me

Do you want to know more about the guy who's on the other side of your screen, saying all this stuff?

Then come right in...

ribbons

These are my
Mission Statements.

rant

This is where I put the stuff that doesn't fall into the other categories.

Unethical behavior

As you may have heard, Wells Fargo has been caught with its proverbial hand deep in the cookie jar.

Over at least the past seven years, there has existed a corporate culture of setting ill-advised metrics for employees. Many employees were given "sales quotas," meaning they had to have customers start so many of their various "financial products" such as credit cards, bank accounts with them and so on. The bad news is when the customers didn't do it on their own, the employees "helped" the customers open those accounts. This resulted in millions of dollars of bank fees, overdraft fees, interest charges and on and on.

This unethical behavior was approved and encouraged by management. Employees who actually had personal ethics and didn't engage in this behavior were penalized and fired.

Now that this scheme has been discovered, 5,300 employees who engaged in this have been fired and a fine of $185 million has been levied against Wells Fargo. That may seem like a lot of cash, however when compared against the 2015 total profits of almost $22.9 billion from total revenue of $86 billion, that fine equates out to be 0.8% of their profits. I would call that pocket change.

Ideally, people and businesses should always act to do positive things and not injure those they interact with. Of course, this ideal will never be reached, however if we apply appropriate external incentives, we can at least hold these grevious incidents to a minimum.

When you consider how hard it is to "pierce the corporate veil" to hold executives, managers and employees personally liable, both criminally and civilly, this needs to change.

First and foremost, the laws need to be simplified and consolidated. To have a thousand ways to be assessed a fine and civil liabilities like I propose below is unreasonable and subject to abuse by governmental agents and agencies. The laws must be simple and clear as much as possible.Instead of working off exact numbers, let's try percentages. Penalties from the government the corporation, let's assign a penalty of 50% of their gross revenues for each year this violation happened. For those executives and other board members who can be shown they were knowledgeable and/or culpable in bad behaviors, confiscate 95% of their net worth. That would still leave the CEO of Wells Fargo John Stumpf with about $2.5 million out of his current $50 million personal fortune. Junior executives, management and employees could be fined lesser but still heavy percentages. That's just the fines from government.

As far as individuals suing those responsible, whatever damages they can show, multiply it by 100. If a customer was bilked out of $10,000 by the company and specific individuals, let's award them $1,000,000.

I can hear some people screaming, "You'll destroy the company and those people!!!" That's my point. Do you really want a company to continue to provide goods and services to you or those you love after a grievous breach of trust? To allow them to continue to do business with many, if not all of the leadership team intact? Really, what is preventing Wells Fargo or any other company guilty of a breach of trust from going right back to doing business just like before?

If there were laws like this in place where you know if you step over that line you would personally be financially crushed and the company along with you, how likely would you engage in this kind of activity? Hopefully, not very likely.

Link updates

This doesn't rate a FB post. I have fixed, updated and added some links to the left. I discovered that there is a Zig Ziglar podcast and I have had great pleasure in the last week listening to their archives as I drive around my territory delivering my services to my customers.

Get your head out of your politics

There is a mental disorder called Borderline Personality Disorder. It is best characterized by the phrase "I hate you don't leave me!" There is no comma in that phrase as common English grammatical rules would call for because there is no pause when someone with BPD says it.

Other characterizations include very black/white thinking. You either intensely love and or adore someone/thing, or you just as intently hate or despise the same person/thing. There is no in-between and vacillating from one side to the other can be rapid and random.

No person is 100% angelic or demonic. The most famous people in history, either beloved or reviled had done both wonderful and horrendous things in their life.

I bring this up because I see this in many people concerning the current Presidential horse race. They revere without reservation one candidate and revile with equal emotion the other candidate.

As Dave Ramsey says, "Pull your head out of your politics." Both of the major candidates have serious issues. Don't vote for a person because of what party they ascribe to, nor their personal plumbing. I suggest your take Mrs. Corsale's advice.

Mrs. Corsale was my Geometry and Trigonometry teacher in High School. When she was in college, she had three suitors after her hand in marriage. Being the extremely analytical math nerd she was, she used math to decide which suitor to pick. She wrote a list of every quality she wanted in a husband. She then wrote a list of every quality she didn't want in a husband. She gave each suitor a point for every quality they had on the first list, then deducted a point for every quality they had on the second list. She married the guy with the highest total.

We are going to be stuck with either Trump or Kane for the next few years. If what I have been reading about Hillary's condition is true or pretty close, if she gets elected she won't survive her first year in office. While what she has in and of itself is not fatal, it will probably kill her through complications, one of her "falls" or she will deteriorate to the point she won't be able to perform her duties.

