Sunday, 25 February 2018

The Neanderthal Story

This past week, a number of PhD folks in Europe decided to go ahead and agree that ancient cave paintings that were found in Spain a number of years ago with 'art'....were drawn by Neanderthal folks....approximately 64,000 or more years ago.

It's been a problem to admit this because they had this image of the Neanderthal folks as.....well....not quiet intellectual enough to draw fancy art like this, in this period 64,000 or more years ago.

The thing is....we aren't talking about vast numbers of paintings, which would lay out to 4,000 different Neanderthal folks over a period of time.

When you go and look at the different caves involved.....it's not that many.  So you come to this moment of pondering.  With a caveman group of forty-odd members, it's possible that you had only one single guy in some period of time, who seemed to be showing some flair for art.  Maybe as he matured and got ready to pass on....some Neanderthal kid took up the art idea and continued on....drawing on another wall of the cave. 

As time passed, maybe two less than accomplished guys.....Joe and Marty....talked at length one afternoon about the stout nature of some wild cattle in the region, and each felt the muscular dimensions were something worth admiring. Eventually, they retreated into the cave....took some fire along to light the way, and spent an hour drawing up their image.  After that evening....each of the cave group would come by at various times and admire the art.....comparing Joe's rendition against Marty's rendition.  Joe's art probably was criticized a bit, while Marty's art was viewed as 'modern' and looking more like the intended subject.  This probably set off a feud between Joe and Marty.....with one knocking the front teeth out of the other guy.

The thing is.....I doubt if Joe, Marty, or the sixty-other odd artists ever thought much over future admiring of their art.  The idea that 10,000 PhD guys now look daily over the art and render judgements would probably make Joe, Marty and rest a bit dazed of the admiration.

The other curious thing which you eventually start to think about.....this is simply the caves found so far.  There could be another thousand caves existing....where Joe and Marty draw nude pieces with Wanda and DeeDee....rather than animal pictures. 

Talk over Guns and Stuff

Prior to 1965....for a five-year period....there were between 600 and 700 murders a year in California.  In 1965...the numbers jumped 10-percent.  By 1970, they were up to 1,376 murders per year.  By 1980....3,411 murders per year.  By 1990, there were just over 3,500 murders per year.  In 1993, they finally peaked out just over 4,000 murders a year.  In 2016, they finally slipped back down to around 1,930 murders per year.

Why?  No one really discusses much on the trend line going up, or the trend line going down.  There's a fifty-year trend at work.

Part of the 1965 story could be GI's returning from Vietnam with drug issues and simply more prevalent drug use in California. 

Why did the 1993 number peak out and drop by half in a twenty-year period?  Again, no one says much.  My humble guess is that prison sentences went to the extent that you took a fair number of guys and removed them from the system.  Yes, oddly....the three-strikes rule started in 1994.  Journalists probably hate to admit that the law had that much affect but it does appear to represent part of the trend.

I came to this one odd topic in my reading today....a fair number of journalists want to use the term 'gun-death' when talking about individual states. They often want to put out low gun-death in states like California and New York....attributing their low numbers to strong gun laws. 

But you sit there and start to ponder.....if you had five-hundred assault-minded or threat-mined criminals who approached some house....attempted to enter or threaten harm.....and the five-hundred were shot dead....they fall onto this gun-death routine.  But obviously, they pretty much eliminated their desire to live by attempting a threat or harm to the innocent home-owner.  Does the gun-death statistic take that into consideration?  No.  That's an odd feature of this statistic. 

In the words of my brother on one moment of farm logic....some folks are just destined to die because of stupidity or bad behavior.  I would offer to that logic....we ought not be collecting statistics over such folks because it really won't lead to anything. 

Gone and Disappeared

It's a case which interests me.

Highly educated black guy....PhD in the medical field. Works for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention out of Atlanta.  Promoted last year to 'commander'.  Thirty-five years old. 

He felt sick....apparently leaving in the middle of the day around 12 Feb.  Then?  He disappears.

It's been two weeks.  Timothy J. Cunningham.

His parents flew down from the northeast to Atlanta.  He did drive home after stating the sick excuse for leaving, and parked the car in front of the house.  No evidence of a fight or such in the house.  Dog is sitting there.  Billfold is there.  Smartphone is there.  Keys here.  Car is out front.

