Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Save the Homeless

The world just asks too much from the homeless or at least this is something my corporation believes.

This little gem of information was included in a very long, and possibly Dilbert inspired, company-wide email detailing how the company wants the workers to form work groups to figure out better ways to recycle:

There are shelters throughout NY that we can donate cans to and who sell the aluminum to get money for food for the homeless. We just need researchers in this area. It is hard to have them pick up cans and bottles but I am sure I can convince one of my suppliers to volunteer to deliver to a shelter every other month.

I guess walking around the city picking up the damn cans themselves is just to taxing for the average homeless guy so instead we will spend money delivering the cans to homeless shelters so they can give them to the deadbeats directly. Collecting cans is the only thing these people do that comes close to resembling work, won't these guys suffer from low self esteem if we take away their jobs?

Perhaps my firm is just being humane. I walk by several of these guys every morning on the way to workand by 8:30am they are busy downing their Old English 40s. I guess it is hard for them to get up and gather cans after say 9am or so. I know looking for cans is the last thing I would want to do while whacked on really bad malt liquor. (Is there really good malt liquor?)

To help right this wrong, I'm going to join one of these recycling teams and make the following suggestions.

1. Have everyone throw the cans out the windows so the bums can just pick them off the street eliminating the need to truck them over there. Less green house gases this way.
2. Give out bags of nickels, the value of a can, to the bums thus eliminating the middle man.
3. By the 40s and have the employees hand them out at 8am every morning to the bums down the block.
4. Serve the 40s in the building's lobby so the bums can drink in air conditioned comfort.

Gas Price Prediction

Well, I receieved my gas price wish from two posts ago.

It looks like gas will hit $4 in a few weeks. I'm just sorry it took the destruction of three states to bring it about. Now we will have to see how Americans react.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

New Orleans and the surrounding Gulf Coast today are suffering their worst natural disaster ever.

That is a pretty powerful statement considering the size of some of the hurricanes that have come through there in the past. From what I've read so far the federal and state governments are doing their normal job of getting things organized and the Red Cross and other aid agencies are coming to the rescue, but what I don't see is a French aircraft carrier off the coast of Mississippi. Or German cargo planes flying water and tents into Biloxi airport. Or Belgian rescue workers streaming into Gulfport.

How come the United States comes to the aid of every country in the world, friend of foe, when there is a disaster, but I have not even read about a note of sympathy being sent by a foreign leader. Granted, the U.S. has the resources to help others in need, so I do not expect the Sudan to send help, but at least some type of gesture from the EU would have been nice.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Today's Oil Quandry

There is a famous, if anattributed quote, from the Vietnam War commander stating, "In order to save the village, we had to burn it to the ground," or something like that.

Well, the same holds true for gasoline prices. The only way we will ever bring prices down is if they maintain their current march toward $70, $80, etc. per barrell. Only then will the American consumer, the true arbiter of oil pricing, get angry and decide to do something about the situation. As long as gas is more or less affordable there will be no change in American buying patterns and oil will continue to rise.

However, if as a group Americans decide enough is enough and demand change, through purchasing hybrid cars or screaming at their Congressman to push for more unconventional fuel sources, then prices will stabilize.

As I've said here before, there is no hard reason for prices to skyrocket other then the fact that commodity speculators and Exxon and a killing. Supply might be tight, but it's within accepted parameters the same holds true for refining capability. Speculators are looking for any reason these days to bump up the price and inflate their wallets. Hurricanes, Pat Robertson, Iraq, the NY Mets latest winning streak have all been cited as harbingers of doom by the Mercantile Exchange folks as a reason to push the price higher and higher.

If Toyota and Honda hybrid car sales go through the roof then and only then will changes take place on the pricing front. It is supply and demand. Remove the demand and prices plummet. It's a fact folks.

The killer aspect to this situation is that America will have to suffer for years paying $3 plus per gallon until the switch is made.

But just think of the repercussions. As it could turn out cheap gas could be the least important benefit. President Bush will will no longer be beholden to the oil companies and in turn to Arabian oil. We can leave the Mideast and let the Sunnis kill the Kurds who in turn can kill the Shiites. We can come out of the closet and support Israel in the fashion that nation deserves. It is clear the reason we side against it so often is fear of an oil cutoff from Saudi Arabia. Greenhouse emissions will be reduced, which will shut up the annoying Europeans.

It is such a win win situation that I find myself hoping prices stay high so we Americans finally get it through our thick heads that we can kick our oil dependency. It did not happen in the 1970s, nor in the 1980s, but third time's a charm.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

A Trekkies Dream Come True

Check out this article:

Airborne laser brings Star Wars one step closer
U.S. Pentagon invention could make air combat resemble a battle scene from Star Wars, with a laser so small it can fit on a fighter jet, yet powerful enough to knock down an enemy missile in flight.

I say strap them on every plane that can hold one. The only decision left is whether the laser should resemble Star Trek phaser fire or Star Wars blaster fire.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Religious Policeman

Anyone interested in the thoughts of a Saudi Arabian, now living in the UK, should check out The Religious Policemen.

