Friday, 27 February 2015

Capitalism, the Internet, and Three Guys

I put a few hours each year into reading on economic theory.  One of those topics is the replacement cycle of capitalism and free trade.

In our midst, there are thousands of individuals with the general drive and agenda to take down capitalism.  Their feelings run along these lines: (1) society is being limited, (2) classes of people are unfair, (3) people are unfairly using their assets for purposes which run counter or against society, and (4) happy people would benefit equal portions of ownership.

I will sit and listen to the arguments and then pause to hear the replacement for capitalism and free trade.  Rarely are solutions put on the table.  When they are put on the table......you begin to realize that someone has to stand in the middle of life and force life decisions down up on the people at the table.  A fair person?  That's never injected into the scenario.

For some reason, I don't see capitalism or free trade ever going away.  The best you can do....are 'brakes' put upon the system and simply slow things down slightly.  Call it a hybrid capitalism system or impure capitalism......it doesn't matter.

This week, we got an example of a 'brake' with the FCC deciding that they can take over the internet management game.....doing it to protect American society.  By their mind, if someone offers up faster network speed at a more expensive price....it's unfair.  The FCC would like to step in and stop such practices.

The internet today?  It thrives off non-existent 'brakes'.  If you had suggested twenty years ago you'd be able to make free phone calls off the internet......no one would have believed you.  If you'd suggested that a South Carolina guy could search for a one-of-a-kind 1953 Ford tractor, and find it in Honduras.....working the deal and getting it delivered to South Carolina.....no one would have believed you.  If you had said a guy could post a repair video for outboard motors and save you $500 by doing the work yourself.....no one would have believed you.

The internet has been unlimited.  It has changed an entire society.  Now?  Five guys (or really three of the members which represent a majority) will be the personal 'brakes' of the internet for the United States.  Three guys working for you?  No.  Nor is there any mechanism for you to stop something that you dislike....other than voting out the President and hoping the next guy will fix the issue.

Somewhere in this mess of yesterday.....three guys felt they were the solution to a non-existent problem.  The question left now.....what issues will they create.....to justify their existence?

Monday, 23 February 2015

The Mall Scenario

The Mall of America is now mentioned by some ISIS group as the next big target in the US.  I sat and read through the reports and pondered upon this.

Bloomington, Minn is a fair sized city, and the Mall of America is a big operation.  The state makes around $2 billion a year off taxes and fees from the operation.  Reportedly, the mall not only runs their own security force but also an anti-terrorism group (at least NPR claims that in a report from four years ago).

When you sit and look at some threat like this.....you kinda wonder if these 'bad guys' have some idea about what they might face.  You can figure what an average mall....at least five-percent of the folks in the mall carry a handgun in their purse or within their jacket.

Unlike cases that have unfolded in Europe or Africa....on a good day, there might be 500 folks armed to some degree within a typical mall, and another 500 who have a weapon in their truck or car.  If they retreat from the mall.....you'd best not assume they are simply retreating and leaving.....they are simply going to pick up their shotgun or pistol from the truck, and return for action.

As silly as it sounds.....four stupid Islamic teenagers on some jihadist adventure might find themselves within sixty seconds facing off forty civilians prepared to erase their existence from this earth.  We aren't talking about a marginal caliber weapon....they might be carrying some decent firepower.

Here's the other odd thing about this whole scenario.  For several decades....folks have been arming themselves to face off a simple robber or nutcase.  Let's say we change the scenario slightly....where one single group of three dimwit Islamic teens think they might test people in a mall or public situation.  Within a month of such an event.....you might find people now convinced to haul not just a Walther PPK, with a .380 round possibility....but to have it only as weapon number one.  Somewhere in the truck will be the Saiga 12 shotgun, with the ten-round magazine.  Next to it....will be the third weapon....an AR-15.

A guy packs up each morning.  He's got his hot thermos bottle with coffee.....some donuts....his charged-up tablet....his PPK....his Saiga 12 and his AR-15.  Couple of punks decide to test society at some local mall.....this guy and a dozen other such guys climb out of the cab of their truck, and take the punks down in sixty seconds.

With such scenarios in place....the anti-gun crowd is finished.  They won't be able to pursue anyone to give up their weapons....ever.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

The Priorities of a Everyday Person

Some 'got-you' reporters attempted to corner Governor Scott Walker this week.....asking the questions to get Walker to say President was Christian or not.  This was to be the weekend cover story for the Washington Post, and generate some form of criticism over Walker.

Walker countered in the answer given.....he has no idea what religion that the President is identified with.  Then he noted....the news media seems concerned over issues with no value.  Regular people have different priorities in life and this idea of the President's religion isn't at the top of the list.

This brings me to this odd feature of American life today.....where you get briefed throughout a day....via the 6AM news, the NPR folks as you drive to work, the CNN folks at lunch, Limbaugh as you drive home, and Fox News during the evening.  They want to get you settled up with their priorities and goals.  Well.....they really don't mesh up with real people and their priorities.

Folks sit and get frustrated over taxes.....local sales taxes, regional property taxes, state income taxes, gas taxes, airline ticket taxes, federal taxes.  When did the Washington Post ever talk about this frustration?

Folks sit and talk over road conditions in their region.  Potholes, bridges of a questionable nature, limited access, and too many lights?  When did the Washington Post ever talk about this frustration?

Folks sit and discuss public bond programs which they are against.  When the local city volunteered to build a $700 million football stadium with public bond money, and there's not much discussion....when did the Washington Post ever talk about this frustration?

Folks sit and ponder upon the $15,000 they will put down this year for healthcare costs (their monthly payments and the deductible), and how they can keep up this type of payment as it escalates each year (likely to be $20,000 within four years).  When did the Washington Post ever talk about this frustration?

Folks sit and confer over the hassle of TSA folks, the amount of time wasted at airports, and the crappy rules that were implemented.  When did the Washington Post ever talk about this frustration?

Farmers sit and consult with each other over regulations.  Every year.....more rules get added and it's a problem staying ahead of the game.  When did the Washington Post ever talk about this frustration?

Grocery stores, truckers, taxi drivers, small business owners....they all have various problems which aren't featured by the Washington Post or any of the real news media sources that blanket us today with their prioritized news.

Walker is right....but we are stuck with a bunch of people trying to get us hyped on non-existent issues or problems.

Friday, 20 February 2015

The Bathroom Discussion

Various political agendas have started up at city and state levels over the past year or two over an odd topic.....transgender folks needing to use a public toilet of their choosing.  This mostly started up around bigger cities, where urban priorities were falling around the LBGT folks.  Naturally, a second side woke up in the middle of these discussions and arguments.....preferring that things stay kinda simple.....you use the public toilet of your birth-sex.  As you might guess.....these argument intensified.

A smart guy would ask....across the entire United States.....three-hundred million folks.....how many are transgender?  There's not a real database to really use.  From 2011.....a foundation did some research and claimed that they came to a fairly decent number.....which was 0.3-percent.  This, if correct and matched up against three-hundred million residents....would mean that 900,000 folks present fit into the transgender category.

