Saturday, December 31, 2011

Nostradamus and Me

That famous seer, Nostradamus, has a set of dire predictions for 2012 ... see his Grim News.  Although I do not partake of hallucinogenics nor gaze into a bowl of shimmering mercury (or was it water?), I, along with my friends and family, also make annual predictions as part of our New Year's Eve festivities.  Mine are not quite so dour.  For what its worth, here they are::

• China’s economy will weaken significantly … resulting in much civil unrest
• At least one country will leave the EuroZone
• A third party candidate will run for President … almost assuring Obama’s re-election
• Massive student-loan meltdown. U.S. taxpayers foot the bill.
• China will annex more territory … possibly part of Mongolia
• Jimmy Carter will attend Hugo Chavez’s funeral
• Another Solyndra-like green-energy scandal in the Obama Energy Dept.
• The Iran “navy” will be destroyed trying to stop shipping through the Strait of Hormuz
• Hillary Clinton will replace Joe Biden on the Obama ticket
• Israel will attack Iran … destroying many nuclear facilities
• It’s Green Bay vs. Patriots in Super Bowl. Green Bay wins.
• Inflation finally bites … up 5%
• The Occupiers will re-emerge with the warm weather … resulting in meaningless bloodshed
• At least one state will go bankrupt. U.S. taxpayers foot the bill.

Leadership Vacuum

The United States's President is luxuriating in a Hawaiian vacation ... by my count his fourth escape from the cloak of leadership in the last 12 months.  Russia's Putin seems to spend most of his time showing the world how manly he is ... as opposed to solving his nation's problems.  Japan has had 6 Prime Ministers in the last 5 years.  The Middle East is shucking leaders like they were oysters at a seaside clambake.  And it's not like the world doesn't have problems to solve ... the Euro monetary crisis, Iranian belligerence, the meteoric rise of Islamic extremism, the aging populations throughout Europe, a festering worldwide energy crisis, the American government's crushing debt burden, etc., etc.

Too often it seems to me that poobahs around the world covet the benefits of leadership while avoiding the responsibilities therein.  And the $64,000 question is: why this leadership vacuum?  Perhaps it is the mindset that resulted from the ending of the Cold War, "problems solved, time to party?"  Perhaps it has been a hiatus in leadership examples to be emulated?  After all, the Reagan/Thatcher template occurred almost twenty-five years ago ... outside of the cognitive lifespan of much of the world's population.  And, in the interim, we have learned that it was just fine to receive sexual favors in the oval office from a White House intern.  Reality television has demonstrated that life is nothing but a charade wrapped around a lottery.  "Optics" have taken the place of substance in the role of government.  And, as we recently found out in the FICA tax reduction skirmish in the U.S. Congress, bad politics now always seems to trump good policy.

Must we devolve into another worldwide calamity to reawaken our leadership juices?  As we enter this New Year, I am afraid that my short prediction is "probably."

Friday, December 30, 2011

Cosmic Silence

One of my favorite columnists, Charles Krauthammer, has written a thoughtful lament concerning the apparent lack of other sapient civilizations in the universe (see: National Review Article) or at least, if there are such extraterrestials (E.T.s), why we don't hear from them?   Basically, he states that, as we continue to find exo-planets within the habitable zone of "nearby" stars but are yet to see or hear any evidence of any life thereon, this suggests that "advanced civilizations destroy themselves."

I have a slightly different take.  Yes, I do believe, like many renowned scientists, that the laws of probability suggest that there are perhaps many billions (maybe even trillions) of other stars with planets that could and should support life.  However, when one unwinds the spans of time and distances involved in our universe, to me it is not surprising that we have not heard sapient coded message from afar.

Let me explain my logic:

- The universe is approximately 13 billion years old and our earth is about 1/10 of that age ... all back-end loaded.  I would imagine that many of these other theorized exo-planets are either yet to be ... or have been burnt to a crisp when their suns became red giants. Let's estimate that this culling percentage is 50%.  So automatically these billions of stars with habitable exo-planets is cut in half. 

- Now, sapient life on our earth has existed for perhaps only a million years ... or 1/13,000 of this earth's existence and scientific advancement sufficient to understand our time and place in the universe has existed for, at most, 100 years ... or 1/130,000,000 of this planets existence.  Let us (optimistically) imagine that this enlightenment age on earth will last for another 13,000 years.  This would result in a sapient window for our planet to be about 1/1,000,000 (one-millionth) of its total existence ... which fraction I suggest should then apply to other exo-planets.  Now these potential billions of habitable exo-planets with enlightened intelligent life is now reduced by 1/2,000,000 (1/2 x 1/1,000,000).

- As for distance spans, our universe is estimated to be 46 billion light years wide.  Now, no communication can travel faster than the speed of light, so assuming that sapient communications was or will be sent out from another exo-planet during our current and predicted future enlightenment age, it must originate within a bubble of 13,000 light years from Earth.  This reduces the number of habitable exo-planets from which we might ever receive a message by another factor of 3.5 million (13 thousand/46 billion).  Or such potential messages from habitable exo-planets with enlightened intelligent life are reduced by a factor of seven trillion (1/2,000,000 x 1/3,500,000)..  Now, assuming we want to get this message within the next 100 years, we then must multiply this fraction by 1/130 (100/13,000) ... resulting in a reduction of the number of eligible communicating exo-planets contacting us within the next 100 years by 910 trillion ... quite a bit larger than even the number of the estimated exo-planets.

-  So, my conclusion is that, even if my calculations are off by one or two orders of magnitude, it is very unlikely that there is an exo-planet from which we might receive an intelligent coded message sometime within the next hundred years.  That is assuming (and this is a huge assumption) that such an exo-planet has a power source large enough to radiate this coded message out over the vast distances of intergalactic space.  This required power source has been estimated to be as large as the energy coming from our sun.  Soooo ... I highly doubt that E.T. will be calling home anytime soon ... and that Charles Krauthammer should find solace in the assumption that our "civilization" could well last for at least another few thousand years without his doom-and-gloom conclusion being justified.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Dangerous Chess Game

Iran is saber rattling again ... threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz if stricter economic sanctions are imposed upon it by the European Union (see: Reuters Story).  Of course, the United States would not permit such a belligerent action (unless The Barry was distracted by a Hawaiian wagyu-beef luau) and would blow the Iranian navy, speedboats and all, into Davy Jones's locker.

