Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Crazy Gas

Well, we had some fun today in Georgia. Rumors of a gas crisis, based around some truth resulting from the Katrina aftermath, had everyone running to the gas stations to top off before they closed/ran out of gas. Cars backed up into traffic all around Atlanta this afternoon as gas prices rose more than a dollar in some placed. Personally, I witnessed a price increase from $2.68 to $3.89 during the day.

As a result of the price gouging (reports of a gallon of gas at over $5.00 per gallon)Govenor Purdue decleared a state of emergency effectively freezing the profit margins for gas stations.

I saw one gas station closed down on my way home from church tonight. What does that tell you? Either the owner has no gas to sell, or is sitting on it. Either way, the perception is that there's one less gas station to get gas at. That in turn causes people to be cautious and top of just in case leaving no gas for the guy who left for work on fumes this morning. The people that then pass poor Mr. Outta Gas then make doubly sure that they've got a full tank.

The last gas station I passed tonight was out of the bottom two grades and only had super premium on hand. People apparently made a run on the cheap stuff first. Go fig.

Apparently there are problems in central Georgia too.

Katrina vs. the Survivors

I'm glad Katrina wasn't as bad as advertised. But she was bad enough. And I can easily imagine things getting much worse. Looks like the military is getting involved too. Hopefully that'll help speed up the now mandatory evacuation of New Orleans and save the stranded citizens.

Everytime I see images on the TV about Katrina's aftermath, I'm shocked by the images of hurricane refugees in New Orleans. Been watching the coverage this afternoon on Fox of Mr. Shepphard on top of a freeway overpass.

There aren't many outdoors types or people with survival training visible in the images. Some veteran with survival training could educate these folks on things to do. These people need hope, direction, shelter and sustenance.

These stranded victims need fresh water first of all. I'd love to see an airlift of those fuel bladders full of water dropped on the dry heights of N.O. until the people can get transport out.

Maybe the citizens will get lucky and have a small shower drop fresh water on them. What'll they have on hand to collect the stuff? Somebody had designed individual/personal water filters to distribute to third world citizens. Well, New Orleans could use train loads of that right now.

At lot of N.O. housing is made of wood. Surely wood and can be found floating or claimed from buildings to be used for fires once it's stacked and dries out on the overpass. Fires could be used to boil the reachable water if anyone thought to bring any pots.

For that matter, go collect all the beer that can be found. It may be warm, but it's sterile. It'll keep the little kids hydrated at least.

How 'bout building / erecting shelter to avoid the sun?

I bet Zip-loc bags are priceless too for keeping precious valuables dry when puddle jumping.

Have we become such a fast food and disposable society that we can't subsist without our shrinkwrapped packages of Aquafina and prepared food?

Anyone else have any simple ideas for the survivors?

Please God, watch over these people and the people trying to help them.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Earth Moved Last Night

Was settling down last night with the Missus when she started to scratch her leg with her foot. I asked her, "Was that you?" figuring that she'd just rocked my world once again. She replied, "No, I thought it was the cat." But the cat was outside.

It appears that there was an 3.8 earthquake that rattled homes in North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia but appeared to have caused little serious damage That's the second one I've ever felt since living in my house of the last five years.

Now, bring on Katrina! Hey, didn't they warn us earlier this year that we were likely to run out of names for tropical storms/hurricanes? Sounds like typical media hyperbole to me.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Cobb Co. Laptop Debacle

Last year ,Cobb County passed a tax referendum to raise funds to refurbish, replace and upgrade obsolete computers, printers and such.

Shortly thereafter, local citizens start hearing reports that Cobb County will phase in a program where all high school students (actually grades 6 - 12) will receive their own laptop. The cost of the initiative was estimated at over $70 million and roughly a $20 million yearly maintenance cost. This program was to be funded by the aforementioned tax revenue.

Cobb County is not the first school district to try this sort of program. The Vail Unified School District in Arizona has done something similar.

Recently a judge halted the program after ruling that it was being improperly funded by the tax referendum which was passed by the voters to refurbish, replace and upgrade obsolete computers, printers and such. Not to give every student a laptop.

Not only that, but there is concern that the awarding of the contract may have been rigged in favor of Apple.

