Saturday, 30 March 2019

Statue Admiring

About five years ago, I made this ten-day trip to Athens, Greece. 

One day while out walking, I came around this corner, and here was this artsy sales shop on the street, where 'merchandise' was laid out. 

I spent around three minutes standing there and admiring 'booby' lady and the water-fountain appearance. 

In Alabama, we would have put something like this near the barn and offered up this for horses and cattle to sip from, while standing there after sweating through a trailer-load of handling hay. 

I didn't have a chance to ask the Greek guy about the cost factor....it was probably at least a thousand dollars.  He probably sold a dozen of them yearly.  Greek guys have time to sip coffee and stand there to admire things like this....daily.  It's probably a good thing that you can't buy things like this in the US. 

Thursday, 28 March 2019

'Collusion' Story

Somewhere between 2000 and 2005, while I worked as a contractor for the Air Force in Germany, we came to have this new four-star Air Force general arrive.  In a matter of days (not even weeks), this guy had created a turbulent atmosphere with massive chaos and people began to question his sanity.  Somewhere in his 'we need to do this' orders....was the creation of various fake-programs, which all revolved around the use of the word 'combat'. 

There were programs for health care, the chapel folks, keeping the base clean, etc.  Each program was addressed as 'Combat X' or 'Combat Y'. 

At some point, he insisted that commercials needed to be developed to inform the public on bases about these programs.  The reaction was....a lot of Army folks watched the AFN (Armed Forces Network) as well. 

As they began to watch the 'Combat X' commercials (usually 30 to 60 seconds), they eventually started laughing.  In Army-bluntness.....the Air Force folks didn't know what combat was, and invoking combat on base cleanliness was a joke.

So I had to go one day over to Mannheim to visit a small AF office there and ended up in a conversation with two Army guys, and a AF NCO.  This 'combat' commercial thing came up.

The Army guys explained that a new drinking game had been created in the Army dorms.  In a TV room.....the young Army guys would come in and sit down on a Saturday evening with a bottle and a shot-glass.  A challenge would be mounted in the TV room to the group (usually five to ten), and each time that a Air Force 'Combat X' commercial came on....with the word 'combat' uttered....they had to do a shot. 

On normal work-day evenings, it wasn't that bad....maybe the word 'combat' got uttered just ten times.  But on a Thanksgiving weekend, with football games on and the necessity for AFN to fill commercial time, you might have the word 'combat' uttered 40 times in one evening (over 4 hours).  You'd walk into a TV at 11 PM and find six guys passed out, on the 'combat' challenge.

I've been watching this news media business over the past couple of months, with CNN's constant round-the-clock Trump coverage, where his name is uttered forty times in an hour, and collusion is uttered at least twenty times per hour. 

I'm beginning to wonder when college kids will go to a drinking game with CNN, where 'collusion' is the key word for a shot, or the word 'Trump', and you find some kid passed out about thirty minutes into the prime-time newscast. 

The question is.....if the kid passed out at the half-way point of the show, does he count as a full-up viewer, for national statistics.

And for the record, within 24 hours after the 'Combat X' general left his job....the commercials stopped.  I imagine it was hard for the Army guys to recover in this period, and while at some rehab episode....they had to explain how they stupidly got into this shot-game.     

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Talking Over News

My brother brought this topic up....Tom Brokaw and the biased nature of news, and it deserves a bit of pondering and consideration.

As a kid growing up in rural Alabama in 1975, my sources for news was limited to roughly fourteen things: (1) CBS, (2) NBC, (3) ABC, (4) the AP folks via local radio, (5) two regional newspapers (Florence, Birmingham), (6) the Nashville paper, (7) Grit, (8) some farm newspaper that my dad subscribed to, (9) Paul Harvey news and commentary (more commentary than news itself), (10) Time magazine, (11) copies of National Geographic that a relative would drop off, (12) Argosy magazine (ending in 1978), (13) PBS with a weekly political chat show (I might have watched that once a year), and finally (14) US News and World Report (what my grandfather often quoted out of for political dialog and everything you needed to know and could read in sixty minutes). 

At some later point (after I'd left home), my dad added some Mennonite paper (mostly lacking news but giving you good advice on weather predictions for the fall, baking recipes, wagon accidents, and travels of various Mennonites). 

Today?  There's probably over 300 sources of daily news that I read through on a daily basis.  Some based out of the UK, and Germany.  I'll even occasionally watch RT (the Putin network), and catch an hour per week of France-24 (in English). 

The blunt truth is that there are now at least ten different variations on just about every single story.  Some folks will tell you a 40-line story, which has only three simple facts built into it.  CNN can spend an entire hour with four experts telling you about Russian collusion, as if it was a wild bear in your basement and about to get through the basement door (any minute now).

Some folks (well, maybe not my brother) can name all members of the Kardashian family, and give you a four-line description on their status for this week. 

Some of the networks will bring on various Senators for a Sunday chat, and do their best to let the marginally intelligent guy get by with answers that don't seem to say much. 

All of this just makes me wonder....have we turned the news into entertainment? 

Explaining 'Smolletocracy'

Smolletocracy: this is where you (a dysfunctional society) exist with a corrupted authority, fake politics, and fraudulent legal system. 

It's where you wake up each day....whining over your place in life and live in a fraudulent manner, or having hour-by-hour hoaxes dreamed up.....to continue your fake lifestyle.

Monday, 25 March 2019

My Idea for a Fake Reality Show

I am an admirer of Amish Mafia.  Yes, I admit it. 

I can sit for an entire hour, and listen to Caleb and Levi talk over fake mafia business within the Amish community.  Slutty behavior by Ester?  Yep, it's all great entertainment. 

So here's my new idea for a fake reality show.  It's called Russian Collusion.

What you do is have six to eight comedians dressed up as Russians....either as KGB guys, billionaires, Russian mafia, or Russian generals. 

Then you have twenty-five different Americans who portray Republicans, Democrats, news journalists, social media types, etc. 

For each hour of the show, you feature these meetings where collusion is supposed to take place, but often hampered by incompetent FBI agents, DEA fake agents, limo drivers, gospel singers, Stormy-type women, Hollywood producers, circus clowns, Texas ministers, etc. 

As each episode concludes, you have a guy in the background stand and ask.....now, was this collusion, and if so....who should be tried on charges?  Along about episode three, you introduce Chinese, Canadian, Cuban, and French Collusionists. 

Eventually, you even start to bring in Amish Colusionists, and ask if what they are doing....is really collusion. 

Pulitzer Story

The comical side of this whole Mueller report?

Well....it's not really remembered by many, but back in April of 2018....the New York Times and Washington Post both won Pulitzer Prizes.  The reason?  Well....Russian collusion. 

The Pulitzer folks?  As best as one can figure, they wiped tears from their eyes over all the fine material that the Times and WaPo folks wrote, and just wanted everyone to know of such fine journalism.

So roughly a year passed, and what we can say today....there was no Russian collusion.  All that hype by the WaPo and Times?  Just a lot of speculation over nothing. 

Embarrassing?  Yes....it ought to be fairly embarrassing to the Pulitzer folks.  Will they admit it?  No. 

So this brings me around to the whole journalism business, and if it's all faked-up, biased, or fraudulent.  For two years, CNN has probably run at least 300 hours of prime-time chatter on Russian collusion.  All of that effort...sometimes involving thousands of man-hours to set up the video, and the experts to chat on Russian collusion....led to what?  A fake story-line? 

Something is wrong here, but I doubt if we really want to discuss this in public. 

Van Gogh Story

So this year, in the midst of a harsh winter period, I got bored and ordered up what you'd call an adult-paint-by-the-numbers 'kit'....Van Gogh's Starry Night.

My original thought was I'd work on this an hour each day and it'd be finished up in two to three weeks. 

The original piece by Van Gogh?  Most folks 'think' (there is no factual evidence)....that he did this in two days flat (figure six to eight hours per day).

So this project went on for probably four months.  Yes, it was a bit more than what I anticipated. 

How Van Gogh did this in two days flat?  I've come to question this.  Personally, with the wavy structure, thirty-six different colors, and pencil-lead markings....the guy had to be a nutcase or doped up on some good drugs.

At the conclusion of this, I kinda admired it but admit that for any future winter period.....bird-houses or dog-houses would be a much better project.  If you do have some retired husband, that you need to keep busy....the adult Van Gogh paintings (with the 36 colors) are the best way to go. 

