Saturday, 30 September 2017

If You Were Going to Kneel Over Stuff

It's a short list that came to my mind....but obviously the NFL millionaire players are thinking of a single topic to knee for.  Some other suggestions?

1.  Making people pay a fee or tax on health insurance that they don't want to purchase.

2.  Doctors who hand opioids over to patients like 'candy'.

3.  494 people shot and killed within Chicago since 1 January (only up to 30 Sep 2017).

4.  Asset forfeiture policy of the US government.

5.  Global warming, global cooling, or climate change.

6.  MS-13 and the drug empire in the US.

7.  The poverty rate of 13.5 percent in the US.

8.  The student debt of $1.2 trillion dollars.

9.  Corrupt nature of both the House and Senate (both parties).

10.  The unrealistic salary structure of NFL players to ordinary Americans.

Course, I realize that these individuals have no understanding of this whole kneeling business, but it might be curious to have different kneeling tricks for different topics. 

How to Look Like an Idiot

I sat and read through some huge criticism piece over the tax deal via the Trump administration and the spokesperson who said that some folks might want to use the $1,000 coming back on this deal....to remodel their kitchen.  So the criticism was laid out....to blast this....you can't do a remodeling job on your kitchen for $1,000.

I sat last year and watched a German removation show where the expert walked into a home, and laid out the project....with the goal of 1,000 Euro or less (roughly $1,200).

So, here's thing....it's all self-help....which you mostly do over a two-day weekend...maybe stretching into a second weekend.

You remove the cabinets from the wall....sand them down a bit, and then paint them.  Course, you probably need a second guy to help lift and screw these back into place.

Fresh paint on the walls?  Yes.

New cupboards?  Yes.

A new light or ventilator-light-unit?  Yes.

A new faucet?  Yes.

Done.  All of this easy enough for a couple to do.  No fancy work.  No $4,000 required

The criticism?  All pretty stupid if you ask me....mostly by idiots who want to pay some guy $4,000 to do the same work.

Why is Puerto Rico in the Crapper After the Hurricane?

First, let me admit that I've never been to the isle in my life.  I have worked around five or six Puerto Rican folks while in the military and did have various conversations with them over this strange and mysterious island (ask a hundred folks, and you tend to find only about one-percent who've been to the island), and most Americans still think it's an independent country.

All this electrical trouble since the hurricane?  Well....if you go back through business news over the past couple of years....their national company has had some issues and had their bonds judged to be near junk-status.  If you bring up maintenance and upgrades?  Well....it's a marginal amount of work and you get the impression that they are surviving with a two-star program providing electricity to the country.  Stateside electrical companies willing to come in and help?  You'd have to arrange ships to bring the trucks and personnel....then agree that you'd likely never get any financial pay-back from the national electrical organization.

Then you come to the island's own junk bonds.  Yeah....they've been junk-status for more than a year or two.

I asked one work-associate back in the 1980s about the lifestyle of the island, and his emphasis was....just about everything on the island is connected to corruption.  The cops, the legal system, the drug-scene, etc.  In his explanation of things....there's two economies working in Puerto Rico.  One is legit and paying taxes....one is strictly non-legit and avoiding taxes.  You'd really have to screw up badly to be caught and face punishment....that was his opinion.

The unemployment rate of Puerto Rico?  For the past year.....roughly ten-percent.  But here's the nifty part of this story.  The rate has been dismal for over a decade.  If you had any skills or college education, you left the island.  Back around 2000, they had near 3.8-million people on the island.  Every year....thousands have left, so they don't count toward the current 10-percent unemployment situation.  Right now, they sit at 3.4-million.  If you follow what's been said over the past week, I'd take a guess that at least 150,000 will leave Puerto Rico by Christmas and likely never come back.  By spring of 2018, add another 150,000 onto that.  They will likely shrink below 3.0-million by July of 2018.   The best and brightest?  Yes, they will be the ones gone.

If you were an American company looking for a potential industrial site there....why?  Maybe cheap labor but it'll hard to find competent or highly educated people for the operation.

For Trump, the best solution here would be to activate 5,000 Guardsmen for six months of duty to help put the grid back back into operation and clear roads.  Then you might go and offer some tax incentive package for some manufacturing companies to come in and set up shop for ten years.  But beyond that....the corruption factor remains.  And I doubt that this will ever correct itself. 

California and the Gas Car Ban

It came up this past week with a draft proposal by a legislative guy in California (Democrat of course) to halt all new gas car sales by 2040.  You could still sell gas in the state, but the idea is that new gas car or diesel car sales....would halt.

The possibility of buying a new car in Vegas or Phoenix and driving it across the border?  Wasn't mentioned, but would likely be the best way to avoid this game.

The intent is to go the way of Germany (already aiming in 2030) for electric car sales only by 2030.

The problem with the California idea? 

If you live in San Diego or San Francisco itself....you probably can live this lifestyle.

If you are one of the guys working in LA, and driving 200 miles round-trip to work each day?  No, you probably can't make this work.  Oh, I agree...the majority of cars would have the 300-mile range by their advertising talk......but there's this California view of things.

For roughly six months out of the year.....the temperature in the mid-section of the state is 85-degrees minimum and on up to 95-degrees, so you'd have the AC unit on the car going 'full-blast'.  On an electric car.....that will eat up juice rather quickly.  You don't see Tesla talking over the rate of battery decrease....but I think an engineer could quickly add up the numbers and say that you'd lose one-third of your battery juice on the AC unit by itself.

Course, you could just open the windows like most California drivers did before the 1970s and bear the heat.  But I doubt if you'd like that idea.

The traffic jam atmosphere in the five major urban areas of the state?  That also adds to the whole concept. 

Naturally, I could see hybrid-cars being a better solution here.  It'd make more sense.  But they skipped right over those in this draft idea.

Will it pass?  On the first go-around? I'd say no.  But by the end of 2019, I'll predict that it's a big deal and passes.  The public might over-ride the law with a public vote.

California is a fairly unique place to live.  People don't live near where they work.  You can figure the average guy drives a minimum of ten miles (one-way) each day to work....some even up to 120 miles one-way.  You can see these folks sitting there and trying to estimate if the 300-mile range would work or not.  It might make some folks just say 'enough' and leave the state.   

How We Got This Way

After looking this week over the NFL mess, continued political bickering, Reality Winner, and public dysfunction....this is one of those essays to review how exactly we reached this point.

1.  The loss of McGovern in 1972.   Most have no memory of the era and what happened.  It was the mid-term with Nixon and the Democrats went and got the intellectual's intellectual to run against Nixon.  I've finished a great book by Thomas Frank this week, entitled 'Listen Liberal' which goes into detail about this one moment in American history.

It was a fairly low turn-out....55-percent.  When they finished the Electoral College count, it was dramatic....520 votes for Nixon and a mere 17 votes for McGovern. 

There was a review after this election to understand what happened.  The Democrats decided that they had the right guy, but the wrong audience.  Working-class Americans, union folks, and simple America....weren't smart enough to handle intellectuals.  So the Democrats latched onto a new direction....they would build the candidates to be designed for themes, urban topics, and agendas for 'smart' people.  I know....it is silly if you think about it.

Most of the effort in the 1980s failed.  Then came Clinton.  The highly educated and intellectual Clinton....had the accent and ability to be two characters.  In this case, it worked.  It almost worked later with Gore.  With Obama?  He could squeeze out two accents and voice his way to fit both groups, but every part of his platform was geared toward the urban crowd...mostly the same with Clinton. Hillary?  She couldn't really do the two voice trick, but her theme and chat was to the urban and brighter audience....not working-class Americans.  Trump?  His style, his words, his platform?  All geared toward working-class Americans.

2.  Part of the shift in the 1970s was to hype up bringing in the right people to be college professors, and use them as instructors for the new future.  As you go into the 1980s and 1990s....those individuals who came out of the system...leaning to the new agenda....were fresh new high school teachers. 

Over the past decade, these were the teachers who taught young minds like Reality Winner, and Manning. 

Today, these are the students showing up and playing their 'snowflake' role at the university system....trying to say they are smarter than the professors and know better....when they are probably not even mature enough for the atmosphere.

3.  The art of division.  It doesn't matter where you go today....into a religious setting, a sport setting, a family reunion, a Thanksgiving dinner, or office party....it's now set to be divided.  The recent Goggle story of the attempts to politically hype up employees and create a division in the work-place?  Just another example.

4.  In 1975, your news came primarily from Newsweek, Time, the local paper, the three networks, Paul Harvey, and the Sunday political chat shows.

In 2017, Time and Newsweek are virtually dead.  The NY Times and Washington Post survive mostly without substantial profit because of owners subsidizing them.  Paul Harvey is gone.  So you are left with Facebook, Twitter, cable news, something called 'Drudge', and twenty-odd political chat shows that go way beyond Sundays. 

5.  Most political platforms are written into a method that make no sense.  You work to convince people that solution 'X' will be the final word on solving a big mess. You wake up three years after implementing solution 'X', which was fairly complicated and contrived....to realize that it merely solved this problem and then created a whole new fresh problem which is now as big as the previous issue. 

In the 1980s, 1990s and past decade, this made sense.  But year after year....people are now asking questions and becoming more capable of looking at the whole solving problems routine.  If you can't resolve things....why make this into some dramatic opera?

