Monday, February 28, 2011

Chernobyl Now

Interesting article on what Chernobyl is like now here. I would love to watch a documentary on this place.

Crime Fighting Done Wrong



Weird situation in Seattle. I had always thought that you could not legally be a vigilante. He has partners who help him fight crime. Seattle has a low crime rate. I'd love to see him take this routine to Baltimore or Detroit.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Single in the Suburbs Detective Work by Dalrock

A blogger fisks or does detective work on a match.com and the MSN portal column called Single in the Suburbs. He calls BS on the entire sham. The woman's journey through online dating as a divorcee reads like a Lifetime movie with a much too convenient and happy ending. It is absolutely unrealistic and beyond belief (secret multi-millionaire handyman???). It also resembles other fictional works, one by the same author. The blogger does a nice job of pointing out how in the comments section some women have said this column has helped them see that they needed to get a divorce. Shame if this is fictional and it leads people to abandon marriages and wreck families. Cruise around his site, as he has some interesting posts on marriage, the Brothers Grimm, and poking fun at the manosphere and feminism as well.

Book Review: Class by Paul Fussell

Wirten 28 years ago, Paul Fussell's take on the unspoken American class system, Class, is tremendous. America is a late comer to nation status and the Constitution banned titles. In everything we do, say and buy there is the stamp of our class or status. Paul Fussell attempts to walk readers through the workings of this system in America and entertains the reader.

A reader in 2011 can read this book and still consider it pretty accurate. One thing that time adds to this book is witnessing the drift the entire nation has experience while simultaneously seeing status and the eager climbing many have done through credit and spending. How dumbed down have things become? How much of our entertainment and even information sources are geared towards the lowest common denominator? How many people have spent themselves into poverty to chase the status dream? Fussell pokes fun at everyone, and even goes after the university system, which he was a part of as a professor for decades.

His attacks on higher education are hysterical. His writing in 1983 was followed by a huge run up in college costs while not providing a superior product. He cites a review of colleges done that blasted many universities for poor academic quality. This has only become worse since 1983 with the rise in college attendance by those who truly do not gain anything from it nor are prepared for rigorous classes. The descriptive paragraphs of graduates and the actions of their parents made me laugh out loud. Rear car window stickers really hit home for me.

You will laugh reading this book. You can't avoid it because everyone knows someone who is a poster boy or girl for a specific class. The climbers and folks reaching for status because of sudden wealth will make you stop and think. We are part of this system, and I try my best to avoid being trapped in it. Laughing at the people so wrapped up in the status game was a relief. Fussell also helped educate me about why people at work write the wordiest emails over the simplest things. At just under 200 pages and written in a cheeky manner, this is a quick and very enjoyable read.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Charlie Sheen 2-24-2011 Quotes with Alex Jones

Radio call in interview of Charlie Sheen who sounds a bit high for 18 minutes. Selected Quotes:

"converting your tin cans into pure gold"

"BullSssss... H... I... T"

"I got magic, I've got poetry at my fingertips, most of the time, and this includes naps, I'm an f-18 bro and i will destroy you in the air, i will deploy my ordnance to the ground"

"it's just pure and complete gnarlyisms"

"his pen and his vision that created the classic we know as major league who some know as wild thing, as they should"

"why give an interview when you can leave a warning?"

"it's over, there's a new sheriff in town and he has an army of assassins"

"duh we work for the Pope we're Vatican assassins... We're high priest Vatican assassin warlocks"

"you either love or hate but you must do so violently... i don't live in the middle anymore"

"tremendous focus tremendous clarity and tremendous peace"

He rips on AA and rehab culture. I enjoyed that.

"New flash I am special and I will never be one of you"

"I'm not Thomas Jefferson. He was a pussy."

"I have a disease. I cured it, with my mind."

"if you infiltrate and try to hurt my family i will murder you violently"

He then discusses watching Jaws in the ocean at night. He proposes that you do this like Dark Side of Oz and will experience a 4th dimensional aspect.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Iran vs. Egypt vs. Libya

The White House did not support Iranians protesting for greater freedoms.

