Saturday, November 26, 2011

Random Musing

Tea party and Occupation might have a common enemy but they don't even realize it: corruption of political power. Because they come at it from radically different angles, they just might be irreconcilable because of their own obtuseness, but that might not be all bad. Woe be the power of the man who can deceive both to follow.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Phrase of the Day: Facebook Telephone

Facebook telephone: The process of a story getting messed up not because of word of mouth, but because others might not know the background to the story and thus misinterpret it completely.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Eulogy to the Heroic

There comes a moment in the lives of very few men and women when they accept, without emotional bias, that events have become larger than any one man, or even one thousand. In those moments comes a grim determination to do what they can to help save others for as long as luck, fate, and their maker allows. This acceptance of reality doth create heroism and bravery.

Seemingly randomly, as events subside, some come to meet their maker, while others are allowed to persist and return to life. Invariably, those who have faced their end will tell all that they are not the hero, rather the heroes are those who faced hopelessness and lost. Yet the living remain heroes, for it takes much heroism to face death and still push forward, but it takes even more to survive and accept the gift of life again.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Disliking the 2012 Tea Leaves

Horrifying thought. For the next 15 months, the Dems repeatedly force the GOP to deliver what the Tea Party wants, knowing full well that the GOP cannot do so minus either the Senate or POTUS. Tea Party disapproval leads to political fratricide, which disrupts a unified front against the left, and which could in turn destroy the Tea Party from within.

Democrats May Have Just Snatched Victory from Defeat

24 hours ago, I thought Republicans had dropped any blame for default squarely in the laps of the Democrats. Democrats are better at playing chicken, though. The "compromise" being discussed tonight is a big pile of chicken poop, but likely necessary to forestall default now that it is out there. But Democrats understood a very important strategic fact. They can afford to piss off their supporters. The GOP cannot afford to piss off the Tea Party.

The Tea Party is full of Washington veterans, but its life blood is the passionate, relative newbies who lean towards Republicans because of shared values, but who expect the GOP to toe their line. They state a willingness to go to war against any Republican who doesn't toe that line. And they didn't get what they wanted in this deal.

This could have a two-fold effect. First, it is going to turn Tea Party rage right of center. Oh, they won't be anymore supportive of Obama, Reid, Pelosi, et al. And they'll still fight hard to unseat Obama. But this will split their rage. There will be some cannibalism towards individuals on the right. And that split focus is precisely what Obama needs. If the Tea Party has a singular, laser-like focus on him in the coming year, he is in trouble. But if they are sniping at the right, too, that's just enough to give him some wiggle room and to sew together a narrative to use against the Republican candidate.

Second, this might end up being the shatter point for the Tea Party. Like the Republican Revolution of the mid-1990's eventually experienced, this is a point where the realists, the idealists, the self interested, and the national interest types all move in different directions and shear the movement apart.

There is still time, and I acknowledge that I could completely misunderstand the Tea Party. But the GOP is going to be hard pressed to pull a better deal from the fire at this point.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Large Teen Fight in the Streets of Fort Atkinson?

I'm starting to see some information filter in about a sizable (50 kids?) fight in the streets of Fort Atkinson tonight between local kids and kids from possibly Watertown. Can't verify much. I am mostly writing this because I challenge the Madison/Milwaukee media to look into this. I know that you both claim Jefferson and Walworth county as your own, but you both do a miserable, miserable job of covering those counties unless someone is dead. And I'm told that, even then, you aren't so good at it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Choo Choo Barrett

Tom Barrett has been begging for a toy train like a child at Christmas in 1959.

He's finally gotten his wish.

Never mind that this line makes no logistic or financial sense. Tommy wanted a train, and he finally got one. And it took some foot stomping and screaming.

I'm fine with Milwaukee's boondoggles as long as the stay Milwaukee's. I do oppose this line ever seeing a single state dollar. Want it Milwaukee? Fine. You own it. Keep the rest of us out of it.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Uhhh, No.

