Monday, December 31, 2012

Commercial Appeal reports government giving poor households $35,000 per year

    The Memphis Commercial Appeal reports on how federal poverty payments are helping to keep that city float.
    According to the story, 100,000 Memphis households are receiving about $3 billion annually in federal aid plus an additional $500 million in state aid. I'll save you the trip to the calculator: that's $35,000 per household in poverty. These figures apparently do not include unemployment payments as well as some additional federal aid.
    Doesn't that seem a little high? Isn't it time to cut back on the amount we're paying to these so-called "poor" families, who in fact are receiving more in free stuff from the federal government than an average man who goes to work every day can provide?
    We've got a mess. One part of the solution is to tell these households that they payments would decline by 25 percent each year for several years but they will be allowed to work or change their living arrangements in any way they wish without it affecting their eligibility for a monthly furnish.
    The second part is for the Republicans in Congress not to agree to any tax increase. Do not fund this beast! There is no need to raise taxes on either working people or millionaires when there are hundreds of thousands of households across America getting $35,000 per year for doing nothing.

Remarkable Like Me

    As a child and young teen I remember flipping through a book of my dad's called Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin. It told the story of a white journalist/author who turned himself black by taking heavy doses of a pigment releasing drug. I think he used some skin stain as well.
    Griffin's book was widely read and highly influential in the 1960s. His status as a white man gave him added credibility with the American public as he described his experiences of traveling through Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana as a black man. It should be noted that Griffin was apparently fully black in appearance, as he relates one conversation with another black where his companion complains about the black leadership not always listening to the voices of "dark skinned Negroes like us."
    I bought the book a couple of years ago and confess to having read only a third of it before setting it aside. It's really not a page turner, but nevertheless one of those books one would like to have read. I need to take it up again. I looked up the book on Amazon and did some additional research on Griffin today, and he turned out to be one of those people who after reader their Wikipedia entry or other Internet profile you just say "Wow!"
    For starters, Griffin did NOT die of cancer caused by the Oxsoralen he took to induce skin darkening. He died in 1980 at the age of 60 due to complications of diabetes.
    According to, Griffin was born in Dallas, Texas in 1920 and went to Paris at the age of 15 in search of a classical education. Of course, this makes me want to know a little bit more about his parents. Not many people are able or willing to send their 15 year old child off to Europe to study, and in 1935 he likely would have come home only once a year. And what Southerner had money to go to Europe in 1935?
    While barely out of his teens, he had completed studies in such diverse fields as French, literature, medicine, and music, worked as an intern conducting experiments in the use of music as therapy for the criminally insane, specialized in medieval music under the Benedictines at the Abbey of Solesmes, and was contemplating making the religious life his vocation. For some reason he was especially interested in Gregorian Chant. He wrote about his experiences at the Abbey and the personal struggles he underwent during this period of his life in his 1952 book, The Devil Rides Outside.
    Note that the link to above takes you to a collectible copy of his paperback novel released in the 1950s which became the subject of a court case, in part because of the "racy" cover. This novel described Griffin's personal struggles, which included certain sexual themes. As a result a bookstore owner was arrested for the sale of the book in Michigan, which resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court case of Butler v. Michigan, in which the Supreme Court ruled that a state could not, in the guise of protecting minors, restrict the non-obscene speech of adults.
    The opinion, written by Justice Felix Frankfurter, has a wonderful line that I plan insert into conversation at some point. He describes the Michigan law banning such speech as follows: "The State insists that, by thus quarantining the general reading public against books not too rugged for grown men and women in order to shield juvenile innocence, it is exercising its power to promote the general welfare. Surely, this is to burn the house to roast the pig." I love that last line and surely I will use it some day. An interesting law journal article states that the importance of Butler v. Michigan in free speech jurisprudence is often ignored. I tend to agree.
    I have placed the cart a bit before the horse in describing the court fight over Griffin's novel. His novel describes his life in his late teens. At the age of 19 World War II came and he joined the French Resistance and because of his medical training served as a medic. He later served more than three years in the Army Air Corps and spent almost two years as the only non-native on the island of Nuni, assigned to study the local population.
    In 1946 Griffin was blinded in an Air Corps accident. As a result of losing his sight he took up writing. He miraculously regained his eyesight 10 years later. After his death a collection of his essays that he wrote while blind was published, called Scattered Shadows: A Memoir of Blindness and Vision.
    Griffin wrote other novels but obviously his real claim to fame is Black Like Me. The idea for the book was truly remarkable. Yet look behind the book and there is a remarkable man with a truly remarkable life story. I'm surprised he has been so far beneath the radar of our consciousness.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Sleeping 'mask' no fun

    I recently had a "sleep study" done. Actually it was my second study. It had already been determined that I had moderate sleep apnea and needed to have have one of those dreadful masks fitted to my head. The only question was which mask and what pressure.
    Without boring you overmuch with the details of my sleep habits, I usually am asleep a few minutes after my head hits the pillow, although I do sometimes wake up in the night. With the dreadful mask it took me four hours and two sleeping pills to get to sleep, although I did sleep soundly for four hours. But sleeping with a mask clearly isn't going to be easy.
    I actually preferred the mask that covered my whole face rather than only my nose. The nose mask hurt my lip. Of course I could just lose 25 pounds and tell them to keep their breathing machines. But wearing the mask is apparently easier than losing the weight.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

For the new year, plan your hotel stay strategy to garner the most free rooms

    From time to time I tout various hotel loyalty programs depending on what their promotion of the season is. For the last part of 2012 it was Marriott all the way for Jinny and me as the Megabonus gave us one free night certificate for every two nights stayed.
    Now the certificates were only good in Category 1-4 hotels, generally Courtyards and Springhill Suites but not full Marriotts. This suits us just fine. Jinny and I were able to attend a couple of away football games and will spend a couple of nights in Birmingham for the Compass Bowl courtesy of Marriott free night certificates. We couldn't afford these trips without the free hotel nights!
    So we're a few days away from a new year. If you aren't signed up for hotel loyalty clubs you should be  -- for every single hotel chain where you lay your head at night.
    So where do you stay? At whatever chain has the best offers! And right now that's still Marriott, in my view. Once again they've got their Megabonus promotion going from Feb. 1 to April 30. Each Marriott Rewards member will get an individualized offer on the Marriott website, but most casual travelers will get a stay-two-get-one-free offer, with a maximum of three free night certificates.
    Marriott has three of these Megabonus offers each year, so there is the opportunity to earn nine free nights per year, or 18 nights per married couple. That's a lot of free hotel nights earned without a lot of hotel spending. And of course you'll be earning regular Marriott points along the way, along with Silver status, which isn't worth much but is better than nothing.
    I used to travel quite a bit, but now just every so often. But I still log enough hotel nights to make the Marriott Megabonus deal a great one for me. And of course Jinny is doing lots of travel with work, so she'll earn her three Megabonus nights while still taking advantage of what the other hotels have to offer.
    Here's a quick hotel strategy guide. Be aware that even if you spend only a few nights per year in a chain hotel you can earn free nights. But you have to join the club! I keep all my hotel club numbers in my phone so I have them handy; but remember, whenever possible reserve in advance on the Internet.

    Marriott: Take advantage of the three Megabonus offers that are likely to be offered this year. Stay-two-get-one is a really generous offer and that's what most casual travelers will get as their personalized offer. If 2012 is any guide you will be able to earn nine free nights for 18 stays during the next 12 months. Best of all, you can earn your points by staying in sub-$100 Fairfield Inns and then use the free rooms for Category 4 Courtyards and Springhill Suites that might run $150 or more per night. During the times when the Megabonus isn't active, take your business to greener pastures.