6.  The invention of Common Core.  You were basically told that there is this great and highly developed teaching method called Common Core.  Intellectuals all flock to it.  It's marvelous.  Then you sit and try to grasp what the discussion is about.  Hours pass, and you eventually reach a point where you just don't grasp where this is better or how it'd improve much of anything.  You are briefly told.....you aren't intellectual-enough to grasp this. 

In this method, you get downsized and pushed back.  Just accept the intellectual discussion and things are fine.  Something about this seems crazy, but these intellectual people must know what they are talking about.

7.  Young people doing stupid things, with no real grasp that this will lead to a court visit...a judge reviewing your actions....and potential jail time.  Legal costs?  Never imagined.  You have literally thousands of individuals who are walking the thin-line....waiting to visit some jail or prison....over something that seems like a political-cross to bear.

8.  Inability to accept conversation or debate.  If you had suggested in the 1970s that a significant number of educated individuals would be unable to have conversations or debate on a topic of importance....most would have laughed.  Yet here we are.

High schools and the university system are slowly drifting away from debate skills.  In another dozen years, you will have a large segment of American graduates who can't debate, can't discuss topics with co-workers with true positions, and believe there can only be one single side to things.

9.  Capitalism is evil.  It's a common theme today....yet you look at the guy talking about this: (1) a $700 smart-phone, (2) $400 theme-prescription glasses, (3) a $25,000 car, and (4) $100-shoes.  The guy talks excessively about evil capitalism.  Maybe if he was wearing Indian moccasins, lacked a smart-phone and lived under a bridge....it'd all make sense.

10.  The division of the nation is based upon urban-America versus working-class America.  The two groups have totally different character, charm, and dreams.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Explanation Over Reality Winner

For a number of months, I've been watching this arrest episode unfold with this former Air Force Intelligence NCO....who'd gone to the NSA as a contractor.  The gal?  Reality Winner.  I know....it's an odd name name. 

So it finally came up today as to what 'flipped' her out and triggered her to download classified material....walk out and pass it on.

What she says now is that she was sitting int he office one day, and Fox News was played on her TV.  She got all hyped up....filed some formal complaints....nothing was done. 

So, this was some act of revenge....over Fox News in her work-place.

Back in the old days....in intelligence vaults....we didn't have TV running.  I can remember this period and we'd beg for radio or cassette background music, and be told over and over....'NO'.

I can then remember the magical day when the security guys said....well....you can have piped in radio music.  It was like a year later.....oh, yeah, we can allow you to have CD's played.  Then a year later, the base woke up to realize their router system was made to some degree to have network channels running.  Then I woke up one day to have my boss entertaining the idea of buying a big-screen TV for the office.  All within a short five or six year period....the technology came.

As for this 'Fox News Syndrome' that Ms Winner has?  How would you handle this?  Watch enough 'CNN TV' to get it out of your system, but then your office-buddy tells you that they have 'CNN Syndrome' now? 

Frankly, after looking at the fragile condition of Ms Winner....you have to wonder....would we be better off to dump all the radio, and TV business, and go back to the way it was in 1988?  Maybe dump free internet access, Facebook access in the workplace, and eliminate problems ahead of time?

As for Ms Winner?  I'm of the mind that she'll end up with twenty-odd years of prison time and likely leave prison by age forty-five.  The good thing about prison life?  Well....you don't need to worry about TV news, cable connections, or Fox.  Life is pretty simple and you get into routine after six months. 

All This Social Platform Business

I sat and pondered last night over a topic which circles around the NFL and this social platform discussion going on.  And I have this odd feeling.

Right now....we are watching players, coaches and owner kneeling....mostly over racial injustice, racism, or BLM-topics.  Everyone is hyped up....either for or against the use of the National Anthem as some 'tool'.

But what if you didn't really end with this one single topic?

What if some folks felt that their social platform topic....some Nazi-like theme....needed to be discussed at the NFL game with the National Anthem playing....and fans (maybe a player or two) did a Nazi-salute?

What if some folks wanted a pro-Leprechaun social platform topic, and just launched into a Irish dance as the National Anthem started playing?

What if some climate change enthusiasts wanted a climate change social platform topic, and just held both arms stretched out....as if 'pushing back' while the National Anthem started to play?

What if women at the stadium squatted....in a protest to all the NFL players who batter their wives and girlfriends....while the National Anthem started to play?

What if men held the middle-finger salute up....to protest pro-women feminist agendas....while the National Anthem started to play?

What if three-hundred male college students would show up and pull their shirts off as the National Anthem started up....to protest higher tuition costs?  What if three-hundred female college students removed their tops at the same time (topless)....to also protest higher tuition costs?

Not to encourage anyone, but if you start to think about what the NFL has done....it's opened this Pandora's Box.  You could have eight-thousand Green Bay fans show up in arctic-like conditions and the vast majority in some provocative maneuver during the National Anthem, and the sports team spends thirty minutes analyzing the various positions, themes, and social agendas.....to explain to the poor sports fan all of the various groups and their agendas. 

Is that really necessary? 

I can sit now and imagine forty thousand fans at some stadium this Sunday....angry at the NFL, the teams on the field, and the coaches....then raising their middle-finger in the air while the National Anthem plays and the camera crews trying desperately to avoid any scene where the cameras would show the 40,000 fans in this profound moment....making their own social platform statement. 

The Reality of Safe Spaces

As a kid, I grew up 'under-privileged'. You only had one single 'safe-space' to go to.....the barn. 

You'd typically enter the safe-space of the barn and have utter quietness to relieve you of your stress. The landscape within the barn?  Typically 1800s-like scenic charm.  There was a single light installed, for night-time safe-space requirements....if you desired.  A bale of hay lay there for you sit and get over your anxiety or stress.  Typically, between the hay smell, and manure scent of the barn....you got over your anxiety in a matter of twelve minutes (in July, eight minutes was max).

As I look at these college teens with their stress issues and the need for 'safe-spaces'....I tend to think of the barn and how it'd easily solve the torment in the minds of these kids.

I was reading today on some episode which had developed in the last week or two at Reed College...a private university near Portland, Oregon.  It's not a place where you'd typically go (tuition with room/board is near $61,000 a year).

Reed College has an odd requirement....you need to take western humanities as part of their program.  This is mostly a semester where you sit and hear a lecture on Socrates, Plato, the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Roman Empire, etc. 

The kids got all hyped up....disturbed...over the lecture business.  In affect, they were falling apart and some needed physiological counseling (so they claim, but I have my doubts).  Their chief complaint?  After you read through everything, they just didn't like all this hype over a bunch of old white guys like Aristotle or Shakespeare.  They were at the point of having panic-attacks. 

Being all bothered and hyped up?  You get that idea.  Course, they don't have enough barn-like space for safe-space demanding folks.  My brother would likely suggest that someone needs to wheel up some hay-wagon with a few bales on it and have a cooler of Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) offered up with some Earl Scruggs or John Hartford banjo music in the background.  Thirty minutes on the hay-trailer would return inner-peace to the disturbed students.....well, in my mind anyway.  But you'd probably need forty thousand of these hay wagons across America, to make this work.

There seems to be an awful lot of students who either aren't capable of handling reality, or they are super-smart, thus deserving of a degree with no real study required (they could actually teach the professors/instructors). 

On the Topic of Escalators

As a kid from the rural landscape of Alabama, I always had this fascination with escalators.  I was probably 12 or 13 years old when I 'rode' my first one.  In the period of 1978/1979 while in Frankfurt, I rode dozens.

For me, this was a mechanical curiosity.  You'd stand and admire the weight on one escalator and what amount of power it took to lift sixteen people to some second floor.  Then you'd admire the dependability and the fact that they rarely broke down.  You'd also reach a point where you wondered about the safety involved and the dangers.

While living in the DC area around 2010 to 2013....we had the episode where the escalator 'broke' and went into maximum turbo on the way down....literally throwing folks off down at the bottom. The escalator mechanics swore up and down....this was supposed to be impossible to occur.

For a long while, the longest escalator that I'd ever ridden was in a subway station in Munich....taking roughly 90 seconds to reach the ground surface.  Then I came to DC and rode the Wheaton Station escalator....which takes roughly two minutes to ride to the top (around 250 feet).  You can figure that that escalator was hauling a minimum of a 150 people in a rush-hour period, so there's a ton of 'power' to make this deliver.

I sat today and was reading up on the North Korean Pyongyang Metro system, and they have a single escalator there...where it can take almost four minutes to ride from the bottom to the top.  Figuring the load there?  Potentially, you might be talking about 500 Koreans riding on it in a rush-hour 'minute'.

If I were eighteen today?  I hate to admit it but out of the ten-thousand odd professions that I'd probably like to get into...would be the escalator technician work.  It's kinda like nursing....you'd be guaranteed work for the rest of your life.

So Who Did Pay for the BLM Facebook Ads?

It was a page three item today....but it kinda came out that Russians (not the government, but just plain civilian Russians)....oddly came to Facebook and bought ads for....BLM (Black Lives Matter).

It also got brought out that Facebook delayed on showing Congress the ads for a fair amount of time and then finally delivered them. 

