The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sometimes I think I get too concerned

Perhaps this is one of those times. Yet, the more I learn about our position in space and the more I learn about the solar system in general, the more I wonder if Earth will survive (as we know it) long enough to be swallowed up by the sun when it becomes a red giant ( in about 5 billion years from now).

U.S. Scientists Seek to Prevent Another Meteor Explosion

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Cell Phone Boom?

A friend sent me one of those internet rumor emails the other day. I get a lot of these... as I am sure you do. I think he sends these to me because I usually do a little research on them to see if they are true. is my main source for analysis of these because it is what they do and they appear to do it well.

This one concerned cell phones and gas stations. I am sure that you have noticed both the signs warning against cell phone usage on the gas pumps as well as the people who blithely ignore that warning. But does seeing someone yakking on a cell phone while filling his or her tank make you nervous? Do you turn off your cell phone before refueling?

According to Snopes, the email rumor is, as they say, "FALSE."  I would love to quote from the website but they have configured that out. So you will have to click on the "Snopes" above and go there to read it yourself.

Suffice it to say that Snopes could not find any evidence to support the contention that cell phones can trigger gasoline (or any other) explosions except when configured to do so as the trigger for a terrorist bomb.  In other words, it's basically safe to annoy others by yakking away on your cell phone while emptying your wallet into your gas tank.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Complicated? I don't think so

I was reading a fellow blogger's post
[link] the other day about how complicated our lives get as we get older. Of course, that triggered thoughts of daily, personal,rituals because he mentioned those.

We have rituals we adhere to each day; from getting up in the morning to lying down to sleep at night. And, Tom's right, they do become more complicated as we age. Mine have and I'm sure so have yours. I have added taking Ranitidine (generic for Zantac) each night to avoid heartburn at 3 AM, removing and soaking false teeth, and shaving as the mood strikes me.

I only shaved every day while I was in the Navy. Didn't need to before I enlisted and grew a full beard (stopped shaving) after I got out. I do not have my father's beard. As Mom used to tell me "Your father has a 5 O'clock shadow at noon." I have a very light, slow growing beard. And since it is all white now is hardly noticeable when I do not shave for 2 or 3 days.

Tom speaks of dashing out to play as a child (I am assuming here) and sometimes pausing to put on shoes. I no longer dash anywhere, much less to play outside (golf being the exception), but mostly just amble. If I have no shoes on when it's time to check the mailbox, I do not pause to put some on.  Not needed here, certainly, unless it is raining. And then only because I am a bit afraid of slipping and I do not like wet feet. Even when I do put them on on those occasions, its usually just sandals.

He mentions how technology has complicated our lives. This is true but it has also simplified much of it. We can be in contact with others at all times instead of having to find a phone booth (rmember those?) so we can check in from time to time. Our cars have automatic transmissions and some (like mine) have rain sensing windshield wipers, lights that turn on and off automatically, and so on. We have rear-view cameras and my car has an audible obstruction alert system (but no camera). I do not have GPS built in but have one I can use in either car we own. But I do have a "remote start" button on my key fob. And one other auto-related convenience item... the toll-payer. We used to need a transponder but no longer, now we have a barcode sticker which is read as we pass through the toll area and debits our accounts (which are, in turn, replenished automatically at a certain point). I like the simplicity that technology has given us.

He complained about having a number of remotes that must be used. I have three. The cable remote turns on/off the TV and handles the sound volume. The Blu-Ray player requires its own and requires I also have to find and use the TV remote so I can switch to the correct input (I might be able to configure that on the cable remote but am too lazy to bother) but, for most things, the cable remote handles everything I need to do TV-wise. I recall when I was the "remote." Dad (or Mom) would tell me to turn up/down the sound and to change the channel and I would do it. I was always closest to the TV those days. Now we do not need children to operate the TV. Which is good because they tend to not be around much after they hit 14 or so. And much harder to find and operate than the remotes.

We have speed dialing so we do not have to look up numbers of friends. We have Caller ID so we can know who is calling before we answer (and pick up or not accordingly). Heck, we can even turn on/off lights and adjust the AC or heat remotely using our smart phones.

Very strange... things have become simpler as they became more complicated.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Whither We Goest?

I want to talk about evolution. I find it fascinating. So did a co-worker in Jacksonville (FL), except he rejected it out of hand. Possibly because he didn't understand it... but then who does? Other than most (if not all) scientists. And I do not mean just human evolution, I mean all evolution. He was under a lot of pressure not to accept evolution as true; primarily his religious associations did this.

