Saturday, April 24, 2010

Fix It....Phase III


OK - so I have tried. I tried to give them a chance to fix it, I tried to give them a chance to tell me that my eyeballs were important to them. I tried. Now it's on to Phase III.

Remember how I said they won't like Phase III? Well this has been going on since the Winter Olympics, I have sent two emails which you can read here and here. I received no response from Corporate NBC to my email. (Note to businesses - placate your dissatisfied customers). So I went right to the top sending a letter mind you - typed, signed, and placed in a typed envelop with a real stamp.

Here is what I sent along with a copy of the two emails:
April 4, 2010

Mr. Jeff Zucker
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10112

Dear Mr. Zucker;

My recent attempts to get a transmission problem fixed (see attached) has resulted in no action by the local station and no response from your corporate office, so I am addressing this all the way to the top in hopes that maybe with your encouragement this can get fixed. All I am asking is that someone at NBC have a bit of pride in their product and get the lips to match the voices. It is difficult to watch your programs with this taking place and, in my opinion, you are selling a flawed product to those that are advertising in the College Station/Bryan Texas area. Would you please find a competent engineer to fix it.

Thank you

Today is April 23. I think I have waited long enough for a response. Nothing. You were a fool to ignore me Mr. Zucker! A fool! I warned you about Phase III (queue evil laugh) didn't I? I did not want to go there - I tried, but now NBC has forced my hand.

I want the lips to match the speech. You won't listen to me, so maybe you will listen to your advertisers - the ones I am now going to send silly emails telling them how NBC is ripping them off by selling them air time on a technically broken transmission.

First group of advertisers will be the local guys, because on top of my silly email I send I am going to tell them I will not patronize their stores or buy their products until they get NBC to fix this problem.

Seems harsh? Well you know that woman scorned hell hath no furry saying? Well try ignoring me and see what you get. Like I said I tried.

That's Phase III - you want to try for Phase IV? I am ready to go all the way with this. Seems silly and petty but it's the point now. Oh, and just so you know - I may get nowhere with Phase III, but there is a chance that one of your advertisers will take me serious. If it were me I sure wouldn't want that happening especially with the dismal line of shows you think make for good TV.

So on to Phase III - I will make a list of every advertiser that sponsors the Biggest Loser. From that list I will send an email telling them how NBC does not care about me as a viewer and potential customer for the product they are wanting to sell me.

If I was a betting man, I would say the odds of one of their advertisers listening to me is very likely.

We will see.....we will see (queue ending dramatic music)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Ben Stein's reality-check meter's day off

So Ben Stein has a column called "Dreemz" in the April edition of Newsmax the "Independent. American" magazine featuring the smiling faces of Victoria & Joel Osteen on the cover.

Ben Stein sees Obama audacity of hope as nothing more than a child who thinks he will get a pony because they want one for their birthday. Apparently the audacity of stating that we will double our exports is too much of a stretch for Mr. Stein to accept, therefore deserving of ridicule for even mentioning it in the State of the Union address.

Can't be done! Mr. Stein emphatically believes, Magical Thinking that Obama guy does. Now whether or not we can double exports in five years is not what I want to debate. If you want to see some well reasoned arguments on this goal check this or this or this out.

They, like Mr Stein, think it's too lofty a goal, only they, unlike Mr. Stein, offer something tangible in terms of a fix that could help the cause instead of Mr. Stein's it-never-has-happened-so-it-can't-happen-Obama-suffers-from-a-"psychological disorder" diatribe that seems to be the standard discourse offered by these conservative leaning venues.

Now Mr.Stein is welcome to spew his beliefs in any way he wants. I have done the same in my blog, and I regret it now. It's name calling, attaching a negative image to the person all the while ignoring the issue. Obama does not have a "physiological disorder" as Mr. Stein wants his readers to believe. Nor is the goal of doubling exports unattainable making it magical thinking. It's a goal - a direction - here is what we want to do, here is what we will change to make it happen. The counter to this, as Mr. Stein so eloquently leaves out, is to have no goal. Would he have had an issue if Mr. Obama had said we will raise exports by 10% in 5 years? Obtainable - yes, but not very can-doish (i.e American ingenuity and drive).

Note: that's the importance of hope - the idea that things can change if we have the "audacity" to believe they can, that putting energy into something can - will - make a difference. Why this bothers conservative commentators is beyond me and seems to conflict with the magazine's cover that "faith can help in hard times." But I digress......

What really troubled me was that Ben Stein - this smart guy - or at least I thought he was smart - can make statements that fail the smell test (i.e. logic and or factual data) or what he calls his "reality-check meter."

Statement one: [in the State of the Union Address] "he did not repeat the decades-long promises to help keep Israel alive."