Now, it appears that Cobb County schools Superintendent Joseph Redden announced his resignation Tuesday evening. He was quoted on local news radio station WSB 750 AM as saying, if he had to do it all over again, he'd "have spent more time on selling the program to the citizens" (as close to an exact quote as I can remember).

Basically, this wonderful initiative was poorly implemented by Cobb County school leadership. There are lots of questions surrounding this program that seem to have gone unanswered. Not the least of which are the program's policies, procedures, monitoring, censoring, etc... I've heard little about the details of this program. Basically, all we were told was the Cobb Co. would be implementing this program system wide. Last night, I queried a neighbor of mine about the issue, figuring that since she has two children in high school, she'd have been given more info from the county about the program's details. Unfortunately, it seems that there was not much of an attempt, if any, to get the high school and middle school parents information about the program. My neighbor is just as clueless as the rest of us.

And can you believe this? As a Cobb County parent of a child within the school system, I have to wonder about the merits of this initiative when my children are asked to bring handsoap as part of their necessary/suggested school supplies. The Pre-k program even asked us to bring in two reams of copy paper for the class drawing supplies.

Mr. Redden and his staff seemed to do a poor job of communicating the details of this program to the citizens of Cobb County. My children are in the school district and I've heard very little other than what has been reported in the news media. With proper management of this initiative, everyone could have been saved a lot of grief.

Bottom line, I have little or no problem with the initiative. Cobb County students will one day have laptops in school. It's not a question of if it'll happen, it's just a question of when. But thanks to mismanagement of this effort, everyone loses.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Delta - bankrupt?

Looks like our beloved traditional carrier is going to file for bankruptcy. New bankruptcy laws taking effect in October likely mean that this will be official prior to then as Delta would have more options before then.

Delta is a big reason why Atlanta has grown so much in the past couple of decades. Gone is the importance of a huge rail junction such as Terminus during the Civil War. The junction of three interstates, I-20, I-75 & I-85, was a major catalyst to the city's growth. But Delta and the Atlanta hub, really put us on the map.

Delta's not going away. The bankruptcy will allow the company to rework it's debt more and to renegotiate union contracts that seem to inhibit its ability to compete with its peers, not to mention the low cost carriers.

But who else will feel this bankruptcy? Tons of businesses here sell goods and services to the carrier. We'll have to see how big a ripple this will cause.

~~~~~~~~~~~~ UPDATE ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Mon., Aug 15, 2005

Well, it looks like Delta will be receiving a badly needed cash infusion after selling ASA (Atlantic Southeast Airlines) to SkyWest for $425M. I thought this might be the case after running into a ASA/Delta airline mechanic at my local Einstein's. He was worried that they wouldn't be "Delta" for much longer.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Newspaper's Blogs

In linking to the 'article' below about the 48th and the armored Humvee issue, I realize that what I linked to was a 'blog'.

I'm not sure I want newspapers to have blogs. It gives them an excuse to editorialize in their articles. Instead of sending out 'journalists' who are supposed to give us the 5 W's, we get newspaper paid bloggers who aren't expected (right) to give us fair and unbiased news.

In my opinion, if a newspaper wants to editorialize, it should do so in the editorial pages. Not offer up a ocmpany run blog and present that as 'reporting' from the front.

Not to mention that my comment to the AJC, rather critical of their article, was censored. The only two notes allowed earlier were short little thank you notes from families of the 48th and such. Granted, the line above the comment section says that "Your comment will appear after it has been approved by the AJC."

So you get comments like Ruth's approved:

By Ruth
August 11, 2005 01:21 PM

Well Sec. Rumsfeld, I guess the army you have is one with Rhino Runners but the army the troops have is one with Humvees.

Not very blog-like is it?

But then again, if a newspaper truly goes bloggy (ie. allowing free comments and criticisms) maybe a newspaper would be open to being fact checked by the public and instantly held accountable for their reporting. So maybe it's not a bad thing.

But this half-baked attempt at newspapers running blogs to cover real stories is really beginning to stick in my craw. What say you?

Like Pushing Water Uphill

Georgia's Army National Guard, the 48th, has been "in country" now for a while and our local rag, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, has been reporting on our state guardsmen.

Apparently the opportunity to provide us with an article filled with information relevant to the 'plight' of our neighbors and loved ones serving in the guard was used to further the paper's agenda.

Instead of giving us more details about life in the 48th, the AJC chose to take potshots at the military and the administration. Here was my quickly written reply to their article.

The Humvee was designed as the replacement for the classic jeep. It was not designed to be a armored personnel carrier. It was meant to be a light vehicle for reconnaissance and transport.

The insurgents target the Humvees because they are lightly armored.

By adding increased armor, you reduce the agility of the vehicle. Not to mention that there is a limit to how much armor you can add on to the Humvee frame before the vehicle becomes useless due to lack of maneuverability. Unfortunately, the media has used the military's attempt to find the balance between armor and maneuverability on this 'light vehicle' to further it's own agenda.

All in all this was a balanced article except for the jibe thrown at Rumsfield for riding in a Rhino. He's a high-value target and the military was right to put him in a more protected vehicle. One designed for something closer to that purpose. I know what the AJC's reporting of an incident, had it occurred, with Rumsfield traveling in a Hummer and getting blown up by an IED would have been like.

Mixed in with some nice factual reporting about our 48th, I guess the point of the article is that 'we' should have waited before going into Iraq until all of our weapon and transport systems were 'perfected' and that our 'leadership' won't ride in the Hummer. How about more reporting on the 48th please and less space promoting your agenda and using the article to take potshots at the administration.

I'm shocked that there was no mention of the ratio of the 48th's level 1 armored Hummers to non-armored. And do our guys go out on patrol in the unarmored hummers, or are they typically being used inside the bases or in desert recon as opposed to city fighting and patrolling?

That would have made for a much better article.

Wish I had the time to more eloquently put my thoughts together this morning, but why should I when apparently our well equipped media won't take the time either?

