Friday, June 17, 2011

Beware of the Heinous ATMs

It is astounding that America could elect as its President a man who is blaming ATMs for slowing the economic recovery.
 "You see it when you go to a bank and ... you use an ATM, you don't go to a bank teller. Or you go to the airport, and you're using a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate," the president said. 

It is obvious that the fate of our economy has been entrusted to a man who knows less about business than a five year old running a lemonade stand.
His ATM example is off for several reasons, but foremost is that ATMs were a regular part of life well before  the economic downturn, and based on their cost-effectiveness it is doubtful that at any point since that anyone in the banking business has even remotely considered removing their ATMs in favor of bank tellers.   ATMs have had exactly ZERO impact on the economic downturn or the recovery.
Secondly, he fails to comprehend that every component contained within the impenetrable boxes has to be manufactured by someone with a far greater skill set than your average bank teller.  I am not in the ATM business, but it is easy to see that inside every machine there is a small computer, a scanner, a remote access device (modem/comm. Device), human-machine-interface (control screen), steel case for the machine, and hundreds of metal and plastic pieces that have to be injection molded or stamped in order to get the machine to function.  All these parts then need to be assembled, tested and shipped to their installation locations.  I think it is safe to say that each ATM supports dozens, if not hundreds of jobs.  Not to mention that they are way move convenient than most bank tellers were only available between 9:00 am and 3:30 pm.
ATMs add to the banks’ profitability, and thus allow banks to make better investment decisions with those dollars; decisions that add to profitability and higher paying jobs.  Perhaps they would even want to buy more evil ATMs.  Or hire a securities analyst rather than an entry level employee who has a skill set about the equivalent of the TI 30 calculator.   Or open another branch, which would in turn create construction jobs and more ATM jobs.
In business, jobs that can be replaced with capital equipment which is ultimately more cost effective and efficient have always been the target of automation.  Cotton Gin.  Harvest Combines.  Motorized street sweeping machines. 
It is way too late to lament the loss of the cash counter at the bank window.
The reference to the airline kiosks though shows just how out of touch Obama is with the real world. 
If I have a choice between the “friendly” ticket clerk and the kiosk, I am heading to the kiosk.  Because the President has not likely flown on a commercial airliner since before his Chicago organizing days, he has no comprehension to what degree most of us disdain airline travel today.  TSA (no more need to be said), Surly clerks, surly passengers, surly parking attendants, and surly airport cops make taking a trip about as fun and time consuming as having back-to-back root canals done.
In two simple sentences our President shows the world that he knows NOTHING about business and that he is completely out of touch with that part of the population (90%?) which has to travel by commercial airliner vice luxury jet or Air Force One.
Who in the country would vote for this guy, and why in the world would they think for a minute he was capable of managing us out of financial crisis?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Camouflage Cooperation

