Monday, August 31, 2009

Those Stupid Mac Commercials

I think they can be cute and funny, but in the end they are misleading. You see, they are trying to equate the operating system with the hardware and that is not the case. While, to the best of my knowledge, there is only one operating system available for the Mac (what Mac says) there are multiple operating systems one can use to run their PC class machine.

Not all of those systems come from Redmond Washington either.

The Kennedy Memorial Bill

If the Democrats want to name that health care monstrosity bill after Teddy Kennedy, I say let them and so what? It is fitting and I do not think it over the top. However, it will do nothing to change the tenor of the debate or roll the bill's opponents.

August 2009

Was chilly, so chilly in fact, I am seeing a lot of google hits that this August (it is still August here) set a lot of records for chill.

Our neighbors report their raspberry bushes have lots of berries but they are small and and behind schedule. My brother was up north this morning and left for home early, he reports seeing frost and around here, Weather Underground reports a low of 41.8 &#deg; F — 14 &#deg; F below average!

More details on this to follow as I get them.

Mercury Marine — It is Over

The Mercury Marine move is now pretty much a done deal.

Over at Boots and Sabers I got into a discussion and over there one of the commentators took the position we were witnessing standard negotiating Mercury makes a crazy proposal, Union rejects, Mercury makes a more reasonable offer, and so on and so forth. I warned this was a serious situation and to believe otherwise is nothing but whistling.

Anyway the offer Mercury had on the table was valid through the end of last Saturday and the Union finally stopped dragging its feet and commenced a revote late Saturday but there was little notice provided and the Union asked Mercury to allow voting on Sunday, to which, Mercury answered no and they would not honor any votes cast on Sunday.

So, now the contract stands as is until 2012. By 2012 I would guess most of the manufacturing employees will be let go and moved out of the area or have found a new job. I am skeptical most of the manufacturing employees will be offered the chance to move.

In the meantime, there are roughly 1,100 or so jobs on the line. The corporate jobs are now up for discussion. The price of keeping those jobs rose as why would/should Mercury keep those jobs here and maintain those jobs away from their manufacturing center?

Bottom line is the corporate jobs are moving too, the only difference is most of those people will be offered the choice of relocating to Stillwater.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Mercury Marine — Revoting?

There is a petition drive going on among IAM local 1947 members to force a revote on the contract proposal. According to sources I have on Twitter they petition has around 300 of 440 needed to force the revote. I would really like to see the count of the first vote, this is no longer sounding like a "wide margin". I don't believe the union leadership on this one.

However, my recollection is Mercury management said their offer was open until today. Maybe MM is leaving it on the table?

Mercury Marine — I Do Not Think So!

Searching "the boards" I found a posting from Mercury Marine, they are looking for an HR/Oracle analyst.

Wow, that must be getting a lot of response, with the future of Mercury Marine in Fond du Lac being very much up in the air. IMO, they wasted some bucks on putting that position up and should wait until they decide if all of Mercury is to Move or just the manufacturing operations.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Busting up Some Stuff!

Today, I finished busting up some stuff with my six pound maul. Yeah, it is a splitting maul with a fiberglass handle. I got a hold of about 30' feet of maple tree ranging from 14" to 10" in diameter. I bucked the 4' and 8' sections into 16" pieces.

I like splitting wood. We are always told to be careful, gentle not too hard, softly, etc and so on. With wood splitting the intention is to use brutal force to break — to crack things into pieces.

Not too long ago I split some softwood — white birch. It is quite amazing how one notices all sorts of differences between wood species. The smells are distinctly different depending upon species. Maple is a very sweet smell, oak has an earthy almost nutty smell to it, and birch has its own smell too but I've not worked with enough of that to describe it.

Of the woods I've split oak is the easiest to split but then again, the majority of oak I've cracked it was fairly well seasoned already. The maple is all pretty green and on a number of the rounds I had to hit four-five times until the rounder finally split.

The birch was interesting. Birch as most of you may know is a soft wood that doesn't mean it was easy to split, in fact in some ways it was a challenge. The birch I had was fairly moist and the rounders would just swallow up the bit of my maul and eat it up. Once I hit it enough it would split but the bark of the birch is strong, I would have to take a whack on that to tear that apart and then the bark would peel right off. The birch rounds were very soft on the outside they seem to rot from the outside in — no wonder why birch bark can be put to use as a canoe skin it is waterproof, strong, and light. One may think birch is a bad firewood and I intend to use it to get my fires going, no I will not be throwing birch into my fireplace all night, but once it goes then the harder woods (oak, ash, maple, etc), however the birch is seasoning rapidly.

