Thursday, November 20, 2014

A case where the headline says it all

Obama’s Amnesty Will Add As Many Foreign Workers As New Jobs Since 2009

Well, the headline doesn't quite say it all, as the article is rather good. Here's an additional nugget worth pointing out:
Each year, the nation accepts one million new [legal] immigrants, or roughly five million since 2009. That total includes roughly 3.5 million working-age immigrants, which is slightly less than the number of Americans — 4.3 million — who turn 18 each year.

Also, companies annually hire roughly 450,000 blue-collar guest workers and roughly 200,000 white-collar guest workers. Most of these guest workers stay for less than a year, but many stay for six years. [emphasis added]
 And he didn't even kiss us.

One final bit:
The surplus of domestic and foreign job-seekers also helps ensure that U.S. median wages have flat-lined since 2000. Economists — including Obama’s top economic adviser — say that wages stall when the labor supply is larger than the supply of new jobs.
So remember that they known goddamned well & good what they're doing to American workers by opening the floodgates even wider for more immigration. It works to reduce employment and wages for the native born.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Another look at emploment numbers

Taken from a series of comments elsewhere. I'm not going to edit them, just leave them as the stream of consciousness-data spewing that they were, with a few minor formatting changes:

...

Just because it’s what I do:

Full Time Employment is currently ~2,243,000 BELOW what it was at the peak in November of 2007.

Employment Level – 25 to 54 years is currently ~4,670,000 BELOW what it was at the peak in November of 2007.

Percentage of Population Employed – 25 to 54 years is currently ~2.87% BELOW what it was at the peak in November of 2007.

Still haven’t bothered to find full-time employment numbers for 25 to 54 years. Anyone want to bet that number is any better than the ones above?

Anyway, the above is all the argument necessary against continued immigration into this country of any kind. Those arguing for it can only be assumed to be against American workers.

...

Foreign born employed is up almost two million since the last peak, BTW. Not a direct proxy for illegal immigration, but a fine proxy for immigration overall. That’s series LNU02073395.

...

Yikes, still haven’t broken out the monthly data, but I got curious and found a good proxy for what I want with annual averages for

25 to 54 worked 35 or more hours a week (000s)
2007 78,854
2013 73,589

So that’s a drop of 5,265,000 full-time jobs for people in their prime working years, from 2007 to 2013. That demographic only declined by about 1,300,000 over that time frame, so that isn’t a demographic shift: that is economic ruination. As a percentage of that age group, that’s over 3.5% fewer people [in this age group] with full-time jobs.

Again, over a similar time period foreign born workers gained about 2,000,000 jobs, so the actual numbers for native born workers are actually considerably worse.

Tell me how cheap labor is going to make up for THAT mess!

Link 2007 data

Link 2013 data

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Ebola, and the stupidity of categorical statements from public officials

Today the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made a categorical statement about the new case of Ebola in Texas. The CDC Director, Dr. Tom Frieden, made the following statement:

At some point, there was a breach in protocol, and that breach in protocol resulted in this infection. The (Ebola treatment) protocols work. ... But we know that even a single lapse or breach can result in infection.
However, the CDC went on to state that they had spoken with the nurse and could NOT determine what the failure in procedures was. They do not know what, if anything, the nurse or anyone else did wrong.

While it is most likely true that this new case was a result of a failure to observe safety protocols, the CDC should not be making categorical statements. And here's why.

Taken from the President's remarks on September 16, 2014 [the President's remarks are in block quotes, my responses are not]:
First and foremost, I want the American people to know that our experts, here at the CDC and across our government, agree that the chances of an Ebola outbreak here in the United States are extremely low.
Within three days, an asymptomatic infected person was on his way to the USA via plane.  So much for the consensus view of the experts.
We’ve been taking the necessary precautions, including working with countries in West Africa to increase screening at airports so that someone with the virus doesn’t get on a plane for the United States.
Wrong. See previous comment. The methodologies for screening were so rigorous that lying and Ibuprofen could beat them. Given how easily Duncan entered the country, the chances of this happening were not "extremely low."
In the unlikely event that someone with Ebola does reach our shores, we’ve taken new measures so that we’re prepared here at home.  We’re working to help flight crews identify people who are sick, and more labs across our country now have the capacity to quickly test for the virus.
This one appears to be true. Thank God some of it was.
We’re working with hospitals to make sure that they are prepared, and to ensure that our doctors, our nurses and our medical staff are trained, are ready, and are able to deal with a possible case safely.
So prepared that they got an Ebola victim and sent him home with anti-biotics. And so prepared that according to the CDC itself the medical staff at the hospital in Texas were too poorly trained to implement the procedures correctly.

Three out of four sentences wrong, although at least the President's speech writers stuck in a slight qualifier in the first sentence.

This is why the CDC should not have made the categorical statement they made regarding the new case in Texas. By doing so they look arrogant, and look especially stupid in light of the President's comments from September 16th, which were no doubt made after the relevant people from the CDC had made their views known to the President and his staff. As it is, they look like the jerk-off NASA administrators who said that the chance of a shuttle failure resulting in catastrophic loss of life and equipment were one in millions or less. It erodes their credibility, and does not reassure the public.

NOTE: I am not implying the President or his advisers were lying on September 16th or today. Perhaps they are, but that isn't proven and I will give them the benefit of the doubt. But the remarks from September 16th have serious credibility issues, and today's comments left them no wiggle room should the new statement be incorrect. And even if their belief is correct, today's statement projects arrogance, which is off-putting to say the least.
Instead, the CDC should have released a statement worded something like this:
We’re confident that our safety protocols are effective and believe that one or more of these protocols were likely breached resulting in this additional case. We are working with the infected nurse and her coworkers to determine exactly what happened. We will work diligently to insure no further breaches of established best practices, or if we need to revise our protocols.
That would have been reassuring without projecting know-it-all arrogance.

Friday, October 03, 2014

The new jobs numbers

Much is being made of the new jobs report, and how it signals how wonderful the economy is.

Well, that's bullshit. Here are some of the more pertinent facts, as compiled from the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank's FRED database:

On the job front, we’re still approximately 2.6 million full time jobs behind where we were at the prior peak. This after more than five years of ‘recovery’.
 
Also, looking at FRED data I see that people ages 25-54 have over 4.85 million fewer jobs now than at the prior peak. But that population has only dropped by 1.4 million. Overall, the employment percentage for that group has dropped 3% points since the prior peak.

Again, this is after almost five years of 'recovery'. This expansion will not last forever, and it will likely end before we reach the old peaks of full time jobs and jobs of any kind for people in their prime working years. Which hurts those folks immensely, as it will negatively impact everything from total life-time earnings to starting new families. And new household formation has been a classic and strong driver of economy growth in the past. As new household formation falls, that reduces prospects for future growth.

Just try and remember all of this when people state how wonderful a job Obama is doing, and how wonderful the current 'recovery' is. Politeness may force you to have to listen to it, and you may not even be able to object lest you lose your job or other standing, but you don't have to believe it. And if you decide to punch the speaker in the face repeatedly, know that there are several million good reasons to do so. And that's BEFORE looking at the wage numbers, which present their own horror story....

*****

Links to data here:

Employed, Usually Work Full Time

Employment Level - 25 to 54 years

Civilian Noninstitutional Population - 25 to 54 years

 

 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Squirrel of the Week: [Vacant]

For the week of 9/21/2014 to 9/27/2014

No squirrel last week, unless it was Becky.

Squirrel of the Week: It distracted me so much I forgot to blog it.

