Sunday, July 16, 2017

The art of the con

Arizona, a few decades ago, had legalized "friendly" gambling in public places, including bars.  When the law past, I enjoyed the opportunity to play a few hands of black jack while drinking a beer.  I was also smart enough to leave the table when the "house" - any other bar patron who brought a deck of cards - started winning too much.

One Sunday night I brought my own cards so I could be the house.  I figured the card sharks would be home or in Church or something and I knew the odds are always in favor of the house.  I'm no card shark so I figured I and everyone playing would have fun in an honest game.

The game went fine for about a half an hour.  I was few bucks ahead and having fun.  My friend was probably breaking about even because he said he would leave once he lost ten bucks, but he was still playing.  Two other patrons I didn't know played and appeared to be having a good time.  Then a stranger saddled up to the table.

Nothing about the stranger set out warning signals until after three or four hands.  He offered me his own deck to play with because his deck "shuffled better."  One of the other players encouraged me to accept the deck because I was clumsy with my old deck of sticky cards.  He didn't accuse me of cheating, but the implication was there.  I reluctantly accepted the new deck.

It took me less than ten hands to fold and turn the deal over to the stranger.  I wasn't about to go broke.  As house, I lost hand after hand to the stranger, which, statistically, I knew should not have happened.  He encouraged me to continue, but I walked away. 

He took over the house position.  Half an hour later, he had no players.  He cleaned them all out, including my friend for ten bucks, and the stranger was left standing behind an empty table, albeit a lot richer.

After that night, I never sat at a card table again nor did I ever bring my own deck to play.  Card sharks infiltrated the "friendly gambling" game and destroyed it.  Friendly gambling became a venue to allow people who couldn't get a real honest job a means to support themselves at the expense of those who came to the bar to drink a few beers and have a good time.  Even though I left Arizona twenty-one years ago, as far as I can tell, they still have an "amusement gambling" law on the books.

The above real life example illustrates the art of the con in easy-to-understand terms.

First, you have to have a need for a proposed product or service.  When people go to a bar, not all of them want to dance, play pool, or drink to get drunk.  They do want to socialize.  Amusement gambling offers an alternative to pool playing and dancing and also affords the opportunity to socialize.

Second, you have ideologists who understand how things should be and also believe others understand the ideology in the same terms.  Amusement gambling, to most people, wouldn't mean "get rich quick."  It would mean playing an honest game for fun. 

Third, you have the opportunist who disregards the first two premises and aims to profit from the opportunity in some way regardless of the ideology.  The opportunist sees amusement gambling as a means to turn every beer drinking patron into their personal ATM machine.  Marked cards, sleight of hand, and a partner sitting as a player are tools the opportunist needs to make the ATM machine spew money.

Does the opportunist sound like a politician to you?  It should.  Politicians are opportunists no different than that stranger who saddled up to my card table and then cleaned it out.  Politicians have figured out the right buttons to push so the rest of us spew out the money whether we want to or not.

Healthcare is the latest scam opportunists in DC have invented to steal more money from us. 

First, there's the need for affordable healthcare we all recognize and agree to.  Second, we all understand affordable healthcare means we all should get to see doctors because quality healthcare shouldn't be a luxury given only to those who can afford it.  

Where healthcare reform falls apart is the third point.  Opportunists try to figure out how to pay for their Lamborghini or their one point two million dollar home at the expense of people who simply need some antibiotics, a stitch or two, or less frequently - like once in a lifetime - something more serious like stints or organ transplants. 

Real healthcare reform, as I stated before, needs to start at the top.  Control those costs and we're on our way to affordable healthcare.  Get the pharmaceutical companies out of healthcare (exactly why are they advertising their drugs directly to the consumer anyways?) and we're on the next step to drastically cutting costs.  And mandate every doctor, nurse, and nurse practitioner donate a minimum of ten percent of their work time to caring for those who can't afford their services.

Whoa, why mandate professionals to "donate" their time?  Simple.  They want me to donate my organs when I die so unless they start paying my next of kin for those organs, they need to donate their time to earn them.  Yes, I'm the opportunist taking advantage of the opportunist.  When I know my heart will cost a transplant recipient just shy of a million dollars, I want to know that everyone from my nurse practitioner through my doctor - and possibly surgeons if my health dictated the need of their services - all contributed to the cost of the transplant of the organ I offered them for free.

Politicians - you know, those folks who should be earning minimum wage since they believe that wage is good enough for most of us (but instead are earning almost $200,000 per year because we let them steal that from us) - are trying to come up with a healthcare reform plan to replace Obamacare and are failing.   The failure is being packaged as "It's the Democrats fault!"

Now here's where the interesting twist comes.  For a lot of us, we knew Obamacare was bad policy doomed for failure.  We knew we wouldn't get to keep our own doctor and we knew our premiums would rival our monthly mortgage payments.   Socialized medicine, in some form, may be inevitable, but Obamacare wasn't the right path. 

We were led to believe that Trump had a great plan, just wait and see, a vague promise he offered in the second debates and quite often in campaigns.

What did we "wait and see" for?

Apparently, nothing. 

Republicans had seven years to come up with a better plan. Trump had at least two years to come up with a better plan before he got elected. We called the con men's (and women's, what few are in the GOP) bluff, elected Trump to see the Republican's hand, waited to see the new hand, and seen nothing.

