Friday, March 30, 2012

Ruby Chinese is alive and well, says Google

    I took the screen shot of this map of eastern Oxford near the new high school from Google Maps recently.
    If you look at the intersection of Webb and Murray streets, just northeast of Avent Park, you'll see a marker for Ruby Chinese restaurant. All these years we though it was closed. Turns out they only moved!
    Can't wait to dine there again, although I can't figure out why they located in a residential neighborhood.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Call Kroger at 866-245-1858 for your Angus beef refunds!

    If you shop at Kroger chances are there is some free money waiting for you. All you have to do is make a call.
    My old Daily Mississippian friend Julie Evers Crump posted on Facebook about the fact that Kroger is giving refunds to people who purchased "Angus" beef in its stores over the past 18 months. Apparently the stores occasionally sold non-Angus beef at the higher Angus price and is now issuing refunds.
    Julie said she knew people who had gotten as little as $2 and as much as $300. I got $77.99 which will feed my family for the better part of the week if we are careful. I think this roughly represents the difference in price between Angus and regular choice beef.
    I had gotten a phone message from Kroger telling about the refunds but had just neglected to call. I told my cousin about my good fortune and he said he had gotten the call but hadn't bothered to call Kroger, either. I have no idea what the deadline is on this, but I wouldn't delay calling too long!
    For what it's worth, my best recollection is that I usually buy Angus beef off the deep-discount, about-to-go-bad rack. It's the only way we can eat beef in our house! I figured I wouldn't get any refund for this deeply discounted beef. But judging from the size of my refund, I'm guessing Kroger credited these discount purchases.
    The number to call is 1-866-245-1858. The woman I talked to was just as nice as could be. The money was credited to my Kroger card and will be subtracted next time I shop.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Saturday walk around Jackson

    I took Lucy to Jackson Saturday to observe a twirl competition. Her twirl teacher, Emily Wicks, was named Miss Majorette of Mississippi and will compete nationally. Emily is an Ole Miss student and twirls during football halftimes as well as other events.
    The competition was held at the First Baptist Church activities building, so Ash and I went looking for lunch. First stop on the way was the state capitol, across the street from the Baptist Church.
Ash: What do they do there?
Me: That's where they meet every year to pass new laws.
Ash: What if we don't need any new laws?
Me: [No intelligent response].
    I had forgotten about the large statue in front of the Capitol, placed by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and paying tribute to Mothers, Daughters and Sisters while being festooned liberally with Confederate flags. Momma and the Rebel flag, what more is there in life?
    My plan had been to take Ash to the Mayflower for lunch, but it was closed so we went elsewhere. I also was going to take Ash into the lobby of the Gen. Walthall Hotel to see if they had his portrait in the lobby. It appears to be out of business.
    I have to say all in all I found downtown Jackson to be a pretty attractive place, and not the mound of decay that some have described. We'll return next year, and Lucy will actually take part in the twirl competition instead of just watching.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Trayvon Martin case calls for a full investigation into both parties' backgrounds, not a lynching

