weren't going to let you be on the inside.

After the Gringrich era, we eventually came to the Pelosi era who repeated the same formula and added more features.  The PAC's actually had the ability to influence elections by this point and ensure that everyone played by the Speaker's rules and the PAC's rules.....on top of the Party itself.

After Pelosi came John Boehner, who simply continued the same trend.

What has occurred since 2010 is this odd feature of the Republican Party which can't win or survive now without Tea Party status.

The Republicans now have a fairly significant number (maybe half of the House Republicans) who want the rules changed.  This came out late in the week that a questionnaire is now being sent around to various people who say they want to run for the Speaker's job (Paul Ryan got the questionnaire and has not said much about it or how he'd answer the questions).

What the Tea Party crowd is suggesting....is going back to the rules prior to 1964.  They want to downsize the power and authority of the Speaker's job.  This would relate directly to the Republican steering committee, which in turn....would affect how people get appointed to chairman or committee membership status.  There's another odd feature to the whole change as well....they want the Chairman to be barely involved in any decision over what bill or amendments come to the House floor.  They aren't saying clearly how it'd occur, but you get the opinion that if either Party wants to introduce a bill....they'd have the right to do so, and face a vote (up or down), and either pass or fail a bill.
 
The problem?

Well....if you wrote a listing of the top five House members that Boehner would favor....none of them would agree to such a change.  Some people suggest that Paul Ryan, who might be a popular guy and generally supported.....won't agree to the changes.

Newt?  If the Republicans were crazy enough to bring up his name and suggest he be in the mix.....even he won't agree to the changes.

Some people generally think that Paul Ryan will decide to take a run at the speaker job, and probably avoid answering this questionnaire....thus intimidating the Tea Party crowd.  While there's likely to be no scandals in Ryan's closet....the question is....can he get enough votes to take the Speaker job.  You can't be that sure.

The Tea Party folks probably have one thing correct....the Speaker's job has become something that bothers the vast number of members.....Republican or Democrat.  It might be wiser to hire some guy to just run the office like it was run in the 1950s.....but neither Party headquarters or the PAC-support landscape....will allow such to happen.

My bet?  Boehner is still sitting there in January, and probably still sitting there by the end of 2016....until we can have another election and bring in more Tea Party players who will sooner or later consume what exists today.

Why US Businesses Can't Deal With Iran

Back around 2012....while the President still had some leverage with Congress (a Democratic Senate)....they pursued the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act.

It's not something that people generally remember or read....but the significance of the congressionally passed act is that Iran can only removed from the State Department’s list of terror sponsors, if the President certifies they've permanently ceased the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.

Oddly, in public....Iran has said that it just won't stop supporting terror operations and they won't really stop their effort to build nuclear weapons.  You can't certify much without looking awful stupid.

Naturally, you'd stand there and ask.....how exactly does this President's recent treaty with Iran now work?  The answer?  It won't work.

If the President had done what was a true-treaty and the Senate voted upon it the normal way to approve it.....then no one would say much.  But it was not developed as a treaty, and since they didn't approve it.....it's not a treaty.

How things move ahead?

Unless the House and Senate go and undo this law passed in 2012....it stands.  No American business can do business with Iran because of the 2012 law.  Now that the President has done everything to take down the US and EU-supported episode.....businesses could start up trade and make money off Iran.  Well....all businesses other than US businesses.

I'm guessing that the French, the Germans, and the British all knew about the 2012 law and were grinning as the President hyped up his great treaty.  They can walk in and sign business agreements and make billions.  The US?  If a single company signs a contract....any idiot could drag them into court....even a state court, and sue them for violation of the 2012 law.

Fixing this?  Well....you could executive-action this by Presidential authority but Congress made the law and typically a President can't toss such a law out.  He might pretend the law doesn't exist and order the Attorney General not to prosecute anyone, but that won't work in a civil court if someone chose to punish a company for violation of the 2012 law.

So in some ways....as much as the President and his team thought they were really on top of things.....they really screwed up badly.  Other than getting Congress to dump the 2012 law....there's no way out.  And that won't happen with this President, this House, and this Senate.

The Santorini Story

If you ever go to Greece....especially any of the islands....there's always these stupid donkey-tours.  To get from point X to point Y.....there's this trail that goes along some scenic hillside and Greeks want it to be unique and cost money.....so rather than run some bus or some wagon across the trail.....they have this donkey operation to transport you a mile or two.  They've been doing this for generations and everyone pays for the stupid donkey-ride.  Well....everyone except me.

On the various trips that I've been to Greece.....when this donkey-ride tour comes up.....I just grin and say no.  There's a difference between horses and donkeys.  A horse relates to the human and generally has some acceptance.  A donkey has an awful lot of independence and just wants to be left alone.

