Thursday, August 11, 2016
In the realm of pest management, there are many potential issues which can arise and wreak havoc upon lawns and gardens in any climate. Knowing what these issues are, how to deal with them, and what sorts of precautions to undertake in preventing them from happening in the first place is very important when caring for a landscape. High on the list of pests in desperate need of management is fire ants, among the most invasive insects of them all. These pests are the bane of many a gardener's existence, and the reasons why, plus some solutions to the problem, will be detailed in the next several paragraphs.
Fire ants nest in such moist soils as river banks, pond shores, watered lawns, and highway shoulders. Nests usually aren't visible, as they will be built under timber, logs, rocks, or bricks. Ants form underground nests, where mating takes place. Fire ant colonies generally produce large, dome-shaped mounds in such open areas as fields, parks, and lawns, feeding mostly on young plants and seeds. They will often attack and kill small animals by stinging from the abdomen and injecting toxic alkaloid venom. Fire ants are very tolerant to extreme weather conditions. They do not hibernate, but can survive in temperatures as low as 16 degrees Farenheit. In hot conditions, they can build nests deep within water tables. Among the many issues caused down the line by these ant mounds include the deadening of grass and the killing off of their root systems, leaving bare soils vulnerable to erosion and diseases.
This problem can notoriously manifest itself health-wise. Fire Ants sting multiple times, sometimes as a group effort(as in, more than one ant is in on the action). A small, but still noticeable number of the population will have allergic reactions to Fire Ant bites. Allergic reactions come in many shapes and sizes, such as swelling, blistering, scabbing, burning, itching, difficulty with breathing, rapid heart rate, chest pains, nausea, dizziness, and shock. If it comes down to calling 9-11, be very sure to have at the ready such information as the person's age, weight, and condition, the type of insect, and the time of the bite.
My interest in this pest management issue stems from my own personal experiences with fire ants. Part of why the lawn at my place is the mess that it's become over the past several years is due in part to the building of fire ant mounds and the death of the grass areas and root systems underneath the mounds. In the past few months, we have had to apply fertilizer and lime to the soils and spread around some grass patch seed over several of the bare areas of the lawn. Still a ways to go before things are orderly once again, but things are already looking much better than they did before.
The principles of 'Integrated Pest Management' can be useful assets in combating the invasion of the fire ants. They can be applied as follows:
1. Produce Healthy Plants that Resist Pests—Select healthy plants, use the strongest, highest grade fertilizers available, use certified seeding, check soil pH values regularly, and give plants proper lighting and shading.
2. Identify the Problem—Spend time and resources investigating the problem in order to come to the right conclusion. It is not prudent to go after what turns out to be an environmental issue the way one would pursue a pest issue, or vice versa.
3. Expect Some Pests & Tolerate Some Damage—Don't aim to destroy all the fire ant colonies, lest you also risk irreparably damaging your plants and soils. Set a threshold for pests and damage.
4. Use Pesticides as a Last Resort—Before taking up pesticide usage, first exhaust every possible avenue for plant treatment. Only use when a problem is otherwise unavoidable.
Several measures are presently being used to combat fire ants, including the deployment of fire ant bait(Examples include Amdro Pro, Advion, and Spectracide) and insecticides. Mounds can also be drenched in toxic liquids, which can include various insecticides, boiling water, kerosene, and lighter fluid. Planting of Sundews and Venus Flytraps, as well as selective deployments of Phorid Flies, would also be an innovative(yet probably pricey) solution to the fire ant problem.
In conclusion, out of all the pest issues of today, fire ants constitute the dominating pest management issues that need to be dealt with. They can cause much damage to lawns and gardens, not to mention the many health hazards posed by them. All the troubles Fire Ants cause can easily be solved if you have enough of an understanding of the insects and how to use various combative methods, whether they be in the form of pesticides or other, more organic means. Knowing all of this could literally mean the difference between life and death, so tread carefully.
1. Wikipedia—The Free Encyclopedia: Fire Ants https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fire_ant
2. Do Your Own Pest Control—Top 10 Things You Should Know about Fire Ants http://doyourownpestcontrol.com/pest_control/questions_and_answers/top_10_things_you_should_know_about_fire_ants.html
3. Orkin—Fire Ants http://www.orkin.com/ants/fire-ant/
4. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension—The Latest & Greatest on Fire Ant Products http://fireant.tamu.edu/files/2013/05/2013-Fire-Ant-Bait-Misc-Control-Products-5-30-13.pdf
5. University of Florida Extension Office—Red Imported Fire Ants http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/urban/ants/red_imported_fire_ant.htm
6. MedLine Plus—Trusted Health Information for You: Fire Ants https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002843.htm
7. USDA National Agricultural Library and Invasive Species Information Center—Red Imported Fire Ant(Solenopsis Invicta) https://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/animals/rifa.shtml
8. University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources—Red Imported Fire Ant Management Guidelines http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7487.html
9. Ant Ark—Fire Ants Species Solenopsis Invicta http://antark.net/ant-species/fire-ant-solenopsis-invicta/
10. Fire Ant Information http://www.fireant.net/
11. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum—Red Imported Fire Ants http://www.desertmuseum.org/invaders/invaders_fireant.php
Tuesday, June 14, 2016
That is the question I'm pondering right now, as the bodies are being prepared for burial down in Orlando, FL. Terrorists have struck at the heart of children's entertainment, near to the World of Disney. It's something we're all coming to hear about too, too often. As our standards of decency and morality are further degraded, more people are coming to value human lives as little more than cheapened stage props unworthy of basic love and respect. Some, de-sensitized by video games like "Grand Theft Auto" and shows like "COPS," even seek out and take up arms and shoot up large venues, whether for the thrill of it or for the otherwise satisfaction of disturbed minds and the worst elements of humanity.
