Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What does the world think of Trump?

While living in Germany we vacationed to the Czech Republic staying in a hotel in Prague.  I don't remember the year.  It may have been 2009 or later.

While at the hotel we discovered we had no pillows.  We called the front desk and requested them.  I said I could come down and get them.  The gentleman at the front desk insisted he would bring them.

Within a minute he was there knocking at our door.  We let him in and he proceeded to set things up for us.

"You're Americans?" He asked.

I am always a little hesitant to say yes.  Sometimes this becomes a situation where I have to defend my country. After a while, you get sort of tired doing that.  But, the Czechs generally like the Americans.  So, I told him we were.

"I had the opportunity to attend a seminar put on my Donal Trump." He said.

He didn't really make it clear whether or not that Trump was there.  But it was undoubtedly sponsored by Trump. Also, my memory is a little hazy on the details.  It may have been more of a seminar.  It involved people in other countries who were involved in the hotel business, I think.

"It was amazing."  He said.  What impressed him the most was the professionalism.  The workshop/seminar or whatever emphasized all the work ethic ideas we in the USA take for granted.  Honesty, hard work, efficiency and customer centric service.

"It was hard, but I learned so much.  We in the Czech Republic have a long way to go to match what the Americans do."

To say the least, my chest was popping buttons.

The whole incident left me very proud to be an American.

Is Trump the right candidate?  It may be too early to tell.  But if he is the Republican Candidate, he's got my vote.

And the world will be open to him and willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, at the least.

Windows 10 on the Surface Pro 3 - The Refinement continues

OK. So, I've had this Surface Pro 3 since about this time (I think) when I was in Seoul, South Korea.

And I've come to like it even more.  Windows 10 appears to me to be a further refinement of the tablet/computer interface.  To be honest, I wasn't completely sold on the tablet angle.  I had problems getting access to some icons - mainly in the systray.  I'm not sure they have solved all of that, but they seem to be getting closer.

They are making more of a distinction between "tablet" mode and non-tablet mode.  When you swipe from the right side there is, among other things, a button that allows tablet mode.  The windows are full screen.

They've also refined swiping from the left side.  You get all of the open windows displayed in miniature and you can pick one.  I like this a LOT.  It's a feature I missed when I had the MacBook Air.

I still have occasional problems with wifi signals not showing up sometimes.  But now it's just an annoyance more than anything.

And I still don't like the two button mouse pad.  I only need one button.  I keep clicking in the middle which sometimes mean I click the left button and sometimes the right.  That annoys the crap out of me.

So, so far, I've been very happy with it.  In fact, my wife was so impressed I got her one for her birthday.

Monday, August 24, 2015

California bill would close ‘insidious’ wage gap between men and women

Sick, pathetic Leftist doctrine.  CA is not interested in anyone working in the state. Disgusting.
In an attempt to narrow the “insidious wage gap” between men and women, the California Legislature is on the verge of passing a stronger equal pay law that supporters believe will be the toughest in the nation — but some say still doesn’t go far enough.

Not only will the California Fair Pay Act make it more difficult for employers to justify paying men more than women for “substantially similar” work, but employers will be prohibited from retaliating against women who ask about or discuss the pay of their male colleagues.

“We’re closing all the loopholes,” said state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, who authored the bill. “No more excuses.”
They call them loopholes.  This idiotic article is chock full of Double Speak.

This is my warning again:  GET. OUT. OF CA.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Ideological Purity

Sam Spencer had worked as a newspaper reporter/commentator for 35 years.  He started out in high school as the editor of the school newspaper, then in college was on the team that put together the college newspaper.  After getting his masters in Journalism and Art Communications, he landed a sweet position as assistant editor of a major metropolitan newspaper.

But those were the good old days.  These were now the really tough days.  The internet completely changed things.  He lost his job as editor of the New York Central Newspaper when it finally closed its doors after being in existence since the founding of the country.  He worked briefly for a small Midwestern newspaper in Iowa.  But no one was reading newspapers anymore.  After 6 months, they closed their doors and he was let go.

