A Bitter, But Curative Pill

The pending Greece exit (Grexit)from the European Union will shortly (in political terms) be followed by the Poexit (Portugese exit),mthe ((Itexit) Italian exit and the Brexit (British exit).
All for different reasons. The British and the Italians for immigration reasons, and Portugal and Italy for the same economic reasons as Greece.
Italy gets a double whammy, debt and immigration.

Now it is possible that Britain, because it has a huge economy, may be able to get concessions from the EU to stem the immigration flood (they have huge debt, but do not share the Euro currency…one smart thing they did), and if it does Italy may benefit, since it is the primary landing place of immigrants from Africa. Italy has already negotiated an 80,000 refugee relocation north.

The two remaining nations with huge debt problems, after Greece, are Italy and Portugal.

It isn’t going to get better, until it first gets worse.  

No one likes austerity but the Irish swallowed hard, accepted their medicine, and, after six years of austerity, emerged stronger.

It is a bitter pill, but it cures.

Never Borrow Anything Small

Many of my friends do not follow the vagaries of Europe, so permit me to briefly explain the current problems in Europe caused by socialist Greece.
For years, indeed decades, Greece borrowed money from the International Monetary Fund, the European Bank, etc. — and when the bill came due, Greece could not repay the loans.

(Here it gets comical.)

The IMF etc. loaned the Greeks money to make their payments!

FOUR TIMES!

This Fifth time, they are balking.

All Greece needs is about $2 billion — Apple Computer or Google could pay this from their change jar. Literally!

The newly elected socialist president of Greece calls the demands that his country repay the money it has borrowed “Humiliating.” In a delaying tactic (and a CYA), the president has called for a Referendum of his people, to see if the reforms demanded for getting still a fifth bailout should be met. Things like reducing outrageous pensions for no-show jobs, never performed.

On Tuesday, we will see who is the greater fool, the EU or Greece. Meanwhile, Greek citizens are emptying their bank accounts, lest the government seize their accounts to pay the European banks. 

Place your bets!

SCOTUS Didn’t Change Church Law!

Hysteria aside, SCOTUS didn’t change Church marriage.

Churches make the rules of church weddings, and nothing has changed. 

NOTHING!
SCOTUS, the highest part of government LAW, changed GOVERNMENT LAW.

SCOTUS and Marriage

I am all over the place with the Gay Marriage thing — but in summary, so as not to step on the lede, my general opinion is that the Gay Marriage ruling was the right decision done the wrong way, much as was Rowe v Wade.
The ruling reinforced the “all men are created equal” before the law, and insofar as government is concerned, IF government is to be involved in the marriage business, all should be treated equally.

This, of course begs the question “Should government be involved in marriage?” — I have never thought so, and do not think so today. I believe that marriage — which only began in the Early Middle Ages, should be a church issue. Until the inception of formalized church marriage, a girl and boy exchanged vows in private. Since God was “everywhere” He heard their vows.

Getting government involved was the marriage business meant that government set the rules — of government marriage of course, even government cannot touch religious ceremonies, at least not yet!

And, actually even government is still ambivalent about their own “equal protection” rules. Incestuous marriage relations are still not permitted, regardless of “equal protection,” nor are bigamous marriages. (So much for “people should be able to marry whomever they love” argument.)

Today, as a week ago, a church can perform — or not perform — any wedding ceremonies they choose, but as the tacit ban on Blacks by the Mormons proved decades ago, public pressure may prove too strong in the future for churches to ban Gay Marriage as well.

Since many (most?) couple — Gay and Straight — simply live together without the “benefit” of a church or a government wedding, the subject is becoming moot.

Our Very Messy Future

You may have noted my continuous reference to Robotics. ‘This is true, because, while I don’t believe in the Robot Dominance being preached by some really bright people, I DO think that we should plan for social unrest from unemployment.

