Friday, December 18, 2009

Copenhagen Hectoring

Just saw Obama's speech on climate change in Copenhagen. Who is this speech intended for? Are a bunch of type A personality world leaders really going to be hectored into agreement?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Insidious Bullies

You know what one of the greatest evils of the world is? Bullies. Definitely within the top 3. Not school yard bullies. School yard bullies are nothing. I should qualify that, if you live in an inner city and your bullies are members of the bloods and crips then granted you have something to worry about. Run of the mill school yard bullies can ruin your day and steal your lunch money. They might make your life miserable for a while but they don't have the ability to make the lives of your family miserable. The bullies I loath, the ones that do real damage are the ones you end up working for, at least those of us who are not rocket scientists, don't have some killer talent people will kiss your ass for and never had any real ambition other than to get a decent paying skilled job that was moderately challenging. These bullies prey on us and not with threats of physical violence or verbal taunts. They prey on us with the veiled threat of hurting our careers, making us failures before our families, using their position of power to berate, bully and terrorize us because they can. We can leave anytime we want except we have taken the bait of stability and security to raise our families. We stay in a position because we don't want to take a chance, we are afraid to go elsewhere for fear of our families financial security. We also stay because after years of being blamed, abused, and terrorized we begin to doubt ourselves. How did we get into this awful position. We must be losers, we tell ourselves that is the only way to explain it. We see other people having successful careers and we blame ourselves because we have to. We can't change the boss, we can only change ourselves so it is our fault. We just did not work hard enough or smart enough. The fault has to be with us for that is the only variable we can control. "Change jobs go somewhere else" we hear. Yes our family is financially secure, uproot that and go somewhere else, take a chance. And if that chance does not work out, there are real consequences to deal with.

It didn't start out like this. If it had we never would have gone along. We started out full of excitement. We weren't going to change the world we were just going to make some decent money at something we kind of enjoyed. We weren't Michael Jordan, George Clooney or Bill Gates. We were however of slightly above average intelligence, hard working and mildly ambitious. So we went to college worked nights and then got our first "career" job. It wasn't what we wanted so we changed jobs. This one was a little better. It wasn't what we thought it would be but the money was decent and it was not bad enough that we wanted to leave. So we stayed. We had a few kids. The job became mostly mindless clerical work, our marketable skills faded, our mortgage increased along with all the other costs of raising a family. Things weren't bliss but they were ok. Somewhere in your subconscious we were thinking I'm stuck here, I can't leave anymore but every week we checked our 401k balance and told ourselves someday we would have enough security to do what we wanted. We didn't want to be managers. We liked problem solving, fixing things, figuring out how technology worked. We did not care about leading big projects and managing people. Someone did however. Someone loved managing people, loved telling people what to do and that someone would one day be our boss.

So 10 years in our life is going merrily along and then came the reorg. Suddenly one day the part of the business we support is being sold and we are given the option to leave or take a different postion. The severance offer if we leave is pretty modest since we only have 10 years in and we have all those mounting expenses at home so we take the new position and the new boss. There were some minor differences at first. This one was not as organized. This one did not keep track of things like when it was time for our evaluation. Then we started getting buried with work. We started getting request after request from many different people. So we went to the new boss and tried to work out a schedule to get everything done. Instead of working with us, the response was we needed to work smarter, work harder we were not putting in the overtime. Ok, so we have had tough bosses before. The first boss we had was a nitpicker who picked apart everything we did. We hated him at first, but he only had one goal, to get projects done the right way. As much of a pain as he was we respected him. We could work with him. This new boss has no interest in working with us. This new boss is almost as happy to have us as a scapegoat if we fail. Sometimes it appears we are intentionally setup to fail. Well that was life so we grinned and bore it. We kept up with the workload but just barely. Then during a particularly busy strecth we got behind. We worked 12 hour days during the week, and we came in on the weekend. Come Monday we were still behind and the boss called us into the office for a status update. Their mouth hung open as we told them things they should have already known. Despite having done everything humanly possible you were not going to be able to meet a deadline. Problems that came up last week that they demanded we fix put us hoplessly behind schedule. Then they turned red and started screaming at us. "What you mean you can't meet the deadline! You promised me you were going to meet the deadline! I don't want to hear it! Your going to meet this if you have to stay all night! Pull in whoever you need. Get this done! I don't care!". It went on like this, a blizzard of requests that we could barely keep track of let alone keep up with. So eventually we stopped trying to keep up. We started guessing what they were going ask us about and started working in such a way to give the appearance we were covering all the bases. We kept living in fear knowing that we would get caught from time to time for something that was not done, never knowing when this would happen. So we went on working, for years with periods of dull tedious tasks punctuated by periodic verbal beatings and beratings for things we determined were beyond our ability to control. One time, after a particular grueling couple of weeks where we worked ourselves to exhaustion only to be questioned about a project that suddenly had changed to high priority, we were accused of surfing the internet instead of working. We know this is made up since we had barely had time to eat lunch but after a few days of sheer anger bordering on filing a complaint with human resources we decide to shutup and take it. We endure miscellaneous other occurences, being accused of not doing anything right, being lazy, being stupid. We don't divulge any personal information as we see how it gets used. The one time we mistakenly confide that one of our children is having difficulty in a class at school we are told there are always "trade schools". When not being berated we are treated to long conversations with the boss about their personal problems, their childhood, their large house, the expensive colleges their kids are going to while we are wondering if this person is going to deliberately torpedo our career on a whim. We wonder if we will be able to pay for our childrens college, whether we will be able to spend time with our 14 year old at home that weekend as his own college days when he will be leaving us are just around the corner.

