Category Archives: News

Weirdo Wednesday – August 17, 2011

From the comfort of my computer and the safety of terra firma I watched the drama unfold in Tulsa, where 25 year-old William Boyd Sturdivant II, perched high on a TV tower watching the powerless police, fire and citizenry below for over 127 hours.

First things first. I am not calling William a weirdo. He’s a man who obviously succumbed to the pressures of life and found himself in a situation he didn’t know how to resolve. But for the grace of God, go I.

The weirdness is more about a society that seems helpless in the face of financial, economic, emotional and human tragedy, and is ill equipped to help the less fortunate in their greatest time of need. William’s story goes way beyond the three inch steel beams that became his refuge in the sky. As with most human tragedies, the media transfixes on the event rather than the person and Sturdivant’s six days on the tower is no different.

What I was happy to see is when William climbed aboard the rescue bucket he wasn’t handcuffed and tossed to the floor. His rescuer patted him on the back as if to say, “It’s going to be okay.” It gives me hope that there are times the authorities recognize situations where a soft hand has more power than a semi-automatic weapon.

Man rescued from Tulsa TV Tower

Sturdivant rescue Tuesday evening.

Tulsa police spokesman Leland Ashley made the following statement: “Sturdivant was taken to a hospital to be treated for dehydration and was expected to be transferred to a mental health facility for observation.”

For his part, William Sturdivant faces trespassing charges. To the other man in the bucket, police negotiator Tyrone Lynn, I say, “Bravo and well done.”

Interview with hero of the day, negotiator Tyrone Lynn.

Interested in the Interest?

Here’s a number for you. Be careful, it’s pretty big. It’s heavy and unwieldy. I have no idea what we are going to do with it. In many ways it’s actually kind of frightening.

In today’s climate of big numbers circulating around Washington, this one seems to have missed the evening news. I’ve never heard anyone bring it up. Maybe it’s that elephant in the room. Maybe it’s the family secret that nobody wants to talk about. You add all those commas up and what do you have?  $ 8.152 Trillion dollars. I could live pretty darn good on a one tenth of a  percent, a tiny fraction of that.

The reality is, I could live like royalty and fund a small island in the pacific for a very long time. I’d take my $81 Billion and call it a day.

You see Congress and those political types on Capital Hill seem to think “We the People” can’t wrap our minds around figures that high. They want to believe that the scope of a trillion is lost on us common folk. Let me show you what I am talking about…

That number up there — that is what “We the People” have spent in interest on the National Debt since 1988. Let me repeat that… We’ve dished out over $8 Trillion dollars in interest payments on our national debt since 1988. Assuming the US population is 312 Billion, each man, woman and child has kicked in over $26,000 into these interest payments. And that’s just the interest.  The debt just keeps growing. Which is exactly why we are where we are. And this isn’t about whose fault this is or who put us here.

Here’s a little food for thought. What could we have done with that money over the last couple of decades?

With $8 Trillion we could:

  • Fund the military budget for nearly 12 years
  • Pay the expenses of the Mayo Clinic for over 1,000 years
  • Fund the education for over 40 million children from grades 1-12
  • Build over 40 million houses for the homeless
  • Completely rebuild every bridge needing repair, resurface every section of the US Interstate system and have plenty left over to fund that High Speed Rail system the administration wants.
  • Completely fund the US Health Care system for well over three years.
Bill Gates is the second richest man in the world at a net worth of $56 billion. (0.0069 % of  this number)

I could go on but you should be getting the picture by now. We have a very serious problem. We are a financial prisoner of our debt and Congress is arguing about the need to add more. We are stealing money from our grandchildren and it is getting worse every day.

Stop the insanity! Instead of figuring out how to borrow more we have to find a way to pay off these commitments and become a debt-free nation. If it doesn’t stop we’ll be like the orphan Oliver standing at the world bank with our hands out saying, “Please sir, may I have some more?”

Imagine what we could do without the burden of debt. America could be great again instead of lining the pockets of foreign investors.

And in case you are wondering where I got this number:

http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/ir/ir_expense.htm

More Whoppers or just Politics as Usual?

On June 3rd Obama said…

“And today, I’m proud to announce the government has been completely repaid for the investments we made under my watch by Chrysler because of the outstanding work that you guys did. Because of you. Chrysler has repaid every dime and more of what it owes the American taxpayer from the investment we made during my watch. And by the way, you guys repaid it six years ahead of schedule.”

Hmmmm…..

So what’s with this headline at the Huffington Post?