The main problem with his understanding, I think, was the impression I got that he thought there was "free will" involved; that animals had to choose to change in some way. And that it happened fairly quickly.

It takes time for evolution to do its thing. From a few generations to many millennia.  The basic idea of evolution theory is that a mutation becomes the norm because it enhances survival of the species. And that, I think, is true. But I also think it is much more complex than that simple statement. In plants and the lower animals (a subjective categorization, in my opinion), it seems to be follow that simple rule. What throws many off the theory is that many non-essential traits also persist. Not all traits appear to be essential to survival yet they persist through generations. In humans, we see a wide variance in appearance: skin color, eye color, hair color, for example. And we see these between population groups and within population groups. No single trait I mentioned is in any way essential to survival but any of them can survive because of personal choices and preferences.

Based on anthropological studies, we know that the human race has changed significantly in the past 2 million or so years.  Yet we resist what that tells us. It tells me that we are constantly changing, evolving.

Here's a couple of articles involving evolution which triggered this post:


Saturday, February 23, 2013

I am tired of the lies!

Sequestration: either the isolating of jury members or the automatic automatic budget cutting Congress is facing. I want to talk about the latter.

Much FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt) is being spread regarding sequestration. One might think the economy will collapse if Congress does not prevent it by some unnamed and unexplained legislation.

Here's some truth:

No budgets will be actually cut. Yes, I know politicians and their spokespeople are claiming that but it is untrue. What will be cut is the increase in projected spending. And the amount? About 5%. That is 5% of a non-existent budget. What? You thought we had a federal budget? No, we don't. We haven't had one for years. It is the job of the House of Representatives to create one. And they have done so each year. However, after they pass the budget, it goes to the Democrat majority Senate where it has died in committee or been voted down each year.  Yet the Republicans are blamed.

But let's go back to the Sequestration fallout. According to what you hear and see in the mainstream media, hundreds of thousands will lose their jobs because of this. This ignores the simple fact that no federal employee will lose his or her job permanently. Not only that, he or she will eventually get the pay lost if "furloughed" temporarily.

And it ignores the fact that any large budget undoubtedly has at least 5% of "fat" embedded.

When I was working for AT&T, the company would introduce austerity measures from time to time. Overtime would be slashed, time reporting would be scrutinized closely, and layoffs would be threatened. Then reality stepped in and hiring freezes would be implemented, overtime would creep back in, and people would be offered incentives to retire early. And the fiscal "disaster" would fade away.

If I may be blunt, we (you and I) are being lied to and have been for years by the people we elect to office.

What would you do if if your household income was increased by only 5% the next year instead of the 10% you were promised? You'd cope. You'd watch your spending, maybe not go out to dinner (or go out less often), and maybe look for a car with better gas mileage... to counter the spiraling gasoline prices. Not Congress, not government... They will seek more and higher taxes, they will not cut spending, they will not accept a cut that isn't a cut.

And you, Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer, will foot the bill... or else.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Home defense

Joe's at it again... or so they say. "Open mouth, insert foot", as the saying goes. The Vice President offered this advice, he claimed, to his wife, "I said, 'Jill, if there's ever a problem, just walk out on the balcony here, walk out and put that double-barrel shotgun and fire two blasts outside the house,'" Biden said.

"You don't need an AR-15—it's harder to aim," he added, "it's harder to use, and in fact you don't need 30 rounds to protect yourself. Buy a shotgun! Buy a shotgun!"

The basics of his suggestion ("Buy a shotgun" and "You don't need an AR-15") are sound. The AR-15 is not a good home defense weapon. Though it isn't all that hard to aim. Defending one's home would be close quarters combat. You do not have room to maneuver, you are likely to be within 20 feet of an attacker, and there will be objects in the way.  A shotgun is a very good weapon in that situation. As Joe implies, it's not hard to aim effectively.

But what kind of shotgun? That double-barreled model that he mentions? Bad choice. A much better choice is a short-barreled pump model without a stock. Why? Because you will likely not have much room to swing it around. You need something with a short barrel (18" is, I believe, the legal limit), light, and powerful enough to do a good deal of damage but does not blast huge holes in the walls.
My personal choice is a .410 bore, 4 round magazine, no stock, pistol grip equipped, with 18" barrel. Like the one at left. I use birdshot but small buckshot might be more effective.

