Saturday, December 3, 2011

Fast and Furious and journalist failure

Today I am treated to a story on the failed ATF program digging a deeper hole.  Unfortunately, no matter where I look, this appears to be a page 2 story behind "Dog Bites Man".  Apparently, alleged sex scandals involving unelected political candidates is more important than a poorly thought out justice department operation and the efforts to cover it up.  Even more interesting is that this dates back to the Bush administration, so really the media should be having a field day blaming him.

While I would love to see this scandal given the appropriate coverage and tone, since it has been documented by both US and Mexican criminal investigations that this has resulted in deaths in both sides of the border, I see little interest from the media to address it.  Right now, then entire ATF organization should be under scrutiny, all managers in the operation under suspension and all current operations under review.  By now, indictments should be pending against those managers.   

This really plays into my frustration with the media.  I understand that in reality, they are selling a product (newspapers, magazines and ad space on broadcasts and internet sites) and they have to provide something that draws people to their product.  However, since this is the case, I really would like the phrase "journalistic integrity" stricken from use.  I don't see it being practiced, so why pretend that it exists?  The media should be focusing on this and calling for blood.  Instead, they are setting up shop on Herman Cain's front lawn while his political opponents wax poetic on his virtues now that he has called it off.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Herman Cain fuss...

I see news articles all over about Herman Cain and his apparent sexual escapades in the past.  As posted by other bloggers, this seems remniscent of Clarence Thomas.  Looking at the accusations, I see no criminal complaints and a number of people who were happy to accuse and take payment to shut up.  Which they then failed to do.  The latest is stating that he had a 13 year relationship with her and she knew that he was married.  A paragon of honesty and trust.  Today one of my co-worked asked me if I thought he actually committed these indiscretions.  My answer was, much like when Gary Conduit was under the gun, do I care?  Really, if a politician cannot keep his zipper shut, that is an issue between them and their spouse.  What concerns me is, can he do the job? 

While I can't say that I agree with his entire platform as presented so far, he has several things in his favor.  First, he has a college degree in math.  That in itself is enough to put him head and shoulders above the pack when reviewing our current government fiscal situation.  Second, he has proved that he can successfully run a large corporation, which in reality is what our government has become.  Third, if he can pull off all of the afermentioned sexual shenanegans and still have time to run a major coporation successfully, he should be able to do far more in office than Bill Clinton was ever able to with the interns on his presidential staff...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Your tax dollars at work...

While I applaud Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback apologizing for his director of communications over-reaction to a tweet made by a high school student, I really would like to think that this employee has more important things to be occupying her time.  Looking at The Wichita Eagle, I see all kinds of things that have nothing to do with Twitter that could possibly be more important, but sadly that was not her priority.  I really think that she needs someone to go ahead and send her a copy of the Constitution including the Bill of Rights, since apparently her copy seems to have lost the first page.  I'd loan her my copy, but I doubt she would delve too deeply...
Entertainingly, the student in question is 18 and eligible to vote as are most of her friends.  Just food for thought to the Governor and his staff...

UN Department of the obvious...

The UN released a shocking report that there have been crimes against humanity in Syria. This was surprising to... well no one, really.  I continually wonder why we fund this collection of simpletons and thieves.  The net effect of this report will be zero.  It will be (at best) discussed in session and then promptly lost among the other graft and unerring reports on the obvious.  I read several opinions about wanting to evict the UN from US soil with the US Marines conducting the proceedings.  I have met many marines and I have to say, they would be too polite and professional.  I would like the proceedings to be conducted by the Hells Angels, with various chapters competing to see who can clear a floor the fastest.  Pull up cargo vessels to the edge of the FDR East River Drive and load it all in without even stopping traffic.  Then get top dollar to demo the site and build new hi-rise buildings.  I know, one can dream...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Red Saturday...

No, I'm not talking about the various acts of stupidity that happened around the country on Black Friday trying to get amazing deals on, well, anything. I'm talking about everyone looking at their credit card and bank statements (or bail and hospital charges depending how your day went) and realizing how much they "saved". Some people I know save so hard they take until next Black Friday to pay it off. I stayed home and enjoyed myself. No stress, no charges (financial or otherwise).

Friday, November 25, 2011

Uh oh, now I gotta look like I know what I'm doing...

So I am doing my morning day off ritual, enjoying my cup of coffee and checking my blogs.  What do I find when I wander over to check for DGC (dead goblin count) entries but that Jay has listed me in his blog roll.  Hmm, now I have to look like I know what I'm doing, or (as I tell my boss) create the illusion of knowledge and skill...  Thanks for the link Jay!

May you fly on dragons wings...

