Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Veterans and suicide

Some interesting and disturbing facts from a Veterans Affairs press release:

Veterans are about 20% more likely than non-veterans to kill themselves.
Female veterans are 250% more likely than female non-vets to do so.

Some quotes:
“This report is unprecedented in its comprehensive analysis of suicide rates among all U.S. Veterans,” VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin.
“Rates of suicide were highest among male OEF/OIF/OND veterans ages 18 to 29 and decreased with age” — referring to Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn.

How much will Trump get when he retires?

Funds we pay retired presidents is probably a little more than you are getting from your lifetime of work. The funds include a nice pension and money to pay for staff, travel, an office, postage and supplies and Secret Service protection for themselves and their spouse. 

Clinton did much better than that by giving speeches, a lot to the Wall Street crowd. In just his first two months out of office he made almost $1.5 million. Some of his speeches brought in as much as $500,000. Then, there are the book royalties.

Now we learn that Obama is walking down the same path. He's made about $400,000 for each speech to Northern Trust Corp., Cantor Fitzgerald and  Carlyle Group LP.  And he and Michelle  will receive upwards of $65 million from Penguin Random House to publish their respective memoirs.

Do you think any of their predecessors made anywhere near that money?

The Media and Natural Disasters

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Is it only New York City apartments?

Apartment house developers in NYC have gone wild in offering amenities to residents. It's possible that part of the reasoning is to offset the fact that, since the mid-1990s, the average size of rental units has dropped to about 900 square feet from more than 1,000 square feet. If you're thinking of moving, here are some of the amenities offered:

rock ’n’ roll rehearsal rooms, 
Imax theaters, 
bike-repair stations, 
stargazing sessions, 
woodworking shops, 
greenhouses for growing herbs, 
yoga classes for dogs, 
wine cellars,
music rehearsal space that offers use of a drum kit, karaoke machine and Fender electric guitar,
a gym, 
golf simulator,
Porsche bicycles that can be borrowed for rides of up to 12 hours, 
a “lifestyle director” who intends to book rock bands and comedians for in-house performances, in addition to planning other get-to-know-your-neighbor activities.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Who's making the good but not great money

Rating job satisfaction

Who pays?

The CIA speaks.....

...and Harvard acts. The day after Harvard selected Chelsea Manning as a Visiting Fellow, Mike Morrell, former deputy director of the CIA, resigned as a fellow in protest of Manning's nomination. Then, Mike Pompeo, the current head of the CIA, withdrew from a Harvard forum, also in protest.

The reason given by Douglas W. Elmendorf, the dean of the Harvard Kennedy School? “I see more clearly now that many people view a visiting fellow title as an honorific, so we should weigh that consideration when offering invitations.”

Why didn't the CIA claim about the quality of  a few other fellows: Sean Spicer,Corey Lewandoski, Jason Chafetz, Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Some Swiss laws re animals

From an essay, "10 Reasons Switzerland Is a Great Place to Be a Pet" by Laura Burge:
Guinea pigs, parrots, and goldfish must have companions, and matchmaking services for guinea pigs have been formed.
Cats need to be able to interact with other cats or at least see other cats from their homes.
Fish also must experience natural day and night cycles.
Rabbits must be able have privacy in their enclosures. In this sense, privacy is a freedom and many other animals other than rabbits also need "to be able to get away from it all" when they choose to do so.
Before bringing a dog into a new home, a person must provide a certificate of competence demonstrating that they know how to deal with and treat dogs. If they can prove that they’ve already had a dog, though, they’re off the hook.
Dogs also must be exercised regularly and be off leash as much as possible. They also must be able to run freely for at least five hours a day and clipping their ears and tails is forbidden.

I think it's a real animal

When will we accept reality

William Astore, a retired lieutenant colonel, has an excellent article on our military, The American Military Uncontained: Out Everywhere and Winning Nowhere, which describes what I feel is our inability to see our military for what it is - a loser. We have not won a war since WWII.  Here are some non-contiguous excerpts:
When it comes to the “world’s greatest military,” the news has been shocking. Two fast U.S. Navy ships colliding with slow-moving commercial vessels with tragic loss of life. An Air Force that has been in the air continuously for years and yet doesn’t have enough pilots to fly its combat jets. Ground troops who find themselves fighting “rebels” in Syria previously armed and trained by the CIA. Already overstretched Special Operations forces facing growing demands as their rates of mental distress and suicide rise. Proxy armies in Iraq and Afghanistan that are unreliable, often delivering American-provided weaponry to black markets and into the hands of various enemies. All of this and more coming at a time when defense spending is once again soaring and the national security state is awash in funds to the tune of nearly a trillion dollars a year.
Too few ships are being deployed for too long. Too few pilots are being worn out by incessant patrols and mushrooming drone and bombing missions. Special Operations forces (the “commandos of everywhere,” as Nick Turse calls them) are being deployed to far too many countries -- more than two-thirds of the nations on the planet already this year -- and are involved in conflicts that hold little promise of ending on terms favorable to Washington. Meanwhile, insiders like retired General David Petraeus speak calmly about “generational struggles” that will essentially never end. To paraphrase an old slogan from ABC’s “Wide World of Sports,” as the U.S. military spans the globe, it’s regularly experiencing the agony of defeat rather than the thrill of victory.
One option -- the most logical -- is never seriously considered in Washington: to make deep cuts in the military’s operational tempo by decreasing defense spending and downsizing the global mission, by bringing troops home and keeping them there. This is not an isolationist plea. The United States certainly faces challenges, notably from Russia (still a major nuclear power) and China (a global economic power bolstering its regional militarily strength). North Korea is, as ever, posturing with missile and nuclear tests in provocative ways. Terrorist organizations strive to destabilize American allies and cause trouble even in “the homeland.”