The White House consistently flip flopped with who they supported as Egyptians protested for greater freedoms.

The White House now, kind of, sort of, supports the protestors in Libya seeking greater freedoms.

Someone Walked Out At Work

Last Friday a coworker left at 11am on his own power. He didn't and won't come back. He texted his 'friend' some totally weak excuse that no one buys ("didnt feel accepted" this despite working for the company for 2 years and having consistent lunch friends). He has no other job lined up. He was still in training, and it had been 1.5 months. I just spent 4 hours with him last week and he took a ton of notes and asked a bunch of questions. As he took the job in January, he told us all how pumped he was to get an entry level 'ladder' job into a corporate company. We're shocked and rather upset. He's also a liar to those he spoke to last week about his training, and classless for not even giving a notice of a week or even that he was quitting. He just left. This job had multiple applicants, had a good wage with good benefits (medical!!!), and a chance to move up or to another dept. This job had a future, but the story of quitting out of nowhere made me flash back to a story I read in the Washington Post years ago. Here are the passages that resonate with this walk out....


And what about his first job, as one of the red-hatted guides in downtown
Washington? "The best job I had," he said. It was $12.52 an hour, 40 hours a
week. He had a bank account that got up to $700 -- and then, after 18 months of
giving the same directions, helping the same homeless people, making the same
money, he quit.

or how about this quick quit job....

He got a job as an $8-an-hour security guard at a Rite-Aid in Dupont Circle, and
on the second day, when a customer tapped him on the arm and said, "Excuse me,
where's the foot powder?" he was only too happy to help. "It should all be good
now," he said mid-morning, but then his back began to hurt from standing, and he
used the word "boring," and two customers began having a loud conversation about
Gas-X, and he said, "I'm going to try to tough it out. I mean, I ain't gonna
try, I am going to tough it out," and from that point forward every minute
became an act of persuasion until he walked off the job in the middle of day 10.

Those are limited jobs in a stronger economic environment, but there is still value in a job. Heck, my coworker had a job in our great depression 2.0 with decent pay and good benefits and a future. I usually wish people good luck when they leave, but I can only hope this guy figures what is wrong with his head before any well wishes.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Libya's Big Impact

Well Gaddafi (Qaddafi, Kaddafi) has less control than I thought, and obviously is not paying his military men enough to ensure they stick to his side. This has a big impact on your gas bill. They export 1.5 mil barrels of oil a day. Not to us, mostly Italy, but to the world market. This forces everyone else to pick up the slack, which there is not a lot of slack right now. Supply taken away with the same demand will create higher prices. Gaddafi has supposedly ordered the refineries and other infrastucture destroyed. He is going scorched earth on Libya. This will probably end as badly as Egypt will end. I do not think Libya's tribalism would devolve the state into a super Somalia, but there will be quite the battle as the military guys start forming groups. Either the military will support a new General or Colonel who will give token reforms and spread the oil wealth around enough to pacify the people. Libya has a large sovereign wealth fund that they could use to alleviate the problems of their people instead of building palaces for the dear leader. A smart military leader would take advantage of that and pay off the proper military guys and tribal leaders to restore order. If not, we'll have a sham democracy where the Islamists get 'elected' and then rig it so only they win elections. Bad news world.

Please recall that Qaddafi was on of the UN Human Rights Council. I always support using natgas for car fuel. Let's use a fuel that relies less on unfriendlies and psychos.

Retire to Argentina

Retire? Who can think of that in this current crazy era. I can. It is far out there for me. I think of how to stretch the limited retirement dollars we all will have after the great shakedown is complete. That means living in a more remote area in America or abroad. Argentina is probably where the wife and I will retire to in 35-40 years. Not full time as we'll probably split time between the US & Argentina, but I don't want to deal with winter when I am old. I saw it wear on my grandparents. With Argentina, I can spend my entire time in summer & fall. I also will want to spend time near my kid(s) for part of the year, so I would go to where they are, if they want me to. For all I know, that might mean travel to a 3rd country.

