OK, this is a personal one.
For decades I’ve avoided school reunions because I wondered what in the world I’d have in common with people I went to school with 40 or so years ago. Other than being in the same place at the same time simply by happenstance what have we shared?
But this past weekend something pretty special happened. Let me set it up for you.
When I went to college, the rather backward college administration of the time was completely against Greek fraternities and sororities. They simply weren’t allowed. Period. No matter how often the administration was petitioned, the answer was an unequivocal “no”. According to the thinking of the time, only degenerates were in fraternities. And, on top of that, the college was in a “dry” county – but that’s a story for another time.
As you might imagine being denied what they desired didn’t sit well with a bunch of rambunctious college kids who wanted fraternities. So in 1964 two “men’s social service clubs” were created by some brash young students ostensibly to “promote social activities on campus”. Of course as you might have guessed, they were very thinly disguised fraternities. Like, paper thin. Inventive folks adapt to the reality in which they have to live. They called themselves the Squires and the Cavaliers. Unfortunately, a tragic car accident with multiple fatalities ended the Squires a year or so later. But the Cavaliers survived and grew. Pledge classes came and went and with them new members and new stories. The group literally became legendary. I had to chuckle, because the most oft repeated remark I heard this weekend was something along the line of “it is a miracle we all survived.”
In fact, we still are convinced “Animal House” was written about us. If you ever want to meet the real Flounder, I have his phone number.
Anyway in 1976, with a new and more enlightened administration, Greek frats were allowed and the Cavaliers transitioned into an actual Greek fraternity (one with which they had informal ties for years). That was the end of the Cavaliers as a formal organization and the end of an era. But for those who were members it was such a unique and close knit bunch that it was only a matter of time, and frankly age, that drove a core group to decide it was time to find each of us again and bring us all back together – somehow, some way.
In 1994, word went out that we were going to gather at the college for a homecoming game and then we’d have a dance afterward. I couldn’t wait. Years had passed and I’d wondered about these guys a lot.
As it turned out it was, well … ok.
It was all too hurried. Because of the full schedule of events and the fact that everyone was staying in different places, I really didn’t find myself fulfilled in the way I had hoped. It was a “hi, great to see you again, bye” type weekend. There were wives I didn’t know and, well, it was just too civil and civilized for an old Cavalier. It just didn’t do it for me. And it sort of confirmed my theory about school reunions.
After that I concluded that you just can’t go back and had pretty much written off any further reunions. But I had to admit a certain disappointment deep inside. With that decision, I understood that I had probably seen a bunch of guys I had known well and who’s friendship I still treasured for the last time. For most us, our association in the Cavaliers was about as close as you can get to the bond between combat vets without the combat. Forged in the joys and disappointments of emerging adulthood, the hell-raising and partying of young collegians and in the shadow of Vietnam, it became a true brotherhood.
Unfortunately I lost sight of that the last time we met and my disappointment caused me to turn away from future attempts to gather the clan. But as I mentioned earlier, age has a way of changing things. The focus on making a living and the trials and tribulations of raising a family slowly subside and you spend a little more time reminiscing. Fond memories of people and times come unbidden to your mind. And you begin to wonder again how they are and how they’re doing.
To make this long story a little shorter, I finally decided to give it one more try. This particular event was in its 6th year in Gilbert, Arkansas where one of the guy’s family has a second home that he opens up to everyone for that particular weekend [thanks Billy].
Gilbert, as you can see by the sign and the pics, is a very small and rustic town on the banks of the Buffalo River that lives mostly off the dollars of fisherman and kayakers and canoers. Once the season is over, it’s pretty much deserted. And, gazing at Main Street, you might have figured out the season is over. The quiet there is amazing.