Joe, the Candidate?

The Emerson polling folks went up to Iowa and talked around with locals.  The Iowa view of Democrats for President?

Joe Biden comes out on top with 25 percent.  He's followed closed by Sanders with 24 percent.

Harris?  Way back at 10 percent, and Warren at the end with 9 percent.

It's really shaping up to a two-man race (if Biden enters, which is still a big question). 

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Getting Rid of the Electoral College

Over the past twelve months, this topic has picked up a lot of steam and is regularly discussed via social media and the news networks.  So it's worth going back to the 1760s to discuss why it became so important.

The US population, in this period of 1776, was the size of San Diego county, California of today.  Roughly 2-to-2.2 million residents.  Around 75-percent were white, and a quarter were slaves.

Two of the US states were considered 'dominating' in terms of population (votes).....Virginia with around 600,000 and Pennsylvania with 400,000.  From the remaining 11 states (in the beginning), South Carolina (200,000), North Carolina (350,000), New York (300,000), Maryland (280,000), Massachusetts (340,000), and Connecticut (200,000) were considered 'semi-dominating'.  The rest were all less than 200,000.  In particular, Delaware stood barely at 50,000.

The effect of the roughly 500,000 slaves that existed in 1776?  They had to be counted as part of the Census, but debate led to a number being invented out of thin air (the three-fifth's rule).  This rule hindered Virginia, South Carolina and North Carolina in terms of their population domination.  Add to the 'gimmick' that they couldn't vote, but they could represent taxation and Census numbers.

So from the very beginning, there was fair in the smaller states (Delaware, Georgia, and Rhode Island for example) that their vote didn't matter much against the big states of South Carolina, Virginia and Pennsylvania.  They also saw population gains likely over the next three or four decades.  Smaller states and the ones further north....weren't going to be the 'gainers'.

The Electoral College was a creation to ensure some method of fairness to lesser populated states.  It didn't matter if you had 100-percent of the votes from Virginia and North Carolina going to George Washington for President.  Once you got to 51-percent, you got the max number of votes (based on your population distribution 'number'), and that was the 'win'.

If you dumped the situation today?  I would offer these observations:

1.  There's no real need to run a state by state primary....spread out over five months.  You might as well run a one-month primary with six to fifteen states each week having a primary.  Two weeks after that, run your convention, and then a hundred days after that....have the national election.  Using this scheme, since we'd be dumping the Electoral College, you might as well flip the date of the inauguration and the election day as well.  Set the election day to early August, and the inauguration 30 days later.

2.  The no Electoral College landscape?  You would basically cross off fifteen states with marginal population or limited urbanization (Alaska, Idaho, Wyoming, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Montana, etc).  I would advertise to some degree, but I wouldn't show up and campaign in any of these.

3.  I would concentrate all my funding and show-up time....mostly in NY City, central California, the entire state of Florida, Dallas/Austin/Houston, Chicago, Atlanta, Portland, Philly/Pittsburgh, Boston, Seattle, Tucson/Phoenix, Denver, the entire state of North Carolina, Charleston, and probably Nashville.  Cities like Reno or Mobile, or Dayton?  They wouldn't matter.

4.  You would notice after two of these non-Electoral College elections, that people in rural areas or no-show regions....would begin to lose interest and not show up to vote (not just for President, but for Governor, Congressmen, Senators, or even local city council folks).

5.  In the space of twenty years, you'd come to realize that only around one-quarter of the population are actively involved in voting.  Some Senators would be arriving in DC, who received only fifty-percent of the normal 'win-vote' that occurred during the Electoral College-era.

All of this chatter, if you haven't figured this out....requires a change to the Constitution.  Your two methods?  Two-thirds of both the House and Senate would propose and pass the change.  Or you'd have two-thirds of the states to propose the change.  The likelihood of either happening?  ZERO.  That's the comical side of this.  As much as intellectuals, journalists and Democrats talk about this scenario, they can't reach either method to change the Constitution.  It's just 'chatter'.

Should we modify the system?  I would propose three alternate changes:

1.  Cut loose the state by state voting, and distribute the Electoral College vote to each district.  There are 435 districts across the nation.  This forces the candidates to look upon each district as mattering.

2.  There are 3,142 counties in the US.  Let each have one single Electoral Vote, and force the candidates to view the bigger picture of individual counties.  This would mean that 3,142 Electoral Votes would be necessary.

3.  Rewrite the voting age to 21.  No one has shown any data to say that 18 is a level of maturity.  In fact, we've written enough of the booze laws....to suggest that they aren't mature enough to drink.

All of this wasted chatter?  Yes, that's the amusing thing to this discussion.  We aren't about to dump the Electoral College.  Face it.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Pondering Upon Higher Education

It's a story which rarely ever gets dragged out, but in the late 1990s....the US Army had this odd event come up where they realized that numerous individuals had gotten hired as GS workers, to jobs which demanded bachelor degrees. 

So various individuals had figured out the short-cut....fake degrees.  The Army had to go and review each requirement, the person filling it, and then eyeball the university in question.  Various individuals were brought in, and basically told they were unqualified, and 'let go'.

I bring this up because this new event going on, with various kids who had someone take their SAT tests, got the easy-going professors, and lounged/drank their way through college....are legit graduates but really unqualified for any type of work that is attached to the degree itself.

At some point, some HR group in a fortune 500 company will start to devise a test that you have to take....if you are a new guy coming out of college, and you have to answer 50 questions out of a hundred in your degree area.  Suddenly, you will have thousands of positions vacant because the graduates are unable to comprehend or pass the stupid test (even to get a 50 out of a 100). 

In some ways, this whole thing has opened up a Pandora's Box, and you have to ask the question....if you paid $100,000 for a stupid four-year trip to some Disneyland-like university, and didn't really learn anything.....why pay back to the debt to the government for the stupid loan?

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

What is Wokeness?

Prior to 2010, I don't think I'd ever heard of the word.  Somewhere around 2014, it started to show in columns or commentary of people....usually charged up on political objectives or 'revolution'.

So the basic meaning of this....you were going down some path in your life, with various perceptions, wisdom, and beliefs guiding you, then one day....you 'woke up'.  The path is no longer valid, or walkable.  You challenge yourself continually about what you see on TV, hear from politicians or journalists, and are in a continual state of either denial or disbelief.

Some folks will use the expression that you were deprogrammed, and now have a clear understanding of things.  Other folks will say that you've been RE-programmed, and now have a misunderstood thinking process of things.  Complicated?  Yes.

So, could you have a woken-wokeness?  That's where you suddenly realize that this whole perception you gained over the past year or two....is basically bogus, and you were fed a big long piece of BS?  Well....yeah. 

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Russia: Social Media and Fake News

Yesterday, Russia's Putin signed a law into effect concerning fake news.  You might want to browse through the wording and effect:

1.  The Attorney General of Russia (and his deputies) can on their own (without a judge) decide what is fake news and what is not fake news. 

2.  After this group makes their decision, the Russia media control agency (Roskomnadzor) would be given the responsibility of blocking the news, or the site.

3.  If you did publish a fake news item?  The fine is 100,000 Rubles, roughly $1,525, if you were just a regular citizen.  If you were a public figure....double that fine.  And if you were a company (HuffPost or Twitter for example), then it's 500,000 Rubles.

4.  A news site that comes to exist without being registered with Roskomnadzor?  They'd just be immediately blocked, without any warning.

5.  Then we get to the juicy part of the law.....insulting anyone, government offices themselves, the flag, or even the Constitution itself.  Fines and two weeks in jail would be the extent of your trouble.

The odds of Twitter or Facebook being a major factor in Russian elections?  I would suggest that both will likely be shutdown for various periods of time in Russia. 

How To Fix Twitter, Facebook and the Rest

People are convinced that social media is harming the general public.....so my suggestion is this, for each tweet or Facebook comment....charge the guy $3.99, and responses to that guy's original tweet/comment....$1.99.

After a month or two, everyone would start to calm down....lessen their tweets, and calm would be restored. 

Yes, Facebook and Twitter would likely go out of business in a year or two....but that's simply the path of this whole mess. 

Monday, 18 March 2019

The Fakeness of College

Someone made a public statement today.....over the topic of 'faking your way through college'.  It was a curious topic to ponder upon.

Prior to the 1980s, I think faking had some potential but most classes had enough demands and adult leadership....so that the system worked the way that it was designed.