The United States already has the highest percentage of those who have left the working place in decades, we could see the rolls climb. Drastically. We are going to have to prepare for a vastly different society. I have noted before that both the Greeks and Romans had slaves to perform most work, and they had a system that worked but their societies didn’t have much demand for money. Living simply, they didn’t need much.
We, on the other hand, have a great deal of expectations. Even the underclasses live well in America. (Very well!)

An Aussie has just announced the development of an automated brick layer, called “Hadrian.”. Apparently bricks are big in Australia because they have serious wildfires there, and after a shortage of bricklayers in 2006, he set his mind on solving a 6,000 year-old brick problem. 

The new automated bricklayer can lay 1,000 bricks an hour, Working around the clock, the machine can build a house every two days, rain and shine, without lunch breaks, paternity leave or union rules.

The Perth newspaper from whose on-line site this news comes has some great comments by Aussies, including “Brickies” and Luddites and control computer engineers. They are hilarious!

I hope that some Think Tanks are looking seriously at the transition game. (If you ever played basketball, soccer, or LaX, then your Coach has yelled at you that “You are being killed in the transition game.”

Yes, we will be! It could be really messy!

 

 Another Unused Weapon

You probably don’t know it, but the tip of Point Loma in San Diego is honeycombed with tunnels. They feature huge 16 foot steel and concrete bunkers, and back in the 1960s I worked in one at the very tip of the Point.

That tunnel, called Battery Humphrey, was directly under the Point Loma Lighthouse, and, like all the tunnels, was constructed in WWII to house huge guns to counteract potential Japanese Naval gunfire in case of an invasion.
I worked in Battery Humphrey, in charge of a Top Secret computer database system called the Integrated Flagship Data System, and that Battery was selected for the computer system because, in addition to the 16 foot walls, it was under several hundred feet of dirt — great for attenuating electronic signals.

Wohy do I mention this? Because, as a POLITICO article (Plan B for Iran) reports, the current Plan B for Iran is a huge 15 ton bomb that can penetrate several hundred feet of rock and 30 feet of concrete before exploding. Just to make sure, the bomb can be serially dropped to provide a hole into which the second bomb can make a “hole within a hole”

The object in releasing this information is to get the Iranians to sign onto and adhere to the French-led Nuclear Arms talks, due for signing any day now. The Iranians know that the Obama administration will not actually DROP such ordinance, but they may fear a coming Republican administration.

This is “Spy Vs Spy,” with the Iranians building deeper, and our ordinance destroying deeper.

I suspect that we can develop faster than they can build — the time needed to build and outfit huge facilities being what it is — but unless we give the weapons and delivery systems to the Israelis, pretty much everyone agrees the weapons will not be used — except as a threat.

SCOTUS ruling on “SCOTUSCARE”

The ruling is an indictment of the U.S. education system. 

It proves that even a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court cannot read the English language!

Labor, Strikes and Wages

I have always been interested in the term “Collective Bargaining” because the ultimate threat is always a “Strike.”  It is not collective bargaining that concerns me but a “Strike.”
If a person, say named Guido, comes into your dry cleaning business in New Jersey, and menacingly says, “to stay in business you need to pay me $300 a week, or my organization will have to … Ahhhh…could we say put you out of business?” — you would recognize that as an illegal shakedown. The Mob practiced that up and down the streets of the East Coast for many decades. Many Mob members were jailed, and the practice is now done by just a few Gangs.
Now suppose you are the owner of that same dry cleaning business, and Guido comes into your plant. “How would you like our organization to shut your plant down. It will only cost another $300 a week to stay open!”

This Guido is a Union Organizer, and the people are your employees — the very people who wanted the job so badly that they competed to get the job, and we’re so appreciative…once.

Now I believe in an unalienable right to QUIT! Unhappy employees should peddle their superior skills elsewhere, employers are ALWAYS looking for great employees. 

So quit! It might be a good idea to have the new job before quitting the old, but the U.S. ended its slavery more than a century and a half ago. It is really surprising in this era of instant news, that so many have never heard of the end of slavery!

Let me tell you a story of a Marine Enlisted who took my class on Spreadsheets at the University.