I am flummoxed by this:

While the neighbor succeeded in scaring off the bear, Conway said the Game Commission does not recommend shooting at bears, especially in heavily populated areas.

Instead of firing a weapon, you should "yell, scream and holler" at the bear, lifting your arms to make yourself appear bigger, Conway said. You can also throw rocks or sticks at the bear if it's not scared off by the screaming, he said.

The bear was interested in a 2 year old holding candy. If a bear approaches my two year old for ANY reason, I'm not firing two shots into the ground first. My first shot will be right between that predator's eyes. And the second. And the third. Until I'm out of bullets or my two year old is safe because that threat is dead.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Have We Created a Culture of Tornado Death?

This year has been unreal for tornado deaths. Up to this point, we've chalked that up to some really terrible outbreaks that have gone through some heavily populated areas. But I think a little perspective is in order. This is the worst year for tornado fatalities since 1950, IIRC. 1950. In 1950, there was no storm prediction center issuing slight, moderate, and high risks of tornadoes. Tornado warnings gave scant prep time, and were often locally prompted by law enforcement, not from a far away radar scanning storm movement. People only had a few TV and radio from which to monitor the situation, and when they could give information, it wasn't good. Yet this is the worst year of fatalities since then.

It is safe to say that fatalities would be bad this year no matter what. But should we really be approaching the fatalities of an age when people literally did not know there was a tornado coming, let alone possible, until it was on their doorsteps? It is somewhat illogical to think that could be the case. So what has changed?

Well, for one, the amateur storm chaser has been glorified for about two decades, since average people started getting access to quality cameras and, more importantly, camcorders. They are always introduced with a disclaimer, but always glorified. But why haven't we seen a steady growth of deaths with the growth of amateur chasers? They are, after all, practically a dime a dozen these days. I am even formerly one of their numbers.

Well, to start with, most amateur storm chasers have just enough knowledge to not be a danger. Most people crazy enough to go out in their car after a storm have just enough knowledge to keep themselves safe. In some cases, they have the angels on their shoulders, and in others, they know enough to understand what a storm is presenting them and they react appropriately. So if it it isn't the storm chasers, what is it?

A few things have come together in recent years to create a "perfect storm," if you will. First, more and more shows on cable are showing tornado chasers who get very close to or right into a tornado. On its own, that's not enough, though, or this would have happened after the movie Twister. But add in the fact that anyone can publish their own video on the net, and now you have opportunity to be famous. Now, add into that the fact that every other person has a video camera on their phone, and you have a problem.

Now, people with very little or no understanding of storms are taking video of storms. The immediate example in my head is the Fort Atkinson woman who was taking video of what she thought was a tornado as her young teenage son implored her to take shelter. That son was precisely right. Even if it was a tornado, it was dark and she had no way of determining what the tornado was doing. She was lucky. Extremely lucky. Others haven't been so lucky. I see more and more video from people that get totally surprised by tornadoes, video of them diving for safety as the winds destroy their surroundings.

Our glorification of storm chasing, combined with the self promotion capabilities of the net, and the high def phone camera in so many pockets today, as created a new class of amateur chasers. Actually chasers is a misnomer because the tornadoes find them. And they have once heard of tornadoes, so they have just enough information to be dangerous - to themselves. There is going to be no way to measure this, but I am confident that a number of this year's fatalities have died because they had that phone camera out at a time that their butts should have been ducking and covering in a safe place.

I want to be clear that I am not disparaging all of this year's fatalities. Many, many people this year have done the right thing but had no chance. But this year should not be the deadliest year since 1950. We have gained too many advantages on tornadoes in that time span. Some minority of victims had to have been doing the wrong thing, and every person caught flat footed videotaping a storm does not live. There is a clear problem here, but we just aren't seeing it yet.

Friday, April 01, 2011

JoAnne Kloppenburg: Jim Doyle and Barack Obama did not find her qualified for the judiciary. Why should you?

