Wednesday, April 28, 2010

New Perspective on Immigration Debate

There's been a lot written and said about Arizona's new statute requiring law enforcement officials to actually enforce the laws related to illegal aliens. However, here's a story that gives a new perspective on the debate.

Six months ago I met the surviving members of the Lopez family. Once I heard the tragic story of how they were orphaned by a mudslide in Mexico that left them with little more than the sombreros on their heads, my heart melted and I could not help but reach out to embrace them.

Accordingly, in defiance of United States immigration policies, I have taken them into my home and given them a semblance of the family they tragically lost.

While that action has been tremendously gratifying, it has not come without significant personal hardship and sacrifice. The cost of providing for the needs of seven new family members has been substantial.

But we need to remember that we are a nation of immigrants. It may not be wise to close the door just because we are fortunate enough to already be inside. Consider the emotional rewards that would be yours just by opening your heart and your home to likes of the Lopez orphans, all seven of which are pictured below.





Monday, April 26, 2010

Tolerance is a One-Way Street

The latest controversy over the depiction of the Muslim prophet Mohamed is distressingly familiar. I'm not a big fan of South Park, but I do support their right to offend everyone, regardless of race, color, or creed. Apparently, however, not all Muslims are as tolerant. Neither are the grand pooh-bahs who rule the Comedy Central television network, which is South Park's home.

This reminds one of the furor over Mohamed cartoons in a Danish newspaper (cartoon link here), death threats to Salmon Rushdie for his portrayal of Mohamed in a novel, and the gruesome murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh as a result of a short film he made about Muslim forced marriages.

Evidently it's okay for the lame stream media to make bogus claims about abusive language used at Tea Party rallies, and for former democrap presidents to liken Tea Party members to domestic terrorists who bombed the federal office building in Oklahoma City. But they're strangely silent when it comes to Muslim intolerance. Why might that be?

Well, perhaps because osama-oops-I-mean-obama is quietly courting Muslims. Not sure why - they don't have much political clout. But the loser-in-chief has directed his lackeys to use "violent extremism" in place of "jihad" or "Islamic terrorism," and has directed DHS head Janet Napolitano to end a policy of extra screening for passengers from mostly Muslim countries flying to the U.S.

Makes sense. After all, those Norwegians are just as big a threat as the Muslims who crashed planes all over the east coast on 9/11. And God knows the Japanese have a bad habit of trying to blow up planes with their shoes. And let's not forget the English, who stuff their underwear with explosives.

Home Stretch

In a mere three weeks this agonizingly long semester will be over. For some reason this one seems to have stretched out much more than past ones. But I have given my last lecture. All that's left is sitting through 3 classes worth of case study presentations, then one pre-final review, and then the final. And that'll be all she wrote for the academic side of things.

Unfortunately, on the administrative sides the bozos who run this place (clowns in charge of the circus...) are panicking now because they failed to exercise any foresight, leadership, and/or control during the school year. Now they're up against some hard deadlines and consequently cramming a mess of meetings into the little time left. I have little choice but to attend most of them. I'll sit in the back like a good little boy and not say a word, because every word leads to a torrent of more words, even if it's just to say they agree. God, what a monumental waste of time.

It reminds me of congress...

P.S. - When I got into this line of work, one of my early mentors told me three best things about being a college professor were June, July, and August. He was truly a wise man.

Friday, April 23, 2010

I Don't Get Paid Enough II

Following up yesterday's post, here's a few more excerpts from student projects.
"Using the GPS shows you the road on how to get to your destiny."
Isn't technology wonderful? Not only does it get you to your destination, it tells your future."
"iPad will combat the problem with a 10 hour battery life which will get through most cramp legging plane rides."

Right idea. Just needs a little work on the adjectives.
Unfortunately, it's not just the students. I'm wrapping up my second year here at Deep-in-the-Heart-of-South-Texas University. I recently had to complete a self-evaluation form for my first year (nothing like timely feedback). Since this was my first time filling out the form I wanted to make sure I did everything right. Hence the following email exchange between me and my department chair.
Q (Me): On p. 1 of the evaluation form there are three column headings: Class; Enrollment; and Grades. The first two are self-explanatory, but I'm not sure what the third signifies. Is it grade distribution (number of A's, B's, etc.), is it some score from the student evaluations, or is it something else?

A (Dept. Chair): The third column is usually left blank. I have never filled it in the many years that I have submitted the form. Of the forms I have received so far, they are all blank. I am not sure what the precise purpose is but I would leave it untouched if I were you.
Sigh...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I Don't Get Paid Enough

Grading 70+ student projects over the next few days, so don't expect much. After seeing what some of them wrote, I certainly don't....
"The recent success of the Iceland volcano…"

I gave 'em partial credit for being up on current events.

"Back when I was younger we would have to submit a research paper by actually working hands on and digging into books. In today’s world there is no digging for research everything is in our fingertips."

