The Bums of San Francisco!

The Bums of San Francisco

I’ve visited San Francisco regularly for decades and I know that the City by the Bay takes great pride in their bums. Their rights to stink, urinate on sidewalks, harass and panhandle are protected by law, and the city goes to great lengths to feature them for the tourists.

I was recently at a large computer conference, and despite their best efforts, there was a distinct shortage of bums in San Francisco.

The streets of San Francisco are covered with streams of urine and you can see the piss-trail where bums piss in the doorways and it dribbles across the sidewalk and into the curb, quite charming . . .

Our dog (Noel) was anazed that in San Francisco, people mark their territory too, and she went nuts checking her pee-mail from the bums:

One of my favorite blogs is Lewis Cunningham, and I loved his remark that “Boutique” is French for “Piece of crap”! Lewis Cunningham obviously does not understand the inherent “French” appeal of the San Francisco bums, who try so hard to be loveable and endearing to tourists:

“I was accosted a couple of times but managed to run away screaming like a girl. Err, I mean I gave them all of my lunch money. Err, I mean I stared them down. ;-)Actually there was one large crazy guy. I’m not sure if he really was crazy or was just acting like it but I gave him my last fifty cents.

Since I gave away my last fifty cents I was not able to buy any crack from the dealers that offered along the way nor was I able to contribute to the scholarship funds of some nice women that I met along the way.”

Ah, what a colorful town . . .

B. O. Plenty

Oh, and these bums Stink to high-heaven, forgoing bathing until they smell like French cheese. Janet and I were at a sidewalk café when B.O. Plenty comes-up and interrupts us, basically offering to go-away in-return for a handout.

Bum Psychology

I remembered Harvard Psychologist Roger Brown’s amazing book “Social Psychology” and his research that showed how panhandlers maximize their revenue with “props”:

– Fake wheelchairs – People feel sorry for cripples, and I saw load of bums rolling-out their wheelchairs, unfolding them and sitting down for a day of begging.

– Urgency – Bums have fake handkerchiefs with a blood-like substance and they hit-up their marks, saying that they were attacked and need $20 to get to the hospital.

– Cute animals – Many bums have puppies and kittens, a surefire way to gain sympathy.

They often offer to “work” for money, but when I tried to offer one a job, he snubbed me!

The bum came up and asked for a “nickel”. I want something in-return for my cash, and I said that I would give him five dollars if he would entertain me by barking like a dog. He refused my offer!

Pooper-Scoopers for Hobo’s

I was walking through the tenderloin and I saw a bum drop-trou, squat and take a steaming dump on someone’s entryway. Gee, if San Francisco loves their bums so much, you would think that they would give the dogs pooper-scoopers for the bums.

San Francisco – City of Tolerance

As a smoker, I don’t understand why people call Californians tolerant. Sure, the bums can smoke pot, pee freely and stink to high heaven, but smokers are relegated to the “leper colony” on the sidewalks.

(one of my favorite technical bloggers, Peter K, says he saw me in exile, but he didn’t even stop to say “Hi”).

Exiled to the streets, I can to appreciate my talented hobo friends. Sometimes, they do celebrity impersonations, like this fellow:

Of course, not everyone is sophisticated enough to appreciate the appeal of the San Fransisco street bums.

Indian racism on television shows

America pays lip-service to equality, but in the privacy of the voting booths, most Americans remain racist, and I’m sure that I’ll not live to see a minority President. More disturbing, it’s unlikely that the candidate would survive either!

This under representation of minorities is especially true in the area of Information Technology. Read my report on the empirical evidence of racism in the high-tech Information Technology industry.

Indian Racism on television

In my Review of the Historical Accuracy of Thirteen Moons , I note that Thirteen Moons (the best book of the decade, IMHO) delves into great detail on the laws of races in the 1800’s, and I was surprised to discover, that, had I been born 150 years earlier, I would be legally prohibited from marrying any white woman (and I’m only a small-part Cherokee).

People with Cherokee blood tend to have dense mops of thick hair, as that’s not lost on the bigots. I wonder how other Cherokee people felt when they saw this offensive South Park racist video “Cherokee Hair Tampons”, featuring Cheech and Chong:

Racist Cherokee Hair Tampon Video Clip

Thirteen Moons reminded me of my family’s personal brushes with institutional racism and our efforts to “hide” both our religion and diverse bloodlines. Frazier notes in “Thirteen Moons” that North Carolina State law forbade anyone with even the tiniest drop of Indian blood from marrying a white woman.

These Miscegenation laws were in-force in my own father’s lifetime, strict laws which spelled out stiff prison terms, and were Indian-specific. Interestingly, the North Carolina law says suggests that Indians were held in much lower status than slaves, as one-eight Negro blood is OK, but the tinest drop of Indian Blood is illegal:

“Prohibits marriage between whites and anyone having 1/8th or more Negro or American Indian blood”

“All marriages between an Indian and a Negro or between an Indian and a person of Negro descent to the third generation inclusive shall be utterly void. Provided, this act shall only apply to the Croatan Indians.”

