Monday, April 30, 2007

The $2000 light bulb

California is on the verge of mandating the elimination of incandescent light bulbs in favor of compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs).

But the new light bulbs contain mercury, a hazardous substance. Read this story about how one person tried to behave responsibly and the bulb ended up costing over $2000.

When I first read this, I thought "someone is trying to make a point. Why not just clean it up yourself?"

Then I read the line that said "The [cleanup] specialist found mercury levels in the bedroom in excess of six times the state's "safe" level for mercury contamination."

SIX TIMES the safe level? From breaking one bulb?

I think I'll stick with incandescent bulbs. (Yes, I'm still procrastinating)

Monday morning

and I'm procrastinating. I have one final final. It's a take-home (due tomorrow night) and once I start, I have a three hour time limit (I'm on my own honor). I am allowed to study, take notes, etc, then it's heads-down for three hours, writing.

My plan is to take some time this morning for the former and lock down 3 hours for the latter this afternoon (I always like saying former and latter... it makes me feel important).

I could have done some yesterday, but hey, I still have a day and a half. I just don't feel like starting...

Friday, April 27, 2007

Philadelphia Shuts Down Psychics

"City inspectors shut down more than a dozen psychics, astrologers and tarot-card readers after learning about a decades-old state law that bans fortune telling for profit."

See the article here.

Now why didn't they see that coming????

Facts are stupid things

"Facts are stupid things."

I started out to post a blog about misquotes. So using the trusty Quotations Page, I searched for a quote about misquotes. The above sentence was spoken by Ronald Reagan in 1988. Ironically, it was a misquote of John Adams who said "Facts are stubborn things." A misquote of a quote about misquotes. Or a wrong fact about facts. This will be long. Hopefully a few of you will struggle through it.

Recently, Rudy Giuliani supposedly warned of another 9/11 if the Democrats win the White House in 2008. In reality, he did not say that. When reading what he really said, he warned that the Democrats would take the US to a defensive position, the same approach that was taken before 9/11. Even reading the article at, his quotes don't match the headline. While I don't agree with all that Rudy says, and I think he generalizes WAY too much, he's on target with what he says about the approach to the war. (I don't believe all Democrats feel the way he says or that all Republicans do either)

A lot of people have said that Rudy G. politicized the deaths of 2,973 people. I don't see it that way. I read the quotes and think he's politicizing the potential death of 2,973 +/- future people. He's talking about preventing the NEXT 9/11. You may agree with his points and you may disagree with his points. But be sure you talk about his points, not what he supposedly said.

This reminds me of Murphy Brown. In 1992, Dan Quayle gave a speech about families in America. Excerpts are posted here. He was ridiculed by the press, by late night comedians, by other candidates. Trouble was, once they read what he said, they all AGREED with him!!! After all was said and done, I wrote a letter to the editor (no blogs were around then) that asked newspapers to publish speeches in entirety.

With the internet, there's little excuse not to read a candidate's speech before commenting on a headline. Politico did a lousy job of reporting. I don't believe, this is a liberal conspiracy, I don't believe in that any more than I do a right-wing conspiracy. I believe it's a simple attempt to sell newspaper or web hits.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

No more classes


I have two take-home finals to do. One involves finishing a 250 page book (I've got about 1/2 to go) and writing a report on it. Describe the most important 4 issues, why I think they are most important, etc.

The other involves reading a case study (I'm guessing about 30 pages) and writing it up. What issues do the companies face and how would I recommend fixing them.

The last case study I did was on GM. After I wrote my recommendations, GM stock shot up. I'm hoping they will send me a check for consulting fee....

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

How many victims at VT?

Another post about the VT shootings, how many victims were there? Early reports were 33 deaths, including Cho. VT had a memorial service with 33 stones for memorials. But somehow, I can't see Cho as a victim.

Make no mistake, I feel deeply for Cho's family. I can't begin to imagine the pain that they are enduring. They have lost a son, that they probably cared for as much as any of the other families involved. They have the added pain of embarrasment that there brother was involved. I have no hatred towards them or even towards Cho.

I should also point out that I believe Cho was sick. The reports of his mental problems have been clearly documented. But several people at VT and other campuses have mental problems, only Cho decided to act. His choices made him the shooter, not a victim.