Not only does this fellow give some great insight, but he is hysterical.

On his site is a link to the Saudi Gazette, an English language news site. What I found interesting was the weather listings. For the remainder of the week it will be sunny and over 105 every day. Hell (literally) why bother wasting the space.

The 700 Club Death Squad

If it is possible to roll over in your grave then my mother must be pretty damn dizzy this morning on the news that the Reverend Pat Robertson has called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Robertson said Chavez needs some serious killing as his communist leanings are a threat to the U.S. He added that it would be easier and cheaper to send in a sniper team to kill Chavez because using conventional methods could take years and cost millions of lives. (Ten points to whoever names the movie that line is more or less plagerized from.)

My mom was a devotee of the 700 Club, which now runs on the Christian Broadast Network. The few times I saw the show it consisted of Robertson, as host, and some other fellow talking about making the world a better place, they would take calls, pray, all the usual Christian stuff. Now if I had known then that Robertson also called out for people to be killed I would have tuned in more often.

What Robertson's statement does is show that all religious extremist, be they Christian, Jew or Muslim tend to be a little mentally bent. What Robertson did was akin to Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa calling for the death of Salman Rushdie. Not to mention the daily calls for the death of Americans from a wide range of Islamic whackos across the world.

As was pointed out to me by fellow blogger G-Scobe, Robertson's psycho rants will garner worldwide condemnation, while the death threats against Americans are allowed to slide. This is a justified line of thought. Americans should be held to a higher standard.

However, the most bizarre aspect of this incident is that Robertson is still worried about communism. That was so 80s. It's dead and gone. There are a few so called communists governments still alive and kicking, but as a valid form of government that movement died in 1989. Chavez is trying to implement certain communist ideals in Venezuela, nationalizing certain industries, forming death squads, the usual, but who the hell cares. He will not stop selling oil to the U.S. as he has threatened. He needs the money. After all, if you don't pay your death squad members they tend to come after you. Let Venezuela go commie, then they too can become as succesful as North Korea, Cuba and the now defunct Soviet Union.

Come on Pat, get with the times. Call for the assasination of Iran's new president, or any of the 100 terror leaders around the world. While you still would be condemned at least nobody would think you were losing your grip.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

End of Summer

Summer ends and the college school year begins.

These last few days of August are always tough on me. I am insanely jealous of all the kids heading off to school. There has been a steady stream of them heading off from my neighborhood and I would give anything excepting my family to join them. Not as the 41-year old freshman that I would be if I started all over again, (well, maybe, no!) but as an 18 year old who could not wait to get to school and start going crazy. And crazy I did go.

I am a proud alumni of the State University of NY at Plattsburgh. A non-descript college way north in NY, up near Canada and Vermont. A cool school whose students knew how to have a good time. One of the clearest memories I have of my life is driving down my street in my white 1973 Chevelle, three-speed on the column, heading off to school. I was in a state of euphoria unmatched by any sober person ever. Not to make light of slavery, but I believe I felt the same way the slaves did after hearing the Emancipation Proclimation.


And my parents were pretty nice. Imagine if they were ogres?

During the seven hour drive my level of alcohol and drug free intoxication grew to monsterous proportions to the point where I pushed my piece of crap car to its upper speed capability just to get to school. I paid for this about five minutes after I pulled up to my dorm when my radiator exploded in a massive cloud of white steam. Talk about an entrance. A small crowd gathered to see if the engine would catch fire. No such luck for the rubber neckers. After an hour of cooling it happily started soon became a fixture for many weeks inthe student parking lot.

Can anyone forget meeting their roommates for the first time. It's amazing how one guy, nameless, that ended up being a total asshole in a few weeks seemed so cool at first. Like a long lost brother. My other roommate, Larry, was odd, but very nice.

Anyway, as I watch these kids traipse off to school I hope they all realize that their four - or fice years if they are lucky - will speed by. With 20 years of hindsight its amazing how short a period college appears, yet it was responsible for a large portion of my best memories.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Immigration and Multiculturalism

A multicultural society is doomed to fail.

This excellent column by Michael Barone in U.S. News on on the rising tide against multiculturalism in Europe explains how the tide may be turning over seas when it comes to attempting to integrate immigrants. Instead of believing all cultures should be celebrated equally some in Europe are starting to view immigration in the same manner as America.

Since the first people came to North America as colonists, immigrants have not expected life here to be easy and for the most part they have not been disappointed. The earliest colonists struggled to establish colonies in a hostile environment without any of the ammenities they knew in their homelands. They were forced by necessity to carve out farms, villages and finally create cities from a massive wilderness inhabited by natives who were not always that friendly.

Later generations came to a more established nation, but that very complexity brought new burdens to bear. Rampant predjudices against Irish, Italian, Jewish Eastern Europeans and Asians made life here harsh. However, each group of immigrants realized that America offered them something that they could never find back home.