Regions affected?  Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland.

So some folks looked over all the ads that were presented.  It's an odd thing....they don't really slam or support a candidate.  Yeah, that's a shocker.

What were they hyped on?  Topics.  Gun control, immigration, and BLM.

If you were a Democratic Senator and hoping for all kinds of material to hit on the evil Russians?  The evil Russians were picking the same topics that special agenda folks pick (the Soros crowd).  Yeah, you can't really talk much about this because it'll just make the agenda folks look bad as well.

Amount spent?  $100,000 says Facebook.  That's it.  Hillary Clinton spent $623 million, and the evil Russians spent about $100,000.  So are we saying that the Russians are better at campaigning with their lousy $100,000 than Hillary with $623 million?  It's a pretty crazy mixed-up world. 

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

The Iron Curtain: 2017

"We are headed towards a society which resembles, in many ways, Eastern Europe under communism. Where every aspect of your life was political. And you could not express a view that was contrary to the prevailing political view, and you were monitored. Except now the monitoring isn't necessarily being done by the government, it's being done by your co-workers who are going to out you on social media. It's just a very depressing direction we're heading, when every aspect of our life is put through these political litmus tests."

-- William A. Jacobson

I sat and read a piece today by Mr. Jacobson, which I think accurately described the type of environment that is starting to exist in America today.  It is a reconstructed society, which seems to look a lot like the old Eastern European society under the Soviet Union (before the Wall came down), which we referred to as the Iron Curtain.

In the old days....the Iron Curtain was this thin imaginary line that existed between east and west Europe.  On one side, you could pretty well say whatever you wanted, with various university groups attempting to hype the negativity of the open society, western values, the evilness of capitalism, and talking about the better lives which could be lived 'elsewhere'.  On the other side...you didn't voice anything unless you were pretty sure the individuals around you were 'safe' and wouldn't report you to the authorities.  People lived empty and gloomy lives in this atmosphere.  Marginal lives were lived because that was the only path to take.

Over the past week, I've gazed at the NFL business, and been somewhat amused.  The players, coaches and owners....want to put you to a litmus test.  Their view was that you would respect them for their behavior....that was really the only choice.  The idea of being a business and mixing politics into that business?  Never obvious....they seemed giddy about the whole act.

At some point, I sat and watched a two-minute commentary by a guy who said that the NFL and players were thinking that they were 'too-big-to-fail'.  It was like the bankers of 2008, and their great fall.

In this case, I tend to agree that unless something occurs in the next two weeks....I think the fan-base of the NFL probably has been terminated by at least one-third.  I sat and watched twenty-odd videos this morning of various people burning their NFL hats....their team flags....and even burning tickets for games remaining in this season.  It's obvious that this stroked a raw nerve with them.  Can the NFL survive without that third?  Go tally up the salary charts and incoming money.  It'll reach a stage in roughly 18 months where the union will go ballistic because the owners can't offer the same trend of salary....not to NCAA-incoming rookies, and not to the regular players.

But I go past that point.  When you look at a college campus and add up the politicization that exists today....would a parent be willing to put up $80,000 for four years of indoctrination?  Would a Iron Curtain-type education even be worth something after you graduate and go out into the real world?

The intellectual thugs and managers of commercial world who want this Iron Curtain environment?  This drags out various agenda and makes you wonder if you'd create a whole bunch of spies within an organization....reporting back on other spies....and people wasting one-third of their creativity and work-time on something with zero-value?

To have stood up five years ago and suggested that we'd be entering some Iron Curtain-like stage in America....I would laughed.  Today?  It's not that weird of an idea.  The sad thing is....we are trying to convince ourselves that we really desire such an environment.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

How I See This NFL 'Script' Being Played Out

First, let me note that I've more or less in the last five years.....gone to zero NFL games watched.  In the 2010 to 2012 period....yeah, I probably watched a total of twelve games a season.  As for fan paraphernalia?  Other than a Braves shirt in the 1980s and a Braves hat in the 1990s....nothing else in my life.  And I've never been to an actual NFL game....ever.  Nor would I imagine myself paying $100 for a ticket.

By late November, an emergency meeting is held secretly by the owners and NFL management crowd.  The TV folks say one-third loss on viewers and discounted advertisements are occurring.  The normal $3.5 billion check for the season?  They step around the topic but will admit it'll be closer to $2.5 billion for this season.  Talk over future contracts with TV units?  Really screwed up and no one from the NFL wants to talk about it.  The fan paraphernalia expert says Christmas sales will be lagging and there might be a 50-percent cut on profits.  Ticket sales?  All bright.  Chief reason?  Most all tickets were sold in the summer period, way ahead of the first week.  Some teams have 100,000 tickets that were left and didn't sell in September, October or November.  The chief worry by the NFL?  The playoff game tickets and viewers.

By late January 2018, the playoff game tickets are deemed a success...although they sold over 100,000 tickets at 50-percent discount.  They had full stadiums and that's all that mattered.  Viewership in the playoff? Figured to be 30-to-40 percent from normal numbers....discount advertising occurred.

By late February 2018, the Super Bowl is deemed a success.  Full stadium.   Fan paraphernalia is deemed as massive failure.  T-shirts won't sell and truckloads were taken to garbage dumps to be quietly buried instead of sold at 75-percent discount.  Viewership is reported to be 60-percent of the 2016 Super Bowl.

By April 2018, General Managers meet and discuss contracts.  Long term contracts are more or less dumped.  No one wants to write a normal long-term deal.  The NFL draft?  The NCAA players are shocked because the amount of money talked about is twenty-percent less than last season.

By July 2018, three NFL owners are putting their teams up for sale.

By September 2018, the kneeing continues.  Ticket sales were slow in the summer and half the teams have over discounted their tickets by 10-percent.  Tickets are now occasionally being sold with three beers as part of the deal.

By October 2018, six games are played on one weekend with half the seats in the stadiums empty.  Teams are attempting to give away tickets to teens in the local areas....to fill the seats.

By November 2018, Fan paraphernalia is down to 40-percent of the normal sales level.  Some leather jackets are being sold at cost, with almost no profit for the team.  Owners meet.  There's a fear that their typical profit margin is affected now.  The TV folks talk of a $1.8-billion payoff.  Talks over better deals in the future are a lost cause.  The union wants a full-up meeting to talk about how things can be fixed.

By January 2019, the playoffs are seen as a thing of doom.  Tickets are sold at 60-percent normal playoff value.  Some sports bars are now talking about soccer and fan appreciation of the sport.

By March 2019, the Super Bowl is deemed a success....having filled the stadium.  Fifty-five percent of the normal viewers are noted and agents are now talking to players about a possible 10-percent cut across the board, and no contracts to be written for more than one single year.

By April 2019, NCAA draft episode is a major disappointment.  Offerings are 60-percent of what they were in 2016.

By August 2019, there's talk that five teams are openly discussing six-game ticket options for sale....with a full-price on two, and 50-percent price on the rest, with a discount on a leather jacket.  Some owners are worried over the fact that Trump will win the 2020 election and they won't be able to survive financially over another four-year period.

By January 2020, owners now meet and discuss the idea of cutting salaries across the board....by 40-percent.  The union says no.  A strike looms.  NFL owners don't care.  Strike starts by summer of 2020.  There is no season for 2020.

By March 2021, several NFL owners make a last pitch.  The union thinks they are bluffing.  The NFL is declared dead officially by November 2021.  Players are at a loss to explain plan B.  The networks have shifted to soccer.  And NCAA football is openly discussed as being finished....unable to show any reason to continue on past the 2021 season.

Why I Dislike Intellectuals

I sat and read through an essay piece today...centered on a piece from Wattsupwiththat.com.  They tend to do pieces on climate change or the lack of climate change.

This piece had to do with a National Public Radio writer and psychologist....Lisa Feldman Barrett.  Ms Barrett wrote up a piece that centered on this idea....that most of the logic that people use for not caring about climate change....is that the majority of people can’t imagine what 120 degrees F is about.  If you just dragged them out to Death Valley or Tucson, Arizona....in July....then they'd wise up and get proactive on climate change.

It's a good article and worth the read.  The guy writing it....Eric Worrall....tries to be nice about the naive nature of Ms Barrett....but it's obvious that she's bound and tied up with intellectualism and can't see the whole nature of her argument.

The wonderful thing about NPR is that they sit there and drag out intellectuals day after day....doing their best to convince you of X, Y and Z.  If you just went with the smart folks.....you'd be with the winning team.  After a while with the smart folks....sadly, you reach a stage where you begin to ask stupid questions....which most of the intellectuals don't like because you were supposed to just go along with the script.

Over the past twenty-odd years....I've come to various moments when a somewhat clever individual or insightful intellectual wants to introduce some new logic or variation on an idea.  What they present....in their mind....is a open-and-shut case.  It's obvious that they've spent a minimum amount of time and research effort on the topic....they just want you to tie yourself onto their agenda and be happy.  In my case....sadly, I'm a skeptic.  I ask questions.  If things seem too marvelous....I tend to ask why is this such an easy discussion.

In this case, I've been to Tucson, Arizona.  I was there in the early 1990s.  I can actually state that I stood there on a August afternoon at 4 PM....with the temperature near 117 degrees F.  You really don't know how wonderful 110 degrees F feels against 117 degrees F.  Yes, seven degree less, and it feels like the AC unit got turned on for a brief three seconds.