All I ask is you look at their accomplishments. If you don't like either, consider the Libertarian or Green Party. Think for yourself and don't let soundbites from either side make up your mind for you.

I don't need anger management

This is not going to end how you think. Really.

I don’t have anger issues, really. I am very laid-back, happy and deferential when it comes to 99% of my interactions with people. That last 1% however can screw up and put a negative spin on the rest of my day.

I have been on “that side” of the phone, as a CSR (Customer Service Representative) and help desk. I always tried to be helpful and giving of information and resources. It seemed to me that giving the information would improve the customers’ experience. Some help desk/CSR banks though have intentionally gone the other way. This department of this company seems to ascribe to the “Piss them off so they won’t bother us” school of thought.

My work history has been unsteady lately. Out of the past 31 months, I have been unemployed 14 months and underemployed (30% base pay cut compared to the 5 year job plus no benefits) 17 months. When I got the underemployed job, I worked with the bank that holds my car note to fold the three payments I was behind into the end of my loan. The lady I worked with was sweet, kind, attentive and caring. Six months ago, I had to file for bankruptcy because my expenses were more than my income. Being severely underemployed will do that to you. Due to various delays I have not fully discharged the bankruptcy yet.

I covered all of that so you have the context of my call transcript below. I am now (again) three car payments behind. So I called the bank again and was routed without choice to the bankruptcy department because I am still in Bankruptcy.

Me: Hello, I am calling because I am three payments behind on my car and I need to speak with someone about what I can do to roll those payments onto the end of my loan.

CSR: We don’t do that here.

Me: I did this exact thing back in December 2014. What do you mean ‘we don’t do that here’?

CSR: We don’t do that here.

Me: Okay, what you're saying is the Bankruptcy department can’t do that, I understand. Who would I have to talk with to make this happen?

CSR: We don’t do that here.

Me: [Looking for my ball-peen hammer]
Me: […pauses to keep from shouting…]

Me: Could you please volunteer some information so I don’t have to be extremely pedantic and exacting in my questions in order to try and gain some information you have that could solve my issue???

CSR: You have to reaffirm your debt to get it out of this department.

Me: [Found the ball-peen hammer, debating to use it on the phone or my head]
Me: […pauses some more to keep from shouting…]

Me: IF YOU INSIST THAT I MUST BEG AND GROVEL FOR EVERY LITTLE PIECE OF INFORMATION FROM YOU, how in the hell do I reaffirm the debt?

CSR: Your lawyer must fill out and return the appropriate paperwork to us.

Me: [Sarcastically] THANK YOU. I just want to tell you that you could have prevented the last five minutes of my life from being excruciatingly painful merely by being slightly forthcoming in the information. If you had said the first time you opened your mouth, ‘We can’t do payment rollovers in this department. The loan has to be transferred out after you reaffirm the debt.’ I would have been understanding instead of aggravated.

Me: Now that we got that out of the way, is there a way you could inform me if you are about to take my car for non-payment?

CSR: No.

Me: [Puts hammer down. Looks for a power drill with a paddle bit to drill on myself]
Me: “Bye.” [Hangs up]

At that point in time I was aggravated to the point I was going to call into question in a very detailed and graphic manner the genetic relations of her prior three generations and use very impolite language. Normally I would do this and use language suitable at a ladies afternoon cotillion but I was rushed and not in the right frame of mind.

I didn't, because at the last second before I opened my mouth I realized she could have been under orders to not be helpful (yes, there are help desks that do that). Maybe she had a bad day herself and my yelling at her and belittling her more than I did wasn't going to improve the attitude of either one of us.

I learned a while back that in any interaction I have with another person I should always ASSUME GOOD INTENTIONS. This means that I should never think the other person is intentionally trying to ruin my day. That does not preclude that they might be a mean person, however you should always assume that the other person is fighting a battle you will never learn about. This bad news will affect how they interact with others, but you should never let their attitude spread to you then you take that and hurt others.

I illustrate this point using a story from Stephen Covey:

Stephen was coming home on the subway, trying to unwind after a stressful day. At one stop a man gets on with several children. The man seemed unconcerned that his children were running up and down the car, screaming, fighting with each other and being very unruly. Stephen walked over to to the man to tell him to control his children, but at the last second something in the mans demeanor gave him pause. Instead, Stephen sat down next to the man and asked, "What happened?"

The man replied that he and his children were heading home from the hospital, where his wife and the children's mother had just died a few minutes ago. Stephen's attitude changed 180 degrees from "yell at him for not controlling his children" to "How can I help?"

I apologize to the lady I spoke with. It was my failure of control that caused me to be upset and yell at her. I try to leave every person I encounter better than how I found them. I failed with you.