Now, a guy from Bama would stand up and note that they've never met such a character.....in their vast travels across the state or even up into Tennessee or Kentucky.  Well, that might be true.....but then you didn't travel across to Baltimore, Orlando, or Seattle.  And you likely didn't hit the right bars.

If a guy or gal did happen to develop into a transgender type.....they'd likely pick a major urban area where other transgender folks hang out.  So, in a small town in Tennessee of 25,000.....it's unlikely you might bump into such a person....normally.

What qualifies you to fit into this lifestyle?  You either do an operation of sorts to get things rigged up the way you want, or you just kinda pretend this is the new lifestyle....without any modifications.

The connection to the toilet deal?  When a guy has to go.....he has to go.  Doesn't matter if he's a pure guy or some modified guy-turned-gal.

The problem comes up when you go off to some library in some major town, and you come to realize some guy without all the modifications or body changes.....has arrived in the women's bathroom, and there might be old ladies or young girls in the room who might take offense to this situation.  It's kinda like you had a pet thing with rattlesnakes and took one with you in a bag to the library, and he needed some water.....folks might get peppy if you dragged your rattlesnake out and dosed him with library water in the sink of the women's bathroom....while dressed in a fine satin cheapo thing from Big K, which brings out your lady-like character.

My solution to this whole mess is to go back to out-houses.  You know.....that four-foot by four-foot wood building out back the house or facility.  If you go back to the pre-1920s of Alabama.....most stores had a toilet, but it was a out-house.  A guy or gay went to the multi-purpose facility.....did their business.....as regular or overloaded as they were, and then they left.

I realize.....we've come a long way, but there's just no way to fix this without some folks getting upset.

Now, since I am a pondering sort of guy.....I do have one other thing that has come up in my mind.  Eventually, while we are pretty scientific and creative....we will come to create not just men-converted-women and women-converted-men, but we will have oddball science fiction creations which are not male or female.

You know....like creatures you saw on Star Trek or Star Gate.

A guy might spend three years studying weird things and decide that he needed to be some alien creature type thing, with four ways of getting stuff out of the rear end.  He might decide that a 3rd ear needs to be added.....a third boob.....and maybe some fancy cat-like tail that dangles a good three foot.

What toilet will these folks use?  With this addition of three more devices to get crap out of you.....there might be a need for a whole table-like device in the toilet, with a waterhose, and some large bucket.  I don't think guys or gals would appreciate something like that in their current toilet.

All this means.....is that building codes are going to be written up over the next thirty years to have six different toilets on every floor, and a vast army of janitors will be around to clean just about every kind of crap possible......from a wide variety of folks with different agendas.

I know.....it's the kind of stuff that you'd prefer your Democrats or Republicans to just avoid, and work on top priorities (potholes, legalization of marijuana, improvement of ditches, water treatment facilities, hookers reported with local ministers, and interstate highway improvements).  But, life is life, and just being normal.....isn't exciting.....like transforming yourself into trailer transexual-women, or fake men with rubber attachments.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

The Degree Business

Howard Dean is one of those foundation-think tank Democratic strategists that you can spend around ten minutes engaged in his discussion.....then come away asking a dozen questions because what he brought to the table.

This week, Dean got all pepped up on Governor Scott Walker, who is in the top-three for the Republican primary season, and the fact that Walker never graduated from college.  To be president, as Dean puts it......you need a degree.

I read through the episode.  Walker finished up three years and somewhere in the midst of the fourth year.....got up and walked away.  He got a full-time job with the Red Cross and got started on a political career.  I admit....most folks who were a semester away from finishing college.....normally finish.  But I admit that some folks get hyped up on college, burn through a significant number of hours of stress, and reach a point where they can't see any logical reason to wrap up the goal.

I worked with some guy years ago who had a daughter in some state university.  She had screwed up on the first year and basically wasn't going to get any credits out of what was done.  Money flushed down the toilet, as my associate described it.  Somehow, the girl emerged in the second year and got wise, and by the end of the third year (two years of college credit), she got a decent job and just walked away.  In her brief explanation to dad....she couldn't see any reason to continue, and the stress of tests was hefty.

As for our need for a President to have a degree?  Well, why would you say that only a lousy four-year degree qualifies a guy?  He'd have to have a Master's Degree or PhD.....if you were so engaged on educational requirements.

What if the guy had a Master's Degree in electrical engineering?  Would you even want a guy like this as President?  He'd be rewiring the White House and talking up schematics constantly.

What if the gal had a PhD in veterinary science?  Would you want her as a President?  She'd have horses out on the west lawn of the White House and be talking up vaccinations and 'wild behavior'.

What if the guy had a degree in library science.....French literature.....Shakespeare studies.....or agricultural business ethics?

Harry Truman is the last President that we had.....without a degree.  Few people realize this....few care.  If you get down to it.....neither Washington or Jefferson attended any college.  Their private instruction and studies?  You could put both up against the brightest of Harvard today.

Scott Walker came back onto the Howard  Dean's comment quickly.  He noted.....America just didn't need another Ivy League guy using a teleprompter to deliver some crafted speech.  In a way, he's right.  The trouble is.....we don't have a requirements list of things a guy ought to be able to do....before coming President.

For example.....a primary candidate ought to have run a business for a couple of years.  A primary candidate should have taken a trip across the US in a car for four weeks and seen the bulk of America from the prospective of locals.  A primary candidate should have read forty American classics (Huck Finn, to White Fang, to Grapes of Wreath, and To Kill a Mockingbird.  A primary candidate should have the ability to balance a checkbook, talk NCAA bowl selection issues, and be able to change a tire.

My fear is that Dean will open up this whole thing of college education and folks start asking about grade point averages.....something that President Obama probably doesn't want to have an open discussion about.

The bottom line?  If the White House was a pretty technical place where the President personally ran the budget business himself and he had to handle all foreign affairs without any Secretary of State....then Dean might be right.  The truth is.....the office of the President has become a position where you simply need to look Presidential.  Beyond that....nothing matters.  Even with a Noble Peace Prize.....a guy could still be stupid enough to bomb the crap out of some country with no real plan or agenda.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Guys You Don't Ask Science Questions

You get to be a Islamic cleric by studying the three key documents to the religion....the 'trilogy'.  To be kinda honest, if you went back more than a thousand years....your stamp of approval was that you could recite verse after verse with strictly memory and no document.

Beyond the three document phase, most of these clerics don't know anything else.  You wouldn't call them up for transmission knowledge for Fords.  You wouldn't ask them for advice on crops or gardening.  You wouldn't pose any stupid questions on fashion, nutrition, or plumbing.  And you wouldn't ask them to pick a decent Italian wine for dinner tonight.

I bring this all up because someone got a Saudi Islamic cleric to appear at a university lecture in U.A.E.  Oddly, one of the students decided to throw a non-Islam question at the cleric.  Maybe the student knew how stupid the guy was, or it was just an innocent mistake......you just don't know.

The question was.....does the Earth move?

You could go and test a thousand kids in the sixth grade, and virtually every single kid would have a ten word answer, responding...yes, the Earth moves.  Some might note more science to the answer. Some might even give a demonstration of the magnificent feat.