    Priority Club: Priority Club is the loyalty program for Holiday Inn and associated properties. These properties have been getting a bit of a face lift lately. They needed it. Priority Club points never expire and there are quarterly bonuses that you can place on your account to get extra points. Visit the Priority Club Forum on to find out the details about how you can use this program to your benefit. Ole Miss played Tulane this year on the same weekend as an AARP convention and hotel rates were sky high. We used Priority Club points to get a $450 Crowne Plaza French Quarter room for $70 and 25,000 points. Obviously we couldn't have afforded the trip without the almost-free room. One tip: Priority Club has terrible "elite" benefits, but is a great program for people wanting to earn points for free rooms for family vacations. You are much more likely to get a "family" room in Europe or elsewhere with Priority Club and the points accrue faster.

    Choice Hotels: Not many business people on expense accounts stay at Choice hotels. This chain includes Comfort Inn, Sleep Inn, Quality Inn, Rodeway Inn, and EconoLodge, among others. But for those traveling on their own dime they are sometimes adequate. And they sometimes have outstanding promotions. Last year they had at least two promotions that awarded 8,000 bonus points for each two stays booked on the Internet. In some cases that's enough for a free night. Sometimes they have Europe sales so that 8,000 to 12,000 points gets a decent hotel in Europe. So two nights in a $59 EconoLodge or Sleep Inn can earn you enough points for a room at the Hotel Diana in Venice or the Hotel Axel Opera in Paris. I've stayed at both at 10,000 and 8,000 points respectively and they are fine budget hotels. Choice Hotels have limitations on how far ahead they can be booked, and the Europe properties aren't always on sale, but this is a fine program for the budget lodging crowd. This chain's current promotion is triple points; not the greatest, but not terrible, either.

    Club Carlson: This loyalty program has essentially bought themselves some attention recently with some unbelievable stay-one-get-one offers. For just a few stays Jinny and I have about 250,000 points between us as well as two free night certificates. Points can be cashed in on free rooms for 8,000 to 50,000 each. This one is worth joining. Keep an eye out for additional generous offers. Club Carlson has both the Radisson hotels, which can be weak and variable in the U.S., and the growing and popular Country Inn and Suites, which I think are a notch above a Hampton Inn. They have a fairly large footprint in Europe with their Park Inn and Park Plaza brands.

    Hilton: I've listed this program fourth. There is nothing wrong with Hilton, but it's really not a great program for casual travelers; certainly not when compared to those above. Jinny is a HHonors Diamond and will likely stay enough next year to requalify for 2014. The Diamond status is great to have and the points do add up quickly for elite members. Hilton's first quarter promotion is double points and it's not a bad promotion, but not nearly as good for casual travelers as Marriott's Megabonus. I just think Hilton is a better choice for those who can earn Gold or Diamond status instead of the casual traveler. On a personal level I used to have Hilton Gold status and I'm now satisfied to stay four times a year to keep Silver status so that I will have access to VIP point redemptions. Hilton has "double-dipping," giving both hotel points and airline miles. The best airline is probably American, even though they have poor flights to Memphis. Their program is so much better than Delta, so their miles are worth about 50 percent more.

    Starwood and Hyatt: Nothing wrong with these programs, but they have so few properties in the South that the average traveler can't take advantage of most of their promotions. But if you find yourself staying in one of them, by all means join their loyalty program.

Monday, December 17, 2012

'Mismatch' an eye opener as to the price blacks pay to serve as window dressing for affirmative action

    No matter what your views on affirmative action and racial preferences, you ought to read Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It's Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won't Admit Itby Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor Jr.
    Sander is a UCLA law professor who shook the affirmative action world a few years ago with a law journal article on affirmative action and "mismatching" of students. Taylor is also a lawyer, and authored a book on the Duke Lacrosse case. Neither author is really opposed to affirmative action on the grounds that it is unfair to whites.
    The authors string together both hard data and anecdotes that show how racial preferences, as practiced today, are incredibly harmful to blacks (the authors find race preferences don't harm Hispanics, since they don't receive preferences that are nearly as large as those received by blacks). And the bad thing is the colleges know this and continue to string blacks along because all they care about is getting blacks in the door to make their minority recruitment numbers look good. It doesn't matter whether the blacks actually graduate or pass the bar -- and many won't. Just get them in the door.
    Universities have done everything they can to hide the data concerning affirmative action, even from professors on admissions committees. They have even lied and issued knowingly false reports. The authors have been able to glean data from sources here and there, and from various court cases where massive amounts of data were filed.
    The authors cite the example of a Dartmouth administrator who was charged with finding out why black students were signing up for STEM majors (science, technology, and math) and almost without exception changing to other courses of study. His finding was that the black students simply weren't as prepared as the white students and had lower SAT scores in math.
    According to an article in the Dartmouth student newspaper (covering a discrimination suit) Asians need a minimum math-verbal SAT score of 1550-1600 for admission to Dartmouth; whites need a 1410 and blacks need an 1100. Another source shows that the 75th percentile SAT math score at Dartmouth is 780 -- almost a perfect score. And it's these students with the near-perfect scores who will be the white students majoring in the STEM fields.
    So Dartmouth's affirmative action program is going to throw a bunch of above-average black students with 600 math SAT scores into a class with a bunch of genius white kids with 780 and 800 SAT scores and expect the black kids to keep up. They can't. Instead the black kids will make D's and F's and ensure that the white kids all get better grades on the curve. All of the black students will change majors and a few may quit college all together.
    But the thing is, a 600 math score on the SAT isn't terrible -- it's well above average. If these kids were to be placed with other students of like ability where the instruction was a little more basic and a little slower they would do just fine. It's not that they can't learn the material, they just can't learn it as fast or in the same manner as near-geniuses who make 780 or 800 on the SAT. This story is repeated countless times at schools across the country.
    The authors point out that there is a terrible mismatch problem in most American law schools. What they find is that black students who attend law schools far out of their league due to racial preferences tend to have great difficulty passing the bar. Students who attend a law school where their LSAT scores are similar to those of the other students tend to do quite well. There's something about being the worst in one's class that is just dispiriting.
    And that's what affirmative action has done for blacks. We've all had it drilled into us that we should attend the most elite college that we can. Due to racial preferences most blacks are guaranteed admittance into any university until they reach the point that they are in the bottom decile of the student body. But once they are admitted they leave themselves in a position that no matter how hard they try they can never hope to be a really good student in relation to their peers. The authors cite a study called "The Campus as a Frog Pond" which finds that it is much better to have high grades at a mediocre college than poor grades at a selective college. (Affirmative action aside, all parents would be well advised to counsel their children not to attend a university where their test scores will fall in the bottom half of the distribution; they should likely shoot for the top quartile). Yet due to affirmative action blacks will almost always be the ones with the bad grades. The system is rigged against them.
    Most people aren't aware of just how extreme racial preferences are in college admissions. To have a 500 point math-verbal difference on what is expected for Asians wanting to enter Dartmouth versus what is expected of blacks is just stunning. This is the norm and not the exception.
    When California did away with racial preferences for a few years after the passage of Proposition 209 something interesting happened. Minority applications from around the country to UCLA went up. Apparently many minorities wanted to attend a college where they would be viewed as equals. Many of these outstanding minority applications were turned down and minority enrollment did drop pretty dramatically. But even though enrollment dropped, the number of blacks graduating four years later remained virtually the same. In other words, the only students who didn't enroll were the ones who were going to flunk or drop out anyway
    California's race-blind system didn't last. Despite its success, the school succumbed to pressure to illegally discriminate again. But for a brief moment in time it was possible to see that a color-blind system could work, and that even though minority enrollment might drop, just as many blacks would earn degrees.
    The authors admit they don't know what the answer is, but they insist that universities should be required to inform blacks of what their likely outcomes are based on prior students with similar credentials. A law student told that only 40 percent of students with their grade-point and LSAT score had gone on to pass the bar might either rethink law school or check the success ratios of other universities.
    Blacks who are told they are being given an opportunity should be informed of just what that opportunity is instead of being used by universities for window dressing and to provide the illusion of "diversity." If affirmative action is about helping blacks, then start helping them by providing them with full disclosure about what their chances are should they enroll in a particular program or college.
    Read the book. You won't regret it.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