The hope that if they worked hard, educated themselves and learened the ins and outs of their adopted homeland then they and their children could raise themselves to a better station in life.

All an immigrant had to do was look at the prior group to see what it had accomplished. The Italians of the late 1800s could see Irish cops, and politicians. The Eastern Europeans in the early 1900s saw Italian business owners and this continues today.

All of these people gave and took from their new country. They realized that to get ahead you had to make some concessions to the locals, but in the end America did not demand that you give up your cherished religion or old country practices.

While America was willing to offer hope to a newcomer, what it would not give is charity. And in the end that was a blessing.

Charity is the first item given to many newcomers in Europe. There is an entire welfare system in place designed to get someone settled in, but not to encourage them to do more. Millions of Arabs, North Africans and South East Asians live in small enclaves scattered about European cities. They endure massive unemployment and are social outcasts.

The liberal/socialist safety net that caught them upon their arrival has turned into a trap from which they cannot or will not escape. After all, why work when the government is willing to give you money for sitting around your apartment all the while building a festering hatred for your lot in life and the country that is nice enough to support your layabout ways.

This situation never arose in America. If you did not go out and work you starved. It was a harsh, but simple formula. This system does work. By forcing people to go and fend for themselves they have to interact with those already here and learn the local culture and habits. In turn the established citizenry is forced to mingle with the newcomers. This is a simplification of a process that is anything but effortless. The immigrants will suffer the predjudicial slings and arrows that are still fired with annoying frequency.

But the end result is and was an American. Call it hazing if you will. If an immigrant truly wishes to belong it must be proven.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

P Puff, diddy, daddy puff etc

Everyone get ready to update their address books. You know who has changed his name again.

Check out Diddy

Cohen Predicts Defeat in Iraq

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen's piece today is an appeasers dream come true.

His opinion could not be more pathetic.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Able Danger

By nature I am not a conspiracy theory nut.

While I love watching shows about UFOs, I do not believe there are any aliens at Area 51. I'm not convinced Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, but doubt the CIA organized JFKs assasination.

However, the recent revelation that a secret military group code-named Able Danger new about four of the Sept. 11 attackers a year before the event strikes me as odd.

What is strange to me is the code-name. First, it sure sounds fake, to much like a bad movie or book title. I would think such a secret group would be given the most innocuous name possible. Like Peanut Butter, or Organization to Discover The Inner Workings of Groups From Other Nations Not Happy With the Current State of the World. If you want to be overlooked, never put the word dangerous in your name. Just ask Johnny Dangerous. Sorry, bad joke.

The next indicator is the word Able. Pretty blah right. To any civilian it means whatever the dictionary says. Capable, etc. However, Able was once a part of the US military phonetic alphabet. It stood for A. Just so you know a phonetic alphabet is used so there is no misunderstanding during a radio call. If you are calling in an artillery strike onto map coordinate DM549233 you do not want the D to be confused with B and the M with N. God knows where the artillery will land, perhaps on you. So the military requires that you say a word instead of a letter. In this case Delta Mike549233.

Until the mid 1950s the military used Able A, Baker B, Charlie C, Dog D and so on. Then it switched to the current model that has Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta and so on. To me it would seem that a modern military unit would use Alpha, not Able. A person using Able is one likely to have seen to many episodes of MASH or Combat and was not up on current phonetic usage.

To my non-conspiratory mind Able Danger sounds like a hoax. Maybe someone want to damage the governments credibility. In a day and age when CBS News could be fooled into believing a computer generated document was really from the 1960s then this could also be a hoax.

I do not know for sure, but it might be worth considering.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Sports, Steroids

The big news coming out of Baltimore should not be that Rafael Palmeiro was nailed for using steroids, but that despite all of the anti-steroid testing and precautions a top-flight player felt comfortable enough with the system to keep taking an illegal supplement.

At the start of the 2005 baseball season Palmeiro needed about 80 hits reach the magic 3,000 number. Now 80 hits for a player of Palmeiro's ability, on or off steroids, would be an easy mark to hit. He must have known that he would have reached the milestone at some point during the season even if he gave up the steroids and his ability shrunk along with his inflated musclature. But Palmeiro was confident enough that he would easily slip through Bud Selig's system of testing.

What other explanation could there be beside massive, brain crunching stupidity for continuing to inject yourself with a banned substance. Could Raffy be the dumbest baseball player since John Rocker? Absolutely. For the majority of his career he has stayed out of the spotlight, hardly speaking to reporters or doing antying outlandish so the public really has not had a chance to learn all there is to know about Palmeiro.

However, I doubt he is that dumb. In fact I think he is quite smart, just not as smart as he needed to be to get away with his steroid usage. However, he was bright enough to weigh all the factors involved with cheating and what it might do to his career and hall of fame chances. He considered it all and took what he thought would be a good bet.

If this is true then Selig and the rest of Major League Baseball's heirarchy should be shaking in their shoes. If Palmeiro took this chance then I'm sure other high-profile stars are doing the same thing.