The problem with Joe's advice to his wife is that he tells her to step out on the balcony and fire off both barrels. This means she will have to reload if that strategy does not scare off the intruder(s). Reloading can be done quickly but not when you are in a stressful situation. And you would need to drill yourself on doing it so that it is second nature. Most folks will not train for emergencies like that, they will also keep the weapon unloaded for safety reasons. The pump models can be loaded but not have a shell in the chamber, rendering it fairly safe since it will require racking a shell into the chamber. Doing so will make a very distinctive and loud noise which can be a deterrent in itself. And, once racked, the weapon is ready for use (if the safety has been clicked off).

Why not a 12 gauge? It's a bit too powerful for some. It has a kick that could cause problems for someone of small stature. It will blow a big hole in a wall if you miss and that kick will mean more difficulty in re-aiming the weapon on the next shot, giving the intruder time to reach you. And it simply isn't needed.

And, according to this article, Joe's advice could get you arrested. It just isn't a safe thing to do anyway; any projectile(s) fired into the air must come back down somewhere. So most places outlaw firing a weapon into the air.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Is this cheating?

The other day I read a blog post that triggered some memories.  It is called Only then can the fun begin. Written by a teacher, it entertains and informs; something blogs should strive to do I think.

The memories it dredged up involved homework assignments and how I avoided having to do the ones I disliked.

When I was a young student in junior high school, I hated English and liked math. And I despised homework. I have mentioned this before... in Let's Just Call This "Untitled"... I needed a way to satisfy the homework requirements that didn't involve actually doing it myself.

I found that some girls were more than willing to fudge the rules to help me out. I made deals with one girl who was in my math class and my English class. I would review and correct her math homework and, in return, she would provide me with the needed work for English. It worked out just fine. She even edited and prettied up a lengthy Shakespeare assignment for me.

I also entered into a more selfless arrangement in 10th grade. She would do our math homework assignment and give it to me in homeroom. I would copy and correct it and give it back. We both did quite well in math. She would use the homework to study for tests and I didn't need to study at the time.

So, as I asked in the title... Is this cheating?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A peek at reality as I see it


First, we have a dire prediction that the Universe will come to a nasty end billions of years from now.

Subatomic calculations indicate finite lifespan for universe

This is an important step for physics geeks and groupies, it means nothing to the average person trying to get through the day or the week without losing his/her mind or his/her job and house and so on. 

To me, it's an interesting piece of trivia and nothing more.

A little closer to home we have a (actually, yet another) fallen hero charged with murdering his girlfriend.

Pistorius Denies Murdering Girlfriend

This is going to be one of the most interesting defense strategies ever conjured up, I think...

Mr. Pistorius said he and Ms. Steenkamp had gone to bed early on Wednesday night, but in the middle of the night he heard a noise from the bathroom and went to investigate on his stumps, not his artificial legs.

He was nervous, he said, because the bathroom window did not have burglar bars and contractors who had been working there had left ladders behind.

The room was dark, he said, and he did not realize that Ms. Steenkamp was not in bed. He felt vulnerable and fearful without his prosthetics and opened fire at the door, he said, calling to Ms. Steenkamp to telephone the police.

Only then did he realize that she was not in bed, he said. He put on his artificial legs and tried to kick down the door before breaking it open with a cricket bat to discover Ms. Steenkamp.

He carried her downstairs, he said, and “she died in my arms.”

An accidental shooting. In his mind, he was defending both himself and his girlfriend from an unknown intruder. Well, according to the defense's theory of what happened that night.

These two stories are related only in the confines of what passes for my consciousness. But that is what this blog is all about: my consciousness, my concept of the Universe, both in macro and micro views.

And these two, seemingly unrelated, stories rattle around in my head and collide with what could be called "sanity" in my reality.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Musing on Heroes

 There's an old Chinese curse that goes "May you live in interesting times." But what better times could one live in? Indeed, what times aren't interesting? We live at a time when there are few great heroes. Most of them are tainted in some way. Barry Bonds breaks Hank Aaron's home run record but is tainted by allegations of steroid use. George Bush instills pride and courage in America in the days following the 9/11 attacks but gets us embroiled in an unpopular war. Mayor Guilliani is praised for his leadership following those 9/11 attacks but is then tainted by a scandal in his marital relationship. A couple dozen people are running for president, most of whom we barely know, and all seem to have some deep flaws,  real or insinuated. Is Obama "black" enough? Are Hillary's negatives too great to overcome? Can the country elect a Mormon? An African-American? A woman? Will another former actor run and win? Yes, I think we live in interesting times. But I wouldn't have it any other way.

