ReallyRight

We're not just Right, We're Really Right

Religion, Politics, & Culture: Defined and Explained


Thursday, April 19, 2018

Camden Croc

Last Friday after returning home from work, I called Mr. X to chat. (Do long distance rates still drop after 5 pm.?) Anyway, as is my practice, I usually walk around the neighborhood while talking on the phone.

I noticed a scantily clad Asian woman that was with some guy that was operating a commercial grade camera on hefty tripod next to the nearby lake. The back door of a nearby van was open and some opened large equipment cases were visible. I’ve always wondered what Victoria’s Secret is and somehow I think this gal had the answer but I was too busy to ask. Nearby, a beaver and a few geese were frolicking in the water close to the camera.

As I walked a minute further down the path, I saw the KOVR Channel 13 live truck off in the distance. Knowing this was out of place in my neighborhood, I wandered over to see what was going on. I was stopped by some lady that said she was President of the Camden Neighborhood Association. Again I saw a commercial camera on a tripod and an info-babe that had a microphone in her hand checking the area. Without stopping for a breath, the President then said I couldn’t walk any further down the path. I told Mr. X to hold for a minute and then asked what the commotion was all about. That is when I heard the news that people not only had seen an alligator in the little lake at this exact spot but they even had the photos to prove it . The explanation that I was given was verbatim what you saw if you turned in to KOVR-TV or saw the report that was posted on their website later in the evening.

“It came up and it would go straight under and up and under. We saw a head come up. The body was like three or four feet long,” said Karen Keeslar, who first spotted the alligator.

Keeslar says the first encounter was on Wednesday, and on Thursday, she saw it again. She says an alligator was inside Camden Lake right across the street from her home. She snapped a photo and shared it on social media.

Gavin Crutcher lives in the community and says he didn’t hesitate to check it out. Thursday night, he and other neighbors gathered around the lake to take a peak. Crutcher says the gator wasn’t aggressive, even walking the shoreline alongside its spectators.

Sharon Anderson, President of the Camden Neighborhood Association, also saw it.

Possible Alligator Spotted In Elk Grove Lake



image
Screen capture from KOVR broadcast

In the wake of the alligator report, crime tape and warning signs were used to create a perimeter that separated the lake from the paved path around the northern edge of the lake. The next day, I saw wary fishermen casting their lines over the crime tape to try and continue recreational fishing.


image
Gator warning sign


I have seen some interesting critters in the lake: beavers, otters, white pelicans, and geese that illegally emigrated from Canada just to come here to mooch off our food and have anchor babies and I know that people do dump their pet turtles and probably other critters in the lake but an alligator? If true, it either isn’t very big or hasn’t been there very long or it would have been sighted before now.


image
Offspring of illegal Canadian Geese—Anchor babies


While we pondered the merits of the sighting, no government employees were seen near the lake on Saturday or Sunday. The last time that I know Fish and Game was in the area was about five years ago when they drove thru the same area writing tickets to people fishing in the lake. People in the neighborhood waited to see what would happen on Monday when the G-men were back on the clock.

On Monday morning, I had barely been able to tell folks at work about the commotion in my neighborhood over the weekend when competing television station KCRA—who never covered the initial alligator story on Friday the thirteenth—posted the news that the whole thing was fraudulent.

Fish and Wildlife officials were also out looking for the gator, but a search online found the exact stock photo and video of the reptile taken in Florida.

KCRA has reached out to the woman who first posted the image, but she has not returned any messages.

CA officials: Possible alligator sighting in Elk Grove lake deemed a hoax



image
Stock Internet image found by Fish and Game-from Sacramento Bee

The station that broke the news on Friday also had to renounce the story.

Monday morning, wildlife officials said their investigation revealed the sighting to be a hoax.

Wildlife Officials Say Reported Alligator Sighting In Elk Grove Lake A Hoax

For many this was the end of the story but..


…what about the witnesses? Much was made by the President of the fact that a minister and his wife were among the witnesses. Clearly, to her this is proof of her credibility. There were at least four people that claimed to have seen the gator at different times. Even with photographic proof they were denounced in the media by a government agency as frauds.

I tried to imagine who in the government would believe the unbelievable. My mind began wandering back to my youth and then it hit me. Agents Mulder and Scully, this is the same setup as every episode of the X-Files and right in my backyard.

Then I tried to think of ways to prove that Elk Grove’s version of Nessie was real.


image
Nessie


Given the lack of resources that four individuals would have as compared to the full faith and credit of the State of California, how could they possibly fight back? The witnesses must feel like lone gunmen facing incredible odds. They are the good, the government the bad, and the situation is ugly. Only by regaining the trust of the public could these folks hope to even the odds and salvage their reputations.

I wondered how the witnesses could turn things around. A logic component of this effort would have to include a guerrilla marketing campaign utilizing the public as their eyes and ears in the search for the truth because “the truth is out there”. In this spirit I wish to offer this flyer to post around the lake.


image

Posted by william on 04/19 at 03:08 PM
News & PoliticsPermalink

Sunday, April 15, 2018

When Your City Has No Leadership and No Plan

By John Slamkowski

I want to take a moment to reflect on what has happened to my hometown of Elk Grove, CA.  Several contributors to this blog live in Elk Grove. First some background. Our City was founded on July 1st, 2000, splitting off from being an unincorporated area in Sacramento County.  The vote passed overwhelmingly; mostly because the folks pushing hardest made some convincing arguments.

The folks pushing cityhood argued that we (Elk Grove residents) were being overcharged and underserved by the County.  The Elk Grove area is represented by one of five county supervisors and the other four could care less about our needs and concerns. Cityhood was advocated to allow residents to control their own destiny instead of being subject to the whims of folks that don’t live here. The cityhood plan was to contract certain services such as law enforcement and leave fire and parks to the Community Services District (CSD) which had been running them for many years while allowing the city council to manage other aspects of a small and fairly rural community.

It was hoped that cityhood would result in less expensive private trash service and a bus system that wasn’t Sacramento County backed Regional Transit (RT).  On the surface the thoughts may have resonated well, RT most definitely was not perfect, and one would figure a private trash hauler would be cheaper than a county run one. 

For a while things started off rosy. Trash bills went down as Waste Management took over garbage collection.  The transition to a new bus service E-TRAN went like any other government takeover….horrific.  E-TRAN was the first 100% hybrid bus fleet of its kind and in hot 100-degree Sacramento Valley weather, most of the buses either died or had the air conditioner go out frequently.  Additionally, the buses had a very difficult time linking up with the RT buses to commute to downtown.  I knew of one example of someone who was a lifeguard at James Rutter School. She would have to catch a bus that left at 6:30 AM just to be able to transfer to an RT bus and get to James Rutter by 11:30!  The City also never understood one simple fact, mass transit is a drain on any budget; let alone when you decide to have a local bus as opposed to one administered Countywide.  Additionally, no one is ever on those buses when I see them pass by! 

A few years after cityhood passed, the carefully balanced cityhood agreement began to be dismantled by the city council. Two of the five council members who were active Sacramento County Sheriff deputies, were able to convince the council to establish its own police department. Before proceeding, I want to make one thing clear; no one writing for this blog is anti-police in any way, but this department is one of the worst run departments in the State of California. 

First, when you form a new department, other departments around the area are more than happy to “pass the trash” from them on to you.  (This term was used by a former lieutenant at EGPD by the way). Then we hired a police chief who resided full time in Renton, Washington, not Elk Grove.  After telling you that, are you surprised our police department gets more complaints filed against it than any other city in Northern California? 


The kicker came last year when a former trainee officer filed a discrimination lawsuit regarding his homosexuality against the city naming ¾ of the sergeant and lieutenants, as well as the outgoing chief and incoming chief of police, in addition to the internal affairs officers. Just as a side bar, not a single officer named in the lawsuit was placed on leave, terminated, or was ever investigated. It looks like a 7-figure settlement will be forthcoming.  Hard to imagine if that is how they harass their own, what they must think of the average citizen who lives, works, or commutes through here daily.


image

58 percent of City of Elk Grove Budget is law enforcement
38,104,054/65,605,012=58.1 percent

City of Elk Grove 2017-18 Budget page 28


To make matters worse our City Council began appearing in the local and Northern California papers for all the wrong reasons.  Some examples include a midnight vote guaranteeing health care benefits for life for the City Manager and City Attorney.  Then one of our finest, Jim Cooper, who was on the council, also serving as a Sac County Sheriff Captain at the time, voted repeatedly on matters involving a contract between the City of Elk Grove and his own Sheriff department, leading to a grand jury investigation…ouch that had to bite.  He will forever live in infamy with his Sheriff Deputy and councilmen pal Mike Leary—best known for being arrested after losing election for evicting his former girlfriend from their home and forging a document.  Not to mention the City and our Parks, Recreation and Fire District, sued each other for several years regarding who should be in control of the City’s area parks.  Like any other lawsuit, when two government entities sue each other, no side won or lost, lawyers got very wealthy, and the citizens got a Pepperidge Farm sausage to the backside.

During this period, city leaders began to see its residents as sources of revenue instead of the people that they were supposed to serve. Under the guise of helping law enforcement, the city installed “Cooper Cams ” at various intersection throughout the city to raise revenue to fund our ever-expending city payroll. The city doubled its utility tax, in part by calling it a tax cut in the ballot argument—which by the way was unopposed by the CRA and Tea Party folks living in our midst. The amount of taxes and fees just to break ground on a residential project rose to about $100,000 per home.

This was all happening during a time of unprecedented growth in this area. Population growth in Elk Grove was the highest in the United States for three years in a row. Most legislators in Sacramento resided in Elk Grove due to its quality of living and small-town feel. 

Then the housing bubble popped, and Elk Grove found itself being hit extremely hard by its high concentration of subprime mortgages.  This also saw the development of our “going to be better than Roseville Galleria Mall” stopped due to the mall developer’s parent company filing bankruptcy.  The blighted area became a heavy topic of future city council elections allowing Steven Detrick and Steve Ly to get elected to the body.  Suddenly the city that was known throughout the county as being a renegade town quickly became a part of the good ole boy network.  By the way Detrick has more FPPC violations and grand jury investigations than most would have in several lifetimes. 

Not long afterwards, voters decided to implement the election of a mayor every two years as opposed to rotating the job amongst the five council members every year. The original proponents of cityhood had purposely setup the rotating system amongst the five councilmen to allow for more sharing of power. No one person could have more sway with voters than another. Being mayor was just one among equals. The other purposeful distinction of cityhood was that candidates for council were elected by all the votes so that they were accountable to all not just represent their district to the exclusion of all else. It was a purposeful rejection of the model used by county supervisors in hopes that the council would act based on what is best for the city not just their little fiefdom.

