Monday, 24 April 2017

The Hawaii-Alabama Essay

Last week....the Attorney General (our former senator from Alabama) got into the news by referring to Hawaii as "an island in the Pacific".  Hawaii folks got all peppered up, because of this lack of 'respect'.

I sat and pondered over this story for a while.  There are three odd aspects to the story.

First, if you went to the 4.8 million Alabama folks....for those over the age of eight, and asked about where Hawaii was located, it's very likely that 90-percent would just point out into the Pacific and say "there".  They might accidentally point toward Japan, the Philippines, or perhaps even Tonga. Ten-percent (the remainder) might point toward the Gulf of Mexico or down near Aruba.

Yes, we do have a geography location problem in Alabama.  It's mostly because if you've never been there....you can't reference the local area.  You can ask most Alabama folks to identify the four border states, and 98-percent will get that correct.  Once you start asking about where Idaho or Montana is located....most folks just point out west on the map.

I would imagine that my brother (the Alabama engineer geek) has met more Chinese in his life than Hawaii folks.

Second, to be fairly honest about this....Hawaii is made up of eight islands.  Most lecture instructors from Alabama will point this out and even define that they were all part of some single land mass back around 12,800 years ago...then all hell broke loose and water rose 400-odd feet.

Third, if you asked the 4.8 million Alabama folks if they'd ever met a Hawaii guy ever....in their life.  Their response (probably 99-percent) will be no.  Probably over 99-percent of Alabama folks will talk up meeting Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, or Tennessee residents.  Some will refer to Arkansas folks as the nicest folks on the face of the Earth.  Then after a couple of comments, you get down to the number of folks who've ever met anyone from Wisconsin or Utah....and less than ten-percent of Alabama folks can say they've met such a person.

From the 20-odd thousand that might have met some Hawaii folks.....they are mostly former military folks who spent time on the isle, or politicians.

Maybe this is worthy of some controversy, but on the scale of hyped-up frustration or hostility....to an Alabama guy....this is maybe somewhere between number 10,500 and 11,000 on the scale of things. In Alabama, we worry more about summer revival activity with a broken-down AC unit in the church, dry counties converting to wet counties, and Governors behaving like nutcases.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Science Stuff

Both in Europe and the US yesterday (Saturday), there was a massive science-geek protest....mostly to ensure pressure on governments to continue research.  The slant on the US protest in DC, across from the White House?  Anti-Trump.

I sat and looked at the hyped conversation by the science-geeks.  They have a big problem.  While there are some great science research projects underway....there are also tremendous wastes of money.

You have idiots who approve studies on Facebook friends (whether they are real friends or not), how long it takes to fully urinate, checking out bee-sting sensitivity on different parts of the body (maybe it might hurt more if they stung your ass), why rich people cheat on taxes, and why monkeys will take risks when bored.

Here's the thing....it's readily apparent that you've got way too many scientists in the civilized world, and they need to pay back college loans (that's my humble opinion).  Maybe up until the 1960s.....we had some control and competence over the money handed out, but that has disappeared over the past couple of decades.

Various governments (it's not just the US) are reviewing their spending and making cuts.  So, there's likely to be less money in the future to study monkey urine, best ways to wreck a new car, or assign risk-factors to chainsaw usage.

Maybe in some way, we ought to go and send out the scientists to figure out why college costs have escalated and how to assign blame for that, or maybe ask scientists to explain why climate change science is settled, while the 500-odd other sciences are unsettled.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

University Topic

When I attended university in the 1980s....there were generally three requirements.  First, you needed pay them before the classes started....in cash, check, or money-order.  Second, you had to get form signed by the Air Force which would pay for 75-percent of the tuition.  And third, you needed to visit some counselor to ensure that you had some plan.

To be honest on the third requirement....there probably never was a plan within my scope of things, but the these counselors didn't really care one way or the other.

This week, I noted in the news that Kennesaw State University (within the beltway of Atlanta) had gone and added another seminar onto the requirements to attend.  This had something to do with privilege and interracial relations....note, NOT rank and privilege as most military folks would quickly have misunderstood and chatted on for an hour.

The university had gone out and hired some outside training counselor to ensure folks were hyped up on privilege and interracial relations.

