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. 

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