Wisconsin's spring election is just days away, and the biggest race on the ticket is between constitutionalist incumbent David Prosser and activist JoAnne Kloppenburg. It is a race that is going down to the wire, even though in normal times, it would not even be close. But the unions seem to have received assurances that Kloppenburg will decide on cases in their favor, and 3rd party groups are running sleazy ads on her behalf, putting the relatively small population of spring undecided voters in play.

While watching this video by Daily Takes, one line, which I am paraphrasing, struck like a lightning bolt: JoAnne Kloppenburg: Jim Doyle and Barack Obama did not find her qualified for the judiciary. Why should you? That absolutely needs to be repeated over and over and over again. It is acknowledged that there is a left vs. right aspect to this race. But if you are a responsible voter, how can you justify voting for someone that even two executives, who should be her supporters, passed over for the judiciary?

So say it often these last remaining days: JoAnne Kloppenburg: Jim Doyle and Barack Obama did not find her qualified for the judiciary. Why should you?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Barbershop Politics, Wisconsin April 5th Election Edition

I love going to the barber and just listening to the political discussion. The discourse is very different from what it is in more wonky places, and it can shed some light on what average voters are thinking and saying. This morning I had the chance to listen in, and while the conversation was a bit limited, here are a couple of things that I learned.

+ The shop had real difficulty remembering JoAnne Kloppenburg's name. But that is not necessarily a good sign for Justice David Prosser because it seems that the sleazy 3rd party tactics on behalf of Kloppenburg are sticking in people's minds. In addition to the union turn out, if these people enter a voting booth, they might be voting "not Prosser."

+ There was a sense that it wasn't Governor Walker's place to end collective bargaining for most things for government employees. At the same time, there was no anger about it, either. I think that's one that only the unions will hold onto tightly until the Governor is eligible for recall.

+ President Obama has been tuned out.

+ The average voter right now has a lot of confused facts, from basic to big. At this stage, I think that plays into the hands of the chaos strategy being played out by the unions.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Maybe Some Fleebaggers Are Signaling for Help?

One of the more baffling trends to emerge from the Illinois 14 the past several days has been the conflicting messages that have been coming out of their camp. At first I thought it was dissension, but then my trusty dog Lassie started to bark at an image on TV of Mark Miller. According to Lassie, certain Senators are in danger and being held against their will and are trying to signal us with their bizarre behavior. Oh yeah, and Timmy Cullen is in the well (joke stolen from a Rock County yard sign).

Reminder: We Are a Republic

For the past several weeks, the "This is What Democracy Looks Like" slogan in Madison protests has been grinding on me. I've ignored it because we do colloquially refer to ourselves as a democracy. We are not, however. We are a Republic with representative government. The Founding Fathers did not trust pure democracy because it was vulnerable to the passions of the people, i.e., mob mentalities. Thus, they placed checks and balances on even democracy with our Republic form of government. So I say, if that is what democracy looks like, then I think maybe the Founders were right after all. And maybe some teachers should brush up on their civics.

Friday, March 04, 2011

WIAA Buying TV Commercials?

I just saw a commercial from the WIAA on WKOW promoting sportsmanship. As a former high school athlete, I'm all for sportsmanship. I don't care where the money comes from, but should the WIAA be buying ANY TV commercials on the subject? Especially at an hour when their student athletes should be sleeping in preparation for a new day of learning? Push it down to the coaches, WIAA. It'll be cheaper and a hell of a lot more effective.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

The Right, Jealous?

I am finding it strange that so many protesters in Wisconsin are directing class warfare themes at the right. I can tell you that the right is not driven by class warfare, and I can tell you who absolutely cannot survive without it: Union Bosses. Their entire power and place in society is dependent upon stoking the fires of jealousy and class warfare. If the people they represented actually realized that they don't have it bad at all, they'd be a little more willing to consider life without their mandatory union dues. So rank and file union members, consider this. If I wanted your job, I'd already have it. It didn't take much exploration of the public sector (and I did explore it) for me to realize that I would resent the absence of meritocracy, though. The next time you want to toss your class warfare themes this way, stop a moment to consider the fact that your real bosses in the unions, most of whom make 6 figures, are utterly reliant on you believing those very class warfare themes.