Retiring to a South American country can stretch your dollars. When I hear upper middle or middle class people talk of retiring to Europe, it surprises me as those countries are pretty pricey. My experience in Europe was the backpack student experience, and even with $1 dollar worth 1.20 euros at the time it was expensive. I can't imagine retiring there part time on a fixed income. South American countries still experience inflation in the double digits, so having income in US dollars works to your advantage. I know the language, and physically, my wife and I would fit in. I would just need a mustache. While I wouldn't want to live in Buenos Aires, spending time in the Paris of South America sounds like fun. 40 years is a long way away and much can change, but I like to plan early.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Book Review: D-Day by Stephen E. Ambrose

Sometimes a single day can define a generation. While the greatest generation has multiple where were you days and large events (the pacific war, the european war, the marshall plan), the day they are most associated with is D-Day. Stephen E. Ambrose has a 600 page epic book on the entire D-Day operation for June 6th, 1944. Just one day is covered, but the planning, the build up, the leaders of both sides, the execution of the operation are all documented.

Ambrose uses many different sources, some written and some oral, and explains both the significance of the operation and the actual development of those 24 hours. These are boys of the roaring 20s and the great depression fighting against the Nazi war machine. Ambrose does a great job explaining the detail and minute planning that was involved and all without computer aid. Soil samples, chem warfare prep, false leads and tricks to throw the Nazis off, and minute by minute landing schedules were needed to pull this off. On the back end, there needed to be plenty of men to execute all of those plans and tricks. The best plans go up in smoke if no one charges the beach.

Ambrose focuses his time on the American beaches and gives less time to the British and Canadian beach assaults. I understand why as he has a primarily American audience, but he missed some cool stuff. This is a shame as one of the coolest things about the Normandy landings was the creation of the artifical harbors by the Brits. They sank ships and created a harbor to get supplies to the landing forces. If you go today, the pieces are still there; I have seen them and it is mindblowing. Ambrose does discuss the Germans preparations with building the Atlantic Wall and their mess ups on D-Day. I wish he had spent a few more pages on their reactions to the attacks and how the fake information kept them focused on the Pas-de-Calais for the 'real' invasion.

I read this book because my grandfather gave it to me. He's still alive, and halfway through it, I sent him a letter asking him about it. I don't have many folks to talk to about this stuff, and who better than someone who lived it. He went in on D+2 or +3. When I visited the Normandy beaches, I picked up sand for my grandfathers (and one of their brothers). I also took pics in the bombed out emplacements and on the beach. I know ti meant something to them, and I think I know even more why. It's not just that they were there fighting an evil machine bent on world domination (not hyperbole in this case). It's that they lived and 45 years later they could see a descendant there. They were not one of the thousands of bodies on the beach blown to pieces. They made it, and so did the reasons they fought.

Herpes in America

Wow. This goes back to my idea of not just a condom but the condom genital bib. It would be a condom that had a bib at the bottom to cover your entire sexual area. Maybe people are not as upset anymore when they get a herpes diagnosis because of HIV? I can imagine a person saying to themself, "Hey it's just herpes, it isn't HIV". I think it is interesting women are twice as infected as men, and this must be partly from the mucus membrane issue and partly due to more women having sex than men. Remember we are descended from 80% of the women in history but only 40% of the men.

This sentence does not make sense to me: "Douglas said the increased rate of infection in blacks is not do to increased risk behavior but likely due to biological factors that make women more susceptible as well as the higher rate of infection within black communities". A cause is also the result? That does not make sense. A big cause is lower rates of condom use. The comments section is an interesting mix of calling out the study for PC talk, racism, lame defenses, and some comedy. Protect the politically correct narrative at all costs!!!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Danger of Crumbling Arab Dictatorships

I welcome the toppling of dictators in the 3rd world. It is great to see the destruction of dictators who routinely torture their people and amass fortunes on their backs. The problem in the Arab world is that with years of oppression, there is normally no political group or outlet for people to gravitate towards after the dictator falls. Naturally, a dictator must suppress any political organization as it might be his downfall.