In this case, the Islamic cleric answered....'no, the Earth doesn't move'.  He went into a long-winded piece, saying the Earth is a stationary device....that the sun revolves around the Earth....and if the Earth did move, how would airliners ever reach their destination?

So, you sit there and assemble this answer.  Some folks would say 'dumb, as rocks', and they might be correct.  But you see.....to be a cleric, you kinda have to limit your vast world of knowledge and keep things focused around the Quran (a 6th century product).  If Muhammad didn't note Earth movement, then it's not anything important to remember or analyze.

But this brings me to this odd topic of discussion.....there are tens of thousands of Islamic clerics out there who get various oddball questions thrown at them.  All you need is for the bulk of these guys to answer stupid science questions in this way.....for more educated Muslims to start laughing off their religion and just being pretenders.  They might not quit, but they reach a point where reality outweighs stupidity.

Luckily, he didn't say the Earth was flat, or that Nessie the Loch Ness creature was real, or that there is some interior Earth where aliens live.

Monday, 16 February 2015

A Family Story of Sorts

Once upon a time.....should be the introduction of this historical essay of sorts.  These are all events that lay mostly as boring historical pieces of world history, and the vast collection of American kids won't ever hear of this simple story.  For me, there is some significance.  So, I'll try to tell the story.....as simply as it is.

Going back around a thousand years ago.....England was an isle mostly under attack from various neighbors.  For sixteen years (959 to 974), King Edgar had been accepted as the leader of England.  What you can chiefly say of his life and rule.....he was a fairly peaceful gentleman, and been able to unify the various factions that existed in England.  After his passing, it's safe to say that no one who came to rule England for decades.....did it with any form of peace or unity.

After King Edgar came King Ethelred (the Unready).  The Unready term comes up because most people felt he never took wise advice or consulted with people.  Whether true or not.....the Unready term stuck to him for the rest of history.

King Ethelred's wife would be Emma of Normandy (the sister of Richard II of Normandy).  This in itself ties Ethelred tightly to the Normans.

In today's world....the Normans are a tribe of people who existed around the coastal plain of France, and the size of Louisiana today.  They would eventually fold into the French empire.....but for a long period....the Normans were themselves....not French.

What comes out of this period of 978 to 1013 are two chief things from King Ethelred's reign.  Civil war action against the remains of the Vikings dominate almost the entire period, and this connection to the Normans starts to be a major part of the future for England.

Edward the Confessor will rule from 1042 to 1066.  What can generally be said is that he solidified the public, kept political intrigue to a minimum and only rarely showed instances of ruthlessness. Oddly, Edward will have no sons.

When Edward passes on......there is this belief in the mind of the Duke of Normandy....William II....that he is the rightful individual to take the role as King of England.  Either through letters or discussions....words spoken by Edward gave the William this belief.  It's an odd circumstance, but it's what developed.

Somewhere in the mix of things....a Earl from England simply assumed the role of King (Harold Goodwinson).  There's no real written rule on how this would all work....so simply assuming the position requires only a number of Dukes to side with you, and it's a done deal.  Except in this case.....William of Normandy disagreed.

For roughly nine months.....King Harold runs England.  Somewhere toward the very end of summer....Norway will stage an invasion of England with roughly 15,000 men.  The Norwegians will find themselves in a tough spot, and eventually lose.

Strangely enough....just days after this last battle occurs.....William of Normandy stages his invasion on the far south of England.  He arrives with roughly 10,000 men.  There are arguments about the number today.....but most historians side with the 10,000 number.

When you sit and ponder upon timing.....in this case, timing is everything.  As king, you can call together a massive army to put down some invading force.  But there's two periods of the year when the priorities are with planting crops and harvesting crops.

While King Harold does a good job in getting some quick force assembled for the original invasion and put down the Norwegians by late September....it's time for most farmers to return to their farm and harvest what they grew over the year.

Whether William of Normandy knew this or not....it's not written into history.

So King Harold moves southward to counter the Norman invasion.  He has at best....7,000 men.  Somewhere around Hastings.....around an hour's drive south of London, along the coast.....Harold and William will meet  up.

There is to be one of the greatest battles of all time in terms of significance to occur.  14 October 1066 will be the day.  And the battle will start around 9AM.

Harold holds the higher ground and is in a better defensive position.  William has around 3,000 Calvary staged near the rear of his front, and have a large assortment of archers.  He is prepared for open terrain type fighting.

What most historians will say is that the battle was not progressing well for William, and at some point.....his troops on one flank felt the battle was lost and was moving toward the rear.  William came to pump up these guys as they were retreating.  Oddly, the stationary side of Harold's troops on the hill.....felt they had the advantage finally and took off (without orders).....chasing the Normans who were in retreat.

At some point in this episode.....the retreating Normans stop.....stand and fight, and the advancing Englishmen fell into a sort of mess.  The line simply didn't hold, and the battle shifted.  By 3PM (six hours into this one battle)....it was over.

Harold was killed, and the bulk of the English troops lay on the field.  The Normans under William won.

Why this matters for me?  Somewhere among this group of men who sailed over and were part of this invasion force....my ancestors were there.  There are no names or family stories related to it.  Before 1066, there was no one in England with my last name......it comes only after the Battle of Hastings, as part of the Norman invasion.

As the months and years passed, this group of my ancestors stayed on.....married English women.....and settled primarily in the Kirby-Bedon area of eastern England.  Norman and French to some degree.....they would eventually become English.

The Battle of Hastings?  It remakes England, brings on the Normans, and sets the stage for the Magna Carta.  Without it, my family stays in Normandy.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

The Mobility Scooter Story

I'll point occasional developments out from Europe.

Today, it's a British trend which got noticed.  Last year (2014) five British folks died from mobility scooter accidents.  Another seventeen Brits were seriously injured and required an ambulance.  And 102 Brits were slightly injured and simply noted in some police report.

All of this got some political folks hyped up (it doesn't take much in Britain to trigger that).....so they want all mobility scooter riders to take a training course of some type.

No one is saying precisely what will be in the course....but they think the danger level now exists.  Based on numbers....there are roughly 300,000 mobility scooters now operating in the UK, and they fall under the medical-items rules....not road rules.

Naturally, a guy from Bama would ask some questions about such a course.

Will there be some kind of license now required, since the course is required.

Will there be an age mandate worked into this....where you have to be at least ten years old to operate such a vehicle?

Could a guy get a ticket for bad-driving?

Might insurance now be required for such vehicles?

What if you fail the course.....over and over....will you deny the mobility scooter for the gal?

Will there be tags for such vehicles in the future?

Who will be the instructors?  Will you have to license the instructors?

Will there be a inner-city license versus a rural license?

If cops cite you......could you lose your license for a week or two?

In Bama, we have this attitude about things.....when something becomes popular.....the political folks always want to get into the middle of it.  Kind of like fishing, hunting, drinking and demolition derby.   Each now has some laws and license involved.

My humble guess is that by the end of 2016....there will be a mandated course when you buy a mobility scooter, with some stupid license, and a marginal test which means very little.

