Thursday, July 31, 2014

Mad Max Movie Trailer

Cars.  Explosions.  Exploding cars.  Stuff blows up.  Like cars.

I can't wait.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

White House Working on Privacy Guidelines for Drones

In an act of ultimate hypocrisy, the Obama Administration is working on developing policies defined to protect "privacy" for citizens against drone technologies.  This from the same administration that has given us an abusive IRS and an ever spying NSA (hi, NSA!)

It is astonishing to me what this President can do with his media enablers to absolutely create news where none exists, and to carry forward stories that are abject lies.  This administration has cried "SQUIRREL" over and over again, and the media dutifully reports it, and a mindless electorate looks toward the distraction.

Again and again.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Leading Fron Behind

Leading is hard.  It is tough to be the one that makes decisions, to potentially be wrong, to do what is right, to set a tone, to be responsible, to deliver results, to influence others, and to deliver outcomes.  But in our current administration, we have none of that.  Our dearth of leadership is beyond gaping - it is a chasm that hasn't been seen in this country since pre-World War One.  

The world is completely falling apart before our eyes.  Russia in the Ukraine, Libya exploding, Hamas using kids as shields, South America ravaging our own borders, Iran another day closer to a nuke, planes falling from the skies, and chaos everywhere.  And when the world used to turn their eyes to the US for leadership, security, and standing up for what is right, they now see a feckless, impotent, and ignorant superpower wearing a kryptonite cape of a philosopy of "leading from behind."

What does that even mean?  It's wrong by definition.  It's like saying "winning by losing."  

Leaders lead.  That's what they do.  And they sure as hell don't do it "from behind."

Where this philosophy will lead us (no pun intended), is downright frightening.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Hamas Using Human Shields, Nobody Cares

The pictures are horrific  and graphic.  But yet nobody, save a few in the media and the Israelis themselves, are talking about the real reason why those pictures exist:

  

I'm not so concerned about the easily swayed dupes.  I'm more concerned about those that know better, but just flat out want Israel to be annihilated, regardless of the method or the cost. Hatred of Israel has been going on for thousands of years now, and appears to be continuing unabated.  

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mark Dayton Donates 2.8% of Income to Charity

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton released his tax returns.  The heir to the Dayton fortune was embarrassed to have donated just $1,000 to charity last year.  But don't worry, this year the trust fund baby dropped $10,000 to charity.  On an income of $353,000.  For 2.8% of his "income" (note, this has nothing to do with the wealth he has tucked away).

I reading the article on the StarTribune, it is interesting to see the apologists for the Governor/Cheapskate.  There are two basic themes there:


  • Conservatives give to things like churches, which aren't really charity.  If you take that out of the equation, Liberals donate more 
  • Conservatives don't understand that things like taxes actually benefit everyone, not just religious fanatics
Let's take each of these one at a time:
  • On the church argument, there are two points.  1) Take the Catholic Church, for example.  There is no bigger entity in the world that educates, heals, protects, feeds, clothes, and takes care of people.  It's not even close.  And it is absolutely being done down at the parish level.  So take your assumptions about religion and stick them with the rest of your ignorance.  2) Even factoring out religious donations, I guarantee Conservatives donate more.  That certainly applies to me relative to Governor Dayton, and my income was significantly less than his, and my bank account is a rounding error compared to his.  Just a couple that got my support last year were Wounded Warriors, Caring and Sharing Hands, Alzheimer's Association, American Cancer Society, March of Dimes, Goodwill, United Way, Second Harvest, Messmer Schools, Disabled American Veterans, Food for the Poor, the Salvation Army, and over a half dozen wildlife conservation organizations.
    And this is not the full list.
  • Taxes aren't charity.  Despite what Joe Biden and Mark Dayton claim, they aren't.  They're wasteful contributions (spent on things like IRS hard drives, for example), that keep people needy, and not moving them out of poverty or predicaments.  Are there examples of some being helped?  Oh, sure.  Has poverty gotten better since Lyndon Johnson declared war on it 50 years ago?  Hell no.  Not one damn bit.  Suckers.
So, my Liberal friend, the next time you look in the mirror, in your smug sanctimony, considering that the taxes you pay let you off the hook for your obligations to take care of your brother, remember that you're looking at a liar.  Conservatives give more to charity, and are the ones that are actually making a difference  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fascinating Study on Restaurant Patrons

Recently, a restaurant in NYC was seeing bad reviews for service, and wondered what was going on.  They felt they hadn't changed appreciably, and had been a very popular place for many tourists and locals alike.  Fortunately for them, they had access to video surveillance from back in 2004, and could see what, if anything, was happening.  

