Tuesday, 28 June 2016

One of My Air Force Stories

This is one of those oddball stories that I will relate over a life experience, and years later.....I still ponder about.

As I got ready to join the Air Force in 1977....it required the final trip up to Nashville.....to the recruiting station.  On this particular morning, there were four of us who were leaving for San Antonio and boot-camp.

One guy was some two-year community college guy from around the Murfreesboro area.  The second guy was a 18-year old guy who readily consumed alcohol (even at breakfast there at the hotel).  Then there was this nutso 18-year old gal from Hackleburg, Al.

As we wrapped up processing and boarded the van out to the airport.....the nutso gal began a 20-question and comment period, demonstrating a remarkable amount of naive and unworldly behavior.  In retrospect, I would refer to as a female version of Forest Gump.

As we neared the airport, this childish chatter was driving me nuts and I hoped that I wouldn't have to sit next to her on the airplane.  Well....I was the one given the seat next to her.

It would be best describe her as a marginally bright individual....with the mental intellect of a 12-year-old kid.  The fact that her chatter just continued on, and on, and on......was the sad part about this story.

As we boarded the plane.....which was the last few hours of 'freedom'.....my two associates both asked for whisky and coke, and the nutso immediately hyped in to the stewardess that we were going to basic training and she didn't think they ought to be drinking.  This statement worried me.....so I took the morale ground and declined my chance to partake in the this last couple of rounds of booze before bootcamp.   For roughly two hours....from Nashville to Dallas.....this chatter continued on.

She related all sixty-odd relatives from the Hamiliton, Hackleburg, and Natural Bridge area of Alabama.  Names were mentioned, marriages, divorces, etc.  Several had dogs, and the names of the dogs were mentioned.  One had done time in a Mississippi prison for some bad behavior, but she left out what exactly the bad behavior was about.

We would arrive in San Antonio that night, and get on a big bus with forty-odd people, and find ourselves separated out into various groups, and that was the last moment for five weeks that I'd see this nutso gal.

For five weeks, I didn't really think much about her and simply concentrated on getting the heck through the six-week basic training and wrap up this whole thing.

Around three or four days prior to graduation.....I was hanging out at the shopette on base and several young ladies from another boot-camp group came up.  There was a discussion from the group over so-and-so, who several folks just didn't see how they'd graduate this gal.  I was sitting there close enough to hear the discussion over someone that was not standing there.  Yeah, I was thinking.....it has to be that nutso gal.  About five minutes would pass, and here walks up the nutso gal, and the chatter immediately ends over so-and-so.  Obviously, it was the same person.

A couple of days would pass, and it was the day after graduation, and around 150 of us met at some point near the barracks to board buses to Wichita Falls, Texas.  The next day, we'd all inprocess there for the technical school, and yes.....here was the nutso gal.  She was there to attend the fine Air Force nursing school there.  Somewhere in the first four hours of inprocessing.....they give us another dose of the "I'm OK, you're OK" seminar. I'm in the group of forty which has the nutso gal.  At least three or four observations are noted by the nutso gal during this psychological seminar.....all readily demonstrate her as a fairly dim and naive individual.

My class wraps up two months later, and I end up at Rhein Main Air Base, Germany.  For two years, I was stationed there.  About two weeks before I'm supposed to rotate out.....I have to go by and pick up my records as part of out-processing.  There in the hallway is this NCO and this airman.  There's a fairly intense discussion going on and I'm about ten feet away and facing away from the female airman.  Basically, the Air Force, or the Captain over this airman.....had put a note into her records to deny her re-enlistment.

The airman was fairly upset and the NCO simply noted that she had eighteen more months to demonstrate something to have this note removed.  Otherwise, he really didn't want to discuss the matter anymore. "Why" was asked over and over, and the NCO tried to put it in simple language....she wasn't up the challenges of performance.  He avoided using the term 'maturity' but he danced around the word enough to indicate that was 99-percent of the issue.

The voice of the airman seemed familiar.  So as she turned and walked my way.....I kinda froze....it was the nutso from Hackleburg.  I kinda hid my face and avoided being noticed.

I would leave Rhein Main in January of 1980 and never see this Hackleburg gal ever again.  In some ways.....I kinda wonder what happened, or if she ended up in August of 1981 on a bus back to Hackleburg, Alabama.

What it demonstrated to me was that you end up with all kinds of characters who march off and do a couple of years in the military, with some of them really unprepared for the experience and some of them really marginally capable of handling pressure or stress.

The Problem with Referendums

After last week's episode with the BREXIT referendum.....one might sit down and ask if public referendums are a safe and reasonable measure for public government and the survival of a republic.

Americans get a bare taste of referendums every couple of years via their county and state.  There will be some minor effort to reform some law.....allowing a tax to increase, or establishing some limit on school spending, or allow teacher's salaries to increase.  It's a minimal effort type referendum and saves the state legislature from getting into the middle of some mess.  But these are all carefully worded and allows just a marginal bit of participation by the public.

