Wednesday, 31 October 2018

South Africa: 20 Observeations

So after two weeks of a 'tour'.....I'll offer my observations:

1.  While posing as a nation, it's basically twenty-odd groups with various agendas and lacking any real unification.  Toss in tribes, political groups, the Dutch, the Brits, the illegals....there's nothing over the past thousand years that has unified the area. 

2.  The Rand has a value of 15 Rand to the dollar.  So, the exchange rate is pretty crazy.  You could lay out 15,000 Rand on your tables, and it's a thousand dollars.....which is what you'd basically need for pocket money, beer, food, etc.....for two weeks.  Oh, and for tips?  best to get 50 and 100 Rand notes in a pocket and be ready at least three times a day to tip someone. 

3.  Food, beer and drinks.  I actually had some mighty fine beer while there, probably consumed forty cocktail drinks over a two week period (mostly because the cost factor was so low....four dollars per drink).  On food, I ate ribs at least five times over that period (never more than $12 to $14 a plate) and have to admit that they know how to grill.  A guy won't lose weight while there. 

4.  Safari jeeps.  I went on four different trail rides over the period there, and just kept wondering about the safety of the vehicles.  Tires?  Mostly all bald.  At some point, the guides jeep wouldn't start while our open-jeep was sitting in lion-territory.  We sat there for ten minutes, kinda looking for lions to approach (no gun in the jeep, I should note).

5.  Crime?  Just about everywhere you look.....barbed wired fences and high walls.  People have electrified fences around their houses, and have posted signs to noted 'armed response'.  I asked about the rate of crime and folks in the rural area say it's awful rare.   Folks around Cape Town?  They suggest a higher rate of crime.  People talk about murders but there is no indication that it's any worse than Memphis or Atlanta.

6.  Languages.  There's a minimum of a dozen languages typically spoken, and people argue over English being the national language.  My humble guess is that two-thirds of the population can speak some level of English.....meaning marginal English.  But a fair portion of rural folks you bump into....are into tribal dialects.

7.  Bathroom outlets.....non-existent.  You can go into any hotel bathroom, and find no outlets.  I asked about this and the comment is that the national standard outlet so big and huge, that it attracts moisture in a humid room, and it would b dangerous if you had such a outlet there, so there is a standard among outlets in the bathroom.

8.  Whites live in overly protected compound-suburbs......period. 

9.  Wild dogs are considered a protected breed of 'critter', so you can't go off and shoot them (under any reason).  Now, the other side of this story.....they often carry various diseases (like malaria for example) you don't want to get friendly with them at all.

10.  Landscape.  Once you leave urban areas, I would qualify South Africa as one of the most scenic countries in the world.  Forty years ago, it would have made sense to fly a jeep, and just drive cross-country for six weeks.  Today?  Because of crime and threats, I wouldn't recommend it.  Getting out and walking around?  Well....there's that snake issue.  But I spent two weeks seeing the country, and never saw a single snake.

11.  Drugs.  In the urban areas, folks are hyped up and frustrated with the amount of drug trafficking going on.  Meth, crack, etc. 

12.  Game preserves.  Basically, you have a bunch of western folks (US, Europe) who use charity foundations to support the purchase of protected preserves.  Most are in the 25 to 100 square mile size, with a complete security fence keeping the 'critters' inside of the 'park'.  They hire up a doze-odd locals to scout out and prevent hunters from harming any of the animals. 

13.  I ended up on a township-tour (the German wife wanted to see one up close and personal).  The guide ended up walking us through the concrete block buildings.....mostly all 'crap'.  At some point, we entered and I noted on the wall......heavy amount of black mildew (the kind that you really don't want to inhale or touch).  There is marginally support that the black-controlled and dominate political party wants to do in reshaping this whole 'ghetto' landscape. 

14.  Trust in statistics, data or political positions is virtually a joke.  Doesn't matter who you discuss the matter with.....folks don't believe much of anything they are told.....doesn't matter if you are black or white.

15.  The drought.  On the far west end of South Africa is the drought affected area.  Every shower and sink in a hotel-room are fitted with water-flow devices.  What you'd typically expect in the coming out at 30-percent the rate you'd have in Cape Town.  A 90-second shower is the norm, and there's a sign in each bathroom to note that suggestion.  The hotel pool?  Shutdown. 

16.  South Africans have a population of 55-odd-million.....which most disbelieve.  Most will throw another four million illegals in the country.  A lot of the criminal element is now thrown on the illegals in the least people believe that.