This is what they found:

2004:

Customers walk in.

They gets seated and are given menus, out of 45 customers 3 request to be seated elsewhere.

Customers on average spend 8 minutes before closing the menu to show they are ready to order.

Waiters shows up almost instantly takes the order.

Food starts getting delivered within 6 minutes, obviously the more complex items take way longer.

Out of 45 customers 2 sent items back that where too cold we assume (given they were not steak we assume they wanted the item heated up more).

Waiters keep an eye out for their tables so they can respond quickly if the customer needs something.

Customers are done, check delivered, and within 5 minutes they leave.

Average time from start to finish: 1:05

2014:
Customers walk in.

Customers get seated and is given menus, out of 45 customers 18 requested to be seated elsewhere.

Before even opening the menu they take their phones out, some are taking photos while others are simply doing something else on their phone (sorry we have no clue what they are doing and do not monitor customer WIFI activity).

7 out of the 45 customers had waiters come over right away, they showed them something on their phone and spent an average of 5 minutes of the waiter's time. Given this is recent footage, we asked the waiters about this and they explained those customers had a problem connecting to the WIFI and demanded the waiters try to help them.

Finally the waiters are walking over to the table to see what the customers would like to order. The majority have not even opened the menu and ask the waiter to wait a bit.

Customer opens the menu, places their hands holding their phones on top of it and continue doing whatever on their phone.

Waiter returns to see if they are ready to order or have any questions. The customer asks for more time.

Finally they are ready to order.

Total average time from when the customer was seated until they placed their order 21 minutes.

Food starts getting delivered within 6 minutes, obviously the more complex items take way longer.

26 out of 45 customers spend an average of 3 minutes taking photos of the food.

14 out of 45 customers take pictures of each other with the food in front of them or as they are eating the food. This takes on average another 4 minutes as they must review and sometimes retake the photo.

9 out of 45 customers sent their food back to reheat. Obviously if they didn't pause to do whatever on their phone the food wouldn't have gotten cold.

27 out of 45 customers asked their waiter to take a group photo. 14 of those requested the waiter retake the photo as they were not pleased with the first photo. On average this entire process between the chit chatting and reviewing the photo taken added another 5 minutes and obviously caused the waiter not to be able to take care of other tables he/she was serving.

Given in most cases the customers are constantly busy on their phones it took an average of 20 minutes more from when they were done eating until they requested a check. Furthermore once the check was delivered it took 15 minutes longer than 10 years ago for them to pay and leave.

8 out of 45 customers bumped into other customers or in one case a waiter (texting while walking) as they were either walking in or out of the Restaurant. 


Average time from start to finish: 1:55

A couple of days ago, I wrote about the massive gains in productivity brought about by technology.

I take it all back...

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Shotgun Silencer Video

For those of us that hunt waterfowl successfully, concealment is requisite for success.  By using decoys and calling, we hope our stealth is rewarded by bringing our quarry close enough for a shot.  Then, once the shot is taken, the jig is up.  We've exposed our position, and warned other birds that may have been on approach that danger lies ahead.

But imagine if the shots taken weren't so loud.  What might that be like?

Perhaps like this:



At $1,400 - pretty much the cost of a quality waterfowl auto-loader - this is way too expensive for the average duck hunter.  Likewise, I have no idea its impact on ballistics, especially for ultra high-velocity loads of which I'm a huge fan.  But for things like metro-area goose round ups, where one is looking to keep the neighbor and golfer distractions to a minimum, this could be the ticket.   

Monday, July 21, 2014

Dell S2340M Monitor and the Lessons of Technology

My previous desktop monitor had been acting up, and thanks to the web I was able to get an accurate diagnosis on what was wrong.  It was complex, and in the end, the problem meant that the monitor was dying.  It either needed to get fixed or thrown.  Seeing that it was over 10 years old, and that I have stated to need glasses to work on the PC, the decision was an easy one.

I went out to BestBuy.com, found a strong replacement, selected it for in-store pickup within the hour, and paid for it via my PayPal account which has been growing due to my work on UserTesting.com, and here we are with the new big-daddy monitor.  At 23", it is 50% bigger that what I was using previously, and has made use of the glasses a thing of the past (at least for now).  

All told it cost $159 - the cost of a nice dinner.  Why I hadn't done it before is a mystery to me.  