~~~~~~~~~~ UPDATE ~~~~~~~~~~
Shortening my comment to the article up and taking out any blatant attack at the paper, they approved the following comment...

Gee, How many of our 48th’s hummers are level 1 armored and of those that aren’t, what are they used for?

And did anyone ask the defense dept why Mr. Rumsfield was placed in a Rhino as opposed to the Humvee? What was the explanation?

How much protection do you think is adequate? Surely that lightly armored amphibious assualt vehicle is better armored than the Humvee. Yet, it too didn’t survive an IED.

But they seem to be approving anything critical of the war effort or the administration. Par for the course around here...

Gimme That ole Time Religion

This is the South after all. Fall is approaching. That means


I got up this weekend to watch the Atlanta Falcons kick off the NFL preseason, live from Tokyo. And the local college programs are in fall camps too. Hooray!

Can the Falcons put it together better this year?

Some folks think Ga. Tech will do well this year in the new version of the ACC.

And how will UGA do with life after David Greene. And how about this exhibition of the love Dawg fans show for the sport!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Back to the Regularly Scheduled Program

Been a little busy lately. My last born is attending 'big-boy' school today. Just hoping his older sister don't start pimping him out to her girlfriends. At least not till high school. :P

The postman blessed me with two absolutely wonderful children. Can't be my genes, can it? Here's to hoping we all don't screw our children up too bad in the process of raising them.

Course, I'm forcing them to eat the cafeteria food, you know the fare: grits, fatback, fried chicken, collard greens, chitlins - so I guess I'm off to a bad start. Maybe it'll build some character in them. "But Da-aaad. I've already got character." MwuhahahahahahHAHAHHA!


School Supply Lists. We all have them.

What's the craziest thing you ever saw on your or your child's 'requirements'?

Seems the hottest thing to have nowadays is an anti-bacterial wash and baby wipes. Weirdest thing was a 32 count of crayons. They don't seem to make anything but 24 and 64 count boxes nowadays. So, we bought a 64 box set and I cut it in half with my circular saw and gave a half to each child saying, "I hope your favorite colors are still in there. And don't you go cryin' about the condition they're in. They'll still color just fine!"

Monday, August 08, 2005

PC Sounds

What do you have set for your PC sounds?

