Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

Why the Bailouts are all Useless

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

The perfect storm is brewing and few people can read the signs. Many in Washington wrongly believe the root of the economic problems are in the housing market. I believe that the root of the entire economic meltdown is rooted in greed and no amount of government programs, tax cuts, or funny money from Washington with fix that root cause. A lot of people and businesses are going to have to feel some real pain before this problem goes away.

As the news slowly trickles out of Washington on how the stimulus/bailout/rescue will actually be spent, we are learning more every day that very few politicians expect this bill to create or save a mass of jobs within the next two years. As a government civil service member I can assure you that major infrastructure projects will not translate into jobs very fast. The programs have to be staffed and then the contracts have to written and then the contractors have to develop plans, etc, etc. Most of the benefit of this stimulus will likely begin to be realized in U.S. economy in about three years as admitted by most of Washington. Yes that is very convenient timing for a presidential reelection bid but I think the economic problems could correct themselves in about that amount of time even if congress does absolutely nothing. But by doing nothing they will not be able to claim credit for casting a vote for “something” which they think “is better than nothing”.

The disturbing reality of the state of the U.S. economy came to me in a headline titled Visa Reports Profit Rose 35% with Increased Use of Cards. The NY Times did not explain this news in the same way I perceived that headline at first glance. The first thing I thought was that record job losses plus lower retail spending equals a high likelihood that folks are using their Visa credit cards and “convenience” checks to pay their mortgages, utilities, and car payments. So the “Increased Use” of Visa is probably not good news for our economy if you get down in the weeds of how that credit might be being used. Since the magic carpet (stimulus) from Washington is not expected to land in a neighborhood near you any time soon to create or save jobs this makes for the perfect storm. The more jobs that are lost the more likely we are to see non-traditional expenses put on credit credit cards. Then when the credit limit is reached before the new jobs reach the unemployed credit card owners, well you get the picture I am sure. The exact timing of when this storm will hit hardest is dependent on the amount of credit the average jobless head of household has available after the loss of their job. Once the income stops and the bottom is reached (top of credit card limit) then there will be no ability to get refinanced and you might start seeing homeless rates rise like only a small sample of the U.S. population is old enough to remember from the 1930′s. The notion that fixing the housing market will solve all the problems is a fantasy. A borrower without a job is not going to be able to pay mortgage payments even at 0% interest. No amount of mortgage system overhaul, tax cuts, or infrastructure projects are going to solve the rapidly rising unemployment numbers.

The stimulus programs implemented by President Bush did not prevent this economic meltdown and the stimulus being sold by President Obama and his friends in congress will not fix the economy. What exactly this country will look like once the perfect storm comes ashore is impossible to forecast but you should prepare to witness some extreme damage.

Higher unemployment + increased use of credit = more foreclosures to come

Is The Graditude Campaign using correct sign language?

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

Below are the comments I left over at BigDaddyGib on this subject. I felt it was worth blogging about after finding other bloggers with similar concerns.

“I got an email on this at work last week. It is a great campaign, BUT it has raised some concern in the deaf and speech impaired community.

We use ASL (American Sign Language) in our home. Our three year old son Caden hears fine, but has serious problems with speech that are linked to a genetic defect. Due to my exposure to ASL over the past three years, I was puzzled when I saw the way “Thank You from the bottom of my heart” was signed in this campaign. Come to find out, the creator of the campaign did not do his homework. Due to some questions of those in the ASL community, the creator of the campaign has placed a message on “The Sign” link within his web site.

Don’t get me wrong. I think this campaign is great. I just wish the guy had done his homework BEFORE getting so well publicized.”

It appears that my gut feeling about this gesture seeming odd was right on the money. Some members of the deaf and speech impaired community have been all over Scott Truitt “The Gratitude Campaign” site owner like white on rice. There were some strong criticisms misleading verbiage on his web site that could make people believe that this gesture was linked to ASL (American Sign language). One of the more polite critics of how this gesture was presented is from Raychelle over at Rays of Raychelle. Raychelle has posted some detailed email exchanges with Scott Truitt.