Well.....we had this local gal here in Germany....from my region....who went off on a four-star cruise and trip to Santorini (the isle).  It's a brief stop for the cruise.  You park the ship and everyone gets around eight to ten hours to walk around the Greek isle, buy t-shirts or fake Chinese-made statues, eat some local cuisine, and ride the donkeys down some path to a scenic area.

This gal....in her mid-sixties and with her husband....was a political figure of some sorts in the Taunus region (a skip or two past my hillside).  The local news sources won't divulge her name.

The best that they can say is that the couple came up on some donkey-tour.....done the tour and the lady was dismounting the donkey when another donkey went into some wild act.  I'm guessing the second donkey scared the first donkey and he launched into some defensive measure....tossing the lady and she ended up headfirst on the ground with a concussion.  There is some suggestion by the way they wrote the article that she got kicked in the head while on the ground.

It's a sad way to go and simply a reminder that you need to appreciate the thousand ways that you might accidentally die each day.  Death by donkey probably wasn't on her list.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

How Congress (and the Senate) Should Work

I admit....I'm not a rocket scientist, minister, journalist, zoo keeper, car mechanic, leprosy expert, doctor, cowboy or ergonomic-chair engineer.  But I'm willing to go out on the limb and prescribe the ten things that ought to happen IF you wanted to fix Congress (and the Senate).

1.  The Speaker ought to be a non-representative....not elected by any state.  It's a full-time job and you can pretend all you want....but representing your state and performing the Speaker job.....is a sixty-plus hour a job and needs to be a guy with no debt to the Republican National Committee or any special agenda group.

2.  The Senate needs to be set free.  They need to have nothing to do with the budget or taxation standards of the nation.  The Senate should be around to confirm judges, approve treaties, agree on Presidential cabinet members, and attend funerals for dead VIPs.  I think the Senate should meet for twelve weeks starting in January, another four weeks in August, and maybe a week in October. Senators should not be allowed to travel overseas or beyond the US border except for funerals or vacations with their spouse.

3.  The House ought to require a simple majority for any budget or taxation issue....fifty-percent plus one.

4.  Senate and House members should be limited to six appearances a year on any TV network, period.

5.  Any House or Senate member who misses more than ten-percent of the roll-call votes each year....should have ten-percent of his salary deducted for the next year.

6.  If elected and sent to the House.....you need to walk in on day one and take a forty-question test on your home state.  Simple questions.....name the capital, the governor, the state bird, etc.  If you don't get 75-percent or better on the test.....you get sent home for a week and get a retest next week.  If you don't pass on the fifth time.....Congress notifies the state that you are some dimwit and they need to replace you.

7.  Each state legislature ought to have the authority to meet and recall their guy for a period of thirty days....if they disagree with his behavior or voting pattern.

8.  Any Representative who is accused of fraudulent behavior or corruption would be subject to a 45-day suspension and a full-time judge would be sitting and ready to go with a full-time prosecutor to determine if you are a person with no respect for the law.

9.  All House members would be limited to five staff members.  All Senators would be limited to three staff members.

10.  Jeans and leisure wear would be authorized to wear on Fridays....but no t-shirts or tube-tops.

The KiKai?

This week's auto show in Tokyo will feature a Toyota demonstration vehicle....the Kikai.

It's a three-person car with hot-rod-like features.

Potential to become a sales item?  No one says much.  No price.  No discussion.  Just something to make people ask questions.

The thing is....if you keep looking at the Kikai and think a kit-car situation.....people might have a passion for it.  Imagine you order this crate from Japan for $12,000 in parts.  It arrives and gets pushed into your garage.  You spend two years assembling it, and then you throw the tag on it and start to drive it.

I think Toyota ought to think in a different fashion....to make a hobby car with features that you could select and just have thrown into the crate.   Toss in a laptop tab with all the directions and videos to help you assemble it.  Don't even offer tires with it....just the rims and have the guy go and select his own preference for tires.

The Bogus Nazi Story

After this community college shooting in Oregon.....I watched for the hundredth time.....another big mention over the Nazi effort for gun control and how they disarmed the general public in Germany.  Frankly, I'm tired of the bogus story and how no historians ever stand up to correct the story.  The pro-gun guys always like to slam down the anti-gun guys by linking the Nazis to controlling guns.  It's all bogus.

At the closure of WW I.....defeat occurred and German troops in mass droves...packed and went home.  They went by rail, by horse and wagon, or just walked home.  There was no real thought to the soldier and his weapons.  So, virtually all of the German army participants walked home with their guns.

As the defeat had transformed the nation into a very weak democratic structure (no Kaiser).....over the next two or three years, there's one continual worry or threat.  Everyone views Russia and they now sit in Germany to worry about communist revolution coming to the fatherland.  Naturally, all these troops sitting back in their hometown.....with guns....is a big issue.

