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Saudi Revolution, coming to a Middle East near you.

With most all of the Middle East on fire one of the last bastions of stability has been Saudi Arabia. So far at least there has only been minimal protests and demonstrations, and those were largely related to the Governments response to flooding. Well, it seems that a Saudi revolution is being scheduled through facebook.

If this revolution actually gains any traction I fear we may wish for the days of Jimmy Carter. A day when even far left Presidents would use force to protect our access to oil in the Middle East. Or even days when we could have started drilling at home to get our dependence on foreign entities down (they say the process would take around a decade).

Back in December an ex-Shell Oil boss was predicting $5 a gallon gas by 2012, but that didn’t include this sort of unrest in the Middle East. If this trend continues we could see $4 a gallon gas by early Summer and $5 a gallon gas by Winter of this year, and that is a hopeful prediction that doesn’t account for an actual uprising in Saudi Arabia. If a real uprising happens in Saudi Arabia then all bets are off, our gas prices could double or triple and gas could likely become a very rare commodity.

Filed under : Politics
By dhert
On February 22, 2011
At 9:55 am
Comments : 0

Ohio Senate Bill 5

Ohio Senate Bill 5 is the bill against Collective Bargaining for Local and State Government workers Unions. The debate has heated up and theres a lot of misinformation on both sides of the court. The best thing I can recommend to anyone before they take a stance on this bill is to read it. There is also good balanced reports on the bill at the Columbus Dispatch, WLWT, and Yahoo!.

The bill will help to fix pensions (which are currently so absurd that they will soon be unfunded liabilities) which will help Ohio get its budget under control for the future. It also awards teachers based on merit rather than seniority, which in turns helps school throughout the state become better as it will help to weed out those teachers who are unsatisfactory.

Unions do not fight for the rights of these workers, this is a fallacy that has been purported for decades. Ohio has had civil-service protection laws since 1912, of which all of these jobs are covered by. Below are some highlights of proposals in the bill from the Columbus Dispatch article.

Proposals in the bill:

State workers

  • Eliminates collective bargaining for state workers, including higher education employees.
  • Requires the Department of Administrative Services to develop a merit-based system of pay.

Local workers

  • Removes the requirement that deadlocked safety forces go to binding arbitration, instead extending the prior union contract for one year.
  • Requires mediators to consider wages of employees who are not members of the union and does not allow them to consider future tax increases as part of an entity’s ability to pay.
  • Allows employers to hire permanent replacement workers during a strike.
  • Removes health insurance from collective bargaining. Management will pick insurance policies, and employees must cover at least 20 percent of the cost.
  • No longer requires that once a subject is included in a contract that it becomes a mandatory subject of future bargaining.
  • Defines an “impasse” as a lack of agreement after 90 days. After that point, it requires each side to make public its last, best offer.
  • Prohibits public employers from picking up extra employee pension contributions.
  • Eliminates from state law automatic pay increases for experience and education.
  • Eliminates from state law leave policies and automatic 15 sick days for teachers.
  • Prohibits school districts from bargaining away certain management powers, such as the ability to deploy teachers to certain buildings.
  • No longer makes longevity a deciding factor when management is deciding to make layoffs.
  • Requires a public employer to publish on its website any changes in the union contract that impacts compensation of workers, including wages, length of service payments, and insurance coverage.
  • Requires the employer and the State Employment Relations Board to publish the parties’ offers on their websites before and after fact-finding is complete.
  • Allows schools or local governments in fiscal emergency to terminate or modify a collective bargaining agreement.
Filed under : Politics
By dhert
On February 21, 2011
At 6:09 pm
Comments : 0

Watson still far from perfect.

As has been displayed on Jeopardy the past couple of days, Watson is not quite perfect. The problem is quite complex, but I’ll do my best to describe it. Watson takes a question and determines keywords then returns an answer. Depending on the keywords that are picked it will gauge how strongly the answer can be trusted.

This is sort of the system most people use with Google. Take a question you have, take keywords from that question and then plug it into the Google search engine. You can actually get some of the same results from Google with the full questions from Jeopardy, though certainly not all of them. The reason for this is Google obviously only uses keywords and won’t take full text then determine keywords on its own.