I just found out I can read a few of those JSTOR articles for free

    From time to time I like to research some obscure topic, and nothing is more frustrating than to find numerous scholarly articles available through the JSTOR digital journal storage library at tremendous cost.
    Today I followed a link just to read the first page and what do you know, JSTOR now has a program allowing individuals to read up to three articles every two weeks. I'd like more, but this at least allows me to access journal articles that I would like to read for myself.
    For what it's worth, I was wanting to read "The Campus as a Frog Pond: An Application of the Theory of Relative Deprivation to Career Decisions of College Men" James A. Davis, which appeared in the American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 72, No. 1 (Jul., 1966), pp. 17-31.

Monday, December 10, 2012

If states can't choose their own license plates, then there may be no right to choose state songs, either

    Are state songs constitutional? If a recent federal court ruling banning North Carolina's "Choose Life" license plates is upheld I don't see how they can be. (ACLU v. Conti)
    Now what does a "Choose Life" license plate have to do with a state song? Simple. Both represent official, state-sanctioned or approved speech which -- in most cases and in North Carolina's case -- have been approved by the state legislature and signed into law. North Carolina had approved 150 license plates as speech which the state itself supported and was willing to give its imprinteur.
    North Carolina has only one state song, "The Old North State," but a majority of state have more than one. New Hampshire has 10 state songs. Yes, 10!
    In North Carolina, the procedure for adopting a state song and a license plate are identical. Both are proposed by a legislator and then enacted into law (any group may seek a special license plate, but it must be approved through the regular legislative process). Approval by the legislature and signing into law by the governor effectively makes the state song or the license plate officially approved state speech.
    It should be noted that a state may not force someone to carry a license plate with a message that violates their fundamental religious principles. Thus the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Jehovah's Witnesses had the right to tape over the words "Live Free or Die" on New Hampshire license plates, Wooley v. Maynard, 430 U.S. 705 (1977). But North Carolina isn't trying to force people to carry the "Choose Life" plate; it is just declining to issue a pro-abortion plate.
    License plates aren't the only things with the potential to cause offense. State songs have just as much, if not more, potential to offend as the "Choose Life" license plate. Florida's state song, Swanee River by Stephen Foster, makes reference to "Darkies" longing for the plantation. Virginia's "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny" contains fond references to both "Darkies" and "Massa."
    And our own "Go Mississippi!" state song was adopted in 1962 and set to the tune of Gov. Ross Barnett's campaign song, in a clear show of support of his segregationist policies. I can see how some might find the history of the song offensive. Click here to hear the tune of the state song, which adds a note or two to spell the state name. The lyrics to both songs, sung to identical tune, are reproduced below (click to enlarge):

    For those of you interested in such things, Curtis Wilke in his book Dixie: A Personal Odyssey Through Events That Shaped the Modern Southgives the meaning of the derisive nicknames at the end of the song: Big Daddy was Gov. Hugh White; Tall Daddy was Gov. J.P. Coleman; and Little Boy Blue was Lt. Gov. Carroll Gartin, all more moderate than Barnett. In his unsuccessful 1955 campaign for governor, Barnett referred to the candidacy of former vice presidential candidate and Gov. Fielding Wright as "Wright to White and White to Wright," a memorable suggestion that the two men were swapping the office back and forth. Wright was defeated by J.P. Coleman and died in 1956.
    I think a strong argument can be made that Mississippi should have a new state song. But I don't have the right to have the current song banned just because I don't like it. I don't have the right to insist that the state adopt a song of my choosing to further my exercise of free speech, and the failure of the state to adopt a song of my choosing doesn't deprive me of my free speech rights. It is the prerogative of the legislature to adopt a state song or songs. If I don't like them I can choose not to sing them.
    The same goes for North Carolina's "Choose Life" license plate. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that the state had a legitimate interest in the life of the fetus from the time of conception. Roe just held that the Ninth Amendment privacy right of the mother outweighed the state's interest in the life of the fetus during the first trimester of the pregnancy. There is nothing in Roe v. Wade to suggest that a state may not pass proclamations urging women not to choose abortion; this should certainly include going so far as to put to these proclamations on license plates.
    It should be noted that the court in its decision banning the "Choose Life" license plates said that they weren't really government speech, as they were adopted along with 70 other license plates. However, several legislators suggested the additional of a "Respect Choice" plate and after vigorous debate this was rejected. So the state clearly had some messages that it was willing to support and some that it rejected. This is a state's sovereign right. And if New Hampshire can have 10 state songs, why can't North Carolina have 150 license plates?
    The Court's ruling is that North Carolina is engaging in viewpoint discrimination. Yet North Carolina as a state is permitted to engage in viewpoint discrimination. It is permitted to throw out a buffet of what it considers socially acceptable causes for its citizens to support with their license plates -- should they choose to do so -- while declining to give state sanction to those activities which, though legal, the state does not approve.
    By denying North Carolina the right to issue license plates of its choice the federal court is depriving that state of the right to exercise one its basic rights of state sovereignty: the right to have official positions as a state; the right to say that as a state it would prefer that its citizens "Choose Life."
    But the right to determine state birds, state songs and state license plates should be up to the several legislatures and states, not the federal courts. This is true whether we agree with the state's position or not.

Mississippi State Song Lyrics
"Go Mississippi"
Mississippi State Song, Adopted 1962

States may sing their songs of praise
With waving flags and hip-hoo-rays,
Let cymbals crash and let bells ring
Cause here's one song I'm proud to sing.


Go, Mississippi, keep rolling along,
Go, Mississippi, you cannot go wrong,
Go, Mississippi, we're singing your song,

Go, Mississippi, you're on the right track,
Go, Mississippi, and this is a fact,
Go, Mississippi, you'll never look back,

Go, Mississippi, straight down the line,
Go, Mississippi, ev'rything's fine,
Go, MIssissippi, it's your state and mine,

Go, Mississippi, continue to roll,
Go, Mississippi, the top is the goal,
Go, Mississippi, you'll have and you'll hold,

Go, Mississippi, get up and go,
Go, Mississippi, let the world know,
That our Mississippi is leading the show,

Roll With Ross
Ross Barnett 1959 Campaign Song

When they count the votes that night
You’ll find that things have gone just right
Folks will laugh and sing be gay
With Ross Barnett to lead the way


So climb on the wagon, it’s rolling along,
Shout from the rooftop, his victory song,
Climb on the wagon, it cannot go wrong,
Roll with Ross, Roll with Ross, He’s his own boss

He’s for segregation, 100 percent,
He’s not a moderate, like some other gent,
He’s fight integration, with forceful intent,
Roll with Ross, Roll with Ross, He’s his own boss