Anne McCaffrey has passed away.  Unfortunately, I was never able to meet her, so my books will remain unsigned.  I did once get to sit with a group who had coffee with Harlan Ellison and he recounted the time at a writers workshop when he was less than generous in his review of what she had written for the group.  He admitted that she seemed to do well in spite of his opinion.  My daughter just got done reading the entire Pern series in my possession.  Maybe I'll follow that lead and re-read them too.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Occupy Oakland fail.

So I watched the news reporting on the Occupy protest in Oakland yesterday.  All that I could think was, what a bunch of morons.  They shut down the Port of Oakland, shut down sections of downtown Oakland and "stuck it to the 1%!".  Except they didn't.

Most of the businesses that were shut down were not "greedy bankers" or other 1% evil doers.  Most of them were small or medium businesses.  None of them can afford to take the hit to their bottom line, but they had to because history has shown them the probable consequences of having open doors during a protest.  The port was shut down, so 70 dock workers couldn't get to work.  None of those people are big greedy fat cats.  The truckers all had to park their trucks, so they got thrown behind on their schedules.  As a former truck driver, I can assure you that the owner/operators were not happy to see their truck payment being held hostage by these protesters.  On the other hand, the union drivers were happy because they were getting paid no matter what.  The union port workers likely got paid too, but I didn't see any of them bragging about it on the news. 

One business did stay open (Whole Foods, historically very good to their employees and customers) and they were rewarded with having their building defaced, their furniture thrown/upended and their trash/recycle bins with a new paint job.  BofA and Wells Fargo were both closed and both got damaged.  So much for peaceful.   Funny tho, they have (evil) insurance, so they will not have to pay for the damage.  You and I will with our insurance dollars.  And the bank employees had to use vacation time to cover their lost shifts, if they had it.  As far as hurting the banks, I guarantee that people just went to other branches to do their banking.  So the only evil bankers that suffered were the hourly wage tellers who really can't afford to have their hours cut.

And in the end, last night they ended up trading firebombs and flashbangs with the police.  So, in the end, the 99% end up taking it in the shorts but the protesters didn't care.  Shocking. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Herman Cain almost had me...

Herman Cain has intrigued me since he hit the campaign trail.  He is a successful businessman who has a degree in math.  That alone is a major point for him in my book.  He supports wiping out the vast and confusing quagmire that is the US tax code with a flat tax.  Another point.  Then we get to the part about "advancing to the Fair Tax".  Now you've lost me. 

You see, I have a simple view of a flat tax.  One tax rate for all, no exceptions.  None.  It hits everyone just as hard.  My hope for the 999 plan was this:
9% tax on gross income for all businesses after paying their employees.
9% tax on gross income for individuals.
9% sales tax.

Herman Cain's plan initially appears this simple.  However, I noticed that interspersed in the Cain explanation were a number of qualifiers, all of which make it no longer a flat tax.  Businesses still have deductions that they can qualify for, so the gray areas then open up.  I guess the tax preparers needed to be thrown a bone.  Additionally, we have "Empowerment Zones" for more deductions, both personal and business.  More gray area, even more vaguely defined.  And I see no actual explanation of the "Fair Tax", which I am led to believe would be similar to the VAT so popular in the Euro Zone, which right now is such a high symbol of fiscal responsibility.

I have been a fan of flat tax since I have had to pay taxes.  I have noticed one thing in all discussions.  The idea is great, a simple plan based on basic math.  Then it gets complicated because the people in the discussion forget the "flat" part of flat tax.  Normally the first item thrown out there is Capitol Investment.  From there we hit on charitable contributions and eventually we are circling the drain while discussing carbon footprint taxes and value added tax.  Then we have the issue of Federal vs State Vs Local. 

I call bullshit on all of them.  Do you know how I am sure that a simple flat tax with no special rules or exceptions will work?  Nobody will be entirely happy, but nobody will be completely screwed.  I prefer the following plan:

10% Federal tax on gross income for all businesses after paying their employees.
10% Federal tax on gross income for individuals.
4% Federal sales tax.

5% State tax on gross income for all businesses after paying their employees.
5% State tax on gross income for individuals.
3% State sales tax.

2% Local tax on gross income for all businesses after paying their employees.
2% Local tax on gross income for individuals.
1% Local sales tax.

Edit: Forgot to add the total lines: 
Business - 17% tax on gross income after paying employees.
Individuals - 17% tax on gross income.
Sales Tax - 7% on all goods and services.
And we finish by removing all other taxes.  Where did the numbers come from?  My ass, really, but I can't do any worse than the people we have elected already.  Going on this plan, I would pay over 50% less in taxes overall.  The trick would be getting those we elect to actually learn how to balance a checkbook and not pour money down a bottomless hole.

I see how he got elected...