Technology is truly amazing.  From the information gleaned on the dying monitor, to ordering a replacement from my local store, to paying for it with money eared via web testing.  20 years ago, none of this existed.  

The Left likes to talk about increased worker productivity coming on the backs of workers, and that workers are not being compensated for "how much harder they're working."  Hogwash.  Technology has completely changed how effectively work gets done.  People aren't working appreciably harder, but the advantages that are provided by access to technology sure as hell makes them more effective.  

For those of us that have lived through it a remember a world without all of the technical advancement, these are truly amazing times.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

US Muslims REALLY Approve of Obama, But Are Slipping

In a recent study by Gallup, presidential approval was segregated by faith.  The results are below:

As a group, Muslims really approve of the job Obama is doing, and by a whopping amount.  While that's no surprise, here are a couple of data points that stand out:

  • Jews still approve of Obama by 55%.  Given Obama's rhetoric and lack of support for Israel, this is astonishing 
  • Catholics still support Obama by 44%.  With the specific attacks on the Catholic Church via the Obamacare law, this is astonishing to me as well.  
While Obama enjoys some strong support in some camps, that support has been universally falling:


Even five percentage points of Muslims have lost faith in Obama in the past five years.  Once you start to lose the Muslims, you've really lost them all... 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Friday, July 18, 2014

Obama: Narcissist, Tone Deaf, or Uncaring

President Obama made a speech yesterday, after he had been informed that a civilian airliner had been shot down, with a massive amount of deaths.  Including Americans.  This is how he approached it:



He spent about a minute on it before he moved off to his stump speech.  What you missed in this video was his introduction, where he jogged through the crowd with a big smile on his face; mugging and waving to the crowd.

This is a man that had just been informed that tens of Americans were killed.

Obama either only cares about Obama, or is unable to be presidential, or both.  Bush got pilloried for reading "My Pet Goat" when he was being informed about 9/11.  While clearly not as tragic an event, Obama's was handled with far, far less decorum.

But you won't hear about that.  Not when he looks so good and tells that Jack Lew signature joke so well... 


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Alarming Growth In Use of Antibiotics

According to a recent study published by the The Lancet Infectious Diseases and reported recently through NPR,  total doses of antibiotics sold globally went up 36% from 2000 through 2010.  The good news in that statistic - many people have been given lifesaving treatment.  The bad news in that statistic - such use just makes drug-resistant infection more common, and more hard to treat.

Get a medical professional alone and ask them what keeps them up at night, and odds are they'll convey how close we are to running out of last-resort antibiotics that can be used to treat infections when all other resources have failed.  They'll likely also convey that it is just a matter of when, not if, a worldwide pandemic occurs.

We're already seeing so much of that play out.  Just think of the friends and loved ones that you know that have been in the hospital (a supposed sanitary condition) and have contracted a horrible infection.  For some, it may even have done them in.

What a moral dilemma: Either withhold life saving treatments for some in the hopes of keeping antibiotics effective, or use them and run the risk of the human population being ravaged by the super bug that gets created.

Scary stuff.  

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Wal-Mart Promotes Women Owned Companies

According to Bloomberg, Wal-Mart will soon be highlighting items on its shelves to point out products that are produced by women-owned companies.

Is this what the "war on women" has come to?  One where a purchase decision is no longer based on the merits of a product's utility and value relative to competitive items, but one where we now need to consider the gender of the owner?  

And is that how we want women entrepreneurs to win - "buy from me not because I make a great product that crushes all others in the competitive set, but because I'm a woman?"  For Pete's sake, it is 2014, not 1950.  Women-run companies have been winning in the marketplace for decades now, thank you very much.  So why in the world is this "needed?"

Since Obama has taken over as President, we've taken steps backward as a society relative to our race and gender relations.  Things are worse than ten years ago, not better, and politicians continue to drive the wedge deeper.  As they gain success doing so, policies like the one Wal-Mart is undertaking come about.  And the downward spiral continues.

What the hell is happening to us?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Where Does Faith Come From?

Father Don wrote a piece last week about Thomas the apostle - the famous "Doubting Thomas," and how he and others have bought about the faith that we carry with us in our lives.  Fr. Don writes:

Thomas and many others have contributed to our faith: parents, obviously, friends, teachers, pastors, the Gospel writers, other authors, even critics of faith. Thomas may have believed, as Jesus says, "because you saw me." But most of the rest of us have not seen but have learned to believe because of the words and examples of others. Our faith is part of a broad and long connection to the faith of many others. Faith illustrates something which is true of so much else in life: we are what we are, we have our belief, our hopes and trust in God because of and through others. How much, too, we depend upon the support and example of each other. We have not seen, we have not touched the Lord but, impressed by others, we have believed.