The five folks who died in mobility scooter crashes?  Well....oddly, they don't tell the story of the five and I would imagine each was stupid enough to drive their scooter out on some highway or major street....thinking they were safe, when they weren't safe.  Maybe if you just told the story of the five in some short sixty-second video....we could avoid this whole mandated class thing.

Anyway.....just a humble view on mobility scooters.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Difference Between a European Amusement Park and a US Park

This Shoals amusement park idea is a bit hard for most people to grasp.  Most locals in the Shoals are skeptical about this and think it's a scam.

I've spent twenty odd years traveling around Europe and seen just about every single kind of amusement park in existence.

Europe has several versions of amusement parks.  I would put them into three categories.

One. This is the regular Disney-like park with mostly rides and geared toward kids and teens.  They make money....either marginally or substantially.  Few go out of business.  Their limit is that weather isn't cooperative and you rarely get more than six months of use per year out of the park.

Two. This is the water-dome park.  Run all year round.....this is a big park with strictly pools and water-attractions.  It costs a fair amount of money to heat the place, and they aim for families.

Third. This is the all-in-one concept park with bike trails, a few rides, dome-water park, pubs, golf, etc.  These run all year round....offer up cabins or condo situations, and have a reputation as a place where you want to go as an adult to relax or just dump your kids within a safe 'zone' and feel good after seven days.

When you read over the description of what these investment guys want to place in the Shoals area....they want a all-in-one concept.  Golf course, music clubs, restaurants, domed-water park, kid-friendly, family-friendly, and just a place where you stay within the confines of the compound.  Throw in a steam boat going up and down the river.....some fishing.....and plenty of minimum wage employee potential....you got the Shoals concept.

I admit.....it doesn't have an interstate connection.  I admit, there's no major airport.  And I admit that I have doubts that you'd have more than 100,000 people a year in the first two years of operation.  But they aren't aiming for the cheaper thrills group who might spend $100 a day for food and dining.  They are aiming for a family that would spend $2,500 on a week with everything included from the water-park to golf, the hotel, and food.

The size of the hotels built on the property will be the hint to this.  My humble guess is that you will find it limited to 400 rooms, with a area set to the side for another construction phase later....maybe another 400 rooms.

I'm past the point of being skeptical.....I believe it will be built.  Whether it succeeds or not.....I have no idea.  But it's not a scam.

A 'Gift' From Our Friends?

It's one of those odd stories that will leave you pondering.

You go and leave a balloon up in the upper atmosphere....to gather particles to examine later.

It comes down, and you do analysis of various things within the filter.  So, you get down microscopic things....thinner than a hair, and you come to this little ball....made out of titanium with a biological material oozing out.

Man-made?  They can't say that.  This would have been way up in the upper atmosphere.  Who goes around making titanium balls with an empty core....which you fill up with a biological material?  So far, some British scientists and Nobel Prize winners have not been able to come up with much....except they don't think it was originated from the Earth....but they can't really prove that point.

Why pick titanium?  Corrosion resistance.   If you wanted to preserve something for awful long time....not just years or centuries.....but eons.....you'd use titanium.

So I come to my humble opinion.  Let's say you were a fairly advanced race and knew of a thousand planets where life of some sort might survive.....but you assume that none exists there.....you might want to 'blast' the planet with a bucket of BB's.....titanium BB's.....loaded with various things that would evolve and plant themselves.  Trees, shrubs, bacteria, grass, marijuana, peanuts, and so on.  Whether they work or not....doesn't matter.  And you wouldn't worry about long term development because you aren't thinking of a 1,000 years or 10,000, or even 100,000 years.  You are thinking millions of years.

Unless someone comes up to prove it's only seven years old and has to be a Earth-made item.....it's pretty much going to result in everyone believing there's another intelligent life out there, and they have some type of agenda.

If you seed a thousand planets......you might want to eventually come out and check your success rate.

Friday, 13 February 2015

What Is Not the Government's Job?

This is one of those essays that I turn out, where offer some brief bit of wisdom.

It is bothersome to some degree....to be told over and over throughout a day via various news networks, newspapers, chat forums, and blogs.....of what the government perceives as it's "job".

It really isn't the government's job to create government jobs to help lessen the unemployment situation of the nation.

It isn't the government's job to determine your kid's outcome in life....other than providing some basic education across the board.

It isn't the government's job to run banks....other than ensuring banks don't shut down because of incompetence and you lose your savings (up to $250,000).  Beyond that $250,000 with that bank....if in a savings or checking account.....yeah.....the government has no responsibility and you pretty much are screwed.

It isn't the government's job to ensure enough carrots, tomatoes, pumpkins, or turnips are grown in America.....nor is their job to ensure enough American-grown beef, pork, or chicken are delivered to groceries to ensure our survival.

It isn't the government's job to ensure accuracy with news networks for the 6PM nightly news that you enjoy.

It isn't the government's job to ensure enough bandwidth exists for you to download Stargate Universe, Chinese porn, or NASCAR racing events....to get delivered to your smart-phone in the backyard garage.

It isn't the government's job to deliver four-star, three-star, two-star, or even one-star medical opportunities to you, or ensure you live a long and semi-productive life.

It's not the government's job to ensure you don't over-eat on bacon and die by age fifty.

It's not the government's job to monitor 3.7 million school teaches in America....to prevent them from student-teacher sex romps or fake credentials.  Your local principal or board of education are more than capable....have enough 'powers'....and can be easily fired if they can't do the job.

It's not the government's job to limit the size or shape of the container of Mountain Dew that you consume each day.  If you are stupid enough to consume a 44-ounce Dew amount each morning......it's your screw-up, not the government's screw-up.

It's not the government's job to rig up NCAA bowl games to benefit some governmental priority.  We already have enough NCAA dimwits who can rig up the bowl business to benefit Auburn, Texas Tech, University of Alabama, and Georgia to get somewhere in the final ten.

It's not the government's job to find Bigfoot....stop Bigfoot....terminate Bigfoot.....or even prove Bigfoot even exists.

It's not the government's job to order someone to marry someone, or to find you some suitable partner to accept your eccentric ways, or approve of eighty-eight kinky ways of delightful pleasure.

It's not the government's job to determine foolishness, regulate provocative talk, or determine the best place in the backyard for a septic tank.

It's not the government's job to provide a roof over your head, provide three hot meals a day (unless you signed up as a Army Private), or ensure a world-class airport in your state with direct-flights to Daytona or Aruba.

It's not the government's job to ensure your kid speaks Finnish, Spanish, Russian, Chinese or French.  To be honest, it's not even their job to ensure your kid speaks English....other than you got to do something with English literature graduates....they can't just work evenings at 7-11 or run the fry machine at McDonalds.

It's not the government's job to bring culture, art, proper eating habits, or fairness across to the public.
Sadly, there's no 'boss' that you can really hold responsible for the government's job.....no one that you can fire.  If you suggest the President....think about the various gimmicks in effect to hinder you from firing him.  We are stuck with something that no one ever dreamed to be this big....this massive....and this dangerous.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Shoals Amusement Park?

My brother brought this to my attention.  Folks around the Shoals area got pepped up yesterday because some folks came out and announced they are building a three-BILLION-dollar theme park in the local area.