The clarion calls for weaponry restrictions grow ever louder. I have mixed feelings on this. Putting my own personally Conservative, pro-Second Amendment ideology aside for the moment, I never thought it was the decent thing to do to inject high-stakes political positioning into such situations. Having said that, the terrorism angle already brings into the fore many a political consideration. The fact that this was an orchestrated attack upon a gay night club also brings into discussion, among many others, a civil rights element. At this point, I suppose it is only natural to bring talk about weaponry-related 'solutions' into the spotlight.
The people who have for years screamed "DON'T POLITICIZE!," seemingly unaware of how their response already innately politicizes the situation, don't help matters. It frankly allows Conservatives to be portrayed as an ideology unwilling, perhaps even too scared, to have an argument or a debate on these important matters. "Thoughts and Prayers" has also, unfortunately, become a cliche phrase. While I'm sure there are a lot of people who do this, it has become, like "DON'T POLITICIZE!" before it, almost sort of a cop-out for a side seemingly unwilling to have a debate on an important issue. To be totally fair, though, the other side of the ideological coin is not served well by attention gluttons like Connecticut Congressman Jim Himes and Senator Chris Murphy, who both seem to utilize tragedies like this one as a means of getting on TV to do their share of soap-boxing. Taking on the political elements of delicate situations like this requires a good bit of careful thought, and is not served well by those who solely want to bring attention to themselves.
Frankly, my own solutions in that regard are simple and are positions that I think can be quickly agreed upon by any rationally thinking person. I think all military-grade weaponry(AK-47s, AR-15s, elephant guns, flame throwers, grenades and their launchers, and machine guns) should probably be restricted to only usage by our military and police forces. Civilians have all the rights to own a handgun, a rifle, and/or a shotgun, but military-grade artillery is going absolutely overboard. Oh, the preppers will no doubt say that they need it all in case the economy crashes, the Seventh Seal is broken, and all the world goes down the toilet. They're wrong. No grade of weaponry will put a damper on all the madness at that point. Besides, a better case could be made for keeping unfettered access to high-power weapons the way it currently is were that unstable, millionaire Bankruptcy King to take power in November and launch a sustained assault on our First Amendment rights, among many of our other constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms.
Another solution--a very basic, common-sense solution--involves taking military-grade body armor off the public market and restricting it to only military usage. It was reported in the news yesterday afternoon that the Orlando shooter was shopping around for body armor in preparation for the attack. Back in November, the shooters at the Special Needs Facility in San Bernardino, CA, were revealed to have utilized body armor so as to prevent themselves from being taken out by potentially incoming fire. All the civilian, out-of-proper-context usage of military armors ultimately succeeds in doing is to put the shooters in a safer position as they are executing their attack.
What we can all agree on is that the Islamic State is a matter that needs to be immediately dealt with. If we can re-structure the balance between the civilians and the military so that it is the military, and not the civilians, who have the best access to the weaponry that is most fitting of their(the military's) needs, then and only then can we have a prayer of winning the fight against the Islamic State. Since, with the lecherous huckster serving as an anvil atop their hopes across the board, Conservatives may be on the verge of a generational electoral blackout, we might want to figure out ways to work with the Liberal Democrats on the key issues so as to try keeping things halfway functional in the dark ages.
But not 24 hours before the terrorist attack, something else happened in Orlando. A young pop star of considerable renown was assassinated. It's something I've not the heart to politicize in any way, though I'm sure all the Trump Jr's of the political world will pick up my slack--I don't care. To me, the most heart-breaking news to come out of this year so far...
Christina Grimmie. In total fairness, I never knew her music, and had only the most fleeting of awarenesses of who she was. She was a contestant on "The Voice" back in 2014--I was a bit taken up at that particular time, so I never got the chance to pay her rise to stardom any of the heed and respect I should have.
She was my age--About 4 1/2 months older than I am. In reading her life story upon learning of what had happened, I was struck by how much I admired, identified with, and related to her. From a young age, she had an ear for and an interest in music. She was a Christian, and by all accounts tried to live out her faith in all she did. An animal lover who advocated for adoption. Someone who knew well how to cultivate solid, lasting success on YouTube, something which fellow YouTubers like myself can aspire to and learn from.