 Where are the truly great men and women? Looking back in history, we see such heroes as Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Lincoln. As children most of us were taught how honorable these men were. As we grew older, we learned of the flaws; slave owners, womanizers, less than noble goals wrapped in powerful rhetoric. Even in the just past century, we have many great men who may not have been so great when examined closely. Lindbergh flew solo across the Atlantic but was also a Nazi sympathizer before the war broke out. FDR pulled us out of the Great Depression but might have fed the appetite of the Soviet Union and allowed it to oppress Eastern Europe (not to mention signing an order to inter thousands and thousands of Japanese immigrants and their families). Harry Truman brought an end to WWII in the Pacific when he authorized the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, acts which are now questioned as wise or just. Dwight Eisenhower got us out of the Korean War but gave us the U2 incident. J.F.K. inspired us but, apparently, also had no problem sneaking around on his wife and also helped embroil us in an unpopular war.

 Where are the heroes? Only one stands out today. Eldridge "Tiger" Woods. No whispers of steroids surround him. No talk of secret liaisons. No mention of a shadowy private life. He seems to be what we see; a man capable of almost superhuman strength of character. He has managed to capture our imagination and awe. He has also built, by deeds alone, a reputation as the man to beat in any tournament he enters. Woody Austin, his closest challenger in the PGA Championship, pointed out that some of his actions are reported differently when performed by others. A show of temper on his part is seen as a sign of his competitiveness but on the part of one of his competitors as losing control. The media has been been caught up in the making of the legend, perhaps. It is part of the power Tiger holds over his peers. The aura surrounding him is possibly his greatest weapon. Imagine the added stress of having Tiger nipping at your heels, just a shot or three back. Or worse, trying to catch up to him.

 Mr. Woods is one of those celebrities recognizable by just a single name. One of those who are known even by people who don't care much about the thing he excels at. You may never have played the game, may never have picked up a club, might not have even played miniature golf, but you know who Tiger is. He will surpass Jack Nicklaus in time, there's little doubt of that now. He may grab every record in golf there is.  His talent is incredible. His character immense. We are truly privileged to have such a man among us. If only we had more such  men and women.

Until Mr. Woods, too, fell.

Do all heroes have feet of clay?


Monday, February 18, 2013

Where's my heavy coat?

As I write this (on Sunday), the weather gadget on my screen tells me the temperature is 46o. That may not sound bad to you folks north of, say, 35o latitude but for those of us here in Paradise it's downright cold! Therefore, I am freezing as I contemplate writing a letter of complaint to someone.

And I would write that letter if I could figure out who to write it to. No one is taking responsibility for this particular disaster (yes, to me and most people like me, it is a disaster). Yesterday, I was happily riding around in a golf cart contemplating how I was going to get out of the fix my last shot got me into and today I am huddled up close to what apparently is the warmest thing in the house (next to Faye): my computer.

I would write to the Florida Chamber of Commerce. But they would just throw the letter in the trash and possibly have me investigated. There's no point in writing to the state leaders in the capitol. Our state capitol is just a few miles south of the Georgia state line and gets snowed on just about ever winter. These people obviously don't care or they would have moved the capitol to Key West decades ago. Fools!

We do not handle cold well down here.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Why was he considered more dangerous?

There was a former LAPD cop (Christopher Dorner) who went rogue a couple of weeks ago. The media made it sound like southern California was all in a panic. I am here to tell you that they shouldn't have been. After all, the only people he was angry about were police and their families (and I am fairly sure it was close family members... if your cousin is a cop, you were pretty safe).

But there was also a Twitter following for the killer. He was being seen as a one man vigilante mob fighting back against the corrupt LAPD. Never mind that his grievance was, apparently, without substance. I don't know, it may have been well founded, but there is no excuse for committing premeditated murder. Yet there were a number of people who apparently thought of this guy was some kind of hero.

I lived in the Los Angeles area for several years in the late 60's. In Long Beach. Their police force, at the time, was pretty close to out of control. I watched a couple of them harass and abuse a guy by smacking his face into the rear passenger window of a cop car. I watched them do an illegal search of a guy's wallet. I was subjected to a traffic stop and detained for 30 minutes because the license plate light on my van (purchased that day) was not working. In the process, both I and my passenger were frisked.Faye reminds me from time to time of when they threw her out of a club because they didn't believe her ID (a valid California driver's license).

I didn't have any run-ins with the LAPD but the few interactions I had with them were peaceful enough.

The truth about Dorner is simple: he was targeting cops and that made him priority #1.

