The Major Waste A waste of time, energy and bandwidth

May 19, 2017

100 Days (OK, more like 120) of Trump

Filed under: Soapbox,Uncategorized — The Robot @ 4:48 pm

It’s been a while, so I thought I’d drop another post in honor of the Hundred Days (or Dierum Centum, which sounds as intellectual as Google Translate can make me sound). OK, it’s more like 120 days, but you get the idea.

Overall, I’d say that Trump’s first 100-120 days in office are somewhere between "mixed bag" and "lit bag of dog poo sitting on your front porch". A good portion of the problems that he’s encountered have been of his own doing. It’s clear that he counted on handing off a lot of the work to his flunkies, acting as a "Head of State" instead of a "Prime Minister". But the problem is that I think that some of his flunkies, themselves, didn’t have a clue and were planning on pushing their work down to subordinates. This problem was exacerbated by the fact that the flunkies that actually seem to have a clue as to what they are doing are not the flunkies that Trump is listening to. To top everything off, Trump’s actions appear more random than any pseudo-random function I can think of. I think even quantum mechanics would have trouble explaining his randomness.

If there really is a Chinese curse that states: "May you live in interesting times," somebody dropped a whammy on us all.

 

Immigration Executive Order

This a great example of the "mixed bag" actions I mentioned above. On the one hand, I don’t think the overall goal of a temporary ban from the countries in question was a bad idea. The countries that were a part of the ban are either countries we don’t trust (e.g., Iran) or countries that really don’t have a government that allows any kind of normal vetting (e.g., Yemen). I think the execution of the initial order was botched as the last thing you would want for such an order is for the State Department to be caught off guard. The botched roll-out initially led to Green Card holders running to trouble, as well as people like Iraqi translators, who should have been cleared, running into trouble.

On the flip side, the judicial restraining orders blocking Trump’s executive order, were basically out of bounds. The law in the matter is pretty clear that the President has been granted the power by Congress to institute bans of this nature. It is telling that I have yet to see any legal reasons given to block Trump’s order. Even worse, the judicial orders set a dangerous precedent.

 

The Gorsuch Nomination

I think Gorsuch will end up being a good replacement for Scalia, so this was a win for Trump. It ended up being a potential double-win for Trump in that Chuck Schumer burned the SCOTUS filibuster to the ground in order to stop the nomination. I think this is actually a win for the Constitution as I don’t believe the Senate should be able to filibuster a SCOTUS nomination. In case you wonder… Yes, I think Garland should have been given an up or down vote. However, I don’t consider the seat "stolen" since the Senate never voted to confirm — thus the seat was never Garland’s to begin with.

Any talk by Liberals about how they were willing to give Trump’s nominee a fair hearing was shot down by a single picture:

Yep. Protesters just "filled in the blank" on their protest card. Too bad the candidate’s surname wasn’t something like "Jesus," "Mohammed," or "Clinton". It would have been fun to watch Libs marching around with those signs.

 

Russian Influence Operations

Yeah, I’ll admit that I’m bothered by some of the coziness between Trump / Trump surrogates and the Putin regime. But I’d be equally uncomfortable with the Clinton Camp’s relationship with Russian oligarchs, what with Bill Clinton getting paid half a million for speech. Or maybe it was the $145 million in donations from Uranium One shareholders to the Clinton Foundation. Or maybe Podesta’s links to Russia.

Then there is Bernie Sander’s honeymoon in Soviet-era Moscow. Or maybe Cold War Soviet influence on the on the peace movement in Western Europe.

In other words, the Democrats and the Media only seem to have problem with Soviet/Russian influence when it doesn’t benefit their side. On the flip side, many Trump supporters were probably anti-Soviet back in the day, but now seem to have no problem with Trump aides getting Russian paychecks.

 

Sharing Intel with the Russians

This is related to the previous issue. On the one hand, I think the Trump Admin needs to start running a far tighter ship. There is no reason why a meeting between Trump and the Russian Foreign Minister should be attended by Russian media, but not US media. And someone (anyone!) needs to start keeping Trump on script.

On the other hand, I’m getting sick of NYT and WaPo reporting along the lines of:

"Based on the notes of an anonymous source that spoke to an un-named person related to someone that works in the White House, Trump shared Top Secret intel with the Russian Foreign Minister. Among the details of the classified info shared were [insert classified info], [insert classified info], and [insert classified info]. About the only classified piece of information that wasn’t confirmed shared was [insert classified info]. And just in case the Russian Foreign Minister can’t connect the dots, the country the classified info came from was [insert source country]."

Does anyone remember the media reaction to Obama sharing British nuclear secrets with the Russians? Or maybe Israeli secrets? What about the media reaction to Obama commuting most of the sentence of Bradley (Chelsea) Manning — someone who intentionally leaked hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks?

 

Firing of FBI Director Comey

I find this one a head-shaker. I’m not a Comey fan by any means, but I think he was put in a bad spot by the Obama Administration. If anyone should have been canned, it should have been Loretta Lynch for her tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton. So I think Comey was largely trying to "split the baby" during the election. On the one hand, it wasn’t Comey’s job to decide not prosecute Hillary for her email shenanigans. On the other hand, it had become obvious that the Obama Admin was compromised on the issue.

That being said, If Trump was going to fire Comey:

(a) He should have done it right out of the gate — when Democrats were actually calling for Comey to be fired.
(b) He should have had three or four replacements already lined up and ready to go.
(c) He should have pre-coordinated the move with his staff — not wait until an hour before the announcement. At a minimum, Trump needs to allow his Staff to come up with a common story.
(d) He should have given Comey a heads up — having Comey find out by watching TV is kind of a jerk move.

Bottom Line: Like the Immigration Order, while there may be some argument for making the move, the move itself was incredibly botched and amateurish.

 

ObamaCare Replacement

This one I blame more on the Congressional Republicans than Trump, but he hasn’t helped the matter. Clearly, the Republicans are still divided on what to replace ObamaCare with. One group wants to tweak the edges and another group wants to go back to Square One and institute some sort of expanded health savings accounts or whatnot. So it was going to be a mess to replace from the get-go. But Trump clearly doesn’t have any replacement preferences in mind, nor does he even seem to know what he doesn’t like about the current law as it stands. So, all he’s been doing is running around with whatever plan seems to be in the works and talking about how it’s a "great plan". Which leads me to ask: "What do you like about it?"

He said Australia has a great healthcare system. OK. So why don’t we just go with that one, then? Sounds easy to me. Put that one forward and get the Democrats to argue against it.

 

Day-to-Day Operations

As stated above, I think this has been the glaring weakness of the Trump Admin so far. It’s a like a 3-ring circus. No one seems to know what’s going on from one minute to the next. It’s like Trump has a bowel movement from a bad batch of hummus and suddenly The Wailing Wall is no longer considered part of Israel. Heaven help us if Trump gets served a bad plate of General Tso’s Chicken. I think the media has done what they could to enhance that perception, but I think it is obvious that there is a lot of truth to the perception of White House chaos.

 

Impeachment Talks

There are whispers of impeachment and Article 25 removal from office. I will admit, I wouldn’t mind seeing Pence take over the office. I think there would be a lot less sturm und drang if someone more even-headed were at the helm. Although I don’t think Article 25 really applies to Trump, at this point. If impeachment calls start coming louder, expect more attacks on Pence. The Liberals are more leery of Pence in charge, than Trump. The media won’t be happy with just removing Trump. They will want Pence’s head as well.

 

Bottom Line

The Trump Admin needs to be dosed with Adderall and the media needs rabies shots.

 

-The Robot

January 21, 2017

The Obama Legacy

Filed under: Soapbox — The Robot @ 5:36 pm

It was about eight years ago that I rated the George W. Bush Presidency. Now that Barak Obama has finished up his two terms, I thought I’d do the same. Like Bush, I don’t think Obama was the worst President ever. Nor do I think he was a great President. At best, he’s somewhere in the middle.

 

On the Plus Side

• He Exudes a Cool Confidence: This was a very important quality to have at the beginning of his first term, during the financial crisis. Confidence produces optimism, which is what the stock market is all about. He was probably in over his head most of the time, but he didn’t look like he was — unlike his predecessor.