The worry is that the vacuum will be filled by the other rally point of people: religion. This was the sad truth of the Iranian revolution of 1979, which the Shiite leaders coopted to take control of the nation. This is the fear with these uprisings right now in the Arab world. I recall either Kissinger or Brzenski discussing in an interview why he ultimately feared Arab nations trying to take on Israel again. The fear was these dictators who for decades have deflected criticism of their regimes by inciting the people against Israel (and the US) would be forced to attack Israel. israel would destroy their attacking forces in maybe 1 week again, which would discredit the regimes. These regimes would crumble and be replaced by Islam dominated and Sharia law enforcing regimes. This is running through my mind as we see Egypt and now Libya in trouble. Libya shocks me a bit, and must shock Hilldawg shown above with Qadafi's son in competing pant suits. Qadafi has the money from oil to subsidize food prices, and even though the FED has pushed monetary policies that have made cotton rise 44% in 48 days in 2011 amongst other commodities, he should be able to contain or pacify the masses.

Labor Negotiations

While I, along with FDR, side with the governor of Wisconsin who wants to change the public unions of Wisconsin and help the state be sustainable financially, there is an even less sympathetic labor battle brewing: NFL and NBA players vs. league owners. Millionaires vs. Billionaires should be the tagling for their battles. The players often mismanage their money and go broke within 5 years of retirement (source). They will probably mismanage this situation and come out losers vs. the owners, who usually have a primary source of revenue and income and treat their team like a side project. It is hard to listen to player grievances when they flash their wealth all of the time. I do sympathize with the NFL players who are beaten to a pulp for the 3-5 years they play.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Egypt's September Elections Should be Interesting

If they happen, the elections will probably bring in some Islamist groups into decision making positions. Interesting article here. Weird how no one was citing these highly interesting survey answers when discussing what might happen after Mubarak resigned.

Potential Indiana School Voucher System

Indiana is moving towards allowing students to use a voucher system so they can use their allocated education spending in any way the parents see fit. I support this as a start. This is not as awesome as I expected it to be, and it doesn't seem as universal as the Florida system. Educators, the mainstream media and libs will not support this version of 'choice' and freedom, but that might be the case because publci schools would pay a price for failure to perform up to snuff. Of course they get their buddies on the D side to make a fuss because of the money that the school unions send to the Democrats. I see through this. Steve Jobs sees through this. Here's why.

Why should parents who care about their kids education be forced to suffer through bad public schools beholden to union agreements and huge bureaucracies for any change? Why should they have to pay twice for a good private education: once through taxes for public schools they won't send their kids two and a second time for the private school education? Why should private schooling be out of reach for families who want it but can't pay for the quality? This would really help in metro areas where the wealthier kids can go private while other kids go public. Sure some families wouldn't care, and most likely their kids won't care, but the poorer families who do care can then take their 5K in educational stipend and apply it to the 7K in tuition. I am not a believer in schools and teachers being miracle workers who can take naturally dumb kids and turn them into geniuses, but I do believe a good teaching environment as well as teachers who suffer consequences can make a marginal difference on students. I can see this impacting some coworkers who have kids in marginal schools and want to send them to a Catholic/Christian school but can't afford it. It is letting people be in control of their education dollars.

This would also put public schools on notice. This is why they use scare phrases like "public money shouldn't fund private schools". There would be consequences for not maintaining a safe environment. There would be consequences to keeping terrible teachers. There might be a reason to allow schools to get rid of teachers who a troublesome. There will be trouble for schools in districts with bad reputations with bad students. The kids from families that care about school or smarter kids stuck in bad schools will leave, leaving behind the worst of the worst with less money to spend. This would be like the 25% of Detroit students that graduate leaving before high school, meaning Detroit would be left only with students who never graduate. This would be tough. On the other hand, those people would be left with no other excuse for poor performance. With school choice they could go elsewhere but they chose not to, showing they care little about education.