I take a special joy in cracking wood. There is little subtlety to it, sure one eyes up a piece like a diamond cutter eyes up a diamond to find an inviting split but no matter the goal is always to hit the piece with a lot of brute force. It is a thrill to see and hear the piece explode into two piece and blast away from the axe as it comes down, especially when the rounder is stubborn.

I saw someone else's writing on splitting firewood and their summary of splitting wood was — exercise with a point. Working my axe I use my arms, legs, and my abdominals. I feel little of my back getting into the act which is good, I can tolerate (even crave for) the feeling of fatigued arms, legs, and abs (the next day) I don't like the back feeling fatigued. Twice warmed they say!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mercury Marine — The Contract

One thing that is serving as a source of friction in discussing the Mercury Marine situation is in understanding what Mercury proposed and what they did not.

I have seen a number of misunderstandings of this contract and in fact I had a key misunderstanding up until the day of the vote.

The one that had me blinkered was the notion that Mercury Marine (MM) was offering a three year stay in Fond du Lac (FDL) guarantee. One needs to recall, the driving force behind this is MM's desire to consolidate facilities.

Currently, MM has a facility in Stillwater OK producing their IO engines (Their MerCruiser line) and the headquarters, their parts and accessories central warehouse, and their medium to large outboard engine manufacturing in Fond du Lac.

When I was under the notion that the guarantee was only for three years I also forgot the party about consolidation. This had me thinking MM was setting the union up to be a patsy in this. However, if the union approved the contract the carrot was to bring the MerCruiser line to FDL. How much sense does it make to move a plant from Stillwater to FDL and then say "Now, that we are all settled here in FDL, we will move to XYZ". It does not. So, this guarantee was much more solid and substantial than I had thought and others continue to think.

There are a number of people claiming the contract contained a huge pay cut. Partly true. New hires and those returning from layoff were going to get hit with the pay cut, which amounted to something like 65-70% of the current average wage. There are some people characterizing the pay cut as being company wide, it is not.

There are other items in the contract too regarding medical insurance and the retirement plan. MM wanted the employees to pay for more of their insurance and to transition away from a pension style retirement plan to a 401K style plan.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Mercury Marine — Union, Management, and State

In the discussions I see going on in the WI blogosphere mostly at Boots and Sabers there seems to be two villains. If you are coming from the left management is the villain and if you are coming from the right typically the union is at fault.

I see little discussion about the State of Wisconsin's role and by the state of Wisconsin I mean our government. I think it is this government that is most at fault. First, Jim Doyle made no obvious effort to try to broker a more favorable deal. Then our legislature seems hell bent on attacking, harassing, and punishing businesses.

Now, in good times a business can shrug off a demanding union, an apathetic governor, and a punishing legislature. In bad times, businesses need some slack. Now, perhaps not all of the previously needed factors need to loosen up, but right now we have a perfect storm here in Wisconsin and Mercury Marine is choosing to sail out of that perfect storm.

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Mercury Marine - A Full House Beats A Pair

The Journal Sentinel publishes the following:
Posted: Aug. 23, 2009 2:00 p.m.

Fond du Lac — Officials at Mercury Marine, in reaction to a union vote overwhelmingly rejecting a contract proposal, announced Sunday that the company will consolidate much of its Fond du Lac manufacturing operations with its existing operations in Stillwater, Okla.

The full consolidation is expected to take between 24 and 36 months, the company said. After the consolidation, the company said, there will be "from zero to 200" manufacturing jobs left at the Fond du Lac plant.

The consolidation is expected to begin later this year.
Source: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — Bulletin: Mercury Marine says it'll move jobs south (Rick Barrett)

Mercury Marine IAM Local Shoots Down Contract

WTAQ tweets that the Mercury Marine union voted by a wide margin to disapprove the contract offered by the company. MM management made it clear the consequence of such action would be to consolidate MM in Stillwater OK.