For example, if you went to the public in Alabama, and asked about "drying-out" the state (forbidding all alcohol sales and consumption).....it'd actually around forty to fifty percent of the voters who would vote for "dry".  Naturally, you can't allow this type of referendum to go forward and allow the potential dry situation to occur in the state.

Another example, if you went to the public in California and asked to make meth a legal substance to sell to the public.....I'd take a guess that 35-percent of the public would vote for this.  Maybe with a bit of effort, they might even get close to 45-percent.  This should scare most people but this is one of the problems with referendums.

In the Air Force, I was at a base where they allowed some guy to perform a poll around 1979, and the poll said that Air Force members on the base preferred to have more time off.....rather than a pay-raise of 5-percent.  That shocked the leadership so much, that they recalled all the copies of the publication and poll.....because they were all pumped up for the pay-raise instead.

I suspect if you offered up a referendum across all fifty states.....to disestablish the US federal government.....down to just a Congress, with no senate and no president....there might actually be enough people to get the referendum to 50-percent.

If you offered up a referendum to all fifty states to terminate the IRS and just go with a flat-tax.....that might pass with 60-percent of the national vote.

If you offered up a referendum to ban US senators from joy-riding outside the US, that might actually get 70-percent of the national vote.

If you offered up a all-drugs-legalized (to include crack and meth) in Baltimore....it'd likely pass with 50-plus-percent of the city residents.

So, here's the honest truth.....you just can't run a republic where referendums are a major part of our government's daily process.  You could end up with five counties in the state of South Carolina who want to exit the state, and create Southwest Carolina.  Or you might end up with the city of Chicago voting overwhelmingly to make their own state out of thin air.

The Fake Monk Story

In the midst of the news today, there is this one piece from New York City....on the notice now that fake monks exist and becoming a troublesome problem.

I sat and read over the whole thing.  This are Thai-looking guys....shaved bald....great English....who go out into the NY public and chat up that they want to build a new temple in Thailand....and need cash.

Then I noticed that the fake monk routine has been used a bit in San Francisco.  A trend across the nation?  Well.....it makes you wonder.

Usually, most folks are very accepting of some shaved-head guy in a monk's uniform with flip-flops on.  I haven't figured out why such an acceptance exists except it is worldwide (even here in Germany).  I've been waiting for shaved women to appear in the outfits, but that's yet to occur.

Why this general acceptance?  I think this goes back to the 1970s show.....Kung Fu.  People remember Keye Luke offering advice and wisdom to the young David Carridine.  The bad guys always seemed to get roughed up in the end and the monk guy was always the hero who walked off into the sunset.....week after week.

After 63 episodes....you were fairly orientated toward the friendly disposition of monks.

Are there monk cards or monk ID's so we can distinguish between real and fake monks?  No.  Sadly, they aren't unionized or such.

So among the 944 things that we tend to worry about or prioritize around.....fake monks probably moved onto the list now and as we are exiting some Wal-Mart one day....there will be some fake Monk named Dalton who wants us to donate $10 toward a fine new monk temple in Thailand.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Mayberry in 2016

I've probably watched every episode of the Andy Griffith Show at least ten times each.  For the record, my most favorite one was the one where goat ate the dynamite.

People feel an attachment to Mayberry, because it was where good things happened and things got sorted out.  In today's world?  Mayberry would be in total chaos.

Barney would likely be fired on day ten of his employment because of his reckless gun-play and threats made to various residents of the town.

Andy would have some connection to a meth dealer and a corrupt mayor....leading to occasional episodes where you felt he was outside of the law.

Gomer would have been fired after three months at the gas station because of incompetence.

Goober would have gotten into women trouble....having some gal's ex-boyfriend pull a pistol on him or threaten him.

Floyd the barber would have been suspected of money-laundering.

Otis would have been sent off to some rehab in Atlanta where he spent six months drying out and later converted into some Baptist minister.

Howard Sprague would have been accused of being a right-wing Republican, and run out of town.

Ernest T. Bass would have been apprehended....sent to some mental ward in the state capital....and end up on some medication where he was suddenly squared away, and a certified rocket scientist for NASA.

Andy's chief worry in 2016 would be meth labs in town, and random nutcases.  He'd be continually asked his opinion on gun licenses, assault rifles, and asked to patrol more at night.

No one would feel safe in Mayberry, unless the police department had twelve cops and a trained assault squad.

At least once a year....Andy would have some shoot-out with gang members from Charleston or Nashville.

At least one Muslim family would be living in Mayberry, and they'd continually be getting reported to the cops for something out of the ordinary.

Twenty-percent of Mayberry would be Latino, and they'd all be on a first-name basis with Andy.

The sad thing is that there was a time when some place like Merryberry could survive.  The time has passed now.