17.  Friendly nature.  After two weeks of driving around and interacting with probably 200-odd folks, I would suggest that most every person I met.....was friendly.  The accents of English might have made it a bit difficult, but you just didn't meet anyone of a unfriendly nature.

18.  Nightly TV options?  Crap.  In the rural areas, you are mostly dependent on Netflix, reading, or DVDs. 

19.  Virtually every town of any size that you drove through....had a Kentucky Fried Chicken.

20.  It was awful hot for five of the days there.....94 degrees.  But the wind was there virtually every single day....five to ten mph. 

Saturday, 27 October 2018

South Africa Farm Chat

If you live in South Africa, there is a political episode going on....where farm redistribution is being discussed.

The emphasis here centers on four facts (truth value is relative).

1.  Whites have held a high ownership level, from day one.

2. 13 percent of the nation is farmable, which is debatable. Irrigation figures into this.

3. The ANC Party says no compensation is required, which worries banks and export folks.

4.  The opposition folks say compensation would make this legit but would mean tens of billions of dollars of value.

I watched 15 minutes of regional news cover this last night.  The ANC folks felt compensation was a would not open for discussion.

The odd pieces?

1. Vineyards, worth ten of millions are part of the episode. Some have irrigation systems and private dams.

2. Orchards play into this.

3. The ANC has has two decades to figure out the profitable operations, and one might suspect they have a list ready to go.

4. The odds that an orchard owner would cut down his operation if state papers arrived?  I would suggest a 90 percent chance....same for vineyard owners.

5.  Trump?  He could stop import of regional fruit and wine...suggesting the EU do the same.

6. Banks stand to lose billions in farm debt.

7.  Ownership by companies?  Some exist, but no one suggests how this would be handled.

8. Breaking farms apart?  No, that isn't being discussed.

9. Ownership by ANC political folks, their relatives, proxy players, etc? It is suggested but nothing on paper exists and you have no idea who the new farm owners would be.

10. The round number of 50 percent black ownership?  Does it mean total farm land in the country or just farms?  Again, this is not clear. Could you end up with 80 percent of their goal in just one state or province? Well, in theory,  yes....but again, there no law to say how this works. Could every single vineyard end up with state papers? In theory, yes.

I will guarantee that this law will pass, and a list of a dozen farms and vineyards will be seized to make headlines in the first month.   But I suspect after the owners have burned down the operation, blown up dams, and cut the orchards and vineyards down....things will get awful quiet.  Cleaning up the mess will be impossible.

South Africa and Numbers Distrust

I've had five or discussions with locals over the past ten days.   What comes up often is the chatter about facts, numbers, statistics, and reliability.  It doesn't matter if you talk to a black, colored, or white...they all laugh over data given out by the government,  in essence....fake data.

The true population numbers?  Some folks in Cape Town suggest there's one to two million uncounted residents...mostly from Zimbabwe. 

Murders?  No one believes the monthly police reports.

Robberies?  Same story.

One older guy said that when you see some 45 minute interview with a ANC Party official on TV, you can figure that he will 'dump' sixty facts or numbers....of which one or two might be true and the other 98 percent are fake.

So I asked, how can this continue?  No one can really answer that.  Their perception was that when the TV and news era had to fill empty data columns and false good numbers were better than true bad numbers.

The truth is....there just isn't much to say for news.  A lion attack would make for front page news....but that rarely ever happens.  I noticed today some hype over a lady locally suing a bed company, when the bed collapsed during a moment of passion and she injured her back falling on the floor.  The lawsuit and discussion got front page discussion.  In this case, folks don't get fed fake data, and they believe the whole story.

I have three days left on this trip....with potentially  200 fake facts to receive.

Friday, 26 October 2018

High Pressure Toilet

I had to use a public toilet yesterday, here in Cape Town, South Africa....local mall situation.

While you may not be aware of it, the Cape has had three years of drought, and recent rains have marginally refilled the water supply.  So everywhere you go, there are signs about not wasting water....your daily limit is 70 liters.

So I walk into the toilet and here is a 'cap' on the lid and some note about 3,000 pounds of air pressure. I do my business, lower the cap, and hit the button.  A cup of water drops down, and BOOM, some massive air pressure event occurs, and whatever was there is gone.

If you'd been sitting there?  I think some bodily damage would have been done.  It's something that would never be allowed in the US, I think.

The engineer who designed this? Just makes you wonder about the testing phase.

