Wednesday, December 28, 2011

U. S. 5th Fleet to Iran . . .

. . . Blocking the Straight may not be in your best interests.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Donald Trump . . .

. . . Ross Perot redux?

Sayeth The Donald:
“Around the middle of May I’ll be able to do whatever I want and I could run as an independent,” Trump said in a web video he record. “If the Republicans pick the wrong person I would, in fact, seriously consider running.”

If Trump runs, he will split the independent and conservative votes and guarantee Obama's re-election.  It's dead certain that Trump won't gain a significant number of Obama voters.

I believe in on person,  one vote - not one person deciding the outcome, and that's exactly what a third party candidate always does.  Perot single-handedly elected Clinton. Trump can do the same for Obama.

Trump and Perot have more ego than common sense.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Green . . .

. . . at ANY cost?

The U.S. Navy was just directed to buy 450,000 gallons of biofuel instead of standard JP-5.  The bio fuel is made from waste cooking oil and algae.

We're all for green, right?

Yes, to an extent. 

But then there's this:

1.  The bio fuel costs $16.00 per gallon, 4 times the cost of standard jet fuel.  This little purchase will cost 7$7.2 million instead of $1.8 million.

2.  Solazyme, the company that is supplying the biofuel uses a refinery that was subsidized with U.S. "stimulus" funds - to the tune of $22 million.

3.  The "strategic advisor" to Solazyme, T. J. Glauthier was on Barry O's transition team.

4.  Glauthier also worked on the energy-sector portion of the 2009 stimulus bill.

5.  There are plans in place to spend $510 million on this fuel over the next three years.  Simple math tells me that is a waste of $382 million.

I understand that we need to transition from fossil fuels.  However, with the world economy in the tank and the U.S. facing an unsustainable debt load, can we afford to pay four times the price for anything? 

I also understand that development of alternatives requires support - but not EVERYTHING needs to be backed up by Uncle Sam. 

Let me put it another way.  Are YOU willing to start spending $16.00 per gallon for gasoline so that this industry can grow?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Will Ferrell . . .

. . . belongs in this group?


Winner of the Mark Twain Prize for comedy?


1998 – Richard Pryor
1999 – Jonathan Winters
2000 – Carl Reiner
2001 – Whoopi Goldberg
2002 – Bob Newhart
2003 – Lily Tomlin
2004 – Lorne Michaels
2005 – Steve Martin
2006 – Neil Simon
2007 – Billy Crystal
2008 – George Carlin
2009 – Bill Cosby
2010 – Tina Fey
Random quote . . .

. . . with more than a little truth.

Blogging isn't writing.  It's graffiti with punctuation.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

When the debate is lost . . .

. . . slander becomes the tool of the loser.

The theory that Republicans - especially white Republicans - oppose Obama only because of his race, and support Cain to prove they are not racists is simply reprehensible.  I expect lickspittles like Bashir and Olbermann to don their cheerleading panties, but I was surprised at Gregory.

One of the things about Herman Cain is, I think that he makes that white Republican base of the party feel okay, feel like they are not racist because they can like this guy.  – Karen Finney, MSNBC Analyst to Martin Bashir, MSNBC host.
White voters support Cain to show they aren't racist. “I think when [members of the Tea Party] can vote for a Herman Cain and hear him say the things that he says they feel like, ‘Well, you know, I can, I support this guy it shows that I’m not racist and I’m supportive.  – Rep. Elijah Cummings, (D) Maryland to "Meet the Press" host David Gregory.
Cain is popular with Republicans because it "hides the racist element" of the party. – Janeane Garafalo, out of work actress to Keith Olbermann, fired MSNBC host.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

On the 99 Percenters:

The 53% Guy presented a rather tough message to the "Take Wall Street" crowd, and a "Confessed Liberal" answered him on "The Daily Kos."  While Confessed is an accomlished debater, and presents some interesting arguments, the end game of his philosophy troubles me.

(In sotto voce:  While I would rather remove my appendix with a dull spoon than provide a link to the Daily Kos, I had no alternative in this case.)

In his argument, Confessed says this:
I want everybody to have healthcare.  I want lazy people to have healthcare.  I want stupid people to have healthcare.  I want drug addicts to have healthcare.  I want bums who refuse to work even when given the opportunity to have healthcare.  I’m willing to pay for that with my taxes, because I want to live in a society where it doesn’t matter how much of a loser you are, if you need medical care you can get it.
On the surface, I agree with a part of this argument.  However, I disagree in the strongest terms to the slippery slope leading to the endgame - pure Marxism.

Perhaps “Confessed” would prefer this: Every employer transfers all employee salary to the Federal government. The ENTIRE payroll. 100%. Then we trust the government to dole it out according to who “deserves” it. Drug addicts, criminals, the “lazy bums” he describes. Everyone.

That sounds extreme, but it is simply a logical extension of the model he embraces. The test of “Confessed's"  philosophy is whether  or not he would agree to that model – especially with his salary.

How about it, "Confessed?"  Are you willing to ante up in toto?  Are you willing to go all in? 

I doubt it.

Monday, October 24, 2011

For Brennig . . .

Yeah, I know they're French, not British, but it's a mind calming couple of minutes.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Ethics . . .

. . . and morals

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Those who make statements like this one in order to feed the news outlets have neither.  Unless there is a legitimate legal or moral principle involved, these people are nothing more traitors to their employer.

The true translation of that statement is: "If my boss heard about this, I would be fired."

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Atten . . . HUT!

. . . Hand . . . SALUTE!