Part of this faking-talk goes to the 1980s/1990s 'agenda' where high schools more or less....dumbed down the structure.  The system began to escalate the potential for a 'C' average student to start getting B's instead.  Kids began to show up at colleges and they simply didn't have the skill to handle courses, so along the end of the first semester, or second semester.....they quit.  This statistic started to become part of a university's record....the dropout rate.

The University of Charleston for example.....only 18-percent of freshmen will be there at the end of the 4th year....graduating.

Southeastern University in Florida for example.....has only 39-percent of the freshmen finishing a degree in four years.

I worked with a guy in Arlington, VA who had a son who'd been accepted at a prominent Virginia college.  There was one issue.....they (the school) demanded that the kid take a math and English placement test.  The kid did a dismal score.  So they said....go ahead and enter college, but two of the five classes for the first semester would have to be high school remedial math and English courses.  Yes, the father was basically paying around $1,500 for two courses.....which should not have been necessary.  The school even demanded that the kid retake the placement test at the end of that, and if he hadn't advanced to the level expected.....he'd retake them yet again.  This guy went down and had a conversation with the college 'chiefs', and they made it simple.....they were sick and tired of kids arriving who were not prepared for college.

No one is counting up on the kids who drop out, nor is it some type of national emergency.  Colleges playing along and dragging the 'slackers' onto the 2nd, 3rd and 4th year?  Well....if you had 20-percent drop out at the end of the first year....you need to have a mechanism carry the remaining folks on.  So you build up a slacker-approach, and at the conclusion of four years....out a hundred kids graduating....there's probably a quarter of them who really aren't capable of performing at the level required. 

If you went to a university on some sports scholarship?  It's probably a 50-percent chance that you can't handle the level required. 

The sad thing here.....not only were you a slacker in college and collected a fake degree, but you spent $100,000 to get there, and there's a debt situation for the next twenty years for your slacker-degree. 

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Russian Collusion in 2020?

If you haven't figured it out...just about every news group, social media team, and fake-news agenda will be pushing Russian collusion in 2020.

So why let the gimmick ruin the election?

My suggestion to go and hire up a Russian ZIL 1986 115-model limousine.   Then find a couple of comedians for three weeks to tour America. 

'Comrad Zippy' will be KGB-like secret agent, who mostly talks about the secret agenda, but it's never clear what the agenda might be. 

'Secret Agent Anne' will be a slutty KGB-type gal who mostly just looks at the camera, and does poses.

'Comrad General Vilsely' will be some general with 88 different medals on his chest, and autographed photos of himself being handed out.  He will usually be talking about the fake news of CNN. 

'Comrad Anton' will be some Russian farmer, who is continually amazed how wonderful America is, and always seen wearing Make America Great Again hats.

Our dynamic four would be touring America and continually getting into trouble....mostly with honest intentions.  At the end, a public call from Putin would occur, with the team recalled, and all collusion ended. 

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Voting Story

The Pew research folks went out and surveyed the public, and then came to a study conclusion....ninety-percent of folks are hard-wired into their political persuasion, and only ten-percent are 'flippers'....meaning they could vote differently in every single election.

After an extensive amount of travel, and time spent in Europe....I tend to have a differing opinion.

I think up until the 1960s/1970s, you had people who were mostly hard-wired to their vote.  The Grandparents were Democrats....so were Mom and Dad, so the kid voted the same way.

In the 1980s, I think both the Democrats and Republicans went to some theme of identity-politics.  That meant that agendas were varied, and it made hard-wiring more difficult.

A great example would be looking at Alabama politics in the 1950s/1960s....to see mostly Democratic voters.  At some point in the 1970s to the 1980s, around 30-to-40 percent of the voters began to flip, and identified themselves more as Republicans.  Part of this was the Reagan appeal, and part of it went to religious agendas that identified more to the GOP message than the Democratic message.  Right now today, you can say that more than two-thirds of the state identify to the GOP theme.  Moore may have lost his Senate election more on incompetence than his GOP-anchored stance.

So I'll offer five observations:

1.  I suspect that five to eight percent of the population have never voted, and will never vote.  There are varying reasons for this, but trying to appeal to them is a wasted effort.  This group might also include people who've spent $120,000 for a college education, and find themselves still deep into debt at age 45.

2.  There's probably 50-percent of the population who are hard-wired to absolutely vote along a line.  It wouldn't matter if Trump slept with sixty different Stormy-bimbos....this hard-wired guy would still stick with him.  And the same is true for folks obsessed with Obama....even if he'd admitted that he smoked over 3,000 joints in his life.

3.  I think around five-percent of Americans are unable to pick any candidate, and will mostly wait till twelve hours prior to election day, to flip a coin.  They frankly don't care, and it's way more complicated for them to decide upon something (like picking the color of their new car, or if they should spend $12 extra for a luxury hotel room versus the regular-super-duper room).

4.  Trump revamped the agenda process, and some of these folks now are drawn to a reality political figure.  If you could find a ex-Mennonite-turned-magician-turned-cajun fry cook, you'd likely latch onto that guy as the next Trump.

5.  Pew's research goes to a certain point.  You could have some candidate lined up with a 95-percent chance of winning on election day, then find out that the statistics really weren't looking at the whole landscape, and it was a 95-percent chance of that candidate losing.

Friday, 15 March 2019

App Story

While it's not front-page news, you might have noticed this week that Facebook had two top executives leave (the chief products officer, and the WhatsApp chief).  A big deal?  Well, it's an indicator of direction.

A fair number of folks believe that Facebook has finally hit some peak, and it's now suffering from declining numbers.

If you go around Germany for example....WhatsApp is probably more acceptable by the general public, than Facebook itself. 

The original promise by the WhatsApp folks....that they'd never label advertisements across their App?  Well....Facebook fully intends to bring advertisements to the App (probably occurring before the end of 2019)

What I suspect will happen over 2019?  Someone (outside of Facebook) will go and make a new App very similar in range to WhatsApp.....with no advertising, for a download cost of 1-dollar, and maybe fifty cents per year to have the service.  At that point, the new guy will take up the frustrated folks with WhatsApp, and Facebook will be standing there, with a boat-anchor-App that has no public appeal.  These two executives quitting, probably told Zuckerberg that and he just couldn't accept the demise of WhatsApp. 

Youth Vote Story

It came up this week with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal) who talked up this idea for bringing the voting age down to sixteen years old. 

The odds of this happening?  Federally.....zero chance.  In the California state election?  I might predict within four years that it'll be written into the state constitution.  There might be five or six states that go this way over the next decade.

My general view, if you qualified the sixteen-year-old to vote, then why not allow them the chance to buy cigarettes, beer, booze, rifles, etc?  Why not allow the sixteen-year-old to 'test-out' of high school and leave by the end of the 10th grade? 

Personally, I'd rather go the opposite direction and say adult status starts at age 21, limiting the voting situation a bit more.

But with all this chatter, and the odds of having 1.5-million teenage voters in a California election.....are you creating a nightmare somewhere down the line?  Imagine the scenario where some fake beach-bum character comes out of nowhere....registers himself to run for governor, and with this mass appeal to sixteen to twenty year-olds.....you end up with some Hollywood character as governor of the state.  For the over-forty crowd, it'd scare the crap out of them. 

So prepare for the introduction of youth voting and it's consequences.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

This University 'Chatter' From the Past Couple of Days

Back in my 2010 to 2013 period, while working at the Pentagon, I worked around with a guy who had two teenage sons, and lived in Maryland.  The oldest won was approaching this summer vacation period between the ninth and tenth grades, and had these great personal plans for the summer.

Somewhere around six weeks prior to the end of the ninth grade, the mother came into the picture with this long drawn-out schedule and 'goals'.  The intent?  By her plan, in order to get him into a prestigious college (an ivey league situation.....like Cornell or Vanderbilt for example)....he needed to have a rich and fulfilling 'resume'.

This couldn't be done in the last year....he needed things to score points upon now....as he transitioned into the tenth grade.

As I remember the five goals:

1.  A class in fencing (the kid knew nothing about the sport, and had zero interest).
2.  Some youth environmental week, with a group planting trees, and clearing streams of garbage.
3.  One afternoon a week in a art-appreciation group.
4.  Spending several days with some church-theme group helping senior citizens.
5.  Being an active participant in a neighborhood watch group (he had to walk the neighborhood at night with an adult).

