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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Deeper than this thought reveals

A look at the GOP's proposed rules for the House reveals some fine print
to their deficit-cutting plan. Back in 2007, Republicans used budget
reconciliation, a process immune to filibuster, to pass the Bush tax
cuts and raise the deficit, two things reconciliation wasn't meant to be
used for. When Democrats took Congress, they changed House rules to
prevent such a move being made again. But the GOP's proposed House rules
roll back the changes. Specifically, according to the Center on Budget
and Policy Priorities, the new rules would allow reconciliation to be
used for bills that increase the deficit through tax cuts, though not
bills that contain spending that would increase the deficit.

Susan Edwards died this week of cacncer. She was 35. She was a reporter and was fearless when it came time to get the story from the most advantageous view point.

Politians make rule to serve their agendas regardless of the needs of the people represented and so many individuals work hard to bring facts to the public trusting them to use the info to their betterment.

Got to love the people, got to ask why the title polititan gives a group of power hungry charlitians the right to throw representation for all out the window?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

How to make a fast buck on an election even if you have a snowballs chance in hell of winning

Why do Republicans dread improved public education?  After all, every potential Presidential candidate writes a book and shamelessly hypes it during their campaigns (for as long as they may last - usually up to Iowa and New Hampshire).

Could it be that public schools go beyond just Reading, writing and arithmetic?  (Note - more commonly known as "the three Rs"- ignorance is bliss)  Could it be that they teach science, higher math and history - all of which if mastered can make you change your religion to atheism?

In any case, the Republican Presidential wannabes are true to their colors and making the most of this opportunity to get excellent exposure for their money making opportunity book sales.  Can't fault leading by example, even a screwy one.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

DNA provides answers to social questions

From an NPR article about DNA and learning more about our ancestors who live in caves.

"For example, a group in Spain published a paper this week analyzing the DNA from 12 Neanderthals found in a single cave. The analysis suggested the men were all brothers or cousins, whereas the women had come from different bands."

This amazing. It is something we could only speculate prior to this science. Once again women account for human diversity and men collectively protect thier domains.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Some of my showings at last nights Photo Club Meeting

It was cold as Santa's ice house at the Arts Center last night but 5 of us showed up. Here are a few of my offerings. The months theme was B&W. I think I did ok. LOL







Saturday, December 04, 2010

Life Is A Trip - So Be Sure To Take In The Sights

Click here for my Photo of the Day

First time I've posted to my blog from my I-Touch. Like my best friend said a couple of days ago, "Who would have imagined 40 years ago when we were Audio/Visual Aids in Hendersonville High School?"

Here I sit in the coffee shop missing my NAFA friends. That little group was (and I'm sure still is) a great bunch of people. We did some great things together and they still do. The North Alabama Free Thought Association is "the bomb"!

I hope to have a photo session with my daughter and a couple of her friends. They want thier pictures taken at the Barn but it is cloudy and threatening to rain. I'm still heading down there because time spent with my kids is always time well spent.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Taking time to enjoy the natural beauty of this life



 
How is it that I seem to have so little time to get things done? Could it be that I insist on stopping to smell the rose . . . Or is it's that at this stag of my life I can talk bullshit so well, folks just want more of my time? :-)




Speaking of stopping to smell the roses, I stopped by the side of the road on the way to work this morning and looked up to see a sliver of a Moon and an overly bright Venus just to its left. Sunrise was obscured on the horizon by the tail end of yesterday's storm moving off to the west. That subdued the bright orange of a sunrise and left the sky a beautiful array of blues from a translucent tropical water color to cobalt blue between bands of narrow long gray clouds. There was a little haze giving the Moon and Venus a beautiful glowing effect. It was a great way to start the day.

Friday, November 26, 2010



Yea I just love water.  Especially if there are boats around.  Took this from a Tour Bus window moving at about 40 MPH.  Not bad, Eh?


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Here Is Where We Had Our Thanksgiving Dinner

River Queen - Savannah, Ga


I've always perfered Thanksgiving out.  Home cooked is fine but not fair unless the cook just really loves to cook.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Opening a New Door Can Be Scary


I'm about to put something into motion that is primarily monetarily motivated but tells me how weird I can be too. I'm not going to say now what it is, but it is scary and while I think I know what is going to happen once I walk through that door, I may not be able to come back and I most definitely want to come back.
Oh how we think we can survive anything until we find ourselves in the mist of all it's consequences.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Life on the Road is dangerous



Life can run you over sometimes.  If you are lucky you'll never hear it coming.  If not . . . well just take not when the big shadow rises suddenly.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Enjoyable Pic


I did not take this picture and I don't know who did but I've always liked it for two reasons:
P
1 - It has beautiful shapely women in it and

2- It reminds me of picnics we took when we lived in Germany. 

Granted Mom and her friends where not so bold as to suntan topless or even strapless but they dressed down to the socially acceptable levels of the day.  Mom and Dad and their friends loved to fish and drink and tell dirty jokes and make sexually explicit innuendos when they had a few.  Dine and I just played.  Jeff was several years from conception in those days.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Columbus Day Ponderings

I've been off since the 1st and have enjoyed the relaxed self directed days. Sitting in the picture window at the Elk River Coffee Shop is an experience I could make a habit. I've found many such places to relax and ponder throughout my life. I seem to be gravitating toward the slower pace. I think my doctor finally has my medications balanced, LOL.

This window overlooks the north end of Main Street just off the town square. Fayetteville, TN - unlike its name sake in NC - is still a small town in size and disposition. Life is so slow, it's hard to understand how the local economy can support it. Yet it does with a hardware store on the square, a movie theater right out of "The Last Picture Show", a Merle Norman Cosmetics and a Electrolux (Authored Floor Care Service Provider Since 1924) mixed in with EdwardJones Investments, Rudy P's Trash & Treasures and a Town & County Realty & Auction.

On the Coffee Shop radio plays a song my Ex once choreographed a self reflecting dance to. Life, so full of crossed paths. Some understood and others not. This is just one of the values a nice Coffee Shop brings to one's life.