Monday, 20 June 2016

The Small Arms Weapon Essay

Oddly, in the 22 years of Air Force duty and yearly shooting requirements.....never was the M-16 that I used....referred to as an "assault rifle".  They always referred to it as "small arms".  The instructor for the classes?  He was never an "assault instructor".....he was a "small arms instructor".

The M-16.....brother of the AR-15.....has only one single unique difference with the AR-15.  There is a little 'button' on the side which notes: 'safe', 'single', and 'auto'.  The AR-15 can only be set to 'safe' or 'single'.

The 'auto' function?  From the very first introduction episode that I can remember from boot-camp....it was the wise words of the instructor to never set the weapon to 'auto'....period.  As he said....you simply will not be able to hold with precision and ensure that the dozen-odd rounds go anywhere near the target.  Within a second or two....the rounds will be expended.  It's a wasted magazine.

Training always went the same way.  You met up around sun-up at some quiet end of the installation in some barely heated classroom.  You tended to hope that the yearly class occurred in July or August.....only because of the marginally heated rooms.

Sarge would enter the room, and give a brief introduction, and then issue out the weapons.  You'd spend roughly 90 minutes on an introduction and safety rules.  It didn't matter if you'd been around one year or twenty years.....you got the same class over, and over, and over.

There are probably twenty key things that you really needed to know about the weapon.  These were stressed over and over.  If the gun jammed.  If the gun had a bullet which fired but did not exit the barrel (really something that you worried about).  If the gun was not cleaned properly.  If the weapon was damaged.

Around noon, we'd have lunch.  After lunch, we'd return and go to fire the weapon.  In the early years.....we'd get around a hundred rounds to fire off.  Sixty usually for practice, and then forty to qualify.  By mid-90s.....ammo usage went way down and at one episode....we barely had sixty rounds to fire.  Lack of funding was the reason given for less ammo.

All this talk of assault rifle versus small arms?  The thing that sells the M-16/AR-15.....is the technology developments over the 1950s.  It's light, with a handgripe which most people readily admit.....helps in the natural handling of the rifle.  The magazine is easily filled and you can keep a dozen magazines on your person.

One of the odd things that I've come to notice from all of the mass shootings that occur....is that rarely if ever.....do they involve a guy who spent time in the Army, Air Force or Navy.  There are the PTSD folks who come up occasionally.....hoping to get a death-by-cop, but generally.....people that passed through a couple of years with the military....have some mental compass that keeps them somewhat motivated to behave in society.

Perhaps because of this yearly training thing and continued exposure to the M-16.....I'm not so easily bought off by the political discussions on the gun.  Behind all of this.....the statistics do amuse you at times.....more Americans are killed by blunt objects (hammers, bats, etc) than assault rifles (small arms).  More people generally killed in motorcycle accidents than by assault rifles (small arms) as well.

Maybe some law does take effect and limits the sale of AR-15 rifles.  But in the back of my head, I just don't see this meaning very much.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

A Musical Weekend

My wife says that at least once a year, I need culture.  This weekend....was that culture event....a trip to the musical show in Germany.....Starlight Express.

To describe Starlight Express, as a musical and show.....I'd say that some guy took an opera writer and engineer to a roller derby event in the US.....gave them both a fair amount of booze, and after two hours....they left in a daze.  Both saw something creative that they could do with roller derby.

So, this opera was written up.  Not really five-star songs or such, but a decent little rock-opera.  The engineer sat down and devised this arena area where 700-odd seats could be fitted around a stage where the roller derby members of the musical (28 of them) could shoot around them....at speeds of 30 mph.  Then he threw in some movable objects of a large size to be part of the show.

I sat a foot away from one path which circled the audience and you could hear the 'thunder' of the skates blasting away.

Over a two-hour period, I'd take a guess that every skater burned off 2,000 calories and had to sip a dozen big gulps of water to make it through one entire show.

To be honest, at least for me (a guy from Alabama).....I was more drawn to the skating ability and dangerous stunts, than the music from the 'opera'.

My recommendation?  If you are around the Bochum area of Germany (two hours north of Frankfurt) and had some wild need for culture and excitement......then you might want to check out the musical.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Five Facebook Accounts?

One of the odd things that you find, if you dig through all the stuff spoken of this Muslim nutcase in Orlando who shot 49 people.....is that he had five Facebook accounts.

Omar Mateen....had five separate Facebook accounts.

It's something that you look at and you just start asking why.   It's like having five separate cellphones (I knew a guy who had three cellphones that he'd carry around with himself throughout the day).  Or it's like a guy who has five separate pistols which are at critical points of the house or car, and each being slightly different in size or character.

It's something that most people wouldn't do.  So you just look at this and ask why.

Maybe there was one for Omar the son....who only friended his parents and relatives.  Maybe there was one for Omar the husband.....who only friended his wife.  Maybe there was one for Omar the worker.....who only friended his co-workers.  Maybe there was one for Omar the guy who was having affairs on the side.  Maybe there was one for Omar the guy who hooked up with other gay guys.  The thing is.....you just don't know.