Invited Edward Rollins, up Tennessee way,
To fight for segregation, without any pay,
He’s one of the lawyers who helped save the day,
Roll with Ross, Roll with Ross, He’s his own boss

He is rebellious against the machine
Dictatorial politics are somewhat unclean,
He’s a man of the people if you know what we mean,
Roll with Ross, Roll with Ross, He’s his own boss

Owes no allegiance to some chosen few
Owes his allegiance to you and to you
[shout] Big Daddy, Tall Daddy, Little Boy Blue!
Roll with Ross, Roll with Ross, He’s his own boss

Sunday, December 9, 2012

New Orleans ambulance booted -- another reason why we shouldn't admit low-quality immigrants

    Perhaps you've heard about the ambulance in New Orleans that was "booted" while answering a call at a convenience store.
    A "Mr. Quicky's" customer was suffering chest pains so an ambulance was called. While paramedics were treating the man an employee of the convenience store went out and "booted" the ambulance for illegally parking in the lot. The lights of the ambulance were still on and paramedics were running back and forth the whole time.
    When the ambulance tried to rush the customer to the hospital they heard a loud "clunk," and discovered they had been booted. When the boot was removed they found their tire was flat and had to call another ambulance, thus substantially delaying medical attention to the patient.
    Store owners blamed the booting on too-aggressive action on one of its employees, now fired, a man by the name of Sidi Aleywa. Aleywa has been cited by the city for simple criminal damage.
    A Mr. Quicky's employee explained what happened: “The guy that did this, he came from another country,” said fellow employee Ali Colone. “He didn’t even know what an ambulance looked like.” News reports said Aleywa didn't speak English, either.
    In a single incident we have everything that is wrong with immigration in America today. I don't believe for a minute that this man didn't know what an ambulance is. It's just that he is a slimeball from a nation with no ethic of civic responsibility and so, unlike the typical American, he had no qualms about booting an ambulance.
    As for his not speaking English, if he doesn't speak English why was he allowed to enter the country on a permanent basis? Increasing the number of non-English speakers certainly doesn't make us stronger as a nation. Has anybody even bothered to check on this man's immigration status?
    Around the world are millions of really smart, educated people who are eager to come to the United States. Many of them have money to invest. They either already speak English or are willing to learn. They would never dream of booting an ambulance. These are people who could make our nation stronger. Let's roll out the red carpet for these potential immigrants and let them know that America welcomes them.
    What the United States doesn't need are people who don't speak English, or people who aren't very smart. We need to insist that these people stay away, and if they are already in this country illegally we need to track them down and deport them.
    If we allow bad people entry into our nation they will, as a practical matter, do bad things. If we fail to insist on English as a prerequisite to entry they will then blame their bad behavior on their inability to speak or read our language.
    All of this can be avoided by being a little more selective about who we allow into our nation in the first place. That and aggressively enforcing our immigration laws. It's our country, and Sidi Aleywa and his ilk need to be refused admittance or the right to live here.

Note: This was first published in the blog.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Use Kroger's Amazon gift cards and save lots of money on gas

    Here's a money-saving tip for the holidays. If you're planning on doing some of your shopping on, buy a gift card at Kroger to pay for your purchases.
    Kroger is offering quadruple fuel points on gift card purchases, so a $100 gift card purchase translates into a 40-cent discount on a gas fill-up. A $500 gift card provides a $2 per gallon discount on gas.
    My car only has a 16-gallon tank, but a 40-cent discount still comes out to $6.40. Add in the value of the airline miles you get for purchasing the gift card with a credit card and you're looking at maybe an additional $1.60. Getting an $8 discount off the top is a pretty good deal. And of course Amazon doesn't charge sales tax for many of its customers.
    Kroger offers a number of other gift cards in addition to the Amazon ones. If you think you will use one of them right away, by all means buy one and get the fuel discount.
    If you heed my advice and buy a gift card, please take one more bit of advice. Rush home and apply the gift card to your Amazon account right away. If you lose the gift card you save nothing!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A new recruitment film from Mississippi State

    A new recruitment film put out by Mississippi State University features Greek Life. Although it's not for me, it does look like the kids are having a lot of fun!

Friday, November 30, 2012

As promised, I've contacted the governor; now it's your turn

    In my most recent blog post, I said I was going to contact Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant concerning the possibility that Mississippi is planning to execute a possibly innocent man, Jeffrey Havard.
    Will it do any good? Probably not. But I've done my duty as a citizen.
    Here's my letter, submitted on Phil Bryant's website:
Dear Gov. Bryant:
    As an attorney, I believe there is a real possibility that Jeffrey Havard is innocent. I do not know that; he was never given adequate funding for a defense and once reasonable doubt was raised post-conviction the Mississippi Supreme Court said it should have been raised at his trial. Of course, it couldn't have been raised at his trial because the judge refused to provide any money for medical tests!
    I'm sure you know the facts of the case. His conviction is based almost entirely on the testimony of disgraced medical examiner Stephen Hayne. No one should even be in jail based on this man's testimony, much less put to death.
    Please do the right thing and commute this man's sentence to life imprisonment so that he will have the opportunity to continue to fight to clear his name. And if he loses, at lease Mississippi will not have killed a possibly innocent man.
    For what it's worth, I am a conservative Republican. This is not a liberal versus conservative issue. It is an issue of wrong versus right and the rule of law. Jeffrey Havard may be guilty but we certainly can't be sure, and given the extreme level of doubt that exists, he simply should not be put to death.
    Please don't let Mississippi execute a possibly innocent man!
Should you wish to email Gov. Bryant, just click here.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Hayne nightmare continues -- Mississippi getting ready to kill a possibly innocent man

    Radley Balko reports for the Huffington Post on the latest travesty of justice in Mississippi. Our state is getting ready to execute a man who is quite possibly innocent.
    Please take a few minutes out of your day to read the article linked to above. For years Mississippi prosecutors used Mississippi medical examiner Stephen Hayne as an expert witness to put people in prison or on death row. By reputation he is the type of person who would say just about anything the prosecutors wanted him to say to secure a conviction. He wasn't board certified, and eventually the law was changed to keep him from testifying in any further trials.
    I used to support the death penalty. I don't any more and haven't for a number of years. It's cases like this one, the Duke Lacrosse case, the George Zimmerman case, and many others that have convinced me that too often the police and/or unscrupulous prosecutors either frame innocent people or decide on guilt and throw out the rule book. Most prosecutors are honest and fair, but it only takes a few bad ones to commit what amounts to legalized murder.
    I doubt that contacting Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant will do any good, but as citizens we have a duty to do so. I certainly will, and will ask that the death sentence of Jeffrey Havard be commuted. I don't know whether Havard is guilty or not, but what I do know is that no one, and I do mean no one, should be convicted -- much less put to death -- based on the testimony of Stephen Hayne.
    I hope anyone reading this will join me in contacting our governor.
    I might add that at some point I will be contacting our attorney general, an old friend in whom I am gravely disappointed.

Thanks to Y'all Politics for bringing the Balko post to my attention.

    Radley Balko has been doing the Lord's work down here in Mississippi. All Mississippians not yet executed are in his debt. 

    Also, now might be a good time to read my blog post about former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Jimmy Robertson's lament over his very minor role in sustaining the conviction of an innocent man (he wasn't on the three-judge panel but concurred in t he opinion). The blog post is linked to a newsletter article he wrote, so you can read Jimmy's writing rather than mine!