Our television watching here is limited to the Armed Forces Network. Since nothing much was on, I watched the changing of command for the Commander, Joint Chiefs of Staff. As you might expect, the ceremony for the highest ranking member of the United States Armed Forces is pretty spectacular. However, when all of the flags passed in review, all of the military on the reviewing stand rendered a proper salute. The civilians did also by holding their hands over their hearts. All but one, that is. Guess who. (Hint: he's from Chicago)


Yeah, I know.  I'm on a single track lately, but with 2012 coming up, I have simply had enough of this empty suit and his minions. 

Up. To. Here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

On an AFN "commercial" Lt. Gen. Mark P. Hertling, Commanding General of U.S. Army Europe, reflected on the fact that his father flew a B-27 during the 2nd World War. 

Nevermind that there never was a B-27.  We had the B-17 Flying Fortress, B-24 Liberator, B-25 Mitchell, B-26 Martin Marauder and B-29 Superfortress.

Forgotten lines or sloppy script writer?
From Fox News:
A group of corporate and labor leaders advising President Obama is calling for sweeping and urgent changes in government policies, from liberalized immigration and less restrictive regulations to a more business friendly tax system and greater spending on infrastructure.
Of course, the goal of this is to provide some type of stimulus to our faltering economy.

Less restrictive regulations?  Definitely, but diametrically opposed to Barry's desire for government to control all.  After all, the government is vastly smarter than we are - at least in Barry's world.

More business friendly tax system?  Of course, but contrary to Barry's general philosophy of soak the rich, soak those bad corporations, and bring down Wall Street.

Greater spending on infrastructure?  Sure.  We need it, but can we afford it?

But how does liberalized immigration help mitigate the problem of one million unemployed construction workers?

In Brad Thor's new book, "Full Black," he repeats an observation of undetermined parentage: "A democracy can exist only until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury."

Sadly, we seem to be travellers on that path.

Monday, October 10, 2011

News . . .

. . . flash

Al-Qaeda joins those questioning legality of U.S. killing of citizen Anwar al-Awlaki

Question away.  In the meantime, keep looking up.
Governor Moonbeam . . .

. . . strikes again.
California Governor Jerry Brown on Saturday signed a bill giving illegal immigrant college students access to state-funded financial aid, the second half of two-part legislation known as the "Dream Act."
The oft-used "we're a nation of immigrants" argument is irrelevant here.

 Yes, we're a nation of immigrants.  I am not a Native American.  However, my ancestors - all of them, as I can best determine - entered this country legally.

The word "illegal" has a meaning.  It means we should be compassionate.  It does NOT mean that we should offer up the keys to the homestead to everyone who sneaks in the back door.

And we wonder why we're going broke?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Another one . . .

. . . bites the dust.

Anwar al-Awlaki was (apparently) reduced to pig food this morning.

Of course, he's been "killed" before, according to the Yemeni news.

I suspect that this time it's real.

Poke the bear at your own risk.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

There are surveys . . .

. . . then, there are things like this:

Interesting way to form a question, don't you think?
YOU NEED NOT HAVE PERSONALLY SEEN OR EXPERIENCED THE ACTIONS. During your last 30 workdays at your duty location what do you estimate the chance that the action below COULD have happened?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Divine right . . .

. . . of presidents?

It appears that is what King Barry wants.
"As I mentioned when I was at La Raza a few weeks back, I wish I had a magic wand and could make this all happen on my own," Obama told a meeting of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. "There are times where -- until Nancy Pelosi is speaker again -- I'd like to work my way around Congress."
Unfortunately, your Organizership, that is essentially the same reason we rid ourselves of Mad King Georgie.  However, your revolution will be that of the pen, not that of the sword.

You said you would rather be a good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president.  Neither is likely.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

To the nineteen:

You learned ten years ago this day that the paradise you sought was a lie cut from whole cloth. It was not Jibraaiyl that welcomed you to the gates, but a humble boatman named Charon waiting to ferry you across the river Styx. His master had no virgins waiting for you, no tables set with milk and honey, no robes of silk or palaces of gold. The Prophet has abandoned and damned you. You are now in the domain of Maalik, guardian of hellfire, where you will remain forever. I wish you no peace.
From Paul Krugman . . .

. . . in the New York Times
What happened after 9/11 — and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not — was deeply shameful. Te atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons.

A lot of other people behaved badly. How many of our professional pundits — people who should have understood very well what was happening — took the easy way out, turning a blind eye to the corruption and lending their support to the hijacking of the atrocity?

The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And in its heart, the nation knows it.

I’m not going to allow comments on this post, for obvious reasons.
Mr. Krugman, the only thing shameful about 9-11 is that string of poisonous tripe quoted above.  And you're too cowardly to allow comments.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

By the way Osama, we're still here,
and you're dead.
Karma STILL sucks, eh?

Barry's . . .

. . . jobs program

Estimated cost: $450,000,000,000

Jobs created: $1,900,000

Cost per job: $236,842

Which we should spend because we have so much money in the treasury?

Barry should be counting dollars, not votes.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Isn't he buried . . .

. . . under Yankee Stadium?

Maybe not.  Wrong Hoffa.
Cranking up the anti-Tea Party rhetoric, Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa called on workers to "take these son-of-a-bitches out" as he warmed up a crowd Monday in Detroit ahead of President Obama's Labor Day speech.
Jimmy, me boyo, who is taken out may not be to your liking.

Oh, and the proper plural is "sons of bitches.

