David Lane

About David Lane

I Hope We Got A Good Price For It

Twitter erupts over Trump claim that the moon ‘is a part’ of Mars

While it is clear 45 mis-spoke, it is not the first time he has said something that is so bizarre as to make many Bushisms (Bush II) seem like logical, well thought out arguments, the truth of the matter is that 45 just is not articulate. And that is being polite about it.

Put aside for the moment that the United States does not have the scientific will to return to the Moon, much less stage a mission to Mars, it does not have the political will to do so. With so many tangible problems on this planet, I can appreciate not funding a lunar mission. However, if funding a lunar mission kickstarts scientific funding for other, viable projects on Earth, then let’s go back to the Moon!

Otherwise, I hope Marvin gave us a good price.

The Realities of Contract Work

About three months after the longest government shutdown in history came to an end, leaders of companies and unions representing federal contract workers are speaking out, asking for legislative changes to ensure that their employees are guaranteed back pay if another shutdown occurs. WTOP

The latest Federal Government shutdown lasted thirty-five days and affected eight hundred thousand contractors, everyone from the men and women that empty the trash, to the men and women that write the software that fly the unmanned aircraft used by the military.

I ask that we work together to find a way to enact legislation that will treat the contractor workforce just as their federal workforce counterparts are treated —Leidos CEO Roger Krone.

Mr. Krone’s supposed concern for his employees notwithstanding, this is about the money Leidos and other federal contractors lost during the shutdown. Let me explain how it works. A contractor is a body with a value attached to it. That value is a combination of their salary, their benefits, and a number of other factors at play within the company that is loaning their services to the Federal Government. What is called the loaded rate. That loaded rate would astound you (or perhaps not – that $10,000 toilet seat. That was as much the cost of labour as the cost of materials). If I am employed at an annual salary of $130,000, I would be making about $60/hour. Now, we add to that the overhead costs, etc from the company and I am being sold to them at a rate of $120/hr.

This is about the money, and not the money lost by the contractors.

The argument or at least the parallel is that the Federal Employees got their money, the contractors should too. I am of two minds about this. I can see the argument that the Federal workforce was involuntarily furloughed. In labour law, it is slightly different from being laid-off, but the effects are the same. If Ford had furloughed a line, those employees would not be paid for their time off. Similarly, the contractors would not be paid.

Companies are often left with two choices during a shutdown, he said: pay their employees and go out of business, or withhold pay and see their workforce leave them.

He is correct. Contractors actually live on a very small margin with Federal contracts. And they do have a significant risk that their employees will walk out on them if they are not paid. And that is the risk of contracting in general. You take a job with a contractor knowing that at some point your contract will expire. Some companies recognize this, make allowances for it, and protect their employees, to a certain extent, while others are less concerned. In fairness to Leidos, they tend to protect their employees, but they have lost their margin over the thirty-five days, through no fault of their own because the government (the paymaster) was not doing their job.

How this compensation should be addressed is not a simple issue. Being paid to not work is not going to be successful. And 800,000 federal contractors did not work for thirty-five days. Unlike Federal Employees, contractors had the option of looking for work or taking unemployment, or annual training or leave. I am not sure contractors should expect back pay. But as a former Federal contractor, I can feel their pain. There is no easy solution.

Adults In Charge

In report, Mueller says Congress could take action on Trump obstruction

While most of official Washington is busy losing their minds today over the release of the Mueller report, this particular call out caught my attention.

“The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.”

What is harrowing to me, is that, had people like former chief of staff John Kelly not been in their jobs, then the current President of the United States would and quite likely could have been successful in interfering in the investigation and quite likely would now be facing some form of repercussion.

This begs the question. What other orders have they declined to carry out, and to the betterment of the country or the detriment of the President?

There is no question that the current President lacks certain qualities we might expect in a President. Worse, this President seems to not want to be President, yet clearly thinks that since he is, the Government should be run like a company, not a nation. And as a nation, the United States is paying the price. And will continue to pay the price for generations to come. History will not be kind to number 45, but what worries me, is now that the adults have been cleared from the room, what sort of havoc will be wrought on the country. I am not sure the nation is ready for it.