Fact of the matter is we both had dreams of becoming famous musicians--She a singer and I a guitarist. Unlike me, she actually had talent enough to make something of it. She realized her dream. I've been re-adjusting and re-thinking a few things of late. Sometimes I'll regret not making it big, sometimes I don't. I sometimes think that if at some point I had applied and concentrated myself in my musical studies earlier on up the road and the lightning of fame and renown HAD struck me, we might have ended up travelling in some of the same circles and ultimately crossing pathways.
In a lot of ways, I regret that I never got the chance to reach those heights and maybe know her in some way. She seemed, from what I read of her, a really nice human being--Like many a nice girl I've met in school and in my own travels. At the same time, consider that when my friend Tim died 5 years ago this coming September, it took me about a year to start moving on. This would have been far, far worse, no question. I can run down several of the scenarios in my head right now.
Three weeks before she was killed, she tweeted this picture from when she was little, and to me it sums everything up and puts it all in proper context. More than being a pretty face and a talented musician and singer, she always was and always is the sweet little bundle of joy to a loving New Jersey couple. No matter what you do with your life, no matter your achievement(s), you'll always be someone's bundle of joy. Someone's child
The one thing that both sums her up and magnifies the horror of what happened to her involves the way she (unknowingly)handled her assassin. She greeted him with open arms and pearly whites a-flashing. Pure love. She greeted him with the same love and gratitude she apparently showed everybody she met, and he responded by cutting her down(To the people posting up footage of the incident, stay CLASSY). Says all there is to know about the kind of wonderful human being she was, as well as shining a light upon the absolute worst elements of humanity.
She is now and forever more leaning on the almighty and everlasting arms of love. While I never knew her, in some strange way I feel as though I did. Ya know, in a distant and tangential sort of way. Like you do with people who were born in and live in almost the exact same space and time as you. Like star-crossed people living in the same time who never had the chance, in some odd way. Perhaps I'll have the chance to meet her someday, somewhere over the rainbow.
Pile on many more layers, and I'll be joining you there.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
And we'll bask in the shadow of yesterday's triumph,
And sail on the steel breeze.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
And we'll bask in the shadow of yesterday's triumph,
And sail on the steel breeze.
Saturday, April 9, 2016
Henry Ford, who would later become one of America's best known and well respected innovators, inventors, and manufacturers of the 19th and 20th centuries, was born on July 30, 1863. He was the first of five children. His father was an Irish immigrant, and his mother was a descendant of Belgian immigrants. Both of his parents were farmers.
Henry Ford went to school for a while, but he dropped out at fifteen to tend to the family farm. It was around this time that he earned a reputation as a watch repairman, dismantling and reassembling the timepieces of his neighbours and friends dozens of times. At sixteen, he left home to work as an apprentice machinist in Detroit, Michigan, for James F. Fowler & Brothers and shortly thereafter with the Detroit Dry Dock Company. After he worked three years, he returned home to work on the family farm, and became a skilled operator of the steam engine, a relatively new invention at the time. His skills with the steam engine landed him a job at Westinghouse, servicing their steam engines. When he was 25, he married Ms. Clara Bryant, with whom he had one child. To support himself, his wife, and his child, he farmed and ran a sawmill. In 1891, Henry Ford became an engineer with the Edison Illuminating Company, and within two years he was promoted to the position of chief engineer.
He was influenced by an article he read in World of Science about how German Engineer Nicholas Otto had built an internal combustion engine. After finding enough time and money to focus on his experiments with gasoline engines, Ford test drove his new invention, the Ford quadricycle, on June 4, 1896. He used the information from this and other test drives to find ways to perfect the quadricycle.It was around this time that Ford met Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb, at a meeting of executives of the Edison Illuminating Company. Encouraged by Edison's approval of his automobile experiments, Ford went to work on a second vehicle, completed in 1898. Boosted by the backing of lumber baron William H. Murphy, Ford resigned his position at Edison. After he left Edison, Ford launched out on his own. He then founded the Detroit Automotive Company in 1899. The company didn't last long. It stalled out and was dissolved in 1901 because of Ford's displeasure with the lower quality and higher pricing of the automobiles. Later in 1901, Ford designed, built, and successfully raced a 26-horsepower automobile. On the heels of his latest triumph, Ford, William H. Murphy, and fellow stockholders formed the Henry Ford Company, naming Ford as the chief engineer. Upon Murphy's hiring of Henry M. Leland as a consultant, Ford left the company in 1902. The company was later renamed the "Cadillac Automotive Company." Shortly thereafter, with the backing of Alexander Y. Malcolmson, Ford produced the 80+ horsepower racer "999" that Barney Oldfield raced to victory that October.