For the week of 9/14/2014 to 9/20/2014

 I done forgot all about it. Having too much fun cutting stuff down and playing chess.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Squirrel of the Week: Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner

For the week of 9/7/2014 to 9/13/2014

This is disheartening. I'm not sure I've ever seen a dumber media frenzy than this one. People are madder at Goodell for punishing Ray Rice than they are at Ray Rice for knocking out his girlfriend and dragging her around by the hair.

They're mad at Goodell for meting out punishment and have no problem with the fact that the government did NOTHING about this save assign some counseling. Gee, would I rather go to prison, or get counseling? Would I rather pay a fine, or get counseling? Would I rather wear one of those ugly orange jumpers and pick up trash on the side of the road as my community service, or get counseling?

And worst of all, when the public got mad about all this, it was over a video that showed NOTHING that wasn't already known. Months back the story was that Rice hit his then fiancee (and now wife) knocking her out cold, and dragged her around by the hair. This is what the video showed. Nothing new was learned by the publication of the video. But NOW people are getting worked up about this. Unbelievable.

Worse, many other players in the NFL, both current and former, have committed worse acts that aren't getting any play at all. I think Donte Stallworth killing someone while driving drunk is probably more serious than the Ray Rice incident, but you wouldn't know it from the reaction of the public right now. Stallworth was suspended for one season. Rice has been suspended indefinitely.

And it has been particularly revolting to see Ray Lewis and Trent Dilfer comment on the matter. Ray Lewis was charged with two counts of murder many years back. He and two friends were involved in an incident in Buckhead Georgia which resulted in two much smaller men being stabbed to death. Lewis and his friends were all indicted. Lewis eventually plead guilty to obstruction of justice and testified against his friends in order to get the charges dropped. His friends later got off anyway.

Trent Dilfer was Lewis's teammate. Dilfer now talks about how he couldn't play with someone like Rice. Lewis talks about he is a much better person than Rice and wouldn't want to be teammates with him. They're both full of shit.

Ultimately, this is moral outrage as a positional good. People are feeling better about themselves by being more outraged than their neighbors. What a load of horse shit.

I wanted to write something more in depth about this matter, but ultimately I just can't get over the stink of the rank hypocrisy and phony moral outrage that surrounds this and related matters. You know it's all bullshit, because very little outrage is being directed at people who have done worse, but are now lauded for what exemplary human being they are. (Ray Lewis was the face of the NFL his last few seasons in the league, and is now one of ESPN's most notable TV stars.)

Further, you get cases like US District Judge Mike Fuller. Just look that one up for yourself. You will find that the Senators demanding that Goodell be fired for not doing enough to punish Ray Rice are doing nothing about a federal judge who beat the Hell out of his wife. Not only are they not taking care of the import matters of war and economics that fall within their purview, they're not even going after the wife beater that only they, as a constitutional matter, can go after. They won't even mention it. Worst Congress ever.

I just can't write more about this, as it just makes me sick to my stomach, both for the crimes at the heart of the matter, and the way they're being handled and manipulated by the elites of the country in order to distract from small matter like war. Revolting.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Correcting little old ladies

At the time I'm writing this, about 2:20 PM on Thursday September 11, 2014, CNN's top stories include a story about a local police matter in Missouri, TWO about whether or not the NFL saw a video of one of its players KTFOing his girlfriend, a story about an obscure king-maker in South Carolina's Presidential Primary of 2016, another story about a big solar storm headed this way, another account reminiscing what it was like to be with President Bush on 9/11/2001, and only then a story about Obama's proposed new war in Iraq and Syria.

Really, it couldn't be more revolting to follow US news outlets these days. It's not like everything is going well and there's nothing else to talk about.

The old lady was wrong: it's nothing but squirrels all the way down.

[Set to publish much later tonight.]

A new family motto

The old family motto came from a comment by my mother:

We're not crazy; we're just mean.

Too true. But since I've either disowned my family or been disowned by them (and good riddance either way), I want a new motto. Today, in a text to my wife, I may have hit upon it.

If I'm going to be a fluffy pink poodle with purple sequins, I'm going to do it the right way.

Context might help you understand it, but why worry about that? Should probably make it first person plural, though....

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Trent Dilfer is a Tool

Watched the San Diego-Arizona game Monday night. Got to hear Trent Dilfer talk about the Ray Rice situation, and how he tells the children he coaches that they need to win on the field and off.

This from a man who has a Super Bowl ring because he played with a man who admitted that he attempted to help two friends get away with murder. That's what he admitted to - e may well have been the killer himself.

The moral preening around the Ray Rice case is particularly disgusting. More on that later.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

A PSA about PSA Tests....

September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. My wife, Kim, has asked me to broadcast this information. More than a decade ago she lost her father to prostate cancer, so this matter is near and dear to her heart.

So to all the gentleman, and other males, out there, go get a finger shoved up your ass by a professional. It might just save your life. And it might spare your daughters, wives, sons and other loved ones from a feeling of loss due to your absence.

NOTES:

PSA = Public Service Announcement

PSA Test = Prostate-Specific Antigen Test, a blood test to help detect prostate cancer; used in conjunction with Digital Rectal Exams for screening purposes.

More information can be found here and here.

Monday, September 08, 2014

For the corporations and their top managers and owners, everything; for everyone else, nothing.

Same old same old from the Harvard Business School:

Harvard Business School Alumni Temper Pessimism About the U.S.

Sounds good as a headline. But it starts looking grim as one digs deeper:
“Many business leaders see smoother waters ahead, with the promise of stronger and steadier growth in America,” Harvard Business School professors Michael E. Porter and Jan W. Rivkin wrote in a report on the poll.

The country’s recovery, though, is bifurcated, according to the report. Large and mid-size companies have rallied strongly from the worst recession since the Great Depression, while middle- and working-class Americans and small businesses are struggling.

“The U.S. is competitive to the extent that firms operating here do two things: win in global markets and lift the living standards of the average American,” Porter, who is co-chair of Harvard Business School’s U.S. Competitiveness Project, said in a press release. “The U.S. economy is doing the first of these but failing at the second.” 
 Essentially, if you're in the top ten percent, you're golden. If you're in the bottom 90%, you're getting the golden shower from your betters. And THIS makes those folks feel good about themsleves and life in general.

There are two likely endings to this scenario, and neither of them are good.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Squirrel of the Week: Jennifer Lawrence's Butt

For the week of 8/31/2014 to 9/6/2014

Okay, okay, Jennifer Lawrence's butt isn't really the squirrel, but that's click-bait.The real Squirrel of the Week includes Jennifer Lawrence's butt, however. That squirrel you saw flittering around last week was Celebrity Skin. (Which is an album by Courtney Love's band Hole, BTW.)

That included the big iCloud hack that revealed photos that celebrities wanted kept private, and also Joan Rivers, who had died before the week before.

I don't really have much to say about either that hasn't been said over and over again. Regarding the former, people need to not put things into a digital format if they don't want those things all over the internet. Because everything can be hacked. Apple's reputation for security has really been more about the fact that Apple products occupied a much smaller niche of the market than Micro$oft products, and the hackers tend to focus their efforts on the biggest possible returns. But now that Apple has become a much bigger deal, the hackers will rake them over the coals as well.

As for all the Celebrity Skin photos and video, I haven't looked and I don't intend to. Not because I'm some sort of shirking violet, or because I'm respecting their privacy. It's just that I don't think it is worth it. I'm not sure how many people are "on the internet", but it is probably over two billion people. And approximately one billion of those people have put up homemade erotica/porn. There's an awful lot of unknown amateur skin out there, and some of it looks quite good. And that doesn't include the professionals! I'm sure Jennifer Lawrence's butt looks quite nice, but I'm pretty sure I've seen plenty that look just as nice. It's just not worth the effort.