As further evidence, this NC statute suggests that Indians were held in such low esteem as to be considered inferior to Blacks:

“A later statute, mentioned in this article (see Note 78, page 446), provides that intermarriage between a Cherokee Indian of Robeson County and a Negro or person of Negro descent to the third generation is prohibited (North Carolina General Statutes section 51-3 (1960)).”

But in this age of “free speech”, hate runs rampant and folks are free to mock people of all races. Be sure to check-out these offensive Indian t-shirts on the web:

Indian Racism in the US Armed Forces

My own father was forced to hide his religion and Indian heritage. Recall the popular sayings of the day:

“the Jews to Jerusalem, the Ni**ers to Africa, and the Catholics to Hell”

and my personal fav:

“The only good Indian is a Dead Indian”.

Back in the 1930’s, one single drop of Indian blood was all it took to be relegated into the segregated Army Air Corp:

Indian Racism in the 21st Century

While I’m only a tiny fraction Indian, many Indian features persist (Indian teeth, high cheekbones, my “healthy tan” and gobs of bushy hair), and sadly, I believed that people with Indian blood were no longer mocked, and I made no secret of my mongrel heritage, and at one time we were even are proud of our classification as a minority-owned corporation.

Now, racism is a very difficult charge to prove, but I’m convinced that I’ve had my own personal brushes with racism, especially when one of the world’s largest companies published that I looked like an “Oompah Loompah”. Now that you mention it, Oompha Loompa’s do have Native American features. Judge for yourself:

Sadly, this company did not find the mocking of my appearance to be at-all offensive, and the only way to have the racist comment removed from their web site was to “come-out” and admit my heritage. To this day, this corporation hosts web pages with defamatory information about me, and hosts hyperlinks to horrible lies about my wife.

Unfortunately, institutional racism is almost impossible to prove, and I’m sure that their web page mocking my Indian features and the subsequent defamation and abuse was purely coincidental. After all, it could be that I got this abuse because I’m just a dumb Indian . . . .

I’ve learned that even in the alleged age of racial enlightenment, exposing my Indian heritage was not a good idea.

South Park in the News Again

South Park made the national news again yesterday, as viewers were upset abut the appearance of the dead Steve Irwin, the stingray still protruding from his chest:

How outrageous. I tivo’ed the episode, and sure enough, Irwin appears at a Halloween party hosted by Satan at the W hotel in Los Angles. However, it should be noted that Satan himself chastises Irwin, thinking that he is in costume, stating “It’s too soon”

My oh my, how offensive. I’ll have to check all upcoming episodes to report on this horrible and tasteless TV cartoon ; ).

Thirteen Moons book review

The Next Major Movie Blockbuster – Thirteen Moons

I just completed Thirteen Moons, and I found myself taking over 14 hours to enjoy it (and I’m a VERY FAST reader, an Evelyn Wood graduate). I found myself compelled to re-read paragraphs, savoring every word of Fraziers masterful prose:

“We all reach a point where we would like to draw a line across time and declare everything on the far side null. Shed our past life like a pair of muddy trousers”.

“It was nothing more than paper . . . handshakes and promises, moon beams and horse shit, trust and risk, all layered one atop the other in thin strata like cards in a deck”.

And Fraziers humor can be laugh-out-loud funny:

On Yankees: “They’re bred to do it and don’t know any better. I wouldn’t walk across the street to piss such a man if he were lit on fire”.

“As a further sign of the contempt the local animal world held for me . . . a raccoon chose the second step to the porch as his nighttime place to take a big black oily shit, punctuated with various seeds and berries.”

So, I’m going to go out on a limb here and declare Thirteen Moons to be one of the best novels thus far in the 21st century.

And I’m choosy. Click here for my thoughts about the criteria to become one of the best books of the century.

Thirteen Moons is full of rich details, and Charles Frazier goes into great detail describing how to kill and eat the native critters of North Carolina, replete with recipies and the proper way to eat a roasted squirrel:

Thirteen Moons hits many of my literary hot buttons, a compelling read:

– It’s got amazing scenic descriptions reminiscent of Zane Grey’s “Riders of the Purple Sage”

– It has hilarious celebrity encounters reminscent of “Forrest Gump”

– The main character (Will Cooper) has all the sympathetic flaws of Gus from “Lonesome Dove”

– The plot has an eerie similarity with the first part of “Dancing with Wolves”.

I especially loved the descriptions of Andrew Jackson as an ignorant dumbass, with his crazy hair and possum-like teeth:

It’s also moving at a personal level, painting a moving and accurate picture or racism, and as a proud mongrel with Indian blood, I found it deeply personal.