In that setting, and with just the guys, we had the time to sit back and let it rip. It was perfect. The weather was cold and gray, but the brotherhood, camaraderie and laughter was warm and sunny. I saw guys I haven’t seen in 40 years. And there was an immediate comfort level among them that I hadn’t anticipated given my last experience. It felt like I had seen these guys just last week. None of the awkwardness you might expect with the years that have passed. We slipped right into the kidding and banter that used to flow so easily back then. The jokes flew, the beer flowed and the laughter bellowed. In fact, my ribs cramped up from too much laughing. The characters of my youth still survived. The personalities that I so enjoyed back then were with me again, and frankly I reveled in it (and yeah the beer helped – get over it). The time – 2 days to hang-out with each other – made all the difference in the world. No schedules, nothing to hurry too. It gave us the time necessary to reconnect with our brothers and to meet and begin to bond with those we don’t know as well – the guys who came afterward, added to the legend and kept the brotherhood the great organization it was until the end.
But there was one clinker in the deal – I’m not 19 anymore and while the mind was willing the bod said “screw you, slow down and make sure you get some damn sleep”. Heh … the good news is I wasn’t the only one.
All-in-all though it was a fabulous family affair where we were fed like royalty (thanks guys for the fantastic brats and burgers on Friday night and the to-kill-for catfish on Saturday) and treated like kings. So Toma, put me on the list, I’ll be back for “Camp Cavalier VII”. Thanks to all of the unsung brothers who worked so hard to make it such a fantastic and fulfilling event. And now that I’ve taken “Rassberrie 101”, I and the other “Goldies” are ready for the more advanced course (for the regular readers, that’s waaay inside baseball).
Sometimes you can go back.
In this podcast, Michael and Dale discuss Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize and health care reform.
The direct link to the podcast can be found here.
The intro and outro music is Vena Cava by 50 Foot Wave, and is available for free download here.
As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2007, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.
For Chris’ last birthday, I purchased her a brand new Auto-Ordnance M1 Carbine. And, for good measure, bought one for myself. Auto-Ordnance is a brand of Kahr Firearms, and their M1 Carbine is an exact reproduction of the first-gen M1 Carbines produced in World War II.
Well, almost an exact replica. The only difference between the Auto-Ordnance product and the original GI M1 Carbines is that the original rifles worked.
I ordered the rifles brand new through Turner’s Outdoorsman. On my initial look at the rifles when I picked them up, they looked fine. When I got them home, however, I noticed that one of the rifles had been improperly stained, with the cutout in the stock for the sling completely unstained, except for a big drip line of stain that had bled down.
This was a disappointment in terms of quality control, but not as big as the disappointment that followed.
When I ordered the rifles, I also ordered 1,000 rounds of .30 carbine FMJ milspec ammo from Georgia Arms. When I had both ammo and rifle in hand, Chris and I took them to the local shooting club where we are members. Along with the ammo, we also had both the factory 10-round magazines from Auto-Ordnance, as well as several surplus GI magazines.
The first problem we noticed that on one of the rifles, none of the magazines would seat properly, without slamming the bottom of the magazine with a lot of effort. The magazine release catch was slightly improperly placed, another quality control glitch, and one that was more serious than improperly staining the stock.
Once we began shooting, we quickly learned that neither rifle could be depended upon to shoot a single 10-round magazine without jamming, stovepiping, or other feeding problems. The GI magazines were hopeless, and the factory Auto-Ordnance were only slightly less so. The main difference seemed to be that both rifles would jam every two or three rounds with the GI magazines, while the factory mags jammed every 4 or 5 rounds.
In short, from the example of both brand-new rifles and factory mags, I concluded that the Auto-Ordance M1 Carbine is the most shoddily produced, unreliable rip-off of a firearm that it has ever been my misfortune to shoot.
I called Auto-Ordance to complain about the rifles, which were still under warranty, and telling them that I thought their products were completely useless. They offered to ship me two new factory magazines to see if that would fix the feed problems. And they told me not to use any GI magazines in them. I didn’t want the new magazines, I wanted to get rid of the rifles, which is not something they were interested in helping me with.
