Friday, December 28, 2012

The Founding Fathers were...

I have seen many programs, read many articles and read a number of books regarding the Founding Fathers, those who wrote the Declaration, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  I have seen how they were successful businessmen.  How they were inventors, innovators, soldiers and spies.  They risked their lives for the birth of our nation.  They were generally educated and accomplished.  I hear and see many people talk about the brilliance which they used to craft the bill that ensures freedom of speech and religion, prevents unlawful search and seizure and guarantees the right to trial by a jury of peers.  These men were the great men of their time.

Yet, when a discussion on the Second Amendment to the bill of rights is brought out, the opinion brought forth is that these were simple men who lacked the knowledge, foresight and scientific understanding to see where weapons development might lead, despite was was said when discussing other amendments.  I find this to be a curious, considering how many were involved directly in the War of Independence.  Looking into history, I see that firearms with a revolving cylinder were known as early as the 16th century, such as the revolving matchlock once owned by Louis the XIII of France.  I see that grenade launchers were not only in use as early as the 16th century (the Germans made them well), the British had a standard attachment for the 1747 carbine for launching hand grenades.  Speaking of which, grenades have been around since ancient times in one form or another.  During the classic ages when western civilisation centered in the Mediterranean area, they were more like Molotov cocktails intended to spread fire on ships, on those besieging a fixed fortification or inside a fixed fortification.  However, modern grenades have been around since the 16th century and were used by the British against the upstart colonists.  Rifling of barrels started in about the 1550s, so again we have "modern" inventions that apparently aren't so modern.  I won't even go into air rifles, artillery and rockets.

The founding fathers wrote this amendment with the full knowledge of what has already been sent to the battlefield.  Many of them had firsthand knowledge and the intellegence to know that things would only advance.  They had the option to put in wording like rifle, musket, pistol, flintlock and so on.  They didn't.  They debated this item for over three months before finalizing this amendment.  They knew what they were doing when they did it. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

More hope-n-change...

So in the face of the "Fiscal Cliff" the Obama Administration decided that the need for more taxes can be met by....  Closing a company in operation for a century!  In a move as monumentally stupid as the removal of vast swaths of campgrounds in Yosemite Park, a small oyster farm in the Point Reyes National Seashore is now closed, 30 people are out of work, 40% of California's oyster production is toast and all the the revenue generated for the local, state and fedgov is history.  Nice. 

The environmentalists would have you believe that this operation was bringing Drakes Bay to its knees, devastating the wildlife, despoiling the shoreline and generally killing nature in a wanton slaughter.  They would like the area restored to it former beauty...  before humans arrived. 

However, when reality is checked we find that one can barely find the place on Google Earth. In fact, the place looks pretty damn good for a century of pillaging the bay. The reality is that they have a very small footprint and the impact to the environment is blown out of proportion by the environmentalists. In fact, the cattle ranching activities are far more damaging to the environment and they are all going to stay in place. 

This is the same mentality that is driving the various Yosemite plans.  They currently have 5 different plans for the valley to choose from, all of which result in less people in the park.  More and more affordable camping disappears so that the few who get in can see everything from a distance.  Having been there many times and seen the changes so far, I fear that by the time I get back, it will only be to see it from an ecologically sound tour bus.  I personally think that most of the upper management should be fired and the remainder of the staff reminded that the park is for the people, and if we return the valley to the condition seen in the 1880s photograph that is their actual guideline, none of the people will be able to see it.

Generally, I am for taking care of the environment.  However, decisions like this just bug the living crap out of me.  This is a perfect example of why I have no use for most of the environmental groups and will never support any of them.  None of them will be happy until we take care of the environment by ceasing to exist, thus preserving the pristine landscapes.  Personally, I hope a sinkhole opens under the offices of the West Marin EAC.  Then we could tell them that we cannot save them or their offices because it would interfere with the natural state of the environment.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

This shouldn't annoy me...

I have been subject to two commercials recently, both of which annoy me with the underlying message. 

The first is a radio commercial from a payday loan/check cashing company.  Now, I understand that they want to push their product and services.  And a humorous ad will normally make people remember it.  In the ad, a man takes a job that sucks because he is in need of funds.  His friend is occupied the entire time by telling him that instead of working for that money, he can use his car as collateral for a loan from this company because he owns the car outright.  The ad is written to be funny and I will admit, I do remember it.  I remember it because it annoys me.  Maybe I'm getting old, but I hate it when people are advised to go into debt instead of getting a job and working hard. 

The second ad is a televised ad.  It has a background soundtrack of a discussion between a mother and son concerning him attending college.  While this discussion goes on, the picture shows a man getting ready to go to work in the morning.  When the son speaks of skipping college, the man shifts into drab overalls and the house shifts to a drab 50s era tract home with bars on the windows and doors.  When the mother talks about going to college, the picture turns to a mcmansion.  As the family in introduced, the same changes occur with the wife and children.  I will give them credit on one item, the family never looks unhappy.  As the ad continues, the man exits the tract home to get into a beater Japanese sedan from the late 80s or early 90s.  Then as the mother talks the car transforms into a luxury SUV and the house into the mcmansion.

This ad is working to inspire parents to send their kids to college after high school.  But here is my problem with it.  Not everyone can go to college, not everyone can be president of the company.  Not everyone can be "highly successful" with a mcmansion and a luxury SUV.  The world still needs plumbers, electricians, cashiers and cooks.  I know a goodly number of people who have college degrees that are doing nothing relating to that degree.  A number of them have expressed that the money and time spent was not entirely worth it, although the parties were epic.  The notion that living in that small tract home, driving a older car and going to a blue collar job is failure is pushed by that ad and it annoys me.  If the teenager is aware that they aren't interested in the "college/whitecollarjob/executiveposition" track, maybe spending that tuition money on a trade school with job placement assistance will be the better option and they might be a happier person. 

I'd really like our children to know that college does not mean guaranteed success, and that many people do lead happy, full lives while working in jobs that require them to have their name sewn onto their uniform.  The reality is that those people have been a huge part of building America.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I spat in the wind...

And felt the bitter sting.  I generally followed the plan, voting No and against the incumbent with few exceptions.  Unfortunately I live in the south SF Bay Area, an area so politically blue that I wonder why republicans run at all sometimes. 

In addition to new taxes being passed, and the country voting for four more years of Obama hoping to redistribute what little change I have left in my pocket, the city of San Jose decided to make the minimum wage $10 within it's borders.  Entertainingly, I am sure that many of the people who voted for this will be shocked when, not only are new jobs not forthcoming in the San Jose borders, but current jobs are lost because businesses have to make up that shortfall somewhere. We'll see how much of a boon this is for the surrounding cities when businesses start moving there, or as more new business start there. 

But, the even more frightening news was that the democrats apparently now own both houses of the state capitol.  So now we have the party with the fiscal responsibility of a 16 year old with a new credit card in full control of the budget.  I can hear the cries now of "for the children" as they put gobs of new programs into place with no financial ability to pay for them.  This oughta be great.  I have got to move...

Friday, November 2, 2012

Ooo, thats gotta sting...