Your chance for a place in the hall of mental giants is looking dim.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

A cyber-friend of mine had to take custody of his two granddauters ( 3 and 4) because of the mother's mistreatment.  The mother was divorced, but shared custody of the girls.  One of the little girls ended up in the hospital showing bruising and malnutrition.  My friend, his wife and their son intervened and gained custody of the girls.  My friend posted the following:

We had a lot of "moments" during the last week, but a couple last night when we had both girls safely with us at a motel in [redacted] really brought up evidence of what condition and how much healing time it's going to take.... [redacted], the older girl, was sitting on Grandma's lap last night and asked Grandma if she had food in her house. Grandma assured her she had food, the [redacted] asked what Grandma was going to do when the food was gone and Grandma of course told her she'd go to the store and get more..... Then [redacted] asked if this meant here and "Sissy" would get to eat every day!!!!!  Kind of a real eye opener on just how tough these two little angels have had things when they're not even sure there is going to be food for them to eat....and on the way home one of our stops was at McDonalds (of course) for some lunch. [redacted] sat across the table from [redacted] when we were eating and her first question was if all this food (Cheeseburger, fries, and milk) was just for her....and could she eat it all now or did she have to save some of it for tomorrow!!!! A child not yet 3 years old should never have to worry about when their next meal is coming!!!!
A good ending, but heart-rending to read.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Poor Barry . . .

. . . when can he talk?

September 7?

Sure, why not?

Uhhh . . . we didn't know it was opposite the Republican debate. 

Well, let's move it to the next day.

You mean it's opposite the NFL opener?  Who knew?

Object lesson to Barry and staff:  Stupidity is not an excuse for incompetence.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

"When the debate is lost . . .
. . . slander becomes the tool of the loser."

"The interesting question is: What is it about this president that has stripped away the veneer of respect that normally accompanies the Office of the President? Why do Republicans think this president is unpresidential and should dare to request this kind of thing? It strikes me that it could be the economic times, it could be that he won so big in 2008 or it could be, let's face it, the color of his skin. This is an extraordinary reaction to a normal sequence of events," MSNBC contributor Richard Wolffe said on "The Last Word."
Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.), the CBC whip, told attendees at a recent CBC jobs event that Tea Party lawmakers "would love to see you and me ... hanging on a tree."

Point made, I believe, without further evidence.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Naples has a couple of problems . . .

. . . one is trash.

The Camorrah can't seem to get their act together.  This is where I have to go to dump my household trash.  Thankfully, it's a few miles from where we live.  This view isn't all of it.  I'm parked near the middle.

This is looking forward.

 This is looking to the rear.

Oh, and those "ladies" back there.  They are not working for the trash hauler.  That's their appointed spot to work, if you get my drift.  In the old west, they called them "soiled doves."  Working out of a dump site gives new meaning to the term.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Gino . . .

. . . died yesterday in his sleep.  He was only 50.

Last Wednesday, my commander and I visited Gino and his family in the hospital.  That night, his heart stopped for 30 seconds.  He died peacefully in his sleep Saturday evening.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Protest . . .

. . . not me.

Sixty-six years ago, the United States rained hell on Hiroshima.  People argue about the necessity of the atomic bomb, and the horrible effect on the civilian population.  Unfortunately, the citizen populations of most of the countries in the world were already affected, and none were more responsible for those atrocities than the Japanese Empire.  The good Book says something abut sowing and reaping, and this was the crop they gathered.

Activists will mark the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, Japan with a protest near Vandenberg Air Force Base's main gate today.  Approximately two dozen people will gather about 1 p.m. in front of the base.

Let them gather.  Their right to do so was in no small way guaranteed by that event on August 6, 1945.  I will ignore the protests, as I always do, and I will post this photo every year on this day as long as I can punch a keyboard.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Gino . . .

. . . is back in intensive care. 

Damage from the heart attack was severe, and his heart is operating at about 20%.  His blood oxygen level is depressed, and he has fluid in his lungs. He also may have also had either a stroke or blood deprivation to his brain.

It does not look good.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Hello, George . . .

. . . Orwell, that is

Under the guise of protection, a House committee has approved the “Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011.”

Internet providers would be forced to keep logs of their customers' activities for one year--in case police want to review them in the future--under legislation that a U.S. House of Representatives committee approved today.

A last-minute rewrite of the bill expands the information that commercial Internet providers are required to store to include customers' names, addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and temporarily-assigned IP addresses, some committee members suggested. By a 7-16 vote, the panel rejected an amendment that would have clarified that only IP addresses must be stored.

Apparently, the title was chosen specifically to discourage opposition.  After all, who could vote against a bill with THAT title?

Of course, all data will be securely protected so that it cannot be used for untoward purposes.


What are we becoming?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Catharsis . . .

One of my employees at the Naval Base, an Italian national named Gino, had a serious heart attack on Saturday.  He has had surgery, and is still in intensive care.  While I don't have all the details, he may have suffered major heart damage as a result of the attack.

Last week, he complained of pains in his left arm and shoulder, and we begged him to go to the hospital.  He went, but the the ER ran a cardiogram, said nothing was wrong, and sent him home the same night.  Three days later, he was rushed to the hospital.

Gino is a sincere, smart and thoughtful human being, and a joy to work with.  He also has one of the wryest senses of humor on the planet.  In less than a year, he has become one of my best friends in Italy. 

He lives in San Giorgio a Cremano, near the slopes of Vesuvius.  We can see the volcano from our office, and Gino and I have been kidding each other that if Monte Vesuvio erupts, someone will eventually see us in a museum like those plaster casts in Pompeii.  That may sound a little dark and strange, but that's Gino's sense of humor. 

No one who reads this will know Gino, so the real reason I'm writing this is explained by the first word above.  I had to put my words down on paper - so to speak.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Unfortunate . . .