Adding salt to the wound is the recent tweet by GOP leadership. Someone using the GOP's Twitter account tweeted a question asking a couple of Democrat senators as well as Bill and Hillary Clinton where their plan to fix Obamacare was.


There's two ways to take this tweet, and neither bodes well for Republicans nor Trump.

One way to take it is we can believe it was a heartfelt question in hopes of bringing Democrats into the healthcare debate.

Wait a minute. The Democrats had a healthcare plan in place. Everyone called it Obamacare. Yes, it needed tweaking and fixing or - for those like me - needed to be repealed, end of process. No replacement.

The other way to look at the GOP's question is as a snarky tweet and feeble attempt to make Democrats look like obstructionists to creating good public policy.

Wait a minute. That explanation for the GOP's tweet sounds more reasonable. Reading it, you can almost see a spoiled, bratty, rich kid (middle aged or older) - whose sum life experience was never further than ten feet away from the protective whir of Helicopter Mom's blades - truly believing he (or she) has put the liberals in their place with that question.

It never dawned on the middle aged author of that tweet the Democrats not only had solid answers to the question, but answers readily available to anyone with Internet access for at least the last two years. One Democrat, Hillary Clinton, stepped forward and sent the GOP tweeter running back to his Helicopter Mom.


The link in the tweet directed the Twitter user to her campaign page where she outlined how she would tweak Obamacare to make it better and more affordable.

It wasn't repeal, stop, like I wanted to see, but it was a plan.

The con men (and women) of the GOP had stepped up to the table after Obamacare became law and said, "Hey, I got a better deck to deal, just wait and see."

A handful of voters in three key electoral states said, "Hey, I want to play with that deck," and gave the deal to Trump and the GOP.

Twenty-three million players left the table losing all healthcare options. Those still at the table are throwing the equivalent of a second mortgage into the pot to stay in the healthcare game. Paying more for less is the new healthcare landscape for most of us.

Next year, in the midterm elections, we can fool ourselves into believing we can turn the tables. To a degree we might, but doubtful. Until we get a politician who questions why a hospital administrator with no medical degree drives around in a Lamborghini, healthcare costs won't be leashed.

Our children need to prepare themselves for the fact that their biggest and hardest financial obligation to meet in life won't be a thirty-year mortgage. It'll be a lifetime of healthcare premiums, a financial obligation that will disqualify them from ever getting a mortgage or even a loan for a second car.

TL;DR folks:
Healthcare shouldn't be a con game.  We lost when Obama conned us into it.  We're losing as Trump and the GOP stumble along to continue the con game.

For your listening pleasure:

Posted by Five Drunk Rednecks

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Adams Radio Group kidnapped Crank and killed rock and roll

Yeah, Crank has been kidnapped or something, but let's get to the real news.  Adams Radio Group killed rock and roll.

Face it.  Adams Radio Group is small potatoes in the radio world.  When a company needs to stoop to buying rights to the syndicated program, The Billy Madison Show, a show dedicated to selling tattoos and sex, one can pretty much guess listeners won't hear any groundbreaking programming, cutting edge music, or at least a tidbit of factoids about the songs or groups we've all heard hundreds of times every year for the last forty years.

Leah was our favorite DJ, our meaning the one who always writes to you and the semi-participating-drunk-redneck that's left in our original group of five.  Leah's rock update minutes were a breath of fresh air in otherwise stale and predictable programming.

Stale and predictable?

Yup.  In fact, WZBH has become so predictable, they match the programming of WIYY 98 Rock over in Baltimore that killed rock and roll there long before Adams Radio Group began the slaughter here.  We still love Amelia on that station, but the music is as stale as the music now played on WZBH.  But like Leah had with her rock minutes, Amelia has a noon flashback that adds a bit of depth to the songs and groups we've heard hundreds of times over the last forty years.

Here's a fun game.  If you're in the zone where you can tune both stations (93.5 for WZBH and 97.9 for WIYY), flip between them.  You'll be amazed how many times in an hour the two stations play the same songs, sometimes at the same time.  It's like a radio programmer job pays minimum wage so one person is programming both stations so he or she can afford to put some hotdogs on their kids' dinner plate.

Want to add a new dimension to the game?  Switch to WZBH's sister station, Big Classic Rock 98.5, and hear how many times all three stations play the same songs - and if not the same songs, the same groups singing their songs from the same time period.  That radio programmer is making a killing programming all three stations.  No more hotdogs on the kids' plates.  All beef hotdogs now, baby!

It's been a month since either one of us have listened to WZBH.  The semi-participating-drunk-redneck listens to the oldies, the oldies being '50's and '60's stuff, so he only listens to WZBH if I need to write an article. 

I now drive a route in a vehicle without a radio.  The only time I get to listen to the radio is when my vehicle is in for maintenance and I get to drive the vehicle with a radio.  It's been about three weeks, maybe a bit more since I tuned in.  I listened to Leah, turned the radio off for Drew since I couldn't stand that pervert's persona, and listened a bit to Jason Lee.  How things change in three weeks.  According to WZBH's website, Leah, Drew, and Jason Lee are no longer part of the programming line up. 

Sadly, Billy Madison still is.

I reckon I'll need to drive the vehicle with a radio this week to catch up what's happening at WZBH.  Or I could just be happy with listening to my favorite DJ, Amelia, out of Baltimore the once in a while I get to drive the vehicle with a radio and flip through the stations when I'm out of her zone.

So how did Crank get kidnapped in all of this?