My family’s personal experience with racism

Cold Mountain & Golden Delicious Apples

Fans of Charles Frazier know all about the Golden Delicious Apples mistake (Golden Delicious apples did not exist in the Civil War). When I hit the Golden Delicious part of Cold Mountain, I set it aside in disgust for almost a week. The problem is that you get so sucked-in to the reality of 19th century life that hitting a mistake is like a turd in the punchbowl:

Another minor annoyance was Frazier’s use of “etcetera”, indicating that he knew that “etc.” was not used in the 1800’s. I’m left confused about why he did not use the “ampersand c” notation, common in many of the periodical he mentions, &c, &c. In Thirteen Moons, Frazier mention bear grease numerous time, yet I was disappointed that he never once mentions the most common uses for Bear Grease.

Here are my notes on the virtues of Bear Grease

Thirteen Moons and Poontang

Throughout Thirteen Moons, Frazier takes-on the incredible challenge of describing the diction of the common spoken English of the early frontiersman, an almost impossible task given that real-world cursing was never recorded on paper. We know that Stephen Crane heard the cussing from the veterans of Petersburg, for in his classic “The Red Badge of Courage”, Crane refers to cussing euphemistically, as “swearing a cross oath”:

“He never drunk a drop of licker in his life, and seldom swore a cross oath”.

When Frazier interjects the word “Poontang” into the text, I was immediately suspicious. I first heard about “Poontang” from southern blacks, and I really doubt that it was in-use when Frazier’s characters were alive. A review of the Etymology of Poontang reveals that it’s possible that Will may have know the word, but this page says that Poontang was first used in-writing in 1929:

“Several sources claim that it (Poontang) first appeared somewhere in the 1910s or 1920s (Chapman, 1995; Ayto and Simpson, 1992).”

I was also taken-aback with Frazier’s use of the F work (Claire: ”I didn’t f**k him”), and because Frazier is known for his accuracy, curiosity compelled me to investigate further. Professor Steven Cerutti’s master work “The Words of the Day” notes the following on the origins and usage of the “F” word:

The Real Origin of the F Word

Thirteen Moons – The Movie

Even though it won’t be released until 2008, let me get the ball rolling. By definition, this amazing book will not make a worthy movie, it’s impossible. There are no clear-cut villains (Featherstone) and the subtleties that make this book great will never translate well into film. However, I have no doubt that “Thirteen Moons” will be a blockbuster movie nonetheless, for these reasons:

A man in another age – The initial scene of Ancient William, a living relic of the American frontier, living in the land of telephones and movies is very compelling. In the movie, they should start out with Will being paraded-out in a 1910 newsreel talkie, like they did with Ole Thomas Edison. Will is a living link to an ancient past, a man who knew Revolutionary War soldiers. It’s akin to the superb Kubrick masterpiece AI, where Stanly Kubrick interjects a sense of awe when the child robot is revived after thousands of years “here is a robot that actually knew living human beings”.

The smart triumph over the stupid – The conflict between the wise outnumbered Indians and their dumbass Yanke
e masters, makes for a great story.

Profound insights – I loved the section where Will noted that babies (and housecats) would kill us without a thought if given a chance. Better still, his descriptions of the old ways and social mores of the 19th century ring-true with amazing clarity.

Humor – “As a further sign of the contempt the local animal world held for me . . . a raccoon chose the second step to the porch as his nighttime place to take a big black oily shit, punctuated with various seeds and berries.” Also, the last page of Thirteen Moons will translate into an impressive movie scene, an unforgettable and heartwarming image that summarized the whole boo in one masterful stroke of Frazier’s pen.

Racism – Thirteen Moons delves into great details on the laws of races, and I was surprised to discover, that, had I been born 150 years earlier, I would be legally prohibited from marrying a white woman (and I’m only a small-part Cherokee).

Nonetheless, despite my doubts on tiny historical issues, Thirteen Moons is an engrossing read for the worthy scholar.

Click here for my full Review of the Historical Accuracy of Thirteen Moons

Using Bear Grease

In my Review of the Historical Accuracy of Thirteen Moons Charles Frazier mention bear grease numerous time, yet I was disappointed that he never once mentions the most common uses for Bear Grease, namely as a hair pomade and as a tool to forecast the weather.

For those not familiar with Bear Grease, it has a most curious viscosity. At room temperature, bear grease is as thick as sticky as pine tar, yet at body temperature it becomes liquid. Bear grease makes for a marvelous hair dressing, as I discovered in childhood when I had to hide my long hair for a conservative social function where my long 1960’s mop would be an embarrassment to my parents.

Ironing bear grease into your hair

Bear grease is not easily applied. You have to dab it into your hair in sticky gobs and apply a hot iron to make it melt, whence it can stick-down long hair with a shiny gleam, very much the style of the roaring twenties and the 1950’s “greasers” DA’s hair styles (DA was short for Ducks Ass):

But Frazier forgets to note that almost every colonial American has a jar of bear grease as a weather forecasting tool. Bear grease is sensitive to changes in barometric pressure, and bear grease is quite reliable, provided that you know how to read it.