OK. we can debate if that's an important goal of America - but now's not the time. Obama did not mention Israel - that's "Jarring" to Mr. Stein. Apparently this has been done for "decades." Now I am going to exclude looking at Clinton's SOTU speeches and focus on Regan, Bush I, and Bush II because they are seen as imperfect - but conservative - by these new Tea Party thinkers. Now Obama has given two SOTU addresses, his first did, but this latest one did not mention Israel and Mr. Stein now finds Mr. Obama scary because of this.

So has mentioning Israel really been repeated in SOTU addresses for decades?
  • Bush II did not mention Israel in 2002
  • Bush II did not mention Israel in 2004
  • Bush I did not mention Israel in 1990
  • Regan did not mention Israel in 1988
  • Regan did not mention Israel in 1984
So if not mentioning Israel in a SOTU address is "jarring," logically one would assume that Mr. Stein would find these other three president's SOTU address to be jarring as well.

Statement two: "He seemed to believe that he was presiding over a post-racial America when he won entirely by getting spectacular majorities of the black vote"

OMG! WTF? Did he really make this statement? Obama won because more people voted for him in states with the most Electorial college votes. If Black votes were the only thing that pushed him forward then he would have won in states that have the highest percentage of black voters (you know the South). But lets look at the numbers, shall we (Damn the data! It screws up what I want to belive!).
  • Obama got 43% of the white vote which was more than Kerry got in 2004.
  • Obama got 56% of the woman vote.
  • Obama got 66% of the Hispanic vote.
  • Obama got 66% of the votes from those that voted for the first time.
End of discussion on this. More people wanted Obama then just blacks. What an utterly stupid and ill-informed statement for Ben Stein to make.

Statement three: "He seemed to believe himself when he said he was going to read every line of the budget with its million of lines."

Here is what Obama said:
We will continue through the budget line by line, page by page to eliminate programs that we can't afford and don't work.
Now I don't think he meant he would "personally" read the budget, I think he meant he and his staff would. Kind of like reading assignments in college - you divvy up the work, meet, discuss, that kind of thing. Now Mr. Stein's point regarding how "he would know from reading a line for a dam in Idaho whether or not that money was spent wastefully" is a valid question, but the gist of the argument was it can't be done so don't even try and by saying that's what you plan to do - you know - get all fiscally with the budget - just makes you seem a "huckster" or a "self-deluder."

This isn't dreamland Obama is in, its a direction, a goal, a methodology. That's what leadership is all about - pointing the ship in a direction. The direction of increasing exports and removing wasteful spending from the budget is not magical thinking, require superhuman feats, or is living in dreamland, unless of course what you really want is the ship to stay in port and the nightmare for all us have-nots to continue. If you don't like the direction articulate a better direction and then state why.

Stick to selling credit score services - your "reality-check meter" has gone off prematurely making your writing seem a bit...well... Anyone?....Anyone?....Bueller?.....

Thursday, April 22, 2010

It's just the usual noises

I'm traveling this week, so I spend time listening to non-NPR radio and am forced to endure Fox News in the lobby of hotels where they serve "breakfast."

I am getting tired of rebutting ignorant talking heads and poison spewers who want to further their own greed. But that seems to be where this blog is going.

I would prefer to look at an idea and write about the pro's and con's, you know, make some consilient inductions about stuff. Instead I write to counter speech that is neither enlightened nor informed. So along with [c]hristain radio, "Fox and Friends" I got to read a magazine in the lobby called Newsmax.
Newsmax is one of the nation's leading independent news site focusing on breaking news, politics, finance, personal health, technology and entertainment ...
Independent? Really, with articles titled:

  • Jeb Bush exclusive interview: Obama charting "dangerous" course
  • Jeb's real take on Sarah Palin
  • 24 seats the GOP can grab in November
  • Exclusive: ADL's Foxman gives Obama an 'F' grade
  • Whistle-blowers claim Voice of America is pro-Iran
  • Al Gore sees errors in climate claims
  • Should the U.S. Postal Service be scrapped?
  • Obama surrendering America's Internet control
  • Ben Stein: What scares me about Obama
  • Dick Morris: How Republicans will recapture the Senate
  • O'Reilly and Beck's "Bold and Fresh" tour
  • Prepare now for when Bush tax cuts expire
See a theme here?

It was Ben Stein's article that got me - again - wanting to counter a type of discourse that I find disappointing and destructive. Now Ben Stein is what I thought an intellectual, you know smart, reasoned, informed. All the things required to make a sound argument for or against something.

What he wrote was anything but and instead was just another drop of poison added to the water in an effort to perpetuate an agenda that Obama is the source of all that ails America (vote him out - vote us in).

Conservatives had eight years to make things work, they had Both the presidency and both houses of congress, and we ended up with no changes to our have/have not health system and an economic meltdown that should have been foreseen by those in charge (I saw it coming) and rectified. Instead the "best government is no government" approach was allowed to manifest itself firmly with 'what did you expect? results'.