A little trouble with prepositions, or a smart-phone addict?

"Our research is just a click away we no longer have to read a story to see what it is about. We just google the story and we get many websites with synopsis and even reviews."

Ah yes, why bother reading anything or thinking for yourself? Just depend on the wisdom of the masses to tell you what to think. Must be a democrat...

"The article helped me realize how you can never fully understand our computer programs."

Kind of sad, considering that this is an Information Systems course.
Actually, that last one explains a lot of things...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Failed State?

Perhaps the primary responsibility a government has is to protect its citizens. If a government is incapable of performing this most basic function, then arguably it is a failed state. Which brings us to Mexico.

The drug cartels are now burning out Mexican citizens - torching entire towns - to strengthen their grasp on lucrative drug smuggling corridors leading to the U.S. Not only is the Mexican government incapable of protecting its citizens from the cartel scum, it doesn't even try to stem the flood of illegal immigrants from Mexico to the U.S. In fact, the Mexican side of the border economy depends on the flow of drugs and people heading across the border.
"Before arriving at La Sierrita, a migrant looking to cross this section of the border must pass through Altar, also in Sonora state. Once a sleepy agricultural outpost, Altar has reorganized its economy around human smuggling. Rows of stores sell backpacks, canned goods and electrolyte-infused soft drinks, while headhunters slip up behind the shoppers, whispering that they can arrange for a competent guide and a safe journey into the U.S."[link here]
So what can be done to help protect the border. Well, basic economics is a good place to start. Increase the risks, or decrease the rewards, and illegal activities will decline. In Mexico's case, however, this is being done by the cartels, not the government.
"Arrests in the Tucson border area were down by nearly a third between October and April, according to U.S. border officials. The Mexican government reports a 25% dip in its emigration rate. The recession is largely to blame, but analysts in the U.S. say the lack of jobs offers an incomplete explanation for why immigration in the region is apparently dropping. Mexico's drug cartels have become a more formidable presence here, taxing the coyotes and threatening their human cargo as they make their way to the border." [same link]
In fact, the cartels are now muscling in on the coyotes, expanding their smuggling operations to include humans as well as drugs.
"As drug smuggling groups find their profits pinched by tighter border enforcement, they have moved into human smuggling, according to U.S. law enforcement officials. And with good reason: The average migrant pays about $1,300 to $1,800 to be smuggled past the bolstered Border Patrol as well as fences, surveillance towers and other new security measures. What once was a wildcat operation with marginal profits has become big business." [one more time]
Indeed, the smuggling business has evolved into kidnapping. Phoenix, AZ, my wife's home town, has become the kidnapping capital of the country. I'm not sure how much attention our federales pay to this, since it's mainly illegal immigrants who are affected.
"Over the last several years, immigrant and drug smugglers have snatched their rivals, associates or their family members as a way to collect unpaid debt for lost trafficking loads, make quick money from crews flush with cash or as retaliation for earlier abductions.

Ransoms range from $30,000 to $1 million and sometimes include demands for large drug loads.

A few kidnapping victims are killed, and others face a range of abuse, such as having their legs burned with clothing irons, their arms tied to the ceiling or their fingers broken with bricks."
In the absence of any U.S. federal action, Arizona officials have decided enough is enough.
"Arizona lawmakers passed a controversial immigration bill on Monday requiring police in the state that borders Mexico to determine if people are in the United States illegally...

The law requires state and local police to determine the status of people if there is "reasonable suspicion" that they are illegal immigrants and to arrest people who are unable to provide documentation proving they are in the country legally."
Bottom line - economic forces are driving both illegal drugs and illegal immigrants from Mexico to the U.S. Mexico can't do anything to rein in the cartels. The U.S. federal government is unwilling to take the necessary steps to protect the border. It's ironic that the two entities taking steps to discourage illegal immigration are the Mexican drug cartels and the Arizona state government.

Since both countries lack the political will to do anything about this, at least at the national level, we must turn to economic countermeasures - increase the cost, and decrease the rewards. Some modest suggestions:
  • more physical barriers, at least along heavily traveled smuggling roues
  • greater law enforcement presence
  • increased surveillance - aerial drones, ground sensors, etc.
  • prison time instead of deportation for illegals
  • serious punishment for businesses that hire illegal aliens
  • elimination of the "anchor baby" citizenship provision
And what about amnesty, you ask? I'll address that in depth at some point in the future, but for now you'll just have to settle for this:
"According to this new bill that's tied up in the Senate, illegal immigrants who can prove they've been here for two years would be allowed to stay. So follow the logic here. If you can prove you broke the current law for two years, you've protected under the new law." --Jay Leno

Update: Will other states follow Arizona's lead in taking action against illegal immigrants? Stay tuned...

A Picture Is Worth 1000 Words
























(as Homer would say, click to embiggen)

Monday, April 19, 2010

What A Maroon!

