Friday, December 31, 2010

My English connections . . .

. . . redux

Most of my family tree has its roots in England, Ireland or Scotland - notwithstanding the Lowdermilk (Lautermilch) branch of my grandmother.

I suppose there is a horsethief or madam or grifter somewhere in the line, but I have found none. However, one of the more interesting finds is Sir Leonard Halliday, Lord mayor of London from October 29, 1605 to October 1606.

Leonard was knighted on July 26, 1603 by King James I, and later became one of the 124 merchants who formed the East India Company.

For those of you with a little knowledge of English history, you will remember, remember the 5th of November 1603. Just seven days after Leonard's investiture as Lord Mayor, Guy Fawkes was found guarding 36 barrels of gunpowder under the house of lords. Sir Leonard went on to great success as a merchant. Guy Fawkes and his cohorts did not fare as well.

Portrait by unknown Flemish artist - Ca. 1575.

Leonard's coat of arms is blazoned: Sable, three helmets Argent garnished Or, within a bordure engrailed of the second.

Translation: On a black shield, three silver helmets trimmed in gold,within scalloped silver border.

It's none of my business . . .

. . . but which of these is the picture of health?

2003

or 2010

What does Kelly Ripa see when she looks in the mirror?

Monday, December 27, 2010

I hab . . .

. . . a code (sniffle)

Or a least, I did. I thought it was on the way out.

But . . . I took Mrs. B to the clinic today because I gave her my cold. She asked the doctor to take a look at me while we were there.

Good news: My cold is almost gone.

Bad news: Strep throat.

At least, I appear not to have leprosy.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Christmas present I mentioned.

Cameo by De Paola in Napoli

(The photo doesn't do it justice)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

$13,868,461,000,000 of debt . . .

. . . 308,745,538 People

If we split it evenly, my share of the U.S. National debt is $44,917.43.

I would write a check tomorrow, iff:

1. Everyone else in the USA would do the same (or Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, et. al. would do it for them).

2. The bastards in DC would quit spending more than we give them.

I would.

Really.

By the way, "iff" is a very precise mathematical/logical term.

In military terms, it means "Identify Friend or Foe."

Although - considering the subject - that definition is relatively appropos, I use it in the context of a biconditional logical connective.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Garmin . . .


. . . reminder

When one is returning from an obscure place on a dark and rainy night, one should remember to switch one's Garmin from walking mode to driving mode.

Otherwise, said Garmin believes that one is walking at 40 to 80 kph and loses it's mind in a recalculation loop.

Obviously, I have never done this, but am providing this thought as a public service announcement.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Leaks . . .

. . . about the leaker.

The documents concerning the rape charges against Julian Assange have been leaked to the press.

To The Guardian, no less.

His lawyers are incensed.

Which old saw is appropriate?

You made your bed, now . . .

What's good for the goose . . .

Turnabout is . . .

What goes around . . .

Maybe none of those applies. Perhaps this:

Tough shit, Jules!
Un viaggio . . .

. . . a Vomero

Posted in Italiano for a reason.

Questo messaggio è in italiano di mantenere un segreto.

Lunedi, non sono andato lavorare. Invece, sono andato a Vomero e comprato un regalo di Natale per mia moglie. È una cammeo ed è fatto a mano dal proprietario del negozio. È una scultura della moglie di Bacchus, il dio di vino.

Ho dovuto andare nella mia macchina, nel treno, e nella funicolare - un viaggio molto lungo, ma il cammeo è bellissimo.

Credo lei sarà felice.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Osservazioni . . .
. . . casuali

OK, no griping about the italiano. I have to practice somewhere, and if you think about it, the meaning is obvious.

Italian stuff:
The highways around Napoli have many places to pull over in case of car trouble. In English, we call them trash dumps.

When an ambulance needs to fight its way through the traffic on the autostrade, the Italiani immediatly jump directly behind and let it run interference.

As much as the Italians dote on their children, they are abysmally careless with them in their automobiles. Today, I saw a family of five, no seatbelts, and an infant on the driver's lap. It is an everyday occurrence to see a child standing on a seat or just wandering around inside the car. It gives me cold chills.

I still have yet to see anyone stop at a stop sign in Italy. They should be renamed. Perhaps nevermind sign would be appropriate

Talking on the phone while driving is illegal in Italy. Apparently, that law is cancelled if you talk on the phone while gesturing wildly with both hands off the wheel. Then, technically, you are not driving.

Non-Italian stuff:
Clueless statement of the week: Assange's British lawyer, Mark Stephens, said Wednesday that "Somebody has it in for Julian Assange and we only can conjecture why." (It appears that "having it in" is the reason for the warrant in the first place.)

Clueless act of the week: The 2011 Tax Bill has almost 7,000 earmarks with a total cost of $9,130,800,000. (Did the "earmarkers" see the results of the recent election?)

Lie of the week: The White House said money from other sources would be shifted so the Social Security trust fund loses no revenue. (There is no cash in the Social Security trust fund, and there never has been. The "trust fund" is full of paper IOUs from the U.S. government, and benefits are paid from current revenues - or borrowings. Bernie Madoff ran the same scam, and ended up in the graybar hotel.)

Obama's bipartisanship: Based on his recent speeches, Barry O's idea of bipartisanship seems to be "we lost the election, so I guess I'll have to work with the bastards."

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Day trip . . .

. . . to Vomero


My efforts to learn italiano are being hindered by the lack of opportunity to practice. Classwork and homework just are not enough. So, when our instructor organized a field trip to the Certosa e Museo di San Martino in Vomero, I decided to tag along.

