Today is day 284 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Day 284 with no end in sight and a reported 13,000 Ukrainian soldiers have lost their lives. The Russians have set a precedent that follows the path of other dictators and their never-ending objective of dominance. Disturbing to say the least.
We looked in awe at the B-2 Stealth Bomber when it was unveiled many years ago. Now the United States Air Force, at a cost of $750 million each, has introduced the B-21, an upgraded version of the B-2 that can deliver both conventional and nuclear weapons around the world using long-range and mid-air refueling capabilities. An aircraft we hope is never put to use.
The four-day work week has become en vogue. Four days at ten hours-a-day seems a bit strange as the majority of the workforce seems to want less work hours, but with more pay.
Puzzling: DoorDash cut 1,250 of their corporate staff last Wednesday. I assume that DoorDash will continue its business operations as normal. If they can lose 1,250 employees in one cut, what were those 1,250 employees doing in the first place?
The flu season is here with many of my friends and family dealing with what to do next to feel better. Maybe we should revert to the family of Sebastian Maniscalco and their way of handling illness?
Parents, especially fathers (and grandfathers), are usually very protective of our kids, especially our daughters. After posting about my granddaughter and her escapades at her school, I remembered this eye-opening scene from Den of Thieves a few years ago. Yes, the writers and 50 Cent carry this too far, or do they? Note: there is strong/adult language in this video.
Along with most of us, I am a big supporter of first responders. Often taken for granted, first responders put their lives and health on the line every day to help and assist with emergencies, criminal activity, and the sick and wounded. On Thursday of last week, the union representing 15,000 Minnesota nurses announced that their health care workers will strike for the second time this year. Listing a number of unfair labor practices, with their number one issue being staffing shortages, the nurses have simply had enough. Timing is obviously a big concern for hospitals and other care facilities, with all of them dealing with a RSV surge, the flu season, and continued Covid cases. A very tough situation that could turn into a sad situation for many.
At times we think that Covid and its variants are under control – and then we read about China and the high levels of contraction in that massive country. It is all happening again in the U.S. as California is reaching medium levels of Covid infections and is considering an indoor mask mandate again. Please, no.
What a fantastic run for the USA in the World Cup. The second youngest team in the tournament made us proud.
Speaking of soccer, the world awaits the fate of Pele, who is now in a hospice facility in Brazil. The Brazilian showed the rest of the world that there was a path to greatness on and off the field. I do not need to list all the competitive accomplishments of Pele…you will be seeing and listening to a great deal of tributes to this man. His level of celebrity was bar none, even to the point that in 1967, his presence with his club team playing in Nigeria stopped a civil war. Prayers to Pele.
The Headline of the Week: New York City to pay more than six figures for ‘Rat Pack’ leader with a ‘killer instinct’. Just another new hire in NYC, with this new position paying the Director of Rodent Mitigation $170,000 annually. Any questions?
A very happy half-century birthday to C.A. I am sure last night’s celebration will continue for a few days!
Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a Funday Sunday.
GAAP Accounting Principles? Blood Fraud. The First In A Series Of Missions. We Really Do Not Care. A Dry World Cup. It Is Not All Things Turkey. The All Blacks Doing Their Thing.
“Never in my career have I seen such a complete failure of corporate controls and such a complete absence of trustworthy financial information as occurred here,” Ray said. “From compromised systems integrity and faulty regulatory oversight abroad, to the concentration of control in the hands of a very small group of inexperienced, unsophisticated and potentially compromised individuals, this situation is unprecedented.” This is not a statement about Enron or Worldcom, famous for their downfalls due to accounting scandals, but from John Ray III, the newly appointed CEO of FTX. FTX, a cryptocurrency exchange, once valued at $32 billion, collapsed in a matter of days last week amid a liquidity crunch and allegations that it was misusing customer funds. Ray, who oversaw the Enron bankruptcy, said “he had never seen such a complete failure of corporate controls.” Does anyone want to chime in on the lack of oversight in the cryptocurrency world?
Regarding the world of fraudulent activity: She was once the young heartthrob of Silicon Valley, dropping out of Stanford University to start Theranos in 2003…at the ripe old age of 19. A long story short, her med-tech entity, a blood testing company, was rife with fraud and the misleading of investors. There is a movie about Elizabeth Holmes, and she will now be watching that docudrama within the confines of prison, being sentenced to eleven years. Justice well served.