Scott admitted in his responses to Raychelle that not everyone had been as nice on this subject:

“That is very helpful, Raychelle. I have been getting a lot of e-mails on this, and they are negative. I appreciate you telling me about the blog – I’m hoping that I can log on and clarify this a bit. The last thing we want to do is be disrespectful of the Deaf community – and I absolutely understand your concerns.” Source

Raychelle is not the only blogger following this story with concern over the impact it may have on the signing community. You can read more from lolypup, Kokonut Pundit.

The change made to his web site as a result of the concerns go like this:

“Please note that there has been some debate as to whether this sign is a recognized sign from American Sign Language. With the utmost respect to those who know and use ASL, we are currently consulting several authorities on ASL to come to a resolution on that issue. We will update this page with our findings. In the mean time we would suggest that you use this sign only to thank those who serve, and do not assume that who use ASL will recognize this sign.”

The campaign is certainly getting some press from the big fish bloggers and many others. Michelle Malkin, Black Five, WizBang, and Ace of Spades.

Deborah Feldman reported back in September from over at King5.com that Truitt “got the Seattle Seahawks to play it [The Gratitude Campaign video] on their jumbotron before the Seahawks-Bengals game. His hope is for the gesture to become so common, no one even remembers it took a “campaign” to get it started. Do you think it’ll catch on?”

Well Deborah, it looks like it did catch on. Now there are a few big questions:

Will this campaign prove to be damaging to the ASL community?

and

How do you tell difference between a troop returning from war and one that just left high school 12 weeks ago and has just graduated basic training?

and most importantly

Who is going to train the returning troops on what this gesture actually means?

Given the bad press on the war effort by main stream media and some bleeding heart liberal congress members, the troops could easily mistake this gesture as getting flipped off or something equivalent if it does not come with a smile or some other form of positive gesture.

Why don’t people just go up and say “thank you” with the God given communication skills they normally use everyday? It is the least we can do for a person who voluntarily signed their name to a contract with the US government to die for our freedom if necessary.

Wiki Woes Hit Close to Home

Monday, October 15th, 2007

“Any user can change any entry and if enough other users agree with them then it becomes true.”

This is a quote that was pulled from a Comedy Central snippet that appeared in a Fox News story that ran this past Thursday evening. While the quote above did come from a comedy act, it is unfortunately a part of reality on the Internet.

“Anyone can post information as if it were fact…without any editorial review before the information is posted.”

This was a comment offered by a legal expert who was interviewed during the Fox News story. The story talks about how lives and reputations can get ruined by the activities of people who go to Wikipedia with an ax to grind.

I recently found an entry posted to Wikipedia about a very popular book written by a friend of mine. The sales numbers on this one book run in the millions. The book has nearly 1000 customer reviews on Amazon with 50% of the reviews giving the book a 5 out of 5 rating. Yet, there are a select few Internet users vandals (as described in the Fox News story) who have taken it upon themselves to try to sabotage the success of this book and ruin the reputation of the authors. These people have built web sites dedicated to discrediting the authors going as far as to use the author’s name in their site’s domain name. Some bloggers that I have questioned have openly admitted to never having read the book even though they proudly repeat the lies written by these vandals as if it were fact.

So you are wondering what the title of the book is, who are the authors, and who are these Internet vandals? Man I like the term vandal, especially as the term is defined in the Unabridged Dictonary.com entry.

“Vandal – (2) a person who willfully or ignorantly destroys or mars something beautiful or valuable.”

Vandal was the term used in the Fox News story to describe the folks who participate in activities of spreading lies that can damage the lives and reputations of others. As for who I am talking about, well I am not going to give any more details right now. Some of you will be smart enough to figure it out. Some of you reading this may have even participated in creating and editing the Wikipedia entry in question. I have not touched the entry nor have I ever posted a review on Amazon for the book. I felt that my inexperience with Wikipedia in particular was reason enough to leave the editing to the experts for now. As for the Amazon reviews, I have not wanted there to be any potential for anyone to say that the deck is stacked in terms of customer reviews.