Nevertheless, it is curious why Iran would exhibit such rhetoric bluster close on the heels of its equally lunatic take-over of the British embassy a few short weeks ago (see: TheWeek Article).  Not that such moon-howlings are alien to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad  (as sanctioned by the Iranian Ayatollahs) ... he has repeatedly threatened to obliterate Israel once Iran is in possession of atomic weaponry.

The question becomes why such taunting of the West is now escalating?  I can see three possible reasons:

1) The United States has recently pulled all of its troops out of Iraq.  Iran's throwing up of all this gorilla dust makes it look more imposing in the eyes of the Shiite Iraqis and thus increases its sphere of influence on its erstwhile enemy neighbor.

2) Iran's "elections" are due to occur in March.  There is no doubt as to the expected results of this sham balloting.  However, if Iran can get the nationalistic juices flowing among its younger people, there might be less chance of the kind of rioting that occurred after the last phony election over two years ago.  (Also, the capture of the U.S. drone aircraft a few weeks ago ... see: Cyber Warfare ...  may have been partially directed toward this very same end.)

3) Iran is suspected to be getting very close to actually producing atomic weapons and their ability to deliver them on long-range missiles.  A potential naval clash in the Strait of Hormuz could serve as a smoke screen, helping to distract the wimpy West from the far more existential threat of a nuclear Holocaust in this area.

So Iran is once again playing its foolish chess game --- a few black pieces against the full contingent of white chessmen.  One rash move on the part of any of its Revolutionary Guards could cause explosive repercussions ... such as Israel taking out much of Iran's nuclear capabilities and, maybe even, the United States obliterating that captured drone in the process (like we should have weeks ago.)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy Kwanzaa

Today is the first day of Kwanzaa ... in fact it is the 45th anniversary of the creation of this special day meant to celebrate African-American culture.  To read more about the ceremonies and the rationales of this special day. (I eschew the word "holiday" since its derivation is "holy day" ... which Kwanzaa is not meant to be) go to this: Wikipedia Entry.

Now I could be wrong, but I think that the Seinfeld episode in which George Costanza's father, Frank, creates the equally ersatz "holiday," Festivus, was a tongue-in-cheek parody of Kwanzaa by the Seinfeld writers (mainly Daniel O'Keefe who therein memorialized his father's February, 1966 invention ... see another: Wikipedia Entry.  I also find it interesting that Festivus ... "for the rest of us" ... was conceived just a few short months after Kwanzaa was first celebrated.)

So, since it is now seems acceptable to invent special days to put forward one's personal agenda, I also intend to follow suit and propose celebrating Hirsute Day on February 12th.  Basically, on this day, I ask that we celebrate facial hair (such as Abraham Lincoln's beard and my moustache.)  I have chosen the 12th of February since Lincoln has been otherwise de-memorialized with the generic "President's Day" and this then will be my way to re-remember him.

Now, for the traditions of Hirsute Day:
- No celebrant is supposed to shave or get a haircut after January 1st ... this includes any observing women.

- The images which are worshiped on Hirsute Day (besides Lincoln and myself) are Sasquatch (Big Foot) and the Abominable Snowman (Yeti).  Multiple pictures of these heroes are placed on helium balloons and floated around the celebration room.

- The people who are condemned on this day are King C. Gillette, Jacob Schick, and any person with a shaved head (egs., Bruce Willis, Howie Mandel, and Sineed O'Connor).  Images of these people are placed at the center of dartboards and peppered with darts by the celebrants.  Any errant dart which bursts a revered helium balloon causes its thrower to be banished from future festivities for five years.

- Other festival traditions of Hirsute Day consist of wearing a hair shirt, performing monkey-like grooming ceremonies on the other celebrants' over-grown shrubbery, and eating butterscotch sundies (without the use of hot wet washcloths or Handi-Wipes).  At the end of the day, everyone stands in a circle, holding hands, and sings all the lyrics from the musical, Hair.  (See Hair Lyrics.)  This takes about three hours, after which everyone is quite angry and many start setting their neighbors' hair on fire (a permissible ceremonial ending ... consequently gaily decorated fire extinguishers are scattered around the room).

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Joy ...

Is hearing my granddaughter sing the Gloria duet in the church choir loft on Christmas eve.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Down We Go

Nixon had the good sense not to contest the 1960 election when it was pretty clear that Texas and Illinois  had been stolen for J.F.K. by L.B.J. and Mayor Daley (in Chicago).  He thought that it would besmirch the election process and this would create future problems.  Al Gore was not so patriotic when, in 2000, he lost in Florida and fought tooth and nail to overturn the results there.  Whether or not you believe that the Supreme Court gave this election to Bush 43, it seems clear that there were sufficient shenanigans on the part of Democrats to suggest that they had tried mightily to subvert the election process.  (It is suspected by many that punch-card ballots were gang-punched for Gore by Democrat inside operatives ... and this is how the hanging chads occurred at the bottom of each stack of punch cards.  Funny how none of the Bush 43 ballots had these same hanging chads?)

I think the resentment rising out of this Supreme Court decision has created a mindset among many Democrats that it is OK to take any questionable measure to insure that your candidate wins.  Witness how it has been recently revealed that one of the major duties of the "community organizers,"  ACORN, was election malfeasance.  I also suggest that Harry Reid's last victory in Nevada and Al Franken's drawn-out dog fight win in Minnesota might well be specific examples of voter fraud.  Now, we see that our Attorney General, Eric Holder, appears to be steering the ship of state into this maelstrom to try to insure a victory for The Barry next year.  See the details of his questionable actions here and here.

To me, it is very disturbing that there are people (mostly Liberals) who believe that a voter does not have to prove his/her identity in order to cast a ballot ... while they are required to do so for something as simple as buying a six-pack of beer.  And the accelerating trend toward motor-voter registrations and massive absentee ballot casting, again IMHO, may cause the election process in this country to become as corrupt as it was in Iraq under Saddam Hussein and how it currently seems to be in Russia.  I think I can hear a number of our august founding fathers gyrating in their sepulchers.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

John Boehner's Breakfast

Apparently (cynical) politics trumps (good) policy once again ...