The Artemis 1 mission, delayed with a leaking valve and hurricane issues, finally did launch last Wednesday morning at around 1am. This was the first launch in a series of missions to build a sustainable, long-term human presence on the moon. Yes, a “human presence.” This first mission lays the groundwork for the future Artemis endeavors, to specifically ensure a safe re-entry, descent, splashdown, and recovery. The crewed Artemis 2 launch will take place in 2024, the Artemis 3 crewed lunar landing in 2025, and then the Artemis 4, which will dock with the Lunar Gateway in 2027. The Lunar Gateway will be an outpost orbiting the Moon that provides vital support for a sustainable, long-term human return to the lunar surface. This does not seem plausible but neither did the first moon landing on July 20, 1969.
Headline of the Week: Jenna Bush Hager Admits She Never Wears Underwear… “I think it makes a more pretty silhouette!” 1. Who cares? 2. TMI 3. Get over yourself. 4. I am sure that your father, a two-term President of the United States, is very proud.
The first game of the World Cup starts this morning at 11am EST – between the host country Qatar and Ecuador. We will leave alone how and why this once every four-year event is taking place on this peninsula that is smaller than Connecticut, but we will note that over 1.5 million fans will visit this country over the month-long tournament. I sincerely hope that this tournament goes without serious incidents – but adding an additional 1.5 million visitors to the mix raises a number of questions in my mind. Speaking of questions, Budweiser is a prominent sponsor of the World Cup, and they have many questions after the decision that no alcohol will be sold at the eight stadiums which will host the tournament’s 64 matches. Talking about awkwardness? A World Cup and no beer sales.
The Thanksgiving holiday is like no other. Never mind that I am not a fan of turkey, the Thanksgiving holiday, whether with a group of family and friends or solo, is a time to reflect on the thankful things. No matter your surroundings, enjoy Thanksgiving for what it is meant to be: A day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year. At whatever level, enjoy.
Speaking of tradition, the haka is a ceremonial war dance. The haka is a representation of a tribe’s pride, strength, and unity. New Zealand’s national rugby team, the All Blacks, perform the haka before each of their matches in what I feel is a stunning show of power and strength. In this match, England, their opponent, assumed the strategic “arrow” formation in opposition to the All Blacks performing their haka. The chant and words of the haka date back to 1820, and you only have to watch this once to understand the All Blacks focus and intensity.
Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a Funday Sunday!
The West and East Coasts 43 Days Apart. A Few Random Thoughts.
I do not necessarily agree with the cliche: ‘It could have been worse.’ The Fall storms that have caused massive damage to both coasts of Florida will affect the lives of many people in the state and the region. The residents and business owners in the Gulf towns of Naples and Ft. Myers, as well as their barrier islands, will be recovering from Hurricane Ian for a long time. Just forty-three days later, Hurricane Nicole, the latest storm to hit Florida in forty years, pummeled east coast towns from Melbourne to Flagler Beach, leaving beachfront homes wrecked and flooded. My only hope is that when the rebuilding begins, distinct levels of code and construction are instituted to help prevent some of the wind, water, and beach erosion issues we witnessed over a month ago and again last Thursday. It will be a lengthy battle for some to figure out what to do with their homes and businesses, and we can only wish all of them the best of everything. This video is difficult to watch.
Short Takes For mid-November
Any guess what Elon Musk will do with Twitter? He obviously has a strategy in mind after spending somewhere in the neighborhood of $44 billion to acquire the social media platform. Maybe Musk has reviewed Mastodon, a free and open-source software for running self-hosted social networking services Mastodon is gaining widespread popularity so maybe Musk, facing many issues with his newly acquired business, will change Twitter once and for all.
Seinfeld on Thursday nights. Never to be replicated, the writing by Larry David and the cast of characters was amazing. I do not think I watched every episode, but I do remember this one with Seinfeld handling a cold-caller, George and his date, Susan, and Kramer just doing Kramer.
Have you ever watched an eight-year veteran NFL quarterback play like a rookie? Last Thursday night’s puzzling performance by the Atlanta Falcons’ Marcus Mariota must have head coach Arthur Smith wondering if he should start rookie Desmond Ridder. The Falcons have other issues with their team, but Mariota’s decision-making in last week’s Thursday night game against Carolina was head-scratching to say the least.
After I questioned the Fed about their four successive 0.75% rate hikes, the Consumer Price Index actually beat forecasts for the month of October. Something has to give as we do not want the U.S. to follow suit with what is happening in Great Britain. Britons are currently experiencing a severe cost-of-living crisis, with decades-high inflation and a jump in energy prices caused by the Russian war on Ukraine. Let us not get to that point, Mr. Powell.
Most have us have experienced the baggage check-in scenario where your bag is a bit over the weight allowance, as well as our top-performing TSA agents around the country. Comedian Sebastian Maniscalco never explained it better.
