Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fort Hood reports record number of suicides

These are the reports we are hearing about regarding those soldiers still on active duty. What would be really revealing is how many reservists and former soldiers have committed suicide. I believe this is an issue that has been underreported. Asking military members to deploy multiple times first to Iraq and now Afghanistan is going to create unimaginable neurosis and or psychosis. Wake-up people, these are your loved ones that are having to deal with demons far more real than anything Stephen King has invented.

Fort Hood reports record number of suicides - Military News | News From Afghanistan, Iraq And Around The World - Military Times

TSA: Secure Flight Program

Historically, the best terrorists are the ones without prior records. Even when the terrorists have had prior records, the US government has been spectacular in their inability to recognize the threat. In continuing with throwing more good money after bad, Secretary Napolitano announces:

Secure Flight is a behind the scenes program that enhances the security of domestic and international commercial air travel through the use of improved watch list matching. By collecting additional passenger data, it will improve the travel experience for all airline passengers, including those who have been misidentified in the past.

TSA: Secure Flight Program

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

10,000 TSA employees get secret clearances

John Pistole, the new head of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), views his agency a counterrorism agency. "Counterterrorism" implies actions both taken to prevent and in response to terrorist actions. In some cases, counterrorism means killing the terrorist before they can act. What is really interesting is how checking people's toiletries is sufficient justification for granting 10,000 security clearances. It costs around $50,000 per background check and each individual needs an updated check every 5 years. All so they can throw out your tootpaste or shampoo.

10,000 TSA employees get secret clearances - Yahoo! News

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Media and Politics

Christine O'Donnell has gone from underdog with no chance of winning, to GOP anathema, to witch and now embezzler. I have no idea of Ms. O'Donnell's platform other than Tea Part conservative. The media has made her into a national frenzy and given the Democrats a new Sarah Palin to bash and the Republicans more evidence they won't have the walk in the park imagined in November. To me, this story truly illustrates why our leadership is so ineffective. You can't have ever done anything for it will be "spun" by the media and political opponets into much to do about nothing. In Ohio, the best our incumbet governor has been able to fire at his Republican opponent is "can we trust him?". That's it, stupid sound bytes pass for political discourse?

O'Donnell embezzlement accusation called 'frivolous' - Washington Times

Monday, September 20, 2010

State's homeland security chief goes in hiding

Ah the plot thickens. When I first read this story and posted link, I thought Mr. Powers had merely proposed one of those ideas that sounds good in your head but does not survive its first exposure the rest of the universe. Now we find out that he went a little bit further signing a no-bid contract. I don't know what the laws are in Pennsylvania but I suspect government agencies are required to have a competitive bid process for all of their large contracts (which usually means anything over $5,000). He did this in response to 5 or 10 incidents against the petroleum industry in Pennsylvania. Would it not have been more appropriate to work with local FBI offices and state law enforcement? The ominous sounding Institute of Terrorism Research and Response has offices in Pennsylvania and Israel? According to their website, ITRR is an American and Israeli nonprofit corporation created to help organizations succeed and prosper; assisting organizations that refuse to surrender their domestic or international operations to terrorism. Mr. Powers is a retired Army colonel who was in Special Forces. He more than most should have been leery of working with an organization with international ties that is proposing to look into the records of US citizens.

State's homeland security chief goes in hiding

Sunday, September 19, 2010


The U.S. Air Force is rediscovering any 19th Century mountain man already knew, only carry what you need and make those things you carry versatile. For the rest of us, the study should serve as a reminder to have our emergency kits be as light as possible without sacrificing utility. Space age materials are good but sometimes keeping it old school is best. A GPS is great as long as you have power but empires conquered the world using only a compass. A $500 survival knife may be less versatile than a $30 hatchet.