Crank, if you remember, was the morning show host at WZBH for many years.  Always a sidekick, he wasn't cut out to be a star on his own.  Billy Madison, the syndicated show and not the person, replaced Crank. 

Crank lay low for about a year before taking a gig with New Country WXCY in Havre de Grace in that foreign land on the other side of The Bay.  He was there for about a year, give or take a few months, before disappearing.  And disappear he did.

A call to WXCY resulted in nothing other than "He's missed."  Crank's FaceBook page has been eerily quiet.  The page still shows he works for Delmarva Broadcasting Company, owners of WXCY, but he definitely is not there.
Proof Crank is a Dominoes Driver?

After Adam's Radio Group killed rock and roll, they kidnapped Crank.  If I ever could bring myself to stomach a Billy Madison Show, I might find out that the bodacious woman being spanked on air is Crank.  You know, that underworld of BDSM porn can be very shady and seedy, but when one needs to make money, can be very profitable - and a man can scream like a woman, which we suspect Crank would be a perfect screamer.  No more all beef hotdogs on the kids' plates.  A BDSM porn star can afford real beef patties, maybe even with cheese.

Or, as poetic justice would have it, Crank (real name: Andrew Murr) could be your Dominoes Pizza driver.  

TL;DR folks
If you don't live on Delmarva, you might not be interested in knowing how local rock stations killed rock and roll just like most rock stations across the nation have done.  If you don't know who Crank is and you're in Cecil County, order a Dominoes pizza.  He might deliver it to you.

Update - what we do know:
  • Jason Lee, as of June 23, is working at WAMS 94.9 Delmarva's Album Music Source according to his FaceBook page.  Best info available - it's a station in Newark, MD.
  • Leah, according to her LinkedIn page, still works for WZBH.  According to WZBH, Carolina has taken over Leah's time slot.
  • Drew Cage is...well...a sweat drop off some guys testicle and thankfully gone.
  • Crank is still missing - either being tortured at Dominoes or being tortured in Billy Madison's basement.  His last known location was in Havre de Grace, but he hasn't been seen there in about four months.

Latest update - We've found Leah! (04 Jul 17):

Yes, we found Leah way up north in Massachusetts at Lazer 99.3 & 105.1.  Best guess - going north was a move up for Leah, a positive move for a bigger audience and presumably a bigger pay check.  Maybe some day she'll check in and let her fans down here know how she's doing.

For your listening pleasure
Posted by Five Drunk Rednecks

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Unanswered questions wrapped in a spider web

Imagine if you had to build this every time
you got hungry and needed to catch a Big Mac
Walking through the woods with my demon detector, this little fella pictured on the right halted my journey.

Ok, you might be thinking, "What the heck is a demon detector and how do you walk it?"

For now, suffice it to say that my demon detector plays a central role in my next article, The demon lurking in your e-cig.  You really wouldn't want me to spoil the upcoming article by explaining what the demon lurking in your e-cig is and what a demon detector does, now would you?  My couple of faithful readers, however, can probably guess what the heck I'm talking about. 

Now, back to the unanswered questions wrapped in a spider web.

The sunlight shone on this web at the perfect angle to highlight all its intricacies.  You might think dew accentuated the sun's effect, but the picture was taken a couple of hours past noon.  The dew, if there were any that morning, had long since dissipated.  What you're looking at is a web and the glue the spider produces to make the web sticky.  The angle of the sun reflected off the web and drops of glue perfectly.

The sight stopped me in my tracks on my journey with my demon detector.  Usually, I trek through the woods crashing through spider webs woven across the path simply because I don't see them until I've walked into them.  At certain times of the year, I have gotten into a habit of carrying a stick that I wave up and down in front of me to clear the path of these unseen traps that are harmless to you and me, but deadly to other insects.

The intricacy of the web caught my attention first.  What engineering degree from what school did the little fella learn how to build this design? 

Ok, I haven't had that many beers, yet.  Obviously, the little fella didn't go to school to learn how to build an insect trap so he could eat dinner.  He just "knows" how to do it.  So first real question - does the web building abilities of spiders imply knowledge has a genetic basis?  If how to build a web is genetic based, what are the genes encoding this knowledge and how did creatures evolve to start encoding knowledge in the first place?

Yeah, I know what you're thinking.  "Who cares?  Spiders just know how to do it because it's instinctual."

Of course it's instinctual.  That's the definition of "genetic knowledge", I reckon.  Every spider of this species spins the same geometric pattern.  Other species of spiders spin other designs.  The orb spider spins webs three feet across with strands that are more tightly wound.  The writing spider puts a jagged scribble in its web.  Funnel spiders build "white tornado" webs.  Each species is genetically wired to build a web almost identical to every other spider in its species, but the genetic wiring is most definitely different among the species.

Not impressed?  Think of the engineering that must be genetically encoded to get the almost identical webs of each species.  The little fella in this picture had to pick a location where he had at least five points to anchor the web.  Those five points had to be spaced within certain parameters to allow for the shape of the final web that we see.  A mathematician could probably calculate that range of the five points in relation to each other and even calculate the number of probable good locations per cubic foot of forest volume for the little fella to build a web.  A biologist could tell us if the spider only uses five points every time he builds a web or uses more (or less) depending on location without losing the design integrity. 

Fortunately, the spider doesn't need to concern itself with bigger questions this web raises like how does that little body produce so much silk and glue?  Why do insects get stuck in the web, but the spider does not?

