Saturday, 24 May 2014

A One-Star Speech

It was an odd speech. President Obama....at a fundraiser episode in Chicago....Thursday night.

The President put a great deal of blame for lack of achievement in his agenda, toward the Senate, which has a certain rule formula put into it since 1787....two senators from each state.  Prior to the 1900-era, a state legislature choose the Senators....NOT the public.  The President kinda left that piece of the story out.

As the President said.....it creates this wave of disadvantage for him.  It's hard to imagine this, and how he'd rearrange the Senate to fix itself....other than all one hundred from one political party.

Then the President got into demographics being part of the blame for achievement limitations.  As he noted....Democrats are urban players, and show up from big cities (like New York and Chicago as he suggested).  For some reason, this gives Republicans some type of disproportionate control over Congress.

If you sat there and took the speech serious....then you had to think....well...the Democrats ought to be out there in the rural regions of America and small towns....selling the same message, and thus have ninety-percent of the control over the House as well.  Well....they are out there and selling their message....it's just that the rural folks and lesser cities aren't buying it as much as the urban mega zones.

Then finally, the President suggested that the Democrats were suffering from some type of pest causing people not to vote for Democratic candidates....for any position.

Back in 2008....President Obama gave mostly all four and five-star speeches.  I can't think of anything for that whole year that was less than a three-star situation.  The past two or three years?  Spiraling downward on speeches and suggesting some fairly comical situations unrelated to reality.  I haven't heard a single three-star or better speech for 2014.

This political fundraiser speech?  Lousy.  What would you do to fix the Senate imbalance he suggests?  Maybe reduce the Senate to twelve guys and limit the Republicans to two positions?  Maybe get rid of the Senate entirely?  Maybe limit the Senate to just visiting foreign countries, approving treaties, and approving cabinet officers?

And this disproportionate number game for the House?  People elect them....the same people who vote in Presidential elections.  It's just that each state has rigged up practical and complex districts....to help certain voters and certain lobbyists.  How would you fix that?  We could sit around for an entire years discussing it and not come to any rational conclusion.

Sadly, this is what we get for political speeches these days.....lousy commentary, and nothing worth paying $1,000 for a plate of roast beef, mashed potatoes and ice tea.

Rough Men of the Original America

There is a brief little story which never gets brought up in high school history, or for that matter....even college history courses, over an incident in 1622 which lays out the behavior of Americans....way before 1776 or the Constitution.

You see....the development of America goes back to 1607 and Jamestown.  The Plymouth crowd and the Pilgrims?  Well....they would arrive fourteen years later.

Jamestown was the centerpoint of America, civilization, and survival, in this this era.  By 1622, there were roughly fifteen-hundred (1,500) people existing in the Jamestown region.  That includes men, women and children.

The neighboring Indian tribe....the Powhatens....had gone through a leadership change, and by 1622....they had decided that the Englanders were a problem and needed to be eliminated.  Toward early spring, an attack was mounted.  The Powhatens didn't need absolute extermination.....just a massive attack which would lead onto the normal expectations....namely, that the Englanders would grasp the threat and leave.

The results of the attack on this one day?  347 Dead.  Roughly one-quarter of the entire civilization that existed in the Jamestown area.....gone.

It was openly discussed in Indian circles for days after the attack that within two months (two moons), that all Englishmen would be gone.

Well....it's an interesting thing.  When word got back to England and you'd expect someone to get peppy....yank settlers back and rethink this whole new world concept as being unsafe.....it went exactly the opposite way.  They sent back a couple ships of troops and men....armed.

The hostility of the survivors of the attack?  That's an interesting thing too.  They openly went rogue, burning up Indian corn crops in the region, and attacking Indian villages within striking distance of Jamestown.  It took six months....but they more or less dragged the same attackers from March of that year.....into a suggested negotiation phase.

What can be said or suggested here....is that it's hard to imagine some settlers being easily agreeable to some form of negotiation with people who'd killed a quarter of their civilization just months before.  Well....they weren't that agreeable.

For the festive negotiation phase....English alcohol was to be brought in and laid out for the guests (the Indians).  There were good containers of booze, and there were poisonous containers of booze.  The Indians drunk the bad stuff, and around two hundred of their party in attendance....got fairly sick, and were easily killed by the Englishmen at the scene.

The expectation that the Englishmen would just roll over after the massive attack, and leave?  Well....they guessed wrong about this crowd.  The expectation that the same crowd would be stupid enough to negotiate in good faith with the attackers?  Well.....they guessed wrong about that too.  These guys who came early on into Jamestown....weren't the wussy type or likely to accept rough treatment.

"We sleep safely at night because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us.” is a quote that gets attributed back to George Orwell and Winston Churchill.  The quote fits for those Brits who came in the early 1600s, and stayed.  It says alot about the character of men who arrived and stayed.

Simply Observations

I blogged this last week....over Representative John Conyers of Michigan and his failure to accurately get enough signatures to get onto the primary ballot.  The district clerk declared he could not be on the ballot.  Well...yesterday, a federal judge stepped in and said that Michigan had too hard of a system to get onto the primary, and tossed out the situation....saying Conyers is now on the ballot.  No real shocks locally.....they all expected someone to help save Conyers.  Interestingly enough, the same type scenario occurred two years ago, and the federal judge in that case didn't want to help the guy involved....Republican, if you were curious his political identification.  My prediction in the primary is Conyers easily picks up sixty percent of the vote.

Press reports indicate that some guy walked up to the White House security gate and noted that he had an urgent appointment with the President, but wasn't on any visitor's list.  The guy argued for a second and then began to take off his clothing.  Yeah, he got down to nothing, and then the White House cops decided enough was enough.  They hauled him downtown for assault (he did try to throw a punch) and indecent behavior.  Adding to the episode is that ID that he showed.....was a foreign ID.  No one says his nationality or name, but I'm guessing he's probably another Canadian guy on drugs.  Just my humble opinion.

Some smart guys at University of Oxford sat down and analyzed life expectancy of folks with mental disease.   They came to some curious conclusions.  Generally, if you got some mental issues of an extreme....you are carving off ten to twenty years of life from the normal expectations.  For recurring depression?  It's seven to eleven years less than average.   Bipolar?  It's nine to twenty years less.  For drug or alcohol abuse?  It's nine to twenty-four years less.  What they point out is that folks with mental issues don't access healthcare in appropriate manners for physical issues....until it's too late.  The bottom line?  A smoker might get more life years than a bipolar person.

Finally, some astrobiologists (yeah, there is such a profession) stood up this week and talked to Congress.  They more or less said....it's absolute on life being found out in the universe....maybe bugs, maybe bigger critters, maybe even human-like creatures.  Not any of that ninety-seven percent deals....it's one-hundred percent.  And as they hinted....it's only a matter of time before we come to have full evidence of such a situation.  And then what?  Well, it'll charge up most folks to ask stupid questions over creation and if there are a thousand Earth's out there.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Bama and Climate Change

Business Week, a publication that usually centers it's reporting on business situations and infrastructure news.....got around this week to a report on Alabama, climate change, global warming, global cooling, and more improved infrastructure needed in Bama.