It's my own observation....that this guy was living a pretty complicated life.  I don't think he could really settle into one version or one Omar.....he was probably living out several different versions of himself, and none of them made sense to the other versions.

There's nothing much of a forgiveness angle to this episode.  You just look at Omar and shake your head....he just wasn't capable of handling things within his sphere of understanding.  I doubt if anyone can stand today and say they knew the real Omar.  There just wasn't such a thing as one single Omar.

"Intellectual Ghetto"?

I was sitting and reading through the news this morning and came to this article over the "intellectual ghetto" phrase.  Basically, it would mean ( by the way the writer wrote it).....that you've customized your news to such a degree, that you only read news from five to ten sources, which favor your view of the news and events.  If you were a liberal in the intellectual ghetto.....then you stay with the Washington Post, the NY Times, MSNBC, and the 3-letter networks.  If you were a conservative, then you stick with Drudge, Fox News, and a dozen-odd web sites.

What is then said about the intellectual ghetto is that it's a bad thing and forces into a tribal-like setting....where we aren't grasping the big picture.

For example.....if you are the conservative guy, then you aren't grasping gun control, welcoming immigrants, more taxation, etc.

In a way, it is a group viewing another group as being from some parallel universe.

What some news folks tend to believe is that this is merely a new trend, and didn't exist before.  I tend to disagree.  If you go back to the 1880s to 1920s.....several US newspapers operated in the form of a intellectual ghetto as well.

A bad thing/  No.  It means you have to go and read six to ten news sources, to get a dozen facts on the table and you.....only you.....come to a rational point of understanding what the topic is about and how things are stacked or slanted.  Most people, probably 98-percent....don't have the time or desire to read that much news.  So....like some investment consultant.....they eventually go to someone they trust.  Up through the 1960s to the 1990s.....Paul Harvey tended to be the guy who most Americans felt was the guy capable of telling you the simple facts to an episode.  Today?  I'm not quiet sure.

Should we be afraid of the intellectual ghetto?  If the thugs get bad enough.....we will pack up and leave.  Reality dictates that.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

A Trust Issue in News

There's a new Gallup poll out which says that roughly 20-percent of Americans have confidence in what they see in the newspapers.  The same crowd say almost the same thing for TV news.

That means that out of every five people you bump into today....one of them still has some belief in the news delivered to them daily, and the other four are mostly amused or in disbelief of what they saw via the paper or morning news.

As a kid, I can remember folks quoting articles straight from US News and World Report, Time, Newsweak, the national papers, CBS nightly news and Paul Harvey.  Anything they read or saw....was absolute truth.

Over the past two decades.....I think that the general public got fairly clever.  They just don't buy the pumped-up stories or bogus slanted angles to news anymore.  Even if the CNN folks drag out some retired four-star general....he's discounted.


I think as time went by and competition became intense in the 1980s....they all started to look for angles to get people pumped up.  The truth is.....you can only remain pumped up for a certain amount of time, and then you kinda fall backwards.  So the practice started up to tie story after story into their theme.....so you were continually hyped up.  Well...people are tired.

If you watch the news regularly, I'd say that video or coverage over an entire week will feature roughly ten hours of the President or his administrative staff on a weekly basis now.  It's bad enough that you also get the President at least once a month on some comedy show now.  If you asked people to cite some big five-star moment with the President over the past seven years.....most would freeze and admit they can't think of a five-star moment.

It's like being a kid at a candy store and getting all the stuff you wanted to eat, and now.....you are kinda tired of the candy situation.

I think journalism has screwed itself, and triggered some automatic reaction by the public.  The sad thing is that it'll likely to a lower level where only one person out of ten has some trust in the news.

Monday, 13 June 2016

The Can't Handle It People

There are people on this Earth, who we can probably say with some enthusiasm and remarkable candor....that they can't handle a fair number of things.

Some examples:

There are guys who just can't handle booze, of any type.  Even if you threaten them with jail-time or a label of alcoholic.....they can't handle booze.

There are gals who can't handle a credit card.  You can tell them bluntly that there's only 4,000 dollars on that account per year, and they will spend 10,000 dollars without any hesitation.

There are guys who can't handle ATVs, and will risk their life daily.....for nothing to be gained.

There are gals who can't handle pain-killers, and will degrade their liver enough in ten years....that they at a remarkably early age.

There are guys who can't handle honky-tonk women, and get deep into a relationship with some 'fireball' who is crazy to the maximum extent....and handcuffing them to a life of misery.

There are gals who can't handle stress, and they live through each day whining about the 99-different screw-ups of other people.

And there are people who can't handle religion....who seem to get some idea about hyped-up talk over a dead prophet from 1350 years ago about killing folks left and right.  These are the people who think that religion will do something for them, but other than talking about some virgin gals....they can't really cite much else.  These are also the people who are convinced that some talk that came from some angel to some prophet....was all fact, and not possibly made up to cover some empty pages on some book of advice.