It seems like since we got an elected Mayor that this city became Los Angeles on steroids.  Suddenly strip malls start being built everywhere in central and western Elk Grove (Laguna).  Worse yet, the buildings were erected but most never had a tenant, some even sit vacant to this day.  It’s almost like the city just wanted property tax revenue as opposed to collecting tax just based on the land.

While that was going on, more disturbingly we began hiring top positions for our city from other cities throughout northern California, none of whom called Elk Grove home.  Our City Manager Laura Gil?  From ritzy El Dorado Hills.  City Economic Director Randy Starbuck?  Pittsburg, California.  As mentioned earlier, the Police Chief continued to call Renton, Washington home. 

When you hire people with no ties to your city, they tend to not have the best intentions.  Take Randy Starbuck for example; he worked for this city from 2011-2014, a time where cities’ economies were reviving, and the result of his three years of hard work?  70 new jobs in Elk Grove, the majority being minimum wage jobs.  Starbuck was known for the monthly “business trips” to Las Vegas to try to shake down businesses and convince them to come to Elk Grove. He also spent countless hours trying to lobby Major League Soccer to grant Elk Grove a team.  Think about that for a couple moments, Las Vegas trips and a major league soccer team….in a town of 175k? 

Editor’s note: If soccer is so great, how come nobody talks about the success of the taxpayer funded multimillion dollar facility in Stockton?

I attended the council meeting where Starbuck was grilled and had his fate sealed. I remember the meeting like it was yesterday, he was grinning ear-to-ear talking about how he had recruited Green Acres to open a store here in Elk Grove…..yeah….great success.  The council let him have it, as did the actual residents of this town.  Reality is, it wasn’t all Cluster***ks fault. The city manager and council share more than a majority of the blame. They allowed this man to run around unchecked and not held accountable.  Also, Starbuck was not fired. Instead, he was put on paid leave for the remainder of his contract. Yes, folks we have a typical crony capitalist city out here now.

Despite efforts at economic development, the stores opening in Elk Grove aren’t much better either. We now have four Little Caesars Pizza stores, pretty much every chain restaurant known to man, a Smart and Final, Popeye’s, and a Grocery Store Outlet.  Gone are stores such as Bel-Air, The Fresh Market, and Baguettes.  Essentially the stores coming in match the clientele moving in, lower middle class and working poor families. 

I doubt any legislative staff or legislator calls Elk Grove home anymore. They have all moved to Folsom, Roseville, or downtown.  What do two of those cities have in common?  They are fighting adding more Section 8 housing within their city limits. Again, I’m not being racist here, just stating the obvious. Look at the Franklin/west of Highway 99 area of Elk Grove; most of the government subsidized, low income housing was built there, and crime has skyrocketed.  A friend of mine was hit by a hit and run driver in that area. Upon speaking to a police officer dispatched to take an accident report, he was told “hit and runs are an epidemic in this area now.”  Crime being up and hit and runs are a direct result of police officers not chasing bad guys but instead focusing on writing tickets in an effort to close the budget gap in our town.  Bringing me to my next point.

Remember how I talked about shopping centers popping up on each available square inch of land in the city?  Government buildings are going to start popping up very soon as well.  The city council is spending money they don’t have like a couple of drunken congressmen. In the hopper already is a new library (keep in mind we have two already run by the County), an convention center (the Falls Convention center was built less than two years ago and with private funds) an aquatic center (we have 2 water parks already—run by CSD—as well as two privately owned gyms with Olympic sized pools). Apparently, the city needs to have facilities that they can control, or it doesn’t count.

At the January 13, 2016 City Council meeting, staff presented a conceptual Civic Center Master Plan for the southern portion of the Civic Center site that would include an Aquatic Center and Commons, Senior Center/Community Center, Veterans Hall, Children’s museum, Library and botanical gardens/nature preserve.  At the meeting, the City Council directed staff to proceed with the completion of the refined Civic Center Master Plan, including a Phase 1 of the project, which includes an Aquatic Center, Senior Center/Community Center and Veterans Hall. The site plan and facilities continue to be refined through design team efforts and public outreach.

These Phase 1 projects are estimated to cost approximately $61 million.

City Planning and Special Projects

By the way, our city council thinks we will get some of the summer Olympics events here if California bids for them.  Yup, why would an Olympic swimmer want to swim in sunny southern California with Shamu and Mickey Mouse, when they can choose Elk Grove, that mass of houses in a bedroom community near Sacramento? 

We are building a sports complex in sparsely populated east Elk Grove. I’m not upset because I live out there, I’m upset because if you live on the other side of Highway 99—which goes through the center of our town—you are closer to downtown Sacramento than to Grant Line Road. 

Elk Grove city employees are seeking input on possible features and amenities at a proposed sports complex on property just south of the city.

City staff at a July 11 workshop will provide a presentation on the 100-acre parcel near the corner of Grant Line and Waterman roads in south Elk Grove.

City Manager Laura Gill said the cost to build all of the elements at the complex is estimated at around $110 million.

Elk Grove Citizen: Sports Complex

Also, rather than pay Sacramento County for animal shelter services at 500k per year, we are going to build our own dog pound for 12 million dollars plus salaries, benefits, and upkeep.  Lastly, we will be getting a landfill at some point because…well we could get fees from other cities and municipalities to dump here! 

Bid document for Animal Shelter and Community Center

Again, these will all be government administered buildings, which means more government jobs, pensions and benefits paid out later, paid for by bonds and taxpayer dollars right?  Or will they be? 

Remember that mall that was supposed to get built?  Every 6 months we got an update from one or more of our council members saying we will be breaking ground soon.  Our Mayor at the time, Gary Davis, said in the Fall of 2018 that the mall would be ready to be up and running.

“Outlet Mall. Howard Hughes Corporation (HHC) continues its development and leasing efforts for The Outlet Collection at Elk Grove, which will involve the construction of approximately 775,000 square feet of commercial uses… certificates of occupancy must be issued for 400,000 square feet by November 2018…”  City of Elk Grove 2017-18 Budget page 3


City of Elk Grove Budget 2017-18

Steve Detrick told me to my face that city staff were cold calling and already had half the leases spoken for at our state-of-the-art mall that would make every other city jealous. 

During the mall talk, an Indian Tribe nobody ever heard of before started looking at Elk Grove to build a casino, yes one of those casinos.  We were told again by the same two city councilmen and soon to be Mayor Steve Ly that a possible site could be at the mall, but the casino was just doing fact finding on available options.

Then overnight, the casino was announced. The casino developers promised that between the city and local school district over 132 million would be contributed over 20 years. 

The Elk Grove City Council on Sept. 28 unanimously approved a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) with the Wilton Rancheria. The tribe is proposing a $400 million entertainment and gaming facility on a 35.9-acre site near Highway 99 and Kammerer Road.

If the casino opens for business, the tribe would pay nearly $132 million in recurring and nonrecurring payments to the city and community of Elk Grove during the first 20 years of the MOU.

Elk Grove Citizen: Council Approves Casino Agreement

“The total cumulative payment from the Tribe to the community over 20 years is approximately $132 million. This amount far exceeds that which the City would expect to receive from tax revenues associated with the portion of the mall site upon which the Casino would be built.”

City of Elk Grove 2017-18 Budget page 4

The only good to come of this was that the city’s effort for a local sales tax increase was put on hold for a few years. The casino was coming to Elk Grove in the place of the planned mall….let’s call this exhibit 666 from our three congenital liars on the council.  This casino is being built because the city wants to expand and thinks it can legally extort its citizens to do so, via laundering the money through gambling agreements.

I have been harboring my feelings of frustration on the decline of our community for a long time but then the big boom, last straw or whatever you call it occurred when I went to my mailbox the other day and found a city-taxpayer funded glossy with an outline of Elk Grove, the purpose of which was to encourage citizens to spend money inside the lines, so it stays local to fund citywide initiatives.  At that point I felt the need to vent on the mismanagement and hypocrisy that passes for local government from people claiming to represent me.


image
Shop Between the Lines Newsletter


The article makes a point to avoid the Target on the other side of Calvine Road, even though that Target wanted to locate in Elk Grove before being rebuffed.  Ditto for both the Lowe’s and Costco.  Add the Walmart on Florin Road to that list, Steve Detrick fought it and that propelled him to be a councilmember.  Additionally, targeted, ironically are the CarMax and the new Delta Shores Mall by Green Haven.  This is rich, both entities wanted to be in Elk Grove. CarMax was willing to make every concession possible, but they were told “NO”, so they built just on the outside of Elk Grove.  Delta Shores, a nice brand new shiny mall, should have been here in Elk Grove but instead the council wanted a casino.  Full disclosure we are getting a Costco soon, but this is what happens when you have no vision and no plan.

 

Posted by william on 04/15 at 06:39 PM
BloggingPermalink

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Natural Gas from Sewers?

I was minding my own business yesterday and as is my usual practice, I went out to the communal mailbox to fetch my daily installment of junk mail and hoping to see a new Netflix DVD. I received a form letter that was from one of our many local utilities. This particular envelope was from Pacific Gas and Electric Company commonly known as PG&E. While the utility does provide electrical service to much of northern California, in our area electrical service is provided by SMUD (Sacramento Municipal Utility District). PG&E only supplies natural gas in my area.

On the face of it, this letter is weird. It appears that PG&E is concerned that past work on their natural gas pipelines has been cross-connected with sewer lines.

As part of our commitment to ensure your safety, we have hired a qualified contractor to perform gas and sewer safety inspections in your neighborhood.

These important safety inspections will ensure that our past natural gas pipeline work did not result in a conflict between your sewer line and gas service line .

Our contractor will use a video camera to inspect your sewer line.



image
Copy of PG&E letter with proper redaction


All I can think of reading the text of this letter is the San Bruno neighborhood that went up in flames many years ago. However, I know that inferno was the result of a different problem.

When I was a kid, it was common practice to light and then extinguish a match after a person spent a long time sitting on “the throne” to mask the smells in the bathroom; however, I had no idea that such a practice was a life threatening exercise due to PG&E getting natural gas from the sewer lines.

Why doesn’t PG&E spend time checking their own lines? The sewer lines don’t belong to them. I know because we get to write a generous check to the County of Sacramento on a regular basis to have the privilege of flushing our one gallon potty and washing dishes.

If there were any evil gasses escaping from the sewer lines then I would know because we have at least two drain traps in our home that have no seal on them because the fixtures are never used and the water in them has evaporated long ago.


image
Illustration from Plumbing Info showing how P-Trap seal works


Reading this letter reminds me of the joke about losing something and looking elsewhere because the light is better.


image
In 1942 a version of the joke appeared in the popular syndicated comic strip “Mutt and Jeff”. Three of the five panels in the strip are shown below. The gentleman in the top hat is Jeff.
Link: Better Light


I’m glad PG&E is able to fund this snipe hunt for cross-connected natural gas lines. I’d rather see them spend extra money on this because it’s at least related to utility service than spending my utility payments fighting traditional marriage like they were doing back when Prop 8 was on the ballot.