What's generally said is that it'll be around a 1,400-acre park site....construction to start soon and wrap up by 2019 (open for business).  The park would center around music......yeah.....that kinda left me wondering how this would work up into some money-making operation.

The company did indicate that this will bring 20,000 jobs into the northwest Bama region.....which would be a major deal.  Although, if you sit and think about it....the vast majority would be a minimum wage situation....but folks around this area would not complain too much.

Scam?  Well....I did some reading on this and most locals have doubts over the announcement.  There is major company in the US which these guys claim to be a part of....which build amusement parks.  The doubts come because of recent failures.

If you look at Opreyland.....it just didn't have a sustainable business situation, so it was closed.  If you drew a 500-mile map from the region....what amusement parks that exist....are marginally surviving at the present.

Typically, you need three things for an amusement park to thrive.  First, there needs to be secondary things in the area to do....which the Shoals can claim the Tennessee River and five-star hunting....that's about it.  Second, you need an interstate highway connection.....which does not exist in the Shoals.  Third, you need some thriving and robust airport....which the best you can say is that three or four flights a day work out of the Shoals Airport.....with planes mostly big enough to handle twenty passengers and flies into Atlanta or Memphis.

Scam?  Well....Bama folks are skeptical (for obvious reasons).  In this case....the big show at the hotel, along with company involvement....gets folks past the first level and makes them think it might come true.

Location?  Well....that's a secret for another week or two.  They don't want to lay everything out there yet.

My humble guess is that they will try to use cheap farming property south of the Tennessee River, near Highway 72, going between the Shoals and Huntsville.  They might go further west and try to use the Natchez Trace Parkway....with cheap property all around the area but a good fifteen miles from the Shoals or the newly built golf resort.

The best I can say is that it's 'real' so far and might actually happen.  The profit game from a three-billion-dollar theme park?  Man, you'd have to have 10,000 folks a day coming in....staying a couple of days....and spending lots of money around on different things (golf, fishing, casino operations, drinking, food, etc).  I just don't see 10,000 folks coming daily to the Shoals for some theme park.  Sorry.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

School Agendas

This was a quiz provided in Wisconsin to a high school civics class....in the past month or two.  It was supposed to gear a kid to think and know various political groups.....with a simple sentence attached to each.

The sixteen-year old kid came home....handed the sheet to his mom and asked what exactly was "wrong" and how is this explained.  Well..mom looked over the test and just was a bit shocked.  It's a bogus class exam which tends to push some kid into thinking various positive things or negative things about a political group....remarkably, against the Republicans.

It's hard for me to envision how life would be today in Bama....if I were in some high school history or civics class....and how it would relate to 1975-era education.

I admit....it was almost impossible for our ninth-grade teacher to get across the concept of communism and socialism.  'This is good' and 'this is bad'....as I can remember the class agenda for the early 1970s.  Bad guys were typically communists.....as I can remember the slant of the class.  If you asked any of the twenty-five kids why communists were bad...the answer would have been simply 'memorize' the answers and just get past the quiz......you don't have time to waste on really grasping something.

Teaching the class over Republicans, Democrats or Green politics?  I'd take a guess that you might find six kids out of a hundred today....that might be able to define some explanation....and the rest would ask if this had anything to do with the Civil War, Roman history or dinosaurs.

How important is it to define liberals, conservatives, moderates, Republicans, fascists, dictatorships, communists and such?  To be honest.....if you cornered a hundred folks in some mall....ages eighteen to sixty-five....less than fifty percent could give you a decent description of each.  Some Senators can't even define a fascist or socialist....without getting some note from their handler.  You could drag some PhD dimwit up onto a chat forum....with him giving a ten-minute presentation on the evils of socialism....then discover that he's never been outside of the US in his life....so it's all book material and no real practical knowledge.

I have no idea what the agenda was in this Wisconsin class.  If  I were to speculate.....I'd say the teacher had some agenda given to him or her, and they weren't bright enough to grasp that.  They just used some college-level test that Professor Gus gave them three years ago and think it might be worth reusing for a high-school level exam.

As for the events in this case?  The principal of the school would later tell the mother that this didn't count for any grade, and it appears that the exam will be yanked (never to be used again).....and you get the feeling that they were a bit peeved that this type of stupidity showed up in their school and they have to face some fury over a stupid mistake by a teacher.  

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Culture Wars over Bama

With all this Bama talk in the past week of gay marriages and harsh feelings over this business...I've done a fair amount of reading over polygamy and threesome marriages....which I tend to believe will be acceptable and legal within Bama by 2020.

Naturally, this would disturb some Bama enthusiasts a bit.  But you have to sit down and use your Bama intellect on this subject.

Way back in the beginning....Old Testament days....polygamy and multiple wives was acceptable.  You can find various mentions in the Old Testament where some prophet mentions this guy, then wife number one, and then wife number two.  No big deal.  God was apparently all in favor of this tradition.

Oddly....there is some divide that occurs when some guys meet up a generation or two later.....writing up the New Testament, and deciding to just hint a bit that guys might want to be limited one wife, but never clearly saying that "God said.....".

Somewhere along where the Catholic Church came along in ancient Roman days.....that was the dividing point where they determined that one wife was sufficient and spoke to this on various occasions within sermons delivered. It was kinda helpful to avoid the dozen-odd occasions in the Old Testament where multiple wives got mentioned.

So, this brings me to the way that this will happen in US legal standings.  The whole fight currently is that no law can determine a marriage is just a man and a woman....thus inviting the whole gay discussion.  Well, if you apply the same logic....the same understanding would be that a marriage is not contained to JUST a man and a woman, so you ought to be able to have two wives, or for that matter, three or four or five wives.  You won't be able to clearly limit a guy, or to limit a woman to four husbands.....if her happiness is what matters.

All of this will lead some judges to make yet another odd interpretation and leave the door open for more things which have no basis in law or religion.

How many polygamy-type situations would occur in Bama?  I would make this odd guess that it might be limited to one hundred "couples" during the first year, and within a decade....maybe include around 2,000 total couples within the state.  Course, this would drag out the divorce situation, and how one person might divorce two members....yet the two remaining members might still be married.  It also drags out property settlements.....how you'd split a property if one quits a marriage, yet two remain.

You can imagine five Bama guys sitting around a general store situation....discussing this matter.  One guy would cite Bible verses where it's appropriate, and one would cite the psychological issues (you gotta be crazy would be spoken over and over).  Another guy would cite bathroom troubles as it is currently with the house-trailer and just wonder how you'd handle this with two women in the trailer.  The fourth guy would say he really needs another woman because wife number one just can't cook.  And finally.....the fifth guy would ask about the sexual implications, and wonder how he'd get all his plowing done by planting season.

Yep.....bold new world coming to Bama.  Not a moment too soon.  Better start browsing for the second wife now, and preparing the first wife for competition.  Hopefully, you can find a second wife who is also a NASCAR enthusiast, enjoys Andy Griffith, stays tuned to Channel Nineteen weather during tornado spells, is a Bama NCAA football fan, knows something about veterinary science, and likes to hunt (unlike wife number one).