Evil Russians

I sat while on vacation, and observed some hyped up journalist chat over the idea of the Russians likely behind the hoax bomb mailings.

The possibility? One in a million.

I admit, one single marginal one-star KGB guy could have done this. But to do hoax mailings? 

I tried last night to observe CNN, but their entire hyped up behavior makes it like fifth grade kids running a network.  This Ivan, the secret agent idea?  Maybe Ivan missed six hours of the bomb class?  Maybe Ivan read the wrong manual?  Maybe Ivan smoked marijuana prior to assembly?  Maybe Ivan attended the wrong KGB school?

So I'm going to suggest a new 'evil Russian' idea......maybe he's a journalist working for MSNBC or CNN.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

UK: No Fake News

I noted in the news this morning that the Brit government adapted a new more use of the term 'fake news'.

You can utter misinformation or disinformation....course, this is directed for government employees.

So if the BBC folks or Sky News charm you with fake news....will you utter disinformation?  I doubt it.

Fake news is going to be around permanently now.

The thing you have to wonder about.....why make some rule?

Monday, 22 October 2018


The second of a couple of essays on my South Africa trip.  I spent five days in Hoedspruit....a town way up on th NE end of the country, just short of the Small Dragon Mountains.

It's a town of 3,500.....50 percent white....while the entire state around it is 95 percent black.  It's worth nothing that the entire state is around 50 percent poverty class.

What Hoedsprit is known for is.....safari stuff. Just about everybody around has some connection to tourism.  The airport?  Eight flights a day with loads of tourists getting off.  Probably a hundred folks rent cars and drive up.  Then you got a dozen tour buses arriving daily.

Folks get all hyped up over lion, monkey, and Elephant trips.....out into private reserves...some measuring 5 by 10 miles.  If you've never ridden in the back of rover jeep on a marginal road with 60 potholes per don't know butt pain.  I asked the guy about shocks, and he said it was rare that you did not replace the shocks every 8 weeks.

Cops? You just rarely saw them. Folks indicated that when you called them up, especially after dark....they were not likely to show up until sun-up.

The only dam locally?  It's an odd thing....a private dam....designed to hold a huge amount of water for irrigation purposes.  You sign up for service, and pay a fee.  Tons of fruit and nuts....mostly all shipped out of South Africa.

After five days, I sat and previewed the threats.  Lions, rhinos, snakes, elephants, hyenias, wild dogs, gangsters, rabies, TB, malaria and crocodiles? How did humans walk out of Africa 200,000 years ago?  It's simply not possible.

My advice...if you really need this of adventure?  Think long and hard about it.  Maybe an overnight in Memphis will suffice.

Sunday, 21 October 2018


I'm off in South Africa right now and being dragged on these Land Rover observations 'trips'.

So yesterday was a pretty miserable day (even by Alabama standards). Storm clouds, 20 mph winds, open Rover, misty rain, 60 degrees.  This ride went on for four hours.

The two high points?

First, we stopped at some point while 'Safari Bob' gave us a ten minute lecture on the difference between Rhino dung and Elephant dung.....while drizzle continued.  For a brief moment, I had this brief image of seventh grade science teacher.  It was info that came in one ear and out the other.

Second, toward the very end, we finally came upon two lions (Karl and Maggie, my names for them).  They were at the fenceline, resting. 'Safari Bob' launched into another ten minute lecture, with misty rain falling and a hefty wind.  It was an odd thing, Karl was obsessed with the opposite side of the fence.

Then suddenly from this other fenced area came 'Ingrid, a much younger female lion.

Naturally, Karl's lady got all upset. A lot of lion yelling occurred, and that kinda ended the days events.

'Safari Bob' dropped us by the gate and 'Safari Max' shuttled back to the lodge.  He's a 65 year old guy and fairly talkative. He related each of 7 episodes with malaria, kinda like a guy talking over ex-wives.  Back at the lodge, my German wife got all peppy.....malaria?  Instead of worrying about lion attacks, snakes, or mad elephants....she is now focused on malaria. 

Me? This misty rain and 60 degree temp, with 20 mph wind has zeroed out the day.


I sat this morning reading over the reaction of a Dear Abbey column. She basically spoke up about giving a kid a foreign name.  She did not mean 'Karl' with a K. She meant names Chicki, Munsi, Doretta-Tassa, or Luniva.  People apparently got upset about that.

The problem here goes in two directions.

First, spelling some name can be impossible for folks.  You could sit over a lifetime, explaining this at least six-thousand times. You might start getting frustrated already by the fourth grade.