My understanding I was working on before was that a three stay in FDL guarantee was given to the Union and that told me MM was not planning on staying regardless of the results. However, I had forgotten part of the carrot was moving MerCruiser up to FDL, that is, the guarantee was genuine, which for a while I thought was not.

However, the Union rejected the contract and now it is up to Mercury to follow through on its threat to move their operations to Stillwater. I suspect they will.

My understanding of the new contract was that it froze pay at current levels, asked employees to take on a bigger share of insurance costs, and started to move from a pension plan to a 401K style plan. A lot of companies are taking pay cuts — not just pay freezes. As for the last two items those are standard ways of doing things now-a-days. So, union guy, loses his job, non-union guy loses his job, and FDL residents who are not employed or otherwise affected by MM get the shaft.

I know we'll see all sorts of letters and whining about the greed of corporations — fact is though — clear warnings were given and the union chose to ignore them. I will not shed a single itty-bitty tear for IAM and its members.

BTW, here is the WTAQ report.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


In my family this week a marriage of 54 years came to an end. RIP Aunt Colleen. Uncle Bill did okay today considering his sweetie is gone.

Death Don't Have No Mercy

Death don't have no mercy in this land
Death don't have no mercy in this land
He'll come to your house and he won't stay long
You'll look in the bed and somebody will be gone
Death don't have no mercy in this land

Well Death will go in any family in this land
Well Death will go in every family in this land
Well he'll come to your house and he won't stay long
Well you'll look in the bed and one of your family will be gone
Death will go in any family in this land

Well he never takes a vacation in this land
Well old Death never takes a vacation in this land
Well he'll come to your house and he won't stay long
Well you'll look in the bed and your mother will be gone
Death never takes a vacation in this land

Great God

Well he'll leave you standin' and cryin' in this land
Well Death will leave you standin' and cryin' in this land
Well he'll come to your house and he won't stay long
You'll look in the bed and somebody will be gone
Death will leave you standin' and cryin' in this land

Old Death always in a hurry in this land
Old Death always in a hurry in this land
Well he'll come to your house and he won't stay long
You'll look in the bed and your mother will be gone
Death always in a hurry in this land

Well he won't give you time to get ready in this land
Well he won't give you time to get ready in this land
Well he'll come to your house and he won't stay long
Well you'll look in the bed and somebody will be gone
Death won't give you time to get ready in this land

Make your last talk
Talk to me Death
Talk to me

Listen to the Thunder Shout IAM

Tomorrow the rank and file from Fond du Lac's (FDL) local of the International Association Machinists (IAM) votes on the contract offered by Mercury Marine. The leadership is putting it to the rank and file without comment which means they think the contract stinks.

I fear the union is going to play into Brunswick Corporation's hand here.

You may be surprised to know the play I see developing, which I will outline after the vote.

Update I
I will have to adjust my thinking on this as Mercury is talking about consolidating their manufacturing. That is, a MOVE will happen and if they make the effort to move MerCruiser up to FDL, will they then immediately turn around and move the whole shebang?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Snitch Website/E-Mail

A lot of my Facebookies and conservatives in general are getting or are concerned over the "" "snitch" e-mail address. I don't much care for the idea either, but I am no more afraid of it than I am of the things that would get the lefties all fearful under W. There are a number of reasons for this.

First is that e-mail is free form. How do I know where the e-mailer has named names? How do I know if the name is a friendly person or an unfriendly? Where is the rumor? How do I distinguish between a rumor and other narrative? How about dealing with misspellings and typos?

And as far as holding IPs that too, in general, is difficult. If the e-mail is sent via webmail service such as Yahoo or Hotmail? Sure, the IP of the originator is ultimately obtainable, but it is not easy to get unless those services include the originating IP in the header which is something I am unaware of, can someone clarify this?.

Another problem is dealing with the large volume of e-mail coming in in. A sizable amount of which includes the standard spam e.g. pitches for viogro, notices about winning the Tanzanian internet lottery, requests to help move millions of ill gotten dollars out of Togo, pitches for vicdoin, and those intentionally flooding the e-mail address (e.g. self-reporters). One can code up programs to eliminate a large number of spam notes but not all. I am sure at least one or two people set up spambots specifically to hit that e-mail.

