Sunday, May 20, 2018

Very prophetic

Last Thursday when I opened my morning email I found this in my inbox:

It wasn't an hour later when we first began to hear the news of yet another mass school shooting, this one in Santa Fe, TX that so far has claimed 10 innocent lives.  The NRA (which I am not a member of) has for a while now been advocating for at least some classroom teachers to be armed.   As you might imagine this has been met with much resistance from those who claim teachers are trained to teach, not to be armed security.  I, too, have had some reservations....until now.  Now I'm reluctantly on board with the idea. 

One of the main lessons learned from the Columbine school shooting back in1999 is that shooters must be confronted immediately.  Back then it took SWAT one hour and 50 minutes to muster, brief, and finally enter the school.  The killing was long since over before they got inside.  Speed of confrontation saves lives, and that has been the standard police response ever since....the first cop on the scene enters and engages.

I think back to the Dark Ages and the high school I attended.  As I recall we had five buildings on campus plus two parking lots, spread out over quite a few acres.  Today, due to budgetary constraints, there is probably just one School Resource Officer (SRO) patrolling that same campus.  What are the odds of that one officer being in the right building, on the right floor, at the right time, able to respond immediately to a shooter?  Now imagine how much better the odds would be if there were five armed, trained teachers or administrators scattered around the campus, plus that one SRO, available to respond?  With speed being of the essence, this could save lives!

Of course the key to this is making sure those adults on campus who volunteered were themselves thoroughly vetted and trained.  And not just trained once, but subjected to ongoing training until their response becomes automatic.  This muscle memory is essential as (so I've been told) when the shooting starts, people suddenly exhibit the IQ of a gerbil.  It would be a hefty responsibility these volunteers would take on, and there are serious coordination and liability issues that would need to be worked out, but again, it could save lives!

My state has allowed school districts to permit teacher carry for some time now, but so far I've heard of only a few rural districts who have done so, mainly because they know police response would take too long to do any good.  I think this is an idea that, sadly, should be strongly considered by every district.  Laws can be passed that restrict this or that, and they might be effective, but confronting shooters will definitely save lives.  We can't afford to just sit here and talk about it ad infinitium.  We need action.

I'm S, and I approved this message.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

British and European Car Show 2018

Visitors to today's British and European Car Show were greeted at the gate by Sir Winston and his nicely turned out Triumph TR3.

The day was gorgeous, the sun was hot, and the crowd was lovin' it.

I wasn't there when the awards were announced, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that this beautiful Triumph took home a top award.

This nice Morris Minor caught my eye.  I think it should have received more looks than it did.

Another of my favorites from the past was back again...a Saab Sonnet.  Tougher 'n a nail, and slower 'n a snail.

I'm always a sucker for an Isetta micro-car.  This one was nice, and colorful, too.

I have no idea how this Tuk Tuk qualifies as British, or European, or even a car for that matter, but I guess it was too unique to turn away.

But for my money, this Triumph GT6 is the one I'd like to have taken home.  It was a good day....the 2018 British and European Car Show.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

More construction stuff...

It rained yesterday so Jax and I didn't get to walk around the big construction site, but today we were back in stride.  Here is what has happened since Tuesday:

All the scaffolding is in place and now the big crane (I reeeeeeally wanna drive it!) is moving these concrete form panels into place.  I earlier thought they would be steel, but it appears they are lumber and plywood.  They will eventually all be tied together and leveled, rebar steel will be installed on top, then concrete will be poured.  That concrete will form the floor of the second level.  Then they start all over again...taller column extensions, more scaffolding, more concrete form panels, more steel....


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Pretty cool construction stuff....

I've been enjoying walking Jax around our neighborhood lake where I can get an up close and personal view of the construction site just feet away.

This is what the final product will eventually look like

To date they have these foundation columns in place.  They are setting up what looks like heavy scaffolding, which will hold up horizontal steel panels that a layer of steel reinforced concrete can be poured on top of.  When that concrete hardens (cures) they will take the scaffolding down, add on to the columns to make them another story taller, then reinstall the scaffolding for another layer of concrete, over and over, higher and higher, until the owner runs out of money.