In simple terms, the kid was fairly bitter.  He'd been forced to participate in a French class via the internet, and was supposed to begin French in the tenth-grade.

The problem was....the kid had no real drive to go off to this premium university.  I asked this guy about the cost factor, and apparently most of this was going to be covered via the wife's family (the grandparents), which this had to be in the $200,000 range for the kid.  Appreciation?  Even this guy questioned where this was going, and if the kid could be convinced to go and do all this extra stuff....to pump up his application in three years to the ivy league school deal.

So I look at how this bribe business worked with the colleges and how the parents paid off the right people, to get their kids (who might have been marginally acceptable to the standards) into the 'right school'.  In some cases, the parents even knew the kid couldn't get the right SAT scores, and they arranged for special people to take the test.  The added weight here is that there might be 10,000 adults who arranged bribes across the nation, to get their kids into various schools.

The ending?  It's hard to say where this will really end.  School sued?  Parents brought into court and sent off to 6-to-8 months of prison.  Kids tossed out of college for fraud?

The FTO Story

In the late 1990s, as part of the Clinton agenda, a list was drawn up by the State Department of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs).  Basically, at least how the Clinton folks wrote this up originally....you were to be a target and they'd bring up your name, your organization....then aim at the money-making part of the operation, bring global power (including economic) against you.

Right now today, there's around 60 organizations on the list, which you can view

Now, just because you get your name on the list.....doesn't mean that this is the bitter end.

The Abu Sayyaf Group, for example, has been on the list since 1997.  They still in some form, exist today.  The Real Irish Republican Army has been on the list since 2001, and to some degree....still exist today.

Once you get on the list, the CIA folks then start efforts to infiltrate, or buy info on your organization....with attempts to make it more difficult on them.

The Obama folks decided at some point.....to put various ISIS groups on the list, then bombed them via drones.  Effective or not.....it was meant to send a message.  If you rose to the top three to ten players of the group, your name got on a list, and your odds of dying went remarkably up.

So, we come to the Trump idea....put the Mexican and Latin American drug cartels on this list.  The State Department?  They are simply reviewing the idea, because.....lets be honest....no drug cartel has ever been on the list before.

Lets say they go to the list, and you end up with twelve cartels noted.  The list would then (I assume) include groups in Peru, Mexico, El Salvador, Columbia, and Venezuela.  They would list the top ten guys in each organization, their headquarters, and how they operate.

Then Trump would approach each country and let them know....he'll drone-kill each guy, unless that country takes down the cartel.  Well.....no one is going to dare arrest cartel chiefs. 

So around six months into this program, you start to hit cartel chiefs.  You have the US military then identifying routes of traffic.....flying drones over 'hub-centers'....gathering intelligence, and then hitting them.  Cocaine prices escalate (maybe 50-percent in one single week) in the US.  Distribution gangs in Baltimore and NY start to report shortages of cocaine.  Users are now getting antsy, and committing bigger crimes to afford the escalating prices.

At some point, an entire network of the cartel is taken down.  That drug distribution network in the US is then forced to react, and find new production cycles. 

The CIA would eventually get smart about where the money is, and start to find ways of siphoning off the money from banks.  The cartels would react, and kill bank officials....thinking they were behind the business.

Targeted US border guys?  US military starting to be targeted?  US governors being targeted?  All of this would lead to escalations.  The only way to really get ahead in this game....is to kill more of them....before they can rebuild or redevelop their strategy.  Once you achieved killing off an entire cartel, you'd have to emphasize that it doesn't end. 

But here's the odd factor in this game.  All of these distribution gangs carrying and marketing the drugs in the US?  You could charge them up real quick.....aiding and abetting a FTO.  Suddenly, a big player with the Baltimore El Salvadoran gangs....would be grabbed and sent for massive federal charges....fifty years in a max-security prison.  You'd go after his number two. In a matter of one single year.....you would have sent twenty of these guys up for helping an FTO situation.  You could even go and start construction on a new prison complex....in anticipation of hundreds to be convicted in the next five years.

Something that Bush or Obama might have done?  No, never in a thousand years. 

What If They Left

Over the weekend, a short story came out over Edelman Intelligence, a survey organization.

Basically.....they went out over California and asked the question.....would you like to leave the state?

It's a surprising number.....around 53 percent of folks said yes.....with the cost of living leading the reasons.

In the group of early 20s to late 30s.....it's closer to 63 percent who are thinking about leaving.

The Bay area?  It's like three people out of four.....are thinking about leaving.

What if people were to leave?  Well, that gets to an interesting point.  I could understand a guy reaching fifty-five, and just saying 'enough', and making the plan to retire in five years and put the property up for sale.  But what happens if you had 300,000 people in one single year from central California, who made this decision? 

Who would buy their property (figuring their house was worth $1-million in 2018)?  Would a large dump on property bring property values down?  Would this million-dollar house from 2018 still be worth that value (I seriously doubt it)? 

So that house might sit empty for a while, during a stage where 'Joe' and his wife moved to Arizona, and figure home prices will revert in two years.

If 'Joe' isn't around to spend money in the neighborhood....does the cash flow slow down?  No sales tax collected?  Lesser sales revenue? 

Impact upon group-think?  Yes.  There are 39.5-million residents of the state, and the potential of this exodus is significant. 

The Three Issues with Beto O'Rourke

Yesterday O'Rourke came out and announced his candidacy for President.  While he has youth.....reminds people of RFK....and is full of 'vigor'....I would suggest that he has three basic problems to overcome.

First, inside of Texas....probably 95-percent of the state's residents know the guy.  With the other 49 states, I would suggest that maybe one person out of ten might recognize his picture, and note that he ran for 'something' in Texas, and lost.  Beyond that, he's more or less unknown.  Course, in 2007, Obama was a unknown in 49 states, and overcame that.

Second, if you were at least leaning toward Trump.....putting your policy positions up on the wall, O'Rourke's positions don't match up with a single one of those.  So from the pro-Trump crowd, the Trump-lite voters, and the middle-ground people.....virtually no gain from them.

Third, if you lined up O'Rourke and Schultz (the independent runner)....on positions, there's a 95-percent match-up.  As long as Schultz is in the race, it hurts O'Rourke in the end, if he is the candidate.

A Bernie-Beto-Biden-Warren race?  Yes.  You can forget about Harris at this point, along with Booker.  Who would Hillary favor?  That might be the key question to ask.

Liveable City Story

There's a foundation which makes up a survey, and then notes the 'most liveable cities' in the world.  Various issues are given a rating to reach this group.

The chief winners?  1. Vienna 2. Zurich 3. Vancouver 4. Munich 5.Auckland 6. Duesseldorf, Germany 7. Frankfurt 8. Copenhagen 9. Geneva 10. Basel, Switzerland 11. Sydney 12. Amsterdam 13. Berlin 14. Bern, Switzerland 15. Wellington, New Zealand 16. Toronto 17. Melbourne, Australia 18. Luxembourg 19. Ottawa 20. Hamburg.

So you look at the list and quickly note....NONE of them are US cities.  In fact, it's amusing here....but the top US city was San Francisco (at 34).

I looked over these twenty cities mentioned.  It's funny, but I've actually been to 14 of the 20. 

In my mind, there are three key features to those fourteen cities that I've been to: (1) limited crime (I won't say zero, but cops make a serious effort to ensure public safety), (2) massive public transportation, and (3) a lot of public money put into landscaping.

How Frankfurt got on the list?  Frankfurt spent an entire decade renovating a key part of town (the 'old town' area), and it's become this magnet for tourists and intellectuals.  Toss in the riverfront, the subway system, low crime numbers, and the city is 'liveable'.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

College Story

I've spent probably 90 minutes reading over the various stories relating to this college scandal....involving the some ultra-rich folks....paying down cash bribes to get their kids into prominent schools under athletic programs and faked-out scholarships.  So this is my humble opinion.

Basically, if you went to one of these college (say USC), and you asked them to identify all sport scholarship athletic-participants.....the 'HR' guy for the college would say 1,588 kids.  You've got the basketball guys and gals (probably ten of each), the football crowd (probably forty of them), the baseball guy (probably sixteen of them), the ladies softball crew (probably twenty of them), and so on.

Eventually, you'd add up the group and realize that they only accounted for 1500 kids, and there 88 missing folks. 

