Friday, August 31, 2007

Rising crime rate in Lehigh Acres a concern

Alert: For an update on 2010 trends and 2009 crime statistics for Lehigh Acres, please access my newest posting.

Some months back I've commented about the crime rates in Lee County going up. Specifically, I was shocked at the homicide incident where I used to work, near the Teleperformance / CallTech building in Fort Myers. The area used to be safe a few years back, but now it is a major crime spot.

Lehigh Acres, the new crime center of Lee County
Another major crime spot popping up is Lehigh Acres. Gangs have moved from the expensive Collier region and moved to Lehigh Acres. Law enforcement officials have been seeing increases in meth labs in Lehigh homes as well as increases in violent crimes.

This month alone, we've seen gunmen shoot down, Jack Abrahamsen, an innocent 64 year old man at a Chevron gas station. The gas station is located on Lee Blvd and is the busiest road in Lehigh. Despite the fact that there were probably many witnesses to the crime, the assailants managed to escape. Also last Thursday, the sheriff's office reported a crime spree of burglaries in Lehigh. Car washes, a casino, an auto body shop, and other locations have been robbed.

Dave Zangari, the owner of the auto body shop, said everyone is getting sick of the increased crime in Lehigh. "Look out because all us shop owners are looking out, and if we catch anybody on our property who's not supposed to be there, I'm afraid there's going to be a lot of problems, and it's not going to be good," said Zangari.

But its not only businesses that should be careful. Even at your house, you might get robbed. On the 15th of this month, four teens were arrested for carjacking. They attacked a man right in front of his Lehigh home. The teens were: Thayer Evans, 17, Bobby Redmon, 15, Aaron Madison, 16, and Jean Desgrottes, 16.

And that's not all...
And just in case you thought that was it...yes there's also some weird junk going on in the area. They've found a human skull in Lehigh on 14th Street West near Lee Avenue. The skull had ceramic pots with sticks pointed out. Officials have speculated it might be some sort of ritual.

Lehigh is growing, with a growing population and a healthy number of businesses. However, there is also a criminal culture brewing. The criminal activity isn't limited in adults either. It has spread to our teens in the area. When I look at racial demographics, a significant portion of the criminal activity in Lehigh Acres this month has been caused by African American youths. This is not hate speech, just facts. Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott also thought there are possible cultural factors involved, specifically highlighting violent rap lyrics.

These kids will end up behind bars if they are not taught about the basic values of life. I'm sure they all know robbing or shooting someone is not acceptable in our society. But they need to believe the reason behind why we aren't suppose to hurt other individuals. Parents need to teach them the values of life, that all human beings were created in the image of God. We need to teach them that they are not animals with no purpose like what textbooks are telling them.

As for rap music, even if we could even ban all the violent lyrics and violent video games in the world, the fact of the matter is, these youths will choose a lifestyle that they are used to. The parents need to step up and offer more choices than the life of crime. Bring them to church and have them respect life, give them hobbies and career-based interests that give them hope, and spend time with them so they respect you.

My two cents worth...

Thursday, August 30, 2007

WMDs from Iraq UN office?

The CIA and the Bush administration have been labeled as liars in the past few years for their failure to retrieve any traceable amount of chemicals, nukes, or other types of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in Iraq. This was the primary reason after all why Congress authorized to preemptively attack Iraq (not the fact that Saddam was a ruthless dictator killing his own people and attacking the likes of innocent countries like Kuwait).

What I find interesting today is that the United Nations found a small quantity of Saddam's nerve gas in their own offices in New York! Someone apparently 'forgot' they were stored there. The United Nations, whose member states have been very critical of the Iraq war for our inability to find WMDs, have some very interesting questions to answer:

1. Why do you have Saddam's nerve gas stored in your New York office? (I have been there.)

2. If they were forgotten by previous U.N. inspectors years ago, what does that say about the United Nations' ability to do their job in documenting weapons of mass destruction?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Should we rebuild New Orleans?

New Orleans is surrounded by water, protected by walls that can't withstand category 5 winds.

Presidential hopefuls have been giving promises and speeches lately. They've been promising to help rebuild New Orleans, bring home insurance rates down in the area, and restructure FEMA. These are good sound bites but we seem to be failing to address the basic question we should ask about New Orleans: should we rebuild it?

