Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

Gangs and kids

Friday, September 11th, 2015

One morning last week, I was waiting with my kids in the middle school carpool line when I saw a 20-something adult on a bike ride by, dressed head to toe in gang colors. As I casually watched in the rear-view mirror, he started chatting up a teenage middle school student as the young man was walking to school.

I’m not sure what was said there, but I sure hope that the student has a good head on his shoulders and gave no thought to joining a gang. I’d like to find out how I can do more to keep kids from choosing this dead-end path. It got me thinking, anyway.

Anchorage and crime

Monday, August 17th, 2015

Knowing the number of tourists that must pass through here, I was hopeful that Anchorage’s downtown would be a welcoming place.

I was wrong. I never felt fully safe when we were there, always having my street-smarts kick in to move us along whenever danger seemed to show up. There were a some guys here and there who seemed to be sizing us up as we walked by, causing me to walk us a bit faster. Suddenly, carrying that gift shop bag through downtown didn’t seem so smart.

One evening we parked downtown and headed over to see the “Aurora” showing at the Anchorage Center for the Performing Arts. I overheard the usher there chatting with another tourist.

“Anchorage has a great downtown,” he said without much conviction. “Sure, it has it’s problems …,” he continued, never finishing his thought.

Thoughts on flag burning and welfare

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

Your First Amendment at work

Your First Amendment at work

A shipmate of mine posted a photo meme from the “Right Wing News” Facebook page. It reads “Cancel the welfare checks of anyone who burns the U.S. flag. Share if you agree.”

This kind of asinine, knee-jerk, robot patriotism drives me nuts. Many mornings and evenings I have raised and lowered the American flag (we called it “colors”) on my ship while I served in the U.S. Navy. Out of all the tasks I had to perform whenever I stuck on the ship on duty, being color guard was my favorite. I considered it the deepest honor to smartly raise our nation’s symbol above my ship those mornings and to lower it and fold it solemnly at dusk.

Cheap thoughts: discouraging nighttime thefts from cars

Monday, July 13th, 2015

Saturday night as I lay sleeping in the bedroom just above, a thief quietly slipped up my neighbor’s driveway to his car, tried the door handle, and slipped away. He and his buddy found my other neighbor’s door unlocked and ransacked the car.

This happens from time to time when you live in the big city. You either keep your car locked (always a good plan) or suffer potential thefts. There aren’t many tools to it from happening.

Being a law-and- order-minded geek, I have been considering ways to catch some of these crooks. One way involves altering the battery pack on a laptop to conceal a GPS-enabled smartphone, which would lead cops directly to the thief. Why the battery? It does no permanent damage to the laptop and the remaining cells in the battery could power the laptop long enough for a crook to be convinced it works.

The genitalia vote

Friday, July 10th, 2015

A liberal friend posted this on her Facebook page in an effort to drum up support for Hillary Clinton for President:

IT is time to put our ducks in a row and support a woman IMHO. We all cashed in that chip and supported Barrack Obama the last time – and we did the right thing — even though he gave us Arnie Duncan!! I want to win. I want a woman to run. I like Bernie but come on – he will not be elected and he is not a woman — if we have a qualified woman does not she deserve our support? Where are all you affirmative action progressives? And bashing Hillary is harming our party and will harm our election chances and many many days the comments against her seem like “excuses” to support another man. Many comments are on the edge of sexist innuendos and often rude. I love Bernie’s brashness- boldness-his honesty and finger wagging BUT I do not want him to be my President – Hillary has experience as Sec. Of State alone that outranks his experience. I think it is time for a woman in the USA to be President. IMHO.

I was a bit taken aback that somehow Hillary was the Chosen One and that to point our her flaws is considered “bashing.” We are over a year away from the actual election, of course. There’s a long way to go. But there’s more.

17 Oct 2000: USS Kitty Hawk gets buzzed by Russian jets

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015
The USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) get overflown by Russian jets. This should never happen.

The USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) get overflown by Russian jets. This should never happen.