So, there's one massive push to establish gun control in Germany in the early 1920s (a dozen years before Hitler and the Nazis).

Basically, while no numbers or real statistics exist.....the general belief by those who've reviewed the period....is that this first original effort to control guns in Germany was a failure.

Roughly six years go by and the same democratic structure....still unaffected by Hitler or the Nazis....come back for a second chance to try more gun control because there's still massive fear of a communist revolution.  This episode might have been considered mildly effective at best.

So as 1932 rolls around and there's still this massive fear from the general public and the political apparatus of Germany.....the Nationalist Socialists are brought into power (37-percent of the vote, if you were curious.....meaning that almost 63-percent voted against the party).

The Nazis did enact one or two measures that are gun-control situations....mostly to require gunsmiths to keep records of repair and serial numbers of the guns inspected or fixed.  They didn't have to do much because the Democratic apparatus had already put major measures into effect.

If you stood back and looked at matters.....Germans feared the most out of the communist revolution coming and how guns might play a role in a successful revolution.  Americans might agree.....runs do add to the success rate of a revolution.....if in the hands of the 'good'.  This might bring up a totally separate topic for discussion.....but it's the simple truth of the matter.

Friday, 9 October 2015

The Vegetarian Story

There was this British survey of vegetarians, and a shocker.

What they generally say is that around one-third of British vegetarians admit that when they get drunk (at the pub or at home).....they eat meat.

You can imagine the shock as Nigel wakes up with a hangover in his living room.  He's a confirmed vegetarian....for a decade or more.  He had a few drinks too many last night.  He doesn't remember much after the pub.  And there on the floor of the apartment.....is this big pizza box.....there's two slices left.....and it's loaded with pork, beef, and chicken.  Nigel looks at the remains and realizes that he consumed a large pizza last night.....with meat products.

After a while, Nigel will start to get depressed and question himself.  This was the great 'walk' of his life.....his theme.....his quest to be different and pure.  He and the crowd that he hung around.....were dedicated vegetarians.  He starts to question his culture and diet.

Nigel will call his friend Monty and confess what he did.  Monty.....ever the stoic vegetarian listens to the story.  With silence and a long pause after Nigel has completed his story.....Monty confesses that he too.....has failed at pure vegetarianism.  He gets drunk two or three times a week and ends up with McDonalds burger wrappers on the floor the next morning.....maybe five or six wrappers.  Together, they weep over their confessions.

It becomes a burden that neither can really handle.....so they meet that evening at a local pub and talk over their pains and suffering....while sipping a stout ale.  Three hours will pass and the two vegetarians have consumed a fair amount of ale, and are fairly drunk.  They wobble out....fall down a couple of times....and make their way to the local pizza shop where they order the meat-lovers XXL pizza.  This becomes a routine......week after week....every Friday night....the two vegetarians gather, confess their sins, consume a vast amount of ale, and eat a meat-lovers pizza.

Across all of the UK, it's the same story.  Across Europe, it's the same story.  Across the US, it's probably the same story.

Alcohol.....is hindering society from being pure vegetarian.   Who would have guessed?

The House Speaker "Opera"

In a real opera (99-percent of people have never been to one).....it doesn't really end until the fat lady gets up at the end and does her piece, and then you can finally go home.

With the House of Representatives episode.....John Boehner.....and the angry Tea Party crowd....we've yet to see the fat lady sing.

What was supposed to happen?  Current Speaker Boehner was graciously going to leave the spot, and had his number one pick McCarthy assume the post with a simple vote.  With the best guess in place....McCarthy thought that he had enough Republican votes to assume the office.  Well....no.

McCarthy discovered that probably around thirty to forty percent of all Republicans felt that McCarthy would be Boehner II.  They were already unhappy with the last six years of Boehner, so why settle for another guy of the same variety.

Some people up until yesterday morning felt that enough votes could be found from the Tea Party-like Representatives, and it'd just slide by.  Well.....there was an edit of a Wikipedia note done, and someone noted that McCarthy had been having an affair (actually noted a year ago apparently by National Enquirer) with some other gal in the House.  Oddly, there's this mechanism with Wikepedia which notes your IP address as the edit is pressed into reality.

Someone read the update there....looked at the IP address and asked where it came from.  Well....Homeland Security.

Yeah.....some guy or gal at Homeland Security.....on their office PC....wrote the Wikipedia piece.  You can imagine how hostile and angry McCarthy is presently, along with some other folks asking stupid questions.  This promises to get interesting.

So, we are saying adios to the idea of McCarthy being the House Speaker.  Next up?  Some people think that Boehner is working on Paul Ryan and hoping he'll step up to the plate.  My guess is that Paul really doesn't want the heartache and might be looking at a senate run in the near future.