As for this convincing me of climate change?  No.  It would convince me that shade is something to appreciate and that ice water is a wonderful thing....but beyond that....no, feeling heat or cold doesn't change much of anything for me.

But let me add one thing.  If this logic made sense....then living around a hog-farm for twenty years would me very acceptable to some pretty stinky smells.  Or hanging around a nudist resort would get me used to normal regular nudity.  Or hanging around nutcases would make me likely to accept them as wise people.  Or listening to hours and hours of rap music....well, you know.  You just kinda wonder....what kind of college atmosphere she attended and how they convinced of this type of thought process.

The sad thing is that NPR will bring this intellectual back in two months and she'll deliver another plea for you to just accept things.

The NFL Pyramid

I sat and looked at the salary structure of the Chicago Bears today...with all this hype going on with kneeing and politicization.

The salary cap for the team is roughly 150-million (using the numbers from Sportrac).  Forty players in the mix.

With just the three quarterbacks and past quarterbacks with pay deals in the works....there's around 21-million per year in the balance.  Glennon alone...makes $14-million a year.  Trubisky (the number one back-up guy)....pulls in $5-million a year.  Sanchez, as the number two quarterback on the bench and rarely ever used....makes almost $2-million a year (mostly just for showing up and staying active on the plays).

Nine of the players draw in the $120,000 range.  Twenty-four players make in the $400,000 to $800,000 range.  The rest all make one-million dollars or more per year.

There's almost nine-million a year paid to people who either no longer play professional football, or have been let go by the team.

You gaze over the numbers and just shake your head.  Long gone are the guys who made an income related to the average middle-class worker in America.  Even if a guy is making $400k a season...with a six to eight year span of NFL action....they will top more than two million dollars.  The average American will never see that type of salary gain over forty years of his life.

It is a game played by millionaires, coached by millionaires, led by millionaire general manager, and impacted by owners who are millionaires who were crazy enough to be talked into paying a fantastic franchise price by the NFL leadership, who are all millionaires.  The networks hype the game in hopes of making millions and turning themselves all into millionaires.  The journalists provide minute-by-minute analysis in hopes of reaching the millionaire level themselves.  Who pays for the pyramid scheme?  You...the little guy....the common worker.

Through TV participate over fifty years of your life...probably influence over $5,000 through products used for NFL advertising (cars, chips, dip, etc).  Through fan paraphernalia?  That Chinese-made Green Bay Packers leather jacket?  $500.  The t-shirts and decals?  The $131 you spent on the Chicago Bears game last weekend?  It all leads to a pyramid scheme, with millionaires all playing around....some marginally....some better than others.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Politicization: A New World Order

It used to be that you could wander through an airport and not feel politicization. Today?  You'd feel it.

It used to be that you could go for a haircut down at the local barbershop and not feel politicization.  Today?  The barbers will be talking politics and hyping this agenda or that policy, or have the TV set to such-and-such network.

It used to be that you could attend church without feeling any politicization.  Today?  The minister will quietly hype up such-and-such agenda, and some deacon will come over after service to invite you to a special coffee meeting where positions will be laid out on localized voting.

It used to be that you could to to a dentist, and have a good cleaning done....without feeling any politicization.  Today?  There's a fifty-fifty chance that some idiot dentist will harp on such-and-such political position while he's checking your teeth.

It used to be that you could attend a funeral for a neighbor who departed this Earth....without feeling any politicization.  Today?  You have to worry about the minister talking up the dearly departed and some political agenda....or you have to worry about six folks wanting your position on tax reform while chatting about Bob's list of sins before passing.

It used to be that you could watch NFL football, without feeling any politicization.  Today?  Once the national anthem starts up.....you feel some agenda going on.

It used to be that you could attend some family reunion or Thanksgiving dinner without feeling any politicization.  Today?

It used to be that you could marry someone and feel kinda sure about their lack of political hyped nature.  Today?  Both your wife, and your Friday-night liaison gal.....might be anti-Trump folks.

The list goes on and on.  Your landscaper, your hairdresser, your mechanic, your muffler guy.....all might be politicized.

Where does that really leave you?

NFL and the Fake Economy

I sat and looked up the average cost of a Chicago Bears ticket...$131 for 2016.  For the Green Bay Packers, it's $94.

So you figure the ticket....a car-ride into a parking lot next to the stadium with your buddy.  The cost of the parking lot?  $20.

Then you figure the beer for the game.....the food....the fan-sweat-shirts....etc.  You will spend near $230 by the time you figure fuel.  If you and your buddy stayed overnight in Chicago....toss on another $180.  That's a minimum of $400 for that game attendance.

All of this goes into some pot of revenue.  At the stadium itself....you tossed the $230 into their pot.  Some of it goes to the peanut guy....or the beer lady.  Some of it goes to the rest-room clean-up crew.  Some goes to the security folks. Some goes to the stadium construction bond deal.  Some goes to the Chicago Bears owners.  And some goes to the forty-odd players and their fifty-million in player salaries.

Are the Bears worth the forty-million in player salaries?  Last year, they won three....and lost thirteen.  Most people would argue that they could have done the same number of wins with a ten-million dollar salary limit....mostly with rookies.

So you start to look across the NFL.  Thirty-two teams.  Close to a billion in salaries.

Is this a fake economy?

At some point, people will wake up and ask some questions.

If you put the Chicago Bears up on a CBS Sunday viewing....the network needs to make X-amount of money to make this deal with the NFL worth the effort.  Profit is discussed. The teams need a take on the contract.  Forbes says that the NFL makes around $3.5 billion off it's TV contract....which is shared down to each team.

As long as the TV contract continues on, and the bulk of fans are willing to pay $130 for a Chicago Bears ticket.....this economy would make sense.

If the TV audience drifts away?  Let's say that 33-percent of the fans say adios and won't watch.  That means that the NFL would only take around $2.5-billion of the TV revenue.  Let's say that the Bears can only fill sixty-percent of the majority of their home-games.  At some point, the owner has to turn and face the $50 million in salaries pro year, and suggest a ten-percent cut.

TV sports analysts will laugh and say that this will never occur.  I suspect that six months later....the ten-percent cut will be evident throughout the whole league.

So the economy of this whole gimmick?  You have to wonder then....is the NFL economy really that stable?  Let's say a second year passes, and another ten-percent cut occurs.  By this point....a typical Chicago Bears ticket will be down to $100 (instead of the $131).  We start to reach a point where we discuss this entire business approach and the NFL economy.  Are the Bears really worth $1.09 billion?  No.  They probably aren't worth that.....except by the Forbes imaginary value assigned for something that has no concrete reason to be worth $1 billion.

Now, you start to get to an interesting thought....is the total value of the NFL league at $30 billion?  Well....no.  You begin to view snowball simulations and realize that we've valued things in a false way for over forty years.  There's nothing on paper that really says in a concrete way that the Bears are worth a billion.  It's just an imaginary situation.

That should worry to some degree....how far we've come in a capitalist society....putting a billion-value on forty guys who probably can't win more than three games out of sixteen.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

The NFL Solution

It finally occurred to me....what needs to happen is to get 15,000 fans into a NFL stadium and when the knee-action occurs with the National Anthem....let the song end....then launch the 15,000 fans into a two hour singing event....singing the Anthem over, and over, and over, and over.

The Madonna Story

Back in the late 1970s....I was one of those people who'd buy an album about every two weeks.  I had a particular taste....or style, you could say. In the early 1990s.....I shifted to CDs and continued that habit for a while.

About twelve years ago, I just said....'that's it'.  There's just not that much great music being produced.  The day has ended when you had some group like Fleetwood Mac who'd go and produce a seven-hit album.  These days, you end up with some group who produce one single hit, and mix in two marginal hits.....with eight lousy songs of no value.

I sat this morning and read a piece over a new CD produced for Madonna.  It's a live-concert album that got released about a week ago.  In the old days, this would have sold 200,000 copies in a week..  In this case?  The “Rebel Heart” album sold between 3,800 and 4,000 CDs/downloads total.

You can go and figure the return on this.  Depending on the deal between Madonna and the company.....I doubt if profit off this deal rakes in more than $100,000.

Is Madonna finished?  It would be an interesting question to ask.  Maybe in New York City....she could still draw 15,000 fans into an arena.  In areas like Atlanta or Orlando?  I doubt if she'd pull more than 1,500 folks into an arena.  Even if she was a permanent Vegas act.....it's hard to say if people would regularly show up.

But this goes to what has developed over the past twenty years....that marginal groups and singers just aren't drawing that much interest anymore.  Because of social media....the internet....I don't see people willing to pull $15 for a musical CD.  Nor will you find that many people willing to throw $40 for a concert ticket..  The industry?  It's in a forced state of evolution.

A Dying Product

At some point in the 1990s.....I sat and looked at some news article hyping up the growing salary structure of NFL players.  The league itself was making tons of money.  It came off fans paying $60 for a prime seat, $75 for a jersey, $7 for a beer, $20 to park your car, etc.  Viewers brought in advertising revenue, and the TV networks were willing to pay hundreds of millions per season for the 'product'.  It was an unbeatable profit-machine.

