Monday, 29 May 2017

Two Islamic Stories

So, the first story.  There's this guy named Arthur.  He's from Florida, and for a couple of years....he identified himself as a neo-Nazi.  There's no real history on this, or details how he got to be a Nazi-like dude.....but most folks agree that this was his 'thing'.

So, in the last couple of weeks....Arthur found religion.  Arthur got himself all into a new religious group...Islam.

Yeah, converting over from neo-Nazi to Muslim is pretty unusual.  To be honest, I can't think of a case ever....occurring like this.

Arthur had this problem though...he was living in some apartment with at least two other guys (maybe even a third).  Once Arthur laid out this new religious thing....his friends/room-mates.....didn't really take this serious. They joked about it.

Eventually, Arthur couldn't take much more....and killed two of the guys.  Cops come onto the scene.  No denial over what he did.  They had to be killed because of the insult to Islam.

My humble guess is that several investigators will pour over the case, find some kind of drug activity connected to this, and that Arthur will be lucky if he avoids the death sentence.  The thing is.....there just might be some mental issues with Arthur, and he gets off all charges by going to some mental facility.

The second story?  Some high school kids are supposed to graduate and have a prom in two weeks.  In this group of American kids....are a couple of Islamic kids.  The Islamic kids want the prom rescheduled  til the period after Ramadan (we just started this in the last three days).  Well....the school isn't that open to the idea.  Lot of folks have reservations, and plans.....so waiting two more weeks isn't practical.

Law-suite against the school?  Maybe, but I seriously doubt that it would change anything.  The kids say that one of the Ramadan rules is no music to be heard during Ramadan.  It's a curious interpretation.  I'm kinda wondering why no-cellphone usage can't also be applied for this period from sun-up to sun-down.  The use of any electronic device?  Same way ought fall into effect.

What happens when these students go on in life and find that companies aren't willing to bend over backwards when Ramadan occurs?  It's hard to say.  The Koran does give the 'waiver-deal'...meaning if you live around westerners.....you can use their lifestyles, their food, and their rules.  Oddly, people don't seem to want to seek out that waiver.    


Sunday, 28 May 2017

2020 Election?

To be honest, I'm of the mind that Trump will not run for re-election in 2020.  Chief reason?  Most of what he expected to change will start to be seen in 2019 and he'll see no reason to do another four years.  I think his physical health is being challenged by this daily routine and that will add into the mix as well.

So, what's the landscape look like?

Twenty-two democrats are said to be exploring a run:  Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Saunders, Cory Booker from NJ, Cuomo of NY, Tim Kaine, Mark Cuban (the business guy), and then fifteen lesser folks.  Hillary?  Potentially, yes.

Age ought to take out Joe Biden, but some folks aren't sure.

The odds of Obama coming back to run again?  Legally, he could run after sitting out for four years.  For Democratic Party, it'd be a win-win but a fair number of DC crowd would like their chance at the 'glory'.

For the Republicans?  VP Pence, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, and a couple of governors.  If you went and measured up accomplishments and 'shine' over the past five months....Haley is probably the shocker.  If she stays at the job until late 2019 before exiting for a campaign....she might have a fair number of topics to put her in the top of the group.

The news media in all this?  They are expending every single silver-bullet that they have and I think the general trust by the public will be viewed in fairly negative numbers by 2020.  The real loser over this four-year period.....will be the national news media.

For the Democrats talking about this great lesson learned from the Hillary loss?  In the end (2020), it'll be mostly a myth of some change.

The Characteristics of a Terrorist

“He said that Muslims couldn’t exercise their religion peacefully in France.  He spoke with words that didn’t belong to him. He was under a spell, like a cult.”
         -- Mother of Adel Karmiche, Islamic terrorist who killed a priest in Normandy, France in 2016, in a NY Daily News article

I sit and read an awful lot over terror acts and the gentlemen behind them.  The fine details.....often have to be gained through hours of reading and analyzing.

There are generally five descriptive reminders that you can use for the bulk of these individuals involved in terror attacks.

First, most all of them are under the age thirty.  You might find a handful of 30-to-35 year old guys....but there's virtually no one over the age of forty.  If you were to go and look over the list of terror attacks and the descriptions of the 'players'....the vast majority are between 18 and 25 years old.  For the most part, you'd say they are immature young men.

Second, it is painfully obvious as the mother described her son Adel from this Normandy attack....he at this point in his life a full-up recruited cult member.  The cult owned him....body and soul.

Cults work hard to ensure ownership over their 'team-members'.  It's personal property to them.  Cults don't care about the guy, just that he serves the cult's purpose.

Third, almost none of the terrorists that have been seen in the past twenty years....had a real occupation.  Some pretended to be students.  Some were legit drug-dealers or small-time thugs.  You won't find carpenters, roofers, plumbers, mechanics, or dry-way guys among them.  This is one of the odd features of this whole racket.  These are mostly what you'd kindly refer to as 'losers'.

Fourth, most of the individuals noted in this category have drug usage noted.  They aren't just a once-a-week weed-smoker....they smoke daily and probably two or three times a day.  They probably pop captagon pills or occasionally use type of uppers.  Even during the act of terrorism...if you did a drug test on all of these guys....they are pumped up on something.

Fifth, in the suicidal phase for these young men.....all aspire to do some greater good to be known for. They've lost so much touch with reality, that they can only dream of the after-life as their ticket to success.

Normally, folks would get all hyped up against cults....but no one wants to touch that topic in this case.  So, we will simply continue on.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

The Montana Story

I walked a good bit yesterday....in the woods around my house and settled upon one mental topic....the Montana election.  After a day or two of surveying the Montana special election for an empty House seat in DC....I've come to three basic observations:

1.  As much as the Democratic Party says that they learned from the Hillary loss in November and have a bold new strategy on the future....I don't see it.  It's either non-existent, or just a painted-up version of the old strategy.

2.  This fight, brawl, scuffle, duel, melee, skirmish or shove (pick whichever based on the news network you watch), really didn't change much of anything.  If this had been some Italian or Russian reporter, they would have shoved back, and a full-scale fight would have erupted.   To suggest that 20,000 Montana folks would have seen this comment and changed their voting strategy....was an embarrassing suggestion by the news media.  Idiots in some urbanized community like Baltimore might do something like that....but not in Montana.

3.  For the hundreds of thousands of Democratic donor funds which got shoved into Montana to win at all cost?  Total waste of money.  Out of the 235 seats that the GOP controls....I would take a guess that at least 180 of them are in extremely safe districts, and it's a total waste of funds to go "all-out".  At best, my humble opinion, is that there might be thirty districts across the US where the right money and right Democratic candidate might make a difference.  The problem is....find those districts...then finding the right Democrat...and then running a pumped-up enthusiastic campaign with no errors.  In the 2018 election? It would shock me if the Democrats were able to take more than  five additional seats.  The chief reason?  I'd go back to the 'right Democrat' mix.  Where are these guys?

The sad thing about this whole woeful story is that the national Democratic Party apparatus is hurting Democratic chances with a lot of bogus talk and TV opera business out of DC.  It's like watching a last-place NBA team, which desperately needs to go recruit new faces and bring in young talent with some optimistic views.  Ten Senators need to just retire or avoid being weekly guests on Sunday chat shows.

Friday, 26 May 2017

What College Is and Is Not

When you make some determination to go off and attend university somewhere, there ought to be logical process or thinking involved.....but because of the juvenile behavior thinking in the mix....you lose some perception and common sense along the way.

College is not a social club for misfits or loser-attitude teenagers.

College is supposed to make you think....to perceive....to ask questions....to determine facts and balance out an end-result.

College is not a union.

College is usually a place where you end up meeting folks from different walks of life, some with religious convictions....some with far-left-wing convictions....some with communist ideology drilled in.....some with dreams of becoming a forest-ranger....and some with dreams of becoming President of the United States some day.

College is not a clique of borderline misfits, and if you think you've bumped into some....you are in a loser university.

College is where smart professors teach you the art of logic and thinking.

College is not a mob-club that allows students to run the system.

College isn't a place where free-space is restrained.

College is not a semi-professional sport association.

College is generally the only place where you can practice geometric equations, lab experiments, debate skills....screw-up....and learn from your mistakes without any harm.

College is not a place where attendance means success in life.

College is a place where you could bump into a Chinese gal, a British-eventually-to-become-a-Lord, an alcoholic Scot, a flirtatious Swedish gal, an Einstein-like Japanese guy, an migrant from Libya, and a mentally insane German....all in one single day.

College is not a safe playground where you play silly games all day.

College is supposed to be a dividing line about maturity, acceptance of logic, a taste of debate, and an open door to knowledge.

College isn't a thug or riot-training environment.

At the end of this period of attendance....you should have learned something and discovered a wide expanse of knowledge.  You ought to be able to listen to arguments and find points to agree or disagree.  If this isn't your situation?  Fine, get an occupation and move on in life.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Beware of Politicians with Hyped-up Child Policies

“The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation.”
          Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

Someone brought up this quote today, and it's an interesting philosophy that the Nationalists Socialists practiced.  As long as you convinced people that you had their best interest at heart....you got a blank check from the public.

I am reminded of the effort to bring everyone onboard to some federal dynamic on school lunches.  In the end, a bunch of food was dumped onto plates that kids wouldn't eat, and everyone patted themselves on the back for achieving this purchase of wasted food.