Sam had always been a Left-of-Center sort of guy.  But as his main sources of income one-by-one started dying off, he turned more and more bitter.  How can the government stand by and watch what was going on?  Why did it have to be left up to him to find a secure job?  And what about the thousands and thousands of other journalists and typesetters and who knows who else that were now sitting on their collective butts at home…waiting…for what?

Yes, Sam had decided the government needed to get more involved in the day-to-day actions and decisions that were being left to companies.  Why did it always seem their answer to anything was to fire people?  There HAD to be a better answer.

Sam realized his days were coming to a close.  He was in his early 60s.  No job. Just enough savings to last him until he maybe reached early retirement.  

Sam then made a decision that would change his life.  He finally, by 2015, stepped into the Internet Age. 

He started a blog.

And in his blog he expounded on all of the ideas that he thought should be done to save the country.  More welfare for the people.  Free medical care for everyone.  The State governments should have to be accountable, not to the people but to the Federal Government. In essence, there really would not be any state governments.  It would all be National. 

And Sam discovered something about his writing style.

He was eloquent.  And the more his writings veered to the left, the more readers he garnered.  But even with thousands of readers a day his website was still barely able to help him make ends meet. 

He was close to deciding to call it quits and just retire when he got the fateful email.

“Sam, our consortium are interested in your blog and would like to help you take it up a notch.  Reply back ASAP and let’s see if we can help you out.”

It was signed Jeffrey Simmons and his title was Strategic Aid.

What the hell was this?  He was hopeful and at the same time cynical.  How could he not be?  But what did he have to lose?  He replied and the two set up a meeting. “The Consortium”, whatever that was, bought him round trip tickets to meet them in San Francisco.
After the meeting in the Starbucks, the several dapperly dressed men left with Sam a little stunned.  A monthly salary equal to what he made all last year.  A nice office overlooking the Bay, an apartment just a block away.  He could pick his own staff.  And the content was up to him but…

And that was the hardest part.  But… he would receive guidance as to what to write about. And positively no one was to know about The Consortium. 

Guidance?  What did that really mean?  They assured him that he would have what amounted to complete control.  They had been following his blog for quite some time and knew he was on the right track and believed in the same centralized governmental control that they wanted to see happen in America.

Sam stared at the contract, his eyes skipping from one part to another.  There were a few issues about control, but these guys really, truly believed in him.  There was little disagreement, right?  Ideas that the people of America couldn’t be relied to make the right decisions.  Look where we were. 100 million out of work with no upturn in the economy in sight.  Tens of trillions of dollars in government debt.  And these clowns were voted into office?

Coffee shops are not quiet places for contemplation.  The coffee grinder was loud.  “Sam! Grande Latte!” the barista shouted as he placed the cup on the counter.  Dishes and cups clinking and washed.  People talking – it wasn't a library.

But Sam didn’t hear any of it. His ship had finally come in.  He took a deep breath and signed the contract.

Sam watched the live feed online with his staff.  He did it.  He really, really did it!  They watched as the gavel went down for the last California Assembly session.  The direct elections of Assemblymen had ended.  From that point on, the state congressmen and senators would be appointed by the Federal Government.

California was the first to acquiesce.  One-by-one, all over the nation, the symbolic gavel had been slammed for the last time.  Minnesota, Wisconsin, Oregon, Washington State, on and on and on.  The last hold outs were the diehard Red States of Texas, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Tennessee.  But by then the vast majority of the states had turned over their power to the National Government.  The threat of force and, in some cases, the show of force convinced them to fall in line. Since these hold out states weren’t all contiguous, it was impossible for them to truly fight back with a united front.

Sam smiled.  The really silly part was the constant references to the US Constitution as if it mattered anymore.  Since the early twentieth century, the American people had wandered cluelessly, aimlessly like lost puppies away from the document, rendering the Constitution meaningless and powerless.

The staff let out a cheer.  History had been made.