I do not begrudge the cops for wanting him off the streets. I do not begrudge them for wanting to save the state the cost of a trial in his case. I respect cops. I appreciate what they do. What bothers me about cops is that they place themselves in a class above the rest of us. At first, he killed two people; a couple. The male was the son of the LAPD cop who represented Dorner in the case which got him fired. Then he killed a Riverside police officer. But they were already after him... with a vengeance.

There have been others who killed three people in the Los Angeles area in years past but other than the Manson killings, I do not recall a media and police frenzy surrounding the hunt for them. The difference? The victims were not police or related to the police.

Dorner was a walking dead man from the time he killed that couple.
How about cops treat all homicides as if the victim was one of them?

I'd feel a lot safer.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Hearts and Bullets

As those of you sleeping on the couch because you forgot yesterday was Valentine's Day. A pretty much bogus holiday based on someone who would be completely unknown except for this day. And it could be any one of several Valentines (or derivations of such name), for that matter. We just do not know.

It may be that Valentines Day marks the anniversary of the death of one of these. That seems an odd day to celebrate to me. Especially when one thinks of the theme of the day... But perhaps they are linking it to "The Little Death"... which might make some sense.

One wonders if Viagra and Cialis sales spike on February 14th? But I digress...

Faye and I celebrated the day by going to a movie. No, not that kind of movie. We went to see "A Good Day to Die Hard" starring Bruce Willis. The lack of a desire to drag me to see "chick flicks" is one of the many reasons I married Faye. And not, as some surmise, the threatened decapitation of a much loved body part.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Do you think it will hurt?

As I was struggling to think up a subject for a post for today, I came across this:

Saving the Earth from Asteroids

Since I am always interested in saving the Earth (though no one seems to like my proposed methods), I read the article. It reminds us of the pending close (very, very close) fly-by of an asteroid (designated DA 14) of medium size on Friday. This asteroid will actually pass closer to the Earth than all of the communications satellites orbiting the planet.

They tell us there is no threat from DA 14. I believe them. After all, what choice do I really have? I certainly cannot do anything about it and it's a little late to stock up on canned goods and MRE's to stock the underground bunker I never built.

When I was growing up during the Cold War, expecting nuclear oblivion at any moment, I had hoped my father would build an underground bunker. But he didn't seem all that concerned. He was a fatalist. Perhaps he thought he couldn't build one strong enough to survive a direct hit and, therefore, it would be a waste of time and money. After moving to Florida, there was no point in even trying to build an underground bunker since anything three feet below the surface would flood. Even if you could waterproof it sufficiently, the mold and fungi that would grow in it would have shortened the lifespan of anyone spending more than an hour or so in that bunker. We grow some pretty toxic mold down here.

And while reading the article, instead of being reassured, I started to wonder if they would tell us that we are about to experience an "extinction event" (aka "biotic crisis"). I decided they wouldn't. No, our trusted leaders would all simply go off the grid a couple of days before the event and leave us to cope with the devastation while they ate caviar and drank champagne and waited it out in taxpayer supplied bunkers.

They wouldn't miss us until after they crawled out of those bunkers looking for people to rebuild the world and to tax.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


As almost none of you know, I have a slight hearing loss in my right ear. It's been a constant reminder that I should have plugged some cotton in my ears when engaging in small arms practice on the fantail. And that I should've made sure the forward gun mount was not about to fire as I stepped through the door to the port wing of the bridge. I did neither of these and exacerbated the very slight hearing problem I had when entering service. As I read the following article, I recognized a number of things I deal with each day.

Could Hearing Loss and Dementia be Related?

This response from the interviewee interested me...

What happens is that you can’t really hear what the other person is saying and so you’re grasping for straws and basically trying to direct conversation in a way where you’ll be able to predict the answers.

But also this...

Stadiums deliberately amp up the noise. Restaurants deliberately amp up the noise.

Stadiums ramping up the noise I can understand but restaurants? I wouldn't think so. However, I have noticed the noise level in restaurants has increased quite a bit over the years. I believe that is the result of restauranteurs creating a more "open space" atmosphere and reducing/removing barriers between tables coupled with less sound absorbing materials (carpeting, drapes, etc.) being used. As hearing loss (in my case, quite mild but coupled with a mild tinnitus in the "bad" ear) increases, what was once barely noticed background noise becomes more prominent and mixed in with whatever conversation might be taking place. I have found that it is not the loudness that bothers me so much as the cacophony effect. Sound becomes chaotic, conversations get mixed in with the ambient noise of a room, and my ability to discern words and phrases weakens.

My father had some hearing loss in his left ear and, as mine is in the right ear, this made conversation difficult in a car when I was driving. I also began to realize the restaurant noise problem when my father asked (most plaintively) me to take him home from a family outing to an I-Hop before his meal had arrived. The noise caused him confusion and increased his anxiety.