It was like the big craze to give laptops to kids, but you never saw any improvement in grades or comprehension.


Monday, 22 May 2017

The Collude Factor

"From my perspective, having worked with the Trump campaign, I’d be stunned that they were organized enough to collude with anybody."
         - Rick Santorum

This quote came up from the weekend, and I have to admire it.

Just the term "colluding" is a problem for most folks.  Go ask a guy to define it.  It means to conspire or come to a secret understanding that multiple sides can agree upon without divulging the agreement.  It'd be like you getting your neighbor to agree to a fake hostility situation so you could convince your wife that you really need to sell this house and move somewhere else.

Money exchanged in collusion?  No, not necessarily.

Are there Senators from both political parties acting in a collusion-like way?  Yes....almost daily.  Are journalists behaving in a collusion-like way?  Yes....hour by hour.

To be honest, we probably can only function as a country today, by collusion.  What do you think the France did in 1776....they colluded with the Americans, to ensure the defeat of the British.  Banks collude with people to ensure their survival.  Farmer collude, car mechanics collude, and even doctors collude.

Santorum is simply speaking the truth in that the team around Trump really wasn't that bright, but they lucked out because Hillary Clinton was so inept at running for President.  Toss in the Russian meddling, and people just tired of politics, and you've got the sum and total of the 2016 election.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Hillary, Putin, and the Rest of the Story

The Dailycaller put the basis of this story together, and the pieces of the puzzle finally fit.....but it's a story that the news media probably print or discuss, and it leave you mostly amused.  I'll tell you the story in the fashion that Paul Harvey would have explained it.

At some point about a year into the Obama Administration, this plan of revolution was put into effect.  Some charming individuals from the tech-world, the State Department, and lobby groups affecting the White House figured that they had some great 'weapons' to bring change.  YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, social media, etc.

A list of countries were laid out and targets of change.  The list: Yemen, Syria, Tunisia, Egypt, Iraq, and Libya.  The list expanded out and to a lesser degree included Morocco, Bahrain, Algeria, Iran, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Sudan, and Somalia.

Then, the smart intellectual folks decided to go ahead and include Russia.

The Russians were going to have a legislative election in December of 2011.  Following that, they'd hold a presidential election in March 2012.

Russian elections are typically scripted out with some minor opposition in public places.  But by late 2011....social media had gotten into the middle of the election and getting opposition groups focused and more dynamic. For Putin and the gang....this was a major problem to deal with.  They'd never had the internet and social media used as political weapons.

Who was making speeches highlighting the free and open election topic for the US?  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  She was the face of the episode.  She went to interviews around Europe and chatted up the opposition to Putin.  This won her all kinds of commentary and positive thoughts with the elite and intellectual crowd of Europe.

The two elections eventually passed in Russia.  A lot of frustration was the end-result.

So, Putin sat there.  Rather than to jump into the Obama election of 2012....the Russian view was that Hillary, the Clinton Foundation, and the American meddling needed a 'spanking'.  They evaluated the tactics used against the 2011/2012 Russian campaigns....the internet, bloggers, fake news, bias reporting, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

As the end of 2015 arrived and the heated American campaign started up....Hillary suddenly found that Bernie Saunders had a lot of hype by various bloggers.  Reports of her health issues, the email server, the deals, Bill's affairs, etc.....were now circulating on a daily basis.  Oddly, if the Clinton machine had dug around....they would have found little of this came back to the GOP or lobbyists connected to the GOP.

By convention time, the threat of Bernie was over.  But the problems of fake news was now hyped up.  Oddly, the French, the Brits, and the Germans were all worried about fake news (note, they never said Putin-retaliation).

So November came, and the Clinton machine failed.  Why?  The same tools used against Putin in 2011/2012 were used against Hillary.  It was simple and pure retaliation.

The news media and various lobbyists have hyped up the fake news business, and gone ballistic trying to connect Trump back to the Russians.  Tens of thousands of hours have been wasted on public debate over this, and a lot of frustration exists with the idea that Trump and Putin are working together.

But here's the silly thing.....the GOP could have found some idiot retired barber from Tulsa and ran the guy, and the Putin retaliation against Hillary would have been at the same level.

Who to blame?  The news media and political players are set to say some type of talk or agreement occurred with Putin and Trump.  Weeks and months will pass on this investigation which people seem to suggest impeachment will come.  By the end, some idiot will stand there and say that Russia went and did the whole thing without any connection to Trump....simply because Hillary pursued the 2011/2012 social revolution change in Russian politics.  Yes, Hillary started this mess by meddling in Russian politics.  Every weapon that the US used in the 2011/2012 Russian elections?  Used in the 2016 American election.

So you sit there and seem amused?  CNN and the New York Times?  They can't tell this story because it really goes back six years and starts with the Obama camp meddling not only with Russia....but really meddling and creating tensions in Egypt, Syria, and Iraq.  A whole lot of meddling with no thought that maybe some of these people would come back to interfere with the US election.

Is this over?  Maybe.  I doubt that Trump intends to mess with the next Russian election and maybe Putin is satisfied enough to just say 'enough'.  Hillary?  Did she learn anything?  I doubt it.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Examples of Sponsorship of Civil War Statues/Memorials

I spent two hours looking over the topic this week.  Few people ever grasp who paid or sponsored the placement of Civil War statues/memorials.  Examples:

- The Ozark, Alabama Confederate Memorial....paid for by the United Daughters of the Confederacy group.  Finished in 1910.

- The Phoenix, AZ Confederate Soldiers Memorial....paid for by the Sons of Confederate Veterans.  Finished in 1999.

- The Caddo Parish Memorial....paid for by the United Daughters of the Confederacy group.  Finished in 1906.

- The Sam Davis Memorial in Pulaski, Tenn (I've actually been to this one).  You won't find it on Goggle maps.  It was paid for by the local Sam Davis-supporters.

- The Stonewall Jackson statue in Charleston, WV....paid for by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.  Erected in 1910.

Generally, if you go down through the bits and pieces, it's roughly twenty to fifty years after the war ended that the majority of these statues went up.  For some reason, in the period of 1900 to 1915....there is an upswing, which I think is due to the 40th and 50th anniversary period.  Some of the statues rests in federal parks (Arlington Cemetery for example).

A complete listing of all of these?  Based on my reading, and my general background of the topic....I'd say that what is listed over the internet is maybe fifty-percent of the actual number.  In most counties of both Alabama and Mississippi....you will find a minimum of one to two statues/memorials.  If someone did an absolute complete listing....to include all fifty states....I suspect it'd get fairly close to 2,500 statues and memorials.

Civil War Memorials and Evolution

For a number of months, I've been watching various efforts unfold in the south that revolved around the dismantling or removal of Civil War memorials honoring southern figures.

For those who don't think much about it or read up on the topic....the vast number of statues erected in the south up until 1865....would probably total less than a dozen statues.  From 1865 to the 1915 era, you can probably count around 150-odd statues and at least 600 memorials (not exactly a statue), which will prominently cover either southern generals or politicians.....or some generic CSA soldier. The odd thing about all these statues erected is that they were generally paid for by private donations or the efforts of a few private citizens.  It's almost impossible to find a statue that was paid in some fashion by a state government or city.

The background on the property?  Most cities gave an internal vote and allowed a foundation group to erect a statue on public property (usually near a court-house or in a city park).

The erection of most of these Civil War statues came to a conclusion after WW I.  You might find a few that were put into place....but the massive bulk of all of these were prior to the 1920 era.

Taking them down?  If they are on public property....a simple vote can bring them down, but the statues in my humble opinion would have to be turned over to the group who sponsored them in the first place.  My guess is that they'd take the statue....find private land in the region and put them up again. Public anger would be triggered but to think getting rid of the statue fixes everything....would be a joke.

We are at some crossroads on erecting statues.  My suggestion would be that we need to just stop putting up any statues of people because you'd come back to some evolutionary period in the future where you'd have to remove some statue of a guy from the 1970s for some oddball reason.

So, we need to aim for statues mostly of dogs, horses, cattle, and such.  Generally, a horse statue never gets anyone upset and you can't blame much onto a horse.  Same for dogs as well.

As for Stone Mountain, Georgia?  Well, that's going to be an interesting case.  Eventually, twenty years down the line....it'll be a major political topic and involve half the state in some effort to dismantle all of Stone Mountain's carving.  If you think politics is heated now....just wait on the Stone Mountain episode to occur.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

The 2018 and 2020 US Election: The Rest of the Story

Over the past month, there's various cards being laid upon the table and you can reasonably lay out the strategy for the November 2018 mid-term election and the 435 seats.

The Democratic strategy from this point on....is figure out the twenty-five weakest GOP members in urbanized areas.  The chief topic in this areas for the next 18 months will be the coming Trump 'impeachment'.  You need a simple majority of House members to send the papers onto the Senate.  Right now, with the GOP membership....there's a zero chance of this happening.

So you can imagine this continual chit-chat....on and on....trying to interest a majority of what would be independent voters to agree on some Trump impeachment being necessary.  The odds?  You might be able to win ten to fifteen seats....not enough to change the outcome.

The real worry of the Democrats for 2018?  It's an odd race for the Senate.  Out of 33 seats up for grabs....ONLY 8 belong to the GOP.  For the Democrats?  It's 23 seats.  The odds of five to eight seats flipping to the GOP?  It's a 50-50 shot.  I'm betting on six seats going to the GOP, and only two losses for the current GOP.  That is a four-net situation.