Many years ago, as the services were becoming more “Joint,” many eager beavers floated the idea that the individual service cultures should devolve into a single, joint (blended more appropriate) service that would go so far as to share a single uniform set.  I believe it was referred to for a while as going purple, or a rough blend of all of the existing uniform colors.  Suffice it to say, I personally knew of no Marines who were in favor of this idea, although in the officer brown-nosing class, I am sure there were a few. 
Marines are both aware of, and proud of the history behind their uniforms and uniform items.  They know that the uniform is what links them to previous generations of Marines and sets them apart from the other services whose uniforms pale in comparison to those of the Marines.  Switching uniforms was a complete non-starter for the Corps.
Given this, it is not surprising that the Marines are particularly defensive about sharing their camouflage uniform pattern with the Army.  They are simply protecting their distinctive Marine turf, a pretty natural reflexive response for most Marines.
I would ask the Marines to re-consider.
Allow me a few of short digressions.
My last assignment in the Marine Corps was as an operational requirements assessment officer on the Navy staff in Pearl Harbor.  My job was to evaluate the operational requirements submitted by the operational staffs (Fleet, Air Wings, etc.), prioritize them and if approved, get them into the budgeting process.  I personally evaluated all things fixed-wing tactical aviation, all air delivered ordnance, and all things Marine.  One thing I learned in that job was that money was tight, always.  A million dollars meant a lot to each of us in our respective roles in N83, and haggling for a million dollars was not uncommon.
A million dollars saved on submarine spare parts might easily fund training ammunition for a battalion of forward deployed Marines for a year.  I would say we did a fair job of making the money go as far as we could.
Digression number two.
 I was able to catch a snippet of how the Marines developed their new camouflage pattern on a show about camouflage on the History Channel.  The show depicted the intense analysis and testing that the Marines put into the development and selection of their final pattern, and I was impressed to learn that when the Army evaluated their choices it was one of the top patterns considered.  The Marines had done their homework, and it seems to have paid off.
Allow me one more digression.  In the early eighties the Marines embarked on a program in their development center in Quantico, Virginia to come up with a new PT (physical training; gym) short.  This process was long and painful.  And while I am sure that project officers were sincere and energetic, the fruits of their labor proved to be woefully in adequate.
In an era where nylon shorts had become the running norm, and indeed the standard, the Marine Corps spent millions of dollars and several (five or six as I recall) years to develop the equivalent of a 1940’s era gym short made of cotton that was so stiff that many of us would have preferred to wear the same short made of burlap.  The material was so heavy and the seams so thick that the seams at the leg openings would cut through the skin on a run of even modest length.  They were, in short (pun intended) a disaster.
So, in times of fiscal austerity and looming budget cuts, I implore the Marines to reconsider and let the Army use their successful camo pattern.  This gesture would surely save years of development and millions of dollars in testing.  And even then, a successful outcome is not guaranteed.  Save the money and use those funds for more live ammo that can be used in training or directly on our enemies.
Marines needn’t worry, they will never be confused for soldiers as their utility cover will forever be distinctive, and the Army will put enough patches on the uniform to set them apart from miles away.
I think that these two services should get together and act cooperatively in a time where wasting money developing another camo pattern, while compelling for service distinction reasons, is still a waste nonetheless.  It would be a lesson in cooperation that could serve as an example for other, less prestigious  governmental institutions to emulate.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Who’s Dumber, Politicians, or Journalists Who Accept Their Stupid Answers

I am done watching ANY television interview with ANY politician.  Why?  Because they NEVER produce any meaningful information.
I enjoy watching Fox News Sunday, but Chris Wallace is no better at getting a straight answer out of a one-on-one guest than CNN is at getting Anthony Weiner to pick his own johnson out of a police line-up.
The Weiner story brings to a head all that is worthless about the MSM today.  They have come to accept the most world-class improbable explanations from idiotic guests, and then they let the steamy turds lie there expecting us public school graduates to go “Wow, I guess that is a really good explanation as to why some 21 year-old college student accidentally got a photo, of what may or may not be Anthony Weiner’s Johnson, from his twitter account.  Makes sense to me.”
Where is the follow-up question?  “Mr. Frankfurter, if you’re not denying that that picture is your scantily clad package, what prompted you to take such a picture in the first place, let alone have it stored in a place on your computer where if hacked (doubtful) it could be sent to others via social media?”
“Do you think this behavior is appropriate for a US Representative?”
“Do you think the people in your district approve of you farming photos of you junk out to twenty-one year olds?”
“Geez, your wife must be really upset!?”
But no, the MSM lets these narcissistic spin doctors ramble on for hours without answering even the simplest questions.
“Are you running for President?”
“How are you going to vote on HB-XYZ?”
TiVo all the Sunday morning shows and you will not see one question answered by a politician.  What you will see is continuous streams of nonsensical ramblings that make the infinity sign seem to have an end.
“I am not going to answer whether or not there are yellow and blue in the color green.  It takes a village to make a color, and I don’t think that the composition of green should be used to de-value the color red or purple for that matter.  We need to understand that yellow-blue diversity, while unique does not necessarily set them apart when it comes to making colors of all kinds.”
The idiotic press also delivers the Get-Out-of-Hell-Free card to any scandal laden politician, as long as they follow the formula; go to re-hab, do 40 hours of public service counting rat turds in rabbit nests, cry on camera, give a one hour interview to Barbara Walters, cry again on TV, and promise never, ever to do it again.
I thought part of their role was to comment and critique when public officials’ behaviors get out of hand, not condone and facilitate.
It is easy to tell when people are lying and obfuscating.  By letting the politicians slide around every question, journalists are proving that they are incapable of doing their jobs.  Again.
So I ask again, who’s dumber, politicians, or journalists that accept their stupid answers?
Or, C., we voters for voting these idiots in time after time after time.