Local doctor charges $40 for office visit, no bills, no insurance, no Medicare or Medicaid

    I got an interesting flyer in the mail not long ago that suggests which way medical care may be heading in the near future.
    The flyer is for a medical clinic operated by local doctor Thomas Fowlkes and two nurse practitioners.
    Dr. Fowlkes' clinic doesn't accept Medicaid, Medicare, or insurance. Payment is expected when services are rendered; no bills. An office visit costs $40 -- substantially less than at most clinics.
    Ask any doctor about the problems with getting paid by insurance companies or the government and after their blood pressure goes down they will tell you the billing side of the business is killing them. A substantial portion of the typical medical practice is now devoted solely to maintaining billing and insurance records. As Medicare reimbursements drop I think we'll see more doctors pulling out of the system altogether.
    In addition to marketing his clinic to people without insurance, Fowlkes also seeks those who have insurance but also either have a high deductible or else those who are in a hurry. Obamacare is expected to dramatically increase the already long wait time to see a doctor. Fowlkes's clinic doesn't accept appointments and sets a goal of seeing patients within 15 minutes of arrival.
    I suspect that in the future more and more people with either insurance or Medicare will decide to just pay cash for service for their minor ailments rather than endure the hassle of a long wait for an appointment at their preferred doctor's office.
    In fact, it may be the formula all medical providers need to adopt in the future. For the big stuff, use insurance; for the little stuff, just pay.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Factoid of the day -- tankless water heaters don't save money

    I learned a little about tankless water heaters today and the lesson is unless you have the need for sudden bursts of unlimited hot water, don't buy one.
    These little devices are marketed as a way to save money, and they do save perhaps $80 per year in energy costs. But they cost about $1,200 more than a traditional hot water heater, so it can easily take 20 years to recoup your investment.
    And tankless hot water heaters are supposed to be "flushed" once a year to remove scale build-up on the coils. You might put this on a two-year schedule or even a three-year schedule, but it has to be done and will cost at least $150. And water heaters do break down and need to be replaced. It's far cheaper to replace a storage tank than a tankless heater.
    The bottom line is that a tankless water heater will cost substantially more than a conventional water heater. If you want to be "green," take the $1,000 or more you will save by using a conventional, gas water heater and use it to put extra insulation in your attic or to provide better seals for your doors and windows. You'll save money instead of throwing it away with a tankless water heater.

When it comes to hotels, I guess fancy is in the eyes of the beholder -- or reporter

    In a Tuesday, November 27, 2012, story headlined "Hotel builder reaches deal with OSD, (paywall)" Melanie Addington reports on the activity of the Oxford School Board.
For instance, on Monday the board took steps that may result in a fancy new hotel being built near the Square...
    Further reading reveals that the school board granted an easement and took other action to facilitate the building of a Courtyard by Marriott that is proposed for the vacant tract on Jackson Ave., south of the Middle School and the Scott Center.
    Now I enjoy Courtyards well enough and consider them a notch above a Hampton or Fairfield Inn. They use duvets, so I don't have to sleep under a dirty, unwashed bedspread or blanket, but that's true of all Marriott and Hilton properties. But I can't imagine anyone outside the Clampett family referring to a Courtyard by Marriott as a "fancy" hotel.
    The Courtyard, if built, will have a great location, inferior only to the Downtown Inn and the Inn at Ole Miss. I predict it will be successful. Perhaps it will even have a "fancy eatin' room."

Monday, November 26, 2012

There isn't much gender gap, just a marriage gap; so let's stop punishing those who work and marry!

    In looking at the recent election returns, one thing is certain: Republicans don’t need to worry about the gender gap. They need to worry about the marriage gap.
    We often hear about Soccer Moms and gender gaps, and there is a difference between voting preferences between married men and married women. But the real  gap is between married people and single people. Exit polls from the Nov. 6 election show that Mitt Romney won a majority of both married men and married women, taking 60 and 53 respectively. Single men only gave Romney 40 percent of the vote and only 31 percent of single women voted for Romney.
    Single people just occupy a different space from the Ward and June Cleaver world experienced by most married couples. And women who insist on becoming single mothers find the job is a difficult one. They invariably want lots and lots of government aid and support financed through taxation.
    There was a time when single parenthood was an accident – a mistake where a young mother misjudged a young man – either through an unwed pregnancy or through an ill-advised and brief marriage – and decided to turn lemons into lemonade.
    What used to happen by accident now happens on purpose. Unwed pregnancy is no longer an accident; it’s become a lifestyle choice. Regardless of income level, children raised by single parents have a higher risk of a host of poor life outcomes.
    We’re now to the point that 40 percent of all children born in this country are born out-of-wedlock. Some economists say nearly half of the economic inequality in the United States is due to the negative consequences of single parenthood. It’s not tax policy causing inequality; it’s a failure of women to marry before having kids. And I suspect this inequality grows over time.
    How did we get here? Obviously welfare got us here, but it was the welfare state combined with our reluctance to provide any benefits to families where there was a man about the house. A good look at our various relief programs illustrates that the only way to qualify for help is to make oneself a failure.
    If we want to turn this ship around, we have to stop punishing people for being married and stop punishing people for working. As much as I hate Obamacare, we need to recognize that the reason many women don’t get married is so they can qualify for Medicaid. We need to find a way to provide free medical care and maternity care to all American women who are pregnant or who have young children, regardless of income level, regardless of whether there is a man in the house.
    We need to provide every American child with a free lunch at school. No more paying people to see if the children qualify. Just serve every child a free lunch regardless of income. It wouldn’t cost that much.
    A study was released recently that said the various branches of government spent $60,000 per year per household caring for the 16.8 million American households in poverty. Obviously the bulk of this money goes to overhead. Instead of means testing for welfare, we need to just adopt some modest, across-the-board payroll taxes and then make each and every welfare program universal.
    If one citizen gets a free lunch, everybody gets a free lunch. If one citizen gets a housing subsidy, every citizen gets one for the same amount. If one citizen gets food stamps, every citizen gets food stamps.
    With universality, there is no more incentive to fail. Low-income women can marry without being punished, and if they get a job, they still keep their benefits. So let’s stop rewarding failure and punishing success, and hopefully put an end to the “marriage gap.”

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Former Alabama signee joins ranks of Freeze football fans with Ole Miss commit

    Coach Freeze and the Ole Miss Rebels have snatched away a recruit from Alabama and as a result the Ole Miss line will be getting a little bit bigger. Make that a lot bigger.
    Brandon Hill, who attended school at St. George's in Collierville, signed with Alabama in February 2012 but wasn't able to enroll this fall due to some academic problems. So he enrolled in Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va., to  make up the course work and get ready for the 2013 season.
    He's now ready and said he will enroll at Ole Miss in the spring. He said the offer was still open at Alabama but he just decided on Ole Miss instead. Hill is one of several high-profile recruits that Freeze has picked up recently.
    Various news outlets describe Hill as being either 6'6" or 6'7" and weighing between 350 and 378 pounds.
    Hill has been an offensive tackle at Hargrave, but I say we just let him run with the ball and see if anybody can stop him.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

It seems to me that remote access is a better way to exchange secret love letters

    It's interesting to hear how Gen. Petraeus and his lady love exchanged email love letters.
    They didn't actually send the emails to each other. Instead, they shared a Gmail or similar account and would write the emails and save them to draft. Instead of actually emailing the documents, and thus creating a traceable online trail, they would just take turns logging into the gmail account to read each other's missives.
    The news media tell us that this is a communication technique long used by terrorists and teenagers to evade detection. I have noted no irony in the equation of the two groups.
    One problem with saving drafts on a gmail account is that gmail is forever. Anything saved on these servers once is saved forever somewhere. If a scheme should be found out, eventually each and every incriminating document will also come out -- as apparently is happening now.
    It seems to me that a better way to communicate would be with various computer remote access programs. Such communications would require a computer in a safe location, but all actual documents could be saved to a removable drive on the remote computer. Such love letters could even be encrypted before they are saved. And if the heat arrived that removable drive could just disappear.
    I really don't know much about computers, or code, or the Web. These are just things I thought about as I was listening to the problems of the man who used to be America's top spy. My only conclusion is that if he's the best we've got, we're in trouble.

