Tuesday, 12 December 2017

A Suggestion of Patterns

I sat and looked over this graphic today.  It does make sit and ponder 'patterns'.  

Saturday, 9 December 2017

That New Mexico Shooting

“Work sucks, school sucks, life sucks, I just want out of this s--t.”

-- William Atchison

This week....the twenty-one year old William Atchison wandered into his old high school....Aztec HS, New Mexico, and shot two students before killing himself in the bathroom of the building.

From all reporting done, it doesn't appear that he knew either kid that he shot.  They were just random picks.

News analysts spent a fair amount of time on the shooting, but the truth of the matter is that it was at best a eight-line story.  He had a legal weapon, and he had no real police record.  Nut-case?  No one suggests that...he probably was maxing out on depression at a ten, but that won't get mentioned much.

Classified as a mass shooting?  No....by FBI standards, you need four folks dead, and in this case...while he did shoot himself as well in the end, that only adds up to three folks.

I have this theory that a fair number of shooters are nut-cases....maybe in the forty-percent range.  Some are people who are drugged up and unable to account for their actions, and then there's this last group who are plain tired of life (suicidal). 

In the old days, you'd reach some desperation stage and just go off to handle the suicide by yourself....not involving other people.  There is some trend going on where people think that they need others involved for some odd reason.  Maybe it's the thought that people should have helped you or that some folks prevented you from reaching success in life. 

Making a law to halt this behavior?  Go for it.  People in this stage of thinking don't readily react to laws.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

The UN Dude

Once in a while, I'll notice a Alabama story which draws me to ponder.

So it came out in the news today....that some UN (United Nations) dude is planning a trip to Alabama this week to investigate.....poverty, inequality and "barriers to political participation". 

I looked at the item....roughly 12 lines.

This guy....Philip Alston....says he will visit a couple of places (Puerto Rico, West Virginia, and California are mentioned) on this 'road-trip'.

Where he intends to stop in Alabama?  Lowndes County....down in the south central region of the state.

Based on comments, he's got some folks lining up his schedule and prepared to hype up their poor situation in life, while living in Alabama.

How exactly he will help to change the poverty and inequality?  Well....that's the thing.  He's basically a nobody.  He'll write some report which will bring tears to your eyes, but he's basically going out to stay in some nice Holiday Inn situations....eat some high quality food....travel business-class....and spend a fair amount of travel funds.

You can imagine these folks trying to line him up and their hype?  Well....we are so poor, and bad-off.  He will have sit there for hours while these folks hype up their negative status in life.  When he asks about the barrier to their political situation...he'll do his best to ask how evil the Republicans are in the state and is there any way we can get more folks signed up to vote....because the more that vote....the more likely they would go and fix all the problems that exist in the world. 

It would be interesting if some Alabama folks would take him over for a catfish dinner, some Friday night football, a sip of whiskey, and offer up some advice on car mechanics....but that just won't happen.

Taxes

It's one of those statistics that news folks tend to skip.....roughly 45-percent of Americans don't pay anything on federal taxes.  It adds up to around 77-million households. 

They might have made enough in some cases to require the form submission, but when you add up credits....they zero out.

Oddly, I can go back all the way to 1978 and remember submitting my tax form in the spring of that period for five months of pay with the Air Force....feeling silly to waste time on filling out the form and to admit a total pay situation of roughly $5,000.  That was the only time in my life where I paid nothing.  I looked at the refund check as simply a 'gift'. 

I sat there in 1979....a year later, and figured I'd just repeat the whole episode, and that $400 of pre-paid tax-money would ALL come back to me.  I was wrong....I still ended up paying roughly $180 that year in taxes. It was an amazingly low amount of money but it just made no sense.

Are these 77-million households avoiding all taxes?  No.  They still meet up with property, car and sales taxes.  For a lot of them, they are still throwing a thousand dollars a year toward their state government in various ways.