For instance, I've got a wav file from the old Battlestar Gallactica TV series set as my start-up event. In a Cylon voice it says, "Scan for identification."

So what do you have your PC/Mac set to 'say' on certain events?

And if you've got them, provide the links!

Metro Police Part of National Gang Sweep

Metro Atlanta police on lookout for two 'leaders' of the Hispanic gang, Sur-13. Their names are Jose Tapia, 22, and Emanuel Avilia-Villasana, 21. Other members of the violent Hispanic gang have been arrested or deported in an attempt to sever the gang's command structure.

Atlanta had minor issues with gangs in the past but it is now a burgeoning problem city wide. Ethnic gangs had been a problem mainly in the Buford Highway corridor where large number of immigrants have chosen to live. Unfortunately, these new residents are susceptible to intimidation, extortion and coerced into supporting local gangs. Now, mainly Hispanic gangs are making their presence known from Gwinnett County, northeast of Atlanta, to Cobb County, northwest of Atlanta.

It appears that this latest enforcement activity is the result of an Anti-Gang Law Enforcement Summit recently held in the area. It's nice to see our enforcement agencies sharing information and working together on this issue that's bigger than any one community. But it's not enough.

I've personally witnessed gang tags appearring in my neighborhood. Typically they are for the Brown-Side Latinos (BSL) but occasionally a Sur-13 tag will crop up. In February, George Hatfield, Cobb County's new top cop, was quoted as saying "We have to be willing to adjust to changes in the community and be proactive." One goal, he said, is to add officers to the gang unit. "We can't ignore that we have gang activity," he said.

Local citizens can make a difference in this fight for local communities. Citizen watch programs, reporting suspicious gang activity, and the like. But how about we head this problem off at the pass?

You and I as neighbors can do more to make our new neighbors more welcome to the community. They've uprooted and moved to our community looking for a better life. By befriending our new neighbors and helping them develop a support structure that crosses their ethnic and language barriers, we can help them with their acclimation to their new home. Become friends with them, not to spy on them, but to help them become worthy citizens, contributing to the needs and prosperity of the community.

For instance:

Their kids likely lack the support structure of our families. Mom and dad can't speak English very well, much less aid in their homework, so their kids may need intense help catching up. Mom and dad typically are hard workers trying to realize their version of the American dream. That leaves little time for them to help the kids, even if the parents could speak English proficiently. How do you assist with this problem?

Join up with a volunteer organization that helps prevent these kids from being lost in the system, and feeling unable to adapt. These kids turn to what they know, and that is the culture of their home state. They'll turn inward and look for other "disenfranchised" kids. Inevitably, they'll find the gangs waiting to accept the new members or be pressured into joining one. Because the gangs speak their native tongue, and have similar interests, they'll be more comfortable with the gang than trying to assimilate into the community.

By assisting with their education, we might be able to stop this self-destructive death spiral. Not to mention actively assist in reducing the burden on the local school systems. A knowledge of their language is a wonderful asset but it is by no means necessary for you to be successful in doing your part. All that is required is patience, a love for children, to love your neighbor and a desire to make a difference in your community. I'm proof of that as I currently volunteer in an organization for this purpose.

Rather than watch your community go down the drain, how about you do something to avoid it from happening? Oh, and bring a friend, will ya? And do you have any ideas - other than just ship them all back?

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Notre Dame Fighting Irish to Change Their Mascot

Will the Irish have to change their mascot too? If not, why?

Looks like the NCAA is up to its old tricks again.


Mascot = an honor

But the NCAA has other ideas.

SWMBO and I talked about this briefly this morning and had the same comment that there are already a number of 'white' mascots: Bucs, Pirates, Fighting Irish, Knights, Patriots (remember their old mascot on the helmets), etc...

I'm not offended...

But what I really don't understand, is that why an Indian mascot is offensive? When a community decides to associate themselves with a caricature, they sure as heck don't want to be called the "Addicts", the "Drunks" or the "Child Pornographers".

Instead, they look for a mascot that they admire, One with redeeming qualities, in this case qualities desired in an athletic program. In the sports arena, speed, intelligence, strength, ferocity, etc. are valued. Many people thought the Indians (and all their derivations) had these qualities. These communities volunteered to be called an "Indians" for Pete's sake. They wanted to be associated with whatever valuable quality that their chosen mascot was perceived to posses.