In fact, I find it incredible an administration legend for its online talent did something so stupid (not factoring the constitutional/legal ramifications here). The Whitehouse website probably gets more visits in a minute than all of my sites combined in a year. Still, I learned a long time ago to never expose an e-mail address on a website and techniques to hide those e-mail addresses (while still using them) from spambots. In addition, every form you put up had better have a CAPTCHA challenge on it, otherwise spambots will get at you too.

The only sorta nefarious possibility is that an e-mail list is being driven from e-mail addresses obtained via the flag e-mail. E-mail addresses are easy to glean from an e-mail (in the headers, the subject, or the body) and those e-mail addresses could be harvested and used to populate an e-mail listing. Which some reporting indicates may be going on.

As far as using the identities of those submitted for nefarious purposes (e.g. IRS audits or other governmental harassment) I am extremely skeptical, of course, I expect to hear people report such activity after the next tax season is over. It will be hard to prove such a correlation either way without access to data that would be extremely hard to get.

Just because you get audited and are on the "snitch list" does not mean there is a connection, maybe you really did file a dodgy tax return and the "snitch list" is public information your tax/financial records are not.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Dr. George W. Bush

If you are not a regular reader or visitor to Blogger Beer you should know I supported President Bush, not universally, not all the time but on the whole I was behind him.

Now, one piece of lead the left tried to hang on him was he was an incompetent dummy. I dispute that notion and will observe the irony in that an "incompetent dummy" beat the Democrats twice and managed to guide the GOP to six years of holding the congress under his lead. The pendulum has swung the other way.

Now, question for those of you who support the notion of socialized health care or a major takeover by the federal government. Would you want the likes of George W. Bush running your health care system? Or even more delicious would be Sarah Palin in charge of your health care. Obama is not going to be president forever, you know sooner (I hope) or later he will return to that fancy cordoned off block in Chicago. Then what?

Saturday, August 08, 2009

The Online Reputation

One of the ideas Wretchard at the Belmont Club hits on a regular basis is that of one's online reputation. Not just individuals, but organizations. I am watching a lesson in managing one's online reputation unfold.

To sum up, a friend of mine spoke out against the health care plan at a town hall meeting. In the process of being interviewed for a potential appearance on the Neil Cavuto show a local television story was filming that interview. My friend was asked if she was a Republican or otherwise put up to her appearance, she answered both negatively. The TRUTH is she cut her ties to the local and state party well over one year ago however, the local television station found some websites she had not updated in a while. Those sites said she was a member of the GOP and active in her congressman's opponent's campaign they ran with the story and did a hit piece on her. My friend is in the middle of her 15 minutes.

On one of these sites I have an account too, and for quite some time I had let the account flounder -- going without update. I have been on top of it for sometime now, keeping it somewhat current but prior this that site also contained information about myself that was not accurate or at least not flattering (it was a disparaging comment about my former position).

Occasionally I google myself to see what is out there about myself. I am also going to start thinking about other such accounts I have that I do not actively use and drop them. If you are not using an online service that provides a public window into your life -- actively maintain it or shut it down!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Oceans of Corn

I just read an interesting movie review in National Review. One of the garden variety leftist movies coming out in the last ten years or so are those attacking the US food industry. As the author of the review says:
It was with this attitude that I went to an afternoon showing of Food Inc. I was fully prepared to hate it, expecting another lecture from the food police, another horror story about fast food.
Source: Eating is no Fun Anymore (The new documentary Food Inc. gets it just about right.) — Julie Gunlock for National Review

However, Ms. Gunlock thought the movie to contain a good kernel of truth. The movie's thesis is subsidies given to corn production create an amount of corn in excess of our nation's ability to use it and so therefore, corn is a product in search of a use. Much of that excess corn is used to make high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) that according to research cited by Ms. Gunlock is thought to play a significant role in some of our nations chronic health problems. Another factor tilting in favor of corn is tariffs on cane and beet sugar which according to Ms. Gunlock do not carry the same health risks as HFCS.

Now we get the part disappointing to Ms. Gunlock — solutions. The solutions presented amounted to the typical lefty bullet points. Buy organic, increased food safety regulations (yeah let's help out ADM some more here), buy local, buy farmers markets, etc. Strangely enough, no mention of eliminating or curtailing corn subsidies.