Ford and Malcolmsen later formed a partnership, naming their company 'Ford and Malcolmsen, Limited.' This company's function was to manufacture automobiles. They leased a factory and contracted with a machine shop owned by the Dodge brothers to supply over $160K in parts for an inexpensive automobile Ford was designing. In 1903, Ford & Malcolmsen re-incorporated as the 'Ford Motor Company.' Shortly thereafter, Ford experimented by driving his newly finished car out on the ice of Lake Saint Clair. He drove one mile in 39.4 seconds at a speed of 91.3 miles per hour. Buoyed by the success, Oldfield took the car around the country, thereby making the Ford brand well known throughout the United States.
On October 1, 1908, Henry Ford introduced what would be his most famous invention, the Model T, which had the steering wheel on the left side. The engine and transmission were enclosed, the four cylinders were cast in solid block, and the suspension used two semi-elliptic springs. At $825 per car, it was one of the cheapest cars on the market. By the 1920's, most Americans had learned to drive on the Model T. It was around this time that Ford decided to merge his latest business success with racing by entering stripped-down Model T's in races, winning an 'ocean-to-ocean' race in 1909 and setting a one-mile oval speed record at the Detroit Fairgrounds in 1911 with driver Frank Kulick. Later that year, he opened Ford Assembly plants in Britain and in Canada, and they became the biggest automotive producers in those countries, Boosted by the success of the new plants, in 1912, Ford cooperated with Agneli of Fiat to launch the first Italian automotive assembly plant. Sales of the Model T were sky-rocketing. For several years, Model T sales posted 100% gains over the sales of the previous year. Always on the hunt for more efficiency and lower costs, Ford introduced moving assembly belts into his plants in 1913, enabling an upswing in production. Ford dropped out of racing that year after attempting to enter a re-worked Model T in the Indianapolis 500 and being told that he needed to add an extra 1,000 pounds to the car in order to qualify.
On January 5, 1914, Ford stunned many business observers by offering his workers a $5 per day wage, which was more than double the rate of most workers. This move proved very profitable because instead of the constant turnover of workers, the best mechanics in Detroit flocked to Ford, bringing with them their money and their expertise. The result was raised productivity and lower training costs. The company's use of the vertical integration proved to be successful when built a big factory that used raw materials and shipped out automobiles. Sales for the Model T surpassed 250K in 1914, and by 1916, as prices fell to $360 per car, sales reached 470K.
Henry Ford strongly opposed the United States' involvement in World War I, calling it a terrible waste. A group of pacifists curried favour with Ford and convinced him to fund a peace ship to Europe, Ford, his minister, and 170 pacifists travelled to Europe. To no avail, Ford had tried to persuade President Woodrow Wilson to give government aid to the mission. Subjected to much ridicule, he abandoned the mission upon docking in Sweden. Though he had opposed America's involvement in the war, to help in the war effort in Europe, Ford plants in Britain produced tractors to help increase the food supply. Upon the United States formally entering World War I in April, 1917, the company started producing weapons, anti-submarine boats, and liberty engines. By 1918, half of all American cars were Model T's. Also in 1918, President Wilson encouraged Ford to run for the Senate as a peace and pro-League of Nations candidate. Ford accepted, and lost by 4,500 votes out of 400K cast.
In December, 1918, Ford turned over the Presidency of Ford Motor Company to his son, Edsel Ford. Henry still maintained authority over decisions, and sometimes he opposed his son's decisions. Henry Ford started another company, 'Henry Ford & Son,' and took his best workers over to see the new company, generating some publicity. The goal of taking workers to the new company was to scare remaining stockholders of the Ford Motor Company into selling their stakes to him before their values were lost. This tactic worked, and Henry and Edsel Ford purchased all remaining stock from the investors, thus giving the Ford family sole proprietorship of the company. The 1920's began with Ford opening plants in Australia, France, Germany, and India with the help and encouragement of Herbert Hoover and the US Commerce Department, who concurred with Ford that free trade was essential to world peace.
After the end of World War I, Ford resumed auto manufacturing until 1925, when Ford acquired the Stout Metal Company, allowing him the opportunity to transition from manufacturing cars to manufacturing aeroplanes, a budding market in the "Roaring 20's." The new airline manufacturer was called the 'Ford Aeroplane Division.' Ford's most successful aeroplane to come from this was the Ford 4AT Tri-motor, also known as the "Tin Goose" because of its corrugated metal construction. The plane used a new alloy called 'aclad' that combined aluminum corrosion resistance with the strength of duralumin. The Tri-motor's trial run took place on June 11, 1926, and became the first successful United States passenger airliner, accommodating 12 passengers in a rather uncomfortable fashion. Before the Ford Aeroplane Division's dissolution in 1933 because of poor sales as a result of the 'Great Depression,' the company had produced about 200 Tri-motors. Around this time, sales of the Model T had stalled out.