So now we have a new guy in charge with new ideas. Eight years was enough time to get it rolling along smoothly. It didn't - which means those policies did not work, could have worked better, or only worked for some (the only ones that really mattered?).

There is a reason why guys like Ben Stein want nothing changed, why Rick Perry wants government to be inconsequential in our lives. They have everything they need and change could - could mind you - change that balance.

It is true that a rising tide raises all boats but it is also true that keeping the number of boats in the bay as low as possible means more available for those lucky enough to be in a boat. There is an atmosphere of greed being sold as real Americanism. We earned it - they get a free ride. A have and have-not society only leads to confrontation.

There is a need for reasoned debate on how to move this country forward. Right now the loud mouths are telling us that doing nothing is better than trying something different. That's good for them that have but not good for them that don't.

So that's how I see it - that's my bias, my slant, my mood. Now on to Ben Stein's Obama is scary article.

Monday, April 19, 2010

That's Christian with a capital C

On my way to Gatesville - nothing on the radio, spin the dial and hit a christian radio talk show channel. Oh, I could go on and on about how untrue this "truth" program was, but I have already soiled these pages with enough examples.

So my wife ran in this 6K run in downtown Houston, the Dow Live Earth. This race was designed to bring home the plight of how far - on average - some people have to go for clean drinking water.

Now Dow sponsors this because they make a number of products designed to clean contaminated water. This is where corporations can really make a difference, it's kind of a social responsibility thing where there are lots of benefits. Yay Dow!

So as my wife's pit crew, I am waiting around for her to return and I check out the different booths set up promoting this cause. I am approached by a young lady names Shannon Storssner with a group called Living Water. She asks me to sign a petition asking that 500 million be spent for clean water projects.

No I am a skeptical person when it comes to causes. I don't trust the salesman thinking them more interested in self profit over common good. So I had my "you can't sell me nothin' car salesman" face on. Got to work on that - it makes me seem unapproachable.

Well Shannon was not deterred and told me everything her group did as well as why the petition was important. I come to find out later that Living Water is a Christian organization - and yes, if you read my blog you know I can be harsh on religious groups and people.

But that's the thing, I am critical of those who talk, hype, instigate, and are hypocrites. My beef is not against Christians, or Religion, or Conservatives, or Tea Partiers, it's against loud mouth greedy people who choose to be ignorant or promote a their way or the highway agenda.

Shannon was real, her cause was real and her devotion to it real, and in that sense she was Christlike, the way I understand a Christian to be. 500 million is a lot of money and I am not sure where it would come from. But if part of my taxes are used to provide clean drinking water to my fellow man, count me in.

I signed the petition - not because I'm a liberal tax and spend kind of guy, but because Shannon earned my trust and she felt it to be a human - i.e. Christian - thing to do.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Tea Party Stats

The non-Journalists over at the fair and balanced word shop had a catchy little article title that caught my attention:
Obama's Mockery of Tea Party Stirs Tax Debate
Still not sure yet what the mockery was, I got sidetracked on the survey results they - and I hate to use the word "reported" - identified in said article. If you are one of the possible three people who have read this here blog you know I am big on cite and verify. So I went looking for the source - a CBS News Poll.

Now there is this thing called bias that creeps in, it is natural, it is expected, it is very difficult to avoid. I am not talking about purposefully being biased, I am talking about bias that comes about simply in the way the data is collected and/or reported.

So you gotta always look at the details, especially the raw numbers and the method. So when the CBS News Poll makes the statement:
Compared to Americans overall, Tea Partiers are considerably.....
They are making a bold - very bold statement - that their sampling and survey accurately reflects the groups as a a whole.

"Americans overall" means all Americans. In the case of the CBS poll it means those Americans that answered their phone and agreed to stay on the line and answer 94 questions. So bam! right there you get what is called participation bias. Who were these Americans? They were picked by a random dialer (RDD) which called both land-line and cell phones (including cell phone reduces the bias) which brings in bias since it excludes those that do not have a phone (poor) or work shifts that keep them away from their phone.

There are lots and lots of these potential bias potholes that phone poles naturally can fall into. On the other-hand, this bias may not make a difference and the views of the participants selected (have phone and time and willingness) may reflect fairly accurately the views of the whole. OK enough with the science talk - get to the point!