Make it known today that if one of my loved ones is involved in an incident like this, or if I am involved, I do not want to have a memorial placed along side the perpetrator's memorial. Do not equate the culprit with the victims. If my son/daughter had been killed at VT, there would only be 32 stones, not 33.

Who taught Cho to hate?

Interesting Blog about Cho (Virginia Tech shooter), his chosen major (English) and a sample of the department's choice of literature. Good reading.

Impeach Cheney

Word is that impeachment articles against Cheney are being prepared by Dennis Kucinich. See the article here.

It seems that the use of impeachment hearings has been over-used in recent years (including hearings against the previous president). It kind of dilutes the value of these....

I'm sure there will be cries that this time it is different, that he really deserves it. There have already been cries that Kucunich is being politcal (in the same article).

Politics at its best.

Monday, April 23, 2007

White Collar Crime

Tonight is my last class in White Collar Crime. No, I'm not learing how to commit one, I'm learing the various aspects of white collar crime and the impact. I probably worked harder in this class than in almost all of my other classes, but not becuase I had to. I learned more in this class than in any others.

The class homework was a series of analytical questions, a 4 page (double spaced) paper was written to answer each question. The goal was to stimulate thinking on each subject. I did a lot of web research, I'm not sure that all of the papers would be classified as 'fair and balanced' nor are they necessarily complete. In 4 pages, you can't do a lot.

Anyone want to do some reading? I'll send the papers on request.

Here are the questions that were asked & answered:

Analytical Question #1: Why does organized crime still flourish? How prominent of a role does organized crime play in the operation of legitimate businesses? Do you believe that the influence of organized crime will increase, decrease, or remain the same over the next decade?

Analytical question #2: Will tighter accounting rules and increased governmental regulation discourage accountants and managers from “cooking the books”? Why or why not?

Analytical question #3: Using the model of white-collar crime presented in class, delineate the major features of either the Enron case or the WorldCom case.

Analytical question #4: Why, in your opinion, do individuals (not their corporations) who commit environmental crimes usually escape severe punishment?

Analytical question #5: Describe a specific criminal case or act of corruption by a person working in the news media or organized religion. How does this case fit the model of white-collar crime and corruption discussed earlier in the course?

Analytical question #6: As a citizen and as a consumer, what scams do your fear the most? Carefully explain your reasoning.

Analytical question #7: Your close friend was recently hired as a department store manager. When she was hired, the store chain’s director of security told her that employee theft of merchandise, fraud, and embezzlement have been major problems. She asks you for your advice. What do you suggest?

Analytical question #8: What factors create a criminogenic industry in government and politics?

Analytical question #9: What makes the health care industry a criminogenic industry?

Analytical question #10: Should white-collar criminals receive sentences that are similar to those imposed on street criminals? Why or why not?

In addition to these papers, I wasasked to design a white-collar crime and submit a 15-page (maximum) paper on it.

Friday, April 20, 2007

A day of mourning

In many areas, today is a day of mourning for the Virginia Tech students and faculty killed in this weeks' massacre. At lunch time today, I plan on finding a place to quietly pray. I want to make it an intentional act, although no one will see it. But I want it intentional so that I go at least somewhat out of my way. Anything less would be disrespectful.

My son looked for something maroon and orange to wear today in memory of those. He settled for dark blue with some orange. His first choice was mostly orange with a little purple, but his concern was this was a competing college. He was worried it would look very out-of-place.

I have quickly tired of the news, but can't ignore the news on the VT victims. I have decided to ignore any news about Cho and am personally boycotting networks and radio programs that choose to focus on that. The right thing to do would be to let us mourn, then slowly revisit the "why's". Cho should be given no airtime.

My heart also goes out the Cho's family. They suffer in this as much as any other family. A news report a few minutes ago said they are under police protection. That's sad, that they need it, but understandable.

My son had an idea, that stores (he mentioned a big box store) should sell VT shirts/hats/etc and donate the profits this week to some VT charity. Has anyone heard of anything like that going on? Anyone heard of any charities set up specifically for this purpose?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Lonely days

Seems I can't get my mind focused on anything lately. The Virginia Tech issue has been on my mind and frankly I just don't want to talk about it. Too many things that are way too wrong and everyone wants to prove their point out of it.

