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SHERIFF BULLARD: "Don't ever do nothin' like this again. Don't come back up here. I'd kinda like to see this town die peaceful."



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WHERE TO LIVE TO AVOID A NATURAL DISASTER

This is an interesting map. 

I had always thought that I lived in an area relatively safe from natural disasters.  It appears that isn't actually the case.

I also found it interesting that Dallas, Memphis and the metro Atlanta area are at all high risk.

By: Lewis Medlock on May 4, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

AWESOME STORMS

How rough was it in East Tennessee Wednesday night? Take a look.

I watched the local news as it happened and at one point the weather guy froze mid-speech because of the hail hitting the roof of the station.   I could hear the hail hitting the roof too because his microphone was picking it up.

No damage at the Medlock mansion.   We stayed on the perimeter of all the cells which traveled directly up the I-81 corridor.  We had wind, rain, thunder and lighting but no hail. It wasn't one storm but a series of storms that were traveling at sixty miles per hour.  Each storm was about fifteen minutes apart.  Most had rotation in them.

I went to work the next morning and the school was closed due to power loss.  There was a pile of hail outside the door in my building with 252 windows broken and fifteen trees downed. 

Truly awesome power in those storms.

By: Lewis Medlock on April 29, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

THE GENERAL WELFARE

Here is an interesting read from Vanity Fair.

Stiglitz is an economist of some renown.  I don't know his politics but I do agree with his views on wealth or at least the ones is this essay.  Since the early 2000 years and especially since the 2008 financial crisis, I have felt that both wealth and income has disproportionately shifted to the very upper class in America.  I have long complained that we have become a greedy nation and in my experience the rich are by far the most greedy.

According to Stiglitz the top one percent take nearly 25% of the income generated in this country.  I think that's probably true and if so I think with that monetary power they also manipulate markets. A great example of that is the gasoline price run-up a couple of years ago.  A 60 Minutes investigation indicated that was not a result of supply and demand but oil speculators including financial firms who jumped in when they smelled profits (and bonuses).

But of even more importance Stiglitz says:  "Of all the costs imposed on our society by the top 1 percent, perhaps the greatest is this: the erosion of our sense of identity, in which fair play, equality of opportunity, and a sense of community are so important. America has long prided itself on being a fair society, where everyone has an equal chance of getting ahead, but the statistics suggest otherwise...

I couldn't agree more and I think the 2008 financial crisis was the eye-opener to most Americans.  For the first time we had an up-close and personal look at just how skewed the wealth is in this country is.  Do you remember how Wall Street continued to collect bonuses despite the crisis?  It became clear that the system was unfair and I think that is one of the main reasons that the mood of the country is so pessimistic now.  Add in things like our dependence on foreign oil and things really look bad.

If I remember my civics lessons correctly the preamble to the Constitution talks about promoting the general welfare of the people.  I don't think our current situation is what the writers had in mind.

By: Lewis Medlock on April 8, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

THE LATEST SIGN THAT THE END IS NEAR

It took the fifth largest earthquake in history, a tsunami and three damaged nuclear reactors to get Charlie Sheen out of the news.

By: Lewis Medlock on March 15, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

OF DEVILS AND PIRATES

I just finished reading All The Devils Are Here.  Definitely scary.  Don't read this book if you have much money invested outside of insured certificate of deposits.

It's a great book but a bit hard to follow all the details unless you have a finance background.  The brief summary is the 2008 financial meltdown was due to Wall Street greed, the lack of regulatory control by the Feds and the lack of regulatory control of the quasi government entities of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. 

Simply put, Wall Street concocted complex financial instruments (mostly based on sub prime mortgages) in order to churn out fees, earn profits and facilitate personal bonuses.  That would actually be OK except for the fact those instruments had little or no value.  They were based on mortgages that were not likely to be paid back due to the lack of financial resources by the mortgagee.  There's a reason they are called sub prime.  It sounds better than "not likely to be paid back".  When I was buying a house in the seventies and eighties you had to put at least 10% down before you could get a mortgage but Wall Street and the bankers convinced the government that was restricting growth of housing and thus the American Dream.  And no politician wanted that.  Plus they wanted to take Wall Street's campaign donations and serve on the boards of those companies after they left Congress.

Then the Feds, largely led by Alan Greenspan, got into the act by declaring that the market will take care of all the bad things that could possibly happen to the sub prime loans.  You know what happened next.

I'll say it again.  Greed is ruining this country.  And it's not just Wall Street and Congress although their particular form is the most outrageous.   We're a nation divided.  Take a look at this.  And then take a look at this.  The latter is funny but after reading All The Devils Are Here I wouldn't put it past Wall Street.

By: Lewis Medlock on March 9, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

FIVE BIZARRE BUT TRUE THINGS

LOOKING INWARD

The turmoil in Libya pisses me off to no end.  The obvious and serious insanity of a leader killing his own citizens is hard to understand.  I hope he gets what he deserves from his people and hangs high from a palm tree.

But the same madman is affecting the price of oil and gas in our country even though we apparently don't use much, if any Libyan oil.  How incredibly stupid for us as a country to get ourselves in that situation again.

I believe that's because we don't have our own house in order.  Yes it is true that we have poor leadership but that's also a reflection of what we as individuals want.  We want cheap gas while driving whatever size vehicle we want.  That isn't a realistic thought given our dependence on foreign oil but we expect our leaders to fix that.  That dog simply won't hunt. 