The 2020 election?  This becomes more interesting.

There are a lot of signals that Bernie Sanders isn't finished yet.  There are signals that Hillary Clinton is not to be written off.  For a lot of the Democratic crowd who are ready for a bold new leadership scheme....this puts the bulk of them into a difficult situation.

No one can be sure of Trump's desire to run in 2020, or just step back.  If he announces by summer of 2019 that he won't run....then this entire impeachment gimmick of the Democratic Party is screwed up and doesn't help their agenda.

If I were the leadership of the Democratic Party....I'd start to look at the strategy of the past two decades and decide to revamp the whole game.  It's time to play in the rural communities and talk heart-land politics.  But if Hillary and Bernie are part of 2020....well....just get ready for some crazy election to occur, and the next Trump-character to arrive on the scene.

I read this week that the "Rock" (Dwayne Johnson) suggested he might run.  If you go down the states that Trump won....I think the Rock could take each one of those.  For the Democrats?  They might have to break out some other fake Democratic character, and run a Trump-like campaign.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Trump and Intelligence: The Rest of the Story

For a couple of days now, this Trump-Intelligence story has been blasting away.  If you sit and review the whole story....pondering enough....you come to three observations.

1.  It is rather odd that the news media worries about the loss of intelligence data.....when Hillary's 'keepers' cut and pasted hundreds (perhaps several thousand)....secret and top secret lines onto emails which went to the bath-room server, and were read by countless numbers of secondary 'customers'.  No one mentions that loss of intelligence, for some odd reason.

2.  The guys who passed the stories onto the news media over the past couple of days?  They all have clearances and have signed documentation that they would never divulge classified data.  Oddly, they'd now done that.  The news media doesn't refer to the jail time that their 'buddy' might get for the behavior.

3.  If Trump were handing over the nuke codes, or the actual capabilities of the F-15, or discussing the operational rates of the Navy submarines.....it might be worth getting hyped up.  Basically, this was a discussion over terrorism, and data related to just that one subject.  Would he have shared the data with the French or Germans?  Who says that he hasn't already done that?  You can't be sure of nothing with this story.

As long as no charges ever occur with Hillary or her twenty-odd people who committed serious bad handling of classified information, I don't think there's much to get hyped up about.  Besides, those Senators who've passed out classified data?   Have any of them been really investigated?

If and When Impeachment Comes

After a fair amount of reading and pondering, I have come to four observations about this entire impeachment talk.

1.  Since 9 November 2016, oddly enough, there's been impeachment talk.  Within twelve hours of Trump being declared the winner, I can recall at least two chatty 'experts' noting that the impeachment would occur.  The simple fact is that you would need two-thirds of the 100 Senators to convict and remove the President.  That means you'd have to find at least 18 Senators who are Republican to cross the line.  You can talk all you want about impeachment, but those 18 Senators would be more or less finished for all future elections within their states.  More than enough people would consider the GOP 'brand-name' to be finished and do just about anything to bring those individuals back home (in the permanent sense).

2.  The journalists hyping up their anonymous sources, and weekly chatting about impeachment?  Oddly, they are the same ones who were in July, August, September, and October.....telling you and I that Hillary was safely ahead, and would be winning by 10-percent or more.  Same folks.....so you have wonder....if they didn't know what they were talking about in the months before the election of 2016.....how can they be sure of much today?

3.  The insiders dishing out anonymous information?  At some point, they will be brought into a room and be told that tapes now exist of them passing information onto journalists.  They will be given a rare chance....to stay on and keep their job, with no charges filed against them....by handing false information and helping the journalists to write pages and pages of false reporting which will end up creating a massive public joke.

4.  To bring charges of impeachment, you have to have the charges read, and a majority of House members (remember, the GOP controls the House right now) must vote in favor of handing the papers over to the Senate.

Where all of this leads onto?  The entire House election in November of 2018 will be about impeachment charges, period.

You will be sitting there in amazement as dozens of TV ad's each week in September and October of 2018 hit you over Trump.

The problem is that you have the GOP members talking about platforms, agendas, taxes, jobs, growth, and the military....while the only theme from the Democrats will be the impeachment.

Ask yourself....which is the positive message?  If by the summer of 2018, there's over one-million new jobs created in the United States....how will the impeachment theme sell over those jobs and new tax credits?

Maybe it's just me, but you'd have more success over dumping the DH rule in baseball, than impeaching Trump.

Mentality of Abandoning

There's a pretty decent article over at the Atlantic today....which goes into a long essay and chats about Americans who are deserting towns and regions throughout America....because there's no jobs and no future.

What the writer goes on to talking about....is that a guy will wake up one day and realize his 'anchor' (his community) has nothing to offer, and it's time to hit the road.  Where the guy goes is much of this essay because it's not rocket science over where you choose to escape to, or try to find a future.

I look upon this whole experience as abandonment.

From 1929 to 1942....you can find hundreds of thousands who woke up one day to realize that factory job was gone, and there was no future staying in their community.  Some not only abandoned their home and town....some even abandoned their family, in hopes of finding something (anything).

Over the past couple of decades, most folks have launched themselves into anchoring down....buying property....handcuffing themselves to one particular church....making long-term connections to the community....building their whole life into the big puzzle of the region itself.  So walking away from it has to be fairly difficult and complex.

I live in Germany today, and it's a place where you just don't desert your home-region.  Germans will think of a move from the west part of Frankfurt, to the east part of Frankfurt as a massive move (a 4 mile move at best).  Don't even come up and suggest that they'd have to move from Frankfurt to Eltville (25 miles away).....they'd get all hyped up and frustrated about such a suggestion.

Some people are born with the capability of just accepting a radical move, and just get on with their life.  Some folks are opposite, and they will never be able to form a connection to their new neighborhood or new town.

The Atlantic piece is worth reading and does highlight part of our problem today....nothing is really secure.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

The Good and Bad Food Agenda

I noticed in the news this weekend that the new Sec of Agriculture sent out an order....curtailing the school lunch guidelines implemented under the Obama administration.  If you remember the whole gimmick put up....a lot of nutritional talk was tossed into the middle of school lunch programs, and you had to serve 'good' food.  At no point, did any idiot ask....would the kids eat healthy food?  So, statistically speaking....they added up the amount of food served, and later tossed into the garbage....an 82-percent increase from the old program to the new Obama administration program.

Naturally, since this new order went out.....it's got some former Democrats in the system all upset because it's just not right to feed kids garbage food.

At the center of this argument is this one single topic that people fail to really seize upon and grasp.  Once you say that the meal has to fit within a one-dollar or a $1.25 situation....it's pretty limited what you can serve in terms of good food or bad food.

I had an Air Force chow hall guy explain this whole game to me years ago.  The budget was set for every chow hall at the time....to roughly five dollars per day....per individual.  This made three hot meals a day practically impossible.  So they depended on the commissary system to sell them cut-rate and discounted items as low as possible.

If you look over at each school dining system....they are given an impossible task.  By the time you figure up some meat item and a fruit....you've spent most of your money.  I sat and watched some news piece with a gal explaining how their school went to some nutritional taco salad......but the journalist stood there and asked a couple of kids about the marvelous new item and half of them weren't that keen on the item and were dumping it.

The thing is....if you said you were serving a baloney sandwich, a cup of fake juicy-juice, and an apple....the nutritional expert would be all upset over the nutritional aspects.    In this case, you can't make anyone happy.  It's best to at least have the kid's stomach full....even if it is marginally healthy food.

My guess, in four to eight years....some Obama-like President will return, and we will go right back to the nutritional food gimmick, and start to see massive amounts of food dumped back into the garbage again.....repeating the whole cycle once again.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

The Russian Game Unfolding

This week, I sat and read through several accounts of the federal investigator crowd going after former Trump-adviser Paul Manafort.  A month ago, they went and requested bank records of Manafort.

The game at hand?  There's a discussion that this is all part of the Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Congress even says that they want Manafort to come be testify.

Back around a dozen years ago, Manafort was hired as a lobbyist and consultant for some pro-Russian folks over in the Ukraine....a year or two later, he's working for some Russian folks in Cyprus (at least the news folks say that).

The thing is....these are all businessmen, not Kremlin guys or the KGB.  It's the same type business as if some Chinese hotel owners hired you, or some South Korean cookie makers, or some Saudi oil guys, or some Brazilian cattle folks.  Lobbying is lobbying.

What makes Cyprus unique in this story?  It's one of those EU countries where you can walk in....present a lot of cash for investment purposes, and get residency or a passport.  With a Cyprus passport, you can enter any EU country without any visa.

Back around a decade ago, a lot of billionaire-type Russians started showing up in Cyprus, and dropping their investment money off there.  To be honest, you'd rather do that than put it into some Russian bank and have the government looking over your capital.  But these Russians dropped so much money into the Cyprus economy, that the banks got heavily into some investment problems, and it proved to be too much.

My guess is that the billionaire Russians reached a point where they wanted to chat with a lobbyist from DC who might lead them to the right lobbyist (the insiders to Senators) and have some laws written so they can bring money in and buy into US investment opportunities.

So, in the middle of this congressional hearing....when Manafort is asked how he helped the Russians....he's going to explain the system. Then he'll suggest to the Senators and Congressmen....that they know the lobbyists of the Russians and took their money.  At that point, the meeting will abruptly end, and everyone will sit in their office realizing how Trump led them down this path.

