Wednesday, September 26, 2007

It's the Little Things

It's not much of a stretch to point to the larger problems facing our country and worry that we may be a nation in irreversible decline but what troubles me at an even deeper and more personal level are the little things. Ordinary, everyday things that we take for granted if we notice them at all, things barely even interesting enough to be mentioned in casual conversation much less in the media, these are the things that I at least believe will be the death of us.

Some of these things aren't all that small and are similar to problems faced by many western nations like the fact that we have no skilled workers. That's right, I said no skilled workers. Try to find a carpenter, a diesel mechanic, a mason or bricklayer or even a plumber. Good luck finding one both competent and born in the US, it's pretty slim pickings. I'm beyond tired of hearing about the plight of the American worker, the typical American worker wouldn't know a job well done from a well done steak and please, don't expect them to know how to produce a steak in the first place.

The problem didn't begin yesterday. Twenty years ago there was a bus factory in a small town in the southwest but today our buses are built mainly in Mexico. Naturally things like this make for great talking points for politicians and labor organizers and Lou Dobbs can squeal about the "exporting of American jobs"and everyone can be angry at the big, bad corporations that moved for cheaper labor. Except it isn't entirely true. See, I was there and I remember what happened and it had very little to do with labor cost and everything to do with shoddy management and stoned employees. It's tough to build a quality product when more than half of your production line is under the influence. So yeah, Mexico was cheaper to operate in but even more importantly, it had an ample supply of competent workers who didn't have the munchies. Fewer Greyhounds falling apart on the highways due to poor manufacture was a bonus. Now if only we could import some people to drive them.

Then there are the really little things one of which is exactly what set me off on this tangent, the United States postal service. One more time I find my mailbox stuffed with.......someone elses' mail. The correct address clearly typed and my address clearly posted and they do not match, not even close. Not the first time, not the second or even the third, I've lost count of how often this has happened because in case you are thinking this is a purely local phenomena, it isn't, it happened even more often in southern California. Never mind that in many places a locked mailbox is now a necessity because our fellow citizens would otherwise steal our mail, I'm inclined to let them steal it as it probably isn't mine anyway.

Okay, it's a small thing, no big deal and one more time I'll see that the mail makes it to its rightful recipient. On the other hand I have to wonder where we're headed when something as simple and basic to our entire infrastructure as physical delivery of mail and packages has become a coin toss. Come to think of it, of all the many, many times that I've personally seen this mail to its rightful owner not one time has my missing mail ever been returned. Not once. I don't think I need to expand upon that point.

There are plenty of larger issues, from Iraq to health care that say a lot about us and where we're headed but I think it all starts with the little things and that my friends has not been looking good for a very long time.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Voodoo Economics Part Deux

Greenspan on The Daily Show:

"I've been dealing with these big mathematical models of forecasting the economy, and I'm looking at what's going on in the last few weeks. … If I could figure out a way to determine whether or not people are more fearful or changing to more euphoric, and have a third way of figuring out which of the two things are working, I don't need any of this other stuff... Forecasting 50 years ago was as good or as bad as it is today. And the reason is that human nature hasn't changed. "

I nearly choked to death laughing. No truer words just surprising to hear him speak them on national television. S'okay Alan, probably no one except a handful of geeky traders really noticed much less understood what you were saying.

Sometimes life is fun. I'm off to rattle some chicken bones.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Must Be the Lead Paint

Just in case anyone was wondering, no, I do not care about O. J. What is interesting to me is how the media and other people are reacting. I knew we had become a stupid nation, it's becoming abundantly clear we've taken stupid to all time new heights.

At least a half dozen countries are on the verge of flying apart or falling into complete civil war, we have a mentally unstable man with an IQ probably in the "dull normal" range running ours, and then there's that thing with the economy and scenes of Brits lined up for blocks to pull their money out of banks and our "reporters" are all in Las Vegas giving minute by minute updates on a two-bit criminal who but for his prowess on the sports field would have been incarcerated decades ago.

As if that were not enough I get to read from various & sundry sources that this arrest is "racially motivated" and Las Vegas Metro detectives were "drooling" at this golden opportunity to arrest the O.J.

HELLOOOOOOOOO. Point #1: Las Vegas' economy is based on tourism (not white people only tourism), you don't remain a successful tourist mecca by running a redneck-racist police department. Get a clue. Point #2: high profile cases are nothing but a damned headache for any agency having to deal with them, no one "drools" at these "golden opportunities". Point #3: if you do not wish to be arrested in Las Vegas it's pretty simple, simpler in fact than in almost any other major US city. All you have to do is not attempt to rob or assault anyone at gunpoint. Las Vegas cops have more than enough to do without harassing people without good cause, where else could you wander about the streets in a drunken stupor and if stopped, expect to merely be sent back to your room? Try that one in Atlanta or Los Angeles and see how it goes.