Hizzoner Bloomberg, Champion of the people of NYC, apparently felt that he wasn't held in enough scorn and decided to show really how tone deaf one gets when living in marble halls. So, while significant parts of NYC are still suffering through a lack of power, water (ironic, considering they suffered massive flooding) shelter and dealing with the lovely November weather, Mayor Bloomberg decides that the thing to bring them out of their funk is a really good marathon.  I loved his quote from the news conference:

"You have to keep going and doing things," he said, "and you can grieve, you can cry and you can laugh all at the same time. That's what human beings are good at."

Another words, suck it up and quit yer bitchin...  Amazing what kind of attitude takes over when a politician knows that he isn't running for re-election.  (Hmm, interesting thought when applied to what could come down the pike if someone is re-elected to the White House.)

This apparently fell somewhere south of the expectations of the populace and shockingly, they voiced their displeasure loudly and on national coverage.  So Bloomberg had to do a complete about face and cancel the marathon.  Of course, his explanation is still trying to justify holding the race, but that isn't shocking from a politician.  He can't just come out and say "I apologize, apparently I am a moron."  It might hurt his credibility with the...  Oh, who am I kidding, this guy has none.

All I could think of was Mr Carlson on WKRP:  With god as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Occupy what?

Remember the "Occupy" movement, mainly made up of unemployed idiots criminals people too busy complaining and camping in public parks to get a job?  Well, they have their latest target, where they expect 30 protesters, 10 of which expect to get arrested.  Apparently, the other 20 have appointments that incarceration would make them miss, or they forgot to set their parents DVR to record Survivor.  Where is the dedication?  My, my, how the mighty have fallen.   

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The presidential debate, part two...

Didn't watch it.  I'm sure I didn't miss much. 

We follow only out of a sense of morbid curiosity...

Hmm, that title could refer to our current election cycle or the actual subject of my post, the television drama Revolution.  My wife and I watched it last night and I wanted to exercise my right to not watch after about 20 minutes into the episode.  This grew intensely when we reached about the 45 minute mark.  Since the writers have already thrown the scifi plot device that all electricity fails to work in man made devices, I guess throwing out the rules of physics regarding steam power was no stretch.

Spoilers below.

Once again, we were interested and amused to see the adaptations used when the power goes out.  The shot of a car (relatively intact) hooked up to the team of horses in the town was cool.  The print shop in operation was also cool.  Seeing the steam train in operation with pullmans and a caboose was a treat.  However, it was ruined by the storyline and the characters.  Having two highly known wanted people walking a town crawling with troops was a stretch.  Having as the third member of the scouting troop a young person who has already proved that she cannot be trusted to control herself was just icing on the cake. 

We follow this with the man who "built the army" making a huge error in basic prisoner handling.  However, this was followed by the members of said army deciding that they did not need to post guards on the back platform of the caboose, or apparently even needing to look out the window while Butch and Sundance ride up and make a mess of jumping onto the train, then walk across the top of all of the cars.  I guess they missed that part.  Then we are treated to the worst poker face in televised history, the worst unconcerned reaction by one of the most suspicious characters on TV and a magical crossbow that appears and disappears randomly.  But, best of all was one of them reaching into the firebox of the locomotive wearing a leather glove for protection to pull out a flaming log/bomb. 

I was so annoyed with the characters that I wanted to turn it off.  But my wife has stated that she is invested because she wants to see how some of these idiots die.  Unfortunately, the only one I can see dying at this point is Aaron, since he is known to have one of the lockets.  And even if he gives it to one of the others, he's still going to die because they know he had it.  So really, as with the presidential debates, I will watch only out of a sense of morbid curiosity.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

VP Debate stream of thought.

We start with Benghazi:
Biden:  Nice speech, but deflected on the actual subject.  Somewhat denying what has been reported to congress by actual people working on the ground.
Ryan:  Addressed the deflections but not addressing the issue initially.  Good point on Paris having a Marine contingent, but not Benghazi. 
Note:  Moderator has already lost control. 
Biden has turned to the attack, but has not been coherent.  Ryan is being polite while the moderator is actually questioning Biden.  Ryan has responded, but not convincingly.
Ryan:  Not selling me on the argument, but did bring up good points. 
Biden:  Starts out arrogant.  Now saying Iran’s nuclear weapons program is not really a credible threat.
Ryan questioned on what Romney would do, not really having answers.  Biden has come back with bluster.  Still denying that the Iranian nuclear progress is an issue. 
Biden:  Still arrogant.  Blaming Bush.  Claims saving the auto industry was great.  Claims Romney was not paying fair taxes, and that the economy is doing great, and that Romney will tax the middle class into oblivion.  Is not polite enough to allow Ryan to answer.
Ryan:  Not answering the question with facts, but not horrible.  Rambled a bit with the personal story about Romney.
Biden:  Starting to ramble.  Brings it back to saving the auto industry.  Claims that Romney will still kill the middle class.  Blames republicans.
Ryan:  Answers with details the issues with Stimulus.  Biden still can’t control himself.
Ryan:  Using homey story.  Starting to use facts and numbers, Biden amazingly staying quiet.
Biden:  Starting to come back with actual numbers. 
Ryan comes back to bring up facts and issues, and Biden can’t keep quiet. 
Morphed into social security.  Both blowing bluster, throwing out numbers and scare tactics.  Moderator tried to take back control, did not succeed.
Biden:  Defending Bush tax cut.  Ironic. 
Ryan:  Details the issues with the Obama tax plan.  Still not selling me on their plan, but now other figures are sited.
Biden:  Stating that the small businesses detailed by Ryan included hedge funds.
Now fiasco reigns.
Ryan:  Stating the they will not raise funding, just not cut it.
Biden:  Getting mad, scares the moderator.
Ryan:  Commented well, pointed that we need to be careful to not leave a vaccum that the Taliban/Al Qaida will fill.
Biden:  All clear, I saw it from a helicopter! 
Ryan:  blaming Obama foreign policy.  Not selling the argument. 
Biden still stating that we can leave, all of it is good (He saw it from a helicopter!).  If they can’t take over their own country, too bad.
Ryan pointing out how the real world works.  Biden stating that the Afghans are good to go, and if not, too bad.
Biden:  Obviously pissed that Obama’s policy is getting questioned. 
Ryan:  Pointing out the failures to work the on the issue.  Not showing any real solution or direction.
Biden:  Claiming great work behind the scenes.  Still getting mad.
Ryan:  Still not giving a new insight.  Argument not really going anywhere.
Religion and abortion:
Ryan:  Claiming to be pro-life because of religion, science and fact.  Not selling me on his argument. 
Biden:  Claiming to be a devout catholic, but does not want to push those beliefs onto others of different religion or beliefs.  Not convinced, however, I agree with his argument.    
Ryan:  Not a convincing argument.  Suggesting to bring Roe V. Wade to national vote.  He and I disagree.
Last question: 
Why the negative attack ads (from military person):
Biden:  Acknowledges author, not answering the question, spinning into the attack with all the subtlety of a rusty crowbar.
Ryan:  Starts with thank you to question author, takes cue from Biden and goes on to attack.  Not answering the question either.
Biden:  Still an arrogant ass to the end.
Ryan:  not a good retort.
What is it best that qualifies you as a man to be vp:
Ryan:  Cited honesty, ironic in a politician.
Biden:  Like Obama, wasted time complaining about time. 
Closing Statement:
Biden:  Spinning faster than a top.
Ryan:  Still shoveling more manure than I had to at the school farm in high school.
I was refreshed that some excellent questions were asked by the moderator, but she was just as ineffective as the last one.  The microphones should be hooked up to a timer that shuts them off.
Biden was better than I expected, but did not sell me in any way and really came off as an arrogant ass.  Ryan brought nothing new.  Neither made claims for their side that I believed.  In the end nothing was really decided or changed for me. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sometimes, my priorities are askew...