Once this vital inspection is completed, I will be relieved that my bathroom is once again declared a sanctuary free of life threatening gasses; in fact I will breathe easier.

Posted by william on 04/11 at 07:38 AM
BloggingPermalink

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Amazon Axing Music Service

Back when digital music downloads were in their infancy, many consumer choices were available. In 2001, Apple began their iTunes music while big music companies like Sony had their own services. Amazon decided to wade into this market as well. One reason was that Amazon got into the market is because Apple—in their typical snob appeal fashion—charged more for music from iTunes than other companies and furthermore, they required that it could only be played back on Apple devices. Amazon felt they could charge less and still be profitable in this market space.

Music Encryption
You may not remember this but back in the day, all music downloads sold by Apple were encrypted and only their software could unlock the encryption to allow playback. The only workaround for this was to make a music CD using iTunes and then using third party software rip the songs back to your computer. Once that was done, you could play your music on any device that you owned.

Rootkits
Both Apple and Sony had malicious defects in their software.

In 2005, Sony snuck rootkits into their music software and 22 million CDs that they produced. Rootkits operate at a level below the operating system and could be used to monitor your computer usage and download other software onto your computer without the operation system or antivirus programs being aware of its existence. This software reported user data to Sony without user consent or awareness. Sony produced these rootkits for many years before being outed by the Tech community. However, many of the CDs with preinstalled rootkits are still in circulation today. Link: Sony BGM copy protection rootkit scandal

SONY BMG can take two lessons from its recent wayward attempt to fend off digital piracy: One, in a world of technology-astute bloggers, it’s not easy to get away with secretly infecting your customers’ computers with potentially malicious code. And two, as many a politician has learned, explaining your own screw-up badly is often worse than the screw-up itself.

The Rootkit of All Evil

FYI: most Google Android devices are built with rootkit features that regularly report your phone info including address book and text messages to third parties including foreign governments which by the way does not include Russia. (We have previously documented these issues on our blog.)

Apple was aware of an iTunes a security vulnerability in 2008 but didn’t fix it until bad publicity forced their hand in 2011.
Link: Wikipedia iTunes

Apple also has pushed out rootkits in their music software but since Apple calls it a feature of their program, people somehow don’t get bother by it.

Ironically, this news comes on the heels of the recent Sony BMG DRM fiasco, a part of which included an undisclosed “phone home” feature of its own. Is the Apple MiniStore a rootkit DRM? Not from what we can tell, but it is part of a dangerous trend EFF has been witnessing in the digital music space market. When the music players on our computers start monitoring our listening habits, we’ve crossed a major privacy line. After all, my Sony stereo and my Panasonic boombox don’t shouldersurf my listening habits when I turn them on, so where does Apple get off suddenly doing it on my computer?

iTunes MiniStore “phone home” feature part of a dangerous trend in data collection

My recollection is that there were others instances but Apple rarely admits publicly to defects in their security or software.

If you want to get deeper into music encryption, see this article
Hidden Feature in Sony DRM Uses Open Source Code to Add Apple DRM



Amazon Introduces Encryption Free Music
In 2008, along came Amazon and offered essentially the same songs as iTunes for less money and without the digital rights management (DRM) encryption. Eventually, Apple began to relax the DRM requirement and by the time smartphones were a thing (2009), the encryption of mp3 files was eliminated. (Please note that Amazon gets no credit from the Apple folks for breaking the Steve Jobs monopoly on digit music.)

As a result of their overpriced music and lack of trustworthiness, I never use iTunes for anything and am reluctant to install it on any computing devices that I own. Only when some other Liberal company or educational institution grants monopoly status to the iTunes store will I consider using it. Even if Rush Limbaugh or Hugh Hewitt or some other conservative media guy offered their shows for free as a podcast only on iTunes I would still not install it. Yeah, I really hate Apple that much.

Anyway, as time went on, Apple decided to offer a music matching service. The way it was supposed to work was that if you had an LP and recorded the music onto your computer and then uploaded it to Apple, if Apple had a digital version in their library, they would replace your LP ripped version with a clean digital copy—usually at a higher quality that your recording.

Amazon, as Apple’s chief competitor in the music download market, implemented a similar offering. Both companies offered the ability to upload files and get the music match option. With an annual subscription, Amazon offered you the ability to upload up to 250,000 of your own songs; plus any music that you bought from Amazon did not count against the 250K limit. Thus the offer was not a dedicated amount of space on their servers but number of tracks. All this for $24.95 per year. Oh, and just to get you to try it, Amazon would let you upload up to 250 songs for free.



Ten years Later
In December 2017, Amazon eliminated the free 250 song upload offer. This month, the other shoe dropped on their digital music business model. It was announced that the paid subscription for warehousing 250,000 songs is going away.


image
Amazon Music software warning message


Interestingly, I have yet to see a single article on the tech blogs and news sites that I frequent that even mentions this move by Amazon. I guess maybe not that many folks utilize this feature. I guess the pirated music offered by Spotify is all the rage these days.

Overall, I’ve been happy with Amazon but I do have a few gripes. Amazon has neglected the music software that they produce. For most of its existence, album art that was wrong could not be corrected and sometimes after they rolled-out updates, the album art would be changed.

The music match offer that Amazon made was never well thought out from a consumer’s point of view. Amazon software has never had the ability to give me a visual or other indication of when a music match was successful. This idea of the music match was to give you a copy of the song free of pops and scratches so prevalent in ripping LP tracks to a computer. The underlying assumption was that if you owned the LP copy, you had a license to entitle you to have a digital copy also—for your own personal use. Once matched, in theory you could then download a “clean” copy of the mp3 file.


image
Amazon website notice of pending doom


Amazon will let me keep what I have purchased from them but everything else is facing the digital chopping block. It is clear that rather I check the “Keep my songs” box in their webpage or not, my personal stuff will eventually go away. If they want, I suspect they could offer to sell hard drive space on Amazon Drive that could link to their media player but I think they are big enough not to bother with a bunch of us pesky customers anymore when they get so much money for hosting corporate data. At least when Microsoft got out of the music service business, their software will still play music warehoused on OneDrive.

image

I also like Amazon Music because it is not blocked by the draconian firewall where I work so I can stream anything from my vast library of music. I’m sad that this option will soon go the way of Toys R Us.

 

Posted by william on 04/10 at 07:23 AM
TechnologyPermalink

Friday, April 06, 2018

Microsoft & Apple leaving Intel

Lest you thought Toys R Us was the only business with bad news featured on our blog this week, things are not going well for another company whose name you know; namely, Intel. In the PC space, Intel has only one competitor, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). However, in recent years they have faced pressure from the smartphone/portable devices segment of consumer devices.

Previously, we have documented the Windows on ARM initiative which is finally appearing in the consumer space. While Microsoft has yet to get all the bugs worked out of the process, you can now buy devices free of Intel chips that run a full version of Windows 10. The cell phone CPU chips are not quite up to the processing power of Intel’s but these devices can last up to a week on a full charge and unlike Intel’s they can maintain a connection to cellular data and resume from sleep in less than a blink of an eye.

In addition, this year you are seeing a new feature implemented by tech companies across devices that allows you to continue a document or game from one device to another. Here are some things you can or will shortly be able to do:
• Playing a game on your phone, you will be able to pause it, resume it on your tablet device and pause it and resume playing it on your desktop device.
• Working on a document, you can cut or copy to the clipboard on your PC and the paste it into you phone’s text message or tablet’s email.

Device platforms are moving to an always connected to the Internet model. This will allow for seamless operating of many tasks that you do daily.

Also companies like Microsoft are enabling personal devices to be integrated with Enterprise networks so you can use the same phone or tablet to do both your work stuff and your own stuff. If your company’s IT staff is worth a darn then folks on the go don’t need to carry two phones, one for work and one for them.

This week it was announced that Microsoft is not the only company trying to get free of the decades old Intel monopoly, Apple announced that they are abandoning Intel all together and will run all their devices including desktop PCs with cell phone CPUs.

04-02-2018
Apple copies Microsoft, moves to abandon Intel

Apple has delivered a shock to Intel’s share price with news of a new project to move their Mac business to ARM-based processors of their own design by 2020.

According to Bloomberg, Project Kalamata would have all Apple’s devices, from iPhones to Macs, running on the low power processors, and would rely on Marzipan, a platform which lets iOS apps run on the Mac desktop.

The move would emulate that of Microsoft, who has already launched their Windows 10 on ARM initiative with two 3rd party laptops already in the market, and who has been working for many years on their UWP platform, which unifies mobile and desktop applications.



image
ARM Diagram

Two days later, Intel got another blow from Microsoft when they announced that the new version of their virtual reality device—HoloLens—will be using ARM chips and not those made by Intel.

04-04-2018
Hololens 2.0 may ditch Intel for ARM processor

Competition for the Microsoft Hololens is finally close to reaching the market, with the Magic Leap’s headset expected to reach virtual shelves later this year.

This seems to have prompted the company to finally get around to releasing version 2 of the headset, according to a leak via the WC.

According to their sources, the headset will use Microsoft’s Always-Connected PC platform, with an ARM processor with LTE modem, have longer battery life and greater autonomy, and would also have an increased field of view.

Folks we are approaching the world of Ready Player One—at least in some respects—and Intel has no part of it. They are becoming a legacy company that has totally missed the boat on computing! Let that sink in, the biggest computer processor manufacturing company in the world has no part in the future of their own industry.


image
First generation Microsoft HoloLens

Please understand that Intel has spent billions of dollars trying to get into the mobile space but failed at every turn. They actually make Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell look like geniuses and that is really hard to accomplish. While I’m reluctant to say so, Aaron Park’s favorite phrase of “epic failure” is actually appropriate in this case.

Intel quit trying to get into the mobile device CPU business two years ago and look where they are now.

 

05-03-2016
Intel’s new smartphone strategy is to quit

Late on Friday night, Intel snuck out the news that it’s bailing on the smartphone market. Despite being the world’s best known processor maker, Intel was only a bit player in the mobile space dominated by Qualcomm, Apple, and Samsung, and it finally chose to cut its losses and cancel its next planned chip, Broxton. This followed downbeat quarterly earnings, 12,000 job cuts, and a major restructuring at a company that’s had a very busy April. Intel is still one of the giants of the global tech industry, but it’s no longer as healthy and sprightly as it used to be.

The bane of Intel’s existence for the past decade or so has been the transition to mobile computing. It wasn’t supposed to be that way. Having secured a commanding lead as the premier provider of desktop PC processors, Intel had a clear-eyed strategy for extending its dominance into the mobile realm.