As for Joan Rivers: You either liked her, or you didn't. I actually did, and part of the reason for that was that she was as brutal with herself as she was with the other targets of her wit. That counts for something to me.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Winning on the Internet

The other day we decided to switch my daughter from her five-point harness child seat to a booster seat configuration. This required removing her seat. That proved hard because the LATCH system anchors were synched in tight. So I had to work hard to get it out. Ultimately I had to move the front passenger side seat all the way forward.

(Incidentally, when I'm God-Emperor, I'm going to ban child safety seats for children over the age of 1. Let the little devils sit on their dad's laps while he drives, smokes and drinks beer at the same time. It's how we were all raised and we all survived to adulthood. It'll toughen 'em up!)

This was all well and good until the next morning when we got in the car, and the passenger side seat was stuck in the forward position.

Oops.

We have a 2003 Toyota Camry XLE, and it turns out that running the electric seats all the way forward often causes them to get stuck.

I wish I had known that.

So, the choices became letting the missus sit in the back (which we did for the day), taking it to a dealer to get it fixed (more on that shortly), or trying to fix it myself.

Turns out I just happened to have a Chilton's Manual for this car from the library. Kim read through that while I drove yesterday. No help in the manual. So then she hit the internet.

First she found that this was a common problem. And she also found that many people were being given quotes from their mechanics that the fix (involving removing the seat and replacing the electric motor) in the $1,000 to $1,300 price range. Yowza! Don't have the money, and wouldn't want to spend it anyway.

Bu she also found solutions. The easiest way involved using a hammer. Unfortunately, that didn't work. I suspect that method would work, though, if you stopped fiddling with the seat once it was stuck, which I didn't do.

But that got to the method that DID work. There was even a helpful YouTube video! This worked. The only thing I had to do was get an S2 drill bit. (I may have had one somewhere, but didn't find it.) So yesterday morning, while out on another errand, I stopped in at Sears and picked up an S2 drill bit. (Along with 100 other bits, as this handy Craftsman 100-Pc. Drilling and Driving Kit was on sale for $14.99.) That, and the video, and about five minutes were enough to fix the seat.

And since I needed more masonry drill bits anyway, the big drilling and driving kit was also a win. (It's good to have all those bits in one place anyhow. I have some stuff here, some there, a lot in my main tool boxes, some security Torx bits in my computer repair kit, etc.)

Thus the internet saved me a lot of money AND inconvenience.

But this gets me to an interesting point. This is the kind of issue one could use to test one's mechanic for both knowledge and honesty. Fixing this would cost you some money at the mechanic. The mechanic WOULD be using his time and equipment. But it should come in around $50-$100 if he knows what he's doing AND is honest. If, on the other hand, he comes back and tells you it will cost $1,000+, then you know something is wrong, and perhaps you should get a new mechanic.

Squirrel of the Week: Wait for it ... Wait for it ....

For the week of 8/24/2014 to 8/30/2014

This week I briefly thought the Brangelina marriage wold be the squirrel. But then, Joan River's collapsed! Surely THAT would be the squirrel.

But no, it was not to be. Showing how he dominates the US media (but little else), Obama provided his own squirrel this week:

The tan suit.APTOPIX Obama-Tan Suit
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, file)

The suit obscured Obama's comments about the wars in Ukraine, Iraq and Syria, possible US involvement in those wars, the threat of terrorism to Americans abroad and at home. It especially obscured the fact that his comments undercut his State Department, Defense Department and his intelligence agencies.

The President also admitted he didn't have a strategy for dealing with ISIS. 

But the only thing that mattered was the tan suit.

What the Hell happened to America?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Over 19 million people live in the state of Florida ...

... and the best we can come up with to run for governor are Rick Scott and Charlie Crist. The amazing thing about this race will be the combination of the negativity, which will be high, and the fact that most of the negative comments about both contenders are true.

Revolting.

But it must be particularly depressing for Democrats. Seriously, the best candidate they can find is the worst governor in living memory, who happened to be a Republican up until he couldn't win Republican primaries?

Even by the current debased and degraded standards, this is awful.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Squirrel of the Week: The Golf Vacation

For the week of 8/17/2014 to 8/23/2014

The issue isn't so much that the President is spending so much time on vacation playing golf. Rather, it's that he's no less effective when doing so than when he's in the White House.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Squirrel of the Week: Tie: Robin Williams suicide and Michael Brown's death

For the week of 8/10/2014 to 8/16/2014

Both events seem to have largely overshadowed events of much greater import elsewhere, such as the evolving Ebola crisis, the continuing crisis with ISIS in Iraq, the slow boil war between Russia and Ukraine, and so on.

This is not to say both stories don't merit some attention. If Robin Williams wasn't widely beloved, he was as close to it as possible without achieving the goal. But the Brown situation, like the Trayvon Martin case or the Casey Anthony case, really merits no more than local attention.

But that's not how things work.

Incidentally, the note how the big story last weekend involved Tony Stewart and the fatal track accident he was involved in. That went away pretty much entirely after Robin Williams death was announced.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Squirrel of the Week, Chess Player Edition: Garry Kasparov

For the week of 8/3/2014 to 8/9/2014

Garry Kasparov has been running for the Presidency of the International Chess Federation, know by its Franch acronym of FIDE. He has been running against the 19 year incumbent, one Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. The incumbent is someone that got rich from running a small semi-antonymous republic in Russia after the breakup of the Soviet Union. Among other things, he is alleged to have had at least one opposition journalist murdered, and has claimed that he was abducted by aliens and taken to the moon for consultations. (This last allegedly happened in 1997, while President of FIDE.)

Kirsan has been an awful President of FIDE. But he has been masterful at buying votes come election time, and has held onto his office for a long time. And he will get another four years as today he crushed Kasparov in the election for FIDE President. He has expressed his interest in being President for life.

But Garry is the squirrel in all of this. In fact, Kirsan is something of a squirrel. The problem is with an international sporting federation that is so poorly designed that someone like Kirsan can come to and maintain power. The election is meaningless, and unless changes are made to FIDE's structure (and they won't be) nothing will change. Chess will continue to be a very marginal sport, with a joke of a governing body.

Squirrel of the Week: Stephen A. Smith

For the week of 7/27/2014 to 8/2/2014

It's very late, but it was Stephen A. Smith for his confused and/or awful comments about domestic violence. Frankly, it is too late to care now, and I didn't care then. Deciphering SAS's thoughts is something not worth the effort.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Squirrel of the Week: The NFL as Social Engineering Device

For the week of 7/20/2014 to 7/26/2014

One hesitates to wade into it. Last week we had Tony Dungy getting blasted for not loving gays enough. We Had Chris Kluwe blasting Dungy at the same time we found out that Kluwe had previously harassed a co-worker by making non-stop child rape jokes.

(Punters should be seen, not heard. Kickers should only very rarely be heard from, namely when and/or if one: makes a clutch game-winning field goal; or produces a great on-side kick, or has a Garo Yeprimian Moment. In that last case, the kicker should be forced to explain himself. Or possibly do a deodorant commercial. "Damn!")

But the real story concerned Ray Rice's suspension for domestic violence. I'm not going to go into all the details of that, you can look it up if you care enough. And I'm certainly not going to talk about the Stephen A. Smith sideline, not at this late date.

