Saturday, January 30, 2010
Bloodbath on the tracks!?
Metro had another accident yesterday (two Metro workers died) . Two of its workers were killed. And Metro has had a bad run of luck in the last year or so. But Bloodbath on the Tracks? That’s the headline from the far far far far far right Washington Examiner (I think I got the correct number of fars in there). Sort of the New York Post wanna be of Washington, DC. No balanced coverage at all. I think you can say that when it comes to political coverage Democrats are always wrong and Republicans are always right. And you could very easily confuse the front page with the editorial page.
Back to the accident, it was terrible, awful and tragic. But I don’t think you can get away with saying Bloodbath. That’s a way over the top bombastic headline. Just like something you’d find in the New York Post.
Foot in Mouth
What’s in the water in South Carolina
Yet another example of a Republican politician in South Carolina going off:
South Carolina Lt. Governor Andre Bauer, who hopes to succeed fellow Republican Mark Sanford as his state’s governor, drew a comparison between government help for poor people and “feeding stray animals” – who, he noted, “breed.”
“My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals,” Bauer said during a town hall meeting, as the Greenville News reported over the weekend. “You know why? Because they breed. You’re facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don’t think too much further than that. And so what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to curtail that type of behavior. They don’t know any better.”
When Bauer got called out for his remarks he said:
“Do I wish I’d used a different metaphor? Of course I do,” the 40-year-old said. “I didn’t intend to offend anyone.”
Really you didn’t intend to offend anyone. I think the question is how could you not think this would be offensive to people. How dumb is this guy. But then again Bauer is playing to the conservative base:
Winthrop University political scientist Scott Huffmon said Bauer’s words “came out as condescending and insulting,” but his overall message about government dependency and personal responsibility will appeal to his evangelical Republican base.
And that’s all the really matters to Bauer right now.
To show that this isn't a strictly South Carolina, we have this from the superintendent of DC Schools:
I got rid of teachers who had hit children, who had had sex with children, who had missed 78 days of school. Why wouldn't we take those things into consideration?" she said.
Rhee declined to provide specific numbers Friday or details to substantiate her remarks about sexual misconduct and teachers striking students. Neither did she respond when asked by e-mail why such teachers were allowed to remain in the school system before the Oct. 2 job cuts. D.C. police spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump said late Friday that she was researching the matter.
For some strange reason people got upset at these remarks:
George Parker, president of the teachers union, called Rhee's statements "reckless" and without basis in fact. The union usually receives notice from the District when a teacher faces disciplinary action, Parker said, and he has received no information that any of the 266 had been under investigation for sexual offenses against children. One of the 266 faced action for administering corporal punishment, he said.
"This paints all teachers as being a group of child molesters who assault children and don't come to work," Parker said. "It damages the reputation of a lot of innocent, hardworking, dedicated teachers."
Members of the DC City Council didn't particularly like what was said either. They called for an investigation into the comments. Then a few days later there this from Rhee:
"I've been very clear all along that some of the people laid off in the reduction in force were promising or solid teachers," Rhee said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "I've never said that all of the teachers can be characterized in one way or another." But she acknowledged that she let the controversy fester for too long. "If we had put something out on Friday, that would have been better," she said.
The problem is people are not going to remember the comment on how some of the teachers were promising. People are only going to remember her words about teachers hitting students and having sex with them.
In both cases you just have to wonder what were these people thinking or maybe they just weren't thinking at all.
I took Friday off. I went to my training session as usual but moved it to 7:30. On the way back home there was a problem on Metro. Peak rush hour time of course. A train went out of service and I had to wait for several trains to go by before I could get on one. About ten minutes into all of this there was finally an announcement from Metro about what was going on.
Good to see Metro was up to its usual speed about letting the passengers know what was going on.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
2PP024 - 27 January 2010
We didn’t INTEND to be away so long, but life happens, you know? Today we start by talking about the Massachusetts special election before going into a discussion of how President Obama and the Democrats are doing. That means looking at the lack of a Republican alternative. This includes some talk about the coming Midterm Elections. The left even gets a bit of a serve this week. We also talk about the US Supreme Court making corporations equal to real people who are citizens of the United States.