As usual, Father Don is as insightful as he is spot-on.  But I'd like to take it a step further.  As our faith has been founded as described above, it has also been nurtured by those events in our lives in which God has revealed Himself to us.  While basically none us is privy to the type of revelation enjoyed by Thomas where the resurrected Christ asked Thomas to put his finger into the Savior's wounds, we still are afforded and blessed with glimpses from God that He is omnipresent, and that He loves us.  

Oh, sure, there are many days in which we don't see anything like that.  In our depths all of us have felt forsaken, alone, abandoned, faithless, and dare I say, doubting.  But even in those periods, He's there if we can just pull ourselves out and see.  

No, these revelations are usually not overt.  But they are there, and in too great of a quantity for us to ignore.  And for those of us with a foundation of faith provided by the others of whom Fr. Don wrote, these revelations help solidify that foundation, and reinforce that our faith is indeed justified.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Saturday Song Share: Cheap Trick - Southern Girls

In preparation for tonight's concert, here is a classic from Cheap Trick at the height of their powers in 1978.  

There was no rock drummer anything like Cheap Trick's Bun E. Carlos...

Friday, July 11, 2014

Gallup Poll on Obesity Finds It Linked to Lower Social Well Being

Gallup conducted a recent poll of US adults to determine their "well being."  As part of the study, "well being" is based on respondents' answers to items about the strength of their relationship with their spouse, partner, or closest friend; positive energy gained from family and friends; making time for trips or vacations with family and friends; and having someone who encourages them to be healthy. Gallup then categorized respondents as "thriving" (well-being that is strong, consistent, and progressing), "struggling" (well-being that is moderate or inconsistent), or "suffering" (well-being that is low and at high risk) in their social well-being.

The findings were interesting, especially as they related to BMI:

Those considered as normal weight had the best social well being scores, whereas those being obese performed poorly.  It is interesting to note that those considered underweight also scored poorly.

Since obesity is tied to well being, it isn't a far stretch that there's correlation to diet and exercise as well:


In fact, I'd propose that if you removed those defined as underweight from the schedule above, the impact of diet and exercise would be even more marked.

So there appears to be a link between obesity and well being.  The really big question is which causes which?  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Fake Soccer Injuries

While it is a cliche, it is still true for me as a sometime soccer watcher - the massive amount of fake injuries are distracting.  Extremely distracting.  They are for me based on two things:

1) They kill momentum and take up so much time.  The writhing, holding ones head in ones hands, obligatory spraying of the owie with some kind of "make it all feel better" spray, and Lazarus-like recovery take forever.  

2) As a product of American sports, especially football, we're coached to not show pain, and when it occurs that one is expected to play through it.  It becomes a badge of pride and an example of "toughness" that is part and parcel of what the American ideal used to be.  Hence, even though I get the game of soccer and how it is played (both by the rules and by the mores), there is still an emotional part of me, upon seeing a barely-touched player crumpling on the ground that still says to myself, "What a wuss..."

So with that, let's extend the cliche the whole way and enjoy the following:


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

2014 Duck Forecast

It has been a wet, miserable spring and early summer here in the upper Midwest.  Lake level are at their record highs in many areas, flooding is a massive issue, and some areas are considering building an ark.  It's bad.

Unless, of course, you're a duck.  All of this water means that what was previously marginal breeding habitat is now like a suite at the Four Seasons in Vegas - there's nothing but some big time breeding that is going on, and the numbers reflect it:


Some highlights from the 2014 USFW study:
  • Mallards - everyone's favorite duck, had a healthy 5% growth to push them to 42% over their long term average (LTA)
  • Wigeon had a nice rebound of 18% growth
  • Pintail continue to suffer; down 9% for the year, and down 20% from their LTA
  • Shoveler - AKA Spoonie or Hollywood - is up a massive 114% from their LTA
  • Canvasbacks dipped a surprising 13%, but thankfully remain up 18% to their LTA
For the fall flight, we're looking at an 8% increase on what was a hell of a season last year.  It is hard to believe that things could get better, especially as we continually lose habitat to farming year after year.  One of these years we'll be hit with drought in the duck production areas, and when that happens there is no habitat to which the ducks can fall back.  At that point, their numbers will absolutely crash, and that's not a function of if, but when.