The Danger
New Orleans is located below the sea level. Levees and pumps are the only things protecting the city from being flooded. As we have seen in Katrina, it takes only one part of that wall damaged before you'll see entire neighborhoods being wiped out by water.

Taxpayers Paying For Risk
Initially they estimated that it would take $3 billion to redo the walls back to pre-Katrina levels. We've just recalculated the costs and now we're sitting around $15 billion. You and me will now pay $15 BILLION to wall up a city and there's truly no guarantee that it could withstand another Katrina. How's that for investment risk?

As a taxpayer, I would prefer not to pay for projects right outside of disaster zones. For instance, would you build a neighborhood right outside an active volcano? You'd say, that's insane! Well that's what presidential hopefuls are asking the American people -- build right outside of a disaster zone.

Where Should They Go?
I understand that there are a lot of people in New Orleans that are poor and are below the poverty line. I would rather invest the $15 billion in helping those individuals get an education and job training so they can work and live outside of disaster zones and flood-zone areas.

I understand the locals and a good number of the American people take pride in New Orleans and all of its rich, cultural and musical history. But when it comes to life and death, wouldn't our ancestors prefer their people be saved from yet another probable disaster?

In short, yes, let's celebrate our history and the dead men that made it, but let's also make history by learning from our past and saving lives.

FL car drivers lose Oct 1 no fault protection

Florida's going to be losing no fault insurance by Oct 1 if state lawmakers don't act fast. There has been outspoken criticism of the no fault insurance law for over 30 years. State Farm for instance wants to remove the law so they could pass the savings to their customers. The problem though, is that it will no doubt increase court costs and would require consumers to spend more time in court just to get a claim.

At the moment, if you were in an accident, each insurance company would be entitled to pay for their own customer. If the no fault insurance law is removed, the court must find which person was at fault through a lengthy and often expensive court case.

Here's the winners and losers if the no fault insurance law expires without legislative action this October:

  • Lawyers would have more work.
  • Larger insurance companies could advertise lower rates.
  • Drivers that defy statistics and don't have accidents will have lower rates.

  • Doctors and outpatient clinics wouldn't be paid immediately until the court figures out which insurance company is at fault. Drivers may be denied treatment.
  • Drivers that have an accident and get injured would have to wait for the court to get compensation for loss wages and injuries.
  • Small insurance companies would effectively shutdown as their legal fees increase. Larger insurance companies would be able to gain market share, effectively reducing competition.

Bottom Line
There is no magic solution to the no fault law. They could perhaps reduce the no fault PIP requirement (from $10,000 to $5,000) to reduce insurance rates, but still keep the law (a compromise of both camps). Either way, this fair law, will disappear if you don't let your state legislators know your opinion.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Should the Feds save Wall Street?

I wrote earlier about my thoughts regarding the recent drop in Wall Street. But there's been a lot of calls right now for the Feds to cut rates further and help the market from the credit crunch. But should they do it? Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: Some have asked, should the Feds reward the speculators who did this in the first place? By giving them a lifeline, they might just do it all over again. While punishing a small group of financial companies would be fair right now, we need to recognize that there is an overall effect of this fallout that's hurting the innocent.

The Feds must utilize their monetary policies and powers to protect the livelihoods and the economy of the American people, the majority of which had nothing to do with the speculative lending but are now affected by it.

Or the Fed could just say, life isn't fair. Tough.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Day 5: Izmir, Ephesus

On Day 5, we went to Izmir, Turkey. Izmir is the third most populous city of Turkey and the country's largest port after Istanbul. But compared to the port of Istanbul, Izmir is more geared towards industrial ships, so the captain of Carnival Freedom had to manually navigate this busy port.

After we docked, we boarded the tour bus. Cruise ships usually assign a number to each group and the group boards the corresponding tour bus as seen below.

We went to Izmir to visit Ephesus, one of the most important port cities in ancient time. It had one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Temple of Artemis. It was destroyed by a fanatic on the same day Alexader the Great was born (356 BC). When it was rebuilt, it was again destroyed. This time by the Goths (262 AD).

Base of Christianity
If you are a Christian, you should definitely visit Ephesus. Paul used it as the base of his operations. In fact, he had some problems with some of the local population because he was converting people from false gods to Christianity. Local tradesmen were getting angry because they were losing their income -- nobody wanted to buy the idols of the false gods anymore.