It's an interesting story and worth the eight minutes it'll take to read it.  Basically, we have a guy who works for the South Alabama Regional Planning Commission....Kevin Harrison, who continually goes to get more funding and cites increased tornado, hurricane, and storm episodes.  What Kevin wants to imply, without using the magic mythical words (climate change, global warming, global cooling)....is that Bama is facing a terrible future and needs to plan better bridges and think years ahead on spending for projects.

I won't use the map that Business Week put up....because it generally shows all of Mobile, and twelve-odd counties GONE once the climate changes.  Yeah....wiped out....in the water...seawater is worse than creek water, if you didn't grasp that in the mess.

Kevin has a tough job because he really can't get anyone in Bama real huffy and freaked out on climate change.  If you went around any county court house in the state and asked a hundred folks over the age of twenty-one....seventy percent would say they've heard of climate change but don't think much of it....kinda like the NCAA changing its bowl process and never doing it.  Five percent might stand there and say several things about it and mention how their cousin is planning on moving from Gulfport to Montana....using this as an excuse for the move.  Twenty percent of the folks would admit they've never heard of this term and ask if it was in the Old Testament or the New Testament....hinting it might be the 'end of days' rapture stuff.

Not to say that Bama folks are naive or such....but it's hard to say something MIGHT happen....just purely on some science that relates to models.  You see....folks around Bama have had these folks appear at the house and talk of this barn-painting scheme, or fence-painting deal, or some roof renewal sale.

Most folks have this aversion to a gimmick that tries to sell itself on fancy talk or perceived science tossed out in the middle of discussion.  The barn-painting deal will usually invoke pluto-minimum paint, which was developed by the professors at Mississippi State back in the 1970s and leaves a shiny color for seven decades (or so the story goes).  The fence-painting deal will always involve red paint, and be described as a Sears-like paint but sold for half the price, and sprayed on.

The continual mention on CNN of climate change?  Well....Bama folks aren't watching CNN much, or MSNBC.  They generally watch the local news, and maybe the first fifteen minutes of the Today Show to see if Matt is peeved or if there's some fire in California again.  Other than the hour Bama folks get on Sunday with the local Baptist minister....there's not alot of time to sit around and get frustrated over what MIGHT or MIGHT-NOT come.

My general advice for Kevin?  Well....when a bridge washes out....maybe it's enough then to get people peppy.  The trouble is that we've all seen dozens of bridges washed out, and then get replaced.  As for climate change?  Well...folks tend to remember the hot summers of the mid 1970s, and the cold winters of the mid-1990s.  Weather comes, and goes.  Trying to get climate change rated above NCAA football or some local Baptist revival....well....it just ain't going to happen.  You got better odds of Hee Haw returning, or some Democrat winning the state governors election for two terms and avoiding prison for some corruption deal.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Economy and History

I often stress history because it tells a lot of lessons.

When I was a kid....in 1968....a burger at McDonalds cost eighteen cents.  The soda at the school break area?  It was ten cents.

Seven years later?  The same burger would cost  you around thirty cents, and the soda would have cost around twenty cents.  A substantial rise?  Yeah....partly because of the economy, and partly because of the escalation of oil pricing.

I did some research.  If you were around in 1970 and desiring college in Utah....you would have paid around $390 for the entire year....for tuition.  Books, food and housing would have been the substantial stumbling block for your lifestyle.  Today?  That year of tuition at the same university in Utah is $7000.  The books, food and housing?  Probably triple what they were in 1970.

In 1940, you could have bought a simple plain wood house....for around $3,920.  Today, in a non-urban area....like Alabama....you'd need to spend around $65,000 to get the same plain house.

In 1970, you could buy gas for around thirty-six cents a gallon.  Filling the tank up?  It would around five bucks.

For the greater part of the 1970s....economists generally agree that most folks when thrust into unemployment.....were there for fifteen weeks.  Today?  It's closer to being greater than thirty-seven weeks (more than double).  You then consider that there weren't advertised jobs off the internet, highly trained HR squads in companies, or fancied-up resumes in existence.  You generally had some typist fix up one generic resume and made a few copies of it.  In effect, we have three times the effort, the cost, and the delay built into hiring today.....than in 1970.

Industry jobs?  The economists say that we had around eighteen million Americans in 1970's industry.  Today?  We barely have twelve million occupying jobs in industry.  Automation, foreign production, and smarter production values all helped.  There's probably one million Vietnamese folks who are today part of the American industrial cycle....supporting the needs of America....while residing in Vietnam.  If you had said that in 1970....people would have laughed you out of the room.

Locking things?  In 1970....most folks NEVER locked their car-doors, and probably over half of America never locked the door to their house.  Today?  We not only lock the car-doors, but we invested in car alarms and various devices to defeat the thugs.  Our homes?  Alarms installed, and we all have guns in various corners to meet the thugs head-on.

Economists will tell you that in 1970....roughly one in fifty Americans were on some type of public assistance (food stamps, welfare, etc).  Today?  One in six.  Who paid for the difference?  Well....you the taxpayer.  Could we eventually get it down to one in four?  Yeah, probably so.

In 1970, I had access to four channels (ABC, NBC, CBS, and the Alabama Public Access channel....the educational channel as we called it).  Today?  My dad has the satellite TV deal fixed up and could have four-hundred channels flowing into the house.  To be honest, once it got up to ten possibilities....that was all we kinda needed.  The rest?  Just wasted digital space.

You'd think there was some lesson learned out of this history lesson.  But no.....there's nothing much we can learn.  We are simply walking toward further out and wondering just how big a mess you could fall into.

Simply Observations

A couple of things that I've noticed.

Yesterday....another (the second) flight out of Venice, Italy to the US....was forced to land in Ireland because the steward/stewardesses were extremely sick.  Yep, half-way through the flight, and the crew in the back couldn't handle it.  Two times?  You can guess the deal....some kind of cheap hotel for a day of rest, with food poisoning as part of the deal.  You'd think the airline would have gotten smart and found another deal after the first episode (just last week), but no....they were pretty dependent on staying for more.

There's a science report out there over a guy who had OCD bad, and doctors felt they could change his behavior with some pulses sent to his brain (via a gadget similar to a pacemaker).  Things work out fine and he generally notices less and less OCD.  Then, there's this funny discovery....he's passionate about Johnny Cash music.  Well.....to the extreme.  He won't listen to anything else now....just Johnny Cash music.  You can sense.....there's some scientist sitting out there....who'd like to study this guy and see if you could center into this one part of the brain, and you could pulse it enough....to turn people in Bee Gee's fans, Lady GaGa fans, or maybe even Little River Band fans.

You won't see much mentioned in the press about it.....but the feds showed up in Oregon, with subpoenas and are looking at the way they burned through $500 million in three years for a failed Affordable Healthcare Act web site.  What will happen is a couple of fed agents will do the search warrant stuff.....glean over the bills and invoices....then some idiots will get dragged into a grand jury (fed jury) and talk over how fed and state money was squandered.  All this leads you, the accused, to hire up some $400-an-hour lawyers....who eventually soak you for $20,000, then recommend you try to make a deal to screw another member of the crew over, or accept some plea-deal for two years in a federal prison.  All in all....when you do something this stupid....to lose $500 million....you need to go somewhere for your screw-ups.

