Friday, 28 February 2014

De-Growth Strategy?

The Daily Caller put up some article.....over environmentalists pushing some new strategy....de-grow.

Basically....in dealing with global warming and overpopulation.....this group of environmentalists at the New Economics Foundation (London) and Worldwatch Institute (DC)....are pushing this nifty idea.  Cut the forty-hour work week....consume less.....burn less power....live life less (my term, not theirs).

The guy writing the article.....says...."Think of it like camping, but for the rest of your life".

Naturally, all of this would require regulations....because people just won't listen to reason....so we are told.  Changing the tax code?  Well....yeah....because folks won't sign up, unless it's too painful to do otherwise.

So, I sat and pondered over this.

These are university certified people.....given some wit and wisdom by some professor.  They hired themselves onto a focus organization....that pays them to think like this.  If you hang around the right people.....day after day.....you get to some point of believing in things.

If you were with the Lucky Charms crowd.....working at the factory.....maybe after a while, you'd believe in Lucky Charms, Irish mythical characters, leprechauns, rainbow magic, and curses.

If you were with the Loch Ness tourism crowd.....you'd be thinking sea monsters twenty-four hours a day, looking at a big poster over your bed of Nessie as the sun rose each morning, and dreaming of a thousand ways to tell a good story over a dragon myth that came up a thousand years ago and got sent off by some Catholic priest.

So I turn back to this group who wrote this de-size or de-growth concept.

These are people who tend to sit in focus groups and chat on sustainable growth versus unsustainable growth.  They probably have never worked a day in their lives, and get some kind of paycheck from a foundation.  The foundation?  Well.....it usually has some kind of agenda that is best not discussed in public unless it’s by their agents of public statement.

To make this all simple. Anyone who thinks they’ve got the magic wand, the Holy Grail of control over business, the alchemy of economics, the enchantment of society hope and change, the sorcery of Fed manipulation to save America, and the voodoo of environmentalism to stop that terrible carbon stuff (pretend it’s pollution and it’ll freak out the savages in the village)....then they’d best start looking for a new line of work.

De-growth doesn’t work at the muffler shop. De-growth doesn’t work at Pizza Hut. De-growth has no application to beer distribution efforts or Montana ranch operations. De-growth isn’t an element of NCAA bowl choices or gimmicks. De-growth isn’t something that the NFL would use, or Delta Airlines, or Apple. I frankly can’t see de-growth being applied to Disney World, the Vikings of Minnesota, or Texas State Fairs.

Maybe CNN could use this de-growth gimmick....just grow small enough....that they disappear. Maybe in that sense....we need it.

Camping?  For the rest of my life?  I'd like to invite these guys....come on....let's do a one-year deployment to some hillside of the Appalachian Mountains.  Let's set up one or two TVs in our camp of twenty tents.  You get three over-the-air channels....no cable.  Internet?  We can allow five connections in the camp.....but now will be more than 56k, and forget about streaming video, watching Breaking Badly, or downloading a new zombie game.

Food in the camp?  No burgers, pizza or Mexican.  You grow what you need.....sip pure mountain water, with a spoon of sugar or lemon added for extra taste.

Toilet paper?  We'll help find the right size of leaves, and just rub till there's nothing back there.

Pens?  Forget about it....just number two lead pencils.

Entertainment?  As sun goes down....we will embrace, sing some James Taylor tunes, a hit or two from Steely Dan, and run through the Lady GaGa stuff.

Electricity?  Whatever our solar generator pulls down....that's it.  Need more?  Well...suck it up and just live like happy campers.

University knowledge?  Well....this is the best thing about camping...all that vast knowledge that professor So-V-So gave you on environmental stuff....isn't necessary when camping in life.  You need raw basic skills.  Forget statistics, data management, micro whatever, and French literature from 1888.  If you know something about septic tanks, skinning critters, and handling rabies.....it'd be a good skill to have.

I gave thanks to the almighty....for helping these poor folks find some foundation....that pays them something for nothing.  At least they aren't on a governmental payroll, or managing things down at my Piggly Wiggly, or running the local pub.

My humble view.

The Inside Story on Ukraine

As you sit and watch CNN....sadly because it's the only newswork left that does significant coverage of international events.....you ask yourself several questions over Ukraine....which CNN won't be asking or discussing.

So, this country of the Ukraine....just how big is it?  Well....forty-five million.  Size-wise?  It's Texas.  Yeah, it's kinda big.  Think of it as Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana combined.

So, if they were to split into two....would this make sense?

Well, this is where CNN usually drifts off with some foundation dimwit who is a PhD-kinda guy.

Spliting into two equal chunks?  Consider first....only seventeen percent of the forty-five million folks....are of Russians (more than they consider themselves Ukrainians).  The only area with prodiminetly Russian folks?  The far eastern side of the country....which they tend to refer to as the Crimea.

There's this interesting history to the Crimea.  The Crimea is this small chunk of land....hanging off into the Black Sea.  Size-wise?  It's like Louisiana.

Back in the mid-1800s....French and England waged this silly war against the Czar of Russia.....which was mostly to help their great friend and alley of the Middle East....The Sultan of Ottoman Empire.

The Sultan felt....if he could control the Crimea region....then things would be great for the Ottoman folks.  At the time....the Russians kept their vast fleet (nothing to really brag about)....there at the Crimea ports, and for Britain and France....it made sense to contain the Russians.

On the logical side of life....this was a war about nothing important for France or England.....other than waging war.

These battles over the Crimea?  Well....you wouldn't really remember them, or say much....except then it all comes back.....Alfred Tennyson would write the epic poem of the Charge of the Light Brigade.  A couple of years would pass.....and Rudyard Kipling would write The Last of the Light Brigade.  For literature fans and historians.....the battles over the Crimea are epic moments like Shiloh and Gettysburg.

The end result of this war?  It came to a conclusion.....no winner....no loser....just dead men. The Russians would lose around 140,000.  The French.....around 100,000 (although half of them were from disease).  The British?  Around six thousand died from the fighting....but they had an additional sixteen thousand men who died from disease.

For fifty years....things are kinda peaceful....until World War I.  The Germans have this fancy idea of taking this entire region.  They were successful....but as the Czar's government fell and peace talks discussed with the new Communist folks.....the Crimea was turned into a free-state.  This was a luxury of sorts....the Soviets ended up dominating them anyway.

By 1941....the Germans had returned....and took the Crimea once again.  WW II ended up with the Soviet government having the Crimea bundled up, and packaged into Ukraine.  The Ukrainians will argue about this detail....but it's a Soviet project from the 1950s on....to be forcibly connected to the Ukraine.

This small chunk of property Russian in nature?  Well....I wouldn't really sit around and say that with the Crimea folks.  They are Crimean in nature....somewhat more friendly with Russians than Ukrainians.  It might serve their purpose right now to pretend to be Russian....but the fact....bluntly....it's Crimean in nature (not Russian).

The break-up possibility?  I'll go beyond the foundation expert on CNN....it's precisely one-hundred percent.  Nothing will stop that.  The idea of a fifty-fifty split in the Ukraine?  No.  This little chunk of the Crimea will shuffle back and be its own boss.  So figure around twenty to twenty-five percent of the Crimea region will fall into this gimmick.

So now....onto an amusing part of this whole ethnic discussion.

You see.....from this forty-five million population of the Ukraine (including the Crimea).....there's roughly fifty-five different nationalities and ethnic groups.  Yeah....a literal melting pot.  There's the Afro-Ukrainian guys (Africans who came and studied at the university, then stayed on), then the Albanians-Ukrainians.

There's the Alt Danzig folks (the German settlement from late 1700s).

There's the Armenians-Ukrainians, Azerbaijanis-Ukrainians, the Ukrainian-Bessarabian Bulgarians, and the Black Sea Ukrainian-Germans (a second totally separate group of Germans).

There's the Ukrainian-Bulgarians, and the Ukrainian-Chukchi folks (a religious group who believes everything has a holy spirit....to include trees, grass, goats, etc....the Soviets really hated these guys).

There's the Ukrainian-Crimean Goths (believed to be a bunch of deeply religious German folks who came over two thousand years ago and stayed.....and you notice these three-thousand-odd folks by their Scandinavian-like appearance).

There's the Ukrainian Crimean Tatars....who are identified as half-Russian, half-Greek, half-Turk, and half-Italian.  Yeah, they kinda mingle amongst themselves, or so they say.

There's the Ukrainian-Crymy folks.....who kinda related to the Romanians....but oddly enough....mostly Sunni-Muslim.

Then you got the Ukrainian-Dregovich crowd.....who are mostly a Slav tribe in nature, and their history goes back at least a thousand years.

There's the Ukrainian-Drevlyans folks.....who are another Slavic tribe.....but noted in history as mostly folks who live in the woods.  Some history folks will say that nothing much has been said for the last eight hundred years on this society, but in numbers....they probably amount to something.

There's the Ukrainian-Gagauz folks.  World-wide....there's supposed to be roughly 200,000 of them.....but only 31,000 in the Ukraine.  Their key feature?  They are mostly Christian in nature, and pretty devoted to the Bible.

The Ukrainian-Goryuns?  The best that anyone can say is that they are a sub-sub-sub group of Russians....who really won't claim Russian status....just that they descended from the Russians.

Then you got the Ukrainian-Hungarians, the Ukrainian-Hutsuls, the Ukrainian-Italians, the Ukrainian-Crimean Karaites (who consider themselves non-Jew Jews.....yeah, go figure that one).

I could go on with the last twenty odd groups....but you get the picture.

To make this group of forty-five million Ukrainians fit.....you have to be pretty broad-minded on laws, religion, culture, respectful of family and neighborhood differences, fit the law into developing circumstances, and just kinda overlook the oddball nature of neighbors, friends, and associates.