    I don't think any of us will ever know all the facts about the Trayvon Martin case, but the race pimps are out for blood. Martin was black and Zimmerman is a Hispanic mestizo who is being referred to as white in order to promote a sense of racial grievance.
    The Baltimore Sun has a story today about how Trayvon's killer, George Zimmerman, apparently took a good beating before using his gun. Certainly it's starting to appear that Zimmerman "disrespected" Martin by stopping to question him and that after Zimmerman started to return to his truck Martin gave him a little payback.
    The picture that has been given to the public is that of Trayvon Martin as a 10- or 12-year-old -- literally. The family didn't dare release to the public photos such as the one above which show Martin with gold teeth, or the photos from his MySpace site showing him festooned with tattoos (who allows these permanent modifications on a child?). Likewise, the oft-seen photo of Zimmerman is from a 2005 arrest on charges from which he was found "not guilty." Today he is the much slimmer and wimpier looking guy pictured above. Martin was 6'3" while Zimmerman is 5'9". I know which of the two I would bet on in a street fight.
    The character of both Zimmerman and Martin are the subject of legitimate investigation. Martin was in Sanford with his father because he had been suspended from school for 10 days. The family first said it was for five days and was for being "tardy." When this lie didn't wash they said it was for being in some place he wasn't supposed to be. A 10-day suspension is a pretty big deal, and the public has a right to know what it was for. Likewise, one of Martin's friends posted something on his Twitter account about him taking a swing at a bus driver. Although the account has now been scrubbed, the public has a right to know about this. I think we all can agree that someone who would take a swing at a bus driver is an extremely violent individual.
    As awful as the death of Trayvon Martin is, it doesn't hold a candle to the brutal burning of a white 13-year-old that occurred just a few days later. This child was almost home when two 16-year-old black teens started following him. They followed him onto his porch and doused him with gasoline, and lit it while one said, "This is what you deserve. You get what you deserve, white boy." No doubt about this being a hate crime, but society's response has been a giant yawn.
    It's no secret that there are far more blacks who commit hate and other violent crimes against whites than the other way around. Nobody cares about these crimes. The white boy who was set on fire doesn't look like Obama's son might look, so he says nothing. Certainly there needs to be a full investigation into the events surrounding Trayvon Martin's death, but the need is for an investigation, not a lynching.
    As a child of 11 I took a small thrashing for daring to attempt to deliver newspapers in a black neighborhood. I had been warned by these kids that they didn't want any whites in their neighborhood and I ignored the warning. In the end I had only bloodied knees and gravel burns, plus terribly wounded pride. But I still remember thinking, as I peddled my bike towards home, that if what had happened to me had happened to a black child in a white neighborhood, "every TV station in Memphis would be down here." And they would have been.
    Nobody needs to tell me about racial discrimination. I know all about it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Syria's civil war is theirs alone; they are acting just as the U.S. would, and has before