Noted without comment: a recent poll indicates that 8 out of 10 Americans "don't trust the federal government and have little faith it can solve America's ills."
The survey found that just 22 percent of those questioned say they can trust Washington almost always or most of the time and just 19 percent say they are basically content with it. Nearly half say the government negatively affects their daily lives, a sentiment that's grown over the past dozen years.

"Trust in government rarely gets this low," said Andrew Kohut, director of the nonpartisan center that conducted the survey.

In a democracy built on the notion that citizens have a voice and a right to exercise it, the long-term consequences could prove to be simply unhealthy - or truly debilitating.
Well, maybe just one little comment...

When a former president states that anti-government rhetoric can lead to acts of domestic terrorism ("Clinton alludes to 1995 Oklahoma City bombing"), when the head of the Department of Homeland Security considers military veterans a threat and sics the FBI on us, and when the sitting U.S. president buries his head in the sand and refuses to admit that there is such a thing as "Islamist extremism," well then, Hell yes I don't trust the fools in D.C.

Who does that idiot think is stuffing their underwear full of explosives, sending suicide bombers to murder women and children, and - oh yeah - crashing planes into buildings? Non-Islamic extremists?

Bugs Bunny said it best:


Update: In addition to women and children, now those cowardly murdering Muslim assholes are killing donkeys in the name of Allah. What a perversion of religion, that they can somehow justify in their twisted little minds the slaughter of innocents to advance their befouled Weltanschauung.

Go Figure

Since a large chunk of the country is just beginning to emerge from a post-tax day hangover, it might be instructive to examine a few figures. A recent CNN poll indicates that 74% of Americans believe that "a lot" of their tax dollars are wasted by the government, and another 23% believe that "some" of their tax dollars are misspent. Only 3% believe that "not much" of their tax dollars are wasted. Put another way, 97% think that the government wastes anywhere from "some" to "a lot" of the money it collects in taxes. That figure is a little higher than I would have guessed, but the conclusion that government is not very efficient when it comes to managing money isn't terribly surprising.

The poll goes on to reveal that about half the country thinks the tax system is unfair, while the other half say it's fair. That feeling of unfairness results in 40% of the people being angry about the amount of taxes they pay, 36% are satisfied, and 24% don't feel strongly one way or the other.

Where it gets interesting is when we recall the fact that 47% of Americans don't pay any income tax.

To recap: 53% of Americans pay 100% of the income tax, 50% think the tax system is unfair, and 40% are angry about it. I'm surprised that last number is only (!?!) 40%.

The poll also indicates that 50% of Republicans say they're angry, but that figure drops to 44% among Independents and 29% among Democrats. Gee, I wonder which group pays most of the taxes, and which group gets a free ride with other people's money?

"The poll indicates growing public frustration with taxes over the past couple of decades."

"This is a significantly higher level of anger than existed during the 1980s" ... "In 1985, only 27 percent were angry about the amount of taxes they had to pay, possibly a reflection of the tax cuts that Ronald Reagan instituted in his first year in office."

Repeat after me: "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore."


Saturday, April 17, 2010

April Showers

I've lived in Central Texas for most of my life, and this is one of the best years I've ever seen for wildflowers. I had to drive up around Lake Buchanan yesterday, and it was amazing. The flowers along U.S. 281 were varied, plentiful, and colorful. But what really blew me away was the carpet of bluebonnets that flanked FM 2341 between Burnet and the lake.

Lush, dense, vivid - MS Word doesn't have the synonyms to do them justice. Unfortunately I didn't have a camera with me, and even if I did I doubt if I could have captured the scope and intensity of the blooms. The bluebonnets literally carpeted the shoulders of the road for miles.

For the last two years this part of the country has suffered under a terrible drought. Streams and creeks have dried up, rivers dwindled to a trickle, and area lakes were down 50% or more. But this winter and spring have been wetter than normal, and things are slowly getting back to normal. Botanists say the drought has helped the wildflowers, since competing plants are stunted and sparse. The wildflower seeds are able to lay dormant for several years, sprouting only when conditions are conducive to growth. So this year they sprouted with a vengeance. I don't know if it's due to an intelligent Creator, intelligent design, evolution, or random chance, but it's truly a marvelous sight to behold.

And believe it or not, some of the credit has to go to TxDOT (Texas Dept. of Transportation). They have a program of sowing wildflower seeds and suspending mowing during the spring, which contributes to the emergence and growth of native flowers and grasses. Of course, being a government agency they find other ways to waste our tax dollars. But in this instance, credit where credit is due.

The scenery was so delightful that I turned off talk radio and cranked up the tunes. I came home in such a good mood that my wife thought I'd been up to something...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

BAG It

In addition to today being Tax Day, it's also Buy A Gun Day (BAG Day).

