Too Many People to Salute

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An article in the November 4 Time magazine argued that the US military is way too top-heavy.

  • During World War 2, we had 2000 generals and admirals, 1 for every 6000 troops. Now we have 900 generals and admirals–1 for every 1500 troops.
  • During WW2, we had 1 officer for every 8 enlisted men. Now, it’s 1 for every 5.

The glut of officers leads to unnecessary bureaucracy to keep officers busy with questionable work. The Army says the 20-year pension requirement keeps too many mediocre officers around.

Higher-paid officers require higher benefits. One retired Marine officer says, “We’re going to turn the Department of Defense into a benefits company that occasionally kills a terrorist.”

Interesting stuff to think about.

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Big Brother Comes for Christmas

The NSA Hymn: “They know if you’ve been sleeping. They know if you’re awake. They know if you’ve been bad or texting terrorists, so live off the grid for goodness sake.”

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Teen Non-Drivers: One Way to Solve the Energy Crisis

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Four different studies show that America young people are driving less than previous generations, and many aren’t even bothering to get a driver’s license. Since 1983, the percentage of 19-year-olds with driver’s licenses fell from 87% to 70%. For 17-year-olds, it fell from 69% to just 46%. Insurance companies report a 12% drop in covered teen drivers since 2006. Teen traffic fatalities are also falling.

There are several theories about what’s happening.

1. Teens “hang out” via social media–Facebook, texting, etc. No need to be physically together. International data shows that the higher the internet use in a country, the lower the number of young people with driver’s licenses.

2. Teens can’t afford to drive. Can’t get good enough jobs to pay the car, gas, insurance, and upkeep.

3. Young people are opting for alternative transportation, and choosing life habits which require less time on the road.

4. They haven’t gotten around to it yet. In one survey, 37% of teens said they’re just too busy to get a driver’s license. (Too busy with what?)

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You Picked It. Live With It.

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The NFL says if the weather is bad, they could move the Super Bowl from Sunday to either Saturday or Monday. Hey, you chose an outdoor stadium in New York City. Don’t wimp out. Own it.

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Some Enduring Choices

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Thinking of the late Peter O’Toole, I was wondering about the movies “Lawrence of Arabia” beat for the Best Picture Oscar. So I looked it up.

Other films from 1962: “The Longest Day,” “Mutiny on the Bounty,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “The Music Man,” “The Miracle Worker,” “Birdman of Alcatraz,” “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane,” “The Manchurian Candidate.”

And not a sequel, or a superhero, among them! Oh, to have a selection of movies like that today!

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China: Follow the Leader, Thank You Very Much

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Congratulations to China for landing an unmanned vehicle on the moon last weekend. I apologize that we in the US consider it a blase achievement, since we landed on the moon 45 years ago. Maybe you didn’t notice, since you were all caught up in that Cultural Revolution thing you had going (how’d that turn out, by the way?). Oh–did anyone tell you we also included a couple actual people? And brought them back? Tiny little detail you may have overlooked.

Since you’re playing catch-up, you might try a couple other things we did in 1969.

For instance, we held a big music festival that year–called it Woodstock. You could try something like that in Tiananmen Square. Might go over real well. We also debuted something called the 747 Jumbo Jet. Do you have anything like that? Also in 1969, we created ARPANET. Today we call it the internet. Maybe you’ve heard of it.

Anyway, keep up the good work. Imitation, as they say, is flattery, and China excels at imitation.

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The Ear of the Beholder

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“George Bush was the first UB president who THOUGHT that he spoke Spanish.” – Univision anchor Jorge Ramos on the Daily Show. Cracked me up when he said that.

Ramos was REALLY funny. He’s also quite influential in the Hispanic community with is platform at Univision.

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Rush Limbaugh and My Crisis of Faith

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Theological guru Rush Limbaugh is criticizing Pope Francis for speaking out against “unfettered capitalism,” poverty, growing economic inequality, and the “idolatry of money.” Limbaugh says the Pope is espousing “pure marxism.”

I’m having a crisis of faith. Thanks to the biblical insights and moral authority of Rush, I now realize that Jesus himself was a marxist. And as all good American Christians are taught, only capitalism in all its unfettered glory is truly biblical and God-ordained.

So, should I abandon my faith? How can I follow a lie?

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The Nerdification of Sports

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The US has granted visas to several online gamers as “internationally recognized athletes.” That way, these professional gamers–that’s what they do for a living–can come to the US for tournaments, just as tennis players do.

What’s next, “World of Warcraft” as an Olympic event? Will US high schoolers be able to letter in Starcraft II? Full-ride college scholarships for League of Legends?

When I was in high school in Arizona, they were working on making chess a varsity sport. Wearing a letter jacket for chess is basically telling real athletes, “Please beat me up.”

I was on the chess team, but I was also on the basketball team, which put me in that gray netherworld between Jock and Nerd. Perhaps I could have gotten away with sporting a chess letter. Alas, we moved before I could obtain a chess letter jacket (which would have happened before I got a basketball letter), so I can only wonder.

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In the Interests of Public Safety

Texting While Walking

A Japanese company makes a mobile phone with a “Safety” mode. If you try to use the phone while walking, you get an error message: “Using your smartphone while walking is dangerous. The phone senses you are walking. Please stop.” Of course, you don’t need to activate “Safety” mode. But still, it’s a good idea. The march of progress.

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