This Brian Williams Discussion

In terms of rating how significant some stories are in the news today.....I'd consider this NBC anchor guy....Brian Williams....and his story to be a "three" on a scale of one to ten.  Yeah, it really begs some questions, but it's the network's issue to look over and feel the heat about.

Here is the odd part about Brian Williams because I spent some time looking at his timeline.

The guy finishes high school and briefly attends a local community college. Then he goes to the Catholic University of America, and then he transfers over to George Washington University in the District of Columbia.  He admits....he's got roughly eighteen total classes finished....so no degree.  Oddly, he hooks up as an intern with the Jimmy Carter White House, and that's the end of schooling for him.

The cost of GW University in DC?  Just one year....tuition only....is $48,000 today.  You can guesstimate what it was in late-1970s....but it wasn't cheap.

So, he moves on (without a degree) to Kansas.  He works for a year for KOAM-TV....a minimum wage rookie.  A year into this....he gets hired for WTTG (a independent network in DC at the time....it belongs to Fox now).

After roughly a year at the DC situation....he gets hired to moves to Philly for WCAU....an NBC flag-station in the local area.  It's a pretty big step....just two years prior being a minor no-name guy with a mid-Kansas TV station.

Roughly four years later....he's brought to New York City, and part of the CBS team there.  In six years....he's picked up as a weekend guy for NBC and is now a major player.

A couple of months ago....Williams ends up signing a five-year contract with NBC....for roughly $10 million a year.

You just start to look at this guy and how he moves around every year or two, and wonder about his resume and what exactly it says.

The chief problems?  Lets say you terminate Williams.....which would be the logical point to take in a case like this....what bill do you get stuck with?  He'll take you to court and by the contract.....he's entitled to a fair sum of money.  Maybe the contract allows for them to pay him off with $20 million....maybe he's entitled to the whole sum.  No one has said much over that.

The other problem is who you bring in....Matt Lauer of the Today Show?  I sat and read several stories which note the back-up plan is now considered to be Tom Brokaw coming in for a month or two while they hire up another wiz-kid....or bring Matt Lauer into the situation and then play games over who is hired to replace Matt on the Today Show.

Matt as the evening anchor guy for NBC?  Well....yeah.  Maybe if you did a couple of shots of booze prior to the evening news, and try to avoid hitting the mute button constantly....it'd all work out.

But the real question is.....does any of this matter?  I mean....Brian was telling bogus stories....but it's an accepted part of the position.....which anchor has not made up various bogus stories over the past decade.  Since Harry Reasoner, Frank Reynolds and Harold K. Smith have all passed on.....we really don't have news anchors at night....we have some story-teller-wizards who pick up stories to emphasize or de-emphasize.

My advice....if channel seven is offering Andy Griffith or Judge Judy episodes while NBC news is on....you might want to check them out.....or consider resodding the backyard.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Why We Still Need Scientists

This past week....the EPA came out with a full report (207 pages) and new rules over wood-burning stoves.

Yeah, wood-burning stoves.

Yeah, actual real wood-burning stoves.

I would strongly recommend that you click above and go through the first dozen pages and note the various graphic charts, statistical analysis, and expert opinion over wood-burning stoves.

For roughly 240 years....America survived without any regulation or such....on wood-burning stoves.  Now?  Roughly 300 pages of new regulations will come into play.

Who produced the full report (207 pages) on wood stoves?  Well, that's an odd thing....there's no names attached to it. No professors, no engineers, no doctors, no PhD folks, and no science folks.

The end of the document does have a number of pages to cite where they gathered their data, which seems to be legit.

Where do you get experts on wood stoves?  If I asked my brother, he'd likely lead me over to Sand Mountain or some remote area of Tennessee where folks have a long and distinguished career in wood stoves.  They'd cite the best wood to burn....the way to ensure your stove lasts for decades....and how to properly clean it.  Respiratory talk?  Well....they'd ask how you vented it and if the chimney was properly cleared once a year.  Respiratory talk from this report?  Oh, there's fancy graphical charts and various talk about bad things that could occur....if you were stupid about hooking it up.

The general problem here?  Whoever wrote this.....probably won't appear in public.....nor appear on CNN or the Today Show.  It's probably a college professor from California, who has never been in a house with a wood stove in his or her life.

The necessity of government involvement in wood stove management?  Why limit it to just this.....why not include out-houses, or home-gardens as well?

Forty years ago.....if you'd been hired by some governmental agency and told to write such a report.....you would have just laughed and walked out of the room.  The truth is....we have way too many scientists now standing around with no real job or anything to do, and the government answer is to produce reports like this.

Bama, Monday, and the Gay Marriage Thing

Come Monday, unless the Supreme Court steps in, Alabama will be put upon to allow gay marriage.  No one is sure of anything much.  The Supreme Court has shown no tendency to get involved, and just sat back on this issue for a while.

In the state?  It's hard to tell the general reaction.  If you read most newspapers....there's the anti-gay marriage crowd out in full force, and there's the pro-gay marriage crowd out in full force.  Right now, based on news reports....folks are expecting between twenty and fifty couples appearing to get their one-sex marriage license on Monday.

Several state and county judges have said they won't do such a ceremony.....and they indicate that it's not written down to force them to perform such a ceremony.  The way to get around the court order?  These guys won't do anyone.....not straight couples.....not gay couples....no one.

Bama state law says that anyone who is a resident of the state can apply for a license, and be married in any of the sixty-seven counties.  Who can marry you?  Any pastor or minister of a recognized religion within the state, or county/state judges (active and retired).  How many of such individuals exist?  I'd take a guess between six and eight thousand such individuals within the state (four and a half-million residents).

Yeah, we have a fair number of churches in the state.  Bama folks openly brag about their churches, their ministers, and their various paths to heaven (even if they do commit sins, drink hard on Saturday evenings, and gamble a bit).

How many judges and ministers will refrain from marrying gay couples?  I will guess eighty-percent will find some reason.  The participating judges against this....might all just say they won't marry anyone. The ministers?  Well....how would you force them? Fed law?  Non-existent.  State law?  Non-existent.  Some fed judge just ordering you to do something, without a law to back him up?  It'd drag this all out into another bigger mess....if you ask me.

If this went forward.....how many gay couples would be married by the end of 2015?  I'd take a humble guess on this, and assume that about 500 such marriages would occur by 1 January 2016.  We'd likely peak out this year, and probably see a yearly sum of 250-odd marriages from 2016 on.....with at least fifty gay couples a year getting divorced as we got a year or two into this.

Church acceptance?  Being from Bama, I'd say two or three religions would have zero problems with this.  The bulk of the rest would find folks pretty focused on "no"....firing ministers who suggested that they move on, and getting deacons drawn into chat forums that just didn't get any real solution on the table.  You might find a dozen-odd religions who could be drawn into a long debate and locals either accept the idea or leave the participation of the church.  2015 might be one of those years when some churches find themselves with only half the membership that they had last year....because of their stand for gay marriage or stand against gay marriage.