After reading this headline it is obvious the world of online gaming has not resonated with my intellect or reasoning: Oculus Rift Creator Designs Frightening VR Set That Kills You for Real if You Die in a Video Game. Say what?
The World Cup opening match between host country Qatar and Ecuador is next Sunday. Over the last two weeks, the thirty-two countries participating in the World Cup have been revealing the twenty-six players who have made their final roster. Some countries do their “reveal” with big presentations, but this reveal by Uruguay is excellent and quite creative. The U.S. is grouped with Wales, England, and Iran, with their first game a week from tomorrow against Wales. By my account, this match is a must win in order for the Americans to get out of their group.
Russia’s Vladimir Putin with the most ‘master of the obvious (MOTO)’ statement ever: “I will not attend the G20 Summit in Indonesia due to assassination fears.” Oh, come on Vladimir, show yourself to the world. 🙂 I am sure that the UASOF, Utti Jaeger Regiment, The Jaeger Corps, JW GROM, and Mossad would enjoy meeting you face-to-face (these are special forces units from Ukraine, Finland, Denmark, Poland, and Israel).
This Grammy performance some forty years ago will live in infamy. With all due respect to Fred Astaire and Mikhail Baryshnikov, we had not witnessed a live, televised event where the performer ‘glided on ice.’ My favorite YouTube twins had never seen this Billie Jean performance from Michael Jackson, and their reaction is great. Only my friends RP and S² can moonwalk as well as MJ. You can skip to the 1:45 and 6:20 minute marks to watch Michael do his thing.
Veterans Day is a federal holiday in the United States observed annually on November 11, for honoring military veterans of the United States Armed Forces. The Veteran’s Day holiday was observed this past Friday, and to all veterans: praise, honor, admiration, and thank you.
Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a Funday Sunday.
Are There Other Ways To Slow Inflation? Things Are Bubbling Up. Mark Knopfler.
It is time to pay attention, and I am not referring to Tuesday’s midterm elections. What I am referring to is the various economic news and information we are unfortunately consuming. Turn on any news program, whether it be on your television, radio, or social media, and the words inflation, the Federal Reserve, and the infamous federal funds rate are mentioned and discussed with incessant and non-stop blabber.
I mentioned some economic news last week regarding the Fed’s efforts to curb inflation. I questioned the rising federal funds rate, which is the interest rate that banks charge each other to borrow or lend excess reserves overnight. The Fed’s objective with raising the federal funds rate is to curb the consumption of goods, and by all accounts their actions to slow down consumption with interest rate management is working. Unfortunately, the rise in rates is not without negative vibes within many sectors including the housing and automobile business.
I wanted to level set why all of this federal rate activity has been instituted, and the word of the day is inflation. Inflation is defined as the sustained increase of the price level (i.e.: just compare food prices at your grocery store since the beginning of the year). When we hear “rate of inflation” it refers to the change in price levels over a period of time. When the price levels rise, our currency buys fewer goods and services – so in layman’s terms, inflation reflects a reduction in our purchasing power. The result of the inflation we have experienced is that we are forced to spend more and our cost-of-living increases over time. The cause and effect of higher interest rates has a trickle-down effect to us as consumers, as we theoretically must slow down our spending, which in turn the Fed hopes will curb inflation.
A high rate of consumption by us drives demand for goods and services which in essence drives up inflation. Last week I questioned the Fed’s rate hike tactics and questioned if there were other ways inflation could be slowed. The Fed raised the federal funds rate again last week, another 0.75 percentage points as part of its ongoing effort to fight inflation. This sums up the situation we find ourselves in: “A fourth consecutive rate hike of 0.75 percent – after going 28 years without one that large – speaks to the urgency of the Fed’s task,” says Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate chief financial analyst. “They were late to acknowledge inflation, late to wind down stimulus, late to start raising rates, and late to ramp up rate hikes in a meaningful way. They’re still playing catch-up against inflation that continues to run near 40-year highs.”
What does all of this mean for us? Borrowing money. As mentioned last week, rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages have climbed above 7 percent for the first time since 2008. Mortgage demand from homebuyers is half of what it was one year ago. Pending home sales have plunged 31% from a year ago to their lowest level since 2010. Car loans: Forecasters lowered their expectations for 2022 U.S. auto sales yet again to just 13.7 million new cars and trucks, down about 9% vs. 15 million in 2021, and down almost 20% vs. 17.1 million, in pre-COVID 2019.