This VA thing....if you notice....it's not going away.  There's not only court stuff that will come out of it.....but some murder accusations will be tossed around in various states.  Some VA administrators and doctors....will get called into a grand jury room and have their $400-an-hour lawyers advising them to work plea deals.  It just seems....with roughly eighty billion a year spent on the VA, that we'd be better off to identify the GI's who are deserving of the service required, dish out the yearly cost of a GS-health insurance policy, and just let all these former GI's arrange a local private health deal on their own.  Yeah, cease the VA entirely, and we'd likely save everyone money and hassle.

Finally, I noticed over at Slate this morning....this really positive story out of Bama.  Take a few minutes and read it.  Basically, some guys have been working on construction projects for two decades.  The emphasis is.....build a house for $20,000.  What they found was....yes, it's entirely possible to build a regular house, with all the general features you'd desire, for $20,000.  Now, I admit.....Bama folks aren't picky....they aren't pushing for fancy bathtubs.....they don't care for gourmet kitchens.....and generally, every single house has a front porch of some practical use (based on the pictures I observed).  Maybe folks might glean some knowledge by observing this and get practical on the future of house building, for the folks in dire circumstances.

Monday, 19 May 2014

What Public Voting Means in Switzerland

The Swiss went to vote this weekend....on issues, not political candidates.  Yeah, it's an odd thing.  Basically, the political parties decided that buying new fighter jets and bulking up the minimum wage....was way beyond their ability.  Imagine that in the US.

So, on spending roughly four billion on a squadron of new fighter jets?  No.....won by around eight-percent.  No one was really able to charm the public on the idea that Switzerland needed replacement jets.  To be honest, no one has really threatened the country in 150-odd years, and it's a hard sell to convince people to spend billions on something of limited value.

The other big item to vote on?  Raising the minimum wage to the equivalent of twenty-five dollars an hour.  Yeah, it's a hefty amount to imagine.

Here's the thing....the vote to raise the wage lost...by more than thirty-percent, which says a good bit about Swiss society and they perceive the issue.

Living in Switzerland....is a pretty difficult deal.  I've been to the country several times and can say it's the greatest place to visit for a weekend or week....but you need to shell out cash about every hour, and life isn't cheap.  Most folks tend to say....to live an average lifestyle....you need $4,000 a month.  You add this up and come to realize that it's a hefty price.

The reasoning for the massive 'no' vote?  What business operations said was that they'd pay it if they had to....but they'd decrease their operation by some degree because they weren't going to sustain enough profit.  People listened to the argument and eventually agreed.

The end?  Well....no.  What some pro-minimum wage enthusiasts say....is that it'll come up again within a decade, and it'll eventually end up passing.  The political figures who declined to vote on this and turned it into a national vote?  I'm guessing the major parties all knew it'd fail and they avoided bad public relations on the subject.

Running a vote like this in most US states?  Well....it might pass if you said $8.80 an hour.  To suggest $12 or $15 an hour?  No....I don't think a single state would get enough public votes.  So, it comes down to political parties putting it as a big draw item, and trying to pass it nationally.  The same might have occurred with the fighter jet situation in the US too.  If you said we could only buy twenty-two jets for four billion dollars.....we'd vote that down too.  Maybe it's a good thing we don't run public votes like this.

Friday, 16 May 2014

College Woes

A couple of weeks ago....some economics students from the US and Germany....stood up and made a remarkable statement.  Basically....they were tired of seeing a continual trend of education....tilted toward one particular side of economics.  Their general argument is that it's not a very recent trend.....that it's been going on for decades.

Economics is a science that has a number of theories....none proven to absolutes.  There are trends, and they get explained.  Once some economic system has moved on.....then more theories are put on the table....to be used until another trend has occurred. What the students are generally saying is that the college professor crowd is busy explaining the current trend, but rarely going back to look at past theories or trends.

This brings to mind what history has said about colleges and their original purpose.  The Catholic Church in Europe was the original sponsor of most university settings.  Call it the background of 'enlightenment' or whatever....but a noted number of scholars at the time....were called into large rooms to challenge young men to think.  You were given some useful tools of analysis....some logical assumptions....a few facts.....and by the end....you had an open mind.

One of the curious things about American colleges throughout the 1800s...was that you could not graduate any university, unless you took a class or two in debate, and actually engaged in a few debates.  Today?  The vast majority of university requirements leave out debate or argument as mandatory.  They mandate an English class or two....maybe one science and math class....and then it's wide open.

Equating today's university system to the colleges that existed in the 1600s?  I think if you measured it upon an open mind and logical abilities to deduct conclusions....the graduate of today would not be able to stand up against the minds set loose four hundred years ago.  Today's graduates would have facts, and know various processes and theories....but when you get down to reasoning and asking more questions....he'd mostly just sit there and look at you.

What will become of the students taking this stance on economics?  The university chancellors will quietly sit down and ask some stupid questions....and suggest that maybe a professor or two be added.....who teach subjects generally left off the big list of topics.  The university will then turn around and admit that it's more of an experiment....than a real change...to see if this makes any real difference.  Just my humble opinion.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Ten Current Events and Likely Outcomes

Generally, the news guys do a lousy job of analyzing events and what is going to happen either next or at the conclusion.  So, let me pour over ten current big events.

1.  Hillary and the Prism Glasses.  It got out into the news this weekend that Hillary might have issues left over from the fall down at late 2013, with the concussion keeping her for four weeks in a hospital, and she might have brain damage as a result.  No real facts, but let's ponder upon one absolute fact....the prism glasses she wears.  Normally, no one gets prism glasses unless you have a bad concussion or a stroke, and you suffered vision problems.  No prism glasses prior to the fall....so you end up assuming some things.  I'm of the mind that there was no real fall....occurring from a stumble....but a fall due to a mini-stroke.  And journalists are trying to be careful not suggest anything....except some idiot Karl Rove fake stuff.  The gimmick here?  I think Hillary intends to influence the 2016 presidential race....mostly by not running, but having access to significant funding, and helping to influence the outcome of the race (over the Obama team's choice), and this ultimately has the favor reserved to help Chelsea (the daughter) in two to four years....get a fairly noted position in the next Democratic administration.

2.  Eastern Ukraine.  Russia is now stuck....taking on roughly one-third of Ukraine and around ten million Russian wannabe citizens....and the infrastructure involved.  More cash flow into the affected area than before?  No.  More road and bridge construction?  No.  More tourism?  No.  More agricultural output?  No.  More educational reform and funding?  No.  At some point, a bunch of wannabe Ukrainian guys pretending to be real Russians....will wake up in two to four years and ask what the heck this was all about.

3.  The House IRS Investigation.  By 2016, I see Lois Lerner in a tight bind and having to expend her own capital on fancy lawyers....and asking what the real payback will be.  Retirement?  Prison?  No real personal funding left?  I think Lois will come to say enough, and agree to sing like a bird.....which brings up five or six big name folks in the current administration.....but not the President.  The Republicans will be standing there....mostly not knowing what to do with so much potential, and screwing up the whole mess.  Lois?  She walks away....avoiding jail....retiring....and moving to some retirement community in Florida with a different hairstyle and using a made-up name to avoid recognition from the local community.

4.  By the summer of 2015...there's hardly a mention of Edward Snowden or the NSA episode.....now mostly forgotten.  The Guardian reporters still pump out a report every two weeks.....trying to take down some giant beast that they continue to talk about....but no one much cares anymore.  And Edward?  Well....sitting in Moscow....making $4,000 a month as a consultant to someone over IT stuff, but they won't let him have administrator passwords to their system because they don't trust him.  And Ed is mostly wondering if his mythical hero status has kinda peaked out.