So, you'd all come into one big room....I assume twenty-five-odd folks.  Then they'd say to you.....you folks who identify as white.....need to go to this room, and you folks who are of color....need to go to another.  By dividing the group....you'd create an "environment" of understanding and support.

I sat and read through this piece.

The contractor consultant was counting on folks playing his or her game.....getting up and going to room X or room Y.

Me?  I would have sat there with my coffee while everyone got up and just stayed in my seat.  Eventually, the instructor guy would have asked about my status.  I would have said that I was translucent in nature....not white or of color.

It probably would have confused the consultant a good bit, and I would have been told that I wasn't grasping the game being played.  Frankly, I see this as an hour or two of time wasted.  You could just as well chatted about limiting alcohol consumption....how to handle a firearm, or how to handle a rattlesnake situation.

No one said much over how much this seminar cost in nature.  I'd hate to think that you had to pay $25 for something like....without any value.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Church Story

Typically, it's just about impossible to get thrown out of a Baptist Church.  As long as you show up.....avoid sleeping during sermons.....and don't openly criticize the minister or Jesus....you are fairly set as a member.  This morning, I opened up local Alabama news and noted that the Governor, and his Paramour gal (with her husband) were kinda kicked out of their Tuscaloosa Baptist Church. Yeah, shocker.

At some point last year, after all this affair business came out with the Governor and the Paramour....the church minister got all worried.  Oddly, he calls for a meeting in his office with the parties affected.  Mrs Bentley didn't really care to attend (wouldn't blame her).

The minister wants everyone to lay out their part of the episode.  Now in the real world....most Governors would not have attended, and if they had.....a lawyer would have accompanied them.  So it's hard for me to figure out why Bentley showed up and started talking....other than perhaps him having dementia.

So after Bentley finished up his whole story on the affair.....Mr and Mrs Mason talk about their part of their affair. No one says how long this whole description of the affair took....maybe three minutes...maybe three hours.

Some guys from Alabama would have described their Paramour situation in thirty words or less.  A few might have used a thousand words, been kinda graphical (hands waving around), and the intensity involved (like a University of Alabama versus Auburn football game).  Then you'd have that one single Alabama guy who'd talk for three hours about this original meeting, the Paramour clothing choice, his fantasy world, telephone chats, licky-spity kisses, pancake breakfast meetings at the Waffle House at 4AM, five-inch heels, and lusty stuff best not to be told to Baptist ministers.

Then you come to this moment of talk with Mr and Mrs Mason.  Mr Mason would be in a dire Baptist situation if he acknowledged that he knew about the affair before it even started.  Usually, that would be an unwise situation to lay out....as if planned from day one.

Then you have to wonder what Mrs Mason said to the minister, and how she described her part in the affair.  Typically, most Alabama women would limit their chatter to maybe forty words.  Then you might have that one gal who'd get all chatty and spend twenty-five minutes describing the emotion, fervor, energy, and vigor involved.  She might have described the Governor as her "George Clooney".
The minister?  He might have been a bit disgusted with all this sex-chat stuff and wondered how these three characters attended his weekly sermons and got all hyped up over lusty stuff.

At the end of this meeting.....according to the journalist.....the minister asked the Governor to not attend the church any more.....taking away his deacon status/Sunday school teacher position.  Then he turned to the Masons, and just said it'd be best not to attend his church anymore.

The thing I see is that typically, you'd want to sell your religion on forgiveness.  You could have asked the Governor and the Masons to kneel down....pray for thirty minutes....ask to have the devil cast out of their lives, and then ask for forgiveness over the three.  Oddly, the Minister didn't care to do the standard Baptist gimmick on the three.

My take?  Way too much lusty stuff going on.  This was probably one of those meetings that didn't really fix anything, and probably made things worse.

At the end of this.....at least a hundred thousand Alabama Baptist members can sleep secure in knowing that their illicit affair didn't get discovered and they didn't get dragged in to admit with the choir director last weekend in some Mobile hotel, or have had a ten-year affair with the Minister's wife.

On the positive side, it does demonstrate that Alabama folks are awful passionate, and hot-blooded....probably more so than those Mississippi folks.  

Monday, 17 April 2017

How To Campaign and Win the Alabama Governor's Seat

Being both an insider and outsider to Alabama....I have a different prospective on things.