Are there other ways to curb inflation other than systemic Fed rate hikes? Terms like supply-side economics, Keynesian theory, trickle-down effect, and Reaganomics come to mind but I do not have the bandwidth to analyze those tactics and policies. The good news is that there are many of you who do have the financial and economic background to do so, and your comments are welcome. Richie, you are one of them, so please chime in.
Did you win the $1.6 billion Powerball jackpot? Do tell.
Has it always been this way, or does it seem like many parts of our planet are bubbling up and tense with conflict? North Korea firing missiles over South Korea, Pakistan on the verge of civil war, Iran sending drones to Russia, Russia and Putin in Ukraine, Myanmar’s civil war, Haiti’s continued instability, and many others including Sudan’s political uprising amid drought and conflict. The ability of media coverage to span the globe and create and distribute content on-demand has obviously alerted all of us to worldwide issues, but it does seem like global conflicts are on the continued rise.
Twenty weeks. I cannot wait for March 12, 2023.
They have always been a top-five band for me. Formed in 1977, this British rock band brought us a combination of sound, including folk, blues, and country. Mark Knopfler’s guitar skills are renowned, with his ability to combine a smooth style with “picking” which is often aligned with blues and country. Most of us remember their hit single, “Sultans of Swing” but the video below shows off Knopfler’s abilities at his best. The band: Dire Straits.
Adios, pay if forward, be safe, and have a Funday Sunday!
Has The Fed Gone Overboard With Rate Hikes? An Unfortunate Decision And Venue. Daylight Savings Time. A Very Good Autobiography. Halloween Ends. Legends.
Back in the year 2001, we were all relatively happy that mortgage rates were hovering around 7%. We are not smiling now. Mortgage rates have more than doubled since the beginning of the year, as the Federal Reserve pursues an aggressive path of interest rate hikes to rein in high inflation. To the Fed: you may want to check your tactics with interest rate hikes as CNBC is reporting that mortgage demand from homebuyers is half of what it was one year ago. Pending home sales have plunged 31% from a year ago to their lowest level since 2010.
The Headline of the Week: FDA Warns Against Using NyQuil As A Chicken Marinade.
There are three weeks until the most commercialized sporting event on earth. The World Cup, hosted by the country of Qatar, has the attention of many around the world and some of that attention is not exactly positive. Netflix’s timing of this documentary provides an in depth look at FIFA, the governing body of football, and some very interesting insight into the how’s and why’s Qatar was selected as the host. The documentary premiers on Netflix on November 9 with the opening game of the World Cup on November 20.
Eat of the Week: My mother would make this about once a month, and now my daughter has perfected her recipe. It is cornflake chicken, and if you have never tried it, you should. Dipping chicken breasts or thighs into buttermilk and then coating the chicken with cornflakes…need I say more? Fantastic.
“Hello Darkness, my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again.” Darkness is really not my friend as next Sunday, November 6, marks the end of daylight savings time. Eighteen weeks of darkness settling upon us at around 5:30PM. Does anyone really like the end of daylight savings time?
I just finished “Bibi”, Benjamin Netanyahu’s eye-opening autobiography. Detailed and colorful, Netanyahu’s life and career provides an account of his life, family, Israel, and the geopolitics of the Middle East. Not that I was fully aware, but Netanyahu accounts and describes the turbulent relationships and negotiations with Presidents Clinton, Obama, and Trump. I highly recommend this read.
He first made an appearance in 1978, and at the beginning of the original Halloween, the young boy does in his teenage sister. Years later, he escapes Smith’s Grove Sanitarium and returns to his hometown in Illinois. He never stops stalking his teenage babysitter who is played by Jamie Lee Curtis. The story really begins there, but does it really end with Halloween Ends, now out in a theater near you? I know what all of you are thinking: “Who the heck goes to see these movies?” The answer is many, as the movie has grossed $716 million in the U.S. and $1.48 billion worldwide. That infamous music in the trailer is enough to make you uncomfortable, nevermind Michael Myers roaming the streets. Jamie Lee Curtis is back and she is not happy.
A legacy of rock and roll has passed on. The Beatles, Elton John, and other artists have said that his tone and timing, as well as his ability to make the piano a percussion instrument, greatly influenced their performances. RIP Jerry Lee Lewis.
We also lost former University of Georgia football coach and athletic director Vince Dooley on Friday of last week. A member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Dooley led the UGA program for twenty-five years, with the Bulldogs going 201-77-10 along with the 1980 National Championship and six SEC championships. Another legend – RIP Coach Dooley.
Adios, pay it forward, be safe and have a Funday Sunday!