“He commented that it appeared to be like living cells responding to chemical and pressure changes in the atmosphere. In 1963, when Dr. Dolph Hatfield, who was a genetic scientist with the National Cancer Institute in Washington, D.C., became interested in using the bear grease for culture studies, he visited Gordon and received several of the jars as a gift. Gordon pointed out the various patterns to him, and the two kept in touch, comparing notes on their patterns. They discovered the patterns were similar, even at such a great distance apart. The bear grease was later tested at the Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland, where they were unable to find any specific biological reason for the patterns.”

Today, Dr. Gordon Winsatt revives the lost art of reading bear grease to forecast the weather:

Breeding Dangerous Stallions!

The Dynamics of breeding dangerous stallions

We are busy this time of the year at the ranch with out bredding stallions. We have lots of breeding chores to get ready for next year and we are currently standing three stallions at stud, with big stallions and tiny stallions:

This is Dude, a nice stallion, but dangerous when horny:

Collecting semen from Arabian Stallions is dangerous

Dangerous stallions are a constant problem. Even the mini stallions can be a handful, as Andy discovered on day when Smokey dragged him across the pasture in pursuit of a mare!

When breeding, the excited stallion will walk on his hind legs as he approaches his lover (usually a dummy mare), rearing-up and out-of-control.

This is cool wire art, eh . . .

If you don’t think that stallions are dangerous, imagine a half-ton of horny stallion, snaking and biting their heads while their front hooves are striking-out in all directions. Monty Roberts (from his bestselling book “The man who listens to horses“), said that he carried a whip and a pistol when breeding his stallions, and horse breeders agree that an aroused stallion can be very unpredictable and dangerous.

The “Teaser” Slut

We start by picking a mare that is “in season” and giving-off a musky pheromone that dives the boys wild. In-season mares are total sluts. When they see a stallion, any stallion, they “wink”, a sure sign that the mare is ready to breed:

1 – She runs over and slams her rump in his face and “winks”. “Winking” is just like an eye wink, but with her naughty bits.

2- The stallion will respond with a very distinct grunting. (It sounds like “hey” “huh” “huh” “hey” “huh” “huh” ).

3 – Next, the Mare gets really excited and urinates in his face, (I kid you not), causing the stallion to do the Flehmen response, relishing the breeding scent in the mare urine:

4 – The foreplay is now over, and he climbs-on for a quick ride. (I mean real quick, like 30 seconds. Horses have evolved to breed and give birth very fast)

Collecting a dangerous Stallion

Stallions are very dangerous when horny and over the years we have learned a few tricks to keep a hot and horny stallion without getting injured. Like many studs, we have two stall doors. One is the daily doors when they go out to exercise and work, and the other is the “breeding door“, a door he only uses when it’s time to get horny. When they go through the breeding door they are already in a frenzy, often standing 12 feet high and walking out on two legs, the front legs striking-out at anything that gets between them and their mare.

Here is an example of a dummy mare, a large clumsy contraction used for safe semen collection:

Every year people are killed when breeding horses and using “natural cover” is also very dangerous. You start by hobbling the mare (tying her back ankles to make kicking impossible). Even so, it takes three people a stallion handler, someone to hold the front-end of the mare, and a third person to “assist” if the stalling has “line-up” issues. The hobbles must be perfect. Vaalor’s father, the legendary Excelsjor, was killed when he was kicked by an improperly-hobbled mare.

Helping Hands

Dude is exceptionally gentle for a stud stallion and Janet has developed a new collection techniques that does not involve teaser mares, huge dummy mares and the gross mess.

This is a super-safe collection method. (Janet is an incredibly talented horse trainer, and I’m not just saying that because I’m married to her.) She “manually” collects the stallion (into an artificial vagina, called an “AV”), all while keeping the stallion down on all four feet.

This makes horse semen collection far safer to both the stallion and the handler, but to an outsider, it must look bizarre and pornographic.

Our top stallion is “Tha Dude”, and all the girls are in love with him. When he goes out for training, all the girls line-up along the fence and gaze lustfully at him. When we took him away for his first show, the mares got so upset that they followed the trailer to the road, and stood there crying and calling.

I once saw Twinkie (a spayed dwarf mare) back-up to Dude! Dude is about 30 times larger than tiny Twinkie, but she still backed-up to him (across a fence) and drive him wild with “do me” nickering overtures!

Dangerous Stallion loose!

Last night one of our grooms left the hitch open on Dudes stall door. Well, Dude waited patently until we went to bed and walked out into a hallway full of mares! Interestingly, out of all of the mares, he chose the “teenager” fillies (Abby & Rye, 3 years-old). With a double-barreled kick from his powerful back legs, he obliterated the stall door, and has a three-way menage-a-twat with the fillies.

Now, Abby and Rye treat Dude like a rock star, constantly fawning and flirting with him, so the orgy last night must have been a their dream. When we got to the barn, Dude was sweating and shined like black onyx, but he was totally drained.

Punishment from the Herd

The fillies, having had relations with Dude, were deeply in-love.

Ever hear the old joke “What’s the difference between a blonde and a washing machine?” (you can dump a load in the washer and it won’t follow you around for weeks) Well, it was kinda like that . . .