My Way or the ...

A highway somewhere in Nevada

A smirking President Obama and his pugalistic wing man, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have responded to John Boehner's phone call to the White House in which he asked The Barry to send his economic advisors over to the House of Representatives to negotiate an end to the impasse over extending the payroll tax reduction for a full year ... see Boehner's Call

I think the technical translation for the Democrat reply was "pound sand!"  If Obama has to stay in the White House over Christmas and, maybe even New Years, the American people will start wailing, nashing their teeth and covering their heads with ashes from the Yule log.   The U.S. populus will then consult with Oprah, Dr. Phil and Joy Behar as to what they should do.  Need I tell you what their unified advice would then be?

OK, I'll enlighten you ... to a "whoop, whoop, whooping" audience, it will be "Take the Obama Turnpike straight to Penury!"

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Who is stonewalling in Washington?  Most media political pundits believe that the House Republicans have already lost this squabble over the continuation of the payroll tax reduction.  They have rejected the Senate's proposal for just a two month extension to U.S. employee's FICA tax reduction ... and, instead, are insisting that the Senate return to Washington and sit down with them in a Conference Committee to work out a compromise with the bill that the House had already passed. 

Harry Reid has once again saved The Barry from exercising any true Presidential leadership by flipping John Boehner off as he climbed aboard his jet to Nevada.  If you are not familiar with the details of this brouhaha, see: The NY Times' Take.  Meanwhile, back at the White House, Obama is playing the martyr as he stays ensconced there while the rest of his family is rollicking in the Aloha State's surf.  He has sworn not to follow them there until this bill has become law ... and he has already lost four days on the Kailua, Oahu links ... see: The White House's Site.  Funny how he can go from one of the four best Presidents this country has ever had to being a whimpering, simpering child ... all within a few short days.

Now, I usually make urine-poor political decisions, but I am greedily glad that Eric Cantor and John Boehner are playing Grinches in this case ... even if their only win turns out to be keeping the President stewing in his own "Holiday" juices for a few more days.  I just hope that the political cost is not too great for them.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Nefarious Acts

Snidely Whiplash
It seems almost daily that the Obama administration tries to pull off some Chicago-style dastardly act.  Currently it is by not promoting from within the Bureau of Labor Statistics and thus politicizing this erstwhile noble institution (upon which I have repeatedly relied in the past to point out how unemployment numbers have been misrepresented by the higher-up Obama jamokes).  See: PJ Media Exclusive.  Is there no act of subterfuge that these nefarious blaggards will not stoop to?

Thursday, December 15, 2011


If it came down to a election contest between Newt Gingrich and Barack Obama, I would without hesitation pull the "R" lever ... since I believe that four more years of The Barry would probably damage this country almost beyond repair.  However, I would prefer Mitt Romney instead of Newt Gingrich for no other reason than I believe that he can and will heal our economy.  At the moment all other considerations pale by comparison in my mind.

But recently Gingrich said that he would give the $1.4 million dollars back to Freddie Mac (money he got for his giving it "historical perspective" shortly before the sub-prime mortgage crisis) if Romney would give back the money that Bain Capital (Romney's former venture capital firm) got  from “bankrupting companies and laying off employees.”  Now, I have dealt with a few venture capitalists in my life time and I can't imagine that any of them has ever made an investment with the objective of bankrupting the company they just gave their money to.

This is nonsensical Newt.  So please stop playing fast and loose with such pejorative utterances (you too, Mitt).  And, if you do get the nomination, please erect a "Caution, Slow Down" sign between your fertile brain and your voice box.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"Just the Facts Ma'am"

Jack Webb

As is often said, there are lies, damn lies and then there are statistics ... particularly when uttered by politicians.  Debbie Wasserman Schultz, (D, Florida and Chairman of the Democrat National Committee) recently justified this aphorism when she said that unemployment had not gone up under Obama (see: Schultz Spins).  So, I have gone back to my source, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, to see if this were the case. The actual series (A-1) facts (see are reprised below.

To update from my previous Fact Check, when The Barry took office the civilian non-institutional population (CN-IP) of the United States was 232.6 million and the seasonally-adjusted number of people employed was 142.2 million (after the shock of the sub-prime mortgage crisis in late 2008). As of the end of November, 2011, the civilian non-institutional population was 240.4 million (up 7.8 million) whereas the equivalent employment number was 140.6 million (down 1.6 million). More interestingly, the percentage of the CN-IP that had jobs when The Barry took office was 61.1%; whereas today it is 58.5% (down 2.6 percentage points.) 

Or, if the employed percentage of the CN-IP had stayed the same as when Obama took office, then this country's employed labor force would total 146.9 million jobs ... up 6.3 million jobs. To fully recover from the shock of the sub-prime mortgage crisis (a loss of 3.0 million jobs as of January, 2009), President Obama's economic cabal would have had to cause allow 9.3 million jobs to be created ... let alone give  permit us any true job growth.

So, as we used to say when I was much younger dude, Debbie Wasserman Shwartz appears to be blowing smoke up our collective arses.

Addendum:  Don't forget that, to figure the grand total job creation shortfall under Obama, you need to add his actual jobs decline of 1.6 million to the above 6.3 million normative figure to get a 7.9 million deficit ... or a 10.9 million shortfall if one factors in the sub-prime job losses under Bush (again, before any true job growth.)

Sunday, December 11, 2011


This blog is written by an old fogey ... by necessity ... for young people may well not notice nor care about the increasing tempo of everyday life.  Much how Charlie Chaplin noted the frenetic pace of activity 75 years ago in his movie Modern Times, I too am feeling that the clock has been sped up dramatically.  Whereas Chaplin's culprit was mechanization, my bogyman is computerization.  (Not that there is anything wrong with that.)  As an example of this time compression, there is something called Rapid Rescore that allows real estate agents to use modern technology to upgrade potential buyers' credit ratings (temporarily) so that they can qualify for a mortgage on a home they probably can't afford (see: Rapid Rescore).  This was one of the basic bricks in the outhouse that brought the sub-prime mortgage miasma onto our economy ... but, even more suprisingly, it still exists!  Yikes!