In my youth, I had time and patience for the 'can't-handle-it' crowd.  As I grow older, I have less and less patience.  The can't-handle-it folks ought to have learned a few things but always seem to impress me with their stupidity and naive view of the big world.

There was a time when I'd meet someone and I'd check out their shoes, note their right-handed or left-handed nature, their hair-style or color, or their introduction theme.  These days, I kinda throw in a measurement of their 'can't-handle-it' situation.  Most folks will give some little indicator in the first ten minutes after you meet them......that says much of their can't-handle-it character.

To be honest, I'd like to lecture them a bit, and get them some peace within their heart and mind.  But most I think....just don't want advice....they are deep into the mess and don't want to walk out.  So we are stuck with them, at least for a while.

Observations over the Shooting

I've probably spent three hours this weekend, watching news and analysis of the shooting in Florida.  I've spent a fair amount of time.....pondering over the event, the 'nut', and the reaction within the news media.  So, my five observations:

1.  This guy was not connected to society, to people, or to civilization.  I see no evidence of him fitting into society.  He valued people at a level of zero or less.  One should note that he wasn't a foreigner that moved into the US.....he was born here and went through the school system like the rest of us.  But at the heart of the matter....he just wasn't part of society.

2.  Based on comments.....he reloaded at least three or four times.  No one ever seemed to rush him (at least it seems that way).  Any talk of eliminating bigger magazines or limiting the public to 5-round magazines....has zero impact as long as they can keep reloading.

3.  If one single guy on the inside of that club had a gun?  Yes, that is an interesting part to the story.  What they say is that a bouncer was at the front of the club (off-duty cop) and it's suggested that he was possibly armed (I personally doubt it) but he was the first guy killed.  On the inside?  No weapons.  Not one single bartender with a gun within reach.  One single shotgun, would have been sufficient.

4.  Fixing this mess?  If you are going to dump some Constitutional right.....given the opportunity....I'd say we dump freedom of religion over the Militia right.  Just be blunt and say freedom of religion is gone tomorrow.  If any of 1,000 religions in America show a tendency for violence?  Give them thirty days to pack up and leave the US, or terminate their religion.  Anyone showing inability to give up on their violent religion?  Ship up to some internment camp in North Dakota and let them simmer there for a year or two.

5.  If gays don't really grasp it.....maybe they ought to sit down and analyze what exactly the Quran says about LGBTs.  It's not a friendly statement.  Anyone of that community that supports the Muslim religion....probably isn't living in the real world, and is drifting in and out of some fantasy world......kinda like the Twilight Zone.

So, the countdown begins.....in roughly ten days....this event will be forgotten.  Some folks in the community might put up a stone or memory statue in a year.....but basically, it's all just history in ten days.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Hillary To Pardon Herself?

I sat today and pondered this odd scenario.

Since Presidents have the power to pardon folks.....if we got to January of 2017 and President Hillary was in office, with some charges being floated....could she not just pardon herself?  I read through an hour of material and am surprised at the simple nature of Presidential pardons.

In 99-percent of cases, the answer is yes......she could pardon herself.

In the case of impeachment?  No.

If the Senate brought up impeachment charges.....they would have to have 66-percent of the Senate agree to the charges.  If not?  Then no impeachment.  She can't pardon away the process of impeachment.

Oddly, if President Obama and his staff slow this whole thing down.....even if charges do occur at some level after the inaugural.....with President Hillary in office....that's the end of this whole mess over the email business.

Let's face it....over half of the Senate Republicans really don't want Trump as President, and it makes sense to slow this mess down.....let Hillary win.....let her pardon federal charges away, and to fail to find the 66-percent vote necessary to impeach her.....and life goes on.

I know....it's pretty stupid, but in this weird political season....it's entirely possible.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

The Old-New Soviet-Russian Invasion?

Sometimes, you hear something so funny, that you just are surprised that some rational guy said this as a serious statement.

So, this guy....the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense.....(Michael Carpenter) had a session with the Senate committee on Foreign Relations.

He wanted to emphasize that Russia will have the ability to steamroll through central Europe and shock NATO forces in just sixty hours (roughly 2.5 days).  Why a half-day in the figure?  Unknown....but it sounds good.

He also wanted to emphasize that NATO and Europe can't deal with the emerging Russian threat.

The Senate folks.....mostly guys who grew up in the cold war era....listened intently.  Not much was said.

Army officers live and breathe....dreaming of this fantasy world where the Soviets cross the FRG (old West Germany) border, and are on the autobahn.....getting blasted away by the US Army units and somewhere along the 7th day of this fantasy invasion....the tide is turned and the Soviets are stalled, with Air Force fighters blasting the tank invasion hour by hour (the Air Force Colonel's general fantasy dream).

The odds of such a thing happening today?