IBM still has a few things to tweak, and possibly quite a few more things to program in, before Watson will be completely ready. I have a few ideas in mind, though I’m sure its stuff the brains at IBM have already thought of. Off to draw up flowcharts with the ideas already in practice vs my idea, just for fun.

Filed under : Computers,Technology
By dhert
On February 16, 2011
At 3:30 pm
Comments : 0

Middle East unrest spreads.

Egypt style protests are now happening in Iran, Bahrain and Libya.

Iran comes as no surprise, given the protests they were having after the “rigged” elections of 2009. The Green Movement is working hard again in Iran and the government there has already started forceful shutdowns of shops and demonstrations. At least two people have already been killed.

Libya should also come as no surprise, given its proximity to Egypt. Bahrain is a bit more concerning considering its proximity to Saudi Arabia, though it may not have much effect on the Saudis given the island’s small stature.

Given that protests have already come Yemen, Jordan, Syria, Algeria, and Morocco it may be time to zoom out of the region a bit and keep a keen eye focused on Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the Southern European countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. If this is all tied to the Muslim Brotherhood and like-minded groups we could be seeing the start of a Islamic Caliphate, just as Glenn Beck had warned and the New York Times affirmed.

Filed under : Politics
By dhert
On February 15, 2011
At 9:29 am
Comments : 0

What will become of Egypt?

Only time will tell us exactly what the outcome of the revolution in Egypt will be. Personally I’ve heard everything from 1791 America to 1979 Iran and everything in-between. The true nature of the “new democracy” will show its face to everyone once the dust has settled on the streets and their new leaders are voted in.

The one comparison I haven’t heard is 1933 Germany, most likely because that was a “democratic” take over with Hitler being voted into power. However, with the Islamic fascists running the uprising in Egypt would a comparison to early 30s Germany be that far off? I estimate that it would not be too far, specifically if the Muslim Brotherhood is able to take power in the country.

History has a tendency to repeat itself, whether we notice it or not. Its usually when we least realize it that something important has happened that somewhat mirrors a prior event in history, when its something major like this we tend to over-analyze and miss the major storyline that truly should be noticed. In this case, the fascists in the Muslim Brotherhood and their propping up ElBaradei.

The next few months of Egypt’s political scene should be interesting to watch unfold. They should be paid attention to much like a scientist would when testing a major theory. What happens with the elections and in the time after, depending on which group takes power, will point us in the direction that Egypt is headed… hopefully that is not in a 1917 Russia, 1933 Germany or 1979 Iran path.

Filed under : Uncategorized
By dhert
On February 12, 2011
At 3:47 pm
Comments : 0

Egypt: Military Coup by Popular Demand

Mubarak has officially stepped down as President of Egypt. Power of the country has been handed over to the Military, this in essence has become a ‘soft’ Military Coup. The questions now swirl as to who exactly the Military will promote to lead the country, or if there will be a “democratic” vote.

If a vote happens expect the Islamic Fascists (Muslim Brotherhood) to snatch control and kick all the Communist groups that helped them out of the country (this include Labor Unions and Code Pink). They will be very Anti-Israel and United States. This change could take a few months or only a few weeks, but chances are we’re seeing the rise of another Iran in the Middle East.

This comes on the 32nd Anniversary of the Iran royal regime falling during the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

Filed under : Politics
By dhert
On February 11, 2011
At 12:00 pm
Comments : 0

Discontent in Middle East Spreads

Early reports indicate that demonstrations have started in Iraq. The demonstrations are said to be much like those that have taken place in Tunisia and Egypt. The fate of Iraq should concern us all, given it holds within it’s borders the site of Ancient Babylon.

It may be important to note that the one site never to be touched during all US operations in Iraq is Babylon. Also important to note is that Babylon is the prophesied seat of power for a new Islamic Caliphate, should one form, as well as a false prophet who comes before the second coming of Jesus (or, as some have researched, the 12th Imam). Both are scary possibilities, but could still be decades to centuries away.

Filed under : Uncategorized
By dhert
On February 9, 2011
At 5:57 pm
Comments : 0

Bengals new O.C.

Bengals have hired on a new Offensive Coordinator, Jay Gruden. The last name should sound familiar if you follow football, since Jon Gruden lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl XXVII victory in 2002. Jay is Jon’s brother and was an Offensive Assistant Coach with Tampa Bay during that season (and up til ’08).