When they went out to pasture, that called-and called to Dude, forlorn lovers separated from their man. Now, that’s not acceptable behavior, and their cousin Vinnie got really angry and culled them from the herd until they started acting like respectable young ladies.

However, the damage was done, and Dude has now had the “live sex experience”, which makes for a dangerous stallion. The International Arabian Horse Association (IAHA) recognizes that all stallions can be dangerous and has passed a rule that you must be over 18 years-old to ride a stallion in a horse show.

Here is Dude’s magazine ad for 2007, and here are Dude’s breeding details.

Dangerous Stallions can be small too

Miniature horse stallions, even though they are small, can still be very dangerous.

In an earlier blog post Smokey gets his Girls, Smokey broke a metal chain to get his sweeties. Here is a pic of Janet chasing him!

And, of course, his foal “Lucky Seven”, who arrived exactly 11 months later:

We had enough of Smokey’s romances (he has done this three times now), so we got the vet to have him nipped and fed his gonads to our Rottweiler.

Problem solved. I wonder if this technique works with people, too?

Narcissists and computer scientists

Because I work with computer professionals, I’m exposed to all sorts of personality disorders, a regular DSM-V of weird behavior, but neurotic narcissism is right up there at the top of the heap.

Now, I only have a BA degree in psychology but I’ve developed a good nose for personality accessment, a critical skill for any consultant.

You are special

Last week Janet got an invitation to a computer conference, noting that she is a “well-known Oracle expert“! Now, while Janet does have a bachelors degree in Computer Science and 15 years experience, that hardly qualifies her as a well-known expert . . .

This flattering invitation appears to be targeted to narcissistic database professionals, and I suppose that there are people who are delusional enough to believe these flippant kudos and make plans to attend!

You are special, and so is your money

In my blog note “Are you a Man of the Year?”, I noted that there are thousands of narcissists with low self-esteem who will purchase accolades to make them feel better about themselves. One hallmark of a computer narcissist is that they are extremely gullible about self praise and very susceptible to nominations for any sort of praise. Here’s one for the “Eagle award” that I just dreamed up. If you want one, send me the cash, and I’ll get it right out to you:

Becoming a legend

The old saying “He is a legend in his own mind” describes folks with narcissistic personality disorder, and it’s distressing that I work in computer science and information technology industries where geeks and misfits can become zillionaires, despite crippling neurotic problems that would make them unfit for almost any other profession:

The Office Narcissist

For a real treat in office narcissism, I love the NBC TV show “The Office“, where the manager has a fancy certificate on his wall declaring “Michael Scott is the proud owner of a Seyko Timepiece” and the other twit Dwight Schrute, who relishes his made-up job title of “Assistant to the Manager“!

Narcissists love plaques and awards, and they sometimes make-up their own, usually involving their own name:

The self-absorbed blogger

The latest craze of blogging has great appeal to narcissistic people, and it’s hilarious to watch narcissists build monuments to their greatness on the web. This psychologist has defined a special “Flamer Personality Disorder” or FPD, noting that “ex” members of forums and newsgroups have this disorder. Also, my acquaintance Mike Reed, has some great insights in his superb “Flame Warrior” cartoons. This is how Mike pictures bloggers, in this case, a highly-respected Oracle blogger:

In Canada (a foreign country north of the USA), they even give-out impressive awards to bloggers:

What a great idea! Here I a motivational poster that I developed for just for bloggers. My guess is that they won’t “get” the irony:

The computer narcissist is also identified as a “serial bully” and they are quickly spotted by their habit of insulting others, often with self-aggrandizing statements like “You obviously don’t have the intellect to understand me”, or publishing treatises with grandiose titles like “People who are dumb and unaware of it”, and similar double-edged taunts, often calculated to build-up their poor self-image while putting-down others.

My list of Narcissistic personality characteristics

When I see anyone with low self-esteem covered-up by a grandiose presentation, I always suspect a narcissistic personality. These are the characteristics that I look out for:

Rigid, inflexible thinking – Anyone with a different approach is seen as personally attacking the narcissist. Rules rule, and some narcissists get inappropriately angry when they see little things, like grammar errors. They also overreact to the mildest criticism.

Cannot be wrong – The narcissist is never, ever wrong, and cannot accept responsibility for making a mistake, usually diverting the blame to others – (“It’s not my fault. I lost that promotion because my team let me down”).

Arrogant, boastful and pretentious – These are people with stupid/fake certificates and awards on their walls, the kind of people who exaggerate their accomplishments or use inflated job titles like “Engineer, Physicist” in their resume’s.

Aggressive responses to criticism – (“How dare he criticize me? That lying bastard, I swear I’ll get even, if it takes years”). This essay notes that it especially difficult to do anything critical with the narcissist because they see the criticism as a threat to their self, making them great fun during job performance reviews:

“Since the narcissist is incapable of asserting his or her own sense of adequacy, the narcissist seeks to be admired by others. However, the narcissist’s extremely fragile sense of self worth does not allow him or her to risk any criticism.”