You'd have to line some fairly dependable tanks, have fuel tankers prepared and stealing diesel off various Polish, Hungarian and German gas stations along the autobahn, and count on some weak show by US and NATO troops.  In all likelihood.....this 'fantasy' invasion would also last about seven days before the Russians declared themselves at some vantage point.  But then what?  Could such a force hold the territory....even for three or four days?  Would some vast reserve Russian army then show up to shore up their defense?

Why would the Russians invade?  This would require at least a whole bottle of Jack Daniels to imagine up some scenario where Putin has gone mostly nuts, and some Russian general is crazy enough to stand up and insist he could get the job done.  The end-result?  It's hard to imagine any result that makes this all worth the effort.  Russian birth-rates are seriously down.....most Russian guys do a year or two and then leave the service.....so there's no vast army in existence like it was in the 1960s or 1970s.

Why have this Pentagon VIP boss come up to the Senate and deliver this kind of presentation?  I'm guessing that the Army guys are running out of gimmicks to convince the Senate to give them funds for new toys or new strategies.  So, bringing back the old Soviet invasion threat to Europe seems to be ok.  I'm guessing that a dozen contractors are in the background.....writing this Soviet threat deal from material they had in 1979....relabeling Soviet to Russian, and then updating their autobahn maps to show how the Russians would drive straight into Frankfurt city.

From the border of Belerus to German (the autobahn route to Berlin)?  It's about 720 kilometers....across Poland, on a decent four-lane road.  It's hard to imagine this type of scenario in 2016, but it's the best that we can do.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

In the Year 2091

According to the State Department, at some point in the year 2091, they will have finished reviewing the 450,000 e-mails that Hillary Clinton received or sent on, and can then comply with the judge in this matter.

Now, I'm from Alabama and must profess....that 75 years is a bit of a stretch for a work-project.

How many presidents will come and go by 2091?  Probably 20 (assuming some might only be there four years).

How many employees in the State Department section that reviews the messages will come and go?  I might assume there are four people working in this section, and that most will ask to be transferred after six months there.....so statistically....around 600 to 1,000 people will have worked on this national task.

Using this scale and guessing when we might be able to make a Mars mission?  It''ll be at least 350 years.

By 2091.....Lady GaGa will be long forgotten.  Contact football will have been made illegal in six states.  The Detroit Lions will have won two NFL championships (to date, not a single one).  Cuba will have gone capitalist, then undergone another revolution to return to communist, and then undergone another revision back to capitalist.  The TV show Baywatch will have been remade six times.  And Hillary Clinton will be long dead....as they deliver the complete report.

I'm guessing the judge in this episode is a bit peeved and might just ask them to hand the documents in raw format over to him and he'll assign his people to read them and categorize them.

At some point in my life....I went off on 17 days of leave and came back to find around 380 emails in my mailbox.  It took around 90 minutes for me to clear 380 emails down to 20 emails that required attention or a response.   I'm not really buying into the 2091 year response.

Monday, 6 June 2016

An Idea For the History Channel

For the past decade, off and on.....I've been ranting and whining about the History Channel showing mostly fake shows (fake lumberjack, fake gold-prospecting, fake Amish-mafia, fake-etc).

So, I've come to new and nifty idea for a History Channel show.....fake farming.

It'll revolve around four fake farms out in some rural area, where fake and epic problems and daily chaos roam.

Farm 1: Walter, Patty, and their son Eugene.  Walter will have some $15,000 bull that he bought, not realizing that it's killed the past two owners who had the bull.  Patty will evidentally be having an affair on the side with the UPS guy and the local minister.  Eugene will be some wiz kid who is continually making home-made dynamite and setting video-cam action from the barn roof.  Occasionally a county Ag agent will stop by to give sixty minutes on farming but no one knows that the guy has just a Baptist College degree and is mostly reading out of a 1926 farm text book.

Farm 2: Kitty, Wanda (Kitty's lesbian GF), Percey and Daryl (the ladies each have a son), and each kid is known for engineering feats (they built a 600 ft grain silo with money that grandma gave them).  Kitty knows enough about farming to put on a 3x5 card.  Wanda grows marijuana and keeps this a secret from Wanda and the sons.

Farm 3: Curtis, Tippy, and their three sons.  Curtis spent seven years at some agricultural college (never graduating) and can talk for hours and hours about the science of farming.  Tippy gets by with four hours a sleep per day, and is in some act of farming for the remaining 20 hours.

I honestly don't know where the History Channel went off-track and doomed the entire idea of telling history with a bunch of fake shows.  But at this point.....maybe a fake farming show would make perfect sense.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

The Alabama Refugee Story

If you live in Alabama (where I grew up).....this week, it got brought up by US Senator Richard Shelby and the Governor (Bentley).....that unaccompanied illegal immigrant minors probably will be sent to the state as a temporary residence.

Both gentlemen said they'd fight this (they didn't say how and it invites the question of legal action).