I didn't skip my two classes this week, my plans got changed. My son was involved in an accident on Sunday. No one was hurt, but his car is pretty messed up. It's drivable, but not legally (no tail lights anymore). At 17 nothing is ever his fault. This one wasn't really and he probably couldn't have prevented it, but.... So, for at least a few days, maybe two weeks, he's diminished to bumming rides and not from other teenagers. Insurance promises they will come out this week, but I haven't heard from them yet. We'll see how they do.

Still looking for ideas/opinions on Crime & Punishment. See my post from a couple days ago. I suspect that the Virginia Tech incident has distracted everyone.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Sniper at VTU

Just yesterday, I found out one of my son's friend's brother is going to go to VTU this fall. Now this story breaks out about a sniper there.

Page 2 of the article says this is the worst such incident since a 1966 incident at University of Texas. When I read that, I immediately thought of the Harry Chapin song "The Sniper". It's on a CD that I own, along with rosey songs like "Sunday Morning Sunshine", "Cat's in the Cradle", "Taxi" and "Dreams Go Bye".

"The Sniper" (the song) is very dark. When it comes by on my jukebox, I skip to the next song. Just this morning, I was contemplating deleting so I wouldn't hear it. Very dark.

My heart goes out to the families of those involved at VTU.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Crime and punishment

My assignment for this next (and basically last) paper is the following question: "Should white-collar criminals receive sentences that are similar to those imposed on street criminals? Why or why not?"

I have to write on my own thoughts, but I can be influenced. Suggestions welcome. My initial thought is that there should be three classes of crimes: 1) Non-violent, 2) White-collar (fraud, etc) and 3) Violent.

Questions that come to mind are: What should the punishment be? Should white-collar criminals share cells with violent criminals? What about the DUI offender? What if the DUI resulted in a death?

Should the amount stolen factor in? If so, what about the guy who doesn't personally profit from a white collar crime, but his company does?

What about eco-crimes? I'm no tree hugger, but someone throws chemicals into one of the beautiful lakes around here, I don't want him to go without any punishment.

Also, what is the purpise of the punishment? Is it to rehabilitate? Deterance? Do either work? Or is it just to keep him/her from doing it again?

I have some time, but if my regular readers (and any irregular readers) want to post some ideas, I would appreciate some ideas.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

2 more classes

Business is calling me out of town this coming week and I will miss two classes. It couldn't happen at a better time, this week was going to be slow anyway.

The following week I will have two classes and then I AM FINISHED!!! Well, I still have the final exams to turn in.

So the countdown is this:
Paper due this Tuesday night - Largely finished. I'll talk with my co-author tomorrow night. The hardest thing we have to do is figure out how to cut one page
Paper due 4/23 - 4 pages double spaced - last paper in White Collar Crime class
Final exam due 4/30 - Yet to be defined case study review - I expect MINIMUM of 3 hours effort.
Fianl exam due 5/1 - Short paper, I already have the requirements.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Duke Lacrosse players are innocent?

Seems to me that "innocent" is the wrong word. For those (like me) who have forgotten the timeline, here's an article. The players had a keg party and hired two strippers. One of the strippers accused the players of rape. A year later, the charges get dropped.

Lesson 1: If you go to a keg party with strippers, there's a good chance you're going to get into some kind of trouble. Listen to your mother. "Innocent" doesn't describe anyone at the party. I wonder who was checking IDs at the party? Were all participants 21?

Lesson 2: If you decide to take your clothes off in front of a bunch of young men, you're not innocent either. You should expect that at some time or another, you're going to get into trouble. This doesn't make it ok, and rape is never acceptable, but you shouldn't be surprised. If it occurred, the instigators should be prosecuted, but don't be surprised. Listen to your father.

Lesson 3: If you're on a team with a bunch of people who party like those described in lesson #, you can expect to get into trouble by association, even if you didn't participate. Listen to your parents. The Lacrosse team lost out for the whole season, just because a few of them were not "innocent". Choose your friends wisely.

Lesson 4: If you're in charge of a group and the group does something bad, you can expect to get in trouble even if you aren't with them. Call this the Truman factor. The buck stops there. If you're the guy in charge, expect to lose your job if you can't pass on some degree of morality.

