Friday, March 20, 2009

Amazing holes!

These holes are not only amazing, but some are really terrifying - especially #5! The sheer scale of these holes reminds you of just how tiny you are.

1. Kimberley Big Hole - South Africa

Apparently the largest ever hand-dug excavation in the world, this 1097 meter deep mine yielded over 3 tons of diamonds before being closed in 1914.

2. Glory Hole - Monticello, CA

A glory hole is used when a dam is at full capacity and water needs to be drained from the reservoir.

This is the 'Glory Hole' at Monticello dam, and it's the largest in the world of this type of spillway, its size enabling it to consume 14,400 cubic feet of water every second.

3. Great Blue Hole , Belize

This incredible geographical phenomenon known as a blue hole is situated 60 miles off the mainland of Belize . There are numerous blue holes around the world, but none as stunning as this one.

4. Sinkhole in Guatemala

These photos are of a sinkhole that occurred early this year in Guatemala . The hole swallowed 2 dozen homes and killed at least 3 people.

5. And the really terrifying one!

This is the famous 'Rat Hole' that you have heard about.
It is capable of swallowing trillions and trillions of U.S. dollars... Annually!

Never to be heard from again.

It is reputed to be full of at least 535 idiots.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Problem with Government....

Okay, the title may be a little too all-encompassing, but I want to deal with one thing. A better title might be "The Problem with Government Owning Anything". No, not quite what I meant. How about this "The Problem with Government Owning Anything that was Previously Part of Private Enterprise". Getting closer. Oh well, the heck with the title.

We are seeing what happens when government takes control of something that was previously part of private enterprise, namely, AIG. The complexities of this huge insurance company has now been politicized to the extent that they cannot continue their business model, however flawed. Sure, they were their own worst enemy in regards to the mortgage business. However, there are huge parts of AIG that have nothing to do with any mortgage-derivative-related activity. Those elements of AIG's business are now suffering because of the taint that has been placed on it by government. If AIG had proceeded into bankruptcy, those profitable elements of its business would have been spared the "second-guessing". They might have been acquired by another, profitable insurance company. They might have spun off on their own. They might have had a chance if government hadn't used such a broad brush to paint the entire business as "failed".

This should be a lesson for everyone. Government cannot and will not deal with the complexities of running a business. Everything is viewed through a "POLITICAL" spectrum. That model completely destroys a business executive's ability to function as a "going concern". A lot of the bonus payment were "retention bonuses". In other words, they were trying to retain their existing talent. Good luck on that going forward.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Respect my privacy!

This really cracks me up: My teenage daughter is horrified by my presence on MySpace, facebook and twitter. Truth be told, I can't handle MySpace. There's too much clutter trying to customize your page to be "cool". Facebook is better, they pretty much do all the configuration for you. All you have to do is update your status every 60 minutes (to keep up with the teenagers) and act like you have something worthwhile to say. Unfortunately, it degenerates into a "diary" entry ("I'm trying to decide what to wear today...") and I just don't get a lot of inspiring insight there.

Twitter, however, seems to be my ticket. I can follow just about whomever I want, based on their interests. The tools that are beginning to surround twitter are right up my alley. I can post a blog entry that allows me to invest a little more thought than "What am I going to wear today?" I can post something that is a "considered" entry and immediately have it update my twitter page. Not only that, I can have my twitter page update my facebook page. I can say what I want to say and, hopefully, provoke a thought or two from my "followers" on twitter.

To me, having a website forum demands a higher calling. You might have an audience of 1 (One, Uno, Eins, etc.), but in my mind, you're still trying to make a difference in people's lives. You might want to impact them in a way that inspires them to be better than what they are. That's my goal.

I'm not satisfied with talking to people at the local sports bar. I'm not satisfied with putting a provocative thought on a MySpace page. I'm not inspired by the status updates I see on facebook. I think I have a point of view that deserves to be "heard" and I need a forum to express that. Twitter seems to do that for me.

I really don't care if my teenage daughter thinks I'm a "loser" and that I'm invading her privacy by reading her facebook updates. She has only to wait for about twenty years before her kids think she's a loser. I just hope I'm around long enough to talk to her about that. I might have some insight!

Mom's computer

I am pleased to announce that my Mom is beginning to feel comfortable with her new laptop. She is 85+ years old and as spry as the day I moved to Texas, almost 14 years ago. We talk on the phone regularly, usually on Sundays. I love her dearly and am very excited that she is finally starting to discover what the Internet has to offer. I signed her computer up on, so I can help troubleshoot from Texas. If we can just get Verizon to send her a decent wireless modem, she should be off to the races. She lives in my hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Go girl!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Generational Dysfunction 2

Writing my first blog entry was an interesting experience. What started out as a type of "diary" entry began to morph as I realized that I was really writing to an audience, however small. You're probably thinking "Duh, what do you think a blog is?" But you see, I am not a trained writer. My background is mainly in accounting. What I usually write is very technical in nature and directed toward a specific audience in accounting. Now I am choosing to delve into something that is quite different in nature. Not only am I committed to improving my writing efforts, I am going to take on an examination of the current political and economic environment. I was going to delete my first blog, but have left it up for perspective.

I really believe something that Rush Limbaugh said: "Most people's historical perspective starts the day they were born." Learning history always seemed like drudgery when I was in school. Learning all those events and dates seemed like an exercise in torture. It's only been since I've gotten older that I've learned that history teaches us a lot that can be applied to today. Taken within the context of what Rush said, my history is certainly gaining in perspective with each passing year. What follows is a little bit of that perspective.