If you think about this....no one in America is truly living a tax-free lifestyle.  Either through the federal folks, the state folks, or sales-taxes...you are paying into some pot.  It's virtually impossible to skip out entirely. 

Replacement for Conyers Topic

The 13th District of Michigan comes up in the news this week.  John Conyers, because of his harassment situation....will end up retiring.  So the seat will come up for 'action'.

The 13th District is 100-percent Detroit....roughly 705,000 residents....roughly 33-percent white and 55-percent black.  A typical election (every two years) would circle around 180,000 total votes cast, with Conyers typically winning with 85-percent of the vote.  In 2016, Conyers actually faced the toughest competition he's ever seen (he started in 1964 with 84-percent that year)....with the GOP guy getting almost 20-percent.

It's just about impossible for a Republican to win in the city election.

At this point, some folks are sitting there and looking at how this replacement game will run, and it gets pretty interesting.

First, John Conyers wanted his son to assume the seat.....John Junior.

Second, there's the nephew who has made a name for himself in state politics, and he says he will be running....Ian.

Third, Coleman A. Young....the 'secret' (illegitimate) son of the former mayor of Detroit says he will be running. He's actually been active in politics and done a number of speeches.  He actually tried running for the mayor's job but got beat out there.

Brenda Jones....the city council gal.

Benny Napoleon....the sheriff from Detroit.

Rashida Tlaib...politically active Muslim gal who is term-limited within the Michigan House of Representatives.

After that, there's maybe five or six others....but they don't have the traction like these six.

In a way, it's fairly odd election....all of the six are Democrats.  Each has some career role and can show their path.  The question is....if you shuffle up the 180,000 likely Democratic voters of the district, who are the likely final two?  Can Young use his name to captivate voters?  Can Tlaib find 40,000 votes from the Muslim crowd in Detroit to step up and get into the final primary?  Can Napoleon captivate voters with his speeches?  Can John Junior get dad to help in the election?  Can Ian Conyers find enough votes?

Might be an election worth watching.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Witch-Trials and Their Significance

My brother brought up the topic of 'Salem Witch Trials' today, and how most folks have no memory or a marginal amount of knowledge over them....when comparing it to the Moore episode in Alabama.

For the twelve years of school that I attended in Alabama....I think the total number of times that the 'Trials' were mentioned were probably twice.  If you gleaned the history books used....it usually amounted to eight to twelve lines.  The attempt by the teacher to explain this?  It would have come across to the group as nuclear science.

After the high school years....I went off and had the luxury of the University of Maryland, Louisiana Tech University, and Pierce Community College.  The topic of the Salem Witch Trials likely came up on one solid occasion and the lecture guy actually did spend thirty minutes laying out the basic story.  It was better than nuclear science explanations....but really didn't do justice to the story.

So a decade or so later.....I picked up two or three books and read through the entire episode and branched out....because it's more broad than folks think.

You can go back all the way to 451 BC and find locals in Greece who were open to the idea of blaming crop failures on bad spirits and pretender-witches.

You can go to 186 BC in Rome and find regulations already existing on how to handle witches.

After Christianity was introduced throughout the Roman Empire, the idea spread.  At some point around the 1100s, in Hungary....the King actually wrote out a regulation to halt witch-hunts because he just plain admitted....witches don't exist.  Folks didn't easily buy off on that.

In the mid-1200's, the Pope tried to stop all this business....also saying....witches don't exist.  That wasn't easily grasped by the general public.  Around two hundred years later, another Pope stood up and said yes.....we need witch trials because they exist.

In the 1500s and 1600s, throughout Europe, the trials took off and were a fairly regular thing.  I live around 15 miles from an area (Idstein) where the trials were regularly held in the fall, and some folks had to be killed to make folks happy.  In that town, they tended to kill women,  about eight to one over men.  No one could ever explain why women were often the chosen folks for these episodes.