Second, this will pause folks to ask how the hell did you get this name. Over and over, this explanation will be required.

Teasing?  Well, it might reach a crisis stage already by age 12....requiring some mental clinic.

I worked with a guy twenty years ago who got married and wanted to name his kids after Greek gods.  For the wife, that was a none acceptance thing.  Their first kid was lucky....he would have been named Zeus, if the wife had been agreeable.

Right now, I'm waiting on some Alabama guy to name his son Donny Trump-This Jones.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Pizza Story

I noticed this coming up in British health news today.

There's talk that the Brit government wants to limit the number of calories that you can put into a pizza.  Under their plan, a standard sized pizza will only be able to contain a max of 928 calories.

This is being done because of this fear of an obesity crisis.

So I went looking....a single slice of Papa Johns pizza would range 180 to 300 calories (depending on this being a small pizza or a large pizza).  But remember, we are talking cheese pizza only.  So you go and figure six slices, and you come 1,080 calories on that one cheese pizza. 

To reach the Brit manated pizza?  You'd have to resize the pizza to be at least 20-percent smaller in circumference.  But again, this only gets you a plain cheese pizza.

What if you wanted a meat-lovers special 'small' pizza?  Currently, that would be 380 calories per slice. 

All of this government-directed stuff....if it were to occur....would mean that a pizza shop could only manufacture 8-inch pizzas.  So if you weren't happy?'d order two.  Yeah, you'd go and get two 928-calorie limited pizzas to equal what you wanted. 

Silly?  Oh yes, but that's the logical progression of this whole obesity discussion.  Do you really need a 1,100 calories of pizza?  Probably not.  In fact, most folks would do ok with two slices of mega meat-lovers pizza. 

Friday, 12 October 2018

The Saudi Story

It's an international story which 90-percent of Americans really haven't followed for the past ten days but it has a twist or two.  So I'll tell the basic story.

There's this Saudi guy (actual citizen) who has been motivated to tell a number of stories that are negative against the King.  He is (or was) an employee of the Washington Post.  He was set to marry but needed a document or two stamped at the nearby Saudi embassy in Istanbul.  He walks in (video captures that moment), with his girlfriend waiting in the car.  He never returns.  The Saudis say he got the document and exited the building via another exit.  No camera video exists to prove that point. Oddly, around a dozen folks have flown in over the previous couple of days and are there in the embassy at this point.  Around three to four hours after his entrance into the building....they exit the building and get into cars....all flying immediately out of Istanbul.

The Turk cops suspect the guy is dead (probably butchered up).  Proof? Non-existent.  The US has finally picked up the story and wants the Saudis to answer the magic question.

So, here is the piece which shocks the Saudis.  Today, the Turks kinda admit behind various doors that they 'might' have bugged the embassy.  And they might have video/audio of the torture and eventual death of the guy.  But they don't want to suggest in some public forum.  Why? see, they might have virtually every single embassy in Istanbul under some surveillance.  Yes, even the Americans. 

The embarrassment if they did have audio and video?  It puts the Saudis into a unique situation where public commentary might go against the King even more. 

If the guy did exit the building?  If I were the Saudis....I'd be moving heaven and earth to find the guy and establish the fact that he just didn't want to get married (cold-feet).  The Turks say that the Saudis are willing to help 'look' for the guy.  Where would you go and find such a guy?

All of this...puts Trump into an unusual position.  You could predict what Obama or Bush or Clinton would have done in this case.....more or less....nothing.  Trump?  He might chat about this but then if the Turks did put the video out there and establish this as a fact, would Trump do something that the previous three would try to avoid? 

So you come to the last piece of this....if Erdogan has this video/audio....maybe there's some 10-billion dollar deal that he could rig up and just have the Saudis arrange a fake contribution to the Turkish ensure the video/audio disappears. 

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Mob Violence Appeal on Southern States

In general, you can go and spend months wandering around southern states....discussing hundreds of topics (weather, mosquits, tornados, pool-halls, septic tanks, NCAA football, corruption, taxation, Baptist revivals, lightning strikes, alcohol abuse, meth, trailer parks, etc)....but when you come to the topic of mob violence, there's generally going to be just two observations by most southerners.

First, the 'we-don't-do-that-kind-of-thing-around-here' attitude will be laid out.  Maybe you could dig up some great history from the 1840s, 1860s, and even up to the 1920s.  But things have simmered down and it's hard to get folks to the level of thinking....yeah, mob violence is a fine thing. 