This has cost Intel dearly, with the company lavishing billions on developing suitable processors and modems to put into its various mobile undertakings. The multibillion-dollar mobile costs have spiraled in recent years — a loss of $3.1 billion in 2013 was followed by a loss of $4.3 billion in 2014 — which eventually forced Intel to combine its mobile and PC earnings reports in order to disguise its unproductive spending.

The tragedy of Intel’s mobile failure is that the company foresaw all the threats to its business and acted to preempt them. It just didn’t do so very well. That being said, Intel’s the victim of its bad decision making almost as much as its poor execution.

05-01-2016
Intel Cancels Atom Processor, Could Exit Mobile Industry

While Intel appears to be continuing to dominate the desktop and laptop market with their processors, their mobile efforts haven’t been as successful, with the landscape being mostly dominated by the likes of Qualcomm, MediaTek, and Samsung. So much so that there is now speculation that Intel could be looking to exit the mobile business.

05-02-2016
No, Intel Isn’t Abandoning the Mobile Market

Atom has been one of the biggest duds in the history of semiconductors as Intel spent billions designing and producing the chip, then billions more paying hardware makers to use them before failing to get any traction at all and eventually burying the whole project last year inside of its shrinking but still highly profitable PC unit.

Since these articles appeared two years ago, Intel still has not produced a single chip that can connect to either Wi-Fi or the Internet.  In contrast, ARM devices in a single chip can do computing, video, cellular modem, Wi-Fi connectivity, and other functions and just as you would expect, each generation of ARM chips is better and faster than the last. Moore’s law anyone??

Posted by william on 04/06 at 06:54 AM
TechnologyPermalink

Thursday, April 05, 2018

What Really Killed Toys R Us

image
By “X” the man with no name

Unless you are a CRA member, living under a rock, voted for Hillary, or have any Park Family Genes in your DNA, you have likely heard Toys R Us is liquidating their business here in the United States and all over the globe.  What caused a giant big box that controlled 20% of the toy market to collapse you may ask?  Well a combination of things, but the internet, Amazon.com and high prices were none of them. 

First some background on Toys R Us. The company was founded in 1948 by Charles Lazarus who interestingly died the same day the company decided to liquidate all stores.  The company had sustained success and was even referred to as a “category killer” which is similar to how people view Amazon.com today (a company that is almost impossible to compete with). 

Editor’s note: As a child, the highlight of every Christmas was receiving the Sear’s Christmas catalog. In my youth this was Christmas. We only wanted to get toys from Sears because it was literally a one-stop shop for everything. From their catalog, our parents could order anything and have it waiting for us under the tree. Seemingly out on nowhere, along came Toys R Us and stole Christmas from the oldest and most well-known retailer in the country.


image
Retail icon, Toys R Us, fades into oblivion


The company prospered for many decades but in the late 1990’s Toys R Us started having issues competing with Target, Wal-Mart, and Amazon.com. In 1998 it fell behind Wal-Mart in market share. This is when the chain’s issues started. They tried Kids R Us, a clothing discount chain, and it failed badly and was liquidated after 5 short years.  They began growing their Babies R Us chain, to essentially focus on commodities like diapers and bottles, this was also a bad decision.  Even more costly was the expensive remodeling of all stores in 2000 by former FAO Schwartz CEO John Eyler.  This predictably didn’t change the competitive landscape so in 2005 with the stock struggling on Wall Street, it was sold in a leveraged buyout to 3 private equity firms.  This further exasperated the problems facing Toys R Us.  The buyout to take Toys private was 6.6 billion dollars, led by Bain Capital (After Mitt Romney had left) Vornado Realty Trust, and Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts.

Leveraged buyouts are not always bad things, there are benefits to being private and you do not have to answer to public investors on Wall Street and can work out corporate and company issues behind closed doors.  In N Out and Chick-fil-A are both private and the lines are out the door, down the street, and in most cases backed up to the freeway!  Michael Dell—yes that Dell—took the company he founded, Dell Computer, private. Dell Computer had been struggling for many years but taking it private has allowed it to turn around.  Typically, after these types of buyouts, private equity firms wind up taking the company public again (more on this later).

So how do these buyouts work?  When a public company has a major drop in stock price and has fundamental issues like Toys did, then in come the White Knights saying they can fix everything and will offer to buy the shares of the entire company.  In the case of Toys, the private equity guys offered a price 67% higher than what the shares were trading for on Wall Street; banks are happy, stockholders are typically happy, everyone gets paid and then the company is private.  In the case of Toys, it was 6.6 billion. So, did the private equity guys have to pay 6.6 billion for Toys?  No, they borrowed the money from investment banks—think Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, etc.—and used the company’s cash flow as collateral.  Truth be told, the private equity guys in this case likely put up only about 10% of that 6.6 billion. 

So, from the start, Toys had a debt load of 6 billion to pay back, at interest rates likely in the 8-9% range!  Banks extract large fees from these loans and add it to the debt load—think the housing crisis circa 2008. The banks just rolled the expenses into the loan then sold it to an unsuspecting group of investors.  In this case Toys was now controlled by 3 large companies that didn’t know how to run the toy business at all.  However, one thing these 3 companies know a lot about is how to extract money from their investment, (more on this later as well).

So after the dust settled, Toys was saddled with 400 million in annual interest payments to satisfy the terms of their loan.   Think about that, 400 million in annual revenue goes first to paying off debt interest, not keeping the lights on or paying salary, just debt.  Then the private equity companies charge a “management fee” of usually 2-3% of revenue every year, further straining cash flow to pay bills.  Then they pay themselves a dividend every year of around 5-8% on their “investment” once again straining cash flow even further. 

With sales falling, Toys began to run low on cash. As a result, cuts had to happen across the company because no way would the private equity companies take a cut in fees.  In such circumstances, the research and development department gets cuts first, then other sales, general and administrative expenses are slashed next, followed by a hiring freeze, then changes to the accounts payable department.  What used to be 30 or 45 day terms are changed to 60 or 90 day terms.  After that benefits are cut/eliminated and salaries for new hires are slashed to minimum wage.  This is all being done to pay interest and dividends to private equity companies.

The result of this ultimately led to the death of the company.  Because of financial constraints, Toys can’t innovate much. For example, toys are only made by a couple different companies—Hasbro and Mattel being the big ones—so in a sense you are limited by their innovation in that space.  On price, Toys only had about 800 stores in the United States compared to Wal-Mart and Target which have 800 in the western U.S. alone. This hurt the negotiation power Toys had with suppliers. For example, Toys wants to buy one million GI Joe toys from Hasbro, and Hasbro sells them to Toys for $10 a unit.  Wal-Mart orders three million GI Joe toys and Hasbro cuts them a volume discount based on $7 a unit.  As a result Toys sold GI Joe for $14 and Wal-Mart could sell for $10.  Toys then agreed to price match the competition, so now on that same GI Joe instead of making $4 per unit, they were breaking even; such a business model is not sustainable. 

Also, there was no money being re-invested back into the business. Toys used to be known as a huge demonstration and interactive place for children to visit, try out the toys, and then scream and cry until mom or dad bought it for them. Those demo areas disappeared.  Toys became a big box store and worse yet couldn’t compete on price with other big box stores like Wal-Mart.  In a world where price is now everything, Toys had an advantage at one time. The child could play with and decide they want the product and unfortunately for the parents, they couldn’t wait two days for Amazon Prime because little Mike wanted it NOW.

Even as the business declined, Toys still controlled 20% of the market. Finally, the private equity guys turned to turnaround artist David Brandon, you may recognize the name, he turned Domino’s Pizza into the company it is today and brought it back from the dead.  The problem for Toys was that it was too late. Toys remodeled several hundred stores, brought back the demo areas, improved their website, but the damage from private equity had been done. The flow of money away from operations led to customers opting for other big box stores or internet websites.  They couldn’t attract top talent anymore and began to close stores several tranches at a time. 

This spooked suppliers and as a result; Hasbro, LEGO, and Mattel changed the terms under which they would sell products to Toys. The result, Toys ran out of inventory during the Christmas shopping season!   With unsustainable debt, the company could not pay its bills and as a result the only option left was bankruptcy protection. A big store like Toys—similar to Sports Authority and Sport Chalet—no way the creditors would allow them to go through a restructure, they would need to liquidate.  Thus, the end of Toys R Us. But don’t feel bad for the private equity groups. They collected fees and dividends for over 15 years and then during bankruptcy sold the inventory and everything else to liquidation firms.  Additionally the lack of profitability also gives tax advantages to these groups since they tend to own many companies.  The employees?  They got nothing, except a pink slip of course.

Could Toys have been saved…I think so; there is room for a toy store chain in the United States.  This is what I would have done. I would have run the stores similarly to Best Buy or a grocery store. I would have found a tenant or two to sublease floor space, so they could demo their own products.  I would have set up an area to host children’s birthday parties, and maybe reached out to LEGO to see if they wanted to create a LEGO Land in the stores.  This would give predictable cash flow every month and given you a way to spruce up your business to make it more appealing to customers.  Have you been to a Best Buy lately?  I don’t even think Best Buy owns much of its own leased stores; Pacific Sales, Sprint, T-Mobile, Magnolia, Google, and HP/Apple lease a ton of floor space from them.  As far as price match goes, that’s a battle big box stores win by attrition. I would have focused on making the stores into a place both parent and child want to go to because I don’t think anyone admits publically to wanting to go to Wal-Mart.  But alas, a large part of most people’s childhood is gone with the wind.

“X”

Posted by william on 04/05 at 04:41 AM
News & PoliticsPermalink

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Ready Player One: Review of the Review

On my recent trip to Ogden, Utah, I treated the family to a trip to the movies to see Ready Player One. We enjoyed the movie but I was curious about how much it deviated from the book because experience has taught me that movie makers take extreme liberties with their depictions of books and other source material.

The basic plot of the movie is that the future is a miserable, dystopian place to live so people spend as much time as they can in a virtual world. You can be anyone or anything in this world. People navigate thru the world as avatars. You can be a Star Wars Storm Trooper, a World of Warcraft character, Iron Man, or anything else. The only stipulation is if you die in the virtual world then you lose all your stuff that you have accumulated and must begin again. The inventor of this virtual world created a treasure quest that if completed would allow the winner to own the virtual world. Think-winner of contest owns Internet and all its content-and you get an idea of the prize.

I often read articles on a website affiliated with the SyFy Channel (formerly SciFi Channel)—even though we are cable cutters and I haven’t watched their programming in many years. This website has changed names several times over the years most recently changing from Blastr.com to SyFy.com. It is owned by NBCUniversal Media, LLC whose parent company is Comcast. So when I read content on this website I know two things, first that the person writing an article is getting paid for their contributions and secondly that they represent the company for which they work—at least to some extent.

I found only one review of the movie on their website. I thought I would be getting a perspective from someone who would critique the movie either in comparison to the book upon which it was based or at least in terms of how well Steven Spielberg did in making the movie.