UNRELATED: I predict the next wave of government spyware and spying will be to aggressively surveil unsent drafts of various cloud email programs. I do not object to this as long as the government informs parents if their teenagers are engaging in risky behavior.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Time to buy a year's supply of cream of mushroom soup, other pantry items

    I stumbled across Campbell's Cream of Mushroom and Cream of Chicken soups this week for 69 cents a can. I bought 10 cans of each. I still have some left from last year when I stocked up at 60 cents per can.
    I'll be watching the price. If it drops some more I'll probably buy another 10-20 cans of each.
    Thanksgiving and Christmas are a great time to stock up on these two items, as well as Pet Milk, sometimes sweetened condensed milk, and a few more items used in holiday cooking. Grocery stores heavily discount these items in order to attract customers doing their holiday shopping.
    One need but read the news from the northeast to know that disasters can happen and food supplies can be disrupted. One way to plan for these disasters is to buy a bunch of expensive freeze-dried food and such. The other way is just to stock up of groceries when they are on sale.
    A few years ago I actually bought 50 cans of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup. It was only 50 cents a can and I figured we would eventually eat through it. Over the course of a year or so we did, and saved a bit of money, too. When I found a good quality pasta on sale for 50 cents a pound a while back I bought 50 pounds. I don't know that I'll ever see Ragu spaghetti sauce at 88 cents again, but last time I did I bought 30 bottles.
    So don't worry about buying a lot of expensive emergency supplies. Just make sure that you have a full pantry. Keep an extra bag of sugar, an extra bag of flour, a few bottles of cooking oil and just lots of non-perishable food in general on hand -- all bought on sale of course!
    You might think disaster will never strike, but one of these days you'll pour your morning coffee and find the cream has curdled. If you have a pantry full of Pet milk you can at least get through the day! And if that's the only disaster you ever have, you'll still save lots of money by buying lots of your groceries while they are on deep discount.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Dixville Notch down to 10 voters this year;
Hart's Location is where the action is

    Every four years the residents of Dixville Notch, N.H., gather to cast their ballots at midnight. Since New Hampshire law allows the closing of the polls after every registered voter has voted, they report the results soon afterwards. Most of us have seen the news stories at either midnight or on the early morning shows.
    According to a new story, this year Dixville Notch has 10 registered voters. In 2008 there were 21, according to Wikipedia. In 2008 the community voted 15-6 in favor of Barack Obama over John McCain; however, since there is such a large decline in the number of voters this year, we won't be able to tell much about which way the election is heading from the Dixville Notch vote.
    Even though we've all heard of Dixville Notch, the original early-voting New Hampshire community is Hart's Location, which started the practice in 1948 and discontinued it in 1964 because -- can you believe this -- it was drawing too much media attention! The community resumed midnight voting in 1996. The original reason for the midnight voting had nothing to do with garnering attention; most residents worked for the railroad and wanted to get the vote over with so they wouldn't have to man the polls on election day.
    We live in a different world today and my guess is that the residents of Hart's Location, N.H., love their 15 minutes of fame. And while the Dixville Notch votes might not tell us much this year the Hart's Location votes will. In 2008 Obama defeated McCain 17-10 in Hart's Location with Ron Paul getting two write-in votes.
    It's a mighty small sample, but the Hart's location voters will give us an idea of Romney's chances around the nation. If Romney wins in Hart's location -- or even comes close -- go ahead and ice down a bottle of champagne.

Friday, November 2, 2012

More Republicans are voting early, but Shelby County, Tenn., has fewer early voters this year

    The Shelby County Daily News reports that the early voting period has ended in Shelby County, Tenn., and I think the numbers show the kind of problem that Barack Obama is having all across the nation with an unenthusiastic Democratic base and a Republican base that is chomping at the bit.
    There is no way to know exactly who the Shelby County voters cast their ballots for -- after all it is a secret ballot -- but the overall numbers are down. In 2008, 254,362 Shelby Countians cast their ballots early. This year 232,690 cast early ballots. And these numbers are down despite the fact that there are a lot more Republican early voters this year.
    In 2008, the early voting was overwhelmingly in favor of Obama. And of course in Shelby County it will continue to be. But nationally a majority of early voters have been Romney voters. One has to assume a higher percentage of this year's early Shelby voters were Republican.
    Based on the 2008 figures, about 60 percent of the people in Shelby County who are going to vote have voted. Roughly another 150,000 will show up on election day. But with lower early voter numbers, and higher Republican participation in in early voting, it can only mean there are a lot fewer votes for Obama out there this year.
    Of course, in Tennessee it won't matter; it was going for Romney no matter what. And there is the possibility that Democrats haven't tried as hard to get out the vote. But don't surprised when Romney achieves a blowout in Tennessee on Tuesday. And if Shelby County is representative of of what is going on around the nation, look for Romney to win the election.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Old Stuff Found -- Tulane's Marching Band does Another Brick in the Wall, Sept. 22, 2012

    I was looking through stuff on my video camera and came across this film of the Tulane Marching Band performing at the halftime show during the Ole Miss-Tulane Game on Sept. 22.
    I'm not going to say the Tulane band is the biggest in the world, but the show was certainly different. It featured Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall."
    I only filmed a portion of the halftime show and then edited it down in size, so the resulting video is only 3.5 minutes long. In the background you can hear my daughter asking, "Who's Pink Floyd?" Clearly a deprived child.
    It was a great win early on for the Rebels, who won 39-0. I think the number of Ole Miss fans was down a bit. The Saints were playing that weekend and there was an AARP convention in town. Hotel prices were through the roof. We were able to use hotel points for free nights, otherwise we were looking at having to pay $300 per night. Ugh!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A great South Dakota ad, and both candidates like it!

    In one of the more unusual campaigns ads of the year, this South Dakota ad, presented in Mission Impossible fashion, presents Democrat House challenger Matt Varilek as a sort of globe-trotting Eco-villian while incumbent Kristi Noem was busy running the family farm, being named Farmer of the Year and being elected first to the state legislature and then to Congress.
    The race has now become a contest between a globe-trotting, Green-Party-wannabe, corn-dog-eating, beer- and J├Ągermeister-swilling Democrat who has spent most of his adult life out of South Dakota and a Republican, Palinesque mom who raised her kids while managing the family farm and then found her way into politics as a state legislator and Congressman.
    What's odd about the ad is that it solidifies support for both candidates. Varilek's campaign took the unusual step of forwarding the video link to its entire email list, and supporters have shared it with numerous blogs. The gossip website Gawker called the video “an excellent ad for her Democratic opponent.”
    Republicans seem happy with the ad, which has gone viral. If I knew neither candidate it would certainly make me almost certain to vote for Noem. Most of my liberal friends would see it and likely become die-hard Varilek supporters.
    Great way to save money on ads. Just create ads that both candidates can agree on.

h/t Jackson Jambalaya

Monday, October 29, 2012

Predicting effect of Hurricane Sandy on election like predicting the weather itself