Ooops, that last question is answered.  The narrator is a bit of a goofy nerd type, probably high on spider venom or something, but he answers why spiders don't get stuck in their own webs in a quick, fun, and entertaining way.

His answer, however, complicates the idea that knowledge is genetic.  Not only does the spider have to know the proper location, points of anchor, and the geometric design of its final product, but it also has to know which strands to make non-sticky, which ones to make sticky, and where to place the glue.  Look at the picture again.  The sun reveals the web isn't smeared in glue all over.  There are carefully placed droplets on the strands and, yes, strands almost bare of glue, particularly at the center where the spider spends most of its time while it waits for dinner to come to it.

If that's too many questions to ponder at this moment, perhaps it's time to take a wine break or something.  Sip a nice glass of Cabernet and think about all the complexity of genes in that tiny spider that allows it to get dinner.  Then ask yourself, "Why does a spider have all that construction and engineering knowledge in its genes, but we have to spend tens of thousands of dollars each year for four years to learn the same mathematical and engineering principles the spider is born with?"

For your viewing pleasure:

Posted by Five Drunk Rednecks

Sunday, June 4, 2017

"covfefe" was nothing compared to his earlier blunder

After taking a nine day hiatus from tweeting, Trump, our so-called president, returned from his European trip of embarrassing America to embarrass himself on Twitter.

Simply embarrassing.

Ok, maybe flippancy isn't the way to make a point, but how can anyone take the hoopla made over Trump's tweet seriously, the tweet where he invented a new word, covfefe?  After all, Trump, himself, tweeted a joke about it the next morning.

“Who can figure out the true meaning of ‘covfefe’???  Enjoy!” he tweeted.

That evening, Hillary Clinton followed Trump's joke with one of her own.

"People in covfefe houses shouldn't throw covfefe," she tweeted in response to Trump's tweet denigrating her for blaming everyone except herself for her presidential bid loss.

In all the media's kerfuffle over "covfefe," they missed his tweets from two days earlier.  On Sunday morning, about eight o'clock, Trump tweeted:

His first tweet announces his arrival in Italy and he boasts that he told other NATO members they need to pay more.  Within seconds, he followed that tweet with a cheer leading rah-rah for the GOP's win in Montana, but lost his train of thought by the second sentence.  He got as far as typing the subject of the sentence, then took a five minute break to figure out what else he wanted to say.  We find out in his third tweet all he wanted to say was rah-rah for the GOP on their win in Montana.  Nine minutes later Trump announces his arrival in the US, which means he made the trip from Italy in a record fourteen minutes.

Trump deleted the first two tweets shortly after the eighteen minutes had lapsed, which, by my estimate, was in less than twenty minutes.  Fortunately, I was awake and caught them before he deleted them.

Allow me for a minute to step on the Trump supporters' side and explain what happened.  Trump isn't a morning person.  On top of that, he was extremely jet lagged after his nine day, twelve to sixteen hours each day, whirlwind tour of Europe.  He probably should've had a cup of coffee before tweeting, but he did compose himself rather quickly.  Jet lag can make even the youngest and healthiest person do some odd things so there's nothing out of the ordinary here.

If this tweet slip were an isolated incident, sure, most of us could buy those excuses.  Problem is he's the President of the most powerful country in the world.  He should know and fully understand that everything he does, says, and, yes, tweets, is going to be scrutinized.  That means, jet lagged or not, a typed tweet needs to be proofed three times, let to sit as a draft for at least five minutes, and then proofed three more times before hitting the tweet-key.  Once it's sent, there's no taking it back.

Now let's take a look at those tweets made in a fourteen minute span again.  He's confused, which considering his age, one has to wonder if some form of senility that comes with age is beginning to show itself.  He didn't know where he was and he doesn't know that a President should be concerned with national issues, not local elections and whether or not his side won.

The scenario Trump created Sunday morning is reminiscent of  a Star Trek, The Original Series episode.  The episode had Kirk go to a planet to look for a missing cultural observer of the Federation.  What Kirk found was a culture modeled after Earth's Nazi Germany.  The missing cultural observer appeared to the people daily on closed circuit TV and delivered inspiring speeches, but it turned out he was a drugged puppet of his close advisor behind the scenes.

Now think back to two of the four debates and the sinus "problems" Trump had that were clearly audible.  Look at those four disjointed tweets on Sunday morning and keep in mind that two days later, he made up the word "covfefe" that no one knows what the word means.  And don't forget the White House spokesman brushed that tweet off as codespeak that only those who know the code understood what it meant.

If Trump is the drugged up puppet, who is the puppet master?

Who'd have thought this washed up middle-aged
beach bum would become president?
That would be the White House Chief Strategist, Stephen K. Bannon.  It's no secret he's been pulling the strings of Trump - as PBS' Frontline detailed - since before Trump knew he was going to run for president.  In Trump, Bannon found an expert con man and accomplished showman who, based on Trump's audible sinus snorting, was already drugged enough to easily manipulate.  Like the cultural observer in Star Trek, Trump was the face and personality Bannon needed to start the deconstruction of America.

The million dollar question would be why Bannon would want to set America on a course of self destruction.  Suffice it to say that Bannon doesn't want America to self destruct.  He wants an America where White, heterosexual, Christian males rule the country and set the standards everyone else needs to follow.  Right now, among these White Nationalists, Putin is their hero so it's no coincidence that the Russians were instrumental in influencing our election, an influence that helped Trump get elected.