We have phone messages this time! You can call and take part, too.
Please leave a comment (anyone’s welcome—agree or disagree!), or you can ring the 2Political Comment line on 206-350-3982.
2Political Podcast Episode 23 is now available. You can listen to it on the widget on the right side of my blog, or you can go the podcast site, 2political.com. You can leave comments there as well as download or listen to any episode.
Get 2Poltical Podcast for free on iTunes
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
If anyone watches soaps especially, All My Children, you'll recognize James Mitchell. He played Palmer Cortlandt. He played that role for 30 years.
I can remember when he came on the show. That's how long I've been watching All My Children. Over summer vacations, I'd watch it with my mom and brother. We'd have lunch during it and then my brother would go off to work. Later on I'd catch up on it when I was home from college over breaks and then when I was home at Christmas time. Over time my dad became a fan of the show.
Here's a very brief description of the character Palmer Cortlandt:
Palmer first appeared in 1979 as a powerful businessman who always made sure he had control of everything in his life, including his daughter Nina. When Nina went blind and fell for her doctor, Cliff Warner, Palmer convinced Nina that she wasn't right for Cliff. Palmer has always been a major rival in the life and dealings of Adam Chandler. Among Palmer's former wives, was Nina's mother, Daisy, whom he still thinks of fondly; and notably, Opal Gardner, whom he has a son, named Petey. Palmer left town in 2009. He still doesn't know that his nephew JR Chandler has cancer.
But what you might not know about Mitchell is that he was a dancer. He appeared on Broadway in Brigadoon and Paint Your Wagon. He also was danced the role of Curly in the dream sequence in the movie Oklahoma.
Here's are a couple of clips from YouTube. One is an interview and the other a tribute.
Yes Bubble Wrap the thing we love to pop turns 50 this month. And yesterday was Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day. I certainly hope you had some around to pop.
As the article in the Post said:
Mostly, they like the sound it makes when they destroy it, piece by piece, which largely explains the appeal of Bubble Wrap, the stress reducer disguised as package cushioning that maintains an inexplicable hold on pop culture.
What I didn't know is that originally bubble wrap was supposed to be textured wallpaper. Needless to say that idea never got off the ground.
It became what we know of it today because:
the product the two men had created in a small lab in New Jersey found its niche when, according to company lore, Fielding was flying into Newark Airport and noticed the fluffy clouds that seemed to cushion the plane's descent.
So happy birthday Bubble Wrap. And if you don't have some handy to pop follow this link to BubbleWrapFun.com. Enjoy!
Monday, January 25, 2010
There was a story about this in the Post on Sunday.
The headline says it all: Political push-back stalls stock market rally on Wall Street
The anger by average Americans has been stocked once again by the huge bonuses that banks will be paying to their employees. This was further reinforced but one of the most tone deaf appearance by bank executives since the big three blew to Washington asking for money. Essentially they said the bonuses were fine. Their tone of we didn’t do anything wrong was a far cry from the last appearance when they needed tax payers money and were contrite . They admitted that they just might have contributed to the economic situation. How quickly things change once the banks are back on their feet because of taxpayers money. The reason they paid the money back so quickly was so they would not be beholden to the public. Once the money was paid back things went back to they way they were before Wall Street help to cause the worst economic crisis since the great depression.
Since the public can’t get to the Wall Street, they can get to the politicians and put pressure on them to do something. And politicians looking around to find someone to blame (excusing themselves of course) have found the perfect scapegoat in Ben Bernanke. So there are questions now being raised by both Republicans and Democrats as to whether Bernake is the right person to be running the Fed right now.
I think the problem started when Time named Bernake it’s man of the year. It put Bernake front and center as the face of what had happened. And then shortly after that we had bonus mania from Wall Street.
