Monday, August 31, 2009
As an FYI, our president did object tot his. Way to get passionate about a terrorist being released. Way to have any pull in the world as the president of the USA asking that a killer of our people be kept in jail. "We have been in contact with the Scottish government indicating that we objected to it," President Barack Obama said of Thursday's release."We thought it was a mistake. We are now in contact with the Libyan government, and want to make sure that if in fact this transfer has taken place, he is not welcomed back in some way but instead should be under house arrest...."
My family has been in that position of releasing a murderer early. My great-great grandfather was murdered by two thieves. They murdered him, as he fought them in his 80s, by hitting the back of his head with a religious statue. Many years later (30+), one of the murderers developed cancer while in jail. He petitioned to be released to die with his family. My great-grandmother was next of kin and called into speak. Her words echo now at a moment like this. "I never said goodbye to my father, why should he?".
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Thank you veterans for your service and members of our military for standing watch on the wall.
Prescott Bush - 2 term US Senator from Connecticut
George H.W. Bush - Congressman from Texas, Ambassador to the UN, special envoy to China, Director of the CIA, Vice President, President
George W. Bush - 2 term Governor of Texas, President
Jeb Bush - 2 term Governor of Florida, the smarter but sadly younger brother (primogeniture applies in politics)
There is a huge difference in the Bush family dynasty compared to the Kennedy family dynasty. The Bush family is more of an executive branch dynasty, whereas the Kennedy dynasty is more of a legislative branch. More 'power' in the Bush dynasty, but the Kennedy influence maybe greater because of Teddy's long Senate career. The Kennedy's also have a problem with the next generation. Some of Bobby's kids have run for office and lost, while others just are content to be rich assholes that like to ski and play football at the same time while drunk, causing them to crash into trees. Ahhh, the life of a wealthy jerk. The Bush family also has 2 young guns that I could see making political moves: Barbara Bush (the cute, Yale graduate) and George P. Bush. George P. Bush will be a Hispanic military veteran within a decade. Combine some brains (JD from UT) and family money-connections, and you have a winner. It really is as easy as that.
Ted Kennedy's passing is another reminder of the change in Washington DC. He was a link to that past full of deals made by men like LBJ, Tip O'Neill, and as prez, Reagan. He's also one of those people that as time passed and few of his peers remained, his reputation was helped just by staying alive. This happened in baseball with Ted Williams, who was a first class asshole, but since he outlived so many of his peers, suddenly was remembered more fondly than his attitude justified. Yes, he was wicked liberal. He was also someone willing to give an inch to get an inch.
As a native New Englander, I cannot discuss his wonderful service as a champion for the poor and disabled, as well as unions, special interest groups, academia, and rich people, without mentioning the bad. Kennedy was a cheater at Harvard who got to the Senate because of his family wealth & name. He was a boozer & skirt chaser even in old age to the point where "In Living Color" and "Saturday Night Live" made fun of him in the early 90s. He was a joke as well as an institution. A Denis Leary joke went "Ted Kennedy: good senator, bad date". This was not just a reference to his drinking and harassing but to his "Chappaquiddick" problem. When you drive, probably drunk, into water with a young woman not your wife, then you escape, leaving her in the car to die, and don't go to the cops right off the bat, you are a first class douchebag. If it happened today, he'd resign and maybe face jailtime. Fortunately for Kennedy, the first moon landing was later that week. He also had his money, fame and a far less intrusive press to manage. My parents like to laugh about his press conference with a neck brace when he turned his head to answer a question, showing the brace to be a fraud. Imagine if he had escaped with Mary Jo Kopechne. He'd have been president in 1976.
Instead, he was a very human senator. He lived in the shadow of 3 brothers who died while in service of their country (soldier, president, senator). He wraps up the Kennedy name. No one left in that family has any charisma or fire. It's a family with so much promise unfulfilled. What if JFK is not killed in 63? What if Bobby survives his attack & becomes president in 68? What if Ted saves the girl? What if JFK Jr. doesn't fly at night when he wasn't instrument rated? America will never have a royal family, but the Kennedy family is as close as we will get (if the Bush group has another Prez, then we can reconsider). Like any dynasty, they have their highs and their lows. After nearly a century in the public eye, their impact, their good deeds, and their place in America history can truly be evaluated and appreciated.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Check out www.zerohedge.com. It has quickly risen up to my #1 spot for finance discussions, government-wall st crony connection exposing, and investigative posts on the shenanigans going on today. A good sign is that the mainstream media is constantly trying to out who is Tyler Durden and discredit him... even though different people use that moniker to post.