What I will say is this: It is ridiculous to expect that the NFL should punish Rice to a greater extent than the law did for this incident, given that the NFL has no contractual reasons to do so. Much has been made of the NFL suspending other players for drug use, especially marijuana. But those guidelines have been drawn out specifically in contract negotiations between the NFL and the NFLPA, the players' union. And they have been negotiated because of the effects drugs have on the game, not because drugs are immoral or bad in-and-of themselves.

Instead, this falls under a kind of "general discretion" set of language. Again, I'm not going to go into the NFL's particular ruling on this case. I will just say that it actually _IS_ in line with many other violent offenses committed by NFL players. In fact, Ray Rice is getting punished more for this than Ray Lewis (also of the Baltimore Ravens) got punished for his participation in a double murder. (Lewis ultimately pled guilty to obstruction of justice in that case.)

Let me reiterate: Rice is getting punished more by the NFL than he is being punished by the legal system. And before I hear another complaint about how rich people get away with all kinds of things because of their money (although they do), this isn't one of those cases. Consider my idiot neighbor.

Idiot neighbor has been arrested and charged with violent crimes 19 times. That would be for a total of 14 felony charges, 12 misdemeanor charges and five unclassified charges. At least 2 of the felony charges and 10 of the misdemeanor charges, as well as all five unclassified charges, have been for domestic violence.

Most likely some of the other violent charges are domestic in nature but I can only get so much from the Orange County Clerk of Courts website. Not all concern domestic violence, however, as he has one "hit and run" charge and a couple for physically assaulting a police officer.

These charges also do not count drug charges, tampering with evidence charges, or a long string of traffic citations that do not include hit and run. And these are only records for one county in Florida. I have reason to suspect he has been in trouble in at least one other Central Florida county. (And yes, I know an awful lot about him. His behavior, both on his own and with his dogs, has forced me to look into his background in order to protect myself.)

He's been in a lot of trouble. He's also skipped bail at least twice, and violated terms of probation on many occasions. He is not a "good person", as demonstrated by a long record.

So when he got arrested on 1 felony count and 2 misdemeanor counts of domestic violence, again, in March of this year, I expected that he would FINALLY get the book thrown at him. After all, he had five felony convictions at that time, as well as 9 misdemeanor convictions, with two of the felonies and all nine of the misdemeanors being for domestic violence. (As well as those five unclassified charges, all of which were for "Domestic Violence with Children [Present]".) And this time there were multiple witnesses who did not seem to be interested in dropping charges.

Instead the two initial misdemeanor charges were dropped, and the felony was reduced to a misdemeanor in exchange for a no contest plea. He got six days time served. And all this happened AFTER he skipped bail again on another charge, skipped the felony trial for that other charge, and eventually was caught and pled guilty to another felony. Six days in jail for his 17th domestic violence conviction.

And my neighbor is dirt poor. He's still trying to pay off a fine from 2004!

So, Ray Rice being put into an interdiction program, especially after his then-fiancee-now-wife pled for leniency, isn't really all that big a stretch, even for someone without money.

Thus, I see no reason for the NFL to punish Ray Rice more than they have. It is NOT their job.

It IS the job of "the authorities", however, and focusing on Ray Rice, Roger Goodell and the NFL let's those who should be responsible off the hook.

The NFL is NOT a social engineering device. It is a sports league dedicated to making money. Expecting it to be more than that is a bunch of promotional hokum, purveyed by various bands of hucksters. (Including the NFL itself, of course.)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

How hot is Florida in July?

Cross posted to Ambiance on July 27, 2014 at 8:30 pm

Hot enough to melt people's brains.

A friend of mine, Heather Fallon, posted this example to FaceBook:

Posted Friday, 7/25

A few days ago, 9 year old Jake and our 14 year old neighbor, ventured out (with full parental permissions) on their bikes, wearing helmets, with cell phones, cash, and water bottles, for a 3 mile bike ride (sidewalk the WHOLE route) to the comic book store. Just as they got to their destination, two deputy sheriffs AND a state trooper pulled up in front of them. Someone called 911 and said "it's way too hot for two young boys to be riding bikes." The caller described the youngest boy as being "FIVE". His neighborhood friend who has been our neighbor for 14 years (ALL OF JAKE'S LIFE), when asked by the Po-Po, said Jake was "I dunno. Like 5 or 6 maybe." Parents were called and went and retrieved the boys. I wasn't there but I think Billy asked the cops something like, "WTF? Y'all got nuthin' better to do? THREE cop cars had to respond? They had helmets. They biked together. They had a phone and made a call home at their halfway mark. We finally get them out of the video game CAVE and What did they do WRONG?" They answered a complaint from someone alleging two boys were in danger. From heat. Outside. In Florida. In July. And then just as the words "heat exhaustion" were mentioned, Jake hurled red Gatorade.
Yep. Reminds me of the police showing up in force at my house late last year because someone called the cops on me for having abducted a child. The child was my daughter, and apparently someone heard me tell her, "Catherine, I won't leave you behind. I will never leave you behind," and took that to mean I was kidnapping her. (What I was actually doing was reassuring my very cranky child that I wasn't, you know, going to leave her behind someplace.)

All of which gets me to a conversation at our household this morning:

Wife: It's National Parents Day!
Me: Huh.
Wife: I think this means we can run away!
Daughter: _I_ don't want to run away!
Wife: You weren't invited!

I'm pretty sure that could get us arrested.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Squirrel of the Week: Vladimir Putin

For the week of 7/13/2014 to 7/19/2014

Yes, Big Bad Vlad is this week's squirrel. You might think that Vlad shouldn't count as a squirrel, and you're probably right. But the shooting down of the MH17, while almost certainly done by Russian backed rebels, shouldn't really be a geopolitical event. The reason is this: What the Hell were people thinking flying a civilian airliner through a war-zone? That is the height of irresponsibility. However bad these pro-Russian Ukrainian rebels might be, they are actually fighting a war, and should be expected to shoot at people and things they don't recognize as friends.

So talk of Vladimir Putin's awfulness is entirely beside the point. As is talk of pressuring Russia to cease hostilities. They'll likely stop when good and ready, but I doubt anything the US can do will accomplish anything meaningful, save perhaps to fuel Lurch's ambitions to be President. Europe, which has large amounts of trade with Russia, will have to lead on this front, and they're entirely ambivalent about doing anything. Russia has them by the short and curlies at least as much as they have Russia by the short and curlies. But as it is, Europe is so serious about opposing Russian ambitions that they're selling weapons to Russia!

So, Vlad really is a squirrel, you see, because all the bluff and bluster means nothing.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Read it and weep: The (association) football edition

From Razib Khan:

Qatar is going to spend $200 billion over a 10 year period on amenities for soccer because it is hosting the World Cup in 2022. Yes, the World Cup is a very big deal. But did you know that NASA’s budget for 2012 was less than 20 billion dollars. In other words Qatar could create its own rival to NASA if it wanted. But why would they? 
Comments number 2 and 7 are particularly noteworthy. A warning, though: Don't comment at Razib's site unless you've got a good point and can express it clearly, as he moderates comments and is brutal about it. (I thank him for that, too.)

More thoughts later, if I can find two functions brain cells in my cranium and get them talking to each other.

ADDED: Actually, a thought now. It should be noted that Qatar is a small country, and that the money they are spending is basically for a one-off event. A lot of what they're doing will be completely pointless by 2023.

