Saturday, 4 December 2010

The Wet - Dry Vote

As most of you know from a month ago, back in my hometown's a "dry" area.  For those in urban America....this means that county-by-county or city-by-city....folks vote on the right to have alcohol available and sold.  In Bama, we have a number of counties which are still dry.

The next town next over from my hometown decided to put up a ballot and had the vote on wet/dry in early November.  It was a shocker....voted down and to stay dry....219 votes to 218 votes.  As one minister had was God who had put up vote number 219.

Most folks were willing to accept this vote, but a couple of guys were suspicious.  So days went by and they went to survey the list of 400-odd folks who had voted.  Strangely enough....two folks voted who were from beyond the city limits....which means....their votes should not have counted.  Naturally, this has thrown things into a bit of a discussion.

The mayor sat down and checked out the facts....and admits that there's a problem here that he can't did the city council.  They'd all like to redo the vote, if you asked (my humble opinion).  It appears that he questioned the two folks and it appears they voted maybe this isn't a big deal.  But they pushed this over to a lawyer, and it's now under review at the county seat apparently.

There's 218 folks right now who'd like a new vote and this and maybe another opportunity to drop a vote or two from the other side.  For the ministers of the town and faithful of the local churches....they'd like for this matter to just drop.

In small towns, it's soap operas like this that keep people active and chatting at morning coffee over at McDonalds or the local donut shop.  There's likely speculation of more than two illegal votes.  I'd also suggest that some folks are thinking of getting more folks registered to hopes of pursuing the wet vote the next time around.

The Shape of Things to Come

I live next door to Montgomery County, Maryland.  If you had to pick the one county in America most likely to go bankrupt in the next five years...this is the county.

This week, the county executive admits that the county is 300 million short on funding.  So they are discussing dozens of things to cut their budget.

The local newspaper finally got around to analyzing when things went wrong.  Over the past decade, their benefits package for all county employees....went up by 120 percent.  Salaries for employees....went up by fifty percent.  They gave each other raises on almost a yearly basis, and grinned each time that they accomplished it.

So there's going to be policemen and firemen cut from employment, and the unions aren't happy.  Libraries will be closed earlier.  After-school programs will be curtailed or terminated.

The curious thing is that as each cut occurs....the remaining employees will continue to receive their pay and benefits package....and likely see more increases over the next ten years.

I'm a statistics guy and I haven't exactly crunched all the numbers....but I would speculate in one hundred years....there will be eight (and only eight) employees for Montgomery county....each making $19.5 million a year in salary, and another $46 million in benefits.  We will know all eight employees by their first name and be well acquainted with their work time, work habits, and even what kind of coffee each of the eight county employees drink.

People will sit there in 2110, and wonder how we got to the point of affording only eight employees....and maybe my blog will still be in existence so that they can research this historical trend.

Changing the Story

There was an odd topic of science brought up this week...which most folks won't see or grasp.  There was a meeting of the global warming enthusiasts down in Cancun, lots of global warming stuff came out in the media....some pieces to hide other pieces.  Having the meeting in Cancun likely helped in this matter because they have cheap booze and the reporters and participants could drink excessively and hope that neither really grasped what the other was saying.

For a long time, scientists have been thrilling us with this idea that global warming would melt the poles and we'd all be under another ten feet of water of additional water.  In effect, New York City would be under New Orleans....part of Miami and parts of Washington DC even.

Strangely enough....some smart German scientists sat down and asked the magic question....would the fresh new water from melting poles be displaced evenly?  I had wondered about that question around ten years ago when all this worry came up in the first place.  Everyone was running around and talking about the entire globe being just one big glass and we'd all suffer.

Well....after a bunch of analysis and crunching was determined that the Earth just isn't like a glass.  It's got curves.  So the folks on the northern part of the planet would have less water than anticipated, and the folks along Africa and South America would have more.  Then the smart guys got around to discussing the effect on the Gulf Stream to a small degree.....which would radically change weather patterns completely.  They were careful at that point not to say alot because there would have to be more model studies before dumping that part of the story.

The thing that amazes me is that for a decade....a bunch of environmentalists ran around with some simplified bit of science, but the truth was that they had never really crunched the numbers or understood what they were saying in the first place.  This is the negative part of global warming and why people have lost confidence.  It's like walking into a bar and being told that anything you drink will get you drunk but the bar tender doesn't really know if beer would be better than whiskey in keeping you sober.