Thursday, December 28, 2017

PR Over Service

You may have noticed there are radar speed signs in Dunwoody. You may have heard that an allegedly drunken driver took a plow thru the DUMC tree retail operation[1]. In fact you may have seen the DUMC kerfuffle on the Police Facebook page. Where you might also have noticed how the PD is chowing down at a trendy local restaurant[2].

That's right, unsolved murders[3] and all, the police have time for constant updates on social media. Some top brass have their own web sites where they publicly polish their own brass[4]. It seems Council's sycophantic symphony of praise leaves a few interludes to interject a self-congratulatory chorus of How Great I Art.

What you will not notice in the detritus of this public relations campaign is meaningful information. Like what, you ask? Glad you asked. Remember those radar speed signs. They can actually collect data on every vehicle passing by. That data could be made available to the public, to inform the public, to serve the public. But it isn't. And it will not be. Why? Because the PD is too busy tweeting and face-booking. And that is just one example. Of many.

So here is a new year's resolution for our elected officials and their city manager: let's make this the year that we replace Grogan and his brass-heavy tribute band with leadership that is interested in serving this community. And when we get our officers to put down their tweeters and get back to the job we might really consider paying them a living wage.

[1] Do they have a business license for that? What, because it is a church? Could they sell booze w/o a license? Why not?
[2] It seems that the "International Association of Chiefs of Police Law Enforcement Code of Ethics" explicitly forbids accepting gratuities defining this as anything you receive by virtue of your profession. That would include free and discounted meals. Unless you're in the Dunwoody PD.
[3] The unsolved Abbotts murder
[4] If it were something other than brass you could go blind doing that.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Thursday, December 21, 2017

They Have A Name For It

They call it "supply-chain attacks."

These are cyber attacks making stream encryption, two factor authentication, finger print scans and questions about your first dog a Maginot Line. How do they do this? By leveraging the humans who operate a company's network rather than the technology these humans operate.

You might want to ponder this the next time you align with the Flat Worlders' View. You may think you're doing business with the First Baptist Bank of Dunwoody, but they're giving their business and your information to India, Inc.--where they don't even have to attack the supply chain, it's handed over to them. That's why you keep getting those phone calls from "Dave" who sounds more like he's from Bangalore than Bangor. You see, they already have all your information and now they want your money. You can give it Dave or they can just take it.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Holiday Horror Classics

The recent real-life horror of the ATL power kerfuffle reminds us of what can (and will) happen when a complex system is confronted with the prospect of what in isolation seems like a simple, single failure. The entire house of cards collapses and the KaseemKeishaKingdom has more than a little difficulty sorting Humpty's mess. The problem is of tragic proportions when a company secondarily noted for being closed on Sunday delivers food to stranded travelers. On Sunday.

But it is also a time to reflect. On what is. What was. And what just might be. In the spirit of the season TOD will offer some reading recommendations to scare the bejeezus out of you this holiday season.

Topping the list has to be Ted Koppel's Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath, a well researched treatise on the fragility of the nation's electrical grid. While the title focuses on the prospect of a cyberattack which resonates with today's "the Russians are coming! the Russians are coming!" terror-mongering the author does reflect on lower-tech approaches to flip the switch on our darkest days. No high tech, no frightening assault rifles required. Nor commandeering of any fuel laden transports. Just a few disgruntled bubbas (aren't they always bubbas?) with deer rifles, decent aims and a middling, operational understanding of the magic of PGP and we could see the grid dropping like pine trees after a blizzard. The ease of creating the calamity is just a tease as the real horror is our country's inability to survive for more than a few days without power. "What do you mean you cannot pump gas without electricity? Who knew?" He offers one ray of hope for those who want to survive: become a Mormon. THEY know.

For those a little more into Charles Manson than Hitchcock there is the legal thriller from Timothy Sandefur: The Permission Society: How the Ruling Class Turns Our Freedoms Into Privileges and What We Can Do About It. This is a story about how you, the reader, may think you are a prince when in fact you have become a frog. A slowly boiled frog. Unlike Lights Out, religion offers no refuge. You're screwed. Your parents were screwed. Your grandparents were screwed. And it is only getting worse. It becomes like a twisted version of bells and angels' wings from It's a Wonderful Life: whenever you hear "there oughta be a law" you know someone is getting screwed. More times than not that someone is you. While the title promises a way out it only raises false hope. There is no way out. You cannot even chew your arm off to escape this one.

While fact is often more frightening than fiction and some say fear of the unknown is greater than any other, it is Lionel Shriver's The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047 that will scare your mule. This dystopian novel set in the not so distant future depicts a United States after the Social Democrats have their way. Based on simple economic truths running headlong into persistent political expediencies the US economy and social fabric collapses like an imploded 20 year old football stadium. Virtually nothing in Shriver's novel stretches credulity leaving the reader convinced that this future is highly likely, if not entirely unavoidable. Spoiler alert: there is a wall on our southern border; Mexico did pay for it; and they built it to keep us out.

You may think these are fairy tales where bad children get baked in a witch's oven. But look around. We've got electrical infrastructure so fragile that a City Councilman felt compelled to dress down company managers in a public meeting (to be fair that was probably just political grandstanding) and parts of Dunwoody did indeed lose power in the recent snow storm. The very existence of the City of Dunwoody is an affectation of a ruling class benefiting from more government, more restrictions, more regulations and more permits, all at your expense. If recent run-ups in gold and bitcoin haven't convinced you that the value of currency is NOT the full faith and credit of a government and its bureaucrats but instead the faith of those holding that currency then you really haven't been paying attention. For those thinking real estate is a safe repository of wealth you might ponder that it is the most heavily taxed vehicle for holding wealth--until the government comes to get it.

So if you have the courage and would like some good reads these should find their way onto your list.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

It's Not About The Money

And always is.

Atlanta's annexation of Emory was going so well with DeKalb Commission and BOE approval after they extracted meaningless concessions from the ATL. Then Mother Maria "rose up" and demanded that APS expand its boundaries to remain the same as the City.

The undisputed facts are pretty simple: APS is getting approximately 10 students and DeKalb is losing about 2.25 million USD. Now APS will not get THAT much money as their millage rate is lower than the usurious rates imposed upon DCSD taxpayers. Based on the squealing from the usual pigs you'd think this was an enormous amount of money and if it were what you inherited from uncle Ned on the occasion of his untimely demise, it is. If you compare it to a nigh on billion dollar budget it is like that penny in the parking lot. Hardly worth the effort to bend over and pick up. Another view, one slowly surfacing, is a "gross profit" perspective. In no way are those 10 students getting 2.25 million USD of services so there is a lot of meat in that gravy. Enough to [almost] cover the compensation packages of the super and his chosen ones.

But as is common in polite society it is the taboo subject hiding the greatest truths and the topic least discussed in education is, well, learning. Not a single member of DCSD administration or board is initiating or engaging in a fact based, meaningful debate on how this change impacts learning for these 10 students. We ARE subjected to political platitudes about serving every child and protecting the interests of 102.000 students in DeKalb. Someday maybe those interests will include learning. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Thursday, December 7, 2017

What Works

Use What Works
Even in Dunwoody.

Monday, December 4, 2017