Of course, in 2014 one could say the same about the entire history of the US manned-space program from 1959 to 2011, given that we can no longer get people into orbit ourselves unless we hitch a ride with a country with whom we have hostile relations. Progress!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Squirrel of the Week: the Child Migrant

For the week of 7/6/2014 to 7/12/2014

Last week we started hearing about the need to be kind to poor "migrant" "children" flooding across the borders. Given that a large percentage (I've seen numbers reported as high as 80%, but who can tell when the Administration is keeping everything this secret?) of these children are 14 or older (allegedly), and that they're coming here with no intent to return, this is just blatant manipulation.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Squirrel of the Week: Justin Ross Harris

For the week of 6/29/2014 to 7/5/2014

The Border Meltdown continues, the employment report was NOT as good as the headlines suggest, we're still 3,671,000 full-time jobs short of where we were before the recession started, and any number of other issues, and a tragic story of little significance to those outside the Atlanta area is sucking the air out of the news.

Just another week of hard-hitting "journalism".

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Squirrel of the Week: No winner this week (UPDATED)

For the week of 6/22/2014 to 6/28/2014

Again, we didn't really get a squirrel last week. There's too much happening for even the American news media to come up with squirrels for diversion. I almost choose The DREAMer for the squirrel, or rather the propoganda version of same, but all those propaganda efforts have failed to hide that the US Federal government has unilaterally dissolved the southern border.

UPDATE: Fuckin' A, bubba! CNN is featuring a story on Casey Anthony today (July 3). Between this and that case in Cobb County, Georgia, Nancy Grace must be in Heaven.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

One hundred years ago today ...

... European civilization began a decades long attempt at suicide. They seem to have survived, but the wounds received have never really healed.

Friday, June 27, 2014

New study: Since 2000, all US job growth has gone to immigrants

Here's a link to the study.

Here's a link to a summary.

From the second link:

Other significant findings include:
  • Because the native-born population grew significantly, but the number working actually fell, there were 17 million more working-age natives not working in the first quarter of 2014 than in 2000.
  • The share of natives working or looking for work, referred to as labor force participation, shows the same decline as the employment rate. In fact, labor force participation has continued to decline for working-age natives even after the jobs recovery began in 2010.
  • Immigrants have made gains across the labor market, including lower-skilled jobs such as maintenance, construction, and food service; middle-skilled jobs like office support and health care support; and high­er-skilled jobs, including management, computers, and health care practitioners.
  • The supply of potential workers is enormous: 8.7 million native college graduates are not working, as are 17 million with some college, and 25.3 million with no more than a high school education.
Remember all this when our lords and masters feed you that line of bullshit about not having enough native labor to do the jobs. If that were true, wages would be rising, but the opposite has been occurring. It's the people running the country, people like Obama and Bush (pick one), Boehner and Pelosi, Reid and McConnell, and all the big money behind them, such as Buffet, Zuckerberg and Soros, against most of the rest of the country. 

Unfortunately both parties have enough stooges and useful idiots that we can't get any real change in the direction of the country.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Taking Nominations for Squirrel of the Week

What the title says. Got a suggestion for a completely non-relevant person, place or thing that is taking away attention from the real news of the day? Let me know here. Nominations are for the week running from 6/22/2014 to 6/28/2014. The judge's decision, though, will ultimately be his own, and will be subject to completely arbitrary criteria.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Squirrel of the Week: HILLARY!

For the week of 6/15/2014 to 6/21/2014


Not much in the way of Squirrel action last week, either, but Hillary did manage to take the title away from Government IT Guy. The Hillary book, plus the Hillary book tour, plus the reporting on the problems with the Hillary book sales and the Hillary book tour interviews made her the winner, although again it was a week dominated by actual news. Government IT Guy getting thrown under the bus was a distraction from real news, but it was also a case of actual news, too.

But I just can't take the kick-off to Hillary's latest Presidential run seriously. Partly it is that I just don't believe that she will be the Dem Nominee in 2016 (due to age and campaign-competence factors), and partly because I refuse to acknowledge that this crap matters at this stage.

Monday, June 16, 2014

"This IT worker had to train an H-1B replacement"

From ComputerWorld: Read it and weep. And remember this the next time some Tech Billionaire complains that there aren't Americans capable of or willing to do the work. They're lying, as are the bastards in government trying to expand the H-1B visa program. This is all about driving down wages in this country.

Squirrel of the Week: 6/8/2014 to 6/14/2014

There was no Squirrel of the Week! They tried to resurrect the OJ story, and if they had succeeded in a meaningful way I would have named OJ Simpson as Squirrel of the Week. But it didn't happen! On the day CNN.com heavily promoted a story featuring Kato Kaelin, Mosul fell. With all the grim news last week, squirrels were largely ignored.

Huh.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Situation in Iraq

Okay, so this group ISIS is overrunning large sections of Iraq, and may well take over most of the non-Kurdish parts.

Many here and elsewhere believe that we (the USA) need to act to protect that government. Also pledging support to the Iraqi government are the Ba'athist regime of Bashar Assad, and the Ayatollahs of Iran. ISIS is also fighting a war with al Qaeda in Syria at the moment, and at this point in time are probably the world's most accomplished killers of al Qaeda.

So, if we do what so many think we should do, we will be allying ourselves with al Qaeda, Ba'athists and the Ayatollahs.

This is more fucked up than fizbin. This is more fucked up than a German porno. In fact, I think we can safely say that our foreign policy has jumped the shark.

I think it may be time to admit that the Middle East is too much for us to handle, and to get the Hell out.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Squirrel of the Week: 6/1/2014 to 6/7/2014

Bowe Bergdahl, our first repeat winner!

I've picked Bowe Bergdahl as the winner the last two weeks because he is he distraction within a distraction. Let me explain.

First, Bergdahl's status (as either the All-American Hero to hear the Administration tell it, as a deserter to hear his former platoon members tell it, or as a possible traitor to hear many others tell it) is largely irrelevant. It would be relevant if he is a traitor, but that has not been determined in legal fashion, and if we want to maintain the fiction that we are a nation of laws and not a nation of men, that matters. He's one of ours and at least in theory we should want him back even if it is to try him for treason and hang him.

Second, the emotional state of both Bergdahl and his family is largely irrelevant to most of us. We don't know them, and we don't know what pressures they've been subjected to. I would be happy if we left the parents alone. (That implies they leave the public arena, though. The father may be unwilling to do that.)

No, what matters isn't who we traded for, but rather (a) that we traded in the first place, (b) the terms of the trade, and (c) how the trade was executed.

Concerning (a), a reasonable case can be made for conducting a prisoner swap. Such things have been done in prior wars, they will be done in future wars. But was a prisoner swap really the reason for this trade? I don't believe that it was.

I believe getting Bergdahl back was merely cover for doing the trade in the first place. I suspect the Administration is trying to prove its good faith with the Taliban in order to negotiate a political settlement to the situation in Afghanistan. We're leaving (as have just about every other force that has invaded Afghanistan for centuries), we're leaving an approximately allied government behind, we have not defeated our enemies in that miserable land, and the Administration and the American people are in a hurry to get the Hell out of that benighted land and forget about it. A political "solution" to the conflict would provide good cover for the US, and particularly for the President and the Democratic Party. I believe this is all about proving to the Taliban that we're good guys that can be trusted as a basis for future good faith negotiations. I think this is a sign of total stupidity and incompetence on the part of the Administration, at best, but that's neither here nor there for this post.

Concerning (b), I don't think anyone but the Administration and its sycophants believe this trade was a good deal. Based on the reaction in the media and in Congress, even some of the sycophants think this deal stinks. You can read widely about that everywhere, and I won't go over it here as I've nothing to add.

Concerning (c) .... Well, here's the rub. A tremendous amount can be said about how this trade was done. 

First off, my understanding at the moment is that the Administration didn't really negotiate at all - the Taliban simply told them how things would be, end of discussion. So much for negotiating prowess.