Also, now day traders (mostly hedge funds) use ultra-fast computers to uncover price movements in the stock markets, commodity markets, and currency pits that foretell other price changes and, in milliseconds, take advantage of this information to make a small profit (see: High Frequency Trading).  But adding up hundreds and thousands of small profits makes (sometimes) big profits.  These traders have been using faster and faster computers to win out over the others doing the same thing.  And now the NASDAQ stock exchange is allowing certain traders to move their computers into the same building as its computers that resolve NASDAQ trades. This shorter and therefore much faster speed-of-light communications cuts even more time off these trading delays.  (We're now talking microseconds, if not nanoseconds, of competitive advantage.)

Is this fair?  Probably not ... but that is not the thrust of this narrative.  What I am trying to point out is that the tempo of everyday life is increasing to the point where much of the important things and, yes, even the aesthetic nuances of life are lost.  Even fast thinkers and/or glib talkers seem to have an edge in the media or politics ... how about Rush Limbaugh, Ron Blagojevich, David Letterman, John Stewart, Newt Gingrich, James Carville, etc.?  This suggests that the overdrive living pace today is affecting people's media preferences and performances.  And this faster tempo is often driven by the technologies we surround ourselves with ... Twitter, FaceBook, et alia.  Do I really need to know that cousin Clyde just saw Clint Eastwood walking through LAX ... or that sister Susan's gerbil just had gerbilettes?  Not really. 

And so this increased speed is also cluttering up our lives with data noise which I think is crowding out the more meaningful information that everyone should know.  Have you ever watched any episodes of "Jay [Leno] Walking"?  The factual stupidity of the average American is dumbfounding ... and yet we encourage everyone to get out and vote.  Are we nuts?

Yes, there is no holding back this tide of technology.  But just realizing what is happening to us is a small step forward.  And I hope that this critique might encourage others to understand better these fast-paced circumstances ... and take a little more time to think through your reactions ... particularly in response to more methodical minds and vocalizers (such as Mitt Romney.)  Remember, the laconic Will Rogers was a superstar even during the Roaring Twenties.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Strained Metaphors

Obama has a penchant for casting long, strained, and often silly metaphors to paint a pitiable picture of his Presidency:

I- describe us…as…I'm the captain and they're the crew on a ship, going through really bad storms. And no matter how well we're steering the ship, if the boat's rocking back and forth and people are getting sick and…they're being buffeted by the winds and the rain and…at a certain point-- if you're asking, "Are you enjoying the ride right now?" Folks are going to say, "No." And are they going to say, "Do you think the captain's good—doing a good job?" People are going say, "You know what? A good captain would have had us in some smooth waters and sunny skies, at this point." And I don't control the weather. Obama, coming up soon on 60 Minutes

Obama compared the country to a car Republicans drove into a ditch, "a deep ditch, muddy and hot, with lots of bugs." Democrats, Obama said, including him and Oregon's congressional Democrats, piled into the ditch and began pushing the car out. "We look up and Republicans are just standing there watching. We say, 'come on down and help''' Obama said. "But they just stand there and say 'you're not pushing hard enough. Finally, we get the car out of the ditch and the Republicans tap us on the shoulder—they want the car," Obama continued. "But we tell them you can't have the keys because you don't know how to drive." Then in his best laugh line of the night, Obama observed, "if you want to go forward in a car, you put it in 'D'; if you want to go backward, you put it in 'R.'" from the Willamette Week, 12/9/10

…We have gone above and beyond what was requested by the very Republicans who said they supported broader reform as long as we got serious about enforcement. All the stuff they asked for, we've done. But even though we've answered these concerns, I suspect there will be some who will try to move the goal posts one more time. They said we need to triple the border patrol. Or now they’ll say we need to quadruple the border patrol. Or they’ll want a higher fence. Maybe they'll need a moat. Maybe they want alligators in the moat! They'll never be satisfied, and I understand that. That's politics. But the truth is the measures we've put in place are getting results.  Obama in El Paso, Texas

Mr. Obama also tried out a cleaning metaphor, accusing Republicans of acting like fussy supervisors who refuse to lift a finger to help the crew.  “We’ve got our mops and our brooms out here, and were cleaning stuff out and they’re sitting there saying, ‘Hold the broom better; that’s not how you mop.’ Don’t tell me how to mop! Pick up a mop! Do some work on behalf of the American people to solve some of these problems.’’ from the New York Times, 5/13/2010
Such dewy drivel might play well to his adoring audiences, but now I think I understand why The Barry never wrote nor published anything when he was the Editor of The Harvard Law Review.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Free Markets Suck!

President Obama revealed a little more of himself than possibly his teleprompter writers intended on Tuesday when he spoke in Osawatomie, Kansas.  In essence he launched a backhanded attack on capitalism with "the free market has never been a free license to take whatever you can from whomever you can" (see: Speech Text around the bottom of page one).  This rhetorical flourish is clearly meant to imply that capitalism is, in fact, a free license to steal ... and the baby is now floating down the gutter along with the dirty bathwater. 

Interestingly enough, the New York Times neglected to mention this key dogmatic pronouncement in its write-up of this event (see: NY Times's Take).  Actually The Barry has said quite similar things in the past ... in particular at the Cooper Union in early 2010 ...  which went mostly ignored, I think, because he was still on his honeymoon with the American people (see: The Daily Kos Story). Now, I and many others on the right believe that this statement overtly manifests the key core value that Obama brought into the White House ... which had been taught to him on his anarchist mother's knee and reenforced by his many radical friends -- that capitalism is the source of all the world's evil.

And, despite his Elvis-like-intonings to the contrary, he also seems to view as anathema that bulwark of capitalism, the middle class.  He, after all, had signed his name to the Black Value System when he joined Reverend Jeremiah Wright's Trinity United Church which overtly states that "middleclassness" is to be eschewed (see: Black Value System Text, item #8).  (One could say, with tongue-in-cheek that, being the President of the United States, he clearly does live up to that disavowal.)  In essence his subtle but steady tilting toward Marxism seems to be the "change' he "hoped" to achieve when elected ... and he is doing a pretty good job of it ... by keeping the U.S. economy on life support and then by stirring the class-warfare cauldron with a vigor that would have been envied even by Norman Thomas.

