Thursday, December 30, 2010

NPR - Perspectives

I've always been one to like short quips or quotes, see my quotes Web page, always with and for a sense of humor and often to get me to rethink or break any tension or stess.

I never make mistakes, I just don't always do everything right.

I'm never wrong, I'm just not always right.

I never lose, I just don't always win.

I'm never lost, I just don't always know where I am.

Why follow directions when you can take the scenic route?

I always know where I'm going, I just don't always know if it's right.

I always know where I'm standing, it's not always the right place.

I'm never late, I'm just not always on time.

I'm going as fast I can, it only looks slow.

I don't break things, they just stop working.

I never lie, I just don't always tell the whole truth.

You expect me to lead? I have no sense of direction.

I have plans, they just don't always work.

I have plans, just not always for what I'm doing.

Directions? I had them once but lost them enroute.

I have answers, they just don't always fit the question.

Do you know what time it is? Yes. Well, maybe for me anyway.

In the end..., Wait, you mean we're already at the end?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

JMO - Opinions Moved

I noticed I wrote a lot this month about the political events after the November election. Well, I decided to move all but those with comments to my News & Opinion blog where it's more appropriate. I've neglected this blog putting all my opinion post here, which has cluttered it with noise, and all of it me. So, in the future folks can wander there to hear me standing on my soapbox ranting at the world. I'll only post opinion pieces here which are of a serious or important note.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

JMO - False Assumption

Reading about the progress for peace and security in Afghanistan and General Petraeus' view of the war strategy there, namely using the town of Nawa and the best example of a resurgent population to normalcy over a nearly two year period from the surge of US troops with Afghan police and forces and money (USAID) into the area. And he says this is the potential for the rest of the country.

Well, for one there are many critics who say Nawa is unique and not like the rest of Afghanstan, which is so true it's almost absurd. But what bothers me here is that the military leaders keep bringing up successes in the face of overwhelming failures of the Afghan police and forces, the central government, the infrastructure projects, and our own military losses or withdrawls.

But most of all there are two failures where which make hope and potential long overused and really wrongly appropriate words there. And that's the sheer amount of time and money we have spent there to get to this point. How insane is that? After 9 years we're still fighting a basic war for the peace and security of the country.

We're fighting an inept and incompetent, but mostly a very corrupt, government. We're fighting many failed infrastructure projects worth billions. We're fighting the Taliban who simply have the two things we don't have, time and money. They can simply wait us out in Pakistan and move to the weakest spot, draining our forces and resources. They have money because we outspend them one to ten thousand to one.

They have billions of dollars, some of it from us through the corruption or simply paying contractors who pay the Taliban not to fight us. Our money against us. And they have the cartel's money too. The Taliban isn't loved in Afghanstan from their years in power, so we know the people doesn't want them back. But they're embedded in the Afghan government with the President's knowledge and approval.

He wants to stay in power and will do anything to that end, including making deals with the Taliban, war lords, drug cartels, and anyone who wants to be in Afghanistan. Everyone knows it, including the military. So why are they trying to fool us with small success stories to show what they hope and think is possible? When will we wake up to realize it's all for naught?

There is no end there. All the end games haven't worked or succeeded outside of areas of the country. We're pouring billions into a failed and corrupt government and country. For what? Our pride? Is that what the military wants, to show we can win this war? What war?

There are less than 300 Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and less than 100 in the Afghanistan by the best reports. ON that front we have won. There are only a few thousand Taliban, and again, mostly in Pakistan. We don't have an ally in Pakistan, they're simply taking our money and being nice to us and cooperating on nuclear weapons (for their own safety and security to keep them out of the hands of terrorists).

Otherwise, they make overtures for help but mostly focus on their own security from the war lords and Taliban. Their interests aren't our interests and ours theirs. But they like to take our money and appear to cooperate. They want a secure Afghanistan but mostly their focus in eastward with India. That's their reality, not ours.

