Saturday, August 27, 2005

Off With His Head!

The whole Pat Robertson fatwa thing left me scratching my head. This guy, who has "counseled" what, five/six different presidents, is being treated like a doddering old fool. I've read several articles which adopted a bemused tone. He's old and not to be taken seriously? Riiight.

Last I checked, this man functioned as the human link between God and the faithful for millions.His interpretation of the bible and the will of God is deemed the only way for huge chunks of American Christians. He certainly has more that a passing acquaintance with the Holy Bible.

Look, I took one minute, went to the On-line Parallel Bible (on the sidebar) and performed a simple search.

I can assure you I am completely clear on the results.

Deuteronomy 5:17 "You shall not murder.

Exodus 20:13 "You shall not murder.

Romans 13:9 For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder,"

James 2:11 For he who said, "Do not commit adultery, said also, thou shalt not kill"...

Matthew 19:18 He said to him, "Which ones?" Jesus said, "'You shall not murder...

Matthew 5:21 "You have heard that it was said to the ancient ones, you shall not murder...

Exodus 23:7 "Keep far from a false charge, and don't kill...

Pat Robertson's speeches and writing both created and nurtured the Dominionist movement in this country. The man wants a theocracy. He's been stirring a dangerous pot for 25 years. I'm considerably past bemused.

Is Pat Robertson a whack job? Probably. (Heh. Whack job. Whack. Chavez. I slay myself. I'll be here all week.)

Does the fact (that he's nuts) diminish the amount of influence he wields over gullible people?

Not one whit.

Too bad the fourth estate is still bought and paid for. The price for Robertson's folly unchecked will be steep. He's not only a dangerous political animal, but he is so far gone from the teachings of Jesus Christ, and so hell bent to change the political and theological landscape of America, that I truly fear for the health and freedom of religion in this country. If he succeeds, we'll be operating under a theocratic hierarchy that will effectively end our constitution based government and the tolerance for all religions it provides. If he's crushed and the Dominion sent packing, I fear the repercussions against religion will effectively quash the good with the bad.

Jesus had some pretty good ideas about lots of stuff. The stuff Robertson spews has absolutely nothing to do with Jesus.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Time To Make the Donuts

Donuts and I go back a long way. A looooooong way. As a freshly minted high school grad of barely 17, I took a job in a donut shop. My intention was to party, er, work for a year, and start the path of higher education. This was the plan I discussed with my Mother. This was not the plan I executed with my friends, all of whom felt it was idiotic to live in a state where the drinking age was 18 and not exercise that right. After my year was up, my Mother, being a woman of considerable stones, poured me into the University to dry out.

That was one hell of a year.

Donuts require a degree of time management ability. One must get up and not fall into the hot fat fryer, if you expect donuts by 5:30 a.m. I solved this problem by never going to bed. I must have worked for a truly clueless man, because I held that job, drunker than three hundred dollars, for over a year. I made a lifelong friend to boot. (Hi, Bets!) I can assure you, two loaded chicks can have a pretty good time playing with colored sprinkles at 4:30 in the morning.

Good times.

Moving south forced the introduction of many new things. I gave up Indy Racing, one of several sports I watched with my Dad, and started watching NASCAR. I developed a taste for boiled peanuts. I can bait a hook with a shrimp. I also ate my first Krispy Kreme donut.

For the Yankees, the Canucks, the West Coasters and my Mid-Western buds, Krispy Kreme is a venerable southern institution. The donuts ain't bad either.

In April of 2000, Krispy Kreme went public, and became stock market darlings with a ninefold increase over their IPO. That, folks, is a lot of sprinkles. (Trust me when I say that comments were made about the superiority of these southern gems. Blah, blah, blah, fry-cakes. It's easy to emote over a winner. I was a Green Bay Packer fan in the 80's. The only person on the entire team who could score was Chris Jacke, the kicker. When you still feel the love despite the fact your team completely sucks, we'll talk.)

Donuts, apparently, weren't the only thing being cooked at Krispy Kreme. The SEC opened an investigation and the stock dropped by 66%. Ouch.

“The Krispy Kreme story is one of a newly public company, experiencing rapid growth, that failed to meet its accounting and financial reporting obligations to its shareholders and the public,” according to the report. “While some may see the accounting errors discussed in our summary as relatively small in magnitude, they were critical in a corporate culture driven by a narrowly focused goal of exceeding projected earnings by a penny (per share) each quarter.” -- AP
You see, when an image is represented to the public by a company, the facts need to be there to back it up. If the facts are manufactured, eventually the tissue of lies collapses. The money, the profitability, the reason for the myriad of decisions made to drive the company forward, all rest on the accountability of the decision makers. If the image was a false one, the pyramid of employees, investors, vendors and customers all stand to be hurt.