9/11 and Occam's Razor

After any 9/11 anniversary, I get edgy around people who think the Towers falling was an "inside job." They post meme's like this one to try and convince the unknowlegeable that there is a hidden and more complex reason why they fell. They never try to take into account Occam's Razor to explain why.

 

911 meme


I am going to straighten the record out in clear, plain and unmistakable language that a 3rd grader can understand.

Source onesource two, source three. Please, read them.

First rest off, the Towers were basically giant Jenga towers. Perfectly stable as they were built and designed to withstand "off-axis forces," such as an aircraft impacting the building, a massive hurricane or even an earthquake. The Towers were also meant to withstand an out-of-control fire for up to three hours as well so everyone could get out safely. The Towers DID survive the impact of the aircraft.

Second, the base steel used (there were 12 types) in the construction was A36 steel. That grade of steel does indeed melt at 2,750 degrees, and jet fuel does indeed burn at 1,500 degrees.

But that's not the whole truth.

A36 steel (which has a structural strength of 36,000 pounds per square inch) does indeed turn into a liquid at 2,750 degrees. However at the lower temperature of 1,500 degrees, it loses half of its structural strength, well below the temperature that it becomes liquid. There were also other materials burning in the fire as well. Such a conflagration would have caused an updraft, which would have somewhat raised the temperature and increased the intensity of the fire.

Again, the designers of the tower anticipated an event with the same effect in their design, so that the Towers would stand long enough to get everyone out safely. What they didn't anticipate was that the aircraft would dislodge the layers of fire protection covering the structural members. This allowed the heat to get to and soften the structural members.

The result is like when you pop a balloon full of air or water. As soon as that one section of the balloon is punctured, the structure of that part of the balloon fails and transfers it's load to what's left. This is what happened in the Towers. A couple of structural members were destroyed by the initial impact. The surrounding uncompromised members became soft and weak from the heat of the fire because the insulation was knocked off and the heat could get to the steel. Once the weakened structure members became soft enough that they could no longer hold the weight on them, the members failed and dumped that stress and weight to the unaffected structural members. They now had more stress and weight they could handle and snapped. Because that's what A36 steel does when it's stressed with over 36,000 PSI.

When the overloaded floors snapped, they dumped the entire load of the upper building onto the next lower floor. This caused the lower floor to "pancake," suddenly squishing out all of the air, windows and loose items from that floor, making it look like there had been an explosion. This cycle repeated for each floor until all of the now-rubble came to rest.

Now, if you think the Towers were "a demolition job," watch this video:

Watch the time, work and planning it took to successfully drop that building. If you think that kind and scale of work can go on for a couple of weeks or months without anyone noticing, you're an idiot.

Another thing to consider, was how it was possible for two barely-trained pilots to hit a very specific spot perfectly to cause this whole chain of events? If the aircraft had hit too high or too low, the Towers might not have fallen. This is why Occam's Razor beats any massive conspiracy.

When you want to decide and go public on something, please have all of the facts in proper context before you blindly offer someone else's opinion.

Sitting down for what you believe in

I want to say this on Colin Kaepernick's sudden decision to not stand for the National Anthem.

I fully support him for his decision. I served so that he has the freedom to have the choice to stand or not on those occasions. His reasons are his reasons which are good enough for him. I don't know his motivations and quite frankly I don't care what they are.

I also fully support those people who have decided to destroy their team merchandise with his name or likeness, to stop buying merchandise with his name or likeness and in general loudly voice their displeasure over this action.

I do NOT support those people comparing Kaepernick to other NFL players who left the NFL and joined the military, implying that he is "less of a man" or "a coward" for not joining the military. The military life is not for everybody.

It does not matter one way or the other to me if Kaepernick keeps his job or is let go because of this PR scofflaw. I don't do sports any more, despite being raised in the Dawg Pound long before it was called that.

Consequences are the inevitable result of our choices. There are good and bad consequences. Learn, realize and accept that.

Unfinished business

I lost an acquaintance the other day, his name was William Duty. He died unexpectedly at 51 years old. He had just walked out of a gym, sat down in his car and died, just like that. My relationship with him is unusual, because we first met in Guam in 1989, then we managed to cross paths again in Memphis 7,500 miles away and 25 years later.

Will was not only in my division when we were stationed in Guam, we also saw each other on Saturdays at the nearby Andersen AFB in the Project Warrior wargaming club. Our tours overlapped by about six months (I arrived in June 1989, he left about Christmas 1989). Here in Memphis, we usually saw each other at board gaming meetups. When I first bumped into him several years ago, we didn't realize who the other was. I lost hair, he grew out his hair and a beard and we both gained weight. It took me talking about my time in Guam that he overheard and we started talking and realized we knew each other. In fact, a very close friend of mine Bill Weldon who followed me from Hawaii to Guam a few months later, ended up in Will's shop and Will trained Bill.