Do we really think the Afghan police and forces have the resources, but more so the willingness to fight the Taliban when we leave? Don't we understand we and they are winning because of our technology and equipment? We're not going to hand that to the Afghan government and forces. We're training the Afghan police and forces but we also know that rely on us for nearly everything.

What we know is the Afghans will fight for what they believe, their country, and it won't need our goals or strategy to do that. They've been there through many wars against each other, the then Soviets, and th Taliban amoung others. At best Afghan will fight it out as they have for generations and then fight to keep their neighbors out of their country. That we know is the only truth there.

So, in the end, it's all a bunch of false asssumptions and a war strategy which has continually changed around small sucesses. But more importantly here is the American people and taxpayer. How long can we keep hearing this and writing checks for a false sense of success? How long can we keep hearing this from generals with vivid imaginations?

How long can we keep hearing about the threat of terrorism there when it's long moved to Yemen and other countries elsewhere in the world? We will go into those countries next to fight them for our safety and security? Or at least beyond our covert presence and drone attacks? Are we ready to chase small groups of terrorists around the world for imaginary security they might attack the US?

Really? Or is the threat more of small threats the world has seen for nearly two decades and where there are bombings and attacks everyday of the year. Yes, we've had one in the face of thousands since then everywhere else where the total dead far exceeds our 9/11. They've suffered more and more often and we couldn't care less about them.

Maybe it's time to wake up to the global reality of terrorism and from terrorists and stop the chasing wars with false assumption and failed strategies? And maybe it's time to ask if this is worth the price in the dead and injured soldiers and the money spent now and into the future?

We don't need to hear President Obama talk about "staying the course" there. Bush said that about Iraq and we left and are leaving. And Obama is only going down the same political road for personal poltical victory than one for America and Americans. And we've heard more than enough of that as we've heard we're there until 2014 and beyond.

What will President Obama say in January 2017 when he leaves office and we're still there with the same res ults? Just like Bush with Iraq when he left in January 2009. He'll leave it for the next president? And how much many more lives gone or damaged and how much more money gone for nothing?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

JMO - Bigger isn't better

I like Swanson's canned chicken breast. Ok, a giant corporation with mass chicken production, but doing some taste samples of the available brands in my area (from Safeway, QFC, etc.), it's the best tasting chicken. But here's the problem. Up until last year the chicken came in small 4.5 oz cans which didn't stack very well on shelves. Ok, fix the can.

Well the company did by introducing a larger, stackable can, with the same 4.5 ounces of chicken on the label. But really? No, not really. Doing some weighing of 12 cans (I make batches of chicken salad for a week or so), I found the water and chicken was 4.5 ounces as stated on the label, but there was only 2 7/8th to 3 1/8th ounces of chicken. Or roughly 1/3 of the weight was water.

The smaller cans had less water and more chicken, so naturally the company solved the problem with a larger can and less chicken. To keep the price the same, the company simply compensated for the cost of the large can with less chicken and more water. And the consumer is ripped off.

I thought something was different when I made the first batch of salad from the larger cans and there was less chicken in the mixing bowl. So I compared the two cans and difference of the chicken and water in the can. The smaller can with the less water had to have more chicken to make the 4.5 ounces of net weight.

The larger can afforded Swanson to add more water and less chicken to get the same net weight. And then they hoped consumers wouldn't notice the difference but simply buy more cans to compensate for the less total chicken for any meals, salads, etc. And one seems to notice, along with me,until I finally bought a scale for other reasona but decided to tested the cans.

I weighed the can minus the lid. I drained the water and weighed the can, the difference being the water. I emptied the can and weighed it again, the difference being the chicken (plus water in the chicken). Not rocket science. Twelve cans were consistent at 3 ounces plus or minus 1/8 of an ounce.

Well, maybe I'll reconsider the other brands again, but this time I'll test the net weight and then compare net price (cost of 1 ounce of chicken).