In Chrysler Bailout, Taxpayers Likely
To Lose Up To $1.3 Billion: Treasury

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/21/chryslerbailout

You have to dig into the words to find the financial shell game. Sounding much like a Used Car salesman, Barry was careful with the content of his speech. The key phrase — “Under my watch.” What that means is he is not counting the $4 billion given to Chrysler 18 days before taking office. (Source: FactCheck.org)

Now I don’t know if the Chrysler bailout was a good thing or not. I don’t know where the losses would have piled up to in the collateral of a total Chrysler meltdown. The job losses from plant closings and dealerships would’ve been extensive, not to mention the affect on other peripheral businesses.

I do know $1.3 Billion could have funded a lot of other stuff like three days in Afghanistan. But that’s a whole other topic!

It’s a Bad Day for Books

Borders announced on Monday, that it was unable to reach a deal for a going-concern sale to salvage its 400 remaining stores and 11,000 jobs. A liquidation sale of its inventory and store contents will begin as early as Friday.

I believe this is a symptom of the state of the publishing industry as a whole and answers the question, “Can a retail ‘brick & mortar’ business compete with online giants Amazon and eBay?”

The answer is a resounding “NO!”

I only wonder how much longer Barnes and Noble stores will be able to survive.

Over the last decade some powerful retail businesses have fallen victim to price pressure served up by online stores. Retailers Circuit City, Comp USA and Sam Goody, all succumbed to the pressure of competition.

Retailers across the board are suffering from market pressure and margins are growing too thin to support real estate and payroll. The ones to survive will be those that have established a strong online presence and are a price leader in an already crowded retail landscape.Wal-Mart, Target and Best-Buy are all feeling the effects of a soft retail environment as unemployment still hovers above 9% and consumers are clenching disposable income like never before.

For better or worse, Best-Buy has become Amazon’s “Try before you buy” store. Will they be the next big box to end up on life support? Time will tell. In the meantime consumers benefit from low prices and quick delivery.

Now all I need is a tablet that doubles as a cell phone. (And the money to pay for it.)

Sherwood Schwartz – Dead at 94

The best way to describe Sherwood Schwartz is to say he was a simple genius. His gift to the world was the silly castaways of Gilligan’s Island and The Brady Bunch, a cliche’d look at a couple of families joined at the altar and dealing with life from the child up.

From writing jokes for Bob Hope to creating some of the most memorable television of the sixties, Schwartz had a long career as a producer/writer continuing to work well into his 80s. On March 7, 2008, Schwartz was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

He was also an accomplished song-writer. Schwartz penned the theme songs for both Gilligan’s Island and The Brady Bunch.

Casey Anthony: Not Guilty

Like much of America, today at 2:15 pm, Eastern, I was glued to an internet feed waiting for the judge to read the verdict.

I had pretty much figured out, because of the short time the jury had deliberated, that “Murder in the First” was not going to happen. You don’t come to that verdict in this case in ten hours. It just didn’t seem very likely.

Like many others I figured she’d get guilty of aggravated manslaughter. I was wrong.

Guilty of four misdemeanor counts of lying to law enforcement. Not guilty on all the rest.

Okay, I get it. Our legal system comes down to this. You have two teams. The prosecution and the defense. It’s kind of like chess. You try to counter every move the other team makes.

In this case I believe the defense did a much better job on the counter-offensive. They poked enough holes in the prosecution’s circumstantial evidence and handed the jury enough “Reasonable” doubt to acquit. I can’t blame the jury. They did their job based on what the two teams gave them.

The aftermath of the verdict is what is puzzling me.

I’ve been watching #caseyanthonyverdict on Twitter for the last hour or so at the rate of a tweet every 3-5/tenths of a second since the verdict. I’ve seen some of the most vile hateful comments about the jury, about the lawyers, about the judge, about the system, and the worst of the worst about Casey Anthony. I’ve seen it turned into race and sex issues. I’ve seen people literally at their worst.

Not minimizing the death or Caylee Anthony or the impact this has had on the community of central Florida, but I question how a society that can generate such emotional energy in bursts so vile and then can’t come seem to get up the energy to solve other, more disastrous circumstances facing our immediate future.

Media types like Nancy Grace and Geraldo Rivera, combined have enough media clout to really change things for the better. Yet they let their personal feelings and agendas play-out on camera and deflect from the serious issues communities and families face everyday regarding the youth of America.

  • Child hunger
  • Child abuse
  • Education
  • Health Care
  • Juvenile Crime
  • Runaway
  • Parental kidnapping
  • Childhood Obesity
Those issues aren’t sexy enough and headline grabbing enough to hold our collective attention. It takes a baby girl in Florida to be murdered, her mother the prime suspect, to grab our attention.
The sad fact is, it’s never been about Caylee. It’s been about ratings. It’s been about dishing to the public the ugliness of the evening news.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46bBWBG9r2o]
And you know… I don’t even blame them. It’s us, you and me. We have created that negative media mentality. As they say…. “If it bleeds, it leads.” Shame on us.