In most state elections in the real world.....you need to have some amount of money to do advertisements, and line up unique vote combinations (women's vote, Latino vote, minority vote, etc).

Up to the 1980s....I think that was the trend in Alabama as the Republicans and Democrats faced each other off.  Then something unique in Alabama occurred.  The GOP turned and picked out a couple of topics, and lessened the need for advertisements or unique vote combinations.  The topics?

1.  Anti-lotto.  The GOP went straight to the Baptist membership of the state, and harped on lottery operations being an evil thing.  Speeches would be made about the negativity of lottery money.  Naturally, the Democrats aren't stupid.....most every state around Alabama is raking in money off lottery....so it only makes sense.  The GOP legislature?  Oh, they will chat openly about lottery chances.  But whoever is the governor candidate....will always take a dim view of the lottery business.

2.  Anti-Casino.  The GOP went straight to the Baptist membership of the state, and harped on casino gambling being bad.  Speeches would be made by the GOP caniddate about the negativity of casino profits being taxed.  The Democrats?  They aren't stupid.....other states are signing up....so it only makes sense.  The Baptist loved the anti-Casino talk.

3.  Anti-Evolution.  Amusing as it sounds....the Baptist crowd likes to hear this, and no Democrat will dare suggest anything on evolution.

All of this costs almost nothing, and gets talked around via various Baptist channels in the state.  So you take the crowd who will vote GOP no matter what.....toss in the Baptist-chatter crowd, and you got a remarkable 60-percent chance of winning.

In an amusing way.....the Democrats in Alabama have no virtual way of getting in on this action....even with the latest GOP resignation of the governor, and the suggested corruption going on within the state.

What happens after the Alabama GOP gets lottery and casino bills passed?  I suspect that they will move onto marijuana and it's evils....suggested their anti-marijuana position will save the state....then oddly, five years later, we will find that the GOP and Democrats have passed a medical marijuana bill into law.

Are folks that stupid?  Well....it's just that they'd like to believe in something related to their religious preferences.  Since Jesus never said anything much about lottery, casinos, or marijuana....it's left to interpretation.  You know how that goes.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Mike Goes to Cyprus

This week....not widely reported....but a Democrat House member (Rep Mike Quigley (Ill)) flew off to Cyprus.  He's on the House Intelligece Committee, and he's gone to Cyprus because...."thats where Russians launder money."  He believes he will gather intelligence and data on Trump's former campaign chairman....Paul Manfort and his work in eastern Europe.

What we expect out of this fact-finding mission to Cyprus?

First, he'll likely fly business class all the way into Frankfurt....board one of about a dozen airlines which fly into the small island of Cyprus.  The airlines are: Bulgaria Air, Air Moldova, Alitalia, KLM, LOT, Air Malta, Pegasus, Czech Airlines, Lufthansa, Swiss Air, Aeroflot, and five or six no-name airlines.

Mike will probably be shocked that the ticket his folks bought in DC....is just a passenger only ticket, and he'll have to pay 30-Euro for his bag (one-way).  He might also be shocked at the quality of the airlines involved, and that half of them don't offer a direct flight to Cyprus....which means he'll have to spend five hours in some no-name airport, and this whole expedition to Cyprus takes 22 hours from DC.

So, Mike will arrive at one of the only two airports on Cyprus....Larnaca or Paphos.  Hopefully, they picked Larnaca (that's the capital city).  Paphos is about 90 minutes away from Larnaca.

Right off the bat.....Mike will discover that almost no banker in Larnaca will talk with him, period.

Then, Mike will discover that the Cyprus government folks aren't that willing to talk to him either.

The US embassy?  They will bring out their economics expert and maybe have a hour-long chat which centers mostly around rumors....scuttlebutt.....hearsay....and gossip.

The CIA guy?  He'll mostly chat about his secret investigations....which indicate that virtually every single bank in Cyprus is deep into Russia money, and that billions come in each month, and flow out. Then he'll list out forty-odd lobbyists in Fairfax, Virginia....some deep into Republican and Democratic circles....who might be getting some piece of the action.  Mike would prefer not to hear about the Democratic lobbyists in this episode.

Mike will eventually come to realize that Cyprus isn't your normal corrupted government or country.  It's much like the US.  People have money...they want service....they pay for your service....and you perform.