    I always thought the official opinion of the United States was that it was perfectly acceptable to crush a rebellion through massive military force.
    For example, when the Southern states voted to exercise their right of self-determination, our dear Northern friends came down and killed a quarter- to half-a-million of us. Then they burned everyone's houses, killed their livestock, stole anything they could and turned the South into a permanent colony of the North. No hard feelings of course -- just a detail of history.
    But now, to justify interfering in the Arab world our leaders have taken the opinion that governments don't have the right to maintain order. In Libya, we ordered Gaddafi to just leave anyone who wanted to run riot alone. When terrorist rabble attacked his troops he refused do allow it, so Obama had his family murdered, then hunted him down and had him sodomized and killed. (Please, please, please, don't let me hear another Democrat talk about George Bush "war crimes" so long as this modern-day Jack the Ripper remains in the White House.)
    Now we're after Syria. It seems that when citizens who are unhappy with the government have fired guns at soldiers the soldiers acted with poor form in firing back. What an outrage! Everyone knows these government soldiers should simply allow themselves to be killed in the name of serving NATO.
    What's going on in the Middle East? I think it's fair to say there is some civil unrest. And civil unrest is dealt with in one way and one way only: the government gets guns or tanks, points them at those causing unrest and says "stop or we'll shoot." In Syria the protesters aren't stopping and so the government is shooting.
    When civil unrest gets bad enough, it's called a civil war. Perhaps Syria has reached this point. One thing you don't do in a war is stop shooting until the other side has surrendered. We hear a lot of quack-quack-quack about how the Syrian army is shelling a couple of cities that have harbored rebels. The fact is that these cities chose to harbor rebels and are now suffering the consequences. Essentially they asked to be shelled and the Syrian government is obliging them.
    We shouldn't be taking sides in a sectarian war. The president of Syria is an Alawite, a group that makes up about 15 percent of the population. In the Middle East there are numerous semi-secret religions, the Alawi being one of them. One hundred years ago they could be described as half-Christian, half-Shia. In recent years they have moved from Christianity towards Islam. It's hard to say for sure, since they have few or no written texts, or none they care to share. Because of their minority status, Alawites have opposed Muslim extremists, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, which they see as a threat to themselves and to Syria's Christians.
    Syria has been aligned in recent years with Iran. We don't like Iran. Saudi Arabia and Eygpt don't like Iran, either, because Iran is Shiite and Saudi Arabia and Egypt are Sunni. So nothing would suit the Saudis more than to foment turmoil in Syria; and since we as Americans do what our Saudi masters tell us to do, we're pushing to overthrow the Syrian government, too.
    In fact, Saudi Arabia has made no secret of the fact that it is arming those who are attempting to topple the Syrian government and replace it with a radical Islamic regime. I certainly believe that the United States has had a heavy hand in creating all of the Mid-East unrest of the past several years.
    Is there any doubt what would happen if a person or group of people took up weapons and started shooting at the White House with the stated intent of overthrowing the government? I can assure you the president would not simply hand over the government. These people would be arrested if they could be easily arrested, if not they would be shot dead. And don't give me any of this nonsense about our government not killing civilians. Ever hear of Waco? Ruby Ridge? The innocent Serbian journalists murder by Wesley Clark? Muammar Gaddafi's grandchildren?
    In other words the Syrian government is acting exactly as our government would act if faced with people trying to overthrow it with force of arms.
    Every civil war ends, and when it does the people who win are heroes and those who lose are goons and traitors. I don't know which side will win in Syria, and as long as the United States doesn't get involved I don't care. It's time to resurrect the Monroe Doctrine and limit ourselves to the Americas and let Europe and the Mid-East handle their own war. It's their war and I'm willing to let them fight it.
    What's really going on is that the money interests in the U.S. are trying hard to start a regional war in the Mid-East. Saudi Arabia is apparently convinced that this war will serve its interests, as it has been doing everything it can to destabilize its neighbors.
    I said a long time ago I thought we might intentionally be trying to disrupt the Mid-East in order to hurt China, as China depends far more than we do on the Mid-East for oil. In some ways this is a brilliant cold-war-type military strategy.
    But we don't need to be doing this. The regional war we are trying to start will not serve America's long-term interests. Should we feel the need to step in and "crush" Syria and attack Iran, we will win at some cost, but we are likely to find out what terrorism really is.
    When it comes to foreign policy, don't kid yourself about Obama being better than Bush. In my opinion he is far worse. But at best it's the same people calling the shots. Everybody wants war, nobody wants peace, and our future is bleak. The good news is that Russia just stationed some peacekeepers in Syria; unlike NATO, Russia might actually bring peace.
    Just be aware of that when you hear news stories from Syria or Iran that are upsetting and make you want to commit American troops to solve the problem that you've been played. Somebody's pulling your strings and you, like many others, are playing the part of a puppet.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Defense secretary afraid to address his own troops

    Apparently never before in the history of our country have our soldiers been stripped of their weapons when being addressed by the secretary of defense. There's a first time for everything.
    Today Leon Panetta ordered the troops disarmed before he would address them. The official line is that he wanted them to be unarmed just like their Afghan "brothers." The real reason is that he was afraid he might be fragged -- you know, shot by his own troops.
    It's a sad day. I just wonder how many military ballots will make it into the box this November. I'm sure the administration will do everything it can to make sure they don't make it back home. I will concede that a few black military men may vote for Obama just because he's black, much as Colin Powell did. But overall, does anyone really think this man is going to get any military vote at all?
    A secretary of defense too afraid to address his own troops. All things considered, I suppose he ought to be.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Convenience stores could give out free condoms if only the Catholics would pay for it

    A Detroit man was shot recently by the manager of a convenience store in a dispute over the price of condoms. Prior to being shot the customer was complaining about the price being too high and started tearing up the store.
    Why are we depriving convenience store customers of their fundamental rights by forcing them to pay for condoms? They have a fundamental right to receive these for free!
    Admittedly the government can't afford to pay for everyone, so I have a suggestion. Let's require the Catholic Church to pay for it! They have plenty of money and could simply be required to send free condoms to America's convenience stores so that the stores could provide them at no charge to their customers.
    Okay, so there's a little problem of freedom of religion here since the Catholics are technically against artificial birth control, but don't worry. We can get around it. In order to respect the rights of the Catholic Church, it won't have to buy and distribute the condoms directly. Instead, anyone doing business with the Catholic Church will just be required to supply, at no charge to anyone, free condoms by the crate to anyone requesting them. Think about it, free condoms and no one even has to pay the bill!
    Of course, businesses may be reluctant to do business with the Catholic Church if they know that doing so will obligate them to provide free crates of condoms to all of America's convenience stores. But hey, that's the church's problem.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