Debussey First Arabesque



Beautiful.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Niall Ferguson on Egypt and Obama

Niall Ferguson has written some awesome books and did a great 4 part special on the 2008 financial crisis and it's predecessors throughout history for PBS. He wraps up all of my fears and concerns in this complete pwnage of the MSNBC morning crew. The MSNBC crew desperately try to get him to rah rah the administration.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Huff Post Column: "Why You're Not Married"

Funny Valentines day bit about why you, woman reading Huff Post, are not married. I laughed at some of her bits, and nodded my head approvingly. Witnessing the last 10 years of my friends getting married and divorced, I agree with this author.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Signs of Generational Drift

My Gramma stood up and applauded in the theater when Dorothy opened the door in the Wizard of Oz to reveal the start of the 'color' portion of the movie.

My youngest cousins type "epic fail, lolz" to the special effects in the Wizard of Oz.

Toto is the best actor in that movie. Seriously, watch that movie and notice how often Toto takes perfect direction or perfectly frames the principals with his movements.

Movie Review: Shutter Island

Shutter Island is a Scorsese film starring Leonardo Dicaprio set at a mental hospital in 1950s Massachusetts. It is a thriller with some twists and turns. Dicaprio has been a 'muse' for Scorsese, starring in multiple big budget films under Scorsese's direction. Shutter Island is a bit slower going, and thanks to some established names, better acted than the recent Scorsese films, which I feel have relied more on sets, style and Scorsese's reputation than actual performances and story (hint hint The Departed).

It is an interesting flick, and I enjoyed it as I couldn't see everything coming. There are many moments where things can be interpreted one way or the other, which leaves the viewer wondering how the movie will play out.

The play between Max Von Sydow-Kingsley-Dicaprio-Ruffalo-Michelle Williams was fun and kept me on my feet. Who exactly is good or bad? The WW2 flashbacks and torment did play on many veterans' minds even if they were fighting a 'good war'. What was good or bad there and then? Dicaprios' put together a nice roster of conflicted characters with a loose grip on reality with wives who are constructs of their minds. I wish he had been this good when he did Gangs of New York. I could believe these characters were who they were.

Side note: I love Mark Ruffalo getting more work. He's good in his roles and believable. He's a traditional guy but well rounded, not just a caricature of a man.

Kind of like Inception, what does the ending reveal? Did the therapy not work and he's still delusional? Did he come back to reality, but realizing the horror of what really did happen to his family, did he pretend to still be delusional so they would 'take worse measures'? I lean to the realization and self imposed drastic measures interpretation.

Egypt 2011 vs. Iran 2009

People are wondering why the POTUS and administration was so vocal in calling for Mubarak to step down once Egyptians massed in large amounts as opposed to the silence when Iranians did it in 2009. Here's why: Obama and the State Dept were desperately trying to negotiate a nuke deal with the Iranian regime in 2009, and couldn't ruffle their feathers. Mubarak was receiving US aid, and needed us. This isn't hard to understand, and it will be glossed over by the MSM. Down the memory hole!

Let's hope the Egyptian revolution of 2011 does not turn out like the Iranian one of 1979.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

DMB - Satellite



Singing it to my boy, I remembered why I loved the song. Perfect lullaby.

Delusions

My folks visited for a week to see their grandson. Good times for them. They told me that my old high school manages to get foreign kids to go now for 36K annually (room & board included) and get kids from surrounding towns to go for academic and athletic reasons for 9.4K annually. This is nonsense. The Chinese are sending their kids because they think 'American private education' in Maine is like Exeter or Groton, and to explain how little they researched the school one family sent their kid to Portland, Oregon instead of Maine on the first flight over. They are getting ripped off. The local kids going there instead of to their high school are just as delusional. Uprooting the kid from their social network and paying 9.4K annually for a marginal 'improvement' in sports of academic opportunities is pretty dumb. My old high school was marginally better than some for college preparation and placement. Save the 9.4K and enjoy life. Heck, save the 37k in tuition and move to that town to go for 'free'. My dad, of course, is happy about this because this somehow makes the school seem better and therefore makes him feel better. I said it was delusional behavior and a nice con game the school has going for it. That school will never get my donation money.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Anyone Know Who the US Govt Backs in Egypt?