I'm ignoring the prosecuting team, not because they're innocent, but because they will be chastised in other places. But looking at the four groups above, it's hard to find anyone who is innocent.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Disparity of income

From Wikipedia Disparity refers to the regional and economic differences in a country, province, state, or continent.

Ok, Wikipedia isn't the best reference material, but hey it works. Recently, I heard the phrase "disparity of income" and it was being related to CEO's. If you Google "disparity of income ceo" you get tons of hits. One of them indicates that the average CEO makes 431 times what the average worker makes. Some other sites say thuis number is higher. Regardless, it's high. Several of the hits declare that this disparity is undemocratic (another shot at republicans I guess).

But CEO/worker pay isn't the only disparity of income. The same is true in the sports world. A quick google again shows that a 2002 article finds A-rod making 125 times the lowest-paid major league benchwarmer.

It's also true in entertainment. Another google and the article says that the pay range is $75 to $75 Million. That's 1,000,000 to 1 range vs only 431 to 1 range for CEO's.

So, why all this disparity? And is it really undemocratic?

Part of the reason is disposable income. Americans have more of that than at anytime in history. When you last went to see a movie, or a ball game, did you HAVE to do that? No, of course not. But if you're going to spend $8 for a movie or $50 for a ball game, you want to be sure you enjoy it. And you can (and do) vote with your wallet. You won't go see a movie unless it has big names in it. If your team doesn't have a big hitter, you'd just as soon stay home.

Which gets us to CEO's. Stock-holders are just as picky as movie goers and baseball fans. They want the very best CEO that they can get. And they don't hesitate to pay for it.

Undemocratic, seems like we all vote with our wallets....

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

4 more classes

I've never been one to count down. But I'm so close to the end, I can't resist. Four more classes and I will be through.

I promise to post more articles of interest to more people within the next 1-2 days.

I just can't believe. 4 more clases. Of course, I have a 10 page paper, a 4 page paper and two exams, but the end is near....

Friday, April 06, 2007

You gotta love this weather....

.... if not wait a week, it will change.

I started to title this post "Global Warming", but then decided that would just be mean. And today, I'm not in a mean spirit (it's early yet).

Last week, global warming could be seen in upstate SC. Temperatures were in the 80's. Spring had defintely sprung. Flowers were blooming, dogwoods in full bloom, allergies in fuller bloom. It got so hot indoors, we turned on the AC (good bye ozone layer).

This week is a new week. Temperatures last night got down to around 32. Tonight and tomorrow night are supposed to get lower. Almost a 30 degree difference in temps this week vs. last week. I saw reports of snow in Maine I wonder if they had to close schools? (see my earlier posts about our snow and ice).

We turned the heat on. Actually, at one time, the heat was on downstairs, the AC was on upstairs. The AC never actually came on, but it could have. Then we'd been fighting our selves in the foyer, heat at the bottom, rising only to be air conditioned and then fall again. Could have been an interesting sight.

You gotta love this weather.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The British are coming, the British are coming

Word is that the plane carrying the British hostages from Iran has touched down on free soil. I am very thankful that these people are home and a global incident has been avoided.

However, I'm not sure we're going to be thankful in a few months. Iran seems to have come out ahead on this, all the way around. The British sailors and marines apoligized for their "error" and thanked the Iranian government several times.

While I'm a big believer in the theory that it's best to survive another day, the acquiescing in this case seems to have gone a little too far. I'm holding out comments on the individual sailors and marines until more information comes out, but I can't see anything that comes out looking strong against terrorism or against the Iranians.

It's odd that this happened so close to the 25th anniversary of the British/Argentine Falkland event.

There are several things that haven't come out completely (and may never come out). Word was that Boeing was testing a new bunker busting bomb that would penetrate. Called the MOP - Massive Ordnance Penetrator - word was it could penetrate Iran's bunkers and reach their nuclear facilities. Also, apparently, the USS Nimitz repositioned itself closer to Iran as did several British warships. Did these events have effect on the decision to release the hostages? Maybe we'll find out and I'll take back these words, but so far, it doesn't look that way.

For now, I'll steal some of the words I heard on the radio: "Margaret Thatcher was the last real man that England had"

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Bush success vs. al Qaeda breeds long-term worries

Two posts from the news in one day.