Naturally the "news" will continue to cover this matter non-stop for the foreseeable future because it boosts their ratings. Boosts their means that there are millions of Americans who will tune in just to watch this irrelevant sideshow. Does anyone still have any questions as to why our government is as fucked up as it is?

I firmly believe that nations always end up with the governments they deserve so based on the current state of our population my bet would be to expect more idiots. Please feel free to prove me wrong, I'd love to be wrong on this one.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

When People Think You're a Loon Do Not Prove Them Right

The only pundit on the planet who nearly always "gets" my views and uh, a whole slew of the real "average America's" (as opposed to that weird, fanatical, and not-so-bright one the MSM keeps telling us is "middle America").

At the risk of offending any readers who love to dress up in ugly clothing and engage in circus performances for the cameras, I give you.........

Look, I'm sure they mean well but folks like this and yes, the ever-iconic Sheehan too, have done more to deter "the average American" from joining the anti-Iraq-war crowd than Bush & Co. could have paid anyone to do. It just does not play well in Peoria.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

It's 9/11, Now Please Shut Up

Things I'm not going to do today:

1. Wallow in 9/11 remembrances. Living through it once was sufficient, I do not feel a need for continuous rehash, save it for the next generation.

2. Even bother to discuss Osama-bin-Asshat's latest releases. He is as crazy as our preznit, they ought to get married. If that is unclear in some way Vigilante can explain it for you.

3. Spend any more time on the latest over-hyped, non-issue, "the Petraeus Report". Woozie already said just about everything I would have so go read his take on it.

4. Worry about troop withdrawals. We've had the means to end this in our hands from the start, we have not chosen to do so. Nuff said.

5. Worry about a possible war with Iran. See #4 for explanation.

The only news items of much interest to me will get little or no coverage thanks to our already ameri-centric view of world events being further aided and abetted by our news being hijacked by hours of tedious memorials.

Just in case you missed it, leftist guerrilla's blew up several natural gas pipelines in Mexico. I suppose we'll care when people notice a rise in their gas bills.

Ebola virus has resurfaced in the Congo. Sort of rates higher on my "matters in the bigger picture" list than numbers 1 through 5.

An area of Arctic sea ice the size of Florida has melted in the last week. Featheriver has the link.

I'm sure there are many more stories and events out there that would interest me but odds of hearing any of them today are slim to none so I think I'll just go read a muthafuckin' book.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Quote of the Day

Congressman Zach Wamp (R-Tenn) live on MSNBC's Morning Joe in reference to presidential candidate Fred Thompson:

"I think he'll do very well, he speaks right to the NASCAR base of our party".

I need to start sleeping later, really, I do.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

What, Me Worry?

Nuclear warheads mistakenly flown on B-52

A B-52 bomber mistakenly loaded with at least five nuclear warheads flew from Minot Air Force Base, N.D, to Barksdale Air Force Base, La., on Aug. 30, resulting in an Air Force-wide investigation, according to three officers who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to discuss the incident.

Excuse me for my lack of panic at every announcement of a new "terror threat", I figure my own government's incompetence will kill me long before Osama & Friends make it to my desert hideout.

About a year ago I participated in a survey about Nevadans' attitudes towards the Yucca Mountain Project. One question was how concerned was I about the possibility of terrorism at Yucca Mountain. My answer was not at all because I was confident that due to our own incompetence we'd be certain to have a major accident during transport of all this lovely nuclear waste. Probably smack in the middle of a Denver freeway. During rush hour.

The lady pollster laughed. I wonder if she's laughing now.

Flying in the Face of Both Left and Right

While the rest of us were looking up Brittany's skirt South Africa has been busy with some projects that it might not hurt us to look at for ideas concerning our own mining industries, maybe the way we do business in general.

Platinum firm's black rights deal

South African mining group Anglo Platinum is to sell mines to two black-led firms in a deal worth about 35 billion rand ($4.85bn; £2.4bn).

The move will see the two companies - Anooraq Resources and Mvela Resources - controlling two of Angloplat's biggest platinum mines in the country.

It is also planning to distribute 1.5% of shares to its mostly black workers.

Anooraq, which will buy a 51% stake in Lebowa Platinum and 1% of the Ga-Phasha Project, was the first black economic empowerment company with a primary listing outside South Africa.

It is almost 65% owned and controlled by a firm that is in turn owned by 15 BEE groups, including women's investment concerns.

Information about BEE (Black Economic Empowerment)

Detailed statement from Anooraq (worth a read)

Employee and community ownership, who would have thought.

For a country renowned for our business acumen and innovation we're remarkably non-innovative and this above all else will cost us dearly in the new economic landscape.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Bush Announces Exit Plan

"You're doing a heckuva job Brownie, er...Rums...ah...Fredo...oops, I mean troops-in-Eye-Rack. We're going to provide all the resources necessary to get the job done in New Orleans...I mean Baghdad.