No, this is not the entrance to the museum. Because Vomero's streets have the layout of a plate of spaghetti, and the width of a Smartcar, I decided to take the Metro from the NATO compound. I parked my car securely inside the gate, behind the two Italian guards sitting on their version of a Bradley mounted with a fairly large machine gun. This is the first part of the path from NATO to the Metro station. Inviting, innit?

When I arrived at Montesanto station, at the bottom of Vomero hill, I was greeted by proof positive of Naples' current garbage crisis.


How competent are you at parallel parking? It's an art in Napoli, and people take no prisoners. If there is a spot with 2" of clearance on each end, someone will park a car there. They primarily park by sound, and bumpers are well used - if present at all.

This is the cloister inside the church. It isn't an abbey in the common sense of the word. A Carthusian Charterhouse is essentially a community of hermits. Each house is headed by a prior and is populated by choir monks and lay brothers. This cloister is also a cemetery. Those globes on the fence are carved stone skulls, but the graves are not marked.

The sanctuary of the church is an amazing example of tireless, patient craftsmanship. The floor, columns, steps, and partitions are all marble, and are shaped as a master woodworker would execute joinery. The amount of time required to do this magnificent work is simply beyond comprehension.


Then, there's the view from the plaza outside the museum, with Vesuvio overlooking all. Bellissimo!

Napoli is sometimes called "A pretty girl with dirty feet." Today, I saw the dirty feet, but the pretty girl was still enchanting.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Attention . . .

. . . blogger on deck

As you were.

MESSAGE FOLLOWS:

Residential internet access is not functional. Blogging from official work stations is severly limited.

MESSAGE ENDS.

Attention!

Dismissed.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hypocricy . . .

. . . writ large

WASHINGTON – The Senate Tuesday rejected a GOP bid to ban the practice of larding spending bills with earmarks — those pet projects that lawmakers love to send home to their states.

So, let's freeze federal salaries, raise the retirement age and raise taxes - but OUR projects are untouchable.

Strangely enough, the day was carried (or buried, depending on your point of view) by . . . wait for it . . . yep, the Democrats.

Did they NOT see the results of the recent election? Even Barry O wants a ban.

Arseholes, the lot.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Look in Webster's . . .

. . . under "self-righteous prick"

You will find this photo.


Headline: International Warrant Issued for Assange. Perhaps justice will out via a "back door" - pun intended.

Finis . . .

. . . and regrets

One of my favorite bloggers has lowered his colors and cried finito!

For 5-1/2 years, John Wood has held forth on topics critical and topics trivial. No matter the topic, however, his thoughts, his logic, and the amazing command of the language always impressed me.

John had a distinguised career, including time served in NI during "The Troubles," where he was awarded an MBE with oak leaf valor device.

More than a few times, I disagreed with his position, but was hard-pressed to provide significant opposition. He argued his points so damn convincingly that I was often left just scratching my head for words of riposte.

Sorry to see you go, John.
Thanks a lot . . .

. . . Barry

Citing deficit, Obama to freeze federal worker pay.

It's a knee-jerk reaction, because Barry needs to do something - anything - to show that he's sensitive to the budget deficit.

It's OK. I can take it. Everyone is going to have to sacrifice something to pay for the excesses our government has indulged in for the past (way too many) years.

However, that leads me to a question or two for Basketball Barry:

1. Where was this concern when you proposed your new budget based on little more than wishful thinking and inflated projections?

2. Where was this concern when you stuffed a health care plan down our throats, one that created 150 new Federal agencies?

3. Where was this concern when you racked up a deficit that exceeded ALL OF THIS NATIONS DEFICITS TO DATE?

4. Where was this concern when your minions in the Nancy and Harry Show were rolling pork through Congress faster than Armour makes sausages?

And (the ever-present, ever-judgmental) "they" said that Sarah Palin didn't have the experience to be a heartbeat away from the presidency?

Right now, I would trade her for you, and wouldn't even ask for a future draft choice.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Statistics don't lie . . .

. . . but statisticians do

There is a continuing effort in the press and in some dark corners of Congress to place a large part of the blame for the country's current fiscal problems on the backs of federal employees.

Ms. Julie Snider of USA Today has provided us with a textbook example of the comparison of apples to aardvarks.

The error of this analysis lies precisely in the job mix of the private and public sectors. Included in the "average" salaries of private workers are garbage collectors, janitors, hamburger-flippers, fruit pickers, gas station attendants, restaurant waiters, convenience store clerks, and cub reporters for great metropolitan newspapers, to name a few.

I do not denigrate any of these jobs. All are honorable and necessary. However, Uncle Sam employs very few workers of this type. The federal job mix tends to be heavily oriented towards skilled trades and professionals. The federal workforce necessarily employs scientists, engineers, lawyers, accountants, physicists, electrical & mechanical technicians, nurses and doctors, for example.

Jobs requiring less training or education are indeed necessary in the federal community, but are generally contracted from the private sector.

While anecdotal evidence seldom proves a point, my appointment, which requires a masters degree, a professional license, and more than a decade of relevant experience, pays significantly less than a similar position in the private sector. I have the paychecks from both as proof. Further, my benefits are nowhere close to 50% of my salary, nor are those of the numerous employees in the departments I have managed.

There is no denying that federal employes have a good benefits package. However, the package is not unlike packages offered by major employers across the U.S., and it is necessary for the government to offer it in order to attract quality employees.