    Hurricane Sandy is the ultimate wildcard in the final week of the election cycle. Will it help Romney or Obama? I don't know.
    I think it will freeze the race in place a little bit. All eyes will be focused on weather news. Of course, Romney has saved a tremendous amount of his advertising budget for the last 10 days of the campaign, so presumably lots of eyes will see these campaign commercials. Except perhaps for the needed eyes of Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, where the electricity may be out.
    Romney's last week of advertising is likely to be upbeat in nature. Campaigns beat up their opponents all through the election cycle and then go positive in the last week. This positive message will play well during a time of disaster. Of course, Obama is going to be able to do a better job of providing disaster relief than Bush was during Katrina, since the recipients Hurricane Sandy aid probably won't be shooting at those trying to help them.
    Early voting was shut down Saturday and will be shut down for the next few days on the Eastern Seaboard. Coaxing people to go to the polls who might not have the discipline to go on Election Day was considered an important part of the Obama election strategy.
    Obama is no doubt glad to have everyone's attention turned away from Libya, where the most recent reports are that troops were set ready, willing, and able to rescue our ambassador and other Americans but that he refused to allow it. Will we find out before Election Day why Gen. Carter Ham was relieved of duty? Was it because he was about to rescue our citizens without receiving authorization to do so? Thanks to Hurricane Sandy, this issue may be blown away until after the election.
    There is some evidence that unpleasant events having absolutely nothing to do with the election can affect the outcome; voters tend to vote against the party in power when they are in a disgruntled mood. A Reuters new story suggests the outcome of the Ohio State-Illinois football game this weekend might well have an effect on voting behavior the following Tuesday. One study has found that a victory by a popular home team is worth 1.6 percentage points to the incumbent candidate. So if Ohio State loses, unhappy voters might take their frustrations out on Obama.
    The same article cites a study that shows that voters in coastal New Jersey towns apparently took out their frustrations over a spate of shark attacks on Woodrow Wilson, who was running for re-election, with these findings based on voting patterns on inland towns versus those of the coastal ones.
    Will voters take their frustrations about Hurricane Sandy out on Obama? My guess is that it will be too soon. If anything, the storm may help the president as there tends to be a "let's all pull together" attitude after a major disaster. It's only when hardships continue that people become frustrated and surly, and by that time the election will have come and gone.
    More problematic for Obama may be getting voters to the polls. Republicans tend to be more reliable voters; Democrats require more cajoling. If voting requires additional hardship in Pennsylvania, Virginia, New Hampshipe and Maine's Second Congressional District it could be a real game changer.
    It's sort of like watching a football game in a rainstorm. We all know the odds have been changed, but most of us don't know which team will benefit.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Does Obama care enough about the poor to let someone give them $5 million?

    Does Barack Obama really care about the poor?
    He says he does, but that's just good politics. Donald Trump has offered to give $5 million to the charity of President Obama's choice. All Obama has to do is release his college records and passport applications.
    That seems reasonable enough. Would you release your college records and passport applications in exchange for a $5 million (or even $5,000) charitable donation? I would. I bet Mitt Romney would. He gives millions to charity every year anyway -- on a percentage basis about twice of what Obama gives.
    Let's hold both candidates to the same standard. Certainly it's time for Romney to agree to release his college records and passport applications in exchange for someone giving a $5 million charitable donation to his charities. It's time to see which candidate is really caring.
    So does Obama really care about the poor or not? We'll see.

Leave 'tipsy' walkers alone, but throw the vandals and rowdies in jail

    Following the first home football game the Oxford Eagle carried a story stating that Oxford Police were cracking down on “drunk walkers.”
    Needless to say, this story created a great deal of concern for many of us, who would rather have tipsy students walk than drive. The notion of arresting students who are making wise choices just seems outrageous.
    So I did what any citizen would do. I snatched up my phone and called the mayor. Oxford mayor Pat Patterson is an old friend. His mother was my sixth-grade teacher, he roomed with my brother in college and he provided me with part-time employment from time to time as a student. So we can speak freely.
    And what Pat told me in no uncertain terms is that there is no city policy to arrest “drunk walkers.” And in fact, Pat gave me an internal police memo written before the Oxford Eagle story that said as much. I’m not going to reprint the whole memo as it contains some internal police content, but here’s a portion:

“As you are aware we have had an increase in students walking home from the bars. This is great news and shows they are trying to do the right thing. But this also brings other problems.
“The main problem is the increase in vandalism and noise disturbances on their way home. They have been knocking over mail boxes, stealing chairs off porches, dumping trash cans over, etc. etc.etc.
“We will have Zero Tolerance for anyone being public drunk, loud, disorderly or trying to destroy someone else’s property. In saying this I do not expect people who are not causing a disturbance to be arrested.”
    Now I’m sure that there have been arrests made over the years that shouldn’t have been made. Following the 2006 death of UPD officer Robert Langley, who was dragged to his death by a drunken Ole Miss student, police were very aggressive about arresting students who had been drinking, whether they were on foot or behind the wheel. But it is not current policy to bother students on foot who aren’t disturbing the peace or breaking the law.
    But students and others do need to understand that there are some real problems with having several thousand drunken college students roaming the streets at midnight. Vandalism is a serious problem. Loud noise is a serious problem. As a parent with two children, I’ve come to expect a certain amount of screaming at 1 a.m., but there does need to be a limit.
    A couple of weeks ago an 80-year-old man had his front door bashed in by a drunken student who was confused as to his place of residence. If the key don’t fit, dude, maybe you’re at the wrong place! It’s a fine line: Do the police wait until the student bashes in an old man’s door, or do they arrest him as he stumbles down the sidewalk, clearly in a drunken stupor?
    Much of the problem that Oxford has with rowdy students has to do with the university’s crackdown on student drinking in fraternity houses. There was a time – a better time – when students drank beer and partied in their fraternity houses and if they had too much to drink they went upstairs and found a spare sofa and sacked out for the night. So Fraternity Row has essentially moved to the Oxford Square.
    If the university wants to send its students into Oxford to drink and make merry, that’s fine. But the university ought to pony up some money to help police these kids to make sure they get home safely without harming or disturbing the residents of Oxford. It’s not too much to ask.
    If Oxford Police are arresting students who are just a little bit tipsy and not causing a disturbance – say a blood alcohol content of below .15 – then they shouldn’t and the city should take measures to stop them. I do not doubt that there have been some “innocent” students arrested, and the city officials and police chiefs need to work together to see to it that these arrests do not happen.
    At the same time vandalism is a serious problem. Late-night noise is a serious problem. Stumbling drunk students are a problem. The police have a duty to get these kids off the street and to protect the local citizenry.
    So the best advice for drunk students leaving bars is this: If you are really drunk, or feel the urge to make a lot of racket or tear something up, take a taxi home.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Holly Springs First Baptist to celebrate 175th year this Sunday; former youth get together Saturday