This all revolves around a short document by the Office of Refugee Resettlement at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Where are the kids from?  Mexico?  Well....NO.

These presently are kids from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

All of this talk is mostly centered around Orange Beach in Baldwin County.  Now, it's an odd place because it's prime beach front lots....tourist hangouts.....drinking pubs....etc.

I sat and pondered over this.  You'd basically go and create some kind of dorm environment for underage kids.  How young?  The government is never clear about it.  I went back and read a bit on this.  Back in 2014.....some research group had noted reports of more refugee kids showing up....under the age of 12.  This isn't spelled out in real numbers.

You'd have to find the right type of rental property, and then go and find people to manage the kids....who happen to speak Spanish and want to be a house-manager of a dozen-odd kids times whatever number that actively want to put into the community.  It might be twenty.....it might be fifty.....it might be a hundred.  The Feds are careful not to say anything much.

Are the kids really underage?  Well, this brings in the other big issue....most of them arrive with no ID or paperwork, so they claim they are 13-years old.....when they might be 17-years old.  This puts the fed guys in the position of having to care for them....for at least five years.

The school environment?  Well, that's another little matter because most schools in the state aren't really hyped up on teaching English as a second language.

All of this adds up to cost, which comes out of some tax pocket.

But it brings up this wonderful scenario.  You might be some Gadsen kid....13 years old....and fed up with your step-dad or the attitude of your parents.  You sit down and learn sixty Spanish words, and buy a one-way ticket to Texas, where you hook up with some Honduras kids and get rounded up by the Feds.  Without any ID.....you confess your name as "Juan" and you lived your entire life in El Salvador.  You learned some English there and would rather communicate with the idiot fed guys that way.

So they take you off to some Alabama teen home deal for Latinos (under-aged) and you grow up for the next five years with some other Juans....pretending to be a runaway.

I know....it's pretty stupid, but it's the practical method of running some government operation without any real oversight.

Two hundred years ago.....no one from the thirteen original states sat there and could imagine some scenario where the DC crowd would push or direct people into your state, or dump a hundred foreign kids off.   So, here we are today....trying to imagine how this would all work.

The bigger issue?  Each of these kids will go social-media and report back to Honduras on the fine deal given to them, and by October.....there'll probably be another 10,000 kids....age 10 to age 16....walking up to Texas.

The Day I Left Timex

I have advanced to watch #12 in life, and changed one of my ten basic rules of life.

Around age nine, I got my first watch....a Timex from K-Mart as some birthday present.  It lasted around a year with the crystal broke in some farm-related incident.

By the end of high school, I had come to watch number three (it was also a Timex).  Watch number two also met an unfortunate end via a farm incident.

Watch number three actually lasted through to the end of 1981, when it just stopped ticking.

From 1981 to around 1990....I went through two watches....both Timex products....and I doubt if I ever paid more than $30 for each.

In 1990, I finally went to the Timex Ironman series (the same that Bill Clinton's daughter bought him for a Xmas gift).  The BX sold it to me for around $35.  Oddly, at least functionally.....this watch actually lasted for twenty-five years.  I didn't regularly wear it after 1998 but it was one of those watches that simply needed a new battery every three years and was absolutely dependable.  It's just that I got tired of the 'look', and dumped upon retirement from the Air Force.

By 2010, I had advanced to watch #10 (a Diesel)....the first time that I went outside of the Timex trend.  I actually paid almost $60 for the Diesel.  It lasted two years, and just quit working one day (unrelated to the battery).

I advanced to watch #11, a cheapo Timex from the BX, which ran for about $40.  This past month, I noticed that the two-year old watch no longer had an operating day-dial on it.  While it still keeps time and was 'almost' functional.....I decided to advance onto watch #12.

I came to this life decision....to go out and spend a fair amount of money ($200) and buy a real watch (a Seiko).  It's a violation of my cheap watch policy in life and I'll probably regret it. The thing is.....after many years of observation....Timex products have a life-span and a limited ability to handle day-to-day issues.  It's taken over four decades for me to realize that a better quality of watch might mean a longer lasting watch.

Friday, 3 June 2016

The Thing About Frustrations

At the youthful age of eighteen and leaving the farm.....I probably had a pretty high threshold on things frustrating me.  There really wasn't much at boot-camp that got me frustrated.  Getting up at 5AM wasn't a bad deal.  The breakfast offered was acceptable.  The heat was bad but I'd grown up in Alabama.  The humidity was miserable, but acceptable.

Somewhere along age twenty, I'd say I probably had three frustrations that might occur.  I didn't have much patience for a room-mate who might arrive back at the room at 3AM and want to describe his evening in Frankfurt.  I didn't have much patience with cleaning up a barracks area on a Monday after a big weekend party.  And I didn't have much patience for Air Force safety movies which we had to watch every three or four months at some commander's call.