There are many things in this world to be annoyed at.  Besides Syria turning into the next Mideast quagmire, the eurozone having one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel, there is the continuing violence and tragedy south of our border.  Also, Venezuela decided that they wanted to allow their glorious leader to complete the destruction of their economy and infrastructure. 

Normally, I would look at new stories based in the US and want to rage.  Like the story of Samantha Pawlucy, who was ridiculed by her geometry teacher for wearing a Romeny t-shirt.  Normally I would be asking why this teacher still has a job and if that job status would be different if it was an Obama shirt that was ridiculed.  I might even opine that I find it interesting that the President has not weighed in on the subject, considering that it made the national media. 

Still, in reality, what consumes my annoyance this morning is a television show, Revolution. 

Spoilers below.

My wife and I have been watching this show since it started airing.  I find the idea interesting, despite the obvious science fiction angle concerning the apparent artificial suppression of electrical current flow.  We were interested in how they would portray life after society collapses.  I have seen a number of shows concerning people preparing for the end of civilized society, so I like the idea of seeing 15 years after they have to put their plans into action.  Especially since they usually are prepping for 6 months to a year of survival at best.

I noted in the upcoming episode that the item I immediately thought of was being worked in, steam power.  See I know that the country is littered with heritage railroads, so I knew that it would be brought in at some point.  Since steam has many ways to be harnessed without adding electricity into the mix, I expect in reality it would be fairly prevalent after 15 years.  I also am waiting to see water power harnessed.

So far, we have found that really, while we are still interested in the portrayal of life in this situation, we do not really like the characters.  The only one we do like is Maggie, the British woman.  She is likable, obviously far from home and we genuinely care about where her character goes.  Another is Aaron, the former Google executive, but we are not as attached to him.  The two kids, who are obviously the main focus, annoy us.  The rest of the characters, well, we are just looking at how long they will last before they die.  Which, unfortunately, is what happened to Maggie.  Just as soon as we find out more of her back story, as soon as her presence is explained and we find out what she has to live for, they kill her.  She was, really, the only redeeming character for the show and now we are not sure that we will be continuing to watch.  I like the setting and can deal with the artificial solution to removing electricity from the picture, but with main characters that I actively do not like or care about, I don't give it a high chance of longevity. 

Oh well, I guess I can always just go back to watching the TSA prove that they will always find ways to make all the wrong moves.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Someone has too much time...

Apparently the GOP in Maine has too much time and money on its hands.  They have decided to attack an opposing candidate over... World of Warcraft

Policy proposals?  Nah. 

Experience?  Nope.

Budget plans?  No interested.

Game character in an online game based on a fantasy world peopled by elves, orcs, dragons and fairies?  All over that like stink on sh*t.

Someone at the GOP national headquarters should be discussing the relevance of this information with the state GOP.  Maybe point out to them how much of a joke they are looking to be with the voters.  Might even want to point out that there are actual issues to discuss, like taxes, health care, etc...  Pointing out the flaws in your opponent's plans is even a good idea.  This?  This looks like the GOP is paying interns to play WoW to get the screen captures.  The GOP has generally been characterized as always using yesterdays technology.  This is not how to demonstrate that your party knows how to use the internet.  You are not a frat, stop acting like it.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The presidential debate stream of thought

The Economy plans:  both candidates are blowing air.  Obama keeps going back to Romney’s “5 trillion dollar tax cuts” and won’t move on.
What will you do?  Romney has presented proper facts about the president and stayed on time.  Obama is going to the emotional plea and ran over time significantly.  Romney is also more polite with the host.  Obama has made some good points regarding corporate tax items.  However, Romney has pointed out correctly that more people working bring in more tax revenue.  Romney brought up Solyndra, oh snap!  He shot down the oil company tax breaks by bringing up the green tax breaks being equal to 50 years of oil company tax breaks.
Social security:  Obama tells story of his grandmother, brings in the emotional plea right away.  He turned it into a wonderful story of Obamacare, medicare.  Romney is pointing out the cuts that Obama made to medicare.  Obama has come back with pointing out that Romney’s medicare voucher program will be problematic.  Obama likes the name Obamacare.  Romney has rebutted competently. 
Economy regulation:  Romney has brought up dodd-frank, pointing out the poor clauses in the law.  Obama has come back with how wonderful TARP was.  He has stated that Romney wants to repeal it entirely, which he did not say.  He stated that he wants to fix it. 
Health Care:  Romney has started in on his views, some of which I know are inaccurate.  However, he addressed the Romneycare issue before the president could use it against him.  Obama has brought up the good points of his plan, treatment limits and pre-existing conditions.  Ah, here is the Romneycare example used to justify the Obamacare.  Romney has come back with good arguments, mentioned Scott Browns election.  Romney brought up the damage to the 10th amendment.
Education:  Tie.
Role of government:  Romney scores points for specifically pointing out the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.  Obama referenced Abraham Lincoln, not properly in my opinion.  Obama has gone back to complaining about Romney’s budget.  I am not impressed with Romney’s rebuttal. 
What would you do to fix gridlock in DC?
Romney has pressed the point well showing what has been accomplished in MA.  Obama claims to be responsible for ending the wars, despite the fact that those deadlines were in place before he was president. 
Closing statements: 
Obama:  He is a good speaker and has a great sense of humor.  Still hasn’t sold me.
Romney:  good speaker, pointed out details.  Still hasn’t sold me, but I lean towards him over Obama.
My wife’s winning quote:  They both seemed baffled by each other’s idiocy.

Lack of results? That never stops government...

Today I read an article from the AP (that comes strikingly close to journalism) about a senate subcommittee actually doing its job in a bipartisan way.  I had to check to make sure that no airborne bacon corps were passing my window.

It seems that in the frantic days after the 2001 9/11 attacks (I feel I must differentiate since someone decided to appropriate that anniversary this year) it was recognized that maybe the immense amounts of law enforcement organizations that have infested come into existence in our fair nation should possibly talk to one another occasionally.  So the idea of Fusion Centers was born to fight terrorism.  I am not sure if this preceded the creation of the Homeland Security fiasco Department, but if fell under their purview either way.  So, unknown amounts of money was supplied by congress and Fusion Centers were created in every state.  Currently, congress "thinks" between 300 million and 1.4 billion has been spent by fedgov on this project.  (I wish I could be that vague on my taxes.)  Based on past performance, I would estimate that we are looking at the higher end, not the lower end.  The frightening part is that this is apparently only 20-30% of the funding for these things.  Remember all of those state budgets that were in the red?