Watch Out For Jackson State Football. Who Knew About A Horse’s Ass? Privacy Is In Order. Don’t Go Politics With Ukraine. You Have Nothing Without Trust.
It is a bit difficult to have followed the University of Georgia football program for a very long time and be a big fan of a former Florida State University player. The reality is that this super athlete went on to play for the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League and the Atlanta Braves of Major League Baseball. He had defining moments as both a college and professional athlete, with speed and skills limited to only a few. Though his athletic prowess is well-documented, what Deion Sanders is doing right now with the Jackson State University football program is amazing. He was on 60 Minutes last Sunday night and his dedication, passion, and commitment is far-reaching from what he did on the football field and baseball diamond. Take thirteen minutes out of your day and listen to Deion Sanders.
I read this short piece last week and found it interesting. Why is the distance between railroad tracks associated with the Roman Empire? Thank you to the person who posted this on LinkedIn.
The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That’s an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used? Well, because that’s the way they built them in England, and English engineers designed the first US railroads. Why did the English build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the wagon tramways, and that’s the gauge they used. So, why did ‘they’ use that gauge then? Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they had used for building wagons, which used that same wheel spacing. Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break more often on some of the old, long distance roads in England . You see, that’s the spacing of the wheel ruts. So who built those old rutted roads? Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (including England ) for their legions. Those roads have been used ever since. And what about the ruts in the roads? Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match or run the risk of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for Imperial Rome , they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing. Therefore the United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot. Bureaucracies live forever. So the next time you are handed a specification/procedure/process and wonder ‘What horse’s ass came up with this?’, you may be exactly right. Imperial Roman army chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the rear ends of two war horses. (Two horses’ asses.) Now, the twist to the story: When you see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah . The engineers who designed the SRBs would have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains, and the SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track, as you now know, is about as wide as two horses’ behinds. So, a major Space Shuttle design feature, of what is arguably the world’s most advanced transportation system, was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a horse’s ass. And you thought being a horse’s ass wasn’t important? Ancient horse’s asses control almost everything.
Why are Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady’s marital issues top of mind with the media and pundits? These are two people who have children – why does this matter to anyone outside of their family and close friends? With every newsworthy story being generated by the economy, Ukraine, China, Iran, Russia, and the midterms, can we just give these two people a break and leave them to sort out their go-forward – with privacy? Please?
My friends and associates often ask me, even after numerous explanations, why I abstain from politics. There are a few reasons, led by my feelings that discussing (usually arguing about) politics is energy-draining. I feel stronger about my conviction every day, especially after reading this statement from the House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy. To be very clear, I do not care what side of the political fence McCarthy stands on. For all that matters, he could be from Mars, but this statement reinforces my disdain for anything that revolves around politics: “I think people are gonna be sitting in a recession and they’re not going to write a blank check to Ukraine. They just won’t do it…Ukraine is important, but at the same time it can’t be the only thing they do and it can’t be a blank check.” McCarthy brings the political divide in the U.S. to the forefront with this asinine statement. An ally and sovereign nation is invaded by Russia and McCarthy takes the low road to politics? Disgusting.
Eat of the Week: Freshly baked corn muffins with honey. Yes, my grandmother taught me how to bake when she would come over for the weekend. It was more than her famous chocolate chip cookies. It was different types of bread and cakes. Baking from scratch is cathartic.
I have had the privilege of contracting with and listening to many motivational speakers. Motivational speaking is no different than any other type of speaking to a live audience…you have no more than fifteen seconds to initially engage the audience with your demeanor, opening sentence, and appearance. If this fifteen second ‘wake up’ does not happen, my experience tells me the speaker loses the audience. He is a retired Air Force Lt. Colonel and F-16 combat veteran, having flown sixty-five combat missions. He has taken his Air Force experience and persona to find The Wingman Foundation and speak across the world. All of us can use a bit of Lt. Colonel Waldman’s advice and inspiration. This video is three minutes about his experience with trust, and it is presented very well. For more of Lt. Colonel Waldman’s videos, and to contact him: http://www.yourwingman.com
Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a Funday Sunday!
In a post over a month ago, I ranted about Alex Jones and his money-grabbing mantra of spewing conspiracy theories and false news to garner a greater listening audience. I don’t know how the payments work but a jury decided Jones and his enterprise should pay $965 million to families and an FBI agent affected by his repeated on-air claims that the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax. Well done, women and men of that jury.