Then you'd find these four kids on the water polo team, via a scholarship.....who apparently can't swim....so they've been barred from the team until they can swim.

Oh, then you have the four ladies on the track and field team who've never gone to a single competition and most of the real runners have never met the four in question.

Then you'd find these seven guys on the sword or fencing team.....who admit that they've never handled a sword in their life.

Fake athletic-participants?  Yeah.  The amusing thing here is that the system is so large (figure 25,000 kids at the USC)....that you'd never notice 88 fakers in the system. 

So what did the parents really figure out here?  First, if you got a marginal kid as a student in high school.....they'd never make it in a real college.  But with the fake football program that goes on.....you bring in lesser students via that door, and treat them as marginalized college students, with lesser expectations.  It makes sense for the millionaire guy to take this onto the next level. 

Here's the sad thing.....we might actually be pumping out 25,000 college graduates a year (football players included), who really can't produce in a real college format.  Fake degrees?  Yeah. 

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

You Might Be a Fascist

Probably ninety-nine percent of people aren't in any way or shape, or form....a fascist.  But in case you had some thought about yourself, and where you might have lost your way......here are ten ways to tell if you've become a fascist.

1.  You are driven to one central belief on priorities and politics in life, and you expect your kids, your spouse, your co-workers, your fellow church-members, and neighbors.....to believe in that stance.

2.  Disagreement isn't possible.  If you brought up the idea over politics, and you find yourself deep into this debate, and unwilling to compromise to the other guy's position....that you continue arguing, or you 'shun' the guy.

3.  Silencing or shunning people is the next step if you can't convert them to your agenda.  Silencing might be done via social media, or just telling people that you are nutty over your persuasion in life.  Silencing might even mean identifying your wife or kids....as the guilty party, and just avoiding them.

4.  Dissention and disunity will quickly draw your criticism and frustrations.  There's your goal, and there is only opposition in existence.

5.  You continually talk about the opposition as being facistist.  They are the dissenters, or the resistance crowd.  Among your peers, this conversation will occur a great deal of the time as you boast of the resistance being encountered and how you need to 'win'.

6.  Symbology matters.  A hoodie, a patch on your shoulder, a particular type of boot, a flag....all of these are symbols of the agenda. You always have some symbol in your surroundings.

7.  You seem to talk alot about freedom of speech, yet continually deny that right to anyone wanting to have a serious conversation on a topic near and dear to you.

8.  Capitalism always seem negative to you.  Yet for some odd reason, you don't really embrace the other side.  So your chatter is mostly that you want to fix or resolve capitalism.

9.  You seem to talk a lot about racism, hatred, greed, evil, etc.....but it's mostly for show purposes.

10.  Bringing change to resolve a problem is continually your theme.  But after some change has occurred, someone comes around to remind you that things were supposed to be better....but they don't see any improvement, and you just kinda grin at the guy.

How to Provide 'Free' College for a Number of People

First, I'm not a socialist and I don't believe in the expression....free college for all people.  But I would these five ways to build a 'free' path:

1.  Offer a 'test-out' path at the end of the 10th grade for high school kids to wrap up a certificate and leave high school.  It doesn't matter if only 10-to-15 percent of kids take it or not, or that only half of them would pass....just that you can subtract kids from the 11th and 12th grade, and lessen teachers.  You can conclude at the end of the 11th grade, probably 50-percent of kids would take the test, and half of them would wrap up high school.  The incentive here?  You offer one entire year at a local community college, as 'free' tuition. 

2.  Force four-year public colleges to provide a fiscal report over how many professors they have, versus staff-members.  Grade them.  Let the public know that there are 15 non-instructor staff members per each professor.  Most colleges would realize that they've made the staff direction more expensive, with no pay-back.

3.  Offer a federal government deal for a community college or trade-school deal....50-percent off the subsequent 2nd semester classes, if you get a 'A' or 'B' in the first semester. 

4.  Go and admit that useless degrees have no payback in life, and don't sponsor or provide any 'deals' for them.

5.  Flunking out across the board in the first semester?  Dump that kid entirely out of the program.  Don't waste time or money on them. 

The 'Truth' Over Trump and Daylight-Savings-Time (DST)

Yesterday, President Trump announced that DST ought to end, period.  Polls done from two years ago indicated that three out of four Americans want DST ended.  But there is one little qualifier in this desire.....they want the later sunset, so you'd lock into DST.....the March date, and then never revert back to the 'norm'.

(Sarcasm on) With President Trump now advocating this?  Well....it's a Russian conspiracy.  There's no doubt, Putin put him up to this, and it's built to destroy America.  Hopefully, through the use of congressional investigations, we can prove his connection to Putin on this, and how the ultimate plan to destroy DST.....would destroy America.  (Sarcasm off)

Yes, there are probably 300,000 Americans right now....with conspiracy thoughts in their mind and now resolved to fight any effort to dissolve DST.

It's almost comical that anyone would get that 'stupid' and think that DST is connected to the Russians, but that's how far we've come as a society in 2019. 

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Theatrical Show

Somewhere in the DC news for Friday, there's some one-line text where it's being forecasted (by the Democrats themselves)....that the House Democrats will be starting up an investigation into 'abuse of power' over the news media.

I sat there for five minutes looking for the story.  First, it didn't really come from an identifiable Democrat....just an anonymous Democrat. 

How will this committee meeting go?

Well, you'd have to invite in at least twenty journalists (mostly from CNN, WaPo, NY Times, NPR, etc).  Then the GOP dimwits would go and demand that Fox and Wall Street Journal writers need to come in as well.  Some folks will demand that journalists from newspapers in Montana and Boise need to come in.

Eventually, someone will realize that its mostly about journalists giving some talk which resembles 12-year old kids whining.  The odds that 70-percent of the public will consider this just a big theatrical show?  Yeah......that's where this would lead onto....six months prior to the primary period and campaign season. 

The worst possible action to show zero achievements for 2019, with a Democratic House. 

If you really wanted to impress voters....you would be out there and 'resolving' issues....not creating theatrical shows for television. 

How I'd Run Presidential Debates

First, no audience.

Second, just two individuals, and one single moderator.

Third, no news journalist as moderator.  He or she has to be some game-show host (like a Pat Sajack-character). 

Fourth, all questions would come from a public submission database, with a limit of 150 keystrokes.  This way, we don't have idiot spending two minutes asking a very in-depth and complex question.  The database would include a minimum of 12,000 questions, which would make it impossible for questions to be known ahead of time.

Fifth, camera angles can't be changed or flipped to some extreme close-up.  Three cameras set to each candidate.....and one single camera on the moderator.

Sixth, once the question is posed....the candidate would get three minutes to respond, and the second candidate would then get sixty seconds to go at the first guy. 

Seventh, you would start the debate no later than 7 PM local time, and end it 90 minutes later.

Eighth, no more than three of these debates.....all to come the final two weeks of the election period. 

Ninth, one single VP debate, to be held a week prior to the Presidential debates starting up.

Ten, and final.....no standing debates. 

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Bombshelling Me Out

Since November 2016, I've heard or read the word 'bombshell' used at least 3,000 times.  Frankly, I've reached the point that I'm all 'bombshelled-out'.

Folks that work at CNN, Huff-Post and NY Times?  There must be some journalistic guideline where you have to insert 'bombshell' into every single piece that you write or cover.

What'd She Mean?

".....I think she has a different experience in the use of words...."
-- Nancy Pelosi

In trying to explain Ilhan Omar's commentary, Nancy put out the quote.

It'd be like me saying 'I'm thirsty', and you believe that I meant that I need a beer awful bad.

Or, it could be me saying....'That dog sure is funny', and you interpreting it to mean that I'm talking about some guy's wife.

Or, it could be me saying....'I need some salt and pepper for my beans', and you interpreting it to mean that it's awful bland and taste marginal. 

Or, it could be my brother saying....'It might be sprinkling this afternoon', and me interpreting it to mean a possible tornado alert. 

Or, it could be Nancy Pelosi saying....'We need to pass this bill, to find out what's in it.'  Then I interpret it to mean that she's not read a single page of the bill, but doesn't worry if it's awful screwed up.

To be honest, if this is the path to democracy.....it's probably not the road that you'd prefer to take. 


Thursday, 7 March 2019

The Possibility of this House Investigation Being Just One Big Tax Audit?

Well....100-percent chance.