Now, what have they found that these wonderful centers for fighting terrorism have accomplished?  Well, in addition to publishing reports on huge amounts of people exercising their first amendment rights, spending questionably and not stopping (or even finding) any actual terrorist threats, not much.  On the other hand, since we have a new tool in the toolbox, it was decided to expand the mission.  Now we use it to fight crime.  So the same people who wrote inane reports on how Ron Paul supporters and returning veterans were a possible threat to the US are going to be trusted to do the same thing for non-terrorist criminal investigations.  This is like asking the guy who burned down his house by feeding an intact two month old Christmas tree into the fireplace to write a report on fire safety. 

Still, the department spokesman tried valiantly to deny that there was possibly a problem:
"Homeland Security Department spokesman Matthew Chandler called the report "out of date, inaccurate and misleading." He said that it focused entirely on information being produced by fusion centers and did not consider the benefit the involved officials got receiving intelligence from the federal government."

See, when the job of the centers is to PRODUCE INFORMATION, it seems, well, stupid to say that the report is inaccurate because it focused on the information that the centers produced.  Its their job, and they should do it well.  Otherwise, all you would need is a conference center for the different departments to meet in, minus the cubicle farm of analysts who appear to live a little too much in Tom Clancy novels and not enough in the real world.  I might suggest some form of benchmarks and job evaluations, since none exist.  However, if you intend to keep this inane operation running, I might want a job.  Better yet, hire Larry Correia as an analyst.  Then the reports would still be wild works of fiction, but much more entertaining and well written.  And they would have monsters.  Oh, and his publisher would need copies, so they couldn't be leaked early. 

So yet another federal level law enforcement organization is effectively entrenched on the public dime.  And despite the scathing report by this committee, not a thing will be done to remove this wart from the nose of our government because congressional spending and common sense rarely go hand in hand.    On the bright side, this entry will likely get me my own file in a fusion center!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Dear Mr Qandil: Please work on your own country and leave mine out of it.

I have been watching the current protests and violence over a really crappy piece of amature film making for several days.  I keep noticing that what is purported to be a peaceful religion is constantly burning down buildings, threatening to kill people and actually killing people.  Normally, I am ambivalent to their issues because generally they burn down their own cities in other countries.  And generally, their death threats are just that, unless someone is stupid enough to visit one of those countries, at which point I site Darwin and call it a day. 

However, when our embassy is violated, I become irate.  When our ambassador and citizens are killed, I go beyond into flat out pissed off.  And when our commander in chief doesn't park a carrier off that coast post haste, I am just beside myself.  This is the reason that I wish we still had battleships in fleet service.  No, they are not practical for modern warfare.  However, when you park a ship in the harbor capable of throwing sixteen inch shells so far that the gunners must take the curvature of the earth into account while aiming, it sends a message.  The Tomahawk Missiles were just added benefit.

Still, I realize that the attack in Benghazi was likely to happen no matter what, since they were well prepared on short notice.  Timing of the attack was just waiting for the opportunity.  I am more disappointed with the lack of security in a country that "lost" almost the entire armoury of the previous standing army.  Overall, I blame our government, from the top down, and will hold them responsible when it comes time to vote in November.

So as I am reading further on the BBC World News website, I see an interview by BBC Arabic's Khaled Ezz El-Arab with the Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandil regarding the unhappiness over the film.

"KEA: When you say a balance between freedom of expression and not insulting other people you know there been a lot of calls recently, not from official corners in the Egyptian government but from other public figures, calling for the US to put laws in action that would prevent such a movie, a similar movie taking place in the future. Do you think this is reasonable to ask the US to do this?
HQ: I think we need to work out something around this because we cannot wait and see this happen again. This is a small group number of people doing irresponsible work and everybody's paying the price for these peoples' work and we have to do all it takes to stop this happening again.
KEA: Just so I've got this right are you calling for the US and other countries to take another look into their existing laws and...?
HQ: I'm calling on them to take the necessary measures to ensure insulting billions of people, one-and-a-half billion people and their beliefs, does not happen and people pay for what they do and at the same time make sure that the reflections of the true Egyptian and Muslims is well in the Western media."

While I will be the first to admit that my country is not perfect, do not suggest that my countrymen and I should change our laws or behaviour just because it might offend the followers of islam in your country.  Do not preach to me that islam as practiced around the world is "peaceful" when its followers are putting people to death for saying something bad about your prophet or depict him in any way.  It has just as much blood on its hands as does all other major religions.  You want to stop the violence?  Try taking all of those islamic leaders calling for the protests and violence and put them in jail for inciting their followers to violence.  That will likely cut down on the violence.  Might bring up property values as well. 

While you may not like it, we have free speech guaranteed in the document that frames our government, in the same entry that guarantees freedom of religion. I do notice that the followers of islam in the US have managed to avoid buring down any buildings or killing anyone.  Amazingly enough, if you want to look for peaceful followers of islam, you apparently can look to America.  Funny, ain't it?

Monday, September 10, 2012

All this technological advancement...

I was reading the news and came across and article about a southern California family that lost everything in their home when it was siezed for forclosure.  The home was boarded up, the contents taken away to the dump.  Only one problem:  They didn't have a loan on the house.  Its a minor detail, I guess, since banks have been doing it for years.  However, this led me down another rabbit hole that i didn't think about, incorrect demolition. 

I saw a story on a house in Little Rock that was incorrectly demolished.  A quick google search showed immediate results in Texas, Pittsburgh and one in Georgia where the demolition company did not relay on pesky thinks like an address written on a document, they had GPS coordinates!  GPS coordinates do you no good when you have no idea what side of the street it is on.  Guess who guessed wrong?  (Perhaps they could speak to Lawdog about GPS...)

Is it really so hard to get an original copy of the order on paper, even, and maybe confirm the address?  Oh, wait, don't tell me, they have an app for that?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Ah, the peaceful utopia...

Annnnd once again we are entertained by the place where Great Britain used to be...

Although the details are light, even lighter if you look at the police website, four men decided that a rural farmstead would be a great place to conduct a burglary.  They were untroubled by the possibility that someone may be home.  After all, this is the very unarmed British Empire. 

This illusion was shattered for them by the farmer and his wife, who were for some reason unwilling to be victims.  And based on what I have read (again, not deeply detailed) they registered their unwillingness to be victims with a legally owned shotgun.  Unfortunately, this is where the laws of Not So Great Britain take over.  Although I applaud the local police for arresting the burglars, they also arrested the victims.  The victims are being charged with "suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm".  The four men intent on burglary have been charged with Burglary. 

So, for those of you playing along, the victims currently are charged with a crime (for defending themselves with a legally owned shotgun) that would see them put in prison for years (3 to 16, depending on the application of law) while the actual criminals stand to spend 6.5 months to 6 years in jail.  And, even if the victims are not found guilty, even if they are found to be justified in their actions, I guarantee that they will never be allowed to keep that shotgun (or any other firearms) for the rest of their lives. 