Political Correctness Gone Ape

The Obama administration has reclassified the Ft. Hood massacre as "workplace violence" ... see: Ft. Hood Reclassification.  Yes, and then Treblinka and Auschwitz were just "retraining centers."

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Cyber Warfare

RQ-170 drone aircraft
Recently, the United States lost its software "leash" to a drone aircraft over Afghanistan and it ostensibly (crash?) landed in nearby Iran.  This was an ultra-modern stealth drone, the RQ-170, which is now going to be reverse engineered by the Iranians, the Russians, or, more likely, the Chinese (see: A Lost Drone).  How did this happen?  I strongly suspect this is one of the latest manifestations of cyber warfare.  Was this in retaliation for the United States (or Israel) cyber attacking the Iranian centrifuges (making them spin out of control) that are being used to purify uranium for its atomic weapons?  I suspect so.

We have known for some time that the software controlling our drones has been hacked into (probably by the Chinese ... see: A Drone Virus) and, yet, we let this top-secret drone fly apparently without a backup self-destruct override if it were crippled by a cyber attack.  This is similar to the counter-espionage sloppiness we exhibited in the raid on the Osama bin Laden compound in Pakistan.  Here a stealth helicopter had to be left behind with critical parts not destroyed, again to be reverse engineered by the Chinese.  We have even had a minor cyber attack on a water treatment plant here in the United States which may have serious implications for more egregious future events (see: Hacked Water Treatment Plant).

Now, I am far from being an expert on cyber security, but I did work for a few years in the late 1970's at a Data General research center in North Carolina where a hack-proof computer (the FHP) was being developed ... and, as it turned out, too many years ahead of its time.  And I do know that, given the huge strides that have been made in the miniaturization and speed of computer chips since then, we surely should have been able to develop a super-secure computer/software combo.  The question is ... why haven't we?

Monday, December 05, 2011

6 More Questions ...

For Liberals (including that uber-Liberal in the White House)::

1) Why, while championing infrastructure spending, would you put the kibosh on the Keystone XL Pipeline?

2) Exactly how will extending unemployment insurance beyond 99 weeks ever create even one job?

3) Why, since the Social Security System is on the fiscal ropes, should we extend any cuts to FICA taxes?

4) What does the U.S. do when Iran finally has the A-bomb and is about to (or does) use it on Israel?

5) Should the U.S. contribute even one dime to the bailout of the Euro (including through the IMF)?

6) What does the U.S. do if the relative peace in Iraq starts to unravel soon after we exit there?

Juxtaposition XXX

Republican's Barney Frank
Democrat's Newt Gingrich

Acknowledgment: Thanks for this idea goes to my wife, Jeanette.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

The Long Knives

An assegai

W.C. Fields, as Egbert Souse' in The Bank Dick, claimed that the antagonist bank robber had attacked him with a long knife, an “assegai."  Fields loved to use strange-sounding words like this one (including such others as "Lompoc" and "Petaluma"), but claiming he was attacked by a long knife in this classic movie made him an accidental hero. 

However, I have been increasingly perplexed by the assegais that are being wielded by almost everyone in the media these days ... to reduce the ranks of potential Republican heroes, the aspirants to the Presidency.  First Michele Bachmann, then Rick Perry, then Herman Cain and now Newt Gingrich and yes, even Mitt Romney are being sliced up by the press for any verbal gaffs and/or minor character flaws.  It's as though those media personae want to make their bones by taking down the current Republican front runner in the Presidential sweepstakes.

Thinking back to the last Presidential election, I can remember dozens of Obama's verbal gaffs and, not minor, but major character flaws that were glossed over by these same members of the fourth estate.  Such media inconsistencies have always perplexed me.  It's as though there is a subconscious narrative written in the stars that is then followed throughout the campaign by these too-often-pompous talking heads.  Some call this a double standard, but, to me, it is much more insidious and puzzling than this.  How does this happen?  Why can politics become a blood sport one day while, at other times, candidates seem to be adoringly carried on sedan chairs into office? 

This morning on Morning Joe, Mitt Romney was being savaged for expressing his private displeasure to Brett Baier of Fox News's Special Report for his tough interviewing technique. To me this is a mere bagatelle. Actually, this MSNBC morning show had previously become one that I looked forward to watching. Now, its seems to be nothing more than a pissing contest ... besmirching each favored Republican candidate in turn with clever pejoratives, snorts, and sideways scowls. As a result, I have started to switch more often to Imus in the Morning (gasp!!)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Quote of the Day

Since you probably won't hear this in the Main Stream Media, I thought I would share it with you here.  New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, was commenting on President Obama's reticence to get involved in the Congressional Super Committee's (failed) deliberations to reduce our government's deficit.  This was because Obama thought that this process was doomed from the beginning.  Christie said to The Barry, "What the hell are we paying you for?"  See: Politico's Take

By the bye, CBS News does have some weasel-words on this Christie broadside, but suggests that he might also be directing his comments toward the Super Committee.  See what I mean here: CBS's Take

Monday, November 28, 2011

Frankly dear ...

There is joy in Mudville ... Barney Frank is retiring from Congress next year.  There are few politicians who have done more to damage their country than this bloated poltroon.  Good riddance!  (Perhaps I am being too kind to him?)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Updated Aphorisms

Early to bed, early to rise … lets you watch Morning Joe

No news … means that Matt Drudge is out of business

Hope springs Obama into office

Beauty is only a skin-tuck deep

Actions speak louder than spin

Beware of Greeks bearing bonds

If you lie down with Occupiers, you wake up with fleas

Friday, November 25, 2011

Godzilla vs. Rodan

I'm not a Godzilla aficionado but I do know that these movies represented the struggles between titans.  My picking Rodan (out of 20 or more Godzilla foes) as this giant Japanese lizard's combatant is because it is the only one I remember.  Nevertheless, I have chosen this metaphor to represent the battle of ideologies that is currently taking place here in the United States ... a battle between the Tea Party and the Occupiers.  If I may, I think the Tea Party represents populous opposition to big government sprawl whereas the Occupiers resent the growing disparity between fat-cat CEOs/universities and their employees/students.  Unfortunately, many Occupiers have extrapolated these resentments into a unthinking condemnation of capitalism.