I view this backlash as just another version of jealousy fomented by hard times. Those who have less than they would like tend to attack those who have more - a position that the current administration embraces.

The premise of Ms. Snider's analysis is correct.

Her target is not.

The federal employees responsible for said problems - and there are only 596 of them - are not those in the chart above, but those with the title of "Senator" or "Congressman/woman" before their names.

Friday, November 26, 2010

My day off . . .

. . . so far
  1. Slept a couple of hours longer (I'm usuallly up at 0500)
  2. Left for the dentist's office at 1015
  3. Missed a turn and drove 15 km out of my way
  4. Noticed that the whores were still working - even in the rain
  5. More about #4 later
  6. Arrived at dentist on time after all
  7. Two shots of novocaine
  8. Surgical extraction of #5 root
  9. Bone graft
  10. Implant insertion
  11. Three stitches
  12. Many euro handed to dentist
  13. One vicodin
  14. Soft food for dinner
  15. Another vicodin

All things considered, I would rather have been at work.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Enough . . .

. . . is enough!

I seldom use exclamation points because most folks with a modicum of intelligence can determine which statements deserve emphasis and which do not.

Besides, internet bloggers and phone texters have already used the entire world's supply of said punctuation, and the supply has not yet been renewed because of the world's financial crisis.

However, I retrieved one from my strongbox specifically for Joe Miller.

For those who do not recognize the name, or believe that American politics is just another diversion for the mentally infirm, Mr. Miller is the Tea Party candidate for the U. S. Senate seat in Alaska, in opposition to the incumbent, write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski.

He has filed a lawsuit because the Alaska election board proposes to count ballots cast for Lisa Merkowski or Lisa Murkowsky or whatever other permutations of her name appear next to the little oval.

To be fair, Alaska election law does state that the little ovals must be darkened, and that the name must appear as written on the declaration of candidacy. However, case law has allowed some flexibility in order to ensure that the intent of the voters is carried forth.

This lawsuit might make some sense if the election were close, but Miller would lose by 2,167 votes even if all the contested votes were discarded.

Yet, Miller slogs on, tilting at bureaucratic windmills on the tundra of Alaska.

Mr. Miller, you are a loser - twice over. Hand your lance to your Sancho Panza and gracefully retire from the field.

Monday, November 22, 2010

They can . . .

. . . but should they?

Developers of the controversial Park51 Islamic community center and mosque located two blocks from Ground Zero earlier this month applied for roughly $5 million in federal grant money set aside for the redevelopment of lower Manhattan after the attacks of September 11th, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the matter. - The Daily Beast 22 NOV 2010

I have said before that all of this is perfectly legal, and is certainly allowed under the basic concepts of freedom in the U.S.

I feel a modicum of guilt for my opposition to the construction of this Mosque. However, it is tempered by a failing hope that this Imam would reach out, acknowledge the feelings this project foments, and offer an alternate solution.

That which is allowed and that which is right are not always congruent.

With any luck, however - and I hesitate to use the word "luck" in this context - this request will not prevail. In order to obtain the grant the applicant must have sufficient capital to seed the project. For an entity wishing to construct a $100M project, Park51 has an amazing paucity of funds - a total of $20,000 on its financial statement.

John Avalon of the Daily Beast characterized it all very succinctly:
It’s a lose-lose proposition put forward by a tone-deaf organization that seems determined to alienate allies and embolden opponents.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Have we . . .

. . . already lost?

TSA Pat Down Leaves Bladder Cancer Survivor Humiliated and Covered In Urine...

Cancer-surviving flight attendant forced to remove prosthetic breast...

TSA says they use a less aggressive touch for children under 12 . . .

Then she went into the top of my slacks, inserted her hands between my underwear and my skin . . .

(TSA) is warning that any would-be commercial airline passenger who enters an airport checkpoint and then refuses to undergo the method of inspection designated by TSA will not be allowed to fly and also will not be permitted to simply leave the airport. That person will have to remain on the premises to be questioned by the TSA and possibly by local law enforcement. Anyone refusing faces fines up to $11,000 and possible arrest.

Later I found out that in addition to touching her swollen breasts – to protect the American citizenry – the employee had asked that she lift up her shirt. Not behind a screen, not off to the side – no, right there, directly in front of the hundred or so passengers standing in line. And for you women who’ve been pregnant and worn maternity pants, you know how ridiculous those things look. "I felt like a clown," my wife told me later. "On display for all these people, with the cotton panel on my pants and my stomach sticking out. When I sat down I just lost my composure and began to cry. That’s when you walked up."

“Listen up!” he said. “You will enter the proper line for passport control. U.S. passports here, non-U.S. passports there”—and he pointed to the appropriate queues. “You will have your passport available for immediate inspection. You will cooperate with the appropriate authorities. If you do not you will be subject to detention and possible arrest!”

“As the TSA agent was frisking plaintiff, the agent pulled the plaintiff’s blouse completely down, exposing plaintiffs’ breasts to everyone in the area,” the lawsuit said. “As would be expected, plaintiff was extremely embarrassed and humiliated.”

TSA actually forced a 37-year-old Texas woman to remove her nipple ring with a pair of pliers before they would allow her to get on an airplane.

Ben Franklin wept . . .

Gentlemen, you are to consider, that a great Empire, like a great Cake, is most easily diminished at the Edges

- Benjamin Franklin, September 11, 1773

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Ouch . . .

. . . and ouch!