Someone noted yesterday that to be Speaker....you don't necessarily have to be elected already as a House member.  The House can go crazy and pick a non-House member....some guy off the street....some retired Senator.....or even go and ask Newt Gringrich to come back and sit in the chair.  The rules are written to allow that.  Has it ever been occupied by a non-House member?  No.  The odds of Newt being asked to come back?  This got brought up yesterday.  Newt even commented that he can't see how it'd ever occur, but didn't say no.  House numbers?  I'd wager that forty-percent of the Republicans would readily agree on Newt.  The Republican national committee?  No way that they'd accept Newt into the scenario.

What you've got is a very angry and hostile group of Republicans who aren't pretending they are Republican.....they actually see themselves in the light of Reagan.  Then you have roughly forty-percent of the House, who are products of the Republican national headquarters and simply wearing a veil to pretend on their status as a Republican.  They aren't Republican or Democrat....they simply honor lobbyists and special agendas.  I'm guessing that there are Democrats in the same veil of representation....they don't honor their party structure or the district they serve.....they honor lobbyists and agenda.

This is why people want Donald Trump. This is why Bernie Sanders has gained onto Hillary.  This is why Doc Carson is charming the public.  No one believes the DC structure anymore.

The 'fat lady'?  I don't think we are anywhere near the point of picking a new House speaker, and it might come to be a shock that we see people accept the idea of a non-House member serving out the next sixteen months as the Speaker.  As much as it sounds crazy.....bringing back Newt isn't that crazy.  Maybe he is the 'fat lady'.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Rule of the Grammar Queens

There's this company.....Grammarly....which has a unique business angle.  They say or claim that they (as a private company) are the world's authority and leading automated proofreader.

In essence, they are a grammar-checker company, and someone (hard to imagine it not being English literature freaks or CEO).....to check the grammar of folks across the spectrum.

So, they say they've covered the 19 folks running for President and found that enthusiasts for Republicans make more grammatical screw-ups than enthusiasts for Democrats. Republican enthusiasts also use fewer unique words.....a key method that tells stories over your 'intelligence'.  And finally, there is this claim that Trump enthusiasts are the worst of the worst on grammar usage.

It's hard to imagine that 'grammar queens' have turned a business idea like this into something that actually pays a profit.

The idea that someone walks around and notes grammar usage of folks?  I've been around a number of folks who carried a listing of a thousand words to always throw into evaluations.....sparking them a bit and making a guy look 'special'.  After a while, I came to realize.....like a lot of Air Force people....that the words on an evaluation were pretty bogus and made the guy look often fabricated or phony.

What Grammar issues for the Hillary folks?  Well....they didn't say.  It might have been interesting to hear what the Obama grammar situation is for his folks, or if Al Gore enthusiasts were 'rocket-scientists'.   But they left that out of the whole story.

I'm guessing if you brought up this type of measurement with George Washington.....he probably would have started laughing, and noted the bulk of American residents were barely able to read and you'd best not worrying them over their position in life or their political status, or their usage of pseudo verbiage to attract attention.

On the Subject of Sirens

One of the hundred-odd things that an American would notice after a couple of months in Germany....is that Germans have retained the old air-raid-like sirens, and they use them on a semi frequent basis (calling up the volunteer fire department or running tests).

I'd take a guess that in my village of four-thousand people.....throughout an entire year.....the siren goes off at least twenty times.  Once or twice a year.....there's a test of the system at noon (always advertised a month ahead of time).  The rest are all recalling guys for the fire department.

Two Hessen cities, because of a large flow of refugees.....have opted to halt the air raid sirens for the time being.

The logic?  The bureaucrats say that the Syrians have been through a lot and it's just not right to run the air-raid sirens.....it'd just get them all frustrated and disturbed.

Oddly, ever since the night that they brought refugees into my village and they ran the air-raid siren to get the volunteer fire department to come out and organize things (at 3AM).....the local air-raid siren in my village has been quiet.  No fire.....no emergencies.  I'm kinda of the opinion that they may have switched it off intentionally because of some reaction that morning with the refugees arriving.

It is something left over from WW II.  Germans who lived through the 1941-1945 era.....all remember the siren, and remember the drill that was involved.....going to a local cellar and hoping that the bombs didn't hit their house.

You would think that as the war ended.....the last thing on Earth that any of these people wanted to hear....would be the air-raid siren.  Oddly.....they kept that feature around.

Robbery in the Neighborhood

We had an unusual robbery in my region (here in Germany) over the weekend.  A grocery got robbed.....after hours.

If you've never been to Germany.....most buildings have a tile roof....not just houses, but most stores and regular buildings.  Tile roofs are an odd factor in construction.