CO2 is not a pollutant. It's a greenhouse gas just like methane & water vapor, except much milder in "damage". Carbon Monoxide (CO) used to be the big harmful greenhouse gas in enviros eyes as it destroyed the ozone layer. We made changes with exhaust systems to reduce CO output. Enviros changed focus. If one considers how the enviro cause started in the '60s and had amazing success with pollution, CO, forest and wetland protection, it is no surprise that they ran out of things to go after and now focus on an invisible gas that humans exhale involuntarily and plants love that might or might not make things warmer. They've run out of 1st world targets, and don't have the guts to face developing governments about deforestation anymore (like China).
That said, I also believe that big ball of gas in the sky, the Sun, has a pretty big impact on our warming and cooling. I think it's activity is far more critical with Earth entering and exiting ice ages and warm periods than CO2. Sunspot activity looks pretty important to me. This blog post with many links seems important as it was 5 years ago. In 2008 and so far in 2009, sunspot activity has been down. Could cooling and a mini or full blown ice age be coming? I hope not. An ice age would mean my home state (actually all of my former residences) would be under lots of ice. An Ice Age is much more dangerous than a 1 degree celsius rise in temps. When it was warmer, the Romans had vineyards in England. In Roman times, Britain was a bit WARMER than now, yet they enjoyed wine, hmmmmmmm. Slightly warmer than now and they survived. Let's do more research, let's get scientists working, and let's not just drown out and blacklist scientists who do not toe the GW line. More research is needed. More data is needed. A little less alarmism would be good.
Air travel is even more painful now. Many airlines have cut many many direct flights. This means layover madness. I flew Indy to Charlotte to Pitts. Look at that on a google map. It's an almost equilateral triangle. I'm just going to drive it next time. The extra killer is the charge for checking baggage. No one wants to pay it so everyone carrys on bags that should not be carried on. You end up wasting 20 mins watching people bumblefuck trying to load their bags into overhead compartments. Air travel is way down which is why flights have been stopped. This is all with oil averaging $50 a barrel in the first half of 2009.
The businessmen I met work with many small businesses. Many of those businesses are scared to death about health care reform. These brokers are extremely well educated on health care; it's what they do & they want to save companies money. Maybe some 19 year olds who sit in their dorm rooms updating their web 2.0 self centered platforms could learn a thing or two about HC if they spoke with them? They knew things I had not heard in any newspaper article because they took the 1000 page bill and read it at the urging of their clients (if only lawmakers did that). Some of these brokers have strong union ties & are lifelong Dems (others obviously weren't). If reform passed as envisioned by the ultralibs, it would levy fines on small businesses not complying to medical insurance standards (who sets the standards?). It would also leave a loophole for businesses under 25 lives to not have to comply or pay fines. One broker hinted that many companies he deals with that are around 25 lives will cap themselves of full time employees at 24 and 'contract' out & temp others. Great, just what we need, finagling by employers to defeat the purpose of reform. At the heart of the matter though is that some employers don't want to face reality. They want their HMO with $10 copays to be the same cost forever despite their group getting older (especially if they haven't hired anyone in a while or laid off younger workers). As you get older, you are a worse risk, which means you pay more for the same plan. Change your plan to get costs down.
There is also a fear out there of doing business with companies that have accepted government money. These guys wish that those companies had been forced to sell their blocks of business to safe companies rather than take govt money and be in 'limbo'. Many of these brokers are paid commissions by insurance carriers, while some get fees from employers. Commissions also come with bonus programs. If the govt suddenly says all bonuses paid by TARP recipients are subject to the "pay czar", do broker bonuses get reviewed? They don't work for the TARP recipients but they get a bonus from them? It helps my company as we have had our ratings affirmed and do not take TARP money! Still, this does hurt small businesses as they suddenly have to change their insurance because of TARP fears by the brokers & employers. Who wants to do business with a TARP recipient?