It is 10 pm...

Do you know where your Wisconsin Democrat State Senator son is, Mr. and Mrs. Erpenbach?

Five more Suggestions for Clearing the Capitol

Again, stolen by me from my Twitter Feed:

+ Free Scooby Doo marathon in Lisa Link Peace Park.
+ Klieg lights and greatest speeches of 'The Original Hitler' George W. Bush at 120 Db.
+ Announce that zombie Nixon and Dick Cheney are brain eating their way into the building.
+ Have Jimmy Carter negotiate their right to stay in the capitol.
+ Set up Koch Bros. dunk tank on King St.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

5 Suggestions for Clearing the Capitol

Stolen by me from my Twitter Feed:

+ Spray bottles filled with soapy water. Cats hate them, and they at least lick themselves.
+ Hand out fliers announcing Gordon Hintz appreciation day at The Rising Sun.
+ Have Glenn Grothman sprint through the capitol and up East Wash.
+ Tell remaining protesters there is free love being served at the Brat.
+ Hand out very limited time Groupons for free "incense" at The Pipefitter on State.

It Is 10 pm...

Do you know where your Wisconsin Democrat State Senator son is, Mr. and Mrs. Erpenbach?

A Crazy Wednesday in Madison?

We shall see. The rumor mill is definitely grinding some grain tonight.

Twitter is Almost Too Fast

I've been dipping my toe in the waters of the Twitterverse the past couple of weeks, trying to understand the culture and get my tweetiquette down pat. While I can already see the advantages an instantaneous service like this provides, in some ways it can almost move faster than information can appropriately processed sometimes. The unverified info and the instant analysis can be dangerous there.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Exposing "The Wisconsin Lie Exposed"

Here's the nut graf, just in case you don't read the article.

Gov. Scott Walker says he wants state workers covered by collective bargaining agreements to “contribute more” to their pension and health insurance plans. Accepting Gov. Walker’ s assertions as fact, and failing to check, creates the impression that somehow the workers are getting something extra, a gift from taxpayers. They are not. Out of every dollar that funds Wisconsin’ s pension and health insurance plans for state workers, 100 cents comes from the state workers.

This is purely an argument in semantics, yet it is sweeping the left in this state. First off, no, it does not come from state workers. The taxpayers of Wisconsin fund the compensation packages of this state's employees. There is no magic monkey who is grinding an organ on State Street (insert Assemblyman Hintz joke here) to create the money that goes to this compensation for employees. It comes from taxpayers. It is on the state budget.

Second, the author goes on to talk about deferred compensation. In doing so, he makes a false correlation between compensation and wages/salary. Your compensation is the sum of your wages/salary plus benefits. These monies clearly fall under "benefits". These monies would not fall to anyone's salary/wages if they were suddenly ceased. They would disappear from their compensation packages. When my employer cut 401k matching and when they increased my share of health care, they did decrease my total compensation. State and local workers are going to face a decrease in total compensation, yes. That's THE WHOLE POINT. The state needs to pay its bills by saving money. But they are trying to reduce (not eliminate) the impact on the cash flow of these employees as a whole.

Third, I'm really beginning to think the budget repair plan didn't go far enough. Too many people are living in la-la land. Give them a 401K with no match. They can drop out completely to save money that way (also known as cutting off the nose to spite the face). Let them pay the state average insurance premiums paid in the private sector. Remove their civil service protections. Let them see what it is like out here in the real world so they can ponder whether all of this was really, really worth it.

Another Distinction: WI Unions v. Middle Eastern Protestors

If I were a protester in the Middle East, with my anger emanating from the fact that it is getting very difficult to provide staple foods to my family, I would have a difficult time finding solidarity with Wisconsin protesters who would still eat quite well, have nice houses in reasonably safe neighborhoods, who drive home in their nice cars to their cable, internet, TiVo, NetFlix, subscription to the New York Times, etc., etc., etc, and don't have to worry about their own government bombing them. I wonder if there are any of those protesters out there in the Middle East.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Clarifying Questions on Wisconsin's Budget Repair Bill and Public Unions

I'd like to take the opportunity to distill down some of the issues and questions that many in Wisconsin have about the ongoing union conflict. So without further ado:

1. Do you pay into your retirement plan?

Many of the union members protesting at the Capitol do not, or don't pay very much. Despite the fact that they are supposed to, in many of their contracts, most to all of their contribution is paid for by their employer. The state is asking that they pay 5.8% into their plan, and the state essentially matches it. If you have a 401K, you may have already elected to pay 6% or more of your gross into your plan, with little or no company match.