Years ago....for twenty-odd minutes one afternoon....I stood and watched this crew put up a tile roof.  One guy on the ground would pile tiles on an escalator-like device and it'd go up to the roof and deliver the loose tiles to two big strong and husky guys.  The two guys would walk across the roof and simply pop the ceramic tiles into place.  No nails.  No glue.  No tar.  Just popping them onto a wood plank, and putting another tile on top of that.  A regular roof deal probably wouldn't take more than six hours for two guys to throw up into place.

So, we have this grocery in the nearby town.....four miles away....with a tile roof.

The break-in guy figured out that once you get on a roof.....you just slide your hand under a tile, and you can remove it.  Once he removes a dozen tiles and there's this opening. He slides in....gets past the false ceiling, and he can rob the place easily.

Cops won't say how much, but you can figure that he carried out booze, smokes and maybe some cash.

Here's the thing.....there's almost no way for the grocery guys to figure some protection against another robbery like this.  You could throw up sensors......but for a store like this?  You'd have to figure $20,000 spent on the sensors.  A security guard?  Well....for seven nights a week.....that's a cost item.  Leave a dog in the place?  Sanitation requirements would fall into play.

It'll be curious if this gets repeated several times and it's a gang with one smart roofer in the mix.

Gitmo Ends?

There's a piece today, short and blunt....from RollCall....that kinda says the President is so tied up into closing Gitmo (our prison for the Islamic characters in Cuba)....that he is threatening to veto the National Defense Authorization Act if Congress doesn't fix the wording to prevent him from closing it.

No Authorization Act.....no funds to run the military.

Republicans are playing along now because they don't want to shut down the government.

A true fix?  No.

You've got at least thirty Republicans who simply don't agree with the President's desire to close Gitmo.....and you probably have forty-odd governors who really don't want the Gitmo crowd moved into their state.

The best bet right now....is simply another continuing resolution....saying that there's this fake budget with numbers written on it and you can spend this money.

Will Gitmo close?  Maybe....but I'd take a bet that whoever gets the remaining prisoners in the US (whichever state).....will turn into a political mess for that governor and create another massive political issue in four years.

The Little Gamble in Life

Generally, if you wait a week after a mass shooting and the sudden eruption of gun control talk....you come to this one curious news item that will get rarely reported.

This morning....from Oregon and the Umpqua Community College shooting....it kinda came out that Chris Mercer was into some drugs (legal stuff that you'd take for controlling violent outbursts).

You generally take lithium....if you are bipolar and unable to control some of your urges or mood swings.  What doctors will say in general discussions is that they don't fully understand lithium or it's affect on the mind.  Yeah, it was one of those freak discoveries that had strong evidence of helping uncontrollable people.

Now, I should note....once you get onto lithium and you think that fixes problem one....well, it kinda starts problem number two: hand tremors will start up......you start getting thirsty more often.....you start having more diarrhea....you have enough nausea that you want to vomit.....then you start noticing poor memory.....then you start to pile on weight (probably from eating more)....then you start to notice thinning hair and occasional acne, and there's this occasional problem with you just wanting to sleep more and more.

This is the kind of stuff that you'd notice after six months and you'd start to ask questions about the new problems and how you fix these.  Frankly, most people who grasp they've got bad concentration and poor memory....get pushed out of jobs and can't feel too positive about any future job situation....so more depression piles on top of present depression.  Social anxiety?  Tons of it, but what exactly will that do to fix the problem?

Mercer admits in one Facebook commentary that he was taking five different drugs.  The effect of each drug against the other?  You can bet that no drug company would dare test their stuff to see what happens if you take X, and then pile Y and Z on top of it.

From the piece that InfoWars did.....Mercer's mom admits months ago that both she and her son had Asperger's Syndrome and that Mercer had to be put into a mental facility for a while because he just refused to stay on the Lithium.

You just kinda stand there and shake your head.  All this gun control talk, but this is simply another example of a confused kid who simply couldn't get to any point of control and probably needed to be in some permanent facility with no stress, no outside influence, and mildly sedated.  Go and suggest that in the public and you'd see a quarter of the nation freak out completely and say that's simply not right or granting the personal lifestyle or civil rights of the affected person.

Point-counter-point of the whole issue.

Who has more rights in the end?  It's kinda of a poor way of playing life-poker and just hoping today....I've got my marbles lined up right, driving a safe car, working in a business that will not fold up or go bankrupt, paying my taxes, hoping that I don't get robbed tonight on the way home by some drugged-up teenage hoodie-kid, and then face some Lithium-player who is either safely on meds or unsafely off his meds who might want to kill me because of my shirt color, my status with some church, or my affiliation with banjo players.

Yeah, it's a lousy situation and you just gamble on each day unfolding in a safe way and you end up back home....safe and sound.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Light on a Tree

I'm often at innovation and artsy stuff.