Second, the same people will tell you....once you start a mob, there's is no clear steering-wheel to the act, and you just might come to greatly regret the mob you created.   Yes, they might actually burn down some court-house....but they go and also burn down a gambling establishment, a church, a pool-hall, or any of a dozen public facilities.

So you discover that mob violence just doesn't make folks that happy and they tend to see it as a bunch of thugs.  Associating this to politics?  Well....that really starts to burn up public perception. 

But these people are the types to say if there's some bunch of thugs beating up on poor people....let's get the shotguns and go establish authority.  So even if the cops were supposed to just let thugs run around and make some theatrical action for cameras.....the southern folks would get into the middle and likely hurt, maim, or accidentally kill a few mob folks.

All of this....I think....makes for a bad publicity scene for Democrats in states like Alabama or Tennessee.  If this were a national strategy idea?  It just seems like you'd take into consideration the amount of damage you are creating elsewhere. 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has had roughly 90 days to make dozens of news media appearances since the primary.  On 7 November, the day after the election.....I believe that Cortez-mania will have collapsed finally.

My prediction is that Joe Crowley....previously the Democratic guy for the 14th District who got beaten in the primary by Cortez.....will win the election as a member of a unknown party in the district.  Just my humble guess, but I think he'll clear with just over fifty percent of the vote.  The Republican for the District....Anthony Pappas, will likely get near 15-percent of the vote, and the remainder will be for Cortez (35-percent).

What really happened in the primary?  I think the Latino population of the 14th District (roughly 50-percent of the locals)....came out in force during the primary....knowing little about Cortez except she had a Latino-name, and did something that they rarely up and vote in a primary situation.

What happens to Cortez after the loss?  I suspect that MSNBC will hire her to be a commentator and regular on a couple of keep her in the 'mix'.  It's not really over because she will likely run again in the House race of 2020, and consolidate more votes. 

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

The Haley-2020 Scenario

There are several pieces laying there to consider if Nikki Haley intends to rest for six months and prepare a campaign because Donald Trump won't run in 2020. 

1.  Bloomberg is said now to be preparing a 'machine' to run in the primary of 2020.  Cash-wise, he has the money to make the run.  But there are two curious factors here: (1) he'll be 78 in 2020 and (2) any suggestion of trimming back on the commerce market or job gains will destroy his campaign.  So Bloomberg has to portray himself as the 'good' version of Trump yet be fairly democratic in nature.

2.  The odds that Haley might select a Latino (NM's Governor), who happens to be a be her VP?  That's a possibility.  She could go and select a black conservative (West or Mia Love for example). 

3.  Trump in the wings to campaign for her?  That's likely to occur and would make a big deal of difference.

4.  The sales point of Haley?  First, don't screw with the economy.  Second, don't lessen any point that Trump laid out in 2016.  Third, accept the fact that the news media is working to get Bloomberg ahead. Fourth, emphasize the age of Bloomberg and appear jogging/working out.

5.  There's this odd conclusion of four years of Donald Trump.  If you laid out his ten big's safe to say that he's accomplished half of them right now (two years into this), and if he gets funding for the wall, with construction starting up....then the bulk will be done by 2020. 

Here's the thing....if you go into the thirty states that Trump won, suggesting Bloomberg....the only state that I think might be flipped to Bloomberg....would be Florida.  But if you end up with one-third of the Latino vote, there's probably three or four of the Hillary-won states from 2016.....that might flip to Haley. 

Saturday, 6 October 2018

The Old Barracks (Now Gone)

I sat on Google Earth today and went looking for the old 1980 Civil Engineering Squadron barracks that I lived in for a year while at McChord (Tacoma, Wash). no longer exists.  That whole grassy area?  That was a 100-car asphalt parking lot and two barracks built in the 1974 era.  Gone.

When I arrived in 1980....this was already showing age and quality problems, at the six-year point.  It was completely wooden in nature.  The floors creaked when you walked on them.  Everything about the building was defined as cheap....the doors, the curtains, the carpet.  The windows had trouble opening and closing.  At the time, half of us figured that the building would be lucky to reach the 20-year point. 

The positive of the structure?  You were two minutes away from the work-compound, and four minutes from the BX.  The negative?  Going to the chow-hall meant a 15-minute walk.  So you couldn't delay yourself in the morning for had to be up by 6AM and walk straight over.

Sunset for South Africa?