Now other political voices are trying to calm the waters. A statement released by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) and Republican member Judd Gregg (N.H.) stated:
“In the last few days there have been a flurry of media reports on Chairman Bernanke’s confirmation prospects, highlighting a very vocal opposition,” the statement said. “Chairman Bernanke has done an excellent job responding to one of the most significant financial crises our country has ever encountered.”
One aspect of the story is the reaction of people on Wall Street:
“The president is coming out every other day with a new plan -- now he’s going to bully banks,” said Neil Hennessy, who runs an investment firm that bears his name and who thinks a period of slower but steady growth is ahead.
“The only thing that could ruin it is Washington,” Hennessy said. “And a big part of it is we’re getting no clarity out of our Senate, our Congress or our president. Businesses like myself, why would I hire anybody? Because I don’t know what it’s going to cost me anymore, in health care, or whatever.”
“The markets are wondering, ‘Who’s on first?’ “ said Mark Coffelt, president and chief investment officer of Empiric Funds. “All of the sudden, these guys are out and Volcker’s in. . . . Everyone is scratching their heads and saying, ‘What are these guys doing?’ It’s a pretty ugly picture.”
“It only took two days after the special election” for the White House to announce a new proposal, said Sean J. Ryan, a banking analyst for Wisco Research. “God knows what we’re in for between now and November.”
Notice something missing. Somehow this is all some else’s fault. Not Wall Street. Not the financial markets. Those meddling politicians. Mixed signals. Nothing absolutely nothing that Wall Street did. My oh my why should anyone be pissed off about millions of dollars in bonuses being paid out when millions of people are out of work. The same arrogant posture from Wall Street of “we know best” is back in full force.
Maybe people wouldn’t be so angry and demand action from their elected representatives if Wall Street and the financial community weren’t completely tone deaf. Guess some things never really change.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
This series of cartoons reminds me of that. We had a TV just like this upstairs when I was growing up.
Less than a month into the program, which D.C. officials describe as an effort to reduce litter and generate funds to clean up the Anacostia River, the nickel bag fee is having a big impact. Managers at stores that sell food or beverages say the switchover has cut the use of plastic bags by half or more. One Safeway in Northwest reports a falloff of more than 6,000 bags a week, about half of its former volume.
The problem I have is remembering to bring a bag with me. The Giant down the street gave out free reusable bags for the first week in January. Every time you went you got one of these bags. I have three now. I'm trying to remember to keep one in my car. It will take a little getting use to but I'll adjust.
From time to time I will buy a bag because I use them for taking car of Sam's litter box.
The funny thing about this is some of the comments people have been leaving on the Post story. Here's one: Bunch of communist and socialist losers who couldn't survive working for a living. And another: My behavior has changed as well. I now do all my shopping when I'm in Northern Virginia. So now DC is not only NOT getting my 5 cents for bags but they are not getting my money for groceries, etc. since I'm spending it in Virginia.
As a quick side note Virginia charges tax on groceries DC doesn't.
All I can say to those people is take a deep breath. It's 5 cents a bag. 5 cents.
One quick final point on this disposable bags represent 47% of the trash in the Anacostia River. So the tax is a good thing if it can reduce the number of bags in the river.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
But in all the devastation and ruin come some amazing stories. This is one of them.
Dan Woolley used an application on his iPhone called Jive Media Pocket First Aid & CPR. He accessed information that told him how to treat his injuries.
... he found recommendations for how to self-treat his injuries.
"So I used my shirt to tie my leg and a sock on the back of my head. And later used it for other things, like to diagnose shock," he added.
Woolley also used the iPhone's more traditional functions, setting its alarm to go off every 20 minutes to keep him from falling asleep.
Eventually, after about 66 hours trapped under the rubble, Woolley was pulled out alive by French rescuers.
Isn't modern technology something!
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Obama has to take some responsibility for this as well. He should have been up there campaigning much earlier. He should have stated his position on the economy not only for the people of Massachusetts but for the country as well.