BAG Day is much more fun than Tax Day. I must admit, however, that while I wholeheartedly support the concept, I am not participating this year. I am blessed with a reasonable amount of discretionary income and a wonderful, understanding wife. But as I noted earlier, I just came into possession of a new rifle. So instead of spending $$$ on another firearm, I blew invested a hunk of change in a new scope to top off the new rifle.

I had hoped to get it all together for today, but the rifle-scope combination requires non-standard mounting rings, which had to be special ordered. They should be here soon, and once everything is assembled I'll post pics and details.

In the meantime, I strongly urge everyone to amble on down to their favorite firearms store and stimulate the economy in a truly meaningful way. Right after you leave your local Tea Party rally, of course...

Tax Day

What can I say that hasn't been said by others (see excerpts and links below)?

Not much, other than to note that 47% of Americans pay no income tax.

At the same time, obama's approval rating is at 48%.

Coincidence? I think not.

















In many cases, those not paying taxes get money back from the IRS. Not a refund, mind you, but credits that exceed their withholding. In other words, Uncle Sam (read "you and me") are paying those folks for nothing more than basically living in these United States.

More insidiously, the government is taking money from those of us who do pay taxes and redistributing it to others as a form of social re-engineering: that is, people who behave in a certain way, or who purchase certain goods and services, are being rewarded at the expense of people who don't. As Scott Hodge points out:
The consequence of turning the tax code into a tool for social policy is that we now have a record 52 million filers off the income tax rolls...

The real issue is that millions of Americans no longer have any skin in the game and are becoming inoculated from the basic cost of government. To them, government seems free and politicians can easily convince them to support more and more spending because someone else is going to pay the tab. This trend deserves a broader national discussion than either party in Washington seems willing to engage in.
Sigh...

Other links worth checking out:

The Tax Foundation

Tax Analysts (nonprofit source for tax info)

A Brief Guide to the Flat Tax

Information About the Fair Tax

The Cato Institute's Explanation of Hong Kong's Tax System
(Hong Kong tax form is below - wouldn't that be a welcome change from the mess we have now.)















Final note: In recognition of Tax Day, a new book has been released that contains quotes - 'billions and billions' of quotes - about taxes. You can browse it on-line here. Samples below.
"A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can depend on the support of Paul." - George Bernard Shaw

"The wages of sin are death, but by the time taxes are taken out, it's just sort of a tired feeling." -- Paula Poundstone

"No one who has witnessed tax lobbyists' perennial infestation of Capitol Hill can ever again confuse the making of tax laws with the making of sausages: at least when you make sausages, you know the pigs won't be coming back." -- J. Mark Iwry
I feel the need for many, many Shiners...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Another "I want one"

I surely would like one of these Texas Grills to go with my Texas Flashlight...




















For those unfamiliar with BBQ Etiquette, here's a refresher.

When a man volunteers to BBQ the following chain of events are put into motion:

(1) The man obtains the meat.
(2) The woman buys the rest of the food.
(3) The man prepares the meat.
(4) The woman makes the salad, side dishes, and dessert.
(5) The woman collects the necessary cooking utensils and sauces, and takes them to the man, who is lounging beside the grill, beer in hand.
(6) The woman remains outside the compulsory three meter exclusion zone where the exuberance of testosterone and other manly bonding activities can take place without the interference of the woman.

Here comes the important part:
(7) THE MAN PLACES THE MEAT ON THE GRILL.

More routine....
(6) The woman goes inside to organize the plates and cutlery.
(7) The woman comes out to tell the man that the meat is looking great. He thanks her and asks if she will bring him another beer while he flips the meat.

Important part II:
(8) THE MAN TAKES THE MEAT OFF THE GRILL AND HANDS IT TO THE WOMAN.

More routine...
(9) The woman prepares the plates, salad, bread, utensils, napkins, sauces, and brings them to the table.

(10) After eating, the woman clears the table and does the dishes.

And most important of all:
(11) EVERYONE PRAISES THE MAN AND THANKS HIM FOR HIS COOKING EFFORTS.

(12) The man asks the woman how she enjoyed 'her night off ' and, upon seeing her annoyed reaction, concludes that there's just no pleasing some women!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Texas Flashlight

I want one I want one I want one I want one I want one I want one I want one I want one

Monday, April 12, 2010

Not Again!!!


One year ago obama broke protocol and bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia at the G-20 summit in London (April 2009).
















Then in Nov. 2009 he did it again when visiting Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.

Well guess what? Evidently the third time's the charm, as obama bows to Chinese President Hu Jintao at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington D.C. on Monday April 12, 2010.




















According to international protocol the President of the United States is both Head of State and Head of Government. As such, he is highest ranking dignitary in most settings (other world leaders generally do not hold both positions in their country). So by virtue of protocol and tradition, the U.S. President does not bow.

Unfortunately, the current loser-in-chief shows respect to just about everyone except the U.S. taxpayer...