Don't think so?  Go ask Tracy St Clair Pearce, a 50 year old cancer patient.  When travellers set up camp nearby, they trespassed on her property, destroyed her property and threaten her life when told to leave.  The police response?  Why, you go and confiscate the shotguns owned by the victim.  The shotguns that never left the safe.  The shotguns that were never even thought to be used or mentioned in the altercation.  Those shotguns.  Even better was the statement by the top officer in that department that the police had acted correctly.  The best part was that they were considering revoking the firearms certificate.  For being victimized and calling the police, as people are instructed to do.  And the criminals?  Oh they already planned to move on and basically avoid facing the charges.  Way to go, Britain, that'll show criminals that you mean business!

This is the sad state that has befallen the once great empire.  Sad really.

Update:  Apparently, common sense does prevail, as the victims are not going to be charged.  No mention of returning the shotgun, tho...

I guess it depends on who's buying...

I read today that (apparently) people are up in arms over the fact that the Social Scurity Administration is purchasing 174k bullets for its investigators.  The CNN article quotes several "right wing" bloggers predicting mass homicide.  Interestingly, Pelosi and her crowd are silent about this massive influx of devastating bullets. 

Still, when one combines simple math with camparisons of what various bloggers state is their usual round count when going to the range, we see a different story.  I have never read a blog entry that states a round count of less than 100 rounds.  A number of my favorite bloggers double or triple that, depending on the caliber being used that day.

As the agency states, they have 295 investigators, all of whom will need range time.  The simple math shows that 174000 rounds divided between those agents equates to 589.8305084745763 each, so we'll round to 590.  Figuring that they all use high capacity magazines for their service pistols, we'll say that 90 are reserved for duty use and 500 are for range time.  If they fire 100 rounds per session, that is a mere 5 trips to the range to maintain proficiency with their firearm.  As recent events in NYC showed, proficiency with your pistol is paramount when preserving your life and the lives of those around you requires the use of deadly force. 

In reality, that bullet count seems a little low...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Shades of Nagano...

I wrote parts of this post during the Olympics, but I decided to hold off until afterwards to see the whole product.  Additionally, due to a heavy workload, I had to DVR portions of it.  Still, I can now reflect and give my opinion, as if anyone cares.

During the Olympics in Nagano, CBS had what I could only describe as some of the worst direction that could possibly be used for the production.  Every US and some other counties athletes all had a tragic tale of hardship to overcome to make it to the olympics. Every competition shown had a significant segment for each of those athletes, so that in any given broadcast, it appeared to show 10% competition, 15% commentators and 75% tragic stories of hardship.  CBS got slammed harder than the US Mens Hockey Team for the poor production.

So now we have the London Games of 2012.  The athletes did a wonderful job.  The US Olympic committee did a good job as well, despite (in my opinion) some poor judgement on clothing.  Still, a great showing overall.  London organizers failed to comprehend the importance of ticket sales, but they got that under control as well. 

So that brings us to NBC's coverage.  I watched as the hosts commented at the end of the first day of competition that they had already exceeded the entire amount of video footage that had been shot at the last Olympics in London.  As the games wore on, I noticed that a large number of competitions were not being heavily covered despite NBC using all of their networks.  In fact, I spent a large amount of time waiting for the competitions an little time actually watching them.  Instead, I was treated to Nagano style tragic back stories for the athletes, time spent with one host who was effectively sent on vacation to the UK for several months ahead of time to explore the culture and an hour long treatment on the greatest generation as the fought WWII. 

NBC has stated that they will likely lose money on the Olympics.  My suggestion would be to cut back on the money spent shooting all of the back stories, the culture and the non-sport related items and concentrate on the actual Olympic Games.  That is what we tuned in for.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

US Olympics Committee, proudly supporting the Chinese economy...

I read this today while eating my lunch and nearly saw said lunch again.  The US Olympic committee decided to have Ralph Lauren design the uniforms for the upcoming festivities.  The designs were then manufactured in China.  Approximately $2000 for the men's uniform and $1500 for the womens uniform.  The worst part is that these uniforms look like they were pulled out of a JC Penny catalog from the late 70s.  And berets, not really seen as iconic American headgear.  I guess cowboy or baseball hats don't really go with the Captain and Tennille's heyday styling.  Really, $2K each and this is the best that they could come up with? 

Someone at the USOC should be doing some soul searching right now, not acting arrogant about their "proud partnership with an American company."  Unfortunately, there is no accounting for some people's children. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Geek is strong with this one...

Several months ago while fixing a laptop, the user and I had a discussion that ranged over many subjects.  One of them happened to be the Star Wars saga and the various editions and versions.  I have the original movies in VHS widescreen special edition (numbered, even!).  I commented that I would love to get my hands on the LaserDisk version, since that is the only digital edition that has the original versions as released in the theaters.  <note: I do not have a "Han Shot FIRST" shirt, although I do understand the peeve>  Apparently, his parents were big into the LaserDisk phenomena, so he had them in their collection.  The conversation went on from there and I thought nothing more of it until a came to work several weeks later and found a box sitting on my chair.  What was in it you ask?

Why, this:

And underneath, this:

After I finished hyperventilating, I confirmed that these did, in fact, now belong to me.  Now I just needed a player.  He apparently was happy with the job I did on his laptop.  I emailed a friend to ask about where to get good LaserDisk players, since they haven't made them in well over a decade.  It turned out that his brother had a spare that he didn't need.  Also, free of charge. 

So, after several weeks of delay, the player was added to the entertainment center and we could enjoy the movies.  It was at this point that I found out several interesting facts.  My wife saw the first movie in the theater, whereas I did not see it until 1989 on VHS.  Neither of us saw the second movie in the theater.  Again this was 1989 VHS for me (I did a marathon Saturday) while she has never seen it.  I saw the third movie in the theater, while she has never seen it at all.  Our daughter has not seen any Star Wars movie of any type.  This had to be rectified, asap!

So, for the last three evenings, we have had family geek movie night watching the first three movies in all of their original glory.  I do have to say that LaserDisk is interesting to watch movies on.  I understand why the format died.  Every 15 to 20 minutes you either wait 10 seconds for the player to switch sides or you have to get up and change the disk.  At three disks per movie, that got old.  However, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and many bags of popcorn died.  Now we have to work on the prequels, which I don't think I own, so a trip to WalMart may be in order.  We may also pick up the updated versions of the first three as well.  then I can put the LD version on the shelf next to my letterbox special edition VHS copies of the first three, which I refuse to put into our current VCRs.  Yes, that was plural.  What's your point?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Supreme Court and I disagree...

And in other news, water is wet...

So we have the decision on Obamacare.  The federal government has been given permission to require me to purchase health insurance.  So now we get to see how long it is before government officals start abusing this ruling.  I give it 3 to 5 years.

Remember the last wonderful decision regarding the SC and people's money?  When people said that Eminent Domain wouldn't be used to take private property for commecial interests?  Well, the SC didn't agree.  The results of that decision were both positive (42 states passed laws to prevent that type of shenanegan) and negative (New London is out 78 mil, Pfizer took all of the tax credits before closing shop and the land is still vacant and undeveloped). 

So we have today's decision.  This decision was not made by reading the Constitution as much as it was made by person beliefs.  Ginsburg is the worst when it comes to this, and the recent additions did not disappoint on putting more emphasis on the social agenda than actually doing their job. 