First, Hilary asked for protestors to be calm and kind of scatter and go home.

Then, Obama said he supported those seeking individual freedom but to do it peacefully (didn't do it for Iranians 2 years ago).

Then Obama-State Dept. wanted to see Mubarak resign an dleave.

Then, the 'world' wanted us to slow it down with shooing Mubarak away.

Now, we want him to leave quickly, like now.

Looks like a former CIA asset is the VP now and likely to be the new strong man until elections. Doesn't it feel like the Administration is caught with its pants down an dis kind of supporting protestors but really wants to see the regime stay intact and in power? Let's just hope there is not a repeat of Iran in 1979.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Tom Riddle(ness)

In a previous post, I partly in jest explained why young Tom Riddle could be my HP spirit character. I was ditraught to learn that post caused mental/emotional harm to an HP fan. This did spawn a wonderful creation by my lovely cousin: Tom Riddle(ness). I don't know how she would define it.

Here's my take: a drive, act or manner of behavior that is evil with no regard for anything else besides the gain, joy, or delight of the actor.

I welcome her take and defer to her opinion as the creator of the word and its visual presentation.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Movie Review: Exit Through the Gift Shop

Does it matter if a documentary is real or not? Does a mockumentary have to declare itself one? Exit Through the Gift Shop is a documentary that will have you questioning its truth long after viewing it. The documentary chronicles 'street art' and the relationship Thierry Guetta develops with the premier artists of the genre. The documentary has many cool 'reality' moments and many funny parts, segments or observations from interviewed subjects. This is an entertaining 90 minutes that you will not regret.

The subject matter, street art, is rather interesting as it concerns that far line of art that blends with graffiti. The segments that capture the street art being created are very interesting as you see these graffiti artists at the apex of skill envisioning, preparing and then placing their art. I love the creative process, and art is about the journey not the destination. Seeing the "Andre the Giant has a Posse" creator and learning he was the man behind the Obama - Hope image, I was blown away. That artist had started the Andre the Giant work as an exploration on propaganda and its power just in existing (even when devoid of meaning). The Obama - Hope posters are a great example of that concept. I have jpegs on my old college cpu of Huey Lewis done in Soviet style by Shepard Fairey. Interesting. I wish these guys would take on the big banks.

Thierry meets Banksy and the movie gets kicked up a notch. This is due to Banksy's secretive nature and his level of invasion of the public space. Listening to Banksy and his desire for a documentary of the street art movement, I get the feeling this entire film is a mockumentary but in that manner it is a documentary of the street art world. Thierry's devolution into "Mr. Brainwash", a street artist himself, and his absolutely ridiculous cliche of modern French artist with no meaning is too ridiculous to be real. He has no original thought, is a rip off of just about everything, and has every bad habit of the modern artist. Was the entire "Mr. Brainwash" gallery and this movie a joke on the art world and viewers? I believe it is. The fantastic thing about the documentary, the marketing, and the commitment to the story (if a hoax), is that it is so tightly done that you do have to consider it real. It would be great to see it win the 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary only to be revealed to be a fake at the award show.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Byronic Hero

Oh yeah, like reading results of a personality test - Byronic Hero.

More Egypt Hopes

As I posted before, I am hopeful that the people of Egypt can enjoy an expansion in their individual freedom. I am also nervous that the pro-democrtacy, anti-food inflation riots of 2010 are not taken over by a Islamist group. The tough thing with oppressive autocratic regimes is that they spend a lot of time and energy oppressing and destroying any 'group' out there and one of the natural rally points for people after a regime fall is their religion. This happened in Iran in '79-80. Let us not see it happen again now. Unfortunately, I do not think Mubarak is like Pinochet (they only share the negatives of Pinochet), and the moment now in Egypt is not like the Chilean slow process of democratic reforms. A theocracy in Egypt is not what we want right now, and surprisingly, CNN is not even considering the possibility of that outcome in their coverage (Fox News's panel does). Let's hope for the best.

So You Want to be a Lawyer?