“Sam, that’s it!”  Said Weaver, his right hand man. He owed a lot of his success to Weaver.  Especially, when Sam and The Consortium were at logger heads.  Weaver would step in and talk him down and help him organize to get the stories out.  But Weaver wasn’t a good journalist, he hated to say. But he had other talents that made him so invaluable.  In some ways, Weaver was even more of a believer in Leftist causes than he was.  “I was born this way” is what he always said.

Sam retreated to his office just as his desk phone rang.

“Hello, Sam Spencer here.”

“Sam.  Have you been watching?”

It was Jeffrey Simmons, the Strategic Aid who had first contacted him with the fateful email.

“Jeff, good to hear from you.” Sam leaned back in his chair and ran his free hand through his thinning grey hair. He sort of chuckled, but it was more of a sigh than a chuckle.  “Yeah.  We did it.”

“And it was all because of you.  You and your staff and the three million hits a day to your website.”

“Well, yes, but your ‘guidance’ helped.”  Sam emphasized the word “guidance”.  What he really meant was the guidance was more “you shall say this” than “you should say this.”

Sam continued. “We had our disagreements over the years, but in the end it all worked out.”

Jeff laughed.  “Yes, well it was for the team, so to speak, right?  But it was your wordsmithing that changed the hearts of the people. And for that The Consortium will be forever thankful.”

There was a slight silence.

“But, Sam, this is really only the beginning.”

“Of course, I agree.  We have more to say.  There are still many out there who disagree.  We have to continue to denigrate them to the ash heap of rewritten history.  We’ll make sure they’re marginalized. Make no mistake about it.”

“Sam, that’s good to hear.  There can be no disagreement with The Consortium.”

“Of course, it will be done.”

“Thanks, Sam.  We’ll talk again soon.”

No sooner had Sam hung up the phone, it rang again.  He immediately picked it up. “Hello, Sam Spencer speaking.”

“Sam,” the person on the phone quickly said, “it’s Senator Larry Singleton.”

Sam knew this man.  He was one of the most outspoken people against what had become to be called “The Relinquish.”

“Mr. Singleton,” Sam didn’t even try to call him Senator.  That title was done away with. The senator was now just a public citizen.  Even the word “private citizen” was improper.  In fact, not only improper to say it, it was unlawful to say it. There was nothing private anymore.  All was the State. 

“Sam.  You’ve got to listen to me.” Sam caught something.  Was it fear?  Was it desperation?

“Larry, go ahead.  I’m listening.”

“Uh…Sam -” He paused.  Did he move away from the phone?  He came back. “-Sam, something’s going on.”

Sam caught something odd in his voice.  Why the hell did he even call me?  After all, he was “the enemy”.  “Larry, what the hell do you mean?  Why are you calling me?  Can I mention this is all a little strange?”

“Listen, you’re a decent man.  I know in my heart you really are.”

“Larry, it’s over.  Don’t you have a wife and daughter?  Can’t you talk to them?”

There was another pause.  He realized finally that Larry was in transit.  He wasn’t running.  He was walking fast through the streets. He could hear cars pass by and a siren of some sort.

“Sam, you have no idea what you are a part of.  You don’t realize what you’ve unleashed.”

Sam smiled inwardly.  This sounded almost like the rantings of someone about to really lose it. "Larry, you need to go home.  Take a pill or something.”

“Sam.  I – I can’t go home.”

Sam stopped.  What was he saying? “You mean your wife is mad at you?  Did she kick you out?”

“No!  No that is NOT what I mean.” Again he moved away from the phone.  Then he came back. “Someone is after me.  I mean some people are after me.”

“Holy crap, Larry.  Call the cops!”

“That’s just it.  It’s the police that are after me.”

This was just getting stranger. “Talk to me.  What did you do?”  Larry Singleton may have been the enemy, but he was honest as the day was long.  In fact, 20 years ago he might have even voted for the guy.  Sam was starting to smell a story. 

“My wife called me saying they were waiting for me to get home.  They told her I was being arrested for Crimes Against the State.”

Sam was still confused as to why the police would do such a thing.  “Crimes against what?  What the hell are you talking about?”

“Sam, this is ALL YOUR FAULT!”