The news media?  They can't tell any part of this story without explaining how both Republicans and Democrats are also insiders to the Russian interference.  In a way, it's a woeful tale.  But it is amusing just how far they got without realizing who they were dealing with (Trump, or the Russians).

Monday, 8 May 2017

Trump and Kim Jung Um?

The odds of Trump and North Korea's Kim Jung Um meeting?  A year ago, I would have said one in a billion.  Right now....maybe one in six.

My scenario....it'd have to be arranged in China.  Some private residence with Chinese guards.

You can imagine Trump sitting there with Kim.....chatting up golf and luxury condo stuff for a while, and eventually they get around to the nuke missile business.

After a while, Kim starts to realize that Donald is a pretty regular guy.  By the end of this visit, they both agree on more future talks.  Kim comes to visit Washington, tour the capital....watch a live NBA basketball game or two....and eat a few pizzas.

After a year, there's some fancy treaty signed by Donald and Kim, and everyone is so shocked, that the Nobel Peace Prize folks accidentally go crazy and nominate the two for some award.

Well....it could happen that way.

Ten Observations about Star Trek

If you count up the five different Start Trek series....I've watched about five-hundred episodes.  After a while, there's some things that you notice.

1.  It seems like no one ever has to go off to the latrine and spend some sitting time after eating some pretty solid chunky food.

2.  No one seems to have any necessity for duct-tape.

3.  Everyone in Star Fleet appears to be some male model.  No chunky women, no beer-gut guys, etc.

4.  No one on board ever drinks Pepsi or Coke.

5.  You never seem to see any bad behavior occasions from the crew where you need to have Lt Jones punished or sent to the brig.

6.  You never see any of the quarters for the junior guys onboard.

7.  You never seem to see any mental nutcases onboard.

8.  You never see a BX or shoppette onboard.

9.  No one ever talks NCAA football, which means that it must have just gone away at some point.

10. There's never any uniform inspections, which just strikes me as curious how you can go so long without jumping on folks.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

President Benjamin Fitzpatrick?

At one point, Senator Benjamin Fitzpatrick, former governor of Alabama....came very close to becoming President of the United States.  So this is the story.

In the long hot summer of 1860....the Democratic Convention was held and turned into a big mess.  The guy who was easily slated to win the nomination....Stephen A. Douglas (Sen, Ill, Democrat).  All he had to do was walk in and hustle up a few oddball representatives at the convention.  The representatives from Alabama and Louisiana?  They said the normal platform which read mostly that slavery was bad and would be dealt with one day....was not acceptable.  You could go back over five decades and find the same wording in every single Democratic platform.  The party intended to do little to nothing about the issue.

So, a fair number of convention members refused to vote for Douglas.  He never got more than 151 votes.  The party went through 57 ballots.  Douglas could not get the nomination.

The Democrats adjourned and left Charleston....in a fury.

They would meet a month later in Baltimore, and run an entirely different convention....refusing to seat some Alabama and Louisiana folks.  This time, Douglas won on the 2nd ballot.

The Vice-President?  Benjamin Fitzpatrick....Senator from Alabama.  At the age of 39, he became Governor of Alabama.  Three years later (after leaving the Governor's position), Fitzpatrick was appointed as temp fill-in for a dead Alabama Senator (serving one year).  Three years later, he filled another temp fill-in for another year in DC as Senator.

So, things were stacked up in 1860 for Douglas to easy win and Fitzpatrick to be his VP.  Because of the break-up of the Democratic Party in this election.....Lincoln beat Douglas, and the rest is history.

If the Democrats had not broken up their vote?  Douglas would have won, but gone on to have Typhoid Fever in 1861, and die in the summer of 1861 from the fever.  Alabama's Fitzpatrick would have assumed the Presidency and likely served out that three-and-a-half years, plus another four (if re-elected).

Rarely does this ever get brought up....but he's about the only Alabamian to ever get that close to the Presidency.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Small Town America

About once or twice a month, I'll see some piece in the news talking about the heartland, and 'small-town' America.  I've come to the opinion that most people really don't know what small town America really means.

Small town, America....is where little league games happen on hot Saturday afternoons, with ice cream later.

Small town, America....is where you know your barber, your mechanic, your plumber, and your neighbor on a first-name basis.

Small town, America....is where you trust your local politician not to cheat you too much or siphon off tax revenues to buy a modern-age statue of a penguin.

Small town, America....is where you go to funerals of people that you've known for thirty years and considered a friend.

Small town, America....is where you go fishing a dozen times a year with your high school friend and your wife's cousin Larry who does transmission repairs.

Small town, America....is where your kids are safe and the porch light is turned off by 9PM.

Small town, America....is where you do charity socials for folks who need cancer operations and don't have much money to cover all their expenses.

Small town, America....is where you attend a local church but never appreciate the minister standing on your front porch and chatting about Moses to you.

Small town, America....is where you get drunk once a year at the high school reunion meeting, and meet with a bunch of guys who are losers just like yourself.

Small town, America....is where pumpkins are grown and part of decoration in October.

Small town, America....is where you keep a gun in the closet by the door, but haven't fired it in twenty years....and its likely that the ammo will malfunction anyway, if you do fire.

Small town, America....is where Wal-mart has yet to arrive.

Small town, America....is where a catfish restaurant sits on main street and you can still get a all-you-can-eat deal for $9.99.

Small town, America....is where your Uncle Barney still tells WW II stories, although half the time he is in Africa fighting the Nazis and half the time he's in the Pacific fighting the Japs.....and the reality is that Barney was 18 in 1945 and had barely gotten into basic training when the war ended. 

Small town, America....is where your wife has tinted her hair and you think she's a new woman entirely. Later, you put on some Barry Manilow music and get her to put on the Madonna outfit that you bought via the internet.

Small town, America....is where your septic tank has failed but you have 44 guys ready to tell you how you can replace it yourself without paying Walt's Septic and Supply to do it for you. After failing miserably, you pay Walt's Septic and Supply to quietly fix what you screwed up and just let your reputation stay intact.

Small town, America....is where a parade occurs each fourth of July with veterans and kids involved. Later you grill some steaks and drink some fresh lemonade. And that night, you watch some kid light up $100 worth of fireworks, which accidentally set fire to some farmer's field and you spend two hours stomping out the field fire.

Small town, America....is where the only murder in the past decade was the local Baptist minister who got shot by some guy who came home early from work to find his wife in a inappropriate position with the minister.

The truth is that we all live in Small town, America....and we really don't care to move or be somewhere else.

Monday, 24 April 2017

The Hawaii-Alabama Essay

Last week....the Attorney General (our former senator from Alabama) got into the news by referring to Hawaii as "an island in the Pacific".  Hawaii folks got all peppered up, because of this lack of 'respect'.

I sat and pondered over this story for a while.  There are three odd aspects to the story.

First, if you went to the 4.8 million Alabama folks....for those over the age of eight, and asked about where Hawaii was located, it's very likely that 90-percent would just point out into the Pacific and say "there".  They might accidentally point toward Japan, the Philippines, or perhaps even Tonga. Ten-percent (the remainder) might point toward the Gulf of Mexico or down near Aruba.

Yes, we do have a geography location problem in Alabama.  It's mostly because if you've never been there....you can't reference the local area.  You can ask most Alabama folks to identify the four border states, and 98-percent will get that correct.  Once you start asking about where Idaho or Montana is located....most folks just point out west on the map.

I would imagine that my brother (the Alabama engineer geek) has met more Chinese in his life than Hawaii folks.

Second, to be fairly honest about this....Hawaii is made up of eight islands.  Most lecture instructors from Alabama will point this out and even define that they were all part of some single land mass back around 12,800 years ago...then all hell broke loose and water rose 400-odd feet.

Third, if you asked the 4.8 million Alabama folks if they'd ever met a Hawaii guy ever....in their life.  Their response (probably 99-percent) will be no.  Probably over 99-percent of Alabama folks will talk up meeting Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, or Tennessee residents.  Some will refer to Arkansas folks as the nicest folks on the face of the Earth.  Then after a couple of comments, you get down to the number of folks who've ever met anyone from Wisconsin or Utah....and less than ten-percent of Alabama folks can say they've met such a person.

From the 20-odd thousand that might have met some Hawaii folks.....they are mostly former military folks who spent time on the isle, or politicians.

Maybe this is worthy of some controversy, but on the scale of hyped-up frustration or hostility....to an Alabama guy....this is maybe somewhere between number 10,500 and 11,000 on the scale of things. In Alabama, we worry more about summer revival activity with a broken-down AC unit in the church, dry counties converting to wet counties, and Governors behaving like nutcases.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Science Stuff

Both in Europe and the US yesterday (Saturday), there was a massive science-geek protest....mostly to ensure pressure on governments to continue research.  The slant on the US protest in DC, across from the White House?  Anti-Trump.

I sat and looked at the hyped conversation by the science-geeks.  They have a big problem.  While there are some great science research projects underway....there are also tremendous wastes of money.

You have idiots who approve studies on Facebook friends (whether they are real friends or not), how long it takes to fully urinate, checking out bee-sting sensitivity on different parts of the body (maybe it might hurt more if they stung your ass), why rich people cheat on taxes, and why monkeys will take risks when bored.