In the Salem witch episode?  Around February of 1692, some accusations started the locals off on a mission with purpose.  You can safely say that this was...even before the accusations....a fractured town, with people trying to get into each other's business.

In the year prior, that had been some heated church-talk in the region by Cotton Mather (a Billy Graham-like character who could preach for hours and hours) on potential witchcraft, and this got people all hyped up.

So, two kids (nine and eleven) made the act of this....going into violent fits.  I think this was mostly to entertain folks but these locals actually took this serious.  This drew out some minister, who viewed the two girls, and he claimed that they were under the influence of the devil.  A couple of other young ladies then acted out the same way.

All of this led to three folks being detained and blamed for witchcraft.  There's no logic or sense to this.....just that locals needed to bring this quickly to a closure.

A month later, a couple of other young ladies were dragged in and were identified for witch business.

By early summer, court action was now underway and a prosecutor of sorts had to determine the intent of the devil here.

By mid-August, five folks were executed.

In September, around 18 other folks were dragged in and accused.  One of them was a guy who they asked him to plea and make an admission....while they put heavy rocks on his chest.  He eventually died from the weights on his chest.

By January of 1693, things were on a roll....more convictions.  Then, the Governor got involved and started to pardon folks.  In a way, he knew they were all unfocused and unable to grasp what was going on.

By early summer of 1693, the last court episode occurred, and everyone got 'sane'.

What you can typically say is that the witch trials were all based on some fake evidence, which got the general public all churned up and hyper.  The public at that point....could not grasp the landscape or understand the actual laws.  They just wanted a no-witch atmosphere, and were willing to kill to reach that point.

You would think that this would be a five-day detailed review in high school, with things laid out in detail.  Yet, no history teacher really wants to spend any time covering the topic.

Alabama and Moore

By midnight on the 12th of December, the Senate race in Alabama will be over.  Most folks (99-percent I think).....will say that it was the most entertaining race in their lifetime,.  Some will say that they'd like to see this yearly....strictly as entertainment.  So, my ten observations over this episode:

1.  Jones, the Democrat, never stood a chance.  If he'd been a Blue-Dog Democrat....lesser theatrics by the women involved...and someone other than Moore, he might have won.

2.  Of all the six-million characters in the state....to throw young-gal 'mud' at someone....the wrong character to pick upon and figure he'd collapse his election and just quit?  Moore would have been the last person to pick upon.  On the Alabama stubbornness scale, from one to ten.....Moore pushes a '12'.

3.  When the national comedians and talk-show folks jumped into this and felt that their gimmick would shift votes?  Oh, they were way-off in understanding the character of Alabama folks, and that people stay up at night to watch their late shows. 

4.  The power of the Baptist vote in the state?  Proven yet again....that it matters.

5.  Mitch anxiety among Alabama folks?  You can gather ten GOP-likely voters in a general store, and likely get some fairly negative comments uttered by six of them over Mitch McConnell. 

6.  That corrupt GOP image out of Montgomery, and left-over feelings about Governor Bentley?  Yes.  I would say a third of the outcome here for Moore....was anger about Luther Strange and his gimmick relationship with Bentley.  Without Bentley's lusty relationship and the whole deal worked out?  I think that Strange would have appeared somewhat clean, and Ivey would have allowed him to stay in DC.

7.  The black vote.  Well....if the Democrats had gone out and recruited early on some black candidate....I think it might have mattered on voting, and put another 250,000 votes up for their guy.  But this was not that type of race.

8.  The change in polling from three months ago and today?  None.  Polls that kept saying Moore was down?  Wrong. 

9.  Is Moore crazy?  I'd guess that 60-percent of GOP voters would say they'd prefer someone else, but it was Moore or Strange.  That's how we got to this point.

10.  Folks wanting to unseat Moore in DC?  Ask yourself....what exactly of an illegal thing, has Moore done?  Can you prove this point?  Want to drag the ladies up to DC and discuss their sexual escapes for public consumption?  You'd just be begging for trash talk by the public.