So what should we expect? Smash Mouth Football. We’re talking Fullback in the back field running in front of our Running Back and clearing massive holes style. This is the kind of change you would expect to see for a team planning on keeping their current Running Backs and losing major names in the passing game. So long as the Offensive Line holds together and we can keep up the production we’ve had on the Defense and Special Teams it could mark a stark difference from this year where we had no real identity on Offense. It also means having someone in the O.C. job that will hold the Offensive players accountable for everything they do both on and off the field.

Filed under : Uncategorized
By dhert
On February 3, 2011
At 5:39 pm
Comments : 0

Violence in Egypt, Day 2.

After 15 hours of violence yesterday everything had finally come to a calm. Anti-Mubarak demonstrators set up what looks like a patchwork wall and base camp in Tahrir square. This morning at around 9:45am EST heavy gunfire broke out around Liberation square in Cairo, the sounds were of heavy caliber automatic weaponry. Its not clear at this point if the gunfire is coming from Egyptian Military firing into the air to clear out fighting between sides or if the Pro-Mubarak side has obtained heavy weaponry.

Keeping my eyes peeled as the situation changes. Pray for all the people in Egypt, that they see peace and transition soon.

UPDATE, 10:10am EST: It has been confirmed that the sustained heavy gunfire was the Egyptian Military firing warning shots. They were clearing out Pro-Mubarak protesters from Liberation square.

CNN was shooting live yesterday afternoon when a Pro-Mubarak protester went to throw a Molotov Cocktail at the Anti-Mubarak crowd when he failed horribly and set himself on fire. Chances are the poor guy was injured badly, as he ran after it happened rather than stopping, dropping and rolling.

Clarification: Liberation Square and Tharir Square are the same thing. It’s absolutely beyond me why there are two different names for it.

UPDATE, 5:15pm EST: Here’s a story no one else is really talking about anywhere else and something I’ve been saying to keep an eye on. Silent Protests in Saudi Arabia, which is much bigger news than it may seem to someone outside of the region. Saudi Arabia is quite possibly the most stable country in the Middle East and silent protests there could lead to much bigger things no one would really expect.

Filed under : Politics
By dhert
At 5:00 am
Comments : 0

Violence in Egypt

Violence has broken out between whats being described as “Pro Mubarak” demonstrators and “Anti-Government” demonstrators in both Cairo and Alexandria. For now they’re only throwing rocks at each other, though injuries are still mounting. What we’re seeing is an absolute travesty and we can only hope that order returns to the region soon.

Watch what’s happening here.

NBC’s Brian Williams is reporting that this all started when paid government “thugs” were interjected into the crowds and thats when this violence broke out. This claim would make sense given the protesters from both sides were very peaceful and working together up until today. UPDATE, 10:45am: Al Jazeera was just showing video from earlier today where Protesters were holding up IDs of Police force members who came in and started violence amongst the groups.

Military has taken over the Egyptian Museum and have been using it as a base. Warning shots have started to ring out over the crowds and are clearly audible on Al Jazeera’s live feed.

UPDATE, 2:00pm: Pro-Mubarak supporters have begun using Molotov Cocktails, Whips, Sticks and Swords over the past several hours. Reports indicate that ~750 people have been injured, Egypt’s Health ministry reports closer to 400 people. More Pro-Mubarak supporters have been “taken into custody” and Egyptian Police ID’s have been found on them, making it pretty clear that the Egyptian government is involved in this violence.

UPDATE, 4:30pm: More evidence has come to light that the Pro-Mubarak supporters have been bussed in from the country side and in many cases are being organized by the National Democratic Party, which currently runs the government. CNN has been hearing from many Pro-Mubarak demonstrators that they work for the government and there have been many rumors that these supporters are being paid for their being there. This MSNBC article sheds a lot of light on the situation.

UPDATE, 10:00pm: Reports from Anti-Mubarak demonstrators in Tahrir Square on Al Jazeera are that shots have been fired coming from the Pro-Mubarak crowd. Egyptian military are still sitting on the sidelines while all of this goes on, but some fear if they don’t intercede soon that this could turn into an absolute tragedy.

Filed under : Politics
By dhert
On February 2, 2011
At 10:18 am
Comments : 0