Since I have a "good" ear as well as a "bad ear" I find myself trying to use the "good" ear in conversations. And I try to do that in an unnoticeable way (think of it as "turning an undeaf ear")or I think I do. But turning one's head to the right during a conversation can be distracting to the other participant so I am sure it is noticeable.

I find TV to be increasingly troublesome. The background noise (including music intended to heighten whatever emotion the viewer should be feeling) tends to overwhelm and dialogue is lost. I find myself filling in dialogue... some of which may not be what was actually said.

It's especially troubling since I recall being able to discern words on the radio even with the volume so low that others thought it was muted or turned down completely.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Pretty Cold Heavenly Bodies

So now NASA wants help in naming moons for a planet that is no longer a planet.

It should be something that uses Greek myth, though Roman myth seems acceptable also. Not sure why... Pluto was merely Hades renamed and was derived from the Greek Plouton (Greek Giver of Wealth). But I am no expert in mythology.

Persephone (who Pluto shared with the world 6 months each year) is currently a runner-up for one of the names. I lean toward Persephone's offspring (by that randy god Zeus); Melinoe and Eumenides. Neither of these are on the list of candidates.

Here's where you can vote: Help Us Name the Moons of Pluto

Monday, February 11, 2013


I have always mused. Even as a young child (is that redundant?) I would muse about almost anything I observed. Of course, in those days I called it "pondering" and later in my teens and twenties and thirties, I called it "analyzing." After achieving middle age, I began calling it "musing."

You see, once we attain middle age we begin to realize we cannot do anything about what we observe and, therefore, our mental efforts will be fruitless. I have come to believe that is the point of middle age: we resign ourselves to our fates.

While there are people who have achieved greatness and renown in middle age, it really started much younger. Their gifts were likely recognized much earlier and the gifted were nurtured and mentored. Doors were held open, paths upward smoothed, and futures all but assured.

Of course, that's not how it works today. In the not so distant past, people didn't achieve until they reached middle age. Someone in his twenties or thirties might be an "up and comer" but wouldn't be sitting in the CEO's chair. He (or she) might not have even been a vice-president but perhaps, at best, department head in his/her middle thirties. It took a long time to get anywhere near the "top."

Since the 70's, however, the corporate world has begun to emulate the "Hollywood Celebrity" model. Age is no longer a factor. Youth has become an asset rather than a liability. We have a number of billionaires that dropped out of college and rose to greatness by being in tune with the current generation and taking advantage of it. Well before they hit 35.

It's like a whole generation has become irrelevant. It's like we skipped over that middle generation to bestow the future on the "up and comers" and ignored the "plodders" that were following the previous paradigm.

When I was young, a "boy billionaire" was in his forties or fifties. Wealth of that measure was rarely achieved until one was quite gray and wrinkled.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

But I still want to know...

People wonder why some of us want to know the details about the attack on the consulate in Benghazi.  Here's why...

Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State, testified that she never saw the request from the Ambassador to Libya for more security. She also got mad at Republican Senators for asking about who decided to blame the attacks on a mob angry over a video (later shown to be completely false) and angrily remarked, "What difference does that make at this point?"

Leon Panetta (Secretary of Defense) testified that he only spoke to the president once during the crisis and that the president told him and General Dempsey (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) to do whatever was needed to protect our people there.

General Dempsey testified that he didn't put troops at the ready to deploy because, though he knew about the request for increased security, he never received a request from State.

So, from the above we can determine that the president was so interested that he only called Panetta (not Hillary at State) once and that State did not follow up on the requests for increased security, that the Secretary of State did not even know about the requests, and no longer cares about the obfuscation of facts.

And no one has identified the people who told the former SEALs who wanted to help at the consulate to "stand down."

Four good men, Americans, are dead.

And that's why I, at least, want to know what really happened before, during, and after the attack.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Rock Painting for Survival

We dodged a bullet, some say, when December 21, 2012 came and went uneventfully. Maybe it wasn't so uneventful in some parallel universe (if you believe in such) but in this reality, we remain in existence.

On the other hand, we exist in a sort of "shooting gallery" of space rocks and comets and the danger of a strike by some large space object is quite real. And we are about to experience a close "fly-by" in a little less than a week. [link] As Chicken Little once said "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!" But I don't want to alarm you.