We Have Seen The Future II

Here's an article published back in Jan. 2010. It looks at what the model for obamacare has done to the state of Massachusetts. Why on earth this wasn't part of the national debate on obamacare before Congress voted disgraces the lame stream media, the democraps, and anyone else involved in the process who was intellectually or politically dishonest enough to look the other way.

Here's an excerpt:
"In 2006, the state of Massachusetts passed a sweeping overhaul of the state’s health-care system. The system, which influenced the Obama administration’s plans for national reform, has since faced unexpected and unchecked growth in costs, both to the government and individuals, forcing the government to cut benefits and raise taxes. Now analysts say that without significant policy changes, the program’s long-term viability is in doubt."

I repeat the lessons learned:

1. The government screws up everything it touches.

2. Don't believe anything obama-reid-pelosi say.

3. If the repubs come anywhere close to nominating Romney they're even bigger idiots than the democraps.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

We Have Seen The Future...

... and it ain't pretty.

As Rich Lowry points out, obamacare has already debuted in in Massachusetts, and the reviews are in. To no one's surprise - or at least no one with a basic understanding of economics and human nature - costs have escalated far beyond initial projections, people are gaming the system by not purchasing health insurance until they need an expensive procedure, there aren't enough doctors to go around, and de facto rationing and price controls are in place.

Three lessons learned:

1. The government screws up everything it touches.

2. Don't believe anything obama-reid-pelosi say.

3. If the repubs come anywhere close to nominating Romney they're even bigger idiots than the democraps.

A Short History lesson

Over five thousand years ago, Moses said to the children of Israel "Pick up your shovel, mount your asses and camels, and I will lead you to the promised land."

Nearly 75 years ago, FDR said, "Lay down your shovels, sit on your asses and light up a camel. This is the promised land."

Now obama has stolen your shovel, taxed your asses, raised the price of camels, and mortgaged the promised land.

I was so depressed last night thinking about obamacare, the economy, lost jobs, Social Security, retirement funds, etc. that I called Lifeline, the suicide help line. Got a freakin' call center in Pakistan.

I told them I was suicidal. They all got excited and asked if I could drive a truck...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Who does he think he is...

... George Bush?



















This picture was actually taken at a Feb. 2007 campaign event, but I just now saw it.

Observation 1: It's telling that he's wearing a black hat, which after all is symbolic of bad guys.

Observation 2: That's the closest he'll ever get to being a cowboy.

Observation 3: We would all be better off if he would live by the Code of the West. There are many versions, but my favorite is the Lone Ranger's Creed.
I believe:
That to have a friend, a man must be one.
That all men are created equal and that everyone has within himself the power to make this a better world.
That God put the firewood there, but that every man must gather and light it himself.
In being prepared physically, mentally, and morally to fight when necessary for that which is right.
That a man should make the most of what equipment he has.
That "this government, of the people, by the people, and for the people," shall live always.
That men should live by the rule of what is best for the greatest number.
That sooner or later...somewhere...somehow...we must settle with the world and make payment for what we have taken.
That all things change, but the truth, and the truth alone lives on forever.
I believe in my Creator, my country, my fellow man.

Somehow I don't think obama subscribes to the Code of the West...

P.S. - Seeing the bozo-in-chief wearing a cowboy hat reminds me of the story about circle flies.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Senior Wedding

Jacob, age 92, and Rebecca, age 89, are all excited about their decision to get married. They go for a stroll to discuss the wedding, and on the way they pass a drugstore. Jacob suggests they go in.

Jacob addresses the man behind the counter:

"Are you the owner?"

The pharmacist answers, "Yes."

Jacob: "We're about to get married. Do you sell heart medication?"

Pharmacist: "Of course, we do."

Jacob: "How about medicine for circulation?"

Pharmacist: "All kinds."

Jacob: "Medicine for rheumatism?"

Pharmacist: "Definitely."

Jacob: "How about suppositories?"

Pharmacist: "You bet!"

Jacob: "Medicine for memory problems, arthritis and Alzheimer's?"

Pharmacist: "Yes, a large variety. The works."

Jacob: "What about vitamins, sleeping pills, Geritol, antidotes for Parkinson's disease?"

Pharmacist: "Absolutely."

Jacob: "Everything for heartburn and indigestion?"

Pharmacist: "We sure do."

Jacob: "You sell wheelchairs and walkers and canes?"

Pharmacist: "All speeds and sizes."

Jacob: "Adult diapers?"

Pharmacist: "Sure."

Jacob: "We'd like to use this store as our Bridal Registry."

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

World Class Rant

This had me spewing Shiner through my nose all over the keyboard the first time I read it.

After repeat readings, however, I began to get fired up.

Bring on November!!!

Warning - very, very adult language...

Time To Do Something

One of the things that disappointed me the most about Bush the Younger was his administration's neglect of this country's cybersecurity. osama-oops-I-mean-obama has failed to impress in this regard as well, dicking around with feel-good legislation at the expense of national security (both physical and cyber). We'll leave the discussion of unilateral disarmament, alienating allies, and porous borders for another time. Today we'll focus on the pathetic state of U.S. cybersecurity.