Friday, September 24, 2010

This will make you want to wear a Seatbelt!

This is the new "WEAR YOUR SEATBELT" Ad the UK Is doing, Started by some dude not hired to do it, but because the casue is important to him, he came up with this idea and now it is being hailed across the world as a beautiful commercial.


http://embracethis.co.uk//

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Case About Owning an Idea

More than thirty years ago, between 1957 and 1964, CBS provided television stations with a program called "Have Gun--Will Travel." The program starred "Paladin," a fictional cowboy who dressed in black, carried a derringer pistol, and handed out calling cards with a picture of a chess knight. More than forty years ago, in 1947, Victor DeCosta, the plaintiff in this case, began to appear, as a cowboy, at rodeos, hospitals, and charitable events. DeCosta dressed in black, carried a derringer pistol, handed out cards with a picture of a chess knight, and called himself "Paladin." In 1963 DeCosta sued CBS, claiming it had unlawfully copied his idea. Eventually, this court decided that CBS may have copied DeCosta's idea, but, the laws under which DeCosta had sued did not prohibit CBS from doing so. This court held that DeCosta had failed to prove a violation of trademark, or other relevant, laws.

My thoughts on this are simple, maybe DeCosta deserved some payment for his idea, but Richard Boone with CBS's media outlet made it a much fuller and enjoyable character.  If it had been left to DeCosta, the idea would have never captured the imaginaion of so many.  Should the originator of an idea own that idea to the exclusion of everyone elses use?  Something to ponder.


Yes, I love this character and I credit Richard Boone for brining him to life.  His portraial was perfect and it would be very difficult for another actor to create such a such a believeable and rich character. 

Friday, July 23, 2010

Died at 93 - Daniel Shore

Daniel Schorr, a longtime NPR contributor, broke stories during the Cold War and Watergate that won him numerous awards -- as well as the enmity of presidents, died today. He was 93. 

The last few years he wrote commentary on world issues.  I often did not agree completely with him, but I did charish his wisdom that cames from a long life of experience.  He open a Twitter account about a year ago; a bit late in life, but then who wants a bunch of nuts tweeting you when you're 92.  LOL  Actually one reason this is such a sad story is that he was still active in his commentary.  It seems like the last time I heard him on NPR was two weeks ago.  That is really an inspiring thought, to be able to do what you love for a long time and right up to the end of your time.



Here is a longer sumation of his carreer posted on NPR.

Schorr, who once described himself as a "living history book," passed away Friday morning at a Washington hospital. He was able to bring to contemporary news commentary a deep sense of how governmental institutions and players operate, as well as the perspective gained from decades of watching history upfront.

"He could compare presidents from Eisenhower on through, and that gave him historical context for things," said Donald A. Ritchie, Senate historian and author of a book about the Washington press corps. "He had lived it, he had worked it and he had absorbed it. That added a layer to his broadcasting that was hard for somebody his junior to match."


Schorr's 20-year career as a foreign correspondent began in 1946. After serving in U.S. Army intelligence during World War II, he began writing from Western Europe for the Christian Science Monitor and later The New York Times, witnessing postwar reconstruction, the Marshall Plan and the creation of the NATO alliance.


Schorr joined CBS News in 1953 as one of "Murrow's boys," the celebrated news team put together by Edward R. Murrow. He reopened the network's Moscow bureau, which had been shuttered by Joseph Stalin in 1947. Ten years later, Schorr scored an exclusive broadcast interview with Nikita Khrushchev, the U.S.S.R. Communist Party chief — the first-ever with a Soviet leader. Schorr was barred from the U.S.S.R. later that year after repeatedly defying Soviet censors.

He covered the building of the Berlin Wall as CBS bureau chief for Germany and Western Europe. In 1962, he aired a celebrated portrait of citizens living under Communist rule in East Germany.


Dan Schorr On His Own Career

He was reassigned to Washington in 1966. Other reporters in the bureau were already covering major institutions such as Congress or the State Department, so Schorr assigned himself to cover the implementation of President Johnson's Great Society programs.


Daniel Schorr On...


President Nixon


Watergate


The Fall Of The Berlin Wall


Edward R. Murrow


Sept. 11


Sputnik


The Creation Of CNN


Lessons Learned And Shared

"No one had such a beat," recalled his bureau colleague Roger Mudd. "He was everywhere. He had almost carte blanche to cover Washington."


David Broder, a longtime political reporter and columnist for The Washington Post, added: "I think he's unique in the sense that he's been at the center of so many different stories, both here in Washington and overseas, for so long. He kept his perspective so well and does not ever exaggerate what's taking place, but really let you know why it's important."


Becoming Part Of The Story


Schorr was surprised to find himself on the so-called Enemies List that had been drawn up by Richard Nixon's White House when he read it on the air. The list — naming hundreds of political opponents, entertainers and publications considered hostile to the administration — became the basis for one of the charges of impeachment against Nixon.


Schorr, along with some other members of the list, counted his inclusion on it as his greatest achievement.


Schorr won Emmys in each of the Watergate years of 1972, 1973 and 1974. Over the course of his long career, he was honored with numerous other decorations and awards, including a Peabody for "a lifetime of uncompromising reporting of the highest integrity." Schorr was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Society of Professional Journalists.


"He was sophisticated about the government and how it works," Mudd said. "He was a damned vacuum cleaner, is what he was."


'Killer Schorr'


In 1975, Schorr reported on assassinations that had been carried out by the CIA. "The anger of the administration can be gauged from Richard Helms' denunciation of Schorr," historian Garry Wills recounts in his 2010 book, Bomb Power.


Helms, then the CIA director, confronted Schorr in the presence of other reporters at the White House, calling him names such as "son of a bitch" and "killer."


"Killer Schorr: That's what they ought to call you," Helms said.


In 1976, Schorr reported on the findings of the Pike Committee, which had investigated illegal CIA and FBI activities. The committee had voted to keep its final report secret, but Schorr leaked a copy to the Village Voice, which published it.