On the religious view.....I'd take a guess that a handful of newly created religions will come to exist....with modern topics fully accepted by the minister and his deacons.  Yeah, you might have a pro-gay marriage church.....fully supportive of marijuana....approving of various lifestyles (bondage or freaky piercings) that most Bama folks frown upon  and able to support a membership roll of forty-four members.

I'd take a guess that the local newspaper from my home county on Monday...will have one reporter standing there at the county clerk's window all day.....waiting for one single gay couple to appear and get noted in the newspaper as the first such couple in Lauderdale county.  Oddly, right behind the noted and highly reported couple will be another couple....some guy in his mid-thirties and a fifteen-year old gal who has mama's permission to marry Conrad (the local goat enthusiast).  It might be a better story to tell....mid-thirties guy and a fifteen year old wife....a local goat farm family to be.....but the big focus would be on Misty and Candy (two Burger King employees) who are both forty years old and of one particular sex.  If you ask me.....no one much will care about the two lesbians getting married and would prefer to hear about the goat farmer and his teenage wife.

Well....it's all good, as we say in Bama.  Marriages come and go, churches hire and fire ministers, and political folks fall into significant scandals on a weekly basis within the state.  Life goes on.


Friday, 6 February 2015

Harper Lee and A Second Book

Alabama has a lot of four-star writers....and maybe a couple of five-star writers.

Winston Groom (Forrest Gump), Truman Capote (well, yeah, he was born in New Orleans....but moved to Monroeville and became a Bama writer), Dennis Covington (he wrote the Sand Mountain murder piece), Zelda Fitzgerald (she was married to F. Scott and was a bit crazy, but in Bama....it's an accepted thing to be eccentric), and then we had Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird).

If you live in central Bama and have any passion for great literature.....you read Harper Lee's book.  It's been in production since 1960 and probably rated one of the top twenty books ever produced in America.

The amazing thing about Harper Lee....is that she wrapped up the book in 1960 and never wrote another book, period.  Folks are a bit amazed about this side of the story.  Imagine Mark Twain just writing Huck Finn and walking away.  Or imagine John Steinbeck just writing Tortilla Flats alone and by itself.

This past week, word got out that a new book would be published by Harper Lee.  She's getting up around ninety years old and this announcement was a bit of a shock.

What she says....via the publisher....is that she wrote a book prior to To Kill a Mockingbird and sent a draft to the publisher in NY City....who kinda liked it but asked....do you have anything else?  She went back....spent a couple of months on another book, and sent them To Kill a Mockingbird.  They loved it and published it.

The first book?  What's told to the public is that Harper Lee's manuscript ended up with her sister (a lawyer) and was kept in her private practice there in Monroeville.  The sister didn't ever say nothing.  The publisher never came to ask for the first draft back and publish it.  Nothing was spoken of the first book....ever.

The sister died in the past six months.  The associate in the office of the sister was cleaning out her files, and came across the book.  Relatives taking care of Harper Lee....noted the new document and asked the publisher about it.  The publisher was eager to publish it and it'll be out by mid-summer.

Frankly, upon hearing the whole story.....I generally think it's all bogus.

What most folks say currently of Harper Lee is that she's not too well off physically, and they always want you to know that she's pretty sharp and full of wit.  Based on comments from the funeral of the sister from several folks....they aren't that sure of her wit or sharpness still being there.  Maybe she did write this new book.....Go Set a Watchman....but I have my doubts.

For years, it's been suggested that Harper had some assistance by Truman Capote (a high school friend) to write To Kill a Mockingbird.  There's no real proof to say yes or no on this.  And you will have to wonder if the same folks will suggest this with this second novel.

My sense of logic kicks in with this whole thing.....a person sits down and writes one of the best novels of the century, and never produces anything again?  It's hard to think in these terms of such a writer.

Edgar Allen Poe wrote tons of short stories....but when you go looking for a full-up book....there's only one single book that he wrote.

Oscar Wilde wrote tons of poetry....but there's only one single book that he produced....The Picture of Dorian Grey.

Margret Mitchell wrote only Gone With the Wind.....deciding to never write another piece, and died a couple years later at age forty-nine after getting hit by a car.

Boris Pasternak wrote Doctor Zhivago.....winning the Nobel Prize for Literature on just one book.....and never published again.

So, there are single book writers.  But it's awful hard to find such an individual.  Maybe Harper Lee's story is true....but it's just hard to believe it.  Bottom line.....you will get one more piece of work, which got turned down for publication fifty-odd years ago.  You might want to ask why.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

The Illusion of Free Will

Sometimes, a cartoon sticks out in my mind.  Yesterday, I came across a single Delbert piece..."free will is an illusion anyway", and the response was correct ("Well, if it isn't, it will be").

I took a number of college classes which I basically regard as worthless.  The Air Force paid for them and they were all regarded as part of the path toward some degree, which I'd say today was worthless as well.  There were three or four classes which I note as thoughtful, demanding an open prospective of life, and probably made me a better person in life.

One of those classes was a class in logic.  I admit.....it was taught by a nutcase Italian guy at a local community college in Tacoma, Washington.  His English was marginal and he had some class arrangement with another "real" college in Tacoma (Pacific Lutheran University) and he supplementing his situation with an evening class via the community college.

We opened the evening with a mathematical type situation....where you basically had one's and zero's.  One meant logical, and zero meant illogical.  After two hours of class, I walked out....amazed by the simple introduction of logic.  I admit his English in turbo-Italian-accent was awful....but he simply got the point across.

To be kinda honest....over the next ten-odd weeks....we'd have class and it was more of a discussion over what could be logical and what would be illogical.  No exams....no tests......no real homework.  Just some guy talking at length over situations in life.  One of the scenarios one evening got around to free well.  Numerous examples were put up where logic would dictate that choices were always an element of free well.  As long as you had choices....you believed in the statement of a free-will situation.  If you only had one choice.....logic would kick in and you'd assume no free-will.  Then he injected as we came to the close of the evening....what if you simply perceived choices existing but they weren't really there, and thus inviting the question....would there still be free-will?

Logic would kick in.  But he simply ended the class on that question.

Remarkably....the entire semester of introduction to logic via this community college professor....with no test, no exam and no homework. Full credit, just for showing up.  But this was one of the few classes that made you sit and ponder over statements.

With the cartoon shown above, the statement is correct.  Free will is an illusion.  As long as you believe it.....you will continue on your merry way and never question things.  Once the illusion is demonstrated.....your trust in free existing will always be dragged up and you will remain skeptical of things for the remainder of your life.  That's the logical step which you can't avoid.

Sadly, the skeptics group grows every year.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Jury Duty

My dad, after his retirement from the post office, would bring up jury duty occasionally as I came to visit.  He was always hopeful he'd end up on the list and be pulling a couple times a year of jury duty.  As far as I know......his name never came up.  That's the deal with most retired guys......all their life, they've been too busy or wound-up on real work, and now....they got time for such curious episodes.

My brother pointed out to me once....when you get called up for such duty.....they ask you some questions.  Both prosecutors and defense attorneys hate smart guys.....especially engineer-types....on the jury.  These are the guys who ask stupid questions why fact #12 conflicts entirely with fact #22, so logically, neither can be true.

