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.