5.  This week, we learned that the super-fit freaks...the guys and gals who do marathon runs on a weekly basis.....are seriously damaging their heart and more likely in their later ages to have a pacemaker....than regular folks who do no big work-out schedule.  This will bring up various discussions over the next decade, and eventually....marathons will be considered a bad thing.  I won't say that they get terminated, but I suspect in twenty years that instead of eight thousand people showing up at some fancy city marathon event....it might be eight hundred, and society might question the need of putting city or community funding into such an event.

6.  This Clippers-Sterling thing.  Basically, the necessity to correct Sterling (the owner of the Clippers) and his racist comments....is getting more publicity than the NBA playoffs going on currently.  To be honest, if you asked a hundred people to name names in the current play-off rounds....ninety-five percent would drift away and claim no knowledge over that, but know of the Sterling comments.  Lack of emphasis on the game itself?  Yeah.  The need to punish Sterling a bigger topic than the playoffs?  Oddly enough.  My guess is that the NBA will try to take the franchise back....some California judge will say that the wife can claim half-ownership, and therefore stop the whole game.

7.  The Republicans winning in November.  Yeah....so they win, and then what?  There's not much to say or anticipate.  Just more thrilling chatter from the heartland over a lousy bunch of political figures (doesn't matter which party).....and nothing getting into a normal state of affairs...just the next round of fighting.

8.  I noticed this week that Baltimore's mayor is suggesting a 9PM curfew rule for teenagers.  Note, it's only a suggestion and no one really believes it'll happen.  The lawyer crowd?  They say it's unconstitutional.  If you use the same logic.....it ought to be ok for teenagers, when acting as a militia.....to carry guns, since there's no age limit for militia members written into the Constitution.  This 9PM rule?  As much as it might fix things....zero chance of happening.

9.  The BLM situation in Nevada.  Basically, it just evolves onto the next level.  Until some President comes up and does an executive order deal.....forcing the BLM crowd to dispense land back to states....it'll just continue on.  Neither Congress or the Senate really want to resolve it.....because of the fake issue value attached to it.

10.  The Tea Party Evolution.  I don't think the Tea Party will ever disappear.  In fact....by 2016, you might see Tea Party enthusiasts start to think endorsing some Democrats who pick some neutral positions....because the Republican guys they endorsed were such losers.  This is why both parties hate the Tea Party stance so much....as it could help and hurt them both.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

This Boko Topic in Nigeria

For days, I've been watching this Boko Haram episode unfold in Nigeria.  Basically, Boko and his henchmen of Muslim radicals.....kidnapped around 200 girls from some local school, and intend to sell them off as either slaves or wives.

The current chatter is that political figures and human rights folks are really irked by this behavior.  The Nigerian political folks?  They seem irked as well.

This campaign to Twitter-chat over it has started up (#bringbackourgirls). Journalists chat about this, and talk of how bad this is.  Some journalists will even mention that the US government has avoided calling Boko and his boys terrorists.

So, some simple advice.  In the old days.....when some sinister bad guys did something.....you pulled out these characters....rough men with no real morals and just told them to overturn every stone and make life miserable for the guilty party during the episode, and to rest them six-feet under at the conclusion.  That's basically the requirement in this case.

What Nigerian thugs have been sent after Boko and his gang?  You get the impression....none.  What parents in Nigeria have hired up rough thugs to hunt down Boko?  It would seem none. The US?  We claim that we've repositioned some imagery assets to look for the folks.

I'd turn it around.....offer up one million in reward to pinpoint the general location, and find myself a hundred guys with the intent of rescuing the girls, and transporting Boko's thugs out into the Atlantic and just dump them there for sharks.  I'd even tell them over radio broadcasts that there's no gentle treatment for them at the end.....shark-bait, period.  I suspect Boko's coolness would drop like a rock and the girls would be found in twenty-four hours.....with Boko dead, and the gang quietly gone into hiding.

Twitter talk....is mostly ok if you are talking about climate change, the pipeline crap, or tax reform.....all fake issues, which fake Twitter talk will suffice.  In real life......talk isn't necessary.  Once you state an end-conclusion where some real thugs are on case.....things tend to happen.

Monday, 12 May 2014

A Story of a Haircut

It's not a story that will get told on CNN or in your local paper.  If you browsed around, there might be a dozen newspapers in the entire US that carried the story, and it'd just be forgotten real quick anyway.

So, two guys go for a haircut.

In a normal typical day.....tens of thousands of guys go for a haircut.  Most have a preferred barber.  They have a routine......stepping in...reading the local news....maybe sipping some coffee.  The TV might be on, or the barber might be chatting away on NCAA football, a Baptist revival, or discussing the best way to brew garage-beer.

In this particular case....the barbershop is in Yemen....a far piece from American soil.  The two customers?  One was a CIA guy and the other a Army special forces Lt Col.  It's safe to say....that in Yemen....you do as the locals do, and you carry a gun on you.

For some reason, these two guys were picked from the various folks coming and going at the embassy there in Yemen, and were supposed to be kidnapped.

The kidnapper crew?  I'm not sure if they really had much of a plan, or if the head mullah of the local Muslim facility just said a few magic words and figured it'd all be fine.

Well....our two American guys pull their pistols out and kill the two terrorists.  Reports won't indicate the shape of the barbershop after the event.....but it's safe to say that there's no more issues ever to arise from these two fine young gentlemen of a Muslim orientation.  They've gone to the six-feet under world.

The barber?  Well....there's not much said.  I'm sure he's a bit shaken.  He probably didn't get to finish the haircuts.  And there's probably a reputation about his customers now.....they aren't the type to give easily.

This old world is not a peaceful place....or defined as a friendly place.  You do stupid stuff....you end up six-feet under.  You think about your place in life, and gauge the circumstances of which you'd like to enjoy.  If you don't have much to live for.....obviously, you lack something....as these two young gentlemen did.

The Business of the NFL

I rarely write sport blogs....mostly because I consider the NBA a 'weed' of an operation, major league baseball is fundamentally flawed with fake records, and the NFL is simply the NCAA on steroids.

This weekend....the Saint Louis Rams ended up drafting Michael Sam (the first openly gay NCAA football player)....in the seventh round.  Generally, some wondered if Sam would get picked up by anyone.  The seventh round status?  Well.....it means you don't get a big contract, and it's probable that you last maybe five years max in the NFL unless some coach takes a liking to you and decides you have more talent that recruiters believe.

In the case of Sam?  Most believe he's not really a potential star, and might only be a two-star performer.

Why draft him and the social status business it brings?  Well....it's about empty seats.

You see, in Saint Louis....the Ed Jones Stadium is built for 66,000 fans.  For the eight home games of 2013, they averaged around 56,957 in attendance (ESPN numbers).  Nine thousand empty seats.  You do the math.  It's a fair amount of missing profit.

So, here's this marginal player, with some capability.....who you offer a good basic contract for four years probably.  You push the coach a little to hype the guy, and put the guy into a starting position three or four times in 2014's season.  Maybe start him six times in 2015.  The odds are in your favor that another thousand fans will attend Rams games....only because Michael Sam is gay, and openly so.....and they want to show support.