As you started to look around....this 'mania-like' problem had begun to develop (maybe going back to the 1970s).

You had wannabe-professional athletes sitting in high schools and trying to hype their skills to get the right school to hire them for their team.  Upon arrival at college, the hype continued on...to get to great numbers....which meant a chance at the NFL draft.  Then you got the 'real' money.  You were looking at some 22-year old guy getting a million per year.  Some could handle the part of the pressure....but the money made individuals into something they weren't before.  In a sense, because of TV and their money-situation.....they were classifying themselves as Hollywood-elite....playing NFL football.

The same problem was occurring with the NBA and their 300-odd players.  To a lesser degree, the issue was evolving with major-league baseball as well.

Around a decade ago, you could sense that social causes and political fragility were growing across major sports, and there was to be some volcanic-like eruption to occur sooner or later.  Well....with the knee business and commentary via social media....we've reached that stage this weekend.  The President looked at the Stephen Curry comment on the White House invitation....then decided enough....you don't need to think about the invitation....it's rescinded.

The thing is.....this whole thing with Curry and a bunch of Hollywood-pretender elites have hit a point where a fair sum of the American public is fed up.  They are tired of the $75 tickets.  They are tired of paying $25 to park their car for four hours at some stadium.  They are fed up with the league leadership and gimmicks invented in the past decade.  They are tired of the social-cause commentary that goes against their political view.

All of this leads to one simple fact.....people don't understand their 'product'.

If you make one 'product'.....it needs to be simple, pure and attractive.  If you make it unattractive to 40-percent of the public....they won't buy your product.  If you decide that your product has to have politics written into product.....well....it's not pure anymore, or simple.

On the Stephen Curry episode....the Warriors and the NBA have a problem.  The NBA season starts in roughly three weeks, and while game one might already be a sell-out for the Warriors....as you start to get to game six....there will be open seats, and by early December, I would expect some games will have 15-percent of the seats unsold.  Viewership for the NBA?  Likely to be down.  The networks aren't going to make as much and they will huddle with the NBA to discuss some recovery position.

Privately, the NBA and the networks will get around to saying that they really don't need the Warriors to make it into the finals for 2018 because people won't watch the games.

All of the sports folks are sitting now and wondering how they got to this point, and how they can shut down the social media antics of the players.

Some will suggest that by 2021, with President Trump gone....all the bad stuff will disappear and the Hollywood-elite sports stars will return to full power.  There are others who suggest Trump will be around for eight years and both the NFL and NBA might have to downsize to survive this period. The sad thing is....they all had a product and only needed to focus on that product.

McCain and Healthcare

After watching the three GOP attempts to pass some reform to the healthcare system for 2018....I've come to three observations after the massive failures of this year:

1.  You basically have two choices....wait for Senator John McCain to pass away, or wait until the Senate election period of 2018 and the likely arrival after that of two to three additional GOP members...meaning McCain's value is then zero.

2.  You could go and ask McCain to write the draft replacement bill for the GOP....but my guess is that he will grin and say it's not up to him.  He has no idea what it should look like....just that you can't allow a change to occur with President Trump in charge.

3.  You come to this odd situation with the news media.  They all want McCain to come in and give them that beefy 12-minute interview and have some national appeal.  To be honest....the more you hear McCain talk now....the more foolish that he looks.  He's not an asset to Arizona, the Senate, the GOP, or the news media.

What happens in mid-summer 2018....if McCain is still around?  There's another price-increase period, and I suspect a number of folks will wake up in July of 2018.....finding a 25-to-40 percent increase and just say 'enough'.....they can't afford the premium and deductible required.  All of the Senate will be in a harsh position because of McCain's position in 2017 and it'll twist the campaign for Senate seats into a 'throw-the-bums-out' situation. McCain will spend hours and hours on public forum TV situations.....hyping up 'we-need-to-fix-this' and everyone will laughing over his commentary and bogus act.


Friday, 22 September 2017

Fake Ad Story

For a couple of days, I've read the hype by Facebook over the evil Russians and their ad's during the US campaign last year.  They want to turn the information over to the special prosecutor....congress....and just about anyone who will talk about the evil Russians.

I sat and pondered over this.

Back in January of this year....a couple of Stanford University professors wrapped up a study over fake news and social media usage.

They came to the conclusion that all this fake news....really wasn't read much by readers via social media.  They even discovered that only about fifteen percent of Americans get their news in some fashion....via social media (a shocker for Facebook).

Then they came to this odd factor.....folks don't really retain any information about these ad's or fake news items.  They do go and add a 'pound' of weight on future perception of people....but to say that the fake news items by the Russians did much....as compared to stupidity by Hillary herself, her news-handlers, or some guy just commenting about something at the local sports bar?

So you go back to Facebook and just wonder if we need to have some agency continually monitoring the ad situation on Facebook.....hour-by-hour and preventing people from advertising on social media.....mostly because people are too stupid to grasp propaganda.

Here's the thing....all of this might eventually bring up some stupid idea via the Senate that you need to have a commission that monitors all political advertisements in an election year....to prevent stupid people from reacting in some unusual way.  The potential title?  The Facebook Commission?

North Korea and the Duchy Story

Decades ago, probably around the age of sixteen....I was sitting around on a Sunday and they ran an odd movie called "The Mouse That Roared".  For some reason, the is etched into my mind, and often comes up when the North Korea and Nukes topic is discussed.

For those who don't remember the movie....a brief background.

The book used for the movie came out of 1955....by an Irish-American by the name of Leonard Wibberley.  He wrote mostly crime-fiction, kid-fiction, and poetry....but in the midst of the mid-1950s...he got into satirical novel writing and wrote a piece over the Cold War.

So this book to be used for the movie....was about this Duchy of Grand Fenwick.  It's an imaginary place....somewhere between France and Switzerland....no more than three by five miles.  It was mostly a failed economy situation....pre-industrial stage....much like North Korea today.  The only thing they made, which they proudly sold....was a wine.

Thanks to evil American capitalists....they figured out the way to make Fenwick wine....copying it....and selling it for less, thus destroying the economy of Fenwick.

One day, the prime minister says 'enough' and decides that only by declaring war, then surrendering....will they get something like the 'Marshall Plan'.

The war in his mind....will be brief and without much drama (no medals, no ceremonies, and no parades).

It's worth mentioning that their weapons collection is mostly bows and arrows from the 1700s.

There is a formal and well-written declaration of war....but the State Department with all of it's fine people....just file it in the records department without reading it.

There's an invasion within the movie....they walk into some Manhattan weapons lab, and accidentally discover the "Quadium Bomb".   The US freaks out over what's happened and offers up some deal to make the Duchy all happy....with 'free' American money.

The bomb-part of the story?  Well....as the Einstein-like inventor tells at the end....it was a dud.  He didn't think it was wise to build such a bomb.

In a way, North Korea is stuck into a cycle like the Duchy.  The economical world since the mid-1950s has passed them and there are a country without much of anything to export.  For all the talk that Kim ("Rocketman") does....it only works because of the mass media, and this "Quadium Bomb" threat (mostly with nuke bombs he says they have and these rocket tests).  In a way, Kim needs the country to emerge move into the industrialized era.

Oddly, Leonard Wibberley wrote three additional books on the Duchy.  One on their attempt to enter the race to the moon....a second on their escapes on handling Wall Street....and the last on the world's energy problem (solved by the Duchy of course).

This is probably why I don't really take all this hype on North Korea very serious.  I remember the movie, and the conclusion.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Unique Business Idea

A couple of weeks ago, I spent some time in Den Haag.

Walking around the streets, I eventually came across this one business.

It's a combination vintage guitar shop and tattoo-piercing shop.

It's an odd combination.  Kinda like a chainsaw-and-muffin shop, or a fishing bait-and-barber shop.

Course, I should note that across the street is a Dutch coffee shop (meaning....joints or marijuana).  My guess is that the guy started off as one type of business, and after a while....he chilled out....going to a secondary business.

When Does a Comedian Cease To Exist?

Back in the 1970s....there were dozens of comedians who came into the living room weekly via TV, and delivered a four-star performance.  Redd Foxx, Don Rickles, Richard Pryor, and Johnny Carson.  They never jumped into the middle of some social discussion, political talk, or lifestyle sermon talk.

I think all of that type of comedy survived through to the 1990s.  At some point, you'd come to notice a handful of comedians who wanted to be 'ministers' in some way, or society leaders.  You would start to notice viewers hitting the mute button or finding other nightly options to watch.

I noticed this week where Jimmy Kimmel getting into a political fight of sorts.  For ABC and the late-night show....there's not much to worry about because most of the angry-type viewers are watching his show in the first place.  In fact, that's one of the interesting things about late-night TV, when you come it against the 1970s.  In the 1970s....you had few options....today?  There's at least forty potential networks to watch....out of which you could catch some episode of Gunsmoke or Gilligan's Island if you desired.

But as you start to shift around....there are dozens of comedians now with agendas and social fights on their hands.  None seem to worry about tomorrow or the next year in terms of viewers or public interest.

I see the same problem with the NFL.  No one seems to worry about viewers leaving or the payscale ever decreasing.