• He Didn’t Make the “Big Mistake”: Yeah, this is low-hanging fruit, but it’s not something you could say Bush and some other Presidents. While he did make several unforced errors (getting involved in the the Libyan civil war was one), none the errors had the magnitude of the handling of the War on Terror by his predecessor.

• He Avoided the Sex Scandal: Again, low-hanging fruit, but not something you could say of Clinton. I’ll give the guy credit for maintaining a significant level of dignity for the Office of the President.

 

On the Minus Side

• His Foreign Policy was a Mess: I don’t think there is anyone who has a clue what the Obama theme for foreign policy is. Bush-43’s foreign policy could be summarized by "Democracy in the Middle East". Clinton’s by "Leader of Humanitarian Efforts". Bush-41’s by "New World Order". And I could go on and on.

What is the underlying theme of Obaama’s foreign policy? What does it really mean to "Lead from Behind"? Ask yourself "Which country is in better shape now or do we have a better relationship with now than when Obama took office? China’s building islands in the Pacific. Japan is talking of changing their Constitution to allow armed forces again. The Philippines are sucking up to China. Afghanistan is on the train to Taliban rule again. An enfeebled Iran is back to causing problems. Syria and Iraq are in flames. Turkey is no longer a reliable ally. Russia is expanding. Libya and a host of African nations are Al-Qaeda/ISIS safe havens. Just about every country in Central and South America are a mess. But, hey, we threw Cuba and the Castro family of thugs a lifeline, so it’s all worth it.

He seemed to think that if he just showed up and gave a speech about the "Arc of History" or issued some mea culpas for the Crusades, everything would fall in line. If I really had to give a theme to Obama’s foreign policy it would be: "Toothless to Our Enemies; Treacherous to Our Allies".

• He Made the Presidency More Imperial: One of the valid criticisms of the Bush-43 Administration was the use of "signing statements" for laws he disagreed with and some other pseudo-Constitutional actions. Unfortunately, instead of rolling some of this stuff back, Obama grabbed even more extra-Constitutional authority. His actions on immigration and the Iran nuke deal, in particular, are troubling. He never did bother with getting Congressional approval for our Libyan intervention. There are other examples. Anyone worried about what Trump can get away with once he assumes the Presidency can look no further than Obama for a good part of the blame. You better believe Trump has a pen and phone also.

• He Chose Partisanship Over Unity: Based on his personal history (mixed race, raised by a single mother, father was an immigrant, raised in an Islamic setting, adult convert to Christianity, etc.) you would think he would’ve been the Great Uniter. You would’ve been wrong. Say what you will about Bush-43, but one of the first things he did was sit down with Ted Kennedy to work on "No Child Left Behind". He also worked extensively with Harry Reid trying to get an immigration reform bill passed. I don’t see any evidence that Obama even tried to work with Republicans. Don’t tell me that there were zero Republicans in the House or Senate that he could work with. McCain, Graham, Ayotte are three Senators who always jump at the chance to suck up to Democrats. In eight years, the only time I can recall that he met with Republican leadership, it was largely to lecture them and send them on their way.

It’s also clear that he let the Justice Department and the IRS among other government agencies simply become arms of the DNC. Does it shock anyone that the one time the Obama Administration actually seemed to get serious about hacking in the U.S., it was not after the personal data of everyone who has ever applied for a security clearance was stolen (a major national security issue), but after several DNC mail servers were hacked (no national security information compromised)?

The one time he actually seemed interested in some sort of bipartisanship or putting pragmatism above party was when he stood up the Simpson-Bowles Commission to come up with a way to get the budget under control. But when they finally came back with their report, he promptly ignored it.

• He Exhibited Weak Leadership: All of the above plays into the fact that he really isn’t a good leader. At every scandal, he inisted that he was learning about it "like everyone else" by reading the New York Times. I can see that happening to a good leader once. After that, he should have made it clear that he needed to be aware of any potential scandals long before they hit the NYT. And yet, it happened time and time again. Another example is Kathleen Sebelius who should have been sent packing after telling the world that the ObamaCare website was ready for launch and then having us all wait 4 months.

At the end of the day, Obama is the boss you’ve had that takes all the credit for things when they go right and finds someone else to blame when they go wrong. Don’t believe me? Ask yourself: Who ended the war in Iraq? In 2012, Biden was touting the removal of troops as the Administration’s greatest achievement. But when ISIS rolled on the scene, suddenly the story had changed and Obama had been forced to withdraw due to Bush’s Status of Forces Agreement (negotiated in 2007) expiring. So which is it?

• His Economic Success is “Juiced”: You can talk about jobs created, unemployment numbers, and the DOW all you want, but like Barry Bonds home run record, Obama’s economic record has a huge asterisk next to it. In the case of Obama, it is not steroids, but an additional $9.3 trillion in debt. Remember when Senator Obama decried the $9 trillion in debt (at the time) the U.S. was sitting on in 2007? Yeah, President Obama doesn’t either.

Just to give you an idea of what the number "9.3 trillion" is like…

(a) If 9.3 trillion $1 bills were laid end to end, it would go for almost a billion miles — well past the orbit of Saturn. Driving at 70 miles per hour, it would take you 1,485 years to drive the distance. So, if you started driving in A.D. 532, you’d have made it by now. In A.D. 532, the Byzantine Empire was the big kid on the block for Europe and Atilla the Hun had been dead for about 80 years.

(b) If 9.3 trillion $1 bills were laid out on the ground, it would cover almost 38,000 square miles — more than enough to cover the States of Rhode Island, Delaware, Connecticut, Hawaii, New Jersey, and Massachusettes combined — and almost enough left over to add in New Hamphire.

(c) 9.3 trillion in $100 bills would weigh 103,000 tons — more than 15,500 adult, male African elephants — and enough max out the load capacity of 1,212 C-17 cargo aircraft.

And realize that this $9.3 trillion in additional debt also takes into account the budget sequester that he signed up for and then fought tooth and nail. If not for the sequester, the additional debt would be even greater. Couple that $9.3 trillion additional debt with the shale oil boom and it becomes plain where the "economic miracle" comes from.

• Other Head-Scratchers: There’s a handful of other actions President Obama took that defy explanation. Commuting Chelsea (formerly, Bradley) Manning’s sentence? Manning intentionally transferred three-quarters of a million classified documents to Wikileaks. Or pardoning the terrorist, Oscar Lopez Rivera. These are simply bad optics that just make InfoWars look rational. But if you are going to the trouble to free Manning and Rivera, then why not go full-Manchurian and pardon Snowden? Was Manning’s commutation just some sop to the LGBTQQIP2SAA Community?

The Bowe Bergdahl trade was another head-scratcher. Everything about it — from the timing of it, to the Rose Garden speech just didn’t make any sense.

 

A Quick Analogy

I once compared Obama’s performance to that of his brother-in-law, Craig Robinson. Craig Robinson was the head coach of the Oregon State Men’s Basketball Team. When he was hired, the team was in full meltdown. Not only did they not win a Pac-12 game the previous season, they didn’t even come close to winning a game. 30-point blowouts were common. Robinson came in and turned the team around — to a point. The team won the College Basketball Invitational (CBI — a tournament for teams not selected to the NIT, which in turn is a tournament for teams not selected to the NCAA) the first year of Robinson’s tenure. Unfortunately, that was the high point of Robinson’s tenure. During the rest of his tenure, the team was never selected to the NIT or NCAA tournaments. They just kind of stagnated.

Part of the problem was Robinson’s coaching. While he was a pretty good recruiter (it’s nice to be able to say you played for Obama’s brother-in-law), too many games were lost in the second half. To me, this is a coaching problem. When you lose second-half leads, it means: (a) the coach didn’t make the second half adjustments, (b) the team didn’t execute on the adjustments [a coaching issue], and/or (c) the team lacked the physical conditioning to play the whole game at a high level [again, this is a coaching issue]. When questioned about these losses, he would either blame a player injury (while ignoring key injuries on the opposing team) or blamed the team for not executing his game plan.