Not that too many of my readers care, but last week’s ask of the NFL and their Thursday night football debacles did resonate with many others. I suggested that the NFL make Thursday nights a bit more compelling with more competitive teams. I may have been thinking through this incorrectly as it may not be the teams competing, but the short rest period coming off a Sunday game. Here are some straight up stats, etc. from the last two Thursday night games: Two straight weeks the Thursday Night Football (TNF) winner has scored all of twelve points. In more than 102 minutes of TNF action over the last two weeks: Forty-one drives that resulted in 20 punts, 8 field goals, and 5 turnovers. The level of play in the past two TNF matchups are even more eye-opening after watching yesterday’s incredible college games with Tennessee’s 52-49 win over Alabama, Utah beating USC 43-42, and TCU’s overtime win against Oklahoma State. Amazon paid the NFL $1 billion to have exclusive streaming rights to the Thursday night games. I would think that Amazon is rethinking this deal?
There were hints last week of Vladimir Putin backing down a bit and possibly interested in coming to the negotiating table? Do not count on that, and besides, what is there to negotiate? Negotiate the fact that he has invaded a sovereign country and claimed territories that are not part of Russia? There is no negotiation here and there is only one way that this war will stop. Putin must go.
Is the U.S. government’s posture with China and their production of advanced semiconductors too severe? Sanctions by the administration prevent U.S businesses from sending processors required to run the algorithms…and the executive order requires that any U.S. citizen or green card holder working in China cannot work in the Chinese semiconductor industry or risk losing their American citizenship. I totally understand putting the brakes on China, but I hope the U.S. Department of Commerce knows what they are doing.
The headline of the week: “Bear 747 Overcomes Scandal to Win Fat Bear Week.” Yes, the Katmai National Park & Reserve has an annual Fat Bear Week contest. The park is somewhere in the hinterland of Alaska and the contest has been going on for many years. The other forty-nine states are concerned with inflation, international conflicts, oil prices, and hurricane damage, and the people living on this Alaskan peninsula are judging the best of the 2,000 bears that inhabit their national park. On a serious note: This was Bear 747‘s second title in three years and the 1,400-pound behemoth is now called “Bear Force One”.
The Netflix series ‘Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story’ – is anyone really watching this? The answer is amazingly yes, as it is one of Netflix’s most popular shows. I do not get it at all, and does this series’ popularity tell us something about the state of our society? At a minimum, does this series do disservice to the victim’s families? For you youngsters who have no clue about Jeffrey Dahmer, he was an American serial killer and sex offender. Between the years of 1978 and 1991, Dahmer murdered seventeen males, with rape, dismemberment, necrophilia, and cannibalism part of his sick method. The story behind Dahmer is enough to make anyone sick to their stomach, and this is one of Netflix’s top watches. Disturbing.
Go you Orlando City. They play at Montreal tonight in the first round of the Major League Soccer playoffs. Montreal is a very good team and even better playing at home. Let’s see if Orlando manager Óscar Pareja can devise a way for Orlando to advance.
We are thirty-nine days to Thanksgiving and 70 days from Christmas. Amazing how this year has just flown by.
Pickleball, for all the right reasons, has become the rage of participation sport. A smaller court than tennis, a paddle and a different kind of ball allows for longer rallies and fun tactics. It is fast and comes along with the camaraderie generated by tennis and other racquet (paddle) sports. I have played only twice but I am starting to think I might enjoy this more than tennis.
Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a Funday Sunday!
The Situation And Players Are Much Different This Time.
Vladimir Putin is no different than a bad dog. Now backed into a corner due to his military’s poor performance in Ukraine, Putin, now seventy-years-old, has voiced his saber-rattling threat of using all forces necessary to claim Ukrainian territories he has decided are now part of Russia. Most international authorities take his threat to include tactical nuclear weapons, the first threat of this kind since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The use of a tactical nuke would have prolonged effects not only in areas of Ukraine, but the fallout would most likely cross into NATO countries, provoking the NATO alliance to take action. Putin wants to leave his mark with his Russian rulership, and reclaiming territories of Ukraine is a legacy he desires. He must save face as his dictatorship will hopefully come to an end very soon, so how far will he go with the continued threat and use of tactical nuclear weapons? In my opinion, a bad dog in a corner never backs down, and neither will Putin.
The last serious threat with using nuclear weapons was in 1962. After the failed U.S. attempt to overthrow the Castro regime in Cuba with the Bay of Pigs invasion, Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev reached a secret agreement with Cuban premier Fidel Castro to place Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba to deter any future invasion attempt. United States’ reconnaissance planes, on never-ending missions over Cuba, discovered that the Soviets were secretly building missile sites that would be capable of launching nuclear weapons – a mere ninety miles from Florida and capable of striking targets along the U.S. eastern seaboard. The thirteen days of both political and military posturing is well documented, with Hollywood providing interesting insight into that tense situation with the well-polished year 2000 flick “Thirteen Days.”