Secondly, the Administration apparently overrode many internal disagreements within the executive branch in order to make the trade. This is a matter for some concern, but not too much. Ultimately the President is the person in charge, and what he commands (within Constitutional limits - see below) his subordinates should do, or should resign. But it is interesting that this deal was ready to go two years ago and the internal pressure within the Administration killed the deal. It wasn't until they traded for another Republican SecDef that they overcame internal resistance to the deal. This is all interesting and worthy of debate.

Thirdly, the Administration ignored both Congress and the Constitution in order to make this deal. By a law that this President signed, he was to give Congress 30 days notice before letting anyone go from Guantanamo. He didn't do this. And for those doubting that the President has to follow Congress on these matters, I can point to the Constitution itself (thanks to Dave Schuler for pointing out the particulars). Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution contains the following two clauses:
(11) To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water; [emphasis added]
....
(14) To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces; 
That seems pretty straightforward. The Administration's claims that they needed to limit the number of people that knew about the deal to protect Bergdahl's life, and that they needed to act with alacrity in order to save Bergdahl's life, both seem to lack credibility at this point. And they seem to know it as they keep changing tactics for justifying the deal.
Fourth,  the Administration's roll out of this swap and reaction to the response has been astonishingly inept. The tone deafness of it all suggests an Administration that has never had any contact with any actual Americans ever. Not only does the Emperor have no clothes, neither does anyone on his staff. In fact, none of them seem to have ever heard of the concept of clothing. The fact that the Administration is this isolated is probably the biggest issue concerning this matter.
I'll stop at this point, and return to Bergdahl's status as a squirrel. Nothing about Bowe Bergdahl the individual or the soldier pertains to (a), (b), or (c) as listed above. Discussions of him and his status are a separate issue, and frankly a minor issue. Large and important matters of foreign policy, prisoner exchanges before a war has concluded, and Presidential authority to ignore the Congress and the Constitution are at hand, as well as the problem of a dangerously isolated President. Every minute discussing  Bergdahl is mere distraction to issues that are far more important.

But even here, with the importance of some of these issues, other issues are at hand, issues which cover most of the larger issues listed above and have much greater impact on America. And the prisoner exchange provides a distraction from those issues.

A partial list:

[1]: The country's economy continues to be a shambles, and neither the President nor anyone in Congress really wants to address the topic. I won't go into much in the way of details, but we are at a minimum a good 10,000,000 jobs below where we need to be to pretend we have full employment, the jobs that are out there are of diminishing quality (more part-time work, more temp work, more service work, lower pay, etc.), consumer debt is rising, etc, etc, ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

[2]: Questions of the Administration's basic competence at governance abound. Everything from the VA scandal, the IRS/FBI scandal, the botched roll-out of the ObamaCare exchanges, the Administration effectively changing laws without Congress, to the fact of the Administration completely refusing to enforce border control or immigration policy all point to an Administration that has no competence at anything other than getting elected. Given that we've got two and a half more years of this coming, this is important.

[3]: The apparent lawlessness of this Administration is becoming more and more apparent. This overlaps the second point. As someone quipped recently, Obama has become the President that Nixon always wished he could be.* The attitude is very much one of complete contempt for everything that has long distinguished American politics: the President and his minions are anti-federalist, anti-republican**, anti-Constitutional restraints on Presidential authority. They are completely ignoring any and every law that inconveniences them. Discussing this prisoner swap at any level besides this and [2] is a distraction.

These issues are all far more important than this prisoner swap, and the prisoner swap itself is far more important that anything about Bowe Bergdahl. Truly, Bergdahl is the distraction within a distraction.

Bowe Bergdahl may well be the Squirrel of the Year.


* "When the President does it, that means it is not illegal." Richard M. Nixon, TV interview with David Frost, May 20, 1977

** Please note the lower-case 'r'.

Squirrel of the Week: 5/25/2014 to 5/31/2014

Bowe Bergdahl.

(Yeah, this was late. Was enjoying my wife's vacation and daughter's birthday celebrations.)

Friday, May 30, 2014

Re: Carl Hiaasen Novels

Carl Hiaasen novels are not funny. Carl Hiaasen novels are straight reporting of how the state of Florida actually works. Only the names have been changed to spare him from endless litigation.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Disagreement

At least in part.

Amongst all the talk and writing about the recent spree killings in Santa Barbara is the idea that we shouldn't give this "loser" publicity.

I do agree with this in part: We shouldn't make a "celebrity" out of such people. (Apparently there are some people "swooning" over the killer on Twitter. I'm not going to bother linking to stories about that, as I'm sure that of my three (potential) readers, all are capable of finding the stories for themselves.)

However, that doesn't mean the case shouldn't be discussed.

First off, I don't think calling this person a "loser" is either accurate (in the way conveyed) or helpful. I haven't gone out of my way to read about this story, but it is abundantly clear that this individual was deeply disturbed and could accurately be described as broken, and had been for a very long time. He himself identifies his problems as going back to when he was fourteen. His problems probably went back even farther.

He complained that he had been rejected by girls since that age, and thought that the problem. More likely that was merely a symptom. What girl in her right mind would want to be with someone so obviously and deeply disturbed as he apparently was?

No, most likely something was very wrong with him, possibly from birth, but at least from a long time back. Since I have the advantages of obscurity I can even speculate that whatever was wrong with him was probably as severe as schizophrenia, even if that wasn't his particular problem.

In light of that, showing what was wrong with him may help others in the future identify other such broken individuals, and may help prevent similar crimes from occurring. Someone recently prevented a possible massacre, though in that case it seems that it was mere observation of suspicious behavior rather than knowledge of the suspect individual. But perhaps greater awareness of such mentally disturbed individuals might prevent future massacres.

In fact, someone in the Santa Barbara killer's family appears to have called the authorities with concerns about the state of the killer at the end of April. Unfortunately the authorities weren't able to do anything at that time to hold the individual. But perhaps greater awareness can eventually lead to more effective preventative methods.

But covering this up won't accomplish anything. Besides, the internet provides everyone with the ability to publicize their own crimes, as the killer's "manifesto" and YouTube videos prove. These things can't really be covered up anyway.

Squirrel of the Week: 5/18/2014 to 5/24/2014

Didn't look like we would have A squirrel of the week this week, but we did.

The NRA.

I'm guessing they'll be next week's SotW, too.

Cynicism

I used to worry not that I was being too cynical, but that I wasn't being cynical enough.

Now I know that I'm definitely not being cynical enough, at least regards the world beyond the confines of my home. (I have just the right amount of cynicism for dealing with a four year-old.)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

No SotW this week?

There aren't many squirrels running about this week. Or at least, none that have attracted a crowd. We've still got half a week to go, though....

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Squirrel of the Week: week ending May 17, 2014

There wasn't a clear favorite this week. Therefore I'm going with the Jill Abramson situation at the NYTs. This 'example' of unequal pay and the war on women and such really didn't distract that many Americans this week, but it seems to have provided a distraction to the elites. And since they're more important than the rest of us, their squirrels must be better than out squirrels.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Squirrel of the Week Nominations

Hillary Clinton's brain/Karl Rove's mouth
Boko Haram
#diplomacy
Michael Sam
Donald Sterling
Aaron Hernandez

None of these names are really quite doing it. This week needs some more sizzle.