What happens to a 28-year old running back who has some public social fight on their mind and no owner wants them on the team?  They have to source out plan-B.  That typically means taking a $300,000 pay-cut.

What happens to a 40-year old comedian who has some public social fight on their mind and limited viewers?  They will eventually have to find a plan-B, and accepting a 50-percent pay-cut.  The acts in Vegas?  Well....half of those audiences were right-wing or conservative.....so it's unlikely big-bucks will come to be offered for a six-week show at such-and-such casino.

I don't want to condemn these people....but if you hit big-time by age 45, and you've lost half your fan base by age 50....what does it say over your humor, or your ability to entertain?  Were you really a comedian....or did you just have a fleeting moment where you lost it all?

So what does a out-of-work comedian do at age fifty?  Tend bar?  Sell tires?  Do the Channel Nine weather?

Whitewater Again

There is a push to unseal the indictment against Hillary Clinton....back on the Whitewater episode.  It's an amusing thing to bring this back up and what might be sitting in the legal paperwork that was never finalized.

All that ever comes out of this Whitewater discussion is a couple of marginally competent political players and wannabe-bank empire idiots....got into a joint deal to buy some overpriced rural property in Flippin, Arkansas (about 130 miles north of Little Rock). The site was near the Buffalo National River Park, which has thousands come in yearly for camping and recreation.

The concept to the Whitewater project was to break up this 230 acre tract of property near the White River, and sell it as upscale cabin property for visitors (there’s no major airport nearby so you’d have to drive in for the most part).

At this point in the 1975-to-1979 period....folks were starting a recreational phase....where they wanted a little bit of civilization and a bit of the Ozark wilderness.  It could be rough....but only marginally rough.

Flippin?  It's a town in north Arkansas with a population of around 1,300 residents.  Back in 1975, they would have had around 850 folks living in the local area.  There's two US highways that transit the area....no interstate.  The nearness to the national park?  It's about ten miles to the south.  Major urban areas?  Springfield, Missouri is about an hour's drive away.

While the strategy had some merit....it was built upon the idea that you needed to buy the property and wait. There’s a variety of talk over the waiting period...some people think they needed at least five years....some would speculate that a dozen years were minimum on what’d it take to turn this property into profit. In this case, two issues popped up.

The first was the timing. In the latter part of 1977...interest rates were at a decent level and people were attracted to long-term investments like this, and the idea of buying an acre of property for vacation properties. Oddly...about 15 months after the purchase by the joint Clinton-McDougal team...interest rates had done a hefty gain, and made the purchase deal into a mess, and no buyers were coming in for the small-tract purchases.

The second issue was the Clinton need to turn a profit in a short period of time. This $203k that the joint team put down on the property...would today be worth around $900k. For Bill and Hillary...this long drawn-out wait with a substantial amount of their savings was a major problem. For McDougal....they really didn’t have the money to keep up interest payments.

On ranking risky investment options...I suspect most people would say that this was a ‘8’ on a scale of one to ten, and would only have worked if they’d sat on the property for twenty-plus years...something that neither party were capable of doing.

As for criminal behavior? Most of this comes from another McDougal project (without Hillary or Bill involved) in the 1985 era (the Casa Grande episode). In this situation...illegal bank loans were worked up and allowed McDougal to run another land speculation scheme....this one being much closer to Little Rock and had a lesser risk factor. The bank audit laid out the illegal loan, and investigators looked back at the Clintons to see if the same pattern had been used then....which for the most part...could not be proven.

The only shocker now if this draft indictment were unsealed....is IF some evidence showed another illegal loan used in some fashion, with Bill or Hillary signing it. Since the property purchase for Whitewater was $203k (the 1979 price)...one has to wonder if there was some second loan used in the down-payment process with fraudulent data.  No one has ever suggested this occurred, and that the money 'lost'....was purely their money and McDougal's cash.

Bringing this all to an end?  An end to what?  A bad land speculation deal that never paid off?

It would be different if you came up and laid out that these sixty-odd lots were all bought by 'friends-of-Bill' for inflated prices (100-percent over the original purchase price).  It doesn't appear that this really occurred.  Maybe there's something in the draft package which will show a dozen folks came and bought a dozen lots way beyond the value....like $40k for a 2.5-acre lot.  I'll reserve judgement until the smoke clears on this one.

If You 'Content' It, They will Come

 “Today, you can create content, gain the audience, build the bots, pick out the election and even the voters that are valued the most in swing states and actually insert the right content in a deliberate period.”

-- Clint Watts, counter-terrorism expert and former FBI agent back in the spring of 2017 in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

This comment came to revolve around the dangers facing the Electoral College and how it might be destabilized.

Actually, you could have said this for the fall of 1789, in describing the first election of the United States, and then repeated it for every single election since that point.

You find a candidate....a platform....a group of 'talkers'....hype up political theatrics....and swing voters from one wild side to the other.  It's done at the local level, the regional level, the state level, and the national level.  Both liberals and conservatives are guilty of the action. Somewhere in the middle, you've got lobbyists, agenda-provocateurs, snowflakes, lives-matter pretenders, religious fakes, and moralists-on-some-righteous-campaign....all working on creating 'content'.  Even 12-year old kids will be dragged out to Senate hearings to insert content and flip an audience.

The idea that the evil Russians are behind this?  They are simply one single group out of 10,000.  Go ponder that for a while.

On Financial Literacy

Fortune magazine went out and did a fine article on the idea of financial literacy.  They came to study the sad state of affairs in America and then said it in a clear way.....roughly two-thirds of Americans simply don't have the knowledge to pass a basic finance literacy test.

When I finished high school, I reflected upon all the knowledge dished out...particularly in math....over twelve years, and I thought it was mostly all worthless.  They weren't able to put the math concepts into some process where it meant something.

I don't think this situation that Fortune describes is just a recent problem.  You can go back to the 1960s and find roughly the same group of people (I think) who were short-changed on this type of knowledge.

Fixing this?  You'd have to go the text-book writers and convince them to alter the whole scheme of math knowledge and build all kinds simplistic exercises into the daily lesson plan.

On Con Jobs

The comment....."You Know You’re Being Conned, Right?" came up in a news item this morning.  The comedian-philosopher Bill Maher used this comment to a guy who claimed he was a Trump-supporter.

I sat and pondered over the quote for a while.  Then I came to this conclusion.

The problem here, which Maher may not realize....is that folks have been conned for generations.

Folks have been conned by both the Republican and Democratic Parties.  Folks have been conned by banks, loan-sharks, and car companies.  Folks have been conned by major league baseball, the NFL, professional wrestling, and the NCAA football system.  Folks have been conned by TV news, the Washington Post, the NY Times, and CNN.  Folks have been conned by their local minister, the witty Today Show hosts, and their local mayor.

Most folks have been conned so much....that they enjoy a fake episode of Amish Mafia, because they know it's an absolute con-job.

Maher can go and talk over this for hours, but the plain fact is that folks got used to con jobs, and they finally saw a chance to send a counter con-job back at the politicians, the journalists, and Washington DC.

And here is the curious thing.....I don't think Trump is the last of the counter-con-job enthusiasts.  I think he simply opened up the door and there might be a few folks entering the system.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

What If Bernie Never Existed?

I read a piece today that discussed the idea over a scenario where Bernie decided not to run for the Presidency in 2016.

Basically, it would have left Hillary with two Democrats.....who had no real appeal and the whole Democratic primary would have been mostly a joke.  Hillary would have spent very little....toured probably only twenty of the fifty states....and walked into the Convention with a forty-minute speech.
Hillary-hype for the remainder of 2016?  I would take a guess it would have been marginal at best.  A third of Democratic voters would have just felt no passion for the campaign, and likely stayed home on election day.

In a sense.....the DNC needed Bernie to come out, and deliver a Paul Newman-like performance....driving up the passion....and getting peopled hyped over 'something'.  Hilary...the DNC....and the party elite....needed Bernie to deliver.

The problem is....Bernie started to believe his speeches....his passion....and the public attention.  In the end....Bernie became a boat-anchor which Hillary could not grasp or utilize.

We now move onto the 'year-after', and view the Bernie affect in various ways.  It's like a battle-scar....you rub it and feel a twinge....like things could have go a different way if this had been a Bernie versus Trump election.

I think in four years...some guy is going to come out and present a book called: 'President Bernie' and talk at length about how Bernie would have handled everything....fixed the healthcare system....balanced the budget....and rebuilt the government.  Hillary will sit there and grit her teeth over the book, and journalists will spend weeks talking about a President Bernie scenario.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

On the Question of Hippies

My brother brought up this topic of 'where the hippies of the 1960s are' in a conversation.  It was centered on where the hippies went off to....where they retired....etc.

I sat and pondered over this.  I finished high school in the mid-1970s....when the hippy era was closing out.  Course, I lived in Alabama, and would readily admit in the whole state in 1977....there probably weren't more than 2,000 total hippies.  Some were real hippies....meaning they smoked marijuana daily....listened to Iron Butterfly, Arlo Guthrie, Neil Young, and Jefferson Airplane....sipped weird cocktails made up of rum, prune juice and lemon juice....and would often take off to San Francisco for some unknown festival which they'd talk about for weeks.  Oddly, most drove VW vehicles, always seemed to be borrowing money, and had badly stained teeth (mostly from a lack of brushing habit).

