A silly conversation with turkeys

 
For a while, my maternal grandparents raised turkeys on their farm. One of the reasons their farmstead was called Turkey Hill.

There is nothing dumber than a turkey. Turkeys stampede. Turkeys stampede, crushing each other when an airplane passes over, thinking it is a hawk and they must flee.

It can start to rain – and turkeys will stand and gaze up at the falling rain, mouths agape – and drown.

Thanks for reminding me, Ursarodina

What’s in your vault?

For decades, the U.S. government has stashed gold five stories beneath Manhattan in a vault under the Federal Reserve’s fortress near Wall Street…

Some conspiracy theorists suspect that the billions of dollars’ worth of bullion might have been looted in a dramatic heist, a la the movie “Die Hard: With a Vengeance.” Others claim that the gold has been used in a shadowy government transaction, or swapped with gold-painted bars…politicians like Rep. Ron Paul and – a few dimwit – members of Germany’s Parliament.

Now…the federal government has quietly been completing an audit of U.S. gold stored at the New York Fed. The effort included drilling small holes in the bars to test their purity.

The Treasury Department has refused to disclose what the audit has revealed so far, saying the results will be announced by year’s end. But as one former top Fed official said recently, the testing may finally prove that “Goldfinger didn’t sneak in at night” and take the gold.

“The calls for audits are saying, ‘We don’t trust the government for the last 200 years,'” said Ted Truman, a former assistant Treasury secretary and Fed official. He called perennial questions about the country’s reserves “the gold bug equivalent of the birther movement“…about right for Ron Paul…

In New York, about $21 billion in U.S. gold is locked inside the Fed’s vault. It’s stored alongside bullion from three dozen other countries and organizations such as the International Monetary Fund. All told, about 23% of the world’s official gold reserves are stored in the central bank’s vaults.

The final results still might not satisfy some. Paul, the Texas Republican and presidential contender, wants an independent audit of all U.S. gold.

In 1981, when Paul was on the Gold Commission…he argued for full gold audits every year…Like every phony fiscal conservative, he doesn’t mind wasting taxpayer dollars on his obsessive delusions…

Paying a police chief’s $204,000 pension – after 8 months work – illustrates what municipal bankruptcies are all about

Police Chief Tom Morris was supposed to bring stability to law enforcement when he was appointed to the job four years ago.

He lasted eight months and left the now-bankrupt city at age 52 with an annual pension that pays more than $204,000 — the third of four chiefs who stayed in the position for less than three years and retired with an average of 92 percent of their final salaries.

Stockton, which filed for bankruptcy protection on June 28, is among California cities from the Mexican border to the San Francisco Bay confronting rising pension costs as they contend with growing unemployment and declining property- and sales-tax revenue. The pensions are the consequence of decisions made when stock markets were soaring, technology money flooded the state, and retirement funds were running surpluses…

Seems to me the biggest part of this problem was bureaucrats taking good care of other bureaucrats.

Many cities are hobbled by retiree obligations that consume 10 percent or more of revenue. And unlike other expenses, which can be cut or deferred, pension costs are intractable, said Eric Friedland, head of municipal-credit research for Schroder Investment Management North America.

City councils across the state, spurred by then-Governor Gray Davis’s move to enhance pensions for California Highway Patrol officers in 1999, sweetened retirement benefits for police, firefighters and other workers in the decade that followed. Public-safety employees could retire after working for 30 years, collect 90 percent of their top salaries and take jobs elsewhere while still in their 50s.

What comparison is there between people doing the grunt-work for 30 years and a bureaucrat who spent 8 months in appointed office?

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Medicare wants more time to stop using Security Security number

Five years after being told to look at taking Social Security numbers off Medicare cards, Medicare officials told lawmakers at a sometimes-tense House hearing Wednesday that they still need six more months to figure out how much it will cost.

Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, chairman of the House Ways and Means Social Security subcommittee, said if military and health organizations can do it “and you were asked to do it so many years ago, I don’t understand what’s taking so long.”

Johnson introduced a bill in April that would prohibit Medicare from including Social Security numbers on benefit cards. The legislation was referred to committee, but Johnson insisted Medicare should be able to simply replace the old cards with new ones.

Medicare Chief Information Officer Tony Trenkle indicated the process would be more complicated, involving updating IT systems, educating Medicare beneficiaries about the changes and reassessing budget priorities laid out by Congress…

Trenkle assured lawmakers that the issue was a priority, but he could only offer a timetable for the change based on a report discredited by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress…

The Defense Department launched a strategy to remove Social Security numbers from identification cards issued to service members, their families and retirees in April 2011. Veterans Affairs has also stopped issuing ID cards and health authorization cards that show the veteran’s Social Security number. When asked by Johnson why the Medicare agency “can’t follow in the footsteps of DOD and VA,” Trenkle said the organizations are set up differently and conduct different operations.

“It’s not exactly comparing apples to apples,” Trenkle said.

The man’s an idiot, a liar or simply a fool. It’s like comparing an Excel spreadsheet to an Excel spreadsheet.

Kathleen King, director of health care at the GAO, indicated that changing from a Social Security number to a new ID number would require Medicare to work with health care providers who might have “antiquated” systems, complicating the process…Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., said the agency would be working with “over a million small businesses, some of whom we’re trying to nudge into the world of electronic record-keeping.”

Hogwash. My Medicare doctor asks me to show my Medicare card everytime I walk in the door – just in case there’s been a change. Providers can make the change one person at a time.

“We all know Americans are told not to carry their Social Security cards to protect their identity in case a wallet is lost or stolen,” Johnson said. “Yet seniors are told they must carry their Medicare card which displays the Social Security number.”

Catholic church continues marching backwards — Archbishop calls for blasphemy law in Germany

A Catholic bishop has called for a blasphemy law in Germany, saying all religions deserved legal protection from attack in order to preserve human dignity…

“Those who injure the souls of believers with scorn and derision must be put in their place and in some cases also punished,” said Bamberg Archbishop Ludwig Schick…

He said there should be a “Law against the derision of religious values and feelings,” the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported.

Satire magazine Titanic raised the topic of blasphemy and respect for religion last month after publishing an image of Pope Benedict with a yellow stain on his cassock in reference to the Vatican leaks scandal.

The Pope took legal action which succeeded in banning further printing of the image, although copies of the magazine already published were not removed from sale. Yet his legal argument was based on his personal rights rather than any protection of religion…

…The idea of a blasphemy law was slammed by the Green Party, whose parliamentary leader Volker Beck said satire and irony could not be banned…He said that ironic or satirical statements might not be popular among those targeted, but they could not be forbidden.

“Believers do not need any greater criminal legal protection against defamation, slander and attack than other social groups,” he said.

Sharia law has no credibility in a modern educated society. I don’t care whether the theocrats are Catholic or Southern Baptist, Orthodox Jews or Muslims, providing justice by religious ideology should remain catalogued in history books as an aberration leftover from the Dark Ages.