The last time we saw each other, I was talking about when Project Warrior as a group crossed a Modern D10 land wargame (I forget the name) and Battletech. I was playing Commander of the Battlemech lance (4 'Mechs) and Will was coordinating fire with a platoon of APC's armed with FOG-M's (Fiber Optic Guided Missiles). Those damn FOG-M's were killing a 'Mech a turn and were out of sight and way out of range for me.

I titled this "Unfinished business" because I still have a newsletter from Project Warrior and I promised to scan it and send him a copy. I don't think my email can reach into the next world. Will, you will be missed by many people.

William Duty

Good night, Mr. Garibaldi

Babylon 5 is my favorite TV show. It had characters with real flaws, who dealt with real-life issues and the episodes were not interchangeable, like "Brand X" (Star Trek). This series taught me that "You must do the right thing for the right reasons. If you do the right thing for the wrong reasons, you will corrupt and destroy the good you have created."

I learned yesterday that Jerry Doyle, the actor who played Chief Warrant Officer Michael Garibaldi, died suddenly at age 60. He joins Andreas Katsulas (G'kar), Richard Biggs (Dr. Stephen Franklin) and Jeff Conaway (Sgt. Zack Allan) in the Great Unknown.

While probably many people who watched B5 identified with the characters Sinclair or Sheridan (for the ladies Ivanova or Delenn), I always identified with Garibaldi. He didn't take any guff, he was very passionate and didn't compromise his principles. Garibaldi had a clear sense of right and wrong and a strong loyalty to his friends. He took care of his friends and was very indirect on how he exacted revenge against those who hurt him. Out of all of the scenes with Mr. Garibaldi, this one is the one I like the best:

The only loose end not tied up by the series end was how Garibaldi took care of Bester. After some research, I found out that Garibaldi (after the no-harm block was removed) pursued Bester. In the end, Garibaldi left Bester alive, in prison and stripped of his telepathic abilities.

Good night, Jerry. You will be missed.

 

The blade has fallen

After an afternoon and evening running errands in and around Memphis today, I come back home and on my way into the house, I picked up the mail, which included a letter from the Grand Lodge F & A M of Tennessee. I have been waiting for and dreading this letter for some time.

The important part reads,

The defendant was found guilty of the charges and will receive the sentence of 'Expelled from Masonry' as of July 19, 2016.

I love this country and what it stands for so much that I spent 13 years serving it, ready to lay down my life if called upon. I love Masonry more. I felt it was necessary for me to make this stand because Masonry taught me to never compromise my character.

If I seem angry, short-tempered or more sarcastic than usual, this is why. I ask for your forgiveness.

My take on Global Climate Change

This particular article has been running around in my head for a while. It wasn’t until recently that I found the video clip below that I felt I needed to drive home the point I want to make.

Just to be clear, when I talk about “Global Climate Change” (as in Capitalized) I mean the “Man-made climate disaster” kind of thing.

To start off, I would be a fool if I did not believe in the fact that the Earth’s climate is changing. The climate as a whole is changing every day, like a shoreline. The climate ebbs and flows, just like the ocean tide coming in and going out twice each day. It does, trust me. I’m a sailor and have navigated boats and ships upon the ocean.

I would also be a fool if I believed that mankind alone is the sole or major player in that climate change. A change of a few degrees of temperature on the Sun, or the eruption of a volcano has at least the same and probably more impact on the global climate as all of us put together.

I admit that Mankind burning all of these fossil fuels does have some impact. How much, I don’t know. All of these climate scientists can’t agree themselves and they have a lot better access to the data than I do.

I have been watching this debate since I was a teenager in the 70’s, I have discovered that published data supporting Global Climate Change to be very suspect. Over the years, I have seen reports about a single weather station and its data “proving” climate change. The bad news is that several years of the data in question was “reported” by that station before it was even built. I have seen other reports that satellite data has been “massaged” to support the “climate change” theory.

You see, I remember when these Global Climate Change scientists were yelling about Global Cooling in the 70’s. Their “solution” was to spread carbon dust over the poles to absorb more heat from the Sun. In the 90’s, Al Gore started to raise the alarm about Global Warming. Imagine how much worse that Global Warming would have been if we actually had covered the poles with carbon dust in the 70’s. Because these crackpot scientists really can’t make up their minds on if the Earth is warming or cooling (it’s actually doing both, at the same time), they did agree on finally calling it Global Climate Change because then it means whatever they want it to mean.

The weatherman on our local daily newscast uses the best climatological models and software money can buy, yet they have great difficulty predicting with any accuracy what the weather will be for a specific city more than three days in the future. I really have to ask, if these professionals can’t have more than a 30% accuracy for a specific location more than 72 hours into the future, how can other professionals be able to predict with any certainty what the climate will be like in fifty to one hundred years? I can assure you if the sunspot activity on the Sun drops or jumps dramatically, or there’s an unanticipated volcano eruption that these Global Climate Change scientists didn’t predict, all their models go right out the window.