Good parents engage children in dangerous activities

Every parent has their own criteria for successfully raising kids, and my style of parenting includes a healthy dose of self-confidence and exposure to a wide variety of sucessively dangerous challenges.

All children need to learn to conquer their fears. Whether it’s giving a public presentation or shooting a burglar in the head, kids must have the self confidence to aim high.

I taught my kids self-confidence in baby-steps by making them do successively more dangerous tasks:

– I started them both skiing before they were 4 years old
– They both learned to be proficient with a shotgun, rifle and handgun
– At 15, they learned to operate a chain saw
– They must study abroad (to master the fear of not being able to communicate)
– They must become certified scuba divers
– They both must skydive before age 21
– Oh, and lets not forget the ride on a Breezy!

Riding the Rail

About 8 years ago we were on the tarmac at the Scottsdale airport when we ran into Breezy Bob, a really nice fellow who was flying cross country in his “Breezy” a tiny open aircraft that gives you the real sensation of flying.

My son has just completed his pilot lesson, and Breezy Bob was generous enough to offer us a free ride!

A Breezy is pretty-much just a flying rail, and I’ll never forget the look on the kids faces when I strapped them in and told them “If you take-off this seat belt, you will fall out and have 30 seconds to say your prayers before you go splat!” Ha! They were absolutely petrified.

Breezy Bob is a super-nice guy, and he flew “Annabelle” all over the USA to raise money for charity:

It takes Moxie

I want my kids to have Moxie. BTW, Moxie was a popular soda that is no longer sold because it tasted like weasel piss. The Phrase “He has Moxie” originated because Moxie was marketed as a medicine to build one’s nerves:

My daughter Jen is a real treat when it comes to learning these life lessons. Jennifer pouts, whines and cries, all in a vain attempt to get me to back-off.

But I’m as stubborn as she is, and I win-out even if it involves a little trickery (I booked and paid for her parachute jump before I told her about it). For example, on her first scuba dive, Jen was so terrified she was literally shaking. As she sat on the edge of the boat I asked “If you don’t make it, can I have your stuff”?

Of course, Jen soon learned to love scuba diving and she is now quite fearless, going farther and deeper than me!

Time for Skydiving

Today we take the next step, the skydiving. She is scared to death, because if something goes wrong, it’s 100% fatal. In other words, it’s the perfect lesson in self-confidence. I figured that if she can muster the courage to jump out of a perfectly good plane, other life challenges will pale by comparison. This was my argument in a nutshell:

After all, it’s just a tandem jump, where she is strapped to another person:

To make it even more fun, I made sure that she talked with Amy, the local paramedic who got to scrape-up a few folks whose parachutes did not open!

But Jen was a great sport, and she sat through the training and got suited-up for her first jump:

My son Andy also went along, and they suited up and made their way to the jump plane:

They jumped at 14,000 feet and did a freefall for about 60 seconds before their chutes opened:

On the ground, they seemed happy, but not anxious to do it again!

Jen’s last remaining challenge is to study abroad, preferably in a challenging country where everything is super strange and foreign.

I suggested that she study in Kazakhstan, where Borat lives (BTW, I can’t wait for the Borat movie next month!):

If you haven’t seen Ali G on HBO, watch this hilarious video. For the Borat movie, watch this.

But Jen did not let me down in her choice of foreign countries. She chose one of the most foreign countries imaginable, one where the language barrier is almost insurmountable.

Next year Jen will study in International Management in Australia. . .

Buy Awards: American Biographical Institute

The Man of the Year Scam?

I was recently researching accreditation for graduate schools and the requirements for entry into the top MBA and law schools, when I came across an announcement that the President of the Republic of Gambia had won the prestigious “Man of the Year” award.

Wow! Imagine being named “Man of the Year” b y the American Biographical Institute. What an honor!

I was impressed. It’s no small feat to beat over a billion men for the honor of “Man of the Year“.

I had to learn more about this prestigious award. Here is a copy of the actual certificate from the American Biographical Institute in Raleigh:

Hm, I wonder why Google shows dozens of people winning the “Man of the Year 2004” award from ABI? Could it be a Google error?

Doh! Silly me. . .

Obviously, the “Man of the Year” award has been given out for many centuries!

After all, what other explanation could there be for the thousands of “Man of the Year” award winners? Click here and read how illustrious you must be to get chosen for this preeminent award.

The “Man of the Year” award is popular abroad

Google shows that there are over 10,000 “Professors” from all over the world who have been named “Man of the Year”, but strangely, I was able to find only one professor from a US University who had the nads to list this great honor:

“Charles Toftoy, associate professor of management science, SBPM, received The 2003 Man of The Year Award by the American Biographical Institute.”

But wait! Is there a “Woman of the Year”?

The Woman of the Year!

Yes! The American Biographical Institute honors the “Woman of the Year” too! Google shows that over 700 people have been honored as “Woman of the Year” meaning that this award has been given-out every year since the middle ages. Quite impressive.