Fortunately some seasoned Wikipedia editors have warned these vandals that they must comply with Neutral Point of View (NPOV) rules. The wiki editors have removed much of the opinionated content, but there’s still way too many links to the lies for me to point you to the article. The entry is simply not reliable and contains way more opinion than fact. The current ratio of negative (criticism) links is 3-to-1 over the number of links to official web sites representing the author and the book that the wiki entry was written about. The vandals have not paid very much attention to the wiki editors. The contributions of the vandals have been far from neutral from the start. In fact, according to the editing history, it took nearly five months before a single positive (supporting) link was added to this Wikipedia entry. There were plenty of external links to the critic’s sites, but not a single link to an official web site representing the author or the book.

Why am I being so mysterious? My goal is not to embarrass these vandals like they so enjoy trying to do with my friend. I certainly have the ammunition to embarrass at least one of them if that were my motive. At least one of the (uhm?) anonymous contributors appearing in the edit history of the wiki entry about my friend’s book has made visits to this site and even left comments. On at least one occasion the IP address shown in a comment on one of my blogs matched exactly what appeared in the Wikipedia editing history for this book’s entry on the same night. I do not find this IP address match up to be a coincidence since several of the comments on my blog from this visitor show them coming from the same IP address consistently for over two months. The IP addresses this visitor has been sourcing from for over two years has changed slightly from time to time. This tells me that their ISP is issuing addresses from a DHCP pool the same way many ISPs do business. However, a majority of the edits in the history of the Wikipedia entry I have been referring to came from the same ISP’s address pool that this visitor has been sourcing from for over two years when visiting this blog. This leads me to believe that this visitor of my site has been one of the primary contributors to this one Wikipedia topic. The majority of contributions to this particular Wikipedia entry were made by people who have no interest in publishing facts. Their message is full of slander and lies.  Why am I making a big deal out of this? Because it can happen to anyone. It can happen to you or someone you love.

In closing I want to make it clear that this is not a critique of Wikipedia but a critique of the people who vandalize Wikipedia and the Internet in general. I find Wikipedia to be a great resource on many subjects. Unfortunately there are a few “Internet Vandals” who try to misuse Wikipedia as a place to vent their frustrations over the success of others.

Goose Creek, SC in National News

Monday, August 6th, 2007

This time the story is not about Google’s upcoming move into Goose Creek.  The national news agencies are following a story that began Saturday night during a routine traffic stop.  Two men are being held after an explosive device was found in their car after they were stopped for speeding.

Read the full story on USAToday.com.

Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo interview from down under

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

Rodney Olsen has posted to his blog a copy of a live radio interview he recently did with my friends and fellow low country residents Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo.  Rodney is a radio announcer for Christian based 98.5 Sonshine FM in Perth, Western Australia.  This seventeen minute interview provides a great overview of the Growing Kids God’s Way curriculum.  You can listen to the MP3 copy of the radio interview by visiting Rodney Olsen’s blog The Journey.

Computerworld on Goose Creek

Saturday, April 14th, 2007

A story has been posted on Computerworld.com written by Patrick Thibodeau titled Google building data centers at fast-food franchise speed. The story provides some great details on Google’s data center strategy. A recent announcement by Governor Mark Sanford and Google confirmed rumors about Google’s move into Goose Creek, SC are in fact true. At least one local Charleston newspaper blog got a little pessimistic when a Google data center site was announced in North Carolina before the Goose Creek site was confirmed.

The Computerworld article concludes with some comments taken from a telephone interview on Monday evening with yours truly. Mr. Thibodeau even gave The Land of Ozz and little link love in his story.

Air Force Officers vs Blackwater – Round II

Saturday, March 24th, 2007

Local Charleston, SC USAF officer on the front page of the Air Force Times

Lt. Col. Gary Brown was involved in an incident back in September 2006 where he and a fellow USAF officer pulled weapons on a Blackwater employee Jimmy Bergeron. Today Lt. Col. Brown is waiting to hear if his case will go to a court-martial after an Article 32 hearing has come to a close. The Article 32 hearing seems to have produced more questions than answers regarding this case. The investigating officer reporting on Lt. Col. Brown says:

“I recommend that all the charges and specifications against Lt Col Brown be dismissed. After reviewing all the evidence in this case, I find that Lt Col Brown followed the rules of engagement (ROE) when he confronted Mr. Bergeron on 19 Sep 06. After being rammed by the vehicle that Mr. Bergeron was driving and then having Mr. Bergeron approach his vehicle at the Delta gate, Lt Col Brown stated that he feared for his life and he believed, at the time, that Mr. Bergeron was a threat.