Schorr At NPR


Analysis And Commentary


Daniel Schorr's Bio


Schorr was threatened with a $100,000 fine and jail time for contempt of Congress. But during congressional testimony, Schorr refused to identify his source, citing First Amendment protections. The House ethics committee voted 6 to 5 against a contempt citation.


But CBS had already taken Schorr off the air. He ultimately resigned from the network that year.


"CBS found that, like other big corporations, it did not like to offend the Congress," Mudd said. "He broke his ties to CBS and before they could fire him, he resigned."


An Enduring Career


In 1979, Schorr was hired to provide commentary for the fledgling CNN. The network inaugurated its programming the following year with his interview with President Jimmy Carter. But in 1985, his contract was not renewed, which Schorr counted as his second "firing."


"Schorr was always a person to challenge what the government was saying and being skeptical and contrary," said Ritchie, the Senate historian.


"It really is true that I would sometimes stand up for principle at the risk of my job," he told his son Jonathan for an interview on NPR's Weekend Edition last year. "It is also true that when I lose my job I get terribly nervous."

Upon leaving CNN, Schorr joined NPR, where he had been doing occasional commentaries for several years. He had been a senior news analyst for NPR ever since. He also wrote a column for the Christian Science Monitor for decades.

"What passes for commentary today is almost all opinion," Ritchie said, "but Schorr was part of that breed of commentators who dug up information before they pontificated about it."

Schorr was born in the Bronx in 1916, the son of Belorussian immigrants. He got his first scoop at age 12, when he saw the body of a woman who had jumped or fallen from the roof of his apartment building. He called the police — and the Bronx Home News, which paid him $5 for the information.

"It was the first time I'd ever seen a dead person in my life," he told NPR's Robert Siegel in a 2006 interview on All Things Considered marking Schorr's 90th birthday.


"Why didn't I react more emotionally to that? It was the essential journalist who manages to absent himself from the situation and simply report it without feeling it," Schorr said.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

This will make you want to wear a Seatbelt!

This is the new "WEAR YOUR SEATBELT" Ad The UK Is Doint, Started by some dude not hired to do it; but because the casue is important to him, he came up with this idea and now is being hailed across the world as a beautiful commercial.


http://embracethis.co.uk//

What in the world am I doing?

Looks like I manage to post only once a month these days. I have been busy this summer. I've moved my photographic endeavors to a new level in that I'm getting a photo club started in Fayetteville, TN and taking some web classes on improving my "seeing" photographically speaking.


Every weekend has me someplace doing something. The last week starting Saturday the 10th, Em and I took off to Tampa, Florida where I attended and ASHE conference (Health Facility and Equipment Engineering Stuff) and we returned late Saturday the 17th after spending a night in Chattanooga where I went to the Hunter Museum of American Art. I loved it and recommend all photographers to go and see how the painters do it. I envy their skills. They can do with a brush what takes a photographer a ton of equipment to try and achieve and they can create environments that we camera guys just can't mimic because of the need for all that equipment to capture what we have in tour heads. I hope to post some examples of what I mean soon.



This month my photo club is tasked with taking pictures that frame the subject. I gave this photo as an example, but I cheated.




I didn't drag my daughter down to a factory and have her pose in front of industrial equipment. I photo shopped her in (and none to professionally either) someone else's picture. In my defense, it was a quick experiment I did some time ago. It was a quick find when I emailed out the example to the club members. I just wanted to get them to see that framing your subject wasn't restricted to looking like a framed picture setting on a mantel.
I discovered summer Rodeos too. Not the big Civic Center Arena type although I have gone to those before. Locally we have several going on within 50 miles of here and they are extremely access able so you can get some great action shots.
 




And I've discoverd Re-enactments too. LOL  Photography is a great reason to get out and exerience things.





This is turning out to be a great summer.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Hot Days and Hot Girls Don't Mix Well In Politics

It was a hot day and honestly this young lady was the best looking thing at this event.  When she turned away from the podium, I couldn't tell if she was just over heated or discussed by what she heard.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

VW Bus - Our Magic Carpet Ride

A young student in my office has revealed his love of VW buses.  The has just acquired one and had great plans to restore it. 

That got me to searching my photo archive for a picture I took years ago.  Here it is.

Taken with a Yashica 124 G Twin lens propped up on something.



This is probably summer of 1973.  We are just about to get underway to a Moody Blues Concert in M√ľnchen, Germany.  This was taken at O'Brien Kasern at north end of Schwabach, Germany just south of Nuremberg.  The concert wasn't the best because the band was sloppy drunk when they performed.  But those road trips where always a blast. I'm on the left  with "VOTE" across my chest next to Jonah and his hair boots.  I can't remember the names of the other two.  What a life.  LOL

Friday, May 21, 2010

Technology bill undone by porn provision

"House Democrats pulled an $85 billion technology bill on Thursday after Republicans attached an unrelated provision that would have prevented agencies from paying the salaries of government employees caught watching pornography on the job."


Don't get me wrong, I'm not for any employer having to put up with employees who abuse government/company resources, but this is the kind of ridiculous legislation that Congress is waisting it's time on.  Abusive behavior by employees is punishable without an act of Congress nick picking what suits it's personal moral agenda.  Yea in this case it is the Republicans who would install a web cam in your bathroom to make sure you didn't use your toilet inappropriately.  They need to stop this kind of micro management.  If they honestly do not trust the agencies they fund to manage their people then they need to get rid of the managers.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

When Medical Science Speaks Without Enough Evidence

The term refrigerator mother  may not be familiar to you.  It wasn't to me, but then I've had very little exposure to Autism.  From Wikipedia I found this explanation.  It's scary the power a "learned medical professional" has over the well being of us working stiffs that do all the work and keep the puppy mill churning out new drones.


The term refrigerator mother was coined around 1950 as a label for mothers of children diagnosed with autism or schizophrenia. These mothers were often blamed for their children's atypical behavior, which included rigid rituals, speech difficulty, and self-isolation.