    First Baptist Church in Holly Springs will celebrate its 175 anniversary this coming Sunday, Oct. 21, with a 10 a.m. worship service followed by lunch. Members are encouraged to bring a dish, although there will be extra food on hand. (Note the time, it's 10 a.m., not 11).
    Needless to say, all members, former members, friends of members, friends of former members, prospective members, community members, and first, second, and third cousins once, twice, or thrice removed of all of the above are invited to attend.
    Former pastor Dr. Earl Kelly is scheduled to be in attendance and will speak briefly. Dr. Kelly was pastor in the late 1950s and early 1960s during a period of substantial growth for the church and went on to serve as Executive Director of the Mississippi Baptist Convention for many years. His sermons were said to have the power to cause chandeliers to drop, gas pipelines to explode and ravens to fly ominously around the sanctuary. (Anyone wanting to know what I'm referring to will just have to attend the anniversary service and ask).
   First Baptist welcomed a new pastor just a few weeks ago, Dr. Joe Lusby. Dr. Lusby is originally from Tupelo. He received a Bachelor of Arts from Ole Miss, a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Ministry from Louisiana Baptist University. He was most recently the pastor at First Baptist Church, Greenfield, TN, where he served for 14 years. He has also pastored churches in Braxton, Olive Branch, and Tunica, MS. Dr. Lusby is married to Patty Watkins Lusby, originally from Abbeville, and they have three children, Kyle, Kayla, and Kristen.
    Milton Bell has helped to organize a reunion of former youth ministers and participants in the music and other youth programs in the church. Must of us are now almost eligible for the Young at Heart program! At any rate, since something is already scheduled for the church for this Saturday, a get together is planned for 5:30 p.m. at Clancy's Cafe in Red Banks. Milton said Ralph and Jean Thomason of Southaven are planning to attend, as are Howard and Linda Fuller. Lyndia lived with our family for a couple of months after Howard moved to wherever (St. Louis?) so she could finish some coursework at Ole Miss before she moved to join him. I'm planning to attend and look forward to seeing all of them. Bring the kids. For a few, bring the grandkids! For more information call Milton at 662-306-3736.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

As usual, has best debate coverage says Obama won the Oct. 16, 2012 Town Hall debate by a nose. I wish we had this type of news coverage on the major networks!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Donate to Oxford United Way, earn Delta Skymiles; give to Komen, get AA miles

    If you are thinking about giving to the United Way of Oxford-Lafayette County, Delta Airlines is making your decision a little easier.
    SkyMiles members who donate to their local United Way online between October 11 and  November 11, 2012 will earn a one-time bonus of 1,000 miles for a donation of $50-124; 2,500 miles for a donation of $125-299; or up to a maximum 5,000 miles for a donation of $300 or more.  To get the Skymiles, you need to use a special web portal, found here. Of course, you are free to donate more than $300, but you won't get any extra Skymiles.
    To maximize Skymiles earnings you need to give either $50 or $125.
    I don't think the United Way is losing anything on this deal; Delta is just donating the miles. At one time I valued Skymiles at two cents each, so by that formula the 1,000 miles one receives from a $50 donation would be worth $20. My guess is that they are now worth closer to 1.5 cents each, making the miles worth $15 -- although in an emergency they can sometimes be worth more than a nickle each. The cost to buy 1,000 miles from Delta would be $35.
    In any event, by my calculation this is a way for me to give $50 to my local United Way while receiving a $15 rebate. Everybody wins!

    Now that you're feeling charitable and have helped out the local United Way, I'll tell you about another deal that in my opinion is just as good if not better. American Airlines has a Miles for the Cure promotion in which it is offering 15 miles for every dollar donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, up to a maximum of 60,000 miles.
    So the $50 donation that earns 1,000 Delta Skymiles will only earn 750 AAdvantage Miles. But AA miles are far more valuable than Delta miles. And while Delta miles never expire, AA miles do, so it's a good idea to "poke" your inactive AA account from time to time with miles earn from car rentals, hotel stays or charitable donations.
    And the AAdvantage miles rebate can be pretty rich. A $3,000 gift to Komen will generate 50,000 miles, which is enough for two off-peak tickets to the Caribbean, and unlike the case with Delta, with American you can sometimes actually book an award ticket. In the past the IRS has treated airline miles as de minimis, however I am not offering advice, just making an observation.

    Some of you are upset. I can sense it. You wanted to donate more but Komen gifts are effectively capped at $3,600 and 60,000 AA miles. Be of good heart as there is still hope!
    You can earn even more American miles for donations to the National Foundation for Cancer Research, and we are not talking chicken feed. Your donation of $66,667 will earn you One Million chilly-willy AAdvantage miles. Lesser donations earn fewer miles. Where can you go with a million miles? Anywhere you want. Repeatedly.

    Anyone wishing to make a donations in my honor (and to benefit my frequent flyer account) should feel free to do so!.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Presidential debate meets Autotune

What happens when the first presidential debate meets Autotune? See for yourself!

Hold your horses! Radisson offers one free night certificate for one paid night, must book by Oct. 31

    Okay, I said in my previous post I had only one word for travel and that word was Marriott. Well, add one more word to that list for one stay: Radisson.
    Club Carlson is offering a 1-for-1 offer for stays at Radisson hotels booked by Oct. 31 and completed by Dec. 31. The free night can be used at any Radisson or Radisson Blu in the United States, Canada or the Caribbean and expires after one year. So before you start booking those Marriott stays you do need to book one night at a Radisson!
    You must be a Club Carlson member. To sign up for this promotion click here.
    Club Carlson has been offering some pretty good promotions. Earlier this year they offered 50,000 points for a single stay at Country Inn & Suites and another 50,000 points for a single stay at any Radisson.  50,000 points is enough for a free night at virtually any Radisson in the world, and is worth anywhere from $200 to as much as $500, depending on where you decide to land. Jinny and I both took advantage of this offer, and I took advantage of another offer for 25,000 points. So for very little spend we have roughly 250,000 Club Carlson points between us. Hopefully we'll both be able to take advantage of this most-recent offer so that we'll have an embarrassment of Club Carlson riches.
    One of the reasons hotel chains offer these deals is to try to reel in new customers. To earn her bonus Jinny stayed at the New Orleans Country Inn & Suites on Magazine Street, which is really more of a boutique hotel than a run-of-the-mill Country Inn, and I think it is her favorite New Orleans hotel. She may be a Hilton Diamond and  Marriott Silver, but this is where she would rather stay in New Orleans. It's frequently booked, though.
    I would describe most of the other Country Inn & Suites as a notch above a Hampton Inn and a notch below a Hilton Garden Inn. I like them.

    Be aware that Country Inn & Suites is offering a free-night certificate for two-night stays Oct. 1 through Nov. 29. To book this click on the "Packages" tab when booking Sunday-Thursday stays. The certificates don't have a long shelf life though; they are only good Dec. 15, 2012 through Feb. 15, 2013, and you apparently have to register for the certificate after your stay. So all in all this offer isn't anywhere as good as the Marriott MegaBonus, but still worth a look for those who know they will get all their MegaBonus free nights.

    If you are going to take advantage of these Club Carlson offers, you might as well sign up for some extra bonus points. Click here to sign up for a bonus of up to 6,000 points per night for stays through Dec. 31.

    Jinny has requalified for HHonors Diamond for this year, and certainly there are some great benefits to the HHonors program for elites. But when it comes to bonuses -- things offered above and beyond the regular point earnings -- HHonors sometimes comes up short. For the Fourth Quarter HHonors is offering 1,000 bonus points per night; it takes 50,000 points to get a top Hilton room.
    A quick comparison of some various bonus offerings:
Radisson: Stay one night, get one free night certificate, maximum of one.
Marriott: Megabonus, stay twice, get free night certificate, Cat 1-4, maximum of three.
Country Inn & Suites: Complete a two-night stay Sunday through Thursday, get quick expiration free night certificate (plus earn generous bonus points!).
 Hilton: Stay 50 nights, get enough points for one night at a top Hilton.
    Needless to say, Hilton is at the bottom of Jinny's list until next year.