In Greece, the only safe bank is a mattress

    In reviewing the goings-on in Greece, I can't help but wonder how a single bank in the country has more then fifteen cents in deposits.
    In all likelihood Greece is still going to default on its debts. All of the machinations of recent months haven't been about helping the Greeks, who are unsalvageable, but rather to give the banks in France and Germany time to prepare for a total loss of their bond holdings.
    The sooner Greece leaves the Euro, the better. Once back on the Drachma they can devalue it until it is impossible for citizens to import any more foreign goods. Then people will flock to Greece because it’s a cheap tourist destination and Greece will be on the slow road to recovery.
    But just as Greece’s bondholders have been expected to take a 75 percent “haircut,” so will ordinary Greek bank depositors. Some morning when they least expect it, their Euro-denominated accounts will be converted to Drachmas at an inflated rate, at which point the Drachma will drop like a stone. Anyone foolish enough to keep money on deposit with a Greek bank will soon lose most of their savings.
    Greeks who have sense enough to stuff their Euros in their mattresses – or in foreign accounts – will come out of the impending default like Daddy Warbucks. They’ll have plenty of hard currency in a nation where many of their neighbors’ savings have simply evaporated overnight.
    Their foresight may not make them popular, but they'll keep eating.

Monday, March 5, 2012

On energy and other policies, conservatives and liberals can find common ground. In fact, we must!

    I had a Facebook argument with a friend recently about energy policy and other things. Not a bad one, really more of a back-and-forth. He’s a liberal.
    Now when you say this you have to say it by stretching out the first syllable. Think back to how in the old days some old county official might have referred to the black guy out there carrying a sign for voter rights. He wasn’t merely a “troublemaker.” He was a “trou-----ble maker.” Well, my friend is a li------beral.
    But for all our differences there is within my conservatism quite a bit of populism. His realism is grounded, just barely in my view, in realism.
    There are some issues I don’t think we can ever agree on. He's liberal! He's terribly concerned about global warming. I’m not. If it does exist I think it benefits North America greatly. Bring it on. If I’m wrong, I’ll move to Canada. If I’m really wrong, our world is able to send a few billion bits of tinfoil confetti into the atmosphere.
    But despite our disagreements, there are things we can agree on. In the end we both want average Americans to have better lives. As far as energy policy is concerned, I am a supporter of “drill-baby-drill,” but I support it not so we can enjoy $2-a-gallon gasoline, but so we can be a self-sufficient nation. High-priced gasoline doesn’t bother me if it means we can wean ourselves from foreign oil. What I’m saying is I’d love to see gasoline prices that are really low and gasoline taxes that are – grab your seats boys – really high.
    Do we have to slap these taxes on tomorrow? Nope. Many people said Obama should have announced a 50-cent gas tax to go into effect in 2011 as soon as he was elected. Had he done so actual gas prices might be lower today – the threat of the tax would have encouraged better energy choices. But the point is that if we have to raise revenue, we need to do it through taxes. I support a $2 a gallon gas tax, imposed over eight years, 25 cents a year. If we have to tax things, there is no better way to raise revenue than to discourage those things which have hidden costs for our society, c.f. The Tragedy of the Commons.
    If we can come to an agreement with our liberal friends about the need to conserve energy, perhaps we can get them to agree that we need to develop the resources that we have – because they are substantial. If we really learn to conserve energy and then develop our oil resources in the arctic wasteland, offshore, with shale and ethanol, America can be a net exporter of oil. Think about it – we can live like Saudi sheiks! Because of our decision to debase the dollar we are going to need something to export in the future. With oil at $250 a barrel, which it soon will be, having a surplus will benefit the economy.
    There’s more to a comprehensive energy policy than simply conserving energy, drilling for oil and taxing gas. I’ll address some of these in a future post, perhaps sooner rather than later.
    I sometimes feel like we’re in a world where only a few dozen people are looking at our nation’s policies and asking, “What are we doing here? What are we trying to accomplish?” Please accept my invitation to join the club, if you aren’t already a member!
As for my li-----beral friend? He asks the same questions I ask and often comes to different conclusions. That’s okay. But on those occasions when the two of us agree? Well, we cannot possibly be wrong!
    So to my liberal friend I say and ask this. On the conservation end I'm willing to support measures that are far more draconian than those proposed by most. Now we come to production. I want us to be not just self-sufficient, but an oil exporter. What are you willing to support?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The cobbler has no shoes (or HHonors points)