This past summer in Dresden....they had a fest one night by the river.  From the distance, I could see this big 'greenish' thing.  So you walk and walk.....finally getting to this tree in the middle of a fest.

They've put up a high wattage light.....focused up into the tree and it's reflected a hundred-times over.

From a mile away, it's obvious and just draws your attention.

The 90-Second Kid

This morning, on my way to class....I rode the early bus which was loaded with 'teenies' (German kids).  Most adults try to avoid this 7:00 to 7:30 run of buses because of the hectic nature of kids on a bus.  Sometimes, I end up learning things from this younger crowd.

This morning.....as I stood in the middle of the bus....I had a great view of a seat with two young ladies (probably around thirteen years old each).  They'd sat down and dragged out homework.  We have twenty-five minutes before the bus hits Wiesbaden.....so you have time to compare notes and wrap up homework assignments.  From what I could see from over their shoulder....it was a wordy math problem.  One had the problem written out.....the other one did not.

There was some brief discussion between the two and then one pulls out a smart-phone and pulls up a video, then shares a ear-piece with her friend.  I can't hear the audio but I can see clearly the smart-phone screen.

So, this guy comes up on the screen.....maybe thirteen years old and he's waving this work-sheet around.  Then he turns to a white-board behind him and here's the text of the problem (the same as the young ladies have, I must assume).  He takes a marker and marks out this phrase and that phrase.....then circles three statistical things, and then puts to the final question.  Then here's the equation....very simply written.  The one girl hits stop, and the other one without the finished problem begins to write the equation.

I stood there and realized this marvelous thing that had occurred.

Over the last six years of high school.....I had five math instructors.  Two were marginal math experts.  Two were average.  And one really knew how to explain the simplicity of physics and math.

In the ninth grade, we had this one chapter that should have taken three weeks to complete, and this guy could not get the point across.  We got somewhere around seven weeks that were wasted because it just didn't make sense.....on a chapter that should have taken three weeks. In the end.....we just moved on while fifty percent of the class never got it.  I barely got it myself.

There are kids out there who are sitting in math classes and really know how to take complex issues and lessen the pain and suffering of math.  They can take a complex word problem.....throw out the red herrings.....and suddenly use one single example to get the point across.  That's what this young kid on the video had done.

But now, you think of innovation of this situation.

The kid walked out of school around 1PM yesterday and went home.  He snacked and probably started homework by 2PM.  He reached this math issue by 2:30 and quickly assessed the stupidity of the question and the woeful way it was contrived.  By 3:00....he'd put the problem onto a white board in the house and with a friend video-taping this.....he worked up a 90-second presentation to get the problem across in simplistic form.

He loaded the 90-second video onto the internet....probably facebook and YouTube, then shared it with the twenty-four other kids in the class (one assumes).  Among them.....they probably knew of another forty kids of their age in Hessen with the same math book and same homework standard, and they shared it out.  By 10PM last night.....at least one hundred kids probably had the 90-second presentation.

By this morning (07:30), there were probably three-hundred kids who'd accessed this 90-second presentation and wrapped up their homework.

They will all enter some math class today, with a marginal math teacher.  The marginal teacher will be picking some poor kid who should normally fail the problem and screw up the problem as they walk up to the white board to write their answer.  Well.....they won't screw up.  They will write the right answer.

The teacher will be shocked and pat himself on the back.....with outstanding work accomplished.....even if he is a marginal math instructor.

Innovation, the internet, Facebook, YouTube, smart-phones, Wi-Fi, and technology.....are giving the geeky guys a chance to pass along knowledge to overcome incompetent and marginal teachers.  We didn't have that in 1973.  Today?  The sky is the limit.

The amazing thing is that this one kid took a complex problem and in ninety seconds had flipped it around to be a very simple math question, with a few numbers arranged in some equation.  Why can't the guys who write these stupid math books do the same thing?  No answer.

The "Blah" Situation

After touring the Octoberfest, I came to a point where I admitted it was just too stressful and needed relief....so I ended up by the English Gardens....ten minutes walking from the Munich train-station.

It's a calm place....water fountains, husky man-warrior statues, trees to offer shade, and an authentic German beer garden....called the Park Cafe.

At some point of course, I required a beer, and a visit to the bathroom of the establishment.

There was an older guy four steps in front of me and we headed to the interior bathroom at the back of the cafe.

There stood two doors.

Normally in Germany.....there are around eight different ways to identify a guy's bathroom and a women's bathroom.  Sometimes it's done in stick-figure art, and sometimes, it's done in simple words.

In this case?

Two doors.  One door had "blah-blah-blah-blah-blah-blah and blah" written on the door.  The other door had "blah".