The "refrigerator mother" label was based on the assumption — now discredited among most, though not all, mental health professionals — that autistic behaviors stem from the emotional frigidity of the children's mothers. As a result, many mothers of children on the autistic spectrum suffered from blame, guilt, and self-doubt from the 1950s throughout the 1970s and beyond: when the prevailing medical belief that autism resulted from inadequate parenting was widely assumed to be correct. Present-day proponents of the psychogenic theory of autism continue to maintain that the condition is a result of poor parenting.

Think about this when your State starts discussing the legitimization of Clinical Marijuana.  Do the medical professionals know yea or nay?  Can they if the federal government makes it illegal to explore such research?

This posting may seem kind of unorganized, but such is the mind of a 40 mile commuter who listens to NPR.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Just one more Artical about Craig, I'm just so happy for the Kid and his Mom and Dad

Majors callup finally hits excited Kimbrel


WASHINGTON -- Craig Kimbrel awoke on Wednesday afternoon thinking that he would enjoy a day off by playing golf and spending some time with his girlfriend. By the time that he we awoke on Thursday morning, the Braves right-handed reliever was enjoying the luxuries of a Ritz-Carlton and reliving a hectic but memorable first day as a Major Leaguer.

"I was in the Ritz-Carlton, in the most comfortable bed ever, and thinking I'm in the big leagues right now," Kimbrel said. "This morning it finally hit me. Everything was happening so fast yesterday that I didn't even have a chance to sit down and think about it. It's a dream come true. God gifted me with the ability to throw the ball, and I'm just going to keep working at it."

As Kimbrel prepared for Thursday night's series finale gainst the Nationals -- a 3-2 Braves loss -- he was using Kris Medlen's glove and a pair of spikes that Nike had quickly shipped to Nationals Park. The 21-year-old right-handed reliever was still awaiting the arrival of his personal baseball equipment, which had been shipped to Syracuse on Wednesday in preparation for the three-game series Triple-A Gwinnett will play there this weekend.

At approximately 3:41 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Kimbrel learned that he had earned his first career call to the Majors and needed to get to Washington, D.C., as soon as possible.

After making an immediate exit from Tin Lizzy's in Buckhead, he and his girlfriend fought through some traffic on the way to his Norcross residence, where he needed to retrieve a suit and other clothing.

After utilizing the HOV lane on I-85 South to get to the Atlanta airport at 5:40 p.m., Kimbrel managed to get to the "A" Concourse in time to board a 6:20 p.m. flight that helped to deliver him to Nationals Park some time around the start of the fourth inning.

"It felt like [my girlfriend] was more nervous and excited about it than I was," Kimbrel said. "I was more worried about getting my stuff and getting to the airport."

While driving, Kimbrel had time to call his parents, who are traveling to Philadelphia for this weekend's series against the Phillies, and his grandmother, a devout Braves fan who resides near his home in Huntsville, Ala.
After providing his grandmother the good news, Kimbrel could only laugh when she responded with, "I figured it was coming."




A lot of Braves Fans are not happy with how this season is going.  I sure would be nice if adding Craig to the lineup helped turn this season around.  I know the kid has the heart, determination and dedication to make a difference.

OUCH!!!!!!!

It took officials at a Veterans Affairs Department hospital in Philadelphia more than a year to learn that a computer used to assess patient's response to treatments for prostate cancer had been unplugged, delaying assessments, according to an inspector general report released on Monday.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Local Boy makes it to the Majors

CONGRATULATIONS CRAIG!!!!!!



Craig Kimbrel is a good kid with great parents.  It isn't often a kid you know gets such a great opportunity to fullfill his dreams so dramaticly.  Craig was called up to the Majors as a closing pitcher for the Atlanta Braves.  What follows is a nice little article about his call-up.



Kimbrel scrambles to make way to Majors



Hard-throwing righty had impressed Braves this spring


WASHINGTON -- Craig Kimbrel learned that it would be beneficial for any of Triple-A Gwinnett's Major League prospects to have manager Dave Brundage's phone number stored in their cell phones.

As Kimbrel was eating in Buckhead around 3:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, he received a call from a number that he didn't recognize. Fortunately, he opted to listen to the message provided by Brundage, who was calling the young reliever to inform him he had received his first call to the Majors.

"He said you might want to call me back, so I called him right back," Kimbrel said. "Good thing I did because I wouldn't be here."

Approximately four hours after sitting in the middle of Atlanta for a bite to eat, Kimbrel found himself arriving at Nationals Park to experience his first night as a Major Leaguer. The 21-year-old right-hander arrived during the fourth inning, and a short time later he found himself exchanging hugs and handshakes in the visitor's bullpen.
"It was a big surprise," Kimbrel said. "I didn't see it coming. I woke up this morning around 6:30, went and played golf, ate lunch and was going to go to dinner."

The hectic schedule change was necessitated when the Braves decided late Wednesday afternoon to place Jair Jurrjens on the 15-day disabled list. After learning that he would be filling the vacant roster spot, Kimbrel had to drive approximately 20 minutes north to grab some clothes and then drive at least another 30 minutes in the opposite direction to get to Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in time for a 6 p.m. ET flight.

When asked if he used the HOV lane to combat Atlanta's traffic, Kimbrel smiled and said, "I had somebody with me, so it made it legal."

Kimbrel comes to the big leagues with plenty of confidence. He has recorded 21 strikeouts and issued just five walks while posting a 1.20 ERA in 11 appearances for Gwinnett this year.

"They say he's throwing really well down there," Braves manager Bobby Cox. "He impressed us during [Spring Training]."

Kimbrel, who didn't allow a run in the nine innings he completed during his first Major League camp this year, has been described a right-handed Billy Wagner. Thus maybe it is fitting that many also consider the 5-foot-10 hurler to be the Braves closer of the future.

With Kris Medlen tabbed to start in Jurrjens' place on Saturday, Kimbrel will be filling his void in the bullpen. The only damage incurred by the young reliever this year came when he allowed Durham a pair of runs during an April 24 one-inning appearance that included a hit batter, a walk and a wild pitch.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

GOVERNMENT TRANSPARENCY IS GOOD EVEN WHEN IT'S BAD

This article is from GovExec.com Columns: Management Matters.  The author,Brian Friel, covered management and human resources at Government Executive for six years and is now a National Journal staff correspondent.  The Italicized comments are mine. 