So lets assume that the poll participants accurately reflect the population as a whole. There were some interesting results reported in the survey.
  • 40% of "All Americans" disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as President
  • 88% of "Tea Party Supporters" disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as President
OK, no real surprise there, that's what I would have expected. But other questions I found kind of enlightening:
  • 63% of "All Americans" think Sarah Palin would not be an effective President
  • 47% of "Tea Party Supporters" think Sarah Palin would not be an effective President
  • 76% of "All Americans" think the benefits from Social Security and Medicare are worth the costs for taxpayers
  • 62% of "Tea Party Supporters" think the benefits from Social Security and Medicare are worth the costs for taxpayers
  • 30% of "All Americans" want no legal recognition for gay couples
  • 40% of "Tea Party Supporters" want no legal recognition for gay couples
  • 23% of "All Americans" think abortion should not be permitted
  • 32% of "Tea Party Supporters" think abortion should not be permitted
  • 74% of "All Americans" think businesses should be able to prohibit customers from openly carrying guns in their establishments
  • 65% of "Tea Party Supporters" think businesses should be able to prohibit customers from openly carrying guns in their establishments
  • 79% of "All Americans" think it's never justified for citizens to take violent action against the government
  • 71% of "Tea Party Supporters" think it's never justified for citizens to take violent action against the government
OK, so maybe I have been a little unfair in my concern and/or criticism about this group. I want to understand them, and I think I do a little bit better after looking over the survey. They aren't as right-wing nutso as they are made out to be, they are, really, no more ignorant and misguided than the population as a whole:
  • 58% of "All Americans" think Barack Obama was born in the United States
  • 41% of "Tea Party Supporters" think Barack Obama was born in the United States

Friday, April 16, 2010

That important intelligence is most likely false

So Star Parker in her article made a couple of statements that cited no source or were not backed up:
There is a reason why eight of 10 Americans say that our nation is on the wrong track.
So I went looking for this 8/10 poll that was done. Best I could find was a CBS poll done in April of 2008. Then I got to thinking about what she was stating - that 8 out of 10 folks think we're on the wrong track. She's right, I think we are on the wrong track, for completely different reasons then she does. I would answer the pollster correctly if that was how the question was asked.

That's the interesting thing about using statistics - you can spin it anyway you want to as long as you report the exact numbers. What they mean can be completely masked by how they are presented or in what context.

So, not knowing what the "wrong track" means, I can only speculate that it is the same reasons I feel that way. There is an atmosphere of distrust perpetuated by some who want their way. There is an atmosphere of fear creeping through our society that could lead to a mob mentality outcome. There is a movement to do away with justice and hand convictions out to those we deem must be guilty. There is violence threatened and put forth towards our elected officials. There is uncivil behavior towards those who do not share the same view. There is the denial of a basic human right to love and join with the person of your choosing.

There is a group - a large group - that believes it knows what is best and it aims to bully and force its wants and needs on everyone else. And for that reason I think our nation is on the wrong track. No fact checking needed I guess, I am pretty sure that 8/10 feel the wrong track analogy is in place.

What else...what else....oh:
Senator Tom Coburn [w]rote recently how he saved a patient's life by identifying a cancer using a procedure that most likely would not have been permitted under the government health care bureaucracy we are about to have. Senator Coburn has supplied us with important intelligence. Americans should know that the government rationed health care we're about to get will "not only reduce the quality of life, but their life spans as well."
Oh really? "Most likely" and you base this on what? - where in the bill does it say health care will be rationed? And, why do you think it is not being rationed now? Do you think the health insurers pay for every procedure you or your doctor wants? Read your policy knucklehead. Where in the bill - which is now law - does it create a situation where the quality of life and life spans will be reduced? Why would you print something like this as a statement of fact?

It does not, and you know it - or at least should know it. But like everything else I have read on your web page, you're nothin' but another empty suit. If you don't like the bill, state why, if you are fearful of these things happening - state that - but this bold statement couched with "most likely" really shows your true colors. You perpetuate mistruths and fear to further your own agenda - mainly your success on the speaking circuit. It's all about you isn't it?

If you really care about being a good politician you will learn the difference between rhetoric and truth unless, like I suspect, all you give a shit about is being in power and being seen as a player.

I am so done with you...Next!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Anecdotal evidence that's why!

Anecdotal evidence: Evidence, which may itself be true and verifiable, used to deduce a conclusion which does not follow from it, usually by generalizing from an insufficient amount of evidence.
So Star Parker wants to run for Congress, great, just what we need another less than smart talking head voting for or against things she understands only from hearsay and rhetoric she agrees with.

Why would I make such a nasty sounding accusation? Well you gotta consider the evidence and that comes from her own writing. So lets get something straight first, I am not attacking her because she is a conservative, I am attacking her for her conclusions. If you can't see the big picture, if you can't deduce or formulate an effective argument based on empirical evidence, then shut up and get out of the way. We do not need ignorant people leading us, especially one that claims to advocate for the poor.

Parker's Anecdotal Evidence:
Shortly before Christmas, I sent out a package priority mail through the U.S. Postal Service. Blah...blah..blah..The USPS website reported five discrete steps taken between receipt of the package and its delivery. And then showed "Status: Delivered." How many individuals handled that package and failed to note that someone decided to deliver it [back] to the return address?

[t]he dentist replied that he'd been using Federal Express to overnight back and forth to his laboratory in Minnesota for 25 years and that there never had been one screw up. And, noted the dentist, each day following September 11, 2001 -- when airports across the nation were closed -- all his FedEx overnight deliveries arrived on time.
Conclusion: This is why we don't want government administered health care - because the post office screwed up a delivery and one Dentist has had excellent results from a private corporation. Call your next witness Congresswoman Parker - Nope, this is all I need to make my decision!