According to this article, Bush has been largely successful in hurting al Queda:

"President George W. Bush's administration has crippled al Qaeda's ability to carry out major attacks on U.S. soil but at a political and economic cost that could leave the country more vulnerable in years to come, experts say."

Wait a minute, political costs associated with crippling al Qaeda? That makes no sense. It would seem that he would gain political capital by crippling al Qaeda. (I'll address the economic issue later in this blog).

The most positive statement is "If the question is why al Qaeda hasn't carried out another 9/11 attack, the answer I think is that if they could have, they would have""

So the current policies have crippled al Qaeda to the point that another 9/11 has been avoided.

"The number and lethality of the attacks have fallen off since 2004. Last year, there were five attacks and 28 deaths, according to IntelCenter statistics, which do not include attacks in Iraq, Afghanistan or other war zones."

Again, good news. al Qaeda is definitely impacted.

Now for the bad news: "(al Qaeda's plans are)very simply defined in two phrases: spread out America's forces and bleed the United States to bankruptcy. I'd argue America has been under attack successfully every day since 9/11 from that perspective."

This is the economic issue listed above. Let's see, where has this happened before? USSR in the cold war?

The article continues "If you're looking at it from the cave, or wherever al Qaeda is hiding at the moment, you have to be pretty happy with the way the world is moving."

Again, not a good sign.

So, my comment is this. Over the last 6+1/2 years, America has gotten safer. al Qaeda is weakened. Doing this has cost George Bush politically. It's also cost America economically.

Americans have two choices:
1) Step up to the cost and keep fighting al Qaeda
2) Decide that it's not worth the cost and give up.

In the 2000 election, no one had a clue what would happen on 9/11/01. In the 2008 election, no one has a clue what will happen during the following 4 years that will require decision making in areas we can't conceive. I for one, think that we made the right decision in 2000 and 2004. I hope we have some good choices in 2008.

Baghdad curfew eased after drop in violence

Am I the only one that saw this report? Why do so many people only report the negative?

According to the report "Violence in the capital has declined since the latest U.S.-Iraqi joint security operation began on Feb. 14, though there have been spectacular attacks."

The spectacular attacks are what we've been seeing on the 6o'clock news.

"But bloodshed has increased elsewhere in Iraq after insurgents and militiamen moved operations out of the capital ahead of the security crackdown."

Makes sense. The bad guys heard that the surge was coming. The bad guys decided to make like a tree and leave. Wasn't the initial plan of the surge to secure Baghadad? Now it's time for the next step?

"Since the start of the security operation, the military had enforced a 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. ban. Before that, the curfew had been 11 p.m. to 5 a.m."

In fairness, this is three steps back and now two steps forward. Curfew is not at the same time as before the surge started. But it sounds like Baghdad is more secure.

C'mon guys, at least report the good stuff when it happens.

and at other places.

Reported by Saint Louis Today. and at other places.

Monday, April 02, 2007

IBM Gives Feds $45M in Translation Tech

OK, I admit I'm prejudiced, but this is just too cool.

To Honor an Employee's Wounded Son, IBM Offers Military $45 Million in Translation Technology

See for details.

I hope the Pentagon figures out how to keep the stuff.

Most impressive, the gift comes from the very top. President of IBM Sam Palmissano called and wrote to President Bush.

From all reports, there were no strings attached. We know you've been looking at this stuff. We want to honor one of our employee's sons, who happens to be a soldier and was injured. Here, here's $45million in stuff. Take it.

Make me very proud.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

I'm not a crook!

When ever I think of that line, I think of a man with with heavy jowls, shaking his head side to side so that they flap, wearing a dark suit, with hands raised in peace signs, "I'm not a crook".

Picaso had phases, I'm in my criminal investigation phrase. My homework assignment this week was to report on what factors create a criminogenic industry in government and politics. It's only four pages (double spaced) and you only have a week to do it, so it's a little light on details. But it reviews some of the reasons that politics seems to invite crimes.

I confess, I take a couple of swipes at the most recent former president, but I talk about both republicans and democrats involved in these "events". And I include a reference to quote above. I don't feel like the paper is biased towards either party, but I'm sure I'll have people who disagree. No matter, every one who disagrees with me has a right to be wrong.

Paper available to anyone who wants to read it. Email me or respond here. When I'm famous, you can say you knew me when....