Update 6/6/11

Answer: Representative Weiner for thinking we were all stupid enough to believe his lame story and his whacky attempts at deflecting the heat.  He now admits to doing an Annie Leibovitz on his miniature wanky and broadcasting proudly (not so much anymore) via Twitter.  Oh, and by the way, to five other women as well.  I wonder how married life is treating him these days.

Please, voters in his district, show America that we will not tolerate idiots representing us in Congress; as least not once we have confirmed they are idiots.  

I am bi-partisan on this one.  No idiots, donkeys or elephants. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory

Only conservatives could get such an early start in losing the 2012 election.

In just two weeks you have Newt Gingrich calling Congressman Ryan’s Medicare proposal “right-wing social engineering” and trying to affix Ryan with the “radical” label.  Honestly, I didn’t think it name calling and labeling would happen for maybe, three months.

In perhaps one of the most intriguing (maybe astonishing is a better word) exchanges you have Rick Santorum trying to explain how he knows more about waterboarding and interrogation techniques than John McCain.  Admittedly Santorum was trying to connect the waterboarding techniques used to get information out of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed with the success of the raid on Bin Laden and not specifically trying to get into with McCain.  Yet get into with McCain he did nonetheless.  You have to be sharp enough to drop or ignore the issue rather than to go into extensive detail about interrogation techniques when John McCain’s name is even mentioned. 

But to say this, "And so this idea that we didn't ask that question while Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was being waterboarded, he (McCain) doesn't understand how enhanced interrogation works.  I mean, you break somebody, and after they're broken, they become cooperative…” shows that Santorum hasn’t a scintilla of instinct when it comes to running for the most powerful office in the land.

If you read John Hubbell’s book POW, and every American should read it, you’ll know that John McCain is somewhat an expert on how enhanced interrogation works, and he is the antidote to Santorum’s implication that once broken there is no more resistance.  Anyone that has been through SERE (Survival, Resistance, Evasion, and Escape) school knows that everyone will be broken, but the key difference in the US Armed Forces Code of Conduct and US training, is than when able, the POW is to begin resisting again to the greatest of his ability. 

If you read Hubbell’s book, you’ll see that McCain needs no such lecture from Santorum.  He and many others endured unimaginable “enhanced techniques” and resisted well beyond what I think is humanly possible. 

Santorum simply proved he is not astute enough to avoid a bear trap the size of the state of Texas, and he makes his situation worse by explaining more.  Could it get worse?


You also have Republicans now hem-hawing about how much hardball they are willing to play on the Debt Ceiling – Spending Cut fight.  Their wavering under the flimsy and false pretenses of paper deadlines and pseudo-cataclysmal fallout shows that they lack the commitment to take responsibility for governing this nation.

Their doddering is another example of where “real change” simply means change of party and not change of action or consequence.  Until conservatives have the courage to confidently steer the ship on a truly conservative course, Obama should remain cozy in his La-Z-boy.

You have the very odd situation where Mitt Romney, truly a newly minted conservative, is trying to justify the support and signing of a state bill that is eerily similar to the most liberal piece of national legislation ever passed.  Gingrich would likely classify him as a Left-wing conservative, or more appropriately as an opportunistic flip-flopper.  Neither of which makes Romney Presidential material for conservatives.

So in very short order, you have a former conservative leader calling a sitting conservative leader a radical and social engineer.

You have a former Senator telling a sitting Senator, former Presidential candidate, former POW who can barely lift his arms, that he don’t know jack about interrogation techniques and torture.

You have conservatives backing away from real fiscal change as they appear to cave in to the lame and vacuous counter arguments that the dems are barely backing themselves (see Dick Durbin on Fox News Sunday, 5/15/2011) in regards to raising the debt ceiling.

And you have a “conservative” justifying state run health care in the context that it isn’t exactly like Obamacare.

In summary, you have no civility, no leadership, no common sense, no adherence to basic conservative issues while in control of the House of Representatives, no credibility, and no chance of defeating Obama in 2012.

I wonder why there is a Tea Party.