Yes, the Russians are guilty.  Putin acknowledged the fact that patriotic Russians may have hacked American computers to sway the election, but denied any official state sponsorship of the hacking.  The Russians do, however, know what they are doing and White nationalists in our country are falling for it, as US News & World Report details.

Now is the time to start talking about old age and senility in our president; a White nationalist as the key puppet master of the aging, senile man pretending to be president; and ways to reverse the trend to send America backwards to a perceived, romanticized version of her past.

All the dots are there.  Time to connect them.

For the TL;DR folks:
You're screwed.

For your listening entertainment:

Posted by Five Drunk Rednecks

Monday, May 22, 2017

What Memorial Day means to me

An Internet acquaintance of mine, Dan Elder, Cmd Sgt Maj, US Army, Retired (@DandotElder) shared a tweet by Duane K. L. France (@ThCounselingVet) asking readers to "Change Your POV About Memorial Day".  Even at the expense of forgoing the rest of my article, I urge you to follow the link and change your POV of Memorial Day.

If you came back after reading the above article, thank you.  Now you get to hear another veteran's take on what Memorial Day means to him.  It's only one story of millions and not that spectacular, but it is genuine.

First, let me make it clear that I served my four years during peace time.  I took my honorable discharge after four years because I decided I didn't want to make the military my career.  I was put on standby for the First Gulf War, but I was never recalled to duty.  As I write the rest of this article, in no way do I want to mislead you, the reader, into thinking maybe I was a combat veteran. 

That said and stated, what does Memorial Day mean to me? 

From my earliest memories, Memorial Day signified the three day weekend welcoming in summer.  It meant about a week more of school, maybe two if we used up all of our snow days, and then nothing but swimming and fishing every day.

Somewheres along the way, I came to learn that Memorial Day was the day to honor our fallen veterans.  I understood the esoteric sense of the meaning of Memorial Day but, I suspect like a lot of people, the meaning held a degree of emotional disconnect.  Despite hailing from a military family, I didn't know anyone who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. 

Sure, I'd cheer at a parade as veterans groups from wars past marched by, watch in silent reverence the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, or get choked up listening to Taps play, but my actions and reactions were mechanical, without emotion.  It was all part of building my national pride rooted firmly and deeply in our collective history, a history built with blood, sweat, and tears and often with the ultimate sacrifice of our veterans who ensured we lived in the land of the free.

But after the last group had paraded by, or the clip of the President attending the changing of the guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier had ended, or a soldier had lowered his bugle and saluted the fallen as he ended his rendition of Taps, the weekend was still beer, burgers, and fishing.

Funny thing happens as one ages.  The emotional disconnect grows smaller each year.  Maybe it's the result of an accumulation of life's experiences.  Maybe it's the result of our tendency for introspection as we hit grandparent age and older.  Maybe it's the result of both factors or other factors I haven't even thought of yet. 

The dwindling emotional disconnect isn't an overnight event either.  The emotional disconnect simply grows smaller and smaller, almost imperceptibly, with each passing year.  Then one day you sit down at the keyboard linked to your favorite social media platform (or if you're old fashioned, you pick up a pen and paper) and you fire off a tirade about a bonehead decision some elected official made.  Later that night while watching the news, you see a report of a veteran killed in some far away place or you see a public service announcement regarding our wounded warriors and it then hits you.  They are the ones who made it possible for you to fire off that tirade earlier.

It may take some more time, but you begin to realize veterans over the last two hundred years plus and the veterans today are the ones who have made it possible for you to go to the Church of your choice every Sunday or forgo Church altogether to watch football and drink beer.  They are the ones who have made it possible for you march in the streets to air your grievances or show support for someone else's cause.  They have made it possible for you to read any publication of your choice or write anything you want.  They are the ones who have strengthened our social and legal infrastructure so that there are not "state approved" religions, publications, or public gatherings.  They are the ones who have ensured the government stays out of our homes and allow us to move about freely without being snatched off the streets and thrown in jail without probable cause or requiring proper papers to travel between states. 

Fallen American veterans who never returned to
American soil.  The Normandy American Cemetery
and Memorial is one of 26 cemeteries for our
veterans on foreign soil.
That's when you realize the veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice - their lives - so you can drink beer, eat burgers, and go fishing as you kick off summer deserve their special day of honor.  They sacrificed their opportunity to kick off summer with their families so that you could. 

Veterans continue to give the ultimate sacrifice today to ensure none of our daily activities we take for granted and enjoy are ever taken from us.

In the last two decades, I've come to realize another set of veterans we should honor on Memorial Day.  Those are the veterans who returned home, wounded. 

Most of us recognize the heartbreaking wounds we can readily see - veterans coming home in wheelchairs or missing arms and legs.  They came home, but they sacrificed a part of themselves on the battlefield that will forever alter their lives. 

Then there are the wounds we don't see.

"My son came home, but he's different.  I don't know how to talk to him.  He's not the same."

I'm not sure if those are the exact words of the mother in the commercial talking about her son's adjustment to civilian life while suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome, but they're pretty close.

That commercial took me back sixteen years to something a veteran said to me that I didn't exactly know how to interpret back then. 

Like always, he was drunk.  I can't recall what we were talking about before his one moment of clarity nor what we talked about after his one moment of clarity.  That one moment of clarity is all that seared a permanent image in my mind.