I view President Obama in a similar manner. While there is no doubt that President Obama provided much needed stability in a grave economic time, things have largely just moped along. Some things got better. Others got worse, but you never got the idea that Obama saw (or even wanted) another 50 years of American leadership in the world. Case in point: Look at the last two years of the Dow Jones…

The bump at the end? That was Trump getting elected. The previous 22 months? Stagnation.

 

Bottom Line

Blown potential. He could have created something spectacular, but ended up continuing the decline of American leadership started under Bush. Now we have Trump and I’m not confident he has the temperment to reverse the decline.





 

-The Robot

January 2, 2017

My “Tale of Two Cities” -Year

Filed under: Update — The Robot @ 6:25 pm

School: Finally done. It is official. I am done graduated. It feels a bit weird. Over the last 30 years, I’ve done two Bachelor’s and two Master’s Degrees. Since the Fall of 1985, I’ve had a break from school between Summer of ’91 – Fall of ’94 and another from Fall of ’97 to Summer of ’08. That’s about it. I don’t forsee any formal degree programs in the future (no 3rd Masters, no PhD), but will be doing a lot of online courses (mostly free, maybe some paid). I’ve also been taking a bunch of classes through the MITRE Institute, and will probably continue to do so. I also started a Quantum Crypto class online. We’ll see if I stay with it.

Working Out: I reached my minimum weight (since about 2004) a couple of months ago. I’ve packed on a few pounds since then, but some of it might be some muscle. The workouts have been going OK. The problem is not so much muscle soreness as tendon/ligiment soreness. I’ve been taking a lot of branch chain amino acids (BCAAs) for recovery. It seems to be helping a bit.

Working: The same day I found out that I had offically graduated from school, I found out that I had been promoted at work. Needless to say, that made for a pretty good day. However, later in the year, I had an incident arise that put my job in jeopardy. It’s a long story and (I think) has been finally resolved. The only good things to come out of the whole incident is that I really had a chance to re-evaluate some of my priorities and I really got a chance to see my bosses and co-workers stick up for me.

Home: We had a hail storm a couple of months ago that hit the area. I had a large window shattered, gutters that were destroyed, a roof that needed replacing, and a bunch of window frames that need replacing also. The roof is done. Still waiting on the gutters and windows.

Hail

BustedWindow

Travel: In the more than a year:

1) Maryland -I had a chance to head back to the old stomping grounds in Maryland and see the old gangs (Work and Church). It was a great time.

Colemans

MD-Gang

2) Los Angeles -I also had a chance to head out to L.A. to see my good friends, Salvador and Lupita (and their adorable children, of course!). Much good food was devoured.

Alemans-LA

3) Mexico -Rena and I went on cruise down to the Yucatan (Progreso and Cozumel) with some of my co-workers. It was fun. Got to see the Mayan ruins and the reef at Cozumel. Nobody got sick and I didn’t miss the boat in Progreso (although that was a near thing).

ChichenItza

Ship

Reef2

4) Seattle -Made a quick trip up to Seattle to see the family.

MomDadSher

MikeKids

SteveSheilaDad

JoeMeghan

5) Minneapolis -Went out to Minneapolis to participate in my best friend’s wedding. It was a great ceremony and reception.

MeDave

Cathedral

6) Austin – Went up to Austin to visit my nephew and his (then) fiance. At at Franklin BBQ. Franklin rates

#1 from Bon Appetit
#1 from Texas Monthly
#7 from Business Insider
#9 from Trip Advisor
In the Top 10 from Men’s Fitness
In the Top 10 from Gayot
#17 Most Important Restaurants in America from Bon Appetit
#27 from Foursquare
Among the Best in the South and Texas from Food and Wine
Mentioned in this article from NY Times
And here’s Anthony Bourdain’s show
Obama cuts the line and eats at Franklin
And it was featured in the movie, Chef, with Jon Favreau.

My score: 4.5 out of 5.

I am somewhat biased as the word “barbecue” to me, means ribs. While here in Texas, “barbecue” is all about the beef brisket. From that perspective, Franklin is a top notch place. The brisket was the best I’ve had in the state. It was incredibly moist. The ribs were as good as any I’ve had in Texas. But I like my ribs with a good sauce on them — as you would find in most other BBQ places around the country. I also tried the pulled pork (pretty good), the turkey (also decent), and the sausage (wasn’t impressed).

The Staff was excellent. You could tell they really enjoyed their jobs. They definitely get an A+.

The wait in line looked ridiculous. The picture below was after they had been opened for an hour. The people at the end of the line had probably been in line an hour before the place even opened. I actually put my order in online — more than a month in advance — and still had to wait 30 mins to get my food.

Franklin

Franklin-Line

Bottom line: Outstanding brisket and great ribs. Wonderful staff, but (to me) not worth the wait. If you have nothing to do on a Saturday morning in Austin and love brisket, this is your place.

7) Around San Antonio – Also had my good friend Salvador and his family stop by for a few days during their travels.

AlemanSA

8) Back up to Seattle – Went back up to Seattle to see my nephew from Austin get married. Another beautiful wedding attended..

9) Washington D.C. – Finally, I went back to D.C. to participate in my friend Salvador’s pin-on to Lt Colonel. It was a well-deserved promotion for a great American and great friend.

 

Movies and TV and books:

1) Movies -Some notable movies I’ve seen since the last blog entry

Series
Finale
Grade
Also known as Star Wars: The Next Generation. Parts of this movie, I liked very much (e.g., some of the interaction with Finn and other, scenes with Poe Dameron or Han Solo). Other parts, I found to be a complete repeat of Episode IV.

One last thought… The Empire (or the First Order) always seems to have a military advantage in these fights, so why do they expend so many resources making super-weapons that have glaring weaknesses?

B
Surprisingly, this movie was lacking in overt politics. But it really does portray the Government as completely uninvolved. Without saying Hillary’s or Obama’s name once, it really does get the viewer to ask the question: “Where is the rescue team?”

Politics aside, it’s still an excellent movie.

B+
Sort of a pseudo-history of the crucifixion and resurrection. Major events happened as told in the Biblical account, but some “fill in the blanks” moments with a character not appearing in the account.

I thought this one was well written and well acted.

 

B+
I was not impressed with the theatrical release of this film. I thought it was kind of choppy and too drawn out before the confrontation took place. Also, I thought Lex Luthor’s plan was waaaaay too convoluted to make any sense.

The special edition (extended director’s cut) was much better as it filled in some of the missing pieces from the theatrical release.

Even then, however, I think the DC Comics-verse they are trying to establish here is a bit rushed. It seems like they are trying to jump straight to the Justice League movie as soon as possible instead of spending time developing the characters.

B
This movie was right up there with the first Avengers movie as my favorite of the Marvel movies. It was a good mix of action and drama with some moments of levity thrown in by Spider-Man and Ant Man.
A to A+
One of the most visually stunning movies I’ve seen in a while. I also appreciated the actors they got for this movie (Cumberbatch, Swinton, Mikkelsen, Ejiofor, and Wong).

This movie makes me want to see Thor: Ragnarok that much more and get ready for Avengers: Infinity War next year.

A-
This movie *may* take the place of The Empire Strikes Back as my favorite of the Star Wars franchise. Yep. It was that good. Call it Episode 3.9 (or III.IX?)

The start was a bit slow, but then the action kicked in and they finally added K-2SO (who is now my favorite droid).

And the ending was absolutely perfect.

A to A+

2) TV – Some good shows since the last entry. Skip this part unless you don’t mind *** S P O I L E R S ***

Series
Finale
Grade
WalkingDead
Negan and Lucille. Need I say more.
A
OK. Everyone needs one of those shows that are just somewhat fun to watch, but don’t have all the acting, plot, special effects, etc. For whatever reason, Dark Matter is that kind of show for me. It’s unexplainable, but it’s just a show I enjoy watching.
B to B+
This was the best season of Game of Thrones for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that it was the first episode that did not come from the Song of Ice and Fire books (the author taking his sweet time to write new books). So almost all of the material in the show was entirely new.

The second reason is that the season finale was probably the best episode of the entire series. Just the way it was shot (e.g., using music with only minimal dialogue at the beginning of the show) was excellent.

I can’t wait for the next season.

A
This season was easily the best of the Netflix-Marvel TV shows. The Punisher character was perfectly done and the scenes with the Kingpin were top notch.