Earl Devaney has spent his career keeping Uncle Sam honest, first as an investigator at various agencies, then as the inspector general at the Interior Department, and now as the chairman of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, the oversight agency that is tracking spending under the $787 billion economic stimulus package signed into law in February 2009. Devaney said a few months later that he hoped his oversight board's Web site would be a prototype for government transparency in the future, helping Americans see how their tax dollars were being spent. Indeed, he said he hoped the site would help create "millions of citizen IGs."


On Recovery.gov, people can track hundreds of billions of dollars in contracts, grants and loans under the federal stimulus package. They can look at spending in their towns and counties and compare the distribution of dollars in all 50 states. Companies can review contracts that were awarded without competition to see whether they were given a proper chance to bid. This unprecedented transparency has triggered about 200 investigations into potential wrongdoing associated with the money. Now that is a value added achievement.


The site also has generated hundreds of news articles about problems with the data and questionable projects, creating a messy and controversial picture of the Recovery Act's effects on the economy. Proponents of the stimulus package complain that Devaney should have made sure the data was clean before releasing it to the public, since critics have used mistakes in the data to challenge the Recovery effort's effectiveness. Many news outlets, for example, reported stimulus dollars had been spent in "phantom" congressional districts, because some organizations that received funds entered incorrect information for the district labels. Easy problem to fix considering how informative this info can be. But then again different localities could start whining about not getting their "fair share".

Anyone who expected increased transparency to improve the public's view of government should take note of a CBS News/New York Times poll published in February that found a stunningly low 6 percent of Americans believed the stimulus had created jobs. That is not a typo. It really was 6 percent. Whoever said it was to "improve the public's view of government?" It's to give the public information so they can understand what their government is doing. How they perceive it is unpredictable, but it is still a good thing when done right.

That kind of feedback doesn't exactly inspire confidence that transparency is worth the effort for federal managers. Why bother with openness when the result is people will be less supportive of your efforts? Because it is responsible government, not to mention it will gauge public opinion on how important efforts are and/or how well these managers are doing with the tax dollars we trust them with. Still a good thing for the country but maybe not so good for an aggressive and career minded government manager who only wants promotions and could care less about how useful his projects are to the well being of this country or how wisely the funds are being used to achieve a desired accomplishment. It also give us an eye into the private sector as it uses tax money. How many times have you heard or witness lackadaisical performance by a contractor when dealing with government contracts?
 

The fact is transparency is here to stay. Now that the government is posting spending information in such great detail on Recovery.gov, there's no turning back. So the question is, how do managers avoid the transparency trap so openness doesn't come back to bite them? Maybe the government can't just dump its data on the public and expect people to make sense of it. No it can't.  As as Federal Contracting person, I know all too well mistakes happen and even with several "fresh eyes" looking over work, things slip by.  The software can be a real pain too but it was Our Government that put a man on the moon.  No other public or private entity ever accomplished that feat.  If we can do that then I would think we can do this.  There will be pain involved but we have to keep an eye on the goal and keep our minds off the critics who pick and ping on something they could never and would ever do themselves and know that our objective is right for the people of our great country.  But I bet the politicans screw it up.  LOL


Instead, federal managers will have to begin experimenting with methods of engaging the public to help answer questions and clear up misunderstandings associated with the new openness. Linda Travers and Sanjeev Bhagowalia, the federal technology officials who run the Data.gov Web site, have created one model - a blog on which visitors offer ideas and ask questions about the way the site is organized and how it could be improved.


So will the revolution that Earl Devaney started work? The answer isn't yet clear. But perhaps transparency needs to be coupled with engagement. Duh!

Monday, April 05, 2010

Death is a nasty game made worse when done by "Democractic" Governments

Here are two articles from the Daily Beast that showes the painful reality of killing done under the protection of governments.  I am not passing judgement here.  I think you will agree both articles have questionable positions.  I just want you to realize that killing is going on in the name of democratic governments and conflicts of interest are most definately a problem.


1. U.S. Admits Role in 3 Afghan Women's Deaths

After denying it for weeks, the U.S. military command admitted a role in the deaths of three Afghan women in a botched Special Operations raid February 12. The admission will only intensify questions about what really happened that night. NATO officials initially said the three women who died had been stabbed to death hours before the raid, but a new Special Operations report says bullets were dug out of their bodies post mortem. (An anonymous NATO official said there had been evidence tampering Sunday, but another disputed that Monday.) Two of the women were pregnant, and one had six other children; they were attending what survivors describe as a celebration of the homeowner's grandson's birth.

Special Operations attacks are blamed for many civilian casualties, which Gen. Stanley McChrystal has been working to limit in Afghanistan, with some success. NATO's statement Sunday said the lack of forensic evidence prevented investigators from being certain of how and when the women died, but they had "concluded that the women were accidentally killed as a result of the joint force firing at the men." Meanwhile, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been lashing out lately against the impression he is a U.S. puppet. The lesson, says The Daily Beast's Bruce Riedel, is to quit choosing other countries' leaders.
Read it at The Daily Beast:

http://e.thedailybeast.com/a/tBLudT2B7SwhTB8G3y9D32lW0as/dail1



2. A 23-year-old journalist is under arrest for exposing a secret Israeli assassination plot, and another has fled to London, afraid for his life. Judith Miller talks to insiders who have been gagged by the government about the scandal rocking Tel Aviv, and Israel's slide toward Iranian-style censorship.
You’ve probably never heard of Anat Kamm. Few people have. But for nearly four months, the 23-year-old Israeli journalist has been under house arrest in Tel Aviv for allegedly stealing and leaking secret Israeli defense ministry documents to a journalist from Ha'aretz, one of Israel’s leading dailies.
Kamm would love to tell her side of the story, her friends and associates tell me. So would her lawyers. So, too, would Dov Alfon, the chief editor of Ha'aretz, a liberal paper, and Uri Blau, the reporter to whom Kamm allegedly leaked the documents she was said to have copied while she was completing her military service.
“In what kind of country does a journalist simply disappear with other journalists and news outlets having no recourse to publish about it?” asked one blogger. “China? Cuba? Vietnam? Iran? North Korea?”
But they cannot talk or write about the espionage case. In an extremely rare action, an Israeli court has ordered the Israeli media not to publish or broadcast a word about Kamm, the allegations against her, or the investigation that has led Blau, the Ha'aretz reporter involved, to flee to London. For almost four months, Blau has been in self-imposed exile there to avoid answering questions about how and from whom he obtained the confidential defense department documents that are said to have resulted in a spate of stories alleging personal and institutional misconduct on the part of the Israeli Defense Forces, the hallowed IDF, and some of its senior officials.
In a nation that prides itself on its vibrant discourse and a free press, this is stunning, depressing news.
What is being called the “Anat Kamm affair” has produced its own anomaly: Since details about the inquiry have begun spilling out into the non-Israeli press, Israelis can only gossip about what the non-Israeli media are reporting. Violating such gag orders in Israel can result in severe financial penalties for Israeli newspapers and magazines and jail for editors and other media executives. At least one publication was temporarily closed several years ago for disregarding a similar court order.
The saga, I am being warned, is complex. Parts of it that have not been disclosed are said to be enormously sensitive. But based on what has been reported by Israeli bloggers, the Jewish Telegraph Agency, two British newspapers, and on Friday, the Associated Press—coupled with what I’m hearing from sources close to the investigation—the case could come to a head on or before April 12, when an appeals court is scheduled to hear an appeal by Israel’s Channel 10 and Ha'aretz of a court ruling in February upholding the gag order.
Here is what has happened so far. In mid-December, Kamm, then a media reporter for Walla, a popular Israeli Internet site on popular culture, was arrested and accused of having passed along secret information aimed at harming national security, a charge whose maximum sentence is life in prison. At the same time, an Israeli court imposed the gag order barring officials in Israel or the normally irrepressible Israeli media from disclosing any details of the case.
The government reportedly alleges that sometime during her two-year compulsory military service ending in June 2007, Kamm copied a vast number of secret documents without authorization—one blogger said as many as a thousand—while working as a clerk in the office of the IDF’s Central Command. She is accused of having given some of this information to Blau, who in turn used it to publish several stories in Ha'aretz accusing the IDF and senior staff of misconduct. She is reported to have denied the charges.
The story that supposedly triggered the government’s initial interest in the case was an article that Blau published in November 2008 alleging that the IDF had disregarded Israeli law in killing a Palestinian militant in the occupied West Bank in 2007. According to bloggers and the British paper, The Independent, Blau cited defense ministry memos and emails in reporting that the IDF had assassinated a member of Islamic Jihad in the West Bank town of Jenin in apparent violation of an Israeli Supreme Court ruling six months earlier outlawing such assassinations if a peaceful arrest was possible. Specifically, Blau’s article cited a confidential defense ministry document from March 2007 which included an order from Maj. Gen. Yair Naveh, then Israel’s senior commander in the West Bank, permitting the IDF to shoot three top Islamic Jihad members even if they did not pose a clear and present danger.
Read it at The Daily Beast:

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Centries of Hatred

"The Jewish people were building Jerusalem 3,000 years ago, and the Jewish people are building Jerusalem today (referring to the decision to build 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem). Jerusalem is not a settlement. It is our capital." With this defiant declaration, at an AIPAC conference, Benjamin Netanyahu informed the United States that East Jerusalem, is not occupied land.  It is Israeli land and Israel's forever.


This is probably a good thing for us because it reveals the perceived vital interests of Israel now collide with vital U.S. interest in the Middle East and America cannot back down without eviscerating her credibility in the Arab and Muslim world,

Good or bad, the line, drawn in sand, is being swept away and a stick is poised to draw a new one.

The arrogance of Christian Nations has to be smarting right now.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Brain Keeps on Going and Growing

Read the recently published NPR article on "The Aging Brain". It dispels the myth that we don't grow new brain cells after we become adults. More importantly it states that, "empathy — the ability to understand the emotional point of view of another. Empathy increases as we age. "

I already knew this from my own aging experience. I'd like to add that this is not some new out of thin air ability. After living and loving and hating and facing frustration while seeing others win, fail, redirect their efforts for a more attainable (and often more appropriate goal) and - at times - walk away no better off than when they started, it is a lessons learned sort of thing (yes the brain starts new neuron-circuitry). About the only thing I know that prevents it from improving life is over indulging in conservative politics (joke). After all, as industries and technologies change and cultures get stale and boring, so change the trends of societies. Empathy helps make sense of it all. Having empathy is not the same as having sympathy. Empathy you understand but don't necessarily agree or accept.

My little bit of philosophying. ;)


Do you have sympathy or empathy?
This is an old picture (35 mm slide) my Father took when he was a young man serving in Japan (early 50's).

Sunday, March 14, 2010

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Greed and Fear???

After hearing that Lane Kiffin, now former football coach at the University of Tennessee, jumped ship to coach at USC, and will bring his father and defensive coordinator, Monte Kiffin, and assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron to Southern California with him, I read this artical about the supression of free speech and can't help but think "what in hell is wrong with our society."  Comments anyone?

THE PROGRESSIVE REVIEW - January 14, 201
ACLU Sues Library of Congress Alleging Ex-Guantanamo Prosecutor Wrongfully Fired
by: Yana Kunichoff

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a lawsuit against the Library of Congress on behalf of Col. Morris Davis, the former top prosecutor at Guantanamo and an outspoken critic of the military commissions system, alleging he was unfairly terminated from his position with the Library's Congressional Research Service (CRS).