Nothing was as sick as hearing the broker who told me his municipality and public sector clients don't mind cost increases because they think they can always raise taxes. He's tried to warn them that this isn't the case right now. He's paid to advise them & they are not taking his advice. He has advised cities & counties to do what the private sector has done for years and play hardball in these once in a generation economic hard times. As he said, "fiscal year 2010 has pie in the sky projections that will splat next summer, forcing more drastic changes". It would be wonderful to see newspapers investigate this.
The huge theme that I heard & witnessed through conversations with those connected to all sectors of the economy is that things are hurting with end user demand and will continue to hurt for a while. Companies are cost cutting with labor costs because this is a majority of their variable costs. Cap-ex is over and done with, and raw inputs they can hedge better now compared to 1975. Overtime is gone. The other thing is that employers are telling laid off ees that if they come back it will be for less hours or less pay. Why return a person to work for 35K in salary when they will gladly come back for 20-30% less just to get money in the door? Why have them work 40 hours, when they can work 20 and maybe get 75% of their productivity? One broker described how a client had laid off 15 ees out of 50 this winter. They have hired 5 back so far but at the cost of 4. Every worker took a 20% pay cut. Scary that they could do this. Scary that the workers had no alternative.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
1. Had this movie come out in 1985, it would have been one of the greatest political-social commentaries ever about a current system. Coming out now, we get a story that shows the horrendous features of apartheid. Side note: it's interesting how the black South Africans who suffered under apartheid are portrayed as quick to shove the same horrible system onto another group.
2. CGI was excellent. Looked good, looked real, and didn't have many "oh that's so fake" moments. It was used well too instead of forever on display like a George Lucas movie.
3. Alien design was great. I also enjoyed how the aliens talked a bit like some of the Star Wars random aliens.
4. Solid acting by the lead as a pencil pusher suddenly pushed into a crazy situation and desperately trying to get his life back in order. There's genuine character development with his story arc.
5. The pacing is good as not every scene is a shoot out scene. We get some sad, intimate moments. You get juiced up then some time to relax. You also care about characters.
6. I laughed at the name of the evil corporation: MNU, Multinational United. Way to let us know it is evil.
7. Budget was $30 mil. It has earned $60 mil so far in the US. This thing will crack $100 mil in the US box office alone. I smell sequel.
8. Great blend of news type camera work, film camera work and that COPS camera look. Of course, we can thank "Blair Witch Project" for this.
9. It's an intense movie. Not like "28 Days Later" where you want to shake after a while, but it has a build up and steady level of intensity.
10. The kid alien. Seriously, supah cute.
1. Limit medical malpractice lawsuits
2. Hire enough people in Medicaid to enroll all of the people who are eligible.
Step 1 would limit costs of malpractice lawsuits, insurance, time & energy wasted reducing costs for everyone in the medical and legal fields. Step 2 would get those who are eligible for medicaid on the rolls. That 45 mil uninsured number is hogwash especially given the inclusion of illegal aliens. That number seems to change by whomever is reporting it. These are changes that would directly impact costs and access for more people.
No one seems to bring up tort reform. The Prez never mentions it because it hurts the lawyer voting block. Bush & Co tried this years ago, and it failed. One politician, who I respect but would not want to see as President, has at least mentioned the idea. I give this some credibility because after all, she mentioned the idea of government deciding who lives and dies and magically the provisions stating that were taken out of the Senate versions of the health care reform bill. I like having her around, but I don't want her behind the wheel.
Back to the issue... this is critical and important if we ever want to curb costs, as this is part of the system in the UK, Canada & elsewhere. Should a family hit the lottery because of a mistake evaluated by a very loose jury-judge compared to a less sympathetic jury-judge? Can you put a price tag on a human life? Think about it, this can cut costs maybe 5-10% and it doesn't affect quality of care or amount of care. It's a no brainer. I can imagine ambulance chasing attorneys would be upset, but is this a negative social effect on society? Isn't there a gain by reducing costs on everyone through lower malpractice premiums than for one family to receive a few million less for a mistake?
Friday, August 21, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
I'm pasting the entire section about why she named him Winky Dink which just so happens to be right before the small penis section. Coincidence that it's written this way by Bloomberg? I think not. Rot in jail Bernie.
He sometimes blinked his eyes uncontrollably, leading her to nickname him “Winky Dink” when she disclosed her affair to some close female friends.
At the Willard, Weinstein wrote, she learned one of his many secrets that they discussed by telephone a few days later.