This is one of the few areas where I'll claim a modest amount of expertise. I've done some research and teaching on the topic. My primary concern is the lack of understanding and focus on the interrelated nature of this country's critical infrastructures, and the subsequent need to protect them.

Recent events have raised the fear of cyberwarfare and it's potential impacts on national security and daily life. This article discusses that possibility in more detail (excerpt below - also note that the links in the article lead to a more in-depth discussion of the relevant topic).
"Few events have crystallized U.S. fears over a cyber catastrophe, or brought on calls for a strategic response, more than the recent attacks against Google and more than 30 other tech firms.

The company's disclosure in January that it was attacked by China-based hackers -- and its subsequent decision to scale back operations there -- have stoked long-standing fears over the ability of cyber adversaries to penetrate commercial and government networks in the U.S.

If a full-fledged cyberwar were to break out, the nation's economy would be hit hard. Banks might not be able function, electricity, water, and other utilities could be shut off, air travel would almost certainly be disrupted, and communications would be spotty at best -- in a word, chaos."
Chaos? Well, think about it. How do you procure the basics of modern life? I'm guessing most of us pay for gas and groceries by using a credit or debit card. We get cash via an ATM card. Most retail establishments use information systems and networks to verify checks. The likelihood of these payment methods functioning during or after a cyber attack are minimal at best.

What about utilities? Delivery of electricity, water, and natural gas is controlled by SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) systems - industrial control systems that manage functions such as the monitoring and control of electricity generation and current flow, valves and pumps that regulate water, sewage, and natural gas pipelines, and so forth. SCADA systems, like much of the Internet, were initially designed for ease of use. Security was not a consideration. As a result, the system is rife with vulnerabilities.

Communications? What manages and controls TV, radio, telecommunications, cell phone networks, and the Internet? That's right - information systems and networks, all of which are vulnerable to a certain extent to outside threats.

Even the military is exposed. In recent testimony, U.S. Navy Admiral Robert Willard appeared before the U.S. House Armed Services Committee with an even stronger warning about cyber-threats posed by China.
"U.S. military and government networks and computer systems continue to be the target of intrusions that appear to have originated from within the PRC (People's Republic of China)," said Willard.

Willard testified on the military's operations in its Pacific command, which he said "faces increasingly active and sophisticated threats to our information and computer infrastructure."

These threats challenge our ability to operate freely in the cyber commons, which in turn challenges our ability to conduct operations during peacetime and in times of crisis," Willard said..."
No less a personage than Richard Clarke, former anti-terrorism czar under Presidents Bush and Clinton, rates the U.S. cyberwar capabilities below that of even North Korea, for God's sake.














(Higher is better)

So what can be done about this? Well, perhaps the federal government should refocus its attention on its primary duty - to protect this country and its citizens - rather than expanding give-away programs that make more people more dependent on handouts. After all, what good does it do to have a bunch of sheep contentedly grazing on the national commons if they're not protected from the wolves that will inevitably gather?

Academic references available on request...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Outsource This

Grading papers is one of those 'necessary evil' aspects of being a professor. It's somewhat like panning for gold - you process a lot of dross in order to find one or two nuggets. Granted, it could be worse. I can do it sitting down in a climate-controlled environment, often with a cold beverage or two at hand.

Still, it is mind-numbing and spirit-sapping to slog through paper after mediocre paper. I teach upperclassmen: college juniors and seniors whom one would presume have mastered the basics of communicating using the written word. Well, one would presume wrong. Most of them can't write a coherent sentence, much less a paragraph, much much less a string of cohesive paragraphs. What do they teach in high schools these days, anyway?

Now comes the innovative Indians, God bless 'em, with the latest in outsourcing convenience. If I'm so inclined I can now outsource the grading of papers.

"Lori Whisenant knows that one way to improve the writing skills of undergraduates is to make them write more. But as each student in her course in business law and ethics at the University of Houston began to crank out—often awkwardly—nearly 5,000 words a semester, it became clear to her that what would really help them was consistent, detailed feedback.

Her seven teaching assistants, some of whom did not have much experience, couldn't deliver. Their workload was staggering: About 1,000 juniors and seniors enroll in the course each year. "Our graders were great," she says, "but they were not experts in providing feedback."

That shortcoming led Ms. Whisenant, director of business law and ethics studies at Houston, to a novel solution last fall. She outsourced assignment grading..."
It's depressing that foreigners now have greater English composition skills than our own native-born American students. Not surprising, however. Why, you ask? Well, just ask yourself this.

Q: Who runs the schools?

A: The government.

Yes, the same folks who are running social security, medicare, and medicaid into the ground, the same people who operate the post office so well that FedEx and UPS are now corporate giants, the same organizations responsible for the efficiency and compassion of motor vehicle offices and the IRS, are the ones who 'educate' our young people.