The photo above was taken by a Russian reconnaissance jet as it buzzed 200 feet above the USS Kitty Hawk as the ship steamed in the Sea of Japan on 17 October 2000. As you can see, the flight deck was far from being ready to launch CAP aircraft. According to some reports, it took over 40 minutes for the Kitty Hawk to launch any aircraft in response to this overflight. Even then, rumor has it that all the ship could muster to launch was a lowly EA-6B Prowler, no match for the Russian jets.

Public education

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

Little_Greenbrier_School.-1936I have a confession to make. At one point, fifteen years ago, I was on the verge of being a Libertarian. Up until then I was a left-leaning independent raised in a Republican household. My friend and roommate Scott sang the virtues of libertarianism and some of it appealed to me. I like the idea of personal responsibility and wasn’t too fond of the massive growth of government. The idea of Al Gore as President didn’t wow me and I’ll never forget the deer-in-the-headlights look George W. Bush showed during a debate when the question of foreign intervention was raised.

So I voted for the Libertarian Harry Brown. Ever since, I’ve blamed my miscast vote for the subsequent Presidency of George W. Bush, Iraq, and the current drift of America. But that’s a post for another day.

But back in my pre-kid days, libertarianism sounded intriguing. Why shouldn’t everyone do things for themselves? AFter all, I was successful. If I could do it anyone could do it, right?

Then slowly I began to consider the enormous advantages I’d had growing up, with a loving family, a decent education, a safe home, and little want for anything. I realized that not everyone shares the same advantages. No one ever really makes it on his own. Not in this world, anyway. We all stand on the shoulders of giants.

Privatizing veteran’s care? I don’t think so

Sunday, April 26th, 2015

Journalist Charles Lane

Journalist Charles Lane

Washington Post opinion writer Charles Lane suggested today that “market signals” can do a better job than the Veteran’s Administration in taking care of our nation’s veterans.

Without market signals to help allocate resources, long waits and other patient frustrations are inevitable, no matter how sincerely, or how threateningly, Washington orders their elimination.

Ah yes, market signals. That must be why every hospital in America is clamoring to staff its cardiology department, since heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Cancer is #2, so cancer centers are springing up everywhere, too. There’s a huge market for these services but do they do anything to actually advance medical science? The vast majority of them do not. They are, however, unbelievably profitable for the hospitals that have them.

“Market signals” would say every hospital needs heart and cancer centers, but what about the other diseases that are just as deadly if not as popular? ALS was off the public’s radar until last year’s “Ice Bucket Challenge.” The fad brought in more research money for ALS than ever but will the interest remain? Should we not pursue research and treatment because the “market signals” say it’s not as profitable as cancer? Do you tell your loved one with ALS, “sorry, dear. Our death panels, … er, I mean “Wall Street analysts” … say you should’ve gotten cancer instead.”

Liberals and the racist label

Monday, April 20th, 2015

Our local, world-famous RPD beat officer posted to the East CAC Facebook page today about his upcoming meeting with the owners of the local shopping center and asked neighbors what things he should discuss with the owners. Several citizens posted thoughtful, helpful critiques of the shopping center, though a few noted how some teens who sometime loiter in the parking lot make them nervous.

This made one neighbor uncomfortable. She responded:

“I’ve shopped at [this store] regularly for five years and I have never–not once–been solicited, approached, or bothered in any way, shape, or form by teenagers or loiterers. I’m confused as to where this concern is coming from (and yeah, I know there was that big fight there a month or so ago) Frankly, it’s making me a little bit uncomfortable, as this thread seems to be a bunch of white people talking about how to make the neighborhood shopping center a better place. A good conversation, for sure, but are (black) teenagers hanging out outside of a local grocery store really a safety concern?”

This led me to dryly remark on Twitter:

“The community discussion made it all the way to 31 posts before a white person accused the other white people of being racist.”


Dependent Verification programs are a stupid idea

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

Many employers are implementing audits of those employees using their company’s health insurance to verify that the dependents claimed are eligible to receive health insurance benefits. I think this is … well, evil.

Sez the Pittsburgh Post:

Employers like the audits because they are often able to help save on health care costs overnight without reducing benefit levels for employees. One in-depth study by the University of Colorado showed the return on investment for its own audit was 13 to 1, in the first year.

But employees targeted by the audits aren’t always fans.