To me, the Tea Party is opposing the bigger danger, a government that insinuates itself into every alcove of our lives ... destroying institutions and democratic traditions that have worked so well during the last 235 years.  This over-reaching government strategy clearly is working under the current Obama administration. Our economy has ground to a virtual halt, I think, in opposition to a hostile government that feels it can pick economic winners and losers ... and our credit rating continues to slip as we pile up gigantic sovereign debt.

The Occupiers, beneath the gusto of youthful exuberance and monstrous irresponsibility, do still have a few points to make.  Yes, the executives  of many of our companies have stepped over the line of economic self-interest (read "greed" if you wish) to the point where they are clogging their company's arteries with plutocratic plaque.  And this is because much of their firm's ownership is now in the hands of mutual funds, hedge funds and exchange traded funds.  These financial entities are so short-term profit oriented that they care not if executive salaries spiral out of hand.  I have addressed this dislocation in the past in a blog titled Turd on the Table

Also colleges have become burdened with administrative bloat and therefore pass these costs on to their students with spiraling tuitions which then translates into student loans that are crushing their graduates.  I contend that this inflation is as much due to the heavy hand of government intrusion into the economics of education as it is to generic growth (see: "Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble").  This problem too can be solved without a national revolution as advocated by the Occupiers.  In fact I suspect that, if the Tea Party has its way and our federal government is reined in, this problem will disappear within a generation.

So who will win this B-movie struggle?  Let us hope that it is, like it always was on the big screen, Godzilla (the Tea Party).  But I also hope that Rodan's (the Occupier's) rising out of that mountain egg also teaches some key lessons ... even in its defeat.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Parade Rest

With my grandchildren romping about me this morn, I turned on the TV to see the preparations for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Suddenly I was transported back in time 35 years or so to when I used to take my children to vintage versions of this same procession.  We were living in Stuyvesant Town on the lower east side of Manhattan and, after breakfast, we would bundle our children up and I would walk them over to Broadway in the low twenties to get a front row spot for watching this extravaganza.

The parade always consisted of many marching bands, floats, and huge helium balloons held down by phalanxes of Macy employees dressed to match the theme of their balloon.  The balloons I remember most were Underdog, the Sesame Street characters, and Rocky and Bullwinkle.  Usually there were also lots of clowns and unicyclists handing out candy and trinkets to the children.  It was all right out of Miracle on Thirty-Fourth Street ... but without Margaret O'Brien.

And I remember that it was almost always bitingly cold ... so getting the kids to stay for the finale was generally a bit dicey.  But we usually did and when Santa Claus went by waving and Ho Ho Ho-ing we knew that we could then trudge back home and thaw out.  Entering our apartment, we were greeted with the wondrous smells of pumpkin pies cooling and the Thanksgiving  turkey cooking in the oven.  I would then generally have a cup of hot coffee and settle in to TV-watch some college football with Christmas music wafting out of the stereo.  What bliss it was!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tebow Bows

Tim Tebow, the charismatic quarterback for the Denver Broncos, constantly and visibly thanks Jesus for his successes on the football field (see: Plummer Complains).  Now, there is a growing backlash among his team mates and some media personalities (in particular, Jim Braude and Margery Eagan here in Boston) for this religious "ostentation."  I do remember that one of Christ's teachings in the New Testament was that his followers should not wear their religion on their sleeves ... so there is some rationale for this Tebow dissing.  However, let's be frank, Tebow's critics would not think of criticizing Hasidic Jews for their sideburn curls (payos) or fur hats (kolpiks), or Rastas for their dreadlocks, or yarmulke-wearing Jews, or Sikhs for their turbans, or even Muslims for the public prostrations to Mecca.

So my advice to Jim and Marjery and other Tebow critics ... until you are ready to be consistent in your protestations ... chill out.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Giving Thanks

This Thursday's trenchermen (trencherpersons?) would never sit still at our Thanksgiving table for me to enumerate all the things I am thankful for at this difficult time in our history ... so I will burden you, poor reader, with my list:

- a populous awakening in this country to many of the things that seem seriously awry ... as demonstrated by the Tea Party and, yes, even in their perversity, by the Occupiers

- all my beautiful grandchildren ... and the hope that I have for their bright and healthy futures (much of which I will probably never witness)

- all my children and their spouses who have produced these wonderful grandchildren and who are so carefully molding their lives within a creative and moral  template

- my wife, Jeanette, who has been such a great mother, grandmother, and life partner.  She has tirelessly toiled to create for me a wonderful home and make me a better person than I otherwise would have been

- the legacy that previous generations of Americans have left to us (in particular those who have given their lives) so that we can experience our national uniqueness and the best standard of living in history

- those (very) few politicians who had put their country ahead of their personal interests ... Ronald Reagan and Harry Truman, in particular, come to mind

- a leftover turkey sandwich bulging with stuffing, cranberry sauce, and lots of Hellmann's mayonnaise

Monday, November 21, 2011

Super Duper ...

Pooper Scooper
The Congressional supercommittee is coming up empty in its attempt to reduce this nation's deficit by $1.2 trillion over the next ten years.  See: Coming up Empty.  The 12 "bipartisan" members of this committee have come to predictable loggerheads over tax increases versus entitlement reform.  Expectations were low for this political artifice that had been created when the debt ceiling was raised this past summer.  This committee, however they did it, has managed to disappoint even this expectational nadir.  Our nation's $15 trillion debt has come about to cover a growing cradle-to-grave government that has being constructed by administrations of both parties over the last decade.  Apparently this suicide pact will continue for at least another year.

Now the blame game starts in earnest ... with the hope that such bicameral besmirching will affect the results of next year's elections.  Who knows if this mud-slinging will work ... but what I do know is that Washington, DC statesmanship is clearly dead and this augers poorly for the future of our "lazy" United States of America.  Perhaps the Occupiers will fix things?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Norman Rockwell Had It Right

For now, the Brookline, Massachusetts Town Meeting has kept the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance in the classroom.  But 76 chuckleheads in this meeting voted to ban this patriotic statement from sullying the lips of their children ... and 9 wimped out ... afraid to take a stand lest they be ostracized by their Marxist neighbors in this uber-liberal Boston suburb.  See: Small Win.  What is it that compels such lamebrains to campaign against such a simple oath?  One strained rationale put forward is that the children of non-citizens may be forced to pledge loyalty to a foreign country.  Such children (if and where they exist) can simply opt out of this recitation.  But my guess is that these tykes may be even more fervent in their love of their adopted country.  It is those 76 disaffected nihilists in Brookline who have inculcated their children with their spittle-sprayed hatred of this country ... and want to insure that their skulls-full-of-tofu keep their toes to the party line. 