. . . juxtaposition

BBC news has announced that, "Singer Amy Winehouse, 27, has been found dead at her north London home."

The sidebar on the same page says, "Winehouse comeback tour cancelled."

I am not making light of Ms. Winehouse's misfortune.  She had a unique talent that the world will be poorer for losing. 

My point is, that in this age of instant information, publishers should pay a bit more attention to proofing their work.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Italian . . .

. . . next door

Has taken to sunbathing senza vestiti.  Sans vêtements.  Utan kläder. A cappella. 

Make that bare ass, dick-out, buck nekkid.

It is not a pretty sight.  

All the villas here have high walls, so I normally wouldn't have a problem.  But, the only balcony that we use overlooks the area where he likes to plop on the chaise and let it all hang out.
I don't need that while cooking dinner.

Monday, July 18, 2011

In another place . . .

. . . in another life,

I chose what I thought was a truly impressive, masculine and appropriate walpaper for my den.

I labored under that misconception until, while driving through a much seedier part of town, Mrs. B pointed to the second floor of a massage parlor under demolition.

Need I go on . . . ?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

QVC cancels . . .

. . . Jane Fonda book promotion

Some life choices are not easily forgotten.  Sitting on the enemy's anti-aircraft battery with a soulful countenance just may be one of those choices.

Fair?  Maybe, maybe not.

But, after the dance, the piper must be paid.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

 Un . . .

. . . believable

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) used the race card this afternoon to assess blame in the debt ceiling fight. Jackson Lee, a black Congresswoman, believes the disagreement over raising the debt ceiling is because of President Obama's race.

 "I am particularly sensitive to the fact that only this president, only this president, only this one has received the kind attacks and disagreements and inability to work. Only this one," Jackson Lee said on the House floor this afternoon.  (Real Clear Politics)
Yep, he's the only one who met consistent, withering criticism - other than G.W.Bush, Bill Clinton, G.H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter . . . ad nauseum.

I guess they were all black also.

I didn't know.

What POSSIBLE other reason could there be? 
[subliminal] policy [/subliminal]

Other than race, that is. 
[subliminal] agenda [/subliminal]

I don't deny that there is racisim in America.  There is racism everywhere.  However, using it as a crutch for every perceived injustice is simply ignorant.

Lord, deliver me from ignorance, for it makes my brain hurt.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Beautiful view . . .

. . . isn't it?

Monte Vesuvio

From a Sorrento patio at night, Monte Vesuvio (Vesuvius) is certainly a captivating sight.   It also appears very benign. 

It's not.

The most famous eruption, which destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum was almost 2,000 years ago - 79 AD.   However, the most recent was in March, 1944, and destroyed three villiages - San Sebastiano al Vesuvio, Massa di Somma and Ottaviano.  San Georgio a Cremano was also partially destroyed.

An Italian coworker and friend lives in San Georgio, which is still a thriving, growing community - notwithstanding the obvious risk.  I guess the time lapse of a generation tempers memories.

Vesuvio is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world, because of the long delay since the last cataclysmic eruption and the 3,000,000 nearby residents.

Counting Mrs. B and me, make that 3,000,002.

With only 20 months to go in Italy, perhaps we will escape, and not look like this:

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

This is . . .

. . . the mindset we're dealing with
Killing Osama bin Laden also contributed to the Arab world’s negative views of Obama. In all six countries surveyed – Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon, Jordan, the UAE and Saudi Arabia – the majority of respondents said killing bin Laden made them “less favorable toward the U.S.” Notably, in Egypt, only 2 percent said the al Qaeda leader’s death made them view America more positively.

Notwithstanding the Quran's admonition about taking the lives of innocents, in this mindset, the killing of a mass murderer weighs heavier on the scales of justice than the slaughter of 3,000 of those innocents.

There will not be peace in my lifetime.

And, maybe not in many, many lifetimes.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

More on Casey Anthony.

This is reprehensible.

One juror has quit her job, and is moving from Florida in fear for her life.

Is this the way good citizens who used six weeks of their life on a demonstrably unpleasant task should be treated?

Do your civic duty, then get lynched?


Friday, July 08, 2011

On Casey Anthony

Innocent and not guilty are two different concepts. Without cause of death and direct forensic evidence, the prosecutors put forth a lot of circumstantial theories. I watched quite a bit, and I don’t think they made the case. The jury had to decide based on the evidence, not how unlikeable Anthony was.

Personally, I cannot understand how someone could go a month without notifying the authorities, or even worse, hit the party circuit. But, there are all kinds of reactions to stressful situations.  I do not like Casey Anthony, and I am certainly not alone.  However, my personal dislike does not invoke the death penalty.

Unfortunately, the press – Nancy Grace, in particular – made the trial into both a personal quest and a ratings bonanza. I found that extremely disgusting. I also think that the roving crowds of outraged citizens need to quit taking justice in their own hands, and put some faith – or at least respect – in our jury system. 
Maybe she’s guilty. Maybe not. In any case, the decision is made, and we cannot change it. Further, we are not above the law.   Are we to go out with torches and pitchforks whenever we disagree with a jury verdict?

I used to believe that all trials needed to be in the public eye.  With the sad state of the press today, I'm slowly changing that belief.  Several talking heads, including Nancy Grace, spent months, if not years, working to convict her on the air.  While we celebrate our freedom of the press, perhaps we should not feed it raw meat.