I spent part of the morning reading the decision, as well as my lunch hour.  Generally, the majority decided that since the law of averages will support the theory that you will likely need to purchase health care at some point in your life, opting out of purchasing health care insurance shouldn't be allowed and that the government should be able to penalize you if you do.  They made assumptions about the penalty and decided that, even though it is not stated as a tax in the document, it is a tax and that allows congress to do this.  The assumptions made by them to support this decision are unbelieveable to me, but unfortunately they are the final word.  The fact that Mr Obama has the opportunity, if re-elected, to put one or two more like minded individuals on the bench scares the living hell out of me. 

I give credit to the minority for succinctly pointing out the failure of this decision on page 140 of the decision: 
"It threatens that order because it gives such an expansive meaning to the Commerce Clause that
all private conduct (including failure to act) becomes subject to federal control, effectively destroying the Constitution’s division of governmental powers."

Now that we are stuck with this bloated ball of suck and fail, I look forward to the immense savings on health care costs that will magically appear.  I'm sure that they will, because the president promised that this will save the taxpayer money.  Another fine example of Hope and Change...  I hope when he's finally out of office I still have some change left in my bank account...

Having spent much time researching this piece of... legislation... I still fail to see where cost savings will come from.  You have taken the pot of money being paid for health care, which (unquestionably) fall short of actual costs and you have now forced everyone to pay into the pot, making it much, much larger.  Where, exactly, will the health care industry be inspired (or required) to lower health care costs?  They won't, they will now just get paid (in theory) for more of the people who come into their establishments.  But nowhere in the 900 page law is there a single line that actually requires anything to be reduced, except for the general public's bank accounts or paychecks. 

Mark Mardell of the BBC made a great observation.  This ruling will be good for democracy, because the law originally pissed off so may people that the Tea Party was born and many people who normally would have stayed at home got out and voted.  I am hoping that happens again.  Last time the Democrats took a beating.  I am not thrilled with the prospect of Romney, but once again we have the choice of the lesser of two evils, not the best candidate for the country. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The best firearm safety in the world...

...Is not pointing the gun at your head.  Really, its part of the Four Rules.  Many gun bloggers have covered it, the NRA has programs covering it, I even have a Boy Scout merit badge book that covers this information.  On the other hand, the gentleman involved appears to also have been in the home pharmaceutical supply business, so maybe we can assume that he was an idiot in search of a village.  I wonder if this would qualify for JayG's DGC... 

Checking the rules, nope.  We'll just have to stick with the Darwin Awards for this one.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

I guess he wanted three hots and a cot...

 So I am looking for final results on recent elections in California (I always wait until all the votes are in) and I see the headline below:

Burglar tries to break in Judge Lillian Sing's car
Read more:

Short story: Guy goes into court after failing in his current probation conditions, the judge lets him go with a warning.  He exits the building, breaks into a car in front of two cops (the same crime has was already in court for) and the car turns out to belong to the judge who just cut him a break.  

If that was written into a an episode of Justified or Law & Order, everyone would go "yea, right, that'll happen."  And yet, here we have both a "lesson to the bench" and a "You can't make this shit up" moment all rolled into one.  I wonder if the next judge will let him off with a warning too?  I guess it may depend on where they parked...

Friday, June 8, 2012

Lemme get this straight...

I am supposed to believe that Eric Holder's organization is going to find anything pointing to his boss or co-workers leaking classified data that makes Obama look good?  While I wouldn't call it a conspriacy, since I doubt they would have planned something this stupid, I can't see them putting their full effort into this one.  Wait, these are the same people who brought us Operation Gunwalker, so maybe I should just refer to Hanlon's Razor: 
Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

NIMBY gone wild...

I read this article and really had to laugh, because the only other option is to cry.  A recycling plant that has been there for 50 years has been closed down because people decided to later build their homes nearby.  130 people out of work, the taxpayers out $45 million and the loss of the associated revenue that the plant generated.  While I agree that the lead contamination needed to be contained, I am sure that this could have been done without closing the plant. 

I will be more entertained when, in about 5 years, the local population is complaing that the new businesses that were supposed to fill the void never appeared.  And that $45 million will just be gone at that point...

Another great one slips into legend...

Ray Bradbury has passed away

Many thanks for all of the hours spent in your imagination.  You will be missed.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

And the vote goes to....

Today is our turn to vote in California.  I make sure I vote for no other reason than this:  I can now complain about the system, since I took part.  Since I voted "no" and against the incumbent (I'm looking at you, Feinstein)  on almost everything, I don't know how much I accomplished, but I did my part.  My only "yes" was for term limits being further limited. 

I also meant to write a post on Mayor Bloomberg's idiotic jihad on large drinks, but so many others have covered it so well.  All I can ask is, Mr Bloomberg, have you solved every other problem in NYC and now have too much free time?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

American Public = cash cow

In other news, water is wet....

I read this story and I had to laugh.  As a former NJ resident, I thought all roads had toll booths until I was 12 years old.  Here in the SF Bay Area, tolls have been on all of the bridges since they were built, but on the roadways is a relatively new item.  Of course, that hasn't stopped them from charging exorbitant rates.  They just crow on about how convenient they have made it with the FastTrak devices, removing your cash at the speed of light.  Despite being in IT, I am not thrilled or amazed by the technology. 

But apparently the populace of Houston, at some point, thought that their politicians could be trusted.  They believed that the various government agencies would see this cash rolling in hand over fist and not think, "Wow, this will be great until it ends.  Oh well."  Instead, when the end was looming, the politicians simply changed it with a line item in a council meeting, Section H, paragraph 6, sub paragraph Q, line 23.  With the stroke of a pen, a majority of "Aye"s and a clap of the gavel, a tax with a defined lifespan was converted into a tax for life. 

I was almost surprised that they pulled this off, since I thought that it was still legal in Texas to shoot politicians for what amounts to thievery.  However, checking the statues, apparently that was abolished.  I say almost surprised, since I had already read the Texas Legislature Operational Procedure, as explained by the esteemed Professor Lawdog, from a dissertation by Professor Tole

So, my question is this:  How is it that these people are allowed to operate like this and still somehow do not qualify to be prosecuted under the RICO statute?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Got my sample ballot...

Our sample ballots arrived Monday.  After reading through them the first time, I see only one item that will get a yes vote, one moving California Legislature term limits down to 12 years from 14 years.  Other than that, I see a lot of voting no and against the incumbent.  Unfortunately I live in a seriously Blue county, so my vote against Feinstein will be more or less spitting into the wind.  Still, not participating allows those who would rule over you to remove the right because nobody participates.  I have always felt that if you fail to participate in this process, you have no right to complain about the outcome.  So I continue to vote against people like Feinstein and Supervisor Ken Yeager (Mr Anti-Happy Meal Toy.  But wait...) despite not having a chance to change their re-election.  Yeager ran unopposed last time, which I think is a shame. 

I found this map to be really interesting, especially since the tantrums thrown by the OWS group claim to be representing the the many vs the few rich despots.  Note how much red is involved as opposed to the blue.  Note where all of the blue is located to see exactly how much of the country actually elected our president.  Obama lost most of the counties in the country, but won specific counties with high population counts.  Food for thought to those of you who live in those areas and don't vote.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Finally, time to break out the grill.