Why this argument fails:
  • The post office and FedEx operate under two different mandates -FedEx's mandate is to be profitable at the expense of servicing all while the post office is mandated to serve all.
  • FedEx can choose where and to whom to deliver, the post office can't.
  • FedEx can charge a premium for their service the post office must ask permission to raise rates.
  • The post office can deliver the same package cheaper and within the same time frame (Consumer Reports).
  • When FedEx must deliver a package to a rural out of the way location it uses the post office to do so.
  • FedEx does not service post office box addresses but the post office does.
This is basic stuff here, one should understand how these two entities operate before using them to bolster their argument. I am really disappointed in the lack of a common understanding of economics and capitalism shown by those wishing to lead the Right. Government and private business are not enemies of each other, they work best when they stay in their own lane.

So why have FedEx if the government is so good? Because my ignorant friend, without the limitations FedEx can do it quicker and more consistently but at a premium cost for those that require such service. Do you see it? They both serve two distinct needs and.....there is room at the table for both.

Government must create a level playing field and cover areas where private industry can't or will not venture. We as a society have needs that we require someone to meet. If you ignore those needs because you devalue them or put them below your own, then trouble will ensue. The answer is not less government and more private business, it's better governing and a more empathetic corporate attitude (i.e. it's not all about the bottom line!)

So do us all a favor Ms. Parker - don't run until you understand how it works and what your role is to be.

Next post I'll tackle my biggest pet peeve - unsupported comments, and surprise! surprise! it involves Ms. Parker....again.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Proof that ignorance has no color preference

So I am out of town and get to read a big time newspaper. There is a column by a woman named Star Parker extolling how the welfare state has been a deterrent to the poor getting a chance to live the American dream. OK, yea, there is a point there - in our effort to help have we done a greater harm? Fair question, so is the Parker person? I have no idea who she is other than she founded an inner-city newspaper and heads some group called CURE - the coalition for Urban Renewal and Education.

I am a true believer in the idea that all problems are social in nature and I am always interested in what those who spend time in the trenches have to say. They are usually more empathetic and are closer to the heartbeat of what really is going on and needs to change. So this statement caught my interest:
All of this effort has been aimed to deliver one basic message: The barrier between America's chronically poor and the American dream is the welfare state socialism, which was supposed to be our answer to poverty.
Did she just use the term "socialism"? Red flag goes up - warning - warning - warning - conservative parrot - squawk! Obamacare, states rights, unfunded mandates, debt, wealth distribution, death panels....squawk!

C'mon is this the best the tea party types can put out there? Jiminy Cricket you can run rings around almost all her points. So lets start with this:
I thought we were on the road to moving socialism out of poor black communities and replacing it with wealth producing American capitalism.
By socialism she means welfare - or in broader terms - dependency on government. For the little guy, it really does not matter who the man is - if a corporation runs Amtrak or the government - it DOES NOT MATTER - all that matters is that the service is available and the trains run on time. Nor does it matter who the little guy gets his paycheck from.

Socialism or corporate ownership means nothing to the little guy, it only means something to the guy that wants to compete against it. The socialism argument is a red herring and anyone who employees it as a destination we are heading is woefully ignorant. The argument is - and should be - strictly on the merits of a dependency by the poor on welfare, for which Obama as well as the two Bushes, Regan, Carter, Nixon, Ford, and Clinton had nothing to do with. If you want to blame someone blame Bush II for "totally reversing the direction we started in after we reformed welfare in 1996" (note to all you youngsters and Tea Party folks - Clinton was the President in 1996).

We have had a welfare state for 40 some years. during that same time our standard of living rose as did our GDP, and wealth. Yet we still have the poor - lots of them. Capitalism - if it was indeed the panacea -would have trumped welfare. It did not, because that's not how capitalism works. You don't generate monetary wealth by sharing, that's collectivism. Capitalism will never do anything for the poor other than allow them to benefit from what is leftover. So yes, our standard of living for the poor is way higher here then in some third world country, but in both cases they are still poor relative to their situation.

Capitalism is not the answer nor is Socialism the direction we are heading and its time to throw this broken record away. The poor are poor for a whole host of reasons, including bad government programs, greedy rich folks, uncaring conservatives, and bleeding heart liberals too eager to throw money at the problem. As long as we think the "other sides" ideas are bunk we will never address the real problems head on. Real solutions don't fly under a red or blue banner nor do they associate themselves exclusively with steeped or bottled water.

You have nothing new to say Ms Parker, you are just another Sarah Palin wanna-be who truly believes she got here all by her own pretty little boot straps and gosh darn it all we need is common sense to govern!