Greatest Opportunity of All Time

An open letter to all recruiters, past, present, and future. If you are serious about attracting top talent into hard to fill positions, you need to put as much effort into finding us as we put into finding our positions. It is not enough to have a catchy title, that title actually has to be meaningful. Most of us have been in the industry more than ten minutes so a headline like this is meaningless.

Greatest Opportunity Of All Time!

Even if it really is our dream opportunity, most of us will ignore an email with that title as junk because it means you have not done your homework.

Hello! I am a Sr. Technical Recruiter from an IT Staffing Firm, 1. I am reaching out in regards to possible job opportunities that we have in the area that match up very well with your profile. You have an excellent background and I know we can find the next best opportunity for you!

Again, I am skeptical. You did a keyword search, that’s good, but do I really match up? How?

We have a DevOps Lead specializing in Azure technologies in the Washington, DC area supporting the Federal Agnecy. US Citizens Required

Ah, you did not even do a keyword search. If you had, you would have discovered that I have zero experience with Azure, and I have never worked at the agency you are sourcing, and the law of averages says you should have hit my agencies, although I have neutered my profile and taken the agencies I have supported out of it.

If you are finding it hard to attract top talent, then perhaps you should review the tactics you are using to get their attention.

  1. I have removed all incriminating names to protect the guilty, but I get several of these a week with the same template.

When Security is Not Secure

There are wide variations in the quality and security of identification used to gain access to secure facilities where there is potential for terrorist attacks. In order to eliminate these variations, U.S. policy is to enhance security, increase Government efficiency, reduce identity fraud, and protect personal privacy by establishing a mandatory, Government-wide standard for secure and reliable forms of identification issued by the Federal Government to its employees and contractors (including contractor employees). HSPD-12

The Commonwealth of Virginia is the latest state to move to RealID. And again, I ask, why?

For those who have not followed the issue, following the attacks on September 11, 2001, a number of these Homeland Security Presidential Directives were issued. Number 12 forms the basis for the RealID standard. Other documents in this bucket include the CAC/PIV card used by the Federal Government, Passport, Global Entry, and yes, driver’s licenses. And if you have blindly, or even grudgingly handed over your personal information to these agencies, you probably did not think about the actual directive. But since this new ID allows you to board an aircraft, you probably did not blink. But perhaps you should. After all, unless you are issued a CAC/PIV card, what sort of security is this new ID providing?

I will wait.

Still confused? Let me help you. The process likely goes like this. You handed over your old driver’s license, your passport or immigration status card, your social security number, and some proof of residency to a clerk at the DMV (mine had a passing familiarity with English) and boom, you have a RealID card that will get you access to airplanes, military bases, and other government buildings. You may not get past the front door, but you will get inside. And how does this enhance security? There is no background check run. There are no fingerprints, no FBI file. If, like me, you have had your driver’s license more than a week, all they do is check your eyesight and charge a processing fee. Virginia gives you the option to not get one. For a lower fee.

CAC/PIV cards are completely different. They do a background check. With fingerprints, and an FBI file. But not with most of the other documents.

Feel more secure now? Oh, and China called. They are willing to sell you your file back. For less than the processing fee you just paid.

The Credibility Gap

US bars entry of International Criminal Court investigators | WTOP

The United States will revoke or deny visas to International Criminal Court personnel who try to investigate or prosecute alleged abuses committed by U.S. forces in Afghanistan or elsewhere, and may do the same with those who seeking action against Israel, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday.

The next time the US cries about an international war criminal running free – Julian Assange, Edward Snowden – and asking why they are not being held to account, I am going to point back at this decision.

Words Have Consequences

The white supremacist who livestreamed his Friday rampage at a New Zealand mosque posted a manifesto online that said the attack was partly inspired by Dylann Roof’s 2015 massacre of nine black churchgoers in South Carolina, police said. Washington Post

It is easy to say that these individuals have a screw loose. Or a at least a warped sense of community, but as we continue to suffer under the vitriol spewing forth from arguably one of the most important people on the planet, we continue to see this sort of self-enforcement of views. There are two ways to solve this problem. The first is to realize that the world is changing and that means everything you hold dear (yes, I am being sarcastic) will change with it. The second thing is that using a gun to solve the problem does not actually accomplish anything.