Ford was convinced it was time to produce a new model car. The result was the very successful Model A, introduced in December, 1927. It was in production until 1921, selling about 4 million cars. In 1928, Ford was awarded the Franklin Institute's ''Elliott Cresson Medal'' for his achievements. In 1929, Soviet Chancellor Joseph Stalin invited Ford to build a model plant at Gorky, Russia. Ford accepted, and he sent American engineers and technicians to the Soviet Union to help in building the plant.
By 1932, Ford was manufacturing 1/3 of all the world's automobiles. Ford's image transfixed the Europeans, especially the Germans, who believed that "Fordism" represented something uniquely American. They believed that the size, tempo, standardization, and philosophy demonstrated by Ford as an international service, and something that positively reflected on the American way. When World War II broke out in 1941, the Ford Company lined up behind the war effort and focused exclusively upon mass production for it. One of the world's most successful aeroplanes to come from this was the B-24 Liberator Bomber.
On May 26, 1943, at age 49, Edsel Ford died after a long bout with cancer. Upon his death, an ailing 79-year-old Henry Ford re-assumed the Presidency of the Ford Motor Company. By this time, Ford had suffered numerous cardiovascular illnesses and was mentally inconsistent, suspicious, and generally presumed to be unfit for such a job. In September, 1945, Ford, for the last time, ceded the Presidency to his grandson, Henry Ford II, and retired. The elder Ford died on April 7, 1947, aged 83, from a cerebral hemorrhage at his home in Dearborn, Michigan. His funeral was held at Detroit's Cathedral Church of Saint Paul, and he was buried at the Ford Family Cemetery in Detroit, Michigan.
In 1965, the United States Postal Service honoured Ford with a prominent American series 12 cent postage stamp. In 1999, Ford was posthumously awarded the title of 'Car Entrepreneur of the Year.' According to Gallup Polling's 1999 end-of-the-century survey, Ford was among 18 people who were named "Widely Admired People of the 20th Century." He was indeed a deeply respected man.
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Today, 13 states cast their votes for the Presidential nomination contests of the Democratic and Republican Primaries. Both contests are cumulatively expected to yield decisive, game-changing results, one way or another.
On the Republican side, millionaire real estate developer and reality TV star Donald Trump is, to date, the undisputed leader of the pack, leading in both the delegate count and in the popular Primary vote. Polling in many of the states voting this Tuesday show him in a mostly dominant position over his opposition, Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. However, a few states are showing the brash, blustersome Trump in a softened position of late, leaving a select few openings for Rubio to, at long last, gain a foothold and start up with the winning. Right now, polling has Trump in a dominant position in Alabama, Massachusetts, Tennessee, and Vermont, with modest leads in Alaska, Georgia, and Virginia. Polls show a possible opening for Senator Rubio in Arkansas, Colorado, Minnesota, and Oklahoma, with the dynamics of Wyoming looking favourable towards him(no polling has been done in that state in almost 3 years). Additionally, for a state that's giving Trump seemingly durable leads, Rubio is focusing considerable efforts upon that state, leading this writer to believe that his internals are showing him with a good shot at victory. Cruz will win his home state of Texas, but probably nowhere else. Given Cruz's missteps in recent weeks, one would expect Rubio to unite more of the Conservative vote in his quest to be the GOP's anti-Trump, which should increase his odds in several states where most have generally written him off. This side of the aisle will be the subject of most of tonight's attention.
Turning to the Democratic side, with few exceptions, this should be, for the most part, an anti-climactic night for former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is a lock on a clean sweep of the South over Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, an avowed Socialist. Clinton also dominates in the Midwestern, Rocky Mountain states. Of course, several states could provide Secretary Clinton sources for heartburn. Take Oklahoma, for example, where Sanders has been leading of late. Minnesota could also provide her a speed bump--Sanders is leading there in polling and in enthusiasm. Same goes for Alaska, where no polls have been taken, but a strong ground-game from Sanders could make all the difference. Finally, New England is going to pose some problems for Clinton. Vermont being Sanders' home state, he should dominate there. The two candidates are virtually deadlocked in Massachusetts. Ground game will be key there, likewise everywhere else. General advantage goes to Clinton, but not without some fighting and a few upsets tonight.
Having said all this, here are my predictions for how things go down tonight...
Alabama: Trump wins with 43%, versus Rubio's 22%, Carson's 14%, Cruz's 13%, and Kasich's 8%.
Clinton beats Sanders 76-24.
Alaska: Trump wins with 36%, versus Rubio's 31% and Cruz's 29%. Carson & Kasich split the remaining 4%.
Sanders beats Clinton 53-47.
Clinton beats Sanders 70-30.
Colorado: Rubio wins with 31%, versus Trump's 28%, Cruz's 21%, Carson's 12%, and Kasich's 8%.
Clinton beats Sanders 59-41.
Clinton beats Sanders 72-28.
Clinton and Sanders both draw 50-50, or otherwise even parity. Winner decided by a handful of votes.
Sanders beats Clinton 52-48.
Sanders beats Clinton 54-46
Clinton beats Sanders 71-29.
Clinton beats Sanders 61-39.
Clinton beats Sanders 57-43.