I do not believe the biggest obstacle to people eating better is the cost so much as time and convenience. A good ham sandwich with fresh tomato, lettuce, onion, and the like is going to be less expensive or competitive with McDonald's fare. The problem is that ham sandwich takes a bit of time and effort to make. When I am traveling, running around trying to get my Christmas shopping done or have a huge list of chores to do it is all too easy to stop into McDonalds and be in and out quickly. This applies for a lot of people and their home meals too, when shopping I see a lot of people loading up with instant dinners of one sort or another — all of which are highly processed foods containing lots of additives we normally would not put into our foods. Again, pop it into the microwave and ten minutes later everyone has their food. Again, I don't swear these off totally and we stock up on those items for surprise guests or times when we are too busy (or just not inspired).

In any event, the movie's suggestions are self-defeating. A family they claim can not afford good food so they eat cheap fast food. So the producers believe that telling that family to buy organic foods is going to change their gastronomic behavior? Their call for increased food regulation will only work to make it harder to get into food production further consolidating the positions of corporagri giants. Also, I live in Northeast Wisconsin, buying local produce is not an option for half the year or more. The solution is to attack the subsidies and while they are often pictured as preserving "The American Gothic" family truth is a lot of those subsidy dollars go to the corporagris and other wealthy "gentlemen farmers". We see corn subsidies becoming more enrooted with the push for corn derived ethanol again in detriment to better solutions.

You don't have to buy organic produce the regular produce will do just fine.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

On Organizing

It is an old saw by now - a community organizer has no position to whine when others organize.

However, one thing neither side can claim purity when trying to claim their supporters spontaneously organize. THIS is not to say such movements are illegitimate quite the contrary.

If I were to come to you and propose we support legilation proposing to provide Iron Maidens for Tots, would you go the Town Hall to support it? If I spent, 50 million bucks do you think I could get people to descend upon their legislators to demand passage? Or do you suppose it would be easier to organize an opposition?

Now with respect to the health care debate. Yes, there is organized opposition to the bill, just as there is organized support. I do not take the fact that supporters or opponents are organized to mean they are stooges of the organizers -- they are people working together to support their cause.

Now, opponents of health care reform are being dismissed as Republicans, paid insurance stooges, or plain old astro-turfers. Does it matter? It seems proponents are Democrats, unionists, or plain old astro-turfers.

I join groups on a voluntary basis groups that support MY point of view, and lets face it, none of those groups pay me to join. I receive communications from those groups and it is up to me to act on or ignore their requests. I suspect most people on both sides of this debate act in a similar fashion.

I suspect the proponents of the health care wrecking legislation (and you can report me to Linda Douglass for that impertinence) are fewer and less enthusiastic than the opponents. I suspect that proponents have been trying to turn out support but have not been as successful as opponents. I have seen a number of calls being put out by the unions and we'll see what happens, but from what I have heard the unions are already out for this one.

Obama's use of the euphemism "community organizer" was very clever, what is the plain language for community organizer? Politician.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Report This Blog

Immediately to the Whitehouse. I oppose the government's take over of the health care industry and know it will lead to a complete takeover.

One of the many things I am waiting for is to join a group of people in supporting the military's health claim system, I hope something else comes in, but that one will do. One of the things the recruiter I am working with told us in early June after the contracts were to be awarded is the government makes the rules. The government finally got around to awarding the contracts a couple of weeks later.

Now, President Obama is saying now (in the past he has been very clear about his desire for the Federal Govt to take over healthcare) is that the Federal Government would be but one choice among private companies. However, the problem is then the umpire is playing. The person responsible for calling balls and strikes is also at the plate batting. Needless to say, all pitches would be balls.

That said, the Whitehouse is pushing back against the swell in opposition to its desire to gobble up a major portion of our national economy. They charge the crowds as being "astroturf" as being organized by the insurance companies and other major opponents of this initiative. Yeah, so what? President Obama is fond of calling himself a "community organizer" or at least that is how his background is euphemistically described. The point of politics is to organize those who side with you to act as one. You know the old saying E pluribus unum out of many, one — united we stand divided we fall.

Congressman Kagen was in for an earful yesterday and today from opponents of the plan. Good, let him hear more of that and make sure the follow up when he votes per Mistress Nancy's instructions is him returning to his practice, which I hope will still be safely private.