I fear for our future...

Monday, April 5, 2010

obamacare: Succinct

Economic Rules from Ambulance Driver - a succinct yet comprehensive summary of obamacare.

Rule #1: If you subsidize a thing, people will use more of it.

Rule #2: When the cost of the subsidy inevitably becomes prohibitive, ration it. So that, you know, the people you initially wanted to use the service, can’t use the service as often as you promised them.

Rule #3: If rationing doesn’t cut costs, then slash payments to the people providing the services.

This is where we’re headed with our health care, folks.

Some Things Never Change

Here's osama-oops-I-mean-obama throwing out the first pitch of the 2010 baseball season. He throws like a sissy. I've got a wife and a 13 year old daughter who throw better than that. Hell, I've got a granddaughter who throws better.

One of the comments on YouTube about the video was priceless: "(He) throws like he governs: way to the left."





To illustrate that today's limp-wristed toss was no fluke, here's a comparison of o-loser and G-Dub throwing ceremonial first pitches. o's was from the 2009 All-Star game. Bush's was from the 2001 World Series.




















President Bush - First Pitch

  • 2-Seam Fastball. Will cut down-and away. The typical strikeout pitch.
  • Power-T position before the throw. Generates hip drive for max. velocity.
  • Eyes on the target.
  • Pitching hand cocked back so batter can’t see ball during delivery.

ASSESSMENT
Strike three – batter looking. Fastball looked inside coming towards plate then broke away on the inside corner.



























Obama – First Pitch
  • Palm ball. Comes in slow and doesn’t move.
  • No Power-T. Right hand hanging down towards dirt.
  • Eyes and mouth show fear that a batter will actually be in there to knock it 603 feet..
  • Pitching hand open so batter can see ball during delivery.

ASSESSMENT
This ball will be hit so far it will need a flight attendant.

*** SIDE-BY-SIDE COMPARISON ***

























Anything I add would be superfluous...

What's he on?

obama rambles and splutters for 17 minutes - 17 friggin' minutes!?! Are you kidding me? - when trying to answer a simple question. The Washington Post reports:
At a Q&A session at a public appearance to hype obamacare, a woman named Doris asked him if it was a "wise decision to add more taxes to us with the health care" package.

"We are over-taxed as it is," Doris said bluntly.

Obama started out feisty. "Well, let's talk about that, because this is an area where there's been just a whole lot of misinformation, and I'm going to have to work hard over the next several months to clean up a lot of the misapprehensions that people have," the president said.

He then spent the next 17 minutes and 12 seconds lulling the crowd into a daze. His discursive answer - more than 2,500 words long -- wandered from topic to topic, including commentary on the deficit, pay-as-you-go rules passed by Congress, Congressional Budget Office reports on Medicare waste, COBRA coverage, the Recovery Act, and Federal Medical Assistance Percentages... He talked about the notion of eliminating foreign aid (not worth it, he said). He invoked Warren Buffett, earmarks and the payroll tax that funds Medicare...

The full article is here.

I thought my wife was incapable of giving a simple answer to a simple question, but this bozo takes the cake. And he's supposed to be so eloquent, such a great speaker. I guess the teleprompter wasn't working...

Locusts

At some point over the weekend we had four 15-year old boys staying with us. At breakfast my wife was making pancakes as fast as she could and I was frying as much bacon in as short a time as humanly possible (fry, drain, repeat). After the locusts left the kitchen we totaled up the carnage: 2 lbs. bacon, 1 dozen eggs, no idea how many pancakes, 1 gallon milk, and 1 quart OJ - and for the adults, 2 cups of coffee and a couple of slugs of Kahlua. We just sat there and recovered for about 30 minutes.

It was like an invading horde swept through the kitchen, pillaging and plundering, and then rode off, leaving the shell-shocked survivors broken and battered. My wife keeps saying we'll miss them when they go off to college, but I'm not so sure...

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter

























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Where do Easter eggs come from?


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Not an Endorsement

If I had to pick two emblems/icons that symbolized my current feelings towards the three stooges currently destroying our country,

























it would be the Gadsden Flag from the Revolutionary War























and the "Come and Take It" flag from the Texas Revolution.

























Both exemplify the simple desire of many of us to just be left alone. If you want to provide goods and services for the masses, knock yourself out. But don't force me, under threat of fines or jail, to participate in your wealth-redistribution scheme. Why should I have to shell out my hard-earned $$$ to make you feel good? I'll make you a deal - you leave me alone, and I'll leave you alone.

Both flags are now available as t-shirts (well, isn't everything) from a variety of sources. These two examples come from here and here, respectively. (Note: I am not specifically endorsing any of these sites, nor do I have any sort of financial interest in or arrangement with them. I am merely using them as examples. Damn lawyers...).