It was not to happen this year. but eventually these poltroons will win ... and Norman Rockwell's vision of what patriotism means will be banished from one community after another in Massachusetts ... and then possibly in other states ... all in the name of respecting the diversity of ideas.  Can we instead call this the entropy of  devotion?  Then this country will no longer be a melting pot ... but, to use an appropriate metaphor ... it will be instead a fruitcake.  How sad it is!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Leaning Right

I was surprised to see that both lefties, Chris Matthews and Katrina Vanden Heuvel, this morning on Morning Joe appeared to be moving away from supporting President Obama and towards backing Mitt Romney in the next Presidential sweepstakes. (Mika Brzezinski is still a solid rump-swab for The Barry.)  And these are not the only paleo-turncoats I've noticed among Democrats.  Increasingly, Obama's support appears to be slipping within his previously-solid base.  This is surprising, even shocking, to me ... and the question is why?

All I can come up with is that, even though such people would prefer to have the U.S. become a Socialist (or even a Communist) country, they, nevertheless, still want to have a country.

Afterward: See Further Proof 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tattoo Taboo

The National Basketball Association's season is close to being cancelled ... see NBA Hiatus?  If all these NBA players end up on picket lines ... what are tattoo parlors around the country going to do for business?

(I realize that this entry is a little snarky, but I couldn't help myself.)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Crony Capitalism Redux

Halliburton* ... That's a name that, to most Liberals, typifies crony capitalism.  Dick Cheney was its CEO from 1995 to 2000 and the working assumption was that he directed unsolicited government business to it so that his stock would go up and he would unfairly prosper.  This may or may not be true, but what is true is that Halliburton is a large company that, because of its expertise, has received many federal contracts under both Republican and Democrat administrations.  It would be difficult to unravel whether there was any undue favoritism sent its way when Cheney was Vice President under George W. Bush ... but, so far, there has not been any creditable exposé.

However, the story under The Barry's watch is quite different.  I have previously written about crony capitalism instances here (see: Crony Capitalism.)  Now, below are four more examples of what government largess (crony capitalism) is directed to companies connected to our current administration:

- Siga Technologies, Inc, a Service Employees International Union (SEIU) connected company, has received a $443 million no-bid contract from the Obama administration for an experimental smallpox drug (see: Seedy Details).  Smallpox was eradicated worldwide in 1978.

- Fisker Automotive, a Finnish electric-car company connected with former Vice President, Al Gore, has received a $529 million loan guarantee from this administration's Energy Department to create zero jobs in the United States (see: Annoying Details). 

- Silver Spring Network, another administration butt-buddy, has had its connected utility companies recently given $560 million in grants ... again by the Energy Department (see: More Money to Friends).

- SolarReserve, a Nancy Pelosi-connected green-energy company, has been given a $737 million loan guarantee, once again by the Energy Department (see: Princess Nancy's Silk Purse).

And for even more, see John Stossel's comments on the Obama-friendly window company, Serious Materials (see: Stossel Spills the Beans).  And I'm reasonably sure that some more of this sewage will turn up before next year's election.

* Halliburton is not an oil company.  It is a project management and oil-well service company ...  it provides many services to oil companies (like putting out oil-well fires) and to many other entities ... such as the federal government.  Its biggest competitor is the French conglomerate, Schlumberger.

Afterward:  I was just listening to Senator Dan Coats on CSPAN about a $730 million Energy Dept. conditional loan to Severstal, a subsidiary of a Russian company, OAO, to produce high-strength steel for autos.  The problem, according to Sen. Coats, is that most of the rationales used by the Energy Dept. to justify this loan are fallacious.  I urge you to read the story on this loan at The Indiana Economic Digest.  The only thing missing from this analysis is ... exactly who is the administration's crony in this transaction.  But, given the looseness of the facts asserted by the Energy Dept., I'm reasonably sure that there is one.  Stay tuned.

Also $1.6 billion from the DOE to BrightSource Energy (a Robert F. Kennedy Jr. company) ... see: Another Biggie and $564 million of DOE money into a variety of biorefineiries including $25 million to Amyris ... see: DOE Honeypot  (major source: Throw Them All Out)

Long afterthought: Here is another link to a listing of Green Energy pork: Michelle Malkin

And: Another One Bites the Dust

Sunday, November 13, 2011

6 Questions …

For Liberals:

1) For what reason(s) do you oppose a balanced budget admendment to the Constitution?

2) What, beyond expressing economic malaise, is there to recommend the Occupiers?

3) Has Obamacare reduced your cost of medical care as promised?

4) Do you favor giving more billions to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?

5) Why should Israel go back to its 1948 borders and give up Jeruslem?

6) Are you better off today than you were in 2008?

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Candy Cain

What is my take on Herman Cain?  I'm really still up in the air.  I thought he was quite forthright in his press conference yesterday.  Whereas I was turned off by the fact that Gloria Allred's upcoming vacation in Bali (Sharon Bialek) had to read her own press-conference sleazy accusations of sexual misfeasance against Cain.  I don't want to get caught in the weeds of this possible scandal ... nor do I want to gnash my teeth over the double standard that seems to permeate such stories.  But I do want to complement Herman Cain, guilty or not, on his aplomb in the face of a possible career-ending press-lynching (to use a shibboleth).  His body language was confident.  He read very little of his apparently-prepared statement.  His voice didn't quaver.  He didn't use his wife as a prop.  And he easily answered all the questions poised.

I'm not endorsing Herman Cain for President here, but I do hope that he makes it through this media gauntlet without too many bruises.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Why I'll Vote for Mitt ...