The lawsuit charged CRS with violating Davis' free speech and due process rights by removing him from his positions with CRS, following the publication of a series of articles he wrote for The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post about issues that were related to his former role with the military commissions, but not with his responsibilities at CRS.
"Col. Davis has a constitutional right to speak about issues of which he has expert knowledge, and the public has a right to hear from him," said Aden Fine, a staff attorney with the ACLU First Amendment Working Group. "Col. Davis's firsthand experience is invaluable to the ongoing debate over military commissions, and the public should not be denied the chance to hear from him just because he is a public employee."

Davis resigned from his role as a chief prosecutor in the Guantanamo military commissions in October 2007, citing his conviction that the system was fundamentally flawed. Drawing on his time with the military commissions and his 25 years in the United States Air Force, Davis became an outspoken critic of the commissions. He wrote articles, gave speeches and testified before Congress.
Then, in December 2008, he took up a position as the assistant director of the Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Division at the CRS.
"My status as the former chief prosecutor for the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay and my opinions on that subject are completely unrelated to my position at CRS and totally separate from my duties there, and they don't interfere with my ability to do my job," said Davis. "The work that CRS does is incredibly valuable and I am proud of the opportunity to continue serving my country after a career in the military. I hope to be reinstated to my original position so I can continue to support Congress at this critical time in our nation's history."
In response to the ACLU's call for Davis to be returned to his former position with CRS, the Library of Congress said that it would not return Davis to his job.
As Truthout previously reported, the articles written by Davis appeared in The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post on November 11, 2009. In them, Davis argued against using both military commissions and federal courts to try detainees.
The Wall Street Journal articles identify Davis as the former chief prosecutor for the military commissions. He retired from the military in 2008. In the ACLU's lawsuit, it said that Davis said he wrote the pieces in his personal capacity, made no mention of CRS, wrote the pieces outside of his work hours and did not receive payment for the articles.

Shortly after the publication of these articles, Davis received a number of phone calls, emails and requests for meetings from his supervisor at CRS, Daniel Mulhollan. On November 20, Davis received a final phone call saying that his employment would be terminated, and he was transferred to a temporary 30-day position, which will expire on January 20.

The ACLU lawsuit said that Davis had previously attended a conference concerning the military commissions and submitted a law review article expressing his views in connection with the conference... Mr. Mulhollan approved his participation, with the only condition being that Col. Davis had to participate on his personal time by using a vacation day, because of the subject of the conference. Guantanamo and the military commissions system had nothing to do with his CRS job responsibilities or duties.
The lawsuit also highlighted the lack of an official policy regarding CRS employees and whether personal writings must be subject to prior review or that supervisors must be notified about the intention to publish.
It goes on to say, "The decision to terminate Col. Davis for his speech has intimidated and chilled other CRS employees from speaking and writing in public. CRS employees are confused, uncertain, and fearful about what outside speaking and writing is permissible."
The ACLU is suing James Billington, the Librarian of Congress and Mulhollan in the US District Court for the District of Columbia.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A NORMAL PERSON WHO DID SPECIAL THINGS!



On the way into work this morning, I heard that Ms. Miep Gies had died at 100. Impressive age but not the reason for her on-air obituary. She was the office secretary who defied the Nazi occupiers by hiding Anne Frank and her family for two years and saved the teenager's diary


That story is a bringer of tears in itself. But the commentator did what is all too often done when it comes to getting in that “this story is unique” standard of today’s journalism.

Ms. Gies was the last of the few non-Jews who supplied food, books and good cheer to the secret annex behind the canal warehouse where the Franks hide along with other Jews hid for 25 months during World War II.

After the apartment was raided by the German police, Gies gathered up Anne's scattered notebooks and papers and locked them in a drawer for her return after the war. But as we all know Anne did not survive the war having died of typhus at age 15 in a concentration camp in March of 1945. Yes that was toward the end of the war and her camp was liberated just two weeks after her death.

Ms. Gies said she did not read the diary but after the war, Otto Frank, Anne’s father, returned to Amsterdam and lived with the Gies family. When he learned of Anne’s deaths, she gave him the diary saying, “this is Anne’s legacy”.

Ms. Gies who has been hailed as a hero, never accepted that she was special herself. She claimed she did what she had to because these people needed help. She said, “"I don't want to be considered a hero. Imagine young people would grow up with the feeling that you have to be a hero to do your human duty. I am afraid nobody would ever help other people, because who is a hero? I was not. I was just an ordinary housewife and secretary."

This is where the announcer pissed me off. Just after a recording of Ms. Gies was played saying just what I wrote about her not being special and why she said it, this announcer ignores her wishes and says, “but she was special . . .” Why did this idiot announcer need to contradict Ms. Gies and her well thought out answer to why she helped hide folks during that insane war?

She was an ordinary person who did special things. Her husband died in 1993. She is survived by her son and three grandchildren.



You can read and listen to this NPR article at:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122469287

Saturday, January 09, 2010

The Weather Outside is Frightful!!!


Coldest its been in a long time here in Lincoln County, Tennessee.  Anyone ready for Spring?  Or am I jumping the gun?

Friday, January 08, 2010

Winter Is Here



Actually this is last year.  We didn't get this much snow this weekend. 
But it is colder than a Witches Tit!!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Creativity is not proportional to superior equipment.



Ken Rockwell has a great site in which he reviews cameras, lenses and other photography related accessories not to mention a good bit of advice and insight. It is simple in design yet full of useful info if you are camera hunting.

He has a what’s new section that I check on periodically just for his attitude. He has opinions on everything from RAW vs. JPG to old film cameras to digital. I don’t always agree with him and with the constant change in digital photography – software to accessorized equipment – some times he has to go back and revise his comments. That is part of what keeps me going back.

I bought my Nikon D300 after reading his views on it. (Yes, Ken I gave you credit when I made the purchase at Adorama) Yet today he will tell you not to waist your money because the N90 has everything the D300 has but lighter. I have no qualms over comments like that. I learned a long time ago you make the best decision you can with what you know at the time. With digital cameras coming out so often these days you just have to pick a point to make a commitment. I’m happy with my D300. I know how it works and can make adjustments quickly on site. I’ve even won a contest with the photos I’ve taken with it. I’m not without experience with film cameras since I’ve been at this for over 40 years.