But not this year.  Get out there this fall, fellow waterfowlers.  Things pretty much can't get any better than this.



Sunday, July 6, 2014

Iraq and Vietnam - Wars Won, Peace Lost

Attached is a pretty compelling video that equates what is happening in Iraq right now to what happened with Vietnam in the 70's:

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Saturday Song Share: Strand of Oaks - Sterling

"I hope one day to have half as much of my grandfather's integrity"

Track down this song and download it.  Right now.

Friday, July 4, 2014

John Adams and the 4th of July

If Founding Father Adams had his way, the 4th of July would not be the 4th of July.  In writing his wife, Abigail on July 2, 1776, he stated the following:

"I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more."

Not only would he be wrong on the date, but he'd also be incredibly politically incorrect.  Devotion to God Almighty?  Guns?  Carbon emitting Bonfires?  How politically tone-deaf could he have been?

Happy 4th of July, America.  And thank you, John Adams.  Even if liberals would hate your guts today and you did miss it by a couple of days.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Study on Religion's Ability to Solve Problems

Gallup conducted a recent poll of Americans which asked if they agreed that religion could solve all or most of today's problems.  The results were interesting:

Overall, most Americans agreed with the sentiment, but a few expected stereotypes emerged as being justified in the data:

  • Women agreed more than men
  • The old agreed far more than the young
  • The South agreed more than any other region
  • Conservatives agreed far more than Liberals
In fact, of all of those stereotypical differences, the one with the greatest differential was Conservative (at about 70%) versus liberal (at about 37%).  

It is a pretty striking difference between the two political, and as it turns out, religious philosophies.  

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Golfing with Ghosts

As I live on a golf course, love the game, but have little time, there are many days in which I'll wake early and head off the course to be one of the first people off; usually around 6:00 AM.  At that time, I've got the course to myself, and I can usually get an entire 18 hole round completed in about two hours - less the half the usual time.

While I do enjoy playing with others, I don't dislike playing on my own.  And that's because I don't play on my own.  

Every time I tee off on my own, I say a prayer on the #1 tee box.  My prayer is one of thanksgiving to live where I live and to have the health necessary to play the game I love.  A game that I've played with so many that I love.  I ask for patience, and to always remember that I playing a game that many others would love to play but can't.  

And then, after crossing myself and saying "amen," I ask the ghosts if they'd like to tag along.

My Grandma, Grandpa, and Dad all loved the game, and I loved my time on the course with them.  So before I tee off on #1, I ask if they'd like to tag along.  And throughout the round I think of them, talk with them, and laugh with them.

I've wondered if all of this was crazy, but last week I was out golfing with the ghosts, and on #10 I sank a tough 12 foot putt to save par.  I hooted, and said aloud, "Did you guys see that?!"  After uttering it, I kind of noticed that I was out there alone, and I felt a little sheepish.  But as I walked back to my cart, my Bluetooth radio kicked off Coldplay's "42," and the opening lines hit me like a ton of bricks:

Those who are dear are not dead
They're just living in my head

And they're welcome to stay there as long as they'd like.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Hobby Lobby Ruling Plays into the Left's Need for Conflict

The Left is absolutely on fire now that the Supreme Court ruled that Hobby Lobby doe not need to pay for their employee's abortions.  

Yeah, you read that right.  Abortions.  Although nearly every other media outlet calls them "contraceptives."  Hobby Lobby wasn't concerned about preventing a pregnancy.  They were concerned with terminating them.

So the case went to the Supreme Court under a religious rights pretext, and the court found in favor of the employer, although by the narrowest of margins.  When that happened, liberals and the media went absolutely ape-dung.

Even an attempted even-handed piece by CNN belies the true agenda:



Thank goodness Hobby Lobby had a heck of a spokesperson.  

An employer is not responsible to pay for your abortion.  Get $50 and kill your fetus on your own dime.  And that's a "war on women?"  Really?  That's all you have to hang your political futures on?  I guess it must be, since Democrats cannot run on the economy, jobs, foreign policy, race relations, immigration, government abuse, corruption and overreach.  In fact their only two issues - their only two: "The War on Women" and "Global Warming," are completely made up.   Fiction.  Neither have anything to do with reality.

The doublethink put forth by this administration and their acolytes is truly Orwellian.   But you need to run on something, and when you can't run on performance, gin up some outrage via some faux crisis.
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