Every President from 1973 until now has promised to end our dependence and instead it is higher than ever.  I think the reason that hasn't happened is that we as consumers aren't willing 1) to accept the reality that we can't supply our own oil/energy needs and 2) we don't want to pay higher prices for foreign energy.  Therefore our situation has gotten even worse while we wonder what is wrong.

I think a sense of entitlement plays into this as well.  We think of ourselves as the greatest nation on earth which is true in all aspects except one.  We are no longer the economic leader.  We may not even be number two because we have largely lost our manufacturing base and we no longer produce more than we consume.  The nation as a whole and we as individuals tend to consume like we are the economic powerhouse we used to be.  It is hard for us to accept anything less than what we think we deserve.  Don't believe it?  Why do you think our national debt is so out of control?  We want it all.

Of course we expect our elected leaders to fix things.  I certainly expect that.  But I think we need look inside ourselves more as well.  There is certainly something fundamentally wrong when the actions of a tin-horn dictator and murderer like Gadaffi can affect our daily lives so much.  It's just untenable to me that we are no longer masters of our own fate because we no longer control our economic needs and wants.

By: Lewis Medlock on February 25, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

THE PLAN

It didn't seem to get a lot of publicity but Obama’s bipartisan deficit commission published a plan last week to slash the federal budget.

The proposals included major changes to a large range of tax breaks including an end to the deduction for home-mortgage interest and higher taxes on capital gains and dividends. The commission proposes to dramatically lower and simplify individual tax rates to 9, 15, and 24 percent to compensate for those changes.  Businesses would have a number of tax deductions eliminated but have their maximum tax rate lowered to 26% from 35%.

The commission also proposed significant cuts to defense spending and farm subsidies, a 15-cent increase in the gas tax, raising the retirement age for Social Security benefits to 69 by 2075 and reducing cost-of-living increases, cuts to Medicare, repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax and cutting the federal work force 10 percent.  They estimate the plan would cut the federal deficit by an $3.8 trillion by 2020. 

I'm not saying the commission's plan works.  What I am saying is that the American public sent a message in the election that they want government to live within its means.  Now the question is whether President Obama and congressional leaders will negotiate a plan at least this big that can be enacted or just run from responsibility like Congress has a habit of doing.

Mrs. Pelosi's response to the commission's plan was typical Washington speak:  "simply unacceptable".

Here's my response:  our so-called leaders can use some part of the plan as an excuse to oppose it as she did or they come up with a better plan that can pass both houses while hitting the deficit hard, very hard.

If our leaders oppose it and don't offer a realistic alternative that they can get passed in both houses of Congress, then they just aren't serious about it. 

Mrs. Pelosi just isn't serious.  It's just that simple.

Maybe Heath Shuler will be.

By: Lewis Medlock on November 16, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

WWWD?

I have thought for some time that we have reached news media overload. 

If there has been any doubt of that it certainly has been erased now.  That is because I have zero interest in hearing and especially seeing any reporting about Brett Favre and the pictures of his genitalia that he reportedly has sent to someone.

Holy snapshot, people.  Do anyone really need to know this information? If they do, I can't imagine why.

It's a clear case that the news media has so much time and space to fill that they will do it with any news, no matter the subject.  I blame it on Ted Turner when he started CNN.

I think the news media needs to have a simple check and balance before reporting something.  WWWD. What would Walter (Cronkite) do.

By: Lewis Medlock on October 11, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

FATHERS DAY DINNER

I offered to buy my father an early Father's Day dinner on Saturday night and suggested that he choose the restaurant.

Thankfully he made an exception to his favorite of late, Five Guys, and opted for the Olive Garden.  He loves their salad and bread sticks.  So after putting in his usual Saturday nine hour workday, he met me at the restaurant.  The place was packed and he struggled a bit, both physically and mentally, with the 30 minute wait.  Patience is not one of his virtues nor is being on his feet for ten hours.   But as soon as we were seated he relaxed.  

Some background.  My father will be 90 in late October.  That's with a 9.  Most people are shocked to find out his age.  He looks seventy.  He lives alone and takes care of his house and his lawn.  He grows tomatoes.  He drives daily and is still a decent driver.  He still works every weekend and sometimes more days than that when he gets called in.  As a WWII veteran he often makes presentations to civic clubs and schools.  I think he must know everyone because someone always comes over to speak to him whenever and wherever we are at.  In short, he's pretty amazing.  Even if he wasn't my father.

He has begun to give in to his age some.  He retired as grand jury foreman a few yeas back after a nine year stint.  He's not as alert as he used to be and he often repeats the same story or information.  He used to be more open to things but now I think he's more closed to other opinions.  And I think he's not as confident of his abilities as he was when he was younger.  I've also seen him more tentative about making decisions.  He doesn't like his routines changed and he doesn't want to travel.  Finally I think he still misses my mother even though she's been gone now nearly thirty years. 

But for nearly 90 years old, I think he (and I) are very blessed.  I told him at dinner that not one in ten people his age are driving, working, living at home alone and taking care of their own needs.  Many are in some form of dementia or have other serious health issues.  The only medication he takes is an infrequent blood pressure pill.  His one complaint Saturday was that he has a bum knee that bothers him.  In the overall scheme of things that bum knee is pretty minor. 

I joked with him Saturday night there's just one problem with all of that.  Thanks to him I'll have to work 28 more years to match his standard and that's a bummer. 

He didn't see a problem.

By: Lewis Medlock on June 21, 2010 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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