Ouch #1: I thought I had a loose crown on on #4. (That's the fifth tooth back from the centerline on the right upper, BTW) Wrong! It fell out Friday, but it wasn't a loose crown. The remainder of the tooth that the crown was attached to had broken off at the gumline). The fix: extraction of the tooth and the root, insertion of a post implant and attachment of a new crown.

This normally wouldn't have been very stressful - other than the cash outlay, that is - but living in a foreign country adds a "few" extra problems. Fortunately, through pure happenstance, I located an Italian dentist who is married to a Navy doctor, and who has qualifications from the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. Oh, and he speaks English.

Upside: I found qualified dentist.
Downisde: It's going to cost € 1.800.
Upside: He's only 500 meters from the base.
Downside: My dental insurance covers NONE of this.
Upside: Our health savings plan lets me pay the bill with pre-tax funds.

Ouch #2: Our Ford Escape, which we bought almost a year ago has only 6,500 miles on the odometer. (I guess it has 6,500 miles on the engine and tires also, but back to the point.)

While backing out of our drive today, I was carefully watching the wall across the very narrow street. Yep, I carefully watched it while I backed into it. Parged concrete is very much like sandpaper, and the left rear corner of the bumper cover is testament to that fact. Merda!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day . . .

. . . 2010


Although the "Great War" did not officially end until 28 JUN 1919, hostilities officially ceased on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. The anniversary of this day was known as "Armistice Day" until 1954, when it was changed to "Veterans Day."

This is the first time I have flown my flag on foreign soil, but fly it does.

Friday, November 05, 2010

My last . . .

. . . Political statement

At least for this week, because I am just totally pissed off at ignorance and hypocrisy.

Party of NO

I am sick of hearing this tired cliché. Barry O has offered his menu only, then has the gall to whimper about the lack of bipartisanship when the offerings are declined. On Tuesday, he discovered that majority of the people in the country are de facto members of the Party of NO.

We're too stupid, Chapter 2

Barry O said that he hasn't been able to successfully promote his economic-rescue message to anxious Americans. He also said he recognizes now that "leadership is not just legislation." "It's a matter of persuading people, and making an argument that people can understand."

Dude, I told you on Wednesday that calling the folks too stupid to understand your magnificent policies is not a winning strategy. It didn't work in this election, and it won't work in 2012.

Vanity Fair - or not?

The general anti-Obama rage out there is palpable. But it’s no more virulent than the anti-Bush sentiment that has pervaded the country for much of the past decade—although this being America, there’s an attendant hatred for Obama that has more to do with race than anything else. What makes today’s fury more worrying is the fact that angry right-wing extremists tend to carry guns in disproportionate numbers to their liberal counterparts. - Graydon Carter, Vanity Fair, December 2010

Graydon, you twit, Socrates has a message for you: "When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser." As someone who takes pride in refusing to vote, your rhetoric rings a mite hollow. If you're not willing to help fix it, quit whining about it.

I find it interesting that the preponderance of those crying "racist" are those who are trying to convince themselves that he took a standing eight-count because he is black. I assume that allows them to rationalize that the policies weren't really that bad. Well, believe what you will. On the other hand, the demographics suggest that more people voted for Barry O because of his race than voted against him for the same reason.

The throw-away gun argument is so specious that it hardly deserves comment. However, I submit that the "liberal counterparts" are much more of a risk to the republic with their policies than the "angry, gun-toting right-wing extremists" are with anything tucked away in their locked gun safes. This election was won at the ballot box, not at the O.K. Corral.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Belaboring . . .

. . . the obvious

President Barack Obama furiously worked the phones to urban-format radiostations Tuesday, arguing that his agenda would be "all at risk" if Republicans trampled Democrats.

Uhhhh . . . Dude, isn't that the point?

Monday, November 01, 2010

Windy . . .

. . . innit?

video

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Multi-tasking . . .

. . . or just plain rude?

Do you work for or with someone who keeps working on their computer when you come to ask questions?

Do they talk to you, but continue typing and not look up from the screen?

It has happened to me now and again, and I consider it rude and dismissive.

How about you? Have you ever done that? Do you do it consistently?

Or, do you do the right thing, and either:

a. Say "please give me just a moment so I don't lose my thought," or,

b. Turn and face your visitor and give them your attention?

Be honest now.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dazed . . .
. . . and confused

The U. S. electorate, that is.

At least that's what Barry O is telling us.

In Boston, Barry said: "People out there are still hurting very badly, and they are still scared, and so part of the reason that our politics seems so tough right now, and facts and science and argument does not seem to be winning the day all the time, is because we're hard-wired not to always think clearly when we're scared."

Translation: It's not my policies. You're just too scared to listen, or too stupid to understand.

Here's a news flash, Barry. Jimmy-the-peanut-farmer's "Crisis of Confidence" didn't save him either. Calling the populace too ignorant to see how much you have helped them just may not be a winning strategy.

I think Charles Krauthammer's assessment is right on target. Barry has diagnosed the populace with "Obama Underappreciation Syndrome."

Monday, October 25, 2010

This self-important egomaniac . . .

. . . can go sod himself.

He's nothing more than a cyber-terrorist wolf in the sheep's clothing of a savior of humanity. I would state my reasons, but those who disagree would not accept them, and those who agree don't need them.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Orwell . . .

. . . Returns

To the UK, that is.

From: The Times

Ministers are considering spending up to £12 billion on a database to monitor and store the internet browsing habits, e-mail and telephone records of everyone in Britain.

GCHQ, the government’s eavesdropping centre, has already been given up to £1 billion to finance the first stage of the project.