The recommendation for dismissal of charges is no surprise. The alarming information coming out of the Article 32 hearing is related to allegations of evidence tapering, witness bribing and falsifying evidence just to name a few. A video tape offered by the prosecution as actual footage of the events of 19 September 2006 is suspected to be a re-enactment. One primary example of inconsistency in the video is that the first element of the first charge against Lt. Col. Brown states that he did “throw Jimmy Bergeron’s keys away from his vehicle.” Lt. Col. Brown does not dispute this allegation. The evidence shown in the video contradicts this charge is reported to have shown Bergeron departing the scene in his vehicle without ever searching for his keys. Brown’s defense attorney pointed out at least four other discrepancies in the video tape. The investigating officer agreed with the defense concerning the video by saying:

“There is no chain of custody for the videotape. I concur that the videotape provided, that is purported to be from 19 Sep 2006, does not match the sequence of events as they have been described by the witnesses. Therefore, I did not consider it for purposes of this report.”

Bergeron is reported as the victim of the actions by the two Air Force lieutenant colonels but was not presented for in-person testimony and defense cross examination during the Article 32 proceedings. At least one witness who did take the stand during the Article 32 hearing requested an attorney in response to questions concerning document tampering.

The official results of the Article 32 have not been released for Lt. Col. Brown and Lt. Col Hall. They are still waiting on Lt. Gen. Gary North to decide if they will face a court-martial.

Quotes found in this post have been taken from the 25 page report titled Investigating Officer’s Report: Lt. Col. Gary Brown (***WARNING: THIS PDF REPORT CONTAINS OFFENSIVE LANGAGE***). The link to this detailed report was found in an Air Force Times article titled Report: Evidence falsified in Kabul case.

The Air Force Times article brings attention to some very important questions that Lt. Col. Brown’s wife Stacey is asking. She and her husband have spent an estimated $24,000 for a civilian attorney to represent him in this case. Very few military members can scrap together this level of cash for legal defense. A couple the questions that Stacey asks on her web site titled BLACKWATER WRONGLY JEOPARDIZES MILITARY OFFICERS’ CAREERS help shed some light on the fact that her heart is not only concerned with keeping her husband out of jail.

“What if this would have been an E-4 in this situation? Would he/she been able to fork over the $12,000 – $25,000 that it took to hire a civilian attorney to represent our accused?”

Read Air Force Officers vs Blackwater – Round I for more information on this story.

Air Force Officers vs Blackwater

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

Local Charleston Air Force officer charged in Afghanistan.

Two U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonels are facing an Article 32 investigation this week after being charged with assault and conduct unbecoming an officer. The Air Force Reserve officers involved are Lt. Col. Christopher R. Hall and Lt. Col. Gary W. Brown. The charges were filed as a result of reports related to a roadside run in with a Blackwater employee in Afghanistan back in the fall of 2006. The facts of the case are disputed and the two officers are facing charges that could result in a court-martial. A court-martial could lead to their discharge from the Air Force and possibly confinement. The news of this story out of Afghanistan has been overshadowed this week by the suicide bombing during Vice President Cheney’s visit to Afghanistan. Ironically this week’s suicide bombing is a perfect example of what can put military members and contractors into the frame of mind that can lead to a roadside stand off like this one. The charges filed against Hall and Brown are based on reports that say the incident began when the SUV driven by Lt. Col. Brown rammed an SUV driven by a Blackwater employee near the gate of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Lt. Col. Hall’s wife Mary Kathryn Hall and Lt. Col.Brown’s wife Stacey Brown have been very outspoken about this case. There has been little media attention given so far, but the wives are working to get the word out about their husband’s case. Mary Katheryn Hall was quoted by the Air Force Time this week as she told her husband’s point side of the story:

A dark blue SUV with darkened windows attempted to rapidly pass them on the right and squeeze in between the Air Force SUV and a taxi. But there wasn’t enough room, and the dark SUV’s left rear quarter panel struck the Air Force vehicle, both wives said.