Anyway, I've added them as must-wear items in my wardrobe. Public reaction has been mixed, but the 'atta-boys' so far outnumber the dirty looks from democraps. Not that I care...

Healthcare - An Analogy and A Parable

The analogy is courtesy of the Grouchy Old Cripple, who resurrected an old Mike Royko column in which Mike suggests that, in addition to universal health care, We the People are also entitled to universal legal services. Said services should be provided and administered in a similar manner as health care services, with one interesting twist. You can read the column here. (I've looked all over the internet and I can't find a better copy of the column. If anyone can provide a link to an improved version I'd be grateful.)

God, I miss Mike Royko. If you're not familiar with him you owe it to yourself to read his work. You can find some of his columns online, and there are a couple of collections of his columns in book form that are still available through Amazon or elsewhere.

The parable comes from Doctor Zero. It draws a parallel between a homeowners association mandating one form of cable TV for all members, regardless of the individual homeowner's desire. Highly recommended reading.

Final comment: in response to the libs' efforts to smear any and all opposition to obamacare as extremist and racist, bigarmwoman points out that
"... it is possible to believe that health care should be reformed, and yet oppose the bill that just passed without being a terrified racist. It is possible to do this because as a person who lives in the real world you may be a bit skeptical over claims that a bill which increases an entitlement by billions will somehow reduce a deficit, and you’re wondering where, exactly, this money is going to come from seeing as how we’re kind of BROKE and things are just a wee bit unsettled right now, economy-wise.

You may also be skeptical over the whole “We’ll pay for it by taxing people who aren’t YOU, no really, we promise,” line of speaking, partly because the promises kept track record from this administration isn’t all that great, and partly because hearing that makes you hearken back to another president saying, “Read my lips – no new taxes,” and you remember just how well THAT went.

You may also oppose the bill because you’re a bit put off by the manner in which it was written and passed..."
So many reasons to oppose it, so little reason on the "It's a good thing" side...


Update (4/5/10): The Lame Stream Media (LSM) likes to portray the tea party and right-wingers as out of control hate-mongers, but people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones bricks.
Bricks thrown through the windows of political offices. An ominous message left for a member of Congress. A party leader threatened with death.

Angry rhetoric is out of control, fueling hatred that will inevitably result in violence. When in the name of all that is good and progressive will liberals condemn the extremists in their midst?

You see, the bricks were thrown through the windows of Republican Party offices in Virginia and Michigan. The profanity-laced message left for Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Fla., was that she would “not live to see her next term.” The death threat was against House Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia.

Didn't read that in the LSM, did you? Check out the entire column here.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Snippets

Catching up on some things that I meant to post earlier, but somehow got sidetracked:

If Fidel Castro and the U.N. are for obamacare, then it must be good for us, regardless of what U.S. businesses and actual medical professionals think.
"Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro on Thursday declared passage of American health care reform "a miracle and a major victory for Obama's presidency..."

"The head of the U.N. World Health Organization on Wednesday praised U.S. healthcare reforms signed by President Barack Obama this week
..."

"In the wake of Washington's health-care overhaul, some companies are taking big one-time charges for anticipated costs, fanning tension with the administration over the legislation's impact on corporate America."
"A doctor who considers the national health-care overhaul to be bad medicine for the country posted a sign on his office door telling patients who voted for Barack Obama to seek care elsewhere."














So who ya gonna believe, those fat-cat corporate execs and lying doctors, or a commie dictator, the head of a U.N. agency, and of course osama-oops-I-mean-obama?

To see more restrained comments from other medical professionals, check out Docs4PatientCare, a grassroots organization with an emphasis on allowing medical professionals to make decisions about their patients' health care, not government bureaucrats.

And if you'd like a T-shirt that encapsulates your/my/our position on obamacare, go here (thanks to The Whited Sepulchre for the link).

























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In other news, it appears that U.S. workers have ratcheted up their productivity over the last 18-24 months. Most people would think this is a good thing, right? Guess again. In typical liberal/government fashion, these more productive workers are being blamed for holding back job growth and delaying the economic recovery that obama and his cronies swore would result from their bloated stimulus bills and other faulty policies and legislation.
"It is an episode that we're going to -- we, economists in general -- are going to want to understand better and look at for a long time," Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said..."
Well, let's see. A government worker who can't understand the tax code also can't figure out why private sector employees might work harder to save their jobs when people are getting laid off left and right. Could it be that government workers have no worries about layoffs, and hence no motivation to be productive? Nah, that couldn't be it...

* * * * * * * * *

Finally, on the lighter side (sort of), there are reports that female suicide bombers are getting breast implants filled with explosives. This makes the explosives virtually impossible to detect by current screening procedures. I don't know how the TSA will react, but I predict a dramatic increase in the number of volunteers for manual patdowns...

Okay, it's Friday evening. There's a Shiner out there calling my name...

Happy Easter.