Which brings be to the purpose of this blog entry. Ken posted yesterday –

New decade, new deal.



Let's try to forget how many tens of thousands of dollar each of us threw at DLSRs last decade, and how little we have to show for it today.



Let's see: I burned through a D1H, D70, D80, D40, D300, D3, Rebel XTI, 5D, 5D Mark II, numerous Mavicas and point-and-shoots and I forget what else, and what is it all worth today? Worse, how about in just 5 years when the D3 and 5D Mark II are expired?



How about all the time I spent banging out reviews of all that junk? I must have ten huge 100 pages (when printed) on each of the D70 and D1X, and today, no one cares.



Compare that to the numerous pages I have up about the Nikon F100, which I wrote back in the 1990s. That work is still usefully, heck, the one guy I saw yesterday, Michael Chan, had just bought a used F100 and was having a blast with it.



So why review digital stuff, when something like the
LEICA IIIf has been cranking out great pictures for sixty years, and in 2020, the camera and its review will still be as useful as it is today.




Again I’m not disagreeing, but what I love about digital is post click production. Developing film and printing it is time consuming and costly. Yea, you can have someone process the film for you and even print the pictures, but the number of photos I take does not make that affordable nor convenient not to mention the problem with dealing with a distant photo processor when you want something that isn’t an industry standard. Just try to get a 10 x 6 picture on an 8 x 10 piece of photo paper via email. Cameras and software will change constantly. But the images I’ve captured will be as fixed as I make them and that means I have the most control with digital.

Yes, film and film cameras are still superior to digital today when it comes to quality of equipment and achievable results. After all, any photo can be digitized after it is processed. But what you are doing and what you want to achieve and what you can do with alternatives should figure into what equipment you use as much as superior results. Creativity is not proportional to superior equipment. Ken will tell you that right up front.







Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Reluctant Mr. Darwin - a good read.




For Christmas, my son gave me David Quammen’s, The Reluctant Mr. Darwin. I’ve enjoyed reading it even though I know how it ends.

The book covers the period 1837 through 1882. Quammen deliberately bypasses the “Beagle years” (1831 – 1836) and concentrates on Charles Darwin, “the shy patriarch with bald head and the full beard, the breeder of pigeons and primroses, a very private Englishman who wound up buried in Westminster Abby, the fellow with a good for bank notes, presents to us a comfortably downy image” but not everything is so comfortable. “At the core of his work is a difficult, scary materialism.” Quammen explores that theme as well the idea that it was difficult and scary even to Darwin.

What I find interesting about this book is how different the times are. All through my read I am struck by two ideas:

1) How people communicated and socialize 140 years ago. Letter writing was the personal chat medium of the times. Publishing and membership in interest societies was a major source of exchange when it came to examining lofty ideas. And if you should think that Victorian text of the times was stogy and formal . . . well, Darwin wrote in abbreviated forms that would make any modern text message guru proud.

2) How much we take medicine for granted today. Darwin and his wife Emma had 10 kids. Three died in childhood. Darwin was sick most of his life. Down’s syndrome was not yet discovered as it is known today and pathogenic microbes had yet been discovered. Malaria was thought to be caused by miasmal vapors from swamp land. Diseases that we take vaccines for today were epidemics and ravished towns and villages because their causes were unknown. Yet, it is easy to neglect that when you think of just how thoroughly Darwin changed science and our understanding of the causes of the great diversity of life.

Tis a good read and not too technical. There is even a bit of the thrill of racing as a young untrained adventurer pushes Darwin and cause Darwin to dig deep for the personal character to do the right thing.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Elk and No Elk

Teresa Binstock, while in Colorado Mts., posted this video of an Elk migration. It is cool to see such a big herd. I live near the Elk River in Lincoln County, Tennessee (our paper is the Elk Valley Times) and we have no elk - wild or captive.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SxxOTkfKPk

Actually to say I live near the Elk River in Lincoln County, Tennessee is like saying a double negative in a weird "Chet" sort of way. We have no Elk and Lincoln county is not named for Abraham Lincoln. Go figure. LOL

Friday, January 01, 2010

HAPPY NEW YEAR

Its a new day, a new year, a new decade and I've not made any resolutions. After 50 years of trying and succeeding so seldom I don't bother anymore. I also happen to be pretty satisfied with who I am.

I've given some thought to back dating some post and probably will. I've given some thought to posting pictures done by other photographers that I really like, but I probably won't. I just don't know where I got the pictures. I will keep posting my own pictures and the pictures may or may not have anything to do with my comments, although I do tend to like the "stream of conscience" approach.

Its been hard to avoid political commentary. Politics are the legitimate form of lying it would seem, although I doubt any mother or father would accept it from their kids. It depresses me - so I avoid it.

Em and I spent the day in Huntsville. We ate breakfast at the Broken Egg Cafe in the Bailey Cove section of town. Pricey but good. We tried Cracker Barrel first but they had a 35 minute wait so we didn't stay and it was good that we didn't. Broken Egg was better. We skipped lunch and had popcorn at the movies. Avatar in 3D was great! I loved it! I was afraid after hearing about how much attention the creator put into the special effects the story would suck. But it was pulled off nicely. I might have opted for a smoother or more detailed ending, but it is over two hours long. I'd have to say it was one of the best movies I've seen in a long time. I highly recommend it!

We ate supper at Chili's then came home and enjoyed a quiet evening. I checked on the Outback Bowl since Auburn was in it. After Tennessee sucked yesterday in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl‎, I needed to hear the SEC was still a power house. Well it is and Auburn pulled it out in overtime:

Outback Bowl: Northwestern Wildcats 35 - Auburn Tigers 38

Life is Good!

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You may consider this picture exploitive. However, I would recommend you look at it with the same curiosity that I did. Surly you see just a bit of risque humor here and how odd it is that a person would mark their body in what could be considered self deprivation. I wondered why she would care if her partner knew her name if she hadn't managed to give it before getting into this . . . hhhuuuuhhhh . . . predicament.