Countdown

31 December, 2007

Happy 2008!

Another year is gone, and a new one is upon us. I wanted to take a few moments to look back at a year gone, and forward to the next.

What were some of the big news stories that happened this year? A few things stick out..

  • Barry Bonds at the pinnacle of the steroid era of baseball
  • The diaper wearing astronaut
  • The fires of So-Cal
  • The assassination of Bhutto
  • The K-Fed and Britney saga
  • 16-0 (and almost 0-16)
  • The writers strike
Whatever you will remember '07 for, whatever you are looking forward to in '08, it is what you make of it.

Here's to a great '08!

Leave comments with what you think is the biggest story of 07 and predictions for 08.




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23 December, 2007

Merry Christmas

I wanted to take this chance to wish you and yours a wonderful Christmas Season. A friend of mine sent me this, it is a Christmas Medley that is done quite well.

Enjoy, and thanx for reading! :)




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Is it really necessary?

In these days of not trusting the police, TASER has introduced a TASER cam. They have upgraded a model of their hand-held non-lethal immobilizer. The X26 model is able to be fitted with a video camera that can capture as much as an hour and a half of video with sound.

I saw a report on the news about this new feature, and a debate on the concept.

What does this mean for law enforcement? Well, if it is anything like the dash cams in patrol cars, it doesn't bode well. Remember when they started to go into cars? They were supposed to be to verify police officers actions. Instead what what they have done is bread police misconduct complaints.

The problem I have with all of the complaints about it is, the TASER was designed to be a non-lethal way for law enforcement to subdue potentially violent assailants before they become violent. To prove the safety and efficacy of their devices, many employees and all of senior management have taken shots (including several by CEO Rick Smith) from the TASERs they produce.

Why is it that someone is threatening civilians or law enforcement officials, they can only act when it seems it is too late? Isn't that what the TASER was supposed to be? A non-permanent way to save innocent lives? Now, like in so many cases in today's legal system, the criminals have more rights than the victims. And no, a bank robber who got TASERed is not the victim.

My piece of advice, if a cop is telling you to do something, 'do it'. If you don't, the officer's choice is the .40 cal or the TASER. Which would you prefer?


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16 December, 2007

In the news...

There have been a couple of big stories in the news this past week, the CIA interrogation tapes being destroyed and the Mitchell report.

The first story, the NY Times reported that 2 tapes featuring several hours of interrogation of two high ranking Al Qaeda lieutenants that allegedly featured severe tactics including waterboarding.

Regardless on your thoughts on torture, this story only serves one purpose. First of all, these tapes were destroyed 2 years ago. This is just another chance for those who hate America to attack the current administration.

I'm not one to give the CIA carte blanche when it comes to questioning detainees. If we pull out all the stops, we are no better than the heathens that they are protecting us from, but they should be given some latitude to do their job. Remember, these are the guys who aren't afraid to die. otherwise, they are not going to be willing to pilot a plane into a building, or put on a dynamite vest on and walk into a crowded market. Don't these guys get a free pass to heaven when they die for Allah? One of these guys gave up information that saved countless American lives after less than 35 seconds.

The CIA claims the reason for the tapes being destroyed is that the agents doing the interrogating can be identified. My reaction to that is if you don't want the agents to be identifiable on your interrogation tapes, don't make the tapes.

To those who say the CIA should be able to keep the tapes secure, keep in mind that the CIA isn't the only intelligence agency that is tasked with using covert means to secure information. And if the NY Times can break the story that the tapes were destroyed, imagine what a trained field agent can do if they wanted to.

==========================

The other story that is dominating the news is that of the Mitchell Report. It's the 400+ page report authored by former Maine Senator George Mitchell at the request of commissioner Bud Selig. In the report, more than 80 current and former Major League Baseball players are named in connection with steroid or human growth hormone (HGH). Some of the names are surprising (Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens) others are not (Barry Bonds). The report names players from all 30 teams, but it is curious that 25% of the list authored by a member of the Red Sox board of directors is made up of current and former Yankees.

This report was nearly 2 years in the making. It was met with a myriad of reactions. Will it make a difference? That is to be seen. Do the fans really care? As a whole, not really. Individually, perhaps.. Will it effect entrance into the Hall of Fame? I think it may. I don't see it keeping anyone out of the Hall, but it may delay their entrance. Someone like Bonds who was well on his way to be a near unanimous first ballot inductee will likely not be voted in for a year or two.

