Curent Events

Anything in todays news.

In a weak moment several years ago I let a friend talk me into signing up for Facebook.  After a few days I realized that Facebook was like the high-school social whirl; petty, childish and shallow.  As a consequence I did very little with my account.

Recently, there have been much news of Facebooks poor control of members information.  Just Google “Facebook Privacy” and you’ll get over 2,000,000 hits regarding the problem.  It is scary and I feel sad for so many people who are deeply involved in Facebook.  Maybe they don’t care about privacy…

For a good summary, go to this link.  May 31st has been designated Quit Facebook Day and you can learn how to delete your account here.

As a follow-on, Facebook is now deleting people’s posts (on FB) concerning privacy and links to the page (above) concerning how to delete your account.

It’s up to you, but you won’t be finding me on Facebook.

Current Events

матрациI don’t want this blog to turn into the ramblings of some news junkie, echoing what you can find a thousand places on the internet, but lately there have been a number of stories that I just have to comment on.

1. The Market “Crash”  Some moron types “b” when he meant “m” and Wall Street goes into a death spiral.    Why is such sloppiness allowed in such an important occupation?   What is wrong with the system that allows that to happen?   I sure am glad that the controls for our ICBMs have better safeguards (they do don’t they?)

2. The Gulf Oil Spill.  Don’t these people test things?  Even the smallest backwoods school has fire drills and safety inspections.  How could something as important as a cut-off valve not be ready to be used?  And they had to wait until after the accident to fabricate a containment device.  Were none of them Boy Scouts and learned “Be Prepared?” I wonder what the powers-that-be at BP would think if their BMW/Mercedes/Hummers were so poorly maintained.  Bet the mechanic would be looking for a new job.

3. The Time Square Bomber.  First, the only way this was discovered was when a street vendor saw smoke in the SUV.  Where were the “authorities”?  Second. the alleged perpetrator should turn in his terrorist license.  Any high school  chemistry student could build a better bomb.  I mean – firecrackers!  He could have at least gotten some decent aerial shells – the kind available all over dozens of states.  He should also learn that to make ANFO you need a certain type of fertilizer – just dumping oil on Rapid-Gro isn’t going to do much.  Lord help us if there ever is a smart terrorist.

4. The Arizona Immigration Law. I hope Arizona has a lot of police officers to spare.  Let’s see – I’ve heard 12,000,000 illegals.  If one cop can check the papers of 5 of them every hour then that’s 2.4 million man hours.  If you want to get the job done in a year (assuming 8 hour shifts) that’s  822 officers doing nothing but checking papers.  And that’s just to find the guilty.  It doesn’t count all the perfectly legal people they need to be checked along with the illegals.  Even if as many as one in 10 is illegal (which I doubt), Arizona needs 8220 new officers to find them in a year.  And don’t forget, the population of illegals is not static.  Plus there is the problem of not remembering who has been checked and who has not.  Maybe they need to make all those suspicious looking legals wear a yellow star to show they have been checked.

5. The Iceland Volcano Just goes to show that no matter how big your bank account, you can’t argue with Mother Nature.  And the “big” volcano in Iceland is still over-due to erupt.  If you have plans to go to Europe, book a ship and take a dust mask.

6. The financial “crisis” in Greece.   Greece is an nation of tax evaders.  It’s no wonder they can’t pay their debt when everyone there (at least those with money)  blatantly avoids paying taxes.  Of course, the US is going the same route, but we do it differently.  Instead of lying about our income and wealth, we elect sleazy politicians to give the rich tax cuts.  The result is the same – not enough money to run the country,  but the US rich can then still claim they are law abiding citizens.

You will notice that the majority of these stories have their basis in the same thing.  “People not doing their jobs properly.” In the future, take a look at the big stories in the news and see how many of them, at their root, involve sloppy, lazy, incompetent people who just don’t want to do the job they are hired for.

Flood Aftermath

Things are, very slowly, getting back to normal around the Cedar Rapids area. There are still many people who can’t return to their homes and a significant number of homes that will be totally demolished.

Roads that had been submerged are being repaired and power to the worst hit areas has mostly been restored. Neighborhoods that used sandbags in attempt to hold back the water now have mountains of them waiting for removal.

Thousands of houses and apartments had water damage to one extent or another. As a result there is a huge overload of trash consisting of waterlogged furniture, carpets, clothing and other household items. Among this trash are appliances of all types – washers, dryers, water heaters, air conditioners, and other major items. All around the area are temporary trash dumps where these items are being collected.

Appliance graveyard

Above is a picture was taken near the town of Palo which was completely flooded. Normally this is a corn field but now it has been pressed into service as a temporary dump.  Just trying to imagine the replacement costs is mind boggling.

Household trash

Here’s another shot of the temporary dump for non-metallic flood refuse. This was 10 or so times larger than the appliance pile. You can judge the size by the dump truck in the image.

The cleanup and reconstruction is going to take years and some towns and neighborhoods will never be the same.

I’ve recently received a number of calls and emails from friends, wondering if we are involved in the flooding here in East-Central Iowa. The answer is “yes and no”. Our house is at a high enough elevation that it isn’t likely we will get flood water. On the other hand we are semi-isolated from the surrounding towns because of road closures. With luck we will be be able to restock our food supplies soon, once more roads open up. We have plenty of food on hand now, a generator in case of power loss and (obviously) our internet connection. Still is is sort of worrisome when running in to the store is not an option.