“Bernie had a very small penis,” she wrote. “Not only was it on the short side, it was small in circumference. That he was now pointing it out to me was telling. It clearly caused him great angst. I wanted to be careful how I responded. Men and their penises have a strange and unique relationship.”
Still, she said: “I liked this man and didn’t want to emasculate him. His tiny penis hadn’t prevented me from climaxing.”
“On the bright side,” she concluded, because of its size, “oral sex would be a breeze."
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
1. Some superintelligence has terraformed Mars and Venus to sustain life and planted life there
2. The US and USSR don't have a Cold War, focusing tremendous energy & resources on space exploration.
These books are written in the pulp sci fi style of yesteryear that described worlds of jungles, deserts, and aliens that were sexy, dangerous & mysterious. Planets were much sexier than they are now as lifeless lumps of rock. The books are quick reads, engaging in the imaginative alien worlds, and well laid out in that they have little 'encyclopedia' entries to start each chapter (kind of like Frankenstein's primary document portions). Overall, I enjoyed these books.
"The Sky People" is about the interactions between humans and 'aliens' on Venus. Venus is a wet, hot and vibrant planet. It is set about 25 years after the first Earth probes go to Venus (1988). It of course follows the good guys of the US at their base, and then how they try to help out the Commie Eastbloc base when a transport of theirs goes down. There's quick action, adventure, romance, and geopolitical intrigue. The bomb and conspiracy piece near the end does sound like something the Commies would have come up with. I appreciated the lack of whitewashing of Commie leadership motivations. I do not want to give much away, but a fast reader could crank this out in one sitting over a few hours. It is fun.
There are some problems. Lead characters are hyperintelligent & strong physical-psychological specimens, but they can't seem to anticipate any betrayals or problems. It gets annoying. There are some random detours from the main plot, that take up pages that could have been better devoted to the primary plot or discussing the world that was Venus. Lastly, the lead character is a Cajun, and he says "oui" to things instead of yes, yeah yup. It gets pretty fucking ANNOYING after the 80th time. I was waiting for another character to say "knock it off fucker, you use 3 french words in random conversation". He does speak French, but as a child of a native speaker who had grandparents talking French often even to this day, if I said "oui" to things not as a joke, I would have been shamed into stopping.
"In the Courts of the Crimson Kings" is set on Mars and in the year 2000, so the "Sky People" activities have an impact on this tale. Mars is a cold, desert planet with a dying atmosphere and a civilization that while planted on Mars after the first humans were around, developed much faster. I enjoyed this book much more than "Sky People". The lead was not as oblivious to signs. The alien civilization had a nice feature of more experience & patience, but was not portrayed as superior... just different. The positives of the author's abilities are on display, and he removed the negatives I cited above. No annoying lead character trait. No meandering detours for 15 pages. No stupid leads. The 'encyclopedia entries' were a bit longer in this one, so he must have received feedback that people wanted to know more about the 'universe' the author created (like Harry Potter or Star Wars geeks' undying thirst for more details). I recommend these two books for the $12 it will cost you.
It also got me thinking... the technology is there to cheaply produce a CGI tv series on HBO or even network, so why not take a stab at something like this or a series set in space? Not the lame "Grey's Anatomy" in space show on now. Something action-adventure based that is open ended, but sci fi to fill that Lost in Space/Star Trek/Quantum Leap/X-Files niche. Grafting this premise, space race finds life on our two neighboring planets, combining the exploration of new worlds and frontiers with the geopolitical drama of Earth, into a series on HBO-FX-Network would give you 12-18 episode seasons that you could string out for 100 epsiodes. The entire first season could be just contact, impact on society and training of the "explorers". The finale is they touch down on Venus/Mars. The 2nd season could be "explorers" set up on Venus/Mars. Following seasons could be set say 3-5-9 years later. This could allow for aging so the producers don't run into the problem Lost had where Kate aged 5 years when she was on the island for 45 days. This could be a winner. CGI that looks good is cheap now. You could draw in anyone trying to become an action movie name. I see viewers.
Once again, thank you to the men and women that make up the greatest fighting force in the world. They have successfully invaded, occupied, pacified, trained a new army, and most importantly, defeated an insurgency on it's home turf. The books written about this conflict that came out in 2005 were written far too early, and I look forward to the books written in 2020 about Operation Iraqi Freedom. Do you think they'll cite some of the 2005 books and laugh?