Oh, and then there's

War on Women/Jill Abramson

More economic recovery news


Turns out the economy went bad in Q1 because winter unexpectedly struck in the middle of winter. Who coulda guessed?!
RETAIL ROUT: Wal-Mart Stores fell $1.64, or 2 percent, to $77.10. The company reported a 5 percent profit decline in its most recent quarter and warned that things don't look much better this quarter. The company, like many other retailers, blamed harsh winter weather.
Okay, so let's just say for the sake of argument that the bad winter weather did impact sales. Shouldn't the pent up demand lead to a stronger Q2?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Squirrel of the Week: May 4, 2014

It was easy to pick the squirrel for the preceding week, and I did so mid-week. This last week was a different story. After Harry Reid started shooting off his mouth again, I really thought Dan Snyder was going to get the title. But mid-week another strong contender had emerged, in the form of one Monica Lewinsky!

But by Saturday night, it was clear that last week's SotW was in fact Michael Sam, the First Openly Gay Player Drafted to the NFL (TM). He may end up being this week's squirrel too, but Donald Sterling is trying hard to regain his title.

So, here's to last week's Squirrel of the Week: Michael Sam, the First Openly Gay Player Drafted to the NFL (TM).

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The new Godzilla movie

Just to get this out there...

The new Godzilla movie looks like Die Hard ... on a planet! And I'm not sure, but I think that Godzilla will be playing the role of John McClain.

Monday, April 21, 2014

More cheery stories of the economic "'recovery'"

For many Americans, 'temp' work becomes permanent way of life

Moving in with parents becomes more common for the middle-aged

Cheery stories, both, five years into the "'recovery'".

Every other story right now is a side-show to the big news, which is that the American economy is being hollowed out like a melon rind, and our elites just don't care enough to even address the issue. I'd tell you to remember that come the fall election season, but that just doesn't matter anymore either.

NOTE: I'm now using three marks for the opening and closing of the scare quotation marks around the word RECOVERY because two just don't  seem like enough.

Monday, April 14, 2014

UPDATE on a Theban Tragedy

Originally posted on Ambiance April 14, 2014 at 6:12 pm

Several months after I was PROMISED, one more time, that everything had been fixed, things aren't fixed. I cannot believe ... My frustration levels are really climbing. I have been trying to get this fixed for YEARS. YEARS! And they will not fix it.

I am starting to think of hiring an attorney to sue their goddamned dumb, evil asses for emotional distress. John Morgan is here in town, and he's as scary a lawyer as you can find in the country. Yeah, maybe that's what I need to do....

Friday, April 04, 2014

Not so fast with the optimism, buddy!

Cross-posted to Ambiance

The new jobs report was released today. I have heard a few people make some optimistic noises about the fact that private sector jobs have matched the 2008 peak in terms of numbers. (See here, for example, though they do have the decency to caveat the hell out of the article.)

What I'm not hearing, and don't expect to hear from the Administration, is a comment about full-time jobs. As of March 1 2014, the US economy had 3,872,000 FEWER full-time jobs than it did at its peak in November 2007. And that's after almost five years of recovery.



And given that the working age population has grown considerably in the intervening years, the employment situation is actually even worse than it appears.

So don't let the bastards tell you how goddamned good we've got it, and what a wonderful job they've done. Because it just ain't so.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

That whooshing sound you hear ...

... is the air being let out of the middle class. More and more people that DO have jobs are getting priced right out of the housing market.

People with money to burn, both domestically and foreigners, are buying up all the property, leaving the middle class with nowhere to go. Make no mistake, our rulers on Wall Street and in DC are doing this deliberately, with an eye towards making certain that only Lords and Serfs remain.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Lennox Lewis with the Tweet of the Day


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Parental Obeservation #3

originally published on Ambiance January 14, 2014 at 10:07 pm

Every day in which you don’t eat their head must be counted as at least a partial success.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Strange sights in the skies....

Last Thursday I took my daughter to Lake Eola in downtown Orlando. The park has a nice lake, a fountain, a good playground, a good field for playing, statuary and the like. A truly pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

But while we were walking from the car to the playground an ominous thrumming engine noise started. I looked across the lake expecting to see drag racers or the like. Instead I saw a large prop-driven plane come over the horizon. We were getting buzzed by a B-17! Yikes! Fortunately no bombs were dropped on us.

Shortly before that we had seen a blimp in the sky. But that was understandable, as the NCAA South Regional was in town.

Incidentally, it was a big weekend in Orlando. Besides the NCAA Men's Basketball Tourney, complete with overall number one the University of Florida Men's Basketball Team, we also had the Arnold Palmer Invitational Golf Tournament out at Bay Hill, the Winter Park Art Festival (which is a BIG DEAL here locally), and a visit by the President.

Which meant that shortly after downtown Orlando got buzzed by a blimp and a B-17, Air Force One was landing down at Orlando International Airport.

And this morning my daughter and I capped the whole weekend off with a little more fun. We dropped my wife off at work this morning, and as we were pulling out of the parking lot at her office my daughter (not yet four years old) said, "Daddy, that's the biggest blimp I've ever seen!" I looked back to see what she could possibly be looking at, and she was looking straight up. I opened up the screen over the moon-roof on the car, and about 200 feet straight above me (maybe less) was the gondola for the MetLife blimp! And it was going the direction we were headed!

We got a little in front of it and then parked to watch it go over again. And then I decided to give chase!

Now a car in good working order is much faster than a blimp. But the blimp doesn't have to wait for stop lights, or traffic, nor does it have to follow the road. If anything, the blimp had the advantage. We kept up for a little while, but it started pulling away as we hit traffic on Forest City Road. It started getting well ahead when I took Semoran heading west. The blimp was headed north, and I thought if I could get to 441 (Orange Blossom Trail), I could catch up and keep up for a while. Alas, it took to long to get to OBT, and the blimp was gone. I went north for a little while, and I do think I caught a glimpse of it a couple of times, but it wasn't meant to be.

And then on the way back, we passed the little airport outside of Apopka. And sitting outside one of the hangers was what looked like an old DC-3 painted up as a Pan Am plane. I wasn't expecting that! A plane made by a company that doesn't exist anymore (well, it kind of does, as part of Boeing, but not really), done up for an airline that doesn't exist any more, at an airport that most people that live in Central Florida have never heard of. A strange sight to end the weekend.

UPDATE: And my wife reminds me that Miley Cyrus is performing tonight here in town. Unfortunately, no bombs are likely to be dropped on her.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Deep Thoughts on the Crimean Crisis

originally published on Ambiance, March 18, 2014 at 1:46 pm

 From Twitter no less! And certainly no more.
 






(Outis is my Twitter handle.)

Friday, March 14, 2014

Parental Observation #2

originally published on Ambiance, January 14, 2014 at 6:46 pm

It’s always funnier when it happens to someone else. (This is more widely applicable to the human condition, of course.)

Example: My wife sent me an email earlier this afternoon, which read:

I saw your post on Ambiance. ([Amba] shared it on FB.) I laughed and laughed. Then I realized you wrote it.
We’ve all been there.

Parental Observation #1

originally published on Ambiance, January 14, 2014 at 2:54 pm

The “Terrible Twos” are merely a marketing ploy by three year-olds, designed to throw parents off the track of how bad three year-olds behave. You see, by the time a child hits three they become very capable, in an absolute sense. By this I mean they know how things work: doors, locks, caps on spice bottles, plumbing fixtures, ladders, chain saws, lathes, Machiavellian interpersonal machinations, etc. They can do a lot with those skills, in an absolute sense. And they all have the same kind of outlook on law and order that one would expect of devotees of the Anarchist Cookbook. Do you have any idea of the harm an anarchist can do with spice bottle caps and a lathe? If you answer yes, you have probably been a parent of a three year-old at some point in your life.

WHERE'S MY THEBES?!

originally published on Ambiance, February 20, 2014 at 8:09 pm

The rantings of one very irate man to follow soon.