By age twenty-five, I'd added twenty-odd frustrations to the list.  I hated to work with tar.  I was often frustrated with Louisiana heat in a almost non-air-conditioned barracks.  I was frustrated with marginal instructors that the Louisiana Tech University folks brought out for our evening classes.  I was frustrated with spring storms that dumped three inches of water in an hour.  I was frustrated with a small Chrysler car that I really should have done more research upon.

By age thirty-five....my frustrations list had gotten up to around 150 things.  Sitting in a cramped seat for eight hours to cross the Atlantic was easily near the top.  Having some dimwit Air Force doctor ask me for the 99th time if I smoked was getting on my nerves (no, I never smoked).  Standing there at the Air Force dentist office and having them give me a blood pressure check....just got me more upset because I hated going to the dentist.  And being at some American party or function where crappy American-made beer was the only beer offered....really got me going.

By 2010, and moving to Arlington.....I came to add another fifty or sixty frustrations  to my list.  Really bad incompetency by government employees always got me going.  Listening to some idiot government guy explain a 44-page regulation which never made sense.....got me going..  Having a security guy ask me for a full-detailed listing of what I did on some two-week vacation to Germany.....was another frustrating thing.

Today.....I probably have around 1,500 items on my frustration list.  Being in Germany....I have some fortunate luck in that Germans have a way of doing things, and repeat this successful process over and over.  I can be assured that the bus will run on time....that the coffee at the bakery is four-star coffee....and that there is no funny music at the train station that gets on your nerves.   But the 1,500 frustrations still remain there.

Yes, I really can't stand eating Asian food....it's just too greasy for me.  Yes, I do hate most hard liquors without a cube of ice in the glass.  Yes, I can't stand flights that take more than four hours.  Yes, I do hate fraudulent reporters who pretend they are telling an accurate story when I can tell it's slanted.  Yes, I do dislike eating at McDonalds and Burger King because the quality of burger has slipped 100-percent over the past twenty years.  Yes, I do have frustrations over driving a car into a crowded parking garage.  Yes, I do have frustrations with anyone who is pumping up 500-percent on their religion or enthusiasm for it.  Yes, I do have frustration of sitting there and watching a Larry King interview, or listening to a Rush Limbaugh show.  Yes, I do hate walking into a toilet stall and finding there's no toilet paper left there.  Yes, I do hate eating at a restaurant where the salad is served and it's salad sauce in a plastic bottle handed to you to dab upon the salad.

This week, I kinda added another frustration.....I really can't sit for three minutes and listen to some idiot explain the Zoo-shooting episode over that silver-haired guerrilla.  I'm sorry for the guerrilla but on some scale of significance....it's like a three on a scale of one to a hundred.  Maybe if some guy had jumped down into the pit and stood between the shooter and the guerrilla....trying to take a round for the guerrilla, or the some old lady had pulled out six bananas and just started luring the guerrilla away from the kid.....maybe it'd be worth telling the story for the 112th time.

I'm getting older and less patient with people and society.  It does make me wonder how I'll be in twenty-odd years.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

The Armageddon Era

Armageddon is defined as some 'battle-of-all-battles' which results in the end-times, and causes you to possibly miss work, cease your day, or perhaps have a whole case of beer tonight after finishing up supper.

Depending on your choice of news networks or internet reading options....on a daily basis now, you get some healthy dose of Armageddon on a daily basis.

There's seventy people shot in Chicago over the weekend, and it shouldn't really matter to you because you live almost 1,200 miles away.  But you get some two-minute update on this and hear mothers weep over constant shooting....but you sit there and just why some idiot would continue to live in a city like this.

Or you have some group of whales who beached themselves on some island in the Pacific, and you get three minutes of news over what happened and the reaction of some sixty-year-old tourist who happened upon the event.

Or you get a four-minute video piece from Greece on a refugee family who are stuck because they closed the border....so they can't sneak up through four countries into Germany now.

Armageddon stories get told over and over each night.  The newspapers carry them regularly now....as do the weekly news magazines.

Tomorrow morning, you will get up....put on your boots....get some house or farm chores done....shower and go off to work.  For some reason, you've conditioned yourself to just forget the Armageddon stories from last night, and just start fresh today.  The fact is....you've come to treat such stories as pure entertainment now.

Kids are now conditioned this way.  Ministers might use some of the news themes for their weekly sermon but they know that in a week....no one will remember this shooting from 1,500 miles away or this terrible Armageddon-event from Africa.  Grandma will hype some Armageddon episode from six months ago while chatting with folks at Wal-Mart but it's just one of six stories that she tends to repeat for conversation purposes....over and over and over.

One might question how we conditioned ourselves, or if we just seem amused by Armageddon now.  For the news folks?  I'm not sure they even care....they need an audience and this is the best way to get people to watch their shows.  Lets face it....if this were a six-minute news piece on dandruff, or dog food, or the best way to change tires.....well, we probably wouldn't watch it.

Just something to think about.