I'll take on your USPS = bad - FedX = good discussion later this week

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Anything but last

So my wife has taken up running and has entered in a few 5Ks in the last few months. Now she is not a fast runner - which she will tell you herself. But she appears to like these 5Ks and has been entering all she can in the area.

Now it comes to pass that there is a race coming up called the "Dansby Duo (D2) at Bryan Lake. This consists of a 5K - 12 mile bike race - 5K. It turns out that you can partner with someone so she asked me to do it.

Now I am not what you call an athlete or a racer - I am, however, one of them types that likes a challenge so I said yes! I spent the last month or so prepping for it, first making sure I could do 12 miles and trying to gauge how much time it would take me.

They give you two and a half hours to complete the race, so with her averaging 35-37 minutes for a 5K, I had to do the 12 miles in less than an hour figuring she would most likely need to walk part of the second 5K - I mean c'mon she just took up running these things and to do two with a one hour rest in between...... So I went out an rode 12 miles - it took me a little less than an hour so things looked good.

We went out to scope the race course out and her confidence waned. The day of the race she finds out she has to run on a dirt road. her confidence wanes even further. But she is a trooper and starts the race.

Now having a wife that just starts a sport is like watching your kid at his first baseball game. "Please don't strike out" becomes "please don't come in last." Not that there is anything wrong with coming in last - I mean someone has to, its just that it can be a real blow to the ego unless, like me, you have a lot of experience coming in last, getting picked last, striking out, chocking....

So I am waiting in the transition area where all the bikes are kept. If you are a team you wait there for your partner, exchange the timer chip, and then ride your bike the 12 miles.

So here is what it looks like waiting in the transition area at the start of the race.

Notice how there are lots of bikes. Now remember that pit in your stomach feeling as your kid goes up to bat? Well here is a picture of the same transition area as I wait my turn to race:

Notice how there are only four bikes left and one of them is mine and two of them are ready to leave. This does not look good. Now remember - being last does not bother me, but I don't want her to be last, she has worked really hard to be able to run 5Ks which is 3K more than I have ever run in my life - even at my prime. So I have my work cut out for me.

So here she comes, we exchange the timer chip, and I am gone. Thank God I trained for this, the only problem is I have not been in a bike race since I did the Rosarito-Ensenada 50 mile back in the mid 1980s. So on the slight downhill start because of my excitement and panic of her coming in last I am sucking wind and having a difficult time getting my breath. This is not looking good.

I am peddling hard, I pass one, then two then four....OK, if I can get five to 10 minutes on these guys, she may have a chance if she has to walk. I passed about 12 other cyclists, so I was feeling pretty good. Like I said - I am glad I had trained for this. So I pull in, switch the chip and she starts walking to the start area to begin her 2nd 5K! Run you fool!, I gave you a little time - take it!

Well she did run - she ran the whole thing - two 5Ks in one day and the 2nd one was only half a minute slower than the first. I am really proud of her.

Oh, and she did not come in last either!

Newt Gingrich, Liz Cheney, and Saul Alinsky

Why does it all seem formulaic? Like it's scripted, right down to the pause waiting for the applause. Then it hit me, they are playing from Alinsky's text "Rules for Radicals."
  1. Ridicule is the most potent weapon
  2. A good tactic is one your people enjoy
  3. Keep the pressure on
  4. The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself
  5. The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure on the opposition
  6. If you push a negative hard enough it will break through into its counter-side
  7. The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative
  8. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.
Wow, 8 out of 13 that I can easily see. Now these tactics aren't what you call playing nice. They are not designed to be, they are about winning, and in the process of trying to win you destroy.

Those that now control the right have found these tactics to suit their needs, just like they found torture to help them accomplish their goals. In the process something is lost and that is discourse and debate.

The right seeks to control the lives of over 300 million people, control them by putting in place what they think is the standard that we should all live by. Now there is nothing fundamentally wrong with pushing forward an agenda you think works or works better than what is taking place. But that is not what is being pushed. Instead we get the poisoning of the waters and the demonization of a party and its supporters. Let's look at what was said recently by Newt Gingrich and Liz Cheney:
  • most radical administration in American history
  • secular socialist machine
  • founded on freedom, not serfdom.
  • founded on the work ethic, not the redistribution ethic
  • founded on defending America, not hiring lawyers for terrorists
  • put down America and diminish our achievements
  • dishonors this nation and the brave men and women who have fought and died for our freedom
If the right has a better plan, lets see some action - not rhetoric. From my point of view, you had four years under Clinton and eight years under Bush to fix health care and put forth the ideas expressed in the "step-by-step, common-sense approach to health care reform."

Those that control the right say they have a better way but all they fixate on is poison and rhetoric. We have serious problems that are fixable but can only be fixed if all sides are considered and the best approach is hammered out through compromise. But compromise is such an ugly word to conservatives - it's seen as weak and capitulating. However that's what governing is all about.