A thousand more per game, for eight games....figure these are all idiots who'd pay $75 a ticket, and waste another $150 on parking, beer, and food.  Plus, they'd bring a buddy with them.  It adds up.

I hate to suggest that you manipulate a social thing, and use a guy just to get more fans into the stadium.....but if you built something for 66,000 and are missing 9,000.....you are doing something wrong.  Plus....if you pay this guy a limited contract and get 1,000 more fans in the stands....it makes perfect economic sense.

The NFL isn't around for social causes or changing American perceptions.  It's there for profit.  Sam equals profit....no matter how you review the situation.  In five years....he will have shown virtually no real talent and get dumped.  He'll write a book over the period, and then likely get hired by the Today Show to thrill viewers.  And the Today Show will make profit off Sam.  End of the story.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Stonehenge and Big Cows

This week....a little science story came out which has a major twist on history, and Stonehenge (one of my favorite tourist places to visit, which I agree....it's more of a 'trap' than anything else).

If you go to Stonehenge...about two miles east of the area is this small town of Amesbury.  Today, there are 8,900 folks who reside in the village.  To be honest....if Stonehenge wasn't just around the block.....I would imagine the size of Amesbury to be a lot smaller than it is.

For years and years.....no one really put Stonehenge and Amesbury on the same scale of things.  You might stop off in Amesbury to eat lunch or stay the night after visiting Stonehenge, but no one much pays attention to the village.

Well....guys got around to digging and came to realize that Amesbury has an awful lot of buried history, which goes back to 8,820 BC.  That's 10,000-plus years ago.  That kind of started the historians, and basically put Amesbury onto a new prospective....the oldest known community/city in England.

So, it brought out this interesting idea.  They can show that Amesbury was there.....longer than Stonehenge.

Based on items dug up, there's now speculation that Amesbury's original crowd knew that they had some unique features and likely had some very creative characters in the local area.  Add to this feature....some Auroch cows.

Now, I admit...I didn't really know much about the Auroch cattle.  It's an interesting thing.  This is a breed which goes back to the stone-age period and is a fairly big critter.  To be honest....it's size kinda makes it a bit dangerous to be around and getting one of them upset....probably trouble.  And I doubt that you can outrun this guy.

The locals in Amesbury apparently had a passion for the Auroch, and it was a major part of their structure.  I'm guessing they had come to this interesting change in culture.  They had gone from the hunter-gatherer cycle......to the stationary farmer cycle.  But this Auroch cow fits heavily into the scheme.  You breed and run a herd of Auroch cows.....which you easily deliver your beef substance, when you desire.  No one says much about the local herd, but I'd take a pretty educated guess that it was more than a thousand head easily, and the herd provided beef to the locals, and to the visitors as they came by.

Where does this lead one?  Well....Amesbury took this hillside area, and it's believed that some development took place, and Stonehenge was put into place.  The local river?  Avon is a small river which has roughly twenty different contributing streams or small rivers leading into it.  You could live north or south of Amesbury, and easily travel to region....visiting for trade, beef, or to get some religious feeling from the Stonehenge monument.

I can imagine this legend stuff being passed around....folks noting the fine beef over at Amesbury, and a bunch of guys taking off four or five days to go down.....have some ale, some beef, and chat over gossip, while visiting the Amesbury religious site.  A guy would sit there and look over an amazing slab of beef.....48 ounces....cooked real tender....and probably desire to come back often.

Maybe this is how Stonehenge became such a big deal....mostly because of the beef....not the solar cycle.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Maybe Get Serious on Climate Change?

Being from Bama....I'm a practical guy.  When you start to get all peppy and extremely serious over global warming, global cooling, and climate change.....I'll just sit and mostly ask questions.  I'm curious how your models are so perfect, yet we can't develop the same perfection with models to predict NCAA winners, the best quarterbacks to draft in the NFL draft, accurately predicting loser TV shows before we even get to episode one, or how to build the perfect vehicle for safety (maybe it is Volvo and we just refuse to grant that assumption).

This week, the White House brought a bunch of weathermen in, and did some kind of discussion.  I guess it's supposed to garner massive support and get folks to talking.

Well....I'm of the poker mentality.  Let's double up.

I'm going to say that it's all legit, and the glaciers are disappearing, the North Pole is melting, and water is rising.  In fact, I'm of the mind now that it'll rise, and Washington DC....roughly 140 feet above sea-level....will be threatened within decades (my numbers, not theirs).

So, I think instead of talking of doing nothing....let's get serious and agree that Washington DC will be under three feet of water within a hundred years.  Its our duty now.....to put funding up, and move the capital entirely (with the White House).

My suggestion is northwest Alabama.....out into the non-urban territory of Lauderdale county, where it's mostly cornfields and presently woods.  We carve out this "district" and simply buy it all as federal property, then convert to DC II.

Yeah, there's massive construction involved.  We need a new White House, new capital building, new Library of Congress, new Supreme Court, new fed buildings, etc.  Well over 500 billion dollars.

Yep, let's take all of this serious and put it back on the table....insisting the global warming talkers finally get real.  Staying in DC is not possible.  It won't be there.  Neither will NY City.  For ABC News and the guys who continually talk about the terrible woes....it's time to talk about moving ABC to Buffalo or Syracuse.  For NBC's Today Show, it's time to consider moving the network and studio to Saratoga Springs.

Either you take this absolutely serious and start moving folks and cities, or you pretend it's just a gimmick for redistribution of money from the rich to "others".  I suspect no one will agree to move DC or the NBC studios....and it kinda brings home the real facts to the case.

Would the folks in Bama understand and agree to DC II?  The first year of discussion would be difficult.  Strangers with agendas aren't readily accepted in Bama, until you promise something in return.  How long would it take to build DC II?   I'd speculate at least twenty years, and would require a work-force of 80,000 folks.  Everyone in northwest Bama, along with southern Tenn, and eastern Mississippi would be in some fashion on the project.  It'd be like the TVA business from the 1930s....just bigger.

I'm guessing there's quietness in the room, and the global warming crowd has kinda walked away.  They'd rather not get serious about moving....because all that government funding would be for something of zero value on their list of priorities.  In essence?  It's all a joke.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

A Little History over CD Rates

My brother will harp on this discussion topic a fair amount.  CD rates at banks....are lousy.

In 2012, the six-month rate was around .63-percent.

In 2007, the year prior to the fall.....it was around 3.50-percent.

In 2000, before 9-11, it was 6.75-percent.

In 1997, in the midst of the Clinton-era, it was 6.70-percent.

In 1990, we were actually getting 7.50-percent for a six-month CD.

Toward the last six months of 1989, the six-month rate actually floated between 10.40-percent and 10.13 percent.

Toward the middle of the 1980s....the average CD rate for six-months floated around seven and eight percent.

For ALL of 1984.....the CD rate was ten to eleven percent.

In the first four months of 1980....we had this amazing monthly rate that ran: 13.48-Jan, 14.58-Feb, 17.74 for Mar, and 15.80 for Apr.  Yeah.....it was an amazing period.

Most of the 1970s...the average CD rate ran around five to six percent a year.  For five months in 1974.....we ran ten to twelve percent on the average six-month CD package.