Someone said that the strength of our legal system is not in how we treat the best of us, but rather in how we treat the worst of us.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Maximizing . . .
. . . profit?
I can't argue with the concept.  Companies exist to make money.  However, shouldn't patrons be offered the whole schedule of choices?
When I searched for a certain book on Amazon, these were the first two options:
- The Gold Coast by  Nelson DeMille  (Paperback - Apr 1, 1999) Buy new: $14.99 $10.19

- The Gold Coast by Nelson DeMille (Kindle Edition - Apr 1, 2001) Buy: $7.99

This option was buried in small print in about 20th position:

- The Gold Coast by Nelson DeMille  (Mass Market Paperback) Buy: $7.99

Fair, I guess, but more than a bit deceptive.  I liken it to the grocer putting the bargains at the back of the shop in hopes they won't be discovered.

Friday, July 01, 2011

5.5 . . .

. . . or 1.5?
I know there are some of you who are frustrated because we haven't gotten everything done that we said we were going to do in two and a half years. It's only been two and a half years. I got five and a half years more to go.
- Barry O in Philadelphia

I think Barry is being a bit presumptious.

I do have to admit that he got a lot done.  Unfortunately, most of it was wrong.

I'm hoping for Carter redux.

At least, I can hope, can't I?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Rookie driver . . .

. . . in Italy

Son #1 and family spent four days with us starting on 24 JUN. On 28 JUN, they left for Civitivecchia (Port of Rome) to return the rental car and start a Mediterranean cruise. He had me as navigator while driving around Naples, but this was his first attempt without a co-pilot.

Results follow. 
We are on the ship and at sea. No problems getting to the port city...finding way around the port is another issue. All Italian signs. Had to hire a cab for 45E to take us to the ship after getting lost and forced out of town with no turn around due to median, then every intersection had a roundabout with four choices and a GPS that couldn't keep up. It was an adventure.

No surprise there.  No signs.  Signs in Italian (tough for a Texan).  Roundabouts.  Typical crappy GPS maps.

Photos of some of the touristy wanderings to follow. (He has them all on his computer, so it will be a couple of weeks before I see any.)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

It was . . .

. . . a dark and stormy night.

Well, not really.

That's just an illustration of the type of prose in a book that I'm trying to read, and I may not succeed.

In the space of one page, I have read:

I could carry on his war against the old-money snobbery of this town that for years had dulled the lacquer of his magnificent achievement.
. . . and so stepped back in time, my childhood around me like broken glass.
I saw it all, unyellowed by time; then I blinked and it was gone, ashes in a sudden wind.
I am in simile/metaphor hell.

I may not survive.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Extra . . .

. . . baggage

Stars and Stripes, June 8

Two U.S. soldiers returning from a deployment in Afghanistan said Delta Air Lines charged them $200 each for extra bags for their connecting flight from Baltimore to Atlanta.

While on board Delta Air Lines flight 1625 Tuesday morning, Staff Sgts. Fred Hilliker and Robert O’Hair shot a video laying out their case. In the video, which was posted on YouTube, the soldiers say they are authorized to check as many as four bags, free of charge, on their return trip from Afghanistan

Filming while in their seats, Hilliker opens the video by saying he and the other 33 members of his unit were told in Baltimore that they were only authorized to check three bags for free.
The knee-jerk reaction is that nasty, unpatriotic Delta Airlines is ripping off our soldiers returning from a war zone.

Not so.

The soldiers are travelling on official orders that allow them to transport FOUR bags.  Delta has a contract with Uncle Sammy to transport up to THREE bags at no cost.

So, what about the fourth bag?

Since the soldiers have official orders, they will be reimbursed for the fourth bag when they file their travel vouchers - along with any other miscellaneous expenses such as food and lodging.  In fact, if they are on per diem, it is possible for them to recover a few more dollars than they actually spent.

A staff sargeant (E6) in the U. S. Army would have travelled on official orders more than once, and would know this.  If there is a problem (and I say if), it was created by the Department of Defense, not Delta. 

Stars and Stripes should have printed the full story, and these two sargeants should have known better.

Not that I'm a fan of Delta Airlines, mind you.  They are far from a gold class company.


Although Delta was following its contract with the government, the hue and cry from the viral Youtube video resulted in a change in policy.  Now, any soldier can travel with four bags at no added cost.

OK, now I'm waiting for the next uproar when someone has five bags. 

Or six.
Traveler's . . .

. . . diary

Notes on a 6,000 mile flight.  Three flights, actually.  Naples to Rome to Atlanta to Dallas. 

Nine hours is a long time to sit on your arse.  Especially when the person in the row behind you is a blithering idiot, and proves it continuously and at high volume.

For the first time in a long, long time, I asked another passenger to STFU.  During a rather long delay on the ground due to an oil spill, a young lady (and I use the term lady very loosely) was seated next to an American priest currently assigned to Rome.  She took the first 15 minutes, non-stop, explaining to the priest how her whole family was Irish Catholic, but her mother converted to Judaism, so she was raised a Jew.  No problem there, except for the fact that it took 15 minutes to make that point.  And, she made the point loud enough for everyone for three rows in any direction to hear.

She then started discussing theology with the priest.  At least, as much theology as one learns in veterinary school.  Another 20 minutes.  Among the clever questions she asked of the priest was, "If Jesus arose from the dead, doesn't that make him a zombie?"  That was closely followed by, "Then, at the end of days, when everyone arises from the dead, won't the whole world be populated by zombies?"  Then, "That won't be good for anyone who is left.  The zombies will be trying to eat them."

You simply CANNOT make that shit up.  Apparently, she studied the George Romero edition of the New Testament.

I refuse to replay her understanding of the Trinity.  You wouldn't believe it in any case.