The Escapist : News : U.S. Air Force Wants Soldiers to Be Like Batman

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Protesters put on terror list

What is the price for security? It is a slippery slope between protesters and terrorists. It is becoming easier to classify disagreements or protests as security threats. It is also discouraging to see how easily this happened and none of the homeland security personnel questioned this action. The road to hell is paved with good intentions and people just doing their jobs.

Lawsuit planned after protesters put on terror list - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Japanese cigarette anti-smoking tax

Being half Asian, I have an appreciation for role of cigarettes in Asian countries. Smoking isn't just de rigueur throughout the Pacific rim, it is almost in our DNA. I'm still not certain why I didn't develop the habit. I share that bit of introspection to show how ridiculous the Japanese have become. They now are trying to same failed experiment the Canadians tried in the 90s to curb smoking. Raise the taxes!

The problem is erroneously thought the price of cigarettes encourages smoking. As I pointed out earlier, it is a cultural thing and has nothing to do with price. Most of your friends and relatives smoke, so the likelihood you will also smoke is high. What the Japanese are doing is simply giving the Yakuza another market share in black market cigarettes. As I've posted before, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) found 100% of the cigarette packages found in a hockey stadium were black market.

Smoking can only be stopped through people learning to give up the habit. Raising taxes is only going to create a black market and put more money into the hands of the Yakuza.

Japanese panic buy cigarettes ahead of anti-smoking tax rise - Telegraph

Friday, September 10, 2010

The actions of the few warrant abuse of the many

A few days ago, I was reading an article that was trying to figure out why more police officers are making the news for excessive force abuse such as tazzing grandmothers or young children. In a seemingly unrelated article, sheriffs in North Carolina are convinced the best way to get control of prescription drug abuse is to have access to everyone's medical records. The below article points out that this isn't a knee-jerk reaction but rather a policy the North Carolina sheriffs have been pursuing for many years.

The British police make the news on a disturbingly frequent basis for abuse. A recent article described how a 58 year old, 5'2" woman with no priors got the shit kicked out of her by a local constable. She looked like she went a round with a heavyweight boxer instead of having spent a night in jail.

What the heck is going on?

In the original "war on drugs", certain behaviors are demonized without regard to a look at the larger social implications. Marijuana users, growers or those in possession of the substance are subjected to mandatory sentencing. I don't hang around with potheads much but the few that I've met strike me as being some of the least violent people around. They seem to only want to smoke dope and munch on frozen burritos. Yet their marijuana habit will get them thrown into prison with hardcore sociopaths. Great, now we have more sociopaths.

The pressure for law enforcement to deal with the "war on drugs" created the mindset that any drug abuse is a serious crime. Potheads are treated no differently than a violent offender (rapists, bank robbers, murderers). The press feeds into this mindset by stirring the public into a lather because it sells copy. The public in-turn whips elected officials into a lather who then pressure law enforcement to take action. Our tradition of sound-byte politics only exacerbates the problem.

The "war on terror" created a similarly dysfunctional mindset. Everyone and everything is a potential threat to the homeland. The uncooperative little old lady or young kid with asthma could be a dangerous security threat. They need to be dealt with quickly and severely before others may be harmed.

The public gets whipped into a terrorism frenzy with repeated reports of terrorists, a potential war with Iran, illegal immigrants running amok in the streets, or radical Muslims plotting the next major attack against mom, apple pie and the American way. The constant bombardment of these images has a profound effect on our collective psyche.

Despite all of the increased security measures implemented since 9/11, everyone seems more tense instead of more at ease. A whole new federal agency (DHS) was created to make sure we stay safe yet citizens seem more afraid of the DHS policies than of the next terrorist attack. Arizona is having serious issues with illegal immigrants and for all of their concerns, the federal government is suing the state of Arizona.

Police are at the end of the day no different than the rest of us. They go home to their families and watch TV, listen to the radio or read the newspapers or Internet. They are not immune to the media bombardment of potential terrorists, disgruntled employees, angry youth, and illegal aliens. Unlike the rest of us they are in a position to do something about it.