I was flipping through the channels last night before going to bed and stopped on a channel that sucked me in like a fishing show.  I really didn't want to watch, but I couldn't avoid the spectacle.  President Obama was in the Tonight Show and I simply had to stop.  Jay Leno was pitching up slow underhands like a third grade softball pitcher and Obama was swinging for the fences.  I was mesmerised.  I am always amazed by his public speaking skill and I imagne after his time in the Whitehouse he will make a killing on the public speaking curcuit.  I see why he got elected. 

On the other hand, having read the news and actually looked into many of the things that were discussed, I also know that what I was seeing was carefully orchestrated.  It was just another stop on his "not a campaign" trail.  Lots of blaming the republicans for failing to approve his legislation.  Of course, he conveniently glosses over the math.  I was entertained by one comment.  He said that the politicians have to stop thinking only about the next election and start thinking about the future for our children.  That is entertaining, since those of us that can do math have seen him put our grandchildren in debt. 

Occupy... parks and um...stuff...

I have been watching the new reports about the Occupy <your city here> people and am amazed how they don't represent me but claim to.  Their claim of 99% is interesting, because I have yet to meet anyone who believes that they are included in that percentage.  Maybe its because all the people I know have jobs, so they can't be onsite at the rally to drink the cool-aide.

The protesters appear to be all of the same people who rallied to the president's cry for Obamacare (which raised my familie's rates drastically) but didn't actually research the bill or do the math.  Generally, all I have seen and read about are a bunch of people who have little grasp of math, no knowlege of history and a general dream of living their dream of protesting like its 1969.  While I am sure that there are some sincere people with actual college degrees in something other than liberal arts and political science participating, I have not seen any of them speaking publicly. Nor have the demands from the speakers that are available even vaguely based in reality.  One would think that they would be requesting reform in the area of compensation at large corporations, since that tends to be a driving factor in the "greed" that they claim is evil.  Mmm, not so much.  They want free money, free healthcare, complete elimination of fossil fuel use, free homes, a chicken in every pot and I believe there was mention of a pear tree and some birds in it.  These people do not represent 99% of us, however, the rest of us are too busy working to get on over to our local protest to correct them.

Now I see that a new movement is starting, the "I am the 53%" crowd.  These are people who are applying actual research and math completed by non-partisan researchers and are tired of some hippie wanting free everything claiming to represent them.  They have the audacity of paying their bills, too.  This has resulted in immediate calls of "racist, tea party whackjobs paid for by big business".  Funny, I have yet to see them crapping on cop cars, trashing public parks, engaging in violent clashes with police or even threatening violence.  I guess that happens when you decide that a job (even a fast food job) is better than unemployment. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Range time, or current lack thereof...

So I am looking at the calendar and I realize two things.

1.  It has in fact been over two years since I set foot on a range to actually fire an honest to god firearm instead of a gas blowback airsoft pistol in the backyard.
2.  I naturally misspell the word calendar.

Since spell check is set to automatically tell me that I am an idiot, I discount the latter and start working on the former.  Despite living in the the SF Bay area, there are actually a fair number of options for range time in the south bay area.  I can choose five ranges, two of which are county/city owned.  Entertainingly, the county owned one has the best overall facilities (in my opinion) with prices that are as good as, if not better, than the privately owned ranges.  However, it is an outdoor range, which can be a downer in rainy weather, even with the covered lanes.  To the rescue comes the city owned range, which is small, appears to date back to the Roosevelt administration (the first one) and has limited hours.  But is is indoors and the prices are almost criminally low.  For less than I pay for one adult at the county range for all day access, I can get a lane for my entire family. 

Now, of the private ranges, I have been to all of them and none of them thrill me.  Cost aside, they all have issues that cause me to lose interest. 

One, despite being located across the street from a police department and having strict guidelines on who they sell and rent to, it always feels like its Gang Night (half off for all members!).  I have actually seen people shooting pistols gansta style.  I'm not taking my daughter there.
The second has replaced their backstop with what appears to be either coal or volcanic rock but failed to do anything about ventilation.  10 minutes into a session and its hard to see any targets past the 5 yard mark and even harder to breathe.
The last is just to far to drive on winding mountain roads to get to.  It is a nice outdoor range, but the two municipal ranges are closer. 

So now I have to work a weekly schedule up for visiting the ranges, get signed up for the CMP and start regularly putting lead downrange.  Because living here, I have to do everything I can to make Feinstein cry without breaking the law. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Gov. Moonbeam inspires me...

He inspires me to move to another state.  Almost any other state. (Massachusetts, NJ and NY being huge on the exception list.)

Jerry Brown is getting into his stride.  Since his election I have been waiting for his participation in the useless exercises that originate from LA, usually with a democrat behind it.  He seemed to be worrying about the important things, like the budget, but I was sure that he would start signing worthless legislation sooner or later. 

Now, I hold allegiance to no party, I find most of them to be stupid.  I vote for the person who I feel will do the best job.  Unfortunately, that usually ends up being translated to a vote for the one who will do the least amount of damage.  While I did vote, I did not vote for him because I have already seen him in action. 