By this time, my alternatives seemed to be either saintly patience or aggravated assault.  Straining to be a gentleman, however, I said, "Miss, I have been trying very hard not to eavesdrop on your conversation, but it's not working.  Could you please lower the volume?"

She looked at me like I just hit her with a brick.

That was entirely satisfactory.  I can live with a virtual brick.  She did shut up.

Two of the folks in the row in front of us turned around and mouthed the words "Thank you!"

I thought I heard a sigh of relief from the priest.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Who holds . . .

. . . the moral high ground?

John Edwards is resisting a plea bargain that would reduce possible jail time, but would obviously result in the revocation of his license to practice law.  This is "according to people with knowledge of the negotiations who spoke on a condition of anonymity because they are supposed to be private."

We know about Edwards, obvously.  The infidelity during his wife's illness.  Encouraging someone else to take responsibility for the child.  Payoffs.  Coverups. 

No argument there.  There are anthills higher than Edwards' moral high ground.

But what of the twats who hide behind anonymity to divulge private matters? 

And, what of the reporters who rely on them?

To answer my original question - none of the above.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day 2011

Italy or not, this day my home is American soil.

Miscellanea . . .

. . . and minutia

Q and A:  How do you recognize a parking spot for the disabled in Italy?   Easy.  There is an able-bodied Italian parking there, and another waiting for the spot when he leaves.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The mouse . . .

. . . turned tail

Shortly after the shameful attempt to profit from the exploits of brave men by copyrighting "Seal Team Six" for shoes, games, hats and entertainment, and with only minimal pressure from the U.S. Navy, the Disney Company has struck it's colors.   The twats have now been given their dishonorable discharge.  Well deserved, that. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Gates . . .

. . . and walls

Unemployment is very high in Italy in general and Naples in particular.  Europe's open borders are also gateways from contries with even more severe conditions.

The result?  Lots and lots of petty - and not so petty - crime. 

Burglary seems to be the second national sport behind football.  A couple of months ago, two houses less than 200 meters from us had attempted break-ins.  In both, the miscreants made it into the yard, but were unable to enter the houses. 

The response? Alarms and fortifications.  Walls and gates.  The gates range from primitive to decorative.  Electrical, mechanical and manual.  The walls range from modern stonework to medieval bulwarks.  The photos below were taken within ten-minutes walk from our house.

We're well alarmed and well fortified, but it's a bit sad that these precautions are necessary.  What's even sadder is that we're not allowed to cudgel the living bejesus out of anyone we find wandering around in our living room.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Millions believe it . . .

. . . so, why not admit it?

Ok, ok, I KNOW it's not politically correct.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

  I cannot . . .

. . . be trained

My computer at work automatically resets the Num Lock key to "off" every time it reboots.

Every night.

In order to log in every morning with a key card and a PIN, I need to turn the Num Lock back on.

Every morning.

I always forget.

Every morning.

And have done so for one year, two weeks and six days.

Tomorrow, this shall change.

I would change the startup up to activate Num Lock automatically, but I cannot.  Uncle Sammy won't allow it.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Opportunist . . .

. . . vultures

In a shameless display of greed, the Disney Company has applied for a trademark on "Seal Team Six."

And it only took them two days after the raid on Abbottabad.

The applications cover toys, games and playthings; gymnastic and sporting articles (except clothing); hand-held units for playing electronic games other than those adapted for use with an external display screen or monitor; Christmas stockings; Christmas tree ornaments and decorations; snow globes; clothing; footwear; headwear and entertainment services.

Disney has attempted to reserve the right to squeeze a dollar from just about anything  these brave men have done over their entire history as Seals in the U. S. Navy.

Because the Navy did not use the name in commerce, and because Seal Team Six is no longer the official name of the team, the money-grubbing bastards at Disney will probably succeed.

What next?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Anyone have a copy . . .

. . . 0f 1984?

I need to read it again to find out what our all-knowing, all-powerful government is going to do next.


We are soon to have a PLAN.  A Personal  Localized Area Network required on all of our cell phones.


Because the government needs to text information to us in case of . . . well, whatever they think is important. 

Said messages include Amber alerts about missing children, information about imminent threats, and (the topper) urgent messages from the president.  These messages will supersede ALL other traffic to prevent delay.  And, they will be broadcast to ALL cell phones in an area regardless of carrier or home location.

The system will be operational in New York City and Washington D.C. by year's end.  The rest of us are not far behind.

We can opt out of all of these messages.  Well, except for messages from the president.  Those cannot be blocked.

"Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they they have rebelled they cannot become conscious."
- George Orwell, 1984, Book 1, Chapter 7

Monday, May 09, 2011

Bush . . .

. . . Doctrine

When Charlie Gibson ambushed Sarah Palin with HIS understanding of the Bush Doctrine, he had no idea what he was talking about.

Succinctly, it is this:

1. If a country harbors terrorists, it will be considered a terrorist nation.
2. The U.S. reserves the right to preemptive strikes to prevent terrorist acts.
3. The U.S. reserves the right to unilateral action to prevent terrorist acts against its interests.
4. Democracy around the world will be supported.

Barry O apparently understands it perfectly.

Abbottabad, anyone?
Never bring a knife . . .

. . . to a cat fight *

A Cleveland (Texas) man was attacked by a housecat Friday. His afternoon injuries were so severe that he had to be taken by air ambulance to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston.

At some point during the attack, the man and the cat reportedly were injured by a knife the man was holding. The cat was taken to Big Thicket Animal Hospital for examination.

The man's identity is unknown at this time.

* Disclaimer: Although that was my first thought when reading the story, someone beat me to it in print.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Eh . . .