Hundreds of clandestine probes will be installed to monitor customers live on two of the country’s biggest internet and mobile phone providers - thought to be BT and Vodafone. BT has nearly 5m internet customers.

I don't live in the UK, but this concerns me. Whether it was Wilde or Shaw or Russell or Churchill, we are indeed two countries separated only by a common language.

Although the UK has no constution, per se, and therefore no bill of rights, certain rights of individuals are assumed - whether by statute or convention. Beyond that, peoples in a "free" country have evolved a zone of comfort about that which the government may or may not control.

I am very interested in the outcome of this proposal. Are the citizens of the UK willing to have every communication recorded in order to provide some (perceived) higher level of security?

If that happens, have not "They" won?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Navigating . . .

. . . the maelstrom

The maelstrom that is downtown Napoli, that is.

Even with the complexity of today's automobiles, recalls are relatively rare. However, rarity doesn't help when:
a. Your new vehicle has only 3,000 miles on the odometer, and
b. You just had it shipped 4,645 miles to a foreign country.

Italy, for example.

Yep, our new Ford Escape was recalled to reprogram the control module for the automatic transmission.

Fortunately, Ford has an extensive presence in Italy so there is a Ford concessionaire in Naples. That's the good news. The bad news is that the Ford concessionaire is in Naples.

I'm told that Naples is the second most densely populated city in the world - just behind Tokyo. That, however is not true.

With 4,100 people per sq. km., Naples is 55th on the list - on a par with Leeds/Bradford and Manchester in the UK. London, by the way is number 43, with a density of 5,100 per sq. km.

None of that is comforting, though, considering where I had to drive a vehicle that is approximately 25% larger than most cars on Naples' streets.

I was in this area. The photos don't look too bad, but traffic density was at least five times that evidenced here. It was simply wall-to-wall cars, three wide, with nary a metre nose-to-tail anywhere.

Evidence, you ask? Distance - 4.5 km. Driving time - 30 minutes. Average speed - 9 kph (5.6 mph). Hardly nosebleed velocity.

I made it there and back with nary a scratch. Although, I had to "go Napolitani" on a few folks. (Translated: No quarter asked, none given). I call it Driving under the Black Flag. Banastre Tarleton would have been proud.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

More questions . . .

. . . a possible answer


In a post on 29 SEP, titled Good Questions, I quoted Patrick J. Buchanan, to wit:

In 2009, as unemployment soared under Obama, the U.S. government issued 1.131 million green cards. . .

In response, Brennig offered a riposte with several questions that focused on a central point. That point (hopefully accurately restated) being that "accepted economic thinking clearly states that change in economic policies . . . can take up to 18 months to take effect," so why blame Obama?

That was such an insightful question that I decided to bring my answer here rather than just in a comment to his comment. Here 'tis, slightly expanded - and corrected, because I misspoke with respect to taxes.

As former COO of a small business, I know first-hand that there are both resultant AND anticipatory effects created due to a significant policy change.

A good percentage of the business leaders in the U.S. understand (or, at least believe they understand) the eventual outcome of Obama's overtly socialistic policies. Then they react in accordance. They anticipate the probable effect of these policies, then adjust their business strategies and practices so as not to be adversely affected when the excrement strikes the rotary air mover.

For example, the expiration of the Bush tax reductions on "the rich" is particularly onerous to small businesses. Many of these are "Type S" corporations, where the entire profit of the company is treated as taxable personal income to the owner, regardless of the salary he pays himself.

So, a significant income stream that could be used to create jobs is sucked up by the government. Business owners anticipate this effect and adjust to it before the fact.

His policies are generally anti-business, the owners know it, so they are not waiting those projected 18 months. A successful business must lead the parade, not sweep up after it with a dustpan and broom.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Deal . . .

. . . or no deal


Subtitle: gambling for dummies.

This game show, hosted by Howie Mandel, has been very popular for five years. I believe the only reason that it maintains it's popularity is the sheer idiocy of the contestants they choose.

What the contestants never seem to comprehend is that it's a game of chance, not skill. No matter what system you use, unless you look at the odds, you will lose.

You can believe that the million is in your case. It doesn't matter. It's random

You can be "on a roll." It doesn't matter. It's random.

Your faith that "one more case" will help you doesn't matter. It's random.

Chosing cases by family members' birthdays doesn't matter. It's random.

For most, gambling fever takes over.

Take this doofus. Down to two cases on the board: $1.00 and $1,000,000.00. His offer: $660,000.00. So, here are his choices:

1: $660,000 sure thing.
2: Flip of a coin and you get either a million or nothing.

Guess what he did.

Guess what he went home with.

Yep, $1.00

There is absolutely no skill involved in this game except for the decision about when to quit. Amateur gamblers who don't realize this fact in ANY game of chance eventually go home broke.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Vietri . . .

. . . to Amalfi

Today, Mrs. B and I took a road trip from Napoli to Vietri to Amalfi, then back over the mountains to Napoli.

Looking uphill, we saw views like these:


Downhill views looked like this:



Our smiles looked like this:

We had lunch in a very nice ristorante in Ravello, well up the hill from Amalfi. Even though the tourist season is almost over, we sat next to a family from Inverness, Scotland, one from Allen, TX, and two from Boston, MA. The rest of the room was filled with Italiani.

The drive was fine, notwithstanding the narrow, winding roads. The only distraction was the never-ending whine of motorcycles. They treat these mountain roads like their own private grand prix.