So, for this Russian group to stand up and say how the Crimea is so special, and they need their own homeland....well, there's fifty other groups, and we could sub-divide the whole of the Ukraine up into a number of countries.....none able to really manage affairs or conduct business.  So, it'd make more sense....economically....to just let things develop as one country.

As the CNN expert tells you the story in sixty seconds.....you can kinda figure....it's just not that simple.  And for that matter.....we'd best just look from the distance and not try to spend fourteen hours getting to be experts on the Ukraine.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Minimum Wage Equals

I'm one of those people who have a problem in determining minimum wage.  Yeah.....for some reason, I just don't think of it....like most people.

For example....does the french-fry guy at McDonalds do the same rate of work as a oil change guy at Jiffy Lube?  Should a eighteen year old kid starting out at either.....deserve the same pay?

For example.....the grave-digger in Limestone County.....should he be rated at the same basic starting level as the donut-queen at Dunkin Donuts in Memphis?

For example....is minimum wage in San Fransisco.....the same rate as in Nashville?

For example....the twenty-year-old gal pumping gas and running the cash register at Johnny's Truck Stop in Iuka.....is she at the same level as the thirty-year-old guy mowing grass for a contractor on Pope Air Force Base?

For example....the twenty-one-year-old coffee guy at some mall outlet in Oklahoma City....should he be making the same as a nineteen-year-old gal working advance ticket sales at the NCAA football operation in Auburn?

For some reason, I just can't put all these people around the same pay scale....because of work, background, experience, location, and cost of living.  Is there anybody in Manhattan paying $8 an hour today for anything?  I kinda doubt it.  Is there anyone within five miles of DisneyWorld operations.....making absolute minimum wage?  I doubt that.

This idea that Congress or the President is micromanaging the nation to such a degree....and they can know better than the manager or business owner in Salt Lake City....is beyond my belief.  At best.....states might be better equipped to say what's minimum and how often it rises.  But I doubt if any state governor wants that kind of mess brewing every two to four years.

Should the national wage be set at $15 an hour?  In some places....like Seattle or Chicago....I'd say yes.  Nationally, should the wage be $9 an hour?  Well....it's hard to say if that's a smart idea.

Here's what will happen when you do a national minimum wage rise......the cost of living over the next year.....will rise.  Maybe one percent.....maybe two percent.....maybe three percent.  It's not that anyone is getting ahead.  Maybe that's the whole gimmick.....we simply think we are getting ahead, and that makes full great.  And we settle back tonight....paying fourteen cents more for a six-pack of beer, and wondering why beer went up.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

The Pentagon Cut

I've spent a number of hours reading over the Pentagon discussed idea of a massive cut on the Army (released Monday).

There are three observations to make.

First, the amount of money that it takes to run the entire US military is massive.  Anyone who thinks otherwise is kidding themselves.  If you hire up a eighteen-year-old kid.....he will be around for twenty-odd years.  You can figure almost a million will be spent on him, his pay, his benefits, his chow, his barracks, his tent, his training, his medical requirements, his social welfare, his travel, his water, and his pension.  If we were talking a twenty-two-year-old college graduate, who will be a helicopter pilot.....figure around three million spent over his career.

In the grand scheme of thing....it's a heck of a lot of money....for a near-peacetime Pentagon.  Toss in the cost of humanitarian operations and Afghanistan.....it's a fair sum of money, which has to come from tax-payers and company taxes.

Second, if this does occur.....they might as well shut down most of the US military operations in Europe and Japan....maybe even South Korea.  Bring the guys home.....tell the media that you aren't too keen on humanitarian operations, and that you won't be reacting in the same old fashion as you did in the 1980s or 1990s.

Third and final.....it is a peace dividend (2.0).  The President won't say it in public, and no Democratic Senator will dare suggest it on TV.  But it's a peace dividend.  So....here's the comical side of this cut.....it's not really cut....it'll just be moved over to another government program.  That's the sad part of the story.  When we might carve our military and shift to a smaller force....the money requirement doesn't go away.

I think if most people realized that....they'd ask stupid questions, and demand accountability with the rank-and-file of Congress.  It's an odd thing though....they kinda woke up yesterday and asked how you cut all these folks, and maintain the bases in their home districts.  For some reason....the Pentagon didn't really discuss that part.  I'm guessing it won't be pleasant for folks in Texas, Florida, or any Republican-theme state.

So, all summed up...it's a gimmick....that may or may not pass.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Adios Piers

CNN made some decision over the weekend.....to dump Piers Morgan (the guy who replaced Larry King).  No hard dates yet.....but newspapers indicate it'll be in roughly four to six weeks.

Piers?  Well....he kinda knew the numbers were bad and could not reverse them.  At present, he hints that he's hoping for some type of arrangement with CNN.....to do some type of show for them.

CNN has been changing a number of things around....trying to regain some of its past glory.  I have doubts that anything positive will come out of this.

My humble bet is that they find some Hollywood character or gal.....hustle up some gossip piece for folks at night, and hope for a twelve-month reprieve while they figure the big trend for 2016 (hint: politics).

Before Larry King came along.....CNN had a nightly topic forum, with some gal that did a pretty good job.  She didn't drag in four-star guests.....but it was interesting and entertaining.  Larry?  He got around to getting stars, nutcases, political figures, and just about everyone with some notoriety. For a couple of years....I'd catch part of his show and thought it was interesting.  By the early 90s....my interest had just about dried up on Larry King.

As for Piers?  He'd crank up fake enthusiasm, pick some liberal topic that people got aggravated over, and  you'd max out on interest in three minutes.  I'm not sure who the heck made the decision to bring Piers into the US and do the show.....but they really screwed up.

So, like the Oprah show, the Phil Donahue show, the various afternoon fake news shows.....I've come to have zero interest in chat-interview shows.  You could schedule re-runs of Bonanza during the same hour.....and I'd likely pick Little Joe and Hoss fifty percent of the time over some fake prominent political figure being interviewed.

McClures

So a history lesson today.

In the early 1890s...journalism was mostly newspapers, and a handful of monthly magazines.  Investigative analysis....was limited.  National trends triggered by magazines....was almost non-existent.

So, along came Samuel McClure.  He had cash, enthusiasm, and a desire to find the bad in people and organizations....then put it into text.

McClure would form in 1893....McClure's Magazine.  He hired some of the best writers and reporters in America...in their youth....and put together a national magazine that was read by millions.  If you had a curious notion over politics, the economy, business, or corruption....you had a subscription to McClures.

The first big inside political figure to McClure?  Teddy Roosevelt.  Teddy had a fair amount of belief in ethics and doing the right thing.  You could say that Teddy's first and only election (November 1904)....went hand-in-hand with the monthly publication and it's targets.

McClures had two problems.  First, their muck-racking business went through a brisk two-year period and really dumped heavily upon Democratic machines and corrupted business operations throughout the nation.  At some some point in 1905......they crossed the line and started to go after Republican machines as well.  Some of their evidence was absolute.....and some was lacking.  At some point in 1905....Roosevelt's tag-along stance with McClures....hit bumpy waves.  For all the good that McClures had done....they were firing away in all directions, with no political figure or party safe.

In some ways, they'd gone turbo in the first three years and used up most of their attraction to the public.

The second issue that came up in 1905....was Samuel McClure himself.  You see....he was a nutcase of sorts.  He had ample funds and probably could have been as successful as Donald Trump is today.....but he continued to overpay for his reporters, his stories, and spent money as freely as possibly.

By 1911, McClure was mostly in default.  The magazine was sold, and became a women's magazine.  McClure never recovered financially.

For a brief period of three years....McClures magazine was probably the most read magazine in the nation, and likely influenced millions in their voting pattern from 1893 to 1905.  No one much talks about this influence today, or notes how various corrupt political machines or big-name companies came to an end in this 1900-1905 era.  Even Standard Oil could not fight the massive amount of voter-pressure put upon Congress to clean up the oil business.  All....compliments of articles via McClures.

Did McClures burn bridges as they rode through?  Yes.  As the Republicans advanced and took over for the corrupted regions of the US.....they got into the same issues.  As Standard Oil got broke up....there were new corrupt companies waiting to be hit on next.

So, before CNN, Time, NewsWeak, Fox News, Drudge, and these news sources that we have today....there was McClures.  And they did a pretty good job.


Sunday, 23 February 2014

Islam and Space Travel

This past week....it got out that Muslims are under a fatwa (general Muslim order....kinda like a four-star general's direct order)....that says if you are Muslim....you can't travel to Mars.

Yeah....I had to read the various articles several times to grasp the whole deal.

It appears that some committee got inolved in this....from the United Arab Emirates.  The Committee of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment.

Their general comment on the negative to flying on such a mission....was that it would be like committing suicide, and that's one of those top ten things that Muslim cannot do.  I stopped at that point....reading it carefully.  What they tend to mean....if you were on a Jihad mission and dying was the end-result (guaranteed).....then that's not suicide, thus acceptable.  Going to Mars....is a dead-end street....thus committing suicide.

As the Quran got written....there was this verse in it that had the consequence of telling folks....don't go around killing yourself or another.  However, like the Bible....it later goes on to offer Jihad as a method of killing yourself or another, if in the interest of the religion.

So I sat and pondered over this.

I kinda noted that Star Trek....through all these episodes that I've seen....never featured an Islamic character.  Chief reason?  Well...I'd come to say that they took this Quran rule to fact, and no Muslim guys could go boldly off into the star system with Captain Kirk, Captain Picard, or Captain Janeway.  With this logic, it makes sense.

I would speculate that this fatwa will hold steady....until some Prophet or Mullah comes up....voices the idea that it's not really a big deal to travel through space and dissolves the fatwa.  Some anti-space Mullahs would then stand up and say "no way", and continue the fatwa on a different level.