Some were fake hippies...meaning that they mostly just smoked marijuana, skipped baths for five or six days at a time, and generally refused to work.  

The attempt by The Seventies Show to use the character Leo....to explain this era and the pot connection probably made more sense than most people think.  I think a lot of folks from that era....just drifted around mentally and ended up cleaning up their act at some point.

Where did the hippies go?  I suspect that 90-percent of them ended up in California.  They stood there working in Blockbuster shops in the 1980s and 1990s.  They worked their way up to team-leader level of pizza shops.  They found landscaper jobs or got into artsy work.

These were folks who talked excessively about the album Incense and Peppermints by Strawberry Alarm Clock.  They explained the intriguing details of the Zombies album She’s Not There.  They memorized every line of the four Billy Jack movies....detailing scene by scene analysis.

They will tell you all about the 1967 movie....The Happening, which probably hasn't been on TV in forty years.  Delmonico....the mafia character....played by Anthony Quinn....ends up being this hippy-hero of sorts.

From the 2,000-odd hippies of 1975 from Alabama?  I doubt if more than four dozen exist today in the state.  Most of them probably went through some religious rehab program....got college....and ended up being regular people.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Moore-Strange Event

This Thursday evening in Alabama.....Judge Moore and Senator Luther Strange will appear on a stage for a debate.....a one-of-a-kind-no-moderator type of debate.  It's the chance to hear both speak....for the primary episode to reach the election between the two....and a Democrat challenger.

The two have a reputation.  Luther Strange is noted by a fair number of Alabama folks as being corrupted or connected former Governor Bentley.  Judge Moore?  He's been noted by a fair number of folks as being overly-religious and maybe just a bit 'dazed' (an Alabama term for someone who say something crazy on occasion).

On the dramatic front....Moore has probably more debate skills than Strange....maybe two to one.

How this will go? My scenario runs this way:

- Judge Moore will lead off with a condemning statement.....saying that Strange has sinned more than the normal guy.  Then as his last minute comes up....he'll lead off with a prayer to the good Lord to forgive Strange of his sins.

- Senator Strange will be standing there in a pained-look...trying to imagine some comeback, but he can't deliver.

- Judge Moore gets the next round and goes right back to condemning Strange.  Then praying for Strange again.

- At home, thousands of Alabama folks will be weeping away at the tactic.

- Then Senator Strange finally gets a vision.  He falls on his knees and starts some prayer asking for forgiveness....then notes that first-stone business in a glass house.....he who is without sin, etc.  Then he wraps it up with some badly mangled Deuteronomy quote....using the Old Testament to whack away at Moore.  Strange jumps up....does a laying-of-the-hands on some guy in the first row....healing them of something, and the guy runs out of the studio.

- At this point, Judge Moore is screwed.  There is no comeback.

- Folks sitting at home....wipe away their tears, and then go and call their minister....asking for an interpretation.  Ministers are dumbfounded over the episode.  In their mind, Senator Strange pulled out an ace and beat the Judge's judgement business.  Strange wins.....by eight-point spread.  Some will say the Trump-endorsement did it....some will say the praying did it....some will say the Old Testament effort did it.

The X-Class Truck

 I went off to the Frankfurt International Car Show today.  Lots of innovation and new trends.

So I turned a corner, and here is the new Mercedes pick-up.

It is a great vehicle.....lots of power....high quality seats that flip to six different settings or tilts.

The thing is....because of the cost....what guy would really want to go and put farm-like cargo in the rear?  Looking at the US market?  No doubt.

Then I came to this deal in the rear....a bike-transport rack.  It's hard to imagine any farmer getting some idea to haul bicycles around with this type truck.

Cost?  Way more than most folks would pay.

Maybe if you were a fake southerner with some high-class professional pay situation and just wanted a status symbol in your driveway to impress the neighbors....it'd make sense.

If I brought up with my brother...he'd go over the stats and be impressed with the power and look, but he'd give you ten reasons why he just couldn't go and haul hay or cattle feed around with this.

How many will sell per year in the US?  You just don't know.  It might be a trend.



Sunday, 17 September 2017

Only An Observation on Common Core

I sat this morning and watched a 15-minute YouTube rant by a parent....having to deal with their kid in the new school year and yet another episode over an assignment in math.....dealing with Common Core math situations.

The assignment was a word episode.  There's probably six numbers laid out....a particular question, and you need to determine two things (at least in my humble opinion).  The two things are: (1) the red herrings (wasted and information of no value), and (2) the final formula.

As a kid, it would have been great to have some math mentor stand there and explain red herrings and how they fit or stand-out.  I wasted probably five years of my youth without this red herring explanation, then finally one day....the right math teacher wasted ten minutes to drill down into a three or four word problems....then ID each red herring, and it all made sense from that point on.

But in this YouTube rant....the parent is all pepped up over Common Core and the need to make this formula into a half-page problem/solution....rather than just four numbers with some addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division 'artsy' stuff done.

In some ways, this Common Core business is about having some kids stand there and invent an Einstein-like formula over four simple numbers which in the end....need to equal 63.

In today's world.....I would have been sitting there (age twelve) and grasping the foolish nature of Common Core math, and probably decide to really take this to the degree required, and write a four-page breakdown of Farmer Joe's wagon, and the six products on the wagon, and show in some rocket-science type math equation that 63 is the answer.

The sad thing is that some idiot math teacher would have branded me as some Archimedes-type character, or the second coming of Srinivasa Ramanujan.  Some math department would have jumped on some chance to recruit me for a scholarship, and I'd be standing there at age twenty-five with some useless PhD in math because I could write a six-page formula for a six-line problem. It's the kind of thing that real mathematicians freak out about.....making a formula into a fake or fraud.

I have this opinion that most university departments are going to create an entry-level math program where you need to complete two high-school-like courses....to overcome your stupidity level from high school....thus charging you around $600 per course, and then get you to the level that math makes sense once again.  Well....yeah, this might actually cause you to add one whole semester onto your path and cost your dad another $7,000 for that one extra semester deal.

For the crowd who don't go off to college?  I suspect in twenty years....we will have fifty million Americans who can't calculate simple real-life problems and we have to hire special people (usually college math graduates)....who figure out how many apples that Farmer Jones has on the wagon, or how many buckets of liquid pest-control you can spray on your forty acres of farmland.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

The ESPN Topic

From a brief period in the early 1980s (two years), and around 2010 (3 years)....I had ESPN.  Most of my life....I've live outside of the US without the ESPN option.

If you watched ESPN for first twenty years of existence (it started up in 1979).....they just ran plain sports.  You could turn it on at 1AM and find a soccer game or some rugby match being covered.  During NFL season....they covered injuries, and the leftover news from the weekend.  It was a simple formula.

By 2010, on fifty-odd occasions that I did view the network....it was hit-and-miss.  They were starting to add comments that went beyond sports.  If some NFL player got into a wife-beating episode....you could expect ESPN to find two experts and have some twenty-minute moderated chat over a non-sports topic.  If some Yankees guy got busted for drugs....they'd go and find two lawyers to chat for half-an-hour over drug-abuse and legal consequences.

In a way, you could predict....week by week....they were edging toward a political agenda.  That agenda?  It would be toxic for probably a quarter of the viewers.  Why watch something that doesn't appeal to you.  So viewers left.  Advertisers realized the loss and demanded less pay-scales.  The network, without any thought over where this was leading them....was losing money.

Here's the thing about economics.  If you build semi-conductors or chainsaws....that's your core situation.  You don't want to have politics in the middle of selling your product.  A guy shouldn't have to stand there at the store and look at a chainsaw that he'd like to buy.....realizing that it's attached to such-and-such political theme.  It's the same way with pizza.....if you come to realize your pizza has to be attached to some political agenda that you can't agree with....you won't buy the pizza.

So I see ESPN today....in a deep pit of trouble.

At some point after this NFL season, and probably after March-Madness....I think the ESPN management folks will go and have a two-day meeting outside of the US (as far away from cameras as possible....maybe even in Moscow).  This whole lost revenue thing and political gimmick? If this continues....the network will have to cut pay by the end of 2018.  They have no choice...dump politics, period.

But ESPN won't be the only network doing this.  My guess is that 2018 will be a harsh year for some other networks, and they will make the same choice.

Religious Provocateurs

Quietly, without a lot of fanfare.....various foundation groups are now coming to grasp that you can turn an entire religious population of folks to a particular political agenda.  It's not simple or an easy route....but you could quietly entice several million Americans into supporting some agenda that a decade ago....they would not have accepted.

The basic route?

You go and find one very impressive minister who talks a good bit and gets people enthusiastic.  The game to be played out is that he isn't there for a church or to save souls.  He's there as part of a structure.....a network....as a middle-guy.

So around this middle-guy minister....you have people of the legal profession.....foundation lobbyists....money-people....and social media types. In a sense, you are building up the tools which the talkative minister uses to connect to the church-based ministers below him.

The foundation money people lay out funding which you can use to have week-long discussion groups at nice resorts.  You send out ten invitations to people with larger congregations (at least a thousand members).  Free hotel deal.....bring the wife along....prayer and spitual discussions....and some injection of political thoughts.