In view of my experience, the Auto-Ordnance M1 Carbine is a complete waste of money, and I strongly urge anyone interested to avoid them like the plague. They are utterly worthless for any purpose I can imagine. Kahr should be ashamed to produce these useless hunks of crap, and I will never, ever buy any product from Kahr again.
Now, I’m out 1400 bucks, and I’m stuck with two rifles that I despise utterly, and 750 remaining rounds that I don’t want to shoot through these non-feeding excretions from Auto-Ordnance.
By the way, apparently I’m not alone in complaining about the disgustingly poor quality and hideous feed problems of the Auto-Ordnance M1 Carbine. I ran across this thread at the Firearms Blog, where nearly every commenter has similarly bad opinions of the rifle’s quality, and Kahr’s poor customer service.
This really reinforces my opinion to steer clear of any Kahr product in the future.
The FTC says we bloggers are untrustworthy folks who might, *gasp*, try to influence people’s opinions for nefarious reasons, and not divulge all the payoffs, bribes, “promotional samples”, and other stuff we get that obviously drives us to be such unscrupulous shills. So I guess I better come clean about things for my prudent and judicious overlords at the FTC.
I was at Costco last week and they gave me a free sample of some cheese bread. I didn’t like it much. But they also gave me a sample of some powdered Acai berry kool-aid type stuff, and it wasn’t bad. Full disclosure: it was totally free. Just like samples at Costco always are, but I mention it just in case the FTC needs to know.
I got a new voter registration card, and I’ve been meaning to blog about this. See, we changed our land line to a mobile number, and that apparently triggers something at the election commission in Nashville to assume that we had moved away. So we had to fill out some forms telling them otherwise, and get a new card. But it was free, and I got it in the mail a couple of weeks ago. Do I have to divulge that the voter registration card was free when I talk about it? Better not take any chances.
I’ve discussed before how AT&T sucks toxic waste as a company. I have seen no improvement since I made that post. But I should disclose that they give me free stuff every month, according to items on my bill which have zero cost. Well, they say it’s free, though my $150 bill suggests that I’m paying for it in there somewhere. My son just got a free phone from them, because his old one broke, but we had to sign a two-year contract extension to get it, so I’m not sure if that counts. I guess I should consult a lawyer who specialized in FTC rules. Anyway, AT&T sucks toxic waste, and I’m pretty sure I don’t say that because they supposedly give me free stuff, but just in case I need to disclose any of this, I’ve now done so.
Do I have to disclose it again next month when I get my bill with the zero cost items? Guess I need to talk to my FTC law specialist on that one too.
I got a free brownie from my son last night. I was the best brownie I’ve ever eaten. Honest, and the fact that my son produced it or has nothing to do with that assessment. I think it’s because he used half-and-half instead of water in the mix. Anyway, I got it for free, and I’m telling you it was great, so this is my disclosure about it.
Oh, I almost forgot the most important disclosure! Two weeks ago, a wild turkey was in my carport. He seemed to be enjoying himself, so I parked in the front yard and left him alone. He left behind this beautiful tail feather.
I put up a Twitter post about it, so I guess I need to disclose the tail feather because that influenced my decision to put something on the Internet about the turkey.
In conclusion, let me say that even though I have a very large turkey living in my back yard, I think the FTC bureaucrats who created this stupid disclosure rule are even bigger turkeys.
I am still allowed to say that, aren’t I?
I‘ll be off the net for the next couple of days attending a reunion of a bunch of guys some of whom I haven’t seen in 40 years. I’ll probably be back up and running on Monday. This crew I’ll be with will most likely not have me in much of a condition to blog. I may pop in and throw something up, but right now, plans are to enjoy the camaraderie and the beer.
I’m sure my co-bloggers will pick up the slack.
See you on Monday.