. . . wot?

I know that hats are de regueur at Brit weddings, but when did a hat change from something you wear on your head to something you glue to your forehead?

Unfu**ing . . .

. . . believable

To put a third eye in bin Laden, Barry used intel started by a president whom he vilified, from a place he wanted closed, and gained by using methods he called criminal. Then, he executed with teams that Bubba decimated with cost cuts, was too timid to use, and claimed he lacked the authority to prosecute.  

How are the photos of bin Laden more inflammatory than the 2,000+ he wanted to post from Abu Ghraib?

Oh, and he's willing to publish photos of military coffins arriving home, but not a picture of the architect of 9/11? 

Beyond that, when explaining the raid, his team had about as much discipline as the Three Stooges in a pie fight.

To those who say that Barry did what President Bush could not, think on this.  If Bush had not revitalized the Special Ops forces and established his anti-terrorism doctrine, Barry could not have succeeded.  And, if Bubba had done his job, neither President Bush or Barry would have had to worry about bin Laden.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Without Comment . . .

Monday, April 25, 2011

An elevating start . . .

. . . to my week

Or not.

I leave for work at about 5:45 a.m., and arrive around 6:15.  On most days, there are only a couple of people in the building at that time.

Usually, I use the stairs - exercise, and all that.  Today I was a bit tired because of a big Easter weekend and decided to take the elevator.

It's only one floor, but in the middle of the ride, the elevator lurched, bounced, than ground to a halt.  So, here I am in a stalled elevator.  The building is virtually empty, and all the local Italian employees are on holiday.  And no bars on my cell phone.

Not to worry.  There's a call button - which, luckily, connects directly to base security.  It took a while for security to understand who I was and where I was stuck. 

Guessing it would take a while for the cavalry to arrive, I had just started to sit in the corner with a good book when the doors started to open. 

Special tools?  Electronics?  No.  Just three burly Italians prying the doors open with their bare hands.

It turned out the elevator stalled just four inches from my floor.

No harm, no foul.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

There's no point . . .

. . . to this video

Except to show you what we have to put up with almost every waking hour. 

I understand why the Italians keep dogs.  There is quite a bit of crime here, and a dog provides some warning.  But what is the worth of the warning if it never stops?

Our American neighbors have their dogs socialized, and they only bark when someone strange comes to the gate.  Our Italian neighbors next door and down the street just let them howl.  Luckily they are fairly quiet at night.

Graphical . . .

. . . math

Nature by Numbers from Cristóbal Vila on Vimeo.

Vir 'o mare quant’è bello . . .

. . . Ispira tantu sentimento

Don't try to translate this one.  It's in Napolitano, which even most Italians can't understand.  You might recognize the Dean Martin version, though.  He sings it in Italiano.

Friday night, we decided to drive to Sorrento the next morning for pizza.  I know, there are many more exciting things to eat here than pizza, but Sorrento has Da Gigino Pizza a Metro (pizza by the meter). 

Yes, you can buy a pizza two meters (6.54 feet) long.

We didn't.  We opted for the plate-sized pizza - about 12" in diameter.

The pizza was OK.  Better than anything we ever had in the States, but not as good as the restaurant in Ravello. 

After lunch, we decided to drive around the Amalfi coast through Positano, Praino, Amalfi, Minori and Maiori, then over the mountains back to Napoli.

I didn't take many photos because the traffic was very heavy, and there was almost nowhere to pull over.  For about 20 kilometers in the Amalfi area, every inch of the right side of the road was nose to tail with cars.  That left a lane-and-a-half for two lanes of traffic, including the occasional tour bus.

Then, there were the Italians who decided to stop in the middle of the road to shop or chat or even park for 10 or 15 minuts.  Couple that with Ms. Garmin losing her mind now and then, a large funeral and the Easter weekend festivities, we averaged about 25 miles per hour.

With the views of the Amalfi coast, however, who cares?

An overlook in Vico Equense northeast of Sorrento.

Cliffs outside Sorrento with Vesuvio in the background.

An ancient stairway cut into the cliffside. 

Vico Equense 

Italian builders are not afraid of any project.

Sorrento lemon, anyone?
(Update.  Not a lemon, but rather a citron - and useless)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Posted . . .

. . . a bit late

But on April 3, Mrs. B and I drove to Vomero to tour the Certosa di San Martino.

The Carthusian order, or order of St. Bruno of Cologne, was founded in 1038. The Carthusians did not follow the rules of the Order of St. Benedict (Benedictines), but rather had their own rules called Statutes. This particular monestary, or more properly hermitage, was built in 1368 and dedicated to St. Martin of Tours (316 - 397 AD).

The drive was interesting, primarily because it was through the downtown streets of old naples to the top of Vomero hill.

It was made interesting because my guide, the sometimes reliable Ms. Garmin, was off her game that day. She kept telling me to turn AFTER I entered an intersection rather than before. Between Ms. Garmin calling the wrong turns and the transit strike filling Napoli with thousands of extra cars and scooters, the drive took longer than the tour of the monastery.

The Carthusians, who spent most of their time in their cells writing and praying, were noted for their patience and craftsmanshop.

I believe the photographs below bear that out.

The altar and surrounding room are crafted mostly from marble, with inlays and joinery that would baffle a master woodworker. The patience necessary to work marble with this amount of precision is incomprehensible to me.

What appears to be a quiet garden in the cloister is a burial ground for the monks. True to their ascetic lifestile, there are no grave markers. The carved stone skulls on the surrounding wall are a reminder of its real purpose.