The question that keeps getting asked is: what should the League do with the players? First off, many of those on the list are no longer players, so there isn't anything that MLB can do. For those who are still active, the recommendation from Mitchell is to do nothing to them. I have to say I agree. Too much of the information is circumstantial, and there is the whole spectrum of involvement. Some were offered HGH and declined (David Justice, in an interview on ESPN Radio with Colin Cowherd on Friday) others had a more in depth involvement. Keep in mind, steroids and HGH were not against the rules of baseball until just recently.

When you start talking about wiping records, you have to consider all of the implications. If you take away Barry Bond's home runs, do you take away wins from the Giants? What about the runs scored by the players already on base when he hit it? The pitchers' ERA? All of the sudden it isn't such an easy solution.

The bigger implication in the report is the hundreds of thousands of non-professional athletes, many high school and college athletes who are on the juice. That is the problem that really needs to get addressed. That is the real problem here.

** My disclaimer.. this is the second time I wrote this today, right before I published it, my web browser crashed, and I lost it, so I had to start it over..


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13 December, 2007

It's not easy being green.

It's that time of year again. Time to pick how you want to be billed for your energy, and who will bill you for it.

This is thanks to the genius of Charles Schumer. You see, we aren't smart enough to take care of ourselves, so it's a good thing that we have such a smart, benevolent senator like Schumer.

He came up with this brilliant idea of de-regulating the power industry of NY. This allows for a bunch of other companies to start billing us for power that is still provided by RG&E, along lines that are owned and maintained by RG&E, so it only makes sense that another company can come in and do a better job of billing than the company whose infrastructure is being used, and whose product is being used.

The thing that throws me off is the company that is offering green energy. It costs more, but you can get that warm feeling when you turn on your furnace to get warm. How is it that a company that doesn't produce the power control where the power comes from? And how do they keep the coal and nuclear power from those customers who worship the gods of global warming? What's even better, they have different levels of green plans. That way, you can choose how much you love the planet.

Don't get me wrong.. I am not advocating for waste, I just want to save money.

And it seems that you cannot ever win with Al Gore's disciples. (see my column from back in August of my thoughts about wind farms).


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10 December, 2007

Who let the dogs out?

Former NFL quarterback Michael Vick was sentenced for his part in a dog fighting ring this morning. As you may already know, a house owned by the former Atlanta Falcon was used for an underground dog fighting ring.

When it came to light, the new gestapo of the NFL, commissioner Roger Godell issued an indefinite suspension. As the investigation developed, several of the people involved in the ring, took plea deals. Vick and his attorneys decided that the best thing to do is to plead out himself. The sentencing came down today, 23 months.

The questions that this raises is was that fair? Speculation was that it would have been closer to 12-18 months, but the statute allowed for as much as 5 years.

Will we see him back in the NFL? Well, if he serves his full sentence, he will be in jail until midway through the 2009 season (October 2009). He then will have to serve whatever sentence the League sees fit to impose. So it is likely that he won't be eligible to play until at least the 2010 season. At that point, he will be 29, and out of the league for 3 years. Sure, he will have the opportunity to stay physically fit while in prison, but that isn't NFL game condition.

Reaction to the sentence was varied. Many were satisfied that he got a stiffer sentence than expected, while others played the 'he was a victim' card and got a stiffer penalty than someone who fit a different demographic would get.

Bottom line, I feel the sentence was fair. He got hit in the pocket book much harder than the jail time. He lost millions in endorsements that will likely never come back even if he does make it back to the league. Do I think he will be back in the league? Probably. If the QB shortage is anything like it is now, someone will give him a shot. I think that he will have paid his debt to society by then. After all, this is the land of second (and third and fourth) chances.


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06 December, 2007

Here they come again! Our heroes!

The federal government must think we can't survive without them. I guess we have given them plenty of reasons to think that, but it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The more someone (or someones) come to the rescue, the more they become dependent on the help.

The latest example of the white knight that is the Federal government is the announcement that they are going to freeze the adjustable rates on all of those mortgages. Sounds like a good thing, but here is what is being missed.. If borrowers can't afford the rates where they are frozen (which by the way is among the lowest on record), how are they going to be able to afford the payments in 5 years, when the rates thaw?

I understand that one of the key indicators of the health of the economy is housing sales, but isn't this just another form of welfare?

If there hadn't been the pressure to relax the standards for loans, there wouldn't be the need to bail out those who didn't plan ahead enough to get a loan they would be able to afford.

I'll be the first to tell you that I am no Warren Buffet, but I was smart enough to not get a loan for the max I was approved for, and I got a fixed rate. The only time my payment will change is when my taxes go up to help pay for everyone else that needs the government to bail them out.