But governing is not what is sought, it's power and when you have power you needn't compromise. You can have your cake and eat it too. All that matters is obtaining and keeping the power regardless of how it's obtained or who you destroy in the process.

A word of warning though: Be careful when you demonize, because some of us hold our truths to be self evident and don't take too kindly to being tagged as something we are not. I'll debate my views with anyone - but you had better be able to tell me why I am wrong and/or why your way is better. If it's six of one or half dozen of another - then you got nothing more substantive then me.

Compromise and governing - now there's a radical approach!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I pooh-pooh in your general direction!

It was a simple statement of encouragement. Offered by a friend to another in hopes of giving the recipient some much needed strength for they were looking at a task and finding it to be daunting. I can understand the genesis behind the comments, not because I know the commenter’s, but because I too have been stirred in the same pot.

It is easy to attack back, especially when one finds their particular beliefs attacked or downplayed by others. It is even easier to see one’s views as superior, propped up with logic and deductive reasoning to the point where one cannot believe the ignorance – nay – stupidity of those who have not come to the same understanding.

So we comment in ways that assumes either everyone believes as I do or you are worthy of my contempt. I am guilty of this too so far be it for me to call them out on this. But that’s what is wrong with discourse – it has lost its civility, its empathy, its bottom-line support of your right to think and do what fits best for you. And who can blame us? We attack each other’s beliefs, rendering them stupid or making light of them.

So I am faced with looking at a monster rearing its ugly head. Maybe I failed in my rhetoric, my rantings, my take on things, to convey the necessary criteria of valuing another person’s beliefs. To belittle someone’s comments simply because you have determined them to be insignificant in your own life was never my intention. “To each their own” I have always said. “But that’s not how they play!” will be their response. “They force it down our throats, change our text books, ignore the constitution – it’s not to each their own – it’s always their way!”

OK, so let me be clear, let this be my new mission statement for everything I say and do from now on: “First do no harm.”
  1. Are my comments designed to belittle or make a point for consideration?
  2. Am I attacking the individual or their actions?
  3. Will they be better served if I took away their belief system?
  4. Can I differentiate between a true believer and a charlatan?
  5. Will my comment serve a purpose other than making me feel righteous?
My mom always told me “if you have nothing nice to say don’t say anything at all.”

It was just a simple statement of encouragement – nothing more.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Fix It.....Phase II

OK, I am trying. Sent the following last week on Sunday. One week later - no response from the folks at corporate NBC. So on to Phase II.5 - like I said, I am trying to get this fixed in a much more calm and collective way. But I aim to play hardball if that's the way they want it. So today I wrote a letter (on paper!) addressed to Jeff Zucker the CEO of NBC. I'll drop it in the mail Monday and will post it if I still don't get a response. No response - move to Phase III, like I said, they will not like Phase III. All they have to do is fix it.

Here is what I sent NBC in an email ( Sunday:


At the end of this email is the email I sent to the local station - KCEN - responsible for broadcasting NBC through our cable provider, Suddenlink. At this point in time the same issue with lips not matching the voices is still going on. It has been over a month since I voiced my complaint but this issue has been dragging on for longer than that. I am not the only one complaining in College Station/Bryan Texas.

KCEN TV told me in a phone call the next day that the problem with lip syncing was not theirs but was a corporate problem from your feed to them. OK, so fix it. Nobody at KCEN has been able to get you to fix this problem, so I thought I would give it a try. Now I have been watching TV for a long time. Rabbit ears were able to get voices to sync with lips - unless it was a Japanese monster movie. So how come in the age of computers and digital, and fiber optics, and satellites, guys can't get voices to sync with lips?

I would be curious to know how disappointed the folks spending their advertising dollars with you would be should I need to take my complaint to get this problem fixed to them?

Anyway something to chew on while you work this out.



Sunday, April 4, 2010

P.T. Barnum would hate you son!

The following was sent to me as proof that his education has not been wasted.

The initiating source (from a girl he went to high school with):

Hey hunny:

Hey, So I know that you are an entrepenour so I wanted you to look at something. I'm working for a company called cieaura that does marketing for an emerging company called harmonic fm. Basically what we are putting out on the market is a set of adhesive chips which are each set at a different frequency to balance the bodys natural vibrations. There right now are sleep chips which encourage better deep sleep, energy chips which provide a no crash no rush constant energy, and pain chips who help to make pain go away. The also have an athlete chip that helps with longer better performances and makes it so you aren't tired and aren't in pain. I'd really like you to check it out, the website is [redacted].com. This isn't a scam and I'm not trying to sell you anything I just want you to try the product and if it intrest you I will gladly come talk to you about how it can make you a ton of money like it already has for a lot of people. The best part is it makes you money while you help people. We don't sell the product we sample and refer. But yeah go check out the site and if it interest you at all then text me or call me at [redacted]. Can't wait to hear from you!