Back in the early days of post-9/11, I recall some of my college friends stating how terrorists were expressing themselves through violence because of the horrible repressive regimes that they came from in the ME. When Bush-Cheney came out with the name "Operation Iraqi Freedom", I thought that he truly had bought into the idea that if you build a democracy there, it will reap long term benefits and help fight terrorism by taking away one of the recruiting pitches. Time will tell. I am one who believes some of what we see today in Iran is because of the budding representative govt that still pays respects to religion next door. If one considers how Japan and Germany became stellar members of the representative govt club, anything is possible in Iraq. Japan never had a history of anything but rule by the sword and Emperor. Germany had been authoritarian for years with a brief, sad spasm of parliamentarian politics for 15+/- years. For the good of the ME and the rest of the world, I hope it works. If the relative quiet from the anti-war crowd means that there is no rush to our exit from Iraq, then I am fine with it. Let's not abandon a potential republic as it is learning how to walk.
Monday, August 17, 2009
There's a small part of me that wonders if this debate over lame health care reform, in the midst of the worst recession in a generation, is some tool to distract people from the banking prblems that we still have not tackled. After the TARP program, the AIG 180 bil bailout, and the GM-Chrysler 100 bil bailout, we have not done anything to fix the broken financial system or scrap it entirely for something new. The bankers still run rampant with leveraged bets on the market and still lavish bonuses on themselves. The "stress tests" were shams to show the banks were in OK shape, which were poor tests as unemployment (U-3) has crossed the line they had in the 'adverse scenario'. Nothing has really changed, except for worsening economic conditions. Just wait for the next horrible financial event that will cause more manipulation and looting by Goldman Sachs and their brethren.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
This popped up as I saw that "GI Joe" had a huge opening weekend. Not even Paul Blart Mall Cop being a no. 1 movie is as bad as this. It's just a side effect to the real decay. Similar to the outpouring of emotion for the death of a pedophile who had not done anything culturally significant for over 10 years. Add in rising illegitimacy, the multiculturalism instead of integration movement, broken family dynamics, more children raised in 1 parent homes, decrease in church attendance figures (maybe that will change with GD 2.0), rising govt role in everything, and our world starts to look more like "Brave New World". Destroy the family unit, provide basic services/wealth even if you have to 'trick' people into thinking their lot in life is optimal, make people consider themselves as gods, and you're almost there.
I'm pro-legal immigration. My relatives all were immigrants looking for a better lot in life. I am fine with the work permit visas for immigrants. I do feel our immigration policy or lack of enforcement of illegal employment hurts poor or lower skilled people immensely. Let's not even touch the outsourcing of so many skilled jobs all for 1% better return on capital (that's for another post). In a nation of 10% unemployment (the kindest measure of UE), there are no longer any 'jobs Americans won't do'. This illegal employment ends up hurting the lower end of the income spectrum, limiting economic mobility & creating a growing underclass (birthrates at lower incomes are higher than middle incomes). No real wealth creation & preservation to hand down to later generations on which they build. What to do to prevent riots? Drug them up with cheap antidepressants, sugar sweet foods and make sure they have access to cheap consumer goods that develop a wealth effect. Throw in a never ending cornucpoia of entertainment 24-7, a heavy dose of free & private pornography, and it's submission time. Fat, lazy, stupid and obedient. Must be a relation in derivation between the words obedient and obese. Fat people don't protest, hell they start sweating thinking about walking. If the sedate populace needs govt assistance, even better, now they have a mouth (vote) that is dependent on the d-bags in charge. You give them the brave new world with all of its faux riches, and they will never put up a fight.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
You can go from ice skating princess who looked of legal age and cute like this......
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
Saturday, August 08, 2009
It's every Americans given right to make fun of their leaders. Check out the 9th Amendment: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." It is one of these 'other rights' that people have. I hoped Obama would prove me wrong, but no, he's turned out to be the very socialist, Chicago politician, anti-capitalism guy I thought he was under the veneer of 'post-partisan, post-racial' healer.
I don't care who the president is, I do not want universal health care, or even this public option, which is a Trojan Horse to destroy the private health care system. Why are we embarking on this expensive program in the middle of a depression??????