So this week Jerry, has decided to sign two bills into law concerning firearms.  Now, neither of these laws will do a thing to prevent crime.  Nor will they do anything to assist with the prosecution of criminals.  Criminal generally as a rule do not openly carry firearms due to their lack of interest in law enforcement interaction, so I doubt that the ban on open carry (AB 144) will do anything to enhance safety.  It will allow petty law enforcement officials to harass people that they don't like who own firearms, but that argument will have to wait until cases start hitting the courts.  And I feel that they will.  Since the state is not a "Shall Issue" state for CCW, I am sure that this one will be fought in court for some reason shortly.

AB 809 is another item that is a solution without a problem.  Are untraceable rifles and shotguns a problem for law enforcement right now?  Has it ever been a problem?  No, and it plays right into the argument from the gun rights advocates about registration being the first step towards confiscation.  What it means right now is that I will refrain from purchasing the long guns that I wanted to purchase until I either find the legal way around this requirement or (more likely) I move out of this continually sinking state of suck and fail.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The limitations on loyal shopping...

So recently I purchased a shotgun so that I could teach my 12 year old daughter how to shoot. We have already covered firearm safety with the .22 pistol, so I thought that in addition to the .22 rifle I would get a manageable shotgun as well.

I decided on a 20 gauge, and since I prefer to support local business, I went with a nearby gun shop that a friend works at. I also went ahead and checked the other stores in the area (both big box and local gun stores) to check pricing and customer service. Two of the gun stores did not get my business because of the attitude when we walked in, as well as the pricing on their firearms. The attitude was the bigger issue for me.  The big box stores was a disappointment mainly because I live in the bay area. Most don't carry firearms anymore, and those that do have poor selection.

The purchase of the shotgun went well (as well as can be expected in California) with a small paperwork snafu at the pickup time.  This was mainly due to someone not putting the forms in the correct file when I completed them at the time of purchase.  But all was well in the end.

However, I recently went to visit family in Oregon and out of curiosity looked at the prices at the local Wal-Mart.  I was both happy and disappointed to see the prices and selection in the case.  I could have gotten a similar shotgun for a C-Note less.  Ok, I understand that it is a different state, different economic area, etc…  I consoled myself by picking up a box of 100 shotgun shells for substantially less than I can buy them at home.  Still, it irked me.

Then, while cruising the big box located 20 miles from home, I noticed that they actually had firearms as well.  And they were priced well.  20 miles could have saved me $75. 

All this brings me back to the title of my post.  I want to support my friend’s employer.  I like supporting local firearms stores, since there are too few in the bay area as is.  However, they have most of their product as “I can have it here by the time the waiting period is complete”.  And, in this case, I ended up with a color that was not what was originally requested (my wife hates RealTree, and that is what we now have) due to supplier issues.  I want to support the local gun store, but I can’t.  Money is too tight.  The extra money spent was a couple cases of clays and the range fees.  I don’t have the money to spend on loyalty like that.  It sucks, but then reality can be like that.

Journalism at it's finest...

I was amazed that The BBC News managed to keep the death of Amy Winehouse in slightly smaller print that the tradgedy in Norway.  Now that the autopsy results are out, I am amazed that the media is managing to keep it just below the "not a war" in Libya. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Other people's money...

My company finally came through on training budget to send me to technical classes.  Every quarter for the last five years they would tell us "let us know what classes you would like to take, we set budget aside for it".  Then when we select classes and notify them we get the "ooh, we don't have the budget for that this quarter".  It became an entertaining game and running joke within our group. 

Well, they fiinally came through and I got to go to a training class for Windows 7.  The training facility was really nice and the teacher was excellent.  What amazed me was that several people didn't show up for the class.  The cost for the class was approaching $3000, which I can tell you I personally don't have.  And the cost is non-refundable, so either way the money is gone.  But even though it was not my money, I can't comprehend blowing off 3K of my employer's money.  I look at this like it is my money.  One of my co workers attended with me and he was less than attentive, repeatedly late and generally acted like he had something better to do with his time.  Now, since I was directly asked how his attendance and performance was in class, I can guarantee that he will not be getting another class paid for byt he company.  Normally I would resist this, but since he did the same thing during an office move in another state and left people hanging, I don't feel bad.  Every class that he screws off in is a class that I can't attend because money was wasted on him.  Even though its not my money, I still respect that it should be used wisely.  I guess there is no accounting for some people's children...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Time gets away...

I realized that I haven't posted on here for quite a while.  I didn't realize that between work and family there would be so little time to sit down and put thoughts to paper...  er, electrons...  I have to work on that.  Maybe I can firgure out a way to do this while I do 30 minutes on the exercise bike.  Of course, I would have to use the exercise bike as well, which has also been a challenge.