How many Muslims have aspired to be astronauts or travel like Captain Kirk?  It'd be an interesting question to pose.  I doubt if there's ever been a Star Trek convention in Iran or Libya, or for that matter....Saudi Arabia.  Maybe it's not a big deal within Arab countries.  Maybe they get more into Kojack, Bay Watch, or Gunsmoke episodes...than Star Trek.

How did this come up with this committee there in the United Arab Emirates?  Well....that's the curious thing.  Some guy must have posed the silly question, and the committee spent six hours sipping tea and discussing the impact of such a topic, and just said let's issue a fatwa on this.  Maybe.  Stranger things have happened in life.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

A Blogger Story

This is a history and civics piece today.

Long ago...in the late 1700s...newspapers were carrying a heavy piece of the public view of the British-run America.  What they published....people read.  If it infringed on the British view of things....then the king's royal troops would take down the printing establishment.

As things developed with the Bill of Rights and Constitution....there was a general gut feeling that nothing should stand in the way of a public press existing. In the same view of a person having a right to say something....a press should have the same right.

After the Revolutionary War....it's an interesting thing.  The newspapers of America....kind of divided themselves into two fronts, and for sixty-odd years.....waged a sharply worded war to support their view of the North and the South, with slavery as the topic of debate.  You could say that a strong part of the coming Civil War.....will be the fault of newspapers and their aggressive nature.

After 1865.....things went in some different directions.   Papers don't make a profit.....unless they can generate excitement or attention.  So the more successful newspapers in America discovered that doing expose material, investigative reporting, and pointing out the terrible threats to the public....was the best way to ensure profits and readers.

There are various eras that come and go through this period.  By the 1920s....people have learned that the court system can easily be used to slam newspapers.  An odd thing happens.....lawyers start to become part of a newspaper staff.  Some stories fall off the plate of a newspaper....because the evidence in existence just wasn't enough to defend in court.

Editors by the 1930s.....started to get smart, and find ways to encourage reporters to keep digging.  Find the facts....establish contacts....prove your point.

By the 1950s, TV was appearing, and discovering the same issues.  If you slandered someone.....they'd take you into court....demand as a minimum of an apology, and in some cases.....cash.

The threshold of a story....got tougher.

Around twelve years ago.....blogging came along.  Everyone admired Drudge because he went after stories that weren't going to get published by the newspapers or handled by the networks.  Drudge published the Monica story.....along with dozens of other pieces.  Interestingly enough.....Drudge has been fairly right on his stories.  So far, as far as I know.....no one has taken Drudge to court.

The National Review (a blogger site) got into some recent court fights between the climate guy....Micheal Mann, and the National Review boss....Mark Steyn.  Mann held the upper card in the court episode against the blogger Steyn....until the point where Steyn counter-sued and asked for Mann's data collection to be put in full view of the court.  So far.....as least as far as I've seen....Mann just won't cooperate with that request, and the entire case brought by Mann against the blogger.....may dissolve.

So, this all brings me to the newest case of blogger legal trouble.  There is a web site out of Alabama....."Legal Schnauzer" (LS)....which had been doing a fair amount of corruption commenting from the state.  Somewhere in the fall of 2013....LS picked up this one story.

It was a gossip-type deal.  Son of a former Republican governor.....meets up with a lobbyist gal.....both married....ends up in an affair....Lobbyist gets pregnant....Republican Party shows up and pays her $300,000.  Lobbyist husband decides to divorce the wife shortly after this.  So the LS tells this whole story.

Ex-governor's son and the lobbyist gal....take the blogger who runs LS into court.  Slander.  The judge jumps into the business, and there's a fair number of issues.  It's not plain and simple.

Facts to substantiate the affair and the $300,000?  So far, it's a connection that isn't clear and absolute.  There's nothing that you'd call absolute on proof.  A statement by the lobbyist husband?  No.

The judge (a Democrat in this case).....came to say that if LS took down the story.....then things would subside and just end.  Well....the blogger felt that it was the truth and refuses.  The judge tossed the blogger into the county jail, until he complies.  Alabama law dictates this.

Well.....it's been almost five months now.  This blogger, Roger Shuler, still sits in the jail.  Right now....he is the only blogger in America....jailed for such behavior, and it's getting traction out in the various tech discussion forums and political chat areas.

Have there been screw-ups with the handling of the case?  Based on five hours of reading around the various accounts....I'd say that the prosecutor has a problem or two....the judge might have done something of a questionable nature....the deputies who tried to serve the warrant may have used brute force that was unnecessary, and the warrant itself may be questionable.

Problems by the blogger in this case?  Well....he thinks he's absolutely right, and questions legal advice given so far.  In some ways.....I'd say that he's bound and determined in this case....and will not take the story down.  Some will suggest smarter ways of handling this whole thing, and maybe Shuler is not one to view the bigger picture or legal definitions.

The current blog?  Well....his wife publishes it and continues on.

I've come to three observations.

First, bloggers aren't treated the same as newspapers.  Most newspapers look down on bloggers.  The disgust?  Well....bloggers are putting up thrilling stories....which newspapers are ever fearful of taking....because of the court activity that could get them dragged into economic trouble.  Rights for bloggers?  No.   Rights for newspapers?  More than bloggers.  Respect in the court for newspapers?  Yes.  Respect in the court for bloggers?  Rarely.  In California.....you might have some respect as a blogger.....same for Washington DC and New York City.  In Alabama?  Zero.  That won't be changing.

Second.  This $300,000 number.  I come back to look at it.  Let's say this activity did take place with the former governor's son and this lobbyist gal.  Who would have coughed up the $300,000?  The Republican Party in the state?  No.  They could never be part of this 'party'.  They might line up some supporter, and then aim him to enter the deal as an outsider.  That's the only way this would have occurred.  Who has $300,000 to wave around in the state?  In cash?  A check?  It's a small crowd when you start looking at this....maybe forty to fifty folks in the state who might be pro-Republican and that wealthy.  

Third and final.  There's the problem of slander that newspapers and news channels got into years ago.  Most are  extremely careful now about telling stories.  There has to be facts....witnesses....phone records....emails....recordings...etc.  Without that....they won't tell the story.  Fear?  Yeah......this is what they lacked in 1780, 1855, and all the way to the early part of the 1900s.  They've got fear now.  And the bloggers will eventually wander into the same amount of fear.  More and more people will use the courts to take down bloggers.  More blogs will end up as an anonymous pieces.....done by guys sitting hundreds and thousands of miles away.  It's awful hard for a lawyer to agree to take a case....against someone who is anonymous.

So here we are....a son of a former Bama governor, a lobbyist, some Republican rich guys, the Bama court system, $300,000, some brute cops, and a blogger quietly sitting in jail, and not likely to see daylight in 2014....unless some significant pressure gets pressed onto the judge or the state governor (a Republican).

You'd think the Democrats would be all over this.....but for some reason....they've sat on the sidelines.  I suspect they know a fair bit about this deal.  But why spoil the effect here?  They are quietly waiting for this ex-Republican governor's son to rise up in status.... perhaps being a state candidate for senator or governor or vice-president twenty years down the road.  Then, they will pull out the $300,000 information....and shock everyone.

Yeah, that's the way things work in Bama.  It's all out war with Republicans on  Democrats, and vice-versa.  And this blogger guy?  He's just caught in the middle.  Come the end of 2014....unless the governor gets worried about bad press....this will continue on.  Yeah.....it kinda makes the state look evil and bad.....but it's nothing new.  That's the sad part about this whole thing......more of the same.

Friday, 21 February 2014

The Leave No American Behind Act

Well....it's not really an act passed by the House or Senate....to be honest about it.

What got out of the bag in the last couple of days is this gimmick of the Federal Communications Commission....a study to be run by a contractor organization....to examine all news networks and how they produce the news.

Naturally, you'd sit there and ask some stupid questions.

The quote here for the cause of this study?  "The FCC must emphatically insist that we leave no American behind when it comes to meeting the needs of those in varied and vibrant communities of our nation -- be they native born, immigrant, disabled, non-English speaking, low-income, or other."  The quote was made by Ms Mignon Clyburn....acting chair of the FCC (a five-person committee that runs the commission).

What exactly are they looking at?  Well.....transportation reporting, educational reporting, emergency reporting, health reporting, economic reporting, civic reporting, political reporting, and environmental reporting.

A guy would look at this and get the feeling that if the contractor team shows up and the target network is screwing up on two or three of these areas....the FCC would go after them.

Somewhere in the mix of comments made about this episode....there was bit put out there about perceived response to underserved community.

All of this gets political folks riled up (from both Republicans and Democrats), and from journalists themselves.

A tool to be misused?  Well....if this was sharpen enough.....then some folks (Fox News for example) would feel pain from now until 2016.  Then....with a probable Republican president in office....the twist would occur, and some other networks (ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN) would feel the pain.

I think the journalists are shocked more than anyone else.  To have someone sitting in your review area....asking stupid questions....as a contractor for the government and wanting to know why you don't talk more about the environment or hype up educational benefits for non-resident Americans....well...it's just inviting hostility and anger.

Descending upon newspapers?  No.  The FCC has no control over newspapers.  That's the comical side of this.

So, a bit of history.  Around 1912....it was now obvious that radio stations were going to exist, and the federal government felt that it needed to "control" them.  So Congress passed an act, which led to the Commerce Department being the overseer of the growth and management of operations.

The Commerce Department reached a point where they probably admitted that day-to-day monitoring and the political dynamics of the mess....was too much.  So the chief of the Commerce Department (Herbert Hoover at the time).....came to suggest that Congress ought to create a commission to handle the job.