Have you ever noticed these beautiful man-made "water features" inside many new developments?  I'll bet you thought it was so nice of the developers to go to such great lengths to beautify their projects, didn't you?  You would be wrong.

Here's what they're really for:  They're storm water retention ponds.  This is what they look like drained ^ .  In flat land like we have here, with everything paved over (parking lots, streets, buildings, etc), there is no place for rainwater to soak in.  Therefore developers dig these big "ponds" lined with decorative stone walls, then empty all the surrounding storm water collection drains into them.  That's what that big pipe just below wall height in the far right/center of the picture is. (There are several more you can't see also dumping water in.)  From here the water will drain into a larger city drain, then a creek, then a larger river, and eventually out to somewhere far, far away you'll never see.

They're currently draining our beloved neighborhood "lake" so they can install new storm water pipes into it to drain the new building site.  These look to be about 4' in diameter.  This is pretty heavy duty civil engineering stuff.

The bottom line is this:  developers don't do anything out of the kindness of their hearts.  Everything they do makes them money or they don't do it.  No "water feature" (storm water retention pond), no pretty landscaping, no zoning approval, no building permit, no payday.  Now you know.


Monday, April 23, 2018

Battle Of The Bullies

I, along with my fellow international relations scholar, Jax the Wonder Dog, recently sat down and put together our list of the three biggest bullies on the international scene today.  Here are our finalists:

North Korea's Kim Jong Un

Coming in at third place is Kim Jong Un.  He has been trying hard since his elevation to power back in 2011 to prove he is a worthy successor to his late father and grandfather, the two previous dictators of North Korea. They have all tried to elevate themselves onto the world stage by becoming a nuclear power, but it appears KJU is now on the cusp of actually succeeding.  

His spoiled-rich-kid's temperament has until now been to run his mouth, threatening to rain death and destruction down on America with his new toys.  He might, however, be thinking twice as President Donald Trump seems to be calling his bluff.  Between the economic sanctions we have against his country and what the Chinese have piled on with, too, not to mention the US 7th Fleet parked off his coast, he may soon be down to eating tree bark like the rest of his countrymen.  In his upcoming summit with Trump he might try to dance and shuffle a bit hoping to save a little face, but Jax and I think KJU will eventually have to retreat with his tail tucked.

President Donald Trump

Coming in with a solid second place showing is Donald Trump.  Donnie John has been oozin' for a brusin' since the day his former lawyer, the legendary Mafia consigliere Roy Cohen, taught him to Attack, Attack, Attack!  He, of course, didn't himself actually attack, but his lawyers and bodyguards did on his behalf.  Now he has Twitter that enables him to mouth off, and a Department of Defense to back him up as he recently showed by rearranging the debris formerly known as Syria.

That was likely enough to convince Kim Jong Un Trump could both talk and walk and scare him back into his hole.  Likewise, Trump's strutting to date will likely bring the pragmatic Chi Coms to the bargaining table to conclude some sort of new trade agreement with America.  (They have too many warehouses full of cheap junk they need to unload.)

Russian President For Life Vladimir Putin

And now, after serious deliberation, our 2018 World Champion Bully Award goes to *drum roll* Vladimir Putin!  That's right, rootin' tootin' Vladimir Putin backs down all opponents and detractors by forcing them to break eye contact, rigging elections, and as a last resort, dropping errant journalists who dare say mean things about him from their 5th floor balconies. 

If Vladimir Putin demands your lunch money, you'd better give it up!

Putin is an old school KGB street brawler, and the streets of Moscow and St Petersburg are tougher than those in New York or Washington.  He has the gumption, the muscle, hookers with hidden cameras, and the willingness to use them all, and that makes unblinkable Vladimir Putin once again the World's Biggest Bully.



Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Mom....make him quit saying mean things about me

People like to have their opinions validated.  If a car enthusiast buys a Porsche, or BMW, or Audi, he'll likely join their brand's car club, too.  He wants to hear others of like mind tell him how cool his car is and how smart he was to buy it.  If they see a magazine on the newsstand that implies their favorite car smoked the competition, he'll buy it.  If it says his car got creamed in a comparison test, he won't.