I personally believe we are like fleas jumping up and down on the back of an elephant. We think we are affecting things but really we are not.

To those people who believe that we should either drastically cut back or stop entirely our use of fossil fuels, I want to give you a Magic Button that will instantly stop all production and use of all fossil fuels. I am not going to use half-way measures like the Kyoto Protocol because that will not stop the damage, only prolong it.

The following clip is from the 1952 movie Above and Beyond. The man in question is Lieutenant Colonel Paul Tibbets, the man who piloted the B-29 Enola Gay that dropped the atomic bomb Little Boy on Hiroshima Japan. I have edited this clip, which is why it jumps.

Lt. Col Tibbets pressed that button on the incomplete knowledge that he could stop WWII the next day by pressing that button, killing over 100,000 people in the process. He didn’t know how it would be done, only that it became a very real possibility if he pressed that button.

I now offer you that button, giving you the knowledge that if you press it, the current ecosystem will most likely survive as is and could recover. There will also be large-scale human deaths involved. If you don’t press it, things will go on the way it’s going right now.

Now if you don’t press the button, I would have nothing further to describe, so for the sake of argument, let’s say you do press the button and stop all production and use of fossil fuels. To start off with, cities of any size are for lack of a better term black holes. Every city has to pull in everything it needs every day from the surrounding area at a minimum and the world as a whole because it cannot provide basic necessities for human life without outside resources.

So when we press that Magic Button, the first thing we notice is the lights will go out. That means no light at night beyond candles, no heat when it’s cold beyond burning wood in your fireplace and certainly no air conditioning when it’s hot. Yes there is nuclear, solar and hydroelectric power generation methods, but in the United States they are a small fraction of the total power output and thus not worthy to mention.

No power also means no computers, no Internet, no Television. Oh, sure, some things that are battery powered will go on for a day or so, unless you have a solar recharger to keep it charged. And really what good will that laptop, cell phone or tablet do for you for you if there is no cellular network and no Internet?

The second thing you will notice is deliveries have stopped. That means no more Amazon packages delivered daily by UPS, FedEx or DHL. No more mailman. No more trucks delivering food and the thousand other sundry items you use every day without noticing into your city or town. Once your pantry is empty, what are you going to do? All your money is in the bank, tied to your debit card. Since the cash registers and ATM’s don’t have power, you can’t buy food.

By the way, the government is not coming to help you. Instead of being exempted from burning fossil fuels, your Magic Button affected them as well. There is no cavalry coming over the hill in the nick of time to save you.

You, and millions of others who are used to the city life now face two choices. You can either starve to death in place, become bandits killing others for their supplies, or you can migrate on foot out to the rural areas where you will likely die on the way by the hands of bandits or others fleeing as well. If you’re lucky you might make it to a farm to become serfs of the farmer. You work and tend his crops for a share of the food. You better hope if you’re female the landowner does not know what droit de seigneur means.

If you live in an area without farms nearby, you might survive off the land long-term, but the odds are against you because there are thousands trying to do the same thing.

By pressing that button, you have realistically killed over 200 million people in the United States alone. World-wide, most of the people in cities and developed countries will die.

Out of the 7.2 billion people living on Earth right now, you would kill at least 3-5 billion people, condemning them to death from food riots or starvation, all because you want to “stop Global Warming.” You would knock us back to a pre-Industrial Revolution way of life.

Congratulations! You have outdone many times over the total efforts of Stalin, Mao, Hitler and Pol Pot put together. You should be proud of yourself. You name will be remembered for the rest of Mankind. I do not know if your name will be remembered with praise or as a curse.

Ineffective punishment

I started writing this post at the beginning of the month. Due to blog issues it was lost twice. One last try, because this is important.

The start of July 2016 saw the deaths of two Black men which were partially caught on video. One was a career criminal, who was killed by police while resisting arrest. One was a positive influence in his church and community, who died due to a tragic miscommunication between himself and the officer. I grieve for these dead men, the officers involved and all of their families and communities.

While I do not fault the Black community for being outraged over these two deaths, I have to ask this: every week, forty-eight Black people are killed across this country in Black-on-Black violence with nary a peep from social media, nor the national-level media. Even the local media covers it like "Yeah, another 3 Black people were killed and 12 wounded in weekend violence. Stay tuned, we'll report this again next week." I then see the local Black leaders hold prayer vigils and call for the end of violence.

And not a damn thing happens, except more young Black people are killed. If you want to solve a problem (i.e., the scores of Black deaths), I suggest you break down the problem and then with all of your effort go after the biggest issue.