“Larry, this isn’t the Soviet Union.  This is America.”

“NO IT’S NOT!”  Was he sobbing?  “They’re rounding us up.”

“Who?  Who is rounding up who?”

“The Consortium.”

Sam went silent. No one, not a single soul knew about The Consortium. How did he know about them?

“Sam?  Are you still there?  I was your Straw Man.  Did you hear me?  I WAS YOUR STRAW MAN!”

Sam’s head started spinning.  This was getting stranger by the second. His voice dropped down several decibels. “Are you telling me you had a contract with The Consortium?”

“Hell yes, I did!  It was all a set up.  You mean you didn’t know?  The Consortium offered me guidance-“

There was that fucking word again.  Guidance. 

“ – and they in turn supplied you with retorts.  Y  - you mean you didn’t know this? How the hell could you not know this?  Holy shit!  You were played! “

Sam’s voice got weaker.  “Are there others? I mean, others like you that they are going after?”

“Yes, yes.  I know of at least one more, uh,  Senator Lakeland, I think.”

Sam was stunned hearing this.  “Senator Lakeland?  Are you serious?  The guy said he would take up arms before he’d let ‘The Relinquish’ happen.”

“Well...? Did he?”

Sam knew the answer to that.  Lakeland didn’t.  And never was going to.  It was easy to conclude Lakeland had a contract with The Consortium, too.

“Sam, they promised me the moon!  I was going to have a whole department to run.  I was going to make more money than I could have ever made as a senator.  Now they want to arrest me and who knows what. Maybe send me to a –“

“- gulag.” Sam finished the sentence with Larry.

“Hey, listen.  Maybe we could meet and discuss - “

Then there was nothing but a dialtone. 

As he stared at the dead phone he heard loud voices out in the bullpen.   He looked up just as Weaver stuck his head in his office. “Boss.  There are some police here that keep asking for you - .”

The police didn’t wait for Sam to come out.  Three large uniformed officers pushed through.

“Samuel Spencer, you are hereby being placed under arrest for Crimes Against The State.”

“So, you going to read me my rights?” Sam dryly asked.

“Rights?  What rights?”  One of the policemen replied just as dryly. 

As they were handcuffing him, Weaver pushed through. “Sam! What’s going on?  Why are they here?”

Sam looked up at Weaver touched by the concern.  “Weaver, take over.  Try to find a good online journalist to help you out.  I just hope I can get back here to work with you again.  I don’t know what-“

They didn’t let him finish his sentence, shoving him out the door.
The whole place went silent.  All the celebrating stopped. Weaver stood looking on as the police disappeared with Sam out the main door.

Then the Sam’s phone rang.  Weaver, still standing next to Sam’s desk, answered it.

“Hello, Sam Spencer’s office, Weaver here.”

“Weaver.  It’s Jeff.”

Weaver smiled. “Jeff. Thanks for calling.”

“Hey no problem.  So, I take it the police were there?”

“Yes.  Sam was just now taken away.”

Jeff sighed.  “Good.  What a shame.  But now you’re in charge.  We have high hopes for you.”

Weaver smiled broadly.  “Don’t worry, Jeff.  I won’t let you and The Consortium down.”

“That’s good to hear.  Such a shame we had to let Jeff go.”

Weaver nodded in agreement. “ Yes.  It’ll be tough to find a ghost writer to fill in, but we’ll find one.  No one could write like Sam.  He really was able to reel them in and make the case for the cause.”

“Yes, I agree, but…”  Jeff sighed.  “he lacked a certain quality.  He didn’t have the ideological purity we really needed.”

Weaver again agreed.  “Yes, that is for sure.  But you certainly won’t have that problem with me.  I was born this way.”  He laughed.

Jeff laughed, too.  “Fine.  That’s fine.  We’ll talk again soon and offer more…guidance.”

Weaver smiled again. “I look forward to it.”

They hung up.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

How US Sugar Policies Just Helped America Lose 600 Jobs

I talked about this before.  If you believe highfructose corn syrup is the cause of all our obesity, get rid of the sugar subsidy.  It's the reason the soft drink industry converted to HFCS.  And now appears to be the reason Oreos will now be made in Mexico.