Here's the thing....it's readily apparent that you've got way too many scientists in the civilized world, and they need to pay back college loans (that's my humble opinion).  Maybe up until the 1960s.....we had some control and competence over the money handed out, but that has disappeared over the past couple of decades.

Various governments (it's not just the US) are reviewing their spending and making cuts.  So, there's likely to be less money in the future to study monkey urine, best ways to wreck a new car, or assign risk-factors to chainsaw usage.

Maybe in some way, we ought to go and send out the scientists to figure out why college costs have escalated and how to assign blame for that, or maybe ask scientists to explain why climate change science is settled, while the 500-odd other sciences are unsettled.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

University Topic

When I attended university in the 1980s....there were generally three requirements.  First, you needed pay them before the classes started....in cash, check, or money-order.  Second, you had to get form signed by the Air Force which would pay for 75-percent of the tuition.  And third, you needed to visit some counselor to ensure that you had some plan.

To be honest on the third requirement....there probably never was a plan within my scope of things, but the these counselors didn't really care one way or the other.

This week, I noted in the news that Kennesaw State University (within the beltway of Atlanta) had gone and added another seminar onto the requirements to attend.  This had something to do with privilege and interracial relations....note, NOT rank and privilege as most military folks would quickly have misunderstood and chatted on for an hour.

The university had gone out and hired some outside training counselor to ensure folks were hyped up on privilege and interracial relations.

So, you'd all come into one big room....I assume twenty-five-odd folks.  Then they'd say to you.....you folks who identify as white.....need to go to this room, and you folks who are of color....need to go to another.  By dividing the group....you'd create an "environment" of understanding and support.

I sat and read through this piece.

The contractor consultant was counting on folks playing his or her game.....getting up and going to room X or room Y.

Me?  I would have sat there with my coffee while everyone got up and just stayed in my seat.  Eventually, the instructor guy would have asked about my status.  I would have said that I was translucent in nature....not white or of color.

It probably would have confused the consultant a good bit, and I would have been told that I wasn't grasping the game being played.  Frankly, I see this as an hour or two of time wasted.  You could just as well chatted about limiting alcohol consumption....how to handle a firearm, or how to handle a rattlesnake situation.

No one said much over how much this seminar cost in nature.  I'd hate to think that you had to pay $25 for something like....without any value.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Church Story

Typically, it's just about impossible to get thrown out of a Baptist Church.  As long as you show up.....avoid sleeping during sermons.....and don't openly criticize the minister or Jesus....you are fairly set as a member.  This morning, I opened up local Alabama news and noted that the Governor, and his Paramour gal (with her husband) were kinda kicked out of their Tuscaloosa Baptist Church. Yeah, shocker.

At some point last year, after all this affair business came out with the Governor and the Paramour....the church minister got all worried.  Oddly, he calls for a meeting in his office with the parties affected.  Mrs Bentley didn't really care to attend (wouldn't blame her).

The minister wants everyone to lay out their part of the episode.  Now in the real world....most Governors would not have attended, and if they had.....a lawyer would have accompanied them.  So it's hard for me to figure out why Bentley showed up and started talking....other than perhaps him having dementia.

So after Bentley finished up his whole story on the affair.....Mr and Mrs Mason talk about their part of their affair. No one says how long this whole description of the affair took....maybe three minutes...maybe three hours.

Some guys from Alabama would have described their Paramour situation in thirty words or less.  A few might have used a thousand words, been kinda graphical (hands waving around), and the intensity involved (like a University of Alabama versus Auburn football game).  Then you'd have that one single Alabama guy who'd talk for three hours about this original meeting, the Paramour clothing choice, his fantasy world, telephone chats, licky-spity kisses, pancake breakfast meetings at the Waffle House at 4AM, five-inch heels, and lusty stuff best not to be told to Baptist ministers.

Then you come to this moment of talk with Mr and Mrs Mason.  Mr Mason would be in a dire Baptist situation if he acknowledged that he knew about the affair before it even started.  Usually, that would be an unwise situation to lay out....as if planned from day one.

Then you have to wonder what Mrs Mason said to the minister, and how she described her part in the affair.  Typically, most Alabama women would limit their chatter to maybe forty words.  Then you might have that one gal who'd get all chatty and spend twenty-five minutes describing the emotion, fervor, energy, and vigor involved.  She might have described the Governor as her "George Clooney".
The minister?  He might have been a bit disgusted with all this sex-chat stuff and wondered how these three characters attended his weekly sermons and got all hyped up over lusty stuff.

At the end of this meeting.....according to the journalist.....the minister asked the Governor to not attend the church any more.....taking away his deacon status/Sunday school teacher position.  Then he turned to the Masons, and just said it'd be best not to attend his church anymore.

The thing I see is that typically, you'd want to sell your religion on forgiveness.  You could have asked the Governor and the Masons to kneel down....pray for thirty minutes....ask to have the devil cast out of their lives, and then ask for forgiveness over the three.  Oddly, the Minister didn't care to do the standard Baptist gimmick on the three.

My take?  Way too much lusty stuff going on.  This was probably one of those meetings that didn't really fix anything, and probably made things worse.

At the end of this.....at least a hundred thousand Alabama Baptist members can sleep secure in knowing that their illicit affair didn't get discovered and they didn't get dragged in to admit with the choir director last weekend in some Mobile hotel, or have had a ten-year affair with the Minister's wife.

On the positive side, it does demonstrate that Alabama folks are awful passionate, and hot-blooded....probably more so than those Mississippi folks.  

Monday, 17 April 2017

How To Campaign and Win the Alabama Governor's Seat

Being both an insider and outsider to Alabama....I have a different prospective on things.

In most state elections in the real world.....you need to have some amount of money to do advertisements, and line up unique vote combinations (women's vote, Latino vote, minority vote, etc).

Up to the 1980s....I think that was the trend in Alabama as the Republicans and Democrats faced each other off.  Then something unique in Alabama occurred.  The GOP turned and picked out a couple of topics, and lessened the need for advertisements or unique vote combinations.  The topics?

1.  Anti-lotto.  The GOP went straight to the Baptist membership of the state, and harped on lottery operations being an evil thing.  Speeches would be made about the negativity of lottery money.  Naturally, the Democrats aren't stupid.....most every state around Alabama is raking in money off lottery....so it only makes sense.  The GOP legislature?  Oh, they will chat openly about lottery chances.  But whoever is the governor candidate....will always take a dim view of the lottery business.

2.  Anti-Casino.  The GOP went straight to the Baptist membership of the state, and harped on casino gambling being bad.  Speeches would be made by the GOP caniddate about the negativity of casino profits being taxed.  The Democrats?  They aren't stupid.....other states are signing up....so it only makes sense.  The Baptist loved the anti-Casino talk.

3.  Anti-Evolution.  Amusing as it sounds....the Baptist crowd likes to hear this, and no Democrat will dare suggest anything on evolution.

All of this costs almost nothing, and gets talked around via various Baptist channels in the state.  So you take the crowd who will vote GOP no matter what.....toss in the Baptist-chatter crowd, and you got a remarkable 60-percent chance of winning.

In an amusing way.....the Democrats in Alabama have no virtual way of getting in on this action....even with the latest GOP resignation of the governor, and the suggested corruption going on within the state.

What happens after the Alabama GOP gets lottery and casino bills passed?  I suspect that they will move onto marijuana and it's evils....suggested their anti-marijuana position will save the state....then oddly, five years later, we will find that the GOP and Democrats have passed a medical marijuana bill into law.

Are folks that stupid?  Well....it's just that they'd like to believe in something related to their religious preferences.  Since Jesus never said anything much about lottery, casinos, or marijuana....it's left to interpretation.  You know how that goes.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Mike Goes to Cyprus

This week....not widely reported....but a Democrat House member (Rep Mike Quigley (Ill)) flew off to Cyprus.  He's on the House Intelligece Committee, and he's gone to Cyprus because...."thats where Russians launder money."  He believes he will gather intelligence and data on Trump's former campaign chairman....Paul Manfort and his work in eastern Europe.

What we expect out of this fact-finding mission to Cyprus?

First, he'll likely fly business class all the way into Frankfurt....board one of about a dozen airlines which fly into the small island of Cyprus.  The airlines are: Bulgaria Air, Air Moldova, Alitalia, KLM, LOT, Air Malta, Pegasus, Czech Airlines, Lufthansa, Swiss Air, Aeroflot, and five or six no-name airlines.

Mike will probably be shocked that the ticket his folks bought in DC....is just a passenger only ticket, and he'll have to pay 30-Euro for his bag (one-way).  He might also be shocked at the quality of the airlines involved, and that half of them don't offer a direct flight to Cyprus....which means he'll have to spend five hours in some no-name airport, and this whole expedition to Cyprus takes 22 hours from DC.

So, Mike will arrive at one of the only two airports on Cyprus....Larnaca or Paphos.  Hopefully, they picked Larnaca (that's the capital city).  Paphos is about 90 minutes away from Larnaca.

Right off the bat.....Mike will discover that almost no banker in Larnaca will talk with him, period.

Then, Mike will discover that the Cyprus government folks aren't that willing to talk to him either.

The US embassy?  They will bring out their economics expert and maybe have a hour-long chat which centers mostly around rumors....scuttlebutt.....hearsay....and gossip.