So was born the Federal Radio Commission (FRC) in 1927.  This commission had a lot of powers....but they couldn't censor anyone (at least in theory).  Bad language could get your station into trouble....indecent commentary was another point which would drag you in front of the commission.

A great deal of bickering occurred right around this time-period....mostly fights over regional air-control and domination.  At the time....over the entire US....there were a total of 164 radio stations.  What the FRC did was drag the 164 stations into the room and basically say they needed to clean up or be shut down.  The lower-powered and more independent stations in urban areas.....got shut down.  You can guess that some political manipulation was underway, and the independent stations just weren't savvy to the discussion.

By the end of 1928....there were roughly eighty stations left.  Yeah....that cut down competition big-time.

This period of low-competition lasted for around four years, and by 1932....the FRC went into a bold issue period. Around 625 stations were licensed to operate.  On top of that....another thirty-odd thousand amateur stations (Ham Radio) received a license to operate.

The FRC lasted until 1932....when the FCC was created.   It's hard to say why the FRC dissolved although it's curious to note that the first TV station license occurred in 1928 (Charles Jenkins Labs) and some folks might have realized the quick nature that led to radios being across America....would occur with the TV networks as well.

The necessity for government control?  In the very beginning....there was this great fear of immoral talk, bad behavior by network bosses, and the quick nature of the public to absorb what was being said.  Before radio.....you could make some commentary via your local newspaper....but it stayed local.  National items might have flowed via your local paper.....but a great deal depended upon readers and their ability to assimilate facts and bogus claims.

Radio changed that.  One guy could make a pretty slanted comment, and twenty million Americans along the entire west coast could hear that, and get charged up.

TV changed it even more.....one guy could make a pretty slanted comment, two-hundred million Americans, along with another two-hundred million non-Americans.....could hear it and get charged up.

Sadly, as manipulation goes with networks....it's just as big with political figures who run the FCC.  At the root....is this vast ocean of manipulators....each trying to out-manipulate each other, and to do so....in the public's interest.  Sadly, we have no Pizza Baking Commission....to federally manipulate the size, quality, make-up, taste, or safety of pizza.  Maybe that's a good thing.  I should note....we've yet to create a NCAA Bowl Comission (NBC) to control the national bowl selection process, or to ensure Alabama is always ranked one or two in the process.

So, rest and sleep comfortably tonight....in that no American....will be left behind....somewhere.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

The Consequences of One Simple Invention

It's an odd piece of civilization history....where one simple creation....broadens out over decades....invokes serious consequences....and sets up monumental changes for all of society.  So, this is the story.

In 1450, life was simple.  Very few people had the ability to read....with the only learning establishments in existence being the Catholic Church.  Naturally....their chief book for reading purposes...was the Bible.  It would be painfully copied over....by hand.  Monks and priests would spend their entire lives....as copiers.

The public?  They had no necessity to read, and there was no value added to the ability....if you did spend the time to learn the "art" of reading.

So, in 1450...came along this German creator and inventor....Gutenberg (Johannes).  He made a simple printing process, and created a method where a number of books...could be created in a matter of days.  In the beginning, there were bugs, and revisions to the printing press.  It took around five years for him to come to a full-up operational version.

No one says much over the choice of the first publication....the Bible.  Maybe he was a bit devious, with some motive....but we will never know that part of the story.  There were no copyright organizations in those days, and Gutenberg probably benefited from that fact.

The first batch of produced Bibles went well...but because of loan issues and sponsorship problems.....Gutenberg got into some legal trouble.  He ended up moving out of the deal....leaving the old press to the guy who'd loaned him money.  Perhaps anticipating eventual problems....he had a second press....moved to Bamberg, Germany in 1459....and began edition two of his Bible project.  The original press in the other guy's hands?  It continued on.....printing Bible copies as well.

It's an odd thing.....there's political intrigue with the Catholic Church in the region around this era, and this Bible printing stuff is bothering some folks.  Three years after moving....in 1462....Gutenberg gets kicked out of the region.  The general interpretation is that he riled up folks with these copies of the Bible flowing out and cutting into the business traffic of the Catholic Church.  Cheaper than the Church?  Well...that's a debatable issue.  No one generally says the cost of a hand-written Bible by the monks or priests.....but it has to be a fair sum to pay for it.

Over the next couple of decades....these printing press Bibles are continually published and sold.  A strange change comes to society.  There's now a desire to teach reading.  Naturally, there's only one publication that is generally used in most small villages and towns for teaching reading....the Bible.  Over the decades.....more and more people are capable of reading.  People are now quoting the Bible....as if it was an actual human being.

Somewhere in the 1520s of Germany....there's trouble brewing.  Evolution of society has taken place and there's revolution in the hearts of people who feel oppressed.  The reading skills and understanding of the Bible at work?  To some degree.....yes.  The door has been opened for interpretation.

Around 1525.....a massive peasant rebellion is taking place throughout the 300-odd cities and city-states of Germany.  It's the peasants versus the ruling class.  It's the Catholic Church domination versus the free-thinkers.

Over the course of one single year (1525).....thousands would be dead.  Some changes to society would occur, but there was still some of the old structure left in place.

Roughly a hundred years would pass....more Bibles would be printed....more people would be educated....and a newer threat of sorts would emerge by 1620s.  The Thirty-Years War....was a series of conflicts which historians for some odd reason have determined that they all fit neatly into one war....not five separate wars.

One of these separate conflicts....involves this odd growth of religions and prophets.  Out of Germany and Switzerland....there are now dozens of pop-up groups, who've found some guy who says he's the prophet and hears God talking to him.  As long as it's just local church meetings or discussions....no one much cares.  At some point....the prophets get peppy, and create various problems....and a major confrontation is brewing through most of central Germany.

The cause for prophets and odd-ball religious groups?  Gutenberg's Bible.  Now that the pubic has their own copy....they sit around at night and discuss what they think John the Baptist really said, and the topics mentioned in the chapter of Luke.  Under the old era....the priest, bishops and monks held tight control over discussions, and the public worried about the weather, the crops, and the neighbor's behavior.  Now?  The Bible was quoted on a daily basis, and needed clarification.

Tens of thousands would die in the Thirty Years War.

The Gutenberg printing press?  It would be the starting point for both major conflicts, the death of thousands, and evolution of society.  It would lead onto splinter religious groups, and tens of thousands of different interpretations of the Bible.

Nothing was ever the same.

It's an odd consequence.  You couldn't predict it.  You couldn't guess the various problems that it'd bring on and dump on the doorstep of every single person of Europe at the time.  And to some degree, we are still living in the consequence era today.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

People You Bump Into

Years ago....in the late 1970s....I worked with a guy who had this life dream....running a pool hall.  He grew up in some small rural town in South Carolina, and had some uncle who ran a hall there.  His big dream....after doing four years in the Air Force....was to make his way back to the home state, find a town of some size without a pool hall, and open one.

This topic would come up in the TV room of the barracks.  We (the occasional audience in the dorm TV room)....would ask this guy about the plan, and how this would work.

You see....a pool hall guy....has to have certain qualities.  I never thought much about this....until this guy brings up the obvious ones.

Pool halls stay open late....so you'd likely open by noon, and stay open til midnight.  You kinda have to stay open six days a week (closing on Sundays)....so you are doing seventy-two hours a week in work.  Naturally, this would tire most guys out.

You have to stay clean, sober, and in-good with the local authorities....to get the booze license.  This means paying off the Republicans and Democrats of the local town, as elections come around.

You have to have some patience with drunks and disorderly folks.  People get stupid playing pool, make wages and bets way beyond reality, and someone has to lose.  Folks tend to get irate when they lose big-time.  Losing your paycheck one evening....usually means the wife getting upset and asking stupid questions.  So guys might get physical, and as the pool-hall owner....you really don't want this kind of fight or damage done to the place.

I never thought much on the attention to table quality until this guy started to quote manufacture and standards.  Running a dozen "fine" tables...means you need to put out cash and replace the tables on occasion.  Same with the balls and cue sticks.

As I was briefed deeply on the strategy of a owner....it's the kitchen that pulls in half the profits.  A decent pool hall serves first-class burgers and fries....with ice-cold beer always in the refrigerator.  Ribs and chicken are mandatory....along with grilled-cheese sandwiches and some kinda stew on really cold days.

Pool tournaments are a big deal, and draw folks to watch....and amateur players practice more to be noted as a legend or semi-legend in the local area.

Somewhere in 1979....our associate with aspirations of being a pool-hall owner....wrapped up his four years in the Air Force and left Germany.  We all figured he'd find success one day.  I have no idea what became of him, or if he ever got into the pool-hall business.

One of the neat things about being in the Air Force....you got around to meeting weird characters from across the fifty states.  Some were nuts.  Some were brilliant.  Some were worthy of being immortalized as the Mister Haney character on Green Acres or the George character from Seinfeld.
I can look back and feel kinda blessed (well...as much as a Bama guy can be)....that I took this long path and trail for twenty-two years.  Today, I probably know enough to fill up twenty 3x5 cards on pool-hall operations.  To be honest....other than about six games I played while at Rhein Main, and maybe one game while on some deployment to Turkey....I've never been much of a pool player, and never aspired to being a pool-hall manager.  

Forced fate?  Yeah, maybe.  Fate kinda happens and then you stand there....absorbed with pool-hall management concepts, but will never use that knowledge ever in your life.

That Khalkhin Gol Battle

Pearl Harbor, Midway, the Battle of El Alamein, the allied invasion of Italy, Normandy, the Blitz, the battle of Leningrad, the battle of Attu....all the great battles and legacies of World War II....only occur because of seventy cavalry horsemen from the Soviet Union....who were in search of greener pastures for their horses, and they happen to cross the line splitting Mongolia (a part of the Soviet Union then) and China, which was controlled by the Japanese.  The date was 11 May 1939.