If someone wanted to be critical of the movie—irrespective of the storyline in the book—they could complain on three points:
• The movie is a typical hero journey movie, average or misfit young person discovers an ability or aptitude as he begins a quest, gets discouraged along the way and overcomes adversity to succeed
• Corporations (and governments) are always the bad guys
• Hero falls in love with girl that doesn’t like him at the beginning but their relationship helps him to prevail

I began reading the review and it was clear that it went off the rails very early and into an alternate reality.

You’ll see He-Man running into battle alongside Catwoman, and Harley Quinn hanging out in a dance club in The Oasis, the virtual world where gamers intermingle. But these aren’t the characters you know and love. Within the movie, these are the chosen avatars of anonymous gamers around the world. Their cameos tell us nothing new about He-Man or Harley, as they are in no way bound to behave as they would in canon.

Why does the reviewer expect avatars to behave as they would “in canon” meaning in comic book character. Which canon is this reviewer talking about? The one where Superman marries Louis Lane or the one where he marries Lana Lang? I found a website listing 18 different women that had a love interest in Superman and this is just one comic book character out of thousands. Thanks to J.J. Abrams, what is canon in Star Wars or Star Trek anymore? It is ludicrous that the reviewer expect that avatars must only behave as they do “in character”.

Reluctantly, the reviewer later concedes:

But its use in Ready Player One doesn’t tell us much about The Oasis, except that someone somewhere likes He-Man.

Yeah, this is why it’s an avatar.

Lest you think this dense person admits that an avatar is an avatar, the author then starts a rant about the Iron Giant. Why, because the Iron Giant shoots a bad guy and that is out of character for him to behave like that. Seriously.

A big element of promoting Ready Player One has been showing its inclusion of the Iron Giant, the beloved robot at the heart of the adored 1999 animated feature. In his own movie, the Iron Giant’s defining moment is when he declares, “I am not a gun.”… He is a hero who refused to be a weapon but still saved the day.

In Ready Player One, the Iron Giant is an avatar of top-notch gamer Aech. Despite the fact that the titular character’s entire arc in The Iron Giant was about how he chose not to be the weapon, Ready Player One only uses him as a giant gun in its climactic battle. Some are already venting their frustrations on Twitter about this misuse of the definitely anti-gun character. But this isn’t even the only assault on Iron Giant fans that this movie has in store. Because when Ready Player One does decide to be true to this character, it’s to kill him.

Ok, so despite admitting that the Iron Giant is an avatar and not the character from the children’s movie, the author of this review has a tantrum about the giant shooting his gun—in self-defense I might add. All I know at this point is how much this person hates the Second Amendment but never worry because she is just getting warmed-up.


Hubris is defined as: excessive pride or self-confidence.
synonyms: arrogance · conceit · conceitedness · haughtiness · pride · vanity · self-importance · self-conceit · pomposity · superciliousness · feeling of superiority · hauteur · uppitiness · big-headedness

Now we get to the real core of the reviewer’s complaints against the movie; she hates it because the movie doesn’t bend over shamelessly to validate her lifestyle.  Since when does the rest of the world have an obligation to so?

A more caustic element of Ready Player One is the way it uses allusions as a litmus test of cool. In one scene, Parzival readies for a virtual date with Art3mis, and decides he’ll wear a suit from The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. On one level, it’s supposed to show her he’s cool enough to know this cult classic. But, he tells his confidante Aech, it’s also meant to see if Art3mis will get it. What’s implied here: is she a real fan, or some Fake Geek Girl? Of course, Art3mis—the manic pixel dream girl that she is—recognizes it and thinks he’s super cool, because Ready Player One is nothing if not a fantasy for straight-fanboys who dream of hot gamer chicks who’ll get all their references to obscure (or not that obscure) sci-fi. But that’s not the end of this tedious testing thread.

The story of Ready Player One’s hero Wade Watts suggests there is one right way to fan. Notably, the one who figures out this one true path is a straight, white, cisgender fanboy —which suggests that to be a “Real Fan,” you must like things on the terms of dominant (and often exclusionary) fanboy culture. Spielberg could have opened up things if the characters of color or women took a stronger role in the film. But despite the heroics of the other members of the High Five, they are ultimately sidelined as sidekicks to Wade. Alternately, Spielberg could have explored new pathways into the familiar characters he folds in by using familiar avatars to explore elements of fanfiction, a sphere of fandom that’s often more female and LGBTQA+ friendly.

image
Cast of Ready Player One

Ready Player One feels like Spielberg dumped out a collective toy box, but wasn’t interested in playing with its incredible contents. It’s a wasted opportunity, and worse yet a lazy exploitation of geek culture that promotes its more toxic elements of sexism, self-righteousness , and fan-versus-fan hostility. What could have been an inclusive celebration is instead determined to divide us.

For those that haven’t seen the movie, it features kids and adults of a variety of races and genders but because the author can find nothing blatantly homosexual promoting in the film, her conclusion is that it is a dud and “wasted opportunity”.

Sorry babe but neither Steven Spielberg nor any of the rest of us need to conform to your views or values. The world at large does not exist to validate your life choices, this is hubris.

Folks if this article had appeared on the Huffington Post or some other website I would just ignore it but since it is on a site paid for by one of the biggest media companies in the world I think it deserves a rebuke.

Ready Player One is a fun romp and great entertainment for the whole family.

Oh, the ridiculous review quoted above can be found here:
Link: How Ready Player One fails geek culture

 

Posted by william on 04/04 at 09:34 AM
News & PoliticsPermalink

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Ogden Roadtrip

Last week, I took a roadtrip to Ogden Utah to see the middle child. Along the way I had a few ideas that might end up being blog topics but I thought I’d jot down some thoughts that I had.


First, Elon Musk is a fraud.  As soon as you depart the once Golden State in your privately owned vehicle, you will find zero charging stations along the Interstate 80 corridor. While electric vehicle travel within California is a sketchy proposition, outside of California it is not possible or practical. Hybrid automobiles are a rare sight away from the Left Coast and electric ones are unheard-of.

Musk thinks he can sell ten thousand vehicles a week and sustain that production? It’s a Ponzi scheme. He can’t even get to 5K per week and is running out of cash and good will.

Musk is a flimflam guy of the first order and gets lots of other people’s money (often tax dollars) from Liberals to do stuff that is not market based because these guys believe that governments not markets should decide what our economy should look like. The AB-32 crowd wants to use the power of the State to force us into electric vehicles that are not able to leave the gilded cage of California just because it is their religion. Their arrogance to pick losers and winners is hubris of the highest order.


Second, the path from Reno to Salt Lake City is the only proof of a universal flood anybody should need. Except for a few mountains here and there, this whole path is clearly a shallow sea that was only recently drained. This was within the last few millennia not millions of years ago.


Third, Brigham Young sure picked a crappy spot to proclaim the new Zion. My biggest gripe of the area is the lack of trees. But he did have big plans.

The Territory of Deseret would have comprised roughly all the lands between the Sierra Nevada and the Rockies, and between the border with Mexico northward to include parts of the Oregon Territory, as well as the coast of California south of the Santa Monica Mountains (including the existing settlements of Los Angeles and San Diego). This included the entire watershed of the Colorado River (excluding the lands south of the border with Mexico), as well as the entire area of the Great Basin. The proposal encompassed nearly all of present-day Utah and Nevada, large portions of California and Arizona, and parts of Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Idaho, and Oregon.

Link: State of Deseret



image
Map of Proposed Deseret region


Brigham seems to have wanted the 1840’s version of “fly-over country” to be united under his banner; whether as a state or a separate country depends on what you read. The presence of Los Angeles and San Diego as part of his territory would indicate a separate nation was in the back of his mind. The war of northern aggression ended that dream and he reluctantly settled for Utah statehood after yet another rewrite of Mormon Scriptures to get rid of polygamy. Why the “god’ of Mormons is not the same yesterday, today, and forever like the one revealed in the Bible is a subject for another day.


Fourth, the amount of indigent and homeless people in Ogden really surprised me. Latter Day Saints try really hard to cultivate the reputation that they care for their own—maybe they do—but for the folks outside their church, clearly they are on their own.


Fifth, the amount of young people with ridiculous amounts of body art and piercing was a surprise to me. I was expecting Donny and Marie type youth but clearly not everyone follows this expectation. My wife thinks that Ogden draws youth from outside the LDS world for the skiing. Maybe this is true. Clearly a large segment of young people are nonconformist.


Sixth was a news story that I saw on the local television station. This is interesting because the LDS church is front and center of a story about a man named Joseph Bishop.

(Note: Although the LDS church has clergy with the title of “bishop” this is not the same as in Protestant Christian Churches and not Mr. Bishop’s title just his last name.)

Mr. Bishop was in charge of training youth that knock on your door as missionaries. Mr. Bishop is accused of giving private lessons to some of the female candidates under his care—much like President Clinton did in the Oval Office with Monica.

SALT LAKE CITY — (KUTV) - On March 20, as a sexual assault scandal was exploding around former Missionary Training Center President Joseph Bishop, his son, and attorney Greg Bishop sent an email to 2News unsolicited.

In the email, he unspools a five-page dossier about the past of the woman who had accused his father of rape.

The email included the woman’s criminal record, alleged false allegations she’d made in the past, and jobs she’d lost.

It even included details about an incident that occurred when she was 17 years old. Bishop encouraged reporters to examine the woman’s past adding, “consider the source.”

In the last two days, 2News has obtained a letter that was written by David Jordan, a lawyer at the firm, Stoel Rives, acting on behalf of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The document is a response to a letter from the woman’s attorney, Craig Vernon, requesting a settlement from the LDS Church.

The document includes everything we saw in Bishop’s email, plus a review of her ecclesiastical church record.

At the bottom, the Jordan indicates that he sent the letter to Greg Bishop.

It appears Bishop took portions of the letter, and at times, repeated allegations word for word and sent it to the media.

Link: Exclusive: Documents reveal how the LDS Church responded to MTC sex scandal

Related Stories
Link: New statement: LDS Church responds to alleged sexual abuse by former MTC president

Link: Church Statement About Alleged Sexual Assault by Former Mission President

The woman told 2News Bishop had been grooming her, taking her out of class to talk about the sexual abuse she had suffered as a child. She said he seemed to enjoy the discussion, then one day he invited her to a place he called, “special.”

“He didn’t tell me there was a bed or a TV or a VCR down there, he just said it was this really special room,” she said.

“I was nervous and uncomfortable, and I should have listened to that feeling.”

Once she and Bishop got into the small room, he advanced on her.

“He tried to kiss me and I pushed him off, I was like, ‘oh my gosh, here’s this old man, I’m 21 years old,” she said. “Then he pulled my blouse and rips my buttons off. It had little pearl buttons, then he ripped the back of my skirt, it was an A-line skirt, and then with one hand he pulled my garment and my pantyhose down, there he was, trying to rape me.”