Such challenges require vigilance. What they don’t require is more ships in the sea-lanes, pilots in the air, and boots on the ground. Indeed, 16 years after the 9/11 attacks it should be obvious that more of the same is likely to produce yet more of what we’ve grown all too accustomed to: increasing instability across significant swaths of the planet, as well as the rise of new terror groups or new iterations of older ones, which means yet more opportunities for failed U.S. military interventions.
Since the early 1990s, largely unconstrained by peer rivals, America’s leaders have acted as if there were nothing to stop them from doing as they pleased on the planet, which, as it turned out, meant there was nothing to stop them from their own folly. We witness the results today. Prolonged and disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Interventions throughout the Greater Middle East (Libya, Syria, Yemen, and beyond) that spread chaos and destruction. Attacks against terrorism that have given new impetus to jihadists everywhere. And recently calls to arm Ukraine against Russia. All of this is consistent with a hubristic strategic vision that, in these years, has spoken in an all-encompassing fashion and without irony of global reach, global power, and full-spectrum dominance.
In short, America’s troops are out everywhere and winning nowhere
Incessant warfare represents the end of democracy. I didn’t say that, James Madison did. I firmly believe, though, in words borrowed from President Dwight D. Eisenhower, that “only Americans can hurt America." So how can we lessen the hurt? By beginning to rein in the military. A standing military exists -- or rather should exist -- to support and defend the Constitution and our country against immediate threats to our survival. Endless attacks against inchoate foes in the backlands of the planet hardly promote that mission. Indeed, the more such attacks wear on the military, the more they imperil national security.

House stealing

This may be a first but a house was stolen in Australia this week. Well, it wasn't a full-size houses; it was one of those "tiny houses". The house was intended to draw customers to a timber business and, perhaps, become a product next year.

The thief was caught after having driven the house 900 miles.

Chainsaw Nun

Read this

I don't normally publish e-mails sent to me and hundreds of others. But, this one is particularly relevant and good. It is by Charley Reese, a reporter who just retired from the Orlando Sentinel. It was sent to me by a friend from Plymouth, MA.

Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.

Have you ever wondered, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, WHY do we have deficits? 

Have you ever wondered, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, WHY do we have inflation and high taxes? 

You and I don't propose a federal budget. The President does. 

You and I don't have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does. 

 You and I don't write the tax code, Congress does. 

 You and I don't set fiscal policy, Congress does. 

 You and I don't control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank does. 

 One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one President, and nine Supreme Court justices equates to 545 human beings out of the 300 million are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country. I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. 

In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private, central bank. 

 I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a President to do one cotton-picking thing. I don't care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator's responsibility to determine how he votes. Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party. 

 What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker, who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits. The President can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it. The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes. 

 Who is the speaker of the House now? He is the leader of the majority party. He and fellow House members, not the President, can approve any budget they want. If the President vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they agree to. 

 It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted -- by present facts -- of incompetence and irresponsibility. I can't think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to those 545 people. 

When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist. If the tax code is unfair, it's because they want it unfair. If the budget is in the red, it's because they want it in the red. If the Army and Marines are in Iraq and Afghanistan it's because they want them in Iraq and Afghanistan ... 

If they do not receive social security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it's because they want it that way. 

 There are no insoluble government problems. Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power. Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like "the economy," "inflation," or "politics" that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do. Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible. They, and they alone, have the power. They, and they alone, should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses, provided the voters have the gumption to manage their own employees... 

We should vote all of them out of office and clean up their mess! 

What you do with this article now that you have read it... is up to you. This might be funny if it weren't so true. Be sure to read all the way to the end: 

Tax his land, Tax his bed, Tax the table, at which he's fed. 
Tax his tractor, Tax his mule, Teach him taxes are the rule. 
Tax his work, Tax his pay, he works for peanuts anyway! 
Tax his cow, Tax his goat, Tax his pants, Tax his coat. Tax his ties, Tax his shirt, Tax his work, 
Tax his dirt. Tax his tobacco, Tax his drink, Tax him if he tries to think. 
Tax his cigars, Tax his beers, If he cries tax his tears. Tax his car, Tax his gas, Find other ways to tax his ass. 
Tax all he has, then let him know that you won't be done till he has no dough. 

When he screams and hollers; then tax him some more, tax him till he's good and sore. Then tax his coffin, Tax his grave, Tax the sod into which he's laid... Put these words upon his tomb, "Taxes drove me to my doom..." When he's gone, do not relax, it's time to apply, the Inheritance tax. 