Throughout most of the 1960s?  It stood above five percent for every single month, and in a fair number of months....above six percent.  Around mid-1969, we briefly tangled with eight percent for a couple of months.

The truth is....if you bring up the topic....most everyone under the age thirty don't remember much about CD rates, and they generally accept a rate of one percent as normal or average.  For those over sixty.....they remember the glory days and how eight and nine percent....locked into an account for a year or five years....really mean something.

Why the low rates for such a long time?  There's three basic reasons that the experts always bring up.

1.  The US is now perceived as the prime place to park money internationally....because we are ultra-safe....compared to various Asian countries, Middle-Eastern areas, and the European Zone.  So, the rich arrive...park their money....and there's no need for additional capital in US banks.  To be honest.....they are overflowing, with other folks' money.

2.  Bank reserves are at a all-time high....something is unique and unusual.  Why pay more on CD rates....when you have the money sitting there?

3.  The Fed's target for short-term rates is awful low.....which affects the perceived outlook for long-term rates....which is where CD rates would be affected.  If the Fed said short-term perceptions were growing better....they'd raise their rates (something they quietly don't feel is good right now).  For six years.....their perception on short-term rates has been AWFUL low and you'd have to wonder if there's more to the whole Fed story.

I went looking for rates in the 1930s....and the best I could find was savings rates.  The typical savings account ran between .6-percent and 1.0-percent.....for a fair amount of the depression era. Toward 1936, it actually dropped to .1-percent, and for 1938/1939.....it was 0-percent.  Yeah....ZERO percent.

The odds of it going back to three to five percent?  Most economic experts say it's a cycle, and that it has to retreat back to a norm....sooner or later.  Course, they don't want to guess when this cycle will end.

So when Uncle Karl drinks a bit, and reminisces over 1980 and how he got locked into seventeen percent interest for a couple of years with his savings....he's not joking.  If he did a five-year CD....he turned better than seventy-percent growth over that period with his money.  Today?  Five years might get you six-percent growth over the entire period.  This is why Uncle Karl drinks so much probably.


Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Simply Observations

Sometime last week....I came to notice that CBS pounced on Fox News....over the Benghazi episode, and released documents.  CBS investigative analysis proudly stated that the copies that Fox News was showing (coming from the House committee), and what the Judicial Watch guys had just gotten....were different.   I think the CBS guys were hoping that they'd finally caught Fox News manipulating data, changing evidence, etc.  Well....as of this morning....it's now understood that the House and Judicial Watch guys.....got slightly differing versions of the same documentation, which means some idiot in the Administration is now caught altering documents.  The CBS guys are now standing there.....probably in shock....that they really tripped up an unintentional mess for someone in the White House to clean up.  Meanwhile....this really puts a threat into place that special prosecutor will have to step in to clean this up.

East Carolina University is preparing for the graduation ceremony coming up, and a professor put out a list of rules for acceptance speeches.....because of past trends.  The chief rule?  You can't thank God for graduating.  It's purely an educational experience....NOT a religious experience to attend four years of some university setting.  This was handed down by a professor, who claims he doesn't want to upset some members in the audience.  Naturally, this being Carolina....with a fair number of folks being religious.....it got into the news.  The university administration itself?  It appears they don't want to get into a mess, and won't do much to support the professor's 'request'.  If this is such a big deal.....maybe folks should run two graduation ceremonies....one for easily upset people and one for hearty tough folks.  To run through four years of intense classroom activities, and have this 'thank God' thing come up.....is comical, if you ask me.

Finally, there's some minor report (hard to say believable or not)....that the Saudis are going to reroute one of their contracted militia groups in Syria (fighting Assad's Army).....to Ukraine.  The group?  Mostly Chechen fighters.  You see....the Saudis have been upset with Putin and Russia for months after they kinda edged in President Obama on Syria chemical weapons.  Nothing much is happening currently in Syria, and these are contracted mercenaries anyway.  So the story goes....the Chechen guys would come in and help fight the Russian bad-guys in eastern Ukraine.  Naturally, Chechens HATE Russians, and there would be some serious pay-back going on.  You'd start to see news reports of a dozen dead Russians here....forty dead Russians there....and then some group in Russia itself would blow up another bus for full-effect.  At that point, Putin would have bad karma going on, bad public reactions, and be unable to reign in the mess on his own soil. My guess is that the story is barely true....maybe some talks going on and the Saudis thinking about this idea.  Frankly, it'd open up a bigger mess, a more involved conflict with Muslims, and the Ukraine would probably question where this would end up.  Maybe true....maybe false.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Kent State Saga

I'm a history buff....going through changes, reactions, revolutions, disasters, and mayhem of society.  What few people ever appreciate about history is that it teaches various lessons....if you pay attention.

Forty-four years ago yesterday....the Kent State episode unfolded.  Over the years.....I sat and kinda wondered why no one ever made an actual movie over the events of the week leading up to the National Guard shooting and the deaths of four students and the wounding of nine others.  The chain leading up to the event, and the chain leading after the event....is kind of interesting.

Richard Nixon was voted into the Presidency with the key promise of ending the war.  Journalists and radicals will say that it was an absolutely bound promise and when the war showed some tendency to widen in the spring of 1970.....it was the beginning of the next and final level of student unrest in the US.

By April.....there were dozens of student cells operating on various campuses in the US.....running protests and rallies.  In those days....parents and students weren't paying $30,000 a year for tuition and board, so the idea of disruption on a campus being a bad thing was zero.

In the week leading up to the 4th of May 1970....the downtown area around Kent State....where the bars and pubs were.....was in a active violent state.  Windows smashed.  People shoved around.  The locals had never seen anything like this, and the merchants were in a fit over this activity and where it would lead.

The town council and mayor?  They reached a point where every single cop on the police force was called in and working around the clock.  Requests went to other neighboring towns, and even to the governor.  The only active plan that you get from history was a two-prong strategy....shut down the bars entirely and use tear-gas.  Beyond that.....there's nothing else on the board of strategy.  Without the booze.....students went kinda nuts, and the tear-gas simply made the whole downtown area into miniature war zone.  You can imagine yourself a local....fifty years old....standing there in the chaos and watching your town dissolving and tear-gas in the air.

On the 2nd of May....the Mayor, the city council and a National Guard chief from the state....sat down.  What they perceived from the rumor mill was that some special radicals were coming or soon to arrive....who would basically burn down the university and the downtown area.  You can sit there today and laugh over such a belief.....but that's the way that rumors worked in 1970.  Added to the belief in the rumor....people only had to stand in the street the day or two before and observe the tear-gas being used.  No resident of the community would have ever expected this type of behavior, or the reaction of the police.

You can imagine this scene.....community leaders worried about a downtown business district burning away.....limited or marginal fire department resources.....students and customers possibly dying in the blaze-to-come.....and absolute chaos.

So, you'd make this decision.....allow the National Guard in and counter the consequences.

In 2014, you could run another scenario in your mind......a weak mayor.....a worried city council....all worried about political fallout, and making almost no decisions.  The cops of the city seeing this.....back off......the chaos cells around the students sensing this.....and various buildings set ablaze.  Over the next twenty-four hours.....the local fire department and another five or six neighboring departments react....trying to hold the blaze to two city blocks.  Two days later....only charred remains of forty-odd buildings and maybe twenty people dead, with twenty more missing. That is the alternate history that could have come.