Don’t Believe Everything You Hear

China’s top general complimented the US military last week in such a fawning manner that many in the military and in elected federal positions likely took those compliments as a sincere assessment from an impressed and dissuaded foe, rather than clever and mendacious comments delivered by an ingenious and guileful enemy.  Make no mistake, this was an international head fake done with skill and with the specific intent of getting us to relax our guard.
When General Chen says "What I'm trying to say is that we do not have the capability to challenge the United States.", he’s not saying that China does not want to challenge the United States.  He is not saying that China is going to suspend all of its weapons programs because he was so impressed that China is now deterred for the next millennia.  He is not saying that they now have a good reason to cease development and production of their stealth fighter.  And he is certainly not asking for hands across the water and a long chorus of Kum By Ya. 

He is simply saying that they have not matched our capabilities yet, and that he really, really hopes that the US will let its guard down while the Chinese make leaps quantum leaps necessary to match their armed forces against ours.  The specific intent of his blunt statements, which were not made by someone ready to give up his sword and sign capitulation papers, were to get the US to reduce our military budgets, reduce our reconnaissance of their coast line, and to lull us into ten years of stagnation while they blow past us like they did in Olympic diving.

The Chinese are acutely aware of our penchant for overspending and keeping ourselves on the precipice of budgetary crisis, as they hold a preponderance of our debt.  General Chen was planting a seed that sends the perfect message to liberal money-grabbers; we can cut defense spending because we are soooo far ahead of the Chinese, we can relax for a few years in weapons development.  There will be no listening to conservative think-tanks that see this for the Bangalore torpedo that it is.  We will be urged to believe our new, good friend General Chen and his frank honesty in assessing the true state of military affairs in the world.  We should all give a thumbs up and in chorus say, “Mission accomplished.”

Don’t look to the top layers of the Pentagon to put up much of a fight.  It is natural for the many narcissists at the top of the military to take these compliments as validation of a lengthy and laborious effort, but because of their egos, they will miss the covert nature of Chen’s message.  Over the objections of the real operators, who recognize this as a disinformation campaign, the top brass will be smoozing for their next assignments by bringing out accounting like assessments showing cost benefit curves proving that we can stay ahead of the Chinese with little or no spending over the next ten years or so.  Liberals will latch onto the brass’ acquiescence as the roadmap to substantial budget cuts in an effort to turn the table on Republicans.  Republicans will be pinned between their budget cutting efforts and General Chen’s statements, and they will lose the fight in trying to sustain or extend weapons programs and operational spending, and consequently our tactical and strategic advantages over the Chinese.

Admiral Mullen is obviously buying it, "I think part of the discussions, and General Chen spoke to this, is his view of how far ahead the United States is technically."  What follows that kind of talk is budget cuts.
One of Chen’s direct goals is to get the US to reduce its coastline surveillance of China.  Our fortitude combined with our technology here is key to keeping the Chinese from achieving their longest standing objective, the re-taking of Taiwan.  Chen’s comments “As a matter of fact, the reconnaissance activities along China's coast by U.S. military aircraft and vessels are seen in China as deterrents.", are specifically designed to try to get the US to relax its efforts in order for China to begin to develop a window in which to launch a campaign to restore Chinese “unity.”

With statements like, “As it is known to all, the United States is a super-power in the world today; how can China easily have the ability to challenge it? That is simply not part of Chinese culture and we do not have that capability. We would strive for world peace, civility and development and well being of the whole humankind...The United States has far more advanced weapons and equipment."  General Chen may take Miss Congeniality at the next Miss World pageant. 

World peace is not a stated goal of the Communist Chinese government, expansion of their version of communism is.

We Americans have been suckered into complacency more times than we can count, and we only overcame years of neglect and narcissism (post WWI, post WWII and pre-Korea, post-Korea, the Carter years) on our guts and the shear will of the individuals in the military (Guadalcanal, Pusan perimeter are striking examples). 

We should not be led down a path of complacency and neglect by someone who has read Sun Tsu more times than most of us have read the Sunday comics.  This is part of the Chinese national strategy, don’t be fooled.

You don’t have to be a former military officer and Asian history major to receive General Chen’s message loud and clear.

I'm Back

Not sure there is anyone out there who cares, but apparently I have lost my gig with beacuse of my sparadic submission schedule.  Guilty.  The pieces I am about to put up were submitted to Townhall, but I have heard nothing back, so up they go.  Welcome back to anyone who is still poking around my blog.

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