2. Are your retirement benefits guaranteed?

If you have a 401K, they likely are not as they depend on your investments and the market. For most of those protesting at the Capitol, they are guaranteed because they have a pension plan, a rarity outside of government these days because of their extreme cost.

3. Do you find your health care plan expensive?

Chances are, you do. The reason for this is because the cost of health plans have grown as the ability of medical science to heal you with technology and medicine has grown. Most of those protesting do not find their insurance expensive because they are are paying a very small percentage of the price of their plans. Most employers can only afford to offer insurance by increasing the percentage share with employees or going to lower quality plans, or both. Many of the teachers carrying signs on the square have very nice plans that are even more expensive than they need to be because their union requires that school districts buy the insurance plans from them at a higher than market price.

4. Do you and your coworkers get to regularly negotiate a contract with your employer?

Unless you are union, you do not. Yet the protesters in Madison claim they are being sold into slavery ... by being put into a situation similar to yours.

5. Do you have very strong protections built into the law to protect your job?

You almost certainly do not. Yet the protesters on the square do, and they will not lose them with the budget repair bill. Their civil service protections, those laws that lead people to believe that a government job is a job for life, will still be in place, and a grievance system will also be in place.

6. Has your employer ever had to cut wages/benefits across the board or have layoffs during tough times?

Many of you have. Most of those on the square have not. They have had very small sacrifices to make, such as furloughs, but in exchange for this bill, they will neither have to face a layoff nor face any more furloughs. All for modest increases in retirement and health care that don't even bring them up to what you are likely paying for the same things, in order to make their employer, the State of Wisconsin and/or their local government, solvent.

7. Have you ever been able to take 4 sick days and publicly flaunt yourself for your employers to see without facing immediate termination?

Those on the square have just done it, and they don't feel there are any consequences to their actions because their union will protect them. And they are largely correct, no matter what happens to this bill. Their job security will still be extremely strong.

8. Why are local public employees included in this?

Because local communities receive shared revenue from the state. The state will almost certainly have to reduce the level of revenue that goes back to local communities, and this will give those local communities the same ability to manage their own budget deficits that will arise.

9. Why aren't police and fire included in this?

There are plenty of compelling reasons that they should have been, but it was Governor Walker's opinion that public security not be compromised by a potential law enforcement or fire department sick out like that of the teachers. And contrary to what is being said from some quarters, this is not hand out to Walker supporters. The vast majority of police unions in Wisconsin supported the Democrat, Tom Barrett.

10. Why does this seem rushed through?

In the grand scheme, it isn't. A few years ago, Governor Doyle and the Democrat legislature pushed through a budget repair bill laden with tax increases in 24 hours. It hasn't even been a secret that Scott Walker was going to walk this path. Governor Doyle and the Democrats tried to shove through onerous public contracts during their lame duck status for that very reason. Wisconsin has a deadline for their ability to refinance debt at a cheaper rate which happens to fall at the end of this week. The bill had to happen on an efficient timetable to meet that date and cut off the possibility that layoff would be needed to bridge the budget gap for this year. Unlike the Federal government, the state cannot merely issue debt or print money to paper over gaps. It needs to meet its budget, much like a business or a household.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Will the Wisconsin Union Protests Stay Peaceful?