The CIA guy?  He'll mostly chat about his secret investigations....which indicate that virtually every single bank in Cyprus is deep into Russia money, and that billions come in each month, and flow out. Then he'll list out forty-odd lobbyists in Fairfax, Virginia....some deep into Republican and Democratic circles....who might be getting some piece of the action.  Mike would prefer not to hear about the Democratic lobbyists in this episode.

Mike will eventually come to realize that Cyprus isn't your normal corrupted government or country.  It's much like the US.  People have money...they want service....they pay for your service....and you perform.

It's at this point that Mike will realize this whole trip to Cyprus was just a wasted trip, but will enjoy the excellent five-star hotel that he spent five nights in.  He might also come to note that they have lousy water pressure, and you aren't allowed to put toilet paper into the toilet, but instead into the trash can....which kinda stinks up the room.

Mike will also probably consume a fair amount of Zivania....which is a brandy-like drink. The locals will tell you that Zivania started out (hundreds of years ago) to treat wounds or to massage into sore body joints.  Then, folks discovered it was great for colds and flu.  Then folks discovered it was great for toothaches.  Then folks discovered it was great for a heated-drink during winter periods.  Then finally, folks discovered it was a great drink to offer visitors or guests.  Note, while it does come in watered-down versions.....the typical bottle you'd pick up at the grocery will be 45-proof.  So just three or four shots of the stuff will get you going, and if you had ten to fifteen shots....you'd be in no condition to do much of anything.

Then Mike will return to DC, and chat for weeks about his fact-finding mission to Cyprus.  Eventually, some of the DC lobbyists who get funding from Cyprus....will come to visit Mike and try to get him to see a practical side to Cyprus, and put a bit of money into his campaign chest.

Here's the simple truth.  The Russian billionaires discovered that Cyprus had a wide-open door, and banks which weren't regulated very much.  The Russians didn't want to put their money into Moscow banks....because it's just not safe.  Financially, it only makes sense.  So Cyprus found that investment money into condo construction....resort hotels....and shipping companies....were all helped by this flow of money.  You can call it money-laundering but there's all this positive stuff going on, so why get bent out of shape?  The billionaires have their money in a safe place, and they get to move it around.  Putin and state-sponsored work?  No, that's the amusing thing about this whole story.  It's a bunch of rich guys.....like the New York City rich guy crowd, or the Miami rich guy crowd, or the Chicago rich guy crowd.....just protecting their money.

The cost of this Mike expedition to Cyprus?  I'd take a guess over $10,000 will have been spent on this.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Paramour

This week, my home-state has been in the news a fair bit.....the governor has finally resigned.

What can be said is that Robert Bentley (Republican) was a small-time state legislature guy, and fairly successful in his life at the medical business.  Somewhere around age 65, he'd met up with a couple from his church who felt he had the 'right stuff' to be governor.  With their help, he ran.....got elected....and brought the couple into jobs within the state office.  The gal was hired to a $400,000-plus job and the husband in a similar but less paying job. What developed was some girlfriend situation with the gal, and eventually....Bentley's wife figured out the whole thing (divorcing him).  It would be safe to say that Bentley was not really the governor.....and that this girlfriend was pressing the right buttons to ensure things happen.

So we come to this reporting of the event.  Depending on who you read....the girlfriend is described as a: paramour, kept woman, beau, mistress, concubine, sugar, main squeeze, doxy, or 'other woman'.
If you are from Alabama.....typically, you'd use 'other woman', sugar, mistress, or kept woman.  The W-word might also be used but not in front of Baptists.

If you used the word paramour, I would take a guess that 90-percent of folks from Alabama have no idea what it is, or what it means.  Some might suggest that it's a French pastry, or some town near Fairhope.  I would take a guess that out of the whole state.....less than 3,000 folks speak French or would easily recognize the word.

My brother (the engineer) might have some knowledge of the word....but only because he read the Three Musketeers two or three times, and a bunch of the characters were having paramour situations.

The governor?  I'm pretty confident that he'd use the word sugar.

All this lusty talk kinda unsettles the typical Alabama guy.  It'd normally be something that you didn't talk about....settling instead on NCAA football, bass fishing, pick-ups, septic tank replacement, garage advice, beef prices, the Braves, Kenny Rogers tunes, and Trump.

Some ministers will attempt to weave some Bible-tale into this situation and advise guys off the trail of paramour situations.  Half of those ministers over the next year will be pointed out to already have their own paramour situations.

What I think will develop out of this whole Bentley and paramour thing is that folks will begin to see Alabama as the lusty state with a bunch of paramour activities.  Some Bama folks will hate the aspect of a lusty state....but it'd bring in more tourists and generate more jobs..  Maybe eventually, we'd even make a car-tag referring to Alabama as the paramour-state.  Well....maybe.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

An Investing Story

Around 2008....I worked with a guy whose dad called him up one day about a stock....SIRI (Sirus XM Radio).  It was doing lousy and gone down to 10 cents a share. His dad was hearing some good stuff about a comeback.  Dad said he was going to $10,000 of shares (figure about 100,000 shares).

My buddy brought this up with me.  I just couldn't see the wisdom....it was a dying stock in my mind.  The buddy went ahead bought some stock (couple days later, it was around 12 cents a share).  I seem to remember it being near 150,000 shares that he bought.

Six weeks later....stock was near 18 cents a share, and I jumped into this.  I wasn't crazy over a huge number.....so I bought near 2,000 shares.  About two months later....it was near 25 cents and I sold my shares, happily.  I went back in a couple months later at 35 cents and sold at 45 cents.

My buddy and his dad were still into this in 2010, and I suspect they are still both into the stock.

Value now?  I was glancing at stock prices today and went back to look over SIRI.  His dad would have $500,000 of value.  My associate would have $750,000.

You come across some kind of gamble like that once in your life.  Either you take it or you walk away.


An AP Story

I read a fair amount of news, and came to this one odd piece, which developed from two days ago as a 'man-lost' story.  The AP wrote up the original piece, and the end-piece (appearing late last night).

For those who are familiar with the Atlanta Braves....they once had this outfielder by the name of Otis Nixon.  Toward the end of his career....he was lucky enough to be picked up for a couple of seasons with the Braves.  He was suspended in one season for drug use (cocaine).

So Otis came up in the last couple of days and told his girlfriend that he was going golfing, and left in his SUV.  He didn't come back.  She got all worried and upset.....then called the cops.  The cops simply put out a note to folks about him missing....but I doubt if they put any effort into this.

Yesterday, Otis reappeared.  As the AP noted.....foul play was not involved.  They kept you dangling over this episode.....telling you little else.

Then they kinda end the story....Otis had 1,379 hits and 620 stolen bases over a 17-year career.

It's how a guy would like to end a mysterious epic disappearance....just some AP writer noting his baseball statistics from a career twenty years ago.  You could have just chatted about the wife, girlfriend, or kids.....but you need some slam-bang ending to a story.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

The World of Worry

In our mighty world....we worry.

We worry about gas prices, chicken prices, corn prices, electricity prices, natural gas prices, and pizza delivery prices.

We will worry about grandma's impending death, the dog who is fourteen years old this year, the 1978 Ford out back which is on its fourth transmission, and the tree that is leaning across the yard at a 12-degree pitch.

We worry about the Alabama governor who might actually be certifiably crazy.

We worry about the store being out of fresh grapes or strawberry's or melons.

We will worry that the butcher might only have fatty sirloin steaks tomorrow when we shop.

We worry that our company is crapped-out with incompetent managers and bonus money flows like the Mississippi into the CEO's pocket while talks of a merger or a bankruptcy occur.

We worry about cheap airline tickets which are non-existent today.

We worry about flying through JFK and if we might be stuck in Manhattan tonight at the Roosevelt, with a breakfast in the morning at $32 per person.

We will worry about the 44-year old bus at Grand Central Station that would take us back to JFK, for $19 and whether the Koran bus-driver understood what we asked.

We worry about the doctors office, Nurse Wanda and whether everything is sanitized there.

We worry about the wonderful nurse doing our blood-pressure check who has the open blouse and a 44DD cup....and whether our blood pressure is accurate or over-accurate.

We worry about McDonalds switching over to fat-free fries.

We worry that Wendys will give up on regular chilli and serve diet-chilli.

We worry if Pepsi will redo the receipe and add butterscotch to the recipe.

We worry about Coke adding 33 more flavors of Coke, including one that has turnip-flavor and B-12 vitamins.

We worry about aliens who might come tonight and "probe" us.

We worry that Bigfoot might actually come out of the woods and engage with us into a conversation on Trump's Syria bombing, and we just aren't prepared for this kind of chat.

We worry about cattle mutilations and whether the black helicopters are really the nuclear department or from the Mexican Army.

We worry about Matt Lauer and if he might one day just walk off the stage of the Today Show and marry Britney Spears.

We worry that Oprah might actually lose weight and keep it off.

We worry that the news people might actually run out of news to report tonight.

We worry that the networks might start a new soap opera for daytime TV entitled Washington Democrats (with sexy hot lust scenes).

We worry that Pro Wrestling might go bankrupt, with Roller Derby, and we'd be stuck with tennis or bowling to watch on Monday nights.

We worry that Mike Tyson might actually be able to act and get a Oscar next year.

We even worry about global warming, global cooling, global climate change, polar bears who might be dying or might be attacking environmentalists, and even the amount of peppermint in the air at any given time.