So you can sit and imagine hearing after hearing, for hours and hours upon the networks....talking about page 7 of the 2010 return, and why this information comes out this way, instead of that way.....with the tax accountant sitting there with people who think they know tax law, and it's apparent about four hours into this first day.....that the House 'expert' is not an expert on X, Y and Z.

So it continues the next day, and the next week.....by week six.....just about everyone has turned the whole thing off, and the reality starts to sink in.....the tax code was written by Senators and Congressmen, and it's 80,000-plus pages.....are no match for the talky-talk guy hired by the Democrats to get 'evidence'. 

Then some reality starts to sink in with the public.  All this evidence for this impeachment business is stuff about taxes, and there's over ten-million individuals who took the same credits and deductions as Trump.  Are they going to be dragged in for a House tax audit?

Then you start to wonder.....let's say Bernie is the next guy lined up, and some idiots start talking from the GOP side about a pre-tax audit of Bernie.  Can Bernie survive this?  Would we have to impeach Bernie if he's elected? 

Messy?  Yeah, and the public's ability to consume and just accept this?  That's what you need to start asking yourself. 

Impeachment Scenario 1 and 2

These are my scenarios, which could fall into play.

1.  The House wastes most of 2019 on hearings and then shortly before Christmas, and the primary season...they send the impeachment package to the Senate.  The Senate spends 45 days calling witnesses and doing their hearing, in the midst of primary season. 

In the red states (the thirty that voted for Trump)....there's open hostility, and they are still full turbo for Trump. 

The Senate eventually finds 51 votes (with several GOP figures voting against Trump), and then removes him from office.  Pence is declared the President.

Trump refuses to sit down from the campaign and continues to engage.....find tens of millions arriving weekly from working-class supporters.  The convention?  Various GOP pretenders try to halt Trump and find that the public is now openly hostile, and the five GOP senators that voted for impeachment.....are now having police protection around the clock.

Eventually in November....impeached Trump beats Bernie or the Democratic contender. 

The Democrats and the news media sit there in shock.....finding that over 100 Democratic seats were lost from the House, and an overwhelming number of votes for Trump came out of this mess.

2.  The Houses wastes most of 2019 on hearings and then shortly before Christmas, and the primary season...they send the impeachment package to the Senate.  The Senate spends 45 days calling witnesses and doing their hearing, in the midst of primary season. 

In the red states (the thirty that voted for Trump)....there's open hostility, and they are still full turbo for Trump. 

The Senate then finds 51 votes in voting down the impeachment.  The Democrats think the embarrassment is enough to dissolve votes for Trump in November.  They misjudge the public frustration, and an overwhelming number of voters show up, and Trump wins easily.  Going into 2021?  The Democrats lose 80 to 100 seats in the House election, and there's nothing left for them to really slam Trump.  One out of every ten Democrats now say they'd like to leave the party and create a new group, or follow the Green Party.

The worst of the two scenarios?  Number one....having Trump come back and continue the election effort and drill down into massive anger from conservative voters at pretender-Republican Senators.

Worthless Degree

I sat and watched an interview yesterday, and in the midst of this....a 'Scholar' came up for Whiteness Studies.  Yes, she actually was some holding a degree of some type.....over Whiteness Studies. 

I reflected upon the degree, and just sat there for twenty minutes....trying to contemplate where four to six years of college, and this degree (likely costing $100,000)....would lead onto.  Basically, if you didn't get a job with some college, you are 'toast'.  There's just not any business operations out there, or operations sector....that ask for people with 'Whiteness Studies degrees'.

Folks getting 'Blackness Studies degrees'?  Probably.  Latino Studies degrees?  I guess. 

The problem I see is that it really eliminates the path ahead in life for real work, and real value attached to the degree. 

The Pejorative 'Gimmick'

Pejorative is not a word that most people use, and it's usually drawn up by a PhD-level guy who wants to have a hour-long lecture.....talking about something fairly negative.

The meaning?  It's often built to be a concept of disparagement.....a negative view of something.  You could even draw upon this as a slur against someone or a cause.

A criticism?  Yes, to the ninth-degree.

It's where you view something and have decided to go full-board.....go as negative as possible....to influence the people in front of you.

Words that fit into pejorative ways?

Example: Do-Gooder, typically meaning you've taken a position simply to look good, and it was more for public recognition, than logic.

Example: Cuckservative, typically meaning you do some things in the name of pretending to be a conservative, but for the most part.....are not a conservative.

Example: Cave-people, typically meaning a person who hates changes in their local area or region.

Example: Jobsworth, typically a person who uses rules to prevent people from accomplishing things.

Example: Fundie, typically a person who is on the far end of religion, and lives their life to 100-percent within the rules of the religion, and it bothers them when others fail to 'see the light'. 

A Security Clearance Story

For several weeks, I've been watching this news media hype over Trump's daughter and son-in-laws top secret clearance, for their DC job, and tried to grasp what there is of significance in the story.

Prior to the 1990s, you could have filled out the paperwork (maybe 12 pages), and some security specialist could have wrapped up your clearance in roughly three-to-four  months.  The time-consumer (if there was one).....you had to list three people to 'vouch' for you.  Amusingly enough.....the field agent guy could go to the three listed for 'vouching' or just skip them entirely and find three totally different people who knew you.  Two or three weeks after that guy signed off....the rest of the paperwork finished up, and it was good for five years.

At some point in the early 1990s....some folks determined that the system wasn't working well enough and added more points onto it....basically making this a six-month process.  By the late 1990s, another group got into this, and determined that the new process wasn't through enough, and now it was getting up to an entire year.  Part of the blame for this was simply a lack of field agents, and perception that people were getting into serious financial issues (which should hinder your clearance).  Another item....more spouses coming up into the scene....who weren't US citizens (particularly in the 1990s, with Russian wives now showing up, married to US military guys).

At some point, a guy I worked with....had sat there and counted his submission and the weeks required.....with the final sign-off of a update (not a new clearance), and this had reached 19 months. 

The folks who travel extensively?  Here's the odd thing about doing clearance updates (every five years).  The audit people want a complete list of all foreign travel.  As long as you stayed in the US....you were safe.  The folks who traveled to ten to fifteen foreign locations over that five year period (like a four-day trip to Cancun, or a 7-day trip to Paris)?  It's not a difficult thing, but the audit guy wants your dates for the trip.  So you find yourself going back to calendar and trying to recall ten trips over the past five years and trying to line the dates correctly up.  If you were the daughter of Trump?  I'd take a guess that just on international travel.....she's got a list of forty places that she's been to in the past five years.  For that poor audit guy trying to assess things or look for some type of corruption or spy stuff?  A list of forty international trips is going to freak you out.  That alone....probably would add three months onto the whole process. 

Is it really some five-star news media story?  No.  It's marginally a two-star story at best. 

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

A Drive in a E-car

So this morning, my wife and I did a 45-minute in a Audi E-Tron (their new battery car).....which is basically a Q-3 mid-size SUV.  I will make five observations over the experience.

1.  It is remarkably quiet.  In fact, other than a hum when you first take off, there is no noise inside of this vehicle.

For a guy who'd grown up on a farm, and driven a 1960s farm truck that produced enough noise that you couldn't hear anything within the cab itself.....this was a remarkable vehicle. 

2.  The E-Tron does not offer real side mirrors.  What you get on each side.....a camera-like device which brings an image to mini-TVs by the driver and passenger.  Just my guess, but each camera is probably in the range of 150 Euro ($200), and each TV set is probably near the same pricing.  This was NOT optional, and it was a major negative to me.  I could imagine keeping the car for ten years and having to replace the camera and TVs at least once each....maybe more.

3.  In front of you, there is no gas gauge.  There's a 'counter' which says you have 300 kms left, and as each minute goes by.....you are heavily focused on the counter.  In case you got down to 25 km's left?  Well....you'd have to 'refill', and you could be talking about six hours (in a normal charge). 

4.  The vehicle has some kind of 'smart-package' which connects to the GPS, and basically tells you where battery charging stations are located.  But if you were three hours away from home, and needed to recharge it.....you could be talking about a four to six hour period, where you'd be mostly guzzling cocktails or sleeping.

5.  Finally, there is a setting menu within the vehicle where you could tell it to downsize the 'take-off' from high-intensity (using more battery power), to extremely low-intensity (meaning you added another bunch of kilometers to the potential), but you had slow take-off and go.  In essence, you gave up on 0-to-60 take-offs and were accepting a fairly slow pace.