The woman tried to tell officials in the LDS Church on multiple occasions including her bishop.

2News documented as many as four times when the woman tried to speak out to church leaders, but the woman says she had told as many as 10 different church leaders about the alleged abuse.

“Oh no, oh no, I have been talking to bishops and stake presidents for years; one bishop in Colorado Springs called me a liar and wouldn’t even talk to me.


Link: Exclusive: The woman at the center of the MTC abuse scandal shares her story

I find it interesting that the LDS Church saw fit to release a letter concerning the character of the accuser and defending Mr. Bishop by saying there is no need for them to look into this matter. The LDS church has a long history of circling the wagons when things don’t go their way.

Here is another example of the “see something, say something” mentality. Put yourself in her place, do you want your church releasing an official letter about your past?

When has your church ever made an issue of your:
• Juvenile behavior?
• Morals?
• Employment record?
• Criminal record?
• Marital status?

Sorry, I thought churches were in the business of changing lives thru the power of God’s Word not keeping a tally of what notorious sinners we are just in case they need to shut us up.


At the same time this story is going on, another one about sexual abuse had faithful Mormons marching in the streets.

Link: Mormon church to allow parents in youth bishop meetings


Link: ‘Stop protecting sexual predators’: Outburst interrupts LDS General Conference



Seventh, we went to Easter services at an Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Ogden. It was a nice service that emphasized the importance of the bodily resurrection of Christ.

 

Posted by william on 04/03 at 06:24 AM
BloggingPermalink

Friday, March 23, 2018

Stormy, Romance, and Trump

On Sunday, CBS’s 60 Minutes is scheduled to air a segment on Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels.
In it, Trump will be berated for paying women for sex and giving gifts.

Also circulating is this story:

Stormy Daniels’ attorney hinted on Thursday that he may have hard evidence that the adult-film actress had an affair with President Trump…


Link: Stormy Daniels’ lawyer posts photo of mystery disc in a safe

“Hard evidence” in the porn industry? Last I heard, they only cared about one thing being hard but I’ve never heard it described as evidence before.


image
Stormy Daniels


Stormy is getting all the attention now but waiting in the on deck circle is Karen McDougal. McDougal is a former Playboy model that reportedly had a relationship with Trump in 2006.
Link: Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal says Trump tried to pay her after making love

Folks, for the sake of this post, I will stipulate that Trump did pay women for consensual sexual relations and that there are more women that are less willing to come forward and discuss it.

Who cares? Trump has been married at least twice and constantly surrounds himself with beautiful women. Doesn’t our culture teach us that rich guys do that? Hollywood does it in their movies and in real life. They tell us that is a sign of success. How many movies have you seen where the rich guy—usually a bad guy at that—has a swimming pool full of scantily clad women at his beck and call. We expect James Bond to have at least two women in every movie and in the next flick two more and that is just the way he rolls. They are working on the 27th Bond flick so that is at least 54 women this character has bedded with a slam, bam, thank you ma’am.


image
Sean Connery—the best James Bond


Rush Limbaugh, the man who claims that you can trust him in a Motel 6 with your wife and daughter was busted with 29 Viagra pills upon returning from a sex tour in the Dominican Republic.
Link: Rush Limbaugh’s Dominican Stag Party

Folks, rich and powerful men have been behaving like this since we were booted from The Garden.

In my freshman year of college, I remember Denise Macintosh telling me that the only thing more powerful than sex and drugs was Jesus. If you don’t know God, you will fill Pascal’s God shaped vacuum with other things to try to fill the void, folks that have the means often resort to sex and drugs.


So why is this attack on Trump taking place?


First, the Liberals are trying to make a moral equivalence between Donald Trump and Bill Clinton.

However, the two are not comparable. Trump and Clinton are both unfaithful to their marriage vows but the similarity end there. Clinton is a serial rapist. He often takes who he wants by force. Clinton also preyed on young women. He appears to have trouble reigning-in his appetites.


Second, the Establishment is trying to drive a wedge between Trump and his conservative base.

Much of Trump’s base has been unmoved by the controversies surrounding his administration. This frustrates the hell out of the Liberals and media types. They keep probing for the issue to separate supporters from Trump so they can bury him. Short of impeachment, they would love to make him a one term anomaly so they can get back to business as usual.

Why Trump Attacks Don’t Phase Supporters
Folks, sorry but I’m not buying this attack on Trump. I know he’s no saint (and he doesn’t claim that he is). I do pray for the man and hope that he will find a saving faith in Christ. Flawed as he is, Trump is the last hope for the Republic.

Look at the demographics and trends when he took office, if Trump fails to turn the direction of the country, there will never be another Republican in the White House; ever. The Democrat Party will do for the other 49 states what they are doing here in California. Obama pushed the country to the brink of oblivion and now is the tipping point that will determine if the Republic has a chance of survival. The issues at stake are bigger than any man but as Providence would have it, the burden has fallen on a blue collar guy that has a New York attitude. Mr. Trump, I’m not alone in wishing you Godspeed in your administration.

 

Posted by william on 03/23 at 08:17 AM
News & PoliticsPermalink

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Who Led the Walkout on March 14th, the Students or the Teachers?

image
By “X” the man with no name

Faithful followers, your humble correspondent intercepted a communique from the Elk Grove Teachers Association by facsimile at the beginning of this month regarding a student led walkout protest in regard to the recent shooting in Florida.  As a note to the CRA readers and the occasional Park offspring that read this blog, we do not condone any part of the shooting in Florida, this is merely to point out that fault lies with parents, teachers, and the students during these subsequent walkouts nationwide. 

First of all, to the teachers and parents of this country, you are both directly responsible for this radical walkout, let me explain.  When William and I were young lads many moons ago, if us students planned a protest or demonstration we would be instantly shot down, by said teachers and parents.  The words, “sit down, shut up”, or “life isn’t fair” were uttered constantly.  If we didn’t obey, a subsequent trip to see the principal and a phone call to your parents and likely a suspension was warranted.  Yes, these were the days that a parent (or educator) could spank you so hard you couldn’t sit down for a day or two. 

Oh, the good ole days…

Fast forward twenty some odd years and we get to the current political climate.  Now you have a generation of 40 to 55 year-old parents whom after having their feelings and voice suppressed want their children/students to do their bidding for them.  My reasoning, someone explain to me why a local K- 8 grade school had a massive walkout here?  When I was in Kindergarten through 8th grade school I was more worried about whether we would be playing football or basketball during recess and hoping I wouldn’t get cooties from girls, hence I find it very hard to believe these same students today could decide to walk off campus in a protest!  I didn’t know who the president was and definitely didn’t know much about gun violence.  But wait; what about social media?  No K-8th grade student is that plugged in; sorry to say, these protests were all led by their parents and teachers; sorry.

Let’s face it, sadly we live in a world that has become very politicized, and filled with breaking news, not correct but being the first to break it.  This political climate started during the end of the Bush II administration and has progressively gotten worse since the election of CRA enemy Donald J Trump. 

Let me take a couple of steps back and try to make sense of this for you.  It used to be that a teacher’s job was to teach, and this job didn’t pay well, but the benefits and having summers off coupled with the love of children and joy of teaching outweighed the salary part.  Currently, teachers believe they should be paid north of 100k to start, and get the same great benefits, coupled with no accountability at all.  Actually, this is not far off, some school districts start at 75k, have great perks, and most importantly grant tenure after just 2 years of teaching!  Yes folks, they get a “you can never be fired pass” after just 2 short years! 
(Editor’s Note: while technically two years, the administration approves and submits the tenure paperwork when the new teacher is about 18 months into their teaching gig.)

It used to be if you wore a Reagan/Bush/Clinton shirt you were sent home or told to turn it inside out. Now you can wear a “F**k Donald Trump” or “Kill a Cop” shirt and if you’re a teacher, you’ll be eligible for sainthood and if you’re a student you are accounted as “a forward thinker.”  The problem is people who have no business teaching are now in the classroom because they view teaching similar to being a doctor or a lawyer, it’s a money making career.  Go to a local school, look at most of the teaching talent, I wouldn’t hire most to work the till at your local Burger King let alone teach my child!  Don’t believe me? Go complain to the principal or the school board about this, you would be labeled as a racist or a homophobe or a bigot.  Speaking of school board, WTF has happened to that group, it used to be they fought over should we teach sex-ed to 7 graders or eighth graders, now it’s should we give condoms out to students in 4th or 5th grade?  Or we need to pass a school bond to make gender neutral bathrooms, or to create a safe space or best summed up at a local charter school out here a “Peace Pole.”  Well I guess a peace pole is better than a stripper pole, seeing the number of teachers arrested for having a sexual relationship with students so far this year already…but I digress. 

Politics has no place in our schools or class rooms, however all that has changed as well.  These classrooms have become a propaganda machine for left leaning groups looking for lambs to lead to the slaughter later in life.  I don’t want you to believe me; just ask one a question to see for yourself.  Ask who the President is, you will likely get a very serious response of “He isn’t my president” “He was helped by Russia” “He is a racist”.  The answers run the gamut.  Then ask about Barak Obama, the answers will be completely different; they have been fed propaganda by their teachers in order to create a permanent voting class for dependent liberals.


So now I will tie this all into the protest, point by point as taken from this intercepted communique from Elk Grove Education Association
Click here for EGEA Memo

1. Do NOT advocate certain political positions or encourage students to participate in a non-authorized student demonstration.

Well this is fresh, so they can pander all they want on any other day, but don’t you dare state or advocate a political position during the protest?  Heck why not play the Anthem of our Country, you have probably already conditioned your sheeple to take a knee during that!  Additionally, non-authorized? What the actual heck, if you’re under 18 and something wasn’t authorized as stated above, sit down, shut up, and learn.

2. You should not be perceived to be participating in the activity.  Instead, your role during such activities should be supervisory.

  Again, what the heck! You should participate, you should supervise?  Please explain the difference to me between don’t participate but supervise?  So, I can walk off as a teacher but hide behind the excuse that I need to supervise little Mike on his way off campus?  What about the other students?  Is Mike 18?  Why is he allowed to leave without parent consent and being present with said child?  Hell, supervise; 7/9ths of teachers can’t supervise properly during yard duty let alone a protest!

3. Follow instructions and plans of your site administrator.  Some sites may be planning activities during this event.

  Site administrator?  What are we talking about here a website?  As far as activities being planned, there is an activity planned that day it’s called a faux Donald Trump Protest, these kids don’t know anything about the circumstances of the shooting they just hate Donald Trump, because their teachers and parents told them too.  Additionally, was there a permit pulled for this protest because they took place on public property, or was it exempt because Donald Trump?