His lifelong drinking problem got him to the point that he often repeated the same stories, sometimes two or three times within an hour span.  One day, in between one of his oft repeated stories, his booze glazed eyes cleared to a bright brown.  They were the bright eyes of a hopeful, young man filled with regret and sorrow.

"He couldn't have been more than nineteen," he started in a clear, slurred-free speech.  "He was less than a hundred yards away." 

He swallowed hard to hold back his emotion.  "I wonder what kind of family he would have had today."

He quickly swigged a shot of whatever he was drinking.  His eyes glazed over to his normal drunken stupor in a blink as he moved on to one of his oft repeated stories.

I knew from his previous, but vague, stories he must've been talking about his experience in Cuba during the Bay of Pigs fiasco almost forty years earlier.  That moment of clarity made sense of his life long dislike for President Kennedy and why he always referred to him as a cowering coward even in his more sober days. 

He experienced something in Cuba, but exactly what I'll never know.  The veteran passed away within a year after that moment of clarity he shared with me.  Over the last few years of his life, he tried sharing his story, but didn't know how.  He came close that one day, but his time was too short to finish his story.

When I saw that commercial of the mother describing her son, it resonated with me.  We hold our veterans up as heroes and we're all taught that heroes don't feel pain, sorrow, and regret.  When our veterans experience the horrors of battle, many let the idealistic, young man inside them die on the battlefield simply because they don't know how to talk about their experiences and seek help, yet still be heroes.

I can't help but wonder if the veteran who tried to talk about his experience in Cuba would've been a different - and maybe sober - man if he hadn't been in Cuba or he knew how to seek help to deal with his experience only he truly understood.  That's another side of the story I'll never know.

Memorial Day is set aside to honor our veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice.  I've expanded it to include honoring the veterans who buried part of themselves on the battlefield, but came home - different.  Our wounded veterans, both physically and emotionally scarred, sacrificed a part of themselves so we can drink beer, eat burgers, and go fishing as we usher in a new summer in freedom.  We should salute each and every one of them as we honor our fallen veterans.

TL;DR folks
If you read the first paragraph, but didn't follow the link, "Change Your POV About Memorial Day," please do so.

We salute you and thank you:

Posted by Five Drunk Rednecks

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Dodgeball gave us Election 2016

Election 2016 and the resulting aftermath happened because there is no dodgeball in our schools.  A few decades ago our educators decided the little kiddies might get hurt and banned the staple of childhood games.

They didn't stop there.

They went on to banning recognition of individual achievements because our educators figured some of our kiddies' egos might get bruised if we recognized the achievements of others instead of each and every students' efforts.  Now every participant receives an award because participation is just as important as winning.  We've had an entire generation and a half raised believing no matter what they do - and don't do - they are still winners and will get a trophy.

And helicopter Moms are always hovering nearby to make sure everyone treats their kiddies like they are winners.

Those kiddies are now young adults and young adults pushing middle age.  But before we start talking about how life is smacking them around and how they respond by crying in the streets in hopes their tantrum will bring Mom swooping in to save the day, let's back up to how our leadership led us where we are today.

Bush, Sr sat as the last President from the old school.  The old school comprised the adults in the '40 and '50s who scratched their heads over where the infestation of hippies, drugs, and free love came from in the '60's to early '70's.  They're also the parents of those hippies.

After Bush, Sr, we got the "But I didn't inhale" Clinton for eight years.  He taught us free love in the White House was the ultimate hippie orgasm.  Clinton was followed by the coke addict, Bush, Jr, for another eight years.  He taught us literacy didn't matter and torture was fun.  Bush, Jr was followed by Obama for eight years.  Obama wasn't a hippie, but was a Yuppie.  He was the product of the coke snorting, pot smoking new wave era.  Back then, one could smoke in the night clubs and there was more than tobacco haze clouding the dance floor in a new wave fog.  Obama tried to teach us the American way wasn't as good as the European way and set us on a path of heavy taxation to fund elaborate social programs so we could be more like the Europeans.

Unconfirmed rumors has it that Hillary met
Bill while burning her bra at a protest
like this one
Election 2016 gave us two more products of the Hippie generation to choose from - flower child Hillary Clinton and beatnik Donald Trump.  One can almost see Clinton throwing her bra on the campus bonfire and Trump ripping his draft card up and throwing the pieces into the wind.  Doesn't matter whether they did those things or not.  It's still easy to see them doing it.

The scary part is what the Hippies and Yuppies have wrecked upon our government and their peers have wrecked upon the business world and education system.  Also joining forces with the Hippies and Yuppies in the business world and education system are the first wave of everything-is-about-me Slackers, the Gen Xers.  The oldest have reached the age where they are trickling into the halls of Congress.

As the first wave of Baby Boomers - the Hippies - fade away to the nursing homes, the second phase of Baby Boomers - the Yuppies - and the Slackers will be in full control with the Millenials pushing in from behind.  Now I ask you, what more than Clinton or Trump could we have expected the '60s young adults to become today? 

Now the real scary question.  What can we expect the me-'70s, who cares-'80s, the world is a virtual game-'90s, and the turn that dang camera on me baby-'00s, young adults to become when they hit the over forty age where they become the movers and shakers?

If the young adults of the '60s and what they've become today are any indication, we're in for an every-man-woman-transgender-cisgendered-emo-ze-[your chosen pronoun here] for him-her-trans-cis-emo-ze-[your chosen pronoun here]-self future.

And now you see the icing on the cake of the level of frustration building in the average working person, the blue collar American sliding closer to poverty as they are ridiculed for not even referring to someone by their proper pronoun.