According to this web site there are very rigorous standards to become the “Woman of the Year”:

“The American Biographical Institute said that the award is based on “Mrs. xxx outstanding accomplishments to date and the noble example she has set for peers and the entire community.””

But wait! There’s more!

It’s clear that the American Biographical Institute awards and honours are a really big deal, and famous politicians often confer these awards to their lucky purchasers. This ABI Woman of the Year notes that Dr. Andrew Refshauge, Deputy Premier of New South Wales Australia presented her with the American Biographical Institute’s “Order of International Ambassadors” award, one of their most expensive honors.

Now how much would you pay?

Now, you are probably wondering how much money these ABI awards cost?

It appears that these purchased honors are very reasonable priced and a good value for the money, as noted in this Australian Newspaper report:

Scam of the year a snip at $195
By Richard Baker
State Political Reporter
August 27, 2004

Consumer Affairs Minister John Lenders has been asked to investigate a scam being run by a group called the American Biographical Institute after it told a Labor MP he would get a decree confirming his nomination as 2004 “man of the year” if he paid $US195 ($A276).

Mr Robinson said the institute invited him to send an extra $US100 to a North Carolina address if he wanted the deluxe version of his degree, “custom laminated in Finnish birch”.

Finnish Birch?

This page titled awards scams, confirms that the “Man of the Year” award is very reasonably priced at only $195, and that this man got the offer addressd to Mrs….:

“A few years ago, I remember getting a letter from the American Biographical Institute, telling me that I had been chosen “Man of the Year”, as I was a recognized leader in my field. My name would be included in their new volume. All I had to do was send about 200$ to get a plaque and a copy of the book.

I would have fallen it but for the fact that the letter was addressed to me as “Mrs….”.

What they had done was to get a mailing list from somewhere and post form letters.

I realized however some months later how people do get conned by these awards when my association newsletter carried an item about one of my senior colleagues having received the ABI’s “Man of the Year” award.”

The ABI seems to have some trouble identify the genders of their inductees, as noted by this gentleman recipient of The Woman of the Year award:

“Dr. Govinda Tandon, an archaeologist living in Kathmandu, was at first pleased to have been selected for the honor, but when he unwrapped the beautiful wooden plaque that came with it, he discovered that the award was for “Woman of the Year.”

In a separate letter, the Institute explained that it had chosen him in the course of its “effort to recognize a small select group of outstanding women achievers throughout the world.”

Dr. Tandon, asking himself, “how can I accept an award from an institute that can’t even determine whether I’m a man or a woman?,” returned the plaque, thereby saving himself the Rs 20,000 (US $300) that the Institute said it needed from him to pay for entering his name in their directory.”

But you must Act Now!

Now you’re probably thinking that these American Biographical Institute awards are fake, phony or a fraud. I checked, and it’s does not look like a rip-off, scam, deception, scheme, con, swindle, or racket!

After all, how could such a highly acclaim
ed award be phoney if it costs $195.00 and the award appears on over 30 thousand web pages?

Visiting the famed institute

I went to the fabled campus of the American Biographical Institute in Raleigh North Carolina to see the Institute for myself. Actually, it looks more like a Condo than an Institute, but I guess it would sound silly to issue such prestigious awards from the “American Biographical Condominium“.

Nobody answered the door to the American Biographical Institute when I knocked, so I was unable to get more details, but it sure is comforting to know that the ABI is a real place and it’s not a fraud, fake or phony.

Stop Prejudice against the Disabled

Today I’m reporting on a sickening trend in America whereby people with verbal disabilities are openly being discriminated against, solely because they are dumb as rocks, have incomprehensible accents, stutter or suffer from Copralaia (a disability characterized by constant screaming & swearing at co-workers).

It’s sick that people with learning disabilities can still be the victims of discrimination. Here in America, The Americans with Disabilities Act protects any stupid person (learning disability, mental retardation) and a brain-damaged person cannot be barred from a high-paying job, especially in elected government positions.

Discrimination at the Help Desk

As computer software takes-on more complex problems, the fear of the general public also rises, and corporations are taking great lengths to provide top-notch help desk support.

I recently completed an article on help desk quality, and I was surprised to learn how important it is for help desk personnel to have outstanding English communications skills. While the Internet revolution has enabled many companies to outsource their help desk services overseas, many are finding that the help desk person’s command of English is as important as their technical knowledge.

For example, Dell was flooded with complaints about staff that spoke with accents, and they were forced to move their help desk back to the United States:

“Newspapers located near Dell’s Austin, Texas headquarters reported that customers were complaining not only about having their calls answered by technical support staff who spoke with accents”.

This article “Abroad and Back” notes that customers who hear noticeable accents from help desk personnel expect a bad experience, and they changed their hiring policies to require accent-neutral help desk support:

“”If customers called and heard an accent, they figured it would be a bad experience,” Griffiths said”

But it’s not just offshore help desk personnel. In the US, many help desk people are recruited from the dregs of society and some companies even use inmates from penitentiaries:

Today, most large corporations take great pains to ensure that anyone who speaks with the public is “accent neutral”. Help desks are now requiring accent-free voices, just like the Northwest Ohio accent that has been required for TV reporters for decades.