And the Democratic Party has to take some blame for this as well. They should have been campaigning hard and fast to win this seat. They knew how important it was and yet took it for granted. The elections last fall should have pointed out to the Dems that people aren’t in the mood to be taken for granted.
This is sort of my first assessment of what happened. I'm going to ponder things a little more and post more about this also about the first year of Obama being in office.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
In today's world I think we would most think of heroes and heroines as athletes or politician.
But the true heroes and heroines are every day ordinary people who do things that are people are afraid or cannot do.
We lost such a person last week. Her name was Miep Gies. I think very few people will recognize her name. But I think most people will recognize the name of Anne Frank. Miep Gies helped hide Anne Frank and her family and others from the Nazis for two years. Gies was:
the last of the "helpers," the six non-Jews who smuggled food, books, writing paper and news of the outside world to the secret attic apartment of the canal-side warehouse where Anne, her parents, sister and four other Jews hid during World War II.Gies tried to bribe police to release the Franks but it was to no avail. She went back to the room where the Franks were hidden and it is then she discovered Anne's diary. The world has Gies to thank for saving such an important book. When Otto Frank returned to Amsterdam, Gies gave him the diary. She helped in compiling the diary and then was a tireless worker campaigning against Holocaust deniers.
But she never considered herself a hero:
But Geis is a hero. She acted with incredible humanity and courage. While other people let the Nazis take whomever, Geis risked her life to help the Franks without a second thought to her safety. And that is being a hero. She described herself as an ordinary housewife and secretary. Well let me say, we could do with a few more of those ordinary housewives and secretaries today.
Gies brushed aside the accolades for helping hide the Frank family as more than she deserved. "This is very unfair. So many others have done the same or even far more dangerous work," she wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press days before her 100th birthday in February.
She resisted being made a character study of heroism for the young.
"I don't want to be considered a hero," she said in a 1997 online chat with schoolchildren.
"Imagine young people would grow up with the feeling that you have to be a hero to do your human duty. I am afraid nobody would ever help other people, because who is a hero? I was not. I was just an ordinary housewife and secretary."
God speed Miep Gies. God speed.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
“Something happened a long time ago in Haiti and people might not want to talk about it,” the televangelist said. “And they got together and swore a pact to the Devil. They said, ‘We will serve you if you’ll get us free from the French.’ True story. And so the Devil said, ‘Okay, it’s a deal.’ . . . But ever since they have been cursed by one thing after another.”
Fox News anchor Shepard Smith played a clip of Robertson’s comments and offered this take: “The people of Haiti have been used and abused by their governments over the years. They have dealt with unthinkable tragedy, day in and day out. And we’re in the middle of a crisis that the Western Hemisphere has not seen in my lifetime. And 700 miles east of Miami, hundreds of thousands of desperate human beings need our help, our support, our money and our love. And they don’t need that.”
“This will play right into Obama’s hands -- humanitarian, compassionate,” Limbaugh said. “They’ll use this to burnish their, shall we say, credibility with the black community, in both the light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country. It’s made to order for him.”
Limbaugh was equally suspicious and cynical about Obama’s call for donations.
“Would you trust that the money is going to go Haiti? But would you trust that your name’s gonna end up on a mailing list for the Obama people to start asking you for campaign donations for him and other causes?”
He added, “Besides, we’ve already donated to Haiti. It’s called the U.S. income tax.”
On Thursday, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs responded to Limbaugh’s comments, saying, “In times of great crisis, there are always people that say really stupid things. I don’t know how anybody could sit where he does, having enjoyed the success that he has, and not feel some measure of sorrow for what has happened in Haiti.”
If you didn't see the pictures, it would be hard to fathom the devastation. And these two guys use it for their own ends. Robertson's remarks imply that somehow the Haitian's deserve what happened to them. That revolting from an oppressive colonial power was somehow wrong.
As for Limbaugh even a disaster on this scale cannot stop him from his vendetta against Obama.
It seems to me if you were a good Christian, a decent human being you would be saying hey listeners please give some money to help these people.