In ten days, I'll be off on my first and probably last trip to South Africa.  For a number of months, I've been reading up on the nation, and come to realize that it's probably five years at best....away from some civil war or internal destruction period, and what exists today (and for the past couple of hundred years)....won't be around by 2025.

So, the chief topic of destruction?  The number three political party in South Africa has a take without compensation....roughly 50-percent of the farm land.  No one says this is really the end of the discussion, and some suggest that the full 100-percent land-grab will be the end-result.

A complicated story?  Yes.  So I'll tell in three basic ways:

1.  Population growth.  Back around four-hundred years ago when the Dutch started to arrive in the region of South Africa....roughly three times the size of California....they found mostly nothing.  The population, with the original group of Dutch and the local tribes of the region....added up to 700,000.  You can imagine the US region of California, Oregon, and Washington-state....with 700,000 (just a bit more than exist in Portland today).

Somewhere between 1840 and 1860....the population finally reached two-million.  By 1900?  They had finally reached five million people.  By the 1970s?  They were over 22-million.  Today?  55.5-million. 

The problem is that the current pace can be projected out, and you can figure by 2040 (just 20 years away)'ll be near 75-million. 

Industry growth, the job-market, fair wages?  It can't match the population growth.  It probably maxed out in the 1960s. 

So the public sees virtually every angle of life to be highly unfair and life is about poverty.  Any idiot can create a political about redistribution of something (doesn't even have to be limited to farms) to bring fairness and happiness. 

2.  The farm story.  In this period of 1650 to 1700....the Dutch came and basically negotiated with local tribes over land.  The Dutch offered land deals....cattle for property.  The chiefs accepted and some hostile situations were avoided.  But let's be this whole region of 700,000 people in the area the size of three Californias....there's just an awful lot of land and nothing of a threat.

The Dutch and later the English who came in....came to figure out....only around 15-percent of the land is usable as farms or ranch-land.  That's it.  In some cases, it's only useful if you irrigated the property. 

The discovery of gold and diamonds (1860s to 1880s)?  Well....this brought conflict, and eventually the Zulu War.  The avoidance of all-out war with the tribes ended at this point.

The bulk of prime farmland?  Owned by white Dutch/English folks.  Some inherited their property.....over and over.  Some bought their property.  Fairness?  The treaties signed by the tribal chiefs had some legit situation involved....none of this is remembered today, and probably half of the population is attached more to political parties, than to tribal units.

Today, the banks are attached to the farming sector and part of the success story of the past hundred years. When this land law is established....the banking sector will be standing there with numerous loans and unable to really assess success or failure. 

3.  Finally, the political game.  Once the law is invented....who really gets the property?  No one can really say.  It might go to a local black guy who has some deep experience in farming.  It might go to a political party guy with zero experience.  It might go to someone who can't get bank backing on loans and the land lays there unproductive.  No matter what happens....the politicians can claim success. 

The fear of whites?  Why stop at just farms?  You could make a funny rule that all hospitals in the country must be black-owned and overnight, you'd find a new owner who was just 'given' the property.

Yes, all of this leads to civil war and conflict.  Tribal leaders?  I suspect they will finally stand up and challenge political leaders, and the country will be sub-divided into twenty-odd countries.  The Western Cape area might be able to survive as one single nation (but it has the least of farm lands). 

So much confusion.....that locals might leave and try to immigrate into Europe?  I would suggest to be one of the ten basic achievements of this chaos approaching. 

I guess I'm getting a view of a land that was, and up until 2018.....was one of the more interesting countries in the world. 

A 'Jerry Springer' Show?

What are the chief ingredients of a Jerry Springer Show?

1.  Lie-detector tests.

2.  Accusations which seem marginally true.

3.  Fakeness (one almost imagines that the six people lined up as the participants, are just hired for the role).

4.  Whores. About seventy percent of the women tend to be trailer-park trash, skanky, or working on marriage number four. 

5.  Content inappropriate for children under twelve.

6.  A verbal or physical fight.

7.  By the end of the show, the odds of participants ever getting back on friendly terms are zero.

8.  Body-builder guards are protecting Jerry or the participants.

9.  There's always a history which requires five to eight minutes to tell the basic story.

10.  In ten-percent of cases, there's a fake-woman or a transgender guy involved.

So you look over the Kavanaugh senate episode, and it's curious.....nine of the ten basic ingredients (no fake-woman/trans in this pony-show) are in this senate hearing.

Last week, I was reading some commentary by a conservative gal (she at least says this), and she said about an hour into the Professor Ford episode....she felt it was inappropriate for any kid under ten to hear the commentary....particularly in the middle of the day when kids might flip through channels.