The Riot in Ephesus (Acts 19:23–41 NIV)
23About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way. 24A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in no little business for the craftsmen. 25He called them together, along with the workmen in related trades, and said: "Men, you know we receive a good income from this business. 26And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that man-made gods are no gods at all. 27There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited, and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty."

28When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" 29Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul's traveling companions from Macedonia, and rushed as one man into the theater. 30Paul wanted to appear before the crowd, but the disciples would not let him. 31Even some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, sent him a message begging him not to venture into the theater.

32The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there. 33The Jews pushed Alexander to the front, and some of the crowd shouted instructions to him. He motioned for silence in order to make a defense before the people. 34But when they realized he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison for about two hours: "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!"

35The city clerk quieted the crowd and said: "Men of Ephesus, doesn't all the world know that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image, which fell from heaven? 36Therefore, since these facts are undeniable, you ought to be quiet and not do anything rash. 37You have brought these men here, though they have neither robbed temples nor blasphemed our goddess. 38If, then, Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a grievance against anybody, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. They can press charges. 39If there is anything further you want to bring up, it must be settled in a legal assembly. 40As it is, we are in danger of being charged with rioting because of today's events. In that case we would not be able to account for this commotion, since there is no reason for it." 41After he had said this, he dismissed the assembly.

John, the beloved disciple and Mary, the mother of Jesus

Before Jesus died on the cross on Friday, rested on the Saturday (Sabbath), and rose on Sunday, He told John to take care of Mary. This is why many scholars place Mary in Ephesus, the same area where John was living and where John died.

The hill below is the supposed burial area of John. The Turks built fortications near the church years down the road.

More from Ephesus

On this hot summer day, there were thousands of visitors!

Ephesus had public pools and public restrooms. This guy was nice enough to show how it was done 2000 years ago. And no need to flush back then, there's constant running water underneath from the acquifer.

Forget the movie theater, they had live performances in this ampitheater. Carved on a mountain, this was an incredible feat for people that didn't have jackhammers and other modernized tools. Click on the picture and take a close look how big the people are compared to the ampitheater.

Celsus Library completed around 135 AD.

VMware surges on IPO opening, but be careful

Still yet to finish my vacation pictures...but couldn't resist posting this.

Various news organizations reported that VMware's IPO has surged in stock price due to the increased demand for their software. This is an incredible feat for what seemed like a small company back in the day...

My experience with VMware and their staff
Several years ago, my network security team released a security advisory back in June 1999 on how to exploit the product in Linux. We found two serious security problems in its infancy. As a courtesy, we gave the manufacturer enough time to fix the bugs and stop their production line and walked them through the problems.

I found VMware's management to be responsive, and was able to adequately resolve issues within a short amount of time. They were also friendly, and cordial on the phone. And they gave us free licenses... :-)

Product line and questions of future growth
I think it's safe to say that VMware dominates the current virtual machine market. Being able to run multiple operating systems and processes on one machine is a cool and practical product, but is VMware able to deliver consistent growth with one product?

I know Google's been able to do it with advertising, and Apple's been able to do it with iPhone/iTunes. The question is, can VMware deliver? I hope so.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Wall Street thoughts

I haven't finished my vacation pictures, but I wanted to comment on recent Wall Street issues.

Wall Street, a few weeks back reached 14,000 points and then it suddenly fell 800 points. Why? There's a scare out there that mortgages are failing and subprime loans are going to hurt commercial lenders. While this is partly true, much of it is based on speculation. The housing market is roughly 5% of our economy and even if half the mortgaged homes of America fails, that's still 2.5% of our country's overall strength.

Also, how does the housing market affect the likes of Google, Boeing, and other stocks? It doesn't. Yet people are selling their stocks in these good, strong companies.

What does this mean for you? Stocks are now "discounted" from their 3 to 5 year highs. In short, this is the time to buy if you have any extra cash. Even $100.00 right now could help you down the road (ie: $10,000 in WalMart in 1975 is now worth $25 million).

Tips in this market:

1. Setup an account like on or etrade or other online brokerage. Many of these brokerages have no minimum balance requirement, so you could invest with a meager $100 or a solid start of $10,000.

2. Research stocks that you know (ie: products you use). If you know it's always in high demand, and it is a long lasting product that you keep buying or using, why not invest and own the company? Quick example: who makes your toothpaste? Have you ever stopped using toothpaste?

At any rate, buy, hold, and win for your retirement. Save the money you use for cigarretes or Harry Potter memorabilia and invest it instead for your future.