I can only hope this is Obamamania cresting – the man has accomplished nothing in the 9 months he’s been in office and he’s given a Nobel Peace Prize for a fantasy project? If you think his narcissism is dangerous now, just wait. At first I thought this was an Onion headline, but nope, NYT:
The Nobel Committee announced in Oslo that it has awarded the annual peace prize to Barack Obama, just nine months into his presidency, “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”
Ye gods. And you wonder why the Peace Prize is no longer considered anything but a political prize.
I wonder what the over-under is for the number of times he mentions himself in the acceptance speech?
After it appeared there might be a possibility the US might broker a “final accord” following the meeting in New York, Israel is pouring cold water on the idea:
Israel’s powerful foreign minister declared Thursday that there is no chance of reaching a final accord with the Palestinians any time soon, casting a pall over the U.S. Mideast envoy’s latest effort to get peace talks moving again.
Peacemaking policy in Israel is decided by the prime minister’s office, and not the foreign ministry. But Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman carries significant weight in Israeli decision-making, and his is a sentiment common among confidants of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Or, said another way, Lieberman is only saying what Netanyahu is thinking. With all the happy talk coming out of the Obama administration after the President managed to get Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the same room in New York, you’d have thought peace talks and happy days were just around the corner.
Not so says Lieberman:
Lieberman told Israel Radio on Thursday that anyone who thinks the two sides can soon reach a deal ending their decades-old conflict “doesn’t understand the situation and is spreading delusions.”
What the two sides should do, he said, was to come up with a long-term interim arrangement that would ensure prosperity, security and stability, and leave the tough issues “to a much later stage.”
This approach runs counter to U.S. efforts to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal quickly. Obama has declared that establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel is a vital U.S. interest. Also, Israel would not find a Palestinian partner for putting off a resolution to the conflict indefinitely.
Lieberman’s view does not bode well for U.S. attempts to restart negotiations.
The non-negotiable point for both sides is settlements on the West Bank. Abbas won’t go to the negotiating table without them and Netanyahu refuses to freeze such settlements permanently. Without a resolution on that, there are no negotiations, and such a resolution seems improbable at the moment.
Apparently they decided to explore a global tax:
Bob Davis of the Wall Street Journal deserves a journalism prize for taking the time to read the recent communiqué issued by the G-20 countries meeting in Pittsburgh. He found they had assigned the International Monetary Fund (IMF) the job of studying how to implement a global tax on America and the rest of the world.
“The IMF assignment from the G-20 has been widely overlooked,” Davis noted. His article ran under the headline, “IMF Mulls Global Bank Tax.”
The “Leader’s Statement” endorsed by President Obama and released at the event declares on page 10 that “We task the IMF to prepare a report for our next meeting with regard to the range of options countries have adopted or are considering as to how the financial sector could make a fair and substantial contribution toward paying for any burdens associated with government interventions to repair the banking system.”
The term “fair and substantial contribution” is code for a global tax. Other misleading terms for global taxes include “innovative sources of finance” and “Solidarity Levies.”
Those that believe in the concept of “one world government” have been wanting global taxes for decades. The money would give them a completely different type of power – a revenue stream vs. having to rely on donor money. Note the “source” of the tax revenue – the “financial sector” or those “evil, rich Wall Street types.” Too easy:
While the global tax would affect the savings of ordinary Americans and be passed on to consumers, it is being packaged by the international left and its progressive allies in the U.S. as an assault on Wall Street and the big banks.
If you’re shaking your head and trying to push this off as some anti-left fantasy, try this:
Meanwhile, President Obama used his recent speech to the United Nations to declare, “We have fully embraced the Millennium Development Goals.” He left unsaid what this means. It has been calculated that this will cost the U.S. $845 billion to meet U.N. demands for a certain percentage of Gross National Product to go for official foreign aid to the rest of the world. Compliance with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was incorporated into the Global Poverty Act that Obama had introduced as a U.S. senator but which never passed.
A global tax of the kind envisioned in the G-20 document could help provide the revenue to fulfill Obama’s promise to comply with the MDGs.