It's an odd piece of history that no high school teacher will touch, and the vast number of college history professors will simply leave there....not to be part of the class or any discussion.

This crossing of the line...in the interest of greener pastures....is what creates a odd revision to the overall plan of Germany and Japan for conquering the majority of the civilized world.

You'd shake your head.....how seventy odd horsemen did something stupid, and rewrote the outcome of World War II....but it's a interesting tale.

The Japanese will react on this day to the "intrusion" of the Soviet cavalry men and their horses.  There will be shots fired, and a retreat by the Soviet-Mongolian force.  Two days later....the Soviet-Mongolian force will return in greater numbers, and effectively destroy the local Japanese force in the area.  The small battle here should have been the end.....but it wasn't.

Within six weeks....both sides were pulling in extra troops, and the Japanese force mounted a major attack against the Soviets.  Air battles were conducted....aircraft were destroyed on the ground, and a full-scale, but limited action was occurring.  But there's a problem....the Japanese commander didn't ever ask the Japanese high command back in Japan for permission.  Things got hectic once they figured out the whole thing going on.  This wasn't going along with the BIG strategy of the German and Japanese alliance.

You see...the BIG plan was....Germany would only have one front to worry about once they'd stream rolled over into France and taken control, and that front would be the Soviet Union.  The Japanese....as part of the strategy....would stage operations at some point in 1941/1942....in the far east, and threaten the Soviet Union from the Siberian region.

Stalin had sent out a major part of his military to Siberia, and the better of troops, tanks and aircraft were in that region.  Japan would keep them busy, and eventually win.....and be rewarded with everything in Siberia.  Hitler's force would only face a limited military capability around the western portion of the Soviet Union, and within a year or two....have kicked Stalin out of Moscow.

You can imagine phase two....where they return to the British situation....easily threaten them....and within weeks to months....establish a treaty where Britian will fall.  The royal family will leave for Canada, and a German-friendly government will be in place.  Yeah, that resigned British King would have likely been brought back, and put on the thrown.....just to establish some legit nature.

At that point, there'd be three nations of significance.....the Germans, the Japanese, and the US.  By 1944....the US would be standing there with limited options.

Well....but back to the Mongolian episode.  In this moment of Japanese "stall"....the Soviets quickly plan and execute a massive summer campaign against the Japanese force in the region.  It will be referred to....as the Battle of Khalkhin Gol.

Around mid-September of 1939....the Japanese will come to agree to a ceasefire.  There are massive losses for both camps.  A force of roughly 55,000 Soviet troops will face a slightly superior number of Japanese troops (roughly 80,000).

But the Soviets will have 500 tanks in the region....of a superior quality, and have three times the number of aircraft.  The Japanese land-force?  It never had the technical capabilities that the Soviets had.  Maybe the Japanese Navy was a four-star force....but you can't say that for the Japanese Army.

This ceasefire will be a hotly discussed topic back at Japan's military headquarters.  The Japanese will claim roughly sixteen thousand dead or wounded, with the Soviets claim at nine thousand (it might have been significantly more, but the Soviets just weren't ever that honest over the number business).

So Japan reevaluated the whole strategy that Hitler's team had laid out.  After Khalkhin Gol....they really didn't want to go back into Siberia and conduct another loser of a war.  So, a new strategy was drawn up....which meant that Hitler had to fight two fronts.....and Stalin would move his best troops and tanks west....to defeat Hitler.

The Japanese strategy would mean that they'd have to intimidate and really annihilate the US at Pearl Harbor.....thus creating a war against an enemy who probably wouldn't have been part of the game for two or three more years (then it'd be too late to help Britain or the Soviets).  

So seventy cavalrymen....with their seventy horses.....in search of greener pastures....trip up the Hitler strategy....change the dynamics of World War II in a matter of minutes, and change the balance of history forever.

Why does it not ever get mentioned?  There's likely three basic reasons.  First, Altogether, there's never more than 130,000 troops combined....in this battle.  Second, it's in the middle of nowhere, and no journalists ever report the stages or outcomes of daily events.  For the most part, you have to accept various accounts (some false) from both the Japanese and Soviet achieves to tell part of the story.  Third, it's not some grand episode, or some crown prince murdered, or some massive invasion.  It's simply seventy guys with hungry horses.  And that's not really hot history stuff that would be worth listening to in a boring history class.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

The Earth Rotation Poll

Some smart guys went out and did some polling collection and analysis.  I generally disregard all polls.  They tend to say a lot about mostly nothing.

In this case....they asked folks if they knew that the Earth revolves around the Sun, and it takes 365 days to accomplish.  It's a relatively easy question, and you'd expect most folks to simply say "yes".  Well....they didn't.

Loaded into this question was a dozen-odd political labels (conservative republican, liberal republican, conservative, liberal, independent, conservative democrat, liberal democrat, moderate democrat, moderate republican, etc).

The statistics say this.  Conservative republicans were at the top of this vast knowledge factor on the Earth circling the Sun every 365 days, with roughly sixty-seven percent of them knowing this.  Liberals, and liberal democrats came up right behind them....just a point or two off.  Moderate republicans and moderate democrats....barely forty-four percent noted the Earth's rotation and the 365 day factor.  At the very bottom?  Conservative democrats....twenty-seven percent knew this fantastic knowledge of the Earth's rotation around the Sun, with the 365-days figured into this.

So I sat and pondered over this poll.  You see....it's hard for me to imagine that less than ninety-five percent of folks simply didn't grasp this data about the rotation.  There's a reason why we only have 365 days in a year....but it seems that most folks don't grasp how this all relates to the rotation factor.

Then, there's this issue of conservative democrats.  Only twenty-seven percent of them knew this little bit of insignificant data?  That's it?

I'm left with three basic observations.

First, we've got a bunch of idiots in America.  It doesn't matter if you are republican, democrat, moderate, or anarchist.    

Second, thank God there's no test down at the county office while you register to vote.....to gauge if you are bright enough to vote or too stupid to vote.  Otherwise, we'd just have three or four million folks voting every four years, and it'd be mostly conservative republicans and liberal democrats.

Third, we should give thanks to God for putting the sun on some rotational plan, and not leaving this up to Americans to run.....otherwise, we'd flip every other year from 365 days to 220 days, and ask where the missing days went.

Finally, I should note this about this polling episode.....there was a second question tied into it....if astrology was a science.  You know....the sign business....scorpio, pisces, taurus, etc.  The fake stuff that you see on TV or read each day with your horoscope stuff.  The same group answered this question.

For some reason, conservative democrats....liberal democrats.....and moderate democrats were at the top of believing astrology was a science....with roughly fifty percent of them in the belief category.  Conservative republicans were at the bottom with thirty-three percent believing astrology was an actual science.

It would have been interesting to divide the group up with a couple more questions....say stuff over UFOs, bigfoot, Loch Ness sea monster, and climate change.  Maybe it's best we not know how bad this division of knowledge is.  Just my humble view.

Monday, 17 February 2014

The Science of Non-Absolutes

Scientists....usually end up postulating theories....in order to prove a discovery or conception is right.  They make up a theory from evidence collected, hours upon hours of analysis, and models.  Theories are thought to be fact, until proven wrong.

In the mid-to-late 1800s....a French mathematical wiz sat down and looked at the orbit of Mercury.  Hours of study were put into the study, and this guy would eventually produce a hard and factual case that a planet stood somewhere between Mercury and the Sun....thus creating an orbit which was not  "perfect" in nature.  This other planet (given the name Vulcan)....was drawing Mercury slightly out of orbit.

It was a neat discovery.  After publishing this....most everyone in Europe jumped on the wagon, and for at least a decade....amateur astronomers boldly agreed that they had noted such a small tiny planet out there, and it could only be Vulcan.   So they produced newspaper articles, postulated their own theories, and wrote science papers for science journals.  Absolute evidence existing?  No....just this wobble of sorts in Mercury's orbit, and a thousand-odd astronomers saying that they had seen such a planet (Vulcan).

Oddly enough....around forty years into this episode....Einstein around 1915....not an astronomer....came out with a theory to explain the wobble.  Between Einstein's theory and WW I....the search for Vulcan quietly ended.  No one says much about all this printed material, science data, astronomer meetings where debate after debate went into detail over Vulcan's mythical existence. The science community quietly just folded up the revival tent, and pretended nothing occurred, and journalists did everyone a favor by never retelling the Vulcan story in public forums.

In 1877....an Italian astronomer came up with a massive discovery....canals on Mars.  The news media at the time....picked this up, and most every newspaper in America and Europe....covered the discovery in some way....some with just a paragraph...some with vast comments of fluff, which were mostly science talk with no basis.

Some scientist at the time....drew maps of the canals....which got into publication, and got the public to openly believing in the idea that a canal can only exist....if some species builds it.  Naturally, this meant people existed on Mars.

For around fifty-odd years....this canal story existed, and got some traction whenever a newspaper ran out of local stories, scandal, or crime stuff.

In the 1960s....scientist came up with a number of facts....with images taken of the planet, and simply noted that the canals were naturally occurring items.

How many newspapers recanted their reports going back to the 1877-period?  None.

Finally, Einstein sat down at some point....probably on a bad day or maybe influenced by some lusty gal from the coffee shop.....and put up a theory called the 'static universe' theory.  Basically, under this scheme....the universe was totally static, and never moving.

This theory got published and was generally accepted in 1917.  It was in the midst of the war, and I doubt if more than a thousand scientists really paid attention to it at the time.  After the war, it got picked up and discussed widely.  Yes, it was accepted to a great extent.