No, the frustration isn't the flash in the pan controversy over transgenders and which pronouns we should use in their presence.  In the good old days, as us old drunk rednecks like to say, we would have to look up what transgendered meant to understand what I just typed.  And then we would just brush off the "controversy" as something Hollywood or National Enquirer made up because...word of warning here - hurtful truth coming...who really cares what gender you are except the perverts who want to make a big deal of it?

We care now because of how we use technology, and how we use technology makes us care.  Redundant?  Yes, and purposefully so.  We're stuck in a loop that dooms us to repeated failures until, as computer programmers will tell you, you fix the programming to either avoid the loop or provide an escape route when stuck in it. 

Fortunately, we may have an escape route called iGen.  The oldest in this generation are twenty now and were raised in a completed interconnected, interactive world.  They are experiencing everything good and bad with the virtual world and will redesign it so that it stays contained in the technology without any spillover into the real world as is happening today.  That, however, is an article for another day.  This Yuppie wants to get back to how the Hippies took away dodgeball and gave us the crappy Election 2016.

While many Hippies took to the streets burning bras and draft cards, the majority of the young people of the late '60s to early '70s went to school, served in the military, fought Vietnam, worked hard at the factory, and raised their families.  They silently watched as their more radical peers eliminated competition in our schools because they felt kids needed to learn everybody is a winner, replaced corporal punishment with time outs, drugged the kids with Ritalin when the time outs didn't work, and cleaned up our speech so we wouldn't inadvertently offend someone.

The Yuppies learned quickly that while their older brethren were busy preaching peace and love, all the blue collar manufacturing jobs had moved overseas.  The new information and technology economy offered plenty of jobs, but mostly jobs at or near minimum wage with little growth opportunity.  No longer did one work at a job for thirty or forty years, growing with the company.  Jobs lasted three to five years before a need for a pay raise forced the employee to look for an equivalent job elsewhere.  The late '70s onwards saw no real wage growth for the average worker.  Yuppies learned that to be at least as successful as their parents, the spouse would have to work full time, too.  Silently they worked, husband and wife, to keep themselves at an economic level comparable to their parents' successes.

The Slackers accepted that the Hippies and Yuppies screwed up by exporting the good jobs overseas and the new economy demanded ways to cut spending in order to increase the weekly take home pay.  Cries blaming excessive spending on social programs to help the poor and less fortunate grew louder.  In response, massive welfare reform took effect in the '90s. 

Blaming the poor and less fortunate for freeloading instead of working still resound today.  Oddly, no one has demanded reform in our tax, labor, and regulatory laws to bring back the jobs lost to overseas workers over the previous fifty years.  It was simply easier to blame the poor and less fortunate.  Silently the frustrated worked - husband and wife - struggling to give their kids what their parents were able to give them as their more radical peers took to the street against Wall Street.

The Millenials are now firmly entrenched in our workforce as young to middle aged adults.  They're quick to blame the Baby Boomers (Hippies and Yuppies) for everything, don't even know the Slackers exist, and claim to have all the answers to improve our take home know, that pay that hasn't changed in the last forty years.  Their solution is cut the social programs and eliminate, don't raise, the minimum wage.  Thanks to technology called the Internet, they no longer work silently thinking their government will work out solutions.  With eighteen minutes of Googling, they are economic, business, and social experts and are raring to turn this country upside down to make things right again.

And the stage is set for Election 2016.


For the moment, I'm not going to talk about those industrious couples working three or four jobs between the two of them so they can provide their children a brighter future.  No one has paid attention to them before so ignoring them for a minute more ain't going to hurt their feelings. 

Let's talk about the candidates.  One is a lying crook; the other is a crooked liar.  Ok, that's the list of the two candidate's differences.  There's not enough Internet pages to list how similar the two are.

We were in trouble before we even went to the polls.  This is where we need to listen to those couples working three or four jobs and not seeing any real growth in their income over the last forty years.  They are the ones living the American Dream by working hard, but not seeing the promised rewards for working hard.  Instead, they see themselves treading water or even going under as they struggle to catch another gulp of air.

Surprisingly, by almost three million more votes, they went for higher taxes and elaborate social programs by voting for Clinton.  It's not that they liked her vision and the direction she wanted to continue taking this country.  It was that the alternative was a con man - a showman with appalling character flaws, that won Clinton those extra three million votes.  In four years, Clinton couldn't head us much further in the wrong direction than Obama already had.  Clinton was a calculated risk as the hard working Americans hoped for a real statesman or stateswoman to burst on the scene in 2020.

Unconfirmed reports claim Trump planned to
attend a draft card burning protest, however  his
doctor detained him on the golf course as he wrote
an excuse for Trump's fifth draft deferment
Trump, however, knew how to play the numbers.  He campaigned almost exclusively in three swing states daily for the electoral votes.  He got them by a mere eighty thousand votes.  His tactic work.  History will record that nationally, three million more people found Trump to be more disagreeable than Clinton, but eighty thousand votes in three states found Clinton more disagreeable.  Those eighty thousand are the votes that won Trump the presidency.

It's safe to say 2016 saw no winners.  We're looking at the last of the dregs of the Hippie generation wrecking their havoc.  We still have about another fifteen years to get through the Yuppie generation, the last half of the Baby Boomers.  Then we have to get through the Slackers and, horrors of horrors, the Millenials.  iGen will start taking over from about 2040 onwards.  I hope those kids are listening and paying attention today. 