Next season, we plan to go back and stay for a couple of days.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Buon Day . . .

. . . or Good Giorno?

I don't really feel that I have progressed enough with my Italiano lessons. However, I have come to the point where I speak neither Italiano or Inglese, but rather Inglesiano or Italiese.

English words mixed with whatever proper Italiano I can remember. My employees think it's progress. What do you think?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lezioni di Italiano . . .

. . . are kicking my butt.

I'm not being parochial here, being a lifelong English speaker, but why should ALL nouns have a gender?

Bambino (baby boy) and Bambina (baby girl) make perfect sense. So do amico (male friend) and amica (female friend). Even better, because Italians can say in one word where it takes us two.

Mela (apple) is OK because there was Eve, the garden, and all that.

Macchina (automobile) and barca (boat) make a little sense. We sometimes refer to our cars as "the old girl," and all ships are called "she."

But, please explain why penna should be feminine. It's a thing, not a she. Worse yet, you pluralize it by replacing the a with an e, and have penne for more than one pen. But make sure you pronounce the nn double consonant. Pen-nah, if you please. Yesterday, I asked my professoressa di italiano for a pen. Hai una penna? Had I said, hai un pene, she would have denied, with righteous indignation, possessing that particular piece of equipment.

Another double consonant trap is set by anno (year). Mio bambino ha un anno (my baby boy is one year old) is perfect. Mio bambino ha un ano is anatomically correct, but should not be said in polite company.

Non ho nessuno comprensione.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Stating . . .

. . . the obvious

John Kerry, worrying about some democrats turning away from Obama, said, "We have an electorate that doesn't always pay that much attention to what's going on so people are influenced by a simple slogan rather than the facts or the truth or what's happening."

John, don't you realize that is precisely what elected Barry in the first place?

Good questions . . .

. . . easy answer

In 2009, as unemployment soared under Obama, the U.S. government issued 1.131 million green cards, 808,000 of them for immigrants of working age, the fourth highest number of foreign workers brought into this country in history.

Why, with 25 million Americans unemployed or underemployed, are we importing a million foreign workers? Why are we not sending the illegals back, as President Eisenhower did, and imposing a moratorium on new immigration, as FDR did, to save American jobs for American workers?

- Patrick J. Buchanan

Because the party in power relies on the Hispanic vote to stay in power. And, a significant proportion of the Hispanic vote believes that ANY action on immigration (legal or illegal) is racist.

Any more questions?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sometimes, I wonder . . .

. . . about bureacrats


Belay that - it's not true. I always wonder about bureacrats.

Even though I technically qualify as one.

Today, we had an urgent - and by urgent, I mean a "get it here right now" - data request from our minders in Washington.

D.C., that is.

The urgent request, you ask?

Please review this list of facilities and advise us:

a. If they are still in service, and,

b. Why are they not on the register of historic places?



Perhaps that someone in Dee Cee should have noticed:

a. That we are in freakin' Italy, not the U.S., so these facilities would not be eligible for the register,

b. That Italy has shoes older than our entire country.

Dullards.

They give us all a bad name.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

An offer . . .

. . . I couldn't refuse.

Two of my direct report local nationals had planned a trip to begin negotiations on a rather large lease that must be renegotiated by March next. They asked if I would like to come along.

Friday. Nice day. Road trip. Why not?

Good choice.

The meeting was held at Signore and Signora G's casa at the lease site. This is not their main home - just a get-away place in the hills. Some get-away! Although rather small and attached to some of the maintenance and storage buildings at the lease site, it was amazingly elegant on the inside. Arches and vaults and marble and tiles. Antique furniture filled every room.

It wasn't so much a meeting as a visit. It was pleasant conversation followed by a little business followed by pleasant conversation and espresso on the terrazza.

Signore and Signora G are both from old-line Napoli familes, and were perfect hosts. Elegant is the only description I can muster. They even listened patiently while I tried to answer some of their questions about me and my family in my fractured Italiano.

It took me back to the times when I was very young and in the homes of my grandparents and their friends. It was a totally different world.

Oh, and I don't drink coffee, but I absolutely would not have refused that cup of espresso. I was prepared to grit my teeth and get it over with, but it wasn't half bad. Not that I intend to be a coffee drinker. That was my first drink of coffee in 49 years and I don't intend to make it a regular event.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Troubling statements . . .

. . . from the head shed.

At least based on Woodward's book.

When Woodward dissected the Bush administration, all the dem tongues were wagging "I told you so." Now, the he provides an insight into Barry O's playpen, and, as they say, "It ain't pretty."

Privately, he told Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to push his alternative strategy opposing a big troop buildup in meetings, and while Mr. Obama ultimately rejected it, he set a withdrawal timetable because, “I can’t lose the whole Democratic Party.”

The context of that statement should infuriate every soldier, sailor and Marine in the fight - not to mention the families of those who have given their last full measure. Their CinC puts more priority on keeping his party in line and in power than success in the theater. No more need be said.

The president concluded from the start that “I have two years with the public on this” and pressed advisers for ways to avoid a big escalation, the book says.

While in the Senate, Barry wanted nothing less than full withdrawal. He even wanted to withhold funding. Now, he is strategizing on how to stay in power. He is more concerned with his party's idealogy than a successful end to the war.

Some of the critical players in President Obama’s national security team doubt his strategy in Afghanistan will succeed and have spent much of the last 20 months quarreling with one another over policy, personalities and turf, according to a new book.

Having grown up in Illinois, this does not surprise me. It is simply Chicago politics writ large. It's also illustrative of the fact that Barry does not have the executive experience and ability for the job.