Yes, he did introduce such an act, and no, thankfully, it didn’t pass. But we’re in an entirely different situation now than in 2007 aren’t we? In addition to all the other economy killers, our betters are “exploring” another scheme to loot almost a trillion dollars from the American taxpayer (and others around the world).
The most popular proposal is called the “Tobin Tax”:
One proposal, popular at the United Nations for decades and long-advocated by Fidel Castro, is the Tobin Tax, named after Yale University economist James Tobin. Such a tax, which could affect stocks, mutual funds, and pensions, could generate hundreds of billions of dollars a year. Indeed, Steven Solomon, a former staff reporter at Forbes, says in his book, The Confidence Game, that such a proposal “might net some $13 trillion a year…” because it is based on taking a percentage of money from the trillions of dollars exchanged daily in global financial markets.
And we can’t have that much money flying around not being taxed appropriately, can we? Not when it can fulfill a long held dream for some. Make no mistake – this is not about an equitable global tax, not that I’d support that either, but this is a redistribution of the wealth scheme, plain and simple:
What is driving the global taxation agenda is a Marxist view that the U.S. is exploiting the people and natural resources of the world. According to this perspective, international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and even the U.N. must be restructured and provided with new financial resources to supervise and manage the redistribution of the world’s wealth. The United States, being the leading capitalist state, has to pay the largest price.
Their attitude was expressed at a non-governmental organization forum in Monterrey, Mexico, associated with the U.N.’s International Conference on Financing for Development, that Christopher Columbus “invaded, destroyed and pillaged” the hemisphere and that a global tax was necessary to pay for the damage.
In his 2001 speech to the U.N. World Conference on Racism, Castro advocated the Tobin Tax specifically in order to generate U.S. financial reparations to the rest of the world. He declared, “May the tax suggested by Nobel Prize Laureate James Tobin be imposed in a reasonable and effective way on the current speculative operations accounting for trillions of US dollars every 24 hours, then the United Nations, which cannot go on depending on meager, inadequate, and belated donations and charities, will have one trillion US dollars annually to save and develop the world.”
Because all this
prosperity destruction is our fault.
Keep an eye out for this scheme as it develops. This has been a “progressive” dream for quite some time. They now have the man and the Congress to make it come true.
Apparently the funds were intended to be used for the improvement of fire safety in low-income and poor households (e.g. adding smoke detectors). But somehow or another ACORN managed to beat other grant applicants for the funds, by a rather wide margin:
Nearly $1 million in Homeland Security funding typically earmarked for fire departments has been awarded to ACORN, despite a clear signal from Congress that it intends to cut off federal funding to the embattled group …
It was one of only three such grants issued to the state and made up almost 80 percent of the firefighting money earmarked for Louisiana, prompting one of the U.S. senators fr-m the state to demand that the funds be taken back.
That Senator, who cited the O’Keefe-Giles prostitution sting as a reason for revoking the grant, was David Vitter. Predictably, thanks to Vitter’s problems with fidelity, his involvement evoked this response:
When asked how the money would be spent, ACORN spokesman Brian Kettenring issued a statement criticizing the senator, who confessed in the past to having used an escort service.
“Senator Vitter knows a lot more about prostitution rings than anyone here does, so we’ll defer to him on any matters pertaining to the videos attacking ACORN,” the statement read. It did not explain how the group plans to spend the Federal Emergency Management Agency grant.
Had to see that one coming, didn’t you, Senator?
Nevertheless, how ACORN was able to secure a grant making up 80% of Louisiana’s firefighting money from the federal government is an awfully curious question. Considering that Congress has been systematically defunding the organization over the past several weeks, and that ACORN has no firefighting expertise to speak of, one wonders how other more deserving applicants were overlooked.
One such group might have been the St. Tammany Parish Fire District No. 3, which applied for a $120,000 grant to purchase smoke alarms for low-income families after a January fire killed four children in a home that had no working detectors.