So we end up being 40 years old dragging ourselves to a place we hate day in and day out just hoping that today is another day we go unnoticed under the radar. We want every day to be part of the 80% or so of the time that we are not the pinata in the boss's sights while knowing like death and taxes that our time will come round again. And when it does we grit our teeth and try to get through it. You can feel your blood pressure rising, your body aging. You find yourself watching your kids getting older missing out on their lives as the stress and worry overwhelm the times you should be enjoying. So what do we get from this? 30 or 40 years of paychecks and a family that thinks you are distant and don't care? A thief takes things you can get back, bullies like this take things that can never be replaced. Whats worse is we let them.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Avatar movie

I don't know anything about this movie other than what I have seen in a couple trailers. Still I feel that I already know the plot and how it ends. Boy is in the military, boy gets wounded, boy volunteers for unusual assignment that will let him walk again, boy gets sent to exotic planet that has some strategic value to the military, boy meets exotic girl who helps him become enlightened, boy aids girl in hopeless struggle against the forces of evil in the military he once loved. Maybe it is the greatest movie of all time, I just don't feel compelled to go see it. If someone does go see it maybe they can let me know if the plot is any better than I imagine it to be.

Tied Hand

This is why we need to get out now. This is also why you only fight when you have to and when you have to fight you don't pull any punches. The Soviets did not handicap themselves like this and they still lost. There is zero chance of winning this war under these rules. The only way to win it is not one that would be acceptable to the American people. Declare victory and get out now.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

One Child Per

I saw this yesterday. It strikes me that the simplest way to do this is to STOP SUBSIDIZING PEOPLE WHO CAN'T SUPPORT THEMSELVES! For the last half century the giant welfare states around the world have been ensuring that billions of people who cannot or choose not to support themselves have food, shelter, health care and education. Capitalism and free markets are an excellent way to control population if you stop promising people that they will be taken care of no matter what. If people have to provide for themselves and their families and if they know the government is not going to give them more money each time they have a baby there will be fewer babies. Better yet, this puts the decision back on the individual. If you want to have 19 kids like the Duggars that is your decision as long as you can pay for them.

Another thing, stop sending aid to support people in foreign countries. First of all it is not going to poor people for the most part, second it prevents industry from developing in those countries, third it supports populations that are larger than what can be sustained given the local resources and abilities of the society.

The current policy of socialist governments around the world seems to be this:
1. Ensure no one starves or does without due to their own laziness, incompetence or stupidity.
2. When these natural barriers to population growth are removed, put in artificial ones.

The best that can be said about the one child policy is that it is fair. Rich and poor will have the same limit. Of course they won't, rich people will pay a fine, members of congress will be exempt, as usual. If someone is successful, innovative and able to support a large family, shouldn't they have one if they choose? Isn't that good for society in general that success is rewarded and reproduced? My guess is if the policy were implemented it would apply to anyone not in government and 50 years from now we would have a world dominated by politicians and bureaucrats. Not to worry, I don't think this policy will be implemented. It was done in China where constituencies are not that important. The only way it will happen here is if the red states start to out populate the blue states. With the lax immigration policies I don't see this being an issue for politicians to worry about for some time.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Climategate Coverage

This morning I woke up and was surprised to find CNN asking Al Gore questions about Climategate. Granted they were high hanging softballs but still. The Al Gore segment immediately followed a segment about the winter storm that just hit the mid-west and is pounding the east coast. The amount of cognitive dissonance is astounding. Tonight Campbell Brown's show will be on "Global Warming: Trick or Truth". I have no doubt it will mostly be running interference for the climate change believers but at least they are having to discuss Climategate.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Big Foot

Round trip on Air Force 1 from Washington to Copenhagen and back - 57,000 gallons of jet fuel.