I finally broke out the grill this weekend, for what will hopefully be a full summer of grilling enjoyment. 

Several years ago my wife put aside the money to get be a new grill, since our current one was effectively dead.  It was picked up second had on Craigslist and had a good base to it.  It was a Brinkman stainless steel grill that had been used hard by it's previous owners.  While the exterior was in great shape, the interior was shot.  The burners were full of extra holes, the heat shields for the burners were mostly rust and baked in food remains, the grills had no coating other than rust and the control manifold heated up better than the cooking area.  Generally, it looked pretty on the outside, but the inside was held together by rust and habit.

After acquiring the grill and evaluating the parts list, we established that it would cost almost $200 to replace the parts, not counting shipping, and the parts are only available from Brinkman.  So we went down to Wal-Mart to see what was available for that cost and ended up with a Charbroil unit that cost about the same and had more features. The other grill went to a good home where it will be more useful as recycling.

While I could have broken the grill out earlier in the season (if not just kept it in use all winter) I waited until now because, well...  I can't think of a good reason, really.  While I don't grill in the rain, it isn't really a climate where you would pack up the backyard at first snowfall since we get no snow.  Still, for the last two years, come November I clean the grill.  I make it nice and shiny and then put the cover on for the winter, leaving it until April or May.  I don't know why but it seems the thing to do.

So yesterday we kicked the season off with Hebrew Nationals and hamburgers.  Not stunning, I'll admit, since last year it started with seasoned steak topped with chopped garlic and a tab of butter.  However, this year's inaugural meal was still good accompanied by some baked beans chips and iced tea.  Next weekend will be the steaks.  Or maybe a tri-tip...

Monday, April 30, 2012

Nobody read the fine print...

It seems that here in California, anyone who would like to see political shenanigans usually blamed on the republican party being committed by the democrats.  Shocking, I know.  But, unfortunately, nobody read the fine print when Prop 25 was passed in 2010, there was no "What if?" session done by those drafting the proposition.  Prop 25 suspends lawmakers pay if a budget is not passed on time.  However, while there is language regarding a balanced budget, there is no entry or section requiring that anyone competent in basic math actually check the figures.  So, as a consequence, despite the fact that last year someone (a democrat, even!) with a basic comprehension of math examined the budget and saw that sections of it were based on Phantom Revenue (also known as Unicorn Farts that shockingly never appeared) and said no, the inevitable happened.  The governor signed it.  And the Democrats sued.  And now have won.  This is my shocked face.

For those who are not familiar, this piece of legislation looked good on the surface.  However, there are always hallmarks that should be warning signs. 
1.  It was supported by the public employees unions.  Generally, if you don't like high taxes, anything being pushed by unions should be viewed with extreme trepidation.  And only touched with protective gloves.
2.  It was supported by the LA Times, the SJ Merc and the SF Chronicle.  I would check, double check and triple check everything recommended by this many major newspapers in California.  And then I would still likely not entirely believe it.  The term "Journalistic Integrity" is kept offsite at these publications, along with the fact checking department. 

So, we passed a piece of legislation that promised to ensure that balanced budgets were always here.  However, in addition to the lack of an independent math checking requirement, they failed to write in anything about who gets to determine if the budget was passed on time.  So it defaults to... the legislature... 

Imagine this, a second grade classroom:
Teacher - "Class, did you all do your homework?"
Class - "Yes Teacher."
No paperwork is forthcoming. 
Teacher - "Did you all do good enough to earn an A?"
Students - "Yes Teacher."
No paperwork is forthcoming.
Teacher - "Excellent, I'll mark that in my grade book.  Lets all go have ice cream."

This, my friends, is California politics.  Have some ice cream.

Ah, the incorruptable TSA...

Well, we see once again that the TSA is doing a top job.  While I give credit to the TSA employees that actually did their job and caught the drugs, it still doesn't change my view.  Given the choice, I will still take the train, since they told the TSA to go away. 

But once again here we have members of the TSA doing a fine job following in the footsteps of the ATF (purveyors of the finest firearms the drug cartels could buy), working with known drug runners to effectively run drugs through the lines while not inconveniencing anyone else in line.  Do you know what kind of disruption it causes when a suitcase full of drugs is found on the conveyor?  The paperwork alone takes days!  These employees were just doing their best to ensure that your TSA experience was as quick as possible.

Amazingly, I note that TSA Blogger Bob has nothing to say about the subject.  This is my shocked face...

Friday, April 27, 2012

Are beer firms to blame for Native American drink woe?

This news article from the BBC actually has a refreshing view from both sides of the fence, although much more time is given to those filing the lawsuit than those on the other side. 

My view agrees with the general store owner on this one.  The beer sales in this small town are legal.  The people buying the beer have made a conscious decision to buy and consume the beer.  While I fully support Native American tribes working to better the life of their members (because god knows they have been generally screwed over for the last 200+ years) this is generally the wrong way to do it.  Blaming the beer companies for the state of your reservation will not solve the issue.  Will a big payoff from the beer companies solve the problem?  Nope.  Your tribe will have a lot of money, which when dispensed to the members of the tribe will be used to...  buy beer.  They may have to drive farther to get it, since you will have bankrupted the store owners, but it will still happen.  In fact, you will likely create more crime in the form of bootleggers who will charge much more money for their services and product. 

Do I have a better solution for you?  No.  However, suing people for conducting legal business transactions is not the solution to your problems.  Unless you live in California, then it appears to be a way of life.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Easy to remember...

Like most men, I have a hard time remembering certain dates.  Most birthdays slip by me unnoticed, including mine, except for my wife's which is very close to Valentine's day.  My parent's birthdays, my siblings birthdays and even my daughter's birthday require a nudge from my wife.  Birthday gifts for others are often as much a surprise to me as they are to the recipient.  Of course, most guys know certain dates off the top of their heads.  First day of Deer Season?  Check.  Start of the NHL Regular season?  Check.  Mom's birthday?  Ummmm......

If you have a hard time remembering date that are important to your spouse, some can be strategically planned so that you cannot forget them.  While children's birthdays are hard to do (and I question the sanity of people who can plan that...) other dates are not.  For instance, My wedding anniversary falls on April 15, which means that as long as I am a tax paying citizen of the United States, I will never forget my wedding anniversary.  Ever.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

NAFTA does what?

Yesterday I had to ship a laptop computer to Canada.  It took me two hours to set it up and add all of the programs.  It took me four hours to complete all of the paperwork and when I got to FedEx, I still had to correct some of it.  Really, was all of this needed?  The real entertaining part is that if I was to get on a plane with the same laptop to fly in, have lunch with the recipient and then fly home without the laptop, no questions or paperwork would be required.  Now I remember why I normally have the shipping department handle international shipments...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I've just made a tactical error...

While driving to lunch, my wife was offering advice on my driving. 

I replied that I was accellerating to the speed limit uphill and that made it seem like we were going faster than we were actually travelling.

She replied that she was just giving me information and followed up with this question:  "Does it sound like I'm bitching?"