Let me start by saying that I certainly hope that they do. I have a very, very bad feeling about today, though. The focus today is on the pro Scott Walker rally, but attention really should be turning to the union protesters that have poured in from out of state. The pro Walker rallies have experience in peaceful rallies via their experiences with the Tea Party and other tax payer rallies. The union outsiders are the wild card, as outsiders in tense situations like this tend to be. If they mind their p's & q's, today will be peaceful. But if they came to stir the pot, today could be a scary, scary day in Madison.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Living in a Powder Keg and Giving Off Sparks

On Saturday, there will be a rally - a counter protest of sorts - to support Scott Walker's position on public employee union benefits on the capitol square in Madison. After seeing the groups that will be involved, I am not very concerned about counter-protesters, but I am concerned for them. The protesters on the square have been whipping themselves into a froth for 4 days now. They are not going to respond well to people who actually disagree with them. And to make things worse, the professional union agitators have started to move into Madison, starting today. Capitol police have already been escorting legislators to their chambers and have told them that the capitol isn't safe for them after 10 pm. It isn't going to take much effort on the part of professional union plants to focus the protesters' rage on the counter-protesters because the protesters do not respond well to contrary opinion as it is. Madison is a tinder box, and tomorrow could be a very dangerous day.

Where is Public Safety at the State Capitol

I don't advocate breaking up the protests in Madison because I think the unions are doing this all wrong and are only hurting themselves. I still do support public safety, though, and I think Chris asks an excellent question. Given the picture he has posted and reports of hallways blocked, where is the fire inspector? The state capitol building right now (and likely Friday), has to be one giant violation of fire codes, and for the safety of even people I am increasingly in disagreement with, they should be on site with Capitol police to control these crowds.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Final Note For Tonight

Any empathy that I did have for the employees of public unions at the beginning of this week is rapidly melting as their right to free speech is now potentially affecting my ability to get to my job on time.

A Stark Difference

I work within view of the capitol dome. I would love to go to the capitol square, talk with people, photograph the events, maybe even participate in counter demonstrations should any occur. I haven't, though, and I won't. Why? Because during the work day, I've been working my tail off. After I get done with that, I go directly home home to take care of, be with, and hopefully teach my kid. I can't say the same for most of the people on that square. On top of that, I've already swallowed many similar sacrifices being asked of the unions. I accepted mine because I knew that money doesn't grow on trees, and the solvency of my employer relied upon all of us either making the sacrifice, or some of us paying for it with our jobs. Given my experiences, I find the actions on the square, while within their rights, disgustingly selfish.

A Request to the Walker Administration

Governor Walker,

I heard your presser late this afternoon from the capitol. I thought you did a good job of explaining things, but I do think you need to reframe this slightly. As is, this is being framed as public employees making modest sacrifices to their benefits versus balancing the budget. That is 100% true. The problem is budgets and deficits are nebulous topics that are poorly understood by many. Instead, the assumption in any public discussion of this is that the budget will be balanced, period, and that the choice is layoffs vs. common sacrifice. Private enterprise has framing the discussion this way for years, and it is very effective because people tend to not want their greed to be the reason their friends get layed off, or for that matter, the reason they lose their own job. I know that avoiding layoffs is a top priority, but they have to be a realistic possibility for people to really understand what the stakes are. Right now, union members, teachers especially, are showing such defiant hubris precisely because they feel like they can get away with it with no repercussions because layoffs do not seem a real possibility.


A Nice Primer on the History of Public Unions

It is well worth the read right now. Bonus fact: Even union champ Franklin Roosevelt was not squarely behind the collective bargaining rights of public servants.

You Can't Keep a Good Horse Down

From the ashes, Spottedhorse has returned! I've likened Chris to a free style poet. If dry, filtered, and correct is how you take your politics, he probably isn't for you. But if you like interesting, passionate, and free flowing, you are going to enjoy or love to hate him.