4. Do NOT prevent a student from leaving your class who wants to leave.  Follow your site procedures about reporting this behavior.  Do NOT question or draw attention to a student’s participation or choice not to participate.

  If a student wants to leave, especially one under 18, fine they can do so if accompanied by a parent (except when going to the local abortionist and then it’s illegal to tell the parents). As far as reporting the behavior goes, give little Mike an A for the day as far as properly following protocols. 

So yeah, that’s pretty rich; but it’s right there in black and white. The teachers who tell our students complete untruths regarding Donald Trump, now want to be seen as neutral?  That’s preposterous.  The real sad thing about all this kerfuffle is most students and even adults have no real idea what happened during and leading up to that shooting.  As far as where that lunatic got the gun, or what his motive was, who cares?  The SOB is gone from this earth.  Maybe we should discuss cyber bullying?  The internet is a place where people can be anonymous and bully or troll anyone they please.  Maybe we should discuss banning bump stocks and conversion kits, but should we also ask why it is that during an Antifa or Occupy Wall Street rally law enforcement usually recovers a cache of weapons including; rocket launchers, grenades, tommy guns, etc.?  Those are far more capable of ending human life than a legally purchased AR-15.  Maybe we should discuss arming a few personnel on campus, not open carry but concealed carry.  How come these protests didn’t happen during the Obama presidency?  Why has the older generation been allowed to ruin America’s future generations for the sake of having their children/students be social justice warriors?

X

Posted by william on 03/22 at 07:01 PM
News & PoliticsPermalink

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Facebook Data Breach: Not

There is much nonsense going thru the Internet today about a Facebook data breach that was supposedly used to help elect Donald Trump. If you believe that Trump stole Facebook data to get elected, then I have a bullet train that I’d like to sell you. (Sorry, come to think of it, the people that bought the crap about the bullet train would believe this load of fertilizer too.) We also have it on good authority that neither George nor Aaron Park is believed to have impacted the results of the 2016 Presidential election.

Facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg—a big time Liberal—was a zealous supporter of Mrs. Clinton in the last election. As you may recall, Mrs. Clinton’s only qualification to be President was that she slept in the same house with one for eight years—how often they spent together is a matter of speculation. Nevertheless, Zuckerberg is believed to be harboring aspirations for the Big House, I mean White House in 2020.

Given the partisan nature of Facebook and hostility that they have to anything religious, pro-Constitution, or generally Conservative, clearly Trump’s campaign could only benefit from Facebook data by stealing it, right?

Actually, Facebook gave the data on 50 million users away for free.

The reality is far more distressing: Facebook basically gave away our profile data. The company has always made all of this data available…

According to some excellent reporting by The New York Times, Cambridge Analytica built a personality survey app that required a Facebook log-in. That app was distributed by a compliant Cambridge University professor, who claimed the data would be used for research. This was entirely legal and in accordance with Facebook’s policies and the profile settings of its users. That the data was passed from the professor to Cambridge Analytica was a mere violation of Facebook’s developer agreement.

Around 270,000 Facebook users reportedly downloaded the survey app. So how did Cambridge Analytica harvest the data of some 50 million users? Because they were Facebook friends of people who downloaded the app.

Facebook’s policies and default privacy settings allow apps to collect massive amounts of profile data. That information is supposed to be used to provide you with a customized product; in reality, it’s usually tailored advertisements. The most painful part is that we users opened the door to these apps — the user has to download the app and grant it permission to access their Facebook profile. It tells you right up front what data it wants access to.

Taking the survey required allowing access to your Facebook profile. Thanks to Facebook’s default privacy settings (which only a small portion of users have changed) the survey app also pulled in the profile data of millions of Facebook friends.

That your data was readily available for exporting and exploiting — via your friends — should both appall and infuriate you. But this was not a breach or a leak; it was an exploitation of Facebook’s own tools and rules.

URL Link: Facebook never earned your trust and now we’re all paying the price

Sadly for Never-Trumpers and Democrats, no laws were broken, no furry animals were harmed, and no Russian spycraft was involved.

UPDATE
This was not just OK when Obama did it, it was brilliant.

The left is outraged that President Trump’s campaign used data mining to win the 2016 election – but neither the media nor Democrats seemed to mind when President Obama’s team did the same thing.

Shapiro noted that Facebook didn’t object when Obama’s team used tactics similar to what Trump’s campaign employed, noting that a former Obama campaign staffer recently admitted Facebook didn’t try to stop Obama’s 2012 re-election team because the company wanted him to win

 

Obama’s campaign built a database of every American voter using the same Facebook developer tool used by Cambridge, known as the social graph API, according to the Washington Post. This technology allowed the Obama campaign to access information of voters to figure out “which people would be most likely to influence other people in their network to vote,” according to the paper.

Liberal media didn’t think data mining was so bad when Obama’s campaign did it

 

Posted by william on 03/20 at 06:39 PM
News & PoliticsPermalink

Friday, March 16, 2018

Hawking Death

A few days ago, Stephen Hawking died. To me, Hawking was just a guy in a wheelchair that suffered from an illness. For some reason he seems to many in pop-culture a successor to Carl Sagan. The only thing both men seem to have in common was a disdain and hatred for organized religion—especially Christianity (why is it that Liberal icons never say anything bad about Islam?)—and both claimed that the cosmos can be explained without a Creator.

Stephen Hawking says he’s an atheist, arguing that science offers a “more convincing explanation” for the origins of the universe and that the miracles of religion “aren’t compatible” with scientific fact.

“…if there was a God, but there isn’t. I’m an atheist.”

In 2011, he told The Guardian that he didn’t believe in a heaven or an afterlife, calling it “a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”


Stephen Hawking Says ‘There Is No God,’ Confirms He’s An Atheist



image


I find it curious that Christopher Hitchens did not get the same send-off when he died. He believed the same things as Hawking and Sagan.


After people die, there is often a bunch of sentimental nonsense uttered in an effort to comfort those left behind. This is doubly true of those with no hope. Much of this sentimentality comes from or about people with no evidence of faith. In such circumstances we often hear things attributed to them that are undeserved.

“Baby Doe is in a better place now.”

“Uncle Bob is in a place with no cancer.”

“Pirate Sven is sailing in a place with fair winds and calm seas.”

“Johnny don’t be so sad. I’m sure Grandma is running through a meadow in her bare feet and she and Grandpa are looking down on you.”


image


Such was the case for Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot.

“Rest in peace Dr. Hawking,” Gadot wrote in a tweet. “Now you’re free of any physical constraints. Your brilliance and wisdom will be cherished forever.”


Gal Gadot’s Seemingly Innocent Tribute To Stephen Hawking Offended Some People



image

I have a number of problems with this expression of sentimentality.

First, I think Gadot was trying to be compassionate towards those left behind in Hawking’s family. In our culture “Rest in Peace” is often used, especially for those who knew no peace in this life or suffered greatly. This expression is an indirect reference to the belief expressed in Revelation 21:4
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

Second, atheist Hawking has no reason to hope for any rest. The best he can do is hope for the oblivion expressed in Ecclesiastes 9:5

For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.

However, we are assured that all men will stand before God on the last day.

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: Hebrews 9:27

The Bible is pretty clear that God doesn’t believe in atheists.

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. Revelation 21:8


Gadot received lots of blowback from the Tweet that I just commented on but not from the religious community. It was an attack from disabled leftists and atheists.

People with disabilities and their advocates took offense at Gadot’s statement that Hawking was finally free of his “physical constraints” and said the assertion was ableist, or discriminatory toward people with disabilities.

Gal Gadot’s Seemingly Innocent Tribute To Stephen Hawking Offended Some People

This subgroup of the disabled community who are attacking Gadot are really attacking the foundations of Western Culture. They are denying sin and its effects on the Creation. The Bible is clear that we all have corruptible bodies that are tainted by the effects of sin and that we will get a resurrected body that is incorruptible.

And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 15:49-58

For the disabled community to attack Gadot like they did is a denial that all our bodies are corrupted. When we say ‘disabled” we are talking of degrees of how defective our bodies are. We all age, we all died, we all return to dust. The Bible is clear that no matter how distorted it may be, we are image bearers of God and made in His image. Each of us is created just as God wanted us—even if we are blind or lame we are “fearfully and wonderfully made”.


Another comment on Hawking’s death also got some media attention.

A Texas state representative came under fire on social media Wednesday over a tweet about famed British physicist Stephen Hawking that some found insensitive.

Just hours after Hawking died, Rep. Briscoe Cain, a Republican, tweeted: “Stephen Hawking now knows the truth about how the universe was actually made. My condolences to his family.” Hawking died Wednesday at age 76.

But despite the overwhelming criticism, the lawmaker remained defiant and stood behind his comment.

“While many see him as one of the greatest public intellectuals of the last century, and no one disputes that he was brilliant, the fact remains that God exists,” Cain told the American-Statesman. “My tweet was to show the gravity of the Gospel and what happens when we die, namely, that we all will one day meet the Creator of the universe face to face.

“Stephen Hawking was a vocal atheist, who advocated against and openly mocked God,” Cain continued. “Hawking has said, ‘[T]here is no god. No one created our universe, and no one directs our fate.’ And, elsewhere, `I’m an atheist.’”


Lawmaker’s tweet after physicist Stephen Hawking’s death draws criticism



image

My first reaction to Briscoe Cain’s comments is preach it brother. God has done everything to necessary to keep us out of Hell but only if we come to Him through Jesus. We can’t live life as we see fit and expect to enter Heaven on our own merit. The best works we could possibly do are called by God “filthy rags”.

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
Isaiah 64:6

But what are filthy rags? The best modern translation is “used tampons”. Here is the Strong’s definition.


image


In the Old Testament, a woman having her period was ceremonially unclear during that time and for a few days after. So the bottom line is that your best works of righteousness are not just physically unclean but keep you from entering God’s presence. They are fit for nothing but to be burned.

God’s remedy was to send Jesus to die in our place so His righteousness could be used to obtain what we could not, peace with God. But we can only do this on His terms not ours. Only then can we say this:


We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
2 Corinthians 5:8

Stephen Hawking chose poorly.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
Romans 1: 18-23

Posted by william on 03/16 at 10:19 AM
BloggingPermalink

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Who Said Crime Doesn’t Pay?

I often quote Randy Stonehill’s lyrics, “We put criminals in office because its way too crowded in the jails” but today’s story is about another fraud, this one is in Silicon Valley. Unfortunately, this person will never see a day in jail. I don’t get why Enron executives and Bernie Madoff go to prison and this person got nothing of consequence.