You never go and over-sell the political part of this gimmick.  You simply want these ten ministers and their wives to feel like there's some extra things in life that they ought to be stressing.  Along the talks....you start to break out mental patterns of deacons that some deacons are too old-fashion to realize the new world approaching....so you give these ministers the understanding of how to by-pass those deacons.  In a way, you need them to retire, or be forced out by the remaining deacons.

You talk up social media and innovation.  Maybe your money-handlers will even help to finance a church web-site or some social media endeavor of that church.

You talk up different ways of getting ministers to a leadership level....performing not just church functions but society-like functions.

You talk up cross-denominational efforts and cultural themes.

You start talking about core-community practices....enforcing your standard not just across the church crowd but the local community itself.

You pick out certain individuals who show enthusiasm and capability, and use mentor-skills to bring them to a new threshold or plateau.

You stress youth involvement....involving this new theme introduced.

You use the words awesome, fabulous, breath-taking, impressive, magnificent, stunning, awe-inspiring, majestic and mind-blowing a great deal.  You keep a list of a hundred description words which tend to be used over and over, but people like to hear sermons where the words are used.

The seed of the network is then laid down.  In four years or eight years....you call upon your crowd to deliver.  In the midst of this 'wave'....some folks....even some deacons....will stand there and say 'no' because it's obvious to them that this is a manipulated political agenda.  The ministers caught up in this?  They will show these people the door and suggest they leave.  Some might leave....some might suggest firing the minister, and the deacons might call a meeting to implement the firing.  The fired minister?  He'll call up the network 'chief' who got him all peppered-up on social causes, and they will work to find him another church.

Religious provocateurs?  Yes.  That's the simple term to use.  As much as Jerry Farewell did a marginal job to bring a number of Christian conservatives to one central view there in the 1980s.....there's another effort underway now to create the new wave....the Christian liberals.

The amusing image here...is that you might profess to be a iron-clad conservative today, and wake up in six years as a member of some church-group, and suddenly find that you've fallen into a crowd of socially active church members, and you feel kinda 'liberal'.  You go home one Sunday....pour a shot or two of some strong alcohol....light up a cigarette....and stand there amazed that some minister has convinced folks that Jesus was a liberal.  After a long bit of pondering and thinking....you eventually come to realize that the only way this could work is if you were deceived, and then you kinda wonder....how this was possible?

So....you might want to pause and think over things that you often hear on a Sunday.  Some of the Jesus-chat....might be a opening line for a provocateur message.

Friday, 15 September 2017

First Relative in the New World

My first relative to arrive in the Americas (to stay) was named Job.  Oddly enough....his father....John (1611 born) had been to America on a number of occasions....as a ship's purser or cargo-master.  They'd land....release passengers and cargo....take in more passengers returning with goods to transport, and they'd leave.  I doubt if they ever remained on American soil for more than two weeks.

Around 1666...in the spring, Job would be nineteen years old, living in London, and facing some challenges. His mother had been dead for around 15 years.

At this point, in the 1660s....London was considered the most populated city in the UK, with almost a half-million-residents.  Most of the structures were wood, and streets were haphazardly laid out.  In terms of urbanization....no one had ever suggested that things needed to be organized.  It didn't matter how one viewed the situation....it was all standing ready for some massive fire to occur.

Who lived in the midst of London?  Mostly the working class or common folks.  If you had a title or any wealth.....you lived beyond the streets of London.....pretty far out beyond the city itself.

If you were measuring things on health aspects...it'd probably max down near a one (as bad as it could go) in the heart of the city. At some point in 1655....the Bubonic Plague started up. Bodies were picked up daily on each block and just buried at random.  Staying in London didn't make a lot of sense.

So in the spring, around March of 1666....Job went accepted up a deal.  He signed a contract to go off to America for a period of two to three years (different folks argue the period).  You were basically signing up a deal to be tobacco farm labor for a unknown family....working six days a week.  Sundays were an off-day but you could generally find families that had extra work that needed to be done and you could hire yourself out for a day and be paid in something that had swapable value.

At the end of that period....Job was free of the contract....stayed, and reportedly ended up owning two farms and lived to the age of 70.

Entry into the new world? Likely Baltimore.  The farm that he ended up upon was located in Rappahannock, VA....roughly eighty miles to the southwest of Baltimore.

It would be a year or two after this....that Job's dad would settle up affairs in London....take up a new wife, and leave for the same region of Rapahannock, VA.  He would end up being the second of the family in the new world.

If Job had stayed in London?  This gets to being interesting.  As fall arrived (2 September)....a fire started up and went through the mid-section of London for roughly three days.  It's safe to say that Job was a lot better off having taken this big step.

The 'Visiting Fellow' Story

UPDATE:  Well....at 3AM on the east coast....Harvard put out a statement to say the 'visiting fellow' invitation to Chelsea Manning was a mistake.  End of story.

Original essay:

University operations often run with a gimmick.  Sometimes, it's NCAA football.  Sometimes, it's some science department with professors standing in the shadow of Einstein.  Sometimes, it's about some radical program with no grades and no tests....just pass/fail (Evergreen College).

I noticed this morning that Harvard University came out yesterday and announced that Chelsea Manning (former Army....convicted felon....commuted sentence from President Obama) will now be a 'visiting fellow' with Harvard (for one academic year).

What is a 'visiting fellow'?

The general meaning is that a university operation will desire to have a educated guy....usually a professor, a noted scholar, a well-known political figure....to visit the university and either lecture (meaning one single night or a series of nights) or do research at the university in connection with some program they are running.

While not always the case....you might find some deep pockets individual who comes up occasionally and donates to the college's program.....will have some individual that they want covered under the college's 'umbrella' for a year, and only because of that request....you get 'visiting fellow' status.

Pay during this academic year?  Yes and no.  If you are a professor just on 'loan', then you have pay still coming in from the original job and you don't get any additional pay.  Most colleges will provide accommodations....like a on-site apartment or a cottage deal.  If you have no incoming pay, there probably will be some pay-scale set up for a person of your caliber.

In the case of Manning? I'm guessing that some donor came up and made the case that it would be nice to have Manning around for a year, and some pay-deal (probably in the $40k a year range) was set up, with on-campus accommodation.

As for what Manning will do?  Unknown for the most part.  Harvard hasn't said much.  There is some talk by the University that Manning  will speak on "technological, social and economic ramifications of A-I".  Maybe there will be a lecture or  two.

Negativity on this decision?  More than a few have commented on this.  Most will note that Manning is a convicted individual......never pardoned by President Obama, just commuted.

Manning's expert status on "technological, social and economic ramifications of A-I?  This is an individual who spent three brief years of enlisted duty with the Army....in military intelligence, with daily interaction with databases.  Presently, I'd say there are probably over two million individuals from the Army, Navy and Air Force with the same background, same minimum years at the job, and same education level.  If you went looking for the same individuals with a university degree....probably over 200,000 exist.

Some expert status with bringing Manning to Harvard?  No.  This was simply a gimmick.  They don't have a NCAA program that draws folks.  They usually produce lawyers.  It's something to draw attention and get some front-page news.  PR-work mostly.

The idea that some Harvard student might challenge Manning in some lecture or public forum?  Well....it's best not to bring that up.  My guess is that a quarter of the student population will be amused by the 'fellow' action and even more amused that the college gave status to Manning as some 'expert'.

Who knows....maybe one day....even I will get invited over to Harvard to be a 'Visiting Fellow' for a year.  As long as they provide accommodations....a free breakfast each day (coffee, waffles, and bacon) and free cable TV....I'm up to give a lecture or two on social, technological, and economic ramifications of A-I.

The Thing About Information

I sat this morning and read through a piece from the University of Pennsylvania.  They had some graduate students working on a poll with regular people....seeing how informed they were about important things.

So the questions came out and the poll survey team found that a fair amount of people didn't know much about Constitutional rights.

The numbers say.....37 percent could not name any of the First Amendment five rights.  Freedom of Speech?  Well....that was pretty dismal with almost half the people unable to connect that to the First Amendment.

There are a fair number of people....mostly intellectuals...who walk around and have this idea that everyone should know 88,421 facts on a minute-by-minute basis.  In 1968, if you'd asked folks around Detroit who the Vice-President was....it was a 50-50 chance that they'd know the guy's name.  If you asked about the two Senators from Michigan....it was probably a 33-percent chance that they'd remember his name.  But if you brought up the Detroit Tigers and ten pitchers listed on the team....most guys could name the bulk of the pitching staff.

In the 1970s, if you asked most people how to make French Toast....they'd give you the three-line description.  Today?  Most would say they pull out the toast from the freezer and just heat it up.

People just don't remember things like the experts think.  If you asked about the components to a car, most folks can name the simple things like brakes but if you asked about catalytic converter....they'd have no idea what it does.  If you asked the difference between AM and FM....maybe 50-percent of people would know the difference.  If you asked how a toilet works, with the float....probably only 50-percent can describe this in detail.

Is it important to know the rights?  Sadly, after you finish school....it really doesn't matter.  In fact, for most of us...90-percent of the information we were grilled upon in high school....has no real basis for the next sixty years of our life.  Most of us....would like to keep it that way.