The federal government cannot solve this issue. Nor can the state government, nor county/city government. They can be part of the solution, however the People must take action if this is truly to be solved.

This is what I see:

  • A Black culture that glorifies violence in its many forms.
  • A Black culture that punishes advancing in life.
  • A broken prison and parole system.
  • A community who fails its citizens.
  • A surplus of idle hands.

I refuse to paint this issue with a broad brush. This is not "all Blacks" or any other nonsense. This is a very specific segment of the Black population. To change how society handles them is a task that falls on all of us. To changes themselves, that must come from within them.

I want to start out saying the majority of Black families (single-parent and nuclear) want and push their children to learn, gain knowledge and succeed in life. These parents are to be commended for their actions.

When I hear Blacks roll by me in their cars, blaring Rap music I get sad. Most of the Rap music I hear uses all kinds of derogatory and dehumanizing terms towards women, as well as advocating violence and illegal activity. I understand this music is a reflection of their daily lives. That does not preclude those same Rap artists from focusing on the positive aspects of the lives of those people. When it comes to advancing in life, there is a portion of the Black population that punishes other Blacks for wanting to succeed. If a Black schoolchild is studying to be a professional (either white-collar or skilled), they are punished by their peer group for "wanting to be White." The result, an untrained young Black person lacking the foundation of knowledge to operate effectively in this society and is unhireable for anything more than grunt work at minimum wage. The males are forced into illicit activities to provide income, thus dying early in gang violence or spending most of their lives in prison. The women survive by popping out babies to get on Welfare.

Make no mistake about it, what I have just described is a small percentage of the Black community. That being said, it is this sliver of the population where most of the violence and lawlessness comes from.

The ideas I am about to describe to you will not be easy. Nothing worth having ever comes easy. It will not be a fast solution. This is a "crock pot" solution versus a "microwave" solution. If the proper effort is consistently applied, it will take at least 20 years before meaningful change happens.

The prison system has to change. The current prison system is not designed to rehabilitate. It is designed to crush the mind, spirit and body of the prisoner. Yes, there are isolated programs to teach felons trades, but they are just that, isolated. A trade school program to certify these men and women in lucrative, marketable skills is essential, both in High School (so they don't get into the justice system in the first place) and prison (so they have skills to keep them out of prison).

The parole system has to change. Right now a felony conviction ruins a person for the rest of their lives. It cuts off most of their opportunities and relegates them to the low-paying, unskilled labor which almost guarantees their re-entry into the justice system. There needs to be a universal incentive for businesses to hire first-time felons who acquired those marketable skills and put them to work.

Society has to "disavow" its criminals. Up until the Civil War, miscreants (defined as depraved or villainous) who caused too much trouble in a town or village were "ridden out of town on a rail." Let me show you want that meant.

This is a fence rail. notice how the top rail is actually pretty much square in its cross-section.

fence rail

Because our colonial ancestors didn't have the time or equipment to make their fence rails fancy, the old-fashioned and simplest way was to quarter a log, like this:

quarter log

So when someone was "ridden out of town on a rail," the townspeople stripped the miscreant naked, then carried him to the edge of town on said fence rail, lifted upon the shoulders of two men. The rail was positioned with the point upwards (as shown) and the miscreant straddled the rail. I think the terms "extremely painful" and "wood splinters in the genitals and crotch" would be accurate regarding said ride. Tarring and feathering (coating the miscreant with liquid tar then covering him with feathers) usually accompanied the "traveling by rail," either before or after. Below is an image from the book Huckleberry Finn describing such an incident. Notice the miscreant has already been tarred and feathered.

traveling by rail

The whole purpose of this exercise was to "encourage" the miscreant to either conform to the socially acceptable behavior of the town or move on down the road to the next town.

Today, we lack the necessary plethora of strong men and fence rails. That being said, the mother of a criminal who performed a drive-by should not be on TV saying, "He's a good boy!" Your "good boy" shot 20+ bullets into a house full of people because he didn't like one of them, killing three including a toddler. This criminal, violent sub-section of our society needs to be forcefully ejected from town and be told in no certain terms, "Don't come back." Everyone in the neighborhood knows where the drug houses are and who the gang-bangers are. I also know the gang-bangers are well-armed and have zero compunction against shooting you in the head, then sitting on your still-warm body and eating lunch. The gang-bangers will be run out of town when the people in those neighborhoods throw them out despite their fears.

I am not advocating violence except as a last resort. If you can run the gang-bangers out of town without anyone getting hurt, I'm all for it. Absent that outcome, the most extreme option might be for our neighborhoods to gather together at 2 am to throw Molotov cocktails into the windows of every drug house and shoot everybody who escapes the flames. Gang-bangers are a cancer in our cities and towns. Surgery to remove the cancer must be performed, amputation if necessary. I understand the actions and consequences of these actions and I do not say this lightly.