I've spoken personally with Mayor Nagin, er, Prime Minister al-Maliki, and he knows he has a lot of work to do. Anbar is a huge province,'' Bush said. "It was once written off as lost. It is now one of the safest places in Iraq, nearly as safe as New Orleans''

"Bottom line is we're going to stay the course and support our troops until, um, we don't. Heh, heh, heh. In other words,'' Bush said, "when we begin to draw down troops from Iraq, it will be from a position of strength and success, not from a position of fear and failure. I'll let you know when we've won which will be sometime before we run out of troops".

That was what I heard anyway. Naturally many people probably heard something quite different and time won't really tell because regardless of what really happens, someone will write it so it's Hillary Clinton's fault.

So there's our answer, declare victory and leave. Who knew. Tough break for the hundreds of people who will lose their lives while we finish this last dance.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

It's All About Larry

I'm going to say it. I don't care that Larry Craig is gay. I don't even care all that much that he likes to cruise for anonymous sex in public restrooms. Humans do plenty of odd things and that is far from the oddest.

Neither of these things would interest me much at all aside from the "eww factor" of even thinking about someone like Craig and sex in the same sentence except for the fact that while he's been busily indulging his passions on the one hand, he's been actively working to deny equal rights to millions of his fellow Americans with the other.

Wanting to put ones penis into the mouths of citizens who you would then deny equal rights and treatment under the law....well, that DOES make you a very naughty boy. Actually, that and the bald-faced lying, refusal to accept personal responsibility for your actions, and barely concealed rage (not shame, not humiliation Larry, it was rage pure & simple) at being caught would make you a sociopath.

So your sociopathic and/or simply retarded friends in congress all abandoned you? Pardon me while I laugh. What the hell did you expect would happen? They're just like you. Speaking of old-fashioned values do you remember the one about "you made your own bed, now lie in it"?

I bet you'd like to ring officer Dave Karsnia's neck, wouldn't you? If it's any consolation to you I don't foresee a very good outcome for him either.

The officer grew audibly frustrated toward the end of the interview, saying, "I guess I'm gonna say I'm just disappointed in you, sir. I'm just really am. I expect this from the guy that we get out of the 'hood. I mean, people vote for you."

Right. People in the 'hood all cruise public toilets for sex and all of them lie. Nice to see an officer of the law openly express what most of them honestly believe for once. Now shut up and go feel heroic in your War on Toilet Sex.

You know officer Karsnia, most of the people who voted for Larry aren't from the 'hood. See, people from the 'hood usually know a lying freak when they see one. Too bad the same can't be said of the fine, upstanding, values voters of Idaho.

Which is why I'm not jumping for joy that Larry is toast, I have every confidence Idaho voters will replace him with someone equally reprehensible.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

As I Was Saying

Flippers fuel foreclosures

Flippers and other speculators investing in single-family homes helped drive up prices in many hot housing markets during the boom. Now they're contributing heavily to mortgage delinquencies in several of those markets.

Defaults in non-owner occupied houses are driving defaults in four of the states with the fastest rising default rates in the nation, according to a report released Thursday by the Mortgage Bankers Association.

"Defaults are on the rise in most parts of the country, is not always the case of a homeowner losing his or her home," Doug Duncan, the MBA's chief economist, said in a statement, "but [it's] often the case of an investor gambling on a continued increase in home values and losing that gamble."

Several sun-belt states were magnets for real estate speculators during the home-price boom. Coastal California led the early charge, but as prices there raced ahead of affordability, many investors abandoned those markets for Central Valley cities as well as Las Vegas, Phoenix and other Arizona towns.

As of June 30, in Nevada, 32 percent of all prime mortgages in default and 24 percent of subprime defaults were on non-owner occupied properties, according to the MBA. The numbers for Arizona were 26 percent prime and 18 percent subprime. In California, they were 21 percent and 15 percent respectively.

The default rates in Florida for non-owner occupied homes were 25 percent for prime loans and 14 percent for subprime ones.

In the rest of the nation, non-owners accounted for just 13 percent of prime loan defaults and 11 percent of subprime.

Now you have someone much more 'portant than moi to 'splain this one. It's good to be validated even when it is 5 or 6 years after the fact.

Granted it's a moot point now that el Jefe Bush has done a complete 360 and decided to bail them out. Apparently even the Shrub came to realize that rich people losing money would be the end of the Republican party.

Countrywide is happy, Beazer Homes is happy, Wall Street is happy and even most of our Democratic leadership is happy. The fact that this bailout likely will not save any actual low-income families (check...only qualified borrowers will receive assistance, I'll leave it to you to figure out who and what will determine who is qualified, it shouldn't be too difficult) will be glossed over and maybe, just maybe, a few people who truly need to help will be allowed to reap some benefit. After all we'll be needing one or two token families to interview on CNN.

I'm not even terribly upset over this one, why should I be when I won't be the one crying because I can't afford a house two years down the road.

Oh, and Georgie....thanks for the chump change today.