The action sequences with a young Elektra were awesome also — as I know the stunt double who did them

A- to A
This is the show that caught me completely by surprise. If you are a fan of the 1980s, and specifically the Steven Spielberg, John Houston, and Stephen King movies from the era, you will love this show. It is not just an homage to those films, it’s the perfect mashup of them
B+ to A-

 

3) Books – I finished a few books this year. Some were (of course) textbooks like

Comics

Others were books were related to work…

And others were simply for entertainment (yeah, what I call entertainment may be significantly different from others)…

 

Penultimately…

Here’s the Christmas cards from 2016. It’s good to have friends!

Finally…

Here’s the Countdown for today (Days till the Seattle Seahawks end their season with a beat-down from the Detroit Lions):

-The Robot

“Sors michi nunc contraria”

November 11, 2016

How Did We Get President-Elect Donald Trump?

Filed under: Soapbox — The Robot @ 7:55 pm

I’m just as surprised by the Trump win as anyone else.  So the question is, how did we get here?  Or to re-phrase in American-ese: Who can we blame?  In no particular order…

(1) The Framers of the Constitution – Looks like we are going to get a President that did not win the popular vote.  You can debate the need vs lack-of-need for an Electoral College, but the law remains that East and West coast metro areas don’t get to decide the Presidency.

(2) Hillary Clinton – Let’s face it.  She’s just a bad candidate.

  • She’s not relatable to the average American.  Just think of how big a deal it was to the media when she actually ordered a burrito bowl at Chipotle (“See!  She’s just like us!”).  She thinks that being “dead broke” is having trouble paying the mortgages on her homes and sending her daughter to an elite private college in another State.  Her “baskets of deplorables” comment didn’t help her much either
  • She’s not trustworthy.   Just look at the whoppers she told during the email scandal: “Other Secretaries did the same thing,” “I didn’t send or receive any classified,” “I did it solely for convenience,” “I was sending emails to Bill,” etc. etc.   And that’s just for one scandal.  Now multiply that out by all the other “-Gate” scandals she’s been involved in.  After 25+ years, it just gets old.
  • She’s not physically fit.  You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to realize that when someone’s handlers actually “handle” them like a refrigerator carton full of old clothes by leaning them up against bollards and such, there’s something more going on than a touch of the flu (that’s apparently dragged on for the last 18 months).  I would not be surprised if a year and half from now she’s suddenly “diagnosed” with Parkinsons or whatnot.
  • Her record is uninspiring.  It might be something if she had some actual accomplishments to pad her resume with, but she doesn’t.  She just has a record of job titles and a lot of frequent flyer miles.
  • Bill Clinton didn’t help her.  He looked about as frail as her and Trump’s “sex scandals” were too easily countered by Bill’s.  Aside from the “Clinton” name, I think he was just a drag on her campaign.

(3) The Democratic National Committee / Wikileaks – I put these together because the damage that Wikileaks did to Hillary was by releasing the DNC emails showing the favoritism for Hillary.  It was as if emails were released showing the NFL Commissioner directing rule or schedule changes that specifically benefited the New England Patriots or emails showing NFL officials passing parts of the Carolina playbook to the Denver Broncos right before the Super Bowl.  If you didn’t believe “The System” was rigged before the Wikileaks email drops, you would have a tough time afterward.  But not only did the DNC show favoritism toward one candidate over another, it looks like (from #2, above), they picked the wrong one.  If they had thrown their weight behind Biden or Warren, the result might have been different.

(4) Barak Obama – I think President Obama helped set the stage for President Trump in the last two years.  Actions such as his immigration changes via Executive order, the Iran Nuke Deal, the Paris Climate Agreement, his Syrian refugee policy, the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, etc. — and the way these were implemented — made it tough for Hillary to run a “stay the course” campaign.  Hillary Clinton + an Imperial Presidency is not a good combination

(5) Mitch McConnell and John Boehner – I’ll put more of the blame on Mitch McConnell here.  I think the big event that threw the anti-establishment movement into high gear was the Lame Duck Senate actions after the 2014 election.  The GOP message of “Give us the Senate so we can stop Obama” followed by a flurry of GOP activity in the Senate to pass the Obama agenda before the new GOP Senators could be seated was a huge sign of betrayal.  And John Boehner’s crybaby act in the House was never deemed helpful.

(6) Jeb Bush – Jeb represented the “elite” GOP choice.  The fact that his campaign strategy seemed to be to suck up all the donor money so that Rubio and Cruz didn’t have a shot, beat up on Rubio as much as possible, and “Win the General by losing the Primary” made him the Lex Luthor to Trump’s Superman.  By the time Jeb dropped out, Trump was firmly established as the anti-establishment choice.  I think if he (wisely) had avoided the competition, things may have solidified behind Cruz or Rubio.

(7) South Carolina Evangelicals – 72% of voters in the South Carolina GOP Primary were “Born Again” Christians and they voted for Trump.  Not only did this give Trump another early victory, it basically shattered the idea of the Southern “firewall” strategy that Ted Cruz was basing his campaign upon.

(8) Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez / City of San Francisco – The issue that got Trump into launch mode was the killing of Kate Steinle by Sanchez.  If Sanchez hadn’t killed her or the City of San Francisco wasn’t a “sanctuary city”, Trump may not have had his key issue.

 

-The Robot

“Sors michi nunc contraria”

November 3, 2016

The Case for Donald Trump

Filed under: Soapbox — The Robot @ 7:44 pm

First, let me state for the record that Donald Trump is one of the last people in this country that I would trust to be President.  But I must highlight that part of the statement that is: “…one of…” .  Are there people that I would would prefer less than Donald Trump?  Sure.  Anyone connected to the Kardashians (to include Kanye), Miley Cyrus, whoever at Fox TV canceled Firefly, actress Lena Dunham, former Denver QB John Elway, Anyone who has starred on The Real Housewives of… , Director Michael Moore, and (most importantly) Hillary Clinton.

Why am I not a Trump fan?  There are numerous reasons.

  1. He has no self-control: He can’t seem to stay off Twitter even after it’s gotten him into hot water about a dozen times over the last year.
  2. He doesn’t seem motivated to be President: When it comes time to sit down, get serious, and practice for his debates against Hillary, he can’t be bothered.
  3. His primary concern is his own status/ego: When the GOP Convention finished, his first order of business was to not to go after Hillary Clinton, but Ted Cruz.
  4. His plans are soft, at best: His main idea seems to be “hiring the best people”.
  5. He’s a lying, cheating, draft-dodging, womanizer: Who does this remind me of?…

—————

So why not pick Gary Johnson or Evan McMullin?  Why not do a protest vote for Ted Cruz (who may get some protest write-ins here in TX) or Bobby Jindal (my first choice)?  Why not, indeed?  I may choose one of those options.  I have not decided.  But that is not the question here.

The question is: Are there reasons to pick one lying, egotistical, multi-millionaire/billionaire from New York (Trump) over another (Hillary)?

The answer to that question is a resounding “Yes!”

  1. A significant segment of his own Party is against him: His somewhat toxic relationship with Rep. Paul Ryan tells me that the GOP in Congress aren’t going to simply rubber-stamp Trump’s policies.  Outside of Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard or Sen. Bernie Sanders, I don’t think there’s a Democrat in Congress that will not vote lock-step with Hillary.  Wikileaks has shown that the DNC machine is 100% owned and operated by the Clintons.
  2. The media is against him: If you want to see journalists actually do some investigative reporting on the President’s actions, it’s going to be with Trump in the White House — not Hillary.  If President Hillary were to commit cold-blooded murder on live TV,  CNN’s lead story would be on the GOP’s over-reaction to Hillary’s dedication to population control.  Again, Wikileaks has shown that the media is completely in the tank for Hillary.
  3. There’s a good chance that he’d be a one-term President: His apparent lack of interest in actually being the President means there is a good chance of convincing him to only do one term.  Heck, he may even resign after a couple of years.  Hillary?  She would still be President even 3 months after passing away.  She’d be a Weekend at Bernie’s President that’s rolled out for photo ops, while Bill runs things behind the scenes (V.P. Kaine will never, ever, ever touch the levers of power).
  4. His relatives don’t seem interested in the Presidency: I could be wrong on this, but I don’t see Don Jr., Ivanka, or Melania running for office any time soon.  And I am sick and tired of seeing Bushes and Clintons being put forward.  I don’t want to see another Bush or Clinton for another 30 or 40 years.  There were many reasons to fight the Revolutionary War.  One of them was to get rid of the trappings of a monarchy.  Why are we trying to set one up again?  Why are people discussing a political career for Michelle Obama?  I think we can find plenty of people who can lead us that are not named Bush, Clinton or Obama.
  5. Just to cause Liberal heads to explode: Everyone knows one — that nagging Liberal that tries to guilt you into veganism while they drive around in an emissions-free car powered by their own smugness.  The one that tweets out the evils of Capitalism from their iPhone.  Admit it.  You’d love to watch them have an apoplectic fit about 10x a day.