For about ten years....the static universe idea was concrete.  At some point by the mid-1920s....several folks were looking at the static nature of the  universe, and came to have problems with the idea.  In 1927.....the Lemaitre Theory came out....which strongly cancelled out the Einstein static idea, and replaced it with an expanding theory.

Naturally....Einstein refused to believe the challenge, and immediately discounted it.  Four years later....1931...Einstein quietly entertains the idea that the universe can't be static.  He's not really convinced completely....but the idea of absolutely no expansion.....just plain static values?  Gone.

The problem with scientists, models, theories, and such....is that they come in....get introduced....and meet with peer review.  Without that....nothing truly exists.  You can pretend that science is absolute....but most all scientists would laugh you out of the room when you start to stamp theories as untouchable.  No science theory ever created....earns a untouchable status.  None.

So, when some dimwit stands there, and pretends that science is complete and global whatever....is in full bloom or must be accepted, period.  You can generally discount them as an idiot from that moment on.  It's the sad case of some intellectual guys and gals....who they've gained some lofty status, and just can't stand being wrong.

The Cake Story

It won't appear in your local papers, be featured on CNN, or get into the Wall Street Journal....so I'll pick up the European story and put it into my blog.

Last week....in Madrid....at the university there....some folks at the veterinary school baked up a cake with marijuana.  They served it to themselves and sat back to enjoy it.

Well....some time passes....and folks start to get nauseous.....feeling "sick as a dog" (my southern interpretation of their gut situation.  Ambulance gets called. Well...it's bad enough that several folks get taken to the hospital.

Current situation?  Eleven folks ate the cake....ten had to go into the hospital for treatment....one of the ten is laying there comatose.  Doctors aren't sure about this guy.

Tests?  Well....doctors aren't saying much.  As best as they can tell....it was only marijuana in the ingredients....not any weird drugs or LSD or such.  Course, veterinary students know a fair amount over various chemicals.  It is possible....someone tossed in something....that was supposed to add to the thrill of the high, and just guessed wrong.

Course, I come to this one odd piece of the story....this one guy who who didn't have to go to the hospital.  You just sit and wonder....what did he avoid or do....that didn't get him into the ambulance.  It might be interesting to know that part of the story.  Course, Spanish journalists tend to just throw the facts in....ask only slanted questions....and avoid the one or two key questions that might sum up the entire story.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Science and Education

The National Science Foundation....is made of a bunch of smart guys.  I didn't suggest that they have a lot of common sense or values.....just that they are smart.

They went out and did a science survey with around two thousand Americans.  Simple questions.....short quiz of ten questions....stuff that you'd expect a typical twelve-year old kid to know.

The idea of the Earth circling the Sun?  Well....only three-quarters of those questioned...knew that.  Yeah....three out of four.

Only half the folks agreed on the science of humans evolving from animals.  Although....if you were a fairly religious guy....you'd say the question was flawed to start with.

Naturally, the marginally passing grade given by the National Science Foundation....led most folks to only one conclusion.....more government funding for science education.  That's typically the outcome of polls....to convince people of some need...whether real or fake.

Here's the honest truth.  After you get to the final day of the high school....most folks are set to the mind to forget fifty percent of what was taught within twelve months.  Another quarter will be forgotten within five years.  So all that twelve year period.....bundled up into tens of thousands per student.....is mostly flushed down the toilet.

If you made it into some big-name university....the odds of half that information disappearing in five years is fairly high.  No one remembers much of anything from some literature professor, or some political science professor....unless it was a highly dramatic class lecture, with stupid questions asked.

Does the knowledge of the Earth circling the Sun really help you much in daily activities?  Do you count the rotations?  Are you collecting stamps per each rotation?  Would your career take off and really benefit from knowing this knowledge?  Can you get to millionaire status, World Series status, win the heart of some lusty Bama gal, or get a discount from Sam's Club from knowing about this Earth circling business?  Sadly....NO.

Would it help your farm operation if you knew you'd evolved from animals?  Would your dog be more obedient if he knew you and him....were kinda of the same variety?  Would you get a pay-raise if you knew such valuable information?  Would this change your path in life....giving you more enthusiasm?  Would it help the Yankees win this season?

My suggestion....if folks get all fired up to spend government funding on stuff like this....just create fake and bogus shows on the History Channel like Amish Mafia....related to science.

Like.....Amish Scientists.  You'd lay out these three Amish guys who've secretly started a nuke plant and secretly producing power for forty Amish families.  You could weave the science involved, the Amish stance on new traditions, and tell a nice fictional story related to science.

Or how about....the Professor and the Stripper.  A nice fictional TV series about a scientist who shares his apartment with some thirty-year old stripper from Branson, MO.  He'd talk physics at night while they sipped cheap wine and argued over fusion and house trailers.

Where does this lead folks?  Well....it's hard to say.  Most folks can't make decisions on their own anymore.....they need some gimmick journalist to tell them what to think.  The same is true for banking....travel....hotels....investing...etc.

The truth is.....we need a sixty-year school deal.  Dump this twelve-year agenda, and lets just sign everyone for permanent and everlasting education.  Oh, and just name it....."No Adult Left Behind".

Friday, 14 February 2014

Facebook and Your "Lifestyle"

Facebook came up this week....with an interesting change.  You see....as you registered and got an account with "FB"....you filled in this field of sex with 'male' or 'female'.  Well....up until yesterday.

The FB folks finally decided that it wasn't right, and they needed to be fair.....so they gave a custom area to the decision of sex, and now allow up around roughly forty-five choices of identification.

Naturally, a guy from Bama starts to ask questions.

You could be a person transitioning from male-to-female....female-to-male....transgender....and another thirty odd descriptions which lead you to ask what-the-hell, and then just nod your head and grasp that the world has moved on into some twilight zone-like situation.

The value of this one simple column?  Well....it's a gimmick which FB will sell that little bit of data to some political group, or candy store, or Chinese fashion company.  If you had seventeen thousand folks suddenly announce they were labeled "half-man-half-woman"....well, there's some fashion trend there waiting to be exploited.

I went into my FB account and tried to write my own custom sex identification label...."Bama- male", but it wouldn't allow me that privilege.  You see....you have to have FB approve your sex label, and just inventing something out of thin air....isn't acceptable, unless you already fit into the forty-five other labels that they invented out of thin air.  Being "Bama-male"....is not possible.  Being Mississippi-lesbian....is not possible.  Being Romulan-male-warrior is not possible.  Being Amish-male-stoic is not possible.  Even trying to be male-stuck-in-a-male-body-desiring-to-be-a-horse....is not possible.

Eventually, I think FB will get around to identifying you to cartoon characters, car models, actors or actresses, NFL players, and perhaps even Hindu Gods (there's at least three hundred of them).  It all means cash in some profit way to FB.

My advice?  If you get all serious about this kind of stuff....you might not have much in life to do.  I'd suggest a hobby or two....maybe taking up landscape work....hauling hay....or just enjoying what few good and healthy years of life that the almighty hands down to you.


Living on Numbers

Yahoo put up this graphic today.  Its an interesting detail on health insurance sign-up rates....state-by-state.

Course, you'd look and note that some states are absolute failures....like Oregon and New Mexico.  I won't guess the reasons....you'd have to be living there to really grasp that.

So I looked over at Bama.  We were in the 75-to-100 percent goal area.  It doesn't necessary mean that seventy-five percent of Bama folks signed up and things look great.  It just means there was a goal within the state of Bama....and somehow, by the grace of God.....we reached that goal of 75-to-100 percent.  Maybe they wanted a thousand folks signed up....out of six million.  Well....this part of the gimmick....wasn't explained in any detail.

I am proud of my home-state....for the obvious reason that barely twenty percent of the state's residents are internet savy, and this all occurred during the remarkable NCAA football run-up period back in November, December, and early January.  Yeah, we had a lot on our mind.

Yeah, I kinda got smart on graphics, details, and how people tell you remarkable stories with almost no validity or facts given.

So, then I gazed at those oddball states like Idaho, Colorado, North Carolina, Michigan, New York, and Rhode Island.  The graphic says....they are between 100-and-250 percent of the goal.  In real life....you can't really go past 100-percent....unless you are talking low goals assigned, or fake numbers used, or a bunch of non-existent people suddenly arrived and got into the calculation.

It's like saying that 128-percent of the residents of such-and-such county like Oprah.  Well....it'd make sense if you had 4,000 residents, and all 4,000 residents said they liked Oprah.  The minute that you said 4,800 residents of the 4,000 residents like Oprah....that begs some questions.  Are these dead residents?  Are these temporary passing-through residents?  Are these residents who sneak over to buy booze in a wet-county?  Are these fake people that a kid made up for the benefit of Professor Woody's statistics class?

You just don't know.

Is it possible that by the end of 2014....from one particular state....we will have thousand-percent of the goal achieved?  Yes.  You might get confused, and ask how a thousand-percent can occur, but the journalists would just say you didn't pay attention in high school math....and just missed that sixteen minute lecture by your substitute teacher who was dopey from sipping cough medicine all day.

So, I'm suggesting a radical thing.  Make all your goals in life small....with limited but achievable numbers involved.  As each success arrives....gauge the number....publish your statistics of success, and let everyone know that you are at 116-percent of your intended goal.  If you need to lose weight....set the goal at six pounds for the year, and when you lose thirty-two pounds over twelve months.....it'll look fabulous with the five-hundred percent weight loss.

When the wife asks you to put aside some money for Junior's education....set the goal for five dollars a week....but put in twenty.  So you can claim a four-hundred percent success rate at the end of the year with the wife.  She will be very impressed with your efforts.

Set up a successful life goal of living to at least age twenty-five....so when you reach fifty....you can boldly go around and proclaim absolute success at age fifty of two-hundred percent of the goal reached.