From what I've read.....housewives are always the better pick, because they don't think too much over facts.

Today, I was glancing through the seventy-odd news sources I go to each day, and came to this one odd story about this nutcase shooter guy from Aurora (the theater shooter, Holmes).  Case is ready for a jury to sit and hear it.

So, here's one candidate for the jury....who kinda went nuts as they asked some general questions....falling to the floor and pulling a heaping amount of her hair out.  The judge kinda waved for some deputy to escort her out.  I'm guessing the mental health unit in town got called and she might be sitting there for a long while.

Meanwhile.....jury selection continued.  One of the guys pulled for questions....showed some indications of being doped up (it is legal to smoke weed in Colorado)....so there's not much that the judge can say....except to dismiss the guy.

In years to come, it might be hard to find twelve jury members who stay pure for eight hours a day....without any weed.

The judge went through some other guys.....noting two of them were fairly intoxicated and dismissed them.  One reporter noted a sick person in the group who either fainted or felt ill....causing an ambulance to come....to tote them off.

I'm guessing the judge is sitting there tonight.....thinking of the mess of getting a semi-cohesive jury in place and hope they can do the job.  But, just getting a dozen folks and a few sprares....who appear sane and able to handle day-to-day stress....might be near impossible to achieve.

Monday, 2 February 2015

The Magic Invisibility School Suspension

If you ever drive out in west Texas.....getting anywhere west of Odessa or Midland.....you tend to note the local conditions and scenic views (lacking of any whatsoever).  There are a few towns here and there.....a gas station, some Dollar-General stores, and some cattle ranches.

Generally, you say cattle outnumber people by a twenty to one ratio (my humble numbers).

About fifty miles west of Odessa is Kermit.  There's nothing much historic over the town of six-thousand folks.  State highway 115 and 302 run through the town.  There's a big Pentecostal Church at the north end of town.  Somewhere in the middle are a Sonic burger franchise and a Dairy Queen operation.  There's a cafe or two, along with a couple of gas stations.  If you wanted Wal-Mart shopping....you'd have to drive ten miles east of the town to West Odessa....to get that kind of experience.

Does the Pentecostal thing matter much.....as I mentioned it in the previous paragraph?  Well....yeah.

This past week.....news got out of Kermit that the school had a problem to develop.

I'll try to tell the story in a simple fashion.  Some kid came up in school....nine years old....and he's a bit of a devious character.  You'd just say he's the type that just wants to have some fun.

The kid came into school one day with a ring.  He noted to his buddies that it was a "One-Ring".....which is the ring that came out of J R R Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.  You know.....the one that made a guy invisible.  He noted to his associate that this ring had the secondary power of allowing the guy wearing it....to make others invisible.  Naturally, he wanted to intimidate his associate, and hinted that he'd make that kid invisible.

The other kid got all upset and peeved about this impending doom of him being invisible.....so he ran off and ratted on his associate to school management.  

The kid with the ring?  Oh, he got suspended for a week apparently.  His dad noted in response to a local newspaper question on this.....noted that if his son did turn the kid invisible....he also had the power to turn the kid right back to visible.

Now, you'd typically pause over this kind of thing.  You'd wonder if folks in Kermit had ever watched Lord of the Rings and grasped that it was simply a fantasy story over good folks battling evil folks....all imaginary of course.

In general, at least around the hardcore Pentecostal folks.....there are some things accepted and forbidden.  Movies are forbidden by a number of ministers within the faith....so when you start yacking about some new dragon movie, or Bruce Lee-Kong Fu flick, or some Burt Reynolds car chase movie......well....folks don't really perk up much because they may have seen it but just can't admit this in public.

Having a TV?  Generally accepted although what you watch is important....like the news and weather are OK.  Episodes of Andy Griffith are Ok.  Buffy the Vampire Killer probably won't be approved for viewing within the crew.  I doubt that Bewitched would even be acceptable.

Rings and jewelry?  Well.....no.  Marriage rings are even frowned upon and accepted only when folks get real peppy about it.  Just suggesting that you might have a One-Ring (from Lord of the Rings) would likely disturb a forty-year old gal deeply.

Some Pentecostal folks are against organized sports.  If you just meet and conduct a local softball game.....that's Ok.  NFL football might be deemed inappropriate and only watched in your basement and behind closed doors....if your minister is peppy on the topic.

Some groups from the Pentecostal folks....have a strong rule on their women wearing skirts....mandating it below the knee.  Some folks get peppy about men going shirtless.

So, in this small town of Kermit.....you can imagine a fair number of folks there being Pentecostal, and this kid with the Lord of the Ring's ring.....getting a fair amount of attention.  Wizard-stuff.....stuff that Satan might bring into their small town.....and worries about invisible people.  You just can't have that sort of stuff.

Yeah.....that's the basic story.  I know.....it's pretty stupid.....but this is West Texas, and things are pretty anchored down in life.  It's a good thing the kid didn't say anything about the fire-breathing dragon that his dad keeps in the garage, or the big stone in the backyard with a Merlin-sword sticking into it.  All this kind of talk would disturb some folks.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

A Draft Law in Progress

Down in Texas over the last week or two....the political guys have been busy.  They decided that there just isn't enough protection for teachers in the classroom.  So, they've crafted this bill, which basically says a teacher will have the fundamental right of self-protection in the classroom, and can take down (in the literal sense, shoot-to-kill) any punk who threatens the teacher or their students.

Naturally, there are some folks who are a bit peeved.  There's a question-mark if it'll pass, and bigger questions will arise later when some punk kid does something stupid to threaten harm of a severe nature on someone, and Ms Jenkins pulls out a pistol and shoots them.  The kid's parents will sue and claim it wasn't right....and some Texas judge will have to determine the circumstances which the law would be effective.  Supreme Court episode?  I'm guessing in less than five years....it'll come up.

In the 1960s and 1970s....a kid was mostly smart enough to realize the impact of stupidity.  You might do one stupid act and get suspended for three days, which meant you had to explain to the parents why you were that stupid.  If you really crossed the line.....you were suspended from the school for that school year.  This typically meant you had to find another school to accept you or wait a year to re-enter the old school.  We had three kids who came over to my school in the final three years I attended....who were suspended from regional schools nearby.  It was a harsh deal of reality for them.

Generally, I'm of the mind that you need a half-day orientation class for each kid who gets past the 5th grade.  You do it on day three or four of the new school-year.  The theme for the three-hour episode is stupidity.  If you think you are stupid enough.....here's what we will do to you.  Share the theme with their parents and emphasize the line drawn out.  Then as each kid crosses the line....finish them off with a minimum of one day of school lost.  Any suggestion of physical violence?  Make them attend a sand-bag filling seminar at the gym.....fill up three-hundred sand-bags and then you get a chance back in the class.

It's hard to imagine where we were forty years ago, and where we stand today.  You rely on some marginal math teacher, who can barely teach.....to be the defender of your kid in school.  Somewhere in the mix.....you are hoping that this old battleaxe of a teacher who is nearly sixty-five and retirement.....has a pistol in her purse and will easily take on any threat to her kids in the classroom. Priorities here.....are a bit different.