Meet Elizabeth Holmes. She is described by the New York Post as a “Silicon Valley wunderkind ” and “Steve Jobs wannabe who dresses exclusively in black turtlenecks ”. Per the Post article, her net worth is estimated at 4.5 billion dollars.


image
Silicon Valley wunderkind Elizabeth Holmes


So what was the crime of this 34 year old babe? A few years back, she started a blood testing outfit called Theranos. Here are a few claims made to investors.
• “Theranos told investors about the Department Defense using its blood tests…”
• “Theranos distributed pitch books to investors containing articles … written by other pharmaceutical executives — lending the startup institutional clout…”
• “…Theranos said (it) was able to test for diseases with only a pinprick, and more cheaply than what was commercially available…”

Claims like the above convinced investors to trust 700 million dollars to the company.

However, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), has come down hard on little miss valley girl and her fake company. The Post article describes the situation this way:

The charges amount to one of the biggest scandals to rock the tech world since the bursting of the tech bubble in 1999.

Theranos and 34-year-old Holmes ran “an elaborate, years-long fraud in which they exaggerated or made false statements about the company’s technology, business, and financial performance,” according to the SEC.

Elizabeth used to claim that Theranos had “a valuation north of $9 billion”.

While Theranos had said it was on track to make $100 million by the end of 2014, the real figure was “a little more than $100,000,” according to the SEC. And, contrary to what Theranos told investors about the Department Defense using its blood tests, they were “never deployed by the DOD in the battlefield, in Afghanistan, or on medevac helicopters,” according to the settlement.

The disgraced CEO also misled employees about its institutional backing, according to the charges. Theranos distributed pitch books to investors containing articles purportedly written by other pharmaceutical executives — lending the startup institutional clout —but were in fact written by company employees, according to the charges.

Theranos started to unravel in 2015 after the Wall Street Journal reported that its blood tests were actually being conducted by commercial analyzers, and that the actual technology wasn’t special.

 

Oh, the SEC fine given to Elizabeth for her indiscretions, was $500,000.

Let’s run the numbers again.

Net Worth             4.5 billion
Defraud Investors 700 million
Fine                   ½ million

Thus her fine is 0.0714 percent of the amount that she defrauded from investors and 0.0111 of her net worth. To put this in numbers that you might understand better, if you stole $45,000, your civil fine would be $32.14 and you don’t have to repay the investors.

There is no indication that any criminal charges are pending.

Who said crime doesn’t pay?

SEC accuses Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes of ‘massive fraud’

Posted by william on 03/15 at 08:50 AM
News & PoliticsPermalink

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Braying Jackalope Mark Cuban Had A Rough Week

image
By “X” the man with no name

Let me begin by saying Mark Cuban is a very recognizable figure lately; he is the owner of the NBS franchise in Dallas, the Mavericks, he is a guest on Shark Tank on CNBC, and is also known as a Donald Trump hater.  As a NBA owner he was very vocal about officiating gaffes, and has been fined millions over the years, on Shark Tank he sits to the left of the screen and is basically known for striking a deal about once a week with an entrepreneur.  Lastly, he despises everything about Donald J Trump, from endorsing Hillary over him in the election to threatening to run against him in the primary in 2020.  Seems like he would be welcome by the CRA and the tea party groups nationwide!


image
Mark Cuban


Cuban’s quest for publicity at every turn actually could lead to his demise.  On February 20th of this year Sports Illustrated, (mostly known for their famous Swimsuit edition rather than actual journalism by the way) put out a strange tweet saying they had finished an investigation into sexual harassment with the Dallas Mavericks.  Not to be outdone, the Mavericks quickly went in to spin mode:

The Dallas Mavericks have received information about behavior in our workplace that appears to have violated the organization’s standards of conduct. It has been alleged that a former officer of the organization engaged in various acts of inappropriate conduct toward women over a period of years. This individual left the employment of the Mavericks nearly three years ago and the Mavericks have only learned of the scope of these complaints in the past days.

This is to be expected. Mark Cuban likes to control the narrative, however it is a very weird response to the tweet put out by Sports Illustrated.  What came next was a bombshell even Cuban couldn’t have anticipated.  The investigation goes all the way back to 1998; when Cuban bought the team!  Terdema Ussery was the team President and CEO at the time and prior to Cuban’s purchase, he had been investigated for sexual harassment by the team, after several female employees complained about him.  Cuban kept him on the job, but “every employee of the organization received a revamped employee handbook with a new sexual harassment policy.” It was 1998 and at the time this was passable behavior from a new owner, keep the crew but make sure they know about new policies.  Problem was Ussery continued his behavior. Here is a firsthand account:

At this meal, with ESPN crew members seated nearby, Ussery struck up an unusual conversation. As the woman recalls the exchange, Ussery claimed that he knew what she was going to do over the coming weekend. When the woman asked, confusedly, what Ussery meant, he smiled.

“You’re going to get gang-banged,” he asserted, “aren’t you?”

“No,” the woman responded, caught off-guard. “Actually, I’m going to the movies with friends.”

“No,” Ussery insisted. “You’re definitely getting gang-banged.”



image
Terdema Ussery


On his other hand:

Two women claimed to SI that Ussery harassed them for years. These incidents ranged from inappropriate remarks to requests for sex to touching women’s calves and thighs during meetings. One of the women says she made [head of HR Buddy Pittman] aware—“countless times … I ‘leaned in’ so much I fell over”—of Ussery’s behavior; the other chose not to, frustrated by what she deemed to be Pittman’s unhelpful response to an unrelated complaint she had raised. “I felt trapped, frozen, scared,” says one of the women. “This was the CEO of the organization ... and it was clear he wasn’t going to get fired.”

How was this bozo kept on the payroll?  That question remains unanswered. In 2015 he left the Mavericks and joined Under Armour.  He lasted 2 months at that company. Anyone want to take bets that his hands-on management style got him terminated?


Let us shift gears to another employee, Earl Sneed.  Sneed was a freelance writer who got a full-time gig with the Mavericks in 2010-2011.  Let’s look at how much this guy respected women:

Midway through that season, Sneed was involved in a domestic dispute with a girlfriend. According to a Dallas police report, Sneed “sat on top of her and slapped her on the face and chest.” At one point he told the woman, “I’m going to f——— kick your ass. Today is gonna be the worst day of your life.” Sneed, according to the report, “fled before the reporting officer arrived.” The woman, according to the report, suffered a fractured right wrist and bruises on her arms and chest in the altercation.


image
Earl Sneed


But wait, there is more. Sneed, in 2014, hit a female co-worker whom he was dating. The women reported the event to her supervisor and then to Buddy Pittman, the Head of Human Resources.  Keep in mind almost every company has rules about dating co-workers, yet somehow Sneed was able to retain his job yet again, but with an unusual caveat; he could not be alone with any female at any time.  Strange.  Honestly that is a bizarre policy right there, especially coming from Human Resources who probably would have recommended termination for this employee.  Was the HR supervisor overruled by Cuban?  Impossible to tell right now.  Also another female reported that a co-worker watched porn at his desk all day on a company workstation no less….sounds like a frat house more so than a place of work.


Cuban, looking to control the narrative did what any other lowly President of a corporation does, he claimed plausible deniability.  In English that means someone who can safely deny that he knew anything about the situation.  If you’re thinking of a CEO or government official being questioned by congress or the SEC you are on the right track. 

Here is the problem for Cuban or anyone else that is a frequent twitter/media user…Cuban on multiple media formats has said/tweeted “I know so much about my company and the inner workings you can’t B******T me!.  I purposely did not screen shot this tweet because of the vulgar language used, but will say this to prove my point, social media is a platform where you stand to win very little and stand to lose quite a bit.  That little tweet has come back to rear its ugly head quite a bit the last couple weeks.  Hard to claim you have intimate knowledge of everything in all your companies then come out and say you are so distant you have no clue.  However, believe it or not this story gets even stranger.

Back in 2014 when disgraced former LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling was on the verge of the NBA taking his team away, Cuban made some very strange remarks.  Saying, “I think taking someone’s team away over comments they said or things they did were creating a very, very, very slippery slope.”  I found this statement odd because Sterling was a very racist and bigoted man who had damaged the brand so badly that I felt he needed to lose his team.  Now it makes sense as Cuban likely has several skeletons in his closet, including a recent report that back in 2011 he groped/penetrated a women at a bar.  This report was corroborated by the bartender working that night describing Cuban as very intoxicated and very touchy feely with female guests.  Luckily for him, the police “investigated and decided to close the case.”

My advice to Cuban is stay in private life, do a few deals on Shark Tank and enjoy owning the Dallas Mavericks and a movie theatre. Keep your head down and hope that this will all blow over.  Claiming you’re a hands-on owner in this climate won’t be viewed favorably by most voters. Running against Donald Trump in a primary in 2 years would be one of the dumbest things you can do.  Trump didn’t just beat his competition at every level of the race, he mortally wounded them; look at Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Lyin’ Ted Cruz, and look no further than crooked Hillary.  Mark, any other skeletons in your closet will be outed, beware.


X

Posted by william on 03/14 at 06:21 PM
News & PoliticsPermalink

Why Republican Losses Are Good For Trump

Republicans have an openly hostile relationship with President Trump. We all know this but it’s really difficult for a sitting President to be at war with his own Party. Trump has a strategy to fix this, but it involves pain. I don’t like that Trump keeps backing Establishment candidates in the various special elections that have occurred since he was sworn in; however, the electorate doesn’t mistake Trump as part of the Establishment. If Democrats take back either the House or Senate, it will be a different dynamic. Trump will be the beneficiary. Here’s how.

• It’s OK that Trump is openly at war with the Democrats because they are the other Party.
• Trump will get more legislation passed if he must deal with the Democrats. Trump will gladly take 65 or 70 percent of something he wants than 100 percent of nothing—which is what the current crop of feckless Republicans have given him. But what about the tax cuts? Folks, the tax cuts are temporary, and, in a few years, they will revert to the old rates unless Congress passes more legislation. Remember, Washington wants issues to campaign on; they are not in the business of fixing anything.
• Without incumbents in election races, Trump can back whoever he wants and there is no political downside for him. Trump can handpick a legislative team willing to work with him. Even if the Establishment doesn’t like him, they will be forced to publicly pledge themselves to working with the President.
• Trump is head of the Republican Party and can control where much of the campaign money is spent.
• The Establishment types love power more than anything so they will set aside their differences with the President if they think he can help them keep their jobs.
• Trump—like Reagan—can bring issues before the public and bypass the media and political class.


Truthfully, it may not require the Democrats to prevail in November. The thought that it could happen may be enough. If Republicans stand with Trump they will be OK but if they try to throw him under the bus, then they might be the ones looking to spend more time with their families after November’s ballots are cast. Trump’s name is not on the ballot this year, but he has a better track record than any Republican campaigning in this cycle. If Republicans in Congress run on their own record they will lose, if they run with Trump they will win.

Posted by william on 03/14 at 01:44 AM
BloggingPermalink
Page 1 of 59 pages  1 2 3 >  Last »