Pricing?  Close to $90,000.  The curious thing for me....with a pretty solid body and quality steel....you could reach a point in 15 years where you replaced the two electric motors on the front wheels, and just continued.....meaning you could squeeze 30 years of life out of the vehicle (batteries would be a totally different case, you'd probably have to get new batteries every five years).   And here's the thing....if you had some mechanical skills.....each of these miniature electrical motors could be swapped out by you, in your garage....in probably 90 minutes.  You'd just take the old broke motor and toss it in the garbage can. 

Bloomberg Out

It wasn't a five star moment for the news media, but it's more or less wrapped up.  Bloomberg won't enter the Democratic Presidential primary. Chief reasons from him?  He says it's already a dense field (12-plus), and there's issue about the 'weight' of the party leaning to the left (something that he really doesn't admire or get into).  So he's out.

Personally, I think his big moment should have come up in 2004....where he could have entered the race and likely out-paced John Kerry (easily).  Given a race of Bush and Bloomberg, I think Bloomberg would have won. Age would have been in his favor at that point (he would have been 63 years old at that point).

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

The Next Congressional Mess

There are today.....three separate House committees....asking for communications documents or interview records from these meetings between Trump and Putin.

The committees?  The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Committee on Oversight.

Meetings notes between Bush and Putin, or Obama and Putin?  No. 

After a number of delays, Trump will likely put all of his interview records, along with those of Bush and Obama....in front of the committee.

So the Democrats will open up the folders and find that Putin opened the dialog.....chatting about the local weather, and dispensing six lines of text on rainfall in Moscow this year.  Trump responds with his view of rainfall in DC. 

Then Putin asks about the NY Yankees, and if they are destined to win in the World Series.  Fourteen lines of text will then come from Trump, as he discusses the bullpen, likely trades, and the possibility that the Yanks won't go all the way.

Then Putin will ask about the Kardashians.  He's only up to season 13.  Trump will suggest that he can get the DVDs from his stash and send over season 14 and 15. 

Then Putin will comment about that silly Chancellor Merkel from Germany.  Trump will ask what she's done now, and Putin will have eight lines of text over some issue brewing there in Germany.

Forty pages of text from one single meeting between Putin and Trump.....and nothing?  Then some Republican will open up the Bush-Putin folder, and find a similar meeting.  Same for the Obama-Putin meeting. 

All of these leading to more or less nothing?

And the news media folks standing there, and expecting some explosive news episode? 

Monday, 4 March 2019

How Trump Survives: 27 Months Now

You can go and wander through all the chatter, and hundreds of comments made weekly by journalists and intellectual types....but the essential Trump technique goes back to one formula which has never been performed before.

Instant reaction to a comment or report by the news media, and in the space of one single hour....he's formed the response, and put it via Twitter.  Past Presidents of the last thirty years?  They all needed to go to a support committee....discuss this at length....looking at polling data, and then find the appropriate way to respond.  You could be talking about a minimum of three hours for an 'emergency' response, and maybe up to three days for a news media 'return of fire'. 

Trump won't listen to the chief of staff that much, or the twenty-odd people around him....at least not to the degree that Bush, Clinton or Obama did.  Trump might listen to his daughter or sons, but again....he's got an opinion in his head, and he's begging to Tweeter that to the public. 

Can the Democrats find someone like this?  Presently, I don't think a Trump-like character exists.  Even if you brought Oprah onto the scene....she's just not the same match.  Bloomberg?  In a debate situation, he might be able to match up to Trump....but in a minute-by-minute Tweeter response?  No....he can't deliver at that rate. 

The value of the news media to the Democratic campaign?  Presently, I think they've been neutralized. After Trump utters 'fake news' enough....people identify NPR, Time, Newsweek, CNN and the rest.....to some degree, as 'fake news'. 

The GOP Primary 2020

Right now....it's just an unannounced Trump and former Governor Bill Weld (Mass) in the running.  Governor Hogan of Maryland says he might run, but there's no indication of financial backing.  Same story for former Governor Kasich of Ohio. 

Official word from Trump that he's in?  I don't think you will hear the word until October.  If he did say 'no'.....it would be hard for someone to suddenly show up and run a decent campaign in Iowa or the next three states. 

How long can Weld stay in the process?  My guess is that he's got enough funding to stay around until 3 March (Super-Tuesday).  At that point, he'll just fade.

What this means for Trump?  Well....tons of money won't be spent in the primary period, unlike 2016.  That's fifty-plus million that he won't spend until after the convention.  For the Democrats, that's a major pain.

Appearances?  I would suggest that he doesn't do more than one single day (maybe five or six communities) of campaign efforts in Iowa.  The week prior to Super-Tuesday?  It's probably already on the calendar and he's likely got fifteen appearances in a single week.  But after the 19 May primaries in Kentucky and Arkansas....I'd suggest that his campaign stops will dwindle down, and everything simmers until the July GOP convention in Charlotte, NC. 

No debates for Trump in the spring?  Correct.  Again, this puts more pains upon the Democrats.  Remember, they are doing six in the second half of 2019, and six in the spring of 2020.  You can draw your own conclusions about the necessity of having so many of these.  My humble guess is that most people will be candidated-out by October of this year and begging for relief. 

Here's the real bottom line.....in terms of stress and long hours....Trump in 2020 is progressing along a path with half the aggravation and suffering of 2016.  Other than this week prior to Super-Tuesday, he just won't have a lot of frustration to deal with.  Whoever the Democratic candidate is?  By convention-time in 2020....that person will have burned a bunch of bridges to reach their destination, and be in serious need of rest. 

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Just the Next Investigation

It was laid out over the weekend, that Congress will investigate Donald Trump over three visits to Russia....the first going back to 1996.  The trips?  All three revolved around resort projects under consideration.....hotels, golf, etc. Congress wants to know the full extent of Trump's visits, who he met in 1996, and what may have been 'promised'.

I sat and pondered over this.  The truth in the end may be that young Donald Trump....around age sixteen, was enticed by Russian agents in the US who promised to aid in 2016.  All of this may have started in 1962, shortly before Kennedy's assassination.

Yes, the Russians guiding and helping Trump, from 1962 to 2016....to become President of the United States.

How silly does it sound?  To the max.

Having Congress now open up some investigation in an era when Joe Biden was in his early 50s? 

The problem here is that some Democrats will start looking at the 'reach' of this and just start laughing.  Virtually every single candidate will have to be asked if they ever met a Russian in their life, and how they conducted business with them.  No one is going to take politics serious if this trend continues. 

The Fake Ping?

One of the odd things brought up this past week in the Cohen 'chat' in Congress....was the continued denial that he was in Prague in the summer of 2016.   Blunt answer, he says no....he just never was there.

So, what drives the accusation?  Well....some Eastern European spy agency (probably the Czechs, but it might be even the Germans)....says (no one from the CIA or former Obama group says who, which is curious to me).....that Michael Cohen’s cell phone pinged off a local cell phone towers in Prague.  No one says for a day or two.  In fact, the story only suggests that a conversation occurred between Cohen (the holder of the number) and some Russian guy. 

The rest of this story?  The phone call was a moment where Cohen chatted with Russians (one assumes in a Russian English accent situation).  Cohen doesn't speak Russian.

The topic mentioned from this spy agency?  Cohen and the Russians supposedly discussed how to hide the campaign’s close relationship with the Russian government.

As the story goes....this secret chatter (in either text form, or tape form) rests with Robert Mueller.

If all true....why do this Prague?  Cohen could have easily picked any western European city (London, Paris, or Munich).  Why not meet the sources in person in Prague?  A face-to-face between Cohen and the Russians?  But no.....Cohen flew all that way to Prague....to conduct one single phonecall? 

Curiously, if this were a taped version....you would think that it'd be analyzed by FBI experts and just confirm the voice of Cohen.  Yet oddly, no one says that.  The Russian angle to this?  You'd think that the ones on the Russian end would be checked out.....yet no one says that.

If you fly into Prague International (from the US), you have to have a stamp in your passport.  If you flew from the US into Germany, and later onto Prague (the normal route).....you'd have the German stamp....but there is no stamp for Europe in that time period (Trump himself reviewed the passport back when this got brought up).