 

-The Robot

“Sors michi nunc contraria”

December 27, 2015

Soapbox 2015

Filed under: Soapbox — The Robot @ 12:47 pm

ISIS

What to do about them?  My feeling is to either roll into Raqqa and Arc Light the whole area or get out and leave the Iraqis and Syrians to figure this one out.  Honestly, this is one of those foreign policy decisions that I probably agree more with Rand Paul than anyone else.  Why it is our business to back a Shi’a -dominated government in Iraq over a group of Sunni insurgents, while simultaneously backing a group of Sunni insurgents in Syria over a Shi’a -dominated government is beyond me.  The character Peter Quinn in the show Homeland says it best (apologies for language)

The Iraqis wanted us out and we left.  The Syrians never wanted us in.  So remind me why this is our fight.  The only way we should play a part is to provide humanitarian aid and set up some safe zones for refugees.  Which leads to…


Refugee Crisis

Part 2 of the ISIS problem is the problem of refugees.  First, I don’t see a reason to take in Syrian refugees.  First, we can help more people over there than we can here.  The cost to help a Syrian refugee over here is 10x – 12x more expensive than helping them over there.  Second, our top priority should be to help the groups that will be on the losing end regardless of the outcome: Kurds, Christians, Yazidis and some other minorities.  Third, only the most die-hard Kool-Aid drinker would believe that whatever “vetting” process Homeland Security has for Syrian refugees, it is going to be carried out without the typical government incompetence we’ve seen lately from the IRS, ATF, Secret Service, EPA, VA, OPM, and HHS.  Finally, I’d like to see some of the Gulf States (that are financially involved in this conflict) step up to the plate and bring in their share of refugees.  Graphics like this are a travesty.

Refugees

How about using the Tent City of Mina (adjacent to Mecca in Saudi Arabia) until the time of the Hajj in September?  It can handle up to 3 million people.  Sounds like a made-to-order refugee camp right there.

Mina

Donald Trump

Bottom Line: I don’t trust someone to represent Conservative ideas, who has been a “Conservative” since… well… about all of about a few months now.  And is only really “Conservative” on one issue: immigration.  Other than that, I find him generally uninformed and schizophrenic.  In fact, other than the issue of immigration, as a crazy, old, white guy who is friends with the Clintons, he’d be more at home on the Democratic debate stage than the Republican.  I’m still not convinced that he’s not Hillary’s ace-in-the-whole.  I think I might have a different opinion of him if he had run for Mayor of NYC or Governor of NY and got some political experience under his belt and proven his bona fides.


The Other GOP Candidates

Lindsey Graham: The best friend a Democrat in the Senate could have.  Also the genius behind one the dumbest foreign policies I’ve heard in a long time — full throated-war over there but open borders over here.

Rick Perry: Shouldn’t have bothered.  Had his chance in 2012 and blew it.

Bobby Jindal: Waited too late to get in.  Would have been good to hear him in the “main event” debates

Rick Santorum:  See Rick Perry

George Pataki: Huh?  Why?

John Kasich:  I kinda see this since he is a popular Governor of a swing state, but like Trump, I see him more at home on the Democrat Debate stage as he is trying to out-Democrat everyone on the GOP debate stage.  In fact, he and Democrat hopeful Jim Webb could have changed places and nobody would have noticed.

Mike Huckabee: See Rick Perry

Scott Walker: Would have been a solid candidate, but was clearly not ready to jump up to the next level with a national campaign.

Chris Christie: Probably would have won the nomination in 2012 and probably would have had a good shot at beating Obama in the general — especially after getting a chance to shine during Hurricane Sandy.  Instead, sat out the race and then gave Obama a big bear hug during the aftermath of Sandy.  Immediately became poison to the base.

Rand Paul:  Would be a frontrunner if not for the rise of ISIS.  The GOP base seems to want a more hawkish leader.  I probably lean more toward his foreign policy approach than the others.  It’s a shame he’s not getting more traction.  I think he brings some ideas to the table that should be debated.

Carly Fiorina: Great candidate.  Well polished.  Great communicator.  Would do a good job as President.  Certainly better than another current woman candidate I can think of.  Her history with HP is her undoing.  I think the $30 billion Compaq merger was a huge mistake.  That being stated, at least HP is still making PCs today.  I think HP’s later $1.5 Billion acquisition of Palm under a different CEO was an even dumber mistake as they quickly dropped any plans for the Palm IP they had just bought.  Lack of political experience is also a hindrance to Carly.   

Jeb Bush:  Or should I say “JEB!” ?  I’d be tempted to say “See Rick Perry”, but he wouldn’t have stood a chance in 2012 either.  I’m really not sure why he bothered, to be honest.  He could be the smartest, wisest, most competent, accomplished candidate we’ve ever had (he’s not, but let’s pretend he is) and he still couldn’t win because his last name is political poison.  He probably would have made a better President than his brother, but we’ll never know.  His plan to win the general election by losing the nomination is enough to tell me he’s living in a dream world.  His son George P. Bush is doing well out in Texas.  Who knows?  By the time GPB is ready, the country may have warmer feelings for the Bush name.

Ben Carson: Another candidate who probably would have been better off running for Mayor of Baltimore, Senator of MD or Governor of MD.  Very smart guy, but not smart enough on the issues right now.  Probably needed another year of boning up.

Marco Rubio:  Probably the only candidate that looks more ready to step into the Oval Office and start rearranging the the World Order than Carly.  Well polished, well spoken, and well-informed.  The Gang of Eight bill is his kryptonite.  He’s now been attached to the GOP “elite” that so provoke the GOP base.  Congressman Paul Ryan is doing Rubio’s candidacy no favors.

Ted Cruz: Clearly someone who knows how to debate.  He’s also probably the smartest candidate of either party.  His problem is that he’s a bit over-polished.  I keep hoping that Trump will finally implode and his supporters will move to Cruz.  Not sure that it’s going to happen, but I think that is Cruz’s calculation as well.


Hillary Clinton

That Hillary Clinton is a viable candidate is a head scratcher.  Almost as much as the fact that Trump is considered a viable candidate.  Hillary’s biggest accomplishment was being born with a pair of ovaries.  Her second biggest accomplishment was marrying Bill Clinton.  Her third biggest accomplishment was staying married to Bill Clinton.  Other than that, I can’t think of a single thing she can hang her hat on.

Her time in the Senate was lackluster.  Her reset with Russia was a bust.  She broke the country of Libya for no apparent reason.  She called Bashar Assad a “reformer” right before he started gassing his citizens.  She can’t seem to tell the truth, even when telling a lie brings her no benefit.  What she did with her email server would have resulted in a layoff for any other government worker at a minimum and a hefty fine coupled with jail time at a maximum.  All of her confidants are bootlickers and slimeballs.  She’s got more baggage than a fleet of 787s.  She’s about as transparent as a 10 inch thick sheet of lead.  She’s been through more “reboots” than the Batman and Spider-Man franchises combined.  Can someone please tell me what quality she possesses that makes one think she’d make even a mediocre president?


The Other Democrat Candidates

Bernie Sanders: If nothing else, he’s got the crazy Marxist vote locked up.  He’d have a better shot running for President of Venezuela — or maybe not, since even they’ve given up his kind of economic policies.  I’m not all that convinced that he even wants to be President as much as he wants to run around to college campuses and spout 1930s Socialist platitudes to a bunch of “Sandernistas”.  He had the perfect opportunity to take Hillary out out of the contest right up until the early part of the first Democrat debate when he took her email server issue off the table.  He might as well have announced the end of his campaign right there.