To try and compare the situations sixty years ago with Cuba and the Soviet Union, and currently with Russia, I have listed the options the United States had with the Soviet Union’s Nikita Khrushchev during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I follow these options with a comparative take on what the United States and NATO can and should do with Vladimir Putin and Russia:
Do nothing: American vulnerability to Soviet missiles was not new. Newly placed missiles in Cuba made little strategic difference in the military balance of power. This is not an option in this day and age. Putin’s threat of using tactical nuclear weapons is not a “do nothing” scenario. The outcome of Russia deploying nuclear weapons in a sovereign nation has both physical and financial ramifications for Europe and the rest of the world.
Diplomacy: Use diplomatic pressure to get the Soviet Union to remove the missiles. I am certain that the U.S. and their NATO allies are using every back-channel available to open up communication with Putin’s minions. The issue is that Putin is both a narcissist and megalomaniac, and he has no patience or tolerance to participate in diplomacy. As stated earlier, Putin is in the ‘save face’ mode.
Warning: Send a message to Castro to warn him of the grave danger he, and Cuba, were facing. The United States has sent Putin warnings through diplomatic and military channels. Does Putin care about our warnings? The answer is no.
Blockade: Use the U.S. Navy to block any missiles from arriving in Cuba. Using U.S. land, sea, or air forces to stop the deployment of Russian nuclear weapons would be an act of war. Could the U.S. provide Ukraine with enough naval assets to take out Russian warships and land-based sites? The answer is yes.
Air strike: Use the U.S. Air Force to attack all known Cuban missile sites. Is the Ukrainian air force capable of knocking out all land and sea-based nuclear sites? Whether they can or cannot may not matter…they may be forced to do so.
Invasion: Launch a full force invasion of Cuba and overthrow Castro. This is not an option for obvious reasons. What is an option is for the Russian people, the oligarchs, and the rogue Russian naysayers to take Putin out of office, either literally or politically.
Putin’s threats, along with President Biden’s strange comments last week, are cause for concern. Putin’s bad dog demeanor means that he will never back down and succumb to political or military pressure or diplomacy. The U.S. is taking Putin’s threats seriously, similar to sixty years ago with Khrushchev and Cuba. One bit of evidence of how serious the U.S. is taking the threat: the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services just spent $290 million on a drug to treat radiation sickness. By the way, here is some really spot on advice from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): The drug needs to be used within 24 hours of exposure and recommends that people stay indoors for at least 24 hours after a nuclear blast. Thanks FEMA, I do think I will stay indoors for at least 24 hours once I see a massive mushroom cloud. Are you kidding me?
A few short takes for October 9, 2022:
I hope all of you contributed to the Hurricane Ian / Red Cross fund. We all know how devastated southwest Florida is, and there are many other areas of the state that are still under some level of water.
I would call Gisele Bündchen, but I now realize I am too high maintenance for her.
A special birthday for our friend L.M. – well done!
To the NFL: if you are going to continue to include Thursday night games with your schedule, please ensure the teams are competitive. Last Thursday’s game was a debacle. To Amazon Prime Video: I know the NFL is a monster to negotiate with, but when you pay them $1 billion a year to stream Thursday night games, you should ensure the schedule includes the best of the best.
The Major League Baseball playoffs and the fall season. Good fun.
Major League Soccer’s decision-day and the playoffs. Even better fun.
The concussion rules and protocol in the NFL must be dealt with…quickly.
The World Cup. The tournament, held every four years, is usually played during the summer, but due to Qatar hosting this time around, the tournament starts in forty-two days, on November 20th. I will be cheering on the U.S.A., Canada, and Mexico, and hopefully they can get out of their tough groups and advance to the round of sixteen.
Speaking of the World Cup, there have been many issues with labor in the construction of Qatar’s stadiums. I have discussed this in previous posts and hopefully FIFA, the worldwide association governing the sport, will step in and keep other host countries in check. With all that said, Qatar has built some very interesting stadiums. Al Bayt Stadium is unique with its giant tent structure covering the whole stadium that is named after Bayt al sha’ar – tents historically used by nomadic peoples in Qatar and the Gulf region.
Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a Funday Sunday!