Once the criminals are flushed, then businesses can come into the depressed neighborhoods and start offering jobs. The jobs can be right there or shuttle service could be offered. I don't know how exactly it would play out. When the Black population from these poorer neighborhoods divest themselves from the criminal element, acquire a positive and drug-free attitude, the jobs are there. I know of one factory in my city that is short-handed, simply because many of the job applicants can't pass a drug screening.

Learning must be equated with prosperity. Once these prior changes are well into effect, then the Black culture needs to start associating learning, knowledge and skills with success and affluence rather than just sports ability or how well they can write and perform Rap music.

I for one want everybody to succeed without regard to their skin color, sex, ethnic heritage, socioeconomic background or anything else. Everybody has a different vision of success. While some want to strike it rich, become a CEO and make a Billion dollars a year, others may want to meet their monthly expenses, save for retirement and spend every evening at home with their family. I'm all for you deciding what you want.

My apologies

Over the past week, if you have noticed some interruption in the access or quality of this website, that's because I have been trying to improve my administration of it using a Content Delivery Network (CDN). This service is designed to improve security against malicious bots and improve page loading time. Because of how it works, I cannot use my testbed website for testing and working out bugs and other issues. It turns out that there were several IEDs in this CDN road and I hit them all.

I have brought this website back off the CDN and I will try to work with them to get it working. Once I get this CDN issue resolved and working, I will let you know who this provider is, how I was treated and whom I eventually ended up with.

Men are brutes

I found this article on a friends FB feed. It does have some food for thought: One group is responsible for America’s culture of violence, and it isn’t cops, black Americans, Muslims or rednecks. It’s men.

I am actually going to quote the last paragraph first, because what it says is very important:

The reality is that we don’t know exactly why men are exponentially more prone to violence. If we are going to reduce mass shootings, officer-involved killings and the culture of violence in America, however, we need to talk about it.

I bring this up right away because this paragraph is full of fallacies. I will break it down to show you:

The reality is that we don’t know exactly why men are exponentially more prone to violence. Yes, we are pretty sure and the author hits the nail on the head earlier in the article:

Some evolutionary psychologists say that more aggressive men have historically been able to procure more women, food and land.

I have said this before, the preservation and expansion of one’s genetic heritage is our base biological reason for existing. Men do this by wanting to impregnate as many women as possible, thus ensuring their genetic heritage by quantity. Women preserve their genetic heritage by trading unrestricted sexual access to one male in return for the protection by that male of themselves and their children, thus preserving their genetic heritage through quality of breeding and increasing the chance of the individual child to survive to adulthood.

If we are going to reduce mass shootings, officer-involved killings and the culture of violence in America… This is not an American problem, it’s a world-wide issue. You want to talk about a “culture of violence”? Shall we talk about Honor Killings? You may also not realize this, chattel slavery is happening right this second. Over six million people are currently chattel (permanent property, as opposed to Indentured for a number of years) slaves across the globe. Don’t whine about ancient history (antebellum slavery in the United States) when it is current events.

When we talk about “officer-involved” killings, the causes are extremely varied. From the “You’ll never take me alive copper!” kind of criminal to the resisting arrest that escalates to deadly force, to the miscommunication between the police and citizen that leads to the death of the citizen. When a police officer invokes violence or death upon a citizen, it should be investigated and upon conviction in a court of law, harshly punished.

[W]e need to talk about it. The issues and societal causes that lead to these outcomes are varied, complex and should be talked about.

You better buckle your seatbelts, because that’s pretty much the end of my agreement with Ms. Melissa Warnke, the author of this article.

Let me quote the first paragraph of Ms. Warnke’s article:

On Thursday morning, a fire alarm in the Los Angeles Times’ building went off. Fortunately, the dozens of office alarms I’ve heard over the years have always been drills or misfiring systems. For the first time, instead of begrudgingly grabbing my belongings and traipsing downstairs, I was afraid. For the first time, the thought in my mind wasn’t “drill” but “shooter.”

I am currently analyzing all of the data from the Mass Shooting Tracker website and I have all of their data on “mass shootings” from 2013 until a few days ago. I am currently going through the news articles related to over 1,200 incidents from 1/1/2013 on to “drill down” and get more information beyond the date, city and the numbers of dead and wounded.

I will say that out of those 1,267 incidents, 231 meet the current FBI definition of “Mass Shooting” (3 or more dead). This was over a period of 1,287 days, which works out to be about one every 5.5 days. Out of a population of 300+ million Americans, this means the chances of someone being involved in an “active shooter situation” is extremely remote. Armed with this knowledge, I believe an instant association between the fire alarm and “active shooter” borders on the irrational.