Martin O’Malley: The answer to a question nobody was asking or ever going to ask.  His candidacy, though already dead in the water, got a torpedo through the hull as soon as the Baltimore riots kicked off and everyone started wondering how Baltimore could have gotten so screwed up.  Hmmm…. who’s a former mayor of Baltimore…?

Jim Webb: He would have been a better fit in the Republican debates.  The GOP and Dems could have traded him and Graham and everyone would have been a winner.


Hillary’s Email Server

There is so much bunk in this story it’s hard to figure out where to begin.

It was set up for “convenience”: How is it more “convenient” to set up a secure “homebrew” email server then just use the email address already provided for you at the State Dept?  And for what?  To have multiple accounts on a single phone?  The IT Dept at the State Dept could have set that up for Hillary in 5 mins if she couldn’t find a teenager to do it for her.

None of the emails sent/received were “marked as classified”: Doesn’t matter.  Anyone in her position should have been competent enough to realize that certain types of information are classified as a matter of course.  Additionally, even many types of unclassified information are supposed to be handled securely. What safeguards did she have on her emails (specifically, encryption) to protect them?

It wasn’t against the rules: Maybe not at first, but the Obama Admin issued a policy statement later that should have caused her to shut everything down.  It’s also a policy she enforced against one her own ambassadors.

Bottom Line:  Hillary’s actions with this email server show blatant disregard for rules and common sense, at a minimum, if not downright corruption.


#BlackLivesMatter

The Guardian started tracking the number of people in the U.S. killed by cops each year.  The website is here if you want to look at the numbers and the people.  As of this post, the number is 1,115.  Which is too high.  The number of unarmed people killed is 213.  Whites accounted for 538 of the 1,115 (48%) and 93 of the 213 (44%).   Where the #BlackLivesMatter can make a case is the fact that African-Americans accounted for 276 of the total (25%) and 70 of the unarmed total (33%).  Considering African-Americans make up about 13% of the population, they are over-represented here by about 2x and 2.5x, respectively.

Indeed, the site shows that the rate of police killings of African-Americans is 6.56 per million and only 2.72 per million for Whites.

So, one can certainly ask why African-Americans are killed by cops at a rate that is 2.4x what it is for Whites.  But one could also likewise ask why Whites are killed by cops at a rate that is 2.7x times the rate for Asian and Pacific Islanders (1.01 per million). One could also ask why men are killed by cops at a rate that is 20x higher than women (1,063 of the 1,115; assuming a 50-50 population split).

So where I think the #BlackLivesMatter missed the boat is that the focus was too much on the racial issue and not enough on the bigger issue of cops using excessive force.  Cops wearing body cameras would take care of a lot of the problems.


The Iran Nuclear Deal

If only I could get a deal on a new car the way Iran got this deal.  I’d get a brand new Corvette for $2,000.

What we’ve seen of this deal thus far:

Iran Ignores the Resolutions Already in Place: One of the Quds Force commanders was supposed to be under a travel ban, yet went to Moscow.  Iran has also test fired a long-range ballistic missile in violation of U.N. Security Council Resolutions.

Iran Doesn’t Think the Agreement is Legally Binding (and the U.S. Agrees):  The agreement was never signed by the Iranian Leadership.  It is not considered a treaty and is not an executive agreement.  It is considered a non-legally binding set of “political commitments”.

The Big Day on the Calendar is Implementation Day: This is the day Iran begins full compliance with this set of “commitments”, the sanctions come off and $100 – $150 billion flow into their bank accounts.

My guess is that Iran will do some minimal action to at least give the appearance of compliance.  Just enough to get the sanctions lifted and the check cut.  They will do this no later than this time next year.  Obama will start chomping at the bit by next Summer make this deal a fait accompli by the time he leaves office.  Iran is dangling the carrot of a big Boeing aircraft deal, so I guarantee that the GOP (aside from Tom Cotton and a few others) aren’t going to stand in the way.  Once Implementation Day hits and the deals are all struck, all bets are off.  There will never be “snapback sanctions”.  This deal is a giant dog and pony show in order to get sanctions lifted.


Paris Climate Deal

About the only “deal” which is a bigger dog and pony show than the Iran Nuclear “deal”.  All the participating countries agreed to keep Global Warming to < 2 deg C by 2100.  Each country gets to voluntarily set a target for emission reduction.  There’s no mechanism for enforcement and no specific date to implement.

I wish I had such an arrangement with my boss: I pick my own work and my own completion dates and no matter what, the boss can’t fire me.

In reality, the only thing that matters is what China plans on doing:

ChinaGHG

 

-The Robot

“Sors michi nunc contraria”

June 7, 2015

Battle of the Logos: Part 1

Filed under: Soapbox — The Robot @ 3:40 pm

Battle of the Logos

 

Here is a battle betweent two famous logos (WARNING: SPOILERS!)

AgeOfUltron
AgeOfHillary
Avengers: Age of Ultron
2016: Age of Hillary
   
Main villain is a soul-less machine, bent on world domination The same
   
Ultron attempts to erase Jarvis program Hillary successfully erases mail server
   
Ultron is protected by a vibranium casing Hillary is protected by a media-proof bubble
   
Ultron ends up wrecking a city in Sokovia in an attempt to destroy humanity Hillary wrecks the country of Libya for no apparent reason
   
Ultron tries to remake himself by building a synthetic body

Hillary tries to remake herself by eating a burrito bowl at Chipotle

   
"There are no strings on me…" "There’s no smoking gun…"
   
Captain America can’t lift Thor’s hammer Hillary can’t tell the truth
   
Tony Stark and Bruce Banner attempt to create an AI that can provide world security Hillary builds a secure, home-brewed, email server
   
Ultron surrounded by a legion of Stark Security Bots Hillary surrounded by a legion of Ready-for-Hillary-bots
   
Ultron pummels Captain America to achieve his goal Hillary pummels the United States of America to acheive her goals
   
Ultron voiced by actor James Spader Hillary voiced by the same voice actress that does Edna Krabapple on the Simpsons
   
The Vision is powered by a cosmic "Infinity Stone" Hillary powered by shady, quasi-charity.
   

 

Next month on Battle of the Logos:

ObamaLogo VS ThulsaLogo

 

 

 

-The Robot

“Sors michi nunc contraria”

January 3, 2015

First Update of 2015 (or a Really Late Update from 2014)

Filed under: Movies / TV / Books,Update — The Robot @ 4:04 pm

The Last Few Months or So…

 

Work: Work was really busy over the last couple of months. I’ve been assigned to several different (but related) tasks. It’s just been fun trying to go to three different staff meetings, review different sets of tech documents, travel out for different program reviews, etc. I managed to get a couple of L.A. trips in. It’s always nice to get out there to visit. Good weather and good fish tacos. I also started to take some work-related classes through my company. The first was on C programming. It was a very in-depth review of the language. In the past, I’ve looked at MIT’s Open Courseware class on C programming. Basically, this two-day course through work was that entire school term at MIT. I’m scheduled to take x86 Assembly class later in January. It looks pretty rough as well.

Unfortunately, my schedule has been so packed that I haven’t had time to visit some folks while I was out there. While I generally like being able to stay busy, it’s been a mess with this term in school. Speaking of which…

 

School: The two classes I took (Computer Security and Distributed Database Management) kept me pretty busy all term. The good news/bad news was that the assignments and tests turned to be well-staggered between the two classes. That is, about every 3 days, I had to turn in an assignment for one class or the other. But I survived both classes intact and only have two more classes left to take. Both will be next next Fall, so I have a couple of terms off to get ready for them. Believe me, it will take the next 8 months to get prepped for these two (Machine Learning and Computer Networks).

 

Working Out: My weight has crawled back up. It’s partly that I’ve put on some additional muscle, but partly the combination of Thanksgiving, Christmas, (and their attendant work potlucks) in addition to some work lunches at places like Chama Gaucha (I love Brazillian Steakhouses!) and Perry’s Steakhouse and Grille.