Since everyone has dreams of owning their own company, each class member was assigned to start their own company on a Spreadsheet, the Marine first made a presentation on his new company: “on weekends, I drive for a Limousine company, and we only make minimum wage. I am going to start a Limousine Company in Oceanside with three new stretch limos, an office on the Main Drag for visibility, and pay my drivers WAY above minimum.

Each week, each student had to make a report.

His reports sounded like this: “do you have any idea what a stretch Lincoln costs? Not to mention the insurance on a vehicle like that which is offered for public hire!”

Then: “Do you know that the offices on the Main Drag cost $2.00 a square foot per month? I have to sign a five year lease — for 2,00 square feet, that’s obligating myself for $250,000, whether I make it or not!”

Then: “have you seen Attorney Fees, advertising rates, the cost of furniture, anticipated repair and maintenance, insurance on the office, and E&O insurance, plus Liability on the company?”

Long story short — his final plan was one used, leased Limo, run out of his house, and paying his Marine friends minimum wage.

Reality bites!

Begging Is Not “Negotiating”

In any negotiation, the party who cannot walk away, loses. It makes no difference if is is the Charger’s negotiation with San Diego, the U.S. negotiating with the Iranians over Nukes or the European Union negotiation with Greece.

(About the Chargers…I don’t care although I once was a Charger fan, but I see three problems with the Chargers, indeed the NFL: Subsides, Felonies, and Salaries.)

But the San Diego negotiators are currently in the begging mode.

The U.S. is a true supplicant in the Iranian negotiation that it is embarrassing. The Iranians have been negotiators for 3,000 years, their facilities are too deep for Israel, and the U.S. is toothless, feckless, and out of their league. Iran KNOWS the U.S. Will do NOTHING and Israel can do nothing even with Saudi help.

That leaves Greece. Greece has a Socialist government that feels (like other socialist governments) that any loans they have taken are no longer loans, but gifts — and to hell with the lender!

The Greek position is that they can only repay the due portion of their debt, if the lender will lend them the money to do that.

Strangely enough, the European Union may be about to do just that…for about the fifth time. The Greeks also say that they will not introduce any pension and government employee reforms. That is actually an improvement — in the past they promised to do what they actually would not.

 The Greeks have been such a drag on the EU, it is hard to see the downside for the EU should the EU decide to cut their loses.

I watch with interest, but even that grows dimmer as I am solidly into my octogenarian decade. Every time I want to leave it to the youth I watch Water’s World on Fox and ask myself if I should still be semi involved with my newspaper column, or if it is any longer worthwhile.

Technology is Poaching, not Innovating.

One of the flags that entrepreneurs and corporations look for is success — “hmmm…that little company is really doing well. I think we can do better if we…”The Evernote/One Note niche looks really good to Google…so good that the Evernote CEO says his company needs a new, professional CEO. Others looking at the niche include Dropbox
I am a great fan of Evernote. As a “pile maker” I had stacks all around the house — real estate information and contracts, fully and partially developed columns, requests for money from philosophically agreeable organizations…six of seven piles without organization. 
They are gone. All converted to PDF files that I can catalog through my iPad and it is all instantly synced to my office computer and iPhone.
I love it! My Evernote Scanner grinds away at 30 pages a minute — both sides!
Evernote is not alone. Flipboard, which is my “go-to” media aggregator is being looked at by something called Apple News. Apple News is hiring editors today. 

I love Flipboard! I have catholic taste, loving disparate subjects including Archeology, Paleontology, gardening, technology, politics, law, Space…Flipboard knows what I might want to read.

Here comes Apple…

I don’t know. Perhaps they can do better…or make Flipboard better through competition…

Then there is Apple entering the music industry with both feet — jumping far outside its iTunes, first buying Beats headphone business and their music service and is now going large in music to compete in streaming.

I welcome that competition as well. I happen to use Sirius/XM in the car, and Pandora in the home, both of which are great services. If Apple can be better, or is cheaper, go for it. 

It is apparent that computer technology is morphing into poaching, rather than innovating.