I answered: "Yes."

Monday, March 26, 2012

Now I have to read the book....

I went to the theater this weekend to see "The Hunger Games".  I was one of the few in the group that has not already read the book, so this was completely fresh to me.  I have to say that I really liked it and can recommend it.  No, I do not think there were any Oscar winning performances there, but I do believe that all of the actors hit their marks well.  Woody Harrelson did an excellent job and Donald Sutherland showed that he can quietly play malevolent evil frighteningly well.  I was entertained and engaged for two hours, which is what I look for in a movie.  I also enjoyed talking to the others about the books afterwards.  So, in a turning of the tables, I am now borrowing a book from my daughter's collection, instead of the reverse.

Burning bridges, thermite edition...

A now former co-worked was let go on Friday.  I can't say that I was surprised.  When management communicates to you that your attendance is not up to snuff (coming in late, leaving early and "working from home"), the best plan of action normally is to adjust, accept that you cannot get away with it any more and get on with life.  I have found that this philosophy has served me well in the past when applied to all aspects of my employment.  I have been fired one time (I was 19 and it was a learning experience.) and as a contractor been removed from contract twice.  In both of the contracting positions I was not aware that there was an issue, so I was unable to adjust to expectations.  These were also learning experiences, especially about office politics and communication up the chain of command.  Going to war with said chain of command is not really an advisable plan.

When you are aware that your employment is going to be ending, that it will not be your choice for that employment to end and that you cannot change this outcome, you have several options.  One is to take all personal items home, preferably quietly.  Another is to clear all personal information that may be on the work computer.  One that I learned the hard way is to make sure you have all information on your 401k and other plans that may exist.  While you can normally get that information from the HR department, it is an awkward situation. 

One thing that you should refrain from doing is giving in to the rage that your situation may raise.  Gorilla stomping the brand new, top of the line laptop that was recently issued to you (and leaving clear bootprints on top) is really not the brightest of moves.  Taking a hammer to the new company cell phone is also not a good option.  Also, taking these actions where you are on on camera is really just, well, stupid. Generally, these actions are frowned upon.  Especially since they have not issued your last check to you yet.  You likely will not get a letter of recommendation either. 

On the other hand, it was interesting to watch the slow motion train wreck as it happened.  I even had time to make popcorn.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

If the reporting was even...

CNN reports that Israel has conducted airstrikes in Gaza, killing 15 and injuring dozens.  What I note is interesting is that Israeli strikes merit immediate headlines and reporting from the press, but the 90 rockets launched by the occupants of Gaza beforehand didn't merit a single word of reporting beforehand.  While it is mentioned in the report, it is downplayed in comparison to the Israeli response.  Here is a perfect example of why I think that any reporter mentioning "journalistic integrity" should be horsewhipped through the town square. 

Point of interest to those claiming that Israel is the aggressor here.  In 2011, 680 rocket and mortar attacks came from Gaza into Israel.  If the residents of Gaza would like Israel to stop the airstrikes and occasional ground offensive, maybe they should just stop launching rockets and mortars.  It's a crazy thought, I know, but maybe it's time to change the strategy from putting civilian lives in danger for the sake of headlines and actually getting on with rebuilding Gaza for people to live in comfortably.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

It's amazing and depressing...

Here I sit in the heart of the Silicon Valley working away.  Today I have addressed issues in China, Malaysia, India, Poland, Brazil and Mexico.  This is in addition to locations all over North America.  The wonders of our modern world mean that I work, technically, all over the world.  However, I never leave my office to complete this work.  Its a small disappointment that I regularly communicate with people on the other side of the world, but my chances of meeting them in person are exceptionally slim. 

On the plus side, I pick up a new pistol next week (thank you, CA 10 day waiting period...) which I really would not be able to do in almost any of the countries that I "worked in" today. 

Password security fail...

It appears that one of the most talented young minds in Euorpe has fallen afoul of his school.  He is a terribly intelligent young man who, at the age of 14, has already developed 6 apps for smartphones, is the managing director of his own web design company and last year was hand picked to attend the Apple conference.  Unfortunately, he is also, well, 14.

He has admitted to hacking into the systems at his school and acting like a teenager.  This has earned him a suspension followed by an expulsion.  I do not blame school staff at all for the response.  However, there is a small bit that is being downplayed by said staff. 

It seems that the passwords were gained by the amazingly difficult task of looking at the whiteboard in the IT room at the school.  The school administrator claims that the passwords listed are just examples, not actual passwords, and the child used that information to guess his way into the system.   Even if that is the case, which I doubt, passwords (or password examples that can lead a teenager down the path to the real ones) should not be on a whiteboard.  Ever.  I get annoyed when I find people storing passwords in text files or on post it notes under their desk phone.  But putting that info on a whiteboard where anyone walking by an open door can look is just plain stupid.  This is the type of mentality that allowed Kevin Mitnick to accomplish everything that he did before getting arrested.  While he was skilled as a hacker, he was far more skilled in social engineering to accomplish access.  We have the same thing here, only easier. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tis a slippery slope, Mr Holder...

The Attorney General believes that it is legal to... how did he put it...  use "Targeted Killings" against US citizens who are suspected of plotting to kill Americans. 
"Let me be clear: An operation using lethal force in a foreign country, targeted against a U.S. citizen who is a senior operational leader of al Qaeda or associated force, and who is actively engaged in planning to kill Americans, would be lawful," he said.
He even states that there are criteria that must be fulfilled:
The U.S. government must have determined that the individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against America; capture of the suspect is not feasible; and the operation would be conducted within the principles of the law of war.
Holder argued that al Qaeda has the ability to spring surprise attacks and is considered to be continuously planning against to attack on America. Therefore, the law allows for striking even before the "precise time, place, and manner of an attack becomes clear."
The issue here is that the person in question is only suspected of planning.  Not proved to be in a court of law, just suspected to be.  No due process, no trial.  If they think someone is planning an attack and is not on US soil, the can assasin...  Oh wait, use a targeted kill on the suspect.

Lets examine some of those words:
Assassinate - According to Mirriam-Webster, the second definition is "to murder (a usually prominent person) by a sudden and/or secret attack, often for political reasons."
Due Process - Due process is the legal requirement that the state must respect all of the legal rights that are owed to a person.

Based on what I read, Targeted Killing appears to be suspiciously like assassination.  And since the people in question would be US citizens, this seems to violate the Due Process guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment quite clearly.  Additionally, since we are not at war with an actual country at this time, any targeted killings of US citizens outside the US using the "principles of war" would be suspect at best.  Top this with the "I know they will commit a crime, just not where, when or how" aspect and we have a recipe for disaster. 

To the best of my knowledge, US citizens do not give up their right the moment they leave US soil.  With the ambiguous criteria laid out by the AG, in addition to no judicial/grand jury oversight, this starts us down the slippery slope mentioned in the title.  Since this is the same AG that brought us Fast and Furious as well as deciding not to prosecute the Black Panthers for voter intimidation, I am a uneasy that he would be in charge of making policy like this.  Actually, it scares the hell out of me.  When you combine this with the head of Homeland Security's decision making, I truly fear for our citizens.