“We wanted to buy smoke detectors to spread to homes all over the community to prevent that fr0m happening again,” Chief Charles Flynn said in an interview Tuesday.
“I have no problem with not getting a grant, I’ve lost grants before,” said Chief Flynn, one of the fire officials who complained to Mr. Vitter in a letter.
“My issue is ACORN in New Orleans. Their mission statement says nothing about fire safety or fire prevention. It bothered me that ACORN got $1 million and there are so many smaller and bigger departments that have a need for that money.”
The Monroe Fire Department was the only squad in Louisiana to receive a grant and will be awarded $192,000. The Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s Office will receive $62,000.
ACORN received $997,402, slightly less than the maximum allowable grant of $1 million. A total of $35 million was available for the grants project to fire districts across the country this year.
This story just screams corruption with a capital “C”. I’m sure Congress will get right on that. [/sarcasm]
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The Washington Post’s “Capitol Briefing” breathlessly announces:
A health-care reform bill drafted by the Senate Finance Committee would expand health coverage to nearly 30 million Americans who currently lack insurance and would meet President Obama’s goal of reducing the federal budget deficit by 2019, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday.
The bill would cost $829 billion over the next decade, but would more than offset that cost by slicing hundreds of billions from government health programs such as Medicare and by imposing a 40 percent excise tax on high-cost insurance policies starting in 2013.
All told, the package would slice $81 billion from projected budget deficits over the next 10 years, the CBO said, and continue to reduce deficits well into the future.
That, of course means:
And the CBO report lends a huge political boost to the Finance Committee’s work: distinguishing it as the only one of five bills drafted by various congressional committees that meets every important test established by President Obama and key Democratic leaders.
— It would cost less than $900 billion over the next decade;
— It would vastly expand coverage; and
— It would keep Obama’s pledge that health reform will not increase budget deficits by “one dime” now or in the future.
Whooo hooo! Happy days are here again!
A couple of things to remember: In 1967, official estimates said Medicare would cost $12 billion in 1990. The actual price was $110 billion. And it and Medicaid now have about 50 trillion in unfunded future obligations. Secondly, the reason it doesn’t add to the deficit is it cuts Medicare and will force businesses to either pay an excise tax or drastically cut benefits for those who have what the elite have determined are “Cadillac” plans. Of course what that means is if you like your plan, you can keep it, but your no longer going to like your plan (because it could cost you up to 40% plus more to maintain that plan).
And then there’s this: I thought the whole stated purpose of this “reform” was to ensure the uninsured were insured. Yet the CBO report says:
By 2019, CBO and JCT estimate, the number of nonelderly people who are uninsured would be reduced by about 29 million, leaving about 25 million nonelderly residents uninsured (about one-third of whom would be unauthorized immigrants).
So 16 million US citizens remain uninsured. But fear not – CBO has figured that into the equation as a revenue raiser:
… penalty payments by uninsured individuals, which would amount to $4 billion;
Not to mention you could be spending a year in jail as well.
And those unfair “Cadillac plans” will add to that revenue stream as well (except, apparently, if it is a union plan):
….penalty payments by employers whose workers received subsidies via the exchanges, which would total $23 billion;
And here’s what to be really careful of when assessing this boondoggle that still leaves people uninsured (but does provide yet another law to put people in jail):
The proposed co-ops had very little effect on the estimates of total enrollment in the exchanges or federal costs because, as they are described in the specifications, they seem unlikely to establish a significant market presence in many areas of the country or to noticeably affect federal subsidy payments. As a result, CBO estimates that of the $6 billion in federal funds that would be made available, about $3 billion would be spent over the 2010–2019 period.
As the CBO once said on its initial scoring, this bill would have to run, unchanged, for 10 years for it to unfold, cost wise, as they’re saying it will unfold. That means co-ops, not the public option.
If the public option is included, all the savings supposedly found in this bill go out the window and costs skyrocket. And Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid say that the final bill will have a public option.