Every time when I think they can't sink any lower they do. They are two miserable excuses for human beings.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Well today I went out and got one of those all in one things: printer, scanner, fax, copier. I had a little trouble getting everything installed properly. There was something funny going on with the USB port. I called tech support and we went through a bunch of stuff. He concluded there must be something wrong with the USB port on the unit.
I was not pleased to say the least. I tested the USB cable I had on another printer and it worked fine. But I thought well maybe I could try another cable. I went to Radio Shack to see if they had any. They did and for $30 I could get a new USB cable. The printer only cost $80. So I wasn't going going to buy a cable for that amount of money.
I got back and decided to give it one more try. I looked carefully at the port on the HP Officejet All-in-One and noticed there was a small piece of plastic in there. I got it out and tried again. The results is below.
Scanning can start again!
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
I asked if they had Babe Flu shots and I was told yes. And I got one. So far no side effects.
It’s interesting how the coverage and concern about Babe Flu has essentially disappeared. There is almost no coverage about it any more in the media. After the first wave in the fall coverage pretty much disappeared. The main reason is that it turned into a non-event. If people had started dropping like flies, then there would have been wall to wall coverage. But other more important things have come up like Tiger Woods.
I have noticed that there are ads on TV saying the best way to protect against the flu is to get the shot. Walgreens has been running ads saying it is giving out the shot as well. To me the thing that is missing is an announcement from the CDC that people should get the vaccine and that everyone can now get it. I’m not in one of the high risks groups and I was able to get the shot with ease. That point needs to be made and stated out right. Both of the ads on TV talk about getting the vaccine but don’t specifically state that anyone can get the shot.
An article from the Post today states:
Get ready for a huge flu-shot push as health officials try to rekindle interest in protection against this new influenza strain that, despite plummeting cases, still is threatening lives - even as they reassess just how much more vaccine needs to be shipped.
I guess this makes sense for a big push after the holidays. Any attempt to push the vaccine would have been lost in all the hubbub of the holidays.
It will be interesting to see what type of media the government uses to push for the vaccination and exactly how they word the message.
Monday, January 11, 2010
. . . regular people will always be first on the scene of terror attacks, we should perhaps prioritize the plublic’s antiterrorism capability—above and beyond the fancy technology that will never be foolproof.
I’ve mentioned this before in both a post and in a 2politcal podcast. Mainly that being completely and totally dependent on technology is mistake. Technology can play a huge part in our ability to combat terrorist plots. The body scanning machines should be used and the numbers at airports should be increased. But it is not the end all and be all that some people make it out to be.
But the reason there wasn’t an explosion on the flight 253 was the haplessness of the terrorist but more importantly the quick action taken by passengers. And maybe it time to start telling people what to do in case something like this does happen. How to react in case just in case there is attempt on another plane. What can people use to help subdue and then restrain a would terrorists. We seem not to want to talk about this. If this is indeed a war why are we not enlisting all our resources to fight it? Aren't the passengers on a plane the ones who should act? Is the idea to just let people sit there and do nothing?
I know I would do something. I've thought about what you could do if something bad happened. And I can't believe I'm the only one that's thought that. Maybe it's time our leaders trust the people and give us the tool to save ourselves along with everyone else on the plane.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
I've been taking over the counter drugs to help fight this. For the first week it was only cold medicine. Now I'm taking sinus. It's amazing the number of these things you can find on the shelves at the store. The best thing to do is find a cold and sinus medicine. I can't believe how much of this stuff I've bought over the past two weeks. I have stuff at home and at work.
I still think they should invent something that you can shove up your nose that just sucks all the gross stuff out.
But for now it's time to take another dose of medication.
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
I take the Metro to work every day. I can leave my house and be sitting at my desk in just about 30 minutes. Yesterday, I left my house at 8:10 (I will admit I was running late), I didn’t get into my office until 9:30.
Here’s how the trip to work started. I was running late. I kept forgetting things. I even had to go back and get a letter I wanted to mail. I got to the station and just missed the train on the platform. There was an announcement that there was a problem but it was not in the direction I was going. I started being concerned when three trains came through the station in the opposite direction (the direction that supposedly had the problem). Finally a train going in my direction pulled into the station. It was packed. There was no way to get on to it.