Let a citizen start arguing with a cop and these days that can rapidly escalate into a confrontation. The cop is trying to deal with the situation, the stress of the job, the crowd that has now surrounded them, and all of the camera phones recording every nuance. Most of the time the cops can control the situation without it escalating out of control. But when it does, it is captured on video and sent out via Facebook and Twitter to the world.

Along with this comes the hype of "non-lethal" weapons. The term should be less lethal. If you hit a person with 50,000 volts, you run the risk of putting the person into defibrillation. Dog pile a suspect with a heart condition or that has been maced and you run the risk of heart attack. I've seen demonstrations of spray foams and netting that can be shot out of pneumatic guns akin to something Batman would have. The foam hardens immediately preventing the suspect from moving. However, if you hit the suspect in the face the hardening foam will suffocate them. The cool looking netting can strangle the suspect. Fortunately, I have not seen these Batman devices deployed (yet).

The police departments have bought into the notion that these things are truly non-lethal, at least until the suspect expires. Police officers forget about little things like adrenalin and oxygen. Chase a suspect and their body floods with adrenalin and is depleting oxygen. Now hit them with that stun-gun or spray them with mace. The suspect has difficulty breathing and their hearts starts going into overdrive. Now dogpile them when they don't respond to the officer's orders. Oops, you just made the headlines.

The military is fielding newr "non-lethal" technology that uses directed energy to super heat the outer layer of skin. Demonstrations show that there is no damage but the target feels like they are on fire. Of course what doesn't get reported is that just a little too much energy and now internal organs can be destroyed. There are also sonic devices that can cause disorientation by disrupting the inner ear function. There is interest by metropolitan police departments in such technology for crowd control or riot control in prisons. The police buy into the non-lethal hype and seem to ignore the horrifying effects (albeit short-term) the targets are suffering.

Society on the whole seems to want increasingly sensational headlines and the media, looking for profits in declining market, are only to happy to cooperate. Who cares about another oil rig failing in the Gulf when you can follow one moron down in Florida and whether he will burn Qurans. Look at the local news, you will be hard pressed not to feel all of your neighbors are criminals and are on drugs.

None of this should mean we should lose more of our rights and privileges in order to be safer from an unknown and unseen threat.

Sheriffs want lists of patients using painkillers - Crime/Safety -

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Full Body Scanners Part II

Apparently the full body scanners really do a virtual "strip search" otherwise why would the manufacture unveil avatars that look like "a guy with a baseball cap". The real question; are we really any safer as a result of this technology? How many would be terrorists have been thwarted or caught as a result of the rest of the passengers being subjected to undue search and exposure to high levels of electro-magnetic energy? I know one thing, full body scanners did nothing to warn port authority officials that a pissed of flight attendant had just pulled the ejection shoot and hauled ass off of Laguardia.

Airport `Naked Image' Scanners May Get Privacy Upgrades - Bloomberg

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

How to piss off you fellow man

Some idiot out in Florida has decided God wants him to burn Qurans. Look genius, what does burning someone else's holy book have to do with creating peace or loving your fellow man? Quimbob over at Blogging Isn't Cool shared a video with me of another idiot that thought "Machete" would lead to a race war. I really don't see the movie doing anything more than proving my point about Michelle Rodriguez. However, this dumbass in Kansas will most assuredly start some crap that none of us needs!

Vatican: Quran burning 'outrageous' -

Update: The leader of a tiny church on Thursday backed off his threat to burn the Quran, saying he gave up the plan in exchange for a deal to move a planned Islamic center and mosque away from New York's ground zero. The imam planning the center, however, quickly denied any such deal.