Generational rivalry aside, what are the average, hard working Americans across the generations looking for?

Real statesmen/stateswomen with a vision past what has already been done.  New technologies and vast interconnectedness of the entire globe translates into a need for a global thinker, one who doesn't take away from the former economic powers, but integrates all countries into one super economy for the benefit and advancement of everyone.

As the kid points to the sky and asks, "What does that mean?" - what does that last paragraph I wrote mean?

Heck if I know.  But let's see if I can try to explain.

At the end of WWII, we emerged as the world's super power because we were the only industrialized country with an intact infrastructure left.  Every politician in the White House and Congress since WWII hadn't had the foresight to base public policy on the assumption that the rest of the world, economically, would eventually catch up and surpass us. It only took the rest of the world about twenty years before we began seeing our jobs going overseas.

The vision of our current administration and most in Congress is to take us back to the 1950's when America reigned supreme, life was good, and kids dressed in suits and ties to go to the Saturday matinee like they did in the Beaver days.

For the average, hard working American, they don't see a return to the days of Beaver as a solution.  They see an American economy where twenty percent control ninety percent of the wealth.  Getting ahead isn't about working hard.  It's about who you know and, in a lot of cases, how well you do them.  It has to be.  It's the only way eighty percent of hardworking Americans can scramble for the ten percent of the wealth that's left for us to fight over.

Hitting them harder is the realization that they haven't been building a career.  They've been working a job that is poised to be taken over by machines within the next twenty years. The current administration might be trying to bring back manufacturing jobs, but the average, hard working American can't understand why giving job opportunities to machines is more important than providing career opportunities to the hard working employees whose jobs the machines will soon replace.

In other words, they want hard hitting dodgeball players in the White House and in Congress.  They want players who can take a beating and hit back hard while being good sportsmen and sportswomen about it all. 

What they don't want is participation trophy winners.  They don't want them any where near a government position.  They don't want them crowding the public stage trying to catch their moment in the spotlight. They certainly don't want them on Twitter and in our streets bawling like Baby Huey because they didn't get their way. 

And they certainly don't want to return to the past when the romanticized version of history says America was great.  The only beneficiaries of returning to the 1950's era of governing will be the machines poised to take over our jobs.

It's time to export all of our participation trophies to Russia and bring dodge ball back to our schools to teach our leaders of tomorrow the importance of competition, the value of sportsmanship, and the meaning of winning and losing.  After about thirty more years or so, maybe then we'll have raised real statesmen and stateswomen prepared to lead this country. 

For the TL;DR folks:
What we see our young adults (high school through college age) doing today will be the state of our country forty years from now.  We only have to look at the state of the late sixties to early seventies to understand why we ended up with Clinton and Trump in 2016.

For your listening pleasure:

Posted by Five Drunk Rednecks

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Delmarva raising chickens bigger than ostriches

For my readers who may not be familiar with Delmarva, we're farm and fishing country.  Chicken farming is big business with Delmarva playing host to four major companies: Allen Family Foods, Mountaire, Perdue and Townsends.  Seventeen hundred family farms supply the processors with the chickens and when you add everything up (feed mills, hatcheries, and processing plants), the chicken industry on Delmarva employs about 14,000 people and growing.

Can you imagine the size of the
chicken attached to that neck?
Now I don't know which of the seventeen hundred families raising chickens for the four big companies did it, but it appears a farm around Pocomoke City, MD in Worcester County raises record breaking chickens.  This sign outside of the SYSCO food distributor plant advertises they have 40 pound chicken necks in stock.

Believe it or not, I found a question Google couldn't answer.  I wanted to know how big a chicken would be if it had a 40 pound neck.  I tried wording the question many different ways and couldn't get an answer.  The only relevant answer I could get was an average chicken neck weighs around two ounces.

Then I found a second question Google couldn't answer.  I figured an ostrich, the world's largest bird, looked like a giant chicken so I wanted to know how much an ostrich neck weighed.  I learned a lot of neat facts about an ostrich, but not one of those facts led me to an answer of how much an ostrich's neck weighs.

Determined to find an answer, I put my math skills to work.  Since Google knew how much an average male ostrich weighs (350 lbs) and the weight of an average broiler chicken (7 lbs), that means an ostrich is about 50 times larger than a chicken.  That means a chicken the size of an ostrich would have a neck weighing six and a quarter pounds.  Of course an ostrich has a much longer neck than a chicken, so there's a margin of error in my calculations, but I'll fudge the math like Congress does the budget and conclude that a chicken with a forty pound neck would be six times the size of an ostrich.

The elephant bird is huge, but that little chicken
would still be 2 to 3 times larger if it had a 40 lb neck!
How big is six times the size of an ostrich?  The extinct elephant bird was the largest living bird until four hundred years ago.  A chicken six times the size of an ostrich would still be bigger than the elephant bird.

Let's suffice it to say that if you came across this chicken with a forty pound neck wandering around Pocomoke City, MD, you'll want to get out of its way.  It might mistake you for a tasty caterpillar.

Now you might be wondering why I shared this story.  When I rode past this sign, Ray Steven's Teenage Mutant Kung Fu Chickens popped in my head, a song I hadn't heard for years.  So I thought I'd share the sign with you so that silly song would pop in your head.  In case it doesn't pop in your head, plug your headphones in and enjoy the cartoon.

Posted by Five Drunk Rednecks