The blue SUV then dropped to the rear, sped up and rammed the Air Force vehicle, the wives said.

The officers, concerned the dark SUV was a vehicle bomb or other attack, took evasive action, stomping on the accelerator and weaving through traffic to get away. They were concerned that firing on the other vehicle which was authorized under the rules of engagement for such an attack could trigger any explosive that may have been onboard, Hall said. Source: Air Force Times

In another news reported:

Brown’s civilian attorney, Charles Gittins of Virginia, said that the accusations are backward and that the Blackwater worker rammed the officers’ truck, then got out of his SUV and began acting strangely. In a war zone, the two officers had no choice but to pull their weapons, Gittins said. Source: The News & Observer

The Air Force Times coverage of this story yesterday went on to describe a similar incident that led to the deaths of two American soldiers just weeks before this incident with Brown and Hall.

On Sept. 8, two soldiers from the Army Reserve’s 405th Civil Affairs Battalion, Sgt. 1st Class Merideth L. Howard and Staff Sgt. Robert J. Paul, were killed by a vehicle-borne IED along the same stretch of road.

On a personal note, Lt. Col. Brown is a U.S. Air Force Reserve officer from right here in Summerville, SC. He took a military leave from his job as an airline pilot a few years ago to serve his country as a C-17 pilot. He was deployed to Afghanistan in June of last year. Gary’s wife Stacey is a friend our family and my former co-worker. Gary and Stacey have been very supportive of our family since our son Caden was born even while they faced complications associated with Stacey’s pregnancy that led to the birth of twins.

I sent the following email to Lt. Col. Brown after I learned of his deployment to Afghanistan.

Gary,

You are a man of steel. I had a chance to take a civil service job recently where I would have had to spend a good amount of time in Afghanistan and Iraq. I tried to imagine what it might be like. I am sure that a man’s imagination can come close to realizing the sacrifice that you are making for your family and our country. Thank God we have you and the hundreds of thousands of others who are willing to make the sacrifice to defend our country. Stay strong and know that you and your family are in our prayers. Please do not hesitate to call on us if we can assist you and your family in any way.

Lt. Col. Brown’s wife Stacey sent me an email this week saying, “I think right now what we need most is to pray for a positive outcome…” She has stood up a web site called www.wrongedbyblackwater.com to report on this story as it develops.

Please keep these men and their families in your prayers.

Wake Up Hollywood – We Want More!!!

Monday, October 16th, 2006

The movie industry should take the past two weeks as a wake up call. The call is coming from a solid number of people like myself who would love to see more clean content on the big screen. I am not talking about revved up cartoons chocked full of adult humor either. I am talking about pure entertainment that you can walk out of without feeling violated or wondering if you have just committed a sin by paying for the filth that just filled your eyes and ears for the past 99 minutes.

Let’s take a closer look at this weekend’s wake up call. It was the opening weekend for One Night with the King. I actually got to see this movie and loved it. This movie is a dramatization of a true story. The movie is made after a very popular book titled Esther. A copy of Esther can be found in a very large number of American homes, on the Internet in written and audio form, in most hotel rooms, and in all churches who worship the one and only Almighty God. The book of Esther can be found as a small part of the best selling books in history. The book is titled The Holy Bible, also know as God’s Word. The movie is predictable if you have read the book, but like any good movie this one has been jazzed up a little to make the story more interesting.

The most notable thing that stands out about One Night with the King is that the movie busted into the top ten (9th) this week even though it was shown in only 909 theatres according to Yahoo! Movies. The average exposure for the other nine movies in the top ten this week was 2861 theatres. That means that every other movie in the top ten was viewed in at least three times the number of theatres on average. Not a single one of the other movies in the top ten was shown in less than 2300 theatres as reported by Yahoo!.