Frankly, we worry an awful lot. Not to criticize our magnificent world....but maybe things will just work out and tomorrow the sun will rise.....bacon and waffles will be in the air....and life will go on. Maybe. Just maybe.

The Column That Won't be Returning

This morning, I read a piece off the hometown newspaper where I grew up from 7 December 1961.  In those days, it was fairly common that every community in the county would have a column....maybe 40 to 60 lines that would lay out the news of that community.

It'd typically read; The such-and-such club held a coffee-social over at home of Ms Jones, Forty ladies gathered with various cakes and pies.  The son of Will and Ann Frederick arrived home after the semester ended at Texas Tech.  A tree fell on the car of Martin Fulks last Saturday, causing a complete loss, and he is reported to be looking at a new Ford.  The widow Norris has installed a new air conditioning system into her house .

I can still remember my dad pulling out these articles and pointing out names mentioned in these columns.

At some point in the early 1970s....they started to disappear.  It's hard to say the reason for the end.

I will admit that the clubs often mentioned (the Saturday Social Club, the Home Demonstration Club, etc) all started to disappear in the 1970s.  I will also admit that by the early 1980s....lives were more complicated with the gossip being less-friendly and more problematic.  One might also agree that stories were getting to a point of where you couldn't tell the whole story without someone getting offended.

If you were to try running one of these local community columns today?

- The Widow Hanks had her nephew visiting, after six months in a Dallas jail for meth distribution.  Warren says he's on a new track and just looking for a full-time job.

- A fight broke out as the Home Demonstration Club met at the home of Wanda Sinyard.  Witnesses say that several ladies had tossed back shots of Tequila and made offensive comments toward Ms Richards and her new Mexican boyfriend.  Police settled the social meeting and arrested two of the ladies for 4th degree assault.

- Cindy Pruitt took up with the Piggly Wiggly manager (sixteen years older than her) and has gotten a $700 tattoo to note her affection for the guy.

- Ronny Jones returned home after six weeks at the University of Florida.  It's noted that he was invited to leave the university and not come back.

- Mr and Mrs Smith announced that they will be divorcing shortly.  Mr Smith had taken up with the new UPS lady driver, and Mrs Smith was going to start a new relationship with a British cook.

By the time you throw in the gutter gossip, the drug-thug news, break-ins, off-and-on marriage woes, financial issues, and secret affairs going on....our local communities have become something that we'd rather not discuss much except behind closed doors.

It is a bold new era that we live in.  Some folks might go and wish upon some simpler time or return to a wholesome era.....but I kinda doubt that it's possible now.  We've permanently lost our innocence.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Was the Syria Episode Scripted Out?

It's a stupid question, but you have to stand back and look at some simple issues.

- While everyone was pumped up months ago when Syria handed over all of it's chemical weapons to be disposed of.....you really couldn't say that they all had been given over.

- The device for the chemical weapons.....a type of bomb that would be fitted onto an aircraft.  Not a crude tank hung off a helicopter, or an artillery-shell.  Does ISIS have aircraft?  No.  Does Syria have aircraft?  Yes (oddly the type flying from this base that got bombed out by the US).

- Did the Russians likely figure out the whole bomb thing and the odds of it being from Assad's Air Force?  They'd have to be idiots if they didn't figure that out in five or six hours.

- The use of the chemical weapon making the Russians look bad?  Well....yeah.  They can talk to Assad and try to convince him of the stupidity involved....but it doesn't matter.

Who knows.....maybe Putin called up Trump and laid the cards on the table and just said....you know....you were to bomb this one air base under Assad....we wouldn't be terribly unhappy.  And by the way, here's the coordinates for every building on the base.

After the event, Putin can look furious for about 60 seconds, and talk about the evil Americans.  Then he goes behind the door and just grins because Trump fixed Putin's problem and will ensure this doesn't happen again.

Maybe I'm wrong, but it just seems so scripted out.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

This Security Council Topic

The news media has hyped up Trump's guy Bannon, and the fact that he's been edged out of the Security Council.  For twenty-four hours, I've been reading through the bits and pieces.  Behind all of this is this simple reason....when they did have council meetings....he rarely attended.

The President himself....has little reason to give on missing the Security Council meetings.  No matter how silly or long these meetings are....he kinda has to be there and say 'something' to pep folks up or to move the US position in some direction.

Bannon?  I would imagine after two or three meetings, and the topics discussed....he realized the worthless value of allocating his time to these meetings.

Between January and now?  What exactly of a major crisis would have been discussed?  North Korea doing something stupid for the 600th time in twenty years?  ISIS thugs in Syria who never seem to go away, and we will drop another 44 bombs next week on another ISIS target?  After that, you down two or three steps, and get into pretty worthless discussions on Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Venezuela.  The days of talking over the Soviet Union are long gone....so the value of the Security Council is questionable. But you don't dare get rid of the concept.

If you had some Cuban missile crisis, some massive terror attack in London, or some US passenger ship kidnapped at sea....then the council would have value.....but as a week to week thing?  No, it's not the kind of meeting you want to waste your time at.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

The Fresno Story

There's this news piece I read this morning....out of Hampton Roads (WAVY)....over this story from Fresno, California.

Cops get a call....go out, and here's this gal standing there..."mostly naked". She had no idea who she was....was fairly wet....and asking for help.  This was around 3:15AM.  She did claim that she was a Mermaid and that she thought her name was Joanna.  That's it....not much else.  Cops took some fingerprints and are waiting for the gal to come to her senses or someone calls up about knowing her.
There are two aspects to the story which interest me.

First, the term "mostly naked".  It's not clear what they meant.

In California....this might mean that she was wearing some bikini-bottom.  In Fresno, it might mean a t-shirt only.

My brother (the engineer type and farming enthusiast) would say that she was likely wearing Red Wing boots and a Auburn-athletic shorts.

My son would probably say she was wearing a Scooby Do shirt and a towel (since she's a Mermaid).

I would be thinking that she's wearing a tube top and men's underwear.

The cops will probably get 500 phonecalls today.....asking about her attire situation.

Second, it's pretty obvious that she's heavily doped up, and lost some perception of time and memory.

With all the drugs going around today.....I have this worry in the back of my head.  It surprises me on the level of acceptance for people.....if you walk in and say you got some new fantastic drug that will keep you doped up for seven days....then forty people will beg to try out that drug.

Eventually, someone is going to develop a drug that has some ten-day high attached, and when you wake up finally....you will have forgotten who you are.  Yeah....an amnesia drug.  Even if you told people of the effects.....there'd still be thousands who'd go ahead and take the drug.

Could we survive as a society, if you suddenly had 300,000 Americans on some self-induced amnesia episode?  Maybe.  But if this was 300,000 every year....it'd only take five to eight years for us to reach a stage where care for the million-plus was impossible.

I know...on the list of 1,000 things to worry about....this ought to be non-existent.  But for some reason....I've moved it up to number 997.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

The Wrong People

There's talk that the Trump administration will hand TSA authority to ask incoming folks (even from France or Germany) a couple of questions over their ideology....maybe digging in various details of their life.

I sat and paused over this idea.

Having dealt with the TSA folks on a couple of occasions....I can generally say that it's loaded with folks who have a 8th-grade mentality, can't chew gum and talk at the same time, and if you gave them some instructions....it's a 50-50 shot whether they would be capable of grasping the instructions.

Most (probably 99-percent) don't speak a second language.  They might have access to some phone and be able to call up 'Joe' who will translate over to some French guy.  But you can imagine the German guy trying to understand the question and thinking the TSA guy is talking about 'geology' (instead of ideology) and talking up rocks and meteors.  The TSA guy will try to get a clear meaning of what he is referring to....and after two minutes....realize that the German just doesn't get the true meaning of ideology.

Me?  I might infer to the TSA guy that I was anti-NCAA, anti-Baptist, anti-Jeb Bush, pro-wrestling, pro-pancakes, anti-Ford, pro-automatic transmission, and anti-Bigfoot.  They'd probably push me into some room....asking if I was on medication or a registered Democrat.

You can just sense that some type of order like this....would just make things worse than they are already.  Maybe if TSA was loaded with rocket-scientists or Einstein-like characters....they could act like some Columbo-like detective and spot those Jihadist guys real quick.  Instead, you will end up with a bunch of angry frustrated French or German tourists who didn't come to the US for 99 questions over their ideology.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Orientation, Knowledge and Innovation

At some point around 1920....in the rurals of Alabama, my grandfather made a trip up to a Ford dealer....going likely by some convenience (either by horseback, bus, or neighbor's Ford Model T).  Cash was laid down for the vehicle of choice....black in color....and some type of orientation was given.

No one talks over the orientation or length involved....my humble guess is that it was most of two hours to cover the fifty-odd things you needed to know, and a brief drive to demonstrate motion, braking and turning.

In verbiage from this period....my grandfather would probably have taken six hours to describe the brief orientation.

No one ever talks about these operator's manuals from this period, and I seriously doubt that they would have been more than ten pages max.

It is an interesting view to sit down and realize that the previous generation, with his father....that your mode of transportation was limited to just horseback, wagon, or train.  The generation prior to that?  Just horseback and wagon.

Eight generations ago...my relative crossed the Atlantic on a vessel that took a minimum of six weeks.  It was a miserable trip and was probably something that you didn't have any desire to repeat.  His orientation onboard?  It probably took six minutes for them to lay out the sleeping area....the galley where food would be prepared, and the top deck.  Your biggest priority was the 'head' where the toilet facilities (the bare minimum) existed....likely to be a bucket.