His response:

Hi [redacted],

I see that you paid [redacted] your $39.99 to start your own store. I am sorry for your loss. You probably won't see that money again. Then again, you might sucker some really stupid people into buying the "products" from your store.

I am going to throw out a couple words here. Transparent holographic nanotechnology transdermal chips. Say that out loud. Now say STICKER. Does it sound ridiculous? Yes, because that's exactly what it is. And they claim that these chips are set at different frequencies that provide pain relief, better sleep or energy?

Sounds like a bona fide miracle product!

Oh and there are stickers that limit the EMF caused from your phone which the website claims are very harmful and hazardous to your health. Oh but we do have this little regulatory agency, called the FCC, that actually regulates the small amount of radiation that is produced by the radiating device, i.e. antenna. Yes, I like this company's science. Basically if you say it, without any study or evidence, its true! Just like the SmogBuster sticker that was supposed to reduce pollutants and give you better MPG (but was completely proven to be false, and a pyramid scheme type scam).

But wait, not convinced? Lets check at the bottom of the website, after each of it's products:

"[redacted] products are sold for learning, self-improvement and simple relaxation. No statement contained in this writing, and no information provided by any [redacted] employee or retailer, should be construed as a claim or representation that these products are intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease or any other medical condition. The information contained in this writing is deemed to be based on reliable and authoritative report. However, certain persons considered experts may disagree with one or more of the statements contained here. [redacted] assumes no liability or risk involved in the use of the products described here. We make no warranty, expressed or implied, other than that the material conforms to applicable standard specifications."

See these guys are smart. They sucker people like you in, who in turn sucker other people in. Maybe you'll make some money off of [redacted] other people. Probably not much though. But Ken Rasner will! Hey wasn't he in another [redacted] for a similar product? Oh yeah, it was called LifeWave. They sold similar "stickers" which didn't really work too!

Now Sam, if this is really a hoax, why are there other companies selling a similar like product? There's eight, Advita and Biosync who sell holographic chips. Oh they are run by Harmonic FM, LLC as well?!?! Which is in turn run by Ken Rasner? So what you are saying is that there are a lot of [redacted] corporations for Harmonic FM. And they all sell the same exact product from the same exact people?

Yes that is exactly what I am saying.

Maybe these "stickers" make you stupid instead of curing all your ailments.

Wait a minute. I just made a claim about a fancy new technology product and there is no way you can prove me wrong! Science, isn't it GREAT?!

I can go on and on about your little pitch. But I feel like I've wasted enough time today listening to your, and Rasner's, drivel. Instead I will sum up my final points in a picture:



P.S. The fact that you use "hey hunny" as a hook to get me to read this trash sickens me. I'm not your hunny. And it's not cute when women pull that crap.

I am also not an "entrepenour." I am an electrical engineering student.

Friday, April 2, 2010

You don't get it do you?

The Eagle's "Cardinals defend pope on church abuse scandal" gives a pretty good picture as to what is wrong with the Catholic church. I grew up Catholic and never had any complaints about my experience, but looking back it is now obvious that any entity is only as good as the people who run it.

We don't - regardless of geography - put the best and brightest in place. That's what we hope happens, but the reality is that to move up in any bureaucracy - and there is no bigger one than the Catholic church - you gotta play the game.

Being a good game player does not necessarily equate to being wise, smart, aware, or even competent. But that's how most folks move up through the ranks. Now I don't know the Pope or any of these Cardinals, Bishops, or Priests so I cant really say who is, and who is not good at what they do.

What I do know is that how the Catholic Church has handled the sexual abuse by its clergy has been disappointing. Now they are in a particularly difficult situation here, caught between the mandate to absolve one of their sins - regardless how heinous and the need to protect their flock and holdings.

But I am more and more convinced that they really do not get what has taken place, still takes place, and will take place in the future.
[Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn] had also reflected on the issue at a Wednesday evening service: "I admit that I often feel a sense of injustice these days. Why is the church being excoriated? Isn't there also abuse elsewhere? ... And then I'm tempted to say: 'Yes, the media just don't like the church! Maybe there's even a conspiracy against the church?' But then I feel in my heart that no, that's not it."
Why is the church being excoriated?: Because you - the leadership - have ignored it -participated in it - denied it - allowed it to perpetuate for decades. Don't you get it? You are the church, not a business or a club or a group of uneducated people. You represent the path to God. You mishandled this problem for many, many years and it ruined many, many innocent lives. Why didn't you fix the problem you knew was taking place?

Isn't there also abuse elsewhere?: Really? Are you serious? To repeat: You are the Church, you - of all people - must rise above hurtful degenerate behavior like this. We are not talking about random incidents here - this was pervasive and known all the way up to the top. And you did nothing - you failed your flock and the people that depended on you for leadership, compassion, Godliness, spirituality, all the things that should be in a Priest. You abused not just children but trust. Your sins are worst than the same sin committed by most all others. You were supposed to be men of God.

You guys really don't get it do you?