If you are not willing to talk civilly with the person next to you, then say nothing. Just because you disagree does not mean you have to shoot them.

Can I Get The Recipe for That – Scampi

As part of the Italian dinner at the Ristorante Italiano I served last night, we had a lovely Scampi. And for those that liked it, and want to make it themselves, here is the recipe.

Ingredients

4 cloves of garlic, 2 grated, 2 thinly sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound of large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
Warm crusty bread (for serving)

Directions

  • Whisk grated garlic, salt, and one tablespoon of olive oil in a medium bowl. Add shrimp, toss to coat, and chill, uncovered, at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.
  • Heat remaining two tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the shrimp mixture, being careful not to let shrimp or garlic brown, until shrimp is pink but slightly underdone, about one minute per side. Transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon, leaving as much oil in the pan as possible. Add sliced garlic and red pepper to the skillet and cook, tossing, until fragrant, about one minute. Add wine and lemon juice and cook occasionally stirring, until reduced by half, about two minutes. Add butter and cook, stirring and swirling the pan occasionally, until butter is melted and sauce is thickened about five minutes.
  • Scrape shrimp along with any accumulated juices into skillet. Toss to coat and cook until shrimp are fully cooked through, about two minutes. Transfer to a platter, top with parsley, and serve with bread for dipping alongside.

Electric Cars, and the Distance Problem

What automakers aren’t telling you about electric vehicles | WTOP

There are two critical issues in play that are hampering the wide spread adoption of electric cars in the United States. First:

Cold weather can cut range significantly – by even one third…Lithium ion batteries are subject to temperature sensitivity. In California this is not an issue. In polar vortex conditions, these vehicles wouldn’t get far.

Secondly:

It takes nearly 13 hours for the high-voltage battery to get a full-charge when starting at zero percent …We are used to 5 minutes at the pump and going.

The United States is not a small country. When you consider the road network of North America, it is even bigger. Sure, not everyone drives through the hinterland of Pennsylvania every year, but a large number of people do drive more than 200 miles regularly. When you discount the need for temperature issues, you still have the problem of filling the tank. Several cities are starting to install electric charging stations, but they are one or two per jurisdiction, compared to hundreds of gas pumps. Worse, when you consider that the majority of vehicles are driven to and from work, you would expect that some companies would find it in their best interest to install charging stations. Sadly, most companies rent their space, which means that building management needs to install the chargers. And so far, there has not been a hue and cry requesting them, so they are not installed, which means that commuter has to be aware of their distance, their stop and go, and other features, like air conditioning usage, radio, lights, phone charges, etc. All take a toll on the life of the batteries, which means needing more charging.

Electric cars have some advantages, but so far, the negatives outweigh the positives for most people.

After 2000 Years, Nothing Has Changed

In an open letter, Cardinals Burke and Brandmüller say the Church has wrongly blamed the abuse of power by clergy as the main cause of the scandals. Catholic cardinals urge end of ‘homosexual agenda’ – BBC News

The Catholic church is in the center of a scandal of their own making. They continue to hide behind stories, fables, and parables meant to explain what at the time was unexplainable. Written at a time before sanitation, the understanding of germs, and bacteria, and before humans understood genetics, and even how the body functioned. A set of documents, curated to answer the requirements of a government looking to further repress its own people, by a ruler who could have cared less about what was and was not included in the Good Book. Yes, some two thousand years later, they are still bound by these outdated ideas, outmoded ways of thinking, and frankly, perversions of philosophical ideas that were never meant to explain how things worked. And now a group of old, white men are saying that it is not an abuse of power but a pushing of an agenda that is leading the Church astray?

Please, it is time the Catholic Church took a good, long look in the mirror and joined the rest of the world in the current century. Their repression of the world at large has come to an end. It is time they recognized this.