Could the communities that have an Indian 'totem' use the opportunity to better educate people, at least their student body, about the mascot's story/history/plight? Sure. It's a crying shame that this is not taken advantage of more often.

Offensive, I don't really think so.

Shame on the NCAA for caving in to groups who do not speak for the whole of the Indian nation. At the very least, they should have held off on this 'policy' and recognize that there is NOT a consensus.

What next? NCAA caving in to PETA and not allowing any animal mascots?

Shouldn't we be more offended that there aren't many, if any, black mascots? No Asian mascots either I believe. Trying to provoke some thoughts here and answer a question SWMBO and I raised earlier.

Is Google the Next Tech Bully a la Microsoft?

I love c| and have been reading their site for years. Turns out their reporters did an article on G00gle and its struggle to balance privacy and 'reach'.

Apparently, G00gle didn't take kindly to the article, and G00gle has since has decided to blackball C|Net reporters for a year. For what? For providing to the public information to you and me, about the life of G00gle CEO Eric Schmidt. Things like his stock moves, his hobbies, his politics, his wife, etc...

Isn't that exactly the same thing that G00gle does? People worldwide can dig up personal information about you and I using the G00gle search engine. So why does G00gle see what the reporter has done as so wrong?

Blackballing the press because of reporting publicly available facts about their CEO? Doing it because it puts G00gle in a negative light by exposing the companies laying bare our private lives? G00gle isn't explaining itself yet.

Personally, I'm seriously thinking about blackballing G00gle too. The problem is, their tools are very useful. I'm sure that is exactly what G00gle is banking on. By being so useful or necessary to our internet experience, we'll be unwilling to hold G00gle accountable for any shadiness on their part. Sounds a lot like Microsoft doesn't it?

In the meantime, I hope to see c|net ratchet up the intensity of their reporting on all things G00gle in light of G00gle's new policy toward reporting that is critical of their products and practices.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Set Tasers to Kill

Pardon the Star Trek reference, but Tasers have been in the lately, and for good reason.

I think enforcement organizations, doing their best to protect the men and women who put their lives on the line every day, have gone too far with their lax use of tasers as an alternative.

I've got kin folk in the enforcement community. Please do not misconstrue my point here.

Too many enforcement individuals are taking the easy way out when confronting suspected lawbreakers and detainees. They do not want to shoot the person that they are dealing with, but they perceive the taser as a safe alternative when involved in a conflict. For the most part that is true. But when should they use a Taser?

Common sense usually dictates the answer to that question. But apparently, in the case of Kansas City's Louise Jones, common sense didn't prevail. Apparently, a patrol car was was blocking the driveway to the Jones domicile. In trying to get the officer's attention, Louise Jones broke a local no-honking ordinance (except to prevent an accident). Apparently, the officers decided to make an example of the unruly grandparents, and in an effort to bring these seasoned criminals to justice, Tasered Loise Jones.

Was a call for backup made or were the officers on the scene afraid of the ribbing they'd get from their colleagues at needing help with a couple of hexagenarians? Was a serious attempt to calmly rectify the situation, save the local taxpayers the cost of judicial proceedings and head off any embarrassment to the local enforcement organization made?

The fact that Tasers are classified as non-lethal weapons has probably led enforcement personnel to be more willing use them in a conflict. Instead of using discourse, negotiation, superior numbers, trained officers and common sense, the officer is more likely than ever to reach for the Taser as a short cut.

The Taser has turned our local law enforcement personnel into a "non-lethal" warrior who believe they can act without fear of 'causing serious harm' to the target. As we're finding out, this kindler, gentler, hand-held electric chair is being misused and causing deaths.

Tasers, like guns, are wonderful tools when used properly. It's my opinion that Tasers should be utilized in ALL communities. But their use should only be condoned as a near last resort. I'm glad to see communities like mine are reviewing their use of Tasers but I do not want them to do away with a valuable law enforcement tool. What we need is more common sense and restraint in their use by our officers.

So, honk if you love KC!