 

Home: The home front has been good. One of my nephews and his girlfriend moved down to Austin and we got to see them on Thanksgiving and Christmas. We’re looking forward to heading up that direction and spending some time in Austin with them. We’ve only driven through Austin at this point.

Graham-Samantha

As you can see, they have good taste in football teams. We also picked up Cat #2. His name is Jon Snow.

Cat

He’s about 6 months and usually has high energy.

Cat2

But not always.

For Christmas, I got a necktie from another nephew, Jordan.

Necktie

As you can see, good taste runs in the family.

And Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all my family and friends…

MerryChristmas

 

Science:

1) This one would interest Police frontman, Sting. Evidently, NASA discovered a giant magnetic hole in the Sun. Just when we think we understand what’s going on in our own solar system… "There’s a little black spot on the Sun today.."

Sun

2) First, just a quick set up on this story. In 2010, former VP Al Gore predicted the possiblity of ice-free polar caps in 5 years. Yep. No polar ice in 2015. So how did that prediction come out, Al?

Antarctic winter sea ice extent sets new record in 2014

Ice

And in other news, Al Gore also predicted Tampa Bay to win the Super Bowl this year.

 

Movies and TV and books:

1) Movies -Some movies I’ve seen over the last six months or so.

Series
Finale
Grade
Equal

This is not your dad’s Equalizer from the 80’s. It could have easily been called Man on Fire 2. Without giving too much away, Denzel Washington plays a guy who ends up on the wrong side of the Russian Mafia — much to their chagrin.

The final act seemed like something out of Home Alone 6 (in a good way, tho).

Decent action overall. Definitely a rental.

B to B+
Wick

Without giving too much away, Keanu Reeves plays a guy who ends up on the wrong side of the Russian Mafia — much to their chag… wait! what? Yeah, it was essentially the same move as The Equalizer.

Decent action overall. While The Equalizer was grounded a bit more in reality, I probably enjoyed John Wick a tiny bit more.

B to B+

This is probaly the first movie directed by Nolan that I wasn’t all that impressed with. I found out afterward that this was actually a Steven Spielberg project that was picked up by Nolan. It shows as it was more like Super 8 than 2001. Actually, it was a cross between Super 8 and one M. Night Shyamalan’s films.

Part of the problem was that Nolan’s gift (obsession?) with very rich, layered audio completely backfired. It may be the theater I watched it in, but this movie was TOO DANG LOUD. This created very muddy dialog that was difficult to understand.

C+ to B-
Hobbit

Speaking of "not impressed", this is how I feel about the entire Hobbit trilogy. Too much of this series just seemed forced. It had to be in order to turn a 300 page book into 3 movies (The Lord of the Rings is around 1,200 pages).

That being stated, I liked this movie the best out of the 3. The battle lasted almost half the movie, so the action was pretty constant.

Bottom line: This would have been a better series if kept to 2 movies.

B to B+

 

2) TV – The last couple of months have been huge for series finales and season finales. Skip this part unless you don’t mind *** S P O I L E R S ***

Series
Finale
Grade
WalkingDead
This was a good second half to the season. Things are really headed downhill for Rick’s group, and Rick himself looks like he hopped aboard the crazy train.
B+ to A
Homeland

This may have been the best season of Homeland. Each episode seemed to top the one prior to it. The bulk of the story takes place in Pakistan. I guess the Pakistani Government is about as happy with this show as North Korea is with The Interview. I can definitely see why Pakistan would be mad, but

A
Gotham

This was a show that I didn’t think would go anywhere (and it still might). I thought a show drawn from a comic book that features everyone but the main character in the comic book was too gimicky to work for more than a couple of episodes, but this actually turned out to be my favorite of the new TV shows.

In my mind, this show beats out the other "comic book shows" (Arrow, Flash, and Agents of Shield)

A- to A
Blacklist
85% of everything I like about this show has to do with James Spader. He plays such a convincing bad guy. I think they picked the proper voice to do Ultron in the upcoming Avengers movie.
B+
Helix

Premise: The CDC is put in charge of stopping a disease that seems to be turning people into something like zombies. And maybe there are some vampires involved or something.

Pop Quiz: Am I talking about SyFy’s Helix or FX’s The Strain? Well, probably both.

The Strain has better production value and some better actors (I think). But it pushes the "gross out" factor a bit, so I give Helix the slight nod.

B-

 

3) Books – I’m still in the process of reading some real books (now that I don’t have to look over text books), but I’m still making my way through the X-Men line of comic books.

Comics

The X-Men: I’m now in the early 90’s (late 1992 to early 1993). The Uncanny X-Men is around #300 and the team has split into two sub-teams (each with it’s own book) that include members of the Original X-Men (aka the Original X-Factor) mixed in with the New X-Men. X-Factor is now a bunch odds-n-ends mutants associated with the X-Men. The New Mutants is now X-Force. Magneto is now a bad guy again. Wolverine is slowly piecing together the Weapon X program that he came out of. Cable, Bishop and Gambit (probably my second favorite X-Man) have made appearances in the books.

 

Finally…

Here’s the Countdown for today (Days till the Seattle Seahawks start their quest for a repeat):

Countdown

 

-The Robot

“Sors michi nunc contraria”

December 25, 2014

The Real Christmas Story

Filed under: Spiritual — The Robot @ 2:03 pm

It’s different from what you might think…

LightOfTheWorld

At this time of year, you often hear about the "real Christmas story". This is often a contrast between the "Christmas" of Frosty, Rudolph, Santa, chestnuts, mistletoe and a roaring Yule log and the "Christmas" of a manger, shepherds, a star and some wise men. And while the latter has far more to do with the "real Christmas story" than the former, it still misses the mark. For it is only a couple of paragraphs of the "real Christmas Story".

The real Christmas Story is a story with early foreshadowing.

Of a woman’s seed crushing the Serpent’s head
Of a son offered up as a sacrifice on top a mountain
Of a rock being struck and bringing forth water
Of bread coming from Heaven

It’s a story of great humility.

Where the last are made first
Where the greatest are the servants of all
Where the one who had the Earth as His footstool, had no place to lay his head
Where the Lord of Heaven stoops down to wash dirt and sweat from the feet of those who would betray, deny, and abandon Him

It’s a story where the least make a difference.

Where a handful of loaves and some fish feed thousands
Where a widow’s penny is worth more than a rich man’s treasure
Where some spit and dirt heal the eyes of a blind man
Where a handful of fishermen in a backwater Roman province change the World

It’s a story of hope

Where storms are calmed
Where bodies are healed
Where sins are forgiven
Where lives are changed

It’s a story that meets people where they are

At a well in a Samaritan village
At a tomb in Bethany
On the road to Damascus
Hanging on a Roman crucifix

It’s a story of incredible contradictions.

Where the Lion of Judah becomes a sacrificial lamb
Where the Bread of Life goes hungry
Where a crowd shouts ‘Hosanna!’ one day and ‘Crucify him!’ a few days later
Where those who lose their life, find it

It’s a story sung in the psalms of David
It’s a story glimpsed in the prophecies of Isaiah
It’s a story heard in the lament of Job
It’s a story that fulfills the laws of Moses

It’s a story that demons tremble at and angels desire to look into
It’s a story that is a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles
It’s a story that is good news to the poor, freedom to the oppressed, sight for the blind, and the power of God for believers

It’s a story that is a light in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome
It’s a story for which believers were beheaded almost two millennia ago
It’s a story for which believers are being beheaded today

It’s the story of a miraculous birth, a sinless life, a brutal death, and a glorious resurrection
It’s a story whose final chapter shows Hell cast out, Death dying, sorrow erased and all things made new

May all the blessings and promise of the real Christmas Story be with you today

 

-The Robot

“Soli Deo Gloria”

September 14, 2014

Ripped From the Headlines

Filed under: Soapbox — The Robot @ 1:14 pm

Ferguson, MO: Once again, we have another case where an unarmed, young African American man is gunned down — this time, not by a cop-wannabe, but by a real cop. And the shooter in this case was not a "white Hispanic", but a "white White". It might be because of these facts that local tensions seem much hotter than in the Trayvon shooting. It might also be the fact that racial tensions were already running hotter in this St. Louis suburb than they were in Sanford, FL.