Quite a bit later, certainly later than “soon” by any reasonable definition…

First, some background.

My mother was born in 1927. She worked at Walt Disney World Resorts from 1980 to 2000. I was covered under her medical insurance for several years while I was still a minor. Eventually Mom retired with a (great) retiree medical benefit.

I was born in 1968. I worked at Walt Disney World Resort from 2003 until 2008.

My mother died in September of 2011.

Then the adventure begins!

Shortly after Mom died, my sister and I received her death benefit payment from Disney. It wasn’t a lot, but it came to the correct person, with the correct SS#.

Then I started getting notices from the WDW benefits center telling me that I was eligible for a medical benefit. I called them, told them I certainly wasn’t eligible, and they said it was cleared up.

I kept getting notices about signing up for my medical benefits. Grrr. Called again, eventually, told them they were wrong. Eventually they figured out that two of me were in the system, one with a SS# that was off by one digit. Someone had goofed up and created a phantom me. They told me that they had it resolved.

I kept getting notices about signing up for my medical benefits. Grrr. Called again.

Lather, rinse, repeat a couple of times.

I kept getting notices about signing up for my medical benefits. GRRR. Called again some time last summer. Allegedly got everything settled, killed the phantom me, had everything under the correct me, had everything cancelled.

I KEPT GETTING NOTICES ABOUT SIGNING UP FOR MY MEDICAL BENEFITS. GRRR. Gave up calling, decided, “Fuck it [Something much more polite than "Fuck it", I'm sure], I’ve done what I need to do, they need to figure this out on their own.”

I kept getting notices about signing up for my medical benefits. Didn’t care any more, ignored them, moved on with my life.

January 2, 2014 rolls around and I finally go to the doctor about an issue that had been bothering me for almost two months. Samples are taken, and samples are dropped off at a lab. (Don’t ask for details – you really don’t want details.)

Now, unemployed man that I am, my wife’s medical insurance covers me. Turns out that the same company that covers my wife’s employer is the same company that handles the administration of Disney’s medical insurance here in Florida. (Disney self-insures, so they actually pay for everything themselves, but it uses an insurance company to handle everything for a variety of reasons. This is common for large employers.)

So when I went to the lab I made certain that they had my current insurance information.

A couple of weeks later, we get a couple of notifications of benefits from the insurance company. My wife looks at them and realizes that my Disney insurance has been billed.

GRRR!

Now, feeling like Bruce Banner right before he turns green, I call the Disney benefits people AGAIN. Eventually (and I can’t remember if this was on the first or second call, or maybe a third call), we determine the nature of the problem. Namely, Disney has me listed as my mother’s surviving spouse, thus entitled to her (quite excellent) medical coverage.

This after numerous attempts to clear things up. This after many attempts from me explaining to them that they were in error and needed to fix this. This after the Disney benefits folks told me on several occasions that they had cleared everything up.

So now I find out that I had been eligible for the benefit, according to Disney, since 1/1/2012, and that the insurance had been active (despite my not paying them anything) since 1/1/2013. So now I’m suddenly scared that more than two lab fees (and a visit to the doctor’s office, it turns out) have been billed to the wrong insurance policy. Because you know that would be a true and royal clusterfuck [something much more polite than "clusterfuck", I'm sure], and that I would be on the hook for it, quite possibly criminally, despite the fact that I hadn’t done anything wrong. They take insurance fraud seriously in Florida. Uh, unless you’re the governor, I mean.

Seriously, I don’t know why Disney feels like they need to fuck me all over again (having already fired me early in the recession, thus ruining my chances of ever holding down a job of any kind again, on the flimsiest of reasons by a jack-ass who gambled on his work computer using aliases of founders of the Ku Klux Klan to do it), but my God they have decided to fuck my all over again. Seriously, what is wrong with those goddamned bastards? How fucking evil, stupid, and/or mean are they that they are insisting on repeatedly screwing me over? Seriously, is there anybody with that company that is competent left, or are they dimply this fucking mean?


I began to ponder the wisdom of Murphy and Finagle.

(I told you I was pissed irate.)

Anyway …

They tell me they’ve finally got it cleared up again. So they tell me. They really do. They practically pinky-swore on the matter.

Then, yesterday, I get a letter from the goddamned absolutely lovely Disney benefits people, telling me they’ve been trying to contact me, and I need to talk to them about my fucking (I got nothin’) benefits with the Walt Disney Company, of which I HAVE NONE.

So after my wife gets home, I call them. Mind you, I’m very polite when I make these calls. The people to whom I’m speaking probably aren’t the ones fucking me over responsible, and besides, you can catch more flies with honey. Or insert the cliched bit of tripe of you choice for that last clause. Whatever.

So I call them. And I try to find out what’s going on. I explain my situation to them again.

And then they tell me that the reason they’re calling is because they want to know if I’ve signed up for Medicare yet.

~~~~~~….

“Okay, do not slam the phone against the wall,” I tell myself, “the phone isn’t responsible, and besides you own it.”

“Okay, do not try to bash you head through a wall,” I tell myself, “the wall isn’t responsible; besides, you own it. Furthermore, if you somehow break your skull, they’ll probably bill the wrong fucking [absolutely lovely, I'm sure] insurance again.”

GRRR!

Anyway, eventually one of the women on the other end of my communication network connection (because it took two of them because the first one couldn’t get her computer to work) finally tells me that they show I’m not covered. So this was all about what, exactly? I don’t even bother to ask.

So I get off the phone, assured that I’m  not covered by anything (I’m waiting to find out they’ve cancelled all my coverages, even the coverage I have through my wife’s employer), and I say to my wife,
“Congratulations honey, you’re married to a man who has magically aged at least 22 years, is a bigamist, and an incestuous bastard to boot.”

To which she cheerily replied, “Oh, you’re just like Oedipus!”

To which I thundered,

“WHERE’S MY THEBES?!”

 ...

UPDATE on March 14, 2014: I'm getting notices again, this time wanting me to enroll in the Wellness program. Seriously, what do I have to do to not get the benefits I'm not entitled to?

Friday, February 07, 2014

Meanwhile, back at the farm, flipping is BACK!

Home flipping is back in a big way

Oddly, this sign of real estate madness isn't considered to be a bad thing. But certain observations about the general economy hold true here as well: Upscale is doing well for itself.
More expensive homes were especially popular with home flippers, as sales made up of flip-related sales from homes valued at more than $400,000 were up 36% last year. Sales of less valuable homes bought and sold within six months were up 16% over the same period.

Today's tales of woe

More men in prime working ages don't have jobs

and a lousy employment report isn't going to help. Even CNN is starting to notice, and they're second only to NBC in their desrie to be Obama's Goebbels:

Job growth remains weak 

That said, much of the decline in unemployment has come for a discouraging reason: some Americans are dropping out of the labor force. As of January, only 63% of Americans over age 16 participated in the labor market -- meaning they either had a job or looked for one. Although there was a slight improvement in January, participation is still hovering around its lowest level since 1978. 

While some of the decline is partly due to baby boomers retiring, economists are also concerned about the long-term unemployed, who may be giving up on the job market altogether. Following the report, one of President Obama's top economic advisers, Jason Furman called the unemployment rate still "unacceptably high." 
 Glad to hear that after almost five years of recovery the Administration has FINALLY noticed that their recovery is utter bullshit.

ADDED: Mish makes some observations about the last year in the US employment market:
[Over the last year, the US] population rose by over 2 million, but the labor force fell by over a quarter-million. People dropping out of the work force accounts for much of the declining unemployment rate.
 This is neither a healthy employment market nor a healthy economy.