After the disaster and devastation that took place last week, my will to be my cynical and sarcastic self does not play out. The destruction that took place on the barrier islands of southwest Florida, through Orlando, the east coast cities of Ponce Inlet and New Smyrna Beach, and coastal South Carolina is now estimated at $50 billion, 2.5 times greater than Hurricane Andrew, which devastated south Florida thirty years ago. I have no words to describe the combination of wind and water damage – and the lives that are forever ruined, or lost. I have asked before (the fires in California and the tornado destruction in Mississippi and Kentucky) and I am going to ask again. At the very minimum, get on your device and give to the American Red Cross. Hurricane Ian – go rest in hell. https://www.redcross.org/donate/hurricane-ian-donations.html/
For many people in Florida, there will be no sunshine even when the sun is out. Here is a tribute to all the people whose lives have been altered by Hurricane Ian.
Bill Withers. We all know this talented artist from his massive hit “Ain’t No Sunshine.” The often used trivia question from this song: How many times he repetitively sang the two words ‘I know’? Below is a salute to everyone in Florida from the great Bill Withers. By the way, the answer to the trivia question: Twenty-six “I knows” in a row.
Adios, pay it forward, be safe and have a Funday Sunday!
Go Ahead, Make My Day. Parents Not Parenting. The GOAT. Winds Of Change.
I am not going to be ignorant to the fact that poachers kill animals for profit. I assume this disgusting practice has been going on for hundreds of years. With that said, we have reached a new low. Earlier this month, three orphaned chimpanzees were kidnapped from the J.A.C.K. Primate Rehabilitation Centre in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The kidnappers have now demanded a six-figure ransom, sending a photo of one of the chimps with her hands tied above her head. It is time to draw the line. It is time for a no-tolerance stance, and time to throw due process out the window with people who abuse animals. Look at Hussein below – what kind of sick individuals would do harm to this animal? The answer: people who no longer belong in our basic society. In the early 1900s, over one million chimpanzees roamed the forests of western and central Africa. Today, that number has sadly dwindled to approximately 150,000.
After wondering what authorities could do to try and rescue the three chimps, I came across this video of Kintasha, a massive silverback gorilla weighing in at 550 pounds. These massive silverbacks are up to nine times more powerful than average humans and can run at a speed of twenty-five mph. So, there is your answer. Hire two silverbacks for way less than the ransom fee, drive them to where the chimpanzees are being held, and just let them loose. The crisis averted and CSI in the Democratic Republic of Congo would need to run DNA tests as the kidnappers are all of a sudden unrecognizable. Yea, I know, too much coffee this morning.
I will never forget being in a Marlowe’s Tavern, a family-oriented restaurant in the suburbia of East Cobb, in Marietta, Georgia. Behind me sat a family of four – typical for that time of the evening. The two kids, around the ages of 5-7, were up and racing around the table while the parents glared not at them, but at what must have been very interesting content on their phones. Screaming and yelling, the manager of the restaurant finally had to come over and tell the parents to get their kids under control, and most importantly get them seated. I know this parent behavior is systemic, but my sensitivity to these types of occurrences stemmed from my father, who had a zero-tolerance policy when our family was at a restaurant (which was not often). The no-tolerance carried over to me with my daughter. There were many times I picked her up and took her outside at restaurants – whether it was a Waffle House or nice Italian restaurant, as being seen, not heard, continued from my upbringing. Sebastian Maniscalco never said it better.
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have more Grand Slam titles, but no one has had the full attributes of Roger Federer. Federer played his last match on Friday after an incredible twenty-four-year career where he won twenty Grand Slams and 103 ATP tournament titles. He professionalism, demeanor, and competitive nature will never be replicated, as he earned the respect of his rivals, especially Rafael Nadal. Their competitiveness on the court was unmatched, very different than John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors, as the Federer -Nadal relationship developed into an off-court friendship which is relatively rare among tennis stars. As stoic and focused as Federer was on the court, the video below shows us the real Federer – giddy, fun-loving, and just enjoying the banter with his friend Rafael Nadal. Roger Federer – thanks for the memories.
They are from the 403rd Air Force Reserve and sometimes fly just five-hundred feet above the water. They collect vital data for the National Hurricane Center, providing the information needed for the forecasting of potentially dangerous storm systems. They are the NOAA’s hurricane hunters, which is a job not for the faint of heart. Here is a quote from one of the hurricane hunters on a mission two-years ago: “That was when the hurricane was intensifying from a Category 5 to a Category 5+. I felt like a feather in the wind that day,” Dunion recalled, adding, “I think we had about three to four G forces. That’s something that someone who’s getting launched into space would feel.” The next time you feel the need to bitch about your job responsibilities, watch this video…it should cork your whine.
Short and simple: Long live the king! Rest in peace, Her Majesty!
Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a Funday Sunday!