If the government wants people making Oreo cookies and similar products to keep their jobs, a logical starting point would be to eliminate the U.S. sugar program, including barriers to imported sugar.

This obvious connection between the lost jobs and sugar quotas was missed by many observers. According to one online commenter: “This is why tariff[s] on products coming to U.S must be raised.”

That’s backwards. When protectionist policies like the U.S. sugar program lead to offshoring, the response shouldn’t be to pass new laws to discourage such offshoring or to raise tariffs even higher. The response should be to eliminate government policies that encourage offshoring in the first place.

You will comply

Johnathan showed up at HR’s office promptly at 10am just as the email said.  He wasn’t sure what it was all about.

Ellen looked up when she heard the soft knock on the door frame. She smiled.

“John, thanks for coming by. Take a seat.”

John smiled and sat down.  “So what’s this about?  Am I getting laid off or something?”  He said it in a half-kidding tone.  Sort of a guarded effort just in case it really was about him getting laid off.
Ellen chuckled.  “Oh no, nothing like that.”

John relaxed a bit, but tried not to show it.  The half guarded comment helped to stave off too much angst.

She typed something on her computer.  There was a moment of silence as she read.  Was it about him?  Was she the kind of person distracted by emails?  These thoughts sort of ran through his mind during the 20 seconds of silence.

“Okay…” she said.  “I have been notified by the Compliance Department that – “

“uh...Compliance Department?  John was bewildered.  He had never heard of this department before. 

“What is that?”

“Oh, it’s an observation group set up to ensure we are all following company policy”

“You mean….like state regulations regarding codes of design?”

“No, not really.”

“Then what?”

“Well, let’s go through their findings and it will become plain.”

She thought for a second then said “You know that some companies set up observers to ensure safe measures are being followed, right?”

“Well, yes.  I know about these.  I never liked them.  But I understand what they do.  They observe workers going about their duties – generally, in the field during operations or construction.  If they see unsafe practices, they will write up something that gets forwarded on to their superiors.  Sort of a ‘best practices’. “ John never liked these set-ups since if the person observing you just never liked you he could use the opportunity to “hit you over the head with a hammer” so to speak.  This could go into your permanent record at work and possibly impede your ability to advance.

“But, Ellen, this is an office environment.  The only thing the Compliance group would see me do is maybe use the stapler in a dangerous fashion.”  He laughed and this caused Ellen to laugh too.

“No, not quite like that, but what the Compliance Department is looking for is namely interactions between individuals.  What you may do…or say.”

“Oh.  So, if I didn’t help someone with a coffee spill I would get in trouble with that?”

“No, not quite like that.”  She clicked some more on the computer.  “Here’s what they observed about you –“

“Wait.”  John seemed a little disoriented.  “They observed me? “

Ellen looked unfazed “Uh, yes.  They talked to you –"

“Wha- wait. They talked to me?  When?  And if they did, how come I didn’t know who they were?”

“Welll….they don’t announce who they are and-“

“What do you mean by that?  They're undercover?”

The word “yes” came out slowly.  “…yes.” 

“So what happened?  What did I say or do wrong?”

She clicked some more on the computer. “According to the compliance officer, you started talking about gay marriage and your feelings about abortion.”

John shook his head trying to rid himself of what was twisting into a nightmare.  “So according to this guy I just started spouting off about my beliefs regarding…. Hold a sec…”

His eye focused on a point far away. “I know what you’re talking about.  I remember this.  And it’s completely wrong.”

“Oh yes?  How so?”  Ellen asked – in a way that seemed to indicate she really wasn’t interested in his version of things.

“He started the conversation.  He started talking about the ‘damn gays’ and how they were destroying our country.   But I stood up for gays but not for gay marriage.  I agreed with him that gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry but as a whole they contributed quite a bit to society.

Then he brought up abortion and how it was ruining the country.  And again I agreed with him and wished we could defer to the States whether or not they wanted abortion legalized in each and every state rather than allow the overreach of the Federal Government to impose its will.”