Instead?  By the evening of the 2nd of May.....the National Guard guys have arrived on campus.....to find the campus National Guard building (a older wood building) ablaze (somewhere between 10PM and 11PM.  There's a crowd that is generally estimated at a thousand....standing around and watching it burn.

The fire department?  Well....this is the strange part of the story.....the city fire department reacted and actually showed up.  Over the next hour....various audience members tried to interfere with the effort to put out the fire.  No law enforcement entity attempted to arrest these guys, and it probably just provoked them even more.

By early Sunday, the 3rd of May....there were now a thousand National Guardsmen on Kent State.  They were there...prepared for trouble, and expecting just about anything.  The reactionaries?  This had been a chess game of sorts for days and weeks.  Beyond breaking windows, breaking into campus buildings, inciting crowds of students, and burning down the ROTC building.....they hadn't crossed that mythical line of death.  Maybe they were that bright....maybe it was just the next step in this whole process.....you simply don't know.

Somewhere on the 3rd of May....while all this chaos was underway at Kent State....the Governor was working on some legal paperwork.  He announced somewhere in the midst of the day that he would have stamped and approved paperwork to say that the National Guard was now the controlling authority of Kent State.  They would enforce law, dispense justice via legal means, and return stability to the city.

You can ask yourself this question....where in the Ohio state constitution was the line or two where the Governor could dispatch and put state guardsmen as a controlling authority.  To this day.....no one can really show the legality of this action.  What happened in the hours after he said that he would pursue this action....is nothing.  No court approved document.  I suspect that most of the state judges all questioned the legal nature of this and where things were going....namely.....martial law, enforced by the Governor and the Guard.

While all of this was going on....there was a massive rally planned for 4 May (the next day, Monday)....at noon....in the center of the campus.

The university desperately tried to curtail this...publishing a flyer (at least ten thousand copies) and insisting that as long as the Guard was on campus....no rally could be observed, period.

Noon approached on the 4th....the rally participants started to mingle, and the Guard took their planned steps....to counter and disperse the crowd.  At some point.....tear-gas was used, and things turned into a more chaotic state at this point.  I doubt if the reactionary leaders on campus really had a full-up plan.....that the rally was simply to stir up negative Guard feelings among the students.

At some point, some students end up luring Guardsmen (one small group) to follow them, and they end up in a football practice field.....up against a fence, and the protesters.  You can imagine yourself.....a young Army guy....feeling threatened and that your life was now in jeopardy.  I doubt if the protesters grasped that or understood what their handlers had done.

The Guardsmen finally reached a point of breaking out of this 'trap', and were in some form of retreat, but with the crowd following them.  A fair number of the seventy-odd Guardsmen turn, pulling weapons, and firing.  Some fired in the air....as warning shots....and some fired lower.  Comments suggest around sixty shots were fired total.  The deaths and wounds.....come from this episode.

Four years would pass by before the court had sorted through the entire mess.  The Guardsmen stuck with the story of feeling threatened.  While a Grand Jury did agree that there were circumstances to try the men in court.....the case was bound in weakness for the prosecution. One case against eight of the Guardsmen basically fell apart because the judge didn't see how any case could be mounted under all the circumstances he saw.

The federal case from 1975....considered the bigger of all the court episodes.....fell apart because a majority of the jury just didn't believe the Guardsmen were at fault.  An appeals court disagreed with this outcome....noting at least one member of the jury had been threatened, and ordered a whole new case.

In January of 1979....the punishment phase of the episode came to a conclusion.  The state of Ohio, rather than the Guardsmen, the state National Guard, or the Kent State University.....would pay roughly $650,000 (total) to the wounded, and the parents of the dead students.

What happened after Kent State?  University officials from across the nation sat down, and wrote quiet policy changes which basically said....if you were a trouble-maker....you were brought in and officially kicked out of the school....in such a manner where records would exist and if you tried to enter another school, they'd likely look at the way you were removed and ask you to leave the new university.

After Kent State....parents started to ask stupid questions.  Why send a kid a thousand miles off to some respectful school....where they might die under some act of violence related to a anti-war rally.

As you look around American universities today....you don't see this type of behavior.  They might have a weekend each year where they drink excessively and local cops come out to establish authority.  Most campus operations now have active police on the patrol campus operations, and you could be detained and tossed out of school for bad behavior.

Some people tend to write the Kent State episode as a terrible part of police brutality and the unnecessary death of innocent students.  They fail to ever discuss the riots downtown, or why the Guardsmen were ever called to the city itself.  As naive as these people pretend to be.....they are more of a reality problem now.....pretending there are no lessons from the episode.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

The Little Failings of Democracy and How They Solve Problems

I tend to point sometimes at the shortfalls of democracy.  On the practical level....democracy is kinda like a 1966 Ford Mustang.  It requires some maintenance, some tender adjustments, some close observations, competent 'mechanics', and a willingness to make due when it's just not that perfect.

One of the things that few Americans ever grasp....is that we are fifty separate states....with fifty mechanisms for running each state, it's legislative process, it's election process, and it's leadership bucket of candidates for various offices.

Up in Michigan, they have this rule about running for the House of Representatives (an election which holds itself to a two-year cycle).  The rule says that you must go out and get petitions signed by folks of the state, that the petition be handled and managed by actual registered voters, and that the petition be verified to some degree by a county or district judge.  All of this leads to you being on the primary list and possibly accepted by the party apparatus of that district.

It's a process that's been in effect for several generations.

I noted this week that the current representative for the thirteenth district of Michigan....has failed in his petition drive.

Normally, it wouldn't amount to much in the news cycle, and won't dare be mentioned on CNN or Fox News.  But there's an odd thing about this episode.

John Conyers is the present Representative, and he's been in office for fifty years.  He's done the election game at least twenty-five times.  He knows precisely how the rules run....how they work to his advantage, and what can go wrong.

In this case....Conyers had a couple of people doing the petition drive business....who WERE NOT registered voters, a mandatory part of the petition drive.  I can't imagine how you'd screw up on this....having done it over and over.  Bad campaign manager?  I can only guess that it's a person who rarely handled such affairs in the past.  The problem I see....there's not just one unregistered petition handler....there's two.  With one....I could understand a minor misunderstanding.  But not with two screw-ups.

What's this lead onto?  Well....there's this deadline....coming this week.  The district names have to be certified to be on the ballot.  So, there's only three possible outcomes.  Some judge could step in and just say it was a pretty minor screw-up...so he'll allow the two petitions to stand (as is).  Everyone will grin and wink, and the judge will get a hearty thanks from behind closed doors over his willing nature to fix screw-ups.

Solution two?  Throw out the two petitions for nomination, and thus cancel John Conyers from the ballot.  This means he has to run as a write-in vote.  Odds of winning?  Probably still better than sixty-percent chance.  This is the safe approach for the judge and keeps him out of the mess created.

Solution three?  Well...I checked and there's only one Democrat who got the primary ballot petitions fixed up in time.  Strangely enough.....Horace Sheffield III, a minister from the New Destiny Christian Fellowship Church.  He's an energetic guy....at least the locals say that of the pastor.  He's got a minor problem in that he's recently (Jan) been apprehended for some domestic issue with a wife that he is divorcing (so the news media says).  Other than that.....there's nothing negative about the guy, and some folks are simply talking of him as better selection because he's a new face for the position.