Accounts Receivable Tax Building Permit Tax CDL license Tax Cigarette Tax Corporate Income Tax Dog License Tax Excise Taxes Federal Income Tax Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA) Fishing License Tax Food License Tax Fuel Permit Tax Gasoline Tax (currently 44.75 cents per gallon) Gross Receipts Tax Hunting License Tax Inheritance Tax Inventory Tax IRS Interest Charges IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax) Liquor Tax Luxury Taxes Marriage License Tax Medicare Tax Personal Property Tax Property Tax Real Estate Tax Service Charge Tax Social Security Tax Road Usage Tax Recreational Vehicle Tax Sales Tax School Tax State Income Tax State Unemployment Tax (SUTA) Telephone Federal Excise Tax Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Taxes Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax Telephone Recurring and Nonrecurring Charges Tax Telephone State and Local Tax Telephone Usage Charge Tax Utility Taxes Vehicle License Registration Tax Vehicle Sales Tax Watercraft Registration Tax Well Permit Tax Workers Compensation Tax 

Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago; our nation was the most prosperous in the world. 

We had absolutely no national debt, had the largest middle class in the world, and Mom, if agreed, stayed home to raise the kids. 

What in the heck happened? Can you spell 'politicians?' 

 I hope this goes around THE USA at least 545 times!!! 

YOU can help it get there!!! 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Fake News?

Harvard has appointed Chelsea Manning and Sean Spicer as visiting fellows for this school year. Supposedly, the reasoning is as follows: 

"Broadening the range and depth of opportunity for students to hear from and engage with experts, leaders and policy-shapers is a cornerstone of the Institute of Politics,” said Bill Delhunt, acting director of the institute at the Harvard Kennedy School. “We welcome the breadth of thought-provoking viewpoints on race, gender, politics and the media.” 

I find this very hard to believe.

September 14

It is not fake news. They join such luminaries as Corey Lewandoski, Jason Chafetz, Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough.

Why What Happened

Based on Hillary Clinton's latest book, "What Happened", the BBC has an excellent summary of the factors Hillary thinks negatively effected her campaign. Here are the factors:

James Comey
Vladimir Putin
Barack Obama
The Media
Bernie Sanders
Jill Stein
White Resentment
Hillary Clinton

For the reasons why, click here.

Hitching a ride in Canada

A coyote darted in front of a car driving down the road in Alberta at a reasonably fast clip. The driver heard a "crunch", and thought she had killed it. Twenty miles later a construction worker flagged the driver down at a traffic light and told her it was alive and "embedded" in the car. "When I got out to look, this poor little guy was looking up and blinking at me," she said on Facebook.

What is this?

In London they call it a fatberg. In the words of The Guardian, "it's a congealed mass of fat, wet wipes and nappies" that weighs 130 tons, is over 270 yards long and is blocking the sewage system. It will take three weeks to break it up.


For most of us, sand means beach. Howsomever, sand and gravel are now the most-extracted materials in the world. Sand is a key ingredient for concrete, roads, glass and electronics. Massive amounts of sand are mined for land reclamation projects, shale gas extraction and beach re-nourishment programs. 

In 2010, the world mined about 11 billion tons of sand just for construction. In the United States alone, production and use of construction sand and gravel was valued at $8.9 billion in 2016, and production has increased by 24 percent in the past five years. Further some scientists think that the published numbers for extraction and use are grossly underestimated. This is the result of under-reporting and failure to include non-construction purposes such as hydraulic fracturing and beach nourishment. Sand extraction is so popular that organized crime groups in India, Italy and elsewhere now deal in it.

This over-exploitation of global supplies of sand damages the environment, endangers communities, causes shortages and promotes violent conflict. Mining too much sand physically alters rivers and coastal ecosystems, increases suspended sediments and causes erosion. It can also negatively affect a variety of animals, including fish, dolphins, crustaceans and crocodiles. And it can impact us in bad ways. Beaches and wetlands buffer coastal communities against surging seas. Increased erosion resulting from extensive mining makes these communities more vulnerable to floods and storm surges.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Businessman President

It must be fraudulent

That's what Wichita's Emprise Bank must have said when Sattar Ali, an Iraqi-American citizen who moved to the United States in 1993, gave the bank a check for $151,000 from the sale of his family’s old house in Michigan. A few minutes after he first presented tellers with the check, he was in handcuffs. When the police took him to their car, he found his wife and daughter there and they were all taken to police headquarters.

Ali says, “No one told me why I was being arrested until we were being released. They didn’t read me rights or anything.” He also says, "And I told them I don't need it until I find a house. So keep the check with you, verify, take your time." "Simply we were just going there to deposit a check. We were not asking for money." large check came from someone with his name and not someone named “James or Robert.” Ali was puzzled with why the bank couldn't seem to verify the check but police did.

Ali, who along with his wife and children are American citizens, lived in Wichita from 1998 to 2008, and was returning to get his doctorate in engineering from Wichita State, where his eldest son is a freshman.

What the iPhone hath wrought