Make 'Em FIBs

Do you know what be fun? Keeping Wisconsin's runaway Democrat Senators in Illinois long enough to make them legal Illinois residents.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Kids for Sweet Bennies

Am I the only one noticing how hard the public employee unions are relying on kids to help protest who have never had to make wage/benefit sacrifice to keep their job while still finding a way to pay the bills? It is coming off as very exploitative to me.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I Think I Understand the Twitter Attraction Now

I've avoided Twitter, and probably will continue to do so, because I just don't have the time or interest in writing at a multitude of locations. But tonight, I think I've begun to see the attraction. You see, I've been writing mostly on Facebook, and mostly non-confrontational, amusing, and family related material that I've enjoyed only sharing with my inner circles. All the while, I have calmly faced all of the political material that has overwhelmed my feed. Tonight, I went on the offensive a bit. I suspect that I will find a loaded email box tomorrow, and I would be shocked if I didn't get unfriended by at least 10 people. To a certain extent, some people follow you on Facebook because they have to. At least on Twitter, like a blog, they are following you because they want to, be it because they like what you have to say or they love to hate what you say. That feels more pure to me.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Scientology Ad = Desperate NBC

So, NBC accepted an ad from the Church of Scientology. I find this fascinating, and not because of the controversial aspects of it. Instead, I am fascinated that they took the deal because it is going to be a collection headache for them. I have a little bit of experience with the Church of Scientology and advertising. Their M.O. is this. They try to swing a deal that is a sweet bargain for them and which seems like a great deal to the seller. That's fine, lots of people do that. But when it comes time to pay the bill, instead of NET 30, it ends up being, "NET whenever we (CoS) have the money and it is your bill's turn to get paid." And since they are always behind, your bill ain't getting paid for a long time. We turned down their business for that precise reason.

Really, CPAC?

Donald Trump as conservative presidential hopeful? Seriously? This has to be a low point for CPAC. And that has nothing to do with the gay rights and everything to do with the fact that we are talking Donald Trump, here.

Monday, January 17, 2011

What isn't right here?

The NFL has supposedly released some photos from the last time the Packers and the Bears played in the playoffs. One picture is here, and the other is here. Can you spot why I think the NFL (or maybe Yahoo) screwed up?

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Get Well Soon, Representative Giffords

As has been much discussed everywhere (perhaps too much by too many who really should have had better things to do), Arizona U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords was targeted for assassination today by a nut, shot through the head while the killer also indiscriminately murdered 6 others, including what appears to be a very bright and interested 9 year old girl. My condolences to the families who lost a loved one, and as a parent of young child, especially to the parents of Christina Green. While Giffords almost certainly has a long road back, I hope to see her back in the Democratic side of the House of Representatives as soon a possible.

China as Japan, Circa 1985

How many of you out there remember the days when it seemed like Japan and its culture were on the precipice of overwhelming us? I do. And I remember all the news stories about the superiority of Japanese culture and the inferiority of America. I'm smelling a repeat of history.

The gist of the article is this: Chinese parents expect excellence of their children. American parents want their kids to feel good about themselves.

I am as wary of the rising level of competition in all areas from China as anyone. But this smacks of the overblown news stories about the Japanese in the 1980s. I offer this anecdotally as my proof:

If a Chinese child gets a B—which would never happen—there would first be a screaming, hair-tearing explosion. The devastated Chinese mother would then get dozens, maybe hundreds of practice tests and work through them with her child for as long as it takes to get the grade up to an A.

This passage by itself is proof to me that this entire editorial is a boast of a proud, culturally Chinese woman. There is no way - NO WAY - every Chinese child is scoring straight A's and doing so explicitly because their parents hold them to that standard. We are all of different aptitudes, abilities, and skills. And their are a good number of very intelligent people who do not have the aptitude for school work, regardless of how hard their parents drill them. And, sorry to say, there are some amongst us who just can't get A's or B's, but who still have places in societies, American or Chinese.