I was looking at 2000 Census data (I know that sounds stupid, but I get drawn to countless things while perusing the Internet) and decided to do some analysis. Approximately 61% of the current voting population was not old enough to vote for Ronald Reagan. 25% were probably not old enough to be aware of his performance in office. 42% were probably not old enough to be aware of Jimmy Carter's performance in office. In other words, an awful lot of voters in last year's election did not really have a historical perspective of life under Ronald Reagan or any other President before him.

Given that I hated learning history, let's assume that the above 42% probably didn't much enjoy learning history either. (To be honest, I'm sure a certain portion of that population did enjoy learning history, but what did they really learn in today's classroom?) The only thing that they truly "know" is what their personal, historical perspective has taught them. Think about our political and economic climate after Reagan. The Cold War ended, and our economy was booming. To extend that historical perspective even more, let's look at some other statistics.

I bought my first house when I was 26 years old. Let's assume that the same life-event holds true for the population we identified above. During the Clinton years, the housing boom took off when the Justice Department placed a certain "emphasis" [sic] on banks participating in the Carter-initiated "Community Reinvestment Act." Of the current voting population, 42% were 26 years old or younger when Clinton took office in 1992 . Basically, they have never known an environment where you were required to put 20% down before you bought a house. That's what I had to do when I bought my first house. Those were the rules we had to live by and, so-be-it, it worked.

Now, consider the economic and political environment at the beginning of last year. A huge chunk of the voting population (33%) was in the age range of first-time home buyers that had never known a mortgage requirement of 20% down. The housing industry had been booming for almost 20 years. 42% of the voting population had no personal awareness of the economic OR political environment prior to Reagan's re-election. The economy had been on an upward trajectory ever since he left office, barring the aftermath of 911. (Unfortunately, his economic policies never did manifest themselves again on the Presidential stage.) The concepts of political conservatism became bogged down in populism and were continuously degraded in every venue imaginable (except talk radio and conservative blogs, but that's another post). What we had was a perfect storm leading into the 2008 elections and one that did not favor conservatism.

The daily derision of conservatism in the mainstream media and their vilification of Bush, McCain-Palin and the Republican Party had a stunning effect. 42% of the voting population had no understanding of an alternative approach to the economic "crisis". Liberal economic policies relating to the mortgage industry were completely embedded in the psyche of all those potential voters. Liberal ideology became the "defacto" choice of a fawning mainstream media. McCain was doomed the second he won the Republican nomination. A huge chunk of the voting population had no historical perspective to evaluate an alternative direction to what they were being force-fed by the mainstream media. And McCain was deemed "stale".

What happened has, well, happened. We now have to look at what caused this mess. I truly believe that because we are not teaching the principles of our Constitution in school, we are destroying the principles on which that Constitution was based. We do not teach American history in a way that allows our youth to truly understand what this country's collective experience has been. We do not allow our youth to extend their historical perspective beyond the date of their birth. There is a reason that we are the most prosperous country in the history of man. There is a reason that the framers of the Constitution incorporated the belief in God in all their deliberations.

We have to demand that our children are educated in history. In addition, we have to take responsibility to educate those that have already passed through our pathetic educational system. Our lives and those of our children are slowly being degraded by an ideology that our country was not founded on. That ideology is know by any number of descriptions: Liberalism, Socialism, Communism, Humanism, Atheism, etc. It must be eliminated from our culture if we are to ever become the country that our Founders dreamed of: one that was committed to "form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity...".

You can learn more about the Constitution here:

It is certainly worth the read.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Generational Dysfunction

I'm often amazed at the huge differences between my life growing up and that of my now 16-year-old son and daughter (not twins, separate mothers). I remember getting up on a summer morning and heading out the door by 10am (I slept longer than my friends, they were waiting for me at 9am). I was 10 years old. My orders were thus: "Be home when the street lights come on". What simple freedom. We played all day, went on expeditions, ate whatever the nearest mom would make us for lunch and didn't stop until the street lights came on.

Fast forward to 2002. My son can play outside as long as his mother or I (I adapted to this strategy after our divorce in 2000) can walk out the front door and see him before getting to the curb. It was only after he was older that he could leave my general sight line. Even then, he had to take a walkie-talkie along in case I got worried. The walkie-talkie would usually get abused in that I would get strange, foreign-sounding messages from he and his friends. I don't think they were tormenting me, just being playful and totally oblivious to the purpose of the walkie-talkie.

We live in a culture of instant news. We have all grown accustomed to the horrors of child abduction in distant communities and have responded by restricting the freedom of our own youngsters. We have nationalized our feers. They are no longer based on those of our immediate community. Our kids are learning that what happens in a New York burrough could just as easily happen at home. We have denied our kids the freedom to enjoy the liberty of living in a "chosen" community, one that we purposely chose because of the schools, safety from crime, ease of getting to friend's houses, etc. Why have we gone to the trouble?

Our kids don't know the true freedom of having liberty. They only know the cautions that we expound to them every time they walk out the door. In other words, they may as well live in a New York burrough for all the freedom that they can enjoy.

We have contributed to a break-down of the sense of community in our children by our own fears. These fears have been bred by the nightly newcasts which sensationalize every single dread that we can dream of. But it gets worse. By hammering our kids with all these worries, which may or may not be well-founded, we have degraded their own sense of community.

It is time to rebuild our communities on a level of trust. We trust that our concerns mirror our neighbors' concerns. Our local banks reinforce that, our local government reinforces that and our schools reinforce that. We go about our lives with a sense of true liberty and freedom. Freedom to not worry about our kids every minute of the waking day when they are out of our sight. Freedom to believe that they will learn everything in school that we were once told was important. And the freedom to create their own lives in their own communities with the very same support system.

We have nationalized our news, we have nationalized our banks, we have nationalized the support structure that every community needs to thrive. It's time to take our communities back and demand local support. It worked when I was 10 years old.