Yeah.....I am suggesting turning life into a bunch of numbers....mostly bogus and no value, but accurate.

We are living in a bold era, and we'd best enjoy what little boldness and success that does exist....even if it's a bogus one-hundred-percent success rate.

My Three Eras of Waiting

I've come to realize today....that I've been through three eras of waiting now.  Waiting....tends to mean that you get to some place ahead of time....then kinda wait out things....until the plane launches, the doctor calls your name, the dentist is ready, the vet will see your cat, or salesman is off his break.

As a kid, I was in the silent era.  When you arrived at some waiting room....you just sat there.  There might have been some Readers Digest, National Geographic, or NewsWeak magazine.  You'd glance through and look at wild cannibal tribes from Africa, the nutcase who spent twelve years in the Idaho wilderness, or get some visionary political chat from a guy who'd never worked a day in his life.

Waiting was simple.  You had some choices to fiddle away that thirty minutes (usually), and you'd be patient.

The second era came in the early 80's while I was in the Air Force.  Piped music came came around.  It was alway amazing to walk into a waiting area of a Air Force dentist office.....with some relaxing opera music or jazz in the background.  After a while....I'd note at some finance office that they piped rock music from the local FM station.

At some point while stationed in Louisiana.....I'd be sent weekly to a supply shop that was manned by some thirty-year old NCO....who had his local station stuck to Reverend So-and-So's 9AM gospel hour.  As I'd wait for my turn to get the weekly stock of supplies....I'd listen to the good reverend blast away at sin, deceit, the evils of alcohol, and the devil in all forms.  For a number of months, this continued....then one day....the NCO was told to get rid of his radio....too many people complaining of lectures on their moral standing.  I commented after the removal to the NCO....the devil moves around in different forms and challenges us with episodes like this.....he gave me a serious look and quietly nodded.

Around the mid-90s.....I arrived at the third era....the TV introduction.  It seemed like the natural thing.  Some squadron would buy a couple of TVs with left-over funding in the financial year, and then waiting rooms around the base suddenly had the TV running.  There would be kid's movies in the early morning running.  Around lunch would be some CNN stuff.  Late afternoon....an innocent comedy.

Folks were being entertained by TV.  I kinda noted after a while that a number of folks who had appointments in the morning (at Ramstein)....would leave out early and get to the waiting room in time to watch at least half a Oprah show.  Some folks would ask if they could put on Winnie-the-Pooh.

Over the last ten years....I've come to travel a good bit and been forced for numerous hours of waiting in airports....to watch CNN news.  Given a choice of reading a local newspaper or watching CNN.....I usually read a newspaper.

This week....we kinda feel into the next era.  I sat and read through the story.  It's a medical center of sorts....in Michigan.  The company owns a couple of these centers and hospitals.  Not a big business.....but enough to have a board and some executive decisions made.

They apparently had cable TV options piped into waiting areas, and hospital rooms of their operations.  For some reason....one of their board members got all peppy upon seeing Fox News displayed.  So they voiced up the opinion that Fox News was anti-health care.  It wasn't right to allow them on the air.  So a memo was drafted up (yeah, you can imagine this executive decision).....that Fox News was to be blocked.

Not only did the staff members kinda question this.....but customers have come to note this as well.  What generally is put on the air now?  CNN.

No one has said much yet....although it's gotten out and I'd expect some dimwit journalist to eventually stand up and ask the board person who complained about their political values.  Then, some hostile feelings and frustrations will be released.

So, I'm of the mind that we need to create a new channel....just for waiting rooms.  It'd be a farm, with farmer Bob.  He'd toss out these jobs that he has today, and in a stoic fashion....lead the viewer through a typical day....while talking to the camera.  We'd find out about horses, the need for order in a toolshed, the best way to clean a septic tank, how to avoid getting trampled upon by a bull, the best way to make distilled beverages, the remarkable health advantages of hauling hay in the midst of July, and the best way to freak out a border collie (move chairs around in the yard daily).

Maybe I'm entering the fourth era.....where I'd just like peace and quiet....waiting for some negative episode with the doctor, the transmission specialist, the tax consultant, or the dentist.  Maybe going back to the Readers Digest era would be a good thing.  Maybe just having a carving knife and a stick to whittle on....would give me some peace of mind while waiting.

My humble two cents of thought.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

The Speed Misconception

History is an interesting thing when you get around to misconceptions.  You see...we've had a bunch of misconceptions over the last two thousand years or so.

There is this misconception about Viking helmets for example.  Folks always believed that they had horns on their helmets.  Well....there's never been any truth to this.  Oh, the starting point for horns on Viking helmets?  It was a Wagner opera setting, and the company found some horns and just put them on the fake helmets as part of the play.  Folks liked it, and just kept the tradition.

There's this misconception about all the folks found to violate witchcraft laws in Salem, MA.  Most folks think the guilty parties were burned at the stake.  Well....none were.  Some got sent off to the jail-house.  Some were hanged.  But no one ever got burned at the stake....at least in Salem.

There's this misconception of Einstein failing math in high school.  Well....that's totally bogus.  He did fail an entrance exam for the university.....but this was the broad test which had numerous subjects (not just math).

There's a misconception that Sushi (in Japan)....means raw fish.  Well....that's totally untrue.  It means simply means sour rice....which can be served with raw fish, but it can be served as just plain sour rice with no fish.

In South Korea, there's this odd misconception about running a fan in a room.  There's a general belief that it'll cause suffocation or hypothermia.  Most South Koreans will say it's an old-wives tale....but it gets repeated often.

Down in the south, we have this misconception of alcohol being a good thing to consume on a cold day.  The general idea is that it gets us all warmed up.  The more, the better.....especially in February.  Well....it's not true.  It might stimulate nerve endings.....but that's about all it does.

So, we come to the newest misconception.....high-speed means high-speed.

Yeah, it's an odd one.

The federal government sat down and defined high-speed, in relation to the new train idea of high-speed.  Why the fed's needed to be the authority on this?  Well....better them than the CNN crew or some intellectual dimwit from Idaho State University.

This federal money package to California....which was to be into the billions....states an obvious requirement.  The high-speed train must be able to get from San Fransisco to San Jose in thirty minutes or less.  The same high-speed train must be able to get from San Francisco to Los Angles 180 minutes or less.  To get the money......you'd normally have to write the plan to cover such a requirement.

Well....it's a misconception.

California came out yesterday with the general draft of the plan for operation.  Never mind the fact that the rail-line hasn't been built yet.

The times written?  This version of the trip from SF to San Jose?  It'll take 39 minutes instead of 30 minutes.  The trip between LA and SF?  They left it off the plan because only stage one is under consideration currently (SF to San Jose).  Most folks are thinking that they didn't want to admit it might be 250 minutes for this trip.  Once you go past 300 minutes....it becomes questionable if it's any better than air travel.

The general cause for lesser speed?  Well...if they replaced every single section of rail for the high-speed stuff.....the cost of the whole affair goes up.  So what they are saying.....various pieces of the trip from SF to San Jose.....will be redone, and you will "experience" high-speed.  Maybe for six minutes....maybe for ten....but you will feel like you are traveling at high speed.  That thrill....may be enough to sell you on the whole thing.

Naturally, a guy would sit and ponder.

When we started out with trains....there was this thought that if they ever got above a certain speed....the human body would be unable to handle the excess speed.  At the time....they were thinking like thirty or forty miles-per-hour.  That misconception disappeared rapidly.

I've come to notice some cars (like the Audi TT)....are built in a way to make you think that you are traveling at an excessively high speed, but then you realize that you are sitting around sixty miles per hour.

So, the odds are....this high-speed rail will be built in California, and folks will ride it.  Some will come to ask questions about the speed, and wonder if it was worth the billions involved.  Maybe....maybe not.  Course, it only works....if you need to get from SF to San Jose.  Otherwise, you 'd best use the airport.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Book Review: Land of the Burnt Thigh

By Edith Eudora Koh. Original printing 1938.  Reprinted by Google, free e-book.

Well....it's a dramatic historical writing of the settling on the open prairie and the general lifestyle and culture of those those who came around 1905.....to North Dakota.

Epic proportion?  Yeah.....and it's well written.

I'd suggest that it's a great book for a eighth-grade or ninth-grade history or literature class.  It's easily read, and would lay out dozens of discussions over a month-long read.  You could discussion American lifestyles, economics, history, the toughness required in life, and what people had to do in order to survive. It's roughly two hundred pages.

Excellent gift material for a young teenager who has interest in history.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

A Moment of Nessie

I've spent a good bit of time over the past six months of 'retirement'....reading up on history...particulary German and European history over the past two thousand years.

It's an interesting thing to note just how much religion got tangled up into daily lives....causing people to be tortured or punished....in the name of the Lord.  It didn't take much for some religious nut....to get an entire community all wound up in some pretender or fake situation.  Simply shouting witch back in the 1500s in Germany....was enough to get a guy tossed into a river or burned.

So I came across an interesting item today concerning the Loch Ness monster of British fame.  You see....there was no creature or notoriety....until 565 AD.  Yeah...roughly five hundred-and-fifty years after Christ.

The legend starts up that a giant beast of sorts was threatening a local guy up at Ness River in Scotland.   No one mentions the guy's name....his preoccupation with whiskey....his mental state....or his ability to make up stories rather quickly.

What we know is that the Catholic Church got involved very quickly.  They moved into the situation....did some kind of ceremony....and chased Satan from the river (Satan apparently is the only way that a serpent or dragon can exist....by Catholic code or gimmicks).

You can imagine this scene....a hundred local folks by the river....watching some Catholic bishop cite Bible verse and scripture....than cast his hands around in a quick flurry of signals, and then the demon serpent was gone.