Sanders beats Clinton 64-36.
(Note: As I go to post this, Clinton has won GA and VA, Sanders has won VT, and Trump has won GA)
Saturday, February 20, 2016
His outbursts have resulted in free-falling poll numbers ahead of today's Primary. Jeb Bush, former Florida Governor and younger brother of Bush 43, tried milking this one to the maximum, drafting his brother to stump for him in SC the day after the debate. GW Bush didn't disappoint, trotting out the old stand-bys("I'm a tree farmer. Gives me a chance to practice my 'stump speech'...I'm an oil painter now. And just so we're clear, the signature is worth more than the painting itself...") and really yukking it up with the audience. Overall, the speech had the intended effect of reminding voters of why they liked Bush 43. Counter-intuitively, it also reminded people of why they're not impressed with Jeb! and his campaign thus far.
While Bush has stalled and Trump has fallen, freshman Senators and Conservative darlings Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have experienced groundswells of support for their campaigns, with the latter trotting out the endorsements of Governor Nikki Haley, US Senator Tim Scott, and Benghazi Committee Chairman and Upstate SC US Representative Trey Gowdy. Cruz, for his part, is heralding the endorsement of Charleston-area US Representative and former Governor Mark Sanford, the world's most famous hiker of the Appalachain Trail. Ultimately, the high concentration of evangelical voters would give Cruz a narrow edge going into tonight, though Rubio could upset with a strong showing with veterans, another, to borrow a Trumpism, YUGE constituency in SC's GOP Primaries
Prediction: Cruz wins with 30%, versus Rubio's 26%, Trump's 24%, and John Kasich's 13%. Bush and Dr. Ben Carson split the remaining 7%. Bush drops out, and pressure mounts on Carson to do the same.
Over in Nevada, things are a good bit less clear, as very few polls have been taken on the state of this race. Those few polls that have been taken have shown both candidates with varying leads. The only real way to gauge sentiment as to how the race is going is to observe what's happening on the ground. In this regard, the news is not very good for Hillary Clinton, as the grassroots activists who usually decide the Caucus events are mobilizing in a really strong way for Senator Bernie Sanders. Compounding matters is the fact that Clinton has to keep, ah, reminding people of what an 'honest' person she is(in spite of a general lack of transparency, to name just one thing), which is about as realistic a statement as Donald Trump touting his 'decency' and 'humility.'
While the party faithful are backing her up(after all, she's the wife of a former President, though she generates about the same level of excitement as does a certain brother of a former President), things overall don't look great for her. While she may yet pull off a narrow win(a-la Iowa, but with an obviously rigged game of five-card draw in place of flipping coins with the same face on either side), the sentiments on the ground aren't showing it, as far as this writer can tell.Prediction: Sanders wins with 55% to 44% for Clinton. Momentum mounts for Sanders, having won 2 out of 3 Primaries, as the Democratic race moves to SC and Super Tuesday.
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
"You cannot look to other people in your life to make you happy. Period. And you cannot let other people make you unhappy. Let's just say you married some bastard who's cheating on you, man or woman, and so then it makes you unhappy. No, it should not make you unhappy. Get rid of them. Get them out of your life. I had somebody tell me the other day they had a sister who was ragging on their ass, and they got tired of it and they said 'to preserve my own self-esteem and self-respect, I stopped talking to her.' End of story. I mean, man, it's just ridiculous. That's why people have been going to shrinks, drinking, taking pills, and all that. You're waiting around for Prince Charming to come riding in on a white horse, he ain't comin'. And if your parents were jerks, they were jerks. Move on."--Don Imus, from the May 8, 2014 airing of "Imus in the Morning"
With rumours swirling that Imus will soon be leaving his Fox Business morning show and, in doing so, ending a storied radio and television career spanning 43 years, I have taken some time to look back on the past 14 months I have spent watching his morning show and the times and circumstances which were prevalent then and now. In the year 2014, Imus and his show gave both a reassuring face and an in control voice to a very difficult personal period in my life. I was dealing with the deadeningly hopeless state of affairs that was my friendship with a local woman(I won't name names, though some may know who I'm talking about if they know me personally), not to mention the subsequent fallout of my choice to(Spoiler alert) end that friendship.
This person made a point to lie at every opportunity and promptly lose it whenever I would ask questions or outright call her out on her, to put it very mildly, tall tales. Lots of empty promises were made. Now, I believed a lot of those empty promises, mainly because I felt that if I believed them, then they would actually come to fruition. About a month earlier, we got into a verbal 'confrontation' over a couple of her loftier promises, whereby she told me that maybe she would keep her word, and maybe she wouldn't. I only bothered listening to those last two words and audibly, disgustedly, and exasperatedly muttered "whatever," to her obvious disgust. By this Thursday morning, with my faith and my respect totally shot to pieces, I was not often finding myself in communication with her.