Because of the road closures, I have not been able to get any photos of the worst flooding and, frankly, the gawkers have been a serious problem in this disaster. I have resisted the temptation to stick myself and my camera into the already confused and congested situation. I don’t know how long this link will be valid but here is an article with photos concerning the situation in Vinton, our county seat.

Anyway, we are high, dry and safe for the time being. The water levels in the immediate area are dropping and travel options should be improving. As long as we don’t get more rain we will be okay.

It is going to be a long time before this part of Iowa is back to normal but I am sure everyone will persevere. Once things settle down somewhat I will try to report more with photos. In anyone wants any specific information, don’t hesitate to post a question and I’ll try to respond.

This summary is for the first half of the game only, I presume that the second half was similar. I don’t know, I didn’t watch. I saw a football game once.

(The following list came from Jan )

● 5:15 (CST), New England came out of the tunnel – 5 commercials followed
● Star Spangled Banner sung – 7 commercials followed
● Coin toss – 2 commercials followed
● Teams come onto the field; no action – 1 commercial
● Kick off; with 14:55 left first qtr. – 1 commercial
● Player down with 10:47 left first qtr. – 3 commercials
● Field goal with 6:12 left first qtr. – 4 commercials
● Kick off; New York to New England – 3 commercials
● End of first quarter – 5 commercials
● NE touchdown with 14:57 left 2nd qtr. – 4 commercials
● Kick off to NY – 4 commercials
● Interception with 11:53 left 2nd qtr. – 5 commercials
● Giants stop NE with 10:00 left – 5 commercials
● With 8:36 left 2nd qtr. – 3 commercials
● With 6:59 left 2nd qtr. – 3 commercials
● With 5:00 left 2nd qtr. – 1 commercial
● With 2:30 left 2nd qtr. – 5 commercials
● Giants punt to NE with 1:50 left – 3 commercials
● Time out Giants with 1:35 left – 2 commercials
● Time out NE with 0:59 left – 1 commercial

They said there were 64 commercials in all; each must have played at least once during the first half with some playing twice. Of course, I did not keep track until the teams started out of the tunnel… can you imagine how many played before that in the pre-game show???

If you want to see all the commercials, you can go here.

Thanks Jan

So, what is claimed to be the biggest sports broadcast of the the year consists of more commercials than game time. This does not compute!

Brrrrr!It’s colder than (fill in your own epithet)!

How cold is it?
Here is the forecast for our area (Shellsburg, Iowa) over this weekend (February 3-4)

Today: Partly cloudy and cold, with a high near 0. Wind chill values between -20 and -26. Breezy, with a west wind between 15 and 23 mph, with gusts as high as 32 mph.

Tonight: Mostly clear, with a low around -15. Wind chill values between -24 and -29. West wind between 9 and 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.

Sunday: Partly cloudy and cold, with a high near 0. Wind chill values between -21 and -31. Northwest wind between 9 and 13 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.

Sunday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around -18. Wind chill values between -23 and -32.

(Those are degrees Fahrenheit)

Guess I’ll hibernate now.


Well, it’s all over except the Monday morning quarterbacking and the whining of the losers. I hope both political parties have learned something; namely that American voters aren’t as dumb as politicians believe they are. Back in 1994 the Democrats were arrogant and cocksure and got booted out. Now in 2006 the same arrogance and cocksureness has had the identical effect on the GOP.

I must admit, I had been despairing that the electorate would ever wake up. Now they (apparently) have. Next we must find out if it is too late to undo the damage of the last 12 years. We have lots of problems to fix. Some are health care, human rights, restoring the Constitution, extending economic prosperity to all (not just the rich), and reversing the erosion of our educational system.

But, after yesterday, I think I can go back to being a tentative optimist again. Thank you America for standing up for yourself. Let’s make a habit of it.


For the past month(s) we’ve all been bombarded with political propaganda. Phone calls, door-to-door canvassers, ads on TV, radio and in the papers; all shouting at us. If you are like me you were sick and tired of it weeks ago. No one I know bases their voting on political ads. The only effect on me is annoyance. Still, having lived through this onslaught, relief is near. Only one thing left to do. VOTE!

If you don’t vote then all your wasted time, energy, and perseverance were for nothing. Also, remember, you can’t complain if you don’t vote. So go out and reserve your right to bitch about the government. If you haven’t already, cast your ballot ASAP.

Recently I heard a couple of news items that started me thinking. The first was a comment that the US Gross National Product (GNP) is in the vicinity of 13 trillion dollars. That’s $13,000,000,000,000 ! A tremendous sum of money in any terms. The second news item was that sometime this month the population of the US will reach 300 million.

Being a mathophile I couldn’t resist dividing the GNP by the population. The result; $43,333. That is the amount of wealth produced by every single US citizen, assuming that they all contributed equally.

Of course it’s not that simple for a number of reasons. One reason is that not all people work. Children, the elderly, invalids, the unemployed and others reduce the real size of the work force. In 2006 the actual number of people employed in the US was around 144 million. Using this number gives $90,277 as the average value produced by every worker.

I’m not suggesting that every worker contributes the same to the GNP nor do I believe that the wealth produced should be distributed on a per capita basis. These numbers are only averages.

Yet I can’t help compare that $90,277 with the 2006 average workers income of $29,000. That simply points out the tremendous difference between the rich and the poor in this country. It makes me wonder how long the average worker can continue to believe in the American Dream when they share so little of the wealth they help produce.

Income and employment statistics from The Bureau of Labor Statistics