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05 December, 2007

Why does it matter?

I'm about to talk about the two things you aren't supposed to talk about.. and I'm going to do it in the same column.. Religion and politics.

I don't understand the hypocrisy of it. One candidate is automatically disqualified because of where he spends his Sunday mornings.

It doesn't matter that the church in question teaches fiscal responsibility and personal accountability.

A church that developed a welfare program that fosters self improvement, a program that is designed to ween people off it. This program doesn't breed generations of dependents.

On the other hand, if a person pays homage to the same deity as those guys who flew planes into the Twin Towers, that is off limits.

I guess what it comes down to, does it really matter what church a person belongs to? Politically speaking? I don't think so.

One last question to consider.. Why is religion such a big deal for a former governor from the land of the Kennedys, but no one cares or even knows that a senator from the Silver State goes to the same church??


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04 December, 2007

It must be fair..

I mean, it has to be.. people much smarter than me came up with it, and ESPN talking heads keep drilling it..

I'm talking about the rules that say a NFL franchise has to interview minority coaching candidates before they fill a vacancy. Now they are trying to force the rule into the college ranks.

Is it fair that of the 119 Division I-A football programs in the country, only a small handful is a minority. I think the number is less than 1 in 10 programs.

This comes up every year when the coaching carousel starts spinning.. It becomes big news when black assistants remain assistants.

Is the 'good old boys' club as strong as they would have us believe? Should organizations be forced to parade token candidates to comply with the rules? The theory is that it gets the name out there.. but If I am a hiring manager and I pass on a candidate, what does it say about the candidate? Are you more or less likely to hire someone who I passed on?

Do we have a ways to go? Yes. Is mandating affirmative action the right thing to do? I don't think so.


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Heroes Season Finale

It's been a while since I added something new here.. so I figured it was time I put something up, I'll start with my take on last night's season finale of what is quite possibly the best TV series ever, Heroes.

I know, it wasn't officially the season finale... but if they don't settle the petty dispute between the producers and writers, it is unlikely the show will return before next fall. More on the strike in a bit..

A few weeks ago, I ran across a podcast and website dedicated to the show that is very well done. It has a very active forum. It can be found at http://www.thetenthwonder.com/ if you are a fan of the show, it is worth checking out.

Let me start out with saying if you haven't already watched the episode, there are spoilers here.. you have been warned... :)

The obvious first question is who shot Nathan and is he really dead? I think that we have seen the last of Nathan Petrelli, but Adrian Pasdar may reprise his role in a flashback sequence in future episodes. As far as his killer goes.. I would bet that it is Noah. After re-watching the episode, and pausing it as the lone person walks away from the commotion, it really looks like that person is wearing horn-rimed glasses (or as he is known in the forums as HRG)

My take on what Hiro did to Adam/Kensei is this.. I know that he (Hiro) felt that he needed to do something to put an end to what Adam/Kensei was up to, but if he is supposed to be the good guy, is trapping him in a coffin underground (was it LT Sulu's coffin?) the way to go? It seems that it is more of a cruel thing to do than to just cut his head off. Someone in the forums suggested that the super hearing that Sylar picked up last season from the mechanic will help him to locate him and dig him up.. interesting theory, but I'm not sure how much stock I put into it. I believe David Anders is done (except for possible flashback sequences).

Is there any significance to the other visible objects in the vault? From what I saw, there was a dagger, a brain, 3 cards (3 queens), a pyramid, a gold key, and a few other things. Honestly, I think that most of these objects have little to no plot value. People may be just looking for something to speculate on.

Does anyone else have any thoughts on this series or episode? Predictions for volume 3? Drop me a line!

Now, getting to the strike. More often than not, a strike is the most selfish thing a worker can do (conversely, a lockout is the most selfish thing an employer can do). I understand that getting about $0.04 per DVD is not much, but the strike is hurting more than just the producers and actors. Most of them can afford to take a couple of weeks off.

What about all the rest of the staff? The cameramen, the grips, the set builders and countless more.. most of them are working stiffs.. they aren't making ton of money for the work they do, especially in comparison to the others..

And what about those who are indirectly related to the productions? People like drivers and caterers.. When the person that put their life savings into opening a catering business goes under because their biggest client is a TV studio, what happens?

And what about the advertisers? They put up good money to advertise in primetime shows that have been forced into re-runs? Do they get a refund or discount?

But what do I know?

I just hope this strike doesn't effect the upcoming season of Lost.


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