Friday, November 30, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Contrast the experience of Americans with that of Orientals. Half the passengers in the plane from Paris to London were Oriental and were weighed down with packages. About 30-40% of the guests at our hotel in Paris were from Japan, China, etc.
Hell is traveling by airplane. An inner circle of hell can be found at Heathrow. Purgatory is a buffet breakfast at a popular 1000 room hotel.
Paris may just be the most beautiful city in the world. Is it because they seem to have been civic-minded for centuries? At the same time, the police have to accompany firefighters to some some sections of Paris.
Boating on the Rhine is a lot more interesting than boating on the Rhone.
Observing a true business team at a 50-seat bistro, Le Paradis on Rue du Maine in Paris. Whoever was free cleaned the tables. The bartender served drinks at your table. The owner delivered the meal. The waitress made drinks. Someone just automatically did whatever had to be done at that moment. Best of all was the price: a three course lunch with a carafe of wine for $55 including tip, a complementary Sangria to start and a complementary brandy to end.
The lack of SUVs and the predominance of small vehicles. I guess gas at $8 a gallon may have some effect on what we drive.
A true vacation, as I hardly ever thought about our 21st century world. Now, it's back to the salt mines.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Fortunately, we won't be traveling by train, nor will we be in Paris for 10 days. Perhaps the transportation strike will be over by then.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Derrick's article focuses on those who served on the USS Calhoun County, whose job it was to dump radioactive and other waste into the ocean in which my kids and grandkids swim, the Atlantic. The fact that the ship was involved with radioactive materials is something that each claimant has to prove, although the ships records clearly prove that the ship was dealing with radioactive materials. There is even a document confirming that the Navy's attempts to remove radioactive contamination had failed and the ship should be sunk. Apparently, the system of processing claims is based on the premise that only evidence produced by the military is accepted. Evidence found in the National Archives, for example, will not typically be considered and its merits evaluated.
Is this really how we want our veterans to be treated?
Sunday, November 11, 2007
I wonder what the drop in manufacturing's share of corporate earnings has been.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Our leaders seem to believe that we should support those 'democratic' nations that vote the way we want them to.
Friday, November 09, 2007
Note that use of the word 'give' in the previous sentence. Unlike much of our aid to other countries, aid to Pakistan is not funneled through AID or some other agency; it's paid directly to Pakistan. And the only accounting is at an annual meeting which is secret. So, we have no idea how this money is being spent. We do know, however, that the military owns a fair share of Pakistan's economy. Is there a connection?
Pakistan ranks fourth in the amount of aid we have given other countries since 9/11. We've given $10.5 billion that can be traced. Only Israel, Egypt and Jordan have received more.
Then, you read a report about our relationship with Pakistan. The report, entitled "A Perilous Course ", by the Center for Strategic and International Studies argues that we have not been operating with a strategic goal(s) in mind; things have been very much ad-hoc and not at all aware of the importance of the relationship for at at least the next twenty-five years.
1. No-one can present himself directly to another of our friends. There must be a third person to do it.
2. Never look at the wives of friends.
3. Never be seen with cops.
4. Don't go to pubs and clubs.
5. Always being available for Cosa Nostra is a duty - even if your wife's about to give birth.
6. Appointments must absolutely be respected.
7. Wives must be treated with respect.
8. When asked for any information, the answer must be the truth.
9. Money cannot be appropriated if it belongs to others or to other families.
10. People who can't be part of Cosa Nostra: anyone who has a close relative in the police, anyone with a two-timing relative in the family, anyone who behaves badly and doesn't hold to moral values.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
The recruiting problem is particularly acute with regard to officers. The Army needs 3500 more than they have
It's a start. Will there be any more overrides? I'm not optimistic.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
There was one small problem in this valuation process: 90% of CDOs were rated AAA by Moody's etal, yet far fewer than 90% of corporate bonds were rated AAA.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
One reason might be because it appears as though the law was violated when new commissioners were appointed. The law says that no more than half of the commissioners can come from one political party. Yet, the commission consists of two Democrats, four Republicans and two others who were Republicans when appointed but changed to Independent just before two new commissioners - Republicans both - were appointed. The ability to violate the law was approved by Alberto's DOJ, which could not say no to George W.
Since the new commissioners have come on board, the commission has pulled back from many hearings that used to be held to discover the facts. I know that many conservatives believe that they know all the facts and do not have to test their theories against reality. I just don't think that this is what a civil rights commission should be doing with our money.
Will we get thirty years out of the F-22, the successor to the F-15 and the most expensive fighter plane yet? Critics think its design is outdated and geared to the Cold War.
Monday, November 05, 2007
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Which is the real AARP mind?
I'm certain that some of this work that has been earmarked is of decent quality and of use to this country. But, why do we need a third National Drug Intelligence Center at a cost of $509,000,000? And why does it have to be located in Johnstown, PA? Is that really a hotbed of drug use for the nation?
Of what use is the National Defense Center for Environmental Excellence when it gives $350,000,000 to the 'non-profit' Concurrent Technologies, also of Johnstown, PA, and there is no way to measure the results we got from this money?
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Of course, Betts has to address the argument that the share of GDP spent on defense today is quite a bit less than that of the Cold War days. Betts points out that such an argument is one-sided in that it focuses only on spending and does not consider the "scope of commitments, the choice of strategy, and the degree of risk accepted", all of which are relevant to the issue. Further, the defense budget has increased at an annual rate greater than 6% in the past ten years; that's larger than any other decade since WWII.
Betts takes the straightforward position that the military does not always need the latest and greatest weapons; it needs weapons that can counter the enemies' capabilities. He considers finding terrorists as being a major challenge; what is needed is intelligence and special ops, not a hydrogen bomb.
Betts worries that we may be investing a huge amount of money in weapons that, when needed, will be technologically obsolete. And we've seen that our belligerent attitude has generated a fair amount of hostility and resistance to us around the world.