I sat and pondered over this.  Maybe the Senate ought to make up a new rule.....limit questions to only a 10 PM to 5 PM cycle, so kids wouldn't get all hyped up on booze and lust.

The chief question to ask here.....have we arrived at Jerry Spring-politics, and will this become the new norm?  And do we really want that theatrical-style of politics?  Personally, if they'd added some trans-guy-woman, it might have made this pretty interesting, and that Senator Graham guy would have had a lot of fun asking him/her a bunch of questions. 

Friday, 5 October 2018

Witch Stuff

Because Senator Graham (Rep-SC) brought up witchcraft trials and 'tests' (how to handle Judge Kavanaugh)....I went back today and spent an hour over one of the 500-odd topics which I've often had an interest in witches.

Being from Alabama, we never really had any local witches, and most of my introduction was limited to books such as The Crucible and some historical piece which the local school had bought for their library but I noted since 1959 (when it was put into the school library and the first check-out card was placed into it)'d only been checked out three times by the time I'd read it in 1972.  I was probably the only kid in that school that checked out every single non-fiction book they had.

To know that you are in the presence of a witch?  Well....there are seven basic ways:

1.  You get the witch to give you some urine (don't ask), and you mix this with rye....making it into some kind of bread.  Then you find some dog (can't be a human), and if the dog eats the cake....a true witch will have severe pains.  I admit it's pretty crazy but this whole witchcraft thing of the 1690s took off and guys just invented stuff like this out of thin air.

2.  The Lords Prayer.  Basically, if you could recite the whole prayer, you were safe.

3.  You measure up some gal, and gather all the Bibles in the community to equal her height.....stacking them on a scale.  You put the witch on the other side of the scale.  If the gal is heavier than the Bibles....she's a witch.  You tended to find that fat chunky women usually lost out on this test.

4.  Women that hung around cats....especially black cats....were readily identified as witches.

5.  You look over the accused gal for scares or birthmarks.  Now the fact that everyone in some family might have scares, or birthmarks?  Well.....that did present a problem.

6.  The tear test.  Basically, if you could provide tears, on were clear of being a witch.

7.  The scratch test.  Basically, you'd scratch some witch enough.....that she'd cast a spell.  Usually, in this ended up with forty-odd scratches, which the locals would all deem it sufficient that you didn't apparently have any spell-casting ability.

The odd case with the Kavanaugh that none of the Democrats seem willing to say how he could be innocent, and thus he can never prove or disprove the 'witch' business.

The Kavanaugh 'Circus'

In summary, it was a series of bluffs....some designed at a one-star level....some at a five-star level, and it appears....they all failed.

The idea early in this strategy by the Democrats was simply to impress enough negativity upon Kavanaugh enough that he'd back out.  For a normal guy, I think the Ford letter business would have done that.  So Kavanaugh called the bluff, and forced her to show up and provide testimony.  She had several counter-bluffs ready to go (the lie detector test, the second person backing up the story, etc).  Well....he counter-bluffed.

Somewhere in the middle of this mess....Senator Graham woke up and probably delivered the greatest responses of his career.  Some CNN folks were able to put a dozen hours a day into a negative-Kavanaugh message.  And then pieces of the Ford story started to fall apart. 

The three basic problems here?  (1) No witnesses to support Ford's story. (2) The high school year book which shows an entire group of people in the early 1980s who partied, and consumed booze.  (3) A recovered memory, which sometimes had information and sometimes had zero information.  On the last issue, you kinda wonder if there alcohol blackouts involved.

So Kavanaugh will likely get the votes.  But the bigger question....did this damage the Republicans in the election?  No....I think it actually damaged two to four Democratic Senators more, and their likely chances of winning might be diminished by five-percent.  In the thirty states that Trump won?  This strategy probably did a fair amount of damage to the Democrat's brand. 

And the thing you have to worry about....two older Democratic justices in the court and if either were to pass on....over the next year or two.  With a GOP count of 60-plus Senators....Trump might be able to stack one more conservative judge on the court and set up a pattern for twenty-plus years.  That's serious damage to the Democratic brand. 

Thursday, 4 October 2018

The Five Million Story

I noticed a financial story today, which centered around the TV financial 'host'....Suze Orman.  She basically came out and said you if intend to retire early in life (suggesting around age 50), then you need five-million dollars in the portfolio to make this happen. 

I sat and pondered upon the idea, and her estimation.