Other than that....nothing else. 

No notes.  No suggestion of leaving the house.  Most dog owners would be dedicated to their pet and not leave the dog like this.  Same with walking out of the house without your keys....it just doesn't happen to most guys.

Cops?  They've put out pictures of the guy.  That's about it.  You would think phone calls would be checked and reviewed over the twenty-four hours before he disappeared.

My guess?  I would suspect that some neighbor took him in when he had a serious bout with the flu, and has quietly been nursing the guy back to health.  But you would be wondering about the dog, and the lack of keys.  Several things about this story don't fit.  It's like he stepped out the front door and just kept walking.  One other odd part to the story?  There are two windows in the open position as the family members arrived to check on his status.  This being winter, that makes it awful suspicious.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

The Lack or Loss of Maturity

One of the top ten all-time water-cooler discussions that I ever got into....occurred around 1998.  I was still in the Air Force and had some NCO visit from another base, and we were sitting in my office where he was explaining problem X, Y and Z with a particular airman that was in his office.

In roughly six months, this young airman (probably in the age range of 19 to 20) had arrived and gotten himself into twenty-odd issues.  This was a kid who'd been through basic training, done a minimum of five months in some technical training school, and spent a year at some base in the US, before arriving in Germany. 

Everything had to be debated.  The kid felt discipline or standards were intolerable.  The kid couldn't accept directions.  The kid felt the world was against him. A simple job required continual oversight.

The weight of this entire argument was that the maturity level you'd expect out of a nineteen-year-old guy, did not exist.  At best, this was a 12-year-old kid pretending to be an adult. I went over five or six of the points that this guest of mine had brought up, and each readily demonstrated 'kid-like' values.  This was all stuff that you would have left in the fifth-grade, and progressed onto the next three or four levels of life.  Since the kid wasn't improving, my suggestion was to dump him out of the Air Force as quickly as possible.

A couple of days passed by and my guest called and said that he didn't even have a chance to discuss my advice with the Commander....the Commander had already decided to move the kid to discharge-status.  It'd normally take a month or two to achieve this type of event.  The Commander had the paperwork finished by the end of the 4th duty day, and the kid was put on a plane back to the US by the fifth day of decision. 

I've often wondered what happened to the kid after that. He'd be approaching forty years old by this point.  He's probably stocking shelves at some grocery, or cutting grass for the local city parks department.

Over the past two or three years, I've approached the attitude that there are a heck of a lot of 12-year-old kids now pretending to be older teens, college-level kids, and even adults themselves.  I'd hate to assess the number but it's probably near ten-percent of the US population now that are immature and unable to act as adults.

They've lost respect.  They've lost dignity.  They've lost courtesy. 

Some are affected by legit drug usage.  Some are affected by just bad behavior.  Some want to impress you with their fifth-grade logic.  Some want to cite logic, while using illogic.  Some want to challenge your respect by denying you any respect.  And some are some great crusade for social justice....mostly heading in the opposite way, and away from actual social justice.

It's not a good society versus bad society thing.  It's just that theses kids never grew up and they've still got the fifth-grade view of life.  There are so many of them, that you have to interact with them at least a couple of times each week.  In fact, you might have been stupid enough at some point to actually marry one of them...waking up now to realize Wanda or Micky (your spouse) is obviously a fifth-grade mentality and it's just about impossible to exit this marriage without a mess.

At some point, in my mind....something has to change.  It's just the question of how you grow the 'kid' into an adult.

Baseball Chat

On rare occasions, I essay on sports, and the business-world that has developed.  So today, it's onto the topic of free-agents and baseball.

In the mid-1970s....baseball was forced into accepting the idea of free agency.  It meant you signed a guy for a period of time, and when the contract ended....the guy could leave.  It also meant that you could find several players, to build up a winning team....at a particular cost.

Over the past twenty years in baseball...there's this odd trend that started to get noticed.  Players (and their agents) were pursuing deals where it was a multiple-year situation.  Not just three years, but onto five, or six, or even seven years.  What developed was this problem that after three years....the product level of the player sometimes became marginal....the guy developed an attitude problem...and the team was trying to give the guy away (thus having to pay another team to take him off your hands).  So you were paying a guy a hefty check, for marginal production, and then paying a second time to get another team to take the loser off your team. 