Another view of the altar showing the frescoes and giltwork in the vaulted ceiling.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

I have abandoned my normal format today because I have no Idea how to structure it for this entry.

The ribbon above represents the Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Award, the highest civilian award given by the DoD. OK, OK, stand down. It's not mine, and it's not in my future, but there is a story here.

When I arrived at work on Monday, there was an email in my inbox from the Region office reccomending that I be nominated for the award. The email was also endorsed by my boss.

While I was extremely flattered, I declined.


Simple. I just don't fit the criteria. I'm not being modest. I understand the criteria perfectly, and I am not qualified for this award. It's not worth the pain of filling out the referral.

Especially since I would have to write it myself.

I have projects to finish. Projects that may help a sailor or a Marine have a better day. In the cosmic scheme of things, that's more important than plodding through three pages of government-speak on a standard government form according to a standard government instruction.

The thought was appreciated, however.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

There's always . . .
. . . an angle

In Italy, DoD employees purchase gasoline coupons which are redeemed at Agip stations, and no cash exchanges hands. The coupons exempt us from the very heavy Italian tax. With the coupon, gasoline costs me about $3.75/gallon. Italians pay about $8.30/gallon.

I won't argue whether this is fair or not, only that the cost of living is much higher here, and DoD employees who volunteer for overseas work are allowed some compensation for doing so.

So, some of the service station attendants have figured out a way to make a quick profit. Here's the conversation from my gas purchase today, after I handed him coupons for 40 liters.

Him: (Seeing another full coupon book in my hand,) Change?

Me: Non capisco. (I don't understand.) I thought he was asking for a tip.

Him: Do euro, dai cedole. (I give Euro, you give coupon.)

Me: No grazie.

Him: (Writing €250 on the back of the coupon book,) Offerta. (Offer.)

Me: (Doing quick math and realizing that he is offering more than $350 for coupons that cost me $200,) Ho detto no! (I said no!)

Him: Perche? (Why?)

Me: Perche non è legale e perderò il mio lavoro. (Because it is illegal, and I will lose my job.)

Him: Shrugs, smiles and walks away. He thought it was worth a try.

Why would I decline a quick profit?

First, it's not ethical.

Second, it's a waste of taxpayer money. Our government shells out money for gasoline that was never purchased.

Finaly, it's a serious crime. I could be fired, prosecuted under U.S. law, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Italian law - and probably the code of Hammurabi, sharia, and Newton's third law of motion.

This choice was simple for me, but I worry about some low ranking sailor being tempted and losing his career for a few dollars.


By the way, did you pick out the use of first person, proximate past and first person, simple future tenses? Not bad for un straniero (a foreigner), eh?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Rules of the road . . .
. . . as interpreted by Italians

The highways are built for MY convenience. You are obviously here only to annoy me and slow me down.

I don’t use my direction indicators because it is up to you to determine MY intentions.

MY job is to go as fast as I want. Your job is to get out of the way.

MY need for your lane overrides your right to use it.

My failure to notice that MY lane ends requires you to move over.

MY need to park in the street in order to chat with mi amico is superior to your need to use it as a traffic lane.

My headlights are on high beam because I can see better that way. You can squint.

I am going 40 kph under the speed limit becaue I need to make a phone call. Go around when you can.

I have the right-of-way when I am on your right . . . or on your left.

Handicap parking spaces are for ME - if I get there first.
Stupid is . . .
. . . as stupid does

- Forrest Gump, 1994

Barry O and his minions want to spend $556 billion over the next six years on transportation, but don’t have the money. Comes now Sen. Kent Conrad (a Democrat, of course) suggesting the “practical option” of taxing drivers based on the miles they drive.

Once considered infeasible, we now have electronic metering and billing on electricity, natural gas, mobile phone usage – and about anything else that can be attached to a transponder.

The Congressional Budget Office says that it is now possible to install equipment, either original equipment or retrofit, that can track mileage and report it to fixed infrastructure.

Then, presumably to the tax man.

Kenny Conrad is giddy with excitement.

Sayeth Kenny, "Do we move to some kind of an assessment that is based on how many miles vehicles go, so that we capture revenue from those who are going to be using the roads who aren't going to be paying any gas tax, or very little, with hybrids and electric cars?"

If this prelude hasn’t painted a picture of stupidity in action, then either my words are lacking or you aren’t paying attention.

Consider the duplicity of a government that invokes standards to require vehicles to have improved gas mileage, and then increases your taxes because those same standards reduced its revenue.

And what of the gasoline tax?

If vehicle performance is measured in miles per gallon, and the gasoline tax is measured in cents per gallon, then third grade math undeniably demonstrates that said tax is calculated as cents per mile.

So, we now have a mileage tax, and Kenny wants ANOTHER mileage tax that is simply calculated using different technology?

Beyond that, we have transponders in our cars that report how far we drive, where we drive, and conceivably, where we are at any given time.

Torches and pitchforks have been brought forth for less.

Thankfully, Barry O has disavowed this strategy. He may be incompetent, but he is not stupid.

Except that he has not yet embraced the concept that we need to cut spending rather than increase taxes.

2012 is closer each day.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Views like this . . .

. . . make me glad that winter is over.

And make me forget what an absolute disaster the city has made of trash collection.

This seems to happen every couple of years because Campania has run out of landfill space, the single incinerator does not function very well, and neighboring cities will not allow landfills nearby.

Because of the difficulties, Napolitani have taken to dumping their trash just about anywhere that seems handy. Prime dumping spots seem to be the emergency pull-offs along the autostrade.

Or the street corner.

Or the roadside ditches.

Or parking lots.

Or sidewalks.

Or . . . .