    Late last year I reported on the Hilton HHonors First Quarter Promotion, simply entitled More Points. It offers a bonus of 1,000 HHonors points per night.
    I get an especial thrill out of earning the maximum amount of airline and hotel points and Jinny doesn't want to fool with it, so that makes me the official Pointmeister of the Col. Reb household. I thought I had signed her up for the Hilton special, I really did!
    Apparently I didn't. I didn't see any bonus points posting in her account so I went to the sign up screen and put her name in, and instead of telling me she was already signed up it thanked me for registering. I checked her email, and there was no sign of my having signed up back in early January.
    I did sign Jinny up for a Delta Airlines bonus that gives her 2,012 HHonors points for every two night stay if she chooses Delta as her Double-Dip partner. At present she has one 2,012-point award, but there may be another waiting in the wings that hasn't posted yet.
    But thanks to my malfeasance, misfeasance, nonfeasance or just plain stupidity, Jinny has missed out on roughly 12,000 HHonors points. That's 33-40 percent of a Paris-London-New York hotel room. Calculate the value of the room at $350, which is really on the low side, and my failure to get her signed up has cost our family $140 or more in quasi-luxury hotel value.
    What's done is done. In all honesty I remember signing her up; perhaps it was so soon the sign-up wasn't registering people properly. Learn from my mistake and treat good offers like voting. Sign up early and often.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Poor, pitiful, Georgetown coeds can pay $65,000 a year on school, but can't afford birth control

    Much has been made about Rush Limbaugh's rather crude comments toward Georgetown Law School student Sandra Fluke, who he called a "slut" on his radio program. While I think Rush went a bit overboard, as he often does, Fluke's basic dishonesty certainly is designed to bring out the worst in people.
    Fluke, if you will remember, wanted to testify before Congress about the plight of poor Georgetown law students who couldn't afford birth control because the university wouldn't supply it to them for free through its health plan. In particular she cited the case of a classmate who needed hormonal birth control not to prevent pregnancy, as the friend is a lesbian, but to prevent ovarian cysts. Even though entitled, her classmate was unable to get her prescription filled and thus suffered a serious cyst. Therefore, Fluke argued, all women should get free birth control.
    I suppose it never occurred to Fluke to seek a law addressing her classmate's problem. In short, any insurer refusing to cover a hormonal birth control prescription that is given for other purposes would be subject to civil or criminal penalties. It's that simple; problem solved.
    But that's not enough for Fluke. She insists that all the other poor, underprivileged Georgetown girls who want to have birth control need it for free, too. If the insurance company isn't forced to give it to them for free, there's just no way they will ever be able to afford it.
    Tuition for one semester at Georgetown is almost $24,000, or $48,000 per year. Add $17,000 per year in living expenses and these girls have at least $65,000 to spend on going to one of the most elite law schools in the nation. I'm sure most of the rest of us spent far less on our schools.
    Of course, when these girls graduate they will have it made. The average private sector starting salary for a Georgetown Law grad is $160,000 per year.
    I think it's a great idea to use birth control while enjoying the gigantic sex orgy known as "Georgetown Law." But I find it outrageous that these overprivileged, oversexed coeds expect America's working men and women to pick up the tab for their extracurricular activities.
    Limbaugh's comment's were outrageous, but not nearly as outrageous as those of Fluke. These Georgetown women need to buy their own birth control. If they can afford $65,000 on college, they can afford $10 or so a month to avoid pregnancy.