Backup 747 in case you need it - 57,000 gallons of jet fuel

C17 to transport limousines and other vehicles - 40,000 gallons of jet fuel.

Total fuel consumed for trip to global warming summit 157,000 gallons.

Telling the rest of the world they need to reduce their carbon footprint? Priceless

(I based my calculations on a article guessing that it would be an 8 hour flight from the US to Copenhagen. I also made an educated guess on how much fuel a C17 would use but I think it is in the ballpark. I did not count additional support planes but my guess is there are several.)

Random thoughts

Lately I have been thinking about my life in terms of an analogy, that of a human cannon ball. I just turned 40 a few months back. When I was 20, things were just getting started, I was setting the trajectory I wanted my life to take. In my case I went to college, got a bachelors degree, found a decent paying career and boom I was off. Not that it was that quick. I was not one of those people who knows what they want to do right away. In my case after 7 years of college I finally figured out what I wanted. So the last 14 years while not completely smooth have been at least a steady rise along my intended trajectory path. Now I'm 40 and looking at the landing net off in the distance as I near the apex of my trajectory. I find myself wondering if I set the cannon trajectory right all those years ago. I set my cannon for modest goals that I thought I could achieve. Should I have set it higher? I find myself wishing that in the early years of my career I had played it less safe, taken more chances, changed jobs when I felt comfortable and did not want to sacrifice that comfort. People a lot older than me would probably laugh and say you are no where near the end and I certainly hope not but I keep looking at the landing net wondering if I will come up short.

Afghanistan cnt'd

A brief video montage of various news sources on the Afghanistan war strategy.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Climategate conversions

Millions of people have just have their climate belief called into question. If all is true about the cover ups and the fraud and CNN, ABC, and CBS were to start going wall to wall with coverage, would people in mass start to question their beliefs on climate change? How do you do that if you are Ed Begley Jr. and have staked your very existence on climate change for the last couple of decades? Can you really face yourself and say everything you did, all the composting, all the spartan sacrifices, windmills and solar cells you installed on your house count for absolutely nothing. Well in his case it was not nothing, he got a TV show for his efforts. At least I think Ed is a true believer unlike Al Gore who I think is just an opportunist. But if you are not Ed or Al and have spent years putting around in a golf cart size car, buying carbon credits, reusable grocery bags, and experiencing untold other little inconveniences telling yourself and anyone who will listen how you are saving the environment, how do you suddenly tell yourself it doesn't matter. Most people won't be able to do this. It will be easier to say it is a conspiracy of some mysterious "them".

I'm not saying global warming does not exist. Frankly I don't know. Its just a thought experiment. For the last 20 years there has been a steady drumbeat on the environment from teachers, movies, television and pretty much everywhere. Its pervasive. If we were to suddenly find out that global warming was absolutely false how would people react? Whether global warming is real or not I am more concerned with how the issue has been used and abused by politicians. I like John Derbyshire's take on the whole thing actually.


The new policy is send 30k troops for 18 months. Tribal leaders, Taliban leaders you only need to keep your head down for 18 months.

Actually I don't fault Obama for this. Our whole society both left and right are wrong headed about this. The right version of victory is send as many troops as needed, pacify the country like we did Japan and Germany in WWII. The left version is... actually I don't really know what the left wants other than to withdraw alltogether. Probably the main difference between my view and the view of the left is I don't profess to care much about Afghanistan. I am for getting out and I don't particularly care what happens to Afghanistan after that.

What I don't understand is why we are staking our success, our reputation and our ability to inspire fear in those who might want to attack us on whether or not Afghanistan becomes something better than what it is. It is sort of like the top down approach of the central planners in the current government who want to make us all better people with government policy. This is ridiculous. I can improve myself, I can have some effect on my family but making believe we can improve people through government policy is silly. Our Afghan policy is a bit like you or I staking our reputation on whether we can make the methamphetamine dealing family down the street better by sending your son and daughter to go break up their fights. When they get shot are we going to say they died for a cause? Their death was not for nothing?

18 months from now, 18 years from now Afghanistan is still going to be a mess. There is one way Afghanistan will not be a mess 18 years from now, maybe two. They could spontaneously change their ways and become a modern enlightened people. Quantum physicist will tell you virtually nothing has a 0 probability. The second and more likely (but still next to 0% chance) way for this to happen would be to send half a million to a million troops and garrison the country for 20 years or more until people begin to forget their current ways of living. Tens of thousands of american soldiers will die but in the end something will have been accomplished. Whether it will have been worth the cost is another matter. The current policy will mean probably hundreds will die until the insurgent forces make occupying Afghanistan unpopular enough for american poiticians to withdraw. At that point will we say they died for a worthy cause and that because of their sacrifice the world is a better place?
Add to Technorati Favorites