"The (Afghan military strategy) document - a copy of which is reprinted in the book - took the unusual step of stating, along with the strategy's objectives, what the military was not supposed to do."

Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam redux. I don't like what my professional military is telling me, so I will write my own rules of engagement.

Of cours, as CinC, that is his perogative. However, like any chief executive, he should be focusing on overall strategy and relying on his operations folks to execute that strategy.

My hope now is that the Republican party does not shoot itself in the foot by proffering non-electable wingnuts.

They have already started . . .

Saturday, September 18, 2010

How to . . .

. . . Balance the budget

The U. S. Budget, that is.

Coffman Introduces Federal Furlough Bill to Save Taxpayers $5.5 Billion

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) this week introduced a bill that would subject federal civilian employees to a two week furlough in 2011. The bill, H.R. 6134, is a one year measure to reduce federal spending and combat the unsustainable deficit spending in Washington.

"I would like to make the U.S. government as cost conscious as the states. My legislation is a start.”

Thank you, Mr. Coffman. You have just confirmed that high altitude kills brain cells, and that your occupancy of an office in the (formerly) hallowed halls of congress is simply a waste of federal administrative space.

Allow me to offer an analogy:

Children, I am sorry to inform you that I have blown my entire paycheck on drink and fast women. We have almost no money for food or fuel, so, Muffy and Billy, you will have to spend two days of each week living elsewhere.

Coffman, let me remind you that this mess was NOT made by the taxpayers. It was made by YOU and your cohorts in congress and the White House. You and your gang of idiots on both sides of the aisle have squandered the wealth and reputation of the United States by paying attention to your ideology instead of your constituency and common sense.

So, instead of bailouts, pork projects, federal give-aways and 2,000 page laws that no one reads or understands, go back to minding the checkbook. Spend our money like it was coming out of your hide. Combat that unsustainable spending by making logical, financially responsible decisions.

Small wonder that the populace is ripe to toss the incumbents’ collective arses into the gutter.

Disclaimer: I am a government employee, AND a taxpayer. I am competent and successful at my job. I can afford the two weeks furlough. That is not the point. Rather it is the pure comedy of the “solutions” these clowns offer.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Hallelujah . . .

Brennig mentioned Georgia Garrett, a 16-year-old vocalist from Essex (and competitor on the forthcoming series of Britain’s Got Talent), so I went looking for some of her music on YouTube. She does have a terrific voice for her age. I particularly liked her rendition of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah.

After listening to Garret's version, I looked around for more, and found this amazing cover by K. D. Lang. Lang started as a country singer, but has amazing versatility and a golden set of pipes.

Listen, if you have a moment.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dental . . .


. . . nonsense

I have a loose crown on #4 (upper right pre-molar), so I went to the dental clinic in our very nice, new Navy hospital. Of course, I couldn't make an appointment, so I had to go to sick call.

I had gone to sick call last week, and filled out all the paperwork. However, I had to leave because there was no dentist available for my problem. Since I didn't actually see a dentist, they shredded my paperwork, and I had to do that all over again.

After an hour's wait, I was ushered in for X-ray, and had a very thorough exam by a very qualified dentist. The clinic has all the latest equipment, including a direct-to-computer X-ray machine. I stood in a framework, a scanner made a half-loop of my head, and the X-rays showed up on the computer screen.

At this point, I'm pretty confident - then, the results . . .

Dental Tech: Since the crown is loose, we cannot fix it, because that procedure is only allowed for uniformed service members. However, if the crown were detached, we could re-cement it, but cannot do any other remediation. (Flashback to Catch-22).

So, I go to the front desk for a reference and referral.

Desk Clerk: You will need to see an Italian dentist.
Me: Can you recommend one?
Desk Clerk: We have a list, but we cannot ethically make recommendations.
Me: OK, then could I have a copy of my exam and the X-rays?
Desk Clerk: We can't give you a copy of the X-rays. The equipment is new, the only people who can repair it are from the U.S., and it has been down for about 8 weeks.
Me: Any idea when a repair is scheduled?
Desk Clerk: No clue.

Government at its finest . . .

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Stars and Stripes . . .

. . . over Naples


When in the states, I fly the flag year-around. While in Italy, we are advised not to, because it advertises us as stranieri (foreigners) to the local low-life crooks. However, today is one of the exceptions, and the low-lifes be damned.

Posted at 0845 EST, 11 SEP 2010)

We're still here
and you're in a cave in Wherethefuckistan

Karma sucks, doesn't it?

Monday, September 06, 2010

Since we have this monster yard . . .

. . . I bought this monster mower.


Sunday, September 05, 2010

Oops . . .

. . . misquote!

Barry O had a makeover of the oval office. I'm not thrilled with the beige-y colors, but I don't work there.

Someone gave more thought to the colors than the quotes, however. The quote attributed to Martin Luther King was used often by King, but the original staetement was made by Theodore Parker, a 19th century Unitarian minister and abolitionist.

Parker said: "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."

I'm guessing that the rug was designed by the same person who drafted our new National Socialist Helth Plan.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Renters' insurance in Naples . .

. . . sucks swamp water.

It apparently isn't worth a plugged nickel. That's probably because there is more burglary in Naples than anywhere else in Italy. Here's how it works.

You prepare an inventory and submit it to the agent. The inventory requires exact descriptions, down to the model and serial number of televisions, computers and other valuable items. Then, the agent sets a rate. The rate for approximately $30,000 in coverage is about $400 per year.