So what happened?  I suspect that someone in the US took some time to figure out Cohen's cellphone number....copy it, and then send some guy on a quick trip with the fake phone to Prague....to arrange a fake call, which would be picked up.  In fact, the more you look at how this story is told....people go to a great length to avoid suggesting what part of Prague (it's a fairly big town) where the 'ping' was picked up.  There's probably more than a thousand towers within Prague, if you just suggested the area....you could assess and identify the hotel that he stayed in.  But no.....they can't go and suggest that tower's location.  To this date....no hotel information has been demonstrated as part of the story. 

So this 'fixer' situation was planned out already in the summer of 2016?  Yes, and I would go to suggest that most of the Obama-team players already knew in advance that Hillary couldn't win the Electoral College, and this was a foregone conclusion in their mind that they needed to 'seed' legal matters to take Trump or the Trump-team down.

Screwed up?  Once you establish that this was a false phone story, and planted....then the rest of this whole Mueller topic is mostly open to additional speculation. 

The Next Executive Order

At some point in Star Wars Episode VI (really number three, but let's not get into mixed-up ways of telling a saga), General Akbar utters the line "It's a trap" to the Jedi military staff, and then all hell breaks out.  You could have predicted the trap angle five minutes prior in the movie, but it had to climax in some way with Akbar's brilliant moment of deduction.

I sat and watched the 2-hour speech by President Trump from yesterday, and there was the moment where he's talking over issuing an executive order.....that would be laid upon public colleges (not the private ones) to actively support freedom of speech....or face consequences.  At that moment, I uttered in my mind: "Its a trap".

Yes, it's the most brilliant trap ever devised by President Trump.

First, it's basically guaranteed anyway....via the Constitution.  But a number of anti-Trump folks are going to get ballistic, and go anti-free speech.....getting the general public in red-states to get further annoyed by the negative chatter.  Imagine Senators having to stand there, and suggest that freedom of speech is guaranteed, yet you must fight it. 

Second, on every occasion that anyone is affected by the failure of freedom of speech on a public campus.....the President can turn to the AG and ask for a full-scale investigation.  Punishment?  They could drag you into a court, and it gets fairly messy with the Chancellor having to explain to some judge why he can't allow freedom of speech.  But it gets even more interesting.....the federal guys could deny research funding into science and technology projects that the university might be highly attached to.  Imagine four science professors showing up at your door, and angry over a twenty-million-dollar project now stalled because of speech issues and the feds withholding funding.

Third, imagine CNN trying to explain the good things about banning or holding back freedom of speech.

Fourth, more security?  Well, if you were a California campus, and realizing the impact....you'd have to go and hire up at least sixty additional campus cops, and add an additional 25-million onto the operational cost of providing adequate security for the college.  Yes, within a year or two, you'd have to bump the tuition up ten-percent....just because of security.

Fifth, more court fines?  Well, again.....as a California campus....imagine having listen to some federal judge lecture about being at fault, and assessing a $10-million dollar fine for allowing four punks on your campus (maybe not even students there), and them beating up on some freshman student.  Just two or three of those per year, and you'd be talking about another 10-percent rise in tuition. 

Yes, Trump has rigged up a five-star trap, and basically letting the university crowd know that their cash flow system is about to be marginalized.  Imagine five more years of Trump and this freedom of speech angle, with a behavioral problem that has to be repaired by the campus intellectuals. 

Saturday, 2 March 2019

The Problem With a One-Variable Thought Process

It generally amazes me to go and review a week of various news pieces, and note the absolute trend to keep people focused or tied to one single variable.....to make a story work.

It'd be like saying McDonalds entire success, was dependent on cheap burgers.  Or you could say Microsoft's entire success was built upon no competition.  Or it could be about the traffic around Atlanta being based on the single failure of design. 

In some ways, people are desiring for single variables because once you admit that McDonald's success is dependent on sixty different variables....you turn it into a pretty complicated affair.  Or suggesting that Congress can fix a problem just a six-line text bill, when the truth is that it'd have to be thirty items written out and in a change-mode....to resolve some issue.

It'd be simple to say your pancakes for this morning were a failure....chiefly because the floor you used was from a container with the expiration date of January 2004.  But that one-variable type situation is fairly rare.

You got Trump as President because of a hundred different variables.  You have a dynamic business atmosphere going on now, with job-hirings 'hot'....because of a hundred different variables.  You have a rainy spring, because of a dozen variables all colliding around the same time period.  You have Ford bringing back the Bronco, for a dozen-odd reasons.  You have the NFL in a failure mode for a dozen-odd reasons (it's just kneeing).  You have fake Russian collusion going on, for a dozen-odd reasons.  You can have thousands of kids entering college this year, borrowing $100,000 to get their degree, for dozens of reasons (none of them logical). 

Just accepting one-variable success or failure doesn't exist?  I don't know if you even convince people of that dynamic.  People hate complicated affairs, and can't imagine a complex failure or success. 

Friday, 1 March 2019

2020 Democratic Chances?

Listed Democratic candidates for 2020 primary season, that I give a marginal chance to:

- Senator Booker
- Senator Gillibrand (likely to drop out by 5th primary)
- Senator Harris (likely to drop out by mid-Feb)
- Senator Sanders
- Senator Warren
- Mayor Castro (San Antonio)
- Andrew Yang
- Joe Biden
- Micheal Bloomberg
- Beto O'Rourke
- Presently, there are roughly 10 additional folks 'running' but I don't think they will be able to meet the debate 'requirement'.

What is the debate deal?  Here's the thing....there are six public debates scheduled between June and 1 January.  There's a funny rule that you have to have 200 unique (they don't explain what that means) donors in a minimum of 20 states.

Out of this group....I don't think Gillibrand or Booker can get the donor deal up and they may miss the debates, and thus fall way behind. Same is true for Harris.

So this is mostly a race between Sanders, Warren, Castro, Yang, Biden, O'Rourke, and Bloomberg?  My best guess is yes.  The six debates, and the way of cancelling out potential folks....will limit who shows up in Iowa.

The Iowa event?  The three that I think have excellent chances are Biden, Yang, and Sanders.

All of this is rigged in some ways for three to four people to battle this out, and no one to have more than 35-percent of the primary vote....so the convention this time?  It'll turn into a dynamic event, with Castro or Yang as the VP, and Sanders, Biden or O'Rourke being the top three. 

Bloomberg has the capital to run a four-star race, but here's the thing....his chatter for the past decade is kinda like a left-of-center 'Trump-like' character.  In the south and midwest, it just won't sell well to Democratic voters.

If this were a Booker (President) and Castro (VP) race?  It would draw out a lot of Obama-voters.  But I can't see Booker making it through the debates or the first couple of primary states. 

My ticket for a better-than-Hillary chance?  Biden (President) and Yang (VP).  They would draw the dynamics to take 22 states.

Google's Team Project

Around seven years ago, Google went off (2012) in search of something that they felt would be a worthy project.....they wanted to know how to build the best team.

I know.....it sounds pretty hokey and if you were going to guess the outcome....it'd likely be some 1,700 page study, with no real value.  That's what most PhD-level studies deliver in the end.

But oddly enough, Project Aristotle (that was the name for it), came back recently, and the study laid out five pieces of what makes a team function or work:

1. Basic simple risk assessment.  Whatever the team members felt was the goal....it had to have reasonable risks assigned to it, or the potential for failure was not a big deal.  Once you crossed the line and said your job, or your career were in jeopardy....you met and exceeded the invisible line that existed.

2.  There was a quality of work known to the members of the group.  'Good enough for government work' couldn't be the end-result. 

3.  There was a known beginning and end to the team effort.  In simple terms....there was a clear path ahead, and someone sat there to create a defined end-point.

4.  Curiously, there had to be some reward attached to the project.  They didn't come out and say it.....but all of this was marginalized in terms of a 'gift' at the end, then why do it?

5.  Finally, they came to realize the group's project had to be part of some bigger end-result.  The team left it's 'mark' on the job.

At one point in my military life, I arrived at an organization in transition....it was a division without a compass, a map, or adequate leadership to latch onto the group. Over the course of a year, this group picked itself up.....laid out goals...'gifted' performances....and became noted for taking enormous taskings. 

Looking back over twenty-five years ago, I can say that we had three distinctive characteristics at work: (1) extreme risk acceptance, (2) never turning away a single customer, and (3) letting the lowest level guy to be lightly mentored, while he/she were were actually loaded with taskings beyond their normal level. 

Will Google make use of their team 'discovery'?  That would be a curious end-result.