And again, we are confronted with a couple of vastly different accounts. In one account, a model teen was minding his own business when a cop stopped him and a buddy and then attacked the teen. He pulled the teen into his cruiser and a scuffle ensued. The teen broke away and ran. The cop fired a shot then the teen surrendered (with arms raised) and then the cop started shooting him.

Ferguson1

In the other account… well, we still don’t know much about the other account. It probably will involve said teen and said cop getting first into a verbal altercation, then a literal altercation involving a scuffle for the officer’s gun. The teen broke away and started to flee, the officer pursued, the teen then turned and started to come at the officer. The officer, fearing for his safety, shot the teen.

Ferguson2

Given the patchwork of info we currently have, I’m not sure I believe much in either story.

First, the whole "model teen" part of the story is battered by the video of the teen stealing some cigars from a local convenience store and roughing up the store clerk in the process. I find it extremely difficult to believe that this "model teen/gentle giant" began a life of crime just 10 minutes before the incident in question. I’m sure his juvenile record will get cracked open and we’ll see what’s in there. Some people would call this character assassination, but a similar effort is already underway with the officer in question. Every aspect of his police record is being sifted with a fine-tooth comb for evidence of racial animus. Sauce for the goose and all that…

Second, I have a hard time believing that an officer, who is by himself, would (for no good reason) try and pull a 6-4, 290 lb man into his cruiser. How do you even attempt that from a seated position?

The last, and most critical point, is that I’m not convinced that the defense will be able to convince a jury that the officer was reasonable to assume his life (or the general public) was in danger when he pulled the trigger. There will be plenty of eyewitness testimony that will be hard to ignore. There are still a lot of questions as to the sequence of events and a lot of second guessing will take place when the officer’s story is finally presented.

A few more points:

• I find it ridiculous that in this day and age, there are cops (driving around solo) without at least a dash cam in the cruiser. A dash cam would not have answered every question here, but it would have given at least a partial picture. At a minimum, I think that a cop that is operating alone, needs a GoPro-type personally mounted camera. This would keep both citizens and officers accountable during interactions. One town in California mandated their use and found that after one year, public complaints against officers plunged 88% and officers’ use of force fell by 60%.

• Much was made about that fact that the racial composition of the police force vs the citizenry of Ferguson. However, the demographics of the city had changed rapidly in the previous years and the racial composition of the police force had notched matched pace. Why? Well one big reason is probably the Police Union. Unions make it somewhat problematic when it comes to hires, fires and transfers. I’m not pointing this out because I’m anti-Union or think the racial makeup of the local police should or should not necessarily match the local population. I just like pointing out these inconsistencies by Liberals who can’t seem to grasp that simultaneous, blind obedience to two different constituencies brings about these conflicts.

• The only thing I’ll say about the riots and looting that occurred following this event is that it was clearly counter-productive. Why are things so much more expensive in neighborhoods like Ferguson? A big part is the daily cost of doing business when people walk into your convenience store and just walk off with merchandise — and I’m not referring to the looting, but to the shoplifting that occurred 10 minutes before the shooting. The looting that happened in the aftermath was, for some of the local businesses, like giving a lethal injection to a patient already dying from cancer. Some victims of the looting will re-open their stores. But some will move to safer locations, and some will never re-open. What is the economic impact of all that? Lost jobs leading to lost tax base leading to broken infrastructure leading to more flight by businesses and anyone with a decent income leading to more lost tax base leading to… well, you get the idea. I know that much of the looting was accomplished by outsiders, but I’m betting that the initial round of looting was done mostly by locals.

FergusonLooting

ISIS: The situation in Iraq and Syria is a complete mess. In Syria, we’re leaning toward helping Gulf State-backed Sunni rebels to overthrow an Iranian-backed government. In Iraq, we’re leaning toward preventing the overthrow of an Iranian-backed government by Gulf State-backed Sunni rebels. If only "incoherence" was a workable foreign policy… Mixed in this mess is Turkey, a member of NATO, that is also vying with Iran for dominance in the region — except when they kind of back them, just as they sometimes back some of the Sunni rebels in Syria. They don’t seem to care for ISIS, but that’s probably because they view them more as additional competition. The Gulf States, that gave tacit support to ISIS early on, are pulling back, because they are probably worried about the group catching on in their countries. This is somewhat similar to their treatment of Muslim Brotherhood elements such as Hamas. That is, they backed these movements in the past, but are reluctant to do so now for fear of a Muslim Brotherhood-type takeover as seen in Egypt. This is why you saw some of the Gulf States actually support Israel in the latest conflict with Hamas, and Iranian-backed Hezbollah (which was a key ally of Hamas during the last fight with Israel) was largely on the sidelines.

So, there are several fault lines growing: Turkey-Gulf States-Iran, Sunni-Shi’a, and Israel-Turkey/Iran. Unfortunately, there are some groups that want nothing to do with the latest bloodshed, but seem to be stuck in the worst of it: Christians, Kurds and Yazidis.

Honestly, my policy would be to set up a "safe-haven" for these groups in Northern Iraq and then let the rest of the region duke it out. ISIS beheads innocent civilians, while Syria’s Assad just gasses them. Why should we expend any national treasure supporting one over the other?. We gave the Iraqi Government the opportunity to strike a deal and keep U.S. in the country longer. They made it clear that they didn’t want us there. Then when everything fell apart, they suddenly starting asking for help. Too late. So, no support to Syrian rebels and no support to the Iraqi Government.

The second part of my policy touches on the relationship of ISIS to Islam. The President claims that ISIS is not Islamic. CAIR goes so far as claim that ISIS is anti-Islamic. That’s fine by me. But given that fact, then my policy would be that if we capture ISIS members on the battlefield, then we don’t treat them as Muslims. No Koran, no prayer rug, no halal meals, and no accounting for religious holidays such as Ramadan. That treatment continues until they show true repentance and publicly denounce violent jihad, the killing of innocents, the treatment of non-Muslims as second class citizens, and the establishment of the Caliphate.

The third part of my policy would be strip the citizenship or residency status of any American that fights for ISIS. That includes these women that left for Syria to provide medical treatment to ISIS soldiers. I figure if the President has the authority to legalize those who are here illegally, then certainly he can make legal citizens into non-citizens, right? And if I was Australia, I’d make sure that this kid’s next grade school was in Aleppo or Al Hasakah instead of Sydney.

ISIS-Kid

Two final points:

• I’m sorry, but whenever I see the acronym ISIS, I think of either

ISIS-badge

or

IsisShow

And given the first picture, I think any military action against ISIS should be called "Operation Odin".

• Why does the US Government have to be the only group on the planet that refers to them as ISIL? Can’t we just have one acronym for the group?

 

Ray Rice: This case surprised me a little. First by the relatively light penalty for domestic violence (2 game suspension). Maybe the light-handed treatment from the NFL was because the New Jersey legal authorities had essentially given Ray Rice probation.

As an aside, the same prosecutor and judge that put Rice in a "Pre-Trial Intervention" program that kept Rice from serving jail time, denied the same consideration to a single mother from Pennsylvania with a concealed carry permit that mistakenly carried her weapon into New Jersey. She could face up to 3 1/2 years in prison for a breaking a law that victimized no one. If you are looking for a "War on Women", there is some evidence right there.

RayRice

Back to Ray Rice… he is now the scapegoat of the whole "Domestic Violence" issue. But I have little pity for a guy that would haul off and smack his girlfriend/fiancee/wife around. And since he’s not a Seahawk, my concern over his football fate is exceedingly small. If I were NFL Commissioner, I probably would have given him a half-season to full season suspension contingent on some kind of mandatory treatment and the threat of a lifetime ban on the second offense.

The other thing that surprised me was the media circus generated by this event. I wonder where all the Women’s groups like NOW were when known wife-beater, and obviously guilty OJ was on trial for murdering his wife. Oh yeah. They were siding with OJ.

As an aside, the only good news to come to Ray Rice in the last week or so is that Vikings RB Adrian Peterson has now been indicted of child abuse. At least there is now someone to take some of the heat, eh Ray?

AP

 

-The Robot

“Sors michi nunc contraria”

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