Ode to the Chronically Unemployed

I just read this headline at one of the progressive news outlets.

“Jobless claims continue to drop.”

Sounds like really good news until I read into the body of the story — “US Weekly jobless claims, ending the week of 6/25, fell 1,000 to 428,000.” If I have the math right that is a drop of 0.23%, almost a quarter of 1%. The word that comes to mind is — negligible.

There is a dirty little secret the government is trying to contain and the media seems unwilling to really go after it.

Most engineers over 50 are underemployed or suffering from long term unemployment with no hopes on the horizon of finding full-time employment in their respective fields. This fact is hidden by a reporting system that fails to count ANY of the underemployed or the long term unemployed — the 99ers who have exhausted their unemployment assistance and have fallen off the accounting systems. Hard data on professional workers who are underemployed may very well be impossible to gather.

So the question is, this week as jobless claims fell 0.23%, how many people ran out of benefits with no hope of finding a job in the near future. The American dream has become the American nightmare.  Jobless claims may have fallen by 1,000 but 10,000 more may have lost their unemployment bennies. What do these people do in a system that ignores their existence?

The jobs situation in American is no less of a national disaster than Hurricane Katrina or the BP Oil Spill. The difference is there was a vigilant media, day after day continuing to talk about how bad it was, putting their cameras in the face of all levels of government and demanding ideas for solutions.

I just am not seeing that level of intensity over the issue of jobs. I suppose it just isn’t politically expedient because without answers it just keeps getting uglier.

And our government is incapable and unwilling to make the hard decisions on imports, immigration, infrastructure, human resources and education, that will have to be made to even begin to solve these problems.

Groom Says Love is Ageless

Well, what do you expect him to say when he’s 51 and she’s 16 — “I like the way she she looks in pigtails and plaid skirt.”

Actor Doug Hutchison, 51, best known for the character Percy Wetmore in Stephen King’s “The Green Mile,” married 16 year-old  aspiring country star, Courtney Alexis Stodden, on May 20th at a ceremony in Las Vegas. (Of course it was Vegas — it might be illegal in Atlanta)

Her mom signed the waiver allowing the minor child to marry.

I don’t exactly know who’s the most creepiest here — the knocking on social security, washed up actor, or the star struck mom who thinks allowing your high school sophomore daughter to marry a man three times her age is a good idea?

It all sounds very third world arranged marriageish. Even by Hollywood standards it’s pretty creepy.

I’m not convinced the senior and the sophomore have done the math. When he’s 65 she’ll be 30. (which, by the way, does sound a whole lot better than 51/16.) When I was 30 I dated some 30 year-olds. I think Percy will be way out of his league.

A few questions immediately comes to mind:

Does she have a driver’s license?

Will her new husband drive her to school or will she have to ride the bus?

Now that she is married can she still get the child rate at Disneyland?

Since the bride is considered a minor was her mother required to sign the prenup?

Was she attracted to his huge…… bank account?

How long have they been dating? Two or three years?
(Wrap your head around that one)

Now that she’s legally married does she still need her mom’s consent to get implants, or can hubby sign off on that one?

I wonder who will do laundry… mom?

Being a 16 year old, Courtney Alex was born in 1995.  That means:

Her future husband was filming “A Time to Kill” when she was born.

Forest Gump won best picture.

Bill Clinton was in the White House.

Chelsea Clinton was 15.

Madman Timothy McVey destroyed the federal building in OKC with a homemade bomb.

In a bit of irony, the Congress passed the Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act, requiring that producers of pornography keep records of all models who are filmed or photographed, and that all models be at least 18 years of age.

 O. J. Simpson is found not guilty of double murder for the deaths of former wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. Was it only a short 16 years ago? My, how time flies.

Actor Doug Hutchison was 35 years old.

Who does he think he is — Hugh Hefner?

And They’re Off…

It’s the equivalent of the evening news stakes race with your best thoroughbred at the gate. Monday night, in an understated debut, CBS quietly and firmly put the Katie Couric years behind them when veteran newsman Scott Pelley assumed his role as the face of CBS evening news. Pelley has rather large pumps to fill.

With Walter Cronkite, CBS News had a firm grasp on the number one slot, a position held until the Dan Rather years when ratings slipped and the network found itself in third behind NBC Nightly News and ABC World News.

Can Pelley revive the news franchise at CBS? Smart money is on the competition. Most industry experts believe Pelley lacks the pedigree to take CBS back to the front. He’s no Walter Cronkite, but then again he’s no Katie Couric either.