Both the old guy and I stopped and tried to figure which door was the guy's room and which was the women's room.  Naturally, I'm from Alabama and it takes three seconds longer to figure things out which don't make sense.

Then it hit me.....guys are "blah", and women are "blah-blah-blah-blah-blah-blah-blah and blah".

It's a Bavarian slam on women, but the guy probably got it right.

In the US?  The sign would have been forced down in less than a week, with some judge ordering it removed.  In Germany?  Nothing.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Dress and Attire

You can dress casual at Octoberfest.....in regular clothing.  Or you can dress Bavarian (not German).....and be a bit different.

The ladies outfit as you see....is something out of the 1800s, and amply showing as much chest as a guy really needs to see.

Most gals from Bavaria will dress in the outfit, which might run around 200 Euro.

For the guys?  Leiderhosen will run you for the whole leather pants and shirt deal, and the right socks....probably around 300 to 350 Euro.

You can go real cheap, with fake leather or goat-leather....for maybe 65 Euro.

Is it really necessary to be this way?  It would be debatable.

Maybe if you wanted to impress some guy with the open blouse, impress the girlfriend with some silly suit...well, fine.

The problem I see....you spend like 350 Euro for some fancy leather pants, you drink a good bit, and you end on the throw-up hill.....tossing up a bunch of stuff on the nice new leather pants.

Octoberfest "Hill"

At the end of the Octoberfest 'playground'.....there's the hill.  This is typically where guys somehow get themselves there and just lay there until the state of drunkenness has passed.  Or, if your friends think you too drunk to handle.....this is where they will drop you off.

You will note that it's got a slant, and this is supposed to help those who might have eaten a good bit, and need to throw up as well.

Needless to say.....by 1PM, there's probably over 3,000 people gathered around the hill....mostly from the age group of 18 to 25 years old.  It's mostly 10 guys for each gal on the hill.

The medics will make a pass every hour and kinda check for severe cases.....guys who have deep cuts and bleeding bad or guys with broken body parts.

So, if you got there around 9AM, and did hard-drinking for two hours.....you'd go to the hill for phase one.  Then return to the fest for more beer by 2PM, and then come back to the hill by 6PM, and rest until 9PM to go home.

You could stand at the top of the hill and admire the tough nature of these guys and gals.  They've put away tons of beer prior to 1PM and could go back for more beer later. I stood there and admired one guy who'd thrown up a good bit of food that he consumed in the morning and he was laying on most of that.  It's hard to say what he'll do when he finally comes around, or how he cleans himself up.

If you ever go to the fest, I'd suggest that you start at the hill around noon and admire the folks there.....before you make your way into the fest itself.  Maybe it'll help motivate you to sip less beer.  Maybe.

Octoberfest Action

One of the things you have to note during a Octoberfest episode....are drunks.

In this case, I watched the episode unfold.

Huns....the guy in ground in the red shirt....was unable to handle his coordination any longer.  This was around 1PM and they'd wrapped up their first fest tent beer (or two, or three).

Huns tried to put his arm over the shoulder of his buddy....Marvin.  Marvin could barely stand and the two collapsed on the ground.

As much as Marvin wanted to help his poor buddy....Huns was just 'out of it'....as we would say in Alabama.  Huns kinda laid there.....on the asphalt. You could tell as he kinda rolled there.....he had abrasions on his forehead and some pretty wicked cuts.  Stitches?  I'm guessing he needed three or four minimum......a fair dose of bactine (maybe half a bottle) over the abrasions on his forehead.

If you walk around enough.....you come to note a number of guys (mostly all guys).....who have fresh stitches on their head and you kinda wonder if they've been at the fest for a day or two or three.

If you walked around for twelve hours.....statistically, I'd take a guess that you might note at least two hundred episodes like this.

Medical squads roam the fair grounds and make assessments.  Two guys to a team.  If it's really bad.....they will call for a team with a dolly to come and get you.  They drag you over to the far end of the fair grounds where there's an emergency complex set up.  They are kinda nice about it.....taking care of you.....then asking you for your German medical card or a credit card.  Yeah.....they are going to get some money out of you for the treatment required.  It won't be terribly expensive.....at least by US standards where they'd charge $1,500 for an emergency room visit and another $2,000 for some treatments.

Will Huns remember anything of the day?  I kinda doubt it.  In fact.....even if the medical guys treat Huns....they will likely release him within three or four hours, and this being late afternoon by that point.....there's still more drinking to do, and Huns will go right back for more action.  You'd think the medical guys would invent some laxative to apply and make the guy nauseous if he consumed more booze for the day.....but no, that just wouldn't be right to limit a guy.

Crazy Control

I've come to this idea....instead of advocating gun control.....it might be more logical to advocate crazy control.