But the most disturbing trend is that people with verbal disabilities (stuttering, Tourette’s) are excluded from working at help desks jobs:

As an advocate for the disabled (I volunteer helping to train guide horses for the blind), I was shocked to learn that it is OK to exclude people from jobs, solely based on the way they speak.

For example, victims of Tourette’s syndrome who exhibit Coprolalia (involuntary shouting of profanities) may be legally excluded from help desk jobs. It’s just not right.

I think that the American with Disabilities Act should be broadened to allow disabled people to take-on any job they want. Help Desk customers will understand if their support person randomly screams profane words at them, and they would be impressed that the companies hires the disabled.

Another sad statement about American media is the new trend to openly mock the disabled.

Mocking the Disabled

Fans of South Park know that the show regularly mocks “Timmy” a retarded child, who can only babble and scream his name: “Timmaaay”:

What’s this world coming to? You can even buy a retard Timmy lunch box:

I also see a sick trend toward mocking the Blind, especially guide animals users:

It’s time for companies to get smart and stop excluding people from help desk jobs simply because they cannot speak English, lack skills or are verbally impaired. It otta be against the law.

Is China planning war against America?

Chinese attack United States Government

It’s very disturbing to see that China is making overt acts of aggression against the United States, attacking government web sites and satellites. It’s well-known that China has been eyeing Taiwan.

It’s amazing that there is a US law that guarantees that the USA will protect Taiwan, no congressional debates, just launch the nukes. This is the result of the long-time friendship between Claire Chennault and Chang Kai-Shek.

In WWII, China was our great ally against the Japanese invasion, and the USA has always supported a free and democratic China. Chelault led the famous “Flying Tigers”, a group of American volunteers defending China against the invaders:

Chinese aggression against the US Government!

Of course, American’s consider Taiwan the “real china” and US forces have fought the “Red Chinese” in Korea and indirectly in Vietnam, so many say that it’s expected that China would be agressive, especially in-light of our war history. Many people forget that Chairman Mao was listed in the Guiness Book of World Records as the biggest mass murderer in history, killing over 26 million of his own people.

Ah, but today, the Chinese have a friendlier icon to take Mao’s place:

An act of War?

These disturbing acts of aggression by China in attacking US satellites would have been considered an act of war during the cold war, and we now see that China is attempting to “blind” US satellites by firing lasers.

“China has fired high-power lasers at U.S. spy satellites flying over its territory in what experts see as a test of Chinese ability to blind the spacecraft, according to sources.

It remains unclear how many times the ground-based laser was tested against U.S. spacecraft or whether it was successful.”

This article titled “Red Storm Rising” says that US citizens should be concerned about buying Chinese electronics for fear of spyware with “subversive functionality”:

“China has shifted its dependence away from the United States to countries such as Malaysia and South Korea], while our dependence on them has grown,” he said during a Defense conference in Salt Lake City in May. “We’ve got to adjust our thinking, our calculus about how we put together a system of systems.”

Could it just be a misunderstanding?

I always hope that there may be an innocent explaination for this, and I wonder if the language barrier is a factor, especially because many Chinese words do not translate accurately into English:

We all remember the story of Mr. Fuk King Kwok, who did not realize that his first two names were inappropriate for polite conversation. Fuk King noted:

“”She [said] this is a dangerous name,” the Chinese immigrant recalled. “She [said] the name translated is not so good, maybe I should change [it]. The word I hear is not so good.”

We see this language translation problem everywhere. I remember a booth from China at a computer convention advertizing a new hand-held computer. Oddly, the product was taped-over on all of their ads. Curious, I went to the placard, peeled-back the tape cover, and I laughed out loud when I saw that the original product named looked something like this:

The China Hackers

This Washington Post article “Hackers attack” is very scary, and indicates that China has hacked into Department of Defense computers over 1,000 times in the past year:

“Web sites in China are being used heavily to target computer networks in the Defense Department and other U.S. agencies, successfully breaching hundreds of unclassified networks, according to several U.S. officials.”

“Concern about computer attacks from China comes amid heightened U.S. worry generally about Chinese military activities. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld warned in June that China’s military spending threatened the security balance in Asia”
The China “one child” policy, combined with the Chinese cultural preference for male children has created a situation where hundreds of millions of sexually-frustrated young men, ready to fight.

There is an old Russian joke about a hypothetical war with China where the Chinese surrendered 10 million soldiers per day and eventually took over Russia. This article titled “Is China preparing for war?” notes that the former Soviet Union may become a target:

“Questions obviously remain as to how China would actually proceed militarily against Russia. . .

In fact, China would have a much easier time invading through their own northern territories and into Siberia, than Russia would have trying to send and maintain a large fighting force there.

There is evidence that Russia sees the danger posed by China, especially if Russia has properly assessed the global situation with regard to oil and the coming drastic shortages the world is about to face.”