Vatican: Quran burning 'outrageous' -

Vatican: Quran burning 'outrageous' -

Monday, September 6, 2010

What I learned from "Machete"

You must be living in a cave (and probably lack Internet access as well) if you have not seen trailers for the movie “Machete”. No other low-brow action movie has sparked such an outcry from conservatives calling it “racist, anti-Texas, anti-immigration, anti-white etc”. I went to see it because as any red-blooded, heterosexual male I like violent action movies, especially if there is the promise of hot chicks. “Machete” delivers on all those counts.

Many movie critics and bloggers have gone into overdrive analyzing the movie’s political and social messages. I don’t think I can add anything to the conversation other than this admonishment; to those on both sides, stop throwing crap at each other. No one on either side of the border is trying to address the real issues behind the illegal immigration problem; there are NO jobs south of the border that compensates workers as well as jobs on this side of the border. On this side of the border, liberals have demanded increased minimum wage rates. Congratulations, you’ve price local citizens out of low paying jobs and encouraged employers to seek out illegal immigrants to fill those jobs. It doesn’t help that the majority of young workers have an “entitlement mentality” and provide some of the least dependable, surliest workers you can find.

Given all of that, “Machete” still is a lot of damn fun to watch. Here as just a few things you can learn from the movie;

1. Michelle Rodriguez is HOT!
2. Jessica Alba is not as hot as Michelle Rodriguez
3. Electra Avellen and Elise Avellen (the twin nurses who are also mechanics) are hotter than Michelle and Jessica
4. Latina nurses all wear white mini-skirts and matching platform shoes
5. One-eyed Latin chicks can shoot 10 gauge sawed-off shotguns without breaking their wrists
6. Sonny Crockett is dead and living along the border
7. Danny Trejo may have even more craters in has face than Edward James Olmos
8. You can fight off a band of assassins with a pump shotgun in each hand
9. Cheech Marin’s priest had to be a cross-dresser else why did he have a nun’s outfit hanging in his chambers?
10. When in doubt, choose a machete over a firearm
11. “Federales” are just misunderstood benefactors. Sort of blood thirsty Robin Hoods with a penchant for beheadings and dismemberments.
12. A dirty day laborer with a scoped M-16 on a rooftop doesn’t attract the attention of the US Secret Service or Texas Rangers (not the baseball team).
13. A cheap, rusty machete can shatter a folded steel katana.
14. Steven Seagal is still the best martial artist in cinema when it comes to Japanese swords.
15. Even Steven Seagal can be defeated by a dirty ex-federale turned day laborer wielding a cheap, rusty machete
16. The only thing hotter than a Michelle Rodriguez running a taco truck is a pissed-ff Michelle Rodriguez after she gets one eye shot out and goes after the bad guys. (Her wardrobe improved immensely as result).
17. Jessica Alba can kill a luchador using only a red leather pump with a brass stiletto heel.
18. Michelle Rodriguez is hot.
19. Jessica Alba can’t speak Spanish but is hot in high heels and skin tight jeans
20. Alicia Marek (the mom) is hotter than Lindsay Lohan, with or without clothes.
21. Mexican drug lords look suspiciously like a middle-aged Steven Seagal
22. Despite items #1, #2 and #3, Mexican drug lords prefer hot Asian chicks parading around in animal print bikinis and high heels.
23. Cheryl Chin, the aforementioned hot Asian chick, is SMOKIN’!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Red Skelton Pledge of Allegiance

Forty one years ago, Red Skelton called it. Isn't a shame we spend more time teaching proficiency tests than what it means to be a citizen of the United States?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Police kill gunman who held 3 at Discovery Channel

The headlines lately have emphasized Al Qaeda and/or radical Muslim terrorists. What doesn't get as much headlines are radical environmentalists who can be just as deadly as any other terrorist. Radical environmentalists have set homes on fires, booby trapped old growth trees, and committed various other acts of violence in the name of protecting the environment. Most of the environmental terrorist groups are focused out west or in the near the oceans. It appears they may be moving a little more mainstream in their targets.

Police kill gunman who held 3 at Discovery Channel - Yahoo! News