Ellen looked at her screen, eyes darting as if reading.  “…hmmm….according to his report, you brought up the subjects.”

“No!” He slammed his fist on her desk. “That’s a lie!  He started the conversation and each and every subject!  He PROVOKED me to respond probably knowing – “  He stopped.  His eyes popped open on remembrance. “I know who it was.  I know who it was!”

Ellen started looking around as if trying to figure a way out of what has happening.

“It was Lester!  It was Lester.  That guy hates my guts!  He’s a lousy worker and I’ve had to report some of his shady work ethics.  So you’re telling me that you recruited a guy who hates me to target me and get me into trouble?  Do you have any idea how corrupt this all sounds?”

“John, you need to calm down or – “

“Calm down?  You wait ‘til I get through with YOU. I’ll report you to the CEO and we’ll see how long this corrupt system –“

“John, Lester was recruited by the CEO for this function.”

John was completely at a loss.  No words would come out. The whole thing was sanctioned by the company CEO.  Not only that, the one guy in the company that hated his guts was HAND PICKED to be… a snitch.

“I quit.”

Ellen’s eyes widened.  “What?”

“I quit.  I won’t stand for this. I haven’t a ghost of a chance with this company now.  Lester has seen to it.  I’ll join up with a company that doesn't have anything like this.”

Ellen’s shoulders sagged.  “John, you can’t do that.”

“What do you mean?  I can’t quit? Of course, I can!”

Ellen closed her eyes slightly. “No.  What I mean is you won’t find another company that doesn’t have a Compliance Department. And…”  She sighed heavily. “…we’re by law required to share our findings with any company you try to j-“

John just went ballistic. “WHAT?  I'm BRANDED FOREVER by this?  This is a living nightmare!”

“Now wait, John.  You need to let me finish talking.  There is a way to expunge this from your record.”

“What.  What the hell do I need to do to remove this from my record. I’d love to sue you and this company, that’s what I’d like to do.”

“We have seminars set up for you to attend –“

John just couldn't believe it. He cut her off. “Oh! Sensitivity classes!  That’s just great!”

Ellen shook her head.  “No, they aren't sensitivity classes.  We call Them Compliance Camps.  You would be required to check in.  The accommodations are nice and comfortable.  

Once you've been ultimately evaluated and received your State Sanction Certificate –“

John cut her off again, but Ellen looking distracted picked up her phone and dialed and started talking while John ranted on. “So how long does Compliance Camp last?  Exactly what is the cut off point for my stay?”

She hung up the phone.  She looked John into his eyes.  “Indefinitely until we are satisfied you are in compliance.”

John had had enough.  “That’s not a Compliance Camp!  That’s a concentration camp! I’m outta here. I’d rather starve on the street before I let you fuck with my head.  You people are perverted, sick and disgusting.”

As he finished this last sentence, two rather hefty looking men showed up at the door.

Ellen nodded to them.  “No, you’re not, John.”  The two men gently laid their hands on John’s arms. “These two gentlemen will see you to the van. It’s ready to take you to the camp.”

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

More tourists won’t change Cuba

Very true.  Europe and other countries had already normalized relations with Cuba for decades.  And the situation there hasn't improved.
More tourists won’t change Cuba. Millions of Spanish-speaking tourists have visited Cuba and brought no change; neither will English-speaking American tourists. In all my years in the Foreign Service, tourists never became a major source of support for people struggling to attain freedom. If tourists did have such influence, there would not have been so many 20th-century Latin American dictators.


Mrs. Clinton suggested in her FIU speech that companies doing business in Cuba will push for political reforms. Companies now doing business in Cuba haven’t and don’t. American companies doing business in China, Burma, and other totalitarian states typically become apologists for the regimes — lest helping the victims of repression negatively impact their businesses.
I think normalizing relations with Cuba is a good thing.  If we can normalize relations with China who has brutally murdered tens of millions - probably more than the population of Cuba, then we don't have many excuses not to up the relationship with Cuba.