For some reason, I'm of the mind that Conyers might have screwed-up on purpose....giving himself an exit formula that his sponsors and handlers couldn't handle.  Conyers is eighty-four and probably not that willing to continue on.  The trouble is....this is a district without any real contenders that sponsors would latch onto and feel good about.  A local minister?  The only guy who turned in sufficient ballots for the Democratic primary?  It just has a funny smell to it.  Maybe the pastor made a quiet plea to God for a little extra help and this was the only method for God to help the guy out.  Stranger things have happened.

So, you might want to watch the Detroit district area this week and judge how this petition things goes.  It might be kinda interesting to see the judge support the law and cancel Conyer's petitions invalid.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Jeff and the Pitchfork

I read a lot of newspapers.  Yeah, a guy with time on his hands....can afford to that.  On occasion, there are oddball stories that I come across....that won't make it into most papers or be discussed on CNN or any network.  So this is one of those stories.

Over in the Norcross area of Georgia....there's a Waffel House.  For those of you who've never been in a Waffel House....it's a small operation....tending to be near interstates or four-lane roads....where real working men stop for breakfast....cheaply.  You tend to stop for a cup of coffee, their waffles (always good), and maybe some greasy bacon.  I have a preference for the hash browns and salty ham slabs (which tend to be loaded with sodium and is pretty bad for me in obvious ways).

The customers at a Waffle House at 6AM....is mostly working class guys.  They are there to mostly eat, discuss NCAA football, read the frontpage of the local newspaper, sip down some awful strong coffee, and maybe wink at the hostess gal serving them.  The hostess gal might wink back, or offer some philosophy moments over bad marriages, bad boyfriends, bad car purchases, bad weather, or spiritual advice on entry into heaven.

Generally, a guy can't go wrong....stopping off at a Waffle House.

Well.....up until Thursday of this past week.

You see....there's this guy (we shall only address him as "Jeff" because it's better off that you not know him, his history, or his feelings about Waffle house manners.

Jeff came around the Norcross Waffle House in the evening hours....long after the regular working guys have gone on.  Evening visitors are mostly truck-drivers, guys on the way to night-shift, or some old widower guy who just needs half-an-hour of sympathy from the hostess gal.

Jeff brought a pitchfork along with him....intent on robbing the Waffle House.  Yeah.....it's an unusual 'weapon'.  Back in Bama.....pitchforks are work tools and not a weapon of sorts.  But this is Georgia, and if all you got is a pitchfork....it's better than nothing for robbing purposes.

I also think there's no state law on pitchfork use in a crime.....so there's no armed statutory laws which fall into place.

Jeff....fifty years old.....waved the pitchfork around....yelling at folks to make it into the backroom.  I'm kinda surprised because there's usually not much extra space in your average Waffle House, and it's to imagine a dozen folks standing in such a confined area.

Then Jeff grabs the cash register....while dropping his pitchfork.....and heads out to his truck.  I can only assume that the most Jeff might have gotten away with....was maybe $400.  Hardly worth six months in some county jail.

Well....apparently in Norcross....the guys who work at Waffle House are a bit more tough than the average folks, and they just didn't stand around in that back room.  They gave chase....grabbing the pitchfork as they headed out the door....to Jeff's parked truck.  And using the pitchfork.....they broke the side window of Jeff's truck....effectively shocking Jeff, and ending the whole episode (as cops came a few minutes later)....before they could whoop Jeff in the parking lot (I can only assume they were prepared for such action).

Jeff and drugs?  Well....no one says much, but I'm prepared to take an educated guess....Jeff is on some type of drugs....maybe prescription stuff....maybe meth....maybe some pain-killers.

There in the local law enforcement evidence locker?  There's a tagged pitchfork.  By June, some court hearing will be held, and Jeff's lawyer will contend that Jeff might have a substance problem and it'd be awful nice to just give Jeff thirty days in jail and some rehab treatment.  Meanwhile, Jeff will have a reputation around the jail as the pitchfork expert.

Gospel singers will write a spiritual tune to Jeff's terrible woes.  Country music writers will write sad pitchfork songs over Jeff.  And some local ladies will come to pray for Jeff....maybe that the Lord might show some charity on Jeff's path of wrong.

The folks at the Waffle House?  For weeks and weeks....they will chat over the robbery attempt and how they quietly stopped the guy in his tracks.  It'll make for stimulating conversation, and be an improvement over political talk and upcoming elections.

A simple story, with a simple outcome.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Simply Observations

For about ten days....I've been watching this NBA-Donald Sterling-Clippers-racism episode unfold.  Several things strike me as odd.....this eighty-year-old guy with a wife but openly having a hostess-liaison gal who works as some employee for the team and he gives her expensive car-gifts, and she's supposed to be around for 'brains' and 'expertise'?  USA Today did an update today....describing her days from high school (just twelve years ago) as a person after expensive clothing ($800 jeans), expensive cars, and a lifestyle beyond the norm.  Sterling is reportedly under treatment for cancer, and likely on some serious pain-killers.  But none of this really matters because of his racist comments on his girlfriend's boyfriends that she drags to the Clipper games.  My only real thought is.....you wonder how so many NBA teams are financially screwed up, and this is the general answer.....marginal employees on the payroll with no real appreciation of the sport, or the business.....all because the boss is not that bright to start with. Finally, who exactly would hire her for any upscale job now?  I think the million a year in gifts and salary....probably has come to an end.

Liberty Crier put out an interesting listing....the one connection between almost all mass killers over the past two decades.....prescription drugs.  Roughly thirty-five individuals.....doped up depression drugs, Zoloft, Luvox, Prozac, Paxil, Ritalin, Effexor, Celexa, Lexapro, Wellbutrin, Trazodone, Xanax, and Ambien.  Kids, adults.....people with depression....people without depression....etc.  You might want to read the five-minute article and start to look at people around you who are on 'meds'.  You will notice one odd thing.....there are mass killings accomplished without the aid of a gun (hammer, bat, etc).  Perhaps we are worried about the wrong thing.....that guns are the problem here.

The Washington Post put out a federal list of fifty-five private and public colleges....under investigation over sexual assaults and lack of 'control'.  There's some big name colleges on the list....none in Bama (maybe a positive).  There are three basic issues.....booze openly and freely used by both guys and gals to an extreme, lack of a real threat, and immature teenagers (doesn't matter if they are saying they are twenty-one.....they are acting like thirteen year-old thugs).  So, you do three simple things: (1) on the first day of in-processing at the college.....put them all into a cell for fifteen minutes and let them know that sexual assaults could end up there, (2) actually kick kids out of colleges and dissolve any college credit gained at that university during their stay (even if they did three years already), and (3) make every guy attending post a hefty ($$$$) bond on day one that will be redeemed at the conclusion of four years.....screw up by assaulting someone and you lose the bond.

Finally, there's some science comments over Mount St Helens.....possibly in explode-mode again.  Based on numbers and analysis....some folks are getting peppy.  I was living in Tacoma at the time of the last eruption, and could see the volcanic smoke from my barracks window.  For roughly six months, anyone who lived within thirty miles of the zone were fairly miserable and it took a long time for stability to come back to the region.  The news media?  Within three weeks of the eruption.....it was a zero topic.  It's curious how these matters progress and then drift down to nothing.