Catholic church brouhaha shows need for Obamacare repeal

    If you ever needed proof of the need to repeal Obamacare, look no further than the brouhaha over whether or not the Catholic church should be forced to offer birth control in its insurance plans.
    For the record, I support birth control. Although I don't believe making it more available wouldn't do much to reduce the illegitimacy rate, on the off chance that it would I am more than willing to support government programs to hand out free birth control through every health department in America.
    What I don't support is any plan that would force a church that is opposed to artificial birth control to purchase it, even if I think that church is wrong. In fact, I'm opposed to forcing anyone to purchase birth control or anything else. Obamacare doesn't allow for the slightest deviation from government mandate. Apparently everyone must now be cookie-cutter alike.
    The problem with our insurance companies and our government is that our government believes that the insurance companies exist in a Harry Potter land, where goods and services can be provided at no cost through the magic incantation of government edict. If the Catholic church doesn't want to pay for insurance, no problem. The government will simply require that anyone insured through the Catholic church be able to apply to the insurance company for birth control, which will then be provided to them absolutely free of charge.
    Since it's so easy, why doesn't Obama just order the insurance companies to offer all medicines for free? For that matter, why not require them to provide free houses to everyone and solve the homeless problem? Does anyone doubt that when the Catholic Church goes out to buy insurance that the insurance companies won't price in the cost of providing this "free" insurance? What a load of baloney!
    You see, each time the government makes demands on insurers, premiums have to go up. Want the insurers to be required to provide more mental health care? Okay, done. Your premiums have now gone up. Want your adult children to be on your policy (more likely if they are sickly, of course)? Okay, done. Your premiums have now gone up. Free birth control, higher premiums. More mandates, higher premiums. Want mandated coverage for pre-existing conditions? Okay, your premiums have just skyrocketed to Pluto and the quality of your insurance has gone to hell.
    Obamacare mandates health coverage. But employers who don't provide it will pay a small fine. Because of government interference, it will be much cheaper to pay the fine than to provide the ever-more-expensive insurance. Eventually everyone is going to be forced into a government "exchange," which is exactly what the socialists want. And the cost or tax on average Americans is going to get higher and higher even as our insurance coverage gets crappier and crappier.
    I happen to believe we need a system that will provide bare-bones health services to every American at no charge. To some degree this is already happening in an inefficient manner. But we ought to be able, as a society, to care for those most in need without tampering with the traditional relationship between employers and their employees, and insurers and their insured. We need room in our health care system for luxury plans, bare-bones plans, partial self-insurance plans and plans that don't cover birth control (or penicillin, or doctors whose names begin with a "Y," or anything else I'd like to exclude).
    What's at stake here is whether we will continue to live as a free and independent people, able to choose how we live our lives, or whether we will be herded along by the Democrats as socialist sheeple.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Ash's ACT score says he's ready for college (but don't tell him)

    Everybody has the right to brag on their children. Ash gave me permission to brag on him.
    He took the ACT test a few weeks ago as part of the Duke TIP program. We didn't do the full regimen of practice tests that I suggested we might do back in September.
    He did take a few practice sections, but never finished a full ACT practice test. He scored a 28 on the reading in the practice test, versus a 22 on the real test. He made a 21 on the English on the practice test but pulled out a 25 on the real thing. Good thing, too, as Lucy made a 25 on the English practice test and was giving him grief.
    He ended up making a 24 composite, which is a score a lot of high school students would be glad to have. I'm not so much surprised by the score as I am by the distribution; I expected the reading to be higher and the science to be lower. But you take it as you get it!
    Too bad Duke TIP isn't offered in eighth grade. It will be three or four years before Ash takes the ACT again. If he can improve by two points per year, he'll do just fine!

As always, you can click on the photo for a better view.