Here's the catch. They don't pay off. If the entire contents of your house were taken or destroyed, you might hope to collect 10-15% of the underwritten value. That's because they require invoices for everything you own, then depreciate it for use. There apparently is no "full replacement value" policy available in this area.

If you don't have invoices, they make determinations like - "Well, maybe it was a gift, and didn't cost you anything." As if that was relevant. Do you have invoices for everything you own?

No, I haven't had a loss or a burglary. I'm just covering all the bases.

I have found that this is a typical way of doing business in Naples. No one is willing to take responsibility for anything.

If someone rams the rear of the car, and you don't have photos and witnesses, the other driver will show up with ten "witnesses" that will swear on the Madonna that you backed into him.

Not that all this really makes a difference to me. Forewarned and forearmed. Once I know the rules of the game, I can play.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Deep thoughts . . .

. . . not by Jack Handy


Barry O

'I CAN'T SPEND ALL OF MY TIME WITH MY BIRTH CERTIFICATE PLASTERED ON MY FOREHEAD'...
- Barry O

I'm not a "Birther," but if he would just show the real certificate, with all of the data rather than the Hawaii abridged version, he could kill the discussion.

Driving in Italy: Italian drivers have me totally amazed. They dote on their families, but most in this area do not take reasonable care to protect them on the road. I see kids in the back with no seat belts, babies riding on mothers' laps, overcrowded cars, and total ignoring of ALL traffic laws. In five months in Italy, I have yet to see one person stop at a stop sign.

Barry O redux: Barry is scheduled to make a speech about how he ended the war in Iraq. I find that rather duplicitous, since the surge is what made the difference, and he was violently opposed to it. However, nothing about Barry O and his rapid about faces surprises me any more.

Katrina redux: The fifth anniversary of the Katrina disaster just passed. Watching again how badly we reacted brought back the pure fury I felt then. By we, I don't mean Bush. I mean Bush and the federal government, Mary Blanco and the state of Louisiana, Ray Nagin and the city of New Orleans. Any idiot watching the tube could see the dire straights of the residents in the Dome and on the overpass. We have amazing resources, but we couldn't get them out of the barn.

Jimmy Carter redux: Wait . . . that's Barry O. Nevermind.

If you've noticed a marked lack of respect for Barry O, it is intentional. I haven't disliked a president so much since Jimmy Carter. Barry makes Bill Clinton look like a hard-core Republican. I simply cannot wait to see him out of office - hopefully in three years.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Now that we're leaving . . .

. . . here's your bridge back.

Thanks, 3/5

Oorah!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mosque . . .
. . . redux

Earlier, I expressed concerns about the mosque near ground zero. Now, I have more concerns. Again, I do not disagree with the right to build, but rather with the intent.

The developers behind the Islamic center planned for a site near Ground Zero won't rule out accepting financing from the Mideast -- including from Saudi Arabia and Iran -- as they begin searching for $100 million needed to build the project.

When asked if they would then turn to foreign donors, (Oz) Sultan replied, "I can't comment on that."

Pressed on whether the developers were willing to rule out accepting donations from the governments of Saudi Arabia or Iran, he repeated, "I can't comment on that."

While Barry O may be technically correct that he did not overtly support the mosque, he certainly gave that impression by making a rather strong statement at the Iftar dinner. Combine the timing, the location and the audience, and what other conclusion is to be drawn? Couple that with the apparent need to clarify the day after the feces hit the rotary air mover, and it's classic Obama.

Remove foot from mouth. Clarify. Ready, fire, aim.

At least Hamas is on his side.

Vociferous supporters such as New York's Mayor Bloomberg say we should turn the other cheek, be good hosts, and shut up.

Perhaps, but we are running out of cheeks to turn.

On the other hand, maybe the folks who are driving so hard to build this building, regardless of the concerns of a large constituency, should do some introspection themselves.

I say again. Do they have the right? Absollutely. Should they? I say no.

Friday, August 06, 2010

August 6, 1945 . . .

. . . Hiroshima, Japan

This time of the year, various factions in Japan demand apologies, and certain liberal American factions try to force them. I hold both of these groups in the lowest regard.

So did my father, who was on Guam and was otherwise destined for the land invasion of Japan.

So did my cousin, who was rotting as a slave in Japan after surviving Cabanatuan and the Hell Ships.

The events of Palawan, Laha, Banka Island, Bataan, Parit Sulong, Manila, the Burma Railroad, Pearl Harbor, Nanking, Wake Island, Chichi Jima, Camp O'Donnell, and others too numerous to mention, preclude any apologies - ever.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

I have concerns . . .

. . . about the mosque near ground zero.

In preface, I will state that I am sickened by the overt displays of bigotry by some of those opposing this project. However, I am still saddened that the project will most likely proceed as planned.

My concern is not about religion, freedom of speech or human rights. It is about common sense and sensitivity.

Let me draw a parallel. Might we establish a Department of Defense school named after Harry Truman in Hiroshima? That would not be well received. Similarly, we decided not send the Truman, Eisenhower or Roosevelt to Japan when the Kitty Hawk was retired. We sent the Washington, becuse we felt to do otherwise would be insensitive.

How magnanamous would it be for the imam of this congregation to say, "We understand the level of emotion associated with ground zero, and out of respect for those feelings, we will locate our mosque elsewhere."

Instead, there is a legal battle forcing the issue. I do not contest the congregation's right to do so, but which approach would be more likely to engender understanding and respect?