The tenth generation of my family made a decision to move from a safe and comfortable rural location on the northeast side of England, to London.  It was a distance of 112 miles....figure three days on horseback to reach London.  Orientation?  Probably none.

Over the 90 years since my grandfather's brief orientation with the dealer?  I can climb into a car and travel the 112 mile distance (same as from Kirby Bedon to Lodon) in about 70 minutes (at least that fast on German autobahns).

Later this fall, I will do the Frankfurt to Auckland, New Zealand trip.  With a minor stop in the middle, I could have wrapped up the whole trip in roughly 22 hours.  Orientation?  Other than sixty seconds of some safety briefing on the get-out procedures, there will be little else.

I sat a month ago going over the operators manual of our car....an Audi TT.  It's roughly 200 pages of data, charts, graphics, pictures, etc.  To be honest....forty-percent of it is useless and would never be of importance to anyone.  Fifty of the pages are critical in nature, and you have to more or less memorize.  The current German drivers manual?  The US Army manual which is handed out is 98 pages long (AEP 190-34).  You have to memorize at least 100 signs, and have a fair knowledge of 50-percent of the rules.

All of us now live in a fairly robust society, with orientation and use of skill-sets are necessary to survive.  It's not just about baking chocolate cake, installing a satellite antenna, or putting a new laptop into use.  Whether we realize or not....there's likely 100,000 skill-sets that we are all using now on a routine basis....all based on some orientation and what we've added to that knowledge.  My grandfather probably did well with 3,000 likely 3x5 cards of knowledge as his basis for everyday life.  I'm probably working with 150,000 3x5 cards of knowledge.  Some with engineering or medical backgrounds are surviving with probably 500,000 3x5 cards of knowledge.

The thing is...no one ever sits down and thinks about the amount of distance covered in this short time-span.  Rarely do we think about two or three generations ago, and just how limited things were, or how difficult something might have been.  Two generations ago....a guy with pneumonia could have easily died.  Two generations ago....your chief ability to communicate a long distance was primarily a letter, or a short telegram.  Two generations ago, your operator's manual to a car would have taken you 15 minutes to read.

Life, whether we like or not....has become more complicated.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Austin, EU?

Today, at some dinner function function in Malta, the head of the EU (Jean-Claude Juncker....pronounced Yunker) said that if President continues to talk about taking apart the EU....then he (Junchker) would suggest that parts of the US also remove themselves from the US government, and go independent.  He didn't say that the EU would take them.....just that they might be independent.

He suggested that Ohio and Austin, TX could go independent.

The odd thing is that if you went around a dozen US metropolitan areas today....they could probably get up enough votes to succeed and try to apply to the EU.  I doubt that the EU would want them....but that's the state of affairs in the nation today.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Colin Kaepernick

I rarely get into football discussions.  Over the past four years....I've watched maybe a total of two games, and admit my interest in the last decade has rapidly declined.

This past season, I watched the Colin Kaepernick business unfold, with the knee on the ground during the national anthem being played.  When it started up, I thought that he must have reviewed his career options and knew that most teams looked upon him as a magnet for negative media attention.

Since his contract ran out....over the past three months....almost zero interest by any team in the NFL.  He seems shocked, and some sports journalists hype this as unfair.

Here's the simplicity of this 'business', and I emphasize it as such.  If you are going to pull out five-million dollars for some guy to work for you....for one season, then you kinda expect him to be a positive media device for the team.

You don't want to wake up one night and react to a phonecall that your highly paid "Joe" was arrested for beating his wife, or was arrested for badly assaulting some guy at a bar.

I can rattle off a hundred different things that you really don't want to hear about some guy that you are paying five-million dollars for.

In this case, you have to continually wonder...on game-day....will Kaepernick go back to the one-knee trick?  Maybe you could make it through a season without him going for some media attention.  Maybe not..

It would be different if you were just paying the guy $500 for one single game on a Sunday. You probably wouldn't care if he worshipped Satan, drank tea from marijuana, or if he had a tattoo on his back of Trump.  But for some guy to make a million or more?  No, he has to set some examples and be awful dedicated to his profession.

I don't see Kaepernick in that fashion.  He's not focused on pure football....he has some angle at work, and why should I risk my money on a guy like that?

My guess is that three weeks into the season....some quarterback will have a serious injury and some team will sign Kaepernick to a short one-season contract for less than one-million dollars.  It'll stipulate something about focusing on football, and he'll get one single chance.

In some ways, this is why I hate football today....it's more of a reality show....than a sport.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

"Doc"

With the comments that came up over General Flynn in the past couple of days....this brought back all these images and memories of incompetence among general officers.

At some point after I retired, but continued to work as a contractor to the Air Force....we had this four-star general who descended upon Ramstein. "Doc" Foglesong.

There is hardly a week that would pass when you'd sit there for five to ten minutes in amazement at some weird directive which came out of the headquarters.

He had twelve programs which became the primary joke that airman discussed for days, weeks and months.

At the top of thee special programs....was Combat Proud.  This was a base beautification situation.  Fences that didn't meet some particular scale of acceptance were torn down.  In some cases....fences which had been only up for five years....were torn down.  Beauty became this topic and people began to question who held the key to beauty.

During the first year of existence, I'd take a guess that almost every airman and junior NCO on base was spending a minimum of four hours a week in some Combat Proud task.

At some point....painting white rocks came into the vogue, and a month later....it was deemed 'non-beauty' and the rocks had to be picked up and thrown away.

Staff meetings in squadrons always had tasks listed for the commander to assess if they were all doing enough to meet high expectations.  Lt's and Captains were walking around on Friday to analyze and determine accomplishments.....so they could be measured on various slides for Monday.

Combat Nighthawk was another program started by "Doc".  This was supposed to be this deal where junior officers on night shift....were to meet up with senior NCOs on night-shift, and there would be sharing of experiences.  They would get into a truck....as night descended, and just drive around.

I asked a junior Captain about this once.  Basically, he noted that they spent four hours in a some truck one evening.  I asked....what was the conversation.  Well...he said....they basically talked on the Dallas Cowboys....they were both from Texas.  For four hours?  Yeah....they went over the Roger Staubach days and recounted various players.

I'm not sure if this was an exchange that "Doc" wanted....but it was better than talking four hours of nothing.

Combat Education was another "Doc" invention.  For years, the base education center on each base handled education requirements.  "Doc" woke up one day and felt that he wanted to emphasize this more.  So they invented this program, and put the title above their newsletters or emails.  Nothing much changed....just that "Doc" got credit for something that had been going on for years.

Then came Combat Touch.  It was the wrong title and it conveyed something of an arousing nature.  It was supposed to be a program for Chaplains.....to bring spiritual needs and well-being to airmen and their families.

The program itself had existed for decades, but "Doc" made it his program.

The big problem came about twelve months into this when "Doc" wanted TV advertising fixed up for AFN.  60 and 30 second commercials.

Army guys started to laugh when this 'combat' word came up in the advertising.  Drinking games were created....a shot when the 'combat' advertisement started, and each time the voice uttered 'combat'.  Typically, it'd be a minimum of four times in a 30-second ad.  Over a four-hour period on Saturday evening?  You could have 'combat' require you to consume 20 shots....if the ad's were lined up for an Air Force evening.

The thing is....all of these existed in some form, prior to 'Doc', and all reverted back to some normal scheme after he left.

Doc's next two jobs?  He settled into a Mississippi university for two years, and then kinda got enough people upset enough....that he left.  After that, he ended up with some energy company for a year or two....that had serious write-up handed down by the gov't over safety practices.  

It was a period where you began to assess the competency of officers, and realized that a fair number of them were not capable of leading people.  It wasn't about their degree, past background, or previous jobs....these were people who just weren't competent and lacked common sense.

Seven Years of Hype

Done.  This attempt to pass a replacement healthcare bill to replace ObamaCare?  Never voted upon because it would not pass.

So you sit there and ponder upon this.

For seven lousy years, you had to hear GOP bigwigs out of DC....from McCain to Ryan and at least 150 Republicans who'd appear on Sunday chatter shows....gushing over how they'd have a better idea and fix the terrible dilemma that ObamaCare laid upon the nation.

It was a farce...a hoax....a joke....and never worth discussion.

This is part of the problem of the Republican Party now.  They have so much hype and theatrics built into their operation....that you can't tell where fake chatter starts and ends.

What should you expect now?

1.  Ryan is practically worthless on leadership, and some challenge will come up to replace him.  Frankly, if I were him....I'd leave the chairman job, and move to some other occupation after the election in 2018.

2.  Democrats shouldn't say much of a happy note.  ObamaCare is losing participants every year.  It's built to have a very limited life.  By the GOP screwing this up....it's laid out a very short string of survival....maybe four to six years before various states, and a large number of the public are complaining bitterly.  Single-payer is the only method left.

3.  If the financial bill comes up and faces the same type of GOP division....then you can assume that the big-plus-up that would have occurred in November 2018's election for more Republicans....will never occur.  In fact, you might be able to assume that 25 House seats will shift over to the Democrats, with two or three Senate seats also going to them.

4.  For Trump?  New reality.....the GOP is fractured and unable to be of any benefit.  He might as well assume this for the remaining three years, and just make the best out of a marginal situation.