I don't remember much about the 5/8/14 airing of "Imus in the Morning" aside from, sometime in the 7 AM hour, Imus saying that, at the top of the hour, he would be giving us "the best advice you will ever receive." My interest was sufficiently piqued, so I stayed alert and tuned in to see what he was going to say(not like I was going to be tuning out, anyway). I was very blown away when I heard those words, and I knew instantly how they applied to my situation. Saving the recording of his show, I watched it again later and wrote down, word for word, everything that he said for posterity's sake.
Needless to say, this piece of advice, though not directly pertinent to my exact situation, gave me a lot to think about and ultimately helped move me in the direction of cutting this friend off(a mere nine days after I heard this advice). She may very well now be pulling strings to sabotage my friendship with her grand-daughter(there's only a few years of age difference between myself and the latter), proving my long-held belief that people are only mere Chess pieces in her perverse and twisted life's game, but I still have no regrets about my decision to cease all association with her.
I would like to sincerely thank Mr. Imus for issuing this timely and needful advice. Your show was and is absolutely great(I have loved it since Summer 2002, when my mother would watch it in the Morning before I would go off to Summer School), and it was my love of the show that got me to go to the 'I Heart Radio' website when I was away from television and listen to it there. I will miss it, you, and all of the show's crew members if you do, in fact, go off the air in the next few weeks.
My best regards to the I-man.
Sunday, April 5, 2015
People have been arguing in favour of a national popular vote for many decades, but particularly since the Bush versus Gore fiasco in 2000. Not only do I support keeping the Electoral College on the federal level, but I also support instituting Electoral College-type systems on the state and local levels.
This is something I have given considerable thought to. National elections have come down to a select few states(Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia), and it will continue to stay that way even if our system of elections were moved to a national popular vote, as the parties know not only where their bread is buttered, but also by whom it is buttered. The smaller states need to retain their influence if we are to be a free society with leaders chosen by the many, and not an enslaved and polarized society with leaders chosen by the few.
The purpose of the Electoral College is to give small states more say in the Presidential election, as 3 electoral votes out of 538 has a lot more influence than does a state of 125,000 trying to determine the course of a nation of 330,000,000. This was the desire and vision of the founders. Unfortunately, it now seems that the voices of the National Popular Vote movement would have willingly fought against them in the American Revolution. Before we go any further, whose words would you be more inclined to listen to: The Founding Fathers or the voices of a fringe political movement? I thought so.
On the state level, each county is given a certain number of electoral votes based on population. That means, in my state, the counties of Glascock and Taliaferro would have the least number of electoral votes and one of the metro-Atlanta counties(Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, Gwinnett) would have the greatest number. How many total electoral votes would be best determined by the legislature, with input from population and regional experts. On the local level, counties would be divided up into regions and cities divided up into wards and a certain number of electoral votes awarded to certain regions/wards based on population levels.
Now take my state of Georgia. Elections on the state level are beginning to come down to a few key counties in the Atlanta Metropolitan area(Cobb, Douglas, Gwinnett, Henry, Newton). Outside of key metropolitan area counties(Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Colombus, Dalton, Gainesville, Macon, Millegeville, Rome, Savannah), most counties have fairly low populations. The Electoral College system gives a stronger voice to rural, low-population counties, which include the Liberal bastions of Taliaferro County and those mainly rural counties between Colombus and Macon.
There are many ways to do the electoral vote counts per county, but I know one way which won’t work, and that is giving an even sum of votes to every county. For the sake of argument, lets say 5 electors per county, as most counties have 4 elected Commissioners and an elected Chairman, which, as it pertains to this writing, tees off of the notion of 2 Senators and 14 Congressmen accounting for 16 electoral votes, as it does in GA. Given the vast advantage Republicans have with counties, that would stack the deck in their favour, even in places like the West Coast and New York. By that same token, the deck would be irrevocably stacked in the Democrats’ favour in almost all of New England. Experts on county-by-county population growth and non-partisan political strategists should be consulted as to how such a system would be constructed.
Using the ATL metro counties of Clayton, DeKalb, Fulton, and Henry as an example, we break down the counties into their various regions.
The Public School district map drawers have the right idea here, but some revisions need to be made to this map in order to gel with my idea of a Clayton County Electoral College.
1. North Clayton--This combines Districts 4, 8, & 9, and includes the cities of Forest Park & Lake City, the unincorporated communities of Conley, Ellenwood, and Rex, and the area around Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. This would have the (very close)second-largest share of electoral votes in the County.
2. Metro Clayton--Combines districts 5, 6, & most of 7, taking in the red area west of State Road 54 and the green area north of Lake Jodeco Road, and includes the cities of Jonesboro and Morrow, as well as the area around Lake Spivey. Given the population, this one would have the largest share of electoral votes in Clayton County.
3. West Clayton--Combines districts 2 & 3, taking in the purple ares south of both Fayetteville Road and Mundy Mill Road, and includes the city of Riverdale. On population(not land-mass) grounds, this one would contain the third-largest share of the electoral votes.