The same holds for politics.  A supporter of Elizabeth Warren or some other Progressive will probably choose to watch MSNBC and read the Huff Post.  Their go-to validator will be someone like Rachael Maddow.  Liberals can do no wrong; conservatives can do no right.  They're told what they want to hear, and they like it that way.

Ultra-conservatives work the same way.  They only want to hear and read things about Donald Trump that validate what they already believe.  They watch FOX News and listen to Rush Limbaugh.  They're told what they want to hear, they're patted on the back and made to feel all warm and fuzzy, and they like it that way.

So why were there raised eyebrows when it came out that Sean Hannity is also a client of President Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen?  Hannity is a shill for Donald Trump.  That's a fact.  Did anyone really expect him to seek out Whuppie Goldberg's lawyer?

So why was there a "courtroom gasp" when Hannity's name came out yesterday?  His faithful radical conservatives still love him, probably more than ever, and those liberals who believe him to be the devil incarnate will just dig in their heels deeper, too.  This is just the Fact-Free World we live in today.

Instead of all this political bickering, I propose that from now on we only talk about who has the best football team.  That should be something we can all agree on, right?  *wink*


Friday, April 13, 2018

If you have a complaint, go see our Complaint Manager, Helen Wait. That's right...go to Helen Wait.

Imagine this:  You decide you want a new flat-screen TV.  You're in Walmart and you notice they have a nice 75" Samsung priced for less than $1700, and they offer LAYAWAY.  Woohoo!  So you go to the service desk, fill out the paperwork, and make a down payment.  Every month you stop in and make a payment, and in mid-December you go in to make your final payment and pick up your new TV.  But instead of your expected 75" Samsung, they bring out this and hand it to you:

"Whoa! is NOT what I paid for" you say. 

"Sorry sir, but Walmart has realized they under-priced the TV they promised you, and this is all they'll be able to deliver for what you paid."


This, with little exaggeration, is where Social Security and Medicare are headed.  From the time you began your working career back in 19__ you have been putting money every payday into the Social Security Trust Fund, and Medicare via the Federal Insurance Contributions Act.  But the closer you get to receiving the social benefits you've already paid for, you'll hear "Oooo, sorry, but we may not be able to deliver what we've promised you."
Earlier this week the Congressional Budget Office issued their projection for the Federal budget deficit from now through 2028.  They say it will actually amount to $11.7 TRILLION DOLLARS ($1.6T more than they forecast just this past June).  That's a deficit of well over A TRILLION DOLLARS A YEAR, even after figuring in the increased economic growth that was supposed to make up for the tax cut shortfall.

Why so much?  Mainly for two reasons:  1, more people are reaching Social Security and Medicare age, resulting in more tax dollars being spent on those social programs; and 2, yes, reduced revenue to the Treasury due to last year's tax cut.   

You can't tell me Congress didn't see this coming when they voted a TRILLION dollar tax cut last year.  With all the data they had available they should have had no trouble projecting things like this 20 years ago.  But instead of adjusting taxes in anticipation of what was to come, they just kicked the can down the road for fear of losing votes right then.

Soon-to-retire House Speaker Paul Ryan has for years been the chief proponent of both cutting taxes and "reforming" Social Security and Medicare to make them more "sustainable"....that's the code word for "cutting benefits".  The two front-runners to replace him as Speaker are Congressman Kevin McCarthy and Congressman Steve Scalise (assuming Republican's keep control of the House of Representatives), both of whom share Ryan's vision.

But not to worry, they say those Americans now at or very near retirement age wouldn't be affected by any "sustainability" cuts.  Keep in mind these are the same folks who said all our money would be there for us when we retired, too. (Hmmm...could this be the impetus behind gun control?  Nothing scarier than a bunch of pissed off seniors running around with guns, right?)  *chuckle*

Just don't act surprised when, not if, it happens.