It's a simplistic idea.  Basically take every single standard that folks wanted to apply to guns, and apply it to crazy people.

So, you start with crazy registration and a national registry of crazy people.  Anyone on medication that might cloud their judgement or keeps them 'numb'?  Onto the registry.  Anyone who is a LSD player, or uses bath salts or meth?  They go onto the registry.  Got five neighbors or relatives who go to a judge and sign paperwork on someone, and force the court of the county to examine a guy?  He goes onto the registry.

Once you have the registry.....you tell the gun shops and private owners.....they can't sell to this guy or gal, period. Failure to observe the crazy registry?  You do jail-time in your state.

After this is in place.....then you go and visit the homes of the crazy people and remove their guns.  If other non-crazy people live in the house or apartment and own guns?  Fine.....as long as they place their guns in a locked gun cabinet with only one single key.....they can retain their weapons.  If they can't prove the locked gun cabinet requirement.....they temporarily lose their weapons until they can fix their problem or dump their relative or friend with someone else.

Most legit gun owners and hunters.....would support this type of idea with no hesitation.  The question is....would a liberal support it?  Do liberals think that crazies have more rights in life, than gun owners?

Cost of this idea?  That's the interesting part.  Other than a national registry.....nothing much else.  Got a judge who orders the removal of a guy from the national registry?  Fine.  If the guy fails or show craziness later.....killing someone? Put the judge into some jail for a while and see if he learns his lesson.

I know.....it probably won't work, and people will get bad feelings about dumping on crazy folks.  But sane and normal people don't go around shooting or murdering folks.  That's really the truth to the whole issue.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

The All-In-One Restaurant

I spent Saturday at the Octoberfest and will write over the experience.  But first, a subject which my brother would likely comment upon.

I stayed at a town outside of Munich, and the hotel didn't offer any food....they did say there was a pizza operation down the street.  I looked over the brochure, and felt 'unsteady' and just shaking my head.

It was basically a German-Italian-Indian-Mexican-Thai and Chinese pizza shop.

My brother....an engineer....would say that you can typically have a ethnic restaurant that serves X and Y.  Once you go past X and Y.....trying five or six styles into one shop....it typically ends in disaster.

In Alabama, a guy can typically run a decent US-Mexican restaurant or a Chinese-Thai restaurant.  Maybe you could run a decent Indian-Thai restaurant....but you'd question where the expertise would come from.

The problem I see.....at least four-hundred spices over the oven.  A guy being all sweaty and not paying attention.....could pour eight Indian spices onto some Mexican dish and knock the guy on the ground with all the heat of Indian spices.

All of this.....then you wonder.....what the heck will Indian pizza taste like.....or Mexican pizza?  Maybe it's best not to ask.

No, I skipped their service.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Death by Nazi-ness

"The community college is a gun-free campus."

- CBS News on the Umpqua Community College shooting

It's rarely worth discussing these mass shootings because there's really nothing learned or gained from the vast amount of knowledge that the shooter or the analysts dumped onto the public.

Obviously, the college felt that by making it a gun-free campus....it would be safer.  The only problem with this logic is that nutcases don't follow rules or laws.  Ever noticed that?

We have countless federal and state laws which dictate that you can't kill anyone....even in a moment of passion or anger.  It doesn't matter if you take an ax, a hammer, a pitchfork, a car, a chainsaw, or a gun.....you can't kill anyone.  Yet, it gets violated on a daily basis.  I'm still waiting for some guy to stand up and try to make some national agenda and get a law passed on top of the laws....saying it's "totally" against the law to kill some guy.

How effective is a gun-free campus?  Well, as long as you have no nuts around.....it's great.  One single nut....can spoil the concept of a gun-free campus.

Oddly, the US military runs gun-free bases and posts.  The only legit way to have a gun on base is to store your rifle or handgun at the armory on each post.  If you want to live on post.....you store your gun.  If you need to go hunting....you go over to the armory.....check it out and drive straight to the gate and exit.  It's fairly rare to ever have a shooting on a military installation under the present rules.
The other odd thing that CBS wanted to point out.....they had one single security guard at this community college.  He was unarmed.  No one has said much or explained what the purpose of this unarmed security guard is.....except he was 'security'.  Maybe he had bear-spray or such.....but you just don't know.

The anti-gun nuts?  They came out quickly and wanted to make some point.  Then you read this nutcase's agenda.....claiming he was anti-religious....Republican.....pro-Nazi.....supporting the IRA of Ireland.  All of this.....and he still lived at home.  Job?  I've yet to come across any news source that says he actually worked for living.

Among the seventy-thousand codes of injury, death and illness....I'm wondering if there is a code for getting killed by a Nazi-nutcase.  Maybe it's time to add that to the health codes.  Death by Nazi.  Yeah, pretty strange.