4. South Clayton--All of district 1 plus purple areas south of Lake Jodeco and Poston Roads, and includes parts of Jonesboro, the whole city of Lovejoy, and the unincorporated communities of Bonanza, Hastings, and Irondale. On size, this one SHOULD be at least #3 in EV's, but it is also the least populous & more rural part of the county. While still containing a fair sum of EV's, it would have to be dead last among the 4, but, given the somewhat more rural nature of the Southern-most tier of the county mixed in with the urban areas towards Jonesboro and Lovejoy, this would have more potential to be a swingier set of electoral votes than the other 3(if Democrats lost any of the other 3, they would have some BIG problems).
The Public School district mappers have the right idea here in this proposed map(at the time of release, at least), but revisions must be made to this map in order to gel with my idea of a DeKalb County Electoral College.
1. North DeKalb--All of district 1, encompassing the cities of Chamblee, Doraville, Dunwoody, and North Atlanta. This one would contain the (very close)third-largest share of electoral votes in the County.
2. Metro DeKalb--Encompasses all of district 2, the white section, the northern-most tier of district 3(yellow), and the part of district 4(green) inside Interstate 285, and includes the cities and communities of Atlanta, Avondale Estates, Belvedere Park, Brookhaven, Decatur, North Decatur, Druid Hills, North Druid Hills, East Atlanta, and Scottdale. On population grounds, this one would have the largest share of electoral votes.
3. East DeKalb--Encompasses all of districts 6 & 7, plus the part of district 4 outside Interstate 285, and includes the cities and communities of Clarkston, Glen Haven, Pine Lake, Redan, Stone Mountain, and Tucker. This would have the (very close)second-largest share of electoral votes in the County based on population alone.
4. South DeKalb--Encompasses all of district 5 plus most of district 3, and includes the cities and communities of Belmont, Bouldercrest, Candler-McAfee, Cedar Grove, Constitution, Gresham Park, Klondike, Lithonia, Panthersville, and Snapfinger. This one would, contrary to its size making it one of the bigger electoral regions of the County, have easily the least numerical share of electoral votes.
Fulton County: Central Fulton, encompassing the heart of Atlanta, would have far and away the most electoral votes in a county-wide election. Southern Fulton and Northern Fulton would have to, due to population considerations, be broken into two different vote municipalities. The areas which include the cities of College Park, East Point, Fairburn, Hapeville, Palmetto, and Union City would be called “South Metro,” and would itself have a sizable share of electoral votes. The more rural part of South Fulton, which includes the cities of Campbellton and Chattahoochee Hills, would have a lesser share of votes. The areas in Northern Fulton which include the cities of Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Ocee, Roswell, and Sandy Springs would be called “North Metro,” and would itself contain a sizable number of electoral votes. The more rural part of North Fulton, which includes the cities of Birmingham, Crabapple, Milton, and Mountain Park, would have a lesser share of votes.
Henry County: The county, which I cop to having a more intimate knowledge of than the others(having actually lived there in the somewhat distant past), would be very simply divided four ways in a county-wide Electoral College. Four for each incorporated city in the county(Hampton, Locust Grove, McDonough, & Stockbridge). Stockbridge, being the most populous city, would have the greatest share of electoral votes(sector would include such communities as Dutchtown, a portion of the Clayton County-based community Ellenwood, Flippen, and Kelleytown, as well as the areas around Lake Spivey and Berry Hill Airport), with McDonough, the county seat, following close behind(sector would include such communities such as Blacksville and Ola). Hampton, home of the Atlanta Motor Speedway, takes third in EV shares(sector would also include the area around Tara Field Airport), and Locust Grove, home of the Tanger Outlets Centre, placing a respectable fourth in EV's(sector would also include the community of Luella).
An alternate way of doing a county-wide Electoral College system would be to issue some number of electoral votes to precincts within the county borders, with both early-voting precincts and precincts in the more densely populated areas having the greatest number of electoral votes. That said, this is another discussion for another day.
Speculation regarding the total number of County electors should wait until census-takers, population analysts, and re-apportioners weigh in and come forward with key findings. It would perhaps be ill-advised to base the number of either state, county, or city electoral votes based on the national system of 538 EV's.
A city-wide Electoral College, using Atlanta as an example, would involve the same principles as a county-wide Electoral College. We break the city down into its individual regions and assign electoral votes based on population. The regions of Atlantic Station, Buckhead, Chastain Park, Downtown, Midtown, and Perimeter would have the largest share of electoral votes. Capitol View, Grant Park, Paces, Piedmont Heights, and Poncey-Highland would be in the middle-tier with regards to share of electoral votes. Adamsville, Joyland, Mechanicsville, Pine Hills, Southwestern, and Underwood Hills would receive a lesser share of electoral votes, but would likely still have a fair number given dense population in the Atlanta area.
You could probably also divide the city into its individual precincts, as well, and assign electoral votes that way. Again, a discussion for another day.
Something to consider for your Easter Sunday.