Anger and frustration occurred on various teams.  Part of the problem goes back to the agents, and the manipulation they used to convince teams to use longer contracts.

So in the past six months....teams across both leagues did this odd thing.  No one says it's a league policy, or that it's a secret philosophy from baseball....but they all started to shy away from free agents. 

If you had a listing as the 2017 season ended of all free agents (players with no contract)....fewer than 25-percent have been signed at this point. For some players, getting into early March, with no contract is now a frightening thing.  The agents are furious, if you follow public commentary.

The business now likely to occur?  By the end of March, I expect about half of the free agents to be signed....but mostly for a one-year or two-year type deal.  Pay escalations?  No....these are guys who will make the same amount as they did last year. 

The remainder? I think they are finished.  These are mostly marginal players over the age of thirty, or three-star-type players approaching their mid-thirties.    I think a number of minor-league players are going to be given a chance to move up and assume roles in the major leagues for 2018.

It's a bold new world.  The real losers here?  Well....the agents.  All of them are going to take pay-cuts for the future. 

Friday, 23 February 2018

CNN and MTV

Back in the early 1980s....I admired M-TV a good bit.  In a normal week, I probably watched six hours of music videos.  My attraction was mostly over the fact that you could take a two to four minute tune....run some great story video in the background, and it was like a sales-job over clothing, cars, lusty women, or Miami.

Over the past decade, I've come to view news networks (MSNBC, Fox, CNN, etc) as having gravitated over to having an effort with a text to attract your attention, and some video-type background that keeps your attention.  All of this....leads to a comparison to M-TV's videos.

Oddly, each of these are built in the same way....three to ten minutes in length.  They've even gone to having actors step in and be occasional fake witnesses to an event....give it that professional image and the right text of words to fill the agenda.

They can sell something....in the same way that M-TV sold clothing, cars, lusty women, or Miami. 

Course, I won't be critical of this....it's their right to be a sort of fake news outlet, and sell 'something'.  The problem here is that as M-TV matured, and audiences moved on....the sales-pitch became tougher each year and a lot of people simply laughed over the images in the end.  It's today to sell clothing, cars, lusty women or Miami. 

So I gaze over at CNN and kinda wonder....at which point will they fail or start to lose viewers?  Well....they already admit their viewer-count is down, and profits are starting to be marginalized. 

I sat this week and watched some of the anti-gun CNN pieces, and realized that it fell into the same path.....clothing, cars, lusty women, Miami, and now anti-gun. Maybe it'll sell for a couple of weeks....at least until the public tires of it, and then it'll just be another theme piece forgotten.

The Cop Story

As the story unfolds from this school in Florida with the shooter....we kinda find today that the school-asset-officer (whatever that means) stayed out of the shooting zone for three minutes.  He never engaged the shooter, and basically did nothing.  It's an older guy.....been with the county police for thirty-odd years, making $75,000 basic pay a year.

I've read a fair bit over the guy, and have come to four basic conclusions:

1.  In terms of being a policeman, or officer, or security guy.....no, he was there as some liaison guy who was supposed to talk to kids, and parents.  Beyond that, I don't think he really had the background or training.  Maybe they gave him a gun, and made sure he showed up twice a year to practice shooting it, but I don't think he was really a policeman.  If they meant for him to be there to protect kids.....I don't think they trained him to really be that kind of guy.

2.  The $75,000 a year?  Well....being some kind of liaison-guy for that kind of salary.....is a joke.  They could have gotten someone fresh out of college for maybe $35k to $45k for this type of work.  The cops were wasting the guy there, for that kind of money.

3.  Is this the kind of guy you have at every school in Florida....for security?  If so, you got a bigger problem.

4.  Finally, I come to necessity of having cops at schools.  I grew up in another era....where the one and only town cop usually showed up at the football games to ensure no fights broke out.  If you got an issue to exist where you need cops on the campus.....all the time?  Well, you need them to be able to arrest and detain kids very easily.  You don't see them giving that kind of authority to the cops in that school.

This guy now?  He'll retire....draw a pension, and quietly move away from Florida.  Sad deal for a guy who was probably a year or two away from retirement.