Like the Japanese stories of a previous generation, their is a strain of truth in this piece. That strain is that we owe it to our children to hold them to the highest possible standards that they could achieve. But the piece goes off the tracks in projecting a China that is perfect in raising its children (those that don't end up dead because they weren't a boy, anyway). Do not be fooled into a hand wringing panic like many were by the rise of Japanese competition, however. Just learn from it, and use the lessons you take to better raise your kids to make them competitive for a new era that will be very much unlike yours.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Why We Must Stay on Top of Military Technology

It has become very easy over the last 20 years to take our huge advantage over the world in military technology for granted. And for the politicians, that can make the military budgets a sweet target for evisceration. But for the first time since the late Soviet days, there is a power dedicating the treasure to not only catching up but surpassing us:
Photos leaked online that appear to show a prototype of China's first stealth fighter jet were discussed in state media Wednesday — a move that supports claims the country's military aviation program is advancing faster than expected.

Both the English and Chinese language editions of the Global Times ran front-page articles on the photos of what appears to be a future J-20 fighter, along with extensive reports on the buzz the pictures have generated overseas.

Now even if this fighter does take a test flight soon, it is still years out from being in the Chinese arsenal. Any sense of security that may create is an illusion, though. Unless you continue to push your R&D, regardless of the field, someone else who pushes their R&D with greater diligence will likely surpass you sooner than you think. New product development is not a spigot that just turns on at full speed, either. If the Chinese catch up and then get a jump on us, it will take years before our pipeline of cutting edge military technology is producing fast enough for us to get back in the game. This may indeed be the Chinese century if we are not forward thinking in all fields.


I have one resolution for this blog in 2011. I'm finally going to play code monkey and fix some flaws and strip out some ancient features. I may write more, but the joint really needs the updates.

Reviewing those 2010 Predictions

I didn't get 2011 predictions posted this year, but I should recap my 2010 predictions, especially since I didn't do too bad. Here we go:

10. Sometime in the first half of the year, the stock market will outrun the current irrational exuberance and sharply tumble back below 10,000.

It wasn't as sharp as I was thinking, but in late spring/early summer, the Dow plummeted from 11,200 to below 9,800.

9. At the end of the year, unemployment will remain above 9%.

Got it, but this was almost a gimme.

8. At least one nation will default or nearly default on its debt.

We had a couple of close calls, but no actual default. Ireland, Greece, and Iceland, amongst others, still hang on by their fingernails.

7. A promising Green Bay Packer season will be derailed by injuries.

Last year was too healthy for the injury bug not to catch up with them, and it did.

6. Democrats will avoid provoking controversy via legislation just enough to lose fewer seats than anticipated in the off-year election.

That's what I get for overestimating the political instincts of the current class of Democrats. Wrong.

5. The newspaper industry will continue to disintegrate as at least two more papers halt their print editions.

I don't recall any doing so, so wrong again.

4. Al Gore will pontificate about global warming during an unseasonable cold snap/blizzard (this should be a gimme).

Not gimme. Ol' Al went on the DL to a certain extent. Had he shown up in Cancun, though, this one would have been a winner.

3. Tiger Woods will return from hiatus before the majors begin.

There was no way he'd stay away from the majors. Got it.

2. There will be a significant terrorist attack on American interests.

Wrong, and thankful for that. Never would have predicted TSA Gone Wild, though. I guess all that rhetoric about the Bush Administration being the Nazi's was just talk, huh? Unless the Obama & company are the Politburo.

1. President Obama's approval rating will end the year marginally higher than they begin the year. Marginally.

Wrong. Slightly lower. But I didn't think he'd ram Obamacare through, and I though congressional Dems were smarter politicritters than they were.

I'm giving myself 4.5 out of 10 on this (a half for the near national defaults). Not great, but if this were hitting a baseball, you'd all be talking about me cryogenically freezing myself right now.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Rex Loves Peyton's Feet?

A silly controversy erupted in the NFL a couple of weeks ago when it was found that Jersey/B's head coach Rex Ryan and his wife had a foot fetish video on YouTube. Ryan has refused to comment in any way because it is a "personal" issue. So how confusing is this?

"Is it personal? Yes, it's personal. It's personal against him (Manning), Reggie Wayne, all those guys, yeah. (Dwight) Freeney and (Robert) Mathis and those other dudes? Absolutely."


Is this another example of Ryan sticking his (wife's) foot in his mouth, or is he attracted to the feet of Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Dwight Freeney, and Robert Mathis?