When I was a young'un, I was taught that the dinosaurs died out because they could not adapt fast enough to a changing climate. That the great lizards (not really "lizards", they say, but reptilian all the same) couldn't take the cold of some normal ice age was intimated. The current theory is that they were wiped out by a catastrophic climate change that was the result of a large asteroid impacting the Earth just off the Yucatan Peninsula coast. [link] And this brought about a rapid climate change along with the destruction of most (if not all) vegetation.

In any event, it is a good thing that the dinosaurs went extinct. This eventually gave us petroleum and that literally greased the wheels of civilization  in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The lesson we were being taught back in my young'un days was that dinosaurs went extinct because they couldn't adapt and that humans would persevere because we can. The ugly reality is that we would not have survived that impact any better than the dinosaurs.  Even back then I was skeptical about our long term chances. After all, the age of the dinosaurs lasted some 185 MILLION years (dominant life form for 135 million of those years saith Wiki). We humans have only been around for a couple of million. And of little note until some 50,000 years ago and with no written history until about 5000 years ago.

While we are not yet, presumably, at the top of our game, I find it hard to believe we'll last another 183 million years. Civilization, especially, is quite fragile and could easily be wiped out by a much smaller meteor than the one that doomed the big reptiles. And so we search for ways to deflect impending doom.

Fortunately, it seems, we have managed to survive long enough to develop the technology that could enable us to avoid utter destruction by errant asteroid. One new method was reported recently in this way:

How to Deflect Killer Asteroids With Spray Paint

It could work, it seems plausible enough to me but I am no rocket scientist.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Sincerity: Once you can fake that, you've got it made

Sincerely, oh yes, sincerely
'Cause I love you so dearly
Please say you'll be mine

Sincerely, oh you know how I love you
I'll do anything for you
Please say you'll be mine

Sincerity is a virtue, they say. "They" say a lot of things and we just nod our collective head and murmur... "of course." But is sincerity really a virtue? Or is it a scam?

Actors are very good at faking sincerity. As are politicians, lawyers, most of my ex-girlfriends, and car salesmen. But that's fake sincerity, not real. To which I reply... And just how do you tell the difference?

Sincerity isn't all it's cracked up to be. Look at Henry Winkler pushing reverse mortgages on us senior citizens, for example. He very sincere sounding... especially when he delivers that final line: "Take control of your retirement... Today."

What made Henry Winkler a wizard on financial matters of the retired? The guy got rich pretending to be a juvenile delinquent ("The Fonz") on a sitcom. And played in a few movies and had guest spots in other TV series where he mostly did an imitation of the role he had on Happy Days. How does that qualify him as an expert in financial matters?

My brother had sincerity down pat. He fooled me countless times and, in the end, helped make me the cynic I am today.

The result is that whenever someone starts sounding sincere, I pretty much assume he or she is lying.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Two Old Guys Get Together

One never knows. We blog, we form friends with other bloggers, and we often never meet them face to face. Yesterday I had the great privilege to meet Tom of "Sightings Over Sixty." He was in Florida, down at Ft Myers, and we had arranged to get together for a round of golf on his way up to Orlando.

Golf is our second common denominator, blogging our first. Being fairly new at being old is our third. What more do we need in common?

They paired us up with two slightly older gentlemen from Iowa... "northern Iowa", they mentioned a few times... Fair golfers, it turned out. One was also named Tom and the other was Cliff. They asked us about blogging and what we wrote about and we told them it would be about them this time. Only it isn't.

We had no bets on the game. I don't mind betting but it's best not to if you haven't seen how the other guy plays. Since, essentially, Tom and I were strangers and neither of us knew the other Tom or Cliff (though they knew each other), I didn't relish the idea of betting on the game. Whenever strangers meet on a golf course, they always seem to claim they have no talent or play "bogey golf" (shoot in the low 90's) until after the bets are made and then they get up on the tee and smack the ball 250 yards or more down the middle. So I am reluctant to make, or take, a bet.

We still all maintained we were not very good. But that proved not to be the case. At least, not so much. Tom (our blogger Tom, not Iowa Tom) did quite well for not being familiar with the course and shot a respectable 86. I shot a slightly more respectable 82 but Blogger Tom had two birdies to my none. And he could hit it farther than I. The boys from Iowa (northern Iowa, that is) hit the ball pretty well but the fast greens ate them up.

I think blogger Tom and I hit it off fairly well. It's a pity he doesn't move down here to Paradise. I could have him corrupted in no time.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

How did that stay out of the hole?