Course, like all evils....he has to return because something wasn't right with the Catholic curse put on him, or he's just stronger than the Catholic Church.  Years pass, and by the 1800s....Nessie has become a minor detail in history.  It would have stayed that way....if that picture from the 1930s hadn't gotten around.

Today?  Nessie is a legend of sorts....which drags a thousand folks a week probably....up to the area....staying in nice hotels, eating marginal Scottish food, and drinking a wonderful blended whisky at times.  Tales of woe and sorrows follow....and vast secondary stories get brought up.

Does anyone ever ask about the start of this in 565, and the Catholic Church connection?  No.  That's usually not to be brought up or discussed.  Demons?  Well....folks wouldn't drag themselves to the end of the isle....for a silly demond story.  But a serpent?  Well....that's different.

So, as you sit around and observe bigfoot, aliens and Nessie.....you might want to grin a bit and try hard to accept the general story.  It doesn't get much better.

The Iraqi Story

There was an unfortunate episode in Iraq in the last week.....which kinda brought up memories of military exercises with me.

There are two basic avenues of an Air Force exercise.  First, there's the just-pretend-and-grin exercise, where you have a dozen things to accomplish on a base....and you just fake your way through the exercise for a day or two.  No one ever gets a medal or citation for these type events, and rarely do people remember these occurred after a week or two.  No one gets injured or wounded from such events.

The second type of exercise....is the realistic-doom exercise.  There are fake explosives put up around base.  Safety officers roam to ensure folks don't do really stupid crap.  Bogus injury folks lay around and you have to find them....assist with their wounds....and get a recovery process in effect.

I learned after a while...that the Army goes at a much higher rate of realism.  Tanks roam around....live fire exercises are commonplace....and hand grenades might actually get thrown on some big campground area.   Course, Army safety officers roam at much higher rates and absolutely demand adherence to the rules.  An Army guy with six years of service....will quote safety rules like Bible verses and scripture.

Once in a while....folks die on these Air Force and Army training exercises.  It's a pretty dramatic thing, with investigations and blame getting shifted around.

Well....in Iraq this past week....some Jihad guys had a training meeting and exercise underway.  They were a anti-government in the logic and thinking.  The training?  All related to car-bombs and belt-bombs.

So, you can imagine Jihad Joe, the bomb trainer....detailing things on a white board.  Some tables set up.  A group of thirty-odd students sitting around.  Most paying attention....maybe a couple just there because of peer pressure, and didn't really care for the business like some of the other guys.

Somewhere in the midst of this training episode on how to place and manufacture car-bombs.....something went wrong, and a car blew up.  Twenty-one dead, a dozen wounded to some degree, and ten lucky guys standing there alive and grateful for living.  Course, all this noise.....got the local cops peppy, and they show up.

The ten lucky guys?  Well....they are apprehended.  The dozen wounded guys?  They were grabbed, and trotted off to some jail-house, and likely getting just enough medical care to survive, but will face years and years in some prison....most in a state of pain or suffering.  The twenty-one?  Buried.

Did they have a safety officer or someone hovering around the trainees every single minute?  I kinda doubt it.  Were there guys standing there....sipping coffee and not paying attention?  Well....yeah.

Forty-odd Jihad guys....either dead, or getting themselves into some long-term prison sentence....because of one simple stupid mistake.  The other side of this? The Iraqi government will make an ad....sixty seconds in length (if I were them)....and note personal photos of each dead Jihad guy and the amount of stupidity in his lifestyle and the stupid nature of his death.  He didn't die in an act of fame and courage....he died because he was there amongst some idiots and dimwits. Maybe somewhere in the ad....they would note that one special technique of the bomb makers....is a make-or-break moment, and scare every single teenage guy who might aspire to be a future bomb maker.  Call it a safety video or whatever....but it ought to have a major impact on teenagers.

Maybe some old AFN producers are still around....who used to produce those stupid Army safety video pieces for airing in Europe in the 1980s....where safety was preached day in and day out....and they can help produce these Iraqi safety ads.  

Monday, 10 February 2014

Top Ten Ways to Escalate A Bama Discussion into a Serious Confrontation

Bar fights in Bama over the past decade or two....have been noted widely in newspapers.  Yeah, we've gotten ourselves a reputation for discussions that went into violent arguments, led to violent assault, murder, and even prison time.

So I sat and pondered over the situation, and have come to ten topic that can easily escalate beyond reason.  There are in random order, and are not topics of a vast nature.

1.  Alabama versus Auburn NCAA chat.  Basically, you walk into a Bama bar....wearing a Auburn shirt, and six guys immediately take a disliking to you.  Something is said....you have a feeling of confidence in you....drinks are consumed....an hour or two later.....someone gets knocked in the head or a beer bottle is thrown.  Just simple regular university talk from two colleges that are no more than 160 miles apart.

I'd take a humble guess that amongst the male population of the state between eighteen and fifty.....nearly eighty percent of the state male population has a team favorite and half are fairly serious about their team and their record.  From the female population...at least ten percent might be willing (with several sips of Jacky D's)....to clobber you or your wife because you were pulling for the wrong team there at the bar.

2.  NCAA football chat.  It's bad enough....that folks don't just hold a grudge on two teams....but against the NCAA itself.  If some ratings have come out and slammed either Auburn or Alabama....it's worth a serious discussion, and if you defend the NCAA.....you might not make it out of the bar alive.  This is especially true in early November as the bowl mess is often discussed.  As for defenders of the NCAA?  I doubt that you can find more than one thousand in the whole state.....but they are a fairly tough crowd and willing to sip beer and whisky among the worst of the worst in America.

3.  Bush versus Obama.  There are some die-hard Democrats who will get a bit frisky at a bar, and the minute that a pro-Bush guy walks in.....it's discussion time.  With alcohol flowing.....it's a simple task to get two guys all fired up about two one-star marginal political figures.  Yeah, they might actually assault each other, or threaten with a pistol at some point.

4.  Ex-girlfriend chat.  Sadly, you will have some guy who dumped some gal a month ago....walk into a bar....start bad-mouthing this gal....and the new current boyfriend walks in and gets all hostile about protecting his "Wanda".  Most bar participants will simply stand there and be amazed that anyone would defend Wanda....or that someone wanted to drink aggressively when they had an apparent four-star gal at home.  If Wanda isn't there....there's a lesser chance of serious escalation.  However, if Wanda is there....she's likely egging the new guy to beat the crap out of the old boyfriend.....just for pure revenge.

5.  Accusation of stealing chat.  We have odd events to occur in Bama....where guys get a reputation of robbing folks or stealing property.  Naturally, they aren't smart enough to move away or shy away from public bars.  So they walk in....get a dose of negative criticism.....over some suspected robbery.  Comments go back and forth.....and eventually assault is just one step away.  Add a sip of booze, and things get very hostile.

6.  Someone done my family wrong chat.  This is typically where someone has wronged a relative (getting some cousin pregnant, divorcing some gal, refusal to pay back a wrong).  Relatives in Bama get all peppy about standing up, getting into heated discussions while drunk, and assaulting folks when necessary.  Even after a good fight, and the ambulance has arrived....guys will still pat themselves on the back over their remarkable courage, and stupidity.  The family will typically talk for years on the guy's evening at the hospital while defending the family name.

7.  The family loan chat.  Gus borrows a thousand dollars from Grandma to buy his nephew a new bike (Grandma is told over and over....bikes went up in cost).  Relatives discover Gus bought a $16 used bike, and is sitting at the town bar guzzling drinks with the left-over money.  Relatives of grandma go over, get into a fairly intense discussion, and Gus is too drunk to avoid confrontation.  Aggravation leads onto assault, the cops, and an ambulance being called.  Grandma gets called later to come down to the hospital because Gus is all bound in bandages and needs someone to drive him home.

8.  Out-of-state chats.  Occasionally in Bama....it will come out while in a heated debate over something between two parties....that one party is not from around the local parts.  He's from Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Georgia or Florida.  That pumps the potential for violent assault up one notch. If the guy is from Texas or New York state....the escalation potential goes up another ten percent.  Folks in Bama might have some limited compassion for a argument with a local guy....but out-of-state folks....that's another story.  Now, this said....Bama folks will freeze the minute that you say you are from Alaska.  Bama folks don't typically meet many Alaskans....and there might be a momentary pause while they ask about the weather, grizzly bears, glaciers, the drive from Washington state up, and Sarah Palin.  The Alaska guy might eventually be made into an honorary good-friend of the Bama guy....only because of their unique state status.

9.  Corruption chats.  This is typically where one city council guy has done corruption, and someone in the bar wants to defend the honor of his associate or relative.  It could involve a minister who got corrupted and robbed the local church of $500.  It could even involve some school teacher who stole $100 from the school lunch money fund.

10.  Finally, drunk arguments over drunk arguments.  This is typically where a Bama guy has consumed a fair amount of beverage, is randomly talking over Baywatch, Democratic politics, Ford F-150 trucks, septic tanks, fellows from Army boot-camp that he met, savior talk from the last revival, public transportation in Montgomery, sewage reports from CNN, and a brief report of Japanese war activity in 1944 in the local newspaper.  A fight erupts from talk from another drunk, and one guy gets shot or stabbed.....mostly over something, but no one remembers what it was.  The cops hate this kind of report because it's spread out over sixteen topics and likely to be a five-pager.

All of this brings us to the favorite topic of non-drinkers in Bama.....that alcohol ought to be outlawed across the state....with all counties being dry.  If bars were shut down....murders and assaults would go down drastically....at least that's what we are often told.  The same discussion could occur if we got rid of NCAA football (in my opinion).....but Bama folks would never accept that change.

My humble opinion on a diverse Bama topic.