Several lawsuits have been filed against Krispy Kreme, including one that alleges workers lost millions of dollars in retirement savings because executives at the company hid evidence of declining sales and profits. -- AP

Not every stumble portends disaster. In the Krispy Kreme case, the oversight structure (in the form of the SEC) caught the shenanigans in time. The Krispy Kreme board convened a special committee to determine the what, where, when and how's of the deceit. This effort at self-policing pulled no punches.

"The number, nature and timing of the accounting errors strongly suggest that they resulted from an intent to manage earnings," said a report by a special committee of the Krispy Kreme board released yesterday. -- Newsday

Krispy Kreme is on the mend. Livengood, the CEO believed to have orchestrated the false earnings, is out. New blood, with experience in salvaging companies like Boston Chicken and Krispy Kreme, now hold the reins. The flushing of the sprinkles is stayed for now. I think there's still a few donuts left to be made.

There are many good corporate citizens in this country. There are a few who behave better simply because there are avenues of prosecution against them if they don't. There are a very few who feel their size insulates them from the rules. Hmmm... kinda like our government.

When we allowed the Bush administration to shape our viewpoint of America, post 9/11, we began seeing a limited view on the direction of our country. We accepted excessive spending based on their say so. We permitted shoddy accounting to go unreported. We declined to demand accountability for decisions.

The tissue of lies is starting to crumple.

There is no board of directors for America, but there are some 200,000,000 tax-payer stock-holders. This deficit belongs to all of us. We can't stick our heads in the sand, let our ELECTED officials scare us with terrorism while our rights and financial sovereignty are undermined, and quit being Americans.

Apathy is the shame of America.

We built, in 230 years, an astonishing country. WE built. American arms, legs, backs, and minds, powered by hope, drive, passion, and belief. I want it back. I want my honor back. I want to wear my freedom on my chest like the badge of honor it used to be.

Builders, not bullies. Growth, not debt. Debate, not debasement.


The proof may not be in the pudding, but perhaps, there's truth in the donuts.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Cuckoo Ah-choo!

World War I saw weary soldiers pulling themselves out of filthy trenches in Belgium and France to head home. Unwittingly, they brought hitchhikers along. Germs, in the form of influenza, spread across this country during the influenza epidemic of 1918. Those who fought the war to end all wars wreaked viral havoc on the homeland. Between March and November of that year, 500,000 people died in the U.S. Worldwide, the Spanish influenza epidemic struck and killed nearly 20 million by 1920.

I want you to think about that. Apart from a few head-in-the-sand isolationists, most of us understand we are well into a global economy. We're connected. A contagious disease like influenza, (one that cannot be cured, only treated for the symptoms), is capable of grinding the world economy to a halt. Things will not get done if we're dropping like flies.

We, and by that I mean the people of earth, have a problem and it's in Vietnam. It's the avian flu. I know, bird flu, blah, blah, blah, YAWN. *!*

Wake up!

Across East Asia, an influenza virus known by the scientific designation H5N1 has killed at least 55 people and tens of millions of birds. As potential aggressors go, this one's about as insidious as they get — fast-moving, deadly and extremely unpredictable. Before it can mount an all-out offensive, this "bird flu" virus must change its genetic makeup so that it can jump easily from human to human. Once it has done so, the resulting germ could spread quickly, inflicting heavy casualties among a global population with no natural immunity against it.

That final shift might never happen or it could happen next week. But scientists think that roughly three times each century nature creates an influenza virus capable of global devastation, and a "pandemic" flu sweeps the world. The prospects increase when a virus long out of circulation extends its geographic range, its hold on different animal species and its contact with humans. By those measures, H5N1 is a virus on the march. -- LA Times
Remember SARS? SARS spread to five countries in 24 hours and reached 30 countries on 6 continents in just a few months.

Germs are like Chaos theory, right under our noses. Random. Everywhere, and nowhere.

It's important to understand that there will be no time for preparation if the world goes Cuckoo Ah-choo. People will start dying, and quickly. Services will be disrupted, money may not flow properly, quarantines will be effected. Last year's vaccine shortage was a serious problem. (While not for the same type of flu, a lack of vaccine significantly increases the chance of flu gaining a foothold.) Vaccine specialists are striving to produce a bird flu vaccine, although nothing is ready for human trials yet. Until the virus completely mutates and becomes capable of human to human transference, we really have no idea if the new vaccines will work.

In the real world, it would take four to six months to produce vaccines on the scale needed to tackle influenza. Some countries have taken to stockpiling vaccines against the strain of bird flu that is currently circulating, but there is no guarantee that this vaccine will convey enough protection against any human strain that might emerge. -- The Economist

We need to have enough respect for nature to accept that viral evolution is continual. Thanks to efforts by UK vaccine specialists, we may be poised to dissemble the threat of this killer. Or, we may bury our dead (much like the aftermath of the Tsunami), using our failure as a blueprint for next time.