I made a decision around seven years ago to retire completely at age 55.  No, I don't have five million, or even one million.  What I basically had was a military pension (probably worth 1,600 a month) and a GS-IRA type account which I get around 1,400 a month.  Toss in the fact that I don't have a mortgage (my wife has the family house), and I really never got much into debt over my entire life.  I won't say I lived in a modest way, but I didn't really go out to waste money either.

No, I didn't ever buy a $30,000 car.....ever.

No, I have never owned a $60k RV....ever.

No, I never bought a $9k quad-bike.....ever.

I disagree with Suze on this number of 5-million.  In general, as long as you don't have a mortgage hanging over you at retirement, with no real debt (especially credit cards), and you have some monthly amount of 1,500 to 2, can retire at age 50.  The problem this stupid mortgage deal, and the condition of your house. 

I worked with a guy at the Pentagon who came to face a problem with his roof.  By the time that the carpenter did the estimate of damage....this guy was looking at a $30k renovation project.  This was also the year that his wife's car had transmission problems, and he had to buy a new car.  His plan to retire at age 58?  Gone. He had to add a minimum of two more years onto his master-plan for retirement. 

I worked with a NCO in the 1990s who had around $150k in debt (both he and wife had incomes).  He laid it out.....various cost daughter had drained $70k over four years at some university, and he had one more kid to put through college.   He figured just in interest per year....they had $15,000 going out. 

Maybe Suze is correct on the 5-million, if you have debt of any size.  But I just have a problem with this idea of a massive amount of money required to retire upon.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

The 'Message' Story

At some point today, across America....the Homeland Security folks will send out some mass 'test' message to every single demonstrate to the public that emergency info can be pushed out....if conditions require it. 

Who is in charge of the test?  FEMA.

There are three observations that I can make over this.

First, someone is going to copy the 'message', and turn it into a hoax-type thing, and resend it at various times to unsuspecting people, who will freak out over some fake nuclear incident....fake volcanic eruption....or some circus tiger being on the loose in your community.

Second, it's going to turn all political because people will suggest that Trump will send out fake 'messages' to alarm the public. 

Third, even if you got a real 'message' in the future over some event unfolding (like aliens having landed and launching an invasion) you really want to take the government's advice on evaluation or how to handle your end of the situation? 

Being from Alabama, I would suspect that forty-percent of the public in the state will discount the government advice right off the bat, and start making their own assumptions and solutions.  Distrust?  It's been proven over and over....the last people on earth that you want advice from in a the US federal government.

A month or two down the line, I expect dozens of people each day will get some fake alert from some guy....warning of a dam collapse, or lion spotted in the local area, and this will become a big problem with people freaking out and getting hyped-up over nothing.  Eventually, some idiot will fire off 10,000 messages to some folks in DC, notifying them of a nuke attack on Fairfax, and scaring thousands to evacuate to West Virginia in the middle of the night.

That's the problem about just don't know where it's going to lead onto.

Monday, 1 October 2018

My Soon Anticipated 'Safari'

In two weeks, I set off on a trip to South Africa, with a mini-safari included in the deal.  To be honest, it's not one of the top ten places that I'd prefer for a tour but the wife rated it number one.

Years ago as a kid, I heard a fascination with a Saturday afternoon show.....Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom.  The head guy was Marlin Perkins and for thirty minutes, you were entertained by clips of Marlin's latest adventure.   The show went from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s.

I didn't so much watch to view Marlin, but his number one assistant....Jim. 

Jim seemed to always be the guy who was assigned to climb into some lion pit, or handle some hefty snake.  Jim, in my humble opinion, was just a breathe away from death in almost every episode.  Jim seemed to favor clean living, no booze, and no cigarettes. 

Marlin would tend to talk about the trip....the strategy of hunting elephants....the handling of tigers, etc.  Jim was the action-guy. 

My take, after probably watching four-hundred episodes....Africa and this safari business was probably not on my top ten 'adventures'.  I think this was mostly Marlin's fault because he made it all seem perfectly safe and with no hazards. 

Last week, I noted some German gal who'd entered some safari park in Tanzania....then decided she needed to take some picture of a nearby elephant.  No one says if she said anything, or just scared the elephant....but he came over and stumped her to death.  Today, I noticed another travel story from the region (occurring over the weekend)....a German guy walked too near some elephant and the elephant freaked out....attempting to stomp him to death (failing, but giving the guy a broken leg and arm). 

Maybe these two Germans were a bit like Jim and willing to take chances.  It's hard to tell.