Could it have meant “active shooter?” Yes, because anything is possible. Was it likely? To tell you the truth, an "active shooter" situation in the LA Times building is more likely than that building getting hit by a meteor, which is very, very remote. Should you prepare yourself mentally and physically for such an event? Yes, because being prepared that way will also be of benefit to you in many other situations as well. If you are able to carry a weapon in your state/city, should you? That is something you have to decide, I won’t tell you that you should or shouldn’t. I do believe you should, however, have that option available to you.

Ms. Walke then goes on to mention in passing an article by author Ta-Nehisi Coates titled “the enduring myth of black criminality.” I assure you, I found this intriguing and worthy of much analysis and comment to come later.

The main thrust of Ms. Walke’s article then states:

What we don’t talk about is how the greatest predictor of violence isn’t religion, occupation or race. It’s gender.

In the United States, 98% of those who commit mass shootings are male; 98% of the officers who have shot and killed civilians are male; 90% of those who commit homicide by any means are male; and 80% of those arrested for all violent crimes — murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault — are male.

She then talks about how few times women kill. I will agree with her points here somewhat. Women by and large kill only out of that biological imperative to preserve their offspring. Because they are less strong as men, they use guile and cunning (or superior firepower) to bring their victims to their deaths.

I can only conclude from the main point of the article that “men are the source of all of the violence in the world.” I get the impression that in her perfect world, we must eliminate all testosterone from all men (that evil, aggressive hormone), or failing that, just eliminate men entirely.

This idealized view of men and women belies and denies the base nature of each sex. To ask men not to be aggressive and violent is like asking a hunk of granite rock to not be solid, hard or heavy.

Men for the most part are aggressive and violent only when necessary. Women for the most part are nurturing and communicative. These aspects in isolation do not advance or enhance our progress and society. When these aspects are combined, when we work together, the synergistic effects are fantastic.

I think Ms. Walke and I can agree that unchanneled aggression is where the major problem lies. An elimination of those societal aspects that leaves men idle would be instrumental in the significant decrease of that unwanted aggression.

This is why...

I'm not allowed to cook.

In 1988, when I was still freshly married to my bride, she demanded that I assist her in preparing our meals. So one evening she called me into the kitchen, handed me a bulb of garlic and a cleaver and told me to crush a couple of cloves. Not knowing the difference between a clove and a bulb, I put the entire bulb down and got ready to crush it. She screamed "NO!!!" then broke off a couple of cloves. Again, not being versed in the Way of the Kitchen, I then exerted my entire force on these cloves of garlic, reducing them to an unusable mess. She banished me from the kitchen at that point.

In 2013, while Junior Warden of my Masonic Lodge, I was carrying out my duties as JW by doing the cooking for my brothers at Lodge meetings. I told them before they elected me to this position, "Many people have eaten my cooking and have gone on to live normal lives." They thought I was joking. I ended up choking on a pork steak I cooked and spent twelve days in the hospital, five of them in ICU. I have a dead leg from my cooking.

Tonight, both my bride and son were unable to prepare dinner. My bride told me to fix some Red Beans and Rice with Bratwurst. Simple, right? So you think...

I was instructed to use two boxes of RB&R, each of which the instructions called for three cups of water. Everything seemed to be going to plan, except that 15 minutes after the called for 35 minute cook time, there was still lots of water in the pot with the RB&R. It was at this point that I realized that the measuring cup I used to measure the water didn't hold one cup, but two... I put twelve cups of water in the pot, not six.

In the end, dinner was overcooked, wet and tasteless RB&R. The brats were just as tasteless, as the beer I added to the water for flavor had boiled off in the extra cook time.

After dumping half of her dinner in the trash, my beautiful bride of twenty-seven years told me, "I would rather starve than eat your cooking again." I'm not sure how I should feel about this...

Matt & Liam

Like Matt Damon cares, but I for one will never, ever again patronize a movie he makes where his character is armed. Why? Because he seems to be a typical Hypocritical Liberal Elite like Liam Neeson. ‘Jason Bourne’ star Matt Damon calls for U.S. to ban guns ‘in one fell swoop.’

These people insist that citizens not have the right to defend themselves, yet think it's perfectly acceptable to have armed security to protect them.

And just so all y'all know how the Australians regard personal security, I present this section of an ad from their buy back program after the Port Arthur Massacre in 1996:

 

Australian view of firearms

 

"Under the latest gun laws, personal and property protection are not longer considered acceptable reasons to possess any type of firearm..."

So, in Australia and Great Britain, you do not have the right or legal ability to defend yourself against any kind of aggressor. I don't think that concept will fly too well in the United States.

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Wisdoms To Live By

Be mindful of what comes between you and the Earth. Always buy good shoes, tires and sheets.