The RedState blog has a current entry that castigates Mitt Romney as presaging the end to the Conservative movement after he loses to The Barry next year (see: Red State Blog.)  Mitt Romney seems to have legions of detractors within the Republican party: Rush Limbaugh, Erick Erickson (of the RedState blog), Howie Carr, Michael Graham, etc.  There even is a movement called  "Anyone But Mitt".  Most of this distaste arises from serious doubts about his Conservative credentials.  He was for abortions before he was against them; he ushered Romneycare into Massachusetts as a precursor to Obamacare;  etc.  However valid these doubts are, there is one reason, I'll vote for Romney -- he has the best chance of fixing this country's economic malaise.  And I believe that he will assemble around him the kind of people who understand how our economic engine is assembled and what it takes to bring about its overhaul. All else is, for the nonce, unimportant.

Yes, there will be fusillades of opposition TV ads attacking Romney next year (assuming he gets the nomination) about his vacillating on these issues, his Wall Street ties, and many Latter-Day-Saints innuendos.  After all, how will The Barry spend his billion dollar political war chest?  (A friend in the know has even suggested that Romney may have trouble buying TV spots leading up to the election ... since Obama, with all his campaign funds, will have reserved all the premium TV-spot buys.)  But, I have not, nor will I give up on Romney as I think, if he is elected, he will do what it takes to fix things ... like he did with the 2002 Winter Olympics.  Interestingly, David Brooks likes him too for President (see: David Brooks Endorsement) ... perhaps it's, once again, the crease in his pants?  And I also kind of doubt that there will be a Romney bimbo eruption eleven months hence.

By the bye, has anyone noticed the juxtaposition possibilities between Mitt Romney and Stephen Colbert?  Put a pair of rimless glasses on Romney and he could host the Colber(t) Repor(t).

Monday, November 07, 2011

What did he say?!?

Mark Shields was doing his regular end-of-show commentary gig on the PBS News Hour with Jim Lehrer last Friday ... along with David Brooks.  They were opining on the Herman Cain sexual assault innuendo scandal ... and comparing it with Bill Clinton's similar travails before the 1994 elections.  Mark Shields then actually said that, back then, Clinton "was smart enough to lie" about his peccadilloes with Monika Lewinsky.  David Brooks did not blanch.  Jim Lehrer, in disbelief, did not ask for Shields to repeat himself.  This was all on a nationally televised, presumably well-respected, news program (partially paid for by U.S. taxpayers.)

I guess this vignette, as much as anything, typifies the degree of moral degeneration to which this country has sunk.  What comes next ... Caligula?

Sunday, November 06, 2011

The Grimacing Reaper

Upon the death of my friend, Sambo.

Death hangs onto my shoulder,
Like a younger sibling.
He has been with me forever.
I cannot shake him,
Although, so far, he has let me be.
He has scythed many family and friends,
But why has he not harvested me?
Perhaps he has a sense of humor …

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Occam's Razor

The tenet of Occam's Razor states that the simplest solution is always the best solution.  We are now mired in a world full of financial complexity that threatens to bring us all down.  As an example, please read and try to understand what happened to MF Global that caused it to go belly-up recently, see  Corzine's Monumental Flub and Another Take.  So, what is the simplest solution?  I believe we need to return to the basic accounting rules that have been established over the millennia where an asset really is an asset and a credit really is a credit. 

For a number of years the MBA geniuses in the financial community have been standing these accounting rules on their heads with a lot of hugger mugger that conceals and distorts the financial well-being of institutions.  Jon Corzine, when he was at Goldman Sachs, himself helped Enron turn liabilities into assets and consequently bring down this erstwhile staid firm. And even our own Federal Reserve Bank is now playing in this sullied sand box, see: Finger on the Scale.

How did this happen?  I blame the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), the big accounting firms, and the accounting community in general ... who have earned their Street creds by dreaming up new ways of subverting our tried and true accounting principles.  And they have created financial instruments of greater and greater complexity (see the MF Global reference above) whereby even their creators don't fully understand all the possible consequences of a rapidly changing environment.

We need to return to accounting basics and strip out all the FASB rules that permit these financial shenanigans by creating reporting exceptions to reporting exceptions to reporting exceptions ... and permit multitudinous off-balance sheet transactions and fiscal slight-of-hand.  And Congress needs to pass stringent laws that disallow any financial instrument to be created and traded for which Joe Biden cannot comprehend and explain in one sentence.

Monday, October 31, 2011

As Expected ...

Herman Cain has now been predictably accused of sexual harassment ... see: Politico.  I wonder if this has anything to do with a pubic hair on a Coke can?

(For those of you too young to understand this reference, here is the connection: Anita Hill's Accusation.)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Population Bomb

The United Nations Population Fund has stated that the population of the world will hit seven billion people this coming week, see: U.N. Prediction.  Now this seems like a bodacious number and, I'm sure, will bring many Malthusians out of the woodwork with their hair on fire ... predicting the end of everything.  May I suggest that you, dear readers, follow the Clintonians' advice and "step back and take a deep breath." 

This is really not as many people as one might think.  There has been some analyses that put this number into more rational perspectives.  See a little older analysis: and a much better newer one: Detailed Analysis.  Both these studies indicate that the world's population could relatively easily reside inside Texas with enough room to move around (not counting food production and water availability.)  I have also heard two other comparisons that I have not yet found detailed on the Internet, but I believe to be somewhat factual: 1) all the world's population could be crowded (ala a New York subway car) onto the area the size of Cape Cod and Nantucket, and 2) this same population, if stacked like cord wood would fill something like a mile of the Grand Canyon.

I think that these images place this seven-billion-person world population figure into a less frenetic perspective.  More interestingly, one can also think of this "population bomb" in terms of "biomass" (see: Biomass Definition).  It is estimated that the total human biomass is 250 to 450 million tons (see: Democratic Underground and Google Reference).  This is maybe less than one percent of the total biomass of the world (an estimated 44 billion tons) ... whereas termites, by themselves, represent about an astounding 17% of the world's biomass!

I hope that these numbers will allow you worrywarts out there to now rest easier.

ADDENDA: Read what some countries have done to control their populations: Powerline Part1 and Part 2

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Flea Party

Rhymes with "Tea Party."  I think that this appellation is attributed to Ann Coulter.  She is referring to the "Occupiers" of course.