I didn’t try very hard to get on because there was just no room. I hate people who try and squeeze onto a train when there is essentially no room. They usually somehow manage to get in but it ain’t pretty. I decided I would wait for the next one to come along. It finally showed up. In the mean time going in the opposite direction were another three trains (you might notice that this becomes a pattern).
I got on. It was crowded and only got more crowded the more stations we went to. I was close to one of the doors and at Judiciary Square, in order for people to get off the train, I had to step off on to the platform. Well I couldn’t get back on to the train there was just not enough room. OK, I thought I’ll just wait for the next one. It should be by in a couple of minutes.
A couple of minutes turned into 15 minutes. And again while waiting going in the opposite direction three to four trains. Well if the time between trains is 15 minutes and you’re at the stop after Union Station one of the Red Lines busiest guess what you can’t get on the train. The train after that was due into the station for something like 13 minutes. I was less than pleased.
Metro announced that there was a delay on the Blue and Yellow lines because of a sick passenger but nothing about what was going on on the Red Line. Nothing.
The next train rolls into Judiciary Square. I walked up and down the whole length of the train. I was able to do that because it was held at the station. If I wanted to squeeze like a sardine I probably could have gotten but I decided I wasn’t going to do that. The train eventually went on its way
The time to the next train was a decent interval. I was able to get on but it was still crowded. It got even more crowded at the next station Gallery Place, which is a transfer station to another line. We were packed in. Thankfully I only had one station to go.
The problem I have is that Metro should have been aware of what was happening on the Red Line and letting people know what was going on. But then again Metro had never been good at giving out information to passengers. Good to see the new year hasn’t changed anything.
Here are some pictures. I discovered that with the sports setting on my new camera it will take pictures one right after the other. This is sequence at the free throw line.
Monday, January 04, 2010
The Christmas plane incident
The Republicans wasted no time in making this an issue. Didn’t even wait to find out what the facts were. This shows Obama and the Democrats are soft on terrorism. I hate to say this but this would have happened if John McCain had been president. This is a problem with the bureaucrats in the government. Not with people at the top. Although I will say Napolitano remark about how the system worked were well just wrong.
Another thing about this incident was the way the media coverage. The leading thread to many of their stores was how concerned holiday travelers were over this. I flew back to DC a couple of days after this. I have to say that this was not forefront in my mind. What was was if I was going to get home the same day. Would my flights be delayed? Not that there would be a terrorist on the plane.
The other consequence of this even is the move to full body scanners being put in all airports. Actually more like there being planned on being put at all airports. There's a report today in the Post about how the TSA is trying to reassure people about privacy concerns:
Last week, the TSA launched a public relations offensive to convince passengers that its latest checkpoint innovation will make airports more secure. "It's a promising technology," spokeswoman Kristen Lee said. "It's designed to detect anomalies."The article goes on to say:
And, experts say, explosives can go undetected even in a full-body screening if potential terrorists conceal them in body cavities.
"It's definitely not a silver bullet," Carafano said. "There's a way to beat it. It's called a 'booty bomb,' where you actually insert the explosive inside the human being and then you detonate the explosive with a cellphone."
So is the next step we have to have an x-ray to get on the plane of perhaps some sort of full body cavity search.
There are a couple of things that need to be addressed here and I think they have to a certain extent. The TSA agent viewing the scan does not see the passenger in the scanner. The TSA agent is in another room. Once the passenger is cleared, the image is erased. Also it sounds like images cannot be saved. There need to be rules set up for any potential abuse. Like if someone some how does save an image.
The bottom line for me is will this really make us safer. I think it will. But I have one more general concern, are we relying too much on technology to keep us safe. I fear we may get to the point where we feel technology can solve our problems and forget the human factor involved.
On a Lighter Note
I saw an add for Maaco talking about a president's sale. President's Day isn't for six weeks.