I have a confession to make. I have no idea what I have done wrong lately but there must have been something. You see, I can't putt. I have lost the ability to determine speed and break and so the ball often rolls well past the hole. Far enough past that I am in great danger of missing that putt also. This creates the dreaded 3 putt green. I had several of those yesterday.

These are not good. I played better on Friday and better last Wednesday because my putting was... well... adequate.

I have written before about how putting amazes me. Good putting, that is. Bad putting only amazes me when I do it. I go around thinking I can putt decently and then I have one of those days. Like yesterday.

I have decided that I must have done something wrong and some supernatural being decided to punish me.

How to atone? That's the question. I am open to suggestions.


Monday, February 4, 2013

And just what would I do with that extra energy?

I don't drink much of anything other than iced tea and green tea and coffee. Water is the pretty much it and that's only at the golf course... more so in summer than in winter. 

I drink only two cups of coffee (on rare occasions, I'll drink a third one) in the morning; most golf mornings, just one cup. 

I cut back to two cups many years ago when I realized I had a caffeine addiction of sorts. That is, too long without caffeine led to really nasty headaches. So I cut back.

But I read that these energy drinks are the Big Thing with teens and that they are causing problems. Visits to the emergency room type problems.

Enough of a problem to cause this column:

Treat Energy Drinks Like Drugs 

When I was a teen, the only legal stimulant was No-Doz (basically the caffeine in a cup of coffee in a little pill) but I believe I only took that one time. I was drinking plenty of coffee then and had sufficient youthful energy anyway. Later I discovered illegal stimulants and indulged in those from time to time.

I'm not sure why there is a problem with these energy drinks. They are basically a load of vitamins (primarily B-12) and caffeine. Apparently, they are causing a lot of irregular heartbeats and that is leading to an increase in ER visits.

I am puzzled. I often had insomnia as a teen and would rather have slept than been buzzing around.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Hail, Bloggers and Bloggees

I have been an advocate and fan of Freedom of Speech for many years. As you might have noticed, when I write about it, I capitalize freedom and speech. I have done so since the day in eighth grade when a teacher told us that it did not apply to students. I was stunned. And she was quite wrong... as subsequent events and court rulings have shown.

I was reminded of that when I was in the Navy and got into trouble for voicing my opinion in an answer to a question about a hypothetical situation by a shipmate. It turned out that those in the military have a very limited right to Freedom of Speech. It is ironic and understandable that those charged with defending the Constitution and the nation should not enjoy all of the rights that Constitution protects.

And bloggers and those who read their posts should be as supportive as possible of that specific right.

I often preach about how people should read blogs and listen to networks with which they disagree.

Apparently the president does not agree. This may be old news, as it goes back a week or so, but the president has made statements against Foxnews and conservative radio. He seems to feel that these two entities are exerting influence on Congress and impeding bi-partisanship and compromise.

Perhaps he is right that they influence politicians. But he is wrong in seeing it as a bad thing. It is exactly what Freedom of Speech is all about. Maybe he just thinks they are exerting undue influence, that they do not represent a significant portion of the citizenry. If so, he is wrong about that also.

If they did not represent a significant portion of the populace they would have withered away and gone out of business.

The left likes to shout about speaking truth to power. But isn't that just what conservative media is doing?  What is a national dialogue or a national discussion if only one side has a voice?

Friday, February 1, 2013

Winter Sucks

The expected high for today is 69, the low (which actually is tomorrow around 4 or 5 AM) is 42. It is what we call breezy (which means use thumbtacks to fix your hat to your head).
This is seen as "brutally cold" hereabouts.
People think we don't have seasons here in Florida. These are people who do not live here year round. Some who live here, but do not like it, say there are only two: summer and swelter. This is also untrue. I had a co-worker in Jacksonville who looked forward, eagerly, to the first cold fronts to move through. I thought he was nuts. If he wanted cold weather, there are plenty of places he could move to. I suggested Alaska, Wyoming, Montana, North (or even South) Dakota immediately. He claimed he didn't want to leave. I was just trying to be helpful.

But we do have seasons... primarily "hurricane" and "no hurricane" seasons. We also have tourist season each year, during the "no hurricane" season.

At one time, when tourist season ended, many motels and hotels shut down. I remember those days. Then some idiot decided it would be a great idea to attract tourists during the "hurricane" season. After all, families could come down in the summer and would not have to take the kids out of school. While I (when I reached my teens) appreciated the nubile young ladies who accompanied their parents and bratty little brothers and sisters, I did not appreciate the beach crowding, the traffic increases, and the idea that air conditioning should be set at 70 degrees F.

Those of us fully acclimated to south Florida do not like temperatures below 78.