It's at this point that Mike will realize this whole trip to Cyprus was just a wasted trip, but will enjoy the excellent five-star hotel that he spent five nights in.  He might also come to note that they have lousy water pressure, and you aren't allowed to put toilet paper into the toilet, but instead into the trash can....which kinda stinks up the room.

Mike will also probably consume a fair amount of Zivania....which is a brandy-like drink. The locals will tell you that Zivania started out (hundreds of years ago) to treat wounds or to massage into sore body joints.  Then, folks discovered it was great for colds and flu.  Then folks discovered it was great for toothaches.  Then folks discovered it was great for a heated-drink during winter periods.  Then finally, folks discovered it was a great drink to offer visitors or guests.  Note, while it does come in watered-down versions.....the typical bottle you'd pick up at the grocery will be 45-proof.  So just three or four shots of the stuff will get you going, and if you had ten to fifteen shots....you'd be in no condition to do much of anything.

Then Mike will return to DC, and chat for weeks about his fact-finding mission to Cyprus.  Eventually, some of the DC lobbyists who get funding from Cyprus....will come to visit Mike and try to get him to see a practical side to Cyprus, and put a bit of money into his campaign chest.

Here's the simple truth.  The Russian billionaires discovered that Cyprus had a wide-open door, and banks which weren't regulated very much.  The Russians didn't want to put their money into Moscow banks....because it's just not safe.  Financially, it only makes sense.  So Cyprus found that investment money into condo construction....resort hotels....and shipping companies....were all helped by this flow of money.  You can call it money-laundering but there's all this positive stuff going on, so why get bent out of shape?  The billionaires have their money in a safe place, and they get to move it around.  Putin and state-sponsored work?  No, that's the amusing thing about this whole story.  It's a bunch of rich guys.....like the New York City rich guy crowd, or the Miami rich guy crowd, or the Chicago rich guy crowd.....just protecting their money.

The cost of this Mike expedition to Cyprus?  I'd take a guess over $10,000 will have been spent on this.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Paramour

This week, my home-state has been in the news a fair bit.....the governor has finally resigned.

What can be said is that Robert Bentley (Republican) was a small-time state legislature guy, and fairly successful in his life at the medical business.  Somewhere around age 65, he'd met up with a couple from his church who felt he had the 'right stuff' to be governor.  With their help, he ran.....got elected....and brought the couple into jobs within the state office.  The gal was hired to a $400,000-plus job and the husband in a similar but less paying job. What developed was some girlfriend situation with the gal, and eventually....Bentley's wife figured out the whole thing (divorcing him).  It would be safe to say that Bentley was not really the governor.....and that this girlfriend was pressing the right buttons to ensure things happen.

So we come to this reporting of the event.  Depending on who you read....the girlfriend is described as a: paramour, kept woman, beau, mistress, concubine, sugar, main squeeze, doxy, or 'other woman'.
If you are from Alabama.....typically, you'd use 'other woman', sugar, mistress, or kept woman.  The W-word might also be used but not in front of Baptists.

If you used the word paramour, I would take a guess that 90-percent of folks from Alabama have no idea what it is, or what it means.  Some might suggest that it's a French pastry, or some town near Fairhope.  I would take a guess that out of the whole state.....less than 3,000 folks speak French or would easily recognize the word.

My brother (the engineer) might have some knowledge of the word....but only because he read the Three Musketeers two or three times, and a bunch of the characters were having paramour situations.

The governor?  I'm pretty confident that he'd use the word sugar.

All this lusty talk kinda unsettles the typical Alabama guy.  It'd normally be something that you didn't talk about....settling instead on NCAA football, bass fishing, pick-ups, septic tank replacement, garage advice, beef prices, the Braves, Kenny Rogers tunes, and Trump.

Some ministers will attempt to weave some Bible-tale into this situation and advise guys off the trail of paramour situations.  Half of those ministers over the next year will be pointed out to already have their own paramour situations.

What I think will develop out of this whole Bentley and paramour thing is that folks will begin to see Alabama as the lusty state with a bunch of paramour activities.  Some Bama folks will hate the aspect of a lusty state....but it'd bring in more tourists and generate more jobs..  Maybe eventually, we'd even make a car-tag referring to Alabama as the paramour-state.  Well....maybe.